Showing posts from February, 2015

John Key Disingenuous Over MP Salaries

John Key relies on short memories as he expresses concern about the level of the increase to MP salaries.  Most people are unaware that in 2012 he pushed through legislation to lock in special annuities for former Prime Ministers and their spouses and included travel allowances. These annuities and travel allowances amounted to $1.2 million between 2009 and 2012 and he and his wife will enjoy considerable financial benefit from the legislation when he ceases to be Prime Minister.

The annuities were recommended over 50 years ago when there were fewer employment opportunities for former Prime Ministers, and their spouses were less likely to have independent incomes. Spouses are entitled to half the annuity on the death of their husband/wife and all receiving the entitlement have enjoyed annual increases of around 4.5% (well above inflation). There seemed to be no good argument to continue with the payments and allowances especially when all surviving former Prime Ministers were still e…

National's Safe Hands

Now that voters have elected National for a third term, we have three more years of a Government that has minimal constraints. According to Dame Anne Salmond democracy does not figure in the way that this National Government operates, the less of it the better. Public opinion can sway decisions a little but, despite losing the referendum, our state assets were still sold and the party was re-elected with an increased majority.

A good number of New Zealanders have just accepted that the truth often gets blurred under John Key and there are many times when worrying conflicts of interest emerge and suspect deals revealed...but isn't that just politics? After six years a new normal has largely been imbedded. The masters of data manipulation and spin have successfully limited independent reviews of performance, the state of our environment and we are still waiting for the true extent of child poverty to be properly measured. While the StatisticsNZ had their funding cut, the budget for…

The Greens and Labour

The recent public spat between Labour and the Greens may appear concerning, or relatively minor, but it is actually about the value of a properly functioning MMP system and the importance of establishing political identities within it.

New Zealand has a relatively small population and because of that our politicians are not as distant from the people they represent compared to most other countries. The majority of our MPs are very accessible and you can often contact them directly without having to go through staff. Within parliament MPs from opposing parties often get on well at a personal level and during the election campaign in Invercargill all the candidates worked together to organise a roadshow around secondary schools.

As a Green candidate for Invercargill I have had a good working relationship with the local Labour candidate and many Labour members are close friends as we often move in the same social and work circles. We have combined forces in a number of campaigns and loc…

The TPPA and the Recolonisation of Aotearoa

The first peoples of any country will forever remain distinct from those that follow as they will be the only people who will be shaped by the unique environment that they had to adapt to. When Maori settled here around 800 years ago they had to survive in a country quite different from the islands they had migrated from. Maori technology and culture developed from having to learn how to sustainably prosper using the resources available and with many harsh lessons and fatal mistakes along the way. There will be no other people who will experience Aotearoa in its original state or be shaped in the same way through living on this land.

When the Prime Minister suggested that Maori would be grateful for the technology and capital brought through colonisation he did not recognise how reliant those first European settlers were on the local knowledge and skills of the first people. For decades Maori provided the newcomers with food from their extensive gardens, taught them how to use the na…

SkyCity's Glorious Deal

SkyCity is a largely Australian owned gaming company that has just announced a $66 million profit, largely from gamblers, over the last 6 months. With this Government it has also scored a corporate jackpot and shows that under John Key's leadership all you need to do is ask and your wildest dreams can come true.

SkyCity: Could we have an exclusive deal for building the convention centre that shuts out other competitors?

John Key led Government: Yep

SkyCity: Could we do a backroom deal with no documented evidence of our negotiations?


SkyCity: Could we have a law change that will allow us to substantially expand our gambling capacity as part of that deal?


SkyCity: Would you give us a compensation clause that will protect our operations for the next 35 years?


SkyCity: Could you stop funding the most effective anti-gambling organisation?


SkyCity: Could you turn a blind eye to our lack of monitoring of problem gamblers?


SkyCity: Would y…

The Five Eyes Coalition, a Fossil Fueled Monster?

I currently have a mental image of the eye of Sauron every time I hear mention of the Five Eyes alliance. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States combine to make a powerful front for the fossil fuel industry and I can see the vast desolate landscape of the Alberta tar sands or the massive Australian coal mines providing an equivalent of a Modor landscape. The Five Eyes nations also appear to behave rather 'orcishly', both domestically and globally.

The Five Eyes' nations make a pronounced impact on our world. Per capita the five countries are amongst the highest consumers of fossil fuel and largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions:
Australian coal has helped power China's growth and in doing so has laid waste to vast areas of arable land with open cast coal mining. A barrel of oil from Canada's Alberta tar sands produces three times as much green house gas emissions than conventional oil. Fully exploiting the tar sands (coverin…

Waitangi Reveals Key Still a Hollow Man

Key welcomed the Maori Party as a coalition partner and in exchange for its support over the past six years, inequality has increased and Maori unemployment is up 4.6 % to 15.6% since 2006. Maori still dominate our crime and prison statistics and the relationship has largely seen the demise of the Maori Party, which now has only two MPs.

Key and the National Party have cleverly kept the support of the Maori Party by stringing it along with a series of cheap baubles. Symbolism is important to Maori but means little to Key, as long as the real power remains with him and his Party. Being able to fly the Rangatiratanga Flag from the Auckland Harbour bridge appeared to be a substantial gesture by Key but he knew it cost little and bought grateful support.

When the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 143 member states supported it. At the time there were only four opposing votes and these came from the US, Canada, Australia a…

Is Key really driving with his hands off the wheel?

John Key's management style has always appeared to be relaxed and laid back, but this is clearly a cultivated image heavily supported by his huge team of spin doctors. The budget for the Prime Ministers Office has increased dramatically over the last six years.

Key operates like a swan, he glides over troubled political waters and constant scandals, while under the water his feet and his team of advisors are franticly using all available to them to maintain the image and momentum. I am sure Jason Ede has been replaced by someone else responsible for black ops and I wouldn't be surprised if he continued his work for longer than claimed.

Three strategies seem to be commonly used. The most important tactic is keeping the Prime Minister well removed from any poorly performing Minister and MP or any scandal. The second tactic is shifting the blame and responsibility elsewhere, including his own staff. The third is diversion, and it will be interesting to see when the flag discussi…

Sorting Out the Greens

Russel's resignation has got the relatives out in force with helpful advice and interesting predictions.

Aunty Fran is very concerned that since Russel saved the Green Party by shifting it closer to the economic centre that Turei will stuff it up with her crazy talk about peace and freedom. Serious politics is about finance and building bridges with the larger parties and apparently Turei is too oppositional to be in opposition. According to Aunty Fran, talking about Key's appalling understanding of Maori issues should never have been brought up in a political Maori setting and was just "deeply gratuitous point-scoring." The Green Party would be better off with someone like Julie Anne Genter who says good things about transport and lives in Auckland (which is the only place that really counts apparently).

Uncle Chris also pitched in with his learned advice. According to him Russel was the champion of the left and was continually fighting against the moderates within t…