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Posts Tagged ‘Mojo Mathers’

Know your Tory fellow travellers and ideologues: John Bishop, Taxpayers Union, and the NZ Herald

25 April 2014 7 comments

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Taxpayers Union website banner

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On 19 March, I reported on the Board members of the so-called “Taxpayers Union”. With one exception, every single member of the Taxpayers Union Board was a current (or recent) card-carrying member or supporter of the National and/or ACT parties.

Recently, one of the Board members of the so-called “Taxpayers Union” – John Bishop – had a letter-to-the-editor published in Wellington’s Dominion Post;

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John Bishop_taxpayers Union_21 march 2014_dominion post

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Bishop’s ideological rant on performance pay for teachers is stock-standard ACT policy – a Party he was closely associated with between April 2000 and August 2002, as a Constituency Services Manager  for the ACT Parliamentary Office. His role was described as  “developing relationships with key target groups and organising events” – whatever that might mean.

The job was most likely funded through Parliamentary Services. (One hopes that he delivered “value for money”?)

Bishop’s ideological and Party links are nowhere better illustrated than the recent (and on-going) scandal over Judith Collins and the “Oravida stop-over dinner”. When the “Taxpayers Union” finally caved in to pressure to comment on Collins’ trip to China, Bishop wrote with a fair dollop of sophistry;

Being involved in political activity makes it tempting to comment on each and every movement in the political dimension. Early on, the Taxpayers’ Union decided that it would focus on instances of waste and extravagance in central and local government spending, and on cases where spending had clearly not achieved its purpose.

Hence we criticised Tony Marriott of the Christchurch City Council for charging a visit to Hooters’ Bar to his council funded credit card. And we decried Transpower for spending over a million dollars on a swept up cafeteria in its building for staff when there are plenty of cafes within easy walking distance. 

We also decided that, generally speaking, we would not go after what politicians’ poor performance, bad decisions, and questionable judgements unless there were circumstances to justify our intervention. Much of that is partisan debate and we were simply not going to get involved in every public issue, particularly when there were plenty of others making the same points as we would make.

Yes, that makes us look selective in our criticism, but we have taken on Peter Dunne over the cost of passports, and Len Brown over Auckland’s debt burden. We were also quick to point out that Hekia Parata’s inquiry into the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust asked questions about the wrong body, but we have stood back from the row over Judith Collin’s trip to China. 

In the first matter large sums of public money are involved and the misuse of funds is alleged. In the second, the cost of the Collins trip is not large, and her “crime” is not about the misuse of money. It may be a fine distinction, particularly for those who wish to attack us for existing at all, but it is a real one.

Contributors to our blog pages and tip line are constantly urging us to get involved in issues, whether it’s the funding of programmes promoting recreation and sport, the operation of the ACC scheme, the worth of the defence forces, or whatever else is on their minds.  We would love to be able to question policy matters, and to test whether a wide range of policies actually deliver on their objectives and represent value for taxpayers’ money.

It’s early days.  We only launched in October and we are still reliant to a large degree on volunteer time. Because of that we’re focused on exposing instances of clearly bad, mad and wasted spending – until we have built up our resources to do more.  Our record shows that we’re not favouring one party or another. For example, our exposé of the DOC IT cost blowout is precisely why we were established.

Waste and poor spending are our targets, not people and or partisanship.”

Bishop says that “the cost of the Collins trip is not large”.

According to media reports, Judith Collins’ junket to China cost taxpayers $36,000.

Contrast that to Mojo Mathers’ trip to Masterton, to participate in a radio station’s programme for people with disabilities. Cost to taxpayers – an estimated $550, according a NZ Herald story.

Jordan Williams, from the “Taxpayers Union” was scathing on Ms Mathers’ trip;

It’s amazing that she has so little to do with her time to actually travel to a community radio that probably has as many listeners as you can count on your hand.  The only silver lining is that the time spent travelling to go on the station in the middle of nowhere is less time spent dreaming up new ways to spend tax payers money.”

So according to the “Taxpayers Union”,  $36,000 “is not large” – but $550 was worthy of the scorn and wrath of the same, self-proclaimed “champions of the taxpayer”?

Is this what Bishop meant when he asserted; “waste and poor spending are our targets, not people and or partisanship”?

There is little doubt that Bishop and his fellow Board members in the “Taxpayers Union” are little more than a front organisation for the National/ACT parties.

For the media to constantly refer to this group for commentary on issues – on the pretext that the “Taxpayers Union” is some kind of  credible, non-partisan, neutral source – is ludicrous and deceiving the public.

Going further, by not explaining and disclosing the “Taxpayers Union’s” ties to National and ACT, the media reinforces suspicions or perceptions that it has become a captured tool; a mouthpiece for the Key government.

It is time that the mainstream media reconsidered it’s policy to seek comment from the “Taxpayers Union” on any and all issues.  The “Taxpayers Union” has demonstrated by it’s highly politicised membership and it’s failure at  any measure of non-partisanship, that it cannot be trusted to deliver unbiased commentary.

This group is simply no longer credible.

When journalists fail to report the “Union’s” close links to National and ACT, the media is complicit in this dishonest charade.

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References

Taxpayers Union: Who we are

Finda.co.nz: John Bishop Communicator

ACT Party: Confidence and Supply Agreement with ACT New Zealand

Johnbishop.co.nz: Bill English – Minister of Infrastructure

Advisoryboards.co.nz:  Curriculum Vitae: John Bishop – Advisory Boards NZ

Taxpayers Union: John Bishop on Judith Collins

TVNZ: Judith Collins faces third week of questioning over Chinese trip

NZ Herald: Green MP’s 800km taxpayer-funded trip questioned

Previous Related Blogposts

A Query to the Taxpayers Union

A Query to the Taxpayers Union – ***UP DATE ***

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Other Blogs

The Dim Post: Slightly more thoughts on the Taxpayers’ Union

The Daily Blog – Chris Trotter: Dispelling The Negatives: Judith Collins refuses to cry over spilt milk

 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2014.

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11 June – Issues of Interest

11 June 2013 7 comments

A look at issues that’ve hit the headlines (or not)…

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Looking at the pieces

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Hekia Parata – grasping at straws

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National standards pass rates rise

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – National standards pass rates rise

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So let me get this straight. After only one year of National Standards – which is supposedly nothing more than  a means of measurement – Parata is claiming that ” new figures show students are doing better at reading, writing and maths”?!?!

Even die-hard National sycophants would look askance at the claim.

Parata is so desperate for good news that she’s willing to invent it. Some call it “political spin”. In the Real World, we refer to it as bullshitting.

However, the above Radio NZ report is sadly lacking in detail.

The NZ Herald headline was far more realistic and damning;  Parata: Concerning trends in National Standards data.  In the Herald piece, Parata concedes the reason for a slight increase in increased achievement,

We have a range of support in place to help children including Reading Recovery, Reading Together and targeted programmes to accelerate progress in reading, writing and mathematics.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

So it wasn’t ‘National Standards’ that have increased achievement. It’s the hard work of teachers in classrooms slogging their guts out and implementing “Reading Recovery, Reading Together and targeted programmes to accelerate progress in reading, writing and mathematics”.

Well, that’s nice to know.

Even Parata acknowledgment the role of teachers in raising achievement;

It’s a credit to our teaching profession to see progress being made child by child and school by school.”

So, nothing to do with National Standards then, Hekia? As usual, it’s the professional’s quietly working away in the background, while you trot out unworkable policies and spin bullshit to make it look good?

Got it.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Time for some Frankly Speaking Standards Report  Card:

Teachers: A+

Parata’s spin: F – fail

Radio NZ’s reporting: C – can do better

Winston Peters and those emails

Up until the weekend, Winston Peters has been straight-forward in his responses to media questions on the Dunne-Kitteridge Report-Vance Affair. Peters claims to have possession/access of Peter Dunne’s incriminating emails.

Since the weekend, however, his “yes” and “no” answers have given way to evasiveness and obfuscation. No more straight “yes” or “no” answers.

Peters ‘performance’ on Campbell Live yesterday (10 June) was a frustrating exercise in typical Peters evasiveness to straight forward questions. At one point, John Campbell brought up Peters sharply when the wily old politician tried to pull a ‘swiftie’,

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TV3 - Campbell Live 10 June 2013 (at  7.50)

Acknowledgment: TV3 – Campbell Live 10 June 2013 (at  7.50)

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This morning (11 June), Peters was no better on Radio NZ’s Morning Report, giving Simon Mercep the royal runaround. Listen: Radion NZ – Morning Report –  Winston Peters bats away PM’s suggestion of a bluff

Conclusion? Peters does not have the emails in his possession. If he had them;

  1. His answers would be more decisive (you can tell when Peters is bending the truth)
  2. He would be drip-feeding them to the media by now

As our American cuzzies so poetically put it, he ain’t got nuthin‘,

 

Kim Hill on Morning Report

Listening to Kim Hill interviewing political figures on Radio NZ’s Morning Report is simply electrifying. The woman has more  journalistic talent than those on Q+A, The Nation, Third Degree, et al, combined. She holds nothing back.

Check out her interview with John Key on  10 June on Morning ReportJohn Key responds to claims from Winston Peters

Powerful stuff. Excellent interviewing.

John Armstrong; the NZ Herald,Greens, and media voice for the Nats

Ever wondered what a state-sponsored media voice would be like?

Check out John Armstrong’s pro-National spin on the recent Green Party conference and his petty bagging of Russell Norman. More here, on The Daily Blog;  Sparks fly with yet more shocking right wing nuttery

Armstrong hasn’t got a leg to stand on to criticise The Greens, so he focuses on the most trivial, pointless, and childish issues to pick on. This isn’t  media independence – this is being a mouth-piece for the National Party. It’s Soviet-era Pravda and Izveztia, right here in New Zealand.

 

Demeaning rubbish.

John Key, GCSB, Prism, and denials

As reported in the NZ Herald today, Key denied using the “Prism” system to circumvent New  Zealand law to gather information on New Zealanders,

“I can’t tell you how the United States gather all of their information, what techniques they use, I just simply don’t know. But if the question is do we use the United States or one of our other partners to circumvent New Zealand law then the answer is categorically no.”

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – Key: No GCSB legal loophole

Whut?

And remind us all, Mr Key, why we should believe you?

Especially when we already know that the GCSB has spied on 88 New Zealanders, despite  Section 14 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 distinctly prohibiting such activities on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. (See related blogpost: The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!)

As well, John Key’s reputation for  brain-fades, mis-representing facts, and outright lying,  is now legendary.

I wouldn’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

And finishing on a positive note…

Bryan Bruce on his Facebook page, Inside Child Poverty New Zealand, today wrote,

I don’t know about you but I ‘m getting really tired of people who say “Yes … but.” They agree something is a good idea … but find a reason for justifying their inactivity.

Yes.. paid parental leave is a good idea… but we can’t afford it.

Yes feeding our kids healthy meals at school is a good idea … but.. it’s too expensive….

No it’s not. It’s about priorities.

Do you want mothers to be able to look after their babies or force them to earn a few dollars so that strangers can look after them?

Do you want Roads of National Significance or Children of National significance?

No more Yes… buts.

If it’s YES..if it’s morally right… if it’s sensible… then let’s just do it.

And Yes we can find the money for these things … we could put Company tax back up to 30%, we could make more effort catching tax cheats who rob us of up to 5 Billion dollars a year ( any idea how that happened Mr Dunne?) we could put a tax on all non-personal Bank transactions and get companies run by Charitable Trusts to pay tax on their profits and apply for rebates on the good works the ACTUALLY do.

Just say Yes… no more buts please.

Acknowledgment: Inside Child Poverty New Zealand

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10 June – Issues of Interest

10 June 2013 1 comment

A look at issues that’ve hit the headlines (or not)…

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Looking at the pieces

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Beware of Think Tanks bearing “solutions”

Ex-politician and right wing ‘pundit’ Michael Bassett appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A on 9 June 2013, promoting something called the ” Priced Out” study (see: TVNZ – Q+A –  Dr Michael Bassett on housing affordability)

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New Zealand Initiative - Business Roundtable

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The report blamed local government bodies for being part of something called  the “compact cities cult” and supposedly being unduly restrictive in zoning policies that would free up land for development to build more housing.

Having compact, dense inner cities is fine but often that is prioritised at the expense of urban development. Most people want to live in suburbs.”

Sourse: New Zealand Initiative – Priced Out

One of the report authors, Luke Malpass, stated,

Malpass also notes that the peak of new homes in the 1970s was fuelled by government welfare policies after World War II that subsidised and promoted house construction.

“The New Zealand Government basically printed money for about 50 years to pay for those policies, which is why no-one is really considering them now.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media –  Cult of compact living blamed for high prices

Interesting comments… And they sounded strangely familiar. The ‘tut-tutting’ of State investment in housing; criticism of local body regulation;  the promotion of free market “solutions”…

Who/what is the “New Zealand Initiative” I wondered?

Why, it’s no less than a reincarnation of the right-wing NZ Business Roundtable, merged with the right-wing ‘think tank’, the  New Zealand Institute. (see:  Roundtable and NZ Institute morph into new libertarian think tank)

Well that explains where Bassett and Malpass are coming from – a far-right “think tank” that advocates more lunatic “reforms” that would benefit the top 1% in this country.

Yes, we have a housing shortage in this country.

But as per usual, right-wing fanatics find others to blame for the failure of the marketplace to meet social needs. The New Right steadfastly  refuse to take any responsibility for the failure of their screwy policies – the ones that have been in place since 1984.

It’s funny how the Q+A programme and Fairfax report both neglected to inform the viewer/reader that this was a product of the Business Roundtable.

And by the way, why did the BRT change it’s name?

Perhaps because the “Business Roundtable  brand” is somewhat tarnished?!

See also:

Evening Post: Poor better off than before: Kerr (7 Nov 1996)

Otago Daily Times:  Poor not poorer, Kerr (12 June 1999)

NZPA – Kiwis urged to take responsibility – 12 August 1999

National cares? Whodathunk it???

From the Dominion Post on 28 May, 2013,

Mr Key told the National Party’s northern conference  at the weekend that it was a “myth” that the party did not care about the less-well-off.

Acknowledgment: Dominion Post – Scheme may see kids clothed as well as fed

Also not myths, according to Dear Leader,  are  the Loch Ness monster, flying saucers, and Sasquatch.

Of course, it’s only a sheer coincidence that the Nats have been  engaged in wide-spread beneficiary-bashing at a time of high unemployment caused by the Global Financial Crisis.

The same GFC that Dear Leader automically falls back on to excuse National’s poor performace with the economy;

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. We have had three terrible earthquakes in Christchurch. We have had the collapse of finance companies. We have had to bail out what is, in terms of the earthquakes, the single biggest economic impact on a developed economy as the result of a disaster. The public don’t agree with every decision… but I think they believe on balance it’s been a tough three years and we’ve handled most things well. The second thing is it’s all relative. Yes, our unemployment went to 7 per cent and now it’s 6.5, but in America it’s 9 per cent officially and 14 per cent unofficially and in Spain it’s 20 per cent... ”  – John Key, 11 September 2011

National using the GFC as an excuse for poor economic performance: ok.

Unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries doing likewise: not ok.

Abusing animals for drug-heads

Green Party MP, Mojo Mathers sez,

A pack of gorgeous beagles and their human companions helped deliver to me a 60,000 strong petition calling for the ruling out of animal testing in legal high regulations. I’m sure many of you signed this petition so thank you.

Some of these beagles were rescued from an animal testing facility and I have been working hard to make sure their voices are heard by MPs who are making decisions on the safety testing regulations for legal highs.

If we don’t specifically rule it out, animals will be used to test the safety of legal highs, even though those tests are cruel and unnecessary. I have been meeting with other parties to gather support for my amendment to the Bill to rule out animal testing. “

As demanded by law, if retailers of synthetic cannabis want to peddle their ‘wares’, like this crap,

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k2_synthetic_marijuana_legal_high__N2

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– they need to test their products on animals like these,

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beagles

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– to prove their safety.

Now, I have difficulty at the best of times with the knowledge that we already test products like shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and other stuff we humans “need” to hide our natural body odours.

But causing harm, pain and eventual death to animals to test “herbal highs” so that a bunch of hedonistic party-goers can turn on, tune out, and  trip Up is a step too far.

There is something terribly wrong with out humanity and so-called compassion when we can even contemplate such an atrocity.  This is evil.

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Petition: Support for Mojo Mathers *** Update ***

8 March 2012 6 comments

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Support for Mojo Mathers and the wider Deaf and hearing-impaired

community

Paul Gibson, the Disability Rights Commissioner, has called for the Speaker Lockwood Smith and Parliamentary Services to accommodate Mojo Mathers’ need for live electronic notetaking. Article 21 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which New Zealand has ratified, specifically deal with the right of persons with disabilities to access information intended for the public in a timely manner without additional cost, and the right to serve effectively in public life.

Many other figures and organisations have come out in support of Mojo Mathers.

The Human Rights Commission currently has a discussion paper out for consultation called The Wider Journey, which deals with accessibility issues for disabled people in the physical environment, in accessing information, and in the political process. If you have experience with disability, hearing-related or otherwise, I recommend you make a submission to this report detailing obstacles in the political process.

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Sign Petition Here

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* * *  Update  * * *

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from:    Suzanne Culph, Change.org mail@change.org
to:    fmacskasy@yahoo.com
date:    Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:00 PM
subject:Speaker’s answer

Frank, huge news!

Late last night, Speaker Lockwood Smith announced that he will fund the note-taking Mojo Mathers needs to do her job until a permanent solution is found.

What’s more, he’s promised to develop live closed captioning of Parliament — something that would give over 700,000 hearing impaired New Zealanders unprecedented access to their democracy.

It’s been an uphill battle to get this far. From the start, Speaker Smith was reluctant to commit to the funds, and claimed that the decision was out of his hands. But then student Merrin Macleod started a Change.org petition, and 6,200 people — including you! — joined her.

Merrin started her petition after hearing that New Zealand’s first deaf MP was essentially being asked to pay $30,000 to participate in Parliament. She spent hours contacting media, friends and everyone she could think of to spread the word.

Thousands signed, driving media coverage in the New Zealand Herald and across the country. And last week it was tabled in Parliament — in front of MPs, a packed press gallery and Speaker Lockwood Smith himself.

The pressure is working. Yesterday, the Speaker committed to making Parliament “more accessible to the hearing impaired community at large,” and to “make sure Mojo is getting all the support she needs” — including funds for her note-takers.

There’s still a way to go before ongoing funding is guaranteed in a way that is fair for all MPs with a disability — the long term issue is now before the Standing Orders Committee, which is yet to deliver its verdict. But expert legal advice suggests that there is every reason for the committee to grant the funding.

And with thousands of New Zealanders uniting behind Merrin’s petition, and intense media attention on Speaker Lockwood Smith, it will be near-impossible for decision-makers to avoid the issue.

The progress is proof that ordinary people coming together really can make a difference. And by sending a powerful message in support of Mojo Mathers, everyday people are helping pave the way towards equal access in the country’s highest institutions.

Thanks for being part of this,

Suzanne and the Change.org team

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And a really, really B I G thank you to everyone who read this (or heard about the petition from some other source) and put their name to the petition. People-power can work!

– Frank

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