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Archive for October, 2012

Teapots and Tearooms – a tale of two tapes

22 October 2012 9 comments

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Hark back to 11 November 2011; two men met at a cafe for a chat over a cuppa tea.

Nothing unusual about that,  you might think?

Except that the men were John Banks and John Key;  leaders of two political parties;  campaigning for an upcoming election; and about 40 journalists were present to  record the event and report it for their respective media outlets.

The publicity stunt went awry when a recording device was discovered on their table, and Dear Leader was not impressed,

John Key remains intractable today about the teapot-tape fiasco, maintaining and repeating his line that he is a victim of a deliberate attempt by the Herald on Sunday to covertly record his conversation with John Banks. .

Continuing on from his defiance yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated on Firstline his stance against “News of the World tactics” and said he went to the police because it was “a matter of principle”. 

Firstline host Rachel Smalley, who has seen part of a transcript of the conversation, told Mr Key that hacking into the phone of a family whose child has been murdered, like the News of the World did, is very different to mistakenly leaving a microphone on a table.

“No it’s not,” Mr Key replied, “it’s an illegal attempt to get information and that’s the principle”.

“I have a totally clear conscience about what I’ve done, I think it’s the Herald on Sunday and the cameraman that may not have a clear conscience and in the end, they will have to answer to the police,” he said.

“There are many times where I am in a public place but that doesn’t mean I can be taped…I don’t care about the tape, I haven’t heard the tape but my recollection of the conversation was that it was pretty bland”. ” – Source

John Key was fairly adamant; he was outraged that he had been recorded without his knowledge and point-blank refused to permit the contents of the tape to be made public.  On 30 November he made his Royal Displeasure further known when the coercive arm of State authority – the NZ Police – raided the offices of Radio New Zealand, searching for copies of the “teapot tape”.

Further raids on other media followed.

Contrast Key’s wrath with his attitude toward the alleged video-taping of  his meeting with the GCSB on 29 January, this year.  In response to allegations made by David Shearer, Key responded on 16 October,

There was no tape, to say the GCSB erased it is a very serious allegation and he should put up or shut up, he should apologise.” – Source

Indeed, Key challenged Shearer to present the tape on more than one occassion.

Does such a tape or any other form of recording exist?

We don’t know. The GCSB says it has searched and “found nothing”.

But most pointed is that a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said on 12 October,

We are checking that there is no recording that GCSB made. ” – Source

Let’s re-cap;

On 29 January, Key visits the GCSB for a briefing. He makes some sort of speech in the GCSB cafetaria.

On 11 October, Key is interviewed by TV3 where he stated point-blank that he was unaware of any recording made of his visit to GCSB HQ on 29 January. (See: Secret GCSB recording catches Key out – Labour)

On the same day, GCSB boss, Ian Fletcher, states categorically,

The department has made exhaustive enquiries of its records and its IT systems, and can find no audio-visual recording of the Prime Minister’s visit to GCSB on 29 February 2012.” – Source

On 12 October, Key’s office announces that they are “checking that there is no recording that GCSB made“.

On 16 October, Key invites  the Labour leader to present any recording,  “and he should put up or shut up“.

This seems a remarkable turnaround for our Prime Minister?!

He obviously wasn’t aware that he was being recorded – and yet, after checking with the GCSB – is agreeable to Shearer releasing any recording that might be in his possession?!

This seems in stark contrast to Key’s anger at being recorded last year, in Epson – also unknowingly –  when he not only refused to release the tape – but called in the police to enforce his diktat.

Key was obviously having none of it.

So why the sudden change of heart at being unknowingly recorded in the GCSB’s cafetaria?

What happened between 12 October and 16 October that allowed Key to comfortably challenge Shearer to “ put up or shut up“?

Fairly bloody obvious, I would think.

The GCSB found the recording before copies could be made (otherwise it would have leaked by now); deleted it; and then advised the Prime Minister “that no recording existed”.

There is simply no other way to explain Key’s inexplicably contradictory responses on being unknowingly recorded on two separate occassions, only 110 days apart.

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Sources

NZ Herald: Bugged in the Act

NZ Herald: PM blocks release of chat tape

TV3:  Key reiterates that he is ‘teapot-tape’ victim

Dominion Post: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

TV3: Key to take staffer to GCSB meetings

Scoop: GCSB in the House on Wednesday

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First they came for Maori “radicals”…

21 October 2012 16 comments

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First they came for the “Maori radicals”, and I didn’t speak out, because I wasn’t  maori or a “radical”…

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Full story

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Then they came for the alleged cyber-pirate from Germany, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cyber-pirate or German,

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Full story

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Then they came for the botanists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a botanist,

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Full story

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Then they came for me, and no one else spoke out, because they didn’t give a shit either…

[Acknowledgement to Martin Niemöller ,1892–1984]

The raids on the Ureweras (and elsewhere in NZ on the same day); Kim Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion; and Graeme Platt’s homes all had one thing in common; a gross mis-use of para-military power in a country that has not seen such events since the Land Wars in the 1800s.

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If middle-class New Zealanders believed  that the Urewera terror raids (the terror being caused by black-garbed “ninja police”  on a sleepy little backwater village) was a one-off exercise,   then that belief was greatly misplaced.

The State attempted to depict Tame Iti and his colleagues as  homegrown “terrorists”, planning some mysterious, spectacularly catastrophic, event involving catapulting a bus on to US President Bush.  (I kid you not. See: Protest highlights terror raid case)

But no terrorism charges were ever laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, and the 18 defendents were eventually ‘whittled down’  to just four (one died awaiting trial). Those four were convicted on more mundane firearms charges.

Hardly the stuff of  Al Queda operations planning mass-destruction.

Since then, we have witnessed no  less extraordinary  events  in January this year, when more para-military  “ninja-police” in vehicles and helicopters, armed with high-powered automatic weapons, raided a mansion in Coatsville.

There has never been a satisfactory explanation given as to why such a high degree of force was necessary.

Recently, on 11 October, the home of botanist Graeme Platt (71) was raided by six carloads of police and Ministry of Primary Industry officials. Evidently the police and officials were searching for a tree ?! (Terrorist trees?)

It is rapidly becoming evident that something mad and sinister is happening to our once easy-going, laid-back society.

Gone are the days of  “she’ll be right, mate“. When is the last time you heard that phrase?

Now it’s more like a growing intrusion of State power.

Once upon a time, the growth of police power was justified by our politicians  as the fight against drugs and organised crime.

Since the early 2000s, that justification has been redefined as the fight against “terrorism”.

This is not just about the covert monitoring of New Zealand citizens and residents. We are now witnessing the open use of raw, naked,  State power, in the form of the Armed Offenders Squad and the Special Tactics Group ( formerly known as the Anti-Terrorist Squad) bursting into people’s homes.

These paramilitary forces – once used solely against drug rings or homocidal nutters with small armouries – are now being employed more and more in situations which seem hard to justify or understand.

It has been said that the raids on the Ureweras (and elsewhere in NZ, on that day) and Kim Dotcom, was carried out to impress our American cuzzies in the United States. Evidently, the boys in blue at Police National HQ wanted to show the FBI, Hollywood, White House, and anyone else who happened to be watching that we were ‘serious players’ when it came to dealing with terrorists and other assorted evil-doers.

In their eagerness to impress the Yanks, it  became readily apparent  that our politicians, police, and miscellaneous bureacrats have moved New Zealand to become a  mini-America clone; gun-happy and willing to use over-the-top force with or without justification.

The dawn raid on a botanist’s home, by six carloads of government officials and police,  in search of a damned tree, should be a clear wake-up call for all New Zealanders. The choice we face is fairly simple and clear-cut;

  1. We keep going the way we are; with excessive State power being used and mis-used; more surveillance in our daily  lives;  armed police raids on the flimsiest excuses; until none of us are safe and we end up living in a country that is unrecognisable and alien to our parents.
  2. We take stock of where we are with our laws and culture of State power, and declare that enough is enough.

The use of force shown in the last few years, I submit to the reader, should be sufficient to turn the stomach of all but the most ardent supporter of the fascist state. Unless New Zealanders are looking forward to living in a police State, it is my contention that, as stated in Option #2 above, enough is enough.

It should be the priority of an incoming government in 2014 (or earlier) that a full review of legislation such as the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002,  Surveillance Act 2012, and any similar laws, should be undertaken.

It is my contention that these two laws should be repealed forthwith, as they are abhorrent in any society that professes to respect freedom. It is further my contention that such laws serve no useful purpose except to create a mindset and culture in our Government  that there is no limit to the exercise of state power through the use of force against citizens who may come to the attention of police and bureacrats.

To those people who might be fearful in ridding ourselves of these laws, it should be remembered that no one has ever been charged under terrorism legislation and that the used of armed police in dawn raids has yet to be  justified.

We are simply giving the State – and it’s myriad of officials, bureacrats, police, spies, etc – the power to act with little restraint, as if they are authorities beyond public control.

Such a state of affairs, my fellow New Zealanders, is what it looks like; the germination of a police state.

In case the reader believes I am over-reacting, consider that the raid on Graeme Platt’s home was not looking for bombs, guns, subversive literature, Al Qaeda operatives, etc.

They were looking for a tree.

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Sources

NZ Herald: ‘Plant Nazis’ hunt for outlawed trees

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill

Parliament: Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Other blogs

Tumeke: NZ Police reassure country that they are the only gang trying to infiltrate the force

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Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Toru)

12 October 2012 3 comments

As predicted a week ago,

The Prime Minister has not been upfront with the people of New Zealand. This blogger believes there is more to come out, and furthermore that we will see some damning revelations disclosed to the public.

See previous blogpost:  Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Rua)

Now, a week later, it appears that further damning revelations are indeed starting to seep through the cracks, into the full glare of public attention,

John Key has contradicted himself – David Shearer

The Labour Party is claiming the Prime Minister addressed GCSB staff on February 29, and referred to the spy agency’s work on the Dotcom case.

That’s six and a half months earlier than when the Prime Minister has previously said he knew anything about the GCSB’s illegal spying on Dotcom.

Leader of the Labour Party, David Shearer says John Key has contradicted himself.

What we understand is at that John Key made a direct reference to Dotcom and GCSB’s involvement with Dotcom. That completely contradicts… that he had no recollection of being briefed.”

Mr Shearer says he is not making accusations, he is asking questions and wants to see a video taken by a staff member at the event. However he doesn’t know if the video exists and wants someone from the GCSB to come forward and give some answers.

If it exists, he says John Key should release the video to clear up what has happened once and for all.

“This cuts directly to John Key’s credibility, he keeps forgetting things.”

Source: TV3

It seems unlikely that allegations of a video recording would be falsified – it would be of little value to Labour to make such allegations knowing it could never be backed up.

And as Duncan Garner himself commented earlier today (10 Oct) – why would the GCSB conduct a seizure and search for a video on a hard-drive, if, as they claim such a video did not exist?

This issue has now cast serious doubts on the Prime Minister and the GCSB hierarchy. Something is definitely rotten here.

If that video surfaces – it will mean the resignation of John Key as Prime Minister and this government will fall.

National is Dead Party Walking.

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That was Then, This is Now #17

12 October 2012 2 comments

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John Key Youth Rates National

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Previous Blog Post

That was Then, This is Now #16

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National bleeding poll support…

11 October 2012 3 comments

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The latest Roy Morgan poll has National continuing to fall in the polls.

The “dead cat bounce” previous rise – due mostly to redneck kneejerk reaction to Maori water claims – appears to have been only a temporary respite for this lame-duck administration.

The poll results,

National Party to 41.5% (down 2%) – 50 seats

Maori Party 1.5% (down 1%) – 3 seats?

ACT NZ 0.5% (unchanged)  – 1 seat?

United Future 0.5% (up 0.5%) – 1 seat?

Total National-led coalition-bloc:  55 seats (?)

Support for Labour is 33.5% (up 0.5%) – 41 seats

Greens are 13.5% (up 2%) – 17 seats

New Zealand First 6.5% (up 1.5%) – 8 seats

Mana Party 0%  – 1 seat

Total Labour-led coalition-bloc:  67 seats (?)

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Without much doubt, National is on it’s way out – a two-term “government”.

The question is – how much damage will this inept, unfocused, “government” cause before they are thrown out at the next election?

At this point, the only thing we can look forward to is a by-election or a defection from the National-led coalition.

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Sources

National Lead Labour, But Support Falls Lowest Since 2008

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Jobs Summit: 2012

10 October 2012 5 comments

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1. Problem

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If we’re going to have to wait for National’s policies kick-in and create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us last year, the  rate of progress will be so glacial that continental drift will  propel New Zealand to crash into the Australian sub-continent before anything happens.

Oh well, at least we won’t have to fly to Australia to find jobs. We’ll just be walking across the beach to Sydney.

Unfortunately, that may take the better part of 50 million years, give or take.

All hilarity aside, the point that should not escape us is that National’s policies are simply not growing the economy and not delivering the jobs we need to reduce  162,000 jobless numbers.  Their obstinate  reliance on ‘The Market’ to deliver job-growth has ham-strung National’s ability to address growing redundancies and unemployment.

Bullying the unemployed – as Bennett has been doing with her bizarre “social obligations”, compulsions, and sanctions  – is little more than a vote-grabbing exercise for rednecks and low-information voters, but otherwise of no practical value in creating even one single job.

John Key’s much-vaunted “Jobs Summit” in early 2009 appears to have  generated only limited success, with John Key’s “darling” project – the Cycleway – not living up to hype for job creation,

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National clearly has no inkling of how to generate jobs.

Indeed, their own neo-liberal doctrine demands that all job-creation be left solely up to ‘The Marketplace’,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

Although when it suits Key, he can be  unashamedly “Janus-faced” when it comes to whether or not the State has a role to play in job-creation,

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” – John Key,  17 November 2011

Indeed, Mr Key.

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2. Solution

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It is patently obvious to all but the most partisan neo-liberal National/ACT disciple, that the last 30 years of  “orthodox” market ideology has not delivered the ‘goods’.  Rogernomics/Market economy/crony capitalism  – call it what you will – has failed at nearly every level.

Only a few have benefitted,

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Full pathetic story

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The EPMU (Engineer Printing Manufacturers Union) is not waiting around for John Key and National to get of their chuffs and act.

They have called for a summit, to be held this Friday (12 October), in Auckland.

EPMU national secretary, Bill Newson, said,

No one who has seen the mass redundancies of recent months or the numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia can be unaware of the deepening jobs crisis in this country and the need for a new approach.

“Every day we’re seeing redundancies and the impact these have on communities all over New Zealand. At the same time we’re talking to employers who tell us they don’t want to lay people off and are looking for any support they can get to keep people in jobs.

“The common thread through all of these redundancies is the hands-off approach of the last 30 years, which says the Government should keep out of the economy, leave our exchange rate to be set by speculators and accept the decline of manufacturing in this country as somehow inevitable.

“Our union is part of a growing consensus that the hands-off approach to the economy is broken and we need the Government to step up and support our manufacturing sector and the jobs it provides.

“There are alternatives, and as a country we need to discuss them. This summit is about bringing together the new consensus and we welcome anyone interested in the future of our country to join us in planning a new way forward.”

See: EPMU calls summit to tackle jobs crisis

See: EPMU call urgent meeting to tackle job crisis

Those invited to the Summit include,

  • Russel Norman, Green Party co-leader
  •  David Parker, Labour’s finance spokesperson
  • Winston Peters, NZ First leader
  • Peter Conway, NZ  Council of Trade Unions
  • Nick Inskip, Heavy Engineering Research Association
  • Selwyn Pellett, technology entrepreneur
  • John Walley, NZ Manufacturers & Exporters Association
  • Hugh Whitaker, University of Auckland

This is a good start and is something that the next incoming government should take on board and run with.

But rather than a “talkfest” and propaganda exercise, such as National’s 2009 exercise-in-futility, a real New Zealand Summit should include representatives from all industry groups, Iwi, trade unions, and other community, business, and activist representatives.

A real New Zealand Summit should have firm targets to address, with a committment from a new government to find solutions.

Such a Summit must have, as it’s priorities,

  1. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
  2. Elimination of child poverty
  3. Economic growth with entrenched  environmental conservation

As a society we  need to reappraise our values, our goals, and what sort of nation we want for ourselves and our children.

Do we want to live as a highly individualistic “society” of  minimal taxation; minimal social and state services; a greater degree of user pays; and where those left behind rely on struggling charities to survive? And where jobs and services are left purely for Market Forces to deliver?

Or do we want a more cohesive society where we pay sufficient taxation to deliver comprehensive social and state services; where we do not tolerate child poverty and adopt a collective responsibility to assisting those who need it? And where the State, Business, and Unions work together to deliver jobs; good wages; a productive economy with sensible investment/monetary policies; and where the environment is considered our #1 wealth asset?

We need to ask ourselves ,

  • Why is it acceptable to provide vast amounts of electricity to the Rio Tinto/Tiwai aluminium smelter at vastly subsidised prices – and yet our nation opposes subsidised electricity to New Zealand families and retirees?
  • Why is it acceptable to give the movie industry a $100 million tax break to produce fantasy films here – whilst at the same time objecting to a $4-$20 million dollar programme to provide healthy meals in schools for our children who face the harsh reality of poverty?
  • Why is it suddenly necessary that we need overseas investment and foreign “expertise” in our farms – when we lead the world in dairying and agriculture? Why are New Zealanders investing in housing speculation – forcing farmers and businesspeople tro look overseas for investment?
  • How is it we can produce the cleanest, safest food in hygenically maintained factories – and yet we foul our riverways and lakes to the point where many are no longer safe to swim in?
  • Where is the logic of allowing our Dollar to be speculated on by overseas money traders; investment bankers; and outright crooks – and it’s our workers who have to pay the price by losing their jobs when our exporters are no longer able to sell their goods overseas?
  • Why do we have a crisis in housing in this country, and then to top it off, our skilled tradesmen and women head off to Australia?
  • Why are our young folk not in education, employment, or training – with rising joblessness and hopelessness – and then 1 million of us vote for a government that has no solution except to use sanctions to take away what little money they have? And then we wonder where crime, poverty, and lack of hope springs from?

These are a few critical problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) , and it is high time we addressed them instead of opting for soft-options such as unaffordable tax cuts and blaming the unemployed for daring to be unemployed.

Being adrift on the vast sea of ‘Market Forces’ and “muddling through” is no longer acceptable.

Electing inept governments that rely more on ideology than common sense will no longer be of any benefit to us.

Personally speaking, if National wants to participate in a new New Zealand Summit, then so be it.

But in my view, I consider them part of the problem, and their ideology of more-of-the-same is simply a waste of time and energy.

National is part of an unfortunate economic experiment in market liberalism and raw Individualism. They are as much a failure in outcomes as was the great marxist-leninist experiment in the former-USSR.

It took our Russian cuzzies 72 years to realise that their grand experiment in State collectivism was unworkable and failing.

Let’s hope we can make that same determination in only half the time, when it comes to neo-liberal capitalism.

I applaud the EPMU for taking the first steps in beginning a conversation that is long over-due, and which we can no longer avoid.

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Welfare ain’t broke – It’s the Jobs that ain’t there, John-boy!

10 October 2012 9 comments

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Or,

Jobs, Welfare, & the  Joys of a National “Government”

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John Key, being empathetic,

I have said before that I believe in the welfare state and that I will never turn my back on it. We should be proud to be a country that looks after its most vulnerable citizens. We should be proud to be a country that supports people when they can’t find work, are ill, or aren’t able to work.  ” – John Key, 30 January 2007

See:  The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All

The promise of National policies on job creation…

This is a budget that actually delivers that.  Treasury say in the Budget, as a result of this platform on what we’ve delivered, 170,000 jobs created and 4% wage growth over the next three to four years.” – John Key, 19 May 2011

See:  Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

The economic reality  of National’s “leave it-to-market-forces” policies…

New Zealand’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 6.7pc in the first quarter after the labour force swelled to a three-year high as more people started looking for work in what’s been a tight jobs market. The kiwi dollar fell after the data was released.

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. ” – NZ Herald/Household Labourforce Survey, 3 May 2012

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

A minister forced to admit the bleedin’ obvious,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.” – Paula Bennett, 29 April 2012

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

How National deals with  a stagnant economy and growing unemployment; blame the beneficiaries,

We will be introducing social obligations, so they will have to enrol their child in early childhood education and get well-checks at the doctor by enrolling with the local PHO. If you have kids, then you will lose 50 per cent of your benefit. That’s the worst case scenario. We hope it doesn’t get to that.” – Paula Bennett, 27 July 2012

See:  Hardline Key to rivals: Bring it on

After all, everyone (who votes National/ACT) knows that welfare beneficiaries – the unemployed, solo-mums, widows, invalids, etc –  really run the country;  hold the reigns of power; and create the policies that generate jobs.

John Key, not-so-empathetic,

But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills. And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.  ” – John Key, 17 February 2011

See:  Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

National’s view on unemployment,

But as a country, we need to have a hard look at where the welfare system has got to. I don’t think our welfare system today is what its architects had in mind.  That’s why National has a new approach to reduce long-term benefit dependency. ” – John Key, 15 August 2011

See: Building a more effective welfare system

An unemployed person’s view on unemployment,

It’s just so tough out there at the moment. I do have limited experience. I’ve only had one reply from my ads but a few people have rung about my sign on my fence. They think I’m offering work though … there is next to nothing going out there. ” – Jeffrey Rollo, 4 August 2012

See: Rotorua’s jobless at wits’ end

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SEEKING WORK: Jeffrey Rollo has put a sign up on his front fence and placed advertisements in The Daily Post looking for a job after being laid off a month ago.

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Is this a welfare “problem” – or a lack-of-jobs problem? Who do you believe? John Key or Jeffrey Rollo?

Which begs the questions – will National’s welfare “reforms” create jobs? Will it put Jeffrey Rollo into work?

Will youth rates help Jeffrey Rollo into work?

Will an employer hire Jeffrey Rollo at $13.50 an hour – or an 18 year old at $10.80 an hour?

Who get’s a job that 150 other people will also be applying for?

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Full tragic story

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The answers are fairly obvious.

Exporting jobs to places like China will not create jobs. We end up paying our own workers to rot on the unemployment scrapheap.

Welform “reforms” will not create jobs. Welfare is not “broke”, and is operating as it should, saving people from starving to death.

Youth rates will not create jobs. It simply shifts the few remaining deck chairs around ‘S.S. New Zealand’.

It is time to invest in jobs in our own country.  Blindingly obvious, I would’ve thought.

Unfortunately, as events are now unfolding, it appears that we will have to wait for a change of government that will be job-creation-friendly.

Addendum

The Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter will be released on 8 November.

 

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