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Archive for February, 2014

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 28 February 2014

28 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 28 February 2014  –

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– Brent Edwards –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

It’s election year and political parties have already begun rolling out policies to win the support of voters. But what role will leadership play in the election? National’s John Key is determined to hold on to the Prime Ministership and Labour leader David Cunliffe is equally determined to prise it off him. Our political editor Brent Edwards talks to both leaders.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 28 February 2014 ( 17′ 11″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Letter to the Editor: What is the price of justice? (In dollar terms)

28 February 2014 2 comments

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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the ed
DATE: 	 Fri, 28 Feb 2014 11:52:01 +1300
TO: 	"Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz>
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The Editor  
Dominion Post

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Revelations that Peter Whittal's solicitor, Stuart Grieve,
made a $3.41 million payment to Crown Law in return for
dropping all charges in the Pike River Mine court case are
an incredible, jaw-dropping, new development for our
judicial system.

According to Mr Grieve's remarks on Radio NZ (27 Feb), it
would appear that the Solicitor General was involved in this
backroom deal making.

So for John Key to suggest, 

"My understanding is no, it was an unsolicited letter. They
looked at lots of different factors but in the end they
could have spent millions and millions and millions with the
lawyers and actually got nowhere - or practically make a
payment to the families, which made more sense."

- is a cynical attempt to trivialise a clearly dangerous
precedent that  undermines our justice system.

If justice can now be purchased in New Zealand, when will
John Key's government issue an Order in Council publishing a
tariff chart for payments to drop Court cases, calculated
according to the severity of charges? 

And will there be a bulk discount for multiple charges?

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ:  Pike families convinced deal was done

Previous related blogposts

Purchasing “justice” on the New Zealand open market – did National sell Pike River victims out?

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Latest TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll – Back To The Future IV?

28 February 2014 Leave a comment

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local-news-takes-stupid-poll

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It was a shocker of a poll on Sunday evening (23 February); the TV1-Colmar Brunton poll had National soaring to stratospheric heights. At 51%, the Nats would hold around 62 seats in the House – sufficient to govern alone in a 120 seat Parliament.

The numbers;

National: 51%

Labour: 34%

Greens: 8%

NZ First: 3%

There is no figure given for Undecideds/Refused to Say, which kind of makes the stats a bit dodgy.  The Colmar Brunton website, however, does have a download facility to download the full report;

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colmar brunton Feb 2014 - undecideds

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The “Don’t Know/Refused to say” was a whopping 13%!

That’s a sizeable chunk of voters who could yet decide the election outcome.

But how credible is a polling figure of 51% for any political party?

The answer? Not very.

The highest Party Vote for any political party since the introduction of MMP in 1996, was 47.31%, achieved by National in the 2011 election.

So is 51% a credible indicator for National’s re-election chances?

Again, not very.

In a February 2011 TV1-Colmar Brunton poll, National stood at… 51%. In fact, the 2011 Poll is a remarkable mirror of the current Colmar results;

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National's popularity falls, but no party near it - Colmar Poll - feb 2011

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It’s almost as if Colmar Brunton has simply ‘dusted off’ the 2011 poll results; given Labour an extra one percentage point; and slapped a February 2014 label on it.

It is further worth noting that the actual election night result on Saturday 26 November 2011 was as follows;

National:  47.31%

Labour: 27.48%

Greens: 11.06%

NZ First: 6.59%

No other Party breached the 5% threshold.

At 34% current polling (by Colmar Brunton), this is still 6.52 percentage points above the 2011 election night results. Not a bad starting point to go into an election.

But 51% for National? Not in the realm of possibility. That is the polling they started from in February 2011 – and still they finished at 47.31%.

Let the campaigning continue.

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References

TVNZ:  National’s popularity falls, but no party near it – Colmar Poll

Colmar Brunton: ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll 15-19 February 2014

Colmar Brunton: ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll 15 – 19 February 2014 Report (Pdf)

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

TVNZ: Surge in support for National – poll

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Labour Mana Green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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What do you call…

28 February 2014 2 comments

…  nine National MPs deciding to stand down?

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Answer: A good start.

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What a gutless wanker you are, Paul Henry…!

27 February 2014 7 comments

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paul henry matt mccarten tv3 26 february 2014

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Our household watched the Paul Henry Show on Thursday night (26 February). Henry’s guest was Matt McCarten – freshly appointed as David Cunliffe’s Chief of Staff.

McCarten’s reputation was such that there was intense media interest in the appointment, and quite rightly so. Matt McCarten is a shrewd, experienced, clever political activist, tactician, and (when necessary) butt-kicker.

Henry put questions to Matt McCarten. Matt McCarten answered each and every one very well. Watch the interview here.

What followed the conclusion of the interview absolutely astounded and disgusted us. After Henry had thanked McCarten for appearing on his show, and the link to the  Wellington studio was closed, Henry turned to another camera and read out this statement,

“Matt McCarten who once said “I can’t escape the feeling that he” – meaning David Cunliffe – “has the same phoniness as the Republican  US presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. His every nuance and action seems calculated.” You be the judge. We’ll watch and see him change.”

What a vile, cowardly thing to do; to read out an editorial statement  after closing the interview, and not saying it straight to McCarten’s face. It was a shocking, shabby,  way to treat a guest on his show.

Gutless.

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References

TV3: The Paul Henry Show – 26 Feb 2014?

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Get ya boots on and vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Letter to the Editor: Cunliffe’s plan for jobs – Big Tick!

26 February 2014 1 comment

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:22:52 +1300
TO:      Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>

 

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The editor
Otago Daily Times

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In an interview on Radio NZ on 25 February, David Cunliffe
announced;

“We will create incentives for private employers to be
certified living wage employers, who pay the living wage  to
all their employees, by giving them a preference in  Crown
contracts.”

This simple, common-sense policy will achieve more than
raise wages - something that John  Key's lame-duck
administration has failed spectacularly to accomplish - but
will be a much-needed boost for local business.

We have lost thousands of jobs to overseas countries with
pitifully-low wages. The contracts awarded to Chinese
manufacturers to build rail stock resulted in over a hundred
jobs lost in Dunedin; most of the Hillside rail engineering
plant closing; and an opportunity lost to inject millions
into the Otago economy. 

This country will never overcome high unemployment if we
continually opt for cheaper (and often lower-quality)
products from low-wage economies. Not unless we want to pay
ourselves similar low wages.

Cunliffe's committment to a living wage and a procurement
preference for local businesses  is the kind of proactive
policy which we have long lost, and desperately need again.

"Muddling through" is simply not good enough.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ: Election year interviews – David Cunliffe (27′ 50″ )

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Tiwai Point – An exercise in National’s “prudent fiscal management”?

26 February 2014 Leave a comment

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corporate welfare 1

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Timeline

3 October 2007: Meridian and NZAS/Rio Tinto sign agreement for the continuous supply of 572 megawatts of power to the Tiwai Point smelter for 2013 to 2030.

30 October 2011: National government announces partial asset sales, of Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.

9 August 2012: Meridian Energy (electricity supplier to Rio Tinto) announces that Rio Tinto/Pacific Aluminium is demanding to renegotiate its electricity supply contract between the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter and Meridian.

10 August 2012: Rio Tinto CEO, Tom Albanese, warns that the smelter will be closed “if they cannot be viable, we have difficult decisions to make”.

7 September 2012:  Rio Tinto/New Zealand Aluminium Smelters  announces it will  make 100 workers redundant by November 2012.

7 August 2013: Rio Tinto/New Zealand Aluminium Smelters  announces 30 maintenance workers to be made redundant at the Tiwai Point smelter.

8 August 2013: National government announces agreement to give cash subsidy of  $30 million  to Rio Tinto, and Meridian Energy to supply the smelter with cheaper (price undisclosed) electricity than agreed in 2007.

9 August 2013: Bill English confirms that he has not sought a guarantee from Rio Tinto that jobs will not be lost at the smelter.

20 August 2013: National government announces details to sell 49% of Meridian Energy.

14/15 February 2014: Rio Tinto announces a   $4.43 billion ($US3.7 billion) annual after-tax profit. Rio Tinto shareholders recieve a 15% increase in dividends.

An exercise in National’s “prudent fiscal management”?

We were conned.

There is no other way to describe events between October 2007 and February this year; we were conned by a multi-national mining/metals giant that exploited National’s core-policies, for their own gain.

How else to describe the above events?

Once National announced their intention to partially-privatise Meridian Energy and float it on the New Zealand  (and Australian) stock exchanges – Rio Tinto realised that the price of Meridian shares would be determined by the income they derived from selling electricity.

As Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman stated,

”Rio Tinto took advantage of Mr Key’s obsession with asset sales by threatening to derail the sale of Meridian by closing the Tiwai smelter, so Mr Key gave them $30 million of public money.”

Rio Tinto was Meridian’s biggest customer, supplying  Tiwai Point  with approximately 15% of New Zealand’s total  electricity output. As such, Rio Tinto had Meridian  (and by proxy, the National Government) by the balls. And on 7 September 2012 and 7 August 2013, Rio Tinto squeezed.

By making  130 workers redundant, it sent National, and it’s compliant  leader, a clear message; “Don’t f**k with us, Johnny-boy. These 130 plebes are an example of what we can do to screw you over“.

Had Rio Tinto followed through on it’s threats (and make no mistake – they were threats), it would have brought down the government. That would have ended Key’s career and his reputation would have been in tatters. No Knighthood or beersies for Johnny-boy!

Key had no choice but to capitulate. Key admitted as such when he said on 14 February,

“At the end of the day I think the Government took a modest step to ensure there was a smooth potential transition there – that we didn’t have a glut of electricity we couldn’t use or that thousands and thousands of Southland jobs are out at risk.”

The resulting loss of 700 jobs at the smelter,  and a further 2,500 downstream throughout Southland, would certainly have been embarrassing for Key and damaging to National .  But this is a government that has overseen the sacking of approximately 3,000 state sector workers (up to August 2012) and 29,472 few jobs in the manufacturing sector, since 2006 (2013 Census results), so unemployment per se is not a problem that overly concerns right-wing government ministers.

What really threatened this government was Key’s reference to a “glut of electricity” – note the words. A glut of electricity would have de-railed the entire asset sales programme. Result; end of National; end of asset sales programme (and the neo-liberal agenda on the whole), and the end of Key’s career.

This shabby, self-serving, politically-expedient exercise, has cost us – the tax-payer – $30 million, plus an even cheaper electricity deal than probably anyone else in this country gets. No wonder the contract price is even more uber secret than the goings-on at the GCSB – the public would erupt in fury if they came to know what our electricity was being sold for, whilst the rest of us have mounting power prices, year after year after year.

Meanwhile, the lowest paid workers in New Zealand’s rest homes are paid just barely above the minimum wage;

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Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

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To which our well-heeled Prime Minister responded thusly,

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PM  No money for aged care workers

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To quote Dear Leader,

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.”

Interesting. Key and his Cabinet cronies found $30 million to throw at a multi-national corporation – which only six months later posted a $4.43 billion ($US3.7 billion) annual after-tax profit.

But no money for the lowest paid, hardest-working people (predominantly women) in our community. Key responded to Russell Norman’s criticism of the $30 million welfare handout,

“If Tiwai Point had closed straight away then hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs would have disappeared and the Greens would have said the Government doesn’t care about those workers and is turning their back on them so they really can’t have it both ways.”

If only we could believe Key. But considering that thousands  lost their jobs since the Global Financial Crisis, and National has not bailed out any other company, the Prime Minister’s protestations ring hollow.

In fact, it’s fairly well obvious that the taxpayer-funded payout to Rio Tinto had nothing to do with jobs or the Southland economy – and everything to do with the state assets sales. As David Hargreaves wrote on Interest.co.nz,

“So, it will cost you, I and him and her a combined NZ$30 million of our hard-earned to keep the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter open just long enough so that the Government can flog off 49% of Meridian Energy.

That’s about the size of the deal struck between Meridian and the company controlled by global giant Rio Tinto, with additional sugar coating supplied by the Government, courtesy of us.

From the point the Government first stepped in earlier this year in an attempt to ‘help out’ it was always obvious tax payers were going to be forced to front up with some readies for the pleasure of keeping the always controversial smelter running for a while longer.

I have no doubt that the smelter will be closed in 2017, which is now when the owners get the first chance to pull the plug.”

The most asinine aspect to this deal (and there are many) is that Finance Minister,  Bill English, told Radio New Zealand on 9 August 2013 that “ensuring the safety of those jobs was not part of the deal and no undertakings were sought on the operation of the company”.

No guarantee for preserving jobs?!

Question: So what, precisely, did $30 million buy?

Answer: Rio Tinto not rocking the boat and upsetting National’s asset-sales programme.

This was a most odious, repugnant deal.

Every New Zealander contributed some of their hard-earned cash, which ended up in Rio Tinto’s shareholder’s pockets.

All done to achieve the sale of state assets which we own.

John Key gave away our money; which ended up in shareholder’s pockets; to sell assets we own; to other share investors.

This is the crazy side of National’s economic policy. This is  corporate welfare and crony capitalism rolled into one. Which begs the question to National’s supporters; is this what they see as “prudent fiscal management”?

How “prudent” is it to pay a subsidy to a multi-national corporation, that posted a multi-billion dollar after-tax profit,  that will most likely close the smelter regardless in some near future date (2017?)?

And why was that $30 million not invested in other job creation industries in Southland, so that a multi-national corporation could not hold this country to ransom? After Rio Tinto and Warner Bros – who is next to hold a gun to our collective head demanding a taxpayer subsidy/payout?

This was an odious, repugnant and wasteful deal.

This should not be allowed to be forgotten this election.

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John Key says I'd like to raise wages but I can't

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References

NZ Herald:  Meridian boss hails deal with smelter

Radio NZ: Details of Meridian share offer announced

Radio NZ: National announces plans for asset sale profits

TV3: Rio Tinto seeks new Bluff smelter terms

TV3: Rio Tinto eyeing smelter closures

Australia Mining: Rio Tinto’s New Zealand smelter to axe jobs

Fairfax Media: More jobs to go in smelter revamp

Interest.co.nz: Govt pays NZ$30 mln to smelter owners in a deal that will clear the way for the float of Meridian Energy

Radio NZ: No job guarantees sought in smelter deal

Otago Daily Times: Rio Tinto profit more than $4.4b

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Statistics: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Dominion Post: 555 jobs gone from public sector

Fairfax media: Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

Fairfax media: PM – No money for aged care workers

Interest.co.nz:  Opinion: There was a certain inevitability the long-suffering taxpayer would be ‘invited’ to cough up for the pleasure of keeping the Tiwai Point smelter open

Previous related blogposts

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 4. Rest Home Workers

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

2013 – Ongoing jobless talley

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The Cost of Living

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – David Cunliffe

26 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 25 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

 

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews (27′ 50″ )

A major policy statement by David Cunliffe;

@ 22.00:  “We will create incentives for private employers to be certified living wage employers, who pay the living wage  to all their employees, by giving them a preference in  Crown contracts.”

This will not only support firms that pay their staff properly – but will de facto give preference to local businesses to supply goods and services!

If this doesn’t motivate Small-Medium Enterprises to switch their allegiances from the Nats to Labour, I don’t know what will!

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Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

25 February 2014 7 comments

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TPPA

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Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA

Saturday, March 29, 2014

1:00pm

(For venues, see below)

The New Zealand government is negotiating an international agreement that could have a huge effect on the lives of ordinary kiwis. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and it involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If it goes ahead, we risk damage to our innovative economy, our pristine environment, our health, and the ability to shape our own future.

Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret, what we know about the TPPA comes from leaked documents and detective work. We live in a democracy, which means we have the right to know what is done in our name and to have a say.

Come down, voice your concerns and together we can show the government that this is not acceptable.

Here’s a short video explaining the TPPA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwqMp1ykbW8

Confirmed speakers:

If there isn’t an event in your city yet and you want to help organise, please let us know

Events list around the country:

Auckland: https://www.facebook.com/events/454683364631627/

Wellington: https://www.facebook.com/events/228635500656767/

Christchurch: https://www.facebook.com/events/605044852899708/

Dunedin: https://www.facebook.com/events/221229231399538/

– Update –

“At a press conference yesterday, Malaysia’s Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said: ‘The draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will be released to enable detailed scrutiny and public debate before any final agreement is signed.’ That would be unprecedented for Malaysia.”

Read More:  NZ should follow Malaysia lead in releasing TPPA text

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Letter to the Editor: Why should I believe John Key?

25 February 2014 1 comment

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" <f.macskasy@clear.net.nz>
SUBJECT:  Letters to the editor
DATE:     Tue, 25 Feb 2014 08:33:27 +1300
TO:      "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz> 

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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John Key's promise not to sell any other state assets should
National be re-elected should be treated with suspicion and
caution.

Key's track record in breaking promises and "bending the
truth" is now legendary, whether it be his promise not to
raise GST (which he did) or to strengthen the Emissions
Trading Scheme (which he watered down) or, in 2008, when he
campaigned on implementing food in schools - only to resist
introducing the programme later on.

Plus he has been less than honest in describing the GCSB
Bill as "not fit for purpose" and "vague" - when it was
crystal clear in stating that the Bureau could not spy on
New Zealanders and permanent residents.

Key habitually makes promises or statements of fact which
he breaks with flimsy excuses to justify his actions.

This is not a Prime Minister who can easily be taken at his
word.

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

 

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Tue, 25 Feb 2014 08:18:31 +1300
TO:     "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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John Key's "reassurance" that his government has no further
plans to sell other state assets is simply not credible.

His reputation for "bending the truth" and broken promises
is now widespread. Who can forget his promise not to raise
GST - which he broke with flippant excuses.

Or his assertions that the GCSB Act  was "vague and unclear"
- when in fact it was crystal clear in stating that the
Bureau could not spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent
residents?

Or his reference in October 2011, to a mysterious Standard &
Poors email, claiming that the ratings agency would have
downgraded NZ if Labour had been in office? Standard and
Poors immediatly rejected they made any such statement.

I have no reason to take Mr Key at his word. His reputation
precedes him.

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)


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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Tue, 25 Feb 2014 07:58:42 +1300
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 
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The Editor
Dominion Post

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John Key has announced that his government will not sell any
other state assets should National be re-elected later this
year.

It is hard to believe a Prime Minister who has made so many
promises and statements which have either turned out not to
be true; a distortion of the truth; or outright mistruths.
His broken promises such as not raising GST and raising
wages to parity with Australia have all been broken.

There is an old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me
twice, shame on me".

I prefer not to be fooled a second time.

I simply don't believe him.

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

NZ Herald: PM: no more SOEs to sell after Genesis

Radio NZ: No more asset sales? Cunliffe doesn’t believe it

 

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referendum election

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – John Key

25 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 19 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed John Key – a rare occasion, as Key has always avoided fronting on Radio NZ like it was political kryptonite. It must be election year.

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews (29′ 50″ )

Blogger’s Commentary

Key began by focusing on his government’s track record (Key’s interview statements in bold blue),

“… [Our] track record’s a good one. Government’s often don’t want to necessarily point to what they’ve done over the course  of the time they’ve been in office…

We’re now one of the very few OECD countries that’s back in surplus this year. Unemployment rate’s falling. We’re growing rapidly.

It’s not just the economy, I mean you got a crime rate that’s on a 30 year low…”

Only a minute and 15 seconds into the interview, and Key was already claiming credit for “successes” that his government had very little to do with, or was mis-representing (as is his style);

1. “We’re now one of the very few OECD countries that’s back in surplus this year.”

National may well be back in “surplus” this year. But they still have accumulated a debt of  $61 billion (net). That debt has been  rising at $27 million per day, since John  Key was elected into office in November 2008. Part of that debt was fueled by generous tax cuts, in 2009 and 2010, for the top 10% wealthiest people in this country.

2. “Unemployment rate’s falling.”

A dubious claim for success. Under-employment is rising according to Roy Morgan, as well as the Household Labour Force Survey, and the Jobless rate is still 257,100.

3. “We’re growing rapidly.”

Much of which is due to the Chjristchurch re-build and  global recovery – not because of any proactive policy from National.

4. “I mean you got a crime rate that’s on a 30 year low”

Correct. Literally.  The rate of recorded offences has been steady or  trending downward since 1996 (except for a short ‘spike’ post-2008, when unemployment skyrocketed,

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Even right-wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar on  Kiwiblog,  made a similar analysis.

So can Key really claim credit for a pattern that has either held steady or trended down? In which case, will he also claim credit for those areas where crime has been rising?

“…A lot of good gains in education…”

Really?! One and a half minutes into the interview, and Key is beginning to bullshit the audience already. In fact, New Zealand has dropped down in the OECD PISA rankings, as Sathya Mithra Ashok  wrote last December,

OECD’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey for 2012 has moved New Zealand’s performance downwards in maths, reading and science.

The country continues to score above OECD average in mean PISA scores across mathematics, reading and science (at 500, 512 and 516 respectively), even though the annualised score points have dropped by 2.5 per cent, 1.1 per cent and 2.5 per cent for each of the subject areas.

In the global rankings, New Zealand currently stands 18th in science, and 23rd in maths, a drop from previous 7th and 12th placements. Countries like Singapore, Poland and Germany rank above New Zealand and have positively increased their position since the last survey. Australia, Ireland and Denmark, despite also moving backwards, still outrank New Zealand.

Key continued,

“The second thing is, any incumbent government or any political party that wants to become the government gets elected on what they’re going to do, not always what they have done…”

That’s convenient. And yet, at every opportunity, Key, English, and other National Ministers continue to lie about Labour’s “poor economic track record”…

“And I think the last thing is just to continue to demonstrate that you’re in touch with people…”

Key certainly demonstrated how “in touch with people” he was when he arrogantly dismissed the anti-asset sales petition last year,

“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. But the people who are motivated to vote will be those who are going to vote against.”

Yeah. That’s showing the peasants just who’s in charge – I mean, in touch!

“…It is always a challenge when you’re there in the Beehive and life is a little easier than for people on “struggle street”. It’s easy to get divorced from that.”

Very easy.

For example, giving $30 million to an aluminium smelter  as  a taxpayer handout – whilst denying the lowest paid workers (paid $14.61 an hour) in rest-homes a wage increase because, according to Key, the money isn’t there;

“Travel is one of those areas where we are looking at what we can do,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

However, the Government could not afford to give DHBs the $140 million required to enable rest homes to pay their staff more.

It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.”

Other taxpayer-funded subsidies;

$1 Rugby$200 million to subsidise the Rugby World Cup.

$2 Movies – $67 million paid to Warner Bros to keep “ The Hobbit” in New Zealand and $300 million in subsidies for “ Lord of the Rings

$3 Consultants – After sacking almost 3,000  public sector workers,  National seemed unphased at clocking up a mind-boggling $1 billion paid to “consultants”.

Indeed, one can see how easily a Prime Minister can get divorced from those living on “struggle street”…

Kathryn Ryan then moved the interview on to potential “governing arrangements”. Key offered his assessment that he did not believe that Peters would support National and that “at best he is likely to abstain”.  Key said it was “time to move on” from events six years ago.

Yet, it was only three years ago that Key was quite adamant,

“I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.”

It is unclear what has changed with Key’s ‘principles’ that a man not fit to be one of his ministers only three years ago would suddenly be welcomed  as a potential coalition partner. Does “moving on” entail a 180 degree change in principles? That’s more than “moving on” – that’s a quantum paradigm shift. Not bad for 36 months.

When Key stated that “I am less convinced than others [that] he’ll [Peters] get back…”  to Parliament later this year, it was hard to tell if that was a shrewd guess on his part; wishful thinking; or a “coded instruction” to National  voters not to vote for Peters as a potential coalition partner for the Nats. Key was quite specific,

“…Nearer the time I am actually personally  keener to be a little more transparent. Now in the past we’ve been effectively transparent. I think we’ve been fairly clear about what we wanted voters to do with their electorate vote in Epsom, in Ohariu. Um, we haven’t faced the sort of Conservative issue. But my sense is, you know, we’ll be quite clear.”

Indeed, though Key seemed emphatic that there would be a “zero chance” of Peters entering a formal coalition with National, he did not close off the possibility, with this invitation for the NZ First leader,

We’ll have those discussions with him, but, you know, we’ll wait and see.”

Kathryn Ryan then broached the subject of a co-Prime Ministerial role between Key and Peters. She asked if Key “could rule out” the idea, and Key replied emphatically,

“Yeah, I can rule that out now.”

Key referred to the proposal as “mickey mouse”, and though he has flip-flopped on other issues in the past, he gave sound reasons why he seemed sincerely  dismissive of what he referred to as a “barking idea“.

Key did, however admit that  “a decent slug of the population, probably 80%” of voters supported  National or  Labour(/Greens), that a further 20% were the voting bloc that actually decided the election. As Key said,

“It’s very difficult on polling to date to predict what might happen in nine months time.”

It seems that Dear Leader is not quite so confident of winning the election as some might believe.

Key revealed that he has had no conversations with Conservative Party leader, Colin Craig.

On the issue of MMP reform and eliminating the “coat tailing provision”, Key waffled and then lamely gave his excuse why the Electoral Commission’s reform recommendations were not passed,

“In the end, there was no real concensus.”

Kathryn Ryan immediatly jumped on Key called him on that BS,

“The concensus wasn’t there because National didn’t want it! It was darn close to a concensus apart from  your Party, which is most advantaged by it!”

Key tried to weasel out of it, but he was clearly shown up as self-serving on that issue. He was defensive.

Kathryn Ryan followed up by pressing other recent issues with Key; his willingness to over-look scandals surrounding John Banks and Peter Dunne.

Kathryn Ryan asked why Key had not read the police report surrounding John Banks.

Key attempted to excuse his over-looking of the  report  by referring to the Local Body Act as being “extremely vague”. Though why he would refuse to read a report simply because a law is supposedly “vague” is a bizarre excuse. It simply makes no sense.

After all, Key called the GCSB Act “not fit for purpose”. Does that mean he did not read the Kitteridge Report that flowed from  illegal surveillance by the Bureau – because the GCSB Act was “vague”? That makes no sense.

It was a weak excuse and not one that will wash if he tries to repeat it at up-coming public election meetings. Key will be laughed at if that is the best he can come up with.

The issue of “Working for Families” was raised – and Key made a startling admission as to why it was necessary for this country to have a system that he once referred to as “communism by stealth”.

The admission he made should give all thinking New Zealanders pause for thought.

But you can bet it won’t be picked up by the msm.

Overall, it is little wonder that Key has shied away from Radio NZ. This was a serious interview and one suspects that he gave away more than he had planned.

This was not “The Edge” – but edgy it certainly was.

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References

NZ Treasury: Debt 2013

Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day

Roy Morgan:  New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5% and a further 11.3% (up 2.7%) of workforce are under-employed

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: December 2013 quarter

Statistics NZ: The numbers of justice

Kiwiblog: 2012 Crime stats

Computerworld:  OECD’s PISA survey moves NZ’s performance downwards

Fairfax media: Two-thirds of voters oppose asset sales

Fairfax media: PM: No money for aged care workers

NZ Herald: Blowouts push public Rugby World Cup spending well over $200m

NZ Herald: The Hobbit: should we have paid?

Fairfax media: Hobbit ‘better deal than Lord of the Rings’ – Key

Fairfax media: 555 jobs gone from public sector

NZ Herald: Govt depts clock up $1bn in consultant fees

NZ Herald: PM rules out any NZ First deal

Previous related blogpost

Letter to the Editor: Key responds to the asset referendum voter turnout

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

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Conflict of interest, National-style vs Labour-style

25 February 2014 Leave a comment

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conflict of interest

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Evidently, Shane Taurima’s links with Labour are a “conflict of interest“;

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TVNZ manager resigns after Labour Party revelations

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But it’s not a conflict of interest when journalists work for NationalPrime Ministers, MPs, or even become National Members of Parliament themselves,

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Maggie Barry

Maggie Barry
Radio NZ journalist and host: 1986 – 1992
News presenter, TV2, Prime TV
National Party Member of Parliament: 2011 – present

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richard griffin

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What sort of “conflict on interest” existed when Barry and Griffin were working at Radio NZ, interviewing political figures?

We don’t know.  Because their political affiliations/beliefs were not disclosed at the time.

As Maggie Barry and Richard Griffin – can we be certain that their pro-National prejudices did not unfairly impact on Labour and other left-wing political figures they interviewed?

So how is Shane Taurima any different?

Well, he is on the Left, for starters.

And, he has brown skin…

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References

Wikipedia: Maggie Barry

Radio NZ: Richard Griffin

NZ Herald: TVNZ manager resigns after Labour Party revelations

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 February 2014.

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John Banks and Winston Peters, Apples and Oranges

25 February 2014 3 comments

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543440_3738666104816_56663201_n

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If ever the media – especially journalist wonder why the public view them with disdain and minimal trust – they need only look at their behaviour when it comes to undignified media “scrums” around public figures.

The recent melee in Parliament’s halls, as journos tried to elicit a response from NZ First leader, Winston Peters, regarding his visit to Kim Dotcom’s mansion – was a less than edifying spectacle,

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Video - PM accused of spying on Peters

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Evidently, the Press Gallery were a bit “miffed” at Peters’ curt responses to them and refused point blank to answer their questions. So in response to Peters’ lack of response, NZ Herald reporter,  Audrey Young, wrote a “revenge piece” for her paper,

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Audrey Young - Winston Peters resists excellent questions

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A “revenge piece” being something a journo will put together to present the subject under discussion in a less-than-positive light. That’ll teach him/her/them not to co-operate with the Fourth Estate!

Apparently really, really annoyed, Young  wrote,

“We don’t recall Peters suggesting John Banks’ visits were a private matter.”

This was echoed by “Claire” (Claire Trevett?),

“Do you think John Banks didn’t need to tell us whether he had gone out there or not, or whether his privacy was breached when Dotcom said he had been out there?”

Ok, let’s get one thing straight here; Winston Peters is not being accused of accepting donations from Kim Dotcom, nor attempting to hide said donations in a falsified electoral return.

If indeed that is what “Claire” and Audrey Young are suggesting, then let’s have it out in the open. Make the allegations and ask the questions.

But comparing John Banks’ dodgy “hide-the-cheques” shell-game is in no way comparable to a politician meeting a citizen (or permanent resident, in this case). That is not journalism – that is just downright immaturity on a school-yard level. It is pettiness.

It certainly ain’t journalism.

Disclaimer: I am not a NZ first supporter. Never have been, and most likely, I never will be.

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References

TV1: Winston Peters: Spies watched me meet Dotcom

NZ Herald: Audrey Young: Winston Peters resists excellent questions

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election 2014

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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Coming up on Radio NZ: Party Leader interview with David Cunliffe

24 February 2014 Leave a comment

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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9:05am Tuesday 25 February

David Cunliffe

Labour leader David Cunliffe is in the hot seat in the second of Nine to Noon’s election year, scene-setter interviews. Kathryn Ryan asks Mr Cunliffe what Labour needs to do to gain traction in the polls to prevent National from gaining a third term in office and his policy priorities.

On Nine To Noon, Radio NZ.

 

 

 

 

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 February 2014

24 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 24 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams discuss the recent political polls.

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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 (21′ 58″ )

  • TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll, Roy Morgan poll
  • Election campaigns
  • David Parker
  • Labour Party, NZ Power, “Best Start”, Auckland Rail Loop early start
  • Russell Norman, Kim Dotcom
  • David Cunliffe
  • Shane Taurima, TVNZ
  • Winston Peters
  • Greens, David Hay, Leaders’ Debates
  • ACT, Richard Prebble, Jamie Whyte, flat tax
  • Conservative Party, Colin Craig
  • and an early election in September?

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

24 February 2014 3 comments

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key's credibility takes a hit

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In an on-going series, we will look at the half-truths; mis-representations; omissions; and outright lies, told by Dear Leader John Key.

2. Secret Sources

Background

On 4 October 2011, John Key made this astounding statement in the Debating Chamber,

When Standard & Poor’s were giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what they did say was there was about a 30% chance we would be downgraded – that’s what happens when you’re on negative outlook. They did go on to say though, if there was a change of government, that downgrade would be much more likely.”

The comment was made under Parliamentary privilege.

Five days later, on 10 October, Key “explained” that the comments had come to him in an email, from an un-named “friend”. He duly released the text,

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When Standard and Poors heard Key’s comment, they were none too pleased.  Standard and Poor’s sovereign rating analyst, Kyran Curry, who attended the Auckland meeting that the “email” referred to, replied,

“In Auckland last month, I might have talked about the importance of the Government maintaining a strong fiscal position in the medium term but I would never have touched on individual parties. It is something we just don’t do. We don’t rate political parties. We rate Governments.”

Key fronted to a media conference and was grilled by journalists,

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His body language, tone of voice, and other minute clues all indicate he was being less than honest. I leave it to the reader to reach their own conclusion how honest Dear Leader was.

In my opinion, John Key lied and the email was subsequently fabricated.

Nearly two and a half years later, and Key is embroiled in yet another “secret sources” mess;

On 12 February, Key disclosed that Winston Peters had met with Kim Dotcom, at his mansion in Coatsville, three times. Peters accused Key of using the GCSB/SIS to spy on him, saying,

“What’s his informant, who is he? … This is is a surveillance matter and I want to know more about it.”

Key responded the same day,

“I heard from an individual who’s a person who’s got nothing to do with National Party, nothing to do with any government agency. The person told me it was three. I was pretty sure they’d be right – because they often are – and guess what, they were.”

On the 13th of February, Key stated,

“I can absolutely categorically tell you it’s got nothing to do with an official agency. From time to time people see things and from time to time people tell me.”

Key added,

“Contrary to what [Peters] might want to believe, I can read. A member of the public, for want of a better term rang me up and said what was the case. I assumed it was right. I said it, it turned out to be right. I didn’t think it was that controversial, to be honest.”

So did a member of the public” phone Key and inform him that Peters had visited Kim Dotcom? Or did Key “read” about it somewhere?

When questioned by the media, Slater told the Herald,

“If the Prime Minister says I’m a source, I guess I must have been.”

Which kind of makes Key’s earlier assertion that he “heard from an individual who’s a person who’s got nothing to do with National Party” a complete lie. As we all know, Slater is closely connecxted to the National Party; his father (John Slater) is an ex-President of the National Party; and Slater is probably a paid up member of the National Party.

Unless it is Slater who is lying (which is equally plausible as he has a reputation  for telling lies)? Otherwise, if Slater is telling the truth, then he has landed Key in it.

One of them is lying.

Take your pick.

Conclusions:

Key had not been forthcoming either on the Standard and Poors “email” or on where he got the tip-off that Winston Peters had visited Kim Dotcom.

What is equally disturbing is that Key is willing to use private information to smear a political opponant. Not since Paula Bennet released information on Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston, has a politician willfully invaded another person’s privacy.

Whatever one may think of Winston Peters – and I am no fan of his – Peters deserves his privacy like anyone else.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: Mis-information, (probable) outright lie

 

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References

NZ Parliament: Credit Rating Downgrade—Effect on Economy

TV3: Key accused of lying in Parliament over downgrade

Previous related blogposts

Nick Smith

Politicians never tell fibs

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 21 February 2014

23 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 21 February 2014  –

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– Brent Edwards –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

Disagreement about how to reduce poverty and inequality is looming as one of the big debates of election year.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 21 February 2014 ( 16′ 38″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

23 February 2014 9 comments

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I lied  get over it!

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In an on-going series, we will look at the half-truths; mis-representations; omissions; and outright lies, told by Dear Leader John Key.

1. The GCSB Bill

Background

Last year, upon revelations that the GCSB had illegally spied on 88 New Zealand citizens, Key  legitamised that law-breaking by passing the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill into law.

The official governmdent narrative was that the GCSB law was badly flawed; vague; and confusing.

Either in ignorance, or another of his pathetic lies, John Key maintained this fiction,

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known

[…]

The advice we have recently received from the Solicitor-General is that there are difficulties interpreting the legislation and there is a risk some longstanding practices of providing assistance to other agencies would not be found to be lawful.

[…]

It is absolutely critical the GCSB has a clear legal framework to operate within.”

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

The proposition that the  2003 GCSB Act was “ not fit for purpose and probably never has been” is not supported by reality. In fact, the law was  crystal clear with it’s wording and intent. Section 14 of said Act stated with unambiguous clarity;

14Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Source: legislation.govt.nz – Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

Conclusions:

  1. John Key wilfully mis-led the country, and in this blogger’s opinion, lied about the effectiveness of the law.
  2. The actual purpose of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill was to legalise the GCSB’s illegal spying activities.
  3. Not only did the Amendment head off potential court action, but it legitamised ongoing spying on all New Zealanders, despite the original intentions of the Act  that this would never happen.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: outright lie.

 

 

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References

NZ Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Newstalk ZB: Govt data casts doubt on PM’s job comments

TV3: Key accused of spreading TPPA ‘mistruths’

NZ Herald: Toby Manhire – Chameleon Key delivers a masterstroke

Fairfax media:  Demystifying the GCSB bill: Spies and lies

Previous related blogposts

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history…

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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Cancelled passports and freedom fighters – what is John Key up to?

20 February 2014 Leave a comment

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milking it

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John Key yesterday ( 10 February) admitted that his government had unilaterally cancelled the passports of  “a small group” of New Zealanders, fighting alongside anti-  al-Assad forces in Syria. According to Key, others have had their passports cancelled so as to prevent them reaching Syria.

Key’s actions raise several questions.

Firstly. Cancelling a New Zealander’s passport essentially renders that person stateless; unable to travel; unable to return home; and liable to arrest. Such a move leaves New Zealanders in an untenable  position.

Secondly, it may also be illegal.

Unilaterally cancelling a New Zealander’s pass, without that person being convicted in a Court of Law, deprives that person of the right to travel. A citizen’s right to travel is a basic human right and up to now, only authoritarian governments have controlled such movements.

John Key has effectively lined up with the likes of North Korea and the former Soviet-bloc, in controlling the movements of New Zealanders who have broken no law, and been convicted of no offence.

Thirdly, John Key justifies his actions by stating,

“They obviously don’t put their hand up and say they’re going to be freedom fighters in Syria when they leave. They present a different set of reasons why they might be leaving the country. We have the capacity to cancel a passport if we believe somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible.”

How patronising of our esteemed Prime Minister that he has taken it upon himself to determine whether or not “somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible“.

Considering that – up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – successive New Zealand governments have not hesitated to committing New Zealand troops into war-zones, it it a bit late in the day for a Prime Minister to be worrying about “somebody  going into a war zone  to fight in a way we don’t think is a sensible step for them”. Tell that to the  18,500 troops killed in World War One; 12,000 killed in World War Two; 33 in the Korean War; 37 in Vietnam, and others since then.

Fourthly, the sheer hypocrisy of Key’s actions and comments defy belief. Not once has he, nor his predecessors, commented on those New Zealanders who have join and actively served on foreign armies.

Such as New Zealanders serving in the Australian Army;

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Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

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Note the comment in the above story,

“The NZ Defence Force, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that it employs a similar “lateral recruitment” process to attract soldiers from around the world. A spokesman said it was “fairly standard practice” for international armies to trade staff…”

And New Zealanders serving in the British Army;

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Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

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The above story also refers to other New Zealanders serving in other armies,

“He is the fifth New Zealand-born soldier to die in action in Afghanistan.

Two were serving with Australian forces, one with US, and one with New Zealand troops.”

Plus New Zealanders joining the Israeli Army;

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Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

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Or the curious case of Tony Resnick, who departed New Zealand under a cloud, and ended up in the Israeli Army.

So there is nothing particularly unusual about New Zealanders taking it upon themselves to enlist in the armies of other nations. Quite a few even end up on battlefields where some are killed

Has John Key ever cancelled their passports?

Is Key  also worried about New Zealanders returning from foreign Army involvement?

“From time to time, we need to track the activities of New Zealanders, we need to be sure of their whereabouts and we certainly need to be clear that if they return to New Zealand, whether they pose a threat to other New Zealanders if they have become radicalised.”

Key has also been reluctant to disclose how many New Zealanders have been affected by this potentially illegal decision. He said “a small group“.

Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, has said in a NZ Herald story that he was aware of only two brothers who had been affected – and the cancellation had not been instigated by the GCSB or SIS,

“According to my sources, their parents are the ones who called up and asked for them to be stopped,” he said, accusing Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

Ali Akil also added,

“John Key has suggested very few people have [gone to Syria], and mentioned they have gone there to fight against the Assad regime which is actually something that we should honour them for, not strip them of their rights for,” he told Morning Report.

He questioned why Mr Key would “criminalise” those who decide to fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is known to have used chemical weapons against civilians.

“The New Zealand Government has actually sent our own New Zealand soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan to liberate them from dictators, or so we were told. Isn’t it ridiculous to now criminalise those who choose to do exactly the same thing in Syria?”

It is rather strange for Key to be harassing freedom fighters who are wanting to topple one of the worst dictatorships in the Middle East, as it was only last year that Key condemned the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against it’s own people. In fact, Key was reportedly critical of the UN Security Council not doing enough;

Key, who made a stinging attack on the Security Council in his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, said the resolution did not go as far as New Zealand would have liked in holding the Assad regime to account.

“But it does do the most important job which is set out a programme for how chemical weapons will be collected up in Syria, destruction of those chemical weapons and hopefully a process for ensuring Syrians are kept safe form weapons that should never be deployed from anybody.”

He stated in no uncertain terms;

“This organisation would not also have been a powerless bystander to the Syrian tragedy for over two years if the lack of agreement among the Security Council’s Permanent Members had not shielded the Assad regime.”

Mr Key called for the Security Council to take strong action by passing against Syria for its use of chemical weapons.

“These are war crimes.”

“War crimes”!?!?

New Zealanders want to fight a regime that has committed war crimes – and Key repays their willingness to oppose this evil by stripping them of their pass ports, and in other cases, actively preventing them from leaving the country?!

Especially when, on 30 August last year, Key himself voiced support for the United Nations using force against the Syrian regime,

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PM won't rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

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He quite clearly said,

“We think that’s the right thing to do but we wouldn’t hold our breath that that would receive the unanimous support that would be required.”

Do I detect the rank, rotting odour of hypocrisy (again) from our Prime Minister?

There is more to this issue than some young men wanting to join a fight to rid the world of a despotic dictator and his bloody regime (and this blogger will not shed a tear with the inevitable demise of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his criminal stooges).

Key obviously has a hidden reason for releasing this information, and I doubt very much if it relates one bit to any so-called concerns for the well-being of these young men.

Key has his own agenda:

1.

It is no coincidence that Key’s press conference and dramatic revelations are taking place during  an election year. I remind the reader of a blogpost I wrote on 30 June, last year;

So what does John Key and his National Ministers do? Do they, make the law more explicit that the GCSB “may not authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”?

No.

Instead National has amended the law – in effect  legalising the illegal “88 cases identified as having a question mark over them since 2003” (source) through a new  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

National is also enacting the new amendment  – under Urgency – which will give the GCSB the right to now spy on a person  who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Remember – there is no Cold War. That ended 24 years ago.

But you wouldn’t think so.

Instead, Key now makes references to other “threats” to New Zealand,

  • There are people within our country who have links to offshore terrorist groups.” –  John Key, 15 April 2013
  • …covert attempts to acquire New Zealand’s science and technology for programmes related to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems.” – John Key, 15 April 2013
  • This shows New Zealand’s public and private organisations are facing increasing risks of cyber intrusion which could compromise their operations and could result in the theft of valuable intellectual property.” – John Key, 7 May 2013

When asked to be specific about these claims, Key replied,

I cannot tell New Zealanders everything our intelligence agencies are doing, or what the details of their operations are.” (Source)

And as reported, Key was less than forthcoming about other matters relating to the GCSB’s activities,

He refused to say what the support was that the GCSB provided to the Defence Force, police and SIS.
“I’m not going to go into the details of what they do.”

He also refused to say whether information on New Zealanders was passed on to foreign agencies.

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

But he did admit that not one of those 88 New Zealanders spied on by the GCSB has been prosecuted for any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Not one, as Key admitted,

Police have conducted a thorough check of all their systems. Police advise that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB  .”

It is an old, tried-and-tested, simple plan; spook the public using a variant of a reds-under-the-bed bogey-man “threat”, and watch them run into the ballot booth to tick the ‘National’ box.

It worked in 1981, when Muldoon portrayed the anti-Tour protestors as “commies” and a threat to the “Kiwi way of life”.

2.

Will up-coming Edward Snowden revelations refer to New Zealand, including material that is absolutely damaging to John Key’s government?

And is the so-called threat of New Zealanders being ‘radicalised’  in a Middle East conflict, and returning home to wage an implied “Jihad”, a scare-tactic to justify whatever shonkey or illegal activities that the GCSB/SIS/government has been engaging in?

3.

Is this yet another distraction during election year (see #1 above), with more to come?

Because – and here is the point –  governments very rarely (if ever) disclose what the SIS and GCSB have been up to.

So – what was the motivation of standing up at a media conference, in front of the entire nation, and telling everyone what our security/intelligence agencies have been engaged in?

There is much, much more to this than Key has let on.

And it has bugger all to do with Al Quaeda bogeymen or a bunch of idealistic young men who want a dictator gone.  Remember – this is John Key we’re talking about.

What was it that  Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, said about John Key? He accused…

“… Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

It didn’t take long for this immigrant to our country to suss our Prime Minister, did it?

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References

NZ Herald: Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

The Telegraph:  Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

The Jewish Agency for Israel: Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

NZ Herald: At home with the Mossad men

Radio NZ: Govt cancels passports for would-be fighters

Radio NZ: Prime Minister rejects accusations of racism

NZ Herald: We’ll watch returning fighters, says Key

NZ Herald: Kiwi fighters being misinformed, says Syrian

Fairfax media: Key: Syria deal doesn’t go as far as I’d like

NZ Herald: John Key’s scathing attack on UN failings

NZ Herald: PM won’t rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

NZ Radio: Syria action ‘may be outside law’

Previous related blogposts

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 February 2014.

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Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill…

19 February 2014 7 comments

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Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

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The good news: Tariana Turia’s Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill has passed the first Reading in Parliament and is headed to a Select Committee where the public can make submissions.

Fantastic news!

This is another step in the elimination of this ghastly, toxic product from our society.

The not-so-good news: our spineless Prime Minister wants to put the Bill “on hold”, until a court case between the Australian government and tobacco giant,  Philip Morris, is settled in an Australian court. He said,

“I don’t really see the point in us finally passing the legislation until we see exactly what happens in the Australian court case. We have a slightly different system, but there might just be some learnings and if there are learnings out of that, it would be sensible to potentially incorporate those in either our legislation or avoid some significant costs.”

Aside from the question whether or not “Learnings” is a real word, one hopes that our corporate-cultured, money-trading, deal-broking, multi-millionaire Prime Minister is not getting ‘cold feet’ on this issue.

Too many people are dying for John Key to succumb to pressure from  big tobacco.

The bad news is that only one man voted against this Bill – John “Nothing-to-fear-nothing-to-hide” Banks”.  In explanation, he said,

“No one dislikes smoking more than me”. But he was against the state seizing property rights without compensation.

Banks added.

“It’s an interesting exercise in futility. If the government was serious it would double the price of tobacco over the next five years… all we’re doing is introducing a bill so we feel good.”

So saving peoples’ lives by doing everything possible to slowly eliminate this destructive product … is an “exercise in futility”?

Funny thing…

He was only too happy to front on the steps of Parliament on 30 July 2013, supporting the banning of testing synthetic “highs” on animals;

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https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

“I say no to farming animals in China and India for the purposes of drug testing. I say no to putting animals at the alter of drug dealers and importing for the purpose of recreational drugs…”
…I say to my Parliament colleagues testing fun drugs on animals is obscene.It is obscene in a country that prides itself on animal welfare and animal ethics. Britain banned testing; Britain banned testing of fun drugs on animals in 1997. The EU has banned the testing of cosmetrics of on that beautiful rabbit down there some years ago.
… If we want to be leaders; if we want to be leaders in the safety of fun drugs in this country, if it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it. There are hundreds and hundreds of idiots up and and down the country that will willingly take fun drugs to test their toxicity.
…And I say to my Parliamentary colleagues, don’t test them on animals at all!”

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What a strange, twisted mind that opposes a simple plain packaging on a product that kills 4,300 to 4,600 people per year – whilst demanding at the same time that animals are saved from the horrors of drug-testing.

When did the lives of people become less important than the lives of animals, or the “rights” of multi-national corporations to market   addictive, toxic  products?

It’s a shame John Banks doesn’t care for his fellow human beings as much as he does for bunnies, puppies, and Big Tobacco.

As for John Key – grow a spine, mate.

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References

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smoking

Previous related blogpost

Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 February 2014.

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Letter to the Editor: Simon Bridges is a very naughty little boy!

18 February 2014 2 comments

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letters to the editor
DATE:     Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:54:16 +1300
TO:      "Sunday News" <editor@sunday-news.co.nz>

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The Editor
The Sunday News
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National's Energy Minister, Simon Bridges, continues to rant
that the  Green Party is somehow planning to print  "magic
money" with their recently announced policy to install solar
panels on 30,000 New Zealand homes.

He said,

"I have news for the Greens - if it's a lower interest rate
than normal, it must involve a government subsidy."

Really?

Is this the same kind of subsidy that National gave away to
home owners to install $1 billion worth of insulation in
cold and damp houses?

Or is it the same kind of subsidy that National handed out
to Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, and other private companies? Was
the $30 million of our taxes that John Key kindly gifted to
the Tiwai Aluminium smelter not a subsidy? Or the cheaper
power which National re-negotiated last year?

Ironically, the Green Party is not suggesting subsidies at
all, but allowing access to cheap loans that the government
already has access to. All loans would be paid back by home
owners - not tax payers.

The same cannot be said for the $30 million gifted to Rio
Tinto or the $160 million-plus to Warner Bros for the "Lord
of the Rings" and another $60 million for "The Hobbit". 

We won't be seeing that money back again any time soon.

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

TV3: How The Hobbit came to stay in NZ

Beehive.govt.nz: $100m for investing in warmer, healthier homes

Fairfax media: $1b Budget warmup

TV3: Labour backs Greens’ solar panel policy

Youtube: Solar Homes policy launch

Dominion Post: Greens’ solar pledge would ‘push up prices’ – Key

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The sacking of the national govt

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Letter to the Editor: John Key dazzles them with bullsh*t

18 February 2014 2 comments

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

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor	
DATE: 	 Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:17:26 +1300
TO: 	 "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz> 

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Almost in a knee-jerk reaction, John Key is derisory of the
recently announced Green Party policy to offer low-interest
loans to home owners to install solar panels on their
properties.

Key said,

 "If you look at the big emissions at the moment in New
Zealand, it's Genesis through Huntly where they have coal
fired power plants, and the plan that [the Greens] have got
is going to reduce all competition and in my view, put up
power costs to consumers, not reduce it, actually locks that
in."

How the use of solar energy is going to "reduce competition"
and "put up power costs to consumers" is not only unclear -
but bizarre in the extreme.

Key appears to be floundering to create the flimsiest
possible excuse to dismiss the Green's policy initiative.

That is despite;

(a) solar panels reducing our reliance on hydro-dams, which
in drought conditions can interrupt power supply and push up
prices, 

(b) National having invested - in concert with the Green
Party - $1 billion dollars to insulate thousands of homes
around New Zealand.

The later home insulation plan involved non-recoverable
grants of up to $1,500 per household.  By contrast, the
Green's plan involves loans, not grants.

National seems wedded to giving our money away. This was
evidenced by Key's keenness to giving away $30 million to
Rio Tinto, and over $90 million to Warner Bros for 'The
Hobbit'. Those were our taxes given to private companies and
both  subsequently made billions in profits.

Perhaps Mr Key can answer a simple question; why does he
think the Green Party solar panel initiative will "push up
power prices", but National's home insulation programme
would not?

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

TV3: How The Hobbit came to stay in NZ

Beehive.govt.nz: $100m for investing in warmer, healthier homes

Fairfax media: $1b Budget warmup

TV3: Labour backs Greens’ solar panel policy

Youtube: Solar Homes policy launch

Dominion Post: Greens’ solar pledge would ‘push up prices’ – Key

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National's trickle down policy is a frozen tap

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Letter to the editor: Shane Taurima and Maggie Barry

18 February 2014 4 comments

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Tue, 18 Feb 2014 13:24:12 +1300
TO:     "Dominion Post" letters@dompost.co.nz 

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The Editor
Dominion Post
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The witch-hunt against former TVNZ presenter, Shane Taurima,
can best be described as hypocrisy on a National scale.

It is a bit rich for the likes of National MPs, Tau Henare,
Judith Collins, and Paula Bennett to be crying into their
beersies and alleging bias in Taurima's interviews when
amongst them sits their colleague, former radio presenter,
MP Maggie Barry.

On 5 March 2011 she stood as an unsuccessful  National
Party candidate in the Botany Bay by-election. That was only
three months after leaving her position as radio host at
Radio Live.

For six years prior to that,  Barry worked as a host and
interviewer at Radio NZ, interviewing many left-wing
politicians, political figures, activists, etc.

In 2011, she became a National Party member of Parliament.

There are other examples of journalists, television and
radio hosts, and other media personalities entering politics
- many working for the National Party.

Did anyone complain of undue bias from Maggie Barry or
indeed Richard Griffin - one time Radio NZ political editor,
and subsequent Chief Press Officer and Media Adviser to
Prime Minister and National Party leader, Jim Bolger?

Not a squeak.

The stench of hypocrisy is over-powering.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

 

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References

Dominion Post: Labour links at TVNZ revealed

Wikipedia: Maggie Barry

Radio NZ: Richard Griffin

NZ Herald: TVNZ manager resigns after Labour Party revelations

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elections 2014

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Kiwiblog – still happily fomenting mischief…

18 February 2014 Leave a comment

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kiwiblog and Green Party

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Sometimes, being a mischief-maker can have it’s pit-falls…

Case in point – Kiwiblog administrator, David Farrar, who at the end of January, posted a story on a “leaked” Green Party draft Party List for this year’s election. David wrote,

“I’ve been leaked a copy of the draft an unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.” [sic]

David Farrar  then published the List rankings, complete with promotions and demotions. (Though his blogpost wasn’t entitled “Two Greens MPs facing demotion with Green Party List”. The more sensationalist, oily heading of “Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List” was used instead.)

Only trouble is – none of it was true. Someone was either playing silly-buggers or David Farrar was telling porkies.

My ten cents plus 15% GST is on the former; this was someone playing  David Farrar for their unknown agenda. Why do I believe that the Kiwiblog editor  wasn’t deliberately spreading lies (despite the mis-leading headline to the original blogpost)?

Because David Farrar is no Cameron Slater.

When a right wing blogger publishes a damning piece demolishing another right wing activist’s (Luigi Wewege) reputation for telling outright  lies;

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Kiwiblog - not in a relationship

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– then that speaks well for  his credibility. (That’s not to say David won’t present  a story biased according to his  own experiences, beliefs, and worldview – but then, what right or left wing blogger doesn’t? And yes, that includes me.)

On 10 February, David Farrar published an updated blogpost on this story, stating,

“I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.”

This bit is pretty much on the nail. I recall my own participation in Alliance List Ranking meetings. Various factions would draw up their own lists; discuss them; pass them around; lobby for support… Until the day of Regional List Ranking selection and it came down to delegates voting according to their electorate wishes. Some of the “pre-determined” list rankings were successful – but most were not. (After all, only one person can sit in each ranked slot.)

David Farrar should have known this because the Green Party selection  is even more direct, transparent,  and democratic than the Alliance. Or the new Labour Party voting process for leadership contests.

In fact, the Green Party is probably the most open and democratic of this country’s political parties. At the other end of the spectrum is ACT, where Leaders and candidates are selected by the Party’s Board of Directors. ACT members have zero say in the selection process.

So it was hardly surprising that David Farrar  offered up this explanation,

“A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.”

Indeed.

The Green Party confirmed to me, in writing that “pre-selected lists” do not exist,

"Our party is proud of our committment to our internal democracy. Appropriate
decision-making is one of the pillars our our party's charter. We take this
committment seriously as Co-Convenors and elected representatives of the party.

Recently a blog site, and reports by the mainstream media, claimed to have a copy of
our draft list - the ranked list of MP's that the party devises that informs which
candidates are elected into parliament once the party vote is counted after the
election. The draft list is a fiction - the party list formation has not yet begun.
Our party uses a participatory approach to develop our party list.

[...]

We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on
our internal democracy and the party in general this year. The media, commentators,
bloggers, and other political parties are all interested in our party list. Given
this interest, we can expect some misreporting of our party processes and
list-ranking processes..."

One part of that statement leaps out at me;  “We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year…”

What an odd world we live in when the political Party with the most democratic and transparent candidate selection process is heavily scrutinised (and often criticised) – whilst other Parties – where a culture of transparency and democratic involvement by rank-and-file members is not so well developed – do not suffer the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

In fact, this blogger has not read one single MSM story or commentatory criticising ACT’s closed candidate selection process. It seems almost an accepted feature of our political system that this kind of secretiveness is “the norm” and the Green’s willingness to be open is “unnatural“.

If such be the case, and I have to choose between “the norm” and “unnatural” – I’ll take “unnatural“, any day.

David Farrar concluded by stating,

“I have no reason however to doubt the source [of the leaked “draft Party List] has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs.”

David Farrar may insist that he will not  “print anything I believe to be untrue”.

But he certainly didn’t bother checking the facts first and foremost with the Green Party prior to committing to publication.

If anyone should understand the Green’s almost fetish-like observance for democratic and transparent participation, it should be David Farrar. God knows he’s been around “the beltway” long enough.

Perhaps Mr Farrar  should start questioning “ the source” of the leaked “draft”. Because it looks like he’s been ‘played’ by someone with their own agenda.

Yup, it must be election year…

[Disclosure: this blogger supported the Green Party at the 2011 Election]

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References

Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship! (5 Nov 2013)

Kiwiblog: Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List (31 Jan 2014)

Kiwiblog: More on the Greens list (10 Feb 2014)

Previous related blogpost

2013 – The Year that Was (Scroll down to: Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award)

Act proclaims new leader!?

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 17 February 2014

17 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 17 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (24′ 09″ )

  • Kim Dotcom/Russel Norman
  • Green Party in government
  • GCSB/surveillance
  • David Cunliffe
  • Fairfax/Ipsos Poll
  • Shane Jones/Countdown supermarkets
  • Labour’s “Best Start” Policy/Taxation
  • Passports/Syria/Al Qaida
  • Green Party Home Solar Policy

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