The Jackal: August 2020

13 Aug 2020

Brownlee is a conspiracy theorist

Conspiracy theorist - Gerry Brownlee
What on earth is going on with the National Party? Now that Crusher Collins is in charge, it seems like it’s their policy to say really dumb things just to get attention. Unfortunately it’s working, with most of the mainstream media bending over backwards to provide Collins and her subordinates with the attention they clearly don’t deserve, right when we should be focusing instead on COVID-19.

Yesterday, the National Party’s deputy leader Gerry Brownlee insinuated that a conspiracy had occurred because the Government was asking people to prepare for a potential spread of COVID-19 in the community again. The public was encouraged to purchase masks prior to four new cases being discovered in Auckland, and Brownlee thought this was suspicious.

It’s the dumbest kind of campaigning, particularly because most people aren’t going to believe conspiracy theories when there’s absolutely no factual basis to support them. Coincidences occur all the time, and we should be grateful that the Government had the foresight to plan ahead for the potential of COVID-19 once again raising its ugly head in New Zealand.

Here’s the video where Brownlee attempts to besmirch the good character of the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield.

This actually says more about Brownlee than anyone else. Invariably one of our flaws as human beings is that we often judge others by our own standards. Gerry Brownlee must therefore have very low standards to accuse the Government of using COVID-19 cases for political gain. In fact what Brownlee is accusing other people of is likely what the National Party would be doing if we were unfortunate enough to still have them in Government.

But Brownlee isn’t the only problem here. By failing to censure her running mate, and in fact attempting to defend his remarkable stupidity, Judith Collins also appears to be relying on conspiracy theories and not facts in the campaign proper.

There is no question that the National Party should leave unfounded beliefs to the likes of the New Zealand Public Party, Vision NZ or the Conservative Party. Because there simply aren’t enough gullible Kiwis out there who will believe such far-fetched claims to make it worthwhile at the ballot box.

In fact the type of brain fart we just witnessed from Brownlee is likely to lose National support. And when you’re staring down the barrel of what is potentially your worst election defeat ever, painting a big target on your back as a conspiracy theorist definitely isn’t advised.

11 Aug 2020

SFO muzzles Jami-Lee Ross

Accused - Jami-Lee Ross
Nobody would think poorly of you if you wrote former National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross off as just another crackpot! After all, now that he’s hitched his Advance NZ wagon to conspiracy theorist Billy Te Kahika’s Public Party, there’s little chance of him ever redeeming himself or recovering any of his previously held credibility as a politician. But what people shouldn’t so easily dismiss is the case currently before the High Court in which the former National Party Chief Whip is one of the accused.

Ross, who along with then party leader Simon Bridges, was directly involved in the organising of secret donations to the National Party from prominent Chinese businessmen. Clearly he has insider knowledge about just how the substantive funds were arranged to try and keep them secret.

But despite this insider knowledge, Ross obviously didn’t know all the ins and outs of the case. He was recently provided further sensitive information by the Serious Fraud Office, reported to be a list of all undisclosed donations made to the National Party while he was still one of their Members of Parliament.

Today, the Times Online reported:

SFO welcomes court decision in Jami-Lee Ross case 

“The material was disclosed recently during the course of the agency’s compliance with its normal disclosure obligations,” the SFO statement said. 
“The SFO acted with an abundance of care in seeking the court order as one of the parties had reportedly expressed an interest in publishing the material. 
“The agency believes that any publication of the material would have breached the SFO’s secrecy provisions and been contrary to requirements of confidentiality applying to the use of material obtained through court proceedings.

The counter-argument here is that the public has a right to know exactly who has been donating large amounts of money, and in what sums, to the National Party. Whether this information is provided through the release of documents obtained during discovery or proper administrative procedures is largely beside the point.

In cases of party political donations, where foreign interests may have attempted or did indeed corrupt elected officials, the public clearly has a right to know every single little detail.

By keeping this information secret, the Serious Fraud Office and Courts of New Zealand are essentially shielding the National Party from public scrutiny. There’s no question that accountability is the bedrock of a functional political system. But by limiting the rightful release and examination of this kind of evidence the court is essentially not allowing the public to be the judge on issues the public has, I would argue, the ultimate right to adjudicate on.

Collins’ husband threatens legal action

We should all know by now that Judith Collins, who has openly said she simply doesn’t care if wetlands are destroyed in the pursuit of swamp Kauri, isn’t exactly an environmentalist.

In fact she has promised to roll back most of the small gains made by the Green Party in Government, including reversing the ban on new oil and gas exploration.

But what many Kiwis aren’t aware of is that her husband, David Wong-Tung, is also into destroying New Zealand's once pristine environment for profit.

Today, Newsroom reported:

Wong-Tung threatens to sue Newsroom 

A mining company director demands Newsroom take down a story on rehabilitation conditions agreed with DoC for a former site on conservation land 
National leader Judith Collins' husband is threatening defamation action against Newsroom over a story about a West Coast mine site that the conservation department allowed to be left in a state likened to a "moonscape" by a conservationist. 
David Wong-Tung, a director of the mining company involved, claims the story outlining criticisms of DoC's amendment of site restoration conditions for the Mikonui site, defames him and wants it pulled from and to be given an apology.

The rest of the report generally outlines why the threat of legal action, by a QC no less, isn’t warranted. In fact it’s patently obvious that Wong-Tung is using the threat of legal action in an attempt to shut the press up about the environmental damage his company has been allowed to cause.

The problem here for Collins, and to a lessor extent her husband, is that the environment (prior to COVID-19) was listed as the number one issue for New Zealanders. Obviously a clear majority of voters don’t want to see pictures of destroyed conservation estate native forests, which places the current leader of the opposition in a bit of a predicament.

Judith Collins could attempt to try and mislead Kiwis about her true intentions towards the environment, but unfortunately for the National Party most people will see right through the charade. I mean Crusher and her husband's clear conflict of interest is pretty hard to miss.

8 Aug 2020

Right wing delusions

National Party leader - Judith Collins
Elections often bring out the best and worst in politicians. Some rise to the occasion and provide us with a clear vision for the future. While others wallow in resentment and controversy, over-relying on attack politics to try to attain the interest of voters.

That’s been the case with the right so far this election campaign. They’ve gone completely negative and done the one thing I advised them not to do, attack the Prime Minister personally.

Clearly being caught up in numerous scandals and having no prospect of actually winning the September election isn’t good for their campaigning mindset. In fact instead of accepting reality, the right wing appear to be entirely delusional!

Take for instance the new leader of the opposition, Judith Collins. She has failed to stop the bleed of support away from the National Party, who fell to only 26.5% in the latest Roy Morgan poll. According to her, anything below 35% for National should mean the leader steps down. Clearly Crusher isn’t going to change that polling trend by campaigning with dirty political tactics and simply announcing more roads either.

Despite the research, which the right wing has continuously dismissed as being inaccurate or rogue polling, the leader of the Act Party, David Seymour, also believes that a centre-right coalition can win the next election.

Earlier this week, the NZ Herald reported:

David Seymour confident a centre-right government can win election 

National may be falling behind in the polls, but Act leader David Seymour is confident that the country will see a centre-right government return to power in September. 
The latest Colmar Brunton poll placed National at 32 per cent, slightly higher than the 25 per cent the Reid Research poll had them on. 
Both polls have shown that Labour could govern alone - with Colmar Brunton putting the government on 53 per cent.

How deluded do you have to be to think that the right wing, which is largely bereft of any new ideas, can somehow regain the support they’ve lost since the last election? I mean even their cheerleaders can see the writing on the wall.

On Wednesday, One News reported:

John Armstrong's opinion: To win, Judith Collins needs to pull off NZ's biggest upset since politics began 

It is quite simple. To win next month’s general election requires Judith Collins do one thing. She has to pull off what arguably would be the biggest election-related upset since the advent of party politics in New Zealand in the 1890s. 
To defeat Jacinda Ardern, Collins effectively has to defeat history. The odds on her doing so range between the minute and the miniscule. 
When it comes to shock results of general elections, upsets are few and far between.

As well as the dire polling, we also have National Party MP's not knowing their arses from their elbows. Former party leader Simon Bridges claimed yesterday that National could do a deal with NZ First, a statement that had to be clawed back by an obviously worn out Crusher Collins. It was a decidedly stupid thing to say, especially being that NZ First isn’t likely to get back into Parliament anyway.

Winston Peters doesn’t believe the scientific polling either, which puts his party in the very boggy swamp with only 1.5% support. Nobody except the most deluded believe that Peters has a chance, especially when you consider the recent wasting of taxpayers money on their mates pet projects. Then there’s the Serious Fraud Office case that will ensure right wing voters with a conscience will look elsewhere for a party to support.

The Labour Party however, despite a few small controversies, has kept their heads above water. This is largely due to the efforts of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has managed to get New Zealand through the COVID-19 economic crisis as well as achieve some significant improvements despite NZ First being a major handbrake on progress.

Labour is sitting pretty on 53.5% in the latest Roy Morgan poll, and only the most deluded right-wingers believe that the largest centre-left party won't be forming the next Government of New Zealand.

6 Aug 2020

Key is a fool

Property speculator - John Key
The National Party must be in dire straits to have to rely on John Key to campaign on their behalf. Not only has the former PM been in the news claiming the recently released unemployment figures aren’t accurate, the fool has also been promoting the opening up of our borders to let wealthy speculators buy up houses, so that the property bubble doesn’t burst.

But if that wasn’t enough stupidity for one day, Key has also been promoting the flawed idea that universities are capable of running isolation and quarantine facilities and therefore wealthy international students should be allowed back into the country.

There is of course a very big problem with the right wing's argument to reduce border restrictions, COVID-19. Evidence shows countries that opted for fewer restrictions are now facing a prolonged economic downturn.

New Zealand however is in an enviable position of not only having a functioning economy…but also no community spread of the deadly virus. But don’t tell that to the deluded John Key.

Yesterday, Newstalk ZB reported:

Sir John Key: Unemployment figures 'not accurate'; wants more foreign investment 

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key wants to encourage rich Americans to buy New Zealand property to help reduce the impact of a looming "financial crisis". 
He told Heather du Plessis-Allan that border restrictions should be loosened so that universities and companies could bring in foreign students and skilled workers and pay for their own quarantine. 
And he said foreigners buying New Zealand property would provide work for Kiwis whose jobs are disappearing. 
"Let's focus on what we can do. We've got this crazy foreign buyer ban," he said.

So a dishonest property speculator is advocating for more foreign property speculation to increase his profit margins. Foreign speculation, which was something the National Party severely downplayed while John Key was in power, is why thousands of Kiwis are currently priced out of the property market. Unfortunately in New Zealand you can no longer work your way into home ownership by doing a normal nine to five job, because houses have become an over-priced commodity, largely due to offshore investors.

It’s also pretty stupid to argue that sinking even more money into housing is good for the economy. Most of the time the money attained just sits in a rich persons bank account doing nothing except making them richer. It’s not an investment that's beneficial to New Zealand either, because it simply ensures more inflationary pressure and therefore increases the number of Kiwis who cannot afford to buy a house.

In fact one could argue that keeping hard working Kiwi families renting forever and effectively in the poverty trap is bad for the actual economy. It certainly isn't good in terms of social cohesion. Invariably it's much better to invest in productive industries that create employment opportunities rather than overpriced and often empty houses that don't employ hardly anyone.

"Why don't we let in rich Americans who want to build a house in New Zealand? Who cares? They're in Mangawhai or somewhere, they are going to create thousands of jobs. 
"Why do we care if someone who lives in New York wants to spend $10 million building a house in Auckland, using NZ craftsmen and NZ tradespeople?"

Why do we care if rich Americans put even more pressure on our recourses using scarce tradespeople to build houses that will likely sit empty? Good god John Key is so stupid! It’s no wonder the housing problem became a crisis under his watch. The man is so blinded by his own self-interest that he simply cannot see the bigger picture.

Besides, why exactly would you risk people’s lives just for a short-term bump to the economy anyway, when the long-term result would be financially and socially catastrophic for New Zealand?

Key is also on the wrong side of history here. 68% of Kiwis want the border restrictions to continue, even if that means an economic recession. That’s a clear majority not wanting to risk community spread of COVID-19 in God’s own. That is also therefore a majority of Kiwis who won’t be voting National at the next election.

1 Aug 2020

Operation Burnham: cover-up

Former National Minister - Wayne Mapp
You could tell that the Hit and Run book by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson was right on the money by the way former National Party Minister of Defence, Wayne Mapp, reacted to its now largely vindicated claims.

Even though the recent inquiry into what was clearly a revenge operation has found that there was no attempted cover-up, it’s patently obvious that the previous Government and New Zealand Defence Force did in fact attempt to hide the civilian casualties caused during Operation Burnham.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Operation Burnham: What happened with the SAS during a deadly incursion in Afghanistan 

Cover-up claims not true - inquiry 
The report states there was "no organised institutional strategy to cover up civilian casualties" but NZDF made several incorrect and misleading statements in briefings to Ministers and to the public. 
A senior defence official who was deployed in Afghanistan showed an "inexcusable lack of care and rigor" in misrepresenting the findings of an International Security Assistance Force investigation into claims of civilian casualties, the inquiry found. 
Senior Defence staff didn't question his comments, despite being provided information - including video footage, intelligence reporting and ISAF media releases, which contradicted them, the report said. 
"NZDF failed to adequately remedy its earlier incorrect statements and advice, even after it knew they were wrong." 
Defence officials continued to repeat its incorrect statements to the public and to ministers "due to failures of organisational structure, systems and culture," it said. 
NZDF personnel also removed the possibility of civilian casualties during the Operation from reports, it found.

Which is the definition of a cover-up.

Former Defence Minister Wayne Mapp failed to correct this and "continued the false narrative" that there were no civilian casualties, despite knowing it was possible, the inquiry found. 
"This was a significant departure from the standards expected of Ministers," the report said.

Nobody should believe Mapp when he claims to have simply forgotten about being briefed on civilian casualties, including an 8 to 10 year old child being killed, during Operation Burnham. The lame excuse he provides, that he likely forgot about the briefing because of the death of a New Zealand soldier, which happened at about the same time, is obviously completely bogus!

When former Ministers of the Crown and Senior Defence officials attempt to mislead investigators and the public on serious issues such as children being murdered, you know that there must be changes made to the structure as well as the culture within the NZDF.

Because if New Zealand isn't going to provide the Afghani victims and their families with justice, then we must do everything within our power to ensure this type of war crime never happens again.