The Jackal: July 2017

26 Jul 2017

Government doesn't care about kids teeth

With New Zealand having some of the worst oral health in the world, you would think that the government would be doing all in its power to improve things.

Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the case, with children from lower socioeconomic areas who have less access to dental health services being disproportionately affected by rotten teeth.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

More than 6600 Kiwi kids admitted to hospital with rotten teeth in one year

More than 6600 children under 12 wound up in hospital in the 2015-16 year to have one or more rotten teeth pulled under general anaesthetic.

After respiratory conditions, dental treatments were the second-biggest cause of hospital admissions that year, the latest for which figures are available. The rate was highest among under-10s.

The deteriorating state of our children's teeth is being called a slow-burning health epidemic, mainly caused by sugary drinks, and is costing the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars.

Terrible! So what's the National led government doing about it?

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said oral health was generally improving, with more children recorded as caries-free than ever before.

This is technically untrue. Based on the high numbers of 1-14 year olds having teeth removed due to decay, dental health for young people has stayed the same since 2011/12. There has been no statistically significant change.

"What we are seeing is not a health crisis, but more people being identified and getting treatment. While it is disappointing to see children with this level of decay and discomfort, it is pleasing to see that they are getting the help needed."

The Government's decision to shift responsibility for decisions on fluoridating water supplies to district health boards would also have a long-term positive effect on oral health, he said.

Dunne did not support a sugar tax, but said if clear evidence emerged showing a tax would make a "tangible" difference to the health of Kiwis, rather than being used as a "revenue-gathering exercise in disguise", he would be open to it.

Once again a government Minister is arguing against his own ministry.

The latest New Zealand Health Survey (DOC) shows that tooth decay and extractions remain very high for young people aged 14 and under, while for those aged 15 and above oral health has worsened since 2006/07. A whopping 55% now visit a dental health care worker only when they have a dental problem or never visit at all.

As for Peter Dunne’s assertion that there's no evidence, the Ministry of Health states:

There is increasing evidence that intake of free sugars leads to weight gain and tooth decay (WHO 2015). Sugary drinks, including fizzy drinks, are the main source of sugars in the diets of New Zealand children (Ministry of Health 2003). In addition, fizzy drinks contain acids that can dissolve tooth enamel, contributing to poor oral health (Ministry of Health 2015d).

The government has used tax as a way to reduce the use of cigarettes precisely because of the negative health effects they cause the general population. The cost on the health system was determined to be too excessive.

So why can’t the government use tax to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and thereby improve the oral health of New Zealanders?

If Dunne doesn’t support government intervention in one of New Zealand’s worst health crisis, then it’s time to vote the rotten bastard out.

About those fake elective surgery stats

The National led government has once again been caught misrepresenting statistics in order to make themselves look good… this time on the numbers of people getting elective surgery.

Statistics on elective surgery are Nationals go to when they’re trying to make themselves look good. Now we find out that their claims of huge increases is just more bluff and bluster.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Is the Government misleading Kiwis over its elective surgery target?

Since 2008 the Government has been consistently hitting or exceeding its target of 4000 extra elective surgeries per year, but it's getting there with one surgery - an eye injection.

The overall increase in electives in 2016 was 4119, and the increase in Avastin eye injections was 2565. In the same year, the number of extra orthopaedic surgeries - that's things like hips and knees - was just 284.

Other surgeries decreased, including ear nose and throat surgery, paediatrics and general surgery.

So the number of cheaper surgeries have increased while the more expensive life changing surgeries have likely decreased.

You’ve really got to wonder then where the extra $304 million over the last three years for elective surgery has gone? Eye injections, which aren't really a surgical procedure at all, will be relatively cheap.

The additional funding is despite the Government not fully paying DHBs for all their elective surgery and other procedures to the tune of $160 last year.

Why is there such a failure to properly fund health you might ask? Well the government wants it all privatised of course. Even Jonathan Coleman's own Ministry has assessed that the current government routinely underfunds elective surgery. Despite this fact, National still claim that they're doing more than enough.

Read more about how the current government is being a bunch of tightwads for elective surgery and other health areas in the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions’ Working Paper on Health (PDF).

25 Jul 2017

Who is advising the National party?

Traditionally, the National led government and their propagandists have blamed the Labour party for any problems it’s faced over the last nine years. Obviously they’re just passing the buck... but their brain-dead supporters seem to love it.

However heading into this election that excuse hasn't washed as well, so we’re seeing National try a new type of obfuscation. Instead of simply passing the buck or not being available for comment on tricky issues, they’re claiming complete ignorance.

On Friday, Newshub reported:

Govt admits it had 'no idea' of emergency housing costs 
Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has admitted "in hindsight" the Government's response to the housing crisis has been too slow.

At current spending rates, $50 million of taxpayer money will go to motel owners and other emergency housing providers in just a year.

"We had no idea how much it was going to cost," Ms Bennett told The AM Show on Friday morning.

"We had no idea it would ever be this big. No Government had ever picked up the bill for this. No Government has ever funded emergency housing."

National are also pretending that they aren’t really in power. This seems like a strange position to take being that journalists have been reporting otherwise for the last nine years.

The problem for National is that they’ve failed on so many social issues it’s not funny. Bill English is now appearing foolish by trying to come up with remedies to the problems their policies, in most cases, have caused.

It’s no secret that Crosby/Textor was advising John Key during many of National's major scandals over his tenure. But who is advising the National party now? Could it be this guy?

24 Jul 2017

Sean Plunket - Asshole of the Week

After this weekend you’ve really got to wonder if The Opportunities Party is trying to be the new Association of Consumers and Taxpayers party?

Not content with mansplaining Lizzie Marvelly about her latest Herald column for most of Saturday, Sean Plunket and his subordinates then moved their attention to Metiria Turei for most of Sunday, obviously jealous of the publicity the Green party received over their most excellent social welfare policy announcement.

To their detriment, TOP's director of communications, Sean Plunket, and other right-wing affiliates have been feverishly throwing every attack line they've ever developed at the Green party co-leader.

Unfortunately this has meant that the policy's attributes and Turei’s most honourable admission of a crime of necessity to highlight the plight of beneficiaries has been somewhat lost in mainstream media translation. Oh well, there's no such thing as bad publicity I guess.

Generally speaking the media didn’t really want to engage in a productive discussion about what needs to change in order to fix our broken social welfare system. Instead they adamantly tried to solely focus on an overpayment from 25 years ago. The beneficiary bashing and hypocrisy has been quit extraordinary!

Here’s churnalist Plunket implying on Twitter that Metiria Turei shouldn't have had a child.


Let’s explain how things work for the ignorant Sean Plunket then shall we. A woman has a child because it’s her body and her choice. If woman were only allowed to have children when all their circumstances were acceptable to people like the chauvinistic pigs in ACT and TOP the world would be a very lonely and mediocre place indeed.

It’s a slippery slope when bigots with a few dimes start attacking the family members of politicians they don’t like and promoting a type of eugenics based on wealth. That’s why Sean bloody Plunket wins this week’s Asshole Award. Why Bomber Bradbury is advocating for these sexist pricks is beyond me?

National - Kiwi jobseekers are drug addicts

There is no question that the National party likes a high level of immigration into New Zealand because it keeps wages artificially low. The side effect is that increasing competition through unemployment and underemployment means many Kiwi jobseekers miss out on finding gainful employment.

The government undertakes such measures to ensure businesses remain highly profitable and their all hallowed economic growth model is retained. In this respect, The National party and their business associates clearly value money over the good people of New Zealand.

In light of these facts, the current government is once again scapegoating beneficiaries in order to try and justify their socially destructive policies.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Regional revolt prompts Government rethink on immigration

Newshub can reveal the Government is on the brink of a major backdown and it's on one of the election's big issues - immigration.

Immigration was due to be tightened on August 14 but there's been a backlash from employers and the regions.

Sources have told Newshub the Government is set to back down and keep the gates open.

Examples of the revolt include Southland, which wants 10,000 more people.

Gower has obviously mistaken revolt for status quo.

"Good Kiwis are hard to find. Guys don't want to let their good Kiwis go," farmer Hayden Nicholson told Newshub.

"I wouldn't. I wouldn't let any good Kiwi go."

Jono Breach also knows how hard it is to get a "good Kiwi". He just got an application from one, so checked his Facebook page.

"His first picture was with wads of cash and bags of drugs, and I'm like, 'Well!'," he told Newshub.

That's why farmers down in Southland have turned to immigrant labour, mainly Filipinos, like "Choco", who loves the work, and even says he likes the Southland frost.

Southland farmers claiming that they're employing immigrant labour because the Kiwi's applying for job vacancies are apparently all drug addicts and not because immigrants will work for less is obviously bullshit!

The working poor and unemployed are basically viewed by National as an expendable commodity... and often used as a political tool to justify various social experiments based on out-dated neoliberal philosophy. The unemployed are the silent victims of big business interests and free market capitalism gone awry.

Here's the evidence showing why the government shouldn't be basing its immigration policy on the heresy of a few idiot Southland farmers.

In February, Radio NZ reported:

Tens of thousands drug-tested, hundreds fail

Government figures show beneficiaries have failed only 466 pre-employment drug tests in the past three years.

So even the government is telling the government it's wrong!

The Ministry of Social Development said the 466 included those who failed and those who refused to take the test.

Some failed more than once.

The ministry did not have the total figure for how many tests were done over the three years, but said there were 32,000 pre-employment drug tests in 2015.

Today, Mr English denied he was scapegoating a few drug users to take attention off record immigration and those workers taking jobs here.

That’s less than 1.4% of jobseekers failing drug tests over a three-year period, which just goes to show that Patrick Gower’s National party propaganda piece is just absolute crap!

Next National will be claiming that anybody who wants immigration to be set at a reasonable level is somehow racist! How boringly predictable. What they won't tell you is that having a proper immigration policy will be good for immigrant workers as well as Kiwis. None of these people really want to be exploited with low wages.

When the National party has become this bereft of ideas during an election campaign, you know it's time for a change of government.

21 Jul 2017

The contrast between Labour and National is clear

With both leaders being equally wooden, the 2017 election looks set to be contested on policy and not just personality, which is a good thing.

There’s no question that New Zealand could do better... with the right levers in place our once great country could start to recover both socially and economically from the last global recession and the neoliberal dogma that has infected politics for far too long.

Obviously National will claim that we already have recovered, but all they’ve really done is created a false economy based on high immigration and inflation that has badly impacted middle and low income New Zealanders, who have been devalued in the current unsustainable system.

The real question will be if enough voter’s have seen and care about the social disintegration that has occurred under the current government? To highlight the damage, I’ve been asking the National party a few questions on Twitter about their once promised brighter future:













Of course none of the National MPs who frequent Twitter bothered to respond. They would prefer to pretend everything is fine based on some arbitrary numbers about the economy.

With National burying their heads in the sand by proposing more trickle down economics with tax cuts for the already wealthy, it’s good to see some coverage about Labour’s alternative budget in the media that shows they resolutely stand with the poor, the marginalised and the downtrodden in New Zealand.

Today, Stuff reported:

Editorial: Clear fiscal choices are on offer 
Tax cut or social spend? Which is affordable? And if both are, which choice is better for New Zealand in the long run?

As political journalist Vernon Small says, Labour's recently released draft budget is relatively careful and even middle of the road. Only a "Right-wing warrior" could call it reckless. That warrior turned out to be Act leader David Seymour who quickly dubbed the Labour plan economically irresponsible. He was joined by National's Steven Joyce who attacked it as tax and spend.

But others have shown it is entirely manageable. Labour plan to spend an extra $17 billion over four years without going into deficit. Nearly half will come from cancelling the proposed tax cuts that National has dangled before voters. That gives Labour an extra $8.3b to play with, according to an analysis by Newsroom financial commentator Bernard Hickey.

One thing the media is currently getting wrong with the budget debate is that Labour is still proposing tax cuts for people on middle and low incomes… they just aren’t proposing to give the lions share to people who don’t need it.

20 Jul 2017

It’s time to take out the trash

The National party might pretend that they care about the environment, but they don’t. Instead it’s treated like an unlimited resource or throwaway item.

Instead of just being used to falsely advertise people into travelling here to drink polluted water, New Zealand's environment must be protected from ignorant politicians and polluting industries. We must ensure that there is a world worth inheriting left for the generations to come.

One way to do that is to reduce and recycle as much rubbish as we can, instead of just shipping it off to China.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Kiwis need new way to clean up as China closes dumps

China no longer wants to be the world's rubbish dump, announcing it will ban the import of 24 kinds of waste, including some plastics, metals and materials, by the end of the year.

The recycling industry in New Zealand says it should spark a rethink on what we throw out.

"This is not something that's going to happen overnight, it's not the wholesale closure of one market, but certainly it does start to make us think we are very reliant on one market and say, 'How do we stop producing this waste in the first place?'," Waste Management Institute's Paul Evans told Newshub.

We obviously have issues of scale in New Zealand meaning government intervention is required to ensure we reduce and recycle our waste.

"In New Zealand, there is a challenge around scale in the products we create and also these products require significant investment," Mr Evans said.

Waste management company Environ NZ is planning a plastics recycling plant for Canterbury and it says the Chinese decision could help its business case.

But the Greens say there's a better way.

"What we could be doing is reducing the amount of waste that we make, and that means taking a really hard line about unnecessary packaging," Green MP Denise Roche told Newshub.

Unfortunately National won’t sort the worsening rubbish problem in New Zealand. They prefer to just leave such things in the too hard basket or put everything in a landfill or burn it. The environment will always play second fiddle to vested business interests under a government led by Bill English.

But Kiwis aren't getting that message. Instead, it's just the opposite.

We send about 3.7 million tonnes of waste to landfills a year - 16 percent more than three years ago - and less than 6 percent of that was recycled.

Each New Zealander produces 3.2 tonnes of rubbish a year and less than 30 percent is recycled.

With China saying we don't want your trash, Kiwis will have to find a way to clean up their own mess.

The National party have proven themselves unreliable at organising even basic waste management programs. Just look at Nick Smith’s procrastination over the used tyres problem for instance. The environment will pay the price if there's no change in government come September 24.

National culpable for youth suicide

The youth suicide rate in New Zealand is atrocious! Every year it stands as an embarrassing failure of our system to look after and value young people properly. But why have things got so bad? Well one reason is a government that doesn’t really care. National is more concerned with token gestures to try and save face rather than actually putting money where it matters.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

More kids in crisis being turned away by public system

Now a deep-thinking 13-year-old, Max has a message for Prime Minister Bill English.

"My mum tried really hard to get me help. She rang many places, places that advertise that they are available 24/7, places that advertise that they are there for you if you need them.

"Nobody was. Nobody believed my mum that I was 10 and had been serious about killing myself," he wrote in a letter to the New Zealand Herald.

People looking for help and not finding it is an all too regular occurrence under National.

"I worry that the taxes we are paying aren't going to the places they should and we will continue to see a rise in child suicide because of this. I hope we can get Bill English to listen to us," Max wrote, signing off with a smiley face. 
Almost 2000 young people like Max were rejected or quickly referred on from specialist mental health services in New Zealand last year. That number, contained in documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA), grows every year.

It’s little wonder that New Zealand remains a world leader on youth suicide. If the government is failing to properly fund mental health and other frontline services and this is worsening people’s circumstances they’re in fact culpable for people committing suicide.

Under Section 179 of the Crimes Act it's illegal to assist someone else to commit suicide, which is arguably what the National led government is doing. They’re assisting hundreds of vulnerable people to commit suicide through a lack of proper funding for prevention services.

19 Jul 2017

The polarised immigration debate

The immigration debate has become badly polarised and you can understand why. On one side we have NZ First because it’s a vote winner and Labour because of their social conscience both wanting to reduce the number of immigrants coming into New Zealand.

On the other we have the Act party, Maori party and National all wanting to maintain or increase the flow of migrants into New Zealand to grow the economy. The Greens now appear to be sitting on the fence.

It’s true that migrants aren’t to blame for the lack of proper infrastructure that would allow them to better integrate without displacing New Zealanders. However that argument doesn’t help the current situation much, whereby wages are being kept artificially low through increased competition and housing is becoming more unaffordable for the same reason.

With the resources it has, New Zealand really shouldn’t be in a situation where we are struggling to look after the current population. That is where the priority should lie and why we should in the short-term look to set a limit. New Zealand simply cannot presently maintain a free-market approach to immigration on a global scale.

Claiming that such a view is “xenophobic and divisive” or that the people expressing it have “irrational fears” and that New Zealanders are “useless and don’t work hard enough” isn’t an argument based in reality. It’s an unconsidered reaction by people with very little intellectual ability or concern for New Zealanders.

When we have stories about migrant kiwifruit workers being taken for a ride, is it any wonder that such underhanded businesses cannot find enough Kiwi’s to fill those positions?

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Kiwifruit industry sting reveals workers ripped off

More than half the employers did not meet all minimum employment standards, including things such as providing employment agreements and paying the minimum wage.

Some employers were able to immediately address the breaches but 20 improvement notices and six enforceable undertakings were issued.

Two employers were issued with an infringement notice in addition to their improvement notice for $1000 each.

"There are no acceptable excuses for employers failing to meet all minimum standards or provide people with all their minimum entitlements," said Labour Inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan.

"Almost all of the employers found in breach were using migrant labour, which is concerning because these are vulnerable people who may not fully know their rights and entitlements. Significant arrears were uncovered with one employer owing more than $25,000 to their employees, and it's likely the lack of records is disguising more widespread non-compliance with minimum wage.

If the highly profitable kiwifruit industry were paying proper wages, they would be able to find enough Kiwi’s to fill those jobs. They would also find that local people work just as hard as migrants, who generally speaking also have very good work ethics. Immigration for the sake of increasing the profits of certain businesses is clearly a flawed argument.

Of course there are benefits to having a good number of immigrants settling in New Zealand and the diversified culture they bring, of that there is no question. But there are also negative consequences of having too many people competing for the same resources. Housing and low wages are two serious and long-term problems in New Zealand that will need time and considerable policy across the board to remedy.

It’s unfortunate to see that certain vested interests have entrenched themselves in unmovable positions and the issue has become somewhat of a political football. Confusing immigrants with refugees or asylum seekers and throwing baseless insults around isn’t going to progress the debate at all. But I guess that was never the intention of some of our biased politicians.

18 Jul 2017

Police are not entitled to special treatment

All too often in New Zealand people get away with serious crimes simply because of who they are or what they do. It’s a fault of our justice system, which often treats people differently and hands down sentences disproportionate to the crimes committed.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Court says man who harassed Dunedin businessman for 2.5 years can be revealed as policeman

The stalker who harassed a Dunedin businessman for two-and-a-half years can now be revealed as a police officer.

Constable Jeremy Fraser Buis, 39, was sentenced following a judge-alone trial in March to 200 hours' community work and ordered to pay the victim, Danny Pryde, $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

A very light sentence considering the crimes committed.

Buis had been on paid leave for nearly two-and-a-half years, which Basham stressed was standard employment practice.

At sentencing, Judge Paul Kellar suppressed the man's occupation at the request of defence counsel Anne Stevens.

Talk about preferential treatment… over two years on paid leave is just ridiculous! But suppressing Buis’ occupation simply because he was a police officer is entirely unacceptable! Thankfully I'm not the only one to think so.

But yesterday, the Otago Daily Times successfully appealed the ruling in the High Court at Dunedin.

Counsel Charlotte Carr said: "To treat a police officer differently could lead to ridicule and contempt from the public and to suppress a particular occupation invites a perception that certain classes of persons will be treated differently before the court."

Justice David Gendall said the judge's grounds for the suppression of the man's profession were unclear and he said there was "significant public interest" in the order being quashed.

"Ordering the suppression of Mr Buis' occupation because he is a police officer undermines the principle that all members of society are equal under the law," Gendall said.

"Police are not entitled to special treatment."

At least some people in our justice system get it. The public perception that police are somehow above the law must not be exacerbated by a biased justice system.

Hopefully in future Justice Gendall’s decision will stand as a test case and all requests for name suppression will be determined on the case and not the occupation or standing of the people involved.

In the mean time Buis should lose his taxpayer funded holiday and find a new occupation more befitting his credentials.

National's suicide rate fiasco

We all know that the suicide rate is dependent on people’s quality of life. It’s not just about personal responsibility; it’s about people’s mental health being adversely affected by negative life events that leads to suicide.

In recognition of this fact, the government has undertaken a number of measures to try and reduce their accountability for making people’s lives worse.

One of those measures was to try and front foot the issue with Nikki Kaye saying she wanted a national conversation about suicide. She then resolutely ignored any attempts at communication.

Yet another way National is trying to limit their culpability is to not set any proper suicide reduction rates.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Suicide reduction goal dropped over fear of Govt accountability

Email correspondence released to the Herald under the Official Information Act shows the 20 per cent target "suggestion" was dropped after the Government's principal mental health adviser Dr John Crawshaw ran the idea past Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman in late February.

After meeting the minister, Crawshaw emailed the expert panel on March 3, saying: "Please be aware that we have raised the suggestion of a purpose of 20% reduction in suicide rates over 10 years.

A 20% reduction over 10 years would be achievable if the government was socially conscious. However with the true extent of the atrocious suicide rate in New Zealand being kept secret and the government refusing to provide more support for things like mental health services, it's unlikely we'll see a reduction anytime soon.

"We have been asked how this can avoid becoming an accountability measure for Government, with insufficient levers, rather than a purpose to motivate the all-of-community approach."

The correspondence was released during work on Break The Silence, a Herald special series focusing on youth suicide. New Zealand has the second worst suicide rate among those aged 25 and under in the developed world. Our teen suicide rate - officially those aged 15-19 - is the worst.

The National led government trying to bury their heads in the sand instead of properly targeting a reduction in the suicide rate is pretty bad. So is the South Canterbury District Health Board stopping one of our lead suicide experts, Mike King, from speaking about mental resiliency in schools.

While Jonathan Coleman is more concerned about saving face, nothing political will be done to reduce our world leading suicide rates. In fact National is likely to make things worse by trying to limit their liability. It's therefore clearly time to vote in a government that actually cares.

17 Jul 2017

Don’t waste your vote on Gareth Morgan

The Opportunities Party (TOP) might seem like a progressive organisation full of well-respected academics that have New Zealand’s best interests at heart. It might also seem that the party is centre left, with many of their policies targeted at the issues left wing voters are most concerned about.

However, the party founder Gareth Morgan’s belief in the free market and its ability to fix all social, economic and environmental problems should not be overlooked. He is after all a capitalist through and through, and has often argued for a continuance of a failed market construct based on his own experience of becoming wealthy.

Environmentalists beware. Gareth Morgan’s unwavering belief in the mighty dollar extends to our much contested water resources, with TOP’s policy stating:

Consent owners get priority to use a certain proportion of the water available for commercial use. However, they must pay the market price for any water used. If any available water isn’t taken up by consent holders it would be offered to non-consent holders at the market price. The price will be set by a tender and will ensure that water goes to the best economic use. Existing consent holders will keep their entitlement (though paying the market price for water) but in the future consents will be auctioned.

Putting the power to allocate water resources through a bidding based tender process for consents that will be kept secret because of commercial sensitivity in the hands of councillors with vested interests isn’t going to be good for the environment.

The only thing it will do is ensure that those who’re already abusing our water resources to make vast amounts of money at the environments expense will have a mechanism to keep the water theirs and the price as low as possible.

There is nothing within TOP’s policy, which often contradicts itself, that says polluting industries won’t get preferential treatment. In fact quit the opposite. TOP envisions that consents will be awarded on economic grounds alone.

Furthermore, Morgan obviously doesn’t understand how resource consents work. Usually a resource consent allows for the maximum amount of allocated water to be taken (often based on spurious scientific information), so in most cases there’s no further water available.

A lack of water flow is one of the main reasons at least 61% of monitored waterways in New Zealand are of poor or very poor quality. The consenting process invariably over-allocates and TOPs water policy proposes to make that problem worse.


It’s not just the environment that would be negatively impacted if TOP ever gained a toehold in parliament to promote their foolishness… it’s New Zealand’s ability to attract migrants to help us rebuild this once great country.

TOP won’t require migrants to have a secure job before they arrive... instead they would be allowed to come on some sort of trial basis. TOP gives no thought to the fact that having migrants openly competing with the unemployed only pushes wages lower and subsequently increases inequality.

Morgan provides no analysis for the effect of reducing criteria for immigrants wanting to work here while increasing the barriers for overseas students. It’s just one of many emotionally based policies TOP believes will gain them support because of public perception.

Unfortunately most of Gareth Morgan’s ideas on immigration are similarly loopy! Here’s TOP once again arguing that the free market way is best:

To reflect the importance of salary level, English language skills, and the ability of migrants to contribute to the economy. Ensure the market rather than the bureacrats makes the final selection from those eligible.

Despite this claim, Morgan proposes to have some sort of arbitrary decision-making process based on fewer criterions in choosing who is worthwhile. As if the immigration system wasn’t being abused enough already... TOP is basically saying; ‘come work in New Zealand for free to see if you’re good enough'. Well I guess that would be beneficial for a capitalist looking to expand his wealth on the backs of the poor. It certainly won’t be beneficial for New Zealand though.

Morgan’s home ownership tax proposal to supposedly tackle property speculation is similarly unworkable. There is no question that it will make it harder for the elderly and other non-earners to hold onto their family homes. Morgan envisions that people older than 65 will be able to just pay the tax through a mortgage to Inland Revenue, which is about the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a long time. There are numerous studies that show keeping elderly in their own homes for longer is beneficial to them and consequently the public purse.

It’s not until you understand Gareth Morgan’s true political direction that his reformist party charade starts to fail. TOP is specifically designed to split the left vote and allow National, a party whose policy Morgan truly supports, a chance at a fourth term in government.

To that effect TOP’s mainstream media supported rhetoric and duplicitous policy is based on easily digestible sound bites specifically designed to trick left wing voters. So if you truly value progressive policy, don’t waste your vote on TOP.

16 Jul 2017

National lied to Police about media bullying


What is it about Todd Barclay that the National party will do almost anything it seems to protect him? Surely the public perception of politicians, although already badly tarnished, is worth more than the Government retaining a majority through Barclay’s single costly vote?

In the beginning, English risked his own credibility when he tried to cover for Barclay’s bold-faced lies. The PM then allowed the disgraced MP to remain a non-attending backbencher on $3000 per week, which further brought the House of Representatives into disrepute.

But what's perhaps the strangest occurrence so far in this politically damaging debacle is the National party lying to Police about Todd Barclay’s staff being bullied by the media.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

What's behind the strange goings on in Southland?

And anything goes is certainly how you would describe the extraordinary goings on in Southland this week after a local reporter, Rachael Kelly, tried to find out what local MP Todd Barclay had been up to since disappearing from public life last month.

Kelly and a local cameraman have been accused of intimidating and threatening behaviour, even of being physically aggressive.

And the allegations were made at the highest levels, from the Prime Minister's office and Parliamentary Service.

Problem is, it's not true.  A video shows what actually happened.

The video evidence is conclusive.

Kelly, accompanied by a cameraman, knocked on a door to Barclay's Gore electorate office where a receptionist came to speak to them. Kelly is well known to the staff at the Gore office - Gore is her beat.



Kelly and her cameraman were in Barclay's office barely more than a minute. After being told Barclay was not at work, and checking he hadn't been there that week, the reporter said thank you and she and the cameraman left.

Watch it for yourself, at the top of this story, if you like.

Yet in conversations with South Island editor-in-chief, Joanna Norris, it was alleged Kelly and her cameraman "barged" into Barclay's office and harassed and intimidated staff - even pursuing them to the back of the office, leaving the staff feeling threatened and under siege.

Harassment is a serious crime, and carries a prison sentence of up to two years.

There was also a complaint about a [different] journalist shouting and abusing Barclay's PR person over the phone.

Apparently he has one, even though it's highly unusual for a backbencher to have their own media minder.

The allegations were made in two phone conversations between Norris and a senior member of the PM's staff, as well as phone conversations with the head of Parliamentary Service, David Stevenson.

Stevenson also dropped the bombshell that police were now involved.

Knowingly placing a false complaint is also a very serious crime and should be treated as such by the Police. If the Prime Minister’s staff and David Stevenson made false complaints to the Police, they’re obliged under the law to investigate.

The Police cannot turn a blind eye to such misconduct like they did when first deciding to close the Todd Barclay investigation. The public needs to see that justice is being served, especially when our so-called leaders are in question.

The fact that National party officials made a false complaint about media harassment cannot be ignored. That injustice alone is a good reason to not vote for National this coming election.

15 Jul 2017

A win on the world's largest tuna company


Thai Union, the world's largest tuna company, has committed to far-reaching reforms that will help protect our oceans and workers at sea. You took action, demanded better seafood, and fought for this victory. Share the good news now!

Read more about it here.

14 Jul 2017

Cutting immigration will increase wages

It’s often amusing to see the whacky arguments the National led government and business owners come up with to try and say cuts to immigration are a really bad thing. But once in a while they really put their foot in their mouths.

That was the case when Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan spoke on The AM Show last Friday, when he said cutting immigration would increase people’s wages.

Today, Newshub reported:

Dramatic immigration cuts would 'kneecap' economy

"When we're running at over 70,000 people coming into the country in net terms over the last year, yet even in that situation employers are crying out for skills, crying out for workers, if you're going to cut off that supply of labour that's potentially going to have repercussions for the economy," he said.

"Wage costs will be pushed up as businesses try to retain staff, that will flow through into higher prices for consumers.

How terrible! I guess paying people enough to retain them instead of relying on new immigrants who will work for less is a really bad thing for a money-grubbing business owner. Of course the argument that businesses can always just pass costs onto consumers is bogus as well.

Strangely Kiernan argues that even with such huge immigration, businesses are still unable to find suitable skilled employees. Clearly the solution isn’t more immigration then, its trades and training.

New Zealand really needs to look at getting some of those 90,000 NEETs (young person who is Not in Education, Employment, or Training) into employment through training incentives and apprenticeships. That’s really the only way New Zealand’s economy will start firing on all cylinders.

In light of this it would be a good idea to vote for a political party who actually value young New Zealanders and will help them to achieve their goals, instead of the National party who is happy to just waste all that young potential.

Oxfam calls for substantive tax reform

Globalisation was meant to provide for all through increased trade and allow everybody more freedom. Unfortunately it’s done the exact opposite, placing more people into servitude and helping businesses avoid paying their fair share by exploiting loopholes purposefully left in our tax and employment laws.

Yesterday it was revealed by One News that a British based company, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), reduced its global tax bills by around $395 million over a period of three years by exploiting various tax systems around the world.

How exactly the anti-competitive conglomerate managed such a large additional profit through tax evasion and not just through exploiting children and forced labour is detailed in Oxfam's Making tax vanish in New Zealand report (PDF):

RB restructured its business in 2012 and 2014 to create regional hubs in the Netherlands, Singapore (now closed) and Dubai. In doing so, Oxfam estimates that RB reduced its global tax bills by around $395m from 2014 to 2016, including by up to $118m in developing markets. RB says ‘none of its operations are linked to tax avoidance in developing countries’, and that these restructures were motivated by a desire to ‘be close to our customers’ (see Appendix 2 in the main report for RB’s full response).

By being close to their customers RB actually means they want to put the economic squeeze on tax paying citizens and ensure their government’s cannot afford to pay for essential services because of decrease government revenue.

However, Oxfam believes that a significant business reason was to save tax. Oxfam's research suggests that RB restructured its transfer pricing (manipulating the price of transactions between subsidiaries of the same group) model to avoid taxes. This has been done by funnelling intracompany transactions through the low-tax jurisdictions of the Netherlands, Dubai and Singapore, such that more profit accumulates there, rather than in the countries in which the MNC’s core business activity takes place—and where tax rates are higher.

Of course RB has denied these claims, while also saying it's normal international practice.

Oxfam estimated that New Zealand lost a total of $15.2 million in 2013–15 because of RB's dishonest tax practices, which would go a long way to helping New Zealand’s homeless crisis. But perhaps the main problem here is that a public boycott of RB products is simply not going to work.

The multinational companies undertaking such tax avoidance have their dirty fingers in too many pies, and the businesses that import and sell their products here aren’t going to change their profitable practices anytime soon either. The solution really needs to come from government, and to that effect Oxfam makes a number of recommendations:

Oxfam calls on governments to implement public CBCR for all
MNCs:

The New Zealand government must set out a timeline for when it
will introduce public CBCR in the absence of a multilateral
agreement, to ensure implementation by the end of 2019.

Oxfam calls on governments to agree a new round of domestic and
international tax reforms that will prevent MNCs from shifting
profits.

The New Zealand government should:

• urgently update and strengthen New Zealand’s transfer pricing
rules to address profit shifting; and
• expand Inland Revenue's Significant Enterprises programme to
include all foreign owned companies with turnover in excess of
$1 million; and
• join with other governments to adopt more stringent measures to
prevent the use of tax loopholes, such as debt-related
deductions, to shift profits to low tax jurisdictions.

Unfortunately the glacial pace at which the National led government has set for its entirely mediocre tax reforms isn’t going to mean a change to the widespread tax avoidance many international companies practice anytime soon. That’s another good reason to vote in a government that will actually do something about the tax loopholes being abused in New Zealand.

Andy Serkis Reads Trump's Tweets as Gollum


No better voice could embody Trump's maniacal, power-hungry ranting than 'War for the Planet of the Apes' star Andy Serkis' famous character.

13 Jul 2017

ACT Party - Asshole of the Week

If you’re new to politics, Act might seem like a somewhat politically enlightened party. You could even be duped into supporting them because of the disproportionate amount of mainstream media attention the Act party receives.

However every once in a while the mask slips and the true ugly belief system of the discriminatory Act party is revealed in all its gory detail. It’s a most horrible visage, full of venomous hatred for the impoverished Maori, a sector of our communities they obviously wish to eradicate.

Barely able to veil their hatred for the diversity that makes this country great, there’s no question that the Act party is the kinder more gentle face of white supremacy.


We all know that Act is a divisive organisation that wants to segregate New Zealand based on people’s wealth and race. It feeds off of inequality like a vampire, growing a most dangerous element in our society with archaic policy likely dredged out of the pages of some long forgotten Milton Friedman essay from the 1950's.

It’s little wonder then that the Act party is littered with the corpses of decaying political dreams. Barely able to muster 1% support, Act’s leader David Seymour seems particularly unhinged in his optimism for the party’s chances.

In truth the future is bleak for the Act party brethren, with many of their founders and funders drying up or dying off. Even with the support of a desperate to stay in power National party, Act looks set for the trash can of political oblivion.

The stark reality of Act's impending demise has caused the party faithful to react badly to any policy that challenges their defunct neoliberal belief system, and Labour's family package announced on Tuesday did just that. With the race-baiting card all that Act really has to play with, the party’s second in command, Beth Houlbrooke, let rip on Facebook:

This is an election bribe. It does nothing to address the real cause of child poverty.

When we pay people to have babies, it encourages them to grow their families when they might not be financially prepared or properly mature. In other words, Labour’s baby bonus could extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse.

The fact is, parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them. ACT believes in personal responsibility, meaning we stand with the majority of parents who wait and save before having children.

Get that... the Act party thinks only rich people should be allowed to have children. Because of their socio economic circumstances, Houlbrooke's bile was obviously directed at impoverished Maori, and as such is clearly racist!

What the Act party supporters need to ask themselves is do they really need a large group of poor people to look down upon just so they can feel better about themselves? Only a true sadist would answer yes!

As the world moves on the cloistered Act party is being left further behind. Newly wealthy Kiwi's aren’t interested in supporting a party with electioneering based on repression. Like most New Zealander’s, they just want to get on with their lives.

This will undoubtedly mean the Act party and their out-dated doctrine of divisive dogma will be forgotten, just like the dusty pages of some old Ayn Rand novel nobody can remember the name of.

That’s why Beth Houlbrooke wins this week’s Asshole Award for the Act party. Fascist’s like them have no place in our political system.

12 Jul 2017

Nationals road to nowhere

Road closures in New Zealand are an ongoing problem, a problem that’s increasing because of heavier rainfall and a lack of proper planning and investment by the current government.

Being that National love the oil industry, you would expect them to be proactive when it comes to sorting our roads out, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

Today, Stuff reported:

Politicians quibble about best solution to Manawatu Gorge closure

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway said he wanted an alternative route built, but believed the Government's roads of national significance policy had prevented the investment.

But National's candidate for Palmerston North, Adrienne Pierce, said pointing the finger at the current Government was wrong, as the gorge had been unstable for decades.

Even though National has been in power for the last nine years, they still blame previous government’s for their inaction.

This is particularly ridiculous when you consider the fact that a New Zealand Transport Agency report was finished soon after the 2012 slip, and the government did nothing to act on its recommendations.

"We are dealing with Mother Nature here, so what is the answer to that?"

The answer is planning and investment where it’s needed and always has been. The fact that National has failed miserably at both throughout New Zealand should be a wake up call for voters this coming election.

11 Jul 2017

Labour return to their values

The Labour party has announced another excellent policy aimed at helping every day Kiwi’s who are struggling. It’s basically a more focused continuation of their working for families’ package, a policy that has been badly undermined by a National led government intent on decreasing our quality of life.

The policy isn’t just about working for families though, it also targets other areas where there’s an obvious need for further social assistance.

Today, Stuff reported:

Labour to prioritise families and scrap Budget tax cuts

It would also reinstate the independent earners tax credit, which was dumped in the May Budget, but keeps in place National's big boost to the accommodation supplement.

The flagship policy, announced by leader Andrew Little in Auckland on Tuesday, aims to contrast Labour's targeted help for middle income families with the extra cash the wealthier receive under National's tax package.

That’s really the tricky bit for Labour... the people they’re trying to help are often non-voters while the people the tax cuts would have benefited are generally speaking still going to vote National. Labour's pragmatic stance is also a political conundrum that has cost them support at the polls.

By making such a policy announcement so close to an election, Labour is once again placing its faith in the public to come out in force on election day. Let’s hope their ground game is able to convince the missing million non-voters that participating in democracy is worthwhile.

It includes a winter energy payment for beneficiaries and superannuitants, announced by Labour on Monday.

That would be paid between May and September and give $450 a year to a single person and $700 to a couple or a person with dependent children.

The howls of protest by right wing propagandists decrying that Labour promising to scrap National's tax cuts is the end of the world could be heard all the way to Rangitoto Island, which clearly indicates that Labour is on the right track.

Labour's winter energy payment is particularly insightful, being that New Zealand has some of the coldest and dampest houses in the so-called developed world. Helping people who couldn’t normally afford to heat their homes properly will go a long way to ensuring they remain healthy productive members of society, which in the long run will end up saving the government and the country millions.

The wool between their ears

We all know that the National party is more concerned with making themselves richer than actually helping New Zealand businesses succeed. Of course these aren’t always mutually exclusive things, but they often stack the deck against Kiwi industry and the public good in favour of their crony capitalist mates… deals that invariably cost our country dearly.

That appears to be the case when Bill English came out against Winston Peters’ government contract plan for woolen carpets. The Prime Minister basically claimed that woolen carpet isn’t worthwhile because competition means synthetic carpets are better because they’re cheaper. Ridiculous eh!

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Winston Peters wants government departments to have wool carpets

Prime Minister Bill English rubbished the idea.

"There's any number of industries that would want a bit of a boost from some kind of political guarantee that their product would be purchased. New Zealand hasn't operated that way for a long time and we're not going to start now," English said.

"It's an unrealistic conversation because Mr. Peters has no idea whether it's commercially viable on the government's terms."

English was obviously lying when he claimed the National party didn’t operate that way. For instance, the government favouring dairying over sheep farming is pretty obvious to all, and is clearly not a viable long-term solution to get New Zealand back on track.

People only need to look at the continued All-of-Government contract with Fuji Xerox when the government has known for a long time that the companies NZ based subsidiary was involved in $285m worth of accounting irregularities fraud to see that National does in fact operate that way.

Saying that the woolen carpet industry in New Zealand isn’t viable while the National led government props up any number of other industries with tax incentives, large write offs, government contracts and tariffs against fair competition clearly shows their favouratism for particular industries… businesses that National party MPs and their associates often have investments in.

A vote for National is therefore a vote for the continuation of crony-capitalism.

10 Jul 2017

America, this is your President

Donald Trump’s presidency is going from bad to worse, with many world leaders now acting on their countries obvious contempt for the United States’ leader.

Here’s a brief video summary of Trumps presidency so far.

President trump handshake Fail with Poland’s "First Lady" Agata Kornhauser-Duda in Warsaw



Donald Trump Gets Lost Walking To His Limo



Macron appears to swerve in effort to avoid Trump at Nato summit



Buzz Aldrin's face when Donald Trump Jr. talks about space is absolutely hilarious


Trump's awkward handshakes with world leaders

New Zealand should value its water

The Green party has hit another home run with the announcement of an insightful addition to their already comprehensive water policy at a well-attended campaign launch yesterday. Not only does it recognise that there should be a value placed on water, it also acknowledges and takes steps to address our often contaminated drinking water supplies in New Zealand.

The Greens are onto a winner here, clearly recognising that the public, 87 percent in fact, don’t want to see millions of litres of our most pristine water exported for free. That public opinion hasn’t stopped the National party and Federated Farmers from making shit up in order to criticise the Greens though.

Today, Newshub reported:

Greens' water tax would ironically hit renewable energy - English

Mr English says the policy would ironically put a tax on hydro electricity.

"They're meant to be in favour of renewable energies and want to subsidise it, and this would go and put a whole lot of tax on it."

Of course Bill English is talking shit again. There’s in fact nothing about taxing water used in hydro dams in the Greens’ most excellent water policy. In fact they say quit the opposite... that because water used for hydroelectricity has a public good and environmental benefit, it shouldn't be taxed.

Check it out for yourself here.

You would think the National party and their farming fan boys would have done a better job at arguing against the Greens’ water policy. After all they had enough indications that it was going to be announced.

Federated Farmers says the tax will ultimately end up in the too-hard basket.

"Regional councils, they want the money if there's any charging for water. Iwi, the Government, they'd like to have a crack at it," said board member Chris Allen.

"It would be quite an interesting discussion as to where the money would end up, but I don't think anyone who thinks they're going to get it will end up with it. I think we should just stay away from it."

Which is pretty much the dumbest argument so far. Saying it’s a ‘can of worms’ that everybody wants so nobody should get any is plain idiotic! It’s about as stupid as saying there’s no polluted waterways in Canterbury.

Federated Farmers coming out against charging bottling companies 10 cents a litre is a public relations disaster for dairying. It will do their argument for why they shouldn’t be fairly charged for using a resource to make large amounts of money that much harder.

The Greens have effectively split their water levy policy into two areas, one that is concerned with the extracting of millions of litres of pristine water for free and one that will put a small tax on other industries. Both of these will help fund the upgrade of drinking water systems throughout New Zealand, which is something the National led government has totally failed to achieve.

Another good reason for putting a small charge on water is it will mean business owners will learn to value it more. At the moment they can take and use as much water as they want and this invariably means water is wasted. It also means more contaminants leach into our waterways.

A small tax on water will mean industries use less because they’ll only use what they really require. That alone is a good reason to support the Greens and their well thought out and received water policy.

8 Jul 2017

Help Greenpeace save our rivers


Our rivers are sick. Intensive dairying means we have too many cows which is leading to pollution of our rivers and lakes.

We urgently need your help to get this video on national TV to expose what is really going on. With your donation we will be able to reach thousands of people with our video, exposing the government's inaction in protecting our beautiful waterways.

7 out of 10 monitored lakes and rivers in New Zealand are already so polluted that they are unsafe to swim in. This is a national disgrace.

Chip in now to get this new video on air and expose what our government is doing to our rivers and lakes through their investment in irrigation schemes to drive more intensive dairying. More cows means more pollution.

Help Greenpeace save our rivers by making a donation here.

7 Jul 2017

Tau Henare vs Lizzie Marvelly

It’s sometimes sad to see the right wing’s response to anybody who speaks out against what is clearly a destructive agenda. Many of them are unrepentant bullies who will stop at nothing to destroy those they perceive to be enemies.

The latest exhibit of their nastiness occurred when singer songwriter Lizzie Marvelly asked for directions on twitter:


The backlash was extraordinary, with a number of insults clearly being completely batshit crazy.

One of the unhinged protagonists is well-known Internet troll and former National party MP Tau Henare, who started insulting Marvelly’s latest performance of the National anthem.

What that had to do with the singer asking for directions is beyond me?


Basically what this comes down to is an ugly talentless former politician criticising a successful, gifted and beautiful woman because he’s jealous and spiteful.


Just to make that point a bit more clearly, here’s a video of Marvelly singing our anthem:



Let’s see the conceited Tau Henare get up and do that.

Normally I wouldn’t bother highlighting such incidents, because unfortunately they happen all the time, but Henare is a special case who on occasion deserves a bit more attention.

Just in case you thought Henare had any credibility to criticise other people, it shouldn't be forgotten that he's been appointed deputy chair of Housing New Zealand in order to enable the sale of the purposefully run down state housing stock.

Clearly the National led government wants a smooth and quiet transition from public to private hands and the dishonest Tau Henare is all too happy to facilitate the sale of our assets dirt-cheap to companies with highly questionable backgrounds.

On Monday, The Daily Blog reported:

Who are the bidders for 2,500 Christchurch state houses? Hold your noses… 
Radio New Zealand revealed last week that Broadspectrum’s parent company in Australia was running the infamous Manus Island detention centre and alongside the Australian government agreed to pay $73 million in an out-of-court settlement for horrendous mistreatment of detainees.

Presumably Amy Adams sees this Manus Island experience as an advantage for Broadspectrum in its bid for Christchurch state houses. Mistreating vulnerable people and putting the boot into beneficiaries is a National government speciality.

And what about the other consortium fronted by the Christchurch City Council’s Otautahi Community Housing Trust? Who are the moneymen behind this? It’s New Zealand’s Morrison and Co who manage infrastructure investor Infratil.

They are no different to the Australian companies in their rapacious behaviour. They made their money from the privatisation of New Zealand state assets over the past 30 years and they aim to continue their role as one of the biggest parasites on the New Zealand taxpayer.

Well-said John Minto.

So when Tau Henare claims to have the moral high ground, while working to steal public assets from everyday hardworking New Zealanders, people should just laugh in his ugly face. 

Former wards of state demand inquiry into abuse


More than 100 former wards of the state gathered at Parliament on Wednesday calling for a full Government inquiry into the abuse they suffered whilst in state care. Mihingarangi Forbes was there.

6 Jul 2017

A major victory for the conservation estate


Over the last five years, Forest and Bird as well as other like-minded organisations have been battling the Department of Conservation and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council over their plans to destroy conservation land.

Today, Radio NZ reported:

Conservation land can't be destroyed for dam - Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled protected conservation land cannot be destroyed for the Ruataniwha Dam.

Forest & Bird challenged a deal between the Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Council to acquire part of the protected Ruahine Forest Park so it could be flooded for the $900 million water storage and irrigation project.

The scheme would dam 22ha of formerly-protected land and give the Department of Conservation 170ha of nearby farmland in return.

The council's investment arm appealed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal last year ruled the process of acquiring the land would be unlawful

In its decision, the Supreme court said the Conservation Act allowed the responsible minister to revoke protected status "only where its intrinsic conservation values no longer warrant such protection".

Despite the unequivocal clarity of the ruling it hasn’t taken the National led government long to react badly to the good news.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

PM signals law change on land swaps after Supreme Court rules against Hawke's Bay dam

Minutes after the Supreme Court ruled against plans for a huge dam in the Hawke's Bay, Prime Minister Bill English said his Government would change the law to allow such projects to go ahead.

In a major victory for conservation group Forest & Bird, the court dismissed an appeal by the Department of Conservation to swap 22ha of conservation land for 170ha of private farmland.

The land swap would have allowed the Ruahine Forest Park land to be flooded to create the country's largest irrigation project.

English, speaking to NewstalkZB, immediately said Parliament would have to consider a law change.

How arrogant is that? Not only did the government waste an undisclosed amount of taxpayer’s money fighting against the law and good sense, they're now looking at just changing the rules to suit their environmentally destructive agenda.

Somehow I don't think English’s claims that they will simply amend the law will be that easy.

Chief executive Kevin Hague urged the Government to respect the Supreme Court's decision.

"Any attempt to change the law will be met with the same determination from Forest & Bird as the Minister of Conservation's illegal land-swap was."

The court's ruling set an important precedent, he said.

"Thanks to this ruling, all of New Zealand's forest parks are protected from development. That is up to one million hectares of conservation land that have been rescued from commercial interests by this precedent-setting decision."

This really is a major victory for our conservation estate.

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and as Kiwi’s we have an obligation to protect this great country from big business interests and unscrupulous councils and governments. Thanks to this Supreme Court ruling, that task just got a bit easier.

Join the fight for nature here

Māori to get equity in new drug law proposal


The Drug Foundation has proposed a new legal framework to reduce harm around drugs, including removing criminal penalties for the possession, use and supply of all drugs. And as our reporter Eruera Rerekura found out one of the aims of the proposed legal model is making sure that Māori are not disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system.

Lions rugby fans harass young girls

It’s unfortunate when sports fans live up to their stereotypical selves and give rugby a bad name. It makes enjoying sport so much harder for the rest of us when drunken idiots are out and about actively wrecking events for other people.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Teen girls sexually harassed by rugby fans

HighJinx's next performance has been cancelled after its teenage members were sexually harassed by rugby fans in Auckland.

A young all-female dance group were sexually harassed by rugby fans before the weekend's Lions clash against the All Blacks.

HighJinx troupe director Carlene Newall de Jesus said her performers – girls aged between 13 and 16 – were subjected to lewd comments while performing before the test series opener at Eden Park on June 24.

Grown men asked the performers to give lap dances during the girls' 90-minute performance outside Kingsland train station, she said.

One 13-year-old girl was asked how much it was "to get a handjob", she said.

Rugby supporters also asked the girls to spread their legs wider during the performance.

Maybe it's time to segregate male rugby fans away from the general public? We could have male rugby fan only areas and transport services to ensure they didn’t ruin events for other people.

The troupe, a youth company specialising in aerial and acrobatic circus, had been invited to perform by the Kingsland Business Society as part of fan entertainment.

HighJinx were set to perform again this Saturday before the test series decider at Eden Park.

However, de Jesus received an email on Wednesday from the Kingsland Business Society stating due to health and safety regulations the performance would be cancelled.

De Jesus, who first wrote about the incident in a column for The Spinoff, said that no specific health and safety regulations were cited.

"The biggest risk for the girls is the things people are saying and not the fact that they're balancing on heads."

I guess the Kingsland Business Society couldn’t well say that the barrage of sexual innuendo by rugby fans meant the second performance couldn’t go ahead. After all that would make the game and it’s supporters look bad.

What about the young girls feelings though? They’ve been verbally abused and then had their event cancelled. In effect the Kingsland Business Society is punishing the victims in this situation.

Most of the harassment came from men wearing Lions garb, she said.

Perhaps we should have male only facilities and events for visiting British louts then? We could charge them more for everything and then donate the profits to organisations like HELP.

Kingsland Business Society chairman Steve Gillett said he was unaware of the incident and said the society's manager Christine Foley was in charge of the entertainment.

Foley was unable to be reached for comment.

I bet she wasn’t. Obviously the Kingsland Business Society was aware of the harassment and that’s why they cancelled the event. They simply wouldn’t have wanted any further bad press concerning such an important game.

Strangely the Police didn’t issue a statement about the fans misconduct at the Lions vs All Blacks Auckland match like they usually do. Perhaps they too don’t want to make rugby supporters feel bad. It would be good if they at least talked to the rugby fans who made lewd comments to underage girls.

I guess when sporting events are the only thing the National party has to keep it afloat in the polls, you can bet your bottom dollar that any bad press surrounding these showcase events is going to be quashed. I wonder what happened to not mixing sport with politics though?