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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Mitchell’

Mark Mitchell – Flights of fancy?!

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Former Defence Minister; failed National Party leader aspirant;  one-time mercenary-for-hire, and current (for the moment) National defence spokesman, Mark Mitchell, may have opened a 44-gallon drum-of-worms with his assertion that Coalition Defence Minister, Ron Mark, has been “using the Air Force as a personal taxi service“.

Mitchell kept repeating a common meme;

“This is an incredibly inappropriate use of Defence resources, and I am sure the public would be interested to know why the Minister is opting to use already stretched Defence assets rather than the Ministerial Crown Cars that are available to him.”

And;

“Mr Mark has even used an NH90 to travel from Masterton to Waiouru and back in the same day – a three hour trip each way by car.

Why did he not save the taxpayer the cost and the NZDF the time and use a much cheaper Crown car instead? It’s happening so regularly locals are asking questions about it.”

Ron Mark refuted Mitchell’s undocumented claims, stating;

“Each of the flights was taken to an official engagement.

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“I wish to emphasise that none of these flights was for personal use. Please note that on a number of these flights I have been accompanied by NZDF officials, MPs from other parties, and/or media representatives. If at any point the Defence Force advises me that such travel is inappropriate or outside policy then I would naturally comply.”

Minister Ron Mark replied;

“What I will do is run a benchmark across all use of military aircraft over the last 10 years, and I’m already receiving messages that actually there’s some interesting stuff in there.

Let’s put it out in the media, and let’s hope Mr Mitchell isn’t embarrassed.”

Ron mark was correct. There appears to be solid evidence that ministers from the previous National-led government  have indeed used Air Force helicopters as their own private taxi service.

In May 2013, TV3 reported;

The Prime Minister, his MPs and ministers – including the leaders of ACT and United Future – have travelled to Tolaga Bay for the tangi of Parekura Horomia.

[…]

Today was the final day of the tangi – John Key flew in on one of the Defence Force’s new $100 million helicopters, with ministers in tow.

A screenshot image showed one of Key’s ministers – former ACT-leader John Banks – alighting from said $100 million helicopter;

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The same helicopter contained former Dear Leader John Key and “his MPs and ministers – including the leaders of ACT and United Future”.

Fairfax media reported at the time;

Key arrived by helicopter at the Tolaga Bay Area School and was welcomed onto Hauiti Marae with 15 Government MPs and the Speaker of the house David Carter.

National MPs seem to be acutely susceptible to shooting themselves in their own foot (in Mitchell’s case, as an ex-mercenary, that may be the literal truth).

Simon Bridges, Michael WoodhouseBill English, Steven Joyce, Judith Collins, and others, have all attempted to fling mud at Coalition ministers – only to have the fan blow it straight back into their own faces.

National’s members of parliament  have apparently forgotten a simple, salient fact: after nine years in government they each have plenty of skeletons in their own closets. Every time they point an accusatory finger at a Coalition minister – those same National MPs will be held to account for their own shortcomings, mistakes, abuses of ministerial power, and downright incompetance.

As I pointed out in November last year;

It may be the National Opposition that is held to account.

Meanwhile, we award National MP Mark Mitchell with this dubious distinction:

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Well done, champ. Hope the bullet-hole in your foot heels soon.

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Postscript

Latest info on former National politicians using RNZAF aircraft as a personal “Uber” service;

While the V8 Supercars were screaming around the streets of Hamilton, it was helicopters – such as one ferrying the Prime Minister – that were revving up residents.

[…]

The three helicopters hovering above Hamilton skies were unrelated to the event – a police helicopter on a pursuit, a Defence Force helicopter transporting Prime Minister John Key and his son to and from Auckland  and a random helicopter passing over.

The Prime Minister was  criticised by some at the time for using the air force Iriquois to transport him from  Waikato Stadium back to Auckland in time for a swanky Royal Auckland Golf Club dinner on April 16.

Hat-tip: “Roy“.

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References

Fairfax media:  Dear Mark Mitchell – New Zealand deserves answers, not insults, on war for profit

Mediaworks:  Ron Mark refutes claims he made personal use of military aircraft

NewstalkZB:  Defence Minister Ron Mark accused of using the Air Force as taxi service

TVNZ:  Defence Minister Ron Mark defends using military aircraft to get to and from home

Mediaworks: PM arrives on eve of funeral

Fairfax media:  Thousands gather for Horomia’s tangi

Fairfax media: Helicopters too noisy?

Additional

Mediaworks: Pansy Wong’s political future in jeopardy

Other Blogs

My Thinks:  Severe and extreme outrage expressed over Ron Mark’s use of a helicopter

The Daily Blog:  National’s Anti-Aircraft Fire At Ron Mark Proves To Be Blanks

Previous related blogposts

“Fool me once”…

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

Nats, Lies, and Videotape

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

National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk

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

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

But will he remember this helicopter flight in one year’s time?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 March 2018.

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

18 April 2016 5 comments

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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;

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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?

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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“;

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David Bennet - TPPA select committee hearing

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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]

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tim oshea - facebook - select committee comment and photo

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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.

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Appendix1

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

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Appendix2

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?

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Appendix3

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.)

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Acknowledgement

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

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References

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) (alt.link)

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

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Bamboozlement

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

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

24 August 2014 4 comments

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As the media storm over Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“,  and allegations over smear campaigns continue to swirl,  National’s spin doctors have given Key, Collins, and other National Party ministers a string of  phrases to use in all media interviews. The phrases are,

  • “Conspiracy theorist”
  • “Nicky Hager’s unproven allegations”
  • “Nicky Hager’s assumptions”
  • “Nicky Hager made them up”
  • “Nicky Hager can’t back  up his claims”
  • “Nicky Hager’s claims dissolving before his/our eyes”
  • “nothing to do with us”
  • “nothing to do with me”
  • “I don’t have details on that”
  • “I don’t know the details”
  • “I don’t know the context of all that”
  • “this is a smear campaign”
  • “briefing bloggers” (instead of leaking information)
  • “Slater is a force unto himself”
  • “Slater is a force of nature”
  • “Labour does that too”

When confronted with specific allegations, as with Guyon Espiner interviewing Key on ‘Morning Report’ (18 August), Key simply refused to engage and veered of on a side-issue or responded with , “I don’t have details on that”.

At no stage does Key or his ministers take responsibility. For anything. If anything is “dissolving”, it is Key’s much vaunted reputation for “transparency” and “high ministerial standards“.

Key and Collins have been instructed by their taxpayer-funded media minders  not to respond to specific issues raised by Nicky Hager, and instead keep the discussion generalised and vague. At that point, Key and Collins can respond with a general statement of “Nicky Hager’s unproven allegations“.

Recently, some in National have tried a new tactic – painting themselves as the “victims” of so-called “dirty tricks”. The new strategy  began on 15 August, with National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, making this extraordinary claim on his own blog;

I’ve either been hacked or spied on

August 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

I started reading more fully the book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.

Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.

I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.

I consider this outrageous, just as I hope people would if someone from the right infiltrated the offices of the Labour Party pollsters, to steal their material.

There is no public interest defence to the stealing of the material belonging to my clients. There was nothing sinister or inappropriate in it.  In fact one of the scripts detailed in the book is of some questions we did for Family First, who published the results on their website, including the full questions. But I know Hager has a copy of the script as he has quoted the question numbers, which are not included in the published results.

I do not accept that because I am a blogger, and my company has National as a client, it makes it all right for me to be hacked or spied on, and material stolen from me.

More…

This neat bit of propaganda aimed for two objectives

  1. It tried to deflect attention from Nicky Hager’s allegations of National’s abuse of ministerial power,
  2. It tried to show that “everyone is doing it, so no big deal” – a line that Key has repeated on several occassions.

A day later, interviewed on TV3, Cameron Slater told the world he had been the subject of death threats and  the victim of a hate campaign himself;

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Cameron Slater -  Death threats over 'Dirty Politics' - TV3 - Nicky Hager - Whaleoil - Jason Ede - John Jey

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“‘Cos I’ve got a torrent of death threats as a result of Mr Hager’s book…”

I’ve covered Slater’s claims in a previous blogpost, and raise questions about the truthfulness of those so-called “death-threats”.

A day later, on 17 August, Farrar repeated his belief that someone was spying on him;

But if you were tape recording my phone when I worked out that someone had planted a spy into my office (and one that appears to still have been there maybe just three weeks ago), then you would have heard me swearing and promising bloody retribution.

On the same day, the Herald ran a series of stories – all with one central theme, that National ministers, MPs, and even Slater were the “victims” of some secret conspiracy;

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kim dotcom hits back at cameron slater's claims

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom has denied another accusation by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater that he was responsible for hacking Slater’s blog website earlier this year.

“We all know by now that I had my emails hacked in February,” Slater posted this afternoon.

“We also know that David Farrar has had his intellectual property stolen, and that Mark Mitchell had his personal emails hacked and his office broken into.

“What I can also now reveal is that Tony Lentino, the businessman who formerly financially supported Kim Dotcom also had his office broken into.

“On top of that Travis who works for the blog was also hacked along with another media person who has been a vocal critic of Kim Dotcom.

“Until now we haven’t had the proof, only a bunch of dots to join but we now have the complete picture.”

More…

 .Judith Collins' husband targeted in burglary

The cabinet was held his laptop which had not been taken. Amounts of cash on left by staff on desks around the office had not been taken either.

“It seemed a very odd thing at the time and I presume that someone may have been interested in the information that was on that laptop” Ms Collins said.

More…

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MP burgled and hacked

In response to Herald on Sunday inquiries, Mitchell confirmed:

• His parliamentary office in Wellington was broken into on September 16 last year. Police investigated and swept the office for bugs but none was found.

• His Rodney constituency office in Orewa was broken into in early October and a laptop and two phones were taken. Police investigated but no arrests have been made.

• His personal email was hacked.

More…

Now, call me a sceptic, and perish the thought that politicians are even remotely capable of lying… but… yeaaaah, nah.

All of this is just way to convenient to be happening now.  Let’s cut to the chase and call it what it is; this is tin-foil hat stuff. In effect, the Nats are suggesting that a Vast Left-wing Conspiracy (VLC) of operatives trained in break-ins; bugging; tapping; etc, are conducting a covert programme of intel-gathering against National.

Am I right?

And Labour, no doubt is part of this VLC?

The same Labour whose IT experts left gaping security holes in their party computer, allowing Aaron Bhatnagar, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, and the local Young National Komsomol Brigade to go wandering through, collecting data on donors, credit cards, email addresses, etc, etc, etc?!

Is that the same Labour party?

Well, I have a few questions myself…

  1. Judith Collins  claims that her husband’s office was burgled and his laptop “accessed”, but not stolen. Was a complaint laid with the Police? What is the Police Case Number? And what was the result?
  2. Rodney MP claims his email hacked. Where is the evidence for this and why has the GCSB not been able to determine the culprits? Considering the hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money spent on the Bureau with all their considerable hardware and trained staff – they can’t locate the culprits?
  3. Mark Mitchell also claims that his  parliamentary office in Wellington was broken into on September 16 last year. Mitchell further states  that  Police investigated and “swept the office for bugs but none were found”. September 16 last year was a Monday – Parliamentary staff would have been present, and no one saw anything out of the ordinary?

More important though is that access to Parliament and it’s inner offices is strictly controlled.

First, a visitor has to proceed through security at all main doors, where everyone is screened via metal-detectors.

Then you sign-in.

Access to offices is permitted via swipe-cards, and is monitored by Parliamentary Services – as Fairfax media journalist Andrea Vance found out the hard way, last year;

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Spy scandal journalist speaks out

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If Mitchell’s office was “broken into”, the culprit(s) had to make their way past security; through metal detectors; past National Party staffers;  through coridor and office doors. and past his secretary – all  controlled by swipe cards.

I don’t think so.

It all seems  too… convenient.

Ironically, our esteemed Dear Leader – who has “never been caught out bending the truth or outright lying” – is accusing investigative journalist Nicky Hager of  being a “conspiracy theorist”.

The only conspiracy theorising appears to be emanating from National’s inner hierarchy.

There is simply no Vast Left-wing Conspiracy. (If there is, I have yet to receive my invitation.)

Postscript

MP Mark Mitchell is a client of National Party apparatchik, Simon Lusk – one of central characters in the Cameron Slater-David Farrar-Jordan Williams cabal outlined by Nicky Hager.

The MPs to whom Mr Lusk has been a campaign adviser in the past include Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and former list MP Aaron Gilmore.

And of course we know the close relationship between Judith Collins and Cameron Slater.

Mark Mitchell. Judith Collins. Simon Lusk… and Cameron Slater.

There were no break ins.

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References

Radio NZ:  Listen to the full interview with John Key on Morning report ( 11 min 3 sec )

Beehive.govt.nz: Speech to the New Zealand China Partnership Forum

John Key.co.nz: Prime Minister accepts Minister’s resignation

Kiwiblog: I’ve either been hacked or spied on

Kiwiblog: People sometimes say jerky things in e-mails

NZ Herald: Kim Dotcom hits back at Slater’s claims

NZ Herald: Judith Collins’ husband targeted in burglary

NZ Herald: MP burgled and hacked

Fairfax media: Spy scandal journalist speaks out

Hawkes Bay Today: Concern about Hawke’s Bay mans influence in Nats

Previous related blogposts

Death threats made to rightwing blogger?

Other Blogs

Public Address: Confidential information: the legal rights and wrongs

Public Address: Dirty Politics

Polity: National and Labour’s membership data

Gordon Campbell on Nicky Hager’s new book

Bowalley Road: Closing Our Eyes In The Sausage Factory: Some Thoughts On Nicky Hager’s Book, “Dirty Politics”

The Standard: Rob Gilchrist On Nicky Hager

The Standard: Was a crime committed when Slater accessed Labour’s computer system?

The Daily Blog: Hager’s Dirty Politics – Death threats or hit jobs?

Kiwipolitico: Ducking for Cover

Pundit: Dirty Politics: The battle of the metaphors

Pundit: The politics of vilification

Pundit: A crazy day in dirty ol’ NZ politics

Imperator Fish: Cameron Slater is the real victim

Porcupine Farm: Why My Next Printer Will Be An Epson

Porcupine Farm: #TEAMKEY2

The Jackal: Death threats and Dirty Politics

The Jackal: Nicky Hager – Hero of the Week

The Jackal: National’s death by association

Recommended reading

The Jackal: The real nasty bloggers


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 August 2014

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Nats, Lies, and Videotape

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backbencheslogo

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National MP, Mark  Mitchell, was a  guest on  Prime TV’s  “Backbenches” on 1 May, along with   Damien O’Connor (Labour Party); Jan Logie (Green Party), and Peter Dunne (Peter Dunne Party).

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Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell

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Usual political rah-rah, blah blah, from the Tory politician, until he came up with this throwaway remark,

We inherited ten years of deficits from the previous Labour Government...”

Now, quite simply, anyone with a passing knowledge of  Labour’s  fiscal record during their term in office from 2000 to 2008 will know that is a blatantly untrue comment.

In fact, it’s bullshit.

Under Labour, Government Debt to GDP dropped from 31.4% of GDP to 17.4%.

Government debt did indeed rise – under National, as the graph below amply demonstrates;

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New Zealand Government Debt To GDP

Acknowledge: Trading Economics/NZ Treasury

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National’s government  debt is now twice as high as when Labour left office in 2008.

Some will even recall that Labour Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, posted several surpluses during his tenure as Finance Minister – reaching $7.9 billion by 2007;

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$2,300,000,000: Dr Cullen’s finest hour (29 May 2002)

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Cullen prepares to trumpet high surplus (21 Feb 2003)

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Cullen Unwilling To Share Fiscal Surplus Through Tax Cuts (18 Oct 2004)

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Hide attacks Cullen for hiding huge surplus (16 March 2005)

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Record surplus, but Cullen ‘won’t know about tax cuts until December’ (11 Oct 2006)

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Cullen confirms huge surplus (10 Oct 2007)

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Cullen quick to emphasise volatility after surplus hit (19 Feb 2008)

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Just as well that Cullen resisted strident calls for massive tax cuts. Instead, perhaps being the wisest man in the decade, realised that common sense demanded that we pay down our sovereign debt, rather than splurge out on an almighty cash-lolly scramble.

Mitchell should know all this. He probably does. In which case we can only wonder if  he was perpetuating a right wing lie about Labour’s track record.

If Mitchell isn’t aware of the reality of  Labour record whilst in government, then he is woefully ignorant.

And, as pointed out above,  is Mitchell aware the govenment debt under National watch has doubled from 17.4% in 2008 (left by Labour) to 37% (generated by National)? Having to borrow billions to pay for two unaffordable tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 certainly did not help (see: Govt borrowing $380m a week ).

Let’s ask Mr Mitchell, shall we?

Date: Fri  3 May 2013,  at 12.09pm
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Budget surpluses and deficits
To: Mark Mitchel <mark.mitchell@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>, NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
    Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>,
    Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
    Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>,
    Kim Hill <saturday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Chris Laidlaw RNZ <sunday@radionz.co.nz>

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Kia ora Mr Mitchell,

Recently, on 1 May, you made a statement on Prime TV’s “Backbenches” to the effect,

“We inherited ten years of deficits from the previous Labour Government…”

I was surprised that you would make such a comment.

Are you aware that under Labour, Government Debt to GDP dropped from 31.4% of GDP to 17.4%?

https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/new-zealand-government-debt-to-gdp.png

Government debt rose thereafter, from 17.4% in 2008 to  37% – generated by your government.

Labour’s surpluses were well publicised in media reports, reaching $7.9 billion by 2007,

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$2,300,000,000: Dr Cullen’s finest hour (29 May 2002)

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Cullen prepares to trumpet high surplus (21 Feb 2003)

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Cullen Unwilling To Share Fiscal Surplus Through Tax Cuts (18 Oct 2004)

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Hide attacks Cullen for hiding huge surplus (16 March 2005)

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Record surplus, but Cullen ‘won’t know about tax cuts until December’ (11 Oct 2006)

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Cullen confirms huge surplus (10 Oct 2007)

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Cullen quick to emphasise volatility after surplus hit (19 Feb 2008)

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Can you explain how you’ve managed to turn a near-decade of surpluses, and paying down sovereign debt, into “ten years of deficits from the previous Labour Government”?

It is obvious that your statement on Labour’s fiscal track record was somewhat  in error.

Will you be issuing a media  correction on this issue? If not, why not?

Please note that any statement you provide  may be published in a blog.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

This blogpost will be updated  upon Mr Mitchell’s response.

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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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