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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sell off

I was at a meeting with OTS and TPK yesterday in regards a Treaty settlement matter and the first item on the agenda... was the government's share offer to Iwi for Mighty River Power. Not what I had expected.

The officials weren't making a sales pitch as such - because the Iwi couldn't realistically have got everything prepared by the government's short timeframe anyway - it was more the presentation of cursory information as a matter of form. Nevertheless it was an opportunity to tell the men from the ministry exactly what I thought about this insulting offer. It is a "shares minus" scheme designed to divide Maori by enticing a few Iwi in the strongest positions to take the second-class deal and give up the court action. (Excellent blog post at Waitakere News on the legal framework of the case, and John Armstrong in the NZ Herald also.)
No doubt these meetings will all be held out as some manner of "consultation" and a sign of "good faith" when the government is in court. It is a farce. Like a robber claiming consultation when they shout "this is a stick up!" and claiming consent was given when the victim hands over their stuff.

Not that Pakeha give a fuck about Maori getting dicked over - if you believe the usual mindless bile spewing out of the drain at talk-hate radio:
Mike Hosking:
The Waitangi Tribunal’s latest report looks into the Urewera National Park area and the people involved, mainly Tuhoe.
But the report also tells us, almost instructs in how we need to be reacting to this. It says we should be ashamed. I have thought about it and I still cannot for the life of me work out how I could do that. How can you be ashamed of events you had no part of, no knowledge of, weren’t there, weren’t born, you have no connection, no family ties, nothing. You can think it was wrong or a mistake or something that needs rectifying. But I always connected shame with direct involvement or association like you did it, you were there, you know the perpetrator or you condoned it. That can bring shame. Is a government department, which is all the tribunal is, really now in the business of telling us how to feel? And why would they think they have that right?
Is it wrong if young German's feel ashamed of their nation's Nazi past? And would Hosking also claim that people should not similarly feel proud about the positive things from the past to which a person plays no part? If we can't feel ashamed of a misdeed against Maori in 1893 how can we feel proud of voting rights for women in 1893?

The point is the Crown was the agent of dispossession and still is.  The Crown has been in continuous government without break - something NZ politicians seem quite proud about - but the consequence is that this government is as responsible as past ones for the wrongs they commit and the liabilities they incur. Just as the NZ government will not reneg on Crown debts - no matter how long ago the security was issued - the NZ government can't reneg on fundamental instruments such as the Treaty.

Hosking: The tribunal concept set up all those years ago was a generous concept and even if you supported it, you have to have wondered by now whether the whole thing hasn’t got wildly out of hand. Did a specific set of grievances need an entire tribunal as opposed to the other grievances we have over things like privacy and government and law who merely need an ombudsman or a commissioner? And does a tribunal, by becoming so activist in their findings and language, do the cause and our country any good by backing one side to the detriment of the other by instructing us to feel certain emotions around any given outcome, emotions in reaction to an event none of us had the slightest part in?
Hosking doesn't quote the "ashamed" part so it's difficult to say what they did to piss him off - apart from remind him of history. "Backing one side"? Makes a change from every other arm of government backing Mike Hosking's side. As to why the tribunal exists - he must be feigning ignorance, surely? The other mechanisms couldn't work because the laws were so anti-Maori and in opposition to the tenets of the Treaty - especially back in 1975.
Hosking: Can anyone honestly say the wrongs committed generations ago were ever really in any danger of happening in our life time? That the colonial simplicity and aggression of those days still lingers in any tangible fashion that would somehow be able to be enacted in the 21st century?I would’ve thought it was exactly the opposite.
To the extent that the confiscations and the oppressive measures of the past remain in effect then it is indeed happening in our lifetime. All those things that were taken and damaged and have not been returned or mended hurt today as they hurt in the past. The "simplicity and aggression" persists across the board in government action (and inaction) just as it does in the mind of Hosking. As for the reactionary reiteration of the Pakeha mythology that maintains that everything bad that happened in the past (but - hypocritically - not the good things of course) remain in the past is utterly self-serving and plainly - factually - incorrect. The Foreshore and Seabed confiscation was enacted in 2004. The Urewera "terrorist" raids in 2007. The Crown-owned hydro dams across the rivers are being alienated to private interests as I type. At the local level Councils up and down the country are wantonly allowing the desecration of waahi tapu and selling off land before claims can be settled. The list of active breaches and prejudicial decisions are contemporary and they are numerous. But to the poor, downtrodden white man like Hosking:
All I’ve know my entire life is a country that is bending over backwards to put things right, to make things better.
Bending over backwards!? The equivalent to the entire quantum of settlements over 20 years can be given over by the Minister of Finance to pay off the greedy (mainly Pakeha South Island "investors") of South Canterbury Finance in the course of an afternoon... and yet Hosking reckons it's the Maori that are having the government - the whole country - bending over backwards for them? Absurdity, absurdity on roller blades.

Hoskings comments are the sort of factless, delusional, racist justifications and excuses that ciculate within the Pakeha community (esp. via the media) at quite a velocity: reassuring and reinforcing the ignorance and prejudice that prevents a proper and full resolution to the Treaty question.

Oh, you mean 'affordable housing' for double income middle class property speculating families

Moving onto affordable housing already? What happened to catching up with Australia by 2020 and 4000 jobs from the cycle track?

Sadly for National, those windmills have packed up and left for Sydney, so they need a new windmill to look like they are chasing to shake off that rudderless look they have picked up from the utter lack of direction the country now finds itself in.

National's plan to make housing affordable will work as well as their plan to reverse Kiwi's leaving for Oz, setting the southern boundary for Auckland at Hamilton isn't a solution Mr English, it's a sprawl that never ends. This is policy for developers, not people.

The red tape National want to cut to speed up building consents is now used to plug all those leaky homes built after the last red tape purge, so this constant scream to mug the RMA of it's regulatory role is as predictable as National dumping environmental reports so their farmer mates can't be held responsible for their pollution.

Gareth Morgan points out that it isn't the supply of housing that is the problem...

The problem with the Productivity Commission’s analyses is that its authors are locked in a time warp, thinking that the quarter acre pavlova paradise is the appropriate model for housing still. Of course if your thinking is confined by that paradigm then it is very easy to argue there isn’t enough land. But any user pays analyses would rapidly indicate that this type of urban expansion would make housing even less affordable. Only if other ratepayers are willing to stump up with the cost of infrastructure would such a dated type of housing be affordable. No cities in the first world have kept unfettered urban sprawl their model for the future.

We all know what the problem with housing in New Zealand is. It’s the flipside of the problem the new Governor of the Reserve Bank has identified with the economy at large. He noted that the economy will not pick up until the country gets its huge external debt levels down. But look at what that money has been raised for – it has been raised overseas by our banks overseas and on-lent into the property market in New Zealand. The flipside of the high debt is simply a housing base that is valued at these record levels.

And how have we managed to drive the price of the housing stock to these dizzying levels? There are two drivers – the directive from the Reserve Bank to the banks to treat mortgage lending as the safest form of lending and therefore to expand that far more than loans to businesses that create jobs and incomes; and the tax break that tells us all that if investing in property is a tax-free path to prosperity. That toxic duo has led to us all falling into property big time, buying a few houses each as a way to get rich. Resultingly, we have driven the price of housing from twice the average household income to six times. And surprise, surprise – property is now out of the reach of a greater proportion of would-be homeowners.

...we need better inner city apartments and we need far more of them, that's the reality. I've lived in the central city of Auckland for almost 2 decades. I love it, but the quality of apartments is very poor and the quality of life isn't being made better by the Council.

I find it amusing listening to Len Brown tell me he wants more urban development when the council are forcing inner city residents to pay for parking overnight and can't seem to do a thing about the booze outlets who never close.

Many apartments are built for overseas students and have none of the quality locals are looking for. We need more 3-4 bedroom apartments that are built with families in mind combined with a massive increase in the state housing stock to alleviate the housing crisis.

We need to look back to the 1930's massive state home building program and implement some big Government Keynesianism to rebuild the state housing stock for the poor while allowing developers the opportunity to develop environmentally and socially friendly apartment living.

We need actual vision and ideas here to enable the next generation who have been locked out of the housing market by property speculating baby boomers.

This attempt by National is meaningless fodder to choke the news cycle to look like they have a direction. It is a pretense and we shouldn't accept it as a real vision for Auckland.

John Key wants to consult with Auckland the way he consulted with Maori, school closures in Christchurch and Ecan.


Climate Change storm stomps on US election #Schadenfreude

I love how a US election campaign that hasn't mentioned global warming once is being impacted by a climate change Frankenstorm. Seeing as man made pollution is causing the planet to heat (a fact the right wing blogosphere in this country refuse to accept) these types of Frankenstorms will become more frequent and more powerful.

We should be introducing this storm as 'welcome to your new winter America'.

File under hashtag Schadenfreude.


John Key's invisible New Zealand

There is a constant answer this Government has used since coming into power whenever they face a problem they have no intention of solving - make it invisible.

We've seen it yesterday twice with revelations that National will dump the 5 year environmental report to let their polluting farmer mates away with damaging more of our environment without consequence and then again with the news that National killed off Ecan democracy because it would stop National's farmer mates from stealing all the water for themselves.

This cloak of invisibility goes beyond those two examples. Paula Bennett refuses to measure child poverty so that her Government can't be held to account for the poverty their policies are creating. Tourism NZ changed from 100% pure to 100% Middle Earth to avoid the hypocrisy of our green wash caused by farming. The Police have quietly submerged domestic violence stats into general stats and beneficiaries aren't being moved off benefits onto jobs - they're just being cut off using any excuse from not taking contraception to drug testing so that they are no longer officially recorded.

This Government is creating a class of unpeople. NZers who are hidden away from official stats so that their plight is no longer the responsibility of the State.

Based on the polls, NZers seem to love this, they want a Government that hides issues so they themselves don't have to confront them. Who wants to have all their right wing redneck reactionary talkhate radio empty rhetoric challenged when as a nation we can just ignore reality?

Child poverty is the parents fault, poor people are to blame for their lack of money and anything that reveals the truth about National's farmer mates damaging our environment is quickly smothered.

See no child poverty, hear no environmental pollution, speak no privatization is not a social policy..

This is a visionless Government for a visionless people.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Maori Party identity crisis

Fascinating internal dramas at the Maori Party conference in the weekend. The ill defined message emanating from the meeting suggested a political machine no longer functioning. The lasting TV image was a pakeha spin Dr explaining to a room full of pissed off looking Maori that they should change their Party's name to broaden their appeal.


The decision to adopt the MANA Party strategy of building voter support from pakeha will be a difficult one for the Maori Party to succeed with for three reasons.

The first issue is the pakeha u-turn. Wanting to reach out to a broader voter base when this is what Pita Sharples had to say last election...

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples told supporters at the party's campaign launch at the weekend that Mana only purported to stand for Maori. "Rubbish. How can John Minto speak for you? Sue Bradford, how can she speak for kaupapa Maori?," he asked.

...is a sudden re-write of history that would make the Waitangi Tribunal lodge a complaint to itself over, Pita was telling his supporters less than a year ago that pakeha spoke with forked tongue, but now he's wanting their votes?

The second issue for the Maori Party is that they realize they are on shaky ground in the Maori seats with MANA continuing in roads there, so are attempting to reach out to National voting pakeha to save them on the list. The problem is that the average National Party voter is so racist, they make Australians seem enlightened, those voters aren't going to give the Maori Party their vote even if John Ansell was the Vice President of it.

The third reason is the most difficult one for the Maori Party to overcome. Class. MANA has a broad voter appeal because it is effectively arguing social justice from a class perspective. It's 'feed the kids' not 'feed the maori kids' because poverty impacts everyone. Regardless of their culture or race, MANA speaks for those who are being dumped at the edge of the cliff and given a push. That appeals to many well beyond Maoridom who are facing the sharpest edges of poverty, but by being a member of the Government, the Maori Party can't genuinely claim they have anyones interests at heart other than corporate Iwi.

The overall problem for the Maori Party is that they are sell outs now. The joining with John Key for their 'better-to-be-at-the-table-than-not' strategy (even after Key has privatized 49% of that table) has cost them all political credibility.

The Maori Party have an identity crisis brought on by their Stockholm syndrome caused by their relationship with National. They represent their own interest for the baubles of power, an interest which doesn't connect with many Maori and seeing as white people have their own selfishness as a virtue political party in the form of ACT, the Maori Party are spitting into the wind if they think National voters will rush to rescue them from the political wilderness they've managed to lose themselves in.


BREAKING NEWS: Urewera 4 lose appeal

NZ Herald:
In a decision released this afternoon, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey.Tuhoe activists Iti and Kemara were jailed for two and a half years in May after being found guilty in the High Court at Auckland of firearms offences relating to the 2007 Urewera raids.
Signer and Bailey were each sentenced to nine months of home detention after they were found guilty of unlawful possession of firearms.
At the appeal Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother argued the trial jury should have been directed by the judge to the difference between the worlds in which they lived and in which the Tuhoe activist lived.
Mr Fairbrother said there was nothing inherently unlawful in what happened at the camps.
The jury was not directed on what was lawful or not, nor were they directed on each individual charge, he argued.
Kemara's lawyer Gretel Fairbrother said the jury should have been directed on what was lawful, on each individual charge and also on how each individual charge related to each accused.
October 15 Solidarity:
Same old BS! Free Taame Iti - Free Rangi Kemara!

Iti v The Queen: Decison from High Court.
Media advisory
The appellants, Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey, were convicted of various charges under the Arms Act 1983. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of participating in an organised criminal group under s 98A of the Crimes Act 1961. (On the application of the Crown, a stay has been ordered of that charge.) The Court of Appeal has dismissed their appeals against conviction and sentence.

The appellants challenged their convictions on four grounds:

1) pre-trial publicity about the case meant they could not have a fair trial;

2) the Judge’s directions as to party liability were incorrect;

3) other aspects of the Judge’s directions were inadequate; and

4) the Crown case on the charge of participating in an organised criminal group did not comprise an offence.

The Court of Appeal held that the pre-trial publicity did not give rise to the risk of an unfair trial. There was a significant time lapse between the publicity and the trial date, and any risk was appropriately addressed by the precautions taken in empanelling the jury and judicial directions. In terms of party liability, the Court held that Judge correctly directed the jury that the effect of the Arms Act was that the defendants had to show it was more likely than not that they had a lawful purpose for possessing the firearms. The other aspects of the trial Judge’s directions were appropriate and did not contain any material omissions. Finally, the jury’s inability to agree on the s 98A charge could not retrospectively affect the analysis which led to the evidence supporting that charge being admitted in the first place.

The appellants challenged their sentences on the ground the High Court Judge sentenced them on a factual basis inconsistent with the jury’s inability to agree on the s 98A charge. The Court of Appeal considered the factual findings reached by the Judge were open to him and that the sentences imposed were within range.


I haven't had time to read the judgement yet, but I imagine that the two prisoners would not have had their hopes up. That doesn't make spending any more time behind bars easy. I'm not sure what the release date is, but probably after Christmas. And all for doing the sort of things that the white right groups can get up to without any hassles whatsoever. They can even broadcast their activities on primetime TV and it's all good - nothing will happen. One rule for them...

Sea grab

Nice graphic from the NZ Herald, pity they got the images for mussel and oyster round the wrong way. I guess the city kids in Melbourne (or wherever they've out-sourced the design to) don't know what they look like.
NZ Herald:
A balance has to be found between the needs of bach and boat owners and of marine farmers, says Aquaculture New Zealand chief executive Gary Hooper.
The $400 million aquaculture industry - which is aiming to hit an annual revenue of $1 billion by 2025 - will gather in Nelson this week for its annual conference, the theme of which is "sustainable growth".
"People need to better understand that water space is a common resource and the New Zealand Government has to work out how it best applies that resource for the benefit of the whole country," said Hooper. "There's a bunch of people in New Zealand who - if they've got a boat or a launch or a yacht - think it's their divine right to sail into any bay, anywhere in New Zealand, moor up and not have anything in their way."

Mr Hooper and the industry must also remember their place. They are late-comers and other rights and uses have been long established over the stretches of water they covet.

Aquaculture involves the prohibition of people from a marine area and the ability for private interests to control and use the space for their profit. This privatisation of a "common resource" is actually a confiscation. The government has curtailed and over-ridden Maori rights in order to establish the current regime. They have co-opted coastal Maori into the system (but on the government's terms) so Iwi are also part of the industry (whether they like the terms or not). The allocation of space (dependent though it may be on resource management stipulations and operational requirements and targets) has created a property right in the marine space and it is a value that can be divisible and tradable.  In other words a market. These are the consequences of the way in which the government has structured this latter-day gold rush.

As with the crony capitalist quota give-aways to the big fishing companies in the 80s this round of give-aways takes on the same colour as the big boys have moved in and staked their claims ready for the government rubber stamp. As soon as these areas are allocated they become property and games start being played.
Hooper said reaching the realistic $1 billion mark required securing additional water space, increased productivity and exporting more value-added products.

More, more, more! Never mind there isn't enough capital or other resources to have developed the thousands of hectares already allocated, they want more water space. More free money for them. Mr Hooper is right, the industry could do with more government funding and development (esp. for exporting) and private investment, but that is only part of the story. This is a big, ugly carve up.

Suicide rates in Northland should surprise no one - especially Tariana Turia

Turia 'shocked' at rise of Northland suicides
Tariana Turia is questioning whether the Government has an effective response to the number of 32 suspected suicides in Northland this year, the latest tragedy involving a 10-year-old boy.

It's a shock is it Tariana?

Why are you shocked?

When you decided to side with a National party whose agenda was to slash public spending and attack beneficiaries and Unions, what did you think was going to happen Tariana? Were rainbows and marshmallows from the sky going to rain down upon the happy residents of these shaky isles were they?

Where does Tariana get off with her surprise and shock? When I presented a speech to her last year at the community sectors conference, I pointed out to her the ramifications of cutting back on social infrastructure. I pointed out that our suicide rates trebled to the shameful global highs they are today during the 1990's war against the poor.

When Ruth Richardson launched the mother of all budgets that set benefits lower than the weekly nutritional minimum for adults, the social feedback was immediate with our suicide rates sky rocketing. I made this point to Tariana in my speech, that we couldn't pretend not to know what the ramifications of these type of policies created because we could see them throughout the 1990s.

For Tariana to now exclaim shock and surprise for the predictable end results of the policies the Government she has signed up to have now created suggests she has all the vision of a blind cyclops.

None of us should be surprised by the exact same results coming from the exact same attack on the poor, what we should feel is ashamed that we've simply repeated the mistakes while learning none of the lessons.


NZ needs MANAs financial transaction tax NOW

While Labour are pinching MANA Party policy like 'Feed the Kids', why not take the Hone Heke Financial Transaction Tax while they are at it?

One of the few ideas that actually emerged from the EPMU manufacturing crisis meeting that had any real merit in being able to bring the currency rates down was MANAs Financial Transaction Tax which was articulated by John Minto.

Now while MANA were not actually invited to the job crisis meeting due to a communication error from the Greens, their Hone Heke Tobin tax is the only policy idea on the table that creates a solution to lowering currency while generating tax revenue.

A .5% Financial Transaction Tax would generate more tax than all the revenue from GST while forcing the currency down and the idea is no longer fringe, last week 10 EU States started the ball rolling...

Financial transaction tax for 10 EU states
By charging a small fee on all financial transactions, the tax could raise significant amounts of money

The European Commission has backed plans from 10 countries to launch a financial transactions tax to help raise funds to tackle the debt crisis.

The 10 countries include France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The nations want to push ahead with the tax after failing to win support from all members of the European Union.

...so why aren't NZ now looking to pick up MANAs lead and start seriously looking at this?

Financial corporations created the global economic collapse, why shouldn't they be part of rebuilding it?

This recession is a unique crisis of Capitalism, we need new ways of raising revenue to pay for the social and physical infrastructure of the state. We all get that we don't want to increase borrowing, so let's create more income in a way that targets those who currently escape most of the tax burden.

Social economic justice has to be created by a taxation system that is structured by an active Government, the free market hands off approach worshipped by National has failed us, will fail us and is failing us.

MANA have joined the manufacturing jobs crisis inquiry and are pushing a financial transaction tax to the front of that debate.

2014 can only see a left wing Government take power if they have the revenue source to pay for their social reinvestment and restructuring of the economy, a financial transaction tax does that.

It's about time the debate began.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

New labour laws a declaration of war on Unionized labour

Let's be very clear that the next round of industrial laws are nothing short of an idealogical attack on working people in the exact same vein of triumphalism that saw National and ACT kill off compulsory student union membership.

Weakening unions even further is social madness when you look at our current soaring inequality rates. Unions are the only effective mechanism to force wages up, when they are weak, social inequality is the result.

We need to be strengthening unions now, not removing the few teeth they have left remaining.

Allowing the boss to walk away from negotiations makes good faith bargaining more faith than good. If Ports of Auckland could have walked away from the table and sacked everyone, they would have by now. They are forced to the table by the process, if these new laws pass, every boss can waltz through negotiations with every intention of walking away at the first possible opportunity.

Restricting union access to workplaces is a further strangulation of unions ability to recruit members, it's a naked attempt at killing off membership altogether.

NZ was recently ranked 3rd by the World Bank for ease of doing business so any claim by employers that restrictive unions are crushing entrepreneurial free spirits is simply the warped imagination of hard right mythology.

With the 90 day right to sack and slave youth rates, bosses have more power and more ability to misuse that power than ever before. To hand them even more power makes the process of negotiation utterly one sided and blatantly anti worker.


How ethical are Gerry Brownlee & Peter Goodfellow?

Jaw dropping...

Brownlee was on fraud-accused's board
Cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee is ''deeply embarrassed" at getting caught up in an alleged fraud saga that has dragged in senior business figures and ex-All Black Jonah Lomu.

"I didn't do my research at all . . . I'm just deeply embarrassed I was anywhere near it," Brownlee said of his short tenure on the board of NZ Casino Services, a company said to be run by alleged fraudster Loizos Michaels.

He was speaking to Fairfax about a court trial where National Party president Peter Goodfellow was giving evidence in Michaels' trial. Michaels has pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud involving dozens of investors who lost more than $3 million.

Brownlee became a founding director of NZCS on Goodfellow's recommendation but resigned after a few weeks.

That Brownlee and National Party president Peter Goodfellow were so greedy that they didn't read the fine print and rushed into a scam deal should surprise no one, wanting to turn a quick buck and being blindsided by that desire catches out people to Nigerian internet scammers all the time, but what is shocking is what this front company was intending to do, and the real question in all of this becomes, did Goodfellow and Brownlee know what the company strategy was, because if they did, it calls into question their ethical character...

The former casino boss said he was convinced by Michaels to apply for a casino operator's licence and to run a media campaign falsely alleging pokie cash skimming and prize-draw rigging at New Zealand casinos in order to crash the price of SkyCity's shares to smooth the path for the takeover.

...so did Gerry and Peter know that the business plan involved a false media campaign to create deception and slander to crash the share price of Sky City to enable a mass take over? Lying about a company to destroy it seems more corporate raider than respectable business dealer, what does it say about a Cabinet Minister and Party President if they knew what the strategy was and still signed up to it anyway?

Very smelly.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Latest Roy Morgan Poll bodes ill for Shearer on eve of Labour Party Conference

Labour drop 4.5% in the latest Roy Morgan Poll to 4.5% - is leadership BBQ season open?

Okay, let's do the caveats first. These phone polls are so biased towards the right and the sudden surge of NZers getting package internet deals minus the landlines means only old people who still think the fax is cutting edge technology are answering these polls.

So they don't represent opinion, they end up manipulating it.

Suggestions that this is a rogue poll could be born out by the Maori Party jumping 2% in this poll. How on earth they could be at 3.5% for the spineless effort they've managed this year flashes a warning sign on the veracity of the poll result.

That said. Labour dropping 4.5% to 29% in the latest Roy Morgan Poll released tonight comes at exactly the wrong time for David Shearer.

The Labour Party conference is on the 16th November, there is already a move to lower the caucus trigger threshold to mount a leadership challenge from 68% to 50%, and some are murmuring that it should be lowered to 40%.

With Labour slumping right when the Government is wide open on so many fronts can not be ignored by party members any longer. The frustration at a rudderless Shearer isn't dissipating.

If they think the Caucus made the wrong call by implanting Shearer above Cunliffe, the last chance to rectify that is early 2013.

If the thresholds are lowered, it's BBQ season.


Citizen A with Julie Fairey & Keith Locke

Citizen A with Julie Fairey & Keith Locke

Issue 1: Is the Government's watered down Alcohol Reform Bill a missed opportunity for NZ?

Issue 2: Are Business NZ's views on parental leave sexist?

and issue 3: Labour Day was this week, do NZ workers have anything to celebrate?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Marsden Fund: Superhydrophobic expenditure atrocious

Another round of Marsden Fund lolly has been awarded. Working out what is and is not valuable and necessary research is another issue.

There are always plenty of grants made that seem a total waste of money - more about cliquey, personal career-enhancement, funding for esoteric irrelevancies and the subsidisation of academia generally. The Marsden trough is part of the government's upper middle class protection and welfare racket as much as it is about scientific advancement.

Then there are the worthwhile ones - which to me anyway are usually more the hard science where I can understand where the material costs may be rather than just supporting a professor's retirement scheme and their entourage of pet students.

I'm glad to see a few earthquake-related projects included from GNS (like "Sticky or creepy: What causes abrupt changes in seismic behaviour along subduction plate boundaries?") and hope the millions on offer can do what I can't and get them to change their dogma that rigidly asserts that there is no connection between clusters of volcanic and seismic activity no matter how close in time and distance they are. Maybe they'll get their shit together one day.
But it's the social sciences where I can't work out why the research is going to be so expensive. These academics are supposed to be doing this research for a living at any rate - they aren't just being paid for teaching.
Inequality and Injustice: Deliberation, Power and the Nature of Public OpinionAUT1201Dr SkillingAUT University$345,000
Affective practice, identity and wellbeing in AotearoaMAU1207Assoc Prof Moewaka-BarnesMassey University$850,000
Harnessing the power of business: the contested involvement of corporations in community development initiatives in the PacificMAU1206Prof ScheyvensMassey University$890,000

The NZ governemnt spending $890,000 directly in the Pacific will almost certainly be more effective than spending it on Prof. Scheyvens I would have thought. A full study of identity and wellbeing in Aotearoa would probably take more resources than what has been allocated.  It's not just the cost it is the wankiness too:
Institutional change, path dependence and public transport planning in AucklandMAU1208Dr MuhammadMassey University$345,000

Shakespeare’s Theatre GamesUOA1214Prof BishopThe University of Auckland$535,000

Some seem useful, but why the big ticket price?
Mind the gap? Worker productivity and pay gaps between similar workers in New ZealandUOO1213Prof StillmanUniversity of Otago$800,000

And then there's the blatantly redundant:
Ecologies of Skill in Early Modern EnglandUOO1216Prof TribbleUniversity of Otago$485,000

And the unfathomable:
Making a Splash: Superhydrophobic Spacing, Symmetry and StretchIRL1201Dr WillmottIndustrial Research Ltd$345,000


2.5 billion reasons not to sell state assets

With the Nats pushing ahead with their state asset privatisation programme the Crown's own borrowing position continues to improve.  The imprudence of privatising essential services (that exist in a money-for-jam cartel situation) when the alternative of issuing debt at record low interest rates is so obviously viable is ample evidence the Tory's grand plan for economic salvation is pure, inflexible ideology. There is definitely an alternative to hocking off productive assets to cover the  two or three years of projected deficits.
The Government says it's received strong investor demand for the first issue of its September 2025 inflation-indexed bonds.
The Debt Management Office has issued 2.5 billion of the 2% coupon bonds, which were heavily oversubscribed, with bids in excess of 4 billion.
It's the first issue of these types of bonds by the Government since 1999.
Finance Minister Bill English says it will help the Government to continue borrowing at competitive market rates, which will minimise its borrowing costs.

With inflation skimming along the recessionary plateau at just under 1% - but with uncertainty still high - an inflation indexed bond is proving popular. From what I've read from the NZDMO each quarter the capital value of the bond is increased by whatever inflation (the Consumers Price Index) is, plus they bear 2%, so it is an ultra-safe investment attractive to conservative funds.

Two tax-related observations:

Firstly, I note that an "Approved Issuer Levy" is mentioned. From the Act:
86J Approved issuer levy
  • Approved issuer levy shall be computed in respect of any registered security at any time at the rate of 2 cents for every $1 of the leviable value of the registered security at that time.
I've never heard of it before, but it appears to be on the interest - not the capital - and payable at the beginning (?). These are the sorts of things that a Financial Transaction Tax will tackle: having this levy idea extended to all classes of instrument, all markets and on every transaction (not just the initial issuance). 

Secondly, tax is payable on the portion of the inflation adjusted increase in the capital value. This may not be a capital gains tax per se, but it is an interesting that this value is being treated as such.

For those who argue that an FTT and a CGT are anti-competitive, a discouragement to investment, will impare markets, hamper the economy etc. it is just as well to keep in mind that some elements of these taxes already exist and don't seem to have crashed capitalism in a fireball of inherent counter-productivity, dead-weight loss, creative disincentive and wealth-destruction. It all depends on what the "mix" is with other taxation and what the levels are set at, but a modest levy on the perpetual friction of the money markets will be a relatively insignificant [I mean painless - because it may be that a significant sum could be raised] arbitrage compared to the other forms of taxation.


It's time for Greg O'Connor to resign

Remember when Garth George went too far and wrote his column claiming global warming wouldn't cause the earth to flood because God promised Noah he wouldn't flood the planet again?

Remember how everyone shook their head at Paul Holmes' racist Waitangi Day diatribe aimed to boost his return to a new season of Q+A?

Remember when John Armstrong accused bloggers of left wing agendas when he was one of the most ardent John Key cheerleaders?

Apart from gross editorial negligence by the NZ Herald in each case, what else do these examples represent? That moment when saner minds quietly thought to themselves 'yeah, he needs to be retired now'.

That moment has just happened for Police Association High Priest Greg O'Connor. Days after claiming holding the Police to account for their sado-masochistic pack rapes of the 1980s was a 'ritual humiliation', he has managed to top 'sexist pig' with 'corrupt pig'.

The crooked cop at the centre of the Red Devil motorcycle gang arrest scam was the same crooked cop who is behind the Dotcom fiasco. This is a Police force out of control, that they purposely manipulated the Court and committed crimes to trick a conviction so that their undercover agent could forge a credible criminal identity is an absolute atrocity to everything one expects from a Police force in a democracy, and the judge's blistering criticism of them has seen the entire case thrown out.

This behavior, to attempt a tricky on the Court by committing crimes is so far beyond what is acceptable you're left demanding everyone involved in this decision be sacked and immediately charged, so what does Greg O'Connor have to say?

Prepare to gasp at his audacity. According to Greg, throwing out the charges punishes the public NOT the Police.


The High Court’s decision to stay prosecution of 21 alleged serious organised criminals is disproportionate and unjustified, and the public will be the real losers from the decision, Police Association President Greg O’Connor said today.

...can you believe this sanctimonious prick? The Public were the real losers the moment the Police and a Chief District Court Justice all conspired to manipulate a case and commit crimes! Having the entire scam made public and the case rightfully thrown out the door doesn't punish the public, it punishes the bloody Police! The Police have let the public down, the judiciary is attempting to rebalance this obscenity.

Greg goes on...

“Police acted in good faith when taking these measures to protect the agent’s life, and acted with the knowledge and agreement of the then-Chief District Court Judge, Russell Johnson, in doing so. This included following his advice not to inform the local Nelson District Court of the ruse. To have the Court now effectively change its mind is a slap in the face for the agent who put his life on the line for over a year,” Mr O’Connor said.

...can you believe this guy? It's now the Courts fault? His pointing to a Chief District Court Judge who helped in this illegal masquerade simply means that's another person who should be immediately arrested now that case has been thrown out. We should consider O'Connor's comments here as evidence of collusion.

Greg goes on...

“Organised crime is serious business. It is a business which its perpetrators may kill to protect. The subterfuge in building a criminal record for the undercover operative was necessary to reduce the very real risk to his life.”

...no one is suggesting that dealing with organized crime is easy, but with the vast new search and surveillance powers and a lowering of the evidential threshold to seize assets, the Police have more tools in their armory to deal with organized crime than ever before. Those increases in power represent the largest erosion of civil liberties since the waterfront lockout, on top of that, Greg now wants the Police to have the ability to commit crimes and use them to deceive the courts as well? Why not go the whole hog and just allow the Police to act as judge, jury and executioner? Why bother with the entire legal system when we can just trust Greg and his gang to run the entire thing?

Greg goes on...

The decision to stay proceedings against the 21 members and associates of the Hells Angels feeder gang, the Red Devils, was also disproportionate and unjustified, Mr O’Connor said.

...can you believe the balls on this guy? The case getting thrown out because the Police committed a crime and colluded with a Chief District Court Judge is 'disproportionate and unjustified'??? I'm getting the feeling that bloody Greg want's them all exonerated and given fucking medals. He just has no concept at all that the tactics used here are repugnant and no amount of ends could possibly justify the means.

Greg goes on...

“The fact the agent had an artificially constructed back-story did not cause, encourage or enable anyone to offend. They were allegedly doing that anyway.

...oh no he didn't? Did he just try that on mid sentence did he, 'allegedly doing that' - cops huh? There is no 'allegedly' you arrogant clown, you've all admitted to doing this!

All it did was allow the undercover agent to move in their circles more safely in order to gather evidence. It is unjustified and disproportionate to throw out the charges against alleged serious organised criminals solely because the High Court now takes offence at the subterfuge involved in constructing a credible cover story for the undercover agent.

NO! The Police lied, committed crimes and manipulated the judicial process!!!

Greg's final paragraph is the cherry on top of this shitcake...

“In the High Court’s rush to punish Police, they are really punishing the public, who will now see 21 individuals escape trial for alleged serious organised criminal offending, and be left free to carry on their activities. The Red Devils gang will be empowered by this decision and the good people of Nelson will now have to put up with the consequences,” Mr O’Connor said.

...can you believe it? It's the Public being punished by the High Court attempting to rectify these illegal tactics. Jaw dropping. The Red Devils are being allowed to walk free because of your corrupt Police force Greg, trying to justify these actions shows how far out of touch Greg has become.

It is time for Greg O'Connor to resign. He's part of the problem.


What will redneck reactionaries do now Michael Laws is leaving Radio Live?

Michael Laws officially steps down from Radio Live - there is a God!

But while we are celebrating, pity the poor reactionary redneck NZer, now that their messiah has finally been pushed out of Radio LIVE!, what will they do?

Where will they go to hear thoughts on stopping beneficiary's from breeding? Where will they go to hear about stupid women who need muzzling? Where will they go to hear derogatory comments about every minority under the sun?

John Banks was sad, he tweeted, "it's not good news for media works that Michael Laws is leaving... he is their voice of common sense!" - which begs the question, how bat shit crazy is the MP for Epsom?

I wonder how soon will Michael Laws announce his candidacy for the ACT party?

Are, 'Is Michael Laws too racist for Epsom 2014?' bumper stickers too soon?

The issue for Radio Live is that if you are a right wing clown, you would listen to ZB over Radio LIVE. Radio Live need to chase Radio NZ listeners because they aren't counted in the radio ratings, this explains why Sean Plunkett is being placed on the station.

Problem is Sean is more right wing than Michael Laws, so it's the same right wing drum thumping that ZB specializes in meaning they are chasing the same audience pie rather than making a bigger pie. This dilemma shows why RNZ should be given Kiwi FM to recreate it into RNZ2. Live and ZB are always going to be right wing, they are never going to hire left wing commentators meaning the market is being ignored, if RNZ took over Kiwi FM (a frequency put aside by Jenny Shipley for the failed youth radio network) it could relaunch it as a liberal talkback station and recycle their own ratings base and compete against ZB and Live while increasing public broadcasting and funding RNZ.

That idea was loved by the RNZ board but not the CEO. The same CEO who ended up banning me for life from RNZ for criticizing the PM. It will have to be an idea to force through when there is a change of Government in 2014.

But for right now, we can all rejoice in Michael Laws minus a platform to spread his hate speech from.


Animal Farm minus the politics? Hello Happy Meal contract

What. The. Hell???

Andy Serkis uses new allegory-ignoring technology to make George Orwell's Animal Farm more family-friendly
Master of simulacra Andy Serkis has announced his intentions to move beyond creating artificial replicas of things using his body to doing so with his production company, The Imaginarium, by mounting a performance-captured adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm that will remove all of its cumbersome politics. “We’re keeping it fable-istic and [aimed at] a family audience. We are not going to handle the politics in a heavy-handed fashion,” Serkis said of the film he hopes to direct, while wearing an advanced, breathable rubber suit that will allow him to move freely through weighty allegories, instead of being limited by creaky, old-fashioned authorial intent.

So you can't get a Happy Meal contract if the characters represent the struggle from tyrannical communism to exploitative capitalism huh?

Andy Serkis's adaptation of Animal Farm minus the politics would be like a film adaptation of the Bible minus God - this is Orwellian irony. The Ministry of Love couldn't do a better double good job on editing.

Animal Farm was never at war with Eurasia.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dear Green Party - know your enemy: The many tentacles of SERCO

Privately run prison doing poorly - Greens
Escapes, wrongful detentions and wrongful releases are happening up to three times more often at the privately run Mt Eden prison than in Corrections Department-managed institutions, figures show.

Information obtained by the Greens under the Official Information Act for the 18 department-run jails has been compared to the first performance report for SERCO.

It is excellent that the Greens are focusing on the social tumor that is private prisons, they join Labour and MANA in decrying SECRCOs rise in NZ. By 2014 NZ will have the highest percentage of prisoners in private prisons than any other country in the OECD, that this has happened with zero public discussion over what the profit motive will do to incarceration should concern us all.

SERCO is massive. Huge. Monolithic. It's effectively the privatized state, they provide social services minus the cost and services. Prisons, air traffic control, even ballistic nuclear missile launching for the British, SERCO is the small state provider of choice for right wing politicians to sub-contract their social obligations away to a corporation that profit maximizes at the cost of the public.

Forget the Chinese paranoia over Huawei as a security concern, what about SERCO? They provide services for the US Army, US Federal Aviation Administration, US Navy, US Air Force, US Department of Homeland Security, US Marine Corps, US State Department and the US intelligence community.

In Britain, SERCO is a major player in their charter school experiment, with their prison interests here it's only a matter of time before SERCO start recommending a School-Prison complex so they can move the students from poor communities straight from class into a cell.

Facetious comments aside, we are allowing a mammoth private Government corporation into NZ, paying them a billion for a new prison plus $29m each year for 20 years and no one has really publicly discussed any of this.


Dear Big Tobacco - I disagree to agree on disagreeing

Dear Big Tobacco.

I disagree to agree on disagreeing. You have bombarded me with adverts in the hope to change my mind on plain packaging and i have come to some conclusions I thought I'd share with you.

1: You are not a bloody artist, you sell addictive cancer. Trying to pose as a 'creative' when you trade in misery and death suggests to me that you think I have the intellect of a brain dead coma patient.

2: Trying to spook me about Australian Laws being 'imposed' on NZers is misplaced jingoism as it makes me happy to see you getting knifed in both countries.

3: As for your 'Beer might be next' slippery slope argument. Good, I think the booze industry needs a bash as well.

The real fallacy in all of this is that Tobacco, like gambling and alcohol are trying to con us into believing that they are 'just another product', when nothing could be further from the truth. Tobacco is an industry built upon suffering, we accept the regulated market only because the alternative, an unregulated prohibition market would hand trillions to organized crime. As a society, we tolerate tobacco the way we tolerate pedophiles being released back into the community after serving their full sentence.

Tobacco is NOT just another product, they are a cancer that is to be isolated at all times and the only sound that should ever come from the industry is a gasping noise caused by the heavy hand of Government policy wrapped tight around their throat keeping them at near strangulation point at all times.

I'm not agreeing to disagree because you are fucking wrong and evil.

In closing, these adverts should be made to carry a warning: WARNING - the opinions expressed in this advert may cause you cancer.


Paula in Blunderland

Another privacy blunder for Winz
Work and Income New Zealand has been embroiled in another privacy breach after paperwork with clients' personal details were given to a Masterton woman.

Paula Bennett doesn't seem all that concerned about MSD security...

"You always hope something like this won't happen so it's disappointing when it does.''

...is her nonchalance really what the situation requires? MSD security seems so lax, I'm waiting for Whaleoil to post her list of 30 000 at risk kids online to highlight the evils of welfarism.

Paula's own lax standards of respecting privacy after being found to have breached it by the Human Rights Commission sets the tone for the Ministry. If the Minister doesn't give a toss about privacy, neither will the Ministry

How Paula can ensure the 30 000 at risk kids data base will be secure when the MSD is currently shuddering from security lapse to security lapse in a manner that makes ACC look like Fort Knox isn't clear.


Greg O'Connor and his ritualistic humiliation

I think it is an indictment on NZ society as a whole that the Police Association Commandant Greg O'Connor can describe an update report into the Police culture of sexism as a 'ritual humiliation' without public demands he resign.

Is sexism so accepted that the Police spokesperson can seriously use that language in light of the case that brought about the report?

No Greg, I don't think the report into the sado-maschistic pack rape culture of the NZ Police is a 'ritual humiliation', I think that's called being held to account you crypto-fascist.

I think what happened to Louise Nicholas was ritual humiliation.

I think what happened to the woman raped by Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum and three other men at Mt Maunganui in 1989 was ritual humiliation.

I think Louise Nicholas taking her case to court three times only to be denied justice when Shipton and Schollum were already in prison for the same type of ritual humiliation pack sex attack was a ritual humiliation.

I think the Rotorua woman who claimed she was kidnapped and raped by the three of them in 1984 knows about ritual humiliation.

I think Detective John Dewar committed a ritual humiliation by covering up for his Police mates

And to top it off Greg, I think the 10 women who testified at a secret forum against the Police culture of sexual misconduct who had the hearings recommendations for compensation turned down by John Key and his Cabinet, know more about ritual humiliation than you can conceive...

Police sex witnesses denied compensation
The Government has rejected a secret forum's recommendation that 10 women who alleged sexual misconduct by police officers get reparation. A letter obtained by The Dominion Post reveals the forum chairwoman, Wellington lawyer Rachael Brown, recommended that the Government pay "financial redress" for alleged misconduct by police officers. But the Cabinet has ignored the recommendation – angering women who spoke at the forum, including Donna Johnson, of Tauranga. Ms Johnson – who alleged convicted rapist and former Bay of Plenty detective Brad Shipton stalked her and forced her to perform oral sex – questioned why the Government bothered with the forum if its key recommendation was going to be ignored.

(Don't you love Finlayson's comment - "I know this decision will be disappointing. I hope that the opportunity to tell your story and be referred to additional services has been helpful," - yeah Chris, I'm sure they loved having to recount their sexual abuse at the hands of Police only to get no acknowledgement and completely ignored).

...I'm pretty sure the 300 women Dame Margaret Bazley identified as suffering from Police sexual misconduct who weren't able to take part in the secret forum feel they have suffered a ritual humiliation.

Not according to the Police Association dictionary.

According to Greg O'Connor, being held to account for those 300 women who were identified in Bazley's report is a ritual humiliation.

Outstanding Greg. What's your encore mate? Vomiting on the hungry for wasting Police time?


Xenophiliacs Anonymous

A couple of items on xenophobia in recent editorials:
NZ Herald:
Labour's xenophobic employment restrictions will not resonate with most.
Appeals to patriotism seek to tap the most accommodating of instincts. They can also be the most dangerous of tools. Too often, politicians talk of it when they want to beat the populist drum without much regard for the potentially dire consequences. So it was with a speech by Labour leader David Shearer last week, during which he set out policies that promised to give New Zealanders the first crack at jobs by making it harder for businesses to bring in migrant labour. Helpfully, Mr Shearer underlined the dismal nature of this approach by using the word "patriotic" as many as five times.

Labelling anything against the NZ Herald's preferred neo-liberal orthodoxy and the mass immigration necessary to support such unsustainable economic growth as "xenophobia" is surely no better than Shearer's use of the term patriotic. The NZ Herald was founded on warmongering of the Pakeha against the Maori and is a mechanism to propogate the underlying colonial meta-assumptions of usurping and displacing the natives with a numerically dominant European population and immigration-driven development that primarily benefits the wealthy - European - ruling class. It is little wonder such a newspaper would ally itself to the policy mantra to which it owes its success.
Mr Shearer placed his policy in the context of the rebuilding of Christchurch. This was an opportunity to employ and train New Zealand workers but there was a risk it would be squandered because of cheaper migrant labour, he said. Such talk may impress those still harbouring xenophobic tendencies, but Mr Shearer is mistaken if he thinks it will strike a chord with most New Zealanders. Least impressed of all will be the business community. It will be appalled by Labour's intrusiveness and red tape that will serve only to stifle initiative.

It is the business community the NZ Herald cares about, explicitly, not anyone else. The criticism of the supposed xenophobia is entirely in terms of businessmen - and any economic concern is also seen as an issue of business profitability rather than on any other metric. They offer a very narrow hard right prescription obsessed with lowering wages and discounting the social consequences.
A particularly depressing aspect of Labour's policy is the awarding of government contracts on platforms other than price. Local companies should be striving to be internationally competitive and able to compete on cost. Under Labour they could give up measuring themselves against foreign competitors knowing that the creation of jobs, possibly unwarranted in some part, would win the day. More broadly, Labour is sending a message to potential migrants that can only be detrimental. The obstacles placed before employers signal that New Zealand has little interest in competing in the market for global talent. The very people who should be important drivers of growth would be told that even when they are wanted, it will take far longer to get here because of new hurdles. They will happily go elsewhere.
Mr Shearer's approach is far from novel. Any number of governments have sought to play on people's fear that immigrants make it harder for natives to get jobs and put too much pressure on public services. All they have succeeded in doing is stifling their business communities and hobbling their economies.

A set of assertions without evidence is given and the conclusion is just as hollow and dry: a generic appeal to the "economy". Such an appeal to a system is meaningless if there is no acknowledgment that the people are the economy - not just the top 1%.  Why should xenophobia be held out as akin to racism and conflated with it while the NZ Herald's xenophilia - with the purpose of undermining wages and further minimising the indigenous population - is not?

The ODT was founded by the politician that gave his name to the colonial mass migration (and crony capitalism) template the country still follows (Vogel) so it is unsurprising to discover they have also come to worship in the same temple of blind capitalism when it comes to F&P being bought out by a Chinese company:
While it would be easy for Haier, a global whiteware group, to shift FPA to China, it is impossible for Shanghai Pengxin to shift 16 dairy farms anywhere. It seems xenophobia ruled in the farm debate. Why should the Chinese be allowed to buy New Zealand farms, the critics howled?
And compare that reaction with the welcoming of recent news that Canadian film-maker James Cameron continues to expand his south Wairarapa property portfolio.
Incidentally, Mr Cameron's neighbour, American billionaire Bill Foley, has won permission from the Overseas Investment Office to expand his Kiwi-based wine operation.
However, just like Haier, it is likely both Mr Cameron and Mr Foley paid market rates for their purchases. If the Maori trusts, and their benefactor Sir Michael Fay, had been truly serious about buying the Crafar farms, all they had to do was offer a higher price than that being offered by Shanghai Pengxin.
Xenophobia is not the determining factor in such sales: shareholders make their own decisions based on price and their own circumstances.

The serious mistake the ODT makes is to assume a perfect market exists - it does not. The fact is the Chinese companies are backed by currency manipulation, easy state credit and a secretive, corrupt regulatory regime and as such have unfair advantages to other market participants and so whatever the market price is the Chinese will always be able to pay more, thus they are really offering above market prices. Far from the glib dismissal that "all they had to do was offer a higher price" the local participants are simply not in a position to out-bid the People's Republic of China.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The final Union Report with Sue Bradford & Chris Trotter discussing the future of the NZ union movement

The final Union Report with Sue Bradford & Chris Trotter

Issue 1: What are the challenges confronting the modern Union movement politically in NZ?

Issue 2: Is globalization strengthening or weakening Unions?

and issue 3: What solutions must Unions champion for 2014?

The Union Report screens 8pm Monday Triangle TV - the home of original public broadcasting

Facebook/TheUnionReport Twitter/CitizenBomber

The final Union Report for this year plays 8pm tonight on Triangle TV with Chris Trotter and Sue Bradford discussing the future of the NZ union movement.

3pm deadline for water/privatisation case

Hold your tickets...
The Maori Council is taking the Crown to court this morning in a last-minute bid to thwart the partial sale of Mighty River Power. At Wellington High Court, lawyers for the Maori Council will be seeking judicial review of the government’s plans to sell down its stake in Mighty River Power and two other energy companies, Meridian Energy and Genesis Power.
The council also wants an urgent hearing to stop the government from removing Mighty River Power from the State-owned Enterprise Act by passing of an order-in-council this afternoon.
Mighty River Power is expected to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012 when Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparai signs an order-in-council at 3pm, which means it could be partially privatised.

I'm not sure of the extent to which the Maori Council will have to file on the case today - as it seems to involve a few different legs - so I don't know how much will be coming out or whether we will have to wait to see the whole lot. The courts will be the theatre of battle now in this confrontation. It'll be a shitstorm of lawyering.

An interim injunction [?] stopping the Minister going to the G-G seems to be what is contemplated to head the government off at the pass.

I imagine the government will claim that their "shares minus" scheme (the spitting upon the crumbs before they are cast under the table concept) will be held up as a 'good faith' exercise that will let the Crown scrape through the Treaty provisions that underscore the necessity for meaningful negotiations. There will no doubt be quite a bit to be made of the process deficiencies before the other more fundamental questions about water rights are gone into.

With the price tage of $400k being put about for the Council's legal action it will be a scrap they intend to win. They may not have the institutional advantage of government when they sit in front of the court, but the courts have been willing to recommend novel arrangements to satisfy unique situations and it is this ability the Council will be counting on.

The government, on the other hand, is working on short circuiting the main Iwi involved by offering side-deals and inducements (such as "shares minus"). Whether this pressure will cause them to break ranks, be divided and be (over-) ruled will probably depend on just how much the government will offer. Everyone has their price.

UPDATE 2:40pm
NZ Herald:
Cabinet was to have this morning made a final decision on an order-in-council which would have removed the company from the State Owned Enterprises Act and put it under the Mixed Ownership Model legislation allowing the sale of up to 49 per cent of its shares.
Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae was scheduled to sign the order this afternoon and it would have come into effect later this week.
However, following a short hearing this morning in the High Court Ronald Young set a tentative date of November 26 for the Maori Council's case to be heard.
Justice Young indicated he was concerned that the council's case would be prejudiced if it was heard after the order-in-council took effect.
Attorney General Chris Finlayson was briefed on the court proceedings ahead of this morning's Cabinet meeting where it was decided not to proceed with the order-in-council until after the hearing.
Maori Council spokeswoman Rahui Katene said Cabinet's decision not to proceed with the order-in-council and the setting of a court date was a victory.
"(The Government) are holding off on their timetable which they had set down very strongly but it's not yet a full victory we haven't had a chance to sit down and talk with the Crown."
Ms Katene said going to court was a last resort for the council which had always sought negotations with the Crown over the water issue.
Tamati Cairns, chairman of Waikato hapu Pouakani which spearheaded this morning's court action was also pleased with Cabinet's decision, "it allows us to gain traction".
The Maori Council and Pouakani are represented by Felix Geiringer Helen Cull QC Annette Sykes and Kath Ertel while Mr Goddard is being assisted by Crown Law's Jason Gough.
Mr Geiringer and his colleagues are arguing that the Crown has failed to implement mechanisms that will protect claimed Maori interests in freshwater and geothermal resources and that because its actions are inconsistent with the Treaty of Waitangi as required under Section 9 of the State-owned enterprises Act, its actions under the act furthering the sale are unlawful. The council statement of claim also says that the "defective consultation" makes the sale unlawful.
If the Maori Council is successful next month, the court will issue a declaration that the Government ought not to proceed - the courts do not issue injunctions against the actual Crown.
Prime Minister John Key this morning said people should "brace themselves" for a protracted court process over the sale of state-owned enterprise shares.
My Key said in all likelihood "it will not just go to the High Court - I imagine it will go to the Court of Appeal and potentially the Supreme Court."

Monday, October 22, 2012

My 2012 Labour Day speech to the NZ Union Movement

One thing has become abundantly clear to me over the 27 episodes of the Union Report. Jack and Jane may be as good as their master, but they sure as hell don't have the same negotiating power. We have historic inequality because the employment reforms of the 1990's dramatically weakened the NZ Union movement.

When bargaining with employers who have all the capital and power, working people have only one threat - withdrawal of their labour.

In 2014, we need politicians who will make giving Unions back their teeth the top priority. Unions can't negotiate with both hands tied behind their back, so political parties focused on reversing our inequality rates must give Unions back the right to strike and to engage in solidarity strikes.

Employers will never take bargaining seriously if the real threat of strike action is tethered and leashed into a good faith bargaining process that is more faith than good.

If we are serious about fighting inequality, we must give the Union movement back it's muscle. The right to strike and to strike in solidarity is a freedom of association the NZ worker must seize back and reclaim for the egalitarian good of this nation.

This Government has waged a war on Unions. The 90 day right to sack, a youth wage and new laws that will allow employers to walk away from negotiations at any time all feed into a labour market where 162 000 are unemployed and underemployment ranges to 18%.

On the 112th Labour Day, when NZ declared '40 hours a week is a fair deal' we need to remind ourselves that such progress never occurs without struggle.

The final Union Report for this year plays 8pm tonight on Triangle TV with Chris Trotter and Sue Bradford discussing the future of the NZ union movement.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Nation & Q+A review

The Nation: TV3 Incredible interview between Rachel Smalley and Hone Harawira. Brian Edwards sums it up best...

Hone Harawira is in my view the most effective political communicator in New Zealand...Have a look at Hone’s interview with Smalley on The Nation. What you will see is a quiet, considered, rational advocate for Maori. Chatting to him before the interview I encounter, as I have on previous occasions, an engaging, funny and, above all, warm personality.

In debate he displays not merely high intelligence, but a rare dialectical subtlety that he uses to effect. Hone is not easy to beat in an argument about race relations in Aotearoa. He has spent too long at the coalface, is too experienced, too sharp, too articulate, too driven by his concern for his people and his intolerance of injustice.

...great to see Keith Ng getting the just attention and admiration of the msm. The symbiotic relationship between bloggers and journalists continues to evolve and influence each other and it's fascinating to watch.

Ralston's attempt to follow the right wing meme that Ira some how had ulterior motives was smacked down by Keith as just bullshit Whale Oil is spinning. It's what was discovered about lax MSD security that matters, not Ira's motivations.

Great show.

Dr Claire Robinson is on, she's awful. Skipped most of the show, Mark Solomon interview - Q+A should have watched CTU Maori Vice President Syd Keepa on The Union Report discussing Maori Capitalism and it's need to change. That could have provided some questions that would have stretched Solomon.

He wasn't very stretched.

Shane Jones slapped Gareth Hughes around the head a bit. Seemed to have a pretty good argument that the 4 boats we have there fishing the Ross Sea is all that is holding back the hoards of others who would plunder the stock if we walked away.

Gareth's 'not taking a stand is like not taking a stand over slavery' response was disappointingly crap.

I say that as someone who is a big fan of Gareth. Jones is just doing such a great impression of a hard line National Party MP these days, he can combust idealism at 20 meters.

Pointless interview about whipping up public outcry over bail law.

Matt McCarton was good.