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Archive for December, 2013

2013 – The Year that Was

31 December 2013 13 comments

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2013

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National – High Point Achievement Award

Staying high in the polls despite controversies; scandals; obvious lies told by it’s Leader; making it harder for first home buyers to own their own home; rising child poverty and inequality; kids eating out of rubbish bins and increasing poverty-related diseases;  damage to our precious image as a “Clean and Green” nation; rampant corporate welfare; ongoing harrassment of welfare beneficiaries; lack of jobs; threatening to kick tenants out of State Housing; cuts to early childhood education; reducing worker’s rights and attacks on Unions; increasing wage gap with Australia; … and on it goes.

New Zealanders must have cast-iron-stomachs to tolerate such a blatantly  anti-Kiwi party that goes so badly against our much-vaunted “fair go” and supposed “egalitarian” nature.

National – Low Point Screw-Up Award

Hard to choose.

There is so much ghastliness from this shabby government – where does one start?

Perhaps this little story, that recently appeared on Radio NZ’s website;

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Pharmacies 'carry cost' of increases

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Perhaps nothing better illustrates the transfer of wealth better than the poorest people having to pay for higher prescription charges, whilst those on higher incomes received a $4 billion tax cut.

Someone had to pay for Key’s generosity, and New Zealand’s poorest and lowest paid workers drew short straws. That is how a wealth transfer occurs; high income earners get a tax cut and low income earners and welfare beneficiaries  get increased user-pays government charges; a rise in GST; and costs for  privatised services.

Meanwhile, the Middle Classes scratch their heads and wonder why the poor can’t put food on their table?

National MP of the Year Award

Maurice Williamson – for his “Big Gay Rainbow” speech.

Priceless.

For that speech alone, he deserves his seat in Parliament.

Labour MP of the Year Award

David Shearer – for grace and courage under fire from those around him; the Left; the Right; the media; et al.

We yearn for decent politicians in Parliament who look, sound, and behave like ordinary Kiwis – but savage them to pieces when we actually get one.

Typical.

NZ First MP of the Year Award

Tracey Martin – one of Parliament’s best kept “secrets”. One to watch out for as her career in politics is on the rise. Recently elevated to Deputy Leader of NZ First, she has the potential to increase her Party’s public approval (once Peters has taken retirement – perhaps in Tauranga?).

She may actually make serious inroads into the left-wing vote…

Green MP of the Year Award

Russell Norman – for calling John Key out as the new Rob Muldoon.

Unerringly accurate.

Maori Party MP of the Year Award

Tariana Turia – for her unceasing battle against Big Tobacco. This woman has more cojones than half of Parliament rolled into one.

It’s a shame she’s resigning. This blogger would love to see her carry on her Associate Health Minister role in a Labour-led government. God knows we need someone of her integrity and determination to stand up to corporate power.

Best Party Policy Award

Mana Party – for it’s Feed The Children Bill. Hone Harawira and his Party managed to forced National to take some action on this problem. It may not be enough, but Mana got the ball rolling.

Mana deserves to be back in Parliament next year. Hopefully with a couple of extra MPs?

Leftwing Blogger of the Year Award

Burnt Out Teacher, on The Daily Blog, for her poignant insights into the teaching profession; the education system; our children; and how National government ministers simply haven’t a clue.

As an example of her brilliant writing, check out her blogposts here.

Honestly, she is bloody good.

Honourable mentions go to blogger Marama Davidson for her deep social conscience and feminist ideals, and Martyn “Bomber”  Bradbury (the latter for trying to herd bloggers cats) for making “The Daily Blog” one of the Left’s most effective tools.

Rightwing blogger of the Year Award

Cameron Slater. Always.

The man is a constant reminder why we carry on the struggle for a saner, fairer, society.

Thank you, Cam. Please don’t ever give up. You’re the best motivational we have.

Most Coherent Rightwinger Award

Matthew Hooton. The guy is scarily rational-sounding. Please god, do not let him take leadership of the ACT Party. Pretty-pleeeaassse! (See previous blogpost: Suggested candidates for new ACT leader)

Runner-up: none. The rest are as mad as a box of cats.

Muppet of the Year Award

Len Brown.

’nuff said.

1st Runner-up: Colin Craig.

Chemtrails. Moon Landing Hoax conspiracy.

Again, ’nuff said.

2nd Runner up: again, Colin Craig. For being daft enough to threaten The Civilian with a law-suit. (Unless… it was a clever conspiracy by Craig to gain more publicity for his Party?! What next – chem-trails in the sky spelling out “Vote Colin Craig in 2014“?!

Naive person of the Year Award

Bevan Chuang.

Dealing with Cameron Slater?! What were you thinking, woman?!?!

Really, Really, Dumb Comment of the Year Award

John Key, on the asset sales referendum,

Well the numbers don’t look like they’re that significant. I mean at the moment it’s sitting at around about 40 per cent.

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Key added that the number was  “not absolutely amazing, it’s not overwhelmingly opposed”.

Not “significant”?!

More people voted in the referendum (1,297,281) than voted for National in 2011 ( 1,058,638).

Only an idiot who is hell-bent on losing an election dismisses a voter turn-out that was significantly larger than those who voted for your Party.

It seems that Aaron Gilmore was not the only one who allowed his Tory arrogance to slip out.

Really, Really, Dumb Action of the Year Award

Goes to John Key for taking two ex National Ministers, who supported the 1981 Springbok Tour,  to Nelson Mandela’s funeral – whilst deliberately not inviting any of the anti-Tour leaders of the protest movement.

On top of which, Key then abused Hone Harawira for going to South Africa – and Harawira was actually a part of the anti-Tour leadership!!!

“This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and shouldn’t be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is we took a delegation – whether he likes it or not – that represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don’t believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa.”

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Class act, Mr Key, real classy.

Curious Story of the Year Award

The blockade of our meat exports to China for, ostensibly, “paperwork problems”… (see previous blogposts:   What’s the beef, guv? and Taiwan FTA – Confirmation by TVNZ of China pressuring the Beehive?)

By “coincidence”, at the same time, New Zealand trade officials were also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement deal with Taiwan – which Beijing China considers a renegade province.

Did Beijing flex it’s muscles with a subtle warning of what might happen if the FTA deal went too far? Was the “paperwork problem” a face-saving cover-up by Key’s government?

I believe it was.

Reality Check of the Year Award

Whilst the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) currently has unemployment at 6.2% – the recent Census Survey revealed that true unemployment was actually 7.1%!

So next time the Nats are crowing that unemployment is dropping, just remember, as the old song goes,

“… it ain’t necessarily so!”

See previous blogpost: The REAL level of unemployment

Runner-Up: The same Census revealed that 12.9% of households rely on some form of communication other than landlines: ie, cellphones (see previous blogpost: Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua).

Which makes the Roy Morgan poll the most accurate, as it is the only one that currently phones respondents on their cellphones. Other pollsters call only landlines.

Stasi Award for the Year

Peter Dunne and John Banks – both of whom voted for the GCSB and Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security (TICS) Bills. New Zealand moved a couple of steps further toward being a policed surveillance state.

The irony of Banks voting for these two Bills should not be lost on us. ACT is supposedly the Party that wants to get government “out of our lives”.

Voting to increase state powers of surveillance and data gathering is anything but.

Epic fail.

Direct Action Award

The chap (chapess?) who left this message on the footpath outside a National MP’s electorate office:  One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill…

Direct. Too the point. Nicely done.

John Key Liar of the Year Award

… goes to ****drrrrrumrolllll****

Luigi Wewege!!

For lying about *not* being in a relationship with Bevan  Chuang – and then being sprung by Kiwiblogger, David Farrar. (See: Not in a relationship!)

Hint to Mr Wewege: if you’re going to deny a relationship, make sure you haven’t been Tweeting her with naughty messages. Doh!

Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award

This Award is rare as hens-teeth – but this year it is given to David Farrar, for reporting on Luigi Wewege who lied about *not* being in a relationship with Bevan  Chuang (see above).

Good stuff, DPF.

 Spiteful, Hateful, Intemperate, Tosser*Award

To Michael Laws! Ten years in a row – a world record for tossers!

This time, for abusing women who decide to bear, raise, and care for children with Downs Syndrome, instead of aborting them. (See: How human is Michael Laws?)

This was a new personal-best low for Laws, whose humanity is in dire question.

Laws,  you really, really need to STFU.

(*note the acronym)

Runner-Up: Bob Jones, for his bizarre and downright repugnant comments about encouraging someone to commit suicide. (see:  Calling all white, old, rich men who are decent – please rein in your peers!)

Jones was put firmly in his place with this beautifully written blogpost by Sarah Wilson –  What is the cost?

H is for Hypocrite Award

Paula Bennett – for her on-going vendetta against welfare beneficiaries. National’s victimisation of the unemployed, solo-mums, widows, etc, is nothing more than a nasty attempt to blame these people for being out of work.

Yet, when Key, English, or one of their other taxpayer-bloated,  National cronies have to explain why the economy is not doing so well – they refer to the Global Financial Crisis as an excuse.

Of course, when Bennett was on the DPB, she did very, very well out of the system (see previous blogpost: Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy).

Runner-up: National MP and Associate Social Welfare Minister,  Chester Borrows. For aiding and abetting Bennett’s rampage against the poor and the dispossessed (see:   OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows).

Shame on them both.

Victorian Era Bash-The-Poor  Award

Destiny Church co-leader, Hannah Tamaki – for suggesting on an episode of TV3’s The Vote that the poor in New Zealand shouldn’t be complaining if they live in cold, drafty houses and can’t afford heating.

They should all just cuddle up under a blanket.

Well, there y’go! Sorted!

Event of the Year

The death of Nelson Mandela – one of the most inspirational human beings in modern times.

#1 Suggestion to National Leader, John Key

Call an early election.

Lose.

Then feel free to enjoy another holiday in Hawaii.

Permanently.

#1 Suggestion to Labour Leader, David Cunliffe

Nothing would better send a strong message to New Zealanders that child Poverty is a growing crisis in this country, than if you took on the portfolio of Minister for Children.

It would send a message that the welfare and future of this nation’s children is our number one priority. Nothing else is as important.

Quite simply, our children are our future.

Wouldn’t this look good on the door to your new office on the Ninth Floor,

Rt. Hon. David Cunliffe
Prime Minister
Minister for Children

Ticking Time Bomb for the Nats

Increasing child poverty?

Widening wage gap between Aussie and Kiwi workers?

Growing wealth inequality?

Dangerous deep-sea oil prospecting/drilling of our coast?

Stubbornly high housing prices?

Lack of jobs?

Nope. Whilst all those things are growing problems  and a toxic brew for any  government, none of them will bring down the Nats.

But this will;

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Mortgage woe looms

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Further mortgage rate rises 'inevitable'

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Most people can easily become accustomed to a constant ‘diet’ of bad news of poverty, inequality, environmental damage, etc. They aren’t affected by such problems on a day-to-day level.

But as interest rates rise, so will mortgage payments increase  for the middle classes,  and that, people,  will  be a weekly (or fortnightly) reminder. Coupled with low wage growth and rising prices – and home-owners will start to be seriously hurt in their back pockets.

Every week/fortnight.

In their wallets.

This will put a stake through the heart of  Key’s aspirations for as third term.

Dear Leader’s last remaining ‘gloss’ will be stripped away. And all his pathetic attempts to blame the previous  Labour government will be treated with the derisory contempt it deserves.

As always, it will be naked self-interest from the middle classes that undoes this wretched, incompetant government. (A government that can casually throw millions of tax-dollars at Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, Skycity, et al – but seems paralysed – like a possum caught in the glare of approaching headlights –  when it comes to feeding hungry kids at school.)

Self-interest by the middle classes – the central theme of neo-liberalism.

Gotta love the irony.

On a positive note, summer is here; we’ve survived another year of Tory mis-management and Key’s lies; and our economy may start to pick up if Aussie and Chinese markets stay bouyant. Fingers crossed.

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Kiwi-Xmas2anim

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Merry Christmas to one and all!

And Kiwis – vote yourselves a really neat prezzie next year: vote yourselves a new government!

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 December 2013.

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References

Radio NZ:  Pharmacies ‘carry cost’ of increases

NZ Herald: Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour

NZ Herald: Norman – Key ‘acting like Muldoon’

TVNZ: Williamson’s ‘big, gay rainbow’ speech makes world headlines

NZ Herald: Peters’ new kid plunges into fray

Radio NZ: Further mortgage rate rises ‘inevitable’

Fairfax media: PM playing down voter turnout

Radio NZ: Key criticises Harawaira for tax-funded trip for Mandela funeral

NZ Herald: Mortgage woe looms

Fairfax media: Wewege denies relationship with Chuang

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship!

Fairfax media: School breakfasts bill goes before Parliament

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Once Were Leaders…

30 December 2013 Leave a comment

Once upon a time, in a little nation of a few million people, we elected great leaders who strode the world, setting an example that we could live a better way…

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Norman Kirk anti nuclear testing at moruroa

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Now, this country elects leaders like this…

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trending on twitter - NZ's leader questioned over apartheid amnesia

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What is it they say – in a democracy we get the politicians we deserve?

I’d like to think we deserve much better. We’ll certainly get a chance to put that to the test next year.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 December 2013.

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References

Twitter: Rudolf Hills

Huffington Post: New Zealand’s Leader Questioned Over Apartheid Amnesia

NZ Listener: Influentials: Speeches that helped shape us

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Congratulations to the Daily Blog…

29 December 2013 2 comments

Congratulations to The Daily Blog – 2,000 subscribers thus far!

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2000 subscribers to The Daily Blog

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May it gain more supporters and go from strength to strength!

(And if you haven’t subscribed by clicking on TDB’s Facebook page – do it now! Gowan, you know you wanna!)

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Categories: Media Tags:

Some pure wisdom from Facebook…

28 December 2013 1 comment

Amongst all the dross, BS, and outright hoaxes, occasionally one finds something on the ‘net that is a little nugget of wisdom…

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Hoax stories on the internet

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Hat tip

Duncan Lucas

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An Open Letter to Len Brown’s Council Critics.

28 December 2013 3 comments

This is an Open Letter to those on Auckland’s City Council – specifically those right wing Councillors who are now ‘gunning’ for Len Brown’s resignation. I refer to Councillors Dick Quax, Cameron Brewer, Christine Fletcher – though others should take note as well.

Are you purer than virgin snow?

Holier than the Pope?

More innocent than a newborn lamb?

I hope so.

Because just  in case it may have escaped your attention, politics in this country just got a whole lot dirtier and smellier.

It may have started with the so-called “expose” by the Sultan of Sleaze, Cameron Slater, and aided and abetted by others connected to the Polino mayoral campaign-camp (John Slater, Luigi Wewege, et al) – but certain right-wing Councillors have ramped up the temperature to white-heat by demanding Brown’s resignation.

All because Mayor Len Brown wasn’t found guilty of mis-using Council funds – he was found “guilty” of not declaring free hotel rooms and free hotel room upgrades.

Big whoopty-doos.

Brown is guilty of gross stupidity – especially for accepting freebies from SkyCity – but these are not offences demanding a resignation and a million dollar mayoral by-election.

If Aucklanders want to waste a million bucks on a needless by-election, then they have been spending too much time on their motorways breathing in mind-altering engine fumes.

But back to my point.

Quax, Brewer, et al, need to be 100% that they themselves have led blameless careers whilst in local body politics.

Have they declared everything?

Evidently not.

Cr  Brewer – one of Brown’s staunchest critics – seems to have been caught out as well,

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mayor's critic didn't declare trip - 2012.2013

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If Brown goes – Brewer must resign as well. No ifs or buts. Just p*ss of.

And to the remaining opponants to Len Brown – you are all on notice. Your actions from now on will be under a microscope and every blogger in this country will keenly scrutinising your actions.

If you so much as spit on the footpath, we’ll know.

You better make sure every donation is scrupulously recorded; every allowance legally claimed; every freebie faithfully registered; every action fully justifiable.

Because a million eyes will be watching. And we’ll know.

And not just left wing bloggers either. There are even Right Wing bloggers like David Farrar who take a dim view of liars,

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Kiwiblog - not in a relationship

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(Kudos to David Farrar for taking a principled stand on this issue.)

So let’s hope that Brown’s detractors sitting around the Auckland Council table are squeaky clean and, like Caesar’s wife, are above suspicion.

The bar has been raised.

Expectations are now higher.

And precedent has been established.

So, behave yourselves.

We’ll be watching.

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Postscript

A note to Len Brown.

Dear gods, let this be an end to it.

The next time you F**K up, it won’t be Quax, Brewer, Slater, et al, calling for your arse to be chucked out – it will be left wing bloggers. And we will be even more relentless and merciless.

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

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References

Radio NZ:  Mayor’s critic didn’t declare trip

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship!

Counterpoint View

The Daily Blog: Len Old Friend: This Is Why You Must Stand Down

The Dim Post: Thinking my way through the whole Len Brown thing

Additional

The Standard: Ernst and Young should investigate Cameron Brewer

The Daily Blog: Cough-cough, so doesn’t this kinda make Cameron Brewer a smug hypocrite?

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Confirmed: National welcomes low-wage economy

28 December 2013 3 comments

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From the mouth of our Dear Leader, Prime Minister John Key;

We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives, as well as a good retirement.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.”   – John Key, 6 September 2008

I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves.” – John Key, 15 July 2009

Science and innovation are important. They’re one of the keys to growing our economy, raising wages, and providing the world-class public services that Kiwi families need.” – John Key, 12 March 2010

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key, 8 February 2011

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more  jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” –  John Key, 19 April 2012

Since 2007, Key has been explicit in his pronouncements; his policy is to see wages rise for New Zealanders. He has made those utterance every year.

Then, on  10 April 2011, on TVNZ’s Q+A, Guyon Espiner interviewed  Bill English and we heard this extraordinary admission from the Finance Minister;

GUYON Can I talk about the real economy for people?  They see the cost of living keep going up.  They see wages really not- if not quite keeping pace with that, certainly not outstripping it much.  I mean, you said at the weekend to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum that one of our advantages over Australia was that our wages were 30% cheaper.  I mean, is that an advantage now?

BILL Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it?  I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well.
 
GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia?

BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for Australia.  So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia.  We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact.  We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing.  This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia.  That’s lifting the standard.  They’re closing up the gap.

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia.  So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand.  If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

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Key responded in his typical fashion that we are all familiar with by now; he blamed the previous Labour government;

We inherited a mess from Labour and a real recession. We have a plan.”

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Considering that the previous Labour government had posted eight straight budget surpluses in a row, and paid down most of the country’s sovereign debt – it is unclear just what “mess” Key was referring to.

But as we all know by now, Key has zero hesitation in blaming others – especially the previous government – to avoid taking responsibility for any of his own shortcomings (which, by now, are legion).

So was English correct? Is it deliberate National Party policy to suppress wages in this country?

One might have accepted that English’s comments on Q+A were “mis-interpreted”.

However, two years later, National Party backbench MP, John Hayes, wrote this on his website,

Australian workers will get a 2.6 per cent rise to $A622.20 a week or $NZ750.50 at the prevailing exchange rate. That’s $A16.37 ($NZ19.75) an hour for Aussies’ 38-hour working week compared with $NZ13.75 an hour or $NZ550 for Kiwis’ 40-hour working week. I note that the Labour Party spokesperson on Labour issues is wringing her hands in despair at this news. I think we should celebrate because a rise in the minimum wage in Australia makes our labour force more competitive and will be helpful in attracting investment and jobs to New Zealand. About 18 months ago CHB Mayor Peter Butler and I approached Australian based food processors with the suggestion of moving across the Tasman to establish plants in New Zealand to process food produced under newly irrigated areas. We established that Australian food processors are interested to do this when our new irrigation is in place. A driver from the Australian perspective is that the New Zealand labour force is well educated, more productive and less unionised than their Australian counterparts.” – John Hayes, National MP, 5 June 2013

Bill English’s contention, that lower wages are a desirable means by which to be “so much more competitive” than Australian workers,was no mistake. It has been confirmed as covert National Party policy.

This is further backed up by National’s recent introduction of legislation to “reform” our labour laws.

Firstly, National reintroduced youth rates, euphemistically called the “Starting Out Wage” to young workers. Taking effect on 1 May 2013, the new youth rate cut wages  for  16-to-19-year-olds to  80% of the minimum wage.

National further disempowered workers and undermined their ability to negotiate by implementing the 90 Day “Trial Period”. First introduced in 2009 for small business of up to 20 employees, it was extended to all companies in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, the introduction of the 90 Day Trial Period had no appreciable effect on creating jobs,

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One of the most far-reaching aspects of National’s covert agenda to make the country’s workforce  “more flexible” (translation; more exploitable)  is their stated intention to remove Part 6A  of the Employment Relations Act (ERA),  which continues (or transfers under similar conditions and pay) the employment of  low-paid employees such as caretakers, cleaners, catering workers, hospital orderlies and laundry workers,  after a business is restructured or sold.

See: Part 6A – Continuity of employment if employees’ work affected by restructuring

Part 6A gives vulnerable, low-paid workers, the right to keep their jobs on the same terms of employment when  transferred to the new contractor.

See: Labour law changes announced

Then-Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson had assured the public that this law-change would apply only to  small and medium-sized businesses with less than 20 employees.

Which was precisely the same tactic used to implement the 90 Day Trial Period law, by degree,

Trial employment periods for up to 90 days for workplaces with fewer than 20 employees will be available from April 2009.” – Kate Wilkinson,  11 December 2008

See: National policy – 90-day trial period to provide job opportunities

Once National’s so-called “reforms” were bedded in, they changed it, implementing the real policy  they had wanted all along,

The 90-day trial period is to be extended to enable all employers and new employees to have the chance to benefit from it.” – Kate Wilkinson,  18 July 2010

Once Part 6A is removed from the lawbooks, the lowest-paid workers in our communities will be vulnerable. A new employer will  be able to re-write their contracts at whim; reduce  their pay; change their conditions, or dismiss them altogether. There are many such small business and the impact on their workers could be severe (Source).

Green Party industrial-relations spokeswoman, Denise Roche, was 100% on-the nose when she described these – and other “reforms” as,

This decision is straight from the Bill Birch era of industrial relations.”

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This is indeed a return to the Employment Contracts Act – by stealth. National is too gutless to present such radical plans to the voting public at election time.

This is indeed what National MP, John Hayes was referring to when he stated, 

…A driver from the Australian perspective is that the New Zealand labour force is well educated, more productive and less unionised than their Australian counterparts.”

And if National MP (Botany) Jamie Lee-Ross gets his way with his even more extreme Bill,  employers would be able to legally hire scab labour to replace striking workers .

Quite brazen in his actions, Jami-Lee Ross  admitted that he had colluded with POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) bosses to draft his proposed  strike-breaking amendment, the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill.

On TV3′s The Nation on 22 June 2013, Ross confirmed that he had been in talks with employers during the height of the industrial dispute between the POAL and MUNZ (Maritime Union).  (source)

Ross’s hatred for Unions is on public record,

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

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None, it would seem, according to Ross.

Though this radical move may be  a step too far, even for the

Make no mistake, National’s secret agenda is for a low wage economy, with minimal collective protections for workers, and as much power in the hands of employers as they can digest.

National has no other means by which to create jobs.

They intend to rely solely on the “market place”, and to do that, this country’s labour must become “more competitive”.

Translation; our wages must be driven down by any and every means possible.

Just ask Messrs English and Hayes.

Postscript

21 February 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT

AUS-NZ Wage Gap Now $180, More Than A Kiwi’s Daily Pay

How To Work A Four-Day Week? Move To Australia

The wage gap with Australia is now so large that Kiwis across the ditch earn a New Zealander’s weekly pay in just four days, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker

“The median weekly wage gap with Australia has ballooned by $60 to $180 per week under John Key’s leadership, despite National’s promise to close the gap.

“In Australia the median wage is $1067, in New Zealand it’s $887, according to the latest statistics[1]. To make up the difference Kiwis need to work another full day and another hour on top of that. It’s no surprise 182,000 Kiwis have left under National.

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National’s Grand Plan is a roaring success;  in July 2010 the wage gap was $22.36.

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

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References

TVNZ Q+A: Bill English

TV3: Key blames Labour for his Govt’s wage gap failings

John  Hayes MP for Wairarapa: From the House: 5 June 2013

ODT: Labour law changes announced

Scoop media: Balloted Bill possibly a bridge too far

Green Party: Vulnerable workers’ rights go under National

Scoop media:  Union biting the hand that feeds – Jamie Lee-Ross

Scoop media: AUS-NZ Wage Gap Now $180, More Than A Kiwi’s Daily Pay

Previous related blogposts

Key’s broken promise on raising wages

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – incomes

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

Hat Tip

Paula Fern

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That was Then, This is Now #19 – A “Decade of Deficits”

27 December 2013 4 comments

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19. decade of deficits

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 December 2013.

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Previous related blogpost

That was Then, This is Now #18

References

Fairfax media: Nats blame Labour for ‘decade of deficits’

TVNZ: Breakfast Show

National: Government Share Offer

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According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

26 December 2013 3 comments

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"He's a witch! Burn him! Burn him!" "How do you know he's a witch, peasants?" "Cos the EY Report said so!" "No it didn't peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades." "Close enough!!  Burn him!"

“He’s a witch! Burn him! Burn him!”
“How do you know he’s a witch, peasants?”
“Cos the EY Report said so!”
“No, it didn’t, peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades.”
“Close enough!! Burn him!”

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With the release of the Ernst Young  Independent report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, National Party pollster and one-time employee, David Farrar, has (unsurprisingly) called for Auckland mayor Len Brown’s immediate resignation.

As Farrar wrote in the NBR* on 13 December,

Having now read the EY report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland. I only formed this view after reading the report, and did not believe what had previously been disclosed was substantial enough to warrant resignation.

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public, and also that there were ratepayer resources used for his affair.”

Taking the last point (using ratepayer resources) as a rationale – Farrar is referring to the 1,375 phone calls and txt messages (Point #1)  between Len Brown and Bevan Chuang.

The report acknowledges that “Personal use of mobile phones is permitted by the Elected Members Technology Policy and Guidelines” (but must be reimbursed by the elected member).

Brown made a reimbursement payment of $263 last year (2012).

The report referred to Ms Chuang “attending several functions as the mayor’s translator” (point #2). No ratepayer funds were paid to her.

There is mention made of the mayor receiving an iPad as a gift. That was later auctioned for charity (point #7)

There is mention of a dinner with a personal friend (point #8) – in 2011 – paid by Council.

2011?! The Review went trawling that far back into the past?

Indeed, the report made several findings, some of which I repost in full;

9. We have not identified any instances where council funds were used to pay for gifts given by the mayor to Ms Chuang.
10.The content of council emails we reviewed between the mayor and Ms Chuang were of a council related business nature.
11. Our review of Mayoral Office expenditure did not identify any expenses incurred by council (either directly by the mayor or his immediate support team) that related to the mayor’srelationship with Ms Chuang.
12. We did not identify any improper preferential treatment by the mayor in relation to Ms Chuang’s appointment to the EPAP, New Lynn Night market, Howick Local Board contractsand Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (“ATEED”) services.      
13. We did not identify any instances where Ms Chuang accompanied the mayor on any domestic or international travel.
14. We have not identified any private use of hotels by the mayor that were paid for using council resource.

That’s an awful lot of  “we did not identify blah-blahs“…

The  report referred to free hotel room upgrades – none of which actually cost the rate-payer a single cent (despite what Campbell Live inferred on 17 December).

The word that springs to mind for most of this report is – a witch hunt.

And it appears that even right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton came to the same conclusion on Radio NZ on 16 December (listen:  Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams )

Hooton understands the nasty implications of this witch hunt and dodgy report; the same standard of nit-picking and guilt-by-innuendo can be levelled at every single political figure, of whatever political hue.

We should understand one simple fact; not one human being is perfect. Everyone – everyone – will stuff up, eventually. It is a given.

Don’t expect flawless actions from our elected representatives. We will  be disappointed.

However, I referred to most of this report  being a witch hunt.

There is an exception. Brown’s acceptance of free hotel upgrades from SkyCity was most unwise. In fact, I call it downright dumb.

Is it a “hanging offence” though? No, not quite.

But to accept freebies from a corporation that is currently attempting to gain financial and legislative benefits from central government, in a dodgy deal involving promises of  a “free” convention centre, suggests to me that Brown’s political acumen is badly lacking.

It suggests to me that he will keep screwing up because he has little concept of consequences.

Returning to right-wing blogger; National Party activist*; and one-time employee for various National ministers*, David Farrar – where does he get off demanding,

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public […]  I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland…

If the standard for resignation is now set at “publicly [lying] to the media and the public“, then we should start at the top: John Key.

Let’s look at his most latest blatant lie.

On 13 December, Fairfax media reported this statement from Dear Leader Key,

“… I can assure [Labour leader David] Cunliffe the books are in tip-top condition – that is the polar opposite position to what they were in when we became the Government. But in the last five years we’ve worked hard to turn them around… “

Source

That was a lie.

When National took office in 2008, Labour had paid down this country’s debt, as this simple Treasury graph shows quite clearly,

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Source

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Net debt was reduced from 20% of GDP to 5.6% by 2008.

Even Key admitted this in July 2012,

The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016….”

Source

And on 9 December on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ programme, when he was interviewed on the problem of growing child poverty in New Zealand, he said this (at 2.45);

If you go back to 2005, when the previous government were in office, they had a number, you know, a little bit less than ours, but not a lot less, there was a 180,000 children in poverty, I think this shows 240,000 on that measure.

Back then, New Zealand recorded the biggest surplus in New Zealand’s history...”

Source

Not only did the previous Labour government pay down our debt (which had been created by National in the 1990s), but then Finance Minister Michael Cullen posted some fairly impressive surpluses,

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Source

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For more information on the state of the economy under Labour’s watch, refer to this previous blogpost.

So Key and his National mates inherited a pretty well-run economy by November 2008 – just as the Global Financial Crisis was beginning to be felt in this country.

Comments such as  “under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance” are patently dishonest and a downright lie (source).

We have heard many such throwaway lines from Key, English, and other National ministers as they (a) try to discredit the former Labour Government’s creditable performance (b) blame their own fiscal mismanagement and shortcomings on their predecessor.

So when will Farrar be calling on Key to resign for lying to the media and public?

Short answer: never.

National doesn’t do Taking Responsibility very well. But oh boy, don’t they expect it from the rest of us?!

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(* Interestingly, the NBR makes no reference whatsoever to Farrar’s close National Party links.)

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 December 2013.

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Sources

John Key: Statement to Parliament 2011

Treasury: Debt

Trading Economics: Cash surplus/deficit (% of GDP) in New Zealand

TVNZ: Breakfast Show (9 Dec 2013)

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign (13 Dec 2013)

Fairfax:  Two-thirds of voters oppose asset sales (13 Dec 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

National’s disdain for taking responsibility

Taking responsibility, National-style

Hat-tip

Martyn Bradbury: Why I don’t care about Len Brown’s audit (13 Dec 2013)

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Jordan Williams from Taxpayers Union caught out fibbing to the public and media!

25 December 2013 3 comments

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When-I-grow-up-I-want-to-be-a-commentator-like-Jordan
Jordan Williams – lawyer; right wing commentator; anti-MMP activist; National/ACT apparatchik
Acknowledgement of image: frontpage.co.nz, via thepaepae.com

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For those who are not aware of Jordan Williams, he is a lawyer working in Wellington.

He is also a right wing commentator/activist; anti-MMP campaigner; and party apparatchik for National and ACT. He was closely involved in the Brash coup against ACT-leader Rodney Hide in 2011.

Williams is also a known associate of rightwing blogger and National Party worker, David Farrar; rightwing activist/campaigner Simon Lusk; and convicted criminal (and occassional blogger), Cameron Slater.

Peter Aranyi, of thepaepae blog described Williams thusly, in this well-written piece,

Based on his track record (fronting the Peter Shirtcliffe/Simon Lusk anti-MMP campaign and Don Brash’s ACT Party leadership coup) I personally see Jordan as a paid political mouthpiece — nothing more, nothing less. He is, it seems to me, merely another lobbyist who, it appears, works for ‘right wing’ figures or interest groups.”

Source

Recently, Williams set up the so-called “Taxpayers Union”, a group which he  explained on Radio NZ as being based on a UK version. His group’s objectives  include;

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is a non-partisan activist group, dedicated to being the voice for Kiwi taxpayers in the corridors of power. We’re here to fight government waste and make sure New Zealanders get value for money from their tax dollar.”

Source

The rest of the group’s aims & objectives reads pretty much like the Act Party’s manifesto (see: What we stand for) – a party that Williams is closely associated with. (Perhaps this is the next neo-liberal Party in the wings…?)

Just recently, under the banner of the “Taxpayer’s Union”, Williams launched an attack on Hone Harawira’s trip to South Africa to attend Mandela’s funeral.

William wrote,

Reacting to confirmation from Hone Harawira’s office that taxpayers will be footing the bill for the Mana Party leader’s trip to the Mandela service*, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union Jordan Williams said:

“This trip is a slap in the face to taxpayers and particularly Mr Harawira’s electorate, who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of his parliamentary funding.

Mr Harawira already spends more than any other non-ministerial member of Parliament. Earlier in the year the public found out he spent even more than the then Leader of the Opposition.

Source

Interestingly, Williams  made no comment on the fact that Key’s “official” attendance at the funeral included a photographer. Far be it for Dear Leader to attend an event without the obligatory photo-op.

Maybe Mr Williams considers a photographer’s presence more valid than an attendance by someone who was an actual anti-apartheid campaigner – like Hone Harawira?

Williams’ 11 December press release, though, went on to state,

Originally Mr Harawira told the public that he was footing the bill himself. Now we know that he’s treating the taxpayer funded Parliamentary budget as a travel slush fund.”

This is where Williams’ begins to spin a lie.

A casual check of media reports at the time Harawira announced his plan to attend reveals something closer to the truth;

Mr Harawira said his trip is coming out of his parliamentary leadership fund.

TV3, 10 December

A Mana Party spokeswoman confirmed this morning the trip would be paid for out of Harawira’s leader’s budget.

Fairfax, 10 December

Mr Harawira hopes to have his trip paid for out of his parliamentary budget but if he can’t, he will fund it himself.

TV3, 10 December

Nowhere does Hone Harawira promise that he will be “footing the bill himself“.

What he does say is that he wants the trip funded from his own Parliamentary Budget,  but if he can’t, he will fund it himself.

Not exactly an auspicious start for a political lobby group (or nascent political party) that it has to resort to fabrication to push it’s agenda.

But if the so-called “Taxpayers Union” is to be ACT v.2, then it is par-for-course.

Postscript #1

When criticisms were made public regarding the make-up of John Key’s party to South Africa, there were cries of condemnation that not a single anti-apartheid activist had been invited to attend.

Indeed, right wing commentators were quick to point out,

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger says people questioning the make-up of the NZ delegation going to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral should learn from the former South African president.

[…]

Mr Mandela could have been the most bitter man in the world when he came out of prison, but he wasn’t, Mr Bolger said.

“The challenge is whether the world will pick up and try to advance the cause which Mandela pursued the whole of his life – greater fairness and equity within society,” Mr Bolger told Breakfast from Pretoria this morning.

And on “Frankly Speaking“, on 7 December, Roger Gascoigne left this comment,

Whatever strange lens you look at the world through Frank, it’s the ‘office’ of the Prime Minister that will attend. Try a little of Mandela’s concept of forgiving and moving on yourself.
Given 1981 was pretty much a 50/50 split…what would be a grand gesture is if the PM’s office decided to take John Minto to represent the other half of NZ from 81. Then you might think we’ve ALL learned something.”

Source

None of which has stopped Jordan Williams from  blatant fibbing, and five days later,  John Key joined in with this outrageous comment,

This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and shouldn’t be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is we took a delegation – whether he likes it or not – that represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don’t believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa.”

Source

(Were the two public comments related? Considering that Williams is closely connected to the National Party, did Key’s media spin-doctors take their cue from Williams’ 11 December media release?)

Then of course, we had Justice Minister Judith Collin with her infamous Twitter comments, where she ‘tweeted’ that Labour Leader David  Cunliffe and Springbok tour protest leader John Minto were “numpties with bells on“.

Source

So much for understanding and tolerance from the Right.

They should just stick to  bullshitting. They’re far better at it ( it’s in their DNA).

Postscript #2

So Jordan Williams has been caught out lying to the media and public? Does that mean he should resign from the “Taxpayers Union”, as David Farrar recently called for Len Brown’s ‘lying’?

I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland […] But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public.

Source

Lying to the media and public?! Terrible that!

Perhaps Len and Jordan can make it a double-act resignation?

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

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References

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign

Fairfax media:  Collins in Twitter war

The Paepae: Left and Right: useful when doing the hokey cokey, but past its use-by date for politics?

Scoop media: Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Harawira’s Mandela Trip

Fairfax media: Hone Harawira heading to Mandela funeral

TV3: Hone Harawira to travel to Mandela’s funeral

TV1 News: Learn from Mandela, says Bolger over delegation debate

Radio NZ: PM criticises Harawira’s Mandela trip

Previous related blogpost

Letter to the Editor: Should Key attend Mandela’s funeral?

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: The audacity of Key’s Hone Harawira dog whistle

The Daily Blog: We did what John Key should have done

International Embarrassment

Huffington Post: New Zealand’s Leader Questioned Over Apartheid Amnesia

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 23 December 2013

23 December 2013 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 23 December 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 ( 25′ 22″  )

This week:

Looking back on the year that was in politics…

  • Party polls
  • David Shearer
  • Economic growth
  • Smaller political parties
  • Kim Dotcom
  • Asset sales
  • Peter Dunne, Andrea Vance
  • Len Brown
  • GCSB
  • John Banks
  • Corporate welfare, Tiwai Point, film industry, “Muldoonery”, Commerce Commission, Meridian
  • Solid Energy, Auditor General investigation
  • NZ Power
  • Labour, David Cunliffe
  • Year of the Women

en Brow.

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Letter to the editor: Brewer refuses to accept responsibility

23 December 2013 1 comment

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:     "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:      Mon, 23 Dec 2013 10:44:06 +1300
TO:       NZ Herald ,<letters@herald.co.nz>

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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Right wing Auckland Councillor, Cameron Brewer seems to be
squirming, as his own "lapse" in not declaring freebies from
SkyCity and a free trip to Australia, is made public.

Brewer's latest  excuse, that councillors have been "poorly
advised about the rules"; demanding that the code of conduct
rules on declaring gifts and interests is "cleared up"; and
blaming council staff for "not making declarations easily
accessible to ratepayers" - is simply a pathetic attempt at
buck-passing.

Oh, of course, it's someone else' fault.

As per course, Right Wing politicians do not accept
responsibility. Ever. Just ask the Prime Minister, who is
reknowned - now internationally - for his regular bouts of
memory lapses and "brain fades".

-Frank Macskasy
(Address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ: Brewer defends actions over trip

Huffington Post: New Zealand’s Leader Questioned Over Apartheid Amnesia

 

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

2013 – Ongoing jobless tally

23 December 2013 23 comments

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Unemployment logo

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Continued from: 2013 – More redundancies…

So by the numbers, for this year,

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

See also

Reported Job Losses

(Nice to see Interest.Co.Nz following my lead in recording job losses around the country!)

Current unemployment statistics

June 2013 Quarter

June 2013 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed 2,242 +0.4 +0.7
Unemployed 153 +3.7 -5.1
Not in the labour force 1,127 0.0 +2.2
Working-age population 3,523 +0.4 +0.9
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate 63.6 -0.1 -0.2
Unemployment rate 6.4 +0.2 -0.4
Labour force participation rate 68.0 +0.1 -0.4

All figures are seasonally adjusted.  Source: Statistics New Zealand

September 2013 Quarter

September 2013 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed 2,272 +1.2 +2.4
Unemployed 150 -2.6 -13.1
Not in the labour force 1,109 -1.5 +0.5
Working-age population 3,531 +0.2 +1.1
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate 64.4 +0.7 +0.9
Unemployment rate 6.2 -0.2 -1.0
Labour force participation rate 68.6 +0.5 +0.2

All figures are seasonally adjusted.  Source: Statistics New Zealand

 

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The REAL reason for the drop in welfare numbers

22 December 2013 23 comments

There is an underlying reason for this headline,

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Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed - 16.7.2013

Source

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In the above July 2013 article, Social welfare Minister, Paula Bennett proudly asserted,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today there are now 309,782 people on a benefit compared with 320,041 last year.

[…]

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

IBID

Nowhere in the article does it state where those 10,000 welfare beneficiaries ended up.

Was it in paid work?

Did they go back into full-time education or other courses?

Or were they simply dumped from WINZ’s books?  Like the recipient of these letters that were recently provided to me? (We will call him/her “Citizen X” – all identifying details have been redacted to respect his/her privacy and protect him/her from possible reprisals by Bennett, her office, or MSD official. Same for the WINZ officials whose names appear on the letters.)

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (1)WINZ letter dec 2013 (2)

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A few days later, “Citizen X” received this letter. Adding insult to injury, they were demanding that an outstanding amount (an amount between $200 to $300) be repaid;

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (3)

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This was despite that “Citizen X” had had her/his unemployment benefit cancelled – not because s/he had found paid employment (s/he hadn’t) – but because s/he had fallen foul of National’s harsh new welfare laws.

In part, the MSD website states,

On Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months

If you still require Jobseeker Support after 52 weeks you’ll have to re-apply for your benefit. We’ll let you know when you have to re-apply and tell you what you need to do.

When you re-apply, you’ll also need to complete a Comprehensive Work Assessment. This will identify what steps you’ve taken to find work and what help you might need from us to be more successful in getting a job.

Source

In effect, National has placed a one year time limit on all unemployment benefits. They haven’t advertised it as such – they refer to it as “re-applying”.

As Simon Collins reported in the NZ Herald back in January (2013),

The Council of Christian Social Services pointed yesterday to “a growing gap between those who receive a benefit and those in genuine need who are either losing or unable to obtain social welfare assistance”.

Unemployment increased in the two years to last September from 144,500 to 170,000, but those on unemployment benefit dropped by almost a quarter from 65,281 to 50,390.

Sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit have also dropped in the past year. Rules for both benefits were tightened in September 2010, when unemployment beneficiaries had their benefits cancelled if they failed to reapply after a year.

Sole parents were required to look for part-time work when their youngest child turned 6, an age reduced to 5 last October.

Christian Social Services executive officer Trevor McGlinchey said his members were reporting increases in demand for their services as people found benefits harder to get.

[…]

Ironically, the tighter welfare rules may also partly explain the rise in unemployment, as beneficiaries are counted as unemployed only if they are actively looking for work. Employment slipped only slightly from 63.6 per cent to 63.2 per cent of adults in the two years to last September, but the “jobless” rose from 7.1 per cent to 8.4 per cent because those not looking for work fell from 29.3 per cent to a record low of 28.4 per cent.

Source

What this  means is that eventually a significant number of people simply give up re-applying for the minimal amount that the dole pays ($206.21 per week).

Constant, repetitive, incessant demands for information and a less than helpful attitude created by MSD policy create an atmosphere of naked hostility.

The complexity of applying, with the multitude of 73 pages of WINZ  forms and other bits of paper, may also prove to be a dis-incentive for many – especially those for whom English, reading ability, and general low education is a real problem.

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73 pages of WINZ forms

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The massive number of WINZ forms and other documents handed out to applicants has been covered in this previous blogpost; WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers

These are some of the bureacratic barriers which National and MSD have created for the most vulnerable and dispossessed people in our country.

All done to “massage” beneficiary statistics.

As Bennett said, back in July,

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

No doubt, National will use this “success” at the next election and a sizeable portion of the voting population will be sufficiently uninformed and  gullible enough to accept this without question.

It will be up to those who oppose National and it’s virulent brand of right-wing politics to spread the truth; under this party, poverty and inequality will continue to worsen.

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Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Source

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Because even the Prime Minister has had to reluctantly concede the enormity of what we are facing,

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Key admits underclass still growing

Source

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Pushing people off welfare, regardless of whether or not they have jobs to go to, just to massage welfare statistics, is a vile obscenity.

This will not “lift people out of poverty”, as Key has promised.

It is increasing poverty.

How long will it be before this growing poverty, sense of hopelessness, and constant attacks by National and MSD results in the inevitable outbreak of violent civil disturbance? Desperate people tend not to care – especially for the empty promises of well-fed, well-housed, comfortable politicians.

Is this really what New Zealanders want for their country?

The clock is ticking…

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clock.

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

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Sources

NZ Herald: Welfare rules force people to struggle on without benefits

Fairfax media:  Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

References

Work and Income:  Jobseeker Support

Additional

Gordon Campbell: Ten Myths About Welfare -The politics behind the government’s welfare reform process

Previous related blogposts

Class act, National – taking money of widows?!

How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…

OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows

The REAL level of unemployment

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Letter to the Editor: Will Cameron Brewer Resign?

21 December 2013 3 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sat, 21 Dec 2013 10:14:20 +1300
TO:      NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz >

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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Revelations that Cr Cameron Brewer has also failed to
declare his free air travel and free accomodation  on a
junket to Australia (gifted by MediaWorks) raises more
questions,

1. Will he resign as he has been calling for Mayor Len Brown
to step down? Or is this an example of  separate rules?

2. What other gifts has he accepted that he has not
disclosed? Will their be an Inquiry into this matter and
will he pay for it?

3. Why has Cr Dick Quax not completed his 2012 Declaration
of Interests, as all Councillors are required to do so? What
free gifts has he received that he has not disclosed?

That's the thing with witch hunts - they take on a life of
their own, and there's no way of telling where they'll end
up.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

 

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References

Radio NZ: Auckland Mayor Len Brown censured in council meeting

Radio NZ: Mayor’s critic didn’t declare trip

Ernst & Young: Independent Review Commissioned by the Auckland Chief Executive

Previous Related Blogposts

The Daily Blog:  An Open Letter to Len Brown’s Council Critics

The Daily Blog: According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

Counterpoint View

The Daily Blog: Len Old Friend: This Is Why You Must Stand Down

The Dim Post: Thinking my way through the whole Len Brown thing

Additional

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship!

 

 

 

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Has Key just insulted 1,058,638 National voters?

21 December 2013 Leave a comment

As was predicted, Key’s response  to voter turnout to the asset sales referendum has been dismissive and derisory,

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PM playing down voter turnout - 13.12.13

Source

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With “only” 1,297,281 voting papers returned,  Key was obviously unimpressed,

Well the numbers don’t look like they’re that significant. I mean at the moment it’s sitting at around about 40 per cent.

Key added that the number was ” not absolutely amazing, it’s not overwhelmingly opposed“.

Considering that 1,058,638 people voted for National in 2011, does that also mean that Key is dismissive of National’s electoral support in 2011 as “ the numbers don’t look like they’re that significant“; “not absolutely amazing“; and not “overwhelmingly opposed ” to the Labour Party’s anti-asset election campaign?

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electoral result 2011

Source

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Because from where I stand, 238,643 more people participated in the  asset sales referendum  than voted for National, two years ago.

I’m sure 1,058,638 National voters would be unimpressed at the suggestion that they “don’t look like they’re that significant “.

That’s the trouble when a Prime Minister casually describes nearly a quarter of the country’s population as not “significant”. That’s a lot of people to dismiss out of hand.

And a lot of aggrieved voters.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 December 2013.

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References

Wikipedia: 2011 Election results

Fairfax media: PM playing down voter turnout

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Key – will he put his $55m where his oily mouth is?

21 December 2013 1 comment

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John key - deep sea drilling - rena - oil spill

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Some wisdom from our current Prime Minister,

Yes, it is true that Anadarko Petroleum Corporation had a 25 percent ownership of the company or one of the companies that had a problem in the gulf. I think it is also worth remembering that in the Gulf of Mexico since 1947, 50,000 wells have been drilled, and to the best of my knowledge that problem in the gulf was the one major one that most people can remember.” – John Key, 23 October 2012, Parliament

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That statement seemed so factual; so reassuring; so level-headed.

A shame, then, that it was also utter rubbish. Yet again, Dear Leader has made another statement that is simply untrue. Whether through ignorance or more likely willful lying, Key has once again misled the public.

This time his ignorance/lying is on a scale that beggars belief.

Because even as you read this blogpost, an offshore drilling well owned by  US company, Taylor Energy Co,  has been  leaking oil into  the Gulf of Mexico only 18 kms off the southeast Louisiana coast  – and has been doing so  since 2004 (see: Lawsuit proceeds against Taylor Energy over a 9-year Gulf leak).

The number of oil spills in the Gulf is considerably more than just “one” – whether or not people can remember them.  (And since when did a problem or risk simply “go away” because people forgot about them? Is that how National conducts it’s risk analysis – whether the public can remember an incident or not?)

Despite  Key saying that “out of 50,000 wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico, there had been a problem with only one of them”, Radio NZ reported otherwise,

But official US figures show that between 1964 and 2012 there were 259 spills of 50 barrels or more from various Gulf wells. They also show the deeper the wells went, the higher the chance of a spill.

Source: PM wrong on deep sea oil risks – Greens

And in the same Radio NZ report, an industry specialist  Dugald Roberts, who has 30 years of  experience in  US and Middle Eastern oil exploration, described Dear Leader’s  claim as “nonsense”,

“… one in every 20 wells will have containment issues and even that’s a conservative figure.”

On Fox News (hardly a left wing or “greenie” media outlet), a media report stated,

According to government statistics, from 2006-2010, there have been 40 spills in the Gulf of Mexico of 50 barrels or more. No spills that large have occurred this year, but if a spill does occur, industry officials say they’re ready.

Source: Gulf Oil Spill One Year Later: Clean-Up Continues, Oil-Soaked Memories Remain

Key’s reassurances therefore ring hollow – especially as he is misleading the public on the risks.

Interestingly, Environmental Minister, Amy Adams, appears better informed than our former currency-trading Prime Minister,

A study based on Gulf of Mexico oil wells and provided to the minister last year showed that the risks of an incident massively increased at a depth of 1500 metres, which is proposed in the Pegasus Basin off the South Island’s East Coast. It said that there was a 10 per cent chance of an incident within the first year at a depth of 300m – the level of exploration in Taranaki. When the depth was increased to 1500m, the risk rose to 70 per cent.

When challenged on this finding in the House yesterday, Ms Adams said the incidents in the study referred not only to oil blowouts but also lesser problems such as property damage, equipment failure or worker injuries.

She said the risk of a well blowout was closer to 0.25 per cent. This was based on a rate of 2.5 blowouts per 1000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

Source: Advice on oil-drilling risks misleading, says minister

In trying to minimise the risk, Adams has inadvertantly  revealed her own Leader to be ill-informed or a liar.

It would not be the first time that Key has been either badly informed (some might say woefully ignorant) – or wilfully mis-represented the truth (some might say outright lying).

National has engaged in risky policies in the past. The ‘reforms’ and de-regulation of  building industry codes and the dis-establishment of the mines inspectorate – all in the early 1990s – has resulted in over $11.3 billion dollars worth  of leaking and rotting homes, and the Pike River mining disaster.

Every time National de-regulates, it is left to the rest of the country to deal with the consequences; pick up the pieces; and pay the cost of fixing a mess.

This was never more so than with the Pike River disaster and the leaking homes crisis.

As I wrote in November 2012, in response to former ACT MP Heather Roy’s outrageous comments on TVNZ’s Q+A on de-regulation,

“The up-shot of  the […] report (Review of the Department of Labour’s interactions with Pike River Coal Limited) is that instead of actively policing mines and their safety standards, it was all left to individual companies to address. Instead of being “prescriptive” as the DoL laments, individual companies were to adopt a “a performance-based approach” and to “to take ‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety, leaving it to the discretion of the duty holder how they achieve that standard“.

Well, we know how that turned out.

Twentynine men paid dearly for the liberalisation of safety regulations, in one of the most dangerous fields of  work on this planet.

The current state of our mines inspectorate is now so bad that even state-owned coal-mining company, Solid Energy publicly expressed it’s dis-satisfaction and called for the process to be handed over to Queensland for safety oversight…(Solid Energy wants Australia to run mines inspectorate)”

See: Heather Roy – head down the mine shaft?

Well, this blogger has had a royal gutsful of politicians implementing reforms that result in death and damage. Especially when, as Bill Birch did, they walk away and blame others for laws that they themselves passed.

As I wrote in May this year,

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

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

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

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

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

For Birch to say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

See: National’s disdain for taking responsibility

And now Key and his mates want us – the tax-paying public who will eventually have to shell out (again) for any deep sea disaster clean-up – to trust them that they have assessed the risks properly and implemented appropriate safety measures?

Like hell.

Because it wasn’t too long ago that Anadarko’s own corporate affairs manager, Alan Seay,  made a startling admission on Radio NZ.

On 23 October, Seay admitted  it would take two weeks before an oil blow-out and spill could be capped. Listen to Seay answering Kathryn Ryan’s question at 15:45,

Ryan: “How long Alan, to bring in [equipment] and cap any spill?

Seay: “Well, you know, there are so many what-ifs involved in that, but you’ll have seen estimates of up to 14 days, or, yes, two weeks to bring say a capping stack into New Zealand and get that into place. So there’s a great deal of equipment that’s available in specialised locations...”

Listen: Reaction to Greenpeace-commissioned oil spill modelling report

Two weeks.

That is Anadarko’s own admission as to how long it would take to bring in specialised equipment to cap a blow-out.

Because none of that specialised gear exists in New Zealand.

Within that time, two weeks of uninterrupted oil would be gushing into the sea off our coastline, and eventually would end up on our beaches and estuaries.

As happened with the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in 2010.

Or these other instances of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico,

3 June 1979: Gulf of Mexico: exploratory oil well Ixtoc 1 blew out, spilling an estimated 140 million gallons of crude oil into the open sea. Although it is one of the largest known oil spills, it had a low environmental impact.

8 June 1990: off Galveston, Tex.: Mega Borg released 5.1 million gallons of oil some 60 nautical miles south-southeast of Galveston as a result of an explosion and subsequent fire in the pump room.

16 September 2004 (to present):  Oil is continually leaking from the site of a Taylor Energy platform (Platform 23051) that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and the Ocean Saratoga rig is back on site working to plug the leaks.

27 July 2010:  Abandoned oil well  leaks oil into a Louisiana bay about 35 miles south of New Orleans after a barge crashed into the structure.

Source
Source

Anyone thinking they can rely on Maritime NZ should think again. Despite being mandated to take charge of any oil-well disaster – Maritime NZ has no specialised equipment to speak of (see: Anadarko Oil spill equipment grossly inadequate).

Neither Anadarko nor Maritime NZ has anywhere near this kind of equipment, as used in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf blow-out,

Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response effort with additional resources being mobilized as needed.

79 response vessels have been responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts. In addition, six fixed-wing aircraft, 11 helicopters, 10 remotely operated vehicles, and two mobile offshore drilling units have been deployed. Two C-130 aircraft equipped with aerial spray systems were en route Friday afternoon, according to the Defense Department.

More than 217,000 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill; an additional 305,760 feet is available.

Source: Gulf Oil Spill, by the Numbers

This is the risk that Key  is irresponsibly exposing our country to.

Well, this blogger has an answer to this problem (I refuse to refer to it as an “issue”).

It’s called taking personal responsibility.

National is very, very Big on Responsibility.

So, let’s apply it to those making the Big Decisions: John Key and Energy Minister Simon Bridges.

My plan is simple: should a spill or blow-out occur, those Ministers responsible will be held to account and made to contribute to clean-up costs.  Even years later, after they have left (or been thrown out of) Parliament.

That would involve placing a lien over John Key’s amassed $55 million dollar wealth and his properties in Parnell, Huapai, Rodney, Hawaii, and London and Simon Bridges’ home in Matua, Tauranga.

In fact, under the principle of Cabinet Collective Responsibility the assets of every single National and Coalition Minister should be made available to be used to pay for damage and clean-up of the environment and affected people’s loss of earnings and loss of property values.

Let’s start applying National’s notion of taking Personal Responsibility to those individuals who have the power to affect our lives, society, and economy in ways that no other person or organisation has in this country: Ministers of the Crown.

It is time to hold government ministers to account and to make them all directly responsible for their actions and decisions. It’s called “strict liability“.

Let’s see the same accountability from our politicians that they demand from us.

Now let’s see how fast permits are granted for deep sea drilling in our coastal waters.

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NZ is prepared for an oil spill

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

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References

Roberts Oil Company Pty  Ltd

Scoop media: Anadarko Oil spill equipment grossly inadequate

NZ Herald: Advice on oil-drilling risks misleading, says minister

NZ Herald: Anadarko protest: Technical issues delay deep sea drilling

TV3:  Key dismisses Anadarko protesters as ‘rent-a-crowd’

NZ Parliament:  Oil and Gas Exploration—Deep-sea Oil-drilling and Consent Process

Radio NZ: PM wrong on deep sea oil risks – Greens

Fox News: Gulf Oil Spill One Year Later: Clean-Up Continues, Oil-Soaked Memories Remain

CBS News: Gulf Oil Spill, by the Numbers

Huffington Post: Lawsuit proceeds against Taylor Energy over a 9-year Gulf leak

Other research

Congressional Research Service: Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance

Listen to

Radio NZ: Reaction to Greenpeace-commissioned oil spill modelling report

Previous related blogposts

Anadarko: Key playing with fire

The Bad Oil

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Petrobras withdraws – sanity prevails

Mining, Drilling, Arresting, Imprisoning – Simon Bridges

On the smell of an oily rag

A lethal lesson in de-regulation

Health and safety jobcuts? Haven’t we been down this road before?!

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

National’s disdain for taking responsibility

Heather Roy – head down the mine shaft?

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The REAL level of unemployment…

20 December 2013 16 comments

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Job-Hunting-10-Tips-for-When-Your-Unemployment-Checks-Stop

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Current unemployment/employment statistics provided by Statistics NZ through the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) have been called into question with the release of poll data from two other sources.

Current HLFS stats have unemployment falling to its current level of 6.2% – from a height of 7.3% last year,

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Unemployment Rate - 2008 - 2013

Source

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The HLFS stats appear to put a positive, downward ‘spin’ on New Zealand’s unemployment rates. All good news for the current National-led government that is desperate for good news as it faces an election next year – and probable defeat.

However, on 5 December, Roy Morgan released the shock results of an nationwide poll, showing unemployment as well as  under-employment much higher than the Household Labour Force Survey has been reporting,

New Zealand unemployment was 8.5% (down 0.3% since the June Quarter 2013) of the 2,629,000 in the NZ workforce – an estimated 223,000 (down 5,000) were unemployed and looking for work.

A further 8.6% (down 1%) of the workforce* were under-employed – that is working part-time but looking for more work – 227,000 (down 23,000) New Zealanders.

In total 17.1% of the workforce (450,000, down 28,000) New Zealanders were either unemployed or under-employed.

The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 8.5% is now 2.3% above the 6.2% currently quoted by Statistics New Zealand for the September Quarter 2013.

Source

Curiously, this poll result was not reported (as far as this blogger can determine) by any mainstream media.

A subsequent  report – again released by Statistics NZ – revealed  the Census 2013 results on unemployment. The results were once again higher than the HLFS,

  • There were 2,001,006 employed adults (people aged 15 years and over) in 2013. Those who were employed made up 62.3 percent of adults, down from 65.0 percent in 2006.
  • Unemployment increased since 2006, but was slightly lower than in 2001. The unemployment rates for the last three censuses were:
    • 2013 – 7.1 percent
    • 2006 – 5.1 percent
    • 2001 – 7.5 percent.
  • Unemployment was higher for the 15–24 year age group than for the labour force overall. In 2013, the unemployment rate for this age group was 18.4 percent.

Source

The Census survey not only revealed that unemployment is much higher than the HLFS (7.1%, instead of 6.2%), but that youth unemployment was 18.4% – an increase from  the 2006 Census result of 13.3%.

The data table below tells the full story,

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Unemployment Rate - 2013 Census

IBID

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Not only are the 2013 Census result and HLFS at odds with each other , but made a damning indictment on the National-led government prior to 2000. Unemployment in the 2001 Census is shown at 7.5% – a legacy of the Bolger/Shipley administrations of the 1990s.

As a side-note, the Census confirmed the decline of  manufacturing  with 29,472 (13.5%) fewer people currently  employed in this industry than in 2006.

Interestingly, whilst HLFS unemployment for March 2006 is reported by Statistics NZ to be 4%,

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Unemployment Rate - 2006

Source

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– the 2006 Census gave a higher result of 5.1% (see above table). The Census results appear to be consistently higher than the HLFS – and most likely more accurate.

The implications of this are not hard to miss; unemployment (and under-employment) are much worse than we have realised.

Not only is this a drag on our economy (like a ship at sea dragging it’s anchor along the ocean-bottom, and wondering why it can’t pick up speed) – but the social consequences must be enormous.

More than ever, this should serve as a wake-up call to any government with a modicum of common sense that allowing job-creation to be left to the “free market” is fraught with uncertainty at best – and a massive failure at worst.

We have listened to 30 years of promises from successive politicians that the neo-liberal model will provide more jobs; higher pay; and growth.

None of those promises have eventuated and on top of which, as former Assistant Auditor-General Bruce Anderson stated in his report, Public Sector Financial Sustainability”,

Kiwis also feel good about themselves. New Zealand rates highly for tolerance, interpersonal trust and life satisfaction, the report says. That is just as well because the country probably needs that “social capital” to offset the negatives faced by the economy.

[…]

Those include increasing income inequality, with New Zealand one of the least equal in terms of market income in the OECD from one of the most equal 30 years ago. The country also shows disturbing social trends, including high youth suicide, teen fertility and unemployment.”

Source

In the same report, Anderson also referred to private borrowing ballooning to 140% of GDP (thanks to massive borrowing from overseas to finance our penchant for property speculation) whilst at the same time our economic performance was mediocre.

If we are to re-build a fairer society where everyone who wants can find work; good wages for a good day’s work; and an opportunity to own our home, then the economic model we have been pursuing must change.

For clues to the change we so desperately need,  the Christchurch Re-build has offered us one.

Canterbury (along with Auckland) has bucked the trend in terms of  reducing unemployment,

The Household Labour Force Survey, released today, shows employment in the Canterbury region rose by 2100 people, an increase of 0.6 percent.

Unemployment figures for the region decreased by 4000 people or 21.3 percent, most of which came from men who showed a decrease of 3800 unemployed.

Overall the Canterbury unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in the March quarter.  

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate was 6.2% (in reality 7.1%, according to the Census).

The lesson here is simple for all but the most ideologically blind; where there are jobs, people will work.

Where jobs do not exist, unemployment will result.

The so-called “free” market has failed to deliver those jobs – most of which have been exported overseas to low-waged societies.

As David Cull, mayor of Dunedin angrily said in June 2011, when it was announced that Kiwirail would award a contract to purchase rail-wagons from South Korea and China, inside of building them at the Hillside workshops,

This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?”

Source

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catching-up-with-bangladesh

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That decision alone  cost the city of Dunedin over a hundred jobs (at the very least) plus millions in lost wages and down-stream business. The same has been repeated all over New Zealand; lost jobs; lost wages; depressed regions – and a growth in the social welfare cost to taxpayers.

If, after 30 years, the Rogernomics experiment has not delivered the results we were promised – just how long will we have to wait?

Just how long does it take to learn a lesson if we keep repeating the same mistakes, year after year, decade after decade?

Because really, 153,210 people would like an answer.

Meanwhile, as a reminder to us all,

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Budget 2011 - Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

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Are we there yet?

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

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Sources

TV1:  Budget 2011 – Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs (19 May 2011)

TV1 News:  KiwiRail under fire over job cuts (9 June 2011)

NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high (8 Nov 2012)

TV3:  Canterbury employment rate rises (9 May 2013)

NBR: NZ’s first world aspirations based on economy ‘harvesting water’ (6 June 2013)

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter (6 Nov 2013)

Roy Morgan: New Zealand real unemployment down 0.3% to 8.5% and a further 8.6% (down 1%) of workforce are under-employed (5 Dec 2013)

References

2006 Census

2013 Census

Trading Economics:  New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

2013 – Ongoing jobless talley

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Photo of anti-Brown protestors…

19 December 2013 2 comments

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A pic of the protest “crowd” that harassed Len Brown yesterday (18 December),

 

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anti Brown protestors

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Wow. I can count all of… eight people?!

Not quite the 50,000 who protested against National’s plans to mine DoC’s Schedule 4 lands, or the 5,o0o who protested against state asset sales…

Hint to Brown’s political  detractors, if you’re going to mount a witch hunt, it should look something like this,

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village mob

 

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That’s how you do it. (Though you might need resource consent for the torches.)

New Zealand – we do moral panic very well.

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Acknowledgement for photo: The Daily Blog

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How human is Michael Laws?

19 December 2013 6 comments

This is a Cyberman. It is devoid of emotions, compassion, and empathy for others.

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cyberman

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It is a fictional character.

This is a Borg. It also is also devoid of  emotions, compassion; and empathy for others.

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borg

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It also is fictitious.

This is Michael Laws. Ex-Member of Parliament for NZ First. Ex-Mayor of Whanganui. Current member of  Whanganui DHB.

He is a real person (as far as we know).

Is he also devoid of emotions, compassion; and empathy for others?

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laws

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Read this exchange between Laws and a mother on Facebook,  and be the judge yourself.

Conversation started Sunday

Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:17

Hi
I am a mum of a child with Smith Magenis Syndrome and your comments about DS are so ignorant. My son, like many children with DS, are thriving. It is amazing what early intervention can achieve. There are kids with DS getting their driver licences and being accepted into US universities without any quotas. My son is loved by his classmates at 6 years old and their parents often say to me how he enriches the class. Genetic testing should be available but I’m not sure people in your position should promote it. Cost to the health system? Let’s test unborn children for the cancer gene then and abort them too. What is the point of spending so much money on a kid that will just die? How does that feel. Maybe think before you put a knife in other parents heart. Kirsten


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:21

Seriously YOU’RE ignorant.
No-one wants a Downs Syndrome kid – 9 out of 10 women understandably abort if there’s the risk, and good on them.
Zealots like you want decent people to share your experience. Sorry, we don’t want to. Thank God we have the test & that the vast majority of women make the choice.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:23

Wow. I can’t believe you actually wrote that. Yeah I must be seriously ignorant.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:32

PS what do you mean by decent people. Are you suggesting that I am not a decent person as I have a child with a disability


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:32

Please share it – PLEASE.
The rest of NZ does not want to have a Downs syndrome child: that’s why there’s a test. And when we discover there is a heightened risk, we abort. Perfectly correct.
You’re not decent because you want to impose your child’s affliction on others. That’s monstrous.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:34

My child’s afflictions on others? If that is so “monstrous” why didn’t you arrange for his murder when he was diagnosed at 18 months. 1 in 8000 chance that I had an abnormal pregnancy. Not quite as simple as you may think


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:37

Shall I repeat what you said?
“Genetic testing should be available but I’m not sure people in your position should promote it. Cost to the health system?”
You’re a zealot; bye bye.
Most parents don’t want disabled kids. End of story & the Downs test is classic proof.
… and I’m a DHB board member, very proud that our DHB offers local women that test and that option and the opportunity to abort, if they so choose.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:39

I’m a lawyer … so thank you


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:50

then if you really are a lawyer you shouldn’t be lecturing elected DHB members to deny their constituents the right to test their foetuses for Downs syndrome and having the option to abort if it tests positive.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:52

Lecturing? Responding to a public post. Happy to send these messages to the DHB and see what their reaction is.


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:57

You’re a zealot and now bugger off: your threat is pathetic.
And abortions thank God are still available to Wanganui women with Downs positives – fantastic policy. Stops fascists like you imposing your weird moral choices.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 02:29

Will do. You have done yourself a favour


Today
Michael Laws
01:18

Like most people I’d automatically abort a DS foetus. Commonsense.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:30

Didn’t you tell me to Bugger off last night? Why contact me tonight. How are you going with aborting people with ms tosa
“Today ” . . but obviously freud msy have had a point


Michael Laws
01:33

Replying to last msg from you. now off you go.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:44

Oh you think you need to have the last word. Good on you.


Michael Laws
01:47

Fuck off and don’t contact me again.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:49

I didn’t contact you after you told me to “bugger off” and after your incredibly hurtful comments. You decided to contact me this evening and then tell me to “Fuck off”. I’m the insane one?


Michael Laws
01:51

Yep you’re a nutter and you DID contact me – now FUCK OFF: can’t make it plainer.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:54

I contacted you in relation to your public comment which you are happy to share with the world. You have chosen to contact me and once again insult me tonight. What is with you?


Michael Laws
02:00

PISS OFF

Source

It is said that the civilised nature of a society can be judged by how well it values and protects it’s most vulnerable people. I’m not about to start passing comment or judgement on what prospective mothers should do if they are carrying a DS  foetus. That is a matter deeply personal to them.

On an issue as sensitive as this, would it be too much to ask for a human being to show a measure of compassion for others?

I am not demanding that Laws agree with others on this matter. He obviously has his own viewpoint.

But where is his empathy for others who are determined to share their lives and love with their Downs Syndrome children? Where is the compassion? His understanding?

It is troubling that with such trenchant views and a strident manner  in expressing said views, that Laws is a member of the Whanganui DHB. His apparent lack of empathy on this issue would seem to be counter-intuitive to his role within the health system that has as it’s first priority to help people in the most compassionate way possible.

The medical system is not here to make determinations in a manner so callous as Laws’ expresses.

It is a cruel, cold,  world of steel and relentless ‘logic’ that Michael Laws inhabits. One that would suit Cybermen and Borg very nicely.

I doubt most of us would fancy living in it.

Laws’ comments come at a time when attention is also focused on intemperate comments made by National Minister, Judith Collins, on Twitter (see: ‘The Standard‘, Judith Collins: The obnoxious right; ‘The Daily Blog‘, How much more of an arsehole can Judith Collins be while Nelson Mandela is mourned? UPDATE).

What is it about New Zealand politics that seems to bring out the worst in some people?

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

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Other blogs

The Daily Blog:  Will a staff member at the Whanganui District Health Board please make a formal complaint about Michael Laws?

International Socialists Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand: Michael Laws: a sexist, eugenicist toad

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Kamikaze Kiwis and a deathwish on wheels *Update*

18 December 2013 4 comments

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Reduced speed tolerance will apply for December and January

Source

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This is a laudable plan from our Boys and Girls in Blue, and I’ve no problem with it. Holiday periods are generally a bad time on the roads where every manner of bad driving habits are manifested by drivers.

With increased numbers on our roads during the December/January period, such bad driving habits are multiplied, until a “critical mass” of stupidity is reached, or peoples’ luck just runs out.

It’s often not speed per se that is the dangerous driving habit of many drivers. Case in point…

On 23 November, after a three and a half month absence down south, I was returning home. On SH1, somewhere on the open road north of Christchurch and south of Marlborough, I encountered some driving practices that simply took my breath away.

All involved tail-gating on such a dangerous level that, at any moment, I expected a crash.

The first was a light-coloured Pajero, driven by a male and a female passenger, who first tail-gated me. At several points he was so close to me that I could barely see his headlights – they were below the line-of-sight of my vision, hidden by the spoilers of my own vehicle.

It wasn’t as if I was travelling at some silly slow speed on the open road; I was driving at, or just about 100kph.

After several minutes of the driver’s menacing behaviour, I pulled out my cellphone to call *555 and warn police that a madman was loose on our highways.

As I gave Police details of what I was witnessing, the Pajero overtook me; the driver gestured (no, not a friendly wave); and then proceeded to tailgate the next car – a reddish-orange, early model American sedan. After several minutes, the Pajero overtook the American car and sped off into the distance.

A little later in the day, I witnessed not just another instance of tail-gating – but an attempted over-taking manouver that very nearly ended in disaster.

Check out the photo below. Note how close he is to the red car in front of him. Note his position on the road – he is about to attempt an over-taking manouver.

Note the blind bend we are approaching.

And note the on-coming traffic!!

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grey bluebird

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Luckily, the driver of the Bluebird saw the on-coming vehicle as well and quickly swerved back into our own lane. Had he completed pulling out and attempted to over-take, it would have ended up with lethal consequences.

By the way, the same Bluebird had over-taken me a little earlier. As he passed me, I noticed a young child in the back seat.

As someone who often drives on the open road, I sometimes witness mind-boggling instances of tail-gating and dangerous over-taking.

I’ve never witnessed so many hair-raising incidences in one day and on one road.

Today (6 December), I finally emailed Assistant Commissioner on Road Policing, Dave Cliff, on this problem. I asked him if tail-gating was to be treated with the same attention and severity as speeding,

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from:     Frank Macskasy
to:          Dave Cliff <dave.cliff@police.govt.nz>
date:     Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM
subject:     Road safety enforcement

Kia ora Mr Cliff,

I am aware that Police are reducing speed tolerances over the December and  January period, ostensibly to reduce the road toll during the Christmas/New Year holiday months.

Whilst I have no problem with this policy, I am enquiring what steps the Police will take regarding other dangerous driving practices.

Specifically, I am referring to the increasing prevalence of tail-gating.

On 23 November this year, whilst driving north on SH1 between Christchurch and Picton, I encountered several instances of dangerous tail-gating. One driver – rego [redacted], a Pajero – drove so close behind me that his headlights were almost below line-of-sight of the rear of my car.

The driver persisted in his menacing behaviour, forcing me  to phone *555 to lodge a complaint.

After the Pajero driver over-took me, the male driver proceeded to tail-gate an orange, early-model, American car (a Charger, I believe).

Travelling at 100kph on the open road, had I or the driver of the Charger been forced to brake suddenly, the results would have been predictably disastrous.

On the same day, and stretch of road, a grey Bluebird, rego  [redacted], was seen to be tailgating another car in front of me,  and made a hair-raising attempt to over-take as we approached a blind-bend. (See pic attached).

Even on urban motorways such as SH2 and SH1 in the Greater Wellington region, I witness dangerous and increasingly stupid instances of tail-gating.

One of the first things I learnt as a learner-drive in my teens was to keep one car distance per each 10kph driven speed.
Many of these instances I have described would be lucky to have had two (or maybe maximum three) car distances between them.

Will police be focusing on  this dangerous practice? And will you be highlighting this in any upcoming media conference?

I believe this matter deserves as much attention and action as your crack-down on speeding drivers.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

[image above attached]

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It will be interesting to see what reply, if any, Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff makes on this.

In my humble opinion, tail-gating and dangerous over-taking as dangerous – if not more so – than speeding. The potential for disaster increases as such stupid behaviour becomes more and more reckless.

If you encounter such unbridled stupidity on the roads, ring *555, and inform the Police immediatly. You could be saving a life.

*Update*

I received this response four days later,

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from:            HEALEY, Bryan <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
to:                  Frank Macskasy
date:             Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:15 AM
subject:       Road safety Enforcement
mailed-by: police.govt.nz

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Frank…..I am in receipt of your email to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff.

My question to you is, do you want to make a formal complaint against the other drivers or work through the Community Road Watch Programme?

The formal venture is by way of court action, the CRW programme is none formal and brings the matter to the attention of the drivers manner of driving.

Please advise.

 

New Zealand Police Logo

Senior Sergeant Bryan Healey
Manager Customer Services: Police Infringement Bureau | Road Policing Support | New Zealand Police

P   +64 4 3810107 | Ext: 44907   

E   bryan.healey@police.govt.nz
Police Infringement Bureau, PO Box 9147, Wellington, 6141, New Zealand www.police.govt.nz

 

Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

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I responded, thusly,

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from:     Frank Macskasy
to:     “HEALEY, Bryan” <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
date:     Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM
subject:     Re: Road safety Enforcement
mailed-by:     gmail.com
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Kia ora Bryan,

I would be more inclined to pursue the option of the Community Road Watch Programme. It is less punitive and hopefully should serve to remind the drivers that tail-gating (especially as I encountered it) is unacceptable behaviour (and potentially dangerous).

As I wrote originally to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff, the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?

In the meantime, pursuing this matter with the two drivers through the CRW Programme appears to be the best option.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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I realise I could have insisted on a prosecution – but in instances like these, education might be more effective than putting someone through an expensive Court system?

It was interesting to note that Snr Sgt Healey did not reply to my question;

“…the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?

Let’s hope the wheels are slowly turning on this problem at Police HQ.

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*

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Disclaimer: I’m no saint, and have had my share of parking infringement notices and speeding tickets. Especially in my wilder, youthful days.

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Is Key losing the plot over Hone Harawira?!

17 December 2013 2 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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Another letter to the ed, on this issue…

 

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:39:08 +1300
TO:      NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>

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The Editor
NZ HERALD
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John Key must be losing the plot to be making outrageous,
vile comments like this,  condemning Hone Harawira's
decision to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral,

"This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and
shouldn't be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is
we took a delegation - whether he likes it or not - that
represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don't
believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa."

If anyone had a right to attend Mandela's funeral, it was
Hone Harawira - one of the leading figures in the 1981
anti-Tour movement. Not two ex-National ministers who
supported the Tour (Bolger and McKinnon).

Certainly Harawira had more right to attend than John Key.
At least Harawira could remember which side of the Tour he
was on.

Shame on you, Mr Key, for indulging in childish, petty,
political point-scoring, before Mandela was even laid to
rest.

Shame!

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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*

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References

Radio NZ: Key criticises Harawaira for tax-funded trip for Mandela funeral

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor: More arrogance from an increasingly authoritarian PM!

17 December 2013 Leave a comment

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:     "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:      Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:02:11 +1300
TO:     "the listener <letters@listener.co.nz>

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The Editor
The Listener

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What is it with the Prime Minister?

Firstly he casually and arrogantly dismissed the recent
asset sales referendum;

"Well, the numbers don’t look like they’re that
significant. I mean at the moment it’s sitting at around
about 40 per cent.     That’s not absolutely amazing,
it’s not overwhelmingly opposed."

Then he launches into an unprovoked, nasty,  diatribe against Hone
Harawira for attending Mandela's funeral;

"This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and
shouldn't be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is
we took a delegation - whether he likes it or not - that
represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don't
believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa."

Despite the fact that Harawira was one of the leaders in the
1981  anti-tour movement?

Unlike Jim Bolger and Don McKinnon who both supported it.

At least Harawira remembered which side he was on, unlike
our amnesia-afflicted prime minister.

It seems that as we get closer to next year's election, Key
is showing signs of stress and outbursts of anger.

Just as well Key  said he will resign as National's leader
if they lost the election. He is  clearly losing the plot.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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*

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References

Radio NZ: Key criticises Harawaira for tax-funded trip for Mandela funeral

Fairfax media: PM playing down voter turnout

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: Key’s arrogance shines through

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= fs =

Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 16 December 2013

16 December 2013 2 comments

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 16 December 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 ( 22′ 37″  )

This week:

  • Len Brown

Listen to Matthew Hooton’s surprising analysis of Len Brown’s hotel room upgrades.

  • Paula Rebstock and the MFAT Inquiry
  • Asset sales referendum
  • Christine Rankin vs Paula Bennett

en Brow.

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= fs =

A positive indicator for NZ Post…?

16 December 2013 7 comments

Taken in a shopping mall in the Hutt Valley today;

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Image0612

 

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A posting box over-flowing with mail? Could this be a turn-around for NZ Post and a sign of increased business?

As we are all shareholders in the company – let’s hope so!

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= fs =

 

New Email Address

16 December 2013 2 comments

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1

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With revelations that the NSA, GCHQ, and uncle tom cobbly have been spying on  Google, Yahoo, and other internet service providers, this blogger will be phasing out use of free webmail accounts. The servers to email services such as Yahoo, Gmail, et al, are usually American-based, and therefore vulnerable to US spying and intelligence gathering.

Therefore, from now on, my new email address associated with this blog will be as follows,

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email address jpg

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Of course, there is no guarantee that our own spooks at GCSB are not already monitoring local email and ISP providers – but at least they are covered by local legislation, and the servers are local.

So anyone wanting to get in touch with me, that’s the address in the image above.

Cheers!

– Frank Macskasy

– Blog admin

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= fs =

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