The Jackal: February 2012

29 Feb 2012

Speak to the machine

National have announced that many Housing New Zealand personnel are going to be replaced by an answer machine. There’s one main reason for this, and that’s to lessen the amount of people applying for state houses. National are making the application process even harder, so that people are deterred and have to rent in the private sector.

On Monday, TV3 reported:

An 0800 number and call centre will replace face-to-face contact after Housing New Zealand closes 52 offices and cuts 70 front line jobs.

The change will affect how New Zealanders get in touch with the organisation.
Porirua’s Betty Tahitahi and Brian Grace are concerned about the change, as their Cannons Creek state house has cracks after an earthquake last year.

They say Housing New Zealand is always slow to respond, and are worried having a call centre will make it worse.

“Calling them is not really an option because I could be talking to a computer and they say the same thing again and again. If I go face them then I know things will get done,” Ms Tahitahi says.

There are 69,000 state houses in New Zealand, many of them rented by people who do not speak English.

The right-wingers hate the fact that there are state houses that to a degree keep rental prices down. Even though New Zealand has one of the most expensive rental markets in the world, they want more.

Landlords can only achieve better returns from rack-renting if the alternative is no longer available… hence the move to depersonalise the system to deter people from calling Housing New Zealand, which will result in less efficiency and therefore less state housing.

The other way in which National is trying to destroy the state-housing sector is to leave many houses empty until they are vandalized. They then use this as an excuse to demolish. Between 2008 and 2011, National increased the amount of vacant state houses by a whopping 471 and the overal state houses available declined by 171 in the same time period. 256 houses were demolished.

National is also evicting long-standing tenants and shifting them into less desirable areas to meet the demands of their property speculator buddies.

Housing demand is growing at around 20,000 per year, with building and maintenance not keeping pace. The cost of such mismanagement can be measured in more overcrowding in overpriced and unsuitable accommodation.

Increased hospitalisation, homelessness and decreased productivity are all results of New Zealand’s poor housing stock... the fault of which can be traced back to National's deregulation and policy bungling.

National's nanny state

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

From July, up to 14,000 teenagers aged 16 and 17 who are not in education, work or training and teen parents aged 16 to 18 will be coupled with a private provider to help them with budgeting courses, parenting courses, training or job-hunting.

Their basic costs such as rent and power will be paid by the state, and they will have a payment card for living costs that can be monitored to ensure they do not buy alcohol or cigarettes.

They will receive an allowance of up to $50 a week, but this can increase by $10 a week for a good attendance record at school or for completing a budgeting or parenting course.

Likewise, providers will receive extra funding, but Ms Bennett said payments to them would be based on the results they achieved what she called "real outcomes''.

There are some major problems with this tinkering around the edges.

Firstly, the government will be deciding who the private providers will be. We have seen countless cases of National cronyism over the last few years, and this just opens up another avenue for those who are finding favour with National to line their own pockets.

Secondly, the government cannot hope to control direct payments to landlords so that there is no rorting going on. Having a mechanism whereby the government allocates money that goes directly to landlords is open to abuse.

Thirdly, and more importantly, young people need to learn to budget for themselves. National cannot hope to have people that can look after themselves if the state is controlling their money and perhaps where they live. But what is strange about this aspect of National’s proposed changes is that it goes against their personal responsibility motto.

The hypocritical Bennett needs to look at policy that will achieve real outcomes like creating jobs and providing proper incentives for training that actually meets market requirements. National’s beneficiary bashing will achieve nothing.

27 Feb 2012

Lucy Lawless - Hero of the Week

Today, the Taranaki Daily News reported:

Actress Lucy Lawless and five other Greenpeace protesters have been arrested after spending four days on board the Noble Explorer, which was due to travel to the Arctic in exploration of oil.

Lawless and a group of Greenpeace activists scaled the Noble Explorer's 53-metre drilling derrick and unfurled banners in Port Taranaki at 7am on Friday.

The ship was scheduled to leave the port yesterday to drill three exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska, but the journey was delayed due to the protesters' actions.

Lawless' involvement drew international attention to their cause.

There is no question that the risks involved in drilling for oil in such an inhospitable place outweigh any potential benefit. However with very little financial punishment when (not if) things go wrong, the oil companies see things differently.

It's the wild west out there with a lack of any proper safety mechanisms, old equipment and the same procedures that have proven disastrous on numerous occasions being used.

That's why the international attention Lucy Lawless brings to the cause is so fantastic. People power can change the world. In fact this award is for everybody involved in trying to save the Arctic. Keep up the good work.

24 Feb 2012

Bill English - Asshole of the Week

Last night, the National party website reported:

Opponents of the Government’s mixed ownership programme need to explain to New Zealanders why it would be better to borrow an extra $5 billion to $7 billion from overseas lenders, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Now hang on a second... there's still unanswered questions concerning National over-estimating the potential revenue gained if they partly privatise our SOE's. Firstly, their midrange $6 billion estimate was shown to be $800 million over and above the $5.2 billion book value.

In the current stagnant economic climate, how can National expect to gain more than the book value and why are they still promoting a falsehood?

Last Friday, the NZ Herald reported:

Mr English said the Treasury "had to pick a number" so they picked the mid-point of the range.

"If we did get $6 billion, that would be a gain of sale [of $800 million] which is just a product of the accounting.

"I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess; it's just a guess. It's just to put some numbers in that look like they might be roughly right for forecasting purposes.

"That's an honest answer."

Talk about creative accounting. It's a pity English wasn't honest about the potential sales revenue prior to the last election... you now, the election that apparently gave National a mandate to sell our assets.

Not only did the assholes garner more votes because of their lies, their over-estimating the sale proceeds means they get to say there's a saving of $266 million in interest payments on government debt.

They're also saying they will spend all the money gained on purchasing other taxpayer owned assets FFS! It simply does not compute... will they purchase more tax payer owned assets or pay down debt with the revenue gained?

Last Friday, The Standard reported:

If you want a real estimate of what Treasury thinks asset sales will bring in, look in the PREFU. It has the new capital spending allowance (rebranded the Future Investment Fund by National) being paid for by just $3.86b of ‘balance sheet funding’ (ie asset sales).


Then, they’ve under-estimated the dividends and retained profits, which the buyer gets in the form of a higher share price. In the past five years, the dividend flow from the shares National wants to sell has averaged $326m but they’ve only booked $200m a year in lost dividends in 2016.

So National is planning to sell our assets at a loss. They are completely ignoring the fact that it is cheaper to pay the interest on the debt to service new capital expenditure than it is to lose the revenue streams from the SOE's. How many people would have voted for asset sales if they knew it was going to cost New Zealand money?

The PREFU shows that the estimate is overstated by as much as $3.14 billion. There's also a huge cost in getting the SOE's sold that has not been factored in. But as hard as it is to believe, National's blatant propaganda gets even worse:

“Taxpayers own $245 billion of assets, and this is forecast to grow to $267 billion over the next four years. So we are not reducing our assets. Our challenge is how we pay for their growth, while getting on top of our debt.”

He's actually arguing that funding irrigation systems for farmers is somehow better than retaining our power companies in public ownership. Personally I don't want my power bill to increase dramatically and think that farmers should pay for their own damn irrigation systems.

National simply want another transference of money from the public to the already wealthy. They're obviously unsatisfied with the last round of tax cuts for the rich, which cost us $1.1 billion in the first nine months... they want more.

Despite the recent exponential growth in inequality in New Zealand, National's irrational financial reasoning continues:

The rationale for offering New Zealanders minority stakes in four energy companies and Air New Zealand is quite simple, Mr English says.

“First, the Government gets to free up $5 billion to $7 billion – less than 3 per cent of its total assets – to invest in other public assets like modern schools and hospitals, without having to borrow in volatile overseas markets.

Well since the puppet like English has raised the subject; the government's net debt has increased to FIFTY BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS. That's an increase of 190% in National's first term as government. In comparison, the net debt under the last Labour government increased by only 5.3% in nine years.

English then rambles on about being confident New Zealander's will retain 85-90% of shares, forgetting that State Services Minister Tony Ryall had previously said there was no guarantee of this. English even says there will be greater transparency, when there is going to be less transparency because private companies are not bound by things like the Official Information Act 1982 (PDF).

National need to explain why they're still promoting falsehoods about the potential returns from MOM asset sales, why they've dramatically devalued the current dividends and how they've managed to borrow $50 billion with practically nothing to show for it? There are huge risks involved in borrowing so much money, especially when there's increased interest payable now that New Zealand has experienced (thanks to National) a couple of credit downgrades.

Somehow I doubt the Pinnocchio like English has the ability to honestly explain why he's been lying... and for that he's most assuredly an asshole!

23 Feb 2012

Dismantling the reason for war

As you can see, there is an imminent threat of war between the United States, Israel and Iran. Please keep in mind that it's Fox news, and completely biased, but the message is pretty clear: Iran joining the nuclear weapons club will not be tolerated.

The theological reasons behind Israel's stance are well known, however the excuses for war have focused mainly on a threat of terrorism from Iran and nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.

This is where Gordon Campbell has excelled himself with this article that cleverly dismantles the reasons given by those promoting war with the Islamic Republic of Iran:

In one package, Hague has included every half-baked rationale for conflict. Take the terrorist angle that Hague mentions… why would Iran be any more likely to hand over nuclear weapons to terrorists than Pakistan, the West’s own unstable ally and supporter of terrorist groups? And if we are so very concerned about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East as Hague purports to be, why has Britain – and New Zealand – voted against UN resolutions in the past aimed at making the Middle East into a nuclear free zone?

The propaganda for war is as usual, highly flawed. It is based on a falsehood that the United States and Israel are somehow operating their nuclear weapons industries properly, and can therefore judge a hypothetical threat from Iran.

Here is why their argument is defunct: In July 2007, an Energy Department audit found that the United States had misplaced numerous nuclear weapons parts, and there was widespread confusion of who was responsible. In fact since the fifties, the United States has lost at least eight fully operational nuclear bombs.

But what is even worse is that President Bill Clinton lost the biscuit sometime between 1993 and 2001. The biscuit is a nickname given to the plastic card the president carries with him at all times with the codes necessary to launch a nuclear strike. The list goes on.

In February 2011, the IAEA released a report that was widely referenced:

Pursuing “some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” is significantly different from pursuing a completed, deliverable nuclear bomb. Numerous obstacles stand in the way of Iranian development of the latter capability – obstacles that suggest that a nuclear-armed Iran capable of threatening Israel is a good deal further off than recent reporting would indicate.

Nothing has really changed since then. The propaganda however has gained momentum while the real reasons behind the imminent war go largely unreported on. The west looks set to support yet another ideologically fuelled and fear based invasion that could result in mutually assured destruction... have they/we learnt nothing?

22 Feb 2012

Murray McCully's leaked emails

Товарищи hacked into Foreign Affairs Ministers email account. This is year ago.
We see reports from New Zealand tv. It show some emails. We will leak the emails he talk about.
This is not important to us. This is skid stuff. We move onto more things now.
(Sorry for bad english).

- Long Live RBN

- @TheComradez

до свидания
--- On Wed, 20/4/11, Halia Haddad (MIN) wrote:

    From: Halia Haddad (MIN)
    Subject: NZDF plane availability
    To: "Minister blackberry (" , "Billie Moore (MIN)" , "Minister McCully ("
    Date: Wednesday, 20, April, 2011, 3:45 PM


    As discussed, the broad indications NZDF has given me regarding possible plane availability in May/June is as follows:

    - 23-27 May: a 757 and a 757 backup available
    - 30 May to 3 June: one 757 available.  Would need to look at an alternative backup.
    - 8-11 June: one 757 available.  Would need to look at an alterntive backup.
    - 21-24 June: no 757s available.  Only one C130 available.  i.e. probably no backup planes available.
    - 27 June - 2 July: no 757s available.  Only one C130 available.  i.e. probably no backup planes available.

    Most of July is looking very difficult for the NZDF - no 757s available, and only one C130.


    Halia Haddad | Private Secretary, Foreign Affairs | Office of Hon Murray McCully
    Minister of Foreign Affairs | Minister for Sport and Recreation | Minister for the Rugby World Cup
    Phone +64 4 817 9738 | Mobile +64 (0)21 420 132 | Fax +64 4 817 6510
    6.1 Executive Wing Beehive | Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand

Minister, as discussed PAC has provided some further updates on availability of PIC governments.
Solomon Islands, PNG the week of 13 June can be locked in, with a possibility that Timor could be added; details as follows: Papua New Guinea

As discussed, we are locking in the visit to Port Moresby for 17-18 June.
Solomon Islands Honiara advise that Solomon Islands is ok for June and we can lock this in (but not June 13 which is a public holiday).
At this stage the Prime Minister (Philip), and Opposition Leader (Sikua) are available that week.
Assistant Secretary Pacific at MFAET advises that Minister Shannel is travelling to Korea the first week of June but the intention
is for him to be back in Solomon Islands by 13 June, and that Shannel would therefore be available to meet with you.  Shannel's travel plans
are yet to be finalised, however if we are able to formally to indicate to the Solomon Islands Government that you would visit on the week of 13 June then this will be taken into account in finalising Shannel's date of return.

The Minister of Finance (G Darcy Lilo) will be returning from Vietnam on 12 June and available from then.
RAMSI Special Coordinator confirms he will be in Solomon Islands the week beginning 13 June.
Based on this availability, we would welcome your views on whether we should go ahead and lock the Solomon Islands the week of 13 June,
combined with the PNG visit.

· We are working with NZDF and looking at commercial schedules to Timor-Leste, as well as contacting Timorese officials to seek
their views on a visit the week of 13 June.  If it works out this could then be combined into the travel schedule with PNG and Solomon Islands.

· Post has re-confirmed that PM Tuilaepa will not/not be in country at all the week of 9-13 May (Samoa is an LDC and we assume there may be a connection with the Istanbul meeting).
· I have spoken with

continues:  the Electorate Office regarding the opening of the Food Technology Kitchen at Long Bay College.  They advise that there is a
delegation coming from Korea for it, and it would therefore be impossible to move the date.  There is the option that another
Minister/dignitary opens the event (and Long Bay College has previously been advised that we could not confirm your attendance absolutely),
however as it is also an electoral event the Electorate Office did not recommend it.  Therefore assuming you need to attend this, it would make
it impossible to combine Samoa with Tonga and Vanuatu in the third week of May and have you back for Friday 20 May.

As an alternative, one option we are working on with NZDF and PIC governments is to identify other possible weeks in which we
could combine Polynesian destinations.  This would of course need to fit in around your other travel commitments.
"--- On Wed, 20/4/11, Stephen Parker (MIN) wrote:"

    From: Stephen Parker (MIN)
    Subject: FW: Update on Consular Case: Arrest of NZ Woman in Argentina
"    To: ""Billie Moore (MIN)"" , """" "
"    Date: Wednesday, 20, April, 2011, 1:00 PM"

"    Hi,"

A lot of media attention on the Armstrong drug case.  The DomPost have interviewed her in prison and plan to publish the interview  tomorrow - so its likely to attract further attention.

The Dom Post is asking for comment but I am declining - unless otherwise advised.

However appropriate consular assistance is being provided and this is being communicated through MFAT comms.

"    Regards,"


    Stephen Parker | Press Secretary.
"    Office of Hon Murray McCully (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sport"
"    and Recreation, Rugby World Cup 2011)"

    6.1 Executive Wing | Parliament Buildings | Wellington
    DDI +64 4 817 9568 | MOB 021 838 372| FAX +64 4 817 6510


"    From: WILLIAMS, Catrina (CMD) []"
"    Sent: Wednesday, 20 April 2011 11:51 a.m."
"    To: GEMMELL, Andrea (CON); Halia Haddad (MIN); Amy Laurenson (MIN); Stephen Parker (MIN)"
"    Cc: TAPLEY, Jane (CON); Annelies Windmill; LAW, Anna (CON)"
    Subject: RE: Update on Consular Case: Arrest of NZ Woman in Argentina
    Importance: High


    Hi All

      The Dom Post (Clio Francis) has now interviewed the Sharon Armstrong from prison in Buenos Aires. They've given this info in-confidence to Stephen. Clio reports that Armstrong is distraught and concerned about the level of assistance being offered by NZ. Due to the circumstances of the case there is likely to be a level of sympathy for Armstrong and her predicament. The Dom have asked for comment from the Minister.

    At this stage Stephen and my view is that it is best to keep this at an operational level and for comment to continue coming from the Ministry.

    As we have a good deal of info on where the story is likely to go next - I think we need to be on the front-foot and go back to the Dom this afternoon with a response along the lines of:
        The New Zealand Embassy is Buenos Aires is providing consular assistance to Sharon Armstrong following her arrest last week. The Embassy was informed of the arrest on April 14. An official from the Embassy has visited [will be visiting] [when] Ms Armstrong [when] and the Ministry is in touch with her family. The Embassy has provided [is providing] details to Ms Armstrong for English-speaking lawyers.
"        When New Zealanders are detained overseas the Ministry can provide a range of assistance including informing next of kin, arranging for the transfer of funds for payment of bail or other legal expenses, and attending legal proceedings as an observer. The New Zealand Government or its officials cannot intervene in the justice system or law courts of other countries."
"    Can someone in CONS pls confirm these with post and get back to me with any amends - the Dom is holding the interview for tmrw's edition, likely front-page, so we'll have til around 6pm to provide comment."

"    Also to note that Armstrong's family have alleged to TVNZ that information regarding her situation has entered the media via a leak at MFAT. TVNZ sought comment on this - I've told them its extremely unlikely that this is the case, and the case for running such an allegation is flimsy, but that we would not be engaging publicly with the allegation."

    20 plus calls so far.

    I'm also going to alert SLT and PM's office etc on where we are at media-wise.



"    From: GEMMELL, Andrea (CON)"
"    Sent: Tuesday, 19 April 2011 12:53 p.m."
"    To: ....HADDAD2, Halia (Inet); ....LAURENSON2, Amy (Inet)"
"    Cc: WILLIAMS, Catrina (CMD); TAPLEY, Jane (CON); WINDMILL, Annelies (BNA)"
    Subject: Update on Consular Case: Arrest of NZ Woman in Argentina

"    Further to our email advice (Watson/Laurenson) on 16 April, of the arrest of a NZ citizen, Sharon May ARMSTRONG, on 13 April in Buenos Aires on drugs charges, we provide an update below . "

     Background - NOT FOR RELEASE

"    On 13 April 2011 NZ citizen, Sharon May ARMSTRONG, was arrested in Buenos Aires, Argentina on drugs charges."
    Armstrong was arrested arriving into Ezeiza International Airport with drugs in her suitcase.
    The NZ embassy in Buenos Aires has now been in direct contact with Armstrong and are providing consular assistance.
"    The main family contact is a sister in Australia, where Armstrong was most recently resident.  There is also a brother in NZ.  Consular staff at the Embassy in Buenos Aires, NZHC Canberra and MFAT Consular Division in Wellington have been in contact with the family and are providing consular advice."
    NZ media are aware of the case and MFAT have received some enquiries.
    Armstrong has advised the Embassy staff that she does not wish her name to appear in the media in NZ and would appreciate every effort to ensure her name and circumstances are kept confidential. (She is particularly concerned because she has worked for the NZ government for the past 20 years although she is not employed now).

    Media Points

         MFAT is aware of the arrest of a New Zealander in Buenos Aires.
         The New Zealand Embassy in Buenos Aires is providing consular assistance to the individual concerned .
         The Ministry will not be releasing any further details about the individual at this stage.


    Andrea Gemmell

"    Consular Officer for Europe, the Americas and Australia"
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
    Ph + 64 4 439 8074
    Fax + 64 4 439 8532


"    ""The information contained in this email message is intended only for the addressee and is not necessarily the official view or communication of the Ministry. If you are not the intended recipient you must not use, disclose, copy or distribute this message or the information in it. If you have received this message in error, please email or telephone the sender immediately."" "
"--- On Wed, 20/4/11, [redacted] <> wrote:"

    From: [redacted] <>
    Subject: SPC MEETING and other observations
"    To: ""Murray McCully"" "
"    Date: Wednesday, 20, April, 2011, 2:03 PM"

"    Murray, "

    You will by now have talked to others and gained your own feedback but here is my unvarnished view.

        The message you wanted delivered has been. I gave no undertaking that you would be signing a cheque. That is for you to decide when Jimmy replies to your letter.
"        Your judgement is correct that the region gets precious little outcome for the expenditure of $145 million. The SPC meeting had 176 attendees (7 from Cook Is) for 6 days and cost $250,000  to hold for almost no result. In part because Nzer Capt  John Hogan Director of the Economic Division was not on top of his game?..and I expressed disappointment in his performance at a final meeting with Rodgers, his deputy Mann and Hogan."
        There is a certain amount of smoke and mirrors around the $6 mill your sitting on. Jimmy said it was actually part of the core budget needed to run the SPC. They can try to tie the money to specific activities with measurable outcomes ?????.but it is still core budget. That?s the space you have been left in by successive generations of NZ officials who have attended these meetings.
        I think you have no option but to sign the cheque at this point..  You can give notice of a reduction in the future or create contortions of apparent accountability by tying some or all of the cash to outcomes.. Jimmy knows your view and says he is on board as did Mann privately.
"         Seems to me the real problem is that the SPC and Forum are too big a drain on the resources of region. No matter how you look??..drain on manpower and competition with the regions governments for competent staff, drain on cash, drain on time for officials and pollys at meetings that achieve nothing etc and the challenge for the region is how to reduce the burden.  Some one at one point said an energy issue had been spinning around for 10 years without resolution because leaders had not taken a decision. There is a case to bring the organisations together under leaders so that decisions can be taken including on technical issues but more important to reduce the cost of endless meetings drain on limited good people etc etc  it would lessen dependance on Fiji and bring the whole region and its entities together in a way that might help people resist China. With a careful game plan and some careful lobbying it ought to be possible to get some sort of mandate out of the Forum to advance consideration of the idea."
"        A less ambitious outcome from the forum would be for each country to adopt a target for sustainable electricity generation and for each country to adopt aust, nz, us and french energy standards and labelling for household appliances across all forum countries.  These labels make it easier for shoppers to identify which appliances would lead to the biggest savings on their electricity and gas bills. The SPC put up a budget of $500 k to pursue this and some outfit we are supporting under NZ aid flew a person to Noumea to give a 12 minute presentation????.all a bit underwhelming but MED and the Aussies could deliver an outcome if you wanted it."

    No doubt PK is telling you how wonderful the visit was. So no need for me to duplicate! We do need a double tax agreement and unless you disagree I plan to write to Dunn to push that.

    MFAT Observations

    Seems odd that we have 7 staff ??..3 seconded and 4 local running a $28 mill aid programme yet no trade commissioner in this market which has huge commercial opportunity. I'd have thought you could cut 2 NZAID positions and donate the saving  to NZTE if they were to put a trade person into the post.
    Thought the Don the FM was especially impressive and he is honest which is not a given.

    2. MFAT Phone Book

    Its interesting to take a look at the phone book as it shows who is doing what where
    For example??there are 37 positions in the knowledge services division; 105 in Information and Comms technology division and 48 in the Human resources division and 23 FTE in the communications division
    All back office
    But 6 policy staff in Australia's division and 7 in American division.

    When you talk next to JA you could ask:
"    1, why do NZDF, NZTE and MFAT run completely different ICT systems offshore?"
    2. Why does MFAT own its entire ICT platform?.is it an IT company?
    3.What % of MFAT's communications are rated confidential or above?  ???.all messages shared with me were over classified.
    4.When GCSB sets the security rules how does it take into account the operational/transactional costs for the affected organisations?
    5. I saw evidence of mindless wasteful  admin crap from wellington and am in no doubt insufficient financial delegation is given to HOM's???JA does not have the system humming as I expect he would have had.

    Let me know if there is anything you want me to expand on


"--- On Wed, 20/4/11, Halia Haddad (MIN) wrote:"

    From: Halia Haddad (MIN)
    Subject: Minister's travel to the Pacific
"    To: ""Minister blackberry ("" , ""Minister McCully ("" , ""Billie Moore (MIN)"" "
"    Date: Wednesday, 20, April, 2011, 1:50 PM"

"    Minister, as discussed PAC has done some work on the priorities for Pacific travel over the coming months, and how we can manage these within the constraints of your schedule and the availability of host governments."

"    They have worked within the three weeks we currently have scheduled for Pacific travel (second and third weeks of May, and third week of June).  A quick summary of the options they have worked out is as follows:"

    Visit #1 : Week of 9-14 May

"    Cook Islands (TBC if Cooks agree), Niue, Solomon Islands"
"    Cook Islands (TBC if Cooks agree), Niue, Canberra (TBC if Rudd still available for talks)"

    Visit #2: Week of 16-20 May
"    Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa (NB: including Samoa here would mean not being back in Auckland in time for Friday 20 May)."

    Visit #3: 16-19 June
"    PNG (with the option of adding Solomon Islands before PNG, if Canberra included in the first Pacific trip)."


"    From: NUTTALL, Ruth (PAC) []"
"    Sent: Wednesday, 20 April 2011 1:05 pm"
    To: Halia Haddad (MIN)
"    Cc: SMITH, Andrea (PAC)"
    Subject: Minister's travel to the Pacific
    Importance: High

    Hi Halia

    as discussed we outline options and constraints below:

    Pacific Visits May/June 2010

    Minister?s priority for these visits are the key PIF and bilateral relationships.
    These are: Vanuatu; PNG; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Samoa; Niue; Cook Islands.

"    In the week of 9-15 May, a number of leaders and senior Ministers are out of country and many are involved in the LDCs meeting in Istanbul. (Pacific LDCs are Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu.)  French Polynesia and New Caledonia are relatively low priority in this context, and both are undergoing ongoing, inward-focused political turmoil that is unlikely to be resolved in the next few weeks."


"    PNG has separately advised that they cannot host a visit in May and have offered 17/18 June as a specific time when Foreign Minister Don Polye could host a visit by the Minister, and would like to personally host him on a visit to the Highlands.  (Separately Somare has just announced that he is taking ?indefinite medical leave? ? he?s understood to be getting heart surgery in Singapore - Sam Abal is Acting PM.)"

"    We understand that 17/18 June is the only window available on Polye/PNG?s part.  Polye is a possible successor to Somare and we strongly recommend the Minister agree to this offer, as soon as possible.  (June travel option outlined below)"

    Solomon Islands

"    While Foreign Minister Peter Shanel and Deputy PM Maelanga are planning to go to Istanbul, and Gordon Darcy Lilo will not be in country, PM Danny Philip will be present and welcomes the Minister?s visit.  Philip has seen off challenges to his government and now has a strong margin of support.  Recently he has been joined in government by relatively high calibre politicians such as Steve Abana and Rick Hou.  Post has confirmed that in addition to the PM, leader of the Opposition Sikua, Governor General Frank Kabui and Minister of Development and Planning Coordination (Snyder Rini) expect to be present."

"    With Danny Philip being present and we believe it is worthwhile going ahead with a visit in the week of 10 May.  However an option would be to add a Solomon Islands visit on to a PNG visit in June, if the Minister agrees to do that."


"    We have been advised that the Samoan PM will be out of country in the week of 9 May.  In the week of 13 June, his only availability clashes with the timing proposed by PNG. "

    An option would be to add Samoa to the visit of 16-20 May (to Vanuatu and Tonga for the FTMM).  This would conflict with a commitment in the Minister?s diary on Friday 20 May.


"    The programme for Vanuatu has been scheduled for Monday 16 May, on the way to Tonga for the FTMM.  This suits Vanuatu - PM Kilman will be returned from Istanbul."


"    There appears to be sufficient time available in the programme for 16-20 May for substantive bilateral calls in Tonga, which means Tonga could then be removed from the Pacific Mission trip scheduled for June - freeing up time for another destination in the third week of June (e.g. PNG)."

    Cook Islands

    PM Puna may be in Vienna the week of the Pacific Mission - from 14/15 June.  Cook Islands will also be in budget negotiations that week.  Post is checking availability urgently with CI officials/PM.  It may be possible to keep the Cook Islands at the start of the week of 13 June - allowing a visit before Puna leaves for Vienna.


"    General election on 7 May which could impact on formation of government and a series of electoral petitions could follow.  NB. Post recommends a later visit, but a stopover would be possible."


    Canberra is seeking advice on whether it is still possible to hold talks with Mr Rudd on Thursday 12 May as originally proposed by DFAT.


    Visit options (Note: all travel times are approximate and to be confirmed by NZDF).

    Visit #1 : Week of 9-14 May
    Option A: Cook Islands-Niue-Solomon Islands

    Monday 9 May
    Depart for Rarotonga after Cabinet (arrive Sunday evening local time)  (flight time c. 4hrs)

    Monday 9 May (Tuesday NZ time)
    Programme in Cook Islands

    Tuesday 10 May
    Morning: Depart Cook Islands for Niue (flight time 1h 40).
    Short stopover in Niue
"    Afternoon: Depart Niue for Solomon Islands, arriving Honiara late evening Wednesday local time (flight time c.4hrs)"

    Thursday 13 May
    Programme in Solomon Islands

    Friday 14 May
    Return to Auckland (flight time 5 hours approx)

    Option B: Cook Islands-Niue-Canberra

    Monday 9 May
    Depart for Rarotonga after Cabinet  (arrive Sunday evening ? across dateline)  (flight time about 4 hours)

    Monday 9 May (NB Tuesday NZ time)
    Programme in Cook Islands

    Tuesday 10 May
    Morning: Depart Cook Islands for Niue (flight time 1h 40).
    Short stopover in Niue
    Afternoon: Depart Niue for Canberra (arrive late evening Wednesday local time) (flight time approx 5 hrs)

   Thursday 13 May
   Talks with Minister Rudd in Canberra
   Thurs Evening or Friday 14 May
   Return to Auckland (flight time about 4 hours)

    Visit #2: 16-20 May
    Schedule currently confirmed for Vanuatu and Tonga.

    Option: to add Samoa as follows:

    Thursday 19 May
    8.35am OR 4.05pm: Vava?u to Nuku?alofa (Chathams Pacific flight time 55 mins)
"    (Calls in Nuku?alofa or Vava'u, depending on where PM Tu'ivakano is that day)."
    Afternoon: Nuku?alofa to Apia (flight time 1 h 20 - arrive Apia Wednesday 18 May local time).

    Wednesday 18 May
    Evening: programme in Samoa

    Thursday 19 May
    Programme in Samoa
    Afternoon/evening: depart for Auckland (flight time 3h 45)
    Arrive Auckland evening of Friday 20 May

    Visit #3: 16-19 June
    (NB. 13 June is a holiday in many Pacific countries (Whitmonday))
"    PNG (with option of visiting Solomon Islands before PNG, if not included in the visit 9-14 May)"

    Thursday 16 June
"    Afternoon: Depart Wellington for Port Moresby, arriving late Thursday evening (flight time approx 6h)"

    Friday 17 June
    PNG programme

    Saturday 18 June
    PNG programme
    Late Saturday 18 June / or Sunday 19 June
    Return to New Zealand

"    ""The information contained in this email message is intended only for the addressee and is not necessarily the official view or communication of the Ministry. If you are not the intended recipient you must not use, disclose, copy or distribute this message or the information in it. If you have received this message in error, please email or telephone the sender immediately."" "

Go to original source.

21 Feb 2012

Who killed economic growth?

Unknown police officer - Hero of the Week

What a compelling story:

The officer was called to an incident in which he was required to extricate a man from a running vehicle inside a locked garage about 11pm yesterday.

Nelson Bays Area Commander Inspector Steve Greally said the Officer had to break a window to enter the building, extricate the man from the vehicle and then open a door which had been pinned shut before dragging the man to safety.

"The place was full of carbon monoxide and he had to take gasps of fresh air from the broken window during the rescue attempt," Inspector Greally said.

The officer was affected by the carbon monoxide and required treatment at Nelson Hospital. He is now convalescing at home.

"He's risked his own life to rescue another person and thankfully his efforts have been successful.

The unknown police officer didn't have to risk his life to save the suicide victim, he went above and beyond the call of duty.

I'm not sure if the person he rescued will thank the officer, but they are both expected to make full recoveries.

Personally I think the police officer is deserving of recognition with an order of merit for his bravery. Well done.

20 Feb 2012

Tenants in our own land

There's been a lot of talk recently about whether Pengxin's bid to by Crafar farms has financial backing from the Chinese government. This is important because if they do, it would give their bid an unfair advantage.

Clearly no New Zealand companies are receiving cheap loans from the New Zealand government to acquire land in China or elsewhere for that matter. In fact New Zealand businesses cannot purchase land in China at all.

The difficulty in trying to find information pertaining to Pengxin's financial backing is that they do not make their financial records available to the public. Likewise, the Chinese government keeps its books very secret. The people of China don't even know what their government is spending their money on.

Despite this secretiveness, there is good evidence to show Pengxin Group does receive financial assistance from the Chinese government.

Shanghai Pengxin Group Co., Ltd., is an industrial conglomerate, engaging in real estate development, agribusiness, chemical manufacturing, mining, infrastructure construction, and investments to name but a few of their diverse enterprises. It was founded in 1997 and is based in Shanghai, China.

By 2009, Pengxin Group's meteoric rise saw them with total assets of US13.0 billion, and an asset-liability ratio of 76%. This is before we even look at operational liabilities, such as accounts and taxes payable. Why is this important I hear you say? Well the debt ratio compares a company's total debt to its total assets, which is used to gain a general idea as to the amount of leverage being used by a company.

Pengxin's asset-liability ratio is considered to be high, which means they are more susceptible to market changes. They also need to generate larger returns above the cost of capital. Basically Pengxin Group has to make a large profit on its investments in order to be able to service their debts.

Pengxin is unlikely to have such a large asset-liability ratio unless they have stable and low interest loans ie those available from the Chinese government through the foreign direct investment (FDI) fund.

The financial crisis has given Chinese companies a shortcut for making more acquisitions overseas. Don't believe me? Well that's what the Chinese government says. There's no doubt that China has an agressive policy of using the financial advantage the recession gave them to secure resources and assets from other countries.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce:

China Investment Corp (CIC), the country's $300 billion sovereign wealth fund (SWF), is considering setting up a mechanism for continued new capital, as the country accumulates foreign exchange reserves, said a senior executive on Thursday.


CIC will soon receive $100 to $200 billion in new funds, as the government seeks to reduce its exposure to US government debt, according to a report in the Financial Times on April 25.

However the outbound FDI is likely to be higher. In may last year, the NZ Herald reported:

China's enormous sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation, may have set aside up to 1.5 per cent or about $6 billion of its massive foreign exchange reserves to invest in New Zealand assets, including government bonds, companies and potentially dairy farms.


Set up in 2007 to invest some of China's now more than US$3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves accumulated through trade surpluses, the China Investment Corporation is thought to have been shifting some of its vast resources away from US dollar assets while the US Federal Reserve undertakes its quantitative easing policy, driving the greenback down, and America's economy struggles to recover from the global financial crisis.

The China Investment Corporation is among the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds with about US$332 billion in assets.

The China (government) Investment Corporation (CIC) was founded in 2007 specifically to earn a higher return for government investments. At the time, Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the central bank, said that China's $3 trillion foreign exchange reserves had exceeded a "reasonable" level and there needed to be diversification of the portfolio.

With the economic crisis depressing asset prices worldwide, Chinese firms jumped at the opportunity to bid for distressed foreign businesses, and the Chinese government heavily promoted outbound investment by easing and decentralizing regulatory procedures and broadening financing channels for firms with overseas ambitions.

The National party has been all too happy to help China's expansion into New Zealand, promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) with reckless abandon.

China is also notorious for using tax havens to hide FDI flows from regulators, all of which is alarming many governments from around the world, especially the Americans. According to this Congressional Research (PDF), China's advantage was mostly due to implementing an economic stimulus package in 2008.

The global economic crisis that began in 2008 significantly affected China’s economy, especially its external sector. China’s trade (both exports and imports) and inflows of FDI diminished sharply, and millions of workers reportedly lost their jobs. The Chinese government responded by implementing a $586 billion economic stimulus package (largely aimed at infrastructure projects), loosening monetary policies to increase bank lending, and providing various incentives to boost domestic consumption. Such policies enabled China to effectively weather the effects of the sharp global fall in demand for Chinese products. While several of the world’s leading economies, including the United States, experienced negative or stagnant gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2008 and 2009, China achieved real GDP growth rates of 9.6% and 9.2%, respectively. In 2010, China’s exports recovered to pre-crisis levels, and real GDP grew 10.3%.

So that cover's where the money is coming from. The other point that should be made in context to the Crafar farms is that China recently developed policy to increase their food security. This involves increasing distribution channels within China, purchasing worldwide supply chains and reducing tariff's through trade agreements like the one with New Zealand.

In December last year, China's Ministry of Commerce reported:

The government said on Tuesday it would abolish restrictions on the sale of baby milk, a move that will lower its price by a fifth and help some families cope with plunging incomes and recession.

From January 1 consumers will be able to buy all forms of baby formula at the supermarket, ending a pharmacy monopoly over the sale of power for 1-6 month-old babies, Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis told a news conference.

"Prices will go down by 20 percent," he said.

There is no doubt that this will dramatically increase demand for milk products in China.

Considering the Chinese government's requirement to boost regional and bilateral trade because local production does not meet consumption rates and that China would forfill two of it's policy directives with the acquisition of Crafar farms as well as the huge amounts of funds available, there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Pengxin Group has financial backing from the Chinese government through its outbound FDI policy administered by the CIC.

According to the same NZ Herald article:

Elsewhere, high profile completed Chinese purchases in New Zealand in recent times include Agria Corporation buying a controlling stake in PGG Wrightson, and Haier helping rescue an ailing Fisher & Paykel Appliances by taking a 20 per cent cornerstone stake. China's partly state-owned Bright Dairy also bought Canterbury's Synlait dairy processing operation last year for $82 million.

Tenants in our own land indeed. It is no wonder then that at least one of the Crafar farms is going to be occupied. Today, Radio New Zealand reports:

Members of a King Country iwi are setting up camp on one of the Crafar farms near Benneydale, demanding that their ancestral whenua, or land, is returned.


The occupiers from Ngati Rereahu began setting up camp on Monday afternoon, using shipping containers as a base.

They say they are prepared to stay for the long haul.

Let's hope this will all be a unifying factor to mend Maori and Pakeha relations.

17 Feb 2012

Aotearoa is not for sale

Lockjaw Smith guard dog

On 10 October last year, I wrote to Lockwood Smith to make a formal complaint concerning John Key misleading the House of Representatives about what Standard & Poor's had stated.

The next day, Lockwood Smith responded by email (, saying that honesty in Parliament is of utmost importance, particularly in the context of question time. He went on to say:

A member who had evidence that another member had willfully misled the House would be expected to raise the matter with the Speaker at the earliest opportunity, for the Speaker to consider whether to refer the question to the Privileges Committee. It is for the Privileges Committee to undertake any investigation.

Yours sincerely

Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith

At the time, I understood that to mean that my complaint would be considered, because I had provided evidence to a member of the House of Representatives that John Key had been willfully misleading, and that it was up to the Speaker to refer it to the Privileges Committee.

Then last week I came across this NZ Herald article:

A number of changes to the way Parliament is run will help ensure more integrity from MPs, less use of urgency and greater public scrutiny when Parliament sits again today. 
Changes to the standing orders adopted in November include an order designed to keep ministers more honest by allowing Opposition MPs a chance to respond if they feel a minister has damaged the MP's reputation.

"The Speaker can enable the member, where there is evidence that the member has been adversely affected, to respond [in the House] to that misrepresentation," Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith told the Herald.

"At the moment there is no such mechanism. A breach of privilege complaint could also be dealt with in this way."

Dr Smith said he had received many complaints in the previous term about ministers' answers to oral questions, but had not referred any to the privileges committee because the threshold was high.

"But there have been some where there was a reasonable reason for grievance, yet we've had no mechanism to deal with that.

This will improve the tone of the House, and encourage ministers not to make careless statements they don't know to be fact."

How high that threshold has to be is anybodies guess. But there is no doubt in my mind that John Key misled the House of Representatives in an attempt to discredit not just one Member of Parliament, but an entire political party.

Yesterday, I wrote back to Lockwood Smith requesting information on the progress of my formal complaint. Today, I received a response by email ( from Lockwood Smith's Private Secretary Research and Communications Adviser in the Office of John Key Amelia Abplanalp, who writes:

Members of the public cannot raise matters for referral to the Privileges Committee. I regret that this was not clear to you from my previous response
Yours sincerely,


Amelia Abplanalp | Private Secretary
Office of Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith

Her response? I thought Lockwood Smith had written the initial email.

That aside, why is Lockwood Smith claiming in the media that changes will ensure more integrity and increased public scrutiny, when this is obviously not the case?

Only somebody without a modicum of impartiality would think John Key had not misled the House of Representatives over the S&P downgrade debacle. With Lockwood Smith as Speaker, it appears that the public has no proper process of redress either... and that's simply fucked!

David Carter - extreme biosecurity risk

Today, TVNZ reported:

Around 500 kiwifruit growers will meet today in Te Puke over the Psa disease crippling their orchards.

The growers face the elimination of the gold kiwifruit strain and dire financial problems, said the meeting organiser Rob Thode.

More than 1,000 hectares of orchard in the Bay of Plenty region has been lost to the virus and it is now being seen in South Auckland.

Growers accuse Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) of allowing the virus, which is spread by air, to get into the country because of low biosecurity standards.

They say overseas pollen is allowed to get into the country, whereas in other nations it is illegal.

Kiwifruit growers will come to the meeting tabling six demands, including the Government taking responsibility and admitting the virus is a biosecurity failure, as well as deeming it "New Zealand's biggest ever agricultural disaster" and an "adverse event".

Biosecurity is something we cannot afford to get wrong. Not only does our economy rely on many industries that are susceptible to foreign viruses, pests and diseases, our current financial situation is precarious and cannot adequately meet the costs associated with another major breech in New Zealand's biosecurity.

Considering our isolation, we should be able to effectively mitigate biohazards. They simply should not be reaching our shores, and if they do, there should be an effective procedure in place to ensure they do not get anywhere near our productive industries. This of course relies on proper boarder control, which in turn relies on proper funding.

In their first term as government, National reduced MAF staffing numbers by 55 and reduced their frontline biosecurity budget by more than NZ$2 million. It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that this means less biosecurity and an increased risk to our productive industries.

Last year, National's Minister for Primary Industries David Carter introduced the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill, which proposed further reductions to New Zealand's biosecurity measures. This is exactly the opposite of what should be happening.

We already have Chestnut blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica), the Varroa Mite (Varroa destructor) and Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae) to name a few hazards that have breeched our biosecurity... the cost of which can be measured in the billions of dollars. Why would we reduce security measures further when the consequences of doing so are financially disastrous?

Radiation leak in Auckland

Today, Auckland Now reported:

The Fire Service gave the all clear to a Singapore Airlines freight plane that was examined for a radiation leak at Auckland Airport last night.

The article doesn't say where or what the possible radiation leak was coming from, which seems odd. Hopefully somebody will follow it up.

16 Feb 2012

John Key's internet fantasy

Yesterday, TVNZ reported:

The Government is being warned it risks alienating people if it relies too heavily on internet based services to cut costs in the public sector.

Prime Minister John Key said this week he had been talking with global search engine giant Google about providing software services to cut the cost and improve the efficiency of public services.

Key gave little detail, but proposed being able to interact with Government agencies on a smartphone as a benchmark for lower cost, more efficient public services.

In fact Key gave no details and there has been nothing reported by Google either. Apparently National have met a few times with Google representatives, but this in no way constitutes a plan to replace public sector workers, with many thousands already fired.

The other issue is that people can already interact with the government's websites using smartphones. The problem is that many New Zealander's cannot afford to purchase a smartphone, thus restricting many people's ability to participate properly, particularly those socioeconomically deprived.

John Key, who seems more interested in promoting and grandstanding on the beginnings of an idea, has ignored this reality. Miriam Lips from Victoria University, who chairs a group focussing on e-Government strategies, said:

"I don't think we will end up in a situation where you don't have anyone in the public service as some services are too complicated to fully deal with online" she said.

"(But) Government also has a unique role in society and some people may be left behind, so it needs to keep open multiple channels to also meet the needs of people who aren't that tech savvy."


More detail on the Government's plans is expected in tomorrow's Budget Policy Statement which will also include greater data sharing between departments to avoid people having to repeatedly give the same information.

The Budget Policy Statement (PDF) was released today. It contains nothing about the supposed plan to employ Google's software services. Neither does it mention anything about greater data sharing.

This looks set to be yet another National failure.

15 Feb 2012

Stop the evictions meeting on Saturday

Doug White - Asshole of the Week

There really is a lot of people deserving this weeks Asshole award.

From Lockwood Smiths' discrimination against Mojo Mathers, mining magnate Gina Rinehart's bid to buy up Fairfax to better promote climate change denial, new revelations about the RadioLive DJ Key debacle and a Police witness refusing to answer questions in the Urewera 4 trial all likely candidates... and we're only half way through the week FFS!

However the deciding factor has to be the hurt caused to the families of those killed in the Pike River mine explosions, in no small way caused by the mismanagement of one Doug White.

Yesterday, the Otago Daily Times reported:

Angry Pike River Mine families have slammed the former mine manager for sending an email about a new job 17 minutes after the explosion that killed 29 men underground.

Doug White's emails caused an upset when revealed at the Royal Commission of Inquiry in Greymouth today.


Mr White was examined for hours about gas monitoring in the mine. He said some parts of the gas monitoring system were in place when he arrived at Pike River, and he assumed they were being run correctly.

Whenever gas levels spiked he always investigated, he said.

But the commission heard that when the vital sensor at top of the ventilation shaft was calibrated on November 4, it was wet and muddy, giving different readings than the one at the bottom.

Mr White said he was not aware of the discrepancy at the time, or that one sensor had `flatlined'.

Mine experts have said they think it did this after being exposed to methane greater than 5 per cent after the mine was gassed out one day.

At one stage a crucial sensor was not working for two and a half months.

"I would have expected them (problems) to be picked up during the calibration process at the very minimum. I would have expected that information to be passed on,'' Mr White said.

In fact, there appears to have been little calibration in the months before the disaster. When a fault was uncovered on one monitor, it was not replaced.

Why on earth Doug White would simply assume things were being run properly and that devices were operational instead of having things properly checked, I will never know.

There is the aspect that White inherited many problems at the mine and that some issues were not passed onto him (all of which a proper governmental inspectorate would have resolved), but this is simply further evidence of Whites lack of managerial skills and ability to address the mines problems.

Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know the mine had exploded as he applied for another job, the overall mismanagement of Pike River mine is highly despicable!

There were claims that sensors were intentionally switched off, which at the time I dismissed because the thought of this happening was to horrible to contemplate. However in light of this new information, it appears that sensors were intentionally decommissioned so that work did not have to stop due to excessive gas build-up.

It's not as if gas monitoring devices are all that expensive these days either. Many even calibrate themselves automatically. As well as the badly maintained and in some cases inoperable gas sensors, the mines air circulation system was badly designed and did not work properly, meaning potentially explosive gas build up was inevitable. Management knew this to be a problem well before the disaster occurred.

Doug White has refused to answer questions as to why the mine had no risk assessment process for explosions or high-consequence events and how he could assess whether the ventilation system was dealing with methane hazards with no gas sensors. What an asshole!

National's slack internet security

Today, reported:

The Telecom Xtra account was broken into by international hackers' collective Anonymous, potentially revealing sensitive Cabinet information and cable traffic from foreign posts.

McCully had asked that official emails be forwarded to that account while he was overseas in April last year.

Prime Minister John Key said he was aware of the breach and warned other ministers to be more careful, particularly about passwords.


McCully said he had not had an easily hacked password. "Any breach of security is serious. Mr Key made clear his expectations.

"My office and I are [now] more careful about these things."

Too many assumptions are going on here. Firstly there is no evidence that it was hacker collective Anonymous that gained access to McCully's email account or that the password itself was hacked. This appears to be spin to make the story juicy.

Slack security measures and incorrect procedures mean documents like this one (PDF) marked 'IN CONFIDENCE' and not intended for public release are readily available online from The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website. Nothing groundbreaking... but it's another good example of slackness.

There are many holes in the government's Internet security, mainly because there are so many operators that don't know what they're doing.

National's RadioLive jack-up

Heavily redacted documents (PDF) attained by Labour under the Official Information Act show that the PM's office had an active role in organizing the controversial RadioLive appearance on 30 September 2011 that the Electoral Commission has ruled an electoral programme.

But what is worse is that the PM's Office knew it might be ruled an electoral program, but was fine with this because the responsibility would fall on the broadcaster. A National Party internal memo states:

So the Electoral Commission has replied, and basically said they can’t make a judgment on a radio show without seeing a transcript. But they have been pretty clear about putting the responsibility on the broadcaster, which is useful.

The documents show that the broadcaster was not in control of the content of the show that has ultimately been ruled upon by the Electoral Commission as a prohibited broadcast. John Key as host and his communications manager who wrote the shows brief are obviously responsible.

Winston Peters is correct in that Key should have been referred to Police along with the broadcaster for breaching the law. It is only through a vagary of the Broadcasting Act 1989 (PDF) that this did not occur.

The issue then gets complicated, as a ruling has been made that the show has unduly influenced voters. How many votes were influenced by the show is difficult to quantify, but it certainly makes me question the validity of the current governments right to govern.

With a potential $100,000 fine if the Police decide to prosecute the broadcaster, RadioLive looks set to appeal the decision. They are likely to argue that they were not in control of what the PM and his guests said.

John Key's only defence seems to be that he said the broadcast was an "election-free zone" before undertaking the hour-long show that has been ruled a prohibited broadcast. He again used the excuse in parliament yesterday, when questioned by Grant Robertson:

This is yet another unacceptable subversion of the law and manipulation of the public by National.

14 Feb 2012

Where is the love?

Herald response to Paul Holmes complaint

I received a generic response to my formal complaint about Paul Holmes' racist article this morning. Predictably it in no way properly addresses the issues I've raised.

The worse thing about the Weekend Herald Editor David Hastings response is that he tries to justify Paul Holmes' racist rant under the freedom of speech banner. What an ignoramus!

The real funny thing is that Hastings claims the Herald "strives to publish the breadth of opinion on major public issues." Perhaps the deluded old white guy should read some of Bomber's commentary to see how wrong that statement is.

Anyway... here is the Herald's response and my reply:

By email: 
Thank you for your formal complaint regarding the Paul Holmes column of Saturday Feb 11.

As you are no doubt aware, it is one of many messages we have received on both sides of the ledger since publication. Those supporting his right to his opinion have markedly outweighed those against. Having said that, we are concerned that a number of people have taken such strong exception to it.

There is no question the piece was written in a raw and provocative style. But we do not believe it constitutes "hate speech" or close to it. It is not, as many people have suggested, a commentary on all Maori people or Maori culture generally but on the few protesters who disrupted proceedings. Nor does it breach Press Council principles, which accommodate freedom of opinion in comment pieces.

It was one of a series of opinion pieces discussing Waitangi Day and its place in New Zealand society which began the previous Saturday with a front page cover story by Buddy Mikaere and included an editorial which recognised the obvious divisions in society but supported the idea of the day as being our national day.

The column in question was clearly aimed at the behaviour and attitudes of Waitangi Day protesters at Waitangi itself – similar to criticism by former Prime Minister Helen Clark of protest leaders as ‘haters and wreckers’, in another context. Disparaging and critical words, but neither intended to cast all Maori in that light. Holmes expressed his opinion as a columnist as he is entitled to do in a country where freedom of speech is regarded as a central pillar of public discourse.

Although many have objected to it -- as is their right -- I hope they can recognise that the very ‘freedom’ in the concept of freedom of speech is meaningless if it applies only to speech that offends no one. As has been recognised by the Press Council, true freedom can mean the freedom to be ignorant, offensive and wrong.

The same points can be applied to his comments about anti-fluoride campaigners, La Leche and Syria. They are, as you point out in paragraph 12, opinion.

We strive to publish the breadth of opinion on major public issues and no doubt will carry strong views in the paper and on our website in response to the latest Holmes column.

Yours sincerely
David Hastings
Weekend Herald

Dear David Hastings,

Thank you for your email concerning my formal complaint regarding Paul Holmes' article.

I would like to point out that my email was not a comment, as you seem to believe, it is a formal complaint. There is also little relevance as to the comments Paul Holmes' article received in terms of my complaint, although the comments supporting Paul Holmes' racist article confirm that he is strengthening racism within society.

You state a number of times that it is an opinion of Paul Holmes, yet the article remains incorrectly labelled.

You also say that Paul Holmes is only commenting on those Maori who are protesting, however the article in question often does not make a distinction and is obviously commenting on Maori people in general. Even if this is not the case and as my formal complaint specifically outlined, Paul Holmes is making a number of inaccurate statements concerning the protesters.

I am not particularly interested in the other articles that the Herald ran concerning Waitangi Day and there is no relevance with you raising the content of these articles. My formal complaint is specifically concerned with Paul Holmes' article. Likewise there is no relevance to an historic statement as way of justifying Paul Holmes' racism. Please refrain from attempting to legitimise what Paul Holmes has written by providing spurious and irrelevant reasoning.

You say that freedom of speech is regarded as a central pillar of public discourse. In this you are correct. However there should be no freedom of hate speech and racism that is clearly defined and outlawed under the Human Rights Act 1993. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul Holmes' article is hate speech directed at Maori with the purpose of promoting racism and further division within an already divided country.

I have no problem with people having an opinion, as long as it does not include calling for people to be murdered and stigmatising people on account of their beliefs and race. Therefore your response is summarily rejected as it in no way responds adequately to the issues I have raised in my formal complaint.

Please be advised that I run a number of blogs including one called The Jackal where I will be responding to your unreasonable dismissal of my formal complaint. I will also be forwarding the issue onto the Press Council and the Human Rights Commission shortly for their consideration.

As a final note, it is setting a very bad precedent to allow the publication of articles that call for people to be murdered.

13 Feb 2012

Stop the forced evictions meeting tonight

Paul Holmes - senile old white male syndrome

Once again Paul Holmes has provided an article of pure unimaginative bullshit that deserves all the contempt people can muster. I presume he wrote the piece of trash while in an alcoholic infused stupor, thus breaking the first rule of journalism... don't write when your wasted.

But there's really no excuse for such shoddy reporting. Obviously Paul Holmes' vitriolic diatribe of unadulterated drivel should never have got past the NZ Herald editor, who I presume shares many of the senile old fools bigotries.

Although there's probably little point in complaining, being that the Human Rights Commission is toothless and the Press Council have chosen to ignore my last two complaints about the NBR's biased reporting and NZ Herald inaccuracies... here goes anyway:

By email:

Re: Formal complaint - Paul Holmes

Dear Tim Murphy,

I write to lay a formal complaint concerning an article written by Paul Holmes entitled 'Waitangi Day a complete waste' that appeared on the NZ Herald website 11 Feburary 2012.

1. Paul Holmes makes gross generalisations about the protesters on Waitangi Day saying they are “hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision”. This is an affront to the many people who were protesting about deep sea oil drilling and other matters and who are in full time employment. The statement is discriminatory and inaccurate.

2. Paul Holmes states that the people protesting “believe that New Zealand is the centre of the world, no one has to have a job and the Treaty is all that matters”. However this is clearly not the reality of the situation as many of the protesters have jobs. Such a gross generalisation to try and besmirch their characters is unjustified and unfair.

3. Paul Holmes states that he woke up on Waitangi Day knowing the news would show “irrational Maori ghastliness with spitting, smugness, self-righteousness and the usual neurotic Maori politics, in which some bizarre new wrong we've never thought about will be lying on the table”. The people were not protesting about things that were previously unknown. They were protesting about things that have been well documented in the news already. Paul Holmes' ignorant semantics are clearly designed to create a falsehood in the mind of the reader.

4. Paul Holmes states; “it's a bullshit day, Waitangi. It's a day of lies. It is loony Maori fringe self-denial day. It's a day when everything is addressed, except the real stuff”. This is clearly an opinion and holds no relevance to what many people feel Waitangi Day stands for. The article in question is undoubtedly in breach of principle 4 of New Zealand’s ethical journalism standards because it is not clearly labelled as an opinion piece. Paul Holmes states that only loony Maori support Waitangi Day. He is therefore unfairly disregarding the many thousands of people who are not of Maori lineage who support a day in history when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. Paul Holmes is also discriminating against Maori that do support Waitangi Day by insulting their mental health.

5. Paul Holmes states; “Never mind the child stats, never mind the national truancy stats, never mind the hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children and stop them bashing their babies. No, it's all the Pakeha's fault. It's all about hating whitey. Believe me, that's what it looked like the other day”. There was no anti white sentiment shown by the protesters. Therefore Paul Holmes is being misleading in his gross generalisation that once again is designed to besmirch the character of Maori. Paul Holmes is unfairly trying to stigmatize a race of people because of the actions of a few. It is unlawful to discriminate against a group of people on account of their race.

6. Paul Holmes states that he would not “take my Uncle Ken who died in a Wellington bomber, then try and tell him Waitangi Day was anything but filth”. Again this is an opinion with added emotional context to try and besmirch not only the belief many hold in Waitangi Day, but the day itself. This is not only divisive in a wider context; it damages the good name of the many Maori who fought bravely to defend New Zealand’s liberty. It is also damaging to New Zealand’s credibility on an international scale. Waitangi Day is not filth just because a group of people chose to voice their concerns about governmental decisions in the form of protest, which they are legally entitled to do.

7. Paul Holmes states; “No, if Maori want Waitangi Day for themselves, let them have it”. There has been no argument by Maori that they want Waitangi Day for themselves. Paul Holmes is misleading the reader with his inaccuracies.

8. Paul Holmes states; “Let them go and raid a bit more kai moana than they need for the big, and feed themselves silly.” Again Paul Holmes is generalizing that all Maori are taking more than they require and this is making (them all) big. Not only does this statement discriminate against those Maori who do have weight control issues, in that he is implying they are breaching quota restrictions on kai moana, Paul Holmes is trying to besmirch the character of all Maori. His statement is both bigoted against people with weight control issues and racist against Maori in general.

9. Paul Holmes states; “speak of the injustices heaped upon them by the greedy Pakeha and work out new ways of bamboozling the Pakeha to come up with a few more millions”. Clearly Paul Holmes is showing his ignorance of the treaty claims process. He has used his ignorance to again try and besmirch the character of Maori people. Paul Holmes is being unfair and inaccurate.

10. Paul Holmes sates; “The second looniest are the anti-fluoride crowd. But leave them aside for today”. People who believe in Maori sovereignty and that fluoride could be bad for people’s health are not loony. This is once again a gross generalization by Paul Holmes based on his ignorance. By allowing such divisive ignorance to be published, you have breached a number of human rights and ethical journalistic principles.

11. Paul Holmes states; “The looniest crowd in this country, the most irrational and bullying are La Leche, the breast feeding fascists who've become involved in the most bizarre controversy I can remember. Breast feeding is all they think about.” People who believe breast-feeding their babies is better than bottle-feeding are not fascists. Paul Holmes' grossly generalized statement discriminates against people who prefer breast-feeding. Obviously breast feeding is not all that people involved in La Leche think about. Paul holmes' statement is inaccurate and discriminates on account of peoples belief.

12. Paul Holmes states; “So now Syria will grind on in broken, abject misery for the rest of the year until they shoot the despot”. This is an opinion making the article incorrectly titled. Paul Holmes is also promoting murder as a way to resolve the crisis. Such a statement is currently illegal under New Zealand and international law.

The article in question is inaccurate, unfair, unbalanced and discriminates on the basis of race and peoples beliefs. The article is in breech of Sections 61 (Racial Disharmony) and section 131 (Inciting Racial Disharmony) of the Human Rights Act 1993. Please remove or amend the article so that it adheres to New Zealand's laws and good journalistic practice without delay.