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Monday, January 31, 2011

Options for Hone Harawira

Hone Harawira's public criticism of the way the party - the leaders - have compromised with National was calculated to get a reaction. When I read his Sunday Star Times column I thought he meant to address the question of coalition compromises directly and fire the party up for the election - positioning the party as far to the left as he can. As a way to signal a tougher deal must be struck if the party is to go with National again it's not a bad gambit to have one angry cop to play off when the time comes. But this isn't part of any statagem, this is Hone being Hone, playing a cowboy rather than a cop and he went too far, by any standard, and the whip was forced to act. But does it mean Hone wants out? I'm not sure if he knows what he wants.

I'm currently in Te Ururoa's electorate and the feeling here is that although there is some sympathy for the content of Hone's righteous outburst, there is a strong dislike for his style. They are getting bored with his antics. Te Ururoa himself is on a collision course, he wants him out. He is the most obvious candidate for a ministerial position and as Mr Bradbury has noted in the post below it is in National's best interests to get rid of Harawira - and promote Te Ururoa. There must be caucus dynamics unknown beyond the group of five, but Hone and Te Ururoa working together successfully after this complaint is dealt with seems almost impossible - no matter what the official outcome.

Now it has escalated to this crisis what are the options?

The chances of Hone just taking another slap on the wrist with a disciplinary telling off and it all going away is so very unlikely now it has got to this stage. The chances of taking over leadership of the party is nil. The mo-fo comments were just too much for the bulk of the elderly party members. Will he or won't he leave the Maori Party? Will he become an independent? Will he run as an independent?

Hone isn't just in this for Hone he is in this for his electorate - the Maori of the North. What is the best way to get that? To get into government - to become a minister and deliver. Are we supposed to believe he has no such ambition and he is just happy being the member for Te Tai Tokerau? If he stays with the party he will never be on the inside and because he's on the outside he'll never be a minister and never be in a position to deliver his electorate anything other than leaflets. The only way he can progress to leadership or have ministerial responsibility and policy initiative is to leave the party. That's how it looks at the moment.

Hone can only be a player if he breaks with the party. This gives him an incentive to become an independent, and then - like Peter Dunne - have a shot at getting his pet projects done as a minister if the electoral chips fall the right way. For Hone, the left way. However, as a party leader of a political movement that could pull in other MPs and have real influence in a coalition then there is even more incentive to break with the party.

The problem is then one of accommodation. If the Maori Party stood a candidate against Hone then Labour could come in through the middle and take the seat back. That would not be in the best interests of Maori given Labour's past misdeeds. If they don't stand a candidate they look weak. If Hone starts a party and contests the other Maori electorates then Labour could squeeze back into Te Tai Tonga and even Tamaki Makaurau on the split vote. As far as the maths goes a new left party with Hone as the anchor electorate is a good deal... for the Pakeha lefties who will get in on his coattails. To be a good deal for Maori - which is what Hone is all about - is another question. Him being leader, or co-leader, of a parliamentary party that must share internal power and tikanga with Pakeha would be a difficult mix, but it is quite possible. Hone's leadership and suitability for ministerial collective responsibility is a proposition that would appall a majority to contemplate no doubt but any electoral showing that takes MPs with him means he can be expected to start making deals and sitting at the top table and all the discipline that involves. If the numbers are tight Phil will have to pick up the phone and start the korero with Hone.

That's all if he wants it. And at the moment it looks like the party doesn't want him, so he'll be forced into asking the same questions they are and we are.

If Hone goes independent and then forms a new left party I would suggest they reach an accommodation in the Maori Electorates. To avoid friction at a party level from the bad blood that will come when half the Tai Tokerau electorate members defect to Hone's outfit and to act in the interests of having an authentic Maori voice in the House, the Maori Party will not stand a candidate against him - and his party won't stand candidates in the other six seats. That may have to be the deal for this election, next election the truce is over. The Tai Tokerau Maori Party members who leave for Hone's vehicle will come back when he is gone - meanwhile they will have to regather their forces to campaign for the party vote. Hone on the other hand will be driving a very simple message in the Maori electorates - your party vote is wasted on the Maori Party, party vote for Hone's new left party and you won't lose a single Maori MP, and you will gain a couple of pro-Maori left MPs.

New Left Party odds go up

Bradford confirms Leftist party talk
Talk of a new Left-wing party is gathering steam, with veteran activist Sue Bradford confirming behind-the-scenes discussions and revealing she would consider leading it if asked.

Expectations are growing in Left-wing circles that renegade Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira could be the lightning rod for a new movement if the rift between him and the Maori Party hierarchy ends in divorce.

Mr Harawira faces disciplinary proceedings after Maori Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell complained about a newspaper article that was highly critical of the party's relationship with National.

Efforts to resolve the complaint without a formal disciplinary hearing failed after Mr Harawira's electorate excluded party leaders from a hui last week, and it now seems increasingly likely he will either leave or be expelled.

He has left open questions of whether or not he would form a new party if he was cast into the political wilderness – a notable shift from his previous insistence that he was interested only in the Maori Party.

He did not return calls yesterday.

Ms Bradford, a former Green MP, said the row posed a major threat to the Maori Party, which was facing mounting internal criticism over its support for National.

"The Maori Party is a total mess now. They have so betrayed their base and now Hone is out there painting the picture in words of one syllable.

"If some other party or individual [comes along], I think they're done for. Even Pita [Sharples] isn't that strong if a credible candidate is put up against him."

She said a lot of discussion on a new Left-wing party was "happening under the surface", but she would not be drawn on who was involved or what was being discussed.

The odds for a new left party on Ipredict have just gone up while the mainstream media slowly start to get their heads around the New Left Party prediction I made on backbenchers last year. Indeed Patrick Gower breathlessly misconstrues Hone's intent to take over the leadership of the Maori Party.

Here is what is actually happening. the National Party have realized that even IF Rodney wins Epsom, he won't bring in any MP's with him because their 3.6% party vote last time was bloated by the Sensible Sentencing Trust's raw meat law and order policy. Post David Garrett's jaw dropping hypocrisy, that political brand is dead and as such National will need to rely on the Maori Party, they can only do that if Hone has been kicked out.

Hence Mai Chen and her $25 000 price tag and because the Maori Party are suffering from Stockholm syndrome with mana enhanced baubles on promise post election Hone is being made to walk the plank.

The issue for Hone is how can he best fight this anti-worker, anti-beneficiary, anti-environment Government.

1: Can he do it best by taking over the leadership of the Maori Party?

2: Can he do it best by being an independent?

3: Or can he do it best by launching a New Left Party and with his electorate seat aim to pull a 2% Party vote bringing into power Matt McCarten and Sue Bradford?

The first would be great, but as powerful as Hone is, the rest of the Maori Party leadership have the numbers to block him.

The second would do little in altering the MMP math meaning this anti-worker, anti-beneficiary, anti-environment Government would still win.

The third option would alter the MMP math and give Hone his best chance to halt this anti-worker, anti-beneficiary, anti-environment Government while doing more for Maori outside of the Maori Party than inside it.

Currently there is over 2% in wasted Party vote that goes to the Maori Party, I say wasted because the Maori Party vote would need over 5% for them to gain another member off the Maori Party list because of their high electorate ratios. If Maori Party voters wanted a strong Maori voice, rather than waste their party vote on the Maori Party, they could make it count by giving it to a New Left Party.

Labour (whom invited me to their State of the Nation address) and the Greens (whom did not invite me to their's) would not need to see a New Left Party as a threat as the attempt would not be to cannibalize their vote, it would be to add another ally in the MMP math required to stop this anti-worker, anti-beneficiary, anti-environment Government.

Next month the Government release their ideologically stacked Welfare Razor Gang reforms. Beneficiaries represent 14% of the 2008 electorate, those beneficiaries need to ask themselves who would they want in their corner fighting for their interests as Paula Bennett lines them up for the mother of all cut backs. Do they want Sue Bradford who has fought for the rights of the unemployed all her life in their corner? Do they want Hone Harawira who has fought for the rights of those hurt most by recessions and social alienation all his life in their corner and do they want Matt McCarten who has fought for the rights of minimum wage earners all his life in their corner?

There is much to discuss and Hone needs to decide where he can most effectively fight this anti-worker, anti-beneficiary, anti-environment Government.

John Key starts channeling Italian PM in locker room chat with girlfriend basher

John Key's celebrity crushes
Prime Minister John Key has revealed his celebrity crushes and says he's envious of Shane Warne's ongoing fling with a "hot" Liz Hurley.

Key – who is married to his childhood sweetheart, Bronagh – opened up about what high-profile women set his heart aflutter on Tony Veitch's Radio Sport breakfast show on Friday following questions about his sporting idols.

Proving he's a typical Kiwi bloke Key said that if he could be any sporting star he'd be an All Blacks captain but added he wouldn't mind taking a swing at being Tiger Woods either.

"Obviously for the money I would be Tiger Woods. You get paid a truckload of money," he said, adding "there are other benefits that clearly come with the job" too.

The conversation took a sexy turn after Veitch asked the jovial PM if he'd like to be love-rat Warnie. "Yeah, well given his current liaisons with Liz Hurley," Key said.

"I like Liz Hurley actually. I reckon she is hot." Key, who has two teenagers, Stephie and Max, admitted that Hurley was a "definite" in his dream date top three, adding that she's "slightly older".

When asked who else was on his wish list Key said "there are a range". He later said Sin City star "Jessica Alba looked pretty hot" despite her latest movie, Little Fockers, being "rubbish" and that Brad Pitt's squeeze, Angelina Jolie "is not too bad" either.

What on earth does he think he's doing?

couple of questions...

1: What the bloody hell is the Prime Minister of NZ doing on the radio show of a domestic abuser? After kicking the crap out of his girlfriend on the floor, Veitch is to polite company what gonoreah is to romance. Why is John Key joking it up about who he's 'hot' for with someone who is a poster boy for Women's Refuge?

2: Why is the Prime Minister channeling Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi? Isn't it a bit off that the Prime Minister of our country is telling Veitchy who he thinks is hot? I mean other than it being a bit of a slap in the face to his own wife, HE'S THE PRIME MINISTER FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! You're not in a locker room having a couple of beers watching a prono at a stag party John, you run the country.

Please Mr Key. Stick to explaining why you are selling off our assets rather than listing hot women you'd like to bed.

Citizen A on line now

Citizen A this week with bloggers Cameron Slater and Phoebe Fletcher

Issue one: Phil Goff gave his state of the Nation address in New Lynn while John Key gave his in Henderson, Goff says the fist $5000 will be tax free while John Key wants to privatize assets and implement austerity measures. No one can pretend that National and Labour are fighting over the centre ground any more. Who won?

Issue two: Did Rodney Hide's concession to appoint 38 unelected Maori to Auckland Council committees just cost ACT the Epsom seat?

Issue three tonight: Len wants Auckland to be a Green city with a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% - Great idea or wanky nonsense?

Citizen A plays on screen 7pm Thursday on Triangle and 8pm Sunday Sky 89 & Freeview 21
Citizen A Facebook

Breaking news: John Key supports Mubarak's dictatorship

For all those that suspected National are not so hot on democracy, this morning Key issued proof by publicly announcing his support for Egyptian dictator Mubarak on Breakfast. Stumbling and seemingly unable to pronounce the Iranian President Ahmadinejad's name, Key went on to discuss how important freedom and democracy were in New Zealand, a sentiment he clearly does not extend to other countries.

The journalism in New Zealand has been nothing short of appalling, which is perhaps one reason why Key seems so confused (once again) on international politics. Call me a news snob, but I really don't care how Frank Bunce felt or, in what has to be one of the worst stories of all time, Anne Penketh's completely devoid of context piece on how frightened she was trying to get to the hotel. At least it's not as bad as the standard of journalism where - if this slide is to be believed - Fox News appear to have renamed Iraq as Egypt on the world map.

One sign that Key is seriously off the mark in his comments on Egypt is that even US politicians are speaking more delicately than him. Obama's administration has pledged their support for Mubarak, but stated that he needs to deal with the protesters democratically. Key is right that the Egyptian protests will upset Israel, but has made no mention of the oppressive dictatorship that has characterized Egyptian politics for the last 30 years. In Key's mind, he would rather they stayed that way.

Kragen Sitaker summarizes the issues that have led Egyptian youth to the streets well in the piece below:

Why Egypt's popular rebellion is the most important historical event in a decade, and how Obama missed the boat

For readers who don’t know much about Egypt, like most Americans, here’s my attempt to sum up a country of 80 million people in three minutes.

Egypt is not a republic, any more than the People’s Republic of China is. Egypt is a brutal dictatorship, governed by the same dictator since 1981, 29 of those years under state-of-emergency regulations. That dictator, Hosni Mubarak, was the vice-president of the previous dictator, Anwar Sadat, who in turn was the vice-president of the dictator before him, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had held absolute power since 1956. Egypt has been under one-party rule since 1952, and although the ruling party has changed its name several times, it has never yielded its power.

Egypt has gradually declined in influence and quality of life throughout Mubarak’s reign.

The protesters are by and large not violent; this is a myth being propagated by western media coverage. They were led by young people inspired by the events in Tunisia. As the photo that begins this post demonstrates, one of the forms of resistance that is repeatedly coming out in photos from the region is that protesters have been kissing riot police. In the face of a strong Government response that has included shutting down Twitter, Facebook, cellphones, kicking out Al Jazeera, and reportedly cutting landlines soon, the struggle continues. These are ordinary people on the streets; the protest is not being led by the Muslim brotherhood as some news sources are insinuating. Sure some protesters have taken up stones, but eyewitness accounts converge in saying that this is a later development in response to the American tear gas that has been repeatedly fired at them. With at least 100 dead, thousands injured and reports coming out of tortured corpses being dropped on the street by those suspected to be Government, Mubarak could do the people of his country a massive reduction in violence by kissing his undemocratic rule goodbye. Instead he has deployed F16 fighter jets, a move that our Prime Minister clearly supports.

Soumaya Ghannoushi writes a great piece for Al Jazeera on why such complete misconceptions on the region circulate so widely, called The Propagation of Neo-Orientalism, a piece that references influential cultural studies scholar Edward Said's most influential work. Ghannoushi points to some frightening impacts that these heavily spun news reports are having on people's general knowledge (most notably, only 9% of BBC and ITN viewers knew that when the phrase 'occupied territories' was used it referred to the Israelis as occupier, most thought that the Palestinians were extending their settlements into Israeli territory).

The spin in the US media is currently that the protesters are violent and undemocratic, as covered by Phillip Weiss in this piece. Obama is avoiding using the 'D' word (and I mean democracy) as the US begins to worry about what the impact of having movements towards Arab democracy will mean to their arms exports.

While Key's idiocy might pay tribute to his lack of knowledge on North African politics, one has to wonder if he gets any foreign policy advice before he shoots his mouth off. The reason why even Hillary Clinton is cagey is that the current events in this region threaten the current power balance of the US's economic interests in this region.

The US has been pretty keen to support dictatorships in this region in the past, despite their loud cries of bringing democracy and freedom to the Arab world. One thing that looks certain if Mubarak goes (and he is likely to) is that the country will sever their economic ties with the US, who currently supply all the weapons that are being used on the people of his nation. The US also curiously just committed to a US$50 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia despite it being the home of Wahhabism. Such deals might be increasingly under the scrutiny of the populous, which is hardly a bad thing in the face of countries that disguise their lucrative arms trades under the guise of pretty public relations. The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia which have prompted demonstrations in Yemen, Lebanon and Algeria show the significance of this movement. The fact that they are being fueled by the release of the Palestine Papers on Al Jazeera and The Guardian that reveal Palestinians weak in the face of Israeli and US pressure signals a potential shift in the geopolitics in the region. If Obama and Clinton can recognize this, why can't Key?

UPDATE: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has now said that she expects democratic elections will come out of the uprising for Egypt. So why does Key support Mubarak and say that the protesters are causing unrest?

John Key supports Mubarak

I'm sorry - WHAT? John Key supports Mubarak??? He supports a Dictator because he's worried a democratic Egypt would threaten Israel??? Since when did we support dictators for Israel?

I'm so very glad that the good people of Egypt are in the middle of over throwing their Western backed dictatorship. The West loves to talk freedom and democracy, but the hypercritical truth of course is that we want freedom and democracy FOR US not 'them'. 'Them' get dictatorships installed and told what to do.

I'm hopeful that the people of Egypt can pull away and form their own democracy, the problem is we in the West probably won't let that happen. The people of Algeria - where Ahmed Zaoui was an MP, tried democracy for the first time in the 90s and of course the moment it looked like an Islamic Party was going to win, the West kicked off a coup and Ahmed Zaoui fled. Hilariously Richard Woods (who is now jaw droppingly on the Independent Police Conduct Authority) wrongfully held Ahmed Zaoui in solitary confinement for 10 months, bad Ahmed for trying to implement democracy. Ahmed of course now runs a kebab shop in Palmerston North, so much for the most dangerous terrorist in NZ.

As far as the West is concerned, it's only democracy when the dictator we support wins.

John Key is lying about privatization of our state assets

You know the drums of privatization are beating when the corporate mainstream media have their tongue so far up John Key's arse that they make Tibetan throat singing sound like perfectly articulated Shakespeare.

Three stories in the Weakend Herald focused on Phil Goff's hair colour. It's not the hair that's died, it's the quality of journalism.

Audrey Young embarrasses herself with her weak analysis of Key's decision to privatize our State Assets that we have all already paid for, she claims that Key can water down the sales if they start to turn the polls, this is a lie. Key has already stated he'll lose the election rather than not sell and that protests will not budge him from this decision.

She is excusing him, not holding him to account and that is what we are seeing in apologist editorial after apologist editorial is the interests of the corporate elite being expressed, not the interests of the people.

Why are the editorials ignoring Keith Ng?
Election 2011: GO!
Yes, you can sell your house to pay off the mortgage, then you’ll be mortgage-free. But you’ll also be minus a house. In New Zealand’s case, we can sell our SOEs to pay off debt, which means we’d pay less interest to overseas creditors. But if we sold the SOEs to foreigners, then we’d just end up paying dividends to foreign investors instead.

Why are the editorials ignoring Selwyn Pellet?
John Key's 'Smile and Wave' on asset sales won't cut the mustard
Both the media and the public need to look deeper than the carefully constructed sound bites coming from the government on its asset sales plan, because the long term consequences for New Zealand are massive. In effect John Key has, by resurrecting a failed strategy from our past, signaled that he and his government have no idea how to grow the economy and demonstrated that National’s ideological views are driving its decisions without reference to the reality of the situation we find ourselves in.

Sweet Jesus, why are the editorials ignoring the bloody Treasury?
Foreigners will buy asset shares - Treasury
Foreign corporates could end up with big stakes in state-owned power companies within a decade of them being partially-sold, according to a Treasury assessment. A ''think piece'' prepared at the end of last year says partial sales of power companies Meridian, Mighty River Power and Genesis and state-owned coal miner Solid Energy could see ''possible cornerstone stakes by energy multinationals'' within ten years. The prediction could prove embarrassing for National as it tries to garner support for plans to sell up to 49 per cent of the companies

The total lack of scrutiny of Key's ridiculous excuses to privatize is inexcusable especially when those reasons are so easy to attack and dismantle, in fact the intellectual laziness he has used to justify flogging off our assets suggest Key was pushed over the holidays into using his smile and wave political capital to calm the Auckland business mafia who bank rolled the 2008 election campaign rather than any genuine rational for a privatization agenda.

Key claims we need to privatize our assets to avoid a Standard and Poor's credit downgrade because our debt is so high, this is a lie. It's not Government debt that is high, it's private debt! NZ only spent 1.22% of GDP on debt-servicing in 2010! Cullen did the right thing by paying down the Government debt during the good years, it's the private debt, the student loans, the credit card hyper consumer culture, the property speculation all fueled on cheap credit that is to blame - NOT Government investment into society!

Key claims to use the privatization of our assets to pay down our debt, but we are currently borrowing a Billion per month, he hopes to get $10 billion from these sales, that's 10 months worth of borrowing he will get, I've heard of short term solutions, but privatizing our assets for less than a years benefit is a smile and wave too far!

Key has said 'Mum and Dad' investors so often he sounds like a parrot with a cracker (or should that be a cracker with a parrot?). This is spin, once sold to 'mum and dad investors' they are free to sell to whom the like, and as the Treasury papers point out, they will end up in the hands of over seas investors. Bill English couldn't justify why he wouldn't sell the remaining 51% on Radio NZ on Friday, and if John Key says we need the money now, what will change in 10 months time when he needs more money? John Key lied to our faces about not raising GST, why believe him now?

Of the 300 million we are borrowing every week, $120 million is for the tax cuts. You want to lower our borrowing while generating more revenue, reverse the tax cuts for those on the top!

I've always pointed out the first term would be Labour-lite and that it would be the second term that we saw the creamy full bodied right wing National Party at it's worst, and now we have it.

John Key isn't ideological, he is theological when it comes to privatization, he's basing it all on free market faith right when the free market has shown itself up for the corrupt system of greed it ultimately becomes without Keynesian managed capitalism.

Key wants this issue to be discussed around the middle management water cooler with knowing nods and sage 'got to make the hard choices' hubris as if that justifies making the same privatization mistakes again at a time when free market theory has imploded. Goff wants to discuss the issue around the kiwi kitchen table to those whom are bearing the brunt of the recession, his challenge is to get that message through to an electorate fed hair dye stories by the content decisions of News Editors more focused on light entertainment than holding the powerful to account.

It's the Kitchen Table vs the Water cooler election.

Forget China, panic about free trade with America

We are concerned at the idea of China with it's massive economic might having some hold over us when it comes to buying assets here, yet almost unnoticed has been this free trade deal John Key is secretly negotiating before the election which will have much negative impact on our future economic sovereignty than anything China is attempting.

The oxymoronically named 'free trade' deal will do the following...

More expensive medicines

No local content in broadcasting

Weaker controls on overseas investment in NZ

Foreign investors suing the Government for millions in offshore tribunals

Weaker regulation of the financial services

Undermining action on climate change

Delays and restrictions on agricultural market access to the US

John Key breathlessly told a complaint mainstream media that we would make "billions and billions" from this free trade deal with America and the complaint mainstream media breathlessly repeated those claims with no critical analysis of his claims whatsoever.

How humiliating for our compliant mainstream uncritical media then when wikileaks reveals the "billions and billions" claims is utter nonsense and an out right lie...

US free-trade deal suspect
A FREE-TRADE deal with the United States may not be the economic miracle it's been painted as.

New Zealand's chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair privately told a visiting US State Department official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement. This view – recorded in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks – differs from the one the public has been given.

When the US joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in November last year, Prime Minister John Key said it could be worth "billions and billions" to New Zealand, and that a deal would "position New Zealand brilliantly for growth".

But in a meeting in February, Sinclair told US Deputy Assistant Frankie Reed "there is a public perception that getting into the US will be an `El Dorado' for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different".

He said New Zealand would need to "manage" public expectations about the benefits of a US free-trade agreement.

...we must stop John Key's smile and wave from signing us up to a deal with America that will decimate our economic sovereignty and I urge people to sign the online petition attempting to block this madness.

John Key is lying to us about this deal making us "billions and billions" in the exact same way Gerry Brownlee lied to us about billions to be made from mining in conservation land.

The Inside Job

I saw the Inside Job last year during the International Film festival, and it was largely ignored then, but it has had a second life with a wider release and the true enormity of the corrupt fiasco that brought down the global economy is now getting traction the way the Inconvenient Truth did, here was my review

Inside Job
Directors: Charles Ferguson

This is the doco of the year. The stock market collapsed of 2008 has sparked a crises of capitalism on the scale of the 1929 stock market collapse and Keynesian managed capitalism created to prevent such rampant unregulated capitalism has been swept aside by neo liberal Milton Friedman low tax, deregulation, free market dogma.

This doco is a jaw clenching journey behind the scenes of the 2008 financial crises with historical contextualization of the differing political theories focusing on the rise and rise and rise of unregulated financial institutions. The revolving door between financial regulator and financial abuser has to be seen to be believed.

The cast of interviews is vast. Singapore's leader, the French Finance Minister, Wall St Journal, the bank of China plus all the domestic political and economic interests. It is a quality documentary and the reactions of regulators caught asleep at the wheel is hilarious and deeply worrying at the same time.

This should get an Academy nod.

Prepare to get angry.

5 stars

The Labour Party should be holding film review fundraisers using this film the way the Greens did with An Inconvenient Truth. It spikes the right wing's faith in the deregulation that John Key is trying to implement right now and the sense of fury one has when they leave the doco can be easily transferred to this Government for adopting the same free market dogma.

After viewing the doco, you too will be demanding to know why the weakest and most vulnerable in society should be forced to do with less when they had no hand in the greedy corruption that brought the global economy crashing down.

blue + green = green wash

Drive for 'green growth' initiatives
The Government has set up a group to advise on "green growth" initiatives.

I'm sorry what? I laughed so hard at this over the weekend, the National Party forming this group to advise on 'green growth' is like Geoege W Bush forming a group to advise on bombing for peace.

This is a Government who wanted to rape conservation land with mining based on lobbyist valuations that were a joke using a false Eden Park analogy.

This is a Government who dumped 100% pure as a tourism brand to water down the criticism that we are environmental hypocrites.

This is a Government who stole the water rights from South Islanders so that they could hand over more water rights to Farmers who pollute and filthy our clean streams.

This is a Government who want to privatize our state assets so that they can take the money from assets we collectively own and hand it over to the Dairy industry for MORE irrigation for MORE cows for MORE pollution.

And this is a Government who are allowing Solid Energy to build a lignite production facility in Bill English's electorate to power his Brother's Federated Farmer's industry cheaply yet we have 1000MegaWatts of wind power and between 360Megawatts and 630MegaWatts of hyrdro power yet to be tapped into, so why, oh why would we use the dirtiest, filthiest 18th century technology for the 21st century?

That this Government are now trying to cover themselves in the bluegreen cloak to hide their environmental vandalism is a joke only the slow would believe in.

Rugby World Cup Dictatorship

Fiji dictator's World Cup freebie
NEW ZEALAND faces the embarrassing prospect of being forced to host Fiji military coup leader Frank Bainimarama as a VIP during the Rugby World Cup, even though he is blacklisted from entering this country.

And it's possible Bainimarama's convicted killer brother-in-law, Francis Kean, could also attend the tournament if he is successful in staging his own coup and takes over as chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union.

Both men would be hosted at the taxpayer's expense, and their VIP treatment is expected to cost around $45,000. Under International Rugby Board rules, the host nation pays for two officials from each participating nation to attend.

I'm sorry, what? So aside from all the corporate manufactured hoopla for sponsors of the Rugby World Cup and the Nation's psyche taking a depressive death spiral if we choke with the oppressive spike in domestic violence that accompanies, beyond all that - we have to bloody well host a dictator and his killer brother-in-law?

Tell me this is some sick joke?

The head of Slytherin House, Murray McCully, gave himself vast powers over the Rugby World Cup, yet he can't stop a dictator and convicted killer rolling into town for a piss up?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why are we giving the SIS more powers in secret?

Report into Wilce's appointment finds SIS failure
The Security and Intelligence Service failed to follow basic procedures when it granted a security clearance to Stephen Wilce, the former director of defence technology, Prime Minister John Key said today.

Look, I appreciate that large chunks of NZ love smile and wave John Key, he sells aspiration to you in the same way a piece of cheese on a stick slightly out or reach aspires the rat to keep mindlessly running on the mouse wheel.

I appreciate that.


Come on, why the Christ should any of us allow the bloody Secret Intelligence Service new powers that will be given to to them in secret?

SIS Amendments - “We Do Not Need to Know.”
Keith Locke, Helen Kelly and Nicky Hager will be joining forces in Wellington on Tuesday, 1st February, to discuss the expanded powers of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) that will be rushed through Parliament in the coming month.

John Key introduced the SIS Amendment Bill in the House just before Parliament broke up for summer. Submissions close on 18th February.

“It gives little time for public discussion, but that's what Key prefers,” said Anna Cocker from OASIS, the group organising the meeting. “Key wants secrecy about this Bill. He does not want public scrutiny of it.”

Why should the SIS who are so incompetent that they couldn't even do a basic CV check on a fantasist they gave a top security level clearance to in the NZ military be given expanded powers that will be granted to them in secret?

* That the SIS did not check with its counterpart overseas agencies to see what they knew about Mr Wilce. This was contrary to standard practice in cases where the application for a securing clearance had worked overseas;

* That the SIS did not follow up on Mr Wilce's failure to disclose convictions once a police check revealed that he had convictions; and

* That the SIS did not record or follow up on information received on Mr Wilce after the announcement of his appointment.

Come on, I know John Key smiles and waves, but you can't be this stupid NZ?

Can you?


Blackwater corporate mercenaries back to their filthy ways

Shadowy figure finds a new war
Erik Prince, whose Blackwater Worldwide company became synonymous with private United States security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has quietly taken on a new job, helping to train troops in lawless Somalia.

Prince is involved in a multimillion-dollar programme financed by several Arab countries to mobilise about 2000 Somali recruits to fight pirates who are terrorising the African coast, according to a person familiar with the project and an intelligence report seen by AP.

His name has surfaced in the Somalia conflict amid the debate over how private security forces should be used in some of the world's most dangerous spots.

Blackwater are corporate mercenaries who have built an empire out of butchering civilians and enemy combatants alike, and are the must vulgar expansion of American military power.

The fact these pieces of shit get away with murder is not a surprise, that it is so blatant is the shock...

US Contractors In Afghanistan Violated Gun Policy, Says US Military
KABUL — Four U.S. contractors for the company formerly known as Blackwater were not authorized to carry weapons when they were involved in a deadly shooting in Afghanistan this month, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

...and they continue their dirty tricks that give them the political power to fend off criminal prosecution...

Blackwater in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD — The notorious US security firm Blackwater has reportedly established a presence in the restive tribal belt on the Afghan borders to help the FBI and CIA track down Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants allegedly hiding there and protect USAID projects.

...and dirty tricks in Afghanistan to cripple rivals...

Blackwater Assumes Police Powers in Afghanistan – To Eliminate Rivals?
sarabeth at 1115 has dug out a rather astounding bit of news from an Associated Press story about yet another crooked Texas security contractor, this one doing business primarily in Afghanistan on a contract with USAID to provide security for construction sites and mine-clearing. The lede involves the usual folderol – accusations of over-billing in the $$Millions$$ and dubious hiring practices involving ex-militia - but deep into the story sarabeth caught this:

The American security official said agents from the private security firm Blackwater USA raided USPI’s Kabul office last month and seized computers and office files.

...and let's not overlook Blackwaters new friend in President Obama...

Blackwater Got Gig Protecting Obama In Afghanistan
Sen. Barack Obama has not been a fan of private police like Blackwater in war zones, and some news outlets even reported that they were spurned for his trip last week to Afghanistan and Iraq. But Whispers confirms that Blackwater did handle the Democratic presidential candidate's security in Afghanistan and helped out in Iraq. What's more, Obama was overheard saying: "Blackwater is getting a bad rap." Since everything appeared to go swimmingly, maybe he will take firms like Blackwater out of his sights, the company's supporters hope.

The danger of allowing corporate mercenaries to have this level of power within conflicts is obvious. The US Military is responsible to the US Government, Blackwater however is immune to prosecution and don't follow any rules when in battle. Their corporate and political muscle makes sure that they and their multitude of subsidiary corporations are never in any real danger of accountability...

Blackwater Operating in Afghanistan on Subcontract with Raytheon
For those of you who have been following the intricacies of the various ongoing Blackwater/Xe scandals (hard to keep up with indeed), the situation unfolding in Kabul is certainly on your radar. In short, four Blackwater/Xe operatives working for Paravant LLC, a subsidiary of Blackwater/Xe are alleged to have fired on a civilian car they say they saw as a threat, killing at least one Afghan civilian. According to The Wall Street Journal’s August Cole, “At least some of the men, who were former military personnel, had been allegedly drinking alcohol that evening, according to a person familiar with the incident. Off-duty contractors aren’t supposed to carry weapons or drink alcohol.”

The US military said the incident took place in Kabul on May 5. “While stopped for the vehicle accident, the contractors were approached by a vehicle in a manner the contractors felt threatening,” according to the military. At last one Afghan was killed and three others were wounded.

Now, there are many layers to this story, not the least of which is yet another allegation of Blackwater-affiliated personnel drinking and killing in a foreign war zone. (A drunken Blackwater operative was alleged to have killed a bodyguard to an Iraqi vice president on Christmas Eve 2006 inside Baghdad’s Green Zone).

What’s more, this represents the first public mention of the Blackwater/Xe subsidiary Paravant, but also the fact that its work was apparently buried in a subcontract with Raytheon, which in turn has a large US Army training contract in Afghanistan. “Raytheon’s use of Paravant is for a program called Warfighter Focus, a sweeping U.S. Army training effort valued at more than $11 billion over a 10-year period,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

The power and influence Private War Inc has created within American foreign policy is not new, but the level of unaccountable protection being offered them suggests America's outsourcing of violence to feed a multi-billion dollar industry on the blood of civilians is becoming the arnacho-capitalist neo liberal Ayn Rand wet dream of choice.

A conscientious objector is not a religious doctor denying abortion advice

Just for the record, a conscientious objector is someone who rejects war NOT a Christian Dr who rejects a women's right to be consulted on an abortion. The former is a philosophical hero who deserves recognition, the latter is a theological coward who deserves having their medical licence revoked.

Len, isn't it time to bring back the Hero Parade?

I've never really understood homophobia, (I'm not clear on sexism, racism or other types of basic bigotry either), but in this day and age the very idea of hatred towards consenting folk who may fuck differently from me just seems bewildering, and yet here we have it...

Hate crime shatters couple's lives
A lesbian couple are thinking about abandoning their home after a vicious hate crime.

Anti-gay slurs were scrawled on their house and car, and their business was left in ruins when an arsonist torched a packing shed on their property.

Juliet Leigh and Lindsay Curnow have lived in the seaside community of Mangawhai Heads for seven years, running a successful floral business, Blooming Bulbs, from their backyard.

In their mid-60s, both say it's always been an inclusive community and their sexuality has never been an issue.

But two attacks in a week mean they're contemplating moving on and closing the business.

Attacking people like this is as cowardly as desacreting Jewish graves or mutilating puppies, what drives people to hate like this is well beyond me but I do ponder if our lack of public support to the Gay community is part of the problem?

The AIDS foundations basic belief was that if Gay people were able to bypass all the hate thrown their way and loved themselves, then they would wear condoms and protect both themselves and their sexual partners. The public expression of this joy and respect became a feature of the Hero parade and I wonder if we have lost some of that by not having the Hero parade?

The Gay Blade certainly thinks so...

there was a huge amount of good that came out of Hero.It made us visible, it gave us a reason to take pride in being queer. Visibility matters, and so does pride. Hero when at its best and strongest was inspirational. I doubt we can recreate it, not sure we should even try, times have changed. But its underlying message is still right on the money. We need to take pride in ourselves, we need to find ways to pass down to new generations the experience and wisdom we have gained, and yes, we still need to explain that being gay is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

...which got me to thinking - isn't it time Auckland brought back the Hero Parade? And in fact I think we should ask, 'Len, isn't it time to bring back the Hero Parade'?

Bomber's Blog - The War on News - ONLINE NOW!

THE WAR ON NEWS: In this weeks political media crimes against reason kill zone

Hone Harawira in trouble for pointing out the Maori Party have stockholm syndrome

Prime Minister 'if you're happy and you know it clap your hands' John Key is optimistic again this time it's astoundingly about the Police

Free Trade with America as free as a kick in the head

Plus this weeks wank-o-the-week, sex in the Super City,  media hell and the Barack Obama people’s hero of the week award

The War on News 2010 – NZ News Satire on Stratos Sky 89 10.30pm Tuesday & simulcast on Freeview 21. Replayed on Triangle TV 9.45pm Wednesday and posted online at Scoop.co.nz as their Weekend Watch.

Join Bomber’s Blog – The War on News Facebook group

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hone and a New Left Party

Party hierarchy to decide next step
A hui called to consider a complaint against maverick Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has done nothing to solve the problem and has instead increased tension within the party over his criticism of its coalition with National.

The party hierarchy will now decide what to do next, and the complaint is back in the hands of the national council.

National know that even IF Rodney wins Epsom (a huge IF) the David Garrett hypocrisy means that the raw meat Sensible Sentencing Trust brand is too damaged to bring in the extra ACT MP's to give them the certainty of a majority in Parliament for them to remain as the Government, so National have put enormous pressure on the Stockholm syndrome Maori Party to dump Hone so that the Maori Party can be the new default confidence and supply partner.

That's why Mai Chen has been sent in to do the knife work, National can't rely on the Maori Party for that confidence and supply partner if Hone is in the mix.

The question Hone needs to ask himself as the Maori Party move to expel him is where does he continue his fight for a social justice that now goes beyond the needs of Maori and impacts all beneficiaries and minimum wage earners?

He could chose to be an independent and be one vote against an anti-beneficiary, anti-environmental, anti-worker National Government OR he could form a New Left Party and with his electorate seat provide an entry point to Sue Bradford, Matt McCarten and other prominent left wing politicians to change the MMP math away from the right wing.

If not us? Who?

If not now? When?

Congrats on being honest Mr Key. Now let's hear the rest of it thanks

I congratulate John Key for his courage not to hide his intent to sell 49% of our assets, I salute him for having the courage to stand by his political convictions and demand a debate on the issue, because a debate is what he will get.

What I would like to hear is the rest of it now thanks.

What other assets will you reclassify as not assets so that technically you can claim - "Hey, I said we would sell assets, but they aren't classified as assets after I reclassified them and if you'll agree to this colossal theft of your public assets, you won't squirm too much when I sell TVNZ, Quotable Value and VTNZ".

And what about this investment you intend to make from this privatization? Into more irrigation in the South Island? You more mean infrastructure investment into Dairy who continue to steal and pollute our diminishing water resources in the South Island?

That's what we are selling our assets off for? South Island Dairy Industry interests? Shouldn't you be a little more honest? Surely allowing Bill English to have a dirty lignite production facility in his own electorate to power his Brother's Federated Farmer's industry cheaply was payment enough for services to be rendered?

Why on earth are we finding a monopoly who benefit from our collective pristine environment yet do some of the worst pollution damage, even more corporate welfare while social services are slashed?

You've been very courageous John, now let's hear the rest of it thanks.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's the Kitchen Table vs the Water cooler election

John Key sells aspiration, that is his charm. In a hyper consumer mass marketed culture he sums up the perfect illusion of the rags to riches dream that acts as the forever out of reach cheese on a stick to a rat in a mouse wheel.

That $10 extra per week plus the 15% off fruit and vegetables WILL impact on those kiwi's currently sitting around the kitchen table trying to balance the weeks budget. Add $15 minimum wage increase, add better funded social services to deal with the extra numbers requiring aid and we have some progress.

I'm all for more and for fighting for more, but those policy advancements are advancements. John Key's sale of 49% of public assets we already own for the equivalent of 10 months borrowing on the other hand is an intellectually bankrupt cluster fuck that has to be tackled head on.

Sweet Jesus, Standards & Poors are looking to down grade us because of our PRIVATE DEBT, not the bloody Governments debt. We only spent 1.22% of GDP in Debt-servicing in 2010, the debt bogeyman to justify flogging 49% of our assets off will lead to even MORE money going overseas which will only exacerbate that problem.

Key wants this issue to be discussed around the middle management water cooler with knowing nods and sage 'got to make the hard choices' hubris as if that justifies making the same privatization mistakes again at a time when free market theory has imploded. Goff wants to discuss the issue around the kiwi kitchen table to those whom are bearing the brunt of the recession, his challenge is to get that message through to an electorate fed hair dye stories by the content decisions of News Editors more focused on light entertainment than holding the powerful to account.

It's the Kitchen Table vs the Water cooler election.

'Mum and Dad investors' is smile and wave spin

Need to con the NZ Public into flogging off our collective assets to overseas interests? Just keep saying, 'Mum and Dad investors'. Key's used the phrase so often he sounds like a bloody parrot with a cracker.

Or should that be a cracker with a parrot?

I love how the mainstream media refer to 80% of us against asset sales as a 'mixed response'.

These assets have a combined value of $11.75 billion, and earn NZers $700 million a year, selling off core monopoly services will see the profits move overseas. The 'mum and dad' investor thing is bullshit because SOE's can issue bonds to small NZ investors already, this is off shore privatization and we will end up paying for an asset we already own!

My Grandfather, my Grandmother, my father, my mother and I have already paid for these bloody assets! Why in Christ's name should I line up to buy an asset I already bloody well own???

John Key defends flogging off our core assets to the corporate elite because of 'debt' but Debt-servicing cost 1.22% of GDP in 2010, we don't have a debt servicing problem. Labour when in power did what they are supposed to do during the good times and pay down the debt, austerity measures and slashing public services when the most vulnerable need those services most will only succeed in exacerbating poverty and increasing the possibility of a double dip recession. We know recessions have a terrible impact on our communities, in the last one our suicide rate trebled to the world highs they are now.

Whoring off public assets we've already paid for is as counter productive as a Paul Henry Supporter Book club.

Even Bernard Hickey thinks it's a bad idea to sell off assets and forgo dividends in perpetuity. In a small market like the NZ electricity market, private oligopolies will end up manipulating the prices meaning we will actually be worse off!

The role of the State is to prevent private monopolies controlling vital commercial infrastructure and selling this protective role out to provide funding for the day to day social infrastructure responsibilities like schools and public health are a false choice National are simply hoping they can con the electorate into by saying 'Mum and Dad investors' over and over again.

Privatizing assets makes as much sense as mining in conservation land.

Citizen A - 7pm tonight

Citizen A - 7pm tonight Triangle TV, replayed 8pm Sunday Sky 89 & Freeview 21

Tune in to join Bomber and his revolving panel of bloggers and Auckland opinion shapers as they offer an up-to-date half hour review of the political media issues of the current week from a very Auckland perspective.

THIS WEEK: Bloggers Cameron Slater & Phoebe Fletcher...

Issue one: Phil Goff gave his state of the Nation address in New Lynn while John Key gave his in Henderson, Goff says the fist $5000 will be tax free while John Key wants to privatize assets and implement austerity measures. No one can pretend that National and Labour are fighting over the centre ground any more. Who won?

Issue two: Did Rodney Hide's concession to appoint 38 unelected Maori to Auckland Council committees just cost ACT the Epsom seat?

Issue three tonight: Len wants Auckland to be a Green city with a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% - Great idea or wanky nonsense?

Join Citizen A Facebook group

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's not the hair colour that's died, it's the quality of the mainstream media

The attention on Phil Goff's hair colour by the mainstream media purposely shifts the focus away from his announcement of the first $5000 tax free policy yet they can't be uncritical enough of John Key's plan to flog our State assets off. Key could eat a kitten live on Close Up and the NZ Herald would still blame the kitten for being delicious.

My Grandfather, my Father and I have paid for those assets that John Key wants to flog off! Why should Mum and Dad investors buy shares in something they already bloody well own! We are talking assets with a combined value of $11.75 billion, and earn NZers $700 million a year. Debt-servicing cost 1.22% of GDP in 2010, we don't have a debt servicing problem and in the worst recession since 1929, NZers are looking to the State for the type of protection and State intervention that the banks who were part of the problem scrambled to for protection.

Why is it that the powerful who were partly responsible for the crash can be bailed out and protected while the most vulnerable who had no hand in its creation have to do with less minus any protection?

Austerity measures don't work, the UN only last week pointed out that Austerity measures could drag the global economy into a double dip recession and of the $300 million per week we are borrowing, $120 million of that is for the tax cuts that benefit the very same wealth class Key now wants to sell our public assets off to.

If you are not angry, you are either not paying attention or are watching TVNZ.

Rodney Hide's final fiasco

watch your back Rodney
Key defends votes for Maori appointees
Prime Minister John Key says there was never any intention for unelected Maori appointees to vote on all Auckland Council committees, but it seems likely they will get to vote on at least 11 of the 19 standing committees.

The final nail in Hide's coffin is now almost complete. The National Party who are concerned about Rodney bringing in any extra MP's with him after the Sensible Sentencing David Garrett hypocrisy must now consider the reality that he won't get elected in Epsom after he signed off on this ridiculous situation where two unelected Maori will be added to all 19 standing committees, in many cases changing the balance of power in those standing committees.

Let's be clear, I want Maori representation, I think it was appalling that Rodney Hide threatened to resign from the Government if Maori were given any representation in the new Super City structure, but that representation must be earned within Maoridom by them voting and electing who they want to be represented by, under this fiasco these positions are appointed, no democratic mandate whatsoever!

How ridiculous is it Hide threatened to collapse the Government if Maori had the right to vote in representatives, only to sign off on a deal where all 19 standing committees will have two Maori with voting powers simply appointed with no mandate???

This isn't a right wing or left wing thing, it's just basic democratic convention. Should Maori have representation? OF COURSE! Should that representation be appointed with no democratic mandate? OF COURSE NOT!

David Farrar explained to me in Wellington during the Backbenchers filming that the strategy for Epsom was to tell voters that if they didn't elect Rodney, Hone would hold the balance of power, their belief is that Epsom voters will hate Maori more than they hate sexist hypercritical bullies. IF that is true, how the bloody hell will those redneck Epsom voters respond to this fiasco?

ACT need Hone in the Maori Party so that he's the bogeyman, National realizing Rodney won't pull any extra MP's in with him now need to rely on the Maori Party and so have put immense pressure on them to dump Hone. It's like a Mexican Maori standoff, where instead of guns pointed at each other, they all have the guns pointed at their own heads.

If Epsom is as bigoted as David Farrar hopes, they will see this appointment of Maori across the board without any actual democratic mandate from Maori as a crime.

Rodney is dog tucker and ACT are gone. The pressure by National on the Maori Party to remove Hone will now be immense as National realize they will be reliant on the Maori Party for the Government past the election, and the question starts to become what Hone will do post Maori Party if they do make him walk the plank?

A New Left Wing Party quietly peculates.

John Key to privatize NZ continental shelf

Key said his first term would be National lite and the second term the full creamy hard right version and here we go folks, the privatization agenda that John Key has spent 3 years in building the trust to try and slip past a public in love with his smile and wave tactics has finally been announced...

Key: National plans state asset sales
Prime Minister John Key has announced plans to sell-off state assets and cut back Government spending. Mr Key is delivering his state-of-the nation address at Henderson's Trust Stadium to a group of about 380 people, mostly from the business community.

..it's amazing watching the bias of the mainstream media. Phil Goff announces the most radical tax shift to benefit the poor this country has ever seen with the first $5000 tax free yesterday, and the Herald banner adverts on the street are about a Lion and Crocodile fighting each other, and instead of focus on the issues most pressing to a NZ public suffering from the largest recession since 1929, the Herald decides to focus on whether or not Phil dyes his hair.

We've played this privatization game before and it doesn't work, selling the Nation's silver wear off to rich corporates while borrowing $120 million per week to fund tax cuts isn't seen as a massive abuse of the collective good, it's perceived as 'progress'. This is all National have, the same failed free market dogma that got the global economy into trouble in the first place. Tx cuts for the rich, deregulation so the mechanisms of managed capitalism are ignored and privatizing assets. These are failed policies that seek only to empower corporations at the cost of democracy, these assets were bought collectively by us, the people, they are not there for Key to flog off!

It is telling that it was mainly the business community who were invited to Key's State of the Nation Address, the National Party have the corporate interests of the bankers and farmers at their heart, they are anti-environmental, anti-benneficary and anti-worker, as the smile and wave slips to reveal those interests NZers who favour an egalitarian society should start getting involved to stop this agenda.

Australia Day is Occupation Day

Today is Australia's national day of celebration. Like all anniversaries of empire, it's worth drawing attention to the way that these are perceived differently by the groups who are colonized, in this particular case those of Aboriginal descent. Australia has what can only be read as an abysmal record in their dealings with Aboriginal people. It was not until 1962 that all Aborigines were granted the right to vote, and the treatment of these indigenous peoples has been one of marginalization and the creation of policies that would be treated with outrage if they were applied to any other ethnic group.

2007 marked the year of Government intervention, where the military were sent into the Northern territory to 'address' alcoholism and child abuse among these remote communities. Like the film 'Our Generation' discusses above, this has been perceived by many Aborigines as a simple land grab with the goal of extending mining territories. While this intervention hardly made the news here (or at least accompanied by any kind of sustained analysis), the impact of this event has created a crisis of immense proportions that deserves our attention.

To list just a few of the results of this intervention:

- There are more Aboriginal children that have been taken from their parents than during the period of the 'Stolen Generation' (1869 - 1969).

- Many people ran further out into the desert in fear, breaking communities.

- Alcohol and pornography were banned in the Northern Territory. It is significant to note that while white Australians are frequently stereotyped overseas for their drinking behaviours, the blatantly racist notion that Aborigines could not biologically handle alcohol was still being debated in the Australian press during that time. Every child under the age of 16 was subjected to a medical check (terrifying for people already scared of the military prescence).

- Food stamps were substituted for benefit payments. These were only valid in particular stores, requiring many Aborigines to travel miles for food.

This intervention has NOT produced one sexual assault trial. It instead has resulted in immense damage to communities already facing the intolerable consequences of racism and colonization, leading a group of Aborigines to request in 2009 refugee status from their own nation. It is crucial we raise awareness of their struggle, as New Zealanders are in a unique position to place cultural pressure on Australians.

In light of this, I asked my Aboriginal friend of the Murri people, Bronwyn Fredericks, to compose a short piece for this blog below.

In Australia, the 26th of January marks the day that the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788. Captain James Cook hoisted up the British Flag on Cadigal land and proclaimed British sovereignty over the lands of Aboriginal nations along the eastern seaboard. Today in Australia is a public holiday, and many revelers will drape themselves in Australian flags while enjoying a barbeque, a beer, a day at the beach, maybe a game of cricket, and fireworks. For those Australians who are passionate about the British view it is a celebration of their great achievements and by this evening there will be a new list of people who have received Australia Day Awards, one person will be named Australian of the Year and over 13,000 people will have become Australian citizens.

As these Australians will be celebrating, many Aboriginal Australians will spend time reflecting on all those who have passed and commemorate the deep collective multiple losses: losses through the invasion and the colonising years and the losses in contemporary times. Until Captain Cook arrived, we as Aboriginal peoples had been sovereign over our own lands for at least 60,000 years. We say we became human on our land, our Country. We numbered over 250 nations with distinct languages. There was no one common language. We had our own laws, medicines and healing practices, ceremonies, philosophies, and knowledges. We were sovereign peoples living sustainable lives within our distinct areas on the continent now known as Australia for thousands of generations.

There will be some Aboriginal people who will need to be within solitude today and there will be others at rallies and protests and gatherings marking this year’s Day of Mourning, Invasion Day and Survival Day. Many of us will celebrate that we have survived, adapted and are re-empowering ourselves as we have done for thousands of years, 60,000 years. We celebrate that we are still here; that we are present everywhere; and that we aren’t going anywhere. We were and are already here and will be in the future.

-- Bronwyn Fredericks

Goff on target by aiming debate at the kiwi kitchen table

Water Cooler Key vs Kitchen Table Goff

As the bus I caught meandered its way through Auckland traffic deep into the heartland of New Lynn, I wandered what Phil needed to do gain traction so that the MMP math would start to favour the left and not the right. Outside the window, signs of the recession are apparent everywhere. Empty shops with depressing 'For lease' signs stand sullen and stark and low level commercial activity seems apparent in shop after shop empty of customers.

I remember the bite of the last recession, it's not as bad as that, but if things don't start turning soon in the economy, it isn't hard to imagine things getting worse quickly.

I'm a little lost trying to find the New Lynn community centre (the bus driver had kindly pointed vaguely in the distance ahead of him) when I walk into David Cunliffe. "You look like a man who know's where he's going", I call out, he looked surprised, perhaps he doesn't hear that often? We walk together towards the Community Centre, with his entourage of Wellington suits buzzing behind us. He says he likes the War on News, I tell him I liked how ridiculous the Roy Morgan Poll was. Taking a poll in the middle of January during the holidays on landlines attracted the frightened shut in community, I was surprised the result wasn't 180% to National. He laughs.

I ask David if it pissed him off that if it had been Labour who had declared a 'turbo charge' of the economy with a GST tax increase that ended up causing a $2billion dollar deficit the mainstream media would be declaring a revolution, yet because it's smile and wave they are silent. He rolls his eyes in agreement and mutters.

We part at the door as he recommends where to sit (behind him) to get the best seat. I like Cunliffe, I've seen him speak many times and I'm always impressed, he is the new Cullen minus the anger.

I look around the room. It's packed with a massive range of diversity, if Labour has a strength it is that it is genuinely representative of NZ as a whole, one note of caution was the age group. There were some young faces, but not enough, I think a lot of young people grew up under Helen so that the rebellious thing was voting for Key, and as such young folk LOVE John Key they way they love an American Idol judge. Labour are going to have to do some work on that front.

Bump into Shane Jones, I've met him twice before at two different charity debates, we chat about the Maori Party. He smells blood in the water, he has nice things to say about Hone. David Shearer and I swap times as to when he's picking me up for Phil's BBQ on Friday. I chat briefly with Jacinda Ardern about a series of debates I'm arranging on Citizen A between her and Nikki Kaye that will start in March. There's a lot riding on Auckland Central and Nikki Kaye is bloody sharp, she's the brightest new star in National's caucus and beating her will be difficult.

The Labour MP's are all a bit excited about Phil's speech, they know he has to pull a rabbit out of the hat or they're all in opposition for another 3 years. It's the type of nervous excitement you have when waiting on test results from the doctor.

I'm sitting next to Phil Twyford, he's telling me Rodney made a mess of these new Maori appointments onto the Auckland Council committees, I ask him if Rodney knew what he was signing off, Phil's laughing too hard to answer.If the right wings hope is that the voters of Epsom dislike Maori more than they dislike bullies and so will re-elect Rodney, then they're going to faint when the full ramifications of 34 none elected Maori get appointed to every Super City committee.

Cunliffe welcomes Phil to the stage and the cheer is heartfelt. Labour have had little in real policy to differentiate themselves from National. Since the Party conference when Phil signalled a move to the left, there hasn't been a hell of a lot voters could hang their hat on, he knows he has to appeal middle NZ consumer politics, but in a recession as deep as this one they ain't thinking about plasma TV's, they are thinking about just paying the bills.

Thankfully for Labour, Phil delivers. Rather than discuss what his ideas were, Breakfast this morning on TVNZ spent the entire show talking about whether or not Phil had dyed his hair colour, I won't speculate as I wouldn't want to sound as fucking stupid as Breakfast on TVNZ, but his ideas showed that David Parker has been hard at work.

Phil targets average NZers who are sitting around the kitchen table each week trying to work out the bills, the Government he proposes sees social justice as fairness, not social engineering. He notes the 700 millionaires in NZ who have received $1000 each week since the tax cuts and points out that $120 million per week of the money we are borrowing is actually for tax cuts the lions share of which are given to the richest NZers. For those at that kitchen table trying to balance the rising cost of living, such numbers are a kick in the teeth.

15% off all fresh fruit and vegetables may be laughed at by the Wellington beltway set, but those who are looking at their budget while trying to provide healthy meals for their children will love it as an example of the sort of state intervention they want.

Goff's real trump card is his first $5000 tax free for all NZers. This impacts most on those who are earning the least and will be funded by a new top tax bracket that will be in the high 6 figure area so that professions not considered top tax bracket fodder don't fall foul of it.

Beyond the kitchen table to issues that have a wider philosophical appeal, no rise in GST (something Key can't mimic) and no sale of state assets.

Anti-avoidance tax loopholes were his next target. Easy to say, bloody difficult to enforce, but the first on the block will be property speculators, their ability to write anything off look dim if Labour get elected. 1 in 5 property owners have a rental property, Labour are gambling they won't vote for Labour anyway, so the days of speculative property investment look numbered.

Goff ended on the promise of a green tech future. He talked about more Research & Development and that NZ simply doesn't do enough. He's right. If we want to forge ahead there has to be a massive re-investment into Research & Development, not more tax cuts for the rich, (personally I've always thought a massive focus and increase on funding science in the classrooms would be a smart choice for the future). I didn't get a chance to ask him where the money for more Research & Development would come from, but I will try and press him on Friday for it.

Phil left the stage and the cheer was even more heartfelt, he has brought the goods and the Labour core are a mix of relief and excitement. He's done the business and staked out the Kiwi kitchen table as the political battle ground, Key may have the water cooler, but the water cooler doesn't win elections.

If the economy continues to splutter, Goff's ideas will start looking more and more pragmatic up against borrowing $120 million a week for tax cuts we can't afford to further feather the nests of those already well off.

National will be pondering if their game plan of slitting Rodney's throat and going all in for an outright majority with the possible assistance of the Maori Party is hubris or the beginning of a glorious new age of National Party dominance.

This is game on now, Labour have tailored their policy for the majority who aren't earning over $50 000 and whom are being pinched by the economy. In past elections the complaint has always been about the perception that both Labour and National were pepsi and coke, the same product in different packaging, this time Labour are presenting a true alternative to National with policy that aims to make balancing the budget for the majority who are struggling easier with the kind of State intervention NZers approve off.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Phil's BBQ

So I'm off to Phil Goff's State of the Nation speech today, I'll blog on it later tonight with all the insight's from around the corners, and as the idea of a New Left Party peculates with the reality of a Maori Party minus Hone Harawira more and more likely, I've also been invited to that most sacred of left wing plotting temples - Phil Goff's BBQ, and right after being invited to Phil's place on the Friday, I'm off to the Labour Party conference as a guest speaker in Christchurch on the Saturday.

The revolution won't be televised, it looks like it'll appear on various blogs.