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Posts Tagged ‘Tariana Turia’

Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill…

19 February 2014 7 comments

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Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

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The good news: Tariana Turia’s Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill has passed the first Reading in Parliament and is headed to a Select Committee where the public can make submissions.

Fantastic news!

This is another step in the elimination of this ghastly, toxic product from our society.

The not-so-good news: our spineless Prime Minister wants to put the Bill “on hold”, until a court case between the Australian government and tobacco giant,  Philip Morris, is settled in an Australian court. He said,

“I don’t really see the point in us finally passing the legislation until we see exactly what happens in the Australian court case. We have a slightly different system, but there might just be some learnings and if there are learnings out of that, it would be sensible to potentially incorporate those in either our legislation or avoid some significant costs.”

Aside from the question whether or not “Learnings” is a real word, one hopes that our corporate-cultured, money-trading, deal-broking, multi-millionaire Prime Minister is not getting ‘cold feet’ on this issue.

Too many people are dying for John Key to succumb to pressure from  big tobacco.

The bad news is that only one man voted against this Bill – John “Nothing-to-fear-nothing-to-hide” Banks”.  In explanation, he said,

“No one dislikes smoking more than me”. But he was against the state seizing property rights without compensation.

Banks added.

“It’s an interesting exercise in futility. If the government was serious it would double the price of tobacco over the next five years… all we’re doing is introducing a bill so we feel good.”

So saving peoples’ lives by doing everything possible to slowly eliminate this destructive product … is an “exercise in futility”?

Funny thing…

He was only too happy to front on the steps of Parliament on 30 July 2013, supporting the banning of testing synthetic “highs” on animals;

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https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

“I say no to farming animals in China and India for the purposes of drug testing. I say no to putting animals at the alter of drug dealers and importing for the purpose of recreational drugs…”
…I say to my Parliament colleagues testing fun drugs on animals is obscene.It is obscene in a country that prides itself on animal welfare and animal ethics. Britain banned testing; Britain banned testing of fun drugs on animals in 1997. The EU has banned the testing of cosmetrics of on that beautiful rabbit down there some years ago.
… If we want to be leaders; if we want to be leaders in the safety of fun drugs in this country, if it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it. There are hundreds and hundreds of idiots up and and down the country that will willingly take fun drugs to test their toxicity.
…And I say to my Parliamentary colleagues, don’t test them on animals at all!”

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What a strange, twisted mind that opposes a simple plain packaging on a product that kills 4,300 to 4,600 people per year – whilst demanding at the same time that animals are saved from the horrors of drug-testing.

When did the lives of people become less important than the lives of animals, or the “rights” of multi-national corporations to market   addictive, toxic  products?

It’s a shame John Banks doesn’t care for his fellow human beings as much as he does for bunnies, puppies, and Big Tobacco.

As for John Key – grow a spine, mate.

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References

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smoking

Previous related blogpost

Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014

16 February 2014 3 comments

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 14 February 2014  –

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– Chris Bramwell –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

Legislation to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products passed its first reading in Parliament this week with almost unanimous support.

Listen to John Banks’ prioritising the right of Big Tobacco company’s “intellectual property rights” over the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014 ( 16′ 07″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 9 December 2013

10 December 2013 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 9 December 2013 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 25′ 53″  )

This week:

  • The political ramifications of Nelson Mandela’s death and the NZ delegation travelling to South Africa,
  • the Green Party’s new policy for the Meridian share float,
  • and leadership changes within New Zealand’s smaller political parties.

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National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

6 September 2012 11 comments

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National is in deep trouble.

Very deep trouble.

A clusterf**k of bad stories; low growth; a growing flood of New Zealanders escaping to Australia; rising unemployment; an unpopular asset sales agenda that has  turned into an unholy  mess; and a recent slew of massive job redundancies has left National sinking in the polls.

See previous blogpost: John Key’s “Bright New Future”

The last Roy Morgan poll had the Nats at 44.5% –  now polling lower than it did last November, where it won  47.31% of the vote.

See recent blogpost: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government

At this current rate of dropping public support, National’s electoral defeat in 2014 (if not earlier), will be more like a rout than a close-result.  We may be looking at a repeat of the 2002 general election where National’s support collapsed, leaving a rump-vote of 20.93%.

See: New Zealand general election, 2002

A result  of that magnitude would mean 32 National MPs losing their seats.

If this blogger is aware of this simple fact, then you can bet your cotton socks that National’s party strategists are on over-drive.

National’s response, every time, is to employ deflection. The above image – “National:  Spin The Wheel Policy Development Process” – is not so much a funny picture as an actual strategy process.

During the last spate of bad headlines, National floated “kites” on sterilising beneficiaries and “encouraging”  solo-mums (but never solo-dads) and their daughters (but never their sons) on to contraception. (The unspoken inference being that all solo-mothers – but never solo-dads – are reckless “breeders”, and ignoring problems surrounding domestic violence, substance abuse, gambling addiction, marital affairs, etc.)

More recently  recently, the last dog-whistle was drug-testing the unemployed. (The inference being that all 164,000 unemployment are jobless by choice; on drugs; and unwilling to work.)

Never mind the ongoing Global Financial Crisis recession – that excuse is reserved solely for John Key and his ministerial cronies to use,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis..” – John Key

See:  View from the top

In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce

See: Parliamentary Questions and Answers – August 29

However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee

See: Petrol excise, road user charges increases

The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English

See: English warns of financial crisis lasting a generation

With low polling and redundancies dominating the headlines, National has cast about for another dog-whistle to distract the easily-led Middle class.

They’ve done the unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) “to death”.

Next minority on the List; Maori.

Cue: John Key’s derisory response to the upcoming nationwide  hui on water rights,

The Government does not believe there should be a national hui; does not believe there should be a national settlement and it probably would not recognise all of the rights and interests that some Maori groups believe they have.

If the Crown was to be represented at the hui, and it wont be, because we’ve said were not having a national hui, we don’t support that…if you are an MP in the government you represent the Crown and any representation by my MPs at such an event would be interpreted as representation by the Crown.

I’ve made that position absolutely crystal clear..I do not accept the view that there needs to be a national hui, because I do not accept there will be a national settlement, because I do not accept it’s a national issue.”

See: Key – Government won’t go to water hui

Maori-bashing.

Almost as good as bene-bashing.

Or “get tough on crime/crush cars” rhetoric.

“Standing tough” with Maori “demands” for water rights will probably work a treat with racist rednecks and low-information voters.  With the former, their racism is deeply ingrained and such ignorance can be written of like the forty-plus financial companies that sucked billions out of mums and dads investors.

With the latter, it is a matter of education and dispelling myths and prejudice, before people’s  eyes eventually open and they connect-the-dots.

National will probably rebound in the polls on this strategy.

So unfortunately, Greens co-leader, Russell Norman is missing the point when he suggests that National has “blundered again” by deciding to boycott the Hui,

For the Government to say that it won’t even attend and will actually ban its MPs from attending is the exact antithesis of good faith negotiation and is yet another blunder from this Government.”

See: MP ban on attending water hui ‘another blunder’

There is no “blunder” involved here. This is naked, machiavellian politicking by National’s back-room boys.

Realistically, though,  they can only use this kind of demonisation and deflection  a few times before the public start to realise that they are being “played”. People wise up pretty quickly – especialy when Opposition Parties, political commentators, media, and bloggers patiently explain what the Nats are up to.

Too much Maori bashing  may even force the Maori Party to make some hard decisions. Do Sharples and Turia really want to be associated with a right wing party that vilifies Maori aspirations and exploits our society’s latent racist underbelly for their own ends?

Especially when a growing perception that Sharples and Turia seem  slavishly tied to National. Are they also  obedient to Dear Leader John Key’s diktat that all National MPs stay away from the upcoming nationwide Hui?

Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia stated categorically,

“Well at this point I don’t really see the point in going.”

And Pita Sharples followed,

We believe this is a thing that iwi/hapu have to work out themselves.”

See:  Maori Party likely to snub water rights hui

So whistle-away, Dear Leader.

But eventually,  as Abaham Lincoln pointed out,

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

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Tobacco Corporations are interested only in our “intulecktualul property rights” – agree/disagree?

28 August 2012 13 comments

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Some (most?) folk will have seen an advert currently running on television, featuring the above image.

It is part of a campaign by tobacco companies to oppose plain packaging here in New Zealand. In Australia, recently, a million-dollar law suit brought by tobacco companies against the Australian government was fought on this specific issue.

The tobacco companies lost.

See:  Tobacco packaging: cigarette companies lose Australian court case

This trans-Tasman conflict was viewed closely by National and it’s coalition-partner, the Maori Party. Especially by Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia.

See: Tariana Turia welcomes Australian plain packaging decision

Plans for a similar law are being mooted here in New Zealand; to replace the glamourous, brightly-coloured cigarette packets with plain packages featuring mostly the usual ghastly images of cancer victims.

In response, British American Tobacco New Zealand, the biggest tobacco company in the country  launched a counter-campaign on 23 August, called Agree-Disagree.

Part of that campaign is a short, animated advertisement running at prime time on several (?) television networks. The campaign pushes the proposition that if a business creates “intellectual property” then it should be free to use it.

This blogger has seen the ad.

It’s rubbish.

If the aim of the campaign is to mobilise public opinion to log on to the Agree-Disagree website, then they pushing poo uphill with a garden fork. Ain’t gonna happen, sunshine.

This is the New Zealand public we’re talking about here. A million of my fellow Kiwi brothers and sisters couldn’t be stuffed voting at the next election. If  apathy had been a political party, it might’ve beaten National comfortably.

At the same time, we have pressing issues such as chronic alcohol abuse (which most of the country is in denial about); child abuse (except for a small group prone to moral panic attacks); child poverty; growing unemployment; a stagnant economy; blah, blah, f*****g  blah.

Unless it’s a stranded penguin or some big white letters on a cliff-face overlooking a Wellington suburb or some silly bint making unwise comments on a Facebook page about dead soldiers – the public is too ‘busy’ to care.  Hey, the latest episode of “The Block”, “The Voice”, “The Latest Really Exciting Cooking Show”, etc, etc, is on – and people are positively mesmerised by 21st century junk-TV.

By the time their particular favourite  Reality-show porn is over, folk will have forgotten that ad, plus fifty others that might’ve flashed across our screens during that time.

Thank you, Television, for turning our minds into short-term attention spanners.

Sorry… um, what was I writing about?

Either tobacco companies have wasted their hard-earned cash (derived from customers just dying to enjoy their products) on a disastrously mis-judged campaign – or this blogger is missing something.  If the public are not going to rear up on their collective hind legs in moral outrage that innocent drug peddlers tobacco giants are being treated unfairly – then what is the point of these adverts?

On another excellent blog – Tumeke – well-known left-wing commentator, Chris Trotter made this interesting comment,

The ads aren’t aimed at us, Bomber, they’re aimed at the newspaper publishers and broadcasting networks.

Add up the amount of money being spent – then look at the response from editors and columnists.

See how it works?

See: Dear Big Tobacco – why I refuse to agree to disagree

Well, that’s as valid as any interpretation, I guess.

Because otherwise, BAT has just wasted several hundreds of thousands (millions?)  of dollars on a campaign  that is futile and doomed  to be forgotten.

One final question to tobacco companies…

They make the point,

If I create it, I should own it.”

Can that same statement be applied to everything else that tobacco companies created?

Like the millions of cancer sufferers who are dying from use of their product?

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11 May: End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails

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– End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails –

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New Semi-Regular Weekly Event

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Tim Groser (National)

For having the courage and insight to suggest that making Te Reo compulsory in our Primary Schools would be a good idea. On TV3’s ‘The Nation, on 28 April, Mr Groser said,

My personal view is that we should be teaching Maori to every five-year-old child. If you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of bi-culturalism and more than one language then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit.”

It’s not often that a politician from an opposing Party stands out – but when they do, they certainly make an impact. One may not agree with all his views – especially on free trade – but a politician who has depth in his or her views, and is not captured by an ideology, deserves respect.

Hone Harawira (Mana)

For having the guts to do what very few politicians have done before; stand up for the working man and woman;  condemn an oppressive employer; and encourage New Zealanders to make a stand and boycott Talleys.

Jim Anderton did it in the 1980s and 1990s, and now Mr Harawira is doing likewise,

It was a nasty and spiteful decision to try to force workers to cave in to company demands or get their emergency benefits cut. The locked out workers have been forced to band together to survive and to keep the working conditions they’ve won through years of negotiation.

Talley’s aren’t the only brands in the shelf” said Harawira “and all we want people to do is choose something other than Talley’s for now.”

No doubt he’ll be attacked, derided, and vilified by every right wing nutjob in the country – but Mr Harawira will also have earned the respect of New Zealand workers.

Tariana Turia (Maori Party)

For carrying on her campaign against the pernicious industry that kills 5,000 New Zealanders  every year; the tobacco corporations. If a disease was rampaging through the country, killing 5,000 people every year – there would be a State of Emergency; the military would be called out to guard checkpoints; and the whole country would be on lock-down.

But because it’s tobacco, it is somehow acceptable. Crazy!

Ms Turia deserves to be re-elected into Parliament. Like Hone Harawira, she is standing up for those folk who would otherwise be crushed by corporate power whose only interest is making big profits.

In fact, I go one step further; at the next election; after a change of  government; I encourage David Shearer to allow Ms Turia to carry on her campaign and to re-appoint her as Associate Minister for Health. Some issues are just too damned important to be determined along Party lines. (There is precedent; the incoming National Government in 1990 kept Labour MP, Mike Moore, as part of New Zealand’s GATT  negotiations team. His value to the country was so highly regarded that Party affiliation was secondary to maintaining his role.)

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John Banks (ACT)

For, um… er… I can’t remember. Sorry… no, I don’t recall.

John Key (Dear Leader)

So many to choose from…

But two that stand out this week,

#1: Having the utter gall to deride the Australia  by suggesting that they have  “an inherent weakness” in their economy, and then adding,

It’s very much a two-speed economy in Australia. The mining sector is very strong and obviously Western Australia and Queensland are big beneficiaries of that.”

Say whut?!

Australia also has a strong compulsory system of compulsory superannuation, and our Aussie cuzzies have saved in excess of A$1.31 trillion so far, for their retirement. That money is  able to be re-invested in their local economy.

By comparison, here in New Zealand, we voted in 1975 to elect a government (led by Robert Muldoon) who campaigned on scrapping our version of a compulsory super fund. New Zealanders are notoriously poor savers, which means that as a nation, we rely heavily on borrowing from overseas lenders.

By scrapping our own super-scheme 37 years ago, we shot ourselves in our own feet.

So do us a favour, Dear Leader, and don’t go saying that the Australian economy has “an inherent weakness”. The only “weakness” I see is a poor leadership in this country that promises all manner of things to voters simply to get elected.

Case in point;

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 29 January 2008

That was over four years ago. But this blogger notices that Dear Leader still  continues to make precisely the same promises,

I think it is a long-term and sustainable attribute for their economy but it doesn’t mean that we can’t close the gap with Australia.”- John Key, 9 May 2012

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Still…

Oh, and don’t forget those 170,000 new  jobs you promised us last year as well, Mr Key!

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Still…

#2: Asking  children at  Holy Family School in Porirua East if they wanted to be the Prime Minister, and when they all replied with enthusiasm, he retorted,

Frankly, the way it’s going at the moment you can have the job“.

Ok, Mr Key, your “honeymoon” with the media and public is over – we get that.

You’re having a rough time with scandals, unpopular policies, and your policies are not working to create jobs and a growing economy – we get that to.

And you have our sympathy for having to put up with John Banks – we so get that!

But venting your frustrations at a bunch of bright-eyed, eager children is simply not on. In fact, it stinks that  you shot them down with a cheap retort when they were expressing a real enthusiasm for your role as leader of this country.

If the job is getting to you – move on. One thing you never, ever do, is to dump on kids just because you’re having a bad day week month year so far. Bad form, Mr Prime Minister.

Mark Mitchell (National)

Perhaps the most gormless comment this week came from National MP, Mark Mitchell,  on TVNZ7’s “Backbenches” on 10 May, when he adamantly explained that National was not selling state assets. To everyone’s jaw-dropping amazement, Mitchell said (in part),

“… It got labelled [as] asset sales. We’re not selling the assets, what we’re doing is freeing up some of the shares in those assets for Kiwis to invest in. It’s as simple as that…

We’re keeping the assets but we’re freeing up some shares for Kiwi investors to invest in. We’re keeping the assets. This is the thing that actually a lot of people didn’t understand.”

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What!?

So the people of New Zealand still own Telecom, BNZ, Post Bank, etc, because we we just freed up some shares? Is that how capitalism works – you sell half the shares in a company, but we still own the entire company?

Dayum. Even Karl Marx never thought of that one!

Thank you, Mr Mitchell. Thank you for being a National MP – and not one from the Left.

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And for the final category, the Epic Fail of the Week,

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Colin Craig

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Colin Craig

This week’s Epic Fail has to go to Conservative Party leader, Colin Craig, who managed to alienate 51% of the population in one sentence, consisting of thirteen words,

We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world.

An Epic Fail of stunning proportions!

Way to go, Colin. You can, of course, expect that statement to come back and haunt you in years to come.

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Has National declared class-war on New Zealand?

6 December 2011 8 comments

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What’s past is prologue

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“Class war” – not a piece of left-wing jargon I normally employ, as it has connotations that are seemingly out-of-date in the 21st Century. It is a term I normally associate with 1960s-style, cloth-cap marxist-leninist or maoist cadres, addressing factory workers as they’re about to “Down Tools and All Out, Bruvvers“!

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In 1947 a union official addresses London dockers. In the post-war years efforts were made by the unions to recruit new workers coming into British industry.

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However, “class war” seems to pretty well describe what this ‘new’ hard-right wing government is planning.

Since the Election on November 26, it is  apparent that this government has moved well away from the centre-right position it occupied from 2008-11.  There is a definite undertone of  cold harshness about this ‘new’ government. The old “smile and wave” has been replaced with a grim tension as the National-Dunne-ACT Coalition begins to announce policies that were never announced during the election campaign.

It is as if the facade of the  cheerful “vacant optimism” of John Key has been allowed to fall away – to be replaced with something cold and quite alien. I think New Zealanders are waking up to a Prime Minister that they never voted for.

It appears that the  first term of National was to “bed in” this government and lay fertile ground for their real policies – policies that are intended to transform this country as Rogernomic did in the late 1980s. National has declared war on our   social services,  remnants of our egalitarian past when most or all New Zealanders had a fair go.

Since Rogernomics, we were promised that increased wealth creation would “trickle down” to middle and low income earners, and  as a result incomes would rise. This has not happened. in fact, quite the reverse.

The OECD  (not exactly a left-wing organisation)  has warned “about the rise of the high earners in rich societies and the falling share of income going to those at the bottom, saying governments must move quickly to tackle inequality ,”

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Full Story

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Warren Buffett – one of the richest men on this planet – has said pretty much the same thing,

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Full Story

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Buffett has stated,

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

The same could be said of high income earners and wealthy throughout the world, including here in New Zealand.

Since 1986, there have been seven tax cuts in New Zealand. Gst was introduced at 10% in the same year, and increased to 15% this year (despite assurance by John Key that he would not raise gst).

GST impacts disproportionately on low-income earners as they  spend all their income on necessities, whilst higher-income earners/wealthy invest, speculate,  or “park” their money. “Parking” wealth does not lead to increased spending in the economy and businesses suffer accordingly. Investment does not always lead to more jobs or higher wages either – simply an increased return to the investor.

The growing disparity between rich, middle-classes, and low income/poor began in earnest in the late 1970s,

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It is noteworthy that right-wing governments in the UK (“Thatcherism”) and USA (“Reagonomics”) implemented neo-liberal government policies such as tax cuts for the rich;   reduced social services and government spending; and stagnant wage-growth, at the same time – the late 1970s.

Could there be a link? Of course there is. Only a fool would deny the causal factors of neo-liberal governments and growing wealth disparity.

In New Zealand, right wing neo-liberal policies were introduced a little later, in the mid-1980s.

The result has been predictable, and follows overseas trends,

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Full Story

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Income disparity has been a growing problem and despite endless promises that “trickle down” theory works – wages have stayed static and those earning minimum wage barely have sufficient to surevive.  When questioned by Q+A’s Guyon Espiner on this issue, Bill English agreed,

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GUYON:  Okay, can we move backwards in people’s working lives from retirement to work and to wages?  Mr English, is $13 an hour enough to live on? 

BILL:  People can live on that for a short time, and that’s why it’s important that they have a sense of opportunity.  It’s like being on a benefit.

GUYON:  What do you mean for a short time?

BILL:  Well, a long time on the minimum wage is pretty damn tough, although our families get Working for Families and guaranteed family income, so families are in a reasonable position.Source

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The tax cut last year exacerbated that growing gap between the rich/high income earners and those on middle/low incomes,

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Source

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Only the most politically partisan – blinded by misplaced quasi-religious beliefs in neo-liberal ideology – can ignore the ample evidence that so-called “free market”  policies serve to make only the rich, richer. Meanwhile those at the bottom are mired in poverty. The middle-classes become debt-laden, as they have to borrow more and more to keep afloat financially.

We have created a recipe for disaster and in 2008 the fiscal chickens came home to roost.

In November 2011, 957,769  voters cast their ballot for a charismatic Prime Minister who seemed to be fairly centrist and common sense.

957,769  voters were duped.

This was not the same John Key nor National government they elected in November 2008.

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The Right Strikes Back

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Charter Schools

Charter Schools is nothing less than gradual privatisation by stealth. Instead of announcing to New Zealanders that schools will be put on Trademe and sold to highest bidders, the “Charter Schools” policy is far more subtle; and done piece by piece; step by step.

99% of New Zealanders would never countenance our schools being put on the chopping block and flogged of to Heinz Watties, Church of Scientology, Toyota, the Mormons, Uncle Tom Cobbly, etc. But that is precisely what “Charter Schools” is about. Under “Charter Schools”, a religious group or corporation can fund and take control of  your local school.

A Radio NZ report states,

Christian school leaders say the Government’s plan to trial so-called charter schools could give them a way to reach the most needy families.

Charter schools are part of a movement in the United States and Britain to get business and non-profit organisations to run government-funded schools free from many of the rules that govern regular state schools.

The schools are not allowed to charge fees, but can set teacher pay and their own school day and year.

A trial for such schools in South Auckland and central and eastern Christchurch was part of the confidence and supply agreement reached between the National and ACT parties on Monday.

Christian school leaders say the proposed schools might give Christian schools a way round current restrictions on their enrolments.

Most are integrated schools and must focus their enrolments on Christians. Charter schools would get the same funding, without those restrictions.

Christian school leaders say that will interest schools that want to help poor communities.

They say the schools would be fulfilling a Christian mission and would not try to convert people to Christianity. ” – Source

So if a christian fundamentalist group like “Exclusive  Brethren” took over my local primary school, they would not be replacing the science curriculum with Creationism? Or teaching girls to be “silent and obedient to men”? Or canning sex-education?

A NZ Herald article had this to say about “Chart Schools”,

The National party yesterday agreed to incorporate charter schooling as part of its government support deal with the Act Party, allowing private entities such as businesses, church groups and iwi organisations to take over management of schools but retain state funding under the scheme.

The charter school scheme will be trialled in South Auckland and Christchurch within the next three years.

Groups representing teachers and principals are outraged at the proposal.

Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) president Robin Duff labelled the charter school trial nothing but a “social experiment” on already vulnerable students.

“Why are they not putting a school like this in Epsom? I think some honest answers are needed.”

He said models overseas were ineffective; Stanford University research showed students at only 17 per cent of charter schools did better than at traditional schools.” – Source

When John Key was interviewed about the new  “Charter Schools” policy that ACT and National had jointly announced, he replied on Radio NZ,

“‘That’s MMP for you, isn’t it? That you agree to different proposals.”

Rubbish.

Once again, Key is spinning a lie to cover his backside.

The facts are simple, and a  visit to National and ACT’s website yields some interesting information.

National

There is no mention made whatsoever of “Charter Schools” in National’s policy, “Education in Schools“.  Nothing even remotely close.

National makes policy on employing unqualified people off the street to teach our children,

We will make it easier for schools to employ people with specialist skills who may not be a registered teacher, but who can undergo basic teacher training. That training may be on-the-job training.

They even hint at League Tables,

They also have clear targets they can measure their own achievements, and the achievements of their school, against.”

National will make secondary school performance information available to parents, so they are informed about their child’s learning environment.”

Improve reporting of system-level performance, including investigating school level reporting.”

National wants to psyco-analyse people to gauge their “disposition to teach”, in a quasi-Nanny State/Big Brotherish kind of way,

Improve the quality of initial teacher education, including a move to a post graduate qualification and minimum undergrad entry requirements, as well as a formal assessment of a ‘disposition to teach’.”

And National isn’t “quasi” in some of it’s Big Brotherish surveillance of ordinary New Zealanders,

Track students who leave school before 18 and make sure they are in some form of education or training.
Schools will be asked to report students who are leaving school and not going onto further training or employment, so we can support them and ensure they don’t end up on welfare.

So, if you’re 17 and about to leave school, for whatever reason, expect the eyes of  The State to be watching you.

National also makes some very grand, heart-warming, claims stating their supporting for schools in Christchurch in their “Education in Schools”  policy,

Double-funded students who moved out of Christchurch for 2011. That is, we funded the Christchurch school they no longer attended and also funded the school outside of Christchurch they did attend.”

However, they make no reference to the fact that, in September, Education Minister Anne Tolley announced cutting 167 full-time equivalent-positions from Christchurch schools, effective next year.  This lapse in painting a full picture of National’s policy and track record in Christchurch is another unpleasant example of dishonesty from this government.

But a big Nothing/Nada/No Way reference to “School Charters”.

ACT

Quite predictably, ACT, and it’s website, is a right-winger’s Onanistic delight.

Again, there is no mention of  “Schools Chart” in ACT’s education policy. Though they do rabbit on about “the benefits of making education more market-like and entrepreneurial.  ”

In fact, this is ACT’s full education policy,

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Source

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It’s interesting that ACT (and to a lesser degree, National) both make out that our education system is in dire straits.  Their inference is that only their policies will achieve grand outcomes – no one elses.

And yet, things are not as bad as they would have us believe,

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Full Story

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Ok, so we’re not ‘perfect’, and obviously we “Can Do Better” on our OECD Report Card. But matters are not so desperate that National has to implement a policy that neither they nor ACT campaigned on.  National, specifically, has no reference coming even remotely close to “Charter Schools” in it’s education policy.

Quite simply, National has ‘sprung’ this on the public. They have no mandate for such a radical re-shaping of our education system.

Trying to blame it on MMP and suggesting that it is ACT policy is duplicitous. They have deceived the elecorate – and as such parents, teachers, students, and the rest of the community have a legitimate right to resist implementation of this policy.

I suspect that “Chart Schools” is merely the tip of the iceberg. National and ACT have other surprises in store for us, and New Zealand will be in for a rude shock.

The Right Wing are in ascendancy in Parliament and they will run rampant with their “reforms”, mandate or not.

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Denniston Plateau

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Yet more evidence (if we ever really needed it) that this National-led coalition has taken off  the kid-gloves and has adopted an agressive, uncompromising,  right-wing posture. As well as ramming through  policy that was never presented to the electorate, expect National to be more open and brazen in breaking promises.

National’s intention to mine the ecologically-sensitive Denniston Plateau was made public by “Conservation” Minister Kate Wilkinson, a mere one-working day day after the election.  She could barely wait for the ballot papers to be counted before issuing a public statement that broke  a promise to make  future applications to mine on the conservation land  publicly notifiable.

On 20 July 201o, after mass protests throughout the country opposing mining on Schedule 4 Conservation land, Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson issued this statement,

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After carefully considering the feedback received on the Maximising Our Mineral Potential: Stocktake of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act and Beyond discussion paper, the Government has agreed that:

  • i. No areas will be removed from Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.
  • ii. All of the 14 areas proposed for addition to Schedule 4 will be added to the schedule.
  • iii. A technical investigation will be undertaken of Northland (in strategic alliance with Northland Regional Council, the Far North District Council, and Enterprise Northland), the West Coast of the South Island and various other highly prospective areas in the South Island – excluding any Schedule 4 areas. This will identify mineral deposits and assist with hazard identification (for example, faults and slips), road maintenance and conservation planning.
  • iv. Areas given classifications equivalent to current Schedule 4 areas (for example, national parks and marine reserves) will in the future be automatically added to Schedule 4. Such classifications will be agreed by Cabinet.
  • v. Significant applications to mine on public conservation land will be publicly notified.

– Gerry Brownlee, Kate Wilkinson – 20 July, 2010

Source

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Australian mining company, Bathurst Resources, wants to mine an additional 50-80 million tonnes from the area over a 35 year period. Forest & Bird state,

The adjacent Stockton Plateau has been half destroyed by opencast mining in the past few decades. The Denniston Plateau has a history of underground mining, but has been spared – until now – this fate.

A new opencast coal mine proposed for the Denniston Plateau would destroy 200 hectares and increase New Zealand’s coal exports by up to 63% per year. But that would only be the beginning. The Australian company holds mining permits across the Plateau, which would generate an estimated 50 million tonnes of coal.” – Source

In effect, this,

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Denniston Plateau

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Would become this,

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Stockton Mine

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National’s open contempt for the democratic process; honouring election committments; and public consultation – should now be apparent to everyone. Worse still is their contempt for the people of this country.

How else does one explain a government that has so blatantly gone back on so many of it’s promises?

Wilkinson’s readiness to go back on her word is something that she – and her colleagues – should be deeply ashamed of.

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Urgency laws?

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National’s previous term saw the highest use of  “Urgency” to ram through legislation, in decades.

Expect more of the same, as they implement their right wing agenda at breakneck speed, before 2014. This is the method used by Douglas and Prebble in the 1980s.

Indeed, Douglas boasted at the speed at which he and his cronies introduced their “reforms”. The result was that public opposition to their agenda was difficult to mount.

The right wing have little time for the democratic process and public consultation. That should be readily apparent to us all by now.

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ACC

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I’ve no doubt that whilst ACC will not be privatised – that workplace accident compensation will be opened up to “marketplace competition”. This will be a rehash of National’s earlier experiment in accident insurance competition in the late ’90s.

Neo-libs. They love to recycle old policies, whether or not they were ever successful.

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Maori Party

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The Maori Party has not yet gone into formal coalition with National. They are currently conducting consultation with their constituents, by holding Hui around the country.

I have no doubt in my mind that Maori Party members will bitterly denounce any suggestion that they coalesce with National. To many, the last week has already been a fore taste of the right wing whirlwind that is about to hit this country.

For the Maori Party to be associated in any way, shape, or form with the impending storm will be a colossal misjudgement on the part of Maori Party leadership – and will guarantee their political demise in 2014.

Wise heads will try to warn Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia, and Te Ururoa Flavell, that entering into coalition with National and it’s coat-tailing little mini-Nats (Dunne and Banks) will be the death knell for the Maori Party.

The question remains; will they heed that warning? Or will they suffer the same fate as Tau Henare’s Mauri Pacific Party in 1999?

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Things To Come

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Let no one be under any illusion that this National Coalition v.2 is nothing like it’s predecessor from 2008-11. This is a fully-fledged, ideologically-driven, determined Right Wing Government.

And it has nothing to do with ACT.  ACT is a political corpse, and John Banks is carrying on in name only.

Despite MMP being designed to reign in the executive power of large parties, and prevent FPP-style single-party rule – National has managed to rort the system by creating proxies – Peter Dunne and John Banks – who are essentially National Party ministers-by-default.

National did not fail in their fight to win an outright majority in the House. They succeeded.

I hope that the voters of Epsom and Ohariu knew what they were doing when they voted for Banks and Dunne (and Green and Labour voters when they failed to vote tactically). Because they have helped achieved the near impossible under MMP:  a single-party government.

And we know what happens when a single-party government rules Parliament. What does a single-party government do?

Whatever it wants.

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References

National: Education in Schools Policy

ACT: Education policy

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Additional Reading

Education shake-up ‘biggest for years’

Key defends state-funded private schools

On charter schools – Gordon Campbell

Save the Denniston Plateau:Ours Not Mine

On income inequality – Gordon Campbell

The gap between NZs rich and poor

New Zealand wealth gap alarms charities

Wealth gap divides nation

Chris Ford: National/ACT Coalition aiming to complete New Right revolution

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Video

2011-12-06 – 3News – OECD: Inequality Growing Fastest in NZ

OECD: Record inequality between rich and poor

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Post mortem #4: Maori Party, National, and the Treaty

30 November 2011 2 comments

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Full Story

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Current National and Maori Party coalition negotiations raise two interesting issues. One is fairly self-evident. The other is something I’ve just noticed in the above image of Pita Sharples anf John Key…

Issue one

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Mr Key said there was no reason why partial asset sales would need to be treated as a matter of confidence and supply.” Source

The sale of state assets is usually a budgetary matter. As I’ve written previously, past asset sales were generally included as part of bugetary legislation and passed by the government-of-the-day using it’s majority in the House.

The Opposition – whether one party as under FPP, or several parties under MMP – would automatically vote against the government’s budget. If the budget passed, the government had Supply (money to pay for ongoing state activities, such as paying salaries; building infra-structure; making purchases; paying for borrowings; etc).

If the budget was voted down – the government fell.

At present, John Key’s coalition-government consists of 62 seats out of 121 (there is an “over-hang of one seat),

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Those 62 seats comprise,

National: 60

John Banks/ACT: 1

Peter Dunne/United Future: 1

Total: 62

62 out of 121 is a majority – just barely. Lose one seat – in a by-election or a defection – and the majority is cut down to one. Lose two seats, and Key’s majority is lost, and becomes a minority government.

No wonder John Key spat the dummy a couple of days ago and called MMP a “weird system”.

Which is why the Maori Party’s the seats becomes vital to the longer-term survival of this new, National-led coalition government. Last term there were four by-elections. There is no guarantee that there won’t be one or two or more this time around.

Key needs the Maori Party as political “insurance”.

The only way that the Maori Party can be placated regarding asset sales is that the issue is removed from the main body of the upcoming Budget, and presented to the House as separate legislation. The Maori Party may then vote with the National-led coalition to ensure Supply, and the business of government carries on.

When the issue of asset sales is presented to the House as separate legislation, the Maori Party will no doubt vote with the Opposition, as Sharples and Turia promised their constituents during the election campaign, and try to vote down the Bill.

No doubt the Bill will proceed through the House, as John Key utilises his two seat majority early on, to guarantee it’s passage.

Once the Bill is enacted and becomes law, the asset sale can proceed unhindered.

At the same time, the National-ACT-Dunne-Maori Party coalition is embedded. There is face-saving all around.

Issue two

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When I looked at the image above, of John Key and Pita Sharples meeting and greeting each other as equals, the scene reminded me of a photo taken in the early 1970s, of then-Prime Minister, Norman Kirk. I found the image using trusty Google.

Let’s compare the two,

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Norman Kirk Moana Priest John Key Pita Sharples

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My, how we’ve matured as a society since the early 1970s.

The symbolism of those two images shows – to me – how the New Zealand social and political meme has been re-defined  in only 40 years.

When Norman Kirk led the young Maori boy across the grounds of Waitangi, the image was one of the Pakeha culture as the dominanant patron of this country, leading the “maori child” walking together, hand in hand. It was the archetypal British Colonial “father-figure”, taking in-hand the “childlike” indigenous people.

In the right hand image, the Maori male is an adult Pita Sharples, meeting John Key on a level playing-field. They are meeting as true Treaty partners.

Despite what one may think of National; their policies; and the Maori Party supporting this government – I find something positive in the right-hand image. I think it bodes well for our future and demonstrates that pakeha fears over the Treaty is without foundation.

We’ve come a long way. The journey is yet to end, if ever.

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Additional

Chris Ford: Has the Maori Party finally cooked its goose?

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Post mortem #3: The Maori Party

28 November 2011 26 comments

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This is when politicians really break out in sweat,

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“The Maori Party leadership has met in Auckland today but is yet to decide on a future relationship with National.

Co-leader Tariana Turia said the party would discuss the issue with supporters after meeting with Prime Minister John Key tomorrow.

A reduced Maori Party caucus gathered in Auckland this morning to discuss possible coalition deals.

The party suffered a serious dent in its support last night. It lost Rahui Katene’s Te Tai Tonga seat and saw reduced margins in its remaining three electorates.

Co-leader Pita Sharples was visibly deflated last night and admitted to being disappointed with his own result and that of the whole party.

He said the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years.”

Full Story

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Co-leader Pita Sharples  said “the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years“.

Well now, that’s an understatement if I ever heard one.

It may seem like a Big Ask, but maori appear to want contradictory things for the Maori Party; independent representation with their own  political movement – and a voice in government. But not in coalition  – Maori Party voters seem overtly hostile to coalescing with National.

Anything else? Would you like fries with that?!

I don’t envy Pita Sharples or Tariana Turia one jot. They have conflicting messages from their constituents, and have already been punished with the loss of one of their number, and reduced votes. This is critical support that no small Party can afford. The next step would be a one-man band Party (a-la Peter Dunne, John Banks, and Jim Anderton) followed by political extinction.

On top of expectations from their constituents is a new thorn in their sides; state asset sales. The proposed sales are deeply unpopular with the majority of  the public (or so they tell the pollsters) and no less so with maori.

Sharples has consistently stated that the Maori Party are opposed to asset sales – though with the caveat that if the sales do proceed, they want Iwi Inc. to have first options to buy.

National, of course, would never have a bar of such a proposal.

On top of all this is the  convention of providing Confidence and Supply to the government.

Budgets are presented to the House for voting by all MPs. If the Budget passes, then government is assured of Supply – at least until the next Budget.  In all likelihood, National will make asset sales a central pillar  of their first Budget.

If the Budget is voted down – the government falls. If the Opposition cannot form a new government, then a snap  election is called.

Is essence, if Sharples goes ahead with his promise to oppose asset sales, he is effectively voting down the government’s Budget.

With National’s majority only a slim margin, the Maori Party would be playing a risky game of high-stakes, political poker. Excluding Maori Party support, National will have only a one seat majority in the House once the Speaker’s role is taken into account,

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With Labour a couple of seats short of being able to form a Labour-Greens-NZF-Mana-Maori Party Coalition – a fresh election is inevitable.

At best, the Maori Party could only abstain from voting for Supply for the government. That would mean National relying on Peter Dunne and John Banks to make up the numbers. Just barely.

Not exactly voting for asset sales – and not exactly opposing it, either. And all the while having to satisfy their constituents – or face an even greater voter back-lash in 2014.

At this stage, joining Winston Peters on the cross-benches; voting on legislation issue-by-issue; and hoping that Tariana Turia’s “pet-project” Whanau Ora is not canned – seems their likely option.

This may work. Until the first by-election happens – and last year there were four such by-elections.

To coalesce or not to coalesce – that is the question. Classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for a small party in Parliament.

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From our “Boggles the Mind” Files…

20 September 2011 17 comments

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Q: When is a lie fair?

A: When the Broadcasting Standards Authority sez so.

Case in point,

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A One News item that claimed MP Hone Harawira spent more on parliamentary travel than the entire Maori Party has been ruled inaccurate but fair.

The story aired on April 28 stated that the MP had “racked up a $35,000 travel bill that’s almost $4000 more than the Maori Party’s total bill”.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority found that the figure compared Parliamentary Service expenditure only, and failed to mention that Maori Party MPs also received funds from Ministerial Services.

Maori Party MPs Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia also spent $20,782 on domestic air travel from ministerial budgets, in addition to $31,658 spent the four Maori Party MPs on their parliamentary budget.

Quoting one figure and not mentioning the other was deemed misleading by the BSA.

“As the presenter stated that Mr Harawira’s travel expenses were more than the Maori Party’s ‘total’ travel bill, we consider that viewers would have been left with the impression that the figures reported constituted total travel expenditure for the period specified, and not just expenditure administered by one agency.”

The complainant Henry Clayton of Wellington also considered the item unfair to Harawira because it was misleading, but the Authority decided politicians should expect to face closer media scrutiny than other people.

“Although we have found that the presenter’s comment was misleading, we consider that, given Mr Harawira’s high profile status as an often controversial politician, he should expect to face robust criticism, especially with regard to the expenditure of public money,” said the decision.

The Authority said the news presenter’s comments related to Harawira in his professional capacity as an elected representative, and did not stray into “abusively personal territory” which is deemed unfair, even for political figures.

Source

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The background article which sparked the complaint to the BSA,

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“[1]  An item on One News, broadcast at 6pm on Thursday 28 April 2011, reported on MP Hone Harawira’s travel expenses. The presenter stated:

Figures out today show Hone Harawira racked up a $35,000 travel bill in just the first three months of the year – more than $20,000 went on air travel, $14,000 on rental cars and taxis – and that’s almost $4000 more than the Māori Party’s total travel bill. A spokesperson says Mr Harawira travelled to Hui across the country at the time due to concerns about the Māori Party’s relationship with the National Government.” Source

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Full Story

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So let me get this right… a story that is so inaccurate as to be worthless in terms of accuracy is still “fair” – according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority-  “given Mr Harawira’s high profile status as an often controversial politician, he should expect to face robust criticism, especially with regard to the expenditure of public money “?!?!

Say what?

Have I fallen down the rabbit hole to Wonderland?

If  the media has reported the BSA’s decision accurately and fairly, then this decision is astrounding and unbelievable on several levels.

Firstly. I think it not unreasonable that the public expect their media to be accurate when presenting information to us. It’s not a big thing to expect accuracy – it is what informative News and Current Affairs shows should be predicated on.

If standards of accuracy no longer apply, or are not a matter of high priority, then the credibility of News reporting has been undermined to the point where it is worthless.

Secondly. So what if Hone Harwira is a “controversial”, “high profile”, politician?  Since when should that matter one iota when we are presented with information from the media?

If anything, it behoves the News media to be even more scrupulous in presenting factual, unbiased, and complete information to the viewer/listener/reader. We, the public may well decide whop to vote for in upcoming electuions based on what the media presents to us.

There is also a matter of basic fairness and justice involved here. I don’t care if it’s Hone Harawira, Don Brash, Phil Goff, John Key, or Uncle Tom Cobbly – I think everyone deserves the basic decency of being treated fairly by the media, irrespective of being controversial or not.

Thirdly. For the BSA to arrive at a decision that it is acceptable for a news item to be “misleading” because ” the Authority decided politicians should expect to face closer media scrutiny than other people” defies understanding. Of course politicians an rightly expect “closer media scrutiny”.

But it is not beyond the realms of rationality that the public expect the media to be fair and accurate in the way that they present their information to is, the public.

For the BSA not to comprehend this most basic idea is truly disturbing. Especially so when, just recently, the BSA decided to fine a complainant $50 for a supposedly “frivolous complaint”. Full story. This despite the fact that the complainant was factually correct in his complaint.

What is also as bizarre is the Authority’s determining statement,

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd of an item on One News on 28 April 2011 breached Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[25]  Having upheld the complaint, we may make orders under sections 13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. We do not intend to do so on this occasion. In our view, the publication of this decision is sufficient to remedy the breach, and serves to remind broadcasters to take care when making comparisons of this nature.” Source

So, to clarify; the BSA accepts that the TVNZ broadcast breached standards of fairness and accuracy.

But then, they go on to state that “in our view, the publication of this decision is sufficient to remedy the breach“. A “sufficient remedy”?!

In effect, the BSA is agreeing that TVNZ brokes the rules and that the mere publication of the BSA’s decision on their website is a sufficient “remedy”.

That would be like a burglar being found guilty by a Court of Law of breaking into my home and nicking my property – but the mere fact that the Court found the burglar guilty and reported the fact is suffient “remedy”. The burglar is free to go – just don’t do it again, sez the judge.

I am fast losing all respect and confidence in the BSA and it’s increasingly bizarre decisions.

If someone makes a mistake, it behoves them to  correct it. In the case of the media, they have  wide-ranging,  considerable,  influence on the public. These influences can affect the way we perceive the world around us; social issues; our political institutions and representatives.  As such, errors that can impact on public perceptions, must be rectified.

It is worth noting that the TVNZ website reports do not contain any reference to the BSA ruling on this issue; nor any attempt to correct the mis-information contained within the reports.

Harawira tops MPs’ expenses list

The lie is therefore perpetuated.

The media have a responsibility in this matter that they must not be allowed to shirk, no matter how “minor” it may be seen by decision-makers, nor how inconvenient it might be to management and producers.  And which the BSA must take more seriously than they seem to be doing.

Otherwise the role of the BSA must be called into question.

A media report that is “inaccurate but fair” is most certainly not “fair”. Not by any reasonable definition.

I note that the Chair of the BSA is Peter Radich. May I pose a question on my blog;  is it possible that Mr Radich has a penchant for wearing women’s underwear – would that be “misleading but fair” reporting on my part?

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Text of Complaint to BSA:

Clayton and Television New Zealand Ltd – 2011-077

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