The Jackal

29 Jul 2014

Goodbye Nick Smith

On the back of recently trying to silence DOC over their concerns about the impact of the Ruataniwha irrigation project on water quality in central Hawke's Bay, Nick Smith is once again bullying a statuary body with threats that clearly show he’s not fit to be a Minister of the Crown.

Yesterday, Radio NZ reported:

Minister should resign, says Fish and Game

The Fish and Game Council wants Conservation Minister Nick Smith to resign, accusing him of threatening its future if it continues to question irrigation projects and intensive farming.

The council is an independent body with statutory authority to protect rivers, lakes and streams and the sole agency for issuing hunting and fishing licences.

Of course the beleaguered Conservation Minister has denied any wrongdoing, just like he initially denied pressuring ACC to give a friend of his special treatment, something the Minister had to later resign over.

He also denied any wrongdoing in the Cave Creek disaster, a disaster that caused the deaths of 14 people and was directly linked to a National government's policies on and mismanagement of the conservation estate. National cut DOC's funding to such an extent they couldn't function properly and in this respect it appears Nick Smith will never learn.

Nick Smith has rejected accusations that he told Fish and Game members at a tense meeting on 18 July in Wellington to essentially pull back on campaigning or risk the council being stripped of its statutory powers.

But notes obtained by Radio New Zealand News from the meeting where Dr Smith is accused of making the comments quote him saying its "perks of being a statutory body could go" if it continues to behave like a "rabid NGO."

The problem for Nick Smith is that nobody is buying into his side of the story, mainly because the evidence confirming that he threatened Fish and Game is categoric!

Five people who attended the 18 July meeting have told Radio New Zealand News that Dr Smith gave councillors a dressing down for their stance on trying to protect water quality in lakes and rivers.

Being that Fish and Game are mainly comprised of people who usually support right wing governments, this could be a real problem for National.

Smith might have a few farmers on his side concerning National's policy to allow polluted waterways to get worse, but the vast majority of New Zealander's want to be able to enjoy the great outdoors including swimming and fishing in our rivers.

Nick Smith seems determined to shut down any dissent to National's pro-pollution agenda, even threatening to restructure and cut funding to ensure organisations are kept quiet. The Ministers behavior is simply unacceptable; because it certainly isn't democratic to threaten a statutory body in such an aggressive and underhanded manner. Therefore Nick Smith should do the right thing and resign, preferably without all the crying this time.

28 Jul 2014

Valid reasons to change the government

If you were to rely on the six O’clock news for your daily intake of information you would be forgiven in thinking that the National party can do no wrong.

So fleeting is their coverage of the government's numerous cases of misconduct and so extensive are there pro-National reports that they would have you believing that Teflon John is some sort of bloody rockstar.

However the reality of the situation clearly contradicts such prejudiced media coverage with a groundswell of discontent displaying itself with defaced National party billboards and other effective forms of protest throughout the country.

Thankfully not all journalists share the mainstream medias pretense that everything is just fine within the current administration. In fact the majority of the mainstream medias lopsided reporting couldn't have been more skillfully dismantled than in today's Otago Daily Times editorial:

On shaky ground

National's recent mistakes are more serious, and the mounting number of them is baffling, two months out from the general election.

Neither Prime Minister John Key or Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully handled the Malaysian diplomat rape allegations well and, although both managed to escape scrutiny in the subsequent review into the case, it is far from over and there could be further fallout.

While Mr Cunliffe's apology put him offside with males, Mr Key's flip-flop on his promise to apologise to the alleged victim over the handling of her case (albeit yet to be proven), may in comparison do him few favours with many women.

Revelations of National MP Claudette Hauiti's unauthorised spending on a Parliamentary charge card put paid to her political aspirations - sped up with a nudge from the Prime Minister -

and Chester Borrows' latest speeding fine is far from a good look for the Courts Minister, who didn't really do himself any favours by acknowledging it wasn't his first speeding ticket, and assuring the public he always pays his tickets promptly.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's bypassing of Christchurch airport security this week (like Mr Borrows, his explanation was he was running late) is inconceivable, particularly in the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines' and other recent aviation disasters, when the minds of travellers worldwide are on safety and security.

His apology and offer to resign, which was (unsurprisingly) rejected by the Prime Minister, has been viewed by many as a cynical ploy to take the heat out of the situation, but still leaves questions about any penalty which may in fact be meted out by the Civil Aviation Authority. (It has launched an investigation into the security breach.)

Added to the above list are other recent high-profile incidents involving ministers such as the Judith Collins' Chinese dinner scandal and Maurice Williamson's intervention on behalf of Chinese businessman Donghua Liu regarding his citizenship and a domestic violence incident, which led to Mr Williamson's resignation.

While his apparent ''Teflon John'' invulnerability seems to keep him high in the popularity stakes, Mr Key is increasingly leaving himself open to uncomfortable accusations.

It is hard for many not to wonder whether what is on display is simply arrogance, whether it is a more sinister contempt for the law, abuse of power, privilege and process, or honest mistakes/dumb decisions made in a pressure-cooker pre-election environment.

Firstly there's the mishandling of the Tania Billingsley case and Claudette Hauiti's taxpayer funded spend-up spree in Australia. Then there's also Chester Borrows' recent speeding offenceJonathan Coleman's lies about when he knew of FBI interest in the Dotcom pre-residency decision and Gerry Brownlee illegally barging through airport security, which should eventuate in his permanent resignation.

Don't forget Judith Collins' Chinese dinner scandal and Maurice Williamsons' police interference on behalf of his mate and convicted woman abuser, Chinese businessman Donghua Liu. That makes at least seven good reasons to not vote for National this coming election.

They aren’t the only valid reasons to change the government though, not by a long shot.

Today, Radio NZ also reported:

Minister accused of political interference 
Dr Smith met the Fish and Game Council in Wellington on 18 July, and four people who attended told Radio New Zealand News he gave councillors a dressing down for their stance on trying to protect water quality in lakes and rivers.

Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes, who was at the meeting, said Dr Smith was bullying the Fish and Game councillors in a clear attempt to stop it carrying out its statutory role to advocate for water quality.


But Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said Dr Smith was hostile towards his organisation at the meeting.

The minister implied he would restructure the organisation if it did not tone down its stance on water quality, and Mr Haynes had given an accurate account of what happened at the meeting, Mr Johnson told Nine to Noon.

"He said that he's worried that Fish and Game is losing its way, that Fish and Game struggles with being a Government statutory body and instead is being a rabid NGO," he said.

On top of Nick Smith previously having to resign over his pressuring ACC on behalf of a female friend of his back in 2012, this anti-democratic bullying by Smith, which in my opinion should ensure his complete departure from parliament, makes an even eight good reasons to vote for anyone but the current government.

A vote for National is clearly a vote for politicians who rip-off taxpayers, a government that ignores rape culture, politicians who believe they're above the law, corrupt minister's who interfere in active police investigations and politicians who use taxpayers money to promote their own private business interests. If you don't like any of these things, then don't vote for National.

Vacuous ravings in the Herald

You know it's a slow news day with nothing in particular to attack the Labour party over when journalists in New Zealand undertake a bit of navel gazing. Much like their biased political opinions, most reporters are invariably prejudiced in favour of their peers and themselves when trying to analyse their own belief system.

With so much opinion passed off as fact these days and an inevitable backlash in the form of complaint letters and negative online commentary, it's little wonder that the press is trying to make themselves feel a bit better. A good example of this egotistical reporting is in the NZ Herald today, with Audrey Young writing:

Policies, plans, people all part of campaign coverage

Guest columnists will include the acerbic Cactus Kate form the radical right, former Labour candidate Josie Pagani and broadcaster Mark Sainsbury.

We'll also be working with our cousins from NewstalkZB, Mike Hosking and Rachel Smalley will have occasional columns.

What Audrey Young is basically saying is that we can either expect a total absence of any left wing guest writers in the Herald or she simply thought they weren't worth mentioning at all. Instead we can expect some badly written delusions from one of the most right wing spin doctors out there, Cathy Odgers, some biased opinions from a failed Labour candidate now turned National party attack dog, Josie Pagani, and Mark Sainsbury who will probably tow the line. Together they will likely regurgitate National's political messaging verbatim.

Then we have National's most loyal propagandist's from NewstalkZB including Mike Hosking buddying up with the Herald, the sometimes moderate but usually biased Rachel Smalley giving government MP's a hospital pass and the rest of the Herald "team" who is predominated by those clearly in support of National. You can bet your bottom dollar that they will be working hard throughout the election campaign to get John Key re-elected.

After glowing praises for her right wing colleges, Audrey Young also decides to write about just how wonderful a few hand picked Herald journalists are, including John Armstrong:

John has a special place in NZ political journalism. He is the most respected commentator in the Press Gallery, among both peers and politicians.

What he says matters a great deal to politicians but he doesn't write with them or their acolytes in mind. He is always focused on ordinary readers and voters and providing them with insightful commentary to understand politics better.

The first campaign he covered was in 1987, the middle of the fourth Labour Government. Last year, he was the Canon Columnist of the Year.

Considering the hate merchant Cameron Slater also won a Media Award, Canon's recognition for Armstrong really means very little at all. What the Heralds most senior journalist thinks often doesn't matter either, because he's basically a senile old fool! John Armstrong is clearly past his used by date and should do democracy a favour and retire.

Considering the amount of baseless attacks on left wing politicians the NZ Herald has been running lately while ignoring anything to do with their socially progressive policy announcements, perhaps a few more resignations are in order as well.

How else can they hope to restore any semblance of balance to their reporting? Because without the publication changing it's obviously pro-National tune, we the general public should view it for what it really is; government propaganda dressed up as campaign coverage.

26 Jul 2014

Most politicians don't care about elderly

Back at the end of June the New Zealand Aged Care Association ran a full paged advert in the NZ Herald concerning a number of questions they wanted politicians to answer. They also sent each party a letter outlining their concerns and requested that the answers be sent through by the 18th of July.

Being a good samaritan and somebody who's interested in what the politicians were going to do for our aged citizens, I sent through a small reminder in the form of a tweet to each party asking them to be the first to respond. I wasn't however expecting such a snarky tweet from the antagonists in United Future:

United Future clearly said they would respond before the 18th July, which makes their failure to respond over a week after the deadline puzzling!

In fact, after checking the Aged Care Associations website again one would think that the majority of political parties in New Zealand are either too incompetent to prepare a response in time or they just don't give a damn about elderly people at all.

At least NZ First (PDF) and the Green party (PDF) took the time to write a response, which is more than can be said for the Act party, the Conservatives, the Internet party, Labour, the Mana party, the Maori party, National and of course Peter Dunne's United Future.

If you're an elderly person or care about what happens to the older generation, it's well worth having a quick read of Winston Peters and the Green party's plans. It's a pity all the other politicians don't care enough about the elderly and their concerns to bother responding.

A tale of two meetings...continued

Last week I pointed out the marked difference between how many people are attending National's campaign meetings compared to the Internet Mana party's and thought a follow-up on how things are going is in order. Unfortunately for National thing's aren't going so well.

I find this puzzling because with John Key's party polling at around 50% and the Internet Mana party on 3%, you would expect attendance at party events to somewhat reflect the polling. However that's not the case with numbers at the Internet Mana party's events far outnumbering anything National has to date been able to muster.

On Thursday, the Internet Party tweeted:

Great to see lots of young people engaging. Here's a good photo of Kim Dotcom high fiving people in the crowd:

Now compare that youthful audience with the bald heads at the Hutt South campaign launch for Christopher Bishop in Petone last Wednesday:

Steven Joyce's delusions of grandeur caused the usually right wing journalist Patrick Gower to exclaim; "that's not big. Please stop the spin." Defensively the deluded Minister followed up his campaign of propaganda tweets with another photo trying to show that lots of people attended.

Perhaps 20 to 30 National supporters in attendance, which is pretty pathetic when you consider that the Prime Minister himself spoke in support of the tobacco lobbyist at his campaign launch.

Now check out the huge crowd at the Internet Mana party's Wellington event:

Good to see the Internet/Mana party mobilizing some decent on the ground support.