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Archive for 14 July 2013

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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