The Jackal: July 2014

31 Jul 2014

Who do you believe?

On the back of numerous controversies that have plagued the National led government over the last few weeks, the left wing block of Labour and the Greens have managed to increase their support from 38.5% to 42% in the latest Roy Morgan poll.

At the same time John Key has floundered in the face of mounting opposition to his corrupt and incompetent regime. Because of this, the National party has shed a whopping 5 percentage points of support, which puts them well within range of an effective left wing campaign.

However there was another poll reported on One News tonight that's had far less attention, a poll showing that a majority of New Zealanders no longer trust the Prime Minister, John Key.

In the lead up to an election how terrible it must be for team Key to have a poll showing that most people no longer believe in the Prime Minister. Considering the numerous cases of his dishonesty, it's little wonder that more voters believe what Kim Dotcom says compared to old Teflon John. He is after all only top dog because he 's the best and most accomplished liar!

Let’s hope that the results in this poll are reflected in the September election and we get a government that conducts itself with some integrity, an honest left wing government that New Zealand actually deserves.

Oily pigs at the trough

We all know that National MP Simon Bridges is a lackey for the oil and gas industry. But what wasn't readily apparent is just how much taxpayer's money the Energy and Resources Minister is willing to throw at his oil baron masters.

While the government is making numerous and severe cuts that have caused many public services to decline or no longer be available, National MP's are living it up and throwing elaborate parties for their mates with no expenses spared.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Spending on oil barons draws criticism

Minister says $22,000 on food and drink over four days isn’t a misuse of Government money.

Mr Bridges yesterday revealed the breakdown of the $237,000 in taxpayers' money that went towards the New Zealand Oil & Gas Summit 2011.

It included:

• $22,000 on catering, including meals at top restaurants Martin Bosley's and Logan Brown

• $37,000 on accommodation at the Intercontinental Hotel

• $12,000 on corporate box Rugby World Cup hosting

• $10,000 on activities, including a sailing trip and a winery tour

• $20,000 on a welcome reception

• $40,000 on a one-day seminar

The remaining $96,000 is understood to have gone towards event and project management.

How on earth was Simon Bridges able to waste $96,000 on event management?

The government spending a quarter of a million dollars on wining and dining oil execs is bad enough, especially when there's no measurable financial return for such a huge investment, but when you consider that many Kiwi families are struggling to even put food on the table then such expenditure is entirely unacceptable!

These people are rich enough to pay for themselves and don't require government handouts. Furthermore, the government already subsidizes the oil and gas industry to the tune of $81 million dollars per year, so why should we provide them with any further taxpayer incentives to do business in New Zealand?

This blatant troughing must end and the best way to do that is to change the government in September.

30 Jul 2014

Israel celebrates killing of children

As the Israeli bombardment and occupation of Gaza intensifies with Unicef estimating that 230 Palestinian children have been killed to date, the international response to numerous Israeli war crimes appears to be floundering. Although an investigation will be conducted, without American support for economic sanctions and other measures to coerce Israel into a peaceful solution even the United Nations appears unable to ensure a halt to the bloodshed.

Such a slow and ineffective international response to what can only be described as attempted ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is in clear breach of International humanitarian laws specifically designed to safeguard peaceful civilians and ensure they aren’t caught up in other people's conflicts.

In complete disregard for the unconditional rules of warfare, the Israelis are actively targeting schools, playgrounds, hospitals and innocent people's homes in clear violation of the Geneva Convention, which was ratified by Israel way back in 1951.

Despite a strong propaganda campaign in order to try and justify their entirely unjust war against the people of Palestine, Israel's clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention with such abhorrent acts of barbarism has ensured worldwide criticism, condemnation that will have widespread implications for the rogue and terrorist nation, Israel.

Here are a few of the Palestinian children killed or injured in the conflict:

If that killing and maiming of innocent children wasn't bad enough, the Israelis are actually celebrating their atrocious war crimes. Not only are the Zionists cheering on the bombardment of Gaza from the sidelines, they're openly dancing in the streets and chanting about just how great it is to kill innocent Palestinian children.

Yesterday, The Times of Israel reported:

Far-right Israelis celebrate Gaza kids’ deaths

In video from Tel Aviv demonstration, crowd can be seen chanting, ‘There is no school tomorrow; there are no children left in Gaza’

Video has emerged of far-right Israeli protesters celebrating the death of children in Gaza during a counter-demonstration to an anti-war rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square over the weekend

“There is no school tomorrow; there are no children left in Gaza,” the men can be seen chanting as part of a roughly formed song that also included the stanzas “I hate all the Arabs” and “Gaza is a cemetery.”

The mob also called for Israeli Arabs to be stripped of their citizenship.

No wonder people are saying the Israelis are acting like Nazis.

Here's the video of Israelis in Tel Aviv celebrating the death of children in Gaza.

What a bunch of sick and soulless bastards!

Real men say sorry

There are a couple of universal truths that all men should be aware of. Firstly, it takes a bigger man to walk away. Of course men can be accused of being weak if they don't confront their problems with violence, but in most cases giving into the urge to do violence is where the weakness really lies.

Another truth is that real men say sorry.

That’s why I was pleased to see the David Cunliffe inform a Women's Refuge forum in Auckland at the beginning of the month that Labour would fund refuges an extra $15 million per year. David Cunliffe also said:

"Can I begin by saying I'm sorry," he said.

"I don't often say it. I'm sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.

"So the first message to the men out there is: wake up, stand up and man up and stop this bullshit!"

Clearly David Cunliffe has the emotional fortitude and intellectual acumen to understand that violence against woman and children is a problem that all men must stand up against. Like the anti-drink driving adverts, men must stop their mates from abusing woman and children. If we don’t, then we’re partly responsible for the terrible amounts of domestic violence that occurs throughout New Zealand.

Of course the right wing cherry picked the “I'm sorry for being a man” part of Cunliffe’s speech and badly misrepresented what he actually meant. Instead of acknowledging that all men have a role to play in stopping violence against woman and children, they vilified the leader of the opposition for political gain. This wasn't just bad for Labour's poll ratings, it was bad for domestic violence in general as well. Instead of promoting the core message, the media belittled somebody who was trying to get men to unite against a serious problem. They in fact made it even harder for men to do something about their and their mates domestic violence issues.

The contrast to the current Prime Minister couldn’t be more apparent. Last week John Key went back on his word and decided not to apologise for the government's bungling that resulted in a Malaysian diplomat accused of attempted rape being allowed to return back to Malaysia. Despite John Key’s assurances, he may never return to New Zealand to face justice.

What really pisses me off about all this is that John Key says the government’s mismanagement wasn’t very serious and therefore he isn’t going to say sorry for his administration allowing the accused rapist to get away.

However it appears the real reason Key has decided not to apologise is because Tania Billingsley spoke out publicly against the government.

In changing his mind about acknowledging Ministerial and departmental fault Key is implying that the victim doesn’t have a right to speak out. By doing this the Prime Minister is in fact helping to perpetuate and facilitate rape culture.

John Key’s failure to apologise appropriately (apparently because the case isn’t serious enough) begs the question as to what exactly constitutes a serious enough case to warrant an apology?

When traffic and train delays caused some Rugby World Cup fans to miss the opening game, John Key made a well-publicized apology. When court documents showed that the GCSB had carried out illegal surveillance on Kim Dotcom, Key made an apology. Why then can he not make an apology to Tania Billingsley for the government's obvious failings?

29 Jul 2014

Goodbye Nick Smith

On the back of recently trying to silence DOC over their concerns about the impact of the Ruataniwha irrigation project on water quality in central Hawke's Bay, Nick Smith is once again bullying a statuary body with threats that clearly show he’s not fit to be a Minister of the Crown.

Yesterday, Radio NZ reported:

Minister should resign, says Fish and Game

The Fish and Game Council wants Conservation Minister Nick Smith to resign, accusing him of threatening its future if it continues to question irrigation projects and intensive farming.

The council is an independent body with statutory authority to protect rivers, lakes and streams and the sole agency for issuing hunting and fishing licences.

Of course the beleaguered Conservation Minister has denied any wrongdoing, just like he initially denied pressuring ACC to give a friend of his special treatment, something the Minister had to later resign over.

He also denied any wrongdoing in the Cave Creek disaster, a disaster that caused the deaths of 14 people and was directly linked to a National government's policies on and mismanagement of the conservation estate. National cut DOC's funding to such an extent they couldn't function properly and in this respect it appears Nick Smith will never learn.

Nick Smith has rejected accusations that he told Fish and Game members at a tense meeting on 18 July in Wellington to essentially pull back on campaigning or risk the council being stripped of its statutory powers.

But notes obtained by Radio New Zealand News from the meeting where Dr Smith is accused of making the comments quote him saying its "perks of being a statutory body could go" if it continues to behave like a "rabid NGO."

The problem for Nick Smith is that nobody is buying into his side of the story, mainly because the evidence confirming that he threatened Fish and Game is categoric!

Five people who attended the 18 July meeting have told Radio New Zealand News that Dr Smith gave councillors a dressing down for their stance on trying to protect water quality in lakes and rivers.

Being that Fish and Game are mainly comprised of people who usually support right wing governments, this could be a real problem for National.

Smith might have a few farmers on his side concerning National's policy to allow polluted waterways to get worse, but the vast majority of New Zealander's want to be able to enjoy the great outdoors including swimming and fishing in our rivers.

Nick Smith seems determined to shut down any dissent to National's pro-pollution agenda, even threatening to restructure and cut funding to ensure organisations are kept quiet. The Ministers behavior is simply unacceptable; because it certainly isn't democratic to threaten a statutory body in such an aggressive and underhanded manner. Therefore Nick Smith should do the right thing and resign, preferably without all the crying this time.

28 Jul 2014

Valid reasons to change the government

If you were to rely on the six O’clock news for your daily intake of information you would be forgiven in thinking that the National party can do no wrong.

So fleeting is their coverage of the government's numerous cases of misconduct and so extensive are there pro-National reports that they would have you believing that Teflon John is some sort of bloody rockstar.

However the reality of the situation clearly contradicts such prejudiced media coverage with a groundswell of discontent displaying itself with defaced National party billboards and other effective forms of protest throughout the country.

Thankfully not all journalists share the mainstream medias pretense that everything is just fine within the current administration. In fact the majority of the mainstream medias lopsided reporting couldn't have been more skillfully dismantled than in today's Otago Daily Times editorial:

On shaky ground

National's recent mistakes are more serious, and the mounting number of them is baffling, two months out from the general election.

Neither Prime Minister John Key or Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully handled the Malaysian diplomat rape allegations well and, although both managed to escape scrutiny in the subsequent review into the case, it is far from over and there could be further fallout.

While Mr Cunliffe's apology put him offside with males, Mr Key's flip-flop on his promise to apologise to the alleged victim over the handling of her case (albeit yet to be proven), may in comparison do him few favours with many women.

Revelations of National MP Claudette Hauiti's unauthorised spending on a Parliamentary charge card put paid to her political aspirations - sped up with a nudge from the Prime Minister -

and Chester Borrows' latest speeding fine is far from a good look for the Courts Minister, who didn't really do himself any favours by acknowledging it wasn't his first speeding ticket, and assuring the public he always pays his tickets promptly.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's bypassing of Christchurch airport security this week (like Mr Borrows, his explanation was he was running late) is inconceivable, particularly in the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines' and other recent aviation disasters, when the minds of travellers worldwide are on safety and security.

His apology and offer to resign, which was (unsurprisingly) rejected by the Prime Minister, has been viewed by many as a cynical ploy to take the heat out of the situation, but still leaves questions about any penalty which may in fact be meted out by the Civil Aviation Authority. (It has launched an investigation into the security breach.)

Added to the above list are other recent high-profile incidents involving ministers such as the Judith Collins' Chinese dinner scandal and Maurice Williamson's intervention on behalf of Chinese businessman Donghua Liu regarding his citizenship and a domestic violence incident, which led to Mr Williamson's resignation.

While his apparent ''Teflon John'' invulnerability seems to keep him high in the popularity stakes, Mr Key is increasingly leaving himself open to uncomfortable accusations.

It is hard for many not to wonder whether what is on display is simply arrogance, whether it is a more sinister contempt for the law, abuse of power, privilege and process, or honest mistakes/dumb decisions made in a pressure-cooker pre-election environment.

Firstly there's the mishandling of the Tania Billingsley case and Claudette Hauiti's taxpayer funded spend-up spree in Australia. Then there's also Chester Borrows' recent speeding offenceJonathan Coleman's lies about when he knew of FBI interest in the Dotcom pre-residency decision and Gerry Brownlee illegally barging through airport security, which should eventuate in his permanent resignation.

Don't forget Judith Collins' Chinese dinner scandal and Maurice Williamsons' police interference on behalf of his mate and convicted woman abuser, Chinese businessman Donghua Liu. That makes at least seven good reasons to not vote for National this coming election.

They aren’t the only valid reasons to change the government though, not by a long shot.

Today, Radio NZ also reported:

Minister accused of political interference 
Dr Smith met the Fish and Game Council in Wellington on 18 July, and four people who attended told Radio New Zealand News he gave councillors a dressing down for their stance on trying to protect water quality in lakes and rivers.

Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes, who was at the meeting, said Dr Smith was bullying the Fish and Game councillors in a clear attempt to stop it carrying out its statutory role to advocate for water quality.


But Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said Dr Smith was hostile towards his organisation at the meeting.

The minister implied he would restructure the organisation if it did not tone down its stance on water quality, and Mr Haynes had given an accurate account of what happened at the meeting, Mr Johnson told Nine to Noon.

"He said that he's worried that Fish and Game is losing its way, that Fish and Game struggles with being a Government statutory body and instead is being a rabid NGO," he said.

On top of Nick Smith previously having to resign over his pressuring ACC on behalf of a female friend of his back in 2012, this anti-democratic bullying by Smith, which in my opinion should ensure his complete departure from parliament, makes an even eight good reasons to vote for anyone but the current government.

A vote for National is clearly a vote for politicians who rip-off taxpayers, a government that ignores rape culture, politicians who believe they're above the law, corrupt minister's who interfere in active police investigations and politicians who use taxpayers money to promote their own private business interests. If you don't like any of these things, then don't vote for National.

Vacuous ravings in the Herald

You know it's a slow news day with nothing in particular to attack the Labour party over when journalists in New Zealand undertake a bit of navel gazing. Much like their biased political opinions, most reporters are invariably prejudiced in favour of their peers and themselves when trying to analyse their own belief system.

With so much opinion passed off as fact these days and an inevitable backlash in the form of complaint letters and negative online commentary, it's little wonder that the press is trying to make themselves feel a bit better. A good example of this egotistical reporting is in the NZ Herald today, with Audrey Young writing:

Policies, plans, people all part of campaign coverage

Guest columnists will include the acerbic Cactus Kate form the radical right, former Labour candidate Josie Pagani and broadcaster Mark Sainsbury.

We'll also be working with our cousins from NewstalkZB, Mike Hosking and Rachel Smalley will have occasional columns.

What Audrey Young is basically saying is that we can either expect a total absence of any left wing guest writers in the Herald or she simply thought they weren't worth mentioning at all. Instead we can expect some badly written delusions from one of the most right wing spin doctors out there, Cathy Odgers, some biased opinions from a failed Labour candidate now turned National party attack dog, Josie Pagani, and Mark Sainsbury who will probably tow the line. Together they will likely regurgitate National's political messaging verbatim.

Then we have National's most loyal propagandist's from NewstalkZB including Mike Hosking buddying up with the Herald, the sometimes moderate but usually biased Rachel Smalley giving government MP's a hospital pass and the rest of the Herald "team" who is predominated by those clearly in support of National. You can bet your bottom dollar that they will be working hard throughout the election campaign to get John Key re-elected.

After glowing praises for her right wing colleges, Audrey Young also decides to write about just how wonderful a few hand picked Herald journalists are, including John Armstrong:

John has a special place in NZ political journalism. He is the most respected commentator in the Press Gallery, among both peers and politicians.

What he says matters a great deal to politicians but he doesn't write with them or their acolytes in mind. He is always focused on ordinary readers and voters and providing them with insightful commentary to understand politics better.

The first campaign he covered was in 1987, the middle of the fourth Labour Government. Last year, he was the Canon Columnist of the Year.

Considering the hate merchant Cameron Slater also won a Media Award, Canon's recognition for Armstrong really means very little at all. What the Heralds most senior journalist thinks often doesn't matter either, because he's basically a senile old fool! John Armstrong is clearly past his used by date and should do democracy a favour and retire.

Considering the amount of baseless attacks on left wing politicians the NZ Herald has been running lately while ignoring anything to do with their socially progressive policy announcements, perhaps a few more resignations are in order as well.

How else can they hope to restore any semblance of balance to their reporting? Because without the publication changing it's obviously pro-National tune, we the general public should view it for what it really is; government propaganda dressed up as campaign coverage.

26 Jul 2014

Most politicians don't care about elderly

Back at the end of June the New Zealand Aged Care Association ran a full paged advert in the NZ Herald concerning a number of questions they wanted politicians to answer. They also sent each party a letter outlining their concerns and requested that the answers be sent through by the 18th of July.

Being a good samaritan and somebody who's interested in what the politicians were going to do for our aged citizens, I sent through a small reminder in the form of a tweet to each party asking them to be the first to respond. I wasn't however expecting such a snarky tweet from the antagonists in United Future:

United Future clearly said they would respond before the 18th July, which makes their failure to respond over a week after the deadline puzzling!

In fact, after checking the Aged Care Associations website again one would think that the majority of political parties in New Zealand are either too incompetent to prepare a response in time or they just don't give a damn about elderly people at all.

At least NZ First (PDF) and the Green party (PDF) took the time to write a response, which is more than can be said for the Act party, the Conservatives, the Internet party, Labour, the Mana party, the Maori party, National and of course Peter Dunne's United Future.

If you're an elderly person or care about what happens to the older generation, it's well worth having a quick read of Winston Peters and the Green party's plans. It's a pity all the other politicians don't care enough about the elderly and their concerns to bother responding.

A tale of two meetings...continued

Last week I pointed out the marked difference between how many people are attending National's campaign meetings compared to the Internet Mana party's and thought a follow-up on how things are going is in order. Unfortunately for National thing's aren't going so well.

I find this puzzling because with John Key's party polling at around 50% and the Internet Mana party on 3%, you would expect attendance at party events to somewhat reflect the polling. However that's not the case with numbers at the Internet Mana party's events far outnumbering anything National has to date been able to muster.

On Thursday, the Internet Party tweeted:

Great to see lots of young people engaging. Here's a good photo of Kim Dotcom high fiving people in the crowd:

Now compare that youthful audience with the bald heads at the Hutt South campaign launch for Christopher Bishop in Petone last Wednesday:

Steven Joyce's delusions of grandeur caused the usually right wing journalist Patrick Gower to exclaim; "that's not big. Please stop the spin." Defensively the deluded Minister followed up his campaign of propaganda tweets with another photo trying to show that lots of people attended.

Perhaps 20 to 30 National supporters in attendance, which is pretty pathetic when you consider that the Prime Minister himself spoke in support of the tobacco lobbyist at his campaign launch.

Now check out the huge crowd at the Internet Mana party's Wellington event:

Good to see the Internet/Mana party mobilizing some decent on the ground support.

Four sackable offences

We all know the National party is riding high in the opinion polls at the moment with old Teflon John seemingly untouched by any number of scandals that have plagued the government over the last six years. Much of this apparent success with voters is due to the fact that the polling itself is flawed and like our mainstream media, is biased in favour of the right wing. But that can only go so far in explaining why National remains the largest political party in New Zealand.

The media ignoring the important issues in favour of personality politics and trivial sideshows doesn't really explain it either, because when you look at the statistical evidence for whether National's governance has been a success or not; no logical reason for their continued support exists. In fact most indicators show the country is going backwards since Key took over, with increased debt, more poverty, homelessness and third world diseases just to name a few of the more pertinent aspects of where the National led government is completely failing in its economic and social obligations.

Another area where National is failing miserably is in how it manages its numerous scandals, mismanagement that has a lot to do with the Prime Ministers lack of honesty. In many regards it's not the initial controversy that's the main problem, it's the lies in order to cover-up and unfortunately the list of Key's mendacities is extensive and often warrants much more scrutiny than the mainstream media is willing to provide. So let’s narrow his excuses down to four offences over the last week that in any other government would have warranted the immediate dismissal of the offending MP's.

1. Claudette Hauiti abuses her parliamentary charge card for an undisclosed sum of money.

On Thursday, Radio NZ reported:

PM under pressure over Hauiti

The Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure to disclose how much taxpayers' money errant list MP Claudette Hauiti misspent, but John Key says he does not know.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says Mr Key must know, and the money involved is much greater than the $200 that has been made public.

Claudette Hauiti has announced she will not stand for re-election on 20 September, after she was forced to admit she had misused her parliamentary credit card on a trip to Australia.

2. Gerry Brownlee abuses his position of power and barges through airport security.

On Thursday, Stuff reported:

Brownlee offers to resign over airport drama

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's office has confirmed an investigation is under way into today's airport security breach.

Brownlee has denied barging past airport security, in an incident he has offered his resignation over.

3. Chester Borrows is caught speeding like a Prime Ministerial motorcade.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Courts Minister Chester Borrows admits he is embarrassed after being fined $80 for speeding.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows admits he is embarrassed after being fined $80 for speeding. 
But the former police officer says he paid the fine promptly and has sworn to keep a better eye on the speedo in future.

Mr Borrows confirmed he was stopped by police doing 11km/h over the speed limit in a 100km/h area outside Patea while he was on his way to Wanganui for a meeting. He was running late and had not kept an eye on his speedo while going down a hill.

4. Jonathan Coleman lied about when he was informed of the FBI's interest in Dotcom.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Coleman knew of FBI interest in Dotcom pre-residency decision 
It emerged last week Dotcom was given residency in 2010 despite the SIS urging Immigration NZ to tell their minister the FBI was carrying out a criminal investigation into him and wanted the help of NZ Police.

Dr Coleman was briefed by Immigration NZ chief executive Nigel Bickle on October 28, the day before Dotcom was granted residency.

Dr Coleman distanced himself from the decision, saying it was made by officials. He said: "Ministers had absolutely no knowledge of any pending FBI-NZ Police investigation."

Immigration NZ has now issued a statement saying Dr Coleman was told before Dotcom got residency.

An Immigration NZ spokesman said "the general information about the FBI was passed to Mr Bickle who then passed it to the minister".

I can’t wait for the polls to tell us that the public approves of these four sackable offences.

25 Jul 2014

Aunty Helen copped it so why not Borrows?

We've all heard the claims before, that the media in New Zealand is biased in favour of the right wing. There are numerous arguments for and against this assertion and to be fair, it's not OK to tar every journalist with the same brush.

However there's no question that issues that make the current government look bad are given far less precedence in the media as stories that besmirch the Labour party. Let's take one recent example that had such a small amount of media coverage that you might not even be aware of it...

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Courts Minister admits red face over speeding ticket and $80 fine

Courts Minister Chester Borrows admits he is embarrassed after being fined $80 for speeding.

But the former police officer says he paid the fine promptly and has sworn to keep a better eye on the speedo in future.

Mr Borrows confirmed he was stopped by police doing 11km/h over the speed limit in a 100km/h area outside Patea while he was on his way to Wanganui for a meeting. He was running late and had not kept an eye on his speedo while going down a hill.

Of course the right wing propagandists have completely ignored this story because Chester Borrows is in with the old boys club. Unfortunately the mainstream media have all but ignored the story as well. That wasn't the case when Helen Clark's motorcade was reportedly speeding through South Canterbury and she wasn't even driving.

So on one hand we have a Labour leader who was probably not even aware that the motorcade was speeding and on the other we have a National Minister who was actually driving the car that was speeding. The media response to Helen Clark was to insinuate that she had instructed her motorcade drivers to speed. They critically and extensively reported on the incident for at least three months, exploring every nuance and development. In contrast the media’s response to Chester Borrows being caught personally speeding is pretty much non-existent, with the biased Herald article clearly taking the National Minister's side. It’s more of an apology piece for Chester Borrows, without any real criticism or balance.

We can see numerous similar examples of media bias such as the reporting on the Donghua liu letter and the leader's taking a holiday. David Cunliffe was pilloried extensively in the media for taking a three day holiday and not recalling that he signed a ten-year-old letter, one of thousands of form letters he signs on a regular basis. Some right wing media hacks even requested that he resign over such an obviously trivial matter, an issue that was blown out of all proportion by journalists who clearly have an ulterior motive. Compare that with Key actually being caught out lying about signing off on the new ministerial BMW deal, and you can clearly see where the majority of the fourth estate’s loyalties lie.

I could go on and on providing examples of just how skewed the mainstream media is with their biased reporting, but the moral of the story is that without balanced journalism in New Zealand we cannot hope to have a fair fight in the run-up to the September election...we cannot therefore keep pretending to have an fair and functioning democracy.

24 Jul 2014

No time. No manners. No respect.

Hosking votes National

It never ceases to amaze me just how arrogant and/or deluded the right wing media are here in New Zealand. Not only did we have TVNZ trying to portray Cameron Slater, a blogger known for his hate speech, as some sort of good guy on Seven Sharp last Thursday, now we also have TVNZ claiming that Mike Hosking is impartial enough to host a bloody leaders debate.

TVNZ's obviously prejudiced decision hasn't gone down well with Labour or their supporters and quite rightly so. In my opinion there should be a fair fight, something that just won't happen with Hosking in charge of proceedings.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Cunliffe may boycott leaders' debate over Hosking

Labour leader David Cunliffe is refusing to rule out withdrawing from TVNZ's election debate if it insists on having presenter Mike Hosking as the moderator and has also questioned Prime Minister John Key appearing alongside All Blacks on the Rugby News cover.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed this morning that his office had raised concerns about the choice of Mr Hosking for the one on one debate between Mr Cunliffe and National leader John Key because of Mr Hosking's pro-National views.

"Concerns were raised by my staff when it became apparent Mr Hosking had introduced Mr Key at his 2013 State of the Nation speech and appeared to warmly endorse him. We are in discussion with TVNZ about that and other matters."

With TVNZ trying to foist an obviously biased host onto Labour leader David Cunliffe in order to give John Key a better chance of winning the debates, they're clearly showing their true blue colours. But if that wasn't bad enough, TVNZ also wants Labour staff to waste time gathering information to show Hosking isn't an appropriate host.

His staff were preparing a dossier on statements made by Mr Hosking that were of concern because TVNZ had asked for evidence of the concerns Labour had raised.

Unbelievable! As if the right wing propagandist's love affair for John Key wasn't obvious enough already. It's not only that Hosking never says anything critical against the current government, it's that he openly hates anything remotely left wing including Labour leader David Cunliffe.

In my opinion, Mike Hosking should be given the boot for his numerous baseless and often sexist rants against the left wing that not only make him look like a fool, they also ensure that the media organisation's he works for come across as biased as well. What other explanation is there to TVNZ even proposing such a ludicrous thing?

Internet Mana party highlights

The Internet Mana party road-trip has been putting to shame National's badly attended meetings by packing halls around the country. Not only is the party party getting people who don't usually engage in politics to participate, the ground swell of support for the amalgamation of Internet and Mana is something to be seen to be believed.

Here are a few of the highlights from the recent Te Tai Tokerau meeting:

Claudette Hauiti is a thief

When Claudette Hauiti was appointed an MP just over a year ago, on the back of Aaron Gilmore having to quit because he abused his position, many people were happy to see a person who has a lot of attributes National is missing take his place. Not only is Hauiti obviously a woman, she's also gay and Maori. This made many on the left hopeful that the government was becoming more progressive.

Unfortunately the new MP soon proved to be nothing more than just another capitalist con-artist who was only in government to line her own pockets. Not only is Claudette Hauiti corrupt, she wasn't smart enough to keep her abuse of the parliamentary charge card, which is funded by us taxpayers, under wraps. But if that wasn't bad enough, the Prime Minister is refusing to say exactly how much Hauiti stole, which makes a mockery of John Key's claim that he would be transparent about MPs' spending.

Yesterday (updated today), Radio NZ reported:

PM under pressure over Hauiti

Mr Peters said on Wednesday the matter is more serious than has been made public so far, and that Mr Key knows more than he says.

But the Prime Minister says he does not, and rejects suggestions that Ms Hauiti is getting away with it. He told reporters he has not asked how much money is involved.

"That's actually not a matter for me. That's a matter for Parliamentary Services and her. She made it quite [clear] to me that she was standing down from Parliament and that was on the back of the advice she'd had from the party, which took a pretty dim view to her making a mistake."

The problem for Key is that the public has a right to know the exact amount Claudette Hauiti stole off us, the taxpayer. In not providing that information, he's not only going back on his word, he's in fact protecting a thief and a liar! Nobody believes that Hauiti only spent $200 on a return trip to Australia.

The only reason Key won't tell us the exact amount stolen is because Hauiti's abuse of the parliamentary charge card will be extensive. It's likely to have started as soon as she got her hands on the card as well, which will cause even more uncomforted for the PM when questioned about why it took so long for them to put an end to Hauiti's criminal activity.

What we do know is that Hauiti's sense of entitlement caused her to abuse her position of power by running up huge bills at the taxpayer’s expense.

Parliamentary records show the MP spent about $22,000 on travel and accommodation from January to March this year. That's about $8000 more than other National Party list MPs based in Auckland.

On top of Hauiti buying herself a celebrity lifestyle at our expense, the disgraced National MP will keep her salary of nearly $150,000 as well as over $16,000 a year in expenses. You can be sure as death and taxes that she won't be working for her constituency while she's in the dog box either. Instead, Hauiti will have her snout in the trough for another three months after the election on full pay, which makes a mockery of Key's claim that he will hold National MP's to a higher standard.

Claudette Hauiti is a thief and should be treated as such. In my opinion she should be charged and prosecuted by the police. By trying to protect a thief, John Key runs the risk of this controversy eating into his baby kissing propaganda campaign to get reelected. He runs the risk of losing votes because most New Zealanders don't like to be ripped off by politicians.

John Key needs to front up and come clean on just how much Claudette Hauiti has stolen. If he truly doesn’t know, which is highly doubtful, then he bloody well should find out…because without accountability and honesty from those currently in power, we may as well vote for a change in government.

23 Jul 2014

The MH17 blame game

No matter who's side you're on, it's a terrible day when innocent lives are lost in another countries conflict. As questions still need to be answered as to why exactly flight MH17 was flying in controlled airspace in the first place, many headlines were reporting that Russia supplied the missile system that shot down the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, claiming nearly 300 lives.

On Monday, the United States claimed to have robust evidence of Russian involvement, with The Week reporting:

The US secretary of state John Kerry has said that the US has "overwhelming evidence" that Russia played a role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

In a series of interviews on Sunday, Kerry said that Russia must take responsibility for actions that led to the suspected shooting down of the Boeing 777 on Thursday.

However, John Kerry's "overwhelming evidence" appears to be flawed if it exists at all. Today, RT reported:

US intelligence: No link to Russia in Malaysia plane downing 
Unnamed US officials are telling Associated Press that their intelligence suggests Malaysia plane shot down by separatist, no link to Russia found.

Officials believe that the passenger aircraft was intercepted by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile, which was fired by Ukrainian militia members. One official said the likeliest explanation was the aircraft was shot down in error, an assertion that seem to be bolstered by the previous downing of 12 Ukrainian military aircraft by militants in the region.

Intelligence suggests that, although the US maintains that Russia "created the conditions" that led to the incident, officials were not aware of the presence of any Russians during the missile launch, and would not confirm that the missile crew was trained in Russia.

The mainstream media has been extensively reporting on a BUK missile system that was reportedly returning into Russian territory with a missing missile after the incident. So-called journalists were all but demanding that America and its allies attack Russia over this "evidence" that they claimed was irrefutable proof of Putin's involvement. However, new information now suggests that such evidence is nothing more than a beat up:

Officials noted that their inquiry relied partly on social media postings, citing specifically video of a missile launcher purported to be a Buk system battery crossing into Russian territory, and appearing to be missing a missile. Following questions, intel officials admitted they had not verified the video’s origin or content.

Clearly the missile system in the video could have been traveling anywhere at any time and has simply been used to try and pin the blame on Russia.

Unfortunately anti-Putin sentiment has taken over our western news services that, despite a lack of any clear evidence, are putting the blame entirely on Mother Russia. The United States is also using this disaster as an excuse to implement further economic sanctions against its old adversary, something that has annoyed Russia immensely.

However with new information coming to light concerning a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet that was detected in close proximity to flight MH17 before the crash, the evidence showing exactly who is to blame and what system was used to destroy the airliner is even more difficult to decipher.

All this is no consolation to the families who've lost loved ones. Their grief is caught up in and made all the worse because of an international blame game when all they and the world really want is answers.

The politicking of the situation isn't helping to solve the crime either. Neither are the limited resources available in the area where the plane went down. Whether by accident or intent, unfortunately the scene being contaminated and the black boxes only providing limited information, the exact culprits may never be found.

However the change in tune by US intelligence personnel suggests that the mainstream media's first assertions that it's all Russia's fault were entirely incorrect. Let's see if they'll come clean and provide all the information they and intelligence operatives have available on this terrible disaster that has claimed the lives of 298 innocent people.

22 Jul 2014

Green party statement on Gaza

Today, the Green party's Kennedy Graham made a heartfelt speech concerning the conflict in Gaza. He called for an immediate cease fire and requested that Israel withdraw it's military forces. The Green party MP also read out the names of children already killed in the Gaza conflict that looks set to escalate because of a lack of political pressure. The speech is well worth watching in its entirety:

John Key weak on Gaza

If you're not aware of the situation in Gaza whereby the Israelis are murdering innocent civilians, many of them women and children, then you bloody well should be. The Zionist's attacking Gaza is the biggest story going, with every news agency worth their salt reporting on the conflict.

It seems strange then that the Prime Minister of New Zealand hasn't been interviewed properly about the situation. Usually the media is falling all over themselves to get John Key's opinion on just about everything. So why hasn't any journalist asked the National party leader what he really thinks about the Gaza conflict?

When Amnesty International reported last week:

“Deliberately attacking a civilian home is a war crime, and the overwhelming scale of destruction of civilian homes, in some cases with entire families inside them, points to a distressing pattern of repeated violations of the laws of war,” said Philip Luther.

The Israeli authorities have not provided information on specific cases to justify such attacks. Unless they can do so, any such attacks constitute war crimes and amount to collective punishment.

John Key can be excused for not saying anything about the carnage in Gaza because he was still on holiday in Hawaii with his family.

On Sunday, 3 News reported:

Prime Minister John Key says the situation in the Middle East is very complex and requires a diplomatic solution.

Reprisal killings and the significant military action by Israel in Gaza are leading to a further escalation of the situation and further entrenchment of positions, Mr Key says.
"I think that's a very unhealthy situation," he told reporters today.

The government was concerned about the situation, he said.

"There are a multitude of very complex relationships in the Middle East, and I think in the end the only way through is a diplomatic solution," he said.

"We have to get back around the negotiating table."

Doesn't Key seem overly relaxed about the situation? Perhaps he didn't realise that the Israelis had dismissed any and all requests to negotiate a ceasefire.

At least he said something though, unlike when the United Nations reported yesterday:

The Security Council on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Doha, the first leg of a Middle East tour which aims to end the conflict.

Following a late-night closed-door meeting, Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana of Rwanda, which holds the Security Council's rotating presidency for July, told reporters that the Council had a “sober” meeting given the seriousness of the situation.

In elements to the press, Mr. Gasana said the members of the Council called for an immediate ceasefire and respect of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

...Key basically went into hiding. While other countries are starting to respond appropriately, the National led government is failing.

Today, the Daily Mail reported:

During a statement from David Cameron on the crisis, Mr Hain told the Prime Minister: "Surely friends of Israel like you and I have a duty at this time to speak the truth.

"These attacks, despite the horrendous rocket assault on Israel, despite that, and the extremism of Hamas, these attacks are not proportionate - in any other conflict they would be described as war crimes.

"That is the truth.

"And the problem also is there is no end in sight to this.

Clearly other politicians recognize the serious situation for what it is, ethnic cleansing.

Also today, One News reported:

The Prime Minister says New Zealand is deeply concerned about what is taking place in the Gaza Strip.

John Key says he's particularly concerned about the recent escalation in deadly violence.

What a weak excuse for a Prime Minister.

Despite there being clear evidence that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza, John Key has not spoken out against the perpetrators, the Israelis.

Perhaps that's because he's determined to protect Israel. After all he re-opened their embassy here in Gods own. He also helped cover-up the Mossad spies who were found to be operating in Christchurch, one of whom was killed in the earthquakes.

So where do his loyalties lie exactly and will a reporter dare to ask?

21 Jul 2014

National supports rape culture

You might recall the ACT on Campus Auckland vice-president Cameron Wayne Browne telling a lady he was debating on Facebook to go “get raped." That's just one example of how many on the right wing view rape culture, that it's something to be used to try and win a debate and that it doesn't really matter.

In fact some right-winger's don't even think rape culture exists in New Zealand at all. That's the implication one gets after reading a post by Cameron Slater where he tries to entirely lay blame on Tania Billingsley, a young woman who was allegedly attacked by a Malaysian diplomat.

Now, dear readers, what are the odds of a Malasian diplomat deciding to follow Tania home from a bus stop, apparently at random?  What are the odds of him picking a woman that is befriended with and herself involved in women’s issues going back many years?  What are the odds of him randomly standing there not touching her, then, backing off and waiting for police to arrive out in the street?  What are the odds of Green MP Jan Logie getting involved, erm, randomly?  What are the odds of a situation that has NONE of the hallmarks of an attempted rape, being shopped by TV3 as attempted rape and the label “Rape culture” being used to intimidate and shut up critics like ourselves lest we look insensitive to (real!) rape victims?

Despite a complete lack of any evidence the deluded Cameron Slater is clearly trying to say the Malaysian diplomat was somehow set up by the Greens. What a complete moron! John Key's number one propagandist is basically trying to reduce the backlash against the government for the mishandling of the case.

Instead of fronting up Murray McCully and the Prime Minister tried to cover-up and dismiss people's concerns. They then set about placing blame on their minions for the blunder knowing full well that they weren't allowed to speak up for themselves.

Unfortunately the government often tries to sidestep their responsibilities whenever problems occur. That was the case when the story broke about a group of young men who were bragging online about intoxicating and then raping underage girls. It was also revealed that the Police weren't prosecuting these rapists because one of the perpetrators was a high profile police officers son.

These sorts of occurrences should be ringing alarm bells’ in voter’s ears. We clearly have a serious problem of rape culture in New Zealand, a culture that the government is doing nothing about and in many respects is making a lot worse.

I've only highlighted but a few of the serious cases of rape culture that the right wing has been directly involved in, tried to minimize, dismissed outright or been complicit in trying to cover-up. These aren't just random events either, because the share amount shows that a theme has developed, a dysfunctional dynamic within the current administration that in fact enables rape to occur.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported on another case:

Rape culture protects predators

Parliament's suppression laws and MPs' silence sanction our rape culture, writes Rodney Hide

My eyes were opened after my column last week. I had called on National MP Maggie Barry to use Parliamentary privilege to break the suppression order protecting a "prominent" New Zealander. The police had charged him with "indecent assault" but the sex predator pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of "indecent act with intent to insult or offend".

"Indecent assault" is a strike offence; it's a serious charge.

Judge David Saunders discharged the sex attacker without conviction and gave him name suppression. We can't report who he is. By way of explanation, the judge said the predator had "carried a bit of a cross" since the charges were laid.

Being that this person might commit another attack, I think it's important that the public know who the former National MP is. Clearly the current system is enabling criminals like him to reoffend, because the consequences if you’re part of the old boys club are few and far between.

Another thing that’s supporting rape culture in New Zealand is our biased media. These days many journalists only seem concerned with scoring cheap political points that aren't doing our society or democracy any favours at all. What else can one conclude after reading this?

After my column, various low-level political operatives asked me who it was. It was tittle-tattle for them, I thought, but then I realised they were checking whether the predator was on their team. They expressed no concern for the victim and no outrage.

Through the week, our "prominent" New Zealander's media mates rang journalists to minimise his offending. The spin was that the judge didn't believe the woman and, sure, their mate had made a forceful pass, as he does, but not an assault. Yeah, right.

These are the enablers. They defend, minimise and excuse sex crimes. And no doubt Harris had a legion of them. They disgust me every bit as much as the predator. Those in power, those in the media and other "prominent" New Zealanders all know who the offender is. They know to be wary. Just like those who knew Harris as the "octopus".

I guess his time away from parliament has cleared Rodney Hides’ thought processes somewhat, because I cannot help but agree with pretty much everything he's saying in this latest column.

Voting for the current dysfunctional National led government is clearly not in the best interests of women, or anybody for that matter who's concerned about rape culture.

20 Jul 2014

Dotcom's explosive evidence

It doesn't matter if you love or hate the Internet entrepreneur Kim Schmitz, you've still got to admire his ability to gain media attention and win some very high profile court battles against the government.

Not only can we thank the German-Finnish businessman for sticking to his guns and taking out the corrupt John Banks, who had to resign after being found guilty for filing a false electoral return, the former hacker now known as Kim Dotcom looks set to take out one of the left's most formidable foes, John Key.

Last Wednesday, the NZ Herald reported:

Dotcom promises election eve political bombshell

Mogul claims residency checks set aside to lure him within FBI’s reach but government denies interference.

Kim Dotcom has announced he plans to drop a political bombshell five days before the general election which he says will prove the Prime Minister has been lying about when he first knew about the German internet tycoon.

Dotcom made the announcement yesterday to 3News on the first day of the internet Mana party's road trip campaign.

"On September 15, I'm doing a Town Hall event in Auckland and I invite everyone to come there because that is going to be the day when I'm going to reveal my evidence around the political interference and my evidence that John Key lied," Dotcom said.

Reaction to this announcement has been rather mixed, with many arguing that Dotcom should release the information now. Assuming that the evidence that John Key lied is robust, I think Dotcom showing his hand now would be a mistake, being that many voters only make up their minds a few days out from an election.

If you're wondering why Dotcom is keeping his powder dry, look at what the teapot tapes scandal did for NZ First. It was the leaking of what Key and Banks talked about that gained a serious amount of attention and subsequent votes to ensure Winston's return. After that well timed release of information, NZ First experienced a resurgence in support to secure eight seats in Parliament.

Some have argued that having the information release timed in this way is manipulative, but it's really no different to what other parties do on a regular basis. Dotcom is simply gaining further media attention by indicating that he has the evidence. In my opinion there's really no reason to criticize this type of politicking or not believe him.

Other commentators have said that the release of information just five days out from an election won't give them enough time to properly analyse it. This is a pretty silly claim, being that any competent political analysis should only require a day or two to work through the details.

It might take the government propagandist's a bit longer to develop a counter story, but that would only be the case if they didn't already know what the evidence was. It's likely that they do and already have John Key's script ready and waiting to go.

Unfortunately much of the recent commentary against Dotcom doesn't seem to be based on the actual issues being raised. Instead it appears to be about diverting from those issues, undermining a rival party and dare I say it; jealousy because Dotcom is richer than they are.

The other implication is that many politicians are feeling unhappy about being outmaneuvered by a larger than life German and don't know how else to react apart from going on the attack. That's only going to play into the multi-millionaires hands and increase support for the Internet/Mana party alliance.

Whether you love or hate Kim Dotcom, the party he supports looks set to be a force to be reckoned with after the September 2014 election.

19 Jul 2014

Reaction to Greens Clean rivers policy

The Green party has managed to gain a fair amount of traction in the media with the announcement of their Clean rivers policy (PDF), which looks set to be a clear winner compared to other party policy on water quality management.

Unfortunately the ideological divide between those for and against cleaning up New Zealand's waterways is enormous with very little common ground between the two opposing teams. It's little wonder then that the articles about the issue are at polar opposites as well.

Last Sunday, the Green party website reported:

Green Party launches key election priority, rivers clean enough for swimming

The key policy points in the Green Party's plan for clean rivers are:

1. Establish a protected rivers network

The Green Party will establish a protected rivers network to permanently safeguard our most precious rivers similar to the permanent protection given to national parks. The protected rivers network will stop the destruction of rivers from irrigation, dams and pollution, while retaining the full right of all New Zealanders to use the rivers for food gathering and recreation. Iwi and hapu will be involved in the protection plan process at each step, in recognition of their kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga.

2. Set robust standards that ensure rivers are clean enough for swimming

The Green Party will overhaul and strengthen National's weak National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, implement a strong National Environmental Standard for water quality and implement a National Environmental Standard for water flows in rivers, all of which will be geared to make our rivers clean and healthy enough for swimming.

3. Keep our wild rivers wild by not building any new dams on them

"All of our rivers and lakes should be clean enough to swim in," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

"The Green Party has a vision for New Zealand where families can head down to their local swimming hole or beach and jump right in the water without worrying about getting sick. That is why the Green Party's top environmental election priority is to make New Zealand rivers and beaches clean enough for swimming.

Although the Green's are definitely selling it with a large amount of the feel good factor, I cannot really fault this policy. In fact if the government were interested in doing the right thing, they would likely implement a similar policy to the one the Green's are proposing.

The only other option to ensuring people don't get sick from swimming in polluted waterways would be to erect thousands of 'No Swimming' signs throughout New Zealand. If National were honest they would also put a disclaimer saying 'because of farm run-off' on the signs as well.

Sadly many on the right wing of the political spectrum have a hard time even acknowledging the problem exists. Invariably their response to the Greens' Clean rivers policy has been anything but honest.

A good example of this was National MP Amy Adams' angry response that was full of inaccuracies:

Greens continue to twist facts in pursuit of their anti-jobs agenda

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the Greens announcement today is just the latest step in their anti-jobs, anti-growth, stop everything manifesto.

I'm going to stop Amy Adams right there. The Greens' policy is clearly not anti-jobs. In fact two of the requirements to cleaning up our waterways are very labour intensive. Riparian planting and fencing off waterways to an adequate degree would employ many thousands of people, which makes Amy Adams' claim that the Clean rivers policy is anti-jobs entirely wrong!

The only real question is who will pay for such endeavours. My first instinct is to say the farmers should pay. However many farms are struggling because of debt. Being that they are such an integral part of our economy, the last thing we want is for farms to have to close because of prohibitive legislation. When a farm cannot afford to undertake to riparian plant and fence off waterways a policy incentive needs to be devised to pass the cost onto the banks.

The other issue here is just how intensive should farming be allowed to get? I would personally say that we're at saturation point already and no new stock should be added. It could be that some farms will need to sell a few cows when they can no longer graze next to waterways with a subsequent loss of farmhands, but this will be very insignificant compared to the overall employment gains attained.

“Improving the quality of our freshwater is important to us all but the Greens approach is costly and impractical.  Approaching improvement through blanket bans and requirements for every drainage ditch across New Zealand to be maintained at a swimming pool standard just shows that the Greens have once again confirmed they are the anti-growth Party, by pursuing polices that would hurt households and damage the creation of new jobs across regional New Zealand for little real gain,” Ms Adams says.

I'm going to stop Amy Adam's again. The Greens aren't proposing that every drainage ditch is maintained at swimming pool standards. Clearly they aren't saying that chlorine should be added for one thing. The policy is concerned with cleaning up our waterways, not drainage ditches that are required for a farm to be able to mitigate farm run-off. The National government needs to stop thinking that the rivers are drainage ditches; which is basically what Amy Adam's is doing.

“The Greens need to explain where they will find the billions of dollars of costs and lost revenue it could take to make every single centimetre of New Zealand’s 425,000 kilometres of rivers and streams suitable for swimming. They clearly haven't thought through the consequences.  Once more we see that they are happy to spend the taxes generated by productive New Zealand but they take every opportunity to impose more costs on households and the businesses who are at the heart of our economy.

It would be good if the Green's did provide a budget for the Clean rivers policy. However one area where they've already explained where additional money will come from is by adding value to dairy products. New Zealand is simply too far away from many of our markets to be shipping bulk items all the time. Diversifying the product line will not only put us in a better position to compete, it will ensure the dairy industry sees growth in a more competitive market.

This isn't just about making money though; it’s also about protecting the assets we already have in New Zealand. Along with our degrading water quality, unfortunately our tourism sector has seen some decline in recent years. Ensuring our clean and green 100% pure image is protected will require more than just lip service from the current government Minister's.

“The Government’s approach to raising freshwater standards is much more pragmatic. Our clear, robust national standards for rivers and lakes will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

Actually the government's national standards will do little to nothing to ensure cleaner waterways. They amount to nothing really changing with the standards only requiring that rivers have to be clean enough for wading or boating. That's not the New Zealand we should be aspiring to become again.

“Rather than stopping water use, National’s plan is about ensuring it is used responsibly in a way that provides for the needs of our people now, and into the future.”

Oh dear! Amy Adam’s provides a whopping lie to finish her inaccurate and rather deluded article off with. Clearly the Green's are proposing to "stop all water use". It's difficult to see these two sides meeting on common ground being that National is making all sorts of false claims.

Despite the so-called Environment Minister's manic attack on the Green's, many right wing blogs have chosen not to back up Amy Adams' assertions. But what is perhaps even more telling is that only a week earlier, the often right wing Gareth Morgan had utterly slammed National's pathetic water quality policy, writing:

National Minister Muddying the Waters

The Government’s recently announced approach to fresh water is indeed a step forward and Ministers are to be congratulated for that. But don’t be fooled by Environment Minister Amy Adam’s effusion – we still don’t have a water management policy that will stop New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and estuaries deteriorating further, and we certainly don’t have a policy that will deliver swimmable water.

It's well worth reading the rest of Morgan's analysis to see exactly why the government's "plan" to improve water quality will do nothing of the sort.

To give this post some balance, here's another negative response by Irrigation New Zealand to the Greens' Clean rivers policy announcement.

On Sunday, One News reported:

Greens' water policy "unrealistic, prohibitively expensive"

The policy was unveiled next to the Waikato river which was churned full of muddy water as a result of heavy rain.

The party says its three point policy - to be rolled out over the course of their election campaign - would see protection plans put in place for rivers, water quality improved and the construction of any new dams stopped.

But Irrigation New Zealand (IRZ) does not agree that dams and irrigation destroy rivers or add to pollution if they are designed and constructed properly.

"The reality is that New Zealand needs large scale water storage. This is essential for town and city drinking water supplies, as well as to produce fresh food," says Andrew Curtis, chief executive of INZ.

"Without water storage we would have to explore other expensive options to cope with future population growth. These might include implementing intense food price hikes; importing foreign fresh produce and building desalination plants.

"The reality is that it is unrealistic and prohibitively expensive to have swimmable rivers everywhere - particularly in towns and cities where water quality is by far the worst," Mr Curtis said.

The problem for Irrigation New Zealand is that most irrigation systems aren't designed properly and that's why there is such a large amount of run-off into waterways. There is no doubt that the systems farmer's employ can be improved greatly.

One News also reported on a Breakfast program interview with Russel Norman:

Russel Norman: It's difficult to know water policy cost

When asked multiple times on TV ONE's Breakfast programme today about how much the party's plan will cost and where the money will come from to fund it, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman would not say.


When told that the party would have to crunch the figures eventually, Mr Norman said: "It's very difficult for the Government to estimate the cost because it's a very large issue, likewise it's difficult for us. We don't have the resources the Government has to estimate."

The problem here for the Green's is that pretty much any costing will be attacked as unaffordable. To provide an estimate now would simply give the government and those who want to keep the status quo ammunition to say that cleaning up our waterways is unaffordable and therefore unachievable.

However one would need to factor in the lost revenue from other industry that relies on clean water. That's where the Greens' policy wins hands down on the economic front, because with both sides of the ledger being accounted for keeping our water polluted just doesn't stack up.

On Monday, the Irrigation New Zealand press release was also reported by Scoop:

Green’s Water Policy Unrealistic

INZ agrees with the Green’s proposed collaborative approach to setting water policy, but INZ says that New Zealand must realise the complexity of its water issues.

“The government’s NPS is actually one of the toughest pieces of environmental legislation anywhere in the developed world and people need to understand the legislation in detail,” says Mr Curtis.

“The NPS policy states that river water quality in New Zealand cannot get worse and it provides a minimum level for rivers in a poor state to reach.

“The reality is that it is unrealistic and prohibitively expensive to have swimmable rivers everywhere – particularly in towns and cities where water quality is by far the worst.”

However, these sentiments weren't shared by one of New Zealand's most respected scientists, Mike Joy, with the Manawatu Standard reporting:

Joy embraces Greens' water plans

Professor Mike Joy has welcomed the Green Party's plan to make all of New Zealand's rivers and lakes safe to swim in.

The party announced the move yesterday, calling it its No 1 environmental policy for the election campaign.

Joy, a freshwater ecologist at Massey University, called the approach "really sensible".

"I like the sound of it," he said. "They've obviously thought long and hard about it."

Joy has long been outspoken about the state of New Zealand's freshwater habitats and the approach politicians have taken to the issue. He said the Green Party's announcement went a long way beyond what the Government was promising through the recently approved national policy statement on freshwater.

Of course the farmers had to put their two cents in as well:

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Ian McKenzie said the one-size-fits-all approach the Greens had taken would be unable to be implemented nationally because of the cost, he said.

"This Green Party policy intent shows a lack of integrity. It cannot be implemented fairly without a huge cost to society and will likely only end up being implemented in rural areas instead of all waterways."

That's amusing, being that the Green's haven't yet provided any costing's for them to be attacked as being prohibitive. Obviously the policy will be unfair to those who are polluting more, which is exactly as it should be. McKenzie's other assumptions simply aren't worth responding to.

Also on Monday, No Right Turn reported:

Election 2014: A clear choice on clean rivers

National is already attacking the policy as "irresponsible", "costly", and "impractical". I'd say the same about theirs. Dirty rivers cost us money. There's the obvious threats to tourism and to the dairy industry itself, both of which are marketed on our national reputation as "100% pure". But beyond that, we're also paying directly in pollution subsidies and decontamination and health costs, and indirectly in forgone recreation and industrial opportunities. These are real costs, and they should not be ignored. But the only side of the balance sheet National sees is the one which benefits their donors and cronies in Federated Farmers. To them, environmental costs just don't exist.

Nobody seemed to be very interested in cleaning up our waterways on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Green MP Eugenie Sage reported on a new development:

Government drops recreational river reporting

The Environment Minister's answers to parliamentary questions from the Green Party have since confirmed the Government is dropping its annual reporting on how many monitored river swimming sites are safe for swimming. Last year 61 percent of monitored recreational sites on rivers were not clean enough to swim in.

"New Zealanders want clean rivers that they can swim in. National has thrown in the towel on ensuring rivers are clean and safe for swimming in. Now National is trying to cover up the state of our rivers by stopping these longstanding annual reports on the state of our rivers," Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

"Abandoning annual reports on recreational water quality and replacing these with general water quality reports every three years is seeking to hide the facts about the continuing decline in the state of our rivers.

Also on Wednesday, the Otago Daily Times waded into the water quality debate:

It is an unashamedly emotive policy delivery, designed to appeal to the hearts and minds of New Zealanders who, for generations, have enjoyed a variety of water-related recreational pursuits.

While the policy clearly tugs at the heartstrings, the statistics are nonetheless concerning.

The figures Dr Norman quotes are from the Ministry for the Environment, which found last year 61% of monitored rivers were so polluted they were unsafe for swimming.

Its 2012 report showed 52% of sites were unsafe.

A water quality report at the end of last year by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright painted a bleak picture, particularly in Canterbury and Southland, with accumulated phosphorus and excess nitrogen in waterways as a result of land use changes from forestry to sheep farming then dairying.

Dr Wright at the time acknowledged the importance of the farming sector, but said New Zealand faced a classic ''economy versus environment dilemma''.

If you're interested in cleaning up our waterways, these are all great articles to read in full. However Murray Rodgers on behalf of the Coalition for Clean Water wrote the most comprehensive article, with Stuff reporting yesterday:

Greens' policy on waterways worthy

At last we have a politician advocating a sensible policy on our aspirations for water in New Zealand. Russel Norman, co-leader of the Green Party, has said that the Greens' policy is to clean up our waterways to the extent that all rivers and streams are swimmable.

The objections have begun to flow from the rural leadership and government ministers, bemoaning the high cost of such a policy.

The more pertinent issue is the cost awaiting us as a nation if we don't do it.

Their positions reflect their short- term view of the world and ignorance of the critical importance to New Zealand of widening our economic base.

The argument is not simply between growth or no growth in the rural sector. It is between undisciplined growth and sustainable growth. To continue to seek economic growth that is unsustainable is not only incredibly short-sighted and selfish, it is just plain stupid.

I have to agree with Murray Rodgers here. New Zealand must move towards a sustainable future for all our industries. To not do this is simply crazy!

We need a comprehensive financial strategy linked into the delivery of sustainability targets to ensure farmer behaviours are adjusted across the region to the extent needed - zone by zone, catchment by catchment, farm by farm.

We need to define a tougher penalty structure that is rigorously applied so that it is clear in the minds of reluctant compliers what the costs of non- compliance are. The gentle approach of education and persuasion is doing part of the job but it is far too slow and incomplete for what is needed.

Clearly the softly does it approach to farmers that continue to pollute waterways isn't working. In fact the majority of farmers recently polled didn't even think water quality was a concern at all in New Zealand. That just goes to show that their awareness and environmentally destructive practices must be improved through a harsher penalty system.

Associated with this is the question of whether a levy should be imposed on volume water use to help fund such transition costs as well as restoration of past damage. The Water Rights Trust (WRT) has highlighted the need for such a levy for many years and, again, the issue has been sidelined.

There's one solution to who exactly will pay for our waterways to be cleaned up. But the more pressing concern is that they don't become polluted in the first place. Only the Greens' policy initiative looks set to address the real pressing issues concerned with water management. That's another good reason you should give them your party vote at the upcoming September election.