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Helen Clark answers your questions

Written By: - Date published: 12:35 pm, April 25th, 2008 - 61 comments
Categories: helen clark, interview, labour - Tags: , , , , , , ,

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We’re very pleased to have Prime Minister Helen Clark respond to your questions as part of our Interview the Leaders series.

Question to all leaders:

Of which of your achievements in politics are you most proud?

I am proud to lead a government which has worked so hard to restore fairness, opportunity, security, and hope to many New Zealanders. 360,000 more New Zealanders are in work now than when Labour was first elected. Students have interest-free loans. Doctors’ fees for most people have halved. The rate of New Zealand Super has been lifted, and many older New Zealanders are getting help with their rates. State house tenants now pay fair rents, and workers and their unions bargain on much better terms under the Employment Relations Act.

As a government, we’ve focused on building the infrastructure a modern society requires, with massive investment in transport, and through far reaching telecommunications legislation to facilitate the roll out of faster, cheaper broadband.

We are putting in place far-reaching policies to make New Zealand more sustainable and to fight climate change.

Our government is a force for peace in the world, not only through our work for nuclear disarmament, but also through our opposition to unnecessary wars like that in Iraq. Our Labour-led Government refused to take part in the invasion of Iraq because we believed the case for it had not been made.

Given the privilege of a fourth term for the Labour-led Government, we pledge ourselves to continuing to lead on providing opportunity and security, working for sustainability, modernising the economy, and working world-wide for peace and justice.

From reader Matthew Pilott: Do you think the introduction of MMP has strengthened or weakened New Zealand’s democracy?

In the sense that governments are no longer  single party ones, and so a number of parties must work together for there to be a majority in Parliament, it has probably been strengthened.

Our Labour-led Government has been a minority government ever since we first came into office in 1999. We have been successful because we have worked well with other parties and been prepared to share power.

From Reader Andrew E: I’ve always voted Labour (was even a member of the Party) but this year I’m planning on voting National as I’m very concerned by the erosions in our freedoms that have happened under your watch. Why am I wrong?

I know of no erosions of freedoms which have occurred on our watch. Any such assertion is sheer spin from the National Party and its friends.

If the writer is perchance referring to the legislation on disciplining children, he might reflect on the fact it passed through Parliament on a vote of 113:8 with the National Party voting in support of it!

61 comments on “Helen Clark answers your questions”

  1. Steve Pierson 1

    Great to have these. Turned out they arrived on Thursday afternoon but one of the joys of being mutli-author and having a division of roles is that a_y_b, who handles the blog’s email traffic, wasn’t near a computer.

    Interesting, we had thought she would choose a specific event for the first answer, but it’s pretty obvious when you think about it that leading a Labour government would be the achieve she’s most proud of.

    It’s a good answer – in fact all the answers for that question so far have been very good (Jeanette should have refrained from starting with ‘there are so many!’).

    Lynn, lovely touch with the ANZAC poppy.

  2. Wendyc 2

    Clark lists all those ‘achievements’ but doesn’t mention tax cuts at all!

  3. I’d say if tax-cuts were all a leader were proud of it might be time for them to consider if they really wanted to be in politics. These are a bit short but I guess that’s a sign Helen wrote them herself.

  4. milo 4

    I would guess that one of her advisors drafted the responses, but that she reviewed and edited them, which is a standard, and perfectly reasonable practice.

    [lprent: Nope - she wrote them herself.]

  5. East Wellington Superhero 5

    “I know of no erosions of freedoms which have occurred on our watch.”

    This is a classic line. It shows either complete ignorance (and PM Clark is not ignorant) or complete spin and deceit.

    I used to have some respect for the PM. Not anymore.

    Honestly, you Labour guys are just unbelievable.

    I’m off to enjoy the sun on this ANZAC Day. A day on which we can reflect on the precious freedoms we still have in New Zealand.

  6. James Kearney 6

    I’m off to enjoy the sun on this ANZAC Day.

    The Nats aren’t making you work Anzac Day?? Maybe I’ve been wrong about them all along.

  7. East Wellington Superhero 7

    Oh, and the poppy thing is a bloody joke! Indicating either no recollection of history or your own confusion.

    Amongst those who refused to fight in WWI were a number of folk who would later go to be Labour leaders.

    The Left’s attitude toward Vietnam and its veterans has been disgraceful.

    Our current PM was extremely hostile to the armed forces and has, in what I can only describe as embarrassing for her sake, publicly reconcilled her past errors and exorcised her demons with these recent trip across Europe.

    The poppy might seem like a nice touch for some, but it think it looks rather awkward on the banner of thestandard.

  8. susan 8

    I’m sorry EWS? Labour is anti-armed forces? Are you forgetting our wartime PM MJ Savage? If you’re referring to the fact that Helen Clark didn’t want to send Kiwis to die in Iraq, you’re right on there.

    That’s of course unlike your leaders John Key and Bill English (leader at the time) who both thought it was worth sending NZers to die for the failed nutty global ideology of the U.S. neo-cons. And the results… hundreds of thousands of dead children – what a fucking success. Why don’t you try and run that as a campaign slogan “National supports dead children”, because that’s the brutal honesty of your position.

    (And don’t even start me on Vietnam)

  9. AncientGeek 9

    EWS: It is ANZAC day, so I’ll be charitable.

    If you’ve ever read the history of what happened to the CO’s, you wouldn’t consider that it was an easy option. For that matter, how many of the future labour leaders did serve?

    Didn’t the same leaders that you’re denigrating them go on to run the war effort in WW2 where they did agree with the cause (and sent their kids out on the line).

    Going and getting involved in a war should be something that you believe is required. It isn’t something you should do as mindlessly as you (or for that matter the Nat’s over Iraq) seem to expect. You do not put your citizens in harms way without sufficient reason.

    As an ex-soldier who fortunately never had to fight, all I can say is that you are a moronic dickhead. Probably yet another of those ignorant armchair generals. The type that feels it is good to send other people off to fight while never having the gumption to do it yourself or have your children put in harms way.

  10. lonelyavenger 10

    “If you’re referring to the fact that Helen Clark didn’t want to send Kiwis to die in Iraq”

    But she did send New Zealanders to Iraq.

    I’m also surprised that Clark doesn’t recall recently banning party pills, restricting free speech and preventing Auckland International Airport shareholders from exerting their property rights. She must either be suffering from severe memory loss or just be lying outright.

  11. Spectator 11

    Strangely enough, I don’t see any erosion of the freedoms that I exercise; indeed, the only “freedom” that seems to have been lost is the “freedom” of a handful of bestial sub-humans to beat their children half to death with stockwhips, wooden blocks and Alkathene pipes without legal repercussions.

  12. AncientGeek 12

    Ok I’ve calmed down a little after replying to that minuscule self-styled ‘superhero’. You have to wonder what he is compensating for.

    You have to admit that the spin from the tories has been remarkably effective. There is a widespread perception out there that the s59 was from labour. It was a green private members bill, that in the end got voted for by almost every MP.

    As Spectator says, I haven’t noticed any particular diminution in my personal freedoms, except that the police have become much more effective at traffic violations on her watch. I’m actually watching my speed these days.

    I was more interested in her comments about the infrastructure development. Thats what I really notice. It is one of those boring jobs that takes a long time and isn’t a quick fix. But it has been done in the LP’s watch.

  13. Catherine 13

    That last question was pretty badly worded. Dear Leader didnt even know what freedom erosins you were referring to, and who could blame her.

  14. AncientGeek 14

    avenger:

    But she did send New Zealanders to Iraq.

    How about telling the full story.

    From memory, we sent EME’s (engineers) to help restore critical infrastructure that’d been bombed. They did carry weapons but strictly for defense, and were guarded by the brits. I believe that it was at the request of the UN (but I could be wrong). In other words, we sent engineers on a humanitarian mission.

    If you think that is the same as a combat tour, then you have a strange idea about military operations.

    As for the rest of it, I suppose that you think that legalising heroin in a good idea, that the defamation laws should be removed, and that there should be no legislation about contract law. Because without a definition about why you think your one-liners are relevant, then these are the logical extension of your statements.

    Guess what, governments are there to govern. While this may come as a surprise to you (from your statements), that is why we elect them. Looks to me like you need to find a anarchist state to live in – try somalia. It is probably the closest thing at present since NATO intervened in Afghanistan.

    You sound like another pathetic superhero – right down to the name

  15. AncientGeek 15

    Catherine: I actually agree with you. Such an open-ended question is a bit useless. I hope that when they select questions for the Used Car Salesman aka Slippery John aka Mr FlipFlop aka (what is his real name?), that the questions are a bit better defined.

  16. randal 16

    I think history will look back and judge Helen Clark as New Zealands greatest ever prime minister not only for the achievements of her government but for the ability to defuse the cancerous corrosive and corrupt attacks from the mental midgets on the right

  17. Tane 17

    EWS, the early labour leaders who opposed the First World War were right in doing so – that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember those who died or reflect on the pointlessness and destruction of war.

    Respect for the dead and anti-imperialism can go hand in hand, and for me that’s what Anzac Day is about.

  18. lonelyavenger 18

    AncientGreek,

    I was responding to Susan who send Clark didn’t send New Zealanders to Iraq. She quite clearly did.

    “As for the rest of it, I suppose that you think that legalising heroin in a good idea,”

    Given that would be both ethically just and, pragmatically speaking, would be less destructive than prohibition, yes I do.

    “that the defamation laws should be removed”

    Rubbish. There’s a difference between restricting honest speech and outlawing lies and deception.

    “and that there should be no legislation about contract law.”

    Rubbish. There’s a difference between enforcing a just legal framework than changing the framework midship in a desperate attempt to appeal to xenophobes leftover from the New Zealand First party.

    “Because without a definition about why you think your one-liners are relevant, then these are the logical extension of your statements.”

    No, you’ve arbitrarily made ridiculous slippery-slope-style assertions that don’t in the slightest follow from my statements.

    But let’s get back to the point: which of the following is not a freedom:

    - the right to party pills
    - the right to sell what you own
    - the right to use your own money to make political statements

    You could argue that the restrictions on freedoms are justified for the greater good (although I would disagree), but you cannot argue that freedoms have not been abridged.

    Since the rest of your post was a mixture of logical fallacies, arguments following from incorrect assertions and immature personal attacks, I’ll ignore it.

  19. AncientGeek 19

    LV: thats a bit better.

    No, you’ve arbitrarily made ridiculous slippery-slope-style assertions that don’t in the slightest follow from my statements.

    Thats because you didn’t say anything. It was in some kind of code. So I caught your attention by extending what you said.

    You have now largely stopped talking in neo-cons code (apart from the slipery-slope stuff). It is as hard to understand as when I start talking techno-geek. You should consider your audience when writing.

    Your general problem is that you don’t look back in history. All of the items you referenced have been in place long before this government. At most, the current government has made the bounds more explicit.

    drugs – well I see we have to disagree. After losing school friends in the 70′s to heroin, I’m entirely happy with not having much entering the country. Jim Anderton (the minister responsible) also has a personal interest in keeping the drug culture down.

    I have no idea of the effect of bzp. But I’d presume that it went through the same process that defines the danger to society and people from various drugs.

    Rather than focusing on one drug, why don’t you set your mind to modifying the process? That process was in place long before this government.

    private property: But contract law restricts your property rights as well. For instance it restricts your right to sell the same item more than once, whenever you feel so inclined. Surely that is a constraining your right to sell what you own? Face it – there is a legal framework that supports private ownership. Without it the concept of private ownership doesn’t exist (at least not without weapons).

    Again there have been restrictions in law on sale of any assets to foreign ownership long before this government for various reasons. In the instance that you’re referring to, holes were detected in the legislation, and corrected. Again you should be looking at the process, not the instance.

    Please read the electoral act 1993. The major change in the act was shifting the electoral period from 3 months, to starting at the start of the election year. Almost everything else was already in the act, but not clearly defined.

    The old act made the assumption that political campaigning could be associated with a political party, and therefore could be put into the spending restriction of a party.

    The exclusive brethren proved that not to always be the case, and the legislation was extended to cover campaign spending of ’3rd parties’. There was also a more precise definition of the details that had to be on the campaign material. That was because the EB used non-residential addresses.

    ——-

    So tell me why you think that any of these things you’re referring to are new restrictions of your freedom.

  20. Absolute Power 20

    History will be harsh on Helen Clark’s regime.

  21. Santi 21

    “Respect for the dead and anti-imperialism can go hand in hand, and for me that’s what Anzac Day is about.”

    What planet are you on Tane?

    In that line of thinking you should also celebrate the day of the year the USSR collapsed, when the ruthless Soviets invaded Hungary, the Czech Republic and killed freedom in Poland, but being an unabashed socialist I bet you don’t.

    Yes, pay your respect to Castro, a walking corpse.

  22. lonelyavenger 22

    I provided examples of what freedoms have been restricted by the current government. That they are continuations of old principles that restrict freedoms does not mean new freedoms have not been curtailed.

    Prior to the actions of the government, people were free to buy and sell BZP, now they are not. That is a new restriction.

  23. Prior to the activities of the current govenment same-sex couples were not free to have their union officially recognised. Now they are. That is a new freedom and arguably a much more significant one than the right to sell dull and nasty pseudo-drugs.

    And for the record I am in favour of legalising and then heavily regulating all drugs. What I wouldn’t give for a clean and legal supply of opiates instead of stone-age barbaric and dirty shit like alcohol…

  24. Absolute Power 24

    Drug addiction centers are already over flowing with addicts robinsod.

    P is causing huge damage to kiwi society.

  25. Gooner 25

    lonelyavenger said:

    “But let’s get back to the point: which of the following is not a freedom:

    - the right to party pills
    - the right to sell what you own
    - the right to use your own money to make political statements”

    You conflate freedoms with rights in these examples.

    A right guarantees intervention viz a viz the party who owes you a duty against that right: basically, protection of your right.

    A freedom, on the other hand, guarantees no intervention when that freedom is exercised. You can’t ask which of those are freedoms and then assert three ‘rights’. The first is arguably neither a right nor a freedom; the second is a right; and the third is a right in NZ, but should be a freedom.

  26. AP – the biggest problem drug is alcohol. I’ll admit P is not the best but even that pales in comparison with alcohol. And addiction isn’t so bad as long as it’s managed.

  27. Dean 27

    “EWS, the early labour leaders who opposed the First World War were right in doing so – that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember those who died or reflect on the pointlessness and destruction of war.”

    That’s an excellent point, and they were right to do so.

    Labour leaders also opposed world war 2. That was stupid.

    Which just goes to show how labour leaders can be stupid.

  28. Dean 28

    “drugs – well I see we have to disagree. After losing school friends in the 70′s to heroin, I’m entirely happy with not having much entering the country. Jim Anderton (the minister responsible) also has a personal interest in keeping the drug culture down.”

    That’ll be why Anderton has an interest in banning booze.

    Anderton has nothing to offer apart from having an interest in being a killjoy of epic proportions. Hey, prohibition works so well, right?

    Please.

  29. Gooner 29

    “And for the record I am in favour of legalising and then heavily regulating all drugs. What I wouldn’t give for a clean and legal supply of opiates instead of stone-age barbaric and dirty shit like alcohol ”

    Sod, we agree on this. Strange times aye!

  30. Dean 30

    “I know of no erosions of freedoms which have occurred on our watch. Any such assertion is sheer spin from the National Party and its friends.”

    I just can’t stop laughing.

  31. Absolute Power 31

    “And addiction isn’t so bad as long as it’s managed.”

    A throw away rubbish tin comment robinsod. What the hell are you on man?

  32. Tane 32

    Labour leaders also opposed world war 2. That was stupid.

    Some may have that I’m not aware of, but wasn’t it a Labour leader by the name of Michael Joseph Savage who took New Zealand into the second world war?

  33. Sam Dixon 33

    Yeah, Tane I think you’re right. In fact, wasn’t the First Labour Government the first Government in the world to declare war on Nazi Germany?

    EWS – do you think World War 1 was a good idea? I hope not because no-one else does. It was an imperialist folly and that is why left wingers all over the world opposed it at the time (when the German front collapsed in 1918 many front line units transformed into soldiers’ soviets, they were eventually crushed by the fascistic forebears of the Nazis, supported by the Allies. After World War 2, the allies were careful to keep military order in the defeated german armies to prevent that happening again). 90 years later and most people agree with those left wingers that it was a war that did not need to be fought.

    That doesn’t stop one showing respect to those who died. In fact, it is an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes that led to their deaths, and vow that we won’t be led into that situation again.

  34. “P is causing huge damage to kiwi society.”

    How exactly would a National approach to crime solve the P issue AP?
    Or are you simply following the classic National approach – which is to identify an issue, and say its terrible – but have absolutely no intention of doing anything about it.

    National was in power during the 1990s. What did they do about P then? Metamphetamines have been around since the 1980s (in pure form).

    The current government’s approach is to target the manufacturers. What do you suggest should change, AP?

    I could come out with inflammatory statement i.e. “National has the potential to do huge damage to kiwi society”. Sure it might be accurate, but it doesn’t actually suggest a solution. Or is power power, AP?

  35. Steve Pierson 35

    what an interesting thread. the PM’s answers and EWS’s dickheadedness certainly sparked off some interesting topics.

    Responding to the criticisms of the wording of the third question: that’s how AndrewE wrote it. We don’t edit people’s questiosn we just try to chose the best of those submitted.

    The PM did write the questions herself, that’s what the office told me when I spoke to them and that’s been confirmed to me by contacts. And if you read them, they’re typically Clark: they aren’t rhetorically flowerly, and they get to the point.

    For the boozos saying that the banning of BZP is a restriciton on freedom – by that measure any regualtion or law that defines permissalbe behaviour is a restriction on freedom. That’s a stupid measure. The question is have any of our fundemental rights been more greatly restricted by Labour? I would argue no. Especially in the case of the EFA. In a democracy, voters have the right to make an informed choice, free of duress – secret campaigning and secret donors undermined that freedom – the EFA, by forcing people who are putting huge amounts of moeny into campaigns to reveal their identity and limit the amount they can spend, enhances the democratic freedom of voters to make their own minds up in an informed manner.

  36. ak 36

    “I am proud to lead a government which has worked so hard to restore fairness, opportunity, security, and hope to many New Zealanders”

    And so you should be Helen. History and the ongoing lot of countless future kiwis will shower your legacy with well-deserved garlands of respect and gratitude: never since Savage has this country enjoyed a leader imbued with such pure motivation, utter dedication, and sheer ability for the task of gently maintaining the world-leading direction of our beautiful country. The accomplishments of your government are appreciiated daily by millions of our citizens, and like those of your Labour predecessors, will colour, enhance and improve our lives forever.

    Take no notice whatsoever of the polls, the infantile and inane tory commenters above, and especially the disgusting “New Zealand Sucks’ campaign of your political opponents. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then National’s unilateral acceptance of your policies is your clearest mandate for even bolder advances.

    Talk to Hone and Pita: their people are still dying years earlier than they should.

    It’s the elephant in the rooom and probably the key to the election.

    You said you were up for it. Your record is already incredible and we thank you immensely, but please, one last effort: don’t let a slippery used car salesman beat you to the howdah.

  37. r0b 37

    I was glad to see the “erosion of freedoms” question got the short, direct answer that it deserved. The rest was much as expected.

    Burt and his ilk like to write off the list of Labour’s accomplishments dismissively as “the good list” and try to move on quickly to the latest beat-up pretend scandal instead. Well let’s not. Let’s take the time to reflect on that list from HC and what the last 9 years of Labour led government have achieved for the people if NZ. Like ak, I am very grateful.

    Win or lose the next election HC’s place in history as one of NZ’s great PMs is assured. That said, winning would be better than losing, so let’s go for it!

  38. AncientGeek 38

    Dean:

    Labour leaders also opposed world war 2. That was stupid.

    Who exactly. I’m a wee bit of student of history of the period. I can’t remember that.

    I can remember a number of major british politicians who did, including quite a number of tories.

    I can remember discussion in NZ amongst the labour movement – it is quite evident in the newspapers at the tme. I cannot remember any major labour party politicians who opposed it.

    While the discussion might seem a bit pointless. We are talking about stuff that happened 50-90 years ago. But the same arguments by NZ conservative politicians for going into the war in Iraq could changed for language and matched with the conservative reasons to go into every conflict in the 20th century. It seems to be a kneejerk reaction to send troops off to get killed because of loyalty, without bothering to see if the conflict is worthwhile or if we were committed to it by treaty. Of course not all of them a like that. But enough to see that there is a distinct pattern

    At least with Labour politicians they will actually use their brains.

  39. toms 39

    EWS: The New Zealand Labour party (founded 1916) and its key leadership team has been historically vindicated as being exactly right in its attitude to every war we’ve fought since 1914. Its members like Frazer and Savage opposed the great War, a pointless slaughter the confirmed the decadent and corrupt nature of the ruling European elites. Under Savage We stood out from the rest in voting to support the valiant struggle of the Spanish Republic against Franco’s fascist rebels. The Labour leadership recognised the evil of Hitler and under our greatest ever pair of PM’s – Savage and Frazer – we fought them from the very start to the final victory. Labour’s current leadership dedected the wrongness of the US war in Vietnam and correctly opposed it. Helen Clark saw that Afghanistan had to invaded to root out Bin Laden and she supported that, whilst also seeing that the attack on Iraq was an act of illegal adventurism that we as a nation must avoid at all costs.

    Labour has been vindicated by history as being right on every international conflict. That’s a proud record.

  40. Absolute Power 40

    toms , is the Labour Party “proud ” that the current Prime Minister called the people of the West Coast “feral inbreds” ?

    [lprent: if you're going to ask someone a question, usually you ask it about something they wrote. What you just did was try to start a flame - grow up or go out]

  41. toms 41

    I don’t know Absolute Power… Is the National “proud” that its last leader was a philander, and a corrupt puppet of big business?

  42. randal 42

    absolute power are you proud to be a nasty little creep?

  43. Even if you believe that 19 Arab hijackers led by a crazy guy in a cave could have perpetrated the attacks of 911, in which case I suggest you get your tuition fees back because you clearly did not understand the laws of physics, then surely it would not have been too much to ask of the United States government to provide proof that Osama Bin Laden was indeed involved before going to war.

    In fact no proof was ever offered to support the official “conspiracy theory’ that Osama Bin Laden was involved in the 911 attacks, Osama Bin Laden was never put on the official FBI most wanted list for the crimes of 911. Osama Bin Laden twice denied having had anything to do with the attacks on 911 in the months after the attacks, and the Taliban leaders offered to hand over Osama Bin Laden if the United States could provide proof of his involvement. Not only has the United States government never offered any proof of Osama Bin Laden guilt, the invasion of Afghanistan never resulted in the apprehension of Osama Bin Laden and his merry band of terrorists. In fact Osama Bin Laden and his men have been allowed to escape on two occasions one of them being from Tora Bora.

    The other reason for invading Afghanistan, the liberation of the Afghanistan people from the evil Taliban, which was initially claimed as a resounding success seems a long gone memory and the coalition of the “killing’ has had to increase troops on the ground several times.

    Ask yourself this: if we only went to Afghanistan to catch Osama Bin Laden and the “Terrorists’ and to liberate the Afghanistan people then why are the NATO and the United States army using depleted uranium shells. Depleted uranium shells explode upon impact and spread billions and billions of highly radioactive nano particles of dust in the year everybody and I mean everybody, not just the Taliban warriors, but ordinary Afghanistan people, men, women and children and coalition troops who breathe in these nano particles will have highly radioactive nano particles, capable of penetrating cell membranes throughout the entire human body travelling around in their bodies causing birth defects, hideously deformed children and myriads of cancers developing sometimes 10 to 15 years later. Ask yourself why NATO and the United States find it perfectly acceptable to cover both Afghanistan and Iraq in a layer of radioactive dust with a ½ life of 4.5 billion years rendering both countries toxic to live in until quite possibly the end of the world’s existence. It doesn’t sound like liberation to me. I call it Genocide.

    The United States used the events of 911 to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and is now building up momentum in order to evade Iran not because they felt compelled to bring democracy and freedom to these countries but because they wanted control of these countries resources. They wanted the oil and they wanted Afghanistan to start growing opium again which had virtually stopped under the rule of the Taliban and which was a main source of income for the CIA.

    Helen Clark in all probability with a misguided sense of solidarity with the American people and probably forced by New Zealand’s indignation that two of its citizens had been killed in the 911 attack sent troops into Afghanistan to assist with an illegal invasion of Afghanistan.

    Only the use of depleted uranium should be reason enough for the New Zealand people, who were after all the most bravest of people when confronting France about their nuclear experiments and who vowed never to have nuclear energy or a weapons on their soil, to ask the question: why are we still in Afghanistan after 7 years, why do we need to send more troops and to demand a new investigation into the events that led up to sending 1200 New Zealand troops in harm’s way, not just from being killed in battle but by being exposed to toxic, radioactive dust from exploded DU shells used by our Allies: The attacks on the day of 911.

  44. AncientGeek 44

    travellerev: Ignoring all of your other stuff, and just picking up on one teeny point.

    Depleted uranium shells are used against armored targets because the mass is required to penetrate the armour. They are ineffective against every other type of target because the mass makes them go straight through (explosive shells are used instead).

    There were very few armored vehicles left in Afghanistan, in fact so few that NATO only sent light armor. After Gulf War I, there were relatively few armored vehicles left in Iraq, which is why the number of heavy tanks sent by the coalition was quite low.

    So tell me this. If there are no significant armored targets, why would the military be firing depleted uranium shells?

    I know that they did in Gulf War I – but that was not Gulf War II or Afghanistan.

    So exactly why should I think much of the rest of the rave, when there is such a glaring error in it?

  45. Pascal's bookie 45

    I doubt EWS will respond to the stuff he no doubt intended to provoke, but I’ll just expand a little on some of the history Toms put forward. In the same spirit that EWS framed his comment.

    Not only did Labour in NZ make the right calls with regard to WWI and WWII, but the western left in general was spot on about fascism from the get go. The supporters and sympathisers for fascism in the west were almost the man industrialists, aristocrats and etsablishment types. Tories.

    The Labour movement in the west opposed the fascist movements in Spain, Germany, Italy and later Chile and Argentina. Western Right wingers, in hindsight, called them Prematurely anti facsist with regard to Spain. They openly supported south american fascists even as those fascists were throwing nuns out of helicopters. The Catholic church opposed left wing religious arguments against the govt in the form of liberation theology. Apparently property rights for capatalists trumps dead nuns.

    The first thing fascist goverments do is destroy the union movement, and they do so with support of the industrialists and owners of capital. As long as they do not nationalise the foreign owned assets of western corporations they will get no complaints from western right wingers when they start with the torture, the death squads, and the throwing of opponents out of helicopters.

    I’ll also note, for EWS sake, the two things that Austria, Spain, Italy, Chile and Argentina have in common. Also, vichy France (the active resistance was mostly leftwing)

    1. Popular fascist support strong enough to allow a govt of that persuasion to rule.

    2. Catholicism.

  46. Martin 46

    EWS I my earliest memory of being told about the ANZACs was at the RSA by a returned serviceman, as part of a cub scout trip.

    He was extremely rude about the whole operation in Gallipoli and about the English military brass who sent us there, one of whom was Churchill.

    The reason ANZAC day is a national holiday is that the ANZAC core found a sense of antipodean comradeship, while bravely and ingenously trying to extricate themselves from the horific and unecessary position their colonial masters had put them in.

    To be opposed to this senseless waste of life is hardly something to be ashamed of.

  47. jh 47

    One of Helen Clarks greatest achievements must be overseeing the changes in Kiwi lifestyles and values. I’m talking about the great coastal flog off , the over development of Queenstown etc .

  48. redbus 48

    There’s still passion in her heart. That’s for sure!!

    Excellent Prime Minister.

  49. Again, I can’t get over how badly informed and ignorant the average Pakeha male is and how they still think that white guys are the good guys and how incredibly arrogant they generally are.
    Ancientgeek, why bother with broadband if you’re only going to play games on your computer and write ill informed comments.
    If you, instead of writing your arrogant little reaction to my comment, had bothered to Google two words: Afghanistan and DU you would have gotten a response of 537.000 hits.
    Let me spell it out for you: We are not the good guys in Afghanistan.
    We being “the coalition of the killing’.
    Perhaps New Zealand troops don’t do a lot of killing themselves but merely by being there they’re giving credence to the fact that NATO and the United States are in the country legally. They are not. The war in Afghanistan is not “the good war’. The war in Afghanistan is like any other war: You either kill or get killed.
    So for your information I will give you a couple of links to websites that show the full horror of using depleted uranium as a weapon and some links to websites that prove beyond a shadow of the doubt that DU is used indiscriminately in Afghanistan and Iraq. As far as I’m concerned every single Western leader who is part of “the coalition of the killing’ is a war criminal and should be sent to the Hague and that includes Helen Clark and Phil Goff. There is absolutely no excuse for ignorance about what really happens in the wars after seven years of brutal occupation of both the Iraq and Afghanistan just like there will be absolutely no justification for the pending attack on Iran.
    Here is a nice site with photos of babies born in Afghanistan. A word of warning though these are not nice cuddly babies, this is what happens with babies when their mothers or fathers are contaminated with DU.
    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2412
    When my husband and I saw these photos we opened a bottle of our homemade whisky and got smack faced, and when we came to we got smack faced again. I dare you to have a look at them and not feel the urge to get totally plastered for the next 24 hours. The next sites give estimates of how much DU has been used over the last seven years in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
    http://globalresearch.ca/articles/MOR407A.html
    http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2001/msg01050.html
    http://www.countercurrents.org/us-paulinson161106.htm
    http://www.willthomasonline.net/willthomasonline/US_Veteran_Reveals_Atomic_Bombs.html
    And finally this is the site with MP3′s of three DU specialists telling their story about why DU is not a good idea.
    http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Rokke-Depleted-Uranium-DU21apr03.htm
    After you’ve worked your way through these sites I urge you to sit down and just think about what has been happening to the Afghanistan and Iraqi people but also to 1200 of New Zealand’s finest. And not just them but also their families and friends because out of their duffel bags came toxic nuclear dust that will inevitably contaminate their environment in New Zealand for or 4.5 billion years.
    Welcome to the real world.

    Captcha: political light another cool blog name

  50. I found this nice little video. An American soldier testifies about the indiscriminate use of DU in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh oops they found radio active dust on the NASA space station from the DU used. this means that it is everywhere. Still think the war in Afghanistan is the good war?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud0SP5rg_5s

  51. Matthew Pilott 51

    travellerev – is the work of the PRT in Afghanistan a bad thing?

  52. Jum 52

    lonelyavenger
    April 25, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Lonely Avenger – I’m sure you were referring to not being able to sell what you own. I assume you meant the Auckland Airport. That’s very strange.

    I remember owning it in 1998 under a National Government and suddenly I didn’t own it anymore.

    So how can the shareholders profess to owning something they stole from me?

  53. Hi Matthew,

    I had to look the meaning of PRT up because I was not familiar with the term, me not being a New Zealander. I have come to understand that the mentality of the New Zealand soldier is not based on aggression as such and that the PRT in and on itself is doing good work in the Banyan province.
    One of the political leaders of the local tribes visited New Zealand not so long ago and expressed her gratitude for the good work the PRT was doing in helping her people. So is the work they are doing a bad thing; No, it seems they are doing a good job helping people.

    But in my humble opinion that is neither here nor there.

    When Helen Clark was pressured into becoming a member of the “coalition of the willing’ it was done with the arguments that we would only go in there to catch Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda because of their alleged involvement with the attacks on 911 and because the Taliban were suppressing Afghan women and were forcing the entire population to live in medieval circumstances.

    New Zealand as well as a country where I come from; Holland as well as many other smaller countries were roped in to become part of a team.
    All the countries involved in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars signed the Geneva Convention and other what international treaties pertaining to rules of engagement, rules about prisoners of war rules about constitute weapons of mass destruction and the conventional weapons and to what amount of responsibility each individual has when partaking in a war.
    While I have the greatest respect for the New Zealand soldiers and their commitment to helping the local population, this is not what seems to be the purpose of other members of their team.
    To date approximately 2000 tonnes of RW=DU (radioactive waste now named depleted uranium) have been used in Afghanistan alone the result of which is a country contaminated with radioactive waste for the rest of this planets existence. Not only that, the radioactive dust has spread into the atmosphere and is spreading worldwide, in fact in the UK radioactive activity has spiked tremendously since the two wars commenced and they even have found radioactive material on the NASA space station. I suggest you link through to the sites in my previous comments if you really want to know how horrible radioactive contamination is and what it does to unborn children for example.

    If you are part of a war effort no matter in what capacity; you are part of the team and it is your responsibility either as a soldier, officer or as minister of defence or prime minister to make sure that you and your team keep to the treaties.
    RW=DU contaminates indiscriminately, it is impossible to use this particular material as a conventional weapon. Radioactive dust settles everywhere, kills indiscriminately in horrific ways and violates the Geneva Convention in many ways.
    Added to that the Americans and NATO are breaking other Geneva Convention rules with regards to the treatment of prisoners of war and with their use of torture.
    According to the Geneva Convention if you do not separate yourself from and try to bring to justice those who engage in war crimes than you are equally guilty. We have been in this war for over six years, in fact in October it will be seven years.
    That is seven years of RW=DU, illegal rendition and torture and now not only do we not stop being complicit Phil Goff is actually committing more new Zealanders to this never ending war.

    Is a bit like: your mates ask you to help this poor oppressed family living in another neighbourhood, you don’t really feel like it but hey, they’re your mates so you go with them but once you’re there will you go about helping want member of the family you find that the rest of your friends start bullying, torturing and poisoning is poor oppressed family and what’s more your mates start robbing them blind, grow opium in their backyard, steel the tank of oil they had stashed in their garden. And while you diligently help one part of the family the others get massacred and disposed of in other horrible ways, yet when your mates are skewed to get some more friends to come over instead of saying, “you’re nuts I’m leaving,’ you say, “sure’ and when finally someone calls the police and they come and arrest all of you, you say, “But it wasn’t me.’
    My guess is if there is a court case in which you in your mates are being held to account the judge would say, “Maybe you didn’t commit a crime, but they were your mates, you were there and you did nothing to stop them, in fact you even invited another friend to join in.’
    Perhaps, the fact that you and your friend did indeed do everything you could to help that one member of the family will count as a mitigating circumstance but that’s all.
    In fact chances are that the fact that little old respectable New Zealand chucked a few troops made other people in the neighbourhood feel that was probably all right because you were involved, in other words you being they’re partly enabled your mates to commit the crimes that they did.
    The decent thing would have been to try and stop them or leave and try to get help for these poor people. Staying and pretending you’re not part of the violence because you’re really trying to help one or two members of the family while the rest gets tortured and killed is the coward’s way out.

  54. Matthew Pilott 54

    Use of delpeted uranium munitions aside (if you can for a minute), your analogy isn’t the best. Try changing it for something along the lines of one part of the vamily being a violent gang, and the other being innocent family members. We’re looking after the second lot. In real life, my analogy isn’t much better than yours, but yours is actually atrocious; I would prefer not to resort to using them in the first place.

    By your standards, the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres and co are equally as duplicitous – they’re working in Afghanistan while several countries engage in military operations. Or will you try and claim that it’s not ok for our humanitarian forces to be in there because they’re in unoform, but it’s perfectly ok for non-uniformed humanitarian organisations to be working in the country? That would be a pretty low argument – the colour of someone’s clothes being the difference between right or wrong.

    I suggest your perspective is too strongly tempered by something you see as abhorrent (DU munitions) to clearly see who is involved and complicit in their use.

    Emotive use of ‘cowards way out’ to describe an alteranative to your view isn’t all that productive, although I gather this is something you feel strongly about. I will just point out that you did need to look up the term PRT, which is not specific to New Zealand by any standard – there’s more to the situation that the black and white view you espouse.

    I haven’t looked at your links (I’m at work, and therefore have chosen not to – an option that may prove prudent when I get home and check them out) but your description of their use and effects differs vastly from what I know. Although I generally have a fair distaste for certain military practices and actors, I would have to question why the US would use a weapon that will have such an effect – look at the aftermath of Agent Orange. A cynic would suggect that they’d be unlikely to learn from something like that the first time around though…!

  55. FredFrog 55

    “I think history will look back and judge Helen Clark as New Zealands greatest ever prime minister not only for the achievements of her government but for the ability to defuse the cancerous corrosive and corrupt attacks from the mental midgets on the right”

    Erm….

    no, she’ll go down in history as the kiwi Nero, fiddling while the economy goes into meltdown. Completely ineffectual, as she’s never had a real job, and never been at the coalface, and so has no idea the hardships that her half baked ideas, and even more half baked coalition tails, have forced on us.

    Ah well, it’s all over bar the shouting anyway, even before any ballots have been cast.

    National are in, Labour are out, and I’ll enjoy watching National dismantle the inefficient bureaucracies, stacked with Helens bootlickers, and replace them with streamlined, efficient structures.

    Of course, this will most likely mean that the core Labourites (Hah! The party name is such an oxymoron!), will have to get off their bludging arses, and go out and actually work for a living.

    [lprent: Looks like we have another idiot frothing with stereotypes here.

    Should I save myself some effort and just ban the stupid dickhead right now?

    After all he seems to be implying that as a core Labour supporter, that I don't work for a living. I'm not sure exactly how that squares with the millions in export earnings I generate each year or my tax bill.

    What do you think?]

  56. Pascal's bookie 56

    Now that’s a slow typist.

  57. Matthew Pilott 57

    Do you think this tool has been working on that post since April? Judging by the intelligence contained within, I guess so.

    Honestly, who wanks on about “streamlined, efficient structures”? The government ain’t a friggin’ wind farm. What a gimp.

  58. Anita 58

    Matthew Pilott writes,

    The government ain’t a friggin’ wind farm.

    Wow, currently my favourite comment here :)

  59. Higherstandard 59

    MP

    “The government ain’t a friggin’ wind farm”

    I would suggest you watch parliamentary TV sometime as the evidence presented there suggests it has many similarities.

  60. Matthew Pilott 60

    Thanks Anita. Gotta love fridays.

    Higherstandard – entirely true, metaphorically speaking! I stand corrected. If only we could harness such energy. Winston and Hide alone (well together) could easily power a town the size of Sanson.

  61. higherstandard 61

    True MP very true and coupled with the potential methane output from Gerry and Parekura we may have gone a long way to solving the power issues of the future !

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