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More on free speech in National

Written By: - Date published: 1:08 pm, October 15th, 2007 - 51 comments
Categories: national - Tags:

Someone just sent me this. It’s an editorial from the Ashburton Guardian on Brian Connell’s firing resignation.

Particularly over matters of Electoral Finance the Nats have sought to position themselves as “defenders of free speech”. Perhaps more accurately: “free speech as long as it’s Brethren speech”. This editorial suggests that the protections the Nats would extend to the extreme religious right might not reach as far as some of their own MPs.

[Brian Connell] didn’t like the party line, spoke out and was tossed out. While Parliament’s debating chamber might frequently become like an out of control classroom, its members like ill disciplined students, the Connell suspension did not follow the school line.

Brian Connell had a falling out with then party leader Don Brash. He did not abide by the classroom rules and he was suspended. His suspension was infinite. It didn’t matter that the teacher changed & Brash became Key, it didn’t matter that the origins of the original falling out were blurred by time, suspension subtly became expulsion.

51 comments on “More on free speech in National”

  1. I used to think you guys were paranoid about the EB. Now I know you are! WTF does the Ashburton Guradian editorial have to do with the EB? Are the Exclsive Brethren even mentioned in it? No, and no! Get over it guys – if Labour can’t win the next election with $33b in surpluses over four years, and the EFB enacted, you’re backing the wrong horse. Then again, that’s what I thought about the All Blacks at the RWC – a sure bet……

  2. all_your_base 2

    Not paranoid Inventory2. Just keen that our democratic elections aren’t overrun with buckets of cash from an extreme right wing religious cult.

    My point is that National supports free speech only when it suits them. Not in relation to political activism like our petition, and not even within their own ranks when an MP disagrees.

  3. Seamonkey Madness 3

    When your party is trying to present a united front and you have one of your MPs slagging anything and everything off, of course you are going to tell him where to leap.

    And with your talk about the EB, I think it’s time to invest in some Tin Foil Milliner Co shares.

  4. Robinsod 4

    SM – Way-to-go with the tinfoil hat reference. I don’t like to boast but I’m pretty sure I introduced that to the kiwiblog discourse quite some time ago. Get some new material bro.

  5. Seamonkey Madness 5

    Oh dear God, now you’re laying claim to the Tinfoil Hat Brigade reference.

    Did you also invent tinfoil itself? What about hats? Obviously there were none around until you were born of course.

    Play the ball and not the man.

    “free speech as long as it’s Brethren speech”
    This is just laughable!! Why would anyone go around protecting just one group’s right to free speech?

    Maybe this example from Labour’s front bench? Free speech for all (except those we don’t like!):
    Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Will the Minister ensure that the bill is amended so that the Catholic Church’s campaign can proceed, given the facts that thanks to Working for Families this Government has cut child poverty by two-thirds and the National Party opposed the Working for Families package?
    Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I will ensure that that takes place, because of course this is the kind of good news that the National Party does not like but that ought to be told right across New Zealand.

    And my captcha words were “rambling” and “site”. HOW IRONIC!

  6. Robinsod 6

    Seamonkey – when playing the man is so easy I just gotta do it. I’d quote some shit from hansard outta context right back at you but I can’t be arsed. Just a question, have you actually read the Hollow Men? I mean I know it’s a bit dull for you righties to keep being asked this but really when you harp on the same shit day in day out I can’t be fucked changing my answer just for show. Oh and in response to your odd post on the other thread: “prima facie” only means there’s enough evidence for the police to consider a charge – it translates into “at first appearance” as in “at first appearance it seemed Seamonkey had a point but upon investigation he was talking out his arse” as the term (and the example) implies, the bar for prima facie is set quite low.

  7. Seamonkey Madness 7

    So are you saying that my quote above is out of context? So Maharey/Labour are free to include what group is on the naughty or nice list; who gets a present and who gets a lump of coal.
    That quote is entirely in context Mr Sod. I would think I could make it sound even worse for Maharey if I were to quote the entire exchange.

    The answer for my ownership of the Hollow Men is a ‘noe’. In some cases I wish I could read it, but that would mean that I would some part be handing my hard-earned over to Mr. Hagar. An idea that I find nauseating, considering the emails themselves are not his. Should Don Brash (or the person who stole them) not be getting a cut? =)

    By your logic (and by extension the Police’s logic for the Pledge Card rort), “at first appearance” I seem to be talking out my arse, but upon further investigation I am not?
    Oh I do enjoy a good interweb debate – mano a mano, retard a retard.

  8. Robinsod 8

    Um in context it was a joke. Y’know like your posting.

    Good to see you’re staying on message with the “stolen emails” argument – in the trade that’s called “misdirection” and only suckers fall for it. But if you want to get onto the topic of stolen emails you might want to ask why National took so long to lay a complaint and why they have not be very cooperative with the police. Oh no that’s right we’re talking about the pledge card now, but no charges were ever laid then, Labour paid it back and National used it’s own leader’s fund inappropriately (and still is by the looks of who’s been threatening the standard), oh did I say pledgecard?? I meant the EFB – yeah that’s right the EFB, quick look over there!!!

    Bro, the thing with misdirection is it only gets you so far – I’m starting to get the feeling the audience is starting to catch up with your lot and they don’t have any new ideas.

    Oh and you can get the hollow men out from the library if you’re so worried about your moral centre.

  9. Seamonkey – the Hollow Men was a great read – if you have a problem with insomnia. As I said a couple of days ago, I knew Hager at high school (Palmerston North Boys’ High), and he was as boring as batshit then – very serious and intense. Obviously the English teachers at PNBHS didn’t have much success with his literary style, although he did take creative writing to new heights – in rather the same manner as creative accounting!

  10. all_your_base 10

    Seamonkey you’re missing my point. I have no problem with the participation of even a nasty group like the Exclusive Brethren – so long as their participation is above board – ‘free speech within the rules’ I guess you might call it. The rules are there not to prevent free speech, but to protect democracy.

    If the Brethren campaign for the Nats their spending should be attributed to the Nats.

    Re the emails, Don certainly got what was coming his way. He lied to the public and suffered the consequences. Get a library card. Read the book.

  11. Sam Dixon 11

    I love how the righties have to say ‘oh the Hollow Men, so boring’ its their only defence, its not like they can knock down the evidence it presents, which is all primary sources – emails straight from Digger Don and his mates.

    Inv2, SM – if a book is too much for your attention span, I see the play is getting a second season in November (all showings sold out in the first season) – so maybe you could go to that? its only 2 hours. I

    ts got plenty of jokes to take the pressure off your brains from all the serious talk. Funny thing is, the ‘jokes’ are real quotes that Don etc wrote in all seriousness but when the actors say them the audience can’t help but laugh.

  12. Seamonkey Madness 12

    Hey “bro”,

    Thanks for the library tip. I will endeavour to get it out. 🙂

    Can you answer me this: why did Labour pay the money back if they did no wrong in the first place? And why did the Government pass retrospective validation, at the same time null and voiding a certain lawsuit against them?

    You’re getting better R’sod. Playing the ball much more than the man that time. You should be commended.

  13. Robinsod 13

    Nah bro – I play the man’s spin (it’s just with you lot its’ hard to tell where the spin stops and the man begins). I’m assuming they paid it back ‘cos the “pay it back” campaign National ran so hard (which was based on US attack campaign strategies that ironically came from imported smear specialists paid out of National’s leaders fund) got them scared. If it’d been me I would’ve told the Nats to go fuck themselves and spent a bit more time bashing back. But then I’m not a cowardly leftie and anyway it look’s like National’s imported formula is starting to fail them now.

  14. Shane 14

    If he upset anyone or made a mistake, Brian Connel deserved a second chance. National’s treatment of Brian Connel is an example of bad employers.
    This is a prelude to what National will let bad employers do to those that speak out or don’t tow the company line.
    Watch unemployment go up and pay go down if the National Party get into power.

  15. burt 15


    Yeah right. Did you read the Sunday Star Times yesterday. On the front page (bottom left) was an article about Duvet Days. The quote the management of an IT company. You reckon the idea of flexible work environments will ever catch on with the Unions ?

  16. Robinsod 16

    Burt – Flexible work hours was driven by unions and National voted against it. Go figure.

  17. Tane 17

    Burt, you obviously have no idea. Unions are all for flexibility – that’s why they’re supporting flexible working hours legislation. What they oppose is the one-way ‘flexibility’ of the right, which amounts to nothing more than the flexibility for employers to hire and fire staff as they see fit.

    With IT companies you’ve got a situation where there’s a desperate skilled labour shortage and bargaining power is a little more even. For the vast majority of workers this is not the case.

  18. Nick C 18

    Shane, you are typical of a unionist, always complaining about employers, to the point where it drives them oversea’s. Brian Connel has become a liability to the national party, why as employers should they keep him on? Typical socialist tho, very good at demanding more money and complaining, less able to acctually create wealth by starting a bussiness.

  19. burt 19


    Unions are all for flexibility

    I guess that why Unions want one collective agreement that has the same conditions for all workers.

    Just imagine the union implementation of Duvet days…

  20. burt 20


    You said over on Kiwiblog that you would happily discuss Health and Education with me. Perhaps you could do a post over here so we can get some debate going about it. We can wrap the union/non union concepts into that debate as well. I’m keen.

  21. Robinsod 21

    Burt – you’re wrong. You’ve asked this shit before and you don’t listen to the answers. Fuck off and take your Ritalin.

  22. burt 22

    Too much truth for you Robinsod?

    And you never did answer my question about why it would be wrong for National to have more private investment in schools just like Labour have done with Integrated schools.

    HIB’s in Upper Hutt has astounding results, St. Marks has astounding results (just 2 examples – there are lots more). All you seem to be saying is that if National want to lift the standard in education then that is a bad thing. Do you actually care about the quality of education or is it only about having Labour in Govt and the rest can go to hell ?

  23. Tane 23

    God you’re a bore burt.

    1) Collective agreements set minimum standards, they don’t restrict workers and management from coming to mutually beneficial arrangements. In fact, since collective bargaining helps even up the inherent imbalance of power in the employment relationship they actually provide the only way for most workers to meaningfully negotiate better conditions (like duvet days) with their employers.

    2) Regarding health and education, yeah we’ll put a post up some time and we’ll argue it. This isn’t that post. You can wait for that post to go up, or you can start your own blog. It’s up to you really.

  24. Robinsod 24

    No Burt – too much dogged obtuse Burt for me. But ok I’ll bite. Integrated schools are not privatised schools they are generally run along a non-secular line and on a not-for-profit basis. They are certainly not a model for privatisation as they often run at a loss (and are kept running income sources such as bequests etc). National has espoused schools for profit and there is a big difference between a school run by a community stakeholder with long historic ties to that community (or a significant religious or cultural sector thereof) and a school run by a business with shareholders to please. Do you get that Burt?

  25. Shane – how naïve are you?

  26. Nih 26

    Are we still on that privatising schools argument? I’m not even going to bother seeing who is on what side, I’ll just say my piece.

    1. I spent all of my youth in private schooling. It was great.
    2. Making public schools private will not make them as good as existing private schools.
    3. Keeping public schools public but making them more accountable and worth attending will be more effective. It’s not the style of schooling that’s the problem, it’s the quality.

  27. amk 27

    Nih, i completely agree. we need to lift the quality of our education. spend more on high-calibre teaching staff before any other increased spending

  28. Nih 28

    Everyone pause for a Respect Knuckles moment.

  29. Robinsod 29

    The problem we have at the moment is that even a big increase in wages and resourcing is not going to help twenty years of training shortages straight away and so we may just end up with better paid, better resourced teachers in front of forty child classrooms. Hold on, isn’t this tread about National suppressing dissent? I just wish they’d do it the old muldoon way so instead of this lawyers and doublespeak stuff. At least you had a clear idea of what they were up to then.

  30. burt 30


    Yes I get that Robinsod – you know “F” all about Integrated schools and are making shit up about normally running at a loss. The biggest difference that escaped your analysis is that Integrated schools can charge additional fees to manipulate the current Govt funding of 1 teacher per 30 students. Yes 1-30 – That’s fixing health and education Labour style.

    I’m sure Tane will post about Health & Education shortly – it’s an issue that is important to all of NZ irrespective of political ideology. On that thread I’ll expand on what I have said further.

  31. Nih 31

    Teacher’s College is only three years. If we get started now, it could well be worth it. Not every teacher has to be a genius either, you only need a handful of good teachers per school with the rest being at least adequately taught how to show empathy and support. It comes back to efficient organisation and providing incentives to stay in the job and relocate as required. I’d certainly enjoy teaching in a rural school if the pay was up to it.

    Paying teachers more and having higher standards would be an excellent start. Ensuring their safety is the other big thing that can be done right away. I’m not talking security guards, simply not ignoring teachers would be a good plan.

    Oh and more opportunities for particularly gifted children and an actual effort to identify them.

  32. Robinsod 32

    Burt – I went to an “integrated school” and it wasn’t making a profit. But that was not my main point – which was (now, have you taken your Ritalin?) that they are not profit geared. That’s not the point of them. They’re about teaching particular values on top of the regular curriculum. If you try to turn public schools private you’re not going to add that culture, you’re going to create businesses in which education itself is seen as an expense to be controlled.

  33. “Collective agreements set minimum standards”

    That’s some pretty high minimum standards.

  34. Sam Dixon 34

    Ok, if we are on education, and following what R’sod said, its interesting how the neoliberal attitude, sell our capital and live on the proceeds, ‘burn the future’ if you will, is still coming back to bite us in so many ways…

    insuffiecent infrastructure investment through the 1980s and 1990s – roads, rail, electricity – all a result of moving strategic assets to a for-profit model.

    an aging and insufficent skilled workforce in all kinds of areas – teachers, dental nurses (National closed their school ten years ago), even electricity linesmen (there were enough for a while, the privitised power cos didn’t want to take on the cost of educating replacements themselves), etc

    tories say we can’t blame the 1990s policies after 8 years of responsible government but that ignores the big lead times needed to make up for all that ‘live for the moment’ government in the 1990s… it takes years just to establish the added training capacity for these skilled professions, and then years to train people up, and you’ve got ten years to make up for.

  35. Nih 35

    I agree with Robinsod, you can’t expect to give existing schools a directive to turn a profit. Market forces will take place.

    One or two schools will flourish. Most schools will fail to stay open unless they take typical measures and lower costs dramatically.

    Schools aren’t something I want to expose to the frivolities of chance and public whim. All schools should be brought up to the best standard they can be, ending this insane rush to get into one or two particular schools every year.

  36. Nih 36

    I’ve mentioned before that my partner works for the Waitemata DHB. Specifically she works in the school dental system.

    I can guarantee you that they’re well short of dental therapists and what they have is not only stretched thin, but in some cases therapists who shouldn’t be practising have been retained.

    There are no more therapists on the way. They can’t source them from the private sector because the pay is abysmal. Occasionally kids have been referred to actual private dentists, but the results have been even worse there because there are few quality controls in place.

    Thanks, National.

  37. burt 37


    They’re about teaching particular values on top of the regular curriculum. If you try to turn public schools private you’re not going to add that culture

    This is a valid point. Tane has requested we don’t go on about this on this thread but I do want to continue this discussion.

    My issue will be teacher/student ratio every time. If it takes additional state funding to bring the teacher/student ratio back to a level that works OR if it takes private investment to do the same – I don’t actually give a shit which way is tried as long as one of them is tried. I’m simply not convinced that health and education are being fixed. Cost increases in education can be addressed many ways… another point for later.

    Nih – Excellent points.

  38. Benodic 38

    That’s some pretty high minimum standards.

    See, that’s where you and I differ. I don’t see high wages as a problem – you obviously do. But this isn’t a thread about the merits of unionism, so I’ll leave it there.

  39. burt 39


    There are no more therapists on the way. They can’t source them from the private sector because the pay is abysmal. Occasionally kids have been referred to actual private dentists, but the results have been even worse there because there are few quality controls in place.

    Thanks, National.

    “There are no more on the way…” Labour Govt 8 years – who’s to blame?

    “They can’t source them from the private sector because the pay is abysmal….” Labour Govt 8 years – who’s to blame?

    “but the results have been even worse there because there are few quality controls in place….” Labour Govt 8 years – who’s to blame?

    Nih, come on, all of these things can be addressed in 8 years, if you seriously believe they can’t then how the hell do you support a Govt on a 3 year term that claims it will ‘Fix something’ if you don’t expect them to achieve it in 8.

  40. burt 40


    Sorry to go on. But what is the point in discussing/denigrating policies at all if something as simple as a significant wage increase for teachers is not expected after 8 years AND when the Govt has been running massive surpluses.

  41. Tane 41


    First of all I agree teachers should be paid more. If it were up to me teachers would get a pay jolt like the nurses did a few years back, but then I guess political reality is the killer.

    I hate to sound all ‘labour good national bad’ as you so frequently put it, but the fact is the first people to complain about any major increases to teachers’ pay would be the National Party. Today they were complaining that public servants are paid too much. And just a few weeks ago they were against nurses getting even a 4% per annum pay rise.

    So any government is going to have to contend with that. If Labour had some balls I’m sure they could do it – the public want teachers to be paid more – but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. As usual, it’ll be up to the teachers themselves to work through their unions and get the public onside to push the government of the day into giving them a decent pay rise. There’s simply no other way.

  42. burt 42


    From that link.

    Otago MP Jacqui Dean said she was concerned that the Government’s recent pay increase for nurses working in the public sector would only make life more difficult for those in the aged care sector.

    She is working on behalf of issues in her electorate, concerned about a lack of funding increases in a sector competing for the same resources.

    You calling that bad is certainly “Labour Good – National Bad”. Not increasing funding to organisations competing for the same resources is simply robbing resources from one to supply another.

    Yes I agree if Labour had balls it would have put quality standards and market salaries in places for dental therapists, and it would address school and all ‘nursing’ funding. It would cost a bit, but there is a big surplus and an unfulfilled 8 year old promise.

  43. Tane 43

    Burt, my god, we almost agree on something. This thread has obviously gone too far.

  44. all_your_base 44

    Seamonkey, I never claimed that the Labour Party didn’t do wrong. The Auditor General ruled against them and they paid back the cash. It’s got to be said that he also ruled against most of the other parties for stuff they’d all been doing for the last few elections – their overspending often wasn’t trivial but it was understandable. The AG’s the ref though, he made his decision, and parties had to live with it. Fair enough.

    I put the EB stuff in quite a different category. It was a first for NZ in several respects.

    Never before had a third party aimed to spend that much ($1.5m or so – more than most other parties) in such close negotiation with both a political party and the Chief Electoral Officer.

    Never before had such spending been kept so secret – the EB used false names on their publications and did their best to remain anonymous right up until they were ‘outed’.

    And never before had parliamentarians, as far as we know, worked so hard to keep their relationships with a third party so secret – going as far as to lie to the public repeatedly, point blank, about what they knew.

    I don’t think anything I’ve said above is really in dispute. The argument really seems to come when people try to decide what the implications are with regard to proposed changes for our electoral funding rules. At that stage party politics seems often to cloud the issue.

    For my part, I support a range of interconnected measures: more transparency (the public deserves to know where the money’s coming from), stricter rules regarding attribution of spending (the system shouldn’t be able to be swamped by third parties), better definitions of electoral advertising (parties should be clear of the rules and limits) and probably some form of state funding (for democracy to work messages need to get out somehow).

  45. burt 45


    I put the overspending in quite a different category, It was a first for NZ in several respects.

    Never before had a political party spend that much ($620K or so – more than most other parties)

    Never before had such spending been kept so secret – the Labour party denied it, then pointed to all other parties as well who denied it. It took months before the AG delivered what Labour called a dubious call.

    Never before had parliamentarians, as far as we know, worked so hard to keep their overspending under wraps by introducing retrospective validation rather than a commission of inquiry.

    Never before has a civil court case between a PM and a private citisen been invalidated by retrospective legislation.

    Any your last paragraph and the EFB do seem to be at odds with each other.

  46. Nih 46

    Nih, come on, all of these things can be addressed in 8 years, if you seriously believe they can’t then how the hell do you support a Govt on a 3 year term that claims it will ‘Fix something’ if you don’t expect them to achieve it in 8.

    The time period for everything you mentioned to turn around is more than 10 years. We’re talking surgical training here. You want your therapists to have worked in the industry. The volume of patients they see is well above what a new therapist should be exposed to.

    The problem I see is I blamed National and you came up with ‘proof’ for the opposite as a sort of reflex. National closed the dental therapy school and negotiated the contracts under which everyone working in the school dental therapy system is now struggling.

    I just realised I’ve been being careful about what I say because it’s my girlfriend’s employer, but in fact it’s our government she’s working for. No more of that. They should be accountable.

    The operating policies set for them aren’t decided upon by the top level of government, they’re set by the management body who are pretty far removed. They strike me as being run like a business, not a health service. While National was in government the therapists and assistants formed a union and negotiated for everyone at once since individuals were being absolutely screwed. This helped a little, but she has had to fight tooth and nail just to get what was laid out in her contract. The biggest obstacle in this system has been middle management. The team leaders are great, but above them it’s nothing but bullshit and people acting like public money is their own. I believe there have even been demands in the past that the system somehow turn a profit. In a budgeted system with no incoming external cash? Fucking ridiculous.

    The reason I mention this is it still feels like National is in charge in those regards. I’m not pleased with the situation because it hasn’t been attended to, but it wouldn’t be any different under a National government. Everything there is already running as they’d have it.

    Oh, no, wait. There’d be more referrals to external dentists. The same dentists who in the past have continually charged parents for already-paid-for services, effectively double-dipping. The same dentists whose work usually has to be fixed the following year. The same dentists who forget to prescribe anti-biotics which would alleviate most of the long term pain of dental work. Since I’ve already told you that some of the therapists suck, you can only imagine how bad the dentists they’re ridiculing are.

    That’s privatisation of health for you. There isn’t such a thing as competition in an industry that the public is largely uneducated in. They can’t shop around for the best dentist. The situation is bad because where the dental industry isn’t private, it acts like it is anyway. Once again Labour haven’t corrected it, but National definitely won’t.

    Incidentally, if any of you ever need to find a good dentist, just ask.

  47. natural party of government 47

    Dear Chaps.

    Like your blog. Two suggestions.

    1. Can you make your standard logo clickable so that it sends you to home or index?

    2. Frequent mentions of DPF, bless his round little cheeks (I mean on his face), are probably not a good idea. It will simply inflate him (his ego) more.

    The Natural Party of Government

  48. Hey guys – are you going to post about the arrests yesterday of “paramilitary” types? I realise that this thread is about something else, and having made accusations of threadjacking elsewhere, didn’t want to be a hypocrite! Does it merit its own thread?

  49. Tane 49

    natural party: thanks for the props. If you look at the tab on the top right of the page that says ‘blog’ you can click that and it’ll take you back home. Having said that, you’re not the first person who’s had this problem so it may be something to consider.

    IV2: We may write something or may not. At this stage I don’t know if there are enough facts available to make any useful commentary. But hey, one of us might decide to do something at some stage. We don’t actually plan our posts in any great detail – it’s kind of first in, first served.

  50. ahod 50

    “When your party is trying to present a united front and you have one of your MPs slagging anything and everything off, of course you are going to tell him where to leap.”

    But at what cost, an MP who has always put his constituents above his party is leaving because him speaking out against the Nats taking money from the EB meant him giving up any power he had. The Nats are achieving unity by merely suffocating the constituency MP’s. That’s not good.

  51. all_your_base 51

    Hi natural party of government. Yes, I like the idea of a clickable logo. Will sort it out as soon as I have a chance. Cheers.

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