Archive

Archive for August, 2013

A Tale of Two Prime Ministers…

What we once had…

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And what we have now…

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Meanwhile…

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Government told there’s no excuse for child poverty

3:23 PM Saturday Jul 20, 2013
Photo / Getty Images  

Photo / Getty Images

The government’s being told there’s no excuse for its failure to act on the high number of children living in poverty.

The Child Poverty Action Group says latest figures show one quarter of all New Zealand children are living below the poverty line.

Its convener, Associate Professor Mike O’Brien, says that hasn’t changed from a year ago.

He says that may not be surprising, as the government hasn’t done anything to make any difference.”We’ve seen enough material from a whole range of sources to know the extent of child poverty and I guess I would have expected there would have been really concerted effort from the government to respond to some of those reports and the data that we now have.”

Dr O’Brien says New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty damages the country’s international reputation.

Source: NZ Herald – Government told there’s no excuse for child poverty

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As the next election looms, it is time to mobilise and fight. We can have a decent society again. And by god, I’ll be doing my bit.

 

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John Key on leadership aspirations…

30 August 2013 5 comments

As reported on Radio NZ today (26 August);

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PM’s take

Prime Minister and National Party leader John Key says the Labour leadership contest will show how heavily the party is divided.

Mr Key says it could be a television reality show called Parliamentary Idol, with the three MPs demonstrating to New Zealanders how much they loathe each other.

Source: Radio NZ – Cunliffe confirms bid for Labour leadership

More here: John Key says Labour is a divided party

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Which is kind of ironic really, as Key’s own rise to power as leader of the National Party happened under less auspicious circumstances, involving secret plotting  behind closed doors; lies; duplicity; and rolling then-National leader, Don Brash.

Key wasn’t very upfront to the public or media, or even his own then-leader at the beginning, as this October 2006 NZ Herald report by Audrey Young, showed,

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Beware the ides of November, Don

By Audrey Young

5:20 AM Thursday Oct 26, 2006

An attempt within the National Party to topple leader Don Brash could be mounted next month.

The backers of National finance spokesman John Key have already taken soundings among caucus colleagues. It is understood they were taken four weeks ago but nothing came of them.

However, internal speculation is mounting of a stronger bid for the leadership being attempted by Mr Key next month or at the start of next year.

Mr Key did nothing last night to hose down the speculation, being less than emphatic at dismissing talk of a possible attempt in November.

“I have never had that raised with me,” he said. “That is speculation I can’t comment on and I don’t know whether it is accurate or not but I don’t anticipate that being the case.

I’m supportive of the leader and I don’t anticipate that position changing.

Source: NZ Herald – Beware the ides of November, Don

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Key’s “support” for his leader was so sincere that a month later, Don Brash was rolled and replaced by… John Key!

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New Zealand’s National Party Appoints John Key as Leader

By Tracy Withers – November 26, 2006 20:44 EST

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) — New Zealand’s main opposition National Party elected John Key, a former head of global foreign exchange at Merrill Lynch & Co., as its fifth leader in nine years as it targets victory in the 2008 elections.

Key, 45, was voted leader by his National parliamentary colleagues in Wellington today, replacing Don Brash who quit last week. Bill English, who was ousted as leader by Brash in 2003, was named deputy leader and will take over from Key as finance spokesman.

Source: Bloomberg – New Zealand’s National Party Appoints John Key as Leader

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At least Labour’s leadership contest is out in the open; open to public and media scrutiny; and will be democratically decided. This is a milestone in New Zealand politics, with  the Greens the only other political party to decide their leadership by member’s ballot.

By contrast, seizing power via a coup hardly seems a fair; open; or democratic process. Indeed, one might question if Key really has a moral mandate to lead his own Party?

Perhaps this is a salient lesson that Key should take on-board, instead of indulging in school-yard petulance.

Then again, I suspect  Key’s pathetic attempt to deride and dismiss Labour’s new leadership process is stressing the Prime Minister as he  foresees his own political demise come the next election?

After all, Key did make this pledge to the electorate in 2011,

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Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

By Audrey Young 5:30 AM Monday Jan 3, 2011

Prime Minister John Key has all but confirmed that the general election will be in late November or early December and he has indicated he will leave politics if he cannot lead the country to a second term in Government.

[abridged]

He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.

“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative.”

Source: NZ Herald –  Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

The election of a new leader for Labour isn’t just a new beginning. It heralds the end for Key’s political career.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 August 2013.

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From today…

24 August 2013 4 comments

This will be appended as a ‘footer’ on all my outgoing emails;

Notice: Since the GCSB is now monitoring potentially any and all email communication in New Zealand, please exercise caution in any correspondence to the sender of this email. Information of a highly  sensitive nature should be communicated using some other medium.

It is a shameful things that we have reached this stage.

This rotten government, and it’s muldoonesque leader,  has turned this country into a policed surveillance state.

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As promised to young NZ First supporter…

22 August 2013 1 comment

… on Facebook,

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Thank you Peters

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(Hope the lettering is big enough, Curwen?)

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My thoughts on David Shearer’s resignation…

22 August 2013 8 comments

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David Shearer

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So David Shearer could no longer stomach the infighting and back-room dealing going on within the Labour party.  He’s decided to chuck in the leadership and let someone else do the job.

Fair enough. His life; his call. Who knows, one day, after another decade of experience, he’ll return with a vengeance and be the best Prime Minister since [insert name here].

In the meantime, I make this comment to the Labour Caucus…

Decide on who your new leader will be and then get on with the job. Put an end to back-room dealings, whisperings, and undermining each other.  Because whilst 1,000,000 New Zealanders voted for National – 3,400,000 did not.  And things are getting pretty dire in this country.

We have a Prime Minister who – as Russell Norman correctly pointed out – is becoming more Muldoonesque with each passing day. We have National ministers trampling on our rights; flogging off our assets; turning the country into a Surveillance State; giving millions away in corporate welfare – whilst bashing the most vulnerable in this country.

The country needs a united opposition.

That means a Labour-Greens (NZ First?) coalition aiming it’s sights at the Nats and working as a government-in-waiting. Labour-Greens need to look determined to hit the ground running.

We cannot afford to have Labour MPs engaging in ego-driven pissing contests whilst the Tories keep screwing this country.

Because if you can’t do the job, we’ll be stuck with another three, six, nine, whatever years of National who will corporatise this country. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, and the Middle Classes will send their kids of to Australia.

So. Choose your new Leader.

And get  on with it!

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

Peter Dunne – willing seller & buyer

22 August 2013 2 comments

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NZ spy agencies need urgent review

Source: Marlborough Express – NZ spy agencies need urgent review

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Peter Dunne and John Key are knocking back a couple of 100 year old scotches from Dear Leader’s private stock. They’re both pissed, and Key looks at Dunne and asks,

“Peter, would you bend over my Prime Ministerial desk and let met shag you from behind, if I paid you a million bucks?”

Peter Dunne – knowing that Key can afford a million dollars from his “Uncle Scrooge” petty cash tin, and considering how useful that money would be for next year’s election campaign replies,

“Why, yes, I would, John.”

Key grins slyly and carries on,

“Peter, what if I paid you half a million? Would that still be ok with you for a bit of rear-rogering?”

Dunne is a bit deflated. Half a million is not as much as a full million… but still, it’s better than nothing to fund his campaign.

He replies,

“Sure, John. Half a million would be ok, I guess,” and stands up to undo his belt.

“What about fifty bucks?” asks Key, downing the last of his glass of $50K-per-bottle scotch.

Dunne, fuming, screams at him,

“What?! Fifty bucks?!?! What do you take me for?!!!”

Key cooly replies,

“Oh, I think we both know what you are. We’re just haggling for the price, now…”

(With apologies – I know it’s an old joke…)

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From the Horses mouth…

21 August 2013 9 comments

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Sometimes I wonder if politicians realise what spews from their mouths, as in the case of Justice Minister, Judith Collins, at the Privileges Committee today,

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“It was quite a chilling experience to realise that ministers’ and staff’s emails, and their right to privacy, were treated with what I would say was a contemptuous attitude”

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Indeed.

As  most  New Zealanders will be chilled to realise that our emails and right to privacy will be treated with a contemptuous attitude, once the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and
GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill are both passed through Parliament.

But evidently –  as Ms Collins will be voting for the GCSB and TICS bills   – the privacy of New Zealand citizens is nowhere as important as that of government Ministers.

Now that, I find chilling.

 

 

 

 

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References

MSN News:  Quotes from the privileges committee

Image: Otago Daily Times

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A Question to Dear Leader…

21 August 2013 1 comment

Dear Leader seems mightily het up about some dastardly, nefarious activity targeted at our country…

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from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>
date:     Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 7:25 PM
subject:     letters to the editor

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The Editor
OTAGO DAILY TIMES
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Sir/Madam,

Our illustrious Dear Leader, the Rt Hon John Key, seems somewhat vexed by cyber threats originating from overseas and directed at our “clean and green” nation. He said in Parliament on 21 August,

“There will be times where a serious cyber intrusion is detected against a New Zealander and the GCSB will then need to look at content – that’s why the law allows that. But that should be the end point, not the starting point.”

If the threats to our “100% Pure” country originate from overseas, one is left with a tantalising question; why is the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, and related  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill, designed to spy on New Zealanders?

Shouldn’t the GCSB be focusing on external “threats” rather than on us?
After all, wasn’t that  the original purpose of the GCSB when it was first formed in 1977?

-Frank Macskasy

(address and phone number supplied)

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References

TVNZ:  GCSB Bill expected to pass final reading; debate underway

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Someone seems a bit touchy…

20 August 2013 8 comments

Click on the image to take you to the TVNZ website video;

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key douche bag

 

Source: TV1 – John Key’s press conference walkout goes viral

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Methinks Dear Leader is losing the plot.

This is a man starting to show stress and responding to the pressures of increasing hostility to his government policies by running from critics.

He’s not used to having people question him.

Russell Norman was 101% on the nose: Key is becoming more and more like Muldoon with each passing day.

And we all know how Muldoon’s career ended.

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Another step closer to National’s Daddy State…

19 August 2013 6 comments

Reading this made me ponder a question…

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Law Society worried about instant dismissals

Updated at 19 August 2013 – 12:54 pm today

The Law Society says the Government could override basic rights with plans to allow instant dismissals of government workers who fail new child abuse screening.

The Vulnerable Children Bill will make the public sector more accountable for protecting children, as well as placing greater restrictions on known and suspected abusers.

It will allow courts to impose Child Harm Prevention Orders, restricting the movement of convicted child offenders and other adults assessed as posing a serious risk to children.

Workers on the Government’s payroll who have contact with children, including teachers, will all have to go through identity and police checks to screen out potential abusers.

About 370,000 pubic service workers are expected to be affected.

The chair of the Law Society’s family law section, Garry Collin, told Nine to Noon more screening is appropriate but he is worried innocent people could have their employment terminated.

Mr Collin says a vindictive partner could make false allegations of child abuse to an employer and unproven accusations made in the Family Court could affect people’s jobs.

He says there is always a balancing act between protecting children and the rights of innocent people.

Employment lawyer Andrew Scott-Howman says the suspicion of being a child abuser is enough to break a worker’s career forever.

“If an allegation is made that a teacher is suspected of inappropriate sexual behaviour, if you’re a parent would you want your child in that class, even if it’s just a suspicion and it comes to nothing and it could have been made maliciously?” he says.

Source: Radio NZ – Law Society worried about instant dismissals

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… how long will it be before a National Minister or backbench MP is caught up in allegations of child abuse?

Remember, all it takes is an allegation of hitting your own child. Not a conviction. Just an allegation.

And it can be historical – not current.

I wonder – how squeaky clean are every one of National’s current crop of MPs?!

Will Key insist that one of his fellow National MPs resign from Parliament if/when such an allegation surfaces?

Or will it be another case  a-la John Banks; nothing to see; nothing to know; one rule for those Born to Rule, and another for us plebs?

National may have set itself up for an own-goal of massive proportions – and I’m waiting with bated breath when the ka-ka hits the fan…

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can-o-worms

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So Mr Prime Minister – how saintly are your MPs?

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Additional

Radio NZ: Hear more about the plans for the new law on Nine to Noon

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Gen Zero at the Bucket Fountain: “What’s the hold-up?”

13 August 2013 1 comment

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what's the hold-up

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A statement from the Generation Zero website,

Right now, we have the opportunity to lead the way to a safe climate future. The evidence shows it’s 100% possible to create a thriving New Zealand beyond fossil fuels. So what’s the holdup?

We need leadership at every level, from our communities to the politicians we choose to elect. That’s why Generation Zero brings you ‘What’s the Holdup?’, a nationwide speaking tour connecting climate solutions with the people to make them happen.

We’ll be presenting smart energy and transport solutions, discussing obstacles, and showcasing New Zealand’s opportunities to move beyond fossil fuels. Our speakers include high profile experts and young Kiwis who are working on solutions. Join us to find out how we can get moving on climate change, and create a smart, healthy and prosperous Aotearoa beyond fossil fuels.”

We believe that we’re at a crossroads, and that we can choose to make a story that’s worth telling. We’ll make it happen, but only if we all work together!

source

NZ, Wellington, 10 August – Generation Zero activists were at the  Cuba Mall’s Bucket Fountain, promoting their nationwide speaking tour “on getting New Zealand moving on climate change”.

The first thing to catch my attention, was this message on the Mall’s brickwork pavement,

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… followed by a Godzilla-sized Godzilla towering over-head.  A great eye-catching, attention-grabbing technique to arouse the attention of passers-by,

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Paul and one of his colleagues in the “gen Zero” movement proudly displaying their banner for passers-by,

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Spokesperson for the group, Paul said,

“We’re here  promoting the nationwide speaking tour which is coming to Wellington on Monday. And we’re been travelling around the country talking to people about  getting New Zealand moving on climate change and the opportuinities we’ve got to do that.”

I asked Paul about Fonterra and how it relates to our environment,

He said,

“I think it just just shows, you know, that we need to start diversifying our economy a bit  and not depending so much on one industry. It’s risky, and moving into the future we really need to be looking at the opportunities of a low carbon economy. And there’s alot of benefits to that, as I think the Fonterra saga demonstrates.”

I referred to the brand that New Zealand has built on the “100% pure” image, and asked Paul his views on that issue,

Paul responded,

“We’ve been riding on this reputation that we haven’t been living up to and it’s going to come back to bite us, well  it is coming back to bite us now. And we need to start taking it seriously.”

The enthusiastic team from Gen Zero were handing out leaflets, informing the public of an upcoming public meeting;

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leaflet 1

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The local body elections – due in October – will be an ideal for people to make thier concerns known to candidates – and to vote accordingly.

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leaflet 2

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Gen Zero’s public tour of speaking engagements are listed below.  They invite all New Zealanders to take part, as environmental problems affect our country more and more;

Join our nationwide tour getting NZ moving on climate change.
13 events Dunedin to Auckland, July 15th to August 6th
Free entry and free food. See below for exact locations & dates
RSVP now at http://generationzero.org.nz/whatstheholdup

Did you know?
– NZ’s wind energy potential is 3 times our total electricity demand.
– 95% of Kiwis could do their average daily travel in the range of electric cars available today.
– Denmark has a plan to be fossil fuel free by 2050, and achieving this will only cost 0.5% of their GDP.

It’s 100% possible to build a thriving New Zealand beyond fossil fuels. So what’s the hold up?

We need leadership at every level, from our communities to the politicians we elect. Generation Zero brings you “What’s the Holdup?”, a nationwide speaking tour showcasing New Zealand’s opportunities to move beyond fossil fuels. Together we can create a smart, healthy and prosperous Aotearoa beyond fossil fuels.

RSVP now at www.generationzero.org.nz/whatstheholdup!

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Speaking tour map

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Environmental issues affect us all. The recent Fonterra fiasco shows how fragile our “clean and green” reputation can be. This is becoming a problem of crisis-like proportions as the international community becomes more and more aware that our “100% Pure” brand has been built on a lie.

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Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

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Faith in New Zealand 'shattered'

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New Zealand's Environment-Friendly Image Marred By Dairy Contamination

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New Zealand's green claims are pure manure

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This country will be in even deeper trouble if we do nothing.

Gen Zero is doing it’s bit.

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

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See also

Website: Generation Zero

Facebook:  Generation Zero

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

* Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
* Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Generation Zero is requested.
* 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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Mana enters the Wellington Regional Council race!

Disclosure.

Ariana's MANA PARTY leaflet

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NZ, Wellington, 10 August –  Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati, political and community activist, today launched her candidacy for the up-coming Wellington Regional Council local body elections. Ariana will be standing under the Mana Party banner – a Party she has supported since it’s inception.

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arianas-campaign-launch-cuba-mall-wellington-10-8-2013

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Ariana’s campaign platform was based on the issue of free water for domestic users, and opposed metering and charging. Her policy postion stated,

  • domestic water use should remain a public service,
  • she supported increasing water conservation and collection,
  • making increasing leak repair of the public water system  priority,
  • and opposed water and water-related assets being used for private profit-making.

Ariana’s other concerns were also emblazoned on her placards, dotted around the marquis which her campaign team had set up adjacent to the water fountain;

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Ariana spoke to the crowd on the problematic issue of allowing Anadarko – which had been involved in the disastrous 2010  Gulf of Mexico oil spill – to prospect-drill of the Wellington coast.

Ariana said New Zealand had no means by which to contain an oil spill-disaster along the magnitude of  the Deepwater Horizon event in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The thing is,   that they didn’t actually clean it up. The oil is still at the bottom of the ocean. They used a toxic chemical to sink the oil down so it was out of sight, out of mind.”

The coastal areas were still polluted, Ariana said, and this was affecting sealife in the region as well as  people’s health.

“We must not allow Anadarko to drill of the south coast of Wellington!”

There were cries of “Hear, hear!” from some in the crowd at that point.

In between speaking, Marama Te Kira  entertained  the crowd and passers-by with her music and singing,

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arianas-campaign-launch-cuba-mall-wellington-10-8-2013

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Ariana, and her Campaign Manager, Warwick, talking to a member of the public. The woman listened attentatively and said she agreed with a great deal of Ariana’s policies. Another vote, hopefully?

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Ariana talking to two well-wishers who had heard about her campaign launch on social media, and decided to attend,

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Ariana made a clear  distinction between herself and Fran Wilde, who supported user-pays with water;

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With a crowd forming around Ariana, who carefully explained Mana’s policy to keep water in public ownership for the benefit of all, she offered people water from two containers. One was free, the other cost money.

Everyone took the free water;

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Ariana talking to another member of the public;

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A message to the public that, despite a lingering recession, a tiny minority are doing very well – while everyone else either struggles or is just getting by;

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More of Mana’s messages to the public;

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Ariana, surrounded by supporters and members of the public, fielding questions about her candidacy;

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Totally relaxed with the public. Perhaps people sensed her honesty and lack of underlying secret political agendas;

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Even left-wing, anti-establishment, pro-people activists have to “press the flesh” with potential voters. These two had a good natter on Ariana’s policies;

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Ariana’s campaign manager, Warwick, explaining Mana Party policy to a member of the public,

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Another vote for Ariana from this young chap,

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Brochures given out to passers-by (see image at top of page for detail),

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Addressing the crowd and passers-by;

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Ariana tlold the public that a government advisory group, Chaired by Wellington Regional Council chair Fran Wilde, advocated local bodies adopt a user-pays policy for drinking and waste water. She said this would involve compulsory water metering for every household in the Wellington region.

“Water is a right. Water is a right of citizenship, and should come out of public funds. Everybody should have the right to clean water.”

Ariana said there were other ways to reduce water usage such as education and fixing up the various leaks around the city; “We fundamentally and strongly oppose any privatisation of water.” She added, “this is part of a bigger agenda to commercialise our essential services.”

Ariana reminded people that this had already happened with our electricity supply and our power bills had skyrocketed since the 1990s.

Ariana compared the rise in water costs over the same period, saying it had risen by only 17% saying,  “So this is what happens when you start to commercialise essential services. We need to ensure to ensure that these services are publicly managed for the public good, not for profit.”

Ariana said that selling off essential services had only contributed to people’s hardship and many were struggling to pay for their power bills. She said the same would eventually happen for water,

“If we start selling  of our water, making  people pay, then people on low incomes and who are poor, are going to be forced to make decisions about whether or not they give  their children  a bath… or   whether or not  they can put on the power to warm their house.

This is disgusting!

We have to make sure Councils are run for the public good – not for profits!”

Ariana said she would “work her butt off” to keep water free for every household.”

Ariana directed a simple question at these young men who had been listening intently; do you think water should be kept in public ownership or privatised?

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All three laughed and answered, “keep it public!”

Who said that young folk don’t understand or care about the issues?

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

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Disclosure

This blogger supports and endorses Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati for her candidacy in the forthcoming local body elections. (see: Ariana for Wellington Regional Council – Campaign Launch)

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

* Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
* Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested (or a donation to Ariana’s campaign fund).
* At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
* Acknowledgement of source is requested.

See also

Wall Street Journal – Judge Rules BP, Anadarko Liable in Gulf Spill

Radio NZ: Gear to cap oil rig has to be shipped from

The Daily Green: The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill by the Numbers

Scoop Media:  Fran Wilde’s advisory group tells councils to start charging ratepayers for water

NZ Herald:  The 30-year power price hike

Mana Party

Ariana’s Facebook Page

Electoral Commission: Enrol or check your enrolment details

Electoral Commission: Local Elections 2013

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National guts Kiwisaver

13 August 2013 4 comments

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Released today at the National Party annual conference in nelson;

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National tackles first home affordability

Source: NZ Herald – National tackles first home affordability

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Kiwisaver was set up in July 2007 by Labour Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, to motivate New Zealanders to save for their retirement. Our Aussie cuzzies already have about A$1.3 trillion saved in their compulsory super schemes – we are lagging way behind.

“After more than a decade of compulsory contributions, Australian workers have over $1.28 trillion in superannuation assets. Australians now have more money invested in managed funds per capita than any other economy.” Source

A similar scheme, implemented by the Norman Kirk-led Labour government in 1973, was scrapped by National’s then-Prime minister, Robert Muldoon, in 1975. National has a horrendous track record when it comes to planning and motivating New Zealanders to save for retirement.

Instead of saving for retirement, we tend to invest in “bricks and mortar” – rental properties. This is not saving as it relies heavily on borrowing from overseas lenders to finance. Those borrowings are other peoples’ savings.

So in effect we are borrowing other peoples’ savings to invest in rental properties which we are using for our retirement “savings” – other peoples’ savings being used to build up our own “savings”.

This is not just “false wealth” and damaging to our economy (those borrowings have to be re-paid eventually) – it is sheer economic lunacy on a grand scale. Note the green line in the chart below – it is private debt incurred from overseas;

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Source

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And the National Party turns a blind eye to it.

As a result, our savings is meagre enough as it is.

The ANZ and ASB summed it up with brutal reality,

ASB’s executive general manager wealth and insurance Blair Turnball said someone who wanted to live off $40,000 a year needed to retire with a pool of around $600,000 if they wanted to make it last for 25 years – the timeframe in which people felt they could live beyond the retirement age.

“This [$70,000] is $530,000 less than the average respondent in our survey aspired to, and only 55 per cent of the aspiration annual $40,000 income. It is alarming how big the gap is.”

Source: NZ Herald – Kiwis ‘not saving enough to retire on’

John Body, managing director ANZ Wealth and Private Banking New Zealand, said New Zealanders were saving around 2 to 3 per cent of their take-home pay whereas Australians were saving 9 per cent and many in Asia were saving 12 per cent.

“We are just not saving enough.”

Source: IBID

For Key and his incompetant  government to allow New Zealanders to tap into their Kiwisaver funds undermines the very purpose for it. In fact, he’s made the situation, as outlined by the ANZ and ASB, even worse.

We’re back to square one; people investing in bricks and mortar instead of saving for their retirement.

There are other ways to get Kiwis into their first homes without subverting Kiwisaver. National apparently chooses not to consider any of them.

In July 2008, Key made this public pledge,

“There won’t be radical changes. There will be some modest changes to KiwiSaver.”

Source: NBR –  Key signals ‘modest changes’ to KiwiSaver

This most certainly constitutes a radical departure from Kiwisaver’s original intent.

Allowing people to withdraw from their Kiwisaver savings account to invest in housing may work for the very short term; Key has “solved” a potential election nightmare for himself and his Party.

But for the future of this country, and the hundreds of thousands of baby-boomers soon to hit retirement – he has left us a ticking time-bomb.

Political expediency wins out again.

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

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Judith Collins – Hypocrite of the Week

13 August 2013 2 comments

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Govt must not intrude on courts

Source: Dominion Post – Govt must not intrude on courts

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When it comes to naked hypocrisy, experience shows that National (and other rightwing) politicians excel.

Take Judith Collins’s comment in the Dominion Post on 9 August,

As Minister of Justice, I take seriously any suggestions that something went wrong in the criminal justice system. I am satisfied that there are appropriate options available to address any concerns about Pora’s case.

[…]

In the meantime, it would be constitutionally unsound for me, as a minister of the Crown, to intervene in the court process.

Say whut?!?!

Is this the same woman who, in December last year (2012) publically trashed the report from retired Canadian Judge, Ian Binnie?

Judge Binnie, who had been invited  – by the National-led government – to assessing possible compensation for wrongly convicted, David Bain.

She  dismissed Judge Binnie’s report as;

“Put simply, it would not be acceptable to make a recommendation to Cabinet based on a report that would not withstand the considerable scrutiny it would attract.

[…]

“Let me be very clear that I do not expect unsolicited reports which I have received two of in the last two months to be compensated for.”

[…]

I am very concerned that there has been this delay. It would not have been possible for me to have put forward a recommendation based on a report that I believe would not stand up to public scrutiny.”

source

“The list of errors in Mr Binnie’s report is extensive, and according to Dr Fisher could be vulnerable to judicial review.”

source

And there was more. Collins’ unprofessional behaviour and outrageous public statements were not only an insult to a respected member of the Canadian judiciary – but in effect she made New Zealand a laughing stock of the international judicial community. It will be a brave member of a foreign judiciary who takes up any future government invitation to impartially assess an issue in our country.

So for Collins to say with a straight face that it would be  “constitutionally unsound for me, as a minister of the Crown, to intervene in the court process” – or other aspect of our judicial system for that matter – is breath-taking hypocrisy. 

But then, such sanctimonious rubbish has been the hallmark of this unstable, unprincipled,  and unpredictable government.

Judith Collins is not fit to clean public toilets much less hold the position of Minister of Justice. The term “justice” is an alien  concept to her.

Meanwhile, a man most likely innocent, rots in jail.

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Collins – Unfit to be a Minister!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 August 2013.

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Other Blogs

laudafinem.com:  Karam, Bain to be served Collins chilled favourite À la Carte special; “En Croute” (ON TOAST)

laudafinem.com:  Judge Judy: Collins slams Binnie’s Bain report

References

Herald on Sunday: Bain could have an enemy in the Beehive (9 December 2012)

NZ Herald: Bain report based on incorrect facts – minister (11 December 2012)

Scoop Media: Bain report: Justice Ian Binnie response to Judith Collins (12 December 2012)

Fairfax Media:  David Bain’s compo report had list of ‘errors‘ (13 December 2012)

NZ Herald: Report recommending Bain compensation is ‘flawed’ (13 December 2012)

NBR:  Bain compensation – RAW DATA – Binnie reports – Fisher Report – Judith Collins statement (13 December 2012)

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 9 August 2013

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 9 August 2013 –

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– Brent Edwards –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

This week the Government has been battling the fall-out from the Fonterra contamination scare.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013 ( 17′ 22″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 12 August 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 (24′ 26″ )

Discussing,

  • the government’s recent housing announcements and changes to Kiwisaver,
  • the multiple inquiries into the Fonterra food safety scandal,
  • and the government backdown over proposed changes to fishing regulations.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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USA, Vietnam, Peter Dunne – Pot, Kettle.

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US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

Source: NZ Herald – US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

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The US Embassy in Vietnam goes on to state,

“Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline,” the embassy said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned by the decree’s provisions that appear to limit the types of information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites.”

Source: IBID

Yes, of course our American cuzzies want the Vietnamese people to allow ”  information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites”.

Then their National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ can mine that data via their PRISM,  XKeyscore, and god-only-knows what other systems are used to store data on citizens.

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XKeyscore - NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

Source: The Guardian – XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

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The government of Vietnam is right to be concerned with what it’s citizens may put online. With British and American spy agencies trawling the planet for information, it is now a matter of national security that nations protect themselves from this illegal spying.  The internet poses a real danger to victims of this rampant,  out-of-control spying.

The sheer hypocrisy of the US Embassy when it piously states that    “Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline” is breath-taking in arrogance.

It’s like Big Brother throwing a tanty when someone refuses to share their personal information, thus thwarting the spooks who are patiently waiting to hoover up the data.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties, led by the Greens, have succeeded in stalling the passing of the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill for two weeks.

Their ‘filibustering’ has successfully stalled the passing of the Bill, as this Radio NZ report explains,

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Legislation covering the Government Communications Security Bureau won’t pass all the way through Parliament this week as had been hoped by the Government.

The bill is now in its committee stages, where MPs debate it clause by clause.  The opposition has employed delaying tactics since Question Time on Tuesday afternoon.  An urgent debate on the Fonterra contamination scare delayed the debate further.

The Government will have to wait at least two weeks to pass the controversial legislation.

Source: Radio NZ – GCSB bill won’t pass this week

This gives opponants to the GCSB and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bills an opportunity to grow opposition and to educate the public what is at stake.

As for Peter Dunne, who is complaining about protesters targetting his home – my sympathy for him is zero.

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Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

Source: Dominion Post – Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

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Protester, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati is 100% quite right when she says that their presence is to  “to give him a taste of what it feels like to have your privacy intruded on“.

Mr Dunn doesn’t like being surveilled?

Neither do we.

Do the right thing, Mr Dunne – vote the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill down.

It’s the decent thing to do.

You still have time.

Don’t be John Key’s errand boy.

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314770_10150396588331397_707526396_10526548_1193185338_n

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What would George Orwell – author of ‘1984’ – have made of all this, I wonder?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 August 2013.

 

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While I’m away…

11 August 2013 2 comments

… some light reading material…

Left Turn – the New Zealand General Election of 1999   –  The New Zealand General Election of 1999

By Jonathan Boston, Stephen Church, Stephen Levine, Elizabeth McLeay, & Nigels S Roberts

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Left Turn The New Zealand General Election of 1999

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In Stormy Seas – The post-war New Zealand Economy

by Brian Easton

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In Stormy Seas The post-war New Zealand economy

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A thorn in their side

by Robert Green

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A Thorn in Their Side

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Revolution

by Marcia Russell

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Revolution

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Helen – Portrait of a Prime Minister

by Brian Edwards

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Helen Portrait of a Prime Minister

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Diary of the Kirk Years

by Margaret Heywood

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Diary of the Kirk years

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And one of my all time favourites (if I can find it amongst my stuff),

The Watchmen

Dave Gibbons & Alan Moore

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Watchmen

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Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags:

The “Sack Shearer” video

11 August 2013 13 comments

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the-fool

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Mentioned on TV’s the Nation this morning, was this curious, anonymously-produced video on You Tube;

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Ostensibly, the 43 second long  video was produced by “Rank And File Labour, Wellington”. But there is no name or organisational identification attached to it.

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I have four questions or observations to make on this vid;

1. Why is it anonymous?

There are plenty of left-wing activists and commentators (Martyn Bradbury and Chris Trotter to name but two) who could have fronted this.

Adding a name or names would have given it credibility and “legs”. Making it anonymous reduces any impact or value it might have had on the issue. (Who do the media go to for comment? No one. How does the story gain traction? It doesn’t. Aside from brief commentary, it vanishes.)

2. Too Professional?!

For an amateur video by “rank and file”, it appears to be an  awfully slick, polished piece of media. Too professional by far. As if it were done by an experienced, politically-savy, publicity company? A publicity company like…  right-wing propaganda merchants, Textor-Crosby?

3. Who paid?

If it was as professional as it appears – who paid for it?

4. A secret? In New Zealand?

If it was produced from within the Left, how on Earth could it have been kept a secret? We’re such a small  nation – everyone is basically two or three degrees removed from each other. Is it really feasible that there would be no “whispers” or hints as to who created this video?

Upshot

I could be totally wrong, and possibly this is indeed a vid produced by one or two Labour or other left-wing  activists, who’ve managed to keep it “in house”.

But if it is, by keeping it anonymous, the message of Labour’s leadership is lost and diluted as people instead play parlour guessing-games as to who authored this.

If I had to place a bet, it would be ten bucks on Textor-Crosby, or a bunch of Young Nats or Act on Campus, playing silly-buggers.

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Hat-tip

TV3’s The Nation

See also

The Daily Blog: Labour Party Coup Watch upgrade

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Helen Clark – reminding Key & Co what’s important

11 August 2013 4 comments

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Tackling unemployment would be Clark's priority

Source: Radio NZ –  Tackling unemployment would be Clark’s priority

Listen: Radio NZ – Helen Clark on Sunday Morning

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No doubt John Key will make some derisory, dismissive response to Ms Clark’s justified concerns.  He’ll conveniently forget that under Labour, unemployment dropped to record lows;

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New Zealand Unemployed Persons 2008 - 2012

Source:  New Zealand Unemployed Persons

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new zealand unemployment rate 2002 - 2012

Source: New Zealand Unemployed Rate

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Of course, there was the Global Financial Crisis and the resultant recession, but…

  1. That same rationale is not extended to the unemployed, solo-mums, and others, who are painted as wilfull “dole bludgers”, “druggies”/”alcoholics”/”gamblers”, “work shy”, “irresponsible breeders”, etc, by Bennett, Key, and other National  Ministers. For them, the excuse of a global crisis that destroyed millions of jobs doesn’t factor in (see:  World unemployment figures set to rise in 2013, claims UN labour agency).
  2. Aside from the Christchurch re-build National has done very little to implement job creation policies. A buy-NZ for governmenment procurement would help boost employment, instead of sending jobs overseas by buying from low-wage societies.
  3. Job training and upskilling of unemployed has been so poor that workers from overseas are being brought into the country to make up for a skills-shortage.
  4. Even a project such as the dodgy Skycity convention centre appears to have  over-inflated job numbers. (see: Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs)

So before Key predictably opens his mouth and blames others for our chronically high unemployment rate, he could do well to ponder these points.

Anyway, when it suits Key, he is only too happy to invoke Ms Clark’s well-deserved reputation as an effective Prime Minister. Note his constant references to the former Prime Minister when it suits him – especially over the GCSB and associated legislation;

“That is just the way things are,” he said. “We live in a global environment where there are real threats, that’s the point we make with the GCSB legislation, it is why Helen Clark passed the legislation in 2003.”

And,

“It is obviously small numbers but there are small numbers of radicalised New Zealanders, who have either gone over into those environments or returned, and I don’t think this is terribly new, I suspect Helen Clark would have signed warrants as well.”

Source: TVNZ – Spy law legislation passes second reading

If Key is finding it chilly right about now, it’s because he is standing in the the shadow of his predecessor. Ms Clark certainly did not repeatedly blame others for her failings.

Something else Key might consider.

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key and Woman's Weekly

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 August 2013.

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TV3 – Campbell Live’s GCSB Public Vote

10 August 2013 20 comments

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bannerCampbelllive

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Register your vote on Campbell Live’s website;

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GCSB bill vote panel

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This is an opportunity to let National know what we think on this issue. Register your vote now – let your voice be heard!

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury, Marama Davidson, & Colin Craig

10 August 2013 2 comments

– Citizen A –

– 8 August 2013 –

– Chris Trotter & Selwyn Manning –

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

  • Fonterra,
  • GCSB,
  • Teina Pora

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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Opposition parties work together on “orphan drugs” (part wha)

10 August 2013 3 comments
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Continued from: Opposition parties work together on “orphan drugs” (part toru)

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NZORD - seminar - 1 August 2013 - Wellington - pompe disease - manual cover

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NZ, Wellington, 1 August 2013 – A seminar in Wellington was held NZORD, the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders , to discuss the problem of lack of funding for “orphan drugs”. People with rare diseases are missing out of medication – a life-threatening situation.

After a break for lunch, Wallace introduced the four members of Parliaments;

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nzord-seminar-1-august-2013-wellington

L-R: Barbara Stewart (NZ First), Kevin Hague (Green Party), Annette King (Labour) and Paul Hutchison (National) – Wallace Chapman (standing)

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Associate Minister for Health, Paul Hutchson, took the podium first;

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https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/nzord-seminar-1-august-2013-wellington-23.jpg

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Minister Hutchison began by acknowledging his Parliamentary colleagues, Wallace Chapman, and John Forman.

Of John, Hutchison said this,

“May I acknowledge John Forman and the Organisation for Rare Diseases for all the the work that you do, John. Absolutely committed,  enthusuiastic, and assiduous. So please may I express that appreciation…”

The Minister continued by saying that he was sorry he was not present earlier in the day to hear the previous speakers. He then launched into his speech,

“… The principle of Universality does not mean that the public should pay for every test, treatment, or medicine, that improves health no matter the price of how effective it is. You may be aware that a new concept has crept in called proportionate universality, universalism, which in other words, is targetting. And it’s something that appears to be, ah, almost superceding the principle of universalism.

In his press release relating to the ombudsman, John Forman says the Ombudsman noted the contestable legal argument about whether PHARMAC appropriately excludes social and ethical factors from their consideration, though he said it was not his role to make a definitive decision on that legal dispute’.”

Minister Hutchison “forgot” to mention also that the same Ombudsman,  David McGee, had been highly critical of   PHARMAC’s  policy that “supported the position that high and low cost medicines should  be examined by the same decision-making criteria, and found that whilst it was lawful, was not reasonable“.

If Minister Hutchison had attended the earlier speaker’s addresses, he might have remembered to add that salient point. He continued,

“And John Forman also said that it is time for PHARMAC to acknowledge that a strict economic focus without a moral compass is abandoning patients at the margins. We hope that this opinion will cause PHARMAC, government ministers,  the health select committee, and other officials to respond with serious scrutiny and review of PHARMAC’s policies regarding socialised medicine for rare diseases. I don’t consider for one moment that PHARMAC acts without a moral compass… but  nothing should be for granted.

And I do note that PHARMAC’s key objective is  to  secure for eligible people in need of pharmaceuticals the best health  outcome that are reasonably achieved from pharmaceutical treatment and from within the amount of  funding  provided. I also highly respect the members of the Pharmaceutical Advisory Therapeutic Committee who are all dedicated clinicians who have committed their expertise to  attempt fairness and equity guided by a scientific evidence basis.”

I doubt if this next bit went down well with the audience,

“I must say I well remember Sir William [Bill] Birch telling me some years ago that from every nook and cranny, town and hamlet in New Zealand, comes a perfectly legitimate reason to spend money. The whole skill is how to prioritise it.”

If Minister Hutchison was invoking the ghost of Bill Birch, known for his extremist monetarist views, then he had come to the wrong place. This was not a Chamber of Commerce or NZ Initiative (formerly the NZ Business Roundtable ) business lunch. He was addressing desperate people who were seeking answers and solutions to life-threatening diseases – not hearing that the purse-strings were being closed by an acolyte of a past Finance Minister.

The Minister continued,

“And I guess that’s the blance and the tension that we have. Where do you achieve equity and fairness in comparison to the resources that we have available. New Zealand does indeed now-a-days spend amongst the top of  OECD countries in terms of it’s overall health budget. Some of you may say  that the pharmaceutical budget in comparison to the whole $14.7 billion is less than it should be although of course that is arguable.

So what’s PHARMACs position? As you know, PHARMAC pointed out there have been several reviews of the question of New Zealand providing subsidised access to high cost medicines.  Firstly in 2006, and then of course the McCormick report in 2009. They explicitly recommended against a separate high cost medicines funding [board?] approach for New Zealand. The reason they gave for this were that the main rationale for such a fund is to improve health outcomes rather than because of the particular charachteristics of the medicines themselves are a fundamental importance. The Panel noted that the PHARMAC model is already based on the objective of improving health outcomes. The panel was not convinced that the approach used by other countries such as Australia was superior to the status quo.

Government responded to a number of that reports recommendations and that led of course to the establishment of the  Named Patient Pharmaceutical Assessment scheme, which  we’re now  currently running with.

I also note  that most of PHARMAC’s funding is already committed to high cost medicines.  The PHARMAC annual review shows that the top 20% of patients account for … 86% of expenditure. That’s 20% of patients accounting for 86% of expenditure. Which means a smaller patient group is obtaining a greater share of pharmaceutical expenditure than the majority.”

“That’s 20% of patients accounting for 86% of expenditure.’ – is an interesting statistic. Is it code for implying that that a small group receive a disparate amount of tax-payer funded support?

How does that statistic compare  to the 10% of top income-earning families earning 30% of the income?  (see: Household Economic Survey 2010) Or the wealthiest 10% of New Zealand families controlling/owning  approximately  50-60% of  New Zealand’s wealth?  (see:  New Zealand Institute’s The Wealth of a Nation 2004)

Minister Hutchison concluded his speech,

“…I think it’s also important to point out that since the NPPA has come into being, that we’ve gone from where there was the previous regime which was $2.1 million and now  to $8 million. Clearly it’s not enough.There will always be pressure on it.

The last thing I just wanted to mention was that there is going to be  future reviews and right now PHARMAC is keen to look at new ways of serving  New Zealanders. That’s why  they are currently conducting their  significant review on operating policies and procedures. First thing under review includes the criteria by which PHARMAC makes it’s decisions. This  is an important opportunity to define what best… health outcomes means in terms of it’s  legislative objective,  and in doing so to change the mix of treatments that are ultimately funded  within the budget that is made available.

As you’re aware PHARMAC is  meeting communities around New Zealand in a series of  eleven forums and here is a superb opportunity for everyone here. I would put in a submission, attend the forums, and express your views.”

Wallace asked the Minister for his views on  creating a separate Rare Diseases Funding Agency, with a budget of around $25 million. Wallace explained that many people in the room were “falling through the gap” and a RDFA could plug that gap.

The Minister’s response was less than helpful, and defaulted to a predictable excuse not to consider the option. He said,

“…The issue is always once you get separate funding streams, you get extra bureacracy, you get an extra pressure on that funding stream as well as the main Schedule. So that it may be that you find you  have to take away from the main Schedule and vice versa. It’s a very difficult dilmemma. I think that this latest round of opportunities to relook at  how  PHARMAC  is setting it’s basic criteria of improving health outcomes is an opportunity to explore it.”

It is unclear as to why the Minister actually turned up to the seminar. His speech offered nothing new except, perhaps, to announce the  upcoming PHARMAC reviews.

If National is going to spring a herceptin-style change in policy toward sufferers of rare disease, the Minister was less than clear in his speech.  To use the Minister’s own words, he had expressed the status quo as policy and nothing more.

The real surprise was to come from the next speaker, Labour MP for Rongotai, Annette King;

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nzord-seminar-1-august-2013-wellington

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Ms King has served as Minister of Health in the previous Clark-led government and had over-seen the re-building of the health sector after the disastrous cuts to services and budgets in the late 1990s. Ms King put an end to user-pays within the public health system, implemented by the previous National government.

Ms King firstly acknowledged those with rare disorders who displayed “advocacy, tenacity, longevity, and your committment to fairness and equity in health.” Ms King added that, “I particularly want to thank John Forman, who has dedicated years to NZORD and if knighthoods actually went to the people who really deserved them, then John certainly would get one.

That suggestion  was received with  a loud round of applause.

Ms King continued,

“…I think the problem has really  reached a critical point because we have, as you heard from Dr Hutchison, there have been many reviews into this issue, going back to the 2007 New Zealand Medicines Strategy; the 2010 report on high cost, highly specialised medicines;  and as you know from that we still haven’t had this issue resolved for those who have very rare conditions. PHARMAC now, as we’ve already heard, have established what they call a new special pathway, their Named Patient Pharmaceutical Assessment, the NPPA, which follows the review of the exceptional circumstances. But by my reading of it, is that this policy runs counter to their current policy settings, because when you read it, they must take account of things like if a dollar is spent in one area, it is not available in another.

That they must work to obtain the greatest  benefit. That the best place  to invest  the next dollar, to achieve the best access to health. So these are the things that they have to take  account of, even in the NPPA policy. But at this point I do want to stress as John Forman has on a number of occassions, that I do support PHARMAC in their   role of getting the best possible deal for medicines of the bulk of  New Zealanders. I think they have done a fantastic  job over many years. In fact I think they’ve been a stand out organisation.

And the bottom line for Labour in  terms of  the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, the latest round of free trade aggreements,  is that PHARMAC continues to have the right to purchase our  pharmaceuticals  to get the best health outcomes from effective budget management.”

Then came the ‘crunch’ moment,

“…But I think there has to be, and we have to acknowledge, that what we have done in the past,  as you saw from the question that John just asked, there has to be a change in the way in the way we deal with orphan drugs.”

Ms King said that it was clear that the NPPA scheme was not working for people with rare disorders. PHARMAC was able to over-rule any recommendations to purchase drugs for patients with rare  disorders. Ms King then stated,

“It is time for us to separate the two issues…”

“In 2014 our election policy will have two main parts to it. First of all the establishment of an orphan drugs policy.That policy will include international information sharing and monitoring  of orphan drugs and sharing that information as others countries do, about the clinical viability and acceptability of those drugs.
The second, I believe, is very important, and that is the establishment  of a fund with it’s own Board. Now I don’t believe this has to be [as] highly bureacratric as Paul mentioned. I believe that you can set up a separate Agency within, for example the Ministry of Health,  to give it’s freedom, but it has it’s own Board. And it has it’s own fund to administer.”

“So one of the things that would need to happen soon after an election would be the establishment of on implementation working group, which could be made up of clinicians; of patients; of community representations, and others,  to put in place the details and work on the criteria for access. I do believe that in separating the funding and operation of the orphan drugs policy from PHARMAC. It will let them get on with doing what they do really well, and I think in some ways it will free them to get the best they can for the most of us who don’t need special medicines. But it will mean that for those who have rare disorders, that there will be a fund around that.’

Ms King said,

“We’d be looking at a fund between $20 to $25 million.”

Which is approximately what National spent on the Rugby World Cup in 2010 – $26 million of taxpayer’s money, on funding the tournament’s deficit. [Update: And on 8 August it was announced hat National would be giving a $30 million taxpayer’s subsidy to Tiwai Aluminium Smelter.)

“…That would be the way that we’d go in New Zealand, in line with other countries, including our closest neighbour Australia, who have managed a separate orphan drugs policy, for many, many years. And the advantage I suppose  from here is that we can learn from the mistakes from others, look at ways we can get the best value from such an agency.”

Ms King concluded that she believed this was a policy that other parties from the Opposition would support this new policy.

The audience responded enthusiastically to Annette’s announcement.

Wallace welcomed the Labour Party policy, and referring to  a Labour-Green-NZ first coalition, asked Barbara Stewart, “actually, which way will Winston go, Barbara?”

She smiled coyley, responding “we’ll just have to wait and see“.

That elicited  a mix of laughter and “awwwww” from the audience.

Next up, Wallace introduced Kevin Hague, from the Green Party,

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nzord-seminar-1-august-2013-wellington

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Kevin began with,

“Congratulations to Jenny [Jenny Noble – one of the seminar organisers] and to  “Sir John”… [laughter]

… And acknowledging my Parliamentary colleagues. Could I give a special acknowledgement to Paul Hutchison who’s gone now of course. National wasn’t going to have someone here. But Paul decided that that wasn’t ok, so he came along at short notice. So I didn’t agree with anything he said, but it was really great to have Paul here.”

Kevin expressed his regret at not attending the morning part of the seminar,

“Can I give you an apology for having missed this morning’s programme, as I thought it was a really exciting-looking programme. I intended to be here  for the entire time but I had to sit on the Select  Committee for the Pike River  Implementation Bill…”

Kevin continued,

“…My starting point actually is the right to life. Because that basic human right, it’s pretty universally acknowledged, seems to have embedded in it, the right to health.”

Kevin referred to the UN human rights treaties discussed earlier in the day. He said that for the right to life to be meaningful, it had to include the right to health. He acknowledged the high cost of medical treatments and the need to ration  those dollars. He said he “unashamedly” used the word “ration”.

“Governments decide whose needs will be met and whose will not be met.”

Kevin referred to “utilitarianism; the need to stretch health dollars for the greatest gain for the greatest number. It is only PHARMAC that tries to do that – the rest of the [public] health sector does not use this system.

While Kevin did not disagree with the concept of utilitarianism, he said that those whose health needs are furthest away, from the right to health,  will tend to be  those whose health needs are not met.

“And I don’t believe that that can be an acceptable consequence,” he added.

“So for that reason , we believe that the New Zealand health system needs to be able to have a second approach… Our approach is very congruent indeed with that you just heard outlined by Labour. I think  it’s very exciting indeed that Labour and ourselves have that same approach…”

Kevin said that whilst he believed that some of PHARMAC’s criteria for cost-benefits could be amended to take other criteria into consideration – such as participating in the workforce –  that he did not believe that the Agency should be bound by the “right to life” argument. Kevin preferred keeping PHARMAC’s “structures” as simple as possible, and keeping it’s cost-utility as straight forward as possible.

He would not “load” PHARMAC with the responsibility of resolving the orphan drugs and rare disorders  issues.

Kevin spoke to the PHARMAC representative in the audience and said,

“I would say just keep doing what you’re doing now, Stefan.”

Kevin then added,

“But. We are going to create another fund, which is specifically to be used on this right-to-health basis. I have no problem with  the cost effectiveness being one of the  criteria that is  used on the fund, but it’s  only one of a range of criteria. And I have no problem with PHARMAC’s people doing the analysis, but it can’t be PHARMAC that makes the decisions and I favour an independent Board very much as Annette outlined under Labour’s policy.”

Kevin said that even under two  systems there would still be inequities as there would always be a mis-match between dollars available and the need it has to try to cover. He said no system could be perfect in this regard.

“But using the two approaches actually reduces the size of that inequity, and that has to be a good thing.”

Kevin said “a great injustice has been committed” and the Greens would work to end that injustice.

Again, the audience responded with enthusiasm, obviously welcoming the Green position on the issue.

Wallace then introduced the last political speaker, New Zealand First’s spokesperson on Health, Barbara Stewart;

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Barbara began with a greeting and an apology for not being present for the first part of the seminar. She explained that the House was sitting under Urgency and extended hours. She congratulated John Forman for the “wonderful job he has been doing over the many years”, and thanked him for continuing to keep NZ First appraised of the issues surrounding rare disorders and orphan drugs. Without further preamble, Barbara launched into her policy speech. She got straight to the point;

“In NZ First, we believe that as a First World country, we should be able to afford access for orphan drugs. There is an underlying right to health  care. We are very aware that sufferers of rare diseases deserve fair treatment when it comes to access to orphan drugs. So we’ve been very pleased to hear what  Annette has announced. And I know that  Kevin thankfully  supports it, and I know that  we would in New Zealand First as well.

The last thing that want  to see is  people keeping on falling throught the gaps. The status quo needs changing. There is nothing surer than that. Particularly for orphan drugs. New Zealand was once thought of as one of  the highest  for the quality of  healthcare in the OECD. And it’s interesting to note that this ranking is slowly dropping away.”

Barbara said that many other countries ahead us on the OECD scale did indeed supply medicines for rare diseases. She said that NZ First has looked at the Australian model and “it appears to be successful“.

Barbara said,

“Here we would support Annette King with her model that she is proposing.” She added, “we don’t want to see New Zealand behind the rest of the world”.

Barbara acknowledged that PHARMAC has done a good job over the years, but that it was time “for a review”.

“We’re disappointed to see that the government, through PHARMAC , seems to be taking a relatively hard-line approach on medical funding and we know that this is putting people’s lives at risk… This is an issue that does need to be resolved.”

“So, we believe that equity and fairness is essential and whatever we can do to ensure that sufferers of rare diseases… can have access to the best treatment, we will do.”

Barbara concluded her speech with those words and Wallace thanked her.

NZORD director, John Forman then read out a statrement from the Maori Party. In it, they apologised for not being able to attend. Reading from the paper, he said,

“The Maori Party promotes the idea of a separate policy process for managing New Zealand’s supply of orphan drugs for rare disorders. We have a particular interest in  orphan drugs access policy through our support of people living with Pompe Disease, a  serious muscle wasting disease, that without treatment will result in respiratory and cardiac  failure. We understand the exceptional circumstances approach towards supporting applications for access to specialised and expensive medicines, such as enzyme replacement therapy, has yielded adverse impacts on too many individuals. And we cannot support any policy effect which results in government picking winners and losers.”

The Maori Party statement went on to state that there was an impact on  those suffering rare diseases by the inequitable decisions of this government. “There is a profound injustice at play”  that some families were impacted simply because of the rarity  of certain diseases and the consideration of appropriate treatment. The statement concluded by acknowledging the work done by organisations such as Muscular Dystrophy, the Lysosomal Diseases New Zealand, and New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders.

Wallace then opened the floor for questions.

In answer to a question as to when the Parties present would implement a separate Funding Agency, Kevin Hague replied, “in the first hundred days“.

Annette agreed with Kevin that it would be done “as soon as possible“. She gave a “solid committment that this would happen“.

This blogger then asked Barbara Stewart a question relating to her Party’s committment to a separate Funding Agency for orphan drugs. I confirmed that her Party would support a separate Funding model for orphan drugs, and she replied,

“We would support that, yes.”

I asked my follow-up question,

“…Here’s the problem. Is that, it’s  fine for you to sit there, saying you support it… but if your leader decides to go with National, it’s not going to happen, is it?”

To which Barbara replied,

“Oh, we have to wait until after the election before we can actually say anything at this point in time.”

Wallace suggested that Barbara txt-message Winston now to find out. She declined, and added,

“No, we do always say that will wait until the voters say what they’re going to say and then we work it through from there.”

The seminar continued with more questions and answers from the audience, including representatives from pharmaceutical companies and PHARMAC.

A talk was presented by Daniel Webby on his very personal experiences with living with a rare disorder.

John Forman presented his speech on issues and problems surrounding rare disorders and orphan drugs. His slide presentation finished with this image;

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A sobering conclusion to John’s speech, I thought.

My own conclusion from listening to the representatives from Labour, The Greens, NZ First, and the Maori Party, is that all profess to support a separate funding agency for orphan drugs.

But only Labour and the Greens can be counted on  to carry out their pledge.

New Zealand First states that it supports a separate Funding Model – but without knowing which way Winston Peters will move post-2014, then his Party’s policies must be viewed with uncertainty.

The Maori Party is in an even more untenable position on this issue.  Traditionally, they have viewed Labour with disdain, and instead chosen to coalesce with National. Unless the Maori Party makes a separate funding model for orphan drugs a bottom-line negotiating point – then their policy-pledge will go nowhere.

New Zealanders living with rare disorders, desperately seeking life-giving treatment, are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, and an unnecessary interuption to their lives – on top of the effects of their disorders.

Yet, they have come far from their early days when they first approached PHARMAC for assistance, and were constantly knocked back. Those were dark days for people like John, Freda, Allyson, Daniel, Jenny, and many others.

But after this seminar, they found recognition for their efforts; understanding for their plight; and something else to bolster their spirits…

They found hope.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 August 2013.

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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.
* Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to NZ Organisation for Rare Disorders is requested.
* At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
* Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Previous related blogposts

Priorities? (19 Oct 2011)

Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key (12 Nov 2012)

Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key – Update & more questions (28 Nov 2012)

Health Minister circumvents law to fulfill 2008 election bribe? (18 Dec 2012)

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Compassion (9 Jan 2013)

“There’s always an issue of money but we can find money for the right projects” – John Key (20 Jan 2013)

“One should judge a society by how it looks after the sick and vulnerable” – part tahi (4 March 2013)

“One should judge a society by how it looks after the sick and vulnerable” – part rua (4 March 2013)

“One should judge a society by how it looks after the sick and vulnerable” – part toru (4 March 2013)

Additional

NZORD

UN Special Rapporteur on Health

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“Freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered”

10 August 2013 1 comment

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spying

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Firstly, let me point out and remind my readers (if any needed reminding), that I do not support ACT, nor it’s simplistic (and failed) neo-liberal market policies, nor it’s hardline policies toward those surviving on social welfare (many of whom are victims of said neo-liberalism’s failings).

Ok. Sorted.

Having got that preamble out of the way, I would like to extend a mighty big kudos to ACT on Campus who have come out opposing both  the  GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – both of which are currently before Parliament.

In an article on Scoop Media today, Vice President Guy McCallum voiced these words of wisdom,

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Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

Source: Scoop Media – Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

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To requote Guy McCallum,

“It’s a well-meant offer, but neither he, nor John Key, nor the Labour Party (which launched this mess in the first place) can guarantee that the next person with keys to the Cabinet will be so just. They can’t guarantee that those at the top won’t give in to the obvious, inevitable temptations that come with this power – the power to watch you without you knowing and without having to tell you why.

It is incumbent upon all of our political leaders to oppose these bills. Not just because they will lead to the most obvious of places – state tyranny – but because politicians should be standing up to anyone who claims that such immoral and perverted powers are necessary.”

And backed up by ACT on Campus President Taylor Warwood ,

“We believe that the bills are an unnecessary expansion of state power. While Labour’s original legislation does need improving, people must be mindful that freedoms traded for security are rarely recovered.”

Both gentlemen are 100% spot on, and I believe that this is the grave mistake which many others on the Right have missed. The Right may support these two Bills – but only because “their man” is in power.

The Right may not be so happy if a left-wing Party comes to power and starts spying on them.

Mr McCallum and Mr Warwood understand this perfectly.

It’s a great shame that the wrong ACT members are in Parliament. We need more wisdom like this, rather than John Banks, who can stand up for the rights of animals (see previous blogpost:  Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs – part tahi) – but not for the rights of New Zealanders not to be spied on.

I have lived through the Muldoon years; the Lange years; the Bolger/Shipley years; the Clark years; and now through Key’s administration.

During that time I have seen the slow creep of State power increasing. Each time, the government of the day – and I point to both Labour and National on this score – has promised “just a little bit further to invade your privacy, but no more”.

But there is always “a little bit more”.  Each government seems to find the need for a bit more State power and more surveillance and a consequential loss of our privacy.

Which is why, when I appeared before the Parliamentary Intelligence Select Committee on 5 July, I directed my comments at David Shearer and Russell Norman.

I said to both men that State power has grown with each passing decade, and each time we were promised that our privacy would be protected and State intrusion minimised. I told them that the political pledges in the 1970s, to protect our privacy, as the then new Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 was being passed, were now worthless.

I told them that this must stop.

I told them in another few years, I’d be back, arguing against even more State surveillance and police powers being  demanded from Parliament.

And I asked them a simple question;

“When did it come to  pass that we went from the State having to justify  a new police or spy law – to citizens like me having to appear before a Select Committee to justify why I should be allowed to maintain my privacy? When did that happen?”

I then said to both men that should they come to power post-2014, that Parliament not only needed to review the entire spy apparatus in this country – but that it was time to wind back the clock. It was time to cut back on surveillance and extreme search powers, and to return privacy and civil rights to New Zealanders.

There is simply no justification for these powers. We do not have homegrown “terrorists”. Nor people building “weapons of mass destruction” in their basements.  So I certainly do not believe one word that escapes John Key’s mouth. Let’s be honest here; his ability to tell lies is now a joke amongst most of the public. We know he’s bullshitting us. And he probaby knows that we know.

But we’re polite and we play our little game of politeness.

But not this time. Not with something as critical as this to the our way of life.

Because unless we do, in another five or ten years, there will be yet  another addition to State surveillance,  State control, and Police powers.

And another five years later, more laws.

And five years after that…

Until, finally, in the name of “state security” and phantom bogeymen, we find ourselves living in a country that is alien to anything that young men and women died fighting for, 70-plus years ago.

When the liberal left and the liberal right find a commonality, it is no longer a political-partisan  matter. It is one that affects us all. Even those who naively assert that they have “nothing to hide”.

So I say to the members of Act on Campus – keep up the fight. It is possibly one of the most important you will ever face.

And I say to Mr Shearer and the Green co-leaders; don’t let us down.

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 August 2013.

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See also

The Daily Blog: It bloody well is not an imaginary problem when our government spies on our journalists!

The Critic: Saying No to the GCSB and TICS

The Pundit: Who’s to blame for the abuse on Andrea Vance?

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Ariana for Wellington Regional Council – Campaign Launch

9 August 2013 3 comments

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ariana's campaign launch

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[When]    Saturday, 10 August

[Time]    2PM

[Where]    Bucket Fountain – Cuba Street, Wellington CBD

MANA Candidate Underscores Right to Water in Regional Council Campaign Opening.

Entertainment by the beautiful Marama Te Kira and Free Water from Wellington Springs will be served.

The right of everyone to have free access to water will feature in the launch of MANA’s campaign for the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The launch will have a group giving away water while another group tries to sell it.

Candidate Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati says that proposals for a super city and a proposal that all councils should charge for the use of water by volume could lead to the commercialisation of water. She says that people who are already struggling financially will find it hard to pay water bills.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council’s proposal for local government reform is very much like the Auckland super city she says. In Auckland many of the services are now run by Council-owned profit-making companies and all properties now have water meters.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde also chairs the Local Government Infrastructure Efficiency Task Force, which has produced a report whose recommendations include compulsory water meters for everyone says Ms  Paretutanganui-Tamati.

Other concerns featuring in her campaign are the proposed super city for Wellington and pollution of the sea  and coastline if drilling for oil goes ahead.

The campaign launch will take place at the Bucket Fountain, Cuba Mall at 2pm on Saturday 10 August.

.If you would like to help get Ariana elected for the Wellington Constituency of the Greater Wellington Regional Council please contact:

Warwick Taylor Campaign Manager
Phone: 022175 8362 or 04 9344626
ariana4wellington@gmail.com

Donations can be made to:

MANA Wellington Campiagn
Kiwibank
38-9015-0095533-00

And or please join us at our Fundraising Dinner:
Saturday 17 August at 6pm
Trinity Union Church, 14 Hall Street, Newtown
$5.00 waged $10 Unwaged
For tickets phone Warwick Taylor (contact above).

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Blogger’s Note

Having met and campaigned alongside Ariana on numerous occassions, on issues such as fighting state asset sales, I heartily endorse her candidacy for the Wellington Regional Council. As well as tireless* dedication to justice, sovereignty, and peace issues, Ariana is a woman of political  integrity and personal honesty.

She has my support, and my vote.

– Frank Mascskasy

Blogger

(* Tireless – I mean that literally. Ariana is a Wonder Woman of energy and enthusiasm!)

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