Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Johnston’

“One law for all” – except MPs. (Part Rua)

2 February 2012 4 comments

.

.

The issue of privacy, politicians,  government departments, and ordinary citizens is something that has played out in the public arena in the last few years…

In 2009,  two women;  solo-mothers;  on the domestic purposes benefit;  criticised the Government for cutting the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA).

This was the same TIA that Paula Bennett herself used to put herself through University,

I have never made a secret of the fact I have been on and off the benefit and that I did receive the TIA.

What I can tell those people who are looking at tertiary study is that it’s not going to be easy but if they back themselves, and this Government is backing them as well, then they can get off the benefit. They may even end up a cabinet minister.” – Source

The two women were on training courses to be a teacher and  nurse.

In retaliation to criticism, Bennett gained  access to their MSD (Ministry of Social Development)  files and released figures regarding the two women’s WINZ payments, to the media.  In doing so, Bennett clearly violated the women’s, privacy,

.

Full Story

.

Bennett defended her actions by stating that she wanted to  “round up a one-sided story“.  Bennett added that “she had not sought the women’s permission she felt they had taken the matter public by talking to the news media and writing on the internet“. (Source)

So there you go, folks. The rules set by the current regime are simple; if you criticise the government and talk to the media – be prepared to have the State retaliate, using your own personal information against you. (Stalin would be proud!)

Fast forward to December, last year,

.

Full Story

.

WINZ head,  Janet Grossman said,

These people have let us down badly. Their actions cast a shadow over our honest and hard working staff who understand that client privacy is sacrosanct.”

It is a shame that Paula Bennett’s – and other politicians – understanding of “sacrosanct privacy” appears to differ  markedly  from what you and I might think on the subject.

So  it was hardly surprising that  John Key was scathing in the matter of  a secretly-recorded conversation between himself and John Banks,  at the Urban Cafe in Epsom last year,

I’m not bothered in the slightest about what is on the tape, secondly, I am very bothered by the tactics that I believe have been deliberately deployed by the ‘Herald on Sunday’.” – Source

Politicians, though,  have recourse to  the full force of State power – the police – to guard their privacy. And John Key certainly seemed to have no qualms about engaging the Police on this issue. After all, as Key stated,

The good thing is we’ve lowered the crime rate by seven per cent across the country so they do have a little bit of spare time and this is a really important issue.” – Source

A politician’s privacy is “important” – even if half the media-contingent in Auckland were present at the meeeting between Banks and Key.  Folks can see for themselves just how private their conversation really was,

.

.

The “moral” of this story?

If you’re an employee at WINZ, and access personal files of clients without appropriate reasons – then expect to lose your job.

If you’re the Prime Minister – your conversations are always private. Never mind the dozens of  journalists you’ve invited to the latest pre-arranged photo-op. (If in doubt, the Police can be called to enforce the Prime Minister’s wishes.)

If you’re a recipient of social welfare – then your privacy is at the discretion of government ministers.

Have I missed anything out?

.

.

Previous Blog entries

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

.

.

“One law for all” – except MPs

3 January 2012 4 comments

.

.

The government is going after cameraman/journalist Bradley Ambrose with a vengeance, demanding $14,000 in court costs,

.

Full Story

.

It seems that this government is as vindictive as ever, when it comes to “settling scores” with critics. Their recent history has other similar examples of coming down hard on those who would dare criticise the current regime.

This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government,  actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.

It appears that Bradley Ambrose can now be added to that growing list of harassed or vilified dissidents. If it’s any consolation for Mr Ambrose, he appears to be a member of an “exclusive club” of some very talented individuals.

It also seems that the National Party is not averse to resorting to  Muldoonist tactics – where the Prime Minister of the same name had little hesitation in attacking critics on a personal level. Many of us still recall Muldoon’s abuse of power against cartoonist and journalist, Tom Scott, in the 1970s.

.

.

I thought those days were over, and behind us.

Evidently not.

What is even more outrageously hypocritical is that Ministers of the Crown are not above dipping into the public purse to pay for their own court costs – some of which are considerable,

.

Full Story

.

National MP, Gerry Brownlee also tried to seek reimbursement for a $48,000 legal bill – though this was knocked back. Brownlee knew he was “trying it on”, when he admitted,

In hindsight, I would have thought ‘oh well, I’ve got this big bill, I may as well see what is possible’. But quite clearly it wasn’t appropriate.” – Ibid

Nick Smith has received $122,000 taxpayer funding in his case against timber preservative company Osmose, and an undisclosed sum to reimburse his court costs  in his case against David Henderson.

One cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that there is one law for Members of Parliament – and another law for the rest of us plebs.

It was highly ironic then, considering Bradley Ambrose’s case that the Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith referred to  court action against the media, as justification for using taxpayers’ money,

Dr Smith said allowing MPs to use public money was warranted, likening it to a media company paying for a defamation case against a journalist.” – Ibid

John Key also climbed into the fray,  justifying the use of taxpayers’ money thusly,

“”It’s a question about whether ultimately those disclosures are brought into the public domain by greater levels of transparency, but that has never been the rule in the past. I don’t think it would be of concern to me if it was opened up to a greater degree. There’s nothing to hide here.” ” – Source

Well, obviously there was quite a bit to hide when it came to the “Teapot Tapes”. So much to hide, in fact, that police were called in to raid several media offices and punitive action is being meted out to Mr Ambrose. Not very “transparent” at all.

It is quite obvious that this government has little hesitation in using taxpayers money – our money – against members of the public who dare annoy a Minister.

It is also quite obvious that this same government will dip into our wallets and use our taxes when it suits them, to pay for their legal expenses.

The term for this is hypocrisy.

.

***

.

Additional

.

Source

.

.

.

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

13 November 2011 21 comments

.

Most of us remember the situation of  Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers, who protested at the canning of the Training Incentive Allowance that was specifically set up to allow single-parents to upskill and enable them to find jobs for themselves.

The Training Incentive Allowance was used by a personal friend of mine, who was on the domestic purposes benefit,  to obtain qualifications as a teacher; land a job at a primary school; and earn a salary. Instead of receiving a welfare benefit, she now pays taxes.

Paula Bennett, the Minister of Social Welfare, did precisely the same and used the Training Incentive Allowance to pay her way through University. As I wrote in an earlier piece, Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy, this was Ms Bennet’s own circumstances,

.

A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit

.

As is their right in a democratic society which values freedom of expression, Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston both challenged Bennett on her decision to axe the TIA. They reminded Ms Bennett that the TIA was designed to get people of the DPB, and reminded Ms Bennett that she herself had used this allowance for her own betterment.

Paula Bennett did not take kindly to this criticism. On 27 July 2009, Bennett instructed her staff to release sensitive, personal details of both women’s WINZ payments.

It was a gross abuse of ministerial power.  It was an attempt to bully the two women into submission, using the reactionary, red neck abuse from certain misogynistic elements in our society. (And those elements duly obliged.)

On 11 August 2009, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff confirmed that a complaint had been laid with her office over Bennett’s releasing of the two women’s details.

The releasing of the Human Right’s document, as outlined by TV3,  has ‘upset’  the Prime Minister who feels that Paula Bennett’s “human rights” have been breached,

.

.

John Key says,

It’s a bit odd when something’s before the Human Rights Commission and yet the Human Rights of one of the parties seems to have been breached.” Source

Pardon?!

It seems outrageous that John Key is not as concerned that one of his Ministers – sworn under oath to uphold the laws of the land – released private information to “destroy” the credibility of her critics (Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston).

Or is using peoples’ private details to discredit them, if they dare criticise the government, now acceptable practice?

This government does not take kindly to criticism. This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;

July 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspirational-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government,  actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.

Quite simply, it is apparent that one criticises this government, and especially John Key, at some risk to themselves.  New Zealanders should be appalled. This is what is known as going down the road to a Police State.

If you are reading this and are starting to feel uneasy – rest assured, that is a normal response.

It is people who think this is all ok, that worries the hell out of me.

.

.