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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Tumeke 2011 War on News Awards

Here at the Tumeke, we revel in a year of media banality and political apathy as the country slowly faces the collapse of the entire neo liberal Washington consensus hegemonic structure with all the awareness of a brain dead coma patient. When I wasn't outing neo-nazi founding members of the anti-mmp group and being banned from Radio NZ for criticizing the Prime Minister this year, I was also hosting the only political show that called the election result for National and Labour, which as a commentator, gives me bragging rights until the next election.

In a year that saw the political end to Bin Laden, Ghaddafi, Kim Jong-il, yet allowed John Banks back, we were reminded that there is no justice in the world, so without further ado, let's hand out this years contempt masquerading as awards.

'The-lidless-eye-of-Mordor-focused-on-the-vacuous' mainstream media award for hate crimes against public broadcasting goes to Close Up:
It was a close run thing this year folks, the other contender was the decision to close down TVNZ7 and whore it off to a shopping network, which is akin to using a cathedral as a brothel fronting for a meth lab. But beyond that hate crime against public broadcasting, Close Up's fetish with the banal while the global economy heralds a second depression and inequality explodes in our country is so jaw dropping it demands the sort of special recognition only napalm can justify.

Mark Sainsbury, the walrus of news, spent more time on the personal well being of Happy Feet the fucking penguin than Close Up did on child poverty. The dumbing down of the news by fluffy animal story's is nothing new, but with a steep recession people cant afford to be consumers and remember they are citizens, the media should be echoing that zeitgeist change rather than molesting it with infotainment the way our public broadcaster does.

'The-media-are-so-biased-John-Key-could-eat-a-kitten-live-on-Close-Up-and-the-NZ-Herald-editorial-would-blame-the-kitten-for-being-delicious-award of the year for propaganda goes to David Farrar.
The National Party hard right, pretending to be lite right propagandist and pollster, David Farrar, the bore of Babylon, the fallen one, he of the hoofed feet, has to be this years propagandist of choice for all occasions from bar mitzvah to military coups. That the NZ Herald allows a mouthpiece for the Government to have unchallenged space on their website speaks volumes of the Heralds continual decline into Fox News esk fair and balanced territory.

Farrar peddles soft massaged message points handed to him by the National Party death star and tepidly articulates them the way a drunk child would. Poorly and without charm. That Farrar is the source of most political stories in the mainstream media, is an indictment on our mainstream media, it's like asking Colonel Sanders how delicious his KFC is against any other deep fried chicken competitor.

How a hard right clown with all the social skills of a naked agoraphobic in an open field has managed to become the 'go to guy' on blogging suggests those going to him haven't learnt how to use google yet.

'The-George-Orwell-big-brother-is-watching-you-award for enacting a Police State surely has to go to Simon Power for ramming through the largest erosion of civil liberties with almost no debate whatsofucking ever.
We have lost the right to a jury trial for punishment between 3 months and 2 years in prison, Police can take DNA from you on mere suspicion, and retrospective law legalizing illegal loopholes used by the Police to break into private property and spy on us, caused because of their phenomenal cock up over the Urewera terror raids.

How the Police and state have been handed so much unchecked power without a whimper from the media must be this years entry for 'you are fucking joking right' - why does the Pork board need the power to spy on us in our homes? Who is a threat to the pork board? Vegetarians?

The state should never award itself these powers, and to do so as a means to pardon a police force caught out using an illegal interpretation of search warrants to mean open ended surveillance is something America would try and pull off. That our media would allow such a massive erosion of civil liberties pass without comment should forever remain a deep blot on their collective reputations, may history show them and Simon Power the disgust and justified hatred they so richly deserve for this assault on our collective rights.

The-don't-worry-be-happy-award for most amount of Prozac injected in a 12 month Calender year has to go to the Treasury.
The economy may well be burning, but no one seems to have told Treasury,their ludicrously optimistic forecasts for growth in this country would be hysterical if they weren't so woefully out. Always look on the bright side of life can't be an economic policy, yet Treasury seem to have made it so.

When they are out by as much as 3% of GDP, Ken Ring has more luck predicting earthquakes with the moon than bloody Treasury has of looking beyond their optimistic rose tinted glasses to see the current free market meltdown for what it is.

I have more chance of becoming the President of the National Party with the campaign slogan, 'higher taxes and compulsory unionism for all' than Treasury have of getting the fucking budget balanced by 2014.

'The-Shove-it-under-the-carpet-and-don't-look-at-it-award' has to go to Child Poverty. Under National 150 of the richest families in NZ gained $7billion in wealth while 200 000 children lived in poverty, our inequality rates have sky rocketed and the simple fact is we don't really give a toss because most of them are beneficiary kids. Bennie bashing is NZs favorite hobby next to rugby, alcoholism and domestic violence, we love to bash the dirty filthy Bennie, it's what separates us from educated folk.

It costs $40million per year fighting in an immoral war like Afghanistan, yet it would only cost $30million per year to feed every poor kid in every poor school throughout the country.

We live in a consumer culture where everyone thinks of themselves as a future millionaire meaning we all side with rich people arguments about not taxing the rich because we imagine ourselves rich one day and don't want the Government taxing our mythical millions we haven't created yet.

Under John Key, social justice in NZ is just another relic of the past like universal suffrage or habeas corpus.

The-swimming-against-the-tide-award' for counter productive futility has to go to the Privatization agenda launched upon by National where the only people who will afford to buy shares in assets we already own will be the top 10% John Key has already handed tax cuts out to.

It won't be mum and dad investors in NZ who buy these shares, it will be mum and dad investors from overseas who will be buying up our shares. At a time when free market ideology has died a terrible horrific death caused by its own venal greed, we are adopting even more free maker dogma? It's like being the Captain of the Titanic ordering it to swing around and hit the iceberg again.

Privatizing the NZ continental shelf is bad enough, but privatizing prisons? It's no surprise that the only ones benefiting from our incarceration rate are the newly privatized prisons who make more money when prisoners are kept in longer, despite the CEO of GEO telling the select committee into privatization of prisons that the private model will not save any money!

Crusher Collins gave an incredible answer to the question as to why we have the second highest incarceration rate in the world, her answer was, ‘because of Maori’. Note, it’s not the medieval raw meat law and order policy that Crusher Collins and the National Party have championed, it’s not the private prisons Crusher Collins was claiming would generate $1.2Billion (while costing $1.3billion), our second highest incarceration rate is not because of the right wing political manipulation of anger generated by a crime myopic media - oh no, the Prison Nation National built is all because of dem dere maoris.

The utter denial by National that they have anything to do with the punitive prison nation they have created which will now employ more people than any another department is breathtaking in it’s bare faced lie and is insulting beyond capacity that Crusher Collins would try and duck the responsibility of her Prison nation by blaming Maoris.

Judith Collins is to wise social policy what BP boss Tony Hayward is to corporate responsibility.

'The-Japanese-nuclear-reactor-award-for-melting-down' goes to ACT.
Oh God wasn't it hideous? David Garret forging dead baby certificates, Rodney Hide and Rodger Douglas using perks they once attacked, and then the corporate coup to take over ACT with Don Brash, a man so past his used by date he makes month old milk look tasty. The eventual meltdown with the Epsom Tea Party Tapes produced a homophobic dinosaur like John Banks coming back from the political graveyard to feast on the fresh brains of Epsom voters, but it is in their death spasms we see a party so divided and spent they make used toilet paper preferable.

That MANA managed to gain more votes than ACT was just joyful.

'As-relevant-as-Bill-Ralston-Award for irrelevancy has to go this year to the NZ Herald columnist, Shelley Bridgeman. Since when did being rich, white, and utterly disconnected from reality make for an interesting opinion? Reading Shelley Bridgeman is as intellectually beneficial as drinking from an open sewer, Shelley is a mother and free lance writer for the NZ Herald who puts out a weekly column on their website about her banal experiences in the middle class suburban pumpkin patch wasteland she likes to refer to as her life.

While the NZ Herald defines balance as appointing National Party masochists like David Farrar as their online political columnists, they've truly managed to outdo even their limited standards with Shelley Bridgeman's inclusion to their online squawking menagerie.

In her column, 'Not all families are equal', Shelley proclaims with the type of joy reserved for recently freed slaves or trapped miners that she gleefully defied World Health Organisation guidelines and bottle fed her daughter as the guidelines didn't take into account mothers in Remuera and Herne Bay because breast feeding led those mothers to seeking breast implants.

Open mouthed shock.

I'm sorry, too posh to push and too vain to lactate? Shelley goes onto proclaim that she feared advice to lay her daughter on her back would result in a flat head, so she would have her nanny turn the sleeping baby using a notebook to record how long the baby had slept on which side of her head. There are fully automatic weapons less precise than Shelley Bridgeman.

This intellectually flabby jowl of middle class pretension masquerading as parental advice is made offensive due to the rejoicing Shelley seems to revel in by willfully flying in the face of public health campaigns.

Why not just blow cigarette smoke into your kids face while jamming KFC double down burgers down their throat while we're at it? Justifying bottle feeding because you don't want to ruin your figure is honest in a bad way Shelley and rejecting advice on Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant syndrome by having your nanny turn your sleeping babies head on the hour isn't a solution most people outside the NZ rich list could afford.

After this astounding voyage of self delusion, the NZ Herald had to turn the comments feature off Shelley's blog due to, and I quote, "the number of inappropriate posts". Yeah, people let Shelley know what they thought about her concerns.

She's so the 'daddy I want a golden goose now' type of writer. I suspect she votes the way hubby tells her to.

The-throwing-a-tantrum-like-Cameron-Slater-did-by-leaving-Citizen-A-award-for-childish-behavior has to go to Cactus Kate.
I have to be honest, I'm not sure what I loved most, hauling up Kate's hate mongering words aimed at the poor and their 'breeding' habits which eventually killed off her chances at becoming an ACT list candidate or watching her squirm by my presence at Matthew Hooten's post election party.

Cathy Odgers never thought her venom towards the poor would ever have to be justified and watching her pathetically back pedal after her candidacy was announced was almost as much fun as watching her inability to socialize beyond a keyboard at Hooton's party. Her, Farrar and Slater refused to turn up as a protest against my attendance until Fran O'Sullivan texted her and told her to stop being such a child. She eventually turned up but sat outside and pulled the kind of sour face I make from strenuous bowel movements.

Cathy in person is what drinking is to driving, like Slater and Farrar, she exhibits the same social awkwardness of self conscious teenagers which helps forgive their feral online right wing gibberish because ultimately they are just terribly lonely people (ever notice how Farrar's holiday photos never have anyone else in them)?

That said Cathy continues to be one of the best voices for the right on the blogosphere, which in turn shows you how low that threshold actually is.

And finally ladies and gentlemen, the 'Sleepy-Hobbits-have-spoken-award-for-political-sadomasochism goes to the election of John Key.

How a money trader peddling vacant aspiration has managed to make it so far in NZ politics is perhaps a signal that no one is paying attention anymore because invoking policy that only benefits those already wealthy to the detriment of the majority and getting away with it is surely this years greatest scam. The election was one of the lowest turn outs in 120 years, which isn't surprising as almost everyone has left for Australia.

John Keys love affair with the media was only ruined when he attacked the media during the election and had the police heavy them so with that much uncritical coverage, I'm surprised John Key didn't win by 80%.

If I have to put up with anymore 'I grew up in a State House' bullshit, I think I'm going to vomit. Welfare in the 1960s was gold plated, these days it is shit encrusted. Key walks around in a bubble world disconnected from the reality facing those he rules, his empty optimism is fine for a teenage girl hosting the Breakfast show on The Edge, but not for the leader of a country. Hey, if I had $50million and a Hawaiian mansion, I'd be pretty fucking optimistic as well, but the utter shallow depth of Key is what staggers the most. When he wasn't camp mincing on catwalk runways, mocking detractors of the RWC party central an hour before it almost became a public safety hazard and making cannibalism jokes about Maori, he was telling those needing food parcels that their need was their own fault and explaining to Church leaders that if he cut the benefit to everyone, that 'bugger all would die'. The callous disregard for those Key can't relate to is chilling as is the blind faith so many have put into him to run the country.

In the cold 3 years ahead, all those who oppose the implementation of hard right economic policy as social policy should remind themselves that National only gained 32% of the enrolled electorate, that means 68% DID NO VOTE for this right wing bullshit.

We are the majority, they are not.

- Radio NZs self censorship (their ridiculous justifications for banning me changed daily)
- NZ Listener pretending to be a current affairs magazine (for a Magazine that spends so much time sucking the arsehole of the National Party, you have zero credibility)
- Baby boomers (this venal and greedy generation sold out any idealism they once had when challenging the status quo and now feed like a blood sucking leech on the State while denying Gen Xers any leadership role to clean up the mess they have now created. This bloated locust plague who got their education for free and property speculated Gen Xers out of home ownership must be culled.)
- Simon Bridges not getting into Cabinet (he is ridiculously talented for a National Party MP)
- Grant Robertson becoming deputy leader of the Labour Party - if the answer is Grant Robertson, the question must have been, how can Wellington be unhelpful.
- The demotion of David Cunliffe

- The rebirth of Metro being relevant.
- iPredict beating every other news organization and bullshit landline telephone polls by predicting National and Labour right.
- Jon Stephenson and Nikky Hager for showing everyone how real journalism is done.
- Patrick Gower and Duncan Garner for taking it to politicians the way meth addicts take it to the glass pipe
- The Arab Spring
- The Occupy movement
- Running Israeli blockades to get aid into Gaza
- protests in Russia
- TV3s coverage of the earthquake, John Campbell was amazing
- The Court Report
- Backbenchers
- Coco Solids 'Pacific Rims' mix tape
- Everything Ladi 6 did this year.
- Jacinda Ardern and David Shearer advancing to the dizzy heights of the Labour Party Coven.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Citizen A review of the year with Phoebe Fletcher & Selwyn Manning

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.


Join Citizen A Facebook group

Friday, December 23, 2011

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

Paula Bennett winning Waitakere back is like being given a wrapped empty ipad2 box for Christmas

Government rush to flog off state assets with all the idealogical zeal of Karl Marx on meth

Kim Jong-il is dead, good riddance to a crazy little psychopathic muppet


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting with the programme

Labour's new team. Shearer announces portfolios.

Exciting, but dangerous. Jacinda so high up - the only way is down. They want bold they got bold.

Looking forward to Shearer speaking in parliament against the Nat's woeful plan to privatise everything.

NZ Herald:

The 50th Parliament has opened with the Government committing to build a more competitive economy in spite of the testing times New Zealand has recently faced.

The speech from the throne, written by the Government, was delivered by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, and outlined the Government's programme for the next term, delivering no surprises.

No surprises with the fall-back, reactive Tory policies of, corporate welfare/privatisation, screwing over young and vulnerable workers, welfare beneficiary bashing, obsession with crime and order, starting out with a delusion that there is no depression:

"The economy is recovering, having grown in eight of the past nine quarters, and 63,000 more people are employed now compared to two years ago.

"This recovery is forecast to continue.''

The European debt crisis was the biggest risk now facing the country, but the Government was in a relatively good position to deal with the fall-out, Sir Jerry said.

The Government's plans to sell shares in state assets to pay for new projects, to reform the welfare system, and to introduce a "starting-out-wage'' for young people.

Sir Jerry also spoke about new legislation that would be brought in to strengthen sentencing, parole and bail laws, saying it would be harder for those charged with serious offences to get bail.

Shearer and Robertson are so new to the front bench that I don't rate their chances of making much of an impression in this first week of the parliament. They have three years till the next election and that is a very long run in, so they shouldn't get too worried with polling and the media etc. for the first year and just focus on getting stuck into National and convincing people they are the government in waiting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paula Bennett winning Waitakere back is like being given a wrapped empty ipad2 box for Christmas

As the ever clever Graeme Edgler points out, in the wacky world of laws that deal with politics, the focus is on a result rather than picking who wins, and in the bowel ends of such law is something called an election petition. It costs $50 000 but it would allow Carmel Sepuloni to challenge Paula's majority in a way a simple recount can't and if Paula loses that, then she loses the seat legally, not proportionately, that means Labour would gain an electorate seat and hold onto a list seat with National losing one without gaining from the list, meaning National would not have a majority to pass legislation without the help of the Maori Party, meaning NO state asset sales.

The hilarity that would cause. It's enough to keep me giggling throughout the Summer if it were to happen.


Government rush to flog off state assets with all the idealogical zeal of Karl Marx on meth

Hilariously the only NZers who can afford to buy the shares in the assets John Key is about to sell are the same top 10% he gave $2billion in tax cuts to for the last 3 years.

Adding insult to that injury is the fact the tax cut John Key gave the top 10% was borrowed and subsidized for by the rest of us through increasing GST.

Effectively we just paid and borrowed for rich people to buy assets we already owned!

How desperate as a nation are we for a vision when we accept aspiration this vacant?

Sleepy hobbits reap what they sow.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Citizen A this week with Phoebe Fletcher & Selwyn Manning

Citizen A - 8pm Friday Stratos Freeview 21 & Sky 89

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.

Issue 1 - All hail the new leader of Labour - David Shearer. Is his selection by the labour Party coven Genius decision or massive gamble?

Issue 2 - John Key reshuffles his cabinet - what are the challenges confronting the second Key Government?

Issue 3 - Why isn't the South Canterbury Finance investigation by the Serious Fraud Office a bigger story?

Join Citizen A Facebook group

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kiribas should be Jim Hopkins' new home

Don't fret, global warming's a goner

About a year ago, almost to the day, in this column, you may recall a bold prediction, fearlessly made. But lest you don't, which is highly likely, since most of us wouldn't remember a Higgs bison if we saw one in a game park, here it is again, much as it appeared 12 months ago:

If you're worried about all the things you have to worry about, cheer up. Here's one thing you won't have to worry about any more. Global warming (remember, this was a prediction) will be the Great Disappearing Act of 2011. It will sink like a stone, exit stage left and generally melt away. Whoopee!

Inspired by the sneaky leaking of all those dodgy East Anglian emails - proof positive of scientific fraud, collusion and deceit - the prediction relied on one basic assumption.

Journalists never admit they're wrong (see phone hacking). They just stop being wrong. When caught with their sceptical pants down and the spotty globes of their credulity exposed, they simply drop the story and move to something else.

Which is precisely what's happened. Global warming has left the building.

Sometimes you open the newspaper and wonder if people wrote their column in a vacuum. Today is one of those days. Jim Hopkins has, without any research, managed to dismiss a wide body of science. Of course in an opinion piece he's allowed to demonstrate his own ignorance, but the only climate deniers I respect are ones that try, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, to research and prove their claims. Like pro-Gaddafi white loyalists (of which there are a surprising amount), they garner together fragments of information to try and create master conspiracy narratives. Yet Hopkins does not even do this, he just pulls together things out of thin air.

However, his opinion piece is worthy of note because he demonstrates some of the most common misconceptions of climate change in that it is simply global warming and we can verify it on temperatures in their own nations year to year. The fact is that the weather patterns it causes are very complex and it is associated with extreme weather events. Regardless of whether you believe it is man made or not (the latter I have strong difficulty with their beliefs), the fact is that there is enough evidence that it has not dropped out of the picture, quite the reverse. While the latest round of climate negotiations were a mess due to the split between industrializing and developed nations, and the pressure from polluting lobbyists on the latter internally to negotiate a difficult economic climate, the fact is that climate change is very high on the international agenda. Many countries, including Australia, have prepared defense reports into the effects that climate change is likely to have on migration. I myself have worked across the Pacific with people that are affected by these changes, and a rise in temperature of 3.5 degrees as predicted from scientists is not something to be celebrated at all. This particularly affects Pacific nations and threatens their sovereignty, such as the people of Tuvalu who are currently looking for a new nation to live in due to the salination of soil in which they grow their crops, the people of Tokelau who are running out of water, the people of Papua New Guinea who are losing their beaches, the people of the Cooks and Tonga who are facing more frequent tropical cyclones as the belt moves westward, or the people of Kiribas who are building seawalls as much of their land is only 3 meters above sea level. This is only the beginning of the list of things it affects - when I was in Vanuatu last year people had noticed massive changes in the behavior of their crops, listing about 100 crops that had changed in the last few years alone. Across the Pacific it means the poisoning of ground water, more coral bleaching which leads to increased outbreaks of ciguatera, an algae that affects the nervous system and can be lethal to humans, leaving people scared to eat the reef fish that was once a large component of their diet. Increased instances and severity of tropical cyclones means that crops are affected, as in the one to hit Tonga last year which left them without a third of their breadfruit crops and severely impacts on the ability of nation states to grow agriculture for trade.

There is a reason why international bodies are discussing it, and it is not because of the alarmism of a select group of scientists. Hopkins refers to the so-called 'Climategate incident' where skeptics hacked into servers and stole e-mails, alleging that it demonstrated scientists manipulating evidence. Well, six separate committees investigating this found no evidence of fraud, merely an honest exchange of ideas.

It is really imperative that we get some good information circulated through our mainstream newspapers on this. The skeptics are few and receive far too much attention. But most scientists agree it is occurring. Regardless of whether you believe it is manmade or not, the first step is to have at least a little respect for the peoples for whom this will have dire consequences. We live in the largest Polynesian city in the world, so you would expect that this respect would come from here first.

Save Auckland's only 24/7 Rape Crisis Helpline

UPDATE: Tonight's rally is cancelled as the Government has come through with 6 months of emergency funding.

Auckland's only 24/7 Rape Crisis Helpline is in danger of going from 9 to 5pm, or not at all due to a lack of funding. As LudditeJourno highlights, this is the only crisis line that caters 24/7 for women that have been raped and need help going to the police. It is worth reposting LudditeJourno here at length, as this is an excellent piece detailing the issues at stake:

The Report for the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence started life under the last Labour Government and revealed decades of under-funding of services for survivors, family/whanau, and those with sexually harmful behaviour.

The 2009 comprehensive roadmap called for "urgent and immediate" funding to ensure services in the community could continue, let alone develop. Did you know most crisis line services in Aotearoa are run by volunteers? And that many services have wait lists to see clients, just because there are not enough paid staff?

Most survivors cannot contain their needs to nine to five. Firstly because that's not when most rapes happen. And secondly because it's not when many survivors need to talk about flashbacks and terror, receive help to cope - that's at night, or on the weekend, or when something reminds them of what happened to them, or when they feel unsafe.

At the moment one of the many marvellous helplines open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for survivors to call is Auckland Sexual Abuse Help. They run the only helpline in Auckland (there are others in South Auckland) which can respond if someone is raped and needs help going to the Police or medical services.

While Refuge services in Auckland are cutting back their hours because they are too poorly funded, it's even worse at ASAH, which has been working with survivors for
29 years. In January 2012, unless some "urgent and immediate" funding materialises, ASAH will no longer be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Such services are absolutely essential, particularly given the backdrop of cuts in government funding that mean that there are few other avenues for women to pursue help. The National government in its last term tightened the rules around receiving counseling following rape through ACC, meaning that nearly 90% of claims were rejected. Rape crisis counsellors have said that some people have committed suicide as a result of not being able to get access to these services. It is therefore imperative that in New Zealand's largest city, we do have a helpline that is available for people who go through this traumatic experience to be able to access. Saving the helpline saves lives.

The Handmirror has organized the following events, please alert people as this is very short notice.

>Crisis Cake Stall
WHEN: 11am, Friday 16th December
WHERE: Outside Nikki Kaye's electorate office, 82 College Hill, Freemans Bay.
WHO: Anyone really who wants to show support for the service, and the organisation in general.

Public Rally
WHEN: 6.30pm, Friday 16th December
WHERE: QE2 Square, opposite the Britomart Train Station
WHO: All welcome, bring your ranty voices!
Facebook event with more info is here.

If you can only make one and are trying to pick then I recommend the evening event, as that's where numbers will be most important. Although, if the funding from Government is pledged before 6.30pm then it may be cancelled (in which case I'll try my best to put an update on the blog).

Art exhibition tracks trace of deadly spill

This is the last day of an exhibition put together by Greenpeace activists that traces the deadly effects on wildlife of the Rena oil spill. A dead penguin was dipped in oil and then placed on canvas to commemorate the environmental devastation caused by the Rena spilling 350 tonnes of oil into the ocean off the coast of Tauranga. More than 20,000 birds died after drowning in the oil and the exhibition provides a reminder of an ephemeral life.

The exhibition also aims to draw attention to National's plans to open our waters to more deep oil sea drilling. The Brazilian company Petrobras is seeking a permit to drill oil off the East Coast, a move that has been challenged by Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Greenpeace through the High Court next year. While Petrobras is seeking to explore outside the 12 mile Exclusive Economic Zone, Te Whanau-a-Apanui are contesting this through the Waitangi Tribunal, arguing that it does not adequately address Treaty of Waitangi obligations, iwi concerns or environmental concerns.

Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie has challenged Petrobras' claims of a squeaky clean environmental record after an explosion at one of their Argentinian refineries earlier this year:

Mr Caddie says the death of this Petrobras employee and disfigurement of his colleague follow a similar explosion at a Petrobras refinery in Argentina three years ago, a major incident in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year as the company prepared to start the first new extraction since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the assassination two years ago of a fisherman and ongoing intimidation of his colleagues who have been protesting against a Petrobras pipeline in Guanabara Bay, Brazil.

The exhibition can be seen at number 2 Queen Street today, directly opposite the Ferry Building and is well worth checking out. It is a potent reminder that while oil might bring money into the country, it also carries high environmental risks that affect a large number of people and our wildlife.

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

Labour Party Coven select David Shearer as their Messiah in political X Factor game show

South Canterbury Finances magical golden money pyramid of eternal providence

What's the difference between John Key's reshuffled cabinet and a cactus


Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Ministry

Brian Fallow asks, in the NZ Herald: Does a country of 4.4 million people really need 28 ministers - 20 in Cabinet and a further eight outside?

The Westminster system demands it. The fact of MMP coalition deals - which put individual MPs and their one-man-band parties into government - only add slightly to the way the system operates. It's all based on a bare majority. The government needs that bare majority to work at each level. That begins with a need to command a majority of parliament - in this NZ parliament of 121 total that means they need 61. Then they need a majority of that majority to be sure they can exercise control in their caucus (respective caucuses) so that is 31. The offices of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip may be considered part of the executive as this is baubleage tied to the PM. Those three plus the 28 = 31.

While Fallow may be complaining about an executive of 28 in similar systems with larger parliaments the rule is the same so the numbers are significantly more: in Canada the Cabinet alone is 27, in the UK with a 650 member House of Commons (and an Upper House) it means there are over 100 ministers plus a multitude of other offices. In Australia there is a Cabinet of 20, 10 ministers outside and 12 parliamentary secretaries.

Considering all the various ministries, departments and agencies that NZ has 28 is about the right number of people to administer it all at the top, although Cabinet could be reduced a bit if they wanted, but as long as I have known it Cabinet has always been 20.

First item on Cabinet's agenda after being sworn in this week was to sell the state assets off:

Mighty River Power has been confirmed as the first state company that will have shares sold off under the Government's partial asset sales programme.

Having been sworn in just yesterday, Cabinet has moved fast to get the Government's "mixed-ownership model" going, with the issue a focus for Cabinet in its first meeting's agenda yesterday afternoon.

Wasting no time with their myopic, ideological (non) economic policy of privatisation. On the Beehive website it is the fourth item:

Next steps in mixed ownership programme
The Government has confirmed the next steps in its mixed ownership programme to offer New Zealanders minority shareholdings in four state-owned energy companies and Air New Zealand.

Read full release >> .Prime Minister welcomes Royal visit
Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the news of a planned visit to New Zealand by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall next year.

Read full release >> .Minister visits Nelson in wake of floods
Civil Defence Minister, Chris Tremain, together with Nelson MP, Nick Smith, is this morning visiting Nelson in response to the floods that hit the region over the last 24 hours.

Read full release >> .New National-led Administration announced
Prime Minister John Key today announced the incoming National-led Government’s new Ministry.

So: government announced, civil defence emergency, Royal visit scheduled, sell off state assets - in that order.

"Next steps in mixed ownership programme", or to unpick the euphemisms: 'How quick can we sell off the most profitable asset the government has? Answer:

Cabinet has agreed that Mighty River Power should be the first company prepared for an initial public offering (IPO), most likely in the third quarter of 2012, subject to market conditions, Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said today.
“Our advice is that Mighty River Power is ready to go to the market."

An immediate start then.

This time next year those wealthy enough to be in the top tax bracket will have used the tax cuts they got from National last term to buy Mighty River shares and will be banking the dividends - and looking forward to pressuring power prices ever higher to maintain those dividends - and they will claim this is 'productivity' and 'adding value'. The few who benefit - National's perennial supporters - will be well pleased. The other 99% paying the power bills with no shareholding in the electricity infrastructure to compensate them for rising prices will be unpleased; some who have not grasped the ramifications of 'mixed-ownership' and voted National anyway, may turn resentful.

The ministers reiterated the Government has made three clear promises to New Zealanders about mixed ownership companies:

•The Government will retain at least 51 per cent control.
•New Zealanders will be at the front of the queue for shares and ministers expect New Zealand ownership will be around 85-90 per cent.
•No shareholder other than the Government will be able to own more than about 10 per cent.

So the likes of Beijing-controlled Chinese front companies, Canadian pension funds and Ausralian infrastructure corporates who will buy-in are limited to one-tenth each. So five of these may end up controlling the 49% in the end instead of just one. Hmmm, yeah. Not much of a guarantee, especially given the cross-shareholdings many have. The Nats, as I understand it, have let Peter Dunne claim credit for supposedly establishing this limit, such as it is.

How much do you expect from the Mighty River Power share sale?
We’ve said we expect between $5 billion and $7 billion over three to five years across the whole mixed ownership programme. In terms of Mighty River Power, we want to get a good deal for New Zealand investors – and for New Zealand taxpayers – and that depends on advisors completing work in the New Year, once they are appointed.

Raising $5-7b isn't that much when the government's annual spending is about $75b.

As for other agenda items for Cabinet, I note the Gnome of Thorndon is pushing his Tory mates to stack the Supreme Court with right wing conservatives. Poor arguments all round for criticising the Chief Justice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A tale of two Prime Ministers

NZ Herald: John Key has been sworn in as Prime Minister in a ceremony at Government House in Wellington this morning.

Mr Key, along with 24 National ministers and four support party ministers were sworn in by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

So orderly I've heard people refer to this new administration as being merely a "reshuffle". Compare this transition to another Pacific country of the Westminster type.

SMH: AUSTRALIAN diplomats were caught up in Papua New Guinea's latest political meltdown as angry police threatened them with machine guns during a tense night of fighting between supporters of the country's two would-be prime ministers.

Both Sir Michael Somare and Peter O'Neill claim to be the legitimate leader of the country. Mr O'Neill has the numbers to lead the Parliament but the country's Supreme Court on Monday ordered Sir Michael to be reinstated as prime minister.

Two Prime Ministers. Tahiti had the same issue a few years ago and one side occupied the presidential palace for many months until it was resolved - that case went to Paris for their colonial master to sort out.

Unlike PNG and most other nations in the NZ system there are few constitutional rules that the Supreme Court would be likely to intercede to reverse. Parliament is deemed to be master of its own House in most, if not all, of their activities and changing the PM is acknowledged as a political issue for the caucus of the ruling party. Country's with formal written constitutions however bring the judiciary into the scene and things can get dicey. The last coup in Fiji that established the current "new legal order", for example, came about as the regime's reaction to a court ruling invalidating the appointment of the interim government and ordering elections be held.

The PM's website doesn't exist. Maybe there are two - at different addresses? At least the civil service or whoever is in charge of government IT is neutral. So neutral, just to be sure, they've also taken down the government portal.

Later, at about 10pm, bursts of automatic fire were heard as rival groups tried to enter Government House. No one has been reported injured but security across the city was being increased as the crisis deepened.

''It got a bit hairy but we're generally OK,'' one Australian official told the Herald. Mr O'Neill, who unsuccessfully tried to have one of the judges removed from the Supreme Court bench, maintains he is the country's leader and wants the Governor-General, Sir Michael Ogio, to swear him in.

Late yesterday, Mr O'Neill and 60 supporters arrived to speak to the Governor-General at Government House, forcing their way through a police line surrounding the residence..

A spokesman for the Governor-General then reportedly told the O'Neill group Sir Michael Ogio would not be swearing in either of the men because he could not understand the court judgment.

He preferred that the two leaders get together and resolve the issue between themselves.

That is an incredibly naive suggestion. If it has got to this point having a wee chat about it and a gentleman's handshake isn't going to happen. Although claiming you can't understand the ruling is probably the best course for someone stuck in the middle and playing for time; but ultimately it will be the G-G that must make a call, they are at the top of the constitutional apex and in charge of the armed forces when it comes to the crunch.

Adding to the confusing and potentially explosive situation, both Sir Michael and Mr O'Neill have support bases tied to senior police, so that as well as two would-be prime ministers, there are two would-be police commissioners each claiming the top job.

The Government House flashpoint was the same venue where on August 2 Mr O'Neill was sworn in as the country's prime minister after a dramatic internal coup, which came as Sir Michael recuperated in a Singapore hospital for three months.

Sir Michael, known as PNG's father of the nation, does not appear to have the numbers to maintain a parliamentary majority.

The O'Neill camp yesterday sat in government parliament benches and ignored any suggestion they were anything other than the government.

The Speaker, Jeffrey Nape, who in the past has been instrumental in keeping Sir Michael in power, decreed that retrospective legislation passed on Monday meant Sir Michael was not even an MP, let alone prime minister.

The Labour Party gamble on Shearer

The Labour Party coven have selected David Shearer as their Messiah in their version of political X Factor. Now he's won, he'll be healing sick children on a tour of provincial Shopping Malls between the hours of 10am, 11am, and 1pm with a matinee session on Saturday's.

In yet another example of intergenerational theft, a baby boomer has stiffed a Gen Xer for a job. The younger cusp Gen-X Cunliffe has been denied leadership for another bloody baby boomer. Yay, their bloated locust generation hangs on yet again, denying Gen Xers their rightful generational leadership.

When will these damned boomers die? Oh that's right, they won't, they'll keep pouring our taxes into the preservation of their life spans while we work longer with a higher retirement age.

I expect to retire under these rules when I reach 90.

Don't mention Grant Robertson to me, if he's the answer the question must have been, 'how can Wellington be unhelpful'.

Fresh from washing the tear gas out of his UN designated suit, David Shearer as the new leader of the Labour Party must first decide what embassy to banish David Cunliffe to while keeping as far away from John Key for the first 2 years as humanly possible.

The strategy used by the Labour Party Coven is simple, pick someone NZ will like more than John Key and hope the electorate have tired of National in 3 years. It doesn't sound like much of a strategy, and that's because it's not much of a strategy.

When the John Key dingo picks up the David Shearer baby in his jaws on the first day of Parliament and violently rips the David Shearer baby limb from limb and slinks off licking it's bloodied maw, leaving the David Shearer baby shredded on the floor of the debating chamber, the 'but David Shearer is likable' mantra chanted by far right bloggers like David Farrar, will suddenly sound very hollow and slightly disingenuous.

Shearer needs to be a hell of a lot more than likable for this gamble to work (his TV performances during the debate were terrible) and one wonders if the rest of the lazy caucus who sat on their hands while Goff roasted are being a twee bit audacious to place all the responsibility for Labour's fortunes on Shearer's green shoulders.

Time will tell.


Tuning out, turning off

The government's closing down of the nation's entire analogue TV signal transmissions (so the frequencies can be flicked off) has been sold on the basis of "better". Freeview - the government-backed system of digital transmission - has more channels than analogue (but not many more) and a higher quality reception (but prone to 'rain fade' and cutting out entirely). But viewers are facing losses with this transition.

The first loss is the money cost of having to abandon old sets and having to buy new sets or boxes (more on this below), the other main loss is of convenience: taking a set anywhere and plugging in the 'rabbit ears' will no longer be possible. The gains of programme data from the remote control and the better picture are an offset, but we are still losing something here that cannot be regained. For example, imagine if they tried this with radio - making every radio set defunct and forcing people to buy a box for it? Unacceptable, pointless, expensive? And yet this is what has been done to TV without any protest.

How much better, exactly?

When Freeview came out TVNZ - under the National government - put its archive material, its heritage funded by years of the TV licence fee - into a channel only available on Sky. Privatised - behind someone else's pay wall. This is a disgrace, but we are in for more of the same. Drinnan in the NZ Herald:

The Government is looking at taxpayer subsidies for some late-adopters to get Sky's Igloo set-top boxes after old analogue TV signals are switched off.

The move is aimed at easing the transition to digital transmission, but would fit with Government policies that promote pay TV and undermine Freeview and the free-to-air TV sector.
From September next year to December 2013, analogue TV signals will be switched off region by region, the West Coast first and Auckland last.

After switch-off, viewers will need tuners inside TV sets, a set-top box or a personal video recorder to pick up free-to-air channels.
The plan comes as TVNZ moves to close public service channel TVNZ 7 and lease it out as a shopping channel.

Igloo is 51 per cent owned by Sky and 49 per cent by TVNZ and has been launched to coincide with the digital switchover and pick up lower spending customers.
A shroud of secrecy makes some sense as news of a subsidy might encourage people to delay buying a digital tuner under their own steam.

But it has wider implications if the Government selects Igloo - and access to pay TV - over Freeview, which offers solely free-to-air content.

The tender for the Targeted Assistance Plan invited expression of interest in providing 50,000 to 60,000 tuners.

Details of the Igloo scheme were released last week. It will provide 11 pay channels for $25 a month on a set-top box costing less than $200.

A half-pie, half-way house for people with only half the money for Sky. It makes perfect sense for Sky, as it will drag some over after the half-strength taste of this platform to the basic Sky package and pre-empts other rivals, but what is TVNZ playing at? Grabbing any form of government funding for itself is always high on their agenda; public broadcasting seems to have fallen off the bottom of the page.

Also on the horizon, next year, will be the regulatory framework to keep up with the merging of technology.

When someone with a remote sitting in their living room can flick seemlessly between internet, TV and radio (and anyone with a modern mobile phone can do the same anywhere) it seems less and less tenable that the different modes of communication have their own bodies and rules. While an argument exists that government's allocating frequencies has given them responsibilities over what is broadcast the same argument can be turned to the internet where the government is now subsidising the ultra-fast broadband roll-out.

Some amalgamation is coming, but the fear is that in trying to align everything the internet and (to a lesser extent) the press will have their censorship and enforcement increased to the more restrictive levels of the BSA (rather than broadcasters having reduced restrictions).

Stephen Price:

That’s the way I look at the recommendation - not as a statutory super-regulator, but as a slightly refined self-regulatory initiative, in which the industry is given a first chance to see whether they can do this themselves.

Complaints would still go in the first instance to the publisher or broadcaster, and would only be referred to the regulator in the event they can’t be resolved.

The Commission doesn’t discuss fast-track resolution, or interim take-down powers, or a possible Ombudsman/mediator to faciliate resolution before complaints are elevated, but all are on the table for the regulator.

MANA beating ACT

The final count is in and despite being financed by some of the richest political donors in the game, the ACT Party was beaten by the MANA Party in total number of votes.

That's like Russia beating the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final or a Whale sinking a Japanese scientific whaling ship, or david Shearer beating John Key in 2014, for a tiny party like MANA to beat the Party Don Brash predicted would gain 15% party vote share in this years election, that's a hilarious result.

ACT's demise is a political reminder that no matter how much glitter you roll a turd in, it's still a turd in glitter.


South Canterbury Finances magical golden money pyramid of eternal providence

So let's get this straight, South Canterbury Finance's Mr Magoo, Allan Hubbard, who didn't bother with silly old paper work embarked on risky deals once South Canterbury Finance was readmitted into the guarantee scheme because once it was readmitted, everyone knew their money was guaranteed by us, the tax payer.

Now I don't wish to be critical, who am I kidding, I love being critical, but how is a $1.7 billion bail out to the late Mr Magoo anything other than politically connected crony capitalism?

Wasn't the readmission of South Canterbury Finance prudent arse kissing for the wealthy and well connected who jumped in to greedily milk this guarantee for as much as they could?

We had to bail out National's well connected money mates for the 'National Interest', because Lord knows if well connected National Party chums are out of pocket, it's the most pressing issue that needs to be passed with as little scrutiny as possible.

Isn't it hilarious, $30 million is all we would have to pay per year to feed every child in poverty stricken schools, compared to the $1.7billion we will pay greedy investors.

The one question NZers should be asking Bill English now this Serious Fraud Office investigation is under way is 'Dude, where's my economy'?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Changing of the guard [BREAKING: Shearer leader, Robertson deputy]

No sooner than the National ministerial line up is released and barely before people can start pondering the new names and the changes the Labour leadership vote is upon us.

10:01AM and Twitter trending words for NZ:

Doug Bracewell
Hekia Parata
Law Commission
Amy Adams

The newbie minister in Cabinet, Amy Adams is in the top ten - as is the rising star, Hekia Parata.

One of the Davids will be trending heavily, probably both in a few hours.


MutchJessica Jessica Mutch TVNZ
David Shearer and David Cunliffe have gone into the Labour caucus room to vote on who will be the next Labour leader.
19 minutes ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply
CraigFossMP Craig Foss
Thanks so much for your many messages of Congrats. I am looking forward to the challenges as we continue Building a Brighter Future.
20 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
Camp shearer loyalist mp just told me this will be a 'slam dunk'
29 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
tauhenare West Side Tory
#LabourLeader wonder if it's a secret ballot. Show of hands? Red smoke from the parliament?
37 minutes ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply


Still nothing confirmed yet even if the dodgy insider-trading Mecca that is iPredict is leaning heavily for Shearer:

From Twitter:

keith_ng keith_ng
Hmm. At 13c, perhaps I should buy some #TeamCunliffe stock. #jokesbro
39 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
Press sec just raced out of the labour caucus . Decision has been made
29 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
JakeQuinn Jake Quinn
"David Shearer to be next Labour Party leader "on iPredict is running close to 90% and increasing in recent trading
8 minutes ago Favorite Reply

JakeQuinn Jake Quinn
"Grant Robertson to be next Labour Party deputy leader" on iPredict running close to 85% and increasing in recent trading
7 minutes ago Favorite Reply

dpfdpf David Farrar
@ @JakeQuinn Someone had 1,000 sell orders at 0.79 and they all got gobbled up.
8 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

JakeQuinn Jake Quinn
@ @dpfdpf Trevor's on his laptop? ;)
8 minutes ago Favorite Reply

dpfdpf David Farrar
@ @JakeQuinn I think I made a lot off Trevor on Auckland Central. I thank him!
7 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

They are sort of joking about it - treating iPredict "markets" as a game, but because of the insider knowledge these market participants have and the fact real money is on the line it makes iPredict highly suspect in my opinion. Rather than collective wisdom and all that guff it is a system that thrives on imperfect information - peddled by insiders themselves. The people influencing the "markets" (esp. via blogs) have a conflict of interest when they are participants in that market - and whether or not they disclose all their trades doesn't make that much difference to that criticism.


dpfdpf David Farrar
What's taking so long - are they running a focus group to decide what colour tie the new leader should wear?
9 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
How long does a secret ballot take
9 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Probably the deputy leadership is what is taking the time. Supposedly Grant Robertson ahead, but either him or the other mooted deputy, Nanaia Mahuta - from camp Cunliffe - will not make particularly impressive leadership material.

TinaWickliffe Tina Wickliffe
It's David Shearer and Grant Robertson. #LabourLeaders
6 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
Its shearer and Robertson
8 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
Shearer and Robertson just walked into the leaders office
8 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
TheNBR The Authority
Shearer wins Labour party leadership battle http://tinyurl.com/82yy4ww
6 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
ScoopNZ Scoop News
RT: @lyndonhood Shearer and Robertson seen outside caucus room. Apparently this is proof.
6 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
danyalevy Danya Levy
Shearer for Labour leader, Robertson deputy. Hipkins and Fenton for whips.
2 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Unofficial still at this point, but the news reporters at parliament are reporting David Shearer as Leader, deputy is Grant Robertson.

Congratulations to David Shearer. Lange-like rise to power within Labour - only faster! Leader and deputy haven't been Ministers, so I guess that "fresh" look John Key has been thumping repeatedly in the media about his new Cabinet has been trumped by today's decision of the Labour caucus. It is a new look - will the policy substance follow? Will Cunliffe be happy to stay as Finance spokesperson and not undermine the leader the way he did to Phil Goff? My pick is that Cunliffe will play out a Paul Keating/Gordon Brown scenario (the long-serving Finance Minister who covets and finally takes the leadership).

nzlabour New Zealand Labour
David Shearer announcing that he is the new Leader of the Labour Party. http://twitter.com/nzlabour/status/146358146368151552/photo/1
7 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
nzlabour New Zealand Labour
David Shearer has been elected as the Leader of the Labour Party. Grant Robertson is the Deputy Leader.
7 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Aotearoa: As centre-right govt. formed, opposition Labour Party picks former UN man, David Shearer, as leader. [TVNZ] http://bit.ly/uB2Be5
7 minutes ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply
patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
Annette King's office already being moved out already. That's politics http://twitpic.com/7si2hl
9 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply


chrishipkins Chris Hipkins
Congratulations David Shearer and Grant Robertson, our new Leader and Deputy Leader. I look forward to serving as their Chief Whip!
3 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

redalertblog Red Alert
New post, "Leadership results" - http://ow.ly/1BW5Yv
3 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

JakeQuinn Jake Quinn
Shearer and Robertson a breath of fresh air http://wp.me/pvdv6-I5
3 minutes ago Favorite Reply »

jordantcarter Jordan Carter
Labour's new team: #teamShearer #teamRobertson http://bit.ly/sVKvnX
5 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
nzlabour New Zealand Labour
Spokesperson roles will be decided before Parliament sits next week.
5 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

nzlabour New Zealand Labour
A united caucus, going forward together - David Shearer.
6 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

nzlabour New Zealand Labour
I'd like the party to become a party of ideas. We must grow our relevance. - David Shearer.
8 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
patrickgowernz Patrick Gower
Shearer says he is going to go out and meet kiwis at 'pubs, clubs and marae'
10 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

caffeine_addict dave
@ @norightturnnz heh at lease they didnt say "smart green economy " #greenrhetoric
11 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
norightturnnz Idiot/Savant
First Labour steals the Green's policies, now they're stealing their rhetoric #success
11 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

caffeine_addict dave
RT @jhartevelt: Shearer calls on Key to extend poverty committee to cross party group: "I want to be on that committee".
11 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply »

norightturnnz Idiot/Savant
"Clean, green, and clever" - where have we heard that before?
11 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply


And David Shearer enters in the top 10 tweeted names in NZ before lunchtime:

Doug Bracewell #ThankYouUncleSimon #BlackCaps Hekia Parata Cabinet #1YearSince1DGotSigned Law Commission Warner David Shearer

Monday, December 12, 2011

Specials: Mana more popular than Act

The PM has just announced the Cabinet and ministerial positions. I'll blog on those later, but firstly here's the NZ General Election official results with specials counted:

MMP referendum:

KEEP 1,267,955 (57.77%)
CHANGE 926,819 (42.23%)

I picked it could get to 60% for MMP, but that was always going to be on the high side. 58% is quite a strong mandate however - can't see it being revisited in a referendum for at least another two decades. The changes and the review process will see people far more engaged than the referendum non-debate.

Party Vote:

Party : total votes : (% of party vote) : electorates+list=total seats

National Party 1,058,638 (47.31%) 41+18=59
Labour Party 614,936 (27.48%) 23+11=34
Green Party 247,370 (11.06%) 0+14=14
New Zealand First Party 147,544 (6.59%) 0+8=8
Māori Party 31,982 (1.43%) 3+0=3
Mana 24,168 (1.08%) 1+0=1
ACT New Zealand 23,889 (1.07%) 1+0=1
United Future 13,443 (0.60%) 1+0=1
Conservative Party 59,236 (2.65%) 0+0=0
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 11,738 (0.52%) 0+0=0
Democrats for Social Credit 1,714 (0.08%) 0+0=0
Libertarianz 1,595 (0.07%) 0+0=0
Alliance 1,209 (0.05%) 0+0=0
TOTAL seats 70+51=121

I had hoped Mana could get to 3%, but no, I'll just have to be satisfied that - after specials - Mana has more party votes than Act. When Peter Dunne and John Banks criticise Hone during this term of parliament just keep in mind his party got more votes than either of their parties did. Not much solace, but something.

As expected the National vote dropped on specials - now 47.3% and less spectacular than all the pre-election crowing and false indications from the opinion polls. My prediction a month before the election that National would get 46% (+/- 1%) was not too far wide of the mark.

Greens cracked 11%! And now a caucus of 14. Got my Mojo workin' ! (I prefer the Jimmy Smith version but there's no video for it)

The constituencies had some dramatic changes. Duncan Garner's embarrassing call on TV3 election night coverage that he projected that Paula Bennett would lose her seat are now vindicated, Sepuloni having reversed a 300+ in favour of Bennett. 11 votes, phew - judicial recount will be underway this week. And in CHristchurch Central although the Labour candidate will have many excuses it seems to me that being an upper-middle class carpet-bagger
would have more to do with losing a safe Labour seat than anything to do with the earthquake.
Status of electorates:

Waitakere 100.0%: SEPULONI, Carmel (LAB) BENNETT, Paula (NAT) 11

Christchurch Central 100.0% WAGNER, Nicky (NAT) BURNS, Brendon (LAB) 45

And in Waiariki Te Ururoa hung on with about the same margin as on the night, his majority over Annette Sykes 1,883. Slashed!

Government resting on soft Maori Party cushion

NZ Herald::

Mr Key signed the deal yesterday afternoon with Mrs Turia and Dr Sharples in the old Maori Affairs committee room at Parliament.
The agreement followed 40 Maori Party hui last week, which Dr Sharples said had been attended by 1000 people and had unanimously backed a second support deal with National.

The post-election consultation process with meetings of the branch membership is one of the most novel aspects of the Maori Party (in comparison with the other Pakeha-based parties) and is probably one of the best - most idealistic - systems for grass-roots participation in the NZ political system. I attended one of Pita Sharples' hui last time in 2008 (chaired by John Tamihere who had lost the Tamaki Makaurau seat to Sharples in 2005) and there was a positive atmosphere of optimism and potential at what joining a government would bring. There was a tacit acknowledgment that National having invited the Maori Party in ought to reciprocate with an affirmative response - that would both align with tikanga and provide opportunities to advance the Maori Party policies. The hui - and I'm sure all of them - strongly backed a move into government.

This time around the same mechanics of consultation are there and the same dynamic - a National+Act+United Future government - is still there, but things have changed radically (or rather conservatively) within the Maori Party that renders their consensus decision to join the government problematic. Maybe irreconcilably so.

The PM may be displaying a business-as-usual attitude, but the situation has changed. The PM himself signalled it had changed when he came out immediately after specials had been declared and said he already had Banks and Dunne in the bag and didn't need anyone else to go to the Governor-General - that the Maori Party would join later. This was a bit of hard ball from Key. His margin is only one and someone (probably one of his own rather than Banks or Dunne) packing a sad and crossing the floor would bring the show to a close, so although he doesn't need them, he really, really, really, wants them in to give the Nats a cushion.

The Maori Party members consulted with are the rump left over from when Hone Harawira was forced out; those members are more elderly and more conservative than the many who had joined the Mana movement. The feedback the Maori Party got from this group of people - devoid of radical elements and youth voices - would prefer to stay with National despite their pushing through policies that disadvantage the Maori constituency. And yet the Party's top brass at least have enough remaining grasp of reality to address the issues to which people rallied to Hone and which saw Mana cut the Maori Party's vote in half. As a way of under-cutting Mana and promoting the Maori Party as the champions of the poor, I doubt many will be fooled, but having an out (as Tariana was explaining on the radio this morning) so they won't vote for the SOE privatisation legislation is a visible distancing they see as necessary to remain viable at the next election. The focus on poverty, housing and employment were all central to Mana's policies and they feature in the deal:

* Develop a stand-alone commissioning agency for whanau ora in the next 12 months.
* Ministerial committee on poverty chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, and deputy-chaired by Tariana Turia.
* Doubling of the rheumatic fever programme from $12m to $24m.
* Insulate 20,000 low-income homes.
* Progress iwi as housing providers through the Social Housing Unit.
* Provide places to reflect Maori youth unemployment rate (about 25 per cent) in new jobs and training programmes.
* Refocus Te Puni Kokiri on Maori employment, training, housing and education outcomes.
* Work on plain packaging for cigarettes.

What the article doesn't mention is the ructions Te Ururoa's ambition for co-leadership has caused. He gave some evasive answers yesterday and ended with "no comment" on how compatible his being a co-leader is if Pita remains a minister. Something's got to give here, 3 into 2 doesn't go:

Mrs Turia said it was "highly likely" she and Dr Sharples would remain in Parliament for the full term. "I'm starting to think after doing all of the hui that I might stay here 'til I'm 80 actually. I have had such a huge amount of people begging me to stay."

The deal: Relationship Accord and Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Māori Party at National.org.nz

While the great achievement - the silent victory - of the Maori Party (and also of the National Party) has been the diffusing of Maori-Pakeha racial angst by virtue of just being in a government with National, the cruch points that Hone brought to the table at the election: poverty, employment, housing and the tax mix will remain unachievable goals for the Maori Party.

The Nats, although outwardly moderated with Maori and United Future window-dressing, are just too right wing to put any emphasis on what Tariana or Pita want to do. How much will Whanau Ora recieve and what will the outcomes be? Will the poverty committee of ministers demonstrate anything more than a poverty of thinking?

The Committee will publicly release update reports no later than every six months, with the first update report being released mid-2012.

Six months to report? Does that sound urgent? How will a multi-agency approach work when Welfare cut-backs and punitive beneficiary-bashing is set to increase. They limit the "urgent" matters to a few points:

3. Initial initiatives to urgently address the effects of poverty
To support efforts to urgently address the effects of poverty in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Government and the Māori Party agree to implement the following initiatives:
 Double the funding of the Government’s rheumatic fever programme to $24m, to be spread over four years.
Healthy Homes
 Within the Warm Up NZ: Heat Smart programme, and together with other government grants, target 20,000 low-income homes for home insulation.
 Ensure every State house built before 1978 which can be practically insulated, will be insulated.

Of course, better than nothing, but one wonders whether National (possibly letting the Greens in for some tangible wins) would have made these commitments anyway.

There are two items in the deal which may provide concrete and meaningful social dividends, especially to Maori:

 The Government agrees to consider recognising the unique status of kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, kura-a-iwi, wānanga and Māori medium initiatives through their own statutory legislation.
 The Government will work with the Māori Party to progress establishment of skills- and trades-based academies.

Raising Te Reo Maori to the same status as the English language in schools is a long-term mission that will probably have an incremental progression this term and a trades type academies idea will probably mean the continuing survival of some marginal outfits facing WINZ/TEC cuts introduced with the reduced funding/availability Paula Bennett has inflicted last year. There will be some good news stories here, but is that enough to get into bed with National?

How will Assoc. Education Ministers John Banks and Pita Sharples work out? There is plenty of room for conflict.

I note that Te Ururoa has got his languishing private members bill to regulate pokies into the light of day:

14. Private Members Bills and Government Bills
The National Party agrees to support the following Māori Party-sponsored Private Members Bills through to select committee:
 The Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill,
 A cultural heritage bill to recognise Matariki/Puanga, and to honour the peace-making heritage established at Parihaka.

But that is to select committee only - not all the way through. Paul East, former National Attorney-General is the chief lobbyist for the pokies industry so that may explain the blind eye turned to their rorting and outright corruption - made possible by the fundamental conflicts of interest in the dodgy relationships between private charities, the owners of the machines and the owners of the venue. I'm not sure the Nats will want to overturn the ripp-offs that put a lot of money into their mates' pockets.

As for the cultural heritage bill, that looks interesting. Rahui Katene in the last parliament (she was voted out at this election) put up the Matariki Day bill to have the Maori New Year made a public holiday, but National shot it down. It was actually Hone who read out the remainder of Katene's speech on the bill after she faultered and sounded as though she would pass out! Once again I'm not confident that the Nats will want to give people a day off work, but a non-statutory holiday may make it through (although it is a half measure that may disappoint and a compromise they won't make).

An Opposition Speaker - the goal of the next Labour Party Leader

No matter who the Labour Party Coven selects to fight Key in 2014 - Mr Likable or Mr Ready Now, the first act of leadership would be for the new Labour Party leader to turn down the convention that see's the Opposition stand down an MP to allow the Government to elect it's Speaker.

They could argue that the controversial legislation that National wish to ram through should be scrutinized to the highest level and only an Opposition Speaker could ensure that level of scrutiny.

If Labour refused to pull out an MP, National would be forced to lose their majority if they selected Lockwood meaning the Maori Party would be kingmaker in any legislation meaning Asset Sales couldn't pass.

Instead of that outcome, National agree to an Opposition Speaker, either Trevor Mallard or Dr Pita Sharples.

So the question to ask to evaluate if this idea would be worthwhile is, how much does Labour oppose State Assets?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Citizen A this week with David Slack & Matthew Hooton

Citizen A - 8pm Friday Stratos Freeview 21 & Sky 89

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.

Issue 1: Shearer vs Cunliffe - what does Labour need? Mr ready now or Mr likable?

Issue 2: Charter schools - what's wrong with The McDonald's Creationist College buying public schools and running them for profit?

Issue 3: What's more believable? Treasury predictions on GDP growth or NZ First's Richard Prosser's call to ban the burqa?

Join Citizen A Facebook group

Friday, December 09, 2011

Russian elections

Is it a problem with Lieberman - as a thug? Is it a problem with Israel's coalition dynamics that throws up these unpalatable, extremist politicians? Is it a problem with Russia's relationship with Israel? Jerusalem Post:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a Thursday meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow that Russia's elections were free and democratic, Israel Radio reported. He based his assessment on determinations by Israeli observers participating in the election monitoring, he said.

Lieberman's position is opposed to the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the White House and former Russian leaders, which expressed concern over irregularities in the recent parliamentary election.
The campaign for Sunday's election was marked by "limited political competition and a lack of fairness," observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly said.

The vote count "was characterized by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot box stuffing," the monitors said in their preliminary report.

Probably only Belarus who would agree with Israel that the elections were OK - everyone else can see the Russians are still up to their old games.

There are many video clips of alleged vote-rigging on Youtube:

Euro crisis

Economist chart:
Despite the budget deficit blow-outs needed in order for European governments to retain their nations' standards of living in the wake of the credit pop three years ago I still consider the Euro more stable and with better long term prospects of stability than the US dollar. The graph shows the wide difference in fiscal constraint exercised by Germany and the outlying basket cases of Ireland and Greece who now face (a basically)imposed austerity to remain in the Euro-zone.

As our own Reserve Bank Governor described this week when he left the RBNZ's OCR at a record low 2.5%, the situation for the foreseeable future is a slow "grind". The external stimulus needed for economic expansion - and the repayment of that large debt overhang most Western countries face - depends on the emerging economies, themselves vulnerable to weak European and American consumption, steaming ahead. How long will this take - and is it possible to have the major Western economies in a slump and have the rest of the world maintaining high growth rates?

Major reconstruction of the Euro system - especially an agreement to link tax/revenue and spending into the equation (more stringently than at present with greater penalties that the big guys can't just wriggle out of as they have) seems necessary to many, but the issue of sovereignty may be insurmountable. An individual government's ability to operate internally an independent policy will be sacrificed, further sacrificed, to the centre (ie. to the politians in Berlin and the bankers of Frankfurt) and as the rejection of previous incremental Treaties has shown the European citizens of their respective states are loath to give up their self-determination.


Banning the burqa

When Mohammed was asked how people should dress and he replied, 'tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity' , do I think he meant wearing a glorified bedsheet with a slit in them for eyes? No, no I don't personally think he meant that at all. But it sure as hell isn't up to me to dictate to another religion how they should or shouldn't interpret their faith.

I live in NZ because it's a liberal progressive democracy that enshrines personal freedoms. If I want to wear a chicken suit and waltz down Queen street, I can.

The redneck, knuckle-dragging ignorance of NZ Firsts Richard Prosser's demand to tell Muslim Women what they can wear by banning the burqa is as totalitarian as the Islamic fanatics who force women to wear it in the first place.

How a person chooses to dress is not for the bloody State to determine, do we really want Richard Prosser in the closets of NZ policing what we choose to wear day to day?

I say, Richard Prosser, get out of our closets, and go back to yours.