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Archive for July, 2013

How deep is Key in this mess?

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Key's office ordered records released

Source: Fairfax Media – Key’s office ordered records released

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It now appears that the Prime Minister’s office was involved  in obtaining Andrea Vance’s phone records.

If it can be shown that Key was directly involved – this government will fall.

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When governments go bad

30 July 2013 4 comments

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National Party websites hacked

Source: Radio NZ:

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Governments of all hues, after a while, begin to believe their own spin. Their arrogance in knowing “what is best” for the people grows with each passing day as they listen less, and dictate more.

This comment from Key on 28 July beggars belief,

“At the risk of encouraging them to have more protests, I would actually say those numbers are quite light. It wasn’t anything like what we saw for mining or anything like that.

“A lot of people who would go along [to the protests] would be a) politically aligned, or b), with the greatest of respect, misinformed.”

Source: TVNZ – PM dismisses protests against GCSB Bill as ‘misinformed’

Key forgets himself.

He may be the Prime Minister. He may be on a salary of  $411,510 (plus perks).  He may pass laws that curtail our freedom and privacy.

But in the end he is a civil servant; an elected politician; and one who sits in his office at the will of the people.

Politicians who forget that come to a sticky end in some countries, or in democracies like ours, face the embarressment of being thrown out at the next election.

The hacking of National’s websites is another indication of mounting anger from New Zealanders at National’s dismissal of our concerns and ploughing ahead with unpopular and un-needed legislation.

When governments go bad, they should expect resistance, not respect.

Expect resistance to grow, Dear Leader…

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Hat-tip: The Daily Blog

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New Zealanders – Resist.

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – The peaceful protest march had arrived at Parliament without incident, and people were in good spirits.

The way that democracy is under threat in New Zealand (see: Defence rates investigative journalists as threat), this protester had a point;

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The numbers swelled on Parliament’s grassy grounds;

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Protest organiser, Ariana, welcomed people and explained why the GCSB Bill (and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill) were a threat to our free, open, and democratic way of life in this country;

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A simple appeal from a New Zealander to the government; please don’t spy on me;

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Question – when did we arrive at a state in our affairs when we have to plead for privacy from our own government?

When you think about it, the image below is spot-on. It is more than a little pervy for the State to be spying on it’s citizens and reading all manner of intimate emails, and other electronic communications;

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Young people who wanted their message seen;

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The flags of Mana and The Greens, fluttering in the unseasonably warm July breeze;

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Mick’s telescope, set up to peer up at the Ninth Floor of the Beehive;

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Were there really on “500” people attending, as the media (except TVNZ) claimed? Look for yourself;

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Is that a  statue of Lenin holding the red flag?!

And another shot of the rally numbers ;

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That looks a tad more than “500” to me. My guesstimate – between 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Green Party co-Leader addressed the rally. He said that when National MPs sneer at you, remember that they are frightened of you.

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (46)

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With a wry grin, and semi-seriously, Russell  also suggested that everyone submit OIA requests to the GCSB asking how many had attended the rallies around the country. He said it might be fun to tie them up so they could not spy on us.

He finished of by repeating that “we should reject mass surveillance and reject this Bill“.

Billy McKee, from the Green Cross, then addressed the rally, vowing that he would lead an occupation to oppose this Bill;

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Organiser, Ariana, interviewed by a TV1 News team;

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Ploughshares Aotearoa Peace campaigner, Adrian Leason, who along with two other activists,  entered the Waihopai spy base and deflated one of the domes, addressed the rally;

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He encouraged concerned citizens everywhere to “disarm the plastic covers on the spybase” and put the facility out of operation. He said the Waihopai base spied on the United Nations, including diplomats and staff.

Adrian told the rally that Warner Bros had requested the GCSB to spy on Kim Dotcom. He said that worrying about the loss of our privacy was only “one piece of the bigger puzzle”.

His address was warmly received by the rally.

Civil liberties campaigner/Tech Liberty co-founder, Thomas Beagle,  followed;

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Thomas said that the GCSB bill was about “mass surveillance”  and expanding the power of the State,

“It’s about spying on everyone, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’re going to do. This sort of mass surveillance changes the balance of power in our society away from the people and towards the state.

I believe in the right to privacy, I believe in the right to sit in my house and call my friends on the phone without the Government listening.

I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of association, for people not being scared into silence because they are being watched by Government spies.”

[Blogger’s note: actual quote taken from msm.]

The next speaker was veteran peace and social justice campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie read out a long list of legislation that successive governments had passed over the last decade that had, in some way, taken away some aspect of our civil liberties;  increased the power of the State; or elevated the primacy of corporate power over our own rights.

She condemned the GCSB’s close links to American spy agencies, saying that we “do not need our every movement logged by the NSA“.

Valerie said that the greatest struggle was to protect our freedoms. She said,

“Enough, we will not take any more. The struggle goes on for a free society.”

It was an amazing turnout for Wellington, Valerie said; “we are winning!”

Following Valerie, CTU President, Helen Kelly addressed the rally;

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Helen said that this government was becoming a bully. She said, “Don’t buy into ‘nothing to fear so have nothing to hide. We all have things we want to hide and keep to ourselves“. That was called privacy, she said.

Helen reminded the rally that this government has been abusing its power by persecuting beneficiaries and has only recently tried to access a journalist’s records in the Peter Dunne case,

“Peter Dunne – who did not want his emails read!”

Following Helen was Rimutaka Labour MP, Chris Hipkins;

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Chris said that there was a fundamental principle that we all have a right to privacy. He criticised Ohariu MP, Peter Dunne as “wrong to sell his vote“.

Chris then announced the following policy statement,

“We will work to have it repealed!”

Chris’s policy pledge echoes that of Labour MP, David Cunliffe, who announced at an anti GCSB Bill  public meeting in Auckland on Friday 26 July,

“The Labour Party has a proud tradition of taking on evil and inequitous legislation whether it’s apartheid or nuclear weapons or other things of that nature. Our leader has committed to a thourough review of this legislation and based upon what’ve have heard tonight, I personally, and I’m sure my caucus colleagues, will be of the view that this legislation must not, will not, and cannot stand!”

See previous blogpost: David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

This is another clear indication that Labour is committed to repealing this damnable piece of legislation, should it lead the next government.

We will hold them to that promise.

In which case, what does it profit National, and it’s smile and wave leader, to pass unpopular legislation, knowing that it will not survive a change of government?

In Kiwi parlance, the Nats are  on a hiding to nowhere.

Time to give it up, Mr Key.

Brief vid of Wellington street march

Source: Youtube – Chris Russell

Blogger’s Postscript

Ironically, it is Peter Dunne who will not release his email correspondence between himself and Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, insisting on his privacy – or “Parliamentary privilege”, as he calls it.

Dunne insists on maintaining his privacy (whilst voting away ours). When Inquiry head, David Henry, requested Parliamentary Service access to Andrea Vance’s internal office telephone records, he was indignant,

“They went far too far. It’s now clear he didn’t have the authority to do what he claimed to do. The fact that a journalist’s records were sought without her approval is a significant impingement on her rights and freedoms.”

I hope Parliament’s air-conditioning is working properly. The stench of hypocrisy must be over-powering.

Meanwhile, from South Korea, Dear Leader Key responded to Saturday’s nationwide street marches,

“I accept there are some that will always feel a bit nervous about privacy and their own rights, but I can give you the best assurance I can that we’re very careful and cautious about what we do as a state. But in the end we do have to protect the interests in New Zealanders.”

Source: NZ Herald – Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

The public though – or at least a considerable majority – do not trust Key as much as he would believe,

A 3News Reid Research poll released on Thursday night asked 1000 voters who they believed – 52 per cent said Dotcom, 34 per cent said John Key, and the rest didn’t know or didn’t care.

Source: MSN News – Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

If I were Key, I would not be so smug and arrogant as to think that we trust him to “protect the interests in New Zealanders”.

Spying on New Zealanders is not “protecting our interests”. More likely, it suggests how much he fears us.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 July 2013.

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More images

Facebook: Alastair Foster

Media References

MSN News: Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

Dominion Post: Thousands join rally against GSCB

NZ herald: Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

TV3: Protesters turn out to oppose GCSB bill

TVNZ: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets

Radio NZ: Protests in Auckland, Wellington against security bill

Newstalk ZB: Anti-GCSB feelings growing – Norman

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 or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

30 July 2013 1 comment

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Wellingtonians (and from further afield) met  downtown in Cuba Mall, to protest National’s planned GCSB Bill.

Placards ranged from professionally printed;

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– to the artistic and decorative;

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To a simple, single, word;

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Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, walking in the midst of other marchers,

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This shy young lad, eleven years old, made his own protest placard from scratch, downloading and pasting images from the internet. This was his first protest march;

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A message that should strike anxiety the the fear of god into the hearts of politicians; losing votes when they piss people off;

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27-july-gcsb-bill-spying-peter-dunne-parliament-wellintgton-new-zealandKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Who says that young people aren’t interested in politics or political issues any more?

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More young folk, with a very wise message to our elected representatives, Alex with his home-made placard;

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Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

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At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Bowen St, and Whitmore St, one of the protest march organisers, Ariana (with loud-hailer), led an impromptu sit-down;

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Valerie, taking pics of the event;

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After about five or ten minutes, as the march was moving again to the gates of Parliament, this lone chap decided to yell out “retards” and other expletives at the protesters. His name is Eddie;

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Eddie

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I went up to Eddie and asked his why he called the protesters “retards”.

Eddie was upset that buses had stopped moving up Lambton Quay and he was worried that the chicken he had bought at the supermarket would develop salmonella. He said the protesters should be marching along the footpath and not the road. I asked Eddie how 3,000 to 5,000 people could fit onto a footpath.

He had no response.  He said the protest should have taken place when people weren’t at work. I suggested to him that a protest march of this size would be less of a nuisance to traffic on a Saturday afternoon than had been held during the week. I then asked him if he knew what the issues surrounding the GCSB Bill were, and that maybe it was important enough to warrant a temporary, minor inconvenience.

At first Eddie denied knowing anything about the issue. When asked again, he admitted knowing that the GCSB’s powers were to be expanded “to spy on us all”.

When I asked him if that was an important issue of public concern he muttered something and walked off.

I hope he enjoys his chicken.

Meanwhile, those with more pressing issues on their minds had reached the entrance to  Parliament – only to find that the main gate had been locked. Only two side-gates, which were barely wide enough to allow passage for one or two people at a time, were open.

Undeterred, those who were fit, young, and with enthusiastic energy went over the gates as well as around;

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Not quite the storming of the Bastille – but their hearts were in the right place;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (36)

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A note to the smart-arse news-editors on TV3 who quipped that protesters climbed over the main gate “even though there was another gate open right next to them” – mis-representing an event does not inspire confidence in your ability to be accurate and fair in your reporting.

Try getting 3,000-plus people through a small gap in any meaningful period of time. The entrance-way in question is to the right of the main gate in the image below;

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Very disappointing that TV3 chose to make such a cheap shot.

As people squeezed through the side entrances, others continued to climb the barrier. The symbolism was obvious;

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This young woman – with the sign “We are NZ!!! Not USA!” – climbed the gate and grinned with satisfaction;

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Once through (or over) the gates, New Zealand citizens made their way up the road through Parliament grounds;

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More people arrived. In this shot, you can clearly see the bottleneck at the front gates;

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Parliament’s grounds were once again in the possession of the People.

To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

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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 or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Between 3,000 to 5,000 people (not the “500” estimated by the Dominion Post, NZ Herald, and TV3) took part in a march in Wellington on a bright, warm Saturday afternoon.

People assembled in Cuba Mall near the Bucket fountain, and when we arrived there were already at least a thousand people in attendence.

This shot looks south; the crowd extends all the way to the Cuba Mall/Ghuznee Street intersection;

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com   - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

Cuba Mall – looking south

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The rest of the crowd, looking northward, from my same vantage point (on the Bucket Fountain’s wall);

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Cuba Mall was effectively packed with people who had joined the protest march. Only TV1 got the numbers right (see: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets)

There were people from all walks of life; all ages; all races; all demographics. Families like this one;

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L-R: Rebecca, Karl, Charley, and Alida

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I was reliably informed that Rebecca’s tongue-poking was directed at Dear Leader, and not at myself. But one cannot be 100% certain…

Many of the signs carried messages on both sides, like Mick’s;

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People’s messages were often witty and well thought out;

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Dillon and Tanya

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Other’s got straight to the point – stop stealing our human right to privacy;

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Paul and Bev from the  Ohariu electorate  both expressed their disgust at Peter Dunne’s behaviour. Neither would be voting for him again, they both said;

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Their signs had messages on both sides as well – typical ingenuity from New Zealander’s famed “no 8 fencing wire” can-do attitude;

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Dunne must be either brave or foolish to be alienating his voters in this fashion.

Shortly after we arrived, the march took off, headed to Parliament. By this time, numbers had swelled and more people would join as the march moved along Wellington’s streets;

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Politicians should take note – the protesters weren’t just radicals, activists, and suchlike – these were ordinary New Zealanders who rarely take to the streets.

What some placards lacked in political rhetoric and ideology, they more than made up in straight Kiwi talk;

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And some folk  have just had a gutsful of this increasingly autocratic government and want a chance to change things at the ballot box;

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Many of the placards were obviously home-made, by ordinary citizens. Not exactly the “rent a mob” that Key and other Tories have claimed in the past, whenever they dismiss protest movements;

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And some were downright creative in their style and message;

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Home-made or pre-printed, the messages were crystal clear; people do not want the GCSB spying on us;

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And some were pretty ‘earthy’ in their wording – but I think most fair minded folk can empathise with the passion behind the message;

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More creativity;

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Even  businesspeople  like  Helen and Chelfyn were out on the street to protest. They found a simple, but novel way to  spoof the threat of many eyes watching us,

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To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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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 or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

2013 – The Year We Became a Policed Surveillance State

30 July 2013 2 comments

Mark 2013AD  in our history books. It is the year that we became a Policed Surveillance State…

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Dear Leader is Watching

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Peter Dunne has capitulated to John Key’s “compromises”, and will give National his support to pass the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill.

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Dunne backs expanded spy powers

Source: Fairfax Media – Dunne backs expanded spy powers

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Peter Dunne’s sell-out should bring no joy to civil libertarians and to those New Zealanders who understand the full implications of these two proposed laws.

Every New Zealander will now potentially be under surveillance. Everyone.

The passing of these two Bills is not the end of the story, however. National also has another plan in store for us,

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Kindy kids to have ID numbers

Source: NZ Herald – Kindy kids to have ID numbers

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The numbering of children will begin with beneficiary families. That’s how it usually begins; with those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and who have been so completely dehumanised by constant vilification and finger-pointing that the Middle Classes no longer consider them as human. Certainly not people they feel empathy with.

Such is the purpose of  well-designed, repetitive, propaganda. The Big Lie.

Of course, once New Zealanders are accustomed to the numbering and surveillance of beneficiary children – National will eventually expand the programme to include all children from all families. Everyone will become a number.

The numbering of  our children – coming to all Kiwi families Real Soon.

Quasi-fascists and naive right-wing bloggers such as that witless, lying fool, Cameron Slater, are positively wetting themselves with delirious joy that New Zealand is a step further to being a Policed Surveillance State.

This could only have come about because of Key’s popularity with the Right Wing and the lumpen-proletariat/middle classes. (XYZ Factor anyone?! Out-House Improvement?? Survivor Eketahuna?!!?)

Had Labour tried to pass these two Bills, the Right would be fainting  from apoplexy-inspired coronary attacks and the media headlines would be written in gory, blood-red headlines damning the rise of the ‘Big Brother’ State.

God knows the fuss over shower-heads raised the level of hysteria to heights not seen since the 1950s “red scare”.

But because our high-polling, smile & wave, Prime Minister is fronting this massive expansion of  State power, only the Left and a few other isolated voices are vocal in their objection.

Interestingly – but unsurprisingly –  several of Slater’s own commentators expressed unease at National’s expansion of the GCSB’s powers. One poster made this unerringly accurate observation,

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comment on GCSB Bill - whaleoil blog

Source: Whaleoil – Peter Dunne has found his stones, will support GCSB bill

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Slater’s readers seem brighter than the sleaze-meister himself.

So much for Rightwing rhetoric about getting the State out of our lives and reducing the role of government…

But Cows4me has made a valid point (one which Slater doesn’t – or can’t – answer).

The GCSB and telco Bills are being passed by a government “friendly” to rightwingers. So nothing to fear, as Slater and some of his brain-numb sycophants keep telling themselves.

Except…

Every three years, we have these little events called “elections”.

And every so often, the public – bless their cotton socks – tire of rightwing economic orthodoxy and vote for a left-wing government to clean up the social mess created by National policies. As happened in November 1999.

Allowing the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens, and employing the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill, gives an awful lot of power to Prime Ministers – including left-wing Prime Ministers.

Rightwing bloggers like Slater and David Farrar often receive leaks from various Parliamentary sources.

The same applies to left-wing bloggers.

Now imagine that a left-wing government is elected in 2014 (still a strong possibility despite some shonkey polls)…

Imagine that rightwing bloggers go into hyper-drive with their sledging of the new government…

And imagine that a Minister in the new government becomes pissed off with something that Slater or Farrar or some other RWNJ blogger writes…

The Minister has a chat with the PM… the PM has a quiet word with the new head of the GCSB… the GCSB checks the internet activities of Right Wing blogger Mr X… and discovers that Mr X has been secretly chatting up young ladies on Facebook. Which is something that Mr X’s wife might take a dim view of.

And lo! A left-wing blogger is leaked this information and posts some very strong hints about Mr X’s proclivities and activities on his/her own blog… (In fact, there might even be a new blogsite created, by an anonymous left-wing blogger, for just this very purpose.)

If I were Slater or Farrar or any of their rightwing fellow-bloggers, I would not be so chirpy at the GCSB being given such vast new powers. In fact, I’d be hoping that my past and current life  is squeaky-clean.

Same goes for commentators on right-wing blogs who hide behide the anonymity of pseudonyms. A GCSB operative checking IP numbers and relying on their new powers granted under the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment would soon reveal their true identities.

Imagine then, if you will, that it was discovered that a commentator was posting from a work station. How would his/her employer feel if they were informed that their employee was indulging in blogging activity during work hours?

Unlikely, you might think?

Not really. Government ministers already leak information to bloggers.

And Paula Bennett certainly didn’t think twice before releasing private details of two solo-mothers in 2009,

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No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

Source: NZ Herald – No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

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Politics just got a whole lot more “interesting”.

Welcome to New Zealand, the Policed Surveillance State of the 21st century.

Next step,

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ID Card

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Followed by,

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barcoded humans

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Unlikely?

That’s what was promised about the GCSB when it was first set up in 1977 by Rob Muldoon: it would never be allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens.

People trusted Muldoon then.

As people trust Key now.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2013.

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Detroit – neo-liberalism’s “Grand Success”

29 July 2013 3 comments

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Detroit files for bankruptcy

Source: Radio NZ – Detroit files for bankruptcy

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America’s grand experiment in neo-liberal capitalism has claimed it’s third bloody sacrifice; Detroit (after Jefferson County, Alabama, and Stockton, California).

Detroit now owes US$18.5 billion in debt. It has declared itself officially bankrupt – the largest US city ever to do so.

There are no doubt several reasons for Detroit’s current economic decline and its inevitable urban decay, but it is a dying city nevertheless,

The governor painted a picture of a city in collapse. Citizens wait 58 minutes for the police to respond to calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes. Only a third of ambulances were in service in the first quarter of 2013. There are approximately 78,000 abandoned buildings in the city. The unemployment rate had nearly tripled since 2000 and the homicide rate was at its highest level in 40 years, he said. Detroit is unable to meet its most basic obligations to its residents, let alone its creditors.

Source: UK Guardian – Detroit becomes largest US city to file for bankruptcy in historic ‘low point’

Jobs in the industry have dropped by 40 percent since 2000, from 1.3 million to 800,000“, wrote Evan Soltas for Bloomberg.

Michael Snyder, writing in theeconomiccollapseblog.com, posted  17 Facts About The Decline Of The U.S. Auto Industry That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe,

#1 The average age of an automobile in the United States has gone up more than 50% since 1990 and is now sitting at an all-time record of 10.8 years.  The average length of a marriage in the United States that ends in divorce is only 8 years.

#2 Germany made 5.5 million cars in 2010.  The United States made less than half that (2.7 million).

#3 When you add up salary and benefits, the average auto worker in Germany makes $67.14 an hour.  In the United States, auto workers only make $33.77 an hour in salary and benefits.

#4 Back in 2000, about 17 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.  During 2011, less than 13 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.

#5 Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe?  Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts with the rest of the world of $110 billion.

#6 Japan builds more cars than anyone else on the globe.  Japan now manufactures about 5 million more automobiles than the United States does.

#7 In 2010, South Korea exported approximately 12 times as many automobiles to us as we exported to them.

#8 According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to new tariffs.

#9 U.S. car companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars building shiny new automobile factories in China.

#10 In 1970, General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market.  Today, that figure is down to about 20 percent.

#11 The combined U.S. market share of the “Big Three” American car companies fell from 70% in 1998 to 53% in 2008.

#12 Detroit was once known as the “Motor City”, but in recent decades automobile production has been leaving Detroit at a staggering pace.  One analysis of census figures found that 48.5% of all men living in Detroit from age 20 to age 64 did not have a job during 2008.

#13 Today, only Chrysler still operates an automobile assembly line within Detroit city limits.

#14 Since Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, the company has reduced its North American workforce by nearly half.

#15 Today, only about 40 percent of Ford’s 178,000 workers are employed in North America, and a significant portion of those jobs are in Canada and Mexico.

#16 The average Mexican auto worker brings in less than a tenth of the total compensation that a U.S. auto worker makes.

#17 In the year 2000, the U.S. auto industry employed more than 1.3 million Americans.  Today, the U.S. auto industry employs about 698,000 people.

Item #9 is off particular relevance to New Zealand, because we are doing precisely the same thing;

U.S. car companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars building shiny new automobile factories in China.

As Forbes posted in May 2010, in an article  U.S. Companies That Invest Big In China,

General Motors and Volkswagen have invested billions in China, starting more than a decade ago. Ford is rushing to catch up by adding production capacity and expanding its dealer network in China. Ford and its joint-venture partner, Chang’an Ford Mazda Automobile, plan to start producing next-generation Ford Focus models at a new, $490 million plant in Chongqingin 2012.

Essentially, the United States car manufacturing industry has been busy exporting it’s production facilities and jobs to other low-wage  countries – China and Mexico to give two examples.

Here in New Zealand, we’ve done pretty much the same thing; gutted  our manufacturing sector by  busily exporting it to China (and elsewhere) where wages are low, in comparison to New Zealand workers*,

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Rakon blames job cuts on high dollar

Source: Radio NZ – Rakon blames job cuts on high dollar

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This, essentially, is the end-result of eliminating tariffs with so-called “free trade” agreements. Except, these agreements are not  “free” at all. They cost jobs.

For every pair of cheap Skellerup  “Red Band” gumboots you and I buy at The Warehouse – New Zealander’s jobs were sacrificed,

The first pairs of Red Band Men’s gumboots retailed for twenty five shillings and 11 pence. Red Band gumboots continued to be made at Skellerup’s Woolston factory in Christchurch until the late 1980s when economic considerations forced the company to move production offshore.

Source

So how cheap are those gumboots made in China?

The economic cost of  people out of work is astronomical: $805,759,000 for the 2012/13 period alone (Unemployment Benefit and Emergency Benefit (M63) – Vote Social Development – Estimates of Appropriations 2013/14)

The social cost is beyond a dollar value.

And yet, it was not always like this. Once upon a time, we had full employment.

In 1973, the numbers of registered unemployed (not including overall jobseekers) stood at 2,321. (source)

By June 2008 the number of registered unemployed (not including overall jobseekers) had increased to 17,710. (Pre Global Financial Crisis recession.)(source)

Forty years later, by June this year, after de-regulation, free trade treaties, abolition of tariffs, and the dismantling employment legislation and the trade union movement, the number of registered unemployed (not including overall jobseekers) increased to 48,438. (IBID)

The actual numbers of jobless, according to regular Household Labour Force Surveys, is much higher (currently at  146,000). (source)

It could be said that the cost of those  cheap, foreign-made Redband gumboots (and other consumer goods)  is costing taxpayers $805,759,000 per annum.

Conformist middle class consumers, if they read this, would probably shrug and dismiss it from their minds. Such matters as Detroit and the pernicious consequences of  the “free” market (which, as I have shown, is not “free”) on our employment, economy, and social fabric is beyond their ken.

It doesn’t affect them directly so they blot it from their minds.

They simply look at a pair of  Redband gumboots and see the printed pricetag.

After all, the capricious nature of neo-liberalism such as the fate of Detroit could never happen here, right?

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Wellington Dying - John Key - 7 May 2013

Capital a dying city says Prime Minister – Dominion Post – 7 July 2013

Source: Dominion Post (scanned hard-copy)

Related story: Dominion Post – Shearer slams PM over capital dying quip

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* Yes, there are other serfs in the world paid less than Kiwis.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 July 2013.

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David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

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live video stop the GCSB Bil Public Meeting Live 25 July 2013

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In Auckland this evening – at the Stop the GCSB Bill Public Meeting – Labour MP David Cunliffe answered a question from an audience member and committed an incoming Labour government to overturning the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

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GCSB public meeting - david cunliffe

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Referring to his Leader, David Shearer, and his colleagues, David Cunliffe  said, at  1: 15: 52,

“The Labour Party has a proud tradition of taking on evil and inequitous legislation whether it’s apartheid or nuclear weapons or other things of that nature. Our leader has committed to a thourough review of this legislation and based upon what’ve have heard tonight, I personally, and I’m sure my caucus colleagues, will be of the view that this legislation must not, will not, and cannot stand!”

See full video here,

http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/07/25/live-video-stop-the-gcsb-bill-public-meeting-from-7pm

This was met with rapturous applause from the audience.

If this pledge is honoured by a Labour-led government then, to use an over-done cliche – this is a game-changer. It means that the constant growth and expansion of State powers will – for possibly the first time in our history – be reversed.

If Labour campaigns on this, it will prove a damaging hit to National.

In effect, the Left will be the movement to wind back the powers of  government, and thus reducing the State from our lives.

Ayn Rand will be spinning in her grave!

Panel speakers were  Kim Dotcom, Dame Anne Salmond, Dr Rodney Harrison, and Thomas Beagle. The event was chaired by retired Supreme Court, Judge Sir Edmund Thomas.

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= fs =

Dolphin trains human to perform…

26 July 2013 1 comment

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I, for one, welcome our new cetacean Overlords, as they smile benignly over us…

It worked for this guy…

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john Key smile and wave

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= fs =

Benefit fraud? Is Chester Borrows being totally upfront with us?!

As I blogged five months ago, when National is attacked with bad publicity, it’s Party strategists retaliate;

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National under attack – defaults to Deflection 2 - chester borrows - welfare reforms - beneficiary bashing

See previous blogpost:  National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

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As I wrote in the above blogpost, when threatened with bad headlines or a scandal of some description, National’s automatic defense is to generally to default to one of three deflections;

  1. Blame previous the Labour government
  2. Release story on ‘welfare abuse’
  3. Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event

In February of this year,  the Auditor-General released a report into Key’s dealings with Skycity. The resulting  publicity became positively toxic for the Nats.

Toby Manhire, in a Listener  article dated 19 February, listed  ten quotes from the AG”s report, which were highly  damning of National. It was by no means the “vindication” that Key claimed (knowing full well that 99% of the public would never read the AG’s report).

On cue, Associate Social Development Minister, Chester Borrows, issued media releases on National’s latest “crack down” on “welfare abuse”;

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Government cracking down on benefit fraud

Source

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National is once again being hit by a slew of bad headlines;

Smith gives nod for open-cast coal mine on conservation land

NZ unprepared for a deep water oil spill,  Greens say

Consumers hard hit by hefty electricity price rises

National’s fix over GCSB draws a storm of protest

Loans door shutting on first-home buyers

High petrol prices hit struggling families

Job ad stall hints at unemployment rise

SkyCity deal doesn’t add up: Treasury

Housing plan ‘a weak compromise’

And again,  on cue, Chester Borrows has done his bit, by defaulting to Option #2,

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beneficiary bashing - chester borrows - paula bennett - social welfare - welfare abuse - bene bashing

Source: Radio NZ – Thousands stopped from getting benefits not entitled to

Checkpoint: Listen to Chester Borrows on Checkpoint

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However, Borrows is mis-leading the public in one respect. On 18 July, the Minister released a media statement where he said,

“Enhanced information sharing between Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has identified and stopped 3139 illegitimate benefits in just six months, says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows…

[…]

… The enhanced information sharing started earlier this year, highlighting beneficiaries whose taxable income did not match what they had declared to MSD. MSD staff reviewed each case, and where the beneficiary was earning enough income that they were no longer eligible to receive a benefit, that benefit was stopped.”

Source: Beehive – Information sharing stops more welfare fraud

This is simply untrue.

WINZ announced this in May last year – over a year ago,

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IRD and MSD improve information sharing

Source: WINZ – IRD and MSD improve information sharing

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But even earlier than last year, MSD/WINZ were leeping track of their “clients”. The following two letters are from an acquaintance, who luckily keeps every piece of correspondence from government departments.

The first is from 2009,

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winz-letter-2009

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[Published with permission.]

The letter clearly states,

“We regularly compare our records with other government agencies…”

(Note; the over-lap that so concerned the MSD was a matter of two weeks, and centered more around confusion as to when the WINZ “client” was deemed to start work.)

The second letter is from 2001,

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WINZ letter 2001

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[Published with permission.]

Even in 2001 – twelve years ago – WINZ and the Immigration Dept were comparing information.

Accordingly, I have emailed Chester Borrows, seeking clarification of  his claim that information sharing is a “recent development”. I have also sought details of the alleged 3,139 cases of benefit “fraud” that Borrows has asserted;

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Chester.Borrows@parliament.govt.nz
date:     Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM
subject:     OIA Request Please

Kia Ora Mr Borrows,

I am lodging  an OIA request with your office.

According to recent media releases from your office, 3,139 cases of alleged benefit fraud has been identified, including 1,948 people who were wrongly getting the unemployment benefit and 559 illegitimately on the sickness benefit. These cases all supposedly invloved working whilst receiving a WINZ Benefit.

My questions are;

1. Over what period of time were these 3,139 cases detected?

2. When did IRD and WINZ begin sharing information?

3. Does WINZ and the Dept of Immigrqation also share information on WINZ beneficiaries who travel overseas whilst in receipt of a benefit?

4. When did that WINZ/Immigration Dept arrangement, in respect to Q3,  begin?

5. What other government ministeries, departments, SOEs, and other bodies does WINZ share information with?

6. When did those arrangements, in respect in Q5, begin?

[and in a follow-up email shortly thereafter.]

7. Of the 3139 illegitimate benefits  found, what was the time period involved with people receiving a benefit and earning income from another source?

How many were within the following periods;

– 1 week

– 2 weeks

– 3 weeks

– 4 weeks

– 2 months

– 3 months

– 6 months

– Over 6 months – under one year

– Over one year

8. How many prosecutions have been undertaken of all nine cohorts listed above?
9. How many have been convicted?

10. How many were in actual employment whilst receiving a welfare benefit, as opposed to some other source of income?

I look forward to your response within the legislated time period.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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If the rest of Minister Borrows’ claims are as dubious as his assertion that information sharing between government department “started earlier this year” – then all claims and comments from National ministers demand checking and confirmation.

Otherwise, claims of mass benefit fraud appear to be little more than a propaganda exercise designed to deceive the public and deflect criticism  from economic and social problems that National appears stymied to address.

At the very least, Borrows is taking credit for a policy – inter-departmental information sharing – that has been in place since 2001, at least. How many times can politicians take credit for policies they had little or no part in implementing?!

Wouldn’t that  be fraudulent on the part of the Minister?

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Image

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 July 2013.

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Our growing housing problem…

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Muldoon and Key

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“Ministers have signalled that changes could include widening access to KiwiSaver contributions and subsidies, as well as boosting the government-guaranteed Welcome Home Loan scheme that is exempt from LVR calculations. “

Source: Fairfax Media – Few first home buyer details in PM speech

Well, so much for saving for our retirement instead of investing in property and thus fuelling an unsustainable, speculative housing bubble. The whole point of Kiwisaver was twofold,

  1. To create a local investment fund from which business could borrow, so we were not so desperately reliant on foreign capital. Our Aussie cuzzies currently have A$1.3 trillion-dollars invested in their  compulsory savings funds.
  2. To give New Zealanders – especially baby-boomers – a better standard of living upon their retirement.

In July 2008, Key promised not to interfere with Kiwisaver –  “there won’t be radical changes…there will be some modest changes to KiwiSaver”   – and like most of his promises, they are blown in the wind.

Source: NBR – Key signals ‘modest changes’ to KiwiSaver
All because Key and his cronies are unable to address the housing crisis directly;

  1. Introduce a capital gains tax (my preference is that it matches the company tax, and not GST)
  2. Restrict ownership to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents
  3. Begin a programme of home construction – including 10,000 state houses per year
  4. Pay the Unemployment Benefit as an incentive to employers to employ more apprentices
  5. Reduce/eliminate all fees for trades training course
  6. And long term: promote regional development to take pressure of Auckland and other highly urbanised areas.

But the Nats won’t do any of this. That would involve systematic State planning on a level that Key and his cronies would never countenance. It would fly in the face of their right wing ideology for minimal State involvement in housing and other economic activities.

(Unless you are Warner Bros or Skycity, in which case the Nats have an open chequebook to throw taxpayers’ money at corporate welfare.)

The only thing National is capable of is short term, self-serving policy-changes. Never mind that such changes create long term harm to our economy and social fabric.

Gutting Kiwisaver is economic sabotage – much like Muldoon did in 1975 (see:  Brian Gaynor: How Muldoon threw away NZ’s wealth).

Meanwhile, people desperate to get into their own homes are raiding their Kiwisaver accounts – effectively “stealing” from their own future;

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Hot property Home-buyers rush to cash in KiwiSaver

Source: Dominion Post – Hot property: Home-buyers rush to cash in KiwiSaver

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Never let it be said that the Nats learn from history…

*pfffft!*

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Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

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To Ohariu Voters who I have wronged…

24 July 2013 6 comments

… my apologies.

Not all of you voted for the man who sold his soul for whatever benefits he gained from his Master…

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peter dunne john key

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Truly, Mr Dunne, you have lost your way.

You resisted with all your might, to prevent the release of your emails with journalist Andrea Vance. You cried “Parliamentary Privilege” from here to Mt Olympus.

Now, with your able assistance, and paid a handsome reward for your turning, the State will be able to read our emails.

Tell me, sir. What did it benefit you, to have gained the Prime Minister’s favours, and lose your integrity?

 

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Congratulations Ohariu voters…

23 July 2013 5 comments

… your MP has declared his support for legislation that will turn New Zealand into a Policed Surveillance State,

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Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

Source: NBR – Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

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Is this what you expected of your MP?!

If not, drop him a line and tell him that Big Brother is not on your Christmas “wish list”.

peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz

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6.5 Earthquake hits North Island…

21 July 2013 8 comments

… John Key blames previous Labour government.

… Paula Bennett blames drunk welfare beneficiaries.

… Ken Ring blames Full Moon heavier than Quarter Moon.

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= fs =

 

 

Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags:

A Question to Hugh Rennie, Counsel for the NZDF…

19 July 2013 4 comments

A letter to the editor, sent today (19 July),

from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM
subject:     letter to the ed

The Editor

DOMINION POST

Sir/Madam,

In the recent defamation trial brought against the Defence Force by  freelance journalist Jon Stephenson, the lawyer for the defendent, the NZ Defence Force, Hugh Rennie said that if Mr Stephenson won the case, he deserved only a $10 payout.

I trust Mr Rennie’s bill to the NZDF will also be for the amount of $10?

-Frank Macskasy

(address & phone number supplied)

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Categories: The Body Politic

Citizen A with Martyn Bradbury, Chris Trotter, & Selwyn Manning

– Citizen A –

– 19 July 2013 –

– Chris Trotter, & Selwyn Manning –

This week on Citizen A host Martyn Bradbury, Chris Trotter, and  Selwyn Manning debate the following issues:

  • Issue 1 Has the Consensus Building Group been a giant waste of time? What now for meaningful traffic management in Auckland?
  • Issue 2 The latest welfare reforms are being rolled out, when does beneficiary bashing stop being politically attractive?
  • Issue 3 Why is the defamation case against the NZDF by a journalist so important? (please note, since this episode broadcast, the jury overseeing this case returned without be able to reach a majority decision. Read here for more…)

Citizen A broadcasts weekly on FaceTV and webcasts on The Daily Blog,   and  LiveNews.co.nz

Citizen A broadcasts weekly on FaceTV and webcasts on The Daily Blog, Live.TheDailyBlog.co.nz & LiveNews.co.nz. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/07/19/citizen-a-with-chris-trotter-selwyn-manning/#sthash.wbOjqgy3.dpuf

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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The Maori Party, the I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party, the Gambling-My-Money-Away Party, and John Key’s Party

18 July 2013 2 comments

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The Maori Party

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It needs the nuclear option

“Time for the nuclear option, cuz!”

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TV3’s Patrick Gower had this to say about the Maori Party, on 12 July,

“It needs the nuclear option.

It needs to kick National in the guts and walk away.

[…]

It’s time for Flavell to change the narrative.

He needs to start distancing the Maori Party from National. He needs to start extricating it from the cosy relationship.

He needs to position the Maori party differently – much differently. “Positioning” isn’t enough any more – he needs to make a break.

Source: TV3 – Opinion: Maori Party must kick National in guts

Yeah, right. After five years of coalition with the Tories, all that the Maori Party has to do is walk away and all is forgiven?!

Never mind the damage they’ve done in the meantime?!

Never mind National’s Key’s rejection of the Waitangi Tribunal claim on water rights, in the light of SOE sales and the privatisation of water.

Never mind the support for National’s right wing policies that have “kicked Maori and the poor and dispossessed” in the guts?

No. That is simply not good enough. A political party doesn’t simply walk away from it’s responsibilities and track record and expect all to be forgiven at the following election.

The only “gut kicking” and “walking away” will be voters from the Maori Party. As it should be.

God knows that is the only sanction that voters have against  political parties that betray their interests.

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The I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party (1)

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Pakeha Party founder discusses future

Source: TV3 – Pakeha Party founder discusses future

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As of 1pm, 14 July, the so-called “Pakeha Party” had  55,495 “likes” on it’s Facebook page. By contrast, the Conservative Party received 59,237 Party Votes in the 2011 election. That wasn’t enough to win seats in Parliament.

So a vote for any prospective Pakeha Party will be a wasted vote.

Nice one, David; marginalising the racist vote in New Zealand. You’ve done the country a service.

Medal’s in the post.

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The I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party (2)

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The Pakeha Party has a website up and running. I haven’t read the whole thing, as I have more important things to do (paint is drying and needs to be studiously watched).

But this bit on their policy page caught my attention. Much of  it is badly written gibberish,  and is all over the place.  But note this bit,

In this modern age to the best of our ability we will abolish all racism and/or separatism within New Zealand setting an example for the rest of the world. We will ensure all races in New Zealand (particularly Maori) who have been a part of forming & establishing New Zealand and it’s history are well preserved, very cherished and heavily promoted wherever & whenever possible. This is a democratic society – the past is the past – no one should be handed anything for free these days based on their ethnicity. No guaranteed seats. No Maori only anything. We all have an equal opportunity in our geographic locations this day in age. To solve our issues we need to give a firm but motivational hand to the poverty stricken in the poverty stricken areas with low trade.

Maori will be “very cherished”…

Awwww, that’s nice.

Just what Maori need. Not a sound economic base upon which to create jobs and build their independence – but to be “cherished”.

Will that involve Mr Ruck and his  supporters giving them each a hug and a cuddle?!

And what does “the past is the past – no one should be handed anything for free these days based on their ethnicity” – mean?!?!

What are Maori being “ handed …  for free these days based on their ethnicity?!

Is Mr Ruck (or whoever wrote this childish garbage) referring to Treaty settlements? Is he referring to land that was illegally confiscated by the Crown or settlers in the 1800s, and even the early 1900s?

Is he referring to scholarships awarded to Maori youth, to attend University. Scholarships that are paid by IWI and not the taxpayer?

It’s hard to know. He doesn’t tell us. (I guess it can be all things to all people.)

Though if Mr Ruck  refers toThe Treaty as “the past is the past“, I wonder if he’d dare say the same thing to our American cuzzies about their Constitution, which was enacted 51 years earlier than the Treaty of Waitangi?

Or would he suggest that the Magna Carta – signed 625 years prior to the Treaty – the basis upon which our judicial and civil  freedoms are based on – is also “the past is the past“?

If  Mr Ruck and his followers maintain that the Treaty is out-dated – I look forward to them pointing to the document’s expiry date.

It’s fairly obvious that Mr Ruck and his supporters all hold one thing in common – a shocking and tragic   lack of understanding of history and only a cursory knowledge the Treaty settlements process. They hold to the erroneous belief that Maori are being handed [land and money] for free.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,  said Albert Einstein. For good reason;  55,495 do not know our own history and the acts of violence that stripped Maori of their lands and possesson – and benefitted  white colonials in the process.

One Law For All is the Pakeha Party’s slogan.

Excellent.

We can start with returning that which was stolen from Maori.

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Gambling-My-Money-Away Party (1)

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SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison has been having a bit of a whinge about community and political opposition to an agreement which which see a deal between National and the casino;

Key features of the SkyCity convention centre deal and what KordaMentha estimates they’re worth over 35 years:

* Extension of SkyCity’s casino licence, due to expire in 2021: $65m-$115m

* Additional 230 pokie machines: $95m-$115m*

* Additional 40 gaming tables: $72m-$101m

* More gaming tables that can be substituted for automated table game player stations: $77m-$109m

* Ticket-in, ticket-out and card-based cashless gaming technology on all pokie machines and automatic table games: $84m-$88m

* *Includes allowing up to 17 per cent of pokie machines and automatic table games (in restricted areas only) being able to accept banknotes of denominations greater than $20.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – PM defends 35-year SkyCity deal

Morrison’s recent “oh-woe-is-me” whining diatribe rested on his assertion that other gambling creates worse social problems than Skycity,

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison says his casino’s pokies are only to blame for a minuscule amount of gambling harm, instead placing the blame on Lotto and the TAB.

Yesterday a bill allowing SkyCity to install hundreds more pokies and gaming tables and operate until 2048, in exchange for building a $400 million convention centre, passed its first reading 61-59.

It was supposed to be a conscience vote, but MPs voted along party lines, as expected.

Gambling support groups and the Opposition say the move will create more problem gamblers, but the Government has always maintained the economic benefits outweigh any potential harm – and Mr Morrison agrees.

Appearing on Firstline this morning, Mr Morrison said SkyCity’s contribution to gambling harm has been blown “way out of context”.

“We’ve only got 1650 machines, right – there are nearly 20,000 machines in New Zealand.

“If you want to do something about problem gambling, do something about the rest of the machines, do something about Lotto, do something about the TAB – all of which have higher incidences of harm than casino pokies in SkyCity Auckland.”

The Dept of Internal Affairs pointed out, when reporting on problem gambling,

At any given time, between 0.3% and 1.8% of adults living in the community
in New Zealand are likely to score as problem gamblers on standard
questionnaires. This is between about 10,000 and 60,000 people.

Source: Dept of Internal Affairs – Problem Gambling in New Zealand – A Brief Summary

Yet, when it comes to problem gambling for outlets such as Lotto,

Around 20% of adults in New Zealand do not gamble. Most of those who do
gamble play Lotto, which is relatively low risk for problem gambling. It is
likely that fewer than 2% of those who only play Lotto will score as problem
gamblers, even if they play it every week.

Source: IBID

It’s the old “my evil is less than other evils, so that makes me ok” argument. Taking this circular logic to it’s mad conclusion, no one could do anything to address a problem, because someone else will point further down the “food-chain” as being “worse”.

As Morrison himself said,

“The Ministry of Health does a report, and it shows the incidence of harm and problem gambling as a proportion of New Zealand adults is about 0.4 percent – that compares to drinking of 18 percent. The whole perspective of this debate has just been taken way out of context.”

It is so insane that one wonders how the human race could have evolved from their lemur-like ancestors because nothing would ever be achieved.

However, I think Morrison has little to complain about. Since 1995, the gross amount gambled at casinos is estimated to have risen 13.5 times since 1995;

  • 1995:  $313m
  • 1996:  $914m
  • 1997:  $1,883m
  • 1998:  $1,914m
  • 1999:  $2,297m
  • 2000: $2,858m
  • 2001: $3,075m
  • 2002: $3,417m
  • 2003: $3,805m
  • 2004: $4,033m
  • 2005: $3,936m
  • 2006: $4,104m
  • 2007: $3,912m
  • 2008: $3,974m
  • 2009: $3,879m
  • 2010: $3,783m
  • 2011: $3,929m
  • 2012: $4,244.

Source: Dept of Internal Affairs – Casinos

Gaming machines alone rose from$632 million in  1991 to$7,921 million (nearly $8 billion!) in 2007!

Source: Dept of Internal Affairs – Gaming machine

Morrison points to the TAB and Lotto  as being “my evil is less than other evils, so that makes me ok”;

“If you want to do something about problem gambling, do something about the rest of the machines, do something about Lotto, do something about the TAB – all of which have higher incidences of harm than casino pokies in SkyCity Auckland.”

Source:  TV3 – Gambling harm blown ‘way out of context’

Yet, Internal Affairs data shows Morrison  to be less than honest on this matter,

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DIA - Reported Gambling Expenditure 2008 to 2012

Source:  Dept of Internal Affairs –  Record gambling expenditure in 2011-12

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So business is pretty damned good for an industry that is basically parasitic; non-productive; and causes considerable family disruption and social harm. In terms of destructiveness, it is right up there with alcohol abuse and hard drug addiction.

Morrison is a lucky man. He is getting a good deal from Key and his ministerial cronies.

It is no secret that National is so desperate to generate economic growth and job creation that they are willing to tolerate problem gambling mushroom as a result of more gaming machines and tables. This is a shabby government that is willing to turn a blind eye to social harm and shattered families.

Morrison says  it is not for his  company to interfere in the democratic process,

It’s going to be what it’s going to be. It’s not for us to interfere in it – we’re just a corporate citizen trying to go forward in New Zealand.”

Source: NZ Herald – PM defends 35-year SkyCity deal

Those who know the full story of secret dealings between Key and Skycity will laugh with derision at Morrison’s comments. All along this has been a corrupt, shabby arrangement between National and Skycity – made even worse as Key tries to bind future governments to this deal.

Now he’s pissed off that more and more New Zealanders are becoming concious of this shonkey deal and questioning it?

Well,  more and more people are  not liking what they’re seeing.

You can bet on it, Mr Morrison.

See also: Marae Investigates (14 July 2013)

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Gambling-My-Money-Away Party (2)

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If the National-sponsored  New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill is passed in law,  the convention centre is expected to be completed in 2017.

Contrast that to the Auckland rail loop which Key wants to start in 2020.

This is symbolic of the National government’s priorities.

There is unholy urgency to implement a law to  build a convention centre,  with attendent increased gambling,  and predicted increase in gambling harm.

But no great hurry or sense of urgency to build public transport to free up Auckland’s roads from gridlock.

Gambling: high priority.

Public transport and improved traffic flows: low priority.

This, to me, illustrates why New Zealand will always continue to lag behind Australia and other developed nations – because a segment of the population will always continue make bad choices and vote, unthinkingly, for political parties that have short-term views for our country.

It will be interesting to see what priority Aucklands voters have in 2014 (if not earlier). What will they vote for?

Improved Rail and  road usage?

Or more gambling.

For Aucklanders,  all I’ll say is,

Your city; your choice; your consequences.

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John Key’s party

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John Key, Prime Minister, and Minister of Tourism is busy working on his portfolio.

He is promoting tourism.

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PM resting in Singapore, but with a close eye Mandela's health

Source: NZ Herald – PM resting in Singapore, but with a close eye Mandela’s health

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In Singapore, where he is on holiday.

Nice one, John. Good to see you have such faith in our own tourism sector.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 July 2013.

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Taiwan FTA – Confirmation by TVNZ of China pressuring the Beehive?

17 July 2013 7 comments

On 24 May, I blogged about an apparent trade crisis between New Zealand and China, as our meat shipments were held up at  Chinese borders – ostensibly  for “incorrect” paperwork;

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whats-the-beef-guv-blogpost-frank-macskasy-frankly-speaking

See previous blogpost:  What’s the beef, guv?

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Minister for Food Safety, Nikki Kaye said,

We’ve got MFAT officials and MPI officials working around the clock to resolve this,” says Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye. “We’ve been providing technical documentation through to Chinese authorities and we remain confident that this will be resolved in the near future.”

Acknowledgment: TV3 –  Meat held up in China costing NZ industry

It’s interesting that TV3 report stated,

The problem is believed to have arisen after the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries recently became the Ministry of Primary Industries and Chinese border controls aren’t recognising the new names and logos on the export certificates.”

Acknowledgment:  IBID

Other media also repeated the official government line – that this was a bureacratic “paper work problem”. Ministers were even muttering  dark threats at disciplining MPI staff  who might have been responsible for this  “incorrect paperwork” mess.

However, I found this excuse to be weak and unbelievable. Why?

Because as I wrote on 24 May, the  MAF (Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries)  became the MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries,  well over a year ago.

So why had this crisis arisen only now?

My contention is that the meat export problem was politically motivated. A free trade agreement was in the process of being negotiated between Taiwan and New Zealand,

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NZ close to Taiwan free trade agreement

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – NZ close to Taiwan free trade agreement

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China was flexing it’s political muscle over a free trade agreement being negotiated between New Zealand and Taiwan – a state which China regards as a “renegade province”.

China was reminding  New Zealand  “who’s boss”.

On 10 June, TV1 News reported that the free trade agreement with Taiwan had been concluded and signed.

However, the news story was curiously reported from  two different angles. The TVNZ website reported a purely trade-driven story,

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NZ signs trade agreement with Taiwan

Acknowledgment: TVNZ – NZ signs trade agreement with Taiwan

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There was no mention of any political dimension in the about report. China (mainland) was not even mentioned, even in passing.

Contrast that to the evening news story on the same day; July 10,

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NZ signs trade agreement with Taiwan - tv report

Acknowledgment: TVNZ – NZ signs trade agreement with Taiwan – TV Broadcast Report

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The relevant story starts at 5:20.

The newsreader, Melissa Stokes opened with this introduction,

New Zealand has signed a free trade agreement with Taiwan. It’s likely to save our exporters at least $75 million a year, but it’s China’s influence  on the agreement that’s raising questions.

It was pointed out that no government Minister attended the signing of the Taiwan-New Zealand Agreement – a marked contrast to the much-hyped signing of the China-New Zealand FTA in 2008. Or National’s signing of an FTA with Malaysia in 2009,

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PM hails signing of Malaysian deal

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media:  PM hails signing of Malaysian deal

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The journalist covering the signing, Brian Boswell, asked the Taiwan representative an obvious question,

Brian Boswell:  “Would you like a Government minister [to be] here?

Elliott Charng (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) replied:   “Yes. Of course.

Indeed he would.

But this blogger believes that China made it abundantly clear to the Beehive that any agreement signed with it’s “renegade province” had to be a ‘low-level’ event,  without the presence of any government Ministers or MPs present.

As Boswell remarked,  “ But there were none. This agreement was kept under wraps until the last minute despite Taiwan being our eight largest export market.”

Stephen Payton – from the NZ Commerce and Industry Office – appeared to be the most senior representative of the New Zealand government present at the signing.  His comments were illuminating,

This agreement is signed in terms of New Zealand’s One China policy. And so we have to observe certain contraints around how we deal with Chinese Taipei.”

Indeed!

To drive the point home to viewers, Boswell added,

China doesn’t recognise Taiwan as being independent and pressures other countries to do the same.”

“Pressures”?

Such as blockading millions of dollars of our meat exports at Chinese ports?

Green MP, Kennedy Graham, a former diplomat, said,

Credit as it sees it and some economic progress out of this deal. But at the same time it’s genuflecting politically to one of the world’s superpowers,  and probably being orchestrated behind the scenes by the same super power.”

Boswell finished his report with this remarkable comment,

It’s taken more than a year of negotiations. Sources have told One News that China was extensively briefed about the deal and told about the signing.”

This story puts the May blockade of our exports into context and sheds new light on what really transpired.

It now appears that negotiations with Taiwan originally excluded China – which put a few noses out of joint in Beijing – and which provoked a hidden diplomatic incident. This incident was carefully masked by both Beijing and Wellington as a “bureacratic mix up”, as it served neither government’s interests that this become public.

After all, it had been over  year that the new MPI documentation had been in use, so it is inconceivable that all of a sudden such a trivial issue could interfere with millions of dollars of  trade.

This blogger posits the following;

  • Beijing noted the free trade agreement being negotiated between Wellington and Taiwan.
  • Beijing demanded that it be consulted and “certain contraints around how we deal with Chinese Taipei”  observed.
  • Someone at MFAT disregarded China’s demands.
  • China insisted.
  • MFAT ignored it – or fobbed them off.
  • Big mistake on our part.
  • Beijing reacted with a partial blockade of our exports.
  • Ministers – who had been kept out of the loop, or fed minimal information – were caught out in surprise.
  • The Beehive failed to react quickly enough, as Ministers tried to figure out what was going on.
  • Beijing tightened the screws.
  • The Beehive tried to negotiate.
  • No negotiations, responded Beijing, and insisted it’s demands be met.
  • As our exports languished at Chinese ports, pressure mounted on Key’s ministers – who eventually capitulated.
  • Upshot: any agreement with Taiwan would be at a  low-level; with minimal governmental recognition; Beijing would be kept fully appraised; and diplomatic recognition would not be permitted.

It was a stern lesson in super-power muscle-flexing  delivered to the Beehive in a way that no New Zealand politician would ever be likely to forget  in a hurry.

Meanwhile, as I predicted in May,

On Radio NZ, Primary Industries minister, Nathan Guy stated,

“I’m very disappointed in my officials – issuing export certification is really their core business. And I’m disappointed in how this issue has come to bear. Normally, we have a very strong system and this is very unusual.”

However speaking on Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint programme, Nathan Guy refused to be drawn on whether any disciplinary action will be taken against staff for the blunder.

Mr Guy said that was a matter for MPI director-general Wayne McNee.

“By and large, MPI do fantastic work and we’ve had an issue here, and I’ve asked the director-general to get to the bottom of it.”

What’s the bet that this entire issue sinks quietly out of sight and nothing is ever heard about it again?

Has anyone heard “whether any disciplinary action was be taken against staff for the blunder “?

Nope.

It kind of  sank quietly out of sight.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 July 2013.

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The real reason for the GCSB Bill.

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1.

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Campbell Live on 10 July was an exercise in outstanding journalism. Campbell looked at a sequence of events, around July 2011, and culminating in the raid on Kim Dotcom’s home in January 2012.

Before you go any further, click on the link and watch the video. It’s worth it.

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Campbell live GCSB 10 July 2013

Click to view

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2.

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Once you’ve watched the video – the next step follows.

In the above video, John Campbell opens with the comments,

In short, the GCSB bill allows the organisation to spy on New Zealanders and to pass what they learn on to foreign governments.

“If you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to hide” is a common response to criticism of such unprecedented power.

But the SIS can already spy on New Zealanders and so can the police.

The GCSB bill connects domestic spying to global spy networks, which, as we’ve recently learnt, are listening to almost everyone.

Now, the bill is being passed under urgency.

But why? Shouldn’t we get this right?

The Prime Minister is now trying to win support from either Peter Dunne or New Zealand First to get the bill through.

But whose bill is it, really? And who will we be spying for?”

Throughout the whole video, John Campbell is precise and thourough with his facts. He cannot be faulted for any inaccuracies that I could spot.

But he left out two extremely pertinent facts (unless he will be referring to this in a coming, follow-up story) – two pieces which complete the puzzle  of why National is promoting the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill so earnestly through Parliament.

We’ll come to the missing pieces shortly.

Four months ago, I published this blogpost,  The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour.

I wrote regarding Ian  Fletcher’s appointment as the new GCSB director;

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 a 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.

[…]

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.

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3.

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Remember the connections and trails that John Campbell revealed on his 10 July show.

Remember the cast of characters involved, all around July 2011 and following months;

  • John Key meeting President Obama.
  • Attorney General Chris Finlayson met Attorney General Eric Holder, along with three AG’s from Canada, UK, and Australia
  • Holder was conducting a war on cyber “crime”
  • Ian Fletcher appointed as the new GCSB Director
  • Kim Dotcom was later charged with cyber crime

Remember also – and this was also pointed out by John Campbell – that Ian Fletcher had no Military or Intelligence experience.

But Fletcher did have experience with international economic, trade matters, and  Intellectual Property.

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

As I wrote in April,

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)

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

This was the first missing piece from Campbell’s investigative story; intellectual property.

Eric Holder’s “Cyber crime” in this instance relates to intellectual property, and as the highly publicised raid on Kim Dotcom showed – illegal downloads.

The final piece follows.

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4.

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National is placing considerable time, effort, money, and energy in pushing two Bills through Parliament;

  1. Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill
  2. Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Key’s rationale for the expansion of spying over all New Zealanders has consisted of purely bullshit excuses, relating to “weapons of mass destruction”, “terrorism”, and other fantasy scare-mongering. None of it is remotely  true.

The real rationale for pushing these two inter-related Bills is more prosaic.

The common description of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill (aka “GCSB Bill)  has been that this allows the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders.

This is correct.

Literally, correct. The Bill, alongside it’s barely acknowledged “sister-Bill” – the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – is designed deliberately to mandate the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders.

Everyone.

Not just criminals.

Not just left-wing  radicals.

Not just Maori nationalists.

Not just anti-TPPA acctivists. Or environment campaigners. Or trade unionists.

In fact, those people aren’t the real targets at all.

The targets are all New Zealanders.

The final missing piece? The aim of the two Bills is to monitor for illegal downloads over the internet.

That is what all the activity in July 2011 was all about; the US and New Zealand (along with other members of the “Five Eyes” group) were collaborating on how to eliminate the billion dollar, global,  internet piracy problem.

As manufacturing is moved to low-wage societies such as China, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, etc, the big remaining wealth-producing sector in the West will be – intellectual property.

Which not only ties together the two spying bills and co-operation between the “Five Eyes” group – but the TPP Agreement as well.

Think about it; what is the point of the TPPA (an agreement focusing mainly on intellectual property) – if it cannot be enforced?!

There is no way to protect intellectual property and enforce copyright if corporations are unable to detect who is downloading illegally.

Enter: the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

John Campbell asked in his programme,

“But whose bill is it, really? And who will we be spying for?”

These two laws will be the means by which corporations will enforce their intellectual property rights.

And they’ll be watching over us all to make sure we all behave.

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Previous related blogpost

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 July 2013.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

15 July 2013 2 comments

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 15  July 2013 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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Radio NZ logo - Politics on nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (26′ 50″ )

  • Labour’s leadership ‘coup’
  • the Maori Party AGM
  • the GCSB and new spy legislation.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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David Ruck, founder of the racist Pakeha Party…

15 July 2013 3 comments

… shows where he stands on workers’ rights,

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Pakeha Party Facebook Page Founder, revs his car up and drives through a picket line of McDonald’s workers @ Lincoln Road, almost hitting one of the young workers, he’s lucky I didn’t take to his car with a sledgehammer. Scab!

Source

 

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Hat-tip: The Jackal

 

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The consequences of the Psychoactive Substances Bill – our shame

15 July 2013 5 comments

On 11 July 2013, the Psychoactive Substances Bill had it’s third and final reading passed. It now requires only Royal Assent from the Governor Geneneral to be passed into law.

Green MP, Mojo Mathers, attempted to pass an amendment that would have banned testing of party pills and synthetic cannabis on animals.

This was voted down by National, Peter Dunne, and  Brendan Horan. The NZ First caucus abstained.

So, for the pleasure of a bunch of pot heads and party-goers, these drugs will be tested on animals like these,

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Beagle_Puppies

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Are we happy now?

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National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!

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National MP -  Jami-Lee Ross - The Nation - TV3 - 23 June 2013 - strikebreaking bill

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National MP (Botany), Jami-Lee Ross, has  admitted that he has colluded with POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) bosses to draft his proposed  strike-breaking amendment, the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill. On TV3’s The Nation on 22 June, Ross confirmed that he had been in talks with employers during the height of the industrial dispute between the POAL and MUNZ (Maritime Union);

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Source: Youtube – Ports behind bill

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At 0:50, Rachel Smalley asks Ross,

“Do the Employers and Manufacturers Association support it?”

Ross’s answer was not at all truthful, and his response was utterly mis-leading. Smalley has to point out to him that the Employers and Manufacturers in fact do not support Ross’s Bill.

This is the first indication that Ross is prepared to ‘spin’ lack of support or outright opposition, in a sly, dishonest fashion.  Smalley, who is aware of the Employers and Manufacturers Association position, corrects him,

“I don’t think they support it though, do they, which is quite interesting.”

In fact, the Employers and Manufacturers Association said in a media statement, that “while its principles are worth exploring it could prove very divisive.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media – Balloted Bill possibly a bridge too far

The same media release went on to slate Ross’s Bill,

“New Zealand communities place a high value on fairness and the Bill could have consequences that would be considered unfair.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

When even employers start perceiving a piece of anti-union legislisation as unfair, then that speaks volumes.   Employers are not stupid. They understand that it only takes one unjust law  to make workers more militant. That, in turn would generate increased support for a much-weakened trade union movement in this country.

At 1:40, Smalley asked,

“Does the NZ Initiative support it?”

Ross again evaded giving a straight answer, and Smalley pointed out to him that even the right-wing think-tank is dubious about the worth of the Bill.

Then at 2:18, Ross gets to the nub of the matter,

“There’s the potential  once the economy really picks up again that we could seeing a whole lot more strikes.”

Ross’s statement is his first candid admission that the raison d’être of  his Bill is not the “fairness”, “balance” or “choice” that he has been espousing.

Ross’s  sole agenda is to crack down on strikes.  Ross is targetting the most fundamental rights of  human beings;

  1. to work together collectively, for mutual benefit
  2. to with-hold labour when workers deem it necessary

Working together collectively is not just a worker’s prerogative. Collective action is also used by employers who have their own groupings,

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Business NZ

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employers and manufacturing association

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Wellington chamber of commerce

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Ross’s next admission was political dynamite. At 3:26, Rachel Smalley asked Ross,

“Where does this Bill have it’s origins?”

Ross deflected with waffle about “the rights of New Zealand”.

Smalley persisted,

“Or is it on the wharves of the ports of Auckland, is that where it’s origins lie?”

Ross side-stepped by remarking that “a drawn out strike can have a quite a  big impact on the wider economy“.

Then, at 4:00, Smalley asked the million-dollar question,

“Have you discussed this Bill with Ports of Auckland [Ltd]?”

At last, Ross could not evade the questioning and admitted,

A long time ago. That was an issue that was raised.”

Smalley asked,

“How long ago?”

Ross replied,

“Oh, might have been when the industrial dispute was in full swing…”

This blogger has a fairly good idea when Ross and Ports of Auckland Ltd bosses had their little “chat”: around

On 11 January 2012, Jami-Lee Ross wrote this anti-union  opinion piece for Scoop Media,

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union-biting-the-hand-that-feeds - header

The latest development in the protracted Ports of Auckland industrial dispute must give all parties to the issue pause for thought. Continued industrial action would adversely affect the Port even further and could undermine the Maritime Union’s very reason for being.

The announcement by Fonterra recently that it is moving the company’s business from Auckland to Tauranga and Napier was a blow for the Queen City. While the negotiations between the Maritime Union and Ports of Auckland management may be a distant and removed matter for the average Aucklander, they must know the issue is now one of a fight for their port’s survival.

Every Aucklander has a stake in the Ports of Auckland. It is not a privately owned company. Nor is it listed on any stock exchange. Each and every share in the company is owned by the Auckland Council on behalf of 1.4 million Auckland residents and ratepayers. The destruction in value in one of our city’s largest public assets is alarming and has to be of concern to us all.

I don’t use the term “destruction in value” lightly. It is a strong term, but one that is appropriate for this issue. Just as losing the business of Maersk in December was no laughing matter, losing Fonterra can not be ignored. At a reported weekly trade value of $27million, annualised the loss of Fonterra’s custom represents around $1.4 billion of export business.

But numbers aside, it is obvious that losing the trade of New Zealand’s largest company, only a month after losing the business of one of the worlds largest shipping lines, has to be a wakeup call. Yet sadly for the Maritime Union, it isn’t. Sadly for port workers and Aucklanders alike, the Maritime Union continues to be unphased.

This isn’t a story of a greedy corporate hammering the little guy. This isn’t a story of a David versus Goliath battle where workers are being ripped off or paid a pittance. Few could call poverty on an average annual wage for a wharfie understood to be north of $90,000, with a proposed 10 percent hourly rate increase and performance bonuses of up to 20 percent, sitting on the table. To the average person on the street, the latest Ports of Auckland offer to the Union would almost seem generous.

This is in fact a story of the Maritime Union biting the hand that feeds them. It is a story of industrial action that, if left to go on much longer, could have disastrous consequences for the Ports of Auckland.

For commercial users, it is a simple matter of certainty and continuity Union action, and the threat of further strikes, have put a serious dent in the Ports of Auckland’s ability to provide their bread and butter services Customers are now voting with their feet. The value of Ports of Auckland and the value of the investment that every Aucklander has in the company will continue to suffer if resolution to this matter is not swift.

Aucklanders can rightly be concerned at the increasingly rogue nature of the Maritime Union. However there are 500 men and women that work at the Port with even more skin in the game and a lot more to lose. The trade union movement evolved through a desire for workers to band together to protect their common interests. This is not a dishonourable goal. But when a union loses sight of its members long term interests and cavalier negotiating tactics start to backfire, the union itself begins putting its own member’s livelihoods at risk.

Unions still occupy a privileged position in New Zealand’s employment law; a relic of the last Labour administration which has not seen significant overhaul for some years. Few non-government organisations can boast clauses in legislation specifically designed for their benefit. Despite only 18 percent of the nation’s workforce being unionised, trade unions can look to whole sections of the Employment Relations Act written exclusively to aid union survival through legislative advantage.

Up until recently, cool heads and rational people sitting around negotiating tables have meant that little focus has been placed on the role that unions play in society. However, with the bare-faced mockery that the Maritime Union is making of civilised negotiations New Zealanders will soon begin to question what position unions should hold in the modern Kiwi workplace.

As the fight for Auckland’s waterfront reaches the tipping point, for ratepayers and workers alike this present stand off must come to an end. The city’s $600 million port investment and worker’s jobs are now on the line. Also on the line is the country’s acceptance of the role of trade unions. It can not be tolerable or acceptable for a union to demonstrate continued disregard for the economic consequences of their actions.

*Jami-Lee Ross is the Member of Parliament for Botany. He was formerly a member of the Auckland and Manukau City Councils.

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media – Union biting the hand that feeds

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Four months after his statement,  Jamie Lee Ross spoke in support of the  Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill, allowing secret ballot’s before workers decided to take strike action.

Ross put it thusly,

“Today is liberation day. Today is liberation day for New Zealand workers who are members of unions that have not yet embraced the democratic principles of holding a secret ballot when strike action is being considered. I say it is a shame that members of the Opposition are not supporting this bill, the Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  Hansards, Parliament

Ross further advocated for secret ballots prior to strike action,

If members want to stand in this House and say that they do support the concept of secret ballots, which is what a number of speeches have been saying in both the first and second readings—and we have heard it a few times this afternoon as well—and that they think it is a good thing that a number of unions already have secret ballot provisions in their rules, then they should go the step further and support this bill, and do the right thing by giving workers the freedom that they deserve.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  IBID

(Irony of ironies,  all MPs votes on legislation are a matter of  public record, and recorded in Hansards. There is no secret ballot when MPs vote.)

The Bill passed and became law on 14 May 2012

So what was the relevance between the law that Ross supported and the Ports of Auckland dispute? It seems that the POAL dispute was weighing heavily on the MP’s  mind during the third reading of this Bill,

I want to also touch on the Ports of Auckland for a moment, because I think it is important that we talk a little bit about what has become the key and well-known industrial dispute this year. It is fair to say that the Ports of Auckland dispute probably would not have got as bad as it did if there was the opportunity for those Ports of Auckland workers to have a secret ballot for their strike.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  IBID

It should also be noted that the Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill was a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by National backbench MP, Tau Henare – also noted for his hostility toward the trade union movement.

As is the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill – sponsored by Jami-Lee Ross.

The government, it seems, does not want to get it’s hands dirty with Union-smashing legislation. Dear Leader John Key made his feelings abundantly clear in March 2012 when he played the positive-sounding propagandist mouth-piece for POAL bosses,

“I think they went through a genuine good faith process,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

The company believed it was losing business, primarily to the Port of Tauranga, because it wasn’t competitive.

“Their view is unless they change, it will be death by a thousand cuts.”

Demand from the council for a 12 per cent return from the company within five years, up from a current 6 per cent, had not lead to the dispute, Key said.

The port had struggled with financial problems for some time and cash flow issues had forced it to sell Queens Wharf to the Government.

“Unless that’s an efficient workplace, unless it’s competitive, ultimately they will continue to lose business.”

The company was trying to make savings at the port to protect all its jobs, he said,

“And I guess they have moved to this issue where they want to go to outsourcing.”

The company needed to find almost 300 workers and would take people with experience.

“I suspect quite a lot of the people who have been made redundant will actually reapply and funnily enough get their job back just through a different vehicle… the conditions will be different.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Jackson pulls back from port comments

So how involved was the Ports of Auckland Ltd bosses in  motivating, encouraging, or actively sponsoring  Ross to write his strike-breaking Bill?

Rachel Smalley put that question to Ross in the same interview. At 4:28 she asked,

“What was the Port’s input into the Bill?

Ross replied,

“The Ports [of Auckland Ltd] indicated that during a strike like every organisation that is affected by a strike, they’re unable to keep their business going…”

So the bosses at POAL indicated  to Ross that they  were  unable to keep their business going – and the MP for Botany duly obliged with a Bill that he fully admits POAL mananagement had input into.

This is commonly known as collusion.

What makes it all the much worse is that POAL is a publicly-owned company (by Auckland ratepayers) – and it’s own management acted against the interests of the community, as if it were some predatory trans-national corporation.

Indeed, that is precisely how Ports of Auckland Ltd management have behaved during the long-running industrial dispute;

  • 12 January 2012 – Leaked POAL papers showed that  management were running their own agenda  “of ramping up the current industrial dispute while saying they want to resolve it.The draft management plan sets out a comprehensive contracting out plan, disparages the ports owners and board of directors, and predetermines there is no intention of seeking a negotiated solution.”  (source)
  • 22 March 2012 – Ports workers were served a lockout notice from Ports of Auckland LTD management just hours before a vote to bring to an end  strike action. (source)
  • 22 March 2012 – A POAL manager involved in  negotiations with the  Maritime Union was linked to a company, Pacific Crew Holdings Ltd, recruiting non-unionised wharfies  for a new company,  registered with the Companies Office only a month earlier. (source)
  • 27 March 2012 – Employment Relations Authority issued a judgement in favour of Maritime Union not to harass workers; not to make union member redundant;  not to hire scab labour; not to engage Drake New Zealand Ltd or Allied Workforce Ltd or any other person to perform the work of striking/locked-out employees; not to pressure union members to sign contracts with Drake or Allied Workforce, etc. (source)
  • 12 April 2012 – POAL bosses admitted leaking private details of a port worker to a right wing blogger. The maritime worker  had lost his wife to cancer. The blogger was closely connected to POAL, and may have been paid for writing pro-management propaganda on his blog. (source)
  • 13 August 2012 – Maritime Union outlined cases of bullying by POAL management,  ”every time somebody coughs there is a disciplinary hearing, they are attacking people continuously, making their lives miserable. There are people getting disciplined for all sorts of things, – it’s ridiculous for infinitesimal little things. They [workers] think it’s part of their [management] campaign to undermine the workforce to try and get them a little bit weakened so they will agree to what is put to them.”  (source)

It should be obvious to all by now that POAL management had no intention whatsoever of negotiating with the Maritime Union in good faith, as the Employment Relations Act requires.

It was also suggested that POAL management were setting up the Ports company for eventual privatisation (see: NBR – Plea for ratepayers to give up port control).  Rationalising a workforce is usually a precursor to a  privatisation agenda.

Whether or not Jami-Lee Ross’s strike breaking Bill becomes law is by no means guaranteed. Even if National finds the couple of votes needed to pass it into law, this blogger has no doubt that an incoming Labour-Green-Mana government will consign it to the rubbish bin of political history. Where it rightly belongs with other laws that threaten the livelihoods of New Zealanders and their families.

Make no mistake, this Bill has nothing to do with “fairness”, “balance”, or “choice” , etc.

This Bill has only one goal; to force workers not to strike, by fear-threat of losing their jobs and replaced by strike-breaking scab labour. With unemployment at 146,000 unemployed according to a recent Household Labour Force Survey, there would be many desperate to get into a job – even if it meant displacing a striking worker. This is the dog-eat-dog world of the “Free” Market, and which Jami-Lee Ross wants to aggravate for the ordinary working man and woman.

It is fairly clear that Jami-Lee Ross and Ports of Auckland Ltd management have colluded  to draft this Bill.

It is further clear that POAL had this Bill in mind to break the authority of the Maritime Union to negotiate on behalf of it’s members.

And it’s further clear that POAL had in mind this strike-breaking Bill as part of it’s over-arching agenda.

For Jami-Lee Ross, he is in a no-lose situation. If his Bill becomes law, he cements his reputation as a willing tool of the employers to do their bidding. (Much like Simon Lusk advocated in his far right plan to make MPs beholding to donors. See: National turns on hard right advisor)

And if the Bill fails, he still builds a reputation as a right wing politician willing to work with fiscal conservatives; employers; and any others who advance the neo-liberal agenda.

Jami-Lee Ross – willing servant of  bosses; conservatives; and cashed-up donors.

Finally,

“Going on strike cannot be easy. It can be financially and morally devastating.” –  Jami-Lee Ross, 9 May 2012,

Acknowledgement:  Hansards, Parliament

Yes, indeed. Very “financially and morally devastating“. Especially if Mr Ross get’s his way.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 July 2013.

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References

Scoop Media: Union biting the hand that feeds (11 Jan 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Port workers claim bullying continues (13 Aug 2012)

Fairfax Media: Bosses bypass new era (11 Nov 2012)

Fairfax Media: Kiwi bosses’ attitude repels expats (15 Dec 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Unionist slams ‘assault on workers’ (27 April 2013)

Scoop Media: Balloted Bill possibly a bridge too far  (14 June 2013)

Youtube: Ports behind bill (22 June 2013)

Other Blogs

Bowalley Road:  The Right To Say – “No.”

Waitakere News: National’s generic press release for introduction of new bill

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The “man ban”; animal testing; GCSB Bill; and compulsory miltary training

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The “man ban”…

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Labour’s hierarchy has  dumped the so-called “man ban” (hat-tip to right wing bloggers for mental short-hand term which is little more than  a  knee-jerk emotional response requiring no deep thinking).

As Labour leader David Shearer pointed out,

The distraction is turning our attention away from the issues that most New Zealanders are concerned about. They don’t want to know about what is happening in the Labour Party.

What they want to know is what we are doing on the issues that affect them. That’s power prices, home ownership and good jobs.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Labour backs away from man-ban plan

Indeed.

Looking back at the last couple of days, this has become a plaything for right-wing bloggers and the Topic Of The Day for lazy journos who can’t be bothered spending half a day researching on issues such as  “ministerial  release progress reports” which are little more than propaganda puff-pieces for National.

As Andrew Geddis pointed on on The Pundit,

My first thought is that the coverage of this issue is pretty revealing of the crappy state of political journalism in NZ. The media have essentially taken the narrative spin of a couple of explicitly pro-National blogsites (complete with the manufactured slogan of “man ban”) and replicated it verbatim – after searching out a few disaffected Labour-connected voices to underpin it. There’s been no attempt to set the issue in context (I’ve yet to see any discussion about the general issue of the ongoing, static under-representation of women in NZ’s Parliament), no attempt to look at overseas precedent (it took me 2 minutes on google to discover that “all-women short lists” are par for the course in the UK) and no attempt to compare Labour’s gender-representation record with that of anyone else.”

Acknowledgement: The Pundit – Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors

This was not handled correctly from Day One.

When it first came to my attention, my own response was a head shake; groan of despair; and a face-palm. (see previous blogpost: Facepalm #1: Labour) I could immediatly guess  the consequences; the response from the Right; and the frenzied headlines in my minds’ eye.

I was not disappointed.

Cameron, David, et al, had their fun. (Which is ironic considering that ACT is a Rich White Man’s Club that shafted it’s one successful female MP, and National has only 25% female MPs – the worst of the five main multi-MP parties.)

The greatest irony here is that encouraging a 50/50 male/female ration of  party candidates is nothing new to New Zealand politics. The old Alliance Party had a strict policy encouraging gender, geographical, race, etc, spread over it’s Party List rankings.

There was no grand announcement on this policy.

We Just Did It.

As such it never made headlines and people simply accepted that gender equality was an issue of plain Kiwi fairness and not this nebulous concept of “PC gone mad” – whatever that might be.

This is where Labour mis-calculated. They should simply have proceeded with the policy and not bothered with any media release.

By making a Big Deal about it, they simply fed the lazy mainstream media looking for Shock! Horror! headlines,  and voracious right-wing blogs which are always on the look out to deflect attention away from National’s problems (and they are legion, believe me).

My suggestion to Labour – Just Do It anyway.

And screw Cameron Slater, David Farrar, et al. Those two National sycophants won’t be voting Labour anyway, any time soon.

After Labour achieves 50% women MPs, it will then be up to National to play “catch up” – and right wing bloggers and commentators to explain why the Party of  Aspiration can’t do better than 25% female representation.

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Animal testing…

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The Greens have announced an attempt to amend the Psychoactive Substances Bill in Parliament  to stop animal testing for party pills.

This heinous aspect to the Bill would permit the exploitation of  animals to test party drugs to determine safety for human consumption.

In a recent blogpost, the NZ Herald was taken to task for mis-representing the Green position on animal testing (see: NZ Herald mis-represents Green Party spokesperson on synthetic ‘highs’). The journo responsible for that mis-reporting – Kurt Bayer –  has never responded to queries from this blogger as to whether the Herald would publish a correction to the errors in the story.

Even right wing, pro-business ACT MP, John Banks, has stated his opposition to using animals to test party drugs (see: Greens leading bid to stop animal testing for party pills).

Let me be totally blunt on this issue;

  1. If adults are foolish enough to ingest these “party” drugs or smoke synthetic cannabis – that is their decision. Let the consequences fall on their own heads if, after all the publicity, they still decide to use this crap.
  2. I’m all for testing. Go for it.
  3. But I see no reason to use animals to test substances that have no practical benefits, and are simply “fun drugs”.  It is obscene that National is even considering allowing  harm to come to animals simply to test these nasty drugs, which are  for “recreational” purposes.
  4. It is an indictment of our society that Parliament could even consider such an abuse of animals.

I hope National sees sense and deletes that part of the Bill.

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GCSB Bill – Key, Shearer, Dunne, & Peters

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Key is desperate to pass both the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill – both of which extend the powers of the State to access our communications;  surveil New Zealanders; and store vast amounts of information on us.

Once upon a time, if the State wanted more powers for the Police or spy agencies, they had to justify it with the public and seek consent.

Now, in 2013AD, it is the public that has to defend it’s right to privacy and why the various arms of the State should keep out of our lives.

It is hugely ironic that ACT, right ring bloggers, and other commentators support these two odious pieces of legislation.

Right wing parties such  ACT  usually advocate vigorously for reducing State involvement in our lives,

To this end the ACT Party upholds the following principles:

  • that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities; and

  • that the proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not to assume such responsibilities.

Acknowledgement: ACT Principles

The latest news is that Winston Peters and Peter Dunne – both with an eye on public opinion and the growing unease caused by these two Bills – are reviewing their support.

Peter Dunne

Mr Dunne says the review panel is a good start, but remains unconvinced that the bill in its current form provides enough protections to individuals and their private information. He says he doesn’t want to go into too much detail about other changes under negotiation.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – GCSB bill needs more changes – Dunne

Winston Peters

Mr Peters was not impressed with the changes Mr Key has agreed to by way of giving the oversight watchdog, the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence, a panel of two to act as a sounding board.

“The surveillance panel was right only if the law was right and the law is not right.

“This bill does not work.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald –Spy bill hits roadblock as Peters lays into Key’s changes

Both men must be considering one simple reality; as the implications of these two Bills grows in the  public’s  consciousness, do they really want to be associated with a growing Surveillance State; loss of privacy; and Big Brother?

These two Bills may be fast becoming  National’s “shower heads” moment.

The questions that demand answers are;

  • Do Winston  Peters and Peter Dunne want to be dragged down by National’s agenda on this issue?
  • Do they want to be tarred with the blackened brush of Big Brother?
  • Who stands for the rights of citizens?
  • And are Labour and the Greens prepared to turn the tide back?

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And compulsory military training

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I want to say goodbye - gunman's last wish

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – I want to say goodbye – gunman’s last wish

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This story undermines notions expressed by  folk with simplistic views that “a spot of military training” is all that’s needed to “buck up the ideas” of alienated young men and women.

Giving military training and putting guns into the hands of angry young men who feel resentful against society, is not a panacea for our social problems.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 July 2013.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 12 July 2013

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 12 July 2013 –

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– Jane Patterson –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

The next major phase of the Government’s welfare reforms comes into force on Monday.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to Listen:    Focus on Politics for 12 July 2013 ( 17′ 21″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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