National’s long history of intimidation

Written By: - Date published: 9:27 am, May 16th, 2017 - 36 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, national, same old national - Tags: , , , , , ,

Nat MP Alfred Ngaro is copping it in the media for threatening to withdraw funding from people critical of National. Steven Joyce tried to explain that “It’s not the way the government operates…”. Oh but it is. It always has been. National has a long history of attacking, intimidating, and trying to silence critical voices and facts.

Key set the tone in early 2008 with his attempt to get a Herald journalist sacked. This led to the unprecedented response of Herald journalists writing a letter of protest over Key’s political interference.

Soon after Bill English disgraced himself, lashing out at those covering the story of his double-dipping:

Radio New Zealand’s political editor reports that Mr English rang journalists from TVNZ and TV3 on Wednesday night and abused them about their coverage of the issue.

More here. Duncan Garner wrote even more plainly on English’s bullying:

English shouldn’t get a cent

He needs to drop the bitter and nasty attacks on the media. His language in private is unbecoming and unprofessional. He’s on $276,000 and he has a job to do. Get on with it Bill, but do the right thing, and stop trying to muscle up behind the scenes – it’s getting you nowhere.

And of course Paula Bennett:

Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is not ruling out revealing private details of beneficiaries in the future. It follows the Human Rights Commission telling Bennett that she breached the privacy of Natasha Fuller when she disclosed details of the solo mother’s benefit to media.

Gerry Brownlee is an embarrassment of bullying riches, attacking Geonet scientists, fire fighters and Civil Defence in Christchurch, Kaikoura quake victims, an annoying CEO, and folk he just doesn’t like the look of (did I miss anyone?). But let’s not forget Nick Smith:

Fish and Game accuse Nick Smith of bullying

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is considering legal action against claims he bullied Fish and Game into ending its campaign for clean rivers and lakes.

The Northland by election brought us this gem:

Dusty road group claim bullying

Whangarei dairy farmer Alex Wright said Whangarei National MP Shane Reti rang her last week and told her the Pipiwai advocacy group should keep quiet for the next two and a half weeks – or risk getting nothing. …

And then:

Nats: Roads in doubt if Winston wins

John Key is warning voters there is no “free lunch” in the Northland by-election, as National claims major roads and free-trade deals will be in doubt if Winston Peters wins. … “If the people of Northland want the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway extension, which is vital to open up Northland to our biggest market . . . if we want that, there’s only one choice, and that’s to vote for me,” Osborne said. If he lost the by-election there was a “real risk” the road might not go ahead.

Schools have been particular targets of intimidation. The Nats have threatened boards with loss of funding over national standards, and warned school principals not to speak out against them.

This kind of nonsense is corrosive to democracy and it could happen to anyone:

Ex-govt lawyer’s ‘bury bad news’ claim

A former high-ranking Customs lawyer says he resigned from his job after allegedly being told to bury information that could embarrass the Government.

Curtis Gregorash said he was told by senior Customs executives to refuse Official Information Act and Privacy Act requests, which he believed was at the direction of former Customs Minister Maurice Williamson.

It comes at a time the Prime Minister’s office is under inquiry over the release of intelligence material through the OIA and accusations that former Justice Minister Judith Collins was manipulating OIA responses for political purposes.

That includes the Problem Gambling Foundation:

[Tau Henare:] but why should Govt pay a group to be critical of it? Pay them to help but don’t pay them to bag the hand that feeds them.

It includes those working on rape prevention:

Rape prevention group ‘told not to speak out’

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

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

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

Of course it includes academics and reporters, with attacks on the likes of Mike Joy and Jon Stevenson. It even includes the Human Rights Commission:

But Prime Minister John Key has hit back, saying the commission’s report is a poor piece of work that was submitted late, and it needed to do better if it was to continue to receive taxpayer funding.

And who could forget National’s finest hour?

Tea tape: Here come the police

Police are expected to descend on media organisations today in pursuit of material related to the “teapot tape”, while Prime Minister John Key digs his heels in and stands by allegedly defamatory statements about cameraman Bradley Ambrose.

Did I say finest hour? I forgot Dirty Politics. (And just in passing: High Court finds police raid on Nicky Hager was illegal.)

I could go on (and on and on an on). But enough wandering down memory lane. If you don’t want to believe a ranting leftie blogger, try reporter Dita De Boni – Government by intimidation, or have a read of 2013 New Zealander of The Year Dame Anne Salmond who wrote (in 2015):

Erosion of democratic rights

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

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

It is not just outspoken individuals who are at risk. Institutions that are the bulwarks of our democracy have been undermined.

Since the 1980s, the civil service, which is supposed to offer informed, impartial advice to politicians, has been brought under ministerial control, and instead of serving civil society now largely serves its political masters.

The freedom of the press has been compromised, for instance in the wake of the teapot tape scandal, when newspaper offices were raided in an effort to prevent the publication of those recordings, or when improper pressure is brought to bear on journalists and media outlets for partisan political purposes.

The independence of the judiciary and the rule of law have been eroded by the passage of a stream of acts that breach the Bill of Rights; by removing legal protections from citizens for economic or fiscal gain (protesters at sea, and family caregivers for the disabled, for instance); and by setting up politically appointed panels to bypass the Environment Court, for example.

Independent statutory bodies are brought to heel if they criticise the Government, by threatening or removing their funding, or by cancelling their powers (such as the current attempts to bring the work of the Human Rights Commission under ministerial control, and to cancel the positions of the Equal Opportunities Commissioner and the Race Relations Conciliator).

Radical extensions of the powers of the SIS and the GCSB to intrude into the private lives of citizens are justified by arguing a need to defend New Zealanders against terrorist attacks, although these powers have been abused for political gain. …

Oh and by the way, the Nats are still at it, as the recent nasty attacks on Jacinda Ardern show all too clearly.

In short, National has always used its power to threaten, intimidate and silence people who get in its way. Ngaro is just the latest example. He wasn’t an aberration, he’s completely typical. But the reaction against Nat bullying has been stronger this time. Interesting.

36 comments on “National’s long history of intimidation”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    When meeting your MP, always make sure to bring a recording device and pepper spray.

  2. Keith 2

    An excellent summary.

    But our economy is booming, even though we can’t fund things as our economy isn’t really booming, and voters don’t give this subject any thought. Hell, even the Heralds “Mikes Minute”, that bastion of critical analysis, has avoided the subject preferring to wank on about Andrew Little or something.

    However for a flip side of the intimidation and vendettas, I recall a few years back, an NGO out West Auckland got all grumpy about losing government contracts, threatening to take them/National to the High court. Now who will ever say if the following was connected but not long after that that NGO got a lucrative truancy contract they had no skills in and the silly old High Court thingy was never heard of again.

    National Party first, NZ last!

  3. mickysavage 3

    A tour de force r0b.

    I felt years of anger wash over me when I read it.

    • Enough is Enough 3.1

      Me too – Dating all the way back to the disgraceful treatment and intimidation of Erin Leigh

      • mickysavage 3.1.1

        Is she a charity that had her funding disallowed because she publicly criticised the Government?

        • Enough is Enough 3.1.1.1

          No Greg – She is someone who was bullied by the government.

  4. Skinny 4

    Poor ole Alfie just trying to gee up the downbeat party faithful crowd who were obviously suffering without the Teflon man. Reminded me of the Berlin bunker 1945.

  5. Anne 5

    And don’t forget the throat cutting gesture John Key made to Phil Goff in the Debating Chamber. That was intimidation of the nastiest kind.

    Just to recap: A mentally ill man tried to jump off the chamber balcony. The oppo. members directly below were in danger not John Key. What Phil Goff had to do with it is anybody’s guess but Key decided to blame him for the incident. He never apologised.

    Btw, what happened to Cathy Odgers?

  6. Skinny 6

    Poor ole Alfie just trying to gee up the downbeat party faithful crowd who were obviously suffering without the Teflon man. Reminded me of the Berlin bunker 1945.

    “Dusty road group claim bullying”

    “Whangarei dairy farmer Alex Wright said Whangarei National MP Shane Reti rang her last week and told her the Pipiwai advocacy group should keep quiet for the next two and a half weeks – or risk getting nothing. …”

    We still hear of Alex & her group suffering, after the by-election they were punished by that thug Reti for speaking out. Oh well her future will be looking brighter in a couple of weeks when Shane Jones goes into to railroad the woeful Reti in Whangarei.

    • Tamati Tautuhi 6.1

      Is this recent bullying as I have discussed this issue with Alex in the past ?

    • Skinny 6.2

      Speaking of Alex above just got this spam email to anybody who will listen. Poor women it is bad enough battling thug Reti and village idiot Simon Bridges, let alone also the national party shills in local government (Forlong is the CEO of Whangarei DC) ;

      Dear Mr Forlong,

      Thank you very much for your email with your answer and some clarification regarding the Whangarei District Council transportation expenditure.

      I neglected to ask you when will the blocked culverts on Pipiwai Road be repaired ?

      The increase in roading operations expenditure information you have provided is rather interesting.
      Did you know that the Council roading budget has been losing $12 million each year for the last 10 years and when you add the lost Financial Assistant Rate (FAR) when attracting this subsidy from the New Zealand Transport Agency for the Whangarei District Council roading, the roading budget is actually losing $18 million each year ? Why is this ?
      Therefore where has the lost $120 million from roading been spent ?
      Did you know that 10 years ago the Whangarei District Council was doing approximately 30 kilometres of new sealing extension on Council roads ? Now, the Council does less than 5 kilometres of new sealing extension each year. Why is this ?

      While there is 705 kilometres of unsealed roads in the Whangarei District it is a very poor outcome to know that less than 2 kilometres of road will be sealed in the 2016/2017 Annual Plan.
      Please can you note that there is only $637 million for new seal extensions over the next 3 years in the Whangarei District Council Long Term Plan 2015-2025.
      At an approximate cost of $300,000 to seal 1 kilometre of road this will mean less than 1 kilometre of new sealing in the Whangarei District Council each year for the next 3 years.
      This I believe is an appalling state of roading affairs for our unsealed roading upgrade in the Whangarei District.
      Will you and your General Managers be able to give this serious situation some consideration for improvement in the very near future ?

      In the meantime, it is really good the see the maintenance work being done on Wright Road this week and we look forward to all the named roads being graded and metalled.

      Thank you.

      Yours sincerely,
      Alex Wright.

      • Skinny 6.2.1

        “While there is 705 kilometres of unsealed roads in the Whangarei District it is a very poor outcome to know that less than 2 kilometres of road will be sealed in the 2016/2017 Annual Plan.”

        Well Alex the simple reason the neglect of you and others with over 700 km’s of broken dusty roads in the region is the village idiot Simon Bridges is wasting it all on RON’s like $500 million on a 4 lane, 22 km highway for Nationals trucking donators.

        Good news is after the Sept election that wasteful idea will be axed along with a lot of their unwanted roads of maddness.

        • Jenny Kirk 6.2.1.1

          Yup – that’s the reason, Skinny – Roads of National Significance – taking funds from the essential – but obviously not National-voting material or funders – local roading system which badly needs upgrading in the north.

          • tc 6.2.1.1.1

            It’s NZ wide with the plunder of all district council road road and transit NZ state highway funding.

            Combine that with ever heavier trucks, even when legal, and you have crumbling shoulders with cut up surfaces.

            Colleagues went to Rotorua a few weeks back and were appalled at the condition of the state highways which are centrally funded for one of our major tourist routes.

            Told them to get out more and wake up to the reality of 3 terms of plunder.

  7. Tamati Tautuhi 7

    Heard through the grapevine Key had influenced the Police and the SAS for his own purposes through ex law enforcement personnel, only gossip mind you and I can’t substantiate or verify this, just hearsay and pub talk.

    • tc 7.1

      Kim dotcom is possibly waiting on all the court affairs to be settled before he loads up and fires. Surveillance and data capture work both ways.

      • WILD KATIPO 7.1.1

        And Kim Dotcom was a CLASSIC case of how this National govt can be / are a house of thugs.

        What happened to Kim Dotcom was deplorable in so many ways.

        More evidence of the National party thug culture. And without reaming off screeds of past misdeeds and ill treatment of fellow New Zealanders , – suffice to say we need to get rid of National quick smart. And I’m not joking nor am I necessarily trying to be political about it. They just simply need to be gone .

        • tc 7.1.1.1

          They know they’re gone that’s one of the reasons key left and blinglish is making the most of the big chair he’d never get elected for.

          Note there’s no real efforts to hide the arrogance, plunder and destruction that will continue right up to the GE. Games up and they’re going to go out slinging shit all the way across to the opposition benches.

  8. What . A. Bunch . Of . Thugs.

    WOW!

    And these are the sort of scum that are in governance over our country ?!!?

    THESE are the sort of people we appeal to in order to ensure the common people’s best interests are being served ?!!? , – NO WONDER we have family’s sleeping in cars and garage’s !!!

    They couldn’t give a flying rats shit !!! They seriously do not – otherwise they would have done something after 9 bloody long years about our creeping third world poverty wages and housing.

    They are nothing but lying , bullying thugs. They deserve no respect. And here we have their garbage neo liberal belief in ‘ small government’. We can see here what they mean by that , – so long as they can slash public funding then abdicate responsibility barring facilitating large corporations ( preferably foreign owned ) . That’s their idea of small government.

    But woe betide any criticizing of their agenda or their pandering to the big boys and all of a sudden that cozy ‘small government ‘ notion goes out the back door and what we then see is a massive multi headed Lernaean Hydra bearing down on its latest political victims.

    Fuck them.

    And as for that English character, – its been him all along. He was the one behind John Key . The social stagnation and the funding cuts , the starving of our social services so he could bring about private institutions instead of publicly funded ones. Its been him all along.

    What a total piece of slimy weaselly shit.

    Like attracts like and its no wonder the core members of that party maintain such a thug culture , – anything less would be devoured.

    We’ve got to get rid of them this coming September. This country can no longer tolerate or accommodate that sort ilk in control . They are reprehensible. Well did Hugh Price get it so very , very right in the not so distant past …

    New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?
    http://www.newrightfight.co.nz/pageA.html

  9. Tricledrown 9

    Stephen Joyce Chief Bully.
    Using media connections to destroy Critics.
    Withdrawing funding of researchers who’s research shows govt policy not working or damaging to New Zealanders.
    Diabetes researcher’s complained about Nationals overturning of healthy food in schools while we are in the mists of an Diabetes epidemic.
    National exposed in Dirty Politics /Whaleoil Katherine Rich food industry funding a smear campaign to undermine public health for profits.
    While National get more funding from these Cronies.

  10. weka 10

    Such an important post r0b, thanks for all the work that went into that. Maybe we should update it once a month for the next 4 months 😈 Or have a running series of them.

    • Skinny 10.1

      I kinda only pop in now and again, you guys are in ya own click and don’t really mix with those that bother to add the odd comment, becomes boring talking to ones self. Don’t get that on facebook though.

  11. ropata 11

    Great work r0b, a damning litany.
    No wonder we are slipping down the “press freedom” rankings.

    Hang your heads in shame, National Party dirty politics apologists

    • Stuart Munro 11.1

      Better that we have some kind of judicial response that hangs their heads for them – you’ll wait a long time before these blackguards and scofflaws go straight voluntarily.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1

        This ^^^

        Edit: I wonder whether examination of the relationship between the Oaths and Declarations Act and the crime of perjury might bear fruit.

  12. SMILIN 12

    The rotten stench of Natzional political bullying

  13. mosa 13

    What about Judith Collins releasing personal information about civil servant Simon Pleasants to Cameron Slater.

    Slater then went on to attack Mr Pleasants on his web site and the man has had death threats.

    Mr Pleasants refused to let the privacy commissioner investigate.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/253088/call-for-collins-to-go-over-latest-gaffe

    Great post r0b

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