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“Free speech” – The Rules according to the Right

3 September 2018 1 comment

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The passionate debate  over free speech for two visiting Canadian alt.right Polite Fascists drew (at times near hysterical) comment from everyone who cared sufficiently about the issue to proffer an opinion.

For many, it was a litmus-test determining how far our beliefs extended to preserving the right of free speech. Free speech extended to those whose views we despised.

For many others, free speech was not absolute. Spreading racist, homophobic, sexist, and transphobic vitriol belittled already-marginalised and disempowered people in our society.

For others, their Care Factor was zero. Faced with an empty refrigerator, or sleeping in a garage or car, or choosing whether to pay the power bill or medication for a child with rheumatic fever, was a closer reality for many New Zealanders.

If you were white, male, and straight – you would be right to feel safe from the bigotted chauvinism of two alt-right Polite Fascists .  A White, Male, Straight could countenance violence as a price for “free speech”.

If you were a person of colour, gay, a woman with a career and a baby, or transgender – not so much.  You might feel less inclined to welcome people into our country whose main purpose was to denigrate you; deny you your equality; your inclusivity in society; your very identity.

A Free Speech Coalition quickly sprang up to defend the right of the two Polite Fascists to be allowed to speak freely.  The group consisted of;

Dr. Michael Bassett – Former Labour Party Minister
Dr. Don Brash – Former leader of the National and ACT Parties, and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Ashley Church – Business Leader
Dr. David Cumin – Senior Lecturer University of Auckland
Melissa Derby – University of Canterbury Academic
Stephen Franks – Lawyer
Paul Moon – Professor of History Auckland University of Technology
Lindsay Perigo – Broadcaster
Rachel Poulain – Writer
Chris Trotter – Political Commentator
Jordan Williams – Lawyer

The spokesperson the the so-called Free Speech Coalition, Don Brash,  was very, very, very vocal in defending the right of the Polite Fascists to speak freely in New Zealand.

The same  Don Brash  who last year called for Te Reo to be removed from Radio NZ;

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It seems that Free Speech is fine – as long as it’s in The Queen’s English.

The debate raged in every on-line forum  and became – in most instances – a license for some pretty vile racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, islamophobic slurs to be uttered. It was as if the Free Speech debate suddenly gave every bigot with internet access a free pass to vent their darkest hates.

For the more rational angels on the  side of the Free Speech debate, it was a necessary price to pay for a free society.

Unfortunately, it could be said that ‘price’ was paid mostly by those minorities and women targetted by our Polite Fascist visitors.

Meanwhile right-wing commentators and bloggers rallied to defend the rights of the Polite Fascists to speak unhindered. Which, in the case of Karl du Fresne is rather ironic, as five years ago he criticised Radio NZ as being too “left-leaning” and called for direct political intervention to “to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes“;

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Said du Fresne;

RNZ is a national treasure, but it’s a flawed treasure, and that makes it vulnerable. By correcting the most obvious of those flaws, whoever takes over from Mr Cavanagh could help protect the organisation against political interference.

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So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation’s standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.

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But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.

Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.

Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.

He’s perfectly entitled to believe that, of course, but he has no right to co-opt the resources of RNZ to pursue his fixation.

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An editor-in-chief who was doing his job properly would crack down on such abuses…

None of it was true, of course, as I pointed out at the time.

The National Party – that bastion of personal liberty – chimed in,  staunchly on the side for free speech;

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Said current National Party leader, Simon Bridges;

“I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it’s a dangerous thing to say ‘because we don’t like what you’re saying we won’t let you in’.”

That was on 9 July.

Seven weeks passed.

National’s staunchness for Free Speech is now… well… not quite so staunch;

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National’s immigration spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse, demanded Ms Manning be banned from entering New Zealand;

“She was convicted and sentenced to a 35-year prison term and as a consequence has no good reason to be coming to New Zealand.”

When pointed out to Mr Woodhouse  that this bore an uncanny similarity to the debate over the recent visit of two Polite Fascists, he countered with this;

“This is not a question of free speech. [Ms Manning] is free absolutely to say whatever she wants but she’s not free to travel wherever she wants.”

Which, strangely enough, was precisely the same point made by opponants of the two Canadian Polite Fascists.

On pure principle alone, left-wing bloggers like Idiot Savant at ‘No Right Turn’ and  Martyn Bradbury and left-wing commentators such as Chris Trotter have led the charge to preserve free speech.  They supported the right of the two Polite Fascists to vent their bigotry  in New Zealand.

Shamefully, the same – it seems – cannot be said of the Right-wing.

If we wait for the likes of Karl du Fresne, David Farrar, and the National Party to defend Ms Mannings’ right to speak unhindered in New Zealand – we will be waiting till the sun goes nova (in roughly five billion years time).

Yes, the Free Speech Coalition has come out in support of Ms Manning’s right to speak unhindered in New Zealand.

The spokesperson issuing the statement was Chris Trotter. Don Brash’s name was nowhere to be seen anywhere in the media release. For someone who loves lots of free speaking, Mr Brash was suddenly not so very, very, very vocal.

The reason was blindingly obvious.

As Danyl Mclauchlan pointed out with crystal clarity;

The upcoming visit of the US intelligence whistleblower appears to have some on the right reassessing their commitment to free speech and open debate. How quickly they forget…

… So Manning is an ideological enemy of the National Party. Two weeks ago it was, we were told, vitally important that we cherish free speech so that New Zealand could hear what Don Brash, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux had to say. Now that they’re faced with the spectre of a high profile speaker with values critical of the defence and intelligence establishment, free speech is suddenly far less important to National. A cynic might say it was never about free speech at all, but the defence of racially charged speech under the guise of free speech.

For the Right-wing, free speech is fine. It just depends on who’s doing the speaking.

Did anyone seriously believe even for a nanosecond that it would be otherwise?

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References

TVNZ: Free speech or hate speech? Both sides of the debate sparked by the appearance of alt-right Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux

Southern Poverty Law Centre: Stefan Molyneux

Fairfax media: Southern and Molyneux good test for our free speech tolerance video

Mediaworks/Newshub: Jacinda Ardern ‘simply can’t’ be both a mum and Prime Minister – Stefan Molyneux

Fairfax media: Oscar Kightley – This free speech victory tastes a little strange

Free Speech Coalition: Home

Facebook: Don Brash – Te Reo – Radio NZ

Karl du Fresne: Let’s hear the Canadians for ourselves and decide then whether it’s dangerous

Kiwiblog: More anti speech fascists

Fairfax Media: RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

NZ Herald: Bridges backs free speech for far-right writers banned from Auckland Council venues

Radio NZ: National wants Chelsea Manning banned from NZ

Change.org: Stop Lauren Southern from entering New Zealand

No Right Turn: The cost of a free and democratic society II

The Daily Blog: How the Woke Left lost the free speech debate and gave Southern and Molyneux a marketing victory

The Daily Blog: Free Speech Denialism Is Fascism In Action

Scoop media: Coalition condemns campaign to bar Chelsea Manning

The Spinoff: Chelsea Manning and the limits of free speech absolutism

Additional

Fairfax media: Why self-proclaimed ‘free speech champions’ aren’t helping the cause video

Newsroom: Emma Espiner – The threat of Te Reo

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog:  Chelsea Manning in NZ

No Right Turn:  Compare and contrast

The Standard:  Let Chelsea Manning speak

Yournz:  National’s Woodhouse wants to ban Chelsea Manning from visiting NZ

Previous related blogposts

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 August 2018.

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Media stories of the Week: US Ambassador dismissive of our laws

4 December 2015 1 comment

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Every so often, the mainstream news media do their job well, and little nuggets of insights are revealed…

TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ on 28 November had host and highly-experienced journalist, Lisa Owen, interview current US Ambassador, Mark Gilbert.

Amongst topics covered was National’s determination to invite an American warship to New Zealand.

Since 1987,  this country has been a nuclear weapons and nuclear-propelled* free-zone and even National grudgingly acceded to Labour’s then-revolutionary policy. At a time when the Cold War between super-powers held the entire planet at the precipice to atomic armageddon, a tiny little country of barely three million held up it’s collective hand and refused to participate in the madness.

In 2004, then-leader of the opposition National Party, Don Brash made secret promises to a US Congressional delegation that New Zealand’s nuclear-free legislation ban would be ‘gone by lunchtime‘. The story hit headlines, though Brash denied making any such promise. Two years later, after losing an election; personal-life problems; and unable to take Helen Clark head-on in debates; Brash was ousted as National’s leader.

Shortly after rolling Brash and seizing power in the National Party, newly-elected leader John Key vowed that his party would maintain New Zealand’s nuclear-free legislation, asserting;

“National’s position has been in limbo in relation to nuclear ships, so I want to make it perfectly clear that I support the nuclear-free legislation.

For as long as I am leader of the National Party, the nuclear-free legislation will remain intact.

I think New Zealanders have a long-held view that this is important to our nation-building. I think they see it as New Zealand standing up strongly for something it believes in.

I believe in that position and I see absolutely no reason to change it.”

In 2012, Key repeated his promise to maintain New Zealand’s status as nuclear-free;

“There’ll be no change to New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation, no change to the provisions about boats that would come to New Zealand.”

This year, Key has been making noises to invite a US warship to New Zealand, with an invitation issued at the beginning of November;

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US naval ships invited to visit NZ

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When challenged whether or not National would take steps to seek guarantees that a visiting warship would neither be nuclear armed nor propelled, Key replied it was not necessary. In effect, he referred people to use Google;

“There’s plenty of open source documentation and qualification that would allow you to form a view – for instance, I don’t think anyone’s ever argued that a US coastguard is either nuclear-powered nor nuclear-armed.

There’s enough stuff there, depending on the vessel that they send, for an assessment to be made.”

Despite the supposed removal of all atomic weapons from US warships announced by President Bush in September 1991, the US military still maintains a “neither confirm, nor deny” policy, as stated unequivocally by Ambassador Gilbert on 28 November;

“We will always stay with our ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policy.”

Yet, as President Bush maintained on 28 September 1991;

“… the United States will withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons from its surface ships and attack submarines, as well as those nuclear weapons associated with our land-based naval aircraft. This means removing all nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. ships and submarines, as well as nuclear bombs aboard aircraft carriers. The bottom line is that under normal circumstances, our ships will not carry tactical nuclear weapons.”

Bush has stated categorically that atomic weapons were removed from all US warships.

Why is Ambassador Gilbert unwilling to confirm that?

Furthermore,  Lisa Owen extracted this admission from the Ambassador;

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Lisa Owen: Okay, so will you send a ship that complies with our laws? Let me put it that way.

Mark Gilbert: First of all, a decision has not been made whether we’re going to be able to send a ship or not.

Lisa Owen: If you were to send one, would you send one that complied with our laws?

Mark Gilbert: We will always stay with our ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policy.

Lisa Owen: You’re going to stick hard and fast with that?

Mark Gilbert: We always have.

Note that not only did the Ambassador refuse to confirm President Bush’s removal of atomic weapons from US warships – but he also refused to comply with our laws.

This is a shocking admission that the United States is prepared to ignore our laws, and that our esteemed dear Leader is prepared to turn a blind eye.

There is nothing from Key’s or Gilbert’s assertions that fills me with confidence that either men are willing to uphold this country’s nuclear free legislation.

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* The sinkings of the Lermontov and Rena perhaps offer sound reasons why the ban on nuclear propulsion should remain alongside atomic weapons.

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References

TV3: The Nation – Interview and transcript – US Ambassador Mark Gilbert

NZ History: Nuclear-free New Zealand

Beehive: Not yet gone by lunchtime

Radio NZ: Gone by lunchtime stoush erupts again

NZ Herald: Key’s vow makes National anti-nuke

TV3: NZ will stay nuclear-free – Key

Radio NZ: US naval ships invited to visit NZ

New York Times: Bush’s Arms Plan – Remarks by President Bush on Reducing U.S. and Soviet Nuclear Weapons

NZ National Maritime Museum: The Last Cruise of the Mikhail Lermontov

Transport Accident Investigation Commission: Marine Inquiry 11-204: Container ship MV Rena grounding on Astrolabe Reef, 5 October 2011

Other bloggers

No Right Turn: Against a US ship visit

The Daily Blog:  Is a US warship finally coming to New Zealand?

The Standard: US ship visit and nuclear free NZ

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 November 2015.

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Random Thoughts on Random Things #7 – the fate of the Maori Party

17 July 2014 1 comment

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Watching Pita Sharples interviewed on TV3’s ‘The Nation’ on 5 July, two things occurred to me.

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There is every likelihood that, come election day,  the Maori Party is doomed. If they are really, really, really lucky, they might win one seat. Perhaps.

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As much as I dislike National’s coalition lap-dogs, We may yet need the Maori Party.

Up till now, I have wished for their hurried departure from Parliament. As a much-needed coalition ally to National, they have propped up this government and allowed various policies to be enacted that further the neo-liberal agenda at the expense of the majority of New Zealanders.

But this, in turn, has meant that National and ACT have toned down much of the anti-Treaty rhetoric that Brash engaged in when he was leader of the Nats. When Brash gave his infamous Orewa speech in January 2004, the more conservative, reactionary element in New Zealand society rewarded him and his party with a huge (if short-lived) 17%  ‘bounce’ in the polls.

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kiwis not iwis - beaches

 

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National’s  strategists understand they cannot afford to alienate that support. Not when every vote and every seat in Parliament counts. And not when this year’s election promises to be the narrowest-run race in decades.

Keeping the Maori Party on-side has also meant losing a strategic tactic from the Right – playing the racist “Treaty Card”. National can no longer play that “card”. Not if it expects to keep the Maori Party as a coalition ally.

This is an added ‘bonus’ for the Left. By removing  anti-Treaty messages from National’s “arsenal” of available campaign strategies,  racist rednecks no longer have a “natural political home” to vote for, en masse.

As someone who has no love for National and it’s coalition allies, I have to grudgingly admit to a new-found use for the Maori Party – as a useful brake on National’s racist tendencies.

Perhaps Labour and Mana should consider the strategy of “gifting” one of the seven Maori Electorates to the Maori Party?

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References

TV3: The Nation – Interview – Maori Party founding co-leader Pita Sharples

TV3: Interview – Pita Sharples – Transcript

Fairfax media: Brash takes aim at Key in race speech

Previous related blogposts

Poll shows gain for National’s ‘dog whistle’ politics

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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 12 July 2014.

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John Key on leadership aspirations…

30 August 2013 5 comments

As reported on Radio NZ today (26 August);

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PM’s take

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

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

Source: Radio NZ – Cunliffe confirms bid for Labour leadership

More here: John Key says Labour is a divided party

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

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

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Beware the ides of November, Don

By Audrey Young

5:20 AM Thursday Oct 26, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Zealand’s National Party Appoints John Key as Leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

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

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

[abridged]

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

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

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

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

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

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Poll shows gain for National’s ‘dog whistle’ politics

18 September 2012 6 comments

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Continued from: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government

The latest Roy Morgan Poll (27 August –  9 September)showed  a predictable rise in support the  National Party at  46.5% (up 2% since August 13-26, 2012),

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Roy Morgan Poll 9 September 2012 – Trending

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See: National (46.5%) increases strong lead over Labour (31%)

Translated into seats,

National – 46.5% –   56 seats

Labour – 31% –  38 seats

Greens – 12.5% – 15 seats

NZ First – 4.5%  (likely to increase to 5% in 2014)–  6 seats

Maori Party – assuming – 2 seats retained (possible) (3 seats, unlikely)

Mana Party – 2 seats  (possible)

Peter Dunne – assuming 1 seat retained (possible)

ACT – 0.5% – assuming Epsom lost – no seats (probable)

Labour, the Greens, and NZ First dropped minutely, and ACT is heading for Zero Percent territory.

Seen in a Left-Right bloc context;

Labour-Greens-NZF-Mana: 61 seats

National-Peter Dunne-Maori Party: 59 seats

The figures are not at all surprising. This blogger predicted that National will experience a “bounce” in the polls as it engages in dog-whistle politics.

Bashing the unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads) and other welfare beneficiaries and “standing up to greedy Mow-ries” is always a vote winner with low-information voters.

Don Brash’s “Orewa Speech”  in January 2004 was racist dog-whistle politics that pandered to the lowest common denominator in New Zealand politics.

See: “NATIONHOOD – Don Brash Speech Orewa Rotary Club”

It also gave National a temporary boost in public opinion polls, rising 17% in a subsequent  TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll.

See: At least Louis Crimp is honest

17% increase in public support – a sad “reward” for a racist speech that pandered to our most base instincts.

The SOE water rights issue and bene-bashing is a predictable strategy for any right wing Party to employ, to boost public poll support. At the moment, National has very little else to rely on – the news from the economy is all bad.

National may stop at abolishing the Treaty of Waitangi and “nationalising water and air”, and may think twice before demanding that all welfare recipients sew black triangles onto their clothing – but I’m sure several of them have fantasised over the prospect.

This blogger predicts that National may indeed rise another percentage point or two – but like the aftermath of the 2004 Orewa Speech, the Nats will fall back as peoples’ irrational racist fears subside and poor economic indicators and poverty continue to dominate headlines.

We are still on course for a change of government in 2014, if not earlier.

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Previous blogposts

Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government!

National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

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Interview: A Young NZer Acts to make a Difference

29 April 2012 10 comments

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This is another in a series of on-line interviews with Young New Zealanders who are the up-and-coming next generation of political activists and leaders.  We may or may not always agree with them – but these young people will be the ones who influence and form our society in years to come…

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Hayden Fitzgerald

Hayden Fitzgerald

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This online interview is with Hayden Fitzgerald, current President of ACT on Campus;  ACT Party Board Member for Central Region; and  ACT Candidate for Rangitikei in the 2011 Election.

Kia ora, Hayden, and thank you for giving us your time and answers to the following questions…

Q: You’re the current President of ACT on Campus and stood as a candidate in the last election;  how long have you been a member of ACT, and what attracted you to that Party – as opposed to, say, another Party?

I was originally a Green Party fan, switching to National as I studied more economics. I became dissatisfied with National’s failure to act upon the areas it identified as problems while in opposition so switched across to ACT early last year.

Q: What has been your personal best experience with ACT thus far?

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of representing ACT as the Candidate for Rangitikei.

Q: How do you feel about ACT’s numbers dropping from five to just one MP at the last election?

I think it’s really sad to see ACT’s numbers shrink so much but ACT’s campaign was far from perfect so I think it was predictable.

Q: If ACT goes the way of The Alliance, which other Party do you think would be the natural home for ACT supporters – National?

Personally I don’t think there is a natural other home for ACT supporters. A large majority would likely go to National but others wouldn’t. I think if ACT was to disappear another party similar would rise up to fill the gap before long.

Q: Do you think ACT can re-build its electoral support? Or do you feel that ACT is a “tarnished brand”, and a new liberal party is required with a fresh look to it?

There’s no doubt that the ACT brand is damaged but I think the support base can be rebuilt if the Party sticks to its core values. A complete rebranding of the Party could be something worth considering but the cost of doing so may not outweigh the cost of repairing the current brand. Which direction you think ACT should take here will differ depending on who you talk to!

Q: What are your thoughts on ACT’s recent leadership changes and what impact, if any, do you think they had on ACT’s support?

Referring to John Banks I think it was something that had to happen. Having your only MP as the leader of the Party is really the only practical option. I don’t think it has influenced the support base of the party much. The next three years will determine.

Q: If you had been casting a vote for ACT’s leadership, who would you have supported, Rodney Hide or Don Brash?

Don Brash

Q: Why is that? What are the qualities that you believe Don Brash had, but not Rodney Hide?

Fresh face; one would have thought he would have brought a lot of existing popularity with him.

Q: There have been suggestions that Heather Roy could have made a good leader of ACT. Do you agree with that? If she had been leader, do you think she could  have attracted a greater share of the womens’ vote?

I think Heather is a lovely lady who made a very good politician. I think that she could have contributed a lot as a leader of ACT and no doubt the women’s vote would have increased if she were leader. However, the same would be true of many others.

Q: Do you have a top three list of priorities that ACT should focus on, this Parliamentary term?

Choice, Personal Responsibility and Limited Government.

Q: Have you read or heard of Gareth Morgan’s “Big Kahuna”, and his proposal for a Universal Basic Income/negative tax for the first $11,000?

Yes. Personally I favour a tax free threshold of $30,000 and a flat 20% after that with GST kept at 15% and no company tax.

Q: But no negative tax (or Universal Basic Income as some call it)?

There would definitely have to be some form of “Universal Basic Income” in the way of a safety net. We just have to be careful not to create incentives not to work.

Q: Recently, US billionaire Warren Buffett highlighted how he paid tax at a much lower rate than his own staff, who, in many instances were paying roughly double the rate he was. What do say to people like Buffett who state that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes? Or do you agree with him?

With a simpler tax system, as I identified above this sort of thing would not happen. This is also an American example. This doesn’t happen to the same extent here in New Zealand.

Q: New Zealand has a fairly free market economic regime compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries. Yet places like Finland and Denmark, notable social-democracies with strong welfare systems and state services, have a high PPP per capita income to New Zealand. Why aren’t we light years ahead of the Scandinavians – especially after 27 years of reforms?

I think it’s very hard to compare New Zealand’s economy to these as we’re so different.

Q: Oh, in what way? What do you think are major differences?

Different climate, population and distance from other countries. Truth is I don’t know much about these economies but I do have a friend who lives in Finland that isn’t too fond of the way things are run.

Q: What, if anything should we be doing different?

Simpler tax system, smaller Government.

Q:  State funding of private schools? Or should they be left to succeed or fail on their own merit?

I favour the voucher system, so parents can send their child to whichever school benefits their child the most, be it public or private.

Q: But would you allow a private school to fail and go into liquidation, if it got to that stage?

Yes; I don’t support Government bailouts.

Q: The minimum wage? Especially when Bill English said on Q+A that it was extremely difficult to live on the minumum wage for any long period of time?

The problem with minimum wages is that they harm the very people they’re supposed to help. I also question whether or not it is up to the Government to decide what an individual can and cannot work for; should it not be up to the individual to decide what a fair wage for them is? I also note that the current minimum wage equates to a lot more than being on social support. Under a simpler tax system with a high tax free threshold low income people would be a lot better off as they would pay no tax.

Q: In what way do you think a minimum-wage harms people?

Locks them out of employment; particularly young people. In theory there is no need for a minimum wage. The minimum wage is equivalent to the safety net that is provided; currently just under $5 an hour.

Q: The Auckland waterfront dispute? What are your thoughts on how Labour and National have responded to this issue? Or should they not intervene?

I don’t think the Politicians should intervene in these issues.

Q: The partial sale of some SOEs? Should New Zealanders be given first option to buy shares, or should the IPO be made available to any/all without any restrictions/criteria at all?

  I’m fine with all New Zealanders’ getting first option.

Q: The sale of productive farmland to overseas investors?

Foreign investment is extremely important to our economy. We also invest a large amount of money overseas. If we want to maintain our free trade agreements we cannot discriminate against foreign buyers. It also raises an issue around property rights; should you not be allowed to sell something you own to whomever you choose?

Q: Mining? Especially of conservation lands?

Cost vs. benefit analysis. I’m generally against mining of conservation lands but we must weigh up how much damage would be done to how easy it would be to repair it etc.

Q: Climate change?

I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded.

Q: Deep sea oil drilling? Especially after the ‘Rena’ stranding? Are we adequately prepared?

The Rena was a boat whose Captain wasn’t following the rules; as such the company who own the ship and their insurers should be taken for the full cost of repair. I think our regulations around this could do with a review; whether or not much needs changed I don’t know enough to comment.

Q: Should Kiwisaver be compulsory? Should there be an opt-out option?

No. Kiwisaver performance is nowhere near good enough to warrant it being compulsory. Also raises issues around freedom. It would be unfair for the Government to force me to put my own money into Kiwisaver.

Q:  Roads or rail? Which should have priority?

That should be up to the market! Personally, I think both have a place though. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The proper market would allocate them accordingly.

Q: Free school meals – should they be introduced in all schools? Just low-decile shools? Or not at all?

Not at all. Could perhaps look at doing something based upon individual applications for those in genuine need but I think the real solution is better parental education.

Q: Republic or not?

Republic

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the worst aspect or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Continuation of wasteful spending that has resulted in high debt levels that my generation will have to pay back, particularly around ignoring the elephant in the room relating to our superannuation scheme.

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the best aspect, or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Mixed ownership model.

Q: How do you feel about our current media? Do you feel that the state has a role to play in public broadcasting – perhaps to set standards or broadcast material that, while informative, might not rate highly on a commercial level? Or should it be left totally to the Market to deliver quality broadcasting?

Lean toward it being left completely the market. If people want to watch it, regardless of what it is, the market will provide it. Likewise with broadcasting standards, if a tv channel is broadcasting obscene content then not many will watch it; no need for regulation.

Q:  And is TV3’s planned “The GC” ‘quality tv’?

Probably not something I’ll watch but none the less does seem like the kind of show that would have a broad appeal.

Q: If ACT was in government as the major coalition Party, and you were an MP offered a ministerial role, what portfolio would you want? And why?

Tough decision. Probably Finance, Small Business, Primary Industry or Social Development as these are areas that interest me.

Q: In your opinion, what is the single most critical problem affecting us as a society? How would you address that problem? And what time-frame would you give yourself?

Inflated Government. I would address this by cutting unnecessary regulations and laws like the RMA, cut Government Spending and taxes and shrink all areas of the Government except core services. This could all be done very quickly but I would like to see it happen over 5-10 years as to ease transitional unemployment as people shift from public sector to private sector employment.

Q: What, in your view, would constitute core services?

Defence, basic safety nets (including adequate access to health care for all), basic standards in education, stopping market dominance (via Commerce Commission), Law and order, negotiating with overseas countries (free trade etc.)

Q: Are your friends and family political? How do you relate to those friends and family who aren’t political?

Very few of my friends are political and none of my family are. I suppose I relate to them the same as anyone else does! (Politicians are people too ;))

Q: Can you share with us some of your most favourite things,

* food?

Subway (I dream about it!)

* place to live?

Anywhere in the bottom half of the South Island.

* movie and/or tv program?

American Pie (all of them)

* book?

“The Greatest Show on Earth” – Richard Dawkins

* prominent historical person you admire the most? And why?

Roger Douglas for having the balls to do what’s right.

Q: And your Last Word is on;

National and Labour are the biggest obstacles to the modernisation and eventual success of our economy. New Zealanders need to wake up and stop trying to vote themselves rich. The only way to prosperity is through choice, personal responsibility, individual freedom and limited Government.

Thank you, Hayden, for sharing with us!

Folks wishing to contact Hayden and ACT may do so at; president@actoncampus.org.nz, www.actoncampus.org.nz, www.act.org.nz

Facebook: ACT on Campus, ACT, Hayden Fitzgerald

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Disclaimer

This blog is not affiliated to ACT in any way, shape, or form.

Other Blogposts in a similar theme

Interview: A Young NZer’s Thirst to make a Difference

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

Citizen Meegan’s submission to Parliament – hand’s off our stuff!

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= fs =

Minister for whut?!?!

10 February 2012 6 comments

It appears that ACT is  in a world of it’s own…

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Source

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Don Brash resigned as Leader of ACT on 26 November – about two and a half  months ago.

But perhaps even more curious is this,

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Source

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There is no such portfolio as “Minister of Parliament for Epsom”.

At best, John Banks is the MP (Member of Parliament ) for Epsom.

And of course, there was this little item I blogged about back in December, last year,

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Source

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It’s interesting that ACT has managed to “update” the above page by adding a Facebook  “Like” button, and a Google “+1” button – but have not yet figured out that they have only one MP (John Banks) – not five, as pictured.

This would be mildly amusing (and not really worthwhile to blog about) – except that ACT is now on course to implement it’s unpopular and ideologically-based, “Charter Schools” policy (which was never mandated by voters, as it was never raised as a public issue), and has appointed Catherine Isaac (ex-ACT President, and ACT List candidate for 2011 Election) to oversee the implementation of Charter Schools.

This re-structuring of part of our education is a major change to our education system, and has the potential to impact on the lives of an entire generation of children.

It seems inconceivable that the implementation of this radical, controversial policy, is in the hands of people who don’t know how many MPs they have in Parliament; who their Leader is;  employ Parliamentary titles that don’t exis; and can’t be bothered to update on-line information.

What, exactly, should we trust about ACT?

This should be cause for concern for all New Zealanders.

For the record:

  • John Banks is not the “Minister” for Epsom – he is the Member of Parliament for Epsom.
  • The term “Minister for Epsom” does not exist.
  • ACT has one MP, not five.
  • None of the five persons depicted on the ACT webpage as “MPs” are MPs  (none stood for re-election in 2011).
  • Don Brash is not the Leader of ACT.

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Acknowledgements for this story

Previous Blog post

ACT woefully behind the times?

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And now a word from the racist Right…

2 January 2012 2 comments

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Something that one of my readers found on Don Brash’s “Facebook” page,

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When I read that, my first reaction was; “more-of-the-same” from the racist right wing nutjobs that unfortunately live in every community, and every country (and probably every inhabited planet throughout the Universe).

My second reaction was that whoever wrote it is not very bright and is either exagerating for effect – or simply trolling for pleasure. (Racists do that – simple things for simple minds, n’all that.)

It also reminded me of John Ansell’s work for ACT, with the Iwi-Kiwi billboards and the more recent “Fed up with pandering to Maori radicals?” advert that ran in some daily metrolitan newspapers (but not others, which ethically refused to run the contentious them).

Ansell quit ACT in July when even the party hierarchy found his racist ranting too much to stomach.

That so-called “email” quoted by Brash on his FB page sounds suspiciously like Ansell’s style; over-the-top; irrational; and bitter/twisted.

The “email” doesn’t even make sense,

Yet my children cannot walk …to school without being abused for simply being white…”

Where does he live – Kabul?

“…we cannot draw the same assistance as our fellow dark-skinned citizens…”

Unfortunately, the un-named “author”  of that hate-mail doesn’t specify precisely what “assistance” he is referring to.

“…we are heckled by the roaming mobs of Maori when out and about…”

Wow! Break out the armoury! It’s World War III in some un-named part of the country!

Though one wonders why the author simply didn’t call the police to report these mythical mobs?!

“…and I just have to accept this treament in my own country …”

Ummm, really,  call the Police?

“…I’ve had an absolute gutsful, and simply cannot take this anymore. I have gained employment in Australia and will be taking my entire family there in January 2012.”

Hmmm, have fun, Mystery Emailer. There’s a Welcoming Committee for you.

The surprise is not that raving right wing wierdos exist – but that someone as supposedly intelligent, articulate,  and well-educated as Don Brash would publish such drivel on his own Facebook page. No wonder ACT couldn’t move fast enough to send this “odd fellow” packing.

Bizarre stuff.

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Additional

Act ad man quits after blasting ‘apartheid’

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What are you hiding, Mr Key?

13 November 2011 6 comments

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It seems that more may have come out of the “cuppa tea” between John Banks and John Key, than we first thought. One of the journalists present inadvertantly recorded something that was not meant for our ears,

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The conversation was inadvertently recorded in Newmarket’s Cafe Urban where Banks and Key had arranged to meet in front of 40 members of the media. The meeting was a platform for Key to symbolically endorse Banks in the Epsom seat. If Banks, who has been trailing National’s Paul Goldsmith in polls, wins the seat, it would give National a much-needed coalition partner. Banks initially told the NZ Herald on Friday he was not concerned about any recording. But when told the Herald on Sunday had a copy, he refused permission for it to be printed.

“I’m not saying yes. I’m not saying no. I think you need to talk to the Prime Minister. It was his cup of tea, he paid for it.”

Herald on Sunday editor Bryce Johns said the newspaper had sought legal advice and believed it could have gone ahead, but it was an ethical matter for the newspaper. “Neither politician knew they were being recorded and they want to keep that chat private.”

The freelance cameraman who made the recording, whom the paper has agreed not to name, said the recording had been made accidentally after he was stopped by Key’s security staff from recovering the recording device. It transmitted the recording to the camera operator’s equipment but he did not discover until later.

In the eight-minute and 26-second conversation, the pair discuss Act’s future and its leadership, New Zealand First’s electoral chances and the percentage of the vote the National Party would secure.

Labour’s Epsom candidate David Parker said Banks and Key’s actions were “hypocritical” after the pair organised and stage-managed the “cup of tea” scenario to get the public maximum impact.

“They have been hung on their own petard and they should be pressured to disclose what it is that is so distasteful they don’t want the public to hear it.”

Parker said the public did not have a right to all aspects of public figures’ lives but the situation involving Banks and Key was different.

“They manipulated things. Because of a mistake caused by an agent of the Prime Minister not allowing this person to pick up his kit, they are uncovered. What is it that they are hiding?”

Two senior politicians to enjoy the “cup of tea” show of support were Act leader Don Brash and former party leader Rodney Hide. As National Party leader, Brash met United Future leader Peter Dunne in 2005.

Brash said he believed the it would be “unethical” to publish. “I suspect there is nothing terribly sensitive in it.”

Hide, who met Key for coffee during the 2008 election campaign, said, “I’m of the strong view that private conversations should stay private.”

University of Otago political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said the information should be released. It was increasingly difficult for the public to access real information about politiciansbecause the media was outgunned by political budgets and press officers.

“It is a conversation that would help voters navigate the election campaign. In an election campaign, voters need maximum amounts of information and viewpoints. In the name of democracy, we need this sort of information.”

Right-wing blogger David Farrar also supported release if the recording revealed hypocrisy. “If there is something which is contradicted by what they say publicly, it makes the public interest argument.”

Source: NZ Herald

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One wonders what was recorded that could possibly be so “sensitive” or “embarressing” that neither Key nor Banks want the details to be made public?

What did those two have to say to each other could possibly be so damaging?

And here’s the richness of the irony; both men were the centre of a massive media scrum. John Banks needed Key’s public “nudge, nudge ,wink, wink” endorsement – and Key… well, Key just lives for photo ops. (Though he did give away the faintest impression that this was not his favourite photo-op since he first ventured into Parliament and political life. (There may’ve been a dead rat in his cuppa tea?)

So despite their basking in the media lime-light and public focus – all of a sudden they have both become shy at revealing what was recorded on tape?  From media “sluts” to shy, retiring “wall flowers”?!

Ok, my curiousity is well and truly piqued.

As for John Key’s remark…

I’m of the strong view that private conversations should stay private.

… strikes me as a bit rich, given Paula Bennett’s willingness to release people’s private details to the media, and to the public.

And if, as Brash says…

I suspect there is nothing terribly sensitive in it.”

… why not release the tape/transcript? What does he have to hide?

Considering Brash’s secret dealings with the Exclusive Brethren in 2005, his credibility on such matters is dubious, to put it mildly.

Even right-wing  blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, smells a rat – of which there seem to be plenty of dead ones around Epsom these days – then something is definitly “rotten in the State of Denmark”, to quote The Bard.

Of course, this cuts both ways.   One day the left may also have to disclose a dodgy conversation to the public.

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+++ Updates +++

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Full Story

Interview with John Key

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John Key states categorically that he will not provide consent to release the tape/transcript of the recording of his conversation with John Banks. He says,

It was deliberately put there and I’m simply not going to reward them with that tape. But I’m not bothered by the contents of it.”

If the Prime Minister’s sole concern is “not rewarding” the Herald-on-Sunday, then he has another simple option: release the tape to another media outlet.

That removes any element of   “reward” for the Herald-on-Sunday, whilst satisfying  the public’s right to know what their elected representatives are up to.

Quite simple really.

Unless, of course, there is more to the contents of that tape than John Key is letting on. And let’s face it – the debacle over the alleged “email” regarding Standard & Poors was our first public indication that the Prime Minister could bend the truth when it suited him.

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More here

The game’s afoot, Watson!

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+++ Updates +++

ACT leader agrees tape secrecy suggests something to hide

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One law for National, One law for the rest of us?

11 November 2011 13 comments

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When it comes to double standards, the Right have no comparison. They are adept at holding double standards. Triple standards even, if it suits them.

Case in point;  blogger Cameron Slater, who runs the sleazy “Whaleoil” blogsite, has laid a complaint with the Police about a letter from Wigram MP, Jim Anderton,  sent to voters endorsing the Labour candidate Megan Woods. Anderton will be standing down this term and retiring,

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Full Story

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By what stretch of the imagination can Anderton’s endorsement of Megan Woods be seen as a matter for Police attention – when John Key and Don Brash have been doing a very-public dance of endorsing ACT candidate, John Banks, for the Epsom electorate?

It appears that Jim Anderton’s “crime” is that he made his endorsement openly, honestly, and put it in writing for the voting public to consider.

By comparison, John Key will be having a “symbolic cup of tea/coffee” with John Banks at a cafe – thereby sending a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” message to Epsom voters to give the ACT candidate their electorate vote,

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Source

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Jim Anderton is retiring and makes his preference for a successor known publicly – and an extremist right-wing blogger lays a Police complaint.

John Key and Don Brash are doing semi-secret deals – and neither the Electoral Commission nor the Police, nor any right-wing bloggers, bat an eyelid.

I think we get the picture.

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+++ Update +++

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Full Story

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Full Story

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““I’m not telling anyone to vote in a particular way because I don’t think it’s right, but we have had a constructive relationship with ACT and wouldn’t be at all unhappy if they were back,” Key said…

…But Key is being accused of hypocrisy over one very confusing detail.

Key lives in Epsom, but won’t do what he is asking voters to do.

“As leader of the National Party, I’ll be voting for the National candidate,” he said.” Ibid

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Meanwhile, the Pythonesque Dance-of-the-Deranged continues, with this ACT (or National?) campaign launch,

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Full Story

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So there we have it.

The deed  is done, a deal is struck.  People “swallowed dead rats” by the bucketload.  And some of  Dear Leader’s teflon peeled away…

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Newsflash! ACT Confirms List Positions! (But no one cares.)

ACT leader, Don Brash,  and Party President Chris Simmons, today announced their revised Party List.  As stated earlier, former leader Rodney Hide would not be standing for ACT again, after he was rolled earlier this year by Brash.

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Dr Brash & Mr Hide

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In a somewhat conciliatory speech, Brash stated,

““John Key is a capable and respected leader, who has seen New Zealand through some very difficult times and is generally taking the country in the right direction. But the big issue in this election is the economy. New Zealand is facing the worst economic outlook since 1984. The Government needs to go further and faster and take some tough decisions to safeguard the country and put it onto a path to genuine prosperity. There are a lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that.Source

It is interesting that Brash states, “the Government needs to go further and faster and take some tough decisions to safeguard the country and put it onto a path to genuine prosperity. There are a lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that.

Really?!

Well, if there are a “lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that” – they sure as hell ain’t voting ACT!

Nice try, Don. But no banana.

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+++ Updates +++

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Full Story

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And that, folks, is the “nail in the coffin” for the ACT Party.

Unless it can ‘crack’ the 5% MMP threshold, it has no hope of winning seats in Parliament after 26 November.

As an aside, this is yet another stark reminder that MMP is not a “free ride” for small parties into Parliament. Like the former Alliance and NZ First parties, and the semi-dead, “one-man-band” United Future Party – there is no guarantee that under MMP small parties can survive the feral environment that is Parliamentary.

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Who’s been ACTing up?

8 October 2011 1 comment

In the news just recently,

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Full Story

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In a blow to the party and Don Brash’s leadership, TV3 current affairs show The Nation will reveal details of a leaked poll that shows John Banks will not win in Epsom if National is polling more than 50 per cent nationwide and does not need ACT’s support.

“Leaked poll”?!

Now who would have done such a thing?

The polling was conducted by right-wing blogger and National Party activist, David Farrar.

The poll was then delivered to the National Party official responsible for receiving such material, ‘Mr/Ms X’.

So the question is; was it leaked from the originator of the poll (Farrar), or the National Party client (‘Mr/Ms X’)?

There are no other possibilities. It is doubtful anyone else could have gained access to this information.

Next question; what would have been the motivation for leaking such a poll? If it had been to simply destroy ACT’s chances in Epsom, then the poll would simply have contained low-polling results  for the ACT candidate, John Banks.

That would have sent a clear signal to Epsom National voters not to waste their electorate vote on Banks, but to vote for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith.

But, if it is correct that “apparently, Farrar asked a three scenario question: would you vote for Banks if a) National was polling over 50% (ie able to govern out-right), b) if National was polling at 47.5% (on the cusp of governing alone), c) if National was polling 45% (needing a partner to govern)” – source – then the rational becomes completely different.

In this case, what we have here is a cunningly-disguised, further instructions to  Epsom National voters. The instructions are  for Epsomites to vote to Banks or Goldsmith depending on local polling.

Personally, I think a flow chart to “assist” Epsom voters might be jolly useful,

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ACT List candidate mystery – solved?

29 August 2011 4 comments

 

It’s obvious really, why  List Spot #3 is vacant…

 

 

ACT will be selling that position on Trademe. (Minimum bid; $1. Buy now price; $5)

 

 

 

 

Silly Idea # 341,907,774

26 August 2011 56 comments

Floating cities: PayPal billionaire plans to build a whole new libertarian colony off the coast of San Francisco

  • Ocean state would have no welfare, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons
  • Platforms would house 270 people and hundreds could eventually join together

PayPal-founder Peter Thiel was so inspired by Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand’s novel about free-market capitalism – that he’s trying to make its title a reality.

The Silicon Valley billionaire has funnelled $1.25million to the Seasteading Institute, an organisation that aspires to launch a floating colony into international waters, freeing them and like-minded thinkers to live by libertarian ideals.

Mr Thiel recently told Details magazine: ‘The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn’t do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?’

Life on the ocean wave: A design for one of the floating cities which Peter Thiel wants to start constructing next year off the coast of San Francisco

Green land: An aerial view of the city, complete with landcaped gardens. Mr Thiel believes many of the islands could eventually be joined together

Design for living: This island even has a high-level helicopter pad. The cities would be constructed on oil-rig like terminals

The floating sovereign nations that Mr Thiel imagines would be built on oil-rig-like platforms anchored in areas free of regulation, laws, and moral conventions.

The Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get’.

Mr Theil, the venture capitalist who famously helped Facebook expand beyond the Harvard campus, called Seasteading an ‘open frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government’.

After making his first investment in the project in 2008, Mr Thiel said: ‘Decades from now, those looking back at the start of the century will understand that Seasteading was an obvious step towards encouraging the development of more efficient, practical public sector models around the world.

‘We’re at a fascinating juncture: the nature of government is about to change at a very fundamental level.’

Light city: Peter Thiel called the project, Seasteading, an ‘open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government’

Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.

Mr Thiel said: 'the nature of government is about to change at a very fundamental level'

Aiming to have tens of millions of residents by 2050, the Seasteading Institute says architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered structure with room for 270 residents.

The long-term plan would be to have dozens and eventually hundreds of the platforms linked together.

Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who is working on the project told Details that they hope to launch a flotilla of offices off the San Francisco coast next year.

‘Big ideas start as weird ideas,’ Mr Friedman said.

He predicted that full-time settlement will follow in about seven years.

But while some Ayn Rand acolytes may think the idea is brilliant, it’s not without its critics.

Margaret Crawford, an expert on urban planning and a professor of architecture at Berkeley, told Details: ‘it’s a silly idea without any urban-planning implications whatsoever.’

Big ideas: A close-up of how one of the islands could look. The billionaire founder of Paypal has invested $1.25million to create a floating island utopia

Mr Thiel told an audience at the Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009 that: ‘There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible.

‘That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.’

I fully support founding such a colony. In fact, I’ll donate $100 for a (one way) ticket for Don Brash to migrate there.

I’ve suggested – on several occassions – that neo-liberals who want to live in a free-market, minimalist government, zero-tax, user-pays society have just such a country to migrate to: Somalia.

Somalia is perfect and meets their criteria in every respect.

Of course, as part of user-pays, they would have to pay for their own security; their own private police force. And why shouldn’t they? After all, why should other taxpayers pay for protection of someone elses’ property, in a User Pays nirvana?

Strangely enough, as far as I’m aware, no neo-lib has ever taken up my offer.

And stranger even still, neo-libs seem to prefer living in New Zealand; a country built on collective efforts by it’s citizens to build up every aspect of present day society; electricity sector, education, railways, health, roading, police, bridges, libraries, etc. Even telecommunications, airlines, and television started off as tax-payer funded services. All paid by our taxes.

Private enterprise was focused on providing citizens with supermarkets, clothing, shoes (once upon a time), and other consumer goods. It was a good balance.

“Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”

No minimum wage? But… who would clean their toilets?

No building codes? On a free-standing oceanic city? Oh, I can see that working… not.

Few restrictions on weapons. I can see gun nuts loving that. Including gentlemen like Anders Behring Breivik, David Gray, Martin Bryant, et al.

Call me cynical, but I doubt if Peter Thiel’s  ‘Seasteading’ project will succeed. For one thing, human nature is involved – and as we all know, human nature can be a bugger of a thing to deal with.

Secondly, what happens if Thiel’s ‘island’ gets in trouble? Perhaps struck by a hurricane? Will the Seasteaders expect rescue from the international community? And will they be willing to PAY for assistance? (User pays, of course.)

The article further states,

“The Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get’.”

Uh oh. That sounds perilously close to that pesky concept popularly know as “de-mo-cra-cy”. Damned dangerous, that “de-mo-cra-cy”. What happens if, in time, the population of ‘Seastead’ elect a government that is more interventionist?

Will Thiel then build another libertarian community? To get away from the first ‘Seastead’, taken over over “leftists”?

Personally, I think Somalia would still be a cheaper option.

Let’s be honest here, though.

This is about one thing: money. Thiel wants to keep as much of his money as possible and not pay taxes.  There may be other, immensely wealthy individuals, who feel lifewise.

Well, I say “good luck” to them. Let them set up their little sovereign “Island State”. Let them learn the hard way that a functioning, balanced,  society involves more than just having a bloated bank balance. A dynamic society is a collection of mutually supporting groups and individuals – not just a handful of wealthy people.

My guess is that this little “Profit Paradise” will not last long. Nor will it be self-sufficient. And, the inhabitants will still want to spend (most of) their time on the US mainland, socialising, doing business, and all the other things that the rest of us enjoy.  Their Island State will be nothing more than a taxation “bolthole”; a floating bank account.

And herein lies the dishonesty of such an idea.

But if billionaires want to spend their entire lives on such an Island, and not leave, then they are welcome to it.  Imagine being forced to live your life in one little area; never leaving; and associating only with others of your ilk.

It’s called “prison”.

Don – stop smoking that ‘Kronic’!!

21 August 2011 1 comment
Don Brash, Leader of ACT Party

Don Brash, on Q+A today (21 August),

“Nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do. There is no logic at all for Governments to continue to own them.”

Really, Don?

Let’s do a Fact Check on your claim that “nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do”.

Case # 1: Air New Zealand.

In April 1989 the airline was privatised by Roger Douglas with a sale to a consortium consisting of;  Brierley Investments Ltd(65%), Qantas (19.9%), Japan Air Lines Ltd (7.5%), and American Airlines Ltd (7.5%) .

The owners were a fairly high-powered, supposedly commercially-saavy, group of corporations.

Sources:

Treasury 1

Treasury 2

The sale went through, earning the State $660 million.

In 2000, Air New Zealand entered into a commercial deal to buy 100% Ansett Airlines, for  $A680 million, from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Ltd. This deal went sour and Ansett Australia was placed into liquidation by September 2000.  Air New Zealand subsequently announced a $NZ1.425 billion operating loss .

By  October 2001, Air New Zealand was itself in imminent danger of collapsing and  was re-nationalised by the then Clark-led Labour government under a  NZ$885 million bail-out. The government ended up with a 76.5% stake.

So much for private ownership.

Case #2: NZ Rail

In September 1993, NZ Rail was privatised and sold for $400 million (less debt)  to a consortium consisting of Wisconsin Central (40%), Berkshire Partners III L.P. (20%), and Fay & Richwhite (40%). NZ rail then had a succession of owners, culminating in heavy losses, with a $346 million loss for the half-year ended December 2003.

In May 2008 the Labour Government agreed to buy Toll NZ Ltd (less its trucking and distribution operations) for $665 million.

This experiment in privatisation was also a spectacular failure. No private owner could make a profit, even with the government agreeing in  2003 to spend $200 million over the following five years, upgrading the track via the new SOE, Ontrack.

The rail network had been badly run down through lack of investment in new rolling stock and lack of basic maintenance. And one of it’s first private owners, David Richwhite were investigated late 2004, by the NZ Securities Commission, regarding alleged insider trading. In June 2007 Richwhite  agreed to pay NZ$20 million, but did not admit liability.

Another “Tui time” for private ownership of state assets.

Case #3: Finance Companies.

It might be worthwhile reminding Don that the recent chain of collapse of finance companies in this country cost investors  $6 – $8 billion dollars in losses . Many of these  are the real “Mums and Dads” investors that National speaks  lovingly when mooting asset sales.

So Don, spare us the rhetoric that “nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do”. Because as many will confirm – that’s bullshit.

The question I ask myself is; Don, do you really believe that fantasy or not. If you do, you are deluded. If you don’t, you are  deliberately mis-representing the truth.

Either way – not a good look, mate.

ACT – a step too far?

From David Farrar, of Kiwiblog

“…I tend to think it would be good to hear more from ACT on social liberalism, because their brand there has been unclear. No one doubts ACT’s commitment to economic liberalism, but they do wonder about the commitment to social liberalism.

Wouldn’t it be great I thought to hear Don Brash say something along the lines of “Yes we are going to get rid of the Maori seats, because race based seats are wrong – but we are also going to decriminalise personal use of cannabis, as our current drug laws unfairly penalise young Maori”. “

I would guess that business and other neo-liberals are now shying away from supporting ACT, lest they be associated with that party’s ‘brand’ which has evolved into something overtly racist and  anti-maori.

For many on the neo-liberal right, racist extremism is simply a step too far.

I am reminded of the Alliance in the mid-1990s, when it expelled the “Permanent Revolution” faction. Evidently this minority were creating a considerable nuisance with their hardline marxist-leninist agitation and the Alliance leadership did not want to be distracted with an extremist  canker within it’s ranks.

Unfortunately, in ACT’s case (or fortunately, depending on one’s p.o.v.), the lunatics have well and truly taken control of the asylum.

No wonder Heather Roy jumped waka. She knew what was coming.

As for ACT’s declared position of abolishing Maori seats – let’s be under no illusion, here.

The right want to get rid of Maori seats because they can’t win them. If they were safe-National or safe-ACT seats, then Farrar and his right-wing colleagues would be lining up to defend Maori seats.

Much like MMP, really. The right don’t like MMP because it doesn’t give them unbridled power.

The right simply don’t like to share.

It really is that simple.

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More on ACT’s racist culture;

Brash backed canned Act ad

ACT intending a “serious assault”?

17 July 2011 4 comments

Don Brash seems to have changed his mind on Labour’s proposed Capital Gains Tax,

“A Capital Gains Tax means you are clobbered twice: once when you create or earn wealth, the second time when you dispose of it. The fact that we already have it in some form is no excuse for extending it.” Source & More.

Brash further states,

“ACT proposes in the short term to reduce it to Michael Cullen’s level. Long term, we advocate a serious assault on both spending and taxes, with the former capped and the latter low and flat.”

“Serious assault” is about right. What Brash is intending is the total dismantling of the State; selling every state asset available; privatising education and healthcare; huge tax cuts that will benefit corporations and the wealthy; and god knows what else. It would mean the Hong Kongisation of New Zealand – and believe me, folks, you wouldn’t want to live in Hong Kong.

So, there we have it.

Which is the real Don Brash? And do we really care?

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