- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BREAKING NEWS - Maori Party threaten to walk out of Government

As I broke yesterday on Tumeke, the removing of section 9 from SOE Act had all the potential of a massive shift in the political landscape. In the wake of the unpopular decision to sell productive farm land off to a regime that arrests bloggers, artists and Christians worshipping Easter (and had the audacity to claim resistance to China is racist), National are once again promoting deeply unpopular legislation in the form of asset sales and because they haven't dotted the I's and crossed the T's, they have tripped up.

Removing Section 9 that forces the Government to take into account the principles of the Treaty is simply a compromise too far for the Maori Party, because The Maori Party are no longer the political party for Maori, they are the political party for wealthy Maori. The corporate Iwi who sponsor them can not tolerate their possible slice of any asset sale waltzing off as easily as Crafar farms have to Beijing. Without any possible gain for their corporate Iwi sponsors, the Maori Party can not afford to continue to back policy as deeply unpopular as asset sales.

The problem for the Maori Party is that they are in desperate decline, their percentage of the vote in the Maori electorates has been shattered and the leadership are effectively retired. Flavel had his 7000 majority slashed in Waiariki to 1800 and MANA won 800 fewer party votes than the Maori Party in this once formidable Maori Party electorate. MANA was able to dent the Maori Party with only 3 months organization, give MANA 3 years and a continuing decline in economic performance, and the Maori Party will become a political footnote for 2014.

The damage of tactically deciding to stay at the table taking John Key's crumbs while having to swallow dead rat after dead rat has taken it's toll, and to stay at the table as Key strips Section 9 from the SOE Act is political suicide. The Maori Party have no choice but to walk and end Key's political camouflage. This political relationship was always designed to make National look far less extreme than they really are, with the pretense stripped away (if the Maori Party walk), Key will either be held hostage by the hard right of his Cabinet or actively try to find wider compromise if he wants that third term.

Will the Maori Party walk? iPredict seem to think so.


Citizen A online now: Keith Locke & Dr Wayne Hope

Issue 1: Ports of Auckland strike action continues - do the Ports of Auckland actually want to settle or do they just want to break the unions?

Issue 2: John Key's electorate chairman now wants to be NZ on Air chairman while censoring political documentaries that embarrass John Key. How very North Korean of us.

Issue 3: Occupation Auckland get's shut down. Is the occupation movement over?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Monday, January 30, 2012

Trouble for National - treaty blocks asset sales

Even amongst National Party voters, whoring off our assets are ethically seen as akin to molesting your pets. Why John Key thinks implementing more right wing free market bullshit to respond to a global economic crises caused by the exact same free market bullshit is a solution is anyones guess, and seeing as our insipid self censoring mainstream media are too frightened to hold Key to account on the issue, the electorate are none the wiser either.

There is real trouble however brewing for National's desires to whore off our assets, and to the shock of many a redneck who hates asset sales, it's the treaty that is blocking Key.

That's right my Pakeha brethren, that awful Treaty that so many seem to want to erase and forget because it highlights the broken promises made by our forefathers is actually blocking the asset sales National have planned and in response to this, National have sent their Maori Party mouthpieces out for a series of hui to beg Iwi leaders to erase section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986.

Most of the mainstream media are still either asleep from holiday or are too frightened of the Key Government in the wake of the Epsom Tea Pot Tape Police bullying (as attested by our sudden drop of 5 places in the worlds media freedom rankings last week), to question anything at the moment so aren't even aware of the significance of section 9. To help them out, here are the hui times that have been hastily arranged once National realized that section 9 could stop their privatization plans...

8 February 10.00am Distinction Hotel Rotorua

8 February 3.00pm Waikato Stadium Hamilton

9 February 3.00pm Wanganui Racecourse Wanganui

10 February 9.30am Toll Stadium Whangarei

10 February 3.30pm Novotel Auckland Airport Auckland

14 February 10.00am Waihopai Runaka Murihiku Marae Invercargill

14 February 4.00pm Chateau on the Park Christchurch

15 February 10.00am Emerald Hotel Gisborne

15 February 3.30pm Te Puni Kokiri Wellington

...why all the fuss over Section 9? Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986 says that the Crown will not act in a manner inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and flogging off assets we all own is utterly inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty.

This is an interesting angle, the idea that the Treaty could be used to actually protect the rights of everyone in NZ is a concept that will startle some Pakeha, but it's also the best chance of stopping our grinning multi-millionaire money trader from committing right wing economic vandalism by flogging off assets which can only be bought by the rich he's borrowed tax cuts for.

Once Close Up stop rehashing story ideas I did 7 years ago, the sleepy mainstream media should realize the significance of Section 9 and the Governments frantic attempt to smother it's importance.


Crafar farms: racism or economic nationalism?

The furore over the Crafar farms leaves me sitting in a position that might be called six of one, half a dozen of the other. It is difficult to argue that the reason why this particular sale has provoked such fury is not because it taps into an element of underlying racism, and a quick scroll through the Herald comments is all that is needed to evidence this. Anything that Winston jumps all over with such fervor is generally a clue that we are in the realm of exclusive notions of economic nationalism.

We are only two generations after World War II, and the argument that the Chinese abuse human rights and are quickly becoming a global power is difficult to maintain once one actually delves into the nitty gritty of foreign affairs. We are, after all, stuck in the middle of an escalating political theatre in the Pacific that has to do with the strategic location of minerals and rapidly declining fisheries stocks, not to mention the diplomatic aid in exchange for UN votes of small island nations. On the other side of this theatre sits the US, whom are equally open to allegations of human rights in their preference of war by proxy, or their geopolitical dominance that saw troops in 97 countries in a movement that is sometimes referred to as Obama's "axis of instability". This struggle for dominance at its current rate looks likely to be primarily played out through economic movements and aid, rather than any kind of warfare, despite the cattle calls and the establishment of a US base in Darwin. Posturing is central to foreign affairs, and countries frequently call their opponent's bluff. Unless the US is foolish enough to invade Iran, the current balance looks likely to be maintained with China. That Europe is attempting to look to China for a bailout signals that relations have not really thawed that much, and China has been increasingly keen in recent years to be seen as a responsible superpower within the international arena. If we want to have some degree of independence from US foreign policy in this environment, playing ball with China to a certain extent is inevitable. The ethics around the human rights argument is even trickier - there is some evidence to suggest that cutting trade ends up hurting the people at the bottom most. Beyond that there is also the obvious - there are a large amount of people in New Zealand that benefit from the inequality in wages and labour levels (not to mention those on iPads, iPhones or Macs whose products are made in factories with suicide nets where the workers are paid around 70 cents an hour, or the fact that most of our electronic devices contain Coltan mined by children in the war-torn Congo). I don't support this kind of exploitation, I am merely pointing out the hypocrisy in the Crafar farms being the flashpoint issue.

In this sense, the right are correct in stating that the issues around the Crafar farms tap into notions of racism. There has been a lot of land that has been sold over the last couple of years, and Labour had sold prime South Island farmland to American songstress Shania Twain. John Key estimates 1% of our land has been sold in total, Federated Farmers say 2%. The fact that we as a people have not gotten as upset over land sales to British and America says a lot. Labour and the Greens' argument that share milkers want to save up to buy their own farms is almost farcical given the prohibitive cost of farm ownership. Let's face it, owning a farm is going to be out of the reach of most people. Considering that only around 0.2% of the population are members of Fonterra (representing 13,000 farmers), and in 2009-2010 they collected 89% of milk production, the odds of upward mobility to farm ownership are not particularly high for farm workers, with the median farm sale price sitting at $3.57 million.

This is not to say that everyone opposing the sale is racist, far from it. Anyone in politics will tell you that their arguments depend on the opinion of voters, and National hitting a raw nerve has left Labour the opportunity to attack. Shearer would be stupid to pass up an opportunity like this on a platter. Land is a flashpoint issue in New Zealand, and forms much of our national identity despite around 85% of us living in towns and cities. Key is out of step with voters here, and this allows Labour, the Greens and Mana the opportunity to further entrench the position that this is a government that does not listen to the opinion of their people. The Crafar farms sale also places stress on National's relationship with the Maori Party, who they need for their majority and who see the sale as operating outside the interests of the iwi they represent.

However, the wider debate that needs to take place is on foreign ownership. The public reaction signals that there needs to be a wider debate around the legislation that the Overseas Investment Office operates on, particularly given the now transnational nature of dairying and agriculture. Transnational dairying and agriculture is becoming a flashpoint for economic imperialism that is of immense concern, and can have devastating effects on subsistence farmers. The perpetrators of this movement extend to the Ivy League universities, who have been investing in African land grabs. To me, there is something ironic in the fact that while we sell off our productive land to foreign entities, Fonterra is engaged in Latin American expansion that is also subject to similar criticism. Fonterra has farms in China, Brazil and they are looking to extend this to India. Take the example of Fonterra's rejected bid for a merger with Nestle in Chile, as this article from the National Business Review illustrates:

Fonterra abandons merger with Nestle in Chile

The text, which had not yet been submitted for consideration by the Senate, argued that the merger would cause serious harm to domestic, damage competition among companies in the sector and negatively affect dairy farmers.

Chile's Agriculture Minister, Jose Antonio Galilea, earlier this year criticised the proposed merger and said that an "excessive concentration of certain industries" would naturally end up affecting producers. Mr Antonio Galilea noted issues related to unfair competition and transparency.

Chile's National Economic Prosecutor, Felipe Irarrazabal, said the merger "in the opinion of this office" was not positive and mitigation measures were not sufficient to offset the risks involved.

The president of the National Federation of Milk Producers in Chile, Dieter Konow, warned that a company such as Soprole, which controlled more than about 60% of the market, was "free to set the prices for both sales and purchases of dairy products [...] it is not good to a social market economy."

Soprole and Nestlé Chile applied in late November to the Court of Free Competition in Chile (TDLC) for a ruling on the merger, which they claimed would increase milk consumption in Chile by promoting and expanding the product categories the two companies sold.

In much of Latin America, Fonterra has been managing its investments through Dairy Partners America (DPA) joint venture with Nestlé, which operates 13 manufacturing sites in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador These are separate to Soprole, in Chile.

Mr Ferrier said Soprole would now focus on continuing to grow its consumer business in Chile.

"Soprole already has a very strong position in the Chile market and has been posting strong growth in recent years. The team is now focused on building on that strong foundation."

Farming is such a huge part of our economy, and we must preserve our resources, which ultimately are our land. While I have little doubt that selling our productive land and investing in developing nations makes economic sense in the short term, it is difficult to predict how the conditions in these countries will change in the longer term. Land is becoming increasingly multinational, and it is time to have a debate around these issues.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finally an Australia Day I can get behind

The smug Fosters drenched manner in which Australia celebrates Australia Day has always seemed bizarre when put into context of their near genocidal racist Aboriginal history. It's like a cultural blindspot they ignore with the same fever white apartheid South Africans used to.

This flag burning anger that saw Gillard and Abbott shown the contempt they deserve is a far more appropriate image for Australia Day.


NZ Media still in Stockholm syndrome with Key Government

John Key has now forced a Government appointee onto the Christchurch City Council to 'observe' - this after Key stole the South Islands democratic water council to give his greedy farmer mates more water and rammed through legislation to make Gerry Brownlee accountable to no Court in the wake of the earthquake. I love how if Labour had pulled authoritarian shit like this the NZ Herald would be calling for open rebellion - Key does it and there is mainstream media silence - lap it up sleepy hobbits.

The exact same point of how weak the media's criticisms are can be made about National's mythical budget surplus that every single one of us with the most basic grasp of economics knew would NEVER happen by 2014 which surprise, surprise Key now says might not be met now.

Same point can be made about the Crafar farm sale to China when everyone knew that's what Key would do if he won in November.

This Government are increasingly becoming more and more authoritarian and the unchecked powers they are handing themselves should be forcing some in the mainstream media to end their on going honeymoon with John Key, amusingly it hasn't.

The mainstream media seem to have Stockholm syndrome when it comes to Key. Forget my banning from Radio NZ's insipid self censorship for criticizing Key, forget that Key set the cops onto our four largest broadcasters for a tea pot tape in Epsom that was more tedious than terrible, forget TVNZ7 being sold to a shopping channel, forget the killing off of regional TV, forget the fact Sky Tv will make $120million profit due to the near monopoly position they have under National, forget that Key's electorate chairman is on NZ on Air and censoring political docos that embarrass the Government, forget all that - how about the very simple fact that in terms of media freedoms, our country has gone backwards under John Key...

NZ slips out of top 10 for freedom in the media

New Zealand has dropped out of the top 10 countries for media freedom after a year in which police searched newsrooms over the now-infamous "teapot tapes".

In its annual press freedom index, advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranked New Zealand 13th in the world for media freedom last year - down five places from eighth in 2010.

...I personally love Key's justification for appointing his electorate chairman to NZ on Air to censor political docos...

He said Mr McElrea raised objections in response to complaints from members of the public

...oh really, that's all he was doing was it John, if that's the case, how come McElrea was complaining BEFORE the doco even went to air? He's voicing concerns about a doco that no one had seen because it hadn't screened yet? Are we to believe that McElrea is psychic? The fact McElrea is now wanting to be chairman of NZ on Air should send chills.

The much awaited expansion of search and surveillance Police powers are to be debated in the first half of this year, my fears are that these draconian expansions of Police power will be given to all State departments and the sleepy hobbits of NZ will be none the wiser or less apathetic.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Why we need to sell Crafar farms to China

So John Key has finally managed to find the guts to tell NZers what he had quietly decided to do some time ago, and that is to sell the first beachhead into NZ Dairy farming by allowing China to buy the Crafar farms. The OIO withheld their decision for 9 months so that it would occur this side of the election so Key didn't have to fight the election on it.

Some on the right in the blogosphere claim attacks on China is racist - what nonsense. We are allowing a country that arrests artists, bloggers and Christians for worshipping Easter to have more power over our economy, having concerns about a totalitarian nation owning our productive land isn't racism, it's legitimate.

Some will point out that China only owns 1% and that we never bitch about Australia or the US owning us, that's a ridiculous misrepresentation because I don't want those buggers owning NZ either!

For Key however, the decision was easy. He is our first true internationalist Prime Minister, he doesn't see issues in terms of sovereign nations, he sees it in terms of currencies, 24 hour global speculative trading and how much total milk powder we sell to China.

Key has no choice but to sell Crafar to the Chinese, the shocking free trade deal he is cutting with the American's where he is effectively signing our economic sovereignty away to US corporations means he has to placate China to some degree.

By making NZ America's pet, Key has to pacify our massive Chinese trading partner whose recent resource grab has so insulated our economy.

By selling us out to America's interests, Key has managed to weaken our ability to resist China's.

That sound you hear is David Lange as he rolls in his grave at what National has down to our independent foreign policy.


Dirty SkyCity deal shows how to bribe Government for law changes

Is there any better example of the brutal political thuggery of buying ones own legislation than the dirty deal being quietly cut for Sky City?

The situation is this, the Government have millions to give for the building of a new convention centre in Auckland to attract more conventions and boost economic gains from having those conventions.

Proposal one is that the Edge becomes the convention centre while money goes into rebuilding the St James as an arts venue. This would strengthen Auckland Counsels business model for The Edge while restoring one of Queen streets fading jewels, the St James.

Proposal two however is Sky City taking public space for a 'convention' centre that they will pay for. The quid pro quo Agent Starling is that John Key has to loosen up the rules of the amount of pokie machines Sky City is allowed while also loosening the advertising rules so Sky city can milk more out of problem gamblers.

The reason why Proposal two is a joke is because increasingly professional industries are making it part of their ethical position NOT to hold conventions at Casinos, so the pretense that this Sky City convention centre will gain for Auckland is a nonsense, the only way Sky City will make money out of this is if they can con more locals into spending there, hence Sky City's demand to loosen the advertising regulations.

Buying policy as blatantly as this is becoming a familiar part of this Government's policy platform. Sky City will be joining the mining industry, Farmers and the wealthy as those with enough coin to buy the National Party out right.

Sleepy Hobbits reap what they sow.


The Standard announce they have terminal cancer

Terrible news that 'The Standard' has terminal cancer. I don't read 'The Standard' much, so appreciate I am coming to this issue late, but it is terribly sad that they now have the tedious and dreadfully dull Imperator Fish as a regular columnist in their attempt at a broadening humor that will appeal beyond their fetish with Farrar and Slater (for the record Farrar and Slater are supposed to be mocked, not taken seriously).

Why The Standard thinks it needs more of a sanctimonious whiney tone by bringing on Imperator Fish is anyone's guess, next they'll be appointing Tim Watkins as Editor and anyone who wrote for The Listener post Findlay McDonald.


The Standard will be sadly missed.


Dear Auckland Council - how stupid can you be over the Occupation?

There are moments of utter stupidity by people in authority that makes one roll ones eyes and shake ones head. The decision by the Auckland Council to send in the security thugs and NZ Police using dirty filthy tactics to hide their identities to clear out the occupation protestors is one such moment of utter stupidity.

Auckland Council, you've just given these protestors grievance. Well done idiots.

Forget the fact that the Occupation movement is RIGHT when they protest at the despicable way corporate finance has been used to empower the 1% while molesting the remaining 99%, forget that there is an ongoing Court case to settle whether the protestors can leave, let's just focus on the reality that the Occupiers themselves were so close to leaving altogether.

Having been down at the camp myself, talking to many of the protestors and fragmented leadership, it's clearly apparent they accept the movement is losing steam and they wanted to look at new ways of making the occupation movement work. I suggested 'flash occupations' using social media networks, and many there were looking for a way to move on. The manner however in which the the Council roughed up protestors yesterday means that the issue is now personal and protestors don't seem to want to do anything more than dig their heels in.

The Council have made their bed, now they can lie in it.

By the way Len, real leadership would have been to take the costs of the occupation to central Government and demand that they pay them as it is John Key's policies that are increasing poverty and inequality.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teapot tape now online

The notorious recording of the PM and John Banks having a chat is now online.

This recording was deemed so sensitive that the PM went to the NZ Police to have it stopped - and they duly obtained warrants to search news organisations that might have a copy. A Nixonian paranoia and a Nixonian reaction made possible by a weak media and a conflicted police service that is appointed by and responsible to the PM.

So what's on the tape?

It's 10:45 long.

Starts with voices of handlers shooing the media away. Then they talk about what a good media turnout they have - about 30 press. Then Key talks about polling, saying he expects National to ease to 50%: "around 49".

JB: "the left have been nasty"... "you have no idea how vicious they've been, especially at public meetings [...] we can handle that..."
JB: "Someone said that you'd be working with... ah, ah..."

Now there is no name mentioned but they both know who they mean. There's a lot of nod, nod, wink, wink with that - are they talking about a journo, a consultant? Then Key tells Banks what he will say to the media when they finish their cuppa. You can hear the clinking cups etc. so the "teapot". Then Banks tells Key what he should say:

JB: "You might be inclined to say 'I know John quite well' [...]
JB: Do you think Winston will cross the line?
JK: "Not a dog's show. He's at 2.5 on TV3 [...] He won't poll much over three..."
JB: Labour have given up on Epsom. [...] Labour are nasty...
JK: The reason I don't text is it puts you under pressure to say whether he has or hasn't [...]
JB: I haven't talked to you. [...] Catherine and the 4 of us [...] restructure the party...

So Banks thought he could get 4 in. They got only himself in in the end, but he was still confident at this point - just as Key was that Winston wouldn't make it. Act falling and certainly the rise of NZ First was in large part due to the existence of this recording.

JB: He's a strange fellow the other fellow, isn't he
JK: Mmm, yeah, oh yeah. Yeah, no, we've been down that road. The reason why when they rang me in the UK I never ever thought that [...] 15% a snap election.
JB: No, no, I didn't know, I didn't know.

That odd fellow they refer to is Don Brash. What the hell 15% and snap elections have to do with anything and why Banks is claiming profusely that he didn't know is odd. The tape is a almost inaudible at that point because they go into a whisper. People only whisper like that if it's dodgy. So was Key contemplating a snap election?

JK: So, you want to go? Is that yours? Is that yours? Is that yours? [...] Hey, that's a recording device!

No shit.

John Key was prepared to stuff what little we have of a constitution down the shredding machine when he called in the police to heavy the media - all over what? What matter of state security was mentioned that could possibly merit what he did?

Extraditing Dotcom Euro-geeks for Hollywood

The Megaupload arrests seem to have more to do with America trying to encroach their jurisdiction into cyber space for the benefit of Hollywood's profit margin, while telling China that NZ's aquiesance shows Beijing that we are America's property.

With the Pacific increasingly becoming the proxy that China and the US will wage their new cold war through, NZ will need to work out how to play these two giants off against each other without getting crushed.

As we get closer to signing the free trade deal with America, we need to appreciate the vast level of sovereignty John Key will be signing over to American International Corporates.

The Food Bill, the East Coast oil drilling and the Megaupload arrests are all glaring examples of America's insistence that we are going home with them after the dance, and that America is not taking no for an answer.

That sound you hear is David Lange turning in his grave at the lack of an independent foreign policy.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going, going...

Labour are on to a winner as they sense and follow populist nationalism over the Crafar Farm sell-off. National risk losing that populist advantage if they allow the Chinese to buy it up, but risk damaging the relationship with China if they try to stop it.

The Nats would prefer Fay & co. find an extra few dozen million to satisfy the reciever, but realistically the Chinese are prepared to out-bid anyone for the strategic beachhead into the dairy supply chain, the security of freehold land tenure and an opportunity to safely store and passively increase the value generated by their trade surplus. That's why talk of a "market price" when Chinese (and ultimately the Chinese government) is involved is not an accurate descriptor in these cases.

NZ Herald: Labour leader David Shearer will visit one of the Crafar farms today to highlight his opposition to a bid to buy the farms by a Chinese company
The Overseas Investment Office is currently considering the bid by Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy the farms, which could then be leased back to Landcorp.

It will then have to be approved by Government ministers.

Mr Shearer said he did not believe the bid added value to New Zealand and would see vast tracts transfer to foreign ownership.

There is no added value - they aren't building anything they are just wanting to take it over and become landlords (if the LandCorp lease-back concept is to be believed). The only "value-adding" there would be is of the purely economic sort where raw numbers matter more than quality and the negative effects on others; probably via the Chinese firm importing lowly-paid Chinese labour and management on the farms to increase their profit margin - they would see this as economic efficiency and productivity and thus "value-adding" but that is not going to actually benefit the local population or this country's interests.

However, the previous Labour government gave preference to Chinese over Canadians in the ability to own strategic assets:

Stuff from 2008: Wellington's electricity network has been sold to a company controlled by Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, in a deal the Government is expected to approve.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure, an international infrastructure investor listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, will pay Vector $785 million for the network.

Mr Ka-shing has been a director of Chinese state-owned companies and is thought to be close to the government.
it is unlikely the Government will oppose the sale, though it recently blocked a Canadian pension fund from buying 40 per cent of Auckland International Airport.

The sale is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval and it is likely that Finance Minister Michael Cullen will have the final say. A spokesman from his office said the Wellington network was not on land deemed sensitive, so the test for foreign ownership would be less rigorous than for the airport.

Dr Cullen has said the Government does not consider the network to be as strategic an asset as the airport.

Prime Minister Helen Clark echoed that view, saying last night that because the network was not on sensitive land it would not trigger the same criteria for consideration.

If the Labour government was pro-Chinese there seems little reason the Nats won't be too, and for the same reasons: fear and greed.

The Nat's will most likely continue this policy of selling network and wholesale assets to China as a preferred partner nation that the Free Trade Agreement seems to have established. These precedents - along with the increasingly sychophantic yielding of both parties to the American corporate machine - are being set and they bode ill for this country's economic independence and sovereignty.

It is interesting, perhaps ironic, that China - a victim of European colonialism and the imposition of foreign jurisdictions during most of the last two centuries - and their antithesis, the US - an aggressive colonising, expansionist power with vehemently protectionist articles of faith - should both find their strongest support (and that is to say they have met the weakest defence) in New Zealand. NZ is still a colony - but of whom?

UPDATE | 1:10pm:

The US?

NBR: North Shore district court judge David McNaughton has just released his reserved decision denying bail to Mr Dotcom. His three associates, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, will have their bail applications considered today.

Mr Dotcom will remain in custody pending an application by the United States government - specifically the FBI – to have him extradited to face indictments involving about $US500 million of alleged internet piracy, money-laundering and racketeering against the copyrighted film, television and music business.

He has been remanded in custody until February 22.

China (and Japan and other Asian countries attempting to be colonised) were forced by a succession of naval threats and battles into giving the foreign occupying powers a right to extend their laws into areas of these countries - including land laws. Japan fought for years to have the leases that resulted terminated as did China. India eventually took over French and Portugese colonies on the Indian coast after the British left. And here is NZ two generations later letting the outside powers do as they please - wilfully abetting the intrusion of their jurisdiction, acting as their agents.

Locking up gregarious Euro-geeks for the supposed crimes of distributing Hollywood videos without permission doesn't seem justified at all for commercial infringements whose remedy can only ever be financial. The criminalisation of copyright breach into a jailable felony is nothing short of piracy - the word the Hollywood lobby has misused to define the offence. If anyone is hijacking a vessel it is Hollywood hijacking the NZ government and the legal system, not someone making a copy of something someone else has copied - that is the opposite of piracy, they are giving not taking. If anything Hollywood is only entitled to a cut of what Megaupload has made - not some fanciful, inflated figure used to spook the naive and intimidate the judiciary into thinking the losses are real. Only a very small fraction of the people copying would have paid the full, bloated Hollywood price for the downloads.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Well done Close Up, only 7 years behind me

Close Up have gone on line, posed as an underage girl and met with the men and filmed their responses to why they were grooming online children for sex. Well done Close Up, great to see you are catching up. I did the same thing 7 years ago on TV3's Stake Out, except we did it with under age prostitutes, on line grooming, and the ease of buying kiddie porn. Sadly the harassment of children on line and the endless line of men wanting to exploit them hasn't changed at all in 7 years.


When NZ Police act like this at the Occupation they are pigs

The alpha male culture of Police is nothing new. The investigation into the sexual provincial culture of sado-masochistic Police orgies where women were gang banged and raped has been investigated and still managed to not dent NZs authority worship culture.

We hand vast spying powers to break into our homes and plant cameras with no more than a sniff warrant that becomes open ended and ongoing and no one in this country blinked when the NZ Police killed George Tipene Harris.

Our blessed boys in blue had spent 7 years defending the beating in the back of a Police car of George Tipene Harris, George of course managed to escape the illegal beating in the back of a Police car that two other Police Officers had turned a blind eye to and while fleeing the illegal beating in the back of the Police Car he ran into the path of a streetsweeper and was killed. Clint has been let off even though the two other cops who turned a blind eye to the illegal beating in the back of the Police car confessed their role in conspiring to defeat the course of justice by covering up the beating.

This has led the NZ Police to claim there is no code of silence for Police cover ups...

Police deny 'code of silence' in coverups

Court action stretching over seven years against police charged with coverups of an alleged assault on a suspect, who later died, ended this week with police denying a "blue code of silence" culture exists.

This week the High Court at Auckland granted an application for proceedings to be stayed against Clinton Lyall Hill, 36, a constable from South Auckland.

He had been through two trials in 2009 and 2010 with juries unable to reach verdicts after being charged with assault on George Tipene Harris, 24, and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

While off duty Mr Hill had arrested an intoxicated Mr Harris in the early hours of October 3, 2004, for trying to steal his mobile phone. He hailed a passing patrol car which he put Mr Harris in, and was later accused of beating him up in the back seat.

Mr Harris got away, ran on to Great South Rd and was hit and killed by a street sweeper truck. Mr Hill was initially charged with manslaughter, but in his first trial the jury threw that charge out.

Two Police Officers confess to covering up the illegal beating of a man that leads to his death, but there are no illegal police cover ups? John Dewar? What about the case of autistic man Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp who was given the bash by Christchurch Cops for supposedly looting?

There are no issues with Police cover ups in NZ, just like there are no issues with Charlie Sheen opening a kindergarten day care centre.

The only way Cops get busted for bashing is when they accidentally bash the son of a detective.

This case of letting basher cops off whose actions kill could be a new recruitment tool I suppose rather than the tasteless and sexist cougar adverts the Police were defending the use of to cut through to a bored younger arsehole demographic.

So does it actually surprise me that Police while heavy handing the Occupation protestors yesterday wore the same Police ID number? Of course it doesn't, by wearing the same Police ID number there was no way anyone roughed up by the police can complain about them.

Sadly our 'Independent' Police Conduct Authority is only funded to investigate 30% of complaints or stories that gain a large amount of embarrassing media attention, if you get bashed make for your facebook asap or there's no way you can gain an independent review of your case.

With vast new surveillance powers to be passed that give Police an incredible level of unchecked power to spy on us, our culture of cop worship seems more Stockholm syndrome than sensible management of police power.


Food Bill + Megauploads + oil drilling = we are America's bitch: Welcome to the new cold war Sino-US friction point

New Zealand is the new friction point of the US-China cold war as both battle for influence and world power dominance through their proxies scattered across the Pacific.

How NZ plays America off against China to maximize their new combined focus on us is a test that seems beyond the current John Key Government, because make no mistake, the Food Bill, the Megaupload arrests and the fetid desires of American Oil companies promising to turn the East Coast into the Texas of the South Pacific are all connected to the Free Trade deal with America and they are all clear international signals to China from the US that NZ is their bitch.

China has had a recent fixation with NZ as it has expanded into the Pacific. As Fran O'Sullivan so brilliantly explained in her ground breaking 2010 column, China sees NZ as a testing ground for it's lowest cost capitalism model because its current success with lowest cost capitalism is reliant on it working in 3rd world countries with little first world labour regulations. Testing their model of capitalism in NZ allows China to learn how to use their lowest cost capitalism in the West. China used NZ to test out a Free Trade structure and went so far at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo to make NZ the only other country allowed to share 'China' day at the Expo.

America's response to China encroaching upon their Pacific backyard has been an increase in free trade deals to ensure it's economic hegemonic dominance in the region while backing it up with military muscle. Fiji has been targeted for a new US base, the build up of American naval power in the Pacific continues and the Marines are being sent to Australia.

What the draconian and Monsanto inspired Food Bill, alongside the arrests of Megaupload for threatening Hollywood profit margins and America's sudden interest in East Coast oil all represents are multi-armed manifestations of the secret Free Trade deal America is currently attempting to strong arm us into signing.

As Wikileaks pointed out, the real insult to injury here is that NZ get's nothing out of this secret trade deal. 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 and New Zealand would need to "manage" public expectations about the benefits of a US free-trade agreement, this despite John Key's claim the deal would be worth 'Billions and Billions' to us.

Sadly, John Key's love affair with America rules out us having an independent foreign policy any longer as these three recent examples show:

FOOD BILL: 'Monsanto-inspired-regulation-that-allows-for-Genetically-Modified-Organisms-dressed-up-as-food-safety' is a more accurate description of the 'Food Bill' but thanks to no NZPA reporting on bills moving through legislation, Labour and the Greens have been caught with their pants down on this issue.

Shamefully, New Zealand was one of the nations that took the EU to court in 2005/6 for banning the importation of GMOs on biosecurity grounds. The US lead the action arguing that the EU as a member of the WTO had no right to prevent the importation of GMOs by citing ideals within the Cartagena Protocol. NZ, Canada, Australia the US were joined by Monsanto in this legal action. And they won the case. Europe was ordered in 2007 to open its trade lines to GMOs.

The Food Bill is a tidy up job to make sure no future Government can unpick the Free Trade bill that allows for Monsanto to force it's GMO's throughout the food structure.


This joke over reaction for a copyright infringement is jaw dropping. ‎76 police officers to arrest internet geeks who 'cost' Hollywood $500million, South Canterbury Finance 'costs' us $1.7billion and I didn't see armed offenders squads converging on Allan Hubbards' home. Check out what you can be extradited from NZ to America for - it doesn't mention copyright, racketeering or money laundering.

Would we ever prostitute our Police service to a Chinese company demanding this level of compliance for a mere copyright infringement?

It would never happen.

Megaupload had 25 petabytes of storage and 1000 servers leased in US data centres operated by Carpathia Hosting, plus a further 36 servers leased from US-based Cogent Communications. How can this constitute as US territory when Youtube, Google and a host of other companies do what Megaupload does?

The Free Trade deal allows Hollywood to suddenly put their copyright infringement on par with drug dealing and war crimes. This is America marking it's territory on NZ telling the planet that US jurisdiction now stretches all the way into cyberspace.


Despite the Rena highlighting what deregulation of our safety maritime safety infrastructure leaves us with, the Key Government can't cut deals with US companies to mine and drill NZ fast enough. While the profit will be private, any pollution will certainly end up as a public cost and the Free Trade deal could be used by TAG oil to argue that any attempt to legislate environmental safety laws would be against TAG's 'right' to make a profit here.

In a world where oil is peaking and the fear begins to drive up the price and China and America are locked in a Mexican stand off to be the next Super power, how will tiny, insignificant NZ be able to withstand the type of influence we would see if we found as much oil as the Government is hopeful of? Where ever oil has been found in such quantities, the corporate influence of war and political thuggery is not too far behind. Will we end up the slave of America or China and will NZ be tricked as easily as every other small country who has found oil into descending into the internal political chaos that makes extraction so easy by those outside influences?

Let's forget the wisdom of using MORE oil to release pollution into an increasingly fragile bio-sphere that is already struggling with the pollution we are currently pumping into it, surely we should see that every dollar spent on extracting oil is a dollar not spent on researching new green solutions.

Each of these examples can be added to the long list of fish hooks this Free Trade deal will catch us on...

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

...effectively this is a debate about national sovereignty vs codex alimentarius style legal structures, our ability to write our own law against allowing cut and paste legislation written by American corporate interests to trump domestic legislation.

'Free' trade with America is like 'good' cancer. It doesn't exist.

Sleepy Hobbits who trust grinning multi-millionaire money traders reap what they sow.


NZ On Air censorship must be addressed

National Man eyes New Zealand On Air Chair

New Zealand On Air chairman Neil Walter is expected to stand down soon with National Party official Stephen McElrea a contender to replace him, television industry sources say.

The two men have been at the centre of a controversy over the timing of Bryan Bruce's documentary on child poverty screened four days before the election, claiming it opened the funding quango to accusations of bias.

McElrea complained to NZ On Air which sent TV3 a terse letter of complaint but TV3 went ahead anyway.

Critics have complained that NZ On Air, far from ensuring its reputation for independence, overreacted.

Walter is due to retire soon and it is understood McElrea has indicated interest to the Government in the role or in being appointed as deputy chairman, two production industry sources said.

In the past the funding agency has been headed by a senior public servant such as Mr Walter.

It is understood the Ministry for Culture and Heritage is recommending a former staffer from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

It is of significant worry that Stephen McElrea may be appointed Chairman of NZ On Air given the controversy that surrounds the Board's actions over the Bryan Bruce Inside Child Poverty documentary and his role in attempting to place pressure on broadcasters over their scheduling. NZ On Air is supposed to be independent and encourage quality programming, a mandate that is threatened by their political interference and paranoia before the previous election. As child poverty is an issue that belongs to all parties, and indeed was something that Key campaigned on in the 2008 election with his visit to McGehan Close, there is everything wrong with NZ On Air's attempt to strong-arm TV3 over its scheduling. This must be resolved before a new Chair is appointed, and McElrea's role in starting the emails should mean that he is out of the running due to his conduct.

The Screen Directors Guild have expressed their concerns over the potential appointment, with some producers stating that it is already influencing their approach to funding. This is an organization that I used to work for, and in my role teaching film at university I have many industry connections and understand the funding process well. To some extent, the damage has already been done. Directors and producers are already acutely aware of the political demands that influence funding decisions. The documentary environment is incredibly tough in New Zealand, and people are dependent on funding and the nod from a broadcaster to get funding. As their application for funding sheet notes, you need a written statement of interest from a broadcaster and also to list the broadcaster's financial contribution. New Zealand has a hybrid or mixed model of broadcasting, where despite the influence of the public service broadcasting model from Britain during the establishment of television in our country, the tough terrain and small population has meant that our television has always had to incorporate a commercial influence. In recent decades TVNZ has come under increasing political pressure to operate under a business model and return dividends, placing our sole public broadcaster in the precarious position of having to fulfill both commercial and cultural imperatives. This means that broadcasters already function as gatekeepers in a system that favors a ratings-driven model. When an hour of quality drama costs the same amount as hours of reality TV brought in from overseas, you can see the quandary that the industry finds itself in. The difficulty of balancing ratings and informative, quality works that promote the same kind of debate that is essential to a functioning democracy and society can be seen in the history of the TVNZ Charter in bizarre incidents such as Rick Ellis' 2007 claim that Police Ten-7 was Maori representation.

Some of the right wing bloggers such as David Farrar have positioned this kind of censorship as fine. With all due respect, they have little understanding of the industry. I anecdotally know of many people who have altered their applications to this and other funding bodies due to the politics of the time. There is certainly a perception among those in the industry that certain topics are sensitive and less likely to get funding already. This does not need to be entrenched further.

Farrar and the Libertarianz have argued that the documentary is factually incorrect. For the Libertarianz, this revolves around the use of the word 'free market economy'. Technically we don't have a free market, although this is tapping into debates around the moves to deregulate the market under the 1984 Labour Government. However, one would have to have been hiding under a rock since 1984 to not hear debates that have couched their argument using this turn of phrase, and semantic correctness in some senses is always at peril to a phrase's use in popular culture. It is difficult to argue that the documentary has not promoted debate and also given the right a platform to circulate their ideas, as I have seen in the numerous criticisms between the comparison of the documentary's use of Norway as a model for child development. It seems while Norway is fine to mention in the Welfare Working Group's report, it is not okay in a documentary surrounding our children. Critics have argued that Norway can only afford to do this because of their mining, for example, or that Norway has suffered economically for its reforms. The notion that the documentary only promoted one-sided debate is quite frankly a fallacy; it did what all good documentaries should do in providing a vehicle for the issue to be raised and debated. I have no idea why some on the right find this so threatening and the only conclusion that I can come to is that this is a debate that they do not want to have, even if they are capable of developing arguments over the issue. If there's one dictum that should always ring true, you shouldn't be in politics if you can't handle a debate and when it comes to the distinction between mice and men, perhaps we have mice.

The truth is that there is no one answer to this problem and the debate deserves to be raised otherwise we wouldn't be debating it. The world according to McElrea or Farrar is not a democracy, a democracy is made up of all of our perspectives, and rightly so as no matter how smart one individual is, there is always a perspective or insight that someone has not thought of yet. It is precisely during an election that I would hope that this debate can come to the forefront, rather than being swept under the carpet. This is our children, our future, and there is something quite worrying about limiting the debate to crime rather than discussing the societal factors that might be implicit in creating these conditions.

This is censorship, make no mistake, and this will have an impact on the industry. McElrea needs to apologize or step down from the Board as it is clear that his appointment, whether it be from concerns emanating from the National Party or his own gung-ho attitude to public broadcasting, is limiting his ability to perform his duties as a public appointee.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mr Dotcom's bondage

The cops have a lot to prove in order to outski Mr Dotcom. He's got a QC in the fight and could probably afford a small army of them if things get rough - appealing every step of the way:

Kim Dotcom, 37, and three others have been accused by the FBI of money laundering, racketeering and copyright piracy in relation to their file sharing website Megauploads. The Megaupload company was indicted in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, on Thursday.

The four accused are appearing at North Shore District Court to defend the charges and fight extradition to the United States.

Anne Toohey for the Crown, representing the United States, argued that Mr Dotcom poses an extreme flight risk and may reoffend if he is allowed bail and asked the judge to turn down the request.

For the Crown... for the United States? Like one was the other. The way the NZ governments behave it is the same. And the US = America Inc. Warner Bros clicks their fingers there, the government jumps on cue over here. Wellington is not difficult to direct.

There are many questions needing an answer, but one of them I'm wanting to know is what happens to these immigrant-investor's $10m NZ government bond holdings? The investment was a good one, but surely that money must be returned to the NZ Crown - not the Americans.


From 1 January to last Monday there were 503 emails awaiting my attention in the main inbox. Not a lot for two and a bit weeks because of the holidays, but approaching the point of overload. Everyone with a desk job faces the same experience on return to the office. The same daunting task.

The cull.

There were only 19 I wanted to look at. That's 3.8% of 503. The other 96.2% of those emails were not worth opening for one reason or another - mostly inconsequential facebook-generated messages - about 100 alone from New Year's well-wishers.

Then I notice one email I was curious enough to want to open has an earlier message inviting me to some Dub Step thing. They may be friends on facebook but if they knew me well enough to know what I think of Dub Step's older and equally zoned-out wigger/hippy brother, Drum & Base, they wouldn't have bothered to invite me to some Dub Step thing. Move to trash, delete. So now there's only 18 out of 503.

In order of importance:

1. Email from MB. Don't really need to open this one, I can guess it will be what Mr Bradbury sends every year about this time: What the fuck are you doing about the blog? What the fuck are we doing? When are you going to get your shit together? He'll ask it in a much cooler way than that, but that's what it will be. I will ponder this for whatever period is probably too long and bordering on rude, then I'll be forced to over-promise in order to rectify and placate and because I feel bad about potentially having been rude. Always difficult conversations when there is naturally a New Year's expectation of planning having been done... and little evidence of it from anyone. I have about a dozen ideas that could make a difference, but they involve considerable effort and commitment, financial and human, that are beyond me just at the moment. Many of the scenarios are a matter of knowing how to indecently whore oneself out at a decent price. It's icky, but it's a necessity. Everyone driving content and pulling in substantial traffic faces the same questions of decency and whoredom. My co-bloggers are the best at what they do; we'll take it to the next level together. This year?/!

2. Automated bill. One of those have-to-pays. Do it online.

3-5. Facebook: The 336 friends awaiting approval is a keeper. A specific friend awaiting approval I'm interested in will be kept to remind me. An invite that may be relevant.

6,7. Linked In: The last update and one of a specific person linking in I want to keep.

8-15. NZPD, Bryce Edwards daily politics summary of on and offline commentary is a must-read even if it is history at this point.

16-17. A sales rep wanting to sell me something - still stuck on their database, but worth a look.

18. A link request. 99.9% certain to be spam, but vague enough at the start to make me want to open it anyway even though I know I shouldn't bother.

Lack of anything personal in the inbox, a lot of that seems to be txt or via facebook.

All in all a lot of communication going on and so little of it valuable.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Citizen A online now: Selwyn Manning & Phoebe Fletcher

Issue 1: Trouble at Port - the Union busting actions of the Ports of Auckland are sound economics or political maneuvering to privatize?

Issue 2: Public Broadcasting - is NZ on Air more concerned with keeping NZ off Air in light of their criticism of TV3 to broadcast a doco on poverty in the week of the election

Issue 3: The Crown Minerals Act is being replaced to make it easier to mine, are we ready for more exploration and in a recession can we afford not to?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Black day for internet freedom

If piracy is the seizure of things in transit that belong to someone else then the American government and the corporations for which they work are more piratical than some geeks making money from the internet without giving enough of a cut to the big boys. The State proxies of the Hollywood system seizing people for crimes against their commercial model they are attempting to impose on the world is the true conspiracy here.

A day after the SOPA/PIPA black-outs in protest at the US law restricting and making liable search engines who host copyrighted content the long arm of the American corporates reaches out into our domain and the NZ authorities, like the UK in the Richard O'Dwyer case are rolling over.

NZ Herald: An internet millionaire with New Zealand residency who founded one of the world's largest internet file-sharing sites has been arrested in Auckland.

Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested in New Zealand at the request of US officials.

A US indictment accuses Mr Dotcom's Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart online piracy.
New Zealand police said the four people were arrested at addresses in Coatsville and Orakei this morning. A total of 10 search warrants were executed at residential and business addresses across Auckland.

All will appear in the North Shore District Court this afternoon.

The arrests were carried out by Organised & Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) and police, following a mutual legal assistance request from the United States to arrest of individuals for the purpose of extradition.

Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of OFCANZ said the arrests were the result of several months coordination with the FBI and US Department of Justice.

Hand in glove with the FBI.

The Labour government gave Hollywood what they wanted when they passed copyright laws restricting parallel imports and criminalising what is essentially civil, commercial infringements - then the National government gave Hollywood the labour laws they wanted after Warner Bros sent some suits around to John Key's house and demanded it. Is it any wonder they will extradite at their behest? This is a culmination of these types of laws and a strong indication of where they are heading. It will not be long - at this rate - before a NZ citizen is extradited for a copyright offence. The O'Dwyer case is instructive of what to expect:

A judge ruled on Friday that a 23-year-old student can be extradited to the United States for running a website posting links to pirated TV shows and films, despite significant doubts over whether such sites break any UK laws.
Richard O'Dwyer, a computing student at Sheffield Hallam University, faces a potential 10-year term in a US jail despite never having been to America or using web servers based in the country. When still a teenager O'Dwyer set up a website, TVShack, which posted links to pirated material. It did not directly host any files, which meant, according to the student's lawyers, that it acted as little more than a Google-type search engine and did not breach copyright.

As for the details of the crimes in the "Mega Conspiracy", ironically they are most easily accessable via the type of file sharing site they are trying to thwart: "Mega Conspiracy". It's a very clear document and after reading the start of it I can understand why the corporates moved - Megaupload was one of the most popular websites of all time and they have definitely lost potential revenue even if the majority of people using it would not have otherwise paid for the content. Now it is returning a blank.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The most offensive part of the NZ on off Air poverty doco stoush

Beyond the farce that is having John Key's electorate chairman appointed to NZ on off Air and complaining about the poverty doco,

(beyond the farce that is having John Key's electorate chairman appointed to NZ on off Air in the first place);

beyond how North Korean their solution to censor political docos that might embarrass the Government;

beyond the dire state of public broadcasting that never brings serious social issues into the forefront, NZ on off Air's bewilderingly sycophantic self censorship galls most by what they chose and what the media now chooses to be offended over. Note it isn't the abomination of wide spread poverty and the social impacts of that poverty that has offended the sensibilities of the chirping pundits and culture managers at NZ on off Air, it is the supposed embarrassment the poverty doco has caused their political masters that most concerns.

NZ on off Air's only concern should be that the doco was journalistically correct, not whether it would embarrass the Government. A critical media asks questions and provokes debates over issues we should all feel embarrassed over, and the staggering impact of preventable poverty is a subject that as a society we should all feel intensely ashamed of.

It is an obscenity to the egalitarian dream of our country that 200 000 NZ children live in poverty while 150 of the richest families increased their wealth in one year alone by $7billion. Research released yesterday highlights the negative effects of childhood income on later educational and career achievement, yet we live in a media landscape that does all it can to minimize the real level of poverty so as not to depress consumers.

NZ on off Air's desire to censor political docos at the behest of the Prime Minister's electorate chairman so as not to embarrass the Government is a story but it avoids the devastating reality of what the doco actually revealed and by focusing on when it was revealed as opposed to what was revealed, we have managed to create public broadcasting that breeds denial.

How convenient for all concerned, why not have a full blown regression and follow this up by ignoring youth suicide, domestic violence and the true social cost of our alcoholism while we are at it?

We don't want a media to ask hard questions because we don't want to hear the hard talk-back- radio-lazy-stereotype-shattering answers.

Let's all watch MasterChef food porn instead of being confronted by hunger and poverty.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Public broadcasting under threat in New Zealand

Tom Frewen: NZ on Air Spooked by Political Interference

A move to censor television programmes likely to embarrass the government during election campaigns is being considered by the broadcasting funding agency, NZ on Air.

The minutes of the NZ on Air board’s December meeting reveals a decision "to seek legal advice on whether NZ on Air could require an additional clause in the broadcast covenant requiring broadcasters not to screen programmes likely to be an election issue within the Election Period as defined in the Broadcasting Act".

A reaction to TV3’s screening of Bryan Bruce’s documentary on child poverty four days before the general election on Saturday 26 November, the proposed ban on television programmes "discussing topics likely to be an election issue" during an election campaign would be an extraordinary first for a western democracy, giving total control over television current affairs to a government agency run by political appointees and bureaucrats.

The emails released under the Official Information Act in regards to allegations of political interference at New Zealand On Air over Bryan Bruce's documentary Inside Child Poverty should be seen as a warning signal that our fourth estate is not working well in New Zealand, and we are witnessing a climate of fear that is threatening the independence of our government departments. That New Zealand On Air feels that it cannot do is job without pandering to politicians during the election shows that the Board members feel that they do not have the mandate of independence that the legislation grants them.

There are several points that are of interest here. The first and most obvious one is that while Inside Child Poverty mentioned past policies, it was certainly not structured as a political attack. Sure, the documentary was aired four days before a general election, but the issue of child poverty in New Zealand is much broader. The claim that the issue of child poverty was not one in the election before this documentary are blatantly untrue: child poverty had been the launch pad for at least three political parties - the Maori Party, the Greens and Mana. Labour had also launched policy around the establishment of a children's commissioner. The issue had been a recurring one in the media due to the UN Report on children and reports of food banks running out of food. In fact, one could argue that the issue of child poverty went back at least three years, with Key's speech on McGehan Close and the 'underclass' for the previous election. With 25% of our children living in poverty, the notion that a documentary such as this could not be screened because it was seen internally as an issue that would annoy National signals that National are interested in controlling the agenda for debate, and despite their election platform of welfare reform to supposedly reduce long term benefit dependency, they are not interested in talking about poverty.

New Zealand On Air is, as Neil Walters states before he goes into his bizarre explanation of how being paranoid is political independence, bound by legislation to be independent. That the emails then evidence New Zealand On Air attempting to strong-arm TV3 into influencing its programming decisions demonstrates that something is deeply wrong at New Zealand On Air. As Tom Frewen reports for Scoop, New Zealand On Air Board member National Party Northern region Deputy Chairman Stephen McElrea complained that a quality documentary that actually does advance public service broadcasting principles replaced reality television programmes, evidencing the sad state that we may find our public broadcasting in if we leave National in too long.

These board members have a conflict of interest and have demonstrated an inability to make sound decisions. It is clear that from incidents such as John Key's claim to be able to shift Coronation Street last year or his accusations that the Human Rights Commission had violated Paula Bennett's human rights through their need to have a judicial enquiry that this government is quite keen to blur the boundaries of its influence through little respect for the independence of the institutions it is supposed to protect. However, it is also clear that as guardians of the public service mandate of our mixed model system of television that we need people on the Board of New Zealand On Air that can actually stick up to Government and are able to fight when politicians cross the line.

Citizen A 2012 predictions with David Cunliffe and Wallace Chapman

Wallace Chapman and David Cunliffe join me to predict the political horizons of 2012.


Key's electorate chairman attempts to censor political docos at NZ on Air

There's a level of self censorship currently on display at NZ on Air that makes Radio NZ's banning of me for criticizing John Key look like time out on the naughty step.

NZ on Air seems to have become NZ off Air.

How many sleepy hobbits are even aware that John Key's electorate chairman is actually on the NZ on Air board and that he is actively attempting to censor political documentaries, because that's exactly what Tom Frewan over at Scoop has uncovered...

The alarm at TV3’s decision to screen the documentary on Tuesday 22 November at 7.30pm, a slot normally occupied by "reality" genre programmes such as "Drug Bust" and "Kalgoorlie Cops", was first raised by a board member, Stephen McElrea, who also happens to be John Key’s electorate chairman and the National Party’s northern region deputy chairman.

There are two distinct issues here, the first is the role of NZ on Air, the second is the issue of political appointees.

This ridiculous situation has come about because the brilliant child poverty documentary by Bryan Bruce was aired in the week of the election and has sparked NZ on Air to look at censoring any doco that might cause the Government embarrassment in an election period.

How very North Korean of NZ on Air.

Surely critical media that questions what the Government does is EXACTLY the role of NZ on Air, sadly however the board is far more interested in pacifying the Government of the day and the emails released by the Official Information Act that Frewen has unearthed paint a cluster of Yes Minister clones anxious to cover their own butts.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that NZ on Air is part of the problem in terms of the brain deading of our nations public broadcasting and gutless self censorship like this has no place in a progressive democracy. The issue regarding the poverty documentary should have been whether it was factually correct or not, it certainly never should have been whether it embarrassed the Government.

TV3 should be celebrated for screening the poverty doco, not bullied by NZ on Air because it raised difficult questions for the Government.

The second issue is the appointment of John Key's electorate chairman sitting on the board of NZ on Air in the first place, because allowing him on there to censor political docos is an outcome that would sicken anyone with basic comprehension skills.

This isn't the first dodgy appointment by National that borders on the absurd, well known National Party homophobe Brian Neeson was appointed on to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. Why a bigot who has done more than any other NZer has to legally hate homosexuals was appointed to a tribunal over seeing human rights has never been examined by the mainstream media. His appointment would be as unacceptable as Paul Henry becoming the next Race Relations Commissioner. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the process to appoint Brian was a farce. Idiot/Savant with the 2010 scoop on how Neeson was appointed...

Exclusive: An appropriate process? Firstly, it confirms that the cronies were appointed without any interview or formal process. They were "well known to Ministers" who were "satisfied as to their suitability for appointment". And that, apparently, was the end of the matter. There was no examination of qualifications beyond a standardised curriculum vitae form, and certainly no formal test of their ability to contribute meaningfully to the work of the Tribunal as recommended by its chair. They were "well known to Ministers", and so they were in. Whether this is a suitable appointments process for a quasi-constitutional body with power to overturn legislation such as the HRRT is left as an exercise for the reader. The nomination of these cronies displaced more qualified candidates. Power had initially proposed the reappointment of eight existing, experienced members of the HRRT. Four of them were dumped to make room for these cronies. These included all three legal practitioners, who the chair had specifically requested be retained to provide a core of legal capability "to ensure continuity in the decision-making process of the Tribunal". Faced with a choice between an effective human rights body, and jobs for their mates, National chose the latter.

...I accept political appointments as part of our system, either side stack the decks with their people when they win, but within that appointment system there must be some level meritocracy and believable objectivity - I'd consider appointing the Prime Minister's electorate chairman onto the public broadcasting funding body and a homophobe onto the HRRT is an audacity too far.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Earth to the Labour Party - where are you Labour Party?

Put in perspective, the equivalence of Labour's spectacular silence on the Ports of Auckland privatization and Union crushing agenda would be National having nothing to say about implementing every single word of Karl Marx's, 'Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844', 'Wage Labour and Capital' and 'A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy' all within a one month policy roll out codenamed kill-the-filthy-farmer-swine.

There was a fear that when the right wing faction of the Labour Party gave David Shearer the numbers to beat Cunliffe for the leadership (as described by Fran O'Sullivan) that Shearer would not be his own man with that political faction chip on his shoulder.

That fear may be well founded. With welfare reform reading lists that makes Tony Blair's 3rd way look principled, it seems that perhaps David's political advisors want to grow his pie, not by exciting the passions of the nearly one million enrolled voters who didn't bother to vote, but by simply fighting National for their voters.

That's a pretty stupid way to grow a pie.

By sinking into a party that merely manages redneck NZ rather than challenge it, why would anyone bother voting for Labour?

As the mighty Chris Trotter points out...
You are fond of telling us, Mr Shearer, about that transformative moment in the Sudan when you looked over the side of the truck you were travelling in and witnessed half-starved children scrabbling in the dust for the scraps of food you had casually tossed away. It’s an arresting image: redolent with all the sub-texts of injustice, wealth and poverty, and the inevitable conflicts to which scarcity gives rise. And the clear implication of your story is that not only did you perceive the intrinsic moral squalor of the scene being enacted in the fly-blown Sudan dust, but that you decided then and there to do something about it.

...Shearer was picked as leader because his none political back story could disarm Key's none political back story, yet the sense of morality that made Shearer leadership material is utterly lacking as the Ports of Auckland set up an unethical attack on unionized workers.

What David's advisors seem to fear is Brand Shearer being linked to 'old labour' by having him rush to the defense of the Union, that shallow expediency avoids the fact that what is being proposed by Ports of Auckland has all the ethics of burning puppies alive.

What the Ports of Auckland attempt to crush unionized workers actually represents is the low wage economy National have managed to degrade NZ down to, PoA CEO Tony Gibson takes home over $750 000 yet wants to chop 320 workers pay by $20 000 to save $6 million? As the ever brilliant Rod Oram reading deeper into the Productivity Report points out, the real reason our exports are being hurt via our ports is the much higher freight costs the shipping lines themselves charge. A shipping container from Auckland to Singapore costs $1553 while it cost only $486 from Sydney, as Oram concludes, "shipping costs dwarf whatever productivity gains the ports can achieve so the government must investigate them. If it refuses to do so, yet it heaps pressure on council-owned port companies and their unions to eke out efficiency gains, the government, quite simply would be acting uneconomically and, worse, immorally."

That Labour are so silent on an issue of social justice as clear cut as this dispute suggests that Team Shearer are simply hoping for National to just lose 2014 by John Key accidentally choking to death on a pretzel, or it suggests Labour's strategists aren't bothering to excite apathetic voters and are moving to the right to try and win National Party voters.

Either answer is depressing for educated NZers.

Shearer needs a strategy and needs one fast otherwise David Cunliffe will be starting up BBQ sessions this summer.