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Posts Tagged ‘Murray McCully’

National MPs – giving us the finger in election year

18 July 2014 2 comments

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National MPs and ministers have been busy this year with more botch-ups, scandals, an attempted smear campaign, and spinning bullshit to cover their arses with multiple policy failures in health, education, the environment, child poverty, etc, etc, etc…

The fact that National still appears to be riding high in political polls speaks more for a population heavily sedated by trivia and superficial “news” reporting, and for mind-numbingly inane mass-entertainment – rather than any actual success.

Some of the more mind-blowing comments that have recently been made by National ministers have flown below the radar.

Amy Adams

Our so-called “Environment” Minister, Amy Adams, recently dismissed Dr Mike Joy’s criticisms of National’s new water standards.

Dr Joy stated;

But Dr Mike Joy, an environmental ecologist at Massey university, says the new standards are a “backwards step for fresh water”.

“You could just drive a truck through it,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

“There’s so many gaps, so many things we’ve been measuring up until now that they’ve dropped.”

The changes put limits on the amount of toxins and bacteria that can be present in water, which the Government says will require some communities and farms to improve their waste-disposal systems.

But the weakening of other limits were essentially a “licence to pollute,” Joy said, and would allow for a big increase in the amount of pollution in rivers.

“We’ve got a decline going on,” he said.

“Rivers are getting worse, lakes are getting worse. This should be something that puts the brakes on, but instead it’s an opening-up. It’s like lifting the speed limit from 50kmh to 500kmh – that’s the kind of level of change around nitrate pollution.”

Joy said more than 90 per cent of rivers in lowland areas – those coming from urban areas and farms – were already too dangerous to swim in.

To which Adams responded;

Ms Adams also corrected the Green Party’s and Dr Joy’s comparison of nitrogen levels in New Zealand’s lakes and rivers to those in the Yangtzee River.

“Although the Yangtze River indeed has serious pollution issues, nitrogen is not the core pollutant there.

In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the primary issue for the Yangtze River is industrial and sewage waste and the management of sediments, rather than nitrogen.”

What the World Wide Fund for Nature (which Adams mis-quoted) really stated was;

“The major pollutants in the Yangtze mainstem are suspended substances, oxidizing organic and inorganic compounds, and ammonia nitrogen. This has severely reduced drinking water quality and contributed to dramatic eutrophication.”

And from the Science Daily;

For the first time, a team including foreign scientists was authorized by the Chinese government to study water quality on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River…

[…]

For example, nitrogen concentrations have approximately doubled over the past 20 years. In Shanghai, concentrations of dissolved nitrogen were twice as high as at the Three Gorges Dam, reflecting the increasing use of mineral fertilizers in agriculture…

[…]

However, where the river enters the East China Sea, the huge pollutant loads are expected to have devastating effects: each day, 1500 tonnes of nitrogen is discharged, causing eutrophication and growth of blue-green algae in the coastal waters…

[…]

In the Yangtze, concentrations of nitrogen, metals and organic compounds are increasing, as shown by comparisons with earlier measurements in the literature.

As usual with right-wingers, it pays to check their “facts”. They’re usually bullshit. (As well as batshit crazy.)

Dr Mike Joy – 1

Amy Adams – 0

Paula Bennett

Bennett seems not to know where she stands on the problem of New Zealand’s hidden rape culture.

On 10 July, on TV3’s Third Degree, Bennett accepted the reality of our rape culture;

And you can see it in the language that is used by some people. You can certainly see it in pretty much a pub or a nightclub in New Zealand on most weekends to be quite frank. So we have a lot of education to do there, I think.”

Two days later, she changed her mind, this time on TV3’s The Nation;

I wouldn’t say that we’ve got a rape culture or a sexual violence culture in New Zealand…

[…]

I think what we do in New Zealand is we report more [sexual violence] than any other country. So actually some of those that are being reported are incidences that haven’t even led to violence.”

On 10 July, on Third Degree,  Bennett accepted that her government had failed Tania Billingsley;

Could things have been handled differently? We’re the first ones that have said yes it should have been. But for her I feel incredibly sad that the incident has happened in the beginning. And that’s where most of her hurt and anger is.”

Again, after two days, Bennett’s views seemed to have changed, as this exchange on The Nation showed;

Lisa Owen: “Ok, so how do you think that your male colleagues handled the alleged assault on Tania Billingsley and the departure of the Malaysian diplomat? Did they lose sight of the victim? Did they trivialise that?

Paula Bennett: “Well look I’m not prepared to go into what has happened in that case.  But my short answer to that would be no.”

How can a politician not keep her story straight within only a 48 hour period?!

Then again, this is the same politician who made full use of the Training Incentive Allowance to gain a free University education for herself – and then promptly dumped it in 2009.

Paula Bennett (2.0)

On TV’s The Nation, Lisa Owen took Paula Bennett to task on our growing endemic rate of child poverty. Owen pointed out to Bennett;

“…people like Jonathan Boston say that eradicating poverty is a political choice. Is it just that you’re not making a big enough political choice? A billion dollars, an extra billion dollars a year he said will make an enormous dent in this.”

To which Bennett replied with the stock-standard come-back from right-wing witless politicians;

I don’t think it’s throwing more money at it across the board if you like…

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It is not going to be throwing more money at those on welfare...”

Because, as we all know, “throwing money” at the poorest in our society apparently doesn’t work to pull children out of poverty.

But “throwing money” at corporations such as Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, Charter Schools,  et al, to “create jobs” or give “choice for better education” to parents, does work.

Or “throwing money” at people by way of tax cuts works to “stimulate the economy“.

Strangely, “throwing money” at welfare beneficiaries –  by way of a Training Incentive Allowance –  helped former solo-mother,  Paula Bennett, obtain a free tertiary education and she is currently (until 20 September) a  highly-remunerated Minister of the Crown.

So why is “throwing money” by way of corporate welfare; tax-cuts; Charter school subsidies, etc, a ‘good‘ thing – but “throwing money” at poverty to eliminate this scourge from 21st century New Zealand – is a ‘bad‘ thing?!

National ministers have yet to answer this question.

God knows we “throw enough money” at them with their generous salaries.

Simon Bridges

This was one of National’s  election platforms in 2011;

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Staying strong on crime“.

Except when National decides that a particular law is “inconvenient”. Then it will instruct it’s ministeries not to prosecute offenders. As Minister Simon Bridges recently instructed the Labour Inspectorate;

 

Radio New Zealand has obtained documents under the Official Information Act which show the Labour Inspectorate has moved away from the proactive approach to enforcement and has redistributed its efforts to crack down on illegial migrant workers.

Traditionally labour inspectors have been out on the streets at Easter, catching out shop owners who open illegally, but will now wait for members of the public to complain about shops being open and will follow those up with warning letters.

Special briefing notes from the Labour Inspectorate General Manager George Mason to the minister show the inspectorate has questioned the effectiveness of the shop trading act, which allows for a $1,000 penalty for breaches of the law.

In many cases the judicial system was reluctant to impose the maximum fine, Mr Mason told the minister.

He said in recent years not many complaints from the public were received and this year not a single shop was prosecuted for opening at Easter.

[…]

But Simon Bridges said shops can still be prosecuted and will be if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary.

The law will be upheld – if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary?!

When a government will not uphold the law because it conflicts with their own ideological stance – then why have laws at all?

And can the rest of us pick and choose which laws are convenient to uphold, and which we can break?

It appears so…

Mr Bridges is showing us the way.

Murray McCully

After the debacle of the Malaysian diplomat, accused of burglary and attempted rape, and the question over why Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully failed to keep track over events in his own ministry, an inquiry was launched on 11 July.

McCully stated;

A thorough and transparent inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the Government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public.”

Although one wonders just how “ thorough and transparent” any inquiry will be when,

  1. The terms of reference do not include Murray  McCully’s actions. This effectively gives the minister an ‘escape clause’ from the fiasco.
  2. John Key has already pre-determined who the guilty party is, within the Ministry,  when he stated on 4 July; “If that person doesn’t have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they’re in the right job.”
  3. Rob Hosking from the National Business Review suggested that the Inquiry will “not likely to be [completed] before the September 20 election”. How ‘convenient’.

Hekia Parata

On 8 June 2012, as National’s planned to increase class-room sizes blew up in their faces with a combined teacher-parent revolt, I wrote;

Parata’s Plan to cut teaching staff and increase classroom sizes was dressed up as “improving teaching quality and professional leadership” – which was exposed as patent bollocks when she stated,

  “The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership.”

Sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged.

That is the real crux of the matter; an ongoing programme of  reduction in  social services because of two tax cuts we could ill afford, and which National was irresponsible in making.

Two years later: On 7 July, Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, spoke to National’s  accident-prone Hekia Parata and put it to her that Labour’s plans  to reduce class-room sizes by 2018 were proving very popular with parents. Ferguson pointed out that Labour’s policy was in direct opposition with Parata’s  humiliating failure to increase class-room sizes.

At 3.05 into the interview, Parata replied,

And at the time we were in a different fiscal environment and we were focusing right then on how did we find the money to invest in quality. And now we’re in a better fiscal environment, we can do both,both more teachers and more quality...”

Which is confirmation, if any was needed, that National’s plans to reduce teacher numbers and increase class-room sizes was nothing more than an outrageous cost-cutting exercise. Happily, it failed as New Zealanders stood up, en masse, and told National,

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No Art 050425e

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New Zealanders were not prepared to sacrifice their children’s learning and future on the alter to National’s cost-cutting. If Key and his cronies were foolish enough to cut taxes as part of their 2008 election bribes, it was most certainly not going to be paid for by the children of the middle classes.

So far, #Teamkey seems to be going ‘swimmingly’ well.

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References

Fairfax media: Water rule changes seen as ‘licence to pollute’

World Wildlife Fund: Threat of Pollution in the Yangtze

Science Daily: First-ever Precise Data On Yangtze Water Quality

TV3: Minister agrees with diplomat’s alleged victim

TV3: The Nation Interview – Paula Bennett (transcript)

NBR: Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

Scoop media: Warner Brothers Hobbit Deal a $67 Milllion Farce

NZ Herald: Editorial – Charter schools will give poorer parents choice

Beehive.govt.nz: Government delivers April 1 tax cuts, SME changes

Radio NZ: Govt defends trading law enforcement

Dominion Post: Malaysian diplomat case inquiry head named

NZ Herald: Diplomat case: Court file released

TV3: Ministerial inquiry launched into diplomat case

Interest.co.nz: Key suggests mid-level MFAT diplomat “considers career options”

NBR: McCully announces inquiry into MFAT’s handling of Malaysian diplomat allegations

Scoop media:  Teacher funding ratios to remain the same

Radio NZ:  Listen Hekia Parata on Morning Report

Radio NZ:  Labour pledges to reduce class sizes

Previous related blogposts

Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy


 

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Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 July 2014.

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Japanese Whaling Ships can just p*ss off!

16 February 2014 5 comments

News today that  Japanese whaling boats entered our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Southern Ocean is not just cause for concern and an insult – but shows the extent to which Japan will go arrogantly pursue it’s goals to kill whales for the patently bullshit pretence of “scientific research”;

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Diplomat summoned over Japan whaling

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The best place for whaling boats from any country is not in our EEZ – but at the bottom of the sea. These mass killing machines have no place in our waters and the Japanese government must be told in no uncertain terms that the next incursion will result in precisely the same response that Japan gave to China in August 2012;

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The Japan-China Territorial Dispute is Serious, and Escalating

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The Japanese government was furious at the unwanted incursion of Chinese vessels in their EEZ waters and promptly despatched naval warships to “escort” the intruders out of their waters.

So any suggestion that New Zealand has no moral and legal (?) authority to do likewise is self-serving hypocrisy by groups such as the NZ-based, Japanese-funded so-called “Institute of Cetacean Research“. The Japanese government wasted no time in expelling Chinese vessels from their waters- New Zealand should do the same next time.

If there is a third occassion of an intrusion, any whaling ships should be seized; impounded; and the captain prosecuted. Seized Whaling vessels should end up scraped and the proceeds either used to off-set governments costs, or donated between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, should take note,

“… Japan’s deputy foreign minister summoned the Chinese ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and delivered a formal protest over the Chinese “intrusion”.”

That is a good start.

Meanwhile, it is outrageous that the  so-called “Institute of Cetacean Research” – a front for the Japanese whaling industry – has justified the incursion and has suggested that Japanese whalers may repeat the exercise if instructed by their owners;

“Japan has no choice but to keep an eye on them…

But the request from the New Zealand government is merely that, it’s jusdt a request, it’s not a legal right.”

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“Well again, the, the exclusive economic zone  – ah, Japan’s vessels,   and any bodies,  and any other vessels has a right to enter anyone’s ah, exclusive economic zone.”

This is an affront to our notions of sovereignty.

The “Institute of Cetacean Research” should be put on notice that it is on shaky ground and could be complicit in any further illegal activities by whalers. Perhaps they should just be closed down and their lackey,  public relations agent Glenn Inwood, sent packing. Listen to his arrogance here,

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Japan's whaling research body responds to Foreign Minister(Please click on image – and let me know if it doesn’t work for you!)

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Inwood’s arrogance is breath-taking! In a few sentences he has ripped away the sovereignty of the country he was born is, in favour of Japanese hegemony (the country now paying his salary).  I would not be unhappy if this fellow packed his bag and buggered of. Good riddance.

Murray McCully was right to describe Japan’s whaling activities  as repugnant by the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Now Minister McCully has to follow up with action. Next time, no stuffing around; send in the Navy. Sink the bastards.

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References

Radio NZ: Diplomat summoned over Japan whaling

Radio NZ Audio: Minister says Japanese whaling ships in EEZ disrespectful

Forbes: The Japan-China Territorial Dispute is Serious, and Escalating

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Whaling

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From “Nanny” State to “Natzi” State?

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

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National has been working overtime (do they pay their media advisors, strategists, and spin doctors overtime?) to deflect public attention away from their mis-management of the economy, and one scandal after another.

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

Whether it’s Nick Smith/Bronwyn Pullar/Judith Collins/ACC; John Banks and Kim Dotcom; John Banks and Sky City; John Key and Sky City; Murray McCully and wasted millions of taxpayer’s money over the aborted MFAT re-structuring –  John Key has had one ministerial scandal after another. It has been  an eye-opening, horrendous (for the Nats)  litany of failure, stuff-ups,  and dodgy dealings.

With a majority of just one seat, Dear Leader cannot afford even one resignation and by-election. It could cost him his second term in government.

On top of scandals, there are the non-stop bad news stories, on the economy and social problems,

* Unemployment continuing to rise – now at 6.7%

* Paula Bennet admitting there were were not enough jobs

* Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year

* Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

* Jobs-driven migration to Oz at high of 53,000

* Wages continue to lag behind Australia

* $12 billion student debt a national liability

* Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators – Numbers reveal National disgrace

* Child poverty growing, and children scavenging for food scraps

And adding insult to injury, Australian businesses are coming to New Zealand to set up shop, to exploit our lower wages,

* Aussie firms sending business across ditch

It’s been one failure after another, and people are starting to take notice; National is falling in public opinion polls.

This blogger predicts that the bad news is not about to end any time soon. National’s reliance on the private sector to provide jobs and growth is based on blind adherence to neo-liberal dogma – not on any common sense ideas. Blind adherence to ideology, and wilfully dismissing indicators of continual failure, is a process that is ultimately futile and doomed.

Just ask the Russians. It only took them about seven decades to realise that their experiment in marxist-leninism was dragging the USSR backwards, not forwards. They abandoned it, and that was the end of that particular episode in human history.

Neo-liberalism – the reverse side of the coin of extremist socio-economic systems – is on the same path to doomed failure.  There are those who understand this perfectly.

Rightwing governments, such as National, are political dinosaurs – watching the asteroid of change  rushing towards us – but not understanding the implications of the revolutionary change that is impending and inevitable.

Instead, National’s party strategists, media advisors, and contracted publicity/campaign  strategists have embarked on a time-honoured, proven course, of deflection; beneficiary bashing.

The strategy involved;

  1. Assessing public attitudes towards welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  2. Identifying key issues regarding welfare, beneficiaries, and solo-mothers
  3. Putting together a plan, complete with media releases and policy “drafts”
  4. Priming friendly media, NGOs, and political allies
  5. Release, and stand back.

See Blogpost:  The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

The result was a two-pronged “blitzkreig” on the public,

  • “voluntary” contraception for solo-mothers
  • making immunisation mandatory for welfare recipients, by linking it to recieving state benefits

This blogger should point out that National most likely does not, for one moment, believe it’s own propaganda. People like John Key, Paula Bennett, et al, understand the statistics and realise that prejudice surrounding welfare beneficiaries is based largely on misinformation; anecdotes; and a fair measure of misogyny (demonstrated by the fact that attacks on solo-parents are always focused on solo-mothers – never  solo-dads).

They know, for example that the number of young solo-mothers aged 18 to 19 is 2.7% of the total number of welfare recipientsdown from 3.1% in 2007,

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Source

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It is also worthwhile noting the following fact,

Five year trend

 The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 Between March 2007 and March 2012, clients receiving a main benefit became slightly more likely to be aged 18–24 years and to be male.

 Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Source

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Note the relevant points:

1. The number of clients receiving a main benefit at the end of March decreased from 266,000 to 256,000 between 2007 and 2008, then rose to reach 332,000 in 2011 before decreasing to 323,000 in 2012.

 2. Changes between 2007 and 2012 which have affected the number of clients receiving a main benefit include demographic changes (eg an ageing population, people having children later in life) and changes in economic conditions.

Point 1: the increase in welfare recipients  directly correlates to  “changes in economic conditions” – the global banking  crisis in 2008, and the resulting recession.

Point 2: The number of people on the DPB can be affected by “an ageing population”, as this Benefit can be paid to individuals caring for an elderly person, as well as children.

The overall rise in welfare recipients also correlates to,

  • a steadily growing rise in youth unemployment, from 58,000 last year  to 83,000 this year,
  • National’s  policy which calls for job creation by the private sector, and not by central government,
  • failed relationships, leaving the mother (generally) to care for children*, adding to those already on the DPB.

This is not rocket science. This is fairly basic economic facts which everyone understands fairly well.

Which then begs the question; what does contraception and immunisation have to do with an increase in welfare recipients that was caused, mostly, by “changes in economic conditions” ?!

The answer, of course, is nothing.

But then again, National’s proposals to “offer” contraception and “link”  immunisation to welfare payments has been a red herring from Day One, as outlined above.

National cannot announce to the country that ” all beneficiaries are diseased, reckless breeders“. That would be… crass. Not very subtle at all.

The more subtle way to go about vilifying and demonising a group in our society is to do it by innuendo.

Do not call solo mothers (but never solo dads) “reckless breeders”.

Do “offer” them free contraception.

Result: No direct association has been made between solo-mums and “reckless breeding” – but the unspoken  innuendo is there, hanging in the air.

Do not call beneficies “dirty and diseased”.

Do make immunisation compulsory for their children.

Result: No direct association has been made between beneficiaries and calling them “dirty and diseased” – but the unspoken innuendo is there, unsaid.

That is Phase One of National’s deflection strategy.

Phase One, I hear you say? There’s more?!’

Oh yes, this strategy is a two-fer-one deal. The unspoken labelling of beneficiaries as “dirty”, “diseased”, and “reckless breeders” is only the first part.

The second part is the predictable (and justified)  outcry from opposition political parties; NGOs; prominent citizens; bloggers (hullo!); etc, etc. This draws further attention to National’s grand strategy, giving it media ‘oxygen’.  In drawing attention to this vile policy, the public and media attention are drawn away from bad news stories about the economy and social problems.

As Business NZ CEO, Phil O’Reilly, stated on TV3 news tonight (13 May),

“… we have an economy that’s struggling.”

When is the last time we heard a news report on unemployment? The John Banks/Sky City/Dotcom/John Key/Sky City/ACC/BronwynPullar/Judith Collins scandal(s)? A stagnant economy? More New Zealanders fleeing the country to Australia? The worsening poverty crisis? The growing gap between income earners? Asset sales? Poverty-related diseases? Etc, etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera…

The bad-news media reports are there – but now displaced from page 1 of newspapers or lead-stories on TV/radio – and relegated as secondary or tertiary priority stories. Instead, those issues are now replaced with stories about beneficiaries, contraception, and immunisation.

National got it’s money’s-worth I’d say, on this propaganda exercise.

In case anyone still harbours doubts that National is really, truly, whole-heartedly not remotely  interested in the health  of beneficiaries, let me remind the reader of Labour’s attempt to remove fatty food-products from school tuck-shops, from June 2008,

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Full Story

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National’s response to this and other health-related concerns?

This is how much they cared for the well-being our this nation’s children,

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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And true to it’s word, when National came to power in November 2008,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Which kind of proves how much concerns National has toward the health of the nation’s children.

Which is not very much.

In Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, the far right used gypsies and jews as scapegoats. We don’t have gypsies, and if the Nats tried demonising Jews, they’d find an Israeli crack-commando squad  knocking on John Key’s door  and asking, “can we have a quiet word with you, sunshine?”.

I guess beneficiaries are the next best thing.

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* Note

This blogger’s partner’s cousin, “Shannon”,  is now caring for her three young sons after her husband walked out on the family – youngest child was 18 months old at the time. He was having an affair and has  moved in with a female co-worker from his office. “Shannon”  is now a solo-mum, on the DPB.

She did not “breed” whilst on the DPB. “Shannon”  was married when she had her three children, and the family was on a reasonable income.  So what should she do now? According to some right wing nutjobs, should she euthanase her children so they do not become a “burden on the state”?

Whilst “Shannon” is now labelled a “DPB bludger” by National and it’s supporters, her husband is free to start another family with his new partner. If he walks out on her,  and any children they have together,  as he did with “Shannon”, he still avoids responsibility – and his new partner is labelled a “bene bludger”.

Are folks picking up a common theme here?”

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Media

NZ Herald:  Stuck for ideas, Govt preys on powerless

Previous Blogposts

Why did the fat kiwi cross the road?

You’ll have a free market – even if it KILLS you!

Christmas – would you like fries with that?

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

Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

No poverty and food scavenging here

And MORE beneficiary bashing!!!

Other Blogs

Tumeke:  And now, forced vaccination of beneficiaries & never ending detention – this week has been red neck heaven

The Standard:  Teenage dreams

Waitakere News:  Pike River will be Key’s undoing

The Dim Post:  Talkback bait

The Jackal:   Myth-busting rightwing prejudices

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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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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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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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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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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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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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= fs =

Try doing this with…

…an 0800 call-number,

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Kiwi diplomat faces down armed men

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Last updated 05:00 05/03/2012

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A Kiwi diplomat is claimed to have sat on the floor surrounded by armed men as she tried to negotiate the release of a New Zealand mother and her three children in Algeria.

“I am not leaving this building without my citizens,” consul Barbara Welton is said to have told more than two dozen soldiers, police and a gang of about 50 locals surrounding the house where Mihi Puriri, 33, and her children were allegedly being held.

The Government has now ordered a review into how a child custody dispute involving the Northland mum and her boxer husband Mohamed Azzaoui turned into an international incident, with Mr Azzaoui accusing Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry staff of acting illegally.

Ms Puriri has since left the house, but has not seen daughters, Iman, 5, and Assiya, 2, and son Zakaria, 11 months, for more than a week…

[abridged]

… Last month, he said, a diplomatic party from New Zealand’s embassy in Cairo travelled to Mostaganem to carry out a welfare check on the family. The party included New Zealand’s ambassador to Egypt, David Strachan, and Ms Welton.

“Barbara went out with a full gendarme escort and police escort to conduct a welfare visit on Mihi,” the spokesman said. “When [Ms Welton] arrived she was confronted with over two dozen … gendarmes, 15 police who were all armed and in excess of 50 locals who were there to support the Azzaoui family.

“Barbara went up and knocked on the door and said I’d like to see my citizens. Mihi was prepared with the children … she attempted to escape the apartment into Barbara’s care and custody. She was physically prevented.”

Ms Welton then called a halt to proceedings. “They were placed in a room … Barbara Welton sat down on the floor – she is an amazing woman – and said, `I am not leaving this building without my citizens.”‘

After hours of intense debate, the consular officials managed to leave in another vehicle. Later, Ms Puriri was retrieved but the children could not be removed.

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Full Story

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I doubt that a Call Centre would be much help or come to your aid if/when things get sticky,

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MFAT confirms 305 job cuts

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Last updated 14:16 23/02/2012

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LATEST: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has confirmed 305 jobs will be cut as part of proposed restructuring.

MFAT chief executive John Allen said at a briefing today the proposals created more flexibility, deepened expertise, and ensured appropriate representation-including non resident ambassadors and smaller posts.

Mr Allen confirmed there would 305 job cuts and that 600 MFAT staff would have to reapply for their jobs in new specialist roles. The ministry has 1340 staff, half of which are offshore.

The restructuring was expected to save $20-25m annually.

Mr Allen confirmed the ministry was also considering outsourcing some functions. That included a 24/7 call centre based in Wellington. [My emphasis – FM]

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Full Story

Of course,  it won’t be John Key or Murray McCully who will ever need  consular assistance in a far-off country – they have their own Diplomatic Protection Squad to hold their hand,

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We will end up regretting these cuts to overseas consular postings. It will end in tears.

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Jobs for the bro’s?

20 November 2011 1 comment

10 September 2011

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Is it me – or does this sound plain wrong

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Full Story

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Why was the position not advertised, as is common practice?

Is this an example of nepotism? (Silly question. Of course it is.)

And at a time when this government has thrown thousands of government workers out of their jobs, and onto the unemployment scrap-heap – how much is this “advisor” job costing the tax-payer?

As an indication, this case might give us an idea,

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Full Story

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And once again, the highly-paid “advisor” involves the English family.

Another case,

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Full Story

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So much for this government “cutting expenditure”. They are sacking ordinary workers – and rehiring “advisors” aid exorbitant amounts of tax-payers’ money?

What on Earth is going on here?

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+++ Update +++

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It appears that the ‘heat’ has gone on Tony Ryall in this matter.  He and his colleagures may have been hoping that Mervyn English’s appointment slipped in “under the radar” – but New Zealand is too small a country for that to happen.

Appointments of family and friends to jobs that are not publicly advertised is never a good look, and it is surprising that the government was silly enough to think they could get away with it. It reeks of corrupt practice.

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19 November 2011

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And yet more of the same…

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Full Story

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Katherine Rich has been appointed to the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

The move has outraged advocacy group Alcohol Action. Spokesperson Doug Sellman says Ms Rich has been one of the most vociferous defenders of the alcohol industry.

Professor Sellman says supermarkets normalise alcohol as an ordinary commodity and sell it by the tonne at ultra-cheap prices up to 24 hours a day.Ibid

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The Labour Party agrees the appointment of Katherine Rich is too much a conflict of interest.

Health spokesperson Grant Robertson told Radio New Zealand while he holds Ms Rich personally in high regard, he believes her role with the Food and Grocery Council does clash with being part of such an agency.

“I think the linkage with her role supporting and advocating for the supermarkets is unfortunate and doesn’t sit well with the health promotion role that the future agency will have.”

However, in a written statement on Saturday, Health Minister Tony Ryall says Ms Rich, a former National MP, was appointed for her experience, balance and integrity.” Ibid

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(L-R) National MPs Simon Powell, Katherine Rich, former National leader Don Brash, National MPs Nathan Guy and Gerry Brownlee applaud John Key as he delivers his speech as the New Zealand National Party launch their election campaign at Sky City on October 12, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Source

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Stacking government and quango roles with party hacks (even if they are talented party hacks) seems to be a time-honoured tradition that National is loathe to depart from.

However, the Radio NZ report does raise an important question regarding her appointment to  the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

ALAC was an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of New Zealand’s considerable alcohol related (some say fueled) problems.

2009 BERL report estimated that “$4.437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare” could be directly attributed to alcohol abuse. That $4.4 billion  is reflected in  ACC, hospital admissions, crime, family violence, lost productivity, etc, and places a firm dollar cost on the harm that alcohol abuse is causing NZ society. These are costs we all pay for through ACC levies and taxes spent on medical intervention; policing; and the justice system.

Whilst working for the Food and Grocery Council, Ms Rich was a firm advocate of liberal laws surrounding marketting and retailing of alcohol.,

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac) strongly backed the recommendations.

Alac chief executive Gerard Vaughan said it set out a clear objective of reducing alcohol-related harm which stretched to structure and role changes for the district licensing agencies responsible for managing liquor licensing in their own communities.

Communities up and down the country were sick of the violence and vandalism that came with drinking and that proposed changes to licencing regimes would help address the problem, Mr Vaughan said.

Nearly 3000 submissions were received by the commission, many of which supported the tightening of laws around alcohol sales, purchasing and consumption.

But NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the report reflected “classic nanny state thinking.”

It failed to target those causing the problems and punished everyone, she said. The industry was already one of the most regulated, and more sensible ways to approach existing problems included better enforcement of current rules and better use of legal powers, along with industry-led initiatives.”   Source

New Zealand has a $4 billion-plus problem with alcohol abuse (BERL report) and Katherine Rich dismissed attempts to address this crisis as “classic nanny state thinking“.

Thank you, Ms Rich. It’s nice to know where you stand on social problems that affect us all.

It is worthwhile reflecting that since liquor laws were de-regulated in the mid 1980s (as part of the wave of Rogernomics “reforms”), that 25 years later things have gotten steadily worse. In those 25 years, the free market system has reigned practically unchallenged and unchanged.

Somehow I think “Nanny State” has little to do with it.

Nanny is still nursing a hang-over from the last 25 years.

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Related

A kronically inept government

Community Needs vs Business Demands

New Zealand 2011AD: Drunken Mayhem and a nice Family Day Out

Our ‘inalienable right’ to destroy communities through alcohol abuse

Govt’s consultants’ bill $375m and rising

 

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Minister in Charge of R.W.C. (Royal Wellington-based Cock-up)

13 September 2011 3 comments

The government has launched, what is in effect, a “Very Kiwi Coup” in taking over certain aspects  of the RWC in Auckland; the “fanzone” at Queens Wharf, and

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Source

Listen to Murray McCully on Checkpoint

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However, it is worthwhile to note that central Government already held responsibility for several major aspects of this event. The Prime Minister, John Key, cannot easily dismiss his government’s culpability in last Friday’s fiasco with a smile and brief comment,

“I am more than happy to apologise to those individuals involved, but at the end of the day, the responsibility rests with the delivery agent that is in Auckland.”  Source

In fact, only two years ago,  Key was warned of severe shortcomings to RWC planning,

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Full Story

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In July 2009, the government received a report from the then-Auckland Regional Transport Authority (now replaced by the Auckland Transport Agency – but more on that in a moment) on Rugby World Cup transport planning. The report stated, in part,

“The impression is that the level of public transport required for RWC2011 is a little above normal. The levels of patron movement and operational standard [needed for the RWC] are in reality significantly above what is currently delivered.” Source

Why is this important?

Because Murray McCully holds several portfolios,

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister for Sport and Recreation
  • Minister for the Rugby World Cup
  • Member, Privileges Committee

As such, Minister McCully holds a role in government over-seeing the smooth running of the Rugby World Cup event in this country. (Otherwise, why hold such a position in the first place?)

So for John Key to attempt to shift responsibility for oversight of the RWC planning for Auckland to the “delivery agent that is in Auckland” – then we are witnessing a certain degree of buck-passing.

The body overseeing transport organisation is the Auckland Transport Agency,

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This Agency was set up by central government in November 2009 and Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that “the Auckland Transport Agency will be responsible for all local authority transport functions, including roads and public transport“.

Of the ATA’s Board of seven directors, five  are appointed by the government and two by the  ‘new’, amalgamated super-city Auckland Council.

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The ATA is therefore a ‘creature’ of central government, and is stacked with a majority of Directors of  government appointees.

And finally,  Veolia Transport Auckland operates the Auckland passenger rail network on behalf of Auckland Transport, as per the current ideology that “private enterprise can deliver a better, more efficient service” than Council or State organisations.

Veolia was directly managing the rail system and had supposedly prepared for heightened demand for RWC patrons and other members of the public,

“During September and October 2011 we will be increasing our services to provide higher frequency and higher capacity rail services during the Rugby World Cup.”

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It therefore seems bizarre that Central Government has attempted to blame Auckland Council for the inadequate transport arrangements of last Friday. Even the low number of Police – 200 by one report – who courageously  managed a crowd of 200,000+ , could not be made the responsibility of the Auckland Council.

Last time I looked, police were under the command of the Police Commissioner (Peter Marshall), who reports to the Minister of (Police (Judith Collins) – not the mayor of Auckland.

It is obvious that a sporting event of this magnitude; spanning the entire country (not just held in Auckland); and requiring the full resources of the state; required hands-on over-sight by central government.

It is further symptomatic of the shambles from last Friday, that Murray McCully has only now called for more planning around the Qureen’s Wharf  “fanzone”,

“Over the weekend I held discussions with the Queens Wharf management team, including Auckland Festival Trust and the NZ2011 Office. Yesterday, I formally instructed them to form a plan for the accommodation of the public based on the large numbers we saw last Friday, and in the expectation that even without a major event operating, numbers might flow over from Queens Wharf.”  Source

It is extraordinary that he has only today realised that large numbers of people attending would require special planning. Unbelievable.

Murray McCully is the Minister for the Rugby World Cup. Unless he relinquished that role sometime in the last few days, responsibility rests with him. As do the government controlled agencies such as the Police and ATA. As such, he and his well-paid officials should be over-seeing the planning and co-ordination of state and local agencies for this event.

Otherwise, next time it may not end so well. We were lucky – very lucky indeed that no one was seriously  injured or killed. It was only by good lucky; the good nature (generally) of the crowd; and the cool heads of the police that prevented a tragedy.

As one person wrote, in an email to the Prime Minister,

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“Dear Mr Key …

You are extremely lucky that there was no death or serious injury from crushing or trampling in Quay Street during the opening celebrations.

“When we got off the ferry, Quay Street was packed so we were squeezed amongst all the people … It was not a safe feeling so we turned back. People were trying to move in both directions, both to and from the ferry and there were many people who were trying to stay still in front of the big screen to watch the … entertainment.

“A girl of about 12 being pushed beside me became hysterical yelling and screaming over and over `stop pushing me’.

“I saw my friend on top of the fence yelling at me to get to it and climb over it down to the lower floating pontoons. I eventually managed to get to the fence and was helped over and down (it was about a two-metre drop with a gap where I could have fallen into the water) onto the pontoons … It was along those pontoons that we eventually got to the ferry building where we could catch a ferry to get out of there.

“Party Central for 12,000 people for a city of Auckland’s size was ridiculous.

Jan Gillespie
Auckland resident “

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This is one cock-up that John Key cannot smile and wave his way out of.

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Continued here: New Warnings: R.W.C.

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