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Posts Tagged ‘Skycity’

Gerry Brownlee, David Farrar, and Brett Hudson win Hypocrisy Awards

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Minister Clare Curran’s recent demotion was announced in a surprise press conference at Prime Minister Ardern’s electorate office, just before 4pm on a Friday afternoon. A government statement outlined her sin-of-omission;

In February this year Minister Curran met with Mr Derek Handley at her Beehive office in her capacity as Minister of Government Digital Services to discuss Mr Handley’s interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role. This meeting took place after the first unsuccessful recruitment round for the CTO. As with approaches from other interested parties, the Minister directed Mr Handley to register his interest with MBIE officials. Applications reopened for the CTO role in May.

The meeting was not recorded in the Minister’s diary and neither the Minister’s staff nor officials were made aware of it.

The demotion and removal from Cabinet comes on top of Ms Curran’s unrecorded “secret” meeting at Astoria Cafe with former Radio NZ executive, Carol Hirschfeld, which hit the headlines in March this year.

Ms Curran’s gaffs have sparked the usual and tedious pious pontification from the National Opposition benches. Former Christchurch Re-build Minister, and airline security hazard, Gerry Brownlee, climbed the rarified heights of Mount Moral Highground to demand Ms Curran’s sacking;

But not everyone agrees. National Party MP and shadow House leader Gerry Brownlee said it was the “most limp-wristed, wet bus ticket thing” Ms Ardern could do.

He wants her stripped of the broadcasting portfolio as well.

“It’s undergoing a huge amount of change at the moment, and you need a minister that’s pretty active and onto it to make sure that broadcasting legislation is going to be the best for the sort of information and entertainment services that New Zealanders expect.”

Relatively unknown National Party List MP, Brett Hudson, devoted an entire press release excoriating the hapless Minister*;

“The decision to allow Clare Curran to retain any of her Ministerial portfolios after being dumped from Cabinet is a sign of weakness in the Government…

It’s almost comical that Ms Curran, who until today held the Associate State Services (Open Government) portfolio has failed not once but twice to answer Written Parliamentary Questions accurately.

Her punishment is a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. She keeps her Ministerial salary and the all the perks that come with that despite demonstrating that she’s not capable of being a Minister.

It’s not good enough that it took Ms Curran five and a half months to correct her answer to a written question and to finally acknowledge she met with Derek Handley, who had expressed interest in the Chief Technology Officer role created by the Minister.”

Rightwing blogger and National Party activist, David Farrar, was equally scathing;

So covering up secret meetings is okay for a Minister outside Cabinet, just not inside Cabinet. That’s mighty low standards. A meaningful sanction would be removal from the Ministry.

The undisclosed meeting was just as improper as the Hirschfeld one, namely:

  • It was a conflict of interest as Derek Handley was an applicant for the CTO job that the Minister appoints
  • The meeting was not in the Minister’s diary
  • The meeting was kept a secret from the Minister’s own staff and officials
  • The meeting was not disclosed to a written parliamentary question

If that is not enough to be removed from the ministry, what is?

Good question, Mr Farrar: “If that is not enough to be removed from the ministry, what is?

Let’s try to answer that question. What would merit removal from office for unofficial, unrecorded meetings?

Here are three possible answers;

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But in answer to parliamentary written questions, the Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of Mediaworks to discuss the deal.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.

Was Key’s “social event” where he “ran into” Brent Impey held at Astoria Cafe by any chance?

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Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key’s diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives since July last year.

“Having said that, the Prime Minister attends numerous functions and is quite likely to have come across Sky City representatives at some stage.”

Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003”.

So the former PM’s “diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives” – but he did have dinner with the entire “Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“.

Also held at Astoria Cafe, by any chance?

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Prime Minister John Key had breakfast with Ian Fletcher just days after he selected a panel to interview candidates for the country’s top spy job.

The pair ate together at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza Hotel on June 17, 2011. Mr Key says the vacancy, as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, was not discussed.

Three days earlier, Mr Key had signed off on an interview panel for the job, which included then Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Maarten Wevers. Mr Fletcher was the only person to be interviewed for the post, after a shortlist of four other candidates was rejected.

Not held at the Astoria Cafe.

But Mr Fletcher did get the job.

As for Mr Farrar’s question – would the former Prime Minister’s unofficial and unrecorded meetings with Brent Impey, Ian Fletcher, and the entire Board of Skycity Casino quality to be “enough to be removed from the ministry”?

Herein lies a lesson for Ms Curran and other government ministers. If you’re going to have “secret” meetings, follow the National Party’s handbook. They do it much more effectively.

And they get away with it.

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*  Note

National Party pages are removed regularly from their website. Brett Hudson’s page/statement has been saved for future reference.

References

NZ Herald: Clare Curran sacked from Cabinet, PM Jacinda Ardern announces

Scoop media: Clare Curran removed from Cabinet

ODT: Carol Hirschfeld resigns over Clare Curran meeting

Mediaworks/TV3: Why wasn’t Clare Curran stripped of all her portfolios?

Fairfax media: Gerry Brownlee fined for airport security breach

National Party: Curran token demotion a sign of weakness

Kiwiblog: Disclosure State

Kiwiblog: Curran demoted after a further secret meeting

TVNZ:  Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

Fairfax Media:  Key met spy candidate for breakfast

Other Blogs

The Standard: Clare Curran demoted

Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

National Party Corporate welfare vs real welfare

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

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Disclosure: This blogger had a date with his current partner at the Astoria Cafe. It was very nice.
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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 August 2018.

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #9: The Sky’s the limit with taxpayer subsidies!

20 February 2015 3 comments

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key and skycity

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We all know the story by now; how Key admitted to discussing a convention-centre deal over  dinner with Skycity executives on 4 November 2009,

“I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003”.

The lack of transparency in the deal-making process was subsequently criticised by the Auditor-General in February 2013. Toby Manhire from The Listener listed ten quotes outlining the AG’s dissatisfaction with Key and his officials’  behaviour;

1. “We found a range of deficiencies in the advice provided and steps taken leading up to [the] decision.”

2. “Although decisions were made on the merits of the different proposals, we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even handed.”

3. “By the time it was expected that SkyCity would put a firm proposal to the Government for support, officials should have been working to understand and advise on the procedural obligations and principles that would need to govern the next steps. We found no evidence that officials were doing so at this stage.”

4. “The meetings and discussion between the Government representatives and SkyCity were materially different in quantity and kind from those between the Government and the other parties that responded.”

5. “SkyCity was treated very differently from the other parties that responded and the evaluation process effectively moved into a different phase with one party. In our view, the steps that were taken were not consistent with good practice principles of transparency and fairness.”

6. “Overall, we regard the EOI [expressions of interest] process in stage two as having been poorly planned and executed. Insufficient attention was given to planning and management of the process as a whole, so that risks were not adequately addressed and managed.”

7. “We did not see any evidence of formal discussions or decisions on the evaluation process and criteria, or mapping out of the basic options for what might happen next, or advice to Ministers on how the process would be managed and their involvement in it. We do not regard this as adequate for a project of this potential scale, complexity, and risk.”

8. “We have concluded that the preparation for the EOI process and the EOI document, fell short of good practice in a number of respects.”

9. “In our view, the result was that one potential submitter had a clearer understanding of the actual position on a critical issue – that the Government did not want to fund any capital costs – than any other potential submitters … We accept that it is unlikely that this flaw made a material difference to the outcome. However, we have spent some time discussing it because we regard it as symptomatic of the lack of attention to procedural risks, and therefore to the fairness and credibility of the process.”

10. “We are unable to comment on the value of any contribution the Government might make as part of any eventual agreement with SkyCity, because negotiations have not yet been concluded.”

Key’s response, in Parliament was an outright denial;

“Absolutely, and the reason for that, as the member will be aware, is that the Auditor-General’s report was divided into three parts. The first part of it was focused on my involvement, and I was totally and utterly cleared and vindicated in that. That was my only involvement.”

The Auditor General, Phillipa Smith, was less than impressed by Key’s attempts at mis-representing her Office’s report as a ‘vindication’;

”That fact that [the report] took 50 or 60 pages suggests that nothing was entirely clear cut. We have said that we found problems with the process that was adopted and so I think the report speaks for itself.”

Right-wing NZ Herald columnist and National sympathiser, John Armstrong, was trenchant in his condemnation of Key’s comments. On 20 February, 2013, he wrote;

Verging on banana republic kind of stuff without the bananas – that is the only conclusion to draw from the deeply disturbing report into the shonkiness surrounding the Government’s selection of SkyCity as the preferred builder and operator of a national convention centre.

The Prime Minister’s attempt to downplay Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith’s findings in advance of their release yesterday by saying he had not lost any sleep from reading draft copies may turn out to be a costly political miscalculation.

John Key may have escaped personal blame for the serious flaws in the old Ministry of Economic Development’s handling of the convention centre project but the report is far worse than he had been leading people to believe.

He is taking refuge in the report’s assurances that no evidence could be found to suggest “inappropriate considerations”, such as connections between political and business leaders, were behind the final decision for the Government to negotiate with SkyCity as the preferred bidder.

In other words, no corruption. Or at least none that could be found.

Right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton, was more scathing and pulled no punches;

The procurement process for the Auckland centre was a farce and as close to corruption as we ever see in New Zealand.

As reported by the Deputy Auditor-General, Mr Eagleson – whose best friend and Las Vegas gambling buddy is Mark Unsworth, SkyCity’s Wellington lobbyist – had been conducting private talks with SkyCity through 2009 and early 2010, including about what regulatory relief SkyCity wanted.

Mr Eagleson argued a procurement process was unnecessary and that the government should just go with SkyCity on the grounds no one else could realistically compete.

(Hat-tip: No Right Turn.)

Read Hooton’s full column. It is far more critical and insightful than any left-wing commentator (including myself) has been on this issue.

Even before the AG’s investigation and damning report, Key’s figures of extra jobs resulting from the proposed convention centre were in doubt.

On 3 April 2012, Key stated in Parliament;

“I might add, when we were out announcing that we were doing a deal with Len Brown in Auckland, he was quite a little lamb chops before the election, because Len Brown knew as well that it will create 1,000 jobs in its construction, 900 jobs ongoing, hundreds of thousands of visitor nights for a convention centre, and tourists who will be spending twice as much in New Zealand.”

By June, Key’s claims for “1,000 jobs in its construction, 900 jobs ongoing” were questioned by hospitality and travel specialist analyst, Horwath Ltd. Horwath director, Stephen Hamilton, was blunt;

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479.

“That’s not the number of employees at the convention centre. That’s the number in the whole economy. Some will be at the convention centre, some will be in the hotels and some will be additional taxi drivers.”

[…]

He also questioned the construction job figures, saying: “I’m not quite sure what the source of that 1000 was.”

The original Horwath report said 150 jobs could be created over a five-year construction period for a total of 750.

But the most well-known promise from Key was that the convention centre would not cost tax-payers a cent. In May 2013, Key justified his deal-making with SkyCity by stating;

“The construction of the new convention centre will not cost taxpayers or ratepayers a cent, with SkyCity meeting the full project costs in return for some concessions from the Government.”

Nearly two years later, inflation appears to have  turned “not a cent” into an estimated “$70m to $130m shortfall”, with SkyCity hustling National for a tax-payer bail-out.

On 10 February, Key appeared to have caved to SkyCity pressure to pay a massive taxpayer-funded subsidy to the casino operator;

“I’m keen to see the best convention centre I can for Auckland, because this is a very long-term asset, so I would hate to see some sort of eyesore constructed down town.

There are issues around the construction of it. Obviously you can spend more and get something that looks a lot better, or spend a bit less and get something that looks worse.

In a nutshell, the Government has an agreement with them [SkyCity]. It could make them meet that agreement but the escalation in prices to build the convention centre, which is bigger than was proposed and flasher than was proposed, means there is a hole.

So there are a couple of options. Option one would be to say to Sky City, ‘Build the convention centre exactly at the price that we all agreed, on the conditions of the deal that we agreed’, but it would be smaller I think than we had hoped and less attractive.

Or the second option is to see if there’s any way of filling that hole and to identify how big that hole is, and that’s the process we’re going through.”

By the following day, as a public and media furore exploded in Key’s face, and even his own Finance Minister was cool on the proposed bail-out,  he was forced to do a sudden 180-degree u-turn;

“We agreed a deal at $402 million…our strong preference is that the SkyCity convention centre is built and paid for by SkyCity.”

It seems that the public and media have become weary of Key’s continual back-tracking; broken promises; and often outright lies.

This was not the first time that Key had promised the public one thing – and then delivered something else. In October 2010, as an industrial dispute erupted between SPADA and Actor’s Equity, there were threats that Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit”  movie project would be moved off-shore (an empty threat as Jackson later revealed).

On 26 October, Key was telling the public that his government would not be paying extra incentives to Warner Bros and that there would be no “bidding war” with other countries to provide greater incentives to the U.S. movie industry;

“If we could make the deal sweeter for them that would help; that’s something we would consider… but we can’t bridge the gap that is potentially on offer from other locations around the world. We’re not prepared to do that and… I don’t think the New Zealand taxpayer would want us to do that.”

When asked about any possible taxpayer subsidies, to match other countries incentives, he added;

“It’s not in the tens of millions, put it that way. There’s a lot of noughts.”

Key was  adamant; Warner Bros would not screw another cent out of the New Zealand tax-payer. There were already generous tax breaks in place. So said Dear Leader at 11.45am, on the morning of 27 October;

“They’ve got movies to make and in the end, money talks in Hollywood. That’s just the way it works. We can’t stop other countries around the world putting up much better and more financially-lucrative deals. If it’s just simply a matter of dollars and cents, I’m just not going to write out cheques that New Zealand can’t afford.”

By 7.38pm – barely eight hours later – Key had pulled out the taxpayer chequebook,

Tax rebates will also be changed for Warner Bros, which will mean up to an extra $NZ20.4 million per movie for Warner Bros, subject to the success of the movies…

… The Government will offset $NZ13.6 million of Warner Bros’ marketing costs as part of the strategic partnership.”

As Key lamely explained,

 “It was commercial reality. We did the business.”

The subsidy that was supposedly “ not in the tens of millionsbecame a $34 million tax-payer funded gift to Warner Bros  – on top of a 15% tax-break given to the movie industry – a tax-break not available to any other industry in this country.

Key had caved to the movie moguls from Hollywood, and the tax-payer would foot the bill.

Three years later, the next corporation to hold a “gun” to Key’s head and extort millions in tax-dollars was Rio Tinto.

As State Owned powerco’s were being partially privatised, the multi-national corporation demanded their electricity-supply contract be “re-negotiated” and tax-payer “assistance” to keep the smelter at Tiwai Point  afloat during low aluminium prices – or else the facility would be closed. The threat was the loss of 800 jobs (some claimed indirect jobs up to 3,000) and economic activity that was claimed to be 10% of Southland’s GDP.

With the possible closure of the smelter – which uses 15% of the country’s electricity – the price of power would collapse, making shares in Meridian, Genesis, and Mighty River Power worth only a fraction of their float price.

Key bravely asserted  on 3 April 2013  that government and the New Zealand tax-payer would not  be “held hostage” to Rio Tinto’s threats of closure;

“It’s quite possible that that power could be used either by new ventures that come to New Zealand or, alternatively, it would allow some less productive assets to be closed down or it would allow New Zealand not to build as much generation as might be required.”

Five months later, on 8 August 2013, Key had surrendered to Rio Tinto’s demands and as well as a deal for increased  electricity subsidies, National handed over a cheque for $30 million to the corporation.

Key justified the tax-payer bail-out and increased subsidies by pointing to saving jobs;

“If Tiwai Point had closed straight away then hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs would have disappeared and the Greens would have said the Government doesn’t care about those workers and is turning their back on them so they really can’t have it both ways.”

However, the loss of thousands of jobs from the economy seems not to have taxed Key’s concerns when it came to thousands of State sector workers being made redundant;

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State-sector job cuts 'will make life tough'

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By February the following year, Rio Tinto  posted a US$3.7 billion profit, and issued a 15% increase in dividends to it’s shareholders. Part of the dividends pocketed by shareholders was no doubt made up of $30 million gifted  from the pockets of hard working New Zealand tax-payers.

Soon after the tax-payer funded bail-out of Rio Tinto, Green Party MP, Gareth Hughes made this remarkably prescient comment;

“Treasury told National right from the start ‘don’t give them any money’ – it just means every corporation will have its hand out for public money whenever they have any leverage over the Government.

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Is that how you want your government to govern? Do you want your government playing fast and loose with public money; using your cash as a bargaining chip to cut deals over the phone with multi-nationals every time it finds itself backed into a corner?”

I can answer Gareth’s question: the next corporation with it’s hand out is SkyCity.

John Key plays fast and loose  with tax-payers’ money – not to save jobs – but to present an appearance to the public that National is “saving” jobs. It is a matter of the public’s perception he is focused on.

If that involves handing out cheques to Warner Bros, Rio Tinto, and now possibly SkyCity – he will do it.

This is the party that prides itself on being a “sound, prudent, fiscal manager” of the government’s books. Except that New Zealand governments have not engaged in this kind of  tax-payer funded largesse since Supplementary Minimum Prices were paid to farmers in the 1960s and 1970s.

That, to, was initiated by the supposedly pro-free market National Party.

Which leads on to an interesting situation regarding this government; it’s lip-service to the “free market” and supposed hands-off by the State. Committed right wing National/ACT supporters should be asking themselves three very pertinent questions:

  1. Is it ok if future Labour governments intervene and gives subsidies to various businesses as National has done?
  2. Does on-going State intervention by this National government signal the end of the neo-liberal experiment?
  3. Has National’s intervention in the “marketplace” illustrated the failure of neo-liberalism?

One thing, though, should now be clear to all; Key will say one thing, and then renege and do completely the opposite if it suits him politically.

One would think that any self-respecting journo from the media (no, not you, Mike Hosking) these days would be asking Key a very simple question;

“Mr Prime Minister, you have issued statements in the past and then flip-flopped months down the track. Why should we take anything you say at face value value, when you have back-tracked so many times previously?”

Put another way;

“Mr Prime Minister, you’ve said what you intend to do. How long before you change your mind when it becomes convenient to do so? You do have ‘form’, you realise?”

Or, even more bluntly;

“Mr Prime Minister, how long will this decision last? Days? Weeks? Six months?

I’ll leave it to esteemed members of the Fourth Estate to frame their questions in a suitable manner.

Just don’t be expecting an honest answer.

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Opening of Masu at SkyCity Grand Hotel, L to R, Nigel Morrison, Julia Smith Bronagh Key and PM John Key, October 12th 2013

Opening of Masu at SkyCity Grand Hotel, L to R, SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison, Julia Smith Bronagh Key and PM John Key, October 12th 2013

Image acknowledgement: “The A List

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Postscript 1

As I wrote on 6 February;

In terms of past events; past scandals; and past instances where the PM has been caught out – it is by no means the worst.

This time, however, matters have reached a critical flash-point. The media has awoken to a smell of a government on the defensive and where Dear Leader has pushed the envelope once too often. Journalists and media commentators are no longer as tolerant;  no longer awed; and no longer willing to be mollified by a popular prime minister.

The Shipley Factor has kicked in.

At this point, nothing that National does will counter the  same style of growing clamour of criticism it’s predecessor faced in the late ’90s.

Nothing that has happened since then has caused me to resile from my earlier expressed belief that Key’s current administration is terminal.

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Postscript 2

‘Natwatch’ from The Standard wrote on 12 February;

“The focus group results are in and John Key is backing off from the Government injecting further money into the SkyCity convention centre.”

Which probably makes more sense than anything else this shabby government has done since 2008.

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References

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

Office of Auditor General: Skycity

NZ Listener: The SkyCity convention centre deal: 10 quotes from the Auditor-General report

Parliament Today: Questions and Answers – June 4 2013

Fairfax Media: Auditor-general backs Sky City report

NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Sky City report ‘deeply disturbing’

NBR: Close to corruption

Parliament: Prime Minister—Statements and Statements Made on His Behalf

NZ Herald:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

Fairfax Media: Govt at odds over SkyCity convention centre

NZ Herald: John Key warns of SkyCity ‘eyesore’ if more money is not found

NZ Herald: John Key backtracks on taxpayer cash for SkyCity convention centre

NZ Herald: Sir Peter – Actors no threat to Hobbit

Fairfax Media: Key – No Hobbit bidding war

NZ Herald: PM – I’m not going to write cheques NZ can’t afford

NZ Herald: Hobbit to stay in NZ

NBR: Key on Hobbit deal: ‘It was commercial reality. We did the business.’

NBR: Key comes through: $34m deal sees Hobbit stay in NZ

TVNZ News: Relief in Southland over Tiwai Point deal

Radio NZ: Tiwai Point closing could have some advantages – PM

Otago Daily Times: PM defends Tiwai payout

Fairfax Media: State-sector job cuts ‘will make life tough’

RadioLive: Why John Key handed $30 million of your money to Rio Tinto

Te Ara:  Government and agriculture – Subsidies and changing markets, 1946–1983

Additional

Fairfax media: SkyCity’s ‘fair deal for all’ questioned (hat-tip Mike Smith, The Standard)

Previous related blogposts

Muppets, Hobbits, and Scab ‘Unions’

And the Oscar for Union-Smashing and Manipulating Public Opinion goes to…

Peter Jackson’s “Precious”…

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

The Maori Party, the I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party, the Gambling-My-Money-Away Party, and John Key’s Party

ACC. Skycity. NZ Superannuation. What is the connection?

Skycity: National prostitutes New Zealand yet again

Witnessing the slow decay of a government past it’s Use-By date

The Mendacities of Mr Key #8: A roof over your head, and boots on the ground

Other blogs & blogposts

Imperator Fish: It’s about friends helping friends

Insight NZ: National splits in two over Sky City bailout

Liberation: NZ Politics Daily – 13 February 2015: SkyCity

Local Bodies: SkyCity’s Glorious Deal

No Right Turn: More money down the drain

No Right Turn: “Close to corruption”

Polity: Fleeced

Polity: Mo’ money

Polity: Small on “free” convention centre

Polity: I agree with DPF, Jordan Williams, and (mostly) with Matthew Hooton, too

Polity: Why all governments are bad at commercial deals

The Civilian: Disappointment as meteor misses Sky Tower

The Daily Blog: Key’s SkyCity Scam is a dirty deed done relatively expensively

The Daily Blog: Brenda McQuillan – A Problem Gamblers View of the Deal

The Dim Post: On Hooton on Sky City

The Dim Post: Win by not playing

The Standard: The SkyCity Deal

The Standard: Sky City’s playing us for suckers

The Standard: Key is in reverse gear about Sky City

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 February 2015.

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Benefit fraud? Is Chester Borrows being totally upfront with us?!

As I blogged five months ago, when National is attacked with bad publicity, it’s Party strategists retaliate;

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National under attack – defaults to Deflection 2 - chester borrows - welfare reforms - beneficiary bashing

See previous blogpost:  National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

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As I wrote in the above blogpost, when threatened with bad headlines or a scandal of some description, National’s automatic defense is to generally to default to one of three deflections;

  1. Blame previous the Labour government
  2. Release story on ‘welfare abuse’
  3. Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event

In February of this year,  the Auditor-General released a report into Key’s dealings with Skycity. The resulting  publicity became positively toxic for the Nats.

Toby Manhire, in a Listener  article dated 19 February, listed  ten quotes from the AG”s report, which were highly  damning of National. It was by no means the “vindication” that Key claimed (knowing full well that 99% of the public would never read the AG’s report).

On cue, Associate Social Development Minister, Chester Borrows, issued media releases on National’s latest “crack down” on “welfare abuse”;

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Government cracking down on benefit fraud

Source

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National is once again being hit by a slew of bad headlines;

Smith gives nod for open-cast coal mine on conservation land

NZ unprepared for a deep water oil spill,  Greens say

Consumers hard hit by hefty electricity price rises

National’s fix over GCSB draws a storm of protest

Loans door shutting on first-home buyers

High petrol prices hit struggling families

Job ad stall hints at unemployment rise

SkyCity deal doesn’t add up: Treasury

Housing plan ‘a weak compromise’

And again,  on cue, Chester Borrows has done his bit, by defaulting to Option #2,

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beneficiary bashing - chester borrows - paula bennett - social welfare - welfare abuse - bene bashing

Source: Radio NZ – Thousands stopped from getting benefits not entitled to

Checkpoint: Listen to Chester Borrows on Checkpoint

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However, Borrows is mis-leading the public in one respect. On 18 July, the Minister released a media statement where he said,

“Enhanced information sharing between Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has identified and stopped 3139 illegitimate benefits in just six months, says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows…

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… The enhanced information sharing started earlier this year, highlighting beneficiaries whose taxable income did not match what they had declared to MSD. MSD staff reviewed each case, and where the beneficiary was earning enough income that they were no longer eligible to receive a benefit, that benefit was stopped.”

Source: Beehive – Information sharing stops more welfare fraud

This is simply untrue.

WINZ announced this in May last year – over a year ago,

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IRD and MSD improve information sharing

Source: WINZ – IRD and MSD improve information sharing

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But even earlier than last year, MSD/WINZ were leeping track of their “clients”. The following two letters are from an acquaintance, who luckily keeps every piece of correspondence from government departments.

The first is from 2009,

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winz-letter-2009

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[Published with permission.]

The letter clearly states,

“We regularly compare our records with other government agencies…”

(Note; the over-lap that so concerned the MSD was a matter of two weeks, and centered more around confusion as to when the WINZ “client” was deemed to start work.)

The second letter is from 2001,

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WINZ letter 2001

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[Published with permission.]

Even in 2001 – twelve years ago – WINZ and the Immigration Dept were comparing information.

Accordingly, I have emailed Chester Borrows, seeking clarification of  his claim that information sharing is a “recent development”. I have also sought details of the alleged 3,139 cases of benefit “fraud” that Borrows has asserted;

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Chester.Borrows@parliament.govt.nz
date:     Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM
subject:     OIA Request Please

Kia Ora Mr Borrows,

I am lodging  an OIA request with your office.

According to recent media releases from your office, 3,139 cases of alleged benefit fraud has been identified, including 1,948 people who were wrongly getting the unemployment benefit and 559 illegitimately on the sickness benefit. These cases all supposedly invloved working whilst receiving a WINZ Benefit.

My questions are;

1. Over what period of time were these 3,139 cases detected?

2. When did IRD and WINZ begin sharing information?

3. Does WINZ and the Dept of Immigrqation also share information on WINZ beneficiaries who travel overseas whilst in receipt of a benefit?

4. When did that WINZ/Immigration Dept arrangement, in respect to Q3,  begin?

5. What other government ministeries, departments, SOEs, and other bodies does WINZ share information with?

6. When did those arrangements, in respect in Q5, begin?

[and in a follow-up email shortly thereafter.]

7. Of the 3139 illegitimate benefits  found, what was the time period involved with people receiving a benefit and earning income from another source?

How many were within the following periods;

– 1 week

– 2 weeks

– 3 weeks

– 4 weeks

– 2 months

– 3 months

– 6 months

– Over 6 months – under one year

– Over one year

8. How many prosecutions have been undertaken of all nine cohorts listed above?
9. How many have been convicted?

10. How many were in actual employment whilst receiving a welfare benefit, as opposed to some other source of income?

I look forward to your response within the legislated time period.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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If the rest of Minister Borrows’ claims are as dubious as his assertion that information sharing between government department “started earlier this year” – then all claims and comments from National ministers demand checking and confirmation.

Otherwise, claims of mass benefit fraud appear to be little more than a propaganda exercise designed to deceive the public and deflect criticism  from economic and social problems that National appears stymied to address.

At the very least, Borrows is taking credit for a policy – inter-departmental information sharing – that has been in place since 2001, at least. How many times can politicians take credit for policies they had little or no part in implementing?!

Wouldn’t that  be fraudulent on the part of the Minister?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 July 2013.

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Our growing housing problem…

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Muldoon and Key

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“Ministers have signalled that changes could include widening access to KiwiSaver contributions and subsidies, as well as boosting the government-guaranteed Welcome Home Loan scheme that is exempt from LVR calculations. “

Source: Fairfax Media – Few first home buyer details in PM speech

Well, so much for saving for our retirement instead of investing in property and thus fuelling an unsustainable, speculative housing bubble. The whole point of Kiwisaver was twofold,

  1. To create a local investment fund from which business could borrow, so we were not so desperately reliant on foreign capital. Our Aussie cuzzies currently have A$1.3 trillion-dollars invested in their  compulsory savings funds.
  2. To give New Zealanders – especially baby-boomers – a better standard of living upon their retirement.

In July 2008, Key promised not to interfere with Kiwisaver –  “there won’t be radical changes…there will be some modest changes to KiwiSaver”   – and like most of his promises, they are blown in the wind.

Source: NBR – Key signals ‘modest changes’ to KiwiSaver
All because Key and his cronies are unable to address the housing crisis directly;

  1. Introduce a capital gains tax (my preference is that it matches the company tax, and not GST)
  2. Restrict ownership to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents
  3. Begin a programme of home construction – including 10,000 state houses per year
  4. Pay the Unemployment Benefit as an incentive to employers to employ more apprentices
  5. Reduce/eliminate all fees for trades training course
  6. And long term: promote regional development to take pressure of Auckland and other highly urbanised areas.

But the Nats won’t do any of this. That would involve systematic State planning on a level that Key and his cronies would never countenance. It would fly in the face of their right wing ideology for minimal State involvement in housing and other economic activities.

(Unless you are Warner Bros or Skycity, in which case the Nats have an open chequebook to throw taxpayers’ money at corporate welfare.)

The only thing National is capable of is short term, self-serving policy-changes. Never mind that such changes create long term harm to our economy and social fabric.

Gutting Kiwisaver is economic sabotage – much like Muldoon did in 1975 (see:  Brian Gaynor: How Muldoon threw away NZ’s wealth).

Meanwhile, people desperate to get into their own homes are raiding their Kiwisaver accounts – effectively “stealing” from their own future;

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Hot property Home-buyers rush to cash in KiwiSaver

Source: Dominion Post – Hot property: Home-buyers rush to cash in KiwiSaver

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Never let it be said that the Nats learn from history…

*pfffft!*

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Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

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The Maori Party, the I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party, the Gambling-My-Money-Away Party, and John Key’s Party

18 July 2013 2 comments

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The Maori Party

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It needs the nuclear option

“Time for the nuclear option, cuz!”

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TV3’s Patrick Gower had this to say about the Maori Party, on 12 July,

“It needs the nuclear option.

It needs to kick National in the guts and walk away.

[…]

It’s time for Flavell to change the narrative.

He needs to start distancing the Maori Party from National. He needs to start extricating it from the cosy relationship.

He needs to position the Maori party differently – much differently. “Positioning” isn’t enough any more – he needs to make a break.

Source: TV3 – Opinion: Maori Party must kick National in guts

Yeah, right. After five years of coalition with the Tories, all that the Maori Party has to do is walk away and all is forgiven?!

Never mind the damage they’ve done in the meantime?!

Never mind National’s Key’s rejection of the Waitangi Tribunal claim on water rights, in the light of SOE sales and the privatisation of water.

Never mind the support for National’s right wing policies that have “kicked Maori and the poor and dispossessed” in the guts?

No. That is simply not good enough. A political party doesn’t simply walk away from it’s responsibilities and track record and expect all to be forgiven at the following election.

The only “gut kicking” and “walking away” will be voters from the Maori Party. As it should be.

God knows that is the only sanction that voters have against  political parties that betray their interests.

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The I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party (1)

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Pakeha Party founder discusses future

Source: TV3 – Pakeha Party founder discusses future

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As of 1pm, 14 July, the so-called “Pakeha Party” had  55,495 “likes” on it’s Facebook page. By contrast, the Conservative Party received 59,237 Party Votes in the 2011 election. That wasn’t enough to win seats in Parliament.

So a vote for any prospective Pakeha Party will be a wasted vote.

Nice one, David; marginalising the racist vote in New Zealand. You’ve done the country a service.

Medal’s in the post.

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The I’m-Not-Racist-Pakeha Party (2)

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The Pakeha Party has a website up and running. I haven’t read the whole thing, as I have more important things to do (paint is drying and needs to be studiously watched).

But this bit on their policy page caught my attention. Much of  it is badly written gibberish,  and is all over the place.  But note this bit,

In this modern age to the best of our ability we will abolish all racism and/or separatism within New Zealand setting an example for the rest of the world. We will ensure all races in New Zealand (particularly Maori) who have been a part of forming & establishing New Zealand and it’s history are well preserved, very cherished and heavily promoted wherever & whenever possible. This is a democratic society – the past is the past – no one should be handed anything for free these days based on their ethnicity. No guaranteed seats. No Maori only anything. We all have an equal opportunity in our geographic locations this day in age. To solve our issues we need to give a firm but motivational hand to the poverty stricken in the poverty stricken areas with low trade.

Maori will be “very cherished”…

Awwww, that’s nice.

Just what Maori need. Not a sound economic base upon which to create jobs and build their independence – but to be “cherished”.

Will that involve Mr Ruck and his  supporters giving them each a hug and a cuddle?!

And what does “the past is the past – no one should be handed anything for free these days based on their ethnicity” – mean?!?!

What are Maori being “ handed …  for free these days based on their ethnicity?!

Is Mr Ruck (or whoever wrote this childish garbage) referring to Treaty settlements? Is he referring to land that was illegally confiscated by the Crown or settlers in the 1800s, and even the early 1900s?

Is he referring to scholarships awarded to Maori youth, to attend University. Scholarships that are paid by IWI and not the taxpayer?

It’s hard to know. He doesn’t tell us. (I guess it can be all things to all people.)

Though if Mr Ruck  refers toThe Treaty as “the past is the past“, I wonder if he’d dare say the same thing to our American cuzzies about their Constitution, which was enacted 51 years earlier than the Treaty of Waitangi?

Or would he suggest that the Magna Carta – signed 625 years prior to the Treaty – the basis upon which our judicial and civil  freedoms are based on – is also “the past is the past“?

If  Mr Ruck and his followers maintain that the Treaty is out-dated – I look forward to them pointing to the document’s expiry date.

It’s fairly obvious that Mr Ruck and his supporters all hold one thing in common – a shocking and tragic   lack of understanding of history and only a cursory knowledge the Treaty settlements process. They hold to the erroneous belief that Maori are being handed [land and money] for free.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,  said Albert Einstein. For good reason;  55,495 do not know our own history and the acts of violence that stripped Maori of their lands and possesson – and benefitted  white colonials in the process.

One Law For All is the Pakeha Party’s slogan.

Excellent.

We can start with returning that which was stolen from Maori.

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Gambling-My-Money-Away Party (1)

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SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison has been having a bit of a whinge about community and political opposition to an agreement which which see a deal between National and the casino;

Key features of the SkyCity convention centre deal and what KordaMentha estimates they’re worth over 35 years:

* Extension of SkyCity’s casino licence, due to expire in 2021: $65m-$115m

* Additional 230 pokie machines: $95m-$115m*

* Additional 40 gaming tables: $72m-$101m

* More gaming tables that can be substituted for automated table game player stations: $77m-$109m

* Ticket-in, ticket-out and card-based cashless gaming technology on all pokie machines and automatic table games: $84m-$88m

* *Includes allowing up to 17 per cent of pokie machines and automatic table games (in restricted areas only) being able to accept banknotes of denominations greater than $20.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – PM defends 35-year SkyCity deal

Morrison’s recent “oh-woe-is-me” whining diatribe rested on his assertion that other gambling creates worse social problems than Skycity,

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison says his casino’s pokies are only to blame for a minuscule amount of gambling harm, instead placing the blame on Lotto and the TAB.

Yesterday a bill allowing SkyCity to install hundreds more pokies and gaming tables and operate until 2048, in exchange for building a $400 million convention centre, passed its first reading 61-59.

It was supposed to be a conscience vote, but MPs voted along party lines, as expected.

Gambling support groups and the Opposition say the move will create more problem gamblers, but the Government has always maintained the economic benefits outweigh any potential harm – and Mr Morrison agrees.

Appearing on Firstline this morning, Mr Morrison said SkyCity’s contribution to gambling harm has been blown “way out of context”.

“We’ve only got 1650 machines, right – there are nearly 20,000 machines in New Zealand.

“If you want to do something about problem gambling, do something about the rest of the machines, do something about Lotto, do something about the TAB – all of which have higher incidences of harm than casino pokies in SkyCity Auckland.”

The Dept of Internal Affairs pointed out, when reporting on problem gambling,

At any given time, between 0.3% and 1.8% of adults living in the community
in New Zealand are likely to score as problem gamblers on standard
questionnaires. This is between about 10,000 and 60,000 people.

Source: Dept of Internal Affairs – Problem Gambling in New Zealand – A Brief Summary

Yet, when it comes to problem gambling for outlets such as Lotto,

Around 20% of adults in New Zealand do not gamble. Most of those who do
gamble play Lotto, which is relatively low risk for problem gambling. It is
likely that fewer than 2% of those who only play Lotto will score as problem
gamblers, even if they play it every week.

Source: IBID

It’s the old “my evil is less than other evils, so that makes me ok” argument. Taking this circular logic to it’s mad conclusion, no one could do anything to address a problem, because someone else will point further down the “food-chain” as being “worse”.

As Morrison himself said,

“The Ministry of Health does a report, and it shows the incidence of harm and problem gambling as a proportion of New Zealand adults is about 0.4 percent – that compares to drinking of 18 percent. The whole perspective of this debate has just been taken way out of context.”

It is so insane that one wonders how the human race could have evolved from their lemur-like ancestors because nothing would ever be achieved.

However, I think Morrison has little to complain about. Since 1995, the gross amount gambled at casinos is estimated to have risen 13.5 times since 1995;

  • 1995:  $313m
  • 1996:  $914m
  • 1997:  $1,883m
  • 1998:  $1,914m
  • 1999:  $2,297m
  • 2000: $2,858m
  • 2001: $3,075m
  • 2002: $3,417m
  • 2003: $3,805m
  • 2004: $4,033m
  • 2005: $3,936m
  • 2006: $4,104m
  • 2007: $3,912m
  • 2008: $3,974m
  • 2009: $3,879m
  • 2010: $3,783m
  • 2011: $3,929m
  • 2012: $4,244.

Source: Dept of Internal Affairs – Casinos

Gaming machines alone rose from$632 million in  1991 to$7,921 million (nearly $8 billion!) in 2007!

Source: Dept of Internal Affairs – Gaming machine

Morrison points to the TAB and Lotto  as being “my evil is less than other evils, so that makes me ok”;

“If you want to do something about problem gambling, do something about the rest of the machines, do something about Lotto, do something about the TAB – all of which have higher incidences of harm than casino pokies in SkyCity Auckland.”

Source:  TV3 – Gambling harm blown ‘way out of context’

Yet, Internal Affairs data shows Morrison  to be less than honest on this matter,

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DIA - Reported Gambling Expenditure 2008 to 2012

Source:  Dept of Internal Affairs –  Record gambling expenditure in 2011-12

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So business is pretty damned good for an industry that is basically parasitic; non-productive; and causes considerable family disruption and social harm. In terms of destructiveness, it is right up there with alcohol abuse and hard drug addiction.

Morrison is a lucky man. He is getting a good deal from Key and his ministerial cronies.

It is no secret that National is so desperate to generate economic growth and job creation that they are willing to tolerate problem gambling mushroom as a result of more gaming machines and tables. This is a shabby government that is willing to turn a blind eye to social harm and shattered families.

Morrison says  it is not for his  company to interfere in the democratic process,

It’s going to be what it’s going to be. It’s not for us to interfere in it – we’re just a corporate citizen trying to go forward in New Zealand.”

Source: NZ Herald – PM defends 35-year SkyCity deal

Those who know the full story of secret dealings between Key and Skycity will laugh with derision at Morrison’s comments. All along this has been a corrupt, shabby arrangement between National and Skycity – made even worse as Key tries to bind future governments to this deal.

Now he’s pissed off that more and more New Zealanders are becoming concious of this shonkey deal and questioning it?

Well,  more and more people are  not liking what they’re seeing.

You can bet on it, Mr Morrison.

See also: Marae Investigates (14 July 2013)

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Gambling-My-Money-Away Party (2)

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If the National-sponsored  New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill is passed in law,  the convention centre is expected to be completed in 2017.

Contrast that to the Auckland rail loop which Key wants to start in 2020.

This is symbolic of the National government’s priorities.

There is unholy urgency to implement a law to  build a convention centre,  with attendent increased gambling,  and predicted increase in gambling harm.

But no great hurry or sense of urgency to build public transport to free up Auckland’s roads from gridlock.

Gambling: high priority.

Public transport and improved traffic flows: low priority.

This, to me, illustrates why New Zealand will always continue to lag behind Australia and other developed nations – because a segment of the population will always continue make bad choices and vote, unthinkingly, for political parties that have short-term views for our country.

It will be interesting to see what priority Aucklands voters have in 2014 (if not earlier). What will they vote for?

Improved Rail and  road usage?

Or more gambling.

For Aucklanders,  all I’ll say is,

Your city; your choice; your consequences.

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John Key’s party

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John Key, Prime Minister, and Minister of Tourism is busy working on his portfolio.

He is promoting tourism.

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PM resting in Singapore, but with a close eye Mandela's health

Source: NZ Herald – PM resting in Singapore, but with a close eye Mandela’s health

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In Singapore, where he is on holiday.

Nice one, John. Good to see you have such faith in our own tourism sector.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 July 2013.

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Is Labour snatching defeat from the jaws of Victorysaurus?

15 June 2013 5 comments

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184mupp

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Electors unimpressed with Finance Minister Bill English’s Fifth Budget as National Party 41% (down 3%) now well behind Labour/ Greens 47% (up 3%)

This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 1,057 electors from May 13-26, 2013. Of all electors surveyed 5% (unchanged) didn’t name a party.

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a big fall in support for Prime Minister John Key’s National Party to 41% (down 3% since April 29-May 12, 2013). Support for Key’s Coalition partners is slightly down overall with the Maori Party 2% (unchanged), ACT NZ 0.5% (down 1%) and United Future 0.5% (unchanged).

Support for Labour is 35% (up 3%); Greens are 12% (unchanged), New Zealand First 4.5% (down 0.5%), Mana Party 0.5% (down 0.5%), Conservative Party of NZ 2.5% (up 1%) and Others 1.5% (up 1%).

If a National Election were held now the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows an Opposition Labour/ Greens Coalition would win.

Acknowledgment: Roy Morgan

That was the poll result for Roy Morgan, at the end of May this year.  Only two weeks ago. As polls go, Roy Morgan is one of the more accurate ones.  It is also the only one known to phone respondants on both landlines and cellphones – making it more representative of the electorate at large.

So things are looking up for a new, progressive government, post-2014 (if not earlier).

But only if Labour doesn’t keep f*****g things up like this incident last week,

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Key slams Labour for SkyCity hospitality

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Key slams Labour for SkyCity hospitality

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After slamming the dodgy nature of  Key’s dealings with Skycity Casino, which will see an upward spike  in numbers of  dangerous, addictive   “pokies”, Labour had set itself on a moral high-ground. This is a community problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) and Labour was firmly on the side of communities around the country

It was a position that most New Zealanders probably felt a considerable degree of  sympathy with.

Unfortunately, in a brainfart of Jupiter-sized proportions, four senior, long-term Labour MPs then accepted hospitality from Skycity to attend a rugby match at Mt Eden – at Skycity’s corporate box.

The staggering hypocritical nature of Labour’s presence at Skycity’s corporate box cannot be under-stated. In this respect, criticism from Key; newspaper editorials; columnists, right-wing bloggers, et al, is absolutely warranted.

This was a major mis-step by expereienced MPs who should have known better.

What on Earth were they thinking?

Did they think that no one would notice?

Did they think that no one would tip-off media or right-wing bloggers?

Is there no one at the Labour Parliamentary Office who paused; pondered; and presaged that this was not a terribly flash  idea?

This has more than the a whiff of hypocrisy; this reinforces public perceptions that politicians are “all the same”. Incidents like this put people off from participating in the democratic process. After all, why should people be bothered to get out and  vote if, really, there’s bugger-all difference between government and opposition parties?!

In case any Labour MPs are reading this, I leave him/her with these three points to ponder,

  1. This election is yours to lose. And if you’re that dead-keen to lose it, feel free to keep behaving like this.
  2. Unlike National voters, centre-left voters have alternatives to choose from. Note that the Greens and Mana are options clearly printed on the Ballot paper. Capicé?
  3. In this instance, right wing blogs are fully justified in their criticism of such stupid  decisions. More power to their arms, on this issue, because by the gods, those Labour MPs thouroughly deserve a bollicking over this.

I think I speak for many other progressive bloggers when I say to Labour; lift your game, dammit!

Muppets.

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Skycity: National prostitutes New Zealand yet again

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smoking-and-gambling and prostitution

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Not only does an extension (to 2048)  of Skycity’s licence unconstitutionally bind future governments, but this deal adds to the growing problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) of gambling addiction in this country.

What on Earth is National thinking?!  Is this the best they can do to grow the economy and create jobs???

Because it certainly seems that gambling is indeed one of the country’s “growth” industries,

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Acknowledgment: Statistics New Zealand – Gaming: an economically significant industry

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It is worth comparing the above graph with the timelime on the increase of different forms of gambling in this country;

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Graph, Timeline for Introduction of Gaming Activities.

Acknowledgment: IBID

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Note the increase in gambling turnover sharply increasing from 1996, when Auckland’s Skycity casino opens.

The full National Government/Skycity deal is;

Key features of the SkyCity convention centre deal and what KordaMentha estimates they’re worth over 35 years:

* Extension of SkyCity’s casino licence, due to expire in 2021: $65m-$115m

* Additional 230 pokie machines: $95m-$115m*

* Additional 40 gaming tables: $72m-$101m

* More gaming tables that can be substituted for automated table game player stations: $77m-$109m

* Ticket-in, ticket-out and card-based cashless gaming technology on all pokie machines and automatic table games: $84m-$88m

* *Includes allowing up to 17 per cent of pokie machines and automatic table games (in restricted areas only) being able to accept banknotes of denominations greater than $20.

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – PM defends 35-year SkyCity deal

It doesn’t take much imagination to consider the boost that this deal will give to Skycity’s turnover.

Key’s claim that this will create 1,800 jobs is dubious, to put it mildly, as his June 2012 NZ Herald report revealed;

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Puzzle of Key's extra casino jobs

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – “Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs”

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Once again, Key shows that our laws are for sale, if you happen to have the cash to buy a “good deal”. (I must remember that next time I get a speeding ticket…)

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Bribing A Cop

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What is the difference between a citizen bribing a policeman to evade the law – and a corporation paying a government   to changing the law in return for building a convention centre?

And note that this is not the first time National has changed our laws in return for corporate favours;

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Warner Bros sought job law change to film The Hobbit in NZ

Acknowledgment: NBR – Warner Bros sought job law change to film The Hobbit in NZ

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A government that has a plan for economic growth and job creation would not need to stoop to advancing the profitability of what is inarguably a vice – and a particularly dangerous vice, which can destroy families and bring down companies, as addicts steal from employers (or their own business) to fund their habit.

One has to ask; what next? Deals with the Chow Brothers to expand their brothel-business? Deals with tobacco corporations to expand their operations and/or weaken our anti-smoking legislation?

What else is for sale to the highest bidder?

And is this really how New Zealanders see themselves – available for sale?

Is this the best we can do for ourselves, to become  a nation of economic prostititutes? (No offence intended to sex-workers.)

Addendum

Some years ago, my partner and I were passing through Auckland on our way to Whangarei to meet up with friends. We stopped in to see Skycity – out first opportunity to visit the tower.

As well as going up the skytower and standing on the glass foot-block, seemingly suspended hundreds of metres over empty air, we had a ‘nosy’ into the casino itself.

I was expecting the casinos of James Bond novels and movies, with patrons dressed in smart, formal evening-wear; jet-black tuxedos and outrageously expensive and outrageously sexy gowns…

What I found were, for the most part, were local Kiwis dressed so far ‘down’, as to appear they had just come from working on their gardens. It was unnaturally quiet, with figures bent over table and pokie machines. There was no “atmosphere” of excitement… more one of fixated desperation.

James Bond would have sniffed his nose with disdain and walked out.

Which is what we did.

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Related blogpost

ACC. Skycity. NZ Superannuation. What is the connection?

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?! (part rua)

Dear Leader caught telling porkies (again)?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlooks

NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

John Key has another un-named source???

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