The Jackal: September 2017

20 Sept 2017

Bill English is incompetent

When John Key handed Bill English the poisoned chalice of a third term, it was pretty clear that the smiling assassin was getting out while the getting was good. After all, English had been largely left out of most of National’s major scandals over the last few years, unlike Key.

There are a few exceptions of course, like when English ripped off Parliamentary expenses by double dipping on his housing allowance.

But perhaps his biggest legacy is English often gifts government funding to unqualified businesses simply because they have ties to the National party. In fact favouritism for government contracts is one of the reasons National’s budgeting fails to reach surplus. English looks set to continue that corrupt practice by cutting funding to Lifeline, and instead gift a few million to an organisation his wife is running.

Reach further back into National's history, and we see a pro war MP arguing hard for New Zealand's tax haven status to be left alone. Begrudgingly the government has fiddled around the edges, while English continues his party's hopeless record on housing. Homeless Kiwis choose to be homeless, according to Bill.

English's argument against a review of the abortion law is similarly pathetic! And let’s not forget that he used his power of financial veto to kill Labour’s increase to paid parental leave... until the 2017 election race tightened and the National party conjured up the money to pay for their lolly scramble that is.

But perhaps the most egregious of English’s faults is that he believes children with disabilities should be segregated from other students in public schools. He also blames young unemployed Kiwis inability to pass drug tests as a reason why large numbers of overseas migrant workers are required. This is entirely untrue, and attests to the fact that National is happy for there to be 90,000 NEETs doing nothing in order to prop up our low waged economy. His refusal to even acknowledge exploited migrant workers is similarly repugnant!

More recently, English made good on his threat to people's retirement security by announcing an increase in the pension age.

And according to English, nobody knew Todd Barclay’s secret recording of a staffer's conversations could be illegal either. How incompetent would you need to be as a politician to not recall the teapot tape scandal? If anything, National’s obfuscation and lack of accountability over this and many other issues, by ignoring the Official Information Act, has become worse since a change in leadership.

The PM also claimed it was too hard to put a charge on water, while the National party secretly investigated ways to tax water. And despite all the evidence to the contrary, English still maintains that Steven Joyce’s imaginary fiscal hole is real. National's credibility looks shot to pieces after that fiasco.

Continuing on from their previous failure, English made further commitments this year to do nothing about mitigating climate change or reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. National even tried to hide an official report into the costly effects of climate change on New Zealand.

But if all that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that Bill English has also managed to cause, through his incompetence, the Auckland petrol crisis.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

PM's key infrastructure plan didn't include fuel pipeline to Auckland

The fuel pipeline ruptured by a digger was left out of a "national infrastructure plan" overseen by Prime Minister Bill English despite warnings its loss could "cripple" Auckland transport.

The latest version of the plan developed by Treasury was released in 2015 has no mention of the pipeline from the Marsden Point refinery at Ruakaka to Auckland's Wiri terminal.

The pipeline has been shown as a critical link because it is the only way jet fuel gets to Auckland Airport.

That’s the problem with a government that doesn’t do its job properly… critical infrastructure breaks down.

But the weakness in the fuel supply was clearly highlighted in 2009 when the National Party put Treasury to work fulfilling a campaign pledge that it would develop a National Infrastructure Plan when it first came to power.

English announced the plan as Minister of Finance in 2009, saying it would "plan and rank New Zealand's key infrastructure needs so that projects that provide the greatest economic benefit are prioritised".

But when the Northland Regional Council reviewed the preliminary list produced in 2009, it said "the council considers that the nationally significant issue of fuel supply is currently missing" from a Treasury briefing paper calling for submissions.

Incompetent Bill English and the National party are clearly unfit to be in charge of a country as great as Aotearoa. So let’s get out there and change the government.

19 Sept 2017

National has failed our health system

Along with a number of other worsening sectors in New Zealand, the public health system has become increasingly degraded under a National led government. The statistics clearly show a complete failure to meet growing demand for services, especially in peak winter conditions.

But it’s not just an underfunded health system that's causing harm. The housing crisis has worsened, whereby cold, damp and unhealthy houses are the norm for generation rent. This is causing a huge upswing in preventable diseases. National has also ensured that the cost of living has increased dramatically in proportion to poor people's incomes... again causing dire effects.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Number of New Zealand children hospitalised with malnutrition doubles as food costs bite

Malnutrition is putting twice as many kids in hospital compared with 10 years ago, as food prices continue to bite into household incomes.

Child hospitalisation data shows around 120 children a year now have overnight stays due to nutritional deficiencies and anaemia, compared to an average 60 a decade ago.

Doctors say poor nutrition is also a factor in a significant proportion of the rest of the 40,000 annual child hospitalisations linked to poverty - and that vitamin deficiencies are more common in New Zealand compared to similar countries.

There's no denying that National has systematically underfunded the public health system.

They've also caused poor people to not have enough money to feed their kids.

Clearly there’s a disproportionate amount of harm being caused to people trapped in poverty by uncaring politicians. Only a change in government will help to resolve these problems. So come on New Zealand, do your civic duty and vote the bastards out.

Collins and the swamp kauri petrol crisis

The ruptured fuel pipe that runs to Auckland Airport looks set to cause more chaos as fuel shortages start to impede people trying to fill up at the pump.

Already a number of international flights have been diverted or cancelled due to fuel shortages. Private jets are also reported to be avoiding New Zealand.

The cost to our reputation because of this crisis should not be underestimated.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Fuel runs out at petrol stations, more flights cancelled

Four Auckland service stations ran out of 95 octane petrol yesterday - and more could run out today - as thousands of air passengers again face a day of cancelled flights.

Z Energy said it would be able to replenish the fuel today and told motorists there was no cause for concern.

So who exactly is to blame for digging up an essential fuel line?

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

New swamp kauri claims over ruptured pipeline - they were 'digging around for a log'

Digging at the site of the critical fuel pipeline was identified as an "exploratory" search for swamp kauri the day before the rupture happened, according to an industry insider with stories of the extraordinary wealth attached to excavating the buried logs.

Northland's Milton Randell was driving past the site of the pipeline rupture near Ruakaka, just south of Whangarei, last Wednesday, saw the earthworks and believed he was seeing the signs of a swamp kauri hunt.

Randell has 40 years experience in digging swamp kauri out of the ground and would be one of the most experienced to have worked in the industry.

His immediate impulse was to think it was a swamp kauri site - the same detail the NZ Herald was provided by a source familiar with the response to the rupture of the nation's only fuel line to Auckland.

Surely a business the Minister of Energy and Resources is involved with isn't to blame? After all, Judith Collins had already denied any knowledge about who caused the leak.

On Monday, Stuff reported:

Paula Bennett and Judith Collins lament Auckland Airport jet fuel crisis

As to how much it would cost the Auckland economy, Collins said she couldn't say but it's a "big imposition" and that could cost millions and millions of dollars.

Collins said she didn't know who the company was who had the digger that would have caused this damage.

She said it could have happened months or even years ago and the insulation of the pipe was affected by the digging,  suggesting that the pipe could have corroded.

Nobody has yet said who the company at fault is exactly. In fact some journalists are acting like it’s not their job to find out.

Thankfully there are other means available to gain information.

Obviously the National led government isn't going to say who's at fault. Therefore the mainstream media need to do their jobs and get to the bottom of who exactly caused this multi million-dollar fuel shortage crisis. Because if they don’t it looks like more favouritism for the National party.

Winston Peters hijacks National's protest

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding a farmer’s protest in Morrinsville yesterday, a protest over Labour’s proposed levy of 1 to 2 cents per 1000 litres of water used for irrigation.

Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ in particular have been campaigning strongly for the National party this election, and trying to rally the rural troops against any water levy or pollution tax, often by pitting town against country.

You could tell Labour was a bit worried about what a protest of this nature could signify, because a similar protest in 2002 gained the nations attention and solidified many farmers against Helen Clark's government.

New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern even held a meeting in Hamilton to front foot the issue.

On Sunday, the NZ Herald reported:

Jacinda Ardern takes proactive stance on planned Waikato farmer protest

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has taken a pre-emptive strike against Waikato farmers planning a protest meeting tomorrow, saying Waikato rivers are among the worst polluted.

Ardern has been criticised for policies targeting the primary sector such as water charges to pay for river cleanups and bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Hamilton, Ardern was unrepentant, saying New Zealand had to ensure its environment was as clean and green as it claimed.

Back in the day when farmers could work their way into farm ownership, National MP Bill English campaigned for the agriculture sector by sitting on a tractor outside Parliament buildings and displaying a sign that read; ‘The mad cow shouldn’t have signed’.

The offensive message was in relation to Labour agreeing to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in hindsight and considering the devastation climate change is causing around the world, looks even more unbecoming today.

National's recent attempt to reignite their negative fart tax campaign is similarly repugnant. All it tells us is that English is pining for the past.

Fast forward to 2017 and the tractor Myrtle he posed on is still the centre of attention. But it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off National’s much vaunted Morrinsville protest.

The first signs of a malfunction occurred when farmers held up more signs clearly designed to cause offence. Verbal arguments ensued between National and NZ First supporters.

Then, after Bob Appleton drove Myrtle the tractor at a group of NZ First supporters, catching one on the foot, the unthinkable happened... Winston Peters grabbed the loud hailer and stole National’s fart tax thunder.

Some news agencies put the protest numbers at 500 to 600 people, most of them close to retirement. Others who attended said there were around 200 to 300 people, many of them NZ First supporters.

This is extraordinary being that the event received widespread advertisement on both our main broadcasting networks as well as a number of widely read publications.

The main reason National's protest failed to fire is because English overcooked the issue.

On Sunday, Scoop reported:

Q+A: Bill English

I mean, there is one answer – slaughter the dairy herd. I suppose that would help. Then next thing they’ll be talking about how to depopulate cities because they cause pollution. Well, that doesn’t make sense.

Because of his apocalyptic statement the Prime Minister continues to be the butt of many a fine joke. In fact he’s looking decidedly isolated because of National’s pro-pollution position.

One of the reasons for a low turnout at National’s protest is because the Labour party has always held rural communities and the industries that make them tick in high regard. It’s arguable that Labour under Helen Clark did more for farmers than the National party ever has, particularly in regards to tax reform and trade agreements.

English looks terribly foolish by trying to convince farmers that their businesses won't be viable if Jacinda Ardern and Labour win the election. Over-inflating the proposed levy and running negative attack adds about a fart tax simply doesn’t wash in a world where information on the actual numbers and Labour's policy is freely available online.

Who exactly is National trying to convince with such adverts anyway?

After nine long years of stagnation many rural communities will be looking for better environmental and economic solutions. In the last few days it’s become even more apparent that only a change of government will provide them.

18 Sept 2017

Corin Dann demolishes PM

The mainstream media in New Zealand often lets National get away with murder. Contrast for instance any number of their scandals over the 2017 election campaign with Helen Clark signing a painting for charity (paintergate), and you can see a clear and present bias within most of our media outlets.

That's why it's so extraordinary when an interviewer actually takes National to task over their numerous political faults.

When you put those shortcomings and a lack of vision up against a well-informed presenter it culminates in an interview yesterday on Q+A showing just how under pressure and out of touch Bill English really is.

In fact Corin Dann blew National's negative campaign strategy of scaremongering about tax out of the water with a number of cutting questions the PM struggled to answer.

If you haven't seen the interview already, it's well worth checking out:

English trying to defend his pig-headed finance Minister with an entirely lame argument meant he was an easy picking for Dann, who demolished the National party leader like he was a badly made toy. The PM's stress at being asked some hard questions was palpable.

Because of this excellent interview, Corin Dann is now trending on Twitter. Let's hope more journalists take note and turn up the heat on what is perhaps New Zealand's worst right wing government ever.

National deserves to lose the election

Unless you have been living under a rock, it's likely you've noticed that the National party has been plagued by controversy during this election campaign.

But even before it had begun properly, Bill English was dodging questions about his dishonesty over the Todd Barclay affair. Perhaps the most damaging part of the scandal was when National made up a false Police complaint about media harassment.

Additional information about questionable NZSAS operations in Afghanistan then came to light, and the National led government again refused to launch a public inquiry. This failure was soon followed up by a number of high-powered lawyers launching legal proceedings on behalf the families of murdered Afghan villagers.

Winston Peters then went on the warpath after his private pension details were leaked to certain media outlets. A cleared Ministry of Social Development and Internal Affairs means only someone from inside the National party could be the leaker.

A week after the mother of all scandals backfired, Steven Joyce started digging himself a hole when he accused Labour of having a $11.7 million mistake in their independently audited fiscal plan. This claim turned out to be entirely untrue and is one of the reasons National has declined in the polls.

Paula Bennett also tried her best to kneecap National’s leader by making an ill-conceived tough on crime announcement that English had to immediately backtrack on. The deputy PM then followed up with more incompetence by lying about Henderson High School having a drug and gang problem.

Then the revelation that Jian Yang taught Chinese military spies was badly defended by National and their propagandists with a number of dog whistles about racism. Many voters will be concerned with the security risk the National MP poses to New Zealand, which will likely mean more lost support for National.

But to add insult to injury National's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, was also recently caught out lying about MFAT's legal advice concerning an $11.5 million bribe paid to Saudi businessman, Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf. Clearly this is yet another excellent example amongst many of why the National party deserves to lose this election.

National's media pets turn blind eye

I was hoping that after Murray McCully's claim that he’d received legal advice from MFAT about a Saudi sheep deal gone wrong was proven entirely false, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Bill English, would be grilled by the media about what he knew and when he knew it.

Clearly the Minister of Foreign Affairs lied to the public, journalists and the House of Representatives by saying MFAT's legal team had advised the National led government to pay a huge bribe to a Saudi businessman in order to stop him suing New Zealand.

But what isn't so clear is who in National knew that McCully was lying?

On Friday, Radio NZ reported:

Saudi sheep deal: MFAT didn't provide legal advice on lawsuit risk

The admission that no legal advice on the lawsuit threat ever existed directly contradicts comments in 2015 by then-Foreign Minister Murray McCully that the ministry had taken advice on the issue.

The National government did an $11.5 million deal with Saudi businessman Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf after Cabinet was advised in February 2013 that the Al Khalaf Group was threatening to sue New Zealand for $20-$30m. Mr Al Khalaf had invested heavily in New Zealand and believed New Zealand's 2003 ban on live exports had left him misled and out of pocket.

The deal included using taxpayer funds to build Mr Al Khalaf a $6m agrihub farm in the Saudi desert, as well as flying in over 900 sheep and handing over $4m in cash.

Being that English was the Minister of Finance at the time and would have been involved in the $11.5 million payout to Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf, you would think journalists would be asking him some hard questions about McCully's fake legal advice?

Instead, they reported him playing with kittens. On the next day he played with a Weta.

The media should forget about the cute animal stories and instead be asking if English knew McCully was lying about the legal advice from MFAT and paid the bribe anyway?

Journalists should be grilling the PM over who exactly within the National party leaked Winston Peters’ pension details in order to conduct a smear campaign? They should be holding English’s feet to the flames over a potential breach in our national security.

Because if the media doesn't do their jobs, then the government will never realise there's consequences over and above the ones voters can impose at the ballot box.

16 Sept 2017

Graphs to help you vote

Here are a few interesting graphs that show how the various party policies stack up, how the National led government has performed over the last nine years and some that show how previous government's performed as well.

15 Sept 2017

McCully lied about $11.5 million Saudi bribe

Wouldn't it be nice to have government Minister's we could actually trust? Instead, a climate of disinformation has become the norm over the last nine long years of a National led government.

Journalists have had to fight tooth and nail to get at the truth. Even the Official Information Act has often proved ineffective against the unrepentant dishonesty many National party MPs practice on a daily basis.

Today, Radio NZ reported:

Saudi sheep deal: MFAT didn't provide legal advice on lawsuit risk

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not provide legal advice to the government on the risk of being sued by a disgruntled Saudi Arabian businessman, documents reveal.

The admission that no legal advice on the lawsuit threat ever existed directly contradicts comments in 2015 by then-Foreign Minister Murray McCully that the ministry had taken advice on the issue.

This means the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, blatantly lied to the House of Representatives when he claimed there was legal advice from MFAT about a threat that the government would be sued.

Here's the video showing McCully lying during question time.

So what's the real reason the dishonest McCully gave $11.5 million of taxpayer dollars to Saudi businessman Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf? Let’s hope it doesn’t take another two years to find out.

In the mean time there should be a proper inquiry into Murray McCully's dishonesty. Trying to mislead parliament and the public about why he was gifting $11.5 million to a foreign businessman clearly precludes him from further government work. Although just a symbolic gesture now that he isn't standing again, McCully should be sacked for his dishonesty.

But unfortunately the Prime Minister won’t do that, because Bill English doesn’t have a backbone to speak of.

Jonathan Coleman - Asshole of the Week

Jonathan Coleman is the most out of touch Minister currently in the National party. Not only did he blunder his way through the last budget, bungling the funding for DHB’s not once but twice, the ostrich with his head buried firmly in the sand is now shirking his Ministerial responsibilities.

Considering that there’s been a number of preventable deaths occur recently in our Hospitals, which have been linked to underfunding, this is entirely unacceptable. The Minister of Health must be available to provide the public with comment when things go wrong, especially when they go wrong because of government error.

Today, Rachel Smalley for the NZ Herald reported:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman's arrogant, out of touch

I asked Health Minister Jonathan Coleman to come on the programme this morning to respond to some of the failings of Waikato Hospital, if you tuned in yesterday, you would have heard an interview with the Waikato DHB.

The DHB was damning of the health minister and said Waikato Hospital had a funding shortfall to the tune of $32.5 million, and it was a life-threatening situation.

And the DHB described a culture of spin coming from the ministry and the minister, and said everyone was under pressure to talk positively about a situation that was anything but. That pressure, the DHB said, comes from the top.

The health sector is far too important to simply try and cover up what's going wrong.

Yesterday, another tragic story. A baby who died at Waikato after the mother's caesarean section was bumped. There was only one theatre and an acute case took priority. And on Tuesday, you may remember, Waikato Hospital was forced to again cancel all elective surgery.

And yet the minister won't talk about this. It's one week out from an election, health is polling as the single biggest issue for New Zealanders, and all Jonathan Coleman will say about Waikato is "the key thing is, the hospital is coping".

The hospital is coping? Hospitals are clearly not coping as is evident by the numerous reports about their failures. Most are at capacity and under pressure staff in some of our largest Hospitals are turning patients away.

Clearly hospitals aren’t coping because in real terms their budgets have been cut by the National led government. They can no longer provide people with the services required, which is causing real pain and suffering including some deaths.

Last Friday, Radio NZ reported:

Mother of alcoholic man failed by Canterbury DHB 'disgusted' by his care

The 47-year-old died of alcoholic liver disease two days after being discharged on the orders of a doctor who had concluded he was soiling himself on purpose.

In his report released yesterday, Coroner Michael Robb noted that nurses and security guards questioned the decision, saying Mr Jones was too ill and had nowhere to go.

After lying in the bus stop for several hours, Mr Jones was brought into the emergency department, but not assessed.

Police took him to the Christchurch City Mission, where he began vomiting blood.

He was then readmitted to hospital, where he died two days later.

The Canterbury DHB is also hurting from a $13 million funding shortfall.

But if that death wasn't bad enough, the Minister has also refused to provide proper comment on the preventable death of a baby at Waikato Hospital.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Waikato District Health Board members irate at learning of baby death in news

A Waikato District Health Board member wants to know why the board did not know about the death of a baby at Waikato Hospital until the Herald broke the story yesterday.

Dave Macpherson said the board was not advised of "this terrible case" which happened in September last year - not December as previously stated - and he was now concerned there would be other serious cases the board did not know about.

"Had we been informed that the reason the baby died was due to a lack of delivery suites, after the hospital 'bumped' the planned C-section to cater for an acute case, we would have had the chance to address this problem earlier," Macpherson said.

But why had the problem occurred in the first place?

Macpherson outlined several areas where this is happening in his DHB:

• The Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman and board chairman Bob Simcock claiming that Waikato DHB could deliver a "break-even" budget for the 2017-18 year, when it is facing a $32.5 million deficit.

• Several delays in producing a report into chief executive Dr Nigel Murray's work expenses where concerns were raised over unexplained spending. The board was told in mid-July a report would take two weeks, but Murray remains on leave two months later as the investigation continues.

Not only is underfunding causing some serious problems in our Hospital's that the Minister is intentionally ignoring, but there’s also a report about potential fraud being delayed. I wonder who would benefit from such a delay until after the election?

Attempting to cover things up and failing to front while Hospital’s are clearly not coping is a sure sign that the Minister isn't fit for duty.

Jonathan Coleman is an out of touch fossil that needs to be consigned to the history books. That’s why he wins this week’s Asshole Award. If his continued failure in the health sector isn’t a good enough reason to change the government, I don’t know what is.

Jian Yang must resign

When a story labelled the mother of all scandals turned out to be news on NZ First leader Winston Peters being overpaid his pension broke, I was a bit disappointed to say the least. Clearly a different story breaking on the same day, that Police had illegally accessed blogger Martyn Bradbury's banking information, was a far more serious issue.

However, only a week out from New Zealand's general election and an investigative report about our national security is shaping up to dwarf them all. Astoundingly, the Financial Times and Newsroom report on National MP Jian Yang teaching Chinese cadets how to be good spies before becoming a politician didn't immediately cause his resignation.

I guess the National party adopted their often-used wait and see policy. So here's a brief rundown of the international response so far.

On Wednesday, The Guardian reported:

China-born New Zealand MP denies being a spy

A China-born MP for New Zealand’s ruling party has denied being a spy after it emerged that he had spent years studying and teaching in universities with links to Chinese intelligence services.

“I am not a spy,” Yang Jian, the National party’s first MP born in mainland China, told reporters on Wednesday after a joint investigation by the Financial Times and New Zealand’s Newsroom revealed what they described as his hidden past.

According to the New Zealand Herald the 55-year-old MP rejected the accusations as a racist “smear campaign” targeting him “just because I am Chinese”.

Yesterday, The Times reported:

I taught Chinese spies, admits New Zealand MP Jian Yang

A New Zealand MP in the governing party has admitted he taught Chinese spies at a school run by the People’s Liberation Army in central China.

Jian Yang, who is the only Chinese MP in the National Party of the prime minister, Bill English, confirmed that he had taught English there but denied he was a spy himself.

Yesterday, SBS reported:

New Zealand MP defends teaching English to Chinese spies

A New Zealand government MP has admitted teaching English to Chinese spies when he was a lecturer at a language institute run by China's spy agency.

But National's Jian Yang says to him they were just students collecting information by monitoring the communications of other countries.

Dr Yang has labelled media reports he was an officer in China's People's Liberation Army and member of the Communist Party as a racist smear campaign, but admits both are true.

A joint investigation by Newsroom and Hong Kong's Financial Times claims New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service has investigated the Chinese-born MP, including interviewing a person about him last year.

Yesterday, The LA Times reported:

China-born New Zealand lawmaker says he's loyal to new home

New Zealand lawmaker who was born in China said Wednesday he taught Chinese spies while working at that nation's elite military colleges but had never engaged in any intelligence activities himself and was loyal to his new nation.

Jian Yang told reporters he'd never tried to hide his background but hadn't always highlighted it either because New Zealanders might feel sensitive about his ties to the Chinese military.

What needs to be mentioned again is that Jian Yang blatantly lied on his New Zealand application for citizenship by failing to tell authorities that he had worked in Chinese military institutes. This is a serious criminal offence that means Yang cannot remain an MP.

The dishonest Yang must resign before he does further damage to our international standing. It isn’t just blogger's like me who’re saying this either... the case for Yang to resign has been well made by one of New Zealand’s leading experts on China relations.

Yesterday, 1 News reported:

It's nothing personal - but National MP Dr Jian Yang should resign

Leading Kiwi macroeconomist Rodney Jones says we need to separate the personal controversy surrounding National List MP Dr Jian Yang from the more important discussion - New Zealand's national security and who is suitable to hold office in this country.

Mr Jones, who is based in China offering companies financial advice on the Chinese market, says he has nothing against Dr Yang but says the National MP should resign.

Mr Jones says there is no place in a New Zealand parliament, let alone a government, for a man who was once a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

He says it's unfortunate this controversy has arisen so close to the election but New Zealand has to establish some clear boundaries on who can be eligible to be an MP.

So what the bloody hell is the National party waiting for?

By not taking affirmative action on the matter, Bill English looks terribly weak as Prime Minister and the Minister of National Security and Intelligence.

He's also doing his cause of staying on as National party leader after the election no favours at all by being so ineffective at maintaining the government's and our national security.

Let's see what the old boozer does after some international pressure comes to bear.

14 Sept 2017

Exploited migrant worker becomes homeless

What on earth is this country coming to? We used to be a nation that cared about it’s workers, even building thousands of state houses to ensure a healthy workforce and providing a safety net when things went wrong.

We used to have better laws and a functioning system that ensured they were actually upheld.

Unfortunately that’s no longer the case. The current government of New Zealand now has very little willingness or ability to combat things like modern day slavery.

Today, Radio NZ reported:

Migrant worker describes 'modern day slavery' scam

A migrant worker who describes himself as a modern-day slave says he is blowing the whistle on exploitation he believes is widespread.

The man, who RNZ is naming only as Danny, came from Sri Lanka with his wife in 2011.

Like thousands of others, they came for a better life. For five years he worked and studied and in 2016 was offered a well-paid job in Auckland and a clear path to permanent residency within 12 months.

The couple decided it was a good move, but Danny said it soon became clear he had signed up for a scam that involved a money merry-go-round to fool immigration authorities.

Danny admits his hands aren't clean but he now wants to shed light on the exploitation of migrant workers in Auckland.

He was introduced to the boss of a small Auckland business by his brother-in-law, he said, who then told him he had to pay $25,000 in cash to secure the job and then get his residency.

He said his brother-in-law, his new employer and an immigration lawyer involved in the scam all got a cut of the money.

A few weeks into the job his brother-in-law told him he would not be paid, but would have to give the appearance to immigration authorities he had a legitimate job.

Danny said in order to do that, his wife drove a taxi 12 hours a day, six days a week. She then withdrew cash from her account, which was passed to Danny's employer, who then paid Danny a portion into his bank account as a sham wage.

Danny said as well as his main job he had to do other work such as drive his employer's son and paint his house.

"He's asking me to clean his house, bring his kid - I had to bring him from the station and I have to pick him [up from] some places. Clean up house and gardening. Sometimes I have to do painting and stuff, whole house.

"I felt like a New Zealand modern day slavery," Danny said.

He stayed at the job for almost 10 months, but said eventually the couple's strained finances and the long hours he and his wife worked put stress on their relationship and they broke up, he said.

Danny said without his wife's taxi work, he couldn't keep up the payments to his boss, so when his employer demanded another $35,000 he walked away without paying.

"I felt like what they're doing was wrong and I prefer more dignity. Residency is good but if you lost your soul or if you lost your heart, what's the point? You're like an empty man.

"You become more like, sell anything to do any type of stuff, you're more like a criminal, you know? That's the craziness of most of the people's mind - they do anything for residency."

Danny said he knew what he was doing was wrong but he trusted his brother-in-law, who got his residency in a similar arrangement with his boss.

RNZ has heard a secret recording Danny made of a conversation with his former employer where they talk about the scam.

His lawyer said they went to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to lay a complaint and offered the recording as evidence of Danny's exploitation, but authorities wouldn't investigate and told them complainants should come forward at the first instance of exploitation.

Disgusting! Ruling out an investigation in cases where the complainant doesn’t come forward quickly enough is a sure sign that authorities simply don’t care if migrant workers are being exploited. But what makes this particular case so much worse is that the complainant has been left out in the cold.

Danny is now homeless, jobless, and without a valid visa. While he waits for a decision, he volunteers at the Salvation Army and is being supported by a church, which is helping to feed and house him.

He said he now wanted to shine the light on the issue of exploitation.

"So many exploitations are going on at the moment, I have heard. That's why I want to bring this story to the public because I need to make sure the New Zealanders - the true owners of this country - they don't want to see those things happening on their ground."

What I’d like to know is why hasn't the National led government done more to combat modern day slavery? After all, stories about migrant workers being exploited simply didn’t occur here before National gained power in 2008.

A lack of any proper government response to things like forced labour, human trafficking and child exploitation means those types of terrible things are increasing by around 17% in New Zealand each year.

It appears that the growing slavery problem in New Zealand is because of a lack of proper governance. National have failed to uphold people’s basic human rights, which has allowed more exploitation to occur. This means our international standing has been affected, with New Zealand recently being downgraded in the Global Slavery Index ranking.

The National party should therefore be voted out at this coming election.

Chinese spy in New Zealand Government?

You’ve really got to wonder how much influence the Chinese government is exerting on the National party these days?

Last month it was revealed that the Minister of Housing, Nick Smith, had demolished state houses then sold the public land they were on to a private Chinese owned company. The New Zealand government then helped pay to build privately owned houses to accommodate Chinese government workers from China Southern Airlines.

Then on Tuesday a documentary by Bryan Bruce called Who owns New Zealand now showed that our housing crisis has partly been driven by Chinese government backed speculation in our property market. Bruce also revealed how the National led government was hiding statistics on the exact number of properties being sold to foreign speculators.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, now we learn that a government MP, Jian Yang, was a card-carrying member of the Chinese Communist Party and taught spies at a Chinese military intelligence academy before moving to New Zealand to join the National party.

Yesterday, Newsroom reported:

National MP trained by Chinese spies

A National Party MP who studied at an elite Chinese spy school before moving to New Zealand has attracted the interest of our Security Intelligence Service.

The list MP Jian Yang did not mention in his work or political CVs a decade he spent in the People's Liberation Army-Air Force Engineering College or the Luoyang language institute run by China's equivalent of the United States National Security Agency.

That agency, the Third Department, conducts spying activities for China.

Clearly there’s a huge conflict of interest here, with the former teacher of Chinese spies having access to some of New Zealand’s most top-secret and highly sensitive information.

Perhaps this is why National is against taxing bottled water? After all, most of the consents for one of our most precious resources are in order to ship it off to China.

Newsroom has been told that to have taught at the Air Force Engineering College, Yang would have almost certainly been an officer in Chinese military intelligence and a member of the Communist Party, as other students and staff have been.

Surely that would preclude him from being an MP in New Zealand then?

Yang studied and then taught there before moving to Australia where he attended the Australian National University in Canberra. He migrated to this country to teach international relations in the politics department at the University of Auckland.

He was hand-picked by National Party president Peter Goodfellow to become an MP on its list in 2011, wooed directly by the former Prime Minister John Key and has been a key fundraiser for National among the Chinese community in Auckland.

So the National party actually headhunted Yang, a person who worked at a foreign spying academy, to be one of their MPs. Could you imagine the media frenzy if the Labour party had done something as unbelievably stupid as that?

As an MP he variously served on Parliament's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (from 2014 until last year), Commerce, Transport and Industrial Relations and Health and Science select committees and is prominent in New Zealand's interactions with the Chinese community and diplomatic and consular missions in Wellington and Auckland. He remains a Parliamentary Private Secretary for ethnic affairs.

It’s becoming pretty evident that the National party is in the pocket of the Chinese government. Even if you're a Chinese national, you'll likely realise that such things are entirely unconstitutional.

Bill English should do the right thing and stand Jian Yang down while an investigation is undertaken. The Prime Minister must somehow confirm to voters that National policy hasn't been influenced by another sovereign state. If the National party doesn't do that before the election, then it's time to change the government.

13 Sept 2017

Who's better with the books?

We’ve all heard the rhetoric about the National party being strong and stable when it comes to managing our economy. This claim was John Key’s and now Bill English’s go to defence whenever quizzed on the tricky issues.

Any questions concerning New Zealand’s growing homelessness rates and increasing inequality etc would be deferred to a look over there at the economy answer. But just how honest is National being when they say the economy is better under their watch?

Today, Stuff reported:

Is National really better than Labour with the Government books? Well, not really

ANALYSIS: Every three years it seems National rolls out the same accusation: Labour is less fiscally responsible.

This so-called commonly held belief has again been used as a fallback during this election campaign.

It reared its head amid Steven Joyce's accusations that Labour had left an $11.7 billion hole in its fiscal plan.

Accusations that've been proven entirely false I might add.

In the aftermath, National said even if there wasn't a $12b hole, Labour wasn't leaving itself much financial wiggle room. This was followed by the suggestion those tight Budgets were likely to put a Labour Government in the red because the party's fiscal track record isn't up to snuff.

But is National really a steadier hand when it comes to controlling the Government books? Is a vote for Labour actually a vote for financial instability?

The short answer is no.

We took a look at some basic economic indicators, including net debt as a percentage of GDP and surpluses, under the Helen Clark-led Labour Government as well as the John Key-led National Government.

What we found wasn't what National would have us believe.

Clark's fifth Labour Government reduced debt from 22.6 per cent of GDP in 2000 to 5.5 per cent in 2008.

Left wing bloggers and twitter activists have been going on about this for years, so it’s nice to finally see such pertinent information published online.

Based on past performances, both major political parties are able to competently run the country's financials, they just have different priorities.

The main difference in their priorities is that National still believes in trickle down economics. They essentially work to make the wealthy even richer and it’s widely accepted that this type of growth has been detrimental to people in economic deprivation and the working class.

Therein lies the main problem for National and their coalition partners. By ignoring the people at the bottom of the cliff there won't be any overall gain in people's quality of life. They're simply robbing Peter to pay Paul, which isn’t a good economic strategy long term.

That’s why Labour should be given another chance at this election to manage the books. Only through collective prosperity can we as a nation hope to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the future.

12 Sept 2017

Dishonest polling in Waiariki

The Waiariki electorate will be one to watch this coming election. The Māori party, with co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell, is in a tight race with Labour candidate Tamati Coffey for a seat the incumbent has held since 2005.

Despite that long tenure, a previously released poll had Flavell only just ahead of the popular Coffey, and if the Māori party loses Waiariki it will likely mean they're no longer in parliament.

Current polling has the Māori party well below the 5% threshold, on just 1%.

Here's the relevant tweet where Bryce Edwards claims the dishonest poll is the most recent:

On Sunday, Māori Television reported:

Flavell runs the polls

Te Ururoa Flavell is staving off Labour’s assault on the Māori seats with a clear lead in his home electorate of Waiariki.

Māori Television’s latest Reid Research poll reveals Flavell is running in the right direction while former broadcaster Tamati Coffey chases to stay in sight.

Flavell scored 60.1% of voter support as the preferred candidate among 400 voters with Labour’s Coffey behind on 39.9%.

A bit of a strange headline there.

Unfortunately neither the article nor Reid Research actually informs us about when the polling was undertaken. However somebody in the know has set the record straight.

On Sunday, Tamati Coffey responded:

Maori TV announced their poll last night. Had me behind by 20%. But it was based on asking just 343 people. It was also conducted when Andrew Little was the leader. In their wisdom, Maori TV also took liberty to take out the undecided of the 343 polled - making out that everyone's decided who they are voting for. Not true. They chose not to reveal the undecideds. I'll put it at the bottom of the pile, under our internal independent polls which have me at 1-2% behind my opponent. Regardless, it's definitely GAME ON.

So the dishonest polling released by Māori Television doesn't take into account any of the Jacinda Ardern effect or an entire month of campaigning by Labour candidate Tamati Coffey and his team in Waiariki.

Perhaps some of the National party's dirty political tacticians are also trying to help their coalition partner survive? If that's the case then they also deserve to be punished at the polls this coming election.

Steps to reduce youth suicide

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern speaking
at the suicide prevention rally
Last Sunday marked the fourteenth annual World Suicide Prevention Day where various campaigns were undertaken to increase awareness across the globe. This included in New Zealand where 606 pairs of shoes, representing the people who had taken their own lives over the last year were displayed on parliamentary grounds.

How can it be that we have the worst youth suicide rate in the world you might ask? After all, New Zealand is a great little country with lots to offer both young and old people alike.

Much of that shameful suicide statistic has to do with the widening gap between rich and poor. But there are other negative dynamics that must also be addressed before our stubborn suicide rate will start to decline.

1. Start rewarding young people instead of punishing them

We all get it that being tough on crime is a vote winner. However this type of campaigning has run its course and must change in order for government’s to tackle through legislative changes our unacceptable rate of youth suicide.

The punitive prison system in New Zealand has clearly failed to reduce crime. Instead it simply hardens young offenders into worse criminals and often propels them into a life of law breaking. This is a negative dynamic in our society that must be addressed in order to reduce the damage crime causes.

The answer is to provide young people with realistic options like trades training and apprenticeships. Leaving 90,000 NEETs to twiddle their thumbs when gangs offer young people what is essentially a career path out of poverty isn’t something any government should simply rest on their laurels and accept.

2. Increase rehabilitation services especially for young people

Drug and alcohol abuse, even in wealthier families, is a key factor in the unchecked suicide rate. Over the last nine years many rehabilitation services have been reduced in size or closed down due to underfunding. This was a very big government blunder and needs to be rolled back in order to help reduce our world leading youth suicide rate.

Over 70% of youth suicides may be complicated by drug and alcohol issues.

3. Increase young people’s incomes

Financial hardship is another main factor in things like family violence, which adversely affects young people’s mental health. Over the last nine years young people have had their wages reduced significantly while the cost of living has increased exponentially.

This means even if a young person has a job it in many cases doesn’t meet their everyday expenses. The only way to reduce financial hardship and the stress this causes is to increase young people’s wages and benefits.

4. Conduct a public discussion about suicide

Undertaking a public discussion about suicide and the services available to prevent it is particularly important in reducing the amount of young people taking their own lives. There really is no better way to inform at risk youth that they aren’t alone and help is only a phone call away.

Most news agencies are already on board with the discussion to highlight the unacceptably high suicide rate. In fact the NZ Herald recently ran a very good series of articles called Break the Silence, which is well worth revisiting.

However publicly discussing delicate topics like suicide must be undertaken with the utmost care. Politicians and commentators should at all times stick to topics that will be help and not hinder the discussion.

The recent accusations by National party MP Simon O’Connor that Jacinda Ardern was encouraging elderly, disabled, and sick New Zealander’s to take their own lives was highly detrimental to the overall discussion about suicide prevention. Only by developing a conscientious public discourse on the matter can we hope to reduce the numbers of people taking their own lives.

5. Consider the consequences to young people before implementing policy

When the government makes a decision that will affect young people’s lives, such changes should be in accordance with the best outcomes and whatever consequences the decision might cause. 
For example, if the minimum wage isn’t increased in line with inflationary pressure this will cause more hardship for young people and as a consequence could lead to more suicide. Therefore the minimum wage should be increased to reduce young people’s financial hardship.

Policy consequences should be a factor in all governmental decision making.

6. Educate families about available services

A lack of knowledge about what to do when things go wrong for young people and their families means that the Police are often left picking up the pieces. This is a bottom of the cliff solution that doesn’t actually work to reduce the suicide rate and the societal harm it causes. 
Early intervention is by far the better option because it actually saves lives and saves money. Last year suicide in New Zealand was estimated to cost the economy approximately $2 billion per annum.

In this regard the announcement this week by Labour for 100 more Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses for vulnerable families and the Green’s free counselling for under 25 year olds and a zero-suicide approach are great steps in the right direction. 
These policies will likely pay for themselves by preventing youth suicide.

7. Provide teachers with enough time to get to know their students

Wraparound services are essential in the fight against an increasing youth suicide rate. But when there’s a break down in the family dynamic, who exactly will know that a young person might be contemplating suicide? The best people to recognise there’s a problem are those who work with young people on a daily basis, like teachers.

The government should allow teachers more time with their students and incentivise them to look out for at risk youth. This is not only good for educational outcomes, but will help to reduce the youth suicide rate by allowing a more targeted and cost effective approach.

Where to get help

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757
Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116
Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email
0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at
Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.