The Jackal: July 2013

31 Jul 2013

Spineless crap

National on the ropes

As I'm sure my informed readers are aware, there has been some rather serious developments in New Zealand recently concerning freedoms that most of us used to take for granted...freedoms that I'm sure many Kiwis will wish to defend, including hopefully our mainstream media.

Yesterday it was revealed that Parliamentary Services had acquired the phone records of an investigative journalist, Andrea Vance, and subsequently handed these communications onto David Henry who was investigating how exactly the confidential Kitteridge report (PDF) into the GCSB had been leaked. That report highlighted widespread and illegal spying on at least 88 New Zealand citizens.

Prime Minister John Key has tried to distance himself from the latest debacle with the Speaker of the House, David Carter, after misleading parliament, claiming that Parliamentary Services acted under its own volition. This passing of the buck seems hard to believe, being that Parliamentary Services usually only acts with direction from politicians. They likely don't have the capability to access a private persons communications either, so who really gave the order to breach Vance's privacy and who exactly has the capability to do so? All evidence in this case points to further undemocratic interference by the Minister of spooks, John Key.

David Henry has also claimed that he didn't request such information, although the now disgraced Peter Dunne has refuted this claim. The United Future Leader had to resign from his Ministerial responsibilities because he failed to comply with all the inquiries demands. Strangely the Dunce is still willing to support a government determined to further undermine our hard won right to privacy.

Also of relevance was the recent revelation that another investigative journalist, Jon Stephenson, was being spied on by NZ Defence Force personal and possibly the NZSIS and GCSB, simply because they didn't like his reports from Afghanistan. The NZDF clearly didn't appreciate the award-winning journalist standing up for his rights by taking a defamation case against them, and there have been allegations that a senior serving officer has threatened Stephenson’s life. A NZDF manual that labels certain journalists as subversives that need to be watched was also unearthed. It's been condemned by certain editors who clearly don't appreciate such archaic directives. The current Minister of Defence, Jonathan Coleman, has quickly moved to change the Manual in order to try and quieten down media discontent.

Such revelations couldn't come at a worse time for the government, with the GCSB amendment bill proposing to dramatically extend spying legislation that would see mass warrantless surveillance commonplace. Obviously the government needs the journalists on side now more than ever to help sell the highly controversial law changes that have received a huge amount of academic attention and caused well-attended protests across the entire country. Another recent protest against animal testing clearly shows that the mood is turning against National, who are doing their best to ignore such widespread opposition to their defunct regime.

Unfortunately for John Key (but fortunate for the rest of us) the media appears to finally be waking up to Nationals undemocratic governance, with some excellent articles being published that specifically highlight the numerous flaws in Nationals reasoning and excuses. Even some of the governments most ardent propagandists have started to question John Key's administration, which doesn't bode well for his reelection in 2014.

Clearly the majority of New Zealander's have had enough of the cloak and dagger bullshit and the resulting stench emanating from the halls of power. We have simply had enough excuses and inquiries into inquiries that are a waste of our scarce resources, taxes that could obviously be better spent elsewhere. In a free and open democracy such issues of numerous privacy breaches and coverups should simply not arise. The fact they have means serious changes are required...changes that should start with certain government officials being sacked forthwith. Unfortunately, bar a full scale revolution, this isn't likely to occur anytime soon. Such is the arrogance of the Prime Minister I suppose.

Update: It appears that Key's office did in fact order Parliamentary Services to release Andrea Vance's records. The Prime Minister has blatantly lied.

Russel Norman vs John Key

30 Jul 2013

Gone by lunch time

Government spies on journalist

Today, Stuff reported:

Prime Minister John Key says he is "very disappointed" that three months worth of phone records for Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance have been handed over to a ministerial inquiry.

Speaker David Carter has confirmed the records were given to the inquiry. He apologised to Vance and Fairfax group executive editor Paul Thompson and acknowledged answers given last week denying Vance's phone records had been handed over were wrong.

Key said Parliamentary Service "got it wrong."

How exactly Parliamentary Services has the capability to retrieve three months worth of communications belonging to a private citizen the government hasn't divulged. It's likely that they've exercised spying powers that John Key has adamantly claimed aren't utilized by them.

Clearly three months worth of communications belonging to Andrea Vance aren't normally located on Parliamentary Service's computers. It therefore appears that John Key and David Carter are simply passing the buck and trying to take the light off the spooks.

Carter said today he became aware on Friday his answer in response to questions about Vance's phone records was wrong.

Three months of phone records had "inadvertently" been supplied to Henry by Parliamentary Service during the course of his investigations. The information had been collated by parliamentary contractors Datacom.

Henry immediately returned the records without viewing them and made it clear he had neither sought nor wanted them, Carter said.

"I stress that the David Henry inquiry never requested this information and recorded that fact immediately the information was received. I am further advised that this information was not used by the inquiry."

If David Henry didn't read the communications, how exactly did he know that the correspondence between Vance and Peter Dunne was changed? At the time the Henry report (PDF) was released, it was claimed that Peter Dunne had altered information given to the inquiry.

Today's revelation seems to confirm that David Henry did access and read Andrea Vance's private emails as well as her phone records. Perhaps the content of these communications has even resulted in Peter Dunne deciding to support the GCSB bill, despite his previous reservations.

National and their stoolies are simply getting caught up in their own lies. It's a despicable display of corruption and incompetence that has become Nationals trade mark. The sooner we have a change in government the better.

What is the Act party on about?

Yesterday, John Banks reported:

This seems strange being that all the other articles on the Act Party's website are in english. I wonder what it means exactly? Here's what the article translates as:

New Zealand Labour Party would limit foreigners to buy existing homes, in order to solve the problem of high prices in Auckland. This policy is anti-investment, anti-immigrant and anti-Chinese.

Well first off, Labour's policy won't be detrimental for immigrants at all. In fact it will help new immigrants by ensuring there's enough affordable housing for them to purchase. The policy inhibits foreign property speculators, not immigrants.

David Shearer finally desperate.

His xenophobia has always regrettable.

Labour's strategy is to Winston Peters in the campaign intensified attacks Auckland Chinese practice.

Except the policy also applies to the United kingdom and other European countries. How exactly is that xenophobic?

Put the blame for higher prices to foreigners is difficult to convince people of his head.

Much evidence shows that Auckland housing shortage because of the shortage of land, and not caused by the purchase by foreigners.

A shortage of land? There are 13,814 gallery listings for available sections on Trademe alone. Clearly there is no shortage of land to build houses upon.

Does John Banks perhaps have some investment properties that he wants to increase in value by ensuring there's more demand for housing in New Zealand? Because that seems to be the only basis for the right wings argument against Labour's housing policy so far.

John Key vs Anonymous NZ

Today, 3 News reported:

At least a dozen National Party websites have been knocked offline, and web activist group Anonymous says they'll remain that way until the controversial Government Communications Security Bureau Bill is scrapped.

In a video message posted online, Anonymous NZ calls the legislation - which will make it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of other agencies - "despicable".

"John Key, do you think you can just pass a new law without the majority of New Zealanders behind you?" the video asks, showing images from protests against the bill over the weekend which drew thousands of people.

"You should have expected us. We announce our solidarity with the GCSB protesters around the country."

Here's the video:

Although this is but an inconvenience for the government, it will hopefully bring even more attention to the planned changes to spying legislation that will mean the implementation of a massive surveillance state which will undoubtedly undermine our right to privacy.

Unfortunately the 3 news report by Laura McQuillan then makes a completely false claim in an attempt to discredit Anonymous NZ:

The video wrongly states the bill will enable the GCSB to spy without a warrant.

However, the agency requesting its help will need to have a warrant signed by Prime Minister John Key and the Commissioner of Security Warrants Sir Bruce Robertson.

This is completely untrue:

Warrantless interception in situations not involving the physical connection of an interception device to a network; and not involving the installation of an interception device in any place in order to intercept communications in that place.

This part of the legislation appears to be specifically worded to allow the GCSB to intrude upon people's privacy without the need for a warrant.

29 Jul 2013

Housing ban doesn't breach trade agreements

Today, Stuff reported:

Labour's proposal to restrict foreigners buying New Zealand property could clash with the country's free trade agreements, including its multibillion-dollar arrangement with China, an expert says.


Commercial lawyer and former Act MP Stephen Franks says it could directly contravene the FTA with China, under which New Zealand exported goods valued at $6.9 billion to China last year.

I presume that Michael Fox and Vernon Small attributing the word "expert" to anybody who has been in the Act party is meant to be a joke?

Why the article fails to also mention that Stephen Franks was the National Party candidate for Wellington Central at the 2008 election seems strange. He lost the contest by 1904 votes to Labour's Grant Robertson and clearly has a vested interest in trying to discredit Labour's policy.

Franks said it appeared the proposed New Zealand restriction would clash with the 2008 agreement, signed by then prime minister Helen Clark, which says the signatories cannot discriminate between local and Chinese investors.

Well, if Franks had actually bothered to read the entire Free Trade Agreement Between The Government of New Zealand and The Government of the People’s Republic of China (PDF) instead of just cherry picking the parts that support his defunct argument, he would realise that his reasoning is entirely flawed. In fact one of the main articles in that agreement states:

Each Party shall accord to investments and activities associated with such investments, with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal, by the investors of the other Party treatment no less favourable than that accorded, in like circumstances, to the investments and associated activities by its own investors.

That means China is obliged to not limit New Zealander's buying property in China. On the other hand, the New Zealand government is obliged under this agreement to actually limit Chinese nationals who don't have New Zealand citizenship from purchasing property here. China is currently in breach of the agreement, whereas Labours policy would simply give China no less favourable treatment than that provided to New Zealand.

Stephen Franks trying to cover his butt by saying "there might be exemptions I'm not aware of" simply doesn't cut the mustard. He's obviously made up an argument that doesn't stand up to even a blogger's scrutiny, which I might add is like most of the now obsolete Act party's policies. Clearly the idiot Stephen Franks is no expert.


The exemption for Australians arises automatically from the CER agreement, which was signed before the China FTA. The China FTA says that Chinese get any special treatment that any other country gets (known as most-favoured-nation status) EXCEPT for stuff in FTAs signed before the China FTA.

H/T Lightly

Greg Shuttleworth - Asshole of the Week

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The employer of an Invercargill man whose racist rant against a taxi driver was captured on camera has released a statement condemning its employee's actions.

In the exchange in a cab early on Friday, Greg Shuttleworth, a technician for engineering firm Jesco, describes the driver as an "Islam prick'' and says: "F*** off back to where you come from''.

He tells Pakistan-born driver Tariq Humayun he will pay the $7 fare when, "you tell me that you'll piss off back to the country where you come from ... you shouldn't be in New Zealand in the first place ... we don't require your Muslim bulls*** in this country."

That's despicable behaviour that nobody should have to put up with. The problem here is that such racist sentiment is actually widespread in New Zealand, with immigrants getting a real hard time by a bunch of bigots who usually get away with their abuse.

In fact I would go so far as to say that such racism is endemic and entrenched in our divided society and there appears to be little if any political impetus from the government to bring about the change that is required.

Mr Shuttleworth told the Herald he regrets the incident and wants to meet Mr Humayun to apologise.

Does Shuttleworth truly regret the incident or does he only regret that he got caught on camera being a complete tool?

Yesterday - as condemnation and criticism against him mounted and police said they would investigate - Mr Shuttleworth said it was a "one-off situation" which involved too much alcohol and for which he was now paying the price.

In the video he seems pretty lucid to me and clearly believes what he's saying. Besides, being drunk isn't an excuse to be a racist prick, as Bomber succinctly pointed out in a tweet today:

If being drunk for doing or saying dumb shit was a valid excuse, the police and our prison system would be a whole lot less busy.

However, what makes this all the more contemptible is that Shuttleworth thinks his behaviour is somehow vindicated because apparently all Muslims are bad.

But he was still concerned about Muslims in New Zealand. "They don't stand in a pretty light overseas ... And I am worried about what they've come to New Zealand [for] and what we let past our borders."

First the racist idiot blames his behaviour on being drunk, then he tries to justify what he said by further denigrating Muslims. What a complete asshole!

Charter schools fail

On the back of bold policy concerning housing affordability, Labour has announced today:

Labour will repeal the legislation allowing the creation of charter schools immediately upon becoming government, Labour Leader David Shearer said today.

This is more excellent news and shows that Labour and it's potential coalition partners are on the same page. Back in June this year, New Zealand First reported:

New Zealand First says the passing of the Education Amendment Bill creating charter schools is a blow to the state education system with no Government guarantee of success.

Around the same time, Green party co-leader Metiria Turei stated:

Charter schools have no future in our country, Aotearoa New Zealand, and I am pleased that the Labour Party has also made it very clear in the last address that it too believes that charter schools have no future in this country. We want to make it very clear to any of those who are considering establishing one that should there be a change of Government in the near future, your schools will no longer exist as charter schools.

Here's the video:

Clearly there's a lack of evidence to show charter schools provide better educational outcomes and with all opposition parties now strongly opposing the ill-advised policy changes it isn't going to be worthwhile in setting up a charter school.

Institutions that were looking to start their private schools with government funding will simply be wasting their time, because like it or not one day National will no longer be government and the legislation will be repealed.

I must admit that I'm liking the new Labour direction and hope they keep National on the back foot with similar policy announcements right up to the next election.

Hazing the statistics

Today, One News reported:

Mr Shearer said this morning that while the policy was no "silver bullet", combined with a capital gains tax and the building of thousands more houses, it could solve New Zealand's housing issue.

"If you build more affordable houses, you clamp down on property speculation through a capital gains tax, and you bring in a policy like this restricting foreign ownership, you then have a range of policies that can make some difference in the housing market," Mr Shearer told TV ONE's Breakfast. 
The Labour leader put foreign ownership figures at between 7% to 10%. 
However, Barfoot & Thompson's managing director Peter Thompson put the number of foreign buyers at around 4%.

Even a 4% reduction in the overall amount of house buyers would somewhat cool the market and have a subsequent effect on prices. Ironically Bill English has acknowledged this fact in a recent International Housing Affordability Survey (PDF), when he stated:

Demand for real estate is also increasing, with the median house price in Auckland recently exceeding the highs of 2007.

So, having lots of demand equals high prices. When there is less demand there are lower prices. This is a basic principle of economics that the right wing shouldn't be trying to argue against.

Despite this irrefutable reality, the Minister of Finance contradicted himself by saying:

Finance Minister Bill English said he did not believe the policy would make a difference to the housing market.

Clearly it will make a difference; otherwise there wouldn't be such a concerted effort by the right wing to denigrate the policy.

New Zealanders of all ethnic backgrounds should be concerned with housing affordability, for reasons well articulated by a survey that has been endorsed by the Minister of Finance himself. The International Housing Affordability Survey states:

Australia and New Zealand have had the most unaffordable major markets, with every market being severely unaffordable in every year.

So, New Zealand and Australia have some of the least affordable housing in the world, but why exactly is this a problem you might ask?

As housing affordability has deteriorated, there has been a tendency on the part of housing industry and financial market analysts to "cheer on" abnormally high house price increases as if housing were a commodity, like gold. Housing is much different. It is a basic necessity and adequate, comfortable housing is necessary for a decent standard of living. The performance of the housing market is thus not genuinely measured based on price increases relative to other investments. The genuine measure of a housing market's performance is the extent to which it remains affordable in a well functioning metropolitan economy.

Basically New Zealand doesn't have a well functioning metropolitan economy and this is degrading our standard of living. However, I digress...what really got my goat about the article from the National party propagandists over at One News is this paragraph:

A survey by BNZ in March estimated around 5% of home sales were to offshore buyers, with most from Britain, Asia and Australia.

Which is entirely incorrect. The actual BNZ survey (PDF) states:

Nationwide only 9% of all sales are to people from offshore. When we allow for at least 40% of these buyers indicating to agents that they intend shifting to New Zealand, we are left with a result that only between 4% and 5.6% of all NZ dwelling sales are to people not intending to live here.

Clearly the figure to use from this survey to show how many houses are being sold to offshore buyers is 9%, not 4 to 5.6%. There is no follow-up to see if those who apparently intended to shift to New Zealand actually did so. It's the status of the purchaser at point of sale that One News is meant to be reporting after all and therefore 9% of sales are to offshore buyers.

Remember, this is only a survey...a survey of Real Estate agents who have a vested interest in keeping the housing market as hot as possible. They will want to keep foreign speculators pushing up prices because it's good for their businesses. The same goes for the banks, the BNZ included. Therefore the actual number of house buyers who aren't Kiwis is likely to be far greater than 9%.

It should also be mentioned that many National MPs are also property speculators and therefore have a vested interest in keeping house prices high and consequently housing largely unaffordable for many Kiwi families.

In my opinion the BNZ estimate shouldn't be relied upon...although it should of course be quoted from properly. If manipulating data, trying to create a moral panic and hazing the statistics is all the right wing can come up with, they're sunk! The opposition will have effectively won the housing debate because the government has no answers.

28 Jul 2013

Property speculators not welcome

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Today, Labour leader David Shearer told TVNZ's Q+A programme the policy would put a halt on foreign speculators coming into the housing market and pushing the prices up.

"We're going to restrict, almost totally, foreign ownership, to buy established houses that are here.

"What we want to do is to make sure that first home buyers are Kiwis and they have the best chance."

New Zealand was one of the few countries in the world that allowed foreign ownership of established houses, he said.

Excellent! I wonder what the current governments response will be to ensure more Kiwis can afford to purchase a house?

Housing Minister Nick Smith said it was a sign of how desperate Labour and Mr Shearer had become.

"The oldest trick in the political book, whether it be over crime or unemployment or affordable housing, is always to blame the foreigners.

"There's no evidence that overseas buyers are having any discernible affect over house prices."

It was an "unprincipled" policy because it exempted Australia, Dr Smith said.

"They are the largest group of non-resident home buyers."

Oh dear, what a complete idiot the Housing Minister is. Firstly, this is not a desperate move by's a policy that looks to increase home ownership. If Nick Smith's comments are anything to go by, it appears that National is against more families achieving the Kiwi dream.

Secondly, there is obvious evidence that shows foreign investors buying 9% of residential properties (PDF) in New Zealand is pushing up house prices. One of the main reasons houses are so expensive is because there simply aren't enough to go around. To say otherwise means that Nick Smith doesn't understand basic financial principles such as supply and demand.

Thirdly, Australia isn't the main group of non-resident home buyers. The United Kingdom at 16% is. They are closely followed by China at 15% then Australia at 14%. Both China and the UK restrict foreign property speculators.

However, a New Zealand citizen can purchase a house in Australia, which means such an initiative is principled because it effectively evens out the playing field. If Labour is racist for limiting foreign property speculators pricing New Zealanders out of owning their own homes, then so are all the other countries that don't allow New Zealand property speculators to buy up properties there. The critics cannot have it both ways.

In my opinion, that fact alone makes the claims that Labour is being xenophobic entirely incorrect. But I guess that's the only response we're likely to get from a bunch of neoliberal wankers who've been profiting at the expense of ordinary Kiwis for far too long.

So much for democracy

Today, Stuff reported:

The New Zealand military received help from US spy agencies to monitor the phone calls of Kiwi journalist Jon Stephenson and his associates while he was in Afghanistan reporting on the war.

Stephenson has described the revelation as a serious violation of his privacy, and the intrusion into New Zealand media freedom has been slammed as an abuse of human rights.

The spying came at a time when the New Zealand Defence Force was unhappy at Stephenson's reporting of its handling of Afghan prisoners and was trying to find out who was giving him confidential information.

The monitoring occurred in the second half of last year when Stephenson was working as Kabul correspondent for the US McClatchy news service and for various New Zealand news organisations.

This is further evidence that a concerted effort is being made to quell calls for an inquiry into SAS activities in Afghanistan after Jon Stephenson revealed that New Zealand soldiers were detaining and handing over people to authorities who are known to use torture.

The New Zealand SAS and government clearly didn't like this information being made public and have undertaken further questionable steps to close down an award winning journalist who's simply doing his job.

The Sunday Star-Times has learned that New Zealand Defence Force personnel had copies of intercepted phone "metadata" for Stephenson, the type of intelligence publicised by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. The intelligence reports showed who Stephenson had phoned and then who those people had phoned, creating what the sources called a "tree" of the journalist's associates.

Earlier this year John Key claimed that; "New Zealand agencies did not use the international connections to bypass the law." However it appears that GCSB personnel posted in Afghanistan were involved in using a US spying agency to monitor Jon Stephenson.

If the Prime Minister is willing to lie about such a serious issue, then why should we believe him about anything else? For instance, when Key says:

Jon Stephenson's a guy that texted me one night impersonating Duncan Garner ... I hung up on him, because when people impersonate somebody else, I don't take them seriously.

This appears to be a further attempt to discredit Stephenson simply because he’s reporting the facts. Stephenson is likely being targeted because he's providing information to the public that John Key and the Defence hierarchy simply don’t like being reported on, not because such reporting is inappropriate, but because it's reality and puts into question New Zealand's continued role in war torn countries like Afghanistan.

Clearly New Zealand Defence personnel in Afghanistan have undertaken illegal activity in turning over prisoners for torture. It also appears that Lieutenant General Rhys Jones defamed Stephenson in an attempt to discredit the journalist's work and the NZSAS has used US spying agencies to monitor a New Zealand citizen’s communications.

However, what's perhaps of more concern is exactly what spying agencies were involved:

The sources who described the monitoring of Stephenson's phone calls in Afghanistan said that the NZSIS has an officer based in Kabul who was known to be involved in the Stephenson investigations.

And since early in the Afghanistan war, the GCSB has secretly posted staff to the main US intelligence centre at Bagram, north of Kabul. They work in a special "signals intelligence" unit that co-ordinates electronic surveillance to assist military targeting. It is likely to be this organisation that monitored Stephenson.

This is despicable conduct that shouldn't be tolerated. It's also another clear breach of New Zealand law. Furthermore, Jon Stephenson is obviously not a military target and therefore monitoring him with an agency that helps conduct military targeting and perhaps even assassinations isn't acceptable behaviour by any stretch of the imagination.

In light of these further revelations, any journalist with an iota credibility should be questioning the New Zealand governments underhanded and undemocratic behaviour. Accurate reporting is an essential part of accountability after all and without journalists like Stephenson being in the field certain war atrocities would likely remain a secret forever.

Without the media questioning John Keys credibility as the Minister responsible for such immoral and illegal activity, little will change and our so-called "democracy" will effectively mean nothing.

27 Jul 2013

Stop the GCSB bill

Other places to protest - Rallies are at 2pm

Wellington: Bucket Fountain
Christchurch: Bridge of Remembrance
Hamilton: Garden Place
Dunedin: Octagon
Palmy: The Square
Nelson: Halifax St iSite
Napier: Memorial Square
Invercargil: Wachner Place
Tauranga: Central Police Station
Gisborne: outside 'Breeze N Bar'

26 Jul 2013

Russel Norman on stopping the GCSB Bill

Rent up, pay down

Today, Statistics NZ reported on Rental affordability in New Zealand for 1998–2012 (PDF). As with most Statistics this department of the government releases, it's worded to paint the current administration in a good light. For instance, it starts off by saying:

Rental affordability has improved since 1998 but has declined slightly in most regions since the global financial crisis of 2008.

That's great news isn't it? However you need to read further into the document to find out that things aren't really all that rosy:

Affordability has declined since the 1980s

Census data shows that rental affordability has declined since the 1980s. This is partly due to changes in the private rental market. In 1986, only 62.2 percent of renting households rented from private landlords. Of the remainder:

• 23.5 percent rented from the Housing Corporation
• 7.4 percent rented from another government agency
• 6.9 percent rented from a local authority.

By 2006, 81.8 percent of renting households rented from a private person, trust, or business:

• 13.4 percent rented from the Housing Corporation
• 3.0 percent rented from local authorities.

The higher proportion of social housing in the earlier period kept median rents lower. In the 1980s, subsidised housing was also available through some employers – around 14 percent of households rented from their employer in 1986.

Rental affordability continued to decline in the 1990s. The period of high unemployment in the late 1980s and early 1990s suppressed income growth, while the introduction of market rents for state housing led to a sharp peak in median rent increases in the mid- 1990s.

Although rents have increased much more slowly than house prices (which doubled between 2000 and 2007 (Productivity Commission, 2011)), renting was more expensive in 2012 than in the 1980s.

It really depends on what stats are cherry picked to show whether house prices have increased faster than rents, because other data clearly contradicts this claim.

Statistics also show that in 2007 within the Auckland region a household paid 32 percent of median equivalised weekly household income on median weekly rent, in 2012 that had increased to 35 percent.

A similar increase in rents that wasn't matched by income increases was seen in the same time period from every region except Manawatu-Wanganui, which declined 0.9 percent and Otago, which stayed the same.

Statistics NZ also reported:

Because the Auckland region had the highest proportion of rented dwellings, affordability issues in Auckland affect the greatest number of households – around one-third of the population lives in rented dwellings.

Clearly there are lots more people renting less affordable accommodation since National gained power in 2008. A 3 percent increase over five years might not seem like a lot, but when people's incomes were already stretched to the limit, any increase in rent that isn't matched by an increase in wages or benefits can have substantial detrimental effects.

Citizen A with Jacinda Ardern & Julie Fairey

23 Jul 2013

Stop subsidising the fossil fuel industry

Peter Dunne shows his true colours

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The controversial GCSB bill has the numbers to pass in Parliament after United Future leader Peter Dunne secured some significant changes to it for the price of his support.

Significant? There is nothing significant about the proposed changes to the GCSB amendment bill (PDF). Peter Dunne will effectively give his vote in support because of changes John Key was proposing anyway.

This has been a play act by Dunne all along, whereby he pretends to be concerned in order to appear centrist. He's not! By supporting the GCSB amendment bill Peter Dunne clearly displays all the hallmarks of a born to rule Tory git!

Never before has a government proposed to undermine people's right to privacy to such a degree. Never before has such contempt for our human rights been shown by elected officials.

New Zealand's domestic spy agency, the SIS, and its foreign spy agency, the GCSB, will be the subject of an independent review in 2015 and an automatic review every five to seven years after that.

What's the use in that? The GCSB has already been caught out undertaking illegal spying on New Zealand citizens and the government did nothing. So why would they move to sanction the spooks in the future? They simply won't, because their regime of mass surveillance gives them political and business advantages.

That's the real reason for the government's expansion of spying legislation. With no New Zealand prosecutions for things like terrorism or other issues the spying agencies are meant to be concerned with, what is the real reason behind this huge expansion of powers? Clearly vested interests is the obvious answer.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday he believed that the changes addressed many of the concerns raised by submitters on the bill.

However, the vast majority of submitters to the bill and the government's most vocal political opponents beg to differ. In my opinion, the proposed changes are mere window-dressing and do nothing to ensure people's privacy rights are upheld.

Mr Key also declared yesterday that the GCSB did not engage in the mass collection of metadata and that under the bill any collection of metadata of New Zealanders would require a warrant to be approved - by himself and the Commissioner of Security Warrants.

Actually, there is no specific mention of metadata in the bill or the proposed changes and John Key is simply lying again. Saying that a warrant is required before personal information is collected is also untrue. Here's what the GCSB act states:

Warrantless interception in situations not involving the physical connection of an interception device to a network; and not involving the installation of an interception device in any place in order to intercept communications in that place.

So the GCSB can continue to collect information as long as they are not PHYSICALLY connecting any NEW interception device to a network. Being that their interception devices are already in place and wireless technology means there is no physical connection, this part of the act, which will not change, appears to be specifically worded to allow the GCSB to intrude upon people's privacy without any oversight whatsoever.

It would be great if the mainstream media didn't just take what John Key says at face value. It would also be great if government politicians actually gave a damn about people's submissions instead of just paying lip service to democracy.

20 Jul 2013

17 Jul 2013

Police OK with corporate manslaughter

Today, the Police reported:

Police has concluded its investigation into the explosion at the Pike River Mine which occurred on Friday 19 November 2010.

The investigation began on the day following the explosion with the aim of assessing criminal liability that could be attributed to any individual.

After a complex and lengthy inquiry, and consideration of all the information available, police has determined that no charges will be laid against any individual involved in the management of Pike River Coal prior to the explosion.

I find this hard to accept, being that there were multiple safety issues that went unaddressed by Pike River management despite being brought to their attention long before the first explosion occurred. This is something that the Police even acknowledge themselves:

There is general acceptance and ample evidence that there were widespread departures from accepted standards of mine operations. However police has determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the laying of manslaughter charges. The lack of any causative link to the specific events which led to the explosion means a manslaughter prosecution of any individual does not meet the standard of evidential sufficiency.

If a company ignores the rules to make a quick buck and their unacceptable disregard for safety leads to people dying, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There is no middle ground here, with this being a clear-cut case of criminal-negligence manslaughter.

If there is no appropriate punishment for such a preventable disaster, how exactly do the Police expect there to be an increase in safety across the entire industry? They are effectively disregarding their most important directive, to protect people from harm.

With voluntary measures that are costly to implement and a lack of incentive to make the necessary changes, we're likely to see another Pike River disaster in the not too distant future...especially when the responsible parties effectively get off scot-free. These buggers aren't even going to pay any reparation to the deceased miners families, which is an absolutely despicable result the responsible parties should feel highly ashamed about.

16 Jul 2013

15 Jul 2013

Oliver Stone on NSA Spying

Stupid welfare reforms

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

All sickness beneficiaries, and sole parents and widows with no children under 14, are now subject to the same requirement to look for fulltime work as other jobless people, although sickness may be accepted as a valid reason to postpone work temporarily.

There will also be a new medical assessment process for Invalid beneficiaries to see if they have any capacity for work. While General Practitioners will be required to provide further personal details on their clients, the new regime may also include an examination by a specialist appointed by WINZ. No figures have been provided to show the cost of implementing this aspect of the policy changes.

Other new obligations include drug-testing for jobseekers in relevant industries, which is expected to trigger benefit cuts for up to 5800 people, and a requirement for beneficiaries to clear outstanding arrest warrants.

Drug testing beneficiaries for relevant industries? These people aren't working in those industries yet FFS! Surely the drug test should occur "for relevant industries" when they apply for or get the job? Why are we subsidizing these industries to check if their applicants are suitable or not?

Cutting a person's benefit if they fail a taxpayer funded drug test is a foolish policy that will do nothing to reduce the amount of drug addiction in New Zealand. In fact it is likely to make it even worse. Without an income some people will be forced into dealing drugs or selling their that what the right wing want?

About 8000 beneficiaries have arrest warrants outstanding for issues such as unpaid fines. Unless they clear them within 38 days, their benefits will be halved if they have children, or stopped completely if they don't, in what is likely to be the biggest single purge of the benefit rolls since the system was created.

Except a beneficiary who has fines usually pays them off at around $15 dollars per week. They have no choice in the matter, as WINZ automatically reduces their benefits until their fines are paid. If a person has an arrest warrant for fines, be assured that WINZ is already reducing that person’s benefit.

Most beneficiaries simply don't have the means to pay their fines within 38 days. Not having a WOF and registration costs $400, meaning this is clearly being used as an excuse to kick people who are already struggling off welfare. Such archaic and stupid policy will cause more beneficiaries to use loan sharks in an attempt to not lose their only incomes. In most cases these people don't have legal cars because they simply cannot afford them in the first place. Perhaps the right wing expects them to use a horse and cart instead?

Such repressive policy will undoubtedly create even more inequality in New Zealand... but I guess that's been National's agenda all along.

13 Jul 2013

David Ruck exposed

When the mask slips

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

The Government's controversial legislation extending the GCSB's powers to spy on New Zealanders lacks sufficient checks against abuse of power or adequate transparency and accountability, the Human Rights Commission says.

Being that National has already stacked the Commission with right wing sympathizers, it's surprising they've come out against the proposed law change. This fact alone should give the government pause for thought.

But Mr Key dismissed the commission's concerns and criticised the quality of their work.

"I think the Human Rights Commission actually should take a step back and ask themselves the question why they failed to put a submission in on time. They are funded by the Government and they were the only people that couldn't actually make the deadline."

Except it’s not a submission, it's a report (PDF), which the Human Rights Commission can provide to the Prime Minister at any time it wishes. John Key should have known this, especially if he had bothered to read the first page that clearly says it's a report, not a submission.

But if that wasn't bad enough, the idiot Prime Minister follows up with:

"Actually the bill narrows the GCSB's scope in its current form, it doesn't extend it," he said.

Which is a complete lie! Everybody knows that the GCSB amendment bill (PDF) increases the powers of the GCSB. It's a pity the Prime Minister isn’t being properly held to account for his numerous untruths. Here’s another one:

"I actually don't think it was a very good submission at all, and they need to pull their socks up. If they're going to continue to be a government-funded organisation they should meet the deadlines like everyone else did."

If John Key had read the HRC’s report, he should have known it wasn't a submission. The first page has 'REPORT TO THE PRIME MINISTER' on it FFS! Key is clearly being dishonest and shouldn’t be commenting on something he hasn’t read. If he has read it, he’s simply manufacturing an excuse to threaten the HRC, which is totally despicable!

That’s what really got my goat about all this…threatening to cut the watchdog's funding because he didn't like their report is an abhorrent act that even Piggy Muldoon (if he were alive) would have trouble surpassing.

In light of the HRC coming out against extending the GCSB's powers because of insufficient safeguards, which is backed up by every submission so far, there should be no further progress of the GCSB law change through the House of Representatives. It clearly has no support from interested parties, nor does it have a mandate provided by the people of New Zealand. If John Key had any concern for our democracy, he would halt his pigheadedness forthwith.

Here's the Commissions response to Keys accusations:

Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear

12 Jul 2013

Citizen A with Marama Davidson & Simon Prast

Duncan Garner - Asshole of the Week

Last Tuesday night, Duncan Garner tweeted:

Duncan Garner's claims turned out to be completely untrue, with the entire Labour caucus being contacted by Grant Robertson to see if there was any validity to the claims.

Clearly there was no letter, even though Duncan Garner had claimed Patrick Gower already had the letter in his possession and was going to give a report about it on TV3's Nightline.

This also turned out to be completely untrue, with no report on Nightline by Patrick Gower. Apart from a small tweet to refute the claim, Gower has chosen not to comment about the embarrassing debacle, probably hoping that Garners' bullshit doesn't rub off on him. Garner then tweeted:

You've got to wonder if Garner was drunk? The hack had claimed it was his source within Labour that told him Gower had the coup letter, obviously trying to shift blame. In my opinion, a proper journalist would have contacted Patrick Gower to confirm he had the letter before reporting it as fact.

So either Garner has a completely unreliable source who claimed Gower had the letter and was going to report on it (unlikely) or Duncan is making shit up, which considering his previous misconduct is far more conceivable.

Now some have speculated that Garner had been given the wrong end of the stick so to speak to make him look foolish. However if that was the case, you'd think Garner would be furious. It's his credibility that's on the line after all.

Interestingly he doesn't seem to give a damn, with Garner continuing to perpetuate the lie on his RadioLive program and on Twitter, even when it has been completely disproved. After four days of waiting for this coup that was meant to be happening on Tuesday, I think it's safe to say no coup exists, and Duncan Garner was simply lying in order to try and destabilize Labour.

In my opinion, Duncan Garner doesn't have the right to call himself a journalist. Instead he should be called an asshole, because that's what he is.

11 Jul 2013

National desperate for money

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Good news for New Zealand retailers now the Government has committed to look at taxing purchases made on overseas websites.

Inland Revenue and Customs will work together to review whether GST can be levied on international purchases worth less than $400.

I wonder what ever happened to National's 'wave goodbye to higher taxes' promise?

Retailers Association spokesperson John Albertson says that is making hard work for local retailers who are facing taxes on all sales regardless of whether they're online or not.

"It's often quoted that some New Zealand retailers aren't competitive, it's far cheaper to buy overseas, etc.

"Well in some product categories that may well be true, but let's start from the same starting point where we're both paying GST."

This is very misleading, as bulk importers effectively don’t pay GST on imported goods. GST is only payable when the item is sold in a store. With most products being imported these days, this new tax will only benefit the middlemen, and not retailers or consumers.

The Retailers Association says GST needs to be introduced on purchases made on overseas websites immediately, or more Kiwi retailers are going to suffer.

You’ve got to wonder if John Albertson and the government has thought this one through properly? Imposing GST on all online purchases made overseas at point of sale isn’t feasible, because the New Zealand government has absolutely no say in how websites like eBay and Amazon conduct their business.

There are other problems as well, one being that items purchased from overseas aren't always cheaper, with exchange rates, duties and often-exorbitant shipping costs needing to be factored in. These additional charges often make locally sourced items (when you can find them) far more competitively priced.

Another issue is that legislating to charge taxes on every single item that's produced in another country and imported into New Zealand is problematic at best. The share volume of items being imported and requiring GST to be paid before they're delivered is a logistical nightmare.

First the item arrives in New Zealand where a client code is required for it to be processed. You need to supply Customs with your contact details and verification of your identity in the form of a drivers licence or passport to attain this code. A broker, who provides an invoice that includes a Customs import transaction fee, GST, Brokerage fee, user charges and sometimes a Customs security fee if they decide to take a closer look at the item, then contacts the consumer. The consumer then has to pay those sometimes incorrect fees before the item is released for delivery, a process that can take around three weeks to occur. Suggesting that every single imported item should be subject to this type of system is complete lunacy!

It also seems immoral to charge a Goods and Services Tax on items that are produced in another country. The New Zealand government hasn't provided any infrastructure to help those items to be manufactured. Although I'm sure the clowns in charge will disagree, the only service they can take credit for is when the item is transferred from its arrival place in New Zealand to its destination, the taxing of which is hardly going to save New Zealand from the financial hole National has mismanaged us into.

10 Jul 2013

Owen Glenn should step down

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Many of the New Zealand experts have quit the Glenn inquiry following several issues, most recently over claims Sir Owen assaulted a woman in Hawaii in 2002.

He told Campbell Live last night the accusations were fabricated by the American woman, his former personal assistant, to extort money.

He implied she had psychiatric issues and said she re-ignited the claim 10 days ago hoping for another payout.

Whether the woman had "psychiatric issues" is beside the point, which is that Owen Glenn appears to have paid her to withdraw the assault complaint.

"There was subsequently no case to answer. If both parties agree there is no case to answer, it's no contest," he said.

Under United States law that's the case, however under New Zealand law it's not. If an allegation of assault has been made, the Police in New Zealand are obliged to investigate that complaint. They will determine if charges are warranted depending on the evidence available, even if the victim later withdraws their statement.

Clearly there was enough evidence in the Owen Glenn assault case for charges to be laid. The only reason it didn't reach a final judgment was because the victim withdrew her complaint, which under US law is required to proceed to prosecution.

Personally I think the New Zealand system is better, because it limits the accused interfering with the victim in order to subvert the course of justice.

However, he said she then filed a lawsuit against him for unfair dismissal.

"She was a case of extortion, I said I wouldn't pay her out. But [the employment mediator] said 'look, have a small settlement, whatever I can get it down to' so I agreed to that in the end only because of the length of time and the harassment etcetera, but I only paid that strictly - and it's in the court papers - for payments of her psychiatric bills."

The settlement was $80,000 as opposed to the $300,000 she was seeking.

There's a whopping contradiction here, in that Owen Glenn claims the payout was for an alleged unfair dismissal, but then says the payment is recorded in court papers. You simply don't have 'court papers' so to speak when the case is being overseen by an employment mediator. Therefore it appears that the payment is concerned with the assault, and perhaps the emotional damage it caused.

"I don't think I have done anything wrong. I haven't broken any commandments, I am a good Catholic boy ... I have done nothing wrong, why should I hide? If there is no evidence and there was no event what do you want me to do? Go around and sue them all? No. Should I pay her another $100,000 to get it refuted? Would that make everyone happy? Nope."

So how much was it; $80,000 or $100,000? If Owen Glenn didn’t do anything wrong, why did he plead no contest instead of not guilty? Does he have such little faith in the US judicial system to get to the truth of the matter, or is he simply guilty of assaulting a young woman and then buying his way to freedom? How do you reconcile the likelihood that he used his considerable wealth to ensure the charges were dropped, while he also claims his pleading no contest was to avoid further court costs?

There are simply too many questions concerning this assault case to believe Owen Glenn is telling the complete truth, which makes him entirely inappropriate to lead an inquiry into domestic violence.

Implying that he was being blackmailed without a shred of evidence to that effect and that the woman was ‘mad’ is despicable! Such defamatory claims are highly inappropriate, especially when the victim has chosen to remain silent. If Owen Glenn had a shred of credibility about him, he would now remain silent on the issue as well, instead of trying to restore his standing with unsubstantiated allegations that are in effect only adding insult to injury.

9 Jul 2013

The growing cost of catastrophe

Rekindle - waste wood into furniture

Chase those racists out of town

Not that I want to breath life into a "political" party that's obviously been started for racist ideals, but The Pakeha Party needs a little bit more attention, if only to refute their defunct beliefs.

As far as I can tell The Pakeha Party wants to further ostracize an already downtrodden people, because they think that Maori are living a life of privilege. They believe Maori are gaining too many "things" and that Maori-only policies are unfair. This is reminiscent of the now defunct Act party, whose catch phrase of 'one law for all' was a veiled attempt at hiding their separatist agenda.

Likewise, The Pakeha Party's platform is flawed and ignores a couple of huge elephants in the room, one being that Maori are obviously not living a life of privilege. In fact Maori are over represented in nearly every negative statistic you can think of, from higher unemployment to lower life expectancy and higher rates of suicide. Most of these negative statistics are related to poverty, which is unfortunately getting worse in New Zealand especially within Maori communities. Therefore the argument that Maori are somehow privileged is completely wrong!

David Ruck - founder of The Pakeha Party
This brings us to the next issue...policies that specifically target Maori. The question people need to ask themselves is whether they think that restitution should be made for past injustices? If the answer is no, then that answer is either based on ignorance or prejudice.

History shows us that Maori were severely persecuted by white colonizers, with the injustices that occurred still having adverse effects that in my opinion need to be rectified through legislation. You don't steal a people's land and then reimburse them 5% of its value without there being consequences.

The only way to remedy the problem is to have targeted policy that helps Maori work towards parity, and to that end political parties that are focused on achieving such goals are advantageous. Only through targeted policy will we see a reduction in the negative statistics that are a very real reality for the majority of Maori people. Only then will we see true equality in Aotearoa New Zealand.

7 Jul 2013

Charles Saatchi - Asshole of the Week

Today, Stuff reported:

Charles Saatchi has told TV chef Nigella Lawson he is divorcing her - in a statement to a British tabloid.

Only a true asshole could publicly dump his wife via a newspaper.

The art collector told the Daily Mail he made the "heartbreaking" decision to formally separate from Lawson because she refused to defend him after he was snapped abusing her at a London restaurant.

WTF! Nigella Lawson is meant to defend a person that's caused her such emotional aguish, not to mention the physical abuse itself. There is no doubt that Saatchi's actions have damaged the celebrity chef's career, perhaps irreparably. The abuser then has the gall to complain that the victim hasn't defended him... FFS!

"I am sorry to announce that Nigella Lawson and I are getting divorced," he said.

"I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way."

Of course the pictures and eyewitness accounts tell a different story:

Fellow diners reported a heated argument, during which Saatchi repeatedly grasped Lawson's neck, pushed his hands into her face, and pinched her nose.

Lawson appeared upset and left the restaurant in tears, passers-by said. But while witnesses photographed the incident, no one reported the crime to the police.

Perhaps not calling the Police is an indictment on British society more than the severity of the assault.

However what is clear is that Charles Saatchi abused Nigella Lawson, and when that abuse became public he failed to make the right moves to limit the damage such an incident would cause to his wife's career. The asshole was only concerned with himself, and it's therefore little wonder their marriage has ended.

6 Jul 2013

Revolution: An Instruction Manual

Nationals deficit deficiencies

Yesterday, the Minister of Finance and Infrastructure, Bill English reported:

A further improvement in government tax revenue left the operating deficit before gains and losses $763 million smaller than forecast in the 11 months to 31 May, Finance Minister Bill English says.

So, the forecast was completely wrong, being $763 million wide of the mark. Nothing really new there then, with National failing miserably at forecasting anything to do with finances.

The operating deficit before gains and losses was $3.26 billion in the 11 months to 31 May – or $763 million lower than the Budget 2013 forecast of $4.03 billion. If this improvement continues until the end of the financial year, the OBEGAL deficit will be $2.3 billion smaller than Budget 2012 forecasts.

In other words there's still a deficit of $3.3 billion, despite the global recession ending over four years ago. If that's not an indictment of government incompetence, I don't know what is.

National has been a complete economic failure for New Zealand. The sooner they're elected out the better it will be for our books.

Plastic Seduction

Blatant media manipulation

It's been interesting to watch the response to the Labour party's proposal to discuss a quota system to ensure more female representation. We aren't even discussing a policy here, it's just a proposal at this stage, which makes me wonder what all the hoopla is about.

In my opinion, the issue is whether there's enough proportional representation in parliament, not whether men are better qualified or motivated than women to do the job. In fact studies have shown that women actually run companies better than men and are more likely to increase production and profits, so the disproportionate amount of men in positions of power clearly has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with sexism.

Obviously there aren't enough female Members of Parliament, especially in the current government. This fact is being completely ignored by the right wing propagandists, including female members of the National party.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

National's Judith Collins was dismissive of the proposal, saying it showed Labour women clearly were not confident of being selected under normal processes.

"It is a surprise that they have so little confidence in themselves."

The problem isn’t with females having less confidence, it’s that the system is skewed in favour of male candidates. There’s something called the old boys club that ensures a male applicant is chosen over a female one even if she's more qualified and motivated to succeed. The issue here isn't the rule change, it's the problem that the rule change proposes to fix.

Despite the howls of protest, quotas are one way to remedy gender bias. What the misogynists are completely ignoring is that such systems have been shown to work effectively in business and political organizations throughout the world, so there’s no reason it wouldn't work for Labour. The Green party for instance uses quotas to effectively ensure proportional representation, and by all accounts their system works well.

However, the true significance of Labour’s proposed rule change, or more specifically the attention it has received, has eluded most commentators. It's nothing more than a red hearing with the leaking of the 2013 Annual Conference agenda timed perfectly to take the focus off far more important issues, namely the GCSB hearing. Clearly the right wing is desperate to subvert people's attention away from topics that are damaging to John Key's credibility.

It's a similar ploy to that used by National's media lackey's when the Aaron Gilmore fiasco took the limelight off the GCSB bill, a law change that will further undermine New Zealanders right to privacy. Unfortunately the media often ignores the important stories in favour of blowing anything that makes Labour look bad out of all proportion. That's what is occurring now with the so-called "man ban" the media is focused on, and it’s pretty blatant manipulation.

Top secret America

Metadata and media bias

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The bill is silent on metadata.

The assumption is that the GCSB currently collects it about New Zealanders, despite not being explicitly empowered to, because it is not explicitly prevented from doing so under the current law's protections against spying on New Zealanders.

Why has the media accepted John Key's claims at face value? Just because he says the law isn't clear, doesn't mean that's the case. In fact the law is very clear and encompasses all information that a New Zealand citizen transmits, including metadata.

Here's the relevant part of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 (PDF):

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications

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

Metadata is a part of a person's communication that the GCSB act explicitly states the agency must not intercept. Why Audrey Young thinks otherwise isn't clear, but perhaps a little bit more consideration of the subject matter before pen gets put to paper is in order.

5 Jul 2013

Citizen A with Colin Craig & Dr Wayne Hope

Non-Knighthood Material

Click image to enlarge

Nick Smith vs UNESCO

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Dr Smith said yesterday that the chances of the region being stripped of its special status was "zip".

"Those that claim that a tunnel or any other visitor facilities of that sort would remove World Heritage status, in my view, are mistaken," he said.

But in a letter to DOC, Unesco said that the two developments were "likely to be considered incompatible" with the site's World Heritage status.

It said that the region's Outstanding Universal Value was dependent on human interference being peripheral.

Unesco officials said that the monorail track would run through areas of special grassland and areas which contained endangered kaka and yellowhead - two factors which were influential to the World Heritage award.

So, Nick Smith lied about the impact on the Fiordland wilderness. UNESCO had clearly indicated that the regions World Heritage status would change, which would mean there's a considerable adverse effect on the environment if the developments went ahead.

That adverse impact would mean less tourism, but of course the government hasn't factored this into their costing’s. If they had accounted for this factor, it would mean the project isn't financially worthwhile. It will also mean the overall number of tourists will reduce even further.

People simply don't come to New Zealand to see man-made tunnels or monorails; they come to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. That natural beauty is worth billions of dollars to our economy each year, and therefore should be protected.

It's a pity the current Minister of Conservation hasn't got an environmental bone in his body. It's also a pity he's trying to mislead about the potential impact from these silly developments.

In my opinion, the country would be far better off without the likes of Nick Smith in parliament. How on earth such a dishonest idiot has remained in the halls of power for so long is beyond me?

More pain at the pump

At the beginning of 2008 when petrol prices were $1.68 per litre, John Key asked the question:

Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?

At the time, the Labour party's Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel released an independent report into petrol pricing in New Zealand (PDF). Its main findings were:

• The New Zealand petrol market is fundamentally competitive.
• Retail petrol prices are not fast to rise and slow to fall.
• Recent price rises are mainly due to increases in crude oil prices overseas.
• A Fuelwatch scheme like Australia’s wouldn’t benefit consumers, because our market works differently.
• More transparency about the makeup of importer margins and a move to report daily margin movements would be useful for consumers.

However you've got to wonder about Hale & Twomey's independence...being that they're closely associated with the oil industry. By all appearances petrol prices are faster to rise and slower to fall, with the energy sector soaking up huge profits in the interim.

Such a flawed system means 95 Octane now costs $2.30 per litre, depending on where you fill up. That's a 37% increase since Key made his 2008 state of the Nation speech, in which he promised 'A Fresh Start for New Zealand'.

Unfortunately nothing has changed, with National increasing GST and other taxes to cause Kiwis considerably more pain at the pump. In fact around half the increase in petrol prices since 2008 is a result of the government increasing taxes and not due to increases in crude oil prices overseas.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

An industry-led rise and a tax increase have pushed petrol prices to equal a record high reached last year.

Increases imposed by the four main oil companies of 4c a litre for both petrol and diesel - within three days of fuel taxes rising on Monday - have been slammed by the Automobile Association as unjustified.

"It's a bad look for the fuel companies to be raising prices so quickly after the tax rises," spokesman Mark Stockdale said yesterday.

The double-whammy has hit motorists with a 7c increase in petrol prices since Monday, when the Government raised its excise tax by 3c a litre to pay for roading projects, notably its seven Roads of National Significance such as the Waikato Expressway and Puhoi-to-Wellsford motorway extension.

So, the government has borrowed New Zealand into $82 billion worth of debt, is selling our most profitable assets and has markedly increased taxes and road user charges to pay for their roads of little significance...the irony being that with large increases in the cost of living since National gained power, most Kiwis won't be able to afford to use them.

3 Jul 2013

2 Jul 2013

Bob Jones fruit loop

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

When I was young, every household in state house Lower Hutt had vegetable gardens and quite a number had chicken-runs. It left its mark, thus even today my household grows most of our vegetables and fruit and has chickens, albeit I have the indulgence of two gardeners. Nevertheless, I'm told that household vegetable gardens are now uncommon.

Most mornings I have crisp stewed pears with muesli, these provided free from nature and preserved from my garden. Pear trees are cheap, hardy and prolific. The crop from one would cover most families for a year. In fact, I have hundreds of fruit trees but cannot find takers for free fruit, so this year I bought a juicer, had the lot put through and frozen and now drink our home-grown fruit juice year round.

More deluded waffling from a senile old fool! Fruit trees on average take 5 years to mature to the point where they produce fruit, or ten to produce enough for a family, which means there's a long delay between spending around $40 per fruit tree and payback.

There's also the fact that most poor people don't own their own homes, which means they would be spending money on beautifying someone else's property...a property they will likely not be residing in when the fruit is ready.

Given all of this, I wonder how much the alleged hardship sufferers are doing to help themselves, particularly the lowest-income category for whose children we must now provide breakfast. It's a certainty we will soon hear of the need to provide them lunch and, like it or not, Al Nisbet's cartoon was spot on. Even on the minimum wage and after rent, electricity etc, no one cannot afford to feed their children and let's not have a barrage of "mocking from on high" abuse. These people live in luxury compared with my childhood, but we never went without food.

Typical tory bullshit from a rich prick who thinks that because he now owns an orchard and can afford to employ two gardeners, he can lecture the poor about their opportunities to grow their own food.

Bob Jones might have come from humble beginnings, but he certainly didn't make all his money legitimately. That means his blathering about poor people being able to afford enough food is entirely feckless! Not everybody has the opportunity to do crime and get away with it like Bob did to make their wealth...not everybody has grown up in a time of full employment either.

In my opinion, the sooner the Herald gets rid of this old racist prick the better.