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Monday, February 28, 2011

John Key to rebuild Christchurch with smiles and waves?!?!?

Christchurch earthquake: Damage could treble commission levies
Prime Minister John Key indicated last night that Earthquake Commission levies could triple because of the damage caused by the Christchurch earthquake.

What? Let's get this straight, John Key will not do as the Greens have sensibly suggested and introduce a levy on the most wealthy NZers - the ONLY NZers who have benefitted from his tax cuts to rebuild Christchurch, he is instead going to pointlessly lift the EQC levies? Hold on, we've had less than half a dozen major urban earthquakes in NZ, the EQC will be replenished by 2025, why triple those rates?

John Key's desire to push ahead with pointless motorway expansions that are questionable in the best of times now seem ludicrous when the Libyan oil spike is factored in, who the bloody hell is going to afford to drive on these pointless motorways? Surely that cash can be better spent in Christchurch?

It seems John is going to rely on smiling and waving on Letterman and Oprah to take foreign aid, which let's be blunt, deserves to go to much more less developed places around the world than NZ when we have barely asked the most wealthy to do a thing.

The PM does realize how serious the quake is right? Dump the dumb Auckland motorways, stop bludging from the international community and make those who have benefitted most from his tax cuts push their hand a little deeper into their own pockets.

Christchurch needs more than this, and dammit, they deserve better than this!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Acts of God, acts of Capitalism and a new left Party

Do you feel it New Zealand? That outpouring of compassion, solidarity and altruism? The pain and grief and terror of the Christchurch earthquake has triggered something in our national psyche deeper than the mere immediacy of assistance, it has reminded us in blunt terms broadcast by a media as shell shocked as those suffering of the fragility of our existence and that despite the hyper consumer culture mantra of 'individual uber alles', we are in fact utterly interconnected and are in all of this together.

Our concept as to who we are as a nation has previously been forged on beaches in war far from our shores, or projected on rugby fields of sporting glory. Now in our darkest hour our humble resilience in the face of such disaster is our new binding spirit and national identity.

The Government's desire to offer aid to our whanau in Christchurch is just, but why should acts of God be different from acts of capitalism? Hours before the quake, the ideologically stacked welfare razor gang were announcing their crippling of the welfare state, I have one question for John in the wake of that report, how does a solo mother in Christchurch find work once her child turns 3 now Mr Key?

Anthony Hubbard in the Sunday Star Times today compares the outpouring of compassion for an act of God with the lack of it from the ideologically stacked welfare razor gang over acts of capitalism...

Behind all this is a certain view of beneficiaries: the working group has an "imagined community" that it is dealing with. And the strong impression it gives is that this is a community of skivers. It won't do just to support these people and make it easier for them to work. Some of them will need the lash, even if it lands on their kids' backs as well as their own.

The group seems to think that the benefit provides a resting place – especially the invalid and sickness benefits – and that those who get it must be tipped off. No doubt there are a tiny number of bludgers. For most, life on the benefit is a bleak and even wretched business, and it doesn't need to be made any bleaker.

The earthquake brought us together and reminded us of our natural solidarity. It reminded us of the virtues and even necessity of altruism and sympathy.

You will find no such vision in this narrow, pinched, and divisive document.

Our Economy has been hit by a technical double dip recession, the Christchurch economy has been devastated by this dreadful earthquake, the investment and imagination required to rebuild our dear Southern city demands a level of Government assistance that will need to be replicated throughout NZ as the economic impact of what has happened makes the recession deepen.

In the dark, the hope is that the latest technology innovation can seed a new city on environmentally sustainable foundations with the most creative thinking for urban design explored rather than the shopping mall abomination Bob Parker and his developer mates were conjuring up in the wake of the last big earthquake.

The ever brilliant Rod Oram in today's Sunday Star Times...

Thus the earthquakes are an extraordinary opportunity to achieve those goals in the centre of Christchurch, thereby greatly improving the whole urban area.

Christchurch will remain its very attractive self, in character and defining factors such as its historic street grid. But it will find new expressions of those, which will be uniquely right for it, and appropriate for the new global reality. In doing so, Christchurch will become truly sustainable. It will make resilient its presence on the Canterbury plain, it will greatly enhance its economy, and it will lift the spirit of its people. This is not the task of the city. It is the task of the nation.

During this spirit of compassion and solidarity in a moment of National grief and shock launches the possibility of a new political party, as Matt McCarten explains in today's Herald on Sunday...

Harawira now has a safe seat and will be returned in November. For the rest of the year he will run a campaign against the seabed and foreshore changes.

But more threatening to the status quo is that he will run parallel campaigns against low wages, so-called welfare reform, mining, GST and privatisation.

These issues will mobilise support among Maori and non-Maori working class.

You can say what you like about Harawira, but no one doubts his sincerity when it comes to fighting for the poor. This is a constituency screaming out for a staunch champion. In Harawira they'll get one. Harawira will target these voters for their party list vote.

The Maori Party, on the other hand, needs to win back its four current electorate seats to be relevant. On current polling, Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makarau and Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga are goners and the party won't get any party list seats. The likely outcome is them hanging on to just two seats.

I suspect Harawira's new party will get one to three seats from his party list in addition to his own. As a consequence, even if the Maori Party leadership stuck with National after the election they would be neutralised by Harawira if he got other MPs in with him. Hell would freeze over before Harawira went with National.

But if that's disastrous for National, it gets worse. That's because for Sharples and Katene to keep their seats, they will need Harawira to ask his supporters to vote for them. What's the price of that? The Maori Party endorsing Harawira's party list? Meeting together after election day to agree on a joint negotiation with either National or Labour?

Imagine this scenario: the Maori Party is able to keep its four seats and Harawira picks up 2.5 per cent, as well as his own seat. That makes seven seats in all - two more than they had at the last election.

Given that the Maori seats will overwhelmingly support Labour on the party vote, it's quite possible all seven MPs will back a Labour-led government as part of a joint negotiation strategy.

This quake and the compassion it has brought up in us reminds us of our interconnectedness, it reminds us that we are a collective despite the hyper consumer cult of me first and the gimmie, gimmies and that those requiring help are all of us at one time or another.

Selfishness as a virtue is not a social policy worth pursuing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the taking of hints

Many have attributed their survival to "God", but all the death and destruction has uniformly been attributed to "nature". The bewildered Very Reverend Peter Beck, Dean of the collapsed Christchurch Cathedral, exclaimed "God only knows!" to a TV reporter immediately after the event. Maybe He does...
As the Book of Revelation so often repeats: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

I don't need Tom Hanks in hushed tones, in candle light, to translate it from the Hebrew to convince me that something biblical is playing out here. I don't need the blamers of the sodomites to add a biblical flourish to what has occurred (it is far more likely that the idolatory and vehemence of the Christians themselves has brought this upon the city of Christ than any specific form of fornication). I don't have to be convinced that rocks raining from the hills, the earth swallowing things up, the temples falling, people killed en mass, and a coming plague of ill health and suffering upon the rest of the population is biblical.

The 'Spirit' has destroyed the city named after Jesus Christ and his place of worship. The first warning of September 4th was followed by another after-shock and then, last Tuesday, a devastating quake occured. That's the third warning. Someone's dropping some pretty big hints that it is game over for Chch. It is time to flee this accursed Babylon:

Rev. 6:12-17 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

And as for the 144,000 left standing (Rev. 7:4) - that may well be Christchurch's population after this is over.

So the bad news is we're up to seal 6 of 7, good news is the seventh seal has another 7 sequences of events, before we get to the point where people don't feel the need to live in a city of temples, Rev. 21:22 "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it."

The part of Canterbury that Christchurch sits on is a river flood plain - thus the liquefaction. The Waimakiriri has swept through the town before in its early years of settlement and may do so again. It is highly unstable - is it also unsustainable? The resources of the nation are being marshalled into the resurrection of Christchurch, but is this the best investment for the sacrifices that the rest of the country will be forced to endure in order to complete it? Will we be throwing good money after bad in our efforts to thwart a power we cannot know or command?

Rev. 21:3-6 "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.:

Some serious assessments need to be made on the long-term viability considering six months later it is more unsettled than before.

In the short term the victims need to be formally farewelled. I note there is a World Day of Prayer on Friday 4th March - that's ten days since the quake. A majority of the bodies may have been recovered at that point. I have no clue what is organised, but I would recommend all the caskets be layed out in Cathedral Square on Friday morning with people (relatives of the victims first) able to file past along Colombo St. through the middle of the destruction - and sign condolence books in front of the Cathedral ruins (to give them a time to reflect in view of the caskets). I imagine speeches and so on could be conducted in an ecumenical fashion either at dawn or perhaps coinciding with a (inter)national minute of silence at 12:51pm. Then the bodies can be released for funerals/tangi/flown overseas that night, or on Saturday. There must be a national point of closure on the human tragedy once a majority of the dead are recovered.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Julian Assange can be extradited

Judge says WikiLeaks' Assange can be extradited
Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden in a sex crimes inquiry, a British judge ruled overnight (NZ time), rejecting claims by the WikiLeaks founder that he would not face a fair trial there.

Assange's lawyer said he would appeal.

When you consider the dirty filthy lengths Bank of America has gone to frame wikileaks...

Bank of America's ill considered cyber war against the hacking non-group Anonymous (who have sided with wikileaks in their desire to keep the internet free of corporate intervention) has to be this years best private sector blowbacks.

The data intelligence firms Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies, have all begged Anonymous for forgiveness after they helped to concoct a plan for a coordinated cyber assault against Wikileaks to plant false information about Bank of America so Bank of America could attack it's own disinformation campaign and smokescreen any real criticism of their leaked secrets.

The plan was revealed after members of "Anonymous" hacked the email account of HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr and published its contents of their plans to lie and manipulate disinformation for Bank of America onto the web.

The presentation recommends a multi-pronged assault on WikiLeaks including deliberately submitting false documents to the website to undermine its credibility, pioneering cyber attacks to expose who the leakers to WikiLeaks are and going after sympathetic journalists.

One of those mentioned is Glenn Greenwald, a pro-WikiLeaks reporter in the US. Writing on Salon.com, Greenwald said his initial reaction to was "to scoff at its absurdity".

"But after learning a lot more over the last couple of days," he added, "I now take this more seriously - not in terms of my involvement but the broader implications this story highlights. For one thing, it turns out that the firms involved are large, legitimate and serious, and do substantial amounts of work for both the US Government and the nation's largest private corporations."

...how far will America go to get Assange? Hello CIA rendition.

Julian Assange 0
Matrix 1

The Christchurch Earthquake reality

And now as the shock and adrenaline wears off, the grim reality.

No new rescues since Wednesday. 103 officially dead, 228 still missing. The cost is estimated to be up to $16 billion and the 4 avenues CBD look like it will have to be demolished.

How does Christchurch, our second biggest city, come back from this? In the medium term, the psychological impact alone would have many deciding that this is the moment to leave Christchurch for good, NZ has to prepare for what may be one of our largest internal exoduses, how can the rest of the country deal with such population pressures? The economy which was in a double dip recession last year will take an even bigger hit as our second largest city has it's economy grind to a halt coupled with the massive cost alongside the losses.

This earthquake that has cost our dear city of Christchurch so terribly has ramifications that will resound deeply around our country in a way unlike any other moment has.

Our concept as to who we are as a nation has previously been forged on beaches in war far from our shores, or projected on rugby fields of sporting glory. Now in our darkest hour our humble resilience and solidarity in the face of such disaster is our new binding spirit and national identity.

Kia Kaha beautiful NZ, Kia Kaha.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake the fault of lesbians

It is disgusting in this day and age that any evangelical Christian would even attempt to claim this dreadful earthquake has anything to do with God angry at Lesbians...

And Whaleoil points out another case of Max Legg, Senior Minister of Victory Church in Auckland who sent an email to all MP's...

However, I do believe this Quake is a sign also to all New Zealanders, that the Nation as a whole has to wake– up to serious mistakes along the way.

Often these kind of acts, (eg.Quakes) are outside man’s control, and are warnings to tell us we are going off track.

NZ can not go on murdering 18,000 unborn children, Undermining the God given authority of parents to discipline their children, Legalising prostitution , homosexual unions,( in kind to marriage), allowing youngsters to easily have access to alcohol, allowing repeat offenders to drive and kill.

The punishments are not match ing the crime, and on and on the list goes. These acts bring a curse on the Nation.

These people do not represent God, or Christians any more than Muslim terrorists represent Islam, they represent the sad lack of science being taught in our classrooms.

Citizen A - 7pm tonight

Citizen A - 7pm tonight Triangle TV, replayed 8pm Sunday Stratos Sky 89 & Freeview 21

Tune in to join Bomber and his revolving panel of bloggers and Auckland opinion shapers as they offer an up-to-date half hour review of the political media issues of the current week from a very Auckland perspective.

THIS WEEK: Phoebe Fletcher and that awful Cameron Slater...

Issue one:
It's the story that dominated the week, the Christchurch earthquake IS New Zealand's worst natural disaster with scores officially dead, hundreds missing, hundreds injured and costs of up to $16billion. Beyond the shock and condolences, how does Christchurch come back from this , how does NZ come back from this and what did panelists think of the media coverage?

Issue two: On any other week, the Welfare Working groups recommendations to radically change the Welfare State would have dominated news, but hours after its announcement, Christchurch was devastated. What are the impacts of the largest redesign of the NZ Welfare state since it's formation in 1938.

Issue three tonight: Again, on any other week it would have been the top political story, Hone Harawira and the Maori Party have cut a deal allowing Hone to be an independent or start a new party free without challenge to his electorate and he won't run anyone in their electorates. What are the ramifications to this deal?

Join Citizen A Facebook group

DON'T FORGET: Citizen A Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern Debate 31st March - Stratos available to all on Freeview from 1st March

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Breaking News - Hone and Maori Party split

Harawira quits Maori Party
BREAKING NEWS: Hone Harawira has quit the Maori Party and cut a deal to protect his hold on the Tai Tokerau seat at this year's election.

In a joint statement released after the Maori Party council finished its hearing today, Harawira and Maori Party president Pem Bird said neither wanted to see the party "destroyed by in-fighting".

"We have come to the point where it is agreed it would be best for myself [Harawira] and the Maori Party to part ways and focus on issues," the statement said.

Harawira would continue to serve as the Tai Tokerau MP and would stand at this year's election as an independent MP or as a member of another party.

The frantic behind the scenes deal that has been ongoing for some time has finally been cut, the Maori Party will not stand against Hone, Hone won't stand anyone against them in any of their Maori electorates, the options are now open for Hone to decide if he can best stop this anti-beneficary, anti-environment, anti-worker Government hell bent on crippling the Welfare State and privatizing our assets as an Independent or as a New Left Party.

While the right wing hate speech blogosphere have rushed to praise Chris Trotter in his recent blog critiquing my thoughts on a New Left Party, I'd like to perhaps remind Chris of his own words when writing about Matt's candidacy in Mana...

"Maybe that's what you should ask the Mana electors, Matt. To stop looking over their shoulder at Labour. Could be your slogan: 'Vote - as if you were free'."

...that's exactly what is being attempted by exploring the possibility of a New Left Party that would alter the MMP math in Parliament to stop a Government wanting to punish society's most vulnerable, vote as if we were free.

The reality is that the Greens, Labour and the political left need better allies than Winston Peters.

The voter support needed for differing numbers of seats in 2008 are as follows (that is, a new party a single electorate seat)

1 seat (i.e. no list seats, but avoiding causing overhang): 9160 votes (0.39%)
2 seats (i.e. electorate and one list): 27,815 votes (1.19%)
3 seats: 46,611 votes (1.99%)
4 seats: 65,626 votes (2.80%)
5 seats: 85,411 votes (3.64%)
6 seats: 104,496 votes (4.46%)

This truce allows the Maori Party and Hone to work together past the election if the numbers stack up to change the Government. In an election that could go down to the wire, 3 extra MP's to the left could be the difference between forming a Government and not forming one.

ACT is facing rumbles of a new Right Wing Party in Epsom, while they could never beat Rodney, they could certainly deplete his majority enough for the National candidate to win. Even if Rodney does win Epsom, he won't be bringing an extra 4 MPs with him, the 3.6% they scored in 2008 was with the backing of the Sensible Sentencing Trust and that political brand is poison after the hypocrisy of Garrett.

Dunne could lose to Chauvel, especially with so many public service job cut backs, and NZ First with their 3 big policies aimed at National Party rump vote are hoping they can become the National Party protest vote and get over the 5% threshold to hold the balance of power. Key ruling Winston out however is unlikely to convince die hard National supporters to protest, especially with Key's beautifully timed bennie bash to keep those rump National Party voters content with raw meat welfare policy to chew over.

The big question is can John Key get National 47%, the number that would allow them to govern alone. It's a higher percentage than his 2008 high tide mark, which would be hard but not impossible. Key could get 47% if the economy gets better, but if petrol prices start causing major inflationary pressures alongside the cost of food, minimum wage earners and those on the benefit (who are already on the welfare chopping block) are going to get angry. That political anger could find representation with a New Left Party.

The shock of Christchurch means these political machinations will go unnoticed, but this deal between the Maori Party and Hone not to run against each other could be the biggest unseen political ripple of the year.

Hone v. Te Ururoa

The disciplinary committee released a statement yesterday and has recommended expelling Hone Harawira from his party:

The Committee is required by clause 11.3 of the Māori Party constitution to “act swiftly” to seek resolution of the complaint, in accordance with the kaupapa of the Māori Party and its constitution.

Accordingly, with great sadness, and after many hours of deliberation, a quorum of the Committee resolved unanimously that the complaint was not resolved at the hearing or at any of the previous hearings, and that there did not appear to be any way of resolving the complaint besides cancelling Mr Harawira’s membership of the Māori Party.

Under clause 3.7 of the Māori Party Constitution, the Māori Party National Council is the only body capable of taking a decision to cancel Party membership. The Committee has therefore referred the complaint back to the Māori Party National Council, together with a full report of its resolution.

The Chair of the Committee will be briefing the National Council when it meets on Wednesday and go through all of the responses and evidence submitted by the parties. But Te Orohi Paul [Disciplinary chair] will not vote at the National Council.

The complainant has been advised of the outcome, as required by clause 11.4 of the Māori Party Constitution. Mr Harawira has also been advised of the outcome.

Hone didn't help his case when he went on TV, he didn't help his case when he avoided a hui at which he was expected; but he is not the only one playing games here. The National Council is due to do the deed today; I'm not sure if the Christchurch earthquake is going to change that timeline.

With the hierarchy aligned against him (and Hone's inability in his situation to mobilise the flax roots national membership effectively to rally to him) it's a fait accompli - he's gone. I doubt the executive have considered properly what the next move is though.

The Tai Tokerau electorate branches will remain staunchly behind Hone and there seems little likelihood a Maori Party candidate running against Hone would win - they would probably come third behind the Labour candidate and it would be hugely embarrassing. With a wholesale defection to the new organisation that Hone will be forced to form the Maori Party up North will be gutted and the party vote will show that come November.

If Hone forms a party that stands in the other Maori electorates then Labour could come through on the split vote quite easily in Te Tai Tonga and probably take out Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau (that will let Shane Jones in), and Te Ururoa Flavell's Waiariki electorate will be highly marginal (as he will quite rightfully be blamed for the split). Perhaps only Tariana will survive - and with the party vote dropping from two and a half to maybe 1.5% there may only be two Maori Party MPs in the next parliament. That's all if Hone's party stands in those electorates.

I have suggested in an earlier post that an accommodation ought to be found between the two forces in order to preserve the electoral chances of both Hone and the Maori Party and therefore maximise the kaupapa Maori representation. The pact would exist for this election only: the Maori Party agrees not to stand in Te Tai Tokerau and Hone's party agrees not to stand in the other Maori electorates (or perhaps just not in the ones where his colleagues hold their seats). If these things are not done the Maori Party may well destroy itself and Labour will creep back in.

As for the disciplinary process and the way Hone's internecine assassination has been conducted it has been a messy spectacle with no discernable winners. Te Ururoa Flavell - the exasperated whip who was compelled to officially complain after Hone went too far in a Sunday paper article - has done himself few favours. His motivation to expell Hone is conflicted because he is the major beneficiary of his demise: he will be the next male leader now that he has gotten rid of Hone. This clash of egos and career ambitions has been underplayed by the media who have not recognised that this is a leadership dispute between the two men. Te Ururoa's way of winning that dispute has undermined unity more than ignoring it would have done and he may well end up the leader - but of a diminished party having given rise to a movement that may destroy it completely in the long term.

While I have sympathy for Te Ururoa's initial actions his hatred of Hone has gotten the better of him and leaking documents to the NZ Herald, as he did, makes him look a hypocrite. A hypocrite and a bully with a personal agenda. The President says Hone isn't allowed to talk to the media about it and nor is anyone else, and yet here is Te Ururoa launching a smear campaign via the Herald - and he gets away with it? Where is Te Ururoa's displinary hearing? One rule for Hone, a lesser rule for Te Ururoa. How can that be right?The "ministerial hopes" may come as a shock to the rest of the media, but this is what I have been saying: Hone seeks leadership and responsibility and is not content with being a maverick always on the outside looking in. Te Ururoa has confirmed this, and then implies it means Hone would have backed National to the hilt in the same way that they are - that is merely his own speculation and tainted with all the bias of someone threatened by an opponent.

The uncomfortable fact for the Maori Party - something only Hone was committed to confront directly and honestly - is that the repeal of the 2004 foreshore and seabed law is more of a replacement and reiteration of all of the same pernicious and racist confiscation provisions. The ugly fact is that the Maori Party is now conniving with National to use all the same tricks that Labour pulled: cutting off the select committee process and having the key pillars of the confiscation clauses put in as supplementary order papers at the last minute to circumvent analysis and protest. From the NZ Herald leaked/smear attack by Te Ururoa:

He questioned Mr Harawira's conviction, saying co-leader Tariana Turia
left the Labour Party over the first Foreshore and Seabed Act.

"She is comfortable enough to support this [latest] bill. If it is that Hone is so vehemently opposed, then surely a belief in that principle would result in his walking as well."

Mr Flavell indicated things were past the point of no return, saying the other MPs "have lost any semblance of trust in Hone and clearly, he in us."

"I am clear that more hui with Hone or an electorate will not change things. He is his own man."

Hone is his own man - of that everyone agrees - the question he begs however is who owns him?

If the Maori electorates want to vote for sell-out kupapa types in it for the limos and the luncheons and willing to compromise every shred of principle just to stay in a green leather chair then they will vote Labour because at least with Labour - for all their faults - there is an iron-clad, tungsten-core guarantee they will never go with National. And in the meltdown the party votes will flow to the Greens.

If Te Ururoa wants to hold his own electorate then he must address these concerns and at his next foreshore and seabed meeting (scheduled for Monday) I intend to make sure he does.

National Party to cripple Welfare State with Father of all budgets

Govt to mount full-scale welfare reform
John Key's National Government looks set to mount the most determined attack on welfare payrolls since the current system was created in 1938 after a far-reaching review made public yesterday.

A welfare working group led by economist Paula Rebstock recommends forcing almost three-quarters of sole-parent, sickness and invalid beneficiaries, including all sole parents with no children under 3, to look for at least part-time work.

It would make sole parents who have another baby while on the benefit look for work when their babies reach 14 weeks, and would make long-lasting contraception free for all women on benefits.

All existing welfare categories would be rolled into a single benefit called Jobseeker Support, paid at the rate of the dole, with supplements for sick and disabled beneficiaries and sole parents.

The welfare system would be transferred to a new Crown entity with a business-oriented board.

In the longer term, both welfare payments and support could be contracted out to consortiums of iwi, voluntary and private organisations.

The group says its dramatic reforms could slash the number of working-aged beneficiaries by 100,000 by 2021 and cut net costs by $1.3 billion a year.

Mr Key signalled that the Government would pick up at least some of the proposals, including the requirement for sole parents with no children under 3 to look for at least 20 hours of paid work each week.

Under the phenomena of rallying around the leader in a time of crises, the Government have an opportunity in the wake of the quake to advance their crippling of the Welfare State with zero debate. That one of our largest social policy's might get crucified without any real public scrutiny could be the worst long term byproduct of yesterdays quake.

In a tactic that National have used again and again, the ideologically stacked welfare razor gang gave the Government the radical policy they needed and managed to add an element so fascist that it made Genghis Khan wince with their 'back to work after 14 weeks' for a second child which allowed John Key to reject it creating the perception that he's moderated what is still a radical attack on society's most vulnerable and weak.

National did it with the mining of conservation land, they put up Great Barrier when they never had any intention of mining Great Barrier so they could remove it from the list to make them look like they had 'listened' and create the perception of moderation.

Key had the audacity to describe the forcing of mothers back after 14 weeks as making him 'queasy' which is funny because his comments that poor people who take food parcels are to blame for their own poverty alongside his claim that if he cut welfare to all beneficiaries then bugger all would starve made me pretty queasy.

National's tactic of proposing 100% crazy and selling 80% crazy as compromise is like getting the National Front to write immigration policy and then look aghast at what they come up with while implementing most of it.

This crippling of the Welfare State is evil. It's evil to treat the weakest and most vulnerable in Society during a recession as steep as this with such 'work sets you free' contempt, and it's time for people of conscience to call NZ on it.

Christchurch Earthquake Shock

After a long night, managed to contact missing friends and hear that family are safe, 38 are 'officially' dead rather than the 65 stated yesterday (although this seems to be a technicality rather than a ray of light) thankfully dozens were pulled from the rubble overnight. The sheer scale of the destruction and lives lost is still bewildering and surreal to a place we all know and have walked.

Already the stories of friends who have lost people are surfacing and cause a counting of blessings, but I honestly wonder if as our second largest city Christchurch will be the same after this, the over riding feeling from talking with people is a deep mistrust of the ground under their feet, and I wonder how many will be planning on a life beyond Christchurch.

The coverage by TV and Radio alongside social networking media has meant a seamless merging of the immediate and real time with proximity to the event in a way that impacts so many more by including everyone as reporter/witness/survivor.

What a dreadful time of it Christchurch has had to endure, NZ is weeping today as the cold grey of daylight breaks across the broken garden city.

Civil Defense number 0800 779 997

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch eliminates any debate on Welfare State crucifixion

UPDATE | 2:40PM: Just got the picture of the Cathedral. This is a symbolic as well as a sustantial loss - it is Chch.Just leave, get out. While we mourn (what may be fatalities, as reported, but unconfirmed as confirmed by Police) and wish the best for all the injured (and there may be many, many injured), and hope people can rebuild their lives, I have to say I've always regarded Chch as a bit shit. It was shit before the 7.1 earthquake, even shittier following the big after-shock, and it is now two rungs below shit. There will be an exodous, the population of the city will shrink. You can't live a stable life on top of a quivering jelly. —TS --UPDATE ENDS]

UPDATE: 3.50pm Reports of huge structural damage across the city, hundreds trapped in buildings, reports of many casualties, multiple after shocks, Pyne Gould Guiness building have reports of multiple people trapped. This is a major disaster. Still haven't been able to contact friends. City has run out of ambulances.

UPDATE: 3.56pmThe Maori Party have just canceled Hone Harawira's membership, is it too cynical to suggest they picked the largest natural disaster in NZ to decide to announce that?

UPDATE: 5pm State of Emergency declared for whole area of Canterbury. Entire suburbs of Brighton and Lyttleton declared unlivable, There are reports of Sumner cliffs dropping into houses and Lyttleton cliffs are crumbling , the tunnel is shut and may have had damage to it. Triage centres set up in Latimer Square and Sydenham Mall

UPDATE: 7.20pm 65 confirmed dead

Huge quake strikes Canterbury
BREAKING NEWS: A huge earthquake has struck Canterbury with witness reports estimating it was bigger than the one which struck last September.

The Welfare razor gang will be thanking their Gods for the massive earthquake that has just struck Christchurch. Goodbye any debate on the crucifixion of the NZ Welfare State.

No details on damage from Christchurch yet. I've texted friends and family there, I hope they are okay. Christchurch has been hurt terribly this year.

The Father of all Budgets: Welfare Razor Gang Report out

Forget the Mother of all budgets that Ruth Richardson oversaw which crippled the Welfare State, under John Key we have the Father of all Budgets, and by the looks of it, Dad is an angry violent drunk with a penchant for grievous bodily harm.

The Welfare Razor Gang have not held back and it's a bloodbath. Key effectively wants solo mums AND their infants to go back to work while the sick and handicapped no longer have any benefit, they are all now termed 'Jobseekers'. Sweet Jesus it's ugly.

Its key recommendation is scrapping all existing benefits, including the Domestic Purposes and Sickness Benefits, and replacing them with a single Jobseeker Support payment.

That payment would be administered by a single Crown Agency - Employment and Support New Zealand - standing at "arms length" from the Government.

Under the new system, a vast majority of beneficiaries would be required to apply for jobs regardless of difficult family circumstances, long term illness or disability.

Mothers would be forced to look for work once their first child turns three.

I don't care if you are handicapped GET TO WORK! Now we now what a compassionate society looks like under National, doncha love how the most vulnerable all have to pay for an economic recession they hand no hand in making?

Why force solo mothers to go back to work before their child turns school age? Surely the one thing we ask of solo mothers is that they look after their child? But this next bit is a romper stomper...

But that age limit would be reduced to 14 weeks if a mother had a second child while on the benefit, in the only recommendation not unanimously endorsed by the working group.

14 weeks, and back to work? How in Gods name will that help the infant?

John Key has the audacity to cripple the Welfare state in the same week he greenlights luxury BMWs and blames the poor for taking food parcels.

I haven't seen much suggested social policy in my life that I would just write off as utter evil, but this crippling of the welfare state by the National Party gets about as close to that as possible. It's evil to treat the weakest and most vulnerable in Society like this, and it's time for people of conscience to call NZ on it.

Welcome to that 'change' you voted for in 2008 NZ.

John Key signs documents he doesn't read

PM signed papers relating to BMWs
Prime Minister John Key signed four documents that referred to a deal to buy a fleet of luxury cars – and at least three other ministers were briefed, documents reveal.

What's worse? That John Key tells poor NZers needing food parcels that it's their fault, or that he blamed his bungled response to the BMW fiasco on the death of a NZ soldier or that he signed four documents that referred to the deal yet claims he doesn't read them?

Ummmmmmmmm, shouldn't the PM of our country be reading stuff before he signs them? The media went into full scale attack mode when Helen Clark signed a painting she didn't paint, yet have nothing to say about John Key signing four documents relating to the BMW deal he didn't read?

New footage out of Libya

Libyan Revolution - Take Whats Yours
Uploaded by libyansrevolt. - Up-to-the minute news videos.

The 'work sets you free' welfare reforms

Bombshell on way for beneficiaries
About 300,000 welfare beneficiaries who are judged to be capable of work will face a day of reckoning tomorrow when the Government receives a report that recommends they be forced to look for jobs.

So it's here, the much despised ideologically stacked welfare razor gang are to release their 'Work sets you free' report today in the same week John Key splurges $6 million on his arse massaging BMW luxury. The call to force the sick, the solo mothers, the mentally unwell and the handicapped back to work all comes as our Prime Minister is telling those in poverty that if they are requiring food parcels, then it isn't his Governmnets failed economic stewardship that has brought about a double dip recession and 6.8% unemployment, oh no, it is 'their' poor choices.

John Key reminds me of the Herman Melville quote..

"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well housed, well warmed and well fed."

We knew the cuts for the most vulnerable were going to be deep. Look at the people selected to be on the ideologically stacked welfare razor gang to give Paula the answers she wants. Former ACT Party President Catherine Isaac, privatized welfare advocates Adrian Roberts and Enid Ratahi Pryor and let's not forget their appointed researcher 'Professor' Peter Saunders who connects class with intelligence and who in his down time writes Islamaphobic fiction whom Paula embarrassingly confused with another Professor with the same name who holds diametrically opposite opinions.

We knew the cuts for the most vulnerable were going to be deep because when our disconnected from reality Optimist Prime wasn't telling poor people that their need for food parcels was their own fault, he was telling church leaders “If we cancelled welfare to 330,000 people currently on welfare, how many would starve to death? Bugger all.”

We knew the cuts for the most vulnerable would be deep because the so called 'turbo charge' from the GST tax rise to give rich people a tax cut had in fact dampened the economy and caused a $2 billion deficit which Bill English promised would be make up with deep cuts to Welfare.

We knew all that, but it still didn't prepare us for the sheer radicalized scope of what is being suggested by forcing so many sick, handicapped, solo parent and mentally unwell NZers back into the 6.8% unemployment labour force. Almost 30% are to be forced back into work when there is no work. This goal would be laughable if the realities of such sweeping cut backs weren't so extreme for those impacted.

I find it the most disgusting of ethical molestations that the weakest and most vulnerable in society are being asked to do with less because the global economy was crashed by the greedy and corrupt.

Sadly nothing excites raw meat NZ like a bit of good old fashioned bennie bashing. Next to rugby, alcoholism and domestic abuse, bashing solo mothers is a national cultural institute. This welfare review has had nothing to do with the reality of improving the situation for those on welfare, it has had nothing to do with how we empower beneficiaries to enjoy the full autonomy of the democratic franchise, it's narrow myopic vision has been to find a way to simply throw as many off welfare no matter the consequence. As the brilliant Gordon Campbell at scoop.co.nz points out in his 'Ten Myths About Welfare'...

A long list of relevant issues have not been part of the WWG agenda. So far, the WWG’s investigations have not involved any substantial analysis of :

(a) the extent of poverty among beneficiaries and low income workers and its effects

(b) whether benefit levels can sustain basic living standards vis a vis rising costs, and the related health outcomes, particularly among children.

(c) the cost and optimum form of work and training schemes for the young unemployed.

(d) the availability and affordability of childcare, region by region

(e) the global recession’s impact on the job market

(f) the adequacy of the government’s current job creation policy.

(g) the job outcomes attributable to the government’s stimulus policy during the recession.

(h) changing social attitude to marriage breakdown and divorce, and the implications for DPB figures.

(i) the social and economic value – including opportunity cost – of parenting carried out by DPB recipients

(j) the net cost of work schemes as opposed to the health costs and law and order costs that are unemployment -related

(k) the extent to which demographic factors such as the ageing population are being reflected in the sickness and invalid benefit numbers…etc etc.

This counter productive and spiteful forcing of the most vulnerable to work when there is no work for them makes me feel like I've woken up at a cross burning redneck rally in a land governed by the wrong white crowd.

When it comes to welfare, all stick and no carrot makes little Johnny a prison statistic.

John Key blames BMW fiasco on dead NZ soldier

Key's limo excuse 'repugnant' - Goff
Prime Minister John Key saying the death of a New Zealand soldier in Afghanistan affected the handling of the limousine controversy is "repugnant", Labour leader Phil Goff says.

I'm sorry? What? After telling poor people that they are needing to beg for food parcels because they choose poorly in life, John Key justifies his bumbled response to his BMW massage seat, individualized air conditioning, 16 high-performace speaker, DVD players in the back seat luxury t a time of vast cut backs because of the death of a NZ soldier???????

Where the hell does he get off using the death of a soldier in Afghanistan to justify his incompetence? First National said there was no choice but to take up the deal Labour as the previous Government had signed, then National admitted that wasn't true. Then National Ministers claimed they had no knowledge at all of the BMW deal, then they admitted that actually they had sent letters to each other last December discussing it!

AND NOW, after two seperate sets of justifications fall on their face as bare faced lies, John Key has the outright audacity to blame his bungled response to this fiasco on the death of a NZ soldier?

There are no words to describe the self serving nature of using a dead soldier to justify a bungled PR response to BMW arse massaging seat luxury while lecturing the poor for needing food parcels while slashing welfare for Society's most vulnerable.

Private Kirifi Mila's family must be thrilled to know he died to protect John Key's out of touch hypocrisy.

'Free' trade with America is like 'good' cancer - it doesn't exist

Key pushes benefits of new trade agreement allowances
Prime Minister John Key appears to be softening up the public for some unpopular concessions under the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership being negotiated at present.

This free trade deal John Key is secretly negotiating before the election minus any scrutiny beyond the corporate and political elite will have a much more negative impact on our future economic sovereignty than anything China is attempting, yet any real public perception of the threat this deal will actually cause is almost non-existent. The bellows of 'National Sovereignty' attached to anything China does compared to the dead silence at the vast swindle America are about to commit certainly opens us up to charges of xenophobia.

This oxymoronically named 'free trade' deal secretly being cut with America will do the following...

More expensive medicines

No local content in broadcasting

Weaker controls on overseas investment in NZ

Foreign investors suing the Government for millions in offshore tribunals

Weaker regulation of the financial services

Undermining action on climate change

Delays and restrictions on agricultural market access to the US

John Key breathlessly told a complaint mainstream media that we would make "billions and billions" from this free trade deal with America and the complaint mainstream media breathlessly repeated those claims with no critical analysis of his claims whatsoever.

How humiliating for our compliant mainstream uncritical media then when wikileaks reveals the "billions and billions" claims is utter nonsense and an out right lie...

US free-trade deal suspect
A FREE-TRADE deal with the United States may not be the economic miracle it's been painted as.

New Zealand's chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair privately told a visiting US State Department official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement. This view – recorded in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks – differs from the one the public has been given.

When the US joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in November last year, Prime Minister John Key said it could be worth "billions and billions" to New Zealand, and that a deal would "position New Zealand brilliantly for growth".

But in a meeting in February, Sinclair told US Deputy Assistant Frankie Reed "there is a public perception that getting into the US will be an `El Dorado' for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different".

He said New Zealand would need to "manage" public expectations about the benefits of a US free-trade agreement.

John Key is lying to us about this 'free trade' deal making us "billions and billions" in the exact same way Gerry Brownlee lied to us about billions and billions to be made from mining on conservation land.

It is utterly extraordinary to me how far NZers are prepared to stretch John Key's smile and wave political capital to justify policy so contrary to our national interests as this.

Institutionalizing the miscarriage of cheap justice - welcome to the Kumara Republic

Legal aid changes on the way - Power
Legal aid changes are just around the corner, Justice Minister Simon Power signalled today.

Opening a "Costs of Crime" forum in Wellington, Mr Power spoke about how the Government was tackling rising costs in the justice sector, noting in particular the weighty cost of legal aid processes.

The Legal Services Bill, which addresses administrative and quality issues within the legal aid system, was one step the Government was taking to reform the service, Mr Power said.

What is happening is all part of Simon Power's conveyor belt of cheap justice, these abuses on legal aid by robbing citizens of their right to choose who represents them (alongside the total lack of independent legal aid now that it has been swallowed whole by the Government) are part of a wider erosion of our civil rights that include no jury trials and tv screen trials which lead to Jury desensitization. This represents the largest attack on civil rights in our history and as a member of society and as a member of the Auckland Council of Civil liberties, I am deeply concerned about these issues.

The Government argue that these changes are necessary for quick justice and point to Margaret Bazley's ridiculous report as justification, 2 things here

1: If it is about speed of process, then the Government should build more court rooms, not erode the rights of citizens.

2: Margaret Bazley (whom I admit I have a lot of respect for) produced a report that has not one shred of actual evidence to back up her claims of legal aid rorts, it was all gossip and rumour, surely only Scott Watson can be convicted on evidence as circumstantial as this?

The basic conclusion is that with crime set to soar from the social deprivation a deep recession causes coupled with the raw meat hard on crime crap, the Governments streamlining of Court procedure removes justice from the equation to replace it with the kind of brutal dehumanizing efficiency required in abattoirs.

These erosion of jury trials and not facing your jury are a legal conveyor belt focused on speed rather than justice.

By denying people the right to select their lawyer from legal aid we erode their quality of justice, and let's not forget people have to pay legal aid back - this is money you are paying for a legal service yet you no longer get the right to select your lawyer?

No one wants to use the Public Defense service (it was in their affidavit at the high court), so the Government are forcing people to use them. The case that boiled this over was the case of a Tongan man who has taken the Government to Court for a breach of his bill of rights after they informed him the legal aid he required would mean a caveat over his house while at the same time he wouldn't get to select his legal representation. Effectively he would be forced to take some clown from the Public Defense service while the asset he had spent an entire life building up would be on the block alongside him.

Think about that - you require legal aid, you are told it will mean a caveat is placed on your house oh and they will select the cheapest Public Defender they can track down from a service that doesn't receive any current confidence from citizens.

Only rich people have the audacity to force poor people to accept such limited legal protections. We do everything casual in NZ, including our fascism.

Welcome to the Kumara Republic.

Milking time

The Fonterra announcement that it will freeze domestic milk prices for the rest of the year has been greeted with initial praise, but now meets some skepticism. Let me add mine. What they have done is announce they will keep prices at an all-time high. That is what a "freeze" means. It means they will not reduce prices. So, it's actually pretty shitty, but the PR from Fonterra has been lapped up by most of the media, like cats into saucers of NZ's finest. It worked so well for the 'terra monopoly that the supermarket duopoly followed suit... not that that is price fixing. Oh, no that would be illegal: "I don't want to go to jail" said the supermarket frontman on last night's Campbell Live show on TV3; but what else is it if not price fixing? The main supplier says it's x, the two main retailers say it's x, and they all say it within 24 hours of each other - if that's not the fixing of a price then I don't know what is.

As for the assertion by Mr Supermarket Man that all they ever charge is a 10-30% mark-up? That would be standard on most basic items - like bread - I assume, and is more than their tobacco margins definitely and booze, probably. I'm not sure Mr Supermarket Man was lying about it - as everyone suspects - he was just down-playing it. If it is around the 30% mark that is a very healthy margin for a staple necessity and although it may not sound like that much of a gouge it is.

However it is the ads about the various milk types - all Fonterra brands no doubt - that amuse me in all of this public indignation. Not so much that like the Apple and Pear Marketing Board (or whatever it's called these days) they have many different brands (that inside the wrappers are almost identical) so they create the illusion of competition, but that their raw product has become so diluted. The A&PMB's trick was to make everything with an apple base; the 'terra's trick is to take the milk bit of milk out. It might not be watering it down literally with water, but it must be very close to it. Most of the ads on TV and in print are for low fat milk and I can't discern the difference between those awful green and "lite" blue types of watery non-milk type milk and what would happen if I took the once normal silver top type of whole milk and poured half of it out and added water. I don't think there is a difference - the lite types (which constitute most varieties) taste and feel and look watered down... and yet it is the same price as proper milk. Fonterra must quite literally be creaming it.

People are paying full whack for 2 litres of milk-water when they could be buying a 1 litre of proper milk and adding a litre of water to create the same awful, tasteless, bland shit they have been convinced they want - at half the price. That is the power of relentless advertising over the female mind: rows of milk-water. Try finding the proper milk - sometimes, even in a big supermarket, they don't have any at all! Females control the household spend - they buy milk-water. Everyone else is niche and misses out.

The attempts at relentless advertising on the male mind to change positions don't seem so effective (esp. if you look at supermarket shelves) but perhaps that is because often the advertisers just don't get the message right, or understand who they are selling to and who they are. It is bad enough that in the last 5-10 years it has become routine for males to be the subject of the petty ridicule and gross and unflattering characterisations that were common of the portrayal of female roles in ads in the previous century. In many TV ads - especially for the purposes of getting onside with females to sell female products - the moronic, incompetent, selfish, oafish, knuckle-dragging cartoon of a man has become commonplace; but it is particularly tragic when a stereotypical and dumbed-down image of males is used to try to get men themselves onside. Take the latest NZTA "Mantrol" ads as an example.

"Mantrol" is so gay. It is the gayest advertising campaign. Like the opening sequence with the balless douche of a narrator navigating a series of supposedly masculine pursuits, it is gay on so many levels. It is so monumentally homosexual that only a government department could have commissioned it. If this is what the government thinks of men then one is drawn to conclude the government is run by women. It is so patronisingly irksome that it becomes counter-productive: let's do the exact opposite of whatever this balless douche of a nagged, pussy-whipped drip is saying, ie. be a real man, because no man wants to be this man. This man is some half-baked figment of a hobbled female imagination. I can't beleive a man thought this character up. He becomes so pathetic by the end it would be better off at that point (having built up such animosity with the group he was trying to target) if he told men to drive fast and drunk.

Yes, it is that bad:
The thinking must have been if it only saves one ad agency executive's bonus it would have been worth it. So much money down the drain. All the licence increases for what? Another pathetic shitty ad that belittles half the population? Less respect for the Transport minister, Steven Joyce, by the day.

ASB's IVF ads however are possibly, just possibly, even worse. Inconceivably bad.The bank's TV ad designed to lure desperate couples into a spiral of debt so they can have that which nature has denied them is hubris playing on hubris. Yuck, yucky, yuck. So many levels of yuck. Nature, fate, destiny - God - says no, but with the bank's money they can pay for scientists and technicians to do what should not be done. Another personal indulgence of the psycologically maladjusted made possible by the ASB.

The ASB made possible their whopping mortgage on their over-valued suburban shit-box that keeps them on an endless treadmill of work to pay for it. They are up to their necks in debt already and now a child - via the mercenary medical profession - will enter the world with their parents in debt to their eyeballs. "Creating futures" - a future of debt. Born of debt and into debt. As if a lifetime of owing money to an Australian corporation is a normal and successful way of life... Does the bank make them put the child up as security? Is the flesh on the line, Aussie Shylock, or just the soul?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Citizen A - ONLINE NOW!

THIS WEEK: Bloggers Chris Trotter and Cameron Slater...

Issue one:
The Maori Statutory Board is now taking the Auckland SuperCity to Court over this fiasco - when will Rodney Hide be publicly lynched in Aotea Square?

Issue two:
The Greens suffered the stoners curse and turned up late, the labour Party candidate reassures his Community Board he won't win and the National Party candidate has no connection with the Asian electorate, can the Botany by-election get anymore un-inspiring?

Issue three tonight:
Rumors of a new far right Political party launching in Epsom are circulating will Cameron Slater be announcing his candidacy?

Join Citizen A Facebook group

DON'T FORGET: Citizen A Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern Debate 31st March - Stratos available to all on Freeview from 1st March

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Chris Trotter just convinced me a New Left Party can happen

The brilliant Chris Trotter and i have clashed recently over the idea of a New Left Party, we did so again on Citizen A which aired this evening 8pm Stratos Sky 89 (from March 1st the show will be free to air on Freeview 21 moving to 7.30pm on Sunday).

I hold Chris in the highest of regard in terms of his intellect and his control of the left wing of the force, he is certainly a Jedi Master, where as I am a mere Padawan but his argument tonight on why a New Left Party can not succeed has helped me make up my mind. (The episode will be posted online tomorrow).

Chris's argument against launching a New Left Party with Hone included was one of political maths, and I'm sure if I have misrepresented his fine articulation of the facts in any way shape or form, he will kindly correct me.

For a New Left Party to gain the 3.6% Matt did in Mana, it would need 90 000 votes. Now Chris concedes on a good day Hone could gain 40 000 votes in a combination of his electorate and party vote, but Chris then points out a New Left Party would need to find 50 000 more votes to gain what Matt did, which is the goal as the electorate seat gives a decent sub 5% threshold representation. Chris challenges proponents of a New Left Party to find those 50 000 extra votes and even extrapolates a figure of 800 voters in each electorate.

He says that number is simply too high, and that the voters can't be found.

I have thought about that argument and would like to suggest the following response. Where would a New Left Party find the extra 50 000 votes? There are 300 000 NZers working minimum wage labour in NZ who are drowning with rising costs and 338 000 beneficiaries who are about to have their welfare slashed. To give Chris's argument full strength, let's remove what he suggested Hone would gain, 40 000 votes leaving 598 000 beneficiaries and minimum wage workers.

So one would need to find 50 000 voters out of a pool of 598 000 beneficiaries and minimum wage workers (not including liberal urban types who might vote for the end strategy of defeating National) - and if the policy was $15 Minimum wage plus a living benefit with a full focus on minimizing the gap between rich and poor and eliminating as much poverty as possible, we would only need 50 000 votes out of a pool of 598 000 which would gain 3.6% which would give a New Left Party 5 MPs, the same representation ACT achieved with 3.6% in 2008, and those 5MPs could change the MMP math in parliament to block National from achieving a majority?

Based on that math, I think Chris Trotter just convinced me that a New Left Party can be done and that the end point of defeating an anti-beneficiary, anti-worker, anti-environment Government replaced by a genuine left wing coalition might well be worth the struggle and fight.

Please Note: Graeme Edgeler has been kind enough to provide the MMP numbers required

The voter support needed for differing numbers of seats in 2008 are as follows (that is, a new party a single electorate seat, with these levels of support, and not changing the vote levels of the parties in Parliament, would had this many seats):

1 seat (i.e. no list seats, but avoiding causing overhang): 9160 votes (0.39%)
2 seats (i.e. electorate and one list): 27,815 votes (1.19%)
3 seats: 46,611 votes (1.99%)
4 seats: 65,626 votes (2.80%)
5 seats: 85,411 votes (3.64%)
6 seats: 104,496 votes (4.46%)

The challenge for a New Left Party with Hone

Matt as usual makes the only case for buying the Herald on Sunday with another astute column on the challenges confronting a New Left Party.

I thought I would add my 2cents.

The country faces a unique economic crises the like it has never seen, anyone who thinks this current calm means the recession is over are simply misinterpreting the reality that all that is passing us is the eye in the hurricane, this recession has only just started.

The reason our technocrats and political leaders keep getting it wrong is because the consumer culture fueled on ever increasing credit card limits has come to a screaming halt and the 'consumption norms' under which our country operated are not coming back for at least a decade. In such an environment, the Government of the day led by a desperately out of touch Prime Minister are clutching at privatization straws to justify their free market dogma.

That John Key has the audacity to claim those in poverty are making poor choices by needing food parcels from the comfort of his new BMW with its massaging seats, 4 air-conditioning units, 16 high performance speakers and back seat DVD players is proof eternal that Optimist Prime's vacant aspiration lives in a disconnected bubble world far from the reality of most NZers trying to cope from his failed economic policies.

In the intellectual vacuum I like to call John Key's leadership, their default mechanism is privatize and slash welfare, for the over 338 000 NZers now on a benefit in a 6.8% unemployment environment, add the 300 000 NZers living on the minimum wage and we have over 638 000 NZers who when compared to the 2 376 480 votes cast in the 2008 election, represent 26% of the electorate.

That electorate of beneficiaries and minimum wage earners are notorious to get beyond the apathy caused by the grind of poverty and hopelessness of the debt trap but as the reality of this recession coupled with deep cuts to welfare because this Government's turbo charge of the economy actually ended up causing a $2billion revenue hole start to sink in, it will mean that the beneficiary and low income electorate will have their attention will be fixated on their week to week welfare in a way that has not existed in modern political times.

Bringing the disenfranchised back to the ballot box doesn't need to cannibalize Labour Party vote or Green Party vote.

Their interests, their dreams, their aspirations should be given voice at those decision making tables and Sue Bradford's alternative welfare policy would do more in real terms at seeing that occur than merely hoping the Greens and Labour can cut a deal with NZ First.

I agree with Matt and think we need to be clear as to where we are at right now in the possibility of a New Left Party forming around Hone's electorate seat. Hone is facing expulsion from the Maori Party who have been put on notice that since National can't rely on Rodney winning Epsom, (or bringing in any extra seats as ACT implode), then they are the next in line at the great table of decision making meaning Hone has to go. Matt is writing knowing that Hone's expulsion will mean his electorate support is vital and that any New Left Party must acknowledge that his electorate are changing their voice from 100% Maori to 100% issues that impact Maori, beneficiaries and minimum wage earners. The loyalty his electorate have to the Maori Party is incredibly deep and any new Party must make Hone's Maori constituency concerns and voice clear and up front. Matt is reminding everyone involved that Hone's inclusion brings with it a responsibility not to dilute Hone.

The challenge for Hone, IF he were to agree on the formation of a New Left Party, is for him to go beyond the public perceptions of him being associated with merely representing 'race' as a Maori MP, and appeal instead to class because the very concerns he has for the welfare of Maori on the bottom of society, are the exact same concerns for all NZers on the bottom of society. The issues for minimum wage earners, beneficiaries and a large chunk of Moaridom are all the same issues. Social Justice binds us and provides more bridges to connect us than divide us, if we are serious about preventing the gap between the poor and the rich from expanding, and are serious about halting an anti-beneficiary, anti-worker, anti-environment Government, we should start working towards an end point that changes the MMP math in Parliament for this election.

If Hone's electorate agreed that he could expand his leadership from just Maori to all those who suffer from an anti-worker, anti-beneficiary, anti-environment Government, then Hone could be the first real post-race Politician in NZ history.

Matt is obviously cautious and playing his cards close to his chest and I would agree with him that there are immense difficulties in attempting to form a New Left Party with 9months to the election - my counter to that caution is that if this Government get re-elected then their 3 extra years of privatization will cripple this country. I don't want to see my whanau, my friends, my community bleed a second longer than they have to, and while pragmatic political strategy has its place, sometimes you have to fight for a better society now and simply waiting for when the time is right isn't good enough. The challenge to us all is leadership and knowing that this recession is a unique event that won't see 'consumer consumption business as usual' norms for another decade meaning we need better ideas now.

We need solutions imposed upon the political establishment this very minute, not in 3 years time. A New Left Party gaining 3% would provide 4 MP's to change the MMP math in Parliament. A New Left Party could enable the Greens AND the Maori Party to actually get Cabinet portfolios in a Cabinet that reflected the political sea change and keep Labour from appeasing the right rather than challenging the right.

I'm sick of this country going backwards when we have championed some of this planets greatest social justice leaps forward. Universal suffrage, 40 hours work for the working person and Nuclear Free are all examples of us leading, we can again at a time when the planet is looking for leadership on sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy and closing the ever widening social inequality between the haves and have nots.

If the New Left Party vehicle can't get off the ground in time, then we are left with hoping the Greens and Labour with a depleted Maori Party can somehow cut a deal with Winston Peters if he manages to get over the 5% threshold with policies designed to arouse the reactionary rump of the National Party. That seems about as viable as Michael Laws hosting a disabled athletes event.

For me ultimately it is about the leadership of our Society in the interests of all, especially the most vulnerable, and not the interests of the corporate and farming industry elites.

I again put out this challenge to the left - If not us? Who? If not now? When?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bomber's Blog - The War on News - ONLINE NOW!

THE WAR ON NEWS: In this weeks political media crimes against reason kill zone

Won't somebody think about the Children because Paula Bennet isn't

Double Dip recession on the horizon, has John Key finally run out of prescription optimism?

Mainstream media make bennie bashing as predictable as outrage over a soccer team winning a sport award in a Nationalistic rugby crazed little brother syndrome country

Plus this weeks wank-o-the-week, sex in the Super City,  media hell and the Barack Obama people’s hero of the week award

The War on News 2010 – NZ News Satire on Stratos Sky 89 10.30pm Tuesday & simulcast on Freeview 21. Replayed on Triangle TV 9.45pm Wednesday and posted online at Scoop.co.nz as their Weekend Watch.

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Thanks for freezing the milk Fonterra, now what about Palm Kernel?

Fonterra freezes price of milk
Fonterra today announced it would freeze the domestic price of milk for the rest of year, after criticism that it was becoming unaffordable for many families.

How magnanimous of Fonterra, they've frozen the price of milk. Isn't that the least they can do? Seeing as this monopoly we subsidize with our environment causes huge global warming pollution, steals vast amounts of our water and pollutes most of our rivers, forget the freeze, shouldn't the price of milk be near free when we consider the vast public costs that go into making it?

Thanks for the freeze Fonterra, now what about freezing the importation of rainforest destroying Palm Kernel?

Cop didn't sit on his hands over child abuse tragedy in NZ, he sat on them in the Solomon Islands

New commissioner defends handling of abuse backlog
EXCLUSIVE: Incoming police commissioner Peter Marshall says he only became aware of a serious backlog of child abuse cases three months before receiving an overseas posting.

A police complaints authority investigation revealed that Marshall and current deputy commissioner Rob Pope knew about the backlog for two years before police began investigating the cases.

But speaking exclusively to Fairfax Media today, Marshall said the first he knew about the situation was in August 2006 when Detective Sergeant Tusha Penny came to see him. In November that year, Marshall was nominated for a job in the Solomon Islands and he packed up soon after.

Isn't this story incredible? Peter Marshall's counter to claims he sat on his hands over a back log of child abuse cases two years old is that he wasn't sitting on is hands in NZ, he was in fact sitting on his hands in the Solomon Islands. Note too the fact that Wairarapa's top detective lied through his teeth to his bosses by claiming that the child abuse cases had been followed up.

The Police must be thanking their lucky stars that the mainstream corporate media are so easily led to produce such light criticism of their incompetence at allowing child abuse cases to stack up in the way the Police Conduct Authority concludes.

Isn't it amazing? When a Child dies in NZ due to their Maori parents, the story can't get enough front page, which in turn leads to redneck talkback hosts going ballistic and justifies right wing bloggers promoting anti breeding campaigns, yet the Police know about un-investigated child abuse cases for two years and in the words of the Police Officer who finally went public...

"We put all our resources into the murder inquiries for these children when they get murdered, but when they're alive and we know they're at risk, often we don't have the resources to allocate to it,"

...there is the barest whimper from our mainstream media in criticising their blessed Police force. The message is clear, stories about Maori Parents who fulfill the racist stereotype of their viewers get as much air time as possible, stories questioning our beloved Police force by challenging them on lying to cover up their lack of investigation into 100 child abuse cases (not a whisper).

Bullshit reason for train fare increase

Increased services will push up Auckland train fares again
Auckland rail fares are rising for the second time in under six months, by an average of about 6.5 per cent.

Although subsidised bus and ferry fares will remain unchanged for the next year, Auckland Transport announced last night that the price of train travel will rise on March 13.

That follows an annual review of all public transport fares, which the council-controlled organisation was keen to point out was separate from increases of 2 to 3 per cent in October reflecting the Government-imposed increase in GST to 15 per cent.

Cattle trucks are more comfortable than trains in Auckland but one of its few virtues is that it is cheap, look at the bullshit excuse being used this time to increase fares, is it for 'infrastructure'? No. Is it for increased fuel costs? No. Is it because Len Brown catches the train as occasionally as the Link Bus service comes on time? No.

The reason the train fares are going up is...

Chief executive David Warburton said the latest increases - ranging from 10c on a one-stage fare of $1.60 to 60c on the $8.30 for an eight-stage trip - were aimed at bringing them closer to bus tariffs.

...I'm sorry WHAT? The train fare is going up to match the already high bus fare? Do these guys just have a laugh and pull out a bullshit reason from their bullshit excuses hat when justifying their constant fare increases?

How do we get more Aucklanders onto public transport when we keep pushing the fares up based on bullshit reasons like 'we have to catch up with the bus fares'.

Len while you are symbolically catching the train, can you give them a kicking over raising the fares based on nonsense?

Dr's scam ACC to force invalids back to work

This scam is breathlessly reported by Simon Collins at the NZ Herald with out any criticism whatsoever...

GPs develop plan to get invalids off benefit
A consortium of North Shore doctors has a radical proposal to use health professionals to help sickness and invalid beneficiaries back to work.

...okay so like the Dr's ACC use to determine that an injury has nothing to do with an incident and is in fact an 'existing condition' so that they don't have to pay you, a 'consortium' of Drs in the apartheid state of the North Shore have worked out this amazing tactic of getting the sick back to work, you will laugh so hard when you read the mechanics of their scam.

For $50 extra, the Dr spends a mere 15minutes longer with the patient and finds in that mere 15minutes any reason for the invalid to work and magically at the end of that 15minutes the Dr has determined the invalid is 'fit' for work and is forced off ACC into work in a 6.8% unemployment environment.

It's so ugly and venal I'm surprised the NZ Herald didn't run it full banner on their front page with accompanying Editorial sucking deep and hard on this latest attack on the vulnerable.