The Jackal: 2017

17 Aug 2017

Just how bad is the Aussie NZ relationship?

As the finger wagging continues both here and over the ditch about Australian MP Barnaby Joyce being outed as a New Zealand citizen (oh the horror!) it's probably work pointing out just how bad our political relationship with our closest allies and neighbours has actually become.

Here's The Project's Jesse Mulligan summing up the Trans-Tasman relationship:

What I find most strange about all this is that the NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gerry Brownlee, apparently failed to inform the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, about the top secret information concerning a Liberal party MP being in breach of the Australian constitution. Under their rules he can no longer remain in Parliament.

Weirdly enough, Bishop and Brownlee were both in Fiji at a meeting of Pacific Forum foreign ministers together (after Brownlee had been briefed about Barnaby's dual citizenship), so either the right wing government's of both countries view each other with complete disdain or somebody is telling porkies!

16 Aug 2017

National fails miserably on housing

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very happy with all the homeless people wandering the streets and sleeping rough in the cold, some of whom are dying on park benches. But instead of blaming the victims, I think we need to look at the root cause of homelessness, being the government’s abject failure to properly account for the need to increase social housing.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Salvation Army report calls for increased social housing building programme

A new report authored by the Army's senior policy advisor Alan Johnson states 2000-2500 social houses need to be built around the country each year for the next decade.

That figure is the minimum needed to fix a situation that has "left Kiwi families ... in unsanitary, unsafe and unhealthy living conditions", it says.

Of course the National led government isn’t coming anywhere near that figure.

Social housing is "underfunded" and will be a "massive challenge" to address, he says.

"What we are saying is people are being displaced by other people coming into Auckland.

Immigration at current levels is clearly unsustainable.

The report says the Government's social housing building programme has allocated $36 million a year for the next four years.

That spending will provide just 90 additional houses a year at most, it says.

2000-2500 is a lot of houses to build each year and would be difficult to achieve even with government support. But only building 90 houses is simply a joke! Why even bother?

Obviously National needs some sort of excuse to show they acknowledge that the housing crisis exists, because they can no longer ignore it. The problem is they simply don’t care because it's kept house prices over-inflated and added to their false economy.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

20,000 homes needed to stop relentless rise of homelessness

Johnson said an analysis of Government statistics showed an "enduring number of people living on working-age welfare benefits" and those with limited means aged 65-plus that would only see more people in need of a home.

Data obtained through the Official Information Act showed the number of people on the social housing register had almost doubled in the past decade, and 5353 were on the Ministry of Social Development list in June this year, up from 2737 in the 2006-07 financial year.

Meanwhile the number of houses in HNZ stock had declined by 4582 across the same time period - from 67,063 in the 2007-08 year, to 62,481 in March this year.

Keep in mind that the National led government brought in measures to make even getting onto the social housing register more difficult. But that's not National's only failure concerning New Zealand's housing crisis. They're also ignoring the social pressures increased migration cause.

On Saturday, Stuff reported:

Record migration sees New Zealand population record largest ever increase

Booming migration means New Zealand's population has seen the biggest increase of all time.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand on Friday showed the population grew by 97,300 in the year to June 30, to 4.69 million.

"This is the largest annual increase ever," Statistics New Zealand said.

It appears that for every ten new migrants, one person is displaced from a house in New Zealand. As well as problems with overcrowding, this has meant a huge increase in homelessness, where there are now an estimated 40,000 Kiwis with no fixed abode, which is the worst rate in the OECD.

Another driver of the housing crisis is also being ignored by the National led government. Foreign investment, with capital gains providing a large incentive for speculation, has hindered the ability of Kiwis to buy their first home because they are being priced out of the market.

Last month, Newshub reported:

Housing capital gains are soaring in New Zealand

Analysis by Newshub has revealed just how much the housing market has risen since the last election.

The median capital gain for a New Zealand home in that time is just over $65,000. But that figure gets much, much higher when zooming into certain areas.

The Labour party has proposed a number of good measures that will tackle overseas speculators and help increase the rate of home ownership in New Zealand… important because strong communities are founded on families having a vested interest in their local areas.

This is undoubtedly a far better driver for the economy than having foreign speculators investing in housing with the expectation that Kiwis will one day be able to pay overinflated prices, especially when you compare the cost of living with incomes.

It's not just new housing and affordability that is the problems though. New Zealand's existing housing stock is badly dilapidated, particularly in the rental market.

On Thursday, Radio NZ reported:

Doctors demand action on NZ's unhealthy housing

Thousands of children are being re-admitted to hospital every year because of poor living conditions, a child health specialist says.

In a 50-page paper released today, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has called on politicians to do more to address the causes of health inequity in New Zealand.

Too many people were living in cold, mouldy and over-crowded homes and it was ruining the health of children in particular, the college said.

The National party has utterly failed to develop policy that would remedy the housing crisis. For them, the large increase in preventable diseases and homelessness are acceptable consequences of the capital gains they and their property speculator mates are enjoying. However that gravy train looks set to end.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Focus: NZ's housing bubble officially deflating

Figures released by Westpac show New Zealand's housing market is deflating as calls grow for LVRs to be relaxed

Unfortunately most of the analysis by market insiders doesn’t account for the actual amount of foreign speculation in the property market, because the government has been careful not to release such figures. Speculators simply won’t stick around if there are no longer large capital gains to be made, because they can make more money in other investments.

The housing market cannot continue to be propped up by foreign speculators and real estate agents misrepresenting the potential of their listings. It's a false economy that can either be systematically deflated though government intervention or crash along with the neoliberal dream that free-market ideology actually works in New Zealand.

The last National led government has utterly failed us on housing. It’s time to look towards Labour and the Greens for solutions that will actually work.

Barnaby Joyce - Asshole of the Week

It came as somewhat of a shock when the Australian government attacked the New Zealand Labour party and its leader Jacinda Ardern yesterday, a personally attack over the fact that their Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has dual citizenship and therefore under Australian law cannot remain in office.

They're even banging on like we aren’t all bloody related.

Rather than step down like the previous Australian MP's who hold dual citizenship, the swamp dwelling Barnaby bunyip is clinging to the lie that he didn’t know his father was a New Zealander. But if that wasn't bad enough, the Australian government is unbelievably blaming the Labor and Labour parties for their own incompetence, and using the word Kiwi to denigrate and spit tacks at us from over the ditch.

Yesterday, the Guardian reported:

Australia accuses New Zealand opposition of trying to bring down government

Australian government minister Christopher Pyne accused the ALP of being part of a conspiracy to bring down the government.

“Clearly the Labor party are involved in a conspiracy using a foreign government, in this case New Zealand, to try and bring down the Australian government,” he said.

“How many other foreign governments, or foreign political parties in other countries, has the Labor party been colluding with to try to undermine the Australian government?

If this brings down the Australian government, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Despite their accusations of treason, the Australian Liberal party trying to re-attribute blame by levelling their attacks against the opposition and the next Prime Minister of New Zealand has backfired, with the truth of the matter quickly being revealed.

Yesterday, Radio NZ reported:

Australian media enquiries led to Joyce citizenship discovery

Enquiries by Australian media - not the New Zealand Labour Party - led to Internal Affairs discovering Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is a New Zealand citizen.

Mr Joyce told the Australian Parliament he was alerted to the situation after enquiries were made by the New Zealand Labour Party to the New Zealand government.

But Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said Australian media had asked the department about Mr Joyce before Labour MP Chris Hipkins filed written questions on citizenship.

Clearly Australian journalists were simply doing their jobs.

The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, must have known this before going on the attack to try to falsely attribute blame and influence the New Zealand election... and if she didn’t she’s entirely incompetent.

In constant contact with her colleges in New Zealand eh! You've got to wonder if the Australian Liberal party colluded with the National party to try and undermine Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern. It certainly looks that way.

The real stupid thing is Barnaby Joyce thinking he can just renounce his New Zealand citizenship by making a public statement. Perhaps he thinks his father suddenly stops being a Kiwi simply through the sheer weight of his unparalleled arrogance.

Here's Channel 9's Laurie Oakes reporting:

The deluded Liberal party cannot be allowed to retain Joyce after he personally campaigned against opposition MP’s who have dual citizenship, campaigning that resulted in them stepping down.

If the Australian Liberal party thought the law shouldn't apply, they had the opportunity to move to amend the constitution when the disqualification clause was revealed. Instead they used it to leverage perfectly good politicians out of the house in an attempt to undermine the opposition.

Joyce has New Zealand citizenship and under the Australian constitution he must resign. In my opinion he should take Julie Bishop with him. There is no question of law or confusion over section 44, and by ignoring the constitution the desperate Liberal Party is in breach of Australia’s Supreme Law. There can be no other interpretation just because Barnaby is a tory.

In the mean time, because they believe the rules don’t apply to them, the dishonest Barnaby Joyce wins this week’s Asshole Award. It appears he's the first Australian to do so.

15 Aug 2017

Editors put the boot into National

There is no question that a resurgent Labour party has closed the National party out of the media limelight. What else could Bill English do but pander to his ageist supporters by proposing boot camps and spot fines for the families of wayward youth?

The National party, bereft of policy ideas, is even being criticised by the countries leading newspapers for their latest policy flop. Often the last bastion of right wing fundamentalism, the editorials often signal to voters where their allegiance should lie, and based on that who will likely become the next government.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

NZ Herald editorial: Boot camps and parent fines are 'red meat' for National

Not much new can be credibly proposed by a three-term government. National's military "boot camp" detention for young serious offenders is not even new. It is reminiscent of the party's showpiece policy on law and order when bidding for power in 2008. The policy did not come to fruition then and its revival now looks like desperation in the National camp. With all the attention on Labour's new leader, and so much discussion of policies she has announced, National will be anxious to change the subject.

Unfortunately that’s about as hard hitting as the NZ Herald ever gets against the National party. Thankfully they’re not the only widely read publication in New Zealand.

Today, Stuff reported:

Editorial: Compulsory military service as a punishment has never worked and never will

Sometimes politicians have daft ideas. The National Party is proposing to round up New Zealand's worst young criminals and train them to think and act like soldiers.

The overwhelming weight of research into military-styled corrections programmes shows that they don't reduce reoffending rates. So, the end result of the proposed scheme will probably be fighting-fit offenders with a set of new skills they can use to further their lives of crime.

Instead of cutting through the Jacinda effect, National’s ill-advised policy has fallen well short of the mark, and will soon be hurriedly buried like so many of their other lame duck policy ideas.

It’s likely that the dog whistle boot camp proposal was reheated because of the insulated nature of politics in New Zealand. National are perhaps the worst offenders when it comes to being shut off from reality. In the real world youth are actual people who shouldn’t be discriminated against just because they’re an easy non-voting target.

National's policy hardly Christian

It’s often amazing to see the ill-conceived political arguments that make it to print in New Zealand sometimes. Perhaps one of the least canvassed areas of voting preference is that of religious beliefs, and where those beliefs coincide with a political party.

It’s no secret that the unelected PM Bill English is a practicing Roman Catholic. He was recently on the news with a lovely choir, however that’s about as far as his promotion of Christianity goes within mainstream media.

But what about the people who will vote for a political party based on religious beliefs… what do they have to say about who best promotes Christianity?

On Saturday, the Gisbourne Herald reported:

Left-wing parties anti-God

ANTI-GOD: This coprrespondent writes that he doesn't want left-wing, socialist, communist, anti-God parties in New Zealand, and will accordingly vote National.


There are a lot of political comings and goings at the moment. Labour and the Greens will tax the pants off us. Do we want that? Absolutely not!

Right-wing parties have been strongly influenced by Christian values. That worked very well, until they started moving away from that base.

Labour used to have a Christian base, but has drifted too far to the left, so now it has lost direction. Under Helen Clark, Labour led New Zealand to the nanny mentality. Left-wing parties tend to go for control and dictatorship, like the majority of communist parties (which are also anti-God).

I went to a National Party meeting a while ago and I heard Anne Tolley speaking. There was nothing that she said that rang alarm bells. I thought she was very good.

I would encourage all Christians to vote for the right-wing National party. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the rest!

But don’t worry Kiwis, she’ll be right! (It’s good to stick to the right. We don’t want left-wing, socialist, communist, anti-God parties in New Zealand).

David Florance

The reality is that the National led government has caused a large increase in people’s suffering in New Zealand. An actual Christian organisation, The Salvation Army, has been working hard to try and fix the government’s horrendous failure in many social policy areas. Their work has been getting progressively harder while National has been in power.

You only have to look at the large increase over the last few years in homelessness and the steady decline in people’s health across the board to see that the current government doesn’t hold very well to Christian values at all. If they did, the economic growth they continue to espouse would have helped those most in need, and not just those at the top who are already well off.

Christian’s should vote for a political party that believes in helping people, and unfortunately that currently isn’t the National party.

UPDATE: This fanatic also believes God is disciplining the world. Why the Gisbourne Herald has allowed him to write such religiously prejudiced articles is beyond me. How embarrassing for New Zealand.

Treating young people differently

The Labour party has hit the ground running with Jacinda Ardern. Not only has she shown immense capability as leader, the Labour party has clearly got its game on and returned to its core values, values that once made New Zealand a great place to live.

The National party on the other hand is looking a bit stale. Bill English has returned to a set of values that caused New Zealand's great decline on most international rankings. Surrounded only by people who parody his archaic belief system, the unelected PM has no real plan to make New Zealand a fair and decent society again.

However it's not just campaign styles where the two major parties differ, it's their policy direction for young people as well. Labour appears to have a more inclusive approach while National wants further discrimination and punitive measures imposed on the young.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Labour proposes free driving lessons for all students

All senior high-school students will be offered free driving lessons and driver's licence tests if Labour wins next month's election.

Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern says the free lessons would be part of a $50 million-a-year "school leaver's toolkit" that would also include compulsory lessons in "civics" and options in budgeting, work experience and practical certificates such as first aid and hospitality.

A good bit of positive social engineering right there folks, and apart from some whinging from the right wing trolls on twitter, it has received wide spread acclaim. But how does this progressive policy compare with National’s recent announcement.

On Sunday, Stuff reported:

Special bootcamp for youth offenders at Waiouru army camp, under National

National is promising to create a new bootcamp for youth offenders at the Waiouru Army camp, training alongside New Zealand's soldiers.

Making the announcement in Auckland, Prime Minister Bill English said National would crack down on the most serious young offenders and hold "negligent parents" to account.

"It's become clear that there is a small group of around 150 very serious young offenders for whom our Youth Justice System in it's current form just doesn't work," English said.

This policy hasn’t gone down well, even among some in the National party. It’s been tried and failed before and appears to be nothing more than an appeal to National's core youth hating voters. Even the PM couldn’t get his argument straight, so it’s little wonder that it received widespread condemnation.

But what ideology will win out? The more inclusive top of the cliff one where Ardern is looking to empower young people by giving them the skills they need to survive independently, or the more punitive tough on crime one where the old man wants to send young people to boot camps to become better criminals while at the same time building more jail cells for them to live in?

The contrast between these policy directions couldn’t be greater, and both have serious ramifications for society long-term.

There is no question that the cost of the lock-em-up approach far outweighs implementing preventative measures earlier in a persons life. However it’s not just a financial cost that people should be considering when casting their vote this coming election.

14 Aug 2017

PM lied about Greenpeace spies

The Todd Barclay affair, where the unelected Prime Minister claimed seven times that he couldn’t recall if Barclay had told him about the secret recording of a National party staffer, proved without a doubt that Bill English is dishonest!

But if that wasn’t bad enough, only five week’s out from a general election English has once again been caught out in another whopping lie involving the government using the services of a private investigation firm to illegally spy on New Zealand citizens.

On Thursday, the NZ Herald reported:

Greenpeace spying: Is the Govt also involved?

Greenpeace boss Russel Norman is calling on the Government to "categorically deny" any involvement with a surveillance campaign targeting the environmental lobby group.

Greenpeace says it has caught spies in the act, tracking and photographing staff and volunteers and filed litigation against the private investigation company it claims is organising it.

"The information received suggests the New Zealand Government has also been involved," said Norman, a former Green MP.

But Prime Minister Bill English categorically dismissed any suggestion that the Government was in any way involved, or was complicit.

"Not at all I don't where they'd get that allegation from," English said.

He would be concerned if there was surveillance of a protest group, but stopped short of saying he was convinced of Greenpeace's claims that they had been spied on, noting that "Greenpeace like to make people think they're the centre of all things".

There is no question that in the interim day between these two articles, Bill English or his advisors were able to view the evidence Greenpeace had provided the court, evidence that would categorically prove the government’s involvement in illegal spying.

On Friday, 1News reported:

Government admits using information from private investigation firm being taken to court by Greenpeace

“The government admits it’s using information attained from a controversial private investigation firm that Greenpeace is taking to court. The environmental group says it’s outraged the investigators have been tracking Greenpeace staff and passing that information on to the government.”

The illegally obtained information was being provided to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment by Thompson & Clark. The government has claimed that the information they’ve received was obtained legally, however that is clearly not the case.

Head of Greenpeace NZ, Russell Norman, said that the government should not have anything to do with Thompson & Clark, a message relayed by reporter Jessica Mutch to the Prime Minister, who fumbled around for an answer:

Look I think we should just run an open and transparent process people ah like Greenpeace are protesting about things they are free to do so.

Greenpeace are clearly not free to protest about “things” if they’re being actively and illegally spied on by a disreputable private investigation firm that’s working for the oil and gas industry as well as the National led government.

This is especially the case because Thompson & Clark was spying on Greenpeace members when they were going about their own private business.

Intimidation is a tactic often employed by the oil and gas industry to try and impede activists from their lawful and peaceful protests. The only difference this time is they got caught.

There is no doubt that the Prime Minister has tried to mislead reporters and the public once again about illegal recordings. Clearly Bill English is a highly dishonest politician who shouldn’t be trusted with running the National party, let alone the country.

If you value your privacy, don't vote for National.

National party dead in the water

The last week in New Zealand politics has been extraordinary. But there’s one political party in particular that appears to be missing in action… the National party.

The unelected PM Bill English has failed to gain any real traction in the polls over Metiria Turei leaving the Green party. He’s also failed to properly counter the Labour party’s resurgence and policy announcements.

Instead, tired old Bill English has resorted to pandering to the tough on crime crowd by re-announcing boot camps for the youth, a scheme that was tried and failed way back in 2008.

Today, Stuff reported:

PM: There's no evidence boot camps for young serious offenders will work

A suggestion from Bill English that teenage murderers sent to boot camps could have access to firearms has been ruled out by his office.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said serious youth offenders sent to Waiouru Army base would not be around guns while at an Academy for the country's most "hardened" young criminals.

The PM should really know what the policy plan is before announcing it ad hock. Instead, National doesn’t know its ass from its elbow.

In an interview with Breakfast English dismissed international evidence and his own science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman's comments that boot camps have little to no effect on reoffending, because he said this approach was untested.

Even English’s science advisor doesn’t think it’s a good idea, so National’s knee jerk reaction will probably go down like a led balloon with some of National’s more thoughtful supporters, well the ones who live in the real world that is.

The Prime Minister is also trying to distance himself from Peter Dunne after a disastrous Colmar Brunton poll (PDF) for United Future put him well short of Labour’s Greg O’Connor.

This isn’t good news for the right, especially after English had personally written to the Ōhāriu electorate to request that they vote for Dunne, effectively campaigning for another political party using taxpayer’s money.

It’s not just Dunne who’s feeling the political pinch either. David Seymour is frantically paddling to stay afloat by using up some of the political capital he’s accrued previously by supporting National.

Last month English openly encouraged National supporters in Auckland's Epsom electorate to give their electorate vote to Seymour. However, National’s finance Minister, Steven Joyce, yesterday claimed that the Act candidate was likely behind in Epsom as well, so the conservative electorate obviously haven’t heeded the PM’s advice.

Seymour didn’t take the inference that he would be the last Rogernome in parliament very well, and went on the attack.

Yesterday, Scoop reported:

National are the worst re-offenders in youth crime

The worst re-offenders in youth crime policy are the National Party, who are once again re-heating their decade old tried-and-failed “boot camp” slogan for young offenders, ACT leader David Seymour says.

The rift between the right and hard right appears to be growing.

“If National can’t even break their own cycle of behaviour, how can they hope to break the cycle of failed families and youth offenders who cause so much damage to New Zealand society?

English is getting attacked from both sides and looking rather insipid in his campaigning. The Todd Barclay scandal is likely to be still having some effect while his dishonesty concerning the oil industry and the governments illegal spying on Greenpeace NZ looks set to be further undermining to English’s credibility.

The Maori party, perhaps sensing a change in government, was declared an opposition party in the latest Reid Research polling report, which doesn’t bode well for National especially if the Act party and Peter Dunne are gone.

The last right wing government relied on its coalition partners to pass their detrimental legislation, and without them the National party is nothing but a sad pack of bumbling old men bereft of ideas.

The left shouldn’t fear Greg O'Connor

When Greg O’Connor was a young Police officer he did a stint undercover and has lamented having to arrest gang members he viewed at the time as his mates. This is perhaps the main problem for the left, being that O’Connor might once again be somewhat politically undercover.

However the contrast between O’Connor’s stance on many policies, particularly gun control, and those expressed by the National led government couldn’t be more apparent.

The current Minister of Police, Paula Bennett, was recently in the news saying there wouldn’t be any changes to the current gun laws in light of the Quinn Patterson murders. It might surprise people that this actually goes against O'Connor's stance on the matter.

In February, Stuff reported:

Greg O'Connor says he didn't favour Police Association call in 2010 for general arming

Now, with a political career beckoning, he said the only way the general arming of the police could be avoided was if the country got some control over the number of firearms falling into the wrong hands.

"Far from using these incidents as leverage for arguing for the general arming of police, the Police Association is asking why it is that offenders, who in the past might have been armed with knives or other weapons, now seem to have ready access to firearms," O'Connor said.

"Although our position remains that general arming is an inevitability if such attacks continue, what we believe is urgently needed is an inquiry into why firearms appear to be more readily available."

An inquiry is worthwhile. However the measures to reduce illegal firearms are already available, and have been for some time. It stands to reason that better gun control would include better policing practices as well, but really what is required is to have all guns registered.

Obviously the gun industry and their lobbyists won’t like any further restrictions on gun sales. Neither will many hunters and hobbyists unless the required changes to the law like registering firearms is shown to be affordable and proven to be beneficial to society by reducing gun crime.

"Anything is possible but there's got to be a political will to do it," O'Connor said.

This is true for so many things.

Greg O’Connor has stated that arming the Police is inevitable, unless there is a way to limit offenders getting ready access to firearms.

That’s a pretty big proviso being that O’Connor is now entering politics where he has the opportunity to directly promote a number of ways to limit criminal access to firearms. Perhaps he even realises in hindsight that the Police Association should have supported the gun control reforms proposed in 1997.

There is no doubt that O’Conner’s political leanings are more akin in many respects to the right wing. However he’s actually highly conservative in both directions, and will annoy people to the left and right of Labour.

But rather than making O’Connor appear to be a rogue MP, I think this will cause some positive friction within the Labour party who, like National, have taken a very hands off approach to gun laws in the past... tension that is required to ensure that the best changes are proposed and implemented to limit serious criminals from having ready access to firearms.

Nobody, even frontline officers, really want to see the Police armed if there’s a readily available alternative to fix the issue of illegally obtained firearms being circulated in the criminal underworld.

Clearly Labour wanted somebody of O’Connor’s character and conservative tendencies for the Ōhāriu electorate. It seems to have paid off, with their candidate recently polling 14% above the incumbent, Peter Dunne.

It’s also relevant to mention that O’Connor has an adult disabled son and his family looks after a trust involved in residential support for people living with disabilities. Entering politics appears to have been a choice for O’Connor between that and becoming more involved in the disabilities sector.

Only the National party should fear Greg O'Connor, and Peter Dunne of course.

12 Aug 2017

Contrasting campaign styles

Political campaigning takes many forms, from claims of a stable and economically dependable government while ignoring extensive social and environmental degradation to doing what's right knowing it won’t always please everybody all the time. But there’s another side to political campaigning in New Zealand, one that is often very ugly indeed.

A good example of this darker side of politics was when Metiria Turei was bullied out of parliament this week during another chapter of the dirty politics saga. She chose to resign because her family was being targeted by right wing sycophants like David Farrar, Matthew Hooton and Cameron Slater, just to name a few.

Personally I’ve always thought a politician’s family was out of bounds… however that no longer appears to be the case.

On Wednesday, the NZ Herald reported:

Metiria Turei has resigned as Green Party co-leader, saying scrutiny of her family over her past welfare history had become unbearable.

Speaking to media this evening, Turei said that if she continued as co leader it would undermine all the Green Party's hard work over many years.

The scrutiny, which had "become unbearable, frankly" was the main reason for standing down, and she was not expecting further damaging revelations which would have forced her to resign.

Since opening a conversation about the reality of poverty in New Zealand and the solutions to it, she and her family had been under extreme scrutiny.

The right wing relied upon the fact that most people simply don’t have the stomach for dirty politics and just wanted the ugliness to stop. It won't though... the right wing will hone and repeat their attack lines against the Green party over this ad infinitum.

In one case we had a rolling mall of right wing blogs making up lies and in another we had mainstream media people like Patrick Gower claiming that the resignation was because of bad polling, even though Metiria Turei had already clearly stated that it was because of her family being overly scrutinised.

In my opinion attacking a persons mother and daughter is really the lowest of the low, and those on the right, including some media, should feel highly ashamed about their misconduct.

Even rugby, in these wet muddy conditions with all the head high tackles, eye gouging and broken backs, seems like a wholesome clean sport compared to the underhanded tactics now being employed by right wing political parties and their biased media minders. I mean who on the left really has the stomach to play by their rules?

Contrast that ugly spectacle with an entirely reasonable request by Winston Peters and a transparent ground based campaign against Mike Hosking, asking that he not be employed to host the upcoming debates. There are now three petitions calling for TVNZ to contract someone else, with the largest currently having over 48,000 signatories.

The online campaigning against Hosking on left wing blogs is in most cases without any intellectual violence as well, unlike the vile nest of right wing vipers on sites like Kiwibog and Whaleoil. Their defamations have meant a good politician has left parliament because of something that occurred 25 years ago, which is insignificant in the political scheme of things. Politicians like Bill English, who have done far worse, have stayed on simply because the left doesn’t have the same media based attack system as the right.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Hosking believed he ran a "reasonable sort of debate" last time and expects this year's debates to be even bigger.

"To be fair, and without blowing my own trumpet in any way shape or form, which I would never do, I think at the end of the day it was widely considered that we ran a pretty reasonable sort of debate.

"The other thing is, it rated through the roof, they were huge numbers last time and the irony was this time we're thinking 'how's this going to go?'. I think it's going to be bigger than last time, there's even more interest in it."

He said people would complain no matter who the moderator was.

"That's the way it works."

Having Hosking as a debate host is like having a rugby teams coach as the bloody ref.

Hosking is correct about one thing though, people always complain. However it’s the amount of people complaining that means TVNZ should reconsider its controversial choice to have a biased presenter. The last thing this election campaign needs is some idiot like Mike Hosking throwing more petrol on the fire.

10 Aug 2017

Oil giants illegal spying on Greenpeace NZ

The tools employed by big business interests to undertake surveillance on activists around the world are extensive. Make no bones about it; if you oppose destructive business practices, you will likely be monitored. But just how legal is it for multinational companies to spy on New Zealand citizens in their private lives? Well I guess we’re about to find out.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Exclusive: Greenpeace says it has caught spies in the act

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman told the Herald the surveillance included tracking people in their private lives.

The environmental lobby group has filed a civil suit in the High Court against Thompson & Clark Investigations alleging breach of privacy and seeking an injunction to stop the surveillance.

Nick Thompson, a director of Thompson & Clark, last night said the firm was bemused by Greenpeace's claim and would respond appropriately in due course.

Thompson & Clark (who've taken their website down) denying the accusations is par for the course really. It's not the first time they've gotten into trouble for questionable surveillance practices either.

Thompson & Clark (TCIL) has previously been caught using paid informers to spy on community groups in New Zealand. They often claim that animal and environmental organisations and their activists are extremists. However they've never been able to point out any real illegality anywhere.

The lobby group claims to have caught two people spying in "a reverse sting" after it was tipped off that the group was under almost daily surveillance, Norman said.

The group had also been leaked documents. Together they had led Greenpeace to believe they have been the target of a sustained campaign for some years.

Norman said the group had evidence that dossiers - including photographs, vehicle registrations and home addresses - had been compiled on dozens of staff and supporters.

"We have discovered that Greenpeace has been subject to systematic highly intrusive investigations by Thompson & Clark [Investigations] and people working for them," Norman said.

Make no mistake, the oil and gas industry will stop at nothing to get at our precious resources. Not only would it in most cases be better off if we left the oil in the ground, New Zealand receives a pittance of what our resources are actually worth as way of remuneration.

The fact that Greenpeace NZ has Thompson & Clark's spying dossier’s will mean this is a pretty cut and dry case. The oil giants involved in this illegal activity should really be shitting themselves, because this could have wider legal ramifications for their destructive industries.

A statement of claim alleges that, "since at least 2014, Thompson & Clark has been engaged by Statoil ASA, a multinational oil and gas company with its headquarters in Norway, and Anadarko Petroleum, an American oil and gas company, to provide intelligence about Greenpeace and its operations".

Approached for comment, a staff member of Thompson & Clark said that the directors Gavin Clark and Nicholas Thompson were currently unavailable.

Requests for comment have been sent to Statoil and Anadarko.

This will be huge international news and mean the Texas and Norway based oil and gas companies could face a hefty penalty for their illegal spying in New Zealand.

In my opinion this is not only a breach of New Zealand’s privacy laws, it’s also a breach of our espionage law because it prejudices the security and defence of New Zealand.

However I doubt that the courts will view it the same way, because they don’t see Greenpeace as a defender of New Zealand against unscrupulous big business interests.

Jeanne Denham - Asshole of the Week

We all know that Cameron Slater and Carrick Graham are a couple of complete A holes! They’ve dedicated themselves to destroying other people’s lives with some of the vilest personal attacks ever witnessed in New Zealand. But what about the people who use the services of such despicable attack dogs?

On Tuesday, Stuff reported:

Lawyer found guilty of misconduct for trying to destroy ex-husband's career

An Auckland lawyer could be struck off after being found guilty of misconduct for trying to destroy her former husband's reputation and career.

Among other things, Jeanne Denham organised for blog posts to appear on Cameron Slater's Whaleoil site that targeted Peter Clague in his role as principal of Kristin School.

You’ve really got to wonder why authorities don’t simply move to close down the sewer of a blog known as Whale Oil Beef Hooked. After all, the Harmful Digital Communications Act is in play, and should be used to remove Slater's highly defamatory posts.

A while ago the National party made a big pretence of getting tough on people who use the Internet to harass others. However they continue to allow nasty trolls like Cameron Slater and Carrick Graham to pedal their destructive hatred unchallenged because it suits their divisive agenda. Because of this, it’s clear the sites admin and the politicians who anonymously post there have no principles whatsoever.

Denham's lawyer Warren Pyke  said an appeal against the judgment had already been lodged. He said he was unable to provide further details, but added both Denham and her former husband were "flawed human beings".

Not even Denham’s lawyer actually backs her. Some people might think these types of nasty court proceedings are unusual, but vexatious litigation actually occurs all the time. Usually the courts just go along with it to ensure unscrupulous lawyer's continue on the gravy train.

The judgment said that in October 2012, Denham engaged the services of Carrick Graham, a public relations consultant known for his connections to Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater, who arranged for pieces to be published that were highly critical of her former husband.

Multiple text exchanges between Denham and Graham showed how they discussed the impact the Whaleoil blog posts would have on Clague's reputation as Kristin principal.

Denham said in a message on 25 October 2012 that a recent blog post was generating interest in the school community, adding: "It'll spread like wildfire now!", the judgment said.

Carrick replied two minutes later: "Excellent. We'll talk more tomorrow about what else we can run on there!"

Disgusting! The problem for Graham and Slater is that Whale Oil has no credibility left to leverage people’s opinions with. By continuing to blog, they're basically just confirming that those who use such reprehensible services are scumbags themselves, who should be publicly and professionally avoided.

Following another blog post the following month, Denham wrote it made her "laugh out loud".

Carrick later told Denham her former husband was now "damaged goods" in terms of his reputation, the judgment said.

Denham is also damaged goods, and is no longer listed as working for the Luscombe Legal agency based in Hastings. It also appears that she’s no longer the chair at North Harbour Living Without Violence either. I wonder why?

Let's hope that Denham has learnt a valuable lesson here. People need to realise that there are consequences to employing the services of evil thugs like Graham and Slater to do their dirty deeds.

In 2014, Denham filed a private prosecution against Clague for assault, following unsuccessful attempts to overturn the police decision to not lay charges.

She arranged for Graham to leak details of the case to media before Clague could file an application for name suppression, noting "it might be a race".

The prosecution was dismissed as an "abuse of process" by the presiding judge, who ruled in 2015 it had been primarily brought to "destroy his [Clague's] career and reputation and collaterally damage Kristin School".

Poor guy. It appears that he had to move countries because of Denham’s vindictive nature. However I bet she now regrets her decision to give dirty laundry to the despicable Graham and Slater.

Denham was ordered to pay $146,000 in costs, which have not been paid as she has since declared herself bankrupt.

Typical of these types of people to claim they’re bankrupt to try and avoid paying their dues. I bet Denham is simply hiding her wealth in an attempt to not make payment out of spite.

Clearly Jeanne Denham deserves to win this week’s Asshole Award. There is no doubt in my mind that she should have her appeal fail as well.

9 Aug 2017

Did Bill English destroy evidence?

It’s amazing just how much vitriol is being generated on New Zealand's right-wing blogs at the moment. Some of it is bordering on insanity, and has definitely gone well over the bounds of reasonable civilised debate.

Since the National party's propagandists are frantically pontificating about honesty, I thought it might be worthwhile pointing out the continued dishonesty of the current unelected Prime Minister, Bill English.

Yesterday, NZ First reported:

Facts Blow Holes In PM's 'I Know Nothing’

“When asked in Parliament yesterday about the contradiction in his answers Mr English said he stood by ‘what he said at the prime ministerial press conference’.

“Mr English was also asked which of the following statements he stood by:

a) ‘I wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.’

b) The ‘settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach’ and had to be ‘part paid from the Prime Minister’s budget to avoid potential legal action … Everyone unhappy’.

“The Prime Minister’s response was the well-worn one – he claimed he did not have ministerial responsibility.

“It will be difficult for National Party voters to stand by Mr English, when his integrity and honesty has been shattered by the facts.

There is no question that Bill English was acting as the Prime Minister when he made statement A in a prime ministerial press conference. Even though it galls me to admit it, English clearly was at that time the PM of New Zealand. It is arguable that English was also acting as the PM when commenting about the Prime Ministers budget as well.

Being that Parliamentary Services has handed over the phone records of journalists when pressured by the Prime Ministers office makes English seem highly hypocritical in not being up front about his own questionable communications.

Even if English was using his own personal phone, under the law he cannot simply remove texts from it in order to hide evidence concerning an alleged crime, especially while an active Police investigation is underway. He’s not allowed to simply dispose of evidence or have somebody else dispose of it either.

Destroying evidence is a serious crime and must be treated as such by the Police, no matter who the perpetrator is.

The Crimes Act 1961 states:

Conspiring to defeat justice

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who conspires to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in New Zealand or the course of justice in an overseas jurisdiction.

After the Police’s search of various media outlets because of the teapot tape, Todd Barclay’s alleged illegal recording of a National party staffer, Glenys Dickson, should not and must not be treated any differently.

The search and seizure of evidence where a serious crime is believed to have occurred doesn't necessarily require a warrant, so Police should act without further delay. The Police have the power and should have seized the evidence held by the National party leader and/or his associates.

If English or his accomplices have disposed of the evidence, under the law the Police must act on that as well. They cannot and must not treat the Prime Minister differently during such an investigation, especially where a crime of this nature is alleged.

8 Aug 2017

Green party resolute

James Shaw has been outstanding during the so-called Green party crisis. Really it’s not a crisis at all… just a couple of MPs leaving because they disagree on principle with Metiria Turei’s decision to remain as co-leader. It’s a bit disappointing to see David Clendon and Kennedy Graham choose to leave over a couple of minor incidents from 25 years ago. However I doubt this will have much impact on Green party supporters.

It’s also strange that Clendon and Graham chose to publicly criticise the Greens for forgiving their co-leader. Clearly their unkind words on the way out were designed to hurt the party at the polls.

So how principled are they really? They will of course keep their parliamentary salaries, including a number of perks designed to expressly help the Green party. Even if they’re suspended, Clendon and Graham will continue to receive payment as independent MPs.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Green MPs quit in protest over Metiria Turei

Co-leader James Shaw said he was sorry to lose Graham and Clendon, who resigned from the party this evening.

He respected their decision to stand down, but did not respect the way they did it.

"The way they have chosen to go about it is strongly in violation of every norm, culture and process that we have," he told reporters at a late-night press conference at Parliament.

It might be worthwhile for the Green party to look at some sort of formal agreement with their prospective MPs. In the unlikely event this is to occur again, the Green party needs to be able to protect their political interests.

And despite the disarray caused by Turei's confessions about benefit fraud and her subsequent handling of it, Shaw said he fully backed her, and the 12 other members of the caucus were behind her.

"As I keep saying, there is a conversation now happening, there is a constituency coming forward who are saying thank you for taking this on.

"They are actually getting representation in Parliament for first time."

This fact means any hit in the polls the Greens receive is more likely to come from the Jacinda effect, which is perhaps a good thing in terms of the oppositions chance to change the government. With the Green party resolutely moving left and being in the headlines again, this is likely to affirm any new support by people who won’t care about a couple of resignations.

Party co-leader James Shaw has performed well under pressure, displaying all the hallmarks of a fine Minister in waiting, and the right-wing propagandists hate him profusely for it.

Meanwhile, Jacinda Ardern is clearly getting on with the job and this is assuredly helping the Labour party bolster its support. Did anybody else notice what office she was interviewed in yesterday? The wheels of government don’t turn so slowly after all.

Winston Peters also has a game plan and is likely to entice some soft National supporters to NZ First with his continued attacks on the tired old Bill English over the Todd Barclay affair.

Suddenly, politics is almost worth watching again.

7 Aug 2017

National caught flat-footed on rail

The Minister of Transport commenting on light rail to the North Shore.

The Labour party has amazingly managed some policy cut through this week, even with the Jacinda effect in full play. This has been well canvased by mainstream media publications to various degrees of accuracy.

The policy Labour chose to start their new campaigning on was Auckland’s transport infrastructure, which is great because it’s highly topical at the moment.

Perhaps one of the better articles about the campaign so far was by Audrey Young, who summed up the current state of play.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

In one short week National looks like the underdog

All up, Labour's plan costs about $2 billion more than National's.

It was given to Phil Twyford to deliver to explain the regional petrol tax that will cost up to $5 a tank to help fund the policy.

And Steven Joyce again assumed the position of National's critic in chief.

Labour's rally was, by necessity, arranged at late notice, but not quite as late as National's at the Papakura railway station for a $267 million commuter network announcement.

With 250 there, it wasn't a bad turnout for a Prime Minister who has the personality of a rock, according to Kelvin Davis.

It was a shameless effort by National to try to grab some attention from the popular leader of the Opposition. But it didn't pay off. The enthusiasm looked less authentic.

There is really no question that Auckland should help pay for it’s own infrastructure upgrades. Unfortunately the Auckland Council is up to its eyeballs in debt, and ratepayers are already feeling the pinch of large rates increases.

With twice as many people in attendance, Labour definitely have the momentum to announce a new tax without anybody really raising an eyebrow. A regional petrol tax is the only way to ensure those who most benefit help pay, and Labour pulled it off without a hitch.

Sure, there is an argument that getting more Aucklanders out of cars and into alternative forms of transport will save the nation billions of dollars each year, but when the infrastructure in regional New Zealand has been allowed to decay so badly and is seeing no real planned investment by the current government, expecting a free ride in Auckland is no longer acceptable.

Labour is once again campaigning for the votes of people who don’t have rocks for brains.

When memes go wrong

It seems the National party is feeling the burn after Labour’s deputy leader, Kelvin Davis, criticised a number of their front bench on Q+A yesterday.

Being unable to attack Jacinda Ardern directly, National have decided to instead play the moral high ground card and pretend dirty politics never happened.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

PM on rock comparison: Labour positivity 'lasted three days' 
Prime Minister Bill English has responded to having his personality compared to that of a rock by Labour's deputy leader - saying their new positive approach under Jacinda Ardern "lasted about three days".

Actually, Ardern’s positive approach hasn’t transpired just yet… as much as the National party and their media minders would like it to.

English said he wasn't offended by the comments but they were negative and cynical. Transport Minister Simon Bridges added his own rebuttal: "I don't use Brylcreem. I'm just saying".

If Bridges doesn't use Brylcreem, what does he use then? The mind boggles.

The National Party also responded to Davis' rock insult on Twitter, posting a photo of English with the caption, "this 'rock' got us through the global financial crisis".

There is also a very funny #EnglishRockSongs hashtag trending on Twitter.

It’s pretty obvious that Kelvin Davis’ comments did cause National some offence, otherwise they wouldn’t have worried about complaining to the mainstream media and posting their ill-advised ‘Rock’ meme on Twitter.

The right wing is very thin skinned and cannot handle criticism. In fact they tried to distance themselves from their very negative attack politics on websites like Whale Oil Beef Hooked by allowing Cameron Slater to post their nasty articles under his name.

National certainly don’t know how to counter the large amount of mirth being generated at their expense. Whether this results in any shift in the polls is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure… the Jacinda effect has got National rattled.

6 Aug 2017

Kelvin Davis hammers National

The New Zealand medias political commentary this weekend has been pretty interesting. However one topic seems to be dominating the news cycle… the Jacinda effect.

Today, Jessica Mutch interviewed Jacinda Ardern and Labour’s new deputy leader Kelvin Davis, with Scoop reporting:

Q+A: Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis

JESSICA What is the Jacinda effect? Tell me about it.

KELVIN Well, I will. Look, the Jacinda effect – pure optimism. When we look over the other side of the house–

JESSICA How long will that last for, though?

JACINDA How long will I be optimistic?

JESSICA No, how long will the effect last for?

KELVIN Let me tell you this. We look over at the other side there, and we see a prime minister with a personality of a rock. We’ve got the Jacinda effect.

JESSICA That’s a bit harsh.

KELVIN And then we’ve got Paula Bennett, who’s mastered the Lyn of Tawa effect. We’ve got Jonathan Coleman, the doctor of death. We’ve got Steven Joyce, who’s as authentic as a $4 Rolex. We’ve got Gerry Brownlee, who’s got the energy of a small hill. We’ve got Simon Bridges, the only person under 80 who still buys Brylcreem. And Judith Collins. Look, her stare caused that ice shelf in Antarctica to crack off and float away.

JESSICA On behalf of the National Party, I think that’s a little bit unfair. But tell me about this Jacinda effect–

This might seem a bit negative by Kelvin Davis, but it’s actually clever politics by Labour. The opposition needs to attack the National party while also promoting a positive message to the public.

Having Ardern conveying a progressive message and being genuinely affirmative while her deputy dismantles National’s front bench will be driving them crazy. They cannot attack Ardern without looking nasty and if they attack Davis nobody will care.

It’s likely that National’s flatfooted stooges will instead continue their personal attacks on Metiria Turei. Having a Green party MP do anything wrong is unique, and National's propagandists will try to capitalise on this for a very long time.

Let’s hope the Green party also has a game plan to once again positively gain the media and publics attention, particularly for their comprehensive environmental policy and social justice initiatives.

Bennett gets nasty

We all know that Paula Bennett will likely take over from the wet blanket, Bill English. She’s undertaken extensive media training to prepare for her role as National’s leader, and it’s questionable whether another controversy will get in her way.

National needs a new leader because English will fail to hold up during debates with Labour’s effervescent Ardern. The PM is basically a plank of wood that lacks appeal and often fumbles for the right thing to say. There is no doubt that National will choose a female with a few street smarts to try and counter the Jacinda effect.

Finding a way to attack Labour’s positive new leader is a very difficult task for National and their propagandists. They know that going negative against Ardern simply won’t work. Despite this reality they’ve started trialling a few attack lines through the Minister of a million portfolios, Paula Bennett.

Yesterday, Scoop reported on the Nation:

Lisa Owen: So now that Bill English is up against someone who is seen as a good communicator as well as an experienced MP, is he facing a stronger threat?

Paula Bennett: I just think what they’re also looking for is substance and someone who’s got the kind of brain to pull this country together and has got a proven record and—

Lisa Owen: Doesn’t she have substance?

It’s only been five days since Labour unanimously elected a new leader, and National is already floundering. Of course Ardern has substance, which will become more apparent to the public as Labour announces more policy initiatives that will need to be promoted and defended.

Jacinda Ardern has clearly demonstrated that she has a firm understanding of multiple policy areas. She will easily convey Labour’s new direction and her capability to lead the country into the future in the 50 days prior to the next election.

5 Aug 2017

Comparing Turei with Garrett is stupid

Comparing Metiria Turei with David Garrett is really stupid, and here's why...

The difference couldn't be greater. Turei came clean and is actively working to establish how much she should repay. This is a significant factor in how such situations are resolved. WINZ will only look to initiate a legal proceeding if there's a refusal to repay and clear evidence of wrongdoing.

Unless there’s significant political interference, WINZ won’t be looking to prosecute anybody for such an overpayment where recompense is going to be made.

In contrast, stealing the identity of a dead baby and using it to procure a false passport are significant offences. A clear difference also exists with Garrett trying to hide his crimes with further misleading statements and manipulations of the legal system. The fact that Garrett was discharged without conviction for this crime is still in my opinion a travesty of justice.

There also seems to be some confusion in that somebody can still be guilty of an offence even when a discharged without conviction ruling is determined. Garrett was found to have stolen the identity of a dead baby, which he used to acquire a false passport. But the judge decided this shouldn’t be held against Garrett so that he could continue practicing law.

The fact that Garrett omitted crucial evidence from that trial while Turei is providing relevant information to the public, media and WINZ is a significant difference as well. Turie is speaking out to highlight the predicament of struggling beneficiaries, while Garrett tried his best to keep his offending completely secret. He still hasn’t owned up about the exact reason he procured a false passport in the name of a dead baby either.

There are further contrasting circumstances, like swearing a false affidavit to the court. Garrett committed the serious offence of perjury when he swore under oath a statement he knew to be false, which can carry a sentence of imprisonment for 7 years.

However instead of a jail sentence, Garrett was fined $8,430 and suspended from practicing as a lawyer for one year. In my opinion he got off very lightly. A member of parliament is automatically prohibited from the House of Representatives on conviction of a crime where the maximum sentence is 2 years or more. However by the time this crime was ruled upon the former Act party MP had already slithered his way out of parliament.

Those facts don't seem to matter to the disgraced David Garret though, who yesterday wrote:

In other words absolutely everything she says about what she was doing in 1993 is complete and utter bullshit.

Who the hell would hire this moron to represent them?

It's worth mentioning that some of Garrett’s serious offending in New Zealand occurred when he was 48, only three years before he became a member of parliament where he initiated the ineffective three strikes legislation. There really is no comparison... Turei’s misdemeanours occurred 25 years ago when she was only 23.

Turei has also clarified that she registered in an electorate she wasn’t actually living in so she could vote for a friend. However the maximum sentence for that is only 3 months or a fine of up to $2000. There is also a time limit of ten years for when proceedings can be undertaken, meaning no charges will be laid.

Consider also the response concerning John Key and Bill English being registered in an electorate they didn't actually reside in so they could vote for themselves. None of the right wing propagandists requested Key or English to resign, so why are they requesting the Greens' co-leader do so now?

The hypocritical right wing lackeys screaming until they’re blue in the face about Turei having to resign is simply ridiculous! It makes them look like the biased fools they truly are. There is no moral or legal reason for the reputable Metiria Turei to resign from the Green party or parliament… in fact quite the opposite. Turei is being honest and up front about what she had to do to ensure her family survived... and for that she should be commended.

4 Aug 2017

Herald helping National over Auckland roads

We all know that the traffic in Auckland sucks big time. You have to plan any travel well in advance to counter congestion that is on par with the notoriously bad traffic in Hong Kong.

You would think with all the billions of taxpayer dollars the government has spent on Auckland’s roads over the last few years that things would have improved. However that’s not the case.

On Wednesday, the NZ Herald reported:

Auckland gridlock costing up to $1.9b a year

Auckland's traffic congestion is costing the local economy up to twice as much as previously estimated, according to a new research by the NZ Institute of Economic Research.

The report - Benefits from Auckland road decongestion - found benefits of decongestion to the current network capacity in Auckland at $0.9 billion to $1.3 billion (1 per cent to 1.4 per cent of Auckland's GDP).

But if the average speed across the Auckland network was close or equal to the speed limit, which is also known as free-flow, then the estimated benefits of decongestion during weekdays was between $1.4 and $1.9 billion (between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent of Auckland's GDP).

The range of estimates reflects different assumptions about how an easier commute would affect Auckland's labour supply.
An easier commute in Auckland would be dependant on getting more people out of their cars and into alternative public transport. Unfortunately the National led governments plan, if it can be called that, is to just keep building more and more roads.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

National's $2.6 billion plan to fix Auckland's traffic chaos

National has come up with a whopping $2.6 billion election transport package for Auckland that includes a new highway alongside the Southern Motorway for $955 million and a Northwestern Busway costing $835m.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges was forced to reveal details of the package last night after parts of it were obtained by the Herald.

The package also provides $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland, $130m to electrify rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and about $100m for a third track on the busy freight and passenger rail line between Westfield and Wiri.

Bridges said all of the projects, except the Mill Rd highway from Manukau to Drury, would be completed within 10 years.

The NZ Herald’s not so subtle free political advertising for the National party is pretty obvious. However what these biased articles fail to highlight is that National have had nine long years to fix Auckland’s gridlock and they have utterly failed. If anything Auckland’s roads are worse since National gained power in 2008.

The National party are clearly against any real plan that will get people out of their cars and onto public transport. That’s because National is addicted to the automobile and the oil and gas revenues it brings in.

Until the National party’s vested interest in keeping people gridlocked in cars is exposed, Auckland won’t decongest from its unproductive traffic woes. That’s another good reason to vote for a political party that will invest in light rail and other transport options before the next ice age.

The Jacinda effect

1 News reporter Corin Dann believes the Jacinda effect will be over by this weekend. I personally think it will remain as long as the new Labour leader is in the public eye.

Jacinda Ardern has all the trademarks of a great leader... She’s articulate, intelligent and highly presentable. However it’s her compassion and policy direction that I think will help Ardern and the Labour party get over the line in the upcoming election.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Toby Manhire: Arden up! Strategies for Jacinda effect

There are 50 days to go, and it's all change. The disco balls shimmer with the light of Jacinda Ardern, the emergency leader of the Labour Party, replacing yeomanlike battler David, or was it John, or was it Andrew.

However desperate the motivation, the Ardern elevation set pulses racing. It is hard to remember the last time the press pack was so palpably smitten.

Actually it's easy to remember. It was last week, when Boris Johnson was in town. But the point is that a grey election campaign has flickered into life. The last-gasp Labour Party has thrown a glow-in-the-dark fidget spinner into the works.

And all the parties are now frantically reappraising campaign strategies. How do they win back the electoral oxygen? Will the feckless youth rise from their slumber? How to counter the coruscating new star?

It’s not just the youth who will more likely support Labour because of Jacinda Ardern, it’s generations X and Y as well.

Bearing the brunt of many negative policy decisions, these generations have the most to gain from having a Labour led government… and they generally vote.

If Jacinda Ardern cannot increase voter turnout and participation in politics I don’t know what will. Increased turnout generally helps the left wing party's, which means this election is still anyone's race.

3 Aug 2017

Who will replace Bill English?

The real reason the National party is crapping their daks about Labour’s change in leadership isn’t just because Jacinda Ardern has hugely increased moral, it’s because National will also have to change leaders in the not too distant future.

Bill English has about as much personal appeal as a wet blanket, and National’s support will continue to slide with him at the helm. Even if the National party manages to retain power this election they will be looking to get someone who can foot it with the highly astute Ardern.

But who does the National party have to replace English? Judith Collins has credibility issues and also lacks appeal. Brownlee and Joyce have the old male syndrome working against them and Simon Bridges is simply not sharp enough. Until recently the National party was promoting Paula Bennett, however her leadership prospects now look to be over.

Today, 1 News reported:

Retired judge warns public after Paula Bennett threatens lawsuit over online post

According to a cease-and-desist letter sent to a North Island man by lawyers acting for Ms Bennett, a post and video were published on June 30 containing "material highly defamatory of the Deputy Prime Minister".

The post has been widely circulated and the letter states it has already had more than 5400 shares.

If that’s the case there’s not much point in trying to hide it.

The lawyers acting for Ms Bennett say that further action could be requested in future in terms of remedial action and also say a restraining order could potentially be requested.

The letter emphasises Ms Bennett's "categorical rejection" of all claims made in the post.

No corroborating evidence supporting the claims, which cannot be repeated by 1 NEWS, has been produced by the man.

I suspect the evidence to corroborate the claims will be held by WINZ.

Ms Bennett's lawyers copied media organisations on the letter to the man warning them off publishing the accusations.

If the allegations are baseless, Paula Bennett should front the issue. She will be doing her career more damage by trying to quell media and public interest using an outdated law that no longer applies to the digital age.

However if there is some truth to the claims, Bennett really only has one choice… and it makes her look guilty as sin. There’s even a protest planned for outside of her electorate office next Monday and a petition to have Bennett investigated.

The contrast between Bennett’s heavy-handed approach and Metiria Turei’s honesty couldn’t be more apparent. There will be similar contrast between Ardern becoming the new leader of the Labour party and English leaving his unelected position. But who on National’s front bench has the ability to match Ardern’s rising star? It appears the answer is nobody!