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Call for Aaron Bhatnagar’s resignation from govt body

30 August 2014 5 comments

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nicky hager - dirty politics - real estate agents authority - aaron bhatnagar - judith collins

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One of the many sordid “bit”-players in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“, and one of Cameron Slater’s inner-cabal, is businessman, National Party card-carrying cadre,  and former city councillor, Aaron Bhatnagar;

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aaron bhatnagar

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In 2008, Bhatnagar was caught by journalist, blogger, and IT commentator, Russell Brown,  posting derogatory comments on Wikipedia to smear political opponants;

Auckland City councillor Aaron Bhatnagar has been caught doctoring the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to paint his opponents in a bad light at last year’s local body elections.

Using the alias of Barzini _ a power-hungry psychopath from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather _ Mr Bhatnagar created entries for his Action Hobson opponents in the Hobson ward and made unflattering changes to the entry for Mayor Dick Hubbard.

After winning a council seat and watching Action Hobson councillors Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson go down to a C&R rout in Hobson, Mr Bhatnagar tried to remove the Wikipedia entries for his opponents at 3am the following morning.

Bhatnagar  was also John Banks’ campaign manager in Banks’ unsuccessful 2010 mayoralty bid, and later himself stood National’s candidate selection process for Epsom for the 2011 general election. (He subsequently lost out to John Banks.)

But more than being a paid-up, card-carrying party apparatchik for National, Bhatnagar was part of far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s inner sanctum.

In Nicky Hager’s expose, Bhatnagar’s dirty tricks – a re-hash of his earlier 2008 Wiki exploits – is carefully laid out;

Slater was in regular contact with his blogger friends Cathy Odgers, blog name Cactus Kate, Peter Smith (not his real name) and Aaron Bhatnagar, with whom he often talked over his attack plans...” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 20

Slater got the tip-off for his biggest 2011 attack from his blogger friend Aaron Bhatnagar, a former Auckland city councillor and business investor who had written a guest post as ‘Whale Oil Business Correspondent Winslow Taggart‘, promoting ‘one of New Zealand’s best run’ retirement companies, Ryman Healthcare, in which he was a shareholder. Bhatnagar’s approach to politics is summed up by his own words to Slater: ‘I’m getting bored. I need mischief to keep me busy...’ ” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29

On another occassion he [Bhatnagar] asked Slater to help him find a ‘paparazzi photographer’  to ‘spook’  a lawyer outside his legal chambers.” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29

This time Bhatnagar had been sniffing around the Labour Party’s websites and stumbled across an insecure location containing gigabytes of sensitive party information, including lists of donors and supporters. In the middle of election year, this was embarrassing and potentially very harmful to the Labour Party. Bhatnagar passed the find on to his friend.” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29

The following Facebook conversation between Cameron Slater and Bhatnagar showed the cavalier and unethical attitude both men had to Labour’s computer vulnerability;

Slater: That website info will hit soon. Watch the damage that ensues.

Bhatnagar: “I’ve been meaning to ask you! LOL [laugh out loud], when do you run it?

Slater: been working thru it all… was going to do it this week but Goff is away. Far better to do it when the putz is back

Slater: the most damaging is the 18000 emails, and the Credit card transactions

Bhatnagar: fuck me, I hadn’t been that forensic myself. This will be huge

Slater: got the whole of their email database

Bhatnagar: oh no, LOL…. this is violence writ large

Slater: I think some teaser videos of screenshots and stuff drip fed over a few days , then drop the bomb say wed morning so [Parliament’s Wednesday afternoon] general debate is awesome

… The media are far too lazy to do what i have already done… so prob best to package it into bite size pieces.

Bhatnagar: unreal. I knew there was heaps there, but I hadn’t actually leached it all. Credit card info? That’s insane. Labour will be ruined…

I’m sure Chaos and Mayhem Ltd [Slater and his friends] will find a way to use all this left wing online data

Slater: got First name, Last Name and email, in 3 files, main labour mail list

Bhatnagar: could set back the online left wing  community for three years…. I’ve told no one

Slater: and don’t

Bhatnagar: I wouldn’t wreck what might potentially be your greatest story…. – “Dirty Politics”, pg 30, 31

At no point during that conversation does Bhatnagar even raise a question of ethics regarding Slater’s intentions to public data from the Labour Party computer. On the contrary, he is clearly supportive.

On 12 June 2011, Slater began publishing details from the Labour Party computer. As Nicky Hager related;

The attack began on Sunday 12 June with an article Slater had arrangedin a Sunday newspaper. He simultaneously began publishing a series of posts on his blog with the tag line ‘Labour Leaks’, announcing a long list of ‘rorts’  that would be progressively ‘outed’ on his site over the following days…

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… Early on that Sunday morning Bhartnagar contacted Slater again. Their conversation is very revealing. ‘And so it begins…,’ Bhatnagar wrote. ‘Yep and it is going to hurt,” Slater replied, ‘that document is devastating… this is going to be a feeding frenzy, especially when I publish all the credit card transactions, then the membership lists, then the 18000 emails’. Thinking of the media reaction, Bhatnagar advised Slater to ‘keep your phone charged then – you will need the battery life!’

Slater then set out in writing the motivations  underlying the leaks. It would be, he said, ‘death by a 1000 leaks’.

I have… cross referenced names with letter writers. I will have the definitive list of labour activists.

it will shut down their donors, shut down their IT systems

shut down their membership flow

and shut down their online campaigns

Bhatnager joked back: ‘Join the Labour Party and the Whaleoil email loop at the same time. Not a compelling message for left wing voters.’ “Dirty Politics”, pg 33

As Nicky Hager pointed out, “the aim was not to expose  poor Internet security or some wrong-doing or to prove a political point, but to do as much damage  as possible to the Labour Party“. Clearly, Bhatnagar was revelling in Slater’s damaging attack on the Labour Party;

Later that evening Bhatnagar  got in touch as well, suggesting a celebration lunc: ‘yum char thursday midday”. Slater said he’d be there. Bhatnagar asked, ‘What’s next in the death by 1000 cuts?’ ‘I haven’t decided yet,’ Slater replied. “- “Dirty Politics”, pg 36

In fact, on one occassion, he positively gloated over it, as this exchange showed on 26 November 2011;

“… The anti-MMP campaign failed, but Slater felt empowered by his successes. ‘I feel like this election campaign has been mine, plus my loyal tipline submitters,’ he told Bhatnagar. ‘Well, I am tempted to say that ripping open Labour’s website was a big part of it,’ Bhatnagar replied.“- “Dirty Politics”, pg 75

This is the same man – Aaron Bhatnagar – that Cameron Slater’s friend, and Minister of the Crown – Judith Collins –  had appointed to the government body, the The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) on 26 April last year;

Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced the reappointment of five members of the Real Estate Agents Authority and the appointment of one new member.

Those reappointed to the Authority are:

  • John Auld of New Plymouth
  • Barrie Barnes of Auckland
  • Denise Bovaird of Auckland
  • Joan Harnett-Kindley of Wanaka
  • David Russell of Wellington

The new appointee to the Authority is Aaron Bhatnagar of Auckland. 

The REAA is a watch-dog for Real Estate agents. It’s mission statement is crystal clear;

The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) is the independent government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand.

Our job is to promote a high standard of service and professionalism in the real estate industry and help protect buyers and sellers.

Aaron Bhatnagar does not fulfill any of the Authority’s mission statements;

He is not independent – he is a member of the National Party and a government appointee.

He is an associate/friend of Cameron Slater, who, in turn is a close confidante/friend of Judith Collins.

His past activities over the last six year make him an inapproprite choice to sit on the Board. From his behaviour over the years,;

  • whether posting derogatory information on Wikipedia;
  • illegally accessing another computer;
  • aiding and abetting unauthorised downloading of data from that computer
  • writing a “puff piece” for a blog advocating for a company’s share value (Ryman Healthcare) – whilst not disclosing his conflict of interest as a shareholder

– it is clear that Mr Bhatnagar’s judgement is poor; has questionable ethics; and is the last person who should be serving on the Board of the REAA.

Bhatnagar also appears to have a “conflict of interest” by sitting on the Board. In an interview with TV3’s Brook Sabin, on 18 August, Collins stated  that if Bhatnagar had real estate interests, it would be a conflict of interest;

@ 4.35

Sabin: “What real estate qualifications does he have?”

Collins: “You don’t have to have real estate qualifications to be on the board. [Prompted by aid] In fact exactly the opposite or otherwise he would have a conflict of interest.”

That conflict of interest exists. According to Bhatnagar himself, he is a property investor. He is quite candid about his investments, including “ commercial property through other entities“.

By the Minister’s own words there appears to be a prima facie case for a conflict of interest.

Accordingly, I have written  to  Minister Judith Collins and to the Chairman of the REAA;

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from:       Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:             judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz
cc:            Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
                 rnz@radionz.co.nz,
                 NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
                 TV3 News <News@tv3.co.nz>
date:       Sun, Aug 24, 2014
subject:  Conflict of Interest – Aaron Bhatnagar

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Kia ora Ms Collins,

On 18 August, you stated in an interview with TV3’s Brook Sabin that if Aaron Bhatnagar held interests in property, that would constitute a conflict of interest with his current position on the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) whom you appointed on 26 April last year.

Mr Bhatnagar does indeed seem to have investments in commercial property, and according to your assertions, this is a clear conflict of interest.

There are also other matters that demonstrate that Mr Bhatnagar’s position on the REAA is no longer tenable, and the full story will be presented tomorrow (Monday) on “The Daily Blog”.

I have also written to the Chairperson of the REAA on this matter, seeking that he remove Mr Bhatnagar from the Board.

I also call upon you to remove Mr Bhatnagar from the REAA, as he is clearly not fit to be on the Authority’s Board in any capacity.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

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And;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: John Auld <info@reaa.govt.nz>
cc: judith.collins@parliament.govt.nz
date: Sun, Aug 24, 2014
subject: REAA Board member – Aaron Bhatnagar

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John Auld
Chairperson
The Real Estate Agents Authority

Kia Ora Mr Auld,

I am writing to you in regards to one of your fellow Board Members, Mr Aaron Bhatnagar.

It is my contention that the REAA is not well-served by having Mr Bhatnagar on the Board of the REAA. He has demonstrated a clear lack of sound ethical decision-making and has engaged in behaviour that is both unprofessional and unscrupulous.

In 2008, it was reported that Mr Bhatnagar had been found to be tampering with  the internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, to discredit  his political opponents in the 2007 local body elections.Employing an alias (“Barzini”), Mr Bhatnagar created negative entries for his political opponents in the Hobson ward and made damaging alterations to the Wikipedia entry for then-Mayor Dick Hubbard.

Mr Bhatnagar then tried to remove all evidence of his on-line activities.

Source material: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10531375

Just recently, it has been confirmed that  Mr Bhatnagar was involved in illegally accessing the Labour Party’s computer in 2011 with other persons (Jason Ede and Cameron Slater). The personal information of thousands of people, plus credit card details, was downloaded and used for political purposes as part of an on-going smear campaign.

Source material: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11311371

The  Real Estate Agents Authority’s mission statement reads, in part,

“The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) is the independent government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand.

 
Our job is to promote a high standard of service and professionalism in the real estate industry and help protect buyers and sellers.”

 

Source material: http://www.reaa.govt.nz/AboutUs/Pages/AboutUs.aspx

Mr Bhatnagar has demonstrated poor judgement and engaged in activities that whilst not resulting in criminal prosecution (yet), show a poor character when it comes to ethical decision-making.

Considering that your organisation’s central responsibility is to monitor and discipline for   ethical behaviour, I have arrived at the unalterable conclusion that Mr Bhatnagar’s position on the Board of the Authority is no longer tenable.

 

I ask that his resignation be sought forthwith.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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Bhatnagar  must resign or be sacked forthwith.

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References

NZ Herald:  Councillor uses Wikipedia to discredit rivals

NZ Herald:  Councillor uses Wikipedia to discredit rivals

TV3 News: Bhatnagar – Epsom experience advantage over Banks

Whaleoil:  Incompetent business reporting by the Sunday Star-Times

Real Estate Agents Authority:  Board Members

National Party: Appointment of members of the Real Estate Agents Authority

Real Estate Agents Authority: About Us

TV3 News: Full interview  – Judith Collins on Aaron Bhatnagar

About.Me: Aaron Bhatnagar

Previous related blogposts

Key’s ducking for cover – utterly unbelievable!!!

“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

So who’s a “conspiracy theorist” now?!

Other blogs

Liberation: Winners and losers in the Act Party leadership coup

The Jackal: Who is Aaron Bhatnagar?

Public Address: Postmodern Banks Anxiety

Public Address:  Surely not

Public Address: Meanwhile in Epsom

The Standard: Aaron Bhatnagar – I barely know the guy


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 August 2014

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National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

29 August 2014 5 comments

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20-september

 

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Housing has become a major, defining issue in New Zealand. We have critical shortages and escalating prices in  in the main centres and falling house values in the regions. The National government has addressed the supply & demand problem not by increasing supply – but by attempting to suppress demand. Hence the 20% LVR restriction, which has resulted in a fall in demand.

In other words, instead of building new homes for first home owners – National’s policies have simply raised barriers to chase them away from the housing market.

Which seems to contradict Dear Leader’s famous speech in 2008, when he attacked then-Prime Minister Helen Clark’s government, in January 2008;

Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister.  Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like:

  • Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?

  • Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?

  • Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?

  • Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?

  • Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?

Of course, the first point – interest rates – doesn’t apply in this situation. Key has deftly  escaped over-seeing a massive rise in interest rates by simply making it harder for people to buy a house. (Though prices are still rising – and massively so  in Auckland.

Key and his hopeless government have done nothing to address this country’s housing shortage – they’ve simply tried to stifle demand, in a very Muldoonesque way. Shades of price and wage freeze in 1982!

It seems that National is shortly to  reprise  a variant of a  previous propaganda campaign from it’s 2008 election strategy.  According to Selwyn Manning, who wrote recently in The Daily Blog,

On Monday morning, National will visit the Weymouth housing development in South Auckland. On Monday afternoon, National will visit the Hobsonville housing development north of Auckland. Its message will be to connect housing policy to the economy and squeeze out the opposition parties.

This was National’s housing campaign in 2008,and which four years later came to a messy conclusion. The following was a story I wrote, in  November 2012…

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Desperate measures…

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Desperate to seize power from Labour, and faced with strong, experienced leadership in the form of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, National and it’s fresh,  new leader – John Key – launched a series of public-relations  media/propaganda initiatives. One of those propaganda exercises, a photo-op with a schoolgirl, would come back to haunt  Dear Leader and ridicule one of his major pledges…

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Opening shots…

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The campaign to mark out National’s “human face of neo-liberalism” was launched  on  30 January 2007, when Key made his speech  “The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All” at the Burnside Rugby Clubrooms, Christchurch.

See: The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All

It had all the nice, warm, fuzzy sound-bites; “good Kiwi upbringing“; “betterment of all New Zealanders“, “proud of our culture and society“; “opportunity and hope“; “giving people a fair go”; “egalitarian society“; “The Kiwi Way” (mentioned ten times); “born into a struggling household“, etc, etc, etc…

Whoever wrote that speech really mined the  handbook of the Kiwi Psyche.

But the real opening shots in the political battle for the hearts and minds of New Zealanders began in the opening months of 2007 – two full years leading up to the November 2008 general elections.

Reading many of Key’s speeches and policy announcements,  was almost like tapping into a Scandinavian model of a social democratic society. Michael Joseph Savage would have nodded in approval to many of Key’s utterances.

Especially when, on 3 February 2007, Key announced the launching of National’s “Food in Schools programme“. It was pure 1930s Labour stuff,

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National Party Leader John Key has announced the first initiative in what will be a National Food in Schools programme.

“National is committed to providing practical solutions to the problems which Helen Clark says don’t exist,” says Mr Key.

During his State of the Nation speech on Tuesday, Mr Key indicated National would seek to introduce a food in schools programme at our poorest schools in partnership with the business community.

Mr Key has since received an approach from Auckland-based company Tasti foods.

“I approached Wesley Primary School yesterday, a decile 1 school near McGehan Close, a street that has had more than its fair share of problems in recent times. I am told Wesley Primary, like so many schools in New Zealand, has too many kids turning up hungry.”

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See: National launches its Food in Schools programme

Of course once National came to power twentyone months later, on 8 November 2008,  Key’s  quasi-socialistic policy of  ”  providing practical solutions to the problems which Helen Clark says don’t exist “, quietly slipped beneath the waves and disappeared from public sight.

It had achieved it’s purpose.

In fact, National’s policy stance  on any suggestion of  Food in Schools programmes, is now somewhat more hostile,

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Organisations working with the poor and opposition parties say Prime Minister John Key is in ”la la land” if he thinks fruit is enough to get a hungry child through a school day.

Labour yesterday unveiled a $10 million policy to provide free food to 650 of the country’s lowest decile primary and intermediate schools.

Key immediately rejected the idea, saying free fruit was already provided in the ”vast bulk” of low-decile schools and there was often a breakfast programme.

”Not every school wants every child to be provided a lunch,” he told reporters in Russia before leaving for Japan. ”There are many families that can provide those lunches’.”‘

See: Key in poverty ‘la la land’

And in case anyone missed the point that National was not about to follow the Scandinavian model of  helping  children living in poverty,

Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.

Mr Key made the comment when asked in Parliament yesterday about poverty levels.

When Labour’s social development spokeswoman Annette King asked about Salvation Army reports of high demand for food parcels, Mr Key responded by saying it was true that the global recession meant more people were on benefits.

“But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”

See: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

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Not only has National’s  “Food in Schools programme” vanished, and subsequently replaced with naked antipathy, but this blogger’s emails to the Prime Minister’s office on the issue have gone unanswered.

Too embarressing, no doubt.

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Firing Photo ops missiles…

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On 6 February 2007, National’s tax-payer funded spin-doctors organised this photo-op for Dear Leader,

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Aroha Ireland, John Key, McGehan Close, Waitangi Day

Full story

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Key was attempting to re-play  a much earlier scene on Waitangi Day in 1973, when then-Prime Minister, Norman Kirk walked onto the grounds on Waitangi, with then-ten year old, Moana Priest,

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prime-minister-norman-kirk-and-moana-priest-waitangi-day-1973

Acknowledgement:  Life and career of the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk, Herald Book

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However, it can safely be stated that the  difference between Kirk and Key was/is monumental. It was a  distance between two men that can only be measured in interstellar terms.

Kirk believed deeply  in what he was doing.

Key simply exploited a naive young girl and her family for a photo-op –  which we all now by now is something he cannot pass by.

In the Herald, on 6 November 2007, Aroha and her family expressed delight at attending Waitangi Day celebrations with the leader of the Opposition (as he was then),

Yesterday morning, Mr Key picked Aroha up in a Crown limousine and took her to Waitangi with him, discussing, among other things, her favourite band, Panic at the Disco.

She described the trip – one of the few she’s made outside Auckland and which included her first stay in a hotel – as “exciting”.

She said her family were also rapt with the visit, and felt much more comfortable when they realised National list MP Jackie Blue, who accompanied Mr Key to McGehan Close, would be with her for the trip.

Dr Blue was Aroha’s grandmother’s doctor and also attended to her mother, Joan Nathan, so “Mum said I’d be in good hands”.

The pair spent part of the day with Mr Key but slipped away for lunch at the Copthorne Hotel, where Aroha described the chips as great but said she didn’t think the fish was fresh.

“Dad always says if it doesn’t fall apart it’s not fresh.”

Aroha said she knew little about events at Waitangi on Waitangi Day, but was looking forward to finding out.

See: A day out with friends in high places

It’s somewhat disturbing to note that National list MP Jackie Blue, who had a close personal  relationship with Aroha’s family, played along with the photo-op. That was despite reservations expressed by some,

Labour list MP Dover Samuels was the only one publicly labelling Mr Key’s invitation a stunt yesterday, but others quietly voiced similar concerns.

See: Ibid

The family, though, seemed blissfully unaware that they were little more than pawns in National’s pre-election grand strategy and expressed their comfort with events,

Mrs Nathan told Close Up last night that the invitation had given her daughter a good opportunity.

She continued to disagree with some of Mr Key’s views on McGehan Close, but she believed he was trying to push for positive changes.

See: Ibid

Three months later, on 27 May 2007, Key referred to Aroha Ireland in a speech strangely entitled, “Tough on Crime”. His reference to Aroha was fleeting (as was his brief intervention in her life), barely rating a mention,

For the past six months, I’ve had the privilege of travelling New Zealand from city to town talking to the people who make our country tick. I’ve been to places like McGehan Close and met people like Aroha Ireland, a young girl with big dreams for her future. I’ve milked cows in Horowhenua. I’ve visited primary schools in Canterbury. I’ve met with iwi in Ruatoria. ”

See: John Key’s speech  – Tough on Crime

Cows weren’t the only thing he milked

In the same speech, Key ramped up the aspirational rhetoric,

The first ‘E’ is the economy. National will emphasise this theme because we are committed to delivering New Zealanders the fruits of a wealthier country. Make no mistake – Labour’s policies are seeing us fall further and further behind the rest of the world. The recent Budget did absolutely nothing to alleviate that slide.

Michael Cullen has given up on growing our economy, instead he’s preparing for retirement: Labour’s retirement.

Well, National is a lot more ambitious than that. We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives,as well as a good retirement. That’s why we will pursue economic policies and infrastructure development that will keep New Zealand competitive on the world stage. Make no mistake – Bill English’s first Budget will include tax cuts.

See: Ibid

The rest of Key’s speech was pure knee-jerk, tough-on-crime, BS – so beloved by National’s fearful aging middle classes.

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Shots that re-bound and ricochet

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Three Years later, and Key’s visit to McGehan Close had lost it’s gloss, as the NZ Herald reported on 10 February 2010,

The mother of the 12-year-old girl John Key took to Waitangi three years ago says she has been let down by the Prime Minister, and her daughter now wants nothing to do with him.

Joan Nathan said she and her family were worse off since National won the election.

She’d lost her job with National list MP Jackie Blue, arranged by Key, and a training allowance she received had been cut.

“They gave me the job to sweeten the deal, and then as soon as they got elected I got the sack,” she said.

“I’m pretty anti-Mr Key at the moment”..

[…]

“He’s just made everything worse for us and made it easier for ones that are higher up. I’m struggling every week.”

See: Family still on struggle street after Key leaves

The NZ Herald story went on to state,

A spokesman for Key said he had visited her home last year to try to help resolve the housing issue, and had spoken to her on the phone several times since the election. Key didn’t wish to make any further comment.

See: Ibid

Yeah. I’ll bet he didn’t want to comment.

Why should he? Aroha Ireland had served her purpose for the 2008 general election, and like some Bond Villain, Key was now disposing of his ‘puppets’ – they were no longer useful for his grand Master Plan for World New Zealand Domination.

And  Key’s crony, National MP Jackie Blue’s,  response was even more insightful,

Jackie Blue said Nathan worked 10 hours a week doing administration for Mt Roskill office up until the 2008 election.

She wasn’t re-employed because Blue merged her office with Lotu-Iiga, and didn’t need to rehire staff.

Blue said she had tried to keep in touch, but Nathan’s phone had been disconnected.

See: Ibid

Irony heaped upon grim irony… made redundant from a faux-job created specifically by the Nats as an enticing  “lolly” for Joan Nathan (Aroha’s mother)… phone disconnected as a sign of lowered income and encroaching poverty… Ms Nathan’s loss of employment symptomatic of National’s do-nothing approach to the country’s growing unemployment crisis…

Little wonder that Aroha Ireland no longer wanted to talk about Key’s visit three years ago. One cannot feel any measure of   pride in  being used.

John Key’s photo-op had gone full-circle, and was lining up to tear big chunks from Dear Leader’s arse.

If anything, Aroha’s situation was now a prime example of National’s policies (or lack thereof) – but not as the Nat’s politburo had intended.

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Shot himself in the foot…

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By November of last year, Key’s photo-op with Aroha Ireland had jumped from expressions of disgust, by her family at being exploited, to one of high farce for the Nats – and a measure of  hope for Aroha.

Ms Ireland was joining the flood of New Zealanders escaping over the Berlin Wall Tasman Sea to a Brighter Futurein Australia,

National leader John Key says the teenager he took to Waitangi Day three years ago is not leaving for Australia because life is better there.

Aroha Ireland, 16, became the face of National’s campaign to close the gap with Australia and help struggling families during the last election campaign.

Now it has been reported that Miss Ireland is headed across the Tasman.

See: PM denies teen leaving for good life

Dear Leader sez  “the teenager he took to Waitangi Day three years ago is not leaving for Australia because life is better there ” ?!

Oh yeah, spin it, John Boy, spin it!

Key went on to state (with a straight face, I hope) that  he did not think she was going because of the yawning wage gap, between our two countries,

I’m proud of the Government’s record – in difficult times, we’ve closed that wage gap with Australia. We’ve grown after-tax wages by 10 per cent in the last three years, Australia by six.”

Except… well… Yeah, nah. John Key is now piling the BS on top of his previous outrageous spin. The facts speak otherwise – the wage gap is growing, not reducing, despite what Key and his spinmeisters might want us to believe.

In fact, Key should be fully aware that he was being less than truthful by suggesting that the wages gap was closing. As right wing politician, and  ex-Reserve bank governor, Don Brash stated only two weeks earlier,

In 2008 we estimated the gap was 35% currently it’s nearer 40%.”

See: Aussie wage gap now 40% – Brash

(Unfortunately, Brash’s brief moment of lucidity was short-lived, and he thereafter  descended into right wing nuttery to solve the growing wage gap. In essence, more of the same of the last thirty years. What’s that definition of craziness; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome?)

It was little wonder that Key claimed he had “no idea” why Aroha was escaping to Australia,

Lots of young people decide to go for an OE – I don’t know how long she’ll last. I’m not in a position to go into too much; hope she comes back.

I’m disappointed she’s going for her, because I think New Zealand has got a great future in front of it and I’d like her to be part of it.

See: PM denies teen leaving for good life

Of course Dear Leader knows why Aroha left New Zealand. But to admit it would be a colossal admission of National’s failure to address critical economic and social problems in our country.

Key’s comments are lame by any standards. We simply laugh harder and louder at his moronic utterances.

A year later, all doubt was removed why Aroha Ireland – like thousands of other New Zealanders, before and since, her voting with her feet – had moved to Australia…

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And the photo-op blows up in Key’s face…

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According to a NZ Herald report this year, Aroha’s move to Australia held no great mystery,

… Aroha Ireland has given up on New Zealand, is engaged to be married and earning good money with no plans to return to her homeland.

The 17-year-old bailed for the lucky country last year, disillusioned with her prospects in Auckland.

Miss Ireland, who is engaged to Stuart Spashett also of Auckland, did not return the Herald’s calls.

She has told family members and friends she is embarrassed by the publicity that followed her since her visit to Waitangi in 2008.

Lisa Spashett, who calls herself Aroha’s second mum, said the Government had failed people like her future daughter-in-law.

She said there was nothing for them in New Zealand to look forward to or return to.

See: Key’s poster girl finds life much better in Australia

Ms Spashett went on to say, with drilling, laser-beam, accuracy,

As far as they are concerned, no, they [the National Government] hadn’t done anything for them. I can tell you that straight up and that’s why they are in Australia.”

See: Ibid

From 6 February 2007,

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Aroha Ireland, John Key, McGehan Close, Waitangi Day

Full story

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… to 13 November 2012,

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Full story

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From self-serving exploitation by a cynical multi-millionaire-cum-politician – to an embarressing example of  National’s failure.

And the best thing about this? National has shot itself in it’s own foot, with no help from it’s political opponants whatsoever.

They did it to themselves.

Classic.

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.

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Fast forward to 2014 and a new election and a new propaganda campaign.

If anyone believes that National will be addressing our growing housing shorting, they need only stop, pause, and think: what has Key been doing sincve 2008?

And perhaps they should ask Aroha Ireland. How did things pan out with the Prime Minister?

She’s only a phone call away. In Australia.

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Sources

National Party Speech – The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All (30 Jan 2007)

National Press Release – National launches its Food in Schools programme (4 Feb 2007)

A day out with friends in high places (6 Feb 2007)

Aroha is missing her Key friend (10 Feb 2007)

National Party Speech  – Tough on Crime (27 May 2007)

Family still on struggle street after Key leaves (7 Feb 2010)

Aussie wage gap now 40% – Brash (7 Nov 2011)

PM denies teen leaving for good life (21 Nov 2011)

Key’s poster girl finds life much better in Australia (13 Nov 2012)

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References

Fairfax media:  RBNZ cracks down on mortgage lending

ODT: LVR ‘working well’ as housing market slows

National Party: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

NZ Herald: Auckland’s property values jump 33pc

Te Ara – Encyclopedia of New Zealand: The wage and price freeze, 1982–1984

Previous related blogposts

John Key: When propaganda photo-ops go wrong…


 

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housing endangered

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 August 2014

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A positive story of political co-operation!

28 August 2014 2 comments

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20-september

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Wellington, NZ, 23 August – The following is a true story and shows how the natural inclination of the rank-and-file of our main left-wing parties is to work together…

I’ve been in contact with both the Green Party and Internet-Mana, to offer both parties a spot on my front lawn for election billboards.

The Green Party was the first to respond, and I outlined my idea to them that I wanted a billboard frame to be erected on an angle, so that Internet-Mana would build the second “arm” of a V-shape frame, and attach their own election corflute. The plan;

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election frame construction

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The Green’s billboard team were agreeable to the idea, and a couple of members arrived two days ago to erect their hoarding frame.

Before they started their work, one of the team members – Ian –  knocked on my door to advise that they had a spare hoarding frame. He offered a suggestion – and what followed was perhaps the most remarkable and positive story relating to this election campaign.

One facing was covered with the main Green Party hoarding;

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Green Party

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– with a smaller, detachable corflute (the plastic sign) attached to the other side.

Ian’s suggestion? That the second facing of the V-shape could be used by Internet-Mana, when they arrived, to attach their own corflute sheet. The small “Green Party” corflute could be easily detached and stored away until collection on 19 September.

In effect, two Green Party volunteers with no allegiance to another political party, had decided to extend a helping hand and assist Internet-Mana’s own election campaign by putting up a wooden frame for them. Nothing was asked in return. It was sheer Kiwi good will.

It was an amazing experience and perhaps, sometimes, we forget the good people of this country who want to participate in our democratic process – and not just focus on those politicians who are self-serving and negative. Especially to allies on the Left.

Without naming names, certain other people on the Left might reflect on this story.

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 August 2014

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“Dirty Politics” – the fall-out continues…

28 August 2014 4 comments

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1950_IfanA-BombFalls_cover

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As the shock-wave from Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics” continues to engulf everything in it’s path, it’s worthwhile looking at the damage caused by the ever-expanding fallout…

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 1oom

Farrar wrote on 19 August  (and later told Radio NZ) that  he would be signing up Kiwiblog to the Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA). He would also be introducing moderation onto his comments board;

After the election (ie when I have more time) I am going to consult on a tougher moderation policy for the comments. I want them to be robust and forceful, but focused more on issues than people. I have very limited time to read them myself, so probably will ask for some readers to step forward as moderators. We’ll have that discussion in October.

Now personally, I don’t particularly have any interest in what David Farrar does with his blog. (Though I hope he never walks away from it. Despite disagreeing with him on practically  everything, like Matthew Hooton he still comes across as one of the saner ones on the Right. It would be a shame to lose his point-of-view.)

It’s fairly clear that  Farrar is pretty keen to distance himself from the noisome odour wafting from the National government’s ninth floor on the Beehive and from the even more toxic brand of “Whale oil“.  Joining the OMSA and introducing moderation would go some way to demonstrate that distance and present himself as “above it all”.

The idea for moderation is long over-due anyway. Bloggers cannot allow any wacky-doodle, extremist material to be posted on their websites and divorce themselves from all responsibility.

Interestingly, as of 9.18pm, 21 August, the chairperson of the OMSA, Clare Bradley, has stated she has yet to hear from Farrar.

It will be interesting to see what develops on this matter.

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 2oom

It seems that Key’s ‘black ops’ man, Jason Ede has his phone off-the-hook for his former “partner-in-crime”, Cameron Slater;

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Cameron Slater  Ex-PM staffer is 'gutless' - dirty politics - nicky hager - jason ede

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Slater has been positively ranting at Ede “going to ground”;

“You are all claiming there is this vast conspiracy – it simply doesn’t exist. That Jason Ede is some sort of ringmaster? In my view, Jason Ede is squeamish, and gutless.

And the fact he has gone to ground and hiding and not speaking to anybody suggests that’s true.

My advice is front-foot everything. My advice is speak and tell your story. If you don’t tell your story, everyone else is telling your story with their narrative.”

It seems curious that Slater has taken to the mainstream media to make these pronouncements. Curious indeed… unless Jason Ede is refusing to talk with Slater, the National Party operative being told in no uncertain terms;  talk to no one; open the door to no one; and answer the phone to no one, unless the call emanates directly from the Ninth Floor.

It must be frustrating for Slater to be calling Ede on his landline, cellphone, leaving messages on email, Facebook messaging – and not having the phone picked up.

Last resort – send a message to Ede via the mainstream media.

Clumsy and brutish, but aside from smoke signals, Slater has run out of options.

Has Slater woken up to the fact he is being “hung out to dry” by his former handlers?

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 3oom

Is it just me or is Key handing Judith Collins the fourth or fifth “last chance”?! (I’ve lost count.)

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Judith Collins on her last chance - Key - dirty politics - nicky hager - jason ede - whaleoil - cameron slater

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When asked by the media if Collins had used up all her “last chances”, Key’s response was a delight to listen to;

“What she’s on is on her last chance after what happened last time.”

Say whut, Jethro?! It’s like watching John Cleese in a classic Monty Python skit…

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 4oom

Well, it seems that someone is positioning himself for the inevitable leadership bid;

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English Alleged revenge attack 'not my style' - Key - dirty politics - nicky hager - jason ede - whaleoil - cameron slater

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Once National loses the election and Key resigns, there will be a scramble for power in National (see previous blogpost:   The Rise and Fall of John Key – who will be the next leader of National). It certainly won’t be Judith Collins – her “brand” is now so toxic it makes tobacco smoking and KFC look like a healthy life-style choices.

English’s statements are as clear as spring-water in their intent;

“It’s not a style that I like and I don’t participate in it. I wouldn’t do it, I wasn’t involved in any of it it’s not my style of politics, it’s certainly not John Key’s style.

I certainly wouldn’t condone an attack by a blogger on public servant doing their job.”

I hope Collins is not planning to sing “Stand By Me” to Bill English any time soon. It may not be his favourite song at the moment.

Perhaps more suited to the moment would be this…

(Well played, Bill. Welcome back to being Leader of the Opposition.)

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 5oom

It seems that Key has thrashed the strategy of  “plausible deniability”  to it’s nth degree;

Denying…

13 August

“This is a cynically timed attack book from a well-known left-wing conspiracy theorist. It makes all sorts of unfounded allegations and voters will see it for what it is.”

14 August

“Mr Hager’s making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct.”

“I think this is an over-hyped, under-delivered book from a left-wing conspiracy theorist five weeks before an election” – Justice Minister Judith Collins

See TV3 video here. Note @  2.33:

Journo #1: “The IP Address went back to your office.”

Key: “Nah, I don’t think that’s right. It’s nothing to do with our office.”

Journo #2: “There was an IP Address that went back to your office and to the National Party, National.Org.Nz.”

Key: “Well, look, I don’t have those details. But what I can tell you is, that Mr Slater has made it quite clear, it’s nothing to do with the National Party…”

Would you like some denial with that?

15 August

“He should knock his socks off and release anything he wants because most of the assumptions are now dissolving before his eyes,” says Mr Key.

“The only dirty politics here is from the left,” John Key told ONE News.

Deny…

15 August

“All I know is that Nicky Hager is a left wing conspiracy theorist and makes stuff up,” he said, suggesting reporters talk to Helen Clark about her views on Hager’s Corngate book.

“He really is having a bit of a problem now because most of the assumptions and accusations he’s made are dissolving before his eyes, and I think that’s because he didn’t do what a true journalist would do; he didn’t go and check out the facts, he didn’t get the other side of the story,” Key said.

“He should knock his socks off and release anything he wants and if he continues to do that he’ll continue to demonstrate to New Zealanders that he’s politically motivated with a very Left-wing conspiracy agenda,” Key said.

Deny, deny, deny… and deny some more…

16 August

Ms Collins yesterday confirmed she had given Mr Pleasants’ name to Slater. “What I was asked for was the name and the title of the guy and that’s publicly available and I’ve simply given him that,” she told NewstalkZB

And denying…

17 August

“Prime Minister John Key says he can’t explain why “black ops” spin doctor Jason Ede still has a staff access card to Parliament.”

“I don’t know, you’d have to ask whoever is responsible for that. But it’s not me,” Key said.

“He works for the National party now, that’s all I know.”

Key didn’t know why Ede was at Parliament and he wasn’t visiting his office.

“You’d have to ask him. He hasn’t been in my [physical] office for years… He was originally a press secretary years and years ago. Again Hager’s got it wrong, he’s not two doors down from me. I hardly ever talk to him. Most of the work he did in research and communications was either with backbenchers or other people.”

Key said he doesn’t know what Ede’s role with National was now. 

“At the end of the day, should people pass names, I don’t know… Labour does that too,” Key said.

Labour has called on National to release the name of a staff member who accessed its database.

“I don’t have that information,” Key said.

And denying a bit more…

18 August

“What I do know, is that it is a series of selective pieces of information, many of which can’t be backed up.”

“At the end of the day we’re five weeks out from an election, people can see that Nicky Hager’s made a whole lot of things up in his book, (they) can see he can’t back a lot of them up,” he said.

Mr Key was asked if he was happy to associate himself with Mr Slater. “At the end of the day he’s not my guy, Cameron Slater … anyone who knows Cameron Slater knows that he’s a force unto himself.”

Mr Key said the Official Information Act (OIA) request did not come across his desk and did not sign off on it.

“I knew there were requests, I would have known because generally they say there’s a series of requests into the SIS or the GCSB but they often sign off on, well they always sign off on, things on their own timetable. We’ve got slightly better processes now, so they’ll tell me.”

Denying…

18 August

Asked if he was aware that Mr Ede was running a dirty tricks campaign from his office, Mr Key said: “He’s been briefing bloggers, and of course he briefs people on the right, just as people I’m sure in the Labour leadership, over the years, have briefed people on the left.”

“At the end of the day, he’s not my guy, Cameron Slater … anyone who knows Cameron Slater knows that he’s a force unto himself, and the at the end of the day he gets his information from a whole bunch of things. I’m not here to either defend the guy.”

Asked if he respected Slater’s work, Mr Key told RNZ: “That’s not for me to critique his stuff.”

“They’re based on one perspective and probably a bit out of context and with a whole bunch of assumptions that either aren’t correct or are made up, and now can’t be backed up.”

On RNZ, Mr Key would not say whether it was appropriate for Ms Collins to divulge the name of a public servant, who was thought to have leaked information, to Slater.

“I don’t have the details on that on,” he said.

When pressed, he would not give a yes or no answer, adding: “People can see that this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

Just a wee bit more denying…

19 August

“What she’s on is on her last chance after what happened last time. But at the end of the day she’s also subjected to a left-wing smear campaign. And people will actually see that as well for what it is.”

Denying today…

20 August

Mr Key on Wednesday told reporters the SIS went through the OIA process.

“No information came from me.

“The SIS have said the request came in, [head] Warren Tucker made the decision and handled the release and it confirmed what I had said – Goff had been briefed.”

And denying today…

21 August.

“I can absolutely, categorically tell you that’s not correct. There are a number of factors that would support my view of that.

“One, I know it’s factually not correct. Secondly I’ve checked with the director himself who says it’s not correct. Thirdly the Ombudsman has confirmed that when she put Prime Minister… they meant my office. Fourthly actually I was on holiday in Hawaii over the period of time this was all happening.”

No change – still denying…

22 August

However, speaking after a visit to Mt Roskill Grammar in Auckland today, Key said there was no contradiction between the video and what he has said recently.

“In the context of that video, ‘me’ meant my office,” Key said.

Key would not say who it was who was had been briefed on the SIS’s actions.

There was “no dispute” that someone had been, he said.

Asked if those who were briefed discussed the detail with Jason Ede, the staffer long believed to pass information to Right-wing blogs, Key said: “I don’t have any details on that.”

Weather forecast; cloudy, intermittent showers, and continuing strong denials from the Beehive…

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 6oom

Key says he wasn’t briefed on the SIS disclosing OIA information to Cameron Slater because he “was on holiday in Hawaii over the period of time this was all happening.”

Mate, don’t they have telephones in Hawaii?!

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 7oom

Expect Slater’s sleazy little blogsite to suffer an ongoing, endless,  drought of “tips”.

Judith Collins may be sufficiently vindictive enough to carry on providing leaks, gossip, and personal information to Slater – but most other previous informants will suddenly find reasons to avoid him like the Ebola virus.

The risk of being ‘outed’ in any future hack’n’dump by an irate hacker will be one of Slater’s  on-going nightmares. So really, only a fool would collaborate with a sleaze-merchant like Slater. Who would want to be named in “Dirty Politics, part 2”?!

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 8oom

Is it me or has New Zealand democracy sunk to an all time low when a Prime Minister announces,

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John Key willing to go under oath over Cameron Slater OIA  - Key - dirty politics - nicky hager - jason ede - whaleoil - cameron slater

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The sub-text to Key’s declaration is fairly self-evident; his credibility has taken a serious king-hit and many (if not most) voters suspect that Key is not telling us the whole truth.

Note: my own discussion with apolitical – often non-voters – confirms that there is a strong belief that Key has been sparse with the truth. After one specific video segment on TV3, two people independently and separate of each other said that at one point he (Key) was clearly lying.

Anyway. It’s too late. Lies can be repeated under Oath. It’s called perjury.

At this stage, nothing less than a professionally conducted lie-detector test would re-store his credibility.

The Teflon Man is no more. He has been terminally weakened by his own ‘kryptonite’ – truth.

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John Key's popularity dives by 8.5 points  - Key - dirty politics - nicky hager - jason ede - whaleoil - cameron slater

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Fallout Dispersal Zone: 9oom

As the shock-wave continues to be felt throughout the country, and the import of “Dirty Politics” seeps  inexorably  into the consciousness of apolitical New Zealanders, the consequences were inevitable;

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Greens spring in polls as National takes hit  - Key - dirty politics - nicky hager - jason ede - whaleoil - cameron slater

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If Key and his taxpayer-funded party strategists thought they could “ride out the storm” – they were badly deluded. This is New Zealand’s own “Watergate” Moment – when the reality of National’s hidden dirty tricks operations is laid bare for the public to see. As the Herald-Digipoll reported,

More than half of voters surveyed believe the fallout from Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book will damage Prime Minister John Key – but only 11 per cent believe it would cause a lot of damage.

Today’s Herald-DigiPoll survey began just after the release of that book, and 43 per cent of respondents said it would cause a little damage while a further 11 per cent believed it would cause a lot of damage. About one quarter said it would cause no damage.

(Though how Herald journo,  Claire Trevett, can possibly insist that the “Book fallout [is] not all bad, poll shows” – quite stumps me. She really needs to lay off  the wacky-baccy when she’s writing up this stuff.)

This is politics that New Zealanders cannot abide, whether from the Left or the Right. (And which should serve as a clear warning to the Labour Party not to be tempted to engage in similar tactics: they will eventually be found out.)

Key’s consistent defence has been that “every does it”. He is again being manipulative and deceptive. No, not “everyone” does it.

The Greens certainly do not engage in this kind of Dirty Politics.

And – *Surprise! Surprise!* – the Greens are the party which have benefitted from revelations of National’s dirty tricks ands mis-use of ministerial power.

Expect further poor poll results for the Nats. They are in free-fall.

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 1000m

Judith Collins:

  • political career terminally damaged
  • credibility nil
  • prime ministerial ambition terminated

Fallout Dispersal Zone: 10,000m*

Meet the next Prime Minister of New Zealand,

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david_cunliffe_53d0530ab9

Photo acknowledgement: Otago Daily Times

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* Dispersal Zone estimated to cover the entire country by 20 September.

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References

Radio NZ: Blogger to bring in tougher rules

Kiwiblog: Some changes for Kiwiblog

Radio NZ: Bloggers haven’t joined standards code

NZ Herald: Cameron Slater: Ex-PM staffer is ‘gutless’

NZ Herald:  Judith Collins on her last chance – Key

NZ Herald:  English Alleged revenge attack ‘not my style’

TV3: Nicky Hager book shows National’s ‘dirty politics’

MSN News: John Key trashes Nicky Hager’s book

TV3: Video – John Key talks Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics

TVNZ News: PM challenges Nicky Hager to release emails

Interest.co.nz: Key defiant over Hager book and defends both Ede and Collins

NZ Herald: Bloggers revealed Hager’s address

Fairfax media: Jason Ede still has Beehive access

Radio NZ: No details on Hager allegations – Key

NZ Herald: John Key: Ede ‘briefing the bloggers’

NZ Herald: Judith Collins on her last chance – Key

NZCity: SIS to be investigated over Whale Oil info

NZ Herald: John Key ‘absolutely’ denies briefing

Fairfax media:  Key’s ‘position correct’ on SIS briefing

TV3 News: John Key willing to go under oath over Cameron Slater OIA

NZ Herald: Greens spring in polls as National takes hit

NZ Herald: Book fallout not all bad, poll shows

Previous related blogposts

The Rise and Fall of John Key – who will be the next leader of National


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 August 2014

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Letter to the Editor – a message to Cantabrians

27 August 2014 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:         “The Press” <letters@press.co.nz>
date:      Wed, Aug 27, 2014
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
“The Press”
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It must be galling for Cantabrians, and specifically the long-suffering people of Christchurch, that despite skyrocketing rents; critical housing shorting; and insurance payout delays – that the priority of John  Key’s government is – tax cuts.
It shows the depths of desperation faced by National that they risk losing the election and  would rather spray money around for yet more unaffordable tax cuts – rather than address the critical problems faced by Christchurch.
It shows their number one priority is not re-building a shattered city after three years – but attempting to bribe voters.

Cantabrians may do well to reflect on that when they head to the ballot booths on 20 September.
-Frank Macskasy

 

[address & phone number supplied]

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the Editor – fiscal irresponsibility by National

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:          “The Wellingtonian” <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>
date:      Wed, Aug 27, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
“The Wellingtonian”
At a time when the Capital Coast DHB is so strapped for cash that it is cutting back on services for the mentally unwell (see: Fears for mentally ill forced to streets), our esteemed Prime Minister – or the “Prime Minister’s office – there is evidently a distinction – is once again attempting to bribe New Zealanders with tax cuts.
Never mind that, collectively, as a nation, we have a $69 billion dollar debt that accrues millions in interest payment, and must be paid back.

Never mind that we have 250,000-plus children living in poverty as the jobless and working poor cannot afford the high cost of living.
Never mind that people in Christchurch  face a housing shortage and massive rent hikes. Evidently, according to earthquake-minister Gerry Brownlee, the free market will sort that out.

It beggars belief that we have a major political party so irresponsible with finances that it is willing to spray money around to win votes, rather than address our multi-billion dollar debt and critical social problems confronting our nation.
They do not deserve to be re-elected government.

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Fairfax media: Fears for mentally ill forced to streets

Fairfax media: Christchurch rent crisis ‘best left to market’

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Election TV campaign ads – Opening Night

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20-september

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NZ, 23 August –  The election campaign “kicked off” on Saturday evening, with a one hour “televisual feast”. Party advertisements were broadcast for National, Labour, Greens, NZ First, United Future/Peter Dunne, Focus Party, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, the Internet Party, Conservative Party, ACT,  NZ Independent Coalition, and Democrats for Social Credit.

The content of the ads ranged in length from National’s stultifying quarter of an hour – to only a few minutes for the sprites – minor parties.

The following is my own personal round-up of what we were subjected to saw;

National

Ok, I admit I’m not fan of either right wing parties and especially John Key, who I hold as one of the most dishonest and manipulative politicians since… whenever.

However, National’s ad had to be the worst in political history. I had already heard most of it in audio form on Radio NZ the previous evening, in my car, on the way home. I made it for about five minutes before switching off the radio and putting a CD on to play.

Note: I never turn Radio NZ off in the car. People who travel with me know the cardinal law of survival if they are to be a passenger; all stations are set to Radio NZ. There are no other radio stations. They do not exist. Do not touch the frequency knob – ever.

But on Friday night, listening to Key droning on and on and on and… Too much. My ears were about to bleed.

I switched off.

On Saturday evening, being the political junkie I am, I settled down; coffee; notebook; cat on lap; and a couple of other people to gauge their perceptions.

It was the same advert as the previous night’s RNZ broadcast. I could feel braincells withering under the onslaught of tedium. I lasted seven minutes. Then muted the TV and walked away. (I asked others to let me know when it was all over.)

It last for 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes of mostly Key sitting in a comfy chair (yes! the dreaded comfy chair!) replying to patsy questions from an off-screen mock-interviewer. He droned onnnnnn and onnnnn and onnnnnn… and so earnestly … and it was relentless… and by the gods, it was bad by any measure.

If Labour had broadcast that trash, it would be game-over. Cunliffe might as well email Key his concession speech and be done with it.

Now here’s the thing; as a political junkie, I’m interested in watching and listening to this kind of stuff. But I could barely last half-way through before leaving the room lest my head exploded like some scene out of Peter Jackson’s “Brain Dead“.

My guess is that the punters in Voter Land will have lasted two minutes, max. Then the TV would’ve been switched off; changed channel; or put a DVD on.

I can only guess that whoever produced this unwatchable, painful garbage is in reality an operative for Kim Dotcom or the mysterious ‘Whale Dump’.

Score: 0/10(nil)

Labour

Now this, was a delight to see.  This was a slick piece of political advertising. Most importantly it obeyed the first commandment of TV broadcasting: thou shalt never, ever bore the viewer. (All other Commandments follow on from #1.)

The opening scene has David Cunliffe – not sitting in a padded comfy chair in suit and tie – but lugging electrical extension cords and some unidentified DIY handyman’s tool (it could’ve been an egg-beater for all I know), and heading into a community centre where Labour MPs and local folk were pitching in for a do-up of the building. Everyone was engaged; everyone was doing something. And intermittently, the MPs would talk policy to the ‘Ordinary Folk’, in reply to pre-set questions.

Aside from David Parker seemingly out of his element and a tad ill at ease, it was well done and succeeded in conveying the central theme; getting of our backsides and doing stuff.

(At the beginning of the National Party ad we saw people rowing – but Key and his ministers  were doing very little except sitting around in their suits, talking.  Probably planning the next leak of info to Cameron Slater’s blog.)

Whoever put the Labour Party ad together has not only earned their money – but I’d say they’ll be scoring a few more advertising contracts from new clients.

Score: 8/10

Greens

Same as for the Labour ad above – though it began somewhat jarringly with the lovely Metiria Turei popping out from the side of off-screen, David Seymour-style, and disconcertingly launching into a very exuberant speech. (Too much coffee that day, I wonder?)

The video was notable for putting across many of the Greens’ policies and touched upon wide sectors of New Zealand. There was even a well-made point regarding how National’s  Minister, Paula Bennett, had made full use of the Training Incentive Allowance to gain an education – and then scrapping it in 2009. Nice little reminder that National’s ostentatious claims for improving education and welfare services in this country are debatable – if not outright crap.

Russell Norman even managed to turn around the fact that he is an Aussie immigrant. (As long as we keep beating the Wallabies, I’m not terribly worried.)

Like the Internet Party, the Greens have an advantage over their opponents in have smart, savvy  young people as their leaders and candidates. Their policies are well-reasoned, costed, and make good sense.  The only criticism that right-wing opponents can usually come up with  is juvenile derision or name-calling.

Interesting though, how the Nats took on board Green Party policy for home insulation, eh?

Score: 9/10

NZ First

Vintage Winston Peters; immigration, land sales to foreigners, etc. Some forced smiling.

Strangely forgettable…

Score: 5/10

United Future/Peter Dunne

Usual Peter Dunne stuff. Pretending to be an independent party, whilst off-screen he’s planning to join the next, Third Term, John Key-led government. (He’ll be waiting a long time.)

Still, the video was inoffensive. Unremarkable. Actually quite forgettable.

Score: 4/10

Focus Party

I’m fairly politically au fait with politics in this country.

But.

Who/what/why is the “Focus Party”?

A staggeringly amateurish video (filmed on a hand-held smart-phone?), complete with echoing voice-over, spouting a mish-mash of policies that appear to have been lifted from ACT, Labour, National, NZ First, and Uncle Tom Cobbly. It appears to be a one-man band with one middle aged bloke fronting.

Very bizarre.

Very pointless.

Score: 2/10 (I’ve scored it for merciful brevity.)

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Ah, the good ole Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. You can’t have an election without the ALCP. That would be just… rude. Like not sharing a joint with a good mate.

Actually, it was surprisingly well done, with a cross-range of people from Kiwi society. Considering how long the ALCP has been around, it would be disappointing if they hadn’t mastered the art of political advertising by now.

My fondest memory of the ALCP was during the 1996 General Election when candidates for the Rongotai electorate assembled at the Wellington Polytechnic, in Tasman St, Wellington, for a Q and A with students.

The ALCP candidate was a likeable young chap. Very friendly. Very eager. Very stoned. As in blood-shot eyes, silly grin, and slurred speech.

The other candidates, mercifully, did not give him a hard time. (It was the Kiwi way, back then. These days, the Nat candidate would’ve been on his phone to the Police and the ACT candidate would be having a conflict of ideology; obey the law or support a person’s individual right to use drugs or not, as well as date your own sister/brother.)

I score them low only because they’re a single-issue party.

Score: 6/10

Internet Party

This one caught us by surprise and it took a few seconds to realise it wasn’t part of the ad-break. Had to quickly un-mute the TV.

An animated video, featuring a Jetsons-style cartoon of a talking cat and couple of Kiwi kids in a future New Zealand. There was mention made of getting rid of spy agencies and making New Zealand a better place to live. (Presumably all Tories had been exiled to mine the Asteroid Belt for gold, silver, etc – a kind of SF libertarian frontier world. No government. No “social welfare bludgers”. No oxygen either.)

It was quirky and never took itself too seriously. Definitely aimed for a younger demographic for whom a world of 21st Century technological marvels is as commonplace as VCRs and Vauxhall Victors were for me in the 1980s. The Jetson’s link would have brought a smile to many Baby Boomers.

Nicely done. Not pretentious. Short. Too the point. Entertaining.

Score: 8/10

Conservative Party

Honestly, did Colin Craig not look at this video before it was released upon the unsuspecting public?

The video is set in a community hall; a crowd of people looking blankly at Colin Craig standing on a stage, as he gives a speech on binding referenda, yadda yadda…

The audience looked like they’d rather be elsewhere. One wag on Twitter suggested they were all dead.

Hint to advertisers: if a bought-and-paid audience doesn’t look remotely interested, why should we?

Score: 2/10

ACT

Cue scene of ACT-leader and philosopher-cum-wanna-be-capitalist, Jamie Whyte walking over a very green, well-manicured field with strange, bizarre statues in the back-ground. Cue Whyte’s Malian wife walking alongside with him. Subtext: “I’m not a racist because I have an African wife. So I’m entitled to play the ‘race card’ to win votes by promising to abolish the Maori seats. Come unto me, Redneck Voters of New Zealand”.)

A strange video, mostly a re-hash of past policies designed to make rich old white men eventually richer dead white men,  and keep the rest of us peasants where we belong. This was made more appropriate as the video was filmed on eccentric art-collector and multi-millionaire, Alan Gibb’s estate.

Whyte was continually “ticking” the air to endorse ACT policies.

Very clinical. Lacking in any warmth, humanity, or hint of a feeling of community. In essence, a vision of an ACT world.

ACT could have done better by using David Seymour’s previous video, which has gained a measure of notoriety for it’s quirkiness. At least it contained an element of humour.

Score: 1/10

Irony factor: 10/10 – ACT took taxpayer’s money to make these political advertisements. Did they send a cheque to the IRD to pay back monies received from the Electoral Commission?

David Seymour’s video: 10/10

NZ Independent Coalition

Ex-NZ First MP, Brendan Horan’s vehicle, to return to Parliament. His chances of winning his electorate (Tauranga) is as likely as me waking up tomorrow and discovering I’ve under-gone a spontaneous sex-change through the night (very low).

What is it with waka-jumpers who feel they can cobble together a “party” and try to get back into Parliament for no reason other than, well, “I’m here anyway! Vote for me! Please..”

Score: 2/10

Democrats for Social Credit

Ah, another “blast from the past” – and boy, didn’t the Social Crediters use their history to good advantage? Clips showing past MPs during the Muldoon era would’ve brought nostalgic memories from older Baby Boomers.

In fact, I recall it was the first political party I ever voted for. I was 21 and my first time voting. I didn’t have a clue. All I knew was I didn’t like Muldoon, and I was wary of the Labour (a result of being young, stupid, and hopelessly right wing).

Even though elections then were a two-party closed-shop, run under the erratic First Past the Post system, the Social Credit Party valiantly tried to break through. That year – in 1978 – they gained one MP  with 16% of the vote. The following election, Social Credit gained 20% of the vote – and a miserly two seats in Parliament. (By this time, I had matured and moved to the left, voting for Labour.)

The face of the Democrats for Social Credit is the personable and experienced Stephanie DeRuyter, and she hosted the video in a capable, professional manner. At best, the DSC offer a comfortable link to our recent past and institutional knowledge  – something which umpteen re-0rganisations and mass-redundancies in our civil service has resulted in a form of collective Alzheimer’s.

Good video.

Still not voting for them.

Score: 7/10

Conclusion

Based on tonight’s electioneering material, I’d say the Left have their act together. The Right, on the other hand, are a shambles. (Honourable mention of David Seymour’s own effort to promote himself in Epsom.)

If the Nats win this election, it will be despite their election advertising, not because of it.

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References

Wikipedia: Brain Dead

Youtube: David Seymour

Green Party: Greens negotiate landmark insulation programme

 

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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