One law for all?

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, August 5th, 2009 - 46 comments
Categories: corruption, john key, law and "order", national, richard worth - Tags:

Are you?

  1. a disgraced former minister who resigned from Parliament in shame?
  2. a National MP who rents from a National minister (Judith Collins or Anne Tolley for example), claiming that expense back from the taxpayer while the minister simultaneously rents another place, again on the taxpayer’s tab?
  3. a private citizen who dares to publicly oppose a government policy?

If you answered 1 or 2, your privacy will be cited as a reason for the Government to refuse to answer questions about you.

If you answered 3, the Government will release your personal information without permission from you or even request from the media , information that is held in confidence by a ministry, which never should have released such information to the minister in the first place.

Ostensibly, that will be to get ‘all the facts on the table’ (note – that concern doesn’t apply to National MPs and ministers) but in reality it will be an attempt to bully you into silence.

Welcome to life under the Tories.

46 comments on “One law for all?”

  1. BLiP 1

    Welcome to the new standards promised by John Key.

    Thanks National Inc.

  2. Gordon Shumway 2

    Eddie – this sort of post is a waste of time. Why not say:

    “Are you a criminal fraudster who exploits the most vulnerable members of society for personal gain? If so, the Labour party will protect you including a whitewash investigation and helpful lines in the media. Welcome to life under Labour.”

    You are so one-eyed on this sort of stuff. It makes your constant carping at the mainsteam media for their bias look a bit deranged.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      So, just checking, you do think it’s unacceptable that the Government has done the things in the post and you want to add other bad things to that list?

      • Gordon Shumway 2.1.1

        No. I think it’s less than ideal. I’m not yet convinced anyone has acted illegally or unethically.

        But calling this situation an example of “life under the Tories”, when the last PM, amongst other things, missed fraud carried out by her minister then wasted taxpayer’s money trying to whitewash it, is a joke.

        My only point is that Eddie works up to rant-speed for anything that National does, while snuggling behind the blindfold for anything that Labour does. While you always expect commentators to have some sort of bias, Eddie’s is so extreme that the main reason for popping in here now is to have a bit of a laugh (see the Field posts recently). Eddie on one hand blasts mainstream media for a perceived conservative bias, then demonstrates the most extreme and unthinking one-eyedness you could possibly imagine at a site intended (I think) to encourage rational discussion and debate.

        For what it’s worth, I believe (1) MPs probably aren’t paid well enough to attract decent people for short periods of 6-9 years (as opposed to career politicians who do well out of pensions etc over 15+ years service), (2) English looks greedy, (3) English looks like he’s acted within the law, (4) English looks like he’s acted in a way that gives him a financial benefit at the expense of the taxpayer, (5) the system needs an overhaul and increased transparency, but let’s not pretend that ONLY the most recent Govt MPs have done anything wrong.

        It you’re going to get wound up over this, you also need to be balanced and accept that this sort of “structuring your affairs” behaviour includes the Greens and their pension fund housing arrangements.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    Are you:

    1. An anonymous blog poster who repeats shameless lies, spin, and revising history on behalf of the Labour Party?
    2. A person who goes onto blogs and attacks politicians from National while patently ignoring that the National politicians are doing exactly what the previous Labour government MPs did?
    3. posting under the pseudonyms Eddie or r0b?

    If you are either 1, 2 or 3, then you win today’s hypocrisy awards.

    • The Voice of Reason 3.1

      Kewl, Tim. I presume there’ll be a public ceremony and Farrar, as the current holder of the hypocrisy award, will be handing it over.

      Just had a look at his apology on Kiwiblog and while I’m not sure if ‘liar’ is appropriate, incompetent certainly is. Fancy mistaking a precis of a comment for an actual quote. Quite an error for a media professional to make, don’t you reckon?

    • BLiP 3.2

      So, apart from your attacks on the messengers, what’s your response to how life is now that National Inc have had nine months to put in place the new standards that were promised?

      We have a Prime Minster that lies, we have a Minister of Social Development that has used the powers of the state to crush dissent from clients of her department, we have a Minister of Education that doesn’t understand the difference between metaphor and literal, we have a Minister of Police that wants to sell jails so prisoners can be kept in containers, we have an Minister of Internal Affairs sacked for philandering, a Minister of Finance using legal technicalites to rort the public purse for personal gain . . .

      And you’re pissing your pants about a couple of bloggers you disagree with.

      Hahaha – the captcha sums up your raison d’être: MISLEADING.

      • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1

        “a Minister of Social Development that has used the powers of the state to crush dissent from clients of her department”

        When did this happen? Wonderful emotive language, BLiP, but not what happened was it?!

        • BLiP 3.2.1.1

          Basher Bennett, the Minister of Social Development, illegally accessed private information to stir up another round of beneficiary bashing, this time against two women who dared question government policy.

          The criticism from the two women centered on changes to the Training Incentive Allowance. Bennett, however, felt that such dissent was unacceptable and unliterally released the income details of the two women who were then given a good kicking by the talk-back filth and blog beaters. No consideration was given to the personal circumstances of the women concerned and nor was important supplementary information (eg, DBPers can’t get a student loan, WWF and Disabilty Allowance and Accommodation Supplements top ups in equivalent situations for the employed) provided. And, it may well transpire, that the income details for one of the women subject to this public battering, were incorrect. The bullying by National Inc continues; John Key, just yesterday and rather than addressing the issue, was attempting to silence another sole parent. Where will it end?

          Here’s a considered post about the impact Basher Bennett’s piece of petty bullying has.

          Such are the standards National Inc have put in place.

          • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1.1.1

            BLiP – you won’t even describe what she did accurately, so it’s a waste of time trying to engage with you.

            I say again, when did she “use the powers of the state to crush dissent”?

            Two people complained that they were not receiving enough state assistance. The Minister released details of exactly how much state assistance they were receiving (she did not release details of their privately-earned income). Some people reckon that information is “private” and others reckon it’s totally relevant to the question of whether or not the complainants were indeed receiving “enough”.

            The complainants can continue to complain. Their dissent was not censored, deleted or ignored. If people think less of the merits of the complainants’ arguments, then that’s on the merits of the situation, surely?

            At worst, she “used state powers to put up a relevant counter-argument”.

            Now the Minister’s actions may have been illegal (unlikely), naiive (yes), foolish (perhaps), but to call that action “crushing dissent” is hyperbolic bullsh1t.

            You know damned well that HC carried out clandestine character assasinations of a number of people who dared to cross her government. To talk about “standards that National has put in place” is comedy gold.

            It’ll be a long hard time in opposition if every Govt action is interpreted in this skewed and non-sensical way.

            • BLiP 3.2.1.1.1.1

              I’ll spell it out for you: Rather than debate or defend the reasoning behind the trashing of the TIA, Basher Bennett used her position as a Minister of the Crown to release illegally-accessed, government held, legally protected information to foment public odium against two people in receipt of the DPB to silence their dissent. There was no reference to why the women were receiving the level of income and there was no mention of the fact that existing government top ups are available for people in the same situation. The result was a public savaging by the great mass of ignorant souls that populate talk back.

              Unless being deliberatley set up as a lump of meat and thrown to the dogs of talk back is encouraging debate?

              Seeking to minimse Basher Bennett’s vilification of the weak by saying “they did it too” or that Basher’s action was “foolish not intentional” is a misdirection.

              What is your source that that Aunty Helen used legally protected information – are you attempting a further smear on her character?

              National Inc began the silencing of dissent when getting Dr Salinger sacked and today is carrying on with John Key attacking another sole mother dissenting from climate policy. That’s three acts of personal attack. Can you see the pattern?

              If not, then you’d better make sure your house is in order before going public should you ever happen to disagree with the government. As far as National Inc is concerned, any information it can glean from what ever source is fair game. Look out.

            • BLiP 3.2.1.1.1.2

              To talk about “standards that National Inc has put in place’ is comedy gold.

              Sure is – but its black comedy. When John Key promised he was going to bring new standrds to the behaviour of his politicians no one but him and his crew realised it was going to mean new lower standards.

            • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1.1.1.3

              Each time you restate your position, you ramp up the hyperbole to greater and greater heights. There was no “crushing dissent” and it’s moronic to keep claiming that there was.

              If someone says “I am not getting enough from the Government”, is it, or is it not, useful to understand exactly how much that person IS getting from the Government?

              Any reasonable person accepts that the information released by the Minister WAS relevant to the issue at hand and would usefully contribute to the debate. There’s a question around whether of not releasing the info in this way was lawful – I gather a complaint’s been made to the Privacy Commissioner so we’ll find out about that in due course.

              But by all means carry on frothing at the mouth over it, if you like.

            • BLiP 3.2.1.1.1.4

              . . any reasonable person . .

              Is that Right Troll talk for “everyone that agrees with me”?

              The information Basher bennett released was incomplete – she chose not to mention the number and ages of the children, their illnesses and the costs involved in travelling to and from treatment, the cost of the treatment itself, the rent paid, the fact that one of the women herself has disability costs . . .

              Also deliberately omitted was the fact that people in the same circumstances could top up their incomes via Government assistance.

              Is that information not relevant to the debate? Would releasing all that information as well as just the income details have tempered the talk back bile? Could the debate have been handled in a manner more fitting a Minister of the Crown? Will other beneficiaries feeling aggrieved now be willing to publically voice their criticism? The next time I see the Business Roundtable arguing against tax legislation an we expect the IRD to release its returns so as to round out the debate?

            • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1.1.1.5

              So you do accept that the information released by the Minister was relevant, but reckon it was incomplete. Is that right?

              That’s a bit different from saying that the Minister’s release “crushed dissent”.

              • lprent

                The source that she got the data from (SWIFT) is not one that the minister should have had access to. The data was given to WINZ for a purpose, it had an expectation of being private to WINZ by the people giving it. From memory there is a bloody great big document that states all of this when you give info to WINZ.

                No where on it can I recall a statement that the purpose that it was given for was not to allow fuckwit politicians to score political points. As far as I’m concerned in an ideal world Bennett should have charges laid against her and in an ideal world be convicted.

                Tell me, what is so hard to understand in that?

          • BLiP 3.2.1.1.2

            No – it was not relevant. The discussion was about the TIA, not the benefit rate. My point was that Basher did not release ALL the information that was RELEVANT, she chose to release only enough to get the talk back filth riled up. Her tactics served their purpose, the women were silenced, their dissent crushed (heard anything more about the TIA), and is a warning to others who might dare criticise National Inc.

            Trying to put words in my mouth won’t work – there’s no room! 🙂

            • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1.1.2.1

              If you geuinely believe the Minister was “crushing dissent”, then I really wonder what you reckon goes on in China, the Middle East, etc.

              I’d recommend a nice cup of tea and a lie down.

            • Pascal's bookie 3.2.1.1.2.2

              “Not as bad as the Chi-Comms” is not that good a slogan actually.

            • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1.1.2.3

              Fair enough, but using the words “crushing dissent” to describe this latest release of information by the Minister is empty sloganeering and does nothing to advance debate about what actually happened.

            • Pascal's bookie 3.2.1.1.2.4

              Sure it does. It just doesn’t advance the debate in a direction you like. I agree that it’s a very loaded phrase, and an exaggeration because of that loading, but I don’t think you can plausibly maintain that the release was not intended to shut these women up, and make others hesitant.

            • Gordon Shumway 3.2.1.1.2.5

              Of course I can plausibly maintain that the release was not intended to “shut them up”. You just keep ignoring the counter argument because it doesn’t suit the direction you want to take things:

              1. The complainants said they weren’t getting enough from the government. They went public to garner sympathy to their cause.

              2. The minister told everyone what the complainants WERE getting from the government. This allowed the public to compare with their own circumstances. Some of the public (absolutely understandably) reassessed that sympathy.

              3. The minister then personally made contact with the two complainants and thereby kept the story running.

              What’s not plausible about the fact that the information released was 100% relevant to the issue at hand? (Something you refuse to properly argue because you know it’s correct)

              “Crushed dissent” is a nonsense phrase designed to beat this up into something far greater than what it was.

              The strategy you’re following is simply to rant and rave about the release of information by the minister so we might all forget what that information was (i.e. that the complainant was receiving a SHITLOAD of government assistance but went public demanding more).

            • BLiP 3.2.1.1.2.6

              Your position is fallacious. The two women were not complaining about the income they received from their other entitlements. In fact, they expressed gratitude for it. What they were complaining about was the changing of the TIA rules. (Have you actually read what they had to say?)

              Now, perhaps if Basher Bennett had released details of what money the women received from the TIA I might accept that that was partially relevant. However, Basher illegally accessed the private information and released it to the talk-back asylum knowing full well the opprobrium heaped upon them would result in their silence. In what way is one woman’s failed attempt to start a business relevant to her TIA?

              Geddit?

            • Armchair Critic 3.2.1.1.2.7

              GS – what BLiP said, and
              they didn’t complain they weren’t getting enough, they complained that an allowance that they had previously received was being cut.
              This would mean they would not be able to complete a course of study that would help them return to employment. Which was totally inconsistent with previous statements the government made.
              The Privacy Act is quite clear about what can and can not be done when any organisation collects, stores and uses personal information. Implied consent is a ruse, the minister broke the law. The resulting storm of public opinion, well, let’s not go there. IMO Ms Bennett’s behaviour was unministerial, at best.
              So, in your opinion what would she have to do to be crushing dissent? Sending undercover police around to talk to them quietly? Getting the IRD to audit them and their family? Cutting their benefits completely? Something more than this? Totalitarianism has to start somewhere. Illegally releasing personal information about people who point out the government’s words and actions do not match, in order to ridicule them, gets there in my book.

            • Pascal's bookie 3.2.1.1.2.8

              Further to BLiP and AC, Bennet did not release ALL the information about what these women were receiving. She only gave out the total amount. She omitted why these amounts are what they are, so the public cannot actually have an informed view about it.

              Instead, as she knew would happen, the public just gasped and all the nutjobs ranted and raved and had a little tanty. When justifying herself she falsely claimed that she just wanted to fill in the picture, but she did not fill in the picture at all, she merely released one aspect of the picture without context. She also made saw fit to make mention that this sort of ‘filling out of the picture’ should be a ‘lesson’.

              So no, you can’t plausibly’ claim that she wasn’t trying to shut them up, but carry on.

    • snoozer 3.3

      you sound like you’re going to cry mate.

      Do you have any worries about the government acting like it has? Or is that OK in your book because the labour government wasn’t perfect?

      Are you running for that hypocrisy award too?

  4. Life under the Tories is grand if for no other reason that to witness the metamorphis of the Standard from a shrine to Saint Helen to daily rants and ravings.

    • lprent 4.1

      Actually if you’d look back over time to 2007/8 you’ll find relatively few mentions of Helen or even Labour. The site has tended to focus on how gormless the right are. Have a look at the archive page cloud sometime. It doesn’t change much.

      You’re just attempting the usual inaccurate myth-making

      • Daveski 4.1.1

        Actually, not my usual type of post and I almost deleted it.

        My point was that the last couple of months have seen a lot more hysterical ranting rather than the more issues based approach prior to the election.

        Some of that I put down to the change in contributors – SP in particular was a hard act to follow. However, a lot is opposition-mode kicking in some we get mindless negating and point scoring – the nadir being a couple of recent posts on Field.

        The other point is that any discussion on politics must reflect the politicians and I’ve got to say on both sides it’s hard to find any real inspiration figures.

  5. burt 5

    How could you be so racist Eddie? Shame on you – joining the hollow men of National suggesting that we have one law for all.

  6. burt 6

    So all this fallout with MP’s looking like the self serving trough snuffling pigs they are is why Helen never allowed her promised new standard of openness and accountability to be implemented.

    The adjusting period is interesting – no parties or individuals are smelling of roses at the moment and to point fingers at the very same govt who have allowed the sunshine in is to be expected from people who defeneded the status quo of non disclosure that Labour maintained.

    Long live the accountability (and openness) under a new standard.

    • BLiP 6.1

      Yep, sure is – sole mothers across Aotearoa, be they in receipt of the DPB or Hollywood stars, can now take part in the open political discourse made available by National Inc. – just so long they are prepared to have their private information fed to talkback or their contribution internationally ridiculed by the Prime Minister.

      Thanks National Inc. I’m lovin’ it.

  7. Timothy 7

    For goodness sake – why do people keep harking back to the previous government for an excuse?!

    A new government has been elected.

    Anything they did wrong in the past can’t justify what wrong this current government does. Anyone who thinks it can isn’t worth taking notice of.

  8. toad 8

    Sir Double Dipton is now offering to pay back at least some of the allowance.

    All about “perception”, apparently.

    Interesting to see if any other Ministers follow suit.

  9. Ron 9

    That’s hilarious, Toad. The funniest thing id Double Dipton saying “there’s a perception that I’m getting more than ordinary MP’s” No, no, no ,no, no Bill.
    The PERCEPTION is that you’re a hypocritical bastard who while working with a government which uses the economy as an excuse to destroy ordinary poeple’s jobs and slash services, you quietly get on with ringing the system for everything you can get.

  10. CuriO 10

    I like the idea of having MP’s with big families get more. It’s totally unfair to compare Bill English with say Micheal Cullen or Norman Russell. Sure a single MP can live in an apartment they may be able to rent for $500. But how can you expect a family of 8 like Bill’s to find suitable accomodation in Wellington, for $750! Unless you want MPs living in Levin or NaeNae or something, the cost of representation for far flung electorate MP’s has to correspond to reality. The country shouldn’t punish families or people from small towns in all of this hysteria. Good on Bill for taking a big hit in the pocket and paying this money back, I think it transitions him straight back into the moral high ground. It’s galling to think that Labour Ministers spent 9 years blissfully if legitimately using supplements and now the National party and Bill English yet again has to be the honourable party and take the hit for the collective malfeasance of politician’s behaviour, both Left and Right, here and overseas, for the past 50 years. Its will be interesting to see what changes are implemented. Now that English has paid the money back he actually looks good. The public accepts he has been getting the same as all the Labour Ministers and the other National Ministers, but is still paying back cash as he respects public perceptions. The Prime Minister looks very very good for his swift and adroit handling of the entire affair. Labour now has to concede yet again that it is the Tories who have instigated ethical and appropriate change in Parliament. They have done so here in the administration of Ministers and MP’s allowances. The Tories promoted and allowed for the publication of expenses whilst in Government, even knowing they were putting their necks and bank accounts on the line to the public. You didn’t see the Greens clamouring for transparency in the media consistently while Labour was in government. The Tories placed in the House a speaker who in comparison to Helen’s former admirer is fair in the House and demands accountability from Tory Ministers. It was the Tories who are also in the process of bringing back appropriate change to electoral law in NZ after the outrageous Electoral Finance Act. The difference is simple. Taito Phillip Field placed in Lange’s old electorate is going to jail for corruption and bribery. Bill English is paying back $25000! to the taxpayer having sat on the opposition benches for 9 years watching Labour Ministers act the same as and worse then him, even though the vast majority don’t have the considerations of a family. Isn’t it great to have a clean party on board that accepts mistakes and respects public perceptions? And to have individuals who take responsibility? And isn’t it galling to know the vast majority of the public think like me and don’t get out of bed in the morning obsessing over this stuff? Go THE STANDARD!

    • Amused 10.1

      You actually believe that rant?

    • exbrethren 10.2

      I also think its totally unfair to compare English to Cullen or Norman. Cullen and Norman aren’t money grabbing cheats.

    • Ianmac 10.3

      So amongst all that Curio, you are saying that Bill got caught out “using” the system. After days of denial and months with hands in the cookie jar, he now hands back some of the money and is entitled to the moral high ground. Reeelly??? After months taking from the cookie jar all you have to say is “Sorry.” Must try that out on my good wife!

  11. BLiP 11

    Blah blah blah blah . . . families . . . blah blah blah blah . . . punish . . . blah blah blah blah . . . National honourable . . . blah blah blah blah . . . Labour bad . . blah blah blah blah . . . moral highground . . . blah blah blah blah . . . appropriate change . . . blah blah blah blah . . . the public accepts . . . blah blah blah blah . . . the difference is simple . . . blah blah blah blah . . . family . . . blah blah blah blah . . . Prime Minister swift and adroit . . . blah blah blah blah . . . National clean . . . blah blah blah blah . . . Labour MPs don’t have families . . . blah blah blah blah . . . everyone thinks like me . . . blah blah blah blah . . .

    Who turned on the talk back?

  12. Swampy 12

    Are you Phillida Bunkle or Marian Hobbs, dismissed from the Labour Cabinet over allowances claims, or are you the current Green MPs getting the taxpayer to pay their superannuation scheme for their residences.

    Are you the Labour Party buying a big and expensive fleet of limousines so that Phil can ride around in one as much as he likes.

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