The Jackal: June 2020

29 Jun 2020

Goldsmith loves poverty

Paul Goldsmith
You can often tell just how effective a progressive policy proposal will be by how much the right wing criticise it. The more socially beneficial, the more vitriolic and unhinged they seem to become.

That was the case when the Green Party announced their Poverty Action Plan yesterday. The response on Twitter was quite astounding; with many right-wingers claiming it would be the end of the world. The actual policy itself (PDF) is well worth a read, even if it’s just to get some perspective on how unhinged the right wing have become.

Unable to find any real fault with the Green Party’s economic policy initiative, the right wing has resorted to a desperate kind of disinformation, the type of propaganda that only their deluded core supporters could believe.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

David Seymour, Paul Goldsmith condemn Green Party's wealth tax plans 

Released on Sunday in the lead-up to the election, its Poverty Action Plan would introduce wealth taxes and new high-income tax brackets to pay for a guaranteed minimum income of at least $325 a week. 
But ACT Party leader Seymour warns this will send New Zealand in the wrong direction.
"At a time when we need to get New Zealanders back to work, the Greens want to suck the life out of the economy by taxing successful people harder and creating even more welfare dependency," Seymour told Newshub. 
"This kind of European socialism will only prolong the economic pain."

Actually, people on low-incomes having more money to spend is a great way to invigorate the economy. It's also a good way to ensure that they get the basic necessities their families require to survive with some dignity.

And National's Finance spokesperson Goldsmith says we need our small businesses to invest and create more jobs - not tax them more. 
"Rather than celebrating Kiwis doing well, the Greens seem to want to punish them," he says in a statement.

Paul Goldsmith then hastily wrote an ill-advised press release.

Higher Taxes Inevitable If Labour-Greens Win 

The Greens have proposed higher income tax rates, up to 42 cents in the dollar, and a wealth tax on people with more than $1 million in assets. 
The wealth tax would be particularly severe. A successful small business person, owning a $1 million house and a business worth $1 million would have to pay $40,000 a year for the 2 per cent wealth tax. 
The very real fear many New Zealanders have is that this current government, which has $20 billion available for election spending, will spend whatever it takes to try to keep its poll numbers up until the 19 September election. 
Then on the 20th, if they win, the smiles will drop and New Zealanders will be presented with the bill – higher taxes.

Today, RNZ reported:

Paul Goldsmith admits to blunder in criticism of Green Party's pledge 

National Party finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith has admitted to getting his facts wrong in a media release critical of the Green Party's pledge to transform the welfare system. 
Goldsmith subsequently put out a release stating that a wealth tax would be "particularly severe". In it, he used the example of a business owner who had a house worth $1 million and a business worth $1m paying "$40,000 a year for the 2 percent wealth tax". 
However, the policy outlined that taxing would only occur on wealth that was over the $1m threshold, and would also take into consideration mortgages as well as shared ownership. 
Goldsmith defended himself on Morning Report, saying the policy was vague on the thresholds. 
"Right at the very bottom [of the documents], there was a table that made the point that what they're talking about is a tax of over $1 million. 
"I quite frankly admit I got it wrong ... but when you look at the details in the press statement and all the policy documents it's not clear as to where the threshold came through. 
"I was moving in a fast-paced environment, trying to respond." 

You’ve got to wonder if the National Party chose Goldsmith as their financial spokesperson solely because of his name? I mean honestly...what a complete goober!

After being caught out wrongly claiming that the Labour led Government was spending more than any other country on its COVID-19 response, you would think that Goldsmith would keep a pretty low profile about now. Instead he went out on another limb and again lied about what the Green Party's Poverty Action Plan truly represents. Not only has Goldsmith displayed a lack of understanding about how marginal tax rates actually work, he’s completely misread the room in terms of the publics reaction to what is a balanced and transformational policy.

There is no question that if we want to do something substantial about inequality in New Zealand, a way to redistribute more wealth to those who need it the most is required. It should also be mentioned that in comparison to other countries, we actually have reasonably low tax rates in New Zealand. The problem is the cost of living in comparison to our low-waged economy and unfair taxes like GST disproportionately impacting poorer families. Obviously the only way we’re going to fix our high rate of inequality is by a progressive tax system like the one proposed by the Greens.

In fact this is a well thought out policy initiative, both in a political sense and in terms of its benefit towards social progress. Not only does it mark a clear line in the sand between the Greens and other political factions, it also targets the upper class, many of whom have chosen to sit on their wealth with a wait and see what happens policy during COVID-19.

Clearly the policy won’t have any negative effects for the vast majority of voters or cause the wealthy to flee the safety of New Zealand, so National’s cries of economic doom and gloom not only confirm exactly whom they represent; they will also fail to gain much if any traction with the general voting public.

So provided the Greens can strong-arm the Labour Party into negotiating on this well thought out policy post election, we could finally see an end to the grinding poverty that causes untold economic and social harm in New Zealand. I'm sure people like Paul Goldsmith will be livid!

27 Jun 2020

Is David Clark a liability for Labour?

Minister of Health - David Clark
If you follow politics in New Zealand, David Clark is likely a name you’re a bit familiar with. The current Minister of Health is perhaps the most disliked Member of Parliament at the moment, which amongst very stiff competition is really saying something. But is all the criticism really justified?

There are of course a number of instances of apparent wrongdoing, but here I will focus on the ones that have caused the most outrage. The mountain bike ride during lockdown for instance, which caused numerous people to call for his head. While the optics looked terrible, the crime itself wasn’t that bad at all. So the guy drove some distance to go for a bike ride when everyone was meant to be self-isolating. Of course it was blown out of all proportion by the MSM, who generally speaking are working towards a change of Government.

Certain right wing journalists also tried to foster public resentment when Clark was found to have moved house, which they initially reported as also occurring during level 4 lockdown. Unfortunately for their credibility the move actually happened just before lockdown was imposed. That didn’t stop the attacks though. 'Political muckraker' Tova O’Brien even criticised the Minister for using his previous house as an office, which was entirely within the rules.

On 24 April, Newshub reported:

Health Minister David Clark moves house during COVID-19 lockdown 

Newshub can reveal Health Minister David Clark continued moving house during alert level 4 lockdown, shifting boxes when the rest of New Zealand was told they were not allowed. 
It follows two breaches of his Government's lockdown rules: he was caught mountain biking - a forbidden activity - and driving 20km to the beach for a walk with his family when Kiwis weren't allowed to drive for recreation.  
Dr Clark's new house was just down the road from his former residence, and the bulk of the relocating, including shifting his family and hiring a moving truck for heavy furniture, took place just before the lockdown began.

OMG! David Clark moved house.

Unfortunately Clark has become the go-to fall guy for the right wing and their propagandists whenever a National Party MP gets into trouble. The most recent example of this was when Michael Woodhouse started copping flack for lying about a homeless person who he claimed had attained free lodgings at an isolation facility in Auckland. Clearly the MSM utilised the public’s hatred they’ve fostered for Clark to take the focus off of what is a much greater threat to our democracy: dishonest right wing politicians lying about COVID-19 related breaches.

It’s patently obvious that the right wing have vested a lot of time and energy into smearing the embattled Health Minister’s credibility. Their investment has obviously paid dividends as well, because the right wing now have an easy way to shift people’s focus away from their dirty political tactics whenever they choose.

More recently the nasty headlines were about Clark apparently throwing the Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, under a bus and failing to take responsibility for a lack of testing during isolation that so-called journalists often enthusiastically refer to as a blunder at the border.

On Wednesday, Newshub reported:

Health Minister David Clark brutally throws Dr Ashley Bloomfield under the bus while standing right next to him 

Dr Clark pointed blame at the Director-General as they stood next to each other in Wellington on Wednesday.  
Newshub's footage captured Dr Bloomfield's face after Dr Clark told reporters, "The Director-General has accepted that the protocol wasn't being followed. He has accepted responsibility for that." 
Newshub asked the Health Minister why he won't take some of the responsibility.
"The Director-General has already acknowledged that the system didn't deliver here."

The problem for O’Brien here is that if you go back and actually watch the undoctored footage, the Minister of Health is clearly just explaining, likely after a direct line of questioning on the issue, that Bloomfield had already apologised for some people in isolation not being tested. In fact there was no real malice by the Minister exhibited towards the popular Doctor at all.

The optics of Bloomfield feeling unhappy about the situation, likely because he was reminded of the lack of testing, were of course damaging. But it was hardly ‘brutal’ as O'Brien claimed or an 'awful way to treat someone' as right wing journalist Andrea Vance gloated on Twitter.

What this does show is that much of the mainstream media in New Zealand, on behalf of the National Party, is often unfairly viscous towards left wing politicians and public officials.

With all of these biased attacks the problem is obviously that Clark now has a tarnished reputation. Evidently the Government’s COVID-19 response has been excellent and undoubtedly saved many thousands of lives, but the MSM isn’t properly attributing any of this success to the Minister of Health. In this respect they’ve somewhat over-egged their criticism of the Coalition Government. 83% of the general public still believe that the response was good and it will be difficult to convince them otherwise when nobody is actually dying in New Zealand from the virus anymore.

While the reaction towards Clark’s lapses in judgement have been entirely over the top, we should be in no doubt that such unbalanced reporting has had a detrimental effect on Labour's polling results. Clearly the tory medias faux outrage has been entirely disproportionate, but that isn’t to say Clark shouldn't be accountable for any misconduct or failings that he’s directly responsible for either.

Another problem to consider is that David Clark would need to entirely leave politics to no longer be used as a scapegoat by the right wing. Jacinda Ardern cannot simply sack him either, because riding a bike for instance isn’t actually a crime. In fact dismissing Clark for that instance of thoughtlessness would’ve been ruled as an unfair dismissal. The headlines would then become; ‘Minister sacked by PM for riding bike’. Likewise, the Prime Minister cannot simply move Clark fully sideways until after the election without receiving considerable criticism from the right wing. Invariably they already view any changes, such as parachuting Megan Woods into helping with the fight against COVID-19, as victories for the blue “team” and a sign of failure by the Government.

But you also need to consider the 9% shift towards National in the latest Culmar Brunton poll. Although some of this can be attributed to Todd Muller instead of Simon Bridges as leader and a very small change in public sentiment away from the Government’s COVID-19 response, there is no question that a certain percentage of that shift can be directly attributed to the way voters feel, wrongly or rightly, about David Clark. So in this respect he is a bit of a liability for the Labour Party. The real question is what will the Prime Minister do about it?

26 Jun 2020

Over 159 million could die from COVID-19

We all know that the COVID-19 virus is a terrible infectious disease that has already caused untold misery and numerous deaths around the world. Nearly half a million people have already died, and those are just the cases we know about.

But how bad could things actually get?

Today, the NZ Herald reported (pay-walled):

Rod Jackson: Bungled Covid-19 isolation is the best news since NZ came out of lockdown 

I backed the Government’s strict lockdown and cautious reopening strategy and cringed every time I heard criticism of the approach. 
After 40 years in public health, I know that our greatest successes are invisible – nothing happens – and that most New Zealanders were unaware of the health catastrophe we averted by our restrictive Covid elimination strategy. 
We are one of few countries where you can go out and enjoy yourself in the company of thousands, without fear of catching a disease that will kill one of 100 people within four weeks of being infected.

So one person dies within four weeks of catching COVID-19 for every 100 cases. However the actual death rate for those infected works out to be 5.1%. That's current COVID-19 related deaths (484K) as a percentage of total cases (9.49M).

This estimate could also be on the low side. That’s because it’s difficult to gauge just how stupid certain administrations will become in the face of economic disaster. Many countries are opening up their economies and even encouraging travel while their infection and death rates continue to increase. We’re also seeing a lack of proper PPE and social distancing measures in places like the UK and US, two nations that are being absolutely hammered by the virus.

So how many people exactly are likely to get infected with COVID-19?

In February, Newshub Reported:

Coronavirus could infect 40 percent of world's population over one to two years - Kiwi expert 

An infectious diseases specialist says coronavirus could infect up to 40 percent of the world's population in the next couple of years. 
Professor Michael Baker, from the Otago University Department of Public Health, says it will likely infect billions. 
"This pandemic infection has had a trajectory now for three or four weeks that looks like it will infect perhaps 40 percent of the world's population over the next one to two years."

There are 7.8 billion people currently walking the face of the Earth, so 40% works out to be 3.12 billion. Also keep in mind that the trajectory of new COVID-19 cases back in February was considerably lower than current figures.

Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a 5.1% death rate from COVID-19 for 40% of the world's population works out to be a calamitous toll of 159 million estimated deaths, just within the first two years. That means COVID-19 is on track to being one of, if not the worst, epidemic the world has ever seen.

Clearly anybody downplaying the seriousness of this virus needs their heads read.

25 Jun 2020

Jordan Williams shoots and misses

Jordan Williams
It’s pretty obvious to all and sundry that the Taxpayers Union, run by Jordan Williams, isn’t really a union at all. Instead it’s a small lobby group for privileged white folk, namely the old fools behind the scenes of the corrupt and largely defunct Act Party.

With an incorrectly attributed name, it should come as no surprise that the Taxpayers Union espouse the inconsistent neoliberal beliefs of a dwindling and very small minority. But every once in a while the Taxpayers Union comes up with a real doozy!

That was the case when Williams recently argued that the Government wasn’t legally allowed to request any payment from Kiwis who were returning home because of the COVID-19 pandemic currently raging overseas.

Last Monday, the Taxpayers Union reported:

Government cannot charge New Zealand citizens to return to New Zealand 

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams said, “Inherited from British constitutional law is what is called the ‘right of return’. Governments can’t put barriers up preventing their own citizens from coming home. Putting a tax or ‘co-payment’ on citizens, even to cover the costs of quarantine, is almost certainly unlawful.”

Don’t give up your day job Jordan. The law referenced here is one of only a few that remains from a year 1217 charter of rights called Magna Carta. But unfortunately for the deluded Williams, the right of return law is superseded here by the the Health Act 1956, which states:

118 Regulations as to quarantine 

Regulations made under this Act may provide for all or any of the following matters: 
(cc) the payment by any person who has been isolated pursuant to regulations made under this section of the reasonable cost of his treatment and maintenance while in isolation.

Now I realise that Williams might not be able to understand this, so let me break it down for him. The Government can legally impose payments on Kiwis returning from overseas who are required, also under law, to go into isolation.

Clearly the Taxpayers Union isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and as if to prove just how dull they are, Williams then starts incorrectly quoting from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In addition, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), article 13:states that Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. 

The problem with Jordan Williams' argument here is that we’re not talking about stopping Kiwis from returning home. Instead we’re talking about them making a contribution towards their costs incurred while in managed isolation.

Mr Williams says “The purpose of these rules are to prevent statelessness. While it’s painful for taxpayers, it’s a true public good, and the cost is right to be socialised.”

Get that! The Taxpayers Union, who has always argued that the welfare state should be gutted, is now saying that the cost for people’s food and lodgings should be socialised.

What Williams is essentially saying is that taxpayer money should only be spent on people who are wealthy enough to travel, while the poor still deserve an even smaller slice of the pie.

Maybe the Taxpayers Union should have spent some of that $60,000 on an actual lawyer.

But if this wasn’t enough to convince you that the ideology of the Taxpayers Union is terribly flawed, they followed up their previous examples of stupidity with a considerably dumber tweet the next day:

Obviously the issue here is that New Zealand doesn't even have a constitution. If we want an actual constitution, New Zealand would likely need to become a republic first, which is something I'm sure the Taxpayers Onion would argue against as well.

So that would be three strikes and you're out Jordan. Better luck next time.

24 Jun 2020

Debunking Michael Woodhouse

Michael Woodhouse
We all know that the National Party has a major credibility issue at the moment, and his name is Michael Woodhouse.

Not only has the former Health Minister recently been in the news promoting a number of unverified claims designed to try and discredit the Government's response to COVID-19, the mainstream media generally seems happy to publish his misinformation without much critical analysis as well.

In fact Woodhouse's latest claim that received widespread media coverage, about a homeless person attaining free accommodation at a COVID-19 isolation facility in Auckland, appears to be an entirely fabricated story.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Woodhouse sticks by story of homeless man's isolation hotel caper 

Michael Woodhouse is sticking by his claim that a homeless man wandered into an Auckland isolation hotel and enjoyed a two-week taxpayer-funded stay. 
The opposition health spokesman first made the claim during a television interview last Thursday. 
But Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said during a press conference on Tuesday that the claim could not be verified and appeared to be an urban myth.

That’s Bloomfield’s nice way of saying that Woodhouse is probably lying!

Following those comments, Woodhouse stuck to his guns when approached for comment by Stuff. 
His source for the story was a senior member of the health sector, he said.
“I didn't make it up. 
“What I also know is that source is a very reliable senior health professional.”

So we’re meant to believe that a senior health official went to the National Party about a homeless person, but that same "reliable" senior health official ignored his obligations to alert proper authorities and the Ministry of Health? Yeah right! There isn't even any CCTV footage of the homeless person at the facility during the time Woodhouse claimed he had free lodging.

We’ve also heard similar unverified claims from Woodhouse before. Three months ago he tweeted that somebody had overheard a Ministry of Health official in Wellington talking about 'how many body bags NZ had' in relation to the COVID-19 response.

After a considerable online backlash, Woodhouse deleted his obviously contrived tweet. However the damage to whatever was left of his credibility had already been done.

Then there are the more recent contradictory claims surrounding two returning travellers from the UK who received a compassionate exemption to leave quarantine early. The two sisters attained this exemption without first being tested and after only one days lobbying from National Party MP Christopher Bishop.

Questions still remain about National’s involvement and what communications their MPs had with the two sisters after they tested positive for COVID-19. Once again everyone is wondering why Woodhouse and his colleagues failed to alert proper authorities about what could have been New Zealand's first case of community spread of the highly contagious and deadly disease?

Even though a number of other National Party MP’s are also politicising the COVID-19 crisis, Woodhouse seems to be the only one consistently using outright heresy in order to try and besmirch the Director-General of Health, the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister. He is the only one consistently failing to report important and potentially life threatening information that he apparenty attains from reliable sources to the proper authorities as well.

Sadly the relationship Woodhouse has with truth has always been on the rocks. Even when there’s categorical proof to the contrary, Woodhouse prefers to rely on his sheer arrogance to overrule any notion of honesty or accountability. Even when the data is indisputable, to this very day Woodhouse remains adamant that the last National Government never made any cuts to the health budget.

What all this shows is that whatever Woodhouse claims cannot be relied upon. In fact the MSM would be well advised to treat everything the desperate clown says with a grain of salt...because without a good amount of incredulity, they also run the risk of looking foolish when the truth comes out.

19 Jun 2020

National plays dirty politics with COVID-19

Could somebody please get to the bottom of who exactly informed National Party MP Michael Woodhouse about the close contacts two women from the UK had during their trip from Auckland to Wellington?

The pair later tested positive for COVID-19 and may have infected others, giving rise to legitimate questions about just how effective New Zealand’s quarantining of returning overseas travellers actually is?

On Wednesday, RNZ reported:

Woodhouse alleges women with Covid-19 asked for directions 

The two women - who had flown in from the United Kingdom - were granted compassionate leave to drive from Auckland to Wellington without first being tested for Covid-19. 
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday said the pair had no contact with anyone else on the drive. 
But National Party health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse told Parliament a "reliable but confidential source" had informed him that story was "not all as it seems". 

For some reason the mainstream media don’t seem very interested in publicising who the National Party informant is.

"They did become disorientated and lost their way coming out of Auckland and needed help to get on the right road," Woodhouse said. 
"They called on acquaintances who they were in close contact with and that was rewarded with even more close contact - a kiss and a cuddle."

What I would like to know is why did Woodhouse sit on this important information pertaining to our national security for two days and why did Todd Muller fail to inform proper authorities about the COVID-19 quarantine breach after he was informed? We should all understand by now that even hours are important when combating the spread of this terrible disease.

By not being forthcoming, the National Party and their propagandists have attempted to make political capital out of other people's misfortune.

They have also unfairly brought Ashley Bloomfield’s honesty into question. This is despite the guy being an exemplary Director General of Health who has managed NZ well through the COVID-19 crisis while other countries are straining under the burden of numerous cases and fatalities. He obviously wouldn’t intentionally mislead the public over such an important issue, because he has nothing to personally or professionally gain from doing so.

So the Government has a real problem on their hands, and I don’t just mean the pressing issue of properly quarantining people who may be COVID-19 positive. They either have a mole in the Ministry of Health leaking to the right wing and/or the National Party is once again using dirty political tactics to undermine people’s faith in the COVID-19 response plan and the Coalition Government.

Of course Michael Woodhouse hasn’t been forthcoming about whom his informant is, but a very big finger is now pointing directly at his fellow National Party MP, Christopher Bishop.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Coronavirus: COVID-19 pair released from quarantine after lobbying from National MP Chris Bishop, Labour claims 

Two women released from quarantine before testing positive for COVID-19 were given permission to leave after lobbying from a National MP, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has claimed in Parliament. 
Health Minister David Clark, in response to Hipkins' allegation, said he was aware Hutt South MP Chris Bishop had provided a written positive representation which may have led to the women being granted the exemption. 
"Mr Speaker I am aware of that," Clark said on Thursday. "I just would ask members to be careful around these situations.  
"On the one hand people have been requiring or requesting that people be let go early, on the other hand we have seen the risk this presents to New Zealanders".

So Bishop directly advocated for their early release from quarantine and then remained silent about this while Bloomfield copped all the blame. Bishop also hasn’t actually denied that he's the source of the information that was leaked to media and used by Woodhouse to go on the attack. Clearly he hasn't forgotten any of the dishonest tricks learnt as a tobacco lobbyist.

Even though the National Party has been repeatedly calling for our borders to be opened up, evidently they’re not above using any new COVID-19 cases that result from the easing of restrictions to attack the Government. This is clearly the same old political point scoring from National that Muller said he was going to change.

It must therefore be said that relying on a deadly virus for political gain is both reprehensible and morally repugnant. Instead of playing politics with people's lives, the right wing should be helping New Zealand to get through the COVID-19 crisis. But I guess that's too much to ask for when were talking about the machinations of the nasty National Party.

17 Jun 2020

Winston Peters versus Black Lives Matter

NZ First Twitter advert that was removed
You’ve really got to wonder at how desperate NZ First must be in light of their recent polling results. Not only has Winston Peters gone on the attack with one of the loudest dog-whistles you’ve ever heard in New Zealand politics, but he’s also calling to a very small minority of old upper-class bigots that aren’t going to get NZ First over the line anyway.

But why exactly would he risk alienating a larger and generally younger group of voters, which obviously isn’t a winning strategy? Peters, who isn’t known for his tolerance, doesn’t just oppose the popular uprising because of what it stands for…he also fears the power of the people and the thousands of protesters who marched peacefully to Parliament last Sunday. Evidently these attack adverts are more a fear response rather than any actual tactical election campaign.

NZ First is essentially saying that they aren't concerned about the disproportionate number of Maori who are targeted, incarcerated and killed by Police in New Zealand. In fact what these terrible adverts and his lack of empathy towards those who die at the hands of Police shows us is that Peters has entirely lost the plot. Instead of acknowledging the fact that many of the prejudices that occur in the US exist here in the New Zealand as well, NZ First has firmly entrenched their heads in the sand and by doing so will come out on the wrong side of history.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Peters' blunder: NZ First's second 'woke brigade' tweet deleted after racial slur 

The original tweet had been deleted after it contained an image created by Third Culture Minds, which they claimed breached copyright. 
They told 1 News they did not approve of the party's "ill-informed messages associated with our imagery". 
Now Peters has had to pull a second tweet from his own account after the background image featured a protester holding a sign where the word "n*****" was visible.

Whoever came up with these despicable adverts needs to be sacked!

It’s not as if there aren’t other prominent Kiwis acknowledging that there’s a problem with racial discrimination either. If the Police Commissioner (both past and present) can publicly state that the Police have unconscious bias against Maori then Peters must have a gold medal in mental gymnastics to delude himself enough into thinking that there isn’t a reason for people to march in the streets of Aotearoa in support of Black Lives Matter.

Why do some politicians who have passed their used-by date feel the need stoke the fires of resentment just to try and stay relevant? Maybe they should enlighten themselves by reading a book.

Couple Winston Peters' ignorance with a lack of progress by Tracey Martin concerning Oranga Tamariki's discrimination towards Maori and their opposition to a Capital Gains Tax hindering young people from home ownership and it’s patently clear that the NZ First Party has run its beleaguered and narrow-minded course. Even their secret donors must realise this by now.

7 Jun 2020

No reason for Police to carry guns

So why exactly did the New Zealand Police undertake an armed response teams (ARTs) trial in the first place? Of course there was the Christchurch mosque terrorism attack, but that was an isolated incident and therefore cannot be used as an excuse to arm Police. What this trial does do is remind us all of the military Police deployed in the Ururewa raids, which unfairly targeted Maori in a disproportionate manner.

When 66% of those shot by Police are Maori you’ve really got to wonder why they failed to consult tangata whenua about such a controversial issue? Surely Maori, who are twice as likely to be sent to Court for the same type of offending, should have a say in any major changes to how the Police operate? After all, Maori will clearly be disproportionately effected by an armed Police force.

Not only have the Police breached the Crown’s treaty obligations; it is patently clear that they’ve also failed to address their not-so unconscious bias against Maori in any meaningful way.

Correspondingly, by arming the Police the Government is acknowledging their own failure. Arming the Police would mean that society has broken down to such an extent that Police cannot deescalate most situations without the use of guns. It would mean that poverty, which is essentially a form of entrapment, has become so widespread and pervasive as to not allow people to survive without undertaking crime.

In a country as wealthy as ours, surely the Government should do more to address the root causes of crime instead of just sending another ambulance to the bottom of the cliff.

Although handguns (and now assault riffles thanks to Jacinda Ardern) are difficult for criminals to attain in New Zealand, there is no question that Police carrying guns will cause hardened criminals to do the same. There is no question that Police being armed isn’t a deterrent to organised and serious crime either, so why exactly was this trial undertaken when we know there’s no operational benefit and already have Armed Offenders Squads?

Besides, the Police already have numerous weapons at their disposal. Pepper spray and Tasers are an effective and usually non-lethal option. In most cases where the Police have shot and killed somebody, a different weapons choice could have instead saved that persons life.

But if all that wasn’t enough to convince the Government to enforce the no-surprises legislation to ensure the Police didn’t simply treat politically damaging matters as operational…the trial itself failed as well.

Yesterday, RNZ reported:

Armed Response Teams trial: 'Bizarre' holes in callout data 

Police in the Armed Response Teams failed to record their callouts properly on almost every occasion during the trial's first two months. 
The six-month experiment ended in April. The trial involved a group of officers in three regions - Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury - equipped with guns on their hips at all times. 
Officers were expected to record and submit data on every single call-out. In the first two months, data from five out of every six callouts was missing.

There’s no point in having a trial if you’re not going to collect data.

"There is still a level of underreporting that, while not posing an immediate problem, means that a complete picture is not available. As a fraction of the number of incidents ARTs have been deployed to, the number of EOD forms received by the EBPC is still quite low (17%)," an EBPC document from January this year said. 
A report from December stated: "These discrepancies likely reflect a general under-reporting of deployment activity and selective reporting practices across each district."

So the trial, which was apparently not approved by the Government, was a complete fiasco! Not only did Police carry guns to general-purpose callouts like traffic stops, they didn’t even bother to keep proper records, meaning that any findings cannot be relied upon and are consequently irrelevant!

It cannot be overstated that the Police carrying guns is NOT an operational matter. It is a political matter and must go through the normal checks and balances plus an electoral process to see whether a majority of the public believes Police carrying guns en masse is justified. Let me assure all concerned that Kiwi voters will be against the militarisation of the Police force.

2 Jun 2020

RIP George Floyd

George Floyd and Daughter 
If you’ve been keeping an eye on recent events in the United States, you’ll likely understand why there’s so much anger on the streets at the moment. Not only did police officers murder another black man; it is patently obvious that authorities initially attempted to cover up George Floyd's execution as well.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, instead of leading in a time of crisis, Donald Trump has been doing his best to provoke people further by aligning himself again with White Power twitter accounts and personally threatening protestors with vicious attack dogs and being shot, clearly showing that he's a fascist!

The US Police, who in general are out of control, have also been antagonising protestors with further indiscriminate acts of violence, sometimes perpetrated against children, journalists and peaceful protestors, which has increased resentment both in the US and abroad.

Of course it suits the so-called President to distract from his administrations mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis. Even with the United States’ case numbers painting a bleak picture of a user pays health system that has failed to protect the general population, Trump attempted to distract away from his own culpability by laying blame solely on China and the World Health Organization. This obvious propaganda tactic was repeated when Trump again tried to blame left-wing extremists and ANTIFA for the protests, which if the current global political state of affairs is anything to go by hasn’t been a very successful ploy.

As America rips itself apart, Trump has added insult to injury by moving to close down free speech with an executive order to reduce the legal liability protections online companies operate under. Prior to this blatant attack on the First Amendment, Trump was also misleading people into using incorrect medicines against COVID-19, unsafe treatments that have directly lead to numerous deaths. In the midst of all this, Trump even had the gall to say the United States was doing just fine, a claim that only a truly deluded dictator could make.

At this stage it seems unlikely that even the National Guard can save Trump from his own stupidity! However even with the writing on the wall, the despot continues to blame others.

White House goes dark as Donald Trump hides in bunker

The problem the United States faces going forward is that without any alternative leaders that the people believe in these protests will fail to cause any long-lasting and beneficial change. Both sides of the United States’ administrative wings are simply too corrupt to alter their destructive course by their own accord. Instead they will likely entrench their divisive capitalist agenda further into already abhorrent legislation, laws that will increasingly marginalise and persecute the already downtrodden.

Unfortunately there are no modern day Arthur Luther King’s or Malcolm X’s stepping forward to harness the crowds anger into an organised movement, and without that evolution of dissent the state will likely win out against those who have dared to raise their voices against Trump’s tyranny.

The problem isn’t just that the state has all the guns and numerous ways to track, mislead and punish people…it’s that such opposition to Big Brother has already been tried and failed. The 1970’s Black Power Movement for instance was decimated through police brutality and the introduction of cheap heroin into Black communities. These types of dirty tactics to subdue minority populations in the US haven’t stopped. In fact they’ve become more established and perverse in recent decades.

So my advice to the good people of the United States is to hold onto that rightful anger you feel over George Floyd's murder and harness it into a movement that has longevity. Choose and protect leaders that are squeaky clean and speak truth to power for everybody, because without leaders and a focal point to coalesce the will of the people into political change, history will simply be repeated…and that’s something the World cannot continue to endure.