The week that was | The Jackal

5 Jun 2013

The week that was

What a week to have a break from blogging.

First United Future was deregistered because Peter Dunne couldn't muster up 500 people silly enough to pay his membership fees. Then Winston Peters accused the somewhat deflated bouffant of leaking a report into the GCSB’s illegal spying, which is yet to be released to the public. The NZ First leader was careful to make his accusations under parliamentary privilege, but one thing is certain; Dunne's days in parliament are clearly numbered.

Another two prominent right-wingers had their names in the headlines for all the wrong reasons... Former National Minister "Sir" Douglas Graham is facing a sentence more befitting his crimes after the Financial Markets Authority appealed his and another three Lombard Finance directors slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. After making untrue statements that caused investors to lose $127 million, there's no doubt that the discredited Graham should be stripped of his Knighthood.

Also in the dog box again this week, Act party leader John Banks faces the prospect of being removed from parliament if it's found that he knowingly received political donations from Kim Dotcom and SkyCity that were recorded as anonymous. This could potentially be the undoing of the government who would struggle to pass legislation if Banks is found guilty. With the poll of polls showing a Labour/Greens coalition on the cards, a snap election is something National will be wanting to avoid.

Then there was the release of a report into the Novapay debacle, which pretty much blames the Ministry of Education for the entire mess. It even goes so far as to say they misled Bill English, Hekia Parata and Craig Foss. This seems highly unlikely, with the Ministry keeping the government well informed of the issues with Novapay since they first became apparent. At the end of the day (I hate that saying) it was the government’s decision to Go Live, despite numerous flaws in the system.

The Report of the Ministerial Inquiry into the Novopay Project (PDF) states:

Weaknesses in project governance and leadership allowed the service to go live with a number of significant risks, which the Ministry and its vendors were over-confident of managing.

It's very obvious that if the Minister's responsible had been doing their jobs properly; Novapay wouldn’t have been implemented and our teachers would be getting paid properly. In effect this report has been written to pass the buck onto the Ministry, which is occurring all too regularly as an excuse for Ministerial incompetency.

Then on Saturday at the Green party conference, co-leader Russel Norman got stuck into the Prime Minister saying he was corrosive, divisive and similar to Piggy Muldoon. This caused howls of protest from many right wing pundits who would prefer the public continue to believe Teflon John is all smiles and niceness. Of course anybody who has watched parliament TV or looked closely at National's policy knows Key is anything but nice.

The difference between the two men’s arguments is that Norman's is based in reality, whereas Key's "the devil beast" comments are off the planet. That's why the right wing has been so aghast at the Green's insightful commentary, because what has been leveled at the Prime Minister is by all reasonable accounts correct. Key has been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Also this week, the government and mainstream media have been trying desperately to convince the public that $170 million is the right amount of money to settle historic grievances with Ngāi Tūhoe. However anybody who has read the history books about what happened in Te Urewera might question such a small amount of compensation.

In comparison to the corporate welfare and tax cuts for the rich distributed since 2008, the total treaty settlement’s to date of $1.5 billion seems on the low side. In fact it's a bit of an insult when you consider just how much state repression occurred, which is still having a detrimental impact to this very day.

On a related note, the lack of any proper response by the Race Relations Commissioner, Susan Devoy, to the flagrantly racist cartoons by Al Nisbet shows just how divided New Zealand really is. If such blatant racism doesn't breach the Human Rights Commission's "very high" threshold of inciting racial disharmony, then what will?

Clearly any publication of such prejudiced sentiment will create racial disharmony and should therefore not be tolerated. There should be no "freedom of expression" to publish work that creates racial division within society, and as Morgan Godfery over at Maui Street succinctly points out:

Racism is magnified and normalised when it's presented in the media. In an ideal world the media would be better than that, but not the Malborough Express and the Christchurch Press.

At least the government has now responded with a food in schools programme, even though that response is in my opinion largely inadequate. However after four years of denying the problem of impoverished children exists, at least some progress has been made.

As usual the government has taken one step forward and two steps back, but what else is new?