Actors’ Inequity

Written By: - Date published: 10:43 am, February 14th, 2011 - 29 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Another piece of union-bashing has been quietly implemented, this one directed at Actors’ Equity (the union that took on the film and TV industry over its failure to negotiate a minimum agreement).

In the past when people from overseas wished to work in New Zealand in film and television, including everything from actors and camera people to directors and producers, the production was required to get a letter of non-objection from the relevant local craft body before a work visa would be granted. The burden of proof lay on the production company to prove the talent they were importing was truly required. If the organisation would not issue a non-objection letter the matter would be discussed between the parties to see if it could be resolved and, if no agreement could be reached and the production wanted to continue with that person, the matter ultimately went to the Minister of Immigration for a final decision.

Obviously this practice originated to prevent New Zealand being flooded with overseas workers when a suitable local could do the job. In an industry as small as ours and with employment practices that can only be described as Dickensian, this was one of the few effective tools the guilds possessed.

Standard stuff. Reasonable stuff. The process has worked well for years.

However, as of 7 February an applicant seeking a film and TV work visa need only advise the relevant organisation of who they want to bring in and why. The onus is now on industry organisation to object to an application if they so choose. The applicant must still provide evidence that the person they are seeking the work visa for cannot be sourced here. And if the organisation chooses to object but the parties cannot reach some understanding the issue still goes to the Minister for a decision.

The Immigration NZ website makes the new guidelines clear:

“What has changed?
New forms and guides have been introduced (with effect from 7 February 2011), to make it clear that the intention of the instructions is a ‘silent approval’ process for guild/union involvement. The onus is on an industry guild or union to object to a visa application (they have three working days to do so after they receive the information from the employer, production company or promoter), rather than on the employer, production company or promoter to seek prior guild or union approval through a letter of non-objection.

A minor amendment has also been made to the instructions to clarify that applicants can rely on one of the evidentiary requirements listed below, and do not need to meet all three:
• That the applicant is of international distinction or merit, or particular ethnic significance, or is manifestly essential to the presentation or production, or
• that the applicant’s employment does not put at risk the employment of New Zealand entertainers or professionals in equivalent work unless the wider benefits to be obtained from the applicant’s employment outweigh the loss of job opportunities for New Zealanders, or
• that appropriate consideration has been given to employing available New Zealand entertainers or professionals.”

These are virtually identical to the old criteria the organisations asked the production to provide. However, note that minor ‘do not need to meet all three’ rider. In the past organisations could apply any of these against an applicant. Now the bar has been significantly lowered. The key change, of course, is that the assumption is that the work visa should be granted.

Why do this? Once again, from the Immigration NZ site:

“Why have these changes been made?
The process for entertainers and crew has been clarified to ensure that the instructions’ wording is properly adhered to. Before this change, the process involved the employers, production companies or promoters seeking guild approval (via a letter of non-objection) prior to the applicant lodging their visa application with Immigration New Zealand. However, the intention of the instructions is a ‘silent approval’ process under which there is no obligation to attach a letter of support to a visa application.”

I’m not sure why Blinglish is so keen to rub policy wonks from the public service because it’s those wonks who’ve made up some neat revisionist ‘policy’ wording. Effectively what’s being said here is that we had a silent approval process all along – come one, come all, bring us your overseas labour, we don’t give a damn about the local industry. This is further proof that our government really doesn’t give a crap about creating jobs, otherwise they would not change the rules, stripping one of the key protections available to our local film and TV industry.

The power of the industry organisations to hinder free importation of talent has been a sore point amongst some for years. In a recent media column John Drinnan, one of only a few local media journalists not afraid to ask hard questions, notes a controversy involving an Actors’ Equity objection to ‘star’ Vincent Gallo brought here to film a Steinlager ad. Vincent Gallo, you know, that actor that the beer company were desperate to use because his world-famous name and face would sell their product. Yeah, I’d never heard of him either. So there would have already been employers whining to a receptive Ministers Coleman and Finlayson (since Finlayson oversees much of the industry through his Arts hat) that the guilds were holding too much power.

But that’s not really why this happened. Prior to last year the government has been M.I.A. when it comes to the film and TV industry. Sure, they might have been aware of the non-objection rule but it was small fish compared to some of the other institutions they needed to tear down.

So what changed? The Hobbit mess of course. The Hobbit debacle was a slap in the face to the government, who got severely trousered first by a tiny union who refused to give in to the bullying that they were under and then by an overseas studio who rode the government all the way to the bank. The rules have changed because the government, most likely Mr Brownlee who shouldered much of the Hobbit egg, wanted to punish Actors’ Equity.

Only one problem, the government couldn’t neuter just Equity, so they’ve given the entire industry the regulatory equivalent of a vasectomy. From now on industry guilds wanting to protect their patch face an uphill battle with the Minister of Immigration, standing at the end, ready to rubber stamp any production that comes along.

It is my understanding, and I’m happy to be proven wrong here, that the industry was not consulted about this change. Those who’ve talked to me about this tell me the rule change was a fait accompli ever before the guilds were informed about the change.

Clearly no one in government cared about (or even considered?) the economic impact on the organisations, most of whom charged for processing the applications. This includes SPADA (the producer’s/employer’s body) which used to charge hundreds of dollars for processing a non-objection letter letter. In many cases it was overseas productions or productions with overseas money who paid for the letter so our industry is now losing out on bringing in foreign dollars.

There appears to be no way the organisations can still charge for processing an application now. SPADA have already adapted and are running a subtle blackmail line on their website – ‘we won’t object if you pay us’. But any smart production would be better to save their pennies – SPADA and the other organisations will very quickly learn there is nothing to be gained in objecting unless they are utterly sure they won’t be overruled by the Minister. Most of these organisations are small and the drop in income they’re likely to face will severely hurt them. And once the money starts drying up they’ll be less likely to be able to process applications, meaning less objections and an easier even time for overseas workers wanting access. But of course, this is precisely what the National government wants – weaker worker advocates.

29 comments on “Actors’ Inequity”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    I can see this completely destroying our film industry. Instead of our actors being hired foreign multi-nationals will come in complete with their own actors and there’s now nothing that can stand in their way.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    I can see a few Lord Jackson supporters of the recent past getting burnt by this ‘swifty’ legislative change too.

    And no, you need not blame NZ Actors Equity. If anyone is to be blamed apart from producers and cinema companies 101: standard profiteering, it is the short black swilling middle classes at the likes of Public Address that spitefully withdrew support from AE and comprehensively brown nosed certain industry figures. The memory of the shameful Labour Day “Hobbitt” love ins endures.

    Ultimately you do what other unions have had to do and get your shit together. Form a modern united pan NZ film industry union affiliated to a large professional union such as the EPMU. Craft guilds are from another century given the scale of the industry in this country.

    • Tigger 2.1

      Problems with that nice idea TM.

      Few of the organisations are unions – Actors’ Equity and the NZ Writers Guild are two of the only ones that are unions.

      There is a fanatic anti-union sentiment amongst many of the organisations, fostered by the producers. So forget the Director’s Guild becoming a union.

      The contracting basis most workers in the industry are engaged under makes it difficult to collectively bargain. And without collective bargaining you don’t have a carrot to organise around, nor a stick to warn the employers with.

      The Employment Contracts Act was very, very nasty to the film and TV industry. It’s never recovered and without some contracting based legislation it never will.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.1.1

        I don’t like being a defeatist but you are probably right Tigger. I was talking theoretically really, but ultimately organisation and legislation are the answer. Have talked to people in the industry before, during and after ‘Hobbitt’-line producers and techs, normally articulate fun types that just have a total personality change when you mention AE or unions.

        Apparently films and commercials are ‘special’, unions are not needed, it is all based on personal relationships, everyone knows who the good guys and the arseholes are, we sort everything out ourselves, we like being contractors. This of course from people with regular work in Auckland.
        Of course the reality is often precarious employment and exploitation. Have a family member currently involved and was on the perhipery of AE in 80s, 90s, amazing the same faces still around.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    We’re getting rid of duties and tariffs on most things. Why not labour as well?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Because a free market for labour is stupid and highly disadvantageous for workers and for fair local wage levels. Great if you are a big corporate though.

      Mind you, a freer labour market with Australia has helped 600,000 Kiwis move their skills out of NZ to help the Australian economy so I guess its not all bad.

      The other area where it is stupid to have a free market is that of financial capital.

      • tsmithfield 3.1.1

        There are already natural barriers to entry for foreign actors. For instance, I assume that foreign actors have to be put up in flash digs, have their air-fares paid etc, whereas local actors are likely not to have anywhere near as much in cost.

        So, if it is correct that local actors have a natural advantage in terms of cost, then why do they need more protection? If they are so hopeless they can’t win a role with all those advantages, then they shouldn’t be professional actors IMO.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Sorry mate, I don’t care about getting in the odd headlining Colin Firth or Johnny Depp here, we are talking about replacing hundreds of NZ extras, technicians and labourers with cheap foreign workers.

          Who will probably not be put up in lakeside condos.

          So, if it is correct that local actors have a natural advantage in terms of cost, then why do they need more protection?

          ??? I guess it depends if you can be bothered developing an independent local entertainment industry, or if you want to make do as a minor service arm of an international industry.

          • tsmithfield 3.1.1.1.1

            What I said still holds true.

            Even imported extras, technicians etc would still have more associated costs than local people. This helps offset any wage differential. If local people still can’t compete, then obviously they are too expensive.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Good of you to champion the hollowing out of the NZ employment market mate and your backing of NAT’s wage suppression tactics on your friends, neighbours and extended family.

              Your attitude reminds me of why 600,000 NZ born Kiwis have decided to move to Australia permanently. People can tell when they are not being valued, and they leave.

              Oz, where the pay is higher, they are heavily unionised and compete just fine as an entertainment industry. Funny that. They clearly don’t have the bottom of the barrel attitude of NZ business ‘leaders’.

              • tsmithfield

                Stop being so dramatic.

                I strongly suspect that the extra costs associated with bringing in outside people will make it uneconomic to do so. Therefore, I doubt that any NZ workers will miss out because they are too expensive. If the producers do bring anyone in it will be because there is no-one suitable in NZ to do the job.

                Time will tell I guess. If you can point to any examples of NZ people being displaced I will grovel and admit I was wrong.

                • Colonial Viper

                  If you can point to any examples of NZ people being displaced I will grovel and admit I was wrong.

                  Best estimates are that 600,000 NZ born Kiwis are now living and working in Australia.

                  You want more evidence? Now its true that these NZ’ers haven’t been displaced by foreign workers (although if you ask around there seem to be a lot of recent immigrants working on farms and building sites for not very much).

                  But it is evidence of a hollowed out employment market. Choice for any up and coming young professional is stark. Get out of NZ is at the top of the list. 1/4 of our graduates are already gone.

                  • tsmithfield

                    What is that to do with the point we are arguing?

                    I thought it was about mysterious foreign budget priced technicians/actors etc displacing our people here in NZ, not about our people leaving to Australia.

                    Anyway, its never going to happen while there is are viable and reputable people here in NZ. Heck, thats half the reason they decided to make the film here in the first place, because we do have that infrastructure at a good price. There would be so many costs and risks associated with bringing people from overseas that it just not going to happen.

                    If anyone is going to be brought in it will be because the required set of attributes is not available in NZ.

            • orange whip? 3.1.1.1.1.2

              If local people still can’t compete, then obviously they are too expensive.

              …or overseas ones are too cheap.

              Oh sorry, for a moment I forgot that the holy market is infallible and must be obeyed.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    What’s the bet that Peter Jackson personally contributed to the new policy.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Sounds like a nice platform for Winston – protecting NZ film workers.

  6. prism 6

    I don’t think that Peter Jackson’s name should be maligned on suspicion. This is such a backward step, I would think that it has been initiated by the NACTS who it is known need some plumbing, a tap on the head. They don’t care about NZ being a modern nation with ideas and creativity spawning new business. The creative industry needs regular work and so build up huge experience. Who are the Immigration mandarins that would come up with this? Who asked them to change something that worked OK?

    But the horizons of the ding(h)y political sailors is so low they would wipe this.
    Their backgrounds are from farming and service provision like legals eg David Bennett. They have run away from any original ideas for new manufacturing and exporting business.

  7. Tigger 7

    Whoops, forgot to sign this piece. For the record, it’s mine.

  8. Nick C 8

    Seriously? What a fucking stupid policy, I cant believe it has taken National so long to repeal this!

    On principle why the hell should a union get to decide who I spend my money employing for my production? Once I decide to employ someone who is a member of a union, let the union negotiate their terms and conditions or indeed a collective agreement for all the workers in the industry, sure. But just handing legal control to unions over employment in the entire industry.. i can’t even find the words!

    Any benefits are based on believing the economic falacy that immigration leads to higher unemployment, which is debunked here: http://amateurassetallocator.com/2009/02/11/immigration-causes-unemployment-and-other-economic-fallacies/

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Yep, undermine the local industry and local workers just as we are developing to stand on our own two feet. Mind you the big corporates and the big players like Jackson will love having more leverage over local workers.

      Your immigration red herring is useless as well, as these foreign workers are not immigrating to NZ, they are just taking a short term job.

      On principle why the hell should a union get to decide who I spend my money employing for my production?

      Just because you hold the capital does not mean you hold the power, yeah? Unions increase workers’ power over capital, and that needs to happen even more.

      • Nick C 8.1.1

        “Your immigration red herring is useless as well as these foreign workers are not immigrating to NZ, they are just taking a short term job.”

        No it’s not, the fact that are only here short term is completely immaterial (think of the long term is just a series of short terms). It’s to do with the fact that when people come here; short term or long term, they dont just work in jobs, they also create them. Read the link before you make such stupid comments.

        “Just because you hold the capital does not mean you hold the power”

        It should mean that you hold the power over the capital, and you should be free to make mutually beneficial, consentual agreements with other workers.

        • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1

          It should mean that you hold the power over the capital, and you should be free to make mutually beneficial, consentual agreements with other workers.

          Ahhh, but should you also have the power to make agreements which disadvantage disempowered and hungry workers, but maximises your return on capital? Well?

          No it’s not, the fact that are only here short term is completely immaterial (think of the long term is just a series of short terms).

          This is idiotic.

          A temporary seasonal worker who is in NZ for 3 months is not going to buy and renovate a house, purchase furniture, buy school uniforms or get a membership at the gym.

          Learn a lesson from the Vietnam war why don’t you. Having 3 different soldiers in Vietnam for a year each does not give you the same experience as having the same soldier there for 3 years. As this, and the above example re: buying and furnishing a house shows, the long term is not simply a series of short terms added up together 🙄

          It’s to do with the fact that when people come here; short term or long term, they dont just work in jobs, they also create them. Read the link before you make such stupid comments.

          Frak you asshat.

          OK then, let’s have a look at what your precious link actually says.

          The best refutation is historical: Why did the U.S. have extremely low unemployment throughout the 19th century when immigration numbers were much, much higher than they are today? Because the increased aggregate demand created by the immigrants created at least as many (if not more) jobs than they took.

          The writer assigned an answer: more immigrants more aggregate demand. No reasoning, no facts, no logic, no historical economic context. No analysis of the type, background, skills of the immigrants. They just said A is because of B. And then you say that somehow, that ‘conclusion’ drawn from 19th century USA is directly relevant to 21st century New Zealand 😯

          Why are you wasting our time with this quality of shit house ‘reference’?

        • SPC 8.1.1.2

          The USA did not have free trade in the 19th C. So its immigrants had to produce their consumption, thus no employment.unemployment issue.

          Your links relevance in a free trade global market world is zero.

    • The Voice of Reason 8.2

      Got some bad news for you, Nick. Unions, and other interested parties, are routinely asked for their opinion on bringing in overseas workers all the time.

      Whenever an employer wants to bring in overseas labour, a check is done by Immigration on whether the work could be done by Kiwi residents and, if allowed, minimum pay rates that do not undermine the locals must be paid. Unless you are working for the liar, sorry, er, master story teller, Peter Jackson.

      • Tigger 8.2.1

        And it isn’t just a union thing, it was the entire industry that possessed this power, including the employer’s guild – SPADA. But hey Nick, don’t let the facts get in the way of you rushing to bash the unions over the head…

    • Jum 8.3

      But, you’re happy with this government handing legal control over workers to employers in all industry…

  9. Jeez …we could do with some fresh local talent on the screen though. It’s like we have A-listers Paquin, Neill, Curtis, Urban and then Z-listers with nothing in between

    Shavaughn on Shorty St anyone ?…anyone ? or how about the pencarrow/sandfly point/pencarrow/sandfly point guy as a Norse God…nah ?…Me neither.

    So exactly who is our equivalent of Ian McKellern that we cold sub him in and still bank on box office clout to get the bums on seats ? Maybe we could put the ubiquitous Rhys Darby in a smock with a repoed farmers day santa parade beard fixed in place with some number 8 wire and we’d all be buy into it.

    Look ,I’m all for suspending disbelief but fuck it, when it comes to star power to prop up a big budget movie we’re a bit thin on the ground

    and RIP Frank Whitten… Good on ya mate ! She’s a hard road to riches and fame treading the Kiwiland boards eh ? Better luck in the next life. I’ll sink a speights to your memory…cheers

    • Mark 9.1

      I agree that there is a major gap between A-listers and the rest of New Zealand actors, but I think that’s exactly the issue at hand. If producers/employers continue to hire foreign actors to do the ‘big jobs’ then how are we ever going to produce an acting community of high calibre? Everyone is either going overseas or being re-used, as per your example; pencarrow/sandfly point guy. However, on THAT note I have to say that Jared Turner (he has a name) is a competent, talented, and well respected actor within the acting community. He’s been around for a while, but it’s only now that he’s starting to gain momentum and get some decent parts in the public eye. That’s because the industry is (albeit slowly) beginning to bank on New Zealand actors. This new practice is going to take us a step back from becoming a truly independent film industry.

      And yes, R.I.P. Frank Whitten.

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     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    5 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    6 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    6 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    7 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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