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Posts Tagged ‘David Farrar’

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

2 February 2019 2 comments

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On 6 January, this blogger reported on a ‘tweet’ and  associated blogpost from right-wing blogger and National Party supporter, David Farrar;

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David Farrar had commented on a story that appeared on Fairfax/Stuff’s website on 18 December 2018, entitled;

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“UK school children to be taught boys can have periods too”

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As this blogger wrote on 6 January;

The Fairfax/Stuff article was based on a report from Brighton & Hove City Council dated 3 December 2018. The BHCC report  outlined how better support could be offered to students in the Council’s area for sanitary products during menstruation. The Council report outlined measures that could be taken to offer support where needed, remove stigma and shame associated with menstruation, and provide better education on the subject.

This was outlined on page 10 of the report.

Also on page 10 was a section headed;

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Key messages for learning about periods

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The tenth bullet-point made this observation;

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The statement reads “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods“.

It should actually read; “Trans boys and Trans men and non-binary people may have periods“. Or even “Trans boys/men and non-binary people may have periods“. (Which reflects their original internal biology, as opposed to the gender they later identify as.)

The BHCC report does not refer to CIS men.

This blogger wrote to Fairfax/Stuff on 5 January, pointing out the article’s gross inaccuracies;

I submit that the headline and story was not factually accurate and severely mis-represented a published report from the United Kingdom. The mis-repesentation was such that it elicited a hostile and angry response from readers.

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Nowhere in the BHCC report does it state that ”all genders can have periods“. This is an incorrect assertion that is not true. The report clearly refers to trans boys, [trans] men, girls, women , and non-binary people.

[…]

The BHCC report does not state anywhere that ”boys can have periods too“. The report clearly states that “trans boys and [trans] men” may have periods.

Trans boys and [trans] men were, at an early stage, biologically female. They subsequently identified as male

Furthermore, I pointed out the intemperate response by readers to the Fairfax/Stuff article;

The lack of factuality to the Stuff story is evidenced by the following Comments Section. Readers have mis-interpreted what the BHCC actually stated based purely on the headlining and the manner in which statements were mis-reported or presented out-of-context. There has been a massive response hostile to the BHCC report based on the Stuff story mis-representing that ” boys can have periods too” and ” all genders can have periods”.

Much of that hostility has been directed at trans-people/LGBTQI, and as such the erroneous nature of the Stuff story may have led to incalculable harm to an already marginalised minority in our community.

Fairfax/Stuff’s Deputy Editor, Keith Lynch, responded three days later. To their credit,  they accepted the poor quality of their “story”;

On reflection, we don’t think this story reached our journalistic standards.
It has been standard for us to refer to trans people as their chosen gender for some time (hence the reference to “boys” rather than “trans boys”).
However in this case, I do take your point and we have updated the story’s intro and headlines and added a clarification to the copy.

True to his word, Keith Lynch revised the story on their website. The heading now read;

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“UK school children to be taught trans boys can have periods too”

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The content was also amended;

New primary school sex education guidelines are being introduced in the United Kingdom to tackle the stigma around menstruation including for trans-gender boys and men. 

Brighton & Hove City Council has released a report advising teachers that “Language and learning about periods is inclusive of all genders, cultures, faiths and sexual orientations” as “trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”.

It recommends teachers use language that reflects “all genders, cultures, faiths and sexual orientations” and calls for transgender students to be given extra support from a school nurse if needed.

The Fairfax/Stuff story also linked to the original Brighton & Hove City Council report (above).

The reference to “all genders” was made more specific to learning about menstruation;

New guidelines in the UK suggest lessons on menstruation “must be inclusive of all genders”.

On 24 January, I wrote to David Farrar,  pointing out that his blogpost and ‘tweet’ were based on an inaccurate media story;

Kia ora David,

Re your blogpost on 3 January headed “”UK kids to be taught men can menstruate””, Fairfax/Stuff has revised their original story upon which you based your piece: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/109414247/uk-school-children-to-be-taught-boys-can-have-periods-too

The Fairfax/Stuff story was revised after it was pointed out that their story contained major factual errors. Deputy Editor, Keith Lynch, confirmed that the story did not meet their usual journalistic standards.

If you take a few minutes to read the revised version (link above), you will see it differs considerably from the original version you (and I) read.

Will you be amending or deleting your 3 January blogpost (and associated ‘tweet’) which now refers to a media story that no longer exists in it’s original form?

In all fairness, I’m advising you that I’m putting together a follow-up blogpost to this story (after an initial piece I wrote on 6 January), and  any comment you offer may be included.

To David Farrar’s credit, he responded in under 24 hours, confirming that he would amend his blogpost – which he has done so;

UPDATE: The original story has been corrected, and was misleading. They now advise:

This story initially quoted the report as stating”menstruation must be inclusive of all genders”. This was incorrect and the article has been updated. The headlines and intros has also been updated to better reflect the content of the report.

So not that much of a story after all it seems.

Frankly speaking, David Farrar owes this blogger nothing and he would have been within his rights to either ignore me or suggest detailed instructions where I could go. That he opted to make the correction – as did Keith Lynch – is in their favour. Kudos to them both.

All that aside, this experience has highlighted how easily widespread mis-information can end up demonising a marginalised, powerless minority in our community. Subsequently, nearly all comments following David Farrar’s blogpost and the Fairfax/Stuff story, were full of derision. Expressions of intolerance were given ‘permission’ to be voiced. There was more “knee-jerking” from reactionary conservatives than from athletes running a ten thousand metre race.

The problem is that none of the commentators who left comments after the Kiwiblog post and Fairfax/Stuff story would return to read the up-dated version, nor David Farrar’s correction.

Such is how mis-information is spread and misconceptions take form. Several hundred (thousands?) of readers may now be spreading the false notion that British “school children [would] be taught boys can have periods“.  Outrage over “political correctness gone mad” can usually be traced back to such mis-information.

It probably does not help matter that Fairfax has eliminated dozens of sub-editing positions within it’s offices, out-sourcing the role to companies such as Pagemaster. Journalists are also expected to sub-edit their own work prior to publication to on-line publications – a policy that invites errors to slip through.

As Karl du Fresne wrote in June 2017,

The casualties of the job cuts have included subeditors, the now virtually extinct class of senior journalists whose job was to keep errors out of the paper and whose absence is reflected in embarrassing mistakes that, with increasing frequency, provide much glee on social media.

Worse still, far-right groups like the so-called “New Conservative” Party will be only too happy to propagate fake information from various internet sources, whether correct or not..

If this lesson has taught us anything, it is a reminder that we should be very careful with our reporting. Whether highly-read bloggers or mainstream media, we have a duty to get it right the first time.

By the time corrections are made to a badly-written story or blogpost, the damage has been done.

Postscript

This blogger is not immune to “writing from the hip” and making a mistake based on an incorrect msm story:

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Prime Minister commits NZ troops to next US-led conflict zone!

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The problem with the above headline is that it wasn’t true. I had written a blogpost sourced from a msm story that had incorrectly attributed comments to John Key that he had never said.

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References

The Daily Blog: David Farrar – fomenting happy mischief at other people’s expense

Twitter: David Farrar – UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Kiwiblog: UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Brighton and Hove City Council: Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities, and Equalities Committee Addendum

Scoop media: Fairfax plans to axe 70 jobs, mainly in Wellington, to outsource subbing to Pagemasters

Stop Press: NZME to take sub-editing in-house, job cuts likely to follow at Pagemasters

Noted: New Zealand papers are in dangerous decline – here’s what’s at stake

Additional

Agender NZ: Transgender Support

Previous related blogposts

Prime Minister commits NZ troops to next US-led conflict zone!

David Farrar – fomenting happy mischief at other people’s expense

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 January 2019.

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David Farrar – fomenting happy mischief at other people’s expense

11 January 2019 1 comment

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A recent ‘tweet’ on social media from right-wing blogger, David Farrar, caught my eye and raised an eye-brow to make a Vulcan proud;

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The ‘tweet’ linked back to a short blogpost on Farrar’s “Kiwiblog“;

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Farrar’s blogpost heading said it all;

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“UK kids to be taught men can menstruate”

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The response from Farrar’s sychophantic fanboi followers was predictably outraged. The “PC gone mad” theme was barked like demented hyenas throughout the commentaries on Farrar’s Twitter post and Kiwiblog.

Unfortunately, only a couple of Farrar’s commentators picked up on one simple fact: the Fairfax/Stuff article – upon which Farrar based his brief blogpost on – was factually incorrect;

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Kudos to those two more-lucid, clear-thinking commentators. (Further on the conversation, the commentator known as Psycho Milt also understood how badly the Fairfax/Stuff story had been written. I stopped checking other comments after Milt’s 3 January  2019 8:24am comment. If anyone else picked up on the bullshit nature of the story, they are in a lofty minority of questioning thinkers.)

The Fairfax/Stuff article was based on a report from Brighton & Hove City Council dated 3 December 2018. The BHCC report  outlined how better support could be offered to students in the Council’s area for sanitary products during menstruation. The Council report outlined measures that could be taken to offer support where needed, remove stigma and shame associated with menstruation, and provide better education on the subject.

This was outlined on page 10 of the report.

Also on page 10 was a section headed;

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Key messages for learning about periods

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The tenth bullet-point made this observation;

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The statement reads “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods“.

It should actually read; “Trans boys and Trans men and non-binary people may have periods“. Or even “Trans boys/men and non-binary people may have periods“. (Which reflects their original internal biology, as opposed to the gender they later identify as.)

The BHCC report does not refer to CIS men.

Which ever way you look at it, the only thing Brighton & Hove City Council are guilty of is a poorly-worded statement. The meaning to anyone who understands biology and transgender issues should be clear enough. The intent of the statement should be obvious to all except the most uninformed.

I do not believe for a moment that David Farrar was too stupid to pick up on the fact that the authors of the Fairfax/Stuff article got it horribly wrong. Yes, “Stuff” stuffed up.

I do, however, believe he wilfully continued to mis-represent the media story, hyping it up with his wildly inflammatory (and wholly inaccurate) blogpost headline.

Even after I pointed out on Twitter that his blogpost was based on a fundamental inaccuracy;

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– both his ‘tweet’ and blogpost remained in-situ, without any correction.

This is lazy and/or dishonest on his part.

One of the roles that bloggers/citizen journalists is to hold the mainstream media to account when they omit facts or are inaccurate in the way facts are presented. In this case, the Fairfax/Stuff reporting was so carelessly written as to make it utterly worthless.

Practically every single comment left on Twitter, Kiwiblog (with three notable exceptions), and the “Stuff” comments-section was hysterically whipped-up and enflammed on the non-existent premise that men could have periods, as ordained by the Brighton Hove City Council. Conservative readers must have been  having coronary attacks at the time!

Farrar did nothing to set the record straight.

Instead he fanned the moral panic/hysteria/ignorance generated by a crappy Fairfax/Stuff story.

It was disappointing. I expected better from someone with his experience in media/blogging.

This is how vulnerable minorities become demonised and de-humanised.

Addendum

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy at gmail dott com>
to: Keith Lynch <keith.lynch@stuff.co.nz>
date: 5 Jan 2019
subject: Complaint

Keith Lynch
Deputy Editor
Stuff.co.nz

Kia ora Mr Lynch,

I am lodging a formal complaint that a story on your website (and in print?) headed “UK school children to be taught boys can have periods too“, published on 18 December 2018.

I submit that the headline and story was not factually accurate and severely mis-represented a published report from the United Kingdom. The mis-repesentation was such that it elicited a hostile and angry response from readers.

Link to story: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/109414247/uk-school-children-to-be-taught-boys-can-have-periods-too

The article’s headline stated that ” boys can have periods too“.

The body of the text also stated;

“Primary school children in the United Kingdom will be taught that all genders can have periods under new sex education guidelines that aim to tackle the stigma around menstruation.”

Nowhere in the BHCC report does it state that ” all genders can have periods“. This is an incorrect assertion that is not true. The report clearly refers to trans boys, [trans] men, girls, women , and non-binary people.

The story quoted from the report commissioned by the Brighton & Hove City Council (UK) which correctly said (on page 10);

“trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”

The BHCC report does not state anywhere that ” boys can have periods too“. The report clearly states that “trans boys and [trans] men” may have periods.

Trans boys and [trans] men were, at an early stage, biologically female. They subsequently identified as male.

The word “trans” should have preceded the word “men” to clarify the point being made in the BHCC report. However, the term “trans” is clearly used preceding the word “boy”. The intent of that sentence “trans boys and men…” should therefore have been clear to the author of that Stuff story.

A photograph of students in a classroom carried the caption;

New guidelines in the UK suggest lessons on menstruation “must be inclusive of all genders”

The reference to “ lessons on menstruation must be inclusive of all genders” is mis-leading in this context, as ” lessons on menstruation” has been linked to the erroneous premise that ” boys can have periods too”.

The lack of factuality to the Stuff story is evidenced by the following Comments Section. Readers have mis-interpreted what the BHCC actually stated based purely on the headlining and the manner in which statements were mis-reported or presented out-of-context. There has been a massive response hostile to the BHCC report based on the Stuff story mis-representing that ” boys can have periods too” and ” all genders can have periods”.

Much of that hostility has been directed at trans-people/LGBTQI, and as such the erroneous nature of the Stuff story may have led to incalculable harm to an already marginalised minority in our community.

I request that Stuff correct this badly written story and to make any such correction with a high degree of publicity.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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References

Twitter: David Farrar – UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Kiwiblog: UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Fairfax media: UK school children to be taught boys can have periods too

Brighton and Hove City Council: Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities, and Equalities Committee Addendum

Previous related blogposts

How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study

When the mainstream media go feral

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

David Farrar – Challenging Slater for Sultan of Sleaze?

David Farrar – A Question for you please?

According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

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

Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

The Neverending Story in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land

Worse than “fake news” – sloppy news!

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part tahi)

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part rua)

Ali Jones rips right wing blogger a “new one” on Radio NZ’s “The Panel”

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 January 2019.

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Gerry Brownlee, David Farrar, and Brett Hudson win Hypocrisy Awards

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Minister Clare Curran’s recent demotion was announced in a surprise press conference at Prime Minister Ardern’s electorate office, just before 4pm on a Friday afternoon. A government statement outlined her sin-of-omission;

In February this year Minister Curran met with Mr Derek Handley at her Beehive office in her capacity as Minister of Government Digital Services to discuss Mr Handley’s interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role. This meeting took place after the first unsuccessful recruitment round for the CTO. As with approaches from other interested parties, the Minister directed Mr Handley to register his interest with MBIE officials. Applications reopened for the CTO role in May.

The meeting was not recorded in the Minister’s diary and neither the Minister’s staff nor officials were made aware of it.

The demotion and removal from Cabinet comes on top of Ms Curran’s unrecorded “secret” meeting at Astoria Cafe with former Radio NZ executive, Carol Hirschfeld, which hit the headlines in March this year.

Ms Curran’s gaffs have sparked the usual and tedious pious pontification from the National Opposition benches. Former Christchurch Re-build Minister, and airline security hazard, Gerry Brownlee, climbed the rarified heights of Mount Moral Highground to demand Ms Curran’s sacking;

But not everyone agrees. National Party MP and shadow House leader Gerry Brownlee said it was the “most limp-wristed, wet bus ticket thing” Ms Ardern could do.

He wants her stripped of the broadcasting portfolio as well.

“It’s undergoing a huge amount of change at the moment, and you need a minister that’s pretty active and onto it to make sure that broadcasting legislation is going to be the best for the sort of information and entertainment services that New Zealanders expect.”

Relatively unknown National Party List MP, Brett Hudson, devoted an entire press release excoriating the hapless Minister*;

“The decision to allow Clare Curran to retain any of her Ministerial portfolios after being dumped from Cabinet is a sign of weakness in the Government…

It’s almost comical that Ms Curran, who until today held the Associate State Services (Open Government) portfolio has failed not once but twice to answer Written Parliamentary Questions accurately.

Her punishment is a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. She keeps her Ministerial salary and the all the perks that come with that despite demonstrating that she’s not capable of being a Minister.

It’s not good enough that it took Ms Curran five and a half months to correct her answer to a written question and to finally acknowledge she met with Derek Handley, who had expressed interest in the Chief Technology Officer role created by the Minister.”

Rightwing blogger and National Party activist, David Farrar, was equally scathing;

So covering up secret meetings is okay for a Minister outside Cabinet, just not inside Cabinet. That’s mighty low standards. A meaningful sanction would be removal from the Ministry.

The undisclosed meeting was just as improper as the Hirschfeld one, namely:

  • It was a conflict of interest as Derek Handley was an applicant for the CTO job that the Minister appoints
  • The meeting was not in the Minister’s diary
  • The meeting was kept a secret from the Minister’s own staff and officials
  • The meeting was not disclosed to a written parliamentary question

If that is not enough to be removed from the ministry, what is?

Good question, Mr Farrar: “If that is not enough to be removed from the ministry, what is?

Let’s try to answer that question. What would merit removal from office for unofficial, unrecorded meetings?

Here are three possible answers;

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But in answer to parliamentary written questions, the Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of Mediaworks to discuss the deal.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.

Was Key’s “social event” where he “ran into” Brent Impey held at Astoria Cafe by any chance?

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Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key’s diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives since July last year.

“Having said that, the Prime Minister attends numerous functions and is quite likely to have come across Sky City representatives at some stage.”

Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “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”.

So the former PM’s “diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives” – but he did have dinner with the entire “Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“.

Also held at Astoria Cafe, by any chance?

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Prime Minister John Key had breakfast with Ian Fletcher just days after he selected a panel to interview candidates for the country’s top spy job.

The pair ate together at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza Hotel on June 17, 2011. Mr Key says the vacancy, as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, was not discussed.

Three days earlier, Mr Key had signed off on an interview panel for the job, which included then Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Maarten Wevers. Mr Fletcher was the only person to be interviewed for the post, after a shortlist of four other candidates was rejected.

Not held at the Astoria Cafe.

But Mr Fletcher did get the job.

As for Mr Farrar’s question – would the former Prime Minister’s unofficial and unrecorded meetings with Brent Impey, Ian Fletcher, and the entire Board of Skycity Casino quality to be “enough to be removed from the ministry”?

Herein lies a lesson for Ms Curran and other government ministers. If you’re going to have “secret” meetings, follow the National Party’s handbook. They do it much more effectively.

And they get away with it.

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*  Note

National Party pages are removed regularly from their website. Brett Hudson’s page/statement has been saved for future reference.

References

NZ Herald: Clare Curran sacked from Cabinet, PM Jacinda Ardern announces

Scoop media: Clare Curran removed from Cabinet

ODT: Carol Hirschfeld resigns over Clare Curran meeting

Mediaworks/TV3: Why wasn’t Clare Curran stripped of all her portfolios?

Fairfax media: Gerry Brownlee fined for airport security breach

National Party: Curran token demotion a sign of weakness

Kiwiblog: Disclosure State

Kiwiblog: Curran demoted after a further secret meeting

TVNZ:  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

Other Blogs

The Standard: Clare Curran demoted

Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

National Party Corporate welfare vs real welfare

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

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

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Disclosure: This blogger had a date with his current partner at the Astoria Cafe. It was very nice.
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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 August 2018.

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Ali Jones rips right wing blogger a “new one” on Radio NZ’s “The Panel”

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Unexpected fireworks erupted on Jim Mora’s ‘The Panel’ on Radio NZ on Tuesday 15 May when PR consultant and  former Christchurch City Councillor, Ali Jones, took on National Party apparatchik, pollster, wannabe Bond-villain, and right-wing blogger, David Farrar.

Farrar began by parroting the current National party propaganda line – at 1.51 – that “despite being nine years in opposition, the government hasn’t actually come in with a lot of detailed policy“.

Ali Jones responded – at 3.15 – taking umbrage at Farrar’s pro-National spin. She replied with a scathing critique of National’s poor track record for the last nine years. It is worth listening to;

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National’s artificially manufactured reputation for “sound/prudent fiscal management” didn’t just take another hit from Ms Jones.  It got a swift, hard kick in the ‘goolies’ by a person unwilling to take any bullshit from one of National’s chief apologists.

Nicely aimed and delivered, Ms Jones.

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References

Radio NZ: Labour accused of doing nothing but setting up committees (alt.link)

P & R Communications

The Press: Ali Jones not seeking second term on Christchurch City Council

Kiwiblog

Previous related blogposts

The Mendacities of Mr English – No, I wasn’t told – Yes, I was told

National’s housing spokesperson Michael Woodhouse – delusional or outright fibber?

The many mendacities of Mr Bridges – a few volts short of an EV

Newsflash: apparently our public hospital system is in crisis?!

National spins new “fake news” narrative: there is no health crisis

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 May 2018.

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Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

12 October 2017 4 comments

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

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

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

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

And you know what? He’s 100% right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fourth Estate does not ‘do’ criticism well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Anthony happens to be a National Party supporter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a politician called them on it;

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

MMP is complex and requires careful consideration and time.

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

The Fourth Estate is yet to catch up.

 

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References

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

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

Newsroom:  Winston’s awful start

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

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

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

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

Radio NZ:  Green Party dismisses National-Green speculation

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

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

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

NZ Herald:  Grassroots petition calls for National-Green coalition

Fairfax media: Govt sits on climate warnings

Twitter: Mojo Mathers

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

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

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

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

Radio NZ:  Special votes – why the wait?

NZCity:  Have patience, says Winston Peters

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

Other Blogs

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

Kiwiblog:  How a National-Green coalition could work

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

Liberation:  Cartoons and images about negotiating the new government

Previous related blogposts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

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

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Election ’17 Countdown: The Strategy of Ohariu

22 February 2017 2 comments

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(Or, “It’s only ‘hypocrisy’ when the Left do it!“)

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The Labour-Green New Deal

On 14 February, the Left finally woke up to the realities of MMP. A deal was brokered and the only possible, logical  outcome arrived at;

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rnz-green-party-will-not-stand-in-ohariu-election-2017

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The Radio NZ story is correct; Dunne retained the Ōhāriu electorate by only 710 votes.

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ohariu-2014-election-result

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Had Green voters given their electorate vote to the Labour candidate, Virginia  Andersen would have won Ōhāriu by 2,054 votes and National would  have lost one of their coalition partners.

With the subsequent loss of Northland to Winston Peters in March 2015, National would have lost their majority in Parliament and would have had to either rely on NZ First for Confidence and Supply – or call an early election.

A major victory for the Left (and all low-income people in our community) would have been the abandonment of National’s state house sell-of. (Current state housing stock has dropped from 69,000 rental properties in 2008 to 61,600 (plus a further 2,700 leased) by  2016.)

National has sold off  7,400 properties. Meanwhile, as of December last year, there were 4,771 people on the state house waiting list;

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msd-housing-nz-waiting-list

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Had Dunne been ousted from Ōhāriu in 2014 our recent history would have been completely altered.  Anyone who believes that the Labour-Green accomodation was a “dirty” deal might ponder the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ whilst spending the night in a car or under a tarpaulin. Preferably in winter.

Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, rightly pointed out the obvious;

“I think New Zealanders will understand that, in an MMP environment, it makes perfect sense for us to not stand a candidate in Ōhāriu. Ōhāriu has a significant impact on the makeup of Parliament.

Not standing in Ōhāriu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the government in September – it’s as simple as that.

I would actually argue that we’re being more transparent here by actually simply saying we’re not going to and it’s within the structure of the memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party that we signed last year, where we actually held a press conference saying that we were going to work together to change the government.”

Shaw has rejected any suggestion that this is a “dirty deal”. Again, he is correct. the Greens and Labour are simply working by the rules of MMP as National determined in 2012/13, when then-Dear Leader Key refused to eliminate the “coat-tailing” provision.

Shaw should have thrown the description of a “deal” right back at critics such as right-wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, and TV3’s faux-moralistic Patrick Gower. Shaw’s response should have been hard-hitting and ‘in-your-face’,

“Damn right it’s a deal. Those are the rules set by  National and we  play by them. If people don’t like it, take it up with the Tories.”

Some context

In 2012, National followed through on an earlier government committment to conduct a review into the MMP electoral process. The Commission called for submissions from the public, and over 4,600 submissions were duly made on the issue. (This blogger made a submission as well.)

As a result, the Commission made these findings;

The Commission presented its final report to the Minister of Justice on 29 October 2012 with the following recommendations:

  • The one electorate seat threshold  [aka “coat-tailing”] should be abolished (and if it is, the provision for overhang seats should also be abolished);

  • The party vote threshold should be lowered from 5% to 4% (with the Commission required by law to review how the 4% threshold is working);

  • Consideration be given to fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to address concerns about declining proportionality and diversity of representation;

  • Political parties should continue to  have responsibility for selecting and ranking candidates on their party lists but they must make a statutory declaration that they have done so in accordance with their party rules;

  • MPs should continue to be allowed to be dual candidates and list MPs to stand in by-elections.

 

The first two recommendations were a direct threat to National’s dominance in Parliament, and then-Minister of Justice, Judith Collins rejected them outright;

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Key offered a mealy-mouthed excuse for not accepting the Electoral Commission’s report;

“If you’re really, really going to have major change to MMP you’d want to have either consensus or to put it to the people.  It’s not a matter of blame – it’s just a range of views out there.”

Yet, submitters had been fairly clear in their views and failure to obtain “concensus” from the smaller parties in Parliament said more about their own self-interests than public-interest.

A NZ Herald editorial pointed out;

All of National’s present allies, Act, United Future and the Maori Party, take the same view of the single electorate entitlement and all but the Maori Party have benefited from it at some time. Self-interest may be their underlying motive…

[…]

National seems not to want to disturb the status quo because it discounts its chances of finding stable coalition partners under the simplified system proposed.

So the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars spent on the MMP Review; seeking submissions; listening to submitters; and providing the Report to Parliament was all an utter waste of money.

The “coat-tailing” provision would be set to remain because without it National would find it harder to find potential coalition allies, and therefore govern.

It also meant that all political parties now have to play by the same rules, or else be disadvantaged.

(Hypo)Crit(ic)s

— Gower

Patrick Gower (with Jenna Lynch sharing the byline) writing for  TV3 News was obviously having a bad coffee-day with this vitriolic comment, condemning the Labour-Green accomodation;

Labour and the Greens have just done the dirtiest electorate deal in New Zealand political history – and it is all about destroying Peter Dunne.

The tree-hugging Greens will not stand in Ōhāriu to help the gun-toting former cop Greg O’Connor win the seat for Labour.

This is dirtier than most electorate deals because for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running rather than standing but giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate.

The degree of hypocrisy to Gower’s comment is breath-taking.

Note that he suggests that it is preferable to “giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate” rather than withdrawing a candidate and openly declaring an accomodation.

In effect, a journalist has advocated for “open deception” rather than transparency. Think about that for a moment.

Gower antipathy to left-wing parties using current MMP rules is not new. Three years ago, Gower  made a scathing attack on Hone Harawira and Laila Harré over the alliance between the Internet Party and Mana Movement;

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

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By attacking parties on the Left who choose to work together (but not parties on the Right), Gower is either displaying crass ignorance over how MMP works – or undisguised political bias.

I will not be surprised if Gower eventually ends up as Press Secretary for a National minister.

Postscript: Re Gower’s comment that “for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running“.

This is yet more ignorance from a man who is supposedly TV3’s “political editor”. Political parties often do not yield a full slate of candidates in every electorate.

In the 2014 General election there were 71 electorates; 64 general and seven Māori electorates;

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party-and-candidate-lists-for-2014-election

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The Green party had only 57 candidates out of 71 electorates. Notice that even National did not offer candidates in every electorate.

Only Labour fielded a candidate in all 71 electorates.

So as usual, Gower’s political knowledge is disturbingly lacking. Or partisan. Take your pick.

— Farrar

Soon after the Greens announced their accomodation deal, National Party apparatchik, pollster, and right-wing blogger – David Farrar – was predictable in his criticism. Cheering for Patrick Gower, Farrar  wrote;

…Labour and Greens have spent years condemning deals where National stands but tells supporters they only want the party vote, and now they’ve done a deal where they don’t even stand. I don’t have a huge issue with them doing that – the issue is their blatant hypocrisy.

They’re so desperate to be in Government they’ll put up with that, but the irony is that if Winston does hold the balance of power and pick Labour, he’ll insist the Greens are shut out of Government.

Yet, in 2011 and 2014, Farrar had different thoughts on deal-making when it came to electoral accomodations;

This is sensible and not unusual. Off memory most elections there have been some seats where ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote. One of the nice things about MMP is that you can still contest the party vote, without needing to stand in an electorate.

And,

I think Epsom voters will vote tactically, as they did previously. But the choice is up to them. National may say we are only seeking the party vote in an electorate – but they still stand a candidate, giving voters the choice. Epsom voters are not controlled by National. If they don’t want to tactically vote, then they won’t. All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government.

So, according to Farrar, it’s ok  that “ ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote“. He describes it as “one of the nice things about MMP“.

So as long as a deal is presented dishonestly – “All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government” –  then that’s ok?

Both Labour/Greens and National/ACT have presented electoral accomodations – but in different ways.

One was transparent.

The other was doing it with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.

It is unreasonable and hypocritical to support one side to exploit current MMP provisions to their benefit – whilst expecting others to work to a different set of rules. Perhaps Mr Farrar should look at how National/ACT presents their accomodations to the public – or else do away with the coat-tailing provision altogether.

Ōhāriu Green Voters

Following the 2011 General Election, I noted that Green voters had failed to make full use of strategic voting under MMP;

Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.  In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

And again, post-2014;

Some Green supporters are either woefully ignorant of MMP – or have been smoking to much of a certain herb. Or, gods forbid, they are so desperate to remain ideologically pure in their principles, that they are willing to allow a right wing candidate to be elected, rather than supporting a candidate from another party on the Left.

In  Ōhāriu (as well as other electorates) Peter Dunne was returned to office because Green Party supporters cast their electorate votes for Green candidate Tane Woodley, instead of the Labour candidate. Preliminary election results for Ohariu yield the following;

ANDERSEN, Virginia: (Labour)11,349*

DUNNE, Peter: (United Future) 12,279*

WOODLEY, Tane: (Greens) 2,266*

Had supporters of the Green Party given their electorate votes to Viriginia Andersen, Peter Dunne would have been defeated by 1,336* votes.

The Greens need to get it through to their supporter’s  heads that giving their electorate votes to their own candidates is a waste of effort and an indulgence we cannot afford.

When elections are close-fought and majorities slim, such indulgences cannot be tolerated, and the Greens need to educate their supporters quick-smart, if we are to win in 2017.

(*Note: figures above were preliminary and not final results.)

If there was an element of frustration and anger in my comments above, it was a ‘face-palm’ moment.  The  poorest families and individuals in New Zealand have paid the price by enduring two terms of National because Green voters chose to indulge themselves by casting both votes for the Green candidate, rather than strategic vote-splitting.

I can understand affluent, propertied Middle Class voting for self-interest.

I find it less palatable that Green voters cast their ballots for some bizarre feeling of political purity. That is selfishness in another form.

Beneficiaries being attacked by a souless government; people living in cars, garages,  rough, or crammed three families into one home; people suffering as social services are slashed, will find it hard to understand such selfishness.

In the United States, blue-collar workers voted for a populist demagogue. The workers who voted for Trump believed that the Left had abandoned them.

We dare not allow the same despair to flourish in our own country.

If politics is a contest of ideas; a battle of ideology; then strategy counts.

The Greens have woken up to this simple reality.

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References

Radio NZ: Green Party will not stand in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Official Count Results – Ōhāriu

Radio NZ: Winston Peters takes Northland

Radio NZ: Thousands of state houses up for sale

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2015/16

Fairfax media: Samoan family stuck in makeshift, mosquito-ridden tent – ‘through no fault of their own’

Ministry of Social Development: The housing register

Radio NZ: Labour-Greens deny deal over Ohariu seat

NZ Herald: Political Roundup – Embarrassing but strategic deal for the Greens

Electoral Commission: 2012 MMP Review

Electoral Commission: What people said on the MMP Review

Electoral Commission: The Results of the MMP Review

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

NZ Herald: Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

Electoral Commission: Financial Review

NZ Herald:  Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

Radio NZ:  Collins defends not trying for changes to MMP

Fairfax media:  Government’s MMP review response slammed

Scoop media:  Minister’s response to MMP review a travesty –  Lianne  Dalziel

NZ Herald:  Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

TV3 News: Patrick Gower – Labour-Greens do double dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Electoral Commission releases party and candidate lists for 2014 election

Kiwiblog: The double dirty deal in Ohariu

Kiwiblog: Marginal Seat deals

Kiwiblog: National’s potential electoral deals

Additional

Electoral Commission:   2017 General Election

Other Blogs

The Standard:  The coat-tail rule and democracy (2014)

Public Address:  Government votes not to improve MMP (2015)

The Standard:  Greens stand aside in Ōhāriu

Previous related blogposts

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Judith Collins issues decision on MMP Review!

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand

John Banks: condition deteriorating

The secret of National’s success – revealed

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

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2017.

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Hooton and Farrar slag Key – With friends like these…

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The Panama Papers continue to simmer and National’s greatest fear is that the public will link tax-dodging to the current government. (Up-coming political polls will be interesting to see.)  But that is not all that National’s hierarchy has to worry about.

Closer to home, National is facing “Third Termitis” and an increasingly cynical view of  the government and it’s leading figures – even from within.

Some recent ‘digs’ at  Dear Leader John Key by right-wing commentators – ostensibly friendly to National – are either miscalculations, or a subtle hint that respect for Key’s leadership style is waning.

Case in Point #1 – David Farrar

On 2 May, National Party pollster and  apparatchik, David Farrar made a guest appearance on Jim Mora’s afternoon Panel (hosted that afternoon by Jesse Mulligan), on Radio NZ. Along with lawyer Mai Chen, they discussed the issues of the day;

“…foreign Trusts and how much the Prime Minister was involved in our tax laws.”

The issue of what Key’s lawyer – Ken Whitney –  said to then-Revenue Minister, Todd McClay arose amongst the Panelists, and host.

Ken Whitney, the executive director of tax-trust specialist, Antipodes Trust Group, wrote to McClay on December 3, 2014, over concerns Inland Revenue were reviewing the sector;

“We are concerned that there appears to be a sudden change of view by the IRD in respect of their previous support for the industry. I have spoken to the Prime Minister about this and he advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime.

The PM asked me to contact you to arrange a meeting at your convenience with a small group of industry leaders who are keen to engage to explain how the regime works and the benefits to NZ of an industry which has been painstakingly built up over the last 25 years or so.”

Key refuted that he had “advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime“;

“One of the members of the tax, that group, the foreign trusts, asked me about it. I said I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about, I don’t think that’s right that there are changes, but go and take it up with the minister.

Subsequently there’s miles of paperwork that shows all the stuff he did, I had no other involvement other than that – it happens every day to me, people come up to me all the time and say ‘what about x or what about y?’ and I say take it up with the relevant minister.”

Bear in mind when this conversation took place: December 2014.

Key is clear in his recollection of the conversations he had with his then-lawyer, Ken Whitney, and then-Revenue Minister, Todd McClay;

Mr Key was insistent he made clear to McClay the connection between himself and Mr Whitney, when he alerted his minister to the approach from his lawyer about the trust rules regime.

“I’ve seen his comments, what he basically said was he couldn’t absolutely recall but it was two years ago but I absolutely told him – 100 percent.  It’s a few years with an oral conversation that lasted a few seconds but I definitely told him.”

Which is intriguing, as Key has a somewhat dubious reputation for having a shockingly bad memory of events that are uncomfortable for him to recall and discuss. Especially when journalists are present.

A particularly extraordinary example of Key’s inability to retain recollection of events took place in November 2014, when Key “forgot” a txt-conversation he had had with right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater;

“He sent me a text one time, but I can’t remember when that was.”

In fact, the txt-conversation with Slater took place only eighteen hours previously. Which resulted in headlines like this one;

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John Key 'genuinely couldn't recall' text messages - mediaworks - Cameron Slater

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When the issue of John Key’s memory and reputation for lapses arose, Farrar made this revelation;

@10.06

“Oh I’m not sure I quite accept the assertion there. I found in my experience the Prime Minister has a remarkable good memory on things. There was – I had a conversation with him the other day on something, where he referred to ‘Oh I think there was something in January, um, 2007’, and he was right. It took me half an hour to look it up, but he remembered this thing, from what was it, nine years ago. So I think actually he generally has a very good memory, just not a perfect one.”

Farrar’s willingness to share this aspect of  John Key’s mental state is reassuring. It means our esteemed Dear Leader is not suffering on-set Alzheimers  Disease or any similar brain-debilitating condition, when he insists he cannot re-call an inconvenient event.

It just means Key is lying.

Thank you, David Farrar, for clearing that up.

Case in Point #2 – Matthew Hooton

The next person to offer a singularly unflattering insight into Key’s personality was right-wing commentator and a member of the neo-liberal cadré, Matthew Hooton.

Hooton has a regular 11am appearance on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon show, where he offers his views from a right-wing, free-market perspective. He speaks frankly on a variety of issues-of-the-day and can be as highly critical of National; it’s policies; and leadership, as he is on the Left.

Hooton’s own investigation into  Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi farm-in-the-desert deal should be required-reading for all New Zealanders, regardless of their political persuasions. As political scientist, Bryce Edwards wrote in May last year;

Perhaps the strongest views are from Matthew Hooton, who has two columns in the National Business Review (which have just had their paywalls removed). The first column, Gulf games fail to deliver, gives the background to the fallout between the New Zealand Government and Saudi Arabia, with Hooton largely blaming John Key. According to Hooton’s story, the Saudi businessman was led to believe that the incoming National Government of 2008 would resume live sheep exports.

Once in power, however, Hooton says that Key changed his mind on hearing that TVNZ would broadcast “a programme critical of live sheep exporting. In a panic, and fearing further criticism from the Green Party’s Sue Kedgley, Mr Carter was ordered by Mr Key’s media staff to go on TV and rule out any resumption of the trade, ever. This was later confirmed to the Saudis as New Zealand’s new position and negotiations ceased. Furious, Mr Al-Khalaf used his influence with the Saudi royal family to ensure the FTA was put on ice”.

Hooton’s second must-read column, Flying sheep endanger McCully, turns the focus to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, suggesting that his subsequent handling of the mess could lead to his sacking. Hooton suggests the whole deal is “implausible” in terms of the bizarre farming arrangements and partnership that the Government has established.

He doubts that the promised innovative “agrihub” will actually eventuate and “If not, people might start comparing Mr McCully’s dealings with Mr Al-Khalaf with those with Mr Roberts 15 years ago. For which Mrs Shipley sacked him”. Hooton says “Key’s nervous ‘yup,’ when asked if he had confidence in his foreign minister, betrayed concern over where the story may head”.

On 9 May, filling his regular slot on Nine to Noon’s political panel, Hooton voiced his views on the Panama Papers and how – in his view – our Esteemed Dear Leader was handling the growing scandal.

As Hooton discussed cleaning up the trust sector in New Zealand,

“That is despite his government’s obvious negligence in not legislating for greater transparency around the trust industry years ago, when reputable trust lawyers themselves were lobbying for it.”

– one particular remark caught my attention,

@ 2.19

“… From talking to the people in the industry, is that some of the people I’ve been talking to, who’ve been using other consultants up till now I should say, they’ve been trying to lobby John Key on this issue since when he was Leader of the Opposition. And they’ve been wanting him to make the industry more transparent. And Robin Oliver [former head of IRD] was on Morning Report this morning and talked about this. And the people that I’m talking to anyway, they tell me that John Key’s consistently said to them, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely, totally agree, we must sort that out, yep, yep, the government will do that’.

But absolutely nothing has happened. And I don’t think that’s necessarily – there’s nothing corrupt about that. It’s how John Key rolls. It’s a refrain I hear from people in the business community, the education sector, the health sector, you name it, John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear, and there doesn’t seems to be any follow up.”

“John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear…”  – a very brief, off-the-cuff remark – but one which goes some way to perhaps explaining Key’s popularity with the public. Even those who might stand to be disadvantaged by his policies.

An example of occurred in 2008, during the PSA Conference, when Key made a firm committment resiling National from any future asset sales;

“There’s no agenda to sell assets. There will be no asset sales in the first term – in fact there may never be asset sales in the year’s ahead.”

His speech can be viewed here.

In the same video clip, Key also resiled from weakening Union power;

“Yes, I support Unions, and I support New Zealanders’ rights to join unions. And no, we’re not proposing to change the Employment Relations Act in a way that weakens unions…”

Seven years later, amendments to the Employment Relations Act were pushed through Parliament. The amendments weakened Union power;

National has highlighted employment law changes as one of its key priorities in the first 100 days in Government. Proposed changes will affect collective agreements, the 90-day trial period, strike action and rest and meal break provisions.

[…]

The changes will give employers more power during the bargaining process.

As Hooton pointed out, “John Key always just sez to people what he thinks they want to hear…” – and Key was speaking to the 2008 PSA Conference.  Union delegates were told precisely what they wanted to hear.

Coupled with Farrar’s comments about Key’s “very good memory” (and by a process of elimination, therefore a liar) – and we have two right-wingers close to our esteemed Dear Leader  who have shared their personal observations with “how John Key rolls“.

However, the public may not be as gullible to Key’s duplicitous charms as many would think.

In October 2009, Key’s popularity rating (3News/Reid Research Poll) was at a staggering height of  55.8%.

By July 2015, his popularity rating had fallen to 38.3%.

Whether consciously or sub-consciously, perhaps the public are coming to the same realisation that Farrar and Hooton are at; our Prime Minister is a con-artist.

And a damned good one.

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References

Radio NZ: The Panel with Jim Mora – 2 May 2016

NZ Herald: The Antipodes email – John Key, his lawyer and foreign trusts

Radio NZ: PM’s private lawyer lobbied government on foreign trusts

Radio NZ: I told McClay about lawyer, says Key

Fairfax media: How is John Key going to spin this one?

TV3 News: John Key ‘genuinely couldn’t recall’ text messages

Radio NZ: The Panel with Mai Chen and David Farrar – Part 1 (alt. link) (audio)

NZ Herald: Political roundup – The bizarre ‘bribery’ and flying sheep scandal

Radio NZ: Key ends week deeply satisfied

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton (alt. link) (audio)

TV3 News: Labour: Key promised no job cuts, asset sales in 2008 speech

TV3 News: Highlights from Key’s 2008 ‘no job cuts’ speech (video)

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

Radio NZ: National’s proposed labour laws

Other bloggers

The Paepae: John Key is getting a reputation as a liar

Previous related blogposts

The slow dismantling of a Prime Minister continues

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 16: The sale of Kiwibank eight years in the planning?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 May 2016.

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Judith Collins – the Gift that keeps Giving to the Opposition?

30 November 2014 3 comments

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From a news report;

Ms Collins resigned before the election after being accused of working with the Whale Oil blog after emails were released suggesting she was “gunning” for former director of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, when she was the minister in charge of the SFO.

A report by former High Court judge Lester Chisholm into her actions will be released this week, with some media reporting that it is expected to clear her name.

After the Old Boys’ Network swarmed around now-disgraced CERA boss, and sexual-harrasser, Roger Sutton, with support and to downplay the seriousness of his behaviour – this blogger predicts the following outcome of the investigation into Judith Collins.

  • She will be fully exonerated.
  • The Prime Minister will say he had faith in her all along. (He has already intimated this, “If Judith is cleared that’s great – that would be my expectation“.)
  • Bundles of flowers will be sent to her office (note to florists in Parliamentary precinct: stock up).
  • Cameron Slater will claim full vindication and become even more obnoxious and unpredictable in his behaviour (if that were at all possible).
  • Critics of this increasingly authoritarian government will think twice before speaking out.
  • Collins will be restored as a Minister within twelve months, more vengeful,  and more dangerous than ever.
  • This government will become more emboldened than ever to pursue vindictive retribution against critics.

The report from Chisholm will most likely be a total whitewash.

No one should expect accountability from this government. They will see “accountability” as  weakness, and a third-term government cannot afford to show any hint of weakness.

After all, New Zealanders love ‘strong’ governments. Even Muldoon’s increasingly erratic administration might not have been voted out had it not been for Bob Jones’ NZ Party, which split the right-wing vote in 1984. The under-current from a significant portion of the population that holds irrational, conservative views should never be under-estimated.

It will be a mistake for Key to restore Collins as a Minister. But the pressure from her National party cronies will become irresistible, and Key will have no choice but to eventually yield.

It will not be a decision that comes easily to our esteemed PM. Key is fully aware that Collins’ arrogance – like a certain ex-MP with a don’t-you-know-who-I-am‘ attitude – inevitably draws trouble to herself. The Oravida-China fiasco, where Collins used a tax-payer funded trip to promote her husband’s milk company in Beijing, made unwelcome headlines for the National Party for weeks.

Collins escaped that scandal only by the skin of her teeth, when the Opposition and Media onslaught ran out of steam.

Next up, Collins’ bizarre personal attack on one of the media’s most inoffensive Parliamentary journalists, Katie Bradford, where the Minister made outrageous allegations of impropriety.

Collins eventually had to retract and apologise –  no doubt after an increasingly irritated PM put the hard word on his errant Minister.

Not content to keep her head down, Collins pursued a  secret political relationship with far-right blogger and convicted criminal, Cameron Slater, which, when uncovered in Nicky Hager’s expose, ‘Dirty Politics‘,  was the straw that finally broke the ministerial camel’s back. On 30 August she ‘resigned’ her portfolios.

This scandal could easily have triggered an early election had she held fast and refused to step down. History might have been different had Key gone to polls three weeks before the Nats were ready, and under  Collins-inspired storm-clouds.

A TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, released the day before Collins stood down, gave an unequivocal result to the simple question:  should Collins resign?  61% of respondents said yes; 26%  said no, and 13% had no opinion. (That 26% corresponds roughly to National’s core tribal-electoral support, as demonstrated at the 2002 general election.)

A day later, she obliged.

Five days after her ‘resignation’, a Fairfax media-Ipsos poll reported a massive 3.4% jump for National. No doubt National-aligned pollster, David Farrar, had already known that National would re-bound with Collins gone. His own internal polling would have shown this.

But here comes the ‘kicker’. On 5 September, on the same day as the Fairfax-Ipsos poll was made public,  a NZ Herald-DigiPoll, showed another conclusive result for the National Party. The majority stated categorically that they had had enough of the increasingly troublesome,  ‘accident’-prone, Member for Papakura.

Asked if Key should give Collins any Ministerial role in a third term National government, 51.6% responded with  “give her no ministerial role”. (25.5% responded with  giving her a less senior role than she had; and only 12.6% agreed she “should keep the Justice portfolio or a similarly senior role”.)

Those results clearly illustrate the divisive nature of Judith Collins if she is in a position of authority.

Key would do well to remember these facts, even when/if the Chisholm Inquiry exonerates her.

On the other hand, a revitalised Parliamentary Labour Opposition probably relishes the prospect of a politically “rehabilitated” Collins appointed to a Ministerial role once again.

One can only imagine what new cluster-f**k is awaiting in the wings with this woman.

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References

NZ News: Collins report may clear way for return

NZ Herald:  Rennie made ‘miscalculation’ in allowing Sutton press conference – PM

Dominion Post: No Cabinet return for Judith Collins

TV3 News: ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: I’m the victim of a smear campaign: Judith Collins resigns

TVNZ: Collins says sorry to TVNZ reporter after allegation

TVNZ: Voters want Judith Collins to stand down, poll reveals

Wikipedia: 2002 General Election

Fairfax media: National soars without Collins – poll

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: Judith Collins

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Judith Collins – Hypocrite of the Week

Are Cameron Slater and Judith Collins bare-faced liars?

Additional related blogpost

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


 

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Collins feeding her trained attack mutt cameron slater

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 November 2014, at around 8am.

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So who’s a “conspiracy theorist” now?!

24 August 2014 4 comments

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TinFoilHatArea

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As the media storm over Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“,  and allegations over smear campaigns continue to swirl,  National’s spin doctors have given Key, Collins, and other National Party ministers a string of  phrases to use in all media interviews. The phrases are,

  • “Conspiracy theorist”
  • “Nicky Hager’s unproven allegations”
  • “Nicky Hager’s assumptions”
  • “Nicky Hager made them up”
  • “Nicky Hager can’t back  up his claims”
  • “Nicky Hager’s claims dissolving before his/our eyes”
  • “nothing to do with us”
  • “nothing to do with me”
  • “I don’t have details on that”
  • “I don’t know the details”
  • “I don’t know the context of all that”
  • “this is a smear campaign”
  • “briefing bloggers” (instead of leaking information)
  • “Slater is a force unto himself”
  • “Slater is a force of nature”
  • “Labour does that too”

When confronted with specific allegations, as with Guyon Espiner interviewing Key on ‘Morning Report’ (18 August), Key simply refused to engage and veered of on a side-issue or responded with , “I don’t have details on that”.

At no stage does Key or his ministers take responsibility. For anything. If anything is “dissolving”, it is Key’s much vaunted reputation for “transparency” and “high ministerial standards“.

Key and Collins have been instructed by their taxpayer-funded media minders  not to respond to specific issues raised by Nicky Hager, and instead keep the discussion generalised and vague. At that point, Key and Collins can respond with a general statement of “Nicky Hager’s unproven allegations“.

Recently, some in National have tried a new tactic – painting themselves as the “victims” of so-called “dirty tricks”. The new strategy  began on 15 August, with National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, making this extraordinary claim on his own blog;

I’ve either been hacked or spied on

August 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

I started reading more fully the book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.

Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.

I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.

I consider this outrageous, just as I hope people would if someone from the right infiltrated the offices of the Labour Party pollsters, to steal their material.

There is no public interest defence to the stealing of the material belonging to my clients. There was nothing sinister or inappropriate in it.  In fact one of the scripts detailed in the book is of some questions we did for Family First, who published the results on their website, including the full questions. But I know Hager has a copy of the script as he has quoted the question numbers, which are not included in the published results.

I do not accept that because I am a blogger, and my company has National as a client, it makes it all right for me to be hacked or spied on, and material stolen from me.

More…

This neat bit of propaganda aimed for two objectives

  1. It tried to deflect attention from Nicky Hager’s allegations of National’s abuse of ministerial power,
  2. It tried to show that “everyone is doing it, so no big deal” – a line that Key has repeated on several occassions.

A day later, interviewed on TV3, Cameron Slater told the world he had been the subject of death threats and  the victim of a hate campaign himself;

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Cameron Slater -  Death threats over 'Dirty Politics' - TV3 - Nicky Hager - Whaleoil - Jason Ede - John Jey

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“‘Cos I’ve got a torrent of death threats as a result of Mr Hager’s book…”

I’ve covered Slater’s claims in a previous blogpost, and raise questions about the truthfulness of those so-called “death-threats”.

A day later, on 17 August, Farrar repeated his belief that someone was spying on him;

But if you were tape recording my phone when I worked out that someone had planted a spy into my office (and one that appears to still have been there maybe just three weeks ago), then you would have heard me swearing and promising bloody retribution.

On the same day, the Herald ran a series of stories – all with one central theme, that National ministers, MPs, and even Slater were the “victims” of some secret conspiracy;

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kim dotcom hits back at cameron slater's claims

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom has denied another accusation by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater that he was responsible for hacking Slater’s blog website earlier this year.

“We all know by now that I had my emails hacked in February,” Slater posted this afternoon.

“We also know that David Farrar has had his intellectual property stolen, and that Mark Mitchell had his personal emails hacked and his office broken into.

“What I can also now reveal is that Tony Lentino, the businessman who formerly financially supported Kim Dotcom also had his office broken into.

“On top of that Travis who works for the blog was also hacked along with another media person who has been a vocal critic of Kim Dotcom.

“Until now we haven’t had the proof, only a bunch of dots to join but we now have the complete picture.”

More…

 .Judith Collins' husband targeted in burglary

The cabinet was held his laptop which had not been taken. Amounts of cash on left by staff on desks around the office had not been taken either.

“It seemed a very odd thing at the time and I presume that someone may have been interested in the information that was on that laptop” Ms Collins said.

More…

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MP burgled and hacked

In response to Herald on Sunday inquiries, Mitchell confirmed:

• His parliamentary office in Wellington was broken into on September 16 last year. Police investigated and swept the office for bugs but none was found.

• His Rodney constituency office in Orewa was broken into in early October and a laptop and two phones were taken. Police investigated but no arrests have been made.

• His personal email was hacked.

More…

Now, call me a sceptic, and perish the thought that politicians are even remotely capable of lying… but… yeaaaah, nah.

All of this is just way to convenient to be happening now.  Let’s cut to the chase and call it what it is; this is tin-foil hat stuff. In effect, the Nats are suggesting that a Vast Left-wing Conspiracy (VLC) of operatives trained in break-ins; bugging; tapping; etc, are conducting a covert programme of intel-gathering against National.

Am I right?

And Labour, no doubt is part of this VLC?

The same Labour whose IT experts left gaping security holes in their party computer, allowing Aaron Bhatnagar, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, and the local Young National Komsomol Brigade to go wandering through, collecting data on donors, credit cards, email addresses, etc, etc, etc?!

Is that the same Labour party?

Well, I have a few questions myself…

  1. Judith Collins  claims that her husband’s office was burgled and his laptop “accessed”, but not stolen. Was a complaint laid with the Police? What is the Police Case Number? And what was the result?
  2. Rodney MP claims his email hacked. Where is the evidence for this and why has the GCSB not been able to determine the culprits? Considering the hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money spent on the Bureau with all their considerable hardware and trained staff – they can’t locate the culprits?
  3. Mark Mitchell also claims that his  parliamentary office in Wellington was broken into on September 16 last year. Mitchell further states  that  Police investigated and “swept the office for bugs but none were found”. September 16 last year was a Monday – Parliamentary staff would have been present, and no one saw anything out of the ordinary?

More important though is that access to Parliament and it’s inner offices is strictly controlled.

First, a visitor has to proceed through security at all main doors, where everyone is screened via metal-detectors.

Then you sign-in.

Access to offices is permitted via swipe-cards, and is monitored by Parliamentary Services – as Fairfax media journalist Andrea Vance found out the hard way, last year;

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Spy scandal journalist speaks out

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If Mitchell’s office was “broken into”, the culprit(s) had to make their way past security; through metal detectors; past National Party staffers;  through coridor and office doors. and past his secretary – all  controlled by swipe cards.

I don’t think so.

It all seems  too… convenient.

Ironically, our esteemed Dear Leader – who has “never been caught out bending the truth or outright lying” – is accusing investigative journalist Nicky Hager of  being a “conspiracy theorist”.

The only conspiracy theorising appears to be emanating from National’s inner hierarchy.

There is simply no Vast Left-wing Conspiracy. (If there is, I have yet to receive my invitation.)

Postscript

MP Mark Mitchell is a client of National Party apparatchik, Simon Lusk – one of central characters in the Cameron Slater-David Farrar-Jordan Williams cabal outlined by Nicky Hager.

The MPs to whom Mr Lusk has been a campaign adviser in the past include Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and former list MP Aaron Gilmore.

And of course we know the close relationship between Judith Collins and Cameron Slater.

Mark Mitchell. Judith Collins. Simon Lusk… and Cameron Slater.

There were no break ins.

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References

Radio NZ:  Listen to the full interview with John Key on Morning report ( 11 min 3 sec )

Beehive.govt.nz: Speech to the New Zealand China Partnership Forum

John Key.co.nz: Prime Minister accepts Minister’s resignation

Kiwiblog: I’ve either been hacked or spied on

Kiwiblog: People sometimes say jerky things in e-mails

NZ Herald: Kim Dotcom hits back at Slater’s claims

NZ Herald: Judith Collins’ husband targeted in burglary

NZ Herald: MP burgled and hacked

Fairfax media: Spy scandal journalist speaks out

Hawkes Bay Today: Concern about Hawke’s Bay mans influence in Nats

Previous related blogposts

Death threats made to rightwing blogger?

Other Blogs

Public Address: Confidential information: the legal rights and wrongs

Public Address: Dirty Politics

Polity: National and Labour’s membership data

Gordon Campbell on Nicky Hager’s new book

Bowalley Road: Closing Our Eyes In The Sausage Factory: Some Thoughts On Nicky Hager’s Book, “Dirty Politics”

The Standard: Rob Gilchrist On Nicky Hager

The Standard: Was a crime committed when Slater accessed Labour’s computer system?

The Daily Blog: Hager’s Dirty Politics – Death threats or hit jobs?

Kiwipolitico: Ducking for Cover

Pundit: Dirty Politics: The battle of the metaphors

Pundit: The politics of vilification

Pundit: A crazy day in dirty ol’ NZ politics

Imperator Fish: Cameron Slater is the real victim

Porcupine Farm: Why My Next Printer Will Be An Epson

Porcupine Farm: #TEAMKEY2

The Jackal: Death threats and Dirty Politics

The Jackal: Nicky Hager – Hero of the Week

The Jackal: National’s death by association

Recommended reading

The Jackal: The real nasty bloggers


 

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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 20 August 2014

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

21 August 2014 5 comments

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David Farrar - Tory twat

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Further to National Party  blogger, pollster, and political apparatchik making this  public post on Facebook;

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David Farrar - facebook - dirty politics - 14 august 2014

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To quote in cut-and-pastable text;

“For reasons I’ll make clear tomorrow, but should not be hard to guess, I need to do a security check of my home and office. I need to check for bugs, implanted software and the like.

Does anyone know of a good but reasonably priced firm that can both check for physical bugs, but also check laptops, computers, phones etc for any electronic nasties?

I’m rather sad and angry that I have to do this, but it seems it is necessary.” – David Farrar, Facebook, 14 August 2014

True to his word, Farrar today (15 August) made a post on Kiwiblog ourlining his “fears/suspicions” that his computer/home/workplace/etc has been bugged or documents stolen.

He writes,

“I started reading more fully the book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.”

He then goes on with a paranoid spiel that would invoke full approval from the tin-foil-hat wearing community;

“Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.”

 

With “100+ staff working” for Farrar, he seems oblivious to the obvious suggestion;

“I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.”

Oh, of course no one out of “100+” young people would possibly be politically motivated to leak anything.

Oh, of course this is not a small country where we are only two degrees removed from everyone else.

Farrar then indulged in a bit of “poor me” lamentation/wailing/gnashing of teeth;

“My gut reaction last night was to give up politics, if it means that I am going to have to worry about spies infiltrating my company, my communications being hacked, people recording private conversations with me. I regard my family, friends and loved ones as far more important to me, than my involvement in politics. But I’m not going to do that in haste.”

No, Mr Farrar, please don’t give up politics. Aside from being one of the saner (*cough*) voices from the Right, you amuse us.

However – and here’s the ‘rub’ – when Farrar claims that his physical addresses have been broken into;

“Instead with huge regret I’m going to have to stop being so trusting. I’m going to have to pay what will be possibly a fair bit of money to check my apartment, my office and my computer systems for anything that shouldn’t be there. While my assumption is that the scripts came from someone who had physical access to my office, I can’t be sure.”

– I am reminded of this blogpost he made on 8 March 2012, which I re-post verbatim and in full’

Your home spycam

March 8th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Got sent a copy of some software which turns your webcam into a home security camera. The designer is actually a Kiwiblog reader.

The software is Spycam-Watcher. It works with around 50 different brands of webcams, including the built in one on my Sony Vaio. It would take up a lot of space to be recording all the time, but you can use motion detection, have it send you an e-mail with a frame shot, and can even have a virtual tripwire where for example you aim your computer camera at your driveway, draw a “tripwire” line across the image on your screen, and it will alert you when any vehicle crosses the line and start recording.

It costs only US$30, but for just an additional $5 you can get a remote interface from your iPad or iPhone. Yes, you can view your home camera from anywhere in the world if the motion detector is set off. you can turn it on and off, and can view video already made. It’s simple as pie to use also.

I think it a seriously good system, Kiwi made, and really affordable. As someone who travels a lot I’ll be having it installed on one of my old laptops, so it can monitor my door.

All it really needs is the extra option of firing a taser at intruders.

Now aside from the illegal nature of using weapons against human beings, Farrar himself tells us that “ I’ll be having it installed on one of my old laptops, so it can monitor my door“.

In which case, how could anyone have entered his home or office?

And if Farrar is as knowledgeable about security as he makes out, where is his security for his devices?

Has he asked any of his “100+” staff? Or has he – by the sounds of it – smeared all one hundred of them with this very public allegation of insider theft/hacking?

Not exactly good employer-staff relations, one would think?

More likely, David Farrar’s claims are based on nothing and this is a pitiful attempt at generating a counter-story to the sensational headlines driven by Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“.

In which case, he is exploiting his “100+” staff for political purposes.

Will the media pick up on it?

I doubt it.

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References

Kiwiblog: I’ve either been hacked or spied on

Kiwiblog: Your home spycam

Previous related blogposts

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar


 

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farrar key slater will pose for cash

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 August 2014

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When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

19 August 2014 2 comments

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David Farrar - Tory twat

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As the sh*t storm over Nickey Hager’s book,  Dirty Politics engulfs the National Party; Key’s teflon coating is being scoured away by the nova-like searing heat of public glare; Cameron Slater is shown to have been the weapon-of-choice for the government’s dirty tricks campaigns; Judith Collins is embroiled (again) is claims of mis-using her ministerial position; SIS information was leaked to Slater; etc, we have David Farrar – blogger for the National Party – now making this incredible (and somewhat incredibly stupid) public post on Facebook;

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David Farrar - facebook - dirty politics - 14 august 2014

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To quote in cut-and-pastable text;

“For reasons I’ll make clear tomorrow, but should not be hard to guess, I need to do a security check of my home and office. I need to check for bugs, implanted software and the like.

Does anyone know of a good but reasonably priced firm that can both check for physical bugs, but also check laptops, computers, phones etc for any electronic nasties?

I’m rather sad and angry that I have to do this, but it seems it is necessary.” – David Farrar, Facebook, 14 August 2014

W.T.F?!?!

Farrar hasn’t spelt it out, but I’m guessing that he’s not pointing the finger at the GCSB/SIS/Police/NSA for needing to do a “security check of [his] home and office” and needing “to check for bugs, implanted software and the like”?

I’m also  guessing that he’s making a snide reference to alleging that Nicky Hager or an accomplice has bugged his home?

And I’m also guessing that Farrar, the National Party’s blogger-of-second-choice,  is hoping that the media will pick up on this – an extremely clumsy attempt at deflection – by running a counter story/smear against Hager.

Pathetic, Mr Farrar, absolutely pathetic. Also throw in desperation mixed with a bit of juvenile dramatics.

Is this your best  defense after being found out?

Anyway, Farrar is a fine one to be complaining bitterly about being “bugged” (even if we were to take him even minutely seriously). After all, Farrar  supported the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill which, which finally  passed on 21 August 2013, against massive public opposition;

“These are good changes. I had talked on TV about one area of concern being the proposed ability for the Govt to add other agencies onto the list of agencies the GCSB can assist with interceptions. Having Parliament, not the Government, make any changes is desirable.

Despite these significant changes, Labour appears to still be voting with the Greens against the bill. Ironic as it was a Labour Government that caused this problem with their 2003 law change.

Dunne and Banks have shown how you can have a constructive role in improving legislation.” – Kiwiblog, 24 July 2013

Or this;

“What I think is important is that the GCSB can’t just help the SIS with any old request. That their assistance is limited to cases where the SIS has gained a warrant due to security concerns. Let’s look at the SIS Act for the criteria. That:

the interception or seizure or electronic tracking to be authorised by the proposed warrant is necessary for the detection of activities prejudicial to security

And what does security mean:

  • the protection of New Zealand from acts of espionage, sabotage, and subversion, whether or not they are directed from or intended to be committed within New Zealand:
  • (b)the identification of foreign capabilities, intentions, or activities within or relating to New Zealand that impact on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being:
  • (c)the protection of New Zealand from activities within or relating to New Zealand that—
    • (i)are influenced by any foreign organisation or any foreign person; and
    • (ii)are clandestine or deceptive, or threaten the safety of any person; and
    • (iii)impact adversely on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being:
  • (d)the prevention of any terrorist act and of any activity relating to the carrying out or facilitating of any terrorist act

So it is important to recall that the 88 cases cited in the Kitteridge report, all had warrants authorised under the SIS Act because they met one or more of the criteria above. The issue is not that they should not have legally had their communications intercepted – but whether the right agency did the interception.

If you do not amend the law, then there will be no reduction in the number of NZers who have interception warrants issued against them. The only difference is the SIS will do the interception directly, rather than use the GCSB.” –Kiwiblog, 15 April 2013

And this,

Yet Labour and Greens are opposed to the GCSB doing what it did under Helen Clark – assist the dSIS. The problem is the law passed by Clark does not make it clear if the clause saying it will not monitor NZers over-rides the clause saying it can assist other agencies such as the SIS.

She rejected that the Government Security Communications Bureau routinely spied on New Zealanders as that was “not part of their remit”.

And still will not be, despite the hysteria. In fact the bill will provide greater transparency than in the past over what work the GCSB does do.” – Kiwiblog, 4 August, 2013

Plus this bit,

What is being proposed is that the can continue to do the actual interception on their behalf as they have the expertise. If the bill fails, it won’t mean a single less domestic interception. It will just mean interception infrastructure will be duplicated and exist in multiple agencies, rather than one.” – Kiwiblog, 25 June 2013

And,

The Inspector-General has said that basically on balance of probabilities he does not believe their actions have been  outside the law – but again, that it is not absolutely clear.

A recent review of compliance at the GCSB by Rebecca Kitteridge found difficulties of interpretation in the GCSB Act. Following the Prime Minister receiving that report, cases involving 88 New Zealanders were referred to the Inspector-General. All were cases where the GCSB had been asked to help another agency.

Mr Fletcher says the Inspector-General found that all of the cases were based on serious issues including potential weapons of mass destruction development, people smuggling, foreign espionage in New Zealand and drug smuggling.

Nothing to worry about then!

  • 15 cases involving 22 individuals did not have any information intercepted by GCSB. 
  • another four cases involving five individuals were the subjects of a New Zealand Security Intelligence Service warrant and the GCSB assisted in the execution of the warrants. The Inspector-General is of the view that there were arguably no breaches and the law is unclear.
  • the Bureau only provided technical assistance which did not involve interception of communications, involving three of the individuals, so no breach occurred.
  • the remaining cases involved the collection of metadata, and the Inspector-General formed the view that there had arguably been no breach, noting once again that the law is unclear.

It is worth noting that this is over around a 10 – 12 year period, so we are not talking a huge amount of activity.

Mr Fletcher says the Inspector-General is of the view that the interpretation of “communication of a person” is one of the issues where there are uncertainties in the interpretation of the GCSB Act, when it comes to metadata.

An example of metadata is the information on a telephone bill such as the time and duration of a phone call, but not the content of the conversation or identification of the people using the phone.

Now it is not good enough that interceptions happened when there was uncertainty over the law. The operations of the spy agencies must be beyond doubt legally. Hence the major changes being made to GCSB to ensure no repeat. But it is worth putting this into context, especially compared to the current scandals in the US with Associated Press and Fox news journalists having their communications intercepted to try and find out their sources on security issues.” –Kiwiblog, 21 may 2013

So after cheerleading National’s law-change to allow the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders, Farrar is now bitching that someone *might have* spied on him?!

Not for the first time, I remind certain right-wing politicians and apparatchiks that Karma is an implacable goddess, and not to be trifled with.

But if this is a cunning plan to deflect attention away from this crisis, that Farrar is trying to dangle in front of the media – well, it’s a damn, piss-poor amateurish attempt.

Farrar and his Tory mates need to understand one simple thing; this is a small country. Like Cunliffe and his ill-conceived plan for a Trust fund during his Party  leadership campaign, secrets do not stay secrets for long.

If there is  one thing that the media loves in this heightened commercial, competitive,  ratings/advertisement-driven environment: it’s a sensational headline.

The National Party dirty-tricks team have generated many of those headlines.  Now it’s their turn.

The only ‘bug’ that Farrar needs to concerned about is a slater.

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References

Scoop media: Nicky Hager book launched today

Facebook: David Farrar

Kiwiblog:  GCSB Changes

Kiwiblog:  Labour and GCSB

Kiwiblog:  Clark on GCSB

Kiwiblog:  What if the GCSB bill doesn’t pass?

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

Those who love Big Brother

When Karma caught up with Cameron Slater

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Twitter Judith Collins John Key Oravida

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 August 2014

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When Karma caught up with Cameron Slater

18 August 2014 12 comments

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Cameron Slater

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1. “Conspiracy Theories”

Psychopath, bully, faux-Christian, convicted criminal,  Right wing blogger, and germ-masquerading-as-a-human-being, Cameron Slater has finally had his arse nailed to the wall by veteran investigate journalist*,  Nicky Hager.

Slater’s response, on Newstalk ZB was a pitiful attempt at deflection;

WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater has already responded to the book, and appears to recommend reading it.

Cameron Slater says he hasn’t got a copy yet, but it’s likely to a be very one-sided affair.

He says it’s a direct attack on the government to hurt it at election time, and appears to avoid what happens on the left side of the spectrum.

Slater’s memory is getting worse as he breathes in the methane fumes from the shit he continually wallows in.

Hager has also written an expose on Helen Clark’s government, “Seeds of Distrust“, which nearly destroyed Labour’s chances of re-election in the 2002 general election. Environment Minister,  Marion Hobbs, from the left-wing Labour government of the time said of Nicky Hager;

“Nick Hager’s conspiracy theories do not match the facts.”

And John Key today (13 August) said of Nicky Hager;

“Most people know that Nicky Hager is a screaming left-wing conspiracy theorist,”

No, he’s not a “conspiracy theorist”. He’s an impartial investigative journalist. Something we have precious little of remaining in nthis country anymore.

So Cam; if that’s your best come-back – tragic fail.

2. Karma

However, my memory is a tad better.

I remember an event in January 2014, regarding the death of a passenger in a car, in Greymouth, West Coast. At the time, Slater reached rock-bottom with his vileness, writing “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour“.

The grieving parents of the man killed in the accident were appalled by Slater’s gutless attack on their late son, Judd Hall.

As Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said at the time,

This young lad has a mother and father who are going through a great deal of hurt at the moment. It’s compassion and support they need at the moment, not condemnation from the likes of Slater.

They (the parents) are people that Slater has never met, does not know, so for him to describe their offspring as feral is the lowest of the low and an utter disgrace.”

I also remember writing this piece on my own blog,  on 29 January, in response to Slater’s grubby rubbish;

He obviously still does not understand that if you attack, denigrate, and abuse people – that eventually he will strike someone who will hit back. Hard.

Karma is not a mystical thing. It is humans getting pissed off.”

It seems that seven months later, my prediction has come true;

3. “Crusher” Collins

This précis from the book, from a TV3 report,  is noteworthy;

Justice Minister Judith Collins was another of Slater’s informants and emailed him an account of Labour’s Trevor Mallard making a fool of himself – “You can use this if you like but just don’t say it was me”

Well, well, well. That answers this question then,

Judith Collins on offensive over Radio NZ comments

But relate to the leaking to media of ACC complainant Bronwyn Pullar’s identity along with an email from her support person, former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Ms Boag sent the email onto Judith Collins and a staffer, who forwarded it to ACC chairman John Judge and chief executive Ralph Stewart.

All deny being the leak, but somehow it got out.

“I’ve been very clear all along,” says Ms Collins. “I am 100 percent certain there was no leak from me or my office.”

Probe into email leak welcome, says Collins

Confirmation that Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff will investigate the email’s trail from Ms Boag to an eventual report in the Herald on Sunday came as Labour claimed Ms Collins, National Party operative Simon Lusk and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater all played a part in the leak.

So now we have the clearest evidence yet, of who leaked Michelle Boag’s email, relating to ACC claimant, Bronwyn Pullar, to Cameron Slater.

Leaker, I name thee: Judith “Crusher” Collins.

4. Conclusions

1.

This is a small country.

Secrets are fleeting.

2.

Key’s $55 million backside has just been  given a swift kick. His “credibility” will have taken a severe beating after this.

3.

If the National Party politburo have a shred of common sense and functioning neuronal-activity left between them, using Slater as a conduit for dirty tricks will cease. The game, you Tory Twats, is up.

4.

A major source of “easy news” for the mainstream media has just dried up. From now on, journos will actually have to do their own work.

5.

If information was sourced from the SIS, and Labour wins this election (chance now increased), expect a major shake-up of both security agencies and resignations. Heads will roll like bowling balls.

6.

I love karma.

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(*a real journalist – not the faeces-shovelling variety found at “Whaleoil”)

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References

Fairfax media:  Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater guilty

NewstalkZB: Nicky Hager’s book attacks National’s links with bloggers

Scoop media: Government Upfront On Corn Seed

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

The Press: Blogger’s harsh words rile grieving parents

Greymouth Star: Blogger puts the boot in

TV3 News: Judith Collins on offensive over Radio NZ comments

NZ Herald:  Probe into email leak welcome, says Collins

Previous related blogposts

The Mendacities of Mr Key #4: “Trolls & bottom-feeders”

The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

Whalers go gunning for Whaleoil

Whaleoil Goes Porno

Other Blogs

The Standard: Cameron Slater dirties John Key (or vice versa?)

The Dim Post: Dirty politics

Public Address: Dirty Politics

The Pundit: Cri du cœur


 

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Hagerbook

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 August 2014

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David Farrar – A Question for you please?

16 August 2014 12 comments

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kiwiblog - icon - header - for money

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With revelations in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Secrets“, that far-right, blogger, Cameron Slater, has blogged-for-money and has not publicly disclosed his activities, the time has time to scrutinise the activities of another right-wing blogger – David Farrar.

Both men are closely aligned with the National Party and both have been working in cahoots with Jason Ede – John Key’s political advisor.

Slater has been blogging on behalf of tobacco companies for payment, but has not disclosed this commercial relationship. (If a Labour-aligned blogger had done such a thing, you could be assured that Slater would be all over him/her with a rabid attack.)

David Farrar has also posted blog-stories that are critical of government intervention in the liquor industries, and advocating for a more laissez-faire approach and de-regulation.

The down-side to a free market , unregulated approach to liquor and tobacco is that both are drugs and both cost the tax-payers billions annually in increasing healthcare, lost productivity, and impacting on the justice system with booze-fuelled crime.

None of this, of course, troubles right-wingers, for whom profit is paramount.

A couple of recent blogposts by David Farrar advocate on behalf of liquor  interests. The following two blog-stories were posted on his site on the same day, within one hour of each other;

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kiwiblog - david farrar - British MPs want tobacco style warnings on wine

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kiwiblog - david farrar - Is Labour going to whack up alcohol price and the purchase age.

One wonders why Farrar would be so concerned at putting a health warning on alcohol?

After all, if he is a moderate drinker, it would have little effect on him. One has to ask – are his concerns philosophical or bought-and-paid for?

If the former, his “philosophy” seems very limited to immediate individualism – and not the wider needs of the community. Alcohol abuse accounts for a $4.9 billion dollar drain on our society/economy, according to a 2009 BERL report.

If the latter, he has most certainly not disclosed any financial transactions with his blogging.

Is he being paid, whether directly or indirectly by the liquor industry for his pro-alcohol blogging?

One hopes Mr Farrar can shed some light on this subject.

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References

NZ Herald: Book alleges dirty National Party politics; Key ‘not fit to be PM’

NewstalkZB: Hacker will be hard to track

TV3 News: Nicky Hager’s new book Dirty Politics will ‘shock readers’

Kiwiblog: British MPs want tobacco style warnings on wine!

Kiwiblog: Is Labour going to whack up alcohol price and the purchase age?

Alcohol.org: Alcohol Facts

Previous related blogposts

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

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


 

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farrar key slater will pose for cash

Above image acknowledgment: [?]

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The Donghua Liu Affair – the impending final act and curtain-fall in this smear-campaign

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Heraldmobile

 

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Preface

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As the the final acts  in the smear campaign that was the Donghua Liu Affair are about to unfold, and the curtain soon to fall, it is worthwhile re-assessing what has occurred; what has been learned; and the fall-out for certain individuals.

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1. The NZ Herald

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The NZ Herald does not emerge from this Affair very well.

From 18 June, when Cunliffe’s eleven year old letter was “discovered” and made public; to 21 June, when Donghua Liu’s first “signed statement” was reported by the Herald; to 25 June, when the Herald released a “new statement” from Liu – this has been either a cock-up of colossal proportions, or self-serving connivance,  in a carefully orchestrated smear campaign.

Where does one start to unravel the mess that the Herald and some of it’s staff and editor have created?

  • The sensationalist headlines that were splashed across the paper with damaging allegations, with no evidence, and based purely on one man’s “signed statement” was trash “journalism” at it’s worst.

Businessman gifts $150k to Labour Party

Liu’s $100k wine news to Rick Barker

Labour looks in serious disarray

Labour must cling to the wreckage

Oh David – it’s come down to a question of trust

Cunliffe’s denial has done party no favours

Cunliffe working 9 to 5 to save his job

Poisoned chalice may be leader’s saviour

etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

  • Liu’s “signed statement” was not even in the nature of an affidavit – the latter carrying more legal weight under the Evidence Act 2006. Which means that Liu could make any wild claim he fancied, with minimal repercussions. (Not unless someone with deep pockets, and plenty of time, bothers to take a defamation case against the trouble-prone migrant businessman.)

This should have made the Herald and it’s supposedly professional, experienced staff of journalists and columnists, more cautious.

Instead we read outrageous claims of a “$100,000 bottle of wine” (or “four bottles of wine” depending on which account you read); “$15,000 books”, and “$60,000 dinners on the Yangtze River” – all without a jot of evidence or witnesses. (The Yangtze boat trip/party turned out to be a staff party that then-Labour minister, Rick Barker, had been invited to attend.)

In short, we witnessed  an appalling standard of sloppy “journalism” and “trial by media” based on no evidence, and judged guilty-by-innuendo.

  • This shameful style of media reporting was made worse by the likes of Jared Savage who wrote uncritical pieces on this story, repeating in a parrot-like fashion any fanciful claim that Liu could come up with. When only one of Liu’s claims was substantiated – his $2,000 donation to a boating club – it was trumpeted as “proof” that all of Liu’s claims had been confirmed,

“The confirmation comes after Labour has denied other allegations in the signed statement from Liu, including the claim he paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at fundraising auctions.”

Rick Barker had his own views on the rowing club donation, which seemed a whole lot more credible than Liu’s “$100,000 bottle of wine”. (‘Cold Duck’ anyone?)

  •  Or  Herald Editor, Tim Murphy, on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“  on 23 June, where he was evasive in his answers and gave no explanation as to why Liu’s “signed statement” had not been published verbatim. Murphy said on the interview that he  stood by the Liu story, confidently asserting;

“Well, what’s not to stand by?”

We now know that Liu’s claims were either misleading, fanciful, or over-exaggerated and most likely, defamatory.

That is the most likely reason why the Herald did not publish, verbatim, Liu’s “signed statement” It would have made them a party to a defamation lawsuit.

  • But perhaps the worst offender was Herald Columnist, John Armstrong, who on 18 June, penned one of the most scurrilous pieces of “journalistic” rubbish  in recent media  history. Armstrong’s piece was written on the same day that the Herald published Cunliffe’s eleven year old letter to Immigration NZ. Amazingly, as Armstrong vilified Cunliffe for “a lapse of memory”, and demanded his resignation as Labour leader – he omitted to mentioned that the letter had been written some eleven years ago.

Armstrong’s piece was written and published at 1pm on 18 June – one hour twentynine minutes before Jared Savage broke the story detailing Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to Immigration NZ, on behalf of Donghua Liu.

Which suggests Armstrong’s haste and eagerness  in putting the journalistic ‘knife’ between Cunliffe’s ribs.

It was not until three days later that the Herald’s other right-leaning columnist, Fran O’Sullivan, attempted to inject some degree of sanity into her colleagues with her more thoughtful, restrained  opinion piece on 21 June,

Memo: David Cunliffe. Don’t let your political enemies (that includes your frenemies) push you out of the Labour leadership ahead of the election.

[…]

There is already a media-fuelled expectation that Cunliffe should either step down or be rolled so that Labour’s fourth leader in one parliamentary term can lead the party into the September 20 election.

This would leave precious little time for a replacement – be it Grant Robertson or Andrew Little – to bed their own leadership in place before going head-to-head with Key in the election campaign. It would almost certainly result in electoral defeat.

Similarly, the resignation calls Cunliffe faced after the Herald broke the story that the Labour leader had signed off a letter on behalf of Liu bordered on risible.

That letter was clearly a pro forma note written by his staffers. There was no element of special pleading. It’s no wonder he had forgotten it. It should not have sparked a Gotcha call from political journalists.

Well, I’m not so charitable.

The behaviour of the Herald (with some notable exceptions) has been nothing short of disgraceful. It has with-held information from the public. It has published defamatory claims from a vengeful businessman with no evidence to support his claims regarding Labour (rowing boat club aside). It has engaged in tabloid-style, “gotcha” political-journalism. It has demonstrated  a particularly virulent style of biased, partisan reporting.   It has not undertaken the most basic journalistic  requirements of confirming a story before going public. It has not bothered to investigate (as far as anyone can tell) who was behind Liu’s claims and why. It has abused it’s position as a major media organisation, with it’s considerable influence in New Zealand society.

As such, to take a page from John Armstrong’s 18 June opinion piece, I  issue the following;

Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy must apologise to David Cunliffe and to the NZ Labour Party promptly,  fully, and unreservedly. That apology should be placed on the front page of the Herald. It  is the very least that he should do as a matter of justice.

After which, Mr Murphy should re-consider his own position and decide whether  his role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

(See Appendix B)

John Armstrong

There is no question – John Armstrong must resign immediately. His behaviour has been shocking and  inexcusable. Any notion of Armstrong as an impartial  journalist was swept away with his intemperate and openly partisan column on 18 June.

To para-phrase  Mr Armstrong, “he has called for [David Cunliffe’s] head to roll for the equivalent or less. Having set the standard required of others, it is incumbent on him to himself follow suit“.

When a supposedly well-educated person writes such a travesty of journalism, there is only one course of action open.

Go, John.

Just, go.

(See Appendix B)

Jared Savage

Jared was the author of many of the pieces reporting (more like cutting and  re-pasting) Donghua Liu’s claims. There was no evidence to support Donghua Liu’s claims – but they were published and given prominence nevertheless.

Jared does not appear to have given any serious thought to questioning Liu’s claims, nor the motivations for them. This style of reporting is grossly irresponsible and undermines his profession.

Unlike his colleagues, Murphy and Armstrong, Jared is young and still learning his craft. The Liu Affair has not been to Jared’s credit, but hopefully he has learned from the experience. I encourage Jared to under-go a refresher course in journalistic ethics so that future reporting can be more balanced and accurate.

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2. A more measured p.o.v.?

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With the dust settling on the Liu Affair, and the hysteria from more ‘excitable’  media columnists and commentators dying away, I refer to the reader a more measured, thoughtful p.o.v. from Dominion Post columnist, Vernon Small, who wrote that the Liu saga hits harder when Labour’s down.

Small’s column wasn’t just a breath of fresh air, it was a full tank of oxygen in an otherwise murky atmosphere of political muck-raking, innuendo, lies,  and media histrionics.

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3. The Labour Party

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Legal Action

Without a doubt, Labour – and specifically, David Cunliffe – have no choice. They must take legal action for defamation against the Herald. The kind of shabby, tabloid-style “journalism” shown since June 18 has further undermined the Fourth Estate’s credibility (whether Herald staff and management realise this or not, is irrelevant) and must not be allowed to become the new default standard by which editors and journalists operate in this country.

For these reasons, Labour must sue for three good reasons;

  • It runs the risk that the public ‘memory’ on this incident will be fixed at the point of “revelations” about a “$100,000 bottle of wine” – not that Liu changed his story. Nor that no evidence was forthcoming.
  • If the Liu Affair goes to Court, the process of discovery may reveal who was behind this smear campaign.
  • If the phone tapping/”News of the World” scandal in Britain has shown us anything, it is that the  tabloid journalism road, where irresponsible reporting becomes an  acceptable ‘norm’, leads to unpleasant (and often illegal) consequences.

However, my advice to Cunliffe and the Labour Party is to defer legal action until after 20 September.  The Labour Party cannot afford distractions this close to an election.

Rapid Response Team

Unless Labour already has one, I suggest that they create a media “rapid response group” which can  ‘kick in’ when the next smear campaign rears it’s ugly head. (Mark my words, the next dirty trick is probably already in the works.)

Such a group could comprise of senior party members, MPs, legals, media minders, etc, and could ‘swing into action’ at the first hint of another event like the Liu Affair.

Every Labour candidate should have an easy-to-contact  “rapid response group” team-member on their phone’s speed-dial.

Potential Allies

If the Liu Affair has shown anything, it is the old maxim,

“United we Stand, Divided we Fall”

The smear campaign was notable for one thing; Labour stood alone against the NZ Herald, other media, and various lunatic right-wing bloggers.  It had few allies.

Perhaps this incident should serve as a wake-up call to Labour that it needs allies – potential coalition partners who can come to the aid of an embattled Labour Party. And vice versa.

God knows the Left has many enemies in the media, political sphere, business world, rant-back radio, and rabid-right blogs.

A more collegial and co-operative relationship between Labour, the Greens, Mana-Internet, trade unions, and other progressive organisations will be needed if future dirty tricks and smear campaigns are to be successfully resisted.

“United we stand, divided we fall” is not just a catchy catch-phrase. It actually means something.

 The GCSB

Last year, John Key and the National government, with support from ACT and Peter Dunne, changed legislation to allow the GCSB to carry out domestic surveillance and spy on New Zealanders.

Of course, this does not mean that I am suggesting that when Labour becomes government, that they should use the GCSB to spy on the Herald, Donghua Liu, his lawyers, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, David Farrar, and anyone else who might be connected with this Affair, to find out who was responsible.

I am not suggesting that at all.

That would be morally wrong.

But quite legal.

.

4. John Key

.

It was clear from Day One, that John Key  had been fully briefed on David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to Immigration NZ. On 19 June, John Key said he had previously known about the  letter;

“Can’t exactly recall, I think it was a few weeks ago.”

But far more interesting is that Key seems to have been aware of Liu’s “signed statement” prior to  the Herald aquiring a copy of it.

Note the following article from the Herald, written by Audrey Young, when she was in New York, covering Key’s visit to the United States . Specifically, note the date; Thursday 19 June;

.

 

NZ Herald - Key on Liu-Labour link - More to come - $15 000 book

.

Note the opening paragraph;

Prime Minister John Key believes the Labour [sic] has a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu.

Key is quoted in Young’s article,

“I’ve heard the rumours and we’ll see what actually comes out but I’d be very, very amazed if the amount is $15,000,” he told New Zealand reporters.

But according to Herald on Sunday editor, Miriyana Alexander, revelations of Donghua Liu’s claims for other donations did not come to their attention until Saturday, 21 June;

But Herald on Sunday editor Miriyana Alexander said it only got a copy of the statement on Saturday and called the party within an hour of receiving it.

The date of when the NZ Herald came into possession of   Liu’s   “signed statement” was  also confirmed as  “on Saturday” [21 June], by Herald editor,  Tim Murphy, who was  interviewed on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“, two days later (Monday  23 June). In the same interview, Murphy refused to say how the Herald acquired the statement.

When asked by Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, why a copy of Liu’s statement had not been supplied to Labour, Murphy’s response was,

“There’s still more to be done. And there’s issues of sensitivities around it, for us. All these these things don’t get passed over […] I imagine it’ll come out but it just a matter of us working through some things first.”

Timeline:

19 June (Thursday): Key  stated that he  believed  Labour had a lot more than $15,000 in donations from wealthy Chinese political donor Donghua Liu.

21 June (Saturday): NZ Herald came into possession of Liu’s “signed statement”. The Herald does not publish the “statement” verbatim, nor does it pass a copy on to the Labour Party. (A point raised by Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson in her interview with Tim Murphy.)

23 June (Monday): NZ Herald editor, Tim Murphy confirms that his paper did not acquire a copy of Liu’s “signed statement” until two days ago (21 June).

So John Key knew the contents of Liu’s “signed statement”  two days in advance of the Herald.

In my previous blogpost (The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?) I posed these questions;

  1. Who had access to the Prime Minister in such a way that he could be briefed, with such detail,  in advance, on Cunliffe’s letter and Liu’s “signed statement”?
  2. Who was involved in encouraging Donghua Liu to make his statement?
  3. How did a copy of Liu’s “signed statement” get to the NZ Herald?
  4. What was the motivation in briefing the Prime Minister?
  5. Who else in the PM’s office was involved? Was it Jason Ede?

Without much doubt, Key, his  ministers,  and some of his closest advisors, were fully aware of Cunliffe’s 2003 letter and Donghua Liu’s “signed statement”.

.

5. Conclusions

.

1.

The Herald’s editor, Tim Murphy and  political columnist John Armstrong behaved disgracefully throughout this entire event. Either through ineptitude or complicity, they allowed the NZ Herald to become a tool for a carefully planned and executed smear campaign against David Cunliffe.

In an email to Tim Murphy (see Appendix B), I call for a full-page apology to be published in the Herald.

I also call for Tim Murphy’s and John Armstrong’s resignations.

As such, after my email to Tim Murphy, and depending on his response, I will be considering a complaint to the NZ Press Council on the matter.

I may also look at other avenues such as contacting the Herald’s main advertisers.

2.

David Liu was not the instigator or author of his “signed statement”.  Without doubt, it was a dirty trick of the sort that Nicky Hager warned us about in his brilliant exposé on corruption in the National Party, “The Hollow Men”. 

The date on Liu’s “signed statement” – 3 May – was only two days after Maurice Williamson’s enforced resignation after being found out attempting to influence a police investigation into Liu’s assault on two women.

The close timing of Williamson’s resignation and the date on Liu’s “signed statement” was a critical mistake on the part of those responsible for this smear campaign. It ties the two events together. I believe Key’s senior media strategist, Jason Ede, and right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater were probably involved.

The motive for the smear campaign was an act of utu, in retaliation for Labour prosecuting revelations against Maurice Williamson.

3.

Labour must sue the NZ Herald for defamation. Whilst smear campaigns are, unfortunately part-and-parcel of politics (because partisan voters seem not to care, as long as it is done to the “other side”), complicit or incompetant actions by media reporting such stories cannot – must not – be allowed to stand.

Unless we want to see this country’s media  become a South Pacific mirror of “News of the World“, with associated phone hacking, bribery, police corruption, and god knows what else, the kind of sensationalist, headline-driven, misleading “journalism” shown by the Herald from June 18 cannot be allowed to become the new standard of media behaviour.

Even media companies have responsibilities and obligations to behave in a responsible manner.

If not, we must look to legal remedies to ensure responsible behaviour.

 

.

Appendix A

.

from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:          John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
date:      Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM
subject: OIA Request – Reminder!

Kia ora Mr Key,

On 19 June – now one week ago – I lodged an OIA request with you and your office.

My request was as follows,

Kia ora Mr Key.

This is a request lodged under the Official Information Act.

Please provide me with copies of all correspondence, minutes, notes, reports, and any other written or otherwise recording, relating to any and all activities surrounding the procurement; storage; and planned circumstances of the release of the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003.

This includes a request for all communications relating to the letter between David Cunliffe and Donghua Liu dated 11 April 2003, which may have occurred between yourself; any and all staffmembers in your office; any member of the National Party; any blogger; any media person; and any other group or individual who was contacted on this issue.

Information may be emailed to me, or, if the file is too large, I can supply a postal address for hard copies.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

Since then, I have not received any acknowledgement to my lodged application and require you to do so, under the Act.

If I do not receive acknowledgement to my request, I will have no option but to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

An hour later, I received an emailed acknowledgement to my OIA request.

.

Appendix B

.

from:         Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:              Tim Murphy <editor@herald.co.nz>
date:         Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 10:34 PM
subject:    The Donghua Liu Affair & Consequence

 

Tim Murphy
Editor,
The New Zealand Herald

 

Kia ora Mr Murphy,

After recent revelations, it has become patently obvious and apparent to all that Mr Donghua Liu is no longer a credible witness to any alleged wrong-doing or alleged inappropriate behaviour by David Cunliffe, Rick Barker, or the NZ Labour Party.

Mr Liu has;

1. Failed to provide evidence for his allegations of hefty donations to the Labour Party. The closest he has come has been  a $2,000 cheque he gave to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club, on his own volition.

2. Mis-represented Rick Barker’s invitation and  attendance at a staff party, on a river-boat,  in China.

3. Made no verifiable Affidavit, and provided only a “signed statement”.

4. Issued a second statement on 25 June, changing his initial allegations.

5. Offered no evidence for his second, 25 June, “signed statement”.

Since 18 June, when your reporter, Jared Savage, broke this story in a piece entitled “David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid“, the Herald has;

* published unsubstantiated allegations;

* failed to provide subsequent evidence to back up those allegations;

* published stories damaging to the reputations of David Cunliffe and Rick Barker;

* published allegations damaging to the Labour Party (during an election year!);

* published a column calling for David Cunliffe to resign (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order“), based on incomplete information, and omitting a crititical fact, namely  that Cunliffe’s letter to NZ Immigration had been written  in 2003, and was a legitimate reason why the MP may have forgotten the letter;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim,  Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, thereby acting as a gate-keeper/censor of information that the public had a right to see;

* resisted calls to publish, verbatim,  Mr Liu’s first signed statement, or his subsequent version, despite having no hesitation in publishing David Cunliffe’s 2003 letter to NZ Immigration (“David Cunliffe wrote letter supporting Liu’s residency bid“)

* made little or no discernible attempt to investigate the background to Liu’s allegations; his motives; and who else might have been involved.

Under your watch, the tenor of stories relating to the Cunliffe-Liu issue has been one-sided and predicated on baseless allegations.

This has been a tabloid-style, highly-emotive, unjustified witch-hunt which collapsed only because Donghua Liu’s story changed and it became apparent he was no longer a credible witness.

The Liu Affair has seriously damaged your paper’s reputation and also further eroded public confidence in the ability of the Fourth Estate to report fairly, accurately, and without bias.

Accordingly, I submit that  it behoves you to put this matter right. I therefore call upon you;

1. The NZ Herald should immediately publish a full page apology on the front page of your paper.

2. It may also be appropriate for you to  re-consider your  position and decide whether your role as the Herald’s editor is now tenable after this shameful fiasco.

3. On 18 June, in a highly biased, unreasonable column, John Armstrong called for David Cullen’s resignation,  (“John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order“). I submit that Mr Armstrong’s own position as a senior Herald staffer is no longer tenable and must take his own advice and resign.

These three steps are the basis upon which the New Zealand Herald can regain it’s reputation that has been severely dented since 18 June.

Regards,

– Frank Macskasy

 

Note: this letter will be made public on “The Daily Blog”, and subsequently, on “Frankly Speaking” (my own personal blog). Any response you care to make will also be disclosed and made public.

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

Legislation:  Evidence Act 2006

Radio NZ: Newspaper stands by donation claims

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald:  Liu donation to rowing club confirmed

Radio NZ: Morning Report – New Zealand Herald stands by its story

NZ Herald/Hawkes Bay Today: Saga returns to bite Rick Barker

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

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Cunliffe’s resignation may be in order

NZ Herald: Fran O’Sullivan: Unfounded resignation calls should be far from Cunliffe’s mind

Auckland University of Technology: Journalism Major – Bachelor of Communication Studies

Dominion Post:  Liu saga hits harder when Labour’s down

Wilson Harle: Overhaul of New Zealand’s Discovery Rules

Radio NZ: Cunliffe accuses Govt of smear campaign

Radio NZ: Newspaper stands by donation claims

Fairfax media: Labour fights new Liu donation claims

TV3: Maurice Williamson resigns as minister

Additional

Twitter: Jared Savage

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

NZ Herald: Liu: $100k not just for wine

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu timeline – Damn lies, dirty tricks, and a docile media

The Donghua Liu Affair threatens to unravel – PM and NZ Herald caught up in a dirty trick campaign?

 


 

.

 

 

NZ Herald

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

.

.

= fs =

Budget 2014 – How has National exposed itself in Election Year?

.

2014 election

.

Right Wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, wrote in the Dominion Post on the day after the Budget,

“By contrast I expect debate on the New Zealand Budget to be over by Monday morning.”

Really?!

Don’t you believe it, sunshine.

National’s sixth budget contained spending on;

  • $171.8 million to extend paid parental leave (PPL):
    • Additional four weeks, starting with a two-week extension from 1 April 2015, and another two weeks from 1 April 2016.
    • Extend eligibility of paid parental leave to caregivers other than parents (for example, “Home for Life” caregivers), and to extend parental leave payments to people in less-regular jobs or who recently changed jobs.
  • $42.3 million to increase the parental tax credit (PTC) from $150 a week to $220 a week, and increase the payment period from eight to 10 weeks, from 1 April 2015.
  • $155.7 million to help early childhood centres remain affordable and increase participation towards the 98 per cent target.
  • $33.2 million in 2014/15 to help vulnerable children, including eight new Children’s Teams to identify and work with at-risk children, screening of people who work with children, and additional resources to support children in care.
  • $90 million to provide free GP visits and prescriptions for children aged under 13, starting on 1 July 2015.

(Source: Treasury)

 

It was perhaps the last item – free healthcare for Under 13s – that took the media, public, and Opposition by surprise. As others have stated, it was a policy lifted straight from the policy pages of Labour, Greens, or Mana.

Other increases in  funding included increased funding ($10.4 million) for sexual violence services

Sexual violence services have been critically under-funded since 2012 and many were forced to cut back on staffing as funding dried up in Wellington, Auckland, and elsewhere. It is fairly evident that funding increases for child healthcare, parental leave,  and sexual violence services have all been left for 2014.

Which conveniently also happens to be election year.

As far as cynical self-interest goes, these Budget funding-measures are an obvious – if utterly crude – attempt at  currying public favour as Election Day bears down on this government.

Why was funding for sexual violence community groups not made available earlier, so that full staffing levels and services for survivors could be maintained? $10.4 million dollars out of a Government revenue of $64.1 billion is not massive by any standard. In fact, it is just a shade under one year’s worth of Ministerial travel, at $11 million.

By comparison, National gave a  tax-payer funded bail-out of $30 million to the Rio Tinto  aluminium smelter last August – three times what was eventually budgetted for sexual violence services.

Even the $2 million of taxpayer’s money paid  by National to a Golf Tournament over the last three years would have assisted these much-needed groups  keep their services intact and skilled counsellors employed,  until this month’s Budget.

Leaving critical funding till Election Year is tantamount to abusing the victims of sexual violence all over again.

The same could be said of funding free healthcare for Under 13s. If it is a good idea now – why was it not a good idea two years ago?

It’s not as if John Key did not acknowledge the growing under-class in this country only three years ago;

.

Key admits underclass still growing

.

And a year later, this staggering headline appeared in the media – a story few of us would ever believe would happen here, in Gods Own;

.

Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

.

Little wonder then, that Dr Nikki Turner, from the  Child Poverty Action Group, was less than impressed by National’s sudden transformation into a quasi-social democratic party with a newly-cloned heart, and a belated attempt to improve children’s health;

A child lobby group says free doctors’ visits and prescriptions will make little difference to reducing child poverty without also improving the incomes and the housing conditions of the very poor.

“Without adequate income, without adequate warmth and housing, we’re not going to (make) a lot of difference at this stage to our children’s health.”

Indeed. Without addressing the core causes of poverty-related diseases, National’s free health-care plan is simply a  multi-million dollar band-aid. The root causes of those diseases will still be present in many households up and down the country.

If Key and English thought that their band-aid solutions would be gratefully accepted by an uncritical, compliant media and public, they were mistaken.

An un-named author of an editorial in the Dominion Post on 16 May stated,

“This is a deliberately bland and even boring Budget. The Government has clearly decided that grey and safe is its best hope in election year. The only surprise was free doctors’ visits for under-13-year-olds. Middle New Zealand will welcome it, as it will many of the other, carefully telegraphed, handouts. More paid parental leave: who could object? A bit more help with childcare costs: why not?”

The same editorial went on,

“The other glaring black hole in the Budget is the housing crisis. More and more New Zealanders cannot afford a house, and the Government’s response is muted and inadequate. The Budget promises to remove tariffs on building supplies, a sensible step following revelations about the high price of such materials here compared with Australia. But the change will cut only a few thousand dollars from the price of a house.

Much bolder moves will be needed, including a capital gains tax. But National’s caution here is a drawback, not an advantage. Sometimes problems are serious and need action. National seems to believe it will be enough to cut red tape and remove some of the planning obstacles in the way of housing. It won’t.”

This is where John Key and Bill English have mis-calculated badly, and which no one (?) has picked up.

After all, if a problem with children’s health was not critical, why would a fiscally conservative government fund free doctor’s visits to the tune of $90 million? Indeed, as Trevor McGlinchey for the NZ Council of  Christian Social Services said, on 16 May,

“In providing $500 million of support for children and families over four years the Government has recognised many of our families are suffering.”

The key-word here is “recognised“.

In funding free healthcare, National has admitted to anyone who will take notice that a problem of some magnitude exists in this country. They can no longer hide behind platitudes.

As the above editorial went on to state,

“At present there is little rage about poverty, inequality and the housing crisis. These problems are raw and real but voters are patient and only a minority of voters now seem to actually hate National. It will probably take another term before a majority is truly fed up with Key and his band. In the meantime, this bland document may be a document for the times.”

The author of that piece is being optimistic. By acknowledging that a problem exists; by acknowledging that state funding is required; and by acknowledging that a “radical” (for National, this is radical stuff) solution is required – they have left themselves wide open in this election campaign.

A campaign manager with a posse of motivated, clued-up, and capable strategists, will be able to use this in the up-coming election campaign. Like a game of chess, in trying to show how “clever” they were in manipulating public perception, National have left their “social policy flank” exposed and vulnerable.

So much for Kiwiblogger Mr Farrar’s misplaced optimism that “I expect debate on the New Zealand Budget to be over by Monday morning”.

Quite the contrary, David.

By shining a bright, $90 million spotlight on this problem, they can no longer deny that it exists or is “improving”.

It’s only just begun.

*

Postscript #1

The cost of financing this country’s $59 billion debt is shown in this Dominion Post graphic;

.

Revenue and expenses 2014 budget new zealand government

.

The cost of financing our debt is shown to to $3.9 billion, per year.

Two years ago, the Green Party used Parliamentary Library information to estimate the cost of the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts;

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

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

The cost of those tax cuts is  roughly the equivalent of what we are now paying to service our overall debt.

So much for National’s “prudent fiscal managing” of the government’s books.

Postscript#2

Someone at the Dominion Post seems to have a rather shocking memory. At the bottom of Page A4, in their 16 May edition, this item was published;

.

Past budgets 2009 - Dominion Post - 16 May 2014

.

Promised tax-cuts in 2009 were not “axed”. As this IRD page explained;

.

IRD technical tax area 2009 

.

Key even made this helpful suggestion to those who did not want their tax cuts to donate them to charity,

“I am just as sure there are many who are in a position to donate some of that extra income”.

Which would make it hard to donate non-existent tax cuts, as the author of the Dominion Post article claimed.

Postscript #3

This graph from Treasury (with a minor enhancement by this blogger) shows our borrowings from 2003 to 2013, with subsequent estimations.

.

Treasury New Zealand debt

.

According to the graph, we can see how Labour paid down the country’s sovereign debt, leaving New  Zealand well-placed to weather the on-coming Global Financial Crisis and resulting recession. Something even Key and English have had to admit on occasion;

“The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008. It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016. Without selling minority shares in five companies, it would rise to $78 billion. Our total investment liabilities, which cover both public and private liabilities, are $150 billion – one of the worst in the world because of the high levels of private debt in New Zealand.”

Indeed.

 

.


 

References

Dominion Post: English spreads the lolly far and wide

NZ Treasury:  Key Facts for Taxpayers (Part 1)

NZ Herald: Budget 2014 – Building products tariffs lifted temporarily

Manawatu Standard: Boost for rape crisis services welcomed

Fairfax media:  Rape crisis line forced to cut staff

Dominion Post: Wellington rape centre forced to cut hours

NZ Treasury: Government Revenue

Fairfax media: MPs’ travel costs rise

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Herald: Golf event tots up $2m in Govt aid

NZ Herald:  Key admits underclass still growing

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Radio NZ: Child lobby sceptical of budget moves

Dominion Post: Editorial – The crowd goes mild at Budget

Parliament: Inequality—Assets and Income

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

Dominion Post: Child poverty still not being corrected

IRD: [2009] Tax cuts for individuals

Otago Daily Times: Key says donate tax cuts to charity

NZ Treasury:  Net debt peaks as a share of GDP in 2014/15

National.co.nz: Mixed Ownership

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: playing politics with rape victims, National-style

Letter to the Editor: $3000 offer to the Unemployed is a joke – and not a very funny one!

Letter to Radio NZ: $3000 offer to the Unemployed is a joke – and not a very funny one (v.2)

 

 

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 May 2014.

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= fs =

A Query to the Taxpayers Union – ***UP DATE ***

27 March 2014 6 comments

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Taxpayers Union website banner

.

Further to an earlier blogpost where I emailed Jordan Williams, at the Taxpayers Union, regarding Judith Collins’ taxpayer-funded trip to China, where she visited a milk importer (Oravida) of which  her husband is the sole Director…

.

FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Judith Collins
DATE:    Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:39:48 +1300
TO:     "Taxpayers Union" <tipline@taxpayers.org.nz> 

.

Kia ora,

I am aware that your Union recently condemned the cost
incurred by Green MP, Ms Mojo Mathers, in a trip she made to
Masterton to participate in a radio interview on
disabilities.

Accordingly, will you be investigating and commenting on the
trip made by National MP and Minister, Judith Collins, for
her recent taxpayer-funded trip to China? 

Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for Ethnic Affairs;
  Minister of Justice; and Minister for ACC.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign affairs
or trade.

Will you also be investigating and commenting on the
conflict of interest posed by her visit to Orivida - a
Chinese company of which her husband is a Director?

This appears to be little more than a tax-payer funded
'junket' and I await your response to this in the light of
your critical stance taken regarding Ms Mathers' trip to
Masterton.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

.

Mr Williams, from the so-called Taxpayers Union, responded on the same day;

.

National puppet organisation

.

Several commentators on my previous blogpost suggested that blogs are a part of the media (or “new media”) and that Mr Williams should, accordingly, be responding to my query as if the NZ Herald had contacted him for a comment.

I took note of the suggestions and wrote back to Mr Williams,

.

FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Re: Judith Collins
DATE:     Sun, 16 Mar 2014 12:37:51 +1300
TO:      "Jordan Williams" <jordan@taxpayers.org.nz>
.
Kia ora Jordan!

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query, and in
such a timely fashion. That was greatly appreciated.

Regarding your point on the Mojo Mathers issue; I understand
that you stated you did not initiate contact with the
Herald, and that you responded to their query.

As you may be aware, I blog on various issues, including
covering public activities such as Select Committee
hearings; protests; etc. 

I am therefore part of the so-called "new media" of citizen
journalists/bloggers, as your colleague, Cameron Slater also
maintains.

Accordingly, I seek a response from you, on behalf of the
Taxpayers Union, on  National MP and Minister, Judith
Collins'  recent taxpayer-funded trip to China.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign  affairs
or trade. Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for
Ethnic  Affairs; Minister of Justice; and  Minister for ACC.

Considering that none of her portfolios relate to foreign 
affairs or trade, was this trip necessary? What purpose did
it serve, and for who?

What is the Taxpayers Union's response on the
perceived/actual conflict of interest posed by her visit to
Orivida - a  Chinese company of which her husband is a
Director?

Does the Taxpayers Union view Collins' trip as little more
than a tax-payer funded  'junket'?

Does the Taxpayers Union consider the $36,000 spent by
Collins on this trip "value for money"?

I look forward to the Taxpayers Union's statement on this
issue.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

.

As at 11.59PM, on 18 March, I have received no further correspondence from Mr Williams, nor from any other representative of the Taxpayers Union. Not even a simple acknowledgement of having received my 16 March email.

It is interesting to note the circumstances surrounding this issue.

I emailed the Taxpayers Union because it had commented – and roundly condemned – Mojo Mathers’ flight from Christchurch to Masterton, to attend a radio interview on the issue of disabilities.

On 2 March, Jordan Williams made this statement on the resulting furore surrounding his remarks on Ms Mathers’ travel;

.

This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.

For clarification:

  • The Taxpayers’ Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
  • The Taxpayers’ Union operate 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday’s call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done on Skype as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
  • I’ve made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
  • Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
  • Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. Seehttp://info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers’_Union 

On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype. Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.

Jordan Williams.

Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams
Author

Note Mr Williams’ statement;

Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare

Aside from a handful  of press releases aimed at National Minister, Steven Joyce, most of the Taxpayers Unions public comments seemed to target Auckland mayor Len Brown; government departments (whilst not mentioning their Ministers); and strangely, the Labour Party – which is not even in government.

The Taxpayers Union has not commented on Judith Collins’ trip to China, despite there being glaring questions which demand to be asked. Questions such as why a Minister of Justice/Ethnic Affairs/ACC felt the need to spend $36,000 of taxpayers’ money on a junket overseas.

Mr Williams has not deigned to respond to my queries with a comment.

Yet, he was only too happy to launch into a savage excoriation of Green MP, Mojo Mathers, for spending an estimated $500 to speak on an issue that was actually her portfolio – and which, because of her disability, is  a matter she is intimately familiar to speak on.

One can only assume that Mr Williams does not wish to be drawn into this issue.  The reason is quite apparent.

Jordan Williams is closely connected to the likes of David Farrar, Cameron Slater, and Simon Lusk – all of whom are hard-Right National/ACT supporters and apparatchiks.

Right-wing blogger, David Farrar, is one of the  Board members of the Taxpayers Union. His ‘bio‘, however, mentions nothing about his close links to the National Party,

“David is a well known political blogger and commentator. David also owns and manages the specialist polling agency Curia Market Research and has an active involvement in Internet issues. He is an experienced political campaigner and former parliamentary staffer.

“I helped form the New Zealand Taxpayers Union because I believe that New Zealand needs a lobby group to stand up for the rights of taxpayers and ratepayers, and fight against those who treat them as a never ending source of funds”.”

David Farrar’s Disclosure Statement on Kiwiblog;

“Since I joined Young Nationals in 1986, I have been affiliated to, and a member of, the National Party. I do not regard National as always right, but it is the party which I believe gives me the greatest opportunity to achieve the New Zealand I want.

As a volunteer, I established National’s initial Internet presence in 1996 and have held various roles in the party up until 2005. I have three times been a temporary contractor to National HQ, helping out with the campaign in 1999, and also between staff appointments – in 2004 and 2007 for a total of ten months.”

Other Board Members are;

John Bishop; businessman; columnist for the right-leaning NBR; and authored a “puff piece” on National’s Deputy Leader, Bill English; Constituency Services Manager,  ACT Parliamentary Office, April 2000 – August 2002, “developing relationships with key target groups and organising events”.

Gabrielle O’Brien; businesswoman; National Party office holder, 2000-2009.

Jordan McCluskey; University student; member of the Young Nationals.

Jono (Jonathan) Brown; Administrator/Accounts Clerk at the Apostolic Equippers [Church] Wellington, which, amongst other conservative policies,  opposed the marriage equality Bill.

None of this is mentioned even in passing on the Taxpayers Union ‘Who We Are‘ page.

By now, it should be patently obvious that the Taxpayers Union is little more than a thinly-disguised, right-wing, front organisation for the National Party.

In which case, it would be “counter-productive” of the Taxpayers Union to be criticising Judith Collins’ trip to China. It would be a case of  attacking one of their own.

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References

Taxpayers Union:  A question of value for taxpayer money

TV1: Key puts Collins on warning, opposition calls for sacking

Fairfax Media: Anti-MMP plan leaked

Taxpayers Union: Who we are

Kiwiblog: Disclosure Statement

Finda.co.nz: John Bishop Communicator

Johnbishop.co.nz: Bill English – Minister of Infrastructure

Advisoryboards.co.nz:  Curriculum Vitae: John Bishop – Advisory Boards NZ

LinkedIn: Gabrielle O’Brien

LinkedIn: Jordan McCluskey

LinkedIn: Jonathan [“Jono”] Brown

Newswire.co.nz:  ‘Not up to church to dictate on gay marriage’

See Also

NZ Herald:  John Drinnan – High-risk PR strategy flies

Sciblogs: Jesus heals — but not cancer! [Equippers Church]

Previous related blogposts

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

A Query to the Taxpayers Union

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 March 2014.

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Kiwiblog – still happily fomenting mischief…

18 February 2014 Leave a comment

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kiwiblog and Green Party

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Sometimes, being a mischief-maker can have it’s pit-falls…

Case in point – Kiwiblog administrator, David Farrar, who at the end of January, posted a story on a “leaked” Green Party draft Party List for this year’s election. David wrote,

“I’ve been leaked a copy of the draft an unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.” [sic]

David Farrar  then published the List rankings, complete with promotions and demotions. (Though his blogpost wasn’t entitled “Two Greens MPs facing demotion with Green Party List”. The more sensationalist, oily heading of “Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List” was used instead.)

Only trouble is – none of it was true. Someone was either playing silly-buggers or David Farrar was telling porkies.

My ten cents plus 15% GST is on the former; this was someone playing  David Farrar for their unknown agenda. Why do I believe that the Kiwiblog editor  wasn’t deliberately spreading lies (despite the mis-leading headline to the original blogpost)?

Because David Farrar is no Cameron Slater.

When a right wing blogger publishes a damning piece demolishing another right wing activist’s (Luigi Wewege) reputation for telling outright  lies;

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Kiwiblog - not in a relationship

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– then that speaks well for  his credibility. (That’s not to say David won’t present  a story biased according to his  own experiences, beliefs, and worldview – but then, what right or left wing blogger doesn’t? And yes, that includes me.)

On 10 February, David Farrar published an updated blogpost on this story, stating,

“I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.”

This bit is pretty much on the nail. I recall my own participation in Alliance List Ranking meetings. Various factions would draw up their own lists; discuss them; pass them around; lobby for support… Until the day of Regional List Ranking selection and it came down to delegates voting according to their electorate wishes. Some of the “pre-determined” list rankings were successful – but most were not. (After all, only one person can sit in each ranked slot.)

David Farrar should have known this because the Green Party selection  is even more direct, transparent,  and democratic than the Alliance. Or the new Labour Party voting process for leadership contests.

In fact, the Green Party is probably the most open and democratic of this country’s political parties. At the other end of the spectrum is ACT, where Leaders and candidates are selected by the Party’s Board of Directors. ACT members have zero say in the selection process.

So it was hardly surprising that David Farrar  offered up this explanation,

“A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.”

Indeed.

The Green Party confirmed to me, in writing that “pre-selected lists” do not exist,

"Our party is proud of our committment to our internal democracy. Appropriate
decision-making is one of the pillars our our party's charter. We take this
committment seriously as Co-Convenors and elected representatives of the party.

Recently a blog site, and reports by the mainstream media, claimed to have a copy of
our draft list - the ranked list of MP's that the party devises that informs which
candidates are elected into parliament once the party vote is counted after the
election. The draft list is a fiction - the party list formation has not yet begun.
Our party uses a participatory approach to develop our party list.

[...]

We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on
our internal democracy and the party in general this year. The media, commentators,
bloggers, and other political parties are all interested in our party list. Given
this interest, we can expect some misreporting of our party processes and
list-ranking processes..."

One part of that statement leaps out at me;  “We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year…”

What an odd world we live in when the political Party with the most democratic and transparent candidate selection process is heavily scrutinised (and often criticised) – whilst other Parties – where a culture of transparency and democratic involvement by rank-and-file members is not so well developed – do not suffer the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

In fact, this blogger has not read one single MSM story or commentatory criticising ACT’s closed candidate selection process. It seems almost an accepted feature of our political system that this kind of secretiveness is “the norm” and the Green’s willingness to be open is “unnatural“.

If such be the case, and I have to choose between “the norm” and “unnatural” – I’ll take “unnatural“, any day.

David Farrar concluded by stating,

“I have no reason however to doubt the source [of the leaked “draft Party List] has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs.”

David Farrar may insist that he will not  “print anything I believe to be untrue”.

But he certainly didn’t bother checking the facts first and foremost with the Green Party prior to committing to publication.

If anyone should understand the Green’s almost fetish-like observance for democratic and transparent participation, it should be David Farrar. God knows he’s been around “the beltway” long enough.

Perhaps Mr Farrar  should start questioning “ the source” of the leaked “draft”. Because it looks like he’s been ‘played’ by someone with their own agenda.

Yup, it must be election year…

[Disclosure: this blogger supported the Green Party at the 2011 Election]

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References

Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship! (5 Nov 2013)

Kiwiblog: Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List (31 Jan 2014)

Kiwiblog: More on the Greens list (10 Feb 2014)

Previous related blogpost

2013 – The Year that Was (Scroll down to: Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award)

Act proclaims new leader!?

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 February 2014.

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According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

26 December 2013 3 comments

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"He's a witch! Burn him! Burn him!" "How do you know he's a witch, peasants?" "Cos the EY Report said so!" "No it didn't peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades." "Close enough!!  Burn him!"

“He’s a witch! Burn him! Burn him!”
“How do you know he’s a witch, peasants?”
“Cos the EY Report said so!”
“No, it didn’t, peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades.”
“Close enough!! Burn him!”

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With the release of the Ernst Young  Independent report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, National Party pollster and one-time employee, David Farrar, has (unsurprisingly) called for Auckland mayor Len Brown’s immediate resignation.

As Farrar wrote in the NBR* on 13 December,

Having now read the EY report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland. I only formed this view after reading the report, and did not believe what had previously been disclosed was substantial enough to warrant resignation.

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public, and also that there were ratepayer resources used for his affair.”

Taking the last point (using ratepayer resources) as a rationale – Farrar is referring to the 1,375 phone calls and txt messages (Point #1)  between Len Brown and Bevan Chuang.

The report acknowledges that “Personal use of mobile phones is permitted by the Elected Members Technology Policy and Guidelines” (but must be reimbursed by the elected member).

Brown made a reimbursement payment of $263 last year (2012).

The report referred to Ms Chuang “attending several functions as the mayor’s translator” (point #2). No ratepayer funds were paid to her.

There is mention made of the mayor receiving an iPad as a gift. That was later auctioned for charity (point #7)

There is mention of a dinner with a personal friend (point #8) – in 2011 – paid by Council.

2011?! The Review went trawling that far back into the past?

Indeed, the report made several findings, some of which I repost in full;

9. We have not identified any instances where council funds were used to pay for gifts given by the mayor to Ms Chuang.
10.The content of council emails we reviewed between the mayor and Ms Chuang were of a council related business nature.
11. Our review of Mayoral Office expenditure did not identify any expenses incurred by council (either directly by the mayor or his immediate support team) that related to the mayor’srelationship with Ms Chuang.
12. We did not identify any improper preferential treatment by the mayor in relation to Ms Chuang’s appointment to the EPAP, New Lynn Night market, Howick Local Board contractsand Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (“ATEED”) services.      
13. We did not identify any instances where Ms Chuang accompanied the mayor on any domestic or international travel.
14. We have not identified any private use of hotels by the mayor that were paid for using council resource.

That’s an awful lot of  “we did not identify blah-blahs“…

The  report referred to free hotel room upgrades – none of which actually cost the rate-payer a single cent (despite what Campbell Live inferred on 17 December).

The word that springs to mind for most of this report is – a witch hunt.

And it appears that even right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton came to the same conclusion on Radio NZ on 16 December (listen:  Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams )

Hooton understands the nasty implications of this witch hunt and dodgy report; the same standard of nit-picking and guilt-by-innuendo can be levelled at every single political figure, of whatever political hue.

We should understand one simple fact; not one human being is perfect. Everyone – everyone – will stuff up, eventually. It is a given.

Don’t expect flawless actions from our elected representatives. We will  be disappointed.

However, I referred to most of this report  being a witch hunt.

There is an exception. Brown’s acceptance of free hotel upgrades from SkyCity was most unwise. In fact, I call it downright dumb.

Is it a “hanging offence” though? No, not quite.

But to accept freebies from a corporation that is currently attempting to gain financial and legislative benefits from central government, in a dodgy deal involving promises of  a “free” convention centre, suggests to me that Brown’s political acumen is badly lacking.

It suggests to me that he will keep screwing up because he has little concept of consequences.

Returning to right-wing blogger; National Party activist*; and one-time employee for various National ministers*, David Farrar – where does he get off demanding,

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public […]  I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland…

If the standard for resignation is now set at “publicly [lying] to the media and the public“, then we should start at the top: John Key.

Let’s look at his most latest blatant lie.

On 13 December, Fairfax media reported this statement from Dear Leader Key,

“… I can assure [Labour leader David] Cunliffe the books are in tip-top condition – that is the polar opposite position to what they were in when we became the Government. But in the last five years we’ve worked hard to turn them around… “

Source

That was a lie.

When National took office in 2008, Labour had paid down this country’s debt, as this simple Treasury graph shows quite clearly,

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Source

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Net debt was reduced from 20% of GDP to 5.6% by 2008.

Even Key admitted this in July 2012,

The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016….”

Source

And on 9 December on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ programme, when he was interviewed on the problem of growing child poverty in New Zealand, he said this (at 2.45);

If you go back to 2005, when the previous government were in office, they had a number, you know, a little bit less than ours, but not a lot less, there was a 180,000 children in poverty, I think this shows 240,000 on that measure.

Back then, New Zealand recorded the biggest surplus in New Zealand’s history...”

Source

Not only did the previous Labour government pay down our debt (which had been created by National in the 1990s), but then Finance Minister Michael Cullen posted some fairly impressive surpluses,

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Source

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For more information on the state of the economy under Labour’s watch, refer to this previous blogpost.

So Key and his National mates inherited a pretty well-run economy by November 2008 – just as the Global Financial Crisis was beginning to be felt in this country.

Comments such as  “under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance” are patently dishonest and a downright lie (source).

We have heard many such throwaway lines from Key, English, and other National ministers as they (a) try to discredit the former Labour Government’s creditable performance (b) blame their own fiscal mismanagement and shortcomings on their predecessor.

So when will Farrar be calling on Key to resign for lying to the media and public?

Short answer: never.

National doesn’t do Taking Responsibility very well. But oh boy, don’t they expect it from the rest of us?!

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(* Interestingly, the NBR makes no reference whatsoever to Farrar’s close National Party links.)

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 December 2013.

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Sources

John Key: Statement to Parliament 2011

Treasury: Debt

Trading Economics: Cash surplus/deficit (% of GDP) in New Zealand

TVNZ: Breakfast Show (9 Dec 2013)

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign (13 Dec 2013)

Fairfax:  Two-thirds of voters oppose asset sales (13 Dec 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

National’s disdain for taking responsibility

Taking responsibility, National-style

Hat-tip

Martyn Bradbury: Why I don’t care about Len Brown’s audit (13 Dec 2013)

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David Farrar on gender equality in Parliament…

10 July 2013 3 comments

Today on Twitter, David Farrar derided the movement for gender equality. Accordingly, I offered  my response,

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David Farrar on twitter re gender quotas 10 July 2013

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Farrar stated in his blogpost today,

“This is the policy that if used in the past, would have seen Labour gain no male List MPs in 1996, 1999 and 2002.  Michael Cullen would have failed to be elected as an  List MP, under this proposal. Daft.”

But as the Greens reported, National and it’s lackeys are the last ones who should be pontificating about gender equality in Parliament,

Gender break down of parties in Parliament
Party Female MPs Percentage

National: 15/60 – 25%
Labour:  12/34 – 35.3%
Green:  7/13 – 54%
NZ First: 3/8 – 37.5%
Maori Party:  1/3 – 33%

Source:  Scoop Media – National Party Undermines Percentage of Women in Parliament

With only a quarter of their MPs female, perhaps we should be focusing on what National is doing wrong, rather than what the Labour Party is trying to do right.

And maybe -just maybe – if the mainstream media wasn’t so keen and eager to jump on the ludicrous, nicely rhyming, “man ban” wagon, and actually thought through the issues, we might actually arrive at a more mature solution?

But maybe juvenile derision is easier for all concerned, eh?

What do you think, Mr Farrar?

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johnstewart_facepalm

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David Farrar – Challenging Slater for Sultan of Sleaze?

10 June 2013 4 comments

On Kiwiblog, on 4 June, David Farrar posted this curious item,

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Kiwiblog - A Question - Simon Lusk - Martyn Bradbury - David Farrar

Acknowledgment – Kiwiblog – A Question

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In effect, Kiwiblogger, David Farrar – a known contractor, supporter, and apparatchik for the  National Party – accused prominent progressive blogger, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury of a “shocking breach of ethics” by allegedly not disclosing being on the  “parliamentary payroll for the last 18 months to two years as a parliamentary communications advisor to a political party“.

More on problems with Mr Farrar’s own disclosures here:  Continuous disclosure

Is it true?!   Did Bradbury hide his links to the Mana Party?

Hardly. As Martyn’s own disclosure on The Daily Blog quite clearly states,

“He has appeared at numerous political and union functions over the last few years. He is a political consultant to organisations of the left and centre-left and argued for the creation of the MANA Party as a party to the Left of the Greens as a means for the Left to win back Parliament. Mr Bradbury also hosts the current affairs show ‘Citizen A’ on Face TV and was Editor in Residence at the Wintec School of Journalism. “

Acknowledgment – The Daily Blog – About Martyn Bradbury

So as a ‘Shock! Horror! Probe!’ story – it’s pretty much a non-story.  Anyone with two inter-connecting neuron-cells could’ve found  this info with  three mouse-clicks. (Has Farrar investigated whether David Shearer is a member of the Labour Party? That’d be a real revelation!!)

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is precisely where Farrar sourced his info from; Martyn’s own disclosure at The Daily Blog.

So, if it’s no secret, what was Farrar’s agenda in all this?

Slow news/blog night?

Boredom?

Or… was it a little more devious?

Let’s look behind this event…

Arch right-wing ‘shaker and mover’, Simon Lusk has been in the media lately, with his bizarre plans to move New Zealand politics to the right; capture and politicise  the civil service; “dominate” the media and blogosphere; seeking donations from American neo-conservatives;  and to increase his power-base in the National Party;

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National turns on hard right advisor

Acknowledgment – NZ Herald – National turns on hard right advisor

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Seriously happy to upset the status quo

Acknowledgment – Fairfax Media – Seriously happy to upset the status quo

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PM responds to secret plans to push the Nats to the right

Acknowledgment – NBR – PM responds to secret plans to push the Nats to the right

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So it’s fairly clear – there’s one helluva sh*t-storm going on behind the scenes in the National Party.

Recent headlines  at major blogs such as The Daily Blog, The Standard, and elsewhere,  have also focused on  Lusk and his machinations,

Breaking News: Dark plot about to be exposed within National Party

Lusk & Slater: Dirty Deeds Done Poorly

Will the mainstream media continue to use Cameron Slater as a commentator now he’s been exposed?

What the left can learn from Lusk

Many of the critiques were penned by Martyn Bradbury.

Was  Farrar’s   blogpost on   Martyn a random event?  Or is there a more sinister aspect to this story – especially as Farrar’s blogpost was  backed up by Cameron Slater on the same day – 4 June (see slimy Whalesoil blogpost:  Paid Blogger outed, It’s Martyn Bradbury).

The answer, I submit to the reader, can be found here;

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Acknowledgment – Fairfax Media – Anti-MMP plan leaked

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Lusk. Jordan. Farrar. Cameron Slater. A cabal of four known right-wingers, who are deeply connected with each other, socially and  politically.

And just to drive home the connection;.

Simon Lusk - David Farrar - Cameron Slater

Acknowledgment – Selection Training Weekend – Dates: Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th of january

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The above screen-cap was taken from a document outlining a “training session” from one of Lusk’s private “training camps” for wannabe National Party candidates. (More on those “training camps here:  National turns on hard right advisor)

Those are the the links.

It’s obvious to all that this has been a particularly nasty vendetta against Martyn by a small clique of rabid right-wing activists.

Martyn’s “crime”?

Being highly successful at being one of the best centre-left bloggers in this country and critic of the right wing agenda.

When the Right target you in such a deceptive, spiteful manner, it proves just how effective you are.  And how desperate the Right are becoming as the centre-left gains ascendency.

Well done, Martyn.

Carry on.

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References

Fairfax Media:  Anti-MMP plan leaked (29 May 2011)

Previous Related Blogpost

Power Struggle in the National Party?!

Some thoughts on the anti-MMP campaign

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Why a Four Year Parliamentary Term is not a Good Idea – Part Rua

29 March 2013 19 comments

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NZ_001

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On 7 February, Key called for the Parliamentary term to be increased from three to four years.

This issue was canvassed in two previous referenda in 1968 and 1990. More than two-thirds of voters wisely voted to keep it at three years.

According to polling, the public response is narrower this time. Perhaps in part to the same polling method that seems to show National with 50%-plus support amongst the public.

This blogger thoroughly rejects any notion  to increase the Parliamentary term.

As I wrote previously in The Daily Blog, there are compelling reasons to deny politicians an additional year in office;

1. Attacks on Critics

Governments become arrogant over time, and National’s (mis)-treatment over it critics should give us great cause for concern.

The following is a  list of just  some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided in return;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

March, 2013

Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

When Annette Sykes criticised the appointment of sportswoman Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner, Minister Judith Collins responded with “Annette Sykes is a stupid person”. That’s how National views critics.

There is a degree of  vindictiveness to how National ministers deal with their criticism – and it ain’t pretty, Billy-Bob.

In addition, John Key’s response to  anti-asset sales opposition has revealed glimpses of his arrogance and dismissal of public concerns.

2. Public Opposition

As I wrote in The Daily Daily, on 4 May 2012,  over five thousand people took part in a peaceful,  anti-asset sales Hikoi to Parliament,

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Aotearoa is not for sale hikoi - anti asset sales march   - wellington - 4 May 2012

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Key’s response was instructive,

“How many people did they have? John Key asked reporters. “Where was it? Nope wasn’t aware of it.”

Key says the National Party has a clear mandate to proceed with privatising some state assets.

“Well over a million New Zealanders voted for National in the full knowledge we were going to undertake the mixed ownership model,” he said.

“So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn’t going to change my mind.”

Source: Key unfazed as protesters descend on Parliament

Nearly a year later, on 12 March, a 392,000-plus signature petition was presented to Parliament. The petition  was  signed by ordinary New Zealanders who wanted nothing more or less than a say in their future.

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12-march-2013-presentation-of-anti-asset-sales-petition-parliament-referendum

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Key’s response?

Key said of the opposition petition you could be as “sure as little green apples [that] huge numbers of them are not bona fide names on the list” and would have to be struck off.

“They’ve probably taken over a year to get maybe 300,000 names, we’ve had 285,000 pre-registrations in a matter of days”.

Source: Government to ignore asset sales referendum

And according to Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, Key further disparaged New Zealanders who signed  the petition by saying,

“…that the Prime Minister has said the people who signed this are children and tourists….”

Source: IBID

Charming.

We should be under no illusion that National ministers view any form of criticism or opposition with disdain. Key himself is contemptuous of  anyone who dares cross him.

Who in their right minds would want to give politicians an extra year to look down on us, as if we were grubby peasants, not worthy of their time and attention?

3. Unbridled Power?

Never forget that we are governed by an “elected dictatorship”,

  • There is no Upper House to scrutinise legislation from governments.
  • There is no written constitution to safeguard our interests.
  • Referenda have all the ‘bite’ of a toothless octagenarian (not that I support binding referenda – especially without Constitutional safeguards to protect the rights of minorities).
  • There are no mid-term elections; right-of-recall; Presidential Veto; or any other controls over elected representatives.

Once elected, unless a Member of Parliament is found guilty of a lewd act with a sheep, we have zero control over them.

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In conclusion

One of the main arguments in support of a Four Year Term is that three years is not sufficient time  for a government…

To which I respond with this;

That statement is never completed. It gives government more time to achieve – what? What incredibly complex, radical reforms are there that require an extra year (or more) for a government to have more time? What does Key have in mind that demands a four year term?

Remember that Select Committees work in unison, not one at a time, and Legislation can be passed in as little as 48 hours – as “The Hobbit Law” showed us (see: Helen Kelly – The Hobbit Dispute) – not that I’m advocating legislative changes conducted at warp speed.

Perhaps governments might have “more time to achieve things” if time wasn’t wasted with petty point-scoring in the Debating Chamber?  (see: Making Bold With The Speaker’s Chair)

As National-aligned blogger, David Farrar,  said in the NZ Herald on 25 March,

“People do feel three years is not long enough to judge. With a four-year term, more Governments might get chucked out after one term because people would say, ‘It’s been four years, we should have seen some impact.”‘

Really, Mr Farrar?

Funny thing…

National has now been in power for over four years.

What have they achieved in that time?

  • growing child poverty?
  • rising unemployment?
  • large numbers continuing to migrate to Australia?
  • wage cuts for 16-19 year olds?
  • taxpayer funded subsidies for Big Business?
  • taxcuts for the rich?
  • increased GST and other government charges for the poor?
  • lowing environbment standards and more pollution?
  • continuing attacks on the unemployed, solo-mums, etc?
  • no job creation policies?
  • continuing attacks on worker’s rights?
  • no comprehensive training for 85,000+ unemployed youth?
  • importing foreign workers instead of training our own unemployed?
  • state asset sales despite over-whelming opposition?
  • high dollar damanging our export sector?
  • more dodgy deals like pokie-machines for Skycity?
  • increasing foreign debt?
  • closing schools?
  • planned mining in Conservation lands?
  • etc, etc, etc…

As pro-National blogger David Farrar stated,

“It’s been four years, we should have seen some impact.”‘

Damn right, Mr  Farrar, damn right.

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When you stop voting

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Previous related blogpost

Why a Four Year Parliamentary Term is not a Good Idea  (15 March 2013)

References

Wikipedia: Election Day (United States)

NZ Herald: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key (17 Feb 2011)

NZ Herald: PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims (3 May 2011)

NZ Herald: Charities’ food handouts at record after Govt cuts (18 Oct 2011)

TVNZ: Key unfazed as protesters descend on Parliament (4 May 2012)

Fairfax media: PM John Key Wants Four-Year Term For Parliament (7 Feb 2013)

Fairfax media: Government to ignore asset sales referendum (12 March 2013)

NZ Herald:  Voters divided on four-year term  (25 March 2013)

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= fs =

David Farrar stirs the bullshit pot

19 February 2013 9 comments

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Wait come back - you forgot your bullshit

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Reported today (19 Feb) in the NZ Herald,

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is facing criticism for hiring a sixth “spin doctor” six months out from the official start of the local body elections.

[…]

Blogger David Farrar has questioned whether ratepayers are funding Mr Brown’s re-election campaign.

In a post on his Kiwiblog site titled “Len’s gaggle of spin doctors”, Mr Farrar said Mr Brown’s hiring of Dan Lambert took his tally of spin doctors to six – more than the entire parliamentary Labour Party.

Labour has five parliamentary press secretaries and a part-time speech writer for 34 MPs. Prime Minister John Key has four press secretaries and one media assistant.

See: Mayor heavy on ‘spin doctors

The Herald story, written by Bernard Orsman, seemed so unlikely that I searched out Kiwiblog to see if Farrar’s comments were accurately reported.

Indeed they were.

Len’s gaggle of spin doctors

February 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Len Brown has just hired his sixth spin doctor. That’s six spin doctors, all funded by the ratepayer, working in Len’s private office. That isn’t six spin doctors for the entire Auckland Council. That is six spin doctors just for Len.

Started this month is Dan Lambert as Len’s propaganda manager. He comes from the United Kingdom.

Dan joins Glyn Jones who was the chief spin doctor, and who is now called Media Communications Manager.

Len also has a senior press secretary, a communications advisor, former Clark spin doctor David Lewis as a media consultant and a speech writer on top of that.

Len has more spin doctors than the entire Parliamentary Labour Party (they have five). The previous Mayor of Auckland had just one – Cameron Brewer.

Should Auckland ratepayers be funding Len’s reelection campaign?

Talking of the election, isn’t it time also for C&R and their friends in Auckland to get their shit together and select a Mayoral candidate. Otherwise Len and his six spin doctors will have too easy a time of it.

Source

Now, despite the fact that Farrar is a National Party supporter/member and has worked for successive National governments – one might still expect him to report such issues with perhaps a measure of balance.

Because the way he tells it, leaves a whole lot out of the picture.

Especially when Cameron Brewer in the same NZ Herald article said “nobody would be able to match Mr Brown’s army of spin doctors, advisers and consultants“.

Mr Brewer has also worked as a former spin doctor to ex-Auckland City Mayor John Banks, ex-Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, and very ex-Act leader Rodney Hide.

Farrar mis-represented the issue by omission.

Brewer mis-represented the issue with an outright lie.

If citizens really want to look at where their tax-dollars are going to, I would refer the reader’s attention to an article written by  NBR’s Matt Nippert, in August 2010,  about the Prime Minister’s Office. (This article is now behind a paywall, but an excerpt can be found on Bryce Edward’s “Liberation” blog.)

Entitled ‘Panic station: policy quashing on the ninth floor of the Beehive’, Matt Nippert wrote,

“…the ninth floor of the Beehive contains the most spinners and advisers in New Zealand history. Whereas Helen Clark employed six communications staff in her office, currently seven staff in the PMO are listed as having communications roles.  And whereas Miss Clark’s chief of staff Heather Simpson managed two political advisers, Mr Eagleson has five reporting to him along with Mr de Joux as a deputy.”

Secondary Source: National’s ‘panic pants’ spin-doctors

In September 2010, Bryce Edwards, political lecturer at University of Otago, wrote,

The PMO has about 25 highly-professional staff working in it. Under Helen Clark’s rule, Heather Simpson (pictured on the right) was of course the head of the unit, and thus the second in command of the Labour Government. Simpson’s replacement is Wayne Eagleson, who like Heather Simpson is highly aversive to both media scrutiny and political risk.

In his unit of about 25, he has people working for him such as Kevin Taylor (Chief Press Secretary), Phil de Joux (Deputy Chief of Staff, former head of the National Party research unit), Sarah Boyle (Senior Adviser; apparently a “guru of the Official Information Act”), Stephen Woodhouse (Senior Private Secretary), Grant Johnston (Chief Policy Adviser; former Treasury policy wonk and partner of columnist Joanne Black), Jason Ede (Senior Adviser), Nicola Willis (Senior Advisor), Lesley Hamilton (Press Secretary), and Paula Oliver (Press Secretary). Some of these ‘shadowy people’ we already know something of, but generally their immense power is unexamined.

Source: IBID

Currently, according to the Prime Minister’s own website, just one group numbered over a dozen,

Policy Advisory Group

The Policy Advisory Group was formally established in 1990 within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). Prior to that time, policy advisory services were provided through the forerunners of DPMC.

The Group consists of a director and 13 policy advisors, with a range of skills and experience including legal, business, economic and social policy.  The mix of skills changes from time to time, with changes in staff.

The role of the Policy Advisory Group is to support the Prime Minister as leader of the Government…

… From time to time Advisors lead policy projects specially commissioned by the Prime Minister to “cut through” on issues of significance.

Source

And there’s more here about the Department of Prime Minister’s Office: About DPMC.

But of course, none of this merit’s Mr Farrar’s attention. The Prime Minister may have 25 (or more, by now) spin-doctors – but the owner of Kiwiblog prefers instead to focus on the mayor of Auckland with his supposed six advisors.

This was not always the case.  Once upon a time, Mr Farrar was very concerned about the numbers of communication staff working for the government and it’s various Departments,

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kiwiblog - $47 million a year on Govt “spin doctors”

Source

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But that was under a Labour government.

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= fs =

A Slave By Any Other Name (#Rua)

10 March 2012 1 comment

Further from my Analysis of Farrar’s opinion piece on abuse of Indonesian seamen on Foreign Chartered Vessels;  A Slave By Any Other Name,

#1

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Exploitation of workers: bad

Safeguards for workers: good

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#2

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Exploitation of workers: ok

Safeguards for workers: meh

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Just clearing up Mr Farrar’s position on workers rights;  job security;  decent conditions; and fair pay.

Ok, carry on.

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A Slave By Any Other Name…

9 March 2012 5 comments

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slavery

slav·er·y

[sley-vuh-ree, sleyv-ree]
noun
1. the condition of a slave;  bondage.
2. the keeping of slaves  as a practice or institution.
3. a state of subjection like that of a slave: He was kept in slavery by drugs.
4. severe toil; drudgery.
Origin:
1545–55; slave  + -ery

Related forms
pre·slav·er·y, adjective, noun

Synonyms
1.  thralldom, enthrallment. Slavery, bondage, servitude  refer to involuntary subjection to another or others. Slavery  emphasizes the idea of complete ownership and control by a master: to be sold into slavery. Bondage  indicates a state of subjugation or captivity often involving burdensome and degrading labor: in bondage to a cruel master. Servitude  is compulsory service, often such as is required by a legal penalty: penal servitude. 4.  moil, labor.

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doublethink

dou·ble·think

[duhb-uhl-thingk]
noun
the acceptance of two contradictory ideas or beliefs at the same time.
Origin:
double  + think;  coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984  (1949)

– n    
deliberate, perverse, or unconscious acceptance or promulgation of conflicting facts, principles, etc

Dictionary.com

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Last week, right-wing blogger; pollster; and National Party activist, David Farrar wrote this eye-opening piece for the NZ Herald,

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Full Story

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The story revolves around abuse, violence,  and exploitation of foreign seamen on Foreign Charter Vessels, as this Department of Labour media statement outlined on 5 March,

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Department of Labour takes tough action against Foreign Charter Vessel

The Department of Labour has found that there was major non-compliance with the Code of Practice on Foreign Fishing Crew and the Approval in Principle (AIP) to employ foreign crew by the New Zealand charterers of the ship, the Shin Ji.

The Department started its investigation into the Shin Ji after crew walked off the ship in protest at the conditions they were facing last June.

The Code of Practice requires payment of the minimum wage plus $2 per hour for actual hours worked, but in no case less than 42 hours per week over the course of the engagement. Deductions may not take wages below the minimum wage for all hours worked.

The New Zealand Charter Party is required to keep accurate records and make these records available to the Department on request, but insufficient documents were provided to make a full financial assessment on crew remuneration. As a result the Department was unable to verify whether the crew of the Shin Ji had been paid their minimum requirements or whether AIP and Code of Practice conditions were met.

In addition, there were allegations of mistreatment made by several crew that present a prima facie case that the provisions of the Code of Practice in relation to fishers’ welfare were not met. A final conclusion could not be made in this area as the New Zealand Charter Party Administrator, Tu’ere Fishing, failed to respond to these allegations.

The Department has now decided that all work visas under the most recent AIP will be cancelled.

The acting head of Immigration New Zealand, Steve Stuart, says the sanctions imposed by the Department show how seriously breaches of the Code of Practice are taken and reflect a tougher approach by the Department.

“Our auditors have carried out a meticulous and thorough investigation and it shows very clearly that the New Zealand Charter Party failed to comply with the Code,” Mr Stuart says.

The Government has already accepted a recommendation by the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels (FCVs) to update the Code of Practice and strengthen the immigration approval process for crew.

The Department is also to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of FCVs and increase the thoroughness of inspections. The Department has improved its auditing system, with the first audits being undertaken by external auditors next month.

Source

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A Ministerial Inquiry released a similar report, highly critical of crew-abuses on FCVs,

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Foreign Charter Vessels Inquiry report released

Thursday, 1 March 2012, 12:43 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon David Carter
Minister for Primary Industries
Hon Kate Wilkinson
Minister of Labour

The Government has resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters, say Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The Ministers today released the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels.

The Inquiry, which was initiated by the Government last year, focused on several issues, including labour standards and protecting New Zealand’s reputation.

Mr Carter says the Inquiry panel has done a thorough job.

“The report is clear that the issues are not widespread in the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, but they are serious where they occur and need to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, backed by legislative change,” says Mr Carter.

The 15 recommendations touch on a wide range of ministerial portfolios, including fisheries, labour, immigration, transport and foreign affairs and trade.

The Government has already decided to accept in principle, and act on, the Inquiry Panel’s first six recommendations.

The first three recommendations are for practical improvements that can be addressed quickly, and in some cases are already being made.

“The recommendations include updating the Code of Practice and strengthening the immigration approval process – both of which will help ensure better conditions for workers on FCVs,” says Ms Wilkinson.

“We will also be adopting a recommendation that the New Zealand fishing companies chartering foreign vessels have to show the Code is being followed. This is a significant move as it puts the onus on those companies, rather than the Department of Labour, which currently has to prove the Code has been breached.”

The Department of Labour is also to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs and increase the frequency and thoroughness of inspections.

MAF is to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs, including placing an observer on all FCVs fishing in New Zealand waters and considering non-fisheries offences when making FCV registration decisions.

Maritime New Zealand is to strengthen enforcement of FCV compliance with maritime safety standards.

Recommendations 4 to 6 propose closer inter-agency co-operation, to be overseen by an inter-agency steering group. This includes setting up a pilot programme for at-sea monitoring of compliance with fisheries, vessel safety and labour standards – targeting high-risk FCVs.

The remaining recommendations cover legislative amendments, ratifying international conventions, and significant policy changes. The Government is further considering the Inquiry Panel’s report and these recommendations before announcing any decisions.

View Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels Report:

http://www.dol.govt.nz/News/Media/2012/foreign-charter-vessels-2012-ministerial.asp

http://www.maf.govt.nz/news-resources/news

Source

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Foreign Charter Vessels are a means for local fishing companies to use cheap labour to fish New Zealand’s 200km territorial waters. It can be a profitable operation, paying crews from mostly Third World or developing countries such as Indonesia, much lower rates of pay than their New Zealand counterparts. (Congratulations to ourselves – we’ve found a way to import “sweat shops” from Asia to our territorial waters.)

The Seafood Industry Council (SEAFic) made this statement about Foreign Charter Vessels on their website. It is important to note that, as SEAFic stated quite clearly,

A charter vessel from another country is not foreign countries catching our fish – it is a hired vessel working for a New Zealand-owned company.

This is important because although the “charter vessel is from another country” – it is still covered by New Zealand law. That includes labour legislation such as minimum wages. The crew cannot be paid under the minimum wage ($13.50 per hour) whilst operating in our territory. SEAFic goes on to’paint a picture’ outlining the obligations of Foreign Charter Vessels to follow NZ law,

Chartering a vessel to catch your quota is like hiring a bus to get your sports team to another town.  You wouldn’t buy a bus just for the one trip.  The bus driver, who is trained and qualified to do the job, comes with the bus.  You cannot ask the driver to do anything outside the law.  You cannot, for example, let the driver continue driving without break for excessive hours, even if he or she wants to.

Furthermore, as SEAFic explained,

The crews of charter vessels are entitled to the same employment rights and conditions as anyone working in New Zealand. However, the crews do not qualify for social support services or ACC and therefore do not cost the taxpayer.

And,

The crews of charter vessels are entitled to the same employment rights and conditions as anyone working in New Zealand. However, the crews do not qualify for social support services or ACC and therefore do not cost the taxpayer.

The Ministerial Inquiry found that not only were FCVs violently abusing their crews, but were not paying them properly. Any complaint from a crewmember often resulted in that crewman being removed from the Vessel; shipped back home; and not paid for any of his work,

The terms of the first contract, the “real” one, would later haunt him. In it, IMS spelled out terms with no rights. In addition to the agent’s commission, Yusril would surrender 30 percent of his salary, which IMS would hold unless the work was completed. He would be paid nothing for the first three months, and if the job were not finished to the fishing company’s satisfaction, Yusril would be sent home and charged more than $1,000 for the airfare. The meaning of “satisfactory” was left vague. The contract said only that Yusril would have to work whatever hours the boat operators demanded. ” – Source

Crew members were also abused, assaulted, and sexually harassed,

The boatswain would grab crew members’ genitals as they worked or slept. When the captain of the ship drank, he molested some of the crew, kicking those who resisted. As nets hauled in the catch — squid, ling, hoki, hake, grouper, southern blue whiting, jack mackerel, and barracuda — the officers shouted orders from the bridge. They often compelled the Indonesians to work without proper safety equipment for up to 30 hours, swearing at them if they so much as asked for coffee or a bathroom break. Even when fishermen were not hauling catches, 16-hour workdays were standard. ” – Ibid

This abuse came to the attention of the US media and various companies that bought the product that had been caught and processed by FCV crews. The article below was written for a major US business website, and reveals cases of violence and exploitation on FCVs contracted to New Zealand companies, and working in New Zealand’s territorial waters. I encourage people to read it,

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Full Story

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To put it mildly, American clients and the US government were not happy. No company wants to have it’s reputation tarnished by allegations of slave labour associated with their product. Customers tend to feel queasy buying something they know was produced by another human being who was treated as a slave. Not a good look.

And up till now, New Zealand has being getting away with it because,

Asked about allegations that FCVs in New Zealand employ slave labor, [Ashley] Hawkins said [U.S. supermarket chain] Whole Foods is “in compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New Zealand is not considered high-risk.” “- Ibid

It seems that our luck has run out, and National has had to sit up and take notice,

“The Government has resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters, say Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The Ministers today released the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels.

The Inquiry, which was initiated by the Government last year, focused on several issues, including labour standards and protecting New Zealand’s reputation.

Mr Carter says the Inquiry panel has done a thorough job.

“The report is clear that the issues are not widespread in the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, but they are serious where they occur and need to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, backed by legislative change,” says Mr Carter.” – Source

Which brings us back to Mr Farrar’s opinion-piece in the NZ Herald on 2 March.

As described at the beginning of this piece, Farrar is a right wing blogger and National Party activist. Which makes his ‘Herald’ opinion piece somewhat more surprising.

Farrar repeats the background litany of abuse that the FCV fishermen have been subjected to,

A failure to pay minimum wages under NZ law (which the FCVs have agreed to do) is the least of the abuses. They get told they will lose the little pay they do get unless they lie to the NZ authorities about how much they are paid. Any complaints can see them lose bonds worth more than their earnings. They are forced to work long and dangerous hours with no regard for safety.

But even worse than there, there are several documented cases of physical violence, sexual abuse and even rape of the (mainly Indonesian) staff who work on these vessels. They are basically treated as slaves during their incarceration on the vessels. Actually many slaves in the Roman republic were treated better, than what has happened to these workers in our territorial waters.

At this point, it is worth reminding ourselves that Farrar is a member of National – a right wing political party that does not like trade unions very much. As National MP, Jami-Lee Ross, said on 11 January, about the Ports of Auckland industrial dispute,

This is in fact a story of the Maritime Union biting the hand that feeds them. It is a story of industrial action that, if left to go on much longer, could have disastrous consequences for the Ports of Auckland…

Up until recently, cool heads and rational people sitting around negotiating tables have meant that little focus has been placed on the role that unions play in society. However, with the bare-faced mockery that the Maritime Union is making of civilised negotiations New Zealanders will soon begin to question what position unions should hold in the modern Kiwi workplace.” – Source

Traditionally, National  has always been anti-Union and pro-business. That’s just the way it is.

Farrar has stated that,

“I do not regard National as always right, but it is the party which I believe gives me the greatest opportunity to achieve the New Zealand I want.” – Source

So what to make of Farrar lamenting the condition of workers on FCVs,

These abuses have gone on for far too long. New Zealand has even ended up on the watch list of the US State Department whose annual Trafficking in Persons Report mentions fishing in New Zealand as a problem area.”

Or this part, which bears a remarkable similarity to Union-style concerns,

New Zealand law and policies require staff on board FCVs to be paid the at least $2 an hour over the New Zealand minimum wage, or $2,700 a month gross for a 42 hour week. But in reality many of the Indonesian fishers get paid little more than $150 a month or less than $1 an hour. They get told they must sign two employment contracts – one for the NZ authorities, and the real one which details a much lower rate of pay.”

If one were to be generous, it could be asumed that the sickening abuse of FCV fishermen is a step too far even for a hardened rightwinger like Farrar. A free labour market market is one thing – but slavery? Nah, that’s the line he will not cross. In fact, Farrar even says,

“They are basically treated as slaves during their incarceration on the vessels. Actually many slaves in the Roman republic were treated better, than what has happened to these workers in our territorial waters.

It is interesting that Farrar uses the term “slaves” – twice! – and once in the title of his opinion piece! – but more on that shortly.

If, however, one were to read “between the lines”, certain aspects of his piece offer another motive for his (faux?) concerns,

These vessels fish in our exclusive economic zone, on behalf of NZ companies that have quota allocations in different fish stocks…

New Zealand has even ended up on the watch list of the US State Department whose annual Trafficking in Persons Report mentions fishing in New Zealand as a problem area…

The Ministerial inquiry has not recommended phasing out the use of FCVs. The main reason for this is it seems there is not enough capacity in New Zealand to fish all of our quota ourselves. This surprises me with so many people unemployed, but I guess not many people want to be out at sea for weeks or months at a time. There are also issues of capital and specialist equipment…

This means that even these changes may prove ineffective, and the eventual solution may have to be require all vessels fishing in our EEZ to be New Zealand flagged ships. This would have adverse economic consequences…”

Taking these comments into consideration, the subtext appears to be  one that is more alligned with economic concerns – i.e. “adverse economic consequences” as Farrar himself says at the end.

So, which is it; a hidden streak of concern for workers and their rights which heretofore has never been seen in David Farrar?

Or a deep concern that these abuses are an annoying distraction which might have “adverse economic consequences” on our profit/loss end-of-year bottomline?

Luckily, we have Mr Farrar’s own blog, Kiwiblog, upon which to draw further insights from.

David Shearer says Labour is not taking sides the in Ports of Auckland dispute, but here are two of his MPs on the picket line.

I guess they have no choice as the Maritime Union is actually an affiliate member of the Labour Party, and one of their donors. Not even the documented examples of union hostility to female and non European workers is enough to shake their support of the union.” – Labour Not taking sides, 27 February 2012

Strangely, Farrar states that “here are two of his MPs on the picket line” at the Maritime Union/Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) dispute – as if it were a bad thing?

Can it be that Mr Farrar disapproves, or may even be hostile, to the POAL workers who are on strike? Let’s keep reading further blogposts from Mr Farrar,

Phil Twyford blogs:

Len Brown was elected the people’s mayor on a wave of support across west and south Auckland. People opted decisively for his plan for public transport, and a modern inclusive vision for the city that embraced the young, the brown and working people.

Which makes it puzzling that he is choosing to stand by and watch while his port subsidiary tries to contract out 300 jobs. …

It is all the more puzzling given the Mayor’s commitment to reducing social inequality, reflected in the excellent Auckland Plan. It is hard to see how we are going to build a more prosperous and inclusive city by stripping the city’s employees of their work rights and job security. …

It is time for Len Brown and his Council to rethink their demand for a 12% return, and replace it with something reasonable and not excessive. He should tell the port company casualisation is not an acceptable approach to employment relations in a port owned by the people of Auckland.

This is the same Phil Twyford who spent years saying that Wellington should not dictate to Auckland, yet is now trying to bully Len Brown into putting the interests of the Labour Party (for the Maritime Union is part of the Labour Party) ahead of the interests of Auckland.

Len knows he would be toast if he kneecapped a Council subsidiary, just to please the Labour caucus in Wellington.” – Maritime Union wants total control, 29 February 2012

After weeks and months of strikes, and a growing loss of business to other ports, it was inevitable that Ports of Auckland would go down the only viable path left to them, which is contracting out.

The Herald reports:

Ports of Auckland said the decision to introduce “competitive stevedoring ” was partly the result of the impact of long running industrial action on its business.

Redundancies would begin later next week, with striking staff encouraged to apply for new positions, he said.

“This decision has not been made lightly, but we believe it is vital to ensuring a successful and sustainable future for the Port, including protecting jobs over the long term,” he said.

Ports of Auckland Chairman Richard Pearson said the company’s priority was to win back lost business.

“This decision will reassure the wider market and customers that we plan to achieve a sustainable lift in the port’s competitiveness as soon as possible.

One can’t continue with a situation where you get paid for 43 hours and only actually work 28.” – Maritime Union succeeds in getting their workers sacked, 7 March 2012

Oh, dear, not looking terribly good for poor Mr Farrar. His comments above do not seem to be very sympathetic to striking workers – workers who are not seeking higher pay as their main claim, but are desperately trying  to stop POAL employers from casualising the work force and contracting out their jobs to stevedoring companies.

And next,

Last night on 3 News they interviewed a couple of staff working at the Port of Tauranga. What a stark difference it was to the Ports of Auckland. They talked of a culture of getting the job done, and even pride about increasing efficiency.  An extract:

Throughout the Auckland dispute, the Port Of Tauranga has been held up as an example of how Auckland could operate – profits are at a record high, and the port seems to have a contented workforce which gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

David Hone has worked at the port for 18 years and, like 90 percent of employees, is a shareholder in the company.

He says “working in a place that you’re part owner [of]” means he’s more invested in the success of the business.

It’s one of the key reasons the port is so successful, according to chief executive Mark Cairns.

“If you have a stake in a company your behaviour changes when you’re an employee,” he says.

I’m a huge fan of employees being shareholders, and POT seem to be a great example of how well this can work. It is such a shame that Mike Lee a few years back deprived POAL employees of this opportunity.

Profits and efficiency do not need to be the enemy of having a happy workforce. It is just when dinosaur unions get in the way, that it does not happen. Look what has happened at POAL since the unionised staff went off the job:

Ports of Auckland chairman Richard Pearson says flexible rosters increase productivity and the 50 non-union workers have proved that.

“We’re operating at a 25 percent production improvement on what we were achieving 3 or 4 weeks ago before the strike,” he says.

“They don’t want to go slow so they can get another shift, they just want to work.”

Imagine the incentive at the moment. If you can delay a ship for another 90 minutes, then you get an extra eight hours pay.

There’s a lot of focus at the moment on the possible expansion of the Port into the harbour more. POAL makes the point that if they can lift labour productivity by a conservative 20% it would give them the equivalent of two new berths, allowing the Port to accommodate five extra ship calls each week.” – What a difference, 8 March 2012

Ok, it’s fairly clear that David Farrar has little or no concern for workers on the Ports of Auckland – workers who are his fellow Kiwis.

So one has to view his faux concern for workers rights on Foreign Charter Vessels with a little more than just a passing suspicion.

Farrar stated that,

“They are basically treated as slaves during their incarceration on the vessels. Actually many slaves in the Roman republic were treated better, than what has happened to these workers in our territorial waters.

It is interesting that Farrar refer to the term “slaves” in the context of the Indonesian fishermen on Korean FCVs.

The Maritime Union – representing it’s members – is struggling to preserve hard-won conditions that have been built up over the years. Without a Union, workers in this country would be abused; cheated out of wages – or paid a subsistance sum; exploited; over-worked; expected to work in dangerous conditions, risking injury or worse; and generally treated like… slaves.

The Indonesian fishermen had no Union to protect their rights. And strangely, New Zealand observers had reportedly “seen nothing untoward,

When asked for comment, Chief Executive Officer Eric Barratt said Sanford’s observers, which the company placed on all their foreign-chartered vessels (FCVs), reported that the ships “don’t have any issues with labor abuse.” – Source

Remarkably, Farrar sees nothing incongruous with his clearly-stated anti-Union beliefs.

Either he is incredibly naive – or else is a skilled practitioner at the art of ‘doublethink’. Perhaps he truly believes that workers do not need the protection of trade unions? And that all employers will treat their workers fairly?

Shall we ask some crewmen from Korean FCVs whether they need a Union or not?

Or perhaps they can rely on their Korean ‘masters’ to treat them well and pay them fairly?

What say you, Mr Farrar?

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Addendum

In October last year,  SEAFic stated,

‘We need more cheap foreign fishermen’

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New Zealand’s fishing industry needs more cheap Asian labour not less, the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) told a ministerial inquiry into the use of foreign charter vessels.

FCVs, flagged in mainly Asian states, operate New Zealand’s deep sea fishery with around 2000 low wage crews from Third World countries.

SeaFIC says New Zealand-flagged fishing boats cannot get local crews and they now want to import low wage labour as well.” – Source

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Previous Blogposts

Is this where New Zealand is heading?

Foreign fishing boats, Hobbits, and the National Guvmint

Additional Reading

Radio NZ: Parliament debates Hobbit law change

Helen Kelly (NZ Council of Trade Unions): The Hobbit Dispute

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill

Legislative History: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 No 120, Public Act

Slavery and Food Security: The Fishing Fleet

‘Model’ fishers face grim charges

References

NZ Govt: Ministerial inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels

Seafood Industry Council: Charter Vessels

Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) Foreign Charter Vessels Submission

Seafood industry fact file

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Propaganda as an industrial dispute weapon?

27 February 2012 14 comments

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Whilst the Labour Party is taking great pains to keep an impartial, neutral position on the port dispute in Auckland – the PoAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) shows no such inclination toward restrained behaviour.

According to a recent report by Fairfax Media, PoAL has taken another step to ratcheting up the dispute with a new (and somewhat bizarre) propaganda tactic,

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Full Story

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A casual check of two right wing blogs – one with strong National Party connections – yielded the following result,

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Source

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Source

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Sending out a Press Release on the progress of negotiations is one thing.

But for a company such as PoAL to send information specifically to right wing blogs, that publish material from employers on a no-questions-asked basis,  is something relatively new to our industrial scene.

This is obviously a propaganda campaign – though one wonders what might be the purpose of such a campaign. Considering that probably 99% of Auckland ratepayers have never heard of “Kiwiblog”, and even fewer  “Cactus Kate” – feeding those two bloggers might appear to be somewhat of a pointless exercise.

Unless, of course, they are expecting David Farrar to parrot that information on his column in the NZ Herald? (And what would “Cactus Kate” do with her “Ports of Auckland Fact Sheet”?)

This should give cause for concern for PoAL’s shareholders – in this case the Auckland City Council (through it’s holding company, Auckland Council Investments Limited).

Whatever actions taken by the PoAL Board and especially it’s CEO, Tony Gibson, will ultimately reflect on the Auckland City Council, and it’s mayor, Len Brown.

At this point, I am wondering what Auckland councillors and mayor are thinking, knowing that their company is engaging in some weird propaganda exercise with two right-wing bloggers? Actually, do they even know?!

Is this professional behaviour from a Chief Executive who commands a $750,000 annual salary (+ perks) – eight times the figure allegedly paid to maritime workers?

PoAL’s behaviour suggests that there is not a shred of “goodwill” on their part to resolve the port dispute with it’s workers. Any such suggestion would be laughable. Instead, the propaganda campaign marks nothing less than open warfare designed to undermine their Union, and by default, the entire employer-employee negotiations.

Not exactly the best way to engender good relations, loyalty, or productivity from staff?!

Whilst David Shearer and Len Brown have adopted a “hands-off” stance, to allow both parties to come to a resolution, it appears that PoAL have no hesitation in “getting down and dirty” in this fight. Which means that whilst the port workers are effectively on their own – the Right are mounting a more and more agressive campaign, and bringing in every ally they can muster.

Some might say this is “class war”. And to be honest, it appears more and more that way every passing day.

This is not resolution – this is escalation.

Who will PoAL call upon next?

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Sent to Mayor Len Brown

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from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Len Brown <len.brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM
subject:    Port Dispute – Escalation?

Sir,

As you may or may not be aware, Ports of Auckland Ltd have taken to sending information to right wing blogs – namely “Kiwiblog” and “Cactus Kate” – regarding an alleged Ernst & Young “audit” of PoAL employees salaries.

This audit was released only to right wing bloggers (as far as I am aware), and not to the media.

Questions arising from PoAL’s actions,

1. Were you and Council members aware that PoAL was engaging in the release of such an inflammatory report to selected recipients?

2. Is it policy from Auckland Council that ratepayer-owned businesses engage in such provocative and unprofessional behaviour, in the midst of an industrial dispute?

3. Do you, and Council, believe that such provocative behaviour is indicative of “goodwill bargaining” by employers?

4. Does Auckland Council endorse these tactics from PoAL?

5. What was the purpose of PoAL releasing this “audit” to right-wing bloggers?

6. After this release of information, do you and Council still have confidence in PoAL chief Excecutive, Tony Gibson, who appears to be engaging in escalation rather than negotiation?

In case you have not see the material I am referring to, the relevant information is here: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/propaganda-as-an-industrial-dispute-weapon/

It is my assessment that Mr Gibson’s position of PoAL chief executive has become untenable, as he has alienated his workforce and resorted to tactics that are inflammatory. His actions in sending material to rightwing bloggers cannot be considered anything except highly provocative. One must question Mr Gibson’s  judgement in engaging in such unprofessional behaviour.

As mayor and leader of Auckland, responsibility for resolving this confrontation devolves to you, Mr Brown. Mr Gibson seems unable (or unwilling, for reasons known only to himself) to resolve this dispute.

It is time, sir, for you to take immediate and decisive action.

It is time for Mr Gibson to step down as CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd.

It is time for a new CEO to be appointed – one who can engage with maritime workers and act constructively to resolve this dispute.

Regards,
– Frank Macskasy
Blogger
Frankly Speaking

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from:    Mayor Len Brown Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM
subject:    Thank you for contacting Mayor Len Brown

On behalf of Mayor Len Brown, thank you for your email.

The Mayor receives a large volume of correspondence and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Kind regards,
Office of the Mayor
Auckland Council – Te Kaunihera O Tamāki Makaurau

http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
Follow Len Brown on Facebook & Twitter

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After a month, the following reply is received from Mayor Brown’s office,

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from:    Mayor Len Brown Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM
subject:    RE: Port Dispute – Escalation?
    

Dear Frank,

Thank you for contacting Mayor Len Brown regarding the current dispute at the Ports of Auckland. I am responding on his behalf and please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding to you.

Mayor Brown’s position is to continue to encourage both sides of the dispute to return to the negotiating table and bargain in good faith on the collective agreement.

Both sides are aware of the need for a sustainable settlement because the Port is essential to the Auckland economy and delivers ratepayers a return on their investment. The two sides need to find a solution and this cannot be imposed on them from outside.

Mayor Brown supports retaining the port in public ownership and not privatising it, which means it is important that the port work as efficiently and effectively as possible for the people of Auckland.

Ports of Auckland Ltd is an independent company that is run and managed by its own board. It is not appropriate for Mayor Brown to step in on every industrial dispute as it is the two sides that need to come to agreement.

However, Mayor Brown remains concerned about the ongoing impact of the dispute on the Auckland economy, the return to Auckland Council and the working relationships on the wharves. He will continue to encourage both sides to enter mediation and resolve the dispute in a sustainable manner.

Kind Regards,
Donna Lovejoy | Mayoral Correspondence
Office of the Mayor, Auckland Council
Level 1, Town Hall, Queen Street, Auckland
Visit our website:  http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

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It is disappointing that Len Brown’s response addressed none of the points I raised and answered none of the questions.

If Len Brown believes that he is safe by sitting on the fence,  he should consider Humpty Dumpty’s fate. Deserting your constituents who voted for you is not a particularly smart thing to do.

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Additional

Chris Trotter: The Auckland Ports Dispute – An Open Letter To David Shearer

Chris Trotter: Equal and Opposite

Matt McCarten: It’s time to step up, Mr Mayor

Maritime Union: Ports of Auckland management “fact sheet” short on facts

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