The Jackal: September 2012

30 Sep 2012

No excuse for police perjury

Today, One News reported:

When spoken to by the Sunday Star-Times, Wormald said the answer had been taken out of context, and rejected suggestions he had been lying. "I'm saying I told the truth."

However, a police source said Wormald has argued the answer to his question has been taken out of context. He said he was asked about "physical surveillance" and was not referring to the snooping of emails and phonecalls which GCSB is understood to have carried out.

Thankfully we know what the question from Dotcoms' lawyer Paul Davison QC was:

So apart from the surveillance which [the police surveillance team] might have been going to undertake on your behalf was there any other surveillance being undertaken here in New Zealand to your knowledge?

Detective Inspector Grant Wormald then perjured himself by saying; "No there wasn't".

Wormald refused to go into the matter further because it was in front of the courts, but said a transcript of the hearing would provide context to what he said.

But they haven't released the transcript of the court case... What does that tell you?

Marshall backed that stance, saying it was "deeply concerning" there had been "considerable recent speculative, inaccurate and selective commentary" around the actions of police officers involved in the Dotcom investigation.

Today, Q+A had a video of Grant Wormald saying exactly what had already been reported. Any speculative or selectivity doesn't necessarily make the reporting inaccurate. It's the media's job to report on people's opinion and selectively choose what information is newsworthy. A Detective Inspector misleading a court of law is obviously newsworthy.

It's a pretty far-fetched excuse by Peter Marshall, who's expecting the public to believe that reporters have intentionally misreported the facts of the matter and are therefore liable for a defamation case. Wormald hasn't laid a complaint with any media outlet though, nor undertaken legal action to protect his position, because he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Today, Whaleoil reported:

Campbell Live used selected quotes from a cop in court – DotCon’s lawyer continued the theme in court the next day (nice strategy) – and the rest of the media dutifully repeated this, saying the cop’s evidence was inconsistent.

In my opinion, Wormald wasn't just inconsistent; he clearly perjured himself in a court of law. He said to his knowledge there was no other agencies involved in the surveillance of Mr Dotcom, knowing full well that the GCSB was involved. In fact he attended a meeting on December 14 with GCSB operatives. For him to say he wasn't aware of their involvement is an obvious lie.

The defence lawyer is trying to get his client off, as you would expect – but shouldn’t the media have been more circumspect with its reporting?

By "circumspect" Slater actually means the public shouldn't have been informed at all. However it's to late to brush it all under the carpet and thankfully reporters have a higher standard than the right wing fool!

Paul Davison QC has a duty to his client and the truth. The media rightfully reported on Wormald's perjury and the GCSB's involvement. It is their involvement that could ultimately let Dotcom off, because it was unlawful.

Now the stupid Greens are trying to interfere, even though they will have no idea of what was and wasn’t said in court.

The Greens have a duty to represent the public's interests. It's not in the public's interest to have the GCSB illegally spying on New Zealand citizens and/or residents. It's not in the public's interest to have Detective Inspector Grant Wormald get away with perjury.

Of course the Green's are far more diplomatic than the Jackal, with Russel Norman saying:

This is one of their senior officers giving inconsistent evidence under oath - that's a pretty serious matter. In the first instance, let's see how the police deal with that, but clearly they do need to deal with it.

Unfortunately it appears that the police are dealing with it by making pathetic excuses that are inconsistent with the facts of the matter. Instead of ensuring justice is done, the police are closing ranks to protect one of their own, no matter how unlawful the Detective Inspector has been.

This is entirely detrimental to the police force, which can only operate properly when people have confidence that justice is being served. Such blatantly obvious corruption also lowers police moral, with the damage caused to the organizations functionality not to be underestimated.

Compounding the problem further with more lies, which insults people's intelligence, is not a solution. But none of this concerns National propagandist Cameron Slater, who writes:

So, my question to the media and everyone else out there – is there a transcript of what was said in court? Have you checked it? Are you confident the full facts of what was said have been reported? If not, are you at all concerned you might have got this very wrong? Are you concerned you might have prejudiced a court case?

As I'm sure the ignoramus Slater knows, there is a transcript of the court case but it hasn't been made public. In fact all court cases in New Zealand are transcribed. We already know what was said because it was recorded and accurately published. In this instance, people should have confidence that what was reported is correct.

It's apparent that there's no omission of information by reporters that might let Wormald of the hook. The evidence is very clear... Grant Wormald knowingly perjured himself in a court of law. He should therefore resign or be sacked. In the very least, there needs to be a full and independent inquiry into the matter.

The police should also conduct an investigation... However, their objectivity is in question, and it's doubtful that any charges or a prosecution of Wormald would eventuate by simply leaving it up to them to deal with.

The dishonest Detective Inspector is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years for committing perjury, so it's no wonder they're trying to bullshit their way out... They take their cues from John Key after all.

29 Sep 2012

We live for the sea... Yeah right!

28 Sep 2012

Dotcom spy debacle timeline

In early 2011 New Zealand Police were contacted by the FBI with a request to assist them with the investigation regarding the Mega Media Group founded by Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

On January 19 2012, Detective inspector Grant Wormald signed a police planning document that states Kim Dotcom has New Zealand residency.

Kim Dotcom was granted residency on November 23, 2010 and co-accused Van der Kolk holds a permanent NZ resident's visa granted in early 2011. In the same year, Kim Dotcom spent approximately $500,000 for a fireworks display in Auckland harbour to celebrate him gaining New Zealand residency.

A Special Tactics Group Request for Assistance form was made by Wormald on 19 January 2012.

On the same day, Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess authorized the deployment of the STG and a special planning meeting was then held at Police National Headquarters, 180 Molesworth Street Wellington, which an undisclosed number of Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) operatives attended.

Presumably they would have been given a copy of the police planning document that clearly states Dotcom was a New Zealand resident at the time of the meeting.

Wormald then gave evidence in a court of law stating that apart from the police, to his knowledge there was no other agencies involved in the surveillance of Mr Dotcom.

According to John Key, the GCSB spying on Dotcom and co-accused began on 16 December 2011 and continued until the day of the raid on January 20, 2012.

On 15 August, Dotcoms' legal representative Paul Davison QC wrote to request:

Disclosure of all information (if any) provided by the GCSB to the New Zealand Police (including OFCANZ) relating to any information or data intercepted or obtained by GCSB relating to Mr Dotcom, Megaupload and any associated parties.

On 16 August, Bill English then wrote to Inspector Grant Wormald, The Commissioner of Police, Peter Marshall, and the Director of the GCSB to object to the disclosure of any information being released. When questioned by media on 25 September, English was initially unsure whether he had signed the order but later told reporters he hadn't.

It was also reported that Police Commissioner Peter Marshall signed an indemnity order which accepts potential liability if Kim Dotcom lays a claim for damages.

Also on 25 September, John Key stated that he learnt about the illegal spying on 17 September 2012 from the Director of the GCSB, Ian Fletcher. On the same day Key wrote to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, to request an urgent report into the unlawful GCSB activity he told the media was a simple "mistake".

Key has stated that he previously knew nothing of the GCSB's involvement and despite 15 meetings with the Director so far this year, he was told nothing about the GCSB's investigation.

The GCSB supposedly informed the Prime Minister an entire month after the Prime Minister's deputy, Bill English tried to suppress details of the debacle being released to Dotcom's legal representatives. Key tries to put this down to a miscommunication between himself and Bill English, saying:

He was of the view that the Government Communications Security Bureau would probably inform me of that matter.

The next day John Key said:

The Government Communications Security Bureau recognised the error a few days before it told me—I think it was about 5 to 7 days before it told me.

If true, the time before the GCSB started their illegal surveillance and them realising they had acted unlawfully was nine months. Interestingly it appears that the GCSD apparently realised they had acted illegally at the same time the information was about to be released publicly.

Key also states in the house of representatives that he had received no advice on Kim Dotcom from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the SIS, or the National Assessments Bureau in the last twelve months, despite the high profile nature of the case.

Last night, John Key stated on Close Up that if the GCSB were not involved, somebody could have been killed in the raid on Dotcom's mansion. This is despite the police planning document classifying the operation as low risk.

On the same day Paul Neazor releases his report, which states:

In my view the only issue of illegality arises in this matter from confusion in this instance between the case of a person transferring funds and the general category of residents.

The opposition are rightfully unsatisfied, and the Green's have today made an official complaint to Police commissioner Peter Marshall concerning the illegal GCSB activity.

3 News reports:

"The Neazor Report clearly concludes that the GCSB had no authority under the GCSB Act to intercept the communications of Mr Dotcom and Bram van der Kolk," says Dr Norman.

"Both the Neazor Report and the Prime Minister’s public statements have repeatedly labelled the GCSB’s actions illegal.

It would be good to see the GCSB, the Prime Minister and his deputy held to account for what is at least gross incompetence, if not a conspiracy to breach the law.

27 Sep 2012

Grant Robertson on the GCSB debacle

Doctors lose power to diagnose

Today, National reported on a speech given by Paula Bennett:

Not that long after I became the Minister for Social Development, a distraught woman told me a story about her son.

Her son was about 19, he had Asperger’s syndrome, but she described him as handsome (as only mums do) and very physically fit.

He had worked since leaving school, but left after a couple of years to visit his father in Australia.

On his return she found that he had lost all motivation.

He was smoking marijuana and drifting about, doing nothing.

To sort him out she sent him to Work and Income.

In her words she thought he would get the ‘kick in the pants’ he needed and help to get a job.

She thought this would be a turning point in her son’s life.

But she came home to her son on the couch, marijuana smoke everywhere, watching TV and looking deflated.

He had been told he didn’t need to get a job - they wouldn’t be putting him forward or helping him find one - because he was entitled to an Invalid’s Benefit, and they’d start it straight away.

He told her he had no hope left because even the government didn’t think he could do anything, he felt worthless, so what was the point in trying?

That’s the message our system has been sending to people with disability or illness.

Remember, Work and Income staff had just followed the rules and made sure he got his entitlement.

This seems highly unlikely... But let's asume that there was an 19 year old male who has Asperger’s syndrome, smokes pot and has a mum who contacted the Minister of Social Development about WINZ giving her son an Invalid Benefit sometime in 2008.

Actually let's not asume she isn't lying because she is: There's usually a stand down period for people who apply for the Invalid Benefit and in 2008 there was no automatic acceptance for a person who had been working. Somebody applying for an Invalid Benefit also had to produce medical evidence of their incapacity and then be examined by a doctor appointed by WINZ.

Once you get through the Minister's waffling, it appears that Paula Bennett is proposing to use the same process as ACC to move invalid and sickness beneficiaries onto the unemployment benefit in order to save the government money. In other words WINZ case managers will decide if a person is fit for work and Doctors will lose their power to diagnose patients. The applicant can appeal, but this process has recently been exposed as a complete farce by the media, which highlighted the lengths to which corrupt specialists go to in order to decline legitimate claimants.

Despite Labour introducing a stricter application criteria, between June 2004 and 2007 the number of people receiving the invalids benefit increased by 10%. This is because when ACC got into financial trouble it was instructed by the then government to remove as many claimants as it could. National when it gained power then implemented further measures to ensure a reduction in long-term ACC claimants, which increased the amount of invalid beneficiaries by 11% to 88,134 in 2011. Many of these people had no other choice but to apply for the Invalid Benefit when their ACC payments were cancelled.

In the long run National's policy to reduce the amount of invalid and sickness beneficiaries by simply moving them onto the unemployment benefit will cost the country more and cause further hardship and suffering for the unwell. This is because without proper rehabilitation back into employment, people will spend more time on welfare. But instead of creating jobs and ensuring people are able to fulfill them, National is only concerned with blaming the victims.

Bennett's shortsightedness is therefore not morally justifiable nor beneficial to the economy.

26 Sep 2012

Spooks - a law unto themselves

Today, Radio NZ reported:

High Court documents show that police assured the bureau that Mr Dotcom and his co-accused were foreigners, so it did not require a warrant to spy on them - which was incorrect.

Mr Dotcom is a New Zealand resident and it is illegal for the agency to spy on people who live in the country.

It might be illegal, but is the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) ignoring the law and routinely spying on New Zealanders in breach of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 (PDF)? This question can only be answered if we first define what spying is:

Spying or espionage is generally considered to be the gathering of information on potential or actual enemies. It involves accessing secret or confidential information without the permission of the holder of that information, legally or illegally as the case may be.

In New Zealand the two main agencies responsible for spying are the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) which is in charge of the government's counter-intelligence work and the GCSB which collects and processes information for intelligence purposes. Both these agencies provide information on threats to national security and report directly to the minister holding the Intelligence portfolio, who is always the Prime Minister.

So how exactly does the GCSB gather secret information? Investigative Journalist Nicky Hagar, answers this question with his excellent book, Secret Power. Chapter Three, The Power of the Dictionary Inside Echelon, outlines exactly how the spooks gather information:

It extracts the different categories of intercepted messages (known just as ‘intercept’) from the large GCSB computer data base of intercept from the New Zealand stations and overseas agencies.  Before anything goes into this data base, the actual searching and selection of intercepted messages has already occurred—in the Dictionary computers at the New Zealand and overseas stations. All the text messages (written communications such telexes, faxes, e-mail) intercepted at the Waihopai station are fed into these computers.This is an enormous mass of material—literally all the business, government and personal messages that the station catches. The computers automatically search through everything as it arrives at the station.

So the system spies on every communication whether foreign or domestic.

It reads every word and number in every single incoming message and picks out all the ones containing target keywords and numbers. Thousands of simultaneous messages are read in ‘real time’ as they pour into the station, hour after hour, day after day, as the computer finds intelligence needles in the telecommunications haystack.

[...]

The implications of this capability are immense. The UKUSA agencies can use machines to search through all the telephone calls in the world, just as they do for written messages. Since they have this equipment to use in embassy collection, they will certainly use it in all the stations throughout the ECHELON network, including, in all probability, the GCSB stations. Anyone who makes international telephone calls needs to be aware of this capability. It has nothing to do with whether someone is deliberately tapping your telephone, simply whether you say a keyword or combination of keywords that is of interest to one of the UKUSA agencies.

All the messages intercepted at the two GCSB stations are connected by Telecom line to the Information Centre in the Wellington headquarters, sent there in unbreakable UKUSA codes. From the ‘Infocen’, they are transmitted by fibre optic cable down to the GCSB data base computers on the 12th floor. These computers are connected back up to computer terminals used by the operations staff who study and process the intercept on the 14th floor.

In this way, the GCSB through its massive database system is in fact in breach of the law all of the time. The keyword search enables them to find data of interest from all sources of electronic communications, which they're meant to then acquire a warrant from the Prime Minister to use. The spying part takes place before a warrant is issued even when a specific person is targeted.

Unbelievably a warrant lasts for an entire twelve months and gives the agency access to all real time and recorded electronic communications that individual has ever made. GCSB can also pass this information onto other agencies whenever it chooses... Talk about a massive breach of people's privacy.

Unfortunately the amount of warrants issued each year is not made public... Neither is the amount of complaints these spying agencies receive, with the Inspector General's annual report to the Prime Minister that might bring to light any inherent problems kept entirely secret. The SIS and GCSB are not bound by the Official Information Act 1982 (PDF), and its left entirely up to the Inspector General whether he investigates any complaints made under the Inspector-General Intelligence and Security Act 1996 (PDF). That Act doesn't specify a time limit for when a complaint needs to be acted upon, so there's disappointingly no proper way for the public to find out about the underhanded tactics these extensive spying agencies use.

They are effectively a law unto themselves, which is unacceptable considering the GCSB and SIS were funded by the taxpayer to the tune of $112 million in 2011.

There are no real checks or balances to ensure the spooks do not abused the system for political, business or personal gain... In fact if the recent Dotcom debacle is anything to go by, the law that's meant to bind the GCSB, which couldn't be more succinct, has been completely ignored by them and their boss.

In my opinion, anybody who believes the GCSB wasn't aware of a $500,000 fireworks display in Auckland to celebrate Dotcom gaining residency needs their heads read. What a lame excuse. It appears that they're lying to cover Key's arse who would have been all gung-ho about using his powers to placate the FBI. The other option is that our largest "intelligence" service is being run by a bunch of complete morons!

It's apparent that the GCSB routinely spies on the electronic communications of New Zealand citizens and residents. In doing so it grossly breaches our right to privacy and ignores the well defined laws it's meant to adhere to. The lack of proper oversight and avenues for redress when things go wrong shows that the current system is not operating in the best interests of the country or its people. But what's going to be done about the problem? Absolutely nothing while John Key is in charge.

GCSB Waihopai Echelon Station in New Zealand, Code Name: Flintlock

25 Sep 2012

Rogue spies or coverup at the highest level?

A week after Kim Dotcom visited Parliament and spent a considerable amount of time in the gallery studiously watching John Key, the floundering Prime Minister made the announcement that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had illegally spied on the internet tycoon and Megaupload founder, who is currently facing controversial internet piracy charges in the US.

Is it just a coincidence that Key apparently found out about the supposed unauthorized spying at the same time Kim Dotcom was in the house? Was it the big mans imposing presence that perhaps shook some sense into those responsible? Certainly the week it took for the Prime Minister to inform the public, which just so happened to coincide with the announcement of 500-600 redundancies, looks very suspect. I bet Banksie's breathing a sigh of relief though.

But more importantly was the illegal spying really unauthorized? The Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 (PDF) makes it very clear that the GCSB is not to exercise its powers against New Zealanders, and sets out some pretty solid rules for when authorization is required.

Interceptions not to target domestic communications

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

It's unbelievable that the Director of the GCSB, Ian Fletcher, was not aware of Kim Dotcoms' residency status. But even if he wasn't, an authorization warrant is still required to spy on foreigners. Before issuing a warrant at the request of the Director, the Minister in charge (the Prime Minister) must also consult with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Murray McCully, about the proposed warrant. That means more than one minister is implicated in what is turning out to be a huge disaster for National.

The Director of the GCSB is meant to report directly to the Minister responsible, John Key. The law requires that the Director consult with Key and attain a warrant to authorize the GCSB to spy on any foreigners.

You would expect there to be a warrant especially in such a high profile case, and it appears that Key is merely saying there is none because it implicates him in an illegal practice. If the warrant was uncovered with his signature on it, that would effectively mean an end to his political career.

In trying to say there's no warrant, Key is expecting us to believe that the entire chain of command has failed, and the GCSB is acting like a rogue agency, which goes far beyond it being a simple "disappointing mistake" by the Director Ian Fletcher. If the entire chain of command has failed because of gross incompetence, John Key as the Minister in charge is ultimately responsible.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

24 Sep 2012

Ignoring child poverty won't make it go away

Unless you're an Ostrich with your head firmly buried in the sand, you'll be aware that New Zealand has a pervasive and growing poverty problem that is largely being ignored by the current government.

This is particularly concerning in terms of the start a child gets in life, with childhood poverty having a significant detrimental impact on society estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

The real unfortunate thing is that instead of recognizing the problem and doing something proactive about it, many on the right-wing are rubbishing the statistics and trying their hardest to ignore the many thousands of New Zealand children who are trapped in poverty.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Children must rely totally on parents and caregivers. On their own, they're destitute.

And yet we have a report boldly titled Child Poverty. That tugs at the heartstrings and makes great newspaper copy but it's wrong. The report should properly be titled family or household poverty.

Actually the report is called 'Left Further Behind: how policies fail the poorest children in New Zealand' (PDF). It talks about household incomes, but focuses on the issue of child poverty. The fact that low household income causes childhood poverty is really a no-brainer. Hide's not going to let the facts get in the way of his propaganda though...

But even that's misleading. The 270,000 "child poverty" figure refers to relative poverty. Your children suffer in "poverty" if your household's net income is less than 60 per cent of your equivalent household's median income. The cut-off income for a couple with four children is just over $1000 a week. Net.

It should come as no surprise that Rodney Hide is entirely wrong! The median household income calculation is done before housing costs (BHC) while the 60% moving line concerns after housing costs (AHC). This is important because of our overpriced rental accommodation in New Zealand, which reached a peak of 50% of household median incomes in the late 1990's.

Rent in comparison to median income is calculated at just under 25% by CPAG, when in fact it's currently 33%. This is important because 70% of poor children live in rental accommodation. Any increase in overal rental costs has a greater impact on the poor and unfortunately, since 2007, rental prices have increased at a faster rate than property values.

If the median income is $1000, the amount of disposable income AHC for the example impoverished household will be 60% of $670 per week. Anybody who can bring up four children on $452 per week with housing costs of 25% deserves an award... On $402 per week with housing costs of 33% they deserve more money... But of course that solution is far too simple for the likes of Rodney Hide.

The reality of the situation makes Hide's pontification about there not being a child poverty issue feckless! One can only assume that Hide is either seriously stupid or he's promoting disinformation because he's a sadist who doesn't care about the harm impoverished children suffer.

It's no wonder that one child in four lives in "poverty" - $1000 a week in the hand is well above any lack of comfort let alone starvation. But for the experts, that's "poverty".

Except it's not $1000 per week in the hand, the calculation is 60% of the median household income (approximately $1289 in 2011) After bloody housing costs. It appears that Hide doesn't know what AHC means or is simply making shit up.

Even with the median at $1289, according to the 60% moving line measure with rent at 25% or $322 per week, a household is classified as impoverished when disposable income is $556 or less per week (not $1000). That's almost half the amount Hide is trying to sell to the public.

When you apply the more strict 50% line measure, 170,000 of children are found to be living in serious hardship, hence the no school lunches that was reported by Campbell Live last week. That's what the ignoramus Hide is trying but failing to respond to.

A windfall that doubled all incomes wouldn't budge the child "poverty" figure. There would still be 270,000 poverty-stricken children. That's because experts define "poverty" in reference to the middle income.

Wrong again Hide... Here's what the CPAG report states:

Between 2004 and 2007 the numbers declined on all measures and that can be attributed to the effect of Working for Families. Since then, relative poverty has increased while the numbers under the fixed line have fallen slightly. The latest figures for 2010 are based on incomes in 2009 and do not reflect the effects of the tax changes in 2010, nor the full impact of the recession, or the Canterbury earthquakes.

Interesting that the amount of childhood poverty has increased at the same time rents started to increase dramatically. The other sad fact is that the 270,000 children living in poverty, according to the 60% AHC moving line measure, is based on income figures from 2009, and the problem is likely to have gotten a lot worse since then. In fact the Ministry of Social Development recently reported that median household incomes fell by 3% in 2011 for the first time since the early 1990's.

In my opinion it's a complete travesty that in such a plentiful country the amount of impoverished children is at epidemic levels and growing. With the right-wing's reluctance to even accept there's a problem, it's likely there will need to be a change in government before anything is done... Meanwhile the children continue to suffer.

22 Sep 2012

Key kisses a crayfish

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

After planting a tree to mark a government investment in new affordable housing, Mr Key asked the child what he thought. "It sucks" was the reply.

LOL! With the amount of available state houses declining dramatically since National gained power and their reluctance to do anything about the shortfall in affordable rental accommodation (10,000 in Auckland alone) the boy couldn't be more correct.

Key then kissed a crayfish... Now that was some mighty fine propaganda.

Winston Peter's was right when he said:

New Zealanders are being fed a diet of heavily orchestrated media events, with plenty of smiles but little substance.

In fact photo opportunities are about the only thing the Nats have going for them at the moment... How pathetic is that?

Kate Wilkinson - Asshole of the Week

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

New Zealand is the only country to vote against further protection for the critically endangered Maui's dolphins at the world's largest conservation summit.

A motion, aimed at stopping the extinction of the world's rarest dolphins and porpoises, including New Zealand's Hector's and Maui's dolphins, was put forward at the IUCN's World Conservation Congress in Korea last week.

Some 576 members, including governments and NGOs, voted for the motion. New Zealand is the only country to vote against.

Clearly all the other countries are able to comprehend the value of saving the Maui Dolphin and as a country that has an economic reason for increasing its chances at survival, New Zealand should have voted differently. Only 55 adult Maui Dolphins are left in the world and as such New Zealand has a moral obligation to do all we can to protect the endangered species.

In my opinion there should be no consideration to commercial fishing interests in the Maui Dolphins habitat. What is the worth of selling a few fish compared to losing a unique and iconic species? There is none... The Maui Dolphins extinction wouldn't just be a conservation disaster; it would impact on our clean green brand and ultimately cost us economically as well.


Our standing on the world stage will have been greatly reduced by the National government's continued ignorance of the evidence that shows protecting the Maui dolphin from fishing impacts is paramount to its survival. That's why every other country bar New Zealand voted the way they did at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in South Korea, the world's largest conservation meeting.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson's reprehensible decision shows that National isn't interested in democracy and that makes them largely an illegitimate government. Nobody could successfully argue that the general public would support such a short-sighted decision... That means National isn't undertaking to properly represent the people's interests. Without a public mandate, National in many regards has lost its right to govern.

Election to power shouldn't allow a government to do anything it likes. Consideration must be given to New Zealand's interests, our environment and especially what the general public wants on any given issue. National has arrogantly ignored both the economic benefit and our conservation ideals by voting not to save the Maui Dolphin, and that makes them a bunch of assholes through and through.

21 Sep 2012

Listener editor government apologist

There's been a theme in recent months that the poor are responsible for their own state of affairs. This is true to a degree, but nobody can successfully argue that the unemployed are in a position to create jobs, and in many ways the mantra of personal responsibility is being used as a way to abdicate the government's social responsibility to look after the less fortunate.

With his now infamous comments that beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own "poor choices," John Key shows he has no proper understanding of what poverty is actually like. "It's all their fault" is obviously a belief that the Prime Minister holds dear as a way to not feel guilty for the hardship National's repressive policy changes are causing.

The irony is that Key, who apparently grew up in a state house with free education and Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett who took advantage of education funding and purchased a house in Taupo while on a benefit have both prospered remarkably under the welfare system, and then set about removing the ladder so that the same opportunities are no longer available.


It's a very ugly side of politics and our society that's in no way helped when the MSM promote hatred towards the less fortunate with outright propaganda.

The Listener's latest editorial (not online yet) is a prime example:

Critics say punishing non-compliant parents by docking their benefits will impact most severely on their children, but in practice it will probably never come to that.

So what's the point in implementing policy that's never going to be used? Is Pamela Stirling saying that it's nothing more than another Balls-up Benefits dog whistle to get the hounds howling? Doesn't she understand that beneficiaries aren't stupid and will simply ignore any threats that aren't followed through?

The idiot editor is clearly basing her assumption that beneficiaries won't be bashed on nothing more than her own ivory tower ignorance. It's far more likely that National's policies that give WINZ the power to cut benefits if clients don't conform will be implemented whenever they can be justified, and sometimes even when they cannot be.

The flipside of their propaganda is the theme that New Zealanders generally believe everybody should have a fair chance in life. Strangely the MSM doesn't recognize the contradiction between giving everybody a fair chance and cutting welfare by $1.6 billion while the rate of unemployment continues to grow. The fact of the matter is that the government's social engineering is designed to save money and nothing more. It will not benefit society or help the welfare dependent one jot.

65,000 more people are unemployed since National gained power in 2008, but instead of focusing on creating employment opportunities, National is focusing on blaming the victims... And that makes them nothing more than a bunch of right-wing bullies. Role on the snap election.

20 Sep 2012

Child poverty is no joke

Yesterday, Green party co-leader Metiria Turei asked:

Will the Prime Minister show these kids that he cares about them and support my bill for a child payment for the 150,000 New Zealand children who, unlike his mates on “Planet Key”, do not get a holiday from poverty?

John Key replied:

I really take offence from the member when she says that we do not care about these young New Zealanders. This Government spends a huge amount of time, money, and energy focused on those young New Zealanders and on trying to give them help. If the member thinks that that will be resolved without giving them a decent education, because she does not support all the measures that this Government has taken to lift education standards, then she is dreaming. If the member thinks that that can be achieved by a universal payment, as I said to the member some time ago, she comes into this House and she bags this Government because she argues that we have people who are well off, and then she wants to give the same millionaires yet more money to raise their kids. She is barking mad if that is what she thinks.

This statement beggars belief... Key is saying that the 270,000 children who are currently impoverished have parents who are millionaires. WTF! If that was the case there wouldn't be a child poverty problem in New Zealand to begin with. I'm really starting to wonder if Key has gone completely bonkers... What other possible explanation could there be for such an insane statement?

Although he was made by the Speaker of the House to withdraw and apologize, this gives us an insight into just how condescending Key can be. His response is all the more disgusting because he answered such an important question with only arrogance and contempt.

If National actually cared about the many thousands of young New Zealanders who are growing up without proper housing, clothing or sustenance, they would support the Green Party Member's Bill (PDF) to replace the In Work Tax Credit with a child payment for all kids who need it. National won't because they simply don't understand the true cost to the economy or care about the suffering poverty causes. What a bunch of rich pricks!

What's in John Key's closet?

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Later outside Parliament, Mr Dotcom said Mr Key had a "fragile majority" and had to make a choice between upholding high ethical standards or staying in power.

"In my personal opinion I think if my leadership would not uphold high ethical standards, I would worry what else is lingering in the dark that I don't know about. As a voter, I would certainly consider who to give my vote to at the next election."

Lingering in the dark eh! I wouldn't be surprised if Dotcom has something on the ungracious John Key as well, but hasn't as yet made it public because of implications to the criminal proceedings he's currently embroiled in.

Perhaps after they've been concluded Dotcom will feel more inclined to shine a light on some of those things that are still "lingering in the dark". I'm pretty sure Key's closet is jam packed with skeletons that are just rattling to burst out.

19 Sep 2012

National's protection racket

Today, John Key stated in Parliament:

The test is whether I can rely on the member’s word, and he has given me an assurance that he met the law. The police have quite clearly said there was insufficient evidence. There is a statute of limitations, and he has complied with the law.

The police have quite clearly said in their report that Banks breached the law when he signed the falsified return. They concluded that the crime met the criteria for a prosecution, but have unfortunately let Banks off the hook because of an incorrect interpretation of the Electoral Act. The statute of limitation applies 3 years after the corrupt practice was committed and a prosecution undertaken now would be within time... Besides, the corrupt practice still exists even if there is no prosecution.

So why does the evasive John Key still believe he can rely on the word of the absentee minister? The simple answer is that he cannot! Kim Dotcom was correct when he said today that the Prime Minister is only allowing Banks to damage his credibility because the Act "leader" holds a one-seat majority. If Banks is made to resign, it will be a 60/60 split with the Maori party holding the balance of power and potentially the government to ransom... It would be unlikely for instance that National's partial privatization of our power companies would then go ahead.

Key has decided to take a knock to his credibility in order to hold onto power and maybe his precious asset sales agenda. Here's the PM digging himself even deeper into Acts grave:



But what is really damning of Banks' conduct is that he requested the donations be split in half so that they could be concealed as anonymous. There are sworn statements to this effect from independent witnesses that he requested two cheques be made out for $25,000 each. Unlike John Banks, there's no reason to doubt their credibility and sworn affidavits.

The Electoral Act 1993 states:

A person is guilty of a corrupt practice who directs or procures, or is actively involved in directing or procuring, 2 or more bodies corporate to split between the bodies corporate a party donation in order to conceal the total amount of the donation and avoid the donation's inclusion by the party secretary in the return of party donations under section 210(1)(a).

Therefore Banks is clearly guilty of a corrupt practice because he willfully entered into an agreement, arrangement, or understanding to hide whom the donations were from. Under such circumstances it's reasonable to expect Banks also knew the identity of the donors in question when he signed the falsified return. He had undertaken to arrange the donations in certain amounts from them after all.

There's no question in my mind that Banks knew the return he signed contained donations from Kim Dotcom and SkyCity that were marked down as anonymous. But let's for a second say that although he personally requested the donations, he wasn't aware they were included in the falsified return.

If I signed a legal document that's found to be fraudulent then my claims of ignorance about what that document contains will not be an adequate legal defense against prosecution. People are obliged to read and understand any legal document they sign, and only mental incapacity or undue influence is a defense in such cases. Obviously Banks wasn't blackmailed to sign the return, although I'm starting to think his mental capacity is questionable. Either way, corruption and incompetence are not traits any Minister should display.

The Prime Minister is running the risk of losing all credibility in trying to protect Banks as everyone can see right through his disingenuous semantics. It seems inevitable that John Banks cannot hide forever behind the slippery John Key, who is obviously losing patience and would rather that the whole damaging affair just went away... That will only happen when Banks is sent back down the river on the next cabbage boat.

18 Sep 2012

Public subsidizing polluting industries

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The bigger issue is how to deal with the carbon costs ahead. The ETS is not bringing in enough income to pay the nation's carbon bills. Five years since its start, the scheme is a tax that has not even paid for itself.

The Government is facing a significant carbon account deficit, and emissions are projected to far exceed targets in future.

Yet draft legislation before Parliament would dump requirements to properly provide for future carbon bills and would instead put costs on to future taxpayers. These changes would breach an election promise to make them fiscally neutral and would remove billions of dollars of future revenue from the ETS.

Personally I think taxpayers' subsidizing polluting industries is entirely unacceptable!

Asked whether there is a deficit of 51 million tonnes, Groser stated: "They've got it completely wrong because the only target we've got is this target to meet the [Kyoto] first commitment period."

The minister's error is made clear by a chart the Treasury prepared, where the title says it all: "From Kyoto Surplus to Government Fiscal Cost Under the ETS". As the Treasury explains, to assess the government's overall carbon position, it adds together the Kyoto position and the net result of ETS comings and goings. The result is a deficit of 51 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent.

The overall deficit would be $300 million at today's low carbon price of $6 a tonne. As it will be paid back in future when prices are expected to be much higher, it would be a $1.3 billion debt at even the Government's conservative price of $25 a tonne.

But that is just the existing debt. The bigger issue is how to deal with the carbon costs ahead.

The even bigger issue is the impact on the environment if we don't reduce our carbon emissions.  National is effectively corrupting the ETS in a way that gives polluting industries free license and public money. It appears that they're in complete denial that anthropomorphic climate change exists, and that there won't be any economic impact from the environmental damage it causes. How stupid is that?

The government's ignorance on this issue is about as short sighted as it gets, with runaway climate change already at our doorstep. The speed at which things are changing has exceeded all scientific projections, and the potential cost to our productive industries will far exceed any short-term economic benefit the government hopes to achieve from its changes to the ETS.

National's Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill (PDF) effectively kneecaps the ETS and ensures that New Zealand will fail to meet its international obligations. Giving the public only two weeks to make submissions on that bill, the amendments to the Climate Change Response Act 2002 puts a very flimsy case for economic growth ahead of the environment... In other words it lets the polluters off the hook.

Many polluting industries are already highly subsidized in New Zealand by the government through cheaper power prices, tax write-offs and government investments. They simply don't require more public money to subsidize their CO2 emissions in order to remain competitive.

One can only conclude that National is putting our futures at risk because they're greedy... Either that or they're completely insane!

17 Sep 2012

National... Masters at passing the buck

People may have noticed a common theme running through Nationals policy direction... Bashing beneficiaries.  Welfare is after all the right-wings favourite bait and switch topic, with Paula Bennett's announcements invariably designed to grab attention away from a damaging hullabaloo being reported by the MSM.

In February, Stuff reported:

Sole parents on a benefit who have additional children will be required to work part-time when their baby is one.

Not only does this policy ignore all the scientific evidence concerning the detrimental effect of severing the attachment bond, it ignores the fact that there isn't enough work available to begin with... In no small way due to National bungling the economy.

Such policy also increases the stress of young parents at a time when stress is already abundant. The negative effect of placing largely unachievable requirements on young parents that impede a child's developmental process is the antithesis of good policy making. The detrimental impact on society because children who do not develop a proper attachment bond grow up to be overrepresented in all the negative statistics should not be underestimated.

Clearly National is attempting to ensure beneficiaries do not have more children through coercion and social engineering... A stupid plan that wont work and is mainly designed to pander to the ignorant bigots amongst us.

In May, the NZ Herald reported:

Women on benefits - including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries - will be offered free long-term contraception as part of a $287.5 million Budget package for the Government's welfare reforms.

But critics say the measure borders on state control of women's reproductive choices.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Prime Minister John Key announced the package yesterday, aimed at supporting beneficiaries to get into training or work.

It includes $1 million to pay for long-term contraception measures such as implants or intra-uterine devices.

I hate to say it, but there are similarities with the Nazi's eugenics program here. Before you invoke Godwin's law in order to dismiss my argument, please let me explain:

Only a pretext of choice exists with case managers having all the power over their clients, and there's a real possibility that contraceptive choice turns into forced sterilization. Why else would National only target beneficiaries with such a disgraceful policy?

Unfortunately many on the rightwing truly believe that poor people shouldn't be allowed to procreate, and soft selling the sterilization of the poor agenda means such fascism has been largely accepted by the general public. Through propaganda and encouraging resentment against beneficiaries many people are deluded enough to believe there are positive aspects to Nationals backwards policy.

But if that wasn't bad enough, earlier this month One News reported:

Beneficiaries with outstanding arrest warrants will no longer receive a benefit while evading police, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced.

"Of the approximately 15,000 people with a current arrest warrant, around 8,200 are on benefits," Bennett said.

"If someone has an unresolved arrest warrant we will stop their benefit until they do the right thing and come forward to the authorities," she said today.

The person will be given 38 days to clear or challenge the warrant before their benefit is stopped, or reduced by 50% if they have dependent children.

National's policy to cut benefits or half them for people with dependent children because they're wanted for arrest will simply not work. In fact it will make many criminals need to commit more crime just to survive. I guess they have to fill all those empty jail cells they're building at Wiri somehow.

Such archaic policy will not help the growing amount of impoverished children in New Zealand, many depending solely on their parent’s meagre benefits. A recent report to the government showed that 270,000 kiwi kids now live in poverty, with inequality growing the fastest of all OECD countries. Clearly punishing desperate people and their children is not an acceptable solution to reduce the child poverty rate, which in my opinion should be at the top of the agenda.

As usual the theme is one of bashing those perceived to be somehow different or unworthy, reminiscent of another era mankind should feel highly ashamed of and never return to. A kinder gentler form of fascism is just as unacceptable!

This week, the Otago Daily Times reported:

New child-care rules - or "social obligations" - for beneficiaries announced this week have proved polarising. The rules include a stipulation that beneficiaries' children must attend early childhood education for 15 hours a week from the age of 3, attend school from age 5 or 6, enrol with a GP and complete core WellChild/Tamariki Ora checks, including immunisation.

If parents do not comply after three reminders, their benefits will be halved.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the rules would ensure the children of beneficiaries - whom she deemed the "most vulnerable" - get the best possible start to life through access to education and health services.

Except the children from families where their income is halved wont get a good start in life at all. They will be even more impoverished and therefore unable to learn properly... In some cases children will not even be able to afford to attend school at all. How stupid of National is that?

Likewise health services will be largely unaffordable to families who are already struggling on welfare that has not kept up with the cost of living. The evidence that such policy will even work is non-existent and Paula Bennett is basing her repressive ideas on nothing more than ideological blindness. The shear ignorance of this woman is astounding!

Now we have an inadequate report (PDF) from private Australian firm Taylor Fry costing $800,000 to show how expensive welfare is for no other reason than to gain more beneficiary-bashing ammunition. In the midst of cutting budgets left right and centre, National has wasted nearly a million dollars gaining information that the Ministry of Social Development already has available. Unfortunately the cost of feeding starving children in schools so they can learn properly isn't as much of a priority for National as finding more reasons to hate the poor.

Instead of actually creating enough jobs to ensure there is less welfare dependency by increasing opportunity, National is playing to peoples fears and prejudices and fostering resentment against those they perceive to be inferior. Beneficiaries have become an ostracized and subjugated people that the government wants to get rid of in all the wrong ways... What an unfortunate and shameful state of affairs.

However beneficiaries are not less worthy... The only real difference is that welfare dependent people have been impacted detrimentally to a greater degree by the dysfunctional system... A system that is hell bent on blaming the victims for its own failures. The National government is happy to promote this failure in order to give people something other than the rightwing agenda to blame. National are after all the masters at passing the buck, which in the end will be the only claim to fame the current government has.

Update: Today, 3 News reported:

Beneficiaries who fail to answer three phone calls and a voicemail from Work and Income are being told they'll have their welfare payments slashed in half.

A step too far to the right off the ledge if you ask me.

15 Sep 2012

John Armstrong vs Bloggers

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Press gallery journalists generally treat the bile and invective directed at them by portions of the blog-a-tariat as an unwelcome and unfortunate byproduct of an otherwise exciting and intellectually challenging job.

You just have to put up with it. To bother to reply is to invite another shower of criticism - plus the old chestnut that if you cannot stand the heat then get out of the kitchen.

Armstrong is right that much of the criticism directed at journalists by bloggers is off the mark. But then again some of it is highly appropriate. Instead of complaining that the good old days of unchallenged propaganda have ended, journalists should be embracing new media... Armstrong the technophobe seems a bit challenged by differing opinions within the blogosphere.

In particular, Armstrong is complaining about this sentence by Gordon Campbell:

BTW, the informed critical analysis of APEC and its bearing on the TPP process provided by the Canadian media was noticeably absent from the New Zealand coverage. By and large, the reports from our travelling media in Vladivostok were indistinguishable from a DPMC press handout. Where we significant players at Vladivostok? Hardly. Still, at least John Key did make this story in the Chicago Tribune.

...And this from Bryce Edwards:

There was a lot build-up and reporting from the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, but nothing much actually seemed to happen. There are only so many ways you can work ‘Pussy Riot’ into a story about trade negotiations. The alternatives seem to be writing about: your hotel, waiting three hours to glimpse Putin, the buffet, bridges or interviewing your laptop about why nothing is happening.

As a refutal, Armstrong claims that the few articles that were written for the NZ Herald amounts to proper coverage, ignoring the fact that it's the content of those articles that matters.

There were copious amounts written about the TPP beforehand, including a major feature in the Herald a few months ago.

With much of the coverage being done by right-wing cheerleaders like Fran O'Sullivan, and editorials like this one, who can really say that the criticism is unjustified? In my opinion, a lack of investigative journalism with a clear bias in favour of Nationals policy should illicit a strong response. Where have we seen any analysis of the problems inherent in free trade for instance?

Without such feedback, how can the MSM know if they're providing a blinkered viewpoint, and more importantly, how can politicians formulate policy that truly represents what the thinking public wants? It's free speech stupid and the blogosphere is here to stay.

There are clear exceptions to the rule, with bloggers like Cameron Slater often not subject to good taste... But to infer Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards and in fact all New Zealand bloggers adhere to such a low ethical and moral standard is grossly inaccurate.

Unlike the mainstream media, the blogs are not subject to accuracy or taste - and sometimes even the law. 
It is the ultimate parasitical relationship. And it will not change until the media start charging for use of their material.

Oh contraire Mr Armstrong, the MSM is invariably not held to account for being factually incorrect. Just this week for instance they have again been promoting a lie in order to protect John Banks from prosecution. The shoe is also often on the other foot, with the MSM gaining much of its content from the blogosphere, taking cues and references in a parasitic relationship for which they pay nothing for.

As for his solution... Charging more for mainstream literature that's often nothing more than government propaganda will simply reduce readership and mean more advertising space is required to pick up the financial shortfall. Personally I'm not particularly interested in paying for the "privilege" of being advertised at, which is where the majority of John Armstrong's income comes from.

It's a pity Armstrong has used gross generalizations to tar and feather all bloggers with the same inaccurate brush. Clearly there's integrity within the MSM as well as the blogosphere, and both should work together to keep each other on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately the article 'Blogging parasites don't let the facts get in the way' doesn't do Armstrong any favours, and I would prefer to see him return to the type of in-depth and principled writing style he's previously been known for. Ah the good old days eh!

14 Sep 2012

Banks let off with a lie

Today, Stuff reported:

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister John Key to sack John Banks over his campaign donations.

Fresh revelations from police files this week have led to further questions about how much Mr Banks knew of $65,000 in "anonymous" gifts from internet mogul Kim Dotcom and SkyCity casino.

In May, Mr Key pledged to fire the small business minister if he had lied over the donations to his failed 2010 campaign to be Auckland super-city mayor.

Yesterday he insisted: "Nothing has changed. He hasn't broken the law ... there is no charge against him."

John Banks should be charged as he knowingly broke the law with the evidence abundantly clear on that matter. So why exactly has he been let off?

In July, the NBR reported:

Assistant police commissioner Malcolm Burgess says there is not enough evidence to consider a prosecution under s134 (1) of the Local Electoral Act 2001.

“The inquiry has established the return was compiled by a campaign volunteer who assured Mr Banks it was accurate before Mr Banks signed and transmitted the return."

In respect of s134 (2) relating to transmitting a false return, police have also dropped their investigation.

"There is a statutory limit of six months from the time of elections when complaints must be laid. Police first received the complaint for investigation on April 27, 2012, well after the expiry of six-month period.”

John Banks knew the return was misleading before he signed it because he had personally requested the split donations so they could be anonymous. It's also concerning that the Police have used the time limit as an excuse not to lay charges and that the mainstream media have been dutifully repeating the lie.

Here's what the actual law states:

226 Time limit for prosecutions

(2)A prosecution against any person for a corrupt practice or an illegal practice must be commenced—
(a)within 6 months of the date on which the prosecutor is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to warrant the commencement of the proceedings; but
(b)not later than 3 years after the corrupt practice or illegal practice was committed.

There's nothing within the Electoral Act 1993 that lets Banks off. The six months concerns when the prosecutor is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence... It has not been three years since the offence was committed by John Banks.

This raises the question of whether there has been political pressure put on the Police not to lay charges?

Clearly the evidence given by Dotcom, his bodyguard, his lawyer, independent witnesses and a number of contradictory statements made by Banks is sufficient evidence and the Act party leader should be held to account. To do otherwise makes a complete mockery of our political and justice system.

13 Sep 2012

John Banks guilty as sin

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

John Banks' mayoral campaign team drew up a list of 10 rich donors to target for $25,000 each, new police documents show.

And Mr Banks asked mutli-millionaire Kim Dotcom for two payments of that exact amount so that he would not have to declare where they came from, the internet tycoon told police.

[...]

No charges were laid against Mr Banks. Police found that although he had filed a false election return, he hadn't done so deliberately, because he had signed it without reading it.

Mr Banks' electoral return for the 2010 election shows five anonymous payments of $25,000.

So old Banksie knew all along what was in the statement and didn't need to actually read it to know he was breaking the law. Therefore he should have been charged appropriately.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, with the Local Electoral Act 2001 (PDF) stating:

134 False return

(1)Every candidate commits an offence who transmits a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in any material particular, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
(2)Every candidate commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 who transmits a return of electoral expenses that is false in any material particular unless the candidate proves—
(a)that he or she had no intention to mis-state or conceal the facts; and
(b)that he or she took all reasonable steps to ensure that the information was accurate.

John Bank's needs to prove that he didn't intend to mis-state or conceal the facts... Merely saying he didn't mean to when everybody knows that's a lie isn't good enough. As we have learnt, his word is worthless!

The onus is on him to prove his innocence in this matter. Clearly he failed to take any reasonable steps to ensure the information was correct, in fact he apparently didn't even bother to read it. No matter, he already knew it contained false information because he had arranged the split donations personally.

Not only is this a flagrant abuse of the law by the contemptible John Banks, it's a travesty of justice because he's not being held to account for his crimes. If John Key fails to act, the "higher ethical standards" he talked about effectively mean nothing, and both National and Act will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have no ethical standards at all.

11 Sep 2012

Chris de Freitas whinging about losing

Today, climate change denier Chris de Freitas had a big bleat in the Herald:

Argument from authority has no place in science. This was the basis of NZCSET's case. Argument on the scientific facts and methods used in analyses must now take place. The question is: will it?

Why the NZ Herald has allowed CSET to publish more denier rubbish I will never know?

But the real question is; if the courts had no authority to decide, then why did CSET take the case to court in the first place? Their fictitious claim has wasted hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Rightfully CSET lost, here's the judgement (PDF):

The plaintiff does not succeed on any of its challenges to the three decisions of NIWA in issue. The application for judicial review is dismissed and judgment entered for the defendant. [and] The defendant is entitled to costs.

In my opinion, Chris de Freitas and the rest of the denier crackpots should be made to pay NIWA's administration costs as well, which will be extensive. Hopefully that will deter any further stupid claims being made by climate change deniers, but I doubt it.

9 Sep 2012

Jian Yang - Asshole of the Week

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Prime Minister has been asked to investigate one of his MPs who allegedly refused to insulate his rental property because he couldn't get a big enough public subsidy.

During a Herald on Sunday investigation, Mt Wellington tenant Joshua Tuitupou said National MP Jian Yang told him he had to get a Community Services Card before the MP would get the home insulated; otherwise, he said, it was too expensive.

If a tenant has the low-income health card, their landlord can claim a subsidy of up to $2500 on retrofitting insulation to the house. Without the card, the maximum subsidy is $1300.

Labour housing spokeswoman Annette King has written to John Key saying taxpayers would find it "unacceptable for an MP to arrange their affairs to provide a personal financial advantage for themselves".

"This allegation requires investigation as, if correct, it reflects on all Members of Parliament."

Jian Yang earns $141,800 per year for being a National list MP. He has recently received a pay rise of $7000, which would take a full time worker on the minimum wage three months to earn. Clearly Yang can afford to pay the extra $1200 it would cost to insulate the house he's renting to Joshua Tuitupou.

This is the type of controversy that gives politicians a bad name. Not only are they living the high life on the taxpayer dollar, in the case of Jian Yang, it appears they're not willing to adhere to National's policy nor repay their social obligation to New Zealand.

To require a tenant to acquire a community services card to gain the full subsidy before insulating his rental property thus manipulating government policy for financial gain is a gross abuse of power as a landlord. It's also an abuse of power as an MP and as a result of that corruption; Yang is clearly not suitable to be a representative in government.

Yang has failed to comply with the principles of public service, with the Cabinet Manual (PDF) stating:

Ministers are responsible for ensuring that no conflict exists or appears to exist between their personal interests and their public duty. Ministers must conduct themselves at all times in the knowledge that their role is a public one; appearances and propriety can be as important as an actual conflict of interest. Ministers should avoid situations in which they or those close to them gain remuneration or other advantage from information acquired only by reason of their office.

John Key needs to act to ensure members of his political party uphold the highest standards so that public opinion of politicians doesn't decline even further. Unfortunately Keys previous failure to ensure MPs are held to account means it's unlikely anything will be done about Jian Yang's corruption. What an asshole!

8 Sep 2012

ACC's corrupt specialists

Today, Stuff reported:

ACC is spending millions of dollars flying doctors around New Zealand to assess long-term clients who have already been assessed by other doctors.

The policy has been slammed by John Miller - one of the country's top lawyers specialising in ACC legislation - who said the so-called “independence” of some assessors was a sham.

ACC lawyers, advocates and claimant groups know those doctors as “hatchet men and women”, Mr Miller said.

“They are not independent, as a substantial part of their income comes from ACC,” he said.

ACC figures reveal the corporation pays millions of dollars a year to a group of “independent assessors”, often flying them to towns or cities where other doctors with suitable qualifications already practise.

In some cases the ACC assessors are flown from the South Island to North Island cities.

At least $3 million was spent last year on airfares and assessment fees for a group of less than 12 doctors.

Outrageous! It's little wonder then that the amount of reviews people have been making concerning ACC declining their claims has increased dramatically from 4937 in 2005/06 to 8069 in 2011/12.

With a group of so-called specialists being employed to ensure long-term claimants are declined the amount of long-term active claims has fallen by 4796 since 2001/02. That's a large group of people who are not getting the assistance they need specifically because ACC's specialists have a vested interest to decline genuine claims. They are in fact paid bonuses to decline legitimate claims, which gives them a financial incentive to do the wrong thing.

This has caused a huge increase in the amount of appeals being filed against ACC in the district Court from 594 in 2008 to 799 in 2011. However many claimants are simply too sick to fight ACC's lawyers for their entitlements, so we should consider the problem created by such repressive policy is larger than these figures indicate.

Clearly the current regime of ACC specialists declining people’s claims without justification and often contradicting existing medical assessments isn't in the best interest of people's rehabilitation. It's also not in the best interest of New Zealand. Such underhanded tactics go against the principle of what the scheme was set up to achieve.

Of course National is happy to allow this dysfunction to continue because their ultimate goal is to privatize ACC. Anything that discredits what was a world leading no fault scheme means that the public will more likely accept the right wings neoliberal agenda to sell ACC. The profit motive will then cause even more issues and ensure Kiwis who are sick or injured do not receive assistance.

As Minister of ACC, Judith Collins should be ashamed of the current situation. Disgraceful!

7 Sep 2012

Old news is not good news

Today, Wikileaks tweeted:


Here's the BBC article:

Sweden has cancelled an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on accusations of rape and molestation.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority website said the chief prosecutor had come to the decision that Mr Assange was not suspected of rape but did not give any further explanation.

The warrant was issued late on Friday.

Wikileaks, which has been criticised for leaking Afghan war documents, had quoted Mr Assange as saying the claims were "without basis".

That message, which appeared on Twitter and was attributed directly to Mr Assange, said the appearance of the allegations "at this moment is deeply disturbing".

It certainly looks very suspicious that the warrant was cancelled without any explanation.

That's until you realise this article is from fucking August 2010. Why Wikileaks is promoting this outdated story now, and trying to trick people into thinking Sweden has again dropped the charges is questionable.

Personally I think such manipulation doesn't do Assange's case any favours.

CTV engineers at fault

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Under-fire CTV Building designer Dr Alan Reay is the victim of an "agenda'' by royal commission lawyers out to personally lampoon him, an inquiry was told today.

Lawyer Hugh Rennie QC said his client has been unfairly treated during the eight-week hearing into the Christchurch office block's catastrophic collapse during last February's earthquake, which claimed 115 lives.

Stephen Mills QC, counsel assisting the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, claimed yesterday that design errors by Dr Reay's firm, Alan Reay Consultants Ltd stood out as the "primary cause'' for the disaster.

And today he went further, saying Dr Reay had turned a "Nelsonian blind eye'' to critical structural weaknesses identified in his office block 20 years before it collapsed.

Unfortunately it's not only in Nelson where people are turning a blind eye to badly designed and constructed buildings. New Zealand has a major problem of unenforced building codes whereby councils, designers and construction companies are all in cahoots to build as cheaply and as fast as possible. The end result is inferior buildings that endanger people's lives.

Alan Reay Consultants are obviously at fault here. Not only should they have declined to undertake the job using such inexperienced engineers, they allowed a design with numerous defects to go ahead knowing that it would be unsafe. This in my opinion is tantamount to manslaughter.

6 Sep 2012

Good dog

4 Sep 2012

Rightwing agenda increasing youth suicide

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

As more youth and Maori are claiming their own lives, it has also been revealed that a young boy under the age of 10 has recently committed suicide.

The boy was one of 547 people who killed themselves in the last year.

Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean released the annual suicide statistics today, which cover the period from July 2011 to June 2012.

Today, the NZ Herald reported (not online yet) the amount of suicides for 2010-11 was 558.

The number of youths taking their own lives has surged by more than 40 per cent, and the suicide of a child under 9 has been recorded for the first time.

Which completely contradicts what Radio NZ reported on 15 August:

Latest statistics show a small increase in suicide for adults and a very slight decrease in youth suicide.

In 2010, 522 people took their own lives, up from 510 deaths in 2009.

There was one less youth suicide, with 113 teenagers dying in 2010.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says the suicide rate is lower than the peak in 1998 when 577 people died by suicide.

Could it be that politicians are ensuring these stats are massaged to not reflect badly on them? But more importantly why are more youth committing suicide than ever before?

The simple answer is that they've lost hope because of adverse social conditions impacting on their young lives. Many of these detrimental influences are caused by the government's economic mismanagement and biased decision making that favours the baby boomers over younger generations.

There's no doubt that National's negative policy direction is partly to blame... In particular increasing inequality has disproportionately affected the young who often bear the brunt when things go wrong.  The further entrenchment of user pays has been detrimental to youth who simply don't have the funds available to pay for things. They are therefore alienated from their communities. A lack of job prospects and inflation far outstripping wage increases has also disproportionately affected the young.

Just like the poverty issue, National is wasting time gathering reports on the reasons for youth suicide before they decide to act or not, knowing all the while it's their repressive policy direction that's partly to blame for increasing youth suicide in the first place. New Zealand has the highest rate of Youth suicide in the OECD.

The solution is pretty simple, National needs to throw away the out-dated neoliberal agenda and wake up from their ideological stupor. They need to ensure the young are not treated as slaves, are able to find their place in society and have support services through proper funding. Only then can New Zealand progress into a brighter future where people do not feel suicide is a viable option. Only then will young people think they have a future in New Zealand at all.