Entries in politics (128)

Sunday
Apr132008

Labour, petty, pathetic

look at this to see how petty and pathetic the Labour party have become as they head towards electoral oblivion

or is it simply that these 1970s era feminists simply can't handle that John Key is a man?

3 of these 4 women are cabinet ministers - is that the calibre and depth of Labour's "leadership"?

note, I am aware Moana Mackey was born in the 1970s, but her mother was a 1970s era feminist who has quite clearly impacted her daughter's beliefs and behaviours

Update, Tue-15-Mar, Whaleoil has it on Youtube

Sunday
Apr132008

Winston Peters sold Auckland Airport, in 1998!

note to 3 News - Winston Peters sold Auckland Airport - in 1998! ... and at the time he declared it "a triumph"

so, it is highly misleading to show footage of Auckland Airport in the background while reporting in tonight's news that National will not be selling State Owned Enterprises - the government hasn't owned Auckland Airport for 10 years!

Monday
Apr072008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week marked 40 years since the untimely death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the weekend I took the opportunity to enjoy some of his finest oratory.

He died when I was only a couple months old. As an adult I have developed a love of public speaking, particularly in a church context, and also political speech. Martin Luther King Jr brought all three together, and is one of my heroes.

There is, of course, his most famous "I Have A Dream" speech.

His final speech - one of the finest motivational social justice sermons of all time - is on YouTube in two parts. Here is the final 1:17 segment .

Monday
Apr072008

more racism from Winston's NZ First

every election year since 1996 Winston Peters and his NZ First team have cyncially trotted out their hypocritical racist anti-asian rantings

even Philip Burdon, one of Winston's closest friends, is now joining us in deploring them

thanks to NZ Herald for the research, and hat tips to David Farrar and The Hive for pointing them out

Wednesday
Apr022008

nagging voice of a nation's conscience?

today the NZ Herald carries a much more reasoned response to the NZCCSS call for greater public awareness of issues of social justice and compassion in the form of a column by Tapu Misa wherein she asks the question "What do we expect from the church and its leaders? Moral leadership? Social conscience? Good works? Or just to shut up and go away?" - I recommend reading the full column

Tuesday
Apr012008

Letter to Editor of NZ Herald

my letter to the Editor of the NZ Herald as published in today's print edition in response to their reporting of NZCCSS's Call For Greater Public Awareness of Issues of Social Justice and Compassion

you can submit Letters to the Editor online

as the NZ Herald do not publish them online, even if they publish them in their print edition, here is the text of my letter (as edited by them):

"A Herald article and editorial misconstrued what the Council of Christian Social Services is seeking. It is not calling for the restoration of the benefit rates of 1991.

The call for more action was a challenge to all New Zealanders to champion policies that will use our nation's prosperity to eliminate poverty; support families and communities to nurture and protect children; provide older people with a range of choices for their homes, support and lifestyle; enable access to good, affordable housing for everyone; and support community-based solutions to social issues.

This is not a call for a specific policy, like reinstating benefits to 1991 levels. Rather, it is an election-year call for people to take into account the effect of party policies.

And it gives parties a framework for being very specific about how their policies are designed to improve the lives of people, particularly the most vulnerable.

Gavin Knight, Wellington"

Monday
Mar312008

Update on NZCCSS's Call For Greater Public Awareness of Issues of Social Justice and Compassion

The media and blogosphere have continued the debate today on NZCCSS's call for greater public awareness of issues of social justice and compassion - which I wrote about yesterday to correct the NZ Herald's serious misrepresentation.

This morning's NZ Herald editorial continued their misrepresentation from Friday re it supposedly being a call for reinstatement of 1991 benefit levels, and went on further to assert: "The churches have been silent on these social issues for too long, and now they have been silent on their preferred political solutions for too long - the duration of Labour's policy leadership. Their return to the fray at this stage can be taken only as an attempt to keep Labour in power and, should that fail, to prepare for a renewed campaign against a National government."

TV3 and Radio NZ have reported in line with the NZCCSS releases - although the Radio NZ report is no longer online but does show up in a Google News search.

NZ's remaining major daily newspapers (found online at Stuff) don't seem to have any mention of the NZCCSS releases at all - which is disappointing as they could have at least reported what NZCCSS were saying! Especially surprising given the TV3 report carries NZPA accreditation so was readily available to them too.

So, it would seem the NZ Herald is alone in its media campaign on this.

David (KiwiBlog) picked up on the Herald editorial. He also took the opportunity to have a diversionary pot-shot based on his perception of the personal faith of church leaders, which is what most commenters on his post have responded to. However, he did kind of concede that the NZ Herald has misrepresented Ross and the NZCCSS.

Cameron (Whale Oil blog) also picked up on the Herald's editorial, and uses it as an opportunity to challenge the churches' use of their asset base. Although you'll see from the conversation I had with him in his comments section that he deliberately excluded The Salvation Army from those comments.

Craig Young says on Gay NZ blog "It isn’t often that I’ve had cause to write a supportive blog about the activities of religious organisations, but I really must applaud the actions of the New Zealand Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Salvation Army church leaders who have reaffirmed their commitment to fighting poverty, homelessness and economic inequality" - even though he bases some of his comments on the Herald's misreporting in terms of benefit levels.

I challenged David in the comments section of his post: "the herald’s also wrong in their statement that the churches have been silent since the hikoi of hope, at least as far as the salvation army is concerned ... check out the output of their social policy research unit formed a couple years ago which has produced a number of reports pointing to serious failures in government policy (yes, labour government) ... and my review of their recent “State of the Nation Report” which was particularly critical of increases in social policy spending not producing improvements in social statistics highlights that not all church leaders are lefty toadies".

Ironically, David Farrar also posted today on the need for fact checking! - stating that "While not perfect, [the Fact Check website] does a very good job in fairly scrutinising claims and measuring them against the facts. We could do with a local version. And they defend and criticise all sides."

Disclaimer: I am a life long local church member of The Salvation Army (which is a member of NZCCSS) and Ross Kendrew (NZCCSS President) is a personal friend and extended family member.

Sunday
Mar302008

NZCCSS re Public Awareness of Issues of Social Justice and Compassion

On Friday the leaders of the churches who comprise the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services "announced their support for the launch of a new programme to raise public awareness of issues of social justice and compassion in Aotearoa New Zealand" and their associated Justice and Compassion website.

I first found out about this via David Farrar's post on KiwiBlog where he was reacting to a NZ Herald article.

I was very surprised to see that the Herald was playing this as a "call to action to politicians to restore benefit rates that were cut 17 years ago". I have not heard anything like that coming out of the christian circles in which I mix. This includes my friendship with Ross Kendrew (NZCCSS President) - whom I see almost weekly and with whom I regularly discuss public policy issues.

I was even more surprised once I had read the actual releases by NZCCSS which are available on their website as a statement by NZCCSS itself and a statement by the leaders of the member churches.

Over the weekend I have discussed this with Ross and he assures me that Friday's announcements are not a call to restore the benefit rates of 1991, and that NZCCSS are very disappointed that the Herald decided to take that angle.

The 1991 benefit cuts were discussed with the Herald reporter, but simply as a contextual comment. Surely there is no dispute that beneficiaries struggle on today's benefit levels - which were last set (in 'inflation adjusted' terms) in 1991. Which was the point being made by Ross.

Likewise, lower paid workers also struggle on today's incomes. The point also being made by Ross when he gave the example of the working family to whom he is currently giving budget advice. In fact, as an aside and as Colin James pointed out (and I wrote about recently) even middle income NZers are struggling.

To quote from the actual NZCCSS releases, the point being made is:

The call for more action is a challenge to all New Zealanders, including all public office holders and political candidates, to champion policies that will:
* utilise our nation’s prosperity to eliminate poverty;
* support families and communities to nurture and protect our children;
* provide older people with a range of choices for their homes, support and lifestyle;
* enable access to good, affordable housing for everyone;
* support community-based solutions to social issues in the community.
As I read it this is an election year call for NZers to take into account how political party policies will affect the people of NZ. And to give political parties a framework for being very specific with how their policies are designed to improve the lives of NZers - particularly the most vulnerable.

I also see it as a continuation of The Salvation Army's own recent call that in "addressing this important issue of our social priorities, we need perhaps to focus on two quite compelling moral questions – what priority have we given to families and to the poor? In particular how have our personal behaviours and public policies nurtured family life and the ability of families to care for themselves?" - which I wrote about in February.

I can think of policies of most NZ political parties that could be articulated in the above terms. I look forward to the parties themselves advocating their policies within the NZCCSS framework.

The NZCCSS is well placed to make this call to action, as through "500 social service delivery sites in their networks throughout New Zealand [its] members deliver a wide range of services that cover such areas as child and family services, services for older people, foodbank and emergency services, housing, budgeting, disability, addictions, community development and employment services.". This gives it real world experience of the very real issues NZers are facing.

Surely it is therefore appropriate that the NZCCSS call on political parties and voters to advocate and support policies that address the challenges NZers live with every day?

Disclaimer: I am a life long local church member of The Salvation Army (which is a member of NZCCSS) and Ross Kendrew (NZCCSS President) is a personal friend and extended family member.

Sunday
Mar302008

our muted official response to the current situation in Tibet troubles me

I am well aware that the issues surrounding Tibet are complex - both in a current sense, and in an historical sense ... I am also aware that there is fault on both sides to some degree ... I abhor the oppression of the Tibetan locals by the Chinese government ... but equally I abhor the racially motivated attacks by Tibetan locals on Chinese people living in Tibet

I also understand 'realpolitik' and that New Zealand as a small country has little ability to influence China ... which is a large country that like it or not is becoming increasingly influential and powerful on the world stage

however, our muted official response to the current situation in Tibet troubles me ... and I wonder if we would be so muted if we weren't about to sign a free trade agreement with China

so I point poignantly to Raybon Khan's satirical piece in today's Sunday Star Times

"I'm not an advocate for Tibetan independence. I know nothing about Tibet's education system, public transport, hospital waiting lists, etc. I don't know if a monk-ocracy is a good idea.

...

But let's agree on a fact. China is a repressive country without free expression. The Chinese government censors news from its people. They censor the internet. And the foreign media can't report from within. Much the way I don't think the North Korean government should run North Korea, I believe China shouldn't run Tibet. Also, I don't think the Chinese government should run Guangzhou or Beijing or Tiananmen Square. Maybe I'm just hung up on that whole voting thing. Shooting people for expressing dissent, is the problem. It's not just a domestic matter for China.

Pretend the Chinese government was shooting pandas. Imagine the outcry. But monks, well. They're not endangered.

And we know deep down why we're being quiet. For the free trade agreement. With a country that isn't free. For the moola. Good grief. We close shops at Easter and prosecute the shops that open for the sake of some execution 2000 years ago. Yet, while people are being executed right now, we shut up about it because we want to open shop with China."

Thursday
Mar272008

Peter Dunne says United Future is paying it back

yesterday I wrote another challenge to United Future and NZ First to pay back fully the public money the Auditor-General found they spent illegitimately on electioneering during the 2005 election ... I also emailed Peter Dunne and Winston Peters for their response ... so far Peter Dunne has responded, but Winston has not

firstly, a correction, United Future owed approximately $63,000, not the $150,000 I stated yesterday ... my apologies for this error

Peter's response is "to date, over half [of the approximately $63,000] has been repaid, and we are making regular payments to the Parliamentary Service to clear the balance as soon as possible"

this is good news ... my understanding was that United Future had made an initial part payment, but nothing since ... we look forward to confirmation they have fully repaid the remaining balance

Wednesday
Mar262008

Pay It Back - Winston, and Peter

I was going to write about this yesterday, but by coincidence David Farrar beat me to it!

United Future (led by Peter Dunne, my local MP) has still not fully paid back the approximately $150,000 $63,000 of public money the Auditor-General found they spent illegitimately on electioneering during the 2005 election ... apparently they have paid back approximately $100,000 some but there is approximately $50,000 some still to pay

and, NZ First (Winston Peters) have not yet paid back a cent of the more than $150,000 they owe

I have written to both Winston and Peter to get their response on when they will 'pay it back' and will publish their responses

Correction and Update Thu-27-Mar: United Future owed approximately $63,000 not $150,000 ... my apologies for this error ... and, Peter has responded to my email

Monday
Mar172008

useful community demographic data

at my church (SAJ) we have regularly used census data to better understand our immediate community of Johnsonville and its surrounding suburbs

I remember pouring over census data in 1992/3 as part of producing a scoping report into whether a new church in our suburb would be a goer ... that report contributed to the decision to start our church in 1995 ... and we have regularly looked at census data since then ... particularly when starting or reviewing a ministry which impacts our community directly

so, the recent release by the Parliamentary Library of summarised census data for each electorate is a very useful resource ... obviously for politicians seeking election later this year, but also for community groups (like our church) and anyone else who needs to understand their community

in our case the Ohariu electorate is the most applicable as Johnsonville and its surrounding suburbs comprise approximately half of that electorate

I commend this resource to anyone who needs to understand their community better

hat tip David Farrar

Saturday
Mar152008

Labour's attitude to family and women

there was a great column by Linley Boniface in the Dominion Post last week with the opening line

"any old-school feminists who are still under the impression that men are the enemy should immediately read the venomous outburst from Sue Moroney, chairwoman of the Labour Women MPs' Caucus"
she goes on to say
"Labour's critics are always accusing it of being anti-family, but this is the first time I've ever thought they were right"

Wednesday
Mar122008

who gets hurt when the economy slips?

Colin James' column in the NZ Herald ties the question "who gets hurt when the economy slips?" to the increasingly pressing need for tax cuts here in NZ

Cullen and Labour would have you believe that unless they do them tax cuts are only about lining the pockets of the rich (whom we have very few of anyway) ... however, our high tax economy is punishing those who can least afford it ... from the poor (who we have too many of) through to the middle classes (who make up the vast majority of NZers)

in particular I like this line

"Michael Cullen's immediate conundrum is that his hoarding of government finances (until 2005) didn't abolish debt. It privatised it."
the opening couple paragraphs are pretty good too
"A slowdown hurts the poor first. No one much notices, except food banks, which for some time have been reporting rising demand, and budget advice services, helping people trapped in loan-shark debt and/or skewered by rising prices for essentials.

The next to be hurt are those seduced by white-shoe finance companies and the grubby likes of Blue Chip. Savings, often the difference between getting by and scrimping, evaporate.

Now the hurt is reaching middling people. They hurt in different ways and amounts, depending on their savings, debt and investment histories (including in property), when they changed houses last, their life cycle stage (children or not, for example, in stable units or recently separated) and their job and income prospects.

The middling people's hurt makes fast tax cuts politically mandatory. Tax cuts are a quick fix to make households' wages and salaries go further when must-have items like fuel and food get dearer."

I took the quoted question "Who gets hurt when the economy slips?" from the email version of Colin's column which Colin himself sends, but it seems to have been edited out of the online version published by the NZ Herald

Tuesday
Mar112008

Tumeke Ranking decreases to #76

my Tumeke! ranking has decreased in the last month from #73 to #76 in their ranking of New Zealand political and news blogs

Sunday
Mar092008

the return of Muldoon via Cullen

today's Sunday Star Times quotes Chris Trotter "the use of an order-in-council to rewrite the law harked back to the 1980s. It would have been just another day under Rob Muldoon, but using the governor-general and most of the cabinet to rewrite the rules is not something we are used to any more."

and Brian Gaynor writes in the NZ Herald "Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen's decision to effectively stymie the partial takeover offer for Auckland International Airport is an unwanted reminder of the meddling policies of former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon"

ouch, being compared to Sir Robert Muldoon is possibly the worst insult for a modern NZ politician! ... "Muldoon remains one of the most complex, fascinating, and polarising figures in New Zealand history. He divided people into camps of those who loved him and those who hated him; very few people, except those born after his fall, remained neutral. To his enemies, 'Piggy' Muldoon was a dictatorial Prime Minister who nearly destroyed both New Zealand's economy and New Zealand society through his arrogance."

but I'm wondering why John Key couldn't have been more direct and eloquent in his criticism of Cullen's meddling ... which it is obvious was not driven by real concern for the national interest but was done more for political reasons ... the media has certainly held Key to account for his poor response

photo courtesy Sunday Star Times

Saturday
Mar082008

ignorance, stupidity or hypocrisy?

in late 2007 Labour passed the Electoral Finance Act, which I have written about numerous times

now it would seem Labour are not complying with their own Act!

recently Labour has been publishing electoral material that it would seem is not correctly authorised in line with the Act they passed only a few months ago ... namely by listing the full address of the place where the promoter usually lives

during Question Time on Thursday Trevor Mallard asserted that he had "been advised that section 4(1)(b) of the Act indicates that a body corporate address can be appropriate"

however as David Farrar explains in a detailed analysis of the Act's effect on the electoral material in question it is the address of the promoter that matters, not the address of the Labour Party itself ... in which case Mike Smith's name and residential address must be listed on all electoral material Labour produces

I do not buy the line that this is an unintended consequence ... the requirement to use residential addresses was robustly debated while the Bill was going through Parliament ... so we can only assume this is an intended effect of the Act

Labour explained when the Bill was going through Parliament that one of the key provisions was that all electoral material should contain the name and address of the person authorising that material on the basis that one of the reasons the law needed to be changed was to increase transparency in regards to electoral material because some materials were published during the 2005 election under names and address that couldn't be traced to their source

amongst others Whale Oil, No Right Turn and the NZ Herald have also written about this

the NZ Herald article also says it looks like the Electoral Commission are going to be asked for a ruling

I ask why is Labour not clearly complying with their own Act?

is it ignorance, stupidity or hypocrisy?

Thursday
Feb282008

we're still waiting Winston, again

earlier today I wrote that we were still waiting for Winston to give full and direct answers on questions about the large donations apparently received by NZ First according to their Party President Dail Jones

it turns out he held a press conference on the matter today, but as Colin Espiner reports at Stuff "it was all good sport, but as always Peters left some questions unanswered"

Audrey Young also writes in the NZ Herald about the press conference and on first reading it would appear maybe Winston had provided answers

"No" is a pretty direct answer, but it is not a full answer

if you listen to the audio/video linked to from the NZ Herald article which is a recording of Winston's introduction to the press conference you will hear him say "this is not going to be a fishing expedition outside the electoral requirements of this country"

and that is where he is still being evasive and incomplete in his answers to the questions we the public are posing

you see his own Party President put this ball into play by making very clear comments in the middle of confusion about Owen Glenn's donations to political parties

that Winston disagrees with his own Party President means we have some questions we want answered

hiding behind the minimum disclosures required by electoral law is not enough

NZ First put the topic into play and needs to provide direct and full answers to the questions being posed

Thursday
Feb282008

we're still waiting Winston

he is back in the country but Winston is still evading giving full and direct answers on questions about the large donation apparently received by NZ First

"NZ First leader Winston Peters has emphatically denied the party received a five-figure anonymous donation in December, and says party president Dail Jones was wrong to say it had"
however, that could mean any of the other options postulated by the blogosphere and the media is the truth; eg:
* was a large donation (or donations) received?
* was it received before or after December?
* was it anonymous? (can't be if you say it wasn't Owen Glenn)
* or was it a loan?
* or was Dail Jones lying?
* but he's the Party President and should know, so his comments can't be a simple mistake, so please explain
* was the 'term deposits maturing' story true? prove it!

Winston, I repeat my call for full and direct answers on what is going on ... you have railed for years about the supposedly corrupt influence of big donors on other parties ... it is now time for you to tell us the truth, directly and fully, about how your party is funded as comments by you and your colleagues to date lead us to believe it is not all above board

and, when are you going to pay back (to the taxpayer!) the more than $150,000 the Auditor-General found you spent illegitimately on the 2005 election?

Wednesday
Feb272008

Oliver Driver holds Helen Clark to account

Tumeke has a great record of how Oliver Driver held Helen Clark to account on Alt TV (Sky channel 65) yesterday

"Driver was undeterred. He asked it straight, he let her finish without having to interrupt, and kept a thoroughly neutral pose. Unlike the John Key interview of the previous fortnight there was no rapport, no ease, no connexion. I don't think she knew how to react to his calm and relaxed delivery of often harshly couched criticism from a non-right wing/mainstream media perspective."