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Friday, July 31, 2009

Takamore judgment: Tikanga Pakeha

[UPDATE-- 9:30PM: For the record the High Court is the residual jurisdiction in which many categories of legal actions are justiciable civil and criminal - all members of the superior courts sit as High Court Judges. It has registrars and sheriffs. Formerly the Supreme Court established 1841, re-named 1980 and excercising the Common Law since it was brought into existence/promulgated/first used: January 14th 1840. Before the Treaty. That's their legal mandate - to before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The laws of England were brought into effect over NZ on 14 January.

When the common law was introduced to New Zealand, it was adapted to reflect local custom, including property rights. This was made explicit in New Zealand by the English Laws Act 1858, which provided that English law was part of the law of New Zealand with effect from 1840 only "so far as applicable to the circumstances of New Zealand"
- That is what they say.

That also by implication makes the things leading up to - if not the Treaty itself - possibly justiciable in the court. But it also diminishes the acknowledgment of the Maori right of sovereignty by taking the date of the introduction of English law to a point prior to consent being granted. This is the country's legal position. The start of the extinguishment of Maori jurisdiction began before they had even discussed the terms with them.

It does make Hobson's deliberations therefore justiciable... why else would it have been done except to make Hobson's conduct and that of his officers under the protection of their own court. The legal clock upon which the pendulum swings in 2009 is set to an English law before the Treaty came into effect. How can that be? A new Supreme Court was established recently however and it was set up to exercise its legal mandate to deal with Treaty issues. Explicitly in section 3 (a) (ii) of its own Act.

Here is where our High Court laws come from:And so on.The Limitation Act 1950 that sets the de facto general confiscation law too:

6. Application of Act to land of the Crown, Maori customary land, and land subject to the Land Transfer Act [...]
7. Limitation of actions to recover land
(1) No action shall be brought by the Crown to recover any land after the expiration of 60 years from the date on which the right of action accrued to the Crown or to some person through whom the Crown claims.
(2) No action shall be brought by any other person to recover any land after the expiration of 12 years from the date on which the right of action accrued to him or to some person through whom he claims [...].
7A Limitation of actions in relation to Maori customary land
(1) No action to which this Act applies by virtue of subsection (1A)(a) of section 6 of this Act shall be brought after the expiration of 12 years from the date on which the right of action accrued to the person bringing the action or to some other person through whom the person bringing the action claims.
2) No action to which this Act applies by virtue of subsection (1A)(b) of section 6 of this Act shall be brought after the expiration of 6 years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.
8 Extinction of title after expiration of period
Subject to the provisions of section 10 of this Act, at the expiration of the period prescribed by this Act for any person to bring an action to recover land (including a redemption action) the title of that person to the land shall be extinguished.

The Te Wiki o te Reo Maori link:
This is from the Waitangi Tribunal report of 1986 - the following year Te Reo Maori was made an official language with an Act:
to declare the Maori language to be an official language of New Zealand, to confer the right to speak Maori in certain legal proceedings, and to establish Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Maori and define its functions and powers.

Wasn't that kind of them to stop being Nazis - before South Africa even. NZ leads the world in race relations... ...only 20 years after the UK itself if you believe the footnotes at legislation.govt.nz. --UPDATE ENDS].
I gave some brief comments to TV3 yesterday for their report. I had criticised the Christchurch reporter, Lachlan Forsyth earlier for giving a one-sided account, so I appreciate his commitment to add different perspectives to this story. I'll go through the Takamore judgement now it is online with my rough notes attached (which given the animosity that exists between the feuding parties may be indicative of possible appeal points on the part of the defendants.)

The main thrust here is that there are two parts of a family and two cultures and systems that are in conflict, but the jurisdiction and culture and rules in which the dispute is to be judged is not neutral - it is firmly Pakeha. It is not balanced between Pakeha and Maori - it is Pakeha full stop. The judiciary, the rules of court, the written law and precedents upon which it will be decided are all Pakeha. In that respect the matter has already been stacked against the Maori side. The colonial legacy lives on in just about everything we do and this is no different. This is something that most people fail to recognise as cultural or legal bias.

The default setting for everything in NZ is the White Man's Law - that is what most Pakeha firmly believe and their reactions to anything that challenges this belief are reflexive, automatic and hostile. Maori of course are just supposed to accept this lesser status without complaint. Given they will always be on the back foot in proceedings where they claim tikanga Maori as either a defence or as a rule is it any wonder they figure the only way is to take preemptive and unilateral actions? And then given this situation it encourages Pakeha to also do likewise. This is a sad state of affairs, built on mistrust and instinctive prejudice more than it is on just misunderstanding.

At a wider level this is a debate a multi-cultural society ought to deal with at an early stage as there are so many mixed or "blended" families nowadays that conflicts may become an increasing occurrence. The answer for most people would be "write a will" - but that's not really much of a solution where families have religion, practices and traditions that are potentially in conflict. Some religions insist a body be buried the following day after death for example.

"Write a will" - although itself pre-supposing the Pakeha/White Man's Law is always the best and right way - is fraught with its own issues. The Prime Minister himself was involved in settling a will dispute earlier this month involving a distant cousin of mine because the situation was in danger of getting very messy - and all the participants were Pakeha! The cults of individualism and collectivism can only be taken so far in these judgments. Hopefully we will get it right.

This dispute is not being decided by the Maori Land Court in the Bay of Plenty with elements of tikanga Pakeha and tikanga Maori - this is being decided in Christchurch with no element of tikanga Maori. That must be the first thing to be noted. Is this a "neutral" scenario? Can there ever be a neutral scenario?

I re-publish extracts here for the purposes of using it as a case study. The discussion is of legal and social issues - the details are important, but the names are not - and I could edit them all out but that seems like a lot of effort without much further distress being done as it all took place in open court and is now online.

[1] Mr James Takamore, known as “Jim” by his friends and family, died suddenly from an aneurysm at Christchurch on Friday, 17 August 2007. He was in his 50s. His partner was Ms Denise Clarke, mother of his two children, James and Jenna, and with whom he had spent his adult life since the 1980s in Christchurch. She phoned around family and friends to pass on the sad news. Those members of Jim’s extended family who lived in Christchurch were quickly on the scene, particularly his uncle, John Manuel, his Uncle Robert and Aunty Sarah.

A Pakeha judge would begin this way - speaking about the immediate nuclear family of wife and kids as the starting point, rather than what a Maori judge would most likely have done by stating what tribal affiliations a person has and their whakapapa starting with the parents (the Mother of the deceased and two of his brothers are the defendants in this case afterall). Already the judgement is being framed in a typically Pakeha context. He is effectively telling her (the plaintiff's) story. This is how he's setting this up.

[2] Ms Clarke made arrangements with the funeral directors for the service to be held on 21 August: for Jim’s body to be buried at Ruru Lawn Cemetery in Christchurch; and at John Manuel’s suggestion, that the service should be held at Te Whare Roimata Marae in Gloucester Street where the body should lie in state. Ms Clarke approved of that suggestion as she believed that Jim would have wanted a link to his Maori heritage.

Fogarty J continues in a chronological fashion, but makes no reference to the date at which arrangements were made for the burial by the other defendants. Given they have an ancestral family plot this may have been some time, many years, previous to the date of 21 August 2007 given by his Honour as the date for which the plaintiff had made arrangements - the details of when the plot in Christchurch was acquired and for what purpose is strangely missing at this point. The Maori Heritage aspect is acknowledged in this second paragraph - by the plaintiff.

[3] As she thought Jim’s body was to be taken by the funeral directors to the marae, she was surprised to find that it was taken not to the marae itself, but to a room at a community centre a few doors along the street. On the Saturday evening, the day after Jim’s death, his mother, Mrs Nehutua Takamore, his brother, Donald, and his sister, Josephine, arrived. They were accompanied by Mr Henare Heremia, the partner of Josephine for more than 36 years and Mr John Mika. This party came from the Bay of Plenty, and were following Tuhoe tikanga (tribal custom, obligations, and conditions (legal)) to make a tono or claim for the tupapaku (body) of their son and brother.

Now at this stage it seems the plaintiff is in custody of the deceased - that seems undisputed. The mother of the deceased is first mentioned here - not in ¶1 but ¶3 - this is consistent with Fogarty J telling this story from the plaintiff's perspective. The correct chronology is that the mother comes first - she gave birth to him after all - it's obvious, but not to acknowledge that already tells us something about how his Honour is thinking and what side he will favour.

[4] That night, around the body of Jim, his mother, and Josephine and Donald sought Jim’s body to be buried at the urupa (burial ground) of their home marae, Kutarere, in the Bay of Plenty. The discussion grew heated as Ms Clarke and the children wanted to continue with the burial arrangements in Christchurch. Jim’s son, Jamie, spoke and at one point with resignation said that they could have Jim. However, it is common ground between the parties that the discussions were not over and would continue the next day.

"Sought" must mean sought to gain consent and the son gave it... "with resignation." If it had been the other way around, no doubt the mother and the brothers would have similarly acceded "with resignation." I take from it there was no duress as such, or else that would definitely be mentioned here. My guess here is that it is the plaintiff (at least) that must have continued an objection for the issue to be unsettled in the way his Honour has put it.

[5] The next day the Takamore family from Kutarere tried to telephone Ms Clarke and ask her and her immediate family to come back to the marae. She did not receive the call. Later in the morning a friend of Jim’s, Mr Richard Price, who had gone to visit the body, found that it was being removed. He telephoned Ms Clarke, but by the time she arrived at the marae the body had been taken by his Takamore family from Kutarere.

There seems to be a gap here. Fogarty J is implying the deceased was taken from a marae - and yet in his previous paragraph he makes it clear it was instead at a community centre. This is confusing.

[6] These proceedings were commenced in the High Court and an interim
injunction was obtained on Tuesday, 21 August, which ordered:
1. That the burial of the body of James Junior Takamore be restrained pending further order of the Court.
2. That the New Zealand Police take into custody the body of James Junior Takamore pending further order of the Court.
3. That costs are reserved.

And this is almost certainly why the defendants took the deceased. They knew that this is exactly what the plaintiff would do - go to the court. In a Pakeha Court in Christchurch there's no way the mother and brothers would be able to get the deceased back. This ruling itself looks likely to confirm that assumption.

[7] This order was entrusted to the New Zealand Police to be served. Two members of the police force based at Opotiki took the injunction order to the Kutarere Marae. The burial service was already under way, although as I understand it the coffin had not been interred. The police officers did not attempt to serve the order.

I don't think anyone is going to seriously blame the pair of local cops for not serving the order in the circumstances.

[8] On 7 October Ms Clarke and her family met at Kutarere Marae with the wider Takamore whanau, a meeting which was largely conducted in Maori, though translated for the plaintiff. It did not resolve the differences between the two families.

This is sad. It's pity it could not have been resolved at his point.

[9] In these proceedings, Ms Clarke, as the executrix of Mr Jim Takamore’s will, seeks four orders:
1. An order authorising the plaintiff and her representatives and agents to enter the Kutarere Cemetery and remove the coffin and the deceased’s body which is contained within it.
2. An order authorising the plaintiff to deal with the coffin and deceased’s body in any way she sees fit following its removal from the Kutarere Cemetery.
3. An order restraining the first defendants and any other persons acting at the request or at the direction of the first defendants from taking any action that would obstruct the plaintiff and her representatives and agents from doing anything pursuant to order 1 and 2.
4. Any other orders required to give effect to these orders.

Well the plaintiff has certainly covered all her bases here. Note that this is the first time the plaintiff has been described as the executor (executrix) of the estate, and that it is stated as fact rather than as a contention or something needing clarification. For the judge this is undisputed.

The deceased’s cultural identity

[10] Mr Jim Takamore was the son of Mr James Takamore from Waioweka, just south of Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty. His hapu is Ngati Ira. His mother’s maiden name is Manuel. Her hapu is Te Upokorehe. Their marae is Kutarere.

This will be an interesting section. Apart from the extracts that the TV3 reporter read out to me yesterday I have not read any further into the judgment... so, to be continued.

Black Prof, arrested in house by white cop (hilarious)

It’s hard being the first black president isn’t it? When a white cop can arrest a black professor in his own house after accidentally tripping the house alarm, even after the black professor shows the white cop he owns the house you can’t call that white police officer stupid. You have to get chummy and invite them both over for a beer rather than vocalize outrage at such blatant institutionalized racism. Get up and get, get down, 911 is a joke in your town may be true, but you sure as hell can’t admit it, even if you’re the President of the United States.

There’s a reason they call it the White House.

Transcript of police radio transmissions
Female dispatcher: Respond to 17 Ware Street for a possible B and E in progress. Two SPs (suspicious persons) barged their way into the home, they have suitcases. R-P 5 - SP. Stand by, trying to get further.

Officer 52 (Crowley): 52. Ware Street right now, 17?

Dispatcher: 17 Ware Street ... both SPs are still in the house, unknown on race. One may be a Hispanic male, not sure.

Officer 52: Is there an apartment number there?

Dispatcher: Negative on the apartment. Single family yellow house.

Officer 52: Stand by. Can you have the caller come to the front door?

Dispatcher: I’m sorry, repeat?

Officer 52: Can you have the caller come to the front door?

Dispatcher: It’s not her house, she doesn’t live there. She’s a witness in this.

Officer 13: C-13 to patrol im on broadway (inaudible)

Dispatcher: Received

Officer 52: 52

Male patrol: Answering 52-

Officer 52: I’m up with a gentleman who says he resides here (background voice) but uncooperative. But uh, keep the cars coming.

Male patrol 1: Copy.

Officer 52: Can you also send the Harvard university police this way?

Male patrol 1: We can send ‘em in.

Officer 17: 17 to 5-2, when you get a chance I need to talk to you.

(14-second pause)

Officer 52: 52 to patrol

Male patrol 1: Answering.

Officer 52: He gave me the ID of a Henry Louis Gates. ...

Male patrol 2: Answering 52.

Officer 52: He gave me the name of the resident of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (background voice) on Harvard property.

Male patrol 2: Sir can you repeat?

(14-second pause)

Male patrol 2: Patrol to 52.

Two simultaneous voices: Try calling him again— (inaudible) to 52.

Male patrol 2: Patrol to 52.

Male patrol 2: Patrol to car 52.


Male patrol 2: 52 go back to channel 2.

Officer 1-R: 1’s on.

Male patrol 3: Let’s see 12-52.

Officer 18: 18’s on 2.

Male patrol 2: 18 I didn’t copy 52’s last uhh, when he came on 2.

Officer 18: Right, stand by.

Male patrol 3: Patrol to 1-R.

Officer 1-R: (background voice) I’m off on Ware Street with 52.

Male patrol 3: Alright received.

Officer 2: (inaudible) to patrol. Do we have a wagon coming through to the location?

Male patrol 3: Patrol to wagon.

Wagon: Wagon.

Male patrol 3: 17 Ware Street.

Wagon: Copy.

Sir Douglas wants more

I'm entitled, says Douglas
Sir Roger Douglas says he is entitled to a holiday in Britain at the taxpayers' expense. The ACT MP, who has been vocal in his demands for the Government to cut public spending and for Kiwis to tighten their belts during the recession, has one of the highest airfare bills among MPs.

Entitled Sir Douglas? Entitled? Isn’t it fascinating to have the man who wants microscopic government and wants to slash, slash, slash public costs talk about travel subsidies he and his wife can take while going on overseas holidays – remember Sir Rodger wasn’t on Government business, he went on a holiday. Now personally I don’t have much of a beef with the expenses Politicians can get in NZ, it’s not an easy job and they are our representatives, but to have an extreme right wing politician like Rodger bloody Douglas who has screamed to the high heavens about costs and perks wanting to slash them all take those very same costs and perks and tell us he’s ‘entitled’ is just a joke too far.

Funny how Rodger is entitled to more from the public purse but the 1000 NZers joining the dole each week aren’t ‘entitled’ to anything more than subsistence living. So much for those ACT values.

And these are the troops we will be fighting with in Afghanistan

'The Army pounds it into your head: kill everybody'
COLORADO SPRINGS - Soldiers from an Army unit that had 10 infantrymen accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life described a breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians. Some Fort Carson, Colorado-based soldiers have had trouble adjusting to life back in the United States, saying they refused to seek help, or were belittled or punished for seeking help. Others say they were ignored by their commanders, or coped through drug and alcohol abuse before they allegedly committed crimes, the Gazette of Colorado Springs said. The Gazette based its report on months of interviews with soldiers and their families, medical and military records, court documents and photographs. Several soldiers said discipline in the 3500-soldier unit deteriorated while in Iraq. "Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated," said Daniel Freeman. "You came too close, we lit you up. You didn't stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley" - an armoured fighting vehicle. Taxi drivers got shot for no reason, and others were dropped off bridges after interrogations, said Marcus Mifflin, who was eventually discharged with post traumatic stress syndrome. "You didn't get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong," he said. Soldiers interviewed by the Gazette cited lengthy deployments, engaging in some of the bloodiest combat in Iraq. Since 2005, brigade soldiers also have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. The unit was deployed for a year to Iraq's Sunni Triangle in September 2004. Sixty-four unit soldiers were killed and more than 400 wounded - about double the average for Army brigades in Iraq, according to Fort Carson. In 2007, the unit served a bloody 15-month mission in Baghdad. It's currently deployed to the Khyber Pass region in Afghanistan.

And these are the soldiers NZ will be fighting alongside are they? Burnt out, emotionally damaged US soldiers who have moved from a kill everything zone, stretched even thinner to be redeployed into Afghanistan? Are NZers going to be happy for the SAS to turn a blind eye to American atrocities witnessed in Afghanistan? Will these burnt out US troops win hearts and minds?

Creepy Christian Dr on hitting kids referendumb

Did anyone see Breakfast this morning with this Christian Dr supporting hitting her children for ‘discipline’ purposes– listening to her bullshit rationalization trying to justify her position made me wonder “How on earth are you a Dr?”. It’s weird that someone who has an education can still be so blinded by dogma, “Our children were told if I count to three you get a smack, that’s how our children learnt to count”, charming. Her position that it was normal and right to hit your kids and only fringe people wouldn’t lash out and assault their children suggests this ‘Dr’ wouldn’t tip social services off if as a Dr she saw evidence of parents hitting their children for disciplinary purposes.

I love that we are blowing $9million on a stupidly worded referedumb that no politician intends to implement just so our creepy Christian friend has the legal right to assault her kids. Oh well if it makes our fundy friends and reactionary NZers feel like they are being listened to so that the rest of civilized NZ can move on with an environment where it’s no longer justified to assault your children for disciplinary reasons, so be it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bennett must become "explicit"

To retain some sort of credibility the Senior Ministers have to do something before Bennett brings them all down. She's going to have to be disciplined - either the hard way - via resignation - or the easy way - a mea culpa and a self-administered wrist-slapping where they can retain some control. Either way they have to immediately "clarify," to use their language, the Cabinet Manual. Because at the moment the 2001 version I have says thus on the issue of Bennett's "public leak" incident:


Proceedings concerning the exercise of ministerial powers

2.78 Ministers may be named as defendants in court proceedings, almost always in relation to the exercise of their ministerial powers. Most commonly, the proceedings will be by way of judicial review, which generally involves a legal challenge to the way in which a particular (usually statutory) power has been exercised. Judicial review proceedings against Ministers are discussed in more depth in paragraphs 2.109 – 2.114.

Proceedings against a Minister personally
2.79 On occasion, however, Ministers may also be sued for acts done while a Minister but which have a more “personal” aspect. For example, a Minister may be sued in defamation arising from the contents of a particular speech or other public statement. Alternatively, proceedings may be instituted alleging that a Minister has acted dishonestly or in bad faith. The extent to which a Minister will be personally liable will depend upon the law relating to the particular matter.

Indemnity – proceedings concerning the exercise of ministerial powers
2.80 Because a Minister would not be at risk of judicial review proceedings at all if it were not for his or her official position, it is a convention of government that Ministers should be indemnified by the Crown for any actions taken against them for things done or decisions made in the course of their ministerial duties. The indemnity will cover the cost of defending the proceedings, and any costs or damages awarded against the Minister (except in exceptional cases – see paragraph 2.95). This convention applies whether the Minister is a member of a current or previous government. References to Ministers in this section should therefore be taken as including former Ministers.

Indemnity – proceedings against a Minister personally
2.81 By their very nature, cases against a Minister personally raise issues about whether the Minister has acted so far beyond the scope of his or her authority that he or she should not be indemnified by the Crown in relation to the proceedings. There is no absolute legal right to indemnity by the Crown just because a Minister was acting as a Minister in doing, or refraining from doing, the act that is the subject of the claim.

2.82 Where a Minister is sued or threatened with legal action personally and it is uncertain whether he or she should be indemnified, the normal arrangement is to seek Cabinet’s agreement in advance – where the conditions below are applicable – to meet the expenses of legal representation. The question of indemnity on costs and damages will be held over until judgment has been given (see paragraphs 2.94 – 2.96).

So, one of the victims will have to threaten to sue Bennett personally to force the issue to Cabinet. Is that why Paula has been so generous lately towards the women concerned? The whole bloody government is going to have to wear this drama if they don't get her out and the rule 'clarified' - to use their terms.

Labour's all over this. If they can get one of them to sue over this the Cabinet are going to have to discuss it and if they agree to indemnify Bennett they are all, therefore, standing by her actions and the standard that sets. Bennett has admitted to "playing political football" with them FFS. On live TV. The only ones supporting this action are a very tiny minority of the rabble and a few fringe spin merchants.

Bill English was trying to be a prick in the House about it this afternoon and hold the new line on the other side of Bennett's no man's land she has made them wade into. It was a half-hearted defence. I'm seeing a lot of daylight here. The team is letting her play her own game thinking they won't get hurt if it all goes wrong.

A Minister admitting her scenarios as a high enough test to raid confidential and personal departmental files of her avowed political enemies and distribute them to the media for publication - and the whole lot teetering on some preposterous notion of "implied consent" - is a test that will fail. The test cannot be a weak test either, it must be a high test because of the personal nature of the information. And that it is unquestionable. And a reasonable person would never think it right that personal information in this case would ever be consented to by the parties concerned to be released publicly.

The Minister knew that it was unreasonable to believe that the parties concerned would consent to the release of the material. She released it because she knew it would not gain consent. That is bad faith on many levels.

She does not have a leg to stand on - and to mix metaphors - she's up to her eyeballs in it. She's "taking umbrage on their behalf" to use yet another utterly inappropriate turn of phrase employed by the Minister on Campbell live last night. She's the one who retaliated personally and overstepped the mark and caused this grief for them. She treads a path that will inevitably lead to others having to get involved. It could get messy. No one wants that. They can't risk letting Paula Bennett's bubble-gum popping in the background noise of politics dictate the tempo. She's offered a sword up for herself in the way of full and total responsibility and she just very well may be asked to fall on it.

If Bennett had applied some common sense this may never have occurred: What would happen if someone did that at Baycorp? Or any private sector agency? They would be disciplined at the very least. Rebuked. Stood down. Given some quiet time. They wouldn't be let loose to make up their own policy on sensitive information would they? Would the boss of Baycorp let some associate manager person go and access someone's file without telling anyone and then have it published through the media all in aid of some petty bloody squabble? And then would the boss of Baycorp let them go on prime time TV night after night proclaiming that the new policy at Baycorp is if you say anything bad about us you'll splash it all over the Sundays. It is hugely damaging to the integrity of the system - the whole state system of databases.

It must fail Peter Dunne's test as Revenue Minister - he can't say what Bennett has said in regard tax files. He can't. He cannot apply that standard because that is just anarchy, not order - not the rule of law. For a Minister to do that. It would fail the common sense test of the country's permanent IRD Minister. It must. It has to.

And I'm not even up to Tariana Turia having to resign her associate position under Bennett in order to speak out. She's under immense pressure. It stands to reason that what Turia's evil overlord can do with the WINZ system so can she, right. Right. Right? Now are the Tory's so happy? Pita Sharples has got associate Corrections, can he go through people's criminal or prison records...? Rodney Hide with his portfolio of local Government - if he wanted to upend any pesky Councillor he might reveal all his noise control and parking records, RMA proceedings... the possibilities are endless unless it moves to "explicit." It's just one word they have to put in front of "consent" at the appropriate point. It's a clarification - to use their way of speaking. It will be a timely clarification.

If you are not onside with the ruling party, or parties, then its next stop front page of the Herald with whatever they can dig up. - That can't be the rule of John Key's government. That is unfair, it is unprofessional, it is damaging to the person whose confidentiality is breached and it is damaging systemically for the Crown and its method of governance. It undermines the credibility of every agency of the Crown that must report to a Minister. Something must be done to restore confidence - sooner the better.

Bennie bashing and redneck hatred

No Bennett apology to beneficiaries
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett refuses to back down over the release of personal information about two beneficiaries, despite saying she regrets the outcry it has caused. Bennett tried to soothe the waters yesterday after a public row with several domestic purposes beneficiaries who took her to task for axing an allowance to help those on welfare into tertiary study.

Bennie bashing is as traditional to NZ as rugby, alcoholism and domestic violence – WE LOVE TO BASH THE BENNIE – so much so that you get to see the real color of people’s necks and the vitriol Paula Bennett has vomited up by breaching privacy laws is a new low from the right wing in this country.

I have been astounded by the corporate media’s ability to turn a blind eye to the outright abuse of power Paula Bennett proudly adopted to unleash a level of Bennie bashing the likes we haven’t seen since National were last in power.

The ‘Right’ – that includes Not PC – the corporate media – even David over at Kiwiblogh (who pretends to be enlightened) are all effectively arguing that the beneficiary is somehow inferior to the rest of us and as such don’t have the same rights to privacy and are open to this of type of abuse because it creates ‘better understanding of the debate’. What a load of absolute bullshit – complaining about a training allowance doesn’t ‘imply consent’ that you can now have all your personal details sent out to the media openly by the Minister you are complaining about! And that so many NZers are blind to this fact in their rush to bash a Bennie is about as ugly as our country gets.

It is jaw dropping to see this abuse occur justified in the manner in which many anonymous posters here, the corporate media, talkback hosts and the online right wing mafia have been defending it as, that the beneficiary is beneath others in society and as such have a much lower threshold of rights and as such deserve whatever Paula throws at them, it is sickening Tory class hate as my co-blogger brilliantly points out in the blog posting below mine.

Incredible isn’t it – John Key lies about the 3700 jobs created by his bike lane when really it’s only 160 jobs, Nick Smith lied about the actual cost of 40% emission cuts to combat climate change and it all gets smothered by Paula Bennett breaching privacy laws to unleash a vicious round of benefit bashing and denigration of fellow NZers who just happen to be receiving aid from the Government, all done with the compliance of the corporate news media.

Oh and the fact that Big Sister was once a solo mother and that she would do this to women walking the same road she herself once walked, minus of course the help Paula herself received, is a hypocrisy so disgusting she deserves nothing but contempt for the rest of her time in Parliament, the exact same way Don Brash deserves nothing but contempt for his ‘Maaaaaaaaaaaori get too much’ racially divisive hatred.

What a sickening sight from fellow NZers and what a sickening sight from the corporate media. What they are all saying is that Beneficiaries have less rights than us ‘proper NZers’, and as such have no right to be protected by the abuse of power from any Minister. The threat to beneficiaries is blatant and the celebration of them as lesser citizens is caste system-esk.

New Zealand, you are embarrassing yourself in an ugly, ugly way.

The Bennett standard is John Key's standard

[UPDATE-- 10AM: The hypocrisy continues this morning. From David Farrar: "It is part of our constitutional conventions of parliamentary privilege that people can give evidence to select committees without fear of retribution for what they say. Therefore I regard it as a bad look..." ...right. But beneficiaries aren't allowed to "go public" without the Minister releasing their confidential details to the media. What is that if it is not retribution? Confidential details that the fink then relays on his blog too. Oh, he thinks that's fine. What a sleazy Tory prick. Constitutional conventions!? He reckons there's a constitutional convention for Ministers releasing a person's private information to the media if they get uppity. What a joke. Look what Bennett is forcing these apologists to do to cover her. And ironically enough Farrar has headlined the post "A bad look".--UPDATE ENDS]

[ADDITIONAL: and shame on Matthew Hooton for attempting to defend it. Defending Bennett is turning the supposedly "good" Tories into the sleazy and contemptible merchants of spin that many have always regarded them as. He even gets Kathryn Ryan angry - that takes some doing! - and makes Chris Trotter sound reasonable. RNZ - mp3 from yesterday's Nine to noon show.]

John Key's judgement rides or falls on backing Paula Bennett's. At the moment Key and the Senior Ministers will be maintaining their distance from her and letting her try and handle it herself without much direct involvement. But what she says is what must now be the standard for the National government. This just isn't a personal standard or "style" of a particular Minister - this is the test now for all the Crown's Ministers in the administration of the government. Because now the Cabinet manual reads:

1.1 A Minister may seek from a department for which the Minister is responsible any personal and confidential information held by that department on any person that in the opinion of the Minister may be being used by the Opposition party for political ends and/or has otherwise "gone public" in criticising government policy, esp. in a public forum or as a member of an organisation.
1.2 The Minister, without any authorisation necessary, may immediately release that information to the media.

That's what the Ministers of John Key's government - and that includes Pita Sharples, Peter Dunne and Rodney Hide etc. too - are now to be held up to. That is what the public may expect from a department now - that their personal information is public the moment they complain. To take it to its logical conclusion, Bennett might delegate that authority to WINZ workers can't she - via the Director-General. A local WINZ boss gets some grief in the local rag about the service: just fax everything over to the paper - it's OK the Minister does it. It becomes a matter of scope and consistency of application.

The Bennett edict will render the government inoperative. A liberal democratic government cannot have that rule and still be a liberal democratic state. The further out there she goes in her public proclamations about what she can and cannot do with confidential information and her assertion that a minister is able to breach privacy, trust, departmental protocols, the cabinet manual and every other rule in the book makes saving her look more untenable by the hour.

She has very helpfully insisted in the House that she will not be caught out "lying in unison" - a reference to the affair in which the otherwise competent Lianne Dalziel was forced to resign. Bennett though wants to be very open about her leaks - she wants the leak and the fact that it was leaked by her to be well known. Known and feared.

She has been at pains to stress that she made the call on this one and that she - and she alone - is going to take full responsiblity for this decision - her decision. She can't turn to anyone, it's all on her. This is the way she wants it.

Good. Good of her not to try to drag anyone else down with her - that includes people from the office too. It'll make it cleaner for them.

The soft ride and benny-bashing from the corporate media continues to let them get away with it. But they constructed this story and they can demolish it. She's gloating and patronising at the moment, but that can turn around very quickly. But at the moment the NZ Herald's editorial line is that beneficiaries are second class citizens and don't have the normal rights that others are afforded.

That sickening Tory class hate and fascist abandonment of the rule of law and of legal protections and rights is what the Herald epitomises. The editorial on Wednesday is the very definition of "The Man". The man is a cunt - upholding cuntiness at it's most cunty. This is precisely why people lose faith in "the system" and figure that anything goes. The editorial printed the confidential material FFS. I hope they sue those fucking scumbags. Would they print the tax records of someone who complained about tax policy in their editorial? Of course not - they are a different class of person. Everyone who published those private details - that are obviously confidential - should be ashamed. If they are claiming that "Paula said it was OK" as a defence then let them offer it in court. If David Farrar thinks it is OK for him to publish these confidential dealings with the Crown (and he has and I've got an image of it) then it must be alright for me to publish all his confidential dealings with the Crown - I guess he'd be OK with that. In fact he never stops talking about Parliamentary Services and party funding etc. let's open his book's up, eh? I'll just email the ministers... fucking Tory, arsehole hypocrites.

This defines the "Right" - when the Libertarians instinctively side against a class of person or a status of person rather than follow the principles of justice and fairness then that makes them reactionary conservative Tories; and if we add the laissez-faire economics to it we have a conventionally understood 'Right wing' person. They are highly prejudiced. The fact they can't admit it or claim to see it is probably why they worship a humourless author as a cult and then claim religion is stupid... oh, that's right, they too are fucking Tory, arsehole hypocrites.

But the corporate press are also whores and fickle toe-rags. Tomorrow their line may change from 'Benny-bashing hero dobs in greedy solo-mums' to 'Lying "bully" minister must quit.' That's "the lesson" - to use her term - that Paula Bennett dearly deserves to learn. John Armstrong might grow a brain at some point and write something other than the embarrassing piece on Wednesday about what a great little scrapper Bennett is and that there's no problem here. Well there is a problem because the swelling number of beneficiaries are now going to be have their rights abolished. And it's now an open question over whether this applies to every sort of person in a department's files or not. Some Nixon-Hoover regulations that are being tested out on the lower orders of society is what this is and it may not be able to be so breezily dismissed when they work out the implications.

Ask Peter Dunne about the scenarios in which he would release IRD information. Ask all the Minister's that question of their respective departments. Do the Bennett edicts apply to all departments, or just hers?

Paula Bennett has told parliament on Tuesday:
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: I refer the member to the guidelines for Ministers on the Privacy Commissioner’s own website, which show that people can give implied consent for Ministers to discuss their personal circumstances by going to the media.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: I looked at the guidelines that were on the Privacy Commissioner’s website. Let us be quite clear: there are no new standards, and this is not something we will be making a practice of. The standards that were set by the previous Government were underhand, at best. I seem to recall a “lie by unison” call from previous Labour Ministers.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: As I stated in my answer, I certainly referred to the guidelines for Ministers that are on the Privacy Commissioner’s website. I felt that that was adequate.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, I took big steps to check that the information was correct.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: Steps were taken to ensure the information that we held was put out there, and that is all the information I had available to me. That is the information we put out.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: At the end of the day, I presented the information that was available to me. I took steps to get the information that was available through my own ministry, and that is what I presented.

    Paula Bennett has told parliament on Wednesday:
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : I have not established any new criteria. I have followed the practice established by previous Governments. The only difference is that I am upfront and honest about doing it, unlike Ministers in the previous Government.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: I am not sure exactly where the information came from. I myself asked my staff for the information, they accessed it for me, and, as such, it was put forward.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: Let us be quite clear: I asked my Ministry of Social Development officials for the information. The information came to me. It must have come from the official Ministry of Social Development database, because that is where the information is held, and it was given to me. It is as clear and interesting as that.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: I made a judgment call based on the ministerial guidelines from the Privacy Commissioner. I stand by it. I believe that a complaint has been taken to the Privacy Commissioner. I welcome the outcome of that.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: At the end of the day, I made a judgment call based on the ministerial guidelines from the Privacy Commissioner. The member disagrees with that call, and that is her right. I understand that a complaint has been taken. I look forward to that process going through, and we shall see where it lies.
  • Hon Annette King: When was Peter Hughes, the chief executive officer of the Ministry of Social Development, made aware of her decision to release to the media the personal details of two solo mothers? Hon PAULA BENNETT: To the best of my recollection, I had a conversation with Mr Hughes about it after it had been done.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: What I gave the media was simply the information that I had access to via my department. It may surprise the Opposition but there is no cloak-and-dagger, no smoke and mirrors, or anything else, going on. I have been quite upfront about what I did and about what information I presented to the media. I am quite happy to stand by that judgment decision of mine. There were no vanilla envelopes slipped under doorways, which is what those members are used to. This is quite upfront. There is nothing secret about it.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would not repeat in this House that I thought they were ungrateful bludgers...
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would say neither of those. They have just taken assumptions that are there. The media can be a pretty vicious thing when one gets into the middle of it, and I suppose those women are seeing that now in quite how it has been. I suppose there is a lesson about what it might actually be like to allow the Labour Party to use a person as a political football.
  • Hon PAULA BENNETT: At this point, I would just say that there is a lot of information out there about these women. They have put out a lot of information via the website and via TradeMe. These women have put out personal information about money they are receiving, what they are, and everything like that, so that is probably the statement that I would stand by.

    Paula Bennett has told Campbell Live outside the House:
  • It's not a breach of the Privacy Act... no it's happened many times before - and it's not.
  • where people have put their information out there... ministerial guidelines... and they are there and I looked at them... and took some advice...
  • it went back a few years... a ruling from the Privacy Commissioner
  • I took advice before I did it... from my office... I've got people there to give me this advice and I took that advice and I was certainly told that it had been done before and I certainly saw the piece that came off the website from the ah, instructions...
  • They were in the papers, Labour stood them up as poster girls for this and kept telling their stories, they kept saying that they thought it was unfair... from my perspective I thought well let's actually see what the public think... they put themselves in the public, Labour then put them up as political football and I just felt let's make sure the information is all out there...

    But of course Bennett won't release her own DPB information. Paula Bennett welcome to the fucking Tory arsehole hypocrite club. She has to go and the remaining Ministers have to "clarify" the cabinet manual.

  • Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Maori New Year [UPDATE: Nats will vote against - "with respect" to Maori Party]

    The Bill - via NRT.

    It is important. There are some issues which need to be dealt with, so let's go through it - it's a very short bill.

    This Act may be cited as—
    (a) Te Rā o Matariki Act 2009; or
    (b) The Matariki Day Act 2009.

    2 Commencement
    This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

    3 Purpose
    The purpose of this Act is to make provision for the observance of Matariki—
    (a) as the Māori New Year; and
    (b) as a public holiday.

    4 Observance of Matariki
    Matariki must be observed as a public holiday throughout New Zealand on the day of the next new moon following the day in which it rises in the months of May or June.

    5 Matariki to be publicly notified
    The Minister of Māori Affairs, after consultation with such persons having knowledge and experience in tikanga and astronomy as the Minister considers appropriate, may from time to time, by notice in the Gazette, declare the day on which Matariki is to be observed.

    6 Amendments to Holidays Act 2003
    The Holidays Act 2003 is amended in the manner indicated in the Schedule.
    Amendments to Holidays Act 2003
    s 6
    Section 32(a)
    Omit “11” and substitute “12”.
    Section 44(1)
    Insert the following paragraph after paragraph (h):
    “(ha) Matariki:”
    New section 45A
    Insert after section 45:
    “45A Transfer of Matariki as public holiday
    For the purposes of this subpart, if Matariki falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, it must be treated as a public holiday falling on the following Monday or, if that is already a public holiday, the following Tuesday.”

    9: 24PM Katene begins her speech - in Maori, of course. It's Maori Language week too. "Celebrating Matariki"...

    [now the Tories just voted down the anti-slavery bill: 63 to 58, so... I'm not kidding... so, there's not a lot of hope the "productivity = make them work harder for longer for less pay" brigade are going to approve of an additional day off work under any circumstances. A compromise many would conclude will be to dump Queen's Birthday for Matariki.]

    1995 Pipitea celebrated Matariki "in style"... almost universally celebrated.. To pay our respects to the land and the people and the history, planting activities [I'm not so sure about that point, Matariki is before planting isn't it? Kumara doesn't get planted until later - in August? She's reading a lot out of her previous material that I have posted on at this point in her speech. She's so proud and her voice is almost breaking - a rookie backbencher in this precarious political situation with the Nats...]
    9:32PM - [the bell!]

    Guy Fawkes is celebrated [FFS... she's choking.]

    Chair - "I've stopped the clock"

    Hone Harawira continues: All we want is to let the people have a say... will the PM support Matariki Day? And he said No, probably not...? A celestial event, indigenous origins,... setting NZ apart... improving cultural identity. A day in the midst of Winter. Communities. Dr Te Pou... a holiday... good idea... our journey as one nation... shine as one. Harawira finishes her speech for her as she gasps in the background. I thought she was shaky there, but ... oh dear.]

    Chair: Could the member the indicate the committee?
    Harawira: Maori Affairs.

    [Simon Bridges the first to speak - the young Nat from Winston's old seat, acknowledges the member.]

    9:40PM Bridges: [the idiot. Droning on like a punch drunk cop, says he won't support it] and the National Party won't be either... [he sounds rather heart-broken about having to be the "Maori boy" that Winston once was to the Pakeha party bosses and have to calm the hysterical Maori lady down in the chamber - just tell her no - but thank them for the votes in the House eh. FFS. That's what you are not going to get in Hansard, but that is what everyone in the chamber was thinking and evidently so did he by the poor pup act at the end. What a shitty day at the office. Let's continue to worship the Queen as a God - the one in whose name the beneficiaries of NZ (and anyone having any notions of complaining to the media about the government) now have no right of confidentiality regards their information held by the state. FFS.

    This is NZ: NZ is to Australia like Rhodesia was to South Africa: The smaller countries had a lesser degree of social racism, a higher degree of native political representation, but ultimately a British colonial exercise engineered by London finance and colonial businessmen for fast profits whose on-going game the locals continue to play. The government doesn't want to properly acknowledge the Treaty upon which that regime is supposedly based and will not sign international documents that would have the effect of essentially living up to that Treaty... what is that if it is not a game of sorts? And the rules of the game are also a joke - with a Constitution Act that lets a troika of Ministers create a fait accompli to the Cabinet via their own proclamation that the Crown will confiscate Maori property and over-ride their rights on a discriminatory basis. Was that Australia's response to the Mabo decesion? That's the sort of a "constitution" we have. Where that shit happens.

    Maori don't have a day. Waitangi Day, for those who would differ, is everyone's day - it's a national and a government day. Every other public holiday has no Maori connotation or element at all. The calendar remains staunchly KKKristian and staunchly in favour of the Royal Family and Her Majesty's Government. It is a colonial calendar that everyone is forced to obey. A Maori new year would trigger the other Maori observations (though not necessarily any other public holidays initially).]

    9:44PM. [A Maori lady speaking - a Nat one by the sounds of it - oh, no, sorry the other sell-out, on the other side, Mahuta of Waikato. She's not making much of an impact or sense.] "Sustainable future..." [From the Labour Party]. Blathering.

    9:47PM. Paul Quinn (National): [Stumbling through his Maori makes a good fist of it in the end.] "As a mark of respect" [- oh no - they are not that is not the reason., that is not "mana enhancing a la the support agreements.[
    9:51PM: Why do we have Queen's Birthday where it is - a date connected with her father? Cultural heritage...

    9:52PM. Fenton (Labour) - We support this bill going to the select committee. There are some other issues going on: workers' rights. [now she's getting qualvery and emotional] National disgraceful.. shop trading debate... [she's an old union battler, so there's no stopping her now she's on this topic].. the retail workers.. 3 and a half days in the whole year left that workers don't have to work. [Hmm 8

    Metiria Turei (Green co leader), We support [fuck she's cocky now she's leader, chuckling to herself.] Holiday between QB and Labour Day. We support an additional holiday. A means to recognise tikanga Maori in some form - this is out of the current framework, pre-colonial Maori legitimacy. [Go, baby!] there needs to be...
    10:00 Chair - I have to interrupt... [FFS! she was just getting stuck in, just starting] hurrumphing... Po Marie.... Maori voices singing now, from the chamber. [I didn't catch when the Chair set it down for to continue its reading.]

    The Nats+Act = NO to the anti-slavery bill. They are going to vote this into oblivion too. People can try to take the Matariki holiday off if they can next year. The bill needs some work though. It should go to committee for that.

    Bennett MUST be fired (no place for Big Sister)

    Bennett stands by actions on benefits
    Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is under pressure to release details of her income as a beneficiary after she revealed the benefit payments of two women critical of Government policy. Bennett, a former solo mother and beneficiary, yesterday refused to apologise to Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston, whose income details she released after they attacked her decision to axe an assistance allowance to help beneficiaries into tertiary study. Bennett authorised the release of information showing Fuller [and Johnston's DPB weekly payments and other WINZ assistance]

    It is disgusting that she is still in her position as Minster of Social Development. Bennett’s outrageous misuse of power to publish the personal details of two beneficiaries who complained about cost cutting of a benefit Paula herself used when she was a solo mum at uni is so utterly wrong it is difficult to see how she’s still in her role.

    For those on the right bleating that these beneficiaries are earning more than them – shut up! What you small minded clowns don’t get is that these woman have received their benefit legally, there is no suggestion they are illegally getting that money, ask the 1000 NZers now hitting the dole each week how ‘easy’ it is to get benefits – it isn’t, if you have them you’ve bloody well earnt them. To smokescreen this blatant misuse of power by Paula by screaming these beneficiaries are earning more than the national average is just so small minded, only the very stupid would sink the debate to that level. And would those from the right who are using this attack line be happy with any Minister detailing their personal details if they complain about any Government policy they don’t like?

    The irony is that these women wanted to train to get off the bloody benefit, yet the Minister is crucifying them as bludgers and giving them the bash for daring to question National’s slash and burn policy.

    Bennett said in the House yesterday that she had sort her advice on ‘implied consent’ on the Privacy website, as my co-blogger clearly pointed out, there is nothing on the Privacy Website that says anything about ‘implied consent’. She has clearly been caught out lying!
    This is such an obscenity.

    BTW – Christ isn’t Close Up pathetic, last night John Campbell’s hammering of Paula Bennett compared to the Walrus of News’s weak handshake of an interview reminded me how bloody good John is when he’s allowed to break the lifestyle magazine show for Parnell Housewives format of Campbell Live and gets to do politics. Well done Mr Campbell.

    Big Sister has to go.

    Nick Smith lied about the cost of cutting emissions (where is the mainstream media?)

    What a week huh? To many NZers horror the privatization agenda National have worked so hard to hide reared it’s ugly head as a reality, Paula Bennett punished beneficiaries by publishing all their details in the media and Nick Smith lied through his teeth over the cost of emissions. Perhaps this hasn’t caught up with our friends in the mainstream media because Paula’s unprecedented manipulation of information to destroy two beneficiaries eclipses even Nick’s outright manipulation of the facts.

    NZ leads in emissions rise
    New Zealand's fossil-fuel emissions have soared by 72 per cent since 1990, the biggest jump in the developed world. Environmentalists fear the massive rise will threaten the country's "clean, green" image. Figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA) show global carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion grew 33 per cent between 1990 and 2006. Over the same period, Australia's emissions grew 52 per cent and the United States' rose 17 per cent, while Britain's dropped by 3 per cent. However, the Ministry of Economic Development, which provided data to the IEA, said New Zealand's figure was smaller. IEA figures state New Zealand's 37 tonnes of carbon-equivalent emissions in 2006, up from 21 tonnes in 1990, was 0.17 per cent of the world's total, compared with energy powerhouses the US (5697 tonnes) and China (5649 tonnes). However, environmentalists said the report could harm the country's reputation.

    Now Kiwiblogh and other National Party mouthpieces were breathlessly quick to tell NZ that Nicks claims of how much it would cost the poor little kiwi battler to cut back on our emissions standards yet it turned out that Nick Smith was lying through his teeth and that the ‘consultation’ process was greenwash because National had already made up their mind to let big polluters get away with it.

    From Keith Ng’s devastating critique of Nick Smith’s mishandling of the cost information

    When the report said that "40%" would cost $15b, it meant that if our carbon credit allocations were reduced by 40%, and our emissions level was unchanged, then it could cost New Zealand the equivalent of $15b.

    So the cost that Smith talks about is categorically NOT the cost of cutting New Zealand's emissions.

    It is the opposite. It is the cost that New Zealand could face if we DON'T cut our emissions. Every unit of emission that we reduce now is a unit that come off this "$15 billion" price tag that Smith talks about.

    Of course, the "$15 billion" was the worst-case-scenario. It's not outlandish, but it's definitely on the high end. But since Smith thought it was a reasonable enough scenario to use for his own ends, I'm happy to hold him to it:

    According to the analysis that Nick Smith has been waving around, if we keep to the current emissions trends, it will cost us $15b per year – or $60 per person per week – by 2020.

    Of course, cutting emissions will cost money too. But it'll be offset by the reduction in the carbon credits we have to purchase. That's the whole point of an emissions trading system.

    That Smith managed to get it so spectacularly wrong is either gross dishonesty, or an abject failure in reading. Either way: SPANK!

    Hide’s Privatization agenda rolls on

    Hide tips less consultation
    Councils would operate more efficiently with less compulsory public consultation, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says. The ACT leader told delegates at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch yesterday that mandatory consultation was often overdone. He said his officials were looking at ways of reducing the amount of consultation and at simplifying the 10-year council plan process. Hide had been warned of a stormy reception from some delegates, and he was accused at the conference of bullying and bulldozing through local government reforms.

    Hide want’s LESS consultation under local council’s and he’ll certainly get it. With his TABOR plans to strangle public spending forever using his bully tactics to ram through a hard right agenda.

    Rodney hide is using the changes to the Super City as a blueprint for a massive privatization agenda in the National/ACT second term, what Rodney is trying to push here is a mini version of the TABOR deal ACT quietly slipped into their agreement with National. TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) is hard right ratchet legislation that aims to structurally collapse public spending so much so that private companies start to take over from ill funded public spending, the result of TABOR has been disastrous for Colorado as Gordon Campbell from Scoop has pointed out…

    In sum, New Zealand is about to adopt as an instrument of restraint on government spending, a measure known to have already caused havoc, division and shortfalls in public service provision in its state of origin. The detailed evidence of TABOR’s flaws is contained in this extensive Bell Policy Center Report

    So how do the TABOR mechanisms actually work ? As in Colorado, the measures Hide has been proposing would limit the growth rate of the revenues that government can collect and spend, and allow them to be adjusted upwards only to compensate for inflation and population growth, and nothing else. Not wage increases, or a desire to improve services. If revenues exceed the prior year’s allocation, this is returned to taxpayers as a rebate.

    Crucially, the measure has a rachet down effect on public services. During boom times, central and local governments are prevented from using the higher revenues to expand or to improve public services, or to save for a rainy day. Moreover, because revenues will fall during a recession, the year-to-year measurement will mean that the new base for determining spending growth will become the low revenue point created by the recession. Hence, the TABOR approach renders permanent any cuts to public services that are imposed during bad years.

    …what Rodney is trying to do is structurally change the way Public money can be spent on cultural, environmental and social budgets in such a radical way that underfunding ultimately collapses those services forcing councils and Government to hire private companies to take on those social services, thus privatizing them forever. Rodney needs a dry run example in the works before he tries it on with the National assets making his manipulations over the supercity a blueprint for his privatization agenda. By changing the way public money can be spent, Hide is crippling the tools given those elected to fund the concerns of society and it’s all being done at such break neck speed that the Media can’t keep up and debate the consequences of such radical right wing legislation.

    NZ – you are being conned and a coup against the spirit of public service is underway. The results of this won’t dawn on people until the changes have been made and NZers realize what the right have done by crippling the ability to spend public money on public services only when those public services dry up and die.

    Privatization of citizenship (the continental shelf is next)

    Rules eased for rich migrants
    Rich immigrants are to face fewer hurdles under new rules that slash the amount they have to invest and relax the existing English language test. Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said yesterday that the changes were designed to attract business people after a dropoff since 2005 "due to unrealistic investment expectations and English language requirements". Under a new "investor plus" category, immigrants who invested $10 million for three years would not be required to have business experience or speak English. Under the previous equivalent rules, they were required to invest $20m for four years and have four years' business experience, though they did not have to meet an English language standard. There will be no cap on the number who can qualify for residency in the $10m category.

    On the heels of National’s plan to open the country up to be bought by more foreign corporations, John Key and his privatization mates are at it again - Privatizing citizenship . For only $3 million a year for 3 years, the elite of the planet can buy residency into NZ, shocked? You shouldn’t be, I think NZers are now ‘getting’ what National really stand for now – one rule for the rich and one rule for the poor. How completely unacceptable., how completely National.

    How is that change feeling NZ? Watching National strip our country of assets for foriegn corporations and selling our citizenship to the rich - it's only been 8 months, loving that change yet? I'm betting if you voted Labour in 2005 and voted National in 2008 you'll be choking.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Paula Bennett: unorthodox departure

    I've just seen a clip from the news walrus show after One News where they empathise together - Sainsbury flapping around in front of a live cross to Bennett as she makes pronouncements standing outside parliament directed to the welfare beneficiaries of the country (which I guess includes most taxpayers these days if you include WFF, Pensions, ACC etc.) that if you go public, "if you take it public" is how I think she put it, you can expect to have all your confidential material made public. Like it's Fair Go - in reverse. The Minister will dob you in to the media when you complain. Quite extraordinary. She has to go.

    Does this apply to the beneficiary class alone? Or does this apply to all people in a financial relationship with the Crown? Contractors, employees, officials, companies, directors? These will be the questions now. Who is and is not safe and what is and what is not the standard?

    "But the Minister says it was OK" - is not a defence to the shameful media who have published this confidential information. They have no right to do so. They ought to be sued. As should the Minister.

    And the Minister's defence, in turn, can't be - "I've got the right to order officials to dig up whatever confidential information my department has on any of my enemies and those who "go public," and I've got a right to get the media to publish that confidential information - all for the purposes of discrediting them." That's what Bennett's defence amounts to and that's Muldoonist bullshit, it's Nixon bullshit, it's J Edgar Hoover bullshit. John Key cannot stand by that standard and neither can the senior Cabinet Ministers, they can't.

    The morning starts off with Bennett "getting tough" (from the NZ Herald) but by the evening it's "won't apologise" and calls for her to be disciplined.

    She assured the House this afternoon that she "took steps" that she got advice and that she saw from the Privacy Commissioner's website that she thought she could claim a case of what she said was "implied consent." I couldn't find any such advice on that website.

    The information she ordered her staff to give to the media was never hers to give in the first place of course - it is a misuse of a department's files.

    She was trying to back away from her claim she consulted the Privacy Commissioner's website - on Campbell Live tonight too. John asked all the right questions - questions Mallard (or whoever) may be extracting from her tomorrow in parliament. What part of the website did you look at? - that was a good one, one many of us were asking ourselves today (see update in post below). She started to equivocate and was visibly trying to piece the jigsaw of her supposed actions together in her head so that she will not be caught out misleading the House. She didn't do a good enough job. She took the risk of a John Campbell interview and it left her position even more precarious. The grounds for what she did in her own mind are now eroding too perhaps.

    Who did you seek advice from? "Officials" she said, officials in her office - although she did at one stage refer to "the office" as though perhaps her computer had given her advice. She was much less certain about whether she looked at the Privacy Commissioner's website like she claimed in parliament this afternoon that's for sure.

    Like maybe she saw something with that website information on it, like maybe she viewed a document, like maybe an official gave her something that she sighted and approved - in this case we will want to see that document. Bloggers with pseudonyms are probably filing OIA applications as I type. If she did not consult the website over "implied consent" like she says then she has misled the House and that is a case of discipline - from the House as a matter of privilege, and from the PM (as the one in charge of accounting for the fitness and judgement of holders of Ministerial warrants).

    This is a sacking offence - though not an automatic one - there are at least two defences she could call on. Oh, real defences - not made up ones like "implied consent" - which sounds like some bullshit Weatherston thing a rapist might try on in Court. But these two main legitimate defences seemed to be blocked:

  • Parliamentary Privilege : She hasn't tabled any documents or had the nerve to give out someone's personal information in parliament. And if she did try to table it - it would be blocked. So that defence is not possible even if it was relevant.

  • Public interest: But only if over-riding and of national or immediate importance. The furtherance of a petty political dispute, and an intensely personal one, comes nowhere near that threshold. A reasonable person, certainly an MP, cannot condone the unauthorised release of private and confidential information held by a state agency - certainly not to further a routine political spat and certainly not when it has such dire implications for both a citizen's ability to participate in open political debate without the fear of governmental repercussions and a general threat that now exists for everyone having any sort of record with any department may now be released as "public."

  • Royal Prerogative: The only other defence I can think of for the action (see image at top). And that is crazy.

    Her flimsy story is looking cooked. The Standard, begins building the case:

  • Unrepentant Bennett must resign or no confidence in Govt [UPDATE]

    [UPDATE-- 3:30PM: Question Time in parliament this afternoon put the Minister on the spot. She tried, with Gerry Brownlee running interference throughout, to avoid giving a substantive answer to the question as to what possible defence she was offering for getting her ministry to release confidential information about her political detractors to the media...

    All she would say is that she consulted the Privacy Commissioner's website about "implied consent" and said that the two people involved (seemingly by complaining about the government's policies) had in her mind implied their consent!? An answer as ridiculous as it is lacking in foundation. The answer she was trying to step out of - and did - was whether other Ministers were involved in getting her to take this course of action. But if you go to the website that she is leading people to believe was the only source she used to form her opinion as to what she was doing was proper or not we get...Where is it? "Implied consent" - very hard to find any reference to it on the site she supposedly consulted. Nothing relevant here. And yet somehow she found something to say it was OK... really? Why didn't she check Limits on disclosure of personal information instead? If she read that she would find nothing whatsoever about "implied" anything.

    And then she had the nerve to end on a patronising note about one day a beneficiary (like she was) one day "may even be a Cabinet minister". What is the word for the person that exhibits that sort of behaviour? I can think of a few.

    Unbelievable. On the day she should have resigned she makes that statement - gloating effectively that she is still a Cabinet Minister! There can be no confidence in this Minister - and because she is protected by the Cabinet and her Party colleagues there can be no confidence in the entire Ministry while she goes unpunished.

    Why provide any government agency with information if it can be used on a whim and without any repercussion against you/made public as an act of political revenge by Ministers of the Crown? This is the new reality now. It is totally unacceptable.Some people just don't get it. It's not about the benefit - it's about every person who has any confidential information held by the government having the right to have that information protected. You don't give up that right by complaining about the government!

    To a right winger the class of person someone is (and specifically their financial dependency on the state) is a relevant consideration to whether or not they ought to have the protection of the law. What they don't seem to understand is that when we defend the rights of these beneficiaries we are also defending the rights of the right wingers to their privacy as regards all their dealings with the state too. But for them it's a matter of class and of privilege. Those right wingers who think it is acceptable to do this to these people deserve all their private dealings with every government agency released to the media. You whinge the Herald gets a fax from the IRD, MSD, Courts, Police, DHB etc, etc. Is that fair? --UPDATE ENDS]Paula Bennett must resign. She must. A Minister cannot order their department to furnish them with the personal details of their political detractors for the purpose of then breaching their privacy and scoring political points using that confidential information. And a Minister most certainly cannot then release those personal, private details to the public. The only valid reason would be an overwhelming case that the information passed to the Minister had an over-riding "public interest" in being released. That simply is not the case here - there is no legitimate public interest in knowing the benefit details and income of this Minister's political enemies.
    She could have made the same point she seeks to make by giving hypothetical examples - not the actual cases themselves. That was a step too far and it must be met with a strong rebuke and loss of office. The Minister's tactic this morning of pretending it's some sort of normal practice tells us that the Nat's have not got a handle on this. Are they intending to run this line at 2pm during question time in Parliament?

    They seem to think that a couple of lowly beneficiaries having their financial details with a government department released to the media is not going to have repercussions... wrong. That standard must be applied to everyone else having any sort of financial relationship with the State. Well... those that the National government don't like. They are mistaken - totally mistaken on the scope of this breach. The category of person that the National government thinks should not have any privacy rights - at this moment in time - are hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries.

    But the question - at this moment in time - is what other categories of person does this new rule apply? Unhappy contractors? State employees in wage disputes? Patients complaining about a DHB? It's a very long list.

    You start at a couple of "whinging dole-bludgers" as a target, but if consistency and principles mean anything it will also apply to every person having any sort of connexion with the government; which via taxes and assistance programmes, pensions, contracts etc. is a vast majority of the population. Complaining about your tax situation... and you don't like Peter Dunne... is it now OK for Peter Dunne to release your tax records to the NZ Herald? This is the new standard if Bennett remains.

    The PM cannot condone that - the precedent would destroy more credibility in the NZ Government itself than losing/demoting Bennett would do to the National Ministry. If the PM or senior ministers try to defend this there will be no confidence in the government.

    I just heard her on the radio saying it was done "in the interests of fairness." !? It was done to score political points. There is no option now but to resign from the Ministry, or at the very least accept a heavy demotion in lieu of a sacking. But at the moment they seem to be closing ranks. It's a mistake. She's made a terrible blunder - a precedent that should not be set. Her fellow ministers cannot condone this and they cannot defend it.

    Goff ought to be firing all cannons this afternoon, but no doubt the Nats will use his leaking of Don's "gone by lunchtime" comment (when Goff was Foreign Minister) that was a breach of his privacy for which Goff claimed - with much success - was of public interest and was right to be revealed. But these cases are miles apart - this is the little guy versus the Minister, not top-level political intrigue.

    This is Goff's chance to put the "millionaire beneficiary" case of last week behind him too. However much more is at stake this afternoon than ephemeral politics.

    [UPDATE: And David Farrar will apparently not mind his financial relationship with Parliamentary Services and the government being released to the media then...One rule for them... --UPDATE ENDS].

    Paula Bennett becomes Big Sister

    Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums
    Details of state benefits received by two solo mothers have been made public by the Government after the pair criticised cutbacks to a training allowance. Staff from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's office gave the Herald a tally of each woman's weekly income from the state - including benefits and other allowances - after the women spoke out in the Herald on Sunday and Labour used their stories in Parliament last week. The details were handed over without the knowledge of the mothers, Jennifer Johnston and Natasha Fuller.

    The message is clear, anyone who dares question the Government’s slash and burn of social welfare will get dealt to by Big Sister, especially if it points out that Big Sister benefited from the very benefit she is slashing.

    REMEMBER - Big Sister loves you

    Bomber's Blog - the war on news - on tonight 9.30pm

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    Paul Henry interviewing Helen Clark at the UN

    Hands up who thinks the decision to send former National Party candidate Paul Henry to interview Helen Clark at the UN is like sending Bill O’Reilly to MC Barack Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony? Paul Henry has attacked Helen Clark and denigrated the UN more than the Exclusive Brethren, Leighton Smith and the Aryan Nation combined. What’s more believable, Paul Henry’s sincerity at congratulating Helen Clark on her UN appointment or Clayton Weatherston’s defense of provocation?