The Jackal: May 2012

31 May 2012

Idiot in charge of education

Minister for Education and all round fashion disaster Hekia Parata has undertaken a huge flip-flop concerning policy changes outlined in National's zero budget.

After copping flak about increased class sizes, which will result in fewer teachers, Parata now claims that there will be a transition period paid for by a mystical contingency fund and no school will lose more than two teachers.

Today, One News reported:

PPTA President Robin Duff said the cuts amounted to a $300 million claw back of school staffing over the next five years.

He said technology education would take a hit in particular.

"Subject options will have to be cut and area schools and junior high schools will no longer be able to function the way they were designed to operate."

The Government has already altered its original policy this week and said that no more than two full-time teaching staff would be lost at any school in the next three years.

Duff rejects Parata's claim that the fewer cuts was "good news".

"Losing one teacher is a bad thing for any school, losing two will be a disaster for most."

Duff said arguments that the cuts were designed to improve teacher quality were "fundamentally dishonest" as the evidence showed Treasury and Government had been preparing for them since well before the 2011 election.

It's completely ludicrous that Parata thinks cutting teacher numbers is somehow a positive thing, when every study shows that fewer students per teacher equals better outcomes.

This clearly shows that National is not undertaking their budget cuts with appropriate care and they simply don't give a damn about the effects of their badly researched austerity measures.

Here's what the idiot Minister of Education said on Tuesday:

Iain Lees-Galloway: How is it fair for small intermediate schools to lose the same number of teachers as large intermediate schools, which is what her new, ad hoc plan that she made up on the way to the House will implement?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: We wrote on Budget day to all schools, telling them that a transition plan would be put into place and that we would work with each of them. In the interests of providing certainty now, we have provided the guarantee that no school will lose more than two full-time teacher equivalents, and 90 percent will not lose any more than one full-time teacher equivalent. This is good news.

Yesterday, Parata again tried to avoid answering direct questions on the matter, but eventually confirmed that she did not have advice concerning the impact on specific schools.


Having to make changes to and effectively re-write the budget before the inks even dry is gross incompetence that only a National government could display.

Hekia Parata doesn't even know how many teachers overall will lose their jobs because of National's destructive policy changes, yet can still claim that teaching outcomes are going to improve.

No wonder teachers and parents are up in arms.

30 May 2012

Ray Sharp - Asshole of the Week

On monday, the NZ Herald reported:

University of Canterbury toxicology professor Ian Shaw told APNZ the news had the potential to do "huge" damage to the industry's reputation.

"If we now taint our export markets with the potential for illegal chemicals being in kiwifruit we could destroy the industry altogether. I can't understand the rationale of people doing this, it just makes no sense," he said.

Some people were allergic to the antibiotics and could become seriously ill if they got a dose in their food - potentially a great deterrence to foreign buyers.

"If you spray really early on, before the fruit flowers form, by the time you get to the fruit stage all the antibiotic is gone.

"But the naughty farmers that are illegally using streptomycin are injecting it into the vines at a much later stage which means that the fruit will contain residues."

The illegal use of streptomycin also had the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, he said.

It's not just people's health that has been put at risk here by what is a highly dangerous practice, it's an industry worth over $1.3 billion in export dollars each year, making this one of the biggest cock-ups in New Zealands horticultural history.

On Tuesday, the Nelson Mail reported:

Kiwifruit growers who have admitted to illegally injecting their vines with the antibiotic streptomycin in a bid to combat the devastating Psa-V virus should be prosecuted, says a Nelson industry leader.

Mainland Kiwi Growers chairman Rod Fry said today the unlawful actions of up to 50 Bay of Plenty growers, including former Zespri director Ray Sharp, had the potential to damage New Zealand's reputation and its markets because of fears the antibiotic could get into the food chain and eventually cause humans to form immunity to medicines.

Those who hadn't played by the rules were "dickheads" who deserved to be penalised, he said.

And the biggest dickhead of them all is EastPack director Ray Sharp.

What makes this so despicable is that Sharp is so sure he isn't going to be charged, that he's announced his crime like it's nothing. This idiot would have known he was breaking the law but did it anyway.

The Minister for Primary Industries David Carter and Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson have both come out with assurances that no contaminated kiwifruit will be sold or exported, but they fail to acknowledge that proper testing only began after the scandal broke.

People who are effected wont even realize the cause of their increased resistance to antibiotics let alone be able to prove an association with the kiwifruit they've consumed, so I guess the ministers and growers are safe in their lies.

There's been no assurance that streptomycin contaminated kiwifruit hasn't already been sold on the local market either, and what's more defective kiwifruit isn't just dumped, it's fed to pigs. The effects on them will be the same as humans.

As Director of Zespri at the time the crimes were committed, it's likely that many of the other growers simply followed Sharps lead. So for putting people's health at risk and cutting millions of dollars off our export earnings, Ray Sharp is most definitely an asshole!

29 May 2012

Increasing poverty

Today, the Waikato Times reported:

Children living in poverty are taking desperate measures to feed and clothe themselves at Waikato schools as families struggle to provide for their most basic needs.

In one case, a young boy without a winter jersey was told to steal one from the lost property by his mum because she couldn't afford to buy one, and another principal caught a child scavenging through rubbish bins for food. Experts warn that, with winter approaching, the problem will only get worse.

Rhode Street School principal Shane Ngatai said he was disturbed to hear a boy at his school had been told to steal a winter jersey, or go without.

"We're seeing a number of them getting pinched," he said. Kids are also coming to school wearing worn out shoes or barefoot, and hungry.

Auckland Now also reported:

At least 1000 Auckland children are "lost" to the education system with 70 per cent of youth offenders not engaged with school at all, a new report reveals.

Poverty is so bad some children are growing up sharing small homes with other families - one family to a room.

The sad findings are contained in a report to Mayor Len Brown, called The Children and Young People of Auckland, which includes insights from a Youth Court judge, the office of the Children's Commissioner and youth panels and advocacy groups.

Clearly there's no brighter future for poor people in New Zealand under the current government. In fact things are getting decidedly worse with the failed policy direction of National's socially destructive agenda.

That's because the Prime Minister John Key is a conscience free zone, with fake concern only skin deep. His sincerity is all media training, and I sometimes wonder if he's a human being at all?

The Children and Young People of Auckland (PDF).

Tony Blair is a war criminal



Today, the Belfast Telegraph reported:

Mr Blair’s evidence will also be remembered for a protester bursting into the inquiry and yelling: “This man should be arrested for war crimes.”

The intruder, who told reporters his name was David Lawley-Wakelin, managed to evade security and access the courtroom through a back corridor.

He was eventually wrestled to the ground by three men, ejected from the courtroom and arrested.

Tony Blair later denied the allegations, and his crimes against humanity will likely continue to be brushed under the carpet.

National fails to warm up NZ

Today, the Otago Daily Times reported:

The Government has not committed any new money to a housing insulation scheme despite reports showing it had provided $1.2 billion in health benefits - a four-fold return on its funding.

A series of studies commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development said the $347 million Warm Up New Zealand programme, which subsidised the cost of insulation and heating homes, had generated significant health benefits since its introduction in 2009.

University of Otago researchers found that households which had installed insulation had cut their hospital and prescription costs.

In research published yesterday, it was also estimated that the scheme had prevented 18 deaths among people 65 or older who had previously been hospitalised with respiratory illness.

The combined benefits of reduced mortality and illness, and increased energy efficiency, was measured at $1.58 billion over nearly four years. More than 99 per cent of the economic benefits came from reduced health costs.

Warm Up NZ was the result of a National-Greens agreement in 2009. Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said its economic rewards were evident.

Well that's not exactly correct... Warm up NZ is a Greens initiative that was first supported by Labour, and then National continued the scheme because it would've been unpopular to can it. It's a bit silly how other political parties have been claiming it as their idea... even Pita Sharples from the Maori party was saying it was theirs just last week. What a dork!

You've got to wonder why National doesn't increase the scope of such initiatives that have obvious benefits. In this case it's been shown to be far more cost effective than simply letting people get sick from cold houses... and that's before you even factor in things like lost production and the negative psychological effects of illness.

National wouldn't just cruel for not extended the scheme, they would be fiscally irresponsible as well... but what else is new?

28 May 2012

National prefers rhetoric to reality

Today, Radio NZ reported:

A report issued weeks before a global summit claims New Zealand has failed to meet any of the major commitments agreed to at the world's largest environment conference 20 years ago.

The World Wildlife Fund has collated its report as world leaders prepare to head to Brazil to report back on what has been achieved since the Earth Summit in 1992.

New Zealand along with 178 other countries made a commitment to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and protect water quality, biodiversity and fisheries.

WWF executive director for New Zealand Chris Howe says New Zealand has failed to meet even one of those commitments.

The two most startling failures featured in the report are a 20% rise in emissions and a quadrupling in the number of threatened species to almost 4000.

Mr Howe says this should serve as a wake-up call to New Zealanders and encourage them to lobby the Government for better environmental legislation.

The problem is that they aren't listening. The rest of the article is filled with the usual rhetoric from rightwing spin doctors, in this case Amy Adams. She doesn't believe the report and claims New Zealand is doing well in terms of our international obligations, which is complete rubbish!

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of species extinction in the world, and has reneged on commitments made at Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen and Cancun. National's denial of reality and its continued reliance on propaganda to keep the public uninformed has to end.

27 May 2012

NZ Herald - Advertiser of the year 2012

Last Week, the NZ Herald reported:

nzherald.co.nz has been named best website for the fourth time in five years.

And the Weekend Herald is Newspaper of the Year - again.

These were two of the high points of an impressive performance at the Canon Media Awards last night for New Zealand Herald titles, including 12 wins - about a third of the total in the newspaper categories - plus four for nzherald.co.nz.

That's nice... pity we're paying for all that advertising:

Click image to enlarge
H/T Chris Glen

Murray McCully hang your head in shame

On Friday, Voxy reported:

The New Zealand Government has reneged on aid commitments to the world's poorest people, by cutting $133 million from its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget over the next three years.

In 2000 New Zealand stood shoulder to shoulder with 188 other world leaders to commit to the Millennium Development Goals, a 15-year global plan to tackle poverty. As part of this commitment, we agreed to increase aid spending to 0.7% of Gross National Income. Yesterday's budget cuts will see New Zealand's commitment fall to 0.24% by 2014-15 - way behind other OECD countries.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ, said, "As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, New Zealand should be increasing aid not delivering a budget surplus on the backs of the world's poorest people.

"New Zealanders are amongst the most generous individual givers in the world - our government needs to reflect the attitudes of Kiwis in its aid policy. We can't ignore that 75% of the world's poorest people live in our Asia-Pacific neighbourhood. Food insecurity, climate change, natural disasters and the impact of a fragile global economy are all taking their toll on the world's poor. There could not be a worse time to turn our backs on those who need us most.

This is despite Murray McCully making assurances in 2009 that foreign aid would not be cut further. While serious food shortages continue around the world with approximately 15 million children dying of hunger per year, National's callous cuts to the ODA budget are allowing people to die.

As Minster of Foreign Affairs, McCully has blood on his hands and should hang his head in shame. Disregarding our international obligations is an insult to the generous nature of Kiwi's that has made this country great. But thanks to National, we can no longer feel proud and New Zealand has become an international disgrace!

National does not represent the good people of New Zealand.

26 May 2012

Rena disaster - who's really to blame

Today, TV3 reported:

The owners of the Rena should share the blame for the disaster that led to two Filipino seamen being jailed, says a Philippines-based seafarers group.

Captain Mauro Balomaga, 44, and navigation officer Leonil Relon, 37, were jailed for seven months each yesterday on a raft of charges laid after the 37,000-tonne Liberian-flagged cargo ship struck Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga in October last year.

In what became New Zealand's worst environmental disaster, the Rena spilled about 360 tonnes of heavy fuel oil into the sea, which washed up on local beaches and killed wildlife.
Containers were washed overboard and clean-up crews are still picking up debris from the wreck, which broke apart in January after being pounded by heavy seas.

Investigators should look into the possibility the ship owners had ordered Balomaga to alter course to save fuel, Edwin de la Cruz, president of the Manila advocacy group International Seafarers' Action Centre, told AFP.

"The captain should not be made a scapegoat... the act of the captain is the act of shipowners."

[...]

Maritime Union general secretary Joe Fleetwood agreed with the suggestion the disaster was not purely the fault of the two men.

New Zealand had deregulated its shipping industry and now relied on international lines - many using flags of convenience - for its coastal cargo system, he said.

He did not think New Zealand would return to the days of having its own ships serving its ports, and predicted there would only be a "band-aid" response to prevent a disaster like the Rena happening again.

When National deregulated the shipping industry in the 1990's with their so-called “open coast” policy changes, they effectively set New Zealand on a course of increased accidents, reduced port security and the exploitation of crews on flag of convenience ships.

It's exactly the same thing that happened with the mining industry, where greedy corporates and National's deregulation have reduced safety and oversight that's led to disasters like Pike River.

The failed free-market ideology that National blindly follows and greedy multinational's are just as much to blame as those idiots Captain Mauro Balomaga and navigational officer Leonil Relon who piloted the MV Rena into the Astrolabe reef.

While the local communities along the East coast have bore the brunt of the disaster, officials continue to blunder and the recovery mission slows as public scrutiny diminishes, leaving a poisonous shipwreck as a lasting monument to National's incompetence.

John Hansen - Asshole of the Week

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Prison sentences handed down to "Urewera Four" members Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara are "completely over the top", leaders of central North Island iwi Ngati Manawa say.

Iti and Kemara, along with Urs Signer and Emily Bailey, were found guilty of unlawful possession of military-style firearms and Molotov cocktails at training camps held in the Urewera Ranges in 2006 and 2007.

Iti and Kemara were sentenced to 2-1/2 years jail and Signer and Bailey had their sentences adjourned but home detention was signalled when they appeared in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.

Justice Hansen said that despite a "Dad's Army" aspect to the camps, their intent was serious.

"As I view the evidence, in effect, a private militia was being established. Whatever the justification, that is a frightening prospect in our society, undermining of our democratic institutions and anathema to our way of life."

Justice Hansen said there was no excuse for criminal offending even when a group had "altruistic motives".

He said in different circumstances the four would likely have faced five to six years in prison.

"But I regard it as highly relevant that the offending was not gang-related or associated with what I might call 'conventional' avenues of criminal activity. On the contrary, it occurred in pursuit of a worthy ideal and, perhaps most significantly, involved only a remote risk that it would lead to crimes of violence."

This is a complete travesty of justice. Not only has Hansen handed down prison sentences that are unprecedented in such cases, he has sidelined the juries decision and incorporated evidence that was previously ruled inadmissible.

But if that wasn't bad enough, he dismissed evidence presented by defence lawyers for no apparent reason other than he didn't like it. Hansen has obviously based his callous decision on police propaganda and relied on the inordinate argument of crown prosecutors, which has been proven to be a complete farce!

While the dog whistle of terrorism reverberates around the empty skulls of racist bigots, a judge is meant to be free from such prejudices. Justice Hansen is obviously not, and for that he is most assuredly an asshole! Hansen should not be in a position to decide the fate of others.

Budget spin

To justify all the budget cuts National is currently undertaking, yesterday John Key said:

We've maintained working for families; interest free student loans; we've insulated hundreds thousands of homes; we've doubled the amount money going to rheumatic fever. I don't think by any measure people can seriously say that this isn't a government that is really trying to help all sectors of the of the community.

Well that makes it all OK then eh John!

But seriously now... Along with increasing inequality which is causing a prevalence of third world diseases, National are going to tax kids, increase class sizes, implement harsher asset testing for elderly in residential care, extend work testing for the DPB, put a freeze on funding for Early Childhood Education, make student loan repayments tougher, remove student allowances for all post-graduate study and increase prescription charges.

Basically Key is saying it's OK that National has punched the country in the guts, because they haven't kicked New Zealander's in the head... yet!

I want you to riot

Yesterday, the Dominion Post reported:

English this morning told a business audience at the ANZ post-Budget breakfast in Wellington that most people thought students "got a pretty fair go" and they "should count themselves lucky that they've still got interest free loans".

"Yes, there's a protest movement out there but who's really listening to them?" English said, in response to a question from the audience.

"They get on TV and they can make a bit of a racket ... dragging a few rubbish bins around, they need some Greeks to show them how to do it," he said.

"It gets reported, mainly because it blocked the traffic, [but] who's listening? Most people actually think the students got a pretty fair go and they should count themselves lucky that they've still got interest free loans and get on with it because, you know, get your training finished and get a job and start contributing."

What a condescending dickhead! National might not be listening to the protestors but there are plenty of New Zealander's who are. Taunting them to undertake violence in the streets en masse is about as stupid as it gets. Take your fingers out of your arrogant rightwing ears Bill English.




25 May 2012

Apache's negligence under fire

Yesterday, the West Australian reported:

Investigators examining the catastrophic 2008 Varanus Island gas explosion which crippled the State's gas supply have contradicted claims by plant operator Apache that the disaster was unforseen and unforeseeable.

The long awaited report into the explosion was tabled in State Parliament this morning.

Apache, a subsidiary of American energy giant Apache Corporation, has waged a long legal battle to keep secret the June 2009 report into the explosion.

The company took full advantage of Mines Minister Norman Moore’s undertaking that he would not release the 470-page report until it had responded to it, providing him with 5000 pages of documents which he painstakingly reviewed.

Addressing the legislative council this morning, Mr Moore said it was finally time for the WA public to be fully informed about the disaster.

More than $60 million damage was caused to the plant and $3 billion to the WA economy.

A high-pressure, 30cm gas pipeline critically weakened by external corrosion ruptured and exploded on the beach of Varanus Island, setting off a string of other explosions.

The report, authored by David Agostini and Kym Bills found there was “a range of documentation that should have alerted the operator (Apache) to serious risks involving external corrosion around the shore crossing of the 12 inch (30.5cm)(pipe) where it ruptured”.

A third of WA’s energy supply was cut after the explosions.

What makes this so ridiculous is that Apache has tried to suppress information about the Varanus Island gas explosion because they say releasing it would "aid terrorist attacks on gas infrastructure."

This is obvious complete and utter rubbish and the only reason Apache want to keep it all hush hush is because they're liable for costs associated with the explosion... Well at least you would think so:

A criminal prosecution of Apache for failing to maintain the Varanus Island gas pipeline was abandoned in April because of legal technicalities, including a 20-year-old variation document using the term “pipeworks” rather than “pipeline”.

Dodging the multi-million dollar compensation claims bullet on a technicality must have been a super human feet of legal manipulation indeed.

Such incidents are a clear indication that infrastructure associated with the gas industry is not maintained properly, safeguards are not adhered to and the entire sector needs a good kick up the backside to ensure safety is prioritised.

Unfortunately without any financial penalty being imposed, Apache will continue to put profits before proper maintenance... and as usual the people and the environment are the ones to pay.

Here's the report: http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/salesinfo/varanusinquiry.pdf

Australia looks better every day

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Students and the disabled will be the biggest losers among a multitude of small cuts across the gargantuan welfare bureaucracy that will help fund new services for jobless youth.

Student allowances are being trimmed by $47.7 million (7.4 per cent) in the coming year, mainly because of a pre-announced decision to limit allowances to 200 weeks, shutting out many postgraduate students.

Disability allowances will be cut by $37 million (9.2 per cent) by removing funding for some medicines and alternative treatments, cutting funded services for beneficiaries and reducing numbers getting the allowance.

The Budget also almost halves job subsidies, from $40 million to $22 million, cuts family services by a net $7 million, and saves $20 million from a long list of small "efficiency savings", mostly in administration.

So the Natz are ensuring that less poor people will be able to attain a higher education, effectively making education a reserve of the privileged few who can afford it. The jumped up little rightwing fascists are also kicking those already caught in the poverty trap in the guts while they're down... all to promote the privatization of our welfare system.

Giving money to cults like Density Church to try and stop youth becoming dependent on welfare is unproven and likely to fail. What a young person needs these days is a good education and a decent job that pays a living wage so that they can become independent of their parents and the state. National has failed to meet its job growth targets in all its previous budgets by a million miles.

This isn't a zero budget, It's a no hope no growth no brighter future budget...  it's an archaic return to failed ideologies of the past that will detrimentally impact on the already downtrodden budget... It's an elitist budget designed to transfer even more wealth from those who can least afford it to those that don't need it... It's a penny pinching agist budget that will do nothing to get New Zealand back on its feet.

Australia is looking better every day under the austerity of National's failed regime.

24 May 2012

The next Prime Minister of New Zealand

Gender inequality in New Zealand

On Tuesday, the OECD reported:

In OECD countries, in 2009 nearly 60% of university graduate students were female. But men and women still choose different study and career paths. More than 75% of health and social science graduates are women, while some 70% engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates are men. New ways must be found to attract women to study and pursue careers in male-dominated sectors, which often offer better career and earnings prospects.

Employment rates are 13 percentage points lower for women than for men in OECD countries. Women are also much more likely to work part-time. Better and more affordable child care and more flexible work conditions are key to helping parents to be in paid work or increase hours and work full time, says the report.

Pay gaps also remain stubbornly high: on average in OECD countries women earn 16% less than men and female top-earners are paid on average 21% less. Across the OECD less than one-third of managers and only 10% of board members are women.

The OECD's Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship: Final Report (PDF) also states that Woman in New Zealand do more unpaid work than paid work, gain more tertiary qualifications than men and women-owned new enterprises outperform men-owned enterprises.

Although wage inequality between men and woman has been slowly dropping, the report finds that the government funding allocated to reduce inequality in New Zealand is on the low side in comparison to other OECD countries.

So basically woman are getting a raw deal. In fact the gender pay gap in the public sector was 14.4% in 2010. If we include all areas of the workforce, woman on average earn around $10,000 less per year.

There are many reasons why this is a problem, but perhaps the most pressing is the fact that woman who do not have financial security are more likely to remain in an abusive relationship. Therefore if the government wants to reduce the amount of domestic violence it must look at measures to increase gender equality.

New Zealand currently has one of the worst domestic violence rates in the world.

23 May 2012

Peters on propaganda

Last week, Scoop reported:

Digging and researching takes time and effort.

The delivery of news oblique stroke information is now instantaneous.

No sooner had the Banks/Dotcom story hit the headlines than Newstalk ZB decided to interview a bewildered blogger called Whaleoil.

Without a fact to fan his considerable self with Mr Whaleoil explained to ZB listeners that New Zealand First had been a beneficiary of the giant German.

The ZB people did not bother to check with Dotcom or New Zealand First.

After all why spoil a good story with the facts?

Let me give you another case.

A mischievous blogger known as Kiwiblog made up a story the Thursday before the election that New Zealand First was an incorporated society and that Winston Peters was an illegal candidate.

That story running as it did immediately before the Election Day is a corrupt practice under our election law.

By sheer coincidence, this blogger is the paid pollster of the National Party.

The foreign owned newspaper Dominion Post felt compelled to also publish this garbage and the story appeared to be taking off until some spoilsport presented the true facts.

That story could have been the difference between eight and nine MPs for New Zealand First.

With one more we could have stopped the sale of state assets - and the National Party knew it.

My point is that media outlets – whether radio, newspapers, television or the Internet - are full of opinions masquerading as facts.

                                   ~ Winston Peters Leader of New Zealand First


I couldn't agree more. The media thrive on speculation and their livelihoods actually depend on it these days... The sad truth of the matter is that the bigger the scandal they can manufacture the bigger the revenue they gather. It's as simple as that.

The real problem is New Zealand hasn't got any kind of watchdog with half enough powers to make any kind of difference. Even when there are blatant untruths published, there is no proper process of oversight and therefore no accountability.

In this way propaganda is largely governing the narrative. It's not about factual reporting anymore; it's about dressing bullshit up to masquerade around as reporting, and spinning the wheels of misinformation to a largely deluded, disenfranchised and disinterested public.

More truth from Hone Harawira



“Once upon a time we were proud of having a health system that catered for everyone but now you pay for the privilege every step of the way” says MANA Leader Hone Harawira.

“Health Minister Tony Ryall, who earns $257k, can afford to smile when he hikes prescription charges another $2 but for those struggling to make the right choices with little money, two bucks means deciding whether to get your medicine or not”.

Harawira said that research showed that Maori already had a higher rate of uncollected prescriptions “because they just can’t afford it” and expected that figure to get worse with the higher charges.

“When kids get sick, mums will be forced to choose which medicines to buy and which ones to leave and they will pray they get it right” said Harawira, “and when old people get sick, they will just go without …”

“That will see more poor people being admitted to hospital because they’ll get sick when they haven’t taken their medicine due to the cost - and taxpayers will have to fork out $1,000 per person, per day”.

Harawira said that all it would take was one in 500 to wind up in hospital and that’d be government’s savings gone down the toilet. “Go figure.”

“As for the proposal to throw money at more swabs for rheumatic fever, let’s not kid ourselves” said Harawira. “More swabs are good but even Dr Lance O’Sullivan admits that they won’t fix the root cause of the problem which is poor housing.”

“In case you weren’t sure what National’s housing policy is,” said Harawira, “take a look at Glen Innes where they’re kicking poor people out of good homes, Hobsonville where they’ve just cancelled a perfectly good housing project and communities all over the country where housing estates are being sold off to private developers.”

Harawira said that NZ had a health system that worked for those who could afford it “but that those who needed it most were the ones who would be forced to the back of the queue.”

“And higher prescription charges will make sure that’s where they stay …”

               ~ Hone Harawira Leader of the Mana party

National has failed

Tomorrow is budget day when National will announce their plans that will amount to naught. It will contain austerity and budget cuts all rolled up in doublespeak, propaganda and outright lies to try to trick the public into thinking the rightwing agenda is working. Well it isn't... and New Zealand is going down the drain faster than ever before.

Today, the Dominion Post reported:

The Government will say that, although this year is tough, the future looks better. That's what it always says.

In 2009 the prime minister promised: "This budget will start making the long- term changes that National promised to make and that are needed to lift New Zealand's long-term economic performance."

In 2010 he said: "In the end, this was a budget about growth, a budget about jobs, a budget about the future of New Zealand."

Last year he said it again: "The budget is likely to see very strong growth in real wages for New Zealanders . . . very strong job growth; and a much stronger economic outlook for New Zealand."

Every year National makes the same promise. And every year it fails to keep it.


                        ~ David Parker Labour finance spokesperson.

Parker is right... National has made promise after broken promise that they had no intention of keeping. And why are their projections continuously incorrect you might ask, surely they cannot be that inept at forecasting future economic changes? Well the answer is that they're devious and know there is more to gain from lying to the public than telling the truth... National has failed!



H/T The Standard

22 May 2012

National changes tack... maybe

Spanish flagged Oyang 75
Today, the Nelson Mail reported:

Foreign flagged fishing boats are to be banned over labour, safety and fisheries concerns.

The Government announced the surprise decision this afternoon amid ongoing controversy over abuses on the boats.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said foreign-flagged fishing vessels would no longer be able to legally operate in New Zealand waters after a four-year transition period.

"The Government's decision sends a clear message that New Zealand is serious about the fair treatment of fishing crews, the safety of vessels and its international reputation for ethical and sustainable fishing practices," the ministers said.

Boats will have to be reflagged with New Zealand flags which will require them to meet New Zealand standards and requirements.

Legislation will be introduced to amend the Fisheries Act by the end of the year.

This will only work if we have a robust inspectorate and enough patrol boats on the water to ensure compliance. That's why it's a shame National is not funding our RNZ Navy properly so that they can utilize the equipment required to ensure our waters are properly patrolled.

On 14 May, Yahoo News reported:

Revelations that the Royal New Zealand Navy cannot put all its inshore patrol vessels to sea because of a lack of crew are a damning indictment on Defence Minister Jonathon Coleman's management of his portfolio, says Labour's Defence Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

Whether or not this is simply a policy change to make it appear that National actually gives a damn about the horrendous worker abuses, terrible safety record and the dumping and overfishing of our Kaimoana is yet to be seen, but considering Wilkinson's previous record on such things, I'm highly skeptical.

Let's hope though that it's a change of tack and not just more window dressing.

The Wong connection

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Labour MP Shane Jones has spoken publicly for the first time on his granting citizenship to a Chinese businessman against official advice, saying he stands by his decision.

It comes as Prime Minister John Key accused Labour leader David Shearer of being "hypocritical" in demanding Act leader John Banks be sacked while accepting his own MP Shane Jones' word he had acted properly in the case.

Mr Shearer yesterday said he accepted Mr Jones' assurances that he followed proper processes when he approved a citizenship application by William Yan, also known as Bill Liu, in 2008.
William Yan
The difference is that there's no evidence connecting Shane Jones' decision with favours from William Yan... It looks really bad, but as we all know looks can be deceiving. Over-ruling the advice of Internal Affairs officials to grant Yan residency was obviously stupid, but its not as if Jones hasn't displayed a lack of brains in the past.

The Banks Dotcom fiasco on the other hand has irrefutable evidence that Banks or his cohorts failed to declare donations from the wealthy philanthropist, and furthermore Banks requested more money in return for political favours. That in my opinion is a clear cut case of corruption which needs more than just third party assurances to sweep under the carpet.


The fact that Bank's is also under investigation by the Police, while Jones is not and Shearer waited until the evidence connecting Banks with Dotcom was reported before he requested the Act party leader be stood down seems to have eluded Key. Shearer had reason to make such a request, whereas John Key does not in relation to Jones.

But what makes me wonder who exactly William Yan, also known as Yong Min Yan, Bill Liu and Yang Liu, was talking about when he claimed to have friends in high places, is this Dominion Post article from Saturday:

Mr Key said he had "two relatively superficial meetings" with Yan during the 2008 election campaign.

He was introduced by MP Pansy Wong. Mrs Wong, along with former Te Atatu MP Chris Carter and Mr Samuels, lobbied for Yan to be granted citizenship in 2008.

Mr Jones over-ruled Internal Affairs officials' advice and granted citizenship, despite the fact Yan was red-flagged by Interpol and wanted in China on fraud charges.

At the time, immigration officials - acting on instruction from minister David Cunliffe - were also investigating if Yan's permanent residency, granted in 2002, should be revoked.

The allegations of special treatment may be serious enough to warrant an investigation by police.

You'll remember former National MP Pansy Wong... She resigned as a Minister after misusing her parliamentary travel perks for trips to China on which her husband conducted private business activities, which is specifically prohibited.

And what exactly did Yan say again:

"He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament ... he was going to take them to China," Internal Affairs case officer Olele Johannes Gambo said.

When exactly these boasts were made by Yan is not reported, but there is no question that they were made prior to William Yan gaining residency in 2008, two years before Wong stepped down to avoid further investigation.

The Fairfax article that broke the story aslo reported:

The high-ranking officials were stunned when then Cabinet minister Shane Jones approved the application one day after getting his file. They were certain Yong Ming Yan, also known as Bill Liu, who had been red-flagged by Interpol, stood little chance.

But today, the NZ Herald reported:

He [Jones] also rejected claims in Court he had approved citizenship the day after the file was passed on to him. He had received it on 14 July 2008 and it was approved on 6 August 2008.

Is Jones stupid enough to make such claims when an OIA request would easily show who is telling the truth... I think not, and this puts huge doubt on the validity of the information contained in the Fairfax article.

Jones still needs to explain why the F he gave Yan residency in the first place, but this one might just turn around to bite the rightwing spindoctors in the arse!

Update: Well here is one explanation:

Mr Jones says he was told that Mr Yan would be “jailed, executed and his organs harvested” if he was sent back to China.

“That to me comprised grounds for a humanitarian decision,” Mr Jones says.

He confirmed those were the words used to describe the situation.

“When a Government official in a minister’s office says such a thing so graphic that I actually wrote it down.”

Mr Jones says he has the words written on file.

21 May 2012

Fonterra environmental bullies


On Saturday, the Manawatu Standard reported:

Emotions have run high at the Fonterra Pahiatua plant's discharge consent hearing, with one submitter breaking down in tears as he told how he had seen the Mangatainoka River decline over his lifetime.

Fonterra wants to discharge 2250 cubic metres of condensate into the Mangatainoka River for the next 22 years.

They're actually wanting resource consent to discharge 2,250 cubic metres per day (2,250 m3/day), so that works out to be 17.6 million cubic metres in 22 years, which is a shit load.

It currently discharges into the Brechin Stream, which flows into the Mangatainoka, but is asking at a hearing in Palmerston North for permission to discharge directly into the river.

The water in the Brechin Stream, considered a valuable trout spawning area, is degraded with sewage fungus caused by the current discharge.

Fonterra said the discharge would have less effect on the environment if it had the larger mixing area of the river. Horizons Regional Council environmental scientist Logan Brown stated in his evidence to the hearing yesterday that the fungus prevented fish from laying eggs.

Pahiatua resident and submitter Ross Gillespie said he had watched trout numbers dwindle in the stream for many years. He remembered watching multitudes of juvenile fish swimming through the water when he was a child.

"You're lucky to find any now," said Mr Gillespie, before breaking down in tears. Corina Jordon, environmental officer with Wellington Fish and Game, said the Mangatainoka River was a significant and popular trout fishery that was affected by pollution and high water takes.

She said the river regularly breached nitrogen, phosphorus and dissolved oxygen limits, all of which affected aquatic life.

I enjoy watching Rural Delivery in the weekends. They've been running stories recently about developments in effluent treatment systems, and this made me hopeful that we might finally see a reduction in the amount of farm pollution going into New Zealand waterways.

That's why it's disappointing to see stories like the one above, as I've also witnessed the degradation of our waterways due to farming, which unfortunately impacts directly on one of my favourite leisure-time activities... Fishing.

But what really gets my goat about this is that the Fonterra Pahiatua consent application (PDF) states that effluent can be discharged when wet weather events make the discharge of condensate to land unsustainable, even if the River is below median flow rate. That means there is no adherence to dilution rates, which will mean more nitrogen, phosphorus, particulate organic matter and dissolved oxygen in the water, and less fish.

The problem here is one of money, whereby the technology is available to reduce if not completely mitigate the environmental damage caused by farming to our waterways (90% of lowland waterways are too polluted to swim in)... it's simply far more cost effective for farmers to just dump cow shit into our fisheries. What a bunch of environmental bullies!

20 May 2012

Louis Crimp - Asshole of the Week

In many respects politics is like blood sports... With competitors gathering in various forums to size each other up, facing off over certain ideological points of view before trying to gain support by inflicting damage on their opponents.

The general cut and thrust of politics is often fascinating, especially when true intellectual gladiators engage in battle with razor like repertoire. But more often than not it's a cringe worthy experience, with combatants lacking intellectual strength and moral fibre.

After the dust settles, there's usually a winner and invariably a loser, which brings me to the topic of this post…

Their own worst enemies, the Act party has been down and out for the count ever since revelations that one of their combatants stole the identity of a dead baby. Intent on cutting their own throats... they are now derided throughout the land.

Last year, the ailing rightwing faction received a major thumbs down from the public and limped around pathetically trying to fend off further attacks that struck at their cold dead hearts, which has proven to be the cause of their downfall.

Yesterday, the Act party gave its last deathly twitch:

"He needs somebody else in there with him," cried their financial backer.

"Off with his head," roared the crowd. But Shonkiest Maximus falters, and fails to adhere to the combatants code of conduct.  A dishonourable political death is to be avoided at all cost and calls of outrage for an end to the embarrassing spectacle rang out from all sides.

19 May 2012

Groser promotes ecological disaster

I had to laugh while reading a speech given by Tim Groser yesterday in which he claims that people who promote localized food production and security of supply are acting instinctually and that not wanting to rely on other countries for food is rooted in people's hunter and gatherer DNA.

Despite there being a clear and present danger to worldwide food supplies, Groser claims that starvation is only caused by a lack of funds and that people promote sustainability because of their evolutionary memory. FFS!

Groser then applies this reasoning to how countries around the world should manage their supply and demand requirements, which is a little insane to say the least.

What the idiot fails to acknowledge is that there's a number of challenges facing the world that need careful consideration and meticulous planning if serious disaster is to be averted.

The causes have been well documented and the subsequent solutions are known... All that is stopping them from being implemented are ideologically blinded politicians who have lost all touch with the real world. Is this a disaster? I'll let the facts speak for themselves:

Water depletion:

It's easy for New Zealander's to become complacent about one of the fundamental building blocks of life... water. Aotearoa is blessed with an abundance of the stuff after all, which supports our productive industries and outdoor lifestyles.

Why worry you might ask... after all planet Earth has 1.4 trillion cubic kilometers (km3) of water, which is a heck of a lot isn't it. However only 0.6% (8.4 million km3) of this is fresh and it's depleting at an alarming rate... 20% decline in renewable freshwater in the last few decades. Already approximately 80% of the world's population (5.6 billion in 2011) live in areas with threats to water security.

There is no doubt then that the world is fast approaching a time when supply will simply no longer meet demand en masse with scarcity of usable freshwater therefore at the top of my list. The degradation through pollution, environmental conditions and over consumption are of major concern.

Climate Change:

Anthropomorphic climate change is happening faster than predicted and is already impacting on the worlds ability to produce enough food to sustain us. Rising sea levels will increase the risk of erosion and saltwater intrusion into arable land and an increase of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods will have an adverse impact on food production.

If present trends continue, the total cost of global warming will be approximately 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) with hurricane damage, real estate losses, energy and water costs projected to cost the US almost $1.9 trillion annually (in today’s US dollars) by 2100.

Arable land:

Today, the NZ Herald reported on the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet report 2012 (PDF), which is sobering reading indeed:

The planet's population passed seven billion last year and is forecast to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. Much of the growth will be in Africa, Asia and Latin America - tropical regions where biodiversity has suffered most as forests are destroyed, land use intensifies and rivers are utilised.

In Africa and Asia, a scramble for land is underway, with external investors securing access to agricultural land for future food production, often at the expense of the poorest. Since the mid-2000s, an area almost the size of western Europe has been transferred in land allocation deals.

The article puts the average New Zealander's ecological footprint at 35th highest in the world among 149 countries measured, making our clean and green image just that... a mirage.

Peak oil:

Many people might not realize that peak oil has come and gone and we are now in a phase of terminal decline. That means production will not meet demand which will in turn push up prices. In the US the surplus oil production capacity was projected to disappear this year, and the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day by 2015.

With New Zealand being dependent on our export sector to drive the economy, even small increases to transportation costs to reach our worldwide markets have a detrimental effect on the bottom line. This could in fact decimate our export revenue gathering ability entirely rendering New Zealand's primary production ineffective at creating wealth and therefore largely defunct in terms of productive land use.

Despite these facts, Groser states:

We are perfectly capable, for example, of increasing food supply by 70% over the next 40 years – we increased global food supply by over 140% in the 45 year period to 2005. Can we achieve about half the increase in production we achieved globally over the last 4-5 decades? Sounds rather modest to me as a global goal.

A Minister for Climate Change Issues should be more aware of the inherent problems within his ignorant and hypothetical statement... being that much of the increased food productivity over the last few decades is a result of cheap oil, available arable land, abundant freshwater supplies and an absence of climate change.

Along with overfishing, believing these problems can be mitigated by simply intensifying production, which will place even more pressure on the environment, is naive to say the least. Unfortunately for New Zealand's potential for a sustainable future, intentionally ignorant is the best summary of National's environmental policies.

References:

Stern Review - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review
Freshwater resources and their management - http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter3.pdf
The Cost of Climate Change - http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/cost/cost.pdf
Global biodiversity decline of marine and freshwater fish - http://casse.live2.radicaldesigns.org/wp-content/uploads/Clausen_EG_Fisheries.pdf
General situation of world fish stocks - http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf
WWF Living Planet Report 2012 - http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/1_lpr_2012_online_full_size_single_pages_final_120516.pdf
The Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2010 - http://www.peakoil.net/files/JOE2010.pdf

18 May 2012

Shane Jones for the chop?

Close on the heels of revelations that John Banks offered to be a "very good friend" of Kim Dotcom once he was back in Parliament if the German multimillionaire gave the Act party leader a mega donation, comes another story of political influence that further undermines the publics perception of our politicians.

Today, Fairfax reported:

A Chinese millionaire on trial in the High Court at Auckland for fraud boasted to immigration officials that he had MP friends who would ensure he got citizenship.

The high-ranking officials were stunned when then Cabinet minister Shane Jones approved the application one day after getting his file. They were certain Yong Ming Yan, also known as Bill Liu, who had been red-flagged by Interpol, stood little chance.

But Yan leaned back in his chair, with his arms behind his head, and said he was 99 per cent confident he would get citizenship, the court was told yesterday.

"He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament ... he was going to take them to China," Internal Affairs case officer Olele Johannes Gambo said.

If proven, the allegation of special treatment would be serious enough to warrant investigation by the police.

Yan was granted citizenship by Mr Jones in 2008, after officials repeatedly told him that Yan failed a required good character test, the court was told.

Mr Gambo said that when Yan was told he could not have citizenship, he said friends in Parliament would ensure he got it.

Jones needs to step up to the plate on this matter and explain the reason behind his decision to allow somebody who was wanted by Interpol to gain New Zealand residency?

Although the incident happened four years ago, the issue is still pertinent and somebody needs to be held to account.

Labour should not adopt the same low standards as those held by the National party, which if allowed to continue will result in the complete moral decay of our government.

Silence on these issues isn't going to make them go away either, it will simply compound the problem of the public perceiving politicians in general to be unscrupulous and able to be bought by the highest bidder.

If Labour wants to see the same growth in support they must have the same principles as those adhered to by the Greens.

Your country needs you


1.4 million Kiwis watch TVNZ 7 each month but the government has cut funding to the last public service TV channel in New Zealand. Save TVNZ 7 needs your help to change this.

If TVNZ7 gets pulled, New Zealand will have lost 1/3 of the free to air network.

You can help save our public broadcasting service...

Meeting details:

Wellington – Monday May 21st, Wesley Church Hall, 75 Taranaki St 7-9pm

Nelson - Friday May 25th – Trafalgar Pavilion Hall 6-8pm

Christchurch – Monday May 28th CPSA Building at the CPIT Campus, Madras Street.

Palmerston North – Wednesday 6th June- All Saints Church Hall, cnr The Square & Church St

Dunedin – Thursday 7th June – Barnett Theatre – Otago University,

Hamilton – June 13th (venue tbc)

Please sign the Save TVNZ 7 Online Petition.

Any TV channel takes time to get started and in four short years TVNZ 7 has built a passionate and enthusiastic audience without promotions or listings – just old fashioned word-of-mouth because the programmes are so brilliant. And like the success of public service radio, TVNZ 7 is proving Kiwis want quality TV that is about life in New Zealand and isn’t about amassing the largest audience possible to attract advertisers. Sadly all the TVNZ 7 programmes are going to disappear at the end of June when Government funding for the channel stops.”

             ~ Myles Thomas of the Save TVNZ 7 group.

17 May 2012

The Contrarian vs The Jackal

I've had a rather turgid response by a new blogger calling himself The Contrarian in which he claims The Jackal's article about Police protecting their own is gibberish, made up and promotes falsehoods that shore up other people's preconceived biases... Really!

The Contrarian also claims that it "sounds fairly standard," that the fingerprints recorded for elimination purposes are inadmissible in a court of law. However this observation is based on sheer ignorance and misinformation...

Last night, One News correspondent Joy Reid reported (a year after the fact) a story about a police officer who had been caught out stealing sunglasses. She also reported into the police investigation stating that the police had gained legal advice that the constables fingerprints were inadmissible in a court of law because of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (PDF).

To anybody who has actually read and understood that document, this claim is farcical!

There is no such clause within the Bill of Rights Act that stipulates such a condition... Therefore a huge discrepancy exists between what the law actually states and the reason the Police have provided as an excuse to not lay charges, which unfortunately has been all too readily accepted by idiots like The Contrarian.

The 'Help my mate Dwayne get some teeth' gig


Directed and produced by Zoe McIntosh - Camera by Tammy Willams

When: Fri 18 May, 7:00pm–2:00am

Where: Golden Dawn, 134a Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland.

Phone: 09 376 9929

Featuring: The Rhymestone Cowboy / Topless meat raffles / R18

Ticket Information: Donation: $5.00 - Door Sales Only.

Police protect one of their own


Yesterday, the Police reported:

Police have confirmed that an officer resigned late last year after being investigated for theft in the aftermath of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

It was alleged that three sets of sunglasses were taken from a cordoned-off suburban shop by an officer from the North Island.

Assistant Commissioner South, Dave Cliff, says the matter was investigated as soon as it was brought to Police notice.

"We are very clear that any allegations against Police must be investigated thoroughly and promptly," says Assistant Commissioner Cliff. "We demand the highest ethical standards from all police officers and police employees."

An inquiry was initiated immediately and was conducted by senior Police investigators. The constable was suspended once evidence of his involvement emerged. He did not admit the theft of the sunglasses.

Assistant Commissioner Cliff says an assessment was made about evidential sufficiency to support an open court charge. Legal advice was received that there was not enough evidence that could lawfully be put before a court to prove a charge of theft.

"Fingerprint evidence was not able to be put to the court. Officers' fingerprints are recorded for elimination purposes, but it is not lawful for these to be used for any other purpose. As a result the decision was made, reluctantly, that charges could not be brought against the constable.

Unbelievable! Here we have a police screening system that records fingerprints to ensure new recruits are not connected to any previous crimes not being used appropriately.

If the police had on file the fingerprints of somebody from the general public, and they were connected to a crime through that fingerprinting but it was inadmissible*, the police would simply use that evidence to require another fingerprint test that would be admissible.

In fact the police should have simply fingerprinted the officer in question again when he was connected to the crime. He/she should have been arrested. The fact that they didn't smacks of police corruption and the same old usual boys in blue protecting one of their own.

What this shows is that there's one law for the police and another for the general public... and the contrast couldn't be greater:

Criminal A stole got away with $6000 dollars worth of clothing, had his name and face all over the news and was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Criminal B stole an undisclosed amount, had his name suppressed, wasn't put before a judiciary to see if evidence was admissible or not and got off scott free.

Criminal A is Maori and comes from the general public while criminal B was a police officer and likely to be Pakeha. The Police's "ethical standards" in this matter are a complete joke!

* It was established that the fingerprints were impressed at the time the crime was committed. These fingerprints were admissible and should have been enough to ensure the matter was put before a judge. It is for a court of law to decide whether that evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt and warrants a conviction, not the Police.

16 May 2012

Something to go to in Christchurch


Housing protest.

Where: Gerry Brownlee’s Ilam Office, 283 Greers Rd, Christchurch

When: Saturday 26th May 2.00pm ~ Bring Your Concerns!

There is a great need for affordable and safe housing for many people in Otautahi/Christchurch at this time, meanwhile rental prices have increased, many people are struggling to make ends meet, and the rebuild is being monopolised by corporate interests before addressing the needs and concerns of local communities.

* More decent social housing for Christchurch
* Sustainable rebuild
* Housing organised according to need not profit
* Acknowledgement of the real levels of homelessness and displacement in our city
* Rent freeze for private and social housing
* A living wage and affordable housing for all
* No shock doctrine housing policy
* Democratic process for peoples’ housing concerns to be heard

The stench of corruption

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Kim Dotcom's head of security told his boss that John Banks asked for a political donation and said he would be a "very good friend" once he was back in Parliament, according to an email.

The email also states that Mr Banks suggested Dotcom's staff met Prime Minister John Key personally to try to smooth the red tape around his mansion purchase.

The email was written to Dotcom by his head of security, Wayne Tempero, on July 30 just after taking a call from Mr Banks.

It comes amid a police investigation into three political donations made to Mr Banks' 2010 mayoral campaign. The three anonymous donations included one from Dotcom, who said he made a $50,000 donation to the campaign split into two payments at the request of Mr Banks, who says he followed the law.

Not only was Banks lying when he initially claimed that the reports into the undeclared donations were "mostly bullshit," it appears he requested money from Kim Dotcom on more than one occasion, saying he would "be a very good friend once in government [because Banks] would have the power."

This is a major conflict of interest where it appears that Banks was requesting money in exchange for political favours, which is by nature a corruption of our political process.


Obviously Dotcom should not have believed Banks who totally distanced himself from the multimillionaire during the Megaupload debacle. In fact Banks had already distanced himself by not declaring who the two $25,000 donations had come from... something he obviously knew about because he'd phoned Dotcom to thank him personally for the $50,000 he requested be split so that he could list them as anonymous.

After being caught out, Banks claimed he couldn't remember, lied and then refused to answer questions.

There is no doubt that public perception of the Act party leader has gone down the drain. The sad thing is that he's taken a lot of parliaments credibility to govern with it. Such things aren't only damaging to the party's involved, it damages the entire political process and means that the public is less inclined to vote for people perceived to be in general a pack of dirty rotten scoundrels.

Unfortunately the stench from Banks' corruption is infectious and worsens public perception of all politicians, which is perhaps why many opposition MP's have been so vehement in their condemnation.

The cabinet manual (PDF) is very specific about such issues, with Ministers responsible for ensuring that no conflict exists or appears to exist between their personal interests and their public duty. It's not just Banks' conflict of interest and failure to declare the donations that is the problem, it's public perception of his conduct, and I don't think anybody apart from Banks will argue about what the publics opinion of him is on this matter... especially when it's so obvious he's a conman:

In an emailed statement, Mr Banks confirmed asking for money.

He said: "I do recall raising the issue of donating to the Act Party with Mr Dotcom's staff ... I was subsequently advised by one of his staff that Mr Dotcom said 'to go get f****d as your Government has caused me too much trouble' or something along those lines."

Nobody in their right mind is going to believe that Dotcom arranged an expensive upgraded hotel room with all the trimmings and gifted the now beleaguered Act party "leader" an expensive gift basket with a note of friendship soon after apparently saying Banks should "go get fucked as your Government has caused me too much trouble."

Clearly Banks doesn't have a good handle on when exactly things occur, raising even more doubts about his suitability to be in parliament at all. Unfortunately Key isn't interested in holding Banks to any type of account for his repeated lies and abuse of position. So much for higher standards.

15 May 2012

Professor slams prescription fees increase

Today, the University of Otago reported:

The Government’s announcement that it will increase the co-payment for a prescription from $3 to $5 per item, for up to a maximum of 20 items per year, represents a questionable trade-off, says a University of Otago public health researcher.

Professor Tony Blakely, Director of the Burden of Disease Equity and Cost Effectiveness (BODE3) programme at the University of Otago, Wellington, says the trade-off is that activities such as care coordination in cancer services and IT systems to support delivery of care will be increased.

“First, will increasing funding on care coordination – things like patient navigators – increase survival among cancer patients? Yes – and probably reduce inequalities too.

“Second, will increasing prescription part charges worsen health? Yes – and definitely widen inequalities in health by impacting more on the disadvantaged.

“Third; is the trade-off between these two policies worth it? Probably not – other trade-offs and prioritisation decisions could have been considered with a better net outcome.”

[...]

Rising part charges could be done with less impact on sick poor people by reducing the maximum number of prescriptions attracting a co-payment per year from 20 to 15, meaning that the worst case-scenario per year for a low-income person is an increase from $60 per year to $75 per year – not $100 per year. This would still be revenue-raising.

“The Government is making clear trade-offs elsewhere, for example by continuing with tax cuts for the wealthy, not increasing the age of eligibility for superannuation and not considering capital gains taxes. There are other ways of redistribution resources than using part charges,” says Professor Blakely.

This is just another wealth transfer from the poor to the wealthy who have largely squandered the money they gained from National's tax cuts. The government is now scrambling to find capital to cover extra health spending in the upcoming zero Budget... because the tax cuts for the rich haven't stimulated the economy at all.

It's far easier to increase prescription charges by 66% than to actually fix the economy.

And who is getting punished for National's fiscal mismanagement? The poor, old and unwell of course. It's always those who are least able to afford such changes that are punished by the rightwing... basically because they're less likely to fight back. Welcome to John Keys "brighter" future.


Keys radio therapy

Today, the Prime Minister of New Zealand accused the media of becoming more aggressive, hostile, and antagonistic towards his Government.

What Key is actually accusing the media of is being biased when they report factual articles that are disparaging of National's policy and performance. This is clearly designed to displace criticism away from the government, and instead onto some sort of theoretical media fabrication based on second-termitis.

It's a classic play by a manipulator, and frankly shouldn't be believed.

Although there has been an increase in reporting that highlights the governments failure to create jobs, stop the exodus to Australia and pay off debt etc, the only ones to blame for that is the government... because they are indeed failing to produce what they promised.

If you can stand the smarmy little conman, here is the NewstalkZB interview where Key claims the media is turning against him.


...and then the denial where Key claims he wasn't slamming the media.


In my opinion the MSM often fail to report on much of National's dysfunction that currently pervades and cripples New Zealand's functionality.

What we're seeing is a very small shift away from the usual propaganda and towards factual reporting and accountability... and that's what Key really doesn't like.

National's fiscally irresponsible tax cuts

Yesterday, the Scoop reported:

Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ — paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

“Borrowing $2 billion in 18 months to fund upper-income tax cuts is fiscally irresponsible.

“National’s poor economic decisions have led to record levels of government debt and borrowing.

Along with unprecedented numbers of Kiwis permanently leaving New Zealand for a brighter future overseas, National has increased unemployment to 6.7% and ensured retail is stagnant due to flat wages. Export prices are also in free-fall making any economic recovery even more dependent on a functional internal market.

National's mishandling of the economy could result in a double dip recession, which in comparison to Australia's growth and $2 billion surplus would categorically show National's economic bungling. They can no-longer use the GFC as an excuse for their failure.

John Key simply has no solution apart from the same old laissez-faire ideology and free-market bullshit that got us into this mess in the first place. It has become abundantly clear that we're currently being governed by a bunch fools!