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Letter to the editor – “An Alarmed World” according to The Listener

29 September 2014 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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This recent editorial from”The Listener”  is not one I ever thought I’d see…

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The Listener - an alarmed world - war propaganda

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My response…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Mon, Sep 29, 2014
subject: Letter to the Editor

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The editor
The Listener
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Regarding your editorial, “An Alarmed World”, on 27 September; since when did “The Listener” publish war propaganda from the US State Department?

In terms of alarmist jingoism, it ticked all the boxes.

 
The anonymous editorialist wrote,
“Perhaps it’s time to consider what the world’s fate might have been without the moral resolve exhibited by Churchill and Roosevelt in World War II.”

I would re-word that simplistic nonsense with this point,”Perhaps it’s time to consider what the world’s fate might have been without the dishonest ‘weapons of mass destruction’ propaganda exhibited by Bush and Blair prior to the Invasion of Iraq.”

Instead of “an alarmed world” – which no doubt your editorial  contributed it’s small part – we should be looking at an informed world.

War propaganda is anathema to an informed populace.

Shame on “The Listener” for publishing such jingoistic nonsense. The majority of your  readers are too intelligent to swallow that kind of flag-waving redneckery.
-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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References

The Listener:  An alarmed World

Other blogs

Open Parachute: The information war – The NZ Listener takes up arms


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

No More. The Left Falls.

29 September 2014 6 comments

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The Left Falls No More

We cannot be beaten down

Because we are down already.

We can only rise up

and if you should beat us down,

We will rise again. And again. And again…

And when you tire of beating us down,

We will rise up once again,

And look our Oppressor in the eye,

and say, ‘Rise up with us, brother,

for you may yet share our pain’.

                                                      – FM

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As passions settle, disappointment wanes to something approaching tolerable, and we start to look at things a bit more rationally, it’s time to review the last few days, weeks, and months…

Without a doubt, it is safe to say that the Left never expected expected the two results of the Election Night figures.

  1. That National would score so  highly, at 48.06%, (Specials still to be counted)
  2. That the Left would fare so poorly that even NZ First’s credible 8.85% result would make no appreciable difference to National’s success.

Once again, it appears that the Non-Voters – traditionally mostly Labour or left supporters  – gifted National the government for a third term;

Roughly a million people didn’t show up to vote for Saturday’s election, making it one of New Zealand’s worst turnouts in the last century.

An estimated 77.04 per cent of enrolled voters took part in the election, slightly higher than the 74.2 per cent turnout in 2011, which was the worst in percentage terms since before women got the right to vote in 1893.

This year’s result still ranks as the third-worst turnout in the last 100 years, with the number of non-voters almost tallying to the number of votes that went to National.

The estimated results are based on the 2,405,652 votes received before voting closed, which includes nearly 300,000 special votes that are yet to be counted.

Interestingly, in the same Fairfax article,  Victoria University politics professor Jack Vowles said,

“A small increase in turnout is what we would expect. There’s been a downward trend of turnout for some time, so any increase shows something has changed.”

My suspicion is that the polarising effect of John Key may have motivated more people to engage in voting. My own experience lends some credence to this, with past non-voters this year keen to engage in the electoral system. In plain english, Key has pissed off people to such a degree that they expressed their feelings through the ballot.

Unfortunately, the Left was in no position to focus this anger in any meaningful way. Young people chanting in unison, ‘Fuck John Key‘, may have been fun and cathartic – but it ultimately failed to translate into valuable votes.

Meanwhile, I offer my post-mortem, observations, and views of events…

David Cunliffe

I am not one to pick and choose Party leaders – especially for Labour. Besides which, I’ve always been more interested in policy factors than pretty faces.

However, I will offer my ten cents + 15% GST worth.

Has it ever occurred to the Labour caucus that replacing your Leaders after every electoral loss is counterproductive? I offer three reasons for this assertion;

1. How do you test your Leader in the fires of adversity, if you keep replacing him (or her) after each electoral loss? If your Leader is proven in victory – but unknowable in defeat – are you not missing a vital measure of the man  (or woman)?

2. Replacing your Leader after each defeat sends a curious message to the public. It suggests that you’ve made a mistake with your Leadership selection. In which case, if/when you choose a new Leader to replace Cunliffe – is that a mistake as well? If you have no faith in your Leader, even in dire adversity, why should we – the voting public?

3. It takes years for a Leader to become known and familiar to the public. Years to gain their trust. If you keep rotating your Leadership, you are in effect putting an Unknown Quantity before the public who will never get a chance to assess the man (or woman).

It took three terms for the public to get to know Helen Clark. After which she led three consecutive Labour-led governments.

For god sakes, learn from history.

Or be consigned to it.

David Shearer

I understand David Shearer’s simmering anger. I really, really do. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve gone ‘thermo-nuclear’ by now.

But he does himself and the Labour Party no favours with his behaviour in front of the media.

Shearer has every right to be angry. But dignity and self-discipline is a far better course of action than publicly under-mining his Leader. After all, when/if he assumes the Labour leadership again, he would expect a modicum of public loyalty shown to him.

Two words: Kevin Rudd.

Hone Harawira

The more times I met Hone Harawira, the more times I have been thoroughly impressed with this man. The word ‘mana’ was created to describe his real personality- not the isolated snippets chosen by the media to portray him as a “mouthy brown boy”.

Hone was condemned – mostly by the Right and a headline-seeking media and commentariat – for the ‘crime’ of having a rich benefactor.

Meanwhile, the National Party has a plethora of rick benefactors – and no one bats an eyelid.

Unfair? Of course it is.

But that’s New Zealand in the 21st Century. As a society, it seems we left fairness behind when we allowed ourselves to be tempted by neo-liberalism’s promises of  “aspirationism” and shiny consumer goods.

Men and women like Hone Harawira still exist in our fair, if considerably less-than-100%-Pure, country. But their values and notions of fairness, decency, and helping one-another is something that the public view with suspicion as a quirky notion from last century (much like Queensbury rules when two men engaged in fisticuffs) – and which an increasingly cynical, lazy,  and politically-captured media treat with disdain and derision.

The media subtext of Hone’s relationship with Kim Dotcom was simple; “You can be a ‘champion of the poor’ as much as you like. We’ll write patronising (if somewhat racist) stories about you to paint you as a loud-mouthed radical engaging in ‘envy politics’.”

But the moment Hone’s Mana Movement got all cashed up, things changed.

National is allowed money.

Even Labour.

NZ First and the Greens rely on branding for success.

But parties representing the poor?  No way. The rule from On High was simple: You want to represent the Poor and the Powerless? Fine, but you stay poor and powerless.

Hone broke that rule.

John Key

Key’s victory speech was par-for-course, and well scripted for him  by his tax-payer funded spin-doctors and media minders. The speech was a mix of humility and delight in his victory.

Part of Key’s election night victory speech referred to “serving all New Zealanders”,

“I can pledge this to you, that I will a government that governs for all New Zealanders.”

In fact, it seemed a re-hash of his 2011 victory speech,

“I will lead a government that serves the interests of all New Zealanders…”

Key’s sentiments were repeated in a John Campbell interview on 22 September, (the interview is worthwhile watching) where he spoke at length about his concerns for the most vulnerable in our society.  He pledged a third term Key-led government to improve their lives.

Trouble is –

  • His government has spent the first two terms doing very little about rising child poverty,
  • tax cuts have benefitted the most well off,
  • Increases in GST, prescription charges, and others costs-of-living have impacted on the poorest,
  • Inequality has increased,
  • Wages have fallen even further behind Australia

If Key failed to address the lot of the poor in the first six years of his governance – why should we take his word for the next three? Especially as National has lined up new legislation to further cut back worker’s rights; the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

Marginalising  workers’ rights will not reduce poverty; create jobs; or lift wages. It will only maximise profits for companies at the expense of workers.

As the editorial for the Otago Daily Times stated on 22 September,

“But while he is rapidly becoming one of this country’s most ”popular” prime ministers, there remains a gulf before he can go down in history as a ”great” prime minister. If that is Mr Key’s ambition, he is going to have to show that his role is, indeed, to serve all New Zealanders.

He and his Cabinet will have to strive to care for families, to try to ensure the poor are supported and not consigned to a demeaning and destructive underclass future. As well, alongside pursuit of economic development, this Government is going to have to protect the environment.”

Talk is cheap.

Actions count. So  far, we’ve seen precious little of it.

I look forward to being proved wrong.

Kelvin Davis

The day after Election Night, my feelings were running high and my views coloured by my passions. I may have written some things that, as my passions cooled, I reflect more wisely on matters in the clear light of day.

Not so with Kelvin Davis.

I stand by my initial statements;

Davis did not “win” Te Tai Tokerau. It was “gifted” to him as a dirty little rort, when John Key, Winston Peters, and the Maori Party told their supporters to vote for Davis, over Hone Harawira.

This was a disgusting, shabby example of dirty politics.

Kelvin Davis is “Labour” in name only and, like Peter Dunne and David Seymour,  he should not forget who his political patron really is: John Key. Davis is John Key’s errand boy.

Who knows – one day Key may call in the debt David owes him?

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom has been vilified and made the scape-goat of the election by many.  As if Hone Harawira’s defeat has validated the views of the Right Wing, and those who see Kim Dotcom as the villain of the piece.

I offer a counter-view, and one I believe equally as valid.

Let us not forget a few pertinent facts about Dotcom;

  • He was allowed entry into New Zealand by John Key’s government.
  • Dotcom has committed no crime in this country. He has yet to be tried for copyright infringements – a civil matter, not a criminal offense. And his convictions in Germany happened when he was 19 years old – a time when young people often fall foul of the law with drugs, alcohol, violence, driving offenses, teen pregnancies, etc. He is no criminal “mastermind”, despite the obsessive rantings of the Right. Dotcom’s past criminal record is only an affront to Right Wingers because he supports the Left.
  • Dotcom was instrumental in uncovering the fact that the GCSB had illegally spied on eighty eight New Zealand citizens or Permanent Residents. Until then, we had no idea what had been happening under successive Labour and National governments.
  • Dotcom has also uncovered the very real likelihood that the NSA/GCSB has been engaging in mass surveillance in this country – despite protestations  to the contrary by our Prime Minister (not noted for his scrupulous honesty) and the former GCSB director Sir Bruce Ferguson (under whom illegal spying had been taking place for years).
  • And Dotcom uncovered John Banks’ own dishonest activities regarding his election financial returns, resulting in the former ACT minister’s conviction and resignation from Parliament.

Kim Dotcom’s real ‘crime’ has not been copyright infringement.

His real ‘crime’ has been to turn his back on his fellow millionaires and political elites – the Oligarchs for whom power is the oxygen that sustains them – and to give financial support to one of the few people in this country to threaten their privileged positions:  Hone Harawira.

For the Right Wing – and the infantile lackeys who act as their on-line henchmen by constantly posting anonymous message demonising Dotcom – this was an intolerable situation. They could barely tolerate Hone Harawira’s existence. But as long as Hone was one lone voice in the political wilderness, he was left alone. Kelvin Davis’ previous attempts to unseat Hone came to nothing.

But when radical left-wing politics and Big Money became entwined, Hone Harawira became a threat that could no longer be ignored by the Establishment.

First, some in  the media responded. The venom dripped from this typical comment on social media, and was only less overtly spiteful in the mainstream media;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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Because Big Money funding the National Party is not  “rorting MMP”.

The vendetta – and that is precisely what this was – culminated in National, NZ First, and the Maori Party rushing at the last minute to endorse Labour’s Kelvin Davis;

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Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

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Hone's call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

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Harawira’s fall was compounded by the ‘Moment of Truth’, on 15 September,  failing to deliver certain promises made and hyped by Dotcom.  Ironically, it was not sufficient for New Zealanders to learn that were were living in a Surveillance State and all our meta-data was being collected by shadowy agencies. It was not enough to realise that our on-line and telephone privacy was a thing of the past.

We wanted the ‘dirt’ on John Key. That’s where the real sensationalistic headlines lay for the MSM. That would sell several million bucks worth of advertising to the punters.

And when Dotcom failed to deliver – stymied by legalities, I am informed – the media and noisy aspects of the public turned on him. Being spied on by the State was apparently nowhere as bad  as being denied a good political drama. We wanted Reality TV, made real, in our lounges, and our insatiable appetite for sensational gossip to be sated.

When that was denied us, we turned – like children denied access to our favourite TV programme or ‘grounded’ from internet access for 24 hours – on he who had promised us so much. We howled with rage and had Dotcom lived in our village, the good people would have gathered up their pitchforks and torches and made for his hut.

However, this is the 21st Century. We don’t do pitchforks and  blazing torches any more (OSH would have a fit!). The mob is more sophisticated now. We do lynchings on-line and in the media.

Far more effective.

Fewer blood stains to wash out.

It has been said that part of our peculiar national psyche is something called ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’. In this case the tall poppies were two men who dared challenge the Establishment, and were cut down for their troubles. This time, though, it did not happen in secret, behind closed doors, concocted by shadowy figures.

It happened in full public view.

If you think this happens only in movies, in America, and the good guy(s) always win – think again.

It happened here. We just witnessed it. And the good guys didn’t win.

Not this time.

See also:  Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?

Labour

One thing that Labour  apparently excels at is self-mutilation. As a fund-raiser, it could make truckloads of cash by catering to certain folk with BDSM inclinations. One hour of a good, hard flogging, $250. Humiliation and discipline – $150 per half hour. (So I’m reliably informed…) Ok, so you have to wear a lot of sticky leather or rubber gear, but hey, it’s all for a good cause, right?!

 

Since Labour’s loss on election night, Labour MPs have been more vocal and active than all their last campaigning over the past six months. None it it, though, any good. Airing the party’s “dirty laundry” is an act that beggars belief.

 

If Labour MPs believe that their current media appearance on Radio NZ, TV3, TV1, et al, are doing them any good – let me disabuse them of that belief. It is self-destructive.

 

It is self-harm on a party-political scale. It is sheer, unmitigated stupidity.Attentions Messrs Shearer, Goff, Hipkins, et al – the public are watching.Whoever leads the Party – whether it be Cunliffe or X – will be accepting a poisoned chalice that would fell a totara.

 

It makes the Labour Party look like a bunch of self-serving fools or witless muppets – take your pick.Is there any wonder why Labour keeps losing? Let me spell it out.

 

After each election defeat – 2008, 2011, 2014 – Labour indulges in public self-flogging and blood-letting. There is nothing remotely subtle or civilised or clever about the unpleasantness that follows.

 

It turns people off in droves.It turns voters away from Labour.

 

Three years later – another defeat.

 

Repeat cycle.

 

At this rate, Labour will become a third-rate Party, supplanted by the Greens which will become the main Opposition Party – and ultimately, along with NZ First (or it’s successor under Ron Mark) – lead the next Coalition Government.

 

This is how a once proud, proactive political party becomes an ossified institution, and ultimately irrelevant to peoples’ lives. Think – Alliance, post 2002.

 

To all Labour MPs, take my advice: STFU. Listen to your Leader (whether you support him or not) and keep your mouths closed. Sort your sh*t out in private, and in public, smile a Happy Face.

 

Otherwise, you can kiss your chances goodbye for 2017.

 

Media

 

The media pack is in full hunt. Their quarry – David Cunliffe.I swear TV3’s Patrick Gower was salivating at the prospect of doing a “Nosferatu” on Cunliffe’s neck;

 

“Labour is in crisis tonight with leader David Cunliffe apparently refusing to give up the leadership, despite the party’s humiliating election defeat…[…]So Labour is now in a civil war, with Mr Cunliffe trying to gag MPs.[…]The five potential contenders show just how fractured Labour is. The caucus has atomised and another leadership spill is the last thing it needs.”

 

With some journos seemingly actively campaigning for Cunliffe’s resignation,

Labour MPs have emerged from a seven-hour crisis meeting – and leader David Cunliffe is still refusing to go.After presenting the party’s new chief whip Chris Hipkins and his junior Carmel Sepuloni, he gave a short statement, but refused to say what happened in the meeting.His MPs have given him a bloody nose with their choices.

Including this anonymous (Mr Armstrong, I presume?) NZ Herald editorial;

“Labour needs to face the question of its leadership, nothing more. If Mr Cunliffe is going to appeal over the heads of his caucus to the membership and affiliated unions who elected him last year, he must imagine he can continue to lead a team that has little confidence in him. This will do Labour no good, as surely its members and unions now see.It is in the nation’s interest that the party finds a new leader quickly.”

 

This isn’t reporting the news. This is actively manufacturing it.
Is this how news “reporting” is now done in Aotearoa New Zealand?  The Fourth Estate appears to have become a de facto, quasi-political party.

They simply haven’t announced it to the public.

 

Stuart Nash

 

Some commentators (media, political, and blogs) are still adhering to the fiction that Stuart Nash “won” the Napier seat. Election night results, however, paint a different picture entirely;

 

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

 

Contrast to the 2011 result:

 

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 13,636

TREMAIN, Chris (National) 17,337

 

See where Tremain’s 7,000 votes went three years later?

Nash has now hinted  he is “not ruling out”  throwing his hat into the ring for an up-coming leadership challenge. If true,  Nash’s colossal ego has outstripped his common sense entirely. He is deluded if he really believes he won his seat on his own merits. An extra 405 votes is not a mandate when his ‘success’ was predicated on his  opponant’s vote being split by another right-wing candidate.

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The heading of this piece is wrong. It’s not, “No More. The Left Falls.”

It should read,

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The Left Falls, No More.*

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* With acknowledgement to a recent BBC movie, about a certain quirky time travelling hero in a blue box.

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References

Electoral Commission:  Election Results — Overall Status

Fairfax media: Voter turnout near record low

Youtube: Fuck John Key! [New Zealand Revolution]

TV3: Former GCSB boss denies Snowden’s claims

Maori TV: Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

NZ Herald: Hone’s call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

Fairfax Media: Hone Harawira accuses Maori Party of sabotage

Electoral Commission: Election Results — Napier

Wikipedia: 2011 Election – Napier

Radio NZ: Tussling starts for Labour’s top job

TV3: National Party wins third term

John Key: 8 November 2008  – Victory Speech

Previous related blogposts

She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Waiting for Gower’s Twittering of indignation

Other blogs

Why chanting “fuck John Key” is a battle cry not profanity

Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?

Hang tight everyone – Marama Davidson campaign reflection

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2014

 

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= fs =

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

26 September 2014 10 comments

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20-september

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It would be fair to say that the results for Election 2014 did not go as anticipated.

The Left has had a drubbing – and some of it was of our own making. In other aspects, there were some interesting lessons to be learned…

1. Green Voters & Electorate Votes

Some Green supporters are either woefully ignorant of MMP – or have been smoking to much of a certain herb. Or, gods forbid, they are so desperate to remain ideologically pure in their principles, that they are willing to allow a right wing candidate to be elected, rather than supporting a candidate from another party on the Left.

In  Ōhāriu (as well as other electorates) Peter Dunne was returned to office because Green Party supporters cast their electorate votes for Green candidate Tane Woodley, instead of the Labour candidate. Preliminary election results for Ohariu yield the following;

ANDERSEN, Virginia: (Labour)11,349

DUNNE, Peter: (United Future) 12,279

WOODLEY, Tane: (Greens) 2,266

Had supporters of the Green Party given their electorate votes to Viriginia Andersen, Peter Dunne would have been defeated by 1,336 votes.

The Greens need to get it through to their supporter’s heads that giving their electorate votes to their own candidates is a waste of effort and an indulgence we cannot afford.

When elections are close-fought and majorities slim, such indulgences cannot be tolerated, and the Greens need to educate their supporters quick-smart, if we are to win in 2017.

This is a problem I blogged about three years ago. Why am I still having to point out the bleedin’ obvious?!

2. The Conservative Party

All ridicule and derision aside, Colin Craig’s Conservative Party deserves accolades. The CCCP got damn close to the magical 5% threshold – without a jot of support from Dear Leader Key and his National Party strategists.

No cuppa tea for Colin Craig – the Conservatives worked their backsides off to achieve a credible result. The Conservatives won 4.12% of the Party vote.

Meanwhile, the rort that is the ACT-National dirty deal was rewarded with a parliamentary seat in Epsom. ACT won 0.69% of the Party vote.

Kudos to the CCCP – and a curse upon the walking political corpse that is the ACT Zombie Party.

3. The killing of Mana

‘Congratulations’ to the Labour Party for successfully killing of Mana.

Question: what kind of a fool destroys his own ally, to the eventual benefit of his enemy?!

It takes a spectacular degree of sheer stupidity to achieve such a feat – and still not win the election! At this rate of ‘success’, Labour will kill off  all it’s allies; then self-destruct; leaving the National Party and it’s henchmen (Peter Dunne and ACT) last men standing.

If this is ‘clever strategy’, what am I missing?

4. Nicky Hager & ‘Dirty Politics’

Make no mistake, Nicky Hager wrote the truth in his expose, ‘Dirty Politics’.

Some critics have suggested that it was not the “right time” to release the book, so close to the election. So, when was the right time? Afterward? When it’s too late to do anything about it?

No, the right time to reveal the truth is always now. Not later.

What New Zealanders ultimately decide to do with that truth is up to them. But at least they can never say  they never knew what was going on. The excuse of ignorance cannot be used when the truth is laid bare for all to see.

Nicky Hager revealed the dirty side of politics.

1,010,464 voters chose to ignore it.

5. National did not increase their support!

The media – as usual – are being sloppy and lazy when they excitedly exclaim about National increasing it’s support. No such thing has happened.

In 2011, National gained 1,058,638 Party Votes.

This time, they gained 1,010,464.

According to my trustee hamster-powered calculator, that’s a drop of  48,174 votes. Their electoral support fell, not increased.

It’s this kind of  sloppy reporting that actively assists the National Party avoid real scrutiny by the media.

6. The Labour Leadership

If Labour want to indulge in an orgy of purging, sackings, rejuvenation, or whatever euphemisms they want to employ – fine.  I say, “Enjoy the bloodletting. Knock yerselves out. ”

But please. No more changes in the Leader of the Labour Party.

It takes years for the public to get to know a political leader.

And it takes years for a political leader to become truly experienced and confident in his/her role. Otherwise you get this kind of event – where he is blindsided by a media-pack ambush and caught badly off-guard.

Changing leaders every time plans do not succeed invites organisational  instability and undermines any opportunity to build rapport with the public.

Stick with Cunliffe. Support him. Let him grow into the role. Let the public have a chance to get used to him.

The alternative? Just look at ACT to see what effect four leadership changes in six years has achieved.

7. No more Teflon John

John Key may have won a third term – but his problems just got worse.

Lurking in the background;

  • Increasing child poverty and inequality
  • an economy about to tank
  • housing unaffordability that will worsen
  • Judith Collins and National’s restless right-wing faction
  • Cameron Slater and his unpredictability
  • and an increasingly aggressive  media chasing stories that will become harder and harder for Key to ‘casually’ dismiss

Teflon John is gone – and in his place is a very mortal, vulnerable politician.

8. Stuart Nash

Pundits and media commentators on TV3 gushed at Stuart Nash’s “awesomeness” at winning the Napier electorate. At one point, I thought Josie Pagani on TV3’s election panel was going to declare her undying love for the guy and call for his immediate canonisation at a Saint.

It’s rubbish, of course.

Nash did not “win” Napier.

The National candidate, Wayne Walford lost the electorate when Garth McVicar from the Conservative Party split the right wing vote in the electorate. Remember; electorate contests are still fought using First Past the Post – not by any  proportionality or preferential voting.

The actual results were;

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

Add McVicar’s 7,135 to Walford’s figures, and the combined 17,443 would have trounced Nash easily.

Be wary of media hype. It maybe useful to sell advertising, but is useless for factual purposes.

9. Kelvin Davis

Likewise with Kelvin Davis. Davis did not “win” Te Tai Tokerau. It was “gifted” to him as a dirty little rort, when John Key, Winston Peters, and the Maori Party told their supporters to vote for Davis, over Hone Harawira.

This was a disgusting, shabby example of dirty politics.

Kelvin Davis is “Labour” in name only and, like Peter Dunne and David Seymour,  he should not forget who his political patron really is. He is John Key’s errand boy.

Kelvin Davis has no mana from this dishonourable “victory”.  By contrast, Hone Harawira, may have lost his seat – but he retains his mana.

10. “The forces on the right…”

… are very united, said Josie Pagani, on TV3’s political panel. And she would be 100% correct.

This is one of the lessons that Labour should be taking from the 2014 elections; unity is strength.

National did not seek to destroy potential allies. With the exception of the Conservative Party, it actively supported them. Either with direct deal-making (Epsom and Ohariu), or with “nods-and-winks” (Maori Party).

Even with the Conservatives – though Key refused any actual deal-making, he did not go out of his way to under-mine Colin Craig’s party. Just in case they reached the 5% thresh-hold and thus became potentially useful to the Nats.

By contrast, Labour campaigned to destroy the Mana-Internet Party, and the Greens undermined Labour with it’s comment that Labour’s policies would have to be “independently audited” – a phrase picked up by Key and used to attack Cunliffe.

Key projected stability and co-operation on the Right.

The Left projected intense rivalry and a hatred of each other that was volcanic in intensity.

Who did Labour and the Greens think the public would vote for?

Ten things Labour and the Greens should consider in the coming days, weeks, months, and next three years.

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References

Electoral Commission:  Election Results — Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Election Results — Overall Status

Wikipedia: 2011 General Election

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu

Electoral Commission: Election Results — Napier

Alternative link: Wikipedia – Napier Election results

Fairfax media: Greens eye bigger supluses

Previous related blogposts

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

Teflon Man No More


 

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2017 - question

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= fs =

Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe (v2)

25 September 2014 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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FROM: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
DATE: Thu, Sep 25, 2014
TO: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
SUBJECT: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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Has it ever occurred to the Labour caucus that replacing your Leaders after every electoral loss is counterproductive? I offer three reasons for this assertion;

1. How do you test your Leader in the fires of adversity, if you keep replacing him (or her) after each electoral loss? If your Leader is proven in victory – but unknowable in defeat – are you not missing a vital measure of the man (or woman)?

2. Replacing your Leader after each defeat sends a curious message to the public. It suggests that you’ve made a mistake with your Leadership selection. In which case, if/when you choose a new Leader to replace Cunliffe – is that a mistake as well? If you have no faith in your Leader, even in dire adversity, why should we – the voting public?

3. It takes years for a Leader to become known and familiar to the public. Years to gain their trust. If you keep rotating your Leadership, you are in effect putting an Unknown Quantity before the public who will never get a chance to assess the man (or woman).

It took three terms for the public to get to know Helen Clark. After which she led three consecutive Labour-led governments.

For god sakes, learn from history.

Or be consigned to it.

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address & phone number supplied]

Text taken from blogpost: No More. The Left Falls.

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe

25 September 2014 4 comments

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

 

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FROM: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
DATE: Thu, Sep 25, 2014
TO: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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If Labour keeps changing it’s Leader after every defeat, then I put the following questions to them;

1. How will a Labour Leader gain experience, if they’re dumped every couple of years?

2. How can the public be expected to get to know a Labour Leader, and develop trust in that person, if their presence is fleeting and disappear before we get to know him/her?

3. How will a Labour Leader learn to handle victory, when s/he first won’t be allowed to understand defeat? Humility is learned in failure, not success.

4. If the Leader is changed after each defeat, that suggests the Labour Party wasn’t confident with their initial choice. The public cannot be expected to take Labour leadership appointments seriously knowing that their tenure is most likely temporary.

The Greens have leaderships that are stable and long-term, irrespective of electoral success or failure. That is because the Party has faith and confidence in their leadership choices.

The Labour Party might consider this before it dispatches Mr Cunliffe.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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Fastest growing poverty

 

 

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The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed

24 September 2014 10 comments

 

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair - v2

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– Special investigation by Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules

Speculation that the Beehive office of Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, was behind the release of a letter linking Labour leader, David Cunliffe, with controversial Chinese businessman, Donghua Liu, is supported by Twitter chatter linking Herald editor, Shayne Currie, with Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog.

Nothing to see here” Currie’s boss, Tim Murphy, tweeted on 19 June in response to questions about Immigration NZ’s speedy release the previous day of the now infamous  Cunliffe-Donghua Liu 2003 letter to his investigations editor, Jared Savage.

“We seek info, public service tells govt and denies us info. We refine request and get letters. We publish. Pretty standard.”

But there was nothing “standard” about the handling of this OIA request. Made at lunchtime on Monday June 16 it produced a response — which usually takes at least 20 working days —  within 48 hours. Plucked from a file and previously withheld on privacy grounds, the 11-year-old letter was immediately put to use by National’s frontbenchers in the debating  chamber and by the Parliamentary press gallery in the corridors to discredit Cunliffe and undermine his leadership of Labour’s caucus.

Although just a routine check on progress being made on  Donghua Liu’s residency application, signed by Cunliffe as New Lynn MP in March 2003, the letter was touted as evidence of support and advocacy for the controversial Chinese businessman.

[Full Background]

For the Herald, it lent credibility to its investigation into allegations that Liu had made big donations to the Labour Party.

Jared Savage’s investigation had included a request on May 8 for all information that Immigration NZ held on Donghua Liu. After taking three weeks to decide to withhold everything on his file on privacy grounds, the ministry sat on that decision for another three weeks before suddenly agreeing to  release it to Mr Savage at 8.59AM on Monday 16 June.

Although no explanation was given for the sudden u-turn it is most likely that the potential for extracting maximum political advantage from releasing the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter became apparent over the preceding weekend.

The resignation of ACT leader John Banks as an MP had taken effect on the Friday (13 June). The filling of the vacancy created in Epsom required a special debate on whether to hold a by- election or wait for the general election on September 20. Gerry Brownlee decided to get it over with, scheduling it for Wednesday afternoon following the weekly General Debate. That meant National faced a torrid afternoon on Wednesday 18 June as Opposition parties combined to hang the Government’s dirty washing all around the debating chamber.

A  diversion would be handy.

First, the response to Mr Savage’s May 8 OIA request had to be cleared away and replaced by a fresh request targeted more precisely at the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter. Mr Savage obliged with an email seeking “any correspondence, including emails, letters or queries, from an Members of Parliament in regards to Donghua Liu’s immigration status prior to 2005.” The email was sent at 1.04pm on the Monday and asked for the request to be treated urgently because of “the public interest in this case.”

Just over an hour later, at 2.11pm, a remarkably similar request arrived from TV3’s political reporter, Brook Sabin;

“We’d like to know if any Labour MPs lobbied for Donghua Liu’s residency back in 2005 . . . Cheers.”

A growing army of managers, business advisors, comms people and consultants went straight to work on co-ordinating responses to the two requests. Ironically, although TV3 lodged their request sixty seven minutes after the Herald, Sabin was to scoop Savage by three minutes when the 2003 Cunliffe letter was released just under forty eight hours later at 12.49PM on Wednesday 18 June.

Twitter chatter in the hour leading up to the letter’s release reveals a small network of journalists and right-wing bloggers who knew it was coming. They had their stories already written and were waiting impatiently to hit “send”.

12.10pm: Herald editor, Shayne Currie, starts the count down on Twitter: “Tick, tick, tick . . . keep an eye on @nzherald #scoop.”

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Shayne Curry - 12.10 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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The 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter has not yet been released at this point. No one outside of  Immigration NZ and Minister Woodhouse are supposedly aware of it’s existence. It would not be released for another thirty nine minutes.

At exactly the same moment, an unidentified staff member in the Immigration Minister’s Beehive office in Wellington emails across the Parliamentary complex to Cunliffe’s office with a heads-up. Two documents, Cunliffe’s 2003 letter and a similar one sent five months earlier from Labour’s Te Atatu MP, Chris Carter, are to be released to the media “around 1pm”.

12.12pm: Meanwhile, “Pete” is getting impatient. Described in his Twitter profile as “a fluffer, researcher, reporter, journalist, moderator and deputy editor” for Whale Oil Beef Hooked, “Pete” tweets back at Currie: “We’ve been waiting. Get on with it. #bloodyembargoes.”

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Peter  - 12.12 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.23pm “Pete” is missing lunch. He asks @Inventory2 [Wanganui right-wing blogger and National Party member, Tony Stuart] and Currie if he has enough time to make himself a sandwich;

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Peter - 12.23 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.28pm: Currie tells sandwich-seeking “Pete” to “Take your Herald mobile app.

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Shayne Curry - 12.28 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.30pm: Back in Wellington, ministry staff are racing to get the  letters to the minister’s office. An area manager in Visa Services emails 10 colleagues with the news that a copy of the OIA response to Sabin’s request has been sent to the minister’s office.

12.39pm: The Visa Services area manager reports that he’s “just been advised that the Ministerial consultation has been completed so we will proceed to release.”

12.42pm: The same area manager then emails 10 colleagues to report that the consultation process has been completed and the letters are being released. “I have also asked . . . when we can release the Brook Sabin OIA.”

12.49pm: A business advisor in the ministry’s “Operations Support” team emails scans of the signed response and the two letters to Jared Savage at the Herald. At this point the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters ‘officially’ become public.

12.53pm: Sabin posts a scan of the Cunliffe letter on TV3’s website with a story quoting extensively from it. His story appear four minutes after ImmigrationNZ release the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters to Savage.

12.55pm: “Pete” checks in. He’s had lunch and he’s hot to post the story he’s already written after hearing from Whale Oil. Currie gets the green light and, obviously unaware that the Herald has already been scooped by TV3, tweetsBig political story breaking now . . . what David Cunliffe knew and said about Donghua Liu.”

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Pete - 12.55 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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Shayne Curry - 12.55 - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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12.57pm: Cameron Slater posts excerpts from Savage’s story on his Whale Oil blog along with a transcript from a media briefing the previous day on Labour’s KiwiSaver policy when Sabin’s TV3 colleague, Tova O’Brien, asked Cunliffe four questions about Donghua Liu.

12.59pm: Blogger Keith Ng posts the Question and Answer transcript on Twitter, describing it as a “wicked sick burn.”

1.00pm: The Herald’s veteran political correspondent, John Armstrong, posts a comment on the Herald’s website saying Cunliffe “is in deep political trouble. So deep that his resignation  as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order”. Armstrong’s column is written and published on-line eleven minutes after Savage is emailed the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters.

1.46pm: Parliamentary Press Gallery accuse Cunliffe of lying and and being a hypocrite in 8-minute “stand-up” on his way into the debating chamber.

2.00pm: Cunliffe arrives in chamber, met by jeering from National benches. Ministers use the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu letter to attack the Labour leader’s credibility. Two of them (English and Woodhouse) quote directly from TV3’s Question and Answer transcript from the previous day.

On the following day, Thursday 19 June . . .

8.04pm: Herald political editor, Audrey Young, in New York with the prime minister, reports that Key admitted knowledge of the Cunliffe/Donghua Liu letter for some weeks. She says Cunliffe’s denials that he wrote “any such letter” has “thrown his leadership into crisis.”

5.14pm: Herald deputy political editor, Claire Trevett, and political reporter, Adam Bennett, report that Woodhouse had confirmed that his office had informed the prime minister’s office of the letter’s existence within a few days of learning of it on 9 May, the day after Savage lodged his first OIA request — the first of three conflicting accounts from Woodhouse.

Four conclusions

1. This was no ordinary scoop. This was a political dirty trick with journalists as willing participants when they should have been exposing it for what it was. Links between political operatives, bloggers and journalists are inevitable and revealed. Ultimately the credibility of mainstream news depends on  its objectivity, independence and accuracy.

2. While the last-minute scramble to publish the letter before 1pm on the Wednesday depended on its release to the Herald’s  investigations editor at 12.49pm, there is no record of its  release to TV3’s political reporter. There is no paper trail, except a few references in internal emails. If it didn’t come from the ministry, it must have come from the minister.

3. The production and circulation of the Question and Answer transcript, required to support the — false — claim that Cunliffe had lied or suffered serious memory loss, remains a mystery. Blogger Keith Ng’s instant judgment on it as a “wicked sick burn” is more than just a smart turn of phrase.

4. Nicky Hager’s chapter on the Cunliffe/Donghua letter in ‘Dirty Politics’ refers to a blogger called “Barnsley Bill”, who – on the day before the Cunliffe-Liu story “broke” on 18 June in the Herald –  made this cryptic remark on Danyl McLauchlan’s blog, “The Dim Post;

Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems.
Keep an eye on the herald website, we are about to see pledge card theft relegated to second place as the biggest labour funding scandal.

Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 17, 2014 @ 10:21 am

Followed the next day with this;

Pascals Bookie..
There ya go. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11276510
Boom.
Now wait for the 100k bottle of wine to drop

Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 18, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

“Barnsley Bill’s” reference to “the 100k bottle of wine” was made before the Herald published allegations of Liu spending $100,000 on a bottle of wine to the Labour Party. (Allegations which have since been re-tracted by the Herald.)

Subsequent questions put to  “Barnsley Bill” have yielded no sensible answers, and his/her responses have been evasive. (Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)(Ref.)

Maintaining his cryptic game-playing,  “Barnsley Bill” referred on “The Daily Blog” to “look to Kerikeri for the leak” – which he pointedly repeated. Kerikeri is in the Northland Electorate. Northland is National MP, Mike Sabin’s electorate.

Mike Sabin is TV3 journalist, Brook Sabin’s father.

These are the people who knew about the 2003 Cunliffe letter before it was made public under  OIA requests on 18 June. Those OIA requests were ‘smoke-screens’ as TV3, NZ Herald, and Whaleoil already had the documents, or had been informed of their content.

Those letters were provided by the Office of the Minister for Immigration.

Under Savage’s OIA request there was a deliberate, pointed paper-trail trail by Ministry officials. No doubt the civil servants involved had an idea what their Minister was up to, and wanted plausible deniability in case any investigation resulted. By contrast, no such paper trail exists to explain how Brook Sabin obtained his copy of the 2003 Cunliffe letter. Minister Woodhouse was clumsy.

This could have come directly from the Minister’s office.

As the Twitter discussion and “Barnsley Bill’s” cryptic, prescient, comments  indicate, there were several people “in the loop” to what was clearly a calculated, planned, – if rushed – political trap and public smear campaign. Clearly, these people did not expect anyone to notice their public conversation.

Organised from a  Minister’s office; with involvement by Cameron Slater,  and with TV3 and NZ Herald complicity, David Cunliffe walked into that trap.

The truth is only now coming out.

Put the whole Twitter conversation together, and it is abundantly obvious that those involved knew that the story was coming out  prior to the Ministry releasing the 2003 Cunliffe and 2002 Carter letters.

Herald Editor, Shane Currie certainly had fore-warning.

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Shayne Curry - Twitter - NZ Herald - Donghua Liu - David Cunliffe - Immigration NZ

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Acknowledgement

Appreciation to ‘Hercules‘ for providing  information and filling in the gaps. Without your in-put, this story would never have come it.

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References

Wikipedia: Shayne Curry

Document Cloud: David Cunliffe-Liu-Immigration NZ 2003 letter

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request 16 June 2014

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request declined 8 May 2014

Parliament Hansards: Daily debates – Volume 699, Week 75 – Wednesday, 18 June 2014

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu (see video)

NZ Herald: Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Document Cache: Jared Savage OIA request extension-approved 16 June 2014 8.59AM

Radio NZ: John Banks to resign from Parliament

Document Cache: Jared Savage – Immigration NZ – new OIA request – 16 June 1.04PM

Document Cache: Brook Sabin – TV3 – Immigration NZ – OIA request –  16 June 2.11PM

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Document Cache:  Release of OIA to Jared Savage – covering email – 18 June 2014 – 12.49PM

Document Cache: Chris Carter – letter – 3 October 2002

Twitter: Pete – 12.12PM

Twitter: Pete – 12.23PM

Twitter: Shayne Currie – 12.28PM

Wanganui Chronicle: Wanganui man outed in Hager’s book

Document Cache: ImmigrationNZ Area Manager to 10 colleagues – 12.30PM

Document Cache: Immigration NZ – 18 June – 12.39PM

Document Cache: Immigration NZ – 18 June – 12.42PM

Twitter: Pete – 12.55PM

Twitter: Shayne Curry – 12.55PM

Twitter: Shayne Currie @ShayneCurrieNZH

Whaleoil: BREAKING – David Cunliffe’s career, such as it was, is over [ UPDATED ]

TV3: Tova O’Brien’s four questions to David Cunliffe, 17 June

Twitter: Keith Ng –

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: Key on Liu-Labour Link – More to come

NZ Herald:  National denies dirty tricks campaign against Cunliffe

The Dim Post: June Polls – Barnsley Bill

The Dim Post: Entities – Barnsley Bill

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

The Daily Blog: EXCLUSIVE: Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?

Mike Sabin

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

The Donghua Liu Affair: The OIA Gambit

 


 

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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 19 September 2014 as “The Donghua Liu Affair – how the NZ Herald played their part in #dirtypolitics

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She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!

22 September 2014 6 comments

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ballot box

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NZ, Wellington, 15 September – ‘Tina’* is 50, a close friend,  and one of the “Missing Million” from the last election. In fact, ‘Tina’ has never voted in her life.  Not once.

In ‘Tina’s’ own words, politics has never held any interest for her and she was always busy with raising a family. To her, politicians were all “the same” and of no relevance to her life. Her family and close friends were her world.

All that changed on 14 August.

‘Tina’ surprised me one evening, the day after Nicky Hager released his book “Dirty Politics“, when she asked me,

“Frank, how do I go about voting?”

I was somewhat taken aback. I was fully aware that ‘Tina’ was without doubt the most apolitical person amongst my friends and acquaintances. Her out-of-the-blue query left me surprised, and somewhat lost for words. (Unusual for me.)

I asked (almost knowing the answer) if she was enrolled. ‘Tina’ wasn’t.

I replied that the easiest way would be to wait for Early Voting to open to the public, where she could enroll and vote at the same time. I reassured her it was a relatively easy process and would take very little time.

I was curious, though, what had motivated her,

“What’s brought this on,” I asked?

She said she had seen a “guy on television” and asked if John Key was the Prime Minister. I replied, yes, sadly, he is.

“Why do you ask?”

‘Tina’ replied,

“He was going on about some book and they were asking him questions about it. I don’t know what it was about, but I know he was lying.”

This is the TV3 interview ‘Tina’ saw;

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Video - John Key talks Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics

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Despite having little interest or knowledge of politics, ‘Tina’ picked up very quickly that Key was not telling the truth when questioned by reporters. Especially toward the end of the interview. And ‘Tina’ was pissed off that Key was treating the public as fools if he thought his dishonesty was not obvious to the casual observer.

Our following discussion was which party should she vote for that got rid “of that man”. I replied that Key’s party was National – so don’t tick that box. I listed ACT, the Conservatives, United Future, and the Maori Party as parties that supported Key – so avoid them like the plague.

NZ First was a question mark as there was no way of guessing if Peters would support Key or Labour. So forget that party.

The only three parties guaranteed to get rid of Key were Labour, the Greens, and Mana-Internet.

‘Tina’s’ next question was the one I dreaded;

“What’s the difference?”

What followed was a short, crash-course in the difference between Labour, the Greens, and Mana-Internet. Which, when trying to explain it to someone out loud seemed ridiculous. The differences seemed minor. Almost trivial and meaningless.

Choosing the electorate candidate was straight forward – vote for the Labour candidate.

On 15 September, I received the following txt-message from ‘Tina’,

“U be proud of me Frank. I just voted.”

I was proud. ‘Tina’ had seen something from our elected Prime Minister that she did not like – and she set about doing something about it. Despite never having voted in her life, my friend made the decision to learn what the process was; what the parties were; and which option best matched her beliefs.

Later that day, ‘Tina’ sent me this photo. She proudly pointed at the little sticker they gave her at the Voting Station; “Yes, I have Voted“.  She txt-messaged me,

“The beehive needs a maturity injection. Its seems there is a lot of school yard bullying and antics going on.”

 

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T just voted

 

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Tina hasn’t told me which party she voted for, and I won’t ask.  But one of the “Missing Million” is no longer missing.

And one of three parties is now one vote stronger.

The moral of this story?  Sometimes it is not the policies or personalities that impel a person to vote.

Sometimes it can be as simple as a flash of insight.

And doing something about it.

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* Not real name

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References

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

Previous related blogposts

“Dirty Politics” – the fall-out continues

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 September 2014.

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2017

21 September 2014 3 comments

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2017 - question

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Bugger.

Ok. We pick ourselves up, dust off, and  start working for a victory in 2017 (or earlier) tomorrow.

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Categories: Various Tags:

Voting turnout affected by bad weather?

20 September 2014 Leave a comment

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20-september

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NZ, Upper Hutt, 20 September –  Cold, wet weather in the Hutt Valley, north of Wellington may be impacting on voter turn-out.

A head-count of people visiting the Trentham School Voting Station in Moonshine Rd, Upper Hutt, indicated a slow stream of voters between 11am and 1pm. Between 11am to mid-day, this blogger counted 147 voters casting their ballots, as they braved a cold and steady drizzle blanketing the region. Between 12 noon and 1pm, this had dropped to 104.

During this period there were only brief rushes of people entering the school hall. At other times Voting Staff out-numbered voters.

High early voting over the last two weeks may also be a factor.

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Trentham School - 20 September - election Day - polling station

The entrance to Trentham School in Upper Hutt, where bad weather is affecting voter turn-out

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One Voting Station official said the bad weather would definitely have a negative impact on voter-turn-out.

The weather is forecast to ease later today, and  may prompt people who have not voted, to venture out to cast their ballots.

 

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Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: Final total of advance voting

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It's raining it's pouring voting is calling

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

Teflon Man No More

19 September 2014 3 comments

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teflon man

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On 26 August, as Nicky Hager’s expose on New Zealand’s right wing politics hit public consciousness and confirmed our worst fears, I wrote,

“Dirty Politics” has achieved more than simply revealing  unwholesome machinations between National party apparatchiks, ministers, and halfway-insane right-wing bloggers. The book has explained the nature of Key’s seemingly “Teflon” nature. The secret is revealed; the mystery is stripped away; and now, when Key is confronted by a media pack, the brown smelly stuff is sticking to him.

Two days later, I repeated my belief that Key’s seemingly air-of-invulnerability had been swept away;

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

My perception of Key’s new status as just another garden-variety politician has been born out by this extraordinary exchange between TV3’s Lisa Owen, and our soon-to-be replaced Prime Minister;

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Lisa owen - john key - TV3 - The Nation - election 2014

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Until 7.05, the rather routine discussion between Owen and Key centers around National’s options to govern, post election. Coalition options and minority government are discussed, and Key confidently handles each scenario thrown at him by the host.

At 7.05, however, matters take a turn for the worst for Key when Lisa Owen raised the subject of child poverty and asked Key,

“One of the big issues this election has been child poverty. And you have said, just last year, you said ‘we are proud of the government’s record  tackling child poverty. Do you stand by that?”

Key replied,

“I absolutely I do.”

At Owen’s further questioning, Key responded by saying that he was proud of his government’s track record in dealing with child poverty.

Owen then lobbed this “grenade” at him, namely a quote from John Key himself, reported  in the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 September.

  “Our opponents say more children are living in poverty than when we came into office. And that’s probably right.”

This frank admission runs counter to every line uttered by Key, Paula Bennett, other National ministers, right wing commentators and bloggers, et al. In fact, with four simple words, Key has effectively demolished his own government’s insistence that child poverty has been reducing over the last six years. Crosby Textor’s spin doctors must have collectively moaned in despair when they read that comment.
From this point on, Key squirmed uncomfortably as he tried to wriggle out from this admission to the Sydney Morning Herald – including at one point revealing his frustration by  blurting out (@ 9.15),
“Lisa, don’t be silly!”
Owen persisted challenging Key as he tried to wiggle out of his SMH comments – but she would have none of it.
For possibly the first time since Stephen Sackur interviewed Key on Hard Talk in May, 2011, this was a moment when our Prime Minister faced serious hard questioning and was not allowed to wriggle his way out with nonsensical, glib answers.

Since Nicky Hager’s revelations and the sacking of Judith Collins, Key’s preternatural teflon-shield has been stripped away. He is now just another politician, and if by some miracle he successfully leads the next government post 20 September, he will find  his interactions with journalists becoming harder and harder.

It may not be what he says that lowers his esteem in the public eye. It will be the way he says it.

Lisa Owen was simply the first.

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References

TV3:  John Key – Minority government possible

Sydney Morning Herald: The Key factor

Youtube-BBC:  John Key on Hardtalk (Part 2)

Previous related blogposts

The Rise and Fall of John Key – who will be the next Leader of the National Party?

“Dirty Politics” – the fall-out continues


 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 September 2014

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It’s official: ACT’s Jamie Whyte is several-sandwiches-and-a-salad short of a picnic

19 September 2014 3 comments

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mad ACT tea party

 

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There aren’t very many times I agree wholeheartedly with our Dear Leader – but on this occassion I believe he spoke for those 99% of New Zealanders for whom common sense is as natural as breathing air.

ACT – with it’s long line of loopy leaders and coterie of strange MPs – has a record for saying and doing things that can best be described as “unwise” (in a Judith Collins sense of the word) – or just down-right Full Moon Barking Mad to be bluntly honest.

Case in point;

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Election 2014 - Act policy a 'recipe for disaster' - Key

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Whyte’s comments were further reported;

Dr Whyte said he had no view on what weapons shopkeepers should arm themselves with but believed firearms were appropriate, “if they felt that there was sufficient threat”.

Full. Moon. Barking. Mad.

When Whyte offered his views on incest on the blog,  “The Ruminator“, ACT’s opponants (and there are plenty of them); the MSM, and blogosphere reacted with disbelief, derision and exasperation.

Personally, I took it as the musings of an “philosopher-intellectual” who had spent way too much time isolated in dusty University halls and had only recently returned to Planet Earth to mingle with us mere humans.  Kind of akin to a left-wing Labour candidate musing out loud about enforced re-nationalisation of all privatised state assets,  or their National counterpart musing out loud about banning all trade unions. Definitely  stuff not meant for public consumption and best kept to one-self.

Except it appears that the incest gaffe was not an isolated incident, and Jamie Whyte’s insane suggestion to allow store owners to “bear arms”  now  confirms his reputation as someone whose grip on reality is questionable.

It was left up to the Prime Minister, New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores chairman, Roger Bull, and others, to inject some sanity into this American Gothic nightmare scenario that an ostensibly  sober Jamie Whyte was casually promoting as a new way of life.

Key pointed out the obvious;

“The reason I think it’s a bad idea is that firstly you’d be putting weapons in the hands of people that are not trained.

Those weapons could be used [against] the very shopkeepers themselves. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

And Roger Bull said matter-of-factly;

“Our policy has always been if there’s a robbery, you comply with the instructions of the person and you do not try to do anything quick or sudden because you don’t know the mental state [of the offender].

You comply and get them out of the way as quick as possible.”

Let me illustrate the type of  wacky-doodle idea that Whyte is flirting with.

Soon after the September 11 attacks, more than one individual – exhibiting a decidedly  dubious capacity for logic – suggested on several internet fora, that passengers be allowed  to carry guns on flights, to protect against further terrorist attacks.

Yeah. Because gunfights on aircraft flying at high altitudes, is just such an amazingly good idea! Add to the scenario of gun-packing passengers,  growing incidences of  alcohol-fuelled high-altititude  high-jinks, and the threat of hijacking becomes the least of our worries.

Take the same concept of people feeling threatened by random, high-profile crimes from 10,000 metres, and relocate it to West Auckland, and the only difference is the absence of the likelihood of explosive decompression when bullets miss their intended targets.

There is a disturbing bizarre pattern to Whyte’s pattern of “thinking”. Whether it is simplistic notions of removing the Resource Management Act or Three Strikes for burglary, his “solutions” are predicated on a naive, almost  black and white world-view, that is reminiscent of an adolescent who has yet  to come to terms with the complexities of society. Generally, pre-adolescent teenagers, when faced with pressing social issues and problems, will  arrive at simplistic, knee-jerk “solutions” based on little more than their own limited life-experiences.

For a supposedly mature, well-educated, worldly individual to express similar naive beliefs suggests that Whyte’s own intellectual development has been ‘arrested’ at some point in his youth and has not progressed to understanding that the world around him is a vastly  complex, messy, inter-twined mass of human threads. Tug on one thread, and there is no telling where that pressure will be exerted.

It does not take a genius to figure out what is wrong with the picture of allowing store owners to keep firearms for “self defence”.

Aside from how such weapons would be stored – under the counter? Easily stolen or picked up by kids. Locked away – then not much use to a store owner facing a robbery situation.

Or a gunfight in a store with other customers present – who else would be injured or killed?

Whyte obviously has not thought the issue through to it’s ultimate, deadly conclusion.  And if he has, and if he is simply exploiting the tragedy of  murdered shop-keepers for political gain to win votes – what does that make him?

I would be hard-pressed to work out which is worse; a parliamentary aspirant with a stupid idea that would most likely end up killing more innocent people?

Or a parliamentary aspirant with an idea that is exploitative of other people’s grief , just to win votes?

Even the right-wing, lock’em-up-throw-away-the-key, Sensible Sentencing spokesperson, Ruth Money, opposed “a crazy increase of firearms behind every counter“.

When even the so-called “Sensible Sentencing” recognise a patently lunatic proposal, you just know it’s a step too far into Wacky-doodle Land

Perhaps Whyte should have stuck with legalising  incest. After all, what’s the worst that can result from incest? Idiot people with idiot ideas?

 

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References

NZ Herald:  Act policy a ‘recipe for disaster’ – Key

The Ruminator: Mr Ryght: An interview with ACT leader: Jamie Whyte

Previous related blogposts

ACT leader, Jamie Whyte, refutes cliched stereotype of solo-mothers?

Letter to the Editor: A great business opportunity, courtesy of ACT

And this is why we call them Right Wing Nut Jobs


 

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 September 2014

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Letters to the Editor – Spies, Lies, Five Eyes, and other matters on a Sunday afternoon

19 September 2014 Leave a comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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Sharing a few thoughts and observations with newspaper editors around the country…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the Editor

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
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Our esteemed Prime Minister refers to visiting Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, as “Dotcom’s little henchman”.

Mr Key knows a thing about “henchmen”. Rightwing bloggers Cameron Slater and David Farrar spring to mind.

After all, Key admitted to being in regular contact with Slater, and ex-Minister Judith Collins fed the extremist blogger personal details of civil servants (and god knows who else).

What was that about “henchmen”, Mr Key?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Listener
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John Key claims that visiting internationally acclaimed, pulitizer-prize winning,  investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, is on Kim Dotcom’s payroll;

“Let’s understand what’s going on here. Kim Dotcom is paying Glenn Greenwald to come to New Zealand a week before an election and he’s trying to influence New Zealanders…”

Aside from the fact that Mr Greenwald rejects Key’s allegations outright – how would the Prime Minister know?

Has he or the GCSB been spying on Mr Greenwald?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Otago Daily Times

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It’s disappointing to see the number of National Party supporters who so casually dismiss the growing power of the State to spy on us; collect data on our communications; and – as Jason Ede, Judith Collins, and Paula Bennett showed – to mis-use our personal information for political ends.

For many John Key supporters, the phrase “nothing to hide” rolls easily of their keyboards as they post their naive views on various on-line fora.

The irony is that many of them then sign off with an anonymous pseudonym.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Waikato Times <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Waikato Times
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Our esteemed Prime Minister has employed the threat of “terrorists” in the past to frighten New Zealanders into accepting increased GCSB surveillance on our society.

The latest fear-threat is “cyber attacks” from off-shore, saying,

“Last weekend, Spark was brought to its knees because some people clicked on malware which brought the network down. Cyber risk is exponentially rising. This is about protecting secrets rather than getting secrets.”

Key has doggedly likened the GCSB to “a Norton anti-virus at a high level”, saying it works against malware.

I have anti-spyware and anti-malware on my computer, and (as far as I know), it’s function does not include spying on my activities, communications, movements, or contacts with other people.

Since when does malware protection demand surveillance over the entire population?

And why does he think we are gullible enough to believe it?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: The Press <letters@press.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Press

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Esteemed Prime Minister, John Key has contemptuosly dismissed pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald’s claims of mass surveillance by the GCSB. He insists,

“There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB and there never has been. Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

Are we to take Mr Key at his solemn word?

Is this the same solemn word where he recently dismissed another investigative journalist’s claims;

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

And,

“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. People can see this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

Seventeen days after the launch of “Dirty Politics” , Judith Collins was forced to resign from her ministerial portfolios.

Whenever an investigative journalist uncovers something unpleasant about Mr Key’s government it always seems to be the Prime Minister who comes off second best.

 

Why is that, I wonder?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

 

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Southland Times <editor@stl.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Southland Times
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Tribal politics appears to be a prime motivating reason for National supporters to be casually dismissive of concerns that the GCSB has been conducting mass surveillance and our esteemed Prime Minister has been less than upfront with the New Zealand public.

Key’s dogged dismissiveness of investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, reminds me of the PM’s equally dogged dismissiveness of Nickey Hager “Dirty Politics” expose, where Key categorically stated,

“Mr Hager’s making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct…  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. People can see this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

And yet, Hager’s expose resulted in the sacking/resignation of one minister and a current Inquiry into how the SIS released sensitive information to rightwing blogger and National Party activist, Cameron Slater.

In case National supporters are still dismissive of Glenn Greenwald’s revelations, they might care to ponder the fact that governments change. The same surveillance used by a National-led government can be conducted equally by a left-wing government against it’s right-wing opponants.

I suspect that may motivate National supporters to suddenly sit up and take a closer interest in these matters.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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That should give Dear Leader’s media spin doctors a few issues to deal with.

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References

Radio NZ: Revelations could cause ‘diplomatic blowback’

NZ Herald: He’s Dotcom’s little henchman: PM attacks journalist’s spy claims

NZ Herald: The GCSB does not conduct mass surveillance on Kiwis – Key

 


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dear-leader-is-watching

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 September 2014

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Frank Macskasy: Who I voted for…

18 September 2014 8 comments

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20-september

 

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On the road today, this news story caught my attention;

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Peters backs Davis in Te Tai Tokerau

 

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I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

This is a deliberate attempt by NZ First and elements within the Labour Party to undermine and destroy the Mana-Internet Alliance.

Which is utterly crazy, and beggars belief.

At current polling, if Hone wins his electorate, he could bring in one or two extra MPs on his “coat-tails”. (The rules as set by this National Government.)

If Labour loses to a National-led coalition by that slim margin – two or three seats – and we face another three years of this damnable regime, because of their unmitigated, self-serving, colossal stupidity,  I will be mightily f****d off.

I will hold the Labour leadership responsible.

And, by the gods, I will give them such grief that Slater and Farrar will be the least of their worries.

This little dirty deal between Labour and NZ First has sealed my Party Vote. I encourage everyone to vote, and I offer my personal endorsement for  the Mana-Internet Alliance.

And Winston  Peters, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, et al,  can go kiss my well-padded, hairy [Anatomical description deleted on good taste grounds – Chief Censor, GCSB]!

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References

Radio NZ: Peters backs Davis in Te Tai Tokerau

Previous related blogpost

The secret of National’s success – revealed.

 

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Harre -Harawira

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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September 15 RNZ interviews – and then the Moment of Truth

18 September 2014 Leave a comment

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GCSB- Key - I think they're onto us

Acknowledgement: Emmerson

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15 September – Leading up to the Moment of Truth public meeting this evening, these Radio NZ interviews are worth listening to;

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PM defends stance on GCSB, dismisses Dotcom - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Journalist promises to reveal mass surveillance by GCSB  - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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PM considers releasing classified documents on GCSB  - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Intelligence analyst on Glenn Greenwald's GCSB revelations  - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Glenn Greenwald on extent of GCSB mass surveillance  - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Politics with Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton 15 Sept 2014  - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Email and spy claims land on campaigning Key   - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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More on mass surveillance claims from an IT investigator    - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Southern Cross undersea cables is rejecting claims   - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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Latest Dotcom revelations under scrutiny    - radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

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difference between mass protection and surveillance- radio nz - glenn greenwald - 15 september 2014

Alt link

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And finally, the Moment of Truth…

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(Scroll forward to where it begins at 21′ 54″)

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Additional

Radio NZ: Key & Dotcom – the story so far (Time Line)

 


 

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dear-leader-is-watching

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 September 2014

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Katherine Rich – resign!

16 September 2014 2 comments

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I reprint the following from the Herald, in full, as I believe it tells the story better than I could;

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Wendyl Nissen - Tuning out - Dirty Politics and the blogs

I don’t usually write columns about politics but I’m going to talk about smear campaigns and conflict because it involves me.

As you may know I write a column called Wendyl Wants to Know in the Weekend Herald every Saturday which looks at what is in processed food.

Most of the time the findings are not very good and involve additives or high sugar and salt levels you wouldn’t want near your family. Other times I am pleasantly surprised to find a producer making genuinely healthy food.

Earlier this year I was on the receiving end of a concerted effort, including legal letters, to get me discredited through my bosses at the Herald.

The person behind it was Katherine Rich, the chief executive of the Food & Grocery Council, which represents companies who produce soft drinks and processed foods, some of which I have written about.

According to their website, the “FGC promotes the role the industry plays in the health and nutrition of New Zealanders in making better diet and lifestyle choices”.

The management board includes representation from Nestle, Frucor and Mars NZ. Katherine was objecting to my role in highlighting many of the artificial colours commonly used in soft drinks and processed foods and the fact many had been banned in other countries.

Fortunately I work for editors who dislike bullying and I felt very supported by them. We dealt with the complaints to her satisfaction, I thought.

After that I noticed that right-wing bloggers Whale Oil (Cameron Slater) and Cactus Kate (Cathy Odgers) appeared to have begun a smear campaign against me. I haven’t read any of the blogs but I was alerted to them and their subject matter.

Please do me a favour and don’t go searching on the site for them. I believe they are invented to discredit me and if you click on them you’ll just give them the satisfaction that they are being read.

Since then the book Dirty Politics has been released and there are now allegations that these bloggers were paid money to conduct smear campaigns against people disliked by their clients. One of those clients is alleged to be Katherine Rich.

The regularity of the posts against me makes me think that someone had paid for them. Why else would they bother smearing someone who simply writes a few columns about healthy living when, according to Dirty Politics, they had much bigger fish to fry? I can’t prove this, I can’t say who might have paid for them and I will probably never know.

It has also been revealed that Katherine, while campaigning for the rights of food producers to put unhealthy additives in their food, was also on the government-funded Health Promotion Agency board – an agency designed to work for the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. The conflict of interest is so alarming that a group of 33 scientists and health practitioners signed a letter to John Key asking him to investigate.

I spend every day working for a better life for New Zealanders. I run a business which makes environmentally friendly natural cleaners and I give the recipes away for free; I write a weekly newsletter helping more than 11,000 people discover better, more natural ways to live; I write a column in the Woman’s Weekly with recipes and hints to live a greener life; and in the Herald I try to alert readers to foods which are too high in sugar or salt and contain additives which in many countries are banned for health reasons but are still used here. I wouldn’t have thought that these contributions were reason for a smear campaign.

Last week I resigned from my regular Friday morning slot on NewstalkZB, which I have been doing for 15 years, because I didn’t want to be on the same platform as Cameron Slater, another commentator on the station, while there are allegations that his views involve cash for comment.

I’m all for free speech when there are genuinely held views, but I believe that if you are paid to express them by big industry or politicians with an agenda, that is not fair.

Over the years I have been writing Wendyl Wants to Know for the Herald, I have been offered many incentives to write nice things about processed foods for food producers. I have turned them all down because my readers have to trust me. Objectivity is the first rule of journalism.

A friend said “this can’t be the New Zealand we know”, and I agree. As my husband says, “we need to be on the side of the angels”, and I try very hard to be.

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This blogger adds his voice to calls for Katherine Rich to resign.

Her activities and association with Cameron Slater makes her position on either the Food & Grocery Council or Health Promotion Agency  no longer tenable.

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Additional

TVNZ: Katherine Rich stands firm against calls to resign

NZ Herald: PR men say Dirty Politics claims don’t hurt

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: A brief word on why Wendyl Nissen is a hero

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It’s time for Key to go!

16 September 2014 Leave a comment

Key – it’s time to resign!

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John Key Resign

 

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John Key is no longer fit to lead this country.

Sign the petition. Tell him it’s time to go!

Sign Here

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

Political joke of the week…

16 September 2014 Leave a comment

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NEWSFLASH: Dotcom email almost certainly a fake, says handwriting expert hired by the National party!

 

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The Donghua Liu Affair: The OIA Gambit

16 September 2014 5 comments

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composite header - donghua Liu Affair.

– Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules’

What appears to be an orchestrated  Beehive plot to dig dirt for throwing at Labour leader, David Cunliffe, ahead of a crucial parliamentary debate is revealed in a paper trail linking Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, and the Parliamentary Press Gallery offices of the New Zealand Herald and TV3.

Hatched in National’s anticipation of a hammering in a debate on Wednesday 18 June (note the date) prompted by the resignation of ACT leader, John Banks, the plot was pivotal on having Cunliffe first deny helping Auckland businessman Donghua Liu with his residency application – before producing an eleven-year-old letter from Immigration’s files as proof that the Opposition leader was either a liar or had suffered serious brain fade.

On its own, the letter was innocuous. A routine inquiry seeking an estimate of the time required to process the application, the letter was signed by Cunliffe as the MP for New Lynn and dated 11 April 2003. It sat in a file until May 9 this year when Immigration officials in Visa Services began working on an Official Information Act (OIA) request received the previous day from the Herald’s investigations editor, Jared Savage – and subsequently declined;

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jared savage OIA request 8 may 2014 declined

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Savage’s OIA request resulted only in the release of  a brief, and somewhat pointless, Media Response to Radio NZ, dated 13 March 2014. This sole document gave a date when Donghua Liu’s business migration application was approved, and referred to a previous application being declined;

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radio nz 13 march 2014 immigration nz

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All other material was denied to him, ostensibly under privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, John Key’s Chief of Staff,  Wayne Eagleson, confirmed  that the Prime Minister’s office was made aware of the existence of the letter on the weekend of the 10th/11th May of this year;

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3 july 2014 - wayne eagleson - donghua liu - prime minister's office - OIA request

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Although deciding to withhold the whole file, including the letter, under the privacy clause in Section 9(2)(a) of the OIA, Visa Services sat on their response until, without any obvious reason, they advised Savage of their decision first-thing on the morning of Monday 16 June. Four hours later, on the same Monday, Savage emailed a fresh, more specific “Urgent OIA Request” for correspondence from MPs supporting Donghua Liu’s residency bid prior to 2005.

Jared Savage confirmed this to me in an email, on 17 July;

I initially asked for his entire residency file under the OIA on May 8. I note that the next day Minister Woodhouse asked for the file.

I was declined the entire file on privacy grounds on June 16. As I was really only interested in whether MPs were involved in his residency bid, I refined my request to ask for any correspondence from MPs because this is clearly in the public interest.

I specifically mentioned prior to 2005 because this is when Mr Liu was granted residency, against advice. There would not be any correspondence after he gained residency.

Unfortunately, it was clumsily worded because Immigration officials interpreted the word prior to exclude 2005 in the response. I then lodged a further OIA request which revealed Mr O’Connor intervened 3 times in the lead up to residency being granted – including waiving the English language criteria – the day before the 2005 election.

[…]

Coming back to the June 16 request, two days later, I received the letters. I have no idea why Immigration released it so quickly. Probably because they had already processed my earlier request of June 16 so the file was available, but you’d have to ask Immigration.

Savage’s OIA request on 16 June;

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jared savage OIA request 16 june 2014

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Savage received this response two days later, on 18 June – and this time his request was treated more favourably;

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Immigration NZ - letter to jarerd savage - nz herald - donghua liu - 18  June 2014

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The timing of the above release is critical to this Affair.

A similar request followed an hour later at 2.11PM, on the same day (Monday), from Brook Sabin, TV3 political reporter and son of National MP, Mike Sabin;

“Hello,

We’d like to know if any Labour MPs lobbied for Donghua Liu’s residency application back in 2005?

Also, can we please request under the OIA:

All briefing notes, correspondence and emails regarding Donghua Liu’s residency applications

Cheers”

Both requests were sent straight to the “OIA team” for processing.

The next morning, on Tuesday, at a media briefing on Labour’s Kiwisaver policy, Sabin’s TV3 gallery colleague, Tova O’Brien, asked Cunliffe four questions about his relationship with Donghua Liu. A transcript of the exchange (below) was published the next day (Wednesday) in identical format in several places simultaneously with the released letter, and was used by two National ministers to attack Cunliffe in the debating chamber that afternoon.

This was David Cunliffe’s Q & A to reporters on Tuesday 17 June – broadcast the following day  on Wednesday 18 June. Again, the dates are critical;

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Does Labour remain confident in Cunliffe - donghua liu - TV3 - Tova O'Brien

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Q: Do you recall ever meeting Liu?
A: I don’t recall ever meeting him, no.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you advocate on his behalf at all?
A: Nope.
Q:Were you aware of any advice against granting him permanent residency?
A: Not to my recollection.

Those questions – whether   audio, video, or written,   were generally not available until Wednesday.

On Wednesday,  Cunliffe was confronted by the press gallery (Ibid) on his way to the chamber and accused several times of having lied the previous day. Just half an hour after being given a copy of the letter, which he’d forgotten about, and possibly underestimating its value to his opponents, the Opposition leader continued to insist that he never supported or advocated for Liu’s residency.

He eventually had to leave to ask the first question of the day which is to Bill English who is naturally keen to exploit the opportunity to dent Cunliffe’s credibility,

“I find it a lot easier to stand by my statements than that member does to stand by his . . . that member has been remarkably inconsistent (about donations) . . . that member, who seems to have trouble agreeing with himself.”

English then led National in the weekly general debate. “The reasons no one trusts him (Cunliffe) is this” he says before quoting directly from the transcript of TV3’s questions and answers on Tuesday. “Today, of course,” he continues, “we have the letter that he wrote advocating exactly for his permanent residency.”

Also quoting directly from the transcript, Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, added an intriguing reference to a second letter, from Labour’s Te Atatu MP, Chris Carter.

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michael woodhouse -immigration minister - oia request - donghua liu - david cunliffe - 7 july 2014 - (7)

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Released by his office at the same time as Cunliffe’s it was totally overlooked by the media in their rush to crucify the Labour leader.

Immigration Minister Woodhouse said;

“But do you know what? He (Cunliffe) is not alone.”

The Immigration Minister then quoted from the Carter letter, sent five month’s prior to Cunliffe’s, seeking “any consideration that could be given to expediting” Liu’s residency application and reporting that he had deposited $3 million in a bank account with a view to purchasing a building for redevelopment.

The fact that the letter identified the bank as the ASB in Auckland did not deter Woodhouse from getting in a cheap shot. “I hope it was not the Labour Party’s bank account,” he said, concluding:

“That was Mr Chris Carter, on behalf of Mr Dongua Liu. In fact, the letter was from Carter’s electorate agent and begins, like the Cunliffe letter, “I have been approached by a local constituent . . .”

Woodhouse was followed in the debate by Health Minister, Tony Ryall, who also spent most of his five-minute speech attacking the Opposition leader;

“So here is Mr Cunliffe, who only a few hours ago denied he had ever met Mr Liu and said the Labour Party never got any donations from Mr Liu. And here we have today a letter from Mr Cunliffe making representations on behalf of Mr Liu. It is just not consistent with what he has been saying previously. It is hugely embarrassing for Mr Cunliffe and for the Labour Party.”

Joining his frontbench colleagues, National’s Paul Goldsmith, said Labour Party members were “hanging their heads in shame.” He added;

“It is very interesting to see John Armstrong and many of the commentators saying right now, right here today, that Mr Cunliffe is in deep trouble and Labour is in deep trouble. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Thank you.”

Goldsmith was referring to the Herald’s political correspondent, John Armstrong’s column, that Cunliffe might have to resign, a piece (see below) consequently judged by many to be totally over the top. Unsurprisingly, many have called for Armstrong’s retirement.

The plan by National ministers to embarrass Cunliffe and to deflect from a potentially damaging debate on Wednesday however became derailed when the timing of the OIA releases went unpredictably awry.

The office of the Leader of the Labour Party was first advised of the planned OIA release of the two letters (Chris Carter’s 3 October 2002 and David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003) at 12.10PM on Wednesday 18 June;

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michael woodhouse -immigration minister - oia request - donghua liu - david cunliffe - 7 july 2014 - (9)

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Ostensibly, the OIA public release was to take place one hour later.

Instead, the OIA release to Jared Savage took place only  thirty-nine minutes later, at 12.49PM;

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release of OIA to Jared Savage covering email 18 june 2014

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Sabin’s story appeared on TV3’s website at 12.53pm – four minutes after the OIA release was emailed to Jared Savage, and by Cameron Slater on his Whale Oil blog, eight minutes later,  at 12.57PM;

 

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Brooke Sabin - TV3 - cunliffe's links to liu - donghua liu affair

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whaleoil - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair

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Another three minutes passed before John Armstrong declared Cunliffe to be “in deep political trouble; so deep that his resignation as Labour’s leader may now be very much in order”. It is possible that Armstrong was relying on the copy attached to the response to TV3’s OIA request, sent to the Minister at 12.30PM and presumably released directly from his office to Brook Sabin.

However, there is no documentation to that effect. So when and how did Brook Sabin obtain copies of David Cunliffe’s 11 April 2003 letter? It appears to have been released without the necessary “paper trail” as Emily Fabling, Executive Director of Immigration NZ stated at 1.31PM on 18 June, when referring to Savage’s OIA request;

“I have advised that the process [of releasing the information under the OIA request]  is consistent with our usual procedures and the Act, we have had legal advice and understand the political sensitivity and complexity, and a discoverable paper trail, if required.”

Armstrong’s column was published at 1PM – just eleven minutes after Visa Services emailed a copy of the letter at 12.49PM to Jared Savage;

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John Armstrong - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair - nz herald story header

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Kiwiblog published it’s story at 1.06PM;

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Kiwiblog - Cunliffe's resignation may be in order - donghua liu affair

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Some very tight time frames involved in writing media and blog reports after the 12.49PM OIA release.

In several cases the time-frames were simply unfeasibly tight to receive; digest; write up meaningful stories; proof-read; check legalities; and upload them onto websites.

Now here is where the timing of the OIA releases and blog/media stories appearing takes a very strange twist.

As detailed above Cameron Slater (or someone purporting to be writing under his name) wrote this piece on his blog Whaleoil at 12.57PM;

Jared Savage reports:

David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe – who said this week he had never met Donghua Liu or advocated on his behalf – wrote a letter to immigration officials on behalf of the controversial businessman who was applying for residency in New Zealand.

And mentioned above, at   1:06PM on Wednesday 18 June David Farrar wrote on Kiwiblog;

The Herald reports Cunliffe’s earlier denials on Tuesday:

Q: Do you recall ever meeting Liu?
A: I don’t recall ever meeting him, no.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you advocate on his behalf at all?
A: Nope.
Q:Were you aware of any advice against granting him permanent residency?
A: Not to my recollection.

Both refer to Jared Savage’s story in the NZ Herald, centering on the release of the David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter.

Except that Savage’s on-line story was not due to appear until 2.29PM;

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David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu's residency bid

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So how did Slater and Farrar manage to refer to a story in their blogposts that had yet to be written and uploaded onto the NZ Herald website?

Ruling out time travel, there may be a very simple answer;

  • As was outlined above by Wayne Eagleson, the government was aware of Cunliffe’s letter as early as 10/11 May 2014.
  • An OIA request by Jared Savage was first declined – then expedited in almost a panic, in two days by Immigration NZ.
  • Brook Sabin lodged a similar OIA request to Jared Savage. He appears to have received the information he requested – without a corresponding paper trail.
  • Two right wing bloggers closely associated with National ministers, and who have been fed sensitive information in recent past, published blogposts referring to Jared Savage’s article – before that article was uploaded onto the Herald website.
  • In a released email, Cameron Slater admitted to a close working relationship with Herald reporter, Jared Savage;

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slater email

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And where did this jpeg of Tova O’Brien’s questioning to David Cunliffe – and ending up on Whaleoil – come from;

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werwe2

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Quite simply, the relationship and flow of information is a two-way process; journalists are constantly feeding information to Slater/Whaleoil (and to a lesser degree, Farrar/Kiwiblog).

It seems evident that Whaleoil and Kiwiblog jumped the gun in publishing their blog-stories, not waiting for Savage to first upload his on the Herald’s website. The result ended up with Farrar and Slater referencing Savage’s story that was still in the “future”.

As revealed with startling clarity in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“,  the government is not above using right wing bloggers to release damaging information or mount smear campaigns against Opposition MPs in Parliament.

The media, always reluctant to admit mistakes for fear of denting their own credibility, were more than happy to carry on with the line that Cunliffe’s letter was “proof” of Labour’s links to Donghua Liu. And keen to help in any way he could, the Prime Minister, John Key, continued to hint that he knew more about Liu’s claims to have made donations to the Labour Party.

Next morning, the Herald’s political editor, Audrey Young, reported from New York that,

“Prime Minister John Key believes the (sic) Labour has a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu. He also acknowledged he had known for some weeks that Labour leader David (sic) has written a letter supporting Mr Liu’s application for residency. The release of the letter yesterday in the face of denials from Mr Cunliffe that he wrote any such letter has thrown his leadership into crisis.”

Key’s admission that he had already known about the letter prompted three different and conflicting accounts from Woodhouse in response to questions about how and when he’d informed his prime minister about its existence.

As well as providing a fine working model of the media’s bias against Labour and the woeful state of the parliamentary press gallery, the handling of the Savage and Sabin OIA requests by the Immigration Service and its Minister raises some interesting questions:

1. Who told Visa Services to respond to Jared Savage’s May 8 request at 8.59am on Monday 16 June?

2. Who told Savage to make a fresh, more specific request, the same morning and copy it to the minister’s press secretary?

3. Who told Sabin to put in a request on June 16?

4. Who told Tova O’Brien to ask those questions on Tuesday 17 June?

5. Who made the transcript of the questions and answers and how was it circulated?

6. After deciding to withhold the Cunliffe letter for privacy reasons, why was it released so quickly and without any further discussion of the privacy aspect?

7. It took the minister less than 20 minutes to approve the release of the Cunliffe and Carter letters. Is this a record?

8. How was it possible for the letter to be published in so many places so quickly?

If you still don’t think there was something fishy going on, turn to page 131 of ‘Dirty Politics‘ where Nicky Hager records a comment on the ‘Dim-Post’ from “Barnsley Bill” (aka Cameron Slater acolyte, Russell Beaumont) responding to a Danyl McLauchlan blog about opinion polls:

“Within 24 hours the poll are going to be the least of David Cunliffes problems. Keep an eye on the herald website, we are about to see pledge card theft relegated to second place as the biggest labour funding scandal.”

That was posted at 10.21AM on Tuesday 17 June — the morning that Tova O’Brien asked her questions and Immigration officials were racing round getting responses to the Savage and Sabin OIA requests ready to send to the Minister for approval prior to release.

What is certain is that the real reason for the urgent 48-hour response to the OIA requests was to ensure that the Cunliffe letter was in the public domain by midday on Wednesday 18 June.

The same day that the government was facing a torrid questioning by the Opposition after the conviction and resignation of ACT MP, John Banks. A government that desperately needed a credible diversion. Relying on another beneficiary-bashing story from Paula Bennett was simply not tenable.

This was the a Dirty Trick of the highest order, involving an eleven year old letter; complicit media looking for another  easy sensational news story; Ministers with connections to right wing bloggers; and journalists who run with the pack instead of asking questions that might yield real answers.

As they say in law enforcement circles; Motive. Means. Opportunity.

The government had all three.

This was the real story behind the Donghua Liu Affair.

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Note

Questions on this issue have been put to Herald journalist, Jared Savage. Thus far he has declined to answer those questions.

Acknowledgement

Appreciation to ‘Hercules‘ for providing extra information and filling in the gaps. This was truly a team effort.

Update

Giovanni Tisa, through the blogger Jackal, asks some very pertinent questions here.

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References

David Cunliffe-Immigration NZ 2003 letter

The Dim Post:  June polls (“Barnsley Bill” Commen

TV3: Does Labour remain confident in Cunliffe?

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

TV3: Cunliffe’s links to Liu

Whaleoil: BREAKING – David Cunliffe’s career, such as it was, is over [ UPDATED ]

Kiwiblog: Cunliffe wrote on behalf of Liu after denying he knew him or advocated for him

NZ Herald: David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid

NZ Herald: The email that brought down Judith Collins

NZ Herald: Key on Liu-Labour link – More to come

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair:  Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

The Donghua Liu Affair: The first step to a complaint to the Press Council

The Donghua Liu Affair: responses from NZ Herald and Prime Minister’s Office – Is the PM’s office fudging?

The Donghua Liu Affair: Evidence of Collusion between the NZ Herald and Immigration NZ?

The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision

Other Blogs

The Standard: The Donghua Liu letter – is that it?

The Standard: Giovanni Tiso on Dirty Politics

The Jackal: 10 questions for journalists

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 September 2014 as “Was the Donghua Liu Affair another example of Dirty Politics?”

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Letter to the Editor – Key makes up any old sh*t, again

16 September 2014 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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From a Fairfax story on 13 September, about visiting investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald,

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Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

 

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It was time to take Key to task on his lying BS…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Sat, Sep 13, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post
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Key recently alleged;

“Lets understand what’s going on here; Kim Dotcom is paying Glenn Greenwald to come to New Zealand a week before an election and he’s trying to influence New Zealanders. The problem is, he’s got the story wrong.”  

Only problem (for Key) is that Greenwald has rejected the PM’s claims, and stated categorically that he has  not been paid by Kim Dotcom, nor anyone else. If he has, Key has not provided any evidence to support his allegations.

Once again, our esteemed prime Minister has been loose with the facts and appears to be making stuff up as he goes along, hoping no one will notice.

It is hard to understand why Key expects people to believe him when he throws unsubstantiated allegations all over the place.

On 13 August, when Nicky Hager released his expose on Dirty Politics surrounding the Beehive Ninth Floor, Cameron Slater, Judith Collins, and other sundry dubious characters,  Key casually dismissed it;

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

Seventeen day later, Judith Collins was forced to resign her ministerial portfolios.

If anyone is “making claims they can’t back up and are not factually correct”, it appears to be the Prime Minister.

-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Fairfax media:  Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Welcome to Glenn Greenwald…

13 September 2014 1 comment

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My welcome to visiting journalist, Glenn Greenwald;

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Tweet to Glenn Greenwald - GCSB- 13 september 2009

 

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Key’s comments to this man have been nothing less than shameful.This is how our Prime Minister deals to journalists he can’t control or manipulate;

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Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

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So much for our PM also being Minister for Tourism!

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References

Twitter: Welcome to Glenn Greenwald

Fairfax media: Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Dom Post journos get it wrong – again!

13 September 2014 4 comments

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Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

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Yet again, journalists who are experienced, professional, and supposedly well-informed have made a mistake about the pre-amended GCSB Bill.  From the above  article written by  Tracy Watkins, Stacey Kirk, and Michael Fox stated,

The Government changed the law in the wake of revelations the GCSB may have spied illegally on more than 80 New Zealanders.

The law at that time supposedly prohibited them from doing so.

“Supposedly”?!

One. More. Time.

The GCSB Act 2003 was very specific in restricting the Bureau from spying on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.  Section 14 of the Act stated with unambiguous, crystal  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.

The law at the time could not have been any clearer. (Unless it was written in big red crayons!)

Key’s Official Party Line that the GCSB Act 2003 was “vague” or “flawed” was accepted almost without question by many journos too lazy to actually get on the internet and look up the law (as it stood at the time) for themselves.

There were exceptions though.

Audrey Young from the NZ Herald knew the Act very well, and said so in no uncertain terms;

The GCSB Act 2003 expressly forbids it from spying on the communications of New Zealanders.

But, by a series of snakes and ladders through the stated functions and objectives of the act, it convinced itself it was allowed to help the SIS and police spy on New Zealanders.

Another journo was Tracy Watkins from the Dominion Post;

“The GCSB’s interpretation of the law was so loose it managed to spy on 88 New Zealanders even though the law specifically stated it was not allowed to do so.”

The same Tracy Watkins who put her name to the more recent story above,  “Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald” which suggested “the law at that time supposedly prohibited them from doing so”.

I can only assume Ms Watkins did not read that part of the story before putting her name to it.

Sloppy work.

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References

Fairfax media:  Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

NZ Herald:  Spying on NZ: More power to watch us

Dominion Post:  Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

Audrey Young on the GCSB

 


 

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nikki kaye jacinda ardern GCSB bill spying

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Nothing to hide, eh?

13 September 2014 Leave a comment

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spying

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From today’s Fairfax report on the visit of world-renowned investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, and Key’s abuse thrown at the man, there were 712 comments posted, before Fairfax closed posting.

A few of the comments were by John Key’s fanboys, like this muppet;

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Mark000007

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Who noticed something laughable about Mark000007‘s post?

Check out his first two sentences,

“I really wouldn’t care if the government is ‘spying’ on me, I’ve got nothing to hide”

Nothing to hide, eh?

 

I wonder if that’s why he uses a pseudonym?

 

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References

Fairfax media:  Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

Previous related blogposts

The Growth of State Power; mass surveillance; and it’s supporters


 

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1548008_1410771225835661_183288916_o

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Letter to the Editor – Our PM insults a world-reknowned investigative journalist

13 September 2014 6 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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Our esteemed Dear Leader must be in full panic mode when he insults a visiting investigative journalist of the calibre of Glenn Greenwald;

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Radio NZ - PM says Greenwald's claims are wrong - GCSB - mass surveillance - Glenn Greenwald

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Key went on to say,

“When you hack into people’s information and you steal it, sometimes you get part of the information but not all of the information.

Now, in the fullness of time we’ll respond to Dotcom’s little henchman, but mark my words, he’s wrong. There never has been mass surveillance and there is no mass surveillance.”

Which prompted me to pen this letter to the New Zealand Herald;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: Sat, Sep 13, 2014
subject: Letter to the Editor

 

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The editor
NZ Herald
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John Key is becoming more Muldoonesque with each erupting scandal. His latest attack on visiting American investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, is simply beyond the pale.

Key says,“Now, in the fullness of time we’ll respond to Dotcom’s little henchman, but mark my words, he’s wrong. There never has been mass surveillance and there is no mass surveillance.”

Since when in a visiting journalist anybody’s “henchman”?

This is not the first time Key has abused investigative journalists who have uncovered unpleasant activities by this current government.

In May 2011,John Key derided Jon Stephenson’s research into NZ secret  activities in Afghanistan by attacking the journalists’ reputation and character;

“I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

In September 2011, Key attacked another investigative journalist, Nicky Hager, for his expose on  New Zealand’s covert military activities, in conjunction with the CIA,  in Afghanistan.

John Key dismissed Hager’s book;“I don’t have time to read fiction,”

That “fiction” Key referred to contained 1,300 footnotes of referencing documentation in Hager’s book.

In August this year, Key again attacked  Nicky Hager, for his expose in dirty dealings between Key’s office, a right-wing blogger, Judith Collins, and other right-wing extremists. Key was again dismissive;

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

And,
“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. People can see this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

If Hager’s book was “factually incorrect” and little more than a “smear campaign” – one has to ask the PM what prompted Judith Collins to resign 17 days after the launch of “Dirty Politics” and all it revealed?

John Key’s track record of transparency with the public has left much to be desired and attacking journalists who dare speak the truth says more about the PM’s character than the targets of his unwarranted attacks.

Thus far, Jon Stephenson, Nicky Hager, and Glenn Greenwald have a better track record at telling the truth than Mr Key.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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Every time Key behaves like this, whether it be with Nicky Hager, Jon Stephenson, or now Glenn Greenwald, he is abandoning his elevated position of a non-political Prime Minister and becoming just another politician in the eyes of the public.

Key will lose popularity.

National will lose support in the polls.

And National will lose on 20 September.

More importantly – is this the kind of sleazy government that Winston Peters wants to associate with after 20 September?  Because there is much, much more to come out.

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References

Radio NZ:  PM says Greenwald’s claims are wrong

NZ Herald: PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims

NZ City: John Key trashes Nicky Hager’s book

Radio NZ: Prime Minister stands by minister and staff

Previous related blogposts

The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

Other blogs

The Standard: Greenwald on the GCSB

The Paepae: John Key working the phones “at length”

The Daily Blog: Where does Key get off abusing a Pulitzer prize winning Journalist like Glenn Greenwald when he calls a far right hate speech blogger regularly?

The Daily Blog: Dear mainstream media – regarding Key’s promise to resign if GCSB exposed doing mass surveillance

Special mention

The Jackal: John Key Naked

 


 

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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 – A Claytons Capital Gains Tax?

13 September 2014 3 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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letter to the editor, Rob Fagan, Dominion Post

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Sat, Sep 13, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor 

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The Editor
Dominion Post
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In referring to a capital gains tax, Rob Fagan claims “that we already have one” (letters, 11 Sept).

This would be news to the IRD which states, in fairly plain english that, “New Zealand does not have a capital gains tax” on it’s page ” Moving to New Zealand permanently – Holding or disposing of shares”.

Mr Fagan might advise if there are any other taxes Inland Revenue isn’t aware of.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

 

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References

Dominion Post: Editorial –  Capital gains tax still a smart idea

IRD:  Moving to New Zealand permanently – Holding or disposing of shares


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Polls, propaganda, and Tracy Watkins

12 September 2014 2 comments

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Fairfax media - if you think, the bolsheviks win

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1. A bit of personal history…

Since I became more and more politically active, part of the growth of my political consciousness was an awareness that the media – whether print or electronic – was not always a clear reflection of what really was happening.

The first time I became starkly aware of the disconnect between a media story and reality was in 1989, when an associate and I made a submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Classifications Bill. The Bill was aimed at replacing the old, antiquated Censorship Act.

There were some aspects of the Bill which we took exception to (from a liberal viewpoint) and we put together a submission, and requested an opportunity for a supporting oral submission.

We were due to ‘appear’ near the end of the day, and thus had an interesting opportunity to listen to all the submissions made by various groups, organisations, and individuals. Submitters ranged from the Nurses Organisation; Film Directors Association,  NZ Law Society, etc.

I took note of the tenor of each submitter, and it was roughly 50/50 toward strengthening the proposed Classifications Act or liberalising it.

The following morning, the Dominion featured two stories on two submitters – both from the “pro-censorship” camp.

A critical submission from the NZ Law Society, regarding an aspect of the Bill which they deemed to be fatally flawed, was not reported. Neither did the Dominion report an astounding comment by then-MP, Trevor Rogers, who threatened to “change officials of the Courts” who could not, would not, implement the new law, whether flawed or not.

Had I not attended the Select Committee hearing personally, I would have assumed that all submissions were of a similar nature; would not have been aware of opposing views; would have been unaware of the Law Society’s views; and been oblivious to a Member of Parliament threatening to interfere with the judicial system of this country.

After 25 years, the incident remains vividly clear in my memory.

That was my very first lesson – not just in Select Committees – but media (mis-)reporting.

Since I began this blogging lark in July 2011,  I have found no reason to lessen my wariness of  media reporting, accuracy, and fairness. In fact, sadly, quite the opposite.

2. Once upon a time, in a fairy-tale land called Fairfax Media…

So begins this analysis of a recent Fairfax-Ipsos Poll which, upon closer scrutiny, is a fantasy lifted straight from the pages of Brothers Grimm.

A very recent  Ipsos poll was taken over a five day period, starting from Saturday, 30 August – the day of Judith Collins’ resignation from her ministerial portfolios (though not from Parliament itself).

The results, as a graphic;

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Fairfax poll - november 2011

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The infographic shows National at 54% and the Labour-Green bloc at 38%.

Right?

Wrong.

The above poll infographic was taken from a Research International poll, commissioned also by Fairfax Media – and released on 23 November, 2011three days before the General Election, three years ago.

The actual current, September 2014  poll results from Fairfax and it’s “newly” commissioned polling agent, Ipsos;

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Fairfax poll - september 2014

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Compare the two polls above.

Two “different” polls. Two different polling companies. Three years apart. Almost exactly same figures.

Now let’s chuck in the actual election results for the 2011 Election;

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2011 poll - 2014 poll- fairfax - 2011 general election

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In the 2011 poll,  Fairfax’s polling agent over-estimated National’s support by a staggering 6.69 percentage points – well outside the stated margin of error  by Research International (3.1%).

Considering that other mainstream polling companies have National ranging from 45% (Roy Morgan) to 46.4% (NZ Herald-Digipoll and TV3 News) to 50% (TVNZ News), it could be safely argued that the Fairfax-Ipsos results are in Wacky-Doodle Land.

The figures are not only dubious – but Fairfax buries an important fact;

The undecided vote remained steady at 13 per cent, which is higher than in some other polls. [my emphasis]

That statement is buried near the bottom of Vernon Small’s article, “National soars without Collins – poll“.

Incredibly, Small then adds – almost seemingly as an after-thought;

Benson said if Ipsos included those who said they were undecided, but when pressed were leaning towards a particular party, that number dropped to about 7 per cent and saw National’s vote come in about 2 percentage points lower.

Anything else we need to know, Vernon?!

The problem here is not just Fairfax presenting dodgy polling figures over two consecutive election periods – but the fact that Vernon Small, who wrote a story covering the poll,  was thoroughly accepting of the results – and made no effort to question the veracity of the figures. Some  comments from Small;

Two weeks out from the election National’s popularity has soared after the dumping of justice minister Judith Collins, putting John Key on course for a thumping victory on the evidence of a new Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll.

[…]

Assuming all the small parties hold their current seats, but independent Brendan Horan is not returned, National would have a dominant 70 seat bloc in a 125 seat Parliament.

Small also quoted Ipsos pollster Matt Benson without any real critical analysis;

Ipsos pollster Matt Benson said the poll followed the first televised leaders’ debate and straddled the resignation of Collins.  ‘‘Despite a difficult week for National the poll shows support rise for the National Party, and John Key as preferred PM has also increased to 51.7 percent.’’ 

He said the rise may have been caused by wavering voters, uncomfortable with Collins, swinging in behind Key for finally taking action against her.

In no way could this poll and associated story be considered critical political analysis or news in the traditional sense.

Little wonder that, after only ten comments, Fairfax closed down posting on it’s comments section, at the end of Small’s article;

* Comments are now closed on this story.

– Stuff

The criticism of Fairfax must have been excoriating!

The problem here, as I see it;

Firstly, Ipsos is paid by Fairfax to conduct it’s polling.

Therefore, Fairfax has an inherent, undeclared financial interest in the source of  “story”. Fairfax is not reporting on a story from the point of view of an impartial, disinterested party. They have a vested, commercial stake in promoting Ipsos’ findings.

As such Fairfax would be as critical of Ipsos as the Editor of the Dominion Post would commission an investigative piece on sub-editors being made redundant from his own newspaper (the redundancies happened – the story reporting  the event never materialised).

In fairness, it should be pointed out that Fairfax is by no means unique in this obvious conflict of interest. The NZ Herald, TVNZ, and TV3 all have their own contracted pollsters. None of them will question the accuracy of their respective polling agents.

Secondly, because Fairfax (and other media) have a vested interest with their respective pollsters, they are locked in to using that sole company as a source for polling “news”. Hence,  each media outlet’s authoritative reputation rests on pushing up the credibility of their respective polls. They must not question their own polling for fear of damaging their reputation for “authoritative political analysis”.

Regardless if their own polling is hopelessly implausible, it must be presented as factual and inarguably credible.

Even if it is clearly not.

3. Radio NZ – an oasis of information in a desert of pseudo “news”

The non-commercial Radio New Zealand not only reports polling results from various pollsters, but is currently running a Poll of Polls;

The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls since mid-June from among: TV1 Colmar Brunton, TV3 Reid Research, Fairfax Media-Ipsos, NZ Herald DigiPoll, Roy Morgan New Zealand and UMR Research, which is not published.”

– and is well worth keeping an eye on.

Off the main pollsters, the most accurate one to keep an eye on is Roy Morgan, as it alone calls respondents on cellphones. All others rely solely on landlines to contact respondents.

4. Tracy Watkins

Associated with Vernon Small’s front page article on the Dominion Post on 5 September, was a side-bar “opinion piece” by the paper’s political editor, Tracy Watkins. This is the on-line version;

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tracy watkins - dominion post - fairfax news - all over bar the shouting

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“Two weeks down, two weeks to go and on today’s stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll it’s all over bar the shouting.”

I was stunned when I read that comment. In effect, Watkins has elevated Fairfax’s 3 September  public opinion poll to supplant the up-coming general election and accept a National Party victory based on Ipsos’ findings.

I put this issue to Neil Watts, blogger (Fearfactsexposed) and long-time commentator/critic of Fairfax Media and it’s policies. I asked him about the credibility of Fairfax’s polling and he replied,

“Having watched Fairfax Media make an art form of National Party propaganda for many years now, nothing they publish surprises me anymore. Their polls are notoriously, willfully unreliable, and they blatantly use them to manipulate  rather than inform  the electorate.”

This would certainly seem to be the case, as it should be noted that two different polling companies contracted by Fairfax consistantly over-rated National in their results. Neil had definite thoughts on why that might be. He said;

“Their political coverage is partisan, anti-opposition, anti-democratic, and their spin consistently comes from the exact same angle that the National Party are taking via Crosby Textor.

In fact, this is so reliable, that I only bother to read stuff.co.nz these days to find out what the Government’s spin will be on any given issue.”

When I pointed out Watkins’ piece, “All over bar the shouting”, Neil was scathing about her lack of impartiality;

“Political editor Tracy Watkins is clearly enamored with the Prime Minister and unprofessionally close to him. After several international trips with John Key and a substantial back catalogue of journalese ‘love letters’ to him, she really has zero credibility as an objective reporter.

To the informed reader, her copy is generally one-eyed, propagandist tripe. The weight of evidence is in their reporting, but I have heard from sources within Fairfax Media that their blatant goal is to get Key’s Government re-elected.”

If true, and the Fourth Estate has become a mouth-piece for The Political Establishment, it may explain why people are turning away from the mainstream media as well as politics. The previous general election had the lowest voter turn-out since 1887 – no feat to be proud of, and seemingly  indicative of a growing malaise of alienation, apathy, and disconnection from our heretofore strong civic pride.

It simply beggars belief that a journalist such as Ms Watkins with many years experience could publish such an off-hand comment that effectively undermines current efforts by the Electoral Commission, trade unions, political parties, et al, to encourage people to enroll and to vote.

The Commission is spending tax payers’ money to encourage voter turn-out – and Watkins’ casual, flippant, remark that “it’s all over bar the shouting” undermined that campaign with half a dozen words. The fact that the Dominion Post reinforced that off-the-cuff remark by placing the Fairfax-Ipsos poll-story on the front page of the edition reinforced her comment with a subtle message; “don’t bother voting – National has won – it’s all over bar the shouting”;

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dominion-post-5-september-2014-fairfax-ipsos-poll-2014-election-tracey-watkins

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Note the heading in big, black, bold lettering,

Poll sees Nats in command

In command“? Was the election held on 5 September?! Did I miss it?

Note also the hidden subtext of an image of the PM, John Key, twice the size of his opponant, David Cunliffe. Note the victorious look on Key’s face – and the open-mouth “petulance” of ‘disappointment’ on Cunliffe’s.

The impression is clear; Key has “won” the election.

Cunliffe’s annoyance validates Key’s trimphant expression.

This is not reporting the news – it is manufacturing it.

Meanwhile, with more than a hint of irony, the real news of election-related events are buried within the newspaper;

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dominion-post-5-september-2014-fairfax-ipsos-poll-2014-election-tracey-watkins

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Little wonder that Neil Watts summed up Fairfax’s agenda thusly,

 “For a media corporation to be effectively aiming for oligarchical rule in New Zealand is a gross abuse of power and position. At the very least, they should be honest and open about their political loyalties, so that ordinary Kiwi voters can make an informed choice about where they source their news.”

I see nothing to disabuse me of the notion I began to develop in  1989, that a healthy dose of skepticism is required when presented with information from a media source.

Their agenda is no longer to present news.

Their agenda is to manufacture it; embellish it; use it to sell advertising; and to further political goals.

How else does one explain naked propaganda-masquerading-as-“news”?

Because looking at the full-blown story on the front page, I can see no other interpretation than the conclusion I have arrived at.

According to the Dominion Post, the election is done and dusted and the Nats are “in command”. So don’t bother voting. It’s all over.

Bar the shouting.

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References

Fairfax media: National still cosy in polls after tea break (2011)

Fairfax media: National soars without Collins – poll (2014)

Wikipedia: New Zealand 2011 General Election

Roy Morgan: ‘Dirty Politics’ muddies the water for major parties in New Zealand

NZ Herald: National or Labour could form a Government – poll

TV3 News: Key could need Maori Party post-election

TVNZ News: National unscathed by Dirty Politics – poll

Radio NZ: Election 2014 – Poll of Polls

Dominion Post: All over bar the shouting

Massey University: Massey commentators preview key election issues

Dominion Post: Tracy Watkins on politics

Additional

Fairfax media: Ipsos Polling Station

Previous related blogposts

Mr Morgan phoned

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (part tahi)

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua)

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 September 2014

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