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Archive for April, 2013

Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission – *UP-DATE*

30 April 2013 5 comments

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Continued from: Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission

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Commerce commission logo

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On 1 April (not an April Fools Joke) this year, this blogger laid a complaint with the NZ Commerce Commission, regarding National’s dealings with Mighty River Power and Rio Tinto’s Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter.

The complain was as follows,

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Tony Ryall has recently announced that the NZ Government is intervening directly in negotiations between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto (which is 80% owner of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter).

Mr Ryall has said,

“With this in mind, the Government has been in contact with Pacific Aluminium’s international parent company Rio Tinto this week to discuss helping to bridge the gap in their positions over the short to medium term, if this could be of assistance in concluding an agreement.

“In the meantime, we understand Meridian’s existing contract with Pacific Aluminium remains in place at least until 1 January 2016 with significant financial and other obligations beyond that.”

Ryall added that “all relevant information – including about the smelter electricity contract – will be reflected in the Mighty River Power offer document which is currently being finalised”.

Source: NZ Herald, Govt steps in to sort out stalled Tiwai power deal ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10874174)

I therefore submit the following;

(1) This appears to be a prima facie case of the NZ Government manipulating the future stock price of Mighty River Power (and other state owned powercos), by offering a subsidy to Rio Tinto.

(2) This subsidy is not available to any other company nor individual.

(3) As such, I submit that the NZ Government’s intention to subsidise electricity that is provided to Rio Tinto is done with a view to reduce competition in the market.

Specifically, I draw the Commission’s attention to the Commerce Act 1986; sections 27, 30, and related clauses.

(4) Furthermore, I submit that if any other corporation, company, institution, or individual attempted such an act, that they would be deemed to be guilty of price fixing and manipulation of the market.

I await your response and thank you for your consideration of my complaint.

-Frank Macskasy

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Being somewhat naive, I believed that attempting to  instigate events, that would keep the price of shares for a specific company at an inflated value,  would constitute a form of manipulation of  the share market.

Silly me.

What was I thinking?!

The Commerce Commission replied four weeks later,

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from:     Contact <contact@comcom.govt.nz>
to:     “fmacskasy@gmail.com” <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
date:     Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 9:56 AM
subject:     282199 Meridian Energy Limited and the government

Thank you for the information you provided the Commission regarding the Government’s announcement that it will intervene directly in the negotiations between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto (owners of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter).  You suggest that this intervention would amount to price fixing

 We assessed the information you have provided and we are satisfied that the Commerce Act is unlikely to have been breached in this instance. Although it owns one of the parties to these negotiations, Meridian Energy, the Crown appears to have tried to meditate in this dispute on an “honest broker” basis. As such, the Crown probably would not have been in trade for the purposes of this exercise.

 The above is merely our view that no prima facie breach of the Commerce Act has occurred. Such a view is not a ruling of law, as only the courts can decide whether there is a breach of the Act. The Commission’s decision not to pursue this matter does not prevent an individual from initiating their own action.

 We have closed the file in regard to your complaint enquiry number 282199.

 Yours sincerely

 Katey Salmond

Commerce Commission |Senior Contact Centre Adviser
44 The Terrace |PO Box 2351 |Wellington 6140 |New Zealand
Free phone 0800 943 600 |Fax +64 (04) 924 3700
Follow us on Twitter @NZComCom

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One would have thought that by providing subsidised (cheaper) electricity to Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelter; for a short term period (as Dear Leader has stated:  PM John Key says fresh Mighty River Float detail due on Friday; may include detail on risks around Tiwai Pt closure);  for the purpose of maintaining a high price for Mighty River Power’s shares – would constitute a form of share-market manipulation.

After all, the point of the whole exercise was to maintain Mighty River Power’s share-value. As Key himself pointed out on 2 April,

“But obviously, for the number of people involved, the jobs, the impact on the local community and the impact in the short term on the electricity markets, the government would like to see the orderly exit of the smelter, or a long term agreement between the companies.”

Acknowledgment: Interest.co.nz – PM John Key says fresh Mighty River Float detail due on Friday; may include detail on risks around Tiwai Pt closure

In an ironic side-issue, it’s interesting to note that merchant bankers, share-brokers, Federated Farmers, etc, haven’t raised merry hell on this issue – as they did with the Labour-Green proposal for a single electricity buyer-desk, NZ Power.

I think we can see all manner of vested interests involved here.

Last point, Ms Salmond writes in her 29 April email to me,

The Commission’s decision not to pursue this matter does not prevent an individual from initiating their own action.”

That almost comes across as a sly hint…

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Peter Mazany: We don’t Need No Edukashun!

30 April 2013 3 comments

From the NZ Herald, on 26 April, Peter Mazany makes his case for running a Charter School;

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Peter Mazany - Charter schools 'vital' for some students

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Peter Mazany: Charter schools ‘vital’ for some students

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This op-ed piece sounds more like a self-promotional advertisement than anything truly news-worthy,

Our company Schoolsims NZ has submitted an application to start a Partnership School/Kura Hourua.

I and some of my colleagues have taught or have positions at tertiary institutions in New Zealand. I have received prizes for my work when teaching at the University of Auckland as the most distinguished teacher and as the MBA teacher of the year. I do not and will never have a teaching degree and without the partnership schools initiative, this opportunity to start a school and prove the value of our teaching and learning methods would never have been available. I am sure that some of the other applicants are in the same position.

We are working with about 50 schools and provide them with an effective form of simulation-based learning for NCEA accounting with a large computer-based component.

Our target is to double the effectiveness of teaching and learning in half the time and half the cost over a range of standards in NCEA accounting, business studies, and maths.”

Of particular mirth/derision, is Mazany’s statement,

I do not and will never have a teaching degree…”

He sounds positively proud of the fact he has no formal training/education in teaching!?

One wonders if he’ll be de-motivating his Charter School students to likewise not  seek further, higher education?

Why should children in Mazany’s Charter Schools seek higher education? Aftrer all, Mazany has set himself up as a role model.

But more chilling was this statement in his promo;

Our method can produce huge benefits in results, efficiency, flexibility, speed and cost.”

One can imagine the outcome of a regime that focuses on “results, efficiency, flexibility, speed and cost“,

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regimented school children

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This is education for our children. “Results, efficiency, flexibility, speed and cost” sounds more like an assembly line for pre-programmed automatons.

It will be a primary issue for an incoming Labour-Green government to remove all funding from  Charter Schools and to eliminate this bastardised, dumbed-down, profit-generating version of “education” from our society.

As an aside, I wonder if Mazany paid NZ Herald to publish what is, in effect, an advertorial.

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Hat-Tip

“Burnt out Teacher”, Man expanding business seeks wealthy partner(-ship school)

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Parekura Horomia

30 April 2013 2 comments

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Parekura Horomia 1950 - 2013

Parekura Horomia
1950 – 2013

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~ Our condolences to his friends & whanau ~

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Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session – part rua

29 April 2013 8 comments

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Continued from: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

On 27 march, Karl Du Fresne had a bit of a public melt-down over Radio NZ, complaining,

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

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He accused Radio NZ on being a left wing organisation;

But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.

Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.

Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Part of the problem is that National Ministers regularly refuse to front on Radio NZ to explain government policy.  An example this morning was typical of National ministers ducking for cover whenever negative stories hit the media.

The Salvation Army will be closing services and making staff redundant, as government funding is cut for critical  social services;

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Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services

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Cuts to services – such as provided by the Salvation Army – will hit the poorest; most down-trodden; people and their families, in our society. It would be like stealing coins from a blind beggar on the footpath.

All the while, National spends-up large on Tim Groser’s job-hunt at the WTO;

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NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs

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And National’s colossal spend-up on consultants and witch-hunts is now legendary;

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Consultancy culture' cost $525m last year - Labour

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – ‘Consultancy culture’ cost $525m last year – Labour

PM defends money spent on MFAT leak

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – PM defends money spent on MFAT leak

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The above stories all reflect badly on National. But is it the fault of state-owned, Radio NZ? Is the broadcaster “left-leaning”, as Du Fresne charges?

Or, is the reason somewhat more prosaic?

So, Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, was invited to appear on Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” this morning (29 April) to explain why funding for social services for organisations such as the Salvation Army, will be cut.

When Bennett was invited to front on “Checkpoint” – she refused. Instead she provided a written statement. (Well, wasn’t that ‘big’ of her?)

Hear: Radio NZ – Checkpoint – Labour speaks out against recession funding cuts

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Paula Bennett - not prepared to front on RNZ.

Paula Bennett – too un-nerved to front on Radio NZ?

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This is not the first (nor last) time that National Ministers have refused to front on Radio NZ. It happens with annoying regularity (with Dear Leader John Key being the worst offender).

On the other hand, Labour’s spokesperson on social issues, Jacinda Ardern, accepted an invitation to take part in the story.

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Jacinda Ardern - accepted RNZ's invitation to take part in interview.

Jacinda Ardern – accepted Radio NZ’s invitation to take part in interview.

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If Ministers like Bennett, Ket, et al, – whose salaries are paid by taxpayers – do not have the courage of their convictions to appear on TV, radio, or other media to explain their policies – then they are not worthy of our electoral support nor attention. They are a waste of space.

And right wing munters like Karl Du Fresne should have nothing to whinge about.

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27 April in Wellington – A Protest Against State Asset Theft (Part Rua)

28 April 2013 14 comments

Continued from: 27 April in Wellington – A Protest Against State Asset Theft (Part Tahi)

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27-april-no-asset-sales

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NZ, Wellington, 27 April – Under a clear, sunny sky and only a slight breeze,  the march pushed off  at around 2.45pm, with a police escort;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Following the police vehicle, the lead marchers, proudly grasping a message aimed at all National ministers;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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The marchers were in good spirit – knowing that they were on the side of the angels on this issue;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Labour and Mana  standing side by side. A portent of things to come after the 2014 election? (Or earlier, if this rotten government collapses, or Key has a Muldoon-“moment” and calls for a snap election.)

If the sale of Mighty River Power goes badly for the thieving Nats; or Ohariu MP, Peter Dunne realises that the government he is a part of is on a hiding to nowhere,  a snap election may be on the cards.

We can only hope/pray…

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Lots of smiling faces; lots of hope and optimism for the future of this country;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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A bit of humour from one of the protesters;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Aside from a couple of clowns who thought they were being clever (see dickhead on the left), we received good support from by-standers. Several joined the protest march – note the lady in the pink jersey on the right, who stepped off the footpath, and walked with us;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Bringing up the rear of the protest march;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Where there were smart-arses yelling desparaging comments, they were generally inarticulate boofheads. These four young ‘gentlemen’ yelled abuse, and in the process showed us the calibre of  right wing fools. No doubt they’ll become typical National Party (or ACT, if it survives) politicians;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Ngarie had so much energy, as she took part in the chants and had some highly critical comments of her own to shout. People were left in no doubt what she thought of National and our illustrious Dear Leader;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Near the end of the march; these guys may be at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, but they had a huge amount of positive, good nature and were staunch in their condemnation of National’s thieving of our state assets. When the poorest of the poor are politicised, the end is nigh for  neo-liberals and their fellow-travellers;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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The march eveventually wound it’s way up the entrance-way to Parliament. Note the senior citizens leading the way!

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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By the time the protesters had reached the Parliamentary fore-court, their numbers had swelled to around 500-700 (estimated);

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Some street theatre by Aroha Priest, giving us a glimpse of a chilling  future, where poverty has increased and homeless  street-life is the  ‘norm’;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Howard Phillips – Vice President of the Rail, Transport and Maritime Union – gave a rousing speech to the crowd, reminding us how many thousands of jobs had been lost over the last four years;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Peter Hicks – Tasmanian singer-song writer – and Marama Te Kira – local performer/songwriter  – entertained the crowd with good music, assisted by an excellent sound-system.

A fine sunny day; good music; and “giving the fingers” to the Nats – what could be a better day?

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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And Marilyn Head – from the NZ Nurses Organisation – expressed an excellent appraisal of how the s TPPA – currently being negotiated in secret –  will affect this country’s economic sovereignty.  Marilyn pointed out that, in the past, we were able to re-nationalise stressed  former-SOEs (KiwiRail and Air New Zealand).

Marilyn pointed out that the TPPA would no longer allow a New Zealand government the option of bailing out and re-nationalising a stressed ex-SOE (eg; Mighty River Power) and would tie it’s hands considerably. She raised the issue of trans-nationals suing our government; the loss of PHARMAC’s effectiveness; and secret overseas tribunals deciding disputes between coroporations and governments.

Marilyn said that the Australian government had refused to be a party to permitting corporations to sue them in  Investor-Government disputes – but that National was prepared to sign up to that accord.

Held in secret tribunals, it puts New Zealand in a very dangerous position. More foolishness from National.

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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And meanwhile, lurking in the background, was this character.  Perhaps waiting for the death of our economic sovereignty?

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Not if we don’t let it happen.

Aotearoa – it’s NOT for sale!

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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27 April in Wellington – A Protest Against State Asset Theft (Part Tahi)

27 April 2013 19 comments

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27-april-no-asset-sales

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NZ, Wellington, 27 April – On a crisp, summery day, citizens of Wellington (and some from further afield), began to assemble at Te Aro (“Pigeon”) Park, in Manners Street, to send (another) message to National ministers: Aotearoa is not for sale!

TV1 cameraman, with Police and protest organisers, together planning the march route and other  measures to keep people safe during the event. There was excellent co-operation between both parties. ANFS has a solid record for peaceful, non-violent, law-abiding protest;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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From about 2pm, the crowd quickly swelled from a few dozen, to several hundred. Ages ranged from young children, to the elderly.  It was interesting to note that over half the assembled people were in their 20s or 30s.

The issue of state assets belonging to the people, has become an inter-generational matter of concern and deeply-held beliefs;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Question. Will all our assets be gone – flogged off to investors from Beijing, Berlin, or Boston – by the time this young fellow grows up?  Will he be a tenant-worker in his own country – a country that was sold out from under his feet by venal, ignorant  politicians and a distracted middle-class?

Answer? Not if we have anything to say about it!

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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From the young, to the older. This is an issue that cuts across generations, race, gender, class, etc;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Some good sounds from the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Good representation from the young people of the Mana Party;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Plenty of good humour evident amongst the protest group. I wonder if Dear Leader would like this piece of art?Perhaps for a small sum donated to a worthy charity?

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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ANFS (Aotearoa Not For Sale) organiser, Ariana, addressing the crowd,

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Young New Zealanders who want what we took for granted as children ourselves; clean rivers and clean seas. Is this too much to ask from a consumerist generation?

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Simple messages on home-made placards;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Once Key and his cronies sell of our assets, what will be left for this young lady? And will she and her young generation curse us for letting it happen?

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Another simple, home-made message from a New Zealander to the government;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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A young socialist in the making? The struggle does not end here, nor will neo-liberalism triumph. Not whilst the young continue to bear the banner;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Another view of the crowd, listening to ANFS co-organiser, Francis, barely visible in the background (holding bullhorn);

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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I think a good number of people in this country would agree with these messages;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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A good message – and one all governments  should  consider;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Three staunch MANA Party supporters. Note the message on the placard. Aside from simple-minded Tory supporters, who really believes that power prices will fall, once Mighty River Power, Meridian, and Genesis are partially-privatised?

Will investors really settle for a drop in returns on their share investments? Yeah, right, of course they will… *pfffft!!*

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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A very clear message. This banner will lead the march;

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Valerie, addressing the crowd about the protocols of the march,

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Two cars  painted to promote the day of action. Using corporate-style vehicle-advertising – how cool is that?

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27 April 2013 anti-asset sale protest Wellington aotearoa is not for sale

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Continued at: 27 April in Wellington – A Protest Against State Asset Theft (Part Rua) – Where the march heads for Parliament grounds!

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Breakfasts, Brain-fades, and Bullshit

26 April 2013 2 comments

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Key met spy candidate for breakfast

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Acknowledgement: Dominion Post –  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

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The best response amongst the comments posted was this one, in response to a right winger trying to deflect on to Shearer and Norman,

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Key met spy candidate for breakfast - comment by Rodger Red

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post –  IBID

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Brilliant reposte.

’nuff said.

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Does the Soviet Pravda’s spirit live on as the Dominion Post?

25 April 2013 7 comments

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The latest  anonymously-penned, propaganda-piece, for the National Party, by the establishment media,

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Editorial - Key should consider MRP sale delay

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OPINION: An unholy mess. There is no other way to describe the Government’s partial asset sales programme.

With just days to go before the public offering of shares in Mighty River Power closes, the float is shrouded in uncertainty. Is the country’s single biggest consumer of electricity about to shut its doors? Will Labour and the Green Party be part of the next government and, if so, will they make good on their promises to renationalise the electricity industry by stealth?

Potential investors have no way of knowing whether Rio Tinto is serious about closing the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter unless it can wring further concessions from the Government and Meridian Energy. Likewise, they have no way of knowing whether Labour and the Greens will be in a position to implement their policies after the next election.

But, amid all the uncertainty, there is one certainty: the price the Government and, ultimately the public, will receive for shares sold in Mighty River Power will be lower because of the uncertainty. Immediately after Labour and the Greens announced their plans to establish a new Crown entity to take over the running of the electricity industry, shares in publicly listed Contact Energy dropped almost 10 per cent in value. A similar drop in the value of Mighty River Power would reduce the amount the Government hopes to receive for the 49 per cent of the state generator it is putting up for sale by more than $150 million.

In similar circumstances, a prudent private-sector business owner could be expected to consider the wisdom of proceeding with the sale in such an uncertain environment.

Perhaps John Key and his ministers should do likewise. The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price. Suspending the process would be a bitter political pill for Mr Key to swallow. He has made the partial asset sales programme the centrepiece of his second term in government.

However, political considerations should not determine the fate of an asset worth billions of dollars that has been built up by generations of taxpayers. The Government’s overriding concerns should be ensuring that taxpayers get fair value for the business and that as many New Zealanders as possible take advantage of the opportunity to become shareholders in it.

Neither of those goals are likely to be achieved while there is a possibility of the country being flooded with cheap electricity and the next government telling generators how much they can charge for electricity and how they should operate their power stations.

Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.

But, delaying the sale till after the next election would at least allow voters to choose which of the two approaches offers the better prospect of sensible pricing and secure supply. It would also allow time for the future of Tiwai Point to be resolved.

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media –  Editorial: Key should consider MRP sale delay

Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.

WHOA!!!  Back up there, fella!! There’s nothing “Stalinist” about this. It’s out for the public to determine and we get to vote on it. Having a single-buyer desk is as “Stalinist” as Zespri, Fonterra, Pharmac, etc.

Every time I hear abject fear-mongering like “stalinism”, I’m wondering what the writer’s  secret agenda is? Have  they no intellectual rigour in promoting a sensible, rational debate?

Is ‘McCarthyism’ the only knee-jerk response that the Right Wing has to Labour-Green’s policy on NZ Power?

This is a shabby way for a supposedly ‘respectable’ newspaper to behave. It is as “Stalinist” as the old totalitarian regimes it complains off.

I’ve put my name to a post on the messageboard immediatly after this so-called “editorial” . Will  the author  of this biased piece of dogma put his/her name to the editorial, I wonder?

The Dominion Post demands that all letter-writers to the paper provide their own name and address to anything submitted.

Funny how the same policy doesn’t apply to the authors of their editorials?

The “editorial” pretends to take a swipe at neo-liberal policies by stating,

Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.

However, pointedly it offers no constructive alternative solutions.

Why?

Because by condemning Labour-Green proposals for real reform, it undermines the prospect for meaningful change – whilst at the same time, allowing the status quo to remain intact. Every time a proposal to effect meaningful change is derided – but not offering alternatives – the neo-liberal ideologies remain unchallenged.

It is the same technique that the Right used in their campaign against MMP.

It’s a sneaky way to sow doubt in the public mind.

As for claiming,

“The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price.”

Bollocks.

It has no such thing.

As has been pointed ad nauseum, more voters voted against the asset sales than for it. 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.

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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

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* Note:  Whilst the Conservative gained no seats in Parliament (because of the 5% threshold), their numbers are included because they gained over double the electoral-support for ACT.

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Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

25 April 2013 14 comments

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

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New Govt procurement rules issued

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – New Govt procurement rules issued

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As reported by Radio NZ just recently, National has implemented  “new procurement rules [which]  will make it easier for New Zealand companies to win work contracts” by “making  the tendering process across the public service more consistent“.

On Scoop, Minister for Everything, Steven Joyce told the country,

We have consulted widely with the business community, and the message they have been giving us is they want a framework that makes it easier for them to do business with the Government.

Government procurement accounts for around $30 billion each year and comprises a significant portion of our economy. This new framework is user-friendly for companies, transparent, and is in-line with our international trade obligations.

Introducing greater efficiency and transparency into Government procurement will help us deliver on our priority of building a stronger economy and delivering better public services within tight fiscal constraints.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop:  Government streamlines procurement rules

Joyce referred to the process being more transparent.

Transparency is a good thing.

It keep everyone honest and prevents the advent of cronyism.

The question on everyone lips now, is (or should be), does this apply to our Dear Leader, the Prime Minister, Mr John “My Brain is Fading” Key?

Because as we’ve seen in the past, Key’s style of engaging with business has been anything but transparent. In fact, it’s been decidedly murky and dodgy.

In April 2011,

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Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

Acknowledgement: TVNZ –  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

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A year later, in April 2012,

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SkyCity deal was PM's own offer

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald –  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

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Key’s “dinner meeting” with SkyCity’s Board followed on from a revelation that David Fisher wrote in the Herald on 18 April 2012,

SkyCity’s deal over pokies in exchange for a national convention centre comes after three failed court attempts to expand its casino business.

It repeatedly challenged the Gambling Commission over its restrictions – so much that ministers overseeing gambling regulation have been warned about direct lobbying by the casino company.

SkyCity has not filed a court challenge since the National Government came to power in 2008.

Instead, it began negotiating with the Government in 2009 over concessions on gambling rules in exchange for building the $350 million convention centre next to the casino.

It wants an extra 350 to 500 poker machines, more table games such as blackjack or poker and an early extension to its gambling licence.

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison said the casino wanted to change the law so it could expand.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – SkyCity wooed Govt after court failures

The Auditor General’s report found,

Mr Key was personally briefed on options for the convention centre at a dinner with SkyCity board members and executives on November 4, 2009. At the dinner, Mr Key told them he wanted a bigger and better facility than they were mooting – to “think outside the box”.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – SkyCity ‘treated very differently’ in tender

The Auditor-General added,

“However, we found a range of deficiencies in the advice that the Ministry provided and the steps that officials and Ministers took leading up to that decision.

The quality of support that was provided fell short of what we would have expected from the lead government agency on commercial and procurement matters.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

So if challenges in Court could not achieve SkyCity’s agenda, their “Plan B”  was to invite the Prime Minister to a “dinner” function. What went on at this dinner meeting?

We don’t know.

Only the PM and Board members know.

What we do know is that SkyCity was given preference over other tenderers to build a Convention centre. In turn the law would be amended to provide an extra 350 to 500 pokie machines;  concessions on gambling rules;  and an early extension to its gambling licence – in exchange for building the $350 million convention centre next to the casino.

There is no transparency here, nor at the April 2011 “social event” with MediaWorks’ Brent Impey.

As I wrote lat year; 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!)

This year, it was revealed  that Key’s modus operandi  was applied to select the next appointment for the role of GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher,

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Key met spy candidate for breakfast

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

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Another instance of Key meeting someone with whom he had been having State-related dealings with. And as with other occassions, Key insisted that ” the vacancy, as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, was not discussed”.

Such an assurance is simply not credible, given that, as Fairfax’s Andrea Vance reported,

Three days earlier, Key had signed off on an interview panel for the job, which included then Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Maarten Wevers. Fletcher was the only person to be interviewed for the post, after a shortlist of four other candidates was rejected.

Acknowledgement:  IBID

One has to wonder how many other  meetings Key has had in the last four years where government deals have been stitched together; “understandings” have been made; and under-the-table agreements reached.

Joyce has said,

What Government procurement needs to come down to is who can deliver the best value for taxpayers’ money rather than who is best at dealing with Government officials and this is what these new rules will deliver.”

Indeed.

But does John Key know? And will these new rules apply to him?

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Previous related blogposts

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

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

References

TVNZ:  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks (8 April 2011)

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer (18 April 2012)

NZ Herald – SkyCity wooed Govt after court failures (18 April 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast (24 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  New Govt procurement rules issued  (24 April 2013)

Scoop:  Government streamlines procurement rules (24 April 2013)

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= fs =

Categories: The Body Politic

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

25 April 2013 35 comments

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

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.

To recap, let’s start with the Crafar farms deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

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Tahi: Crafar Farms/Shanghai Pengxin/National Government

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The timetime of the Crafar deal runs something like this,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd to buy Crafar Farms.

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

At least, that is the version for public consumption.

Recent revelations indicate that much more was taking place behind the scenes. If we take that timeline and add the revelations that have come out in the last few months, the picture takes on a murkiness and a hint on something decidedly shady,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

2 December 2009: KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED registered. (Then changes to ORAVIE LIMITED, 20 December 2010. Then changes to ORAVIDA LTD, 20 January 2011. Then changes to ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED, 13 May 2011. ) Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi.  (Source)

11 June 2010:  National Party receives $50,000.00 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

30 July 2010:  National Party receives $150,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

18 November 2010: MILK NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION LIMITED* registered. Directors: Terry Lee and Jiang Zhaobai. (Source)

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd  to buy Crafar Farms.

31 May 2011: National Party receives $100,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

22 July 2011:  ORAVIDA LTD registered. Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi. (Source)

27 July 2011:  ORAVIDA PROPERTY LTD changes name to  KIWI DAIRY INDUSTRY LTD.  Shareholder: Deyi Shi (Source)

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

22 November 2011: National Party receives $50,0000 donation from Citi Financial Group. Shareholders: Yan Yang and Qiang Wei. (Source) (Source)

22 November 2011: National Party receives $1,600 from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

26 November 2011:  NZ General Election

30 November 2011: National Party receives further $55,000 donation  from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

*   “Milk New Zealand Holding Limited”  is the official applicant and purchaser of the 16 Crafar farms. It is supposedly a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin,

” Applicant

3. The Applicant is Milk New Zealand Holding Limited (“the Applicant”), a Hong Kong incorporated company which is an overseas person under the Act.

4. The Applicant will register as an overseas company under the New Zealand Companies Act 1993 prior to acquiring the Investment. The Applicant does not have any current interests in New Zealand as at the date of this Application.1

1 The 99% ultimate owner of the Applicant, Zhaobai Jiang, has a [redacted]% interest in a company ([redacted*])that has applied for consent to acquire development land at [redacted] . No decision has yet been made on this application.” – Source

(*Note: Despite OIO redacting the second company, this blogger has  found that it is actually “NATURE PURE LIMITED“.  Terry Lee and Zhaobai Jiang are both listed as Directors.)

Despite numerous company name changes; newly registered companies; and a lengthy trail of shareholders, the one link that does stand out between Shanghai Pengxin and financial donations to the National Party is Terry Lee.

Mr Lee, along with Deyi Shi and  Xing Hong, registered KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED on 2 December 2009, which, after several name changes, ended up as ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED  on 13 May 2011. Xing Hong was also a one time Director of ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

Deyi Shi is still a current Director of both  ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

On 22 and 30 November, 2011, the National Government received donations totalling $56,600 from Oravida NZ Ltd.

A further $300,000 was donated to National by Auckland businesswoman, Susan Chou, who, through her husband Zhaowu Shen, had a connection with Jack Chen and NZ Natural Dairy Ltd – the first unsuccessful attempt by Chinese investors to gain control of the Crafar farms.

Two months later, on 27 January 2012, National approved the sale of 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin subsidiary, Milk New Zealand Holding Limited.

Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions from the facts presented.

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

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Sources & References

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

CAFCA:  December 2010 decisions

NZ Companies Office

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $30,000

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $20,000

Interest.co.nz: Govt Ministers rubber stamp Overseas Investment Office approval of Shanghai Pengxin’s Crafar farms bid

Acknowledgements

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: Chinese cash flows to Nats

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: China link to Nats’ $200,000

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= fs =

First blogged 28 April 2012

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

25 April 2013 22 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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= fs =

First blogged 23 April 2012

Colin Craig confirms he likes cartoons – Christianity is in safe hands

24 April 2013 3 comments

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The civilian

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In what can only be seen as  an own-foot-shooting, futile,  other-foot-firmly-planted-in-mouth exercise, Colin Craig today sicced his legal rottweilers onto the satirical blog, The Civilian.

Evidently, Colin “The-Fourteenth-Apostle” Craig didn’t see the humour in the satirical blogpost, Maurice Williamson looking pretty stupid after floods,  where the blogger  “quoted”  Craig as “saying”,

Williamson likes to talk about big gay rainbows,” said Craig, “but it would help if he understood what the rainbow actually means. After Noah’s flood, God painted a giant rainbow across the sky, which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry. And we have.”

Let’s be clear here; Craig did not make that statement and most people with a reasonably high-functing brain would’ve understood that.

It was satire. Humour. Make funny. Happy la-la’s.

So for Craig to take offence and instruct his lawyers to send a threatening letter to The Civilian’s editor, Ben Uffindell, kinda beggars belief. In short – what a f****n  dumb thing to do.

For one thing, this story  has now exploded  into the mainstream media, and onto social media. The story has ‘legs’ and been  covered in the NZ Herald, Fairfax Media, Radio NZ, Newstalk ZB, and probably elsewhere. (And it will be further raised, discussed, and mercilessly poked fun at, this afternoon on Jim Mora’s panel-show at 4pm.)

So rather unsurprisingly, web traffic to The Civilian has skyrocketed,

Mr Uffindell said the website’s servers had been struggling to keep up with the massive spike of traffic caused by publicity of the incident.

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Conservative Party threaten legal action over satire

This is the kind of publicity every blogger dreams about and  Ben Uffindell must be laughing with glee and thanking whatever gods he worships, for his lucky day.

Second point, Craig was quoted (?) in a NZ Herald story and stating,

I take these things pretty seriously. We are a serious political party and want to go a long way, so making sure that what is reported on what I have said, is accurate is important.

[…]

But when it comes to statements being reported in the public sphere … there is no room for humour.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald –  Colin Craig warns on satirical quote

“…there is no room for humour.”

Well, he’s got a point there. After all, how many people can forget Craig’s explicitly non-satirical comment when he labelled every young woman in New Zealand as whores,

“…We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.

Acknowledgement: TV3 –  Kiwi women ‘most promiscuous’ – Colin Craig

No room for humour there, I think. And when given a chance to apologise or withdraw that comment on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 13 May 2012, Craig shrugged it off with a typical rightwing cop-out, hiding behind the label of  “political correctness”,

PAUL  HOLMES:  “Anyway, the perception, I think, is that you blew it with that one bizarre comment. ”

COLIN  CRAIG:   “Well, look, I’m always going to be speaking my mind. As I say, I think it was a true comment. If people want a politically correct conservative party, then they’re not going to find it in the Conservative Party.

Acknowledgement: TVNZ – Q+A

Methinks there’s a strong stench of hypocrisy with Mr Craig having such a micron-thin-skin toward a satirical website – and yet has no hesitation in indulging in some casual misogyny slagging of every young woman in the country by calling them   “the most promiscuous young women in the world”.

Imagine if all 2.2 million women in this country instructed their lawyers to send a letter to Craig, threatening him with legal action for defamation?

For him, that’s “political correctness”.

But if a satirical website does it to him… *wags finger* “Tut, tut!”

The good news, folks, is that on Radio NZ’s  “Morning Report”, Colin “My-god-is-more-omnipotent-than-your-god” Craig  said,

Look, um, I know and people who know me think I’m pretty funny sort of a guy. I love cartoons.”

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ –

Colin Craig threatens to sue satirical website

Yeah, Colin, you’re a laugh-a-minute. In fact, people laugh at you more than you realise.

Clown.

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*** Update***

At 11:32 am this morning, Radio NZ reported that Colin “Invisible-beings-talk-to-me” Craig had withdrawn his threat of legal action because this “retraction” had been posted on  The Civilian,

This article is the subject of a legal dispute between The Civilian and Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig, which came about as the result of a legal notice that you can read in full here.

In this article, The Civilian published a statement which it attributed to Colin Craig regarding Maurice Williamson, “big gay rainbows” and the passing of the gay marriage legislation. We accept, upon further review, that Mr. Craig never made the statement attributed to him. We retract the statement and apologise to Mr. Craig for any harm we have caused to his impeccable reputation.

We would like to note that we have also taken the additional measure of bolding the statement in question so that everybody knows which thing it was that Mr. Craig did not say.

Radio NZ further reports,

The story is still on the website, but editor Ben Uffindel has written to the lawyers with a signed copy of the retraction and apology statement.

However, the letter is clearly tongue-in-cheek and is signed with a large smiley face.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Defamation threat withdrawn

*snigger*

Mr Craig, you’re still a clown. As our American cuzzies like to put it,  consider yourself ‘owned‘.

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GOD

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References

TV3:  Kiwi women ‘most promiscuous’ – Colin Craig (9 May 2012)

Radio NZ:  Legal action threatened over satirical item (24 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Colin Craig warns on satirical quote (24 April 2013)

Fairfax Media: Conservative Party threaten legal action over satire   (24 April 2013)

Newstalk ZB: Colin Craig goes after ‘The Civilian‘  (24 April 2013)

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= fs =

Marriage Equality Bill passes! First weddings due soon!

17 April 2013 1 comment

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rainbow rings

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History was made today when Parliament voted over-whelmingly to legalise same-sex marriage, 77 votes to 44.

Extending full marriage equality to consenting adults regardless of gender and sexual orientation was something that had to pass. No society can call itself civilised when it deprives some people a right enjoyed by others. Injustice cannot be allowed to prevail if we are all to live freely.

For those who opposed marriage equality, I say this; nothing has been taken from you, today. Your lives will go on as before. But the lives of gays and lesbians will have improved immeasurably.

For those people who opposed marriage equality on religious grounds, then understand this; your god is not everyone elses’ god. You may think so – but it isn’t true.

On a vastly more positive note, St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland this evening announced,

“To those in the lGBTi community who wish a religious ceremony, St Matthew’s will begin taking bookings for your wedding tomorrow.”

This is the warm, inclusive, non-judgemental side of humanity’s religious faith. Imagine what kind of world we might live in if all regions expressed such tolerant, loving belief.

To all those seventyseven Members of Parliament – regardless of Party affiliation and political beliefs – who voted for marriage equality; it was a fine thing you did tonight.  This is what New Zealanders can achieve when we work together to make something good.

To all those seventyseven Member of Parliament – today you have made history.

And to all you seventyseven men and women – thank you.

Sleep well tonight.

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Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests – Part Rua

17 April 2013 1 comment

Continued from: Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests

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Horizon Poll - Crown Mineral Bill - sea protests

Note: this header-image above was not partof the Polling Questionnaire in any way, shape, or form. Are you paying attention, Slater? Step awaaaaay from the computer terminal…

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The results for the Horizon Research Poll*, on criminalising sea-protests via the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill;

79% want sea protest law change reviewed or stopped

16 Apr 13

Credit: Element Magazine

79% want sea protest law change reviewed or stopped

Surveys finds New Zealanders uncomfortable with sea protest law change

Overall 79% of New Zealanders, regardless of their political alignment, believe a bill restricting rights to protest at sea should now go back to a Parliamentary Select Committee for more thorough scrutiny and public submissions or be dropped.

The Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill is due to go through its third and final reading at Parliament today (April 16).

The Horizon Research survey of 1,308 New Zealanders aged 18+, between 12:26 pm on 13 April 2013 and 10:30am on 15 April 2013, finds:

  • Overall, 51.4% oppose a proposed new law which would make some currently lawful protest activities against petroleum and minerals activities at sea unlawful
  • Support for the law change is 30.5% while the remainder are neutral or undecided.

The changes were introduced to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill 2012 in Supplementary Order Paper No 205 (SOP No 205). The proposals contained in SOP No. 205 were first outlined in a media release on 31 March 2013 and the Supplementary Order Paper itself was released on 2 April 2013 by Hon Simon Bridges – Minister of Energy and Resources.

Meeting as a Committee of the Whole on April 11, the changes won support by 61 votes to 59 in the Parliament.  The bill is now set down for its final reading on Parliament’s next sitting day, Tuesday April 16, 2013.

The Horizon survey finds

  • 49% of respondents were not aware and 51% were aware of the proposed law changes before doing the survey
  • Overall, 60% think the law change process has been undertaken too quickly, and
  • 52.3% believe the bill should be sent back to the Select Committee.  A majority of those who support parties who voted for the change think that the bill should be sent back to the Select Committee
  • Overall, 79% support either sending the bill back to the Select Committee or withdrawing it entirely.

The National, Act and United Future parties voted for the SOP in the House on April 12, Labour, Green, Maori and Mana parties against.

Q7. Thinking about the proposed law change, which of the following actions would you support?

TOTAL

Supporters of:

Parties who voted for the SOP

Parties who voted against the SOP

The bill should become law immediately

20.1%

37.1%

6.0%

The bill should be sent back to select committee for more thorough scrutiny and public submissions

52.3%

51.6%

52.2%

The bill should be withdrawn and not passed into law

29.7%

13.5%

42.2%

Something else should happen

7.3%

2.0%

7.4%

Support and opposition to the changes proposed to the bill are strongly aligned to support for political parties.  Support comes primarily from those who support the parties that voted for the changes; opposition largely from those who support the parties who voted against the changes.

Overall, however, a majority of respondents, regardless of their political alignment, believe the bill should now go back to the Select Committee for more thorough scrutiny and public submissions. 

There is general acknowledgement that many important environmental protection initiatives arose from protests at sea, including the moratorium on commercial whaling, the bans on dumping nuclear waste at sea and on using of driftnets, New Zealand’s nuclear free status and the end of French atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific.  While that acknowledgement is stronger among the opposition, a majority of supporters of the change feel that way as well.

Opinion on the harshness or otherwise of the change and associated penalties is again politically aligned.

There is also an indication that more discussion and better information about the change may lead to people being less neutral about it.  While support remained a minority overall, respondents were a little more supportive at the end of the survey that at the beginning.  Similarly, more opposed the change at the end of the survey than at the beginning.

A Horizon Research report on the survey can be downloaded here.

 

* Reprinted in full from Horizon email-out to respondents.

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References

NZ Herald: Protester law avoids public submissions and Bill of Rights vetting  (3 April 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Meanwhile, back on Planet Key

To be followed up at The Daily Blog

See upcoming blogpost:  National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests

16 April 2013 6 comments

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Horizon Poll - Crown Mineral Bill - sea protests

Note: this header-image above was not partof the Polling Questionnaire in any way, shape, or form. Are you paying attention, Slater? Step awaaaaay from the computer terminal…

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As the proposed amendment to the Crown Minerals Bill – which will criminalise sea-going protests  – nears enactment, Horizon Research this week conducted a brief poll on the issue.

The questions – and this blogger’s answers – were as follows…

Firstly, Horizon Research presented a summary of facts which was reasonably impartial and gave the respondent a fairly clear idea as to the issues,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill

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The first two questions were fairly straight forward, and I gave my answer as “Strongly Opposed” to the proposed law changes.

For me, the amendments to the Crown Minerals bill can be summed up as,

  • procedurally flawed, as National ministers make no allowance for public submissions so that people can air their views,
  • undemocractic in the extreme,
  • draconian in content, and more reminiscent of Putin-era Russia, than a liberal democracy,
  • hastily-enacted, making laws that are  inevitably flawed.

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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Horizon then asked me to explain why I opposed the proposed legislative amendment. (Bad mistake – I’m not shy in expressing my views)

Thankfully there was no word limit in the field. I responded accordingly,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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The next question was fairly complex, with multiple options for answers. I had to pick each option carefully,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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The following question was easy to answer,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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The next question was a follow-up with a request to explain my previous response,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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This one was obvious,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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Also a straight forward question,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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And this question really allowed me to ‘let rip’ with my thoughts on this issue,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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An incoming Labour-Green government  will have a full legislative agenda, repealing many of  National’s undemocratic laws. As with the “Hobbit Law” (which Labour has pledged to repeal – see: Labour vows to repeal Hobbit Law), there are many pieces of legislation which have no place in a liberal democracy, and should be binned as soon as Labour Ministers are sworn into office.

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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It would be interesting to learn who the client  (if any) was for this poll.

Continuede at: Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests – Part Rua

Addendum

In what has been one of the fastest pieces of law-making in New Zealand’s history,  the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament at 4.30pm today (16 April)  by 61 votes to 59. Next step; the Bill will proceed to  the Governor General for assent and become law.

This ain’t democracy, folks. This is government-by-decree.

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References

NZ Herald: Protester law avoids public submissions and Bill of Rights vetting  (3 April 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Meanwhile, back on Planet Key

To be followed up at The Daily Blog

See upcoming blogpost:  National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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= fs =

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

11 April 2013 13 comments

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

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The right wing, it would be fair to say, dislike the media. Or, most of the media. Fox News, religious programming, and Rantback Radio are acceptable.

But nothing that challenges us to think.

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Kark Du Fresne’s recent outpouring of grievance in Fairfax Media’s ‘Manawatu Standard‘ made it plain and obvious to the reader that he has a problem with Radio NZ.

Du Fresne referred to RNZ as “left wing”. And then listed all those people whom he thinks are guilty of being “left”. People like,

Kim Hill

Chris Laidlaw

Jeremy Rose

Kathryn Ryan

Obviously, these people all need to be brought before Parliament’s House Committee for Un-New Zealand Activities. (Which, we don’t have – yet – but I’m sure one of Mr Du Fresne’s right wing colleagues such as Maggie Barry could easily organise one. More on Maggie Barry in a moment.) Then the H.C.U.N.Z.A.  can ensure that Hill, Laidlaw, Rose, and Ryan never work in this town again.

Our American cuzzies did that in the 1950s, during what we now refer to as the “McCarthy Era“,

Senator Joseph McCarthy

So what were Du Fresne’s allegations?

So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation’s standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.

Which would be interesting to consider – except that Du Fresne doesn’t actually spell out where “the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes” actually lies.

He tells the reader that  “the editorial bias” is there – but not where, precisely. It’s all rather… nebulous.

Du Fresne then claims that,

Public broadcasting organisations, by their very nature, tend to be Left-leaning.”

Really? What “nature” is that, I wonder?

Perhaps Du Fresne is refering to Public broadcasting organisations challenging peoples’ thinking – whereas right-wing media tend to reinforce preconceptions and  prejudices?

He goes on to say,

It’s not hard to understand how this comes about. Journalists distrustful of capitalism naturally gravitate toward state-owned media organisations, seeing them as untainted by the profit motive.”

Now that is an intriguing claim to make.

Especially considering that Maggie Barry (who I referred to above), was the morning presenter on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report” in 1986, and hosted  “Nine To Noon” show in 1990.

Later, in November 2011, Ms Barry stood as a political candidate in the general election, and won the seat of  North Shore.

She stood as a National Party candidate. National being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party,

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And then there’s Richard Griffin, Radio NZ’s one-time political editor, who worked for National Party ex-Prime Minister Jim Bolger, as his  press secretary in the late 1990’s.

National, as I understand it,  being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party.

Then there are the regular guests on Radio NZ – who are well noted for their National or ACT Party affiliations, or who simply express right-wing views;

  • ex-National President, Michelle Boag;
  • National & ACT supporter and anti-MMP campaigner, Jordan Williams
  • rightwing blogger and National Party apparatchik,  David Farrar;
  • ex-ACT MP and Party President,  Rodney Hide;
  • ex-ACT and later, ex-National MP, Stephen Franks;
  • former speech-writer and press secretary for National and right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooten;
  • and former police officer and front-person for television’s “Police Ten 7“, Graham Bell (who holds right wing views on many issues).

There are probably others I’ve forgotten to list.

So what is the “... ideological mindset that permeates the entire organisation” that Du Fresne refers to?

We don’t know. Again, he doesn’t tell us.

But I wonder what Ms Boag; Mr Farrar; Ms Barry; Mr Williams; Mr Hide; Mr Franks; Mr Hooten; Mr Bell, and Mr Griffin might say about Du Fresne suggesting that,

This becomes self-perpetuating, since the more Left-leaning an organisation becomes, the more it attracts other people of the same persuasion.”

Perhaps Radio NZ might not appear so “left-leaning” if National ministers – especially John Key – actually bothered to take up invitations to front for interviews?

On almost every occassion when government policy is under scrutiny, or when National is being heavily criticised, National ministers almost always refuse to be interviewed, to present their side of things.

The result is that National’s critics often accept invitations to be interviewed – thereby giving an impression of anti-National  bias.

But it’s only an impression of bias because National Ministers refuse most invitations for interviews.

One then has to shake their head when Du Fresne then demands,

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour.”

Bollicks. Anyone can read between the lines and understand what he is really saying. Let me “fix” the above statement so we clearly understand what Du Fresne is actually demanding of Radio NZ,

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests that I’m comfortable with – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour for the rest of New Zealand who are a bunch of leftie, pinko, mung-bean eating, hippies.”

And this bit really takes the proverbial cake,

This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”

Really, Mr Du Fresne?

Du Fresne’s demand that Radio NZ fulfill it’s Charter requirements (though he yet again omits to tell us how Radio NZ has been derelict in it’s duty) is in contrast with his views on TVNZ’s  (now defunct) charter,

The Clark government saw where things were going and tried to arrest the decline by imposing on TVNZ a public service charter, which was largely ignored. Today, the unremitting diet of banal, so-called reality shows and American crime dramas on the two publicly-owned channels is indistinguishable from the offerings on their privately-owned rivals, and disillusioned viewers have been driven into the welcoming arms of Sky TV. ” – 16 October 2010

Acknowledgement: The Spectator – Time to sell off TVNZ

The notion of the public service broadcaster survives in the form of Radio New Zealand, but otherwise it’s in peril. TVNZ is in the process of being released from its obligations under the public service charter introduced under Labour. Its sole objective in future will be to return a dividend to the government (not that viewers will notice much difference, since the charter was largely ineffectual).” – 23 July 2011

Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – The changing TV landscape (sorry, media ecology)

No demand anywhere amongst his writings that TVNZ abide by it’s Charter. Just a resigned acceptance. And usually  followed by none-to-subtle hints to privatise TVNZ.

Perhaps the most pertinent point of Du Fresne’s whinge-session is this remark,

Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to. But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”

Bingo!

There we have it; “Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to”.

And then, “But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists”.

And then states that   “Kim Hill is the worst offender“.

To put it bluntly – Du Fresne seems utterly confused in what he is demanding. On the one hand he states,

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community

[…]

This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”

But he also admits that,

Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to…”

Whilst then stating,

“But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”

What Du Fresne has omitted to say is,

“But on OTHER programmes, a RIGHT WING bias IS PRESENTED.”

Because, my fellow New Zealanders, when people like Stephen Franks, Rodney Hide, Michelle Boag, or David Farrar are guesting on Radio NZ and expressing their right wing views – that is when Radio NZ is meeting it’s Charter obligations and presenting the Right Wing point of view.

For example, listen to Stephen Franks (if your stomach can bear it) on Jim Mora’s 4pm Panel on 8 April. Franks is ranting some right-wing rubbish, as usual, on people’s “reliance” on insurance,

The Panel with Stephen Franks and Tino Pereira (Part 1)

The Panel with Stephen Franks and Tino Pereira (Part 2)

I think we all know what is going on here. Du Fresne isn’t interested in  “balance” at all. He is demanding unquestioning, Stalinist-style, fealty to the current National government.

He even let’s it slip, near the end of his diatribe against Radio NZ,

“The second, more pragmatic, reason is that the Left-wing bias apparent in some of RNZ’s programmes is hardly likely to endear the organisation to the politicians who control its fate.”

Why would a supposedly independent public broadcaster need to “endear” itself to the government-of-the-day?

And does that logically mean that when Labour is in power, that Radio NZ must “endear [itself] to the politicians who control its fate”?

Du Fresne does add this caveat, though,

“In saying this, I’m not suggesting for a moment that RNZ should become a tame government puppet. That would be far worse than the status quo.”

Bullshit. That is precisely what Du Fresne is calling for; becoming a tame government puppet.

Ironically, four years ago, Du Fresne had this to say about Radio NZ,

Another commenter sneered at my statement that the news media functioned as a marketplace of ideas, claiming this was a meaningless slogan typical of “faded old neoliberal ideology”. Really? Perhaps I’m imagining all those lively and informed expressions of opinion and exchanges of ideas – exchanges that help shape public opinion on the issues of the day – that I see every day in newspaper stories, opinion pieces and letters to the editor, or hear on talkback programmes and interviews on Morning Report. Priggish leftists hate this stuff because it permits the dissemination of views they disapprove of.” – 30 May  2009

Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – Why leftist academics hate the media

So back in May 2009, Du Fresne was positively gushing with adoration at Radio NZ?!

So what’s changed?

Plenty.

In 2009, the msm* were in love with Dear Leader and the six month old National government could do no wrong. The Media-Key “honeymoon” was just beginning. Media reports critical of Key were minimal. Everyone loved Key and National.

Now, four years on, as the “honeymoon” has ended and a bitter “divorce” is in progress, the media is reporting one scandal after another. National policies are drawing heated criticism from all sectors of society. National poll ratings are gradually falling. And Dear Leader is no longer as popular as he once was.

That is the nub of the issue here. The  Right are beginning to feel defensive and threatened.  Like a cornered wild beast, they are  lashing out at their critics – especially the media,

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Herald - John Key calls media 'Knuckleheads'

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads

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And people like Karl Du Fresne –  an unrepentant  Right Wing political commentator – is bitter. He’s not feeling the love anymore, folks.

On a final note; Du Fresne complains that Radio NZ is biased and left wing.

Perhaps we might take him more seriously if his own columns were less biased and right wing.

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References

Wikipedia: McCarthyism

Wikipedia: Kim Hill

The Listener: Karl du Fresne

Notes

* msm = mainstream media(newspapers, radio, televison broadcasters – as opposed to “New Media” such as bloggers, websites, youtube, etc)

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= fs =

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do.

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spy vs politician

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Question: Is the GCSB staffed and managed by people for whom english is a second language?

The reason I ask is that I’ve been hearing over and over again that the Act covering the Government Communications Securitry Bureau (GCSB) is somehow, “vague”.

For example Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said,

It highlights the fact that the legislation for GCSB is probably legally flawed right from the start. The law is likely to need to change.”

This “vagueness” in the law – the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 – is supposedly ‘unclear’ and ‘confusing’, which resulted in the Bureau illegally spying on 88  New Zealander permanent residents and/or citizens (see:  Legality of spy operations called into question).

So how vague is the Act? Specifically Part 3, Section 14,

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Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 - section 3-14

Acknowledgement:  Parliamentary Counsel Office: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

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Section 14 states,

Restrictions imposed on interceptions

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Let’s dissect that paragraph,
Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau …”

That’s fairly clear; we start of  by identifying who is covered by this paragraph,

  •  the Director
  •  employees,
  •  or anyone acting on behalf of the Bureau

“… may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person…”

Again, fairly clear; the people mentioned above cannot “intercept[ing] the communications of a person…”

And the “punch-line”,

“…(not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”.

So, if you’re a “a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”, you cannot have your commmunications intercepted by “the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau“.

That’s not only clear, but it’s not even written in ‘legalese’!?

The GCSB believed that they were allowed to spy on behalf of Police (or OFCANZ, to be specific).

But nowhere does the Act allow the GCSB to spy on behalf of the Police. In fact, the Act states in at least two parts, precisely who the GCSB may collect data on;

Part 2
7. Objective of Bureau
  • (1) The objective of the Bureau is to contribute to the national security of New Zealand by providing—

    • (a) foreign intelligence that the Government of New Zealand requires to protect and advance—
      • (i) the security or defence of New Zealand; or
      • (ii) the international relations of the Government of New Zealand; or
      • (iii) New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being; and
    • (b) foreign intelligence to meet international obligations and commitments of the Government of New Zealand; and
    • (c) advice, assistance, and protection to departments of State and other instruments of the Executive Government of New Zealand in order to—
      • (i) protect and enhance the security of their communications, information systems, and computer systems; or
      • (ii) protect their environments from electronic or other forms of technical surveillance by foreign organisations or foreign persons.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(iii), the interests of New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being are relevant only to the extent that they are affected by the actions or intentions of foreign organisations or foreign persons.

Part 3
13. Purpose of Part
  • The purpose of this Part is,—

    • (a) subject to the restrictions imposed by this Part, to enable the Bureau to obtain foreign intelligence; and
    • (b) to authorise the interception of communications (whether under section 16 or under an interception warrant or a computer access authorisation) only if the purpose of the interception is to obtain foreign intelligence.

Both paragraphs emphasise over and over again two words; foreign and international.
Coupled with Paragraph 14, it seems to this blogger (and I have zero legal training, except watching old ‘Perry Mason‘ tv programmes in my youth) that the law is fairly clear in,
  1. Meaning
  2. Intent
  3. Wording

Whatever possessed the GCSB to believe that they were allowed to spy on behalf of  OFCANZ?

For the GCSB to claim that they “believed they were allowed to spy on behalf of others such as the Police or SIS” is akin to saying they were allowed to spy on NZ citizens only on every other day, except Sunday. Ridiculous.

This is not about a “vague” or “unworkable” law.

This is about a government department that had minimal oversight and attempted to get away with flouting the law.

What  “oversight’ there was consisted of  an aging, retired judge who works part-time – and an even more apparently  feeble-minded Prime Minister who has severe memory-retention problems and seems to take little interest in what the GCSB is up to.

The GCSB has been caught out in a “matesy” relationship with OFCANZ – due in part to the ‘glamourous’ work being undertaken at the behest of the United States’ FBI, regarding Kim Dotcom. The GCSB simply didn’t want to be left out of the “action”.

This was a bunch of “boys” with high tech gear; truckloads of money; and no one watching what they were getting up to.

No wonder they broke the law in their spying.

They thought they could get away with it.

Why?

Why not. Because, after all,  who watches the Watchmen?

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= fs =

When is ‘Nanny State’ not a ‘Nanny State’?

6 April 2013 6 comments

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… when National does it.

From one day ago,

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Young people banned from sunbeds

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Young people banned from sunbeds

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But when the previous Labour government attempted to improve the health of our children, National condemned it as,

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'Nanny state' fears on health bill

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – ‘Nanny state’ fears on health bill

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When the previous Labour government tried to conserve energy use, National condemned it as,

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Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

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Evidently it’s ok for National to pass laws controlling a legal (if somewhat unhealthy and dangerous) activity. The Nats are attempting to ban a group of young people from engaging in activity that  older New Zealanders are still allowed to do.

But not for the previous Labour government when they wanted to replace unhealthy food with healthy food in school cafetarias/tuck shops.

In fact, when National took office in November 2008, they reversed the healthy foods policy in schools,

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Schools' healthy food rule scrapped

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Schools’ healthy food rule scrapped

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According to Ms Tolley – National’s Education Minister at the time – it was “up to parents and students to make decisions about healthy food”.

The Nats couldn’t wait to allow fatty, sugary, salty, artery-clogging, diabetes-inducing, garbage back into schools for our young children to consume. And shorten their life-spans by several decades, no doubt.

That was ok. No “nanny state” here, folks – junk food was given the Big Tory Tick.

But not sun beds.

Apparently, Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew and her National colleague, MP Paul Hutchison, don’t mind putting on a “Nanny” frock and instructing under-18s that cooking themselves with UV radiation has been banned by Big Government.

I wonder if when this Bill comes before the House for it’s three readings, that Labour and Green  MPs sitting opposite Ms Goodhew and Mr Hutchison will be quieting chanting…

“Nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… nanny state… “

Gowan. Do it.

You know you want to.

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= fs =

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

6 April 2013 8 comments

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spy vs politician

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The current mess surrounding the appointment of Ian Fletcher as the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) Director should serve as a clear warning to any future Labour-Green government: Don’t Do It.

To be precise; don’t do what Key (and his ministerial cronies) has done. Circumventing the State Services Commission to “facilitate” appointments – even if done for decent motives – is simply;

(A) Not a good look

(B) Not worth the hassle when the media, bloggers, and Opposition get hold of it

(C) A slippery-slope toward cronyism and inevitable corruption.

The appointment of John Key’s Electorate Chairperson,  Stephen McElrea (who is also the National Party’s Regional Deputy Chair, National Party Northern Region) to the Board of NZ On Air raised numerous charges of cronyism and an agenda of political interference in public funding for television programming. (See:  Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air; See: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link )

Concerns over political appointees to highly sensitive positions, vulnerable to political interference, was quickly borne out when McElrea began to flex his “political muscles” even before being appointed to  NZ on Air’s Board,

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National man eyes NZ On Air chair

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – National man eyes NZ On Air chair

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Key’s background in deal-making; cutting corners to achieve set goals; and getting results fatally blinds him to the realities that politics and government is a whole different kettle of fish to ‘high finance’. (Which would be a good thing, considering the almighty crash of  ‘high finance’ four years ago.)

The State Services Commission was set up precisely to keep politician’s greasy hands of appointments.  At the beginning of out nascent civil service, ministerial cronyism was rampant,

The departments that grew up over the next few decades operated under the direct control of their Ministers, in arrangements that were practical in pioneering times.  Ministers approved appointments, determined pay and conditions, and oversaw administration and financial management, with varying degrees of diligence.

[…]

Understandably, Ministers were inclined to see that the people appointed were sympathetic to their own political outlook and priorities – and inevitably, in a small population, these were sometimes friends or acquaintances.  The Public Service was run on somewhat ad hoc ‘frontier’ lines, and seems not to have been much different from its parent institution, the British civil service.  In their report on the British civil service Sir Stafford North and Sir Charles Trevelyan described a bureaucracy that was, in the 1850s, rife with patronage, fragmented and inefficient.

Acknowledgement: State Services Commission –  Origins of the Public Service and Office of State Services Commissioner

Accordingly, after 1912, reforms were enacted to clean up this unholy mess,

The Hunt Commission in due course recommended, as ‘the most important matter of all’, establishment of a Board of Management under Cabinet, to have ‘absolute and undisputed power’ in ‘all matters relating to the control and management of the Service – … appointments, salaries, promotion, suspensions, dismissals, and indeed everything affecting officers – ‘  It suggested the Board’s first duties should include blocking all ‘back doors’ of entrance to the Public Service, and arranging for all promotions be made from within the Service.

The outcome was the Public Service Act 1912 – based on Herdman’s Bill already before the house – which set up a non-political and unified career Public Service; non-political through powers of appointment, promotion and dismissal being entrusted to an independent body – the Public Service Commissioner.

Acknowledgement: IBID

It is abundantly clear that John Key doesn’t ‘get’ any of this, when he said,

I didn’t do anything wrong whatsoever. Labour have done very similar things.”

Again, blaming Labour.

Is everything he says or does predicated on what the previous government did?

Does Key not have standards of his own? (Rhetorical question. Don’t answer.)

Because Key’s memory lapses cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. Especially when, on 3 April he openly contradicted himself as to who-phoned-who, as Andrea Vance reported,

…he appears to be confused about who first suggested Fletcher for the job.

Asked why he didn’t tell the full story last week, Key said: “I’d forgotten that at that particular time.”

In Porirua this afternoon, Key was grilled about the sequence of events that saw Fletcher appointed as director of the GCSB in September 2011.

At first Key said: “Iain Rennie, state services commissioner recommended him to me… I rang [Fletcher] and said ‘look, you know, you might be interested.”

Asked again who first brought up Fletcher’s name, Key replied: “Iain Rennie put it to me.”

Later on, he was asked again who first mentioned Fletcher. “I would have mentioned it to him, I’m sure.”

When pressed to clarify if he first suggested the name to Rennie, he said: “I’m sure I probably would have.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss

Key lied. He was caught out lying.

On 4 April, Scoop Media wrote about the rationale behind Ian Fletcher’s appointment as GCSB director. Fletcher had no prior military of Intelligence experience. But he did have an extensive  background in intellectual property, commerce and “free” trade (see: The CV of a Spy Boss ) .

Fletcher’s appointment was announced  in September 2011, and was due to take up his new job in early 2012.

At the same time, police were planning their raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, scheduled to take place  on January 20 2012.

Scoop wrote,

Suppose Dotcom’s arrest and extradition was the clincher in the deal that secured Warner Bros’ agreement to produce The Hobbit in New Zealand. But any link to John Key, who led the negotiations with Warner Bros, would tend to confirm Dotcom’s claim, supported by the strong connection between Hollywood and US vice-president Joe Biden, of political persecution. So the prime minister had to be protected by having total deniability, leading to the completely implausible claim of not knowing about the most prominent resident in his own electorate until the day before the raid.

Acknowledgement: Kim Dotcom Part Two

Conspiracy fantasy?

Remember that Key has had several top level meetings with Warner Bros executives,

October 2010

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No decision yet in Hobbit talks - Key

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – No decision yet in Hobbit talks – Key

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July 2011

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PM's 'special' movie studio meeting

Acknowledgement: Fairfax – PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting

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October 2012

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Key - Dotcom won't be discussed during Hollywood visit

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key: Dotcom won’t be discussed during Hollywood visit

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Four days later,
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Dotcom raised at PM's Hollywood dinner

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And those are only the meetings which we, The Masses, are aware of.

It’s interesting to note Chris Dodd, the CEO of  the Motion Picture Assiciation of America (MPAA) referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership Aggreement (TPPA) in the 5 October NZ Herald article above.

The TPPA has more to do with intellectual property rights than with “free” trade. (See: “Global Research –  The “Trans-Pacific Partnership”: Obama’s Secret Trade Deal; See: MFAT -Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations – Intellectual Property Stakeholder Update)

It’s also worthwhile noting that Ian Fletcher’s appointment coincided to the month with the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.

  • Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion:  20 January 2012.

And both men were involved in intellectual property rights – though from different angles,

  • Kim Dotcom – the man who Hollywood executives wanted brought down because of alleged copyright violations on his ‘megaupload’ website. (see: The MPAA on Dotcom)
  • Ian Fletcher – the man who had worked in the UK to protect oroporate interests in intellectual property rights. (see below)

When Ian Fletcher’s appointment was announced on 8 September 2011, Key himself proudly boasted of the new Director’s  career,

Announcing the appointment Prime Minister John Key said he has ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters.”

Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed

Fletcher’s ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters” seemed to matter for John Key for some reason?

Kim Dotcom was very high on the list of issues relating to “international economic and trade matters“; namely intellectual property rights.  Indeed, in March 2007, Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property.

On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,

“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”

Acknowledgement: Intellectual Property Office – New Chief Executive for the Patent Office

(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)

It has been widely commented that Ian Fletcher has no background in the military, nor Intelligence – yet was considered the one candidate who was eminently suitable for the role of Director of the GCSB.  Perhaps now we are starting to understand why Ian Fletcher’s appointment seemingly related to,

  • the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom
  • Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights
  • MPAA concerns
  • Hollywood big business
  • Trans Pacific Partnership

And as Key himself admitted, the issue of Kim Dotcom had been raised by Hollywood executive. Just what does our Prime Minister have to discuss with said executives? Who knows – it’s all done in secret, behind closed doors. We’re just expected to pay our taxes and shut up.

Conspiracy theory?

Conspiracy theories remain the subjects of idle parlour chit-chat and somewhat kooky websites… well, until charges are laid. Then a conspiracy theory becomes a conspiracy case in a Court of Law.

This affair should serve as a warning for the next in-coming Labour-Green government. National’s administration is a text-book case of how not to do things.

Every minister in the next Labour-Green government should be appointed a “minder” to ensure that they do things By The Book, and not to cut one single corner. Or at the very least, periodically re-read press reports and blogposts detailing every f**k-up by National over the last four years.

New Zealand is a small country. Secrets are notoriously difficult to keep. And even if the whole story behind the Fletcher-Dotcom-GCSB-TPPA thing has not been fully revealed – I think we’ve had a glimpse into the murky shadows of political perfidity to smell something rotten.

The issue has not only further dented Key’s credibility, but is starting to wear down his public persona of  good natured, ‘blokeyness’,

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John Key calls media 'Knuckleheads'

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’

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Abusing the media? Not a good look for Dear Leader. It appears that the stress of the job is getting to him. And he can’t handle it very well.

Key’s “blokeyness” morphes into bratty petulance when he further dictates the terms under which he will talk to the media and in Parliament,

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PM John Key

‘What I should have done, and what I will be doing in the future, is saying, well, the member needs to put that down to me in writing, and I’ll be doing that to the journalists as well.
‘Cos if you want perfection of everything I have done, two, three, four, five years ago, I will get you all that information for you, but I’ll get you the whole lot and give it to you.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – John Key changes tack over questioning

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This is “seige mentality” stuff.

Key’s teflon coating wore away over a year ago. With no defensive cloak, the media recognise a government and it’s leader who are in dire trouble and  on the defensive.

As Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury wrote on “The Daily Blog”,

“John Key’s extraordinary appointment of his school-hood chum to be the new Director of our spy network could well be his ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment.”

Acknowledgement: The Daily Blog – John Key’s ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment

And as Bryce Edwards noted in the NZ Herald on 4 April,

“As a barometer of the political media, John Armstrong is always useful, and it appears that he too ‘smells blood’.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Political round-up: John Key’s precarious credibility

There are more headlines to come out of Key and National. It’s only a matter of time.

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Related blogposts

Crony Watch!

References

Fairfax Media: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed (8 Sept 2011)

The Listener: Kim Dotcom and Megaupload: a timeline (20 March 2013)

Scoop: Kim Dotcom Illegal Surveillance And Response: Timeline (28 March 2013)

Fairfax Media:  Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss (3 April 2013)

Radio NZ: State Services boss ‘surprised’ at PM’s phone call (4 April 2013)

NZ Herald: PM paints himself into another corner  (4 April 2013)

NBR: Honesty bigger issue than cronyism (4 April 2013)

NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  PM has no regrets about calling Fletcher (5 April 2013)

Fairfax Media: John Key changes tack over questioning (5 April 2013)

Scoop: Kim Dotcom Part Two (4 April 2013)

NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)

Radiolive: Former GCSB boss intrigued by Ian Fletcher appointment – Audio  (5 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Ian Fletcher appointment a ‘totally ethical process’ (5 April 2013)

NZ Herald: John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’ (6 April 2013)

Other blogs

The Standard: The CV of a spy-boss

The Standard: Fletcher GCSB Change manager – and QLD

The Daily Blog: John Key’s ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment

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= fs =

Meanwhile, back on Planet Key…

3 April 2013 9 comments

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1. Treasury, IRD, tax cuts…

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income tax - tax cuts - IRD - Treasury - Bill English

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald: Income tax cut tipped as best bet

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It appears that right wing bureacrats in the ‘zoos’  we know as Treasury and IRD are, once again, advocating tax cuts.

A recent report by Treasury and IRD are once again pushing for tax cuts as a ‘panacea’ for our low economic growth. As Brian Fallow reports,

They conclude that cutting personal income tax would be the most effective in boosting economic welfare.

“Boosting economic welfare” for whom? We already know that there is a widening wealth/income gap in this country. (see:  NZ rich-poor gap widens faster than rest of world, see:  Gap between rich and poor highest ever, report shows)

So really,  that argument is ideological clap-trap. In fact, New Zealanders have enjoyed six tax cuts since 1986, and the mantra of “ cutting personal income tax would be the most effective in boosting economic welfare” seems as much an empty promise as ever.

The report next claims, that tax cuts,

“…would increase incentives both to work and to save and invest.”

No… the real incentive to save (via Labour’s Kiwisaver) was the $1,000 kick-start which government is offering ever New Zealander who opens a Kiwisaver account.

Other tax cuts have simply given people more cash to pay of debt; invest in mortgages (rental properties) or buy imported consumer goods. None of which contributes to our economy. In fact, our private debt continues to skyrocket,

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private sector debt 1988 - 2009 (% of GDP)

Acknowledgement:  Treasury – 4.2.2  Private-sector debt and factors affecting it

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At the same time our savings record has been abysmal, as Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Alan Bollard,said on 14 June 2010,

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Based on our Monetary Policy Statement, we forecast New Zealand household savings to improve from a very poor position to one that has improved, but is still in significant deficit. We believe that since the crisis, New Zealanders have decided they are over-exposed to property assets and to high debt, and they are prepared to constrain consumption to improve their savings. But we are unclear how much rebalancing they contemplate, and for how long.

Acknowledgement: Reserve Bank  NZ – New Zealand’s Economic Recovery, External Vulnerabilities and the Balancing Act Ahead

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The report also suggests altering the “fiscal drag” – whereby an increase in salary/wages ‘bumps’ the earner into the next highest tax bracket,

That would have to be some big ‘bump’,

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IRD - Rates for tax year 2012-2013

Acknowledgement: IRD Income tax rates for individuals 2012-2013

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Families receiving Working For Families pay much less tax, as the report clearly stated,

“And for a couple with two children and one earner, who is on the average wage, the tax burden was just 0.6 per cent, with Working for Families tax credits, compared with 26.1 per cent across the OECD.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald: Income tax cut tipped as best bet

The report recommended,

“A simple change to current thresholds in 2015, to correct for five years of fiscal drag since the 2010 tax reform, is estimated to cost around $1.5 billion per annum.”

If the report’s suggestions are to be taken seriously and implemented by National, the result would be a massive one-and-a-half billion loss in tax revenue.

Where have we heard this before?

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Govt's 2010 tax cuts 'costing $2 billion and counting'

Acknowledgement: Scoop.co.nz:  Govt’s 2010 tax cuts ‘costing $2 billion and counting’

Which then led us to this,

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Treasury lowers govt's forecast for 2014 2015 surplus to NZ$66 mln

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz: Treasury lowers govt’s forecast for 2014/15 surplus to NZ$66 mln from NZ$197 mln on Budget day

See also

Govt austerity slows growth, keeps rates low – RBNZ (13 Sept 2012)

Govt deficit up as tax take dips (5 Dec, 2012)

Now in case any National/ACT Party supporters are reading this and are still sceptical, I refer them to this piece from the United States,

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Tax Cuts Don't Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

Acknowledgement: The Atlantic – Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

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Basically, in a nut-shell, the findings of the study in that news item stated,

In 2001 and 2003, President Bush cut taxes, and we faced a disappointing expansion followed by a Great Recession.

Does this story prove that raising taxes helps GDP? No. Does it prove that cutting taxes hurts GDP? No.

But it does suggest that there is a lot more to an economy than taxes, and that slashing taxes is not a guaranteed way to accelerate economic growth.

That was the conclusion from David Leonhardt’s new column today for The New York Times, and it was precisely the finding of a new study from the Congressional Research Service, “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945.” 

Analysis of six decades of data found that top tax rates “have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

Heck, I could’ve told you that.

In fact… I have.

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2. Rio Tinto, Meridian Energy, Bill English…

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Tiwai Point - Bluff Aluminium Smelter - Meridian Energy - John Key - Rio Tinto

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Tiwai and  Bluff are situated in Eric Roy’s Invercargill electorate – sitting adjacent to Bill English’s Clutha-Southland electorate.

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Invercargill - clutha southland - electorates - bill english - eric roy - tiwai point - aluminium smelter - rio tinto - meridian

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia – New Zealand electorates 2011 election

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In the US, this is known as “pork barrel politics“, where politicians support certain industries in their own constituencies, so as to save their own political necks.

I could imagine the electoral fall-out if the smelter was allowed to close down. English and Roy could kiss their lucrative, well-paid, parliamentary careers goodbye. And might even face a less-than-friendly welcoming committee if they ever showed their faces in Southland again,

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The Mob

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3. Rio Tinto, Meridian Energy, Fran O’Sullivan…

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It’s not a pretty sight when one of National’s tame journalists – in this case NZ Herald’s Fran O’Sullivan – falls out of love with Dear Leader. The shock to her system – when she realised that Key, English, Ryall, Joyce, et al, are dodgy bastards willing to cut secret, back-room,  dirty deals to facilitate their deeply unpopular asset sales – must have made her question her loyalties to  this shabby, so-called “government”.

The use of our taxes to subsidise a billion-dollar trans-national corporation – whilst superannuitants, low income earners, and the poorest of the poor freeze during winter (see: Winter triggers 1600 more deaths ) – must be stomach turning for all but the most dogmatic  National Party supporters.

Plus, this blogger has never read so many, none-to-subtle allusions, to men’s genitalia in one article. I encourage the reader to read Ms O’Sullivan’s entire column – it is eye-opening,

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Govt intervention doesn't cut mustard

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Govt intervention doesn’t cut mustard

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When right wing columnists turn against National and the most popular Prime Minister since [insert another prime minister’s name here], and write a stinging attack on their inept, ad hoc, policies – then you know the tide has turned.

If National’s ministers are going to strike secret deals with big corporations, giving them access to millions in electricity subsidies, the least they could do is demand a 49% share-holding in said corporation (a  “mixed ownership model” in reverse) so the taxpayer gets something in return.

But then, National’s much-renowned, so-called “business acumen” is nothing more than a carefully-crafted,  self-created myth. In case National voters haven’t been paying attention, the MPs they voted for are inept.

And it’s our taxes they’re pissing against a corporate urinal.

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4. Mining, Drilling, Arresting, Imprisoning – Simon Bridges…

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On TVNZ’s Q+A today, Energy Minister and Dear Leader Mini-Me, Simon Bridges, announced a new law with heavy sanctions against protesters who “want to stop other people going about their lawful business and doing what they have a permit to do and they are legally entitled to do“.

He said, in part,

JESSICA MUTCH I want to start off by asking you your predecessor in a speech, Phil Heatley, said, ‘I’m determined to ensure the mining sector is not hampered by unsafe protest actions by a small but vocal minority.’ You’ve been working on this since taking over. What are protesters in for?

SIMON BRIDGES So, that’s right. So we are acting, and so two offences are going to be put into the Crown Minerals Bill. Look, the first of those is truly criminal offence. Effectively, what it says is that it will be stopping people out there at deep sea, in rough waters, dangerous conditions, doing dangerous acts, damaging and interfering with legitimate business interests with ships, for example, seismic ships, and what they’re doing out there.

JESSICA What fines are we talking about there?

SIMON Well, for that one, 12 months’ imprisonment, or $1000 (please note: the minister meant $100,000 not $1000) or $50,000 fine, depending on whether you’re a body corporate or an individual. Then a lesser, more infringement offence, really, strict liability offence for entering within a specified area, probably up to 500 metres within that ship, again because of the dangers associated with doing that.

Acknowledgement: TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript Simon Bridges Interview

Petrobras has already been involved in oil-spills elsewhere in the world,

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Brazilian oil spill draws attention to drilling in New Zealand

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Brazilian oil spill draws attention to drilling in New Zealand

It’s little wonder that East Coast locals and environmental activists joined together to protest against deep-sea drilling of their coast. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 was a clear warning what the potential was for an environmental catastrophe – one that we are simply unprepared for, as the grounding of the MV Rena showed, eighteen months later.

For Simon Bridges to now threaten future protestors with heavy fines and prison sentences has the hallmarks of a nasty, petty, authoritarian  government that is afraid of it’s own people.

Never mind Labour’s so-called  “Nanny State” that National complained about in 2007 and 2008 – this has the hallmarks of a quasi-fascist state.

This is a desperate, shabby thing that Bridges is doing.

[See more at The Daily Blog]

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5. Solar power, water conservation, irrigation…

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Now, Gujarat to cover Narmada canals with solar panels!

Acknowledgement: The Hindu Business Line – Now, Gujarat to cover Narmada canals with solar panels!

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Last week, he inaugurated a 600-MW solar power project spread across 11 districts. This included a 214MW Solar Power Park, the largest such generation centre at a single location in Asia. Also, Azure Power, leading independent power producer in solar sector, announced a 2.5 MW rooftops project in Gandhinagar.

Gujarat, which invests nearly Rs 2,000 crore an year on renewable energy, has attracted investments of Rs 9,000 crore so far on solar energy projects.

The pilot project has been developed on a 750-m stretch of the canal by Gujarat State Electricity Corporation (GSECL) with support from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), which owns and maintains the canal network.

Acknowledgement: IBID

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The pilot project will generate 16 lakh units of clean energy per annum and also prevent evaporation of 90 lakh litres of water annually from the canal, an official told Business Line here on Monday. The concept will, therefore, tackle two of the challenges simultaneously by providing energy and water security.

Acknowledgement: IBID

That’s what India – a Third World/Developing nation – is doing.

Why can’t New Zealand do something as bold; as imaginative; and as environmentally-sustainable as our Indian cuzzies? What’s stopping New Zealand from living up to it’s Clean & Green image?

Oh, yeah. I forgot.

This guy,

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Previous related blogposts

 

Corporate Welfare under National

Anadarko: Key playing with fire

Petrobras withdraws – sanity prevails

On the smell of an oily rag

 

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Blogger lays complaint with Commerce Commission

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Commerce commission logo

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As of today,  1 April 2013, this blogger has laid a complaint with the Commerce Commission regarding National minister’s questionable dealings with Rio Tinto and proposed subsidies for electricity prices,

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contact@comcom.govt.nz
2:20 PM

 
to me

Your details

Your address

Your complaint

  • Business you are complaining about: New Zealand Government
  • Street: Molesworth St
  • Suburb: Thorndon
  • City/Region: Wellington
  • Post code: 6160
  • Business Contact Number/ Mobile number: (4) 817 9999

Description of complaint

What happened?
Tony Ryall has recently announced that the NZ Government is intervening directly in negotiations between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto (which is 80% owner of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter).

Mr Ryall has said,

“With this in mind, the Government has been in contact with Pacific Aluminium’s international parent company Rio Tinto this week to discuss helping to bridge the gap in their positions over the short to medium term, if this could be of assistance in concluding an agreement.

“In the meantime, we understand Meridian’s existing contract with Pacific Aluminium remains in place at least until 1 January 2016 with significant financial and other obligations beyond that.”

Ryall added that “all relevant information – including about the smelter electricity contract – will be reflected in the Mighty River Power offer document which is currently being finalised”.

Source: NZ Herald, Govt steps in to sort out stalled Tiwai power deal ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10874174)

I therefore submit the following;

(1) This appears to be a prima facie case of the NZ Government manipulating the future stock price of Mighty River Power (and other state owned powercos), by offering a subsidy to Rio Tinto.

(2) This subsidy is not available to any other company nor individual.

(3) As such, I submit that the NZ Government’s intention to subsidise electricity that is provided to Rio Tinto is done with a view to reduce competition in the market.

Specifically, I draw the Commission’s attention to the Commerce Act 1986; sections 27, 30, and related clauses.

(4) Furthermore, I submit that if any other corporation, company, institution, or individual attempted such an act, that they would be deemed to be guilty of price fixing and manipulation of the market.

I await your response and thank you for your consideration of my complaint.

-Frank Macskasy

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I will keep readers posted as to what, if anything results from this complaint.

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Relevant sections

Section 27: Restrictive trade practices

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commerce act 1986 section 27

Source

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Section 30: Price fixing

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commerce act 19868 section 30

Source

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What’ve you been smoking, Mr Roughan?

1 April 2013 3 comments

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Perfect chance to can Tiwai

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Perfect chance to can Tiwai

There’s nothing quite like a threat to the New Right economic theory to bring the apologists slip-sliding out of the wood-work.

Case in point: John Roughan’s column in the NZ Herald on 30 March. According to Mr Roughan, the ‘blame’ for this latest fiasco can be sheeted home to John Maynard Keynes and our  post-War desire for full employment.

Because, as we (except for neo-liberals)  all know, full employment is a good thing for society.

First of all, read Mr Roughan’s article. Then come back to this blogpost, and scroll down…

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Ok, read it?

Now who spotted the outrageous piece of delusional rubbish  that Mr Roughan wrote in his column?

Let me quote;

“The price of most things at that time was controlled or subsidised and nobody knew or cared that prices didn’t align the item’s cost of production to its value in a competitive market. The economy was a job-creation scheme that ended with double-digit unemployment in the 1970s.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

Either Mr Roughan doesn’t know his history – or he is being wilfully mendacious to promote his rather obvious neo-liberal views.

Let’s have a look at unemployment in the 1970s though to the 1990s,

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unemployment - new zealand - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s -

Acknowledgement:  Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  – How bad is the Current Recession? Labour Market Downturns since the 1960s

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And to put that graph into actual stats,

Date Unemployment rate
Mar-56 0.6
Jun-56 0.6
Sep-56 0.6
Dec-56 0.6
Mar-57 0.6
Jun-57 0.6
Sep-57 0.6
Dec-57 0.6
Mar-58 0.6
Jun-58 0.6
Sep-58 0.6
Dec-58 0.6
Mar-59 0.6
Jun-59 0.6
Sep-59 0.6
Dec-59 0.6
Mar-60 0.6
Jun-60 0.5
Sep-60 0.5
Dec-60 0.5
Mar-61 0.5
Jun-61 0.5
Sep-61 0.5
Dec-61 0.5
Mar-62 0.5
Jun-62 0.5
Sep-62 0.5
Dec-62 0.6
Mar-63 0.5
Jun-63 0.5
Sep-63 0.5
Dec-63 0.5
Mar-64 0.5
Jun-64 0.5
Sep-64 0.5
Dec-64 0.5
Mar-65 0.5
Jun-65 0.5
Sep-65 0.5
Dec-65 0.5
Mar-66 0.5
Jun-66 0.5
Sep-66 0.5
Dec-66 0.5
Mar-67 0.6
Jun-67 0.7
Sep-67 1.0
Dec-67 1.2
Mar-68 1.3
Jun-68 1.2
Sep-68 1.1
Dec-68 1.1
Mar-69 1.0
Jun-69 0.9
Sep-69 0.8
Dec-69 0.8
Mar-70 0.8
Jun-70 0.8
Sep-70 0.8
Dec-70 0.8
Mar-71 0.8
Jun-71 0.9
Sep-71 1.0
Dec-71 1.2
Mar-72 1.3
Jun-72 1.3
Sep-72 1.3
Dec-72 1.3
Mar-73 1.2
Jun-73 1.1
Sep-73 1.1
Dec-73 1.0
Mar-74 1.0
Jun-74 1.0
Sep-74 1.0
Dec-74 1.0
Mar-75 1.1
Jun-75 1.2
Sep-75 1.2
Dec-75 1.2
Mar-76 1.2
Jun-76 1.1
Sep-76 1.0
Dec-76 0.9
Mar-77 0.8
Jun-77 0.8
Sep-77 0.8
Dec-77 1.2
Mar-78 1.5
Jun-78 1.7
Sep-78 1.7
Dec-78 1.4
Mar-79 1.4
Jun-79 1.5
Sep-79 1.4
Dec-79 1.3
Mar-80 1.4
Jun-80 1.6
Sep-80 2.2
Dec-80 2.5
Mar-81 2.6
Jun-81 2.6
Sep-81 2.6
Dec-81 2.7
Mar-82 2.6
Jun-82 2.7
Sep-82 3.0
Dec-82 3.6
Mar-83 4.4
Jun-83 5.0
Sep-83 5.1
Dec-83 4.8
Mar-84 4.7
Jun-84 4.4
Sep-84 4.3
Dec-84 3.9
Mar-85 3.7
Jun-85 3.6
Sep-85 3.6
Dec-85 3.9
Mar-86 4.2
Jun-86 4.1
Sep-86 4.1
Dec-86 4.2
Mar-87 4.0
Jun-87 4.2
Sep-87 4.2
Dec-87 4.4
Mar-88 4.9
Jun-88 5.4
Sep-88 6.4
Dec-88 6.3
Mar-89 7.1
Jun-89 7.5
Sep-89 7.4
Dec-89 7.3
Mar-90 7.2
Jun-90 7.7
Sep-90 8.1
Dec-90 8.9
Mar-91 9.8
Jun-91 10.5
Sep-91 11.2
Dec-91 11.0
Mar-92 10.9
Jun-92 10.4
Sep-92 10.6
Dec-92 10.6
Mar-93 10.1
Jun-93 10.1
Sep-93 9.5
Dec-93 9.4
Mar-94 9.3
Jun-94 8.5
Sep-94 8.0
Dec-94 7.6
Mar-95 6.8
Jun-95 6.4
Sep-95 6.2
Dec-95 6.4
Mar-96 6.4
Jun-96 6.2
Sep-96 6.4
Dec-96 6.2
Mar-97 6.7
Jun-97 6.8
Sep-97 7.0
Dec-97 7.0
Mar-98 7.4
Jun-98 7.9
Sep-98 7.7
Dec-98 7.9
Mar-99 7.5
Jun-99 7.3
Sep-99 7.0
Dec-99 6.4
Mar-00 6.5
Jun-00 6.3
Sep-00 6.0
Dec-00 5.8
Mar-01 5.5
Jun-01 5.4
Sep-01 5.4
Dec-01 5.6
Mar-02 5.3
Jun-02 5.3
Sep-02 5.5
Dec-02 5.1
Mar-03 5.0
Jun-03 4.8
Sep-03 4.5
Dec-03 4.7
Mar-04 4.3
Jun-04 4.2
Sep-04 3.9
Dec-04 3.8
Mar-05 3.9
Jun-05 3.8
Sep-05 3.8
Dec-05 3.8
Mar-06 4.0
Jun-06 3.7
Sep-06 3.9
Dec-06 3.8
Mar-07 3.8
Jun-07 3.7
Sep-07 3.6
Dec-07 3.5
Mar-08 3.8
Jun-08 4.0
Sep-08 4.3
Dec-08 4.7
Mar-09 5.0

Source: NZIER, Statistics NZ.

Acknowledgement:  Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  – How bad is the Current Recession? Labour Market Downturns since the 1960s – Data Table Figure 1: Unemployment Rate

At no point in the 1970s did unemployment ever rise above 1.7%. Hardly the “double-digit unemployment in the 1970s” that Mr Roughan presented as the unvarnished truth.

In fact, if we look at the actual stats, the only time unemployment rose into double-digit figures was from Jun-91 to Jun-93, when National implemented it’s infamous “Mother of all Budgets”. That Budget, written by arch-neo liberal Ruth Richardson, sent businesses to the wall as well as unemployment skyrocketing,

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Bolger and Richardson 1991

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John Roughan then attempts to use his bogus “facts” to push the typical New Right line,

“Pacific Aluminium asked Meridian to renegotiate a price that was set just before the world economy went sour in 2007 and demand for aluminium dropped. Meridian agreed to a lower price until 2016 but would not commit to a lower price beyond that.

Last week the Government intervened. Some of your taxes and mine are going to be promised to a global mining conglomerate that wants to sell its New Zealand smelter but cannot find a buyer.

The Government could not have better demonstrated the pitfalls of public ownership if it had tried.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Perfect chance to can Tiwai

“The Government could not have better demonstrated the pitfalls of public ownership if it had tried”, wrote Roughan.

Based on – – – ?

Falsities?

Ideology?

Whimsy?

Or just plain bullshit.

The stoush between Rio Tinto and Meridian Energy does not “demonstrate[d] the pitfalls of public ownership” at all.

What it demonstrates is that Rio Tinto has seized the main chance to re-negotiate it’s contract. Does anyone who is not on hallucinogenic drugs not believe even for a moment that Rio Tinto wouldf not try it on with Meridian even if that powerco was 100% privately owned?

Does Mr Roughan honestly believe, with hand-on-heart, that Rio Tinto would behave differently if Meridian was a private company, like Contact Energy?

How f*****g naive can some commentators get, for gods-sakes?

John Roughan’s column is nothing less than neo-liberal propaganda. It is a blatant attempt to twist the current situation, and mis-represent the facts.  It is a deflection. It is an acolyte of neo-liberalism trying to white-wash his failed dogma and blame everyone else except his own failed system for this total screw-up.

As if the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis wasn’t enough to show us that neo-liberal capitalism is a failed ideology. (Who would Mr Roughan blame for that collapse, I wonder? Solo-mums in South Auckland?)

But then, we all know how well Right Wingers take responsibility, don’t we?

Not very well.

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tiwai point - meridian energy - rio tinto

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Hat-tip

Chris Trotter

References

NZ Herald: NZ Herald – Perfect chance to can Tiwai (30 March 2013)

The Daily Blog: Chris Trotter, Lying For The Revolution: John Roughan Defends Neoliberalism (1 April 2013)

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