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Posts Tagged ‘Alliance Party’

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

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 24 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Will The Mana party and The Internet party form an alliance?

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

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (25′ 54″ )

  • Mana Party
  • Internet Party
  • Hone Harawira
  • Kim Dotcom
  • The Alliance
  • Sue Bradford
  • Roy Morgan Poll
  • Shane Jones, Winston Peters, NZ First, The Green Parrot Restaurant
  • Hekia Parata, Kohanga Reo National Trust, performance pay for teachers
  • Ernst Young, Serious Fraud Office, PISA Education Ratings
  • Judith Collins, Oravida
  • John Key, China, Fran O’Sullivan, Rod Oram
  • Labour Party, Forestry policy, Red Stag Timber, government procurement

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WTF? Is John Key having a melt down?!

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Key_cunliffe_mccarten

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On Radio NZ’s “Nine To Noon” programme, ex-Labour Party president, Mike Williams described the appointment of veteran political campaigner, Matt McCarten, as “either an act of lunacy or a stroke of brilliance“.

This blogger opts for the latter – this was a strategic master-stroke by Cunliffe and the Labour Party hierarchy. In one move, Cunliffe has;

  • appointed one of the most skilled veteran political campaigners in the country,
  • sent a message to Labour members that the Party is moving away from the corporate-driven neo-liberal concensus,
  • chosen a political figure with a wealth of experience  and who has contacts across the political spectrum,
  • is highly respected by those on the Left and Right of the political spectrum.

It is hard to see who could have filled this role any better.

Judging by comments from National’s leader, John Key, the appointment has struck a raw nerve. Key is obviously worried, as his comments across the media clearly suggest,

Fairfax media;

“He [McCarten] is hard-Left.”

TV1;

“The reality is that Matt McCarten comes from the hard left, he’s been deeply involved with the Unite Union…”

Radio NZ;

 “They’ve taken a long time to get their press team together, they’ve gone through now a couple of chiefs of staff, their caucus is not at all united, it’s very divided, and I think they’re going to struggle to keep control of that caucus.”

TV3;

“The tone for Labour will be much more aligned with what we see from the Greens.  They’ll have a certain appeal to a small audience of New Zealanders, but most New Zealanders will know that means bad news when it comes to jobs, when it comes to economic growth, and to a competitive economy.

[…]

David Cunliffe was put into his job by the unions and this is the unions getting an even tighter grip on the direction of the Labour Party.

I really don’t think he’ll have a dog show of unifying the Labour Party.”

Key is most definitely worried. If he wasn’t, he would have shrugged his shoulders at media questions and dismissed the issue as trivial and none of his concern.

When Matt McCarten was an organiser for the Alliance Party in the 1990s, he achieved the near impossible; taking a relatively new political movement from two to 13 Members of Parliament in the first MMP election in 1996.

No wonder the Nats are worried. And no wonder right-wing zealots on Kiwiblog and elsewhere are staining their underwear in anxiety. They fully understand the implications of Matt’s  new role and influence in this year’s election. This is a serious  (excuse the cliche) game-changer.

But more than winning the election, Matt’s appointment indicates that Labour is no longer wedded to the neo-liberal policies of the last 30 years – policies which even Helen Clark only tinkered with around the edges, such as reforming the Employment Contracts Act into the Employment Relations Act.

It also sends a clear, unequivocal signal to any remaining “ABC” elements within the Labour Parliamentary caucus – do not mess with the Leader.  As our American cuzzies like to phrase it, “Matt’s got his back”.

For John Key, two words – Game On.

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References

Radio NZ:  Matt McCarten tipped to be Labour’s new chief of staff (audio)

Fairfax media: Matt McCarten new Labour chief of staff

Radio NZ: McCarten taking Labour hard left – PM

TV3: Labour leans to left with McCarten – Key

TV1: Key tips Labour to go ‘careering to the left’

Wikipedia: 1996 General Election

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If I can get of my arse to work in a crappy underpaid job

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 February 2014.

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The “man ban”; animal testing; GCSB Bill; and compulsory miltary training

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The “man ban”…

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Labour’s hierarchy has  dumped the so-called “man ban” (hat-tip to right wing bloggers for mental short-hand term which is little more than  a  knee-jerk emotional response requiring no deep thinking).

As Labour leader David Shearer pointed out,

The distraction is turning our attention away from the issues that most New Zealanders are concerned about. They don’t want to know about what is happening in the Labour Party.

What they want to know is what we are doing on the issues that affect them. That’s power prices, home ownership and good jobs.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Labour backs away from man-ban plan

Indeed.

Looking back at the last couple of days, this has become a plaything for right-wing bloggers and the Topic Of The Day for lazy journos who can’t be bothered spending half a day researching on issues such as  “ministerial  release progress reports” which are little more than propaganda puff-pieces for National.

As Andrew Geddis pointed on on The Pundit,

My first thought is that the coverage of this issue is pretty revealing of the crappy state of political journalism in NZ. The media have essentially taken the narrative spin of a couple of explicitly pro-National blogsites (complete with the manufactured slogan of “man ban”) and replicated it verbatim – after searching out a few disaffected Labour-connected voices to underpin it. There’s been no attempt to set the issue in context (I’ve yet to see any discussion about the general issue of the ongoing, static under-representation of women in NZ’s Parliament), no attempt to look at overseas precedent (it took me 2 minutes on google to discover that “all-women short lists” are par for the course in the UK) and no attempt to compare Labour’s gender-representation record with that of anyone else.”

Acknowledgement: The Pundit – Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors

This was not handled correctly from Day One.

When it first came to my attention, my own response was a head shake; groan of despair; and a face-palm. (see previous blogpost: Facepalm #1: Labour) I could immediatly guess  the consequences; the response from the Right; and the frenzied headlines in my minds’ eye.

I was not disappointed.

Cameron, David, et al, had their fun. (Which is ironic considering that ACT is a Rich White Man’s Club that shafted it’s one successful female MP, and National has only 25% female MPs – the worst of the five main multi-MP parties.)

The greatest irony here is that encouraging a 50/50 male/female ration of  party candidates is nothing new to New Zealand politics. The old Alliance Party had a strict policy encouraging gender, geographical, race, etc, spread over it’s Party List rankings.

There was no grand announcement on this policy.

We Just Did It.

As such it never made headlines and people simply accepted that gender equality was an issue of plain Kiwi fairness and not this nebulous concept of “PC gone mad” – whatever that might be.

This is where Labour mis-calculated. They should simply have proceeded with the policy and not bothered with any media release.

By making a Big Deal about it, they simply fed the lazy mainstream media looking for Shock! Horror! headlines,  and voracious right-wing blogs which are always on the look out to deflect attention away from National’s problems (and they are legion, believe me).

My suggestion to Labour – Just Do It anyway.

And screw Cameron Slater, David Farrar, et al. Those two National sycophants won’t be voting Labour anyway, any time soon.

After Labour achieves 50% women MPs, it will then be up to National to play “catch up” – and right wing bloggers and commentators to explain why the Party of  Aspiration can’t do better than 25% female representation.

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Animal testing…

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The Greens have announced an attempt to amend the Psychoactive Substances Bill in Parliament  to stop animal testing for party pills.

This heinous aspect to the Bill would permit the exploitation of  animals to test party drugs to determine safety for human consumption.

In a recent blogpost, the NZ Herald was taken to task for mis-representing the Green position on animal testing (see: NZ Herald mis-represents Green Party spokesperson on synthetic ‘highs’). The journo responsible for that mis-reporting – Kurt Bayer –  has never responded to queries from this blogger as to whether the Herald would publish a correction to the errors in the story.

Even right wing, pro-business ACT MP, John Banks, has stated his opposition to using animals to test party drugs (see: Greens leading bid to stop animal testing for party pills).

Let me be totally blunt on this issue;

  1. If adults are foolish enough to ingest these “party” drugs or smoke synthetic cannabis – that is their decision. Let the consequences fall on their own heads if, after all the publicity, they still decide to use this crap.
  2. I’m all for testing. Go for it.
  3. But I see no reason to use animals to test substances that have no practical benefits, and are simply “fun drugs”.  It is obscene that National is even considering allowing  harm to come to animals simply to test these nasty drugs, which are  for “recreational” purposes.
  4. It is an indictment of our society that Parliament could even consider such an abuse of animals.

I hope National sees sense and deletes that part of the Bill.

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GCSB Bill – Key, Shearer, Dunne, & Peters

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Key is desperate to pass both the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill – both of which extend the powers of the State to access our communications;  surveil New Zealanders; and store vast amounts of information on us.

Once upon a time, if the State wanted more powers for the Police or spy agencies, they had to justify it with the public and seek consent.

Now, in 2013AD, it is the public that has to defend it’s right to privacy and why the various arms of the State should keep out of our lives.

It is hugely ironic that ACT, right ring bloggers, and other commentators support these two odious pieces of legislation.

Right wing parties such  ACT  usually advocate vigorously for reducing State involvement in our lives,

To this end the ACT Party upholds the following principles:

  • that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities; and

  • that the proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not to assume such responsibilities.

Acknowledgement: ACT Principles

The latest news is that Winston Peters and Peter Dunne – both with an eye on public opinion and the growing unease caused by these two Bills – are reviewing their support.

Peter Dunne

Mr Dunne says the review panel is a good start, but remains unconvinced that the bill in its current form provides enough protections to individuals and their private information. He says he doesn’t want to go into too much detail about other changes under negotiation.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – GCSB bill needs more changes – Dunne

Winston Peters

Mr Peters was not impressed with the changes Mr Key has agreed to by way of giving the oversight watchdog, the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence, a panel of two to act as a sounding board.

“The surveillance panel was right only if the law was right and the law is not right.

“This bill does not work.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald –Spy bill hits roadblock as Peters lays into Key’s changes

Both men must be considering one simple reality; as the implications of these two Bills grows in the  public’s  consciousness, do they really want to be associated with a growing Surveillance State; loss of privacy; and Big Brother?

These two Bills may be fast becoming  National’s “shower heads” moment.

The questions that demand answers are;

  • Do Winston  Peters and Peter Dunne want to be dragged down by National’s agenda on this issue?
  • Do they want to be tarred with the blackened brush of Big Brother?
  • Who stands for the rights of citizens?
  • And are Labour and the Greens prepared to turn the tide back?

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And compulsory military training

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I want to say goodbye - gunman's last wish

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – I want to say goodbye – gunman’s last wish

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This story undermines notions expressed by  folk with simplistic views that “a spot of military training” is all that’s needed to “buck up the ideas” of alienated young men and women.

Giving military training and putting guns into the hands of angry young men who feel resentful against society, is not a panacea for our social problems.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 July 2013.

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“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue”- Peter Dunne

16 January 2013 15 comments

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student debt

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In a recent blogpost (see: Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall) the nadir of National’s cost-cutting to funding of our public services was revealed in a succession of NZ Herald stories,

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Govt eyes cuts to elective surgery

Full story

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In a repeat of  (then-Health Minister) Bill English’s cost cutting of the public health sector  in the late 1990s, National is once again targetting social services that will impact most harshly on our youngest and most vulnerable – our children. It defies understanding  and flies in the face of our supposed reputation for being “a great place to bring up children”.

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Govt's proposed health cuts could affect children - Labour

Full story

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As one respondent stated on a previous blogpost,

“One of the major reasons in combatting glue ear is improving a child’s academic performance.

Ensuring academic success with today’s children offers the best prospect of growing tomorrow’s economy, reducing unemployment, increasing the living standard, generally reducing the country’s/ world’s problems, etc.

Is this not a smart investment? How National fails to understand this is bewildering.” –  ‘Procrastinator’, 12 January 2012

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Doubt over savings from restricting ear treatment

Full story

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“Bewildering”, indeed.

Until one starts to “connect-the-dots” and a slightly new – though all-to-familiar – picture emerges.

To complete the picture, some more “dots”,

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Parents face burden of preschool squeeze

Full story

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Budget 2012 - 'Paper boy tax' on small earnings stuns Labour

Full story

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Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted

Full story

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Meds price hike - 'Children will die'

Full story

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Petrol price rises to balance books

Full story

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And the latest,

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Student-loan dodgers face tough crackdown

Full story

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Revenue Minister Peter Dunne sez,

It’s fundamentally a fairness issue.”

I call “bollocks” on that.

This has as much to do with “fairness” as the US invasion of Iraq had to do with locating Saddam Hussein’s mythical  “weapons of mass destruction”.

Let’s be upfront and honest here, Mr Dunne. This has squat to do with “fairness”.  After all,  if  National ministers and their coalition “partners” truly wanted to make this an issue of  ” fundamental fairness “, then perhaps Mr Dunne and his colleagues should look in the mirror first.

Starting with Peter Dunne himself…

Peter Dunne ” graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1977 with a Master of Arts Degree with Honours in Political Science, and has also studied business administration at Massey University ” (see: Beehive.govt.nz: Peter Dunne ).

With student loans for tertiary education fees  not kicking in until 1992 (see: Timeline of New Zealand history), Peter Dunne’s own University education was  free.

He paid nothing for his Master of Arts Degree with Honours in Political Science, nor for his  business administration studies at Massey University which were most likely carried out prior to 1988, when he was an Associate Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management (see: Beehive.govt.nz: Peter Dunne ). I can find no record indicating whether or not Dunne graduated from his business course at Massey.

On top of his free education, Dunne probably also qualified for a student allowance – again courtesy of the New Zealand taxpayer and non-repayable.

The Prime Minister, John Key, and Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, also gained their respective University education free of charge – courtesy of the taxpayer. In Bennett’s case, she used the WINZ Training Incentive Allowance to pay for her tertiary education – which she later cut back so it is now no longer available for other solo-parents (see: Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her).

Peter Dunne was partially correct in one respect, though,

There’s a certain sense of annoyance amongst people who stayed in New Zealand and diligently worked to pay off their loans that these freeloaders overseas are, in some cases, getting away with it.”

See: Student-loan dodgers face tough crackdown

The free-loaders though, are not the students who’ve escaped the double-standards; hypocrisy; and sheer plain selfishness of our country. The real free-loaders are every single Tory politician and bludging right-winger who gained a free taxpayer funded tertiary education – and then proceeded to force subsequent generations of young New Zealanders to pay for their University education.

The real free loaders are hypocrites such as Peter Dunne who paid nothing for his years at  University – whilst now expecting others for pay. And on top of that, using the full force of the State to enforce payment.

No wonder that so many New Zealanders, like Matthew Fraher, who  left for Australia in 2000, are justifiably angry. As he pointed out about politicians, they,

“… didn’t pay a dime and they’re having a go at us.”

See: Student loan debtor: I’m better off in Australia

And the system is actually encouraging graduates to leave the country. As Mr Fraher correctly stated,

I was paying about $10,000 a year just doing the minimum amount for the last three and a half years.

When I go to Australia I’ll be paying back $3000 a year.

They’re actually making an incentive to leave the country. “If anyone thinks that’s sensible or good policy, their head’s not right.”

See: IBID

None of the student fees/loans/debt makes any sense. Not socially, not economically, and certainly not for our country’s future as we continue to bleed people to Australia and further afield.

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evansknowlegewave

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Only  certain politicians and the low-information voters who voted for this mess could possibly think any of this was a good idea.

The sad thing is that New Zealand was warned of this eventuality in the 1990s by social commentators, left-wing activists,  and political parties such as The Alliance.

The real motive for National’s under-funding and cutting social services; taxing newspaper-delivery boys and girls;  and their latest witch-hunt to grab back every cent they can manage to ring from ex-students, is quite simple: National is desperate for cash.

After two unaffordable tax-cuts in 2009 and 2010, which cost this country in billions of dollars in lost revenue (see; Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting, Deficit halved, but still higher than forecast), National is scrambling to cut services to save money and to raise revenue from every possible source.

All for promises of two tax cuts we couldn’t afford in 2008 – and still can’t afford now, five years later.

Alex Tarrant, from Interest.co.nz,  summed matters up succinctly when he wrote last year,

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Treasury lowers govt's forecast for 2014 2015 surplus to NZ$66 mln

Full story

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Mr Tarrant left out one vital factor: the tax cuts. He refers to “government receiving almost NZ$8 billion less in tax revenue over the next four years” – which is precisely the figure that The Green Party uncovered after some judicious political detective work,

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ — paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

“Borrowing $2 billion in 18 months to fund upper-income tax cuts is fiscally irresponsible.

“National’s poor economic decisions have led to record levels of government debt and borrowing.

“They have also broken a promise to the electorate when they said their tax cut package was going to be fiscally neutral.”

See: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Dr Norman is correct – National did indeed promise that tax cuts would be “fiscally neutral”.  But more than that, in 2008, National also pledged,

National’s rebalancing of the tax system is self-funding and requires no cuts to public services or additional borrowing.

See: National/Economy/Tax Policy

That has to be the biggest,  bare-faced lie from National since John Key took over leadership of that Party in November 2006.

It is also worth noting that  National’s expected surplus for 2014/15 is a mere $66 million. That is a fraction of the $72.9 to $74.9 billion in Core Crown expenses for the 2014/15 period (see:  Fiscal Outlook). It’s the cost of a damaged bridge-repair  or other unforeseen circumstance requiring government expenditure.

Little wonder that Ministers are directing their departments to scrimp and scrape to save every dollar they can get away with.

The reason this is so vital to National?

Because every other economic and social indicator is either stagnating, or getting worse. With their free market “hands off” policy, National is unable to intervene directly in the economy  in any meaningful way (except provide subsidies to certain industries like multi-billion dollar movie conglomerates).

National finds itself unable to engage in job creation programmes – that is the role of business, said Dear Leader,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. ” – John Key,  24 August 2012

See: Key Notes: Honouring our fallen soldiers

National can’t even bring itself to help Cantabrians with housing – that is the role of private enterprise, said Roly Poly Leader, Gerry Brownlee. (see:  Christchurch rent crisis ‘best left to market’)

With much of the economy “off limits” on ideological grounds and National unwilling to address critical social problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) – there is only one area where Key and his Party can show the voting public that they are an effective Party in power and “on top of things”: government spending.

In a bizarre form of political roulette, Key and English are gambling their political reputations on one throw of the dice; returning to Budget surplus in 2014/15.

That’s all they have. Most other economic and social indicators are worsening on an almost weekly or monthly basis and National’s Party strategists know that come the  2014 general election, they are in for a real nasty hiding if they cannot demonstrate to the public that they can return to surplus. After all, if the Nats can’t achieve even that, then voters would be scratching their heads and wondering what on Earth Key has been doing for six years.

That’s when Labour, NZ First, et al, will be showing clips of John Key dancing at radio stations, Gangnam-style. Or gormless-style.

Peter Dunne was being dishonest when he said, “It’s fundamentally a fairness issue“.

Rubbish. It has nothing to do with “fairness”.

What Dunne was really saying was, “It’s fundamentally a fiscal  issue”.

If Dunne was really interested in fairness, then I suggest that he, John Key, Paula Bennet, Stephen Joyce, et al, all pay back the full amount of student fees and living allowances that were paid to them when they were at University. Plus interest.

It might not dent the debt that National has accumulated since 2009 – but at least they’d be setting an example to the country, and not engaging in rank hypocrisy.

What about it, Mr Dunne – will you be paying for your University degree?

Addendum 1

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2013 at 0:06
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Student debt
To: “peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz” <peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz>

Kia ora Mr Dunne,

You have been recently reported in the media as pursuing student loan holders who have left the country and who are not re-paying their student loan debt.

In the NZ Herald you are quoted as saying,

“There’s a certain sense of annoyance amongst people who stayed in New Zealand and diligently worked to pay off their loans that these freeloaders overseas are, in some cases, getting away with it.”

It is common knowledge that you yourself (along with John Key, Paula Bennett, Stephen Joyce, et al) are all beneficiaries of a free, tax-payer funded tertiary education.

The record states that you graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1977 with a Master of Arts Degree with Honours in Political Science, and has also studied business administration at Massey University.

You may even have been in receipt of a taxpayer funded and non-repayable student allowance.

To show true leadership on this issue and to set an example to student loan holders, can we assume that you will be paying the cost of your tertiary education, along with repayment of any allowances received; plus interest?

To many people it seems curiously hypocritical that you are demanding payment for education from other people whilst not paying your own fair share.

As you said in the NZ Herald on 10 January,

“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue.”

Let’s put it to the test, shall we? It’s fundamentally a fairness issue that you pay for something that others have to pay for as well.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

Addendum 2

National’s (tax payer funded) media spin doctors have been using a particular ‘line’ when it comes to cost-cutting our social services; instead of reducing government debt, they say that “savings will be reinvested” in other areas of state services.

Here are a few examples from above,

The money would be used for smarter investment in other parts of the health system.”

See: Govt eyes cuts to elective surgery

Joyce says the changes will slice $250m off the loan book and create $60m to $70m per annum savings for the Government, which would be re-invested in the tertiary sector.”

See: Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted

The Government has announced it will make the first increase in prescription cost in 20 years at next week’s budget to fund reinvestment in the health sector in lean economic times.”

See: Meds price hike: ‘Children will die

It’s such a subtle piece of BS spin that it’s hardly noticeable. But it all a lie, of course. The cost-cutting – which they refer to as “savings” – will be used to reduce borrowing. And the borrowing is necessary because of the unwise, progligate taxcuts of 2009 and 2010.

Eventually, of course, most New Zealanders become weary of constant cuts to essential services and vote for a return to a Labour-led government. The re-building of our social services then begins in earnest,

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$1.5b injection for health - 9 December 2001

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Been there. Done that. Lost the t-shirt off my back.

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Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall

The Great New Zealand Scam

An Expensive Lesson?

It’s official: Political Dissent Discouraged in NZ!

Greed is good?

References

The Atlantic: Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

NZ Herald: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b

Fairfax media: Budget 2012: The main points

Scoop.co.nz: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Fairfax media: Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted

Dominion Post: Ten students owe $2.9 million in loans

NZ Herald: Student-loan dodgers face tough crackdown

NZ Herald: Student loan debtor: I’m better off in Australia

Beehive.govt.nz: Peter Dunne

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Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties

29 July 2012 4 comments

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A previous moral hysteria surrounding welfare beneficiaries and especially solo mums (but never solo dads) took place back in August 2009, when Paula Bennett released the files of two solo-mothers who had dared to criticise the Minister for closing down the Training Incentive Allowance.

Despite having no  authorisation or right to do so, Bennett  released details of the  women’s  WINZ files to the media and three years later there is still an outstanding complaint against her. It was a nasty, vindictive abuse of Ministerial power not seen since the autocratic rule of  Robert Muldoon.

Attacks on solo mums reached a hysterical crescendo that could only be described as naked misogyny – especially from a sector of the male population that has never had much success in relating to women. There were vile comments on many internet fora that cannot be repeated in polite company.

Fast forward to April 2012, and National is facing so much bad news that the media and bloggers are finding it difficult to choose what to hone in on.  Just to remind us about some of the problems confronting National,

  • Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year
  • Total unemployment up to 160,000 – 6.7% of the workforce
  • The government tax-take is down by $1.57 billion  in the first nine months of the fiscal year
  • Government deficit increases to $6.13 billion, or $800 million more than forecast
  • Migration to Australia is increasing, with a net loss of 39,100 to the year ending February 2012
  • Wages continue to lag behind Australia
  • New Zealand’s sovereign debt is at a massive  $13.5 billion dollars
  • Student debt is at a record $13 billion – and rising
  • Widening wealth/income gap
  • Increasing child poverty and poverty-related disease on a massive scale
  • Increased repayments demanded from tertiary students – effectively a tax increase
  • Ongoing public resistance to state asset sales
  • Ongoing public resistance to selling productive farmland to overseas investors
  • Ongoing public resistance to mining in conservation lands
  • A growing public disquiet over a hydrocarbon-extraction process known as “fracking”
  • Selling legislation for a convention centre and 500 extra pokies
  • Ministers involved in scandal after scandal
  • Key’s ‘teflon coating’ now practically non-existent, and developing a reputation for not being upfront with the public
  • A coalition partner whose brand is now so toxic  that even right wingers are singing it’s funeral dirges
  • and numerous other negative indicators

Time for the government  Spin Doctors to swing into action, and deflect attention from National’s apalling track record thus far.

Time to dust of the Manual for Deflection, and flick through to the chapter on blaming solo mums (but never solo dads) for the ills of the country; the Black Plague in the Middle Ages; both World Wars; and most likely the sinking of the Titanic.

Time for John Key to point at some young woman pushing a pram,  and shout – “Hey! Look over there!”

It worked in 2009.

See: Benefits of 50 to be scrutinised

Why not try it again, wonder National’s faceless, taxpayer-funded spin-doctors and strategists,  to deflect  public attention from  scandals and poor management of the economy?

See: Bennett increases pursuit of welfare ‘rorts’

See: Drug tests for more beneficiaries mooted

See: New welfare law a ‘war on poor’

See: Big families mean big welfare dollars

New Zealanders (in general) are suckers for this kind of Deflect & Demonise Strategy.

It’s what National  does, when their economic policies fail; they blame it on the poor; the unemployed; widows; solo-mums (but never solo-dads), etc. It’s what the right wing do, blaming their failed policies on others. Because as we all know, right wingers are Big on Personal Responsibility… (Except for themselves.)

It happened in the 1990s. It’s repeating again.

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It’s pretty much a given that the ACT is now living on borrowed time, and will end up in the political  rubbish bin of history. It was never popular with mainstream New Zealand in the first place – New Zealanders having had a bitter  taste of it’s ideology in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

Events over the last couple of years; last twelve months; and last few weeks, a cascade of scandals and dirty dealings have left the public wondering if lunatics had, indeed, taken over the asylum called ACT. For a Party that advocated the purity of market-driven efficiency, it was prone to one bizarre gaffe after another. They couldn’t even update their own website several months after last year’s elections.

So ACT will be gone after the next election.

The result has been media, pundit, and public  speculation of  a new potential Coalition partner for National. There has been recent speculation in the last week or so that Colin Craig’s Conservative Party might make a suitable candidate to shore up National’s numbers in the House.

I doubt that.

For one thing, does National really want a new coalition partner that appears to be every bit as flaky as ACT?

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Full Story

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We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Riiiiight.

Obviously Mr Craig has, um, “researched” this issue in some depth?! Did he go “undercover“, I wonder? And did he go “one-on-one”  with his “subjects“?

On this rare occassion, I find myself in sympathy with the Smiling One,

“… Colin Craig, had suggested New Zealand women were the most promiscuous in the world and therefore should not get taxpayer funded contraception.

Key resisted taking the Lord’s name in van and rolling his eyes.

But he did say “it’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

See:  John Key’s problem with partners

Indeed.  If   the government lasts full term. Which I doubt.

National has a problem in this area. It has no viable coalition partner, and is unlikely to find one in the foreseeable future.

Part of that reality is based on MMP and how it has affected Labour and National.

After MMP was introduced in 1996, Labour splintered into it’s constituent factions; the centrist ‘rump’ Labour Party; the environmentalist/social justice Green Party;  the overtly left-wing, worker’s,  Newlabour Party ; and the nationalist Maori party, Mana Motuhake. (The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP briefly coalesced into the Alliance Party, along with the Social Credit/Democrat Party and short-lived Liberal Party.)

The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP, had been part of the factional make-up of Labour. MMP simply separated out  it’s componants like a laboratory centrifuge. So when coalition talks took place, to form a Labour-led  Coalition Government, those same factions simply re-morphed.

Before anyone complains that MMP has created a “mess” – not true. These factions had always existed in Labour, and had constantly ‘jockeyed’ for influence within the greater ‘umbrella’ Labour banner.

Under MMP, these factions and negotiations were simply forced out into the open, for everyone to see. The same had been   happening under First Past the Post, but behind closed doors. This was internal party politics exposed to the glare of sunlight and public scrutiny.

National, on the other hand, did not fractionate  in such a similar, dramatic, manner. It lost two MPs to the New Zealand Liberal Party (in 1992), Conservative Party (formerly Right-Of-Centre Party), and one to the Christian Democrats. None of those fledgling parties  survived the grueling electoral process and quickly vanished into political history.

A third party, New Zealand First, had splintered from National earlier, and like Mana Motuhake became a nationalist party, but mainly from a pakeha perspective.

ACT was another party on the right, and appeared to draw support from both National and, to a lesser degree, Labour. It remained a small grouping, peaking in 1999 with nine MPs – largely at the expense of it’s larger right wing cousin, National.

It’s not that National doesn’t have potential coalition partners.  On the whole, National remains intact; a solid bloc of the centre-right. It’s potential coalition partners are already a part of National.

National’s only hope of picking up an extra seat or two is to rort the MMP one-seat threshold system, as it did by supporting John Banks in Epsom (with  success now mixed with regret, no doubt).  It could give a ‘nod and wink‘ to Colin Craig in the Rodney seat, and if he won that electorate, and if Craig’s Conservative Party polled the same as it did last year (2.65%), then it would gain four seats in total.

That might give National a chance at winning the next election.

But at what cost?

  • It would be seen to be once again manipulating the electoral system. The Epsom deal did not end well for National – do they really want to go down that road again?
  • The Conservatives are opposed to asset sales – so that policy would be off the agenda.
  • How would urban liberal voters view a coalition with a party such as the Conservatives? New Zealanders have always been averse to electing  overtly religious parties to Parliament (eg; Christian Heritage, Christian Coalition, Destiny New Zealand) and when some of United Future’s MPs were revealed as having a strong religious bent, they were pretty smartly voted out.
  • And would National want a flaky coalition partner with quasi-‘Christian’ overtones, and who seemed to view New Zealand women  in a casual Talibanesque-sort of way? How would National’s women MPs feel sitting alongside Colin Craig, knowing that he viewed them as the ” most promiscuous…  women in the world  “?

Craig’s Conservative Party may have a better chance to win seats in Parliament if the Electoral Commission’s review on MMP decides to recommend to Parliament that the Party Vote threshold be reduced from %5 to 4%.  Of course, the Commission can only recommend to Parliament, and any decision to reduce the Party Vote threshold will ultimately be up to the National-ACT-Dunne Coalition.

I suspect the Nats will adopt the 4% recommendation. Not because it’s fair (get a grip!), but because anything that assists ACT or the Conservative Party gain seats in Parliament will be welcomed with open arms by the Nats. Self interest rules.

The Greens’ submission to the Electoral Commission supported abolishing the Electoral Seat threshold as inherently unfair, and promote  reducing the Party Vote threshold from 5% to 4% to compensate for smaller Parties  such as NZ First, ACT, etc.

See: Green Party submission on the MMP Review

Likewise, this blogger suspects that National will probably reject any recommendation to abandon the Electoral-Seat threshold.  (The Electoral Seat threshold is where Party X does not cross the current 5% Party Vote threshold, but if one of their candidates wins an electoral seat, they get an exemption from the 5% threshold, and gain as many MPs as their Party Vote allows.)

This may be National’s one and only  “electoral lifeline”, as ACT heads for the political guillotine – especially after John Banks’ incredible performance over his fraudulent 2010 Electoral Donations fiasco.

See: John Banks – escaping justice

However, since Craig’s comment nearly three months ago, he has moved on from denigrating women, to gays and lesbians. His latest comment is indicative of a man who has little tolerance for matters outside his narrow worldview, when on 27 July he ‘tweeted’,

It’s just not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal.”

See: Conservative leader says gay marriage ‘not right’

It take a spectacular degree of arrogance to decide that another consenting adult’s relationship is “not normal”.

This blogger feels it only appropriate that Mr Craig’s marriage to his wife should be put under the microscope.

It has been said often enough that those who vociferously oppose homosexuality (especially in males) often have a measure of sexual insecurity themselves. For many men, condemning and reviling  homosexuality has been an attempt to reaffirm their own heterosexuality by “proving their straightness” to themselves.

Perhaps, in this instance, Mr Craig may have something he wishes to get of his manly chest,

He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.

“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied.

See:  Colin Craig: ‘Gay parents not good role models’

Anything you want to share with us, Mr Craig? Don’t worry, we’re all consenting adults here…

Why are all small right wing parties loony-tunes?

Is this the sort of political party that National wants to cosy up to?

And more important – would a possible coalition with a bunch of religious homophobes and misogynists really endear  National’s voting-base to keep supporting the Nats?

Happy times for Dear Leader, John Key.

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National does have another potential coalition partner – the New Zealand First Party. Though their first attempt at coalition (in 1996) ended very badly for Winston Peters, that could be explained as “growing pains” after our very first MMP election. I doubt if any small Party would ever repeat such horrendous mistakes again.

But in coalescing with NZ First, National would have to abandon much of it’s right wing, neo-liberal agenda.  State asset sales would be gone by lunchtime. The sale of farmland to overseas investors would be restricted (if Peters is to be taken at his word). And the edge might be taken of other policies favoured by National.

On the other hand, NZ First had been punished previously for coalescing with National. As well, NZ First  has an active youth-wing that might not appreciate ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

Working with Winston Peters would be one very big rat for John Key to swallow. Considering how adamant he was back in 2008,

Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation.

See: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

And just last year,

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

See:  PM rules out any NZ First deal

If Winston Peters holds the balance of power, it will be a Phil Goff-led government.”

See:  Key names election date, rules out Winston Peters

Sealing a coalition deal with someone he has categorically ruled out in the past would damage Key’s credibility even further. Our Dear Leader is already developing something of a reputation for being “untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, smarmy and out of touch”.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Does he want to compound that perception by backtracking on his declaration that he cannot/will not work with the NZ First leader?

So Colin Craig it is.

And yes,

“It’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

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= fs =

February 15 – Protest at TPK! (Part Rua)

16 February 2012 2 comments

Continued from February 15 – Protest at TPK! (Part Tahi).

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Long time socialist and Alliance stalwart, Larry Hannah, made a firm point about the folly of selling public assets,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The media finally arrived and started filming,

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Occupy Wellington unfurled their banner,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

About two dozen protestors crowded around the front of TPK’s entrance,

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Below; Roimata (L) and Joyce (R) had joined the protest for their own reasons,

“I’m just concerned for my mokopuna”, said Roimata.

“I’m here for the important issues that affect maoridom,” added Joyce.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Benjamin, at the doors to TPK,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Dr Peter Love, from the Tenths Trust, and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, made his way to TPK,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

By 3pm, there were about 26 protesters and three police. By 3.05, two more Police arrived,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The newly arrived policeman had a quiet chat with Benjamin, for a few minutes,

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Ian, from the Workers Party, addressed passers-by, and on-lookers. He started out by explaining that “we are here today, against asset sales.” He added, “we want to see these assets run for public benefit, not private profit.”

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The media filmed Ian on the loudhailer, as he continued to make his case against asset sales, and honouring Treaty committments,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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John then took the loudhailer,   and said,

This is not consultation, this is bullshit. We cannot afford to give away our country to foreign corporations! Instead of sitting on our arses, let’s show [them] this country is not for sale!”

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Across the intersection, two more police officers were watching events,

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They seemed bemused by the protest – unlike their colleagues who were moving freely amongst the protestors, and chatting amicably.

By 3.13pm, the number of Maori Wardens increased to eight; police numbers went up to five; and at least one Diplomatic Protection Squad plainclothesman was present,

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The body language of the police (above) seemed in  stark contrast to the laid back, quiet nature of the protesters,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Warwick gave his views on state asset sales – none complimentary to the government,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

TPK Regional Leader, Te Huia (Bill) Hamilton, stopped for a friendly Kiaora and  brief chat with this blogger, before proceeding on his way,

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At 3.30, Hone Harawira arrived, and was well-recieved by people present,

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https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/rise-of-the-terminator-keybot/

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A chat with a journo,

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Hone was given the loudspeaker and he gave a brief address to the crowd,

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Hone spoke well, addressing the issue of state asset sales, and the relevance of the Treaty.

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Hone’s speech*,

Tena koe! Talofa lava!

That’s exactly what they expect to happen with these shares, and it is our duty; it is our obligation as citizens of Aotearoa, whether we are Maori or whatever, to do our best to stop this government from pushing this door open.  Because once open, these assets will be sold on the open market and our shareholdings, so-called 51%, is simply going to be a majority shareholding in a company whose primary interest is generating profit.

Nothing at all to do with the public good, only the generating of profit.  And any investor – doesn’t matter what sort of investor they are – they don’t put money into these sort of exercises because they love you and I. They put money in because they expect to get a lot of money back. And they get they money back in two ways; cutting costs, as they sack staff – or what are we doing outside Te Puni Kokiri?

The other way they do it is by raising prices! Now who’s going to pay for those higher prices in electricity? Ordinary New Zealand citizens! And who’s going to bear  the most price? The poor ones! Poor pakeha, poor pacifica, poor everybody else, poor maori. So we have an obligation to ensure that those assets are retained in the hands of the New Zealand government as trustee on behalf of the nation as a whole.

I’d like to thank the Courts for their decision today, to say to the government to put a stop to the sal of the Crafar farms. Not necessarily because they were being sold to the Chinese, but because they are New Zealand land being sold out of the hands of New Zealand citizens.

The more and more people we can bring to support this kaupapa, the greater will be our own sense of our sovereignty  and our ability to change the world. Life is not about sitting around and letting other people do to us what we wouldn’t allow to be done to anybody else. We have an obligation to our children, and our grandchildren,  to take up this stand today, here in Wellington  and thanks to [traffic noise] all of us, all around the country who’ve attended the Hui so far, and from what I understand an 88% rejection of the government’s plans to sell of these state assets.

Well, if there’s 88%, there must be a pretty low percentage in some of the other Huis because the three  Huis I attended was  a hundred percent opposition! One hundred percent!

Maori see the Treaty as a way of stopping these assets being sold on the open market until their Treaty claims are properly settled. New Zealanders should support Maori in these efforts because the Treaty exists  in this particular instance to benefit all New Zealanders…

… Tena koutou, tena koutou.”

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At about 3.40, Hone entered Te Puni Kokiri’s building and Seann advised the group that all  protesters were invited to accompany him. It was agreed that all banners, placards, and loud-hailers would be left at the doorway-entrance. People were asked to behave in a respectful manner.

Maori wardens would watch over their gear, while they attended the Hui.

Mana Party member and protest organisor, Seann had said earlier  that a more radical approach to attending the Hui would be to ask polite, but firm,  questions of the politician present – and insist on straight answers. He believed it would be more productive using this approach, than yelling at English and Ryall.

One of the police constables who had stood by TPK’s door said later to this blogger that he was satisfied with the way the protestors had conducted themselves. He said, “everyone has the right to protest peacefully, and I wouldn’t want to see us become like other countries where protest was forbidden“.

His relaxed demeanour indicated that he was sincere in his views.

All in all, this was a peaceful and relaxed (not a “John Key relaxed”) protest.

Note: this Blogger did not attend the Hui because of another prior engagement. Additional commentary from attendees will be welcomed.

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Media reporting

  • TV1 News: nil
  • TV3 News: nil
  • Radio NZ: nil
  • Dominion Post: nil


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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

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February 15 – Protest at TPK! (Part Tahi)

16 February 2012 3 comments

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At around 2pm, 15 February, members of the Mana Party, Labour, Alliance, Occupy Movement, and other groupings and individuals assembled outside Te Puni Kokiri, on the corner of Lambton Quay and Stout Street.

The protest was organised primarily by the Newtown Branch of the Mana Party, to coincide with a hui at the TPK offices.

The Hui was one of a series throughout the country called by the government;   facilitated by Wiri Gardner; and attended by  Ministers Bill English and Tony Ryall. English and Ryall  were expected to attend to listen to peoples’ concerns about Treaty implications regarding state asset (partial-)sales, and Section 9 of the SOE Act 1986.

John Key has suggested that Section 9 – which states simply, “Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the  – might be deleted from the SOE Act 1986. Many view such a move as a retrograde step, setting Crown-Maori relations back by decades.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Above; Darren Kemp (L) from the Mana Party; Cedric, (center) and  Jonathan Elliot (R). Darren and Jonathan were the first to arrive and take up placards opposing the sale of state assets.

Below, John (L) and Warwick (R), arived soon after. Warwick is a long-time supporter of the Alliance Party,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Jonathan (L) and Ian (center) from the Workers Party, handing out leaflets to passers-by,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

More people soon arrived to join the protest,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Donna was one who joined the protest. She said that “only a couple of people had been rude” to her as she handed out leaflets.  Donna was more concerned at “the apathy I find distressing. At least they should care for their children‘s future“,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Seann (holding sign), said that there should be more focus on Peter Dunne’s role in asset sales. He said that whilst it “might be a long shot“, Dunne was vulnerable because of his slim majority in Ohariu,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Ariana, from the Newtown Branch of Mana Party. Ariana said that Hone Harawira would be arriving at the Hui and would present a submission on Treaty issues surrounding state asset sales.

Ariana said that asset sales “makes this country  vulnerable to overseas corporatisation” and added that “selling our children’s assets was shameful “,

She questioned the  outcome of the Hui, “what will they do with the final consultation report?” Ariana did not seem confident that much notice would be taken of peoples’ concerns.

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More people arrived, and took up placards – including some other familiar faces from the Alliance,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Seann, Donna (center), and Freda,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Buses and cars honked their support every few minutes. We noticed bus drivers especially seemed very supportive of the protest, judging by their horn-honking as they went past,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The protest group was low-key, which perhaps explained only two police office and six Maori Wardens stationed nearby. Protestors, Wardens, TPK staff, and Police mingled and chatted amicably.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The signs said it all, and elicited support from drivers in their cars, and their drove past. Even if pedestrians did not stop and take a leaflet, I suspect that the protestor’s message of higher power prices would not be lost on them.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Bronwyn, a Labour Party member, chatting with Cedric (from TPK?),

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Mike, from the Alliance Party,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Bronwyn, with a very pertinent message to the government: does a one seat majority give them a mandate to pursue unpopular policies? Especially if this government is only one by-election away from faling.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Darren (L), Mike, and Len Arthur (R).

Len was visiting family, from  Cardiff, Wales. He is a supporter of Occupy Cardiff; a member of the UK Labour Party; and decided to join the protest after hearing about it from Socialist Aotearoa,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The message is simple and to the point; No asset sales and  privatisation will inevitably lead to higher power prices,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Benjamin, who describes himself as a “political busker”, held the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Warwick, Larry (background), ?, and Darren,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

During the first 30 to 45 minutes,  the laid-back situation still required the presence of only two constables. A couple of Occupy Wellington supporters had arrived, to join the protest,

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As the protest rally got larger, the msm arrived – as did more Police.   Word also got around that Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira would be arriving shortly…

To be continued Part Rua (so as not to overload this page with too many images).

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