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Posts Tagged ‘Michell Boag’

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound…

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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… coming from the noddy-car that is the National Government.

So far this year

We saw the resignation of Nick Smith;  Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully blaming his own Ministry for enforcing government mandated budget and staffing cuts;   Minister Banks with worsening Alzheimers; as well as other bad-news and cock-ups for National…

When McCully  discovered a planned million-dollar upgrade of our Tokyo Embassy,  he was not a happy chappy,

It runs expressly against the instruction I gave some weeks ago that at a time when people were having to have their jobs reappraised for the ministry, we should cut back the capital expenditure budgets and significant maintenance to bare essentials only.”

Oh? Mr McCully issued “instructions“? So the cuts to MFAT’s budget and staffing was a Ministerial directive, and not an initiative by MFAT  chief executive John Allen because he was bored and had nothing to do on a Friday afternoon??

If I understand Murray McCully correctly, the fact that National has cut 2,500 jobs thus far from the State Sector – has nothing to do with proposed staff cuts at MFAT?!

Because that’s the inescapable conclusion from media reporting of Murray McCully, such as this Radio NZ piece,

Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully is criticising his own ministry for cost-cutting measures he says he disapproves of.

The measures – unveiled a month ago in a bid to save $25 million a year – will now be revised.

One of the ministry’s ideas was the outsourcing of jobs to contracting agencies.

But Mr McCully says that would not work in many places where New Zealand is represented, such as the Pacific Islands.”

Well, obviously. I wonder how many advisers it took to come up with the blindingly obvious?!

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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The furore over the ACC continues to simmer, and  so far involves,

  • Files mistakenly emailed  to ACC clientBronwyn Pullar,
  • Nick Smith’s letters to ACC to help friend and National Party activist Bronwyn Pullar,
  • Ex-National Party president, Michell Boag’s involvement,
  • Ms Pullar’s name and details leaked to the media by ???
  • Claims and counter-claims of demands/offers for a ACC benefit to be paid to Ms Pullar,
  • Nick Smith’s resignation,
  • Ms Pullar’s public letter expressing her “regret” at Dr Smith’s political demise,
  • Calls for a full Inquiry by Labour, The Greens, and by Nick Smith himself!
  • Lyn Provost, the Auditor-General  says she is “considering requests for an independent inquiry”.
  • And Bronwyn Pullar’s recording of her meeting with ACC, which shows that ACC misrepresented what was said between the two parties. Extraordinary!

Whilst this blogger has no time for the National Party and it’s proven illicit love-affair  with  cronyism; nor it’s disastrous economic and social policies – that does not diminish a sense of fair play. If Dr Nick Smith requests an Inquiry, then in all fairness there should be one.

It is heartening to see the Auditor General becoming involved.  Dr Smith and all  New Zealanders deserve this most basic aspect of justice. We need to know what the hell is going on.

As for Dear Leader stating that he sees no reason for an Inquiry,

“”Everyone has moved on…”

Yes, well, Key would say that, wouldn’t he? Especially if, as many suspect, there is much more to this story than we’ve been made aware.

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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In March, John Key announced that local bodies would be constrained by a new law to fund “core business” only. When asked what a “core business” was – he couldn’t say – but it would be a “broad focus“.

Nick Smith then complicated matters by saying that the words “social” and “environmental” were being removed from the broad focus, and that “ it was clear councils had an important social role and environmental role through the Resource Management Act“.

Well that’s clear. As clear as a Rotorua mud-pool.

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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Finance Minister, Bill English, has conceded that partial-privatisation of Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River, Solid Energy, and further sell-down of Air New Zealand might result in the government having to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in those SOEs.  But that’s ok, because English said,

You’re looking at over the next three or four years growth in the Crown balance sheet net value of 20 or 25 billion dollars, so a few hundred million here and there is not acutally that big a commitment.

Oh, that’s ok then;  “…a few hundred million here and there is not acutally that big a commitment “, eh?

It’s a pity that English isn’t quite as generous with ” a few hundred million here and therefor sufferers of Pompe’s Disease – who have a life threatening disease – and are campaigning for National to fund life-saving medicines for half a dozen people in the country. The cost would be far less, and would save lives.

Is saving lives enough of a  “big committment“, I wonder?

After all, in 2008, Key campaigned on over-riding Pharmac’s purchase-policy on herceptin, to make it  available for a longer period of time. But that was 2008 – Election Year. Things tend to be a bit different Election Time.

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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Nearly two months ago, in his 15 March “State of the Nation” speech, John Key announced that his Party had “four priorities this term”. Then, because four is not enough, he stated that he wanted “10 areas” that would be targetted by National.  Which, of course, is still less than the “economic action plan with the 120 key things“…

Personally, I’m hanging out for the 1,000-Point Uber-Plan to Conquor the Universe… [cue: Darth Vader’s Imperial March]

So what is Dear Leader’s Master Plan to bring fiscal salvation and neo-liberal nirvana to our islands?

Well…

We’ve brought the Ministry of Fisheries, MAF and the Food Safety Authority together to make the new Ministry for Primary Industries…”

Huzzah!

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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After two tax cuts; sacking 2,500 state sector workers; reforming/restructuring/re-anything government departments; the 90 day employment trial-period law; cutting social services; and turning a blind eye to employers attempting to force Unions out of workplaces – what have we got to show for ?

Unemployment is back up to 6.7%.

That’s right, folks; National is implementing classical neo-liberal policies, as per doctrinal orthodoxy,  and still economic growth is low and unemployment is increasing, not decreasiing.

This isn’t what the Friendmanites promised us!

On top of that, youth unemployment (definied as between 15 to 24 age bracket) has risen from 58,000 last year – to a disturbing 83,000 this year. When questioned on this rise, Welfare Minister Paula Bennet said,

We’ve been supporting them. We’ve seen that the number of youth unemployed come down.

That’s right, folks, you haven’t mis-read it: Paula Bennet considers an increase of 25,000 as “youth unemployed coming down”.

However, she was gracious enough to admit a simple truth the the rest of the country already knew,

“… There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.”

Which then begs the question; if there aren’t enough jobs – what is the point of National’s proposed welfare “reforms”?!?! What good will come of  “reforming” welfare when welfare ain’t broke – the job market is?!

But then again, this is the same government that sacked 2,500 state sector workers to cut back on the $74.2 billion debt that National has incurred since 2008.  How much has National “saved” by sacking 2,500 workers?

$20 million.

That’s 10% of the .2 billion figure previously mentioned.

If it weren’t for the tragedy of workers having lost their jobs because of this mickey mouse government, I’d be laughing my arse off at that.

  • $74.2 billion in debt.
  • 2,500 men and women lost their jobs.
  • $20 million ‘saved’.
  • *facepalm*

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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Unemployment is up – 160,000, at last count, and National is shown to have little in the way of job creation policies. According to  National, job creation is the prerogative of the free market – not central government.

When National  does become  involved, it is  a weird, mutant-form of   “Think Big”,  consisting  of mining on conservation estates (hugely unpopular); deep-sea drilling (perceived as dangerous by the public); and building a convention centre in Auckland (raising eyebrows).

The problem with the latter is that Sky City wants a quid-pro-quo. If they win the contract to build a $350 million convention centre they want legislation amended to permit an extra  350 – 500  pokies and/or gaming tables. Legislation-for-sale, as some call it.

This is viewed with concern by some – and outright dismay or hostility by others. New Zealand already has a considerable  social problem with  gambling addiction, affecting many families and communities.

John Key attempted to sooth community concerns by stating,

In a casino they are in a better environment say than attached to a pub deliberating targeting low income people in South Auckland.” – Source

By now, people tend to view Key’s assertions with a  generous measure of  suspicion. He has previously demonstrated a willingness to ‘bend the truth‘ when it suits him. So claiming that “casinos are a better environment” went down like a pool of cold vomit on a Courtney Place footpath, after a normal Friday night.

The issue was not helped when Sky City boss, chief executive Nigel Morrison, asserted that,

The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult.” – Source

Yes, Mr Morrison, it is difficult getting that across. Difficult because it is rubbish.

The actual facts surrounding problem gambling is;

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POKIES v LOTTO

Number of problem gamblers seeking help for:

2011:
* Pub gaming machines:  681
* Casino electronic gaming machines:  100
* Casino tables/cards:  57
* Lotto:  6

2010:
* Pub gaming machines:  693
* Casino electronic gaming machines:  91
* Casino tables/cards:  64
* Lotto:  0
(First time callers, Gambling Helpline New Zealand Report for National Statistics)

Source: NZ Herald,  Experts trash ‘Lotto danger’ claim

See also:  Problem gambler numbers swell at SkyCity

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Soon after,  Key put his Prime  Ministerial foot in it, by revealing that the Sky City pokies-for-convention-centre deal was his bright idea,

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“. – Source

As this blogger pointed out, in a previous blogpiece, Key seems to be in a habit of doing deals in “informal social settings”; Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How. It is not the first time that Dear Leader has stitched up a deal over a few drinks and nibbles.

This may be how business is done in Wall St or City of London – but not in any Westminster-style Parliament. The word dodgy springs to mind.

And that, folks, is the rep that Dear Leader seems unwittingly to be creating for himself;  dodgy.

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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And then, we come to the players of the next National Guvmint drama-farce,

  • Kim Dotcom
  • John Key
  • Maurice Williamson
  • Sky City Casino
  • and our favourite ACT MP (actually, our only ACT MP) – John Banks!

ACT MP and Leader is in serious trouble over donations he received from Sky City Casino (2010) and Kim Dotcom (last year).  The problem for Banks is,

  1. Why did he declare the $15,000 donation from Sky City as anonymous – when Len Brown – who received the same amount – declared Sky City as the donor on his Electoral Return?
  2. Has  John Banks change his views on gambling after the $50,000 donation from Sky City and will he vote to allow Sky City to install 350-500 new pokies?
  3. How does one forget a helicopter ride?
  4. How could John Banks have had time to seek legal advice regarding  speaking to the media, when the first conversation with John Campbell, on TV3, on 27 April, 7pm, could not possibly have allowed him the chance to phone his lawyer(s)?
  5. If Banks didn’t know that Dotcom had donated $50,000 to his mayoral fund in 2010 – why did he phone Dotcom to thank him?
  6. How does Banks reconcile his initial statement of “barely knowing” Dotcom and “having met him” for only 20 minutes – when he met the web entrepreneur four times; attended a Party with him; raised a toast in Dotcom’s honour; and then had Big Man Hugs with our Germanic cuzzy afterwards?!

As for our esteemed Dear Leader, here are some questions for him,

  1. Why has Key set the bar so low for Banks, when he stood down Richard Worth, Phil Heatley, and Pansy Wong whilst they were being investigated? Phil Heatley was stood down over two bottles of wine, for gods’ sakes!
  2. Majority of 15 – good; majority of 1 – bad?
  3. What is Key’s new definition of “ethics” – and is it a ‘dynamic situation’; “There is quite a wide definition of ethics“.
  4. How on Earth does John Key arrive at the conclusion that he trusts Banks’ word when, (a) Banks’ story has been changing/evolving/mutating  since 27 April, (b) nothing that Dotcom has alleged has been disproven, and,  (c) Key has not even personally met with Banks to discuss this issue?

The last item is perhaps the most bizarre of this entire ‘Pythonesque‘ affair; John Key has admitted to the media that he has not met John Banks to discuss this issue, and nor has he directly asked Banks for an explanation!?!?

Instead, Key has stated that he has left the matter for his Chief  of Staff,

Key said his chief of staff has received assurance from Banks that he paid for all expenses on the trip.” – Source

It’s not like John Key has been too busy to meet Banksie;  “John Key reveals his dream job“,

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Mr Key was interviewed by a group of year six students during a visit to Lower Hutt’s Eastern Hutt School this afternoon, and answered a range of questions stretching from his exercise regime, to what he carries in his pockets at all times.
When asked about the most rewarding aspect of his job, Mr Key said he got to do quite a lot of “cool things”.
“In about three weeks I’m going to London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and I’m going on the boat with the Queen … and I get to have lots of free food,” he told the students.

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Ok, so Dear Leader and his political advisors reckon that by not meeting Banks face-to-face and avoiding  directly asking awkward questions, that Key can keep his hands clean?!

If they truly believe that, then they are seriously deluded. If/when more sh*t hits the fan, or Police prosecute Banks, then the media will be all over John Key, demanding to know why the Prime Minister avoided his responsibilties in the first place.

Got a ready-made answer waiting for that curly one, Teflon John?

John Key is playing a dangerous political game here, and has backed himself into a corner should the Banks-Dotcom-Sky City affair worsen.

By not confronting Banks,  he will be seen  by the public as  having abrogated his duty as Prime Minister. He may have to smile and wave a bit harder to get out of that particular pickle…

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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National has decided to be magnanimous and spare Ambrose Bradley from the chopping block; they will not be seeking court costs from the cameraman.

Ambrose Bradley flared into brilliance in the public consciousness last year when his recording device was discovered on the cafe table where John Key was enjoying a quiet cuppa tea with John Banks. Along with thirty-plus media reporters, photographers, cameramen, etc. It was all very ‘cosy‘…

… until the recording device was discovered; allegations of deliberate spying were made against Mr Ambrose;  complaints were laid with the Police; and media offices around the country were raided by Darth Vader’s Stormtroopers searching for a little droid Police armed with search warrants,

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It never went anywhere, of course. No one was arrested or prosecuted. The only ‘crime’ committed was  an assault against the sensibilities of Epsom voters – but unfortunately our law books are silent on such matters. Pity.

So it was quietly dropped, and an appeal to the Supreme Court by Mr Ambrose was inconclusive – though the bill for it was not. National contemplated seeking court costs – $13,600 – from Mr Ambrose.

It was an exercise in petty  vindictiveness by National – much like Paula Bennett mis-using the personal files of two solo-mothers, when they dared criticise the Minister of Social Welfare.

Make no mistake – there was no point whatsoever in unleashing the paramilitary arm of The State onto media and one lone journalist. This was Latin American/Middle East/former Soviet republic stuff. It was a naked mis-use of  Police  power with the aim of coercing people into silence and submission.

The most tragic aspect of this entire fiasco is that many/most National Party apologists and their low-information support-voters  approve of what took place. (Hell, some of them would probably approve of a One Party police state – as long as it was National that was the One Party, and ‘not those other fullas‘.)

That is the single thing that saddens me the most. That some of my fellow New Zealanders have a closet, quasi-fascist streak within them.

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Frankly Speaking - Blog - Frank Macskasy

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On a more positive note, as the wheels of the National government are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink‘ sound coming from under the Party bonnet, the public are beginning to wake up to the ‘lemon’ that they’ve been sold. National is not the finely-tuned, high-performance sports-car they were presented with last year, at the Election Show Rooms.

Instead, it’s an old ‘clunker‘, with a second-hand motor,  and it’s about to be written off the road.

It’s replacement, a two-tone red-green model is bound to be an improvement.

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Other Blogs

Fearfactsexposed:  Key’s budget spin gets another free ride on stuff.co.nz

Pundit:  National 101: How to hate debt & raise it at the same time

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