A culture of intimidation

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, April 16th, 2015 - 61 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Dirty Politics, national, uncategorized - Tags: , ,

National has a long history of attacking and intimidating people who are expressing inconvenient opinions. It’s a culture that brought us dirty politics, and one of its recent manifestations was the attempt to silence a roading advocacy group during the Northland by-election.

Back in January, New Zealander of The Year Dame Anne Salmond wrote:

Over the past decade or so, politicians seeking to uphold their own power have abused democratic freedoms in New Zealand. Journalists including Jon Stephenson (for reporting on New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan), Andrea Vance (over a suspected leak of a report about the GCSB spy agency), and Nicky Hager (for exposing scurrilous relationships between senior politicians and muck-raking bloggers) have been intimidated and attacked.

While our leaders do not shoot people, they work with others to try to ruin the lives and careers of those who disagree with them. The means may be different, but the intent is the same. One way or another, their critics (however valid their points of view might be) must be silenced.

It is not just outspoken individuals who are at risk. Institutions that are the bulwarks of our democracy have been undermined. Since the 1980s, the civil service, which is supposed to offer informed, impartial advice to politicians, has been brought under ministerial control, and instead of serving civil society now largely serves its political masters. …

And so to the most recent case in point:

Rape prevention group ‘told not to speak out’

The departing head of a rape prevention group says she was told its funding was at risk if she continued to speak out against Government policy.

Rape Prevention Education executive director Dr Kim McGregor said the comment came in a phone call from a public servant and she was shocked by it.

“I had a phonecall when I was at RPE and our funding was threatened because we were being advocates, we were speaking out against Government and that was quite shocking to me at the time.”

This is disgusting. National is leading by example in creating a culture of intimidation and fear. Is this really New Zealand?

61 comments on “A culture of intimidation”

  1. CnrJoe 1

    Planet Key.
    no toilets so no shit to see here.
    Flags! Prince Harry!

  2. SMILIN 2

    Fascism ring a bell anywhere you bet or any other form of totalitarianism
    There is plenty of examples in this govt, Vote Labour for a fairer govt

  3. Chooky 3

    +100 great Post…says it all….commitment to New Zealand women and girls and children and male victims and human rights is a very low priority of this John Key Nact government

    ….and ponder this Rape is a weapon of war and used in war to suppress and torture and humiliate opposition

    RAPE IS A WAR CRIME

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wartime_sexual_violence#Crimes_against_humanity_and_war_crimes

    http://www.rescue.org/blog/confronting-rape-a-weapon-war

    • Murray Rawshark 3.1

      They’ve even changed things so that being sexually attacked is a war crime. Think of how FJK, through his proxy Whalespew, used Tania Billingsley to attack the Greens. She was attacked and it was used to fuel a war on her and the Green Party. Somehow it doesn’t at all surprise me that a rape prevention group would also be attacked. We have a sick, sick regime.

      • Chooky 3.1.1

        yes that attack on young Tania Billingsley, who had the courage to come forward, was an absolute disgrace !

        …I would think that a number of aware , intelligent Nactional Party people must be getting quite uncomfortable by now

        ….no wonder Winston hit the big time in Northland….shades of things to come

  4. saveNZ 4

    Disgusting.

    I’m surprised the tax payers union aka right wing dirty politics action group haven’t already stolen the rape funding for the oppressed Mens group or men sexually violated or the like.

    That’s how they transfer the funding.

    Speak out, no more funding, instead a new ‘right wing’ funding body taking the tax payers dollars run by National cronies.

    All seeking to destroy the fabric of our society in NZ, wipe out the vulnerable and destroy empathy by flooding conflicting messages via MSM on the populous.

  5. The Murphey 5

    The NACT government enjoy defunding and threatening to defund victim support groups

    It has been a regular occurrence of the past 7 years and while not a new scenario to this government it certainly has a sense of being ramped up in recent times

  6. Sanctuary 6

    The problem is the blurring of the lines between the “National party” and “The Government”. It is born from Key’s corporate authoritarianism and his contempt for democracy and the Westminster system, and it has has always been there.

  7. One Anonymous Bloke 7

    a phone call from a public servant

    The National Party’s enablers, these unelected thugs. Until their crimes attract serious consequences nothing will change. Dr. McGregor must be supported if she chooses to name her assailant.

    • tracey 7.1

      and if we do not, we need to instal a mechanism to ensure that EVERY call made in and out of Parliament is recorded. So it can be retrieved in case of an investigation. The initial investigation can preserve confidentiality until such time as some wrong doing is established. Include cell phones. Anyone receiving or making a call on a device NOT programmed to record, and in the absence of a genuine technical failure, is instantly dismissed (including MPs). NOT OIA-able but able to be privately investigated by a person/body so appointed?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1

        Intimidating someone into silence – or the attempt to do so – is already a crime, ie: a police matter. I don’t believe that treating civil servants as though they are all National Party criminal scum is the best course of action.

        • tracey 7.1.1.1

          It is about protecting people. If everything is recorded then it protects people as much as it assuming they are “scum”. Funny thing is that whenever I rtalk ethics in this forum about out MPs I get instant criticism from some quarters.. I assume those people would be fine with a system like I am suggesting?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1.1

            Mass surveillance has a chilling effect on free speech. There are better ways to deal to National Party gang members.

            • tracey 7.1.1.1.1.1

              The thing is everything they write down has to be kept for Public record purposes. Now phone calls are made to avoid (in some cases) the kind of accountability required of those working at the behest of the people. The “surveillance” is of professional not personal issues. Is it unreasonable surveillance to make people keep every document they create in the public service?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Not to mention surveillance is illegal without a warrant. Good luck getting a warrant that covers the Beehive.

                It’s a terrible idea, which would be used by the National Party to further extend its intimidation of public servants.

                • tracey

                  Did you deliberately choose to not answer why you think it is not “surveillance” to keep every piece of written information created by public servants but it is if their work calls of the transfer of the same and similar information is recorded?

                  I have worked in organisations which do record all incoming and outgoing calls, especially if their phone is routed through the internet. Without agreement it is not able to be used against someone in a legal case etc. Many organisations record the calls coming in for “quality” assurance purposes.

                  I seem to recall our PM deleted stuff off his phone and breached the Public Records Act…

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Welcome to the New Zealand government. If you know the extension number of the person you wish to speak to, please enter it now followed by the hash key. Otherwise please hold the line to speak to the operator. Just so you’re aware, we monitor all your calls.

                    Seriously? You want to lobby a Green MP about say, the Oravida pollution that’s killing the local wildlife, and they’re recording everything you say.

                    Whatever the merits, the fishhooks are outrageous.

                  • weka

                    “Many organisations record the calls coming in for “quality” assurance purposes.”

                    Can you give some examples where it’s not call centres for the organisation?

                    eg I think the WINZ call centre records calls, but I don’t think the case managers or managers have their calls recorded.

                    Did you deliberately choose to not answer why you think it is not “surveillance” to keep every piece of written information created by public servants but it is if their work calls of the transfer of the same and similar information is recorded?

                    People treat voice and written text differently. We need written records because written communication is usually more formal, and it’s the way that we have a shared understanding and evidence of what has been said.

                    We also have histories of people in positions of authority who abuse their power by writing things in files that negatively affect clients/patients etc. In the days before people had easy access to written information about themselves a lot of damage was done.

                    On the other side of that is what OAB is talking about. When you record everything someone says it creates a climate of fear/anxiety/hypervigilance and then cognitive dissonance, and suppresses not just free speech but creativity and healthy psychological functioning. I can imagine some situations where recording everything is useful, but doing it across the board is harmful IMO.

                    There are other ways to address the problems with the govt threatening social agencies. I don’t think hyper surveillance is the way to do it because it is part of their kaupapa of fear and control.

                    • weka

                      Having said that, I have no problem at all in that situation if the social agency records the call 😈

                      What I do when people in power abuse their power is ask for their name and position, and then ask them to repeat what they’ve just said in writing or in the presence of someone else. I also usually ask for the name of their boss. And make a note of the time and date of the call/conversation. Amazing how that changes people’s behaviours.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Thanks Weka, you put it all so well.

                      And yes, as a wise man once said, when a bully steps forward, step forward first.

                      As for changed behaviour, sometimes: bullies still find targets, and will have come up against people they can’t bully before. It’s a good idea to go one step further than recording their behaviour and share your concerns.

      • Murray Rawshark 7.1.2

        The calls will already be recorded. No doubt we could ask the NSA if we could have the transcripts back.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2.1

          Not without a warrant.

          I suppose getting a warrant would be up to the police, investigating allegations of issuing threats (section 307A of the Crimes Act?).

          • Murray Rawshark 7.1.2.1.1

            Your faith in authority is touching.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2.1.1.1

              😆

              Who said anything about faith. The law is the law. You think they’ll apply it selectively? So do I. Shine a strong light on them as they do so and hold them to account.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                Hold whom to account? How? And if they fail to act, which journalist or newspaper are you going to go to in order to “shine a strong light” on them?

                In NZ we still have some partially working levers of democracy. But not for long though, by the looks of it.

                • cogito

                  Well said. NZ is descending into totalitarian fascism, led by a bunch of thugs and propagandists reminiscent of the 1930s.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    And look what happened to them. When a bully steps forward, step forward first.

  8. tracey 8

    Who is surprised? Really? Please post if you are surprised? They also cut funding to avery successful high school girls self defence programme which as increasing girls self confidence and also saw sexual abuse reported in higher numbers. There is too much pretense about wanting to change the attitude toward girls and women in this country, and too much speed to disconnect sexual violence toward women and children with lower level attitudes (verbal and emotional which don’t involve sexual abuse). People need to visit the site of http://rpe.co.nz/ and read the actual programmes they deliver, not the ones people IMAGINE they deliver.

    IT IS A CONTINUUM.

    Until THAT is accepted, little progress will be made.

    • tinfoilhat 8.1

      Disgusted but not surprised.

      It would be great if Dr McGregor could name and shame this bully, however, i expect if they were removed another of the same ilk would take their place.

      • tracey 8.1.1

        and the MP behind the real intimidation would get off scot-free

        • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1.1

          I bet the cowardly thug enabler would squeal under pressure.

          • tracey 8.1.1.1.1

            They would deny and that seems to satisfy this country. Prove it, they would say A disgruntled employee you say? Bah.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s a serious allegation made by a respected member of the community and deserves proper investigation. Put the squealer in the dock.

    • Heather Grimwood 8.2

      In support of your comment re cutting of funds to girls’ self-defence programme Tracy : I well remember the sadness with which we saw the original need for these programmes. I remember over the decades protesting on behalf of women that they had every right to expect to be safe in their homes, or when walking home as could their brothers and other men. It is a right that has taken and is taking/wasting huge energy to achieve. IT IS DEFINITELY A CONTINUUM and one which it is frightening to see is of small consequence to our cabinet. WHERE ON EARTH IS THE VOICE OF THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN IN THESE DECISIONS ???

  9. vto 9

    Also David Carter threatening other regional councils with Ecan-type coups if they didn’t get into line

  10. AmaKiwi 10

    Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately.

    In NZ we have no counter balance to the dictatorial power of parliament (the PM’s cabal).

    The only alternative to dictatorship is control by the people (participatory democracy, binding referendums). We are a long way from the NZ public demanding such changes.

  11. Colonial Rawshark 11

    Rape Prevention Education executive director Dr Kim McGregor said the comment came in a phone call from a public servant

    And this is what happens when you fill up the public service with venal, unprincipled, careerist types.

    • tracey 11.1

      Or sack so many of their colleagues they fear the dole queue more than doing the right thing. I can only imagine the culture in our PS under this government… self preservation amongst intimidation

    • AmaKiwi 11.2

      “this is what happens when you fill up the public service with venal, unprincipled, careerist types”

      Unfair! What protection can you and I offer to someone in public service who wants to speak up against the PM’s Cabal? None!

      So the public employee has three choices: keep your mouth shut and be bullied; leave the public service; or speak up and be exiled to a dead end government office in a freezing wasteland like Dunedin.

      • Chooky 11.2.1

        +100 Amakiwi…the public service used to be filled with very principled and intelligent types who took their role to serve New Zealanders and New Zealnad very seriously

        • Colonial Rawshark 11.2.1.1

          I’m not disagreeing with your comment “used to be filled with very principled and intelligent types who took their role to serve New Zealanders and New Zealnad very seriously”. But that old public service culture has been eroded to destruction now.

      • Colonial Rawshark 11.2.2

        Unfair! What protection can you and I offer to someone in public service who wants to speak up against the PM’s Cabal? None!

        So the public employee has three choices: keep your mouth shut and be bullied; leave the public service; or speak up and be exiled to a dead end government office in a freezing wasteland like Dunedin.

        I don’t disagree with you. Whistleblowers usually know that they are permanently ending their careers. That’s why so few people step out of the long grey line.

        History is full of episodes where people continued to ‘just do their jobs’ even though their job was some small or peripheral part of something hugely abusive, repugnant or barbaric. Yes, the people in those jobs had families to feed, mortgages to pay and careers to consider. And that’s exactly how the wheels of these terrifying systems keep turning.

        • AmaKiwi 11.2.2.1

          CV, you surprised me. I expected you to disagree with my characterization of Dunedin as “a freezing wasteland.” I threw it in there for your benefit. Actually, I think it’s a more human place to live than where I live.

  12. Sable 12

    National are importing the worst aspects of US politics and its only getting worse.

    • AmaKiwi 12.1

      Wait ’til we adopt the American police policy of shooting at least one unarmed Black (or brown) man per week.

      The American Civil War (1861-1864) to free Afro-Americans is not yet over . . . and the outcome is not clear.

  13. Che Soffe 13

    Not surprising at all. Key doesn’t give a stuff about victims of crime. We saw that with Sabin and we see that again here.

  14. keyman 14

    you are either with us or your the enemy ,people need to think before they speak,
    if you speak out against John key you are an enemy an economic vandal and traitor to new Zealand think before you speak.

  15. whateva next? 15

    As soon as Key got elected with his swanky style, I knew the culture in my workplace would shift from decent values and communication/respect, to one of looking over the shoulder and protecting yourself, and it did. It always does with competition and being fiscally driven values of a National government.
    All we can do is wait until people realise there is a better way, cooperation and the “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” produces good will and a determination to work cohesively.
    In my area of work, cooperation and communication saves lives, audits just take more time away from busy people.

    • AmaKiwi 15.1

      @ whateva next?

      You are out of step. The new government motto is “save money, not lives.”

  16. SHG 16

    How brave of her to sweep it under the carpet until the group couldn’t afford her any more.

  17. jenny kirk 17

    This is what happened to the Problem Gambling Foundation. Anyone who speaks out about current govt policy will be shut down ……… how on earth did we, in NZ, get to this state of affairs !

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