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Posts Tagged ‘scandals’

Life in Level 1: Cunning Plans, Unanswered Questions

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The last 24 hours in Aotearoa’s New Zealand’s politics has provided more drama than a week’s worth of “Shortie Street” episodes combined and binge-watched.

It began approximately around 5.30  last night (7 July) with a disclosure by Clutha-Southland MP, Hamish Walker  that he had leaked a list of eighteen covid19-infected Returnees names and details to three media outlets. (None of the three media companies, to their credit, released a single piece of personal info from the list.)

As an explanation, Mr Walker said he released the names, ages, and other details of the eighteen infected Returnees to reject accusations of racism and to prove his assertion ;

“These people are possibly heading for Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown from India, Pakistan and Korea.”

However, it was stated on RNZ’s Morning Report (8 July) that the List proved no such thing (@4.33).

Mr Walker then offered another explanation;

“I did this to expose the government’s shortcomings so they would be rectified.

The information that I received was not password protected by the government. It was not stored on a secure system where authorised people needed to log on. There was no redaction to protect patient details, and no confidentiality statement on the document.

I made serious allegations against the government’s Covid-19 response and passed on this information to prove those allegations.”

So the first explanation was to save himself from being tarred as a jingoistic racist. The subsequent  explanation was framed to sound more “noble”.

Moreover, National’s former President, Michelle Boag, gave her “explanation” that;

“I very much regret my actions and did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets but I am grateful that the media involved have chosen not to publish the 18 names that were contained within it.”

Ms Boag also (partially) revealed how she had come into possession of the list;

“The information was made available to me in my position as then Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, although it was sent to my private email address.”

Many questions remain unanswered and a full picture remains unclear:

Q1: Who sent the email to Ms Boag? Why? What other personal, confidential details has this person sent to Ms Boag or others? What access does this person have?

Q2: Is this person an employee of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust?

Considering that ARHT has stated categorically that Ms Boag would not have had direct access to patient data, the only other possibility is a person or persons unknown supplied it to her.

Q3: Will QC Mike Heron question Ms Boag?

Q4: Will QC Mike Heron attempt to find the identity of who sent the email to Ms Boag?

Q5: Will QC Mike Heron question Hamish Walker?

Q6: Will QC Mike Heron question Todd Muller?

Q7: Will QC Mike Heron have full access to all electronic devices belonging to Mr Walker, Ms Boag, Todd Muller, and anyone else who becomes implicated in this leak? Will forensic investigation be allowed on their devices?

Q8: What (if any) was Matthew Hooton’s involvement? What did Matthew Hooton know and when?

Q9: Will QC Mike Heron investigate Mr Hooton’s electronic devices?

Q10: When did Todd Muller find out? He claimed it was Monday (6 July) “lunch time“. What did he do in the intervening 30 hours that followed, before Mr Walker went public?

Q11: Mr Muller says he does not know Mr Walker’s motivation to release the List. Why did Mr Muller not ask Mr Walker’s motivation when he spoke directly with Mr Walker on Monday?

Q12:  Was it really a “rogue operation” involving just two people? Who else knew about Ms Boag and Mr Walker’s use of the List?

Q13: What was the purpose of Ms Boag passing the list to Mr Walker? Why did she choose him? What discussion did the two have?

Ms Boag said to Stuff;

“It would be inappropriate for me to do that because I would be disclosing more details.”

So. There are “more details” she has not disclosed. What are those “details”?

Q14: If Ms Boag “did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets” – what did she anticipate he would do with the List?

Q15: What other personal details has Ms Boag passed on in her role as acting CEO of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust?

Q16: Why will Ms Boag and Mr Walker not front to media interviews? What do they know that remains unsaid?

Q17: What did Nikki Kaye know and when?

Q18: What prompted Mr Walker and Ms Boag to go public on 7 July? What factor(s) forced them to abandon their secrecy? Were they about to be “outed”?

There is more to this abuse of power than we have been told. The National Party damage control machine has swung into full mode and has successfully contained this outbreak of scandal.

They may be hopeless at containing viral outbreaks – but masters par excellence at managing scandals. (Perhaps because of considerable past experience.)

This is the party that thinks it is fit to govern.

ADDENDUM

According to a late evening news story on RNZ, Michelle Boag revealed the source for the List of eighteen covid19 positive Returnees. She claimed the information came from the Ministry of Health by way of emails that were regular updates sent to emergency medical services;

When she announced her involvement in the leak, Boag said she had access to the private information as the acting chief executive of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

She added the personal information was sent to her private email, but did not disclose who sent it – until now.

Boag told RNZ the Ministry of Health had sent daily emails to her private email, which included the sensitive details of the country’s Covid-19 cases.

Boag couldn’t explain why it was sent to her private email, but suspected it was because she was only temporarily in the role of chief executive.

The government has already confirmed emergency services were regularly sent the details of the country’s active cases, so they could take the proper precautions if responding to a call-out where someone with Covid-19 was present.

If this is true, then this makes her role in this scandal even worse.

The information would have been sent to her in good faith by the Ministry of Health. She was in a position of trust and privilege.

The information would have been intended to be used by emergency services in case their personnel ever had to attend an incident involving covid19-positive patients.

Sending helicopter medics blindly to a situation where covid19 was present would have endangered their lives and those around them.

For Ms Boag to wilfully mis-use this information for nefarious political purposes will destroy her career forever.

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References

RNZ:  How the Hamish Walker Covid-19 patient detail leak played out

Stuff media: National MP Hamish Walker admits passing on leaked Covid-19 patient info from former party president Michelle Boag

Scoop:  Press Statement From Michelle Boag – 7 July 2020

Mediaworks/Newshub: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust says Michelle Boag ‘never’ had access to COVID-19 data

RNZ: Todd Muller ‘hugely angry’ after Walker/Boag leak   (alt.link)

RNZ: National Party board to meet about Hamish Walker (alt.link)

Stuff: National MP Hamish Walker admits passing on leaked Covid-19 patient info from former party president Michelle Boag

RNZ: Covid-19 privacy breach info came from Health Ministry, Michelle Boag says

Twitter: Colin Jackson – 7 July 2020

Additional

RNZ:  National’s attacks not what we need right now

Previous related blogposts

Life in Lock Down: Day 2 of Level 3

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – No, Dr Bloomfield!

Life in Level 1: The Taxpayer’s Coin

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 July 2020.

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From “Nanny” State to “Natzi” State?

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

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

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

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

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

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

* Unemployment continuing to rise – now at 6.7%

* Paula Bennet admitting there were were not enough jobs

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

* Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

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

* Wages continue to lag behind Australia

* $12 billion student debt a national liability

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

* Child poverty growing, and children scavenging for food scraps

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

* Aussie firms sending business across ditch

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

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

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

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

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

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

The strategy involved;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source

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It is also worthwhile noting the following fact,

Five year trend

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

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

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

Source

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Note the relevant points:

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

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

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

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

The overall rise in welfare recipients also correlates to,

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

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

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

The answer, of course, is nothing.

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

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

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

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

Do “offer” them free contraception.

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

Do not call beneficies “dirty and diseased”.

Do make immunisation compulsory for their children.

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

That is Phase One of National’s deflection strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Full Story

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

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

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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Frank Macskasy Blog  Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking National Nanny State beneficiary bashing

Full story

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

Which is not very much.

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

I guess beneficiaries are the next best thing.

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* Note

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

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

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

Are folks picking up a common theme here?”

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Media

NZ Herald:  Stuck for ideas, Govt preys on powerless

Previous Blogposts

Why did the fat kiwi cross the road?

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

Christmas – would you like fries with that?

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

Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

No poverty and food scavenging here

And MORE beneficiary bashing!!!

Other Blogs

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

The Standard:  Teenage dreams

Waitakere News:  Pike River will be Key’s undoing

The Dim Post:  Talkback bait

The Jackal:   Myth-busting rightwing prejudices

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