Posts Tagged ‘Jane Kelsey’

National MP Mark Mitchell and his breath-taking display of arrogance

18 April 2016 5 comments





In a recent Radio NZ “Morning Report”  interview, National MP, Mark Mitchell, revealed the government’s true objective with the so-called “TPPA Roadshow” and Parliamentary Select Committee hearings. Behaviour by other Select Committee members has also drawn harsh criticism by some members of the public who attended the sessions.

The Roadshow and Select Committee hearings are being held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) and  Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee (respectively)  to seek public submissions on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, aka, the TPPA;

More than 330 people have asked to give their views on the controversial trade treaty to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Committee in person.

The committee will hold hearings in Christchurch on 31 March and 1 April, and in Auckland the following week, before returning to Wellington, where it has already heard some submissions.

Committee chair Mark Mitchell said there would be more than enough time for the hearings.

“I’ve made sure that we allow plenty of time, so that’s going to allow us enough time to be able to hear everyone that wants to make an oral submission to the committee.”

Mitchell,  the Chairperson  of the Select Committee, was defending the shortened reporting time of the Select Committee back to Parliament. As Mei Heron reported for Radio NZ;

MPs have been given just five days to consider hundreds of submissions on the controversial TPP trade deal after the timeframe was drastically cut from four weeks.

The select committee was originally give a month to write its report and present it back to Parliament.

Opposition MPs were furious at the sudden change and they called it an attack on democracy.

The trade deal has already been roundly criticised by its opponents for being too secretive and lacking consultation.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee had been hearing submissions on the TPP from hundreds of people across the country and that will continue until the end of the month.

But opposition members on the committee say they were told yesterday the government wanted to cut down the time they had to analyse the submissions, so the legislation could get through by the end of the year.

Predictably, Opposition members of the Select Committee expressed dismay and anger at National’s unilateral change of the Committee’s timetable, with  Green MP, Kennedy Graham, roundly condemning the move;

“It’s just a slap of indifference and dismissal of some very sincere, very capable and hard-working New Zealand people. It shows it up for what it is – which is essentially a ‘roadshow’ with a predetermined end.”

Graham’s assertion that the public submission process  “ is essentially a ‘roadshow’ with a predetermined end”, is confirmed after  a startling admission by the Committee’s chairperson, Mark Mitchell. On “Morning Report” on 8 April, Mitchell vented his obvious frustration with the New Zealand public;

@ 3.45

“I think, I think some people are very set in their views. And to be honest with you my feeling is that it doesn’t matter what evidence we provide or how we try to balance the information that could allay those fears, they’re already set in their minds. They’ve decided what position they going to take and it’s going to be very hard to probably move them of that position. But there’s other people that are just genuinely worried about it because there has been some misinformation put into the public debate. And often when they get the full story, and of course the Minister’s done a very comprehensive, um, series, at which he’s continuing to do public meetings throughout the country. I think he’s in excess of about 30 or 35 now. Is that people actually just wanted to have some proper information around the TPP.”

(alt. link)

Mitchell complained that  “it doesn’t matter what evidence we provide or how we try to balance the information that could allay those fears, they’re already set in their minds” and “they’ve decided what position they going to take and it’s going to be very hard to probably move them of that position”.

For perhaps the first time in the history of the Westminster Parliamentary process,  a member of Parliament has suggested that the Select Committee process is no longer a forum where the public offer submissions for their elected representatives to listen and consider. Instead, Mitchell’s comments indicate that Select Committees are now viewed as useful tools for  dissemination of  “proper information around the TPP” for the public and businesses.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website page appears to echo Mitchell’s views on the purpose  of MFAT’s travelling “Road Shows”;

The Government will run a number of events on key TPP outcomes. These will be aimed at ensuring businesses are able to prepare to take advantage of new opportunities presented by TPP’s entry into force, and to provide information of interest to the wider public and other stakeholders. These events follow the extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations.


The Government is running TPP roadshows on the outcomes of TPP for New Zealand. Members of the public are welcome. The roadshows will also help businesses prepare to take advantage of new opportunities presented by TPP’s entry into force

However, the agendas  of both the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee’s submission process and  MFAT’s  “Road Shows” is not shared with the Parliamentary Office of the Clerk;

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is now calling for public submissions on the TPPA and the four related intellectual property treaties. Each treaty has a national interest analysis which sets out the advantages and disadvantages for New Zealand of becoming a party to it.

You have until Friday 11 March 2016 to share your views about these documents with the parliamentary select committee by making a submission.

The committee will consider the written submissions it receives and they will be posted on the Parliament website when released by the committee.

The committee is also expecting to hear from submitters who wish to speak to their submission. Committee staff will contact those submitters to organise a time for them to speak to the committee. Hearings may take place outside of Wellington depending on the number of submitters from each region.

Mark Mitchell seems not to have received the emailed memo from the House Clerk.

The “Road Shows” have also drawn criticism from the way they have been carefully orchestrated. From a Radio NZ story;

Albert-Eden Local Board member Graeme Easte said the event was more of a show and tell, in which Trade Minister Todd McClay and the senior negotiator described what they were doing.

“It was very much pro the agreement,” Mr Easte said.

“Even though half the questioners were clearly sceptical or anti, there wasn’t really an opportunity for a discussion or a debate.”

A member of the public complained that the “Road Show” was being held at a time guaranteed to minimise public attendance;

One placard holder, a teacher, has slipped away from school and down the road to make that point: “Let’s consult widely with the public. How about on a Monday morning when everyone is at work? Yeah right!”

Blogger, ‘SkepticNZ’, related his experience at the Dunedin Roadshow event;


Now attending a Roadshow is not as simple as popping along.  In fact in order to attend you have to first register via the MFAT website.
The good people at MFAT no doubt in the interest of open debate and inclusion have the following requirement upon interested citizens to gain entry.

Please note:

You will need to bring photo ID (e.g. passport or drivers licence) in order to collect your name badge when you attend the roadshow. You may not be permitted entry to the roadshow unless you present photo ID.Entry to the roadshow on the day is entirely at the discretion of the event organizers. Disruptive, threatening or offensive behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being required to leave the venue.

You must comply with the instructions and directions of the event organizers. You may be required to leave the roadshow if you do not do so.

Right, have you got that? before you can enter Mr McClay’s ‘open debate, informed discussion’ you first have to agree to doing what you are told.
Being a curious and dutiful citizen I prepared my identification, completed my registration, and printed off my MFAT confirmation including individual Bar Code, and off I went to the show.
On arriving at the Venue in Harrop street, I was greeted by some very friendly people keen to hear my views about the TPPA, and happy to give me information sheets.  But enough about the protesters, onto the front door.
The front door itself was guarded by a heavy police presence supported by private security contractors from Amourguard.  A young man from Armourguard asked for my photo ID and then told me I wasn’t on the list and asked me to stand to one side while they check if I could enter.  Which under a watchful Police eye I did.  
I didn’t have long to wait before another slightly older young man from Armourguard came to speak to me and ask if I had my registration form, which of course I did.  After a moment of reading my licence, checking my registration , and checking my licence again I was allowed in the door.
Hallelujah I haven’t had so much scrutiny to enter a door ever in my life.  Not even as an under age drinker in  the last century, nor  at Passport control at Heathrow, have I ever faced such close observation and suspicion.  Crikey there must be something really really important inside.
Inside the door was more police, and more security, and a desk to register to attend the day.  I must say the folks from Orbit (Event Staff) were genuinely friendly and helpful.  In a very short time I was given my ID Card and lanyard and direct to the stair well.  Apparently the Lift was out of order.  This was when yet another Security Officer asked to search my bag.  Being a good citizen I handed my bag over.  Apparently my pen and paper and Banana for morning tea did not constitute dangerous items and I was allow to begin my long climb up the stairs.
The climb itself was uneventful except for the presence of Security Personnel on every landing carefully watching our every move to ensure we went were we where supposed to.
Upon reaching the top floor I was greeted by even more security staff and a lobby to wait in.  The lobby  contained some MFAT TPPA Fact Sheets and that is about it.
After about 10 minutes of standing and being watched we were all allowed to enter the conference room itself.
I must admit by now my expectations where very high. After all why have a small army of security guards if there wasn’t something spectacular inside?


SkepticNZ’s experience is worth reading in it’s entirety.

Another member of the public, Tim O’Shea, who was presenting a submission to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee on 8 April in Auckland, became upset when he realised that “thirty minutes in, and two National MP’s are missing“;


David Bennet - TPPA select committee hearing


Acknowledgement: Image courtesy of Tim O’Shea

Tim also complained thatof the three who are here, [National MP] David Bennett… spent more time looking at his smart phone than he has spent listening to oral submissions.” [See image above]


tim oshea - facebook - select committee comment and photo


Tim has lodged a formal complaint with the Foreign Affairs Defence Trade Committee chairperson;

“On Thursday I observed that the hearing was well attended by those on the Select Committee, and that all submitters (whether pro or anti the TPPA) were dealt with in a predominantly fair and courteous way. All attending members showed respect for those submitters by making a clear effort to listen to, and look at, the various submitters. The day was a long and busy one – i.e. there were many submissions, and very few unplanned interludes and gaps between the submissions.

On Friday, several submitters expressed their dissatisfaction and disappointment at how few government committee members were in attendance compared to the previous day. I counted just three (including the chairman), compared to five who attended on the Thursday.

That in itself, however, was of less concern to me than the rude, discourteous and totally disrespectful behaviour shown by one of the attending committee members, namely National MP David Barnett.

Despite the fact that the hearing didn’t start until the relatively leisurely time of 10:00am, Mr Barnett clearly felt, as the attached photo that I took at 10:22 shows, that looking at his cell phone was far more important than listening to, or looking at, the first THREE submitters !

It wasn’t until part the way through the third submission that Mr Barnett eventually put his phone down.”

When Tim asked David Barnett “to put his cell phone down for ten minutes to show some courtesy and respect“;

“The chairman, Mark Mitchell told me that I should not address committee members directly in that way, and that the members had other important work to do during the hearing – I responded that I also had work to do, and that the least he could do is listen to me and show some respect.”

Tim added;

“As I continued to the end of my submission, David Barnett showed complete and utter contempt by looking at his cell phone for the whole time that I presented, showing no interest at all, and not even looking up at me. Chairman Mark Mitchell said nothing about it whatsoever.’

The complainant claims that Committee Chairperson, Mark Mitchell then criticised Tim for his “bad behaviour”. According to Tim O’Shea;

“Mr Mitchell then told me that he didn’t like the fact that I stood up to do my submission.”

In an obviously increasingly tense atmosphere, another Select Committee member, Labour’s David Shearer, was allegedly over-heard referring to Tim as an  “arrogant twat”  to fellow-committee member,  Green MP Kennedy Graham.

David Shearer is a known supporter of the TPPA. In January this year, he was censured by Labour-leader Andrew Little for breaking ranks with Labour over the TPPA.

The complaint is on-going.

Whatever purpose the “Road Show” has, it clearly has upset members of the public. According to comments made by Mark Mitchell, and repeated on an MFAT website, Green MP, Kennedy Graham was correct when he condemned the exercise as;

“…essentially a roadshow with a predetermined end.”

Certain MPs  seem to hold the attitude that they are not so much highly-paid civil-servants, elected to represent us  in Parliament – but instead “members [who] had other important work to do”. These MPs forget that they hold office at our pleasure.

The clear perception is that public participation is not welcome at the “TPPA Roadshow” or Select Committee.

The farce surrounding the TPPA continues.





Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee Role MP Name Party, Electorate
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Chairperson Mitchell, Mark National Party, Rodney
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Deputy-Chairperson Reti, Shane National Party, Whangarei
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Bennett, David National Party, Hamilton East
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Graham, Kennedy Green Party, List
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Muller, Todd National Party, Bay of Plenty
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Ross, Jami-Lee National Party, Botany
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Shearer, David Labour Party, Mt Albert
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Tabuteau , Fletcher NZ First, List
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Tisch, Lindsay National Party, Waikato
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Member Woods, Megan Labour Party, Wigram



Trade Minister Todd McClay appears to be labouring under an illusion when said;

“But you’ve got to remember it’s been over seven years or more of negotiation, so not all of that consultation or engagement will be remembered.”

MFAT repeated the fantasy;

These events follow the extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations.

One of the most trenchant criticisms of the TPPA is that there was no public consultation carried out during the negotiations. It was all done in secret.

In fact, Professor Jane Kelsey won a court case on this very issue.

So one has to wonder how Todd McClay and MFAT can make the startling assertions that there was “extensive public consultations carried out during TPP negotiations“.

Too soon to be re-writing recent history, yes?



National MP, Mark Mitchell, is closely connected with far-right activist,Simon Lusk, who runs (ran?) a private, self-styled “candidates school” for potential National Party candidates. Amongst those National MPs linked to Lusk are Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, disgraced former list MP, Aaron Gilmore, and Minister Judith Collins. (Lusk, in turn, is associated with “Whaleoil’s” Cameron Slater; “Kiwiblog’s” David Farrar; and “Taxpayer Union’s” Jordan Williams.)



To Tim O’Shea, for kind permission to  use his material (images, quotes, etc) and for proof-reading my story to ensure accuracy.





Radio NZ: Over 330 ask to have say on TPP

Parliament: Select committee begins examination of TPPA

Radio NZ: New TPP timeframe an ‘attack on democracy’

Radio NZ: Morning Report – Select committee chair defends shortened TPP timeframe (audio) (

Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade: Trans-Pacific Partnership – Events

Scoop Media: Select committee begins examination of TPPA

Radio NZ: TPP meeting one-sided, local politician says

The Spinoff: Tea, pee and pecuniary gains – Amid the clowns at the trade deal roadshow

SkepticNZ: Inside the #TPPA Roadshow Experience

Facebook: Tim O’shea – Submission

Facebook: Tim O’Shea – Facebook Post

Fairfax media: David Shearer faces ‘consequences’ for not toeing Labour line on TPPA – Little

NZ Herald: David Shearer to be censured over breaking Labour line on TPP

Parliament: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee Members

Radio NZ: TPP requests – Groser acted unlawfully

NZ Herald: National Party had high-level concerns over member’s influence

Fairfax media: Seriously happy to upset the status quo

Bryce Edwards: Invite to Selection Training Weekend

Other bloggers

Bowalley Road: Protecting The TPP

No Right Turn: Government propaganda on the TPPA

The Daily Blog: Josie Butler – Why I attacked the TPPA roadshow

The Standard: TPPA review time slashed

Wheeler’s Corner: TPPA’s Road-show SEAN PLUNKET tongue flaps

Previous related blogposts

Power Struggle in the National Party?!

David Farrar – Challenging Slater for Sultan of Sleaze?

National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!

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

Nats, Lies, and Videotape

The secret of National’s success – revealed

So who’s a “conspiracy theorist” now?!

National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk






This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 April 2016.



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The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?


lying politician


In the ongoing debate on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, Dear  Leader John Key has been at pains to try to reassure New Zealanders that any TPPA document would be “first  presented to Parliament”.

On 1 October 2013, Key said;

With all [free trade agreements] the way that they work is that have to be ratified by Parliament, and we have to build a parliamentary majority, and all of that has to happen through the transparency of the deal.”

“…my advice is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will require legislation, so, ultimately, once it has gone through the select committee and the public have had their chance to have input, and it has gone through all of those various stages, the Government of the day will require a parliamentary mandate, so by definition people would have had a lot of input.”

And on 31st March this year, Key asserted on NewstalkZB;

In the end, this thing has to go through our Parliament has to be ratified by our Parliament and has to bear scrutiny and I believe is in the best interests of New Zealand.”

Professor Jane Kelsey was one of many who countered Key’s assertions that Parliament would “ratify” any final agreement. Also on 31 March, she stated;

 “How many times do the Prime Minister and other members of the government have to be hauled up for misrepresenting the role of Parliament in making treaties, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’? The Prime Minister is either woefully ignorant of the fundamental process of treaty making, as set out in the Cabinet Manual, or he is wilfully misrepresenting the process to the New Zealand public.

Parliament’s role in treaty making is largely symbolic. It has no power to decide whether or not the TPPA should be signed or ratified and no ability to change its terms TPPA or require it to be renegotiated.

The select committee process is a farcical exercise because its members know they cannot change the treaty.

At most, Parliament could refuse to pass legislation that is required to bring a particular law into compliance with the TPPA. But the government will have plenty of non-legislative ways to achieve compliance.”

Finally, on 15 June, on TVNZ’s Q+A, National’s own Trade Minister, Tim Groser responsible for TPPA negotiations clearly and utterly refuted any notion that the TPPA would have to be “ratified” by Parliament;


“Oh well, we wouldn't put [this] before the New Zealand Parliament. If we're the government of the day, that has to put the ratifying legislation through Parliament, a deal didn't make a great deal of sense to New Zealand.”

Oh well, we wouldn’t put [this] before the New Zealand Parliament. If we’re the government of the day, that has to put the ratifying legislation through Parliament, a deal didn’t make a great deal of sense to New Zealand.”


Note the first part of Groser’s response to interviewer,  Corin Dann;

Oh well, we wouldn’t put [this] before the New Zealand Parliament.

There we have it. The Trade Minister himself confirming what Jane Kelsey and other critics of the secret deal-making  surrounding the TPPA have said all along: once the government agrees to a final document, it will not require ratification by Parliament.

John Key making a mistake once, is understandable.

John Key repeating that same mistake at least  three times is no longer a “mistake”. It becomes willful misinformation. A deliberate lie.

Caught out again – this time by one of his own Ministers!

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/misinformation?

Verdict: Outright lie/misinformation




TV3: Key accused of spreading TPPA ‘mistruths’

Parliament:  Questions for Oral Answer — Questions to Ministers

NewstalkZB:  Key defends TPPA negotiations

Scoop media: One more time, PM: Parliament does not get to ratify TPPA

TVNZ: Government may not seek bipartisan support for a TPP – Groser

Previous related blogposts

The Mendacities of Mr Key #4: “Trolls & bottom-feeders”




TPPA thuggery

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 June 2014.



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TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

6 December 2012 9 comments


TPPA - Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement


The debate of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is hotting up.

Recent pieces in the NZ Herald by Professor Jane Kelsey and right wing columnist, Fran O’Sullivan, gave opposing views on  the current secret negotiations.

As usual, Professor’s Kelsey’s column was a reasoned, critical analysis of the potential consequences of  a TPPA on our society, and economy. Kelsey deals in facts and her writing did not disappoint. (See: Jane Kelsey: Pacific deal masks bigger plan)

By contrast, O’Sullivan’s pro-TPPA piece was a bizarre rant and whinge as to why Auckland University was not promoting pro-TPPA arguments. As if it was compulsory for Universities to promote and advance right-wing, “free” market ideology and agendas?   (See: Anti-trade camp running debate)

Another piece in the Herald, by lawyer Daniel Kalderimis, assured us that  disputes between investors and states were  real, but could be addressed.

No one would sanely deny that there aren’t risks.  But the key question is are those risks a deal breaker or can they be mitigated? I think they can be mitigated.”

See: TPP risks can be mitigated – expert

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Kaldermis is a trade lawyer who makes his living  from “mitigating”  international investor-nation disputes.

(The vultures are circling already…)

Another somewhat equally ludicrous pro-TPPA piece came from Stephen Jacobi, executive director of the NZ US Council and the NZ International Business Forum, on 18 Ocober,


Stephen Jacobi - TPP - more trade, less conspiracy

Full story


Jacobi’s statements demand a critical de-construction…

A recent survey of 1018 New Zealanders found that over 60.5 per cent believed New Zealand needed to do more to connect with global markets. While 85.7 per cent could not name the deal under negotiation with the United States and other Asia Pacific economies, when prompted 51.6 per cent said they had heard of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). 56.3 per cent said they supported TPP and only 13.4 per cent said they opposed it. 30.4 per cent said they had no view or didn’t care. “

It’s hardly surprising that the issue of the TPPA does not rate more highly in New Zealander’s consciousness.

With few exceptions, our media has been woefully lacking in promoting informative debate on complex issues faces this country.

Fairfax media has been gutted, as sub-editors and other reporting staff numbers have been seriously cut back.

Even television current affairs programmes ( The Nation, Q+A, and Think Tank) are relegated to early morning time slots on the weekends.

The only in-depth, serious  coverage on radio is by Radio New Zealand.

This blogger recently had an opportunity to listen to what passes for “News” on ‘The Rock‘ – a Wellington radio station. It’s two-minute long hourly “news” programme consisted predominantly of crime stories. Items of a political nature or social issues are rarely, if ever,  canvassed.

Talkback radio? Idiot voices screaming at other idiot voices on issues that idiots know little about.

No wonder that the most critical trade agreement in our history is about to be passed, and “30.4% said they had no view or didn’t care“.

If New Zealanders realised that our medicines might increase by 50%, 75%, 100%, or X% – then perhaps more New Zealanders might care.

I know! Let’s put it into terms that even the most dimmest low-information voter can compehend,


TPP could quash film funds

Full story


Amokura Kawharu said her conclusions were based on the leaked text of the investment chapter.

“If that is the final form for the TPP then there will be an extensive provision in there prohibiting what are called ‘performance requirements’.”

It prohibited incentives for supporting local industry.


So there we have it; no government subsidies = no movies = we can kiss bye-bye to our little hairy-footed mates if the TPPA goes through.


The Hobbit Banned


That should grab our collective attention by our short’n’curlies.

Returning to Mr Jacobi’s written piece in the Herald,

The Government will need to decide what best meets New Zealand’s interests in this area but it is more likely to do so in the context of domestic policy processes rather than a trade negotiation.”

That is either highly disingenuous – or Mr Jacobi has an almost quasi-religious faith in our government.  Which is strange, as neo-libs generally have very little faith in the State and are constantly railing that private enterprise “does it better” than governments.

At any rate, the last 30 years of de-regulation, resulting in thousands of jobs being lost to overseas nations with cheaper labour costs, prove the lie to that claim. If governments’ policies were truly determined by “ what best meets New Zealand’s interests …in the context of domestic policy “, neo-liberal de-regulation would never have been implemented on such a wide-ranging, destructive scale in this country.

Successive governments since 1984 have been hand-cuffed to de-regulated marketplace and fiscal policies.

That’s also why this process needs to take place behind closed doors, at least until consensus is forged.

This is not the same as secrecy – it’s no secret TPP talks are taking place in Auckland in December.


A process taking place behind closed doors is not the same as secrecy?!?!

Since when was the definition of secrecy re-written without anyone’s knowledge?

What other definitions has Ms Jacobi re-written, on the sly?


redefined (1)


redefined (2)


redefined (3)


redefined (4)


redefined (5)


So let’s not forget; for TPPA supporters, something taking place behind closed doors is not the same as secrecy.

”  At that time any public stakeholders who register their interest will be able to meet with negotiators as they have done in every other negotiating round. “

Meaning what, precisely? Will that allow journalists; members of Parliament; and other interested parties the right to full disclosure of information regarding  the TPPA?

If not, then Mr Jacobi’s comments are meaningless drivel.

” Those on all sides of the TPP debate will do so and they should, to ensure negotiators are aware of their concerns. New Zealand negotiators are extremely open to this and meet regularly with those for and against TPP.

Ok, now Jacobi is of into La La Land, on a Jet Star flight of fancy…

I wonder who, precisely,  New Zealand negotiators are meeting regularly, who are “against the TPP“?

Once their job is complete the fruits of their labours will need to be presented to Parliament for ratification and all New Zealanders can participate in the select committee process.  That’s how we make treaties and change laws in this country.  “

Yes, Mr Jacobi, that is precisely “ how we make treaties and change laws in this country” – on Planet Key.

Unfortunately, things are not quite so rosy and wonderfully democractic in New Zealand, Planet Earth.

For example; public submissions on the issue of partial privatisation of our state assets numbered 1,400. Less than 1% were in favour of privatisation.

National has ignored the remaining 99% of submitters and is proceeding with asset sales. (See:  Asset sales protest gears up)

Where is the “participation in the select committee process” that Mr Jacobi speaks of?

The bigger picture behind all this is why New Zealand needs to participate in trade negotiations at all. The answer can be found in the difficult economic environment in which we find ourselves today. All around the world governments and citizens are asking what can be done to boost economic growth, create jobs and meet the expanding social needs of our communities.”

Mr Jacobi is being hopelessly naive if he believes that free trade agreements “create jobs”.

Well, they do, actually. They take jobs from countries such as New Zealand – and create them in low-wage countries such as India, Pakistan, Fiji, China, etc.

In fact, the United States seems to have not done very well out of a previous free trade agrement called NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement),

NAFTA’s opponents attribute much of the displacement caused in the US labor market to the United States’ growing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. According to the Economic Policy Institute, rise in the trade deficit with Mexico alone since NAFTA was enacted led to the net displacement of 682,900 U.S. jobs by 2010.  Critics see the argument of the proponents of NAFTA as being one-sided because they only take into consideration export-oriented job impact instead of looking at the trade balance, also known as net exports. They argue that increases in imports ultimately displaced the production of goods that would have been made domestically by workers within the United States.

The export-oriented argument is also critiqued because of the discrepancy between domestically produced exports and exports produced in foreign countries. For example, many US exports are simply being shipped to Mexican maquiladores where they are assembled, and then shipped back to the U.S. as final products.  These are not products destined for consumption by Mexicans, yet they made up 61% of exports in 2002. However, only domestically produced exports are the ones that support U.S. labor. Therefore, the measure of net impact of trade should be calculated using only domestically produced exports as an indicator of job creation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s study, 61% of the net job losses due to trade with Mexico under NAFTA, or 415,000 jobs, were relatively high paying manufacturing jobs.  Certain states with heavy emphasis on manufacturing industries like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and California were significantly affected by these job losses. For example, in Ohio, Trade Adjustment Assistance and NAFTA-TAA identified 14,653 jobs directly lost due to NAFTA-related reasons like relocation of U.S. firms to Mexico. Similarly, in Pennsylvania, Keystone Research Center attributed 150,000 job losses in the state to the rising U.S. trade deficit. Since 1993, 38,325 of those job losses are directly related to trade with Mexico and Canada. Although many of these workers laid off due to NAFTA were reallocated to other sectors, the majority of workers were relocated to the service industry, where average wages are 4/5 to that of the manufacturing sector.

See: NAFTA’s effect on United States employment

An increase in domestic manufacturing output and a proportionally greater domestic investment in manufacturing does not necessarily mean an increase in domestic manufacturing jobs; this increase may simply reflect greater automation and higher productivity. Although the U.S. total civilian employment may have grown by almost 15 million in between 1993 and 2001, manufacturing jobs only increased by 476,000 in the same time period.  Furthermore from 1994 to 2007, net manufacturing employment has declined by 3,654,000, and during this period several other free trade agreements have been concluded or expanded

See: North American Free Trade Agreement

And our free trade agreement with China is resulting in similar loss of jobs,

An announcement today 430 jobs are set to go at Fisher & Paykel Appliances’ Dunedin factory, virtually spells the end of the line for whiteware production in New Zealand.

F&P is following the lead of New Zealand garment manufacturer Icebreaker which does design and research in New Zealand but manufactures in low-cost China.

See: Fisher & Paykel move ‘damages iconic brand

How many jobs were “created” in Dunedin’s Hillside railway yards, when contracts to build locomotives were awarded to Chinese manufacturers? See: Dozens of railway workshop jobs to go

How many jobs were “created” by Rakon Industries, as they shifted their production to China? See: Rakon blames job cuts on high dollar

How many jobs did Dynamic Controls “create” when they shifted manufacturing to China in 2007? See: Jobs to go in closure of Dynamic Controls wing

And the list goes on… 40,000 manufacturing jobs lost, since 2008.   ( See: National’s Hands-Off Approach Failing New Zealand)  Many of those jobs have been ‘exported’ to China, since the FTA was signed between that nation and New Zealand on 7 April 2008 and came into effect on 1 October of the same year. (See: New Zealand–China Free Trade Agreement )

So is Mr Jacobi lying or woefully ignorant of the facts? Let the reader decide.

Next, from Mr Jacobi,

A conservative estimate is that TPP could add $2.1 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2025 or just under 1 per cent of GDP.”


Who gets that $2.1 billion, Mr Jacobi? Is it workers? Local businesses here in New Zealand? Or corporate shareholders somewhere else?

And how many more unemployed, Mr Jacobi?

Who pays for thousands more unemployed? The taxpayer no doubt.

Meanwhile, that $2.1 billion heads of to Never Never Land

But the strangest, most laughable comment from Mr Jacobi comes when he admonishes TPPA critics with,

Rather than giving in to doomsday scenarios we should listen to New Zealanders who instinctively know that trade works and this country’s economic livelihood is to be found in global markets.”

Yeah, we can’t have “doomsday scenarios”, eh, Mr Jacobi. Like the muppet who made this moronic comment,

No one wants to see prices go up or the internet collapse.”

See: Stephen Jacobi: TPP – more trade, less conspiracy




Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign


Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey (29 Nov 2012)

Gordon Campbell and a Canadian analysis of the TPP (3 Dec 2012)

Gordon Campbell on Tim Groser’s ‘political projectile vomiting’ about the TPPA (4 Dec 2012)




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Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

1 December 2012 21 comments


Citizen A


Jane Kelsey & Lori Wallach


29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special


Prologue – Some Context

Right-wing NZ Herald columnist, Fran O’Sullivan, had this to say about Jane Kelsey and the anti-TPPA movement,

Academics who understand liberalisation are not often quoted publicly to provide a contrasting voice.

A university as dominant in New Zealand’s intellectual life as the University of Auckland should surely be ensuring a counter-balance to Kelsey’s activism. Here’s a question for University of Auckland vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon. Why don’t you encourage some of your expert business academics to take an open stance on trade liberalisation instead of allowing debate to simply be dominated by law professor Jane Kelsey and her NGO mates?

Kelsey has joined up with other anti-trade activists such as Lori Wallach, from Public Citizen, and Sanya Reid Smith, from the Third World Network, to host media seminars in Wellington today and tomorrow in Auckland.

The media seminars – no photographs please – are to hear from “International Experts in New Zealand for the 15th round of TPPA Negotiations”.

Others who will front include Burcu Kilic (Global Access to Medicines Programme, Public Citizen) and union leaders.

 A range of other NGO players will take part in various public events next week designed to question the TPP process and shine a light on some potentially negative outcomes.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Kelsey.

I have debated with her over the years and shared an occasional single malt in five star hotels elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific on the sidelines of international forums such as Apec. Regular readers of this column know I am in the pro-trade camp (with provisos) and – declaration right upfront here – have actively promoted New Zealand’s engagement in free trade agreement negotiations with nations such as the US and China.

There are plenty of others in this pro-trade camp – businesses, academics, farmers, politicians and foreign affairs officials.

But for some reason academics who are deeply across the major market liberalisation moves in the Asia-Pacific – such as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – are not often quoted publicly to provide a contrasting voice to the anti-trade lobby.

Kelsey – who, according to the latest bunch of publicity, is also now associate dean (research) – talks a good game.

But I’ve yet to read any Kelsey works that support open markets or come up with concrete suggestions about how New Zealand can deal with the impact of trade diversion if it stays out of the negotiations, which will result in deeper economic integration in the Asia-Pacific.

A university as dominant in New Zealand’s intellectual life as the University of Auckland should surely be ensuring a counter-balance to Kelsey’s activism. Particularly if it cherishes its reputation.

The university does employ highly-experienced academics such as Rob Scollay (long-time head of the Apec Study Centre) and Hugh Whittaker, from the Business School, who has studied in some depth the impact of global supply chains on international trade.

But they should merely be the nucleus of a big bunch of academics who are sufficiently versed in New Zealand’s trade agreement platforms and right across our myriad agreements, to be seen as “go-to” commentators on trade issues.

It is a fundamental problem because there are issues relating to the TPP which do need to be debated.

The Prime Minister has said New Zealand won’t sign up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal unless it includes an agreement to progressively abolish tariffs on agricultural products exported to North America.

Key also told his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday that it would not be a “good look” if New Zealand made concessions that undermined the status of its drug-buying agency, Pharmac. It’s highly unlikely that New Zealand would concede these areas in the first place.

It would make a nonsense of its history of mainly signing up to top-quality, comprehensive bilateral free trade agreements, or regional trade deals, if New Zealand allowed itself to be pushed about on this score.

The negotiations will be tough when it comes to reducing high agricultural tariffs.

Canada’s dairy tariffs are as high as 300 per cent. Canada will argue – yet again and falsely – that Fonterra is a state trading enterprise.

The agricultural upside will be considerable if the TPP goes through and tariffs are removed over lengthy phase-in periods.

But the real issue – which is not adequately debated – is the intellectual property component of the TPP.

New Zealand’s concentration on agricultural liberalisation might be blinding negotiators to the potential impact of adopting the US IP platform. The US – like Singapore before it – wants to set the rules for what is in effect a major economic integration of the Asia-Pacific.

Our companies in the ICT and high-tech manufacturing space have mixed views on what is proposed.

First problem is they don’t know enough of the TPP detail.

Second problem is an emerging sense that not enough intellectual thought has gone into studying the upsides and downsides of the proposed IP framework or into exactly what platform New Zealand should be pushing to enable its own companies to thrive in 21st century trade regimes.

This is important.

Victoria University has done some work in this area.

But I would argue that this is fruitful territory for the University of Auckland.

Key said on Monday that for New Zealand to do a deal, “It has to be a deal on our terms”.

Trouble is, not enough open work has gone into determining what those terms should be for industries other than the agricultural sector.

Let’s face it: Fonterra has not taken advantage of all the concessions New Zealand scored for dairy in the China FTA (such as for infant milk formula).

But the dominant business voices on trade are mainly from agriculture.

It is not too late to ensure NZ’s interests on the IP front are advanced. Stuart McCutcheon take note.

Source: Anti-trade camp running debate

Which puts the following into proper context…

Citizen A – TPPA Special



Issue 1: Why should NZers be concerned with signing up to the TPPA?

Issue 2: Why would our Government agree to a deal that didn’t benefit NZ interests?

and issue 3: How much is the TPPA a manifestation of the American-Chinese new cold war in the Pacific?



Re-published with kind permission from Tumeke



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A John, a Tony, and a Winston



This morning’s  ‘Q+A’ (TV1), and ‘The Nation’  (TV3),  featured interviews with John Key, Tony Ryall, and Winston Peters. Peters  also appeared on John Tamihere’s panel on ‘Think Tank‘ – but more on that in a moment.

The three interviews and panel yielded some interesting points…


Tony Ryall, Minister for State Own Enterprises


One of National’s constant cop-outs on why the economy is stagnating and unemployment is so high, is a constant finger-pointing at the previous Labour government. According to Key, English, et al in National, the previous Labour government left the economy in a “parlous state”,

In 2008 the Government inherited an economy that had been in recession for nearly a year and that was up against a world economy in crisis….

… Under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance.

… We inherited from Labour a set of government books showing never-ending budget deficits and government debt spiralling out of control. This would have ruined the economy and created an onerous debt burden destructive to jobs and income growth.

See:  John Key, Statement to Parliament 2011,  8 February, 2011

I do agree with the view that for New Zealand to have a sustained recovery based on a stronger export sector will be a challenge with the dollar at the current levels. But I imagine that that member will not try to make a political point about that, because it is precisely record-high interest rates and a record-high dollar, driven by the previous Government’s reckless economic management, that have put the export sector into such a difficult position. “

See: Bill English, Parliamentary Questions And Answers – 30 July 2009

None of it is true, of course, and National’s attempt to re-write history is simply a dishonest strategy to excuse their own shocking performance at growing the economy.  In fact, this blogger pointed this out in a carefully researched analysis of Labour’s track record from 2000 to 2008.

See:  Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

Today (17 June), SOE Minister Tony Ryall let slip on ‘Q+A’  an admission that Labour’s record on fiscal management was not what National Party strategists had been alleging,

TONY RYALL  Uh, its certainly about debt. You know, New Zealands debt is currently $52 billion, $53 billion. Expected to go to $72 billion in the next three years. Thats getting to a level that were uncomfortable with. Thats the reason why we want to sell a minority stake in these assets, free up some cash that can then be invested in the other priority assets that New Zealanders want in the future


TONY  RYALL Thats right. Because at the moment, were going from $8 billion when we started in 2008. The debts now around $52 billion. Were expecting to be at $72 billion in another three years time…

See: TVNZ  Q+A  Transcript interview with Tony Ryall

So much for National; their party apparatchiks; and supporters who constantly warn us that Labour was, and is, a “borrow and spend” Party. National seems to be quite adept at racking up massive overseas debt – whilst cutting taxes locally.

Eventually though, that debt has to be re-paid. Hence why National is selling state assets and cutting back on state/social services.

Thank you, Tony Ryall, for the admission that the previous government, in fact, was not as fiscally inept as you and your colleagues have made out. Nor as inept as your handling of the country’s economy.

Feel free to call an early election any time soon?


John Key, Prime Minister (Temporary)


John Key’s appearance on today’s ‘The Nation‘ as the front man for an ideologically-driven National Party was on-par with past performances as the ever-smiling, smooth-talking politician, whose role it is to put a “human face” on the neo-liberal agenda.

There were several issues touched upon in the interview – though none as deeply as perhaps the viewer might have desired. On the issue of National’s deal-making with Sky City, Key was let off the hook lightly – with Fairfax interviewer, John Hartevelt looking slightly bemused when a particularly promising line of questioning was cut short.

Perhaps the interview tried cramming in too many issues, for the alloted time?

On the issue of the Auditor General’s investigation on National’s involvement in deal-making with Sky City on the possible awarding of a contract to build a new Convention centre, one comment from Key, in particular, should have raised a few eyebrows and generated further questioning.

At 6.37 into the interview;

KEY: The involvement I had, as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre. Did that with Sky City. I did that with people out at ASB Centre The Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual.  I mean, and to argue that that would be unusual would be to say, well, look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a museum there. And I have discussions  with people in Auckland about building  a cycleway.

So now what we’re  talking about about is, ok, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled, that’s what the auditor general  will say.

So let me tell you this, for a start of, ok, in terms of the expression of interest process, my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, [ interuption by Rachel Smalley] no phone calls, absolutely nothing. So when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero.

In a very casual, matter-of-fact manner, Key has stated that whilst he had “talks to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre” – that there is no record whatsoever of any such talks or interaction with any of the parties involved.

What we do know is this,

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he offered a deal to Sky City allowing the casino to have more pokie machines in return for building a multimillion-dollar convention centre. Mr Key, speaking from Indonesia, confirmed he made the offer to Sky City in his capacity as Minister of Tourism, Newstalk ZB reported…

… Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003″.  “

See: NZ Herald SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

See: Blogpost Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

The problem here, is that with Key’s “office having absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, no phone calls” we, the public have no way of knowing what has transpired. There is simply no telling what has gone on between Key and “critical players”.

I don’t know about you, the reader, but I am not in the slightest reassured by Key’s explanation.  It is an extremely worrying development in our system when important matters between government of commercial intrerests can be discussed in secret; off the record; and with no paper trail or other indication as to how arrangements were agreed upon.

The potential for corruption is plain for all to see.

If Key does not comprehend this, then his political advisors are not doing their jobs properly. This is not the transparent government that we have come to expect in a modern society – nor what John Key promised us.

See:  Open and Transparent Government – Declaration

John Key then went on to mount an extraordinary and peculiar attack on Winston Peters.

At 27.35 into the interview;

KEY: I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour, even if Labour’s policy is to raise the super age from 2020, not in the three-year period from 2014 to 2017.

“I dare him to say he will not, because he’s tricky and he’ll find a way all around all of that stuff. “

See: TV1 News -National in trouble – Peters

See:  TV1 VIDEO: Prime Minister John Key on ACC, super and the future

Curiously, when pushed by John Hartevelt, Key did not categorically rule out  a coalition deal with Peters as he did in 2008.

This blogger believes that  Key and National understand   Rule #1 in politics: learn to count.

If National’s support drops in 2014 (or earlier election) they will require a coalition partner with more numbers than the one-man parties of ACT and United Future. Only NZ First comes anywhere near offering the Nats a  potential coalition partner.

At the very least, National’s strategists want to drive Peters away from any potential coalition-partnership or Supply & Confidence support deal for a Labour-led government.

As for Peters – this blogger doubts that he will repeat his fatal mistake of entering into coalition with National, as he did in  on 11 December 1996. Peters understands that his constituency vote for him because it is a protest vote against the incumbent government – in this case, National.

Just as in 1996, people voted for him as part of a wide-spectrum political bloc of anti-National sentiment that was sweeping the country. By coalescing with the Nats in 1996, Peters ignored that sentiment and suffered the wrath of the electorate – first at the superannuation referendum in 1998, which was soundly defeated 92% to 8%. A year later, at the general election, Peters barely scrapped back into Parliament by winning his seat with a 63 vote majority. His Party polled under the 5% threshold.

No doubt National will continue to play their silly-bugger games to de-stabilise the  Labour-led governmen-in-waiting. They have no option, as their own internal polling must be reflecting what mainstream polling is showing; the public have had enough of National; it’s “Bright Future” never-never promises;  and want change. Come 2014 (if not earlier), the Nats will be dog-tucker and will be gone by dinner-time on election night.

Again, feel free to call an early election any time soon, Dear Leader?



Winston Peters appeared on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘, and afterward on TV3’s ‘Think Tank‘, hosted by John Tamihere. Neither appearances could have been more starkly contrasting.

On ‘Q+A‘, interviewed by the personable Greg Boyd, Peters resorted ‘to form’, and displayed  his typical media-combativeness and mis-mash  of slogans and faux-outrage, that is his public persona.

It was painful to watch.

See: TVNZ Q+A Winston Peters on Coalition and Superannuation

‘Nuff said.

Contrast Peter’s cringeworthy performance on ‘Q+A‘, with his appearance on  ‘Think Tank‘, today, as one of three guests; Labour Leader David Shearer and Auckland University professor, Jane Kelsey.  This was a Winston Peters from a Parallel Universe where he appeared thoughful; measured; insightful; and practically led the panel. This is a Winston Peters who commands respect and attention – not the Jeykill & Hyde version on ‘Q+A’ who alienates the viewer with his  antics.

See: TV3 Think Tank 17 June

As a critic of Winston Peters, my suggestion to him is this; lose the attitude. Or at least tone it down. The media can be a pain in the arse, for sure, but why wind them up needlessly?

Save the aggro for the debating chamber in the House. That is where Peters can best utilise that righteous anger he is so famous for. And where he can best show the public that he is on our side as the champion of the Ordinary Kiwi Battler.

The Winston Peters that this blogger saw on ‘Think Tank‘ is the one that will help re-build NZ first.

Not the grumpy old bugger who got into a shouting-match with Greg Boyd.

If Peters reads this, take my criticisms as constructive. Or not. As a Labour-Green supporter, I’m not terribly fussed if he makes it back to Parliament at the next election, or fades away into the Twilight Zone.

But perhaps his supporters and Party activists deserve that opportunity?

Just my 5 cents + 15% gst worth.





Cartoons by Murray Webb



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An Expensive Lesson?

18 March 2012 5 comments


Full Story


Once upon a time, New Zealand had free education. (Including free university education as well.)

Then, madness set upon us in the 1980s and 1990s.

We welcomed bribes from successive centrist or right wing governments who gave us seven tax cuts from 1986.  As a society, we were warned by the like of Jane Kelsey, Jim Anderton, and many others that this would not end well; that tax cuts demanded corresponding cuts in social services and more and more User Pays.

As Jim Anderton often said at public meetings,

User pays means that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t use it!”

Students and their families  are discovering that truism the hard way.

User pays;

Free medical prescriptions (remember those?) went out the door.

Free University education – now not free. We have a massive mountain of student debt, with 834,000 students having borrowed $13.9 billion since 1992.

In 2005, Otago Polytechnic Student’s Association President, Rachel Dibble said,

This debt will have an outrageous effect on the country. There will be a flow on cost to services supplied by graduates, and drive the cost of living higher. The current brain drain overseas will worsen.

School fees – once voluntary, to pay for “extras”, are now chased up by schools using debt collectors.  No longer used for “extras”  like trips away, they are now a critical part of school operations.  Fees  buy toilet paper and chalk.

A recent media report stated,

Family First NZ says that parents have paid over $1 billion in school donations over the past four years to prop up state school budgets – and low income families in low decile schools are also paying significant amounts.

According to information gained under the Official Information Act, the total amount of school voluntary donations/fees actually paid by families in the last four years has been $234m (2007), $247m (2008), $272m (2009), and $266m (2010) – totaling $1.02b.” – Source

The latest news in our ongoing  saga of education’s self-destruction in this country is that now NZQA is denying thousands of students from being awarded NCEA credits that they have achieved through their studies.

This is not just unfair; it is a lunatic policy enabled by an insular right wing National government that is so far out of touch with mainstream New Zealand, that it was last sighted by the Hubble telescope passing the orbit of Pluto, and heading further out into Deep Space.

But metaphors aside, New Zealanders need to take stock and ask themselves: where the hell are we headed? When further barriers are erected in front of disadvantaged families and their childre; to make it harder to take up opportunities to better themselves – just what the hell are we trying to achieve here?!

Earlier today, before I read the article above, I wrote this piece;  What will be her future? The piece was about three possible futures for a young child.

By no means do I blame schools, Universities, or the NZQA. Even successive governments – to a degree – are only doing what they can get away with,  using tax cuts to  chase after our  votes.

No, the responsibility lies with  voters who have permitted this sad state of affairs to happen and to get progressively worse. Too many people have been seduced by the offerings of politicians without questioning some pretty basic issues;

  • If we accept tax cuts – how will we pay for essential social services? Funding for these services do not materialise out of thin air, at the wave of Harry Potter’s magic wand. These services require cold, hard cash – taxes.
  • Is an ever-increasing User Pays in education helping or hindering? How will the disadvantaged cope? Do we even care?
  • If we don’t care about the disadvantaged in our society – why should they care about society itself? And how does a society survive and prosper if the majority care more about what elected politicians can do for them (eg, tax cuts) – rather than what those same politicians should be doing for the country as a whole?

A wise man  (or, his speech writers) once remarked,

“…ask not what your country can do for you — ask what can you do for your country.”

It seems we have forgotten that very simple philosophy.

This current government is rotten. It has no inkling of how to address the critical social problems plaguing our society. It is more concerned with shuffling ministries; cutting the state sector; sacking workers; cutting taxes (for some); and cutting social services. Expect no sensible solutions from them.

If we look at the political alternatives, it is up to each and every New Zealander to tell the leaders of Labour, Greens, NZ First, and Mana what kind of  society we want. And that we are willing to pay for it.

I may be a left-winger, but even I know a simple truth; there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If we want free education and free healthcare, we better be prepared to pay for it. (And that includes those who have escaped taxation because their wealth is not in the form of taxable income.)

The solution is in our own hands.

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“Please Explain” email sent to Education Minister, Hekia Parata,


From:      “Frank Macskasy” <>
Date:        Sunday, 18 March, 2012 11:31 PM
Subject:  NCEA fees demanded from students

Kia ora Ms Parata,

I noted a recent media article which stated that “a $76.70 fee is stopping thousands of students from being awarded NCEA credits they have achieved” and that “all high school pupils who sit NCEA must pay the fee to their school and those who don’t will not have their achievements formally awarded, meaning some students have to re-sit assessments in order to complete NCEA levels. In 2010 more than 3000 students did not have their achievements formally awarded”.

Could you please comment on this issue and explain why, when we supposedly have free education in this country, that NZQA is demanding a fee from students in return for awarding their NCEA  Credits?

Is this National policy and does the government stand by this?


-Frank Macskasy
Frankly Speaking


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Related Blogpost

What will be her future?



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