Open mike 19/11/2019

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, November 19th, 2019 - 68 comments
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68 comments on “Open mike 19/11/2019 ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    *sigh*

    Looks like the media has decided to smear NZ First out of power again.

    Same shit, different decade.

    • Climaction 1.1

      So despite labour and the greens managing to understand and abide by electoral finance law, proving it’s not that difficult, SaNCtuAry cannot believe that Winston and NZ first refuse to abide by the law and it must therefore be a media smear

      • Sanctuary 1.1.1

        The first attempt was to have a go at Shane Jones – but that fell flat on it's face when it revealed he acted entirely appropriately.

        Now we have another "investigation" full of innuendo and emotive and suggestive language designed to imply guilt – "suggests" "a coterie" "secretive" "Slush fund" for something which has apparently been in existence for many years.

        The timing – one year out from the next election and clearly designed to establish a narrative around NZ First – is highly suggestive of a conscious attempt at a political hit job. It frankly stinks.

        You don't have to wear a tin foil hat to suggest there is a prima facie case that our corporate MSM – which studiously ignores, downplays and refuses to investigate stories around the funding of the National Party and if National is the beneficiary of potentially laundered cash from the Chinese Communist Party – is happily party to an ambient establishment campaign to get rid of NZ First, using exactly the same tactics they used last time to get of Winston Peters.

        • mauī 1.1.1.1

          The resemblance to a NZ version of Russiagate is uncanny…

          • Stuart Munro. 1.1.1.1.1

            Not remotely.

            Russiagate is based on a large number of factual accounts that have resulted in prosecutions, together with other anomalous events like ceding US basing to Russian forces and denying funding to the Ukraine.

            The assault on NZF to date consists of media innuendo.

    • mac1 1.2

      Yes, Sanctuary. I was about to comment on the style of language used in this morning's The Press when I saw your comment.

      Placed on the front page, tne opening paragraph under the heading "NZ First denies slush fund" reads "Almost half a million dollars in political donations appear to have been hidden inside a secret slush fund controlled by a coterie of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' trusted advisers."

      The article is reporting allegations, using language like "slush fund" and 'coterie'. I would say that such language supports your notion of smearing.

      Stuff say they have seen records covering $325, 000 from five months of records which they have obviously decided could be extended to be "almost half a million dollars". The NZ First Foundation then becomes 'secretive'.

      This is a secret organisation which had a web-site, records discoverable by a Slush investigation, was known about by party treasurers, was used to fund party activities and had multiple donors. Not very 'secret'.

      In the article, the donors are three times described as 'wealthy'. Once the term is used to describe multi-millionaires!

      The journalist involved, and the paper printing this article, acting as investigating police, prosecuting lawyer and it seems that the jury have reached a verdict.

      It's the last issue that is wrong. It is not a dispassionate reporting of facts and argument.

      The article may well be right in its allegations.

      The damage done by such allegations if untrue however should have demanded more neutral language.

      • solkta 1.2.1

        This is a secret organisation which had a web-site,

        A search of "New Zealand First Foundation" does not bring up any site. If it did have a website why was it taken down? When did this happen? Have you got any evidence that it ever existed?

        edit:

        I see the article says there was one:

        “The purpose of the foundation is not clear as its website has been taken down.”

        So why do you think it was taken down?

        • mac1 1.2.1.1

          Solkta, that is conjecture. There are innocent reasons why "its website has been taken down." It may also be a cover up.

          The article does not say, leaving us to conjecture.

          There is, however, in the immortal words of John Key, 'another opinion" from Professor Geddis. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/403141/mysterious-foundation-loaning-new-zealand-first-money

          "Alternatively, they may have managed to structure their fundraising activity so that if someone wants to give more than $15,000, they found a way that that can be given and can be of use to the party without it having to be publicly disclosed."

          Geddis stressed that New Zealand First was not breaking any rules by doing this. "This is within the law, the law allows it. But whether it's what we really want of our political parties is an open question."

          My main point is one of fairness. The language used by Stuff is designed to lead our conjectures in a certain direction.

      • Anne 1.2.2

        Now where have I heard that story before? Ah yes. Forty years ago, the National Party used to stash huge amounts of cash in truly secret slush funds. They had names but the only one I remember was the Waitemata Trust fund. They were so secret not even the IRD knew about them. Naturally they denied their existence for years but one day (iirc) those slush funds disappeared.

        Did the IRD get a smell of them and so they decided to close them? I wonder what happened to all the money? Maybe they divvied it out among themselves.

        Now there's a good story for the media to investigate but something tells me they won't.

        • Sanctuary 1.2.2.1

          There is pay-for-access dinner events at the Labour party conference next week, I think around $5000 for a dinner with the PM. Now, I don't really like that sort of thing. I don't like the way all parties – not just NZ First – seek to launder and hide the source of the money.

          There is a story here and that is until the general public accept that political parties have to be funded in a way that doesn't open them to accusations of corruption and influence buying then how do people EXPECT political parties to fund their activities? We no longer have mass membership parties, it is all elite cadre parties funded via 'donations."

          For what it is worth, IMHO voters should get a voucher (for say $10) when voting they can then donate to a party of their choice. This could be topped up with public money based on a formula based on the last six months of polling and number of MPs, tithing of MPs, membership fees (capped at around say $100-$250 per member per year) and small donations of say no more than $500-$1500 per year from any one organisation or person.

          This money then becomes the ONLY source of money that political parties are allowed to use to fund their activities.

          • solkta 1.2.2.1.1

            I don't like the way all parties – not just NZ First – seek to launder and hide the source of the money.

            Please give an example of when the Green Party has done this.

          • Anne 1.2.2.1.2

            I agree about the pay-for-access dinner events but of course what else can they do? They have to gather the cash from somewhere in order to fight elections.

            The message inherent in my 1.2.2 was that the National Party started all this rot 40 plus years ago. And ever since they have protested loud and long every time someone has called for a fairer system involving at least some public money, so that political parties are on a reasonably level playing field.

            The slush fund habit began under the stewardship of the former National Finance Minister RD Muldoon and continued through his tenure as Prime Minister. It was one of several grubby secrets that man played a role in perpetuating, including clandestine activity involving a tiny band of thugs during the Erebus tragedy fallout period. Yes, I would dearly love to reveal what I know, but consideration for my safety has to be paramount.

          • Stuart Munro. 1.2.2.1.3

            We no longer have mass membership parties, it is all elite cadre parties

            That's the problem right there – they're inherently illegitimate.

          • Dawn Trenberth 1.2.2.1.4

            Only one dinner I'm aware of at conference. Its $55 waged and $45 unwaged. I call bullshit on this. Sounds like the $100,000 bottle of wine rubbish that may have cost Cunliffe the election.

          • Louis 1.2.2.1.5

            $1500 and "Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also been invited to attend the one-day conference, at no cost"

            https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/117470398/labour-party-charge-1500a-head-to-schmooze-jacinda-ardern-over-lunch

        • ianmac 1.2.2.2

          One response has been that other Political Parties have similar entities to handle "loans." If so count on National to have one as well but no one would be willing to investigate. Huh!

          • Sacha 1.2.2.2.1

            Willing to leak is more like it. Happens when you treat your own party officials like crap.

      • Gabby 1.2.3

        The journalist wouldn't be related at all to any Nats would s/he.

      • greywarshark 1.2.4

        I noticed the immediate use of slush fund as the story broke by a journalist who wouldn't know at this stage whether using an emotive term like that was justified.

        Matt Shand on Stuff at 10am 19 Nov 2019: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/117510705/why-the-nz-first-slush-fund-could-breach-electoral-law-expert

        Matt Shand at 5am 19 Nov 2019: NZ First Foundation dodging electoral rules? Records suggest breaches.
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/117509589/nz-first-foundation-dodging-electoral-rules-records-suggest-breaches
        Almost half a million dollars in political donations appear to have been hidden inside a secret slush fund controlled by a coterie of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' trusted advisers.

        Unattributed NZ Herald 19 Nov 2019 at 7.40 am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to be drawn on claims that an electoral slush fund run on behalf of NZ First may have breached the Electoral Act.
        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12286329 – 'Looks to be in contravention of the Electoral Act': Law professor weighs in on NZ First donations

        NZ Herald seems to have slush-fund at the top of its favourite terms for journalists, this being from 2018 by Claire Trevett:
        PM Jacinda Ardern and Shane Jones launch $3 billion fund …https://www.nzherald.co.nz › nz › news › article
        Feb 23, 2018 – It has already been described as a "slush fund" for NZ First and scrutiny of it will be intense. There was also be a close watch for any signs of …

        August 2019 from the National Party newsletter on Economic matters from the mouth of Simon Bridges National Party leader:

        Meanwhile it’s wasted billions on a slush fund for Shane Jones and on Fees Free which has resulted in fewer university students.
        https://www.national.org.nz/tags/author_simonbridges?page=4
        Further on:
        Page 5: “The reality is this Government has wasted billions of dollars on Shane Jones’ slush fund and Fees Free tertiary and so isn’t prioritising lifesaving cancer drugs

        Page 6: “The Associate Transport Minister needs to be honest about how much money her plan will actually take from Kiwis’ back pockets, and what she’ll do with her tax bounty if it isn’t paid out in subsidies. Another slush fund to keep NZ First happy perhaps?

        Page 8: “Taxpayers are forking out $2.8 billion for fees-free tertiary which has resulted in fewer students, $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund and $2 billion on KiwiBuild which has resulted in next to no houses.

        Page 11 (Jan 2019): It’s wasting $2.8 billion on fees-free tertiary education for students already going to university, another $3 billion on a slush fund that NZ First is shamelessly using to buy votes, and almost $300 million on working groups because Labour didn't do the work in opposition.

        Note: 'Slush fund' also used on Page 12 and 14 so is a comfortable fall-back term for National. (I couldn't be bothered going back beyond a year ago.)
        .

        National's Paul Goldsmith refers to 'slush fund' in this report from Scoop in 2018. Shane Jones needs to explain what conflicts were declared before the Government gave $6 million to a trust led by a former NZ First MP, and why his slush fund is leading to private gain, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says. https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1807/S00120/integrity-of-govt-slush-fund-in-serious-question.htm

        And the Otago Daily Times August 2018 chose that term for it's headline. https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/rnz/its-slush-fund-govt-support-race-tracks-slammed
        Paul Goldsmith (National MP) in 2018. 'Mr Goldsmith described the provincial growth fund criteria as being "as loose and as billowing as the deep blue sea''.
        "Well what we've seen is that it's an all-purpose political slush fund and you can fit anything into it,'' he said.'

    • AB 1.3

      Of course. The Nats were always going to attack Labour's support parties. A 'corruption' attack on NZF (2008 redux) and a new bogus so-called 'environmental' party to push the Greens below 5%. I'm not defending NZF of course – I would get all corporate donations out of politics as per the Sanders project.

      It's all predictable as night and day – because that's how elite power operates. We'll have to fight like hell for every miserable inch of ground at a time when giant strides are needed due to the manifold economic and climate-induced problems that face us.

      • tc 1.3.1

        Bet the MSM doesn't reach out to JLR for his opinions as a former nat bagman.

        he's the gorilla in the room, as they say, the MSM want to distract everybody from.

      • Anne 1.3.2

        With a few notable exceptions, if we didn't have such a self-serving and irresponsible media pack we would be able to take the vitally necessary steps towards CC mitigation and the enormous economic and migratory problems that are already manifesting themselves.

        They have a lot to answer for by God!

  2. mac1 2

    I note also in The Press the following headline.

    "Army Chief responds after scolding by PM".

    The reference is to "Ardern called in the Chief of Army, Major-General John Boswell, to firmly lay out her expectations…"

    This is headlined as a scolding. Definitions of 'scolding' have connotations of being noisy and angry, and the example given are made by women.

    A 'scold' of course is definitely a perjorative and misogynistic word.

    Why could the PM not have 'rebuked', 'berated', "told off", 'criticised', or "reprimanded' the officer; or 'given him a strong message", or 'laid down the law"or "demanded better of"?

    Is it because she is a woman?

    Is it because the headline writer did not wish to use words of legitimate power and command as an employer to describe her actions in holding this man to account for a long-lasting and deeply unsatisfactory situation involving the deaths of innocents caused by the insufficient actions of a 'contractor' to ensure the safe disposal of lethal weaponry?

    • gsays 2.1

      Now more importantly, how will NZDF afford the compensation payments because of their casual, callous attitude to Afghanistan victims.

      Abolish the officer's and sgt's mess for a few years. That will make a few million dollars available.

      Kind of appropriate as it is senior ranks that are making these decisions and trying to cover them up.

      What is it with our defence forces lately? Their mana is in decline, despite the great efforts of the majority of them.

      • Gabby 2.1.1

        They got out and then the yankers changed the rules on them.

      • Grafton Gully 2.1.2

        The Herald photo of Mark in his blue suit and tie, Union Jack behind and above, excusing the violent deaths of Afghan children says it all. "Afghanistan and many other nations, are littered with explosive remnants of war from many decades of conflict."

        • gsays 2.1.2.1

          In the words of Stiff Little Fingers – That don't make it alright.

          To start to make it right is merely a reprioritising of some $.

  3. Sacha 3

    Detailed consideration by Rod Oram of how badly the Nats and their farming sponsors fail to grasp climate action: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/11/17/911072/we-did-this-oram

    Yet, while National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill it pledged to substantially change the legislation within 100 days of it next forming a government.

    Such irresponsible action would be a nightmare for all of New Zealand society, not just business. It could kneecap our response to the climate crisis in ways far more damaging than National’s decade-long destruction of the Emissions Trading Scheme after it took office in 2008.

    National lists seven changes it would make to the climate legislation. None of them are based on facts or common sense.

  4. UncookedSelachimorpha 4

    The Coalition government has taken virtually no action to reduce child poverty, according to key members of their own Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

    …nine months on from the report and its 120 detailed recommendations, just three would have been implemented.

    "It seems nothing has actually happened that's actually making a significant change in the welfare system to most people in the nine months since our report came out,"

    "It seems to be something which hasn't been regarded as important by the government, certainly as a barometer of what's in the public eye."

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/403595/child-poverty-welfare-government-inaction-frustrates-advocacy-groups

    Transformational??? Not even pretending to be, so far.

    • Sacha 4.1

      Downright leisurely (from that article, my italics):

      [The Welfare Minister] said there would be a focus in the next two to four years on resetting the foundations of the welfare system, increasing income support and reducing debt, strengthening and expanding employment services, and improving support services for disabled people and their carers.

      Ms Sepuloni said the government planned after that to simplify the income support system, review housing and childcare supports, and align the welfare system with other agencies.

      Let’s just hope the family tents and two minute noodles hold up that long, eh.

      • Augustus 4.1.1

        'Simplifying' the welfare system is responsible for half the mess it is in the first place. Simplification turned sick people, widowers, people over 55 and anyone else who might warrant a differing approach into 'job seekers'. We're all the same, whether you're an 18 year old school leaver or a sick 60 year old who can't do their lifelong job anymore.

        So no, simplification is not what we need at all and I suspect it would only serve to turn more disabled people into job seekers.

  5. joe90 5

    Corrupt AF.

    https://twitter.com/crampell/status/1196492029393588224

    Two Senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.

    […]

    The IRS whistleblower complaint was first disclosed in an August court filing by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. It raises the prospect that Trump administration officials at Treasury tried to improperly interfere with the IRS audit process. That process is supposed to be walled off from political interference.

    http://archive.li/BI9dA

    • Macro 6.1

      A very good brief analysis of what is involved and why it matters here:

      https://www.vox.com/world/2019/11/18/20971153/trump-israel-settlements-west-bank-pompeo-illegal

      US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that he is reversing a longstanding State Department legal opinion labeling Israel’s settlements in the West Bank at odds with international law. This new position sharply contradicts mainstream interpretations of the law, the historic US approach to the conflict, and the broader international community’s view of the situation.

      While the announcement has no immediate policy implications, it does send a pretty clear message to Israeli settlers and its government: go ahead and keep moving en masse into land that the Palestinians might want as a home for their future state. It’s part of a distinctively Trump administration approach to the conflict that I’ve termed a “blank check”: essentially letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on the Israeli right get away with virtually whatever they want when it comes to the Palestinians.

      The decision comes at a particularly fraught time in both US and Israeli politics. The Trump administration has been fighting back against impeachment charges fueled by the testimony of State Department officials; Netanyahu’s hold on power is extremely tenuous, as he’s trying to scuttle an opposition party’s ongoing attempt to form a new government without him. It’s hardly a big leap to see this as an attempt by Pompeo to both distract from the Ukraine situation and give the administration’s buddy in Jerusalem an accomplishment he can use to shore up political support.

      Whatever the reason behind the move, the result is the same: the US is providing support for the most radical factions of Israel’s right and making the already-monumental task of negotiating a peace agreement even harder.

      What Pompeo actually did — and why it matters

      On its face, the legal situation seems simple. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention says that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

      Israel took control of the heavily Palestinian West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, has not formally annexed it, and yet maintains military control over the territory. If you visit the West Bank, as I did last week, you’ll see Israeli-populated settlements built after the war dotting the landscape, ranging in size from tiny outposts to reasonably sized cities.

      That description sure makes it seem like Israel is transferring “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” In 1978, the Carter administration’s State Department issued a memo saying that the settlement enterprise is “inconsistent with international law.” The next president, Ronald Reagan, said he disagreed with that decision — called the Hansell Memorandum — but didn’t formally reverse it. So the memo has stayed on the books since then, even though public US statements would often carefully refer to the settlements as “illegitimate” rather than “illegal.”

      The notion that the settlements are illegal is supported by a 2004 International Court of Justice advisory ruling and a number of UN Security Council resolutions that the US either allowed to pass or voted for. However, Israel and some of its defenders have argued that the settlements are not illegal, claiming that the West Bank is not occupied territory but rather “disputed territory” and that Israelis voluntarily moving into the West Bank is not a “population transfer” under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

      On Monday afternoon, Pompeo essentially took Israel’s side, announcing a formal repudiation of the Hansell Memorandum. He billed this as both the result of a review of the law and an important step towards a peace agreement.

  6. mosa 7

    Meanwhile some analysis on the media coverage in week one of the british campaign.

    Jeremy expresses his frustration.

    https://www.thecanary.co/uk/analysis/2019/11/18/establishment-press-attacks-against-corbyn-have-sunk-even-further-into-the-gutter/

  7. mauī 8

    Stuart, even if some of the Russiagate accounts are factual.., the lead investigator could not establish a conspiracy between Trump – Russia. Perhaps you will be so kind then as to outline the conspiracy for us? Because I have never heard any even slightly sane comment making the case.

    So now the superpowers are supposedly swapping military bases in broad daylight – my god there could not be a clearer case of collusion!.. f'n hell, what next.

    • Gabby 8.1

      f'n ell, maybe a russian owned newspaper taking sides in an election will be next.

    • Stuart Munro. 8.2

      the superpowers are supposedly swapping military bases in broad daylight

      Point to a Russian base the US has taken over – if you can't your characterization fails.

      The elements of the conspiracy are abundant and frankly all over the internet – if your bias preconceptions prevent you from taking them in I don't think that I can help you.

  8. Incognito 10

    How to sensationalise and americanise news:

    Daylight robbery: Man's car stolen at petrol station while fueling up in West Auckland

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12286395

    It wasn’t robbery, obviously, just carelessness and providing an opportunity to a thief. SSDD.

  9. Exkiwiforces 12

    The world’s biggest battery or as that dill called ScoMo once said world’s biggest banana in Jamestown SA has or will increased by 50%.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-19/sa-big-battery-set-to-get-even-bigger/11716784

  10. Macro 13

    The testimony of David Holmes has to be pretty damning …

    my bold

    President Trump was speaking so loudly into the telephone during a phone call with American Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that Sondland “winced” and moved the phone away from his head, according to a US embassy official who witnessed it.

    David Holmes told lawmakers last week that Sondland placed the call through a switchboard, and appeared impatient as he waited for Trump to get on the line.

    When he did, the volume was so excessive that he appeared in pain.

    Sondland “winced and then moved the phone away from his ear, because the volume was loud,” Holmes recalled in his testimony.

    He said eventually the wincing ceased.

    “He stopped doing that. I don’t know if he turned the volume down or got used to it or if the person, the President, I believe, on the other line moderated his volume,” Holmes said.

    He said he was seated at a two-top directly across from Sondland in the Kiev restaurant where the phone call occurred.

    “It was close enough we were sort of sharing an appetizer together,” he said.

    When it became clear Trump and Sondland were discussing diplomatic issues — like Ukraine and the potential release of rapper A$AP Rocky — Holmes took notes of the conversation in the Notes app on his phone.

    When he returned to the embassy, he was not shy in recounting what happened.

    “I recall like, frankly, telling this story to almost anyone I encountered, because it was so remarkable,” he said.

    He described the phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, “as sort of a touchstone piece of information” to understanding the unfolding US-Ukraine policy.

    I repeatedly referred to that call as sort of a touchstone piece of information as we were trying to understand why we weren’t able to get the meeting and what was going on with the security hold," he said.

    Holmes went on to say embassy officials knew President Trump "doesn’t really care about Ukraine."

    “I would refer back to it repeatedly in our, you know, morning staff meetings. We’d talk about what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to achieve this, that. Maybe it will convince the President to have the meeting. And I would say, well, as we know, he doesn’t really care about Ukraine. He cares about some other things. And we’re trying to keep Ukraine out of our politics and so, you know, what’s what we’re up against. And I would refer – use that repeatedly as a refrain," Holmes said.

    https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/politics/live-news/impeachment-inquiry-11-18-19/index.html?__twitter_impression=true

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