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Letter to the editor – Witches, foreign fighters, and other bogeymen…

30 November 2014 5 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Sun, Nov 30, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor 

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The editor
The Listener

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A few hundred years ago, it was witches and jews. But burning witches and persecuting jews is  socially passé, so the powers-that-be require new Bogeymen with which to frighten the citizenry.

That is, if the citizenry can shift their glazed eyes from such ‘conciousness-raising’ (note sarcasm) offerings such as “The Block”, “Big Brother Australia”, “The Voice”, “My Kitchen Rules”, et al, to become frightened of black-garbed “Jihadists”.

Funny old world… the masses indulge in their televised ‘opiates’, “reality TV”, and in doing so by-pass the Real World in which they live in.

Because, when you think about it, here’s the irony: in 1985, after French agents/terrorists bombed the Rainbow Warrior, killing an innocent man. The State did not react by passing a gaggle of laws increasing surveillance, police powers, and other draconian measures. The government of the day simply allowed the Police to get on with the job of apprehending the culprits.

Meanwhile, 29 years later, with not a “Jihadist” or “Foreign Fighter” in sight, this government has enacted more repressive laws and extended State surveillance, than at any time in our short colonial history.

Our esteemed Prime Minister – who currently has hearing, perception, and memory problems of his own – seems hell bent on protecting us from “enemies” a world away, and who, like most Americans,  probably aren’t even aware of our existence. (Until, of course, he deploys SAS troops to Iraq. That will no doubt attract the attention of IS like a red flag to a bull. Nice one, Dear Leader.)

This government could install cameras in every home in the country; set up roadblocks and checkpoints at every intersection in our cities; enact a dusk-to-dawn curfew (except Friday and Saturday nights, so bars and alcohol retailers can still ply their trade)  – and the slumbering masses would simply switch channels from “Home Improvements” to “Masterchef Outer Mongolia”.

If apathy was a strength, we would be a reigning world superpower. (If the middle classes could be bothered.)

-Frank Macskasy

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Other blogs

Local Bodies: Five Reasons Why John Key Should Resign

How Melulater Sees It: Why rushing legislation isn’t democratic and doesn’t meet the standard.


 chris finlayson democracy slayer - six months of chit chat

Reference to “Six months of chit chat

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Judith Collins – the Gift that keeps Giving to the Opposition?

30 November 2014 3 comments

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From a news report;

Ms Collins resigned before the election after being accused of working with the Whale Oil blog after emails were released suggesting she was “gunning” for former director of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, when she was the minister in charge of the SFO.

A report by former High Court judge Lester Chisholm into her actions will be released this week, with some media reporting that it is expected to clear her name.

After the Old Boys’ Network swarmed around now-disgraced CERA boss, and sexual-harrasser, Roger Sutton, with support and to downplay the seriousness of his behaviour – this blogger predicts the following outcome of the investigation into Judith Collins.

  • She will be fully exonerated.
  • The Prime Minister will say he had faith in her all along. (He has already intimated this, “If Judith is cleared that’s great – that would be my expectation“.)
  • Bundles of flowers will be sent to her office (note to florists in Parliamentary precinct: stock up).
  • Cameron Slater will claim full vindication and become even more obnoxious and unpredictable in his behaviour (if that were at all possible).
  • Critics of this increasingly authoritarian government will think twice before speaking out.
  • Collins will be restored as a Minister within twelve months, more vengeful,  and more dangerous than ever.
  • This government will become more emboldened than ever to pursue vindictive retribution against critics.

The report from Chisholm will most likely be a total whitewash.

No one should expect accountability from this government. They will see “accountability” as  weakness, and a third-term government cannot afford to show any hint of weakness.

After all, New Zealanders love ‘strong’ governments. Even Muldoon’s increasingly erratic administration might not have been voted out had it not been for Bob Jones’ NZ Party, which split the right-wing vote in 1984. The under-current from a significant portion of the population that holds irrational, conservative views should never be under-estimated.

It will be a mistake for Key to restore Collins as a Minister. But the pressure from her National party cronies will become irresistible, and Key will have no choice but to eventually yield.

It will not be a decision that comes easily to our esteemed PM. Key is fully aware that Collins’ arrogance – like a certain ex-MP with a don’t-you-know-who-I-am‘ attitude – inevitably draws trouble to herself. The Oravida-China fiasco, where Collins used a tax-payer funded trip to promote her husband’s milk company in Beijing, made unwelcome headlines for the National Party for weeks.

Collins escaped that scandal only by the skin of her teeth, when the Opposition and Media onslaught ran out of steam.

Next up, Collins’ bizarre personal attack on one of the media’s most inoffensive Parliamentary journalists, Katie Bradford, where the Minister made outrageous allegations of impropriety.

Collins eventually had to retract and apologise –  no doubt after an increasingly irritated PM put the hard word on his errant Minister.

Not content to keep her head down, Collins pursued a  secret political relationship with far-right blogger and convicted criminal, Cameron Slater, which, when uncovered in Nicky Hager’s expose, ‘Dirty Politics‘,  was the straw that finally broke the ministerial camel’s back. On 30 August she ‘resigned’ her portfolios.

This scandal could easily have triggered an early election had she held fast and refused to step down. History might have been different had Key gone to polls three weeks before the Nats were ready, and under  Collins-inspired storm-clouds.

A TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, released the day before Collins stood down, gave an unequivocal result to the simple question:  should Collins resign?  61% of respondents said yes; 26%  said no, and 13% had no opinion. (That 26% corresponds roughly to National’s core tribal-electoral support, as demonstrated at the 2002 general election.)

A day later, she obliged.

Five days after her ‘resignation’, a Fairfax media-Ipsos poll reported a massive 3.4% jump for National. No doubt National-aligned pollster, David Farrar, had already known that National would re-bound with Collins gone. His own internal polling would have shown this.

But here comes the ‘kicker’. On 5 September, on the same day as the Fairfax-Ipsos poll was made public,  a NZ Herald-DigiPoll, showed another conclusive result for the National Party. The majority stated categorically that they had had enough of the increasingly troublesome,  ‘accident’-prone, Member for Papakura.

Asked if Key should give Collins any Ministerial role in a third term National government, 51.6% responded with  “give her no ministerial role”. (25.5% responded with  giving her a less senior role than she had; and only 12.6% agreed she “should keep the Justice portfolio or a similarly senior role”.)

Those results clearly illustrate the divisive nature of Judith Collins if she is in a position of authority.

Key would do well to remember these facts, even when/if the Chisholm Inquiry exonerates her.

On the other hand, a revitalised Parliamentary Labour Opposition probably relishes the prospect of a politically “rehabilitated” Collins appointed to a Ministerial role once again.

One can only imagine what new cluster-f**k is awaiting in the wings with this woman.

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References

NZ News: Collins report may clear way for return

NZ Herald:  Rennie made ‘miscalculation’ in allowing Sutton press conference – PM

Dominion Post: No Cabinet return for Judith Collins

TV3 News: ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: I’m the victim of a smear campaign: Judith Collins resigns

TVNZ: Collins says sorry to TVNZ reporter after allegation

TVNZ: Voters want Judith Collins to stand down, poll reveals

Wikipedia: 2002 General Election

Fairfax media: National soars without Collins – poll

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: Judith Collins

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Judith Collins – Hypocrite of the Week

Are Cameron Slater and Judith Collins bare-faced liars?

Additional related blogpost

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)


 

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Collins feeding her trained attack mutt cameron slater

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 November 2014, at around 8am.

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How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study

29 November 2014 1 comment
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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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Isn’t it interesting that Patrick Gower – who made his partisan feelings crystal clear on Twitter on 29 May with this extraordinary outburst;

 “Lalia Harré – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP http://www.3news.co.nz/Opinion-Hone-and-Dotcoms-grubby-deal/tabid/1382/articleID/346334/Default.aspx#ixzz334vE4jKO Same goes for your pals Hone, Dotcom, Minto and Sykes.

– is also the same one who interviewed Laila Harre on Saturday, 22 November, on TV3’s “The Nation”? What measure of  neutrality did “The Nation’s” producer, Tim Watkin, believe that Gower possessed, to run that interview?

Quite simply, any reasonable individual would have arrived at the conclusion that Gower should have disqualified himself and the role given, instead, to the highly talented Lisa Owen.

Notice how Gower was very well behaved during the interview, when face-to-face with  Harré?

But once Harré was off the set and he was with the panel (Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton), the gloves and mask came off and Gower’s vitriol issued forth;

“… She blamed Labour there, she blamed the Greens, she blamed the National Party, she blamed the media, she blamed Georgina Beyer, although she did say-“

“… I think there’s two words for what we saw over there, before and that’s called in denial. Hmmph!”

“… She’s not going to go in with the Greens, she’s betrayed them. Labour won’t have a a bar of her. No chance of Laila Harré coming back to Parliament. And that’s why you see this sort of denial from her. She’s got it horribly, horribly wrong and she still can’t admit it.”

It should be noted that neither Williams (an ex-Labour President) nor Hooton (a right-wing commentator) could possibly comment impartially on the Mana-Internet Alliance. Both Labour and the Right had a unified agenda to smash Mana-Internet at the election (See: 2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date). There was simply no attempt at balance with the panelists or the the host-interviewer (Gower).

What is abundantly clear is that Gower seemed to lack a certain inner fortitude to say the things he did to the panelists, to Harré’s face.

This was part of  an ongoing, unrelenting onslaught against the Left. The same dirty media that saw right-wing, self-professed “media personalities” appointed to host political debates, despite public opposition and cries of partisanship;

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Can Mike Hosking host the leader's debate - fairfax poll

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There was good reason for public disquiet over Mike Hosking hosting one of the election leadership debates. His political allegiance was already well known;

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"As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight. "We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government."

Hosking: “As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.
“We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them [National] in Government.”

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An example of media bias was clearly shown over the issue of two holidays by two party Leaders. As I wrote on 24 July;

The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system.

We’re all aware that whilst Cunliffe took a three day break (I’m surprised he bothered to come back, instead of telling this country to go get f- – – – – !), our illustrious Dear Leader was off on a ten-day holiday, sunning his pale, $55 million arse, on a Maui beach in Hawaii.

Whilst the media did indeed mention that salient fact (albeit in passing), it was taken as a given that the leader of a party polling 50%-plus in the polls is entitled to a holiday.

Meanwhile, the leader of a mid-twenties-polling (?) Party is – it was hinted – not entitled to any such break.

The subtext was blindingly obvious; success breeds reward. In this case, a warm, sunny Hawaiian beach.

And failure means you don’t deserve a single damn thing, so get-back-to-work-peasant!

(See:  When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays)

Perhaps the most outrageous, recent political “hatchet job” was the Herald’s  character assassination scheme launched against David Cunliffe, using unproven (and later discredited) allegations from immigrant-businessman, Donghua Liu. The story behind Liu’s shonkey allegations; a 13 year old letter; and information strategically released by National minister, Michael Woodshouse, to Herald and TV3 journos, was nothing less than a disturbing abuse of ministerial power and media influence. (See:  The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed)

When a party leader continually receives bad press (eg; condemnation over taking a 3 day break; the colour of the scarf he wore; a manufactured “scandal” regarding a 13 year old letter, etc) what is the mainstream media telling this country?

At one stage the level of attacks against Cunliffe descended into pettiness and farce when, on TV3, on 24 July,  TV3’s Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;

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tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe

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However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, was this oddball, juvenile parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team. Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

(See: When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien)

As I pointed out on 30 July,

Despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe.

Such was the mainstream stream leading up to the election on 20 September.

Returning to Patrick Gower, there are three questions I would like to pose to him;

1. Why is it that Gower condemned the Internet-Mana alliance as “sickening” – but not the ACT-National deal in Epsom, with the same intensity?

2. Or the National-NZ First-Maori Party deal to endorse Labour’s Kelvin Davis over Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau?

3. Why was Dotcom’s funding of Mana-Internet such a big deal worthy of condemnation – but millionaires funding National and ACT is barely noted, in passing, if at all?

Otherwise, Patrick, this is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

Postscript1 (Brick-bat)

Note to MSM journos, sub-editors (those remaining), current affairs/news producers, et al) – ok, we get the “Stuart Little” reference,

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andrew little - stuart little

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Ho, ho, ho.

But enough already.

It was funny for the first thirty seconds. Now it’s just lame.

Message to journos: don’t be lame. It’s not cool.

Postscript2 (Bouquet)

For an excellent interview with a political leader (whether Labour, National, Greens, whatever), check out TVNZ’s Q+A today (22/23 November), where veteran reporter/interviewer, Heather du Plessis-Allan interviewed new Labour Leader, Andrew Little. This is how an interview should be conducted; the host asks the questions; the guest is given time to respond, without interuption.

All TV/radio hosts take note.

 

 

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References

Twitter: Patrick Gower

Pundit: Tim Watkin

TV3: Laila Harre stepping down as Internet Party leader

TV3: “The Nation” Panel – Patrick Gower, Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton

Fairfax Media: Labour claims Hosking’s biased

NZ Herald: Media – Hosking plugs car and Key

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

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

TV3: Stuart Little, leader of the Opposition?

TVNZ: Q+A 22/23 November

Previous related blogposts

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date


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media sensationalism and laziness - Jon Stewart

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

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MSM under-mining of new Labour Leader already begun?

26 November 2014 Leave a comment

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confused-man

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It did not take long.

In fact, on the same day that Andrew Little won the Labour leadership*, the first media reporter was already asking if he would be stepping down  if Labour failed to lift in the all-important polls.

On Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, the usually uber-sensible, Mary Wilson asked these gormless questions of Andrew Little,

@ 4.35

Wilson: “And in terms of your accountability though, if at the end of 2016, there is no movement [in the polls] there is no change, what happens then?”

@ 4.47

Wilson: “Is there any point during the next few years where you will say, ‘Ok, this hasn’t worked; I haven’t done what I set out to achieve; I’m leaving’.”

@ 5.00

Wilson: “And if you’re not there by the end of 2016, would you step aside?”

Now bear in mind that Radio NZ is not part of the ratings-driven, advertising-revenue-chasing corporate MSM of this country – but still those questions were put to Little.

How long before the corporate MSM – sensing sensational headlines and potential advertising revenue –  begin baying for blood and drafting stories which begin to portray Little in a negative light?

It was the relentless attacks on Cunliffe from all quarters of the MSM (including non-commercial Radio NZ) which contributed to under-mining his leadership in the eyes of the voting public.

The public’s perception of a political figure is determined largely by how he is portrayed by the media. Fairness and accuracy can play little part in reporting stories targetting a political figure. As the Donghua Liu Affair, in the NZ Herald showed with disturbing clarity, even a non-story can be spun in such a way as to totally destroy a man’s credibility and reputation.

Note: As an aside, in defending the Herald’s story on the 13 year old Donghua Liu-Cunliffe letter,  Editor  Tim Murphy stated in June this year (in an email to this blogger), that “We fully expect further details to come will show the Herald’s earlier reporting to have, as we have known throughout, been accurate and soundly based“. Nothing further has been produced by the Herald to back up it’s assertions since it was forced to make retractions on 25 June.

The Donghua Liu Affair was part of  an ongoing, targetted, smear campaign against David Cunliffe. The non-story, involving a 13 year old letter; a non-existent $100,000 bottle of wine; and an alleged, yet-to-be-discovered, $15,000 book, painted Cunliffe as untrustworthy, and the Labour Party as dodgy.

The new  Labour leader will have to keep his wits about him and use every media-related connection and employ the best possible media minders to counter an MSM that can no longer be trusted to report the basic truth. With the likes of Patrick Gower and Mike Hosking competing to be the “baddest bad asses” on the Media Block, accuracy and truth play third-fiddle behind egos (#1) and ratings (#2).

TV3’s Patrick Gower has already had a ‘go’ at Little’s victory, referring to the democratic selection process as “the great union ripoff”;

It’s a backdoor takeover by the unions. Simply, Andrew Little would not be Labour leader without the unions. He is the unions’ man; Little is a union man, and the unions have got their man into Labour’s top job.

Gower’s statement mentions “unions” five times in three short sentences. Which, when you think about it, is bizarre given that the Labour Party was born from the union movement in the first place**. Who did Gower think would lead Labour – someone from the Employers’ Federation? Business NZ? The Business Roundtable?
Silly little man pretending to be a political commentator.

The TV3 on-line article is bizarre in itself with TV3’s “Online Reporter”, Dan Satherley,  reporting  TV3’s Political Reporter, Patrick Gower’s, utterances. Journalists interviewing each other?

What next – siblings marrying each other under an ACT-led government?!
Predictably, Gower then launched into his own “Who’s-the-next-Leader” guessing game;

Gower says there remains the chance Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern – known informally as ‘Gracinda’ – might have another crack at the leadership – but this time with Ms Ardern leading the way.

I think there will be a switcheroo – Jacinda as the leader, Robertson as the deputy. He’s probably seen the writing on the wall that it has to be her if they have another go.

They just can’t help themselves. In an ‘Interstellar‘-quality vacuum of any meaningful news reporting, media-hacks like Gower will  blather on about any silliness that enters their heads. Far be it for him to actually interview Andrew Little and ask him questions like;

What’s on your agenda if you become Prime Minister?

What’s your point-of-difference to National?

What do you hope to achieve, legislation-wise, in the First 100 Days of a government you lead?

You know, real questions that real journalists used to ask, in real interviews, with real people.

At the same time, the same brickbat used to beat the MSM around it’s collective head should be generously applied to the Labour Party hierarchy’s backside.

When Labour president Moira Coatsworth made this statement in the NZ Herald, congratulating Andrew Little;

Labour president Moira Coatsworth, who announced Mr Little’s victory, said he would lead a reinvigorated party into the 2017 election campaign.

Andrew has the leadership skills and the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victory in 2017. I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour Prime Minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.

– it was the same gushing enthusiasm she voiced for David Cunliffe last year;

The Labour Party congratulates David Cunliffe on his win. David has been elected by a robust and democratic process and has won on the first round with a clear majority. This gives him a strong mandate as leader and he has the full support of the Labour Party.

[…]

David Cunliffe has the leadership skills and the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victory in 2014. I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour Prime Minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.”

– and before that, David Shearer, in 2011;

I congratulate both David and Grant and look forward to working closely with them as we build towards a Labour victory in 2014.

David and Grant bring a fresh approach; a breadth of skills and a strong commitment to rebuild for a Labour win in 2014.”

The repetitive nature of Labour’s revolving-door leadership leaves the voting public scratching it’s collective head, wondering WTF?! As I blogged on 2 October;

If the Labour caucus don’t support their own leader – especially when times are tough – why should they expect the voting public to take their  leadership choices seriously? After all, with four leaders gone in six years, it would appear to be a temporary position at best.

And earlier, on 25 September, I wrote to the NZ Herald;

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.

I also pointed out in the same letter-to-the-editor;

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.

Even pro-National columnist for the NZ Herald, John Armstrong stated the obvious on 18 November;

 “The public should warm to him. But that will take some time.

Meanwhile, on the day that Andrew Little won the leadership contest, John Key made this astute observation;

What this process has shown is that there are deep divisions within the party, they’re a long way away from agreeing with each other or even liking each other.

Andrew Little has the task of unifying a group of individuals who historically have shown they have very low levels of discipline.

He has a point.  Labour’s lack of internal discipline is in stark contrast to National’s public facade of unity. Both parties have their own factions – but National is the one that has succeeded in keeping in-fighting private and behind closed doors.

There is a weird  irony to this. Labour is supposedly the party that espouses an ideology of collective action whilst National is the party of unfettered individualism.

Yet it is the Nats who work collectively and collegially for their number one goal: power. Any factional agitation and cat-spats for dominance is kept well away from the public and media gaze.

By contrast, Labour appears to be a party of rugged individualists that would make ACT look like an Ohu commune from the 1970s.

Labour could do well do learn from their rivals.

The alternative is more dissent and dis-unity within Labour; more leadership changes; and a National government stretching into the 2020s, with Max Key taking the reigns of Prime Ministership from his father, and assuming the dynastic role of “Little Leader”.

Personally, I prefer a “Little Leader” to emerge from a Labour-led government, and not a future National regime.

Andrew Little’s success will be our success as well.

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* Disclaimer: This blogger is not a Labour Party member, nor has any preference who should be Leader of that party.
** Acknowledgement to Curwen Rolinson for his perception and pointing this out on his Facebook page.

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References

Radio NZ: Little man for the job of Labour’s big rebuild

Radio NZ Checkpoint: Little says narrowness of his win not a problem (audio)

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

TV3 News: Gower – Little’s victory ‘the great union ripoff’

NZ Herald: ‘He has the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders’ – Andrew Little elected Labour leader

Interest.co.nz: David Cunliffe wins Labour leadership contest, defeating Grant Robertson and Shane Jones

Scoop Media: Labour Party President congratulates new leadership team

NZ Herald: John Armstrong – Andrew Little’s first job – drown out Winston Peters

MSN News: Labour is still divided – Key

Te Ara Encyclopedia: Communes and communities

Facebook: Curwen Rolinson

Previous related blogposts

A Study in Party Stability

No More. The Left Falls.

Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 November 2014

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Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

15 November 2014 6 comments

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scaling the heights of  capitalism

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NZ, Wellington, 8 November 2014 – Wellington basked in a beautiful summers’ day with nary a breeze and only a few clouds in a clear, blue sky. The sort of summer day that we keenly await after months of gloomy autumnal and  wintry grey skies, constant dampness, and chilling air. On Saturday, as the bleak months were left behind, approximately two thousand citizens gathered and filled the precinct of Wellington’s Cuba Mall, from one end to the other;

 

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Sandra Gray (in green shirt), Senior Lecturer School of Social and Cultural Studies at Victoria University and National President of the  Tertiary Education Union, addressed the growing crowd of assembled Wellingtonians and many others from further afield;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014.

There was a wide assorted of signs, most of which had been hand-made in the traditional Kiwi style of DIY…

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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… whilst others had been pre-prepared for the event, and handed out to those who wished to make their feelings about the TPPA clear to the government;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014.

Others yet were even more imaginative and colourful – whilst still clear in their opposition to the TPPA;

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Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement - TPPA - protest - Wellington - Cuba Mall - 8 november 2014

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The marchers made their way through the streets of Wellington’s shopping precinct, behind this banner;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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The marchers walked a short distance from Cuba Mall to Wellington’s Civic Centre, an open, paved-space, bordered by the Town Hall, Council Offices, Central Library, and City Gallery;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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… and they kept coming;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Until most of the the Civic Square was filled;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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Sandra explained why this march had ended at Wellington’s Civic Square instead of Parliament;

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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A little bit of an explanation as to why we are here and not at Parliament…

Because for a start, they’re not there. Because they’re away doing other things. But, we’re
here because TPPA groups around the country are asking our councils; our local councillors
to actually take a stand, to stand with New Zealanders to oppose the TPPA, to express their
concerns.

So we’re here to tell the Wellington city Council, the Wellington Regional Council,
Porirua, Hutt, that TPPA NO WAY!

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Some macabre street theatre;

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tppa-protest-wellington-8-november-2014

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The Mana Party’s presence was still very much in evidence;

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More not-so-ordinary Wellingtonians, with their home-made placards expressing discontent at government secrecy and signing away our sovereign rights;

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This fellow’s message was blunt, short, and very much to-the-point;

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The many faces of  opposition to National’s ideological crusade to empower multinational corporations at our expense;

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Former Green MP and Wellington City Councillor, Sue Kedgley, addressed the protesters;

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Ms Kedgley said,

The government is pretending that the Trans pacific partnership is all about
making trade more free. But do not be fooled –the real purpose of the trans
pacific partnership is very simple –it is to give multinational corporations vastly
more power and influence over local and central government so that they can
prevent governments from implementing any policy that might restrict their
investments or lose them money.

In particular, the treaty will give multinational corporations a new right to sue
governments if they introduce any policy or regulation that could lose them
money or affect their investments; and the lawsuits they would bring against our
government, or against local government, would be heard in secret, off shore
tribunals that would bypass our judicial system and override our parliament.

This new right to sue governments would mean that corporations could
endlessly obstruct and delay any new policy they objected to –a capital gains tax,
for example, fracking laws or more stringent food safety laws. You name it.

It would also allow corporations to challenge a raft of existing environmental and
food safety and other regulations that have been made in the public interest, on
the grounds that they amounted to a barrier to trade, should therefore be
removed.

It would enable them to argue, for example, that our already pitifully weak food
labelling laws amounted to a barrier to trade, and should be removed.

It would enable them to sue the government if it attempted to tighten our
pitifully weak alcohol laws, on the grounds that this would lose them money.

They could argue that our strong regulations around genetically modified foods
amount to a barrier to trade and should be removed –the list is endless.

Future governments would face the constant threat of expensive litigation from
multinational corporations, and this would make them reluctant to put in place
any policies that multinational corporations objected to.

And we are not talking about some future theoretical threat –it is already
happening around the world, as a result so called free trade agreements like the
tppa.

Australia is being sued by multinational corporations for introducing plain
packaging on cigarettes.

Canada is being sued by corporations because the Quebec province imposed a
moratorium on fracking. The Mexican government was sued by Cargills when it
tried to limit the import of high fructose corn.

And El Salvador and other Latin American governments are being sued for
refusing to grant mining licenses to various corporations.

This is what would happen to us, if our government signs up to the trans pacific
partnership. Future governments would live under the constant threat of
litigation, and of crippling lawsuits, if it introduced any policy, or passed any law,
that multinational corporations object to.

And so the trans pacific partnership would undermine the ability of our
government, and of local government, to act in the public interest.

It would weaken environmental protection laws, food safety laws, labour laws
and health and safety laws.

It would rig the international economy in favour of multinational corporations
and it would effectively place corporations above sovereign governments and
make multinational corporations more powerful than governments.

That’s why we must oppose it with all our might.

As with all speakers, the audience clapped and cheered. It was evident that the assembled people were well versed in the issues surrounding the TPPA and how it’s clauses might affect us personally, and the future of our country.

In between speakers, singer-entertainer Matt Pike belted out protest songs from the 1960s/70s – songs  that seemed even more relevant now, than forty years years ago;

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Sandra introduced Ariana, from the Wellington TPPA Action Group;

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Ariana said,

The TPPA is not free trade. It is slave trade. It is effectively a Bill of Rights for multi-
national corporations like big pharmaceuticals and the oil and gas industry…

Once they they get a strangehold it will be extremely difficult to stop the tidal wave of
oppression from corporate control. We have to stop this TPPA. It is an international
agreement that is [only] a handful of officials in MFAT and the Executive in Cabinet. They can
ratify this agreement and it will be sent to Parliament to be rubber stamped.

It can be ratified and signed off on our behalf without having to go to the whole Parliament
or even a Select Committee.

This is not democracy!

The only way we can stop this is to do actions like this…

We have a twelve point resolution that says to our [local body] Councillors, our elected
representatives, that we want you to sign this to safeguard your ability to act in our public
interest…

We call on our elected representatives to make sure that they sign the resolution that will
go to government that says that Don’t you dare sign an agreement that will stop us from being
able to regulate in the public interest!

 

Ariana pointed out a tent where people were already lining up to sign petitions addressed to Councils in Wellington, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, and Porirua;

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The media, in evidence (though Radio NZ under-estimated numbers by a whopping 100%);

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Hannah from Oil Free Wellington had this to say on the TPPA;

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Hannah embodied the passion of her generation as she explained the dangers of the TPPA,

As you’re well aware the TPPA is not about trade. It’s about corporate control and
having careless powers take control over our workers rights, over our health care,
over our country, and over our environment.

If the TPPA is signed, it means bad news for all us Kiwis who oppose deep sea drilling,
fracking, and all the other methods of fossil fuel extraction.

This is the government that has passed legislation that makes the right to protest at
sea illegal – undercutting a core civil liberty of a democratic society.

Despite the countless numbers of you, and people like you, who have protested on the
streets and at sea to stop deep sea drilling, it still happens.

The National government have classified deep sea drilling as low risk, and clean
technology like solar panels as high risk. This clearly backward thinking is further
proof that the TPPA is not needed here. We have enough trouble keeping our own
government from decimating our environment.

http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2014/11/questions-and-answers-november-6/

A recent case of Shell’s drilling without permission off our coast with no prosecution
from the EPA shows just how many of these so-called protection institutions, both
international and in New Zealand, are already in corporate pockets.

With the trade partnership in place this will get even worse, as corporate powers
will be legally able to do this and get away with it.

You might have heard about the gold mine lawsuit in Costa Rica. After their
government refused Infinito Gold permission to mine protected land, Infinito then
came back and under a trade agreement like the TPP, sued the country of Costa Rica
for protecting a nature preserve on the basis that it was cutting into their profits.
That there were “violating” their trade agreement with Canada.

This is just one example. Mexico, El Salvador, and Vietnam are just a few more places
who have faced the axe trying to protect their rights and their land.

As you all know deep sea drilling puts our environment at risk. But oil spills are
not the only danger. By allowing deep sea drilling to happen in our waters, we are
allowing the continued use of fossil fuels top exacerbate the effects of climate
change.

Climate change is serious. Hundreds of renowned individuals and well known
organisations around the globe have testified to this and governments like our own
continue to do nothing. We have substantial proof that with an increase in global
temperatures the lives of people worldwide will become significantly harder, with
more natural disasters, droughts, and food shortages to namne a few. In the last
thirtyfour years, globate climate has raised nearly one degree.

And just how many hundred year storms have we had in New Zealand, over the last few
years alone? Tragic events like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, 2013. Do you
remember Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in 2005?

As the human race burns more fossil fuels, we push the climate even closer to
destabilising. Those who will be hit the hardest are those in poor and
non-democratic countries due to their extreme inability to cope with disaster. But
New Zealanders will still face the axe.

The people who want us to sign the TPPA do not care about hardship. They know
none, protected by their filthy money. If the TPPA is signed, we will like see an
increase in drilling, mining, fracking, and other envionmentally devastating
industrial practices. When there are oil spills, pollution, and toxic waste to
deal with the National Government will not help. They have proven themselves
incapable of both caring, and action. And because of the TPPA, those same companies
who cause so much harm will get off scott free, and do it again and again and again.

Oil Free Wellington are absolutely against the TPPA. New Zealanders everywhere are
against the TPPA and together we will not let this happen. We will fight to protect
our rights, our country and our environment.

Next up – Greg Rzesniowiecki (aka gregfullmoon) of the Motueka Renewables and TPP Action;

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Greg explained what local bodies around the country had determined on the issue of the TPPA and how it would impact on their communities;

Once again we come together in response to the Free Trade and Investment Agreement
agenda. Those promoting Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA or TPP) aim to
bind us to rules promoting corporation interests. This does not address our needs.

Our needs are for a sustainable and resilient state that protects and enhances
our quality of life. It is plain common sense.

Our civilisation in the West and New Zealand is becoming increasingly greedy and
focused on individual outcomes at the cost of community well-being.

This is clear with Central Government’s removal of the 4 Well-beings from the 2002
Local Government Act purposes in its 2012. The 4 Well-beings required that government’s
purpose was to ensure the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being.

This removal is theft! Consider the implication.

Central Government ignored the submissions of our local government sector, all Councils
who submitted, including the peak body Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ); and the
New Zealand Human Rights Commission. All said to Central Government to leave the well
beings intact.

Why is this done to our Councils and local government sector? The Free Trade Agreement
agenda is all about profit. The 4 well-beings are about beneficial social outcomes.

We TPP Action seek a beneficial social outcome for Aotearoa – New Zealand. Our initiative
was lead by Nelson TPP Action who adopted as a campaign strategy, the TPP policy
formula from Auckland Council. They lobbied their Council, who adopted the policy in July
2013. Motueka Renewables led the lobby before Tasman District Council who made their
decision in March 2014. Then we wrote every Council promoting our TPP policy.

To date Auckland, Nelson, Tasman, Christchurch and Dunedin Councils have supported our
full TPP policy formula. Others have supported variations.

TPP Action have made presentations in public forums to many other Councils; Invercargill
City Council, Southland Regional Council, Clutha District Council, Wellington City
Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, and Hutt City
Council, where we were part of the formal agenda of that Council’s City Development
Committee agenda item 3a, Thursday 16th October 2014.

The latest news from Napier. Thursday 6th November saw local TPP Action in Napier
present to their City Council. We now wait to see what that council will do with their
request for TPP to be considered formally by the Council.

In addition to this TPP Action in the regions lobbied the following Councils who have
expressed concern about TPP. Greater Wellington Regional, Palmerston North City,
Horizons Regional, Horowhenua District, and Wanganui District Councils have adopted
various TPP policy formulas directing NZ negotiators to look after the Kiwi public interest.

The solution to TPP is an agreement that protects and advances the community’s public
interest. The large South Island councils at Christchurch and Dunedin Cities agree and in
August they both supported our TPP policy formula. The decision at Christchurch was
unanimous and further they requested that Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) do
likewise. Other councils have indicated that they support LGNZ adopting a TPP policy.
For this to be the correct policy, we actively encourage them to protect and enhance our
interests. We do this by sharing with other communities, informing them and encouraging
them to lobby their councils to agree to our TPP policy.

The current focus is the Wellington region’s councils. TPP Action are working to gain the
support of the; Wellington City, Hutt City and Upper Hutt City, Porirua City, Kapiti Coast
District, and the Greater Wellington Regional Councils. In addition to presenting to
councils we have held public meetings and will be doing more.

New Zealand’s TND negotiators must be made to understand that any deal they negotiate is
a dead duck unless it protects and enhances our public interest. Our TPP policy is the only
story. Only you in community with others, can ensure your interest is protected. Share the
story with everyone.

We hold a vision. A sovereign state acting for the welfare of its inhabitants, seas, waterways
and land.

After Greg’s rousing speech, Matt gave another performance with his protest-style songs – this time,  Were Not Gonna Take It. The chorus was perfect for the crowd to join in and the Square shook with the reverberations of,

 

OH WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT !!
NO, WE AIN’T GONNA TAKE IT !!
OH WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE !!

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Overheard from someone in the crowd, “How come there are never any big protests in support of the TPPA”?

Why not indeed. Because these folk seem mightily opposed to it;

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After Greg, Gay Keating,  member of OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council  advised how proposed  trade agreements set regulations into historical concrete, making it almost impossible to respond to new issues and problems as they arise;

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Kay’s speech was short – but packed no lesser ‘punch’  for the warnings it contained for us all;

Kia ora koutou Nga Mihi Nui koutou

There’s two different aspect about health.

One is that when you get sick or injured. Really important that we have affordable
healthcare for everyone.

But the other things is that you want to avoid getting sick or injured in the first place.

The TPPA puts both of those sets of things at risk.

We need to start off with protections for a Safe and Healthy environment, covering food,
water, workplace safety. We also need to control dangerous products – everything from
tobacco to making sure of safety standards for baby cots.

Trade agreements threaten health at all of these points.

In terms of Affordable health care, New Zealand’s drug buying agency PHARMAC could get
hit in at least three different ways by TPPA. Clearly, affordable healthcare does not
suit big business. Under TPPA either the drug bill will go up – or only the rich will
be able to afford medicines.

What about keeping safe and well?

Big Tobacco sells a lethal product – but Big Tobacco is using a trade agreement in
Australia trying to keep young people hooked.

Where Big Tobacco goes, Big Junk Food, Big Baby Formula, and Big Alcohol are close behind.

Big Mining makes water too toxic for humans – but Big Mining are using a trade agreement
in Latin America to keep on polluting.

And of course, the most important health threat of our century, way bigger than Ebola,
that’s climate change. Big Fossil Fuel will not be shy to use a trade agreement to keep
on burning carbon.

Don’t just take my word for it – Get a second opinion.

Yesterday the NZ Medical Association published their concern about the trade agreement
and health. Earlier we’ve had the Australian and even the American Medical Associations
say the trade agreement is bad for health.

World Health Organisation say these trade agreements are handcuffs on governments. The
WHO opposes the way agreements that support toxic trade undermine health. These sort
of trade agreements are a health hazard. Doctors, nurses, midwives, health promoters all
say – NO WAY TPPA!

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The protest ended on an upbeat, positive note and people crowded around the petition tent.  Councils in the Greater Wellington Region would soon be receiving petitions from their citizens.

The campaign against the TPPA – like a previous campaign in the 1980s against atomic weapons – would be shifted to the local level.

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TPPA Explained in Three Minutes

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References

Scoop Media: Parliament – Questions and Answers – November 6

NZ Herald: Oil wells drilled without consent – Greens

The Council of Canadians: Message to Canada’s Infinito Gold – Drop your outrageous billion-dollar lawsuit against Costa Rica!

Mainstream media reports

Fairfax Media: Marches against TPPA trade deal

Radio NZ: Thousands of NZers rally against TPPA

TV3 News: Protesters rally against TPPA

TV1 News: Thousands rally against trade agreement

Scoop Media: Thousands of Kiwis plan National Day of Action against TPPA

NZ Herald: Thousands gather to protest trade agreement

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Other Blogs

On the Left: TPPA – The monster in our future

The Daily Blog: Anti-TPPA march from above

The Standard: Marching in the streets

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

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

 

 

 


 

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TPPA thuggery

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 November 2014

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Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

1 November 2014 11 comments

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1949 state house in Taita

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Continued from: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

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Bill English comes clean on National’s intentions for HNZ privatisation

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On 14 October, in a report on The Daily Blog, I wrote,

In his story, TV3’s Brooke Sabin raised the question,

“So a big cull of state houses is about to get underway, but the crucial question is: Will all that money make its way back into social housing or will some be pocketed by the Government? The official response is that hasn’t been worked out yet.”

Yes, it has, Mr Sabin.

The money will indeed be “pocketed by the government”.

For no other reason than their re-election in 2017 depends on it.

The TV3 story reported that up to 22,000 homes worth an estimated $5 billion could be sold off. This would make it one of the biggest asset sales in recent history – when John Key himself promised an end to state asset sales in February this year.

It is also a time when 5,563 are on Housing NZ’s ever-growing waiting list.

Three days later, on 17 October, Brook Sabin’s question was answered in full, and my prediction (once again) proved to be correct. A quote from our esteemed Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English,

‘No point’ in new state houses – Bill English

Finance Minister Bill English says the proceeds from selling state houses are unlikely to be spent on new state houses and may go into the Consolidated Account.

“I mean, if we want less stock, there’s not much point in rebuilding stock with it” …

Hat-tip: Anthony Robins

Whilst National “made noises” about some  Housing NZ properties being sold, or transferred to social organisations early in the year, there were no pre-election policy announcements  remotely resembling those made public by Bill English two weeks after the election. (See: National’s pre-election policy: 2014)

This was a radical, unannounced, policy that has taken the country by surprise.

In the Herald, columnist Dita De Boni was scathing in her condemnation of Key’s heretofore secret plan to sell  state houses,

Those conditions gave the Labour Government – elected in 1935 – a mandate to make the provision of state housing a top priority. Then Minister of Housing Walter Nash told New Zealand it could not prosper or progress with a population that “lack[s] the conditions necessary for a ‘home’ and ‘home life’, in the best and fullest meaning of those words”. It was a popular sentiment at the time, but look how far we have since regressed. We again have children and their parents living in cars and sheds. We have thousands of homeless; old diseases and ingrained misery have returned as sections of the population struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

And at this critical juncture in our history, our Government is looking, instead, to offload state housing. It is the absolute, ultimate irony: a public welfare system that bridges the gap left by market failure, that, when starved, denigrated and under-resourced, as it is now, can only, apparently, be saved by the market.

[…]

The Government has tried to slip the sell-off of state housing under the radar: I guess they don’t want to be seen to be contradicting their pre-election promise not to sell any more state assets. They focus instead on “first home affordability” – a much more pressing concern for their supporters (as long as it does not affect their other supporters, who don’t want too much new housing to depress the capital value of their property).

[…]

It is hard to understand how reverting to the Victorian solution of seeing churches and social agencies haphazardly tackle this gaping social wound will work. They don’t have the resources, for one thing. They are also not plugged into the bigger picture – the social needs of the tenants, the transport and logistics needs of new housing and so forth, all things a clever, committed government can oversee. Not ours then, which is trying desperately to shift the immediate costs of social housing elsewhere, and the benefits to a crony cohort.

One method they’ve used is to seed the idea with the public that state housing is all let to gang members and chronic social misfits who trash their properties and refuse to move out. Of course, that does describe a percentage of state house tenants – or any tenants.

Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think that housing is one of the core concerns of Government, and that the provision of state housing – as well as its proper management and upkeep – is fundamental. It is astonishing that a Prime Minister who grew up in a state house, and has gained huge political advantage from being able to trumpet that fact, can’t see why it is wrong to pull up the ladder after him.

I encourage the reader to read Ms De Boni’s full piece. It is a savage indictment of John Key’s miserable agenda to get the State out of social housing.

New Zealanders should be under no illusion:  housing in this country is about to get a whole lot worse before it improves. We can expect to see more over-crowding;  entire families living in cars, under bridges;  the rise of  the first squatter camps since the Great Depression; more poverty; and more spreading disease.

Bill English has made it abundantly clear: this government will be selling state houses. It will not be “rebuilding stock” (houses).

This may not be what New Zealanders voted for on 20 September – but did 1,131,501 voters who ticked the box for National expect better?

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References – Part 3

TV3 News: State housing sell-off worth $5B

Radio NZ: PM rules out more asset sales

Fairfax media: Housing NZ waiting lists swamped

NZ Herald: ‘No point’ in new state houses – Bill English

NZ Herald: State housing shake-up: Lease up on idea of ‘house for life’

NZ Herald: Dita De Boni – State house poster boy callous to pull up ladder

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2014

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Other blogs

The Jackal: More homelessness under National (30 July 2012)

The Standard: Unaffordable housing & the culture of greed

No Right Turn:  A surprise policy

Social Groups

Facebook: Affordable Housing For All

Facebook: Housing NZ Tenants Forum

Facebook: Tamaki Housing Group- Defend Glen Innes


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Irony of ironies, a National Party 1938 election poster

Irony of ironies, a National Party 1938 election poster

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 October 2014

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