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Review: TV3′s The Nation – When current affairs gets it right

20 June 2014 1 comment

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the nation_logo

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After my uncompromising critique of an episode of TV’s The Nation, broadcast on 24 May, I was gratified and relieved that the producers and hosts of the programme had returned to a degree of journalistic/media professionalism that we should expect as the norm for current affairs in this country (and which is too often lacking).

The Nation, broadcast on 14 June, was good, solid, current affairs which left the viewer better informed after watching it. Hosts Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower, and reporter Torben Akel,  were on form with their respective interviews.

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Hosts for TV3's "The Nation", Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

Hosts for TV3’s “The Nation”, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

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First up; Hekia Parata, on what is rapidly devolving into another of National’s disastrous, ill-considered attempts to insert neo-liberal “reforms” into our education sector. National’s $359 million  so-called “Teaching & leadership career pathways” has been roundly condemned by the  primary school staff union, NZEI, and the Principals Federation asserting that it is unacceptable and unworkable.

Parata responded to questioning from Patrick Gower;

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The Nation - Patrick Gower - Hekia Parata - TV3 - National - education

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Hekia Parata]

A decidedly ‘robotic’ performance from an automaton-like Hekia Parata. (Have National Party strategists and contract scientists actually built a look-a-like android  replacement replacement for Parata, to minimise potential stuff-ups from the mishap-prone education minister? And how did they make the android more realistic than the original?!)

Whether she actually convinced teachers and parents watching her performance is doubtful. When politicians avoid giving direct answers to questions, the inescapable conclusion is that they’re hiding something.

What is Parata hiding?

Perhaps the very real likelihood that the so-called “Teaching & leadership career pathways” policy is National attempt to introduce performance-pay-by-stealth?

In fact, my money is precisely on that call: performance-pay-by-stealth.

At any rate, she stayed on-message, and it was fairly obvious that Parata had been well-schooled by her tax-payer funded media-minders. She passed National’s Standard for evasiveness to questions.

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Next up, a serious look at one of this country’s worst pressing social problems – child poverty. The Right can bleat on about “SkyTV aerials”; ill-informed moralists who lead ‘saintly lives’ can pass judgement on “poor parenting”, and  the middle classes can turn a blind eye – but none of that will diminish a growing social crisis in our midst.

Prior to the introduction of neo-liberalism; the “free” market; de-regulation; and “more choices”, the term “child poverty” was unknown. Food banks barely existed, as this 2005 Child Poverty Action Group report pointed out;

There have always been foodbanks in Auckland, but until recently these were small- scale operations and, like the soup kitchens, were there to deal with emergencies and the requirements of the handful of indigents that have always been present in the urban areas of New Zealand. Data from the Presbyterian Support Services Foodlink Directory5 shows there were 16 foodbanks in Auckland in 1989. By 1994 this had mushroomed to over 130 (Mackay, 1995).

Nationally, the number of foodbanks exploded following the 1991 benefit cuts, and the passage of the Employment Contracts Act (ECA). For those in already low-paid and casual jobs, the ECA resulted in even lower wages (McLaughlin, 1998), a situation exacerbated by the high unemployment of the early 1990s (11% in 1991). The benefit cuts left many with debts, and little money to buy food (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). In 1992 the introduction of market rents for state houses dealt another blow to state tenants on low incomes. By 1994 it was estimated that there were about 365 foodbanks nationally, one-fifth of which had been set up in the previous year (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). This figure was an estimate, based on information from the 1994 foodbank conference. There were no nationally collated figures, a weakness that persists in the sector today.

Regarding what in some cases was a quadrupling of demand for food parcels after 1991, Mackay cautiously hypothesizes that “it is likely that much of it was driven by the benefit cuts of April 1991” (Mackay, 1995). Foodbank workers themselves were unequivocal that the 1991 benefit cuts were the key driver of increased foodbank use. Reflecting those most likely to be unemployed or on low wages, up to 90% of foodbank users were dependent upon some form of income support, and Maori and Pacific Island families were over- represented among those seeking assistance (Mackay, 1995).

Lisa Owen interviewed Jonathan Boston (Professor of Public Policy at Vic, co-chair of Child Poverty Expert Advisory Group), who has written New Zealand’s first book on Child Poverty in this country. That interview was followed up by Commissioner for Children, Dr Russell Wills.

 

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TV3 - The Nation - Lisa Owen - Interview Dr Russell Wills

L-R: Lisa Owen & Dr Wills; Lisa Owen and Jonathan Boston

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills]

Both interviews made for compelling, informative viewing.

Dr Wills  and Prof Boston are professionals; academics;  with a deep understanding of problems and issues confronting our society. Neither men have a political agenda – theirs is simply to inform anyone who will listen that child poverty is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.

Dr Wills made this simple statement in a level, calm tone – but which was nevertheless dramatic for it’s content;

“My weekend will be full of poor mostly Maori and Pacific preschool children with infectious diseases that our English registrars often haven’t even seen before. Now we see acute rheumatic fever. We see tuberculosis.  We have admissions to intensive care with children with illnesses that should have been treated in primary care but they couldn’t afford to go. We just don’t see those kinds of issues in our elderly people and I think that’s a great shame.”

I wonder, though,  if the inquisatorial approach taken by Lisa Owen to interview Messrs Wills and Boston was applicable in this instance? The inquisatorial style works well for political or activist public figures who may not always be forthcoming in disclosing facts.
But when it comes to academics and professionals such as Professor Boston and Dr Wills, I submit that such people will usually always  be forthcoming, even when academics are often loathe to talk in terms of absolutes, or provide simplistic answers to complex questions.
For example, Lisa Owen asked Dr Wills;

OWEN: But these are tight financial times as you would appreciate; you have said previously the questions is: are we prepared to give up something for the vulnerable. So who is the ‘we’ that has to give up something?

WILLS: It’s people like us Lisa. The fact is that we have large numbers of poor children in New Zealand who are missing out on things that our kids take for granted. So the kids that I see on the children’s ward often live in cold, damp, crowded houses. They often can’t afford to go to the GP. They commonly don’t have their own bed. They frequently all crowd around together in the living room to sleep.

OWEN: I appreciate what you’re saying there but when you say it’s people like us, that’s a nebulous concept. Don’t we need to pin down where this money is going to come from? Isn’t super or capping or raising the age, isn’t that a place where we can get a certain lot of money?
There was something a little  disturbing about the suggestion that “when you say it’s people like us, that’s a nebulous concept“.

It’s almost as if Lisa Owen had taken Margaret Thatcher’s dogma (“there is no such thing as society“)  and applied the notion to the question. Has New Zealand society become so individualised; so fragmented – that it is now a “nebulous concept“?

Sometimes we learn more from the interviewers than from  the people they are charged with interviewing.
Both men had a wealth of insights and knowledge to share with the audience. Their interviews could easily have been doubled in length to facilitate deeper under-standing of the issues involved. Perhaps canning Hekia Parata’s drivel would have provided extra time?
The audience would certainly have ended up better informed. (We already understand the fact that politicians often spout rubbish; talking a lot, but saying nothing.)

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Next up; the one and only (some might breath a sigh of relief at that), Colin Craig. Perhaps one of the oddest political aspirants to hit our political stage in recent times, Colin Craig had some very strange things to say in his interview;
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The Nation - Patrick Gower - Colin Craig - Conservative Party - TV3 - National - election 2014

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Colin Craig]

Gower started the interview with this bizarre exchange – almost reminiscent of a school Head Master dressing down an errant pupil;

Patrick Gower: I want to start with this extraordinary political cry for help that you made this week, effectively asking the Prime Minister to pull a candidate out of a seat for you.

Colin Craig: I didn’t do that.

Gower: Yes you did.

Craig: No, I didn’t.

I was expecting an impatient, testy, Gower to stand, pick up a nearby cane, and instruct  Craig,

Gower: Right boy, that’ll be enough fibbing! Bend over for six of the best!

Craig, of course, supports beating children, so this scenario would not be entirely implausible. And no one would have blamed Gower in the least.

Gower then asked Craig this salient question;

Gower: So which one of those could you beat? Which one of those three candidates could you beat? And tell the truth.

To which Craig responded;

Craig: Well look, I don’t think I could beat any of them unless we run a fantastic local campaign and people get behind us. Last time I –

Interesting.

Interesting because of what was not said, rather than what was.  No outrage over “dirty deals” in this interview, as Mr Gower expressed recently regarding the Mana-Internet alliance;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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And…

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance (2)

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I suspect, however, that the difference in style in Gower’s critiquing the deals between the Right – and that between Mana and Internet (no deals in recent times  have been proven between Labour and other parties on the Left, despite claims) –  is not so much a matter of bias, rather one of common acceptance.

In short, we are used to an ex-trader Prime Minister doing behind-the-scenes deals so it is the ‘norm‘ when the Right does it.

But not the ‘norm’ for the Left because, to date, such deal-making has been rare.

Unfair?

Yes, of course it is.

But nothing will ever change because (a) the public have more or less accepted such political wheeling-and-dealing as par-for-course amongst right-leaning politicians and their parties;  (b) it serves the interests of the Right, and (c) the media can get stuffed (in the eyes of the Right) because in the end, what matters is political power – not  chest-thumping from a few media talking-heads.

That’s the way it is.

The Left can (a) adapt and engage in their own deal-making or (b) remain “above it all”;  maintain a holier-than-thou attitude; and hope the voting public notice and duly reward them with their votes. Option ‘B’ is like going to a gunfight armed with a knife and hoping the gun misfires. There is no Option ‘C’.

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The last interview, by Torben Akel,  with Todd Barclay – the National candidate replacing outgoing MP, Bill English in Southland – was perhaps the most curious.

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The Nation - Torben Akel - Todd Barclay - Southland electorate TV3 - National - election 2014

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At only 24, Todd  Barclay is one of Parliament’s youngest MPs. In itself, this not a negative factor, as we need representation from and for young people in our House of Representatives.

What was at issue was Barclay’s relative lack of life experience.

As Torben Akel asked in a introduction voice-over,

“But age aside, does Barclay have the real world experience to be an MP. Or does he represent the rise of an insulated careerist political class?”

National’s own website highlights Barclay’s limited life-experience;

Working in Wellington and then Auckland, Todd worked for Bill English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee. He left Parliament to work for one of New Zealand’s leading public relations consultancies, before taking on a role as Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris.

To be fair, one has to wonder just how much life experience a person can achieve by age 24. Though Barclay’s experience, thus far seems constrained to working for various ministers in Parliament and for a tobacco company that peddles products that kill people.

Not exactly a CV to be proud of.

In fact, it could be said that politics and public relations revolve around manipulating reality rather than living in it.

All up, a good interview; low-key and yet illuminating. Torben Akel did a good job presenting the person and his record, and then let the viewer decide for him/herself what to make of this young man.

Now it’s up to Southlanders if this is who they want as their representative.

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Postscript #1

The parameters “child poverty” nz  on Google returns 178,000 results;

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child poverty - google results - Google - search engine - new zealand - nz

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Not exactly something to be proud of, eh, New Zealand?

Postscript #2

It is has been said before and it is worth repeating again; the greatest disservice that TVNZ and TV3 programming managers have done to the viewing public; their own staff; and to their entire network is to ‘ghettoise’  “The Nation” and “Q+A” on early morning and late night time-slots in the weekends.

Maori TV schedules “Native Affairs” on Monday evenings  at  8.30pm.  This suggests that the management at Maori TV have sufficient faith in their ‘product’ that they are willing to give it a prime time viewing slot.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for TVNZ and TV3.

(And no, we will not settle for “Seven Sharp” or “The Paul Henry Show“.)

Postscript #3

National’s media release on it’s “Teaching & leadership career pathways” was published on it’s on party website; the Beehive website; and on Scoop Media. There’s a slight ‘risk’ in publishing an official party policy communique on an independent website – you never quite know what else is going to appear alongside the text;

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (1)

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (2)

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (3)

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (4)

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I’m sure Parata, Key, et al in the National Party would be “delirious with joy” at having a political advert for Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party nested within their pride and joy educational policy statement release…

… Not!

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References

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Radio NZ: NZEI, principals unite against policy

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Education Minister Hekia Parata

TV3 The Nation: Interview transcript – Education Minister Hekia Parata

Salvation Army: Hard to swallow – Child Poverty Action Group

BWB Books: Child Poverty in New Zealand

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills

Wikiquote:  Margaret Thatcher

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

Twitter: Patrick Gower

TV3 The Nation: The new breed of career MPs

National Party: National Selects Todd Barclay For Clutha-Southland

National Party: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Scoop Media: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Previous related blogposts

Review: TV3′s The Nation – “Let them eat ice cream!”

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Additional

Facebook: Inside Child Poverty

Bryan Bruce: How to vote strategically improves children’s lives

Child Poverty Action Group

 

Events

Tuesday 17 June, 5.30pm
Panel discussion with Jonathan Boston,
Damon Salesa, Susan St John and Russell Wills. Chaired by Tracey McIntosh.
Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland
26 Wynyard St, Auckland

Thursday 19 June, 8.00am – 4.00pm
Inequality: Causes and Consequences
Student Union Memorial Lecture Theatre
Victoria University of Wellington

Friday 20 June, 5.30pm
Lecture and book launch
Speakers include: Justine Cornwall, Jonathan Boston, and Cathy Wylie
Royal Society of New Zealand
11 Turnbull St, Thorndon, Wellington


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 June 2014.

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And this is why we call them Right Wing Nut Jobs…

7 March 2014 3 comments

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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From the Xtremely Looney Files

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Right wing nuttiness knows no bounds.  Public utterance by Garth McVicar, Colin Craig,  and recently from ACT’s new leader, Jamie Whyte, are just too good for any self-respecting (or otherwise) blogger to pass up.

From the laughable, on the chemtrail conspiracy theory,

Our party has no formal position on chemtrails. I am aware of the theory that chemicals are being released at high altitude for some nefarious purpose, but don’t know whether there is any truth in this or not.” – Colin Craig, December 2012

… and more snorts of  laughter on the conspiracy theory that the moonlandings were a hoax,

I don’t have a belief or a non-belief in these things. I just don’t know. I have no idea, mate. That’s what we’re told. I’m sort of inclined to believe it. But at the end of the day I haven’t looked into it. There are very serious people that question these things. I don’t have to have an opinion on these things, I don’t have time to look into it.” – Colin Craig, 4 December 2013

… to the offensive,

Why should, say, a 70-year-old who’s had one partner all their life be paying for a young woman to sleep around? We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”- Colin Craig, 9 May 2012

… to nasty, ignorant, religion-inspired judgementalism,

The marriage institution being a relationship between a man and a woman predates government. It is not the job of government to start re-defining marriage… New Zealand has had enough social engineering; it’s time to bring government back to core services”  – Colin Craig, 11 May 2012

I think most people recognise that there are other influences such as upbringing, such as events in life. For homosexuals, they are statistically far more likely to have suffered child abuses as a child… It certainly can make a difference in someone’s choices in life, there’s no question about that in my mind.” – Colin Craig,  4 August 2012

Yes, we are discriminating between relationships. We are saying that marriage between a man and a woman is recognised. We are saying that a relationship between a man and a man, for example, goes down the path of a civil union.” – Colin Craig, 23 January 2013

… to this very strange exchange on TV3,

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

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

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

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

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied. – Colin Craig, 27 July 2012

Something you want to tell us, Colin?!

Meanwhile, new ACT leader, Jamie Whyte took a walk on the Very Wild Side on incestuous relationships,

I don’t think the state should intervene in consensual adult sex or marriage, but there are two very important elements here – consensual and adult.  I wonder who does believe the state should intervene in consensual adult acts?  I find it very distasteful I don’t know why anybody would do it but it’s a question of principle about whether or not people ought to interfere with actions that do no harm to third parties just because they personally wouldn’t do it.

The probability of having some problem with the children is greater when the mother is over the age of 35 but I’ve never heard anyone suggest that anyone over the age of 35 shouldn’t be allowed to have sex.” – Jamie Whyte, 26 February 2014

Mind you, this is the character who referred to the minimum wage as “cruel”,

“ …those businesses which don’t directly lay off workers will be discouraged from employing more, or replacing those who leave voluntarily in future. The best thing that low skilled workers can do is get work experience. It’s hard to think of a crueller policy than passing a law that bans the people most in need of work experience from getting any.” – Jamie Whyte, 25 February 2014

–  because as we all know, paying someone $1 an hour is not *cruel*.

… and has no problem in abolishing health and safety regulations to protect workers,

I do believe that the regulatory framework around labour and health and safety in New Zealand should be liberalised, and I think there’ll be many advantages to workers in liberalising them.  I’m not sure that we’re going to campaign hard on that, but I certainly believe that.” – Jamie Whyte, 3 February 2014

– because 29 men killed at Pike River Mine, and dozens killed in the foresty industry,  is not a sufficient sacrifice on the alter of Libertarianist ideology.

… and plucking bizarre beliefs out of thin air (on the marriage equality Bill),

The marriage amendment bill will not benefit society at all and will ultimately have detremetal [sic] effect on crime at all levels .” – Garth McVicar, 20 January 2012

If you look at the court stats, most of the crime that has been committed has been committed by fatherless kids .” – Garth McVicar, 21 January 2012

Although that  rationale  seems more than a bit odd. If “most of the crime that has been committed has been committed by fatherless kids” – having two  fathers  should all but eliminate crime!?!

That would be a Good Thing, right?

But that’s prejudice for you. It collapses very quickly under a groaning weight of  blind prejudice and weak foundations based on irrational ‘logic’.

On a positive note, even society’s fringe elements can count  on Parliamentary representation.

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References

Fairfax: Craig focusing on ‘upside’ of media

NBR:  Colin Craig not sure man walked on moon

Otago Daily Times: NZ women ‘most promiscuous in the world’

NZ Herald:  Homosexuality a personal choice, says Conservative Party leader

Dominion Post: Colin Craig: Gay marriage is ‘social engineering’

NZ Herald:  Act Leader Jamie Whyte stands by incest comments

Scoop Media: National bows to minimum wage myths

NZ Herald: Society right to discriminate – Craig

The Ruminator: Mr Ryght: An interview with ACT leader: Jamie Whyte

Newstalk ZB: Don Brash surprised by ACT’s new direction

Fairfax: Lobbyist links gay marriage to crime rise in NZ

NZ Herald: McVicar stands by claim over gay bill

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Colin Craig Conservative Party

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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

24 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 24 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams discuss the recent political polls.

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (21′ 58″ )

  • TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll, Roy Morgan poll
  • Election campaigns
  • David Parker
  • Labour Party, NZ Power, “Best Start”, Auckland Rail Loop early start
  • Russell Norman, Kim Dotcom
  • David Cunliffe
  • Shane Taurima, TVNZ
  • Winston Peters
  • Greens, David Hay, Leaders’ Debates
  • ACT, Richard Prebble, Jamie Whyte, flat tax
  • Conservative Party, Colin Craig
  • and an early election in September?

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Letter to the Editor: Colin Craig – law-breaker!

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the ed
DATE:    Wed, 15 Jan 2014 12:56:35 +1300
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

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The Editor
DOMINION POST
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Wannabe politician, Colin Craig, recently admitted to
hitting his daughter. When asked on Radiolive, on 13
January, he replied,

"I occasionally do it now." 

With the repeal of that part of Section 59, which permitted
adults to use the excuse of "correction"  when faced with
allegations of physical abuse, that kind of behaviour by
parents and guardians became illegal. 

Which begs these questions;

1. How can we have a politician in Parliament, who is sworn
to uphold the laws of the land, admit that he flouts laws
that don't suit his particular beliefs?

2. Why should a person, who also happens to be an aspiring
politician and millionaire, be above the law when the rest
of us  are held to account for infringements both small or
large?

3. How will National reconcile it's "tough on crime" stance
when at the same time they  actively seeks Craig's party as
a potential coalition partner, even though Craig admits to
flouting the law?

It will be intriguing to see John Key's response to this
issue - once he gets back from his latest overseas junket.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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Addendum

Section 59 of the Crimes Act says: –

* Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of:

– preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person

– preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence

– preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour

– performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

* Nothing in (the above section) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

* To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

Source: NZ Herald – Colin Craig: I smack my child

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Bring in the clowns…

This has to be seen to be believed. I was trying to figure out who was the bigger clown – Banks or Craig.

Then I realised a simple truth…

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Banks and Craig(click on image)

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They’re both clowns.

The Right must be very proud?!

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References

TV3: In-fighting kicks off among National’s partners

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 25 November 2013

25 November 2013 1 comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

 

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– Monday 25 November 2013 –

 

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

 

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

 

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

 

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 23′ 15″  )

 

This week:

  • Electorate boundary reshuffles,
  • new party leaderships,
  • government share sale policy,
  • and offshore drilling.

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Citizen A with Martyn Bradbury, Colin Craig & Dr Wayne Hope

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– Citizen A –

 – 6 June 2013 –


Colin Craig & Dr Wayne Hope –

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury,  Colin Craig, and  Dr Wayne Hope discuss the following issues:

  • Is Key the new Muldoon?
  • What’s worse for education – Novopay or Charter Schools
  • Why is Winston attacking Dunne?

 

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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