The Jackal: October 2012

31 Oct 2012

Not For Sale

30 Oct 2012

Failing to address unaffordable housing

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Government is to place a six-month time limit on councils processing consents for medium-size projects including housing developments as part of its push to make homes affordable.

It is also looking to councils to free up more land for building and has announced an inquiry into the building industry to identify barriers to improving housing affordability.

The measures announced this afternoon by Finance Minister Bill English are the Government's response to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into housing affordability.

Typical National ploy... Announce policy that has the appearance of being advantageous but will in reality make the problem worse. Giving housing property investors and developers even more ways of cutting corners to maximize their profits while claiming this will help make housing more affordable is pretty damn conceited if you ask me.

Its over-investment because of tax-breaks that's the main factor in driving up house prices, not a lack of places to build. National and their Productivity Commission have entirely failed to address this issue. The problem has got so bad that New Zealand's housing estate is now being used as a tax-haven by foreigners. Still the government shows absolutely no concern or willingness to remedy the problem.

Home Affordability: The Government's Four Key Aims:

* Increasing land supply - this will include more greenfields and brownfields developments and allow further densification of cities, where appropriate.

* Reducing delays and costs of RMA processes associated with housing - this includes introducing a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized consents.

* Improving the timely provision of infrastructure to support new housing - this will include considering new ways to co-ordinate and manage infrastructure for subdivisions.

* Improving productivity in the construction sector.

Did the rightwing not learn anything from the leaky building debacle that resulted from widespread deregulation? The main player who benefitted from that was Fletcher Building because they supplied most of the defective materials. I guess their lobbyists have been working overtime again to ensure more deregulation... And once again, when the problems surface, they will likely not be held to account.

In my opinion, affordable housing should be a human right for everybody, and in a country like New Zealand there should be an overabundance of healthy homes for people to live in. The fact that over half of the countries houses are not maintained properly and are grossly overpriced is perhaps the governments biggest failure.

Without the current lot of diplomatic scoundrels showing any gumption to address the real issues concerning unaffordable housing, we should expect the amount of Kiwi families who own the house they live in to continue to decline. I guess that brighter future John Key talked about doesn't apply to the New Zealanders who are forced to indefinitely rent the house they live in.

National ignores democracy

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

The release of confidential documents has for the first time shed light on reasons behind the Government's reluctance to restore full democracy to Canterbury regional politics.

The Government suspended democracy and restricted legal action in Canterbury to protect an agriculture boom potentially worth more than $5 billion to the national economy, documents reveal.

It feared the economic boom promised by Canterbury irrigation could be in jeopardy unless Environment Canterbury (ECan) was "stable, effective and efficient", says a Government report on August 27.

Despicable! National have got rid of the democratically elected council because they were more likely to adhere to the laws that protect the environment.

As an excuse for removing the council the Minister for Primary Industries said the council was ineffective, had lost the confidence of its community, including every one of its 10 mayors. David Carter also said the council had put at risk the region’s prospects for economic growth. What a load of rubbish!

Without that democratically elected oversight, the tax-evading farmers will install their huge irrigation systems with no concern for the environmental impact and the public will have no way of holding the polluters to account.

Being that farms are generally privately owned businesses, this is a direct attack on the people's democratic rights to have a say in how the country is being run. If there's no dully elected oversight in how the irrigation systems operate, there will be an increase in effluent discharge and therefore more pollution in our already polluted waterways.

52% of monitored recreational sites are already unsafe to swim in.

A Government document, disclosed to The Press under the Official Information Act, reveals that this needs to be continued because there is a "strong risk" people could revert to appealing to the Environment Court.

It's interesting that National view the already weakened laws and often-ineffectual Environment Court that sometimes fails to safeguard the environment for future generations as a threat to their commercial interests. They seem completely oblivious to the fact that in the long run not protecting our environment will be far more costly.

There is no doubt that Nationals environmentally naïve policy direction will not only be detrimental to our clean and green branding, but our Kiwi way of life as well. Clearly the farmers and their political party are only interested in the commercialization of nature.

It also shows that Nationals talk of cleaning up our waterways is entirely meaningless. In fact it appears that they have no consideration for the environment at all. They're also willing to forego democracy in order to further their private interests in the farming industry. What a bunch of fascists!

In my opinion, a few farmers becoming wealthier is no reason to forego our democratic process... It's also no reason to increase the pollution in our waterways either.

27 Oct 2012

Pathetic fine for Rena disaster

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Greece-based Daina Shipping Company was yesterday sentenced at the Tauranga District Court to pay $300,000 for discharging harmful substances into the sea after the ship's grounding on Astrolabe Reef on October 5 last year.

The charge carried a maximum fine of $600,000 but Judge Robert Wolff said while the spill had been disastrous for wildlife, the coastline and local communities, the company had not deliberately caused it.


In sentencing the owners Judge Wolff said the fault was not theirs but "the result of poor navigational skills by the captain and the first mate".

WTF! A privately owned company is not liable for the equipment it owns? This seems entirely contradictory to the current law and sets in my opinion an unacceptable precedent. What on earth was Judge Robert Wolff thinking?

The company that chartered the Rena, Mediterranean Shipping Company, is not the only company responsible for the accident through the poor navigational skills of its employees. Daina Shipping Company is also responsible because the Rena had failed numerous safety inspections and was faulty.

In other words the MV Rena was an accident waiting to happen and it's likely faulty equipment contributed to the accident occurring. The captain and his first mate were essentially fall guys.

"At no point during the course of that hearing or this has there been any suggestion that the present defendant put any pressure of time or of operational requirements on those persons responsible for the ship running aground and that needs to be borne in mind," he said.

That's like saying a person who let's somebody drive their defective car is not at fault when the person they lent it to has an accident.

In shipping, there's always a deadline, and a combination of poor navigational practice and badly maintained equipment has resulted in New Zealands worst ever environmental disaster to date. Clearly the owner and the operator are both responsible and therefor liable.

Crown prosecutor Rob Ronayne said the company had not directly caused the grounding and sought a $450,000 fine.

Now hang on just a second... Section 338(1B) of the Resource Management Act (PDF) states:

Where any harmful substance or contaminant or water is discharged in the coastal marine area in breach of section 15B, the following persons each commit an offence:
(a) if the discharge is from a ship, the master and the owner of the ship.

It doesn't matter that Daina Shipping hadn't directly caused the accident by steering the Rena into Astrolabe reef... Under the law, the owners of the MV Rena are liable. Clearly the size of the disaster should result in the full extent of the law being applied. Judge Wolf appears to have ignored what the actual law states in making his lenient and entirely unacceptable decision. Perhaps he's waiting for New Zealand to have its own Deepwater Horizon before he properly exercises his powers.

As well as the $600,000 fine that should have been fully imposed, the Act also stipulates that there's an additional fine of $10,000 per day for every day the offence continues. The Rena is still polluting the Eastern Bay of Plenty, and has done so for the last 388 days. Not including the $600 K fine, that's around $4 million dollars the taxpayer wouldn't have to pay if the responsible party was punished accordingly.

It seems totally remiss that the judge hasn't imposed the full penalties available under the law, considering the actual cost of the disaster to the taxpayer and the environment. This lack of proper punishment will send the wrong message to shipping companies... They will simply continue to use unsafe equipment and cut corners in order to maximize profits. A $300 K fine is chump-change to them.

The total cost to the Crown amounted to about $47 million but as a result of "extended and co-operative negotiations" the defendant and its insurers had agreed to compensate the Crown $27.6 million - leaving a shortfall of about $20 million.

Defence lawyer Paul Mabey, QC, said "independent of any compensation" the company had already paid $235 million and faced ongoing costs with salvors.

It's questionable whether that's a correct figure Daina Shipping Company has provided. But I guess that's the price you pay for having an unsafe vessel that cuts corners. It still pisses me off that the taxpayer will foot the bill for any of the cleanup costs. In my opinion, the general public shouldn't be liable for any of the costs associated with the Rena disaster... A disaster that's clearly the fault of privately owned businesses and the people they choose to employ.

Now there's talk of just leaving what's left of the poisonous Rena wreck in the water because of the mounting costs involved in removing it. Presumably the salvors are going to leave the shipping containers that contain highly toxic chemicals in the ocean as well. That means the pollution will continue indefinitely and the people who used to gather kaimoana from the ocean in the area will be adversely impacted for the foreseeable future. It's unlikely that these people will see any compensation for their loss.

Meanwhile the Eastern Bay of Plenty has over the last year had more Whale stranding than ever before. Like the most recent mass stranding, these events have generally gone unreported by the MSM. You've got to wonder if there's a link between the increased amount of Whale stranding and the pollution caused by the Rena? But like so much about this environmental disaster, I guess we'll never know.

50 pilot whales stranded on Whangaparaoa Beach - 16 Oct 2012

26 Oct 2012

The devil's in the detail

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

It appears the Police Association's Greg O'Connor may have been watching rather too many of these fantasy-laden programmes. How else to explain his extraordinary comment that a judge's decision to throw out charges against 21 people associated with a Nelson motorcycle gang was a "slap in the face" for an undercover officer involved in the case? In fact, so comprehensively were normal procedures abused during Operation Explorer that Justice Simon France's trenchant ruling should be the catalyst for further inquiries into the police's conduct.

It's been a long time since I've agreed with anything in the Herald editorial.

The abuse began when police bosses became concerned that the undercover officer, known in the Red Devils motorcycle gang as Michael Wiremu Wilson, was about to be exposed. To strengthen his credibility, the police arranged for a fake search warrant of his lock-up in which they had placed apparently stolen equipment and drug paraphernalia. Police forged an illegible signature of a court deputy registrar and arrested Wilson. He appeared several times before judges who all believed they were dealing with a genuine case.

So Police falsified a document in order to mislead a court of law. Forgery is a very serious crime under the Crimes Act 1961 (PDF), which states:


(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who makes a false document with the intention of using it to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration.
(2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who makes a false document, knowing it to be false, with the intent that it in any way be used or acted upon, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere, as genuine.

Clearly (1) applies, as the Police gained an advantage that benefited them at the time by furthering their investigation into the Red Devils.

The real stupid thing is that after the raid, the police were declaring Operation Explorer the most successful undercover operation to date. How things have changed.

The Herald article continues:

Two officers, Detective Superintendent Rod Drew and Senior Sergeant Warren Olsson, had visited the then Chief District Court Judge, Russell Johnston, and believed they had his permission to go through with the ruse. Justice France found, however, that a letter they had given to Judge Johnston was "wholly inadequate" to alert him to the realities of what was involved.

So Drew and Olsson mislead Judge Russell Johnston... This is another serious crime:

Conspiring to defeat justice

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who conspires to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in New Zealand or the course of justice in an overseas jurisdiction.

Clearly falsifying a court document and misleading a high court Judge is an attempt to pervert the course of justice. The Police have in fact prevented justice from being served by their gung-ho tactics. If they had simply followed proper procedure, some prosecutions against members of the Red Devils may still be applicable.

In my opinion there's no excuse for the kind of behaviour exhibited by the Police in this matter, which if other recent cases are anything to go by is a systemic and entrenched problem within the force. At least Justice Simon France has done the right thing by throwing the charges out. It's likely that any appeal by the Police will fail.

The crux of the matter is that every police officer who testified against the Red Devils, knowing false documents had been supplied, has in fact committed perjury:

Perjury defined

(1) Perjury is an assertion as to a matter of fact, opinion, belief, or knowledge made by a witness in a judicial proceeding as part of his evidence on oath, whether the evidence is given in open court or by affidavit or otherwise, that assertion being known to the witness to be false and being intended by him to mislead the tribunal holding the proceeding.

Clearly the police officers who knew about the forged documents and subsequently gave false witness have committed perjury. This would include the undercover agent known as Michael Wiremu Wilson. Obviously the Police have set out to mislead the various tribunals holding procedures. Here's what the law states about the possible consequences:

Punishment of perjury

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who commits perjury.
(2) If perjury is committed in order to procure the conviction of a person for any offence for which the maximum punishment is not less than 3 years' imprisonment, the punishment may be imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

Meaning that if the sentences the Police were trying to obtain result in possible sentences of 3 years or more, the police officers who committed perjury in trying to obtain those sentences are liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years. Ouch! That's what the law states, but don't go holding your breath.

What the Police need to remember is that you shouldn't break the law to try to uphold the law.

In this case, Police have dishonestly represented the facts of the matter, mislead a number of judiciaries, distorted the truth, abused court process by forging documents and in so doing perverted the course of justice.

They should be held to account for such underhanded and dishonest tactics...  But unfortunately the useless Judith Collins is the current Minister of Police, so nothing will be done and justice will not be served.

25 Oct 2012

Paul Mackay - Asshole of the Week

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Business NZ employment relations manager Paul Mackay yesterday presented the group's submission on Ms Moroney's Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill. The submission said it was difficult for employers to find suitable temporary staff to fill parental leave vacancies.

"Employers who have been forced to bear considerable replacement costs, or to find those amongst their other employees willing to provide cover, may well think hard before again employing a woman of child-bearing age."

There's no evidence to base these claims on... Paul Mackay is simply making shit up.

Despite what the dinosaur seems to believe, it's illegal under the Human Rights Act 1993 (PDF) to discriminate in the way described by the Business NZ submission on Sue Moroney's Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill (PDF).

It's predominantly old white men who ensure Woman are paid less, don't attain as many positions of power, are belittled and often objectified. This is despite scientific evidence that females are more intelligent, run businesses better and have more qualifications than their male counterparts.

The thing chauvinists don't understand is that being a mother imparts many skills that can be highly beneficial in many work place situations. Instead of being viewed as a burden, motherhood and indeed parenthood in general should be respected and admired. But instead we have people like Paul Mackay promoting chauvinistic claptrap... What an asshole!

In this day and age, such sexism shouldn't be tolerated.

24 Oct 2012

National fails to keep waterways safe

Today, the Nelson Mail reported:

Golden Bay marine farmers are crying foul over a spate of dairy effluent discharges down the Aorere River which they say are endangering their multimillion-dollar businesses.

High bacterial readings have been recorded on mussel farms off the coast from Collingwood in recent months, with marine farmers saying they were almost at a level where the area would have been forced to close had they been harvesting at the time.


The council's own monitoring of the Aorere - which had been increased from quarterly to monthly - hadn't shown up anything unusual, Mr Smith said. It had measured only four E. coli spikes above alert levels over the last two years and each followed heavy rain.

That tells us the councils testing is not up to standard. If one set of testing shows high levels of bacterial readings and the councils testing shows everything is just fine, the latter is obviously flawed!

With two contradictory findings, it is obvious that the testing method being used by the Tasman District Council is incorrect, and they're indeed only playing lip service to improving water quality. In many cases it's up to the farmer to self-monitor, with the results invariably biased.

One of the problems is that many councils have a disproportionate amount of farmers on their boards. This means that farming is given preferential treatment, even at the expense of other profitable industries.

Mr Smith said. "We are always interested in improving our performance but generally water quality in our district is pretty good."

Nick Smith's definition of "pretty good" is about as irrelevant as it gets. Thankfully he's no longer the Minister for the Environment... But unfortunately we now have the feckless Amy Adams who is entirely remiss in her duties. All she seems interested in doing is removing the public's right to appeal council decisions to the Environment Court.

So less democracy and more spin that there's no problem with pollution in our waterways... With Nationals modus operandi, we should expect the amount of recreational sites that are unfit to swim in to increase well above the current 52%. Meanwhile the farmers continue to whine!

23 Oct 2012

Russel Norman vs John Key

Farrar loses the plot again

Today, Stuff reported:

Labour leader David Shearer said anything which stopped the sale of state-owned assets was a "good thing".

"When you take into consideration the court costs, the consultancy costs, the consultation costs, the amount of money that is going to have to be put aside for possible settlements in the future.

"If you talk to any analyst about what these SOEs are going to be sold for, all of them will tell you they are going to be sold for less than what they were going to be sold for just a few months ago."

Then David Farrar wrote:

So, for example, another massive earthquake which destroyed half the country’s hydro-dams and hence stopped the partial floats, would be a good thing?

I think it shows how unbalanced Labour have got on this issue.

Clearly David Shearer was making reference to today's announcement that the sale of Mighty River Power has again been delayed pending court action by the Maori Council.

Shearer was being reasonable... Unlike the ignoramus David Farrar with his made up fantasyland. Taking something completely out of context in order to besmirch the next Prime Minister is underhanded... It's also easily seen through for the contemptuous spin it is.

The National party propagandist sounds as ridiculous as Bill English when he said the delay wasn't going to affect the sale price and he was looking forward to the hearing. Along with a myriad of other additional costs, this will make the selling of such profitable assets entirely pointless.

That's why I hope the court action is successful. Stoping Nationals financial mismanagement is paramount to ensuring New Zealands long-term economic stability, and being that the pending referendum on the issue is not binding, National is likely to ignore the results.

Such a referendum will of course show that National doesn't have a mandate to sell our assets, because the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders don't want a bar of their detrimental partial privatisation.

How many times has the Fifth National government been before the courts I wonder, and how much has this cost the taxpayer? I guess John Key can just shut down a few more schools and Woman's refuge centres to make up the shortfall. What kind of a brighter future is that?

22 Oct 2012

Time to lower the voting age

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

It is unfair to deprive young people of the right to have their say on laws that affect them simply because of the actions of a minority of delinquents - a minority that probably won't even bother vote even if they could, much like the million adult voters who didn't turn up last election.

In my opinion it's not because some young people are delinquents that they don't have the right to vote yet, that's just one of the excuses being used... It's because the current government is ageist! Clearly they don't want young people to have a say in how things are being run, which can only be described as outright discrimination against youth.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with Nationals stupid idea to reintroduce youth rates, whereby an older generation is proposing policy that openly discriminates against 16 to 19 year olds. Paying people $10.80 per hour effectively turns them into wage slaves, because the cost of living uses up all their remuneration and little to nothing is left to socialize with.

The argument that its good for a young person to struggle for a while because it hardens them up is entirely obnoxious! No young person should go without proper food, a warm and dry house to live in and some decent clothes. However the current regime has many young people living in abject poverty and things are getting worse.

The other argument the ageists often trot out is that young people don't understand politics. However the younger generations sure understand the negative consequences of having a bunch old old men in charge. In fact many young people understand politics to a far greater degree than older people, and getting people enthusiastic about exercising their democratic right at a young age would mean they're more likely to continue to vote as adults.

The fact of the matter is that young people no longer have the same opportunities as those who are making the decisions. Generally speaking, most young people will not have the ability to work themselves into a home they own, and they no longer have the benefits of a free education either. Unfortunately the governments ageist policy direction shows no signs of changing.

Is it any wonder then that young people are leaving New Zealand in record numbers? Is it any wonder that some young people drink to excess and take drugs? You could even say that the reason more young people kill themselves is because of the discrimination against them just for being young. In fact many of the negative conditions that young people exhibit are directly attributable to our ageist society, which must change if we want to see any progress in these important areas.

Giving young people the vote would go some way to rectify the problem... But don't expect National to do the right thing anytime soon.

18 Oct 2012

Time for a maximum wage

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

This is where the maximum wage comes in. If the top salary is legally fixed at, say, $200,000 a year, these economic miracle-workers running companies will have no choice but to start their own businesses where, as shareholders, they can indulge in the dividends they deserve. The creation of new companies will in turn lead to more jobs, thus negating the need for any "starting-out" wage.

A maximum wage also has a trickle-down effect. The millions of dollars that would have been paid to CEOs could instead be paid as bonuses to workers, or used to lift the average wage of employees at the company. These people could then spend their extra income, further supporting the economy.

Then Kiwiblog reported:

A maximum wage is indeed not socialist, but full out communist.

You see it has been tried. In several countries. In the USSR they had maximum salaries. They had the exact view that Ryan had. They though no one should earn over a certain amount as a salary.

Actually, the Russian maximum wage only applied to the salary of a member of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. Farrar is being deceptive in saying the maximum wage applied to everyone.

It failed. It was a disaster.

Russia's salary cap or Partmaximum as it was known didn't work because it was ignored and not enforced by the Politburo. Introduced in 1920 and then cancelled by a secret resolution in 1932, the Russian example can hardly be held up as an argument against a salary cap in New Zealand.

Russia currently has a low individual and corporate tax rate... However they do have a CGT.

Ryan seems to think we live in isolation from the world. I’d love to see him find a surgeon to operate on him, should he need it, with a $200,000 salary cap. They’d all be in Australia.

Actually, an Australian surgeon on average gets paid under AU$123,000 (NZ$154,930) per year. So a salary cap in New Zealand of $200,000 is entirely appropriate. It would not increase the amount of surgeons moving to Australia.

Back in 2010 it was reported that a surgeon working for Whanganui District Health Board was earning more than $600,000 per year. He might want to leave New Zealand if there was a wage cap introduced, but I doubt he could find employment in another country that paid as much.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

More than 300 ACC employees are being paid in excess of $100,000 a year, according to its annual report.

The highest paid earner, who the state insurer said was not departing chief executive Ralph Stewart, received up to $760,000. The insurer declined to name who that earner was.

The report shows 330 employees are earning more than $100,000 a year - an 18 per cent increase on the previous period. The average salary of the top earners (between $100,000 and $760,000) was $155,000.

Ten employees are on more than $500,000 per year - four more than last year, and 29 are being paid between $200,000 and $400,000 a year. The average annual wage for New Zealanders is about $50,000.

In the last year ACC also paid $1,314,584 in redundancy - up from the $578,949 paid to 24 staff in 2011.

It's not humanly possible to do $760,000 worth of work per year and these people are being grossly overpaid. This is made all the more despicable considering the cuts the government is making to core services and the implementation of a youth wage of only $10.80 per hour.

Their excuse that they have to balance the budget is clearly disingenuous. If they had any consideration for getting the books back in the black, they wouldn't be giving their mates huge amounts of public money as remuneration for doing sweet fuck all. Talk about a bunch of bludgers.

17 Oct 2012

The young Nazi ball

First there was this:

Then there was this:

H/T Tumeke

16 Oct 2012

Jacinda Ardern vs Paula Bennett

Heads should roll

You've got to wonder at just how dishonest the mainstream media is being with reporting on the Ministry of Social Development's huge breach of privacy. They're so focused on downplaying the issue that it appears they think WINZ clients don't have any rights to privacy at all.

First they started calling it "hacking" when blogger Keith Ng published the results of exactly what information was publicly available. They also claimed it was "hacking" when it became apparent Ira Bailey, with a few simple keystrokes, had initially accessed the data at a public WINZ kiosk.

Then they focused on the fact that Bailey is one of the Uruwera 17, and had asked if there was any reward system for people who find flaws in government computer systems... And what a flaw it was. Bailey has in fact done the government and the New Zealand public a great service, and in my opinion should be rewarded appropriately.

How much was private firms KPMG and Dimension Data paid to audit, test and fail to find the security flaw in the WINZ system I wonder?

John Key thinks it's bad that Bailey had enquired about a financial reward for doing MSD's job for them. The Prime Minister also believes the main problem with the breach of privacy was because it showed contractors invoices... Not one word about the addresses of abused children being publicly available has been uttered. Key hasn't even apologized FFS!

But if that wasn't bad enough, today the NZ Herald reported:

Ira Bailey - one of 17 people arrested in the Urewera raids in 2007 - was the first to discover the major privacy flaws in Work and Income's self-service kiosks but has denied claims he demanded money in return for the information.

The online version differs from today's print edition btw.

Anybody who believes Bailey was the first to find the easily exploitable flaw in WINZ security is a complete fool! They would have to ignore the fact that WINZ was warned about the problem a year ago, but failed to properly initiate any remedial measures. Perhaps they think their clients shouldn't have any privacy either?

The media has been very careful not to report on the full extent of the breach of privacy. For instance the details of sexual abuse victims being readily available through public kiosks has been completely missing from all mainstream media reports.

Obviously taking their cues from right-wing propagandists Cameron Slater and David Farrar, the NZ Herald hasn't even bothered to report the details of what private information was publicly available at all. Pathetic reporting by Claire Trevett and Kate Shuttleworth.

It's a despicable form of manipulation through omission of information in order to protect brand Key and the minister responsible... It's a huge disservice to New Zealand.

Apparently Social Development Chief Executive, Brendan Boyle, isn't ruling out charging Bailey for accessing the private data on WINZ's public kiosks... What exactly they think he can be charged with isn't divulged though, but I presume they will need to pay a really expensive lawyer or private consultant lots of public money before learning they haven't got a leg to stand on. Fucking morons!

WINZ have at least managed to close down the kiosks, but in my opinion it's a case of too little too late and much of the damage would have already been done.

15 Oct 2012

Green cars

13 Oct 2012

Roughan's willful ignorance

Toady, the NZ Herald reported:

Every time I read a report on poverty in New Zealand I wonder whether I'm living in the same country. Do those who are hammering our social conscience with "child poverty" at the moment know anybody in the statistics they study?

There are none so blind as those who choose not to see.

The problem with rich right-wingers is they often live in a different world to the rest of us. However it's not just their blinkered existence that causes them to not see the effects of poverty on a large proportion of the population.

New Zealand has unfortunately structured its society so that areas are designated to the wealthy or the poor, and financial segregation is a fundamental tool the right-wing use in their class warfare system. In fact the government, councils and landlords actively work to remove poor people from rich areas... That's one of the main reasons the rich do not see the poor.

Places that can be considered ghettos like Otara, parts of Porirua and Kawerau are where you will see real impoverishment. These areas are more often than not over-represented in negative statistics such as ill health, crime and suicide. The places where people like John Roughan might frequent such as Remuera, Takapuna and Queenstown will have very little signs of poverty.

Not all of them will have supportive grandparents and wider families. How many? Where are they? Can Whanau Ora help them? I've looked in vain for answers in the experts' report and some of its working papers.

There are approximately 40,000 children who are considered to be at high risk, meaning they likely don't have adequate support from their extended families. They mostly live in poorer areas of the country, which is data available from the Ministry of Health. Despite the predominantly negative media coverage the scheme receives, Whānau Ora can help in some circumstances. This is all readily available information that the dinosaur Roughan should be able to access.

They are more interested in statistical abstractions and blanket solutions such as paying a benefit for young children to all parents, rich or poor, increases in family tax allowances and free meals in low decile schools.

John Key, who was raised by a sole parent, dismissed the free lunch this week. He doesn't believe all those children need one. He would sooner leave it to the schools to decide whether food is really the best use of their decile funds.

So schools should spend their education budgets on feeding kids? That will mean they have less money to spend educating their students... It's therefore not a solution.

We all know families that get by on existing benefits. If some can do it, why not all? If the experts would face that question they could do the children some good.

You don't need to be an expert to know that people's expenses are different because of varying circumstances. If people are unable to meet their costs to ensure they're living adequately, the government should meet the shortfall. The current government is not and this leads to increased stress in peoples lives due to financial hardship. This stress can be exhibited in many negative ways, and again this is where statistics can be helpful.

Roughan's feigned ignorance in order to allow inequality to flourish in a country that produces much more than it needs is completely unacceptable!  Pretending to be ignorant of the poverty problem isn't going to make it go away. Only through effective and targeted policy that ensures all New Zealanders have quality of life will the government ensure a decline in the amount of impoverishment that is plaguing many Kiwi families.

National and their media lapdogs are unfortunately using their denial that poverty exists as an excuse to not adress the problem, when by all other accounts child poverty is a widespread and growing issue for New Zealand. In this way, ignorance is most definitely not bliss for those caught up in the poverty trap.

In my opinion, Roughan's craven propaganda is entirely unjustifiable! Ignorance is simply no excuse for failing to act in the best interest of all Kiwis, especially our children. Only through a more equal society will New Zealand reach its full potential... Any political party that's not trying to achieve that shouldn't be in government, and their propagandists shouldn't be in print.

12 Oct 2012

Crisis, what crisis?

Today, Stuff reported:

New orders for manufacturers are dropping away according to a new survey, which the Green Party says makes a mockery of Prime Minister John Key's claim there is no “crisis” in the sector.

In the second weak report on manufacturing this week, new orders are at their lowest levels since 2009 according to a Business New Zealand survey, which came on the eve of a union-hosted meeting about the alleged crisis in the sector today.

Clearly the reason John Key is playing down the crisis is because they have no solutions. The problem is that National subscribes to the laissez faire school of economics, whereby the free-market is left to decide how many jobs are lost in the manufacturing sector.

That outdated economic ideology is what is causing mass redundancies and increasing unemployment throughout New Zealand... It's also causing our economy to stagnate.

We have National's financial mismanagement to thank for the current dysfunction that is causing jobs to be lost. But unfortunately they're too busy ducking for cover to focus on the task of fixing things. National simply don't have their priorities in the right order, and as a consequence, the country is suffering.

Click image to enlarge

11 Oct 2012

Farrar's advice won't save National

Today, Kiwiblog reports:

I think the Govt needs to do a number of things to regain momentum. They include:

A commission of inquiry into the GCSB. The fact three other cases have been disclosed as being of uncertain legality gives the Govt grounds for this. Without an inquiry, the issue will drag on for the next six months or longer. The GCSB, with all respect, has displayed signs of incompetence. It is almost unforgiveable that they took two weeks to recall that Kim Dotcom had been mentioned to the PM at a general briefing. They should have located that within hours, not weeks. I personally don’t believe there has been any ill intent, but there has been enough errors made, that it is difficult to see public confidence being restored without a more rigorous inquiry – not just into Dotcom. Such an inquiry could also review the legal framework around the GCSB, so it is future looking also.

The GCSB should have reminded the Prime Minister that they had given him a briefing on Dotcom? Ah no! John Key should have remembered he had been briefed and not mislead the public. In my opinion, trying to distance himself from the controversy with disinformation is a sign of gross incompetence. The prime ministers department can only go so far in trying to protect John Key from his own shortcomings, and that's where an inquiry really needs to be focused.

Significant change to the Christchurch schools debacle. It could well be that all the changes are justified, and sensible in the long-term. But the way it was done has resulted in such ill feeling, that the Government needs to go for less change there. People know some stuff has to change, but go for the essential, not the “ideal” in terms of efficiency.

Most of the damage to National over this debacle has already occurred. Clearly the manipulation of making a policy announcement that is harsh and then backpedaling to only implement half of those measures has back fired in this instance. National look to be incompetent in their management of the Christchurch rebuild because they are in fact incompetent. The only way to ensure similar policy announcements are not badly managed is to remove the minister in charge.

Amend the ECan legislation to make it a hybrid body as the Commissioners recommended. When not even the Commissioners are wanting to stay on as a purely appointed body, you have to ask why would the Govt do this?

Actually we need to get rid of ECan altogether... It presently gives the minister in charge the power to bypass any and all environmental laws whenever he choses. He can ignore the Resource Management Act, water conservation orders and suspend the jurisdiction of the Environment Court without asking or even informing Parliament, which means there's no effective oversight.

Such archaic legislation to implement what can correctly be described as Gerry Brownlee's dictatorship opens Canterbury up to the potential of an abuse of power. Private interests will lobby the minister directly to make decision in their favour, which might not be in the best interest of Cantabrians. Get rid of ECan and reappoint a democratically elected council to oversee the Christchurch rebuild.

Deal with the child poverty campaign (which is in fact a campaign for higher taxes and more welfare). National’s policies around welfare reform, national standards, reducing child abuse, better domestic violence laws are in fact all about reducing real child poverty, and giving more kids a better start in life. The left’s only answer to these issues is tax and spend. They won’t confront the much tougher issues of welfare dependency, the bottom 20% of students etc. National will. But National is not making the case well enough, and allowing the left to define child poverty as being just about “relative poverty” which in fact is just another name for income inequality.

Punishing the poor for being poor isn't historically the Kiwi way and we used to be a lot more caring about our fellow New Zealanders. Now we have the right-wing screaming blue murder that to feed, clothe, educate and house children properly will mean an increase in taxes. The thing they seem to ignore is that the long-term cost of not looking after children properly through adequate welfare far outstrips any short term financial gains.

What is needed is a more equitable distribution of wealth and a system that allows the poor to generate their own incomes through work that they're properly reimbursed for. So far the left is providing a plan and showing they give a damn, while the right is caught up in an agenda that has already failed and trying to justify this by peddling the same old propaganda that anybody with a couple of braincells to rub together can see right through.

The claim that there's no real poverty in New Zealand and it's all relative is a terrible case of the emperors new clothes... All they really need to do is get out and about and open their eyes.

When internationally recognized research shows that poverty in New Zealand is worsening, they either ignore or rubbish the result. This ultimately leads to negative politicking where the victims of a failing system are told it's all their fault and nothing changes. As far as I can tell, only a change in government will rectify the issue of growing inequality in New Zealand.

What many right-wingers seem to forget is that financial problems cause domestic violence. Therefore the government needs to ensure poor peoples incomes increase and less children will be abused... It's a simple as that.

Position the left as the party of higher costs for struggling households. People forget they want to ramp up the ETS so petrol and electricity prices increase. They want more inflation, which will hit struggling families. They want more taxes.

What a load of rubbish! The current ETS has been used by National to give subsidies to polluting industries. The Government is facing a significant carbon account deficit because of those subsidies, which will be met by increasing taxes or borrowing more from overseas.

Meanwhile emissions are projected to far exceed targets in the future because of the subsidies National put in place, which actually gives an incentive for many industries to pollute more. We will need to purchase offshore carbon credits to offset industry subsidies, another cost that will be passed onto the taxpayer.

What we need to do is remove the subsidies currently given to polluting industries and then the government can potentially lower taxes. People will pay the true cost to manufacture products, but they will have more money and there will be a proper free market where products manufactured with non-polluting methods can properly compete.

The better management of government accounts will lead to less taxes, and so far only the left-wing show signs of making the changes required to ensure financial, environmental and social security for all New Zealanders. The alternative is more of the same from National, who have proven themselves to be totally incompetent! Their mismanagement is being reflected in the latest poll results, for which they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Julia Gillard vs Tony Abbott

10 Oct 2012

Rena's toxic legacy

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Just over a year after the Rena struck the Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty, containers of hazardous substances still lie beneath the water.

The Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee, has confirmed the contents of three containers of cryolite, a byproduct of the aluminium smelting process, have been lost at sea.

The location of a further 17 containers with cryolite is not known.

Mr Brownlee said it was not possible to state with certainty how many of these containers remained within the wreck in cargo holds.

Why haven't they sent a diver down to see what containers remain in the Rena's cargo hold and then check the shipping manifest to see what is in these containers? Clearly they should have done this already and Brownlee's excuse doesn't wash.

A risk assessment provided to the Government stated cryolite posed "both an immediate and long-term pollution hazard to marine organisms and plants". But scientists had advised Maritime New Zealand that a number of factors suggested the risk could be reduced.

Cryolite was only slightly soluble in water and the rate of release was expected to be diminished because of packaging. It broke down to naturally occurring elements - mainly aluminium and fluoride - which became less harmful in seawater because of reactions with other naturally abundant elements.

The scientific evidence that the synthetic cryolite that was onboard the Rena will become less toxic in seawater is based on pure speculation. It's all dependent on how fast it dissipates in the water, and they haven't bothered to find this out.

Cryolite is sometimes used as an insecticide, and works by poisoning the stomach of any insects that eat foliage. It has been found to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms and especially shellfish.

Currently produced in Japan from sodium aluminate, ammonium fluoride and sodium hydroxide, which are known to be toxic to aquatic life and carcinogenic/neurotoxic in humans, Cryolite is not meant to be used in conjunction with other chemicals such as lime because it causes phototoxicity.

Clearly Cryolite is not as benign as they would want us to believe.

Maritime New Zealand began an investigation when it found cryolite had been loaded onto the Rena in Bluff without being classified as a dangerous substance.

The agency decided not to prosecute the manufacturer after it alerted authorities to the error and co-operated to address the gap in its processes.

The agency decided not to prosecute because it evidently doesn't give a damn about marine safety. Neither does the National government, who is not interested in compulsory shipping lanes that might ensure another Rena disaster doesn't occur again.

The contents of containers carrying ferrosilicon and one of potassium nitrate are also thought to have been lost at sea.

Another container of 5400kg of trichloroisocyanuric acid was on the seabed next to the wreck in March, but has not been recovered.

How fucked is that? They're just leaving all these dangerous chemicals in the ocean to slowly leach out and pollute the entire East coast, presumably because it would cost a lot of money to recover the hazardous shipping containers and dispose of their dangerous contents.

Meanwhile the "scientific" studies that have been conducted so far have only looked at the effects of hydrocarbons from the heavy fuel oil and none of the other substances the Rena was carrying that are known to be dangerous. Anybody would think they're trying to bloody well wreck the environment on purpose.

Maritime New Zealand is still refusing to release the Rena's full inventory (citing commercially sensitive information), which would let us know exactly what was onboard. You've got to wonder if the bad news about the Rena disaster is only going to get worse.

9 Oct 2012

National determined to increase exodus

Today, Stuff reported:

The Government today said it will introduce a pay rate for 16-19-year-olds - a minimum $10.80 an hour.

The new pay rate, to be called the 'starting-out wage', will not be compulsory but 40,000 teens will be eligible.

It kicks in on April 1 next year and the Government estimates it will create up to 2000 youth jobs in the first two years.

The starting-out wage will be set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage, which is currently $13.50 an hour.

Between 2008 and 2011, 34 thousand young people aged between 16 and 20 permanently left New Zealand to live and work overseas. In the same time period, the average income of the young people who remained only increase by 3.5% with inflation increasing by 9.8%. That means young people are already a lot worse off financially since National gained power. They have effectively become economic refugees in their own country.

Reducing their incomes by a further 25% will make it even harder for young people to live and work in New Zealand and will undoubtedly increase the exodus to Australia where the minimum wage is $15.96 per hour. Be ready to wave goodbye to more of your loved ones, especially if they're just trying to start out in the workforce.

There is no upside to National's policy, because it will simply not create more jobs. In fact it will mean a reduction in young peoples consumption because they will have less money to spend, which will negatively impact on the economy and ultimately mean more people lose their jobs.

The only thing National's idiotic policy means is that young people will be paid less, and once the six months are up, they will likely be replaced by another underpaid young person. There are no laws protecting their jobs from unscrupulous bosses, National made sure of that.

This is not only detrimental to young people, it's detrimental to the country because the people who will take advantage of National's agist policy will not share the wealth they gain, and inequality will continue to grow. We will also lose our best and brightest who have no financial reason to remain in New Zealand.

But I guess National doesn't really care about this as long as the businesses they invest in continue to post record profits... What a bunch of parasites!

8 Oct 2012

Nick Smith out of the dog box?

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Since his resignation, Dr Smith said he had been able to spend more time with his family and also doing constituency work.

He had also been able to spend more time seeking expert advice in policy areas of interest which are likely to be part of the Government's legislative focus in coming months including water, climate change, land use planning and earthquake standards.

That work would be useful "whether I be a backbencher or a rehabilitated minister".

"I'm hopeful I might again be given that opportunity at some stage but equally so that is a call totally for the Prime Minister."

A rehabilitated minister? Don't make me laugh! Nick Smith is still wearing the same old stripes and has undertaken no rehabilitation to make him a better minister. He's the same old dodgy Smith he ever was and it's only been six months since his resignation... Certainly not long enough for the public to forget about his abuse of power.

Just to recap, while minister of ACC, Nick Smith was caught out providing a letter of support to Auckland "friend" Bronwyn Pullar to help advance her claim for compensation. He sought to impose undue influence on ACC and failed to declare his conflict of interest. This is a direct breach of the Government's Cabinet Manual (PDF), which states:

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

Let's be perfectly clear, Smith resigned to avoid an investigation into the extent of his corruption. Without an investigation, Smith can never be exonerated, which should mean he never again returns to a position within cabinet.

In fact he shouldn't be allowed to be a minister at all... But I guess it's too much to ask John Key to uphold those higher ethical standards he used to talk about.

6 Oct 2012

Keys implausible deniability

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

John Key's explanation of how the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom occurred is wrong in law and could not have happened the way he describes, legal experts say.

Instead, the Prime Minister's statements about the Government Communications Security Bureau raise questions about the information he relied on before making two public statements.


The review debunks the explanation given by Mr Key on two occasions - when he apologised to Mr Dotcom a week ago and again on Monday at his post-Cabinet press conference.

A spokeswoman for Immigration New Zealand said: "Essentially, the difference between the two [laws] is that the new act uses the single term 'visa' for authority to travel to and stay in New Zealand. The term 'permit' is no longer used."

Surprise surprise... The excuse that GCSB was confused about the law change doesn't hold water... And just yesterday we learnt they were likely spying on Dotcom earlier than December 16, with the NZ Herald reporting:

The Herald has obtained details showing Telecom engineers and staff at its technology services company Gen-I were investigating irregularities with his internet connection in November.

The revelation has raised suspicion that Mr Dotcom was victim to earlier spying than the GCSB has admitted. It has brought fresh calls for an inquiry amid claims of the spy agency's role in the international "Five Eyes" Echelon Network.

Then there was the February briefing on Dotcom that Key conveniently forgot about, with the Dominion Post reporting:

A review of Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) files has revealed Prime Minster John Key was told about the spy agency's role in the Kim Dotcom case in February.

Until now, Key has insisted he wasn't told until September 17 - when he was briefed about illegal snooping by the agency. He can't remember the reference in February but accepts it took place.

John Armstrong says this is "sloppy," but it's far worse than that... It's apparent that there's a cover-up going on to try and protect the Minister in charge, John Key, who has now run away to the US to take some of the heat off.

It's only because all evidence needs to be disclosed in a court case that the public has learnt about the GCSB's involvement at all. Be assured that Key would prefer we hadn't. As an excuse, Key says he wasn't aware as well, but you don't have 16 briefings this year alone with GCSB head, Ian Fletcher, without the MegaUpload case being discussed at all... Only a complete moron would believe that. The conclusion one must reach is that the Prime Minister did in fact authorize the GCSB's illegal spying on New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom, because they thought nobody would ever find out.

Whether Key knowingly broke the law will be hard to prove though, being that the GCSB, the Police and the inquiries into the debacle are being orchestrated by people with a vested interest to provide the least damaging and most plausible explanations possible.

However just like the incorrect spying dates, lies about the Dotcom briefing in February and the excuses about Visa confusion given in the Neazor report (PDF), the pending excuses from Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge, who's report will not be made fully public, will likely be easily disproven, and Key's credibility will be even further impinged... Not that he had much credibility to begin with.

Click image to enlarge
H/T Porcupine Farm for the great graphic.

4 Oct 2012

Cronyism is not independent

Today, Stuff reported:

The man who presided over illegal spying at the GCSB will head the independent review of Maritime New Zealand's response to the Rena grounding.

Simon Murdoch was director of the Government Security Communications Bureau for six months last year, when internet millionaire Kim Dotcom was placed under illegal surveillance.

He was named as head of the Rena inquiry by MNZ today, just a day before the one year anniversary of the cargo ship grounding on the Astrolabe Reef, off the Tauranga coast.

The review will examine the MNZ response to the Rena crash and look into whether there were factors that contributed or limited its effectiveness.

It will be overseen by Transport Ministry chief executive Martin Matthews, MNZ chairman David Ledson, and MNZ director Keith Manch.

Manch said a review of large scale incidents, carried out independently, was standard practice for emergency response organisations.

Yeah right! Maritime New Zealand's Director and Chairman are undertaking an "independent" review of Maritime New Zealand. Don't make me laugh! And a dodgy spook to boot heading up the operation... Why do I feel this will be a complete white wash?

Murdoch, who is conducting the review, was also chief executive officer of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1991 to 1998, and was an advisor to former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.

He spent most of his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade where he became chief executive officer in 2002.

Murdoch has held diplomatic postings in Canberra and Washington, and has undertaken other reviews in the fields of foreign affairs, security and emergency response and management.

They don't call it crony capitalism for nothing and I guess a job for one of the "good" old boys is just as acceptable now as it ever was.

Meanwhile, the Bay of Plenty community has been given $1 million as a "goodwill gesture" by the company that chartered the Rena.

$1 million dollars... Wow! That's truly pathetic! With the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Tauranga City Council deciding who get's a slice of that minuscule pie, be assured there will be oodles of preferential treatment going on and most of the businesses that have been impacted won't see a damned red cent.

In fact there's been a well orchestrated propaganda campaign run in order to limit the liability of the shipping company, Costamare Inc. and its subsidiary, Daina Shipping Co. Part of reducing costs is to leave the wreck where it is, much to the disgust of many locals.

Let's make this clear; leaving the toxic MV Rena half salvaged on Astrolabe reef is not an option and it needs to be fully removed along with the remaining 365 shipping containers. Anything less will be environmentally unsound, not to mention an eyesore.

National's failure to properly respond to the Rena disaster is probably the best argument against their plans for deep sea oil drilling. If they cannot properly clean up the mess left from this relatively small disaster, what hope is there if we have a Deepwater Horizon in our waters?

As usual the government is gambling with our futures when clean technology means we don't need to gamble at all. Pound for pound clean tech creates around twice as many jobs as polluting industries. But I guess it's too much to expect National to be reasonable... They are after all personally profiting from putting the environment and people's lives at risk.

3 Oct 2012

Rena Report Card

Incompetent or deceitful PM

Today, Stuff reported:

A review of Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) files has revealed Prime Minster John Key was told about the spy agency's role in the Kim Dotcom case in February.

Until now, Key has insisted he wasn't told until September 17 - when he was briefed about illegal snooping by the agency. He can't remember the reference in February but accepts it took place.

Three more cases of possible illegal spying have also been identified.

Oh dear! That means John Key misled the House of Representatives... Again! In my opinion, if Key isn't competent enough to remember being told about the GCSB spying on Kim Dotcom, he's not competent enough to be Prime Minister. It's as simple as that.

Mind you, Key was pretty emphatic that he wasn't informed, which makes me wonder if he's trying to distance himself from the fiasco. In other words he lied on purpose to cover his own arse... What a schmuck!

1 Oct 2012

Rena propaganda exposed

Back in June 2012, the NZ Herald reported:

The group's leader, Professor Chris Battershill, said early samples were promising.

"Our observations suggest we avoided the worst of the disaster, and much of that is because the salvors managed quite effectively to get most of the oil, if not all of it, that hadn't come ashore. If they hadn't, then we'd be in a very different space right now."

However today, the NZ Herald reported:

Oil is still being found at Papamoa Beach a year after the container ship Rena ran aground off the coastline and caused a major spill.

Maritime New Zealand officials will today inspect the beach at Harrison's Cut after authorities received several phone calls over the weekend about splotches of oil in the sand.

The balls of oil, about the size of 5c pieces, are thought to have been driven ashore by easterly winds over the past few days.

Professor Chris Battershill seems like a bit of an idiot! Firstly the salvors didn't clean any of the oil up that leaked from the Rena. Maritime New Zealand used CoreExit to make it sink. The problem with that is anytime the sea is rough, and the tide is in the right direction, the oil gets picked up off the bottom of the ocean floor and washed ashore.

The Bay of Plenty is going to be feeling the effects of the Rena disaster for a long time yet.