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John Key is a principled man – except when a photo op arises (A Photo Essay)

20 March 2016 5 comments

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Prime Minister John Key draped in current flag at NZ Open

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“Key has led the charge for changing the New Zealand flag but clearly he’s open to being spotted in the current one, having been involved in some banter with former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting at the New Zealand Open golf tournament in Arrowtown on Sunday.”

The journalist – Peter Thornton – who wrote that piece has missed the point entirely: it was a photo-op.  Our esteemed Dear Leader would run naked through Hades if there was a photo-op involved.

Whether it be babies, kittens, or puppies…

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john key photo op (1-4)

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Though some weren’t quite so keen…

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john key photo op (5)

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Some turned out to be downright dodgy…

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john key photo op (6)

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And some turned into an unmitigated disaster…

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Act member for Remuera, John Banks and Prime Minister John Key stop in for a cup of tea and a chat at the Urban Cafe. 12 November 2011 New Zealand Listener Picture by David White.

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But let’s get back to kitten and puppies – always an easy, safe bet for a photo-op… (especially with a visiting compliant Royal chucked in for good measure)…

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john key photo op (7-9)

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Talking about visiting Royals – they are proven rich-pickings for Key to exploit for photo-ops…

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john key photo op (10)

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And there were photo-ops-galore with various sundry Royals…

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john key photo op 11-14)

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Chuck in an Aussie Prime Minister…

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And another Aussie Prime Minister…

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John+Key+Julia+Gillard+Visits+New+Zealand+HLo_hFr7PRPl

 

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Yet another Aussie Prime Minister…

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And – wait for it! – an Aussie Prime Minister!!

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6862798-3x2-940x627

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Ok, that line of Aussies was getting tedious. Let’s try something different.

A former New Zealand Prime Minister…

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Or the current Brit Prime Minister.

Slow down, Dear Leader, you’ve got Cameron dead in your sights for that manly grip…

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Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron (L), greets the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, outside 10 Downing Street in central London September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS)

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See? Nailed that handshake…

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john_key_and_david_cameron__number_10_Master

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Enough of Prime Ministers. Let’s try a current German Chancellor…

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Angela+Merkel+John+Key+New+Zealand+Prime+Minister+IxtkHCovagLl

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Or a US State Secretary…

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John-Key-Hillary-Clinton-1200

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Maybe another Royal…

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john-key-prince-charles-rachael-park

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And a Queen or two…

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[*scrape, scrape, shuffle, bow, bow, grin like a commoner*]

[*scrape, scrape, shuffle, bow, bow, grin like a commoner*]

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Key and Queens

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Some bloke from China…

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New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, inside the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake, in Beijing, November 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

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And some bloke from America…

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Here is our esteemed Dear Leader with perhaps The Most Important Bloke in America…

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And we know what followed next…

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key - letterman

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Though perhaps not quite as embarrassing as this…

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RWC_JohnKey

 

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*facepalm*

But just to keep the “common touch” with the Great Unwashed…

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Key in toy boat

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And when you get tired of doing your own driving…

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key-smile-wave

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But for the Top Prize for photo-ops, you just can’t get more Ordinary Blokey than hanging out with Ritchie and The Boys…

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Still hangin’ out with Ritchie and The Boys…

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Ah, John, I think this is The Boys telling you ‘enough is enough, go the f**k home!

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Good night John!

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Ok… getting a bit wanky now…

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John-Key-All-black

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And then it just hits rock-bottom, in Key’s eagerness to be In-On-The-Act…

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It’s obvious that our esteemed Dear Leader is not shy in front of a camera.

Any camera. (No bedroom jokes please – this is a family Blog.)

In the past, Key has worn several lapel-badges pinned to his jacket;

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His most recent addition being the Kyle Lockwood flag-alternative;

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Key with alt flag lapel badge

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It appears that at no time has Key ever worn the current New Zealand flag on his lapel. One can only assume he is ashamed to wear it.

Which became confusing when he stood with current Aussie PM, Malcolm Turnbull, for another photo-op;

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lapel badge - key - turnbull

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It seems wholly inappropriate that Key stood in front of a large version of the current New Zealand flag – whilst wearing something on his lapel that carried no real meaning, and had not yet been decided by popular vote.

But perhaps Key has a deep abiding belief in the Kyle Lockwood flag-alternative and is exercising his personal commitment to change. He is committed to his principles.

Except…

When a photo-op presents itself…

In which case…

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Prime Minister John Key draped in current flag at NZ Open

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Screw those principles.

Smile for the camera, Dear Leader!

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References

Fairfax media: Prime Minister John Key draped in current flag at NZ Open

Previous related blogposts

What are you hiding, Mr Key?

John Key: When propaganda photo-ops go wrong

Not all photo ops are welcomed events

Letter to the Editor – the Royal Visit and endless photo ops for Dear Leader

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Annoying little guy and ritchie mccaw

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 March 2016.

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= fs =

Coming soon: A terror alert near you!

19 March 2016 7 comments

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threat-level - nz (1)

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Setting the Stage for to Dis-information, Deception, and Distraction

Right about now, National is in very, very, VERY deep trouble.

Dairy-farmers, with associated down-stream support businesses, are facing severe economic hardship as Fonterra reduces the pay-out from $4.15 per kgMS to $3.90 per kgMS.

Dairy farmers’ debt has reached unsustainable levels;

About 10 per cent of the most indebted dairy properties owe a combined $11 to $12 billion, about 30 per cent of total dairy debt.

[…]

About 20 per cent of the most indebted farms hold  45 to 50 percent of the total debt – $15b-$38b.

The value of farms and sale numbers is falling (thereby placing many farmers into a negative gearing situation). As Rural Value’s national manager, David Paterson, said on Radio NZ;

“Unless there’s some bright light on the horizon I think there’ll be a continuation of slow sales and we’ll continue to see a reduction of farm values particularly on the dairy farm sector.”

On 18 March, Bill English admitted that real national disposable income-per-capita fell 0.4% for the year;

“You’ve got a big drop in national income, because dairy prices are down.  At the same time you’ve had surprisingly high migration numbers. So it’s not surprising that when you work the figures you get a drop in national disposable income.”

Not for the first time in his political career, English boasted that low wages were keeping a lid on inflation;

“The labour market turned out to be quite a bit more flexible than we were expecting.”

The Reserve Bank – recognising that a major economic “correction*” is looming on the horizon – has lowered the OCR from 2.50% to 2.25%. The RBNZ’s 10 March media release paints a gloomy economic picture for the foreseeable future;

The outlook for global growth has deteriorated since the December Monetary Policy Statement, due to weaker growth in China and other emerging markets, and slower growth in Europe. This is despite extraordinary monetary accommodation, and further declines in interest rates in several countries. Financial market volatility has increased, reflected in higher credit spreads. Commodity prices remain low.

Domestically, the dairy sector faces difficult challenges, but domestic growth is expected to be supported by strong inward migration, tourism, a pipeline of construction activity and accommodative monetary policy.

[…]There are many risks to the outlook. Internationally, these are to the downside and relate to the prospects for global growth, particularly around China, and the outlook for global financial markets. The main domestic risks relate to weakness in the dairy sector, the decline in inflation expectations, the possibility of continued high net immigration, and pressures in the housing market.

Retail banks, however, seem reluctant to participate in any plan to stimulate economic activity. The 25-point fall in the OCR has yet to be passed on to bank customers.

If the economy enters recession, expect inward migration to reduce, adding to a slowdown in domestic growth and rise in unemployment.

Setting the Mood

In November last year, our esteemed Dear Leader announced – almost casually – that New Zealand could be targeted by terrorists;

“I think every country in the world is potentially vulnerable, we’re probably less vulnerable than others.  We have in this instance the advantage of distance, we’re a long way away, [but] i just couldn’t say to you we’re completely immune.”

And;

“There’s no question about what their motivations are and that’s the tragedy of the Isis story is that you get some very dysfunctional people, for want of a better term, who want to associate themselves with Isis.”

However, on 8 December last year, an entirely ‘new dimension’ was added to the ISIS bogeyman with this dramatic revelation from  SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge;

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SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge

“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of.” – Rebecca Kitteridge, 8 December 2015

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The media, rather unsurprisingly, went nuts on the story;

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NZ women going to IS areas on rise - SIS

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As Tracey Watkins and Tommy Livingstone reported for Fairfax Media;

In evidence to the committee, Kitteridge said the past 12 months had seen a significant increase in the global terrorism threat.

“When I started as director of security in May 2014 the so-called Islamic State was barely talked about in New Zealand. Now a day rarely goes by without news of some act of violent extremism associated with IS.”

The threat to New Zealand’s domestic security posed by foreign terrorist fighters and other extremists was real and continued to develop.

“The number of New Zealanders fighting alongside or supporting IS remains small but has increased.”

That included the rise in the number of New Zealand women travelling to Syria and Iraq.

In the same story, Watkins and Livingstone wrote;

Kitteridge said after the committee hearing the numbers leaving from New Zealand were small but significant – but declined to give further details.

As events were to transpire three months later, the suggestion that women were “leaving from New Zealand” was to be proved  a false assertion.

Yet, during those three months, SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge, maintained silence on the issue and she did nothing to correct the (mistaken) belief that New Zealand women were departing from New Zealand.

This prompted the usual feeding-frenzy and rantings from the ill-informed rabid-right who vent their ignorance on right-wing fora such as Kiwiblog;

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kiwiblog comments - longknives - Jack5

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Kiwiblog editor and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, did nothing to bring reason to the discussion. Indeed, a few voices of sanity on the blog had their moderate views dismissed and voted down;

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kiwiblog comments - andrei

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Protestations

Following Kitteridge’s comments, lone voices of calm and sanity were barely reported and given much less prominence;

Hazim Arafeh, a spokesperson for he Islamic community, said he was surprised to hear women from New Zealand may have left the country to join ISIS. 

“We are not aware of New Zealand Muslim woman going over to Syria to get married. If it is happening, we still don’t know if it is a genuine case, or are they joining ISIS,” he said.

Islamic Women’s Council issued their own rejection of Kitteridge’s comments;

The national Islamic Women’s Council is not aware of any New Zealand jihadi brides heading to war torn regions to join the fight with Isis.

Council president Anjum Rahman told Paul Henry that although it was happening overseas there was no indication the same thing was happening here.

Ms Rahman said she listened carefully to Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge yesterday and she didn’t mention the women leaving were jihadi brides travelling to Syria to marry and support fighters.

“All she said was the number had been growing and because it was a war torn area that was a concern,” she said.

“We don’t know the ethnicity of these women, we don’t actually know the religious background of these woman, whether they just converted before they went, whether they converted at all, and we definitely don’t know what they’re doing while they’re over there.”

Asked if the council had information on women travelling overseas to marry and support Isis Ms Rahman said: “No. We don’t have any knowledge or indication of that happening.”

Three days later, The Wireless illustrated the  predictably dire results of the demonisation of muslim women;

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the wireless - I'm not a jihadi bride

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Hela Rahman, a 25-year-old who has been a NZ citizen for more than 20 years, says these comments aren’t backed by evidence and are causing more harm than good.

A few weeks ago, she returned from a trip visiting her family in Iraq. When she arrived at Auckland Airport she says she was instantly made to feel like she’d done something wrong.

“I was going through with my E-passport and it was automatically declined. I had to go over to the counter.”  

The Border Control officer asked Rahman why she’d been in Iraq. 

“I told her I was there to see my family. She just looked at me with an awkward uncomfortable expression. She didn’t say anything and just drew a red line through my arrival card.”

Rahman continued to the customers area where the officer, after taking a look at her card, told her to go down the far side. 

“Everyone else was being let through, even my parents. I was the only one in that lane.”

She was told to unlock her bags and was put into a holding room for a “long time” while the staff talked about her behind double-sided glass.

“The thing is, they make you feel so uncomfortable that you start questioning yourself. You start wondering if you have done something wrong,” she said.

She was asked a series of questions about why she’d gone to Iraq, what she had done there, and who had bought the flights for her.

Although Rahman had travelled to the Middle East with her mum and dad, she was the only one who was pulled aside for questioning.

“I thought my parents would be questioned too, but they weren’t. I wanted to ask ‘why me’ but I couldn’t. The opportunity never came up. I was just feeling so uncomfortable.”

Rahman spent the next few weeks confused about what had happened. Her Iraqi friends reassured her that it was just standard airport security Muslims have to face now.

That incident took place here, in good old relaxed, laid-back, give-people-a-fair-go, New Zealand.

All that was missing was requiring muslim’s to wear a red crescent stitched to their clothes to identify them in public – a practice very popular with a certain fascist regime and occupied nations,  in the the 1930s and 1940s…

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badges of suppression

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The Truth Will Out

On 16 March, of this year, the truth of the matter was revealed when Radio NZ – bless them – lodged an Official Information Act request and discovered;

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radio nz - kitteridge - SIS - NZ's 'jihadi brides' left from Australia

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“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of,” she told MPs.

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

In response to an Official Information Act request, SIS, the domestic spy agency, said the women concerned “did not leave New Zealand.

“They were New Zealand citizens domiciled in Australia and they left from there.”

In response to charges of misleading the media and public, the Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson, denied that National and the SIS had  wilfully deceived the country;

“If you go back to the statements that were made there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”

Consider Kitteridge’s statement on 8 December 2015;

“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of.”

Where else would “New Zealand women” travel from – except New Zealand – unless specifically stated otherwise?

Remember that Kitteridge owned the problem by stating, “which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of”. She made no reference to receiving the information from any Australian intelligence organisation.

A day after Radio NZ breaking the story, Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson still refused to issue an apology for National’s and the SIS’s deception;

Chris Finlayson, the Minister in charge of the SIS, told reporters today where the women left from was irrelevant.

“I would have thought the critical issue is were they New Zealand citizens, whether the left from Kingsford Smith airport or Auckland Airport is by-the-by.”

Mr Finlayson said he was due to meet with about 100 members of the Muslim community tomorrow night, and had regular discussions with that community during the process of the intelligence and security review.

“And I’m very happy to proffer an apology on behalf of Metiria Turei who started all this nonsense. I think her performance is lamentable… You just don’t go round handing out apologies willy-nilly.”

The Radio NZ report stated that “the SIS said it had no comment“.

The SIS’s mission was completed; the public was spooked. National’s planned deception had succeeded  – nothing further need be said by the spy agency.

It is also worth noting a noticeable lack of follow-up coverage on Kiwiblog by David Farrar on this issue. Perhaps the discovery that Key and Kitteridge had mis-led the New Zealand public and smeared the Muslim community in the process was not as worthy of a comment as Kitteridge’s innacurate initial comments, three months earlier?

A Happy Confluence of Purpose?

On 8 December, Audrey Young wrote in the NZ Herald;

Meanwhile, Mr Key questioned whether that a proposal he has previously rejected – attaching the Cortex cyber security programme to the Southern Cross internet cable linking New Zealand to Australia and the United States – should be revisited to give wider cyber protection to New Zealand companies.

He made the suggestion while questioning the acting director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Una Jagose, who gave a detailed speech recently about Cortex as part of a new policy of openness in the bureau.

Mr Key said he had canned the original proposal because of the potential anxiety of it being seen as mass surveillance but he asked if an argument could be made, with enough public debate for it happen to protect smaller companies.

At present, the GCSB uses Cortex to mount cyber defence on Government agencies and strategically important private companies – and only with their permission.

Ms Jagose said the “hard ground work” by the GCSB needed to be done to be more open about the GCSB’s cyber defence work.

She acknowledged the possible anxiety over “mass surveillance.”

It could safely be argued that  stories of “jihadi brides” would scare the bejeezus out of the public, in the process softening opinion to welcome extending the powers of the SIS and GCSB.

If so, this would be a cynical ploy by National and our spy agencies to manipulate public opinion to accept the unpalatable; a massive increase in state surveillance and mass-gathering of data on all New Zealanders.

They just never counted on anyone actually asking a fairly simple question; where did those so-called “jihadi brides” migrate from?

Implausible Deniability

During last year’s  Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee meeting on 8 December, where Rebecca Kitteridge uttered her now (in)famous references to “New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria“, Key made reference to “Jihadi Brides“.

Yet, on TV3’s The Nation, Key tried to evade responsibility for using the term “Jihadi brides” on 8 December;

Lisa Owen: All right. One other issue this week has been the so-called ‘jihadi brides’. Muslim leaders that we spoke to said that they were victimised and confused as a result of your comments around jihadi brides. Do you owe them an apology?

John Key: I don’t think so, and the reason for that is, I think, if you just look at the sequence of events, the first thing is that- I’m not distancing myself, but I didn’t raise the issue. The SIS directed it, and I wasn’t-

Lisa Owen: No, you used the phrase ‘jihadi brides’, Prime Minister. I’ve looked at the transcript. It was you that used that phrase, not Rebecca Kitteridge.

John Key: I didn’t coin that phrase. That phrase is used all around the world.

Lisa Owen: But you were the first one to use it.

John Key: Not around the world, I’m not. It’s a common term.

Was our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, aware that none of the so-called “Jihadi Brides” had actually departed from New Zealand, and were actually residing in Australia at the time?

Yes, according to Gerry Brownlee’s own admission in Parliament, on 17 March;

Metiria Turei (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Was he advised, prior to 8 December 2015, that the so called “jihadi brides” he referred to during the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting were all resident in Australia and did not leave from New Zealand?

Hon Gerry Brownlee (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Metiria Turei: So the Prime Minister can confirm that he knew that none of those women had left for Syria or Iraq from New Zealand?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, and the member needs to be aware that as New Zealand citizens it does not matter where they left from. If they pose a security risk to New Zealand on their return, then that is something we are concerned about.

This time Key cannot feign memory loss; erroneous advice;  misinterpretation, or a mistake. According to one of his own senior ministers – Key knew the facts.

For reasons of his own, he chose not to disclose that information.

Key’s Lie By His Own Words

On 17 March, Key refuted any willful attempt to mislead the public by inference that so-called “Jihadi brides” had left New Zealand. As reported on Radio NZ;

Today he denied any attempt to create a misleading impression that the 12 or so women referred to by Ms Kitteridge left from New Zealand, rather than from Australia.

We didn’t say that, it was the Director [General] that made the statement, and what she said was there were jihadi brides.

“The fact that where they leave from is irrelevant, if they’re New Zealanders, they’re New Zealanders, they may return to New Zealand and so we have to deal with those issues.

And remember the Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson, who categorically denied that National and the SIS had deliberately created a deception;

“If you go back to the statements that were made there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”

Yet, that is precisely what Key said on 10 December last year, as this video clearly shows;

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Kiwi jihadi brides a reality - PM - yahoo news

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John Key: “And it’s just a reality that there are women that we know that left New Zealand, ah, and we suspect that they have gone and got married and we know that this concept of Jihadi Brides is not, it’s not my term, it’s an international term, and you pick up the World’s Section of the newspapers today, a couple of newspapers, and see them reporting on that, hundreds and hundreds of women from around the world, ah, going off and, and potentially marrying these guys before they undertake Jihadist activity.”

Reporter: “Do you think it’s strange that, that, um, that New Zealand muslims don’t… aren’t aware of any of their women going over and, and, marrying men in places like Syria?”

John Key: “Yeah, well, I mean they don’t know everybody in the community, um, and you know, they obviously have a, you know, be [unintelligible word] as anyone can on these things, but we can just tell you by what we see. Y’know, people travel out of our country, and people who turn up, through other reporting, and otherwise, in Syria or Iraq.”

Key was as crystal-clear as his garbled-style of speech permits him to be. He cannot claim he was mis-represented in the media: he stated categorically that “there are women that we know that left New Zealandpeople travel out of our country“.

At the same time, according to Minister Brownlee, Key was perfectly aware that  “jihadi brides” he referred to during the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting were all resident in Australia and did not leave from New Zealand”.

This was no “mistake” on the part of the media. Brownlee and Key stand convicted of their duplicity, by their own words.

Coming soon: A terror alert near you!

This is now the second (that we are aware of) mis-use of our spy agencies for National’s own political agenda.

Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, found that in 2011, then-Labour leader, Phil Goff, had been mis-led by  then-SIS director, Warren Tucker, at a briefing meeting.  Inaccurate information had also been provided by the SIS to right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater that was used to damage Phil Goff’s reputation.

As the Herald reported in November 2014;

Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn said this morning the inquiry found the NZSIS released “incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information in response to Mr Slater’s request, and provided some of the same incorrect information to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s office”.

Ms Gwyn said she found no evidence of political partisanship by the NZSIS but did find that the NZSIS “failed to take adequate steps to maintain political neutrality”.

Ms Gwyn said the having released misleading information both to Prime Minister John Key’s office and then to Mr Slater, Dr Tucker “had a responsibility to take positive steps to correct the interpretation”.

“He failed to do so.”

On that basis, Ms Gwyn said Mr Goff was owed an apology.

Ms Gwyn said information about a briefing Mr Goff received from Dr Tucker about suspected Israeli agents in Christchurch following the quakes was “not an accurate description of what happened at that meeting”.

According to revelations in Nicky Hager’s exposé, “Dirty Politics“, the smearing of Phil Goff was orchestrated from the Beehive’s Ninth Floor, by Jason Ede – a National Party “black ops” apparatchik.

The SIS was party to this covert plan to smear Phil Goff  and undermine his election chances in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei, condemned both the SIS and our esteemed Dear Leader for willfully  deceiving the public;

“They were using information for political purposes, and that political purpose was to encourage New Zealanders to accept greater surviellance by spy agencies.

The SIS has proven time and time again they can’t be trusted with the powers that they have. They don’t follow the law that they’re required to, and John Key is using spy agencies to pursue a political agenda.”

It is now a matter of time before another dramatic “terror alert” is issued by this government, to further frighten and manipulate the country into submitting to National’s agenda to increase powers for our spy agencies.

The “terror alerts” will most likely come to nothing; no arrests will be made; no details of any thwarted “terror plot” will ever be released to the public – but the ultimate goal of fomenting fear will be achieved.

A frightened populace is a compliant populace.

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Postscript1

“Correction” = polite euphemism for shit-about-to-hit-the-fan.

Postscript2

Did the SIS/GCSB ever keep track of New Zealand women travelling to Northern Ireland, during “The Troubles”, who may have met and married men from that province?

Were they ever referred to as “IRA Brides”?

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References

Fonterra: Fonterra revises 2015/16 forecast milk price

Fairfax media: Small farmer group holds nearly $12 billion of dairy debt

Radio NZ: Dairy farm values set to keep falling

Radio NZ: Incomes dropping despite GDP growth, English admits

Fairfax media: Low wages ‘advantage’ for NZ – English

Reserve Bank: Official Cash Rate reduced to 2.25 percent

NZ Herald: Banks keep their slice of OCR cut

Fairfax media: Distance, spy network means NZ less vulnerable to attack – John Key

Fairfax media: John Key ‘scaremongering’ with details of security threats: Andrew Little

Radio NZ: NZ women going to IS areas on rise – SIS

Fairfax media: Kiwi Jihadi brides on the rise

TVNZ:  ‘The worse the attack the more excited they are’ – Kiwi women leave to be jihadi brides

NZ Herald: Q&A – Why do women want to be jihadi brides?

Otago Daily Times: ‘Jihadi bride’ fears over Kiwi women

NZ Herald: Rise in Kiwi women heading to Iraq, Syria

Kiwiblog: Kiwi jihadi brides

NZ Herald: Islamic Women’s Council – It’s news to us

The Wireless: ‘I’m not a jihadi bride’

Radio NZ:  NZ’s ‘jihadi brides’ left from Australia

Radio NZ: No apology from govt over ‘jihadi brides’ claims

NZ Herald: Rise in Kiwi women heading to Iraq, Syria

TV3: The Nation – Interview with John Key

Radio NZ: No apology from govt over ‘jihadi brides’ claims

Parliament Today: Questions & Answers – March 17 – Intelligence and Security Committee – Advice

Yahoo News: Kiwi jihadi brides a reality – PM

NZ Herald: Dirty Politics – John Key won’t apologise to Goff

NewstalkZB: Kiwi women heading off to join ISIS, Key insists

Additional

“I’ve Got Nothing to Hide” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy (hat-tip: Nitrium)

Other blogs

Kiwipolitico: Threat Distortion as Fear Manipulation

No Right Turn: Caught fearmongering

The Daily Blog: Key wasn’t just scare mongering with Jihadi Brides – he used it to distract from Tim Groser GCSB spying

The Dim Post: The struggle

The Standard: The Jihadi Brides lie

The Standard: Nats refuse to apologise for targeting Muslim community

Previous related blogposts

Audrey Young, Two Bains, old cars, and… cocoa?!?!

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

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headless-chickens

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 March 2016.

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Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

18 March 2016 5 comments

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When a spokesperson for the government tries to employ scare-tactics to persuade the public that increasing surveillance powers for various arms of the State – in this case the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – is warranted, then suspicions arise.

In the week following the release of the first review of intelligence organisations in New Zealand, Michael Cullen  offered no less than three scare-tactics, that on the face of it, should send children and the naive running into the arms of spymasters at the SIS and GCSB.

On 10 March, Kathryn Ryan interviewed Michael Cullen on Radio NZ’s ‘Nine to Noon‘ show. Cullen was  one of the reviewers of our spy agencies.  In reply to questioning why the GCSB needed increased powers, he said;

@ 10.04

“…Suppose, let’s take an example, you know that a Chinese agent is arriving on a plane at an airport, for whatever reason you also know that they’re only going to be here for a short time but you’ve no idea what it is they’re going to be up to, and you can’t find a judicial commissioner, you know you’re only half an hour out from a landing kind of thing…”

@ 10.34

“…In extreme circumstances where you can’t find the Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed [sic] by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf, or the judicial commissioner, then the Director can issue a warrant, but that’s in the case of immediate threat to life or the fact that if it doesn’t happen quickly then the opportunity to gather that intelligence will have passed…”

Aside from a “Yellow Peril” hint to Cullen’s reference to “a Chinese agent”, one has to ask why he is suggesting that the imminent arrival of such a person would strike fear into the heart of our government and it’s agencies.

Did the announcement that we are at war with China miss the 6PM news bulletin on both TV1 and TV3?

If  such a mythical “Chinese agent” is a “threat” to our security and well-being, then a simple phone call to New Zealand Customs should be sufficient to  detain the person and return him/her home on the next available flight.  NZ Customs already has this power, as Mario Quintela learned to his misfortune last February;

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Portuguese tourist gifted free flight to NZ after immigration debacle

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Not only was Mr Quintela detained after disembarking his flight; he was held for ten hours, and promptly deported thereafter. (As the story reports, Customs then had to pay for Mr Quintela‘s flight back to New Zealand.)

So why the “imminent arrival” of a foreign agent should send the GCSB or other state agency into a tizzy is unclear. Our Customs department already ‘has our backs’ on such matters.

Cullen then painted a frightening picture where “in extreme circumstances where you can’t find the Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed  by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf or the judicial commissioner”.

Really? In the 21st century, with mobile phones, smartphones, email, faxes, landlines – Cullen is deeply concerned “where you can’t find the Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed [sic] by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf, or the judicial commissioner“?!

If such an unlikely scenario ever eventuated, my concern would not be for the GCSB unable to have a warrant-to-surveil signed   – but where the hell our Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed [sic] by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf, or the judicial  commissioner” were, that they could not be easily located.

Perhaps the most disingenuous,  anxiety-laden scenario from Cullen was his implausible Lost At Sea fantasy.  On Radio NZ’s Focus on Politics, Cullen maintained that expanding the GCSB’s surveillance powers was a “safety” issue;

@ 2.30

“Let us suppose a New Zealander is in imminent danger, in terms of their life overseas. Maybe lost at sea or some other example. Under this legislation as the GCSB feels it has to interpret it, the GCSB’s capacity to trace an individual’s cellphone and to say exactly where it is, cannot be used.

We have no way of finding out where that person is, using that capacity, in order to take immediate and urgent action, in whatever way, to try to protect the safety of that New Zealander.”

I call total bollocks on Cullen’s example.

Aside from the fact that most yachties and other vessels now use modern emergency locator beacons, if a New Zealander is in “imminent danger”, a bunch of spooks sitting in Pipitea House, Thorndon, listening in on conversations and reading emails and txt-messages are hardly likely to be in a position to facilitate rescue operations to assist a person “ lost at sea “.

Checking Google, using the search parameters “spy agency locates lost person at sea” did not yield a single example of a spy agency finding anyone in such dire straits.

The GCSB is a spy agency. International Rescue, it is not.

If by some bizarre chance the GCSB did pick up an SOS call, or locator beacon, no person in their right mind would object if the information was passed on to rescue services. By definition,  SOS calls cannot be considered “private communications” since they are broadcast far and wide to anyone capable of picking up the transmissions.

Cullen is fear-mongering.

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In the report,  Intelligence and Security in a Free Society Report of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand, under a section headed “Key Issues Identified“, the authors write;

7. It quickly became apparent to us that there were a number of deficiencies in the Agencies’ current legislative frameworks. The legislation establishing the Agencies is not comprehensive, is inconsistent between the two agencies, can be difficult to interpret and has not kept pace with the changing technological environment. This has led to some significant problems.

8. First, lack of clarity in the legislation means the Agencies and their oversight bodies are at times uncertain about what the law does and does not permit, which makes it difficult to ensure compliance. Critical reviews in the past have led the Agencies, particularly the GCSB, to take a very conservative approach to interpreting their legislation. While we understand the reason for this, and it is certainly preferable to a disregard for the law, this overly cautious approach does mean that the GCSB is not as effective or as efficient as it could be. The legislation needs to set out clearly what the Agencies can do, in what circumstances and subject to what protections for individuals.

It appears that Cullen and his co-author, Dame Patsy Reddy, are repeating the very same justifications that Key and other National ministers spouted in 2013, when they implemented an expansion of GCSB’s powers to legalise Bureau surveillance of New Zealanders.

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Michael Cullen and Report co-author Patsy Reddy

Michael Cullen and Report co-author Patsy Reddy (Radio NZ)

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On  9 April 2013, our esteemed Dear Leader claimed that the GCSB – as it stood at the time – was not “fit for purpose”;

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

[…]

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

[…]

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

Now it appears that Cullen and Reddy are parroting the same rationale for advancing the “need” to expand the Bureau’s surveillance powers.

This appears to be the stock-standard meme that will be trotted out every time the government pushes for further extensions to State surveillance powers.

Council for Civil Liberties, chairperson, Thomas Beagle, was correct when he pointed out the obvious “mission creep” of stealthily increasing State surveillance in this country;

“I think it’s part of a shift towards an overall surveillance society and I think it’s part of a wider shift towards a government which is not of the people but a government which is actually working on the people.”

Cullen and Reddy have played their part in this latest chapter of an on-going process.

What next in two, five, or ten years’ time?

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References

Parliament: Intelligence and Security in a Free Society Report of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand

Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Spy law shake-up, heightened protection or erosion of privacy? (alt. link)

TVNZ News: Portuguese tourist gifted free flight to NZ after immigration debacle

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics – 11 March 2016  (alt. link)

Beehive: PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Radio NZ: Spy review aims to clarify powers

Additional

Radio NZ: Canada stops sharing Five Eyes data

The Guardian: Canada spy agency stops sharing intelligence with international partners

Other Blogs

Dim Post: Security and intelligence legislation: then and now

No Right Turn: As predicted

No Right Turn: The problem with the intelligence review

The Standard: New report on GCSB spying powers

Previous related blogposts

Audrey Young, Two Bains, old cars, and… cocoa?!?!

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

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No more anarchy

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 March 2016.

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National’s Food In Schools programme reveals depth of child poverty in New Zealand

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Recently obtained OIA figures from the Ministry of Social Development reveal that 836 schools currently participate in the Kickstart food-in-schools programme. The programme began in 2009, between Fonterra and Sanitarium, to address a growing child poverty crisis.

According  to MSD’s data, over 100,000 breakfasts  are served to 27,061 children on a weekly basis.

This is in stark contrast to John Key’s claims on 5 November 2014, that hungry children in schools was only a minor problem;

“I do not believe that the number of children who go to decile 1 to 4 schools who do not have lunch is 15 percent. I have asked extensively at the decile 1, 2, 3, and 4 schools I have been to. Quite a number of principals actually even reject the notion that they need breakfast in schools. Those who do take breakfasts in schools tell me that for the odd child who does not have lunch, they either give them some more breakfast or provide them with lunch. But what they have said to me is that the number of children in those schools who actually require lunch is the odd one or two.”

The odd one or two” is contradicted by the ministry’s own figures which states that from 13 December 2013, “more than 5.9 million breakfasts  have been served since expansion“.

This would tally from Key’s own admission, on 18 October 2011, that poverty in New Zealand was continuing to worsen under his administration;

Mr Key made the concession yesterday when asked about progress with the underclass, saying it depended what measures were used but recessions tended to disproportionately affect low income earners and young people.

He said he had visited a number of budgeting services and food banks “and I think it’s fair to say they’ve seen an increase in people accessing their services. So that situation is there.”

National expanded the Kickstart programme in May 2013, in response to growing public disquiet and clamour to address the spectacle of children turning up hungry in our schools. It was also in response to Hone Harawira’s  Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill (aka, “Feed the Kids” Bill), which had been included six months earlier in the private member’s ballot system.

As Harawira explained in May 2014,

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"I know this bill isn't the full answer — that families need more work and better wages to feed their kids every day all week long and that much more needs to be put in place to turn around rising child poverty levels in Aotearoa. "All I want to do with this Bill is make sure our kids get fed while this is being done."

I know this bill isn’t the full answer — that families need more work and better wages to feed their kids every day all week long and that much more needs to be put in place to turn around rising child poverty levels in Aotearoa.
“All I want to do with this Bill is make sure our kids get fed while this is being done.”

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National’s subsequent, watered down programme to feed hungry children was derided by then-Labour leader, David Shearer;

“National’s been dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line on this. It’s only through public pressure and the pressure of Opposition parties like the Labour Party that’s got them there. But overall, it’s good for those kids who go to school hungry.”

In June 2013, then Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, assured Radio NZ that only another hundred schools would take up the expanded Kickstart programme.

By the beginning of 2014, the programme was expanded to include all decile 1 to 10 primary, intermediate, and secondary schools.

However, MSD’s Deputy Chief Executive, Murray Edridge,  revealed that there had been a “47 per cent  increase since the expansion of the programme” in 2013;

“82 per cent of all participating schools are now providing KickStart breakfasts for more than two days per week and 58 per cent of schools are serving breakfasts for all five days of the week.”

This is at variance with Key’s assertions – made as late as 19 March last year – that hungry children going to school was not a problem. In minimising the problem, Key said;

“These are the facts,” Mr Key said. “At Te Waiu o Ngati Porou School, Ruatoria, Decile one, how many children came to school without lunch – answer – zero.”

At Sylvia Park School, decile two – there one or two kids, and at Manurewa Intermediate, a decile one school with a roll of 711, perhaps 12 had gone to school with no lunch.

Yes there is an issue where some children come to school without lunch. That number of children is relatively low.”

The rise in demand for KickStart breakfasts occurred at the same time as those on  welfare benefits was cut dramatically;

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said today the 309,145 people on benefit at the end of the December 2014 quarter was 12,700 fewer than last year.

“This is the lowest December quarter since 2008 and the third consecutive quarter with such record lows,” Tolley says.

Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit had fallen by more than 5500 since last year and had declined consistently since 2010, even as the overall working age population increased.

Even children with disabilities did not escaped this government’s culling of welfare recipients;

More than 11,000 disabled children have lost access to a welfare benefit that is supposed to support them, as officials try to rein in previously-ballooning costs.

A Child Poverty Action Group report on disabled children, launched in Auckland today, said children supported by the child disability allowance almost trebled from 17,600 in 1998 to 45,800 in 2009, but were then cut back to just 34,500 last June.

The cut has been achieved both by tightening criteria and by simply not publicising the allowance.

The problem of hungry school children drew John Key’s attention as far back as 2007, when he was still Leader of the Opposition;

National launches its Food in Schools programme
Sunday, 4 February 2007, 1:21 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

John Key MP
National Party Leader

3 February 2007

National launches its Food in Schools programme

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re putting Tasti and Wesley Primary together. This is a fantastic first step. In addition to this, Tasti has indicated they may wish to expand their generous donation of food to other schools in need, and we’ll be looking to facilitate that.

“We all instinctively know that hungry kids aren’t happy and healthy kids.”

Mr Key is also inviting other businesses to contact National so it can work on expanding the programme.

“I want this to be the first of many schools and businesses that we put together. I’m interested in what works and I am humbled by the support this idea has received already. We are going to put together the package while in Opposition. We are not waiting to be in Government, because all our kids deserve better.”

According to National,  this was a critical problem in 2007.

Yet, on 19 March, National and it’s coalition supporters voted down Mana’s “Feed the Kids” Bill (which had been taken over by the Green Party after Hone Harawira lost his Te Tai Tokerau seat in 2014). The Bill was defeated 61 to 59, courtesy of National, ACT, and Peter Dunne.

MSD also disclosed that 26 applications for participation in the KickStart programme had been declined. This included Early Childhood Education (ECE) providers. No reason was given despite the OIA request specifically asking the basis for which applications were declined.

This indicates that pre-schoolers are presently attending ECE facilities and going hungry.

The MSD also admitted that Charter Schools – which are funded at a higher rate than State and Integrated Schools – also participate in the KickStart programme. Their information did not reveal how many or which Charter Schools were participating. The MSD statement confirmed that “the provision of the [KickStart] programme  does not affect a school’s funding“.

Kidscan currently lists fourteen schools that are still awaiting “urgent support, that’s 1,661 children waiting for food, clothing and basic healthcare“.

In contrast, several European nations provide free meals to school children;

The school lunch provides an important opportunity for learning healthy habits, and well-balanced school meals have been linked to improved concentration in class, better educational outcomes and fewer sick days. Given the importance of these meals, what is being done across Europe to ensure all children have a balanced and enjoyable lunch?

Many countries in Europe have policies to help schools provide nutritionally balanced meals which also reflect the general eating culture of each nation. Often, lunch is eaten in a cafeteria-like setting where children receive food from a central service point (e.g. Finland, Sweden and Italy).

In Finland and Sweden, where all school meals are fully funded by the government, lunches follow national dietary guidelines including the ‘plate model’. An example meal is presented to guide children’s self-service…

Finland – which consistently scores highly in OECD PISA educational rankings – introduced free school meals in 1948;

Finland was the first country in the world to serve free school meals. 1948 is seen as being the year when free school catering really  started, though catering activities on a smaller scale had been around since the beginning of the 20th century.

[…]

Section 31 of the Basic Education Act states that pupils attending school must be provided with a properly organised and supervised,  balanced meal free of charge every school day.

[…]

The role of school meals is to be a pedagogical tool to teach good nutrition and eating habits as well as to increase consumption of  vegetables, fruits and berries, full corn bread and skimmed or low fat milk.

Interestingly, the Finns describe free school meals as an Investment in Learning;

In Finland, we are proud of our long history of providing free school meals…

… A good school meal is an investment in the future.

With rising housing and rental costs, and wage increases  at or below inflation, not every family can successfully balance budgets to ensure a nutritious meal for their children. When it comes to a decision whether to pay the power bill, or cut back on groceries for the week – it is often the latter that is sacrificed.

The Salvation  Army recently  outlined the problem of the phenomenon known as the “working poor“;

Every week 314 new people contact the Salvation Army for assistance, and those who are currently working are often at risk too.

[…]

The Salvation Army says it is meeting more and more responsible people who have experienced misfortune that has derailed their lives.

It believes the cost of rent is a dangerous factor, even for those working.

“It doesn’t leave a lot of room for something to go wrong,” says Jason Dilger, a representative for the Salvation Army. “I do believe there are a significant number of people out there who are vulnerable.”

It says an increasing number of Kiwis are living pay-by-pay, but ideally everyone would have a financial safety net set aside to help with any unexpected hiccups.

“So many people aren’t even in a position to think that way because they’re just trying to meet expenses week to week.”

In a 2014 report, the Salvation Army stated;

Given the recent growth in the number of jobs available and the gradual decline in levels of unemployment, we should have seen a  tapering off in demand for food parcels from food banks. We have not seen this. Such demand has remained virtually unchanged since 2010, which suggests that many households are still struggling to pay bills and feed their family despite the economy recovery. Overall living costs of low income households appear to be moving in line with general inflation.

Which illustrates that the problems faced by poor, lowly-paid, and beneficiary families is not choices in expenditure – but low incomes which fail to meet the many day-to-day, week-to-week, demands placed on them.

From the 1950s through to the  1970s, a single income was often sufficient to raise a family and pay the bills.

In contemporary New Zealand, this is no longer the case. Falling rates of home-ownership is just one indicator that incomes are not keeping pace with rising costs of living.

Growing child poverty is another symptom of the increase in inequality since the mid-1980s. Prior to the 1980s, food banks were practically an unknown rarity;

Nationally, the number of foodbanks exploded following the 1991 benefit cuts, and the passage of the Employment Contracts Act (ECA). For those in already low-paid and casual jobs, the ECA resulted in even lower wages (McLaughlin, 1998), a situation exacerbated by the high unemployment of the early 1990s (11% in 1991). The benefit cuts left many with debts, and little money to buy food (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). In 1992 the introduction of market rents for state houses dealt another blow to state tenants on low incomes. By 1994 it was estimated that there were about 365 foodbanks nationally, one-fifth of which had been set up in the previous year (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999).” – “Hard to swallow – Foodbank Usage in NZ”, Child Poverty Action Group, 2005

Shifting responsibility for this ever-growing problem onto  victims of inequality and poverty is a form of denial. It is little more an attempt to evade the problem, especially when no practical solutions (other than class-based eugenics) are offered.

Addressing the real causes of poverty and working-poor will be a tough call. Ensuring that all children are provided nutritious meals at school is the first step down this road.

As John Key said nine years ago;

“We all instinctively know that hungry kids aren’t happy and healthy kids.

… all our kids deserve better.”

Indeed, John. I couldn’t have said it better.

Postscript

The MSD response to my OIA request also confirmed that the increased up-take of the KickStart programme was not restricted solely to low-decile schools;

Since the expansion [in 2013] 170 schools rated decile five or higher have joined the programme.

Which indicates that schools in middle-class areas are now requiring State assistance to feed hungry children.

 

 

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References

Email: OIA Response from Ministry of Social Development

Kickstart Programme: Home

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

NZ Herald: 300,000+ Kiwi kids now in relative poverty

Parliament Today: Questions and Answers – November 5

Scoop media: Hone Harawira – Feed the Kids Bill

NZ Herald: Harawira’s ‘feed the kids’ bill begins first reading

Radio NZ: Govt gives $9.5m to expand food in schools programme

Radio NZ: Government to expand food in schools programme (audio)

Kickstart Programme: FAQ

NZ Herald:  Government votes down ‘feed the kids’ bill

Radio NZ: Parliament rejects free school lunch bills

Fairfax media: Beneficiary numbers fall again: Government

NZ Herald: 11,000 disabled children lose welfare benefit

Scoop media: National launches its Food in Schools programme

Radio NZ: Ministry says charter schools “over-funding” is $888,000

Kidscan: Supporting Schools

European Food Information Council: School lunch standards in Europe

Wikipedia: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – 2012

NZ Federation of Family Budgetting: Why are so many of us struggling financially?

Child Poverty Action Group: Hard to swallow: Foodbank use in New Zealand

Additional

Fightback: Feed the Kids, end the hunger system

NZ Herald: Number of Kiwi kids in poverty jumps by 60,000

Previous related blogposts

Can we afford to have “a chat on food in schools”?

National dragged kicking and screaming to the breakfast table

Are we being milked? asks Minister

High milk prices? Well, now we know why

Poor people – let them eat cake; grow veges; not breed; and other parroted right wing cliches

Poor people – let them eat cake; grow veges; not breed; and other parroted right wing cliches… (part rua)

Once were warm hearted

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 February 2016.

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