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Ihumātao – What Pākehā should *NOT* do

1 October 2019 2 comments

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With some historical and present context, it should become readily apparent to Pakeha that the occupation at Ihumātao is not a free-for-all conflict for any and everyone to become involved in.

First, some important dates:

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1840

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The year in which the Treaty of Waitingi was signed. Article Two of the Treaty was especially important for Maori;

Article Two

Māori version: confirmed and guaranteed the chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ – the exercise of chieftainship – over their lands, villages and ‘taonga katoa’ – all treasured things. Māori agreed to give the Crown a right to deal with them over land transactions.

English version: confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs ‘exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties’. The Crown sought an exclusive right to deal with Māori over land transactions.

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1863

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Twenty three years after the last signature to the Treaty document had dried, land at  Ihumātao was seized ‘by proclamation’ under the New Zealand Settlements Act. Four hundred hectares of land at Ihumātao was taken by the Colonial Government and transferred to settler families in the area;

“There was an accusation that was levelled against Waikato that there was an imminent plot to attack the settlers of Auckland. It was a fabrication, part of [Governor George] Grey’s dodgy dossier,” says O’Malley. “The accusation was window-dressing for the British Colonial Office, to give the appearance that Grey had no choice but to take troops into the Waikato.”

More than 400 hectares of land at Ihumātao was confiscated by the Crown, as punishment for the community’s allegiance to the King movement, and given to a handful of settler families.

Article two of the Treaty had been well and truly breached. “Exclusive possession of the land” had been “disturbed” as thoroughly as it could be.

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2008

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The Crown recognised Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority with which to undertake settlement negotiations for breach-of-Treaty claims.

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2014

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A Deed of Settlement was signed at Makaurau Marae in Māngere, between the Crown and Te Kawerau ā Maki Iwi Authority.

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2016

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A group of tangata whenua calling themselves SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) establish a presence at Ihumātao Quarry Road.

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Present

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The presence  of SOUL and supporters at Ihumātao had swelled to several thousand people, from all over the country. The congenial attitude of Police, interacting peacefully with protectors/protestors, could be seen as the ‘New Zealand Way’ of doing things. (Subsequently, that good-will took a severe battering when some twit within the Police hierarchy thought it would be a ‘clever idea’ to publicly carry a firearm in the vicinity of the occupation.)

Politically, there have been many voices demanding many forms of ‘action’ or ‘intervention’.

From ACT’s shallow knowledge of history and feeding red-meat to it’s reactionary base;

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Mr Seymour’s references to the occupiers “break[ing] the law and illegally occupy[ing] other people’s private property“; “legitimis[ing] unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation“, and “capitulat[ing] to a ragtag bunch of socialists and prison abolitionists” can only be described as a toxic, noisome, brew of crass ignorance and racism.

There is black irony and unashamed hypocrisy is describing the occupation as “break[ing] the law and illegally occupy[ing] other people’s private property” and “legitimis[ing] unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation” when the land was originally unlawfully seized, illegally occupied, and on-sold to colonial settlers in the first place.

His description of the occupiers as “a ragtag bunch of socialists and prison abolitionists– without once mentioning that they were tangata whenua, was wilfully insulting, with more racism piled on.  David Seymour is without self-awareness or shame with his appalling comments.

Then we heard Simon Bridges criticising Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern making a state visit to Tokelau on Radio NZ;

“She’s put herself in it and where is she? She’s taken herself off for days to Tokelau – 1500 people – well every MP has a street she hasn’t visited that has many more people than that and look, whether it’s the stalling economy, whether it’s Ihumātao, whether it’s a bunch of other issues – the prime minister and government are showing themselves to be a part-time prime minister and government.”

But when asked by Radio NZ’s Corin Dann if she should have attended Ihumātao, his equivocation was cringeworthy and embarrassing;

“No. Because I don’t believe a leader necessarily needs to insert themselves in this. I think that’s – [interuption]

[…] She shouldn’t have got involved.

[…] She got involved. She set a bad precedent.

[…] I would not be intervening in this particular instance, the way the Prime Minister is.”

On Twitter, Russell Brown from the Public Address blog, put it perfectly when he summed up Simon Bridge’s insanely contradictory statements;

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Hone Harawira said it most clearly;

“It would be nice to see the Māori ministers leading here rather than being told what to do by Jacinda. I don’t think she knows what’s going on here. Stay overseas. Leave it to Peeni and the whānau here. Let’s get it done.”

This is especially vital considering that the dispute over Ihumātao appears to be a schism with local Māori. As RNZ’s Te Manu Korihi Editor, Shannon Haunui-Thompson, explained;

This isn’t a Māori versus Fletcher issue – on both sides are members of the same iwi, hapū and whānau.

When the eviction notices were served yesterday, well-respected kaumātua of Te Kawerau a Maki and Te Akitai accompanied police and asked for the occupation to end and for them to leave Ihumātao peacefully. They even performed a karakia.

Ms Haunui-Thompson also rejected that the dispute was “generational”;

“…to say it’s a rangitahi [younger generation] issue is incorrect. There’s definitely a divide though amongst the iwi, amongst the hapu and whanau.”

To make it clear, it was not for the Prime Minister to intervene. Calls for her to visit Ihumātao were misguided. Her presence, at best, would be symbolic. At worst, misconstrued as more pakeha paternalism.

What was appropriate was for Māori MPs to visit; to listen; to facilitate where possible; to carry back to the Government what they had seen and heard. Māori working with Māori.

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“It’s a tense feeling here at Ihumātao as ministers arrive at the whenua.” – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui, Radio NZ, @teaniwahuri

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Simon Bridges then played the “law and order” and “private land rights”, cards. On 30 July, interviewed on  TVNZ’s “Q+A”, Jack Tame asked the current National Party Leader if he “would support police removing the people who are occupying the land at the moment“. Mr Bridges dodged the question;

“Well, it’s pretty simple when it comes to protests. You have an absolute right in this country to legitimate, fair, vociferous protest; you don’t have a right to break the law and get in the way of other people’s lawful activity.”

When asked again, Mr Bridges played the “Dumb Card”;

“Well, I don’t know the ins and outs…”

It was a simple question. It had only two possible answers;

  1. Yes, I would support the police removing protestors.
  2. No, I wouldn’t support police removing protestors.

There is no third option.

Any mature person watching that exchange and listening to Mr Bridges’ response could reasonably infer that (a) Simon Bridges had no idea whatsoever of the issues surrounding Ihumātao or (b) understood the issues perfectly well, but did not have the guts to offer a definitive answer.

Neither option is an edifying position for The Man Who Would Be Prime Minister. If he doesn’t “know the ins and out” perhaps he should do what all new MPs do in Parliament: breathe through his nose.

Barely two weeks later, Simon Bridges was once again pontificating by press release, On 11 August, he demanded that Prime Minister Ardern tell “protestors to go home and let the landowners build houses for Aucklanders“.

So there we have it: Simon Bridges is of the opinion that Jacinda Ardern has the Stalinist power to command  “protestors to go home“.  Who would have thought she wielded such Imperial Roman authority over her subjects. Mr Bridges had best tread cautiously; the Prime Minister could send him packing as well.

The reality is that Mr Bridges can comfortably pontificate  what should or should not be done. Or both. His comments can (and have been) as contradictory as he fancies. He can cause harm; sow discord; rattle nerves. From the relative safety and responsibility-free-zone of  the Opposition, he can say whatever he likes, regardless of consequences.

What is telling is that none of his utterances have been in any way constructive. His chest-thumping machismo no substitute for calmer, cooler heads. We are fortunate that he is nowhere near the “levers of power”.

Contrast Simon Bridges’ incoherence and impotence with that of the solemn mana of the Māori King, Kiingi Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII, who on 3 August was welcomed onto Ihumātao with a formal pōwhiri;

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Kiingi Tūheitia offered to mediate between protectors/protestors and the Iwi authority to find a way forward. Kiingitanga spokeswoman, Rukumoana Schaafhausen, said;

“We have to hear all the mana whenua and find a way forward that works for all of them.”

The meeting would not include Fletchers, or the Government, Schaafhausen said. 

And that is the point that has eluded most people: this issue is for mana whenua to discuss and to arrive at a solution. It is not for the pakeha Coalition government to intervene. It is not for the police to force protestors out. And it is most certainly not for self-serving politicians from the Right to exploit this issue for a perverted “law and order” beat-up to win a few votes from ill-informed redneck voters.

This is for Māori to resolve.

As the Māori version of Article Two of te Tiriti states;

“…confirmed and guaranteed the chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ – the exercise of chieftainship”

At a time when Māori are determined to take firmer control of their own affairs – such as up-lifting and placement of Māori children by Oranga Tamariki – resolving disputes such as Ihumātao can only achieved by those directly involved.

The Crown – represented by the government – can assist. It can mediate. And in the end it can listen.

On 18 September, mana whenua announced that they had negotiated and reached a decision;

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Māori had arrived at a resolution. By Māori, for Māori.

Kiingi Tūheitia explained the position that had been arrived at:

“Mana whenua agree they want their land returned, so they can make decisions about its future.”

Kiingi Tūheitia further expressed mana whenua’s desired outcome:

“Kiingitanga has conveyed the views of mana whenua to the government and urged it to negotiate with Fletchers for the return of Ihumātao to its rightful owners.”

Now is the rightful moment for the Crown, through the Coalition Government, to sit at the table and play it’s rightful part as one of the two Treaty partners.

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References

Encyclopedia of New Zealand – Te Ara: Treaty of Waitangi – Interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi

Radio NZ: Ihumātao land battle – a timeline

New Zealand Geographic: When worlds collide

NZ Government: Te Kawerau ā Maki – Summary

NZ Government: Te Kawerau ā Maki

NZ Herald: Battle for Ihumātao – How farmland became a flashpoint

Fairfax/Stuff: Police officer sings with protesters at Ihumātao

Fairfax/Stuff: Ihumātao – Police deny carrying firearms at protest after Facebook video outcry

Twitter: David Seymour – Ihumātao – 10:25 PM – July 26, 2019

Twitter: David Seymour – Ihumātao – 11:01 AM – July 27, 2019

Twitter: David Seymour – Ihumātao – 08:12 AM – July 28, 2019

Radio NZ: Ihumātao – Simon Bridges slams PM for timing of Tokelau trip

Radio NZ: Bridges defends ‘part-time PM’ criticism of Ardern

Twitter: Russell Brown – Ihumatao – Simon Bridges – 7:34 AM – July 31, 2019

Radio NZ: Ihumātao – Government ministers welcomed to protest site with powerful powhiri

Radio NZ: Explainer – Why Ihumātao is being occupied by ‘protectors’

Twitter: Te Aniwa Hurihanganui – Ministers arrive at Ihumātao – 12:11 PM, July 27 2019

TVNZ: Q+A – Simon Bridges interviewed by Jack Tame

Victoria University: Research Archive – Breathing Through their Noses – Candidate Selection and Role Adaptation amongst First-Term MPs in the New Zealand Parliament

National: Tell them to go home, Prime Minister (alt.link)

NZ Herald: Kīngitanga flag raised at Ihumātao, to stay until resolution reached

Fairfax/Stuff media: Ihumātao – Māori King invites mana whenua to meet to find a solution

TVNZ: ‘By Māori, for Māori’ – Oranga Tamariki hui reveals Māori want to look after their own

Radio NZ: Mana whenua reach decision on Ihumātao land

Beehive: Government welcomes Kingitanga statement on Ihumātao

The Spinoff: Mana whenua have agreed to keeping the land at Ihumātao. So what comes next?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 September 2019.

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Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Waru)

30 September 2017 Leave a comment

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The people have spoke;  votes cast; and now the post-election negotiations begin in earnest…

… once Special Votes are counted and announced on 7 October.

The Electoral ‘Wild Card’ – Special Votes

Three years ago, there were 330,985 Special Votes cast, accounting for 13.5%  of total votes. That reduced National’s seats in Parliament by one, and gifted the Green Party a fourteenth MP. The balance of power in Parliament went through a seismic shift with that one transfer of a single seat.

This year the number of Special Votes has risen dramatically to (approximately) 384,072 (or 15% of total votes).

Special Votes have traditionally supported left-leaning Parties and Labour and the Greens may pick up one or two extra seats, at the expense of National.

This may result in former Iranian refugee, lawyer, and feminist activist,  Golriz Ghahraman becoming the Green’s eighth MP. Two extra MPs will send Mojo Mathers back to Parliament.

National will lose one, maybe two seats, reducing it’s MPs from currently 58 to 57 or 56.

Two extra seats for the Labour-Green bloc will strengthen their hand in negotiations with Winston Peters. A Labour-Green-NZF coalition would rise from 61 seats to 62 or 63 out of a 120 seat Parliament. (With the demise of the Maori Party, there is no over-hang.)

No wonder Peters, Labour, and the Greens can afford to  bide their time. Two weeks will give the three parties a clearer picture as to what voters have delivered.

The Maori Party – a ‘bob each way’

During the election campaign, on 28 August, the Maori Party’s co-leader, Marama Fox, startled the country by making noises that her party could work with Labour as a coalition partner;

“I know our people lean left and they’d love to see us in a coalition arrangement with Jacinda, Metiria not anymore, but somebody from the Greens and Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell. We could change the world – I think that would be amazing.”

She continued asserting that the Maori Party could work in coalition with Labour. In effect Ms Fox was re-branding the Maori Party as an opposition party working to change the government.

But on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 24 September, Corin Dann asked Te Ururoa Flavell if  Bill English deserved a fourth term. Flavell replied;

“Yes, I do. I do, because I work with him. I do believe, come what may that he is an honourable person. That he does have people’s interests at heart […] But  I do believe that he is the right person under the circumstances. He has all that background and that knowledge  and I believe that, that he can take  the country forward.”

Ms Fox may have been earnest in her desire to move her party to the left. But Flavell’s comments suggest otherwise.

We will never know.

The Doom of the Maori Party

The demise of the Maori Party should not surprise anyone. They have suffered the doom of any small political party that has made two grievous mistakes.

Mistake #1: Moving too close to their major coalition partner  and being over-shadowed and subsumed by the  Blue Colossus that was the National-ACT Government.

Mistake #2: Ignoring past ‘messages’ sent to them by voters who consistently showed their displeasure at the Maori Party’s choice of coalition partner. Since the 2008 general election, the Maori Party’s presence in Parliament has steadily dwindled;

2008: 5 seats

2011: 3 seats

2014: 2 seats

2017: nil seats – gone by lunchtime

In blaming voters for their defeat, Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell and other Maori Party leadership ignored the gradual decline of voter support until they had nothing left.

Hone Harawira proved himself correct when he criticised the Maori Party’s coalition with National;

“The downside of being in government with National is having to put up with all the anti-worker, anti-beneficiary and anti-environment (and therefore anti-Maori) legislation that comes as a natural consequence of having a right-wing government.

The Maori Party is a coalition partner of that government and our co-leaders are ministers in that government, so unless we take a very strong position against some of the government’s legislative agenda we will be seen as supporting that agenda.

It does not reflect the hopes and dreams of either the Maori people or the Maori Party, and was opposed by most Maori during the select committee hearings. If we support this bill, we’re effectively saying that our coalition with National is more important than our commitment to Maori.”

Even Patrick Gower warned the Maori Party four years ago that it was sliding toward an inevitable doom if it maintained it’s cosy relationship with the Tories;

” It needs the nuclear option.

It needs to kick National in the guts and walk away.

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It’s time for Flavell to change the narrative.

He needs to start distancing the Maori Party from National. He needs to start extricating it from the cosy relationship.

He needs to position the Maori party differently – much differently. “Positioning” isn’t enough any more – he needs to make a break.

And so it came to pass.

Which is unfortunate, as I believe that the Maori Party’s voice in Parliament added to the public discourse. One hopes that a resurgent Maori-Mana Party will return in 2020. Maori need representation in the House, independent of any mainstream, pakeha-dominated party.

Gareth Morgan – green with envy?

Gareth Morgan’s call for the Green Party to work with National is either political naivete – or a cunning plan to undermine and eventually destroy the Green Party and siphon off their voter-base.

Either way, not a look look for Mr “Common Sense”.

The fate of the Maori Party (and other small parties whose orbits took them too close to their stellar coalition partners) is a clear warning that a blind person could see.

Mr Morgan should to stick to his “knitting” such as promoting the Universal Basic Income and building his own party for 2020.

ACT – time to pull the plug

It’s time for National to pull the plug on ACT. The Epsom life-support unit served it’s purpose when ACT could be guaranteed to poll over 1.2% – but it’s electoral support has been waning since 2008;

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Election Year Party
Votes
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Votes
2008 85,496 3.65%
2011 23,889 1.07%
2014 16,689 0.69%
2017 10,959 .05%

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With no hope of ACT’s sole MP, David Seymour, pulling in a second MP on his “coat-tails”, National might as well cut him loose and regain Epsom for themselves.

Or not.

Who can really care anymore for a “Party” polling at half of one percent?

Certainly not Bill English;

“We want to get on with the job of forming a government, but we will work with New Zealand First at a pace they’re willing to go.”

He said it was pretty clear cut that a two-party coalition would be more stable, and voters had given National a task of forming a government with New Zealand First.

“Our position in going into those negotiations is that almost one in two New Zealanders supported National.

“The voters have given us the task of forming a government with New Zealand First and that’s what we’ll proceed to do.”

ACT would complicate a governing arrangement, and he would not expect the party to be included in that government.

“The shortest path to stable government is a two-party coalition between National and New Zealand First.”

By the way, David Seymour…

On TVNZ’s Q+A, ACT leader and sole-MP, David Seymour, blamed First Past the post for his party’s crushing defeat on Election day;

“Every minor party got hammered, we kind of went back to a first-past-the-post environment.”

Typical of right-wingers; demanding personal responsibility from the rest of us – but never showing any themselves. If ACT cannot win electoral support under MMP, then it will never achieve success under any system (except maybe at gunpoint).

Perhaps Mr Seymour should just accept that 99.95% of voters simply do not like ACT’s free-market, dog-eat-dog,  and corporate-welfarism for it’s taxpayer-funded Charter Schools.

When Gareth Morgan’s TOP gained four times more votes (48,018 – 2.2%) than ACT  (10,959 – 0.05%), what does that say about the fate of neo-liberalism in this country?

Yes Winston, we have…

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The question is, what will he do about it?

Does Winston Peters really want his party to end up like the Maori Party, ACT, and Peter Dunne – all casualties of their political closeness to National?

Lisa Owen made this observation on TV3’s The Nation, on 24 September, when she pointed out to Steven Joyce;

“Given the situation you find yourself in with the previous people you’ve worked with dwindling…”

As others have pointed out, a vote for NZ First was indeed a vote for change. Otherwise, those leaning toward National would have cut out the Black & White Middle Man and voted for the Blue Team.

Going with National is More of the Same.

Choose wisely, Mr Peters, choose wisely.

The Fate of The Maori Seats

With the demise of the Maori Party and the assimilation of all seven Maori Seats into a mainstream, predominantly white-person’s political party, it is more apparent than ever that we need to retain those Maori Seats to ensure on-going, guaranteed Parliamentary representation for Tangata Whenua.

If National bows to Peters’ demand for a referendum on the seats, it will be a sad day for democracy in this country when the Majority get to choose on entrenched safeguards for a Minority.

Why do (some) pakeha feel so threatened by seven seats when they  have 113 seats for themselves, under their potential full control? It can’t be any notion of “reverse-racism”. Those who demand the abolition of Maori seats rarely concern themselves with such matters.

National’s Dirty Politics Strategy

In a Hollywood movie, a budding politician rises up from nowhere and successfully takes on the political Establishment Elites. After a struggle, the hero/heroine prevails, showing that truth, courage, and integrity will always defeat the Dark Forces of the political Elite. Cue happy ending; cue stirring theme music; roll credits; bank the ticket-takings.

In real life, Steven Joyce and his party strategists (with the assistance of Crosby Textor?) spun two lies, regarding Labour’s mythical “$11.7 billion fiscal hole” and that Labour would “raise taxes”. None of which were remotely true. Joyce was aided and abetted by Bill English who unashamedly repeated those two lies at every opportunity, whether on-air debates or interviews on Radio NZ, Q+A, The Nation, etc. At no point did either man resile from their wilful calumny.

If 998,813 voters who ticked “National” on their Party Vote ballot weren’t aware that the two claims were barefaced lies – or, knew it was a lie and simply didn’t care – Joyce’s  strategy for mis-information worked.

Even Patrick Gower – no friend of the Left – knew that Joyce’s claims were deliberate lies, and was appalled at what he was witnessing;

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The Dirty Tricks strategy was previously used against Winston Peters when an unknown agent leaked his superannuation over-payment to the media.

At the next election, Labour and the Greens must be better placed to strategically address “fake news” from the National Party. Labour and Green strategists must  be conscious that the Nats will stoop to lies if their pre-election polling shows them at-risk of losing. A rapid-response task-force should be ready and well-resourced to counteract such lies; to do it immediately,  and with energy.

Patrick Gower put it this way on The Nation on 24 September, when he interviewed Labour’s Phil Twyford;

“…And one of the issues was the attack from National on tax and their lies, in effect. Now, why didn’t you call them out earlier?

[…] But do you look back now and go, ‘We were relentlessly positive, but we let their relentless negativity come in too much.’ Do you look back now as you wake up and go, ‘Oh, we should have called them out earlier.’?

[…] But where was her junkyard dog? Where was someone— If she was relentlessly positive— And, actually, I’m going to call you out here — were you personally too late? Do you take some responsibility for not taking on Steven Joyce and letting him get away with what he did?”

This style of dirty tricks cannot be allowed to become New Zealand’s “new norm”.

That was Then, This is Now

In 2008 and 2011, then-Dear Leader John Key was emphatic that under no circumstances would he entertain any coalition deal with Winston Peters;

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Three years later;

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The Nats are nothing if not “flexible”. As are their “principles”.

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References

Electoral Commission: 2017 General Election Timetable

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2014 General Election Official Results

Fairfax media:   National loses majority, Greens pick up one

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Green Party:  Golriz Ghahraman

Mediaworks:  Labour, Greens and Māori Party ‘could change the world’ – Marama Fox

TVNZ: Q+A –  Maori Party – Te Ururoa Flavell

Wikipedia: Maori Party

Fairfax media:  Māori have ‘gone back like a beaten wife to the abuser’, defiant Marama Fox says

Fairfax media:  Te Ururoa Flavell won’t be part of a Māori Party revival

NZ Herald:  Maori Party investigates complaint against Harawira

Mediaworks: Opinion: Maori Party must kick National in guts

Fairfax media:  Party ‘for a fairer New Zealand’ falls flat, as Gareth Morgan’s TOP falls far short of 5 per cent

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2011 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2008 General Election Official Results

Radio NZ:  Two-party coalition more stable – English

TVNZ: Q+A –  ‘Every minor party got hammered’ – ACT Party leader David Seymour justifies dismal party vote

Scoop media: TV3’s The Nation –  Lisa Owen interviews Steven Joyce

Fairfax media:  The Māori Party is out: Labour wins all Māori electorates

Mediaworks:  Patrick Gower – National guilty of biggest campaign lie

Mediaworks:  Patrick Gower – National playing ‘post-truth politics’

Fairfax media:  Winston Peters, scandal and a recipe for revenge

Scoop media: TV’s The Nation – Patrick Gower interviews Phil Twyford

Fairfax media:  Bill English – I’m ready to talk to Winston

Other Blogs

The Standard:  National have poisoned the Peters well

The Standard:  National’s political hit job on Winston Peters

The Standard:  Where to now for the Greens?

The Standard:  Consider the people of New Zealand First

The Standard:  National rules itself out of coalitions with cynical BillShit

Previous related blogposts

John Key: Man of Many Principles (2012)

How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study (2014)

No More. The Left Falls. (2014)

Election ’17 Countdown: The Promise of Nirvana to come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Acknowledgment: Toby Morris, The Wireless)

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 September 2014.

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Kelvin Davis – an unforeseen disaster on 23 September?

9 August 2017 2 comments

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August 1 began a new chapter in Labour’s 101 year history: the sudden – though not wholly unexpected – appointment of Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis as Leader and Deputy Leader, respectively, of the NZ Labour Party;

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Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis

(acknowledgement: Fairfax media)

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It marks an end to Andrew Little’s brief reign as Leader. Little’s decision to step down –  the mark of an honourable man who put Party before personal ambition.

The recent TV1, TV3, and Labour’s own internal polling sealed Little’s political doom.

Labour’s new Deputy Leader, Kelvin Davis,  is an Electorate MP for Te Tai Tokerau. The vast Maori electorate stretches from Auckland to Cape Reinga;

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Davis won the seat from Mana Movement leader, Hone Harawira in 2014, after a ‘stitch-updeal between National, Labour, and NZ First;

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The deal was organised to rid Parliament of the one true far-left political party, and it was executed with callous efficiency. Davis won the seat with 743 votes.

But that’s history.

What is pertinent is a point that few people have realised – Kelvin Davis’ precarious position as Labour’s Deputy Leader.

At Number Two on the Labour Party list, Ms Ardern’s chances of returning to Parliament is  all but guaranteed.

The new Deputy Leader – Kelvin Davis – has no such guarantee. His “life boat” – a high placing on the Party List – does not exist.

On 21 March this year, Labour announced that’s its candidates for the seven Maori seats would not have a place on Labour’s Party List;

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The decision to stand candidates in electorates-only was a strategic move by Labour. Labour wanted Maori voters to give their Electorate Vote to Labour candidates and not split their votes between Labour and the Maori Party. (At only 1.3% in the last election, the Maori Party was way below the  5% MMP threshold and the Party Vote was of secondary use to them. They needed to win an Electorate seat to gain representation in Parliament.)

This was a calculated plan to oust the Maori Party from Parliament using Labour’s Maori candidates in an “all-or-nothing” gambit. Interestingly, to this blogger’s knowledge, none of Labour’s pakeha candidates were asked to make a similar decision to stand in an Electorate only.

This “cunning plan” may have backfired if the recent accord between the Mana Movement and the Maori Party  allows Hone Harawira to regain Te Tai Tokerau;

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In 2014, had Maori Party supporters given their electorate vote to Hone Harawira, Davis would have lost by a decisive 1,836 votes;

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Labour could yet end up with another (deputy) leadership vacancy. Embarrassing.

On the positive side, if Andrew Little’s sacrifice for the greater good pays dividends on 23 September, it will signal the end of National’s current reign – and begin the slow unpicking of neo-liberalism. The times, they are a-changin’ and the winds against globalisation/neo-liberalism are gaining strength.

Labour’s up-coming announcement on tertiary education may put the ‘frighteners’ into the neo-libs if it is as bold as I hope it is.

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References

Wikipedia: NZ Labour Party

Radio NZ:  As it happened – Jacinda Ardern takes charge as Labour leader

Wikipedia: Te Tai Tokerau

Maori TV: Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

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

Wikipedia: Te Tai Tokerau – 2014 Election

NZ Labour Party: List

Fairfax media:  Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

Wikipedia: Maori Party – 2014 Election

Fairfax media:  Hone Harawira gets clear Te Tai Tokerau run for Mana not running against Maori Party in other seats

Additional

NZ Herald:  Andrew Little’s full statement on resignation

Other Blogs

No Right Turn:  The big gamble

The Jackal:  Andrew Little is the devil

The Standard:  Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch

The Standard: Thank you Andrew – go well Jacinda!

The Standard: Helen Clark burns Matthew Hooton

The Standard: So NZ Labour wanted the Headlines.

The Standard: Greens and the Māori Party on the new Labour leaders

Werewolf:  Gordon Campbell on the Labour leadership change

Previous related blogposts

No More. The Left Falls.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 August 2017.

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

5 March 2016 4 comments

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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.

[…]

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.

[…]

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.

[…]

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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6a00d83451d75d69e201901cbc5a3c970b

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

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

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

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

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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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Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

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Foot In Mouth

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When I first read  Patrick Gower’s comments on Twitter;

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

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– I was gobsmacked.

For a moment I considered that his account had been hacked and hijacked by ACT-On-Campus agitators.

Then I read several further “tweets” from the TV3  journalist;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance (2)

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This was not the work of a “hacker”.

More like a hack.

Note Gower’s comments,

1.

“Lalia Harré – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP Same goes for your pals Hone, Dotcom, Minto and Sykes.”

I trust that Gower will not be surprised if Ms Harré declines any further interviews  with him? After all, Laila’s compassion would not allow her to make poor Patrick “feel sick“.

2.

“No I’m not OK with it. It’s not OK. Rorting MMP is not OK.”

 

No, Patrick. A strategic alliance between two political parties is not a “rort”.  It is making full use of the rules of MMP – as this current government has itself endorsed and used on at least two occasions.

Secondly, it is not a “rort” because the strategic co-operation is out in the public domain, for all to see. Including the voters of Te Tai Tokerau.

It is up to voters to determine if it is a rort or not.

I would add that this strategic co-operation was done more openly; more transparently than the *nudge,nudge, wink, wink* “cuppa tea” meeting between John Key and John Banks, in an Epsom coffee shop, on 11 November 2011. And far more open  and upfront that the sham candidacy of National Party candidate, Katrina Shanks, in Ohariu in the 2011 Election.

Was the Alliance – set up in 1991  between the NewLabour Party, Mana Motuhake, Greens, and Democratic Party (a fifth party, the Liberals, joined later)  – also a “rort”?

Or was it a what it was – a strategic alliance of small parties to adapt to the rules of the then-electoral system of First Past the Post?

The rules of MMP were not decided by Lalia Harré, Hone Harawira, Kim Dotcom, John Minto, or Annette Sykes. They can only use what they have been given.

3.

“I want coat-tailing to go. I want politicians to stop rorting MMP.”

Fine. But I really think you should take that up with John Key and Judith Collins.

They are the ones who decided to keep the “coat tailing” provisions.

They are the ones who rejected the recommendations of the Electoral Commission to eliminate the “coat tailing” rule and reduce the threshold for Parties from 5% to 4%. But they refused. Why?  Because the “coat-tailing” rule suited them very nicely.

When a governing party decides to preserve a provision in an electoral system because it increases their chances of winning more seats, or gaining seats for prospective allies – that is a “rort”.

It is also known as gerrymandering.

Blaming two tiny political parties who, between them have one seat in Parliament, and are using the MMP system as it has been presented to them – is just too asinine to take seriously.

Gower shows himself to be the  village idiot, with an over-inflated sense of self-worth, is he does not understand this simple truism.

4.

“I fight those deals too.”

“Lets fight these deals together.”

Really?

And here I was, thinking that you were a political journalist reporting the news – not making it or judging it.

Aren’t you supposed to present the facts to us, and leave the evaluation to us, Joe and Jane Public?

Or are we too thick to be able to form our own opinions without journalists now telling us what and how to think?!

If you want to do a Campbell Live or Paul Henry style of story-telling – get your own show, Mr Gower. Then we can keep the differentiation between real reporting and advocacy journalism.

5.

“Nobody in politics will – all are too greedy for power.”

Really?!

Funny thing about that, Mr Gower –  all those “greedy for power” were elected to office by us, the People. If you have a problem with that – take it up with the voters who put those politicians into office. I’d like to see Patrick Gower make a tweet, for example;

“Voters of Epsom – you make me feel sick by how you are rorting MMP Same goes for your pals, the voters in Ohariu.”

I could see your employers having ‘kittens‘ if you tried to slag off tens of thousands of potential viewers with such a shotgun-style delivery of abusive criticism, eh?

What really annoys me about such a cynical state that “Nobody in politics will – all are too greedy for power” is that it is patently untrue. It is a generalisation based on nothing except your own personal experiences and cynical outlook on life.

Because, really, what is the alternative?

Democracy is be the worst form of political system – except all the others, as some famous bloke said a while ago.

By your cynicism you are simply perpetuating the feeling of alienation that pervades our society and helping to further voter disengagement rather than doing anything positive to improve the system.

Maybe I’m missing something here?

Perhaps trying to increase disengagement – especially with parties on the Left – is your real agenda?

6.

“It is about standards. Somebody has to hold the line”

I guess it’s easier to maintain “standards” and “hold the line” when it’s two small parties, with one MP between them – rather than the governing party in power, with fiftynine MPs, and the full force of the State behind them?

That’s the ‘trick’, Paddy, start small, on the little guy. And if you can beat him up, move on to the next little guy. But whatever you do – don’t take on the Big Boys, Paddy. Because you know they’ll kick your flabby arse from one end of this country to the other.

7.

“@RusselNorman Yes. But now it is time for the Greens to show some backbone and rule out working with the Mana-Dotcom rort. Why won’t you?”

Ah, and here we have it – the nub of it all.

This is not about “rorting” MMP. Or keeping “standards“. Or “holding the line“. Or any other lofty ideals.

Nah.

This is about keeping a Labour-Green-Mana-Internet Party(-NZ First?) coalition government from taking power post September 20th.

Because if the Greens (and Labour) were foolish enough to follow  Gower’s suggestion – that would effectively lock out any chance of a new government forming, thereby throwing out Key and his cronies.

Bear in mind that when National did their dirty deal in Epsom with John Banks – Gower did not call on Key “ to show some backbone and rule out working with the ACT-Banks rort”.  (If he did, I must have missed it.)

That is what this is all about. All this self-righteous, indignant chest-thumping – to keep National in power and prevent a left-wing government taking office.

How else does one explain the volume of hysteria associated with two tiny political parties that barely register 2% (collectively!) in the polls?

Answer? Because it threatens the established system and those who maintain it and profit by it.

Gower has seriously damaged any credibility he might have had.

By his own words, he has disclosed his agenda.

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References

Twitter: Patrick Gower


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 June 2014.

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The Mana-Internet Alliance – My Thoughts

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internet party mana party

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1. Mana’s cunning plan

Firstly, let me say that I have a huge amount of respect for Sue Bradford. Much like Kate Sheppard, her contribution to New Zealand society with her political activism and expression of ideals is something that our children and grandchildren will recognise and appreciate. She is the better part of our nation’s collective conscience in what is right, fair, and decent.

When Sue  Bradford speaks, we listen.

On the issue of the Mana-Internet Party Alliance (it is not a merger, as cynics and right-wing commentators are suggesting),  whilst I understand her reservations, I don’t accept we have the luxury of being “purer than pure” about this.

I don’t need to remind people that this government has been vicious toward low income earners; workers; and welfare recipients. Whilst National has bent over backwards for the likes of Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, and Skycity, it has nothing but contempt for those at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum.

Bennett’s on-going war-of-words on the unemployed and solo-mothers (but never solo-fathers) and repressive new  measures at WINZ are making life harder and harder for those who must survive on welfare.

Simon Bridges’ anti-union legislation will destroy the last vestiges of protection and collective bargaining for workers, delivering them into the grasping fists of local and foreign capitalist corporations.

We can argue all we like about the ethics of co-operation between Mana and the Internet Party.  We can indulge our political passions till the dairy cows come home (after their morning poo in our rivers).

We can keep waiting for a mass workers’ movement to rise up and overthrow the oligarchy that rules this country (and others throughout the world) – but really,  it ain’t gonna  happen, folks.

Quite simply, the poor/unemployed/low-paid are too busy struggling day-to-day to survive on their meagre incomes; avoiding debt collectors; and keeping up with WINZ’s ever-changing rules and new hurdles. Who can forget the chilling, heart-wrending  story  of Sarah Wilson, who recounted her experiences with WINZ. There are thousands of men and women and children like Sarah going through what she has.

The middle-classes are either National Party aspirationists who have bought the neo-liberal, consumer-is-king, construct, hook-line-and-sinker – or are trying to keep their heads above water, balancing their outgoings with their income. The latter have one eye on their bank accounts and the other on the lot of the poor/unemployed/low-paid – and will do anything to keep from slipping down to their bottom level.

Like homelessness in the United States, once down the socio-economic ladder, it is damned hard to climb up again.

If we needed  a clear example why the Left must take every opportunity to rid ourselves of this government, it is this piece, which I have republished from Tony Milne’s blogpost on The Daily Blog;

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Hooray for our National Government!

Let me tell you just how well they have supported my family over the last twelve months.

We started off 2013 full of hope that finally things were going to get better. Our children were at new schools and beginning to recover from the trauma of being trapped in the CBD during the earthquake. Having lost our source of income as a result of the earthquake I retrained as a teacher. My husband and I both had teaching jobs. As a beginning teacher and teacher Aide our salaries were very low but at least we were earning.

Strike 1: We were earning but not receiving. Novopay! That wonderful new acquisition of our caring and intelligent government hit us hard. For months we were not paid properly or at all in my husband’s case. This meant that we quickly fell into debt as we had no income. Paying interest on the debt cost us thousands by the end of the year.

Strike 2: My job was a fixed term position for 1 year. That’s ok. I’m sure to find another one… except the government has closed so many Christchurch schools that even many experienced teachers are out of work. So no more jobs available. Way to go government! As if we haven’t suffered enough in Christchurch!

Strike 3: Thank goodness we have a welfare system to help us out in times of trouble. Our incredibly generous government has worked its magic on the welfare system too. Revamping it to make sure those nasty beneficiaries don’t eat into their coffers and mess up the budget surplus targets. So despite being unemployed I am ineligible for a benefit. The reason being that the $379.28 that my husband brings home each week during the school term (as a teacher aide he does not get paid for school holidays) is too much for me to qualify. We can claim an accommodation supplement of $120 per week.

Strike 4: $120 per week accommodation supplement doesn’t go very far in Christchurch thesedays. But if we lived in Auckland we could get more because housing is so much more expensive there. Really? A small 1960’s house with 2 1/2 bedrooms and no insulation is at least $450 a week in Christchurch. A search on Trademe revealed 68 3 bedroom houses available for rent in Auckland for $350 per week or less. There were no 3 bedroom houses for that price in Christchurch. Aah yes there is a housing shortage but the government will not increase the accommodation supplement or do anything to stop the profiteering of landlords. Or make resolving the housing shortage a priority.

Why? Who knows… it seems that people are not as important as those good old market forces – our friends supply and demand.

It is interesting to consider that during a similarly traumatic and destructive national emergency (World War 2), it was illegal to profiteer in this way. In fact in the UK, profiteering like this was akin to treason and carried the death penalty.

Strike 5: So, here we are. A family of two adults and two hungry teenagers and two cats living on $568.28 per week for 40 weeks of the year and $189 per week for the rest when you include our
family tax rebate. Our rent was $470 per week and it was costing $110 per week for my husband to commute to his job. In order to save money we have put the kids into the school where my husband works and moved close by. Our rent is now $450 per week and we are locked into it for the next twelve months. We signed the contract believing that we would be entitled to a benefit that would give me an income and believing that for $450 a week it would be insulated and safe if not beautiful.

We were wrong. We were unable to find anything cheaper despite searching for months. I had applied for a benefit in the first week of February after my previous employment contract ended.

Unfortunately, WINZ were having a tough few months and it took them until the 6th process my application. They declined it. If I had known that it would be declined I would not have signed the tenancy three weeks earlier.

Strike 6: Novopay strikes again! Novopay failed to pay me correctly at the end of my contract so I am still owed a week’s pay. Novopay refuse to talk to teachers and will only talk to the pay officer in the school. I notified the school over a month ago and they say that they have referred the matter to Novopay. Nothing more they can do. Novopay won’t talk to me so I can’t find out where my money is. Stalemate!

So as you can see our wonderful government has taken an ordinary family and crushed it through the accumulated impact of the decisions of their various departments. We survived the earthquake and after three years the physical and psychological injuries are starting to heal. Unfortunately, we won’t survive this government. I don’t know what I can possibly do to change my situation. I have tried every avenue I can think of. Years of hard work all for nothing.

It baffles me that such a government could ever be elected by reasonable people. But then I guess Hitler was elected too… I am sure there are well meaning people in the government somewhere but I wonder if they really appreciate the impact of the decisions that they make on ordinary people.

One other point: getting rid of this government is not just a matter of helping those who are threatened by right-wing policies – though god knows that should be plenty to motivate us.

The longer that a right-wing government is in power, the further their neo-liberal policies are cemented in place, and the harder to undo them. The dismantling of free tertiary education and introduction of tertiary fees/debt, from 1992, is a prime example.

A third term of National will see a further erosion of workers’ rights; beneficiary bashing; growing inequality; worsening housing shortage; and other social and economic ills. A third term will make it much harder for an incoming Labour-Green-Mana-Internet Party(-NZ First ?) to carry out social reforms, as the country is moved further and further to the right.

Time is not on our side.

2. Flavell’s unmitigated hypocrisy

On the Mana-Internet Party Alliance, Maori Party co-co-c0-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell said;

“Utilising Maori seats to drag in somebody who is questionable about their knowledge about things Maori, and indeed the dreams and aspirations of the Tai Tokerau, it’s not on.”

If I were Flavell, I would not be  bandying about words like “dreams” and “aspirations“.

Since  John Key became Prime Minister – with Maori Party support – unemployment has risen; the housing crisis has worsened; child poverty has increased; and income inequality has worsened;

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Income inequality in New Zealand -  the Gini coefficient - 1982 - 2012

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Note the yellow-highlighted After Housing Costs rise in inequality from 36.8 (2007) to 37.7 (2012). The higher the figure in the GINI co-efficient, the greater the inequality.

Many of those unemployed and looking for work or living in garages are Maori or Pacifica. Poverty related diseases are impacting on Maori and Pacifica children worse than other ethnic groups. New Zealand’s under class is growing.

As such, Flavell and his mates in the Maori Party are every bit a part of the problem rather than the solution. So if I were Mr Flavell or his fellow-travellers, I’d be keeping my head down, and mouth firmly shut.

3. Labour’s mind-numbing stupidity

(Some ?) (All ?) Labour MPs need to make up their minds – do they want to be in government or not?

Labour’s Kelvin Davis’s comment on 28 May;

“People can see that this is just a stitch-up and I don’t think they like seeing Tai Tokerau being traded off like that. I think they’re taking the voters of Tai Tokerau for granted.”

– beggars belief.

With that incredibly asinine comment, it appears that certain Labour MPs do not quite comprehend;

  1. This is an MMP political environment – has been since 1996, for god’s sakes!
  2. This will be a closely fought election according to political pundits, commentators, bloggers, pollsters, etc. Even Dear Leader acknowledges that this year’s election will be  close.

As such – and let me bold this so that any Labour politician reading this doesn’t miss it – every single seat will count. The next government may have no more than a one or two seat majority.

In which case, let me explain it in simple terms for Mr Davis and his colleagues;

  • If Kelvin Davis wins Tai Tokerau – that will give one seat to a Labour-led-government.
  • If Hone Harawira wins Tai Tokerau, and the Mana-Internet Alliance polls 1.5% (for example), that will give a Labour-led government two MPs.
  • Let me repeat that, as some of my colleagues may be a bit slow on the up-take on this point;
  • If Kelvin Davis wins Tai Tokerau – that will give one seat to a Labour-led-government.
  • If Hone Harawira wins Tai Tokerau, and the Mana-Internet Alliance polls 1.5% (for example), that will give a Labour-led government two MPs.

Now in my books, two is better than one, by about 200%.

So – unless Labour is getting nervous at impending interest rate rises, and is planning to sit this election out and gift the government back to National – there is no benefit whatsoever to the Left if Kelvin Davis wins Tai Tokerau.

None.

Nada.

Nil.

Zero.

In fact, if Mana-Internet fails to win seats, we could see a third term of this guy, as our Prime Minister;

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johnkey5

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I trust that’s helped focus people’s attention?

4. Postscript

If rumours are correct that Laila Harré has been appointed as the new leader of the Internet Party, then we have nothing to fear. Laila is as solid as they come when it comes to a strong leftwing philosophy. Her integrity, vision, and inner strength  will keep the Internet Party firmly to the Left.

I’d say our chances of a new progressive government post 20 September just got better.

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References

NBR: Internet Party, Mana merge

NZ Herald: Beneficiaries ‘attacked on all sides’

NZ Herald: Welfare rules force people to struggle on without benefits

Writehandedgirl Blog: Terror and humiliation – just another day with WINZ

The Daily Blog: “We won’t survive this government”

TVNZ News: Dotcom’s party poised for Parliament on Harawira’s coat tails

MSD: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2012 Revised Tables and Figures 27 February 2014

Interest.co.nz: Otago Uni study estimates over-crowding causes over 1,300 hospital admissions a year and some deaths; Professor calls for programme to build thousands of affordable homes

Scoop media: Shocking poverty causing shocking diseases in our children

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

TVNZ News:  Former MP Laila Harre tipped as Internet Party’s new leader

Radio NZ: PM still expects tight election race

Previous related blogposts

Good onya, Sue!

Heroes…

 


 

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Vote the government out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 May 2014.

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They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

9 April 2014 7 comments

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Continued from: They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

 

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The New Zealand government is negotiating an international agreement that could have a huge effect on the lives of ordinary kiwis. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and it involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If it goes ahead, we risk damage to our innovative economy, our pristine environment, our health, and the ability to shape our own future.

Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret, what we know about the TPPA comes from leaked documents and detective work. We live in a democracy, which means we have the right to know what is done in our name and to have a say. “ –  It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Wellington, NZ, 29 March 2014 – Over three hundred people in Wellington took to the streets on a fine Saturday afternoon, to protest at secret TPPA negotiations and the threats to our national sovereignty.

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (94).

The marchers took off…

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (166).

Some symbolism here?

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An eagle-eyed reader will notice… no police presence!

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (167).

At first, marchers  stuck to the footpaths to keep out of the way of traffic. But as on-lookers joined in, numbers swelled, and they took to the road;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (168).

Along the “Golden Mile” – Lambton Quay – the march of citizens made an impressive sight;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (105).

As the marchers reached the Cenotaph, a lone police vehicle appeared, to control traffic;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (106).

The protestors moved past the Cenotaph, toward Parliament’s gates;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (169).

In Parliament’s grounds, protestors made their way up the driveway;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (170) - Copy.

Standing before the People’s Parliament – behind steel barricades and a contingent of private security guards (off camera) –  Claire Bleakley, from the  GE Free Network.  Steel barriers. (Steel barriers. Obviously, National are terrified that 300+ anti-TPPA protesters might storm Parliament and seize control of the entire country.)

Claire gave a short, but ‘punchy’ speech on the link between the TPPA and genetically modified organisms entering our country through unfettered “trade”;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (125).

“…One of the biggest things that’s happening America is the advent of genetically modified crops. Which are coming into our country. With the TPPA we will will be trading away our right to know what we are eating…

… We have to protect our seeds. We have to protect our sovereignty. And we have to protect our food.”

Meanwhile, in a sign of some irony, anti-TPPA protesters  stood beneath the fluttering flags of other nations – several of which are participants in TPPA negotiations;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (117).

Green Party MP, Gareth Huges, (clockwise, from top left) being interviewed by a TV1 camera crew; Green Party supporters; Gareth and a young potential future Green voter; and Gareth addressing the gathering.

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Chris McKenzie, from the Maori Party, voiced his opposition to the TPPA, saying it would harm Maori interests;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (144).

A couple of people in the crowd took exception to Chris’ comments and, after being handed a bullhorn, began to chant,

“Cross the floor!

Cross the floor!!”

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (146).

When Chris responded that he would pay no heed to “a couple of haters”, others in the crowd immediately took up the chant,

“Cross the floor!

Cross the floor!!”

 

Chris and his fellow Maori Party activists responded with a stirring haka, but the damage had been done – they had likely lost the support of most of the protesters. They are, after all, members of the Maori Party, which supports the National-led government with Supply and Confidence votes in the House. So what did they expect?

Kudos to them, at least, for having the balls to participate in the protest. That is courage of a magnitude several times greater than any Maori Party MPs – who could not be bothered to front.

Next up – Tim Jones, from the anti-coal-mining group, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, aka,  “Keep the Coal in the Hole”;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (133).

” We’re working to stop new and expanded coal mining because mining and burning coal is the single biggest threat to the world’s climate. This government is very keen to mine and burn coal, along with all the other mining, drilling, and fracking it wants to do.

We need a government that cares about climate change and we need a government that’s willing to take action on it. We also need a government that is actually able to take action on it. As you’ve heard, if the TPPA is passed, foreign corporations will be able to sue any New Zealand government that brings in tougher rules on the environment [and]  that brings in tougher rules against greenhouse gas emissions.

That means even a government that wants to act on climate change, and that certainly isn’t the current government, might have it’s hands tied.

Do you want overseas companies to have the last word on Aotearoa’s environment and climate change policies?

… So let’s stop the TPPA, and let’s get rid of this government, and it’s mining company mates, and let’s start taking real action on climate change.”

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (173).

Perhaps one of the longest banners ever at a protest rally, this one measured well over 20 metres, and the message read,

“TPPA: Taking Aotearoa’s sovereignty away! TPPA: No mandate. Stop gambling with our future! People B4 profits. Stop foreign corporate takeover! TPPA = selling out NZ. Signing the TPPA is treachery!!!”

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (172)

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NZEI members leaving the  International Summit on the Teaching Profession, holding their “Living Wage” placards;

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When Iwi leaders condemned the protest, Mana’s Hone Harawira was none-to-happy at what he called  “iwi leaders becom[ing] so servile and sycophantic” to the National government.

Hone spoke from the heart and said some things that – for a politician – was quite extraordinary! In all my years listening to politicians speak, I have never heard any say the things he did;

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anti TPPA march_30 march 2014_wellington (148).

“Whatever happens, whatever happens, don’t kid yourself that because you’re all standing that side of the fence, you’re all friends with each other. Know this, if you’re not fighting for the sovereignty of this nation, then you’re on the wrong bloody side, that side, or this side, of the fence.

If the TPPA is aimed at taking away the sovereignty outlined in the Treaty of the Waitangi and replacing it with an economic sovereignty owned by people from far, far, away, and unless we do something to stop it, all of us, those on that side of the fence and those on this of the fence that you can trust, then we ain’t going to change it. Be up for struggle, and be up for a fight.

And know that unless we stand strong on this, these bastards are going to win.

There’s no reason why anybody in this country should accept our sovereignty being negotiated [away] in secret, in Singapore, in New York, and in London. There is no reason, why anybody in this country should accept that this country, and this country’s own government, cannot legislate in the interests of New Zealand citizens only to have those decisions overturned by big tobacco in the World [Bank] Court. There is no reason why anybody here should accept that big drug companies can overthrow the right of PHARMAC to let all citizens in this country to get low cost medicines.

And there no reason to accept the reason why […background noise…] Maori and alternative medicines should be pushed out and made illegal simply to keep international drug lords in big fat profits.

So, I don’t really care about this being a Mana thing or a Green thing or a Labour thing or an anybody thing. Because this thing here is about all us standing together. Come the election 2014,  look only… to the parties that are absolutely dedicated to changing the government we have now. Look only to those parties that are absolutely dedicated to changing this government we’ve got now, and put your vote in any one of them.

And honestly, I don’t really care if you’re not going to vote for Mana, but vote only for those who will change the government. Don’t vote for those, don’t vote for those, who’ve got a dollar over here and a dollar over here.

This Agreement is not a win-win deal. Any party that signals their willingness to go with this government, or may go this way , or that way, is not a friend of what we’re trying to achieve on this stage…

… There are no deals on our sovereignty.”

It was  startling to hear Hone Harawira utter those words – made all the more amazing because it is not the usual thing one expects from politicians. I cannot recall a single politician ever, anywhere, calling on people to vote on an issue first, and not for themselves or their Party!

Finally, to remind ourselves,

” There are no deals on our sovereignty.”

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References

NZEI: Living Wage for Learning events to call for a fair go

TV3: Iwi leaders slam NZEI protests

Scoop media: No prestige In Trying To Hide Poverty

Additional

NewstalkZB: Thousands march against TPPA

Support groups

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Coal Action Network Aotearoa

Copyright

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Acknowledgement

This blogger wishes to thank Mana Party organisor, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati, for kindly lending me her camera. Mine finally gave up the mechanical ghost and I would not have been able to complete this blogpost without her timely assistance. I am deeply appreciative of her kindness and trust.

– Frank Macskasy

 

 

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 April 2014.

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= fs =

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jordan Williams from Taxpayers Union caught out fibbing to the public and media!

25 December 2013 3 comments

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When-I-grow-up-I-want-to-be-a-commentator-like-Jordan
Jordan Williams – lawyer; right wing commentator; anti-MMP activist; National/ACT apparatchik
Acknowledgement of image: frontpage.co.nz, via thepaepae.com

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For those who are not aware of Jordan Williams, he is a lawyer working in Wellington.

He is also a right wing commentator/activist; anti-MMP campaigner; and party apparatchik for National and ACT. He was closely involved in the Brash coup against ACT-leader Rodney Hide in 2011.

Williams is also a known associate of rightwing blogger and National Party worker, David Farrar; rightwing activist/campaigner Simon Lusk; and convicted criminal (and occassional blogger), Cameron Slater.

Peter Aranyi, of thepaepae blog described Williams thusly, in this well-written piece,

Based on his track record (fronting the Peter Shirtcliffe/Simon Lusk anti-MMP campaign and Don Brash’s ACT Party leadership coup) I personally see Jordan as a paid political mouthpiece — nothing more, nothing less. He is, it seems to me, merely another lobbyist who, it appears, works for ‘right wing’ figures or interest groups.”

Source

Recently, Williams set up the so-called “Taxpayers Union”, a group which he  explained on Radio NZ as being based on a UK version. His group’s objectives  include;

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is a non-partisan activist group, dedicated to being the voice for Kiwi taxpayers in the corridors of power. We’re here to fight government waste and make sure New Zealanders get value for money from their tax dollar.”

Source

The rest of the group’s aims & objectives reads pretty much like the Act Party’s manifesto (see: What we stand for) – a party that Williams is closely associated with. (Perhaps this is the next neo-liberal Party in the wings…?)

Just recently, under the banner of the “Taxpayer’s Union”, Williams launched an attack on Hone Harawira’s trip to South Africa to attend Mandela’s funeral.

William wrote,

Reacting to confirmation from Hone Harawira’s office that taxpayers will be footing the bill for the Mana Party leader’s trip to the Mandela service*, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union Jordan Williams said:

“This trip is a slap in the face to taxpayers and particularly Mr Harawira’s electorate, who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of his parliamentary funding.

Mr Harawira already spends more than any other non-ministerial member of Parliament. Earlier in the year the public found out he spent even more than the then Leader of the Opposition.

Source

Interestingly, Williams  made no comment on the fact that Key’s “official” attendance at the funeral included a photographer. Far be it for Dear Leader to attend an event without the obligatory photo-op.

Maybe Mr Williams considers a photographer’s presence more valid than an attendance by someone who was an actual anti-apartheid campaigner – like Hone Harawira?

Williams’ 11 December press release, though, went on to state,

Originally Mr Harawira told the public that he was footing the bill himself. Now we know that he’s treating the taxpayer funded Parliamentary budget as a travel slush fund.”

This is where Williams’ begins to spin a lie.

A casual check of media reports at the time Harawira announced his plan to attend reveals something closer to the truth;

Mr Harawira said his trip is coming out of his parliamentary leadership fund.

TV3, 10 December

A Mana Party spokeswoman confirmed this morning the trip would be paid for out of Harawira’s leader’s budget.

Fairfax, 10 December

Mr Harawira hopes to have his trip paid for out of his parliamentary budget but if he can’t, he will fund it himself.

TV3, 10 December

Nowhere does Hone Harawira promise that he will be “footing the bill himself“.

What he does say is that he wants the trip funded from his own Parliamentary Budget,  but if he can’t, he will fund it himself.

Not exactly an auspicious start for a political lobby group (or nascent political party) that it has to resort to fabrication to push it’s agenda.

But if the so-called “Taxpayers Union” is to be ACT v.2, then it is par-for-course.

Postscript #1

When criticisms were made public regarding the make-up of John Key’s party to South Africa, there were cries of condemnation that not a single anti-apartheid activist had been invited to attend.

Indeed, right wing commentators were quick to point out,

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger says people questioning the make-up of the NZ delegation going to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral should learn from the former South African president.

[…]

Mr Mandela could have been the most bitter man in the world when he came out of prison, but he wasn’t, Mr Bolger said.

“The challenge is whether the world will pick up and try to advance the cause which Mandela pursued the whole of his life – greater fairness and equity within society,” Mr Bolger told Breakfast from Pretoria this morning.

And on “Frankly Speaking“, on 7 December, Roger Gascoigne left this comment,

Whatever strange lens you look at the world through Frank, it’s the ‘office’ of the Prime Minister that will attend. Try a little of Mandela’s concept of forgiving and moving on yourself.
Given 1981 was pretty much a 50/50 split…what would be a grand gesture is if the PM’s office decided to take John Minto to represent the other half of NZ from 81. Then you might think we’ve ALL learned something.”

Source

None of which has stopped Jordan Williams from  blatant fibbing, and five days later,  John Key joined in with this outrageous comment,

This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and shouldn’t be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is we took a delegation – whether he likes it or not – that represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don’t believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa.”

Source

(Were the two public comments related? Considering that Williams is closely connected to the National Party, did Key’s media spin-doctors take their cue from Williams’ 11 December media release?)

Then of course, we had Justice Minister Judith Collin with her infamous Twitter comments, where she ‘tweeted’ that Labour Leader David  Cunliffe and Springbok tour protest leader John Minto were “numpties with bells on“.

Source

So much for understanding and tolerance from the Right.

They should just stick to  bullshitting. They’re far better at it ( it’s in their DNA).

Postscript #2

So Jordan Williams has been caught out lying to the media and public? Does that mean he should resign from the “Taxpayers Union”, as David Farrar recently called for Len Brown’s ‘lying’?

I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland […] But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public.

Source

Lying to the media and public?! Terrible that!

Perhaps Len and Jordan can make it a double-act resignation?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 December 2013.

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References

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign

Fairfax media:  Collins in Twitter war

The Paepae: Left and Right: useful when doing the hokey cokey, but past its use-by date for politics?

Scoop media: Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Harawira’s Mandela Trip

Fairfax media: Hone Harawira heading to Mandela funeral

TV3: Hone Harawira to travel to Mandela’s funeral

TV1 News: Learn from Mandela, says Bolger over delegation debate

Radio NZ: PM criticises Harawira’s Mandela trip

Previous related blogpost

Letter to the Editor: Should Key attend Mandela’s funeral?

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: The audacity of Key’s Hone Harawira dog whistle

The Daily Blog: We did what John Key should have done

International Embarrassment

Huffington Post: New Zealand’s Leader Questioned Over Apartheid Amnesia

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Letter to the Editor: Is Key losing the plot over Hone Harawira?!

17 December 2013 2 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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Another letter to the ed, on this issue…

 

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:39:08 +1300
TO:      NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>

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The Editor
NZ HERALD
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John Key must be losing the plot to be making outrageous,
vile comments like this,  condemning Hone Harawira's
decision to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral,

"This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and
shouldn't be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is
we took a delegation - whether he likes it or not - that
represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don't
believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa."

If anyone had a right to attend Mandela's funeral, it was
Hone Harawira - one of the leading figures in the 1981
anti-Tour movement. Not two ex-National ministers who
supported the Tour (Bolger and McKinnon).

Certainly Harawira had more right to attend than John Key.
At least Harawira could remember which side of the Tour he
was on.

Shame on you, Mr Key, for indulging in childish, petty,
political point-scoring, before Mandela was even laid to
rest.

Shame!

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ: Key criticises Harawaira for tax-funded trip for Mandela funeral

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Letter to the Editor: More arrogance from an increasingly authoritarian PM!

17 December 2013 Leave a comment

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:     "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:      Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:02:11 +1300
TO:     "the listener <letters@listener.co.nz>

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The Editor
The Listener

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What is it with the Prime Minister?

Firstly he casually and arrogantly dismissed the recent
asset sales referendum;

"Well, the numbers don’t look like they’re that
significant. I mean at the moment it’s sitting at around
about 40 per cent.     That’s not absolutely amazing,
it’s not overwhelmingly opposed."

Then he launches into an unprovoked, nasty,  diatribe against Hone
Harawira for attending Mandela's funeral;

"This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and
shouldn't be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is
we took a delegation - whether he likes it or not - that
represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don't
believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa."

Despite the fact that Harawira was one of the leaders in the
1981  anti-tour movement?

Unlike Jim Bolger and Don McKinnon who both supported it.

At least Harawira remembered which side he was on, unlike
our amnesia-afflicted prime minister.

It seems that as we get closer to next year's election, Key
is showing signs of stress and outbursts of anger.

Just as well Key  said he will resign as National's leader
if they lost the election. He is  clearly losing the plot.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ: Key criticises Harawaira for tax-funded trip for Mandela funeral

Fairfax media: PM playing down voter turnout

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: Key’s arrogance shines through

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= fs =

What’s up with the Nats? (Part rua)

20 August 2012 12 comments

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Continued from: What’s up with the Nats? (Part tahi)

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If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood

Who ya gonna call?

Natbusters!

If it’s somethin’ weird an it won’t look good

Who ya gonna call?

Natbusters!

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Intro

Ever since the National Party conference at the end of July, the National Party has been strutting the political stage like a bunch of patched gang-members, strutting about the main street of some small town in the back-blocks.

Key, Bennett, Joyce, Collins, Parata, Banks – even lowly backbenchers like Maggie Barry – have been obnoxiously aggressive in policy announcements and dealing with the media and critics.

The Nats have been unrelentingly in our faces ever since John Key uttered the threat,

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Full story

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This is not just about confidence.

This is something new. This is about a new, hyped-up, aggressive style of taking criticisms and failings, and turning it back on the critic.

Steven Joyce was on-style on TV3’s “The Nation” (19 August), when he belittled and badgered two journalists (John Hartevelt and Alex Tarrant)  who asked him pointedly about National’s short-comings. Joyce’s response was typical Muldoon-style pugnacity.

This interview with Joyce is charachteristic of how National Ministers have been belligerent in their responses.  It is singularly  instructive,

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Full story

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Interestingly, Joyce has a “go” at Labour; then the Greens; and even Hone Harawira throughout the course of the interview.  He even blames the global financial crisis and throws that in the face of Alex Tarrant, as he responds to a point.

Everyone gets a dose of blame – except the one party that is currently in power. So much for National’s creed that we should all take personal responsibility for our actions.

It appears that  National’s back-room Party strategists have been analysing the first few months of this year and have realised that when things go horribly wrong, or the latest string of economic indicators reveal more bad news, the relevant Minister(s) responds  with  aggression and with defiance.

If the old say “explaining-is-losing” is a truism, then any explanation offered automatically puts a Minister on the back-foot.

The best way out of such a sticky moment; take a page out of Rob Muldoon’s book, ‘How To Win Friends/Enemies and Influence the Media‘.

And National’s Ministers have been playing this ‘new’ game perfectly…

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Paula Bennett

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Of all National ministers, Bennett’s  behaviour has become  most  irrational,  offensive,  and just downright bizarre.

Not content with “offering” sterilisation to  solo-mums (but never solo-dads)  and their daughters, her views on poverty are so breathtakingly, woefully ignorant that this blogger has come to the conclusion that her tax-payer funded tertiary education was a complete waste of time and money.

See:  Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Bennett’s latest weird comments raised eyebrows and and a few hackles,

Get in the real world.

One week they can be in poverty, then their parent can get a job or increase their income and they are no longer in poverty … This is the real world, and actually children move in and out of poverty at times on a weekly basis.”

See:  Bennett slammed over child poverty claim

Bennet then lashed out, saying she “wasn’t interested in measuring child poverty“, and instead her government was more focused on addressing the problems,

Of course there is poverty in New Zealand. This has been acknowledged by the Government but it’s not a priority to have another measure on it.”

See: scoop.co.nz – Combating poverty more important than measuring it

How can National “combat poverty” if they are not aware of the scale of it? How can a government budget appropriately, without knowing the numbers involved?

Are they just going to guess?

Which then brings us to the issue of Bennett’s instance that the unemployed be drug-tested,

There is certainly a line between recreational use and addiction and that is challenging in itself and it’s something we’ll have to work through.

“At the end of the day you’ve potentially got thousands of New Zealanders who are unable to work because of recreational use and this paper also identifies that as a real problem, so we need to keep working our way through a solution“.”

See: Bennett ignored advice from Health Ministry – Logie

Again, the question needs to be asked – how many unemployed are on drugs?

Is it 99%?

Is it 50%?

Is it 10%?

Is it 2%?

Is it 0.00001%?

We need to know this, because National may be about to throw $14 million of our tax dollars at this “problem”,

The plan to cut benefits for job seekers who fail drug tests has been met with criticism by the Ministry of Health, saying it could cost up to $14 million a year.

[abridged]

Ms Bennett told Radio New Zealand she would not reconsider sanctioning only drug users based on the Ministry of Health’s concerns and said she was going ahead with the policy.”

See: Bennett ignored advice from Health Ministry – Logie

Bennett’s response?

I just don’t feel that we need to trawl through evidence and give that much kind of evidence to something that is just so obvious.

And added, that she was acting on information from,

“…the visits, from face to face meetings, I don’t know, from some of the international research I’ve seen.”

See: Paula Bennett so sure she’s right

Never let facts get in the way of some damned good prejudice, eh, Ms Bennett?

National’s intention to throw millions of our tax dollars at a problem that may or may not exist, and has not been quantified, beggars belief. It also makes a hollow mockery of John Key’s 2008 pledge to spend our money wisely,

We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.”

See:  John Key – A Fresh Start for New Zealand

National was in opposition when Dear Leader made that pledge. Things change, I guess, when a Party becomes government and has access to our taxes.

The ‘bullishness’ of a cornered National Minister is clearly coming through on this issue.

So if Paula Bennett is ignoring Health Ministry advice,

  1. Where is she getting her advice and data from?
  2. Does she know the number of unemployed who are using recreational drugs?
  3. How much has National budgetted for this programme?
  4. If National has budgetted for drug testing – they must have an idea how many unemployed will be affected?
  5. In which case, we’re back to #1; Where is she getting her advice and data from?

Would Bennett know, for example, how  many of these recently-made redundant workers are on drugs;

See previous blogpost: Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Toru)

The answer, my friends, is not blown in the wind – it’s blown out her —- !

Let’s dispense with  the bovine excrement and stop the tip-toeing on this issue.

National was elected in 2008 on a pledge to raise our wages to parity with Australia.

See: John Key – A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Not only have they failed, but our wage-gap with our Aussie cuzzies is actually widening.

See: Wage gap grows $1 a month – Labour

National was elected in 2011 on a pledge to create 170,000 new jobs.

See: Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Instead, our unemployment has risen to 6.8%.

See:  Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

In almost every respect, National’s policies – which are heavily reliant on the free market to deliver desired outcomes like growth and jobs – have failed.

John Key is presiding over,

  • a stagnant economy
  • rising unemployment
  • a low wage economy
  • wide gap with Australia
  • rising government debt
  • more New Zealanders escaping to Australia
  • and no plans to fix this mess except cuts to the state sector, asset sales, charter schools, crushing cars, and “reforming” the welfare system

That’s it. The “Grand Plan”. That’s as good as it get’s folks.

With more and more redundancies (see above) and  unemployment continuing to creep upward, Bennett’s plans to drug test the jobless is a deflection – an attempt to blame the victims of National’s (lack of) policies.

Drug testing the unemployed  is a ploy.

The unemployed are victims of the global financial crisis. Just  as National likes to make out that that it’s economic policies are also impacted by the recent GFC and resultant recession. It’s obscene that National uses the GFC as an excuse for their failings – and yet deny the unemployed the very same rationale for having lost their jobs.

By demanding drug testing, Bennett is sending a clear message to National’s redneck constituency, and to low information voters, that all unemployed are drug-addled, lazy,  ne’er-do-wells.

Because as we all know, being on the dole on $204.96 (nett, weekly) is a “lifestyle choice”, rather than working and earning the average wage; $800.

National has no idea how many unemployed are on drugs.

But they are still prepared to waste millions of dollars on pursuing a policy of drug testing.

All because they have failed to create the jobs they promised.

All because they need a scapegoat to show their dim-witted constituents that it’s the welfare beneficiaries at fault.

The Nazis used the scapegoating technique well well in the 1930s, when they blamed Jews, communists, gypsies, trade unionists, etc, for Germany’s economic problems.

National’s strategy here should be crystal-clear to us all; they are dangling the unemployed as scapegoats to the ill-informed; the prejudiced; and  low-information voters, for whom unemployment is a vague concept; the Global Financial Crisis happened “somewhere else“; and the dole is some unimaginably generous payment.

Very few low-information voters understand that the dole for a single person is only $204.96 (nett, weekly).

Very few National supporters understand that unemployment was 3.7% in 2007 and is now 6.8% because of an event that was sparked thousands of kilometres away in Wall St, USA.

And very few low-information and National voters want to understand this. Because to understand the realities of unemployment means that the next step is; what are they going to do about it?!

Like, this gentleman, posting on Facebook, who had no interest in anything except spouting his own narrow, ill-informed,  prejudice. I thought I’d share his “considered opinion” with the reader,

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These are the people that Paula Bennett, and National, are pandering to.

Prejudice is easier.

It means they can blame someone else.

It means not having to think about the issues involved.

Because it’s always someone elses’ fault.

Like Steven Joyce, who blamed Labour, the Greens, and Hone Harawira on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, on 19 August. It’s always “someone elses’ fault”.

Unfortunately for Bennett, though, her  repugnant behaviour has become so entrenched that she is unable to behave appropriately even to her own colleagues,

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Source

Listen: Listen to more on Checkpoint

The more that National fails to deliver results, the more they will blame others.

Why should National take responsibility for a lack of jobs and rising unemployment? After all…

… they’re only the government.

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Continued at: What’s up with the Nats? (Part toru: John Banks)

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= fs =

You Have Mail…

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National, ACT, and Peter Dunne have passed legislation to enable the partial-privatisation of our property; Meridian, Genesis, Mighty Rive Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

I will not take this lying down. Neither should you.

Every New Zealander who believes, hand on heart, that what National is doing is just plain wrong must take  whatever (non-violent) action they can to make their anger known to our elected representatives,

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To the editors…

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 7:17 PM
subject:     Letters

The Editor
SUNDAY STAR TIMES

If ever there was a government that has deliberately ignored the will of the people, it is this John Key-led National Party, along with it’s one-man band supporters, John Banks and Peter Dunne.

By passing legislation to enable asset sales, they have thumbed their noses at the entire country. This government is now so far out of touch with the public, that they are blind to what New Zealanders want for the future of their country.

Mr Key can smile and dress-up the proposed asset sales in any way he wants – but the people will revile him for selling what we alreadsy own.

Shame on you, John Key, and on you, Peter Dunne. Shame of you for taking what belongs to us – and then trying to sell it back to us, and any carpetbagger that pops up from overseas.

If I have one word of advice to this wretched government, it is this: resign.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 7:08 PM
subject:     Letters

The Editor
NZ HERALD

One cannot help but be thoroughly disgusted at the actions of John Key and his wretched “government”, in passing asset-sale legislation.

The manner in which they have blatantly disregarded public opinion on this issue, is simply appalling.

This government has lost it’s legitamacy and should resign. Give the people a new election, and a fresh chance to determine the future of our country.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 6:58 PM
subject:     Letters

The Editor
DOMINION POST

Peter Dunne – you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     Peter Dunne <peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz>
cc:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>,
 Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
 Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
 Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 12:35 AM
subject:     State Assets

Peter Dunne
MP For Ohariu

Sir,

Congratulations for ignoring the will of the people, including those in your own electorate. Bravo!

The majority of New Zealanders wanted our state assets kept in public ownership – and you have steadfastly refused to  respect those wishes.

I wonder how you will be viewed by future historians? As a politician who stood against 3.8 million New Zealanders; that you were right and everyone else was wrong?

Or as another ‘Roger Douglas’ and ‘Max Bradford’ – politicians who also went against the will of the people, and are now scorned figures in our history?

Mr Dunne, you  could have stood against the tide of privatisation – seen as sheer theft by the rest of us – and gone down in history as the man who  made a difference. You could have been a stand-out figure in our history.

But you failed. You failed us, the people. And you failed yourself.

You have participated in an act of infamy and you will have to share a measure of the responsibility for your actions.

Right about now, a fair number of people throughout the country, and in your own electorate, want you gone from Parliament. But no doubt you will resist that demand as well, just as you resisted our calls not to sell our state assets.

The next two and a half years will not be happy for you, sir. And deservedly so.

Begone from Parliament.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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To the politicians…

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
cc:     Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
 Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
 Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
 NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
subject:     Asset Sales

John Key
Prime Minister

Sir,

Congratulations. You must be feeling quite a sense of victory and accomplishment;

Victory: over 80% of the people who opposed asset sales. You have ignored the vast majority of New Zealanders who do not believe that our power companies; Solid Energy; nor Air New Zealand should be sold. These are people who understand that (a) they make good profits for the State, (b) would not help the country if they were sold, and (c) they belong to us and our children.

The last point is especially pertinent; these are state assets that belong to each and every one of us.

At best you and your Parliamentary colleagues are guardians of these assets – not the owners.

But that hasn’t stopped you from passing legislation to part-sell these SOEs. That is our property you intend to sell.

Accomplishment: you took a slim electoral victory and have converted it into some kind of warped, over-hyped,  “mandate” to sell assets that you do not own and which the people do not want sold.

Right about now, you must be feeling a sense of relief that your Party has overseen this legislation passed. But I am guessing that you may also be sensing a fair measure of unease.

Well you should. You and 60 of your fellow Parliamentarians are facing three and a half million very pissed of New Zealanders. That’s quite a feat to have gone from being one of the most popular Prime Ministers – to someone who is now reviled up and down the country.

Sir, I suggest that these partial-asset sales is a mistake – probably the greatest mistake and miscalculation of your career.  If you think that New Zealanders will come to accept what you are doing, then you are wrong.
 
It is not too late. You can still post-pone any asset sale until after the referendum. If you truly believe that New Zealanders will come to support your plans, then you will give us a chance to express ourselves through the referendum ballot paper.

If you choose to ignore public opinion, then you have lost the support of a majority of New Zealanders. People are angry now. But wait until the first SOE is sold, and that anger will manifest itself in a myriad of ways.

You will have lost respect in the eyes of the country, and any legitamacy you have as our elected leader.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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David Shearer
Leader of the Labour Party

Russel Norman & Metiria Turei
Co-leaders of the Green Party

Winston Peters
Leader of NZ First

Hone Harawira
Leader of the Mana Party

Kia Ora to you all,

I am writing to you as a New Zealand citizen – one of many – who is apalled and disgusted at the passing of legislation, making way from the part-privatisation of Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

Like 80% of other New Zealanders, I am utterly opposed to any partial sale of state assets – especially strategic state assets such as our energy companies.

As has been pointed out innumerable times, there is no sound commercial or social reason to sell-down any of these assets. As well as making sound returns for the State and us, the taxpayer, these are assets that belong to all New Zealanders – not just those who can afford 1,000 parcel-shares.

John Key and his colleagues have ignored public opinion; scorned public expressions of protest; and swept aside sound arguments against privatisation. They are resisting the will of some 70-80% of New Zealanders by proceeding with their actions.

Accordingly, I offer to you a proposal to undermine their ill-conconceived and undemocratic plans.

From a blog-post I made on this issue:

How to sabotage the asset sales…

Whilst all three parties are staunchly opposed to state asset sales, NZ First leader, Winston Peters went one step further,  promising that his Party would buy back the assets.

The Greens and Labour are luke-warm on the idea, quite rightly stating that there are simply too many variables involved in committing to a buy-back two and a half years out from the next election. There was simply no way of knowing what state National would leave the economy.

Considering National’s tragically incompetant economic mismanagement thus far, the outlook for New Zealand is not good. We can look forward to more of the usual,

  • More migration to Australia
  • More low growth
  • More high unemployment
  • More deficits
  • More skewed taxation/investment policies
  • Still more deficits
  • More cuts to state services
  • And did I mention more deficits?

By 2014, National will have frittered away most (if not all) of the proceeds from the sale of Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

In such an environment, it is difficult to sound plausible when promising to buy back multi-billion dollar corporations.

Not to be thwarted, Peters replied to a question by Rachel Smalley on Q+A, stating adamantly,

” The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back  those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less. “

Bold words.

When further questioned by Rachel Smalley, Peters offered specific  ideas how a buy-back might be funded,

” Why can’t we borrow from the super fund, for example? And pay that back over time?  And why can’t we borrow from Kiwisaver  for example, and pay that back over time…”

The answer is that governments are sovereign and can make whatever laws they deem fit. That includes buying back assets at market value; at original sale price; or simple expropriation without  compensation. (The latter would probably be unacceptable to 99% of New Zealanders and would play havoc with our economy.)

Peters is correct; funding per se is not an issue. In fact, money could be borrowed from any number of sources, including overseas lenders. The gains from all five SOEs – especially the power companies – would outweigh the cost of any borrowings.

The question is, can an incoming Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana government accomplish such a plan?

A plausible scenario would have the leadership of Labour, NZ First, the Greens, and Mana, meeting  for a high-level,  cross-party strategy conference.

At the conclusion of said conference, the Leaders emerge, with an “understanding”, of recognising each others’ differing policies,

  1. Winston Peters presents a plan to the public, promoting NZF policy to buy-back  the five SOEs. As per his  original proposals, all shares will be repurchased at original offer-price.
  2. The  Mana Party  buy-in  to NZ First’s plan and pledge their support.
  3. Labour and the Greens release the joint-Party declaration stating that  whilst they do not pledge support to NZ First/Mana’s proposal – neither do they discount it. At this point, say Labour and the Greens, all options are on the table.

That scenario creates considerable  uncertainty and anxiety  in the minds of potential share-purchasers. Whilst they know that they will be recompensed in any buy-back scheme – they are effectively stymied in on-selling the shares for gain. Because no new investor  in their right mind would want to buy  shares that (a) probably no one else will want to buy and (b) once the buy-back begins, they would lose out.

The certainty in any such grand strategy is that the asset sale would be effectively sabotaged. No individual or corporate buyer would want to become involved in this kind of uncertainty.

Of less certainty is how the public would perceive  a situation (even if Labour and the Greens remained staunchly adamant that they were not committed to any buy-back plan) of political Parties engaging in such a deliberate  scheme of de-stabilisation of a current government’s policies.

The asset sales programme would most likely fail, for sure.

* * *

These are desperate times, calling for desperate measures. Bold measures.

If all four opposition parties can create a plan that will undermine National’s asset-sales programme, then that may be the only way to preserve what rightly belongs to us all.

I, and others, encourage and support you to work together on this critical matter. Without firm leadership from the four Opposition Parties, the public have little hope of stopping National.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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And their responses…

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from:     David Shearer david.shearer@parliament.govt.nz
to:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 8:06 AM
subject:     RE: Stopping Asset Sales – A proposal
mailed-by:     parliament.govt.nz

Thank you for your email.

 I will pass it to David Shearer.

 Yours sincerely

Dinah Okeby
Office of David Shearer
labour.org.nz

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from:     Winston Peters Winston.Peters@parliament.govt.nz
to:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 9:18 AM
subject:     RE: Stopping Asset Sales – A proposal
mailed-by:     parliament.govt.nz

Good morning
 
Thank you for your email.  I will pass your message on to Mr Peters for his attention.
 
Kind regards

  Anne Moore
Executive Assistant
New Zealand First

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from:     Isabelle Lomax Isabelle.Lomax@parliament.govt.nz
to:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
date:     Sat, Jun 30, 2012 at 4:25 PM
subject:     RE: Stopping Asset Sales – A proposal
mailed-by:     parliament.govt.nz

Kia ora Frank,

 Thank you for your email to Russel and Metiria. They have asked me to reply on their behalves. We appreciate you taking the time to send your idea through to us. You have obviously put a great deal of thought into this and seem to have a very thorough understanding of the issues involved. It’s an interesting idea. I have forwarded it to our advisors on the asset sales issue, and we will have a think about it!

 Thanks again for taking the time to write, and for your passion about this important issue.

 Nāku noa, nā
Isabelle

Isabelle Lomax
Executive Assistant
Office of Dr Russel Norman MP
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
14.14 Bowen House
T (04) 817 6712

Authorised by Russel Norman, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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Related Blogposts

Is John Key showing desperation on asset sales?

How to sabotage the asset sales…

Campaign: Flood the Beehive!

Other Blogs

Aotearoa – a wider perspective: Asset sales and Nationalisation, Argentina leads the way!

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= fs =

National prescribes bad medicine for the poor

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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National’s tax cuts are coming back to bite us firmly on our collective arses.

In April 2009 and October 2010,  National cut income tax and raised gst from 12.5% to 15%.  Key and English insisted that the tax cuts/gst rise were “fiscally neutral”.

Like so many of National’s statements, that “fiscal neutrality” turned out to be a fiction,

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6-$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ – paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today. “

See:   Govt’s 2010 tax cuts ‘costing $2 billion and counting’

As taxation revenue dropped,  National’s deficit has risen alarmingly,

The government took in $1.57 billion less tax than expected in the first nine months of the fiscal year, reflecting a tepid economy, Treasury figures show – reflecting what the Finance Minister says has been a ‘difficult year’.

The Crown took in $39.8 billion in tax in the nine months ended March 31, against a forecast in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update estimate of $41.3 billion, according to the government’s financial statements. “

See:  Govt tax take down by $1.57 billion

Massive borrowings over the last three years has not staunched the bleeding of government revenue. Soon after the April 2009 taxcuts, government revenue had begun to drop,

The Crown accounts for the year to June, released yesterday, showed an all-up deficit of $10.5 billion, compared with a surplus of $2.4 billion the previous year.

The state’s core operations – such as health, education and defence – recorded a deficit of $4.5 billion as tax revenues fell while spending grew. “

See:  $250 million: What our Govt borrows a week

After the October 2010 tax cuts, that borrowing had risen, and by mid-2011 stood at around $380 million a week,

”  The Government is borrowing $380 million a week and next week’s budget will carry a record deficit of about $16 billion, Parliament was told today.

Finance Minister Bill English said the Government’s financial position had deteriorated “significantly” since late 2008.

“The pre-election update in 2008 forecast that the deficit for this year would be $2.4 billion,” he said.

“It’s much more likely to be around $15b or $16b.”

That level of deficit, as NZPA has previously reported, will be the highest in New Zealand’s history and Mr English confirmed that today.  “

See:  Govt borrowing $380m a week

See:  Government debt rises to $71.6 billion

History lesson over.

Test: what can we deduce from tax-cuts – especially made during a recession?

  1. Government revenue will fall.
  2. Government will have to borrow to make up the short-fall.
  3. Goverment will have to either increase taxes or cut services and/or increase User Pays charges for the public.
  4. All of the above.
  5. We don’t have to do anything, because National is a fabulous fiscal manager;  John Key waves his hands; and money magically falls from the sky.

If you, the reader picked anything except Option 4 – feel free to re-read the above and go do some further research on Basic Economics 101.

If you picked Option 5, then you are a  hopelessly committed National supporter.  Seek professional help – stat.

The fact of the matter is that none of the tax-cuts were ever affordable.

Common sense will tell even the most die-hard National groupie that if you reduce revenue, then one  has to cut expenditure and services; borrow to make up the shortfall; raise  user-charges; or all three. There ain’t no other way.

National has borrowed billions – that much is crystal clear from media reporting using  Treasury data.

What the New Zealand public also need to understand is that National will also be cutting expenditure and services and raising user-charges.

National has begun a programme of increasing user-pays charge for,

  • Prescription Charges

Prescription charges will increase from $3 an item to $5 an item in next week’s Budget, as the Government moves to offset the cost of extra health spending in the “zero Budget”.

The new charge will cover up to a maximum of 20 items from January 1 next year, raising $20m in the first year and $40m after that. “

See:  Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

  • Raising the compulsory student loan repayment rate and cutting student allowances,

Up to 5000 students will be affected by the National-led Government’s cut to student allowances, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce revealed this afternoon.  The Government announced a raft of changes to student loan and allowance schemes last week, including a stop to allowances after 200 weeks. “

See: Allowance cuts to affect up to 5000 students

”  The changes would see more than 500,000 people forced to pay back their student loans more quickly and people studying for more than four years would no longer be able to claim an allowance…

… The repayment rate for loans will be increased to 12 per cent from 10 per cent for any earnings over $19,084.

See:  Outrage at student loan changes

  • Government has cut back on the state sector, sacking 2,500 employees, including  60 frontline bio-security border staff.

The cost to our economy, should the Queensland fruit fly take hold, would be in the hundreds of millions. And if foot and mouth ever took hold, the cost to our economy could be in the order of  $10 billion over a two year period!  National is gambling with our economy, simply for the sake of a few million dollars.

Pests such as the Varroa mite and the Psa virus have already taken hold in our environment. The latter, the Psa virus, could impact on our $1.5 billion kiwifruit export industry.

See:  Kiwifruit disease Psa explained

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

See:  Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

  • Teachers numbers “capped” and class numbers increased.

The ratio of teachers to students in New Zealand schools is set to be changed, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.

For year one the ration will remain at one teacher for every 15 pupils while the ratio for those preparing for NCEA exams in years 11-13 will be standardised to one teacher for every 17.3 pupils…

…  The Government is also putting a cap on the number of teachers by keeping it at the present level.

Parata says the Government is not reducing teacher numbers, but claims $43 million can be saved by not hiring any extra teachers. “

See:  Teachers ‘pushed out the door’ in Budget shake up – Greens

The implications of this cost-cutting exercise are mind boggling. Not only will be see class sizes increase, but there is the strong possibility that students with special needs will miss out. Larger class sizes will put extra pressure on teachers and students; make one-on-one teaching harder; and will possibly force many teaching staff to quit or move to Australia.

At a time when our society desperately needs more educated and trained young people, this is a counter-productive step that beggars belief.  Only a bean-counter (unmarried, no children of his/her own) could devise such a crazy proposal.

Ian Leckie, the New Zealand Educational Institute national president, said,

Essentially every child gets less attention, and if we’re ever going to be concerned about what happens for our children, we want them to get the best of service, put more children in the class, it makes it harder for the teacher, harder for children to succeed.”

New Zealand’s youth unemployment currently stands at 83,000 – up from  58,000 last year. How many believe that National’s plan will improve on that dire situation?

See previous blogpost:  Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

How many believe that is not a desperate cost-cutting exercise?

And how many suspect that the “cap” will quickly become staffing cuts – as happened with state sector workers?

  • Government closes down Gateway Scheme – where those on low incomes were assisted to buy there own homes,

Prime Minister John Key says a scheme to provide up to 100 affordable homes at Auckland to people on low incomes is not needed because low interest rates mean there is greater capacity for people to buy their own homes.

Mr Key has been explaining the Government decision to scrap its Gateway scheme to help those on lower incomes buy homes in its flagship Hobsonville Point development, in Auckland.

It would have provided affordable homes in a flagship Auckland housing development but has been wound up with just 17 houses built. “

See:    Low interest cuts need for cheaper houses – Key

See:    Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

There will be other cuts to social services and/or rises in User Pays charges.

The net effect is that those who received tax cuts under $40,000 will find that the cuts have been swallowed up. Low and middle income earners may find that they are now not only no better off – but are having to put up with higher government charges and  less services.

Those on $100,000+ p.a.  have done very well.

Those earning $70-$80,000+ p.a. may escape  relatively unscathed.

Low income earners, on minimum wage ($13.50 p/h) or just above,  facing higher prescription charges,  will effectively  be paying for tax cuts for the high-income earners, wealthy, and asset-rich.

If the tax cuts were designed to reduce government expenditure; increase user-pays; and raise incomes for the top 10% – then National has achieved it’s goal.

National is continuing it’s 1990s agenda, albeit more slowly, and stealthily.

I wonder – is this what 1,058,638 New Zealanders voted for, when they cast their ballot for National. More user pays?

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Information

Tax Cuts April 2009

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  tax cuts april 2009

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Tax Cuts October 2010

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking tax cuts 2010

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By contrast,

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the $5 cost would be applied to the first 20 items of medicine per family each year, so no family would pay more than $100 a year for their prescription costs.

The current maximum for prescription costs was $60 a year. “

See:  Meds price hike: ‘Children will die’

The last word goes to Mana MP, Hone Harawira,

”  Doctors are saying right now that children’s health is being threatened by the price of medicine now. You have to assume that if Government raises that price then children will die as a result of that measure.

I don’t believe that any Government could be so callous.

Absolutely I think that these measures, although it is going to be difficult to prove, will lead to children dying, through the inability of their parents to afford the charges for medicine that are being proposed by this National/Maori Party Government.

Every price rise impacts poor people in a far greater way than it does people on the kinds of levels of income that him and his mates are on. So yes it is going to hurt every poor person in this country – Maori, Pacific and Pakeha”.

See: Ibid

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Additional

Government delivers April 1 2009 tax cuts, SME changes

Budget 2010: What the tax cuts mean for you

Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

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11 May: End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails

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– End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails –

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New Semi-Regular Weekly Event

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Tim Groser (National)

For having the courage and insight to suggest that making Te Reo compulsory in our Primary Schools would be a good idea. On TV3’s ‘The Nation, on 28 April, Mr Groser said,

My personal view is that we should be teaching Maori to every five-year-old child. If you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of bi-culturalism and more than one language then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit.”

It’s not often that a politician from an opposing Party stands out – but when they do, they certainly make an impact. One may not agree with all his views – especially on free trade – but a politician who has depth in his or her views, and is not captured by an ideology, deserves respect.

Hone Harawira (Mana)

For having the guts to do what very few politicians have done before; stand up for the working man and woman;  condemn an oppressive employer; and encourage New Zealanders to make a stand and boycott Talleys.

Jim Anderton did it in the 1980s and 1990s, and now Mr Harawira is doing likewise,

It was a nasty and spiteful decision to try to force workers to cave in to company demands or get their emergency benefits cut. The locked out workers have been forced to band together to survive and to keep the working conditions they’ve won through years of negotiation.

Talley’s aren’t the only brands in the shelf” said Harawira “and all we want people to do is choose something other than Talley’s for now.”

No doubt he’ll be attacked, derided, and vilified by every right wing nutjob in the country – but Mr Harawira will also have earned the respect of New Zealand workers.

Tariana Turia (Maori Party)

For carrying on her campaign against the pernicious industry that kills 5,000 New Zealanders  every year; the tobacco corporations. If a disease was rampaging through the country, killing 5,000 people every year – there would be a State of Emergency; the military would be called out to guard checkpoints; and the whole country would be on lock-down.

But because it’s tobacco, it is somehow acceptable. Crazy!

Ms Turia deserves to be re-elected into Parliament. Like Hone Harawira, she is standing up for those folk who would otherwise be crushed by corporate power whose only interest is making big profits.

In fact, I go one step further; at the next election; after a change of  government; I encourage David Shearer to allow Ms Turia to carry on her campaign and to re-appoint her as Associate Minister for Health. Some issues are just too damned important to be determined along Party lines. (There is precedent; the incoming National Government in 1990 kept Labour MP, Mike Moore, as part of New Zealand’s GATT  negotiations team. His value to the country was so highly regarded that Party affiliation was secondary to maintaining his role.)

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John Banks (ACT)

For, um… er… I can’t remember. Sorry… no, I don’t recall.

John Key (Dear Leader)

So many to choose from…

But two that stand out this week,

#1: Having the utter gall to deride the Australia  by suggesting that they have  “an inherent weakness” in their economy, and then adding,

It’s very much a two-speed economy in Australia. The mining sector is very strong and obviously Western Australia and Queensland are big beneficiaries of that.”

Say whut?!

Australia also has a strong compulsory system of compulsory superannuation, and our Aussie cuzzies have saved in excess of A$1.31 trillion so far, for their retirement. That money is  able to be re-invested in their local economy.

By comparison, here in New Zealand, we voted in 1975 to elect a government (led by Robert Muldoon) who campaigned on scrapping our version of a compulsory super fund. New Zealanders are notoriously poor savers, which means that as a nation, we rely heavily on borrowing from overseas lenders.

By scrapping our own super-scheme 37 years ago, we shot ourselves in our own feet.

So do us a favour, Dear Leader, and don’t go saying that the Australian economy has “an inherent weakness”. The only “weakness” I see is a poor leadership in this country that promises all manner of things to voters simply to get elected.

Case in point;

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 29 January 2008

That was over four years ago. But this blogger notices that Dear Leader still  continues to make precisely the same promises,

I think it is a long-term and sustainable attribute for their economy but it doesn’t mean that we can’t close the gap with Australia.”- John Key, 9 May 2012

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Still…

Oh, and don’t forget those 170,000 new  jobs you promised us last year as well, Mr Key!

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Still…

#2: Asking  children at  Holy Family School in Porirua East if they wanted to be the Prime Minister, and when they all replied with enthusiasm, he retorted,

Frankly, the way it’s going at the moment you can have the job“.

Ok, Mr Key, your “honeymoon” with the media and public is over – we get that.

You’re having a rough time with scandals, unpopular policies, and your policies are not working to create jobs and a growing economy – we get that to.

And you have our sympathy for having to put up with John Banks – we so get that!

But venting your frustrations at a bunch of bright-eyed, eager children is simply not on. In fact, it stinks that  you shot them down with a cheap retort when they were expressing a real enthusiasm for your role as leader of this country.

If the job is getting to you – move on. One thing you never, ever do, is to dump on kids just because you’re having a bad day week month year so far. Bad form, Mr Prime Minister.

Mark Mitchell (National)

Perhaps the most gormless comment this week came from National MP, Mark Mitchell,  on TVNZ7’s “Backbenches” on 10 May, when he adamantly explained that National was not selling state assets. To everyone’s jaw-dropping amazement, Mitchell said (in part),

“… It got labelled [as] asset sales. We’re not selling the assets, what we’re doing is freeing up some of the shares in those assets for Kiwis to invest in. It’s as simple as that…

We’re keeping the assets but we’re freeing up some shares for Kiwi investors to invest in. We’re keeping the assets. This is the thing that actually a lot of people didn’t understand.”

?!?!

What!?

So the people of New Zealand still own Telecom, BNZ, Post Bank, etc, because we we just freed up some shares? Is that how capitalism works – you sell half the shares in a company, but we still own the entire company?

Dayum. Even Karl Marx never thought of that one!

Thank you, Mr Mitchell. Thank you for being a National MP – and not one from the Left.

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And for the final category, the Epic Fail of the Week,

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Colin Craig

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Colin Craig

This week’s Epic Fail has to go to Conservative Party leader, Colin Craig, who managed to alienate 51% of the population in one sentence, consisting of thirteen words,

We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world.

An Epic Fail of stunning proportions!

Way to go, Colin. You can, of course, expect that statement to come back and haunt you in years to come.

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= fs =

February 15 – Protest at TPK! (Part Rua)

16 February 2012 2 comments

Continued from February 15 – Protest at TPK! (Part Tahi).

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Long time socialist and Alliance stalwart, Larry Hannah, made a firm point about the folly of selling public assets,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The media finally arrived and started filming,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Occupy Wellington unfurled their banner,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

About two dozen protestors crowded around the front of TPK’s entrance,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Below; Roimata (L) and Joyce (R) had joined the protest for their own reasons,

“I’m just concerned for my mokopuna”, said Roimata.

“I’m here for the important issues that affect maoridom,” added Joyce.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Benjamin, at the doors to TPK,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Dr Peter Love, from the Tenths Trust, and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, made his way to TPK,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

By 3pm, there were about 26 protesters and three police. By 3.05, two more Police arrived,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The newly arrived policeman had a quiet chat with Benjamin, for a few minutes,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Ian, from the Workers Party, addressed passers-by, and on-lookers. He started out by explaining that “we are here today, against asset sales.” He added, “we want to see these assets run for public benefit, not private profit.”

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The media filmed Ian on the loudhailer, as he continued to make his case against asset sales, and honouring Treaty committments,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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John then took the loudhailer,   and said,

This is not consultation, this is bullshit. We cannot afford to give away our country to foreign corporations! Instead of sitting on our arses, let’s show [them] this country is not for sale!”

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Across the intersection, two more police officers were watching events,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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They seemed bemused by the protest – unlike their colleagues who were moving freely amongst the protestors, and chatting amicably.

By 3.13pm, the number of Maori Wardens increased to eight; police numbers went up to five; and at least one Diplomatic Protection Squad plainclothesman was present,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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The body language of the police (above) seemed in  stark contrast to the laid back, quiet nature of the protesters,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Warwick gave his views on state asset sales – none complimentary to the government,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

TPK Regional Leader, Te Huia (Bill) Hamilton, stopped for a friendly Kiaora and  brief chat with this blogger, before proceeding on his way,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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At 3.30, Hone Harawira arrived, and was well-recieved by people present,

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https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/rise-of-the-terminator-keybot/

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A chat with a journo,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Hone was given the loudspeaker and he gave a brief address to the crowd,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Hone spoke well, addressing the issue of state asset sales, and the relevance of the Treaty.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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Hone’s speech*,

Tena koe! Talofa lava!

That’s exactly what they expect to happen with these shares, and it is our duty; it is our obligation as citizens of Aotearoa, whether we are Maori or whatever, to do our best to stop this government from pushing this door open.  Because once open, these assets will be sold on the open market and our shareholdings, so-called 51%, is simply going to be a majority shareholding in a company whose primary interest is generating profit.

Nothing at all to do with the public good, only the generating of profit.  And any investor – doesn’t matter what sort of investor they are – they don’t put money into these sort of exercises because they love you and I. They put money in because they expect to get a lot of money back. And they get they money back in two ways; cutting costs, as they sack staff – or what are we doing outside Te Puni Kokiri?

The other way they do it is by raising prices! Now who’s going to pay for those higher prices in electricity? Ordinary New Zealand citizens! And who’s going to bear  the most price? The poor ones! Poor pakeha, poor pacifica, poor everybody else, poor maori. So we have an obligation to ensure that those assets are retained in the hands of the New Zealand government as trustee on behalf of the nation as a whole.

I’d like to thank the Courts for their decision today, to say to the government to put a stop to the sal of the Crafar farms. Not necessarily because they were being sold to the Chinese, but because they are New Zealand land being sold out of the hands of New Zealand citizens.

The more and more people we can bring to support this kaupapa, the greater will be our own sense of our sovereignty  and our ability to change the world. Life is not about sitting around and letting other people do to us what we wouldn’t allow to be done to anybody else. We have an obligation to our children, and our grandchildren,  to take up this stand today, here in Wellington  and thanks to [traffic noise] all of us, all around the country who’ve attended the Hui so far, and from what I understand an 88% rejection of the government’s plans to sell of these state assets.

Well, if there’s 88%, there must be a pretty low percentage in some of the other Huis because the three  Huis I attended was  a hundred percent opposition! One hundred percent!

Maori see the Treaty as a way of stopping these assets being sold on the open market until their Treaty claims are properly settled. New Zealanders should support Maori in these efforts because the Treaty exists  in this particular instance to benefit all New Zealanders…

… Tena koutou, tena koutou.”

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At about 3.40, Hone entered Te Puni Kokiri’s building and Seann advised the group that all  protesters were invited to accompany him. It was agreed that all banners, placards, and loud-hailers would be left at the doorway-entrance. People were asked to behave in a respectful manner.

Maori wardens would watch over their gear, while they attended the Hui.

Mana Party member and protest organisor, Seann had said earlier  that a more radical approach to attending the Hui would be to ask polite, but firm,  questions of the politician present – and insist on straight answers. He believed it would be more productive using this approach, than yelling at English and Ryall.

One of the police constables who had stood by TPK’s door said later to this blogger that he was satisfied with the way the protestors had conducted themselves. He said, “everyone has the right to protest peacefully, and I wouldn’t want to see us become like other countries where protest was forbidden“.

His relaxed demeanour indicated that he was sincere in his views.

All in all, this was a peaceful and relaxed (not a “John Key relaxed”) protest.

Note: this Blogger did not attend the Hui because of another prior engagement. Additional commentary from attendees will be welcomed.

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***

Media reporting

  • TV1 News: nil
  • TV3 News: nil
  • Radio NZ: nil
  • Dominion Post: nil


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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

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February 15 – Protest at TPK! (Part Tahi)

16 February 2012 3 comments

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At around 2pm, 15 February, members of the Mana Party, Labour, Alliance, Occupy Movement, and other groupings and individuals assembled outside Te Puni Kokiri, on the corner of Lambton Quay and Stout Street.

The protest was organised primarily by the Newtown Branch of the Mana Party, to coincide with a hui at the TPK offices.

The Hui was one of a series throughout the country called by the government;   facilitated by Wiri Gardner; and attended by  Ministers Bill English and Tony Ryall. English and Ryall  were expected to attend to listen to peoples’ concerns about Treaty implications regarding state asset (partial-)sales, and Section 9 of the SOE Act 1986.

John Key has suggested that Section 9 – which states simply, “Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the  – might be deleted from the SOE Act 1986. Many view such a move as a retrograde step, setting Crown-Maori relations back by decades.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Above; Darren Kemp (L) from the Mana Party; Cedric, (center) and  Jonathan Elliot (R). Darren and Jonathan were the first to arrive and take up placards opposing the sale of state assets.

Below, John (L) and Warwick (R), arived soon after. Warwick is a long-time supporter of the Alliance Party,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Jonathan (L) and Ian (center) from the Workers Party, handing out leaflets to passers-by,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

More people soon arrived to join the protest,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Donna was one who joined the protest. She said that “only a couple of people had been rude” to her as she handed out leaflets.  Donna was more concerned at “the apathy I find distressing. At least they should care for their children‘s future“,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Seann (holding sign), said that there should be more focus on Peter Dunne’s role in asset sales. He said that whilst it “might be a long shot“, Dunne was vulnerable because of his slim majority in Ohariu,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Ariana, from the Newtown Branch of Mana Party. Ariana said that Hone Harawira would be arriving at the Hui and would present a submission on Treaty issues surrounding state asset sales.

Ariana said that asset sales “makes this country  vulnerable to overseas corporatisation” and added that “selling our children’s assets was shameful “,

She questioned the  outcome of the Hui, “what will they do with the final consultation report?” Ariana did not seem confident that much notice would be taken of peoples’ concerns.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

More people arrived, and took up placards – including some other familiar faces from the Alliance,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Seann, Donna (center), and Freda,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Buses and cars honked their support every few minutes. We noticed bus drivers especially seemed very supportive of the protest, judging by their horn-honking as they went past,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The protest group was low-key, which perhaps explained only two police office and six Maori Wardens stationed nearby. Protestors, Wardens, TPK staff, and Police mingled and chatted amicably.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The signs said it all, and elicited support from drivers in their cars, and their drove past. Even if pedestrians did not stop and take a leaflet, I suspect that the protestor’s message of higher power prices would not be lost on them.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Bronwyn, a Labour Party member, chatting with Cedric (from TPK?),

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Mike, from the Alliance Party,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Bronwyn, with a very pertinent message to the government: does a one seat majority give them a mandate to pursue unpopular policies? Especially if this government is only one by-election away from faling.

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Darren (L), Mike, and Len Arthur (R).

Len was visiting family, from  Cardiff, Wales. He is a supporter of Occupy Cardiff; a member of the UK Labour Party; and decided to join the protest after hearing about it from Socialist Aotearoa,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

The message is simple and to the point; No asset sales and  privatisation will inevitably lead to higher power prices,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Benjamin, who describes himself as a “political busker”, held the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

Warwick, Larry (background), ?, and Darren,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi.

During the first 30 to 45 minutes,  the laid-back situation still required the presence of only two constables. A couple of Occupy Wellington supporters had arrived, to join the protest,

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fmacskasy - te Puni Kokiri protest - Mana Party - Section 9 SOE Act - Treaty of Waitangi

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As the protest rally got larger, the msm arrived – as did more Police.   Word also got around that Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira would be arriving shortly…

To be continued Part Rua (so as not to overload this page with too many images).

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Dominion Post – asking the wrong questions?

10 February 2012 5 comments

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Today’s Dominion Post has highlighted Hone Harawira’s travel costs, incurred from 1 October 2011 to 31 December 2011,

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Full Story

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The article state,

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira topped the list at $54,961, followed by Labour leader Phil Goff with $32,566.” – Ibid

Blah, blah… blah, blah, bah… … … … …blah.

The article then repeats Harawira’s travel expenditure, for good measure – just in case we missed the statement at the beginning, plus the photo with the comment,

TOP DOLLAR: Mana Party leader Hone Harawira topped the list of MP travel expenses during election time.

Obviously, this article is a thinly-disguised attack on Hone.  It’s called  “having a go at someone” since Harawira is an easy target for lazy journos, right wingers, and racists.

Otherwise, Ms Vance has missed the real story relating to the release of  MP’s travel costs, to whit,

Hone Harawira’s travel costs,

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John Key’s travel costs,

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Source: Members’ expense disclosure from 1 October 2011 to 31 December 2011

Hang on a mo’…

$1,710 spent by John Key on all domestic and air travel?!?!

How does that work???

Especially when National MP, Nikki Kaye (immediatly above Key) spent $14,569 and National MP, Colin King (immediatly below Key) spent $20,037?!?!

After all, Key was all over the country in the run-up to the election – especially his little “day excursion” to Epsom, to have a cuppa tea,

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Full Story

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Who paid for Key to travel to Epsom?

And shouldn’t that question be a matter of interest to journalists?  Or is it much easier to simply pluck the highest figure from the list, and repeat it without any context or analysis at all?

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As an aside, Hone Harawira is MP for the Te Tai Tokerau electorate – one of the biggest electorates in the country.

Also, Te Tai Tokorau takes in the general  general electorates of  East Coast Bays, Helensville, North Shore, Northcote, Northland, Rodney, Te Atatū, Whangarei,  part of Waitakere and some  islands located within the Auckland Central electorate.

Harawira is therefore covering an area which, in the General Electorates, is covered by ten MPs.

 

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It would be remarkable if Harawira didn’t incur a larger-than-normal travel bill. His electorate is larger-than-normal.

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National and ? – some thoughts

8 November 2011 3 comments

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I’ve been thinking…

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National

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That National is higher in the opinion polls than Labour is undeniable.  Even the Horizon Poll – which has supposedly more accurate methodology than the other polling companies – has National at 36.8% and Labour at 25.7%. (Source)

Other polls have National at an unfeasibly high 56% – unheard of in an MMP environment, where up till now the highest Party Vote was National’s 44.9% in 2008.

If National is anywhere near 50%-51% of the Party Vote – enabling it to barely form a government – then it will have made history in MMP elections.

Assuming that National’s vote on 26 November will be somewhere in the high 40s – it will not have sufficient seats in the House to govern alone. It will need a coalition partner.

Which is where things start to get interesting…

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ACT?

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It is apparent to all but the but die-hard fan of ACT that Don Brash’s coup d’état in April  has not achieved a single desired outcome for that Party. Brash’s toppling of Rogney Hide was done on the premise that Brash would re-focus ACT on economic matters and change it’s “brand” from a “chapter” of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, to it’s more traditional role of a neo-liberal party, espousing free market ‘reforms’; user-pays; asset sales; minimalist government; and the Cult of the Individual.

Brash has achieved none of those policy-goals.

ACT is polling well under the 5% MMP threshold (5%). It’s 1% – 3% poll rating rating is not sufficient to win seats in Parliament. It must therefore rely on winning an Electorate Seat, at which point the 5% threshold is set aside.

John Banks’ candidacy in Epsom has also seemingly failed to ‘fire’. Banks is trailing well behind the National Party’s candidate, Paul Goldsmith. Banks’ position is not helped by John Key stating publicly,

I’m going to vote for Goldsmith. I am the National Party leader and I am going to vote for the National Party candidate and give my party vote to National.” – John Key

Which makes a mockery of the unspoken “arrangement” between National and ACT, and seems to be an insult to Epsom voters that whilst they are expected to give their vote to John Banks – the Prime Minister refuses to lead by example. Charming.

If, as seems likely, John Banks does not win in Epsom then, like Winston Peters losing Tauranga, ACT is out of Parliament.

Strike 1 for National.

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Peter Dunne?

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Since the height of United Future’s popularity in  2002,  their electoral support has declined to margin-of-error polling,

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Source

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United Future, as a political entity, is all but dead except in name. Peter Dunne is essentially now a one-person band – and even in his electorate of Ohariu-Belmont,   is experiencing waning support with each election,

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Peter Dunne, Electorate Votes 1996 – 2008

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199615,915

1999 – 20,240

2002 – 19,355

2005 – 16,844

2008 – 12,303

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In 2008, Dunne’s electorate majority over his nearest opponant, Charles Chauvel (L), was a bare 1,006 votes. At the rate that Dunne has been losing electoral  support, and if even half the Green electorate vote shifts to Chauvel, then Peter Dunne will lose his seat in Parliament.

Strike 2 for National.

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Maori Party?

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National’s only remaining life-line; the Maori Party. Polls indicate that Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, will most likely win his seat, Tamaki Makaurau. Whether he is join by other successful candidates from the Maori Party is anyone’s guess, and with their low overall ranking in the polls, the Maori Party is unlikely to approach the 5% threshold, much less cross over it.

In 2008, the Maori Party won five out of the seven Maori Seats.  With the advent of the Mana Party, formed by  breakaway MP Hone Harawira, and supported by many disaffected Maori Party members/activists, these seats are now contested in a three-way battle; Mana, Maori, and Labour.

As an indicator, Hone Harawira won his seat Te Tai Tokerau in a by-election, earlier this year,

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Source

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If  the Maori Party beat Mana’s challenge and  win sufficient seats; and if  they enter into coalition with National, then John Key is faced with the real prospect of having no counter-balancing Party on the Right. Unlike the 2008 election result which gave him ACT and Peter Dunne on the right, National will be governing at the “pleasure” of just one coalition partner.

Considering that the Maori Party has stated it’s opposition to asset sales (albeit lukewarm opposition), the partial-privatisation agenda may not go ahead as John Key and Bill English anticipated. (*whew!* The ‘family silver’ is saved till another day!)

John Key recently stated,

I think it is important to understand if the Greens hold the balance of power it would be a Phil Goff Labour-led government and I think they would be quite upfront about that.”  Source

The same could be said of the Maori Party. National’s re-election prospects now depend solely on the success of their Coalition partner.

National’s strike 3?  We will have to wait till 26 November for the final result.

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From our “Boggles the Mind” Files…

20 September 2011 17 comments

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Q: When is a lie fair?

A: When the Broadcasting Standards Authority sez so.

Case in point,

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A One News item that claimed MP Hone Harawira spent more on parliamentary travel than the entire Maori Party has been ruled inaccurate but fair.

The story aired on April 28 stated that the MP had “racked up a $35,000 travel bill that’s almost $4000 more than the Maori Party’s total bill”.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority found that the figure compared Parliamentary Service expenditure only, and failed to mention that Maori Party MPs also received funds from Ministerial Services.

Maori Party MPs Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia also spent $20,782 on domestic air travel from ministerial budgets, in addition to $31,658 spent the four Maori Party MPs on their parliamentary budget.

Quoting one figure and not mentioning the other was deemed misleading by the BSA.

“As the presenter stated that Mr Harawira’s travel expenses were more than the Maori Party’s ‘total’ travel bill, we consider that viewers would have been left with the impression that the figures reported constituted total travel expenditure for the period specified, and not just expenditure administered by one agency.”

The complainant Henry Clayton of Wellington also considered the item unfair to Harawira because it was misleading, but the Authority decided politicians should expect to face closer media scrutiny than other people.

“Although we have found that the presenter’s comment was misleading, we consider that, given Mr Harawira’s high profile status as an often controversial politician, he should expect to face robust criticism, especially with regard to the expenditure of public money,” said the decision.

The Authority said the news presenter’s comments related to Harawira in his professional capacity as an elected representative, and did not stray into “abusively personal territory” which is deemed unfair, even for political figures.

Source

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The background article which sparked the complaint to the BSA,

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“[1]  An item on One News, broadcast at 6pm on Thursday 28 April 2011, reported on MP Hone Harawira’s travel expenses. The presenter stated:

Figures out today show Hone Harawira racked up a $35,000 travel bill in just the first three months of the year – more than $20,000 went on air travel, $14,000 on rental cars and taxis – and that’s almost $4000 more than the Māori Party’s total travel bill. A spokesperson says Mr Harawira travelled to Hui across the country at the time due to concerns about the Māori Party’s relationship with the National Government.” Source

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Full Story

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So let me get this right… a story that is so inaccurate as to be worthless in terms of accuracy is still “fair” – according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority-  “given Mr Harawira’s high profile status as an often controversial politician, he should expect to face robust criticism, especially with regard to the expenditure of public money “?!?!

Say what?

Have I fallen down the rabbit hole to Wonderland?

If  the media has reported the BSA’s decision accurately and fairly, then this decision is astrounding and unbelievable on several levels.

Firstly. I think it not unreasonable that the public expect their media to be accurate when presenting information to us. It’s not a big thing to expect accuracy – it is what informative News and Current Affairs shows should be predicated on.

If standards of accuracy no longer apply, or are not a matter of high priority, then the credibility of News reporting has been undermined to the point where it is worthless.

Secondly. So what if Hone Harwira is a “controversial”, “high profile”, politician?  Since when should that matter one iota when we are presented with information from the media?

If anything, it behoves the News media to be even more scrupulous in presenting factual, unbiased, and complete information to the viewer/listener/reader. We, the public may well decide whop to vote for in upcoming electuions based on what the media presents to us.

There is also a matter of basic fairness and justice involved here. I don’t care if it’s Hone Harawira, Don Brash, Phil Goff, John Key, or Uncle Tom Cobbly – I think everyone deserves the basic decency of being treated fairly by the media, irrespective of being controversial or not.

Thirdly. For the BSA to arrive at a decision that it is acceptable for a news item to be “misleading” because ” the Authority decided politicians should expect to face closer media scrutiny than other people” defies understanding. Of course politicians an rightly expect “closer media scrutiny”.

But it is not beyond the realms of rationality that the public expect the media to be fair and accurate in the way that they present their information to is, the public.

For the BSA not to comprehend this most basic idea is truly disturbing. Especially so when, just recently, the BSA decided to fine a complainant $50 for a supposedly “frivolous complaint”. Full story. This despite the fact that the complainant was factually correct in his complaint.

What is also as bizarre is the Authority’s determining statement,

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd of an item on One News on 28 April 2011 breached Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[25]  Having upheld the complaint, we may make orders under sections 13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. We do not intend to do so on this occasion. In our view, the publication of this decision is sufficient to remedy the breach, and serves to remind broadcasters to take care when making comparisons of this nature.” Source

So, to clarify; the BSA accepts that the TVNZ broadcast breached standards of fairness and accuracy.

But then, they go on to state that “in our view, the publication of this decision is sufficient to remedy the breach“. A “sufficient remedy”?!

In effect, the BSA is agreeing that TVNZ brokes the rules and that the mere publication of the BSA’s decision on their website is a sufficient “remedy”.

That would be like a burglar being found guilty by a Court of Law of breaking into my home and nicking my property – but the mere fact that the Court found the burglar guilty and reported the fact is suffient “remedy”. The burglar is free to go – just don’t do it again, sez the judge.

I am fast losing all respect and confidence in the BSA and it’s increasingly bizarre decisions.

If someone makes a mistake, it behoves them to  correct it. In the case of the media, they have  wide-ranging,  considerable,  influence on the public. These influences can affect the way we perceive the world around us; social issues; our political institutions and representatives.  As such, errors that can impact on public perceptions, must be rectified.

It is worth noting that the TVNZ website reports do not contain any reference to the BSA ruling on this issue; nor any attempt to correct the mis-information contained within the reports.

Harawira tops MPs’ expenses list

The lie is therefore perpetuated.

The media have a responsibility in this matter that they must not be allowed to shirk, no matter how “minor” it may be seen by decision-makers, nor how inconvenient it might be to management and producers.  And which the BSA must take more seriously than they seem to be doing.

Otherwise the role of the BSA must be called into question.

A media report that is “inaccurate but fair” is most certainly not “fair”. Not by any reasonable definition.

I note that the Chair of the BSA is Peter Radich. May I pose a question on my blog;  is it possible that Mr Radich has a penchant for wearing women’s underwear – would that be “misleading but fair” reporting on my part?

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Text of Complaint to BSA:

Clayton and Television New Zealand Ltd – 2011-077

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