Posts Tagged ‘Dunedin’

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill…

1 November 2013 12 comments

The following images were provided (anonymously) to this blogger. They show one Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill on 21 August. The message, “John Key is big brother” was painted on the footpath outside National List MP, Michael Woodhouse’s, office…


GCSB Protest - Dunedin - 2013 (1)


 GCSB Protest - Dunedin - 2013 (2)


 GCSB Protest - Dunedin - 2013 (3)


 GCSB Protest - Dunedin - 2013 (4)


 GCSB Protest - Dunedin - 2013 (5)


GCSB Protest - Dunedin - 2013 (6)


Thanks to the person who sent in the images – and kudos for not spray-painting the building with the message.

The question now, is, will an incoming Labour-Green government repeal the GCSB Act, or will it tolerate the creeping growth of State power and surveillance in this country?



= fs =

Random Thoughts on Random Things #5…

21 October 2013 1 comment

From Dunedin’s “Star” ( a weekly community newspaper, published by the ODT) on 17 October;


Government not ‘abandoning’ city
Michael Woodhouse National Party List MP


I share concerns around the proposal to relocate jobs from Invermay to the new Lincoln hub. But it’s important to have balance in the discussion, and that balance has so far been missing from the pages of our local daily paper.   

The Minister of Science and Innovation, Hon Steven Joyce, has assured Dunedin the proposal will receive a high level of scrutiny, and has committed to testing the proposal further with the AgResearch board. That’s appropriate. AgResearch is a Crown Research Institute, independent of Government.   

David Cunliffe has strongly inferred that a Labour-Greens government may reverse the board’s decision. However, he stopped short of committing to do so.   

The Opposition is well aware Parliament would need to change the law in order to make that happen, breaking down the long›standing separation that protects our crown entities from direct political interference.   

They steadfastly refused to do that in their nine years in government when restructures and even redundancies were being proposed by crown entities and State›owned enterprises.   

The Opposition should be required to clarify their real position, rather than get away with offering the Dunedin community weasel words they have no intention of honouring.   

I also note that for all Mr Cunliffe’s hand›wringing over the proposal and its impact on Otago, when facing a Dunedin audience, he was lauding the positive impact the AgResearch proposals would have for Massey University when speaking in Palmerston North recently.   

Mr Cunliffe cannot have it both ways.   

Either Labour opposes the proposed merger, or it doesn’t. Either it will commit to reversing the decision should it take power, or it will not.   

No-one wants to see jobs move from the city. But it’s completely wrong to suggest the Government is abandoning Dunedin. There are now more doctors, nurses, students and academic positions than when we took office. Port Otago is reporting record freight movements, house prices are holding up, and there are many other positive signs of growth.   

I look forward to working with the new city council to continue promoting this city to the world.


Source: The Star


Isn’t it interesting…

National List MP, Michael Woodhouse, devotes seven out of his eleven paragraphs bagging Labour, The Greens, David Cunliffe, and Uncle Tom Cobbly… but nowhere does he offer any practical solutions to a major crisis affecting Dunedin’s local economy. The gutting of the Invermay Agresearch centre will be a further blow to Otago’s regional economy – one that appears to have no rational basis (see:  AgResearch staff ignored)

One of National’s taxpayer funded spin-doctors really should take Mr Woodhouse to one side; whack him about the face with a wet fish; and advise him that criticising the Opposition’s suggestions whilst offering none in return – is not a particularly good look.

Especially when Mr Woodhouses’ own colleagues seem to be endorsing the gutting of Invermay:  Govt says AgResearch restructure is ‘logical’,

“It’s tough for individuals that may have to shift, but the upside is that I think we’ll get a much greater impact for our research investment in the agricultural area, which is really important to New Zealand.” – Steven Joyce, Economic Development Minister

What was that you were saying, Mr Woodhouse?

At this rate, don’t count on winning a local electorate seat any time soon.



= fs =

Guest Author: Dunedin election – my guide to who’s left and who’s not

Mark Baxter


Sick of vacuous DCC/etc candidate blurbs that don’t even tell you if most candidates are left or right leaning?

I am. I take local representation seriously – I want to know how Councillors will vote on important issues on Council before they get my vote.

So here’s my list of who’s left and who’s not. V1.1


DCC – Mayor

 I will be voting for

 Aaron Hawkins – will be my number 1 ranked vote for mayor as his policies are the ones I most support. Also, voting for Cull as number 1 risks being interpreted as support for the status quo. 

  • Dave Cull – will be my number 2. He hasn’t been totally shite, and is possibly the best of the rest. Even if you don’t like him that much, it’d pay to have him ranked somewhere on your list as insurance against the only 2 other potential contenders (ie Calvert or Vandervis – see below) sneaking in.

Mayoral Candidates to Avoid:

 Hilary Calvert – former ACT MP (was demoted by ACT, which is quite an achievement), free market, cut community support, sell assets, etc dogma. Like most ACT folk she isn’t above making presenting opinion as fact. Oh, and even righties in the know will be quietly avoiding her as she seems quite barmy – I’ve had more than one conversation with her where she’ll contradict herself, sometimes in the same sentence, and appear not to notice.

  • Lee Vandervis – a buddy of mine, but we’re on opposites of many things political. He was useful in fighting unnecessary spending, but some of what he considers unnecessary likely are things the traditional left call social services. Plus he probably is too divisive to be an effective mayor. That said, I’ll rank him no. 3 (ie right below Cull) on my mayoral vote – as insurance against Calvert (ie this vote would only be counted if Cull doesn’t win).
  • Oliver Lequeux – seems businessy but hard to say exactly where he sits as he makes Calvert look like a rank amateur in the ability to contradict oneself in the same sentence stakes. Probably mostly a righty. FYI he cited a French Trotskyite party as the party he most identified with, as above, it’s hard to know if he was taking the piss, or if he somehow believes that stance was  in any way Trotskyite. Also arrogant beyond simply being any cultural misunderstanding.
  • Andrew Whiley – very right-wing at the forum.
  • Pete George – has some ok-ish sounding stuff and keen on DCC being more democratic, but gave a couple of dodgy answers to Gyro in their mayoral interview re students. And is a United Future supporter.   

 DCC – Central Ward

 Central Ward – Worth a Look Lefties & Left-leaners:

 These people will be in my top rankings for Central Ward votes.

 Teresa Stephenson – arguably the most left of current councillors, has been helpful working on getting OPSA’s concerns to Council. Haven’t had much to do with her lately so I have no idea if she deserved the mauling she got by the ODT’s report cards (I can’t imagine so, as she’s always button-holing me about Council business whenever she sees me). Applause for her was well down at candidates meeting, so perhaps she needs votes more than ever (for this reason I might rank her #1 on my list).

  • Aaron Hawkins – Green candidate, left, previously has his own good ideas for civic development etc. Will be ranked near the top of my list; certainly will be an asset on Council.
  • Jinty McTavish – incumbent, young leftyish. Good responses at forum. Will be near the top of my list.
  • Neville Peat unsure of his exact politics but he was always one of the more helpful councillors when I’ve submitted to ORC on student needs. His answers were reasonably lefty and sensible at the forum (left, realistic, and not being shafted for short-term or fantasy gains). Eco focused outlook.
  • Francesco Hernandez – left and some potentially good initiatives, but can be wacky and sometimes out of touch with others. I share concerns over his ability to recognise his own competence limits, but he’d be more of a positive influence than a negative one, especially in what he’d vote for and against, and certainly a good in for student/education issues, so he’ll be somewhere on my list. 
  • Richard Thompson – leftish, gave all the right answers at candidates’ forum and seemed genuine and competent. Background with anti-smelter at Aromana movement and manages Acquisitions. Some with unspecific negative comment about him from previous employees. He’ll be on my list, but probably at the bottom of this group as needs my vote less than those above.
  • David Benson-Pope – Unbelievably I’ll likely have him in this top ranking group, he gave all the right answers at candidates meeting, and seemed to be genuine about the why (as opposed to a skilled politician saying what people want – which he made indeed be).

Central Ward – Buffer Group:

In my rankings list these people will go below the group of people above, in that I prefer the people above primarily, but I’d prefer these people below instead of the righties.

  • Kim Mitchell – gave some good answers at the forum, but came late (she had to work) so not a full range of evidence to judge. Probably leftish. She will be near the top of this buffer group of votes – and probably should be higher.
  • Tat Loo – also gave ok answers, but hard to know exactly how he’d actually vote. Clearly states that he is against asset sales. Labour ideals. Also towards the top of this buffer votes group – and possibly higher.
  • Nicholas, Letisha – young, some good lefty answers, but careful not to go off her Greater Dunedin script.
  • Irene Mosley – gave ok answers, but hard to say for sure how she’d vote. Probably leftish. Also Greater Dunedin. Buffer.
  • Chris Staynes – from his answers at the forum I initially classed him as a rightie, but after some further clarifications he is more left-leaning than right (eg no infrastructure asset sales), and certainly sympathetic to the left whilst keeping an eye on the city’s finances. Greater Dunedin.
  • Kevin Neil – hard to say, his blurb sounds standard pretty right-wing fare (eg cut consents red-tape, Council just do core work, etc) and he has that smug conservative Christian zealot look you feel you’d like to punch in the face – but he but gave mostly good answers in the forum (and when he explained his points above they were less right ideologue that they sound) leaving one thinking “shite, actually I might like to have a beer with him instead of punching him”. I suspect he’s certainly not as right as he’s come across, and could even be a bit left in some areas. I’ll likely put him towards the bottom of my buffer votes as even if he is a righty I’d rather him than the dyed-in-the-wool righties.
  • Dave Cull – on the remote chance he doesn’t win mayor he’d still be useful on council, so I’ll be ranking him around here.

Central Ward – Unknown Possibly Left or Left-leaning:

  • Christine Garey – Makes specific reference amongst her generic statements to “I want to live in a city where public transport is affordable” and also notes the importance of cycling safety. Potentially leftish. May be worth ranking low in one of the groups above.
  • Julian Crawford – ALCP. Single issue of little relevance to local bodies imho. Seems to offer little else. But maybe worth adding somewhere as a protest vote if ACLP are your thing.
  • Kevin Dwyer – almost completely lacking in detail and fairly uninspiring in most of the available literature. Possibly well intentioned but hard to establish his political leanings.

 Central Ward – Unknown Possibly Right-leaning:

 Pete George – has some ok-ish sounding stuff and keen on DCC being more democratic, but gave a couple of dodgy answers to Gyro in their mayoral interview re students. And is a United Future supporter.  

  • Nigel Harwood – civil engineering background. Another candidate lacking in detail, other than saying he wants more jobs for Dunedin. No sign of him being left-leaning.
  • Phillip Cole –focus on improving public transport options but not a fan of spending money. Wants to cut all non-core projects to reduce Council debt – hard to determine what non-core is code for (he gives South D library and Mosgiel pool as examples). Has a few potentially interesting ideas, but probably right-leaning.
  • Lindsay Harrison – Mister Minit. Supports oil exploration and stupidly high hotel more or less unconditionally. Probably a right-leaner.
  • John Evans – has a theme of smaller government and personal responsibility, pointing to right-leaning. Also Nazi comment made to Critic.
  • Malcolm Dixon – literature is all generic statements. Owner of Terry’s Beggs. At the last election he wanted to introduce 30 minute free parking, quite on cycling and buses though. Possibly safe to assume he is right-leaning.

Central Ward – People to Avoid:

 I will not be ranking any of these candidates

 Hilary Calvert – former ACT MP (was demoted by ACT, which is quite an achievement), free market, cut community support, sell assets, etc dogma. Like most ACT folk she isn’t above making presenting opinion as fact. Oh, and even righties in the know will be quietly avoiding her as she seems quite barmy – I’ve had more than one conversation with her where she’ll contradict herself, sometimes in the same sentence, and appear not to notice.

  • Oliver Lequeux – see above in mayoral candidates.
  • Rachel Elder – right wing with right-wing rhetoric.
  • Warren Voight – right-wing at the forum and in his rants. Stood for Democrat Party 2011.
  • Andrew Whiley – also very right-wing at the forum.
  • Tom Ross – mostly right-wing ideas and outlook. Seemed an affable old chap, but was unaware of the facts behind many of the issues he commented on at the forum.
  • Conrad Steadmen – right leaning, real-estate agent and ex-policeman (and Sally Army iirc) so draw your own conclusions). Boring, conservative, and mostly right focused.
  • Ali Copeman – right-wing; “very happy” with the status quo. Her most important requirement for council structure is that it is “business friendly”. She’s the Director of the Otago Chamber of Commerce.
  • Paul Hudson – nice old-school conservative (the sort that acknowledges welfare is needed unlike these new-school ACT folk). Right, but with a heart – but will vote with the old boys at the end of the day.


 I will be ranking the following group in my ORC vote

 Michael Deaker – incumbent, been somewhat a supporter when I’ve submitted on cheaper/better buses. He genuinely seems to want a working bus network rather than some other incumbents who give the impression it’s a job they’ve been lumped with and don’t care that much about.

  • Marc Schallenberg – competent, nice guy, green interests (important to have on ORC) and offers a background in evidence-based decision making.
  • Gretchen Robertson – green interests (important to have on ORC)
  • Trevor Kempton – maybe, like Deaker, he at least mentions public transport (if not access equity issues).

ORC – Noteworthy:

  • Stephen Woodhead – not a lefty at all, but not an unreasonable righty ideologue (ie he will actually listen to arguments).

 ORC -People to Probably Avoid:

  • Bryan Scott – thinks the limit on public subsidies on bus fares is about right at only 50% but can’t give any logic for why 50% is about right.

SD Health Board

I will be ranking the following in my SDHBvote

  • Donna Matahaere-Atariki – a passionate advocate for the right to health, especially for the most vulnerable members of society. No visible campaign so probably desperately needs number 1 votes.
  • Richard Thompson – experienced, strong advocating for Otago focus. See Central Ward comments above.
  • John Chambers – “100% committed to the public system”, and mentions that all staff including cleaners need to be consulted in developing strategic plans. Sounds left-leaning.

SDHB –Maybes

I’ll consider ranking the following as they seem the better of the rest of a non-descript bunch

  • Graham Roper – seems to attack the “it’s all about the money” focus.
  • Mary Gamble – questioned high IT costs in the face of cuts to health services (ie what eventually rumbled Sawn).


  • Peter Barron – had an advertising complaint upheld against his Huntsman Steakhouse that “used sexual appeal to draw attention and degraded women in general”. The ad, published in the community paper, showed a woman holding a slab of raw steak in front of each of her bare breasts.
  • Paul Douglas – “land disposals to reduce deficit”, potentially right-wing (not sure, maybe they have land that is genuinely not needed?).

About this list

These are my personal opinions, which I’ll be basing my local body votes on. They are based on information from:

  • Candidate’s own comments at forums & media
  • Official candidate info booklet
  • Candidate profiles published in ODT, Critic, Star, & Gyro
  • Profiles on website
  • Profiles on Greater Dunedin website
  • Random Facebook & Google searches
  • DCC Councillor’s pages
  • My personal & professional experience with candidates
  • Opinions from trustworthy sources

I encourage you to contact candidates directly and ask them how they’ll vote on issues and concerns you have.



= fs =

Mark Baxter

Lies, Damned Lies, and National Party Campaign Advertising

25 October 2011 4 comments



National currently has a set of eight billboards, each featuring Dear Leader’s face, plus a short “statement of intent”, such as “Balance the Books Sooner“, “Building Better Public Services“, etc. They’re catchy and  positive-sounding.

But when compared to National’s real track record over the past three years, the current crop of National Party election hoardings is right up there with Soviet-style propaganda and Orwellian Double-Think. The phrase  “barefaced strangling of Truth”  comes to mind.

Let’s ‘test’ National’s “statements of intent”…



The first question is “sooner than who“? No one else is currently in government. And when Labour’s term of government ended, they had paid down net debt to about 5.6% of GDP. In dollar terms, Labour paid down NZ’s sovereign debt from approximately $25 billion in 2001 to about $10.2 billion by 2008.


NZ Net Sovereign Debt 2001 - 2009 (Source NZ Treasury)


Considering that only half of our sovereign debt  – $18.4 billion – is due to the cost of rebuilding Christchurch,  the remainder is due to two tax cuts (April 2009 and October 2010) which we could ill-afford as a nation. Those tax cuts mainly benefitted high-income earners and the top 10% of this country’s wealthiest.

The top 150 “rich listers” wealth increased by a staggering twenty percent in just this year alone.

So really, we are borrowing money from overseas, to stuff into the pockets of the richest people in this country.

Does that sound remotely sensible?

The second question is who pays to “balance the books”, after borrowing billions to pay for tax cuts?

Answer: who do you think?

So the next time you see one of these billboards, promising  to “Balance the Books Sooner” – don’t forget why those books need “balancing” in the first place, and who will be paying for that “balancing”.



When I see this billboard around town, all I can see is this: “EXPORT MORE REAL JOBS”.

Like the case of the contract for new  rail wagons that was awarded to Chinese companies, rather than our own workers in Dunedin and the Hutt Valley. Result; around 70 jobs lost.

Little wonder that Dunedin’s mayor, David Cull was angry,

This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?”  Source

Minister of Transport Steven Joyce responded by saying,

The reality is KiwiRail has been treated like Cinderella for too long. This Government will not place requirements on KiwiRail which we don’t on any other government or private-owned company.” Source

It’s obvious how little Steven Joyce cares about his fellow New Zealanders losing their employment.

It seems we’re already very good at exporting… Dairy products… Seafood… Timber… And jobs.



All I can say to this is that starting the rebuilding seems to be taken an awful long time.

In the meantime, we’re losing timber sawmillers through lack of demand. At a time when the construction industry should be going through massive growth – we are seeing Fletcher shares dropping in value and uncertainty in the industry. How can Fletcher’s profits be falling at a time when an entire city requires re-building???

Other jobs are also being lost in Christchurch. And the dole queues grow.

But yet again, it seems that this government is quite content with “exporting” jobs to overseas workers.

Despite Dear Leader’s cheery (if vacant) smile on the billboard, there seems little to be happy about. Certainly the lack of leadership, action, and jobs is nothing to be happy-clapping about.



This particular billboard has a weird, dark, ominous feeling to it.

What, precisely, is the “welfare incentive to work”? If National is hinting that it plans to abolish or reduce social welfare – let them come out and announce it to the public.

At the same time, they can announce where the neccessary 154,000 new jobs are, to take on the unemployed.

Let’s not forget that those on unemployment are not there by choice. Let’s not forget that the December 2007 Quarter Household Labourforce Survey unemployment rate stood at 3.8%.

Then the full impact of the banking crisis and global recession hit us.

Unemployment reached7.3% in the  December 2009 Quarter Household Labourforce Survey.

As of August this year, the jobless rate has fallen to 6.5 per cent – just under twice that of 2007.

So, Mr Prime Minister, an “incentive to work” can be something as simple as having jobs available. But having contracts to manufacture rail wagons going to China, or allowing Irish builders to work on Christchurch’s reconstruction will not be very useful to anyone.

Threatening the unemployed with “the stick” is not as effective as offering them a “carrot” – a job.



Building rail“?!

What new rail are you referring to, Dear Leader???

In fact, as far as I am aware, Mr Key, your government is cutting  back on funding public transport in Auckland,


Full Story


Telling fibs again, Dear Leader?

As for the rest,

  • Building roads. Yes, you are. But wouldn’t greater investment in public transport make more sense?
  • Fast broadband. Again, yes. This government is subsidising  telcos to the tune of $1.5 billion to build a fast broadband network throughout the country. (I thought subsidies were a naughty thing in the world of the free market?)



This one is probably one of the top two most asinine claims for National to be making. The voting public would have to be practically braindead, with the IQ of a wild mushroom, to put any credibility on this statement. Of all the campaign statements that National has ever uttered, nothing screams Arrogance! better than this billboard.

Less debt“? “Less debt” than who – Rarotonga?

The government’s borrowings have exploded almost exponentially, until we currently owe $18.4 billion to various lenders overseas.

If  more borrowing equates to  “less debt” , I’d like to see my bank manager agree to lend me a few million!

As for “lower interest rates” – obviously no one in the National Party campaign committee passed this by the Finance Minister, Bill English,


Full Story


Can I send impending increases in my mortgage rates to Bill English or John Key to pay?



Again, I’ve no idea what this statement is supposed to mean; “staying strong on crime”.

Does it mean locking up offenders for longer periods?

Does it mean more prisons?

Well, not according to Bill English, who recently admitted that prisons were a “moral and fiscal failure”,


Full Story


And the Prime Minister has recently suggested that we might not need any new prisons,


Full Story


So what, exactly, does “staying strong on crime” mean? Well, nothing really. It is basically a meaningless utterance that panders to the red-neck, lock’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key element in our society. As long as these low-information voters are kept happy, National is assured of a few more votes on Election Day.

This last billboard is probably the one that would most rankle with many people – especially those 2,000+ who have lost their jobs in the last few years, as government cuts back on state workers,



I’m not quite sure with how a “better” public services can be “built” when this government has effectively been gutting it. Despite clear committments from John Key and Bill English that National would only cap the civil service and not cut numbers,

National’s rebalancing of the tax system is self-funding and requires no cuts to public services or additional borrowing.” – Bill English

If National is elected to lead the next government, I personally guarantee that we will:  ensure government spending is focused on frontline services such as health a education by capping the number of bureacrats…” – John Key

That promise has been well and truly broken.

Sacking over 2000 workers who have worked with dedication and loyalty is hardly a fitting reward.

For such political statements to be made successfully, and without looking like liars and fools, politicians require only that the Voter has not been paying attention. Otherwise politicians would not dare put such rubbish out for  public consumption.

It’s simply amazing what garbage politicians will feed us, if they think they can get away with it.




Full Story