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Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

12 October 2017 4 comments

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You can feel mainstream media’s frustration with the news-vacuum created by the two week period necessary to count the approximately 384,072 (15% of total votes) Special Votes that were cast this election.

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Winston Peters has announced on several occasions that he will wait until the Specials are counted and announced by the Electoral Commission on 7 October,  before making any announcements on coalition;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said…”

And you know what? He’s 100% right.

All the media pundit speculation; all the ambushing at airport terminals; all the annoyingly repetitive questions are utterly pointless. Peters simply cannot say anything meaningful until 7 October because the 2017 Election has not yet fully played out.

This is not a game of rugby where, after eighty minutes, a score determines a winner and loser (or draw).  In this game of “electoral rugby”, the score will not be delivered for two weeks.

The media – still feeling the adrenaline from Election Night “drama” – appears not to have realised this. The 24-Hour News Cycle is not geared toward a process lasting days or weeks.

One journalist writing for the NZ Herald, Audrey Young, even suggested that initiating coalition talks before the Specials were counted and announced was somehow a “good thing”;

It is surprising that NZ First has not begun talking to National yet, at a point when it has maximum leverage.

Not doing so before the special votes runs the risk having less leverage after the specials are counted should there be no change in the seats, or in the unlikely event of National gaining.

That bizarre suggestion could be taken further; why not announce a government before any votes are counted?

Pushed to maximum absurdity, why not announce a government before an election even takes place?  Banana republics fully recommend  this technique.

It says a lot about the impatience and immaturity of journalists that they are demanding decisions on coalition-building before all votes are counted. It is  doubtful if any journalist in Europe – which has had proportional representation far longer than we have – would even imagine  making such a nonsensical  suggestion.

Little wonder that Peters lost his cool on 27 September where he held a press conference and lambasted the mainstream media for their “drivel”;

“Now frankly if that’s the value you place on journalistic integrity you go right ahead, but the reality is you could point to the Electoral Commission and others and ask yourself why is it that 384,000 people will not have their vote counted until the 7th of October. 

Maybe then you could say to yourselves that may be the reason why New Zealand First has to withhold its view because we don’t know yet what the exact precise voice of the New Zealand people is.

All I’m asking for is a bit of understanding rather than the tripe that some people are putting out, malicious, malignant, and vicious in the extreme.”

The mainstream media did not take kindly to the critical analysis which they themselves usually mete out to public figures. They reported Peters’ press conference in unflattering terms and a vehemence usually reserved for social/political outcasts who have somehow dared challenge the established order of things;

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The Fourth Estate does not ‘do’ criticism well.

Even cartoonists have piled in on Peters, caricaturising him for daring to impede the [rapid] course of democracy;

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Or satirising Peters for being in a position to coalesce either with Labour or National. Despite this being a feature of all proportionally-elected Parliaments around the world, this has somehow taken the mainstream media by surprise;

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Perhaps Winston Peters was correct when he accused  New Zealand’s mainstream media of continuing to view the political landscape  through a First Past the Post prism;

“You ran a first past the post campaign in an MMP environment. And things suffer from that.”

Without a hint of self-awareness of irony, the usually insightful Bernard Hickey  offered this strangely familiar ‘advice’ to Peters;

It could have been so different. He could have simply said he couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose. Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance.

Really? “Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance”?!

How many timers did Peters tell journalists  that he “couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose” and how many times did those same journalists (or their colleagues) persist?

I have considerable respect for Mr Hickey’s researching and reporting skills. He is one of New Zealand’s most talented journalists/commentators.

On this point, however, he has over-looked the stubborn persistence of his colleagues in their unrelenting demands on Peters.

That media drivel has extended to journalists reporting on a non-existent, fabricated “story” – a potential National-Green (or “Teal”) Coalition.

Nowhere was this suggestion made seriously – except by National-leaning right-wing commentators, National party supporters, and National politicians. It should be blatantly clear to the most apolitical person that,

(a) such a coalition has been dismissed by the Green Party on numerous occassions

(b) such a coalition would be impractical due to wide policy differences between National and the Greens

(c) such a coalition scenario was being made only as a negotiation tactic by National to leverage against NZ First, and

(d) such a coalition would offer very little benefit to the Greens.

Green party leader, James Shaw, had to repeat – on numerous occassions – that any notion of a National-Green deal was out of a question;

“Our job is to form a government with the Labour Party, that’s what I said on election night, that’s what I campaigned on for the last 18 months and that’s what we are busy working on.

I said on election night that I think the numbers are there for a new government and that’s what we are working on, so everything else frankly is noise and no signal.”

This did not stop the mainstream media from breathlessly (breathe, Patrick, breathe!) reporting repeating the “story” without analysing where it was emanating from: the Right. Or who it would benefit: National.

Writing a series of stories on an imaginary National-Green coalition scenario, Fairfax ‘s political reporter Tracy Watkins could almost be on the National Party’s communications-team payroll;

Metiria Turei’s departure from the Greens co-leadership seems to be what lies behind National’s belief that a deal may be possible – she was always cast as an implacable opponent to any deal with National. James Shaw is seen as being more of a pragmatist.

But National would only be prepared to make environmental concessions – the Greens’ social and economic policy platform would be seen as a step too far. Big concessions on climate change policy would also be a stumbling block.

On both those counts the Greens would likely rule themselves out of a deal – co-leader James Shaw has made it clear economic and social policy have the same priority as environmental policy.

There is a view within National, however, that a deal with the Greens would be more forward and future looking than any deal with NZ First.

One concern is what is seen as an erratic list of NZ First bottom lines, but there is also an acknowledgement that National was exposed on environmental issues like dirty water in the campaign.

That’s why National insiders say an approach to the Greens should not be ruled out.

But Watkins was not completely oblivious to the Kiwi-version of ‘Game of Thrones‘.  She briefly alluded to comprehending that National is pitting the Greens against NZ First;

Senior National MPs have made repeated overtures through the media that its door is open to the Greens, who would have more leverage in negotiations with the centre-right than the centre-left.

Watkins and her colleagues at Fairfax made no attempt to shed light on National’s “repeated overtures”. She and other journalists appeared content to be the ‘conduit’ of National’s machiavellian machinations as prelude to coalition talks.

Such was the vacuum caused by the interregnum between Election Day and Special  Votes day.  That vacuum – caused by the news blackout until coalition talks begin in earnest after 7 October – had obviously enabled sensationalism to guide editorial policy.

Writing for another Fairfax newspaper, the Sunday Star Times, so-called “journalist” Stacey Kirk cast aside any remaining mask of impartiality and came out guns blazing, demanding a National Green Coalition;

They should, and the reasons they won’t work with National are getting flimsier by the day. But they won’t – it’s a matter that strikes too close to the heart of too many of their base – and for that reason, they simply can’t.

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For all their dancing around each other, National is serious when it says it would be happy to talk to the Greens. But it’s also serious when it says it knows it has to make big environmental moves regardless.

If the Greens are serious about putting the environment above politics – and the long-term rebuild of the party – they really should listen.

Kirk’s piece could easily have emanated from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive – not the Dominion Post Building in downtown Wellington.

The media pimping for a fourth National-led coalition, involving the Greens, would be comical if it weren’t potentially so damaging to our democracy. Media are meant to question political activity such as coalition-building  – not aggressively promote them in an openly partisan manner. Especially not for the benefit of one dominant party. And especially not to install that political party to government.

One person went so far as launching an on-line petition calling for just such a coalition;

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The organisor is one, Clive Antony, a Christchurch “organic fashion entrepreneur”. (That’s a ‘thing’? Who knew?)  Mr Anthony explained why he wanted a “Teal” coalition;

“I genuinely think there is common ground between the National Party and the Green Party, which could result in practical policy wins for New Zealand. Environmental issues such as carbon neutrality and social issues like child poverty come to mind.”

Mr Anthony happens to be a National Party supporter.

Mr Anthony failed to explain what National has been doing the last nine years to protect the environment; why rivers have continued to be degraded; why the agricultural sector has been left out of the emissions trading scheme; why National has squandered billions on new roading projects instead of public transport; etc, etc. Also, Mr Anthony has failed to ask why National has not willingly adopted Green Party policies in the last nine years.

What has stopped them?  Party policies are not copyright.  After all, you don’t have to be in coalition with a party to take on their policies.

Although it helps if National were honest enough to release official reports in a timely manner, instead of the public relying on them to be leaked;

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This is how National demonstrates transparency and integrity.  This is the party that attempts to suppress critical information on climate change.

This is the party that some media pundits are clamouring to enter into a meaningful working relationship with the Greens.

As former Green MP, Mojo Mathers pointed out on Twitter;

“Oh my, National love the Greens now do they? Pity they couldn’t show some love for the environment over the last 9 years. #NoGreenWash

Dirty coal. Polluted rivers. Industrial dairying. Rising emissions. Billion dollar motorways. Seabed mining in blue whale habitat and more.”

Another, former Green MP, Catherine Delahunty, voiced what probably 99.9% of Green Party members are thinking right now;

“I would rather drink hemlock than go with the National Party. The last thing I want to see is the Green Party or any other party propping them up to put them back into power. They’ve done enough damage.”

Green Party (co-)leader, James Shaw, was more diplomatic;

“A slim majority of voters did vote for change, and so that’s what I’m working on… We campaigned on a change of Government, and I said at the time it was only fair to let voters know what they were voting for – are you voting for the status quo, or are you voting for change?”

Other individuals pimping for a Nat-Green coalition are sundry National party MPs such as  Paula Bennett or former politicians such as Jim Bolger.

All of which was supported by far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s “intern staff”, on the “Whaleoil” blog;

Currently we are sitting in wait for old mate Winston Peters to choose who is going to run the country. After watching all the pundits in media talk about what the next government would look like, it started to annoy me that everyone has been ruling out a National/Green coalition and rightly so as both parties have basically written it off.

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A quick Blue-Green arrangement with the appropriate Government Ministries assigned to Green Ministers would kill the NZ First posturing dead and would probably be the death knell for NZ First forever once Mr Peters resigns.”

National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, was also actively pimping for a National-Green Coalition;

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When even the far-right are salivating at the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition, you know something is seriously askew.

However,  judging by comments posted by Kiwiblog’s readers, the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition does not sit well with his audience.

As an interesting side-note, both Whaleoil and Kiwiblog both published their first stories on a Blue-Green coalition around 27 and 28 September. The Tory communications-strategy memo talking up a Blue-Green scenario appears to have been sent to Slater and Farrar at the same time.

It beggars belief that very few media commentators have picked up on what is really the bleedin’ obvious: National’s strategy is obviously a ploy to leverage against NZ First.

Of all the pundits, only one person seems to have sussed what was really happening and why. Otago University law professor and political commentator,  Andrew Geddis,  put things very succinctly when he wrote for Radio NZ on 30 September;

Media coverage of the post-election period echoes this existential angst. With Winston Peters declaring that he – sorry, New Zealand First – won’t make any decisions on governing deals until after the final vote count is announced on October 7, we face something of a news vacuum.

Commentators valiantly have attempted to fill this void with fevered speculation about who Peters likes and hates, or fantastical notions that a National-Greens deal could be struck instead…

That is as close to sensible commentary as we’ve gotten the last two weeks.

The 2017 General Election may be remembered in future – not for Winston Peters holding the balance of power – but for the unedifying rubbish churned out by so-called professional, experienced journalists. In their thirst for something – anything!! – to report, the media commentariate have engaged in  onanistic political fantasies.

They have also wittingly allowed themselves to be National’s marionettes – with strings reaching up to the Ninth Floor.

The National-Green Coalition fairytale promulgated by some in the media was a glimpse into the weird world of journalistic daydreaming. In other words, New Zealanders just got a taste of some real fake news.

Like children in the back seat of a car on a two-week long drive, this is what it looks like when bored journalists and media commentators become anxious and frustrated. Their impatience gets the better of them.

And a politician called them on it;

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When the antiquated, binary system of First Past the Post  was replaced with a more sophisticated; more representative; more inclusive MMP in the 1990s, our political system matured. Our Parliament became more ethnically and gender diverse. We even elected the world’s first transgender MP.

MMP is complex and requires careful consideration and time.

It is fit-for-purpose for the complexities of 21st Century New Zealand.

The Fourth Estate is yet to catch up.

 

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References

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

NZ Herald:  Winston Peters – 7 per cent of the vote, 100 per cent of the power

Newsroom:  Winston’s awful start

Fairfax media:  Winston Peters launches tirade on media, stays mum on coalition talks

TVNZ:  ‘Next question!’ – belligerent Winston Peters has press pack in stitches after shutting down Aussie reporter

NZ Herald:   Attack on media, some insults and stonewalling – Winston Peters comes out firing in press conference

Newstalk ZB:  Winston Peters hits out at media in fiery press conference

Radio NZ:  Green Party dismisses National-Green speculation

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Fairfax media:  National says don’t rule out an approach to Greens on election night

Fairfax media:  Stacey Kirk – Honour above the environment? Greens hold a deck of aces they’re refusing to play

NZ Herald:  Grassroots petition calls for National-Green coalition

Fairfax media: Govt sits on climate warnings

Twitter: Mojo Mathers

Radio NZ:  ‘Snowball’s chance in hell’ of a Green-National deal

Mediaworks:  ‘I will hear the Prime Minister out’ – James Shaw

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters’ super leak ‘great gossip’ I couldn’t use against him – Paula Bennett

Fairfax media:  Greens have a responsibility to talk to National – Jim Bolger

Radio NZ:  Special votes – why the wait?

NZCity:  Have patience, says Winston Peters

E-Tangata: Georgina Beyer – How far can you fall?

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog:  What could the Greens get if they went with National not Winston?

Kiwiblog:  How a National-Green coalition could work

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury – Let’s seriously consider David Farrar’s offer to the Greens and laugh and laugh and laugh

Liberation:  Cartoons and images about negotiating the new government

Previous related blogposts

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

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (toru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (wha)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rima)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (ono)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (whitu)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 October 2017.

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Dom Post journos get it wrong – again!

13 September 2014 4 comments

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Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

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

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

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

“Supposedly”?!

One. More. Time.

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

14Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

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

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

There were exceptions though.

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

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

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

Another journo was Tracy Watkins from the Dominion Post;

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

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

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

Sloppy work.

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References

Fairfax media:  Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

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

Dominion Post:  Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

Audrey Young on the GCSB

 


 

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nikki kaye jacinda ardern GCSB bill spying

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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John Banks and Winston Peters, Apples and Oranges

25 February 2014 3 comments

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If ever the media – especially journalist wonder why the public view them with disdain and minimal trust – they need only look at their behaviour when it comes to undignified media “scrums” around public figures.

The recent melee in Parliament’s halls, as journos tried to elicit a response from NZ First leader, Winston Peters, regarding his visit to Kim Dotcom’s mansion – was a less than edifying spectacle,

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Video - PM accused of spying on Peters

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Evidently, the Press Gallery were a bit “miffed” at Peters’ curt responses to them and refused point blank to answer their questions. So in response to Peters’ lack of response, NZ Herald reporter,  Audrey Young, wrote a “revenge piece” for her paper,

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Audrey Young - Winston Peters resists excellent questions

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A “revenge piece” being something a journo will put together to present the subject under discussion in a less-than-positive light. That’ll teach him/her/them not to co-operate with the Fourth Estate!

Apparently really, really annoyed, Young  wrote,

“We don’t recall Peters suggesting John Banks’ visits were a private matter.”

This was echoed by “Claire” (Claire Trevett?),

“Do you think John Banks didn’t need to tell us whether he had gone out there or not, or whether his privacy was breached when Dotcom said he had been out there?”

Ok, let’s get one thing straight here; Winston Peters is not being accused of accepting donations from Kim Dotcom, nor attempting to hide said donations in a falsified electoral return.

If indeed that is what “Claire” and Audrey Young are suggesting, then let’s have it out in the open. Make the allegations and ask the questions.

But comparing John Banks’ dodgy “hide-the-cheques” shell-game is in no way comparable to a politician meeting a citizen (or permanent resident, in this case). That is not journalism – that is just downright immaturity on a school-yard level. It is pettiness.

It certainly ain’t journalism.

Disclaimer: I am not a NZ first supporter. Never have been, and most likely, I never will be.

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References

TV1: Winston Peters: Spies watched me meet Dotcom

NZ Herald: Audrey Young: Winston Peters resists excellent questions

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election 2014

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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John Key on leadership aspirations…

30 August 2013 5 comments

As reported on Radio NZ today (26 August);

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PM’s take

Prime Minister and National Party leader John Key says the Labour leadership contest will show how heavily the party is divided.

Mr Key says it could be a television reality show called Parliamentary Idol, with the three MPs demonstrating to New Zealanders how much they loathe each other.

Source: Radio NZ – Cunliffe confirms bid for Labour leadership

More here: John Key says Labour is a divided party

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Which is kind of ironic really, as Key’s own rise to power as leader of the National Party happened under less auspicious circumstances, involving secret plotting  behind closed doors; lies; duplicity; and rolling then-National leader, Don Brash.

Key wasn’t very upfront to the public or media, or even his own then-leader at the beginning, as this October 2006 NZ Herald report by Audrey Young, showed,

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Beware the ides of November, Don

By Audrey Young

5:20 AM Thursday Oct 26, 2006

An attempt within the National Party to topple leader Don Brash could be mounted next month.

The backers of National finance spokesman John Key have already taken soundings among caucus colleagues. It is understood they were taken four weeks ago but nothing came of them.

However, internal speculation is mounting of a stronger bid for the leadership being attempted by Mr Key next month or at the start of next year.

Mr Key did nothing last night to hose down the speculation, being less than emphatic at dismissing talk of a possible attempt in November.

“I have never had that raised with me,” he said. “That is speculation I can’t comment on and I don’t know whether it is accurate or not but I don’t anticipate that being the case.

I’m supportive of the leader and I don’t anticipate that position changing.

Source: NZ Herald – Beware the ides of November, Don

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Key’s “support” for his leader was so sincere that a month later, Don Brash was rolled and replaced by… John Key!

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New Zealand’s National Party Appoints John Key as Leader

By Tracy Withers – November 26, 2006 20:44 EST

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) — New Zealand’s main opposition National Party elected John Key, a former head of global foreign exchange at Merrill Lynch & Co., as its fifth leader in nine years as it targets victory in the 2008 elections.

Key, 45, was voted leader by his National parliamentary colleagues in Wellington today, replacing Don Brash who quit last week. Bill English, who was ousted as leader by Brash in 2003, was named deputy leader and will take over from Key as finance spokesman.

Source: Bloomberg – New Zealand’s National Party Appoints John Key as Leader

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At least Labour’s leadership contest is out in the open; open to public and media scrutiny; and will be democratically decided. This is a milestone in New Zealand politics, with  the Greens the only other political party to decide their leadership by member’s ballot.

By contrast, seizing power via a coup hardly seems a fair; open; or democratic process. Indeed, one might question if Key really has a moral mandate to lead his own Party?

Perhaps this is a salient lesson that Key should take on-board, instead of indulging in school-yard petulance.

Then again, I suspect  Key’s pathetic attempt to deride and dismiss Labour’s new leadership process is stressing the Prime Minister as he  foresees his own political demise come the next election?

After all, Key did make this pledge to the electorate in 2011,

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Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

By Audrey Young 5:30 AM Monday Jan 3, 2011

Prime Minister John Key has all but confirmed that the general election will be in late November or early December and he has indicated he will leave politics if he cannot lead the country to a second term in Government.

[abridged]

He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.

“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative.”

Source: NZ Herald –  Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

The election of a new leader for Labour isn’t just a new beginning. It heralds the end for Key’s political career.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 August 2013.

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The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

6 August 2013 12 comments

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Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Source: Dominion Post – Spy bungles start to entangle PM

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

Nice to see the MSM finally catching up with the blogosphere.

Since the introduction of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill on 8 May 2013, the Prime Minister – with his usual talent for mis-representing the truth and talking absolute bollocks – maintained the fiction that the current law surrounding the GCSB (the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003) was “vague” and “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.”

Source: johnkey.co.nz – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

This was nothing less than a barefaced lie, designed to deceive the public.

The 2003 GCSB Act was actually crystal clear with it’s wording, and Section 14 of said Act states with unambiguous clarity;

14Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Source: legislation.govt.nz – Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

For a long time, the mainstream media parroted this fiction (see: The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!! ). Evidently no one in newsrooms had bothered to do a simple check.

Not until Audrey Young wrote a piece acknowledging the clarity of the current GCSB law on 24 June. (see:  Audrey Young on the GCSB)

So it’s refreshing that Tracy Watkins, writing for the Dominion Post on 3 August, has also got it right.

Now all that remains is for a journo to actually ask Key why he bullshitted us in the first place.

What are the chances…?

Andrea – time for utu.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 August 2013.

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

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Audrey Young on the GCSB…

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It seems that the Herald’s Audrey Young is the only journalist in the entire country who has not bought into the Official Party Line that the GCSB Act 2003 is “vague” or “flawed”.

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

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

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

She’s 100% correct of course.

The law is about as explicit as it can get, without adding crayoned drawings for the terminally dense,

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Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 - section 3-14

Acknowledgement:  Parliamentary Counsel Office: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

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Specifically,

Section 14 states,

Restrictions imposed on interceptions

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Which makes other journos look lazy or incompetant or both, when they repeat  government rhetoric about “vagueness” or “not fit for purpose” without checking the facts for themselves.

If  Audrey Young can present the facts, then so can every other journalist worth his/her salt.

Lift your game, people.

See previous related blogpost:  The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

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A Tale of Two Bains…

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The latest on the David Bain saga, and the Third Degree report on TV3 which presented damning evidence which showed Robin Bain as the most likely killer of the Bain family,

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Complaint laid against TV3 over 'biased' Bain report

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Complaint laid against TV3 over ‘biased’ Bain report

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Funnily enough, I cannot recall this group of obsessive-compulsives laying a similar complaint with TVNZ when Bryan Bruce (who I have much respect for, for his work on child poverty) hosted an episode on the Bain family, where he made it clear that he did not believe Robin Bain committed murder/suicide (see: The Investigator Special: The Case Against Robin Bain).

But I guess for these folk, that’s not bias, eh?

Over the years there have been many programmes presenting both sides of the case.

For one side to lay a complaint of “bias” is therefore just a little cheeky. More to the point, it illustrates a kind of growing “cult” mentality for some in the  Pro-Robin/David Did It camp.

They remind me of Creationists and Climate Change Deniers.

Not healthy.

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Old cars…

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Something that caught my eye last week was this item in the Dominion Post,

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Ageing-car-fleet-seen-as-added-danger-on-roads

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Ageing car fleet seen as added danger on roads

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It occurs to me that much like trucking figures are being used as indicators of  macro economic growth, our nationwide  car fleet can be an indicator of the economic well-being (or otherwise) of ordinary New Zealanders at street level.

In April, John Key boasted of “strong economic growth” in 2012,

We’re seeing some great results. We achieved 3% economic growth in New Zealand last year, which is higher than most developed countries, and business confidence is increasing. Over the weekend, I met Christine Lagarde from the International Monetary Fund while in China, who said she believes our economic plan is “very stable and it’s also very promising“.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media –  John Key: Growing our economy

Yet, if our car fleet is getting old, and fewer are being scrapped, then that indicates that the gains are not trickling down to workers.

According to Statistics NZ,

Annual growth in the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates eased for the third consecutive quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

  • In the year to the March 2013 quarter, salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 1.7%. This includes a 0.4% rise in the March 2013 quarter.

  • Private sector salary and ordinary time wage rates increased 1.8% in the year to the March 2013 quarter.

  • Public sector salary and ordinary time wage rates rose 1.5% in the same period. This rise in the public sector came from increases in central government (up 1.5%) and local government (up 2.1%).

  • In the March 2013 quarter, 13% of all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates increased.

  • Of the 13%, the median increase was 2.4%, the lowest in 12 years.

  • 56% of the surveyed sample increased in the year to the March 2013 quarter.

  • Of the 56%, the median increase was 2.9%, the lowest in 21 months.

Acknowledgement: Stats NZ – Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): March 2013 quarter

Note the statistic buried amongst the fifures above: “In the March 2013 quarter, 13% of all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates increased“.

The corollary to that is that 87% had no increases to their  salary and ordinary time wages.

Little wonder that our car fleet is aging. People cannot afford to buy new (or even newer second hand) vehicles.

Wherever the wealth is going, it’s not trickling down to the 87%.

So much for Key’s pledges in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, to boost New Zealander’s wages. Add that one to his list of lies; broken promises, and dashed expectations.

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And we told them the wealth would trickle down

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The Price of Cocoa…

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Three cans of cocoa tell an interesting story.

Can A is the oldest, with an expiry date of April 2011. The can measures 110mm (H) x 75mm (D). It contained 200g net dry cocoa powder.

We purchased Can B sometime  in 2011 (?). The expiry date was March 2012, so it’s the second oldest can.

Interestingly, it also contained 200g net dry cocoa powder. However,   whilst the contents remained the same as Can A – the dimensions of the can inexplicably increased; 130mm (H) x 75mm (D). Same diameter as Can A – but 20mm taller. Contents remain the same net weight.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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A month ago we purchased Can C (expiry date, March 2015). The dimensions of this can is the same as Can B: 130mm (H) x 75mm (D). But this time, the contents decreased from 200 to 190g net dry cocoa powder. Ten grams less.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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So the up-shot? The can-sizes have gotten bigger – whilst the contents has reduced by 5%.

On 9 June, I emailed Nestle to find out what was going on,

Kia ora,

It has recently come to my attention that two cans of Nestle Baking Cocoa measure 110mm X 75mm, whilst the other measures 130mm x 75mm.

Both contain 200g net  cocoa powder.

The smaller can measuring 110 x 75 has a “best before” date April 2011.

The larger can, 130×75 has a “best before” date March 2012.

It appears that you have increased the SIZE of the can, whilst the contents remain the same.

Is there a reason why the size of the cans  was increased, by 20mm in height?

And can you confirm that the price stayed the same; increased; or reduced; when the change was made from a 110mm height to 130mm height?

(The email was sent prior to purchasing Can C.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, I received no reply from Nestle.

Unfortunately, I never retained the receipts for Cans A and B, otherwise I could compare prices. But what’s the bet that the retail price probably increased?

So next time Dear Leader stands before the Press Gallery and claims credit for his government policies resulting in  low inflation or a drop in food prices – just remember; there are lies; damned lies, Prime Ministerial utterings, and statistics.

Mix all four together and you get a “drop in inflation and food costs less”.

And thus it came to pass…

“As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a “categorical pledge” were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grams to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.” – George Orwell,  ‘1984’

Doubleplusgood!

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 July 2013.

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