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Exclusive: New evidence shows Lee lied about NZ on Air funding

Written By: - Date published: 2:27 pm, December 6th, 2009 - 49 comments
Categories: melissa lee - Tags:

Newly uncovered correspondence between Melissa Lee and NZ on Air shows that she and her leader, John Key, seriously misled the media, the house and the public over the issue of her company’s misappropriation of $80,000 of NZ on Air funds.

Documents obtained by The Standard show Lee’s claim to media that she had no idea about the matter until 12th of October was false. (“Ms Lee said she was informed of the problem when a business partner forwarded her a letter last night”*, “NZ on Air sent a letter to my business partner which I have just received now”*) Lee was actually notified five months earlier on the 18th of May. Here’s the note from the NZ on Air file:

Spoke to Melissa Lee 16:45 18/5. She thought the amount coded to contingency was for overexpenditure in other codes. She will check with the previous production manager who has left the company.

The documents also confirm Lee’s first written reply on the issue was on the 22nd of June:

I just want to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated June 12th. It was received by the Asia Downunder office on Friday and it was delivered to me today

And that she had acknowledged there was money to pay back on the 17th August (although this letter, supposedly sent the day before Broadcasting Minister Johnathan Coleman found out about the issue, wasn’t received by NZ on Air until August 24th):

I would like your guidance and advice on what [sic] and how we sort this error out.

After TV3 broke the story John Key’s response was to attack NZ on Air, telling Parliament:

Maybe that reflects badly on NZ On Air, which thinks that the way that it should respond to these things is by leaking them to the Labour Party, without having the courtesy of sending the letter in the first place to Melissa Lee.

But we now know that NZ on Air had notified Lee more than five months earlier. The information John Key provided to the House, whether intentional or not, is false.

Within hours of the TV3 airing, Lee’s company announced that they would pay the money back with Lee issuing a statement claiming it was “a technical accounting mistake” and that “This has come as a total surprise, the company wasn’t aware that the money set aside in the contingency was technically expected to be refunded.” The implication was that the “surprise” issue had only just come to her attention and she had moved quickly to fix it. We now know this is untrue. We also have no record of the money being refunded.

Timeline:

  • 12 May – Report on Lee’s company shows issues under investigation
  • 18 May – First telephone conversation between NZ on Air and Melissa Lee on the issue
  • 12 June – Lee contacted by NZ on Air and asked to explain
  • 13 June – Mt Albert by-election
  • 22 June – Lee replies via email to NZ on Air letter, promises action
  • 14 July – NZ on Air contact Lee asking her to report progress
  • 16 July – Lee replies she hasn’t had a chance to follow up
  • 12 August – NZ on Air make determination to tell Minister of Broadcasting Jonathan Coleman
  • 17 August – Lee finally gets back to TVNZ, says she can provide no further information about the misappropriated fund (received by NZ on Air, 24 August)
  • 18 August – Jonathan Coleman says he’s told of the problem by NZ on Air
  • 7 October – NZ on Air board agree Lee should pay back $80,000 of public money
  • 12 October – Asia Downunder sent letter demanding payment
  • 12 October – Letter demanding payment leaked and broadcast by TV3 News
  • 12 October – Lee says this is the first day she hears of the matter five months after she first talked to NZ on Air about it
  • 12 October 8:55pm – TV3 reports Lee will pay back the money
  • 13 October – Key repeats Lee’s story in House and attacks NZ on Air

This new information raises some serious questions. It’s clear from the documents that Lee lied to the media about her knowledge of the situation and it’s highly likely that, having known about the misappropriation of public funds for some time, she was only willing to pay the (taxpayers’) money back after it became a media story.

Further, John Key lied to Parliament the following day. I would have expected that before he took this up in the House he would have been briefed by Lee and told about how far back her knowledge of the issue went. The public deserve answers:

– What did Melissa Lee tell John Key about when she first knew of NZ on Air’s allegations?

– Did John Key make it up when he said NZ on Air had leaked the letter to Labour before telling Melissa Lee?

– Did Melissa Lee backdate her letter of 17 Aug, which wasn’t received by NZ on Air until August 24th? Jonathan Coleman says he was told of the problem by the chair of NZ on Air on August 18th.

– Why did Lee wait until the TV3 broadcast to pay back the money, when she indicated to NZ on Air several months earlier that she wanted to sort it out?

– Who was involved in the cover-up to keep the issue secret from the people of Mt Albert before the 13th June by-election?

– Lee, Key and Coleman each need to spell out in detail what they knew when.

– Will John Key apologise to Parliament for presenting misinformation on the matter during question time?

49 comments on “Exclusive: New evidence shows Lee lied about NZ on Air funding”

  1. Gooner 1

    Gunning for Lee is like Brazil gunning for the All Whites at the World Cup.

    Pointless.

    • Tigger 1.1

      Because she’s an MP and we should all just accept their behaviour? Because she’s bulletproof and Key won’t dump her no matter how much dirt sticks to her? Because she’s a lady? Because she’s a nice person?

  2. prism 2

    Just shows. Not all the dodgy people live in South Auckland.

  3. Santi 3

    No need to worry. The lazy Prime Minister will do nothing about this transgression.
    He’s too busy flying around the world and smiling like there is no tomorrow.

    A pathetic man leading a pathetic National government.

  4. Tim Ellis 4

    On a desperation scale this post scores pretty highly Eddie.

    • IrishBill 4.1

      That’s Mr Eddie to you, Tim. And you’re right, Lee’s actions certainly were desperate.

    • Eddie 4.2

      I’m less than taken back by your response, Tim. Have you got anything to say about the substance? The fact that Lee lied, the fact that Key at least repeated her lie, Coleman’s coverup?

    • andy 4.3

      Tim, I am glad your relaxed ™ about misleading the house and the people of New Zealand.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.4

      Evidence of outright corruption by ministers of the present government and you call it desperation on the part of the people bringing it to the public’s notice?

  5. Tim Ellis 6

    IB either I am on a losing battle for referring to people by their last name (which is my habit since childhood) or for referrring them by their first name when no last name is provided. A bit petty if you ask me.

    Documents obtained by The Standard show Lee’s claim to media that she had no idea about the matter until 12th of October was false. Lee was actually notified five months earlier on the 18th of May. Here’s the note from the NZ on Air file:

    There was no claim to the media that Ms Lee knew nothing about the matter until 12th October. It is clear from the correspondence that from the initial inquiry an amount was in dispute. There is no evidence that Ms Lee knew how much was in dispute until 12 October.

    Another beat up from somebody who seems obsessed with Ms Lee.

    • Eddie 6.1

      Tim. The old distraction tactics are looking pretty desperate.

      There’s no obsession with Lee. We last posted on her in October when this issue was last in the news.

      “There was no claim to the media that Ms Lee knew nothing about the matter until 12th October”

      Yes there was. I have two quotes: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/mnr/2009/10/13/asia_downunder_moves_to_correct_accounting_error and http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/pm-stands-lee-over-funding-row-113108

      Still comfortable with Lee lying along with Coleman and Key?

      • Tim Ellis 6.1.1

        No evidence of lying in any of those quotes Eddie. What there is evidence of is a long series of inquiries into AV by NZOA on some pretty technical accounting issues that were in dispute by the two parties. If you’ve ever been through a financial audit you will know this is pretty common, and mistakes of interpretation happen all the time.

        There is no evidence that Ms Lee knew how much was in dispute at the time of the 18 May discussion, or the extent of the problem.

        So yes, pretty desperate on your part. As for whether you are obsessed with Ms Lee your cat calling at the time of the by election shows otherwise.

        • Eddie 6.1.1.1

          “cat calling” what an odd term to use.

          do you mean that we had posts on lee’s frequent pratfalls and her inability to control her temper? Because, you know, they were pretty major news. Maybe Guyon and Duncan were cat calling too?

          gee, Tim. you’re really not doing well today.

        • Chris C 6.1.1.2

          “If you’ve ever been through a financial audit you will know this is pretty common, and mistakes of interpretation happen all the time.”

          No they don’t. There are no “mistakes of interpretation”, because an audit sets the terms of interpreting the accounts. That’s what an audit is for – to define the terms by which financial peformances and accounting methods will be judged. There is no interpretation except what the auditors interpret it as. That’s why we have GAAP and IFRS.

          If someone uses the term “mistakes of interpretation”, then an auditor’s ears will prick up. Interpretation isn’t a word often used in an audit.

  6. Irascible 7

    I’d argue that this demonstrates yet another example of arrogance allowing the NACT MPs to believe that their inbuilt natural tendency to exploit the taxpayer (also called corruption) is an acceptable practice in public life.

  7. Eddie 8

    Tim: “No evidence of lying in any of those quotes Eddie”

    umm,

    “Ms Lee said she was informed of the problem when a business partner forwarded her a letter last night.”

    • Tim Ellis 8.1

      Eddie please point out where in the correspondence it says that NZOA had investigated and found that there was an accounting error relating to $80,000 of incorrectly attributed expenditure, and where it was acknowledged in the earlier correspondence that Ms Lee knew of this.

  8. Eddie 9

    all in the post, of course but here, again, is the correspondence on misuse of the contingency fund, which Lee later said she only learned of on 12 October. 18th May, to Lee: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/File-note.jpg . 22 June, from Lee: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/First-Lee-email.jpg

    • Tim Ellis 9.1

      The correspondence shows nothing of the kind Eddie.

      The call on 18 May shows a “please explain how you decided on this” conversation, the same kind that accountants have with their clients when reviewing financial information all the time. There is no evidence that NZOA reached a judgement on the matter until much later and no evidence that Ms Lee knew about the judgement until 12 October.

      Please show where in any of the correspondence prior to 7 October it shows that NZOA had reached a decision on what to be refunded Eddie. You will have to do better than posting links with vague assumptions of your own.

      • IrishBill 9.1.1

        I don’t think it’s a vague assumption at all. Lee clearly says tells the media she was not aware of the problem until the 12th of October but she had actually been in correspondence with NZ on Air about the problem since May.

        • Tim Ellis 9.1.1.1

          Yes you might come to that conclusion IB if you started with the assumption that Ms Lee was dishonest and set out to misappropriate money, which was Eddie’s contention going right back to his original claim that Ms Lee misappropriated NZOA money to spend on political advertising (which NZOA investigated and found there was no substance to the claim).

          But as with all auditing or reviews of company or organisational accounting, the first thing to happen will be NZOA asks for a set of accounts, then questions the directors on the assumptions they used in preparing the accounts, and then reaches a conclusion on the validity of those assumptions.

          The file note of 18 May shows that NZOA was inquring into the assumptions made by AV in preparing the accounts. To describe such questining as an allegation of impropriety shows that Eddie is either being dishonest or ignorant about how auditing works.

          The assumptions that Ms Lee’s company made with regard to the transfer to the continegency line survived both standard audit and presumably ongoing annual review of accounts by NZOA going back several years. NZOA reached a view on 7 October that the interpretation that AV had been applying with respect to the contingency line item was incorrect.

          There is no evidence at all that Ms Lee knew what the outcome of NZOA’s queries were, how much was in dispute, or even whether the decision of NZOA’s board would be that AV’s intepretation of the use of the contingency fund was incorrect, until after the Board reached its determination on 7 October.

          Eddie further says:

          And that she had acknowledged there was money to pay back on the 17th August

          Ms Lee’s letter of 17 August makes no such acknowledgement. It makes an offer to change AV’s budgeting process so that the use of the contingency line item is not used in future, and asks NZOA for guidance on the next stage.

          There is no evidence in any of the correspondence that Ms Lee was aware that NZOA would determine that AV’s budgeting process was incorrect, that money would need to be repaid, or how much money was involved until after the 7 October board decision.

          Nowhere in the media did Ms Lee deny having any conversations with NZOA, as Eddie has claimed. Clearly she was in discussions, but she did not know the outcome of those discussions until NZOA reached its determination.

          • Eddie 9.1.1.1.1

            she claimed not to be aware of the issue. the papers prove otherwise.

          • andy 9.1.1.1.2

            Tim, when an external auditor has a ‘please explain’ question, alarm bells should ring. Especially when you are receiving public funds, one should be aware that there is a certain sensitivity surrounding it (twilight golf anyone?).

            Lee and Co should have been on amber alert, this is not your accountant asking why you accidentally coded an expense as non taxable instead of taxable. This is a ‘this looks dodgy, you better have a good explanation, cause if you don’t…..’ type of question.

            Good try, external auditors are very very serious and can have a huge impact on future funding, but you should know that.

          • Rex Widerstrom 9.1.1.1.3

            Good grief. A small part of what I do involves making TV with a production company in which I have an interest.

            A very small part of that involves public money. If the public funder said “we’re going to audit you” (as opposed to the usual process of simply requiring you to account for your expenditure, which is an entirely different matter) I’d s**t my pants.

            In my experience (and I should state I’ve had no dealings with NZOA so this may not apply to them) public funders tend to be quite relaxed in their dealings with production companies with whom they’ve had a pre-existing relationship.

            So relaxed, in fact, it annoys me because they tend to shut out newcomers and fund existing providers to produce what often turns out to be second rate material.

            So for one to trot out the possibility of an audit could not fail to cause alarm at a production company.

            To spin this as her thinking they needed to recode their contingency funds or somesuch minor accounting issue is disingenuous.

            If alarm bells didn’t go off in May, or maybe early June at the very latest then Lee and her comrades are so breathtakingly dim that they should never have been deemed suitable to receive the money in the first place.

  9. Eddie 10

    “Please show where in any of the correspondence prior to 7 October it shows that NZOA had reached a decision on what to be refunded Eddie.”

    Not relevant. Lee clearly claimed not to know of the issue,it’s not a matter of whether the decision had been made, it’s whether she knew there was a problem.

    “Ms Lee said she was informed of the problem when a business partner forwarded her a letter last night”,

    “NZ on Air sent a letter to my business partner which I have just received now’

  10. Eric C. 11

    Excellent work Eddie.

    If you need further evidence that Lee was telling porkies read this from http://www.parliament.govt.nz :

    Question for Written Answer

    “15491 (2009). Hon Pete Hodgson to the Prime Minister (19 Oct 2009): Was it a member of his staff who informed him that NZ on Air had leaked information about their investigations into Melissa Lee’s company; if not, who did inform him that New Zealand on Air was the source of the leak?

    Hon John Key (Prime Minister) replied: Melissa Lee.”

    Key was rubbished by the media for his claim that NZ on Air leaked the letter and here he himself tells us he got that advice from Melissa Lee.

    Key bought her story lock, stock and barrel and repeated it in parliament. How stupid is that?

  11. Anne 12

    Any chance of banning T Ellis permanently? I look forward to intelligent and enlightened debate on this site and I’m sick of that troll’s attempts to hijack the posts. I’m not the only person who is being turned off from reading the comments because of that ignorant prat.

    • Tim Ellis 12.1

      I’m sorry if you’re offended Anne, but I didn’t realise that directly discussing the claims made in a post constitute “hijacking” it.

    • gitmo 12.2

      “I look forward to intelligent and enlightened debate on this site ”

      Really ? I thought most people came here for partisan hackery or a bit a verbal bif.

      • mickysavage 12.2.1

        I think that Tim does us a service. We get to know the National attack and defend lines even before they are trotted out in the MSM. Keep it up Tim, good work.

  12. dave 13

    unfortunately, this doesn’t actually meet the “so what” test. Therefore no serious questions are raised.

    • Eric C. 13.1

      An MP misleading her leader and her leader being stupid enough to repeat that misleading advice shows a lack of judgement in both MP and leader.

      I guess you can say, “So what,” but some expect more from their leaders.

      • IrishBill 13.1.1

        To be fair it’s only public funds and lying to the house, it’s not like she was driven through Temuka really fast or signed a painting for charity. Now that would be a big deal.

      • andy 13.1.2

        It meets the “Worth” test for sacking. What ever that was 🙂

  13. Eddie 14

    yeah, an MP, a minister, and a prime minister misleading the public over an investigation into the misuse of public funds. So what?

    • Rex Widerstrom 14.1

      FWIW I can see parallels between this and situation Winston was in in 1996 with Michael Laws and his company’s receipt of public money for “polling” in Hawkes Bay.

      The leader cannot know for sure what happened* and is thus forced to rely on the MP’s version of events. You have no choice but to figure the MP wouldn’t be reckless enough to take you (and possibly the party) down with them by compounding whatever misdemeanour they’d committed by lying.

      So you grit your teeth and stand up in Parliament, blinking the sweat out of your eyes and trying to keep your sphincter clenched, and repeat the story you’ve been told, all the while suspecting that the little toad is just using you as a human shield.

      One could argue that Leader ought to have gone with his instinct and jettisoned the rat before it gnawed a hole in the side of the ship, but then you’d be accused of dictatorial behaviour and disloyalty.

      The sad fact is, you should never have hand picked that particular rodent. But by then it’s too late.

      * Though of course Winston pretty much did know, since I went to Hawkes Bay and investigated the incident, then reported to him.

      But alas a complete numpty from ACT to whom I’d spoken decided it was better to big note himself to the media than to let matters run their course, and Winston felt he had to stand by his newly minted MP, hoping it was he and not I who was telling the truth.

      Thus the haemorrhaging continued for months, until a “principled” resignation was finally extracted.

      Perhaps we’re in for a few months of Lee haemorrhaging till she too resigns. Well done The Standard for this admirable bit of investigative journalism, BTW.

  14. Anne 15

    Offended by you Timmy boy? That’s a joke. If you had a sense of humour you would be tolerable. Why don’t you go get your kicks elsewhere… somewhere far, far away. I’m sure there are people at this site who would be delighted to assist you find another outlet for your energies.

    .

  15. Steve 16

    What is a Kangaroo Court? Seems to be a lot of insulting by todays Standard Judges?
    Oh sorry, I asked two questions, please do not get confused

  16. Doug 17

    On Red Alert
    Idiot/Savant says:

    December 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm
    or whether he has the backbone to sack her.

    Sack her from what? She’s not in Cabinet, she’s just an MP. And the Prime Minister doesn’t get to sack them.

    Poor old Trevor Malard.

    • Zorr 17.1

      She is a List MP. She wasn’t personally elected to the position she currently holds and has been sworn in to Parliament as selected by National as a result of voting, not by the voting of an electorate for her. So she can actually be sacked and replaced without subverting the democratic process.

    • lprent 17.2

      Does raise an interesting question about list MPs.

      I’ll take a bet that National has some clauses about behaviour. If they dump her from the party, then I think that there is waka jumping legislation? After all she is an MP because of the national list. The Nats would be out one MP.

      The National story is that she claimed something to the PM that is contradicted by the facts. That has got to be bad behavior.

      • Tim Ellis 17.2.1

        The National story is that she claimed something to the PM that is contradicted by the facts. That has got to be bad behavior.

        Where did you get this LP?

  17. Personally, I’m finding Tim Ellis’s rationalisations hugely entertaining.

  18. Tigger 19

    Personally it’s a lot like watching a small dog doing tricks – amusing after a while but ultimately you just want it to stop yapping.

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    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of a pretty flower, .   . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a cute animal video. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8
    . . April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down… Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • A note on apartments and bubbles
    As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks. Recent decades have ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Getting in futures shape 
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Lenin Don’t we all know that feeling now.

    Prospect Magazine alerted me to this particularly apt quote. It is a much more evocative quote than Hemingway’s “gradually then suddenly” which is also doing ...

    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    5 days ago
  • Maybe axing Clark would be unfair. But what about any of this is fair?
    Yesterday was the day the consequences of the lockdown suddenly got very real for many. Firms have been closing and laying people off since the outset of the quarantine but this has mostly been happening out of the public eye. The mass closure of a number of iconic New Zealand ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    5 days ago
  • Might a ‘Coasean’ social contract mitigate overall societal harm from COVID-19?
    Brian Williamson1, Prof Nick Wilson2 (1Economic consultant, UK; 2University of Otago Wellington) In this blog, we outline how a win-win social contract could be forged to address the major dimensions of response to the COVID-19 pandemic when using a mitigation strategy: the particular need to protect older people from high ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • Returning To “Normalcy”.
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    5 days ago
  • New Zealand’s Government Must Save New Zealand’s Media.
    No Free Society Without A Free And Functioning News Media: If we are to surrender our civil rights to the broader cause of defeating Covid-19, then foreign corporations must, likewise, surrender their right to inflict immense economic and cultural harm on New Zealanders simply because it improves their bottom line.I’M ...
    5 days ago
  • Corona fevers and the madness of models
    by Daphna Whitmore A third of the world is under lockdown and a clear assessment of this measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is urgently needed.  With any high-stakes decisions it has to be asked what are we dealing with here? Are the measures warranted? Will they achieve their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Lockdown day 8
    I haven’t done a huge amount in the last few days. I’m reading The Poppy War and I’ve sort of poked at a couple of games – I started SOMA but I’m a wimp and I quit while in the first room after the brain scan. I might try it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    5 days ago
  • Backstage and Theatre
    The swan politicians may be gliding on the water, occasionally snapping at one another. Meanwhile, as the Covid19 crisis illustrates, the officials are desperately paddling below providing the real locomotion. One of the most fatuous recent grandstanding comments (of about a week ago), adding to the public’s anxieties, was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    5 days ago
  • Legal Beagle: Waiver, the singular Crown and the conduct of Crown legal business
    Much has been written about the importance of discretion in an emergency situation, and the concerns raised by the potential for it to be exercised arbitrarily. Given the quality of the discussion, there seemed little point in adding to it at any length. In particular, I point to the evidence ...
    5 days ago
  • Highlights from Bauer Media’s science-related reporting
    Today has felt surreal. I was all set to touch base online with my science communication students when a colleague shared the news that Bauer Media would be shutting down its publications immediately. The first link I saw implied it was Woman’s Weekly affected, and even that shocked me. But ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    5 days ago
  • Outsiders.
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    6 days ago
  • We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey
    Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • RIP The Listener, New Zealand’s pioneering voice
    Funnily enough, my thought as I start this post is whether it will be well written enough. Or should that be well enough written? Because so much of what I know about good writing came from my two stints at The Listener, which this morning was shut down due to ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
  • OK, Britney: stop sniping at National for doing its job
    With normal democratic procedures in abeyance, there were two ways to go. First, it was open for the government to dissolve itself and invite the National Party to join a ministry of national salvation. That would have lessened the democratic deficit of the times by having a team of rivals without ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    6 days ago
  • Helpful tips for parents during lockdown
    Dr Kirsty Ross Children and young people can respond differently in times of distress. This also varies by age and developmental stage, with younger children having more magical and imaginative thinking, and older children having more awareness and knowledge of the issues our communities are facing (which brings up ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    6 days ago
  • Hungary is now a dictatorship
    Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    7 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: Diamond Harbour School Blogs I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or ...
    7 days ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    7 days ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
    For almost a week now, every one of us who isn’t an essential worker has been confined to their bubble. We are allowed to go shopping for groceries, to visit the doctor, and to get a bit of exercise if we stay local. The reason we are doing this is ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    7 days ago
  • A Government System That Works
    The Covid-19 saga will no doubt produce many twists and turns for us before it is finally brought to an end. But one thing it has shown us – and what comfort it should bring us – is that our country’s government is in good hands. I am not thinking ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
    In the absence of a vaccine or a cure for a deadly disease, staying home in your bubble is what you do, the concept is not new.  To the best of my knowledge last time we did this in NZ was for polio, in the years before a vaccine came ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    1 week ago
  • National Network on Cuba (USA): “Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founde...
    The following statement was released on March 28 by the National Network on Cuba, a coalition of 40 groups, based in the United States. In recent weeks, Cuba has deployed hundreds of medical providers to over a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, as well as to their neighbors in Latin ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Alarming decrease in calves increases fears for endangered Hector’s dolphin
    This has been a terrible summer for Hector’s dolphins. The first indication was very low numbers of dolphin sightings during late spring and early summer. The Otago University Marine Mammal Research Team has carried out routine dolphin surveys at Banks Peninsula for more than 30 years. In all that time, ...
    SciBlogsBy Otago Marine Science
    1 week ago
  • Time for Grant Robertson to reveal package #2?
    On March 17, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was quick out of the blocks with an economic rescue package to help businesses through the inevitable recession resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Robertson had pulled together a scheme in short order that so far seems to have saved many jobs. In his ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • Saving lives
    The purpose of the lockdown is to save lives, by reducing the spread of covid-19. We won't know if its really working for another week, but given the devastation that will result if it doesn't - 14,000 dead is the optimistic scenario - its definitely worth trying. But pausing the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 5
    . . March 30: Day five of living in lock-down… Woke up still in darkness. Alarm hadn’t gone off. Turn to radio clock; it’s a few minutes after 6am… I lie there in the dark, waiting to drift off to sleep… but it ain’t happening. Clock ticks over to 6.55 ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Les Gray: the man who told the truth
    The story of Les Gray, the public sector psychologist who told the truth about his use of cannabis and set off a storm, has a special place in the lore of cannabis reform in New Zealand.When Paul Shannon interviewed Gray for the 'Dope and Hope' issue of Planet magazine in ...
    1 week ago
  • Why now? Historical specificity and the perfect storm that has created trans identity politics
    by Phil Duncan For Marxists, a key concern about social trends is their context – not just their causes, but why they happen when they do.  Events and phenomena have causes, but they also are time or period-specific. While much of the left have capitulated recently to postmodernism, most notably ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Time for a living wage for supermarket workers
    Since the lockdown began, we've all suddenly been reminded who the actually essential workers in our society are: not the people at the top who pay themselves the big bucks and rort the perks, but the people at the bottom they screw over and squeeze: cleaners, warehouse staff, truck drivers ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: MUSIC: Lockdown Grooves
    Kia ora! As I've watched nearly all my remaining work vanish over the past couple of days, it has occured to me that one good way to keep me away from arguing with fools on Twitter all the time (in the knowledge that all we're really doing is processing our ...
    1 week ago
  • A place of greater safety?
    Aotearoa New Zealand has committed to trying to extirpate the virus that causes COVID-19 from its shores. To do that, as a society we’ve moved to “Level 4”. That means adapting to unprecedented restrictions on our personal freedoms, particularly to our rights to move freely and associate with friends and ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • The police and public trust
    When the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency last week, she handed the police powers to enforce it. And almost immediately, we started hearing about heavy-handed, arbitrary "enforcement" by police who (at best) cared more about order than law, or (more likely) had no idea what the rules were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 4
    . . Lock Down: Day 4 – A photo essay with observations . March 29: Usual wake up routine as RNZ snaps on my radio-clock. Jim Mora’s voice slowly enters my conciousness; there’s talk of a second wave of covid19 taking hold in South Korea; the week in Parliament – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 vs New Zealand
    Yesterday, New Zealand recorded its first Covid-19 related death on the West Coast. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the only fatality, with the virus now being found in every region of the country.However despite the significant danger, people are still unfortunately breaching lockdown rules.There’s really only one main very ...
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #13
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... ‘Misinformation kills’: The link between coronavirus conspiracies and climate denial   Grist / Rob Kim / Stringer / CSA Images  Scientific ...
    1 week ago
  • Rāhui day 4
    The kids did surprisingly well today – meltdown count was about 3, and mostly fairly short ones. (And a fourth while I was writing.) Game-wise I had a go at Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark. It’s a fairly standard RPG with turn-based combat and what they call a “mature storyline” (it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    1 week ago
  • Letter to a friend
    by Don Franks Hi David, Nice hearing from you, I’m glad to hear you’re getting by okay in these grim times. You asked how’s it going for us back here in New Zealand. You would have heard that the whole country is locked down and with breaks for exercise and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
    . . Lock Down: Day 3 – A photo essay with observations . March 28: First day of the first weekend in Lock Down. It feels like it’s been weeks since only Level 3 was declared last Tuesday, only four days ago. Woke up this morning to RNZ; coffee; toast, ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 22, 2020 through Sat, Mar 28, 2020 Articles Linked to on Facebook Sun, Mar 22, 2020 In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters by Chelsea Harvey, ...
    1 week ago

  • Work to repurpose PGF funds begins
    The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. “We need to be throwing everything we have at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • A million workers supported by Govt wage subsidy
    The Government’s wage subsidy to protect jobs and keep workers and businesses connected during the lockdown has now supported over a million New Zealanders, with $6.6 billion already paid out. “We’re supporting businesses to pay wages, and stay connected with their workers so that we are all in a better ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Government helps Pacific communities fight COVID
    The Government is stepping up efforts to help protect New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet has agreed that $17 million will be allocated to support a COVID-19 Pacific Response Package, which will: Support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand; Ramp up public health messaging ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark
    “Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.  “But right now, my priority is our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Statement from David Clark
    Last night as part of my preparation for the Epidemic Response Committee, I provided the Prime Minister with a complete picture of my activity outside my home during Alert Level 4.  That included the fact that on the first weekend of the Alert Level 4 lockdown I drove my family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • COVID-19 mental health support begins
    A range of support is being rolled out across New Zealand to help people look after their mental health during COVID-19 Health Minister David Clark said this morning. “COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives and many of us will be feeling some level of distress or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • New Zealanders in Peru to be assisted by Government charter flight
    The New Zealand Government has made arrangements to charter a flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. “Like many travellers around the world at the moment, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • COVID-19 Hospital Preparation Well Advanced
    Hospital preparations for COVID-19 are well advanced says Health Minister David Clark. “Hospitals across New Zealand are repurposing buildings and training staff to get ready for COVID-19 patients. This gives me confidence that we are well prepared for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospital level care,” said David ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
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    6 days ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days 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
    1 week ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week 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
    1 week ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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 week 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
    1 week 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
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