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Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis (Part Rua)

9 March 2013 8 comments

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national blighted hoarding 12 it's all labour's fault

Acknowledgement

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Continued from: Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis

Opposition Party members of the Commerce Select Committee are demanding that  ex-CEO, Don Elder appear before the Select Committee to answer questions what went wrong at Solid Energy.

With unanswered questions about Solid Energy’s financial crisis; a murky history leading up to current events; big bonuses paid out as the company’s accounts were sinking into the red; and revelations that Don Elder is still recieving his  $1.3 million annual salary  – whilst working from home “serving out his notice” – pressure is mounting on National.

Solid Energy went from a multi-billion dollar company to being heavily indebited to $389 million.

How did this happen?

Did ministerial shareholders Bill English and Tony Ryall not notice?

Were they not receiving reports from Solid Energy’s Board of Directors?

Were no rumours or conversations floating around?

How does one keep a secret like that in a small country like New Zealand? (In which case  should Solid Energy take over our country’s security, from the GCSB and SIS?)

Why were we paying Don Elder for ($1.3 million p.a., plus bonuses no doubt) if not to be held to account?

On 8 March, Key was reported as saying,

“If he wants to go [to the Select Committee hearings] and they want him to go he is not going to get any opposition from my office.”

Source

And SOE Minister chipped in with this,

“It’s a matter for the Commerce Select Committee, Solid Energy and Dr Elder whether or not Dr Elder attends, but I don’t have a problem either way.”

IBID

Good. Because the public – who own Solid Energy – deserve answers. Thus far all we’ve had is the usual finger-pointing by National, with childishly pathetic  attempts to blame Labour for Solid Energy’s woes. As if Labour was still in government and the 2008 and 2011 general elections never happened.

This statement from Key, on 26 February 2013, simply doesn’t wash,

“They  [Labour] can’t wash their hands of the fact that from 2003 on, they were intimately involved with the plans that that company had.

The argument that somehow we would have gone in, in 2009 when the company was performing well, its results were good, the valuation of the company was going up, and just gone and sacked the board on day one is a bit fanciful.

Maybe we should have re-tested those [Labour-approved] initiatives but actually we gave [Labour] the benefit of the doubt that they might get one thing right.”

Source

“2003”?

That was ten years ago!  What has National been doing in the meantime?

As far back as September 2011, the Nats were abundantly aware that Solid Energy was embarking on expansion plans,

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Solid Energy starts work at Mataura Briquette Plant

Friday, 9 September 2011, 2:57 pm
Press Release: Solid Energy NZ

9 September 2011

Solid Energy marks the start of work at its Mataura Briquette Plant

The Hon Bill English, MP for Clutha-Southland and Minister of Finance, today marked the official start of work at Solid Energy’s Mataura Briquette Plant, by “turning the first sod” at a small event on site with neighbours, local authorities, and other guests.

The $25 million Mataura briquette plant is planned to start production by June 2012. It will produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of low-moisture and higher-energy briquettes from about 150,000 tonnes of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s New Vale Opencast Mine and trucked to the Craig Road site. The plant will use technology developed in the USA by GTL Energy.

Source

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Here’s the photographic evidence, from National’s own ‘Flickr’ account, same date, 9 September 2011 – that’s Finance Minister Bill English, “turning the first sod of earth” for Solid Energy’s  Mataura Briquette Plant  in Southland. That plant was part of their expansion plans,

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solid-energy-chief-executive-don-elder-and-hon-bill-english-at-mataura-9-sept-2011

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Only three months earlier, in June 2011, Key himself was supporting Solid Energy’s explansion plans,

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national business review - nbr - Key supports Solid Energy's lignite plans

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Note Key’s comment in the above article in the National Business Review (hardly a leftist rag),

At the moment companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion.”

So for Dear Leader to blame Labour is not only disingenuous – it is cowardly.

It shows the entire country that the man who is supposedly or Prime Minister hasn’t got the balls to take it on the chin and admit that he and his Party f****d up. Big time.

Even the editorial from the Dominion Post said, with unconcealed exasperation on 2 March 2013,

There are always excuses when a company starts to fail. John Key’s explanation for the trouble at Solid Energy, however – he blamed the Labour government – was pitiful.

It was Trevor Mallard’s fault, apparently, for encouraging SOEs to spread their wings and fly. That was in 2007 or 2008.

This won’t do, and not just because Mr Key’s Government has been in power for more than four years. His argument also contradicts itself. A Labour government was seemingly omnipotent and could have its way with the state-owned coal company. But National had no such power.

The Government certainly said no when Solid Energy asked for a billion dollars to turn itself into a super-company along the lines of Petrobras, the Brazilian giant. Mr Key says it had grave doubts about the company’s expansion plans. His political opponents point out that he and Bill English had publicly backed Solid Energy’s big plans for lignite conversion and briquetting.

Source

This blogger welcomes Don Elder fronting up to the Commerce Select Committee.  However, that is simply not sufficient. In the interests of full justice, the following should occur,

  • John Key should front up and answer questions as well,
  • Bill English should front up and answer questions,
  • Tony Ryall should front up and answer questions,
  • All documentation should be made available to the Committee,
  • The Chairperson of the Select Committee – National MP Jonathan Young, should stand aside and  be replaced by a non-partisan senior judge or Queen’s Counsel,
  • If necessary, if the Committee is unable to answer questions, a full Royal Commission in Inquiry should be held.

National prides itself on being the party of ‘personal responsibility‘. It is no such thing. It is the party of personal advantage and not much more.

Thus far all we’ve had are evasiveness  and pathetic attempts to blame others. We’re also seeing more of the same from our Prime Minister;  bullshit.

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Previous related blogposts

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis

Taking responsibility, National-style

References

NZ National Party: Solid Energy chief executive, Don Elder and Hon Bill English at Mataura (9 Sept 2011)

Scoop.co.nz: Solid Energy starts work at Mataura Briquette Plant (9 Sept 2011)

NBR: Key supports Solid Energy’s lignite plans (3 June 2011)

TV3: Govt, Labour squabble over Solid Energy (26 Feb 2013)

Dominion Post: Editorial: Solid Energy excuses fuel anger (2 March 2013)

TVNZ: Pressure grows on Don Elder to front over Solid Energy (8 March 2013)

Fairfax media: Minister, PM fine for Elder to appear for grilling (8 March 2013)

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Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis

28 February 2013 13 comments

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Continued from: That was Then, This is Now #18 (Solid Energy)

A bit of  very recent history,

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Solid Energy starts work at Mataura Briquette Plant

Friday, 9 September 2011, 2:57 pm
Press Release: Solid Energy NZ

9 September 2011

Solid Energy marks the start of work at its Mataura Briquette Plant

The Hon Bill English, MP for Clutha-Southland and Minister of Finance, today marked the official start of work at Solid Energy’s Mataura Briquette Plant, by “turning the first sod” at a small event on site with neighbours, local authorities, and other guests.

The $25 million Mataura briquette plant is planned to start production by June 2012. It will produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of low-moisture and higher-energy briquettes from about 150,000 tonnes of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s New Vale Opencast Mine and trucked to the Craig Road site. The plant will use technology developed in the USA by GTL Energy.

Source

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Eighteen months later, on 19 February, the SOE Shareholders Bill English and Tony Ryall,  made this shock announcement to the public (see:  Statement on Solid Energy).

The media were quick to report the crisis,

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Solid Energy in debt crisis talks

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National’s response?

Default to Deflection #1 (see previous blogpost: National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2 )

As described in my previous blogpost (see:  Taking responsibility, National-style), National does not do Taking Responsibility very well. Their automatic instinct is to blame someone else – anyone – for problems of their making,

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National and John Key blames...

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And true-to-form, National and Dear Leader are once again playing the Blame Game over Solid Energy’s woes,

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Prime Minister criticises Solid Energy

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Govt, Labour squabble over Solid Energy

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“They can’t wash their hands of the fact that from 2003 on, they were intimately involved with the plans that that company had,” sez Key?!

Really? 2003 ???

Why stop at 2003?

Personally, if I was John Key, I’d be asking serious questions on Labour’s role in the sinking of the Titanic. The Cuban Missile Crisis. And don’t forget the 2007/08 Global Financial Meltdown – that has Labour’s fingerprints all over it, surely???

Getting serious again…

National is supposedly Very Big on responsibility issues. Their website is constantly referring to responsibility,

The National Party is built on age-tested principles that reflect what is best about New Zealand. We are a party of enterprise; a party of personal freedom and individual responsibility; a party of family; an inclusive party; a party of ambition.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

We also need to remember the enduring principles on which the National Party is based – individual responsibility, support for families and communities, and a belief that the State can’t and shouldn’t do everything.” – John Key, 30 January 2007

It seems that their constant refusals to accept responsibility is also one of those things that “the State can’t and shouldn’t do”, according to Dear Leader.

A few questions spring to mind,

  1. How far back will Key go to blame others for his failures?
  2. How many terms in office will National have to win, before blaming Labour or Uncle Tom Cobbly is no longer tenable?
  3. If John Key and his cronies are unable to ‘man-up’ and take a hit for any one of their balls-ups, and constantly feel the need to sheet responsibility back to Labour – then why is National in government? Why not just resign and put Labour back in office? After all, what would be the difference?

We wouldn’t accept finger-pointing and blame-gaming from our children (or, at least I hope we wouldn’t). So why is the public and media letting Key get away with it?

I look forward to National’s next major cock-up.

Who will they blame next? Australia?

Meanwhile,  back to 9 September 2011…

Doesn’t Bill seem a happy chappy in this photo-op?

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Solid Energy chief executive, Don Elder and Hon Bill English at Mataura  - 9 sept 2011

Source

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Bill English, poses with ex-Solid Energy CEO, Don Elder, as the ‘first sod is turned’ at a new  Briquette Plant in Mataura, Southland.

The same plant that was “Labour’s fault”.

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Taking responsibility, National-style

5 February 2013 29 comments

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"The National Party is built on age-tested principles that reflect what is best about New Zealand. We are a party of enterprise; a party of personal freedom and individual responsibility; a party of family; an inclusive party; a party of ambition." -John Key, 27 May 2007

“The National Party is built on age-tested principles that reflect what is best about New Zealand. We are a party of enterprise; a party of personal freedom and individual responsibility; a party of family; an inclusive party; a party of ambition.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

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"We also need to remember the enduring principles on which the National Party is based – individual responsibility, support for families and communities, and a belief that the State can't and shouldn't do everything." - John Key, 30 January 2007

“We also need to remember the enduring principles on which the National Party is based – individual responsibility, support for families and communities, and a belief that the State can’t and shouldn’t
do everything.” – John Key, 30 January 2007

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So let’s see how well Dear Leader and National  Does Responsibility…

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John Key blames burglary on drug addicts

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Blame: drug addicts

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Key blames production firm for DVD music woes

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Blame: music production company.

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Worth blames media for Key 'ticking off'

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Blame: the media (always a good flogging-post for polis in trouble)

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Key blames Labour for his Govt's wage gap failings

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Blame: previous Labour government, Recession

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Key blames Hubbard for SCF collapse

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Blame: Allan Hubbard. (Hubbard had not been convicted of any offense.)

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Bill English blames Labour for bad economic management

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Blame: previous Labour government (again).

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Govt refuses responsibility for credit downgrades

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Blame: previous Labour Government (yes, again),  Europe, and the United States.

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Key blames Wall St, Minto blames Key

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Blame: Wall Street (an industry sector in which Key used to work)

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Key blames popularity dip on election campaign

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Blame: election campaign (damned inconvenient, these “election” things)

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Key blames edgy policy for poll drop

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Blame: Polls, “edgy” things, state asset sales, and “lots of challenges out there”.

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Key blames messenger in Beckham comments

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Blame: “Somebody” (or anybody, whatever)

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Pike River - Key blames company for disaster

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Blame: Pike Rive mining company (which was following de-regulated safety laws enacted by National in 1991.)

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Govt blames global economy for jobless woes

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Blame: “global economic headwinds” (but not an excuse beneficiaries may use).

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Govt blames election, rugby on DPS blowout

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Blame: Rugby World Cup, the general election, and Diplomatic Protection Squad.

And when National has run out of people, institutions, countries, and things to blame – they can always refer to  the mystical realm,

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Parata blames 'karma' after Ministry of Education staff miss pay day

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Blame: Karma.

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And of course, there are the none-too-subtle attempts to blame welfare beneficiaries for not having the jobs that existed prior to 2007/08,

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Free birth control for beneficiaries

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Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled

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Cost of beneficiaries $78b - report

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Taking responsibility, National-style – means someone else copping the blame. Or sunspots.

Are we all clear on this?

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Addendum

Clayton’s Responsibility – The Responsibility You’re Taking, when You’re Not Really Taking Responsibility,

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Kate Wilkinson resigns as Labour Minister

Full story

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Wilkinson’s resignation was almost on top of the public release of the Pike River Royal Commission of Inquiry report. She was the “sacrificial lamb”, with the deliberate  objective to short-circuit media and public debate over National’s culpability in the de-regulation of the Mining Inspectorate in 1992.

Wilkinson’s “resignation” wasn’t taking responsibility – it was a carefully-crafted exercise in damage-control.

Note that Wilkinson retained her other portfolios (at the time), along with her $250,000-plus salary plus Ministerial perks and allowances  (see:  ‘What have I done wrong?‘).

Indeed, any attempt by National to  take responsibility was watered down when Key said,

Under successive governments, since 1992, the influence and reach of the mining inspectorate was eroded.”

[…]

Mr Key says the Government accepts there were systemic failures in the regulatory regime across successive governments.” – John Key, Govt responds to Pike River Royal Commission, 5 November 2012

So there you have it. Key’s comments attempts to spread responsibility as far as possible across twenty years of successive governments. Because, as we all know, if you spread responsibility – like margerine – as wide as possible, it becomes thinner and thinner until there’s bugger-all of it left.

The Nat’s spin doctors earned their tax-payer funded salaries that day.

Taking responsibility National style reminds me of that famous phrase from the 1970  movie, “Love Story“,

Love Means Never Having to Say Youre Sorry

For Dear Leader and his cronies, the sentiment is the same,

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John Key Power Means Never Having to Say I'm Responsible

“Power Means Never Having to Say I’m Responsible.”

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Previous related blogpost

It’s official: Key’s mind is someone elses’ responsibilty

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What’s up with the Nats? (Part rua)

20 August 2012 12 comments

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Continued from: What’s up with the Nats? (Part tahi)

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If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood

Who ya gonna call?

Natbusters!

If it’s somethin’ weird an it won’t look good

Who ya gonna call?

Natbusters!

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Intro

Ever since the National Party conference at the end of July, the National Party has been strutting the political stage like a bunch of patched gang-members, strutting about the main street of some small town in the back-blocks.

Key, Bennett, Joyce, Collins, Parata, Banks – even lowly backbenchers like Maggie Barry – have been obnoxiously aggressive in policy announcements and dealing with the media and critics.

The Nats have been unrelentingly in our faces ever since John Key uttered the threat,

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Full story

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This is not just about confidence.

This is something new. This is about a new, hyped-up, aggressive style of taking criticisms and failings, and turning it back on the critic.

Steven Joyce was on-style on TV3’s “The Nation” (19 August), when he belittled and badgered two journalists (John Hartevelt and Alex Tarrant)  who asked him pointedly about National’s short-comings. Joyce’s response was typical Muldoon-style pugnacity.

This interview with Joyce is charachteristic of how National Ministers have been belligerent in their responses.  It is singularly  instructive,

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Full story

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Interestingly, Joyce has a “go” at Labour; then the Greens; and even Hone Harawira throughout the course of the interview.  He even blames the global financial crisis and throws that in the face of Alex Tarrant, as he responds to a point.

Everyone gets a dose of blame – except the one party that is currently in power. So much for National’s creed that we should all take personal responsibility for our actions.

It appears that  National’s back-room Party strategists have been analysing the first few months of this year and have realised that when things go horribly wrong, or the latest string of economic indicators reveal more bad news, the relevant Minister(s) responds  with  aggression and with defiance.

If the old say “explaining-is-losing” is a truism, then any explanation offered automatically puts a Minister on the back-foot.

The best way out of such a sticky moment; take a page out of Rob Muldoon’s book, ‘How To Win Friends/Enemies and Influence the Media‘.

And National’s Ministers have been playing this ‘new’ game perfectly…

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Paula Bennett

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Of all National ministers, Bennett’s  behaviour has become  most  irrational,  offensive,  and just downright bizarre.

Not content with “offering” sterilisation to  solo-mums (but never solo-dads)  and their daughters, her views on poverty are so breathtakingly, woefully ignorant that this blogger has come to the conclusion that her tax-payer funded tertiary education was a complete waste of time and money.

See:  Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Bennett’s latest weird comments raised eyebrows and and a few hackles,

Get in the real world.

One week they can be in poverty, then their parent can get a job or increase their income and they are no longer in poverty … This is the real world, and actually children move in and out of poverty at times on a weekly basis.”

See:  Bennett slammed over child poverty claim

Bennet then lashed out, saying she “wasn’t interested in measuring child poverty“, and instead her government was more focused on addressing the problems,

Of course there is poverty in New Zealand. This has been acknowledged by the Government but it’s not a priority to have another measure on it.”

See: scoop.co.nz – Combating poverty more important than measuring it

How can National “combat poverty” if they are not aware of the scale of it? How can a government budget appropriately, without knowing the numbers involved?

Are they just going to guess?

Which then brings us to the issue of Bennett’s instance that the unemployed be drug-tested,

There is certainly a line between recreational use and addiction and that is challenging in itself and it’s something we’ll have to work through.

“At the end of the day you’ve potentially got thousands of New Zealanders who are unable to work because of recreational use and this paper also identifies that as a real problem, so we need to keep working our way through a solution“.”

See: Bennett ignored advice from Health Ministry – Logie

Again, the question needs to be asked – how many unemployed are on drugs?

Is it 99%?

Is it 50%?

Is it 10%?

Is it 2%?

Is it 0.00001%?

We need to know this, because National may be about to throw $14 million of our tax dollars at this “problem”,

The plan to cut benefits for job seekers who fail drug tests has been met with criticism by the Ministry of Health, saying it could cost up to $14 million a year.

[abridged]

Ms Bennett told Radio New Zealand she would not reconsider sanctioning only drug users based on the Ministry of Health’s concerns and said she was going ahead with the policy.”

See: Bennett ignored advice from Health Ministry – Logie

Bennett’s response?

I just don’t feel that we need to trawl through evidence and give that much kind of evidence to something that is just so obvious.

And added, that she was acting on information from,

“…the visits, from face to face meetings, I don’t know, from some of the international research I’ve seen.”

See: Paula Bennett so sure she’s right

Never let facts get in the way of some damned good prejudice, eh, Ms Bennett?

National’s intention to throw millions of our tax dollars at a problem that may or may not exist, and has not been quantified, beggars belief. It also makes a hollow mockery of John Key’s 2008 pledge to spend our money wisely,

We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.”

See:  John Key – A Fresh Start for New Zealand

National was in opposition when Dear Leader made that pledge. Things change, I guess, when a Party becomes government and has access to our taxes.

The ‘bullishness’ of a cornered National Minister is clearly coming through on this issue.

So if Paula Bennett is ignoring Health Ministry advice,

  1. Where is she getting her advice and data from?
  2. Does she know the number of unemployed who are using recreational drugs?
  3. How much has National budgetted for this programme?
  4. If National has budgetted for drug testing – they must have an idea how many unemployed will be affected?
  5. In which case, we’re back to #1; Where is she getting her advice and data from?

Would Bennett know, for example, how  many of these recently-made redundant workers are on drugs;

See previous blogpost: Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Toru)

The answer, my friends, is not blown in the wind – it’s blown out her —- !

Let’s dispense with  the bovine excrement and stop the tip-toeing on this issue.

National was elected in 2008 on a pledge to raise our wages to parity with Australia.

See: John Key – A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Not only have they failed, but our wage-gap with our Aussie cuzzies is actually widening.

See: Wage gap grows $1 a month – Labour

National was elected in 2011 on a pledge to create 170,000 new jobs.

See: Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Instead, our unemployment has risen to 6.8%.

See:  Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

In almost every respect, National’s policies – which are heavily reliant on the free market to deliver desired outcomes like growth and jobs – have failed.

John Key is presiding over,

  • a stagnant economy
  • rising unemployment
  • a low wage economy
  • wide gap with Australia
  • rising government debt
  • more New Zealanders escaping to Australia
  • and no plans to fix this mess except cuts to the state sector, asset sales, charter schools, crushing cars, and “reforming” the welfare system

That’s it. The “Grand Plan”. That’s as good as it get’s folks.

With more and more redundancies (see above) and  unemployment continuing to creep upward, Bennett’s plans to drug test the jobless is a deflection – an attempt to blame the victims of National’s (lack of) policies.

Drug testing the unemployed  is a ploy.

The unemployed are victims of the global financial crisis. Just  as National likes to make out that that it’s economic policies are also impacted by the recent GFC and resultant recession. It’s obscene that National uses the GFC as an excuse for their failings – and yet deny the unemployed the very same rationale for having lost their jobs.

By demanding drug testing, Bennett is sending a clear message to National’s redneck constituency, and to low information voters, that all unemployed are drug-addled, lazy,  ne’er-do-wells.

Because as we all know, being on the dole on $204.96 (nett, weekly) is a “lifestyle choice”, rather than working and earning the average wage; $800.

National has no idea how many unemployed are on drugs.

But they are still prepared to waste millions of dollars on pursuing a policy of drug testing.

All because they have failed to create the jobs they promised.

All because they need a scapegoat to show their dim-witted constituents that it’s the welfare beneficiaries at fault.

The Nazis used the scapegoating technique well well in the 1930s, when they blamed Jews, communists, gypsies, trade unionists, etc, for Germany’s economic problems.

National’s strategy here should be crystal-clear to us all; they are dangling the unemployed as scapegoats to the ill-informed; the prejudiced; and  low-information voters, for whom unemployment is a vague concept; the Global Financial Crisis happened “somewhere else“; and the dole is some unimaginably generous payment.

Very few low-information voters understand that the dole for a single person is only $204.96 (nett, weekly).

Very few National supporters understand that unemployment was 3.7% in 2007 and is now 6.8% because of an event that was sparked thousands of kilometres away in Wall St, USA.

And very few low-information and National voters want to understand this. Because to understand the realities of unemployment means that the next step is; what are they going to do about it?!

Like, this gentleman, posting on Facebook, who had no interest in anything except spouting his own narrow, ill-informed,  prejudice. I thought I’d share his “considered opinion” with the reader,

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These are the people that Paula Bennett, and National, are pandering to.

Prejudice is easier.

It means they can blame someone else.

It means not having to think about the issues involved.

Because it’s always someone elses’ fault.

Like Steven Joyce, who blamed Labour, the Greens, and Hone Harawira on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, on 19 August. It’s always “someone elses’ fault”.

Unfortunately for Bennett, though, her  repugnant behaviour has become so entrenched that she is unable to behave appropriately even to her own colleagues,

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Source

Listen: Listen to more on Checkpoint

The more that National fails to deliver results, the more they will blame others.

Why should National take responsibility for a lack of jobs and rising unemployment? After all…

… they’re only the government.

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Continued at: What’s up with the Nats? (Part toru: John Banks)

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Of mice and men (and much, much, money)

30 March 2012 2 comments

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Lombard Finance was one of fortynine finance companies that’ve collapsed since 2006. An estimated $8.5 billion of investor’s funds was affected.  Many of the directors of companies such as Lombard, Hanover, Dominion Finance Group, Bridgecorp, etc,  have appeared in Courts on various charges – usually centering around making untrue statements in their respective investment prospectuses.

Of those who lost money, many were the real “mum & dad” investors whom John Key invokes when his Party talks of privatisation of state owned assets.

Many of these “mum & dad” and “grandma & grandpa” investors have lost their life savings due to the actions of finance companies.

Those who are ultimately responsible are the directors. There is no one “above” them in terms of accountability.

As a certain US president once stated,

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Quite simply, if Directors are not responsible – then who is? And why – if Directors are not responsible – are they signing prospectus and being paid generous directors’ fees?

According to Stephen Franks – ex ACT  Member of Parliament  and unsuccessful National Party candidate – the Directors of Lombard and other companies should not have been prosecuted under the Crimes Act. In an interview on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report,  with Geoff Robinson today, Franks said,

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RNZ:  “… so was it appropriate to have a criminal case?”

Franks:  “No, I think it’s very wrong that the criminal law gets in here because it leads even someone as experienced as you   [Robinson] to say something that’s false. They weren’t convicted  of making false statements, they were convicted of making untrue statements. But quite reasonably you’re treating it as false. Untrue because the thing didn’t require any conscious intention or even knowledge. If it wasn’t true it was untrue, but we usually use the term false meaning someone’s, you know,  deliberately -“

RNZ: (interuption)]

Franks: “… knowingly made an untrue statement. But because this has become a criminal law matter, people feel, not unfairly, that they should be able to use the more extravagant language of wrong-doing, wickedness, thief, theft.

If you look at the blogs you’ll see people are foaming and I don’t blame them. I think the criminal law should deal with bad people. But the problem is it’s got involved in an area  where as the judge clearly said, this was just a mis-judgement…”

[abridged]

“… I’m not condoning poor judgement,  I think the law should be easier to enforce as a civil action, but I don’t like seeing the criminal law misused against people who aren’t dishonest.”

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There are several aspects to Stephen Franks’ comments which require a response.

Whilst I am not a lawyer, criminal law takes into account negligence as well as dis-honesty.

  • A driver who causes a crash, with injury or loss of life, can be charged and tried under the Crimes Act. The driver was not dis-honest in any manner – but their negligence was seen as criminal because of consequences that affected others.
  • Negligence can have severe consequences, as much as a deliberate act such as selling drugs or robbing a bank.
  • The investors in failed finance companies can indeed take civil action against former Directors of failed finance companies. But to what end? Often the assets of Directors is buried away in family trusts – as were some of the Lombard Four.  So no compensation is possible.
  • Civil action is a costly process, with the legal bills being met by the plaintiff. Even legal aid is not the “blank cheque” that is commonly believed by the public. Legal Aid is a loan, not a grant, and the State may demand it be repaid, in full, or in part,  at the earliest opportunity.

Stephen Franks may be on solid ground when he splits legal hairs by defining the difference between “untrue” and “false”.

But I doubt if the “mums/dads” and “grandma/grandpas” will appreciate the finer points between the two terms.

It astounds me that Stephen Franks could suggest that company directors not be prosecuted under the Crimes Act, and that creditors be forced to resort to private civil prosecutions. Many of the creditors are no longer in any financial position or even fit mental state to pursue errant directors through the Courts.

An elderly person who has lost his/her life savings to the dodgy dealings of finance companies is most likely a broke person – both financially and emotionally. Franks wants the victims of these companies to take on more responsibilies to pursure justice?

In what possible manner is that even remotely fair???

I am reminded of Stephen Franks’ original political ‘home’, the ACT Party,

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Source

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ACT and other right wing parties and their adherents make a Big Thing about responsibility.

It appears that this concept of responsibility may  not apply to company directors, responsible for flushing  approximately $8 billion in other peoples’ money down the proverbial toilet? Responsibility for some, but not for others?

By comparison, if I robbed someone of $20, that would be Strike One against me, and time spent in jail . The Three Strikes law – courtesy of the ACT Party.

I have no wish to see the Lombard Four or other failed finance company directors end up in jail. Wasting $90,000 p.a. to throw middle aged or  elderly men behind bars, who are otherwise no threat to society, seems pointless.

But at the very least, the  “mums/dads” and “grandma/grandpas”  who lost their savings should know that those responsible are held to account.

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Additional

Radio NZ:  Securities lawyer analyses sentencing of lombard directors (interview)

Shark Patrol:  Failed or Collapsed Finance Companies

NZ Treasury:  Claims or Repayment Process Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme

NZ Herald: Finance Company Collapses (and court cases)

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= fs =

Just what we need…

12 August 2011 2 comments

… more promotion of liquor.

Because here in New Zealand,

Ø  We don’t have 700,000 problem drinkers…

Ø  We don’t have kids drinking themselves into a stupor or  to death…

Ø  We don’t spend $4.4 billion dollars on alcohol-related abuse…

Ø  We don’t have 3,000 children in New Zealand  born every year  with fetal alcohol syndrome

Ø  We don’t have growing problems with public drunkeness, which now requires ambulances to be stationed at “trouble spots”…

Ø  We don’t have increasing violence and vandalism, related to easy availability of cheap booze…

Oh no, we need to promote alcohol as “sexy”, because we’re not consuming enough of the stuff. Thank you, North Otago Rugby Union, for showing us that problems with alcohol is someone elses’ problem and you don’t have to do your bit.

One question, though, if I may, Mr Jackson – how do you define “social responsibility”?