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National’s Food In Schools programme reveals depth of child poverty in New Zealand

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Recently obtained OIA figures from the Ministry of Social Development reveal that 836 schools currently participate in the Kickstart food-in-schools programme. The programme began in 2009, between Fonterra and Sanitarium, to address a growing child poverty crisis.

According  to MSD’s data, over 100,000 breakfasts  are served to 27,061 children on a weekly basis.

This is in stark contrast to John Key’s claims on 5 November 2014, that hungry children in schools was only a minor problem;

“I do not believe that the number of children who go to decile 1 to 4 schools who do not have lunch is 15 percent. I have asked extensively at the decile 1, 2, 3, and 4 schools I have been to. Quite a number of principals actually even reject the notion that they need breakfast in schools. Those who do take breakfasts in schools tell me that for the odd child who does not have lunch, they either give them some more breakfast or provide them with lunch. But what they have said to me is that the number of children in those schools who actually require lunch is the odd one or two.”

The odd one or two” is contradicted by the ministry’s own figures which states that from 13 December 2013, “more than 5.9 million breakfasts  have been served since expansion“.

This would tally from Key’s own admission, on 18 October 2011, that poverty in New Zealand was continuing to worsen under his administration;

Mr Key made the concession yesterday when asked about progress with the underclass, saying it depended what measures were used but recessions tended to disproportionately affect low income earners and young people.

He said he had visited a number of budgeting services and food banks “and I think it’s fair to say they’ve seen an increase in people accessing their services. So that situation is there.”

National expanded the Kickstart programme in May 2013, in response to growing public disquiet and clamour to address the spectacle of children turning up hungry in our schools. It was also in response to Hone Harawira’s  Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill (aka, “Feed the Kids” Bill), which had been included six months earlier in the private member’s ballot system.

As Harawira explained in May 2014,

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"I know this bill isn't the full answer — that families need more work and better wages to feed their kids every day all week long and that much more needs to be put in place to turn around rising child poverty levels in Aotearoa. "All I want to do with this Bill is make sure our kids get fed while this is being done."

I know this bill isn’t the full answer — that families need more work and better wages to feed their kids every day all week long and that much more needs to be put in place to turn around rising child poverty levels in Aotearoa.
“All I want to do with this Bill is make sure our kids get fed while this is being done.”

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National’s subsequent, watered down programme to feed hungry children was derided by then-Labour leader, David Shearer;

“National’s been dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line on this. It’s only through public pressure and the pressure of Opposition parties like the Labour Party that’s got them there. But overall, it’s good for those kids who go to school hungry.”

In June 2013, then Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, assured Radio NZ that only another hundred schools would take up the expanded Kickstart programme.

By the beginning of 2014, the programme was expanded to include all decile 1 to 10 primary, intermediate, and secondary schools.

However, MSD’s Deputy Chief Executive, Murray Edridge,  revealed that there had been a “47 per cent  increase since the expansion of the programme” in 2013;

“82 per cent of all participating schools are now providing KickStart breakfasts for more than two days per week and 58 per cent of schools are serving breakfasts for all five days of the week.”

This is at variance with Key’s assertions – made as late as 19 March last year – that hungry children going to school was not a problem. In minimising the problem, Key said;

“These are the facts,” Mr Key said. “At Te Waiu o Ngati Porou School, Ruatoria, Decile one, how many children came to school without lunch – answer – zero.”

At Sylvia Park School, decile two – there one or two kids, and at Manurewa Intermediate, a decile one school with a roll of 711, perhaps 12 had gone to school with no lunch.

Yes there is an issue where some children come to school without lunch. That number of children is relatively low.”

The rise in demand for KickStart breakfasts occurred at the same time as those on  welfare benefits was cut dramatically;

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said today the 309,145 people on benefit at the end of the December 2014 quarter was 12,700 fewer than last year.

“This is the lowest December quarter since 2008 and the third consecutive quarter with such record lows,” Tolley says.

Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit had fallen by more than 5500 since last year and had declined consistently since 2010, even as the overall working age population increased.

Even children with disabilities did not escaped this government’s culling of welfare recipients;

More than 11,000 disabled children have lost access to a welfare benefit that is supposed to support them, as officials try to rein in previously-ballooning costs.

A Child Poverty Action Group report on disabled children, launched in Auckland today, said children supported by the child disability allowance almost trebled from 17,600 in 1998 to 45,800 in 2009, but were then cut back to just 34,500 last June.

The cut has been achieved both by tightening criteria and by simply not publicising the allowance.

The problem of hungry school children drew John Key’s attention as far back as 2007, when he was still Leader of the Opposition;

National launches its Food in Schools programme
Sunday, 4 February 2007, 1:21 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

John Key MP
National Party Leader

3 February 2007

National launches its Food in Schools programme

National Party Leader John Key has announced the first initiative in what will be a National Food in Schools programme.

“National is committed to providing practical solutions to the problems which Helen Clark says don’t exist,” says Mr Key.

During his State of the Nation speech on Tuesday, Mr Key indicated National would seek to introduce a food in schools programme at our poorest schools in partnership with the business community.

Mr Key has since received an approach from Auckland-based company Tasti foods.

“I approached Wesley Primary School yesterday, a decile 1 school near McGehan Close, a street that has had more than its fair share of problems in recent times. I am told Wesley Primary, like so many schools in New Zealand, has too many kids turning up hungry.

“We’re putting Tasti and Wesley Primary together. This is a fantastic first step. In addition to this, Tasti has indicated they may wish to expand their generous donation of food to other schools in need, and we’ll be looking to facilitate that.

“We all instinctively know that hungry kids aren’t happy and healthy kids.”

Mr Key is also inviting other businesses to contact National so it can work on expanding the programme.

“I want this to be the first of many schools and businesses that we put together. I’m interested in what works and I am humbled by the support this idea has received already. We are going to put together the package while in Opposition. We are not waiting to be in Government, because all our kids deserve better.”

According to National,  this was a critical problem in 2007.

Yet, on 19 March, National and it’s coalition supporters voted down Mana’s “Feed the Kids” Bill (which had been taken over by the Green Party after Hone Harawira lost his Te Tai Tokerau seat in 2014). The Bill was defeated 61 to 59, courtesy of National, ACT, and Peter Dunne.

MSD also disclosed that 26 applications for participation in the KickStart programme had been declined. This included Early Childhood Education (ECE) providers. No reason was given despite the OIA request specifically asking the basis for which applications were declined.

This indicates that pre-schoolers are presently attending ECE facilities and going hungry.

The MSD also admitted that Charter Schools – which are funded at a higher rate than State and Integrated Schools – also participate in the KickStart programme. Their information did not reveal how many or which Charter Schools were participating. The MSD statement confirmed that “the provision of the [KickStart] programme  does not affect a school’s funding“.

Kidscan currently lists fourteen schools that are still awaiting “urgent support, that’s 1,661 children waiting for food, clothing and basic healthcare“.

In contrast, several European nations provide free meals to school children;

The school lunch provides an important opportunity for learning healthy habits, and well-balanced school meals have been linked to improved concentration in class, better educational outcomes and fewer sick days. Given the importance of these meals, what is being done across Europe to ensure all children have a balanced and enjoyable lunch?

Many countries in Europe have policies to help schools provide nutritionally balanced meals which also reflect the general eating culture of each nation. Often, lunch is eaten in a cafeteria-like setting where children receive food from a central service point (e.g. Finland, Sweden and Italy).

In Finland and Sweden, where all school meals are fully funded by the government, lunches follow national dietary guidelines including the ‘plate model’. An example meal is presented to guide children’s self-service…

Finland – which consistently scores highly in OECD PISA educational rankings – introduced free school meals in 1948;

Finland was the first country in the world to serve free school meals. 1948 is seen as being the year when free school catering really  started, though catering activities on a smaller scale had been around since the beginning of the 20th century.

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Section 31 of the Basic Education Act states that pupils attending school must be provided with a properly organised and supervised,  balanced meal free of charge every school day.

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The role of school meals is to be a pedagogical tool to teach good nutrition and eating habits as well as to increase consumption of  vegetables, fruits and berries, full corn bread and skimmed or low fat milk.

Interestingly, the Finns describe free school meals as an Investment in Learning;

In Finland, we are proud of our long history of providing free school meals…

… A good school meal is an investment in the future.

With rising housing and rental costs, and wage increases  at or below inflation, not every family can successfully balance budgets to ensure a nutritious meal for their children. When it comes to a decision whether to pay the power bill, or cut back on groceries for the week – it is often the latter that is sacrificed.

The Salvation  Army recently  outlined the problem of the phenomenon known as the “working poor“;

Every week 314 new people contact the Salvation Army for assistance, and those who are currently working are often at risk too.

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The Salvation Army says it is meeting more and more responsible people who have experienced misfortune that has derailed their lives.

It believes the cost of rent is a dangerous factor, even for those working.

“It doesn’t leave a lot of room for something to go wrong,” says Jason Dilger, a representative for the Salvation Army. “I do believe there are a significant number of people out there who are vulnerable.”

It says an increasing number of Kiwis are living pay-by-pay, but ideally everyone would have a financial safety net set aside to help with any unexpected hiccups.

“So many people aren’t even in a position to think that way because they’re just trying to meet expenses week to week.”

In a 2014 report, the Salvation Army stated;

Given the recent growth in the number of jobs available and the gradual decline in levels of unemployment, we should have seen a  tapering off in demand for food parcels from food banks. We have not seen this. Such demand has remained virtually unchanged since 2010, which suggests that many households are still struggling to pay bills and feed their family despite the economy recovery. Overall living costs of low income households appear to be moving in line with general inflation.

Which illustrates that the problems faced by poor, lowly-paid, and beneficiary families is not choices in expenditure – but low incomes which fail to meet the many day-to-day, week-to-week, demands placed on them.

From the 1950s through to the  1970s, a single income was often sufficient to raise a family and pay the bills.

In contemporary New Zealand, this is no longer the case. Falling rates of home-ownership is just one indicator that incomes are not keeping pace with rising costs of living.

Growing child poverty is another symptom of the increase in inequality since the mid-1980s. Prior to the 1980s, food banks were practically an unknown rarity;

Nationally, the number of foodbanks exploded following the 1991 benefit cuts, and the passage of the Employment Contracts Act (ECA). For those in already low-paid and casual jobs, the ECA resulted in even lower wages (McLaughlin, 1998), a situation exacerbated by the high unemployment of the early 1990s (11% in 1991). The benefit cuts left many with debts, and little money to buy food (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). In 1992 the introduction of market rents for state houses dealt another blow to state tenants on low incomes. By 1994 it was estimated that there were about 365 foodbanks nationally, one-fifth of which had been set up in the previous year (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999).” – “Hard to swallow – Foodbank Usage in NZ”, Child Poverty Action Group, 2005

Shifting responsibility for this ever-growing problem onto  victims of inequality and poverty is a form of denial. It is little more an attempt to evade the problem, especially when no practical solutions (other than class-based eugenics) are offered.

Addressing the real causes of poverty and working-poor will be a tough call. Ensuring that all children are provided nutritious meals at school is the first step down this road.

As John Key said nine years ago;

“We all instinctively know that hungry kids aren’t happy and healthy kids.

… all our kids deserve better.”

Indeed, John. I couldn’t have said it better.

Postscript

The MSD response to my OIA request also confirmed that the increased up-take of the KickStart programme was not restricted solely to low-decile schools;

Since the expansion [in 2013] 170 schools rated decile five or higher have joined the programme.

Which indicates that schools in middle-class areas are now requiring State assistance to feed hungry children.

 

 

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References

Email: OIA Response from Ministry of Social Development

Kickstart Programme: Home

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

NZ Herald: 300,000+ Kiwi kids now in relative poverty

Parliament Today: Questions and Answers – November 5

Scoop media: Hone Harawira – Feed the Kids Bill

NZ Herald: Harawira’s ‘feed the kids’ bill begins first reading

Radio NZ: Govt gives $9.5m to expand food in schools programme

Radio NZ: Government to expand food in schools programme (audio)

Kickstart Programme: FAQ

NZ Herald:  Government votes down ‘feed the kids’ bill

Radio NZ: Parliament rejects free school lunch bills

Fairfax media: Beneficiary numbers fall again: Government

NZ Herald: 11,000 disabled children lose welfare benefit

Scoop media: National launches its Food in Schools programme

Radio NZ: Ministry says charter schools “over-funding” is $888,000

Kidscan: Supporting Schools

European Food Information Council: School lunch standards in Europe

Wikipedia: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – 2012

NZ Federation of Family Budgetting: Why are so many of us struggling financially?

Child Poverty Action Group: Hard to swallow: Foodbank use in New Zealand

Additional

Fightback: Feed the Kids, end the hunger system

NZ Herald: Number of Kiwi kids in poverty jumps by 60,000

Previous related blogposts

Can we afford to have “a chat on food in schools”?

National dragged kicking and screaming to the breakfast table

Are we being milked? asks Minister

High milk prices? Well, now we know why

Poor people – let them eat cake; grow veges; not breed; and other parroted right wing cliches

Poor people – let them eat cake; grow veges; not breed; and other parroted right wing cliches… (part rua)

Once were warm hearted

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 February 2016.

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Hekia Parata breaks law – ignores Official Information Act

7 December 2015 2 comments

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official-information-act-OIA-NZ

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A formal complaint has been laid with the Ombudsman’s Office after Education Minister, Hekia Parata, failed to comply with the Official Information Act.

A OIA request was lodged with the Minister’s Office by this blogger, seeking details of National’s Food In Schools programme, which was announced in May 2013. The limited programme, costed at $9.5 million, offered low decile 1-4 schools free milk and Weet-Bix throughout the school week. It would be run in conjunction with Fonterra, Sanitarium and children’s charity KidsCan.

The $9.5 million would be spread over a five year period, from 2013 to 2018.

More critically for National, the expanded “Kick Start” breakfast programme was promoted to directly counter Hone Harawira’s more comprehensive Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill which at the time was rapidly gaining traction throughout the country.

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food in schools

 

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Mana Party leader and then-MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, said on 24 January, 2013;

It’s a pretty simple bill really. Invest in making sure the 80,000 kids going to school hungry each week are fed and ready to learn and realise the benefits in better educated and healthier school leavers down the track”.

In Parliament, Harawira was clear on the benefits of his Food in Schools Bill;

It is nice to know that KidsCan feeds some 10,000 of them on most days, and that the KickStart Breakfast programme feeds about 12,000 a day, but the reality is that even with the Government’s announcement in last year’s Budget, nearly 80,000 children are still going to school hungry in Aotearoa every single day. Yes, schools around the country have started their own breakfast clubs with support from teachers, students, parents, local businesses, and the wider community, but they tell us that it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of goodwill to keep them going, and that having secure funding would be a godsend.

The really embarrassing thing is that nearly every country in the OECD, apart from us, already runs programmes to feed kids at school. Some countries like Finland and Sweden provide fully State-funded meals to every school student as part of a wider framework of child well-being. It is a commitment that sees them regularly top the international surveys in child health and educational achievement. Some countries provide free meals to kids with parents on low incomes, and others provide free meals to schools in areas of high deprivation. But although the approaches differ, they all share the same view, backed up by the same kind of research and information from teachers, doctors, nurses, and policy analysts that is available to us here: kids need a good feed every day if they are to develop into healthy and well-educated adults. New Zealand really needs to join the rest of the enlightened world and make a commitment to feeding our kids, starting with those in greatest need, to help them to grow well and learn well.

Harawira’s Bill was supported by a range of diverse groups and individuals ranging from Jamie Oliver’s Food Foundation, the NZ Educational Institute, as well as Child Poverty Action Group, Every Child Counts, Unicef NZ, Save the Children, IHC, Poverty Action Waikato, the Methodist and Anglican Churches (Methodist Public Issues and Anglican Action), Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora (Māori Women’s Welfare League), PPTA, NZ Principals’ Federation, CTU Rūnanga, the NZ Nurses’ Organisation, and Te Ora – the Māori Medical Practitioners’ Association.

Harawira’s Bill was estimated to cost upwards of $100 million.

This contrasts with the  Children Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, which reported in December 2012 that the total economic costs of child poverty ranged up to $8 billion;

Currently, the economic costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 billion per year
and considerable sums of public money are spent annually on remedial interventions. Failure
to alleviate child poverty now will damage the nation’s long-term prosperity. It will also
undermine the achievement of other important policy priorities, such as reducing child abuse,
lifting educational attainment and improving skill levels.

In July 2013, Herald journalist, Kate Shuttleworth, reported;

In December 2012 the Expert Advisory Group on solutions to Child Poverty – a group comprising policy, public health and law experts – recommended that a food programme starting with decile 1-to-4 primary and intermediate schools, be implemented as one of their six initial priorities for immediate release.

[…]

Figures show 270,000 children in New Zealand – one in four – live in poverty.

Dennis McKinlay, Chairman of ‘Every Child Counts‘,  stated that 169 countries had a food in schools programme.

Shockingly, the Bill was eventually defeated in a Parliamentary vote of 61 votes to 59, with ACT and Peter Dunne also voting against it. The New Zealand government spends billions on school infra-structure, but not to feed hungry school-children from poverty-stricken families.

On 27 October, this blogger lodged a OIA request with Education minister, Hekia Parata. The request sought answers to the following;

1. How much has been spent on the programme since 28 May 2013?

2. Is the funding still set at $9.5 million, over a 5 year period from 2013 to 2018?

3. How many schools are part of the programme?

4. It was initially available in decile 1 to decile 4 schools. Higher decile schools would be able to opt in from 2014. How many other, higher decile schools have opted into the programme?

5. Are there any figures as to how many children are participating in the programme? If so, what is that data?

6. Is there a time limit as to the length of time a school can participate in the programme?

7. Have any schools been declined participation in the programme? How many? For what reason?

8. Are Sanitarium and dairy cooperative Fonterra still participating in the programme? Have any other companies joined in?

9. Does the KickStart programme in any way affect a schools allocated budget?

10. Have any Charter Schools requested to join the programme? If so, how does this affect their funding?

By 12 November, after no response or even an acknowledgement, this blogger wrote again to Minister Parata;

On 27 October, I lodged this OIA request with your office. I have recieved no reply or even an acknowledgement.

Please advice whether or not you intend to respond to my OIA request. If not, I will proceed by laying a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office.

As at 29 November, no response had been forthcoming from the Minister’s office, and a complaint was laid with the Ombudsman’s Office. As this blogger pointer out in the complaint;

I do not believe it is satisfactory that a Minister of the Crown wilfully ignores the law and fails to follow her obligations under the Official Information Act.

Readers of The Daily Blog will be kept updated as this issue progresses.

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Addendum1

Parata has apparently “gone to ground” on this issue. It is not the first time she failed failed to respond to media enquiries; requests for interviews; or fronted at events for which she has direct responsibility.

From a blogpost published on 18 January 2013;

Muppet #1 – Hekia Parata

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I actually think she’s a very effective communicator; in fact if you look at her history in politics, she’s been one of the smoothest communicators we’ve actually had.” – John Key, 18 January 2013

See: Parata safe in her job – Key

Prime Minister John Key says Education Minister Hekia Parata will be safe in an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, … because she is hugely talented and one of National’s best communicators.

See: Parata’s job safe in shuffle

*snort!*

I’d be a happy chappy if the Nats DID have more like her in Cabinet!!

If she’s one of the Nat’s “best communicators”, I’d luv to know why she’s kept ducking calls for media interviews and instead sent Lesley Longstone to cover for Parata’s f**k-ups,

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2 October 2012

lesley longstone fronts instead of hekia parata (2)

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3 October 2012

Ministry of Education admits some errors in data

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4 October 2012

Education Minister avoids her critics

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26 October 2012

lesley longstone fronts instead of hekia parata (3)

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29 October 2013

Longstone challenged to find solutions

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14 November 2012

lesley longstone fronts instead of hekia parata (1)

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28 November 2012

lesley longstone Schools still beset by Novopay problems

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When Lesley Longstone’s resignation was announced last year on 19 December, Hekia Parata was still nowhere to be seen. The announcement was handled by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie (see:  Education secretary quits),

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19 December 2012

lesley longstone Education secretary quits

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20 December 2012

lesley longstone Parata, Key refuse to front over education debacle

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Parata’s office explained why she couldn’t front,

Parata is currently on holiday and has refused to front on Longstone’s resignation, but in a statement released this afternoon she thanked Longstone for her efforts in leading the Ministry.

See: Education Ministry boss quits after ‘strained relationship’

Hmmmm, judging by Parata not fronting for most of last year, was she on holiday for most of 2012?!

“Smooth communicator…”!?

Ye gods, this deserves a Tui billboard.

Roll on 2013 – it’s going to be a great year.

Addendum2

In January 2013, Hekia Parata’s responsibilities surrounding Novopay were transferred to Minister For Everything, Steven Joyce. Joyce was not above publicly denouncing those responsible for the Novopay debacle;

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government-sticking-with-novopay-for-now

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References

Kickstart Breakfast Programme

Radio NZ: Food in schools ‘could get good results’

Feedthekids: Support grows for MANA’s Feed the Kids Bill

Parliament: Harawira, Hone: Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill — First Reading

Feedthekids: Feed the Kids Bill a “good initiative” – Jamie Oliver Food Foundation

NZEI: Food in schools bill will help children learn

NZ Herald: Food in schools bill delayed for second time

Commissioner for Children:  Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty

NZ Herald: Head boy disappointed in Dunne over food bill

ODT: Joyce to take on handling of Novopay

Every Child Counts

Radio NZ: Government sticking with Novopay for now

Previous related blogposts

Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?

Karma for Key?

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The hypocrisy from world leaders overCharlie begins to rattle observers. NZ's John Key's words of January 8 in particular raised many eyebrows amongst the'4th Estate'. Rod Emmerson 14/01/15

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 December 2015.

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How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study

29 November 2014 1 comment
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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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Isn’t it interesting that Patrick Gower – who made his partisan feelings crystal clear on Twitter on 29 May with this extraordinary outburst;

 “Lalia Harré – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP http://www.3news.co.nz/Opinion-Hone-and-Dotcoms-grubby-deal/tabid/1382/articleID/346334/Default.aspx#ixzz334vE4jKO Same goes for your pals Hone, Dotcom, Minto and Sykes.

– is also the same one who interviewed Laila Harre on Saturday, 22 November, on TV3’s “The Nation”? What measure of  neutrality did “The Nation’s” producer, Tim Watkin, believe that Gower possessed, to run that interview?

Quite simply, any reasonable individual would have arrived at the conclusion that Gower should have disqualified himself and the role given, instead, to the highly talented Lisa Owen.

Notice how Gower was very well behaved during the interview, when face-to-face with  Harré?

But once Harré was off the set and he was with the panel (Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton), the gloves and mask came off and Gower’s vitriol issued forth;

“… She blamed Labour there, she blamed the Greens, she blamed the National Party, she blamed the media, she blamed Georgina Beyer, although she did say-“

“… I think there’s two words for what we saw over there, before and that’s called in denial. Hmmph!”

“… She’s not going to go in with the Greens, she’s betrayed them. Labour won’t have a a bar of her. No chance of Laila Harré coming back to Parliament. And that’s why you see this sort of denial from her. She’s got it horribly, horribly wrong and she still can’t admit it.”

It should be noted that neither Williams (an ex-Labour President) nor Hooton (a right-wing commentator) could possibly comment impartially on the Mana-Internet Alliance. Both Labour and the Right had a unified agenda to smash Mana-Internet at the election (See: 2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date). There was simply no attempt at balance with the panelists or the the host-interviewer (Gower).

What is abundantly clear is that Gower seemed to lack a certain inner fortitude to say the things he did to the panelists, to Harré’s face.

This was part of  an ongoing, unrelenting onslaught against the Left. The same dirty media that saw right-wing, self-professed “media personalities” appointed to host political debates, despite public opposition and cries of partisanship;

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Can Mike Hosking host the leader's debate - fairfax poll

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There was good reason for public disquiet over Mike Hosking hosting one of the election leadership debates. His political allegiance was already well known;

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"As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight. "We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government."

Hosking: “As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight.
“We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them [National] in Government.”

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An example of media bias was clearly shown over the issue of two holidays by two party Leaders. As I wrote on 24 July;

The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system.

We’re all aware that whilst Cunliffe took a three day break (I’m surprised he bothered to come back, instead of telling this country to go get f- – – – – !), our illustrious Dear Leader was off on a ten-day holiday, sunning his pale, $55 million arse, on a Maui beach in Hawaii.

Whilst the media did indeed mention that salient fact (albeit in passing), it was taken as a given that the leader of a party polling 50%-plus in the polls is entitled to a holiday.

Meanwhile, the leader of a mid-twenties-polling (?) Party is – it was hinted – not entitled to any such break.

The subtext was blindingly obvious; success breeds reward. In this case, a warm, sunny Hawaiian beach.

And failure means you don’t deserve a single damn thing, so get-back-to-work-peasant!

(See:  When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays)

Perhaps the most outrageous, recent political “hatchet job” was the Herald’s  character assassination scheme launched against David Cunliffe, using unproven (and later discredited) allegations from immigrant-businessman, Donghua Liu. The story behind Liu’s shonkey allegations; a 13 year old letter; and information strategically released by National minister, Michael Woodshouse, to Herald and TV3 journos, was nothing less than a disturbing abuse of ministerial power and media influence. (See:  The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed)

When a party leader continually receives bad press (eg; condemnation over taking a 3 day break; the colour of the scarf he wore; a manufactured “scandal” regarding a 13 year old letter, etc) what is the mainstream media telling this country?

At one stage the level of attacks against Cunliffe descended into pettiness and farce when, on TV3, on 24 July,  TV3’s Tova O’Brien ran this report on their 6PM News bulletin, about Key’s face appearing – photo-shopped – on the cover of the “Rugby News“;

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tova o'brien - tv3 - john key - cover rugby news - david cunliffe

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However, stuck at the very end of the video-version of the story, was this oddball, juvenile parting-quip by O’Brien;
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team. Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”

(See: When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien)

As I pointed out on 30 July,

Despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about Key getting his face photo-shopped onto a magazine and scoring some free election-year publicity – a supposedly well-educated, “impartial” journo still managed to somehow insert a childish comment about David Cunliffe. That’s despite the fact that Cunliffe’s comments were much more restrained and measured than the criticism  made by Winston Peters in the same video.

So there we have it, folks. Even when the story is about John Key – a silly little journo still managed to turn it into a swipe at David Cunliffe.

Such was the mainstream stream leading up to the election on 20 September.

Returning to Patrick Gower, there are three questions I would like to pose to him;

1. Why is it that Gower condemned the Internet-Mana alliance as “sickening” – but not the ACT-National deal in Epsom, with the same intensity?

2. Or the National-NZ First-Maori Party deal to endorse Labour’s Kelvin Davis over Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau?

3. Why was Dotcom’s funding of Mana-Internet such a big deal worthy of condemnation – but millionaires funding National and ACT is barely noted, in passing, if at all?

Otherwise, Patrick, this is not impartial, intelligent journalism.

It’s not even close.

Postscript1 (Brick-bat)

Note to MSM journos, sub-editors (those remaining), current affairs/news producers, et al) – ok, we get the “Stuart Little” reference,

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andrew little - stuart little

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Ho, ho, ho.

But enough already.

It was funny for the first thirty seconds. Now it’s just lame.

Message to journos: don’t be lame. It’s not cool.

Postscript2 (Bouquet)

For an excellent interview with a political leader (whether Labour, National, Greens, whatever), check out TVNZ’s Q+A today (22/23 November), where veteran reporter/interviewer, Heather du Plessis-Allan interviewed new Labour Leader, Andrew Little. This is how an interview should be conducted; the host asks the questions; the guest is given time to respond, without interuption.

All TV/radio hosts take note.

 

 

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References

Twitter: Patrick Gower

Pundit: Tim Watkin

TV3: Laila Harre stepping down as Internet Party leader

TV3: “The Nation” Panel – Patrick Gower, Mike Williams & Matthew Hooton

Fairfax Media: Labour claims Hosking’s biased

NZ Herald: Media – Hosking plugs car and Key

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

TV3: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

TV3: Stuart Little, leader of the Opposition?

TVNZ: Q+A 22/23 November

Previous related blogposts

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

When the mainstream media go feral: the descent into sheer farce, according to Tova O’Brien

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date


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media sensationalism and laziness - Jon Stewart

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 November 2014

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No More. The Left Falls.

29 September 2014 3 comments

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The Left Falls No More

We cannot be beaten down

Because we are down already.

We can only rise up

and if you should beat us down,

We will rise again. And again. And again…

And when you tire of beating us down,

We will rise up once again,

And look our Oppressor in the eye,

and say, ‘Rise up with us, brother,

for you may yet share our pain’.

                                                      – FM

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As passions settle, disappointment wanes to something approaching tolerable, and we start to look at things a bit more rationally, it’s time to review the last few days, weeks, and months…

Without a doubt, it is safe to say that the Left never expected expected the two results of the Election Night figures.

  1. That National would score so  highly, at 48.06%, (Specials still to be counted)
  2. That the Left would fare so poorly that even NZ First’s credible 8.85% result would make no appreciable difference to National’s success.

Once again, it appears that the Non-Voters – traditionally mostly Labour or left supporters  – gifted National the government for a third term;

Roughly a million people didn’t show up to vote for Saturday’s election, making it one of New Zealand’s worst turnouts in the last century.

An estimated 77.04 per cent of enrolled voters took part in the election, slightly higher than the 74.2 per cent turnout in 2011, which was the worst in percentage terms since before women got the right to vote in 1893.

This year’s result still ranks as the third-worst turnout in the last 100 years, with the number of non-voters almost tallying to the number of votes that went to National.

The estimated results are based on the 2,405,652 votes received before voting closed, which includes nearly 300,000 special votes that are yet to be counted.

Interestingly, in the same Fairfax article,  Victoria University politics professor Jack Vowles said,

“A small increase in turnout is what we would expect. There’s been a downward trend of turnout for some time, so any increase shows something has changed.”

My suspicion is that the polarising effect of John Key may have motivated more people to engage in voting. My own experience lends some credence to this, with past non-voters this year keen to engage in the electoral system. In plain english, Key has pissed off people to such a degree that they expressed their feelings through the ballot.

Unfortunately, the Left was in no position to focus this anger in any meaningful way. Young people chanting in unison, ‘Fuck John Key‘, may have been fun and cathartic – but it ultimately failed to translate into valuable votes.

Meanwhile, I offer my post-mortem, observations, and views of events…

David Cunliffe

I am not one to pick and choose Party leaders – especially for Labour. Besides which, I’ve always been more interested in policy factors than pretty faces.

However, I will offer my ten cents + 15% GST worth.

Has it ever occurred to the Labour caucus that replacing your Leaders after every electoral loss is counterproductive? I offer three reasons for this assertion;

1. How do you test your Leader in the fires of adversity, if you keep replacing him (or her) after each electoral loss? If your Leader is proven in victory – but unknowable in defeat – are you not missing a vital measure of the man  (or woman)?

2. Replacing your Leader after each defeat sends a curious message to the public. It suggests that you’ve made a mistake with your Leadership selection. In which case, if/when you choose a new Leader to replace Cunliffe – is that a mistake as well? If you have no faith in your Leader, even in dire adversity, why should we – the voting public?

3. It takes years for a Leader to become known and familiar to the public. Years to gain their trust. If you keep rotating your Leadership, you are in effect putting an Unknown Quantity before the public who will never get a chance to assess the man (or woman).

It took three terms for the public to get to know Helen Clark. After which she led three consecutive Labour-led governments.

For god sakes, learn from history.

Or be consigned to it.

David Shearer

I understand David Shearer’s simmering anger. I really, really do. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve gone ‘thermo-nuclear’ by now.

But he does himself and the Labour Party no favours with his behaviour in front of the media.

Shearer has every right to be angry. But dignity and self-discipline is a far better course of action than publicly under-mining his Leader. After all, when/if he assumes the Labour leadership again, he would expect a modicum of public loyalty shown to him.

Two words: Kevin Rudd.

Hone Harawira

The more times I met Hone Harawira, the more times I have been thoroughly impressed with this man. The word ‘mana’ was created to describe his real personality- not the isolated snippets chosen by the media to portray him as a “mouthy brown boy”.

Hone was condemned – mostly by the Right and a headline-seeking media and commentariat – for the ‘crime’ of having a rich benefactor.

Meanwhile, the National Party has a plethora of rick benefactors – and no one bats an eyelid.

Unfair? Of course it is.

But that’s New Zealand in the 21st Century. As a society, it seems we left fairness behind when we allowed ourselves to be tempted by neo-liberalism’s promises of  “aspirationism” and shiny consumer goods.

Men and women like Hone Harawira still exist in our fair, if considerably less-than-100%-Pure, country. But their values and notions of fairness, decency, and helping one-another is something that the public view with suspicion as a quirky notion from last century (much like Queensbury rules when two men engaged in fisticuffs) – and which an increasingly cynical, lazy,  and politically-captured media treat with disdain and derision.

The media subtext of Hone’s relationship with Kim Dotcom was simple; “You can be a ‘champion of the poor’ as much as you like. We’ll write patronising (if somewhat racist) stories about you to paint you as a loud-mouthed radical engaging in ‘envy politics’.”

But the moment Hone’s Mana Movement got all cashed up, things changed.

National is allowed money.

Even Labour.

NZ First and the Greens rely on branding for success.

But parties representing the poor?  No way. The rule from On High was simple: You want to represent the Poor and the Powerless? Fine, but you stay poor and powerless.

Hone broke that rule.

John Key

Key’s victory speech was par-for-course, and well scripted for him  by his tax-payer funded spin-doctors and media minders. The speech was a mix of humility and delight in his victory.

Part of Key’s election night victory speech referred to “serving all New Zealanders”,

“I can pledge this to you, that I will a government that governs for all New Zealanders.”

In fact, it seemed a re-hash of his 2011 victory speech,

“I will lead a government that serves the interests of all New Zealanders…”

Key’s sentiments were repeated in a John Campbell interview on 22 September, (the interview is worthwhile watching) where he spoke at length about his concerns for the most vulnerable in our society.  He pledged a third term Key-led government to improve their lives.

Trouble is –

  • His government has spent the first two terms doing very little about rising child poverty,
  • tax cuts have benefitted the most well off,
  • Increases in GST, prescription charges, and others costs-of-living have impacted on the poorest,
  • Inequality has increased,
  • Wages have fallen even further behind Australia

If Key failed to address the lot of the poor in the first six years of his governance – why should we take his word for the next three? Especially as National has lined up new legislation to further cut back worker’s rights; the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

Marginalising  workers’ rights will not reduce poverty; create jobs; or lift wages. It will only maximise profits for companies at the expense of workers.

As the editorial for the Otago Daily Times stated on 22 September,

“But while he is rapidly becoming one of this country’s most ”popular” prime ministers, there remains a gulf before he can go down in history as a ”great” prime minister. If that is Mr Key’s ambition, he is going to have to show that his role is, indeed, to serve all New Zealanders.

He and his Cabinet will have to strive to care for families, to try to ensure the poor are supported and not consigned to a demeaning and destructive underclass future. As well, alongside pursuit of economic development, this Government is going to have to protect the environment.”

Talk is cheap.

Actions count. So  far, we’ve seen precious little of it.

I look forward to being proved wrong.

Kelvin Davis

The day after Election Night, my feelings were running high and my views coloured by my passions. I may have written some things that, as my passions cooled, I reflect more wisely on matters in the clear light of day.

Not so with Kelvin Davis.

I stand by my initial statements;

Davis did not “win” Te Tai Tokerau. It was “gifted” to him as a dirty little rort, when John Key, Winston Peters, and the Maori Party told their supporters to vote for Davis, over Hone Harawira.

This was a disgusting, shabby example of dirty politics.

Kelvin Davis is “Labour” in name only and, like Peter Dunne and David Seymour,  he should not forget who his political patron really is: John Key. Davis is John Key’s errand boy.

Who knows – one day Key may call in the debt David owes him?

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom has been vilified and made the scape-goat of the election by many.  As if Hone Harawira’s defeat has validated the views of the Right Wing, and those who see Kim Dotcom as the villain of the piece.

I offer a counter-view, and one I believe equally as valid.

Let us not forget a few pertinent facts about Dotcom;

  • He was allowed entry into New Zealand by John Key’s government.
  • Dotcom has committed no crime in this country. He has yet to be tried for copyright infringements – a civil matter, not a criminal offense. And his convictions in Germany happened when he was 19 years old – a time when young people often fall foul of the law with drugs, alcohol, violence, driving offenses, teen pregnancies, etc. He is no criminal “mastermind”, despite the obsessive rantings of the Right. Dotcom’s past criminal record is only an affront to Right Wingers because he supports the Left.
  • Dotcom was instrumental in uncovering the fact that the GCSB had illegally spied on eighty eight New Zealand citizens or Permanent Residents. Until then, we had no idea what had been happening under successive Labour and National governments.
  • Dotcom has also uncovered the very real likelihood that the NSA/GCSB has been engaging in mass surveillance in this country – despite protestations  to the contrary by our Prime Minister (not noted for his scrupulous honesty) and the former GCSB director Sir Bruce Ferguson (under whom illegal spying had been taking place for years).
  • And Dotcom uncovered John Banks’ own dishonest activities regarding his election financial returns, resulting in the former ACT minister’s conviction and resignation from Parliament.

Kim Dotcom’s real ‘crime’ has not been copyright infringement.

His real ‘crime’ has been to turn his back on his fellow millionaires and political elites – the Oligarchs for whom power is the oxygen that sustains them – and to give financial support to one of the few people in this country to threaten their privileged positions:  Hone Harawira.

For the Right Wing – and the infantile lackeys who act as their on-line henchmen by constantly posting anonymous message demonising Dotcom – this was an intolerable situation. They could barely tolerate Hone Harawira’s existence. But as long as Hone was one lone voice in the political wilderness, he was left alone. Kelvin Davis’ previous attempts to unseat Hone came to nothing.

But when radical left-wing politics and Big Money became entwined, Hone Harawira became a threat that could no longer be ignored by the Establishment.

First, some in  the media responded. The venom dripped from this typical comment on social media, and was only less overtly spiteful in the mainstream media;

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

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Because Big Money funding the National Party is not  “rorting MMP”.

The vendetta – and that is precisely what this was – culminated in National, NZ First, and the Maori Party rushing at the last minute to endorse Labour’s Kelvin Davis;

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Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

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Hone's call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

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Harawira’s fall was compounded by the ‘Moment of Truth’, on 15 September,  failing to deliver certain promises made and hyped by Dotcom.  Ironically, it was not sufficient for New Zealanders to learn that were were living in a Surveillance State and all our meta-data was being collected by shadowy agencies. It was not enough to realise that our on-line and telephone privacy was a thing of the past.

We wanted the ‘dirt’ on John Key. That’s where the real sensationalistic headlines lay for the MSM. That would sell several million bucks worth of advertising to the punters.

And when Dotcom failed to deliver – stymied by legalities, I am informed – the media and noisy aspects of the public turned on him. Being spied on by the State was apparently nowhere as bad  as being denied a good political drama. We wanted Reality TV, made real, in our lounges, and our insatiable appetite for sensational gossip to be sated.

When that was denied us, we turned – like children denied access to our favourite TV programme or ‘grounded’ from internet access for 24 hours – on he who had promised us so much. We howled with rage and had Dotcom lived in our village, the good people would have gathered up their pitchforks and torches and made for his hut.

However, this is the 21st Century. We don’t do pitchforks and  blazing torches any more (OSH would have a fit!). The mob is more sophisticated now. We do lynchings on-line and in the media.

Far more effective.

Fewer blood stains to wash out.

It has been said that part of our peculiar national psyche is something called ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’. In this case the tall poppies were two men who dared challenge the Establishment, and were cut down for their troubles. This time, though, it did not happen in secret, behind closed doors, concocted by shadowy figures.

It happened in full public view.

If you think this happens only in movies, in America, and the good guy(s) always win – think again.

It happened here. We just witnessed it. And the good guys didn’t win.

Not this time.

See also:  Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?

Labour

One thing that Labour  apparently excels at is self-mutilation. As a fund-raiser, it could make truckloads of cash by catering to certain folk with BDSM inclinations. One hour of a good, hard flogging, $250. Humiliation and discipline – $150 per half hour. (So I’m reliably informed…) Ok, so you have to wear a lot of sticky leather or rubber gear, but hey, it’s all for a good cause, right?!

 

Since Labour’s loss on election night, Labour MPs have been more vocal and active than all their last campaigning over the past six months. None it it, though, any good. Airing the party’s “dirty laundry” is an act that beggars belief.

 

If Labour MPs believe that their current media appearance on Radio NZ, TV3, TV1, et al, are doing them any good – let me disabuse them of that belief. It is self-destructive.

 

It is self-harm on a party-political scale. It is sheer, unmitigated stupidity.Attentions Messrs Shearer, Goff, Hipkins, et al – the public are watching.Whoever leads the Party – whether it be Cunliffe or X – will be accepting a poisoned chalice that would fell a totara.

 

It makes the Labour Party look like a bunch of self-serving fools or witless muppets – take your pick.Is there any wonder why Labour keeps losing? Let me spell it out.

 

After each election defeat – 2008, 2011, 2014 – Labour indulges in public self-flogging and blood-letting. There is nothing remotely subtle or civilised or clever about the unpleasantness that follows.

 

It turns people off in droves.It turns voters away from Labour.

 

Three years later – another defeat.

 

Repeat cycle.

 

At this rate, Labour will become a third-rate Party, supplanted by the Greens which will become the main Opposition Party – and ultimately, along with NZ First (or it’s successor under Ron Mark) – lead the next Coalition Government.

 

This is how a once proud, proactive political party becomes an ossified institution, and ultimately irrelevant to peoples’ lives. Think – Alliance, post 2002.

 

To all Labour MPs, take my advice: STFU. Listen to your Leader (whether you support him or not) and keep your mouths closed. Sort your sh*t out in private, and in public, smile a Happy Face.

 

Otherwise, you can kiss your chances goodbye for 2017.

 

Media

 

The media pack is in full hunt. Their quarry – David Cunliffe.I swear TV3’s Patrick Gower was salivating at the prospect of doing a “Nosferatu” on Cunliffe’s neck;

 

“Labour is in crisis tonight with leader David Cunliffe apparently refusing to give up the leadership, despite the party’s humiliating election defeat…[…]So Labour is now in a civil war, with Mr Cunliffe trying to gag MPs.[…]The five potential contenders show just how fractured Labour is. The caucus has atomised and another leadership spill is the last thing it needs.”

 

With some journos seemingly actively campaigning for Cunliffe’s resignation,

Labour MPs have emerged from a seven-hour crisis meeting – and leader David Cunliffe is still refusing to go.After presenting the party’s new chief whip Chris Hipkins and his junior Carmel Sepuloni, he gave a short statement, but refused to say what happened in the meeting.His MPs have given him a bloody nose with their choices.

Including this anonymous (Mr Armstrong, I presume?) NZ Herald editorial;

“Labour needs to face the question of its leadership, nothing more. If Mr Cunliffe is going to appeal over the heads of his caucus to the membership and affiliated unions who elected him last year, he must imagine he can continue to lead a team that has little confidence in him. This will do Labour no good, as surely its members and unions now see.It is in the nation’s interest that the party finds a new leader quickly.”

 

This isn’t reporting the news. This is actively manufacturing it.
Is this how news “reporting” is now done in Aotearoa New Zealand?  The Fourth Estate appears to have become a de facto, quasi-political party.

They simply haven’t announced it to the public.

 

Stuart Nash

 

Some commentators (media, political, and blogs) are still adhering to the fiction that Stuart Nash “won” the Napier seat. Election night results, however, paint a different picture entirely;

 

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

 

Contrast to the 2011 result:

 

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 13,636

TREMAIN, Chris (National) 17,337

 

See where Tremain’s 7,000 votes went three years later?

Nash has now hinted  he is “not ruling out”  throwing his hat into the ring for an up-coming leadership challenge. If true,  Nash’s colossal ego has outstripped his common sense entirely. He is deluded if he really believes he won his seat on his own merits. An extra 405 votes is not a mandate when his ‘success’ was predicated on his  opponant’s vote being split by another right-wing candidate.

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The heading of this piece is wrong. It’s not, “No More. The Left Falls.”

It should read,

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The Left Falls, No More.*

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* With acknowledgement to a recent BBC movie, about a certain quirky time travelling hero in a blue box.

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References

Electoral Commission:  Election Results — Overall Status

Fairfax media: Voter turnout near record low

Youtube: Fuck John Key! [New Zealand Revolution]

TV3: Former GCSB boss denies Snowden’s claims

Maori TV: Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

NZ Herald: Hone’s call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

Fairfax Media: Hone Harawira accuses Maori Party of sabotage

Electoral Commission: Election Results — Napier

Wikipedia: 2011 Election – Napier

Radio NZ: Tussling starts for Labour’s top job

TV3: National Party wins third term

John Key: 8 November 2008  – Victory Speech

Previous related blogposts

She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Waiting for Gower’s Twittering of indignation

Other blogs

Why chanting “fuck John Key” is a battle cry not profanity

Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?

Hang tight everyone – Marama Davidson campaign reflection

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2014

 

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Frank Macskasy: Who I voted for…

18 September 2014 8 comments

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20-september

 

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On the road today, this news story caught my attention;

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Peters backs Davis in Te Tai Tokerau

 

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I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

This is a deliberate attempt by NZ First and elements within the Labour Party to undermine and destroy the Mana-Internet Alliance.

Which is utterly crazy, and beggars belief.

At current polling, if Hone wins his electorate, he could bring in one or two extra MPs on his “coat-tails”. (The rules as set by this National Government.)

If Labour loses to a National-led coalition by that slim margin – two or three seats – and we face another three years of this damnable regime, because of their unmitigated, self-serving, colossal stupidity,  I will be mightily f****d off.

I will hold the Labour leadership responsible.

And, by the gods, I will give them such grief that Slater and Farrar will be the least of their worries.

This little dirty deal between Labour and NZ First has sealed my Party Vote. I encourage everyone to vote, and I offer my personal endorsement for  the Mana-Internet Alliance.

And Winston  Peters, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, et al,  can go kiss my well-padded, hairy [Anatomical description deleted on good taste grounds – Chief Censor, GCSB]!

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References

Radio NZ: Peters backs Davis in Te Tai Tokerau

Previous related blogpost

The secret of National’s success – revealed.

 

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Harre -Harawira

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Dear John – Time to answer a few questions! – Hone Harawira

15 August 2014 8 comments

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Mana logo

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The following statement was issued on 14 August by Mana Movement leader, Hone Harawira;

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“When Cameron Slater says about Kim Dotcom ‘I have lots on him…death by a thousand cuts…wait till you see what comes out in coming weeks on that fat c***t’, you have to ask whether this is the same Cameron Slater that Prime Minister calls a close friend”.

“The release of the book Dirty Politics is a game-changer that I sincerely hope results in the current government being voted out of office”, said Harawira. “Questions about secret deals done between nasty and malicious bloggers with direct access to the Prime Minister’s office and their role in undermining the democratic process, demand answers.”

“And although John Key and his cronies want to make this all about Nicky Hager’s credibility, the fact is that Hager is a credible investigative journalist who is meticulous in his work and has never been proven wrong. What this whole ugly episode is about … is dirty politics.”

“Prime Minister John Key himself has spoken often of his closeness to Cameron Slater who is mentioned throughout Dirty Politics for trying to derail my campaign, looking for ‘dirt’ on the Internet Party, and a whole host of attacks against Kim Dotcom, including one rant which reads “I hope the bastard is sweating between his fat rolls…I have lots on him…death by a thousand cuts…wait till you see what comes out in coming weeks on that fat c***t.”

“Really Mr Prime Minister – is this guy Cameron Slater really a close friend of yours? Did you know what your good friend has been up to? Did you approve any of it?”

“Or are you going to let your senior press secretary, Jason Ede, take the hit for all this, because his name keeps cropping up as well.”

“And while we’re dropping names, perhaps you can explain to the public some of the comments attributed to other people closely associated with your office, whose names also crop up throughout Dirty Politics, people like David Farrar who was Publications and Information Manager within the Prime Minister’s Office, Judith Collins who is the current Minister of Justice, ACC and Ethnic Affairs, Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the New Zealand’s Taxpayers Union, and Cameron Slater himself, Whale Oil Blogger, and close friend of the Prime Minister.”

“This book is a damming expose on how the Prime Minister’s Office operates, and shows the true side of National’s ‘attack politics’ that gives real weight to the description of Key as the ‘Smiling Assassin’.”

“I congratulate Nicky Hager for showing the country the underbelly of National Party politics, and showing how digging dirt on their opponents has become more important for National than feeding hungry kids or building houses for the homeless.”

Hone Harawira,
MP, Te Tai Tokerau
Leader, Mana Movement

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Well said, Mr Harawira.

I concur with each and every word.

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Mana-Internet Roadshow hits Wellington

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internet mana

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Wellington, NZ, 4 August – The Mana-Internet Roadshow hit Wellington on a chilly Monday evening, with the event scheduled for the waterfront venue at Mac’s Brew Bar,  in Taranaki Street. The first sign of the event was the eye-catching bus, decorated in Mana-Internet livery, parked outside the old brick, brewery building;

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mana-internet-party-roadshow-wellington-4-august-2014

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Inside, Mana-Internet activists were busy setting up for the 6pm start, arranging chairs, speaking podium, party merchandise and leaflets, etc. It was a hive of quiet, determined, activity. Note King Kapisi (middle image) at work on his board;

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mana internet party roadshow - wellington - 4 august 2014

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Party paraphernalia had sprung up throughout the hall;

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mana internet party roadshow - wellington - 4 august 2014 (91)

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Videographer, Gerhart, chatting with Mana Party Leader and MP for Te Tai  Tokerau, Hone Harawira;

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 KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Mana Party President, Annette Sykes, and the world’s first transgendered elected representative, Georgina Beyer – pausing from their chat to pose for cameras;

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mana-internet-party-roadshow-wellington-4-august-2014

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Mana Leader, Hone Harawira, and Mana candidate for Rongotai, the dedicated Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati;

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mana internet party roadshow - wellington - 4 august 2014

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Eager young Mana-Internet activists on the main door, answering questions from members of the public;

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mana internet party roadshow - wellington - 4 august 2014

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Interestingly, contrary to some bullshit being spun on social media, there was no “door charge” and neither were members of the public offered “freebies” of any description. The lies from certain individuals illustrates their desperation to undermine Mana-Internet’s credibility.

Meanwhile, former broadcaster and Alliance MP, the extraordinary Pam Corkery, and Internet Party leader, Laila  Harré, catching up and enjoying a quiet moment;

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mana internet party roadshow - wellington - 4 august 2014

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Glenn McConnell, from The Beehive Mandate, interviewing Internet Party candidate, for Wellington Central, Callum Valentine (camera-person – off shot – Saeran);

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mana internet party roadshow - wellington - 4 august 2014

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During his speech later in the evening, Callum said,

“Throughout the ’80s we saw a rise of stark individualism, and I think from my point of view what my generation is trying to piece back together is a sense of community…”

Interesting, how the young folk understand the price we paid for neo-liberalism.

The public meeting was due to “kick off” at 6, and at 5.30, the hall was still mostly empty.

This blogger asked several activists if they were worried that the turnout would be low.  Without exception, every single Mana-Internet volunteer smiled or grinned with confidence and replied “wait and see“.

They were either hopelessly over-confident – or their experience on the road, travelling around the country had given them just cause to be confident.

They were not mistaken. By 5.50, the main part of hall looked like this;

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The rear part of the hall  filled quickly as extra chairs were laid out. By 6, there was standing room only;

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There have not been very many public political meetings where a minor party has drawn such numbers. These people were not political activists from the Left. Instead, they represented ordinary New Zealanders of all ages and ethnicity.

If this meeting had been publicised with a full page ad in the Dominion Post, this blogger believes that the Wellington Town Hall would have had to have been hired to cater for the numbers that would have attended. There seemed a feeling of  anticipation on the faces of many.

If  every hall in the country where the Roadshow has stopped was filled in the same way, then little wonder that John Key and certain right-wing Labour MPs are worried at the spectacular rise of Mana-Internet.

No wonder Mana-Internet cannot expect allies in any part of the political spectrum. This alliance of two tiny little parties has sprung from the fertile soil of discontent, and is quickly becoming a very real threat to the established political status quo of this country.

And it is little wonder that they are so hated by the mainstream media commentariate; they simply  don’t ‘get‘  why Mana-Internet is so popular.

As the hall filled to capacity (250-300, according to Brew Bar management), singer Matiu Te Hoki set the mood with several songs – including a few with audience participation. The response was enthusiastistic support  from most of the crowd;

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Internet Party candidate, Chris Yong, mc’d the event, and introduced guest speakers as they made their way up onto the stage;

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Wairangi Koopu (L),  professional rugby league player for the Pt Chev Pirates, and hip hop recording artist, King Kapisi (R), entertaining the crowd;

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Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira, spoke with wit, humour, and passion;

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Hone began  by explaining Mana’s fierce determination to fight the current National government. He said,

This country is being driven to poverty. That too many of our people are being driven to homeless. Too many of our young people are being driven into unemployment. A lot of them just get on the plane and go to Oz… simply because this government is committed to maximising the wealth for their friends. It’s not a society that I want, it’s not a society that Mana wants.”

He then gave a brief background into how the idea for an alliance between Mana and the Internet Party had come about;

So as we moved closer towards this election, I started thinking about how we could lift our game. How could we raise our voice. How could we engage with wider audiences. How could we get our  our message out to a greater public.

Now, I didn’t know how to do it. I was struggling with the ideas – watching, of course,  while all sorts of other people were trying all kinds of deals. Then I was sitting down and talking to some young fellas at my Kura at home and one of them, a 17 year old, says to me, ‘You know this Kim Dotcom guy? Do you mind if I left Mana and joined the Internet Party?’

I walked away and I had a really good think about it. And then I came back to him, and sat  down and talked to him some more. And what I realised was that our kids, Maori kids I’m talking about, and I imagine all kids, they’re ready to ‘fly’. They’re ready to chase that internet dream. And yet politics was stuck in a quagmire. Much of a muchness. Sameness after sameness. Nobody being prepared to to step outside the box and do something different.”

He said, “that young fella basically challenged me to do something about it“.

So I thought to myself, I’ve been getting these calls from this guy, lives up in Coatsville. Big mansion up the road on the North Shore. Might be time to take that call.

Took the call.

We sat down. We had a bit of a korero. Well I’ll tell you, he talks like nobody I’ve ever met met before.

Hone added, to audience laughter,

Not just because he’s German, either.”

Hone described Kim Dotcom’s credibility by the way he spoke on certain issues, and how those same issues mattered to young people that Hone listened to.

Hone then went to to relate the reaction of Mana Party membership when he disclosed to them that he had been in discussion with Kim Dotcom. He said he knew there was a big risk in what he was considering. He described their reaction;

Mate, the response was almost universal. 99.5% – ‘what the —- do you think you’re doing! But as they heard more, as they learnt more, they realised that there’s something happening here.

He explained how such a strategic alliance would be the catalyst to “lifting our game”.

Hone then went on to describe the necessity of finding a leader for an Internet-Mana alliance,

So when it became possible  that that leader might,  just might be Laila Harré, I’m thinking to myself, ‘If we could pull this  off, this could go down  as the biggest strategic move in politics in 2014‘.”

Many in the audience clapped enthusiastically at that point.

Hone said that “we either got Laila, or else there would be no deal“.

So when we signed a deal between Mana and the Internet Party for the creation of Internet-Mana, I knew what the rest of the country didn’t know was that the deal was going to be done because I  have a comrade standing alongside me that I could be proud of, that I would be proud to stand on any front line with, and will be proud to sit back and let her do all the driving.”

Hone added that whilst Mana-Internet might not have “all the right things to say“, that people wanted change. He was adamant that was why Mana-Internet was enjoying packed halls around the country.

Where we are now, everybody, is we’re  in a position  to take politics to a whole different world. We’re in a position to completely change the way people view politics.”

After strong applause, Hone introduced the next speaker…

Kim Dotcom – one of the freshest things to hit New Zealand politics since the Green Party’s Nandor Tanczos – addressed the audience with his usual waggish, cheeky style. (One of the reasons Dotcom might be so popular with ordinary folk? He possesses a strong streak of that  Kiwi trait of anti-authoritarianism, that ferments just below the surface of our docile sheeplike-veneer, and which  was cleverly epitomised in the 1981 iconic classic movie, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie‘.)

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Kim gave his greeting in Maori and welcomed those in attendence;

“Very nice to see so many people show up here tonight, in Wellington, in the ‘belly of the beast’! Isn’t this exciting?

We have had this happening every night for the last four weeks. There is something happening in this country. There is an appetite for this.”

With his trademark humour, and wry jabs at the establishment, Kim said,

“Because we are in Wellington tonight, I want to ask every staff member of the GCSB, please raise their hand… I know there are a couple of them here. Alright, so let me address you first.

Please don’t worry even though we’re going to shut you down, we will find you guys jobs.”

Kim then related the lead-up to the creation of the Internet Party. He referred to the Hollywood-style raid on his property; the closing down of his business; the illegal aspects to the search  of seizure of his property; the spying on eighty-eight other New Zealanders by the GCSB; and how he and his wife, Mona, had been supported by many of his neighbours. He said that with the seizure of all their assets, they survived on the generosity of neighbours who brought them food, and one even loaned him a car to use.

Kim said the this support increased massively after his interview with TV3’s John Campbell.

He described the government’s closing down of his business, Mega-Upload, as an “over-reach” carried out without a trial.

Kim explained how his now-defunct business, Mega-Upload operated, and that in effect it was similar to a very big external hard-drive. He said people could upload their files for storage or to share with others. It was not a pirating service, he explained, though some users did carry out such activities. He likened his business to the old VHS video tapes which Hollywood at one time tried to curtail, because they could be used to copy commercial movies.

Kim also explained why current practices by Hollywood played into the hands of movie-pirates, by delaying release of movies by several months in different parts of the world. This, he said, was done to maximise profits. The consequence was,

“So they are actually responsible for the creation of the piracy problem, simply by the way they are doing business. Because even if a New Zealander wants to access a movie legally and is happy to pay for it, [they] can’t find it, and the only way to find it is on Google and through an illegal  download. Well then that’s really a problem Hollywood should solve and isn’t really a problem for service providers like myself or the users.”

Kim then changed tack and described a “total lack of vision” when it came to the digital economy. He berated the lack of cellphone coverage in many areas of New Zealands and asked, “is this Zimbabwe or New Zealand?”

He condemned a focus on primary production as limiting our economy, and failing to “take this country forward”.

Kim digressed at one point and outlined his previous criminal convictions in Germany. He said he was 19 when he had hacked NASA because he was curious if they knew of the existence of aliens.

This drew loud laughter from the audience.

“I didn’t find anything”, he lamented. The laughter from the audience increased.

He then hacked Citibank to make a donation of $20 million to Greenpeace because he thought the organisation deserved a donation because “I thought they were good for the environment and stuff”. More laughter from the audience, and some clapping.

After which he hacked a credit rating agency to set the credit rating for the Prime Minister to zero, “because I didn’t like the guy”. This drew even more laughter, cheers, and a round of applause.

Kim said that at his trial, the judge pointed out that he should use his talents and knowledge for the benefit of society. What followed next could only happen in a civilised society with a brilliant sense of humour.  The judge said Kim should use his skills to improve on-line security for businesses, to protect them from other hackers;

“To make their networks secure. I thought that’s a good idea so I wrote a business plan. I went to my government and I said I’ve just been convicted, can I please have a million dollars for my new business. And they gave it to me.”

The audience laughed with delight.

“So they gave me a million dollar loan, 20 years interest free. Didn’t have to pay anything back for 20 years. Within a year I had fifty staff and in another year later I already paid it all  back.

We don’t have anything like this in New Zealand.

There are a lot of young people here with great ideas. If they had programmes like that, we would would have in ten ten years down the road a much better, a much bigger workforce; more jobs.”

Kim said many other countries also had such programmes which invested heavily in the minds of young people.

The right wing and some in the media commentariat have no hesitation in pillorying Dotcom’s misguided youth. But when they condemn a person for his illegal actions as a 19 year old, you just have to wonder where their heads are at.

Kim then told the audience of something else that bothered him; the New Zealand tertiary education loan system. He said that the Mana-Internet Party would remove all fees and provide free tertiary education for all students.

That announcement was greeted enthusiastically by the audience.

“Let me explain why. Because what’s currently happening is that we are asking our future, our [human] capital of this country, to study and get brighter and smarter and be able to create and build something with that knowledge. But we are putting them in a position where they have their first mortgage before they even started their professional life. They are indebted so much that  they are looking for jobs abroad that are usually paying a bit more than in New Zealand. They are leaving this country; they build a network of friends there. Some start a family there and they never come back.

And how is that smart for this country if you send our best people – our biggest chance to increase our market share in the digital economy – away. It makes no sense at all… Why not make that investment in you for you to stay here and use your capacity that you have up here [indicated head], to make life better for all of us.”

Kim then turned his attention to Hone Harawira, seated on-stage beside him, and told the audience that the Mana Party leader was committed to resolving inequality in New Zealand. He said that we had a huge problem in this coiuntry and that our society was not fair.

Kim said that we needed to re-establish a social fairness contract, making sure that those who had the least were supported and looked after.

He thanked Hone for the partnership between them.

Kim turned to Laila Harre and described her as “an amazing source of power”. After the Mana-Internet alliance had been announced, Kim said that the media attacks on her were vicious. He said,

“But she stood her ground and she said, ‘so what?'”

He thanked Laila for her participation and taking the movement to a “whole new level”.

Kim then paid tribute to Mana-Internet’s young candidates as the best at their fields. He said that they did not “think like politicians“, they thought like the many young people in the room.

He said that young people would be instrumental in the growth of the internet economy and the growth of GDP.

Kim said we could take our market share in the world economy and lift our standard of living for all. He said this would increase incomes so people could afford housing and other consumer goods to make their lives better. He said all other industries would also benefit from a tech-boom.

Kim said that South Korea had already transitioned to a tech economy. He said the South Koreans had had an economy similar to New Zealand’s until they made the conscious decision to turn their society into a high-tech society, with high-speed broadband into every home. In the process, they went from unemployment at over 10% to 2.6%.

Kim said there was “no secret” to achieving such a transformation. He said it could be done, and New Zealand could do it.

He said,

“We are in a position in New Zealand where we have so many smart young people that are hungry for an opportunity like that, so let’s give it to them with Internet Mana this year.”

Kim was followed by another well-known New Zealander.

She might be sick and in the midst of medical treatment, but the vivacious Georgina Beyer was a firebrand, speaking with  powerful  determination, and  attacking the Foreshore and Seabed Act, as well as the current government.

Georgina described the intense pressure that Labour’s Maori MPs had come under to vote for the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. One by one, except for Tariana Turia – who she paid tribute to – they folded. When she requested that she be allowed to abstain from the Bill, the Labour Party caucus howled her down.

She expressed her deepest regret that she had voted for the Foreshore and Seabed Act. She said,

“I committed a great shame under the Helen Clarke, Labour-led government; the Foreshore and Seabed [Bill]. That was the greatest Treaty breach in modern history…it did an absolute injustice to Maori.”

It had been the pivotal moment when she could no longer stomach being a member of parliament, and resigned shortly thereafter. Georgina said that Labour did not deserve to win back the Maori seats, because of the way they had abused their Maori MPs.

Joining the Internet-Mana campaign, she said, was her way of contrition for her mistake.

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[Note: apologies for heavy red-tone to above image. My camera did not “like” some of the overhead spotlighting, from certain angles. – FM]

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After Hone’s stirling introduction of Georgina, she described the  “despair and desperation” that was impacting on many people in this country. She illustrated by launching into a furious condemnation of the 90 Day Trial period for new employees, outlining how she had lost her job to an unsympathetic employer,

“When I did get a job at [employer’s name redacted] in Masterton, the goddamn 90 day fire-at-will clause got me sacked! Why? Because I wanted to practice democracy in the 2010 mayoral democracy.”

She added, “Watch out when I get back there [to Parliament] – it’s [90 Day Trial Period law] going!”

Georgina said that the Unions needed to be strengthened after being decimated the last couple of decades. She said that when people are employed, that they should feel safe and be paid properly.

Georgina described walking into the WINZ office as “de-humanising” and must be changed. She accused Work & Income’s previous CEO, Christine Rankin of creating a climate that was more like a correctional facility, complete with security guard(s) at the door.

Paula Bennett’s figures for reduced numbers on welfare was treated with derision and  challenged,

“Paula Bennett sits in Parliament, rabbitting away about the wonderful figures of the employment rates coming down. She’s shifting them around!

I’ve chaired the social services select committee for four years. I know the ‘jiggery-pokery’ that goes on, and the goddamn fiddles to make them look good. She’s telling you porkies!”

Georgina said Bennett wanted everyone to think “everything was going well, under this rock star economy“.

She added she was seeing the “hurt and the hate” that was being created in communities, and said there was little wonder that society was stressed and resulting in growing violence and abuse.

Georgina recounted her recent trip to Christchurch where she had been handed a report by Te Puawaitanga Ki Otautahi Trust  on social problems affecting that city. She described the report as sobering;

“It’s about whanau housing, post-earthquake, down in Christchurch. Just one thing I’d like to share with you which I just think is atrocious, and it may well be happening in other areas around New Zealand, South Auckland, Northland, where-ever like that. Women are terminating their pregnancies because they don’t want to bring a child into the shit, crap places that they’re living in.

They’re cold, they’re damp, they’re rat infest[ed]. Now Christchurch, yes, is an exceptional situation right now. But you’d think after nearly two or three years they would’ve got those sorts of problems sorted,  while making crap deals with Skycity and convention centres in Auckland, [and] building roads of national significance around the country…

… building stadiums that really aren’t necessary while people in our country are going cold, and tired, and starving, and children who are getting skin diseases…”

Georgina demanded to know,

“Is this the New Zealand we want to live in?”

When the audience replied “no!” in loud unision, Georgina responded that the government had to change, as well as people’s attitudes about our growing social problems.

If her strength that night was anything to go by, once her health improves she’ll make the ‘Energiser Bunny’ look like a wimp in comparison.

Georgina was followed by Annette Sykes, Rotorua lawyer, activist, and champion for  Māori independence;

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[Note: apologies for heavy red-tone to above image. My camera did not “like” some of the overhead spotlighting, from certain angles. – FM]

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Annette opened by saying she was proud to be part of a relationship that was built on mutual respect between both parties. She said,

“It’s important that we make choices that are wise, choices that can be reviewed, but [also] choices that aren’t just good for Maori but are good for all of this country. And that is why I’m really proud to be part of a relationship agreement that is building on those fundamentals; mutual respect. A desire to see all sectors of society, the poor and the rich, making a  contribution [and] also receiving a benefit from their participation in this government.”   

Annette confirmed Hone’s description of how his suggestion for an alliance between Mana and Internet was received by the membership;

“I was [part of] the 99.5% at Mana. I was the one that Hone had to persuade the most. I was really suspicious about the relationship. But I had to take my hat off to Mr Dotcom, because there’s very few pakeha that would dare to walk into the Mana AGM, and subject themselves to the kind of cross-examination that Mr Dotcom did. And I can tell you it was without mercy.

He was asked [about] everything. How would he feel about our first policy of course, [which] is to tax the rich? How would he feel about us promoting quite candidly policies that stopped the $1.4 billion of benefit cuts that are being taken from the poor, and reversing the tax cuts on the rich and then substituting them with things like  a Universal Basic Income?

Substituting them with a Capital Gains Tax? Substituting them with a tax on the toys that boys like to play with; you know, fast cars and flash boats.”

Annette continued,

“And he handled it. He handled it with an aplomb. I see a number of my socialist comrades here, and they will testify for the questions that he stood up to. And weren’t any easy questions, even for the most, I think, weather[ed] politician like Hone. They are real fundamental questions, like did he agree that we should stop foreign sales like the kind that are going through the back door at Taupo? Right now, as we speak?

Should we be putting in safeguards to protect [us from] the  privatisation of our most fundamental assets from going offshore? And in all of those questions he came up with the single answer which is Mana policy. We have to take the power back from the National Party. We have to put the power back into the community where it belongs.”

Annette had a message for the mainstream media which seemed obsessed with Kim Dotcom, Mana, and the Internet Party;

“When he enters a room, yep, he’s got plenty of money. Stop talking about his money, please. He’s a man with a mind and a mission. That’s really important. The mind of the man, the intellectual largesse that he brought into our meeting house at Ngati te Arere, is what we saw.”

She gave this parting advice,

“Stop listening to the TV [and] start listening to your hearts.”

The next speaker was another well-known New Zealander; Laila Harré. She explained her reasons for joining the new Mana-Internet alliance;

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[Note: apologies for heavy red-tone to above image. My camera did not “like” some of the overhead spotlighting, from certain angles. – FM]

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With obvious pride in her voice, Laila told the audience;

“…From the the north of the North Island we have filled halls in Kaitaia, in Kaipoi, in Kerikeri, then we ran out of towns starting with ‘K’ in Northland so we filled the hall in Whangarei.

We went back to “K” and with a full hall, pouring with people, in my political turangawaewae, the Kelston Community Centre in West Auckland.

And onwards from there to Rotorua, where Annette Sykes rocked the town with one of the biggest political meetings to have been held there, in a generation.

On to Hamilton, then to New Plymouth, on to Whanganui, yesterday in Palmerston North, and now in Wellington. And we are reaching thousands and thousands of people through these direct communications, in the halls, and town halls, and school halls of New Zealand and we are changing politics!”

Laila was ‘working’ the crowd with a voice that was soft, yet steeled with  determination. She had a message she wanted to give, and nothing short of Wellington’s ‘The Big One’ would get in her way.

She told the audience she was the recipient of two extraordinary gifts. The first was Kim Dotcom’s gift, to those New Zealanders who felt disconnected and disenfranchised from the established political system. She spoke of the Internet Party building a new movement that would create a new voice in politics.

She said the second gift was the alliance of the Mana Movement  with the Internet Party. Laila spoke of votes counting as people voted for the Internet-Mana alliance, and predicted that Hone Harawira would win Te Tai Tokerau for a fourth term.

There was an outburst of applause when she said that, and again when she predicted that Annette Sykes would win the electorate seat in Waiariki.

The crowd erupted into louder applause when Laila took a swipe at coat-tailing media commentators (commentators who seemed to focus primarily on Mana-Internet . With defiance, she said,

“I have no shame at all in going into Parliament on his coat-tails and on her apron-strings!”

Laila also sent a message to her colleagues in the Trade Union movement. She said,

“My message is this. Progressive politics is about constantly building and inventing and reinventing the way that we enghage the people and make a difference on their behalf. Progressive politics is about alliances and this alliance and the the Intertnet Party’s developement gives us the opportunity as progressive New Zealanders to connect a whole lot of people to the power of progressive politics who have become disillusioned with it, or who have seen their only opportunities  being to give in to the craven individualism promoted by the New Right in this country, because nothing else has looked better or more attractive to them for a long time. And the trade union movement has always been about strategic alliances; about clever politics; about being brave and standing up for what we see as fair and just, and this alliance has the capacity to change the government in September. And that is what the working people and the unemployed people of this country need to happen desperately.”

Laila then “sent a message” to Wellington, and it was simple and to the point;

“We don’t have a rock star economy!”

She said that the Mana-Internet roadtrip had visited many communities and told the audience, “you would be horrified at the propaganda by this government sold to New Zealanders over the last six years“!

The disgust in Laila’s voice was apparent. She expressed her horror at the loss of decent, affordable health services, especially in the regional communities. Laila’s exasperation was evident when she said she had believed many critical health problems had been solved – but instead many poor families and young mothers  faced prohibitively high medical, doctor’s or prescriptions charges. She said,

“When they fêted Tony Ryall when he finished his term as Health Minister, they weren’t  fêting him for improving our public health system. They were fêtinghim for keeping the horror stories of  our health system off the front page of our newspapers for the last six years. And I want to know why the Opposition has been asleep on the job, because I have heard stories in the last four weeks that I was hearing fifteen years ago at the beginning of the health services crisis in this country, that I believed to be fixed. And I’m going to raise those issues in Parliament, in Wellington in [drowned out by applause and cheering].”

Laila added,

“We have an inequality crisis in this country. And it is a crisis that has been building and growing for thirty years. Now 285,000 children live in houses with incomes below the poverty line.

That’s almost become a cliche, hasn’t it? In the circles that we mix in – just an accepted reality. 285,000 New Zealand children whose parents don’t have a large enough income to provide for the very, very, most basic necessities of life. It’s a disgrace!

And if we think that we have an inequality problem now,  let’s just look twenty years ahead, at what that time bomb means for the capacity of New Zealand to cope and to lead in the digital technical age.”

She said it was a disgrace that over 200,000 New Zealand school children had no internet access in their homes, saying it deprived them of knowledge to lead our economy in twenty years’ time.

Laila explained,

“Internet-Mana represents a very different kind of politics and there’s a few people out there including some of our friends, who are finding ourt new kind of politics quite confusing. It’s like ‘did we give you permission to do this’? Well actually, we don’t need permission to participate in the democracy of our country and neither do you,” pointing to the audience.

Laila said that Mana-Internet took away the sugarcoating, to dress things up, to spin things, and to pretend there is nothing really wrong with this country. She said Mana-Internet would lift the responsibility from the shoulders from all those burdened by the way things were in New Zealand.

She said she was giving  fair warning to the National Party and mainstream media, that she would be attending the Helensville electorate meeting on 11 August, where John Key would be making his one and only public appearance (how very ‘big’ of him, I thought). As the rapturous applause died away, Laila grinned and said matter-of-factly,

“I know it’s a long shot.”

She said she would be fronting to John Key, to engage with the Prime Minister on his record, and how he had abdicated his responsibility for a decent future for this country’s children.

Laila said she would demand that he bring along the text of the secret TPPA document, so we could know in advance which rules and laws we would be allowed to pass, and which ones we were not.

She asked, “wouldn’t it be kind of decent” to know what we were signing up to?

Laila then announced clearly and succintly,

“We are not going to support a National government, that’s for sure. But we’re also not going to support Labour to sign the TPPA!”

The audience cheered and clapped loudly at that policy announcement. It was clear that there was no public support in that hall for the TPPA, or that it was held in secrecy by the National government.

Laila also said she was going to ask the Prime Minister “to give us just a little bit more information” than what he gave to the Auditor-General on his conversation with SkyCity which
completely gutted normal rule of law and procurement processes“, and which changed the laws surrounding gambling to suit the corporate agenda of the casino in Auckland.

Laila called SkyCity “the biggest corporate pariah” in the country.

She said,

“I want to know what went on, and we do not stand committed to that [Skycity convention centre] contract.”

Laila said that the pokies that had been gradually eliminated from Auckland would now be returned to SkyCity. She said that the convention centre deal was funded on the backs of problem gamblers.

Laila said she would be asking the Prime Minister what really happened with respect to to Kim Dotcom’s permanent residence application, and,

“… did he really not know about Kim Dotcom until one day before the raid?”

She would be asking the Prime Minister to account for the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom and eightyeight other New Zealanders.

Judging by Laila’s powerful combination of fierce intellect, wit, and passion, Key would be in for a ‘bumpy’ ride that night.

In parting, Laila gave the audience a message to which they seemed very receptive;

“You can make that happen on September 20th… This is an opportunity to put some honest, brave, and smart voices into Parliament and to deliver a new kind of message and a new kind of politics to this country…

…we can change not just government, we can change politics forever.”

She added,

“Whatever the polls are telling us, the outcome of this election does not depend on the people who vote National. The outcome of this election will depend on those people who don’t.”

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Postscript 1

Going by the lack of media (except for a sole Radio NZ reporter)  coverage of the Roadshow event in Wellington,  one thing seems clear; the mainstream media has no idea how to deal with the Mana-Internet alliance.

Is it a passing fad? Something fleeting that will vanish like so many other small parties have come-and-gone over the years?

Or is it something new? Something that is a radical step-change in politics in the 21st Century?

One thing that struck me was the age of most of those involved; they were young people in their late teens and twenties.

It is my belief that politics in the 21st century belongs to a new, younger generation… and they are slowly awakening.

The msm has no idea of what is coming. And if they do, they have no idea how to frame it.

The Rule Book on Politics has just been chucked out the window.

Postscript 2

This is Leo…

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After the roadshow, we had dinner at Wellington’s iconic Green Parrot Cafe, a block away from the Brew Bar

We met Leo, one of the hard-working staff at the Green Parrot. He casually enquired if we’d just come from a gig and we replied that we had – the Kim Dotcom Roadshow ‘gig’.  Conversation turned to what Dotcom was trying to achieve with the Mana-Internet Party; to shake up the political system.

Leo said he had not taken much notice of politics, but he had heard of Dotcom and the hassles he was having. Even though he was entitled to vote, he hadn’t last time.

I replied,

“Well, if you don’t vote, you’re letting someone else decide your future.”

Leo got that immediatly and we chatted more. He said he wasn’t sure who he would vote for – but was adamant “it won’t be for that guy, John Key“.

The more we chatted, the more we realised that Leo was the archetypal young non-voter. He said politics didn’t seem very relevant in his life.

I encouraged him to check out the Mana-Internet or Green parties, as he might find relevance with either one.  Whoever he chose, it was important that he cast his vote. He said,

Yeah, I’m going to look into it…

One of the ‘Missing Million’  –  may no longer missing.

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References

Maori TV: Internet Mana roadshow meets Kaitaia

Radio NZ:  Internet Mana takes aim at Labour

The Beehive Mandate

Rotorua Daily Post: Internet Mana launches campaign in Rotorua

TV3: King Kapisi sent out to rally young voters

Te Puawaitanga Ki Otautahi Trust: Housing survey

Mana Party:  Annette Sykes to launch campaign for Waiariki Annette Sykes, MANA candidate for Waiariki

Related

Fairfax media: Te Tai Tokerau tangles

Fairfax media: PM quiet on Dotcom’s ‘f*** John Key’ rally

Previous related blogposts

Labour’s collapse in the polls – why?

The Mana-Internet Alliance – My Thoughts

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Political Identification Chart for the upcoming Election

The Media will respond to Kim Dotcom’s up-coming revelations professionally, impartially, and with all due diligence

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog:  No Cookies! But maybe the balance of power. Why Kelvin Davis and the Labour Right are so scared of Internet-Mana.

The Daily Blog:  Cunliffe on Internet MANA, how ungrateful is Kelvin Davis & how we know Labour’s vote isn’t collapsing

 

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 August 2014

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