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Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

The Virus, the Media, and John Key

3 October 2021 5 comments

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Acknowledgement: @komerata

 

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“People are crying on TV and on radio stations, every single day, because they are stateless, they cannot come back to New Zealand.”  – John Key, ex-Prime Minister, “Morning Report”, RNZ 

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The crocodile tears flew – albeit briefly – on RNZ’s “Morning Report” on 27 September, by ex-Prime Minister ex-Merril Lynch ‘banker’, and still-practicing smiling assassin, John Key.

The interview with Corin Dann showed a side of Key not often seen by the Great Unwashed Masses; condescending; quick to anger; and irritable at being questioned. His defensiveness was over the publication of his op-ed in no less than four major daily newspapers was either fortuitously achieved – or with great precision-planning and with the witting or unwitting collusion of the media involved.

This screen-cap from The Spin-Off (with associated excellent satirical piece, lampooning Key’s dangerous ‘reckons’) showed the four dailies involved in the synchronised, targetted release of the agit-prop article he purportedly wrote:

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The lampooning of Mr Key’s reckons – by Spinoff editor Toby Manhire – is pure cutting satire and the only possible way to deal with the ill-informed pronouncements of a man who was, at best, a mediocre prime minister and achieved nothing except a failed flag referendum; tax cuts for the rich; and a novel – if utterly barmy – idea of a sheep farm in the middle of the Saudi desert. (Who knew sheep preferred to eat grass, instead of sand?)

My ex-journo friend wondered:

“I see Key is also sounding off in the Sunday Herald as well. His business mates are likely channeling through him rather than coming out and saying anything directly so as to protect themselves from public backlash.”

Unfortunately,Mr Key’s (?) op-ed was not the first to be platformed in the mainstream media.

As has been pointed out by many on social media – and by my ex-journalist friend – it is almost as if the public are being “softened up”.

But softened-up for what?

The mainstream media has – and currently still is – flooding their platforms with “Open Up” (current version of Plan Bers) demands from business lobbyists, sports people, and a bunch of Kiwis who have the crazy notion that travelling overseas during a raging pandemic – or bringing in a flood of tourists and migrant workers – is a jolly good idea.

It’s like a small – but increasing vociferous number – have not been paying attention to New South Wales, Fiji, Brazil, United States, United Kingdom, and practically almost everywhere else on this planet. And every time platformed and amplified almost wholly uncritically by every media outlet in the country.

Including, bizarrely, state-owned, non-commercial, Radio NZ. (The profit motive may not apply to RNZ’s corporate structure, but personal career advancement might play a role.)

Only Stuff media has published an op-ed questioning this current, relentless push to live (ie, die) with covid:

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Yes, Dominion Post editor, Anna Fifield, has called it: Aotearoa New Zealand is not North Korea. Not even close. In fact, contrary to our geographically-confused American cuzzies’ belief, we are not Australia either.

North Korea. Australia. Aotearoa New Zealand. Three different countries.

You can tell they are different: we make a better Flat White and our rugby team is the best of all three. (Does North Korea even play rugby? Ask John Key: he seems up with communist dictatorships.)

Unfortunately, for Ms Fifield, there was a very brief comment in her 27 September editorial,  where she admits:

And we in the Wellington newsroom of Stuff have been actively reporting about the impact of our system on businesses, including the tech sector, and the long-term economic ramifications of it.

Not only is she correct, but every other mainstream media (msm) in the country has been fulsome in  “actively reporting the impact of our system on businesses“. Reporting every day. On every TV news and current affairs broadcast. On every radio station, including non-commercial RNZ. In every newspaper and probably most magazines.

Relentlessly.

Often repetitively – in case we missed it the first time:

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23 September, 5.20PM

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23 September, 7.30PM

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28 September

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Interesting how categories of the three, related stories above went from “Health/Politics” to “Business/Covid19“. When did Covid19 cease to be a Health issue for RNZ?

In fact, unless you stopped reading; scrolling, listening, and watching, the entire nationwide msm spectrum – you’d be hard-pressed not to be informed of “the impact of our system on businesses“.

To describe the msm as business-friendly propaganda would be apt, probably even under-stated.

Only communist nations have broadcast “positive” aspects of their economic system as constantly; widely; repetitively, and incessantly. (Yes, Ms Fifield, I have lived under a communist system. For about eleven months, in the late 1970s) in my parents homeland, the Hungarian People’s Republic, governed by the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party.)

The only way to avoid the incessant bombardment of negativity; whining; hysterical pleas to “open up”; never-ending stream of stressed businesspeople; onslaught of ‘heart-string’ stories of New Zealanders trapped overseas (often after voluntarily travelling overseas since March last year) –  is to avoid the msm altogether.

This blogger switched off all electronic media for three days during last year’s Level 4 lockdown.

This year, the off-switch was flicked for RNZ’s “Checkpoint“, which had seemingly perfected whinging and negativity to a fine art. This blogger ceased listening for about a week and a half, until Aotearoa New Zealand (minus Auckland) dropped to Level 2.

And what was the first story on “Checkpoint” on 8 September, the first full day of Level 2?

Guess…

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business whinging whining carping complaining

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Yup.  They just couldn’t help themselves, could they? The very first story: a business whinge.

I switched of.

If RNZ has become a subsidiary of the National Business Review, we certainly missed that memo.

Following John Key’s first salvo of op-eds, he was followed by Richard Prebble, Paul Henry, and Steven Joyce (on tediously numerous occassions). All three thankfully paywalled. The term male, pale, and stale has never felt more appropriately descriptive.

Mr Joyce’s reference to the current “Jacinda Ardern Government getting too big for its bossy boots” was a bit rich, considering his decidely authoritarian-flavoured comment to tertiary students almost exactly decade ago:

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Minister to students: ‘keep your heads down’

NZ Herald – 27 Sep, 2011 11:39 AM – By Claire Trevett

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has warned protesting university students to keep their heads down lest they draw attention to their relatively privileged position in hard economic times.

Asked about the student protests at Auckland University yesterday, Mr Joyce said university students had 75 per cent of the tuition subsidised on average and benefited from interest-free student loans.

“My general advice to NZUSA (NZ Union of Students’ Associations) on the cost of living for students is to keep your heads down because actually most people probably think you’re doing OK.”

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The steady stream of debilitating, depressing media negativity has not gone unnoticed by many fellow New Zealanders (including my own partner and other close friends and work colleagues – most of whom are sick of it all). Social media is full of people expressing their weariness of msm negativity:

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I’m in MIQ and yes it has its flaws & shortcomings, being away from family I desperately want to see but I’m prepared to do to keep Delta out. WTF are we doing listening to JFK when he just wants to be able to flit to Hawaii and back on a whim? F**k him and his self-centredness. – 1:19 PM · Aug 12, 2021

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Kia ora @1NewsNZ, @TVNZ, no matter the decision today, please, please, please can we not hear from the moaners & whingers. It’s the moaning that is getting to many of us here in L4 & it will greatly improve our outlook if we weren’t subjected to more. Kia ora mo o taringa. – 12:23 PM · Sep 20, 2021

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100% We’re doing the mahi and the constant moaning and complaining is not representative of most of us. It’s so hard to deal with. We need positivity – 2:52 PM · Sep 20, 2021

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Individual journalists may not realise the cumulative effect their negativity has. Yes govt should be held to account but that can be done w/o centring ignorance without pushback and exaggerating errors. Social license to lock down is only thing stopping us from turning into NSW. – 7:02 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Although my business is closed until we hit L2 I realise it’s the right thing to do to be in lockdown. I wonder if the media will ever go for comment from small business owners that accept that this is the way forward because we understand what that means for the economy? –  9:07 AM · Aug 26, 2021

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Are the media being responsible during our outbreak, or are they nitpicking, delving into the sewers, which includes foreign media, to make us all fearful and anxious? Some words do matter, be careful how you use them.8:51 AM · Aug 26, 2021

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It’s interesting that at no stage has any official said we stop elimination strategy now. But all the media are softening the public up to do just that. And more and more antivax coming up with extreme right “learn to live with it” bollocks. Manipulation is occurring why? – 8:37 AM · Sep 26, 2021

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Seeing journos moaning about the slating they are getting. Either be a tabloid hack and ignore the criticism, or do a better job, don’t write such rubbish then bitch when people don’t like it. – 12:52 PM · Sep 24, 2021

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Because the media live on playing games for profit. Now stakes involve human lives – they’ve never felt a more thrilling empowerment. – 7:25 PM · Sep 26, 2021

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I don’t get it honestly. I tend to back away from news sources now, I just cant even – 5:27 PM · Sep 26, 2021

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Because national disasters sell newspapers. – 8:49 PM · Sep 26, 2021

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Fair minded KIwis are sick to death with the barrage of MIQ and stranded traveller sob stories Kiwis have had opportinities over 500 days to get back to NZ . Those that went to Australia were pre-warned by PM Ardern flyer beware and get back on red flights or risk being stranded8:43 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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Totally sick of hearing about vaccine logistics stuff. We’ve just had a massive demand spike of a perishable product with very precise transport demands. Hell, the timber industry couldn’t even get its shit together with a few years notice, & we grow the bloody wood – 1:22 PM · Sep 7, 2021

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Agreed it seems like the media want to highlight every small thing that goes wrong in MIQ..it’s poor form given more than 170k kiwis have returned and they highlight the less than 5% that have had issues..  – 9:37 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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I agree. I would love to go & see my Dad in Scotland as he’s just had major heart surgery @ 84 but I decided early 2020 I would not be leaving NZ for anything ~ not to spread it around the globe, not to bring it back but most of all to survive. – 10:13 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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This genius departed for the USA to work in a summer camp on 13 June, and now can’t get a spot in MIQ, seriously? https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/travel-troubles/300408053/american-dream-turns-into-nightmare-for-new-zealander-desperate-to-return-home9:57 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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News junkie son in Melbourne tells me he has switched off all news. Professional comms daughter in Sydney has switched off all her private social media. I have turned off RNZ. Personal wellbeing decisions in stressful times. – 9:35 AM · Aug 31, 2021

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Moaning Report  – 9:57 AM · Aug 31, 2021

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NZ media has had more of an effect on my mental health than lockdown itself. I’m just finding myself being bombarded with right wing hatred towards our current government. I am always a supporter of valid criticism but this has gone past the line of criticism. – 10:09 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Very sad that NZ media is incapable of taking the pulse of the nation. – 8:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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It’s kind of a very New Zealand thing that the media are telling us we are “totally feed up”, and completely “over it” yet we are just stoically getting on with doing what we need to as a whole. – 6:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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I just can’t stand feeling ok, getting on with it, making the best of it, only to feel dragged down by the weight of the negativity on the 6pm news. We all know people are struggling. But just framing some things in a positive light would be nice – 6:38 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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There’s no money in stories about Kiwis just getting on with it…  Which is kind of sad… – 6:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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I deleted the Stuff app from my phone over this. (deleted NZ Herald a year ago) – 10:55 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Yep, for the first time in my life I’ve stopped checking in on media sites – their clickbaity, dramatised headlines are all too often misleading and unnecessarily distressing. I figure if anything important happens, I’ll hear about it pretty quickly here, and with some nuance. – 8:37 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Yep, feeling pretty much the same way. The constant negativity and political twattery all for the sake of scoring points is exhausting. I know that they don’t talk for the majority but their voices are so much louder than everyone else’s… – 1:33 PM · Aug 30, 2021

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My feelings exactly. I’m exhausted by the media negativity. – 7:42 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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So agree. The only thing that gets me angry is the platforming of RW, business viewpoints that just see workers as grist for their mills. – 10:59 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Delete any app that bring news. Mute those outlets’ accounts. I did, and it helps. – 11:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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The equivalent of “some people say” and/or using their opinion writers as speaking for the nation while the nation is saying “who writes this shit”? – 9:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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to be fair to the media I think there’s a fair amount of them (outside of Granny, obvi) who do support the strategy, they just want more accountability and more preplanning, which is hard to argue against. The vaccine catastrophizing is utterly ridiculous though, lol. – 6:40 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Totally agree, it is really depressing being bombarded every day by sniping & negativity. Do they know that this is the effect they are having? – 8:51 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Remember by their own fruition the majority of NZ’s mainstream media are HQed in Auckland.
They gutted regional newsrooms & shut down external studios to base everything there.
Now the chickens have come home to roost & Auckland gets a month-longer lockdown than everyone else! –
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Couldn’t agree more! I’m not fed up at all…except with the crappy media!  Kiwis have got this! Around 85% thought we were right to lock down and since there is light at the end of the tunnel, why stop now!? – 11:27 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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It’s such a crack up when they have a story with a mayor or a business leader going on about how unhappy everyone is and then they cut to interviews in the street and the people they speak to are overwhelmingly for what we are doing. – 6:41 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Actually I am over it, I’m over the media telling me what I feel despite it not being anywhere near what I infact feel – 8:36 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Well, we are totally fed up….. with the media that is. I’m definitely over people with no health qualifications pontificating about how we ‘just need to live with it’ – 7:51 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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The media need to take along hard look at themselves. I am totally fed up with opinion posing as journalism, reckons as facts, completely over it.  – 10:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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The thing is “NZ media” as it relates to Covid is the press gallery, whose world revolves around listening to stand ups and having to interview the opposition for their daily shit takes. It’s no wonder their summation is “Kiwis are over it.” I would be too in their shoes. – 10:21 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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I’m so sick of the NZ journalists, fucking depressing bunch and all they want to do is bitch and moan. Meanwhile, the rest of us just get on with it – 7:02 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Apologies for the long list of comments. Believe me, there were way, way more. The above is only a small, random sampling of comments gleaned from Twitter.

More important from the comments on this issue came from Chloe Ann-King, a spokesperson for hospitality workers and founder of Raise the Bar Hospo Union (RBHU), this salient criticism of the media:

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So not only have media relentlessly amplified business voices – almost always complaining, criticising, and demanding – but inevitably no workers are ever (?) interviewed for their takes.

On 29 August this year, Stuff’s political reporter, Andrea Vance, published an overtly defensive “opinion” piece, dismissing criticism of media coverage of the covid crisis.

In it she opined that scrutiny of the government was an essential role of the media:

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given a spirited defence of her Government’s decisions. She’s more than up to handling the criticism.

Of course, she must exude confidence in the strategy and maintain consistent and clear messaging. But it’s troubling when she says she doesn’t want a debate.

And that makes it even more crucial to have robust scrutiny from outside her inner circle.

Because if they are the right decisions, then they remain the right decisions. Questions and alternative viewpoints won’t change that, and we can be more confident we’re on the right course.

We shouldn’t run from transparent and open debate – scrutiny can only improve the decision-making.”

Few would disagree with that statement.

In fact, it was media scrutiny that revealed severe short-coming in MIQ facilities with security; lack of appropriate PPE gear, and behaviours of some staff which was less than ideal.

This blogger, and most people have no problem with media ensuring that MIQ, vaccinations, and lockdowns are appropriately handled.

We are mature people (generally, with minor exceptions) . We can take information that may be difficult to digest. We want bad news given to us unvarnished, with options for answers.

That is why, as Ms Vance writes – though in a vaguely dismissive way – that we value our scientists and medical personnel with such high regard:

It’s fantastic that the tight circle of academic experts advising the Government make themselves readily available to explain the modelling and the science.

In the pandemic, medical experts (the virologists, epidemiologists, statisticians and modellers) have become our modern-day talisman. It’s a refreshing change from the tendency to devalue expertise seen in recent years.

Physicist and covid-modeller, Shaun Hendy’s participation in the Government’s daily 1PM ‘presser’ on 23 September and Epidemioloist, Rod Jackson appearing on TV3’s Newshub Nation, on 2 October, did not ‘sugar coat’ what we were facing. They were blunt and honest with the facts and possible consequences.

Few people objected and those that did, in one instance, appears to have had a bad case of bruised-egoitis.

But what she and her colleagues fail to utterly comprehend is that it’s not scrutiny of the government that has provoked a torrent of criticism against the media itself.

Criticism – as comments above clearly show – revolve around non-stop, negative stories from business interests; New Zealanders stuck overseas (a number of whom are the authors of their own predicament); naked political opportunism; and giving voice to practically anyone with dissatisfaction. It is repetitive; lacking any real purpose (except click-generating headlines); and – I  submit – psychologically detrimental.

Individual journalists and media outlets seem to think that they don’t produce much in the way of negative stories. Perhaps one or two a day? But add all the media outlets together, many with different aspects of an individual organisation (eg; RNZ’s ‘Morning Report‘, ‘Mid Day Report‘, ‘Checkpoint‘, ‘Lately‘); each churning out their own ‘doom n gloom’ stories – and it mounts up very quickly.

Ms Vance and her colleagues are wholly responsible for the material they put out. The public has little in-put into decision-making. The things they write; the stories they publish or broadcast, have content that inevitably has an effect. (Why else preface some stories with warnings of “Content may be disturbing – viewer/reader discretion advised”?)

A constant diet of bad news stories cannot be mentally healthy. Especially to a nation already stressed with hyper-vigilance as covid bangs on our rampart walls. When five million people have experienced massive disruption to their lives with outbreaks; closures of schools and businesses; lockdowns; and advised to stay home – these are all pressures we have to face.

Most do not complain. We do what we must to save lives. We have seen the misery covid19 has caused overseas, bringing even the most powerful nations to the brink of disaster. So we have seen the lessons from overseas and the consequences of failure is not lost on us.

It is already tough-going for many and stressful. Adding the burden of negativity is not only unhelpful, it adds further despondency. It is a slow chipping away of our resolve.

So when we do speak up, it would do the media industry well to listen. After all, are media folk not part of our community?

The whole point of journalism and the media machine is to engage and inform the public (as well as sell toothpaste, pet-food, etc). The moment the public stop listening, reading, because of an onslaught of highly-emotive stories is the point they stop engaging.

When people switch off and refuse to engage any further, journalism has failed us.

The media are not above scrutiny or criticism. Just as politicians are open to scrutiny and criticism. Consider the criticisms – maybe, just maybe, critics have a point?

Think, before you publish yet another carping from Michael Barnett, or a traveller who is stuck in Sydney after the Trans Tasman bubble was closed. Is it really “news”?  What will it achieve? Will it inform us? Or is the headline simply geared to attract eyeballs and clicks and bugger the effects it might have on already-stressed people?

If it’s not ‘new’ then maybe it’s not news.

Postscript

Lest this blogger be another cog in the Great Negativity Machine, I point to today’s (3 October) episode of TV One’s Q+A episode.

The show presented critical problems affecting the nation’s vaccination programme.  There was vox populi and community workers interviewed. Solutions were suggested and discussed. 

No emotion-bombing; no ‘heart string’ stories. No whining from entitled sector lobbyists or ill-informed ‘reckons’.

The viewer was encouraged to engage, listen, and think on what was presented.

The same with the follow-up interview with Air New Zealand CEO, Greg Foran. No whining, no demands, no sense of entitlement; just a basic Kiwi attitude of dealing with the cards that have been dealt, and getting on with it*.

At one point, Q+A host Jack Tame asked Mr Foran’s opinion on government’s elimination strategy;

“Do you think the elimination strategy is sustainable?”

The CEO’s reply?

“Look, Jack, that’s something that probably the scientists and the government need to answer…”

It felt as if we were in a room listening to mature adults.

More of this style of responsible media, please.

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(* Note: Admittedly, Air New Zealand has a billion dollar ‘life line’ with the government. But their potential liabilities can also be measured in the billion-dollar range. That ‘life-line’ can become shortened very quickly; airlines can gobble up hundreds of millions of dollars almost as fast as their jets can fly.)

 

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References      

RNZ: Covid-19 – Young people need some rights taken away to encourage vaccination – Sir John Key (alt.link)

The Spinoff: Ranked – All of today’s op-ed columns by Sir John Key

Stuff media: Anna Fifield – No, Sir John Key, New Zealand is not like North Korea

Newshub: Auckland business leader Michael Barnett wants Government to listen closely to smaller businesses about improving COVID-19 support schemes

NZ Herald: Covid-19 Delta outbreak – Retirees stuck in Australia fear being stripped of pensions

RNZ: ‘We need clarity’ for Covid-19 test to cross Auckland border – business owner

RNZ: Orion Health CEO urges revamp of MIQ to allow business travel

RNZ: Business pushing for self-managed isolation for overseas work travel

RNZ: Businesses on home isolation trial – ‘This has been a long time coming’

NZ Herald: Covid Delta outbreak – Richard Prebble – Muldoonism looms large – and that’s a problem

NZ Herald: Paul Henry – I love this country – but I’m not sure I have the heartbeats for it any more

NZ Herald: Steven Joyce – Jacinda Ardern Government getting too big for its bossy boots

NZ Herald: Minister to students – ‘keep your heads down’

Twitter: @MightyBlender –1:19 PM · Aug 12, 2021

Twitter: @_seashelleyes_ – 12:23 PM · Sep 20, 2021

Twitter: @CamDouglasMS – 2:52 PM · Sep 20, 2021

Twitter: @fabtknz – 7:02 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @liberal_owners – 9:07 AM · Aug 26, 2021

Twitter: @MariaSherwood2 – 8:51 AM · Aug 26, 2021

Twitter: @vincristine –  8:37 AM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @DesiCommsMan12:52 PM · Sep 24, 2021

Twitter: @BozzyWozzer – 7:25 PM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @mlpgirl775:27 PM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @cleotibbitts – 8:49 PM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @LetsGetPfizered8:43 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @RobSuisted1:22 PM · Sep 7, 2021

Twitter: @Shawn675869439:37 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @sandzz7710:13 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @Tukeke70 – 9:57 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @Tikorangi – 9:35 AM · Aug 31, 2021

Twitter: @MarkcyCleary – 9:57 AM · Aug 31, 2021

Twitter: @IdioticTwinkles – 10:09 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @WormwoodNGall8:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @FoxyLustyGrover – 6:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @infinite_ink 6:38 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @SJPONeill – 6:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @pet_brain – 10:55 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @Kate_DowlingNZ – 8:37 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @fkleitch – 1:33 PM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @BoxyBristol – 7:42 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @kaffiene_nz – 10:59 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @Writer_Caroline – 11:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @Feebeekiwi – 9:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @MJWhitehead – 6:40 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @HantonSusie – 8:51 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @NapierinFrame – 7:34 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @Lady__Seraphina – 11:27 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @douggie27 – 6:41 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @js_eighty – 8:36 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @MarieMenzies5 – 7:51 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @gracillus – – 10:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @platinumpixienz – 10:21 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @Hurricane15 – 7:02 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Raise the Bar Hospo Union: About

Twitter: @GGrucilla – 12:09 PM · Oct 2, 2021

Stuff media: If the Government is making the right decisions on Covid-19, it will withstand scrutiny

Coast: Brian Tamaki’s controversial new ‘hot’ advertisement

Ministry of Health: COVID-19 update 23 September 2021

Newshub: Coronavirus – Expert’s blunt message to the Govt as it ponders level 2 for Auckland – ‘How brutal do you want to go?’

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Rodney Jones says Shaun Hendy’s 7000-death vaccine model doesn’t pass plausibility test

TVNZ: Q+A – 3 October 2021

Twitter: Shaun Hendy – 8:04 AM · Sep 26, 2021

Additional

The Spinoff: New Zealand cannot abandon its Covid elimination strategy while Māori and Pasifika vaccination rates are too low

The Spinoff:  Siouxsie Wiles – Why we need to stay the course on elimination

Reference sources

MIQ: History and origins of MIQ

Covid19: History of the COVID-19 Alert System

MBIE: Managed isolation and quarantine data

RNZ: Timeline – The year of Covid-19 in New Zealand

Other Blogs

Bryan Gould: The Herald’s Dilemma

The Daily Blog: John Minto – When will Michael Barnett stop whinging, whining and bleating?

The Standard: Smug hermit king

The Standard: Key’s baaaack

Previous related blogposts

One thousand dead New Zealanders per year?

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Acknowledgement: Guy Body

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Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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= fs =

Trumpwatch: What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

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… as long as those coffin-nails were “Made in America”.

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Trump’s First 100 Days can boast of several “achievements”. But not the variety that progressive-minded people – especially those concerned with global environmental problems and threats to peace – would welcome with a cheer.

Pimping for Coal

On 28 March, Trump signed another of his many Executive Orders – the sort of Presidential Executive Orders that in the past he railed against when Obama was President of the United States. As he ‘tweeted’ in 2012;

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This time, Trump was signing an Executive Order over-turning Obama’s policies of moving America away from using CO2-producing  coal for energy production. To avoid any accusation of “fake news” from Trump’s supporters, these are his actual words from the White House website;

 “ Today, I’m taking bold action to follow through on that promise.  My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.  We’re going to have clean coal — really clean coal.  With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations.  (Applause.)  And, by the way, regulations not only in this industry, but in every industry.  We’re doing them by the thousands, every industry.  And we’re going to have safety, we’re going to have clean water, we’re going to have clear air.

Trump’s fairy-tale fantasies on “clean coal — really clean coal” and promising that Americans (and the rest of us on Planet Earth) would enjoy “clean water, we’re going to have clear air” was parroted by the  head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and self-confessed climate-change denier,  Scott Pruitt;

I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs, and pro-environment. We don’t have to choose between the two.

Trump’s appointment of Pruitt was scandalous by any measure, especially as the former Republican Oklahomas attorney general sued the Environmental Protection no less than thirteen times.

Little wonder than the  Sierra Club  called for Pruitt’s resignation for mis-leading the US Congress on increasing levels of carbon dioxide leading to worsening  climate change.

Just as bad as Pruitt’s head-in-the-sand attitude toward anthropogenic climate change, is Trump’s reference to “clean coal”. There is no such thing, as Fortune magazine reported in October last year;

As for Trump, he failed to mention that no U.S. major clean coal plant is operational. He also neglected to say that the U.S. coal industry has been struggling partly because of the economics involved. The rise in low cost U.S. natural gas, as well as cheap wind and solar, has done as much to hurt the coal industry as have environmental regulations. When power companies close an aging coal plant, it makes more economic sense for them to build a new natural gas plant, or even solar and wind ones.

The article by Fortune’s Katie Fehrenbacher mentions two “clean coal” power plants that, after years of Federal taxpayer-funding and delays, have never become operational. A third “clean coal” power plant was due to be operational by the end of 2016 – but according to it’s builders is no longer  economic.

Any notion of “clean coal” appears to be a wishful fantasy in Trump’s mind.

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists summed up Trump’s vandalism of the environment;

The wrecking ball that is the Trump presidency continues. The executive order undercuts a key part of the nation’s response to climate change, without offering even a hint of what will replace it.

US National Parks: See it; Love it; Mine the #@$?%!*&$ out of it!

In a piece of cunningly written euphemistic double-speak and jargon, Trump’s Executive order on 26 April announced plans to review Monument lands (similar to National Parks) with an agenda for “economic growth”;

Designations of national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, recently recodified at sections 320301 to 320303 of title 54, United States Code (the “Antiquities Act” or “Act”), have a substantial impact on the management of Federal lands and the use and enjoyment of neighboring lands.  Such designations are a means of stewarding America’s natural resources, protecting America’s natural beauty, and preserving America’s historic places.  Monument designations that result from a lack of public outreach and proper coordination with State, tribal, and local officials and other relevant stakeholders may also create barriers to achieving energy independence, restrict public access to and use of Federal lands, burden State, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth.  Designations should be made in accordance with the requirements and original objectives of the Act and appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.

Though couched in nebulous bureaucratese,  alarms bells begin to ring with certain key phrases peppered throughout the Executive Order:   “the importance of the Nation’s wealth of natural resources to American workers and the American economy“; “Monument designations … may also create barriers to achieving energy independence“; “Monument designations … and otherwise curtail economic growth“; “appropriate use of Federal lands“; “including the economic development“; “properly manage designated areas“; etc.

Here in New Zealand, National’s half-arsed proposal seven years ago to open up Schedule 4 DoC conservation-land to mining was met with over-whelming public protest;

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Two and a half months later, National’s ministers caved to public anger. Their proposals sank without a trace.

Trump is yet to be confronted with similar fury from outraged Americans. In the meantime,  his Executive Order has called for the  re-classification of  landmarks of a historic or scientific nature;

“In making those determinations, the Secretary shall consider:

[…]

(ii)   whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest”

Once re-classified as non-historic landmarks, non-historic and non-prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of non-historic or non-scientific interest” – then it’s “Drill baby, Drill!

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Trump’s Executive Order sought “consultation” with “the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy“, the “Assistant to the President for Economic Policy“,  and strangely,  “the Secretary of Homeland Security“.

The Trump Administration was seeking “consultation” with the Secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy for obvious reasons: Trump was planning to commercially exploit the Monument parks.

What possible purpose could there be  for Trump to be consulting the Secretary of Homeland Security?

Simple: Crowd control.

As in;

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Trump was already making plans to react with an iron fist when Americans realised what their Glorious Leader was about to do to their Monument parks.

Protest would be met by force. Just ask the Native Americans who protested the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Trump takes a Dump on the Arctic’s Rump

On 29 April, Trump did the unthinkable (aside from launching the nukes and starting the Last World War) – he signed yet another Executive Order, the ‘America-First Offshore Energy Strategy’, authorising oil exploration in Chukchi and Beaufort Seas – both in the Arctic Ocean;

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and in order to maintain global leadership in energy innovation, exploration, and production, it is hereby ordered as follows:

[…]

…as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including the procedures set forth in section 1344 of title 43, United States Code, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, give full consideration to revising the schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales, as described in that section, so that it includes, but is not limited to, annual lease sales, to the maximum extent permitted by law, in each of the following Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas, as designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) (Planning Areas):  Western Gulf of Mexico, Central Gulf of Mexico, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic.

As Trump stated on the White House website;

This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration.  It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban.  So hear that:  It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban, and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers.  (Applause.)  In addition, Secretary Zinke will be reconsidering burdensome regulations that slow job creation.  

The Order effectively reverses Obama’s final act of his Presidency, in December last year, where he placed large marine areas under Federal protection from commercial development;

President Barack Obama on Tuesday moved to indefinitely block drilling in vast swaths of U.S. waters.

The president had been expected to take the action by invoking a provision in a 1953 law that governs offshore leases, as CNBC previously reported.

The law allows a president to withdraw any currently unleased lands in the Outer Continental Shelf from future lease sales. There is no provision in the law that allows the executive’s successor to repeal the decision, so President-elect Donald Trump would not be able to easily brush aside the action.

[…]

The lands covered include the bulk of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic. The United States and Canada also announced they will identify sustainable shipping lanes through their connected Arctic waters.

Canada on Tuesday also imposed a five-year ban on all oil and gas drilling licensing in the Canadian Arctic. The moratorium will be reviewed every five years.

[…]

Environmentalists say drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic puts the waters at immediate risk, for oil and gas that would not come online for years, after a transition to cleaner energy sources could be under way.

“The Arctic Ocean is ground zero for the impacts of climate change, and any oil production there would be decades away and inconsistent with addressing climate change before it is too late,” the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement after the announcement.

Obama’s Executive Order was a complete 180-degree turn-around from his previous decision to allow Shell to test-drill in the Chukchi sea in August 2015. Shell’s exploration programme folded a month later, citing “the disappointing results of an initial well, the high costs of development and the  challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska“.

After he has finished despoiling the land, air, and waterways of the Continental United States, Trump’s decision to overturn Obama’s Executive Order and  allow oil exploration in the Arctic places one of the most fragile eco-systems at risk from environmental degradation;

Concerns have been raised over Shell’s ability to clean up a spill, should one occur, in an area covered by sea ice for much of the year. If one considers the example of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it took 87 days to cap, even though it happened in a fairly accessible region. In the Arctic, which is virtually impenetrable in winter, a similar gusher would be far more difficult to tackle. More to the point, the region’s ecology is about the most fragile on the planet and would be far more vulnerable to the impact of a major spill.

However the legality of Trump’s Executive Order attempting to overturn his predecessor’s Executive Order is questionable, with the increasing likelihood  of environmental groups launching legal challenges;

It’s unclear whether a new president has the authority to reverse those bans without Congress, says Robin Craig, an environmental law professor at the University of Utah. If, following this executive order, the Trump administration decides to go ahead and open up those areas, environmental groups will likely sue. But because there’s no precedent, it’s unclear what the outcome of those lawsuits will be. “Who knows whether they’ll win or lose,” Book says. “It hasn’t been litigated yet.”

But groups like Oceana are ready to fight. Drilling in Arctic waters is dangerous and there’s no proven way to clean sea ice from potential oil spills, Pyne says. “It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s stormy, and it’s covered in sea ice,” she says. And drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts is unpopular with businesses and residents in coastal states. Oil spill can negatively affect fishing and tourism, and states just don’t want to risk it. “Regardless who’s in the White House coastal communities and businesses do not want offshore drilling off their coast,” Pyne says.

More of Trump’s anti-environmental and pro-business, pro-exploitation policies can be found on the Forbes and National Geographic websites. The picture painted by Trump’s policy enactments (through one Executive Order after another) and appointees makes for disturbing reading.

This is not a happy time for Planet Earth.

Battle of the Bizarro Hair-Monsters

What is it with sovereign leaders with little hands and appalling hair styles?

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Not content with planning to  ravage his own country’s environmental heritage, Trump’s provocative bellicosity toward North Korea could spark a catastrophic regional conflict where millions might be killed, and the global economy sent spiralling into another debilitating recession.

In the past, Trump has resolutely condemned America’s involvement in international conflicts;

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Four years later, he has bombed  Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan – and threatening war with North Korea;

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This is a man-child confronted with complex international crisis; with minimal political  experience (except what he ‘consumes’ from US movies such as ‘Rambo‘, ‘The Green Berets‘, ‘Red Dawn‘, etc); with access to an arsenal of atomic weapons.

The world is still having to contend with the violent aftermath of America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Trump is apparently hell-bent on more military adventurism?

Each day we wake up and the planet is still intact – is a miracle.

Words of Wisdom from a Trump Supporter

From Former Representative Joe Walsh (Republican, Illinois) comes this brutally candid admission;

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“ As a Trump supporter I do my best not to pay attention to what he says. If I pulled my hair out for every nutty thing he said, I’d be bald.”

Nothing further need be said.

The only questions that remain to be asked are;

  1. How much environmental damage can this man cause before he leaves the White House (or is impeached)?
  2. Will he spark The Last World War?
  3. Will humanity learn not to vote for demagogues that promise so much; deliver so little; and threaten everything in-between?

There have to be solutions to the failed experiment of neo-liberalism and globalisation that does not require madmen (and women) to be elevated to power.

As the 1930s showed us, demagoguery is a false road toward solving our very real problems.

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Postscript

On 30 April, Trump held a public rally in Nuremburg  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There  were no torch-light processions of goose-stepping Aryan-types in tight, gleaming, spit-polished, black jack-boots. It was a more informal affair.

Dress code, WASP-casual;

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For Trump, the ego-massaging rallies of last year’s election campaign have become an on-going campaign to keep his supporters ‘pumped’. Where have we seen that before…?

Oh yeah;

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Good old Big Bruvver and his Two Minute Hate sessions. (Just substitute Hillary Clinton for Goldstein; scream “Lock her up, lock her up!” instead of “Traitor, traitor!”, and you’ve nailed it. ‘1984’ or 2017, it makes no difference.)

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References

White House: Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act

Wikipedia: National Monuments

NZ Herald: Huge protest says no to mining on conservation land

Fairfax media: Government confirms mining backdown

Grist:  Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump, resurrects “drill, baby, drill” theme

Chicago Tribune: Dakota Access oil pipeline camp cleared of protesters; dozens arrested

Vogue: 6 Things President Trump Criticized Barack Obama For and Is Currently Doing Himself

Twitter: Trump – Obama’s Executive orders – 11 July 2012

White House: Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Order to Create Energy Independence

The Guardian: New EPA head Scott Pruitt – ‘We can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment’

The Atlantic: Trump’s EPA Chief Denies the Basic Science of Climate Change

Fortune: What Donald Trump Didn’t Mention About Clean Coal

Huffington Post: Scott Pruitt Has Sued The Environmental Protection Agency 13 Times

Common Dreams: The Sierra Club – Pruitt Misled Congress on CO2, Senators Should Demand He Be “Removed from His Position.”

Time: President Trump Signs Executive Order Rolling Back Obama-Era Environmental Regulations

White House: Presidential Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

Wikipedia: Chukchi Sea

Wikipedia: Beaufort Sea

Wikipedia: Cook Inlet

White House: Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Order on an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

CNBC: Obama invokes 1953 law to indefinitely block drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans

The Guardian: Shell gets final clearance to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic

The Seattle Times: Obama protection of Arctic, Atlantic meant to thwart Trump desires to drill

The Guardian: Nature’s last refuge: climate change threatens our most fragile ecosystem

The Verge: Trump signs executive order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in Arctic and beyond

Forbes: The 4 Worst Things Trump Has Done For The Environment In His First 100 Days – And 1 Good

National Geographic: A Running List of How Trump Is Changing the Environment

Middle East Eye: 13 tweets Donald Trump sent warning US not to attack Syria

CBS News: U.S. bombs al Qaeda suspects in Yemen for 2nd night

New York Post: US unleashes dozens of missiles on Syria in response to chemical attack

The Guardian: Devastation and a war that rages on: visiting the valley hit by the Moab attack

The Mirror: Donald Trump warns North Korea is ‘looking for trouble’ and says US ‘will solve problem with or without China’

The Week: Former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh: ‘As a Trump supporter I do my best not to pay attention to what he says’

Additional

ABC: Experts – Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

Radio NZ: Trump signs Arctic oil drilling order

The Verge: Trump signs executive order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in Arctic and beyond

NASA: NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections

NASA: 2016 Climate Trends Continue to Break Records

Other Blogs

Redline: Trump and how the ruling class rule

The Daily Blog: Andra Jenkin – One in a Million – Donald Trump’s Administration Achievements

The Daily Blog: Andra Jenkin – The Powers that Be

The Standard:  The patriotic millionaires

The Standard: Poor Donald

The Standard: Donald Trump and Florida

Your NZ: Trump wants ‘really clean coal’

Previous related blogposts

Trumpwatch: The Drum(pf)s of War

Trumpwatch: One minute closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 May 2017.

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It’s Official, The Sky Will Fall – Phil O’Reilly

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The sky is falling

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As the rightwing and their business foot-soldiers are continuing their mad panic (or more accurately, their mad attempts to panic the public) over the Labour-Green proposal for a single electricity buyer-desk, aka, NZ Power – the public have moved on.

Not that the right wing have noticed. Their fear-campaign is still cranking out all manner of garbage to strike the Fear Of Mammon into the hearts and minds of the Great Unwashed Masses.

Chief executive of BusinessNZ, Phil O’Reilly, had this op-ed piece published yesterday (30 April);

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NZ Power - electricity - Greens - Labour -  lower power electricity prices

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – More competition good for power sector

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After only the first paragraph, O’Reilly launches into a list of dire sky-is-falling list of Doomsday scenarios;

  1. Price controls harm investment.”
  2. New Zealand is dependent on overseas investment. Without it, home mortgages would become more expensive and harder to get…”
  3. New Zealand is dependent on overseas investment. Without it …  and more expensive to get investment to grow businesses and create jobs.”
  4. History shows that in places with price controls – the former Soviet Union, Venezuela, North Korea, or New Zealand under the Muldoon wage and price controls – the result is capital flight, run-down industries and poorer populations.”
  5. This threat also almost immediately destroyed millions of dollars of value built up by small investors in the NZ Superannuation Fund, KiwiSaver and private power companies.”
  6. Electricity prices must take into account the cost of building new generators – if they didn’t, we’d find the lights would go out the moment we exceeded our capacity.”

O’Reilly left out terrorist attacks, alien invasion, and God striking us down with thunderbolts.

Some of his rhetoric is so bizarre that you have to wonder if O’Reilly actually believes his own BS. Take for example this remark,

Electricity prices rise because a growing population and growing economy bring growing demand for power, and growth in demand requires investment in new generation plant, which is large-scale, long-lived and expensive to build.

Acknowledgment: IBID

O’Reilly then goes on to claim,

Much of the 64 per cent price rise under Labour resulted from interventionist policies.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

So if I have this straight; according to Mr O’Reilly, “Much of the 64 per cent price rise under Labour” is due toa growing population and growing economy bring growing demand for power”?!

Because that’s what he is implying;  growing population + economy = 64% in electricity price rises.

That’s utter bullshit.

The population of New Zealand grew from 3.8 million in January 2000 to our current 4.4 million. (See:   Trading Economics – New Zealand Population) That’s an increase of 600,000 – 15.8% (hopefully my math is correct on this calculation).  Somewhat short of the 64% that O’Reilly quotes.

As for suggesting that New Zealand’s economy grew by 64% during Labour’s term in office – as much as every left-winger  would love to acknowledge that – no. There has never been that degree of growth in New Zealand between 2000/08 or even 2000/13. Or any other decades;

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NZ GDP 2000 - 2008

Acknowledgment: Trading Economics – GDP Growth Rate

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After all the fear-mongering and name-calling, the only word left to describe O’Reilly’s piece is; laughable. His assertions are derisable; his “facts” are dubious and unsupported by evidence (ie; he’s made it up); and his fear-threat of more expensive mortages is  bogey-man stuff.

It may come as a shock to Mr O’Reilly – but whilst some of the public can be gullible, we are not that thick.

Nor do we willingly believe absurd claims like this,

Electricity prices must take into account the cost of building new generators – if they didn’t, we’d find the lights would go out the moment we exceeded our capacity.”

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – More competition good for power sector

Yes, we have had power cuts in the past. Usually due to low water storage in the dams; transmission line failure; or other equipment break-downs or shut-down for maintenance.

But let’s not forget the our entire past electricity generation infra-structure, such as Manapouri, Benmore,  Clyde Dam, etc,  were the  result of State  interventionist investment in energy infra-structure.

None of it was built by private enterprise in response to “consumer demand”. Private investment has been a relatively recent advent, such as Contact Energy’s Te Mihi development – a project, by the way that was under-taken during  Labour’s administration. (See: Te Mihi Power Station)

New Zealand has built up it’s energy infra-structure. We can do it again, when required. We most certainly did not rely on private enterprise.

But these are all “inconvenient facts” that the Right refuse to deal with – or even acknowledge. Right wingers like O’Reilly tend to re-write history in an Orwellian fashion, to suit their neo-liberal agenda.

Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time…

The associated poll with O’Reilly’s op-ed piece is hardly scientific, but as an indicator, it shows that people are waking up to the biggest con of the last thirty years of New Right “reforms”,

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More competition good for power sector  (2)

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Nearly two-thirds think that cheaper electricity is “about time”.

Just over a third want to “stick to what we’ve got”. Bloody National supporters – thick as two planks.

Well, I have a perfect solution to the demands for both groups;

  • Those 60.6% who want cheaper power can sign up to NZ Power, and recieve cheaper electricity through a single-desk buyer.
  • The remainder, 34.8%, can keep buying their electricity at “market” rates; paying whatever their powerco demands from them.

Both groups are catered for.

Those who want it, will get cheaper power.

National supporters (and we know who you are, you very thilly, thilly people) can keep getting gouged.

Choice is good, eh?

I’m happy.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 May 2013.

Choice for everyone, eh?

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Additional

NZ Herald:  Lid blown on power price rort (3 Feb 2013)

NZ Herald:  The 30-year power price hike (3 Feb 2013)

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