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Archive for May, 2013

Not so sensible justice

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internet_lynch_mobs_Cleverbot_said_Im_correct-s391x337-96144-535

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By now we should all be aware of the influence and power of the internet. It has allowed the world into our homes, workplaces, and lives, in an intimate way.

It can facilitate relationships; be a powerful tool for popular causes; assist the democratic process; and it can be a vital tool for rapid acquisition of information – a boon for bloggers like me.  On occassion it has allowed us to “meld” into a single, focused ‘mind’, to exert a  coherent action to affect the physical world.

It also has it’s much darker side. The internet can reflect the most base of human emotions; hatred, anger, paranoia, fanaticism, xenophobia,  a thirst for revenge, and other irrationalities.

Those who maintain that the internet is somehow less “real” than the physical world underestimate it’s influence in our lives.

I foresee the growth of a potential great evil, which will place incredible  pressures on our judicial system and perhaps even undermine it.

We have already witnessed individuals using the net to circumvent name suppression, or to foment mass-hysteria targetting  prominent individuals.

Soon after David Bain was found not guilty on five counts of murder in June 2009, at least one website sprang up vociferously maintaining his guilt, and several on-line fora were filled with strident commentary expressing all manner of irrational accusations.

It has been suggested that the concerted force of this stridency had a degree of  influence on Judith Collins throwing out Justice Binnie’s report and recommendations for compensation.

There was  the case of  far right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater, who in September 2010, wilfully broke name suppression of convicted New Zealanders, and in the process  identified the victim of a sex-abuse case. He justified his actions as being some kind of (mis-guided) campaign against name suppression. (See:  Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater guilty)

And recently there was the chap who published the names and images of those alleged to have attacked  cricketer,  Jesse Ryder.

Jordan Mason felt he could take it upon himself to “name and shame” the two men charged with assaulting Jesse Ryder – even though the pair have not yet been tried or convicted. (see: Jesse Ryder attack: Accused felt he had to ‘name and shame’ men)

Garth McVicar’s latest proposal is another step further along the road toward a dystopian near-future. One where  Cyber Mob ‘Justice’ holds undue influence on our judicial system,

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Trust to launch website to 'name and shame' judges

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ: Trust to launch website to ‘name and shame’ judges

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Garth McVicar’s populist vigilantee organisation, the so-called “Sensible Sentencing Trust” is planning a website that has one core function; to be an instrument of punitive reaction against judges who do not measure up to the Trust’s vision of retributive  ‘justice’.

This “Naming & Shaming” has one agenda only – to encourage and foment an influence on our judiciary that is separate from the law, and puts power into the hands of a small clique (McVicar and his cronies). It would exploit the lowest common denominator in our society – ignorance, fear, hatred, and a hunger for violent revenge – and exploit Mob Mentality to achieve it’s ends.

Who amongst us is  not disgusted by the vileness of  certain criminals and their horrific misdeeds. Our primal urge is to exact a fitting revenge – usually involving copious amounts of pain, and a much-shortened life-span. It’s an urge that lurks in the deepest recesses of our reptilian brains.

As a consequence of the socialising aspects of civilisation, we’ve left those urges (mostly) behind us. Though it can be useful when  governments plan  resource-wars against other nations.

The ‘net – as we also know – allows that veneer of civilisation to be stripped away and our primal instincts for punitive  revenge to surface and expressed in emotive terms. The cloak of anonymity can embolden the meekest.

Have a look at the political messageboard forum on TradeMe, and you’ll understand what I mean.

McVicar’s group understand the power of the ‘net to further their agenda for a more punitive society – and they are going hard out to achieve it.

On this issue, I stand with Justice Minister Judith Collins and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson;  who oppose this  ill-disguised step toward mob-”justice”.

Little wonder that the  New Zealand Bar Association condemned this lunatic idea,

We join with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General in condemning this proposal. The Bar Association regards the step as being ill-considered, totally unnecessary and likely to give rise to illegality as contempt of court.

What is being proposed amounts to little more than on-line talk back radio – likely to attract debate and comment of similar quality but with the added disadvantage (or advantage, depending upon one’s perspective) of being permanently available and accessible in the blogosphere.

Judges have an extremely difficult job. They are constantly required to make hard decisions under the mounting pressure of increasing case loads, exacerbated by diminishing resources. Their decisions are rightly the subject of appeal processes which are open and transparent. The daily work of a Judge in court is done publicly and is scrutinised by the news media. If the conduct of a judge is questioned, that conduct can be the subject of complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

Acknowledgement: Scoop – NZBA President on Sensible Sentencing Trust Website Proposal

The author of this statement, Stephen Mills QC, added – and I emphasise the point,

In our society the freedom to criticise is a valued and protected right, but as with most rights there is concomitant responsibility. The responsibility here is that criticism of the judicial arm of our democracy must be responsible, accurate and measured. These characteristics are frequently absent on talk back radio and they are unlikely to be a feature of the invited public comment on this website, given its stated objective.

Making critical comments via email to a website affords the critic a degree of anonymity that is likely to encourage a lack of responsibility in what is said. This is likely to improperly and unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Understandably, the Bar Association has labelled McVicar’s dangerous idea as “irresponsible”  – because that it precisely what it is. The gradual  under-mining of the judiciary would become the inevitable  reality. Ultimately, no one could possibly benefit from this.

It is worthwhile to consider that there are sufficient numbers of disturbed individuals who could take the existence  of  such a website as a license for vigilanteeism. Even those with less nefarious intentions, acting with collective thought and “righteous”  belief, could place pressure on individual judges who would have little means to resist.

Remember the fuss made over the proposed  “Wellywood” sign on Wellington’s hills? This was the online response,

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wellywood

Source: Google

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Which lead to physical-world protest action,

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Poll shows majority opposed to Wellywood sign

Acknowledgement: Otago Daily Times – Poll shows majority opposed to Wellywood sign

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Now extrapolate into others areas of human activity.

Law enforcement and members of the judiciary are vulnerable.  As happened recently in the United States (though no evidence yet exists of  internet-vigilanteeism being a factor),

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Texas district attorney third law official killed in weeks

Acknowledgement: BBC – Texas district attorney third law official killed in weeks

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On 18 April, on Radio NZ’s Nine To Noon programme, Kathryn Ryan interviewed “Sensible Sentencing Trust” spokesperson, Garth McVicar. He told Kathryn,

“… So ultimately the way it’ll work is some of  the judges that are brought to our attention, and we do our due diligence and think, you know,  by our research that we believe they are consistently getting it consistently getting it wrong, they will be named on that  site, as will some of the previous history and some of the decisions they’ve made that we believe earn them the right to be on the site.”

Acknowledgement: Nine to Noon – “Judge the Judges” website to be launched

In other words – we have the potential for a witch-hunt for judges who, by McVicar’s “research that we believe they are consistently getting it consistently getting it wrong, [and] they will be named on that  site “.

Some obvious questions are,

  • Who decides the criteria of  McVicar’s stated “due diligence“?
  • Who will be tasked with bringing “judges… to our attention“?
  • Who decides what constitutes “consistently getting it wrong”?
  • Who decides what aspects of “previous history”  will “ earn them the right to be on the site“?
  • What right of appeal or response will judges be given? The right of appeal is the most basic of rights for a person accused of a “mis-deed”?
  • How will the information be presented?
  • How will judges be identified?
  • Who will be accountable if information is incorrect, or presented out of context?

This Web Vigilanteeism is an unpredented and dangerous road that McVicar and his mates are taking.

Later that same day, on Radio NZ’s Jim Mora’s panel-programme,  to a question from the Host as to how such a website could be moderated, Garth McVicar was at pains to reassure listeners,

“… I’m not sure if many of your listeners know Ruth Money but she’s no fool. And some of the people that are behind her and putting this together are no fools. So it will be well monitored. It won’t become a rant, for,  you know,  a rave site for people to rave on like some of the other sites I believe are. I don’t bother even  looking into them. This is going to maintain the credibility of the organisation… “

Radio NZ – The Panel with Irene Gardiner and Michael Deaker (Part 1)

Sorry – no. That’s not reassuring at all.  McVicar cannot control the end-use of any information that his group publishes on the web. Ruth Money (a SST administrator/spokesperson) may be “no fool” – but who knows about the state of mind of people rreading it?

And if a judge comes to harm – can the SST be held to account?

After all, they are demanding that judges be held to account.

Earlier in this piece, I wrote of the “growth of a potential great evil”.

My fear is that taken to it’s end-conclusion, ‘net-based “Justice” could begin to influence the judicial process more and more.  The day when citizens go on-line to ‘vote’ on the Guilt or Innocence of a person charged with a crime is a far-fetched fantasy.

I would like to keep it that way.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 April 2013.

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References

Otago Daily Times – Poll shows majority opposed to Wellywood sign (24 May 2011)

BBC – Texas district attorney third law official killed in weeks (1 April 2013)

Scoop – NZBA President on Sensible Sentencing Trust Website Proposal (18 April 2013)

Radio NZ – Trust to launch website to ‘name and shame’ judges (18 April 2013)

Radio NZ – Nine to Noon – “Judge the Judges” website to be launched (18 April 2013, audio)

Radio NZ – The Panel with Irene Gardiner and Michael Deaker (Part 1) (18 April 2013, audio)

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Al Nisbet’s next little ‘gem’…

Al Nisbet, cartoonist and panderer to  racist rednecks, presents us with these little ‘gems’…

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290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon

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And this…

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Al Nisbet's racist cartoon (2)

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Well, I guess if we, as a nation, are so fucking pathetic that we can’t address child poverty without a sizeable portion of the population begrudging a bowl of weetbix and milk for the children of the poorest families in the country (because, as we all know, every child has a choice which family they were born into) – well, we might as well poke fun at them.

Nice one, Al.

I’m looking forward to your next cartoon about religion and kids. You know the one. Where a priest is raping a child and you’re making a really witty and “satirical” comment about it.

Ho ho ho…

Funny as, dude.

And screw all those leftie whingers eh? They should just LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP, eh?

Hah! Who sez you can’t laugh about child poverty.

Also looking forward to your next cartoon about solo-mums. Maybe depicting them as lazy crack-whores milking the State?

I’m sure Paula Bennett will get the joke.

Now… what can we draw about cartoonists and their families?

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Categories: Various Tags: , ,

National’s disdain for taking responsibility

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Continued from: National’s disdain for our credulity

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Groucho Marx  politicics

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When things go horribly wrong – whether by accident or negligence – we expect mishaps to be investigated. If a mishap is due to the latter – someone stuffed up –  we demand that those responsible be held to account.

This is what it looks like when people are held to account for their actions,

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Pacific Blue pilot fined, ordered to retrain

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Pacific Blue pilot fined, ordered to retrain

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Rena captain and officer jailed for 7 months

Acknowledgement: Waikato Times – Rena captain and officer jailed for 7 months

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Capital + Merchant's directors face judge

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Capital + Merchant’s directors face judge

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This is what it looks like when no one – especially when in a position of authority – is held to account,

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No blame for Pike River tragedy

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – No blame for Pike River tragedy

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Calls mount for Pike River prosecutions

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Calls mount for Pike River prosecutions

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It simply beggers belief and defies understanding that a Minister of the Crown – Simon Bridges, to be specific – could utter words like this,

At the time of Pike River there’s been serous systemic failures in the old Department of Labour, and as a health and safety regulator they were clearly dysfunctional and ineffectual.

But the problems were truly systematic and no one person was to blame.

Acknowledgement:  Fairfax Media – Pike River report: Learn from tragedy – Minister

So  how on Earth has Bill Birch –  when he was Minister for Labour in the 1990s and was  the architect of de-regulation of the mining sector – gotten off so lightly in the media?

For Birch to say,

It raises the question of why weren’t they addressed if they were obvious deficiencies in the legislation – I don’t believe they were. I think systemic failure is more about people not putting the systems in place.

– is a travesty of everything that decent New Zealanders believe in.

Basically, what this “gentlemen” is saying is that because we, as a country, were lucky enough to get away with no disaster in our mines up until the day that Pike River Mine exploded in a flash of explosive methane – that his “reforms” cannot in any way be blamed?!?!

How in gods’ name does that make any sense whatsoever?!

Why on Earth has the media  not jumped all over this?!

The record of Birch’s “reforms” is readily available for those with the eyes to see, and the inclination to use those eyes.

As I wrote in an earlier blogpost on 29 October last year,

The gutting of the mines inspectorate and permitting self-regulation by mining companies,  had it’s genesis in the early 1990s – again the Bolger-led National government –  where Bill Birch introduced the so-called “Health and Safety in Employment Act”, in 1992.

Under the guise of  “eliminating red tape”, this dangerous piece of legislation allowed mining companies to self-monitor their own activities,

“39. Prior to the enactment of the HSE Act, New Zealand had a ‘mishmash of legislation’[5], in which the duties of employers and others tended to be set out prescriptively and in considerable detail. Under this regime, specification standards directed duty holders as to precisely what preventive measures they must take in particular circumstances. Such standards identified inputs, telling duty holders how to meet a goal, rather than health and safety outcomes to be achieved

42. In undertaking reform, New Zealand, like the UK and Australia before it, was strongly influenced by the British Robens Report of 1972. This report resulted in widespread legislative change, from the traditional, ‘command and control’ model, imposing detailed obligations on firms enforced by a state inspectorate, to a more ‘self-regulatory’ regime, using less direct means to achieve broad social goals

46. New Zealand embraced the Robens philosophy of self-regulation somewhat belatedly, but with particular enthusiasm and in the context of a political environment that was strongly supportive of deregulation. Indeed, in various forms, deregulation (and reducing the regulatory burden on industry more broadly) was strongly endorsed by the Labour Government that came into power in 1984 and by the National Government that succeeded it in 1990. The HSE Act was a product of this deregulatory environment and in its initial version was stripped of some of the key measures recommended by Robens, not least tripartism, worker participation and an independent executive. It was regarded, so we were told, as a ‘necessary evil’ at a time when the predominant public policy goal was to enhance business competitiveness…”

See: Review of the Department of Labour’s interactions with Pike River Coal Limited

The conclusion of this experiment in free market de-regulation lies deep within the Pike River Mine, with the entombed bodies of 29 dead miners.

Unfortunately, the architects of this de-regulation, Bill Birch Birch, Ruth Richardson, and Jim Bolger were never prosecuted for their part in this tragedy.

They should have been.

Of all the political Parties in Parliament, National holds itself up as the torch-bearer for “personal  responsibility”. Their website is littered with references to being the Party of  “personal responsibility (see: National’s Vision For New Zealand).

Where is the responsibility being shown here?

How can 29 people have been killed in a disaster that should never have been allowed to occur – and no one is responsible?

When ordinary people commit acts that endanger the lives of others, or even lead to death(s), the State is quick to hold the (alleged) perpetrators to account.

When acts of endangerments  are committed, leading to death(s), and the State is involved – it appears that  no one person was to blame”.

It’s a “systemic” thing.

Well, to hell with that.

I hold the following to account for the deaths of 29 men at Pike River Mine,

  • Bill Birch
  • Jim Bolger
  • the management of Pike River Mine
  • and the CEOs of the Labour Department from 1992 to 19 November 2010

Every one of these people should be prosecuted for varying degrees of malfeasance leading to manslaughter.

Or else, maybe, we should all just break the law whenever we feel like it,  and not be prosecuted?

We can say it’s  a “systemic” thing.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.

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Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis

W.o.F “reforms” – coming to a crash in your suburb

References

Dominion Post: No blame for Pike River tragedy (11 April 2013)

Fairfax Media: Pike River report: Learn from tragedy – Minister (11 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  Calls mount for Pike River prosecutions (11 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  Lack of consquences over Pike disaster ‘unsatisfactory’ (13 April 2013)

 

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It’s a cat’s life…

It’s not just those cute and/or crazy cat memes on Facebook – Real Life took a weird turn when a sample cat-food satchet turned up in our letter box (with accompanying “menu”-stle advertising brochure).

At first I didn’t take much notice of it and casually chucked it into the pantry with the cat food cans. Next day when I took it out to give to our four-legged, non-rent-paying boarders, the label caught my eye;

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Tuna, surimi, whitebait ?!?!

Who gives their cats whitebait ?!?!

Holy smoke – I don’t eat whitebait! Not when the price-per-kilo is fast approaching that of gold bullion!

Maybe the front label was referring to mock-whitebait. Like surimi is mock-crab?

So I checked the Ingredients list as the back. Yep – there it is; whitebait.

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So, the only thing left – open it up.

With the contents emptied into a bowl,  a visual inspection showed what definitely looks like… whitebait.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA.

What next – crayfish?

Pate de foie gras?

Caviar?

Would the pussy cats like to see the wine menu, perhaps?

Whitebait… I think we’ll stick to cans of  ‘Chef’ or ‘Whiskas’.  I definitely prefer the natural order of things where cats pester us for our food, and not the other way around.

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Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags:

National’s disdain for our credulity

Continued from: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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"There have been covert attempts to acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems''

“There have been covert attempts to acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald: PM’s hacking claims a distraction – Labour

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When Dear Leader’s comments regarding “weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems” hit our  TV screens, our entire household’s immediate reaction was to burst out into derisive laughter.

Surely, there is no f*****g way that this idiot could get away with justifying increasing the GCSB’s power’s to spy on us by claiming that foreign spies were engaged in acts of espionage to “acquire New Zealand science and technology for programmes relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”?!?!

Aside from the fact that we are a Nuclear Free Nation – enshrined in law – what other “weapons of mass destruction” is he referring to; chemical weapons? Bacteriological weapons? Super-Duper Hyper-Atomic Disintergrating Death Rays?!?!

No wonder  the news-readers on TV1 and TV3 had barely concealed facial expressions  that indicated, “Yeah, we don’t believe this bullshit either – but we’re paid to read you this crap, so go make a cuppa coffee or sandwich or feed the cat or something constructive, ‘cos there’s five more minutes of this masterbatory fantasy…”

If New Zealanders buy into this bovine faecal matter, then we are a nation that is truly thicker than I thought possible. Mind you, it seems that at least eight people outside of the National Nuthouse Brigade who are willing to go along with this outrageous exercise in bullshitry,

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NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

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Unbelievable.

Also surprising is that ACT has gone along with this exercise in the growth of State surveillance power.

Isn’t ACT supposedly the Party that advocates smaller government and less intrusion in our lives?

Having the the vast array of electronic gadgetry that the GCSB posesses, with a budget of over $100 million a year (see: Judge who watches the watchers), giving the Bureau even more power to surveil us and intrude into our lives seems a pretty funny way for a supposedly neo-liberal Party to be pushing for smaller government?!

But I guess that kind of inconsistancy is what keeps ACT under 2%, and right-wingers as a source of jokes for comedians.

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https://i0.wp.com/static.stuff.co.nz/1365553304/568/8531568.jpg

Waihopai Spy Base – soon to be reading your emails; listening in on your phone conversations; and looking out for anything “subversive” in your household – like being a Greenpeace or Forest & Bird member.

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It seems extraordinary that Dear Leader wants to extend the GCSB’s powers, when they are already unable to comply with their current legal obligations.

The Bureau wasn’t even able to supply Key’s “go-fer” girl, Rebecca Kitteridge, with documents she demanded as part of her so-called  ‘investigation’,

But in the report, Ms Kitteridge states that there were “many basic documents that I have been unable to find, and that others at the GCSB have struggled to find for me”.

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But what she says is that she couldn’t find some files, and nor could GCSB staff. Mr Key however says it is wrong to assume files were deliberately withheld.

“What she’s saying is they struggled at times to access information – that will indicate there will be areas of where it was filed incorrectly, or it wasn’t kept on file, or it wasn’t kept at all,” says Mr Key.

“She has access to all of the information that is there. If it’s not there, then obviously she cannot access it. There may be reasons for that – others may want to present a different view, but she’s the person who’s been charged with the responsibility to go in there, has had Crown Law and the full support of the new director behind her.”

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key rejects GSCB cover-up

Key’s gobbledegook explanation doesn’t ring true. He may get away with talking to primary school kids like that, but for the rest of us – he’s talking crap.

And this bit is hilarious,

Mr Key says he appointed Mr Fletcher to improve the day-to-day running of the GCSB to prevent mishaps like this from happening, saying the agency needs “significant bulking up in the management”.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Key wants  “significant bulking up in the management”?!

But… but… but… hasn’t National doesn’t spend the last four years cutting the State sector? National has slashed thousands of “back room” and “management” jobs from everywhere from Housing NZ to DoC to the military… but now Key wants to “significant bulking up in the management”?!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; these monkeys in the National “government” haven’t a clue what they’re doing.

Does Key really expect us to buy this horse manure,

Mr Key also rejects claims the Government is planning to change the law to give the GCSB the right to assist police and the Security Intelligence Service in spying on New Zealanders. He says the changes are just a “clarification” of the current law, and the GCSB’s powers “in a lot of ways don’t change”.

Acknowledgement: IBID

He is being a disengenuous dolt when he expects us to swallow the line that the GCSB’s powers “in a lot of ways don’t change”.

Of course they change, you grinning fool. That’s what this is all about.

Key uses the excuse that by not extending the GCSB’s powers that somehow that would leave us open to all kinds of threats; terrorism, cyber attacks, alien invasion…

“As prime minister I am simply not willing to do that. To do nothing would be an easy course of action politically, but it would be an irresponsible one.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax media – Sweeping GCSB changes announced

Funnily enough, New Zealand has survived quite nicely without givcing the GCSB powers to spy on us. We already have the Police and SIS with more legal powers of surveillance than most Kiwis realise.

It’s getting rather crowded with the number of State agencies allowed to peek into our private lives.

Key insists that part of the deal with NZ First is that in return for supporting the Bureau’s extension of their powers, that there will be more  “safeguards” and “oversight” of the spy agency,

“I think GCSB should be able to provide agency support for NZ SIS under the right conditions, and with the right oversight.”

Acknowledgement: NZ City – PM denies inconsistency over GCSB woes

Funny…

Up until now, the GCSB has supposedly had plenty of over-sight.

The Prime Minister is responsible for the GCSB. It one of his portfolio’s,

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John Key minister in charge of the GCSB - government communications security bureau

Acknowledgement: Parliament – Current MPs, John Key

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So… How’s that been working out so far?

Continued at: National’s disdain for taking responsibility

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.

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References

NZ Herald: PM’s hacking claims a distraction – Labour (16 April 2013)

Dominion Post: Key sexing up intelligence, says Shearer (16 April 2013)

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National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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Continued from: National’s disdain for the law

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NZ is prepared for an oil spill

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Protestors vs The Power of The State…

In the late 1970s, one of the very first protest activities I became involved in was highlighting the imprisonment of Soviet dissidents in the now-defunct USSR. (This was of intense interest to me because of my Eastern European heritage.)

The Soviet Union had approximately ten thousand political prisoners locked up in “Corrective Labour Colonies”, “psychiatric” institutions, and various prisons. (Most of which were located in the Moldavian region and not the archetypal Siberian labour camp that Westerners thought characterised the Soviet political penal system.)

Two of the charges commonly laid against Soviet dissidents were “anti Soviet agitation and propaganda” and “slandering the Soviet system.” Either charge could land a hapless political activist in prison for five, seven, ten, or more years.

The heavy sentences were handed down not just to isolate dissidents from their colleagues and the public – but to serve as a dire warning to anyone else who might ‘buck the system’.

That could never happen here in New Zealand, right?

Right?

Wrong.

It is happening here, and now, in our own country.

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico,  in April 2010, it was  little wonder that East Coast locals and environmental activists joined together to protest against deep-sea drilling of their coast.

East Coasters – and the rest of the country – have  had a clear warning of the potential danger of an environmental catastrophe that might strike the region. One that we are simply unprepared for, as the grounding of the MV Rena showed, eighteen months later.

Public disquiet and anger was such that by November 2011,  Key was prepared to be secretive about his meetings and discussions with oil companies,

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Acknowledgement: TV3 -Key keeps meeting with Anadarko boss quiet

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In normal circumstances it would seem unusual that a Prime Minister would keep such a top-level meeting secret. One would think that it should be quite a coup to have  a visiting CEO of such a large corporation visiting New Zealand. Especially where there is Big Money to be made.

Remember Key’s recent big trips to Hollywood? South America? China?

Recently, on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 3 April, 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

Bridges even admitted that vested interests were involved in the law-change,

JESSICA Did mining companies complain to the Government?

SIMON Oh, there have been complaints. Look, I’ve talked with a range of businesses.

JESSICA So isn’t this just basically a sot to mineral companies and mining companies?

SIMON No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think what’s also true is this is best practice. You look at Australia, you look at other countries, they already do this. We’re also, I think, here filling a gap in the sense that to the Territorial Sea – that’s 12 miles out – you already have these sorts of provisions. Even the Exclusive Economic Zone, as I say, a massive area – 4 million-odd square kilometres – there are some provisions for oil rigs and so on. But for these moving vessels, where it was very dangerous and we thought so, that’s where we’re acting.

JESSICA Was this prompted by the Elvis Teddy case?

SIMON Look, that’s certainly part of the genesis of this.

Acknowledgement: IBID

The hypocrisy and self-serving nature of the proposal to criminalise protest action was best exemplified when Bridges assured viewers that he “passionately” supported people’s right to protest,

JESSICA Don’t you think a lot of New Zealanders would agree, though, that people have a right to protest? Even if I’m not out there with a placard, you still support people’s right to be able to do it.

SIMON Absolutely, and I think, you know, that goes to the heart of being a democracy. I believe that passionately. My point is there are a huge variety of ways which New Zealanders can protest about anything. I would never want to stop that, but what they can’t do is dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people’s rights to go about their business.

Acknowledgement: IBID

And yet, when Bridges talks about the right to protest, he is adamant that “what they can’t do is dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people’s rights to go about their business”.

I would submit to the Minister that  proposed legislative changes are directed at the wrong party. It is oil companies that should be prevented from undertaking activicties that would  “dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people’s rights to go about their business” should another blowout send millions of barrels of oil washing across our East Coast.

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MV Rena and Deepwater Horizon oil slicks

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Unfortunately I cannot submit anything to the Minister. No one can. (Except oil companies.)

It  is a startling fact: the proposed law change to criminalise sea-borne protests will not go before a Parliamentary Select Committee. It will be passed through Parliament as a Supplementary Order Paper, meaning that it will avoid Select Committee scrutiny or a Public consultation process.

This blogger cannot emphasise how repugnant this proposed law-change is – nor how much it brings to mind the abuse of State power, as happened in the Soviet/Eastern Europe bloc.

This is how National wants to rule; by decree from the Executive.

Replace “Cabinet”  with “Politburo”, and you begin to get an understanding of what I’m describing  here.

It does away with the Parliamentary process; it avoids scrutiny by a Select Committee; and it eliminates any opportunity for the public to be involved by making submissions.

This is bad law-making.

This is anti-democratic.

This is naked authoritarianism.

This has the hallmarks of a government that distrusts and fears it’s own people and views public inclusion with disdain.

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

This is a desperate, shabby thing that Simon Bridges and his Party are doing.

It is so wrong that I am in disbelief that it is happening.

Continued at: National’s disdain for taking responsibility
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Addendum – Update

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Legislation cracking down on mining protests passes third reading

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Legislation cracking down on mining protests passes third reading

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In just under two weeks, National has rammed this legislative amendment through the House, with the assistance of two grubby MPs who should not even be in Parliament.

Nek Step: National passes legislation banning all protest activity in public places. Key reassures New Zealanders that protest activity will still be legal in the privacy of peoples’ own homes. (Though for assemblies of three or more people, a Police-SIS-ODESC-GSCB  permit will be required.)

Law abiding New Zealanders will having nothing to fear, Dear Leader Key reasurres us, as long as those New Zealanders do nothing.

Continued at: National’s disdain for our credulity

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2013.

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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

References

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

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: The Conspirators

The Daily Blog: The Guts and the Authority: Curbing the Powers of the GCSB

The Daily Blog: Worse Than We Thought: Rebecca Kitteridge and the New “Community” of Spooks

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National’s disdain for the law

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Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss - and mate - Ian Fletcher

Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss – and mate – Ian Fletcher

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 ’Fixing’ the Law when it’s ‘broken’…

As some folk are aware, I have a somewhat “colourful” past. As a young bloke I got carried away with stupid activities; bad driving habits (I saw the speed limit as a ‘recommendation’); heavy boozing; partying; and got on the wrong side of the law. One singular act of stupidity caught up with me over three decades later.

It was only in my mid-twenties and onwards that I started to grow up and – with the help of a few folk – managed to turn my wayward craziness into more productive activities. (Curiously, at the same time I found my political views  moving from centre-right to centre-left… Correlation? Dunno.)

Something I eventually  learned was that the law was there for a reason and the Universe did not revolve around my selfish desires. The law would not change for me – I had to make that change within myself.

Imagine my surprise then, that I have now discovered that the law can be changed for those committing illegal acts,

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Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

Acknowledgement: Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

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So let’s see if I have this right…

  • The GCSB acted illegally by spying on 88 New Zealanders/permanent residents,
  • John Key accepts that they acted outside the law
  • Instead of holding the Bureau accountable, the law will be changed to accomodate their illegality – in effect rewarding them, as Green co-leader, Russell Norman said?

My oh my… So that’s how the system works for those in power? They don’t have to be held accountable – the law can be  amended to sweep their wrong-doing under the carpet!?

I don’t know what the  1,058,638 voters who voted for National think of this. Especially when one of National’s main policy platforms during the 2011 election was the usual “tough on crime”  rhetoric,

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Not so “strong on crime” after all, I guess. Not when it involves a government agency for which  Dear Leader Key himself holds direct responsibility.

I know that New Zealanders have a fetishistic respect for Authority, but isn’t this going several steps too far?

Do we really want the entire GCSB apparatus (paid from our taxes) spying on us?

Do we really want to be taking a step closer to Big Brother watching our every move?

And if National Party supporters are comfortable reading this – before you shrug your shoulders dismissively, just consider for a moment  that the same increased powers of State surveillance will  also be wielded by the next Labour-led government.  How does that grab ya?

Break the law?

No problemo.

We’ll just change it.

John Key has stated,

I think GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Really?!?! Like… “the right oversight” that the  Prime Minister had over the GCSB since 2008? Is that the kind of  “right oversight” that he’s referring to?

Now why is it, I wonder, that his reassurances that the  “GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight” – does not fill me with much confidence?

In fact, why is it that nothing Key sez or does gives me any confidence whatsoever?

Because I’ll share this with the reader for free; if Key couldn’t provide the  ” right oversight ” for the GCSB at it is now – why should we trust it with further enhancing their powers?!?!

The reality appears that National’s plan to legitamise the Bureau’s spying on New Zealanders shows a disdain for the law that, up till now, has only been evident in despotic regimes such as Zimbabwe. This is a dangerous road for any goverment to take.

When an arm of the State breaks the law, the correct response is not to pass laws which legitamises that law-breaking.

It frightens the hell out of me that, in the year 2013AD, this is where New Zealand has arrived. And isn’t it scary when bloggers have to point this out to all and sundry?!

All the previous assurances in the last forty years, from successive governments, that the power of the State will be firmly controlled and monitored – has ultimately proved to be futile. And now the minister for revenue and hairstyling, Peter Dunne, wants to extend information sharing between the IRD and other government agencies, promising us,

Client privacy and confidentiality is paramount in this process.

Acknowledgement: Law Society – IRD and MSD information sharing to be expanded

By the way. Whoever writes these Press Releases should changed the wording,

“Protecting people’s rights to privacy and confidentiality are critical,” Ms Collins says.”

Acknowledgement: The Beehive – Tax info-sharing may help fight crime

So if John Key gets his way, and the GCSB is allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, what’s next? (Because in a few year’s time, the government will want more power for XYZ reasons. Governments are never content with the powers they are given.)

What will follow next? A  “special police force” attached to a more powerful SIS/GCSB entity?

Laws to detain dissidents who might oppose corporate investors or protest at visiting ‘dignitaries’ from other countries where human rights is an arcane, alien concept?

Or even laws which threaten to impose hefty fines and/or jail terms for those who dare protest corporate power?

Like this…

 

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Addendum

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NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

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Trust NZ First to prop up National’s anti-democratic laws. Wouldn’t it be  exquisite irony if the GCSB and SIS have both spied on Winston Peters and recorded some of his shenanigans…

Continued at: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2013.

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Previous related blogposts

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

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

References

Beehive:  Tax info-sharing may help fight crime (9 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Govt proposes IRD share info with police (9 April 2013)

Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald: GCSB needs more oversight – Key (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  John Armstrong: GCSB trickery and deception revealed (11 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  PM out to turn tables on rivals over GCSB (13 April 2013)

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: The Conspirators

The Daily Blog: The Guts and the Authority: Curbing the Powers of the GCSB

The Daily Blog: Worse Than We Thought: Rebecca Kitteridge and the New “Community” of Spooks

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