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Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

3 October 2017 1 comment

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Red-Green, Blue-Green?

There is mischief-making afoot.

Suggestions for a National-Green coalition are being floated by various right-wing commentators, National Party figures, and some media pundits. Despite Green Party Leader, James Shaw, repeatedly ruling out any such possibility – the suggestion continues to circulate.

On  election night, as TOP leader Gareth Morgan realised his party would not reach the 5% MMP threshold, he made the bizarre comment that the Greens should join with National in a formal coalition;

“I want them [the Green Party] to do what we would’ve done if we had been above five, and say to National who are gonna be the Government it’s very obvious, we will work with you, we need to work on the environment no matter who the Government is.”

To which Shaw predictably responded;

“My view is that he would have been better off backing a party that had similar ideas, like us.”

This was reiterated for the NZ Herald;

Shaw said he would not being making contact with National, but he would take a call from National leader Bill English.

“It’s my responsibility to do so. And we’ll have to see what they’ve got to say. But one of the things I will be saying in return is ‘You know we campaigned on a change of government and you know what was in our manifesto … and how incongruous that is to what the National Party policy programme is’.”

On 25 September, right-wing political commentator and mischief-maker, Matthew Hooton, again raised the proposal for a National-Green coalition on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel;

“And then there’s the other one, of course, there’s the National-Green option, which is  favoured by National party members… it’s an interesting one…”

On the same day, on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, former PM Jim Bolger repeated the National-Green coalition possibility to host, John Campbell;

“…The Greens might be quietly reflecting on whether they, unique in the world as a Green party, should only link themselves to left-wing politics. Whereas  the environment is neither left wing or right wing, frankly. The environment is the environment, it’s Mother Earth we’re talking about.

And I just wonder whether or not they won’t reflect on towards the National government that signed up to the Paris Climate Accords and have set in place the process to reach  the goals that was set out there.

So I’d imagine in a quiet back room the Greens might be saying, ‘Why? Why are we saying we can only go with one party?’, eg the Labour party, and you might watch this space if I was you, John.”

Bolger’s hippy-like ‘Mother Earth’ musings was followed by Tracy Watkins. Writing for Fairfax media on 25/26 September, she still laboured under the impression that a National-Green coalition was a real ‘thing’;

Like Winston Peters, the Greens could theoretically hold the balance of power, after National made it clear it is more than willing to talk turkey with the minor party.

[…]  Some senior Nats consider a deal with the Greens more desirable than a NZ First deal – the Green’s environmental platform is seen within National as something it could accommodate, particularly after the clobbering it took over clean water during the election campaign.

That highlighted to National that its credibility on environmental issues and New Zealand’s 100 per cent pure brand needs some serious work – and a Greens deal would be a simple way to enhance its environmental credentials.

There is also recognition that a deal with the Greens would be more forward looking and more likely to ride the mood for change than a deal with the NZ First, whose policies are more backward looking.

Peter Dunne followed on Radio NZ’s Morning Report on 27 September, with his call for a National-Green coalition;

“The best option in my view … is for the Greens to be very bold, work out that they could make significant changes on climate change policy, and go with National.”

Note that this suggestion came from Peter Dunne, who recently chucked in his own political career rather than facing  Labour’s Greg O’Connor at the ballot box.

Where was Dunne’s own boldness?

What happened to his own United Future Party?

Even a chat-show’s sports commentator put his two cents worth in. The AM Show’s Mark Richardson suddenly decided that commentating on grown men kicking balls around wet paddocks wasn’t enough of a challenge for him. Duncan Garner decided to prompt Richardson to offer the public his  suddenly new-found “political expertise”.

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Mark Richardson, Sports Presenter (now moonlighting as a political pundit)

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Richardson complied, and sagely advised;

AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson is dipping his toe into the political pool again, this time splashing his ideas at the leader of the Green Party.

Introduced by his colleague Duncan Garner as a “political expert”, who has “decided that you [Green Party leader James Shaw] should listen to him and this is what he wants to say.”

The cricketer-turned-broadcaster challenged Shaw to form a coalition government with National, following the stalemate reached in Saturday’s election.

I just want to say James,” said Richardson, directly to camera, “be a risk taker and back yourself, but not only back yourself, back that band of hopeful young administrators you take with them (sic),” he said.

How ‘delightful’ that National supporters and other sundry right-wingers are encouraging the Greens to be “bold”  and “risk takers”. After all, if such an unlikely coalition were to eventuate, the damage wreaked upon the Green Party wouldn’t impact one iota on the likes of Morgan, Hooton, Bolger, Dunne, Richardson, et al. But it sure as hell would destroy the Greens and eliminate the Labour Party’s only reliable potential coalition partner.

Game over for the Left.

So no surprise that a whole bunch of people on the Right and media have suddenly focused on the Green Party;

  • For media pundits, they are suffering from boredom and a debilitating psychological effect called ‘lackofheadline-itis’. With coalition negotiations unlikely to commence until Special Votes have been counted and announced on 7 October, manufacturing “news” by positing a fantasy fairy tale of the Greens linking up with National creates headlines. It’s as close to fake news as we’ll get with the msm.
  • For National Party supporters – such as AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson (see above) – such a deal with the Green Party would lend legitimacy to a fourth term National government. Make no mistake, the Green Party is a powerful brand, and the Nats want it. Badly.
  • For the National government, should any  such a coalition eventuate, the kudos for any environmental gains would inevitably be snapped for themselves, as it did with the home insulation deal it made with the Green Party in 2009;

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Success for that  programme was claimed solely by the Nats;

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But as the fate of small parties such as ACT, United Future/Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party demonstrated with crystal clarity, snuggling up close to the National Party goliath is akin to trying to cuddle up to a ravenous lion. It will not end well.

Just ask Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox.

So National would benefit two-fold.

By contrast, it is unclear what gain (if any) the Greens could hope to achieve.

National and sundry right-wing commentators should knock off trying to use the Green Party as pawns in any negotiations with NZ First. Trying to use the Green Party as “leverage” will simply not work. The Green Party refuses to be anybody’s “lever”.

Just to be absolutely clear – because evidently, having it in writing, in black and white, on the Green Party website – is insufficient for some people;

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Matthew Hooton can’t count

Also on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel on 25 September, right-wing political commentator,  Matthew Hooton, stated that National’s vote on Saturday was better than previous elections;

“Admittedly partly as a result of the decline of the Conservative Party, National has won more votes, got a higher proportion of the vote than it did in 2014 and 2008…”

It is unclear what Hooton has based that assumption on, as his statement is contradicted by the Provisional Results from the Electoral Commission.

According to the Commission’s website, the National Party gained the followed percentage and individual votes for 2008, 2014, and 2017;

Election Year Party
Votes
%
Votes
2008 1,053,398 44.93%
2014 1,131,501 47.04%
2017* 998,813 46.0%

(* Preliminary results)

The numbers are clear; National’s vote has fallen by 132,000 and their percentage of the Party Vote has fallen by over one percentage point from 2014. (And whilst National’s Party vote percentage was higher this year than 2008 – they still suffered a drop in actual votes by 54,585.

Even the demise of Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (aka, CCCP) failed to lift National’s poll results.

Whichever way you look at it, the tide is beginning to ebb on National’s fortunes.

Stuart Nash wins Napier outright

Following the 2014 General Election, I pointed out that Stuart Nash’s win in the Napier seat was due more to Garth McVicar splitting the right-wing vote, allowing Labour to slip through to victory. As I reported on 26 September, 2014;

Nash did not “win” Napier.

The National candidate, Wayne Walford lost the electorate when Garth McVicar from the Conservative Party split the right wing vote in the electorate. Remember; electorate contests are still fought using First Past the Post – not by any  proportionality or preferential voting.

The actual results were;

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

Add McVicar’s 7,135 to Walford’s figures, and the combined 17,443 would have trounced Nash easily.

On Election Night 2017, Stuart Nash did not had the benefit of a popular Conservative Party candidate splitting the right-wing vote. Instead, he won the seat outright;

Candidate
 Stuart Nash (L)
18,407*
 David Elliott (N)
14,159*
 Laurence Day (CCCP)
200*

* Figures provisional.

 

Not only did Nash retain his overall majority, but McVicar’s 7,135 votes from 2014 appears to have been evenly split between Nash and Elliott.

This time, Nash can legitimately assert that he won the Napier seat without vote-splitting creating an artificial majority, as happened three years ago.

Winston Peters waiting for Special Votes

It’s not often that I agree with NZ First leader, Winston Peters. But on 27 September he told the media;

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

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said… please don’t write the kind of thing saying someone has moral authority…we are not first past the post here.”

He’s right.

Until Special Votes are counted, making statements to the media is an exercise in futility. It would be pandering more to the dictates of the 24-hour news cycle rather than offering anything constructive to the public.

At this point the media will have to exercise patience and simply accept that until Special Votes are counted, nothing can (or should) happen.

The democratic process cannot; must not; should not, revolve around the 24-hour news cycle.

The Curious resignation of  Wayne Eagleson

Something very, very curious has transpired in the dark coridors of power in the Beehive. The Prime Minister’s Number 2, right-hand man, Wayne Eagleson  announced his resignation on 25 September.

Eagleson was one of several high-ranking National figures who were informed that Winston Peters had received a superannuation overpayment.

On 26 September, both English and Eagleson vigorously denied leaking – or having knowledge of who might have leaked – information on Peters’ superannuation overpayments;

It didn’t come from the National Party.” – Wayne Eagleson

No, not all. I take people by their word that no action was taken by my staff in making that information public.” – Bill English

Now, aside from the fact that Bill English has already shown himself willing and capable of telling lies, by repeating Steven Joyce’s fabrications over Labour’s “$11.7 billion hole” and “increased personal taxes”, there remain an interesting question regarding the statements made by the Prime Minister and Wayne Eagleson.

Namely this: How can either English or Eagleson know with absolute certainty that the leaking of Peters’ personal superannuation details did not come from someone/anyone connected to the National Party?

If they truly  know – with 100% certainty – that no one in the National Party leaked the information; how do they know this? How is that possible?

In fact, it is not  possible.

In that respect, both English and Eagleson are covering up the possibility that the leak emanated from someone within the National party or government.

And if both men are willing to take that small step to cover-up the merest possibility of an internal National Party leak… would it be too much of a stretch to assume that one or both are fully aware of who the leaker is?

Why did Eagleson resign – especially at this very crucial time of coalition negotiations?

And what does Winston Peters know of why Eagleson resigned?

One salient fact fact is indisputable: someone did leak that information. The question is not who was responsible – but who else knew who was responsible.

Wayne Eagleson knows more than he is letting on, as does Bill English.

Winston Peters has had his ‘utu’.

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References

Mediaworks:  A phone call between National and the Greens would be a short one

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon Political Panel – 25.9.2017 (alt.link)

Radio NZ:  Former PM Jim Bolger on how to deal with Winston Peters (alt.link)

NZ Herald:  Green Party leader James Shaw rules out contacting National

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

Radio NZ: Morning Report –  Dunne predicts ‘blood on the floor’

Fairfax media:  Mark Richardson declares himself as a National supporter, does that matter?

NBR: Govt launches ‘Warm Up NZ’ programmed

National Party:  10 ways National is helping families get ahead

Green Party:  How you vote has never been so important

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2011 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2008 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Electoral Commission: 2014 Election Results – Napier (Alt.link: Wikipedia – Election Results – Napier)

Electoral Commission: 2017 Election Results – Napier (Provisional)

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

Mediaworks:  Bill English’s chief of staff quits – but wants NZ First deal first

Radio NZ:  Timeline – Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayments saga

Mediaworks:  As it happened – Parties prepare for election negotiations

Other Blogs

The Standard: How a National/Green coalition could work

Previous related blogposts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 September 2017.

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

7 March 2014 3 comments

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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From the Xtremely Looney Files

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

From the laughable, on the chemtrail conspiracy theory,

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

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

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

… to the offensive,

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

… to nasty, ignorant, religion-inspired judgementalism,

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

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

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

… to this very strange exchange on TV3,

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

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

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

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

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

Something you want to tell us, Colin?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be a Good Thing, right?

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

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

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References

Fairfax: Craig focusing on ‘upside’ of media

NBR:  Colin Craig not sure man walked on moon

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

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

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

NZ Herald:  Act Leader Jamie Whyte stands by incest comments

Scoop Media: National bows to minimum wage myths

NZ Herald: Society right to discriminate – Craig

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

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

Fairfax: Lobbyist links gay marriage to crime rise in NZ

NZ Herald: McVicar stands by claim over gay bill

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Colin Craig Conservative Party

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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The lunatics are running the Asylum

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political pressure - how it works

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Nearly two years ago, Finance Minister Bill English expressed  a rather startling frank admission;  that prisons were a “moral and fiscal failure” (see: Prisons: ‘moral and fiscal failure’?)

As the ODT article reported,

Mr English said the plans had been in the pipeline for some years and were part of “this Government’s policy and public pressure for tougher sentences and a safer community”. But, he added, he hoped it would be the last prison the Government built because “they’re very, very expensive: $250,000 a bed [in capital costs] and $90,000 [per prisoner] to run it, and when we’re tight for money, it would be good if we could have … less young people coming into the … pipeline where they start with a minor offence and end up with a 10-year sentence.”

Mr English might have dispensed with the phrase “when we’re tight for money” because if, for large numbers of those convicted of committing lesser crimes, prisons do not work – over time, considerable evidence shows, they make communities less safe rather than more – it is arguably irrelevant whether we are tight for money or not.

Acknowledgment: IBID

It was an unusually candid admission, as right wing politicians often use the “law and order” mantra to (a) frighten people  and (b) promise to ‘crack down on crime’. National used this strategy in 2011,

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National hoarding staying strong on crime

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One of National’s “get tough on crime” policies was it’s so-called “Three Strikes” law – the  Sentencing and Parole Reform Act – passed two years ago  in May, 2011.

The system of ‘strikes’ would be applied for after each conviction, and escalate sentencing;

* Strike one: Judge decides sentence, gives a warning, offender eligible for parole.

* Strike two: Judge decides sentence. No parole.

* Strike three: Maximum jail term for that offence. No parole, except for manslaughter (minimum non-parole period of 20 years).

The list of crimes covered by the Three Strikes law is listed here: Sentencing and Parole Reform Act.

On 26 May,  then-Corrections Minister Judith Collins, rejected  criticisms that a conviction under the Three Strike offences could be for something minor,

“This bill deliberately puts in place an escalating regime of penalties, and I make no apology for that. An offender who is being sentenced at stage three has committed a third serious violent offence and has received two previous warnings about the consequences of re-offending in this way.”

Acknowledgment:  Controversy continues after three strikes bill passed

Despite Collins’ and other National/ACT MPs assurance, it appears that the Three Strikes law will soon swallow up Elijah Akeem Whaanga (21).

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Anger at 14-year strike 2 warning

Acknowledgment: Dominion Post –  Anger at 14-year strike 2 warning

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Only psycopathic, rightwing nutjobs were applauding this tragic waste of human life, and subsequent waste of tax-payers’ money,

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the case showed the law was working. Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar agreed, saying the sentence of two-and-a-half years’ jail with no parole was “fantastic”.

Acknowledgment:  IBID

Whaanga, according to the article (and reading between the lines) may be afflicted with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – a nasty condition which affects the brain and mental developments of  unborn babies within the womb. It is caused by alcohol consumption by the pregnant mother.

The symptoms can include,

  • Learning disabilities,
  • poor academic achievement, math skills, abstraction,
  • difficulties with impulse control,
  • social perception,
  • problems with communication,
  • memory,
  • lack of attention,
  • judgment

See: Wikipedia – Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Having worked with people with this condition, I can confirm that  mental impairment can be considerable, and no less a disability than other intellectual/mental disabilities. In many instances, a low IQ is clearly apparent.

If Whaanga has FASD, then putting him away for fourteen years would be tantamount to locking someone up with a mental disability who has difficulty managing and balancing concepts of right, wrong, responsibility, and consequences.

As Judge Adeane said,

“When you next steal a hat or a cellphone or a jacket or a skateboard you will be sent to the High Court and there you will be sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment without parole.”

It costs around $95,000 per year to keep a person in prison. To keep Whaanga in a cell for fourteen years will cost the taxpayer $13,300,000 .

It costs around $95,000 per year to keep a person in prison. To keep Whaanga in a cell for fourteen years will cost the taxpayer $13,300,000 .

If you think this is bad enough, imagine a hundred Whaanga’s at $13,300,ooo per person. We’re talking over $1.3 billion.

If that is not insanity from our elected representatives – please tell me what is?

For $1.3 billion the State could buy more effective social-support services, monitoring,and rehabilitation for people like Whaanga.

But that would take imagination and compassion.  Thus far, National ministers appear to demonstrate precious little of either trait.

Well, New Zealanders got their “tough on crime” government.

Now it’s time to pay for it.

I wonder how many schools will have to close to pay for Three Strikes?

Addendum

As more and more prisoners spend decades behind bars for their third strike offence, it will be a boom time for private prison contractors such as SERCO. Expect SERCO shares to rise every time a third strike offender is convicted and sentenced to their privately-run prison.

Memo To Sharebroker,

Sell: Mighty River Power shares.

Buy: SERCO shares.

Memo to National ministers,

Close:  ten more schools.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 May 2013.

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Acknowledgments

Newsdesk:  New Zealand passes 3-strikes law (26 May 2010)

NZ Herald: Controversy continues after three strikes bill passed (26 May 2010)

Otago Daily Times:  Prisons: ‘moral and fiscal failure’? (24 May 2011)

Dominion Post:  Anger at 14-year strike 2 warning (28 April 2013)

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Not so sensible justice

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internet_lynch_mobs_Cleverbot_said_Im_correct-s391x337-96144-535

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By now we should all be aware of the influence and power of the internet. It has allowed the world into our homes, workplaces, and lives, in an intimate way.

It can facilitate relationships; be a powerful tool for popular causes; assist the democratic process; and it can be a vital tool for rapid acquisition of information – a boon for bloggers like me.  On occassion it has allowed us to “meld” into a single, focused ‘mind’, to exert a  coherent action to affect the physical world.

It also has it’s much darker side. The internet can reflect the most base of human emotions; hatred, anger, paranoia, fanaticism, xenophobia,  a thirst for revenge, and other irrationalities.

Those who maintain that the internet is somehow less “real” than the physical world underestimate it’s influence in our lives.

I foresee the growth of a potential great evil, which will place incredible  pressures on our judicial system and perhaps even undermine it.

We have already witnessed individuals using the net to circumvent name suppression, or to foment mass-hysteria targetting  prominent individuals.

Soon after David Bain was found not guilty on five counts of murder in June 2009, at least one website sprang up vociferously maintaining his guilt, and several on-line fora were filled with strident commentary expressing all manner of irrational accusations.

It has been suggested that the concerted force of this stridency had a degree of  influence on Judith Collins throwing out Justice Binnie’s report and recommendations for compensation.

There was  the case of  far right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater, who in September 2010, wilfully broke name suppression of convicted New Zealanders, and in the process  identified the victim of a sex-abuse case. He justified his actions as being some kind of (mis-guided) campaign against name suppression. (See:  Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater guilty)

And recently there was the chap who published the names and images of those alleged to have attacked  cricketer,  Jesse Ryder.

Jordan Mason felt he could take it upon himself to “name and shame” the two men charged with assaulting Jesse Ryder – even though the pair have not yet been tried or convicted. (see: Jesse Ryder attack: Accused felt he had to ‘name and shame’ men)

Garth McVicar’s latest proposal is another step further along the road toward a dystopian near-future. One where  Cyber Mob ‘Justice’ holds undue influence on our judicial system,

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Trust to launch website to 'name and shame' judges

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ: Trust to launch website to ‘name and shame’ judges

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Garth McVicar’s populist vigilantee organisation, the so-called “Sensible Sentencing Trust” is planning a website that has one core function; to be an instrument of punitive reaction against judges who do not measure up to the Trust’s vision of retributive  ‘justice’.

This “Naming & Shaming” has one agenda only – to encourage and foment an influence on our judiciary that is separate from the law, and puts power into the hands of a small clique (McVicar and his cronies). It would exploit the lowest common denominator in our society – ignorance, fear, hatred, and a hunger for violent revenge – and exploit Mob Mentality to achieve it’s ends.

Who amongst us is  not disgusted by the vileness of  certain criminals and their horrific misdeeds. Our primal urge is to exact a fitting revenge – usually involving copious amounts of pain, and a much-shortened life-span. It’s an urge that lurks in the deepest recesses of our reptilian brains.

As a consequence of the socialising aspects of civilisation, we’ve left those urges (mostly) behind us. Though it can be useful when  governments plan  resource-wars against other nations.

The ‘net – as we also know – allows that veneer of civilisation to be stripped away and our primal instincts for punitive  revenge to surface and expressed in emotive terms. The cloak of anonymity can embolden the meekest.

Have a look at the political messageboard forum on TradeMe, and you’ll understand what I mean.

McVicar’s group understand the power of the ‘net to further their agenda for a more punitive society – and they are going hard out to achieve it.

On this issue, I stand with Justice Minister Judith Collins and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson;  who oppose this  ill-disguised step toward mob-”justice”.

Little wonder that the  New Zealand Bar Association condemned this lunatic idea,

We join with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General in condemning this proposal. The Bar Association regards the step as being ill-considered, totally unnecessary and likely to give rise to illegality as contempt of court.

What is being proposed amounts to little more than on-line talk back radio – likely to attract debate and comment of similar quality but with the added disadvantage (or advantage, depending upon one’s perspective) of being permanently available and accessible in the blogosphere.

Judges have an extremely difficult job. They are constantly required to make hard decisions under the mounting pressure of increasing case loads, exacerbated by diminishing resources. Their decisions are rightly the subject of appeal processes which are open and transparent. The daily work of a Judge in court is done publicly and is scrutinised by the news media. If the conduct of a judge is questioned, that conduct can be the subject of complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

Acknowledgement: Scoop – NZBA President on Sensible Sentencing Trust Website Proposal

The author of this statement, Stephen Mills QC, added – and I emphasise the point,

In our society the freedom to criticise is a valued and protected right, but as with most rights there is concomitant responsibility. The responsibility here is that criticism of the judicial arm of our democracy must be responsible, accurate and measured. These characteristics are frequently absent on talk back radio and they are unlikely to be a feature of the invited public comment on this website, given its stated objective.

Making critical comments via email to a website affords the critic a degree of anonymity that is likely to encourage a lack of responsibility in what is said. This is likely to improperly and unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Understandably, the Bar Association has labelled McVicar’s dangerous idea as “irresponsible”  – because that it precisely what it is. The gradual  under-mining of the judiciary would become the inevitable  reality. Ultimately, no one could possibly benefit from this.

It is worthwhile to consider that there are sufficient numbers of disturbed individuals who could take the existence  of  such a website as a license for vigilanteeism. Even those with less nefarious intentions, acting with collective thought and “righteous”  belief, could place pressure on individual judges who would have little means to resist.

Remember the fuss made over the proposed  “Wellywood” sign on Wellington’s hills? This was the online response,

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wellywood

Source: Google

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Which lead to physical-world protest action,

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Poll shows majority opposed to Wellywood sign

Acknowledgement: Otago Daily Times – Poll shows majority opposed to Wellywood sign

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Now extrapolate into others areas of human activity.

Law enforcement and members of the judiciary are vulnerable.  As happened recently in the United States (though no evidence yet exists of  internet-vigilanteeism being a factor),

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Texas district attorney third law official killed in weeks

Acknowledgement: BBC – Texas district attorney third law official killed in weeks

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On 18 April, on Radio NZ’s Nine To Noon programme, Kathryn Ryan interviewed “Sensible Sentencing Trust” spokesperson, Garth McVicar. He told Kathryn,

“… So ultimately the way it’ll work is some of  the judges that are brought to our attention, and we do our due diligence and think, you know,  by our research that we believe they are consistently getting it consistently getting it wrong, they will be named on that  site, as will some of the previous history and some of the decisions they’ve made that we believe earn them the right to be on the site.”

Acknowledgement: Nine to Noon – “Judge the Judges” website to be launched

In other words – we have the potential for a witch-hunt for judges who, by McVicar’s “research that we believe they are consistently getting it consistently getting it wrong, [and] they will be named on that  site “.

Some obvious questions are,

  • Who decides the criteria of  McVicar’s stated “due diligence“?
  • Who will be tasked with bringing “judges… to our attention“?
  • Who decides what constitutes “consistently getting it wrong”?
  • Who decides what aspects of “previous history”  will “ earn them the right to be on the site“?
  • What right of appeal or response will judges be given? The right of appeal is the most basic of rights for a person accused of a “mis-deed”?
  • How will the information be presented?
  • How will judges be identified?
  • Who will be accountable if information is incorrect, or presented out of context?

This Web Vigilanteeism is an unpredented and dangerous road that McVicar and his mates are taking.

Later that same day, on Radio NZ’s Jim Mora’s panel-programme,  to a question from the Host as to how such a website could be moderated, Garth McVicar was at pains to reassure listeners,

“… I’m not sure if many of your listeners know Ruth Money but she’s no fool. And some of the people that are behind her and putting this together are no fools. So it will be well monitored. It won’t become a rant, for,  you know,  a rave site for people to rave on like some of the other sites I believe are. I don’t bother even  looking into them. This is going to maintain the credibility of the organisation… “

Radio NZ – The Panel with Irene Gardiner and Michael Deaker (Part 1)

Sorry – no. That’s not reassuring at all.  McVicar cannot control the end-use of any information that his group publishes on the web. Ruth Money (a SST administrator/spokesperson) may be “no fool” – but who knows about the state of mind of people rreading it?

And if a judge comes to harm – can the SST be held to account?

After all, they are demanding that judges be held to account.

Earlier in this piece, I wrote of the “growth of a potential great evil”.

My fear is that taken to it’s end-conclusion, ‘net-based “Justice” could begin to influence the judicial process more and more.  The day when citizens go on-line to ‘vote’ on the Guilt or Innocence of a person charged with a crime is a far-fetched fantasy.

I would like to keep it that way.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 April 2013.

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References

Otago Daily Times – Poll shows majority opposed to Wellywood sign (24 May 2011)

BBC – Texas district attorney third law official killed in weeks (1 April 2013)

Scoop – NZBA President on Sensible Sentencing Trust Website Proposal (18 April 2013)

Radio NZ – Trust to launch website to ‘name and shame’ judges (18 April 2013)

Radio NZ – Nine to Noon – “Judge the Judges” website to be launched (18 April 2013, audio)

Radio NZ – The Panel with Irene Gardiner and Michael Deaker (Part 1) (18 April 2013, audio)

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Has Garth McVicar finally lost the plot?!

20 January 2013 15 comments

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image 003

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As reported in Fairfax, on 20 January – Garth McVicar, of the so-called “Sensible Sentencing Trust”, seems finally to have  “lost the plot” with this gobsmacking rant at a Parliament Select Committee hearing on marriage equality,

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Lobbyist links gay marriage to crime rise in NZ

Full story

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McVicar went on to state, in quite unequivocal terms,

Furthermore, the bill represents a further decay and erosion of the traditional family that society has been founded on.”

See: IBID

So if we understand McVicar correctly, there will be a  “decline” in  ” the traditional family ” if marriage equality is allowed to go ahead?

Aside from the sheer nonsensical and unproven nature of such a bizarre belief, it occurs to this blogger that ” the traditional family ” has been under stress for a long time – before marriage equality became an issue these last couple of years.

Take for example the story of 19 year old Robert Moulden.

Reported in the same issue of Fairfax media as the story above, Mr Moulden recently pleaded guilty in  Auckland’s District Court last year, to desecrating and vandalising Jewish graves,

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desecrated graves

See: Merciful Jews forgive Nazi grave vandal

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Mr Moulden, to his credit, took responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty. In an act of human compassion and forgiveness, the Auckland Jewish community has rallied to support the young man to undertake further, higher education to turn his life around.

Mr Moulden’s background is all too common from young men and women who have become socially alienated,

His parents split up at an early age, he then goes from pillar to post . . . he goes to different schools, he’s shifted around, he has no stability, no base to call his own.”

See: IBID

Which indicates to me the depth of  Garth McVicar’s ignorance and bigotry.

Dysfunctional families have been with us for decades (centuries, even).  A cursory study of the backgrounds of those dysfunctional families of beaten, sexually abused, and  murdered children will reveal one salient fact; they all had heterosexual parents/guardians/partners.

If  Garth McVicar wants to be critical of the circumstances surrounding declining  ” traditional families “, he’s looking in the wrong place. Perhaps he should first look at three decades of neo-liberal reforms which has resulted in increased poverty; fewer jobs; a widening gap in incomes; and small towns losing their economic base as industries have closed down,

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Raetihi

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And if he’s got this so horribly wrong – what else is he stuffing up? Could it be that his “Sensible Sentencing Trust” is also built on a swampy mire of mis-information and ignorance?

McVicar has done the cause for marriage equality a great service. He’s demonstrated how shonkey and intellectually corrupt opposition to equality actually is.

Has it ever been different when a group in society struggles for justice? Emancipation for women? The universal right to vote? The Black civil rights movement in the United States? The struggle to end apartheid in South Africa?

So it goes on, to this very day. New struggles for equality – facing the same old bigotted arguments why some should not have equal rights.

Get back to your cave, Garth.

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