web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Nats ramp up attacks on local government

Written By: - Date published: 12:19 pm, June 8th, 2012 - 21 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, local government - Tags:

The neoliberals hate democracy. It tends to get in the way. Especially local government. It’s easier to control a single unicameral Parliament than it is to control 70-odd territorial authorities. National has attacked local government, particularly in Auckland and Canterbury but now they’re going all out with more dictatorships and forced mergers.

I/S at No Right Turn explains two nasty elements of National’s new local government bill.

A recipe for local body dictatorship

Two years ago, the Government imposed a dictatorship in Canterbury, suspending elections to Environment Canterbury, removing the elected councillors, and replacing them with a pack of unelected cronies with a mandate to run Canterbury in the interests of Wellington, not local residents. The move went far beyond what was permitted under the Local Government Act, and required special enabling legislation (which was of course rammed through under all-stages urgency). Now the government wants the power to do this to any council, whenever they want.

The new Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill introduced to the House yesterday contains exactly that power. Here’s how it works: first, the Minister of Local Government declares that there is a “problem” in a local authority. What’s a “problem”? Pretty much anything they want:

a matter or circumstance relating to the management or governance of the local authority that detracts from, or is likely to detract from, its ability to give effect to the purpose of local government within its district or region

Note that such a “problem” doesn’t actually have to be occurring; a potential problem – something the Minister thinks might happen – is enough.

The next step is to appoint a Crown Review Team. Currently, this requires that there be outright refusal by local government to comply with the law, which is impairing good governance or endangering public health. Now it merely requires the Minister to believe on reasonable grounds that there is a “significant” (meaning: likely to have adverse consequences – note the lack of scale in there) problem that the local authority can’t or won’t solve. Finally, if the Crown Review Team recommends it – and of course if the Minister picks the right crony, they will recommend whatever is desired – the Minister can roll the elected members, suspend elections, and impose a dictatorship (complete with terms of reference requiring them to act against the will of local voters). And this isn’t a short-term, limited power – such a dictatorship can last indefinitely.

Want a concrete example? Consider this: Christchurch has had an earthquake. This is a “problem” in terms of the new amendment. It is struggling to pay to rebuild its infrastructure after said earthquake, and raising rates and borrowing money in the process. This too is a “problem”.

The government thinks Christchurch should pay for that rebuild by selling its local body assets to their cronies, so they can extort monopoly rents from earthquake victims while paying lower rates on their expensive houses in Fendalton and Merivale and Cashmere. The council, responsive to its people, disagrees. At this stage, the government can either appoint a crony to “review” the council and recommend that it be rolled, or it can just declare that the earthquake rebuild is a “significant” problem, that failing to deal with it (e.g. by quickly rebuilding sewers and water infrastructure) endangers public health, that the Christchurch City Council isn’t willing to deal with it properly (because they’re not willing to pillage their city against the will of its people “take the financial steps necessary to ensure a faster rebuild”), et voila! Jenny Shipley gets another crony job, as unelected Mayor of Christchurch.

Don’t think it will happen? Wait and see.

(Interestingly, under the new rules, it will be easier for the government to suspend elections than call new ones. Which is a little odd, when you think about it)

Ministerial intervention powers are necessary when local government fails. But these go well beyond what is necessary, and allow the democratic decisions of local communities to be overturned by a central government which thinks it knows better. That is undemocratic, and it is wrong. These powers should not be enacted.

Another nasty surprise

While we’re on the topic of the government’s new Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill, it has another nasty surprise: mergers. Currently, local bodies can only be reorganised (have their boundaries or responsibilities changed, or be merged or split) on application from the local authority, the Minister, or a petition signed by 10% of the electors of that authority. The new rules would abolish the petition requirement and instead allow “any body or group with an interest in the governance of the area or areas that the reorganisation application relates to” to make an application. So your unelected local Chamber of Commerce can force a reorganisation proposal, without any democratic mandate to do so.

It gets worse. Currently if a reorganisation involves a local authority being abolished, merged, or split, it must be put to the voters. In order to pass, it must gain a majority in each district affected. Under the new rules, there’s no requirement to have a vote. If local residents want one, they have to get 10% of eligible voters (which means about 20% of actual local body voters) to sign a petition demanding one. Otherwise, it just happens. How much time do they have to gather those signatures? 40 working days. That’s not a “democratic check”; it’s a bad joke. And even if they gather those signatures to force a poll, it passes or fails on a simple majority. So people elsewhere can vote to abolish your local government, take over your community, and sideline you from control of it.

…which is precisely the point: to let big communities take over and rule smaller ones against their will. Whatever you want to call this, it isn’t democracy.

21 comments on “Nats ramp up attacks on local government”

  1. Carol 1

    Following the experiences of the shift to Auckland supercity, it seems to me that the current shifts are towards a top-down form of organisation of local authorities. NAct seem to organise such things so as to stifle any grassroots input or consultation. They are inherently anti-democratic.

    I also have some concerns about the way that the Whau Board was set up with the supercity, which amounts to gerrymandering. And there was no consultation with people in the area before this was done. This seems to have split off New Lynn from the west – the west was pretty crucial in not supporting a vote for Banks as Mayor.

    New Lynn has continued to be the centre of re-development (begun under the Labour government and Waitakere Council).

    But now the revitalisation is serving to shift the centre of the West from Henderson, to New Lynn, which is now amalgamated with Auckland central city.

    http://www.localcouncils.govt.nz/lgip.nsf/wpg_URL/Profiles-Auckland-Council-Local-Boards-Auckland-Council-Local-Board-Whau?OpenDocument

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/ward_whau.pdf

    • ad 1.1

      Surely it can’t be that hard to find a hard-wrking and recognisable candidate to have a proper crack at Noelene Raffils? The MP has been Labour in New Lynn since it was invented. Surely the left can get their act together in the next local elections?

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        Ross Clow almost did it last time standing as an independent.  He is in the Labour Party.  He was previously a Waitakere City Councillor and is the chair of the Portage Licensing Trust.  I understand he is keen to stand again.  He would be a great improvement.

        • Carol 1.1.1.1

          Ah, I hope so, Micky.

          I recently had to move, and am in another part of the west, so won’t get to vote in Whau next time. But I still have significant links in the area, and have been watching what’s happening in New Lynn. Also, what happens there will clearly have an impact on the whole of west Auckland.

  2. ianmac 2

    Wonder how that Northern district where they have an $80million sewerage scheme debt, would fare? Perhaps the Government would declare it in need and sack the Council and clear the debt.
    The big question of preserving Democracy as I/S writes, does need eternal vigilance.

    • Dr Terry 2.1

      Too late to “preserve democracy, because there aint none anymore, since the day this country found their new Nero in Key. A case can be made that the country actually opted out of democracy in 2008.
      “Oh, what a fall there was . . . “

  3. True Freedom is Self-Governance 3

    So, they’re up for some good old-fashioned boundary moving, George Double-yah style? If we make sure all the poorest (probably darkest, too) people are within a limited number of electorates then they cant get too many seats. What an underhanded way to make sure that certain people’s votes dont count.

  4. ad 4

    It would be great if this was able to be read generously – as if central government wanted to integrate central and local government together into common accountability platforms that could make the most of every kind of public agency.

    But that hasn’t been the experience. The experience is to completely reverse the grassroots democratisation intent of the 2002 Act, and just corporatise everything into specialist disciplines with very little interaction other than in very formal conduits such as LTP and RLTP.

    Local Government has gone – particularly in the Auckland case – from a participatory to a representative model of democracy, almost overnight.

    Listening recently to really cold people in massively damaged houses in Christchurch shivering after a snowstorm when the whole public sector has left them to the mercy of market forces was pretty stark. It’s the job of the public sector to intervene in a case like that, with all the housing and Public Works powers and facilities it has at its disposal.

    But not according to this merciles Government.

    A Micahel Joseph Savage approach to both the reform (ECAN) and rebuild of Christchurch would look quite different, one suspects.

  5. Horus 5

    It’s not a surprise but it is nasty! In Hawke’s Bay, the Hastings District Council has for years been trying to ‘absorb’ Napier to create a Hawke’s Bay District Council. However, the people of Napier have repeatedly opposed these overtures. Hastings being the larger of the two is highly indebted and has not come up with a prudent way to resolve their debt other than by taking over Napier, who has lucrative assets such as the Napier port and shared airport.

    With the Local Government Act Amendment, the mayor of Hastings can’t wait until he can make his land grab.

  6. Jimmie 6

    There are two things that should require central government approval.

    1 Debt taken on by local councils for capital projects.

    2 General rates increases over/above the rate of inflation

    If each council was forced to justify either of the above to a government minister or board it would help avoid fiscal nightmares (which future rate payers have to deal with) such as happened in Dunedin with their stadium.

    Also why councils think that increasing rates year after year is their God given right is beyond me – often I think councillors simply don’t have the financial acumen to run their councils – and don’t get me started on senior council staff pay rates…..

    • Murray Olsen 6.1

      I can’t see a NAct government thinking that the building of a rugby stadium is ever a bad idea. I can’t see them thinking that the building of safe public housing is ever a good idea. Whatever the problem is with local government, running it from Wellington is not the solution.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      Also why councils think that increasing rates year after year is their God given right is beyond me – often I think councillors simply don’t have the financial acumen to run their councils – and don’t get me started on senior council staff pay rates…..

      They’re stuck in a model of unsustainable economic growth.

      And you can solve the problem of excessive pay rates by introducing 49% and 59% income tax brackets.

  7. rosy 7

    The biggest problem with local government is that so many people simply don’t care about the entity that has the single biggest impact on their everyday lives – from whether the rubbish is collected to whether a factory is built next door – and that is allowing the government to simply remove people’s democratic rights with little opposition, it’s despicable that the government is using this to set up mini dictatorships.

    In terms of local government my view is that NZ is too small, population-wise for the number of local councils and elected representatives that we have. I’m all for direct democracy – a council CEO, and an army of technocrats who put together a 5-year plan and signal future concerns; and bureaucrats who deal with the day to day running of a city. Town hall meetings are run to gain approval of council plans.

    Instead of a mayor there is a liaison person to deal with central government and government advocates for the local body areas.

    Planning legislation and environmental legislation to be paid out of central government funds. There is no way that some small councils can adequately fund the planning process or provide the technical expertise for some major developments.

    • Roger 7.1

      Rosy, I disagree with your comment: “I’m all for direct democracy – a council CEO, and an army of technocrats who put together a 5-year plan and signal future concerns; and bureaucrats who deal with the day to day running of a city. Town hall meetings are run to gain approval of council plans.”

      Your “direct democracy” sounds like something modelled on fascism. A better model would be a decentralised community-based participatory model where residents decide on the priorities and elect representatives to ensure they are delivered. Council CEOs already have considerable power we dont’ need to give them more. In fact if you don’t value local democratic input and your goal is efficient delivery of services then you end up abolishing local government all together and handing it all over to central government. Local decisions are best made locally – by those most impacted by them.

      • rosy 7.1.1

        hehe – fair enough it does read a bit like that – unintentional… I truly believe communities should decide how their city should be. Of course community meetings and community decision-making should come first, definitely, then the technocrats make their 5-year plans based on submissions from the community. Conflicting interests are sorted at town hall meetings when the council are in a position to provide information about how the submissions would work in practice – cost, environment, safety – alls those things that the general community should not be expected to have expertise in (although they may).

        The most important thing to me is that people are involved in approving decisions – not some councillors that around 30 percent of people have voted for, because others don’t understand, and are alienated from the process of how their city runs – and they are unaware of the implications.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    If anyone saw Campbell on TV3 tonight, they would realise that the elected numpties who ran the ECANT for 10 years stonewalled the introduction of a super-efficient wood burner that produced virtually no smoke or particulates.

    At least now the commissioners in charge have recognised its value and are pushing to allow suitably efficient wood burners in Christchurch, which at least allow people to stay warm if there is an earthquake or snowstorm that cuts power.

    • Te Reo Putake 8.1

      Yeah, because earthquakes and once in a hundred year snowstorms were so commonplace back when they were making the decision? The numpty is you, TS. Ending the reliance on woodburners was a commonsense response to a significant problem that made the city a smog bound hole every winter. I can’t wait for this dismally average government to be gone from our lives. You’ve just added another reason to wish for an early election.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      What would actually be better would be retrofitting the houses up to reasonable standards and putting some solar panels on the roofs to run the heat pump. Unfortunately, the government (both local and central) are too stuck in their old, cheap and nasty, ways to do that.

      • tsmithfield 8.2.1

        “Ending the reliance on woodburners was a commonsense response to a significant problem that made the city a smog bound hole every winter”

        One point is that the woodburner that was the subject of the Campbell show produces particulates of 0.5 grams for every kilo of wood burnt. That is, virtually nothing. So, if all the inefficient burners were replaced with this one, the smog problem would be solved.

        Another point is that the elected numpties have allowed pellet fires over this period, which, while highly efficient, are not as efficient as the wood burner on TV3 last night. So, the resistance to the burner has been ideological and stupid.

        Finally, moving the city to electricity over wood burners is putting considerable extra load on our power system, pushing up prices. The demand for extra power is not without environmental costs in terms of C02 when coal generators are fired up, or environmental damage when new dams are built.

  9. Max Moss 9

    New Zealand is NOT a democracy. It is a parliamentary dictatorship.

    The next great battle will be for democracy: for the voters to be able to stop actions of parliament (via binding citizen initiated referendums) and for voters to have decision making power over local matters without interference from parliament.

    I predict there will be no support from our Labour MP’s for democratic reforms. I strongly support my local Labour MP, but only because I think he will be a better dictator than a Tory dictator. But what I really want is democracy, not another left wing dictatorship.

  10. captain hook 10

    they about to railroad the Wairarapa shortly and fold it into the wellington patronage machine with no representation.
    democracy it aint.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Obviously the start of a ‘We [fill-in-the-space]ed some folks’ meme
    During an otherwise sleepy news conference about immigration and the economy, the president answered a question about the impending release of a Senate report that criticizes the CIA’s treatment of detainees after 9/11. “We did some things that were wrong,”...
    The Paepae | 01-08
  • A brief statement from John Archibald Banks
    Greetings and salutations to you all. I am John Archibald Banks and I’m here to clear the air following my sentencing yesterday on trumped-up and, quite frankly, ludicrous charges of electoral fraud. Let me categorically state here and now, for...
    My Thinks | 01-08
  • The inflationary impact of road spend-ups
    It’s time for a quick round of everyone’s favourite game, Ask An Economist. Today’s question is: What happens when the government decides to spend up large in a growing economy? If you guessed that the answer is that it will...
    Transport Blog | 01-08
  • Wellingtonians say ‘No!’ to Israeli aggression
    .   . Wellington, NZ, 26 July – About 600 Wellingtonians, and from further afield, met at the Cuba Mall Bucket fountain under a wintery sunny sky, to protest Israel’s continuing aggression in the Gaza strip, which – at the...
    Frankly Speaking | 01-08
  • The FBI, Kim Dotcom, John Key, and John Banks ‘Coincidence’
    July 16th:  Kim Dotcom announces he has a “political bombshell” about John Key (NZ Prime Minister) which he will release information about five days before the general election   July 31st:  Deputy Director of the FBI attends a secret meeting...
    An average kiwi | 01-08
  • John Banks – all over bar the appeal
    John Banks appeared for sentence this morning at the Auckland High Court and received two months’ Community Detention and 100 hours Community Work. A copy of the judgment is attached here). I’d been waiting for the news that his application...
    Occasionally erudite | 01-08
  • Stuart’s 100 #5: A Traffic Free Queen St for Christmas
    Stuart’s 100 continues: 5: A Traffic-Free Queen Street for Christmas What if Queen Street stayed closed to traffic after the Christmas Parade? Every year for one Saturday in November Queen Street is closed to traffic for one of Auckland’s greatest...
    Transport Blog | 01-08
  • A thousand deaths
    Why was John Banks treated so leniently? Why didn't the judge pass sentence of death? The sentence imposed on John Banks for breaching electoral law raises a number of serious questions....
    Imperator Fish | 01-08
  • Herald on regional roads fiasco
    Here is Adam Bennet in the Herald today: Shaky case for $212m fast-tracked road plan The National Government's $212 million plan to fast-track regional road projects using asset sales cash is not backed by a strong economic case, documents released...
    Polity | 01-08
  • Killing civilians
    Emergency workers carry the body of one of the people killed when Flight MH17 was shot down A Gallup poll, of Americans by religious affiliation, about whether it’s ever justified for “the military” to target and kill civilians The same poll, posing the same...
    Cut your hair | 01-08
  • Is the GCSB tapping all our cables?
    So, at the same time the GCSB was planning to inflict their new spy-law on us, they were being visited by an NSA technician to discuss installing undersea cable taps:The most instrusive and powerful tools in the United States' electronic...
    No Right Turn | 01-08
  • July ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
     Image Credit: Learn Blog Tips There are now over 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake,...
    Open Parachute | 01-08
  • Sign up to increase cycling funding
    In June the Draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on transport was released by the Ministry of Transport. The GPS outlines where transport funding will go over the next 3 years. Sadly it considered the business as usual of focussing on...
    Transport Blog | 01-08
  • Arrest of forest rights activists symbolic of what’s wrong in India
    It was just past midnight when Indian police hauled two Greenpeace India activists out of their sleep and arrested them this week as a crackdown on protests against a planned coal mine in the Mahan forest intensified.The arrests are the...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 01-08
  • Breach of contract
    When National set up charter schools, they promised that they would be more accountable, and that contracts were a better means of enforcing standards than the usual school system.Only if they're enforced:“The Whangaruru contract online shows that the school must...
    No Right Turn | 01-08
  • Tamati’s Big Red Fundraiser
    Wow. I’d never organised a fundraiser before. Some people have got that organising gene and some people don’t. I don’t really, but I’m a hard worker and I love a good challenge. Picture this. Saturday night, venue all set, drinks...
    Labour campaign | 01-08
  • Labour Posters are going up!
    We've got massive posters up all around the country. They're about Labour's plan for a positive future for New Zealand that puts people first. The posters in the photos here are in Auckland, but there's lots more going up around...
    Labour campaign | 01-08
  • Spying on their masters
    After being caught red-handed the CIA has finally admitted spying on the US Senate Committee which is investigating them for torture:The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence...
    No Right Turn | 01-08
  • Lifestyles of the rich & famous – hangin’ with Groser, McCu...
    The quarterly release of the ministerial and MP expense returns paints an interesting picture of some of our MPs. Most of our ministers, it must be said, seem to have heeded the harsh lesson of Shane Jones. The bright, shining...
    Occasionally erudite | 01-08
  • Hard News: Friday Music: Curatin’ for Your Love
    I'm pleased and intrigued that Lorde has been commissioned to curate the soundtrack for the next Hunger Games movie -- and I'd like to claim credit. Well, I can't really, but it was obvious to me after Ella picked Lorde's...
    Public Address | 01-08
  • Roads of Significance to National
    The Minister of Transport released a statement on Wednesday which boasted that traffic volumes were up, and that this was a sure sign of economic recovery: “Total travel [measured in kilometres travelled] was flat between 2005 and 2012, but growth returned in...
    Rebuilding Christchurch | 01-08
  • The problem with reporters…
    The problem with reporters, as Usain Bolt has discovered, is that they tend to record things when they want a quote. So when Mr Bolt, sprinter extraordinaire, was quoted as saying the Glasgow Commonwealth Games were “a bit shit”, and...
    Occasionally erudite | 01-08
  • World News Brief, Friday August 1
    Top of the AgendaIsrael Vows to Destroy Gaza Tunnels...
    Pundit | 01-08
  • Helen Kelly Speaks at Otago Uni AGM
    Helen Kelly NZCTU President TEU Annual General Meeting 1pm, Wednesday 13 August Moot Court, Otago University...
    Tertiary Education Union | 31-07
  • New Fisk
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts...
    No Right Turn | 31-07
  • The judiciary doesn’t take electoral crime seriously either
    That's the only conclusion which can be drawn from John Banks' laughable sentence for filing a false electoral return. A hundred hours of community service and an evening curfew for deliberately attempting to undermine our democracy? Well, that will encourager...
    No Right Turn | 31-07
  • Feed: Food Show 2014: Not Bad
    There are a number of things you can count on at The Food Show in Auckland. Among them: the stall immediately to the left of the entry to the hall is always a busy one. It's most people's first stop,...
    Public Address | 31-07
  • And justice has been seen to be done
    So the first line of John Banks' future obituary has now been written: "John Banks, former mayor of Auckland and a long serving MP and Minister for the National and Act Parties who was convicted of falsely reporting contributions to...
    Pundit | 31-07
  • People talking’ #17
    It being the weekend that truffle growers from all over New Zealand meet to discuss their trade and to eat the fruits of their endeavours, I will be absent from the Hot Topic helm for the next few days. Please...
    Hot Topic | 31-07
  • Gordon Campbell on the rise of ISIS, and Labour
    While global attention got distracted by the fate of MH17 and the atrocities in Gaza, the world’s other mega ‘bad news’ story – the rise of ISIS-led fundamentalism in Iraq – has reached a tipping point. Reportedly, the ISIS fighters...
    Gordon Campbell | 31-07
  • Wet bus ticket
    So John Archibald Banks has been convicted and sentenced for electoral fraud. Good. But the sentence is a complete joke. Here's what he got: 100 hours of community service. That's about 12 days of community work. A bit light, but...
    Polity | 31-07
  • Banks follows fathers footsteps
    For over three years after it became common knowledge that John Banks had intentionally filed a false electoral return, the National led government has relied on the disgraced MP's support to pass numerous controversial policies.Unfortunately National was allowed to continue...
    The Jackal | 31-07
  • Ministerial eating competition
    What if National wins a third term? The prospect, while unlikely, is worth considering. I think one thing we could do to lighten the mood if National wins is to run an eating competition between McCully and Groser. Whoever orders...
    Polity | 31-07
  • Surviving the restructure – Exiting with the pay out
    So casting your mind back… you’ve discovered that the company needs to shed some people. […] The post Surviving the restructure – Exiting with the pay out appeared first on Connected....
    Potentia | 31-07
  • Closed Processes Don’t Make For Open Government
    New Zealand has long enjoyed an enviable reputation as an international citizen. We are regularly rated as one of the most effective democracies in the world, and we recently topped a survey as the world’s most socially advanced country. No...
    Bryan Gould | 31-07
  • EBS Newsletter Winter 2014
    Welcome to our Winter newsletter, we hope that you are well and managing to dodge the bugs in the classroom! Have a read through your newsletter below to make sure you know what you can access through your union and...
    Tertiary Education Union | 31-07
  • Stern Criticism of Westpac – From A Surprising Quarter
    A recently published article contains a stern critique of Westpac over their continuing financial support of coal miners Bathurst Resources, who have now begun removing “overburden” (i.e. the ecosystem) from the Denniston Plateau in preparation for larger-scale coal mining when...
    Coal Action | 31-07
  • AT drops Newton Station for cheaper CRL
    Auckland Transport have announced they are cutting the Newton Station from the City Rail link in favour of an upgraded station at Mt Eden. A significant design change to the City Rail Link (CRL), will save over $150 million, improve...
    Transport Blog | 31-07
  • Sen Whitehouse Schools Sen Inhofe about Global Warming on the Senate Floor
    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) throws down an epic schooling of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on global warming after Inhofe blocked a resolution from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) simply acknowledging that global warming exists and poses a threat to the interests...
    Skeptical Science | 31-07
  • Have they got to 2000 yet?
    The last time Israel invaded Gaza (it isn't a "war" in any traditional sense - it is a ghetto liquidation with consequent resistance) was between the American presidencies of Bush and Obama.  The Israelis wiped out over a thousand Palestinians...
    Tumeke | 31-07
  • Who do you believe?
    On the back of numerous controversies that have plagued the National led government over the last few weeks, the left wing block of Labour and the Greens have managed to increase their support from 38.5% to 42% in the latest...
    The Jackal | 31-07
  • Labour can’t keep rewarding failure
    A recent column I wrote in the NZ Herald earned a ...
    Pundit | 31-07
  • Lack of media interest in election policies
    It is hard not to feel that there is a major problem with mainstream media bias when the main opposition party announces that it plans to raise the minimum wage by $2 to $16.25 an hour by early 2015 (14%...
    Closing the Gap | 31-07
  • The agony of Gaza – What price the right of self-defence?
    As I write, the conflict in Gaza has seen yet another ceasefire deal squandered, with more death and destruction. Israel has repeatedly claimed its right to self-defence as justification for ‘Operation Protective Edge’. That claim is supported by leading Western...
    frogblog | 31-07
  • Murray McCully’s taxpayer-funded pissups
    Today was the last day of Parliament before the election, so naturally the government used it as cover to dump the quarterly Ministerial expenses reports. The media picked up pretty quickly on Tim Groser's $300 dinner of foie gras, (endangered)...
    No Right Turn | 31-07
  • STOP BOMBING ALREADY!!! (Leaked White House Transcript. 30 July 2014, EST )
    Gaza, an open-air prison? Israel’s $3 billion-a-year welfare check threatened? America scolds Israel? STOP THE PRESS!!! A leaked White House transcript of a heated phone-call earlier today reveals that US President Barack Obama told Israel’s Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to...
    Snoopman News | 31-07
  • 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #31A
    10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change A carbon tax that's good for business? Alaska communities at highest risk from ocean acidification Climate criminality': Australia OKs biggest coal mine IPCC climate change report's findings must be...
    Skeptical Science | 31-07
  • Poll of Polls update – 31 July 2014
    Roy Morgan has just released their latest poll, and finally there’s some relatively good news for the Left! It certainly didn’t take long for Micky Savage at the Standard to have a quick half-gloat… Or Martyn Bradbury at the Daily...
    Occasionally erudite | 31-07
  • Is the Gaza conflict going to resolve differently this time?
    The world witnesses yet another tragic spectacle of the perennial Israel /Palestine war over Gaza. There are the appalling pictures of dead and injured children in schools and hospitals. Enormous explosions are seen on our screens where multi-story buildings are...
    Pundit | 31-07
  • Parliament rises on a good note, thanks to some meddling kids
    The above video provides a good introduction to the slavery conditions of workers on foreign charter vessels fishing in NZ waters, as well as the Christchurch Anglican church’s involvement in it. While the Government took a while to act on the problem,...
    Cut your hair | 31-07
  • Key must come clean on NSA/GCSB interception site on NZ cable
    John Key must come clean after revelations that a US National Security Agency (NSA) engineer was in New Zealand in 2013 discussing with the GCSB the setting up of an interception site on New Zealand's only fibre optic cable, the...
    Greens | 01-08
  • Minister must explain shambles at Ministry
    Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-IIga must explain questionable spending and controversial staff appointments at his ministry, Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson, Su’a William Sio says. “Revelations about big spending and staffing problems at the Ministry of Pacific Islands...
    Labour | 01-08
  • Conviction a sorry reminder of the cost of a cup of tea
    John Banks’ conviction for filing a false election return underlines a sorry chapter in our political history, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe."This is a sad but just end to a long career political career....
    Labour | 01-08
  • No asset sales for Christchurch
    Christchurch City Council should not be forced into selling its strategic assets, the Green Party said today.Today's report into Christchurch City Council's finances by Cameron Partners shows that the Council is facing a substantial financial hole, with debt peaking in...
    Greens | 31-07
  • Plenty of options, asset sales not one of them
    Labour will vigorously oppose short term solutions to plug Christchurch City Council’s funding shortfall – including asset sales – which leave the city worse off financially and strategically in the long term, Labour’s Canterbury Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. Responding...
    Labour | 31-07
  • National forcing Auckland into second class rail
    National's lack of commitment on the Auckland City Rail Link (CRL) is forcing Aucklanders to accept second best for their city rail service, the Green Party said today."National has queered the pitch by requiring unrealistic targets be met before it...
    Greens | 31-07
  • Nick Smith hides shameful vacant house numbers
    Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has lodged an official complaint against Housing Minister Nick Smith with Parliament’s Speaker for refusing to release data on the number of vacant state houses around the country. “Nick Smith is clearly embarrassed by the...
    Labour | 31