web analytics

Ombudspin

Written By: - Date published: 11:17 am, November 27th, 2011 - 22 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

I agree with Anthony Hubbard in today’s SST “Turning the spin around” – not yet on-line. The most outrageous piece of spin in the election was Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem’s justification for allowing the Treasury to refuse to release documents relating to asset sales as requested by TV1, the Greens and Labour. National’s arguments for its unpopular policy twisted and turned during the campaign, with Key  promising that 85-90% of New Zealanders would continue to own the assets. Yeah right. The Greens and TV1 rightly asked to know what advice lay behind this claim.

Hubbard writes:

The worst bit of spinning in the election campaign was arguably done by a bureaucrat, not a politician. Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem upheld the government’s decision t o suppress Treasury advice about the plane to sell down state assets. Wakem issued an astonishing 15-page document defending this indefensible decision.

Wakem faced the problem that her predecessor John Belgrave, had set a troubling precedent. Just before the 2005 election he ruled tha the government should issue official advice about the costs of Labour’s proposed student loans scheme.

Here was an exact parallel. Wakem weaved and spun for 86 paragraphs and decided that the two situations were different. Her action got the government off the hook and disgraceful decision but one that will be seen for what it was: a cop-out and a cave-in.

Wakem’s argument in dismissal of the public interest is here. 100448

The suspicion of course is that the politicians were just making it up as they went along. Treasury’s argument that the release of the information might prejusdice the price to be obtained for the assets has to be discounted – any specific provisions to restrict ownership will automatically affect their price.

Hubbard’s piece reminded me that in 1981 I wrote a script for Morning Comment about violence and the Springbok tour when Wakem managed Radio New Zealand. After I had refused to remove a direct and critical reference to Muldoon and substitute “some people” the script was not broadcast. I protested and met with Beverley Wakem and Geoffrey Whitehead in their office where they said my language was too vivid and my assertions exaggerated. I was shown my script – written in the margin were the words “politically sensitive.” That at least was the truth.

It seems to me that thirty years later nothing much has changed. It is a worry when those charged with safeguarding the public interest appear more concerned with safeguarding the political interest. New Zealand felt like Poodlestan under Muldoon; I don’t want us to go back there.

One thing is true though – just like the debate on the Springbok tour in 1981, the debate on asset sales in 2011 won’t go away.

22 comments on “Ombudspin ”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    We have seen the new Auditor General go all waffly when dealing with Government politicians in the last few years as well.
    Now its the Ombudsman
    Im wondering if they are ‘outsourcing’ these sort of enquiries to private entities or former bureaucrats ?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Seems to me that they’re outsourcing them to the National Party Research Unit. They come with about the same level of spin and lies that is characteristic of everything that National says.

  2. dazed & confused 3

    I think it is rich for any columnist of the SST, who doggedly used the very flawed and most unscientific HORIZON online polling to bloster months of viewpoints, to talk of the spin of others.

    The media are the public face of politics and where 99% of people go for their information. The spin from the media and the consequences of same is what interests me. I believe that had it not been for Guyon Espiner allowing Winston on the’minor parties’ debate and whoever it was who supplied him with the tea party transcript, I believe he never would have got over the threshold. That to me is Labour’s loss – nearly 7% of the protest vote of which 5% was probably Labours went to Winston.

    If you want to start on the subject of manipulation look to the fourth estate.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Political parties, especially those on the right, are what started the manipulation and spin. As the MSM became ever more corporatised the more that they were willing to carry that spin as truth without digging into it and to also carry their own spin.

      If you want fact and truth – don’t go to the MSM.

  3. marsman 4

    The Ombudman needs to be investigated re political bias.

  4. Adam 5

    I was wondering about that decision until I found out who the current Ombudsperson is. John Belgrave was a public servant of the old school. Wakem is an Ayn Rand acolyte who will make things up to justify her world view. As will John Key.

  5. Anne 6

    I would suggest it’s not only the Ombudsman who needs to be investigated. What about the police? Two actions have been taken (or rather not taken in one case) so as not to upset the outcome of the election? Both of them would have had a pivotal influence on that out-come!

  6. Tiger Mountain 7

    “Spinning, spinning, spinning, in this magic land”

    Cone of silence descends on asset sale squiggling about. Office of Ombudsman bought into potential disrepute. Russell Norman is not widely known for the strong language he used this week.

    Meanwhile the Search and Surveillence Bill says “go for it boys” to the state and various bureaucrats and cops to snoop on the rest of us without warrant.

    • Brokenback 7.1

      Yes , the raft of Fascist legislation rammed through under urgency in the past term will be extremely handy countering the only recourse left to those who oppose any further sales .

      Back to the streets? Civil disobedience ?

      For those of you who need reminding , here’s a little list of the last rounds spoils for the corporate thieves:
      http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/assets/saleshistory

      I dispute the disinformation re Petrocorp , Net return to NZ Govt was ~$350-400m , less than 10% of the proven oil reserves at point of sale.
      The greatest single act of thievery this country has ever known.

  7. hoom 8

    Haven’t ever read an Ombudsmans report before but this seems to be the key point:
     

    The information at issue is not about whether to pursue a policy of partial privatisation in respect of these particular assets.  The Government has already decided to pursue such a policy, provided it is returned at the election and subject to market conditions and the outcome of detailed scoping studies.  This information concerns preliminary thinking on the manner in which such a policy might be implemented. 

    Probably its a legitimate fact (& why they booked the profits of the sale already).
    Policy is not at debate here.
    There can be no public interest on ‘if the government should decide to take this policy route’ or not because its already decided government policy.


    Unpleasant & yet another example of the underhanded undemocratic way these guys do government.
    Key said he wouldn’t sell anything ‘this term’ & he didn’t.
    What he didn’t say (& probably cause for his dodgy smirk at the time) was that they would be actively setting up sales as government policy during the term rather than waiting till after the election.

    • Carol 8.1

      We need some big, anti-asset sales demos, and soon.

      • Anne 8.1.1

        It’s got to happen. Preferably organised by a collection of groups including the Labour, Green and NZ First parties. Could be a revealing exercise.

        • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 8.1.1.1

          I have an old NZPO phone box you could use.

          How about Labour also try a great leap backwards to tri-partitie style industrial relations from 1974 to match it?

          Oh, that right, Labour tried to campaign on that and got bitch-slapped for it.

      • Ianupnorth 8.1.2

        Don’t want to be cynical, it won’t happen. Everyone knew what Key et al planned today (or chose to block that from their brains) but they still got in.
         
        The reality is the message re. assets sales did not get across; the left leaning vote was fractured between Labour and Green, but also those that did a party vote for NZ First; with a greater collaborative agenda (a la Epsom) the likes of Waitakere, Epsom, etc could have easily had a different outcome and that would have really upset the apple cart.

      • bob 8.1.3

        You had your chance to protest Saturday – and didnt. (well not enough of you anyway).

        He has a mandate. They are going to be sold. Awesome result.

        • Richard Down South 8.1.3.1

          Yeah i can see Telecom going ‘Hey, lets sell our cellphone network, itll pay our small debts’… that’d be a BRILLIANT business decision… not…

          Why would a country do the same?

  8. In Vino Veritas 9

    “Labour’s proposed student loans scheme. Here was an exact parallel”.

    Yes, and exact parallel.Apart from the exception that the information requested included “documents relating to asset sales”, not just regarding advice given (or not by Treasury) and those documents are highly likely to be commercially sensitive.

    Documents that if released (and given Goff’s history would have been) could impinge on the sale price of the assets in question.

    So yes Anthony Hubbard, that would be an exact parallel with student loans.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago