The Jackal: August 2012

31 Aug 2012

Senility is never pretty

Raoul Neave - Asshole of the Week

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

In Auckland District Court yesterday, Judge Raoul Neave criticised the media for referring to the offence as a hit-and-run, saying Hallwright was driving "away" from the situation, which had been escalated in seriousness by Mr Kim banging on the bonnet.

"What I know of your character ... I consider it highly unlikely you would have driven at him," Judge Neave told Hallwright.

He said describing the incident as a hit-and-run was "irresponsible and inappropriate".

"[Mr Kim] has gone under the wheels of your car, you've driven over him before carrying on with your manoeuvre [of pulling back on to the road]," Judge Neave said.

He told Hallwright he was a contributor to society with a "spotless reputation" and "impeccable character" but he did not want it to be thought that he was overlooking the "very serious" effects on Mr Kim.

"[It caused] very significant and severe injuries to Mr Kim ... though it goes without saying you never sought out to cause those injuries."

Judge Neave said the reparation represented Hallwright's remorse and was not a loophole of the legal system that allowed rich people to buy their way out of more serious sentences.

Hallwright's employer, Forsyth Barr, felt he had brought the company into disrepute as a result of media coverage of the trial, and the judge criticised the media's "prurient" interest in the case as "vulgar in the extreme".

The media had "seized upon and reported for no reason other than a desire to take an unhealthy degree of glee" from someone of Hallwright's esteem being on trial in a criminal court. "The Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude."

Balderdash! Guy Hallwright was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and should have been punished appropriately. The maximum sentence for this crime is up to 14 years imprisonment. Just because Hallwright is a wealthy businessman doesn't mean he should be let off with a slap on the wrist.

Obviously Hallwright did intend to cause injury by accelerating forward while Kim was under the vehicle. He was after all found guilty of doing so for gods sake. To second guess that judgement and conviction just goes to show how factually baseless Raoul Neave is.

Neave's biased reasoning and lame excuses for such a pathetic sentence are completely unacceptable. Criticizing the media's coverage because he wanted Hallwright's crime kept out of the limelight shows him to be a complete asshole that should not be in a position of power.

Unfortunately this kind of corrupt judgement makes people lose all faith in the justice system as it clearly shows there's one law for the rich and another for the rest of us. Despicable!

29 Aug 2012

Dopey PM is a disgrace!

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The expert advisory group brought together by Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills to find solutions to child poverty released its recommendations yesterday.

Its members include AUT accounting expert James Prescott, Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army, Professor Ritchie Poulton of the Dunedin School of Medicine and Philippa Howden-Chapman, a public health expert.

Among its recommendations for the longer term was a universal child payment for under-6s.

The payment would be highest while the child was a baby, when costs were high, and would decline through childhood.

Co-chair Dr Tracey McIntosh said the payment was about ensuring children had the best start in life. "Investment in the early years has a particularly strong link to better outcomes for disadvantaged children."

Mr Key said yesterday he welcomed the report but ruled out reinstating universal child payments, which were ended in the 1990s, or tax breaks for parents, another recommendation.

He called a return to a universal child payment a "dopey" idea.

"We went away from that some years ago in New Zealand - we have a very targeted system through Working for Families - it's highly proportional to your income; so we make much larger payments to lower income families."

The only one being dopey around here is the Prime Minister. Key doesn't seem to understand that Working for Families doesn't apply to the majority of children living in poverty, namely those from welfare dependent families. The scheme is therefore not proportional as it seeks to disadvantage those in the most need.

National is of course opposing the Greens bill (PDF) to make the scheme fairer, mainly because they want a certain amount of the community to live in hardship to keep wages low.

The best they can muster as an argument to oppose Catherine Delahunty's changes is that extending Working for Families' tax credits to beneficiaries shouldn't happen because beneficiaries aren't working.

Clearly this is a juvenile point of view from the rightwing who simply doesn't have any solutions. It's not the name that's important; it's the effectiveness of the scheme to ensure a reduction in the amount of children living in poverty that matters.

Key also seems to be arguing that the current measures to reduce child poverty are adequate. He's therefore completely failing to acknowledge the dramatic increase in inequality under National's governance. New Zealand now officially has 270,000 children living in poverty. That's a quarter of all Kiwi kids growing up impoverished and in need.

Inequality has increased in New Zealand the fastest of all OECD countries since National gained power in 2008. In a developed democracy with ample resources, this is a complete disgrace! Any Prime Minister who allows this to happen on their watch is a bloody disgrace as well.

27 Aug 2012

National's lame excuses to sell our assets

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Finance Minister Bill English says disruption to the timing of the partial share floats of state-owned assets will push the Government over its self-imposed debt limit of 30 per cent of GDP.

Mr English, who is leaving today on a trip to Hong Kong, Moscow and New York, said borrowing was forecast to peak next year at 29.6 per cent and so any extra borrowing would push it over. "It's an informal benchmark - we wouldn't be getting lectures from people about how you've got to stay below but it's a good discipline on us," he said.

Now hold on a second there Bill English... New Zealand recorded a Government Debt to GDP of 37% last year. So where on earth is the Minister of Finance getting his figures from?

Why is this important you might ask? Put simply, high debt slows growth. The consensus within economist ranks is that there exists a threshold of debt to gross domestic product and if debt increases beyond 30%, it will negatively impact the economy. Some studies have shown a marked decrease in median growth especially in advanced countries as debt to GDP increases above 30%.

You can see why the ever deceptive Bill English has been lying about the issue... National through a fevered borrowing agenda since 2008 has increased government debt well above that 30% threshold. Their excuse last year was that interest rates were favouable, and that's why they were borrowing more than the country actually needed to. Interest rates are no longer all that favourable since the governments credit rating was downgraded, which was mainly due to the high debt ratio National had caused. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot.

The Government planned to get between $5 billion and $7 billion over five years for the sale of up to 49 per cent of Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

The proceeds have been booked for forward spending on capital items, such as schools, irrigation schemes and hospitals. Any delay or shortfall in proceeds would mean having to borrow more in the markets.

It's astounding that National failed to foresee a claim on water rights that have effectively halted it's planned asset sales. After spending millions preparing to sell our children's future, National's ideologically driven neoliberal agenda is coming up woefully short.

The fact of the matter is that there's no longterm benefit for the government in selling such profitable assets, and so Bill English's excuse that the proceeds are needed for funding infrastructure is disingenuous! There's a proven longterm loss, and the government will need to borrow more or cancel a highway of little economic significance to fund these projects anyway.

The other issue is that the higher the debt to GDP ratio, the more likely New Zealand is to default on our debt obligations. You might think I'm fear mongering... Not at all. The 30% threshold effect between public debt and economic growth means that anything above the threshold has cumulative effects. In other words the more debt that needs to be repaid the less investment into the economy which reduces GDP. This also means that less taxes are collected and could result in a longterm inability to service debt properly.

I'm in two minds about National's bungling of the economy... Are they completely incompetent or are they fucking things up on purpose? Their excuses as to why we have to sell our assets seems to answer that question.

25 Aug 2012

Smart transport for New Zealand

You can sign the Avaaz Generation Zero petition here.

Collins is a DIC

Yesterday, National reported:

For the first time in over twenty years, a government is acting to restrict rather than relax our drinking laws. We’re taking action but we can’t do it alone. Problem drinking is an issue for us all.

Judith Collins

I had long suspected that most National MPs have drinking problems. Thankfully Collins has finally come forward and cleared the air because admitting she and her colleges are alcoholics is the first step to recovery.

After a rather bad episode, she must be regretting her inebriated announcement that the government will let the booze barons regulate themselves. What was she thunking?

Government regulation to reduce harm from ready-to-drink alcopops is really a no brainer and I pity the person who has to clean up the mess made by such drunken decision making.

Hopefully one day they will come to their senses and we can have some sober law making surrounding the destructive alcohol industry. But then again, we will probably need a change in government first.

24 Aug 2012

National's climate change policy

In a speech given to the International Dialogue on the Future Climate Change Agreement, Tim Groser outlined National's underlying policy plan for negotiations on climate change:

Negotiations are like the children’s game of musical chairs. You know, I would assume, the rules for this standard game for birthday parties of children from about the age of 3-8. The children dance around the table – in this case the negotiating table – but there are not sufficient chairs for everyone. Crucially, an adult is in charge of the music and no-body quite knows when the music is going to be turned off signalling a mad rush for the chairs. The more adventurous children stake out positions on the dance floor far removed from a chair. When the music suddenly stops, someone misses out.


23 Aug 2012

Keys euthanasia gaff

Today, Stuff reported:

Mr Key said yesterday that he could understand the argument that legalising euthanasia might put pressure on the elderly to end their lives early, in the face of "rapacious grandkids", but "I don't really buy that argument".

"I think there's a lot of euthanasia that effectively happens in our hospitals," he told Newstalk ZB.

". . . If I had terminal cancer, I had a few weeks to live, I was in tremendous amount of pain - if they just effectively wanted to turn off the switch and legalise that by legalising euthanasia, I'd want that."

Here we have an elected official commenting on a currently illegal activity saying that it's widespread in our hospital system. Even worse he infers that because it is already happening, there doesn't need to be a law change to allow euthanasia to occur legally. The mind boggles at just how inept and wrong Keys statement is on so many levels.

The Prime Minister's claim has been categorically shot down by many health professionals and quite rightly so. It's bad enough to make up a story to try and justify his noncommittal to changing euthanasia laws, but to say that doctors are routinely breaking the law and the government knows about it while doing nothing is entirely unacceptable.

Key is either a liar in regard to hospital's allowing the law to be broken or failing to ensure the law is upheld. Either way it's another lose lose PR disaster for National's spin doctors, who are looking decidedly pathetic by trying to justify Keys stupidity.

22 Aug 2012

The politics of death

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

On the whole, MPs deliberately kept politics out of that "debate" out of respect for the fallen soldiers.

Even more bizarre was his suggestion that MPs talk about the rights and wrongs of the Afghanistan deployment during the House's consideration of an Imprest Supply Bill, a debate where, Smith noted, there were virtually no restrictions on what matters could be raised.

Smith's refusal of a snap debate might have had some small justification on grounds of technicality, particularly on the question of "recent occurrence". The Cabinet had yet to make a decision on the date of the withdrawal of New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team, while questions about the adequacy of the troops' equipment might be considered ongoing matters, rather than something needing the urgent attention of the House.

But to rule in such a fashion is to ignore one of the fundamental roles of Parliament as the voice of the people.

It denied elected representatives the opportunity to provide catharsis for a shocked nation.

If the Opposition cannot secure a snap debate on something as momentous as five New Zealand soldiers being killed on active service in the space of two weeks, it may as well give up hope of ever getting a snap debate on anything of importance. And that simply is not right.

Many on the right of the political spectrum have said the deaths of New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan should not be discussed in political terms out of respect for the deceased soldiers families. I find this concerning, mainly because it's politics that has led to New Zealand's involvement in Afghanistan and it's a political decision that will ultimately mean the difference between life or death.

It is therefore respectful to discuss that political process that has led to five Kiwi soldiers dying in Afghanistan within the past two weeks. It would be disrespectful not to try and resolve the politics of the matter, especially when such a debate will not cause further anguish to the families involved.

The other bit of propaganda that has been used by National to try and dodge flack is their claim that it's impracticable to leave. This is simply incorrect and shows that John Key has no understanding of what a modern army is capable of. Just to make things clear, warfare is built around an armies ability to effectively maneuver. Claiming otherwise shows John Key is not basing his argument on the facts.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Government is now claiming New Zealand troops can not leave Afghanistan before April 2013, even if they wanted to. "The problem is we can't get out sooner, that's the whole point," admitted Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman on Morning Report yesterday. He said it was a "big logistical operation" and that "once the winter starts we can't pull out ... it takes months to pull out."

As for the decision to bring the departure date forward to April when the Government had previously been talking of later in the year, that too was purely logistics, and has nothing to do with the death of five soldiers in two weeks.

It's all about fitting in with the Japanese timetable for rebuilding Bamiyan airport. Dr Coleman said that was planned to begin in April and once completed, "the airstrip there won't be able to take the size of the aircraft needed - it won't be able to take the [NZ] Hercules once it's been rebuilt, we've got to get in and out before the reconstruction starts."

So, on the one hand, we're being told accelerating our troops' departure from Afghanistan to save them from further attacks from the roaming Taleban guerrillas would be to disrespect the 10 New Zealand personnel who have been killed in the conflict, but to speed up our departure to accommodate the rebuilding of the airport is all right.

Worse yet is the way many rightwinger's have politicized the issue themselves by attacking the left and those who want to have a responsible discussion on the matter at hand. It is assuredly a tragedy that our soldiers are dying, but this should not limit the political discussion that needs to take place to ensure solutions are found.

Apart from leaving a force that is outnumbered and under-resourced in harms way, these are the only options available:

1 Leave the area in a timely fashion that ensures the safety of other coalition troops.

2 Consolidate forces in another area where the reconstruction objective can be achieved.

3 Increase the number of Kiwi troops in Bamiyan and ensure they are properly equipped.

In my opinion, option 1 is the only tactical and responsible answer and I don't think it's insensitive to say so... I am being practical and hopefully such practicality will lead to lives being saved.

20 Aug 2012

In Tomorrow's Herald

SkyCity convention centre on shaky ground

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Institutional investment reaction is divided over SkyCity Entertainment Group's pokies-for-convention-centre proposal.

Graeme Thomas of Milford Asset Management in Auckland said the $350 million Auckland deal was leaving some shareholders unimpressed.

"There is little doubt that the possible outcomes of this process have caused investors to be wary," Thomas said.

It's no wonder they're a bit worried about the deal... The feasibility study (PDF) into the convention centre showed that it would only be financially viable if the global economy picked up. It hasn't with more bad news coming out of Europe and the United States. China is also experiencing an extended downturn and perhaps more importantly, as our closest trading partner, Australia's economy has slowed as well.

This all means less delegations and therefore less business turnover for convention centres around the world. With our local business community not often requiring such facilities, the merit of investing in the project in the first place is questionable. But despite these facts, SkyCity is pushing ahead with it's plan, even purchasing $30 million worth of additional land to build their convention centre on. Clearly there is something in it for them.

Along with an official investigation into the governments involvement in trading off our legislation to allow 500 more pokie machines, which is a proven way to increase the number problem gamblers, the SkyCity convention centre is really looking like a dead dog in a ditch. Is there a National minister willing to risk jumping in to try and save it I wonder?

This has all been another PR disaster for the rightwing and especially John Key who initially arranged the secretive deal. After being on the back foot, they've now decided to remain largely silent on the issue while the Auditor General investigates. Previous attempts to spin the story to their advantage were largely feckless, with the public realizing that our legislation should simply not be for sale.

It would seem that some investors are also waking up to the questionable nature and lack of economic viability for SkyCity's convention centre. I wonder if the government will listen?

A pointless loss of life

Today, Stuff reported:

A woman is among the three Kiwi soldiers killed by an "enormous" Taleban bomb blast in Afghanistan, a source has confirmed.

Clearly it's not worth staying in Bamiyan Province for another year. The Taliban have stepped up their summer offensive, with a marked increase in the amount of clashes that have been well reported in western media over the last four months. The Taliban even warned that their new offensive would largely focus on the previously safe province, so there's no excuse for leaving what is meant to be a reconstruction team in such a hot zone.

Prime Minister John Key this morning said New Zealand would not ''cut and run'' from Afghanistan following the deaths, but Labour Foreign Affairs spokesman Phil Goff said it was time to leave.

My own thoughts about the war being unjustifiable to begin with aside, there's no excuse for mismanaging our soldiers combat missions. War is a fluid thing that cannot be dictated by slow political minds who need to be made to understand that their failure to do the right thing is costing lives.

"To leave early wouldn't be sensible, it wouldn't be practical and it wouldn't be right," John Key told Breakfast.

The prime minister is entirely wrong and obviously it is practical to leave. The delay in the government realizing that the war in Afghanistan is thoroughly and truly lost will undoubtedly mean more deaths. Whatever the coalition forces hoped to achieve is no longer an option and it's time to bring our fine soldiers home.

19 Aug 2012

Vladimir Putin - Asshole of the Week

Yesterday, the Guardian reported:

Three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot are facing two years in a prison colony after they were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, in a case seen as the first salvo in Vladimir Putin's crackdown on opposition to his rule.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were calmly defiant as a judge handed down the sentence, to cries of "Shame!" inside and outside court. Judge Marina Syrova said she rejected their arguments that they had not intended to offend religious believers but were protesting against the Orthodox church's support for Putin.

The case has galvanised Russia's anti-Putin protest movement and raised the international profile of their cause, with dozens of protests held worldwide.

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Pussy Riot causing a public disturbance and everything to do with closing down criticism of the current regime. Unfortunately for the dictator Vladimir Putin, it has been widely reported on and ensured huge amounts of support for the punk rock band and their cause.

Yesterday, CBC News reported:

Jane Buchanan, a senior researcher on Russia at Human Rights Watch in New York, said the band members were legitimately exercising their right to free expression with their performance.

"To face criminal changes with a heavy sentence is scandalous and it speaks volumes to the environment for free speech and political opinion that's critical of the government," she said.

The judiciary in Russia is not an independent branch of the state, as it is in most Western countries, observers note.

"It's closely controlled by the executive and, in the Pussy Riot trial and trials before it, we have seen such a scandalous number of fair trial violations that it gives a strong sense that there's a political motivation and a political direction behind this kind of trial," Buchanan says.

What makes this even more disgusting is that Putin publicly called for Pussy Riot not to be judged too harshly.

Earlier this month, the Telegraph reported:

The Russian president said there was "nothing good" about the band's protest, but added: "Nonetheless, I don't think that they should be judged so harshly for this."

"I hope the court will come out with the right decision, a well-founded one," he said during a visit to the Olympics.

However the punishment clearly shows that there has been political interference in the judicial system and Putin's comments were simply made to appease foreign criticism while he was in the UK. So for being a disingenuous dictator that's widely disliked by the people of Russia, and repressing free speech and the creative spirit, Vladimir Putin wins this week's Asshole Award.

Cameron Slater vs Colonial Viper

On Friday, Cameron Slater claimed that The Standard was allowing death threats to be made against John and Josie Pagani, basing the accusation on his misinterpretation and an obvious lack of Sci-Fi knowledge. He was responding to a comment by Colonial Viper, who wrote:

Time to put Zarak and Gaeta back in their place.

This seems rather innocuous to me. Here's a recap of the particular episode referenced:

Colonial Viper has clarified the situation:

The bottom line being, if the Paganis had performed a bloody coup to overthrow the legitimate Colonial Government in the SyFy universe, while co-opting local military forces (as Zarak and Gaeta had, at gun point) then they might be in a spot of bother today, in some faraway fictional universe. Anything else is up to Whale’s fevered, and vastly overstretched, imagination.

Now let me make this clear... Writing something like this:

They are uncouth, they are scum who should be gut-shot and left to die. They have no respect they are opportunists and did I mention scum. I think the Police need a SOS policy Shoot on Sight for looter and thieves.

...Breaches New Zealand's laws, which state:

Threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who—
(a) threatens to kill or do grievous bodily harm to any person; or
(b) sends or causes to be received, knowing the contents thereof, any letter or writing containing any threat to kill or do grievous bodily harm to any person.

Referencing a BattleStar Galactica episode is not a death threat, which makes Cameron Slater's next statement all the more ludicrous:

Josie and John must be beside themselves. They have a young family and those are serious threats.

The Pagani's have the option, just like Arie Smith-Voorkamp, of making a complaint to the police. However I can assure readers that the police would simply laugh in the face of anybody making a complaint concerning Colonial Viper's comment, unlike Cameron Slater's disgusting breach of the law when he called for Arie Smith-Voorkamp to be gut-shot.

Of course this isn't really about upholding high moral standards at all, and is simply being used by the hypocrite Cameron Slater to undertake another baseless attack on the excellent leftwing blog The Standard:

The authors of The Standard and Lynn Prentice as the ostensible “owner” of The Standard know a great deal about this commenter…for a start with all of Lynn’s self professed IT literacy he will certainly know the ip address from which those comments were posted.

The authors at The Standard like to call my blog and DPF’s blog – “The Sewer”. I think that title has been snatched beyond doubt now by The Standard.

Talk about pot calling the kettle black. This has now all disolved into an attack on annonimous bloggers in general.

Today, Whaleoil posted:

An anonymous coward from The Standard Lynn Prentice’s blog has taken objection to my post about the disgusting treatment of the Pagani’s.

I have a very simple message for “Colonial Viper” and all the anonymous cowards at The Standard Lynn Prentice’s blog and it is about accountability for what you are writing online.


They are so cowardly none would write the same way if everyone in the blogging community and mainstream media knew their identity.

Which makes the next observation from the comments on that post all the more interesting:

A fair enough assertion considering some of the underhanded tactics the rightwing employ to try and close down their critics. The response was:

Clearly the comment was directed at Cameron Slater... It was however answered by the anonymous Joe Bloggs... including a spelling mistake that Slater often makes as well. God forbid Slater has adopted a pseudonym to make anonymous comments at his own and other blogsites? Oh the irony!

18 Aug 2012

Paula Bennett should resign

Yesterday, National reported:

Addressing the causes of poverty instead of debating how it’s measured is the Government’s main focus, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Hold on a sec there Bennett... The problem with that assertion is that unless a proper measurement of poverty is available, how can the government hope to properly allocate resources to address the causes of poverty? The simple answer is they cannot.

"The Government is committed to taking action to combat poverty. This is in stark contrast to the Labour Party which just talks about how it should be measured," Mrs Bennett says.

Stop right there again balls-up Bennefits... In case you haven't noticed, National currently holds the reigns of power, and so it's for them to address the problem. Blaming Labour for the current governments inaction is getting old, and National needs to stop passing the buck and blaming other's for their own shortcomings.

"Following recent debate on the issue, I have been misquoted in various media as saying there is no poverty line, or it’s been reported that I don’t acknowledge that a poverty line exists.

The Minister for Social Development is really spinning hard here, but gaining no traction at all. Probably because she's talking complete and utter rubbish... Here's the exact quote from Tuesday's Hansard:

JACINDA ARDERN: How many children in New Zealand are currently living in poverty?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: There is in New Zealand no actual poverty line, so, as such, that is a very open question.

Either Paula Bennett is as thick as a brick, and cannot remember what she said a few days ago, or she is purposefully obfuscating in the hope that nobody checks the facts. Either way, such stupid behaviour is contemptible in a Minister of the Crown. But wait, there's more:

"What I’ve actually said is that there is no official measure of poverty in New Zealand, and that is correct.

Wrong again Bennett... Her own ministry undertakes extensive research into poverty rates and releases an annual report (DOC) on what it finds. Here's the cold hard truth of the matter:

On the AHC moving line measure, the child poverty rate increased from 2007 (22%) to 2010 (25%), reflecting the rise in the proportion of households with children which had high OTIs.

On this moving line measure, the 2010 child poverty rate is around double the rate that prevailed in the early 1980s on this moving line measure.

If that's not an official measure of poverty, I don't know what is. What a complete fail for a Minister to not even be aware of (or not want to acknowledge) the information provided by her own ministry.

On the back of Paula Bennett's contempt towards the Human Rights Commission and the Privacy Commissioner concerning her breach of privacy laws, she should do the country a favour and resign forthwith. That would be an appropriate response considering the circumstances.

Dame Anne Salmond - Hero of the week

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Here, the job of running the country is seen as a form of gladiatorial combat. Every three or five years, one side or the other wins an election, claims a mandate and imposes its policies on the electorate, whether or not these enjoy majority support. In the process, the best interests of citizens are often set aside.

In New Zealand, however, many people are fed up with this style of governance. The shift to proportional representation was intended to move away from successive lurches from left to right, towards negotiation across the middle ground. When politicians subvert this, maintaining the old binary arrangements through self-serving deals and using these to impose extreme ideas, they lose the respect of ordinary citizens, who become cynical and/or disengage from the political process.

This is one of the most succinct and accurate descriptions of the problems inherent in the current system that I've ever read. Dame Anne Salmond has really hit the nail on the head, and goes on to outline ways to resolve these issues in an excellent article full of positive solutions.

All too often we see journalism reduced to the same negative snipping and point scoring employed by politicians, which is hardly representative of the current New Zealand, let alone the New Zealand we wish to create.

A prime example of this negative politicking is the article above Dame Anne Salmond's in which Fran O'Sullivan compares David Cunliffe to a former Chinese politician whose wife is guilty of murder. Initially Chinese police tried to cover-up the incident, with the scandal effectively ending the career of the high-flying husband and politician.

Clearly there's no comparison to David Cunnliffe or his wife, and Fran O'Sullivan's motivation behind the incredibly insulting comments should be questioned. In my opinion she and the NZ Herald editor have no journalistic integrity at all for publishing such trash.

After reading that, Dame Anne Salmond's article is a breath of fresh air of intelligent and professional writing. In an all too often stagnant mainstream media, such insightful articles really do stand out. So thanks Dame Anne Salmond, you are undoubtedly a hero and deserving of this week’s award.

17 Aug 2012

Farrar finally has a good idea

Yesterday, Kiwibog reported:

One could record each Judge’s sentencing decisions for various crimes, and over time see which Judges tend to give heavier and lighter sentences for different types of crimes.

I suspect many lawyers know this anyway through observation.

One could also record how often a Judge gives bail, when opposed by the Police, and even what further crimes are committed on bail, when granted despite opposition.

This is all public data. We have an open justice system. I’m not suggesting the Government compile this data. It could be a crowd sourced project.

As much as I hate to admit it, this is a good idea. Of course the crowd sourcing aspect probably wouldn't work, and one or two public servants would need to be employed to collate the data to ensure accuracy.

One aspect I would be interested in is the relationship between the colour of somebodies skin and the length of their sentence. It's been observed that Maori are often given longer sentences than Pakeha when being sentenced for similar crimes.

A prime example of this is the Beast of Blenheim case, whereby Stewart Murray Wilson wasn't given preventative detention by the sentencing judge despite a multitude of serious offending. There are a many cases from back then where Maori were given preventative detention for committing a single similar crime, and some of them are still in jail.

Seeing this entrenched racism expressed in a graph might just be the impetus needed to change the system. I bet it's not sounding like such a good idea to Farrar now.

Unlawful to arrest Assange in Ecuador's embassy

Yesterday, The Guardian reported:

At a press conference on Wednesday, Patiño released details of a letter he said was delivered through a British embassy official in Quito, the capital of the South American country.

The letter said: "You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy."

It added: "We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations."

The Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, actually states that the Secretary of State can only remove a foreign states land rights with consideration to public safety, to national security or to town and country planning. It would be far fetched indeed to argue that Assange was a threat to any of these things.

Under that act, they cannot enter and arrest people in Foreign Embassy's without the consent of the Secretary of State, and that consent must adhere to international law. The British simply do not have the lawful right to undertake what they've threatened to do. But the real kicker is this:

In the event of the severance of consular relations between two States:

(a) the receiving State shall, even in case of armed conflict, respect and protect the consular premises, together with the property of the consular post and the consular archives;


“The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the consular premises against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the consular post or impairment of its dignity.”

That means if the UK decides to sever relations with Ecuador, remove it's land rights as a sovereign nation and effectively close the embassy, Ecuador has the right to choose another state to represent and look after their embassy. It would still be unlawful for the British to enter the premises and arrest Assange, because he is not a threat to public safety.

The act does however talk about priority search provisions, but these are specific to Northern Ireland and have no bearing on this unprecedented case.

Likewise the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (PDF) simply talks about cooperation between states and how Embassy's should generally function. Nowhere does it confer power to Britain to invade another countries embassy, even in times of war:

The States Parties to the present Convention, affirming that the rules of customary international law should continue to govern questions not expressly regulated by the provisions of the present Convention, have agreed as follows: The establishment of diplomatic relations between States, and of permanent diplomatic missions, takes place by mutual consent.

In my opinion this means the British are not allowed to undertake any action at the Ecuadorian embassy without their prior consent, and if they move to close the embassy by removing its land rights, they still need the permission of the foreign state that Ecuador appoints to look after their embassy.

The British would be causing a serious indignity to Ecuador if they did storm the place, and not only breach their own laws, but international law as well. This would destroy good relations, and could be viewed as an act of war, which puts into perspective just how stupid the threats were to begin with.

16 Aug 2012

Suicide linked to economic conditions

Yesterday, Radio New Zealand reported:

Latest statistics show a small increase in suicide for adults and a very slight decrease in youth suicide.

In 2010, 522 people took their own lives, up from 510 deaths in 2009.

There was one less youth suicide, with 113 teenagers dying in 2010.

What I don't understand is why these statistics are completely different to the preliminary statistics released last year? 558 people were reported to have committed suicide in 2010/11, 36 more than the latest statistics find.

You could understand a difference of maybe one or two deaths being wrongly classified because of natural causes, accidents and homicides, but 36 deaths being wrongly classified as suicides by the Police and coroner is highly questionable.

I wouldn't like to think that the government is ensuring incorrect data was being presented to the public just to save face, but that's exactly what appears to be happening.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says the suicide rate is lower than the peak in 1998 when 577 people died by suicide.

He says the Government is developing a new four-year suicide prevention action plan, which should be released early next year.

Still at the drawing board eh! Comparing the latest questionable figures with those from 1998 is hardly something to crow about.

After an extensive amount of cost cutting under Labour, in 1991 the National government led by Jim Bolger made further cuts to welfare benefits. Even though 10 per cent of the population was unemployed, the aptly named Ruthanasia regime then further undermined the welfare state, with the introduction of fees for healthcare and tertiary education also having an adverse effect on low income earners. The result was that income inequality rose faster than in any other country in the OECD. We've recently seen a similar increase in inequality with a high level of unemployment, and therefore a comparative increase in the rate of suicide.

Some might argue that there is no relationship between economic conditions and the suicide rate... This is what the experts say (PDF):

Economic instability and insecurity increase the likelihood of immoderate and unstable life habits, disruption of basic social networks, and major life stresses − in other words, the relative lack of financial and employment security of lower socioeconomic groups is a major source of their higher mortality rates.

~ Brenner

Clearly there is a socioeconomic model of suicide... Therefore responsibility for New Zealand's increasing rate of suicide is the governments. Political policy and fiscal flexibility in particular can cause or mitigate the effects of economic cycles on suicide, that's why the suicide rate is a good indicator of how well a government is performing.

Unfortunately for New Zealand, National is completely failing in every respect to address the core reasons behind our increasing rate of suicide... Basically because they don't really care.

15 Aug 2012

Please define 'internet nuisance' Judith Collins?

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

A new tribunal to fight cyber-bullying would have the power to name and shame offenders.

It would also be able to silence cyber bullies by issuing "takedown" orders.

A new criminal offence for publishing offensive comments on Facebook and Twitter and sending hurtful text messages would also be introduced under the Law Commission proposals.

The measures are in a ministerial briefing issued today for Justice Minister Judith Collins as part of a Government crackdown on internet nuisances.

I wonder what Collins considers is an internet nuisance? Such a broad reference could include those with a strong political opinion and the tribunal might in fact be used as a tool to silence the governments critics.

Bringing such repressive measures in on the back of reducing cyber-bullying would be an easy enough thing to do. Any valid opposition to the proposal would be met with more references to people committing suicide because of text messaging, which is a terrible thing indeed, but should not be used to justify repressing people's opinion.

It's a fine line to tread and what makes me suspicious is that there are already laws in place to deal with cyber-bullying. Despite what many people believe, the internet is already covered by these laws. The problem is that the Police are simply failing to uphold them. This of course comes down to funding and prioritization of time, so perhaps an independent entity is required.

The Communications Tribunal would operate like a "mini-harassment court" specialising in digital communication, said project leader Professor John Burrows.

It could issue statutory orders including cease and desist notices or orders requiring retractions, apologies or rights of reply. It could also reveal the identity of offenders, via the media or in its decisions published online.

As an anonymous blogger who often criticizes the government, I find it somewhat concerning that National is looking at setting up an organisation that has the powers to out people without them being found guilty of any specific crime. Surely such cases where harm is proven are best judged by a court of law before any naming and shaming occurs?

The proposal appears to be centered on the ability of the complainant to prove substantial emotional distress, which is often a subjective thing specific to the complainant. Of course there will be clear cut cases, but presently it seems that such wide arching powers could be open to abuse.

14 Aug 2012

Rich and ignorant

On Sunday, the NZ Herald reported:

The Treaty priests are forever teasing and torturing the 176 Maori words that make up the three articles of the Treaty. They are greatly assisted by the Maori language being both very limited and obsolete.

Today, the NZ Herald reports:

There's been a sharp decline in language standards in recent decades, which ought to be a matter for concern. Yet ironically, it's coincided with a growing romanticising about redundant languages, illustrated in New Zealand by the waste promoting Maori.

This is not journalism, this is ranting by a couple of old white bigots! It may be that te reo is not spoken in the limited circles Rodney Hide and Bob Jones move in, however it is far from obsolete.

The Māori language has been widely used across a broad range of things in New Zealand with approximately 157,000 people who can converse in what is now an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand. However many more are able to understand the language, and I think that's what Hide and Jones are complaining about the most. Their ignorance at not knowing the names of places, flora and fauna must be a terrible burden indeed.

In fact with most government departments, agencies, offices and public libraries displaying bilingual signs, it must be a horrendous existence for stupid racist people when they are continually confronted with our multiculturalism every time they walk out the door... How sad for them.

Far from being limited, the Māori language is forever evolving as people seek to express new ideas. Māori has word-forming devices for creating new abstract words at will, and modern Māori that has been taught in universities since 1993 can be used to speak or write about anything at all.

The limited government funding to promote and develop te reo Māori ($3.2 million in baseline funding for Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori annually) has been continually outstripped by demand from those wanting to learn the language, which is a taonga guaranteed to Māori by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Clearly those who believe te reo is overfunded, limited or obsolete are ignorant of reality.

13 Aug 2012

Len Brown needs to act

Today, Auckland Now reports:

The bitterest industrial dispute in years may have fallen out of the headlines, but the distrust between workers and Ports of Auckland management continues.

Union members claim they are being belittled, demeaned and targeted, a claim Ports of Auckland management rejects as overly sensitive.

More than three months after union members returned to work after eight months on the picketline when their collective employment agreement expired, and negotiations became mired in claim and counter-claim, facilitation of the collective is being worked on alongside the Employment Relations Authority.

Maritime Union New Zealand president Garry Parsloe said unease between management and workers continued, and workers had been told not to talk to the media.

''Management is trying to bully people to get what it wants,'' he said.

''We're still trying to get a collective, the men want security, and we haven't got there.''

Parsloe said there had been a large number of disciplinary hearings since workers returned, including for talking too loudly, and making pigeon sounds.

So whatever happened to Len Brown's claim that the Senior Ports staff that leaked private information about an employee would be fired? It would seem that as soon as media attention went off the issue, the mayor has also conveniently forgotten what he promised.

It's now been exactly four months since complaints were laid with the Privacy Commissioner concerning the outrageous breach of privacy. Surely this is far too long to wait and allow those who have undertaken such despicable tactics to remain employed at the port?

In my opinion, they should be stood down pending the Privacy Commissioners findings.

11 Aug 2012

Nationals lame excuses

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Contrary to economists' expectations, the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 per cent to 6.8 per cent in the three months to June, according to official data yesterday. It had been expected to fall to 6.5 per cent.

"It's a very small, technical rise," Mr Key said. "I'm not overly concerned, but we were hoping that number would fall slightly. From what we can see, employment is rising in all parts of the country [except] Christchurch. So the Christchurch numbers are dragging it down a little bit."

Mr Key said the Government was comfortable with the data.

The government should not be comfortable with such a high level of unemployment. It's interesting that National is making the same old excuses for its failure to create jobs. This week they again blamed the floundering economy on the global recession, while most other countries that were worse hit are outperforming New Zealand, which was in a good position to weather the storm prior to National gaining power.

In my opinion, New Zealand should achieve in line with its own capability. It is our internal economy that is failing because of Nationals policies that have sucked money out of communities and the public purse... Passing the buck after nearly four years in power is simply unacceptable.

The fact that there were earthquakes in Christchurch way back in February last year is also no excuse. National had previously stated that the rebuild of Christchurch would be exactly what the economy needed; they also said the tax cuts for the wealthy would create jobs. Unfortunately their mismanagement and indifference to peoples need has ensured that there's been no proper start to the rebuild and therefore no kick start to the economy... Giving the wealthy even more money has not created jobs.

In light of the continued excuses by National, who have absolutely failed to provide the vast majority of Kiwis with a brighter future, shouldn't we look towards a political party that might ensure all New Zealanders have a chance to find proper employment? A political party that has a plan to create jobs would have my full support. Unless there are jobs, no brighter future is available... It's as simple as that.

Beneficiary bashing is a National sport

There's been a huge uproar about a speech made by Labour Leader David Shearer that he gave to Grey Power in Auckland on Monday. Many have claimed that Shearer was beneficiary bashing and that an apology is appropriate.

In my opinion there really isn't anything to apologize for, mainly because Shearers comments were very specific and should not be taken out of context. Much of the furore is the result of rightwing propagandists stirring up trouble for Labour, and many people who are outraged probably haven't even read Shearer's speech yet. Here's exactly what he said:

Last year before the election, I was chatting to a guy in my electorate who had just got home from work. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and pointed across the road to his neighbour.

He said: "see that guy over there, he's on a sickness benefit, yet he's up there painting the roof of his house. That's not bloody fair. Do you guys support him?"

From what he told me, he was right, it wasn't bloody fair, and I said so. I have little tolerance for people who don't pull their weight.

We don't like others ripping the system off - and those who get most incensed about it are people like this bloke who works hard, does what he believes is the right thing and earns close to the minimum wage.

His comment cuts to the heart of something very important to New Zealanders: fairness.

Fairness is a core feature of New Zealand. It is heavily ingrained in our DNA. I believe it stems from our history, a country built on equality, free from the old class addled system of Great Britain.

We have a social contract in New Zealand. It works like this: if you need help because of something unexpected: an accident, a loss, or if misfortune befalls you, you will be supported.

But once you're back on your own feet, we expect you to pull your weight once again and contribute back to society.

Personally I think his comments are correct if somewhat ill advised. Even the most liberal among us should concede that there are people who abuse the welfare system. The problem arises when the media and politicians disproportionately promote that abuse, causing widespread misconceptions that stigmatise all beneficiaries. The hatred this creates towards the less fortunate among us is an illness that cuts to the very heart of New Zealands dysfunction, and it's therefore dangerous for those on the leftwing of politics to even raise the issue of welfare fraud. Did Shearer's anecdote disproportionately promote the problem? I don't think so. It's the development of social media that allowed his speech to be blown out of proportion, and the mistake was in not understanding how social media works to disseminate information.

It should be said that to reduce the amount of people abusing the system is in fact beneficial to those who truly need help, and a few bad apples in this respect really do spoil the bunch. Unfortunately highlighting the bad apples and developing peoples misconceptions has given National an excuse to implement harsh welfare changes as a part of their Future Focus regime. This has adversely affected many beneficiaries and those in need of assistance. Approximately 21% of the WINZ clients who were automatically removed from welfare simply disappear from the system and are not registered as finding employment, studying or leaving the country. This does not bode well, and means the statistics on the actual unemployment level are wrong and do not correctly reflect the hardship that is occurring throughout New Zealand.

The fact Shearer chose a topic about welfare fraud over others is of concern, and I would prefer to hear more on how he plans to reduce corruption from within Work and Income, which is where the majority of welfare fraud occurs. I would like to hear about how Labour will create jobs so that everybody has a chance to work themselves out of poverty, I want to here how they will reduce the huge amount of corporate crime that is an epidemic within New Zealand's business community, and I would like to hear Shearer outline Labours policy to ensure politicians cannot abuse their positions of power with perks, backhanders and by promoting legislation that is only beneficial to their vested interests. I think those issues are of far more importance and noteworthy than the few isolated cases of welfare fraud that gain too much attention.

10 Aug 2012

Another Key PR disaster

Last Sunday, One News reported:

Prime Minister John Key expressed sadness over the deaths, saying the soldiers had paid the "highest price".

"My thoughts are with the family and friends of the two brave soldiers killed and also with the families and friends of those injured."

Then on Monday, the Dominion Post reported:

"They don't have a lot of family. Neither of them are married. One has a partner, but the partner's also part of the New Zealand Defence Force and actually is overseas.

"The other guy doesn't have a lot of family at all in New Zealand,’’ he told Radio Live.

Yesterday, 3 News reported:

Prime Minister John Key won't be attending Saturday's military service for the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan because he will be in the United States watching his son play baseball.

Max Key is a member of the under-17 team representing New Zealand at the Senior Little League World Series in Maine and Mr Key is leaving on Thursday night.

Today, the NZ Herald reports:

"As far as I'm aware, the Hungarians don't go out at night. Not in Afghanistan anyway - they might in Budapest," he said.

On Tuesday, the Hungarian Defence Ministry first expressed its condolences for the loss of Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone.

But in a strongly worded statement, it said accusations Mr Key had made about Hungary's PRT were not "appropriate". His comments "lack the spirit of comradeship and union that we would like to preserve", the ministry said in a translation supplied to the Herald by Hungarian news media.

John Key has shown that he doesn't regard the deaths of Lance corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone as being important, he has insulted their loved ones by commenting that the deaths were less significant because the men don't have large families, and he has insulted another country and unfairly placed responsibility for the soldiers deaths on their shoulders.

This is not the sign of a competent leader; it's a sign of an uncaring and ignorant buffoon!

Key has rubbed salt into the open wound of the family's loss... Could this be because some family members diplomatically expressed an anti war sentiment, which was quickly brushed under the carpet by our mainstream media? Surely the Prime minister irrespective of their political opinions should respect their loss and conduct himself accordingly.

But what reason other than Keys stupidity is there for insulting Hungary? Without his scriptwriters giving him the right things to say, Key is an ill-informed and therefore somewhat dangerous leader. His lack of international diplomacy has been a complete PR disaster, and putting a boys baseball game in America ahead of respecting our fallen soldiers is entirely unacceptable and a huge insult to an already demoralized defense force.

When will New Zealand wake up to the incompetence of Nationals leadership?

9 Aug 2012

National gets a big fat F

Government puts profit before peoples health

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The multibillion-pound pharmaceutical industry has spent the last decade developing new drugs which have produced little benefit and caused considerable harm, experts say.

The claim that there is an "innovation crisis" in pharmaceuticals because of the difficulty and expense of discovering new drugs is a myth fostered by an industry whose chief focus is on marketing, they add.

Counter to drug industry claims that the pipeline of new drugs is running dry, the number of new drugs being licensed each year has remained at between 15 and 25. But most involve minor tweaks to existing drugs, designed to grab a slice of an existing market rather than offering genuine therapeutic innovation.

Independent reviews suggest 85 to 90 per cent provide little benefit over existing treatments with some, such as Vioxx, the painkiller, and Avandia, the diabetes drug, causing serious side effects which led to their withdrawal in Europe.


"This is the real innovation crisis: pharmaceutical research and development turns out mostly minor variations on existing drugs and most new drugs are not superior on clinical measures. [They] have also produced an epidemic of serious adverse reactions that have added to national healthcare costs," they say.

The other problem here is that without adequate generic drugs, ensuring people are medicated properly becomes a lot more expensive. Drug companies would of course like to corner the market and eliminate competition by ensuring generic drugs have more hurdles to pass through before being approved for general public use. However the article goes on to say:

Researchers from the London School of Economics in Britain argue that drug manufacturers should be made to demonstrate their products are superior to existing treatments before being granted a licence, rather than, as now, superior only to a placebo.

Superior to a placebo means new generic drugs only have to show a slight positive effect, meaning that approval methods are inadequate, which gives rise to unfortunate events like this one where a young woman died of side effects from a cancer vaccination.

The problem lies with the licensing system on new drugs and the patenting system on existing drugs. The patenting system is inhibiting new developments by companies that don't own rights and the licensing system is ensuring cheaper generic drugs often have little therapeutic value. Those caught in the middle of this dysfunctional dichotomy are governments and the consumer.

Governments these days are looking to reduce costs by favouring generic drugs, which have been shown to be dangerous on numerous occasions. As the article points out, this adds considerably to national health costs by increasing recovery times and creating secondary health problems from side effects. It could be that the additional costs caused by inferior drugs are more than the initial savings the government makes.

The real meat in the sandwich though is the consumer, who has to pay extra for prescription fees for existing drugs that are known to work, or run the risk of using a generic drug that is likely to not work as well and/or have increased adverse side effects. As usual it will be the poor and minority groups who are adversely effected the most. Even before the increase in part charges from $3 to $5 per script, 14% of Māori do not pick up prescriptions because of the cost.

How big is the problem you might ask... There's already been thirty drugs that have been recalled by the US Food and Drug Administration this year, which is a 7% increase on 2011. The problem is getting worse not better. Current government policy to increase user pays and further rely on unsafe generic drugs will increase the numbers of poor people not being medicated properly. llness reducing productivity will undoubtedly undermine any economic recovery National hopes to have while they're still in power.

8 Aug 2012

Herald editor backs up shonkey legislation

I'm getting used to the NZ Herald editorials being bent towards Nationals rightwing policy direction... In fact they've been completely devoid of objectivity and journalistic integrity lately.

Today, the biased offering from Tim Murphy is no exception:

The deep sea drilling required to reach those deposits is no longer discouraging the world's prospectors, and New Zealand needs to attract their interest. At the same time, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that set up the exclusive economic zones, requires the countries with jurisdiction to protect the marine environment. The Government has a bill before Parliament that aims to balance economic and environmental considerations in the 200-mile zone. It is proving highly contentious.


The Government gave little ground in the select committee, but it appears willing to give some now. The Environment Minister, Amy Adams, told a conference of the Environmental Defence Society in Auckland this week that the bill's purpose would be amended to more closely resemble the Resource Management Act which applies out to the 12-mile territorial limit. And proposed penalties for marine pollution would be raised from $600,000 to $10 million.

Here in little old New Zealand we don't have the advantage of neighbors with the required equipment to help in the event of a large scale oil spill, and we don't have this equipment ourselves. It would take months before another oil rig arrived to drill a relief well for instance, and even if it was successful, a huge amount of damage would already have been done.

It should also be noted that increasing the fine to $10 million is window dressing at its worst and will go nowhere near paying for continued remediation work in the event of a large oil spill. The relatively small MV Rena disaster is estimated to have cost $130 million, and the Deepwater Horizon disaster cost $41.3 billion according to BP.

Being that oil and gas companies would pay only a fraction of the cleanup cost even under the proposed changes, they have little reason to play it safe... Cutting corners maximizes profits after all and why should they care when almost all of the risk is socialized.

Critics are reserving judgment until they see the fine print of these amendments, but they seem unlikely to be satisfied. They constantly invoke the accident in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago and the oil spill from the Rena in the Bay of Plenty last year as reasons to oppose all undersea drilling, and note the basins of our submarine continent are 3000m to 4000m deep, twice the depth of the Gulf of Mexico.

I don't see many people reserving judgement on Nationals promotion of their secretive deep sea oil exploration agenda, which is largely being funded by the taxpayer. People who oppose deep sea oil drilling don't "invoke" the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico... They understand the horrendous reality of that disaster, which should be considered with all the soberness the NZ Herald editor is obviously lacking.

The effects on the Gulf of Mexico are ongoing, with Dolphins and other sea life continuing to die in unprecedented numbers and various scientific studies showing changes to animals on a genetic and reproductive level. You might expect the NZ Herald editor to be well read on these topics before writing about them, at least enough to know that people living in the effected areas are still experiencing serious adverse health effects. Ignorance is bliss I suppose.

The basins are so deep that environmentalists are not sure what marine life is down there to protect. The present wording of the bill would seem adequate in that respect. When applications for seabed drilling come to the Environmental Protection Authority it would have to take into account the protection of "biological diversity and integrity of marine species, ecosystems and processes".

Reading between the lines, one gets the impression Tim Murphy is arguing that because the species in deep waters are unknown, then who cares. As long as the government effectively spins its propaganda about job creation and economic benefits, which are in reality minor, while many MPs invest in oil and gas companies themselves, the environment will continue to play second fiddle to the greed motive.

There will be no so-called balance, because National MPs are blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes. Like propagandist Tim Murphy, they don't even consider such policy making a contribution to anthropomorphic climate change, which isn't even mentioned in the article once, mainly because National, many of their supporters and it would seem the Herald editor, are a bunch of climate change deniers.

When he cites the Rena experience, though, he may find the public less fearful. That "environmental catastrophe" turned out to be fairly quickly cleaned up. It is doubtful that a spill much further out to sea would do more damage to our nearest coast.

Most of the oil from the Rena disaster wasn't cleaned up; bombarding it with cancer causing CoreExit hid it under the ocean. I guess that fits nicely with the out of sight out of mind argument from the idiot editor.

Newsflash! What you can't see can hurt you and the Bay of Plenty is still experiencing animal deaths that are likely attributable to the Rena disaster. There has been no comprehensive scientific study to show that the area is free from adverse effects, which because of the large amounts of undisclosed toxic chemicals that were onboard, are still largely unknown.

While the UN convention made environmental protection obligatory it cannot have intended that protection would preclude economic exploitation. It did call the zones it created "exclusive economic zones". If mining, fishing, tourism and cable laying are going to be possible, there will have to be permissible risk. The bill must not lose its balance.

Permissible risk would take into consideration our cleanup capability in the event of a worse case scenario... It would take into account the increased reliance on petroleum products contributing to climate change, which puts at risk future generations. It would consider the risk to our productive industries in the event of an oil spill and the risk to our clean and green branding.

New Zealand has no capability to deal with even a moderately sized oil spill... Therefore there is no permissible risk with deep-sea oil drilling. There is no feasible way to weigh economic gains against potential and probable environmental destruction and its lasting effects... Therefore deep sea oil drilling should simply not be on the agenda.

6 Aug 2012

Soldiers don't have a lot of family

Today, the Dominion Post reported:

Mr Key this morning said he would contact their families.

"They don't have a lot of family. Neither of them are married. One has a partner, but the partner's also part of the New Zealand Defence Force and actually is overseas.

"The other guy doesn't have a lot of family at all in New Zealand,’’ he told Radio Live.

What a condescending prick! So what if the soldier's who died serving their country don't have many family members, they obviously have parents... I wonder how they feel about the prime minister trying to diminish their loss?

National also announced today that they wouldn't be changing the date to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, despite overwhelming public opposition to New Zealand being involved. Here was I thinking the government was meant to represent the people.

5 Aug 2012

More Kiwis die in a pointless war

Today, National reported:

It is with great sadness that Prime Minister John Key has learned of the death of two New Zealand soldiers serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, Afghanistan. 
The soldiers were killed during an encounter with insurgents, which began at about 7:00pm last night (NZ time) after they went to the aid of local security forces under attack. 
Two local security personnel were also killed during the attack. 
Another six New Zealand Defence Force personnel, 10 local security personnel, and one civilian were also injured. 
"This brings the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to seven," Mr Key says.

It surprises me that the government is still calling those serving in Afghanistan a reconstruction team... Even One News tonight questioned the role our New Zealand soldiers are playing, with John Keys showing little real remorse for those lost.

After a poll in August last year showed a vast majority of Kiwis wanted our SAS to return home, that's exactly what happened. Most would have thought this was an end to our soldiers being involved in combat missions, but unfortunately that's not the case, and the so called reconstruction team is undertaking full combat maneuvers in conjunction with other invading and local forces.

This is an unjust war that the instigator is now unwilling to continue, and New Zealand should have no further involvement. How many more deaths will it take before the government actually listens to what the public wants?

2 Aug 2012

Name suppression laws outdated

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Police investigating a professional man for alleged sexual grooming of children want his identity revealed in case other girls have been targeted.
The Auckland man, who works with children, appeared in the Pukekohe District Court to face three criminal charges of grooming for sex, unlawful sexual connection with a child aged between 12 and 16, and offering to supply methamphetamine.

The 43-year-old, who made an urgent application to keep his name and occupation secret after being approached by the Herald on Monday, asked for the interim suppression order to continue.

Defence lawyer Simon Lance asked Judge Sharon McAuslan for more time to prepare evidence in support of the suppression application, which would be made on the grounds of extreme hardship.

Mr Lance, acting on behalf of colleague Paul Wicks, said lifting suppression would have a negative impact on the man's job prospects.

"Even if he is acquitted, publication of his name will have a tainting effect in the wider profession."

It's not just speculation by the Police that there could be other victims... Sexual predators often have many victims who for reasons such as shame, intimidation and manipulation, do not come forward.

It should be mandatory in such cases that the accused is named so that the Police can conduct a full investigation without hindrance. Secrecy after all is what the perpetrator relies on to conduct his crime.

If there is some sort of discrimination in the event of the man being named and then acquitted, he has grounds to make a formal complaint. But until some tainting effect in the wider profession is proven, such claims are mere speculation.

The victims rights in such cases is paramount.