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“A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”

Written By: - Date published: 4:17 pm, October 28th, 2015 - 36 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Dirty Politics, human rights, journalism, police, Spying - Tags: , , , ,

The reaction to Westpac handing over Nicky Hager’s data to police is still playing out. Dita de Boni writes:

Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’

I don’t know about you, but in my life I seem to recall hearing numerous times that all sorts of information cannot be given to me “for privacy reasons”.

Whether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.

It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.

The exception to this is if the police are asking. It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so. Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions. Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.

It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.

It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.

Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general. But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.

Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.

Rob Hosking (let out from behind the paywall) is similarly forthright:

Hager, toadying and the ‘company policy’ copout

There are many troubling aspects to the revelations activist author Nicky Hager had his personal financial details handed over to the Police, without so much as a by your leave, by Westpac Bank.

This whole business should disturb anyone who believes in governments maintaining a certain restraint. This goes to the core of liberal-conservative political philosophy. Governments have to justify themselves to citizens – not the other way around.

There is, as noted here many times over the past couple of years, a creeping authoritarianism from the current government – and, in fact, across the political culture, with government support partner the Maori Party, as well as Labour and Green parties, moving in more authoritarian directions.

It is about, in the end, free citizens versus over-reaching, arrogant officialdom.

“A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”. Yes, yes there is.


In other Hager related developments “Court decision puts Hager back in frame” – this is loopy, I might try and write on it tomorrow.

36 comments on ““A creeping authoritarianism from the current government””

  1. Tracey 1

    Who else does the SC have implications for?

    Journalists having to be extra careful about verifying where i fo has come from?

  2. Tracey 2

    Summary of SC Decision.

    ” Supreme Court of New Zealand
    Te Kōti Mana Nui
    85 Lambton Quay, Wellington
    P O Box 61 DX SX 11224
    Telephone 64 4 918 8222 Facsimile 64 4 471 6924
    20 October 2015
    MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
    DIXON v R
    (SC 82/2014) [2015] NZSC 147
    PRESS SUMMARY
    This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the
    Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that
    judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative
    document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found
    at Judicial Decisions of Public Interest http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz
    The appellant, Jonathan Dixon, worked for a company which provided
    security services to a bar in Queenstown. During the 2011 Rugby World
    Cup, members of the English rugby squad visited the bar, including the
    vice-captain Mike Tindall. Mr Tindall was seen socialising, then leaving,
    with a female patron. This was recorded on the bar’s closed circuit
    television (CCTV) system. Mr Dixon obtained a compilation of the
    relevant CCTV footage and attempted, unsuccessfully, to sell it to
    overseas media interests. He eventually posted it on a video-sharing
    site, where it was picked up by various media outlets.
    Mr Dixon was charged with accessing a computer system for a dishonest
    purpose under s 249(1)(a) of the Crimes Act 1961. Section 249(1)(a)
    provides that a person commits an offence if he or she “directly or
    indirectly, accesses any computer system and thereby, dishonestly or by
    deception, and without claim of right … obtains any property, privilege,
    service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration.” The
    Crown case was that the digital footage that Mr Dixon had obtained was
    “property”. At trial in the District Court, Judge Phillips accepted that the
    footage was “property” and directed the jury accordingly. Mr Dixon was
    found guilty, and sentenced to four months’ community detention and
    300 hours of community work.

    Mr Dixon appealed to the Court of Appeal against both conviction and
    sentence. The main ground of the conviction appeal was that
    Judge Phillips had erred in finding that the digital files were “property”
    under s 249(1)(a). After the hearing, Mr Dixon also raised complaints
    about his trial counsel and about the Judge’s summing up. The Court of
    Appeal accepted that the files were not property within the meaning in
    the Crimes Act because they were simply “pure information”, the
    orthodox view being that information is not property. However, the Court
    considered that Mr Dixon was guilty of accessing a computer to obtain a
    benefit, which is also an offence under s 249(1)(a). Exercising its power
    to substitute a verdict under s 386(2) of the Crimes Act, the Court of
    Appeal quashed Mr Dixon’s conviction and substituted a conviction for
    obtaining a benefit. The Court was satisfied that none of the other
    matters raised by Mr Dixon justified quashing his conviction. The Court
    also dismissed Mr Dixon’s sentence appeal.
    The Supreme Court granted Mr Dixon leave to appeal on the question
    whether the Court of Appeal erred in dismissing his appeal.
    Prior to the hearing in this Court, Mr Dixon dismissed his counsel and
    presented submissions for himself. Those submissions focussed on
    errors which he argued had been made by the trial Judge, resulting in a
    miscarriage of justice. Written submissions filed on his behalf by counsel
    before they were dismissed supported the Court of Appeal’s finding that
    the digital files were not “property” but argued that the Court of Appeal
    was wrong to exercise its power to substitute a conviction.
    The Crown argued that the digital files were not “pure information” but
    were “property” within the meaning of the legislation as they were things
    which could be owned and dealt with in the same way as other items of
    personal property.
    The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed Mr Dixon’s appeal. The
    Court has held that Judge Phillips was right to find that the digital files
    which Mr Dixon acquired were “property” for the purposes of s 249(1)(a),
    and that the Court of Appeal was wrong to quash Mr Dixon’s conviction
    for obtaining “property” and substitute a conviction on the basis he
    obtained a “benefit”.
    The Court has reached this conclusion taking account of the fact that the
    word “property” does not have a fixed, technical meaning but must be
    interpreted in context. Here, “property” was defined broadly, to include
    both tangible and intangible property. Considering both statutory
    purpose and context, “property” in s 249(1)(a) included the data files at
    issue. Those data files were identifiable, were capable of being owned
    and transferred and had an economic value; they fell within both the
    popular and legal meanings of “property”. The Court was satisfied that it
    is a more natural interpretation of s 249(1)(a) to say Mr Dixon took
    “property” when he acquired the digital files, than it is to say that he
    acquired a “benefit”.

    The Court also considered whether Mr Dixon’s trial miscarried. The
    Court has found that Mr Dixon had the opportunity to put his explanation
    for his conduct before the jury and there is no risk of a miscarriage of
    justice resulting from the way the case was left to the jury by trial counsel
    or the trial Judge.
    Accordingly, the Court has reinstated Mr Dixon’s original conviction for
    obtaining property contrary to s 249(1)(a) and has quashed the Court of
    Appeal’s decision quashing that conviction and substituting a conviction
    for obtaining a benefit contrary to section 249(1)(a).
    Gordon Thatcher, Supreme Court Registrar (04) 471 6921.”

    • McFlock 2.1

      Interesting. Ha, so Dixon represented himself and fluffed it.

      So assuming that the police will try to do Hager for receiving (s240), I suppose it comes down to the value of the “property”. I suspect the value would be less than $500 dollars, but they might try and claim the book sales as benchmark, ignoring the added value of actually writing the book.

  3. veutoviper 3

    Thanks for the post. There is a lot going on in various media on the complex issues which have surfaced as the result of Hager’s court proceedings.

    Rob Hosking’s NBR article appears to now be behind the paywall unfortunately. I presume it was out for a while from comments on Twitter.

    Matt Nippert on Twitter provided a link to this very relevant Herald article by David Fisher in March this year. (Here is the tweet and thread – https://twitter.com/MattNippert/status/659189661915463681

    A taste of the Herald article below – full article at https://t.co/FXz5rgF5Da

    “Broad swathes of people’s personal data are being sought regularly by police from airlines, banks, electricity companies, internet providers and phone companies without search warrants by officers citing clauses in the Privacy Act.

    Senior lawyers and the Privacy Commissioner have told the Herald of concerns over the practice which sees the companies voluntarily give the information to police.

    Instead of seeking a legal order, police have asked companies to hand over the information to assist with the “maintenance of the law”, threatened them with prosecution if they tell the person about whom they are interested and accept data with no record keeping to show how often requests are made.

    The request from police carries no legal force at all yet is regularly complied with.”

    The full article is well worth reading as it gives good background to the Westpac release.

    Katie Bradford TVNZ has been doing follow-up on this release, and earlier today tweeted that Westpac had now “clarified its policy, will confirm a named individual as a customer, any further information requires an appropriate order/warrant”.

  4. Tracey 4

    s249 crimes act

    Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose

    (1)

    Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, directly or indirectly, accesses any computer system and thereby, dishonestly or by deception, and without claim of right,—

    (a)

    obtains any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or

    (b)

    causes loss to any other person.

    (2)

    Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years who, directly or indirectly, accesses any computer system with intent, dishonestly or by deception, and without claim of right,—

    (a)

    to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or

    (b)

    to cause loss to any other person.

    (3)

    In this section, deception has the same meaning as in section 240(2).

    • Tracey 4.1

      hmmmmm Slater might need to take his own advice?

      • Rosie 4.1.1

        It’s hard to think of how Hager has been treated by the Police and not compare it with how Slater has been been treated by Police. One is a friend to Key, one is not. (Although Hager’s only concern with Key is political, not personal) Simplistic thinking but it’s impossible to not to see that connection.

        E.g: ” s249 crimes act

        Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose

        (1)

        Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, directly or indirectly, accesses any computer system and thereby, dishonestly or by deception, and without claim of right,—”

        So, Slater accesses the Labour Party’s membership database complete with credit card details and doesn’t get charged? What ever happened there?

  5. Tracey 5

    ContentsPrevious sectionNext sectionTag sectionRemovePrevious hitNext hit

    Crimes involving deceit

    Heading: replaced, on 1 October 2003, by section 15 of the Crimes Amendment Act 2003(2003 No 39).

    240Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception

    (1)

    Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,—

    (a)

    obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or

    (b)

    in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or

    (c)

    induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or

    (d)

    causes loss to any other person.

    (2)

    In this section, deception means—

    (a)

    a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—

    (i)

    knows that it is false in a material particular; or

    (ii)

    is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or

    (b)

    an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or

    (c)

    a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.

  6. ianmac 6

    As an amateur, the Court seemed to be saying that the context was important. To steal material from a computer for monetary gain is a crime. Hence the barman who tried to make money by selling the tapes was in trouble.
    The context for Nicky was quite different as the Public Interest is a very long way from stealing for profit.
    I therefore reckon that the Court will not sentence Nicky for theft. I hope!

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      No one stole the information. In fact, the people who had it in the first place still have it. This is because the information was copied and not stolen.

      Thing is, Hager didn’t even do that bit – someone else did and then handed it to him which he then used in the Public Interest.

      • Tracey 6.1.1

        well, the deception bit confuses me t be honest, cos I am not sure how Hager was being deceptive?

        “Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,—

        (a)

        obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly”

        and did he access a computer system? I mean Ede did and Slater did with the Blomfeld thing…

        Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose
        (1)
        Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, directly or indirectly, accesses any computer system and thereby, dishonestly or by deception, and without claim of right,—

    • Tracey 6.2

      I’ve been wondering about Jason Ede. Sure the source was Labour Party website was “open” to people looking but none of the property owners gave permission for their data to be “taken” let alone passed on to Slater? Each person whose credit card details were looked at and passé don to Slater would need to have given permission before others taking it or using it would be lawful?

      Then there is the Blomfeld situation. Again involving Slater. Slater had an onus to ensure the data was coming into his hands with permission. Even IF the Director said it was his hard drive, that doesn’t mean the data relating to other people held on that drive were his to give to Slater? I would imagine then publishing said data for personal vendetta, boost ratings (money fro advertisers)?

      I am just surmising, don’t fully understand those situations or the deepest implications of the Dixon ruling.

  7. weka 7

    Don’t know if this has been covered yet, but are we sure this is a Westpac issue, or is it a banking industry issue? Anyone asked their non-Westpac bank what their policy is? Any other bank offered any comment?

  8. Smilin 8

    “You need no experience, credentials, or even common sense to be a financial pundit. Sadly, the louder and more bombastic a pundit is, the more attention he’ll receive, even though it makes him more likely to be wrong.”Cant give the source I didnt ask permission
    Pinched for a good reason to exaggerate and to help explain how corrupt this Key bastard is .

  9. Dave 9

    Radio NZ……put 2 and 2 together…. kind of makes you wonder if they have been patted on the back….

    Updated at 4:23 pm on 5 October 2015

    Westpac has been retained as the government’s main banker.
    The Australian-owned bank will continue to provide transactional banking services for the Crown, after the lucrative contract was put up for tender for the first time in 25 years.

    • ianmac 9.1

      And Simon Power became the CEO when he left Parliament.

      • Tracey 9.1.1

        Not CEO I don’t think. he is now in Australian head office I think

        • Tracey 9.1.1.1

          ” Cabinet minister Simon Power will be taking over as the head of Westpac Private Bank, it was announced today” 2011

          That is the part of a bank where you generally can only get access if you have funds exceeding half a million. That’s where you can access returns which in the public bank get described as “if they are too good to be true…”

          “Simon Power was appointed General Manager, Consumer Banking & Wealth in May 2015. The business unit incorporates Westpac’s retail network, together with small business and the Private Wealth Management division.

          Prior to his current appointment he held the roles of General Manager, Business Bank, Private Bank, Wealth & Insurance; Managing Director, Private, Wealth & Insurance and before that, Head of Private Bank for Westpac New Zealand Limited.

          Simon joined Westpac in 2012 following a 12 year career as a Member of Parliament in New Zealand. Between 2008–2011 he served as Minister of Justice, Minister of Commerce and Minister of State Owned Enterprises, among other portfolios.

          During that period he led significant reform and change in financial market oversight and regulation in NZ.”

      • Smilin 9.1.2

        Yeah he set up the machinery that allows this govt to do what they do when he was Minister of Justice

  10. James 10

    and Green parties, moving in more authoritarian directions

    Come again?

    • Smilin 10.1

      Yes cant see that

    • Lara 10.2

      Yeah… that was the only bit in the article which surprised me.

      As a Green Party member I’m not seeing it. Not at all.

      • arkie 10.2.1

        The misrepresentation of the Greens is a national pass time it seems.

        • Murray Simmonds 10.2.1.1

          This statement struck a discord with me too. Where’s the evidence ??

          Put up or shut up.

          Or even better, (on this blogsite will do) publicly withdraw the statement if you are unable to justify it.

  11. vaughan little 11

    managerialism leads directly to authoritarianism.

    the healthy flow of information through a society is as important as the healthy flow of cash. if people try to build dams everywhere so it backs up into nice little swimming pools, you get a sick, stagnant society.

    resentment, resentment everywhere!

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    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    5 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    7 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    7 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago

  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
    Four stage Alert System for COVID-19 announced New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus Workplaces to implement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
    Kia ora koutou katoa I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders today to give you as much certainty and clarity as we can as we fight Covid-19. Over the past few weeks, the world has changed. And it has changed very quickly. In February it would have seemed unimaginable to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
    New Zealand and Singapore have jointly committed to keep supply chains open and to remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the commitment. “This is an important collective response, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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