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Posts Tagged ‘Bronwyn Pullar’

Judith Collins owes an explanation to voters

25 November 2017 6 comments

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National’s narrative continues

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The National Party is continuing with it’s strategy to question and undermine the legitimacy of the  Labour-Green-NZFirst coalition government.

On 24 October,on Radio NZ’s Morning Report,  Bill English questioned whether or not Labour had a mandate to govern;

“ The voters at large probably expected that if you got 44 and a half percent of the vote, you were some part of the government or the big part of it.

[…]

How to hold to account a government that’s been put together in an unusual way.

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Just remember this is a prime minister who’s the first one in a hundred years who lost the popular vote and lost it by quite a bit.

… It didn’t win the vote.

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when an election is lost, a larger party captured the direction New Zealand wanted to go in.

On further questioning, English was forced to concede that Labour had a mandate;

I accept that, absolutely… It’s a legitimate result…

Well, I’ve been saying all year that the… all the other parties put together can beat you on the day. And that’s what happened on Thursday. So that’s MMP. That’s how it works.

On the 10th of November, Judith Collins took up the narrative, questioning whether or not Peters had been conducting coalition negotiations in good faith;

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Collins complained that because Winston Peters had filed legal action against several National MPs and their staff, that this constituted “bad faith” bargaining;

At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.

She further demanded an explanation from the NZ First leader;

“ I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision.  I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation. Was he being genuine, or was it just a play?”

Now this is richly ironic on several levels.

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Bargaining in good faith

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Firstly, I am reminded of National’s legislative changes to workplace collective bargaining in 2014. As MoBIE reported at the time, “good faith bargaining” was watered down to the extent that “the duty of good faith does not require collective agreement to be concluded“;

Before the law change, parties bargaining for a collective agreement were required to conclude that agreement unless there was genuine reason not to. The change means that a collective agreement does not have to be concluded, however parties must still deal with each other in good faith.

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014 came into effect on 6 March 2015 and passed provisions in the Bill that “providing that the duty of good faith does not require parties to reach a collective agreement“.

So providing that employers could show they “acted in good faith“, there was no onus on them to conclude bargaining to achieve a collective agreement.

Sound familiar?

It should. It’s what Judith “Crusher” Collins has complained about;

At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.

The richest irony of all; National complaining that bargaining to establish a “collective agreement” for a National-NZFirst Coalition was not conducted in good faith.

“Good faith bargaining” and the “National Party” – not words we usually associate together in the same sentence.

My heart bleeds.

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New Zealanders owed an explanation?!

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Collins was engaging in some loud, toy-tossing whining when she demanded “I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision.  I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation”.

While we’re about who is owed explanations by whom, let’s re-cap on some matters that arose  in the last nine years of National’s governance – and remain outstanding ;

2009 – Paula Bennett releases personal details relating to two solo-mothers, after they challenged the Minister’s decision to cease the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to gain a free tertiary education);

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Not only did  Bennett not apologise  for misusing personal information for political point-scoring – she hinted she would do it again;

 …it would depend on the circumstances.

Paula Bennett: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

2013 & 2014 – Judith Collins was revealed to have close connections with Oravida, which her husband was also a director of. Collins;

  • opened Oravida’s new Auckland headquarters in October 2013
  • whilst on a tax-payer funded trip to China, Collins had a private  dinner-function  with Oravida bosses and an un-named senior Chinese border official
  • on the same tax-payer funded trip to China,  Collins “stopped by”  Oravida’s Shanghai offices “on the way to the airport” – despite Oravida’s offices being   thirty kilometres in the opposite direction
  • prior to Collins’ dinner at Oravida’s Shanghai offices, Oravida  sought assistance from the NZ Government on Chinese border control problems
  • received donations totalling $86,000 for the National Party coffers
  • received thousands of dollars of donations from other Oravida-linked sources

The perception of a severe conflict of interest where Collins may have mis-used her Ministerial position to further Oravida’s interests remain unanswered.

Judith Collins: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

2014 – Judith Collins (again) was uncovered sharing information – including personal information, leaks, and gossip – with far-right blogger, Cameron Slater.

In his book ‘Dirty Politics‘, investigative journalist Nicky Hager Mediaworks outlined how Collins had;

  • … discussed details of the Bronwyn Pullar ACC case with Mr Slater and she may have been behind the leak;
  • … fed Mr Slater a constant stream of gossip, for example, anecdotes about Labour MP Trevor Mallard making a fool of himself;
  • … may have been involved in a prisoner transfer requested by Mr Slater, while she was Corrections Minister;
  • … emailed Mr Slater the name of a ministerial services staff member who he went on to attack on his blog.

Collins was also accused of running a vendetta against then Serious Fraud Office Director, Adam Feeley, and working with Slater to destroy the SFO boss’s career.

In 15 August 2014, then-Dear Leader Key refused categorically to  sack or even investigate Collins for alleged mis-use of ministerial power;

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most corrupt politicioan in NZ's history - judith collins

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Two weeks later, she was gone-burger. Collins had “resigned”;

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(Unsurprisingly, Collins was later “cleared” of allegations that “she was working with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to get rid of former Serious Fraud Office  boss Adam Feeley”.  Evidently, despite several fifteen minute telephone calls between Slater and Collins, Justice Lester Chisholm insisted that the “Whaleoil” blogger had ” over-embellished” when he sent emails saying Collins was “gunning for Feeley”. Yeah, right.)

Yet, questions still persist surrounding Collins’ dealings with Cameron Slater and people she allegedly tried to destroy.

Judith Collins: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

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Conclusion

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It is unquestionably the role of the Parliamentary Opposition to question the government and hold it to account. Along with the media (as flawed as it sometimes is), a strong Opposition is a necessary function of a healthy democracy.

But having someone like Judith Collins, who has so many unanswered questions hanging over her, demanding accountability undermines the effectiveness of the Opposition.

Collins’ time has come and gone. She should resign from Parliament altogether and let her place be taken by someone untainted by dubious associations; questionable conflicts of interest; and allegations of mis-use of ministerial power.

Other MPs have resigned for less.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Bill English faces first caucus since defeat (alt.link)(audio)

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters ‘not genuine’ in coalition talks – Judith Collins

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters takes legal action against National Party over leak ‘plot’

MoBIE:  Law changes to collective bargaining

MoBIE:  Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Dominion Post: Minister defends releasing private details

Fairfax media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

Mediaworks: Timeline – Judith Collins and Oravida

Mediaworks: Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Interest.co.nz:  Judith Collins resigns after revelation of Slater email saying she was “gunning for Feeley”; Collins denies campaigning to oust SFO Director; Key says Collins had to go

Mediaworks:  Judith Collins cleared of colluding with Whale Oil blogger Slater

Fairfax media: How did Key mislead Parliament?

Other Blogs

The Paepae:  The Judith Collins Chisholm inquiry – Who was actually on trial?

The Standard:  Collective bargaining? Yeah right

Previous related blogposts

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

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

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

“Fool me once”…

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 November 2017.

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“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

22 August 2014 6 comments

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L-R- David Farrar, John Key, Cameron Slater

L-R- David Farrar, John Key, Cameron Slater

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The release of Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Secrets” has unleashed more of a political firestorm than many had anticipated. (Or, perhaps some did.)

The glare of publicity has been shone like a laser-beam into the darkest, most noisome recesses of right wing politics in this country. Defeatist cynics (like Mike Hosking) have shrugged and said, “well, we knew it was like this”.

No, we did not. We may have suspected; we may have heard fragments; we may have seen indications. But very few knew precisely how dirty our politics had gotten.

As someone who has been politically active – first on  the centre-right; then centre-left; and now even further to the left – I had my suspicions as to the abuse of power. But nothing concrete upon which to base my suspicions,

Hager has built those concrete foundations and nothing short of a seismic event will shake them to bits.

National’s entire hierarchy, from it’s most inner sanctum Politburo, to it’s apparatchiks and fellow-travellers, is now facing the grimmest reality that their dirty laundry has been hung out for all to see. Only the most obsessively-partisan  of National’s supporters will ignore Nicky Hager’s findings. (Just as Muldoon and other authoritarian leaders had their die-hard supporters.)

The recent media stories has raised some interesting points to consider…

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1. The Timing of the Book Launch

Key has called the timing of the launch of Nicky Hager’s book “cynically timed” for the election;

“This is a cynically timed attack book from a well-known left-wing conspiracy theorist. It makes all sorts of unfounded allegations and voters will see it for what it is.”

Rubbish. When else would you launch a book that relates to a critical political situation? After the election? When it’s too late for people to access relevant information to base their decision upon who to vote for?

In which case, should Nicky Hager  have released his earlier expose, “Seeds of Distrust“, which was highly critical of the then-Labour government? After the 2002 election?

And should party Leader’s televised debates and other election campaigns be conducted post-election also?

That’s how ridiculous Key’s proposition is.

But let’s be crystal clear here. Key’s concern isn’t related to “cynicism” of the timing. His concerns relate solely to the damage it will cause his Party and his re-election chances. Otherwise, Nicky Hager’s book is no better or worse timed than the release of this book, by pro-National, conservative NZ Herald columnist, John Roughan;

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portrait of a prime minister

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Roughan’s hagiography was launched this year, on 26 June.  Three months before the election.

Was that cynical timing to promote the the Teflon Man’s  public image?

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2. John Key has not read the book

Key says he has not read the book, and refuses to do so.

He has summarily dismissed Nicky Hager’s book as,

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

And on TVNZ,

“He should knock his socks off and release anything he wants because most of the assumptions are now dissolving before his eyes.”

And on Interest.co.nz;

“All I know is that Nicky Hager is a left wing conspiracy theorist and makes stuff up.”

So, without reading Nicky Hager’s book or launching an investigation into his claims, Key has condemned and dismissed it out of hand.

But when it comes to the allegations of wrong-doing by “Justice” Minister, Judith Collins, Key is only too happy to support her – even though he has not read the book (so he claims). On Collins, he says,

See TV3 video here. @ 7.28

Journo: “Are you satisfied that Judith Collins didn’t leak Bronwyn Pullar’s name?”

Key: “Well that’s the assurance that she’s given me and I accept her at her word.

Journo: “Do you feel you have go back and check that now given what’s in the book?”

Key: “No, I don’t think so.”

Key “… if that’s what the minister said then that’s what she has said, I accept her at her word.”

This is a Prime Minister who dismisses allegations of ministerial abuse of power – without even considering those allegations? How does work?!

This is not the first time Key has refused to read information regarding one of his Ministers accused of wrong-doing;

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PM reaffirms support for John Banks

“I haven’t read that police report and I’m not going to because I don’t need to … It’s not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is, the law doesn’t work.” – John Key,  16 September 2012

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PM under pressure over Hauiti

But the Prime Minister says he does not, and rejects suggestions that Ms Hauiti is getting away with it. He told reporters he has not asked how much money is involved.

“That’s actually not a matter for me.That’s a matter for Parliamentary Services and her. She made it quite to me that she was standing down from Parliament and that was on the back of the advice she’d had from the party, which took a pretty dim view to her making a mistake.” – John Key, 24 July 2014

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Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Prime Minister John Key says he probably won’t look into allegations made about senior cabinet minister Judith Collins in Nicky Hager’s new book.

An entire chapter of Dirty Politics is dedicated the relationship between Ms Collins and WhaleOil blogger Slater, who are close friends.

Mr Hager alleges Ms Collins fed a “continuous supply of material to Slater”, including press releases, political gossip, tip-offs and serious leaks. – TV3, 15 August 2014

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Key is using a CIA strategy from the early 1960s called “plausible deniability” – with a peculiar Kiwi twist. Basically, it works  like this; confronted with a scandal, Key refuses to read a report; then tells the media he is unable to act to address the scandal because he doesn’t have “those details” (see below; IP Address Linked to National). Then the Teflon man walks away.

Basically, he has given himself an “out” to wipe his hands of a problem and not have to deal with it.

Quite a piece of ‘work’, our esteemed Dear Leader.

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3. IP Address Linked to National

Key cannot even get his ‘spin’ story straight.

See TV3 video here. Note @  2.33:

Journo #1: “The IP Address went back to your office.”

Key: “Nah, I don’t think that’s right. It’s nothing to do with our office.”

Journo #2: “There was an IP Address that went back to your office and to the National Party, National.Org.Nz.”

Key: “Well, look, I don’t have those details. But what I can tell you is, that Mr Slater has made it quite clear, it’s nothing to do with the National Party…”

So first of all, Key tried to deny that the IP Addresses of  Jason Ede were not connected with trawling through Labour’s computer.

When pressed by a second journalist, Key denied knowledge of the IP Address evidence.

Questions for Mr Key;

  • Instead of flatly denying the existence of the IP Address evidence, why does Key not mount an investigation into the claims?
  • How can he deny evidence that Ede has accessed a Labour Party computer when he admits “I don’t have those details“? How can someone deny an action he has no knowledge of?
  • If he doesn’t “have those details” – when will he seek to learn what those details are?
  • Why is Key relying on blogger Cameron Slater “that Mr Slater has made it quite clear, it’s nothing to do with the National Party”? Is Key unable to make that assertion himself?

The answer is: He has contradicted himself. Key is lying and clumsily attempting to cover Jason Ede’s (and his own) arse.

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4. The Labour Party Computer accessed by PM’s political advisor, Jason Ede

The Prime Minister’s ‘spin’  on National Party “political advisor, Jason Ede, accessing Labour’s computer files without permission is that if the computer was not suitably protected, therefore it was open to the public.

Which is kind of like saying if your back door is unlocked, anyone should be about to walk into your home and help themselves to your property. Because Ede and Slater did not just “have a look around” the files – they downloaded and took files – as he admitted in an interview with TV3’s “The Nation” host, Lisa Owen; on 16 August;

Lisa Owen: “So you’re denying categorically that you were working with Jason Ede and that you were both in that computer, downloading material?”

Cameron Slater: “I was in the computer, downloading material. I will not and cannot speak for somebody else. That’s up to them to answer those questions.”

Slater told Lisa Owen,

“Well, I don’t speak for the National Party. I couldn’t possibly speak for it, but I was certainly into the back end of the Labour Party’s website. If they couldn’t manage security of their website, their credit card details and their financial information about their membership, well, then they weren’t really fit for government at the time. But there was certainly no hacking involved in that and quite unlike Nicky Hager’s scurrilous little book, there’s no illegal acts that were taking place at that time.”

So Slater is saying that a political party that can’t manage a computer system is not fit to govern.

Like… this?

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novopay logo

 

Novopay fix costs to hit 43 million

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You were saying, Cam?

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5. Interesting Question & Answer from Key, re, Jason Ede

See TV3 video here. Note @  19.53:

A journo asks Key if he has spoken to Jason Ede, one of the principle characters in Nicky Hager’s book.

Key replies, “No, I haven’t.”

One would think that the publication of a book  that has seized public attention and made serious allegations against the National Government would warrant the Prime Minister to pick up the phone; dial Ede’s number, and ask him for a chat. The phrase, “Now, would be good” springs to mind.

So why didn’t Key talk to Ede?

And if he hasn’t spoken to Ede, how does he know that Nicky Hager’s allegations regarding Ede are false?

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6. Key’s relationship with Slater

Nicki Hager’s revelations have put this story from earlier in the year into a whole new perspective;

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PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

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According to Nicky Hager,  the SIS decided to release a document to Slater within twentyfour hours, after an OIA request;

Mr Hager’s book alleges the PM’s office used its knowledge of secret SIS documents to tip off Mr Slater to attack the Labour leader in the 2011 election campaign.

Mr Goff accused Mr Key of lying about knowing about an Official Information ACT request to the SIS.

Mr Goff said Mr Slater’s OIA request was answered within a day, which was unheard of, while other media had to wait.

As someone who has lodged several OIA requests with this government, I can testify that not one single request has ever been actioned within a day. Not one.
They usually take anywhere from three to four weeks – some longer.
So for an OIA request for information to be met within a week is… miraculous in a biblical sense.

And why did other media have to wait for the same information? Why was Slater given this information so quickly?

And more to the point – how did he know to ask for it?

As Nicky Hager wrote, on page 40 of his book;

“Documents like the SIS briefing notes are not usually released to the public, under the Official Information Law or otherwise. Someone had over-ruled the usual practice  and then fast-tracked  the release. The released documents were stamped as being declassified  on 26 July 2011, the same day that Slater sent  off his request. Where was the time for decision-making and consultation?”

If – as it seems – Key used his ministerial position as the Minister in Charge of the SIS to facilitate this OIA information release – then what we have here is what many New Zealanders have feared since the GCSB Amendment was passed last year; the abuse of a state security apparatus by a politician for purely selfish, destructive, venal-political purposes.

For the first time (?) in modern history a political party in our country – through a  willing agent – has used state power to destroy the career (and election chances) of a political rival. This was a planned, systematic, subversion of our democratic process – the system for whom thousands died for in two World Wars. And for which we remember each year for their supreme sacrifice.

This should frighten all New Zealanders who are in possession of a sound mind.

 

 

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7. National-aligned NZ Columnist not impressed with Slater-Collins-Ede Cabal

When National’s own pet columnist, John Armstrong, gives credence to Nicky Hager’s book, then the National Party and it’s cadres are in deep, deep, doo-doos. His column on 16 August took a swipe at National and it’s Teflon Man leader. In part, he made these astute observations;

“National’s tactic has been to keep the focus on Mr Hager and persuade people he had hidden motives for writing the book – rather than being drawn into arguments about its damning contents.

Mr Key’s damage-control operation was designed to both defuse and confuse.

However, the Prime Minister looked and sounded distinctly uncomfortable when questioned by reporters on Thursday afternoon.

He conceded nothing and repeatedly answered questions by saying the book’s allegations had ”nothing to do with National”.

When it was pointed out to him that National was clearly implicated, he made excuses, saying he had not been briefed on the detail.

If Mr Key’s answers sounded glib there was good reason.

The vilification of Mr Hager by Mr Key and Steven Joyce, National’s election campaign supremo and the one designated to front for National when there is trouble, is a charade.

Their dilemma is that they have to rubbish the book as being wrong on every score when they know much if not all of it, is accurate, simply because the contents come straight out of the mouths of Mr Slater, Mr Ede and other National Party figures and associates.”

Nailed it, John. And when you look at the  TV3 video, it rapidly becomes apparent that Key is lying his head off – even as Associate  Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, beams lovingly at his Dear Leader in the background. (Honestly, it looks like the guy was going to rush up to Key and give him a huge smooch on the cheek! Though Key certainly looked like he needed a cuddle and hot milo.)

Armstrong suggests that “Mr Ede might yet have take one for the team and resign, as evidence that National has cleaned out its Augean stables”.

That would be my guess as well. Ede is Dead Man Walking.

On the other hand, Collins is safe. The Nats are too close to an election to dump her as a minister. Plus there are suggestions that she does have something over Key, which is why he never fired her sorry arse over the Oravida Scandal. Or Katie Bradford dust-up. Or any other mess she has been publicly involved in.

She is the female embodiment of a certain other  National Prime Minister from the mid 1970s to mid 1980s.

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8. Media collusion implicated?

The Donghua Liu Affair (which I am still investigating) implicates certain media as colluding with the National Government.

On page 128 of Nicky Hager’s book, an event took place where TV3 journos asked David Cunliffe;

Journos: “Have you ever met Donghua Liu?

Cunliffe: “I don’t recall meeting him, no.”

Journos: “Did you have anything to do with the granting of his permanent residency?

Cunliffe: “No, I did not.”

Journos: “Did you advocate on his behalf at all?

Cunliffe: “Nope.

Journos: “Were you aware of official advice advising against granting permanent resident?

Cunliffe: “Not to my recollection.”

The very next day, the National Government supplied a copy of a letter Cunliffe had written to Immigration NZ, in April 2003 – eleven years ago – to the media. The letter had been released the following day after Cunliffe had replied to those questions. By 2.29PM, the Herald had an on-line story published by staff reporter, Jared Savage.

So, if the journos recieved the 2003 Cunliffe-Liu-Immigration  letter on the 18th of June – what prompted them to ask leading questions, the previous day,  that effectively trapped Cunliffe into providing answers to something that had transpired over a decade ago?

There are strong indications that many in the media have been forced to rely on bloggers for news-stories. As staffing levels are cut back to maximise profits and shareholder returns, remaining journalists are under increasing pressure to use short-cuts to find stories. Bloggers like “Whale Oil” provide a free, easy source of “news” – especially when said “news” is derived from information that has been leaked from Jason Ede and Judith Collins.

This creates two consequences.

Firstly, being reliant on a far-right blogger who also happens to be a covert mouthpiece for the government creates inherent problems surrounding ethics, privacy, agendas, lack of accountability, and an abuse of ministerial power if information is wrongly used.

Remember that many government departments hold vast amounts of information over us. Paula Bennett used private data in 2009 to silence two critics, Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston.

Leaked emails referred to in “Dirty Politics” indicate that Collins  released the name and details of one public servant, which was then used by Slater to carry out a vendetta against him. The civil servant suffered abuse and death threats as a result.

When mainstream media support such a blogger (and I’m sure the relationship is a two way street), they are aiding and abetting nefarious people with nefarious agendas.  This runs counter to the ethics that the media purports to live by.

If those ethics no longer count, legal protections for media institutions (eg; protection of sources) should be stripped from legislation. It is because of supposedly strict ethics which the MSM hold to, that they are accorded privileges the rest of us do not enjoy.

Secondly, a two-way relationship with a psychopath with a penchant for verbal/written abuse, sleaze, lies, publishing threats of violence, and wrecking peoples’ lives – is not something that should sit well with professional journalists. Eventually, as with the political relationship between Slater and Ede, and Slate and Collins, the truth about such working relationships becomes public.

What journalist who is serious about his/her career wants to be associated with a quasi-fascist, on-line thug such as Cameron Slater (and his equally nasty mates).

There is an old saying about “supping with the devil…”

If the media has found itself reliant on the likes of Slater (who is clearly a conduit for the National government), then the media runs the risk of becoming a mouthpiece for the government.

This is a growing danger as staffing levels continue to fall in media companies and older, more experience staff retire (or are hired as PR by corporates, institutions, government, and government bodies), leaving younger, inexperienced journalists to fill an ever-growing vacuum of institutional and historic knowledge.

Mainstream media should learn a valuable lesson from Nicky Hager’s expose. Using someone like Slater as a news-source has consequences.

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9.  When TVNZ became an organ of the government propaganda machine

One of the worst ever media responses to a story like this came from TVNZ’s “Seven Sharp” on 14 August. It was… awful.

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Seven Sharp - 14 august 2014 - nicky hager - steven joyce - dirty politics

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(Hat-tip: Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury)

I encourage people to watch the opening segment, where Mike “interviews” Minister Steven Joyce, and then interogates and derides author, Nicky Hager.

Any pretence that Mike Hosking is an “unbiased journalist” has been firmly dispatched. The man is a mouthpiece for the National government and his behaviour and line of questioning proved it.

Nicky Hager’s investigations have uncovered practices that can only be described as an abuse of power by this government.

Did Hosking ask challenging questions to the Minister? Answer: no.

Did Hosking put specific examples requiring explanations to the Minister? Answer: no.

Was Hosking’s line of questioning relevant to the book and offer insights to the viewer? Answer: no.

Hosking then asked hard questions from Nicky Hager, who to his credit realised that he was being set up as the “fall guy” for the story.

This was not journalism. Not even close. It was superficial, Fox-style partisan politics masquerading as “informed debate”. Again, not even close.

The only television I have seen in my life that came close to Hosking’s slanted, pro-government performance was during my visits to Eastern European countries in my lates teens/early twenties. In those times, Eastern Europe was ruled by well-policed, undemocratic, One Party “communist” regimes. Television “news” was little more than a mouthpiece for the government – no questions asked. There was never even an attempt at balance.

Hosking would have fitted in perfectly.

As far as I am concerned, Hosking’s “talent” lies elsewhere, but not in journalism. Perhaps a PR/spin-man for a cereal company or arms manufacturer or bordello run by the Chow Brothers (he’s already sold his soul, so the other bodily bits should be equally saleable).

As for TVNZ, it requires a thorough clean-out by an incoming Labour-led government and people like Hosking marched out the front door, escorted by Security.

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10. Conclusion

Somewhere, since 1984, we have taken a terrible road to a future which I cannot recognise except as a more subtle version of the country that my parents fled in 1956.

Truly folks, this is not the New Zealand I grew up in. .


 

References

Scoop media: Dirty Politics: Nicky Hager’s new book on the Key Government launched at Unity

Wikipedia: Seeds of Distrust

TV3 News: Nicky Hager book shows National’s ‘dirty politics’

Oxford Dictionary: “hagiography

MSN News: John Key trashes Nicky Hager’s book

TVNZ: PM challenges Nicky Hager to release emails

Interest.co.nz: Key defiant over Hager book and defends both Ede and Collins

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

NZ Herald:  PM reaffirms support for John Banks

Radio NZ: PM under pressure over Hauiti

TV3 News: Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Scoop media:  Lisa Owen Interviews Whale Oil Blogger Cameron Slater

NZCity:  Novopay fix costs to hit $43 million

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet:  New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Otago Daily Times:  Opinion – National ignores incriminating material

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

Fairfax media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

TV3 News: Nicky Hager book – Cameron Slater defends Judith Collins

Previous related blogposts

David Farrar – A Question for you please?

Dear John – Time to answer a few questions! – Hone Harawira

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar – *Update*

Pay Walls – the last gasp of a failed media business-model?


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 August 2014

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Why Judith Collins should be sacked

13 June 2012 4 comments

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In my previous blogpost,  Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked, I outlined three reasons why Minister Parata should not be sacked from her role as Minister of Education.

In essence, though her policy of increasing class size and cutting teacher numbers was unpopular with the country, she had done nothing inappropriate (that we know of) or underhand. Unpopularity, by itself, is a poor reason to sack any elected representative – or else we’d be having elections to fill vacancies on a weekly basis.

The same, however, cannot be said of ACC Minister, Judith Collins.

There has been some very dodgy dealings going on at the very highest levels and Minister Collins has been implicated in events that have yet to be adequately explained,

  1. Who leaked Bronwyn Pullar’s name to the NZ Herald?
  2. Who leaked Ms Pullar’s information to a certain right-wing blogger?
  3. What was right-wing activist, and National Party apparatchik, Simon Lusk’s involvement in this issue?
  4. Did Collins know that the report from ACC contained falsehoods?
  5. If the answer to #4 is in the affirmative, when did she become aware of the falsehoods?
  6. Why has Minister Collins not called for an investigation into the authors of the report?

Instead of acting decisively to get to the bottom of this extraordinary matter, Collins’ reaction has been to… issue demation lawsuits against Labour MPs Andrew Little and Trevor Mallard!? How does suing MPs,  who are asking hard questions, help clear up this murky affair?

It is clear to even the most partisan National supporter that ACC’s management was out of control and engaging in dubious activities. At the very least,  the Police complaint laid by ACC against Bronwyn Pullar appears to constitute an offence of wasting Police time.

Minister Collins appears not only to have done nothing to resolve this unmitigated mess – but appears to have some form degree of involvement, yet to be determined.

John Key has no option. He must stand down Judith Collins immediatly and ensure than any and all investigations include her office as well.

What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg – and god knows what lies beneath the surface.

Judith Collins must go.

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Additional

Full list of Bronwyn Pullar’s complaints against ACC

Recording reveals public was misled over extortion claims

TV3 60 Minutes:  The Eye of the Storm

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The Shining Path according to Dear Leader (Part Tahi)

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After a damning interview on TV3’s ‘60 Minutes‘, Bronwyn Pullar and ex-National Party president, Michelle Boag, left the viewer in little doubt that there were serious concerns surrounding ACC’s management and Judith Collin’s handling of the entire affair.

See: TV3 60 Minutes  -The Eye of the Storm

The following day (11 June) John Key commented on Bronwyn Pullar’s conflict with ACC by stating,

What is clear is that ACC deals with a huge number of complaints, a huge amount of data and there are always people who feel the system hasn’t treated them fairly and that is partly because the big dispute always comes around the definition of a pre-existing condition.

That at one level is at the heart of what sits with this Bronwyn Pullar claim.”

See: PM wades into ACC Pullar debate

Pardon?!

Since when did Dear Leader become privy to Ms Pullar’s personal file to such an extent that he could utter pronouncements that she had a “pre-existing condition ” ?!

Not since Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, accessed and mis-used the personal files of two women on the domestic purposes benefit has a Minister referred to a private citizens personal details.

See:  Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Dear Leader’s desperation is becoming obvious when he becomes a self-professed expert on medical “pre existing conditions” and attempts to mis-use his position of Ministerial authority to try to dis-credit a critic of his administration.

Rob Muldoon would’ve been proud.

A word to the wise, Dear Leader – keep your nose out of other people’s business and their personal files.

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From “Nanny” State to “Natzi” State?

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

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National has been working overtime (do they pay their media advisors, strategists, and spin doctors overtime?) to deflect public attention away from their mis-management of the economy, and one scandal after another.

See Blogpost:  The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

Whether it’s Nick Smith/Bronwyn Pullar/Judith Collins/ACC; John Banks and Kim Dotcom; John Banks and Sky City; John Key and Sky City; Murray McCully and wasted millions of taxpayer’s money over the aborted MFAT re-structuring –  John Key has had one ministerial scandal after another. It has been  an eye-opening, horrendous (for the Nats)  litany of failure, stuff-ups,  and dodgy dealings.

With a majority of just one seat, Dear Leader cannot afford even one resignation and by-election. It could cost him his second term in government.

On top of scandals, there are the non-stop bad news stories, on the economy and social problems,

* Unemployment continuing to rise – now at 6.7%

* Paula Bennet admitting there were were not enough jobs

* Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year

* Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

* Jobs-driven migration to Oz at high of 53,000

* Wages continue to lag behind Australia

* $12 billion student debt a national liability

* Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators – Numbers reveal National disgrace

* Child poverty growing, and children scavenging for food scraps

And adding insult to injury, Australian businesses are coming to New Zealand to set up shop, to exploit our lower wages,

* Aussie firms sending business across ditch

It’s been one failure after another, and people are starting to take notice; National is falling in public opinion polls.

This blogger predicts that the bad news is not about to end any time soon. National’s reliance on the private sector to provide jobs and growth is based on blind adherence to neo-liberal dogma – not on any common sense ideas. Blind adherence to ideology, and wilfully dismissing indicators of continual failure, is a process that is ultimately futile and doomed.

Just ask the Russians. It only took them about seven decades to realise that their experiment in marxist-leninism was dragging the USSR backwards, not forwards. They abandoned it, and that was the end of that particular episode in human history.

Neo-liberalism – the reverse side of the coin of extremist socio-economic systems – is on the same path to doomed failure.  There are those who understand this perfectly.

Rightwing governments, such as National, are political dinosaurs – watching the asteroid of change  rushing towards us – but not understanding the implications of the revolutionary change that is impending and inevitable.

Instead, National’s party strategists, media advisors, and contracted publicity/campaign  strategists have embarked on a time-honoured, proven course, of deflection; beneficiary bashing.

The strategy involved;

  1. Assessing public attitudes towards welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  2. Identifying key issues regarding welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  3. Putting together a plan, complete with media releases and policy “drafts”
  4. Priming friendly media, NGOs, and political allies
  5. Release, and stand back.

See Blogpost:  The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

The result was a two-pronged “blitzkreig” on the public,

  • “voluntary” contraception for solo-mothers
  • making immunisation mandatory for welfare recipients, by linking it to recieving state benefits

This blogger should point out that National most likely does not, for one moment, believe it’s own propaganda. People like John Key, Paula Bennett, et al, understand the statistics and realise that prejudice surrounding welfare beneficiaries is based largely on misinformation; anecdotes; and a fair measure of misogyny (demonstrated by the fact that attacks on solo-parents are always focused on solo-mothers – never  solo-dads).

They know, for example that the number of young solo-mothers aged 18 to 19 is 2.7% of the total number of welfare recipientsdown from 3.1% in 2007,

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Source

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It is also worthwhile noting the following fact,

Five year trend

 The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 Between March 2007 and March 2012, clients receiving a main benefit became slightly more likely to be aged 18–24 years and to be male.

 Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Source

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Note the relevant points:

1. The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 2. Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Point 1: the increase in welfare recipients  directly correlates to  “changes in economic conditions” – the global banking  crisis in 2008, and the resulting recession.

Point 2: The number of people on the DPB can be affected by “an ageing population”, as this Benefit can be paid to individuals caring for an elderly person, as well as children.

The overall rise in welfare recipients also correlates to,

  • a steadily growing rise in youth unemployment, from 58,000 last year  to 83,000 this year,
  • National’s  policy which calls for job creation by the private sector, and not by central government,
  • failed relationships, leaving the mother (generally) to care for children*, adding to those already on the DPB.

This is not rocket science. This is fairly basic economic facts which everyone understands fairly well.

Which then begs the question; what does contraception and immunisation have to do with an increase in welfare recipients that was caused, mostly, by “changes in economic conditions” ?!

The answer, of course, is nothing.

But then again, National’s proposals to “offer” contraception and “link”  immunisation to welfare payments has been a red herring from Day One, as outlined above.

National cannot announce to the country that ” all beneficiaries are diseased, reckless breeders“. That would be… crass. Not very subtle at all.

The more subtle way to go about vilifying and demonising a group in our society is to do it by innuendo.

Do not call solo mothers (but never solo dads) “reckless breeders”.

Do “offer” them free contraception.

Result: No direct association has been made between solo-mums and “reckless breeding” – but the unspoken  innuendo is there, hanging in the air.

Do not call beneficies “dirty and diseased”.

Do make immunisation compulsory for their children.

Result: No direct association has been made between beneficiaries and calling them “dirty and diseased” – but the unspoken innuendo is there, unsaid.

That is Phase One of National’s deflection strategy.

Phase One, I hear you say? There’s more?!’

Oh yes, this strategy is a two-fer-one deal. The unspoken labelling of beneficiaries as “dirty”, “diseased”, and “reckless breeders” is only the first part.

The second part is the predictable (and justified)  outcry from opposition political parties; NGOs; prominent citizens; bloggers (hullo!); etc, etc. This draws further attention to National’s grand strategy, giving it media ‘oxygen’.  In drawing attention to this vile policy, the public and media attention are drawn away from bad news stories about the economy and social problems.

As Business NZ CEO, Phil O’Reilly, stated on TV3 news tonight (13 May),

“… we have an economy that’s struggling.”

When is the last time we heard a news report on unemployment? The John Banks/Sky City/Dotcom/John Key/Sky City/ACC/BronwynPullar/Judith Collins scandal(s)? A stagnant economy? More New Zealanders fleeing the country to Australia? The worsening poverty crisis? The growing gap between income earners? Asset sales? Poverty-related diseases? Etc, etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

The bad-news media reports are there – but now displaced from page 1 of newspapers or lead-stories on TV/radio – and relegated as secondary or tertiary priority stories. Instead, those issues are now replaced with stories about beneficiaries, contraception, and immunisation.

National got it’s money’s-worth I’d say, on this propaganda exercise.

In case anyone still harbours doubts that National is really, truly, whole-heartedly not remotely  interested in the health  of beneficiaries, let me remind the reader of Labour’s attempt to remove fatty food-products from school tuck-shops, from June 2008,

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Full Story

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National’s response to this and other health-related concerns?

This is how much they cared for the well-being our this nation’s children,

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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And true to it’s word, when National came to power in November 2008,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Which kind of proves how much concerns National has toward the health of the nation’s children.

Which is not very much.

In Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, the far right used gypsies and jews as scapegoats. We don’t have gypsies, and if the Nats tried demonising Jews, they’d find an Israeli crack-commando squad  knocking on John Key’s door  and asking, “can we have a quiet word with you, sunshine?”.

I guess beneficiaries are the next best thing.

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* Note

This blogger’s partner’s cousin, “Shannon”,  is now caring for her three young sons after her husband walked out on the family – youngest child was 18 months old at the time. He was having an affair and has  moved in with a female co-worker from his office. “Shannon”  is now a solo-mum, on the DPB.

She did not “breed” whilst on the DPB. “Shannon”  was married when she had her three children, and the family was on a reasonable income.  So what should she do now? According to some right wing nutjobs, should she euthanase her children so they do not become a “burden on the state”?

Whilst “Shannon” is now labelled a “DPB bludger” by National and it’s supporters, her husband is free to start another family with his new partner. If he walks out on her,  and any children they have together,  as he did with “Shannon”, he still avoids responsibility – and his new partner is labelled a “bene bludger”.

Are folks picking up a common theme here?”

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Media

NZ Herald:  Stuck for ideas, Govt preys on powerless

Previous Blogposts

Why did the fat kiwi cross the road?

You’ll have a free market – even if it KILLS you!

Christmas – would you like fries with that?

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

No poverty and food scavenging here

And MORE beneficiary bashing!!!

Other Blogs

Tumeke:  And now, forced vaccination of beneficiaries & never ending detention – this week has been red neck heaven

The Standard:  Teenage dreams

Waitakere News:  Pike River will be Key’s undoing

The Dim Post:  Talkback bait

The Jackal:   Myth-busting rightwing prejudices

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The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound…

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… coming from the noddy-car that is the National Government.

So far this year

We saw the resignation of Nick Smith;  Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully blaming his own Ministry for enforcing government mandated budget and staffing cuts;   Minister Banks with worsening Alzheimers; as well as other bad-news and cock-ups for National…

When McCully  discovered a planned million-dollar upgrade of our Tokyo Embassy,  he was not a happy chappy,

It runs expressly against the instruction I gave some weeks ago that at a time when people were having to have their jobs reappraised for the ministry, we should cut back the capital expenditure budgets and significant maintenance to bare essentials only.”

Oh? Mr McCully issued “instructions“? So the cuts to MFAT’s budget and staffing was a Ministerial directive, and not an initiative by MFAT  chief executive John Allen because he was bored and had nothing to do on a Friday afternoon??

If I understand Murray McCully correctly, the fact that National has cut 2,500 jobs thus far from the State Sector – has nothing to do with proposed staff cuts at MFAT?!

Because that’s the inescapable conclusion from media reporting of Murray McCully, such as this Radio NZ piece,

Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully is criticising his own ministry for cost-cutting measures he says he disapproves of.

The measures – unveiled a month ago in a bid to save $25 million a year – will now be revised.

One of the ministry’s ideas was the outsourcing of jobs to contracting agencies.

But Mr McCully says that would not work in many places where New Zealand is represented, such as the Pacific Islands.”

Well, obviously. I wonder how many advisers it took to come up with the blindingly obvious?!

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The furore over the ACC continues to simmer, and  so far involves,

  • Files mistakenly emailed  to ACC clientBronwyn Pullar,
  • Nick Smith’s letters to ACC to help friend and National Party activist Bronwyn Pullar,
  • Ex-National Party president, Michell Boag’s involvement,
  • Ms Pullar’s name and details leaked to the media by ???
  • Claims and counter-claims of demands/offers for a ACC benefit to be paid to Ms Pullar,
  • Nick Smith’s resignation,
  • Ms Pullar’s public letter expressing her “regret” at Dr Smith’s political demise,
  • Calls for a full Inquiry by Labour, The Greens, and by Nick Smith himself!
  • Lyn Provost, the Auditor-General  says she is “considering requests for an independent inquiry”.
  • And Bronwyn Pullar’s recording of her meeting with ACC, which shows that ACC misrepresented what was said between the two parties. Extraordinary!

Whilst this blogger has no time for the National Party and it’s proven illicit love-affair  with  cronyism; nor it’s disastrous economic and social policies – that does not diminish a sense of fair play. If Dr Nick Smith requests an Inquiry, then in all fairness there should be one.

It is heartening to see the Auditor General becoming involved.  Dr Smith and all  New Zealanders deserve this most basic aspect of justice. We need to know what the hell is going on.

As for Dear Leader stating that he sees no reason for an Inquiry,

“”Everyone has moved on…”

Yes, well, Key would say that, wouldn’t he? Especially if, as many suspect, there is much more to this story than we’ve been made aware.

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In March, John Key announced that local bodies would be constrained by a new law to fund “core business” only. When asked what a “core business” was – he couldn’t say – but it would be a “broad focus“.

Nick Smith then complicated matters by saying that the words “social” and “environmental” were being removed from the broad focus, and that “ it was clear councils had an important social role and environmental role through the Resource Management Act“.

Well that’s clear. As clear as a Rotorua mud-pool.

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Finance Minister, Bill English, has conceded that partial-privatisation of Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River, Solid Energy, and further sell-down of Air New Zealand might result in the government having to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in those SOEs.  But that’s ok, because English said,

You’re looking at over the next three or four years growth in the Crown balance sheet net value of 20 or 25 billion dollars, so a few hundred million here and there is not acutally that big a commitment.

Oh, that’s ok then;  “…a few hundred million here and there is not acutally that big a commitment “, eh?

It’s a pity that English isn’t quite as generous with ” a few hundred million here and therefor sufferers of Pompe’s Disease – who have a life threatening disease – and are campaigning for National to fund life-saving medicines for half a dozen people in the country. The cost would be far less, and would save lives.

Is saving lives enough of a  “big committment“, I wonder?

After all, in 2008, Key campaigned on over-riding Pharmac’s purchase-policy on herceptin, to make it  available for a longer period of time. But that was 2008 – Election Year. Things tend to be a bit different Election Time.

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Nearly two months ago, in his 15 March “State of the Nation” speech, John Key announced that his Party had “four priorities this term”. Then, because four is not enough, he stated that he wanted “10 areas” that would be targetted by National.  Which, of course, is still less than the “economic action plan with the 120 key things“…

Personally, I’m hanging out for the 1,000-Point Uber-Plan to Conquor the Universe… [cue: Darth Vader’s Imperial March]

So what is Dear Leader’s Master Plan to bring fiscal salvation and neo-liberal nirvana to our islands?

Well…

We’ve brought the Ministry of Fisheries, MAF and the Food Safety Authority together to make the new Ministry for Primary Industries…”

Huzzah!

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After two tax cuts; sacking 2,500 state sector workers; reforming/restructuring/re-anything government departments; the 90 day employment trial-period law; cutting social services; and turning a blind eye to employers attempting to force Unions out of workplaces – what have we got to show for ?

Unemployment is back up to 6.7%.

That’s right, folks; National is implementing classical neo-liberal policies, as per doctrinal orthodoxy,  and still economic growth is low and unemployment is increasing, not decreasiing.

This isn’t what the Friendmanites promised us!

On top of that, youth unemployment (definied as between 15 to 24 age bracket) has risen from 58,000 last year – to a disturbing 83,000 this year. When questioned on this rise, Welfare Minister Paula Bennet said,

We’ve been supporting them. We’ve seen that the number of youth unemployed come down.

That’s right, folks, you haven’t mis-read it: Paula Bennet considers an increase of 25,000 as “youth unemployed coming down”.

However, she was gracious enough to admit a simple truth the the rest of the country already knew,

“… There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.”

Which then begs the question; if there aren’t enough jobs – what is the point of National’s proposed welfare “reforms”?!?! What good will come of  “reforming” welfare when welfare ain’t broke – the job market is?!

But then again, this is the same government that sacked 2,500 state sector workers to cut back on the $74.2 billion debt that National has incurred since 2008.  How much has National “saved” by sacking 2,500 workers?

$20 million.

That’s 10% of the .2 billion figure previously mentioned.

If it weren’t for the tragedy of workers having lost their jobs because of this mickey mouse government, I’d be laughing my arse off at that.

  • $74.2 billion in debt.
  • 2,500 men and women lost their jobs.
  • $20 million ‘saved’.
  • *facepalm*

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Unemployment is up – 160,000, at last count, and National is shown to have little in the way of job creation policies. According to  National, job creation is the prerogative of the free market – not central government.

When National  does become  involved, it is  a weird, mutant-form of   “Think Big”,  consisting  of mining on conservation estates (hugely unpopular); deep-sea drilling (perceived as dangerous by the public); and building a convention centre in Auckland (raising eyebrows).

The problem with the latter is that Sky City wants a quid-pro-quo. If they win the contract to build a $350 million convention centre they want legislation amended to permit an extra  350 – 500  pokies and/or gaming tables. Legislation-for-sale, as some call it.

This is viewed with concern by some – and outright dismay or hostility by others. New Zealand already has a considerable  social problem with  gambling addiction, affecting many families and communities.

John Key attempted to sooth community concerns by stating,

In a casino they are in a better environment say than attached to a pub deliberating targeting low income people in South Auckland.” – Source

By now, people tend to view Key’s assertions with a  generous measure of  suspicion. He has previously demonstrated a willingness to ‘bend the truth‘ when it suits him. So claiming that “casinos are a better environment” went down like a pool of cold vomit on a Courtney Place footpath, after a normal Friday night.

The issue was not helped when Sky City boss, chief executive Nigel Morrison, asserted that,

The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult.” – Source

Yes, Mr Morrison, it is difficult getting that across. Difficult because it is rubbish.

The actual facts surrounding problem gambling is;

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POKIES v LOTTO

Number of problem gamblers seeking help for:

2011:
* Pub gaming machines:  681
* Casino electronic gaming machines:  100
* Casino tables/cards:  57
* Lotto:  6

2010:
* Pub gaming machines:  693
* Casino electronic gaming machines:  91
* Casino tables/cards:  64
* Lotto:  0
(First time callers, Gambling Helpline New Zealand Report for National Statistics)

Source: NZ Herald,  Experts trash ‘Lotto danger’ claim

See also:  Problem gambler numbers swell at SkyCity

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Soon after,  Key put his Prime  Ministerial foot in it, by revealing that the Sky City pokies-for-convention-centre deal was his bright idea,

I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“. – Source

As this blogger pointed out, in a previous blogpiece, Key seems to be in a habit of doing deals in “informal social settings”; Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How. It is not the first time that Dear Leader has stitched up a deal over a few drinks and nibbles.

This may be how business is done in Wall St or City of London – but not in any Westminster-style Parliament. The word dodgy springs to mind.

And that, folks, is the rep that Dear Leader seems unwittingly to be creating for himself;  dodgy.

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And then, we come to the players of the next National Guvmint drama-farce,

  • Kim Dotcom
  • John Key
  • Maurice Williamson
  • Sky City Casino
  • and our favourite ACT MP (actually, our only ACT MP) – John Banks!

ACT MP and Leader is in serious trouble over donations he received from Sky City Casino (2010) and Kim Dotcom (last year).  The problem for Banks is,

  1. Why did he declare the $15,000 donation from Sky City as anonymous – when Len Brown – who received the same amount – declared Sky City as the donor on his Electoral Return?
  2. Has  John Banks change his views on gambling after the $50,000 donation from Sky City and will he vote to allow Sky City to install 350-500 new pokies?
  3. How does one forget a helicopter ride?
  4. How could John Banks have had time to seek legal advice regarding  speaking to the media, when the first conversation with John Campbell, on TV3, on 27 April, 7pm, could not possibly have allowed him the chance to phone his lawyer(s)?
  5. If Banks didn’t know that Dotcom had donated $50,000 to his mayoral fund in 2010 – why did he phone Dotcom to thank him?
  6. How does Banks reconcile his initial statement of “barely knowing” Dotcom and “having met him” for only 20 minutes – when he met the web entrepreneur four times; attended a Party with him; raised a toast in Dotcom’s honour; and then had Big Man Hugs with our Germanic cuzzy afterwards?!

As for our esteemed Dear Leader, here are some questions for him,

  1. Why has Key set the bar so low for Banks, when he stood down Richard Worth, Phil Heatley, and Pansy Wong whilst they were being investigated? Phil Heatley was stood down over two bottles of wine, for gods’ sakes!
  2. Majority of 15 – good; majority of 1 – bad?
  3. What is Key’s new definition of “ethics” – and is it a ‘dynamic situation’; “There is quite a wide definition of ethics“.
  4. How on Earth does John Key arrive at the conclusion that he trusts Banks’ word when, (a) Banks’ story has been changing/evolving/mutating  since 27 April, (b) nothing that Dotcom has alleged has been disproven, and,  (c) Key has not even personally met with Banks to discuss this issue?

The last item is perhaps the most bizarre of this entire ‘Pythonesque‘ affair; John Key has admitted to the media that he has not met John Banks to discuss this issue, and nor has he directly asked Banks for an explanation!?!?

Instead, Key has stated that he has left the matter for his Chief  of Staff,

Key said his chief of staff has received assurance from Banks that he paid for all expenses on the trip.” – Source

It’s not like John Key has been too busy to meet Banksie;  “John Key reveals his dream job“,

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Mr Key was interviewed by a group of year six students during a visit to Lower Hutt’s Eastern Hutt School this afternoon, and answered a range of questions stretching from his exercise regime, to what he carries in his pockets at all times.
When asked about the most rewarding aspect of his job, Mr Key said he got to do quite a lot of “cool things”.
“In about three weeks I’m going to London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and I’m going on the boat with the Queen … and I get to have lots of free food,” he told the students.

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Ok, so Dear Leader and his political advisors reckon that by not meeting Banks face-to-face and avoiding  directly asking awkward questions, that Key can keep his hands clean?!

If they truly believe that, then they are seriously deluded. If/when more sh*t hits the fan, or Police prosecute Banks, then the media will be all over John Key, demanding to know why the Prime Minister avoided his responsibilties in the first place.

Got a ready-made answer waiting for that curly one, Teflon John?

John Key is playing a dangerous political game here, and has backed himself into a corner should the Banks-Dotcom-Sky City affair worsen.

By not confronting Banks,  he will be seen  by the public as  having abrogated his duty as Prime Minister. He may have to smile and wave a bit harder to get out of that particular pickle…

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National has decided to be magnanimous and spare Ambrose Bradley from the chopping block; they will not be seeking court costs from the cameraman.

Ambrose Bradley flared into brilliance in the public consciousness last year when his recording device was discovered on the cafe table where John Key was enjoying a quiet cuppa tea with John Banks. Along with thirty-plus media reporters, photographers, cameramen, etc. It was all very ‘cosy‘…

… until the recording device was discovered; allegations of deliberate spying were made against Mr Ambrose;  complaints were laid with the Police; and media offices around the country were raided by Darth Vader’s Stormtroopers searching for a little droid Police armed with search warrants,

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It never went anywhere, of course. No one was arrested or prosecuted. The only ‘crime’ committed was  an assault against the sensibilities of Epsom voters – but unfortunately our law books are silent on such matters. Pity.

So it was quietly dropped, and an appeal to the Supreme Court by Mr Ambrose was inconclusive – though the bill for it was not. National contemplated seeking court costs – $13,600 – from Mr Ambrose.

It was an exercise in petty  vindictiveness by National – much like Paula Bennett mis-using the personal files of two solo-mothers, when they dared criticise the Minister of Social Welfare.

Make no mistake – there was no point whatsoever in unleashing the paramilitary arm of The State onto media and one lone journalist. This was Latin American/Middle East/former Soviet republic stuff. It was a naked mis-use of  Police  power with the aim of coercing people into silence and submission.

The most tragic aspect of this entire fiasco is that many/most National Party apologists and their low-information support-voters  approve of what took place. (Hell, some of them would probably approve of a One Party police state – as long as it was National that was the One Party, and ‘not those other fullas‘.)

That is the single thing that saddens me the most. That some of my fellow New Zealanders have a closet, quasi-fascist streak within them.

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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On a more positive note, as the wheels of the National government are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink‘ sound coming from under the Party bonnet, the public are beginning to wake up to the ‘lemon’ that they’ve been sold. National is not the finely-tuned, high-performance sports-car they were presented with last year, at the Election Show Rooms.

Instead, it’s an old ‘clunker‘, with a second-hand motor,  and it’s about to be written off the road.

It’s replacement, a two-tone red-green model is bound to be an improvement.

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Other Blogs

Fearfactsexposed:  Key’s budget spin gets another free ride on stuff.co.nz

Pundit:  National 101: How to hate debt & raise it at the same time

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Weak Comments of the Week – 31 March

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This week, two comments by public figures vie for top placing as the Foot in Mouth, Weak Comment of the Week. Both are so unbelievably unconvincing that it speaks volumes about how these people view the public as fools…

Candidate #1: Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL)

However, Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said the back down was an attempt to reduce pressure on the supply chain, where the company was “acutely aware” that customers and businesses were hurting. ” – Source

POAL has listened to the wishes of the Court, as well the views of the Mayor and all other stakeholders”, Gibson said. ” – Ibid

Oh gosh, Tony, you think ?!

The port workers collective employment agreement  expired on 30 September 2011, and formal negotiations had been ongoing since 5 August 2011 – over half a year!

In that time, POAL announced an agenda to casualise the workforce ; contract out jobs;  workers have been forced to resort to strike action to secure their jobs and conditions; and the company  exacerbated the crisis with needless, expensive  lockouts.

Even the Employment Court found that the port workers had an “arguable case“.

In all that time, as weeks turned into months, and the intransigence of POAL Board and management worsened, importers and exporters were bleeding money,

Weekly trade worth around $27 million – and $90,000 to $100,000 a week for the port – will instead be rerouted through the ports of Tauranga and Napier from the end of the month.” – Source

Has it taken six months for Tony Gibson to recognise that ” customers and businesses were hurting “?

Nah, rubbish.

Gibson, Pearson, et al, have endured an embarressing bollicking from the Employment Court decision that their lockout was illegal; they had most likely broken the law (vis-a-viz the Employment Relations Act) in terms of bargaining in good faith; and that the Maritime Union had an “arguable case”.

Claiming to be suddenly concerned for the welfare of Auckland businesses and  that  ” the back down was an attempt to reduce pressure on the supply chain ” is disingenuous.

And just a little bit darkly cheeky.

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Candidate #2: Michelle Boag, ex National Party President

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This one is a ‘classic‘, and I think most folk will understand why I had a tough time trying to determine whether Gibson or Boag’s comments merited the most derision,

One of her advisers, anticipating that a confidential settlement might be reached, said it would be wise to include all the people who were aware of the dispute so that if any of them asked afterwards, Bronwyn would not be accused of breaching confidentiality. ”  – Source

The comment refers to Bronwyn Pullar’s letter to her insurance company Sovereign, seeking $14 million in compensation for a head accident she suffered ten years ago. (I make no judgement on this matter. Personal experience with other individuals has shown me that head injuries can create long-lasting mental and emotional effects.)

However, in Ms Pullar’s letter – which yet again was leaked to the media (TVNZ’s “Close Up” programme) – she listed twentyeight people  as members of her supposed “support/advisory team” including Prime Minister John Key, ex-Prime Minister  Jenny Shipley, National Party fundraiser Selwyn Cushing,  and ex-minister Wayne Mapp.

John Key has steadfastly denied any involvement in being  included in the list.

Wayne Mapp and Selwyn Cushing have admitted involvement.

Now, for Ms Boag to suddenly claim that ” it would be wise to include all the people who were aware of the dispute so that if any of them asked afterwards, Bronwyn would not be accused of breaching confidentiality ” – is simply bizarre. It makes no sense.  It is clutching at straws and offering the most feeble excuse imaginable to explain why Ms Pullar’s letter  required 28 high-powered New Zealanders to have their names included in her letter.

In short; bollicks.

Anyone with two inter-connected, firing, neurons would understand that listing 28 prominent individuals would be done for one reason only; to add weight to Ms Pullar’s claim against Sovereign Insurance. In effect, she’s saying, “Look here! I know all these High Ups! Don’t mess with me or they may do ‘XYZ’ to you! So gimme the cash and I’ll go away.”

That would tie in with allegations (unsubstantiated) that she requested two years’ worth of benefits from ACC “to move forward”.

So, no, Ms Boag. Your rational for why those 28 names were included in Ms Pullar’s letter is nonsense. More than that, it’s an insult to our intelligence.

If you’re going to bullshit us, can you at least make it convincing?

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