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Posts Tagged ‘police’

Life in Lock Down: Day 14

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April 8: Day 14 of living in lock-down…

The good news first: the downward trajectory of new cases appears to be a real thing. In the last four days, since Sunday, new infections have been dropping:

Sunday: 89 new cases

Monday: 67

Tuesday: 54

Today (Wednesday): 50

The bad news? Businesses and their shop-bought political servants in Parliament and fellow-travellers in the msm will be agitating to have the already-porous lock-down lifted as soon as the four week period has ended. A certain right-wing politician – with one eye on winning his electorate and boosting his Party Vote, and another eye on potential One Percenter donors – has actually called for lifting the lock-down even earlier.

Add to the above toxic mix of money-hungry business people and their right-wing political stooges – the repugnant side of self-entitled, privileged Middle New Zealanders for whom the rules do not seem to apply – and the stage is set for a potential disaster.

With the Easter long weekend fast approaching, police have been issuing statements that they will not tolerate people jumping into their cars; boats in tow; and heading off to their holiday “baches/cribs”;

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Up until this point the police have been pleading for everyone to do the “right thing”. Because as we all know, pleading works so well for a minority of Middle Class selfish idiots. The same selfish idiots who usually vote National because they demand tough “Law and Order” policies when it comes to brown people in Otara or Porirua – but don’t ever expect it used against their own privileged white skins.

The Middle Class have always expected better treatment than their poorer (mostly brown) cuzzies. Case in point, the Australian government has temporarily increased welfare benefit payments;

Jobseekers will get a $550 boost to their fortnightly welfare payments for six months in one of the largest increases to social security benefits in Australia’s history, as the government seeks to shield the unemployed ahead of a looming recession.

In a press conference at Parliament House on Sunday, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said the changes, which effectively double the rate of Jobseeker Payment, reflected a desire to cushion those “who will be feeling the first blows of the economic impact from the coronavirus”.

Make no mistake, this is not about giving extra humanitarian support for lower socio-economic people who have survived on the most basic welfare benefits. The simple reason the benefits are increasing is, as Scott Morrison, disclosed: “to cushion those “who will be feeling the first blows of the economic impact from the coronavirus”. Translation: to pander to the Middle Class who will be made jobless as covid19 cripples the Australian economy and send hundreds of thousands of them onto welfare.

Imagine the howls of outrage if Middle Class workers made unemployed suddenly discovered how pitiful welfare actually is?

The Middle Class votes (unlike those in lower socio-economic groups). No government will want to antagonise that group of voters. So up goes welfare – temporarily.

That same sense of privileged entitlement is also pervasive throughout (some of) our own Middle Class.

But not this time. I suspect that the great majority of New Zealanders from every socio-economic class; ethnic group; political leaning; gender, race; etc, have had a gutsful of these entitled oafs for whom a global pandemic means very little except an impromptu holiday. Most New Zealanders, I believe, want to see the millions of tax dollars spent on Police put to good use, clamping down on spoiled pricks who think they can get away with shit because… expensive car… expensive holiday home… latest devices… nice clothes… often private schooled spawn… in short, they’re entitled.

Our ‘protestant urge to punish’ may finally be put to good use.

Up until now, Police response has been one of tolerance that has been increasingly frustrating to those of us who fulfil our collective responsibility to stay home and respect the lock-down. The Police disclosed on 8 April that they “have now dealt with 367 breaches of the alert level four lockdown rules, with 45 prosecutions, 309 warnings and 13 youth referrals“.

Only 45 prosecutions out of 367 breaches? Is this the same Police who are going uber-macho with their armed response teams? In poorer neighbourhoods, of course.

So it’s refreshing to see in the last 24 hours our police force leadership growing a pair and moving from plaintive pleas, to outright threats of arrest;

We have … the power to arrest and we can charge for breach of the Health Notice. We’ve taken a pretty gentle approach up to this point but people have had a long time now to understand what the powers are, and so we are prepared to take enforcement action if people are deliberately flouting the rules.

And we will be out in high visibility, patrolling. We will use checkpoints in some places.

Our message to people is ‘stay home’. We’ve put too much into this to compromise it by trying to get away for a holiday weekend.” – Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, 8 April 2020

Make no mistake. The idiots who wilfully flout the rules are endangering everyone else. People have lost their jobs; their incomes; their businesses; and tragically, their lives overseas, and one here in Aotearoa.

As Far North mayor, John Carter, explained with crystal clarity;

“If we all behave ourselves, we’ll all be able to travel freely without restrictions soon. But if we breach it, and decide that we can travel and one or two or three of us spread the disease then we’re going to be in lockdown for a hell of a lot longer.”

There must be zero tolerance shown to these idiots. Prosecute and convict. No exceptions: lives and livelihoods depend on this.

Otherwise, this;

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Meanwhile, my own living in Lock-Down continues. Except, of course, I have little choice in this crisis and being part of the wider health sector, I’m an essential worker. (Kind of like winning Reverse Lotto?)

This morning, my usual ride to work took me past the Park N Ride carpark. Only two cars present.

On the main thoroughfare to SH2, the white motorhome was still parked in its odd, facing-oncoming-traffic, spot.

On the motorway, the following were observed; a light gravel-truck, marked “Whakatiki”, carrying a full load of gravel; a small “Kiwirail” hi-ab truck; an unmarked small tanker-truck; 2 ambulances; “Cabernet Foods” refrigerated truck; a fire appliance truck; a black ute marked “Arlington Motors”; “JC Plumbing” van; an unmarked traffic management van; an “Armourguard” branded car; a ute marked “WE” (Wellington Electricity); a “Toll” van; a “FMS” van; an “Inter Group” truck; a medium-sized gravel hauling truck; “Arrow” branded van; a “Downer” van; another gravel truck (company name not visible); a covered “Linfox” truck; a “Food Rescue” truck; a “Big Chill” truck; 2 “New World” covered trucks; “Downer” Incident Support truck; a “Mainfreight” truck; a flat deck truck carrying 4 port-a-loos; a “Downer” gravel truck; a “Chubb” security van; a “Hawkins” plumping van; a drain-unblocking plumber’s truck; a “Bridgestone Tyres” light truck; a “Prestons” light truck; an unbranded skip-bin truck, et al.

Note: several more commercial vehicles were either unmarked or their corporate logo could not be discerned.

Also sighted, a police car and a campervan, heading north.

It rained reasonably heavily the previous night. Cloud cover was clearing, and the sun was already shining over the region. Traffic north of SH58 turn-off was moderate; four vehicles in front, four to the rear. Moving south of the SH58 interchange, traffic thinned out. Traffic today trough the Terrace tunnel was the heaviest it has been throughout the lock-down, as was traffic in the city itself. Exiting the Terrace tunnel I could see about a dozen cars in front of me – a marked change from the one or three usually present.

Observation; despite the downward plunge for oil prices, 91 octane car fuel has remained steady at most Wellington major service stations at $1.95 per litre. Petrol companies have not been responsive to the massive drop in crude oil prices, it seems.

Tonight, as I watched the weather forecast on TV1, I was suddenly reminded how much I was missing my partner. We haven’t seen each other for three weeks, (phone calls and skype don’t count) as we scrupulously adhere to our own respective “bubbles”. There’s two weeks to go.

As Prime Minister Ardern has reminded us constantly, we need to Stay The Distance.

That evening, on my way home between 7.30 and 8.00PM, I sighted two Fulton Hogan road marking gangs at work; one in the Terrace Tunnel, and another north of the tunnel near the currently-blocked off Aotea Quay turn-off. More road marking work going on, in addition to that sighted on Monday night.

Is road marking an essential task during a global pandemic?

A further observation: with retailers, cafes, and most others obeying the letter of the law as well as the spirit, my bank account is healthier than ever before. There’s simply very little to spend money on aside from fuel, food, utilities, and the bank mortgage.

It’s amazing how much one can save (if privileged to be in a reasonable paying job) when consumerism is put on-hold.

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Current covid19 cases: 1,210

Cases in ICU: 4 (2 critical)

Number of deaths: 1

 

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References

RNZ: Covid-19: What happened on 5 April

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Coronavirus – New Zealand should consider quitting lockdown early, David Seymour says

Fairfax/Stuff media:  Coronavirus – PM, police Covid-19 warning – don’t go to your bach this Easter

NZ Herald:  Covid 19 coronavirus – Policing Easter lockdown to include checkpoints

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Police to arrest Easter holidaymakers who don’t comply with coronavirus lockdown rules

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Coronavirus – Police warn checkpoints, extra patrols will be in place to stop Easter lockdown getaways

NewstalkZB:  Covid 19 lockdown – Police setting up checkpoints over Easter

ODT – Star News:  Cabin fever – Warning to stay away from holiday spots over Easter

RNZ: Covid-19 – Easter holidaymakers warned to stay home, away from bach

Trading Economics: Crude Oil

RNZ: Covid-19 – The key developments in New Zealand from April 8

RNZ: Number of new cases of Covid-19 continues to slowly fall

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

Democracy Now:  Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

Life in Lock Down: Day 4

Life in Lock Down: Day 5

Life in Lock Down: Day 6

Life in Lock Down: Day 7

Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 8

Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 9

Life in Lock Down: Day 10

Life in Lock Down: Day 11

Life in Lock Down: Day 12

Life in Lock Down: Day 13

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Acknowledgement: Emmerson

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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 10 April 2020.

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Citizens vs the Rogue Deep State

16 November 2019 2 comments

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Blogger Martyn Bradbury has won his case against unreasonable search and surveillance against the NZ Police; and subsequent Police attempts to produce evidence in secrecy, in a closed Court.

His case highlights a disturbing growing trend in Aotearoa New Zealand for State power to be used against anyone who has “run foul” of The Establishment:

  • 2009: An attack by then Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, against two solo-mothers who criticised National’s social welfare policies. Ms Bennett released personal information pertaining to the two women’s financial circumstances to silence their criticism. Ms Bennett’s actions were deemed to have been a breach of their privacy.
  • 2011: Police searched several media offices during the “Teapot Tapes” controversy. Radio NZ’s Don Rood said Radio NZ would refuse to hand over any material that might compromise anonymous sources.
  • 2014: The illegal search and seizure of Nicky Hager’s property as retribution for his investigation into the close links between a far-right blogger and the National Party. Police were attempting to uncover the identity of the whistle-blower known as “Rawshark”. The search (and seizure of property) of Mr Hager’s home was later deemed unlawful.
  • 2017: The leaking of Winston Peters’ superannuation details as part of a patently obvious political dirty tricks campaign. Senior civil servants passed on details to then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley – the latter admitting in Court to disclosing those details to others. Mr Peters’ case was then leaked to the media prior to the 2017 General Election, ostensibly to destroy his political career and his party’s chances for re-election. The case is currently on-going.

This illustrates why so many New Zealanders – including the dogged John Campbell through his former programme, ‘Campbell Live’ – were 100% justified in opposing increasing the surveillance powers of the GCSB, SIS, Police, and god knows who else.

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The abuse of State agencies’ power – already considerable – showed how warranted our fears were. And still are.

It is why I made a submission in 2013 to the Justice Select committee on the GCSB Bill (which would permit surveillance of New Zealanders in our own country) should not only stop – but that the powers of the GCSB should be re-set to those of 1977. Then a full public enquiry held to determine what, if any, changes really needed to be made.

I still believe this more than ever to be necessary.

Secondly, the so-called Police apology to Martyn Bradbury is notable for an appalling part of their statement;

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“Police apologise for the stress and other psychological harm caused to you by virtue of YOUR INVOLVEMENT in this investigation.” [My emphasis.]

That is insulting phaseology and is a sly suggestion that blame continues to lie with Martyn Bradbury. It strongly suggests that Police hierarchy have yet to fully comprehend the nature of their abuse of power.

Additionally, there was also financial and reputational harm caused to Martyn by Police abuse of their power. It is now clear that he was denied bank loans as a direct consequence of improper Police activity.

The appropriate phrasing should have been;

“Police apologise for the financial, reputational, stress, and other psychological harm caused to you by virtue of our over-zealous actions that inappropriately involved you in our investigation.”

That phrasing would be accepting responsibility. The original wording barely achieves that.

Lastly, someone authorised this illegal activity. Those individual(s) are still in positions of authority within the New Zealand Police. They still wield power – unbridled power.

I find that troubling in the extreme.

There must be resignation(s) from the Police force. Someone must be held to account.

Just as the rest of us are, under the law.

Famous Last Words

From Parliament, on 27 March 2003, when the Government Communications Security Bureau Bill was being debated;

“This is a good bill. I do not accept the criticism of those who speak against it, that somehow it means that information about people will be gathered improperly…” – Peter Dunne, then-MP and leader of the United Future Party, speaking on behalf of a Bill to extend the power of the GCSB

Media Reporting

Perhaps even more shameful than Police behaviour has been that of the Fourth Estate reporting this issue to the public. Search engine checks (and confirmation by Martyn Bradbury) have both confirmed that only the NZ Herald and Magic Talk radio have reported the outcome of this case and the Police backdown and apology. The Herald article is pay-walled and consequently of little use to non-subscribers.

The Police abuse of power and the gross invasion of Martyn Bradbury’s private life could happen to any of us. But you wouldn’t know it going by the Total Media Blackout at TVNZ, Mediaworks/TV3, Fairfax/Stuff, and even sadly – Radio NZ.

Perhaps if TV3, TVNZ, et al, had reported less of the gruesome details of two current murder court cases, the public of Aotearoa New Zealand might be more informed on one of the most important civil rights cases in recent years.

Imagine if every mainstream media devoted the same scrutiny and reporting of Martyn Bradbury’s civil rights case against the police as they did to Grace Millane’s drinking on the night leading up to her demise.

We might be a very well-informed nation indeed. Sadly that is not the reality.

We have been let down badly by those empowered to preserve the law, and by those we entrust to speak truth to power. The media are supposedly tasked to shine a light on events that are of crucial importance to society; to the people; and to every individual.The freedom of the Fourth Estate is critical, they keep telling us, as a bulwark against State excess; to promote openness; and to hold those in power accountable.

They utterly failed us.

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The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”

– John Philpot Curran (24 July 1750 – 14 October 1817)

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References

The Daily Blog:  5 years and finally justice – NZ Police formally apologise & settle for breaching my civil rights

The Daily Blog:  My case against a secret NZ Police investigation that breached my privacy and my civil rights

The Daily Blog:  Kafka’s Shadow – My hearing against NZ Police & secret trials

Fairfax/Stuff media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

Fairfax/Stuff media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

NZ Herald:  TV3 searched over teapot tape

Fairfax/Stuff media: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

NZ Herald: Police pay Nicky Hager ‘substantial damages’ for unlawful search of his home in hunt for Dirty Politics hacker

Radio NZ: Anne Tolley admits ‘outburst’ in Winston Peters superannuation case

Mediaworks/Newshub: Police accessed blogger’s bank records unlawfully – report

Parliament: Hansards – Government Communications Security Bureau Bill – Third Reading

NZ Herald: ‘Bomber’ Bradbury gets apology from police after exploit used to access bank records, driving him to the edge

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB Act – some history…

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The secret closed trials of Soviet Russia. (And Aotearoa New Zealand)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 November 2019.

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The secret closed trials of Soviet Russia. (And Aotearoa New Zealand)

9 April 2019 2 comments

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History throughout the 20th century is replete with authoritarian regimes using  closed, secret trials to persecute dissidents. Closed, secret trials give a veneer of legal “respectability” to an autocratic regime that wants to do away with its critics, but without giving too much away to the public how they do it.

Or what the defendant might say in his/her defence.

The British conducted secret trials with their “Star Chamber“. From the late 15th century to the mid-17th century, the Star Chamber was a weaponised judicial system to serve the interests of the powerful elite.

Soviet Russia under Stalin perfected the system into an ‘artform’. Trials were secret before public show-trials were made for public consumption.

Often many of these “state enemies” were military officers, party leaders, and functionaries who had fallen “out of favour” with the ruling clique or somehow threatened the status-quo.

Other dissidents – intellectuals, academics, trade unionists, scientists, etc –  engaged in nothing more violent than a ‘ war of words’ and ‘contest of ideas’ with the regime. Autocratic regimes are not noted for tolerating a contest of anything, much less ideas that threaten their legitimacy and monopoly on power.

Thankfully, nothing like closed secret trials happen here in New Zealand, right?

Bad news, folks. We are about to have one. It will involve evidence given in secret, in a closed trial.

And the defendant will not be informed of the evidence against him.

On 28 August 2017, Daily Blog administrator/owner, Martyn Bradbury reported that he has been targetted by a Police search into his banking activities following the release of Nicky Hager’s expose, “Dirty Politics“.

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Martyn stated;

I was applying to extend credit to keep the blog afloat and I kept getting declined.

The extensions of credit weren’t extravagant and the manner in which the declines occurred just seemed odd.

I had followed the Nicky Hager case closely where Police had sent out warrantless requests for information and had obtained that information illegally and had even written a blog myself at the time of how the process of obtaining that information by Police could damage peoples credit rating and had even hypothesised that the Police could abuse this by targeting activists they didn’t like out of spite.

I don’t know why, but I felt suspicious and so wrote to the Banking Ombudsman and asked for access to my banking files to see if there was any 3rd person interaction.

The Banking Ombudsman replied early this year, and to my shock, I found out that the Police had, as part of their 2014 investigation into Nicky Hager, sent every bank in NZ a request for information claiming ‘Computer Fraud’.

The material released showed that before I was declined on my credit applications, each one had been referred in the first instance to the Banks computer fraud unit because the Police request red flagged my account.

Once I had discovered this, I requested information from the NZ Police into why they had secretly included me in the Nicky Hager investigation. They responded that while that had sent the requests, they wouldn’t tell me why.

Following police refusal to disclose why they had been secretly investigating him, the stress took a serious toll on his mental health. Police had effectively convicted Martyn a “computer fraudster” without the usual trial process.

Martyn took matters further;

I sent all the material I had from the Banking Ombudsman including the Police request and response to the Privacy Commission and lodged a compliant regarding the Police actions.

The Privacy Commission have just finished their investigation and found that not only did the Police breach my privacy, they also breached my civil rights by effectively conducting an illegal search.

The Privacy Commissioner found in Martyn’s favour;

Earlier this year, blogger Martyn Bradbury made a complaint to our office about a request from Police to his bank for information about him. We investigated that complaint, and recently sent him our final view on the matter.

Among other things, we concluded that Police had collected his information in an unlawful way by asking for such sensitive information without first putting the matter before a judicial officer. Our view is that this was a breach of Principle 4 of the Privacy Act, which forbids agencies from collecting information in an unfair, unreasonable or unlawful way.

Our investigation, as with all our investigations, only addressed the facts of this case. We concluded that Police action in this case constituted an interference with Mr Bradbury’s privacy.

The “judicial officer” that Privacy Commissioner John Edwards referred to is a Court judge.

In November 2017, Privacy Commissioner John Edwards issued a guidance statement “on releasing personal information to law enforcement agencies”. The Commissioner said,

“A number of different areas of our work have demonstrated the need for better information to be made available to companies and individuals about the circumstances in which personal information can be released and used for law enforcement purposes.”

Martyn took that decision to the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT). He said,  “they will process my complaint against the Police for breaching my privacy and civil rights through unlawful search. It’s not important to like or dislike my work, but I think we can all agree that allowing the Police to conduct secret investigations into activists and political bloggers that then damage their reputation negatively based on spurious grounds isn’t acceptable in a liberal democracy“.

Among the cases taken by the HRRT was a prosecution on behalf of businessman Matthew Blomfield against right-wing blogger Cameron Slater. The hearing for case was completed three years ago. (Blomfield won.)

On 12 June 2018, Police admitted liability in their October 2014 unlawful  search of Nicky Hager’s home. They made an apology and paid “substantial” restitution for considerable  harm caused to the journalist.

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David Fisher from the NZ Herald reported;

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager has accepted a police apology and payment of “substantial damages” after the unlawful search of his home during the investigation into the hacking that led to the Dirty Politics book.

The settlement revealed police had sought information claiming Hager was suspected of criminal behaviour, including fraud.

“Police accept that they had no basis for such allegations,” the settlement document read.

“Police apologise unreservedly for these breaches of his rights and have agreed to pay Mr Hager substantial damages and a contribution towards his legal costs.”

Martyn Bradbury was not so fortunate. Police refused to admit liability for their illegal search of Martyn’s bank accounts. He was forced to pursue his case further;

“…now that (Nickey Hager’s claim] has been finally settled, here is my statement to the NZ Police regarding my case against them for dragging me into this pus pit…

“You shredded my credit rating to every major bank in NZ by claiming I was a computer fraudster, caused me huge personal anguish and seized my banking records all for a case against Nicky Hager that you have now admitted you were wrong in proceeding with in the first place. I had nothing to do with hacking Cameron Slater’s computer and yet my case still sits in front of the Human Rights Review Tribunal despite the Privacy Commissioner recommending my rights have been breached.

It’s time to settle my case now.” 

…once the abuses of power have been settled, and the damages paid, THEN we should start asking how many other people have been caught out by this and who set the Police on this politically influenced investigation in the first place.”

In March this year, despite a massive caseload and under-funding that was hampering their mandated role, the Human Rights Review Tribunal announced they will finally hear Martyn’s case. The hearing is scheduled to take place in July and expected to last three days.

On 31 March, NZ Herald’s David Fisher published a story outlining impending Martyn’s case before the Human Rights Review Tribunal;

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Fisher also reported the extraordinary demand from Police that key evidence be presented in secret;

“Police indicate at this stage that it will seek to invoke the “closed” hearing process in relation to information relevant to this claim.”

According to Martyn, neither he nor his lawyer will be able to hear evidence presented at the HRRT hearing. In  emailed statements, Martyn told this blogger;

…The NZ Police intend to hold part of the trial in secret using secret evidence I am not allowed to see. Part of the trial will be open, part of it closed and held in secret.

My Human Rights Review Tribunal court case into how the police illegally seized my bank records as part of their failed Nicky Hager case  finally was granted a hearing to proceed and the Police announced that they would be demanding part of the trial is closed and held in secret using secret evidence I can’t see or challenge.

As stated above, this is all but unprecedented in Aotearoa New Zealand’s legal history.

A day after David Fisher’s story, Thomas Beagle from the NZ Council on Civil Liberties condemned the use of secret evidence in closed courts;

Let’s be clear about what secret evidence is. It’s not evidence that can’t be reported in the media, and it’s not evidence where the judge clears the court of all people not directly participating in the trial.

Secret evidence is evidence that the defendant, the person accused of the crime, is not allowed to see or hear, and therefore cannot challenge. The use of secret evidence makes a mockery of our justice system.

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How can we trust the people keeping the evidence secret? While the courts may assert their independence from government, to the defendant they’re just another part of the government apparatus that’s going to put them in jail without the chance to defend themselves.

The only other (known) use of secret evidence took place in early 2018 when a secret trial, in unusually strict security,  took place in Wellington’s High Court.

Thomas Beagle was scathing at the time;

The right to a fair trial is a key part of our justice system and this must include the right to see and test the evidence against you. It’s impossible to rebut evidence when you don’t even know what it says. It’s hard to even appeal when the judgement against you omits critical details that the decision relied upon.

Appointing an advocate and letting the judge see the information is all very well, but as far as the defendant is concerned it’s just one part of the state telling her that she can trust other parts of the state. This is no comfort when it’s the state acting against you in the first place.

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We’re told the secrecy is for “security reasons” but secret trials with secret evidence are a much more significant threat to our security and liberty.

We need to stop accepting the use of secret evidence in our courts, it has no place in a free and democratic society.

 

Judge Dobson, who adjudicated the original 2018 secret trial was equally disturbed at the secrecy, calling it “an anathema to the fundamental concepts of fairness“.

In his more recent article, Thomas Beagle listed only four laws in Aotearoa New Zealand that permit the use of secret evidence:

  • Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 has schedule 4 concerning the use of secret evidence in labour disputes with employees of agencies handling classified information.
  • Immigration Act 2009 where sections 33-42 and 240-244 are for the use of secret evidence in immigration decisions.
  • Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 has sections 101 – 113 for the use of secret evidence in offences concerning intercepting communications for the spy agencies.
  • Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 where section 38 is for the use of secret evidence in offences under this act.

It is unclear how Martyn’s illegal seizure of his personal bank records is permitted under any of those four Acts.

Even worse is the realisation that it is not Martyn who is defending himself against criminal charges. It is the Police who are on trial for mis-using their powers by breaching a person’s privacy without due regard to the laws of this country.

The police over-stepped and mis-used their powers of search and seizure. It was an illegal action, as Privacy Commissioner John Edwards stated with searing clarity, “that Police had collected his information in an unlawful way”.

Against this backdrop of over-zealousness at best and cynical illegality at worst, that Martyn is now expected to trust any evidence that the Police will offer at the HRRT hearing? Evidence that the Police will use to defend themselves? Evidence that Martyn will not be permitted to determine the validity of?

The Police misrepresented their case when they seized Martyn’s bank records. We will have no way of knowing if they will again attempt to misrepresent their case at the HRRT review.

This is absurd. It is also disturbing.

As Judge Dobson pointed out, the use of secret evidence in closed trials is anathema to the concept of a fair trial. As Thomas Beagle stated, “it has no place in a free and democratic society”.

So why are we, as a nation, permitting it?

On 24 March, this blogger wrote on the matter of the alleged Christchurch shooter’s impending trial;

Yet, conducting [his] trial in secret is also not a solution.

Secrecy breeds suspicion. It would give birth to a host of mind-numbingly tedious conspiracy theories. Salient information about his actions would be lost. It would create dangerous legal precedent.

If the alleged terrorist and mass-murderer of fifty innocent people has the right to a fair and open trial – on what grounds is the same right denied to a left-wing blogger who has committed no crime whatsoever? Remember, it is the Police on trial, not Martyn Bradbury.

This blogger will be sending this story to the Minister for Justice and Justice spokespeople from National, Greens, and NZ First.

But especially this story will be brought to Andrew Little’s attention. The secret trial of Martyn Bradbury is being done under the Minister’s watch.

Not a very good look, is it?

Time to put a stop to this Kafkaesque fiasco, Minister Little.

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Postscript

This story emailed to the following:

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References

Wikipedia: Star Chamber

Encyclopaedia Britannica: Purge Trials

Privacy Commissioner: Statement clarifying Martyn Bradbury’s privacy complaint

NZ Law Society: Privacy Commissioner issues guidance on personal information and transparency reporting

Justice Dept: IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW TRIBUNAL [2019] NZHRRT 13

NZ Herald: Police pay Nicky Hager ‘substantial damages’ for unlawful search of his home in hunt for Dirty Politics hacker

NZ Herald: Huge delays at Human Rights Tribunal as cases pile up

NZ Herald: ‘Secret’ evidence in closed hearing – how police want to defend access of blogger’s details without a legal warrant

NZ Council for Civil Liberties: Secret evidence is unjust and should be banned

Radio NZ: Hearing shrouded in secrecy at High Court in Wgtn

NZ Council for Civil Liberties: Secret evidence unacceptable

Additional

NZ Herald: Hunt for Rawshark sees police rapped again for ‘unlawful’ search of banking records

Other Blogs

The Standard: Bomber Bradbury wins privacy complaint against Police (28 August 2017)

The Daily Blog: Bryan Bruce – Good Cop. Bad Cop

The Daily Blog: My case against a secret NZ Police investigation that breached my privacy and my civil rights (28 August 2017)

The Daily Blog: My statement to the NZ Police now they have settled the illegal persecution of Nicky Hager (12 June 2018)

The Daily Blog: The Human Rights Review Tribunal FINALLY will hear my case against the NZ Police ( 7 March 2019)

The Daily Blog: Secret police trials using secret evidence in NZ – welcome to my Kafkaesque nightmare (31 March 2019)

Previous related blogposts

The Christchurch Attack: is the stage set for a continuing domino of death?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 April 2019.

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Media stories of the Week: Police Commissioner Mike Bush on dubious police practices

6 December 2015 2 comments

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Every so often, the mainstream news media do their job well, and little nuggets of insights are revealed…

Also on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, Police Commissioner Mike Bush was interviewed by veteran journalist-broadcaster, Lisa Owen.

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commisioner mike bush - the nation - 28 november 2015

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Some of the responses she elicited from the country’s most senior policeman were revealing.

Issue 1: The troubling case of Dr Jarrod Gilbert

On Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘, this country woke to disturbing news that NZ Police hierarchy were censoring academic researchers and preventing the use of collated data if it did not meet with their “standards”.

As reported by Radio NZ;

Jarrod Gilbert, a sociologist at the University of Canterbury, said police had told him he could not get simple data on where incidents such as assaults happen because of his association with gangs.

He said that association should come as no surprise.

“I entered the field as an academic and did the two largest studies on gangs this country’s ever seen.

“So in effect I’m being banned from studying crime, because I hang out with criminals, it’s just insane.”

Dr Gilbert said that Police insisted that academics sign a contract binding them to produce reports that did not have “negative results”;

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police contract with academics (2)

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Acknowledgement for above screen-shots: Jarrod Gilbert’s Blog

Most reasonable people would be aghast that a State agency – especially one with uniquely coercive powers such as the NZ Police – would think it acceptable behaviour to impose such restrictions on free academic research. Such controls are rarely seen outside of autocratic regimes such as dictatorships, one-party states, and governments operating under war-time conditions and/or a State of Emergency.

What might have been appropriate under Pinochet’s Chile; Gaddafi’s Libya, or the former East German Democratic Republic, has been playing out under our noses in good old, laid-back, “She’ll Be Right“, New Zealand.

As Dr Gilbert’s story went from Radio NZ to the rest of the msm (temporarily setting aside stories relating to Ritchie McCaw’s knighthood and latest hero-worship of our esteemed Dear Leader), and criticism of the Police’s authoritarian stance drew more criticism,  Deputy Chief Executive [of? for?] Strategy Mark Evans defended his organisation’s quasi-Stalinistic controls over the free-flow of information.

At 1.40pm on the same day Dr Gilbert went public, Deputy Chief Executive Strategy Mark Evans issued this statement;

Police places a high value in academic research which provides evidence to improve Police policy and practice. It is essential that our policing strategies and tactics are effective and focused. Having an evidence-based approach towards policing enables us to understand ‘what works’ best, and then put that into practice. Police has strong links with academic institutions and individual researchers who are involved in a range of research to encourage debate on various aspects of police work.

Police receives a large number of individual requests for academic research – 37 applications in 2014.  While Police already publishes large volumes of data, such research requests often involve access to confidential information, which can include personal identifiers. There can also be a substantial resourcing commitment involved in providing such information. 

To ensure appropriate decisions are made about such applications there is a robust process in place to ensure that they have benefits for Police, are of good standard, meet our privacy obligations and are feasible in relation to the demands on Police time and resources.   This process includes a Police vetting check on individuals involved in a research application.

The research agreement which academics are expected to sign with Police sets out our expectations, including that research is accurate, balanced and constructive.  Police reserves the right to discuss research findings with the academic if it misunderstands or misrepresents police data and information. Police also reserves the right to prevent further access to Police resources if a researcher commits any breach of the agreement.

Our priority is always to ensure that an appropriate balance is drawn between the privacy of individuals and academic freedom.  To date Police have not prevented access by any academic under this clause in the agreement.

While we will not discuss specific matters regarding Dr Gilbert, we can say that we have communicated to him that further consideration will be given to our decision regarding the security clearance (police vetting) check.

END

It is as if the Police have never heard of the Official Information Act 1982.

However, this was far from the “END” as Evans put at the conclusion of his statement.

Three days later, Commissioner Mike Bush was forced to accept that Police policy was out of step with a supposedly open, transparent, and democratic society. On ‘The Nation‘, interviewed by Lisa Owen at National Police Headquarters (?), Bush stated;

“So, what’s happened in the last week has caused us to really have a look at our policy. It was possibly fit for purpose at one stage. It’s not fit for purpose now. We work in a dynamic environment. So that’s being reviewed as we speak, both the policy and the decision that was made in respect of Dr Jarrod Gilbert, and I’m sure you’ll hear more about our review of that next week. But it’s also important to point out that the intent of that was to keep people’s information private, and that’s why we have some policies and rules.

[…]

Yeah, that’s why we will be changing the wording of that policy and what it’s about, because the frustrating thing is it’s the opposite that’s true in terms of where we’re at at the moment. We’re wanting to build great relationships with academia because we’re determined to be a very evidence-based police service.”

It took three days, but hopefully the Police hierarchy have realised that this is not former East Germany or Pinochet’s Chile, and they are not the Kiwi-equivalent of the Stasi.

What should concern all New Zealanders, regardless of political persuasion, is not that the Police made this outrageous policy blunder – but that they thought it was appropriate in the first place.

It is my contention that Police actions in this area are symptomatic of a wider malaise in our country. Attitudes held by National, and others in positions of  State power, believe that State Authority over-rides freedom of information; civil liberties; and that the public are beholden to politicians and their state agency employees.

On 10 March 2014 John Key stated in an interview on ‘The Nation‘;

“You’ve got to think, we’ve been way more transparent than any other Government that’s been around…”

When a Prime Minister has to try to convince us that his government is “transparent”, there is a problem.

We shouldn’t have to be convinced if it’s true.

Issue 2: Police Budget

Lisa Owen raised the issue of funding for the Police. She asked;

“Okay. Well, you’re monitoring these detainees, and that is an example of the more jobs that you are being asked to do without extra funding, because, if you look at the figures, you’ve had to suck up, I think it is, about 300 million in new costs in the past four years without real budget increases. So where are you trimming to make ends meet?”

Commissioner Bush replied;

“So, the first thing is we have had an increase in our budget by 41 million recently.”

As this blogger reported on  30 October;

On top of which, using the Reserve Bank inflation calculator, it is fairly simple to determine that the Police budget has not kept pace with inflation.

Research going back to 2008 shows that Vote Police has  dropped in dollar-terms (using 2008 Dollars as the base), and in 2015/16, the Police will be allocated $1.422 billion (in 2008 dollars) – compared to the $1.445 billion in 2008.

‘Vote Police’ – Budgets 2008-2015 – Total Annual and Permanent Appropriations

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* Using Reserve Bank NZ Inflation Adjuster from Budget Month/Year Q2 dollars into 2008 Q2 dollars. (http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/monetary_policy/inflation_calculator/)

The figures do not support the claims made by the Commissioner of any increase to the Police budget.

Which raises the question why Commissioner Bush would make a statement that, as the country’s “top cop”, he must know is factually incorrect?  Claiming that the Police budget has increased when actually the opposite has occurred sounds like he is covering for the current National government.

Which is a distinct possibility recently raised by another blogger, Curwen Rolinson;

There is very much a two-way relationship between the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand National Party. They each work together to cover each other’s backs and to make the other partner look good. They’ve got it down to such a fine art that they don’t even necessarily need to sotto-voce instruct one another to make this happen. When something happens that might embarrass the Police, certain parts of the Government will step in or look the other way to ensure it doesn’t untowardly scandalize them (or, heaven forbid, actually provide serious impetus for change). Equally, when the Police turn up something that might take some of the luster out of the Government’s sails, they’ll deliberately hide, lie and obfuscate in order to make sure the “right” outcomes come out for their pals. Not necessarily as an organization, mind – occasionally as isolated individuals or as small-scale units … but the effect is all the same.

Admitting that the Police budget has suffered ongoing cuts (after inflation is factored in) would definitely “take some of the luster out of the Government’s sails” – something embarrassing to a party that has made a fetish out of being “staying strong on crime“.

Commissioner Bush’s statement on the Police budget was revealing, but not quite as he intended.

Issue 3: ISIS/terrorism

On 24 February 2015, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee announced that National would be sending troops to Iraq to “train Iraqi soldiers” in their fight against ISIS.

Chipping in for his mate, Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, said at the time;

“The New Zealand government has been very clear that in addition to deploying non-combat troops to help train Iraqi forces, we also need to take steps to combat ISIL at the diplomatic level and provide humanitarian support to those displaced by the fighting in the region.”

The deployment was roundly condemed by Labour, Greens, Maori Party, Peter Dunne, and NZ First, saying that National had no mandate to commit troops to Iraq, even for so-called “training” purposes.  Maori Party co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell was prescient when he issued this warning in Parliament;

“So let us be under no illusion that by sending training troops and other personnel to the region we are not effectively raising our heads above the parapet. This decision increases the chances of Aotearoa being a target for rogue ISIS attacks.”

Nine months later, and ISIS has discovered New Zealand’s involvement in American adventurism in the Middle East. As TV3 News  reported;

Islamic State (IS) has vowed to destroy New Zealand in a chilling new propaganda video.

The New Zealand flag appears among 60 others in the slick video published by the group’s media arm.

In the video, New Zealand is named among its allies as part of the “coalition against Islamic State”.

New Zealand made the list because of humanitarian and military aid efforts abroad.

The screen-shot from the ISIS propaganda video clearly shows our flag, “Old Blue”, encircled in red;

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global coalition flags - new zealand

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It seems that the similarity of our flag to Australia’s may not be much use to us now. So much for “camouflage”.

On ‘The Nation‘, Commissioner Bush attempted to make reassuring noises to quell any public disquiet on potential terrorist attacks;

“We are very practised and very ready and very well trained if something does occur in New Zealand, so we’re really ready to respond.”

Which is not very reassuring at all.

If a terrorist incident does occur in New Zealand – the first since one of our “allies” bombed an unarmed vessel in one of our harbours in 1985 – responsibility for any injuries or deaths can be sheeted home to one man, and one man alone: John Key.

The responsibility for putting our nation in harms way rests solely on his head.

Issue 4: Lies, Damned Lies, and Bogus Statistics

The story of bogus statistics broke in the Herald in July, last year;

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Police made burglaries vanish - greg o'conner - national - crime statistics

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It took journalist Eugene Bingham two years to uncover information requested under the Official Information Act;

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Two-year search for 'ghost crimes' truth - greg o'conner - national - crime statistics

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When the Herald finally received the information they had requested, a startling item of incriminating nature was discovered;

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Calls for 'ghost crimes' inquiry after police note revealed - commissioner bush

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A damning internal police document has emerged that appears to show senior officers discussed not releasing embarrassing details about the “ghost crimes” controversy in which 700 burglaries vanished from official crime statistics.

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The memo, known within police as a job sheet, states John Tims had been advised by then-deputy commissioner Bush and assistant commissioner Allan Boreham not to respond to the [OIA] request. Brady [see image above] wrote: “(Tims) had been advised to let the request sit and when and if (3rd Degree) followed up with a request the matter would be addressed then.

“The direction to me was to not respond to the Official Information Act request and file the file as it is.”

[…]

However, Brady, when contacted by the Herald on Sunday, stood firmly behind his job sheet. “The job sheet records my conversation with Superintendent Tims and that’s about as far as I’m going to go with it. I think the job sheet is self-explanatory.

“My job sheet is my job sheet. It’s the record of my conversation and I have no other comment to make about that document.”

Lisa Owen pointedly asked Commissioner Bush;

“One last thing I want to ask you about before I go, Commissioner. Last night I spoke to the ombudsman about a complaint that relates to you. It’s an allegation that you instructed staff to let an Official Information Act request sit to stall the release of information relating to doctored burglary stats. So I want to give you the opportunity to answer to that. Did you do that?”

Commissioner Bush replied;

“Absolutely not. For obvious reasons, I kept myself well away from everything that was going on in that space because I was the district commander at the time. So that’s absolutely not correct, and, yeah, I distance myself for obvious reasons.”

Ms Owen persisted;

Owen: Okay, well, I’m wondering why a police officer would record in his job sheet that you did do that, then. Is that person lying when they say that you did, and I’ve got the job sheet here if you needed to refresh your memory. The job sheet says , ‘The direction to me was not to respond to the Official Information Act request and file the file as it is.’ Have you seen it? I’ve got it.

Bush: I have seen it, yeah.

Owen: Yeah. So was that officer lying or…?

Bush: That officer is absolutely incorrect. That did not occur.

Owen: So why would that officer write that on a job sheet?

Bush: I have no idea, but I can say it’s absolutely incorrect.

Commissioner Bush’s facial expression and voice tone  is worth considering when he denies instructing an investigating police officer to withhold responding to an OIA request.

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I leave it to the viewer to make his/her own determination on the matter.

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References

Radio NZ: Morning Report – Jarrod Gilbert

Radio NZ: Police block gang expert’s data access

Dr Gilbert’s Blog: The Police research contract

New Zealand Police: Deputy Chief Executive Strategy

New Zealand Police: Police statement on academic research applications

TV3: The Nation – Interview with Prime Minister John Key

TV3: The Nation – Interview with Commissioner Mike Bush

TV3: The Nation – Interview with Commissioner Mike Bush (Transcript)

Treasury: Budget 2008

Treasury: Budget 2014

Treasury: Budget 2015

Radio NZ: Brownlee outlines Iraq deployment

Radio NZ: Iraq deployment condemned

Parliament: Ministerial Statements — Iraq—Deployment of Military Personnel

Fairfax media: NZ flag shown in Islamic State video on group’s enemies

TV3 News: NZ on list of Islamic State targets in new video

NZ Herald:  Police made burglaries vanish

NZ Herald:  Two-year search for ‘ghost crimes’ truth

NZ Herald: Calls for ‘ghost crimes’ inquiry after police note revealed

Previous related blogposts

Weekend Revelations #3 – Greg O’Connor and criminal statistics

Other bloggers

The Daily Blog: Is There A “Special Relationship” Between The National Party And NZ Police?

The Standard: Jarrod Gilbert is tilting at windmills

The Standard: Jarrod Gilbert 1 – Windmills 0

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 November 2015.

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Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

22 November 2015 6 comments

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TPPA - stand up it's not over - with taser motiff

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NZ, Wellington, 14 November – As previously reported (16 November), police failed to provide any form of presence during the Wellington anti-TPPA protest march.

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“Policing” was effectively left up to March Marshalls who controlled traffic and supervised protesters as they made their way through Wellington’s CBD, to Parliament.

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As I also reported, a msm journalist present noted the lack of police presence, expressing his surprise and nervousness.

However, at  Parliament’s grounds, there was no lack of police presence. At least twentytwo policemen and women lined up in front of the old Parliament Building.

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (69)

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The building was not only empty on a Saturday afternoon, but the entrance had been boarded up due to refurbishment activity.

It was apparent that police had positioned themselves on the Parliamentary forecourt waiting for protesters to arrive, and in the process had forgotten another of their primary duties; traffic management and escorting the protest march through Wellington’s narrow streets.

Fortunately, the March Marshalls achieved a good result in both areas.

But there was another curious aspect to the policemen and women on Parliament’s forecourts.

On a previous anti-TPPA march in Wellington, on 15 August, protesters were ‘greeted’ with police wearing tasers on their belts;

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taser - 21 august 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police - pockets (2)

15 August

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taser - 21 august 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police

15 August

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Last Saturday’s (14 November) police did not appear to be displaying tasers.

But – were they armed with tasers concealed in their pockets?

These images were taken on the day, and appear to show bulges in their pockets  that do not appear in the above images, or similar images taken three months ago;

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possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (1)

14 November

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possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (2)

14 November

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14 November

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For a better comparison;

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police - tasers - concealed weapons - concealed tasers

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Following the 15 August anti-TPPA march and the open display of tasers, there was some public disquiet at police carrying these weapons to a political protest.

On this occassion,  someone within the Police hierarchy may have made an unfortunate ‘call’ to have their officers carry concealed tasers.

There is no clear evidence to prove this assertion one way or another. The bulges may have been hankies stuffed deep into trouser pockets (quite a few hankies, judging by the bulges).

But if true, it may be appropriate for an urgent  “Please Explain” between the Minister’s and Commissioner’s offices.

 

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Previous related blogposts

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

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No more anarchy

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 November 2015.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

13 November 2015 6 comments

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This piece by Dita DeBoni on TVNZ’s website is worth re-posting in it’s entirety – just in case it ‘mysteriously vanishes’ into the ether. Not that I’m implying the New Zealand is now more-or-less a quasi-Police State…

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Dita DeBoni Privacy right is not a right when not 'right' - nicky hagerWhether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.

Sometimes it’s legitimate. Goodness knows what might happen if a complete stranger paid my household bills for me, or felt inclined to impersonate me at the chemist.

And do we really need to know that the Prime Minister and prominent All Blacks are in cahoots over the new flag design?

Some might say yes, but I reckon I could have figured that out by the sheer number of photographs we’re subjected to day after day featuring them gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes.

It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.
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The exception to this is if the police are asking.

It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so.

Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions.

Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.

We know this because it emerged this week that Westpac handed over 10 months of data from three of author Nicky Hager’s accounts when police were investigating the hacking of Cameron Slater’s blog and social media accounts at the end of 2014, willingly complying with detectives who simply explained it was part of their investigation into ‘criminal offending’.

There is nothing whatsoever to suggest the criminal offending they were investigating was anything to do with Nicky Hager.

Hager began the investigation as a ‘suspect’ but became simply a ‘witness’; he is not accused of stealing anything.

He did what good journalists do on a daily basis – was given information on nefarious wrong-doing that he believed the public needed to know. Then he published it.
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He’s been treated extraordinarily for a witness in such a case – had his house raided for ten hours, had personal files uplifted, been wire-tapped, had his records requested from as many as 20 different companies and sources, and been vilified by the government.

But whether you like Nicky Hager or not, whether you agree with what he set out to do or not, there is something rotten about the way the police acted in the case – and something profoundly out of order about the way Westpac Bank rolled over and gave away Hager’s bank records and other personal information on the strength of an unsupported request by police, without even telling their client they were doing so – which is also something they are required to do.

It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.

It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.

Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general.

But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.

Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.

 

In case anyone has missed the point, Dita DeBoni’s column is a direct warning to the citizens of this country.

When the security apparatus of the State – in this case the New Zealand Police – can access private and confidential details without a search warrant, then we have reached a truly frightening stage in our nation’s developing history.

The only place where police have had such unimpeded access to the private information of citizens has been – up until now – the province of military junta-controlled regimes; Soviet-style “people’s republics”; and various banana republic dictatorships. Think of Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pinochet, Papa “Doc” Duvalier – it’s a very long list. (And I haven’t even gone through the entire 20th century!)

Though New Zealand is not *yet* a One Party state – which is only one national “crisis away, before a “state of emergency” is declared – we have taken a further step toward the nightmarish society envisioned by C.K. Stead in “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs“. (That nice man, Prime Minister Volkner, had such a horrid time caused by those nasty terrorists. Why couldn’t they just all get a proper job?)

It might well be that the release of Nicky Hager’s private information to the police was an inadvertent slip-up by an ill-informed Westpac employee.  Or it could be that there is now a nascent culture developing in New Zealand of fawning, unquestioning obeisance to Authority.

In a space of thirtythree years, we have gone from massive street protests and struggle against an increasingly authoritarian National government led by Robert Mudoon – to meekly accepting increasing State surveillance and seizure powers.

And in just seven years, we have gone from this;

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Showers latest target of Labour's nanny state

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– to this;

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Yes, in just under a decade, National has taken New Zealand from complaining about reduced shower flows and ecologically-sound lightbulbs (!!) being “Nanny Statish” – to mass surveillance of the population; increased powers for spy agencies and police; forcing telco’s to keep client information for the State; and warrantless search and seizures.

In my youth, I visited my parents’ homeland whilst it was still under communist rule, and within the ‘sphere of influence’ of the Kremlin.

I can say, with a fair degree of confidence tinged with sadness, that New Zealand has moved closer to being a South Pacific replica of a former Soviet ‘satellite’ state. Only the Gulags are yet to be built. (Our Australian cuzzies have them already at Christmas Island and elsewhere.)

I can think of no other way to see this country. We have spy agencies monitoring New Zealanders; spying on our Pacific neighbours and trading partners; and harassing journalists who are critical of this government’s actions. Phil Goff’s political career was almost destroyed by National’s abuse of the powers of the SIS.

What else do you call a country where police can gain access to a citizen’s private information – without arresting him – and with no warrant? The term, I believe, is Police State.

If National Party supporters are “relaxed” about this, then I have this piece of advice for them; remember that governments change. Sooner or later, Labour will be in office.

And the Labour Prime Minister, with perhaps a few scores to settle, will have all the powers of search, surveillance, warrantless seizures, that John Key has gradually amassed since 2008.

Laws like these;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (aka Customs and Excise Amendment Act 2014)

There may even be a new Minister for the GCSB and SIS. Perhaps Phil Goff. Or David Cunliffe.

Then the shoe will be on the other foot (the Left one). At that point, National and it’s supporters may start to regret the encroachment of State power into our lives.

I believe light bulbs and shower nozzles will be the least of their worries.

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References

TVNZ: Dita DeBoni – Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’

National Party: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

NBR: Ferguson confirms ‘mass surveillance’, Key reiterates GCSB acting lawfully

NZ Herald: Warning as second part of spy bill passes

NBR: ‘Undemocratic’ Search and Surveillance Bill made law

Fairfax media: Spy bill passes into law amid wide criticism

Newstalk ZB: PM won’t confirm Pacific spying

Fairfax: Private data deserves greater respect than Westpac showed Nicky Hager

Techdirt: New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom

Yahoo News: English didn’t know GCSB spied illegally

NZ Herald: GCSB report: 88 cases of possible illegal spying uncovered

Other Bloggers

Kiwipolitico: Confronting executive branch excess

Kiwipolitico: Some questions about the Stephenson case

No Right Turn: An unwarranted demand for information

No Right Turn: The banality of intrusion

The Daily Blog: Police plotted to arrest and spy on Nicky Hager – the most interesting parts of 1 year on from Dirty Politics

The Daily Blog: What mainstream haven’t mentioned about Westpac corporate narking on Nicky Hager

The Daily Blog: News release on behalf of Nicky Hager concerning privacy breach by Westpac

The Daily Blog: Why what the Police are doing to Nicky Hager is so extraordinary

The Standard: Technology and the law – and going after Hager

The Standard: Angry at Westpac

The Standard: Dirty Politics was in the public interest

The Standard: “A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 November 2015.

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Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

2 November 2015 3 comments

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National Party staying strong on crime

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From TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 October 2015,

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Q+A - 25 october 2015 - police - michelle boag - simon dallow

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The Q+A panel were ostensibly discussing out-going Police Association President, Greg O’Connor’s persistent calls to arm the New Zealand police. At one point, former National Party president, Michelle Boag offered her views on policing-techniques in this country;

@5.10:

Michelle Boag: “…But, it’s, it’s a bit of a shame, that for most of us, certainly for me personally, the, the only direct engagement I end up with Police is when they stop me as they did yesterday morning when I was driving to golf at seven o’clock in the morning for a random breath test. Right, so that’s an instant confrontational thing. And, er, it just makes you think, ‘oh god, here they are, enforcing’ all the time-”

Simon Dallow: “So were you more annoyed or were you more pleased that society is being protected here?

Boag: “Er, well, I was annoyed because I haven’t had a drink for twenty years. And every time I get stopped on the way to golf early on a Saturday morning, I think, it’s a complete waste of your time. However, I know, if rather than saying my name and address, I say, ‘Listen, I don’t drink, you’re never going to catch me’, that I’ll probably get hauled up for, y’know, talking back to a policeman.

It should not be lost on most politically conscious folk that one of National’s strongest, most agressively promoted tenet is that of “Law and Order”. One of it’s seven main election billboards, for the 2011 election, was the image at the top of the page.

National’s political history is replete with passing laws empowering the police and spy organisations SIS and GCSB. (The GCSB was set up under National, under then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s leadership.)

Since 2008, National has passed the following laws;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

The GCSB’s mandate was changed two years ago to permit it to spy on New Zealanders.

This, despite protests from New Zealanders up and down the country, opposed to extending the powers of the State into our lives. One wonders if Michelle Boag attended any of the anti-GCSB protests that’s been held around the country?

This is not the first time that a National Party apparatchik has been caught up in the new, murky atmosphere of surveillance, that is now part of our lives. In 2013, then-National Party president Peter Goodfellow, complained of being under covert surveillance by a private investigator;

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national-party-boss-alleges-covert-filming

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I blogged on the issue here: National Party president complains of covert filming.

And who can forget the outrageously delicious irony of National’s coalition partner, Peter Dunne, having his emails pinched by Parliamentary Services and passed on to the Prime Minister’s Department.;

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emails-given-to-inquiry

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Then-Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, also had her Parliamentary  phone and swipe-card records passed on to the PM’s Department (which was “assisting” the Thorn Inquiry), as an investigation was held into the identity of the secret source who leaked Vance a confidential report into the GCSB.

The irony is that even as Peter Dunne was rearing up and braying in self-righteous indignation at the invasion of his privacy, two and a half weeks later, he voted with National in the Third and final reading of the Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill (now an Act) which passed it into law.

Now everyone in New Zealand could have their privacy invaded.

I blogged on the issue here: Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

When governments pass laws extending the powers of the State’s security organisations, and increase surveillance capabilities of spy agencies, then it has created a fertile environment where privacy is no longer as sacrosanct  as it once was. Whether it be police stopping motorists at random to detect potential drunk drivers*;  a private investigator recording a conversation; or one government agency passing private emails on to another; or covert surveillance on potentially all New Zealanders,  a new norm has been created.

Michelle Boag may be indignant at being stopped on her way to her golf on a Saturday morning – but her right to unimpeded travel on our roads was extinguished a long time ago. The State now has the right to stop her as, when, and however, it’s security agencies ‘deem necessary’.

She may even have her phone and internet tapped, should she ever run foul of a future government.

All perfectly legal.

I love it when National’s quasi-fascistic law and order policies eventually catch up with it’s own supporters.

Thank you, Lady Karma.

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"We are from the government we are here to help. - Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

    “We are from the government, we are here to help.” – Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

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* Footnote:
It should be noted that this blogger has no problem with random breath-testing conducted by Police. Whilst this country is awash with cheap, easily-available booze; and whilst New Zealanders refuse to address our penchant for binge-drinking, random breath testing is one of the few means we have to protect ourselves and our families from liquored-up drivers. Michelle Boag needs to get over her preciousness and sense of entitlement in this regard. The next drink driver the police catch could be one  on her road, as she drives to her golfing rendezvous.

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References

TVNZ Q+A:  Panel on arming the Police

Wikipedia: Government Communications Security Bureau

Fairfax media: National Party boss alleges covert filming

Fairfax Media:  Emails given to inquiry

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 Octobr 2015.

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Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

21 August 2015 3 comments

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wellington-tppa-walk-away-15-august

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NZ, Wellington, 15  August – Anti-TPPA protesters, many of them young people in their teens and early 20s, faced off against police armed with tasers on the steps of Parliament.

Believed to be the first time that armed police have deployed tasers in a non-violent, non-threatening situation, at least five police officers were visibly carrying the potentially lethal devices on their belts;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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At least five  weapons were clearly visible, with other policemen and woman wearing bulky jackets that may or may not have concealed more of the devices.

Though there was some minor jostling between one protester and a Parliamentary security guard, there was no violence or any other physical contact between police and members of the public.

The confrontation began when a lone protester made her way to the top of the Parliamentary steps, and seated herself, adopting a meditating position. For a short time, three police attempted to persuade her to move, though no force was used.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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She was followed by others, who also jumped or skirted around the security fence separating the grassy area from the paved Parliamentary forecourt.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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As their numbers swelled to approximately a hundred, extra police arrived quickly and with Parliamentary Security, formed a cordon across the steps leading up to Parliament.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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March organisors and Marshalls attempted to quell the situation by asking people to move back from the steps, without much success.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Eventually,  jostling and shouting gave way to a calmer atmosphere as March organisors encouraged a constant stream of speakers to address the crowd. The tiny volatile minority, numbering perhaps half a dozen, joined others seated on the steps. One activist played his guitar and sang songs, though at one point he declined a request for “anything by Dave Dobbin“.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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After about a hour, the crowd on the Parliamentary forecourt dispersed of their own volition. Police numbers also reduced, with officers leaving the scene.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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There was no apparent reason for tasers to be deployed on this occasion. The sight of these weapons incited many in the crowd to angry outbursts toward the police.

More than one person was overheard asking what possible use  four or five tasers would have been against a crowd numbering in the hundreds.

One person, who requested anonymity,  said to this blogger;

“Whoever authorised these guns to be brought out needs their head read. It’s a grim day when cops feel the need to show these things when they’re faced with ordinary New Zealanders engaged in lawful protest. It’s like something out of ‘Sleeping Dogs’.  Really, is this where we’ve ended up, armed cops facing off against women and kids? God help us.”

On this occasion, a tense situation was prevented from escalation not by show of force, but by the wit of organisors who distracted the ‘hot heads’ and encouraged dialogue and engagement.

The best strategy in this stand-off was patience.

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Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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TPPA-cartoon-trans pacific partnership

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 August 2015.

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Letter to the editor – hitting charities where it hurts, courtesy of the Nats

16 February 2015 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking.

A cash-strapped government – having frittered billions away in two tax cuts for the rich – now seeks to penny-pinch voluntary organisations and charities to make up for the gaping deficits they have created?!

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Fee for police background checks slated by charities

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <editor@star-times.co.nz>
date: Mon, Feb 16, 2015
subject: Letter to the ed

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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This government is planning to implement a user-pays charge whereby charities; other voluntary organisations, and non-profit groups are required to pay for police vetting of volunteers and employed staff.

How long will it be before the $5 or $7 vetting fee becomes $10? $20? Then full recovery costs? If there is one thing we know about government charges, once they are introduced, they invariably increase as governments look to cut taxes, and raise user-pays charges for state services. Tertiary fees, fuel taxes, gst, prescription fees, court costs, are all examples of government shifting costs on to the individuals and public organisations.

One day, New Zealanders will wake up to the realisation that far from being “prudent fiscal managers”, National’s track record in managing the government books are ad hoc and worse still, penalise those who need help the most.

This is penny-pinching in the extreme, and shows how we are still paying for two ill-considered and unaffordable tax-cuts in 2009 and 2010.

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-Frank Macskasy

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[Address and phone number supplied]

 

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References

NZ Herald: Fee for police background checks slated by charities

Radio NZ:  Education and charity sector worry about cost of police checks (Audio - 12′ 24″ )

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Kamikaze Kiwis and a deathwish on wheels *Update*

18 December 2013 4 comments

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Reduced speed tolerance will apply for December and January

Source

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This is a laudable plan from our Boys and Girls in Blue, and I’ve no problem with it. Holiday periods are generally a bad time on the roads where every manner of bad driving habits are manifested by drivers.

With increased numbers on our roads during the December/January period, such bad driving habits are multiplied, until a “critical mass” of stupidity is reached, or peoples’ luck just runs out.

It’s often not speed per se that is the dangerous driving habit of many drivers. Case in point…

On 23 November, after a three and a half month absence down south, I was returning home. On SH1, somewhere on the open road north of Christchurch and south of Marlborough, I encountered some driving practices that simply took my breath away.

All involved tail-gating on such a dangerous level that, at any moment, I expected a crash.

The first was a light-coloured Pajero, driven by a male and a female passenger, who first tail-gated me. At several points he was so close to me that I could barely see his headlights – they were below the line-of-sight of my vision, hidden by the spoilers of my own vehicle.

It wasn’t as if I was travelling at some silly slow speed on the open road; I was driving at, or just about 100kph.

After several minutes of the driver’s menacing behaviour, I pulled out my cellphone to call *555 and warn police that a madman was loose on our highways.

As I gave Police details of what I was witnessing, the Pajero overtook me; the driver gestured (no, not a friendly wave); and then proceeded to tailgate the next car – a reddish-orange, early model American sedan. After several minutes, the Pajero overtook the American car and sped off into the distance.

A little later in the day, I witnessed not just another instance of tail-gating – but an attempted over-taking manouver that very nearly ended in disaster.

Check out the photo below. Note how close he is to the red car in front of him. Note his position on the road – he is about to attempt an over-taking manouver.

Note the blind bend we are approaching.

And note the on-coming traffic!!

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grey bluebird

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Luckily, the driver of the Bluebird saw the on-coming vehicle as well and quickly swerved back into our own lane. Had he completed pulling out and attempted to over-take, it would have ended up with lethal consequences.

By the way, the same Bluebird had over-taken me a little earlier. As he passed me, I noticed a young child in the back seat.

As someone who often drives on the open road, I sometimes witness mind-boggling instances of tail-gating and dangerous over-taking.

I’ve never witnessed so many hair-raising incidences in one day and on one road.

Today (6 December), I finally emailed Assistant Commissioner on Road Policing, Dave Cliff, on this problem. I asked him if tail-gating was to be treated with the same attention and severity as speeding,

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from:     Frank Macskasy
to:          Dave Cliff <dave.cliff@police.govt.nz>
date:     Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM
subject:     Road safety enforcement

Kia ora Mr Cliff,

I am aware that Police are reducing speed tolerances over the December and  January period, ostensibly to reduce the road toll during the Christmas/New Year holiday months.

Whilst I have no problem with this policy, I am enquiring what steps the Police will take regarding other dangerous driving practices.

Specifically, I am referring to the increasing prevalence of tail-gating.

On 23 November this year, whilst driving north on SH1 between Christchurch and Picton, I encountered several instances of dangerous tail-gating. One driver – rego [redacted], a Pajero – drove so close behind me that his headlights were almost below line-of-sight of the rear of my car.

The driver persisted in his menacing behaviour, forcing me  to phone *555 to lodge a complaint.

After the Pajero driver over-took me, the male driver proceeded to tail-gate an orange, early-model, American car (a Charger, I believe).

Travelling at 100kph on the open road, had I or the driver of the Charger been forced to brake suddenly, the results would have been predictably disastrous.

On the same day, and stretch of road, a grey Bluebird, rego  [redacted], was seen to be tailgating another car in front of me,  and made a hair-raising attempt to over-take as we approached a blind-bend. (See pic attached).

Even on urban motorways such as SH2 and SH1 in the Greater Wellington region, I witness dangerous and increasingly stupid instances of tail-gating.

One of the first things I learnt as a learner-drive in my teens was to keep one car distance per each 10kph driven speed.
Many of these instances I have described would be lucky to have had two (or maybe maximum three) car distances between them.

Will police be focusing on  this dangerous practice? And will you be highlighting this in any upcoming media conference?

I believe this matter deserves as much attention and action as your crack-down on speeding drivers.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

[image above attached]

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It will be interesting to see what reply, if any, Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff makes on this.

In my humble opinion, tail-gating and dangerous over-taking as dangerous – if not more so – than speeding. The potential for disaster increases as such stupid behaviour becomes more and more reckless.

If you encounter such unbridled stupidity on the roads, ring *555, and inform the Police immediatly. You could be saving a life.

*Update*

I received this response four days later,

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from:            HEALEY, Bryan <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
to:                  Frank Macskasy
date:             Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:15 AM
subject:       Road safety Enforcement
mailed-by: police.govt.nz

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Frank…..I am in receipt of your email to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff.

My question to you is, do you want to make a formal complaint against the other drivers or work through the Community Road Watch Programme?

The formal venture is by way of court action, the CRW programme is none formal and brings the matter to the attention of the drivers manner of driving.

Please advise.

 

New Zealand Police Logo

Senior Sergeant Bryan Healey
Manager Customer Services: Police Infringement Bureau | Road Policing Support | New Zealand Police

P   +64 4 3810107 | Ext: 44907   

E   bryan.healey@police.govt.nz
Police Infringement Bureau, PO Box 9147, Wellington, 6141, New Zealand www.police.govt.nz

 

Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

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I responded, thusly,

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from:     Frank Macskasy
to:     “HEALEY, Bryan” <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
date:     Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM
subject:     Re: Road safety Enforcement
mailed-by:     gmail.com
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Kia ora Bryan,

I would be more inclined to pursue the option of the Community Road Watch Programme. It is less punitive and hopefully should serve to remind the drivers that tail-gating (especially as I encountered it) is unacceptable behaviour (and potentially dangerous).

As I wrote originally to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff, the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?

In the meantime, pursuing this matter with the two drivers through the CRW Programme appears to be the best option.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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I realise I could have insisted on a prosecution – but in instances like these, education might be more effective than putting someone through an expensive Court system?

It was interesting to note that Snr Sgt Healey did not reply to my question;

“…the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?

Let’s hope the wheels are slowly turning on this problem at Police HQ.

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Disclaimer: I’m no saint, and have had my share of parking infringement notices and speeding tickets. Especially in my wilder, youthful days.

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Random Thoughts on Random Things #3…

21 October 2013 5 comments

Why is it…

That drug testing the unemployed is seen by National Ministers as a good thing…

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Fail a drugs test and lose your benefit, job seekers warned

By Isaac Davison @Isaac_Davison

5:30 AM Monday Jul 2, 2012
Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett. Photo / Natalie Slade

Beneficiaries who refuse or fail drug tests while applying for jobs will have their welfare cut from mid-2013 under the Government’s next round of welfare reforms.

The National-led Government says there are now no consequences for drug-takers who opted out of job applications when faced with a drug test.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett told the Herald the new Welfare Reform Bill would have new requirements for drug testing, but the finer details were still being finalised.

National’s pre-election policy document said beneficiaries who did not apply for a job because a prospective employer asked them to take a drug test would have their benefit cancelled.

If they took the drug test and failed it, they would also be sanctioned.

Source: NZ Herald

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… But drug testing the Police (who regularly have access to lethal weapons), is a big No-No?

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Police minister says no to drug tests at work

Updated at 7:38 pm on 17 October 2013

Police Minister Anne Tolley says police staff should not be drug-tested in the workplace.

Her comment came after a police prosecutor on Thursday admitted charges of using and possessing methamphetamine, and using cannabis.

Anne Tolley.

Anne Tolley.  NATIONAL PARTY

Brent Thomson posted videos of himself using methamphetamine, and blogs describing his use of drugs at sex parties in April and May, online.

Police found a small amount of the drug “P” and syringes when they searched the 49-year-old’s home. He is seeking a discharge without conviction in the Waitakere District Court.

Thomson, who worked mainly in the Family Violence Court and the Auckland District Court, is also subject to an employment investigation.

Anne Tolley says the overwhelming majority of police staff are doing a fantastic job and they should not face workplace drug testing. She says police are quick to prosecute their own if there is any wrongdoing.

The Police Association agrees that staff shouldn’t be given workplace drug tests. President Greg O’Connor says the public should be re-assured by the systems that police already have.

Source: Radio NZ

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All together now; H… Y… P… O… C… R… I… S… Y.

Yep, hypocrisy.  National has it mastered to a fine art.

With a good helping of beneficiary bashing.

Because if you, as a government can’t fire up the economy to create jobs and reduce unemployment (as we had under the previous Labour-led government), then the next “best” thing is to paint the unemployed as “lazy druggies”. If enough of the middle class (those who  still have jobs or don’t regularly associate with unemployed friends and family) swallow this mindless pap, then that translates nicely into votes at election time.

Never underestimate the power of demonising a minority – especially if there are votes in it.

Just ask any old historian familiar with Germany in the 1920s and 30s…

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Jewish_shops_in_Nazi_Germany

 

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Previous related blogposts

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

2013 – Ongoing jobless talley

 

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It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984…

23 February 2013 6 comments

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surveillance2

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First, the Labour government introduced the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002. This law could outlaw an organisation and declare them a “terrorist groups”.

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Facts about Terrorism Suppression Act

Source

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Some see  Greenpeace as a terrorist organisation.

Ten years later, and National enacted the Search and Surveillance Act 2012. This law allowed the Police to search or keep citizens under surveillance, without a warrant. The Police simply had to show it was an “emergency”.

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More surveillance powers for Govt and police

Source

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This law  allows  Police to keep someone under surveillance and search their home if they are a political dissident/protestor.

Or maybe I’m being overly dramatic?

After all, Police wouldn’t be interested in people exercising their democratic right to protest.

Right?

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Police software mines social media

Source

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Eventually, though, the gradual demise of our privacy impacts on all of us. Even for those within the Establishment, who originally thought it was a good idea.

After all, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.

Right?

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National Party boss alleges covert filming

Source

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As mainstream media focus and reports endless stories about crime and violence, society becomes more frightened of bogeymen just around the corner; or lurking behind bushes; or following us.

So we welcome any and all laws that successive governments give to the Police because, like children, we’re afraid of the bogeymen that the media tells us is waiting… just around the corner, or behind bushes.

Yes, crime does exist. Meteorites falling out of the sky also exist. Lotto winners exist.

So what are your chances of experiencing all three?

The way the media constantly fixates on crime – you’d think it could happen to you tomorrow.

The government could pass new laws every day of the week. Crime, however, will not go away. You probably will not be a victim tomorrow. Society will not be any more or less be any safer.

After all these laws – is it any more or less safer now?

Is the bogeyman real? Yes, he probably is.

But not today. And not tomorrow. Perhaps, for you, not ever.

But your loss of privacy is with you always.

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No more anarchy

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National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

6 February 2013 13 comments

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National Party boss alleges covert filming

Source

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Oh dear, oh dear me. Karma is working overtime this year – and has National politicians and Party apparatchiks firmly in it’s sights.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow complains  of  having been the victim of   “covert video surveillance”?!?!

But wait – isn’t this precisely what National intended last year when they passed the odious Search and Surveillance Act 2012?!

The NZ Herald – no “lefty” newspaper – condemned the Bill on 21 September 2011, when it was still in passing through Parliament,

The new search and surveillance bill, which has been on Parliament’s books for two years, acknowledges this by providing for secret filming on private property in serious cases, including arms offences.

But the Government has been in no hurry to pass it, a fact criticised in the Supreme Court judgment. Now, with only two sitting weeks before the general election, time has run out.

If the Government wishes to rush its urgent short-term law through Parliament next week, it needs the Labour Party to agree. However, its leader, Phil Goff, points to the perils inherent in legislation that would apply retrospectively, so filmed evidence already collected could be used. He wants this new bill to go to a select committee. That is the right course.

In that forum, the Government’s case for urgency would be put under appropriate scrutiny. This would surely conclude that, in the context of sound parliamentary practice and the Supreme Court ruling, this legislation is inappropriate and probably unnecessary.”

Source

As Green MP, David Clendon said on 22 March last year,

This bill is overwhelmingly negative, in that it clearly seeks to give the widest possible powers to the police, to the Customs Service, to the Department of Internal Affairs, to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and to a whole swathe of other Government officials who hereafter will be enabled to make the most extraordinary intrusions into the private business of New Zealand citizens, who may well simply be going about their legal and honest business.

There is simply no justification for such a wide-ranging, all-encompassing, enabling approach. We simply do not have the political climate or the legal or social context that requires the level of intrusion that this bill will allow. This is far beyond the reasonable needs of the police or any other Government enforcement agency.

The argument that this level of intrusion need concern only criminals, and that honest people may rest assured that their privacy and the integrity of their homes, business, and indeed their person will not be compromised, simply does not wash.”

Source

The National Business Review wasn’t terrible happy either, in this headlined story a day later,

‘Undemocratic’ Search and Surveillance Bill made law

Source

And Taranaki’s Daily News” editorial on 2 October last year was equally critical,

At the time of the act’s introduction to Parliament in March, Justice Minister Judith Collins defended it on the basis of it bringing “order, certainty, clarity and consistency to messy, unclear and outdated search and surveillance laws”.

She also pointed out that the act draws together, under one statute, the powers that existed under 69 separate laws.

That rationale, which borders on the closest the Government could come up with as an assurance that this was no significant change, more good housekeeping, will reassure no-one.

[…]

Even at this early stage there is a disquiet among many in this country who traditionally are government supporters.”

Source

The Search and Surveillance Act 2012 gave extensive additional powers to the Police and to other State bodies. In many instances, Police may not even have to apply for a warrant to keep you, your family, your friends, under surveillance.

So for Mr Goodfellow to now complain about a breach of his privacy because he was covertly filmed… oh the delicious irony of it!

A private investigator may not be an official arm of the State – but considering that National is only too happy to contract out services – including private prisons and schools – should not escape our notice. A private investigator is only a contract-away from doing the State’s bidding.

Especially under a National regime.

And anyway, what does Mr Goodfellow have to fear if he is being covertly filmed?

As National MP Tim Macindoe said in Parliament on 7 March last year, when the Search and Surveillance Bill was being debated,

I have to say I do not have a lot of interest in the human rights of those who are not interested in obeying the laws, because quite often they threaten our safety, our security, our homes, our elderly, and the vulnerable in our society.”

Source

Ain’t it a bitch when a government passes authoritarian legislation, extending police powers, and that government’s own Party members get caught up as  ‘victims’ of a resulting culture of State intrusion into our private lives?

Welcome to the real world, Mr Goodfellow.

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No more anarchy

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Why arming our Police is not such a flash idea

27 December 2012 28 comments

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No more anarchy

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When the National Rifle Association’s  Wayne LaPierre suggested that the “solution” to mass shootings in US schools was to arm teachers, the response of  trhose with more common sense was one of  (a) disbelief (b) dismay and (c) disgust. (See previous blogpost: NRA response; more guns. Common sense sez otherwise. )

And rightly so. Escalation of  America’s internal arms race could not be viewed by any sane human being as anything other than compounding the madness that is part and parcel of  their fixation on guns.

New Zealanders generally shook their collective heads at the sheer stupidity of  Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion.

But it seems that we, ourselves, are not above knee-jerk reactions when it comes to crime, drunken mayhem, Police, etc.

As is usual now with the de-regulation of the booze industry and our laws on alcohol (courtesy of the “free market” and the Cult of the Individual), theend-of-year “festive season” now includes a routine plethora of out-of-control parties and public displays of alcohol-fuelled violence.

As if we should be surprised that the easy availability of cheap booze would have any other consequences?

This year was no different, with several instances of Police having to deal with alcohol-fueled fights and other public dis-order.

The intensity of the violence has taken a new turn, with Police themselves coming under direct attack.

One was particularly nasty,

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Attacks on police lead to call for arms

Full story

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In one, big, reflexive jerk of the knee, Police Association vice-president, Luke Shadbolt, repeated the call to routinely arm police,

Increasingly, members are calling for general arming. And we know, amongst the staff … more and more are leaning toward general arming as well.”

See: IBID

Thankfully, though, others in the Police force were able to exercise a modicum of common sense. Whangarei area commander Inspector Tracy Phillips stated the blindingly obvious,

I don’t know what would have happened [if he’d been armed] but firearms are easier to use than Tasers.

See: IBID

That’s right, folks; one of the drunk partygoers had taken the constable’s taser and had tried to use it on the unconscious police officer.

The complexity of the weapon defeated the drunk idiot.

Now replace the taser with a handgun.

Instead of two bruised and battered police officers, we would have at least one – probably two – dead police; grieving families; and two more names to add to a sad list at the Police College of fallen policemen and women,

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Police Remembrance Day 2012 v3

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In this case, the lack of guns probably saved two lives.

Meanwhile, as if we needed to emphasise the point, in 2010 seven American  police officers were killed by their own weapons that had been taken from them. (See:  FBI Releases Preliminary Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in 2010)

We have a problem in this country, but it is not with unarmed Police.

Our problem lies with the ubiquitous availability of dirt-cheap booze; a gutless National “government” that has kowtowed to the liquor industry; and an attitude in this country that alcohol abuse is someone elses’ problem.

Anyone who seriously thinks that giving guns to police will solve this deep malaise in our society has probably had one too many.

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Additional

The Press: New liquor laws ‘dog’s breakfast’ – Dickerson (12 Dec 2012)

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= fs =

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Toru)

17 September 2012 11 comments

Continued from: John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)

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A link to the blogpost, John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua) was emailed to John Banks earlier today (14 September).

Unexpectedly, this blogger has received a response from John Banks’ office,

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Date: Friday, 14 September 2012 3:12 PM
From: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
To: “‘fmacskasy@yahoo.com'” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: John Banks.

Dear Frank

On behalf of the Hon John Banks Leader of ACT and MP for Epsom thank you for your email of 14 September 2012 regarding the recent release of Official Information relating to the investigation into Mr Banks’ 2010  return of donations and expenses for the election of the mayor of Auckland.

Mr Banks has asked me to respond as follows.

In our system of government the Police independently decide if there is a case to answer and if charges are laid under the law.

Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true.

There was an extensive three month investigation by the Police which weighed all the evidence and concluded that the intent to file a return that was materially false was not established.   Therefore no charges were laid.  The conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law.

As far as Mr Banks is concerned the matter is closed. 

Regards

Chris

Christopher J. W. Diack

Chief of Staff & Legal Advisor

Office of Hon. John Banks, CNZM, QSO

Minister for Regulatory Reform | Minister for Small Business | Associate Minister of Commerce

Associate Minister of Education | MP for Epsom | Leader ACT New Zealand.

11.21 Bowen House

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

DDI +64 4 817 6970 | FAX +64 4 817 6523 | Mobile +64 21 800 901

christopher.diack@parliament.govt.nz

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Astounding.

Actually receiving a response…

We must be living in an Age of Miracles…

Reply emailed to Mr Diack this evening (15 September),

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Date:  Saturday, 15 September 2012 8:43 PM
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: John Banks.
To: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>

Kia ora, Chris,Thank you for responding to me letter, and with promptness. Your courtesy in this area is to your credit considering that most National ministers no longer bother to reply to correspondence from the public.In response to your email dated 14 September, I would like to pose several questions that you and Minister Banks may be able to assist with, and clarify.1. Can you confirm that Minister Banks has declined to give permission for his Statement to the Police, to be released to the public?2. Can you or Minister Banks explain why he refuses to make public his Statement when he has consistantly adopted a personal position that he had “nothing to fear, nothing to hide”?3. You stated that “Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true”. How do you reconcile that assertion when Minister Banks requested  that Kim Dotcom split his  $50,000 donation in two equal parts of $25,000 each, so as to be recorded as anonymous donations? 4. You stated that “Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true”. How can that be true when,  Minister  Banks’ own lawyer,  Gregory Towers, stated to Police investigators that Minister Banks instructed  him on 8 February,  “… that as much as [he, John Banks] wished to publicly support Kim that may backfire on Kim if it became known about the election support” – and yet on 27 April, nearly three months later, Minister Banks told TV3 News, “Well, I don’t know. I mean I haven’t seen the forms now for a couple of years, so I don’t know who gave me money, I can’t remember now”.5. Are you or Minister Banks aware that, on 2 May,  ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson, where he stated that splitting  the $50,000 donation was, “…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.… He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers”. Was Mr Simmons correct in that initial statement?

6. Mr Banks’ mayoral campaign  received three additional “anonymous” $25,000 donations for his mayoral campaigns.  Who were those donations from? Were they one $75,000 donation from one individual/organisation? Were receipts issued for those donations? Did the Police investigate the source of those donations? What, if anything, was the outcome of scrutiny into those three $25,000 donations?

7. You stated in your email to me that  ” The conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law.  ”  How do you reconcile that proposition with Police statements that they are unable to prosecute because the matter falls outside a statute of limitations on laying prosecutions? Do you accept that rather than ” the conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law”, that Minister Banks escaped prosecution only because of a legal technicality?

8. You further stated in your email to me that “There was an extensive three month investigation by the Police which weighed all the evidence and concluded that the intent to file a return that was materially false was not established. ” How do you reconcile that statement with a claim by Ms Mackey, who challenged claims that  Mr Banks signed the Electoral Form without reading it and insisted,  “But John Banks did read the document.” And do you accept that rather than ” the conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law”, that Minister Banks escaped prosecution only because of a legal technicality?

9. Is Minister Banks in a habit of signing documents he has not read?

10. Is it correct that Minister  Banks incited Kim Dotcom to break the Electoral law on reporting donations by advising him to hide the $50,000 donation: “I want to help you Kim and I can help you more effectively if no-one knows about this donation.”?

11. Are you or Minister Banks aware that Skycity received a receipt from Bank’s Campaign Treasurer for their $15,000 donation and that donation was later listed as ‘anonymous’? How can a donation that was acknowledged by way of a written  receipt be considered as “anonymous”? What is the definition of “anonymous” when the identity of the donor is known?

12. Why did Minister Banks continue to insist to media and public alike, that  he had no memory of any of these matters – and yet evidence and statements by others proved that he had full knowledge of donations made; the identity of donors; that he advised donors how to ensure that donations were recorded as “anonymous”; and that Minister Banks had sought prior  legal advice how to evade provisions of the Local Electoral Act 2001?

13. Will Minister Banks offer his resignation to the Prime Minister and step down from all ministerial roles? 

 
I look forward to answers to these questions and matters raised therein.
 
Thank you for your time.
 
Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Mr Diack’s response, received this morning (17 September),

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Date: Sunday, 16 September 2012 6:26 PM
From: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
To: ‘Frank Macskasy’ <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: John Banks.

Dear Frank

 

Please refer to my earlier email.

 

Regards

Chris

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Unfortunately, Chris Diack’s previous email does not answer any of the thirteen questions put to John Banks. (In fact, this blogger is aware that Mr Diack’s response  has been sent to other citizens, who have emailed his office expressing concerns on this issue.)

This is unacceptable and I wonder how Messrs Diack and Banks can reconcile their evasiveness with the latters constant mantra, “nothing to fear, nothing to hide”.

John Banks seems to be hiding a great deal and his continuing warrant to serve as a Minister of the Crown is based solely on the desperation of his patron, John Key, to preserve his one seat majority in Parliament.  This is the sordid, shabby, self-serving situation that John Key lambasted Prime Minister Helen Clark, over the Winston Peters-Owen Glenn donations affair,

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“  Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 4:24 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party

John Key MP
National Party Leader

27 August 2008

Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.

“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.

“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.

“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.

“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.

“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.

“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.

“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”.

Source: Scoop.co.nz – Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

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Same situation.

Same desperation to to hang on.

Same standards.

It is even more laughable that John Key states that he has not read the Police file on this case; is not going to read the Police report; and is satisfied that he has taken John Banks at his word,

Shane: This isn’t about the issue being you. All I want to know is having read the police report, whether you believe Mr Banks when he said –

John: I haven’t read that police report, and I’m not going to because I don’t need to. I rely, as any prime minister would, that I enjoy the confidence –

Shane: Why wouldn’t you read the police report?

John: Because it’s not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is the law doesn’t work. What I can tell you is this is a politically motivated attempt by the Labour Party to get at the government. Fair enough. That’s called politics.

Shane: So you believe him even though others say he was lying?

John: No, what I’m saying to you is accept his word. I accept that the law is very ambiguous, and I accept that the Labour Party are using this as a politically motivated attempt to get to the government. Because they’re not going after – This is a guy that lost the mayoral election. They didn’t try and test this out after he lost. They didn’t test it out for every other candidate. They’re not testing it out around the country. And, by the way, when they changed the central government law around donations, they didn’t bother to do it for local government. But today they care about it, and that’s because it’s politically motivated.

See: TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

His “word”?

What “word”?!

Throughout this shameful affair, the public has seen John Banks obfuscating; forgetting; lying; and blaming everyone else for his own actions.

For John Key to buy into the “blame-everyone-else-game” (Labour, the law, etc) shows how bankrupt National’s Standards really are.

National and ACT demand a high standard of personal responsibility from everyone else. They are the Parties built on the mantra of  Taking Personal Responsibility. It is the height of hypocrisy that neither Banks nor his handler  are prepared to Take Personal Responsibility they expect from everyone else,

But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”

See: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Whilst the poor are beaten about their heads  with messages of  Taking Personal Responsibility, dishonest politicians who escape prosecution on technicalities and the patronage of the Prime Minister, laugh and thumb their noses at the law.

No wonder that John Key has stated that if National loses at an election that he would step down as Party leader,

He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.

“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative“.”

See: Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

I would add that Key’s credibility is shot to hell and he could never again launch a critical attack on a Labour government minister who has been shown to be engaged in lies and wrongdoing.  The word “hypocrite” would echo through the Debating Chamber every time Key stood to criticise someone.

If, reading this, you feel a sense of frustration and outrage that our elected representatives can behave in such a reprehensible manner – rest assured, you are quite normal and your “moral compass” is set as it should be.

If, however, you are an ACT or National supporter, and  you see nothing wrong with  Banks’ and Key’s behaviour – rest assured, this new standard of political cronyism will be used by future  governments when it suits their purposes.

No doubt then we’ll hear some serious braying and moral chest-thumping from National/ACT supporters?

Oh, how I’ll look forward to that day.

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Relared blogpost

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

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= fs =

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)

14 September 2012 19 comments

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking John Banks

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Continued from: John Banks – escaping justice

Following on from the police decision on 26 July not to prosecute John Banks for submitting an allegedly fraudulent Electoral Return, containing incorrect details of donors, this blogger emailed the Prime Minister on this issue,

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From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To: John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
    Chris Hipkins <chris.hipkins@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Chris Laidlaw RNZ <sunday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
    Daily News <editor@dailynews.co.nz>,
    Daily Post <editor@dailypost.co.nz>,
    David Shearer <david.shearer@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Hutt News <editor@huttnews.co.nz>,
    Kim Hill <saturday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Listener <editor@listener.co.nz>,
    Metiria Turei <metiria.turei@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
    NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
    Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>,
    Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>,
    Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>,
    Russel Norman <Russel.Norman@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Southland Times <editor@stl.co.nz>,
    TVNZ News <news@tvnz.co.nz>,
    The Press <letters@press.co.nz>,
    The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>,
    Waikato Times <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>,
    Wairarapa Times-Age <editor@age.co.nz>,
    Winston Peters <winston.peters@parliament.govt.nz>
Subject: Corrupt practices under the Local Electoral Act (2001)
Date: Saturday, 28 July 2012 6:57 PM

Rt Hon. John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Wellington

28 July 2012
 

Sir,

With regards to matters raised by TV3′s John Campbell, Trevor Mallard, and others, surrounding John Banks; his 2010 Electoral Return; and subsequent Police investigation, I invite you to read and consider questions and comments made on my blogpost, “John Banks – escaping justice“.

You will note that I have raised several questions regarding this matter, and have written to  Police Asst Commissioner,  Malcolm Burgess, for clarification and answers to issues that I regard as important.

I have also contacted Transparency International, a global NGO that rates countries according to levels of corruption within their society. Last year, New Zealand ranked #1 on a  Corruption Transparency Index 2011. Following the John Banks Donations Affair, I have invited Transparency Internation to review our top ranking, in terms of least corrupt nation on Earth.

Far from being a “closed matter”, I believe this issue is of vital importance – especially since it appears that many of Kim Dotcom’s allegations against John Banks have been substantiated.

The question that I am asking; will you remove John Banks from his Ministerial roles?

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
Frankly Speaking

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No reply (or even acknowledgement) received as yet, by14 September.

An acknowledgement was, however, received from Winston Peters’ office.

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Update

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Since the Police decision, the files on this case have been released to the public and the revelations are shocking to put it mildly.

What the police have uncovered is corrupt behaviour, lying, manipulation of the law, and a Crown Minister who has escaped prosecution on the flimsiest of technicalities.

What the Police files reveal:

  • Banks received three additional “anonymous” $25,ooo donations for his mayoral campaigns. (See: Police file: How Banks’ team targeted rich-list  ) Who were those donations from? Were they one $75,000 donation from one individual/organisation? Were receipts issued for those donations? Did the Police investigate the source of those donations?
  • The Police state that  although Banks had filed a false election return, “he hadn’t done so deliberately, because he had signed it without reading it“. Really?! Is that the new standard set in New Zealand where people can sign documents and escape liability by simply claiming “I didn’t read it”?! (Can I use that with my bank manager to stop paying my mortgage, because “I didn’t read my  mortgage agreement with my bank?”. Won’t she be pleased!)
  • Skycity received a receipt from Bank’s Campaign Treasurer for their $15,000 donation. That donation was later listed as ‘anonymous’.  (By contrast, Len Brown – who also received a $15,000 donation from Skycity – openly and correctly recorded the source of that donation on his Electoral return.) How could Banks’ Treasurer then knowingly record that Skycity donation as “anonymous”?!
  • Banks twice phoned Dotcom to thank him for the donation – the same donation he could not remember when first challenged by the media.
  • John Banks incited Kim Dotcom to break the Electoral law on reporting donations by advising him to hide the $50,000 donation: “I want to help you Kim and I can help you more effectively if no-one knows about this donation.” (See: John Banks told lawyer of support by Dotcom )
  • Banks is now trying to hide his statement to the Police, despite his oft-repeatred mantra, “Nothing to fear, nothing to hide”. Banks is most certainly doing his utmost to hide his statement he made to the police. See: “Banks camp’s stories differ“. What is Banks trying to hide from the Public? What more is there that would damn John Banks in the eyes of the public? What indeed.

Further  playing the role of the scoundrel and rogue, Banks then has the temerity to blame others for his mendacity. Through a spokeswoman (because Banks hasn’t the intestinal fortitude to front directly to the media), he released this statement,

A spokeswoman for the minister said he had always stated he signed the electoral return in good faith believing it to be true and correct. “He has always believed he acted within the law.”

She said the law – passed by Labour 11 years ago and tightened yesterday – was “unclear, unfair and unworkable”.

“Mr Banks believes that no candidate for public office should have to go through what he has been through.”

Unbelievable!!

Banks says “He has always believed he acted within the law” ?!?!

By advising a political donor to hide his donation by splitting it in two?

Banks then attempts to blame the Labour Party by suggesting that the law was “unclear, unfair and unworkable” ?!?!

The law is actually quite clear and specific:

”  109 Return of electoral expenses

(1) Within 55 days after the day on which the successful candidates at any election are declared to be elected, every candidate at the election must transmit to the electoral officer a return setting out—

  • (a) the candidate’s electoral expenses; and

  • (b) the name and address of each person who made an electoral donation to the candidate and the amount of each electoral donation; and

  • (c) if an electoral donation of money or of the equivalent of money is made to the candidate anonymously and the amount of that donation exceeds $1,000,—

    • (i) the amount of that donation; and

    • (ii) the fact that it has been received anonymously.

(2) Every return under subsection (1) must be in the form prescribed in Schedule 2 or to similar effect.

(3) If the candidate is outside New Zealand on the day on which the successful candidates are declared to be elected, the return must be transmitted by the candidate to the electoral officer within 21 days after the date of the candidate’s return to New Zealand.

(4) It is the duty of every electoral officer to ensure that this section is complied with. “

Source: Local Electoral Act 2001

The law is actually quite clear and specific: donations and donors are to be truthfully recorded:  “the name and address of each person who made an electoral donation to the candidate and the amount of each electoral donation; and…

It was not the law at fault – it was the person who conspired to defeat that law who is at fault here. If a person like John Banks is not preprared to follow the law – both in letter and spirit – then no amount of “tightening” legislation will work. People like Banks will simply find new ways to circumvent the intent of legislation.

It is therefore a bit rich for Banks to say,

As Charles Dickens said in 1838 the law is an ass – and it’s important that the Government cleans it up. No candidate for public office should go through what I had to go through.”

See: Banks welcomes changes to ‘unfair’ donations law

The law is not an “ass”. The real  ass is a certain MP for Epsom who treats the law like a minor irrirant, to be brushed aside at will.

Banks would not have gone  “through what [he] had to go through” had he simply followed  the law. It wasn’t “rocket science”.

Banks is also blaming Police for not releasing the record of  his three-hour interview with the Police, saying that it was their decision. This is another lie from the Member for Epsom.

As with all lies, they eventually collapse under their complexity, as happened when Banks’ press secretary let slip that he had indeed “gone over” his Electoral Return with his Campaign Treasurer, before signing it,

Mr Banks is likely to face further questions after his press secretary removed his line of defence against the accusations.

Police said they could not prove that he knew the content of the form was false because it was filled out by the campaign treasurer, who assured Mr Banks it was “true and correct”. Mr Banks then signed it.

Ms Mackey yesterday challenged descriptions of this as saying Mr Banks signed the form without reading it. In an email, she said: “But John Banks did read the document.”

Police had already established Mr Banks knew who some anonymous donors were. Ms Mackey’s statement meant he would have known the donation form did not include donors of whom he was personally aware.

She then back-pedalled, saying the treasurer had “gone over” the form with Mr Banks.

See: Banks camp’s stories differ

This  is not the first time that the  Banks/ACT camp has slipped up and  issued a conflicting statement,

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On the following day, another ACT member dropped an even bigger ‘clanger‘.

On 2 May,  ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson. (Note: This blogger personally heard this interview.)

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ACT Party President Chris Simmons

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Simmons stated that the suggestion, by John Banks,  to split the $50,000 donation was,

“…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.

He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers.”

With that extraordinary slip-of-the-tongue, Simmons had publicly admitted what Kim Dotcom had been alleging, and what John Banks had been consistently andf strenuously denying.

Simons retracted within the hour, according to the “NZ Herald“.

See: Act Party president flip flops on money

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So it appears that Simmons was right the first time; John Banks had indeed suggested to Dotcom to split the $50,000 donation. When Simmons retracted that statement less than an hour later, that is when he lied when he said,

I can’t say that because I don’t know that and John hasn’t told me that. I haven’t asked John that. What John has told me is he spoke to a lot of people asking for donations. He has told me [he] spoke to Dotcom but I haven’t gone into the details of it. All I’m interested in [is] was that donation report above board. He’s been very clear he has nothing to fear and nothing to hide.”

See: Act Party president flip flops on money

How many people have been drawn into Banks’ web of lies? How many more will  lie for him?

It should be abundantly clear to any but the most partisan National/ACT supporter that John Banks has the moral compass of a Nigerian scammer. It is therefore unacceptable that, when challenged, Dear Leader John Key reaffirms his support for Banks,

 “Nothing has changed when it comes to (our earlier) position. I haven’t read the full (police) report, I’ve seen what’s in the media … Look, this is a politically motivated attack from Labour and really where they should have put their political energy is changing the law. It is very, very broad, unworkable law and that’s why the Government is changing it now.”

John Key was then asked if he still maintained confidence in Banks, and replied,

Yes absolutely.”

See: PM stands by John Banks

Two points;

1. The law currently states that ” if an electoral donation of money or of the equivalent of money is made to the candidate anonymously and the amount of that donation exceeds $1,000…

National is planning to change the Act by raising the limit to $1,500. How that would have prevented Banks from rorting the Electoral Act is unclear to this blogger.

2. When NZ First Leader, Winston Peters was embroiled in the Owen Glenn donations scandal, John Key was very adamant what he expected from then-Prime Minister, Helen Clark,

”  Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 4:24 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party

John Key MP
National Party Leader

27 August 2008

Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.

“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.

“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.

“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.

“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.

“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.

“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.

“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”.

Source: Scoop.co.nz – Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

Indeed.

Your call, Mr Key.

Addendum

A link to this blogpost has been emailed to media, political parties, as well as John Key and John Banks. Why not? Nothing to fear, nothing to hide…

Continued at:

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Toru)

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Related blogpost

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

Additional

Local Electoral Act 2001

Summary Proceedings Act 1957, Section 14

Police statement: Outcome of Police investigation into electoral returns of Hon John Banks

Police Complaint File No: 120427/9334

Listen to Mary Wilson’s interview with Malcolm Burgess (26 July 2012)

Call to sack Banks after more donations details released (13 September 2012)

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= fs =

John Banks – escaping justice

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John Banks

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Once upon a time, the people of a tiny little nation at the bottom of the world believed that their country lived by laws that applied to everyone. The system was simple; irrespective of who you were and how wealthy or poor you were; regardless of whether you were powerful or powerless, the law applied to all equally.

How naive we were.

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1. Background

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(Blogger’s note: This section deal with bachground events leading up to the recent Police investigation and decision regarding John Bank’s donations scandal. For those who are aware of the facts, you may wish to “cut to the chase” and scroll down to Section 2,  Police Decision. )

The donations saga began in April of this year, when revelations surfaced that John Banks, MP for Epsom, and a Minister in  John Key’s National-led government, was accused of hiding the names of donors in his Electoral Donations return. Instead of listing each donor by name, they were referred to as “anonymous”.

The donations were made toward his unsuccessful bid  for the 2010 Mayoral election.

In all, Banks recieved donations of,

All were listed as “anonymous”, despite John Banks being fully aware of the donor’s identity.

The saga began on 5 April with this revelation,

ACT MP John Banks failed to declare a $15,000 donation from SkyCity in his return for Auckland’s mayoral election, it has been claimed in Parliament.

Labour’s deputy leader, Grant Robertson, said SkyCity had publicly stated it gave $15,000 donations to Len Brown, who is now the city’s mayor, and Mr Banks, who was the main challenger.

“John Banks failed to declare a $15,000 donation from SkyCity in his electoral return,” Mr Robertson said, speaking under parliamentary privilege.

“SkyCity publicly stated they had given $15,000 to both the main candidates and that they have a policy of asking those who get donations to declare it.

“That donation does not appear in his return”. “

Whilst Banks did not declare the $15,000 donation from Skycity, his political rival, Len Brown did,

SkyCity gave $15,000 each to Len Brown, now mayor, and Mr Banks, his rival, during that campaign.

Although Mr Brown’s donation return listed SkyCity as a donor, Mr Banks’ listed an anonymous donation of $15,000. It did not mention SkyCity.

See: Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor

On 15 April, Kim Dotcom held a birthday party at his Coatsville mansion in Auckland. John Banks and his wife were invited to attend,

” … Mr Banks said he hardly knew the internet tycoon.

He said his contact with Dotcom was limited to a total of 20 minutes conversation and he had been to Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville only once for dinner.

But film of the event – Dotcom’s birthday party – showed Mr Banks making a toast to the tycoon.

Footage showed Mr Banks raising a glass and saying, “I’m going to propose a toast to Kim Dotcom. Please fill your glasses and stand. Happy birthday and best wishes to Kim Dotcom, Mona and his family.”

Staff at the mansion said it was one of three visits. The pair also met at Princes Wharf on New Year’s Eve 2010 when Dotcom put on a $600,000 fireworks display.

The pair first met in April 2010 when Dotcom sent his helicopter to collect Mr Banks from Mechanics Bay in downtown Auckland.

Dotcom said the pair met in the mansion, sitting at a large square table, and chatted.

Bodyguard Wayne Tempero was present, as was one of Dotcom’s butlers. His company chief financial officer also attended briefly.

“He mentioned the elections were coming up [and] he was raising money for his campaign,” Dotcom said. “He said it was hard to raise money in New Zealand, the mayoral campaign was coming up and he’s trying to raise funds for that.

“I kind of liked the guy. I said, ‘I’m happy to help.’ I told Wayne to write a cheque for $50,000.

“His [Mr Banks’] eyes got a little bit bigger at that moment.”

Mr Tempero asked the chief financial officer to come into the room to write the cheque.

“John said, ‘Wait a minute’,” Dotcom recalled last night. “‘It would be good if you could split it up into two payments of 25 [thousand dollars], then I don’t declare publicly who made it’.”

Dotcom said one cheque was made out in his own name, or the name of his company Megastuff Ltd, and the other in Mr Tempero’s name.

“He [Mr Banks] called me a few days after the cheques entered his bank account and he thanked me personally.”

Last night, Mr Banks said there would be nothing wrong with his telling people how to give anonymously.

“If someone says to me, ‘How can I put money into your campaign?’ what would be wrong with telling them that – if that was that case?

“I could say, ‘Firstly, you should talk to people who are raising money for me. But if you want to put money into my campaign, you can put it in two ways. You can put it in anonymously or you can put it in and have it declared.’ It’s quite legitimate.

See: Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

Note that John Banks claimed “he hardly knew the internet tycoon“. As events progressed, it became abundantly clear that Banks had lied, and his relationship with Dorcom was more than  ” limited to a total of 20 minutes conversation”.

Then on 27 April, TV3’s John Campbell discovered another donor to Banks’ election campaign who had been listed as “anonymous” in their electoral donations return;  Kim Dotcom,

Kim Dotcom is the latest person to have been found to have allegedly donated money anonymously to John Banks.

It is already known that in the race to be super city mayor, Sky City donated $15,000 each to the two front runners.

Len Brown listed Sky City as a donor but Mr Banks did not.

Campbell Live was interested in that because we had heard Kim Dotcom had made a donation three times that size to the John Banks mayoralty campaign.

Campbell Live has even been told Mr Banks was so grateful that he called Dotcom to thank him for it.

An investigation found that like the Sky City donation, the Dotcom donation appears to be listed as anonymous.

The question is why? 

When Campbell pressed Banks as to whether he had received donations from Dotcom or how well he knew the German entrepreneur, or having flown to his mansion in a helicopter, John Banks mental condition appears to have suddenly deteriorated with a sudden onset of Alzheimers,

Kim Dotcom says the birthday party was not the only occasion Mr Banks visited, saying he once sent his helicopter into Auckland to collect Mr Banks from the central city landing strip at Mechanic’s Bay, and fly him out to the Dotcom Mansion.

But Mr Banks does not remember whether that happened or not.

“I don’t remember that,” Mr Banks says.

When pressed on whether or not he had ever taken a helicopter to the Dotcom mansion, Mr Banks remained vague.

“I can’t recall whether I did or not,” he says.

Dotcom says Mr Banks gratefully accepted his offer, but Dotcom also says Mr Banks asked for the donation to be split into two payments of $25,000 each.

Mr Banks says he does not remember who gave him money.

“Well, I don’t know. I mean I haven’t seen the forms now for a couple of years, so I don’t know who gave me money, I can’t remember now,” says Mr Banks.

He also says he could not remember discussing money with Dotcom and his team.

“Well I met with them, I know them, but I can’t recall discussing money with them”. “

Banks added his by-now famous line,

I welcome this enquiry by the electoral officer, no problems, nothing to hide, nothing to fear.”

See:   Banks knew about ‘anonymous’ Dotcom donation – reports

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According to John Campbell, there were no donations from Kim Dotcom listed on Banks’ Electoral returns – but there were five anonmymous donations of $25,000.

See: Banks questioned over Dotcom donation

Why was Kim Dotcom’s $50,000 donation not listed on Banks’ Return? Here’s why,

Act leader John Banks asked for a $50,000 political donation to be split into two parts so it could be made anonymously, says Kim Dotcom and one other witness.

Dotcom said the request was made on April 15, 2010, when Mr Banks was preparing to campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

He said there were at times three other people in the room while the donation was discussed – and Mr Banks rang later to thank him for it.  “

See: Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

Because two $25,000 donations could be listed as “anonymous” under the Electoral Act?

On the same day, the matter of Skycity’s donation was reported to the police for investigation, via the Electoral Commission. The complaint was raised by Labour MP, Trevor Mallard,

Electoral officer Bruce Thomas in responding to Mr Mallard today noted that under section 138 of the Local Electoral Act 2001, he was required to report to the police any written complaint alleging an offence had been committed.

“Accordingly, I advise that I am referring this matter onto the police for their attention”. “

See: Banks’ SkyCity donation complaint referred to police

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On the 29th of April, Banks was interviewed on TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme.

PAUL  HOLMES           
Mr Parker, I would ask you to sit there for a little while, because, Mr Banks, other matters have reared their head over the last couple of days, and David Shearer, the Labour leader, is demanding of the Prime Minister that he stand you down over the Kim Dotcom donation affair. Should he, or shouldn’t you stand yourself down?

JOHN  BANKS        
This is the problem – it’s a sideshow; it’s mostly a media beat-up, and much of it is humbug.

PAUL            
No, dammit, it’s about the law, Mr Banks.

JOHN            
Yes, well, have a look at the 2001 act and you’ll see what a professor of law said this morning in the Sunday Herald. Yesterday the media had me going to jail. Today they’re saying I’m likely to be in the clear. That is the problem. Last week I was the sideshow. Next week Mr Shearer will be the sideshow because Mr Shearer’s going to be rolled in the next couple of weeks. That’s the problem.

PAUL            
Can I just have a look at some of what’s emerged? You were up at Kim Dotcom’s, and did you know he was giving you the money? Did you know he was writing out a cheque or getting his man to write a cheque?

JOHN            
Look, we’re here to talk about investment, growth and jobs…

PAUL            
Well, I’m sorry, Mr Banks, this has taken precedence.

JOHN            
Let me answer your question. All this has been narrated mainly on the front page of the local newspaper here and across the media…

PAUL            
Well, I’m giving you the chance to debate it with us here, so answer the question. Were you there when the cheques came out? Did you know he was giving you the money?

JOHN            
I don’t…

PAUL            
Did he mention $50,000?

JOHN            
Why don’t you…

PAUL            
Were you there when they started writing a cheque?

JOHN            
(LAUGHS)

PAUL            
Did you ask for it to be two cheques because you could make it anonymous? And if you were there and you declared that donation anonymous, you’re dead meat, aren’t you, because that was illegal.

JOHN            
I think you think I came up the river on a cabbage boat. I can tell you that when I signed my declaration for the mayoralty I signed it in good faith in the knowledge as a Justice of the Peace as true and correct. I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide and I welcome the inquiry and everything will come out in the wash, Mr Holmes. I’m more invested in the real issues of investment growth and jobs and providing working opportunities for 80,000 of our kids that are out of school and out of luck.

PAUL            
But are you saying – because it is illegal, you know, don’t you, that if you know where a donation came from, to claim it was anonymous. So is what Mr Dotcom is saying about – your eyes perked up, your eyes went big at the mention of 50 grand. And so the fella gets the chequebook out and you’re sitting there and he writes a cheque. I mean, are you saying that he’s lying? Because that’s what he’s saying.

JOHN            
I don’t know why you’re going on about this. I have nothing to hide.

PAUL            
Is he lying?

JOHN            
It’s a media beat-up. Yesterday I was going to jail. Today I’m going to be cleared. I mean, that’s what the media get up to, and you’re beating it up again. Look, we’ve got an inquiry…

PAUL            
Mr Banks.

JOHN            
I’m very happy to have the inquiry. (CHUCKLES)

PAUL            
Did you know Kim Dotcom had written you two cheques for 50 grand, and did you therefore put them in your return as two lots of 25, anonymous? Yes or no?

JOHN            
I signed my return honestly. I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear and it will all come…

PAUL            
Did you know Mr Dotcom was throwing 50 grand at you?

JOHN            
…out in the wash. And I want to talk this morning about our competition with Australia for investment and jobs and getting the government off our backs and out of our pockets and providing an economic environment where we can create wealth for our country. “

Paul Holmes’ closing comment in that interview,

Thank you. We have to leave it there. And I can’t believe you can’t remember whether you went in a helicopter or not.”

See: Q+A: Transcript of David Parker and John Banks interview

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On the same day (29th), Prime Minister John Key issued a public statement supporting John Banks,

I’ve sought an assurance from Mr Banks that he complied with local government law. He’s given me that assurance. I accept him at his word. If people don’t believe that they are free to test that with the police. “

Whether or not Key’s statement is factually correct is open to interpretation, as the Prime Minister later acknowledged that he had not spoken directly with Banks.

Key rejected calls to stand Banks  down, even whilst Police were investigating the Minister.

See: PM standing by under fire Banks

On the following day, 30 April, the media reported more information backing up Kim Dotcom’s claims,

Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom’s records will show ACT MP John Banks made a phone call to say thanks for two $25,000 donations, it’s been reported…

… Mr Banks says he’s done nothing wrong, didn’t know Dotcom made the donations and didn’t phone him to thank him for them.

3News reports Mr Banks met Dotcom in June 2010 and a few days later two $25,000 cheques were banked in Queenstown into Mr Banks’ mayoral fund.

They were made out to Team Banks.

“Our source says Banks rang Dotcom two days later. The source says `Kim’s records will show this’,” 3News reports…

…Mr Banks won’t answer questions other than to say he didn’t call Dotcom about the donations. “

See:  Dotcom says Banks thanked him for cheques

Labour MP Trevor Mallard stated he was prepared to lay a Police complaint John Banks’ failure to properly disclose  Kim Dotcom’s donation, adding to his previous complaint regarding Skycity’s $15,000 donation to Banks, and which also had not been properly disclosed on his Electoral Donation Returns.

Dotcom gave further details how the $50,000 donation to Banks had been made,

Dotcom has said one of the two cheques paid to Mr Banks was made out in his own name, or the name of his company, Megastuff. The other was in the name of his bodyguard, Wayne Tempero.

The Herald last night spoke to a former Dotcom employee, who said they had personally deposited the cheques into Mr Banks’ campaign account.

The former employee said, “They were deposited just through a normal bank process. It would have just come up as a $25,000 deposit.”

… Dotcom says Mr Banks rang him to thank him for the money after it was paid. “

See: Banks’ funds: Dotcom checks books

John Banks, in turn, denied that he had phoned Kim Dotcom to thank him for any donations,

John Banks says he never called German billionaire Kim Dotcom to thank him for a $50,000 donation to his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign…

… Banks has previously said he did not recall whether he made the phone call, but now says he never did. However he did have contact with Dotcom about “other matters“. “

See: Banks denies calling Dotcom over donation

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By 1 May, the pressure and mounting evidence had forced John Banks into a corner. Every allegation made by Kim Dotcom had been documented with evidence,  witnesses, and even a video of his relationship with Banks.

Meanwhile, Banks had nothing but constant protests of  “I can’t remember”.

“… Mr Banks denied misleading the public about the donations and events around them, including a helicopter ride to Dotcom’s mansion which he has said he cannot remember.

“I didn’t lie. There’s no reason to believe that I lied. I simply couldn’t recall“. “

See: Banks: I didn’t lie, I simply forgot

Who forgets a helicopter ride? Especially a flight to one of the largest mansions in Auckland?!

Which, of course, begs the question as to why a person with such “deteriorating memory” holds a Ministerial Warrant and position of authority  in  government. Most people with such a poor  mental condition would be on extended sick leave. Or in a medical facility receiving appropriate care.

Banks finally admitted that he had not been upfront with the public,

”  He specifically referred to an interview which aired Monday on Campbell Live, in which he repeatedly said he “couldn’t remember” his communications with Kim Dotcom.

But Mr Banks says the answers he gave on the programme were wrong and admits he was not telling the truth.

“I could have quite easily answered all of those questions up front, contrary to the legal advice.

“I have never had any problem answering questions in a very straight manner…that is why the public will be surprised I took the legal advice literally, not to jeopardise any inquiry,” he says.

Mr Banks still backs his legal standing over the declaration of donations, repeating he has “nothing to fear and nothing to hide”.

“There could be a public perception that I have been obfuscating around some of these things. I shouldn’t have taken that legal advice and I should have answered questions much more straight”.

See: Banks ‘regrets’ legal advice to stay silent

See: What the documents say about Dotcom’s donation (video)

Which is interesting, as one wonders how John Banks could have had the time to contact his lawyer prior to his interview with John Campbell, to seek legal advice?

And why would “his lawyer tell him to keep his lips sealed on the matter”?

Generally, lawyers only give such advice only if a person is being interviewed by Police or have been charged  with an offence.

It seems bizarre to understand why a lawyer would offer such advice. After all, Banks was not a  suspect in any criminal case. And any suggestion that a lawyer would give such advice so as ” not to jeopardise any inquiry ” seems unlikely. Remember that the Skycity issue had not been in the public domain until John Campbells first interviewed Banks  for the TV3 story; Banks accused of failing to declare donation.

So Banks was forced to admit that he had been – in his own words – “obfuscating “. But then offered  a weak excuse that he had “advised by his lawyer” not to answer questions.

Does this seem even vaguely plausible?

Even Wellington’s daily newspaper, ‘The Dominion Post‘ found Banks’ explanation unconvincing. On 2 May, their front page demanded answers to five, specific  questions,

1. Have you actually read the Local Electoral Act?

2. Did you tell Kim Dotcom to split a $50,000 donation into two cheques?

3. What did Kim Dotcom want in return for his donation?

4. You admit advocating for him – when, to who, and on what subjects?

5. Did you give the prime minister the same untrue explanations you’ve given the media?

The same article went on to state,

Mr Key has insisted that he would sack Mr Banks if it turned out the MP had not told him the truth – but apparently that test applies only to questions the prime minister and his office put to Mr Banks directly, not the answers he gave to the media and the public.

And, as it turns out, Mr Key’s office has never actually asked Mr Banks the questions that might put the prime minister in the awkward position of knowing whether the former Auckland mayor broke the spirit, if not the letter, of the law over anonymous donations to his mayoral campaign fund in 2010 – questions such as do you know what “anonymous” means, did you tell Dotcom to divide a $50,000 donation into two cheques, what did Dotcom want from you in return, and why was it so important for you to have these donations treated anonymously, even when the donors clearly weren’t fussed?

Two further revelations were made public;

Firstly, it transpired that John Key hadn’t spoken directly to Banks. Instead the ACT leader had given ”an absolute and categorical assurance to my office”  (to Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson?) that he acted within the Local Electoral Act 2001.

It seems inexplicable that since the story first broke on 5 April, the Prime Minister had not pulled Banks into his office and spoken directly with him to gain a “categorical assurance”  that he had complied with the law.

Instead, the Prime Minister had left this extremely serious matter to a staffer.

Which, in itself, is incredible, as John Key’s Coalition rests on a precarious one-seat majority. If Banks were to mis-calculate and be forced to resign, Key’s government would fall and be forced to hold an early election.

The only conclusion one can draw from Key’s decision not to confront Banks directly is that he wanted to keep his Minister at “arms length” from himself.  In the world of Political Theatre, this is known as “plausible deniability“.

Or, more realistically, Key  lied and he had met, secretly, with Banks.

A second matter arose on this day, and Banks admitted that he had lobbied another Minister on behalf of Kim Dotcom,

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson this morning confirmed Banks had called him in mid 2011 on behalf of Dotcom, who was applying through the Overseas Investment Office to buy his Coatesville mansion.

Bank said this afternoon he spoke to Williamson about two times, largely about procedural matters because Dotcom’s application was taking a long time to process.

“I rang Maurice Williamson about it, I wasn’t the Mayor of Auckland, I wasn’t a Member of Parliament, I was a private citizen and I made the phone call and I’d do it again.”

“I said to Mr Dotcom I would give him advice on that and I did“.”

See: Five questions Banks must answer

Williamson’s involvement on this issue became murkier, as  claims and denials began to swirl around those involved,

Documents released under the Official Information Act show Dotcom wanted to buy the $30 million mansion he was renting in in Coatesville, its $5 million neighbouring “cottage” and a $10 million beach house at Doubtless Bay in Northland.

The application to buy the properties went to Mr Williamson, who gave formal approval on April 7 last year.

Dotcom’s bodyguard, Wayne Tempero, said he took a call from Mr Banks about the application. The call was to let Dotcom know the application was going ahead as expected and that Mr Williamson had signed it.

Dotcom said Mr Tempero briefed him on the conversation.

Last night, Mr Banks confirmed he had updated Dotcom’s staff about the application to buy the land.

A spokesman said: “Mr Banks communicated with Mr Tempero that the OIO application was continuing to progress through the approval process.”

But a spokeswoman for Mr Williamson said he had given no information to anyone outside his office over giving approval to allow Dotcom to buy the land.  “

See: John Banks: I briefed Dotcom

At this point, Prime Minister John Key must have been dreading that another of his Ministers (Maurice Williamson) was being slowly dragged into this mess.

But Key did himself no favours when he attempted to justify John Banks’ constantly-changing story, by suggesting,

Well, there’s quite a wide definition of ethics.”

When even the National Business Review –  the most business-friendly; National-friendly; and ACT-friendly newspaper states,

It was hardly the most ringing of endorsements.

– then you know you’re in trouble.

See: Prime minister defends embattled John Banks

In the same article, Banks was reported to have stated,

I was not aware that Mr Dotcom had made this donation to my campaign. I did not call him to thank him as the donation was made anonymously.

I can confirm that I had contact with Mr Dotcom on other matters, including thanking him for the generous $500,000 donation that he made to the ratepayers of Auckland for the 2010 New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

However, I never called and thanked him for any donation to my mayoral campaign.”

See: Prime minister defends embattled John Banks

Which is “an interesting proposition” (to borrow one of the Prime Minister’s phrases), considering the dates involved;

  1. Kim Dotcom states that Banks’  request for a donation was made on  15 April 2010, when Mr Banks was preparing to campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.  (See: Banks sought split donation – Dotcom)
  2. The 2010 Local Body elections were held, via postal ballot from 17 September to  Saturday 9 October 2010. (See: Frequently asked questions – 2010 local elections)
  3. Kim Dotcom wrote out two cheques, for $25,000 each, on 9 June 2010, and both were deposited into “Team Banksie’s” account. (See: What the documents say about Dotcom’s donation )
  4. Kim Dotcom says that John Banks phoned him two days later ( 11 June)  to thank him for the donation(s). (See: Dotcom says Banks thanked him for cheques)
  5. John Banks states that he ” had contact with Mr Dotcom on other matters, including thanking him for the generous $500,000 donation that he made to the ratepayers of Auckland for the 2010 New Year’s Eve fireworks display “.
  6. So John Banks is saying that he phoned Kim Dotcom, on 11 June, to thank him for a fireworks display, that was six months away? What part of that sounds even remotely plausible?  One would  think that Banks had more on his mind – his mayoralty campaign for example – than a fireworks display that was half a year away.

John Banks’ assertion that he phoned Kim Dotcom to thank for for an event that was six months away is not credible and obviously Banks lied regarding his reason for phoning Dotcom.

On the following day, another ACT member dropped an even bigger ‘clanger‘.

On 2 May,  ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’as “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson. (Note: This blogger personally heard this interview.)

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Act Party president Chris Simmons

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Simmons stated that the suggestion, by John Banks,  to split the $50,000 donation was,

“…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.

He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers.”

With that extraordinary slip-of-the-tongue, Simmons had publicly admitted what Kim Dotcom had been alleging, and what John Banks had been consistently andf strenuously denying.

Simons retracted within the hour, according to the “NZ Herald“.

See: Act Party president flip flops on money

A  day later, on 3 May, a third allegation of a supposedly “anonymous” donation surfaced,

”  Questions were raised yesterday about a $15,000 gift of “radio advertising” to his 2010 mayoralty campaign. Police are investigating other donations to his failed campaign.

Mr Banks admitted yesterday he got a discounted deal at internet mogul Kim Dotcom’s favourite Hong Kong hotel, after initially denying he got cheap rates for the Christmas holiday.

Prime Minister John Key continued to back Mr Banks, but still has not talked to his embattled minister outside Cabinet.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said it would be “absolutely weird” that $15,690 worth of radio advertisements could be donated anonymously, especially as they must be approved by a candidate, or his or her nominee.

“If it pretends to be anonymous and it’s not, then that is a breach of a law”. 

See: Campaign advertising gift in spotlight

Not only was this allegation of yet another “anonymous donation” further indication that Banks was not complying with the Local Electoral Act – but Prime Minister John Key had still not spoken directly with his Minister.

One wonders what was preventing Key with meeting with Banks?

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Or if he had met, why was it being kept secret?

On 16 May, further revelations appeared in the media, suggesting that there had been a greater degree of familiarity between John Banks and Kim Dotcom than Banks had previously admitted,

ACT leader John Banks has admitted he received a $1000 gift basket from internet tycoon Kim Dotcom, which should have been declared under parliamentary rules.

Banks, the lone ACT MP in government, received the basket during a stay at the Grant Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong during 2011, according to a New Zealand Herald story today.

In reply, he sent Dotcom a note thanking him for his hospitality, saying he enjoyed his stay.

Cabinet rules require members of Parliament to disclose to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests any gift accepted worth more than $500. This declaration includes hospitality and donations in cash or kind.

See:  Banks admits receiving gift from Kim Dotcom

Remember that on 15 April, Banks said “he hardly knew the internet tycoon”.

By 5 July, Police had completed their investigation,

See: Police investigation into Banks’ mayoral campaign completed

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2. Police Decision

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On 26 July, nearly four months after the story broke on ‘Campbell Live’ on 5 April, the police arrived at a decision: they would not be prosecuting,

Police investigated complaints in respect to donations from Sky City and the internet millionaire Kim Dotcom and the donation of radio advertising from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

They say they have established that he solicited the donations that a campaign volunteer subsequently recorded in his electoral return as anonymous, but that he sought and received confirmation the returns were accurate before he signed them off.

In a letter to Mr Mallard, police say there is insufficient evidence on any of the three complaints to prosecute on the basis that the return was submitted knowing it was false.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess told Checkpoint the volunteer who compiled the return followed an appropriate procedure. He says the volunteer told Mr Banks the return was recorded correctly, and Mr Banks acted within the law in signing it off.

Listen to Mary Wilson’s interview with Police Asst Commissioner Malcolm Burgess

See: Labour says Banks should still be stood down

Prime Minister John Key was quick to leap to John Banks defence as Labour leader David Shearer and Greens co-Leader Metiria Turei called for Banks to be stood down.  In an extraordinary attempt to trivialise the scandal, Key  described  the complaints laid against Banks as “politically motivated”, and said,

The issue is whether the minister complied with the law. The police have effectively confirmed today that he has.”

See: Opposition calls for Key to dump Banks

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Once again, John Key has mis-represented the actual Police decision to the point where it is now the Prime Minister who could be accused of not telling the truth.

In fact, far from confirming that John Banks “complied with the law“, the Police report was damning,

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See: Police Complaint File No: 120427/9334

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3. Questions & Conclusions & Questions

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Note the following for each donor;

Skycity

Skycity handed a cheque ($15,000 in cash would be difficult to fit into an envelope) to John Banks. Any such cheque would have had “Skycity” or it’s holding company’s name stamped on it.

Why was it still recorded as “anonymous”?

Was the “Treasurer” for “Team Banksie” given instructions to list the Skycity donation as anonymous? Or did s/he make their own decision to do so?

When cheques are deposited in banks, relevant details are usually recorded on a  Banking Supplementary Deposit form, which lists,

  • name of cheque issuer
  • issuing bank
  • issuing Bank branch
  • amount to be paid

A carbon-copy of this Banking Supplementary Deposit form is usually retained within the Deposit book.

Why were the details in the Banking Supplementary Deposit book not used to record who deposited which cheque?

Did the Police ask these relevant questions and did they sight “Team Banksies” Banking Supplementary Deposit book?

John Banks’ mayoral opponant, Len Brown, was able to correctly list “Skycity” as the donor of a similar $15,000 cheque to Brown’s campaign Team. Why was John Banks unable to follow suit?

Anonymous Radio Ads

$15,690 worth of radio advertising was recorded as “Anonymous”  in the Electoral Return, by “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer.

How is it feasible that the Treasurer was unaware of who provided funding for radio advertisements?

Was the Treasurer not part of “Team Banksie’s” Campaign Committee?

Were  publicity and advertising strategies not discussed at “Team Banksie’s” Campaign Committee meetings?

How could publicity and advertising strategies be discussed at “Team Banksie’s” Campaign Committee meetings – without setting a budget for advertising, and to which the Campaign’s Treasurer would have had in-put into relevant discussions?

Did the Police ask these questions from John Banks; his Campaign Manager; and the Treasurer?

Kim Dotcom

Police confirmed Kim Dotcom’s allegations,

  1. Banks solicited a donation from Kim Dotcom
  2. A $50,000 donation was made, split in two lots of $25,000 each
  3. The donation(s) were recorded as anonymous

The questions that Police do not address in their letter to Trevor Mallard  are,

A. Why was the $50,000 donation split in two?

B. Did they not think this was odd?

C. Did “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer at any time enquire from John Banks where those three donations had originated from?

D. Did Police ask John Banks if he phoned Kim Dotcom to thank him for the donation(s)?

E. Did Police take sworn statements from Dotcom’s witnesses?

F. Did Police ask John Banks if he (Banks) enquired from “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer why Kim Dotcom’s donation was not listed on the Electoral Returns statement? (Considering that John Banks was expecting a donation from Kim Dotcom, surely he – Banks – would have noticed the absence of Dotcom’s name?)

G. Did Police ask John Banks if he advised Kim Dotcom to split the donation in two? If not, why not?

H. Why were some donations listed as “anonymous” whilst others provided identifying details of donors? What process was used to differentiate between “anonymous” and identified donors?

None of these questions appear to have been addressed in any manner whatsoever.

See also: Listen to Mary Wilson’s interview with Malcolm Burgess

If it is true that John Banks did advise Kim Dotcom to split the $50,000 donation in two parts so as to avoid naming the donor, then, it seems inescapable that  he (Banks) has committed a prima facie offence under both parts of Section 134, namely that,

Every candidate commits an offence who transmits a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in any material particular, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment  for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and… “

Banks knew that Kim Dotcom had donated $50,000.

Banks knew that the amount was split in two lots of $25,000.

Banks knew it was done to enable the donation(s) to be listed as “anonymous”.

Banks signed the Electoral Return knowing that it was false in a material particular.

Lastly, all three donations were investigated by Police, and yet they concluded that,

Any charges for offences persuant to Section 134(2) must be laid within six months of the electoral return being supplied. Police first received this complaint for investigation on 1 May 2012, approximately 10 months after the expiry of six month operiod.  Police are therefore unable to consider charges persuant to this section.”

The relevant Act states,

134 False return
  • (1) Every candidate commits an offence who transmits a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in any material particular, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

    (2) Every candidate commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 who transmits a return of electoral expenses that is false in any material particular unless the candidate proves—

    • (a) that he or she had no intention to mis-state or conceal the facts; and

    • (b) that he or she took all reasonable steps to ensure that the information was accurate.

See: Local Electoral Act 2001, 134, False Return

As an astute reader will notice, there is no reference to any “statute of limitations” in this section.

Therefore, this blogger can only surmise at the true reason why John Banks was not prosecuted for breaching section 134  of the Local  Electoral Act 2001.

As for John Banks stating that he was “unaware” of the contents of his Electoral Act, which he signed, the Crimes Act states quite clearly,

25 Ignorance of law
  • The fact that an offender is ignorant of the law is not an excuse for any offence committed by him.

    Compare: 1908 No 32 s 45

See: Crimes Act, Section 25

Other sections of the Crimes Act that might apply in this instance,

228 Dishonestly taking or using document

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,—

  • (a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
  • (b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

See: Crimes Act, Section 228

242 False statement by promoter, etc

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, in respect of any body, whether incorporated or unincorporated and whether formed or intended to be formed, makes or concurs in making or publishes any false statement, whether in any prospectus, account, or otherwise, with intent—

  • (a) to induce any person, whether ascertained or not, to subscribe to any security within the meaning of the Securities Act 1978; or
  • (b) to deceive or cause loss to any person, whether ascertained or not; or
  • (c) to induce any person, whether ascertained or not, to entrust or advance any property to any other person.

(2) In this section, false statement means any statement in respect of which the person making or publishing the statement—

  • (a) knows the statement is false in a material particular; or
  • (b) is reckless as to the whether the statement is false in a material particular.

See: Crimes Act,  Section 242

The John Banks electoral donations saga illustrates the old maxim that “justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done“.

In this case, not only has justice not been done, but it has been seen that a politician has escaped prosecution on the flimsiest of technicalities. (A  “technicality” which does not even appear to exist.)

Compare John Banks with that of  ex-Labour Minister Taito Phillip Field, who was charged with 35 counts of  bribery and corruption crimes.

See: Taito Phillip Field case: Timeline

Field was subsequently convicted on eleven bribery and corruption charges and fifteen  counts of wilfully perverting the course of justice. He was  sentenced to six years’ jail.

See: Ex-minister’s trial a spectacular fall from grace

John Banks has escaped justice and will not face his accusers in Court.  However, the matter is far from “closed”.

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4. What is Past is Prologue

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This issue demands three responses;

1. This blogger has written to Police Asst Commissioner, Malcolm Burgess, seeking answers to several questions,

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    From:  Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
    To:  Malcolm Burgess <malcolm.burgess@police.govt.nz>
    Date:  Saturday, 28 July 2012 10:59 AM
    Subject:  File no: 120427/9334 (Complaint by Trevor Mallard, re, John Banks)

    Malcolm Burgess
    Police Asst Commissioner
    NZ Police

    28 July 2012

    Sir,

    With regards to the outcome of police investigation into Trevor  Mallard’s complaint regarding John Bank’s Electoral Return for his 2010 mayoral candidacy, could you please provide some details on this issue.

    Namely, I would appreciate your response and answers to the following questions;

    A. Why was the $50,000 donation split in two?

    B. Did Police not think this was odd?

    C. Did “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer at any time enquire from John Banks where those three donations (Skycity, radio advertising, and Kim Dotcom) had originated from?

    D. Did Police ask John Banks if he phoned Kim Dotcom to thank him for the donation(s)?

    E. Did Police take sworn statements from Dotcom’s witnesses?

    F. Did Police ask John Banks if he (Banks) enquired from “Team Banksie’s” Treasurer why Kim Dotcom’s donation was not listed on the Electoral Returns statement? (Considering that John Banks was expecting a donation from Kim Dotcom, surely he – Banks – would have noticed the absence of Dotcom’s name?)

    G. Did Police ask John Banks if he advised Kim Dotcom to split the donation in two? If not, why not?

    H. Why were some donations listed as “anonymous” whilst others provided identifying details of donors? What process was used to differentiate between “anonymous” and identified donors?

    I.   In a letter to Trevor Mallard dated 26 July 2012, and signed by Detective Superindent Peter Read, Mr Read states “Any charges for offences persuant to Section 134(2) must be laid within six months of the electoral return being supplied. Police first received this complaint for investigation on 1 May 2012, approximately 10 months after the expiry of six month operiod.  Police are therefore unable to consider charges persuant to this section.”. Can you please refer me to the section of the Local Electoral Act 2001 that refers to a six month “statute of limitations?

    For full disclosure and fairness to you, this information will be used as part of a blogpost I am currently working on, and which will be made public.

    Thank you for your time, and any light you can shed on the matters I have raised.

    Regards,
    -Frank Macskasy
    Blogger
   “Frankly Speaking

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2. This blogger then contacted Transparency.Org, an international organisation that ranks countries according to the degree of corruption within a particular society.

Last year  New Zealand ranked #1, from a list of 183 nations. North Korea and Somalia tied-equal at #182.

The question is; do we deserve to maintain our top spot?  This blogger invited Transparency International to reconsider our #1 ranking, in the light of recent events surrounding John Banks,

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From:      Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To:            Murray Petrie <executive@transparency.org.nz>
Date:        Saturday, 28 July 2012 5:50 PM
Subject:  John Banks

Murray Petrie
NZ Chapter
Transparency International

28 July 2012

Sir,

In your organisation’s  Corruption Transparency Index 2011, New Zealand rates #1 from a list of 183 countries.

I wish to refer you to a recent matter surrounding John Banks, a Minister in New Zealand’s current government, who earlier this year was accused of   filing a fraudulent Election Donations return to the NZ Electoral Commission.

The full details are covered here, in a report which I have published on my blog: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/john-banks-escaping-justice/. I invite you to consider the contents of my report; to pass it further through your organisation; and to reconsider whether or not New Zealand still deserves it’s #1 ranking on your Corruption Transparency Index.

It is my contention that New Zealand has fallen well short of full transparency on this issue, and that the Police complaint laid against John Banks produced a result that is highly questionable and the decision not to prosecute the person in question lacks probity.

I look forward to your response, and willingly offer any further assistance you may require in this matter.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
Frankly Speaking

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3. Lastly, this blogger contacted the Prime Minister, John Key, inviting his response to comments and questions raised in this blogpost,

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From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To: John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
    Chris Hipkins <chris.hipkins@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Chris Laidlaw RNZ <sunday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
    Daily News <editor@dailynews.co.nz>,
    Daily Post <editor@dailypost.co.nz>,
    David Shearer <david.shearer@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Hutt News <editor@huttnews.co.nz>,
    Kim Hill <saturday@radionz.co.nz>,
    Listener <editor@listener.co.nz>,
    Metiria Turei <metiria.turei@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
    NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
    Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>,
    Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>,
    Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>,
    Russel Norman <Russel.Norman@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Southland Times <editor@stl.co.nz>,
    TVNZ News <news@tvnz.co.nz>,
    The Press <letters@press.co.nz>,
    The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>,
    Waikato Times <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>,
    Wairarapa Times-Age <editor@age.co.nz>,
    Winston Peters <winston.peters@parliament.govt.nz>
Subject: Corrupt practices under the Local Electoral Act (2001)
Date: Saturday, 28 July 2012 6:57 PM

Rt Hon. John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Wellington

28 July 2012
 

Sir,

With regards to matters raised by TV3’s John Campbell, Trevor Mallard, and others, surrounding John Banks; his 2010 Electoral Return; and subsequent Police investigation, I invite you to read and consider questions and comments made on my blogpost, “John Banks – escaping justice“.

You will note that I have raised several questions regarding this matter, and have written to  Police Asst Commissioner,  Malcolm Burgess, for clarification and answers to issues that I regard as important.

I have also contacted Transparency International, a global NGO that rates countries according to levels of corruption within their society. Last year, New Zealand ranked #1 on a  Corruption Transparency Index 2011. Following the John Banks Donations Affair, I have invited Transparency Internation to review our top ranking, in terms of least corrupt nation on Earth.

Far from being a “closed matter”, I believe this issue is of vital importance – especially since it appears that many of Kim Dotcom’s allegations against John Banks have been substantiated.

The question that I am asking; will you remove John Banks from his Ministerial roles?

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
Frankly Speaking

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This issue is far from closed.

It is just the beginning.

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Additional

Local Electoral Act 2001

Schedule 2 Return of electoral expenses and electoral donations (As at 2010)

Beehive: John Banks

Police statement: Outcome of Police investigation into electoral returns of Hon John Banks

Banks’ donations: No charges laid

Banks won’t be charged, police say

Transparency International Corruption Perception Index

NZ Herald: Parliament’s loose cannon

National: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government (2008)

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= fs =

Guest Author: This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Occupy NZ Media #BTB #ShowAndTell Coverage

Occupy Savvy

21 July 2012

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(This post is now complete. Please share far and wide. Thank you so much for supporting citizen journalism. All credit to Occupy New Zealand Media team. Redstar’s livestream footage of this event is available here.)

Saturday 21st July 2012 was another awesome day for NZ students; who used the opportunity of the ruling National Party Conference hosted at SkyCity Casino (yes, THAT Sky City…) to push their message that education cuts, privatisation and forced austerity measures were NOT going to be taken lying down.

They did a brilliant job of organising this public event, which had many new features including NLG-style Legal Observers, free ‘Red Square’ pins for everyone and a welcoming crew that approached & chatted with members of the public throughout the day. The level of thought that had gone into the event really impressed us.

Below is a People’s Media mash-up of photos, tweets & our experiences on the ground. Non-commercial organisations (ie. other Occupy pages, citizen journalists, charities, organisations who openly endorse/support Occupy) are welcome to reprint/reblog/download/share any of the images below but we ask that you please credit Occupy New Zealand Media Team/Occupy Savvy. As usual the “big crowd” photos are about halfway down the post.

Kia ora koutou. It is a privilege to present this to you Aotearoa.

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These guys were the first thing I saw heading into Britomart. The mat was roll-up & they would jump into the intersection when the pedestrian crossing turned green – roll out the mat – drop a freestyle to some old school b-boy blaring from their beatbox and then roll it back up & jump back out when the lights turned green. So cool.

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These girls came straight up to me with big smiles and a free red square pin before I could even get to where the march was assembling.

Having such a friendly welcoming/outreach crew definitely made the difference, as I saw more and more members of the public enticed off the sidewalks and into the march proper.

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The sound truck from last Saturday’s Aotearoa Is Not For Sale march made a reappearance, except instead of King Kapisi on the back, it was bearing a coffin!

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Initially the police presence appeared minimal – probably a dozen cops. We found out later why so few were at Britomart… when we got to Sky City Convention Centre.

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Looking towards the port, where the beleaguered MUNZ workers spent much of the last year fighting for basic work conditions and respect from their well-heeled employers.

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They had this road truck follow them around dropping road cones opening & closing roads.

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The march begins to form – with the familiar BLOCKADE THE BUDGET banner from the last Blockade The Budget student protest, which suffered mass arrests and police assaults on peacefully protesting students and faculty at Auckland University.

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Our Occu-Mama & Occupy Media member Lyn repping Socialist Aotearoa. She is an inspirational wahine toa who is one of the 8 arbitrarily-selected members of Occupy Auckland to be personally persecuted and mercilessly prosecuted (at ridiculous ratepayer expense) by Auckland Council. (Who we prefer to refer to as Auckland Corporatouncil!)

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^^^ Take a good look at the above photo. It was one of the most telling & hilarious parts of the event. We slipped in behind the Socialist Aotearoa banner with Lyn (despite the fact I’m actually not a socialist, S.A. have done a lot to support Occupy in NZ) and was immediately descended upon by the above reporter & cameraman for TV1 News. “Can we interview you?” They asked. “Sure” we said. “But we’re just going to grab a quick pic of you first.” Camera already out, within a microsecond the shot was taken. The reporter surprised & amused – the cameraman not even slightly amused. They asked us a few questions and we answered eloquently and fluidly enough that the reporter was surprised and exclaimed, “thanks, that was great!” while the cameraman scowled bitterly at us. They disappeared off for a quick huddle and then reappeared. The dinosaur cameraman demanded that we re-shoot the piece due to having had sunglasses on (it was 1pm). We politely refused and got told that the footage “wouldn’t be used then”. Why is this significant? Wait and see what happens with these two further down this post.

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People begin to move onto the street as the march begins to fill up.

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It soon becomes apparent that there are vastly more people in the middle of the street than there are on the pavement.

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A lone motorbike cop in front of the march assembly.

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People turn to face a small stage where speakers address the crowd and the street theatre commences.

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School children hold up signs representing different types of employees and students effected by austerity measures and education cuts, then a man with a huge pair of fake scissors jumps out and literally cuts their signs in half. Pre-planned, they all laugh.

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Naomi – performed a passionate piece of spoken word poetry, beautifully.

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Jai Bentley-Payne spoke on behalf of the students, warning us “Austerity is a SCAM!!!”. We quoted him on livetweet on #BTB and #Showandtell hashtags as well as the Canadian student movement hashtags #ggi #casseroles #manifecours and within minutes, his quote was retweeted around the world by students in solidarity globally.

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And finally – we were off. The march up from the bottom of Queen Street begins.

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There was all different kinds of New Zealanders marching; of every colour, shape and background.

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“They Take Our Education – We Take The Streets!”

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The giant red solidarity square was out again – which the kids loved playing under.

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John Key….. is a duck? LOL.

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One of the greatest things about today was the brand spanking new student-provided legal observers. This is something sorely lacking at previous protests mainly due to the lack of NLG-type organisation in New Zealand to support democratic peaceful protesters. Looks like thanks to the students, this is changing. Kia ora students!

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This iconic Auckland intersection (Victoria & Queen) once again occupied by the public – for the second time in eight days.

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5000 post-grad students are estimated to be unable to continue study due to changes made by the ruling National Party and the austerity measures they are imposing upon education (and other public sectors).

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The “Fuck The Rich” guy was back and very pleased when we told him our photo of his sign at last Saturday’s Aotearoa Is Not For Sale march was picked up by a Spanish-language online newspaper with 94,000 likes on their page. Pretty impressive.

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I guess this is what they call civil disobedience! Though really, its exercise. The exercising of our democratic rights!

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The mood quickly turns from jubilant to appropriately solemn as students bear the coffin all the way up Victoria Street from Queen Street as a funeral march plays.

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Protesters observe a minute of silence but their signs speak on regardless.

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We finally make it to Sky City Conference Centre….. and arrive at a shocking sight. Police officers wall the inside of the entrance two deep. People stand around with literally mouths hanging open at the wanton display of force. Yet still it is only a fraction of what will later greet us outside the casino itself.

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Despite the police presence, protesters put signs and stickers up on the glass and the coffin is carried up to the entrance.

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com Occupy Savvy 21 July 2012 Auckland  National Party Conference 2012 Skycity

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com Occupy Savvy 21 July 2012 Auckland  National Party Conference 2012 Skycity

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The crowd begin to chant enthusiastically. Most of the chants are recorded on the livetweet which can be found on Twitter

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At first we thought they might be there to enforce the No Smoking policy…

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Until we saw these guys.

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As we clearly were not going to be able to enter the convention centre, off we went around the block, the long way to Sky City Casino. Completely unawares of what awaited us.

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As we hit Federal Street, we realised the bottom over-street Skywalk was filled with Casino executives and the top Skywalk was filled with cops. Being towards the back, it took a few minutes to realise what was blocking the march at the front line…

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It was awesome to see random members of the public out walking their dogs join the march… wonder what he thought of what was in front of him…

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Tried to get closer to the front to find out why no one was able to move any further…

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Passing ASB bank on Federal Street the cops were shoulder to shoulder but we still had no idea what lay ahead of the march…

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As we reached this point the jackets in front of the march gave us some indication of what was ahead..

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The police were walling off the road in Federal Street which explained why the march had ceased moving – however – we were not at all prepared for the sight of what was behind that first wall of police… take note of the far right cop in the above picture for a reference point…

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The woman pictured to the bottom right wasn’t a cop or a protester. She was actually a member of the public who found herself stuck and couldn’t get through. We politely asked the police if they could please let her through as she wasn’t with us and was genuinely being prevented from accessing public space. They initially refused outright but after we insisted they should have an officer escort her through they relented and did so. Then – to our shock – remember Mr. grumpy dinosaur mainstream media cameraman? Well he showed up to our immediate left and says to the cops “let me through for a shot.” To our utter astonishment the police immediately stand aside and allow him through the line.

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We were flabbergasted and immediately request to also be allowed through to take some shots to which we were told “that is for media only”. When we identified ourselves as media, the police supervisor told us “STAY WHERE YOU ARE” in an extremely rude and abrupt manner. We were puzzled – wondering why mainstream media could access the blocked area but not citizen journalists? Then we realise what the mainstream media camera was seeing from back there. Or more importantly – what it wasn’t.

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From where they filmed – they couldn’t see the cops above them. They couldn’t see the cops behind them. They couldn’t see the barricaded forcibly closed street nor that all of the aforementioned collectively stopped the march from proceeding, ending and dissipating as quickly as planned by organisers. It soon became clear that they were tailoring their vantagepoint.

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Apparently it wasn’t only MSM that got free access to behind police lines. There were also Sky City staff – assumedly supervisors – taking holiday snaps behind the front line. Not sure why they have more rights than the citizen journalists who were prevented from entering – would love to put in an official letter to the NZ Police to find out why corporate staff have greater access and rights when in the middle of a public street photographing a democratic protest, than our public independent media do? Ridiculous.

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Perhaps blinded by the sight of so many flourescent vests, after some spirited chanting of “Army of the rich, enemy of the poor!” at the hundreds of police present, the march turns around and heads back to the Convention Centre; where there had seemed so many cops; but now seemed few by comparison!!

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Even though by that point we were all using the sidewalk… the police preferred the road and trailed us all the way back to the convention centre…

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…helpfully again lining the streets all the way around…

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…and again blocking the entrance. Awesome.

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The protest was officially called and we were really happy to meet this cheery lady and get this great pic of her Aotearoa Is Not For Sale t-shirt. Shout out to everyone who attended and supported today. Good on you for braving the intimidation tactics and having your say.

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Leaving the site of the protest we had one last bizarre experience – we noticed a huge blacked out SUV parked across the pavement with two Sky City employees guarding it. As it is an unusual sight to see a vehicle parked on the pavement, with not a single police officer ticketing it, we stopped and took a photo. At which point the supervisor on the right hand side started to have a complete fit at us, demanding “NO PHOTOS, NO PHOTOS”. Before we could even begin to respond several members of the public interjected, with one screaming at him that he had no right to prevent the public taking photographs on public streets and essentially, who did he think he was for attempting to interfere with us. We asked him whose car it was and he snapped “it’s MY car”… because quite obviously Sky City supervisors park blacked out SUV’s across the pavement then guard them personally, with staff security guards also present? We don’t think so, buddy :)

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We spotted some pretty awesome signs throughout the day. Below is a collection of them. Thank you to everyone for being so friendly and happily having your signs photographed.

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Auckland Action Against Poverty are hosting tomorrow’s protest at the same location – click here for the Facebook event details.

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Unite Union have been a big supporter of Occupy, Aotearoa Is Not For Sale, and the student movement.

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Socialist Aotearoa, another huge supporter of Occupy and other protest movements in NZ.

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Taking the piss out of the National slogan: “Shit policies = Shit edacation. National 4 a Brighta Futur”

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Students have scrawled micro-messages to John Key all over their main “Blockade The Budget” banner.

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Some of the language is pretty colourful and spirited but the message is clear. Invest in the future of New Zealand. Not finance companies and privatisation of public assets.

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A pissed-off parent has their say.

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A serious question…

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Are you listening, “Mr” Key? No doubt your lackeys are…

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Students are often under-appreciated by our government, who like to depict them as lazy.

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This entry was posted in Occupy Auckland, Occupy Citizen Journalists, Occupy Events, Occupy Facebook, Occupy Journalism, Occupy Legal, Occupy Media, Occupy MSM Propoganda, Occupy New Zealand, Occupy Pics, Occupy Police, Occupy Social Media, Occupy Solidarity, Occupy Testimony, Occupy Twitter.

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Copyright

All images on this page are used by permission from Occupy Savvy. For permission, please contact   Occupy Savvy at content@mediasavvy.co.nz.

Acknowledgement

Reprinted with kind permission from  Occupy Savvy

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= fs =

Teachers first – now the Police?

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Heroes

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Zeroes

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Watch a few minutes of Police Ten-7  and one is left with two, over-whelming, depressing  conclusions;

  1. There are idiots in society whom evolution has over-looked when natural selection was dishing out brain power,
  2. Police are not paid enough to handle those idiots – many of whom are off their faces on cheap alcohol; drugs; alcohol and drugs; and youthful stupidity.

Policing is not a job many of us would willingly do.  As one policeman’s wife recently wrote,

Due to understaffing he is often on his own in dangerous siituations waiting for back up. I would like to see people who complain about the Police let their loved ones go and do the job. Let’s get some of the MP’s out plodding the beat dealing with gang fights, domestic abuse, child abuse and drunk, drugged and armed offenders be called names I can’t repeat all for the occassional thank you and low pay. ” – Source

Since 1890, 29 policemen have been killed in the line of duty.

Others, like Gisborne policeman Nigel Hendrikse, was viciously stabbed by a gangmember and forced to quit the policeforce because of his injuries.

Considering the daily stresses and violence faced by these gutsy men and women in our police force, it beggars belief that politicians came come up with this kind of… crap,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

Full story

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Our police… over-paid ?!?!

One can understand politicians being over-paid.

One can understand Hollywood actors and fashion models being over-paid.

But what bureacrat or politician  could possibly suggest that police are over-paid?

Note the statement from Police hierarchy,

This would generate significant savings for them from 2015 onwards with new constables employed on much lower remuneration, existing staff frozen on their 2015 remuneration until proposed new rates catch up with them, which could be for 10 years or more, and a number of existing allowances removed for new staff. “- Ibid

It appears that National has not learnt a single lesson from the recent classroom size/teacher reduction debacle and is now targetting expenditure within the police budget.

This blogger’s first reaction was one of incredulous dis-belief; that National could even consider the notion of cutting police salaries.

Right wing political parties are usually mindlessly gung-ho when it comes to resourcing police and imposing harsher penalties for law-breakers. Part of National’s election campaign last year was a predictable “tough on crime”  theme,

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How National can “stay strong on crime”  when it plans to cut Police salaries defies understanding. Do the Nats expect crims to  hand themselves in after  phoning 0800-come-arrest-me ? (Considering how 0800 numbers seem to work miracles with Housing NZ.)

It is also difficult to understand the following,

  • How did the Police hierarchy and the Minister of Police arrive at a figure of 20% “over payment” for police officers? (Please, please, please don’t say “Treasury told us”. Please.)
  • What is “performance-based pay” and how will  “performance” be measured?
  • What will be the result of a policy of reducing salaries by 20%? How many police officers will end up moving to Australia?
  • How does reducing police pay meet John Key’s pledges to raise wages in this country?

A further question; is what  voters wanted when they voted  for National last year? To reduce pay for police?

It is also outrageous that “sworn officers would also have to work five hours’ overtime instead of three before they got time off in lieu“.  (Source)

Hell, why pay Police anything at all? They get a nice, blue, snappy-looking  uniform and shiny ‘cuffs and tasers – they want money as well ?!

It appears that Police Minister, Anne Tolley, having noted Hekia Parata’s public humiliation over the class size backdown, is keeping her head down. She is refusing to comment, claiming that it is  inappropriate for the minister to comment on wage negotiations.

National has opened a can of worms on this issue and appears to have learnt nothing from the late 1990s, when it went through a similar process,

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Opposition parties, Police Association attack review – 12 June 1998

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Whilst National plans to cut back on police salaries, to pursue it’s agenda of a balancing the books by 2014-15, other areas of government spending do not seem to attract the same fiscal razor,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

Full story

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Contrasting National’s plans to cut police pay with above stories of scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money may  elicit a mixture of head-shaking resignation, revulsion, and anger from the reader. Do not be alarmed: that is a normal response.

If you believe that Police are “over-paid” and that National is justified in cutting their salaries, you are most likely a  committed National supporter and loyal follower of Dear Leader. In which case you  are a part of the problem. (And if these cuts go ahead; and  next time you are burgled you have to wait a week for a police response team to arrive on your doorstep; you deserve everything  you get. You voted for this mess.)

National’s ‘cut & slash’ mentality was tried in the late 1990s. It failed then. It will fail again. This blogger can foresee the results, because New Zealander went through this over a decade ago.

The question is; will my fellow Kiwis who voted National last year ever learn a simple fact; voting for the Tories is an own-goal.  Key and his cronies may offer us ‘lollies’ in the form of tax cuts – but concommitant with that is slashed social and other government services. Tax cuts = cut services.

It can’t be made plainer than that.

Any New Zealander who doesn’t get that should look at Greece. There is a lesson we should all take note of.

In the meantime, National’s policy of cutting salaries and services will result in some very unhappy policemen and women. This blogger hopes that the Minister, Anne Tolley (not noted for her political astuteness) will understand the sh*t-storm about to hit her portfolio and close it down quickly by abandoning any notion of cuts to the Police.

Hekia Parata should have a chat with her.

Postscript

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Subject:   A blogger’s ‘take’ on threatened cuts to Police pay…
Date: Saturday, 9 June, 2012 7:35 PM
From:  “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To: “Anne Tolley” <anne.tolley@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc:”Chris Hipkins” <chris.hipkins@parliament.govt.nz>, “Chris Laidlaw RNZ” <sunday@radionz.co.nz>, “Daily News” <editor@dailynews.co.nz>, “Daily Post” <editor@dailypost.co.nz>, “Dominion Post” <editor@dompost.co.nz>, “Hutt News” <editor@huttnews.co.nz>, “Jim Mora” <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>, “John Key” <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>, “Kim Hill” <saturday@radionz.co.nz>, “Listener” <editor@listener.co.nz>, “Metiria Turei” <metiria.turei@parliament.govt.nz>, “Morning Report” <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>, “Nine To Noon RNZ” <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>, “NZ Herald” <editor@herald.co.nz>, “Otago Daily Times” <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>, “Q+A” <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>, “Southland Times” <editor@stl.co.nz>, “The Press” <letters@press.co.nz>, “The Wellingtonian” <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>, “TVNZ News” <news@tvnz.co.nz>, “Waikato Times” <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>, “Wairarapa Times-Age” <editor@age.co.nz>

Dear Ms Tolley,

For your perusal;

Teachers first – now the Police?

https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/teachers-first-now-the-police/

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Subject:  Thank you for your email
Date: Saturday, 9 June, 2012 7:35 PM
From: “Hon. Anne Tolley (MIN)” <Anne.Tolley@parliament.govt.nz>
To: “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>

 On behalf of Hon Anne Tolley, thank you for your email which has been received by this office.  Your correspondence has been noted and will be recorded. 

 Your email will be forwarded to the Minister for consideration, and a response will be sent as soon as possible.  However, if your email is bringing some information to the attention of the Minister, please regard this as a final response to your email.

 Kind regards

The Office of Hon Anne Tolley

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Related blogposts

History Lesson – Rua – Police

Other blogs

Minister’s rose-tinted glasses are two generations out of date

Media reports

Police say officers overpaid

Police union rejects bid for performance-based pay

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Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice? (Part Wha)

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Continued from: Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice? (Part Toru)

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Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A on 27 May, to front on the issue of the Urewera raids five years ago. There was a rather remarkable exchange between Mr Marshall and the interview, Shane Taurima,

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PETER MARSHALL – Police Commissioner
Well, I think it’s fair to say that there was no particular target or set of targets identified, but it was against a backdrop of a firearm, for instance, being dismantled and being set down to Wellington; against a backdrop of discussions about a sniper rifle and a silencer; discussions about destroying property and explosives; and, of course, there were the threats in relation to people – to actually kill people. It was against that chemistry built up over a number of weeks that there was growing alarm, and in fact the High Court judge who was signing the renewal warrants was making it quite clear that the police should be actually taking action as a result of the submissions – May, June – that process-

SHANE 
So you were confident at the time that they did actually have a target?

PETER 
Well, we were certainly very alarmed at the increasing number of discussions, the nature of those discussions. As I said, they dismantled a firearm, took it through to Wellington-

SHANE 
Did you know, though, at the time, Commissioner, what their target was?

PETER 
No, as I’ve said, we didn’t know their particular target. It’s a matter of balance. Do we actually wait until something happens, the unthinkable happens? And then, of course, you can imagine the commentary then. Or do we, at an appropriate time, take action because we need to take action-

SHANE 
So what did you expect them to do?

PETER 
Well, they were talking about causing damage, by way of explosives, to buildings. They were talking about killing people. They weren’t specific in relation to it. They actually talked about creating a lot of mayhem around the country. They talked about a revolutionary arm, if you like. We don’t know the specifics. But what we were convinced about, it wasn’t just idle talk. There was a lot of commentary that gave us as investigators and indeed, as I mentioned, the High Court judge also expressed alarm. We were, in a very considered way, very worried about what they might as a group or individually- They were getting themselves all psyched up, and we decided to take the action that you are well aware of.

SHANE 
Commissioner, if it was that serious, why, then, did you allow the leader of the opposition at the time, our current Prime Minister John Key, to visit the area two months before the raids took place?

PETER 
There was no suggestion that he was in any shape or form a target. He wasn’t the prime minister of the day. It was a very considered approach in terms of whether he should go there. He was invited there by senior iwi. We did a risk assessment in relation to that particular location. At that time there was no threat assessment against him-

SHANE 
But we understand that there were reports at the time of him being a target.

PETER 
Not that I’m specifically aware of. But be assured that we would not have let him as leader of the opposition go into that area if we, at that particular stage, thought he was at risk. So we covered that off.

SHANE 
But you didn’t know the target, though, Commissioner.

PETER 
No, that’s true, but we were very convinced that the security arrangements around him at that time were sufficient, and in relation to our threat assessment, there was no risk to him.

SHANE 
The other fact, too, that we’re told is that Mr Key had no cops. He had no police escort in the area.

PETER 
Well, I’m not telling the audience what he did and didn’t have, but suffice to say that there was appropriate security for him backed up by a threat assessment in relation to that one visit on that one day in that very specific area. We wouldn’t have taken any risks in that regard.

SHANE 
We’re also told that one of the targets was the president of the United States at the time, George W Bush, and that they were thinking of ways to assassinate him, if you like, was to catapult a bus on to him.

PETER
I’m not aware of that particular approach, but I’m certainly aware that President Bush’s name was mentioned in conversations. I don’t know what context. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there were a number of remarks made about the use of explosives, about attacking institutions, and indeed killing people.

Full Transcript

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What the heck?!

So, let me see if I understand Commissioner Marshall;

  1. It’s fair to say that there was no particular target or set of targets identified.
  2. They were talking about killing people. They weren’t specific in relation to it.
  3. But what we were convinced about, it wasn’t just idle talk.
  4. John Key, visited  the area two months before the raids took place.
  5. Police did a risk assessment in relation to that particular location.
  6. There were alleged reports at the time of John Key being a target.
  7. Police were not specifically aware of  of  Key being a target,  “that’s true  “, but Police were very convinced that the security arrangements around him at that time were sufficient, and in relation to our threat assessment, there was no risk to him.

So to distill Mr Marshall’s comments down to the very basic essence; Police claim to have overheard talk of killing unspecified, targets, and despite believing it was not just “idle talk” – permitted John Key – the then-Leader of the Opposition – to venture into the area just two months before the raids took place???

And considering that Mr Marshall confirmed that the investigation took 18 months leading up to the raids – that means that the suspects were under surveillance for around 16 months.

In that period of time, they must have collected considerable quantities of information leading up to the raids and arrests on 15 October 2007 – and they still allowed the leader of the National Party – a centre-right political group that would have been an ideal target for so-called violent revolutionaries – to venture into an area of significant police operations?!

Police claim they  picked up talk of killings and destruction taking place at “terrorist training grounds” – and they allowed  John Key to visit the place?

On top of that is the suggestion that Key was allowed into the area without significant, or any,  police protection.

Does this sound remotely sensible or credible to anyone?

Furthermore, when Shane Taurima asked Mr Marshall, ” Do you think that Tame Iti is capable of killing a person? ” – the Police Commissioner replied, ” I have no idea “.

Really? He had “no idea”?  So who did all the talking about killing people?

Mr Marshall certainly couldn’t answer whether Tame Iti or Urs Signer, a pacifist, could kill any one – despite Police  closely monitoring, listening, surveilling, and watching all the suspects for a solid year and a half.

Mr Marshall’s credibility took a final ‘hit’ when Shane Taurima asked,

So would you, for example, take the same approach in other areas like Remuera or Parnell?

Mr Marshall replied,

Very much so. “

Bollocks. Total bollocks.

Ruatoki was closed down by police, and roads were blocked,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Entire families, including women and children, were forced at gunpoint from their homes and confined in garages for most of the day (over nine hours by many accounts), as the raids were undertaken. The entire village was in lock down.

Whilst properties were raided in Wellington, Auckland, and elsewhere, there was no lock-down of entire suburbs, and nor were entire streets blocked off. Middle Class Pakeha sensibilities were… treated with respect and consideration.

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Frankly Speaking Blog Frank Macskasy

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The same could not be said of a small village in the Ureweras, where the full power of the State was being unleashed.

No, Mr Marshall, you did not take the same approach in other areas like Remuera or Parnell.

Having watched the Q+A interview with Police Commissioner Marshall; having listened vary carefully to what he said; noting his tone, facial features, and body language; and trying to make sense out of his contradictory statements, I am left with the following impressions;

  1. There is more to this issue than Mr Marshal has told us. It makes no sense that John Key was permitted into an area where a 16 month-long (at that point) operation investigating potential “terrorist-activity” was being conducted.
  2. A full Royal Commission of Inquiry should be undertaken – preferably with Commission members appointed from other Commonwealth nations (UK,  Nigeria, Australia, India, Canada, etc).
  3. The Terrorism Suppression Act must be repealed immediatly. This law is a vile obscenity that has no place in a civilised society.

If history teachers us anything, it is that injustice like this cannot be left to fester.

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Contact

Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

Mainstream Media

Ureweras case ‘destroyed relationships’

Former solicitor-general ‘changed raids advice’

‘Urewera Four’ pair jailed

Protest against jailing of Urewera pair

Tame Iti to appeal jail sentence

‘Urewera four’ members join Budget protests

TVNZ Q+A: Transcript interview with Peter Marshall

Blogs

Aotearoa Independent Media Centre: Free Taame and Rangi – protests today and tomorrow across the country

Beyond Resistance:  Free the Urewera 4: CHCH solidarity picket this Saturday

Capitalism Bad Tree Pretty:  What can they do to you? Whatever they want

Kiwipolitico:  The Crown Gets Its Pound of Flesh

Workers Party:  Urewera four – fight the imprisonments of Iti and Kemara

Tumeke:   Urewera 4 sentencing underway [Updates] BREAKING: 2.5 Years prison :(

Tumeke:   Will Police Commissioner Peter Marshall still be so self-righteous after IPCA report into Urewera farce?

Mars 2 earth:  lighting a fuse

Redline:  Free the Urewera Four

Tangatawhenua.com:  Letter to the Editor – Hypocrisy at best?

Tangatawhenua.com:  May 24, 2012 Where is the Justice in all this?

Tangatawhenua.com:  Waiariki MP gutted at Urewera sentences

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Welcome to George Orwell’s New Zealand, circa 1984

18 April 2012 1 comment

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Winston dialled ‘back numbers’ on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of The Times, which slid out of the pneumatic tube after only a few minutes’ delay. The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. Or again, The Times of the nineteenth of December had published the official forecasts of the output of various classes of consumption goods in the fourth quarter of 1983, which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. Today’s issue contained a statement of the actual output, from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly wrong. Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

P1, Ch4, “1984”, by George Orwell

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Published around 1948, George Orwell’s vision of a nightmare  future included a vast “Ministry of Truth” where history, newspapers, and other information was re-written to suit  the needs of the ruling  Party. Anything remotely  embarressing to The Party was excised; re-written; and re-issued.

It made the State appear all-powerful; the Party infallible.

Here in New Zealand, the ruling National Party is not above borrowing from that Orwellian future – or is it now the present?

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Source

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No doubt when the next Police stats on crime are issued, we will see a remarkable drop in violence and/or domestic crimes in this country?

Which National will then trumpet as proof that their so-called “tough on  crime” policies are working and – Lo and Behold! – stats show a drop in violence!

Hasn’t Dear Leader done well! Doubleplusgood, as they said in Orwell’s “1984”.

Orwell even described the process of re-writing history,

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As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of The Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames…

Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.

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Acting police minister Chester Borrows says that the new “accounting system” is geared  to bring New Zealand into line with how family violence was being reported in other countries, such as Australia,

What commentators are failing to account for is that there is no single crime called ‘domestic violence’, and that the police now include in the category of domestic violence a much wider range of crimes than the previous narrow focus on physical assaults. These changes follow international best practice – they are not hiding the figures, they are about improving Police response to domestic violence.”

Source

Of course, Minister.  No one is “forging” figures here, right?

What is happening is simply that  “… it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy. ”

Big Brother would be happy.

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Police: behind the 8-ball…

25 March 2012 8 comments

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The point has been made that when Ninja Police mounted their raids in October 2007, they raided multiple homes in Ruatoki; locked down the entire village; set up road blocks; masked, armed police everywhere; and searched vehicles, buses, etc. Whole families were detained for over NINE hours in a garage.

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Contrast that to the raid in Aro Valley, Wellington, where police raided a single house as part of “Operation 8”. Only the one house was raided. Aro Valley was not locked down. Other houses nearby were not raided. Aro Street was not sealed off with armed police dressed in “Mad Max” style battle fatigues..

[Note: there are no images available of the police-terror raids in Aro Valley, via Google. This blogger has used several search parameters.]

Could it be that the stark difference was because Ruatoki was a Maori village – and Aro Valley was predominantly white, middle class, gentiles?

Yeah, what do you think? Racist much?

“Operation 8” may be a relevant name for this over-reacted; testosterone-fueled terror raids by the Police. They were certainly behind the eight-ball on this fiasco.

It’s time that the horrendous, quasi-fascist “Terrorism Suppression Act” was repealed from our law books and consigned to the rubbish bin of history. It has no place in a civilised society. Politicians might think twice before enacting such dangerous laws.

And an apology to Tuhoe might not be a bad idea either. God knows they deserve it.

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Additional

NZ Herald: A nation divided – Inside the Urewera Four trial

Paul Holmes: Action against Tuhoe typical of NZ governments

Paul Little:  All those guns and only wound is to police pride

Chris Trotter: Failing The Crown

Brian Edwards: The Urewera Six – the new face of terrorism

Tumeke:  True cost of Urewera case closer to $14 million

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History Lesson – Rua – Police

7 March 2012 3 comments

And now for another lesson in recent history; cut-backs in police funding, staffing, and other resourcing,

Government: National (in brief coalition with NZ First)

Elected: 12 October 1996

Prime Minister: Jim Bolger

Finance Minister/Treasurer: Bill English

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

Otago Daily Times - 12 February 1997

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Community policing centres around the country are facing staff cuts like those being considered if the Naenae police station in the Hutt Valley, the Police Association says…

… Mr O’Connor said police administrators committed themselves to cut staff by 540 in four years to pay for the new computer system.”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

Otago Daily Times - 4 March 1997

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A slow police response to a 111 emergency call was indicative of problems  faced by police because of under-funding and staff shortages, Labour police spokesman George Hawkins said yestrerday…

… ‘This sort of situation happens because  the police are stretched to breaking point.’ The MP said the police budget dropped $6 million in real terms this financial year.

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

Otago Daily Times - 7 March 1997

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Police Commissioner Peter Doone last night admitted morale within the police force had tumbled over the past 18 months  but scotched suggestions  staff were ready to strike. Labour police spokesman George Hawkins said on Wednesday strike action was being considered by police officers  after the leaking of a Treasury report recommending the police budget be cut  by $47 million by the year 2000.

Mr Doone… conceded, however, that front-line police  had been under pressure for at least 18 months and, with the release of the Treasury report on top of budget restraints, they had taken ‘quite a severe battering’.

The report, which is yet to go to  cabinet, proposed cutting police pay  and budgets, reviewing police superannuation, selling police property and closing the police training college. Mr Doone said Police National Headquarters  was taking staff concerns about the Treasury report seriously  and was already ‘well advanced’ on an emphatic response to its recommendations.

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

Otago Daily Times - 16 October 1997

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Association president Greg O’Connor told about 100 delegates at the association’s 62nd annual conference in Wellington yesterday the increase in crime  and the decrease in police numbers in recent years had demoralised the force…

… Police numbers since 1994 had gone down 3.9%, while reported crime  had increased by 7%, he said.

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

Otago Daily Times - 12 March 1998

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The Otago police budget has been cut by almost 20% in the past three years, but district manager Superintendent John Reilly is adamant front line policing has not been compromised…

Mr Hawklins said…

‘The excellent work of Otago’s police on reducing the crime rate is being jeopardised by funding cut-backs – their reward for success is a kick in the teeth’…

Supt Reilly yesterday conceded there were restraints  on police spending in Otago, ‘but none had been placed on operational policing’…

Supt Reilly was determined the cuts would not affect the level of policing which ‘the public are entitled to’…

Supt Reilly had also not ruled out leasing some of the $22.5 Dunedin police station to outside interests as a revenue gatherer.

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

NZPA - 12 June 1998

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The police review out yesterday recommends 445 ‘back line’ job losses and the contracting out  of police work such as search and rescue, scene guards, and speed camera operations – at a saving of $50.5 million. Police Minister Jack Elder said there could be a ‘significant’ boost in front-line staff beyond the extra 500 promised by the government, as a result of the savings…

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said the report confirmed fears that the sole aim of the review was to cut jobs. Front-line police would be burdoned by extra paperwork, he said…

ACT’s Patricia Schnauer said the review was badly handled, hastily wrotten, and a ‘public confidence loser’…

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Elder emphasised that only 1.7% of sworn staff would lose jobs and said they could move to the front-line or normal attrition would take place...”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

NZPA - 29 September 1998

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Police Minister Clem Simich said yesterday no wholesale cuts would be made to front-line police numbers under the police review. But some districts have found out they may front-line staff under a proposed new method of allocating staff. Mr Simich said it was ‘pure coincidence’ the police review  was taking place at the same time as a staff allocation process, which could see officer numbers slashed in some districts…

The proposed new allocation process, based on population numbers, could see sworn police numbers cut from the Wellington, Central, Southern and Bay of Plenty districts and Police National Headquarters...”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

Otago Daily Times - 24 April 1999

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More than a third of the Southern police district’s 100 civilian staff could lose their jobs  as part of police restructuring, district  manager Superintendent John Reilly said today…

A working party had been appointed to look at the recommendation and determine if such losses were sustainable...”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

The Press - 30 April 1999

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The controversial police review continues to cause concern. The number of non-sworn police staff has fallen by almost 200 in the last year. And three senior Christchurch officers are leaving the force because of job stress caused by the review’s effects.

The fall in non-sworn staff is especially alarming. The numbers were revealed by the Minister of Police, Clem Simich, in a written answer to his parliamentary nemesis, Labour’s police spokesman George Hawkins. Mr Simich says that since April last year, 312 non-sworn staff have left. Although 123  have been reappointed, most were temporary. Mr Hawkins says the decrease means front-line police are answering telephones and doing paperwork rather than catching criminals…

Clearly, the police review has not worked out well. It has diverted senior officers from their primary tasks as they have been forced to reapply for their jobs.”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts -   reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low   morale

NZPA - 15 May 1999

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Predictions of cuts in police numbers are irresponsible and scaremongering, and do nothing to ease the uncertainty staff feel as the police review goes ahead, says Police Minister Clem Simich…

Mr Simich said it was widely expected that many non-sworn staff positions would go. ‘That’s what the review called for. But those numbers aren’t big. They are not as big as a lot of people make out’…

He agreed that criminal intelligence, crime analysis and many other jobs  done by non-sworn staff  in Palmerston North constituted essential support for officers on the street.”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

Otago Daily Times/NZPA - 16 June 1999

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

Otago Daily Times/NZPA - 16 June 1999

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Non-sworn police staff have been thrown a lifeline with the government yesterday calling a halt to reductions in the number of police civilian staff. Police Minister Clem Simich also announced the government would be providing extra funding for an additional 90 non-sworn staff throughout the country. ‘The Government and the police have said right from the start we would not tolerate police officers answering phones and doing clerical work instead of being out on the street,’ he said…

A review of the force, announced last October aimed to cut non-sworn staff by 285, and because of changes that have taken place since then, 195 positions have gone. Mr Simich said the extra 90 non-sworn staff would cost about $6 million in the first year…

Association presidentr Greg O’Connor saiid the voice of the police had been heard ‘and we’ve managed to maintain the bottom line’… 

Mr Doone said police operational capacity was not just being maintained – it was being improved. ‘The initial estimates were too tight.  they were just that – initial estimates’ he said.

Labour’s police spokesman George Hawkins said the Government had buckled under pressure from the Opposition and public opinion. ‘But it has failed to go far enough – 195  staff have already gone and the Government’s pathetic claim that cancelling further cuts amounts to providing an “additional” 90 staff is a desperate attempt to put a positive gloss  on an exercise that has been an unmitigated public relations and public safety disaster,’ he said.”

Dunedin’s CIB is being stripped of experienced detectives, with seven having left the police or applied  to transfer to other sections since February. There are also suggestions thers are poised to leave…

While officers were not prepared to speak on the record, there is growing concern at the loss of experienced detectives. Dissatisfaction with the police review and the way the CIB would operate under the new structure are believed to be factors in some of the departures.”

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Government: Labour (in coalition with The Alliance)

Elected: 27 November 1999

Prime Minister: Helen Clark

Finance Minister: Michael Cullen

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

The Dominion - 26 March 2001

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A shortage of 200 frontline police officers means there will be no one to drive 404 new police vehicles, National’s police spokesman, Tony Ryall, says… [now in Opposition]

Mr Ryall said Mr Hawkins was in denial over police morale, as latest figures showed there were 200 frontline vacancies…

Assistant police commissioner Jon White said… ‘Police are planning to increase the number of recruit wings over the next year and plan to run a focused campaign to encourage people to join. The recruiting campaign will help increase that flow’.”

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Government: National (in coalition with ACT, Peter Dunne, and Maori Party)

Elected: 26 November 2012

Prime Minister: John Key

Finance Minister: Bill English

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

Radio New Zealand - 6 March 2012

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The Government has told police they must keep within their $1.4 billion budget and says all government departments are having to manage without extra money.  Commissioner Peter Marshall is ruling out cuts to frontline policing, but warns other services may be affected and this could include some stations being closed….

…Peter Marshall says some non-sworn positions are already being done away with in a merging of human resources and finance from the 12 police districts down to just three hubs.”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

Newswire - 6 March 2012

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Police Minister Anne Tolley has avoided responding directly to reports police numbers will be slashed and stations shut to save $360 million over three years.

Police officers and non-sworn staff could lose their jobs, with union negotiations over pay increasing the financial pressures on the police, a source told the New Zealand Herald…

… The reports follow the deferral of an intake of police recruits late last year – a move Prime Minister John Key attributed to a low attrition rate.”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

NZ Herald - 6 March 2012

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The Police Commissioner has confirmed some jobs will go as he makes moves to stay within budget. Peter Marshall said there are plenty of options about how that will be done and is urging his staff to not panic about losing their jobs…

…Police Minister Anne Tolley said there has been no directive to the Police Commissioner to make savings, just for police to live within their means.

“That’s the expectations we all have on our departments that they live within their budget, there isn’t extra money and so they have to manage and continue to deliver an increase in front line policing hours.”

But Labour’s police spokesman Kris Faafoi said he did not see how that can happen.

“I think if we’re looking at $360 million over three years, it is going to be a mixture of resourcing and front line staff capability and it’s going to hurt the police.”

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police - police association - national government - cutbacks - staff cuts - funding cuts - reduction in police staffing - reduction in non-sworn staff - greg o'connor - nz police - low morale

Dominion Post - 7 March 2012

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Mr Marshall declined to comment on the size of any cuts, but he revealed a series of potential targets:

Police station closures;

Non-replacement of staff who quit;

A share of any savings from Corrections and the Justice Ministry being ploughed back into police coffers;

Cancelling outside consultancy contracts;

Changes to how vehicles are bought and serviced.

Paying staff accounted for 73 per cent of the budget so had the greatest bearing on any savings, Mr Marshall said.

The force was 100 sworn officers over its allocated number and natural attrition accounted for about 350 leaving the force each year.

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Fifteen years have passed since the media reported “community policing centres around the country are facing staff cuts like those being considered if the Naenae police station in the Hutt Valley” – and now history is repeating. It is as if we are witnessing a looped video, with events, policies, and even word-for-word statements made by various National Ministers of Police; Simich, Ryall, and now Tolley…

As per history’s re-run, I suppose it will be up to the next Labour-led government in 2014 (if not earlier) to un-do these cuts and re-build the Police – indeed, rebuild the entire state sector service.

And then New Zealand voters will eventually get another rush of blood to their heads and re-elect another National government, which will again cut taxes;  borrow truckloads of money from overseas; sell more state owned enterprises; slash the state sector; cut Police staffing and resourcing…

Ad infinitum.

Will voters ever learn? I doubt it… though Gen Yers do seem to be a lot more savy than their somewhat dimmer baby-boomer parents/grandparents.

We can but hope.

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Additional

Radio NZ: Listen to Checkpoint interview with Peter Marshall

Radio NZ: Listen to Greg O’Connor on Checkpoint

Govt under fire over NZDF restructuring

NZ Herald: Cuts likely if police get their hoped-for 3% rise

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And from our “Only in New Zealand” files…

31 January 2012 3 comments

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This article from today’s “Dominion Post” deserves re-printing in full,

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Complaints as nudists hit Peka Peka

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KAY BLUNDELL

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2012

Nudists parading on Peka Peka Beach are again sparking complaints to police.

The complaints come ahead of a “skinny-dipping by moonlight” event being promoted to mark the next full moon.

Naturist group Free Beaches is inviting people throughout New Zealand to cast off their inhibitions and enjoy swimming without togs “when the great ivory ball creates a silver, rippling path across the dark blue sea” on February 8.

Sergeant Noel Bigwood, of Otaki, said police had responded to two complaints around Peka Peka during the holiday period. The first was from a father concerned about a nude man parading in front of families at the northern end of the beach.

Mr Bigwood went to look for the man but could not find him. While at the beach, he spoke to two young women, both aged about 20, asking whether they had seen a nude man walking along the beach and whether they had been offended. They told him: “Oh yes, because he was old and ugly.”

Mr Bigwood, 58, said that was a bit tragic. “The man was described as about 45 years old. You can imagine how I felt – not great.”

Nudity is allowed on Kapiti beaches as long as it is not offensive to other beachgoers.

Police also responded to a complaint about two nude men spotted near the Te Hapua Rd beach entrance, north of Peka Peka, which is a popular spot for gay men.

“As long as they keep out of the face of families and stay in reasonable seclusion, who can be offended?”

Asked about the full moon event, he said: “Skinny dipping per se is not a problem. Without revealing too much, I can highly recommend it. My only concern is water safety.”

Source

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Nice to read a bit of worldly humour from our local “Bobbies“. Too often our police are presented in a dour, negative, or critical manner in the media.  Occassionally though, we see a glimpse of their humanity and the humour which – I guess –  would be major requirement  to do the kind of work so necessary for our society’s wellbeing.

I also felt  Sergeant Bigwood’s “pain”, when the young women in the Dompost piece said,

“Oh yes, because he was old and ugly.”

I cringed as well.

Perhaps I’ll be thinking twice before hitting our local beach in the near future? Is there a beach reserved exclusively for 50+ “old and ugly” males? Where we can dive carefree into the waves – instigating mini-tsunamis in the process, that will eventually find their way to  shorelines in South America and Antarctica?

I had the pleasure of a brief chat with Sgt Bigwood. And yes, folks, I can report that his sense of humour is not mis-reported in the Dompost.  His light-hearted personality came through and even over the phone, he came across as a likeable chap.

Those on the wrong-side of the law in Otaki  must have a hard time dis-liking the Sergeant. It would be enough to make someone go straight!

Sgt Bigwood confirmed that he regularly patrols Otaki Beach, going “under cover as a flabby, paunchy middle aged” man…

I enquired where he might put his police ID number, and where he might hang his… [comment withheld for good taste].

He laughed and replied that he always patrolled the beach fully clothed, “for the benefit of everyone concerned”.

I replied that I understood, and suggested that with his sense of humour he would be welcomed as our local  “bobby”.

Sadly though, the sergeant replied that he was due for retirement in June, and would be heading of overseas to his “exotic wife’s homeland”.

Thailand? Morroco?

“No, Britain,” he replied.

However, Sgt Bigwood fully intends to return to New Zealand in a year or two after his “Big OE”, as he has too many grand children to leave behind.

We wish the sergeant all the best for the remainder of his career; his impending retirement; and a safe journey overseas. We hope he eventually returns in good health, and humour. (The latter would be a ‘given’, I’m thinking.)

The only thing is, if I ever meet up with Sgt Bigwood on Otaki Beach, would I recognise him without his uniform…?

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