The Jackal: April 2012

30 Apr 2012

National paying down debt... yeah right!

Today, the NBR reported:

Prime Minister John Key has restated the government's confidence it can run a Budget surplus in the year to June 2015, just days after Finance Minister Bill English questioned its achievability.

"Budget 2012 will show we are on track to return to surplus – as we promised – in 2014-15," Mr Key said in a speech to the National Party's Otago regional conference yesterday.

That's an advance on Mr English's commitment three days ago, in a pre-Budget speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, that ministers "remain focused on staying on track to surplus"

Clearly National doesn't know its arse from its elbow.

With his party riding high in the polls despite months of decisions judged miscalculations by both pundits and Opposition MPs, Mr Key said many New Zealanders were supporting the government's careful fiscal approach.

"One of the lessons from last year’s election was that New Zealanders expect their government to do what they’ve been doing – tightening its belt, paying down debt and spending carefully," he said.

National paying down debt... yeah right!

Now that they've shown themselves up for the economically bungling fools that they are, John Key is resorting to blatant lies.

Government debt has grown to around $80 billion since National gained power in 2008, making our debt mountain over 33% of GDP*. They've completely failed to pay down any government debt at all.

Corporate debt on the other hand has fallen slightly, decreasing by only 3%. Thats in comparison to an increase of 200% in government debt under National.

It's therefore safe to say that John Key wouldn't know the truth if it kicked him in the head.

* CIA Factbook 2011 est.

National's failure to consult is undemocratic

Deepwater Horizon disaster in 1500 metres of water
Today, TVNZ reported:

Drilling of deep-sea oil wells off Wellington's southeast coast is poised to go ahead with little consultation, despite concerns over the potential for environmental disaster.

The Government is close to calling for competitive tenders for oil and gas exploration in 25 blocks, including 14 offshore, nationwide.

Environmentalists and local politicians are outraged they were not consulted about two blocks in the Pegasus Basin, south of Wairarapa.

Exploration permits would allow for deep-sea drilling of up to 2750 metres in places - Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico was 1500 metres and the deepest well off the Taranaki coast was 120 metres.

Neither Wellington City Council nor Greater Wellington regional council were consulted and no public meetings were held or advocate groups spoken to. Iwi groups, however, were consulted.

The consultation with Iwi groups could be described as light at best.

The problem is that National is hell bent on increasing our reliance on and manufacture of fossil fuels despite the inherent dangers of deep sea extraction and little economical benefit for New Zealand. They've obviously not considered the cost of climate change (PDF) to our primary production and GDP either.

Instead, National are ramming through as many permits as they can without letting the public know. That's not how a democratic nation should operate.... but unfortunately for New Zealand, democracy is the last thing on the John Keys mind at the moment.

What will crush-less Collins do?

Today, reported:

A recording of a critical meeting between senior ACC managers and the whistleblower who exposed a massive privacy breach reveals the corporation misled its minister and the public.

The corporation has alleged that client Bronwyn Pullar threatened at the meeting to go to the media unless she was given a guaranteed two-year benefit.

It also alleged she said that she would withhold details of the breach involving private details of 6500 other clients – including sexual abuse victims – if her demands were not met.

Once details of the privacy breach were revealed by The Dominion Post, the ACC referred its extortion allegations against Ms Pullar to police.

However, a recording of a key meeting in December between Ms Pullar, her support person Michelle Boag – a senior National Party figure – and two ACC managers is at odds with the corporation's claims that were included in a report ordered by ACC Minister Judith Collins.

The ACC was given a transcript of the meeting more than three weeks ago, but has refused to correct its report.

Ms Pullar said it was outrageous that, having been provided with the recording, the corporation was refusing to correct a "blatant lie" on a public report.

Before publishing the report, the corporation did not ask Ms Pullar or former National Party president Ms Boag for their account of what was said at the meeting. ACC also complained to police about the alleged extortion threat before completing its report.

Will ACC minister Judith Collins investigate the obvious defamation of Bronwyn Pullar by ACC?

Considering she is so het up about a few comments made by Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little about leaked documents, it would be highly hypocritical if she didn't look into ACC lying to the police to bully a claimant. If Collins has any competence as a minister, we should see heads roll.

I also wonder if those who lambasted Bronwyn Pullar and Michele Boag for apparently trying to blackmail ACC are going to wake up to the smell of their own bullshit? Here's an example:

If I were the Police investigating this case I would be serving warrants on Bronwyn Pullar and also Michelle Boag to grab their computers. Since Boag has worked very closely with Pullar it is possible that they used the same type of malicious code to try and set up Judith Collins.

It was sad to see John Banks try to manufacture a split within the Labour caucus on Q+A yesterday... He's obviously been reading too much of Cameron Slaters waffling! The real factional split that will be leading the news tonight is the one in National... They must be in crisis mode.

29 Apr 2012

Auckland says NO to asset sales

The estimated number of people who attended the Aotearoa is not for sale march in Auckland on Saturday has varied wildly.

Of course the rightwing are downplaying the protest, basically because they're scared.

Yesterday, Scoop reported:

The 2,000 strong protest was addressed at its destination, Aotea square by Labour Party leader David Shearer and Green Party leader Dr Russell Norman.

3 News reported:

Nearly 2500 people have said on Facebook that they're attending the "Aotearoa is not for sale" demonstration, which will begin at 3pm at Britomart. reported:

About 8000 people marched on central Auckland on Saturday afternoon as opposition grows to the Government's mooted asset sales.

and the Otago Daily Times reported:

Police say about 2000 people, many carrying placards and chanting anti-government slogans, turned out for the march up Queen Street this afternoon.

The Stuff website had the number at 8000.

Today, the Herald on Sunday reported:

An estimated 3000 people joined politicians, unionists and community leaders in the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale hikoi, which passed through Auckland on its two-week journey from Cape Reinga to Wellington.

Unfortunately nobody seems to have uploaded a photo of the entire protest from above as it took up most of Queen Street. To do that, the amount of people would have easily exceeded the 10,000 expected.

So lets look at another figure:
You can vote here

27 Apr 2012

John Banks - Asshole of the Week

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Auckland city mayor, the Hon. John Banks’ family trust had a 15.36 per cent shareholding in Sugar International Ltd and he was chairperson of its board. He was also executive director of Huljich Wealth Management (New Zealand) Ltd.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has lodged an official complaint about Act leader John Banks failing to disclose a $15,000 donation was from SkyCity during his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign.

Mr Mallard lodged the complaint with the Auckland Council electoral officer this week. He also asked the electoral officer to scrutinise "anonymous" donations of radio advertising Mr Banks had included in his return.

SkyCity gave $15,000 each to Len Brown, now mayor, and Mr Banks, his rival, during that campaign.

Although Mr Brown's donation return listed SkyCity as a donor, Mr Banks' listed an anonymous donation of $15,000. It did not mention SkyCity.

It's likely John Banks intentionally tried to hide the $15,000 donation from SkyCity, but where he's really going to come unstuck is that if the donation was legitimately anonymous, the candidate must give the donation (less $1500) to the Electoral Commission within 20 working days. John Banks failed to do this and is therefore at least guilty of an illegal practice.

However I believe he willfully chose to not declare the SkyCity donation, and is therefore guilty of a corrupt practice. The Electoral Act 1993 (PDF) states:

224 Punishment for corrupt or illegal practice

(1)Every person who is guilty of any corrupt practice is liable on conviction on indictment to either or both of the following:
(a)a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years:
(b)a fine not exceeding—
(i)$100,000 in the case of a person who is a constituency candidate, party secretary, or registered promoter and who is convicted of any corrupt practice under Part 6A.

Politicians need to be held to account and the days of anonymous donations should be over. Businesses must not be allowed to purchase New Zealand's decision making process because of a few corrupt politicians.... it's highly damaging to our democracy.

Banks' hypocrisy concerning his support for the SkyCity deal to change gambling laws could not be more apparent. He had previously been strongly opposed to gambling, but has now said he's "relaxed" about more pokie machines in exchange for a convention centre. I wonder if the $15,000 helped his flip flop?

Mr Banks said he was not concerned about the complaint, dismissing it as Mr Mallard "up to his old timeless tricks".

He said he had not known at the time that the donation was from SkyCity and his donations return was accurate as at the date he signed it.

"I signed the document at the said time to the best of my knowledge."

Although SkyCity had subsequently publicly confirmed donations to both candidates he had not considered amending his return or asked further questions of his campaign team.

Earlier this month, Labour MP Grant Robertson questioned acting Prime Minister Bill English about Banks' undeclared donation, revealing that SkyCity would have requested the donation be made public.

Grant Robertson: Does he still stand by his answer that he has confidence in all his Ministers, given that the Hon John Banks failed to declare a $15,000 donation from Skycity in his electoral return for the Auckland mayoralty?

Hon Bill English: The Prime Minister is not aware of those issues, and the inquiry should be directed to the relevant Minister. The Prime Minister would expect that all Ministers comply with the requirements of the Register of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament and the Cabinet Manual.

Grant Robertson: Would he still have confidence in the Hon John Banks as a Minister if he was aware that Skycity publicly stated that it had given $15,000 to both main mayoral candidates in Auckland, that it has a policy of asking those who get donations to declare them, and that that donation to Mr Banks does not appear in his return for the Auckland mayoralty expenses?

Clearly any Prime Minister with an ounce of credibility would not have confidence in John Banks. After all he's had previous form on dodgy dealings...

In 2007, John Banks, Peter Huljich and former National Party leader Don Brash set up Huljich Wealth Management Ltd., with Banks taking over the management role in October 2010. A month later, the Securities Commission laid criminal charges against the company now called HWM NZ Holdings, which resulted in a criminal conviction for Peter Huljich for misleading prospective investors by misrepresenting the investment performance of the scheme’s funds in offer documents.

Although he must have been aware of the disinformation in those offer documents, somehow Banks escaped prosecution for misleading investors, perhaps because there was very little mainstream media attention given at the time to his involvement in the scam.

I'm hoping that the Auckland Council electoral office will hold Banks to account... but for now he's this weeks Asshole Award recipient. Hurrah!

26 Apr 2012

Another broken pre-election promise

Today, TVNZ reported:

The Green Party says figures released today showing a $1 billion worsening of Budget forecasts for 2014/15 is a "damning indictment" on the Government's economic management.

Finance Minister Bill English today revealed the Crown's operating balance was in track for a deficit of $640 million in 2014/15 instead of the $370m surplus forecast in the Budget Policy Statement.

Bill English would have known before the last election that National weren't going to get New Zealand back in the black by 2014/15. It was simply pre-election propaganda.

Despite the new information showing National's economical bungling, their website still reports:

Halve the Budget deficit next year, and be back in surplus in 2014/15.

National's laissez faire free-market policies are doing nothing to get New Zealand out of our financial hole.... in fact they're determined to dig us further into debt so that they have an excuse to sell our assets. What a bunch of cretins!

25 Apr 2012

Dunne doctors suicide stats

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

New Zealand's suicide rate declined slightly from 2008 to 2009, but the Mental Health Foundation and the Associate Health Minister agree there is still more work to be done.

The Ministry of Health has released its statistical report Suicide Facts: Deaths and intentional self-harm hospitalisations 2009, the most recent year available.

In total, 506 people died by suicide in New Zealand in 2009 - or 11.2 people per 100,000, down from 11.8 per 100,000 the year before.

Now hang on a second... the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean released more recent suicide statistics late last year. Unfortunately SPINZ removed this information from their website for some reason?

As the Associate Health Minister, Peter Dunne would have this information available to him.

In total, 506 people died by suicide in New Zealand in 2009 - or 11.2 people per 100,000, down from 11.8 per 100,000 the year before.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the 2009 rates were 25.5 percent below the peak rate in 1998.

"The declining rate is very encouraging, however, while we are clearly making progress there is still much to do because of the harm and anguish suicide causes for families and communities," Mr Dunne said.

Interesting that they've taken the 1998 suicide rates, which actually peaked at 15.1 per 100,000. When National took over in 2008/2009, the suicide rate per 100,000 people was 12.04.... it has now climbed to 12.65 in 2010/2011, a 5% increase.

"The declining rate is very encouraging, however, while we are clearly making progress there is still much to do because of the harm and anguish suicide causes for families and communities," Mr Dunne said.

"Preventing suicide is everyone's responsibility."

Youth suicides have dropped from 44.1 per 100,000 in 1995 to 29 per 100,000 in 2009, however New Zealand's youth suicide rate remains the highest in the OECD.

Peter Dunne is blatantly lying! The rate of suicides in New Zealand is not declining, it's increasing. He has simply cherry picked certain data and chosen to ignore the Chief Coroner's recent provisional national suicide statistics.

"We expect to be able to release the 2010 figures later this year. Working with more current data will enable us to better target our efforts in addressing suicide.

"As much as possible, we want to know what the problem is; not what the problem was," Mr Dunne said.

I think it's despicable of Peter Dunne to try to manipulate the public concerning suicide statistics... What a cretin!

24 Apr 2012

Low value exports fail

The Productivity Commission released its International freight transport services report (PDF) today. I've highlighted a few extracts, and the one that really stood out for me was about the additional cost New Zealand faces because of the distance to our offshore markets:

Ad valorem sea freight costs (measured as the price paid for freight relative to the value of the goods being transported) have been coming down over the last 20 years, although the rate of improvement slowed in the 2000s. After accounting for compositional factors, ad valorem sea freight costs are about 21% higher in New Zealand than in Australia.

Basically it costs us more to export and import because of our location. It's therefore in our best interests to only export higher value produce, instead of focussing on things like unprocessed logs. By having an economy dependent on low value exports, we're at a huge disadvantage in a global market.

The Commission doesn't really answer this problem, and also stupidly thinks we should not reintroducing cabotage (reservation of domestic coastal trade to New Zealand-owned shipping operators). They obviously didn't consider the safety aspect of so many foreign vessels cutting corners in our waters.

In fact the pro-rightwing sentiment is apparent throughout the report:

Effective governance of organisations is central to their ability to make value-maximising decisions. The governance arrangements for publicly owned enterprises need to be of high quality because publicly owned enterprises face less discipline from other sources than comparable privately owned enterprises.

The Commission provide no evidence to back up this assertion though. In fact I've never seen a good argument that shows private ownership is preferable over public. They simply do not have the evidence to back up their arguments, especially when you factor in the common good.

Interestingly the Commission use the report to have a sly gibe at the Auckland Council:

There are three areas where the governance framework applying to council-controlled port companies is not currently optimal: lack of clarity of purpose of the companies; failure to properly manage conflicts of interest; and insufficient monitoring and transparency of performance information.

Councils should consider landlord port models in which land ownership is separated from terminal operations. This may be an efficient mechanism for maintaining control over port land use while benefiting from the efficiency improvements resulting from increased private involvement in port operations.

The Commission doesn't elaborate on what these "efficiency improvements resulting from increased private involvement" actually are? It would seem to me that the problems often occur specifically because of private involvement and free-market idealism.

Likewise the Commission doesn't elaborate on where the government is failing to be transparent concerning our rail infrastructure:

The Government should improve the transparency of decision making around rail infrastructure projects, including the publication of cost-benefit analyses, comparable to the ones produced for major road projects. Decisions on rail also need to be forward looking. The focus should not be on evaluating whether past investment should have occurred, but on the optimal strategy for the future.

That's funny, being that there's no cost-benefit shown for many of National's major roading projects. I agree with the last bit of the sentence though, particularly in how our overall transportation requirements can be better managed. This would mean utilizing our rail infrastructure more for redistributing bulk cargos, which are currently being trucked. The Commission states:

The Government should examine ways to share the increased road user charge revenue from high productivity motor vehicles [trucks] with councils, so as to encourage the local road upgrades required to support these vehicles.

That's the best advice in the entire document. If you've travelled recently where trucks frequent, you'll know the roads are in terrible repair. We have in fact had an increase of trucks and the weight they carry without any comparative increase in their road user charges.

Trucking therefore has an advantage over rail because much of the maintenance cost is passed onto the general public. Despite this, the Commission recommends increasing load weights.

New Zealand massively under utilizes our rail network; specifically because of the maintenance advantage (cost advantage) trucking has over rail. We are effectively subsidizing the trucking industry to ruin our roads. Disappointingly the Commission only gives this a cursory glance with some incorrect statistics:

A small proportion of the road freight task is contestable by rail, and one estimate is that 8% of the overall freight task in tonnage is contestable by coastal shipping. For those products and routes on which transport is contestable by different modes, it is desirable that price signals encourage shippers to choose the mode that imposes the least costs on society (for the required service quality). To the extent that subsidies distort these choices, they impede this economic efficiency goal. Explicit subsidies involve payments to providers, price discounts to consumers, or a government-owned entity deliberately accepting a low return on capital provided. Implicit subsidies occur when externalities are not priced. Examples may include greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and other forms of air pollution.

Well that's just more rightwing wishful thinking and window-dressing. The shippers are always going to choose the most cost effective transportation model and the externalities are never factored in. If they had to consider their CO2 footprint for instance, we would have a transport sector that looked completely different... it would also be a whole lot more efficient.

Whirokino Bridge, south of Foxton - 23 Apr 2011.

23 Apr 2012

$1.7 trillion wasted on war

Last Friday, Greenpeace reported:

What would you do with $1,738 billion (US dollars)? If you were told you had to spend it this year on making people safer, what would you spend it on?

$1,738bn is how much was spent on the world’s military last year, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI).

With expenditure on military being one of the few areas not facing massive government cut backs we should ask: is our world becoming a safer place?

What consolation can be sought in the world’s awesome military might by the parents of the 7.6 million children under five who die each year, mostly in developing countries?

What consolation is it in a world where 925 m people do not have enough to eat, 98% of whom live in developing countries? What peace does it bring them?

With barely 14% of what is actually required being spent on global food aid, you've got to wonder why the worlds unproductive armies control such a huge amount of funding?

Spending so much money on war is not only a waste because there are far more humanitarian and productive undertakings that deserve those funds, it's a complete waste of human potential as well. There have been approximately 12 million documented war deaths since WW2, and likely many more unreported civilian casualties besides.

Imagine the world we could have created by now if our governments weren't so infatuated with warfare. Money for irrigation projects and distribution networks would mean there was no starvation, homelessness would be a thing of the past and many diseases would not be around anymore because of properly funded research and development incentives.

With most countries not moving fast enough to embrace alternatives to fossil fuels, we're likely to see an increase in wars for oil that will mean even more lost human potential and wasted money... all of which will degrade our humanity even further.

Romney is a joke

It's been slightly amusing to watch the train wreck that has been the Republican nomination process, which has picked Mitt bloody Romney of all people as their best chance to beat Obama. Are they insane?

The endless news coverage in New Zealand did nothing to change my opinion that the United States' political system is badly broken. It's a circus orchestrated by big business, and has very little concern for the people.

Romney's main goals will be to lower taxes for the wealthy and promote the interests of big business with further warmongering and increased dependance on oil. Romney will basically try to keep the status quo from changing, because he's a part of the 1% that doesn't want progress.

It's little wonder then that Barack Obama's so-called Truth Team has decided to make fun of the opposition. What else can they do when presented with such vast amounts of material that shows Mitt Romney to a complete joke! Here's their latest video:

20 Apr 2012

Naturally poisonous water?

Today, the Nelson Mail reported:

The Maitai River is out of bounds to swimmers and dogs after the discovery of a potentially lethal bacteria.

The Nelson City Council said today that with the recent the lack of rainfall, cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) has grown and proliferated in shallow areas of the Maitai River at the Maitai Camp and in the lower Maitai.

Council monitoring and research manager Martin Workman said cyanobacteria is present in all of Nelson's waterways but has particularly high coverage in these areas of the Maitai.


Mr Workman said because it is a naturally occurring bacteria and not the result of outside contamination, there is little that can be done to eliminate it apart from waiting for the river to be cleared naturally through increased flows, triggered by heavy rainfall. None was forecast for the coming week.

The unattributed article is bullshit! Cyanobacteria blooms are caused by excessive nutrients in the water, which in this case is caused by public service utilities and/or farmers releasing nutrient rich waste into the Maitai River.

The pollution would have continued at the same rate and with less dilution from a lack of rainfall, cyanobacteria has flourished. Fairfax is ignoring the facts again by labeling it a natural event. There is nothing natural about our waterways becoming poisonous!

19 Apr 2012

NZ is royalty screwed

The graph below shows that New Zealand has the fourth lowest royalty take for oil and gas.

The New Zealand government pays for pretty much all of the initial seismic testing and spent $26.4 million on seismic surveys of frontier offshore basins between 2004 and 2010. That’s our taxes paying for private enterprise.

With one of the lowest royalty schemes in the world, funding the initial exploration ourselves and giving huge tax exemptions so that oil companies are effectively paying no taxes at all, is it really worthwhile for New Zealand to increase our oil and gas exploration? It certainly isn’t the huge windfall National is trying to make it out to be.

When you consider that very few jobs are created for New Zealander's, and that there are environmental consequences and costs associated, there is no reason to support National's mining and drilling expansionism. It simply does not make good economic or environmental sense.

Source: International Petroleum Taxation report (PDF),
prepared for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Greg White - Asshole of the Week

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

A Taranaki iwi has lost almost $20 million, wiping the total value of its $14.5 million 2003 Treaty of Waitangi settlement, as its leaders go to ground following the announcement.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson labelled the situation "very sad indeed" but expressed confidence in the wider strength of iwi organisations' post-settlement bodies to manage their assets.

From the region's north, Ngati Tama has reportedly lost almost $20 million with just $1.5 million in tribal assets remaining.

Finlayson's confidence is clearly misplaced and the government has an obligation to ensure that settlement funds benefit the wider Maori community, not just a few Maori elite who have squandered the money that was meant to be for reparation.

The government dictates the terms of settlement and therefore bears some responsibility for how and who manages it. And that's where this story gets interesting:

The chief executive of the Ngati Tama Development Trust, Greg White, appears to have fallen on his sword, resigning with two other trust members. Mr White was prominent negotiating the original deal before shifting roles to manage the asset.

A former National Party electoral candidate, he built a profile around the issue of settlements early last decade but could not be contacted yesterday.

Greg White, who ranked number 30 on National's party list, is obviously a coward and has gone into hiding. What really makes him this weeks asshole award winner though is a clear conflict of interest that stinks of corruption.

Today, reported:

Records on file at the Companies Office show Ngati Tama had shares in an unusual mix of companies including the Eel Enhancement Company, Original Pipe Traders, Open Group, Ikatuna and My Virtual Home, which is now in liquidation costing the tribe more than $12.5m.

Ngati Tama was also a sole shareholder in Ikatuna which had stakes in Septic Solutions Taranaki and Tu'Ere Fishing. Greg White had involvement as a director in four of the companies.

So while Greg White was administering the settlement funds, he was ensuring that they were invested in companies he was directly involved in and benefiting from. FFS!

My Virtual Home, which has been deregistered in Australia, also has a similar stench about it. But what I find unusual is that the potentially unlawful debenture (PDF), and the conflict with Creative Design and Software Pty Ltd., which is the Australian subsidiary of My Virtual Home International, dates back to 2008.

In March 2011, reported:

Mr White is one of seven directors of the company and his father is listed as the sole shareholder.

However, an iwi source told the Taranaki Daily News that some board members did not know about the extent of the investment in the company.

"I can guarantee there are people on that board who don't know about it all," the person, who did not wish to be named, said.

So for not informing the trust board (or the public for that matter) of the problem, having a clear conflict of interest in at least four companies and making the dodgy investment in the first place, Greg White is this weeks asshole award recipient.

I wonder how many more corrupt Natz are out there?

NORML protests

Institutionalised racism

Today, the Waikato Times reported:

Your chances of surviving cancer are improving – unless you are poor or Maori.

A new Otago University/Health Ministry report shows that, while survival rates for cancer are improving nationally – 32 per cent from 1991 to 2004 – the mortality rate for Maori is 29 per cent higher than that of non-Maori.

Inequalities in survival were also seen between different income levels.

People diagnosed with cancer in the lowest third of household incomes had on average a 12 per cent higher death rate than people on high incomes.

The report has outraged Toi Ora primary health organisation (PHO) chief executive Tureiti Moxon, who said such a wide gap was "simply unacceptable" in a country such as New Zealand.

In my opinion, one of the main issues is that many Hospitals in rural areas have closed and this happens to be where Maori and people on lower incomes predominantly reside.

This adds additional cost to travel to get the required treatment, which is often not available to those with cancer, which results in lapses in service.

Another problem is that poor people who cannot afford to see the doctor are less likely to have their cancer diagnosed early. This will greatly reduce their likelihood of surviving.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cancer in the world, so this is really something the government cannot afford to get wrong.

Turn the Red Sea Green!

Hector's and Maui's dolphins are heading for extinction because only a fraction of their habitat is protected. Banning all gillnet and trawl fishing throughout the dolphins' range is the only way to save them.

More @ 

Kiwiblog vs Maui Street

Rightwing blogger David Farrar has complained about an excellent post by Morgan Godfery at Maui Street. He thinks Godfery is being unfair to the cops who brutally disbanded a peaceful protest in Glenn Innes on Tuesday. One lady needed to go to hospital and there were a number of other injuries caused by the police's heavy-handedness.

Today, Kiwibog reports:

Personally I would not rush into judgement off one party’s version of events. The IPCA can investigate any complaint of Police “brutality”.

It's touching that Farrar has faith in the IPCA. However his belief that they will ensure the law is being upheld is unfounded. The IPCA is refusing to release information concerning how many complaints they uphold, which is unacceptable considering they're a taxpayer funded service:

Dear Independent Police Conduct Authority,

I write to make a formal request for information under the Official Information Act 1982. Please supply me with the following information:

The total number of complaints made for each year since 2000
The number of complaints that are dismissed by the IPCA by year since 2000
The number of complaints upheld as valid by the police by year since 2000
The gender of the people making complaints by year since 2000
The age group of the people making complaints by year since 2000
The region where the complaints originate from by year since 2000
The amount of Police charged for a crime in relation to formal complaints by year since 2000.

Please give an in-depth explanation if you're not able to supply any part of this formal request for information.

IPCA Communications Manager Kathryn Street replied:

The IPCA is not subject to the Official Information Act, and further, is required by its legislation to conduct its investigations in private.

However some of the data you ask for is available through our Annual Report, which is available on our website For example, the number of complaints accepted in the most recent financial year, and for the previous five years, are noted on p.16 of the Annual Report, and are as follows.

2010/11                2052
2009/10                2049
2008/09                1997
2007/08                2073
2006/07                2016
2005/06                1741

The Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988 (PDF), states that they are required to meet their obligations under the OIA, because my request does not prejudice New Zealand's security or our international relations. The IPCA is therefore legally obliged to provide the information requested.

It's likely that very few complaints against the Police are upheld by the IPCA, which would make Farrar's faith completely baseless. Anyway, back to the topic...

Being that the police brutality towards the peaceful protesters was unintelligent, Godfery makes a justifiable association between the intelligence of police recruits and other professions, which Farrar disagrees with:

This is just plain insulting and stupid, especially of a professions where six officers get assaulted every day, one of them seriously. The average officer will probably get assaulted a dozen times in their career. Some get killed or stabbed doing their duty of protecting New Zealanders.

David Farrar is defending the brutality in Glenn Innes because the police sometimes get a hard time from real criminals? FFS!

An excuse that they are allowed to be brutal because they have a hard job to do is what's really stupid! But I wouldn't expect anything less from the obnoxious David Farrar.

Dollar devalued by John Key

On Monday, Dow Jones reported:

Key was speaking at the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the second day of a four-day visit to Indonesia. He flies to Singapore on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister met with Chairul Tanjung, chair of the National Economic Committee, where he called the New Zealand currency overvalued.

"We still want the markets to normalize. We've been overvalued for a few days, but we're considering what we can do to resist a rising exchange rate," he said, adding that the Kiwi's strength was the result of weaknesses in the U.S. and European economies.

The New Zealand dollar sunk 0.3% against the U.S. unit after Key's comments to an intraday low of US$0.8172.

Today, TVNZ reports:

The New Zealand dollar fell to 81.45 US cents at 8am from 82.16 cents yesterday at 5pm. The trade weighted index decreased to 72.72 from 73.27 yesterday.


The New Zealand dollar fell to 78.73 Australian cents at 8am from 79.02 cents yesterday. It declined to 50.87 British pence from 51.58 pence and dropped to 66.20 yen from 66.86 yen.

A low dollar isn't such a good idea when your importing more goods than you export. It simply transfers the wealth from people having to pay more for imported goods to the exporters.

The farmers like it of course, so National think it's great! But it does little to help ordinary New Zealander's and makes working in other countries all the more enticing.

18 Apr 2012

Police brutality in Glenn Innes

Today, reported:

Police are being accused of brutality Glen Innes, Auckland while protesters have been reportedly beaten and the Mana Movement’s co-vice president and activist, John Minto has been beaten and arrested. Eye witnesses at the evictions called it a “massacre” by the police. Those who were there trying to stop the evictions were protesting the removal of Housing NZ homes where whanau have lived (some) for over 60 years.

Terrible! Not only have the Police used excessive force to disband a peaceful protest, they have obviously singled out John Minto because of his activism. Eye witness Joe Carolen reports:

"3 cops pulled John Minto out of the human chain, they dragged him to the sidewalk, slammed him into the ground, twisted his arms way up behind his back, and handcuffed him hard."

Another eyewitness named Doug Robertson reported that his son and daughter were both arrested and that they had informed him that the Police had badly cut John Mintos' hand with handcuffs during the arrest.

In the mayhem, an elderly lady was pushed to the ground by the Police where she experienced a seizure. The Police stopped people from attending to her, which is completely unacceptable.

Video courtesy of Socialist Aotearoa

The incident that received absolutely no mainstream reporting has occurred because the National government wants the land for their rich developer mates. They are not concerned with the welfare of the people and have used the police as state enforcers in a most despicable act of brutality. Fore shame!

Things Happen

Connecting the Dots Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Farrars engineered accusations

Last week, Kiwiblog reported:

The Greens used to have a section called The Wild Greens, who carried out attacks on stuff they disagree with.


Now no one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism yet – which is not surprising, as they will presumably be arrested. But like with the stickers in the election, will there be links to the Green Party, and even the parliamentary wing?

Will the Greens come out and condemn this attack?

The Greens are not required to publicly condemn environmental activism just because a rightwing hack demands it and makes up some baseless accusations.

What people like David Farrar need to realise is there are many Kiwi's who will risk a criminal record to ensure New Zealand is protected from environmental terrorism, and the real criminality occurs when so-called scientists put New Zealand's productivity at risk.

Yesterday, Green MP Steffan Browning at frogblog reported:

The level of non-compliance and general slackness in the past included potted GE pine cuttings in the open developing pollen cones. This gave those following the ERMA hearing process, no confidence that pollen [contamination] wouldn’t happen again, especially when ERMA said that non-GE control trees within the site could produce pollen, and approval conditions would deal with the risk of GE pollen escape. That was exactly what they had said about the pollen risk from GE brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and kale) at that ERMA hearing only a few years before. Even while an appeal to the High Court was being heard against the GE brassica decision, the brassica scientist (a friend and colleague of the Scion GE crew) had her GE brassicas planted and flowering in the open, and I discovered a further open pollen event at her ‘secret’ site months later.

The risk to New Zealand's horticultural industry from slack GE trial controls cannot be overemphasized. In 2009, New Zealand had exports and domestic sales of $6 billion, making horticulture a top performer and crucial for our economic stability.

Allowing GE trials to put at risk this multi billion-dollar sector is highly negligent. Scientists are not the only ones to blame for the administrative lapses though, as it's ultimately the legislators that have failed, and this is where change needs to occur the most.

As a Member of Parliament, I cannot condone illegal activity, but as a participant in the Scion GE tree and Plant & Food Research GE brassica hearings, I know why activists can feel the need to overstep the badly managed processes and take the law into their own hands. Legislation is a better way of correcting GE in the environment of New Zealand, and the sooner a government does it the better.

Well that answers Farrars' baseless accusation then. The Green party were not involved in the justified vandalism of the GE pine trees. President of GE Free NZ, Claire Bleakley has also set the record straight.

They are however involved in trying to change the National party's pro GE legislation that has caused the conflict to occur in the first place, for which they should be commended.

17 Apr 2012

Lotto worse than pokies?

Today, TV3 reported:

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison says Lotto does more harm to society than its Auckland casino.

The main difference between Lotto and SkyCity's pokie machines is the return they provide to communities. While SkyCity only gives 2.5% to a charitable trust, NZ Lotteries distributes 20% of the profits from Lotto to communities throughout New Zealand.

For every dollar spent on Lotto, 56 cents goes towards prizes, 10% goes to the Government as tax, and 7% is the operating budget... which all makes Nigel Morrison full of shit!

He also says SkyCity's desired increase in machines won't result in more problem gambling, because Auckland's public transport system makes getting to the casino problematic.

SkyCity currently has almost 1650 pokies on its premises, and in a deal with the Government, will be allowed to increase that to more than 2000 in exchange for a convention centre.

Auckland has a high-density population and SkyCity also has parking available for problem gamblers who haven't yet lost their vehicles yet. Some low-decile communities that have terrible issues as a result of problem gambling don't have public transport at all.

So Morrison's argument that Auckland's inadequate transport system will reduce the amount of people using SkyCity's pokie machines is defunct. However there is one thing he gets half right:

"There is no doubt the incidence of harm is through pokie machines in the community, scattered throughout the community," says Mr Morrison.

Being that young people growing up in poorer areas have 6 times as many pokie machines available than a young person in a well off community, and each machine is shown to cause at least one problem gambler, deprived areas are more adversely affected.

There is a disproportionate amount of gambling machines in poorer areas, but pound for pound, SkyCities pokies are more of a problem. That's because the bet limit at SkyCity is greater than clubs and bars (which return 37% of profits back to communities), thus SkyCity attracts more problem gamblers.

Morrison obviously doesn't let reality get in the way of a good fairytale:

"The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult."

Getting the "facts" across would be a lot less difficult if Morrison wasn't blatantly lying. According to a Problem Gambling Foundation report (PDF):

Pokie machines are the most harmful form of gambling as 77% - 85% of problem gamblers use them as their primary mode of gambling.

These findings are from a report (PDF) conducted by the Ministry of Health so can be considered correct. I wonder what report Morrison is reading? Talking such obvious crap isn't going to help his cause much.

John Key's brighter future

16 Apr 2012

In defence of Jafas

I'm not sure why I torture myself sometimes by reading rightwing blogs of very little relevance. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment.

My self flagellation for today was in reading a rather large post (1040 words) by deluded rightwing stalwart Karl du Fresne, who waffled on with some of the worst parochial rubbish I've ever had the displeasure of reading:

For years I refused to indulge in the anti-Auckland prejudice commonly encountered south of the Bombay Hill. Those tiresome “Wellington is better” (or Christchurch, or Dunedin) arguments struck me as puerile and parochial. Eager to demonstrate my broad-mindedness, I argued that every New Zealand city had its virtues and Auckland was no exception.

I now realise I’ve failed to convince even myself. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason, still less articulate it, but every time I go to Auckland I like it less. My wife and I couldn’t get away soon enough after the latest trip.

The best way I can describe it is to say that Auckland seems a city without a heart – both literally and metaphorically.

du Fresne says he cannot articulate his reasons for not liking Auckland and then schizophrenically does just that. He's obviously trying to be controversial for the sake of controversy, which invariably results in crap articles. Auckland: a city without a heart is no exception to that rule.

Literally speaking, Queen Street is supposed to be the city’s heart; there’s even a business promotion organisation called Heart of the City. But Auckland’s heart, if that’s what it is, is barely beating. Despite the $50 million reportedly spent in recent years trying to tart it up, Queen St looks tired to the point of seeming almost moribund.

Well firstly, who was the idiot that said Queen Street is the heart of Auckland City? Saying Queen is the heart of Auckland instead of (for arguments sake) K Road is like saying Jervois Quay is the heart of Wellington City instead of Cuba Street or Courtney Place etc.

As a middle aged, middle classed and deluded male clearly experiencing a midlife crisis, du Fresne obviously has not experienced all that Auckland has to offer. His sterile opinion is a result of ignorance and prudishness, or perhaps he's just a little homesick for the backblocks.

There’s not so much as a faint spark of the energy and vibrancy that once made it a shoppers’ mecca. It looks and feels like a street in terminal decline. Even that doughty old department store Smith and Caughey – Auckland’s equivalent of Wellington’s Kirkcaldie and Stains or Ballantyne’s in Christchurch – seems to have given up the ghost.

In one sentence du Fresne talks about the heart of Auckland, and then he talks about malls. He completely ignores the fact that an article about the heart of a city should include its music venues, art galleries, restaurants and cafe's.

Not to mention theatres, parades and the night life, which incidental to the article, Auckland has an abundance of. But does he mention any of these... No! That's like trying to make an omelette without breaking eggs... and speaking of eggs:

Downtown Auckland gives the impression of having been gripped by the same disease I’ve seen in American and Australian cities: shoppers have abandoned it, either for fashionable inner-suburban Newmarket or for bland, lookalike suburban malls such as South Auckland’s Sylvia Park (a place that manages to be even duller than its name suggests).

Wow! In researching his article, du Fresne managed to visit Sylvia Park mall. The arrogance of this right-winger is simply unbelievable! He pretentiously waffles on about Malls and expects people to take him seriously in an article meant to be about the heart of Auckland.

It appears that du Fresne was blind to the inherent quality of his surroundings while in the city of sails, which is the tenth most livable city in the World.

In fact what he's doing is projecting his own self-loathing through irrelevant experiences onto completely unrelated topics. This is a common mental illness among bigots!

And here’s another thing: Queen St is the Street of Grunge. Most of the people we saw trudging its footpaths looked as if they hadn’t washed for days and were wearing clothes they’d hauled out that morning from a mouldy pile under the bed. After walking among these scrofulous-looking creatures I wondered whether we should check ourselves for fleas.

Really! Aucklander's (who make up around a third of the population) have fleas? The disingenuous du Fresne's higher than thou attitude is a good example of all that's wrong with right wing elitists... and such a blatant generalisation deserves nothing but contempt.

It's not until you get to the comments though that du Fresne reveals exactly why he doesn't like Auckland:

The signage on the main roads in and around Auckland is atrocious. Most signs give directions to specific streets and roads rather than suburbs.

Literally and metaphorically, learn to read a map book you fucking moron!

Racist New Zealand

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

A Fiji-Indian landlord has had his rental property listing removed by Trade Me after he described his ideal tenants as "European".

Good on Trade Me for making the right decision. Requesting that your tenants need to be a certain ethnicity is a clear breach of the Human Rights Act 1993.

The discriminatory advert rightly gained a number of complaints... However there's a reason for the unnamed man's racism:

He said the television show Renters had put him off ethnic tenants.


"At the end of the day, I haven't got anything against them... but you don't want to go through what you see on all those TV programmes.

Programs like Renters promote discrimination by focusing on ethnic minorities; they also disproportionately put the blame on tenants, when there are many terrible landlords in New Zealand who never get named and shamed.

One of the main reasons for the biased reporting is weak enforcement of our human rights laws, with those employed to ensure racial harmony often failing to uphold their mandate.

The Human Rights Commission spokesman Gilbert Wong said the rules did not apply when looking for flatmates.

"Someone might advertise for a female flatmate. That's fine because it's about living with someone, as opposed to offering a product or service generally," Mr Wong said.

Wong is wrong! There is no legislation that says you can racially discriminate when choosing a flatmate. No lawful distinction is made between offering a service and advertising for a flatmate.

The law clearly states that you shouldn't discriminate against a potential flatmate on account of the colour of their skin... and the end result of the Commission's incorrect interpretation of the law:

14 Apr 2012


Today, the Nation on TV3 interviewed the disingenuous Cameron Slater about the Lobbying Disclosure Bill (PDF), which has recently been drawn from the ballot.

I often wonder why the mainstream media interview old blubberguts all the time. He is so discredited as a commentator and therefore not a credible witness.

But what should make them think twice about interviewing Slater again, is that he was completely unintelligible, and perhaps still inebriated from the night before?

13 Apr 2012

Hoping for a trifecta

Back in January, TrueBlue reported:

Just too busy and too stretched to blog right now. Thanks to all who have emailed asking why, and I assure you my health is fine. I just have far too much work to do in far too short a time and I just have to drop blogging for the time being.

Then in March, Oswald Bastable ranted:

I need a break from this - I have too much drama going on right now. I will be back in the future - but first, I have a long overdue book to finish writing. I'm still watching, reading the good blogs and sending shit-eating leftard rimjaws to the trash bin!

So that's a couple of the most lunatic rightwing bloggers out of the picture... who will be the third?

I'm hoping it will be the racist CrusaderRabbit or the completely insane RedBaiter. Who knows, it could even be Cameron Slater.

Slater has been making a right dick of himself lately. However he obviously doesn't have an ounce of self-respect to be carrying on like that in the first place... so I doubt he's going to jump without somebody giving him a really good push.

Slaters leaking backfires

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

The Council of Trade Unions says the Ports of Auckland has admitted leaking personal details about an employee who spoke out against the port.


Ms Kelly said the letter does not name who was responsible for the leak, but it did state the leak was a response to Mr Walker speaking out publicly against the port.

"They acknowledge they released it. They explain, in their terms, why they released it, and regardless of the fact they clearly agree that it probably breached the Privacy Act, that's implied in the letter. But they don't go on to say that they change, in fact they go on to say that they reserve the right to do it again."

There really wasn't anywhere else that the detailed private information about Cecil Walker could have come from, and in releasing it, PoAL management have scored a very significant own goal. They've also shown everybody what cretins they really are.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Senior Ports of Auckland staff will "have to go" if they had anything to do with leaking personal details about an employee, a senior council source says.

Mayor Len Brown is deeply concerned about an admission by the ports company that it leaked the confidential employment records of wharfie Cecil Walker to a right-wing blog site.

In a strongly worded statement issued from China, where he is leading a trade delegation, Mr Brown said: "I would be very concerned about any illegal breach of privacy laws in any company owned by Auckland Council, and it is certainly not something I would tolerate.

"It is important we await the outcome of the Privacy Commissioner's investigation before any action is taken."

Yesterday, a senior council source said if the commissioner found that any senior staff or board members were involved in leaking personal information, they would "have to go".

"You can't break the law of the land," the source said.

Well it's about time the Auckland Council stepped up to the plate and tried to sort the mess that PoAL mismanagement has caused. Whether this is all talk or not is yet to be seen, but at least they're making the right noises.

Yesterday, the company refused to answer questions from the Herald about whether any senior staff or board members authorised the leak.

Nor would the company say if any action had been taken against those responsible.

Of course they refused to answer, their jobs are on the line. What a bunch of arrogant overpaid bastards PoAL's senior management is.

Even though they've dropped Slater right in it, he's still refusing to say exactly whom the email tip-off came from. I'm expecting the Privacy Commissioner to rule against the sewer known as whailoil as well as PoAL's senior management. Good job!

Troll and Internet menace Cameron Slater

Hero of the Week - Easter drivers

On Tuesday, reported:

No road deaths were reported over the Easter break for the first time since records started, police say.

Acting national road policing manager Rob Morgan said that even more pleasing was that no road deaths had been reported for April so far.

That followed a grim 24-hour period at the end of March, when nine people died on the roads.

Morgan said advice from police was that overall, driving behaviour had been good during the Easter break.

Police attended 519 crashes during the period from 4pm Thursday to 6am today, 12 per cent lower than the 590 in the 2011 Easter break.

There was no one reason for the zero toll this Easter, and good fortune may have played a part.

Well done everybody who was driving responsibly during the Easter weekend.

Tim Groser - Asshole of the Week

Today, reported:

Cabinet minister Tim Groser budgeted $44,000 for a two-day trip to Paris last month.

The bill includes an estimated $33,494 for airfares from Kuala Lumpur to France and back to New Zealand for Mr Groser and an aide.

The last-minute trip to attend an OECD ministerial meeting was sparked by the shock resignation of former environment minister Nick Smith over an ACC scandal.

The only way this is possible is if they didn't plan the trip in advance at all and rang the airlines on the day they wanted to fly out. You can fly from Kuala Lumpur to Paris for under $1000, and from Paris to New Zealand for under $2000. $33,494 on airfares is way over the top.

Labour's state services spokesman, Chris Hipkins, last night called on Mr Groser to release details of the costs and pointed to the Government's intention to veto a paid parental leave bill on the grounds of costs.

"At a time when the Government are saying they can't find the money for parents to spend time with their children they should be looking a little bit more closely at where they are spending taxpayers' money on themselves.

Exactly! National are choosing to not fund more paid parental leave because they want to spend the money on less worthwhile things, not because we cannot afford it. It's about priorities... and healthy Kiwi families is obviously not a priority for this National government. So what are National MP's priorities then?

Two years ago it emerged Mr Groser charged at least $1469 against taxpayer funded credit cards for alcohol purchases. He ran up a minibar bill of $466 in one week at The Square hotel during the Copenhagen climate change conference. This included five $92 bottles of Famous Grouse whisky.

He defended the spending as "squarely within" the rules. He was also reprimanded by Mr Key's office after a complaint was received about heavy drinking among his trade delegation on a flight back from Dubai.

In Grosers' case he wants to prioritize our taxes on getting pissed and taking expensive and unnecessary trips to Paris. Only an A hole of the first order would put such priorities above the welfare of our children.

Christchurch declared frack free zone

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Christchurch City Council has voted unanimously to declare Christchurch a fracking-free zone.

Excellent! My estimation of Bob Parker has increased dramatically. Not only has he been proactive with informing his council about fracking, Parker is willing to take the ensuing pressure from central government, which is currently being run by a bunch of pro-fracking idiots! But there's even more good news:

The council also decided to call on the country's other territorial/local authorities and regional councils to declare their areas fracking-free. Christchurch City Council will discuss the issue with Environment Canterbury.

Fantastic! Being that there is ample evidence to show that fracking is dangerous and has already caused environmental damage in New Zealand, we're likely to see more councils declare their areas frack free as well.

Councils that don't will be hard pressed to find any reasons for their environmentally negligent decision.

Police pursuits

On Wednesday, the Police reported:

From time-to-time, Police Officers encounter some truly bizarre incidents. This ironic work story started one day when the driver of the offending vehicle was forbidden to drive. Ignoring their ban, they encountered police later that day at a routine checkpoint. In a (significant) error of judgement, the driver decided to flee. A pursuit ensued which lasted less than a minute. The driver lost control and careered through a fence into the billboard. The patrol car was some distance behind the vehicle when it crashed and all police procedures were fully complied with. The driver was not seriously injured but was left with plenty of explaining to do. They made full admissions of responsibility and were convicted on traffic charges relating to the pursuit.

In the story above, it appears they actually knew who the offender was and where he lived, and so did not have to give chase. It's par for the course for police to say they were not in the wrong and didn't cause the accident. The other line they use is that they had just called off the chase when the accident occurred.

The truth of the matter is that many offenders would not have crashed without the police chasing them. The main problem is that driver training given to police officers is not adequate, and there are no refresher courses to ensure proper practice is always followed.

And the results? In December 2010, the NZ Herald reported:

There have been 2057 pursuits so far this year and 18 people have died - including two in less than 24 hours at the weekend.

Police are adrenaline junkies who love the thrill of the chase. With the majority of pursuits being for stolen vehicles, it would often be far more appropriate to rely on old fashioned policing techniques to track down the vehicle at a later stage, instead of initiating a high speed chase. It's only a car after all and not worth putting people's lives at risk.

12 Apr 2012

Blowing the budget

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Government has defended its rising payments to consultants, saying unexpected events such as earthquakes and finance company collapses required experts that the public sector could not provide.

Documents released under the Official Information Act showed that Treasury and the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture had tripled their payments to contractors in National's time in government.

Some departments were spending close to a third of their budget on consultants.

More private consultants are required because there is now a shortfall from reducing the amount of public sector workers. In some instances, government departments are having to hire at a premium the very same staff they have just laid off.

This is where National excels, by not properly understanding the effect of their idiotic decisions. They are in fact ideologically blinded by neoliberalism that ends up costing us more with less to show for it.

Despite the obvious incompetency, Bill English does his best to dismiss National's budget blowout:

Finance Minister Bill English said this did not represent a blowout because it was lower than the rate of inflation and similar to the total wage increases for the public sector.

He said the big-spending departments such as Treasury had dealt with earthquake recovery, the collapse of finance companies, and guarantees for large IT projects.

"Those require specialist skills that you wouldn't expect the public service to have. While the public sector has a wide range of skills it doesn't have every skill you need in a pretty volatile world."

Treasury's budget on consultants has increased by 450 per cent since Labour's time in charge.

Mr English said he did not know what the Government had spent in total on consultants, and it was up to individual ministries to provide these figures.

Excuses excuses! Of course they failed to project the increased spending on consultants in the 2011 PREFU. National also sacked thousands of public sector workers to apparently save money, and here is Bill bloody English saying employment costs have increased... what an idiot!

National will just continue to bang on about excessive costs under the last Labour government, while under National, New Zealand has to borrow billions to cover their tax cuts for the wealthy, which will ensure our indebtedness for the foreseeable future.

The financial incompetency of National couldn't be greater.

11 Apr 2012

Productivity Commission slams National

Today, the newly formed Productivity Commission released its Final report into Housing Affordability (PDF), and it's all bad news for young Kiwi's who want to own their own homes.

Here's the upshot:

Home ownership will continue to elude many New Zealanders unless bold changes are made to New Zealand’s housing market, the Productivity Commission says.

Of course John Banks "thinks" this is a windfall for property developers:

"ACT would like to see action taken immediately to lift the restrictions on buildable land so that more New Zealanders, particularly the young, can afford to own their own piece of New Zealand," Mr Banks said.

Completely ignoring the fact that the high price of materials in New Zealand has led to a housing shortfall, John Banks arrogantly promotes a lifting of building restrictions to benefit property developers. He fails to acknowledge that international competition for our materials and overseas investment contributes to unaffordable housing.

It's also housing cost versus low incomes... If the government fails to develop policies to limit the drivers of the housing bubble such as property speculation, and continues to rely on a low wage economy, our home ownership rate will simply continue to decline.

Ignoring these facts, David Farrar also dishes out another dollop of propaganda:

Now some of the usual suspects will say “No we can’t do it” because they think larger cities means more roads and more roads are of course evil. Now sure you can have that view, but be aware that the price of keeping to that view is that more and more low to middle income families will never get to own their own home, and will probably also end up paying more to rent than in the past.

People like John Banks aren't talking about urban spread, they are talking about enabling more high density developments and reducing restrictions on the building consent process, which is exactly what happened before the leaky building crisis that has ruined many lives.

The bold changes the Productivity Commission is talking about should include a Capital Gains Tax so that property speculation doesn't drive up prices. Lifting the minimum wage would also help make housing more affordable for ordinary New Zealand families and better social housing policy would ensure a safety net.

Instead of making the best decisions for New Zealanders, the National government is fundamentally opposed to policy that ensures housing affordability. In fact over the last few years they have gone about making the situation a lot worse.

The Productivity Commission cuts to the chase*:

Although the Commission supports the better use of public assets, it is concerned that the way the current social housing reforms are being conducted may undermine the social purposes for which the state is involved in providing housing. Starting the reforms by making changes to state housing without addressing demand pressures and building options for state tenants to ‘move on’ is generating a risk that those who are reviewed out of state housing will have to accept inadequate alternatives. Coupling redevelopments with a transfer of existing state housing stock to the community housing sector has the potential to deliver better social outcomes.

Social housing is targeted to people with a set of risks or vulnerabilities that predispose them to social and economic disadvantage. The sustainability of these tenants’ ‘readiness to move on’ is contingent not on a change in their level of need, but on addressing the vulnerabilities that create that need. The current model of moving people through different kinds of housing based on an assessment weighted heavily towards housing affordability is not well equipped to address these vulnerabilities.

By inadequate alternatives the Productivity Commission means homelessness or people living in garages. Instead of ensuring a viable social housing system, the overall state houses available declined by 171 between 2008 and 2011. National increased the amount of vacant state houses by a whopping 471 over the same time period and 256 state houses were demolished.

Along with the harsher criteria and restrictive 0800 answer-phone service, this is designed to move people into an overpriced open rental market, which ensures house prices remain artificially inflated. The social cost of such short-sightedness is enormous!

*Incidentally, the version David Farrar linked to didn't include the paragraphs quoted.

10 Apr 2012

The Young Nats schedule

I happened to be looking around the Young Natz website today when I came across their activities page. So I thought I would check out what they get up to.

The Lower North Island Young Nats report:

Together, members throughout the region engage in a variety of social events, debates, policy forums, and campaigns.

The Southern Young Nats report:

Young Nats also host social events throughout the year – whether it be a pub crawl or dinner with an MP, there is always something going on.

Well that sounds promising. Here's the Young Natz schedule:

It's the same non-event for all upcoming months as well. Pathetic!