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The failures of visual special effects

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, March 20th, 2013 - 45 comments
Categories: film, International, internet, social democracy, twitter, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

life of piI “attended” a fascinating “town hall” meeting last week of artists from around the world in the Visual Special Effects sector. Ignited by the failure of the company Rhythm and Hues (despite recently completing most of the special effects for the film The Life of Pi and winning award recognition for the work), these workers have started to consider how the structure of the industry is leading to their exploitation and vulnerability

Workers attended meeting in LA, San Francisco, Austin, Vancouver, NZ, London, Brazil and many other parts of the world and were hooked up together through the internet. Clear from the twitter feed was that workers were also joining in from India and other countries and that the issues discussed are universal.

The format for the two hour meeting was a series of presentations by a panel with questions and comments from those attending either directly though the link or by social media. The key concerns were well expressed and widely accepted.

Firstly the industry is dominated by a few major studios who effectively broker and fund these films, contracting out all the creative content. When it comes to special effects, the studios are contracting the work to stand-alone companies who are underbidding to win work, making them vulnerable when extra work is demanded or who are simply under pricing their bids under pressure. These companies are in competition with each other and also more and more of the work is being done in low wage countries putting additional pressure on price. Basically the business model is faulty and designed to suit only the studios.

The second issue is the subsidy system being demanded by studios which sees countries and states using tax payer money to subsidise these films and busily out-bidding each other all around the world. It is common practice for the studios to directly bargain with national and state Governments for big subsidies, playing them off against each other and taking money that would otherwise be used for social services to make their films. The artists talked about chasing work around the world as the subsidy benefits shift. They complained of raising their kids by phone, of not being able to get decent health care or security from this ever shifting sand, and of the futility of these subsidies when they are not accompanied by any bottom lines regarding ongoing commitment of the industry to the country or state or to any guarantees around decent work. The workers reported many states now refusing to engage in this game and they called on all Governments to stop the practice. They are considering legal action in regards to WTO and other trade rules.

Finally they talked about the lack of organisation in the industry – both the employers and the artists – neither are well organised and they are being played off against each other to the detriment of both themselves and the industry in which they work. One person talked about being involved in 5 company failures and losing wages in each. One talked of losing his house and being unable to stay in the industry. All talked about the lack of recognition for what they now contribute to these films. They not only do a great deal of work now in films but they are also both creative and innovative. They are at the cutting edge of the challenge a film like the Life of Pi creates and are creating more and more intellectual property and making these films look better and better. As one person put it – they are lucky if the credits mention them after the catering. Personally I couldn’t give you one name of a star in this industry – they are invisible.

These workers are talking together to formulate a plan – the plan includes encouraging employers to work together through a trade association to challenge the business model and work together on what they need to thrive. As was pointed out at the meeting – many industries have trade organisations that work as a lobby, on information sharing and which takes a co-ordinating role. The studios have one! The workers also want representation and voice – there was debate about what this looks like – but the desire is clear – they want some leverage to improve their lot and secure their future in the industry. Thirdly they want the dignity of recognition for their work – for their creative contribution to be acknowledged!

I found two things very challenging about this meeting:

  1. First was the fear – I felt if for them too (Hobbit lesson number one!). Many workers got up and talked about the fear they had of organising. This meeting could be watched by anyone and I believe some will be targeted now for just being there. They expected no mercy from the studios for their issues and clearly repercussions were a real possibility. Interestingly they discussed the need to recognise that the workers in this industry from India and China also had a desire for decent work as well and these workers did not want to be continually in low wage jobs.

    The workers then talked about the appalling conditions they work in all countries – including in the video game industry – very very long hours, many hours not paid and a total expectation that they will work any time, any place. Insecurity and risk was a key feature or these stories.

    When a question was asked about Chinese workers, one participant, without irony talked about the lack of human rights in China and how Freedom of Association in China was a risk! This was in a space where almost every worker that spoke said they felt that exercising these rights was dangerous at least to their job security in their own country. Clearly this fear is real and in my view it is too trusting if all the focus is on the big bad studios. While the employers in the industry may support these workers in the first instance and form a trade association to improve the business model – I bet they won’t then support these workers organising themselves in the same manner. They should – because it is also in their interests that workers raise industry wide issues like this, but in my experience – they shouldn’t be relied on.

  2. The second thing I found interesting and challenging was the lack of flexibility in the Union model being discussed. The model was traditional and did not respond to what these workers were saying was their real needs in the industry nor in my view did it provide an answer to the consensus regarding the challenges in the industry. I use the capital U in the first sentence of this paragraph because it really was a discussion about Unions with a capital U rather than unions – the possibility of organising collectively as workers to meet their needs and give them leverage, in the manner which they can see is powerful and realistic. This is very controversial – especially for me to say, and I do so with a bit of naivety about the situation in some of these countries in regards union potential. The lack of flexibility in my view lead to a discussion about whether or not to join a Union – rather than what would a union look like that would help crack the issues identified and how the work could be done safely. The main Union format on offer was to sign a “check card” and somehow initiate enterprise based collective bargaining within a business model where this may simply reinforce the weaknesses identified in the industry rather than sort them. It was clear to me that while many wanted to join a union, most did not see the enterprise based recognition model as realistic and some saw it as clearly dangerous to them.

The fact is the industry is structured to make Unionisation dangerous unless it is done in a manner that can tackle that danger. So what is the answer? Well it is not really for me to say in the sense that I don’t quite get the local legal arrangements but it seems to me the number one desire of the group was to collectivise to enable strategising together on way forward

Goal one: Collectivise

There are unions in the sector clearly especially in the USA and Canada. These unions could modify their model to allow these workers to join quietly in order to initially facilitate the discussion. If these workers each made a contribution by way of a union fee and were supported to meet, discuss, research, design and strategise in the first instance this would be a start and very reassuring. This model could be made available by union movements in other countries as well.

Goal two: Political issues

These workers want a voice on the political issues – they want lobbying on subsidies and status. This could be a priority action of this union membership – to promote some stars, to explain some techniques and innovations and to point out the downside of subsidies and create the political momentum to get this part of the model changed. The creative skills of these new union members could be used in innovative ways to do this collectively.

Goal three: Leverage

These workers want leverage for both the companies they worked for and themselves. A good project identifying potential for leverage could be developed and implemented. I would think this would include a formal and regular relationship with the new Trade Association if it gets going, or with willing players if not. It would include working with the other national and international unions in the industry (SAG, British Equity etc) to build relationships and win support for the key issues. It would build up the union membership – training recruitment leads, producing material, keeping everyone informed. It should include direct contact with Governments about the industry and should use the training schools for support. It should seek support from employers in the industry to support and promote the union membership so it can truly be a right and not a risk. As I say, this is a creative group – I reckon together they could be very inspiring in the methods they use.

Goal four: Gaining improvements for those that work in the industry

Clearly these workers want improvements – it seems to me that this has to happen at the studio level in the first instance. Supply chain pressure is needed – this is a long term strategy to put pressure on the studios to agree to industry based standards for these workers and implementation of these standards through the supply chain – basically only contracting with Special Effect Companies that sign up to these standards – therefore securing for those employers that want to improve conditions and security for their workers, the level playing field required to do it. This, in relevant countries could also include provision of health care insurance etc. This will come as leverage is built.

So all of these things would be beneficial and in my view fit within the mandate of a social organisation called a union to which these workers should belong. It could provide a safe and progressive programme of resourced activities to achieve the issues identified at the meeting. It should be a union and not a guild – this is what these workers need – and ideally it will be a union already in the industry that is able to link these workers together and support them, with the commitment and confidence of workers in the industry and work towards real change. The US laws allow anyone to join a union without the card check. The card check is only needed to gain formal recognition by the employer for bargaining. I don’t think, at this point at least, the card check and what it delivers is what these workers see as working for them. The real question is are unions up for recognising this?

And why is this relevant to NZ – The issue of unionisation with a big or small U is very much on our agenda. Looking at Forestry for example – telling these workers to join a Union and we will collectively bargain with their employer (all small contractors competing for work) is a nonsense and doesn’t ring true with these workers anyway. The problem here is the shape of the industry – the forest owners encourage and like the model as it exists because it leaves only them with power, and they will have to be pressured to change – forest workers can join a union that can do this. It can lobby on their behalf, raise the key issues in the industry, and allow them to have a voice. We are working on offering this model – easy and safe association meeting their needs and tackling the structure of the industry.

New successful social movements (including unions) are springing up around the world to represent workers that find themselves in non traditional industries or situations – street sellers organisations that want insurance and to live free from police harassment, migrant workers that want protections from unfair deportation and protection from unfair employment practices, youth who want employment and voice across the three or four jobs they may hold. Some of these organisations are huge and growing – they are unions with a small u and in my view hold out hope for workers in the global industry of film special effects.

I greatly admired the artists that turned up and spoke at the meeting. They were passionate about their jobs and each other. They showed great respect for those they work with and for. They simply want a fair go as all workers do, and I think it is in the industries interest and in the interest of all of us who love the movies that they get one!

45 comments on “The failures of visual special effects”

  1. lprent 1

    I really really feel for those workers who have been bitten by failing companies and lost pay in the VFX fields – both movies and also the even more massive and very similar games industry. In the last few decades the only time I haven’t been paid was working for a local games company that lost their financing in the GFC.

    I was left about $10k out of pocket and scrambling to find a new job. The small team of programmers have a lot easier job doing that than the much larger team of graphics artists and animators – most of whom I saw still looking for work quite some later on the net.

    I decided after that, that working for games companies or films was a lousy way to make a living. All of the programmers who’d specialised in games had carried the can during at least one other of these failures. The graphics and animation people even more so.

    • Ben Clark 1.1

      I’ve certainly been involved in my share of company failures / “restructures” in my time in the entertainment industry as a programmer.
      Took a smaller haircut than Lynn in the above mentioned one (got out early), and got my wages in full in previous ones (in UK), but it’s not a stable industry (games / vfx).

      But it is a very exciting industry, so employers feel able to take advantage. If you don’t want to put in the unpaid hours then you’re obviously not “passionate” about it enough and there’s someone behind you who will… (programmers there’s some scarcity at least, but everyone else…)
      But there are good employers too. And those that don’t take advantage and don’t work the long hours actually get better results. You’re not so creative or motivated when you’re knackered…

      Anyway, pleased to be working in the “real world” now – may not be as “sexy”, but the hours and the pay are better… (and there’s still good problems to solve, which is the important part for a programmer).

      • lprent 1.1.1

        As well as the pay; the hours really were excessive (and that is saying something bearing in mind the hours I spend on various forms of work), and it was unproductive and dissatisfying in terms of coding (I’m as immune to glamour of particular jobs as I am to politicians charm).

        I prefer the “real world”.

    • infused 1.2

      Games companies are a dime a dozen now. Never use to be, now it is… what was this game company? Phone/Web, or platforms like PC/XBOX etc…

      Mobile game developers come and go like the wind. If you are a talented programmer, you will have no issue getting a job.

      Like point #1 of this post, a lot of programming work is now outsourced to India.

  2. karol 2

    Thank-you for such a detailed and useful report, Helen.

    I had assumed that VFX workers were the least vulnerable section of film workers in NZ, as indicated by them coming out in support of Jackson over the Hobbit, and the success of Weta.

    Maybe they just give that impression because of fears of opposing the exploitative system?

  3. Rich 3

    I get the impression that (in NZ, but probably the rest of the developed world) people work in big-studio SFX because it’s seen as glamorous (at least compared to doing GST changes for a supermarket). This means the industry can enforce low wages (especially on an hourly basis) and of course excludes those who need to earn a better living (those without rich parents or savings).

    As an industry, it isn’t a particularly valuable or sustainable one and we’d be better off if government funding went to the grassroots end of the film industry (NZ On Air got roughly the same amount of money as the Hobbit to produce over 900 hours of television).

    • erentz 3.1

      we’d be better off if government funding went to the grassroots end of the film industry

      Makes a lot of sense — the idea here shouldn’t be to make Peter Jackson richer, but to make more Peter Jacksons. Fund more small, local productions, this can enable more talent to have their chance of being discovered, and would it also not provide a smoothing effect for employment inbetween the big productions? Maybe it’s not needed…

      Unrelated: Speaking of PJ, I recently watched his West of Memphis documentary — there’s an amazingly ironical part in the film where Peter talks about how he and Fran hate big bullies who pick on the small guy. Who is the bully now.

      • geoff 3.1.1

        the idea here shouldn’t be to make Peter Jackson richer, but to make more Peter Jacksons.

        Eeek! One’s more than enough thanks

        • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 3.1.1.1

          Yeah! Goddamn tall poppies. We should cut them all down.

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1

            Cut down anyone with the potential to compete with today’s well established very wealthy tall poppies you mean.

      • MrV 3.1.2

        And I suppose this extends to the Robyn Malcoms of the world, who now they have established their name in the acting world can cease sucking on the public tit, to allow others to get their chance?

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1

          Only one sucking on the public teat is Peter Jackson who cried poor and wanted millions more in tax breaks, and being a half billionaire you could call him already established.

  4. Saccharomyces 4

    That areticle was a bit TL:DR, did skim it though.

    One thing I will say is the real failure of special effects is the deployment of them (along with the ubiquitous stupid bass drop) by big budget studios to wow the punter without having to worry excessively about good stories or acting.

    • infused 4.1

      Yeah I got to point #1.

      Shorter posts if you want people to read it.

      Weta seem to be doing well. I know quite a few people there.

  5. George D 5

    When Labour is next in power, how do we change the law to allow unionisation to happen?

  6. Scott Squires 6

    Thanks for the article. There’s a bit of confusion in the article regarding unions.

    The entire US film industry is unionized with the exception of visual effects (and composers but that’s a separate issue) Directors, writers, cinematographers, actors, etc are all union.

    “modify their model to allow these workers to join quietly in order to initially facilitate the discussion. ” There is no visual effects union. And by law you can’t simply join a union unless you’re employed at a union shop. To do that you have to submit rep cards (in secret). When enough have submitted for a given company then the US labor laws kick in and an official (secret) vote is held. If majority vote for union, then it’s now a union shop. There are specific laws in the US related to Unions so I’m not sure where the flexibility is supposed to come into play. And legally employers can not fire people for discussing the union or attending an event where the word union is used.

    Unionizing would certain encourage companies to consider a trade association. After the protest that was held a few more large companies have been at least willing to discuss a trade assoc. If that protest had happened this probably wouldn’t be discussed. Without a union the companies may simply slip back to being individual companies without a group.

    “it seems to me that this has to happen at the studio level in the first instance. Supply chain pressure is needed – this is a long term strategy to put pressure on the studios to agree to industry based standards for these workers and implementation of these standards through the supply chain” And exactly who is putting pressure on the studios to achieve this? The big if is will there be a trade association, if so, how long will that take and will their intent be on the workers standards?

    ” to point out the downside of subsidies and create the political momentum to get this part of the model changed. ” Fighting subsidies is a huge , time consuming and costly battle. You have politicians taking money from tax payers and deep pocketed lobbyists pushing. New Zealand should be well aware of it and it’s problems. (And the issues of the film unions in New Zealand)

    “It would include working with the other national and international unions in the industry (SAG, British Equity etc) to build relationships and win support for the key issues”
    Win support from who? Almost everyone else on a film is hired by the studios. The visual effects workers are not. Most are hired by companies.

    • Helen Kelly 6.1

      Hi Scott
      My understanding from the AFLCIO is that workers are free to join unions without the card check as I would expect in terms of freedom of association. The card signing system is for union recognition by the employer but many many workers simply join the union without this and never seek recognition or never reach the threshold needed.

      “And by law you can’t simply join a union unless you’re employed at a union shop.” And legally employers can not fire people for discussing the union or attending an event where the word union is used.

      My understanding from the AFLCIO is that workers are free to join unions without the card signing system as I would expect in terms of freedom of association. The card signing system is for union recognition by the employer but many many workers simply join the union without this and never seek recognition or never reach the threshold needed. Have a look at what the lobstermen are doing to join a union. http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/15/business/growing-number-of-lobstermen-looking-to-unionize-gain-voice-in-augusta/

      Legally you cant sack union members but you need to spend a day in my shoes! But actually in this industry with all the insecurity they simply dont employ people again.

      “And exactly who is putting pressure on the studios to achieve this? [ supply chain pressure] ”

      It cant be just the companies in this sector. Workers are already putting pressure on through the campaign and this can be increased. Other workers in the industry especially those directly employed by the studios and powerful can use this security and power to raise the issues and get support. Other unions in the industry can support this as SAG did here for our performers. Film viewers can be included and so can investors. You will have seen in my post I discussed our forestry sector. Turns out a major investor in one of our forest comapanies is Canadian teacher union pension funds – we will be contacting them about our issues here – it is called leverage and flows from solidarity.

      . ” Fighting subsidies is a huge”

      Yep but politically controverisal enough to get traction (and in a sexy industry)

      Win support from who? Almost everyone else on a film is hired by the studios. The visual effects workers are not. Most are hired by companies.

      Yep this is why they are in a good position to support this work.

      thanks for the feedback

      regards
      Helen Kelly

      • Helen Kelly 6.1.1

        sorry for the double up in this reply – I am overseas and facing technical challenges – not sure how the edit function works! Hope you can work your way through my reply and work out the “he said” “she said” issues!

        • lprent 6.1.1.1

          Hi Helen. There is rather a lot of interest in this post.

          I’ve beefed up the primary server to prevent the time-outs we were getting a few hours ago. We’re getting waves of page views as it gets recommended around face book, and circulates around e-mail groups. Some of the IP’s on the logs are from parts of the net I have never seen before. You did warn me :)

          But the interest looks sustained and the servers are now handling it without major problems….

          BTW: good post

          • Helen Kelly 6.1.1.1.1

            thanks – not sure what that all means but yes my email has gone mad with people asking for more info and maybe having a bit of trouble reading the site? Interesting.

            • lprent 6.1.1.1.1.1

              They probably would have had a problem at about 8pm NZDT and for the next hour – the database server was getting overwhelmed. We got half a days normal load in an hour. I threw more grunt on to it and turned on a cache. That fixed it.

              Should be ok now.

  7. ghostrider888 7

    it was a dense article Helen.

    interesting to see the continued development and refinement of avatars; does not bode well.

    Life Of Pi? one of the best thematic movies ever made imo. :)

  8. illuminatedtiger 8

    Great article Helen – many thanks.

    Where do you think the VES fits into this?

    • Helen Kelly 8.1

      Hi thanks – I am not sure. I thought it was a little unfair that they were criticised given they were simply working in the frame that currently exists and now the sand is moving. That is for the membership to decide and if they are influential (cant tell from here), then people should join and influence its policie etc.

  9. ghostrider888 9

    You are an amazing human being Helen
    Carpe Diem
    http://books.scoop.co.nz/2012/07/17/poem-learning-revolution-by-john-elijah/
    Amor Fati
    Be Well.

  10. JTDesign 10

    There are very similar issues affecting the field of graphic design, and I’m having an increasingly difficult time making a living. I have a lot of friends in the VFX industry, and I hope they are able to successfully organize. Unfortunately, I don’t think my industry will ever be able to do the same. After 20 years in design, I may need to find something else to do to provide for my family.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Hard lessons forgotten.

      In medieval times skilled workers had guilds which transformed over time into various forms of professional associations for the middle class and unions for the trade workers.

      Our mistake is thinking that all our clever technology makes us wiser than our forefathers…

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        In medieval times skilled workers had guilds which transformed over time into various forms of professional associations for the middle class and unions for the trade workers. got banned because the capitalists wanted to pay workers less.

        FIFY

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1

          Only in part; the other part was that you couldn’t keep techniques like rope making and candle making secret in the modern age.

  11. bad12 11

    Not much i can do about a crap New Zealander making crap films except not watch them, which i happily do, even switching off the free to air broadcasting of the barefoot ones little fantasies,

    People must sooner or later wake up to the fact that they as a mass have a vast amount of power in the use of the Boycott of a product as a means of protest,

    The internet the perfect tool of organization through sites like here at the Standard and social media like FaceBook….

    • MrV 11.1

      Yeah, you show them, boycott the big companies by using … wait for it … Facebook.

  12. chris73 12

    Just for some perspective the estimated budget for the lord of the rings trilogy was 281 million and the box office was 2.92 billion

    The estimates for the hobbit trilogy is between 600-900 million and thus far has earned just over 1 billion (with 2 films to go)

    • felixviper 12.1

      What do you mean, Chalupa?

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 12.1.1

        Just thought some figures thrown in might help…or not

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          It already earned just over a billion dollars and Jackson still wanted tax breaks from NZers.

    • bad12 12.2

      Yeah McDonalds make burgers that without the secret sauce taste like warmed up plastic, and in my opinion only moderately less so with the sauce added,

      That’s a billion dollar industry as well which only goes to prove that one hell of a lot of people happily eat s**t and pay for the privilege to do so,

      Now which country did you say that the billion dollars of takings from the latest piece of fluff offering from the bare-foot one will be deposited in…

  13. str0be 13

    I was following along with the townhall meeting very closely, and a couple of things came up in the comments that I thought were potentially very interesting and largely unaddressed.

    First, the tax subsidies (aptly called out as kickbacks) could be addressed through legal action through the WTO, instating Tariffs on international effects work to balance out the unlevel playing field. This wouldn’t fix the inter-state subsidy imbalance, but it would help keep the big US studios from outsourcing.

    Second, royalties/profit sharing/partial-ownership of the property. After a movie has made back it’s initial investment, the creator studios should see a percentage of the profits, and ideally distributed to the artists as well. The partial ownership model could involve establishing stocks or shares in the property, and studio bids would include purchasing these stocks. If the movie makes money, the studios receive a dividend, and if the movie is a profit loss, those losses are distributed among a larger field, and thus don’t bankrupt entire facilities.

    I’m no expert, but I thought these were interesting angles to view the issue from, and potentially start steering this Titanic away from the iceberg.

    • lprent 13.1

      …through legal action through the WTO…

      WTO doesn’t come cheaply and/or quickly. I’m thinking about the very expensive decades that it took the NZ government to get the Aussies to allow our apples into their country because they had a largely cosmetic disease prevention barrier – that wasn’t straight forward. Anything that is problematic is long and expensive. Tax subsidies are one of the more problematic areas for the WTO.

      Similarly tariffs from where to where? Tariffs are something that the WTO was specifically set up to deal with. So putting in a tariff to restrain trade only requires a complaint rather than an expensive argument. It is still slow but with a rather inexorable result.

      The question would be who would take these actions.

      The second ‘angle’ is better idea since all that requires is a change to contracts between companies. The problem is that it requires that the effects companies cooperate across a number of countries so the studios don’t cherry pick suppliers. This is likely to cause legal issues in restraint of trade legislation in various countries as well.

  14. s y d 14

    Oh man…how do you collectivise when every ‘self employed’ geezer thinks they have to to outwit, outsmart and undercut the next dude in a white van/black audi/18 wheeler.
    Our working lives have become a farcical imitation of survivor papatoetoe (or wherever)

    This is the New NZ way…

    The only collectivising I see is in the corporate world, maybe something there but I don’t have an answer. Maybe just being able to ‘talk’ to others could be the catalyst….

    Basically it’s going to take a change in mindset from dog eat dog to share it out and find fun/valuable things to do instead of acting like A holes all the time.

    Too many A holes on the shopfloor

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  • Shell Oil Cowboys Caught Drilling Illegally in New Zealand
    “There be trouble in town sheriff, some cowboys is coming into town”. It could be a line from a grainy old western from our childhood (well, mine anyway) when the good, clean living people of a well to do town...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 23-10
  • Freedom of information: How it works in Norway
    While we're all wailing and gnashing our teeth about the corruption of our Official Information Act, the Open Government Partnership has a great piece on how Norway does it better. Key to their approach is proactive publication of the metadata...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Low inflation – time for meaningful wage increases
    With inflation low, now is a good time for workers to negotiate for pay increases that outstrip price rises and deliver real increases in wages and salaries. “For too many people, real pay increases have been missing for several years...
    CTU | 22-10
  • There appears to be an off button
    John Key’s ability to turn his Prime Ministership on or off as he pleases raises a number of troubling issues for the general public....
    Imperator Fish | 22-10
  • The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins – the John Key edition
    It’s standard practice for Ministers and Prime Ministers to wear different “hats” in the course of their work. Work done as a Minister can obviously be separate and distinct from an MP’s ordinary functions on behalf of the constituents in their electorates....
    Occasionally erudite | 22-10
  • The many hats of John Key
    ...
    On the Left | 22-10
  • Want lower rates? Cut back on urban sprawl
    Suburban sprawl is a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats. Charles Marohn In the recent article The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs Charles Marohn (@StrongTowns) takes on the awkward relationship...
    Transport Blog | 22-10
  • Ebola Fear outstrips risk
    It's not just that Ebola sounds like a modern day black plague and probably originated from blood sucking bats living in dark caves - reason enough for people here in the United States to react like there's a Zombie-Vampire apocalypse...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • National lets Shell drill illegally
    Back in 2012, National passed the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act. At the time, they made a lot of noise about how this was the first legislation to properly protect the EEZ, and that it would...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • The crime is not being rich, the crime is we don’t tax all the income tha...
    In our last blog we looked at whether the claims of ‘rock star’ economist Thomas Piketty held any water or not. Short answer is that some did, some didn’t. In this blog we turn to what we should do about...
    Gareth’s World | 22-10
  • Justice for Nisour Square
    On September 16, 2007, Blackwater mercenaries ran amok in Nisour Square, Baghdad, indiscriminately firing at civilians. 17 people were killed and 20 injured. Today, a US jury has convicted them of that crime:Three security guards working for the private US...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • The gentle art of believing nothing
    I remember, quite a few years ago now, Jenny Shipley addressing a room and asking the question, “What is the purpose of the National Party?” The answer was: To defeat the Labour Party. National was there to be the party...
    Occasionally erudite | 22-10
  • Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 – what really happened?
    Three months after the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine the world is no wiser about what, and who, caused this crash. Well, we have the preliminary report but this only confirmed the bleeding obvious (“the aircraft was penetrated by a...
    Open Parachute | 22-10
  • It’s about history… & votes & elephants
    I think I'll start at the end. Andrew ended his recent post like this:...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • More than 20 jobs saved at Auckland faculty of education
    The union and TEU members at the University of Auckland have managed to reduce proposed compulsory job cuts at the faculty of education from 35 down to just two. Local TEU organiser Enzo Giordani said feisty staff with a staunch...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Gordon Campbell on the tokenism of New Zealand‘s role against Islamic Sta...
    Was John Key born lucky or what? Political performance tends to be judged on three things – the unemployment rate, the petrol price at the pump, and the market value of your house. This year, Key was lucky enough to...
    Gordon Campbell | 22-10
  • MIT chaos following job cut announcement
    Chaos reigns at MIT following last week’s announcement that the polytechnic will cut 68 full time equivalent jobs, according to local TEU organiser Chan Dixon. Over a thousand people have signed a petition opposing job cuts at the polytechnic. Staff are...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Auckland staff call for Living Wage
    The Living Wage Network held a rally and barbecue this week calling on the University of Auckland to become first New Zealand’s Living Wage university, by paying all staff, both directly employed and contracted staff, a living wage of $18.80...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Otago debates one off lump sum
    The University of Otago has not offered its staff a pay rise on their rates at collective agreement negotiations, opting instead to offer a one-off lump sum of $1000, which will not go ‘on the rates’. TEU members at the...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • Speaker: David Fisher: The OIA arms race
    Good afternoon everyone. I am David Fisher, a reporter with the New Zealand Herald. I have worked as a journalist for 25 years, mainly in New Zealand but across a number of other countries.I think there's some value before I...
    Public Address | 22-10
  • Employment law first act of new government
    As the prime minister promised, his government has rushed to push through its Employment Relations Amendment Bill as one of its very first actions this week. The bill, which union members and workers have actively opposed for the last year,...
    Tertiary Education Union | 22-10
  • 7 inspiring stories of communities taking action for climate
    Stories of communities taking action for the climate and refusing to accept the plans of polluting fossil fuel companies are happening more and more. Here are just a few inspiring climate acts of courage taken by doctors, villagers, students, farmers,...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 22-10
  • Blowin’ in the wind
    Wind power has a pivotal role to play in the world's energy supply over the next few years. By providing huge amounts of clean, affordable power, it can buy us time in the fight against global warming while revolutions in...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 22-10
  • Wanted: more fertiliser and horse manure
    Equality enriches the soil, just like manure, but a lot less stinky (For our opening week, we asked all our contributors to think about why they’re On The Left, and what the next three years holds for the left, the...
    On the Left | 22-10
  • PM gets it right about Auckland, mostly
    Prime Minister John Key is dead right when he said: First home buyers in Auckland might have to consider an apartment in order to get onto the property ladder, Prime Minister John Key says. After all, the locational efficiencies of...
    Transport Blog | 22-10
  • Questions and Answers – October 23
    Press Release – Office of the Clerk Economic ProgrammePolicies 1. JAMI-LEE ROSS (NationalBotany) to the Minister of Finance : What measures is the Government taking to help the New Zealand economy become more productive and competitive?QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS Economic Programme—Policies...
    Its our future | 22-10
  • John Key’s Multiple Identities
    Question to the Prime MinisterRussel Norman: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he txted him?Prime Minister: None in my capacity as Prime Minister.John Key...
    Local Bodies | 22-10
  • Where is the Middle?
    When Labour decides who will be the next leader, it is of interest to all of us involved in politics. After all the person chosen could be New Zealand's next Prime Minister. So the debate on the nature of the...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • Labour Needs A Civil Union With The Greens
    Much has been written about where Labour needs to go from here. One issue which doesn’t seem to have generated much interest is what do they do with the Greens?...
    Pundit | 22-10
  • More Latté Than Lager: Reflections on Grant Robertson’s Campaign Lau...
    The People's Flag Is ... Mint Green? Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern (whom Twitter immediately dubbed Gracinda) pose in Mint Green for one of the glossy women's magazines. In a non-revolutionary era, superficial is about as deep as it gets. BIKERS?...
    Bowalley Road | 22-10
  • Auckland’s disturbing panopticon
    Earlier in the month, we learned that Auckland was planning to install a creepy panopticon, complete with ANPR and facial recognition, for vague and undefinied purposes. This produced a flurry of OIA requests via FYI, and one of them (for...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • How to Sell a House: Free Advice from a couple of experts. (Self-Described!...
      In the 32 years that Judy and I have been together we have bought and sold quite a few houses. Six years is the longest we  lived in any one of those houses.  Our friends regard us as gypsies. The...
    Brian Edwards | 22-10
  • Judith Collins’ two-tier OIA service
    Back in August, we learned that sewerblogger Cameron Slater was receiving extraordinary OIA service from then-Minister of Justice Judith Collins, in one case receiving a response to a request within 37 minutes. But it wasn't just extraordinary for its speed;...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Fluoridation – a racist conspiracy?
    Political activists campaigning on health issues often resort to scaremongering. This can be dangerous – especially when their stories have no real basis but rely on selective and distorted information. Paul Connett’s Fluoride Action Network (FAN) often resorts to this sort of scaremongering. Now...
    Open Parachute | 22-10
  • What have people in Africa been doing since the Ebola outbreak started?
    by Andy Warren In a word – dying.  But not from Ebola. According to WHO data it looks like this: However, fear and anxiety are the sexiest ingredients of any story today – rather than boring facts. Ebola fits perfectly...
    Redline | 22-10
  • What have people in Africa been doing since the Ebola outbreak started?
    by Andy Warren In a word – dying.  But not from Ebola. According to WHO data it looks like this: However, fear and anxiety are the sexiest ingredients of any story today – rather than boring facts. Ebola fits perfectly...
    Redline | 22-10
  • Unbelieveable
    This week we've seen the Prime Minister desperately trying to cover up his war plans by pretending that Obama's war-planning meeting was just a "regular" meeting of defence partners which we just happened to be attending. Over on Kiwipolitico Pablo...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • Are the police using ANPR to target the disabled?
    The media this morning is full of stories of the paralysed man caught driving using a walking stick to reach the pedals. Its good that he's off the road, but there's one point in the story which raises questions:The driver...
    No Right Turn | 22-10
  • How low can you go? Mining the depths
    The company says there will be economic benefits, which the EEZ Act says the EPA must consider, but even these benefits are in doubt. The royalties while not set will be tiny, the profits will flow offshore, and whatever phosphate...
    Greens | 23-10
  • Fed Farmers defend GE Agriculture
    Federated Farmers, which represents a minority of farmers, appears to be captured by a pro-GE clique hell bent on increasing unsustainable technologies for the benefit of the herbicide and patent controlling seed companies. That there are better more sustainable farming...
    Greens | 23-10
  • Government loses the affordable housing race
    Nick Smith is dreaming if he thinks he can deliver affordable housing to Cantabrians on his current figures, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “The Minister’s announcement that the Government will build 237 new homes, most of which will...
    Labour | 23-10
  • Labour’s thoughts with Canadians
    Labour has offered its sympathies to the family and friends of the Canadian soldier who died in what appears to be a premeditated and unprovoked attack while standing at guard at the Ottawa National War Memorial. “Our thoughts are also...
    Labour | 23-10
  • What next for TVNZ? Outsourcing the news?
    Television New Zealand’s decision to outsource Māori and Pacific programming is a real blow to the notion that our state broadcaster is a public broadcaster, says Labour. “CEO Kevin Kenrick has said today that TVNZ has ‘a very long and...
    Labour | 22-10
  • Green Party expresses sympathy for Canadian shooting victims
    The Green Party expressed its solidarity with Canadians and the Canadian Parliament today, offering its sympathy for family and friends of the soldier killed in the attack. "Our thoughts are with all those caught up in the shooting in Canada...
    Greens | 22-10
  • Prime Minister must honour his promise
    It’s time for John Key to honour his promise to the Pike River families, says Labour MP Damien O’Connor.  “International mine experts have confirmed the view of WorkSafe New Zealand and many miners on the West Coast that it is...
    Labour | 22-10
  • EPA finds Shell Oil illegally drilled two wells
    The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded that Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) broke the law by drilling two wells without a marine consent off the coast of Taranaki, the Green Party said today. The EPA conducted an inspection of...
    Greens | 22-10
  • Soaring rail use in Auckland shows need for rail link now
    News that Aucklanders overtook Wellingtonians as the biggest train users is further evidence the Government needs to start work on the Auckland City Rail Link now, the Green Party said today.Auckland Transport said today that in the year to September,...
    Greens | 22-10
  • Tea breaks gone by lunch time
    Labour is calling for an eleventh hour reprieve to employment law changes which could see thousands of Kiwi workers not covered by collective agreements lose their smoko breaks, its spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.“How cynical that on the...
    Labour | 21-10
  • Metiria Turei to lead fight on feeding hungry children
    Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira.Mrs Turei, who leads the Green Party's work on child poverty, will pick up Mr...
    Greens | 21-10
  • Otago dairy farms fail basics
    I’m really privileged to take on the responsibility of the water portfolio. Eugenie Sage has done excellent work in this area in the last term of parliament and provided a great platform for further work. Last Parliament my bill to...
    Greens | 21-10
  • A mighty totara has fallen across the Tasman
    The New Zealand Labour Party expresses deep sadness at the death of former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam, aged 98. “Today a great totara has fallen across the Tasman,” Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says....
    Labour | 21-10
  • Note to National: Must deliver on child poverty
    John Key and his Government will be held to its promise to make child poverty a priority, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says. “In its priority-setting speech today the Government stated child poverty would be a major focus for...
    Labour | 21-10
  • New Analysis show Government cut tertiary education funding
    New analysis done by the Green Party today shows the Government has made cuts to funding of tertiary education since 2008.Figures compiled by the Parliamentary Library show that between 2009 and 2015 Government funding to Tertiary Institutions dropped by 4...
    Greens | 21-10
  • Students doing it tough as fees rise again
    The Government is making it increasingly difficult for Kiwis to gain tertiary education as fees continue to rise and access to student support becomes even more restricted, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Steven Joyce is shutting a generation...
    Labour | 20-10
  • Key misled New Zealand on Iraq deployment
      John Key was misleading New Zealanders prior to the election when he ruled out New Zealand special forces being deployed to Iraq, says Labour Defence Spokesperson Phil Goff.  “Post-election he has cynically disregarded that by saying that deployment of...
    Labour | 20-10
  • Swearing about swearing the oath
    Yesterday, I was swearing. Swearing the Parliamentary oath, that is. But, under my breath, I was also quietly swearing about the archaic, colonial form of that oath and its inappropriateness for today’s Aotearoa New Zealand. To be permitted to speak...
    Greens | 20-10
  • Damning report on Ruataniwha dam numbers
    When I presented my submission to the Board of Inquiry on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal I compared the proposed 83 metre high Ruataniwha dam with the Clyde Dam and noted the risk of cost blowouts in the construction process.  The...
    Greens | 20-10
  • Church congratulated on child poverty stand
    The efforts by the bishops of the Anglican Church to ensure that the issue of child poverty is not forgotten is a call to all New Zealanders to take action, says Labour’s Interfaith-Dialogue Spokesperson, Su’a William Sio.   “I think...
    Labour | 19-10
  • Labour names Review Team
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review.  He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban (see further biographical details here). The Review Team...
    Labour | 19-10
  • Labour backs urban development plans
    Auckland Council’s plan to set up an urban development agency is to be applauded and central government should get behind it to make it a success, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Auckland Council CEO Stephen Town has indicated plans...
    Labour | 18-10
  • New Zealand can be rightly proud of seat on Security Council
    Gaining a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council shows the sort of standing that New Zealand has in the world and the quality of the long campaign that we ran over nearly a decade, says Foreign Affairs spokesperson David...
    Labour | 16-10
  • NZ has opportunity on UN Security Council
    New Zealand has an opportunity to make a major contribution to the strengthening of international law and institutional capacity through its upcoming two-year tenure on the United Nations Security Council, Green Party spokesperson on global affairs, Dr Kennedy Graham said...
    Greens | 16-10
  • MPI still dragging the chain over causes of food bug
    The Ministry of Primary Industries’ release of Environmental Science and Research’s initial reports regarding the sources of a nasty stomach bug will be little comfort to the 127 people affected by it, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “This...
    Labour | 16-10
  • Treasury officials should try working without food
    The Green Party is challenging Treasury officials to work for a week without eating properly, in light of their advice to Government that a food in schools programme is not needed."Treasury's advice was that providing food for children in schools...
    Greens | 15-10
  • Councils need to better protect our drinking water
    Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing several variations to its regional land and water plan that will allow for increased nutrient and other pollution from irrigation and intensive agriculture on the Canterbury Plains. Commissioners are hearing submissions on Variation 1 to...
    Greens | 15-10
  • National needs to commit to making NZ workers safe
    The National Government must do more to help make New Zealand workplaces a safer place to work in, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said today.Data released by Statistics New Zealand today showed that workers in the fishing and...
    Greens | 15-10
  • Key commits to deployment before consultation or analysis
    John Key’s offer to consult Opposition parties on whether to deploy New Zealand forces against ISIS looks increasingly like a PR exercise only, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff. “The presence of New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force at a...
    Labour | 15-10
  • National must end ideological opposition to raising income
    If John Key is serious about tackling child poverty he must approach it with an open mind, and overcome his ideological block to raising incomes as a solution, the Green Party said today.Papers released to Radio New Zealand today show...
    Greens | 14-10
  • Pentagon links climate change and terrorism
    Yesterday the Pentagon launched a plan to deal with a threat that “poses immediate risks to national security”; one that “will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation”. It wasn’t referring to Ebola or ISIS. It was...
    Greens | 14-10
  • Four Nominees for Labour’s Leadership
    As at 5pm today four valid nominations had been received for the position of Labour Leader, as follows: Andrew Little(nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway) Nanaia Mahuta(nominated by Louisa Wall and Su’a William Sio) David Parker(nominated by Damien O’Connor...
    Labour | 14-10
  • Green Party calls for consultation over terrorism law changes
    The Green Party has today written to the Prime Minister asking him to engage in wider consultation prior to changing any laws as a result of the recently announced terrorism law reviews, said the Green Party today. In a letter...
    Greens | 14-10
  • MPI must name product and supermarket chain
    The Ministry of Primary Industries must name the product responsible for severe gastroenteritis affecting people around the country, and the supermarket chain distributing it, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The Ministry seems to be more concerned about protecting...
    Labour | 13-10
  • John Key dishonest about reasons for wanting to change terrorism law
    John Key is misleading the public to push through terrorism law changes under urgency, the Green Party said today. On Sunday, John Key stated that it is not illegal for someone to fight overseas for a terrorist group, such as...
    Greens | 12-10
  • Law changes shaping up to be worse than first thought
    The Prime Minister needs to be up front about exactly what changes he is planning to make to the Employment Relations  Amendment Bill, Labour's spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.Interviewed on Q&A yesterday John Key said he did not...
    Labour | 12-10
  • Rapists, not Tinder, the threat to women
    Blame for rape and sexual assault should only ever be laid at the door of the perpetrator, not dating services or the actions of women themselves, Labour’s Associate Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. “Tinder is not the problem and women...
    Labour | 09-10
  • Safer Journeys For People Who Cycle
    You have a rare opportunity to tell the people who are making the decisions on cycling how to make it better. The Cycling Safety Panel is seeking feedback on their draft recommendations for improving the safety of cycling in New...
    Greens | 08-10
  • Subsidising more pollution will undermine water clean-up plan at Te Waihora...
    In 2010, NIWA found Canterbury’s Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere had the worst nutrient status of 140 lakes around New Zealand that it measured. In 2011, the National Government committed to spending $15 million across the country through the Fresh Start for...
    Greens | 08-10
  • Adding value not herbicides
    The HT swedes, and other brassicas, might seem like a good idea to farmers struggling against weeds but like the GE road, is this the path we want our agriculture to be treading? The Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston...
    Greens | 07-10
  • ‘Blame the Planner’ bizarre approach to child poverty
    The National Government is stooping to a bizarre new low in blaming "planning processes" for poverty and inequality, after spending six years doing nothing about either the housing market or child poverty, the Green Party said today. Finance Minister Bill...
    Greens | 07-10
  • Media Advisory
    MANA Leader, Hone Harawira will not be available to speak with media today regarding his release “Recount Just One Step To restoring Credibility”. He is however available for media comment tomorrow, Tuesday the 8th of October, all media arrangements are...
    Mana | 07-10
  • RECOUNT JUST ONE STEP TO RESTORING CREDIBILITY
    “I have applied for a judicial recount of the votes in the Tai Tokerau election because it is one step in trying to restore credibility to the electoral process in the north, and, I suspect, in all other Maori electorates...
    Mana | 07-10
  • MANA SEEKS TAI TOKERAU RECOUNT
    The MANA Movement is supporting Leader Hone Harawira’s application for a judicial re-count in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate for the 2014 general election. President Lisa McNab says there are a number of serious issues of concern regarding the ability...
    Mana | 07-10
  • MANA to fight mass privatisation of state housing
    Announcements over the past 12 hours from the Minister responsible for Housing New Zealand, Bill English, and Minister for Social Housing, Paula Bennett, make clear the government’s intention for the mass privatisation of state housing. This comes during the middle...
    Mana | 07-10
  • Journalists have right to protect sources
    Legal authorities must respect the right of journalist Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material for his Dirty Politics book under Section 68 of the Evidence Act, Acting Labour Leader David Parker says. “It is crucial in an...
    Labour | 06-10
  • It shouldn’t take the Army to house the homeless
    National’s move to speed up its state house sell-off shows it is bankrupt of new ideas, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “National has been in office for six years, yet the housing crisis has got worse every month and...
    Labour | 06-10
  • Government must lift social housing supply, not shuffle the deck chairs
    National's decision to shift the state provision of housing to third parties is a smokescreen for the Government decreasing the provision of affordable housing, the Green Party said today."What National should be doing is increasing the supply of both social...
    Greens | 06-10
  • Election 2014 – the final count
    While we have to wait for the final booth level counts we can now see how well we did in the specials and look at electorate level data. First off special votes (and disallowed/recounted votes etc). There was a change...
    Greens | 06-10
  • We need more houses, not Ministers
    The Government’s decision to have three housing Ministers will create a dog’s breakfast of the portfolio and doesn’t bode well for fixing the country’s housing crisis, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “New Zealanders need more houses, not more Ministers....
    Labour | 05-10
  • Review: Perfect Place
    I went to a Perfect Place on Tuesday night, and what a delight it was. The marshmallows sweetly (and forcefully) handed out pre-show, set the tone for the next hour. Walking up the stairs at The Basement was a complete...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • 5AA Australia – NZ on UN Security Council + Dirty Politics Lingers On
    5AA Australia: Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey deliver their weekly bulletin Across The Ditch. General round up of over night talkback issues: Thongs, Jandals and flip-flops… ISSUE 1: New Zealand has been successful in its campaign to become a non...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • When I mean me, I mean my office & when I call whaleoil I mean not as m...
    This. Is. Ludicrous. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put the first of what are likely to be many questions about Mr Key’s relationship with Slater, asking him how many times he had phoned or texted the blogger since 2008. “None...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • A brief word on describing the Government as ‘boring and bland’
    The narrative being sown is that this Government will be a boring and bland third term. Boring and bland. Since the election, Key has announced he is privatising 30% of state houses without reinvesting any of that money back into housing society’s most...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • More Latté Than Lager: Reflections on Grant Robertson’s Campaign Launch.
    BIKERS? SERIOUSLY! Had Grant Robertson’s campaign launch been organised by Phil Goff? Was this a pitch for the votes of what few Waitakere Men remain in the Labour Party? Was I even at the right place? Well, yes, I was....
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • About Curwen Ares Rolinson
    Curwen Ares Rolinson – Curwen Ares Rolinson is a firebrand young nationalist presently engaged in acts of political resistance deep behind enemy lines amidst the leafy boughs of Epsom. He is affiliated with the New Zealand First Party; although his...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • About Kelly Ellis
    Kelly Ellis.Kelly Ellis – As a child, Kelly Ellis didn’t so much fall into the cracks, but willfully wriggled her way into them. Ejected from Onslow College – a big job in the 70s – Kelly worked in car factories,...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • About Kate Davis
    Kate Davis.Kate Davis – Having completed her BA in English and Politics, Kate is now starting her MA. Kate works as a volunteer advocate at Auckland Action Against Poverty and previously worked for the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Kate writes...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Parker does a Shearer – oh for a Labour Leader who can challenge msm fals...
    Sigh. It seems David Parker has done a Shearer… Like a cult and too red – Parker on LabourLabour leadership contender David Parker says Labour borders on feeling like “a cult” and must look at its branding – including its...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • A brief word on the hundreds of millions NZ is spending on the secret intel...
    The enormity of the mass surveillance state NZ Government’s have built carries a huge price tag… Kiwis pay $103m ‘membership fee’ for spyingThe $103 million taxpayer funding of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies is effectively a membership fee for joining the...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Where. Is. Jason. Ede?
    Where. Is. Jason. Ede?...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Labour’s Din of Inequity
    Watching Labour’s leadership candidates on Q+A on Sunday, I noticed the ongoing use of terms like “opportunity” and “aspiration”, and “party of the workers”. What do these mean? We glean much from Labour, and from the media about Labour, but not...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • “Blue-Greenwash” fails the test when it comes to endangered dolphins
    National’s pre-election promises saw some wins for the environment – perhaps as the party sought to appease its “Blue-Green” voters and broaden its popular appeal. Some of the ecological gains were a long time in the making, overdue even– such...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Reasons not to be cheerful, Part #272b
    Why don’t you get back into bed? The next few years — the rest of this century — are not going to be pretty. There is an obvious disconnect between any remaining political ambition to fix climate change and the...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • OIA protocols and official advice ignored to hide Child Poverty
    It might not seem so now, but child poverty was a major election issue. What a pity we did not have the full debate. In that debate it would have been very helpful to have seen the Ministry of Social...
    The Daily Blog | 20-10
  • Previewing the 4 candidates for Leader of the Labour Party
    The extraordinary outbursts by Shearer last week highlights just how toxic that Caucus is. Shearer was on every major media platform as the ABC attack dog tearing into Cunliffe in the hope of diminishing Cunliffe’s support of Little by tearing...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – the sudden explosion of ‘left’ blogs
    Time to Teach or more people will suffer from P.A.I.D. Political And Intellectual Dysmorphia.I was on the Twitter and a guy followed me so of course I did the polite thing and followed him back. He wrote a blog so...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Ego vs Eco
    Ego vs Eco...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • We can’t let the Roastbuster case slip away
    Those of us (like me) left with hope that the police would aggressively follow through on the large amount of evidence on offer to them (let’s not forget they forgot they even had some at one point) in the Roastbusters...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Food, shelter and medicine instead of bombs and bullets
    The on-going conflict across the Middle East – due in large part to the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – has created another humanitarian crisis of biblical proportion. The essentials of life are desperately needed in Iraq and Syria...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • The politics of electorate accommodations
    National’s electorate accommodations with ACT and United Future were a big factor in it winning re-election. Interestingly, there is another electorate accommodation scenario whereby the centre-left could have come out on top, even with the same distribution of party votes....
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Why you should join the TPPA Action on 8 November
    On 8 November 2014, thousands of Kiwis will take part in the International Day of Action to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The rally cry for us is TPPA – Corporate Trap, Kiwis Fight Back. Why should you join...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • GUEST BLOG – Patrick O’Dea: no new coal mines
    Green Party and Mana Party policy is “NO NEW COAL MINES!” Auckland Coal Action is trying to put this policy into action on the ground. ACA after a hard fought two year campaign waged alongside local residents and Iwi, in...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Comparing Police action – Hager raid vs Roast Buster case
    This satire had the NZ Police contact TDB and threaten us with 6months in prison for using their logo.   The plight of Nicky Hager and the draconian Police actions against him has generated over  $53 000 in donations so...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • Malala Yousafzai, White Saviour Complexes and Local Resistance
    Last week, Malala Yousafzai was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Since her exposure to the worldwide spotlight, her spirit, wisdom and strength have touched the hearts of people everywhere. However, there have been cynics who have argued that...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • Jason Ede is back – but no media can interview him?
    Well, well, well. Jason Ede, the main figure connected to John Key’s office and the Dirty Politics black ops is back with a company with deep ties to the National Party. One thing you can say about the right –...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Leadership Transitions In Other Parties: A ...
    As cannot have escaped anyone’s attention by now, the country is presently in the grips of an election and campaign that will help determine the fate of the nation for years to come. It’s gripping stuff – with clear divides...
    The Daily Blog | 17-10
  • SkyCity worker says she faces losing her house
    SkyCity worker Carolyn Alpine told the company annual shareholder’s meeting today that she faced the prospect of losing her house because the company had cut her shifts from two a week to one without consultation. The solo mother, has worked...
    The Daily Blog | 17-10
  • Greg O’Connor’s latest push to arm cops & 5 reasons not to
    I was wondering at what point within a 3rd term of National that Police Cheerleader Greg O’Connor would start trying to demand cops be armed. O’Connor must have thought to himself, ‘if bloody Key can get us and the GCSB vast new...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • You can’t have crisis without ISIS
    So the new scary bogeyman ISIS might have chemical weapons that the US secretly found in Iraq, but America didn’t want to expose this find because the WMDs were actually built and made by the US and Europe, the two powers...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • NZ WINS UN SPIN THE BOTTLE! Privately sucking up to America for a decade me...
    Oh, we are loved! Little old NZ, the 53rd state of America after Israel and Australia, gets to sit at the adults table for the special dinner party that is the UN Security Council. How delightful, a decade of privately...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • MEDIA BLOG – Myles Thomas – A World Without Advertising
    Non-commercial broadcasting and media. It’s a solution for all manner of problems ailing our tender nation… voter engagement, unaccountable governance, apathy, stupefaction, public education, science in schools, arts appreciation, cultural cringe… But no-one could’ve guessed that non-commercial media might solve...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • March against war – 2pm Saturday 25th October
    March against war – 2pm Saturday 25th October...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • Whack a mole as US govt foreign policy
    Whack-A-Mole was a popular arcade game from my youth.  It consisted of a waist high cabinet with holes in the top. Plastic moles seemingly randomly pop out of these holes. The purpose of the game was to hit as many...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • In Paean of Debt
    This week is ‘Money Week’. It’s an opportunity to promote to the middle classes, and anyone else who will listen, the virtues of wise ‘investment’. The aims are to promote the mystical (and indeed mythical) virtues of saving for the...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • The last 48 hours – Poverty denial, war denial and unapologetic abuse of ...
    The bewildering speed of events that simply end in Key shrugging and proclaiming he doesn’t really give a shit is coming think and fast as the Government suddenly appreciate the full spectrum dominance they now enjoy. Here is Radio NZ...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Mana 2.0 Rebooted
    Internationally the news is that Evo Morales of Bolivia won big with Left Wing policies But what are the chances that the Left will make a resurgence in this country? As the internecine struggles between the Left and the Right...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • The Blomfield IPCA letter – Has Dirty Politics leaked into the NZ Police ...
    It’s difficult to know what to make of the IPCA letter to Matthew Blomfield over Slater’s continued insistence that the hard drive taken from Matthew wasn’t stolen.  Slater has selectively cherry picked the Police referring back to his claim that Blomfeild perjured...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • ​Media release: Rail and Maritime Transport Union – Auckland move for K...
    The Rail and Maritime Transport Union is questioning a KiwiRail proposal to progressively relocate its Zero Harm personnel from Wellington to Auckland. “The purpose of the Zero Harm team is to drive KiwiRail’s performance in health and safety.  Rail is a...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • Amnesty International – Friend request from an IS militant
    There’s always that one person, that one Facebook friend, usually a musician or event promoter, who, when you so foolishly accept their friend request, will completely inundate your news feed with copious event invitations and promotions. The person who, despite...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • NZ should follow the UK and recognize the Palestinian state
    Over the past two weeks, the United Kingdom and Sweden have made headlines through their decisions to recognize the state of Palestine. They are hardly the first nations to do so. Indeed, 134 countries have, in various ways, given formal...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • The Discordant Chimes of Freedom: Why Labour has yet to be forgiven.
    WHY DOES THE ELECTORATE routinely punish Labour and the Greens for their alleged “political correctness” but not National? It just doesn’t seem fair. Consider, for example, the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 – the so-called “anti-smacking legislation” –...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • Hosking or Henry – Which right wing crypto fascist clown do you want to w...
    So Mediaworks are finally going to make some actual money from their eye watering contract with Paul Henry by launching a new multi-platform Breakfast show over TV, Radio and internet. This is great news for Campbell Live who have dodged...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Families need more money to reduce child poverty
    Prime Minister John Key is mistaken to rule out extending the In Work Tax Credit to all poor children (The Nation 11th Oct) and Child Poverty Action Group challenges government advisors to come up with a more cost effective way...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – Don’t shit on my dream
    Once were dreamers. A large man, walks down the road and, even from 200 yards there’s light showing between his big arms and bigger body. It’s as if he’s put tennis balls under his arms. Two parking wardens walk out...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Labour and ‘special interests’
    The media narrative of Labour is that it is unpopular because it’s controlled by ‘special interests’. This ‘special interests’ garbage is code for gays, Maoris, wimin and unionists. We should show that argument the contempt it deserves. The next Labour...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Ru...
    . . Continued from: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi) . National’s housing development project: ‘Gateway’ to confusion . Perhaps nothing better illustrates National’s lack of a coherent housing programme than the ‘circus’ that is...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Here’s what WINZ are patronisingly saying to people on welfare when they ...
    Yesterday, a case manager from WINZ called to tell me that I needed to “imagine what I would do if I did not have welfare”. I replied “Well, I guess if I couldn’t live at home, I would be homeless.”...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • David Shearer’s ‘no feminist chicks’ mentality highlights all that is...
    Mr Nasty pays a visit Shearer’s extraordinary outburst last night on NZs favourite redneck TV, The Paul Henry Show, is a reminder of all that is wrong within the Labour Caucus right now… He said the current calls for a female or...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • Greenpeace 1 – Shell 0
    Greenpeace 1 – Shell 0...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • Unanimously Call for Commissioner to Arm Police Full Time
    In the wake of a series of recent armed offender incidents, delegates to the Police Association Annual Conference today called unanimously on the Commissioner to arm Police full time....
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Bank gets behind NZ wildlife icon with sizable donation
    It will be easier than ever this summer for holiday-markers to dip into their pockets to support the yellow-eyed penguin....
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • WorkSafe report raises concerns about asbestos
    The union representing construction workers in the Canterbury rebuild is surprised at WorkSafe’s conclusion that no action needs to be taken against EQC and Fletcher EQR over asbestos exposure in Canterbury homes. “This report was an opportunity...
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Union accuses SkyCity CEO of misleading public
    Unite Union has accused SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison of misleading the public over the cut in hours for a staff member who raised the issue at the company's AGM....
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Last Hurrah on the Taxpayer
    Responding to the NZ Herald report that Hone Harawira spent up $54,000 on the taxpayer in his last three months as an MP, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “It is absolutely disgraceful that an MP managed to rack...
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Press statement in relation to search of Nicky Hager’s home
    On 2 October 2014, Nicky Hager's home in Wellington was searched by police. Mr Hager asserted that documents kept at his house were protected by privilege, including because they contained information that might identify confidential sources....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • The Sam Simon arrives into Auckland for new campaign
    This morning Sea Shepherd ship, the Sam Simon, arrived into Auckland harbour after its journey from Melbourne. The ship and its 25 crew from around the globe have come to New Zealand to source supplies and prepare for the upcoming...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Low inflation – time for meaningful wage increases
    With inflation low, now is a good time for workers to negotiate for pay increases that outstrip price rises and deliver real increases in wages and salaries. “For too many people, real pay increases have been missing for several years...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Auckland Rates Rises Out of Control
    Responding to the NZ Herald report that Auckland ratepayers will face an average of a 29 percent rates increase, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “These rate rises show that Len Brown's spending is out of control.”...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Protest at New Plymouth Oil and Gas Expo
    About 30 protesters from Climate Justice Taranaki, Frack-free Kapiti, Te Uru Pounamu Action Group, Oil Free Wellington, Frack-free Manawatu and the east coast protested yesterday outside New Plymouth's biennial Oil and Gas Expo at the TSB Stadium....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • FMA warns consumers about cold-calling investment offers
    The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is warning New Zealand consumers and investors to be wary of cold-calls asking them to buy shares or put their money into offshore firms....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Comprehensive plan needed to end child poverty
    Child Poverty Action Group says it is vital the newly re-elected National government takes a planned and comprehensive approach to reducing child poverty in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Metiria Gets Feed the Kids
    Yesterday the Speaker of the House advised that he had accepted my request to transfer my Feed the Kids (Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment) Bill to Metiria Turei of the Green Party....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • DIA undercover investigation leads to jailing
    An undercover Internal Affairs investigation has led to a Hastings man being jailed for three and half years....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Call on Minister McCully to pursue the case of Balibo Five
    Media Information: Call on Minister McCully to pursue the case of journalist Gary Cunningham and the Balibo Five...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Australia and NZ actions on press freedoms alarming
    Global support for investigative journalism in Australia and New Zealand is a welcome response to law changes and a police raid, says the Pacific Freedom Forum...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Call for release of French journalists in West Papua
    West Papua Action Auckland, the EPMU Print and Media Council and the NZ Media Freedom Network call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to speak out in support of the two French TV journalists whose trial has just begun in...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Court of Appeal: Dotcom v 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
    A The appeal is dismissed. B The 20 August 2014 order of the High Court dealing with confidentiality and the 29 August 2014 order of this Court dealing with confidentiality are set aside. C The confidentiality orders set out in...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Glassons Blasted For Glamourising Animal Cruelty
    Clothing brand Glassons have found themselves embroiled in another controversy after launching a new advert featuring a girl riding a bull. Animal advocacy organisation SAFE have asked them to remove the ad immediately as it glamourises animal cruelty....
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Smuggling honey into New Zealand isn’t sweet
    Smuggling honey into New Zealand isn’t sweet Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group applauds the tough line taken by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Border Staff at Auckland Airport. In deporting the couple found trying to smuggle bee products...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Taxpayers’ Union Responds to Joyce on Corporate Welfare
    Responding to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce’s defence of corporate welfare , Jim Rose, the author of Monopoly Money , a Taxpayers Union report on corporate welfare since 2008, says:...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Speech from the Throne brings welcome focus on children
    Today’s speech from the Throne confirms the Government’s focus on children, youth and their families in the areas of health, education, youth employment, poverty alleviation and Whānau Ora; now the challenge is to ensure every child in New Zealand...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • John’s Job Fairs no fix for unemployment and poverty
    “John Key has clearly been looking to the US for his latest bright idea on dealing with employment issues,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford. “Job fairs where the desperately unemployed queue in their corporate best to compete...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Speech From the Throne Foreshadows More Corporate Welfare
    Responding to the Governor General’s Speech from the Throne, which outlined that the Government’s intentions for the next Parliamentary term would include further Business Growth Agenda initiatives, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Green MP to speak at panel on Rainbow Mental Health
    Hamilton, New Zealand: Recently re-elected Green Party MP Jan Logie will be a guest speaker at a panel on the mental health of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender, Takataapui and Intersex people taking place on November 1st as part of the...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Evidence Supports GE Moratorium
    Federated Farmers spokesman Graham Smith's call for a 'rethink' on release of GeneticallyEngineered organisms is misguided, and instead it is time for a formal moratorium on GMOs in the environment.(1)...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Chatham Rise mining could have impact on whales and dolphins
    Wellington, 21 October 2014--Mining phosphate on the Chatham Rise, off the east coast of New Zealand’s south island, could potentially have many impacts on marine mammals like whales and dolphins, the Environmental Protection Agency was told today....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Council endorses Nanaia Mahuta as the next Labour leader
    Te Kaunihera Māori, the Māori Council of the New Zealand Labour Party, have passed a resolution to endorse the Hon Nanaia Mahuta as the next leader of the Labour Party...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Kaumatua to organise petition to end Maori seats
    Ngapuhi kaumatua David Rankin has announced that he will be organising a nationwide petition to seek support from Maori voters to end the Maori seats. “These seats are patronising”, he says. “They imply we need a special status, and that...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Announcing a New Voice for The Left
    Josh Forman is pleased to announce the creation of a new force on the Left of politics in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Public services held back by poor workplace culture
    A new report by Victoria University’s Centre for Labour, Employment and Work shows that public servants are working significant unpaid overtime to ensure the public services New Zealanders value are able to continue....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • iPredict New Zealand Weekly Economic & Political Update
    Andrew Little’s probability of being the next leader of the Labour Party has reached 70% and Jacinda Ardern is favourite to become his deputy, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Prison Drug Treatment Unit marks a milestone
    Christchurch Men’s Prison’s Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) celebrated the completion of its 50th six month Drug and Alcohol Programme today, with the graduation of a further twelve offenders....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Security Council seat a chance for NZ to empower women
    The UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand (UN Women NCANZ) welcomes New Zealand winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council and is calling on New Zealand to use its position to proactively promote effective implementation of the...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Waipareira and ACC sign Partnership
    Waipareira and The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Whanau Centre, Henderson – marking a special day for the West Auckland Urban Maori organisation....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Humanitarian aid desperately needed in Iraq and Syria
    Global Peace and Justice Auckland is calling on the government to provide humanitarian funding for non-aligned NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the Middle East rather than give any support whatever for the US-led military campaign in the area....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Court Judicial Decision: Dotcom v The USA: 17 October 2014
    The United States of America is seeking the extradition of Messrs Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and Van Der Kolk. The matter has been before the Courts on numerous occasions, and no further recitation of the facts is needed....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Marshall Island poet speaks at UN climate summit
    “The fossil fuel industry is the biggest threat to our very existence as Pacific Islanders. We stand to lose our homes, our communities and our culture. But we are fighting back. This coming Friday thirty Pacific Climate Warriors, joined by...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Many tourist car accidents preventable
    Simple steps could dramatically reduce the number of accidents involving tourists, says the car review website dogandlemon.com ....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • RainbowYOUTH: 25 Years, 25 More
    In 1989, a group of young people in Auckland got together to form a support group for LGBTIQ youth. They called it Auckland Lesbian And Gay Youth (ALGY). After 25 years, several location changes, a name change, a brand reboot...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Outdated Oath shows need for Kiwi Head of State
    MPs are sworn in today and New Zealand Republic has written to MPs asking them to talk about why 121 New Zealanders elected by the people of New Zealand and standing in the New Zealand Parliament swear allegiance to another...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Council shouldn’t revenue grab from windfall valuations
    Auckland Council should state clearly they will not try and capture revenue as a result of the latest valuations and needs reminding that the City’s skyrocketing property values doesn’t change the level or cost of Council’s services, says...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • EPMU endorses Andrew Little for Labour leadership
    The National Executive of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union unanimously endorsed Andrew Little for the role of Labour leader, at a meeting held yesterday. “I have been speaking to our workplace delegates at forums across the country over...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • World Food Day promotes Agroecology not GE technology
    The UN has stated that agroecology is a major solution to feeding the world and caring for the earth....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Labour Names Review Team
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Contenders for Labour leadership debate for first time
    The contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party debated for the first time on TV One’s Q+A programme today....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • UN Ambassador Jim McLay on TV One’s Q+A programme
    New Zealand's United Nations Ambassador Jim McLay on TV One’s Q+A programme....
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • The Nation: RSA President BJ Clark & Ian Taylor, New NZ Flag
    Lisa Owen interviews RSA President BJ Clark and tech innovator Ian Taylor about changing the NZ flag...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • The Nation: RSA President BJ Clark & Ian Taylor, New NZ Flag
    Lisa Owen interviews RSA President BJ Clark and tech innovator Ian Taylor about changing the NZ flag...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • Lisa Owen interviews Foreign Minister Murray McCully
    Murray McCully says New Zealanders can expect a 5-10 year engagement against Islamic State if we join military action in Iraq and the government will take that “very carefully into account”...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
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