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Posts Tagged ‘Robyn Malcolm’

“One law for all” – except MPs

3 January 2012 4 comments

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The government is going after cameraman/journalist Bradley Ambrose with a vengeance, demanding $14,000 in court costs,

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It seems that this government is as vindictive as ever, when it comes to “settling scores” with critics. Their recent history has other similar examples of coming down hard on those who would dare criticise the current regime.

This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government,  actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.

It appears that Bradley Ambrose can now be added to that growing list of harassed or vilified dissidents. If it’s any consolation for Mr Ambrose, he appears to be a member of an “exclusive club” of some very talented individuals.

It also seems that the National Party is not averse to resorting to  Muldoonist tactics – where the Prime Minister of the same name had little hesitation in attacking critics on a personal level. Many of us still recall Muldoon’s abuse of power against cartoonist and journalist, Tom Scott, in the 1970s.

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I thought those days were over, and behind us.

Evidently not.

What is even more outrageously hypocritical is that Ministers of the Crown are not above dipping into the public purse to pay for their own court costs – some of which are considerable,

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National MP, Gerry Brownlee also tried to seek reimbursement for a $48,000 legal bill – though this was knocked back. Brownlee knew he was “trying it on”, when he admitted,

In hindsight, I would have thought ‘oh well, I’ve got this big bill, I may as well see what is possible’. But quite clearly it wasn’t appropriate.” – Ibid

Nick Smith has received $122,000 taxpayer funding in his case against timber preservative company Osmose, and an undisclosed sum to reimburse his court costs  in his case against David Henderson.

One cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that there is one law for Members of Parliament – and another law for the rest of us plebs.

It was highly ironic then, considering Bradley Ambrose’s case that the Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith referred to  court action against the media, as justification for using taxpayers’ money,

Dr Smith said allowing MPs to use public money was warranted, likening it to a media company paying for a defamation case against a journalist.” – Ibid

John Key also climbed into the fray,  justifying the use of taxpayers’ money thusly,

“”It’s a question about whether ultimately those disclosures are brought into the public domain by greater levels of transparency, but that has never been the rule in the past. I don’t think it would be of concern to me if it was opened up to a greater degree. There’s nothing to hide here.” ” – Source

Well, obviously there was quite a bit to hide when it came to the “Teapot Tapes”. So much to hide, in fact, that police were called in to raid several media offices and punitive action is being meted out to Mr Ambrose. Not very “transparent” at all.

It is quite obvious that this government has little hesitation in using taxpayers money – our money – against members of the public who dare annoy a Minister.

It is also quite obvious that this same government will dip into our wallets and use our taxes when it suits them, to pay for their legal expenses.

The term for this is hypocrisy.

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Hypocrisy – thy name be National

13 November 2011 21 comments

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Most of us remember the situation of  Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers, who protested at the canning of the Training Incentive Allowance that was specifically set up to allow single-parents to upskill and enable them to find jobs for themselves.

The Training Incentive Allowance was used by a personal friend of mine, who was on the domestic purposes benefit,  to obtain qualifications as a teacher; land a job at a primary school; and earn a salary. Instead of receiving a welfare benefit, she now pays taxes.

Paula Bennett, the Minister of Social Welfare, did precisely the same and used the Training Incentive Allowance to pay her way through University. As I wrote in an earlier piece, Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy, this was Ms Bennet’s own circumstances,

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A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit

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As is their right in a democratic society which values freedom of expression, Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston both challenged Bennett on her decision to axe the TIA. They reminded Ms Bennett that the TIA was designed to get people of the DPB, and reminded Ms Bennett that she herself had used this allowance for her own betterment.

Paula Bennett did not take kindly to this criticism. On 27 July 2009, Bennett instructed her staff to release sensitive, personal details of both women’s WINZ payments.

It was a gross abuse of ministerial power.  It was an attempt to bully the two women into submission, using the reactionary, red neck abuse from certain misogynistic elements in our society. (And those elements duly obliged.)

On 11 August 2009, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff confirmed that a complaint had been laid with her office over Bennett’s releasing of the two women’s details.

The releasing of the Human Right’s document, as outlined by TV3,  has ‘upset’  the Prime Minister who feels that Paula Bennett’s “human rights” have been breached,

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John Key says,

It’s a bit odd when something’s before the Human Rights Commission and yet the Human Rights of one of the parties seems to have been breached.” Source

Pardon?!

It seems outrageous that John Key is not as concerned that one of his Ministers – sworn under oath to uphold the laws of the land – released private information to “destroy” the credibility of her critics (Natasha Fuller and  Jennifer Johnston).

Or is using peoples’ private details to discredit them, if they dare criticise the government, now acceptable practice?

This government does not take kindly to criticism. This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;

July 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspirational-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government,  actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.

Quite simply, it is apparent that one criticises this government, and especially John Key, at some risk to themselves.  New Zealanders should be appalled. This is what is known as going down the road to a Police State.

If you are reading this and are starting to feel uneasy – rest assured, that is a normal response.

It is people who think this is all ok, that worries the hell out of me.

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Unfortunate Outrage?

9 November 2011 13 comments

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It seems that practically any criticism of our Dear Leader, these days, elicits a critical response from certain quarters. Robyn Malcolm’s remarks at the opening of the Greens’ campaign have been described by the NZ Herald, as “vitriolic”,

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The NZ Herald article carries on with similar comments,

But fronting the campaign opening in Wellington, Malcolm savaged Mr Key’s performance.” – Ibid

Robyn Malcolm’s comments consisted of the following,

“”We have a leader who seems to be more interested in talking about his cats on the radio, being seen at the rugby and getting on the cover of the Woman’s Weekly. I thought that was my job…”

“We ended up voting in a Government who’ve revealed their total lack of interest in leading us into the 21st century with any innovation, courage, or social integrity, despite what a nice guy he [Mr Key] seems to be…”

“An unshakeable and abiding love of fossil fuels … and an inability to follow through on promises of any kind, but will make anything up for a Hollywood mogul should they happen to come down this way…” ” – Ibid

Ms Malcolm’s comments are critical, certainly. Hard-hitting, probably.

But “vitriolic“? And “savaging“?

These are subjective interpretations – opinion – not impartial reporting. To some people, Ms Malcolm’s remarks would be harsh. To others, they would be fair comment. The determination of how we,   the public, might feel about her statements should be left up to us to determine – not prompted by a media report.

Gordon McLauchlan, on Jim Mora’s Radio NZ afternoon panel, made precisely the same pertinent observations and criticised  the Herald’s slanted reporting of this event.

One wonders how it came to pass in this country, that an ordinary citizen can be vilified in such a manner by the press, for daring to criticise our elected representatives. This sort of thing was more common in my parents’ country-of-birth, prior to the collapse of the Soviet empire.

As an aside; I heard most of Ms Malcolm’s speech on the radio.  I was driving at the time, so wasn’t paying much attention. What I can recall is that she was certainly critical of John Key and his love-affair with photo-opportunities – but certainly did not sound anywhere near “vitiriolic”. Quite the opposite, I considered her words and tone to be quite measured and reasonable.

If anyone has been “savaged” – it is Robyn Malcolm by the unreasonable editorialising in the Herald’s article. The tone and wording of that article is truly, vitriolic.

What is just as bad, is the outrageous hypocrisy shown by Auckland City Councillor, Cameron Brewer, who joined in the hysterical condemnation of Ms Malcolm. Brewer was reported in the same newspaper (NZ Herald) as saying,

Given Robyn Malcolm is clearly so anti the Government and the Prime Minister, she is far too partisan to front this all-important public consultation and plan . Her personal politics will really colour this council and the plan itself. It is just not appropriate in local government to employ someone whose politics are so pointed to be fronting a public consultation campaign.” Source

Brewer has demanded that Ms Malcolm be replaced because of her perceived partisanship, saying,

The mayor now needs to urgently reconsider whether she is the best ambassador to launch the plan.” – Ibid

Is this the same Cameron Brewer who recently considered seeking the  candidacy for the National Party in the Tamaki electorate?

Why yes, I believe it is.

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So, let’s be quite clear about what Cameron Brewer is saying;

  • Voicing comments that are anti-government and  critical of John Key makes it  “inappropriate” for Robyn Malcolm to be connected with an Auckland City Council project because she could be seen as “partisan”,  is not acceptable.
  • Supporting the current government and intending to stand as one of their candidates, whilst being a member of the same Auckland City Council, is not partisan and  is acceptable.

My parents came from an Eastern European country that, prior to 1989, had been ruled by the local Communist Party. The power and influence of the Party reached into all areas of public life.

For example, if, as a teenager, you wanted to go to University then you had to be a member of the youth wing of the Party, the “Young Communists”. If you wanted a good job, you had to be a full member, in good standing, of the Communist Party.

I think we know where I’m coming from on this issue.

In essence, for Brewer to accept Robyn Malcolm as the representative of Auckland’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, she must be a card-carrying, Key-cuddling, member of the National Party.

Thank you, Comrade Brewer, for showing us how little you value political diversity of opinion.

Will you be following up with a One-Party state and Gulag prisons for dissidents such as Ms Malcolm?

And me next, I suppose?

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