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Still someone else’s country

10 February 2013 6 comments

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Wellington, Newtown, 9 February 2013 – As the issue of state asset sales and other New Right policies are on National’s impending  agenda, the Newtown-branch of the Mana Party considered it worthwhile taking the time to look back at recent history. The events of today are firmly rooted in the past.

The New Right had taken power in Britain with the election of Margaret Thatcher in May 1979, and in the United States, with the election of Ronald Reagan in November 1980. Our turn came in July 1984, with the snap election called by an inebriated Rob Muldoon. (Intoxication on power and alcohol – not a very healthy mix.)

The Labour government that was swept to power (see: New Zealand general election, 1984) was not the Labour Party that people thought they were voting for. In total secrecy, Labour had been captured by a cabal of fanatical neo-liberal reformers. It was a government firmly under the control of  what we know today, as the ACT Party.

Twenty nine years later…

Mana’s Newtown Branch decided to hold a public screening of Alister Barry’s hard-hitting, insightful, 1996 documentary, “Someone elses’s country“. The story told within that hour-and-a-half documentary is as valid today as it was three decades ago. (In fact, watch “Someone elses’s country” and then watch Bryan Bruce’s 2011 documentary, “Inside Child Poverty in New Zealand” – and the linkages of the radical transformation of our country is all but complete.)

Prior to the screening, the audience was welcomed by Mana Newtown organisor, Ariana, who gave a brief rundown of the content and it’s impact on our society,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Someone elses's country - public screening - 9 february 2013 - Mana Party

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Many in the audience were young people who either had not been born in the 1980s, or were too young to remember the calamitous events that were unfolding. To these people, the events we now understand as Rogernomics and Ruthenasia would have been like the 1951 Waterfront Lockout dispute that rocked the nation.

Following Ariana, a brief introduction to the film was made by sitting Wellington Councillor, Bryan Pepperell,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Someone elses's country - public screening - 9 february 2013 - Mana Party

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Pepperell said,

It’s getting into it’s final stages where the agenda to actually get democracy out of the way of business is actually  now reaching a high-point.There’s an awful lot of window-dressing and democracy in New Zealand context has become that,  substantially window dressing…”

He then  shared with the audience when his first disquiet over the election of the Lange Government came to him,

When David Lange actually said on national television – and I remember the day when I sat and I watched it and I thought I can’t believe what I’m hearing – ‘from now on business is going to make the major decisions’. And that was actually a fairly startling thing as far as I was concerned… unfortunately poor old David probably got quite into something that was bigger than him, and here we are today with the consequences of those early decisions.  And of course the National Party is utterly committed to helping it’s friends further the direction that we started in.”

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The introduction completed, the screening began,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Someone elses's country - public screening - 9 february 2013 - Mana Party

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For many of us who lived through the period, memories of the time came flooding back. In some instances, several people in the audience even recognisedthemselves – with much younger faces – in stills and video footage of protest actions.

It is also worth recalling that despite calls from throughout the country,  TVNZ’s Board rejected calls for widespread broadcasting claiming it it “too political”.

“Too political”?!?!

Of course it was bloody political!

It was so damn political that TVNZ’s boardmembers would have  soiled their panties at the thought of upsetting their Ministerial masters in the Beehive.

As the doco’s producer, Alister Barry , said in November 2009,

It was no accident that Someone Else’s Country wasn’t screened on TVNZ when it was completed in 1996.

It wasn’t that the Business Roundtable needed to actually tell the TV programmers not to screen it. Television executives knew perfectly well where their salaries came from and that TVNZ was being readied for sale.

Fourteen or fifteen minutes of every television hour – the very limit of viewers’ tolerance – was filled with messages carefully and expensively constructed to reach into their fears and appetites. Clutches of advertisements urged New Zealanders to “buy”, to think and feel like frustrated consumers. Airing a documentary which led viewers to think of themselves less as consumers and more as citizens capable of taking political action was not in the interests of the big corporations controlling the advertising dollar.”

See: Someone Else’s Screen

It was not until 2003 that TVNZ finally mustered the courage to air  “Someone elses’s country” – on a Sunday afternoon. Hardly peak viewing time.

Barry also had this pointed insight to make,

It had been anticipated by New Zealand’s New Right revolutionaries, that by the early 2000s our values would have changed and we would have come to think like them, accepting poverty and extreme wealth as both normal and necessary. To pursue personal advantage and to care less about our neighbours. But studies show that in fact our values haven’t changed much from those of our parents and grandparents.
 
What is happening though, is that we are forgetting how things used to be and who changed them. Even as the human and environmental costs of the neoliberal experiment increase, we are finding it harder and harder to imagine how things could be better.

I hope you will find this film a useful antidote to forgetfulness.”

See: IBID

Which is what this country so desperately needs – an antidote to the collective amnesia which so many of our countrymen and woman so often succumb to.

As this blogger noted above; imagine the disquiet and anger that would result if  “Someone elses’s country” was broadcast at prime-time, on a major tv channel – and then followed by Bryan Bruce’s, “Inside Child Poverty in New Zealand“…

Addendum 1

The neo-liberal agenda continues. National plans to partially-privatise three power companies; a mining company; and Air New Zealand (which was privatised once before on 17 April 1989).

National is implementing a privatised form of education via “Charter Schools”.

And the economy is to be further “de-regulated”  and made the rights of foreign corporations extended.

Addendum 2

In a society run along neo-liberal lines, it becomes dangerous to upsets one’s masters investors,

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Hollywood gets heavy over Hobbit

Full story

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And shame upon shame to Jackson and his mates for aiding and abetting Hollywood’s Heavies.

What are they hiding?

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Additional Info

Mana Party

Mana Party – Feed the Kids

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Anti asset sale rally – this Wednesday 13 February

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frank kitts park no to asset sales 13 feb

Source

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“There’s always an issue of money but we can find money for the right projects” – John Key

20 January 2013 28 comments

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Key faces questions over extra Antarctica funding

Full story

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There are two issues involved with the above story.

Firstly…

The Government spends $26 million on climate research every year. The Prime Minister says that will increase.

There’s always an issue of money but we can find money for the right projects.”

Climate research is a fine endeavour, and this blogger has no problem with that.

What this blogger has a real problem with is when National’s quango’s come up with nasty suggestions like this,

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Doubt over savings from restricting ear treatment

Full story

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Or, National point-blank refuses to fund life-saving medication in instances like this,

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mum-not-prepared-to-wait-and-die

Full story

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There seems to be a multitude of “worthy causes” for National in invest our tax dollars in; subsidies for film makers such as Warner Bros; subsidies for the rugby world cup; loans for media companies (which they initially lied about); grants to businesses; advisors; consultants; staff bonuses; MPs travel expenses, and of course, salary rises for members of Parliament.

But when it comes to grommet operations for our children and medication for sick New Zealanders, the response is not quite as generous, as Tony Ryall ‘explained’ to me on 22 November last year,

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email-tony-ryall-pompe-disease-22-nov-2012

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And then explained on 5 December, explained  how he had pulled a neat little trick to fund National’s promised extension for Herception treatment, outside of PHARMAC rules,

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email-tony-ryall-pompe-disease-5-dec-2012

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(Note: in all fairness, Tony Ryall is perhaps the only Minister who has the balls to actually respond to my queries. The rest are either evasive, or like Bill English do not reply at all.)

Secondly…

In the above article at the top, TV3 reporter, Samantha Hayes, wrote,

It’s that variability New Zealand scientists want to investigate, using funds from a joint public and private venture – the newly formed Antarctic Research Institute.

See: Key faces questions over extra Antarctica funding

Pardon?

Why is the Antarctic Research Institute a “joint public and private venture”?

What does the private sector hope to gain from research by the Antarctic Research Institute?

On 21 August 2012, the NZ Herald reported,

The New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute was launched by Prime Minister John Key last night at Premier House.

It will operate as a public-private partnership.

The institute will be closely aligned to the crown entity Antarctic New Zealand and its chairman, Rob Fenwick, will chair the institute as well.

See: $5.3m gift sets up Antarctic research unit

About Mr Fenwick,

Rob Fenwick is an experienced businessman and company director with interests closely aligned to promoting sustainable development. He has had a long association with Antarctica: for nine years until 2007 he was a director and later chairman of Landcare Research, one of several CRIs involved in Antarctic research, and is a former chairman of the Antarctic Heritage Trust. In 2005 the New Zealand Geographic Society named the Fenwick Ice Piedmont in the Ross Sea for his work in Antarctica. 

He is a co-founder and director of Living Earth Ltd, New Zealand’s principal organic waste management business and is active in policy development around waste minimisation and climate change, and has been a member of several Government working groups in these areas. He is a special advisor to the Department of Conservation and was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Natural Resources, honoris causa, by Lincoln University this year.

See: antarcticanz.govt.nz/rob-fenwick

The Herald article goes on,

The institute’s director will be Professor Gary Wilson of Otago University, who said the goal was to strengthen Antarctic research capacity in New Zealand through international collaboration on research projects.

“Antarctica and the Southern Ocean hold the solutions to many of the key questions scientists and policymakers need to answer in order to manage the threats of climate change and global resource depletion.”

“Global resource depletion”…

One has to wonder what was so important that our Dear Leader, John Key, had to make the eight hour long flight – after collapsing at a Christchurch restaurant?! Surely not to return three bottles of whiskey to Shackleton’s hut??

Why is the private sector involved in a joint public and private venture with the newly formed Antarctic Research Institute? PPPs are usually formed  where there is the potential for profit by the private investor.

Or is it that Gareth Morgan has a point when he sez on his blog,

Taking care of Antarctica requires a constant diplomatic effort. John Key’s visit may look like the usual smile and wave routine, but the symbolism is much stronger. His presence is simultaneously reasserting our claim, bolstering our position at the negotiation table, and recognising the wonderful contribution the Scott Base installation has made for so long. Declaring to the world that Antarctica is important to us and we want it managed well is central to Mr Key’s visit. New Zealand has a long history of leadership in Antarctica.

See: Key Antarctica trip more than waving at penguins

Methinks there is more to this story than we’ve been told.

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Other blogs

Gareth  Morgan: Key Antarctica trip more than waving at penguins

References

Beehive Press Release

Antarctica New Zealand

Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall

Health Minister circumvents law to fulfill 2008 election bribe?

Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key – Update & more questions

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Dispatches from Planet Key…

1 December 2012 5 comments

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This week has been a busy one for Dear Leader…

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

Perhaps the most far-ranging trade agreement that New Zealand has been involved with, since CER with Australia took effect in 1983, the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) is currently under negotiation between eleven nations (including New Zealand).

Negotiations are  being held in absolute secrecy, with no Parliamentary or public oversight. Quite simply, New Zealanders have no idea what National is signing up to, until the deed is done and we are committed to god-knows-what.

There are suggestions that part of the TPPA may contain,

(1) The right of corporations to sue governments for “loss of profits”. This is no better illustrated than the recent attempt by tobacco companies to force the Australian government to back down over plans to introduce plain-packaging in that country. (See: Tobacco packaging: cigarette companies lose Australian court case)

Tobacco manufacturer, Philip Morris, moved it’s subsidiary shares from Australia to Hong Kong so as to exploit a 1993 trade agreement between the two jurisdictions and was thus able to sue the Australian government. (See:  Smoke signals: plans of Big Tobacco plain to see)

This barely-concealed attempt to exploit an obscure trade agreement should serve as a sign of things to come.

(2) Stricter intellectual property rights that may undermine Pharmac’s ability to buy cheaper, generic medicines, after patents have expired.

It is by this process that PHARMAC  can purchase cheaper drugs from overseas and pass those savings on to all New Zealanders.  The US pharmaceutical industry recognises the threat that PHARMAC poses to their profits – especially if the PHARMAC-model is adopted by other nations.

More of what pharmaceutical corporations are demanding can be found in this article, by  Keira Stephenson; TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics.

John Key recently stated,

We’re not prepared to see dairy excluded. And in terms of abolition, yeah, I mean that’s the aim. There might be a time frame under which clearly there’ll be a phase out. But in the end New Zealand can’t sign up to the TPP if it excludes our biggest export.”

See: Key says NZ won’t sign up to TPP unless dairy included

Key also said it would “not a good look” if  concessions undermined the status of  Pharmac.

See: Ibid

Unfortunately, we have good reason to be concerned. If past experience is anything to go by, John Key’s reassurances are mostly meaningless and more changeable than our weather.  Key has changed his position on matters such as,

If there is one thing we’ve come to expect from John Key – he can flip-flop on his promises and committments with all the ease of  a Nigerian scammer.

So when Dear Leader says he is committed to…

We’re not prepared to see dairy excluded. And in terms of abolition, yeah, I mean that’s the aim. There might be a time frame under which clearly there’ll be a phase out. But in the end New Zealand can’t sign up to the TPP if it excludes our biggest export “…

And,   it would “not a good look” if  concessions undermined the status of  Pharmac…

We should immediately be concerned.

The man is simply not to be trusted.

Corporate welfare

In October 2010,  Key categorically rejected spending taxpayers money on corporate welfare for the movie industry,

Mr Key reiterated that the Government was prepared to move at the margins when it came to money but it did not have an open chequebook.

He said Warner Bros were asking for “lots and we’re not offering lots”.

“If it’s just simply a matter of dollars and cents, I’m just not going to write out cheques that New Zealand can’t afford.”

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

Two years later, and our Prime Minister is dishing out taxpayers money to the movie industry like it’s growing on trees,

The Government wants to offer better incentives to get more foreign TV shows filmed in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key, in Matamata yesterday for the opening of the Green Dragon Pub at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, said attracting television series was the next step to aiding the creative industry after movie work such as Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

“Blockbuster movies are very, very large … but they have big peaks and troughs and during the troughs that’s really difficult for people working in that field, so we can fill those gaps with television,” Mr Key said.

Under Mr Key’s lead the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Film Commission and the Inland Revenue Department are jointly reviewing the incentives offered to overseas producers to film TV series in New Zealand.

See: Key talks up sweeteners for TV

And yet, on 16 September this year, Key specifically rejected all suggestions of subsidies to other industries – especially exporters – to help save jobs,

But there will always be job losses, Shane. There will always be parts of the economy where, for whatever reason, there’s a change in pattern. So years ago, we all did different things from what we’re doing today. The point for New Zealand is if we’re going to sell more to the world than we buy from the world, if we’re going to earn our way in the world and not spend more than we earn, then we have to have a highly focused, competitive economy. And we need to have three things: access to capital, access to markets and access to skilled labour.

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If I just take you back to your point, many of the countries you are pointing to that are paying out these levels of subsidies are backed up by governments that are hugely indebted. So the whole problem in Europe, the whole reason why you’re seeing countries like Spain, like Greece and right through Southern Europe in the sort of mess they are is they have huge levels of government debt. So the answer in New Zealand is not necessarily coming up with a make-work scheme funded off taxpayers’ taxes. It comes off New Zealand having a competitive industry, making sure that we have flexible labour markets, making sure that we are investing in things that will make the economy go faster, like science and innovation.”

See: TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

When it comes to holding two diametrically opposed beliefs, simultaneously, (aka ‘doublethink‘)  John Key excels.

I cannot recall any politician in the last forty years who can flip-flop so easily on any given issue.

Statistics & John Key

When the Household Labourforce survey was made public on 8 November, the data showed a dramatic leap in unemployment from 6.8% to 7.3%. (See: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high) There are now at least 175,000 people without work in this country.

Dear Leader’s response?

He rejected the figures outright, in this Fairfax story,

In the end these things bounce around quite a bit… it’s at odds with what most of the economists thought would happen. Like a lot of surveys, from time to time, it can produced usual data, let’s see what happens in the next one. But it’s not going to make the Government change tack.  These are challenging international conditions … but I don’t think we should change course I think we’re on the right track. “

See: Shock rise in unemployment to 7.3pc

On TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 November, Key was just as  reluctant to accept the HLFS results,

The Household Labour Force Survey is a survey. It’s a survey of 15,000 people. It has a quite significant margin of error and it bounces around a lot. Quite a number of the bank economists, in their review of the last number, said it’s notoriously volatile. So I can’t tell you whether it might go up a little bit or go down a little bit. What I can tell you is that’s not the relevant point. The relevant point is is the government doing everything it can to create an environment to allow businesses to create jobs?

See:  TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

Which makes it even stranger and more comical when – having trashed the reliability of the Household Labour Force Survey over the last month – he suddenly invokes the very same Household Labour Force Survey to back up his position (which depends on what day it is),

There’s always a range of different data series. QS [Quarterly Survey?] is one. That’s obviously another. Household Labour Force is another. All I can tell you is we’ve looked at [garbled gibberish] … The concensus view and that was the previous government’s view as well, is that HLFS was the best measure of the economy. Sometimes it produces numbers I don’t like. But if you look at their data series what they are saying is, in broad terms, over the last four years, the number of jobs in manufacturing is roughly about the same.” – John Key, 27 November 2012

Source: Radio NZ – PM rejects jobs statistics

It is fairly obvious to the ordinary bloke and blokette in the street that relying on John Key’s word will generally result in disappointment.

Back to Pharmac, the TPPA, and John Key’s “reassurances”

Last year, on 13 June, Fairfax reporter Nikki MacDonald wrote an excellent piece on how TPPA negotiations may impact on Pharmac’s drug-buying policies,

 Pharmac was established in 1993, to rein in rocketing drug costs and distance the government from drug-buying decisions. Its task is to spend its $710 million annual budget to achieve the best health gains for Kiwis.

Broadly, Pharmac works by referring drug-company funding applications to the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee, made up of senior doctors and pharmacists, to examine whether or not the drug is effective, and whether it is significantly better than anything else already on offer.

The committee then gives the drug a low, medium or high funding priority and Pharmac’s board decides whether or not its benefits justify the price tag.

Pharmac’s cost-benefit analysis, which takes into account average patient age and the number of good-quality years gained by the treatment (called quality adjusted life years, or QALYs), is similar to that in Australia’s scheme.

The major difference is that Australia funds everything meeting a given cost-effectiveness threshold.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has a fixed budget, so has to decide whether it can afford to fund a drug in any given year. Pharmac must also consider the opportunity cost of a funding decision – what do you sacrifice to spend $20 million on the latest cancer drug?

Pharmac uses various bargaining strategies so it can buy more for its drug dollar. These include:

Reference pricing: Where a newer, patented drug has similar benefits to a cheaper generic drug, Pharmac might subsidise the newer drug only to the same level as the lower-cost alternative. The drug company then either drops its drug price to the subsidy level, or the consumer pays the difference.

Sole-supply tenders: When a drug patent expires, Pharmac tenders to get the best price for a generic replacement. Drug companies can offer much cheaper deals because they’re assured of a large market share.

A 2004 price comparison found Australia paid up to 20 times more than New Zealand for some generic drugs, because it did not use tenders. (Legislation has now bridged some of that difference, by enforcing staged price drops for generic drugs.) A Canadian study found generic drugs were up to 93 per cent, and on average 58 per cent, cheaper in New Zealand.

Package deals: A costly new drug that works well but is not cost-effective can be funded by negotiating cheaper prices for other drugs made by the same pharmaceutical company. Glivec was funded using this method.

Negotiated contracts. On the numbers Pharmac has been spectacularly successful. In 1985, a basket of commonly prescribed drugs cost 37 per cent more in New Zealand than in Australia. Between 1993 and 2006 New Zealand’s drug spending grew by 11 per cent, while Australia’s soared by 212 per cent. Pharmac estimates its aggressive pricing policies save almost $1 billion a year.

See: Pharmac: The politics of playing god

Most New Zealands either have no idea what the potential impact on Pharmac may be, if US pharmaceutical companies get their way through TPPA negotiations – or are too busy watching the latest “Masterchef Botswana”, “X Factor Bolivia”, or gawking at a celebrity’s tits on some vacuous “reality” show.

It is only when Pharmac’s ability to buy cheap drugs is undermined by the full power of pharmaceutical companies, levied through the TPPA, and the costs for medicines suddenly doubles, trebles, quadruples, will New Zealanders wake up to the fact that we’ve been rorted.

And it all happened on the watch of  our  smiling, waving, Prime Minister – that ever so-nice Mr Key.

By then it will be too late.

So when Key  reassures New Zealanders that,

“…it would “not a good look” if New Zealand made concessions that undermined the status of its drug-buying agency, Pharmac.”

See: Mr Key, reiterated today NZ will not sign the Trans Pacific Partnership unless it provides for the abolition of tariffs on agriculture

See: No TPP deal unless dairy and Pharmac are in, says Key

See: TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics

… it is time to be worried.

Like all his other assurances, pledges, promises, and committments that have been broken or backtracked, our Prime Minister is not a man who stands by his word.

When it comes to the health of our economy, he has failed.

Let’s not allow him to do the same to our own health.

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Sources

US free-trade deal suspect (19 Dec 2010)

Pharmac: The politics of playing god (13 June 2011)

Pharmac faces trade ‘threat’ (26 Oct 2011)

Leaked TPPA document leaves NZ position on software patents unclear (22 June 2012)

Leaked document on Investor Rights to sue sovereign governments

No TPP deal unless dairy and Pharmac are in – Key (26 Nov 2012)

TPPA could ‘gut’ Pharmac, say critics (29 Nov 2012)

Navigating the choppy waters of the TPP (1 Dec 2012)

Right Wing Reaction

Anti-trade camp running debate (28 Nov 2012)

Other blogs

The Standard: TPP Negotiations Auckland next week

Tumeke: Citizen A TPP special with Professor Jane Kelsey & Lori Wallach

Gordon Campbell: Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: TPP in crisis?

Werewolf: Into The Cave of Dreams – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: Selling the Farm – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: The Neutering Of Pharmac – Trans Pacific Partnership

Werewolf: Head First Into The Spaghetti Bowl – Trans Pacific Partnership

Public Citizen: Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda

It’s Our Future

Groups

TPPA Action Group

Additional

NBR:  OPINION: TPP – Groser trades away tech to save agriculture

Fairfax:  CTU seeks answers over trade agreement

NBR:  Govt accused of ‘sellout’ on trade pact negotiations

NBR:  NZ must stay staunch on TPP

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Key: When I say ‘no’, I mean ‘no’. Maybe.

4 October 2012 7 comments

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Two years ago, what should have been a relatively minor industrial negotiation between Actor’s Equity and and SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association) turned into a major incident, both local and international.

The dispute swelled into a mass-panic as New Zealanders’ believed that they were about to lose their precious – the ‘Hobbit‘ movies. There was talk of production moving to Australia (which is evenly more heavily unionised than NZ) or Eastern Europe, or Outer Mongolia or wherever.

Tension escalated. Death threats were made. Union officials were harassed and threatened. Hysteria reached moral-panic proportions not seen since the 1981 Springbok Tour Days.

Then, on 27 October 2010, the Wide Boys from Hollywood rode into town. Their boy, John Key, was on hand to greet them and taxpayer funded limousines were made available to chauffeur the Warner Bro’s to Premier House,

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Warner Brothers executives arrive to meet with Prime Minister John Key and other ministers at Premier House. Photo / NZPA

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See: Govt paid $6000 limo tab for Warner Bros in Hobbit talks

It was High Stakes time (or so we were led to believe). It was actually more like Herding Sheep time.

And we were the sheep.

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

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

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

Tax rebates will also be changed for Warner Bros, which will mean up to an extra US$7.5m per movie for Warner Bros, subject to the success of the movies…

… The Government will offset US$10 million of Warner Bros’ marketing costs as part of the strategic partnership. ” – Source

As Key lamely explained,

It was commercial reality. We did the business.” – Source

Two years later, Key is once again off to meet with Warner Bros as well as other Hollywood execs,

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Every time Key consorts with Corporate Wide Boys, we end up paying, one way or another. So how much will it cost us this time, Dear Leader? What are you preparing to give away now?

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Addendum

The Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson released a statement and his wife and film partner Fran Walsh overnight saying the film’s producer, Hollywood studio Warner Bros, was concerned at the ongoing dispute and preparing to move production away from New Zealand.” – 21 October 2010

See: Brownlee hits out over ‘dreadful’ Hobbit dispute

An email from Sir Peter Jackson shows union action had nothing to do with Warner Bros.’ decision on whether or not The Hobbit would be filmed in New Zealand, says Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly.” – 21 January 2011

See: Union: Protest did not affect Hobbit decision

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Sources

NZ Herald: PM – I’m not going to write cheques NZ can’t afford (11.45AM, 27 Oct 2010)

NZ Herald: Hobbit to stay in NZ (7.38PM, 27 Oct 2010)

NBR: Key on Hobbit deal: ‘It was commercial reality. We did the business.’  (31 Oct 2010)

Fairfax: PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting   (19 July 2011)

Radio NZ: No extra incentives for US movie companies, says PM (2 Oct 2012)

Additional

Labour vows to repeal Hobbit law

Update

TV3: Copyright lobbyist on Key’s Hollywood agenda (4 Oct 2012)

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Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

20 April 2012 2 comments

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2010

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"If we ended up in a position where New Zealanders are tenants in their own country, I can't see how that would be in New Zealand's best interests." - John Key, 27 July 2010

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2012

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"No where is that better illustrated than in the Crafar farm deal where the tenant will be a Government state-owned enterprise, Landcorp." - John Key, 2 February 2012

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As this blogger predicted and wrote five days ago, National has caved to the  Wide Boys from Beijing who rode in to town on 15 April,

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China's no4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff
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The loss of the Crafar farms – and other farms sold to foreign investors – is not just about loss of direct ownership. It is about losing the profits that all those farms will generate, to overseas investors.

The flight of profits to offshore investors began in the late 1980s when Doulas, Prebble, Bassett, et al hocked of our former state owned enterprises. As with farms, we didn’t just lose ownership – we lost the income streams they generated. (Which worsened our balance of payments deficit and in turn made borrowing from overseas much more expensive.)

National did precisely the same thing on 27 October 2010, when Warner Bros sent their ‘boys’ in to ‘persuade’ John Key to ‘see things their way’.  Two months later,  it was revealed that Warner Brothers had threatened our government that  ‘The Hobbit’ movies  would be taken offshore if  changes to New Zealand’s employment laws were not made according to their demands.

This time, it was our Chinese cuzzies visiting  New Zealand – this time threatening our trade with their country, “if we don’t see things their way”.

National capitulated on both occassions, yielding to threats made first by a corporation, and then by a foreign power.

In the case of Sky City and the proposed Auckland Convention Centre, the tactics are more akin to bribery; building a convention centre in return for changing the gambling laws so the casino can install up to 500 more gaming machines (pokies). Problem gambling is expected to rise commensurately.

If the reader is starting to pick up a common theme here, you’re not alone.

New Zealand has a government willing to prostitute the country; our assets; our laws – in return for financial gain. This is perhaps the shabbiest, most degrading government we have ever elected. If New Zealanders are not angry and repulsed  by what we’ve all be witnessing – then we’ve all lost our collective senses.

The question I ask every New Zealander is; who will be next to come to Wellington; knock on John Key’s door; and announce, “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse!”

What will be sold next?

What laws will we have to change to satisfy some corporatation or foreign power?

Is this what it feels like to be a Latin American “banana republic”?

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2014

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An incoming centre-left government  must address these issues of sovereignty. We cannot allow every foreign Tom, Dick, and Harriet to take ownership of our most precious resources and to dictate what laws we must amend to satisfy their profit-line.

This must stop.

An incoming government must, immediatly,

  • ban the sale of all land to non-New Zealanders
  • non-farming land may be leased to overseas businesses,  but not sold
  • farmland must not be sold nor leased to non-New Zealanders
  • conduct a stocktake of land ownership at the next Census
  • land already in foreign ownership may not be on-sold to anyone except New Zealanders
  • introduce a capital gains tax
  • introduce a Financial Transactions tax  in conjunction with Australia and our APEC partners
  • introduce a sinking-lid policy on gaming machines with a view to banning them altogether by 2017
  • implement job-creation programmes (eg; free vocational training for able-bodied unemployed; building 10,000 new state-houses, etc)
  • introducing a land/wealth-tax to capture those 1% who pay little tax, because they can hide their wealth by structuring their affairs to escape paying their fair share
  • reinstate Kiwisaver’s previous provisions (scrapped by National) and make it compulsory

Part of the problem we face as a nation and economy is that New Zealanders have always been poor savers. Instead we prefer to borrow billions from offshore lenders and invest it in non-productive assets such as rental housing and investment farms. This speculative investment does not create wealth – we simply  shuffle money around like some mad reality-game of “Monopoly”,

” There has been a big reduction in household debt,  from 154 per cent of gross domestic product, and one of the highest levels in the world three years ago, to 144 per cent now. ” – Source

In the process of this reckless self-indulgence (promoted by certain irresponsible right wingers who delude themselves that is “wealth creation”), we are heavily in debt,

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Treasury

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Further to that, it makes us reliant on overseas capital.

In fact, it makes us totally  vulnerable to those  who hold the capital. We are at the mercies of those who hold the money-bags.

And they know it.

What makes matters even worse (yes, it gets worse) is that a National, once elected, exacerbates the problem with it’s blind adherence to free-market policies. National believes that only the free market can create jobs – with a little ‘nudge’, occassionally, by amending laws; reducing taxes; and implementing de facto subsidies. And anything else business wants.

In expecting only business to create jobs, National ties its own hands and becomes reliant on the markets for employment solutions. Unfortunately, those solutions are not always forthcoming.

Which means that National has to look at other, dubious, unconventional means to promote job creation. Such as the Sky City-Convention centre deal which might deliver more jobs – but will almost certainly create more problem gambling.

Who pays for more problem gambling? Answer; look in the mirror, Mr/Ms Taxpayer.

The sale of the Crafar farms; the dirty deals with Sky City and Warner Bros; our vulnerability to pressure from overseas investors are all symptoms of an economic malaise which the likes of Bernard Hickey, Gareth Morgan, Rod Oram,  and others have constantly warned us about.

Like the person who ignores the several “Warning” letters from debt-collctors – that is only postponing the Day of Reckoning.  New Zealanders are ignoring our own Day of Reckoning – and yet the warning signs of our gradual loss of economic sovereignty is fairly plain to see.

Whether we do something about it; abandon the lunacy of neo-liberalism;  implement planned policies that encourage saving; promote job creation; etc – then everything we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks, months, and years will be only a prelude to more unpleasant things to come.

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2050

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A young student at Levin University is scrolling through the results of his on-line search for ‘farms-history-new zealand-colonisation’ and finds the information he is looking for. He turns to his study-mate, and says,

Hey, it’s true what my grand dad told me. Farms used to be owned by New Zealand families back in his day!”

His study mate looks up from his ‘ii-Pad’ and peers at his friend’s pad,

Yeah? I wonder how they could afford it? No one can afford to buy land  unless you’re really rich or a big Corpora-State.”

Dunno“, replies the first student, “It looks like land prices weren’t that expensive , and then they started to rise when Earth’s population reached 6 billion.”

Wow! They really owned farmland? They’re so lucky. I wish we could buy our own farm!”

Well, at least we get to work on them. Once I finish my Degree in McDonalds Beefculture, I’m applying for a job at the ’14th Manawatu Herd-Complex’. Are you still going for the Shanghai Agricorp in King Country?”

Nah. I’m thinking I might change and apply for the Nestle Agriplex in Otago or Southland. They don’t pay as well, but they teach you German as part of the contract. The Shanghai Agricorp want me to learn Cantonese at my own cost.”

His study mate dims the screen on his ii-Pad and asks his friend,

Are you studying this weekend or doing some workpractice at McD’s?”

Nah. I’m going to see my family. It’s my ninth birthday, and we’ve hired a blanketspace at my favourite park...”

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That was a bit of fiction. So far.

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References

Rich list shows rich getting richer

NZ dollar soars on speculation of Chinese investment

Numbers reveal National disgrace

Bryan Gould: Free-market ideology wrong

Debt being paid off, but savings not growing

Bernard Hickey:  the High Court ruling against the Crafar Farms sale may be just the intervention NZ Inc needs to confont its addiction to foreign debt and asset sales

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= fs =

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis…

15 April 2012 1 comment

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Fancy a good time, handsome? *winks*

First, it began with the Wide Boys flying in from Hollywood, to read Dear Leader the proverbial Riot Act,

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Source
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John Key was firm in stating; there’d be no extra deals made with Warner Bros; no extra incentives, tax breaks, sweet-heart deals; nothing.

$34 million later, Warner Bros left town.

It was a very generous deal,” Mr Key said.

So much for “no extra deals”.

(Funny thing though. I’m no expert, but isn’t it supposed to be the other way round, if we’re going to prostitute ourselves? Aren’t they suppose to pay us?!)

The trouble with prostituting ourselves to Big Boy corporations overseas is that, eventually, we get others knocking on our doors,

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China's No4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff  - Dominion Post - 14 April 2012

China's No4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff - Dominion Post - 14 April 2012

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Interestingly, this article cannot be found on the Fairfax website, Stuff.Co.NZ. Almost as it… someone didn’t want our Chinese cuzzies from seeing it online?!

But yet again, we’re seeing a bunch of Wide Boys ride into town. No doubt they have a “message” for Dear Leader (our Dear Leader – not the North Korean bloke) and no doubt he’ll pay careful attention to their “suggestions”; take notes; and smile benignly at them.

After which, this blogger expects the Crafar Farm sale to go though unimpeded to the  Shanghai Pengxin company.

And after that, expect our gambling legislation to be amended by National, to allow an extra 500 pokie machines at Sky City casino. In return for the “pay off”, a convention centre.

If anyone has ever wondered what it’s like to have your own government turn our own country into one, giant, corporate brothel, where we sell ourselves to Hollywood moguls, foreign governments, casino operators, et al – then wonder no more.

Funny thing, though…

When prostitution (or more technically, solicitation) was legalised in 2002, I never though our Prime Minister would become the Pimp Minister and sell us to the highest overseas (or local) bidder.

I think “business” is going to be brisk.

I need to buy more lube.

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Additional

NZ Herald:  China wants NZ to ease the way for investment

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= fs =

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

4 April 2012 2 comments

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Further to my Blogpiece – Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries? – we can now add prostitution to tobacco and gambling as New Zealand’s new growth industry,

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Full Story

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According to the Herald story, the 15-story brothel will consist of the following,

  • The owners want to build 15-storey tower building on the site of the Palace Hotel.
  • It would be used for a mix of activities including a brothel, Penthouse Club, hotel and offices.
  • The first two levels of the black-toned glass building will be blank and layered by a LED screen mesh facing Victoria St.

Which should give “work” to a few dozen women as sex-workers? Let’s make an estimated guess;  fifty women working at this  ‘Mega Brothel’.

Plus 50 new jobs at the expanded cigarette plant in Petone.

Plus an estimated 1,000 jobs building Skycity’s convention centre.

Plus 900 estimated jobs staffing the new convention centre.

50

+ 50

+1,000

+900

_______

= 2,000

_______

Excellent! Two thousand new jobs. All we have to do is,

  • Train up 50 of our daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends to be prostitutes
  • Manufacture and  export a lethal product that kills people
  • Expand a casino so we can have more problem gamblers

Two thousand new jobs. That should go some way to creating the 170,000 new jobs that John Key promised us last year,

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Full Story

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I guess we can look forward  to  Dear Leader’s  promise  of  ‘ A Brighter Future “?

Though maybe not. The 2,000 jobs above are more than  cancelled out by the 2,500 state sector workers sacked through this government’s fanatical cost-cutting exercise. So no gain there.

National will have to oversee more casino expansions; more Mega Brothels built; and maybe a few dozen more cigarette manufacturers, breweries, and distilleries. We’ll have those 170,000 new jobs,quick-smart!

I wonder though –  will WINZ be sending unemployed women to apply for jobs at brothels, or risk losing their benefits?

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Postscript: This blogpiece is not meant as criticism of the Prostitution Law Reform Act 2002, nor of those men and women who work in the sex industry.  This blogger is critical of an economic policy that results in few job opportunities except in ‘vices’, and which seems to be this country’s only current growth industry.

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Other Blog’s  Posts

Does it sicken anyone else listening to our Prime Minister defend gambling?

Additional

Govt folds for SkyCity

Green Party: Gambling Policy Summary

Tumeke: Sky City to gain $25 million from 350 more pokies in dirty deal with Government

NZ Herald: Axe tobacco, ban cigarette exports – health professor

NZ Herald: ‘Big Tobacco’ on trial  – Canada’s biggest-ever lawsuit

NZ Herald: Government gets big bucks for bad habits

NZ Herald: Public urged to give input on Auckland high-rise brothel

Scoop.co.nz:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

Dominion Post: Will Key become Johnny-no-friends?

NZ Herald: Sky casino wants more cashless gambling

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