Politicising the public service

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, May 1st, 2009 - 48 comments
Categories: public services - Tags:

During the last Labour government the Kiwiblog Right used to call Wellington ‘Helengrad’, a play on Leningrad. Ironic then that, after the election of National, David Farrar humorously changed the name to ‘St Johnnysburg’, based on the Russian city’s czarist name. Because the Nats are making Labour look like amateurs when it comes to authoritarianism.

In an unprecedented move, National has forced government ministries to hire political appointees euphemistically called “purchase advisors”. These people aren’t public servants and they don’t sit within any legal system of public service accountability. Their appointment appears to breach section 33 of the State Sector Act (something to think about for the rightwingers before reflexively defending this) because they were handpicked by English but are employed out of departmental budgets.

They’re political spies. Their job is to bypass the structure that is set up to guarantee the neutrality and transparency of the public service and keep ministers at arms length from operational decisions. Far from restoring the supposedly lost neutrality of the public service, National is politicising it.

48 comments on “Politicising the public service”

  1. Yeah, Labour didn’t appoint political advisors to every Cabinet Minister’s office, and use Heather Simpson, a political appointee to vet all cabinet committee papers.

    Political advisors policed advice that would go to Ministers, returned briefings and cabinet papers. They even authored cabinet papers themselves and didn’t run them past the public sector. They were employees of Ministers’ offices, but were politically selected and no, not subject to the State Sector Act either.

    So yes, criticise National if you wish – but Labour was no better.

    • lprent 1.1

      I suppose the question is if you condemn the practice of either or both? You didn’t state if you thought it was good practice.

      I’d tend to separate political advice to ministers as being quite different to purchasing control by the treasury. One of the characteristics in the last few years has been that often the ministries objectives for good underlying reasons were stymied by their political effect. For instance Shane Jones with his ministry ignoring the political aspects on the light bulb question. Good idea if you look at it from any economic aspect, but had problems politically for very little rational reason.

      The purchasing placements almost looks like a power grab by one ministry and minister on the others. There are already budgetary controls, what exactly is this for?

      captcha: constitutional boy

    • samiam 1.2

      Libertyscott is only partly right, Labour in government had political advisors in most Cabinet Ministers offices, paid for by Ministerial Services, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs.

      However, National has also appointed their own political advisors in these positions in Ministers offices too. So no real issue there.

      I think the issue at hand here, is the uncovering of these new purchase advisor positions which are not run out of Ministerial Services, but paid for by each departmental chief but appointed and responsible to the Minister.

      By way of history before people start jumping up and down about Labour having political advisors in Ministers offices, the practice started in the mid 1990s, around about the advent of MMP. Chris Eichbaum from VUW has written several interesting papers on the subject.

  2. Lew 2

    Helengrad was a portmanteau of Helen+Stalingrad, not Leningrad.

    L

    • Tane 2.1

      Interesting, I assumed it was from Leningrad given Farrar’s play with St Johnnysburg. Out of interest, what’s your source for the origin of the term?

      • Daveski 2.1.1

        St Petersburg became Petrograd during WWI as it sounded too German. After the revolution, it was renamed Leningrad but reverted by to St Petersburg in 1991.

        Stalingrad has a similar political story. Originally, Tsaritsyn, then Stalingrad, and now Volvograd.

        It doesn’t matter whether it is Leningrad or Stalingrad – grad is short for “gorod” meaning town hence Helen’s-town.

        You never know when a few years of studying Russian will come in handy 🙂

        • Daveski 2.1.1.1

          LOL … I write a post that is the least politicised of any I’ve ever made here … in fact, riddled with boring FACTS I tell you … and I get moderated.

          LP – have you updated the about section to ban boring pricks like me?

          • Tane 2.1.1.1.1

            The word ‘Stalin’ and others are moderated because they’re a classic sign of trolls. That’s why your comment went into auto-moderation.

          • lprent 2.1.1.1.2

            😈

            Yeah it is a by-product of my extensive research (ie moderating the damn trolls). You usually find one of the banned words in at least one out of three of the comments by people subsequently bumped from here for various forms of trolling.

            I stuck them in auto-moderation to allow us to trap them early to give them warnings (or simply ban for the really obnoxious ones).

            Of course you periodically get a false positive where the word is being used correctly. 🙂 Sorry, you are false positive….. not a “boring prick” (I’d class more as wrong-headed, but that may be personal bias)…

        • The Voice of Reason 2.1.1.2

          Er, not Volvograd, but Volgograd. I’m guessing Volvograd is in Sweden!

        • Con 2.1.1.3

          An odd fact about the name of St Petersburg is that the Russian communists rejected the “patriotic” wartime name change to Petrograd and continued to call it by its old Tsarist name, as part of their policy of “defeatism” during WWI.

          (It wasn’t until Lenin’s death in 1924 that it was renamed Leningrad; in the interim I think it was called Petrograd).

    • Eddie 2.2

      Both are acceptable, surely Lew? Plus, the change to St Johnnysburg works better this way.

      Even if its not true, it’s more beautiful this way. Isn’t truth beauty and, therefore, beauty truth?

      • Lew 2.2.1

        Tane,

        It was coined as a clever play on words, not as a historically-accurate statement, and it emerges from the Objectivist/Libertarian discourse which characterises Clark as Stalinist, not as Leninist.

        PC dwelt upon this in what he hoped were that government’s final hours: http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/09/helengrad-where-did-it-come-from.html

        I came across other sources during my research on that discourse’s campaign against her, including “The Siege of Helengrad”, used in The Australian in 2000 and later by Ian Wishart. Margie Comrie of Massey University wrote a paper on the topic as well.

        Eddie,

        Both are acceptable, surely Lew? Plus, the change to St Johnnysburg works better this way.

        It’s not a matter of what’s acceptable – it’s a matter of the facts of its creation. You can misuse or try to revise its history it however you like, but the actual origin remains.

        Even if its not true, it’s more beautiful this way. Isn’t truth beauty and, therefore, beauty truth?

        No. Truth and beauty are an ordered pair, not equivalents.

        L

        • Eddie 2.2.1.1

          What’s up Lew? Such a grump today.

          I see your attack on the mathemagician’s post. It’s been corrected and the argument it still solid – you are better off not paying back your loan voluntarily, even at low interest rates.

          So your post is basically ‘dude makes mistake, mistake corrected’. I don’t get it.

          • Lew 2.2.1.1.1

            Eddie,

            What’s up Lew? Such a grump today.

            No different today than usual, really. I’m a bit disillusioned with the rampant hackery of the NZ blogosphere, but that’s nothing to do with the comment above, which is just an observation of technical detail.

            I see your attack on the mathemagician’s post. It’s been corrected and the argument it still solid

            Depends on your definition of `solid’. To me, a gain of $400 over ten years isn’t really equivalent to the initial assertion of $5500 or so.

            So your post is basically ‘dude makes mistake, mistake corrected’. I don’t get it.

            No, the point of my post is: dude wants to believe something, enthusiastically embraces totally bogus rationale which confirms what he wants to believe, rather than checking his premises thoroughly. I’m not really attacking mathemagician and I don’t think he did it on purpose; it’s just a usefully immediate case study in partisan credulity.

            L

  3. Eddie 3

    No, Labour was better. There is a place for political appointments and that is in minister’s offices, not in departments.

    If a government wants use political advisors and decide what goes to ministers within ministerial offices, that’s their business. Interfering in operational matters within departments is something else entirely.

  4. BeShakey 4

    Not subject to the SSA isn’t quite the same as in violation of it. The employment of political advisers outside of the state sector is now a fairly common part of Westminster democracies such as ours, forcing Government departments to hire political appointees is not.

  5. Tim Ellis 5

    I think there is scope for ministers to have contractual advisers giving them a view that is independent of the departments’ on the effectiveness of ministerial purchase agreements with departments.

    I think the ideal model might be an independent “productivity commission” charged with providing published advice to Ministers on the effectiveness of government spending. There are some risks of setting up a body that might be self-perpetuating and there is potentially some overlap between Treasury and Audit, but I think that is the natural evolution of purchase adviser arrangements.

    These aren’t political appointees or MFin “spies”. That is a nonsense. They are an important mechanism to avoid departmental capture of Ministers who just end up signing off on any spending proposals by the department, rather than judging the effectiveness of all departmental spending within a portfolio, and assessing spending against government priorities.

    • sanson 5.1

      That’s what minister’s offices are for.

      That’s where these people should be employed.

      Except they’ve blown those budgets already and they wanted a way to bypass the structures set up to guarantee public service neutrality and independence.

      • Tim Ellis 5.1.1

        Not correct, sanson. Purchase advisors are only needed during budget rounds to give technical advice. Ideally they should be contracted during budget rounds. They don’t give political advice. They give quality of expenditure advice. If they are under departmental control, then they will not be able to offer independent advice to the Minister.

        I don’t think it’s ideal that they are paid for from individual departmental budgets, though. Ideally they should be paid by DPMC or a separate entity entirely.

  6. I cannot believe how badly the labour party have handled this. It is amateur hour taken to another level.
    Getting Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson to raise the issue is hysterical… Both highly partisan PAST MINISTERIAL ADVISERS.

    This will not gain traction either, trying to beat it up when there are so many other stories keeping it off the front page was a mistake and the public perception is that the empire building mandarins need a shake up. Expecting them to voluntarily go on a diet is naive.

  7. Political advisors were employees of Parliamentary Services, how is that not part of the state sector? Was Heather Simpson not an employee of DPMC? How is it different? I think the differences are largely semantic – if they are advisors then so be it.

    Ministers have long interfered in operational matters within departments. I know umpteen examples when Ministers directed departments over things from what language they should use (Sandra Lee hated the words transparency and accountability), to major capital works (road project priorities changed rather radically between 1999 and 2001 as can be seen by the respective National Roading Programmes). Labour did it routinely, and I expect the Nats will too.

    My view is that I have no difficulty in Ministers hiring consultants to give them advice over any material coming to or from departments. I have a serious problem with them blocking free and frank advice from departments to Ministers.

    I believe “Helengrad” was coined by Lindsay Perigo. I quite like “Keynesia” for the current lot myself.

    • ghostwhowalks 7.1

      The road projects are a result of priorities set by Transits Board, which has ‘political’ appointees. This is done this way so that the politicians control the priorities list. The predecessor to Transit was the ‘National Roads Board’ which gives an even better picture of its intentions.

    • samiam 7.2

      Political Advisors are not employees of Parliamentay Services, but instead of Ministerial Services, a division of Internal Affairs which staff and finance all the opperations of Ministers offices – including Senior Private Secretarys, Executive Assistants, Ministerial Assistants, Press Secretarys etc. The money for this is voted through Vote Ministerial Services.

      Heather Simpson was not an employee of DPMC, she was however an employee e of Ministerial Services. DPMC is a seperate entity in itself. Heather belonged to the PMO (Office of the Prime Minister).

      Captcha re sack
      Oh the irony

  8. Lew 8

    Scott,

    I believe “Helengrad’ was coined by Lindsay Perigo. I quite like “Keynesia’ for the current lot myself.

    Close – a caller to Perigo’s radio show, thence gleefully picked up by Lindsay and Jenny Shipley and others.

    L

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Cool. Anything that shakes up the sleepy public service has got to be a good thing.

    • Tigger 9.1

      Why do you assume these ‘advisors’ will shake up anything? Or that there is so much to ‘shake up’ that we need to hire specialists to do that? Or that these people have the skills to appropriately ‘shake up’ such services?

      These advisors are a waste of taxpayer money. Departments have already done line by lines. If Ministers can’t use that info to decide on cuts themselves then they’re not up to the job of managing and THEY should be replaced.

      • Tim Ellis 9.1.1

        You’re quite right, Tigger. Departments have done line-by-lines. But nobody independent has yet gone in and queried just how effective the line-by-lines have been. That’s what the purchase advisors are designed to do. Departments don’t have a specific interest in identifying savings or low-quality expenditure. For departments with a billion dollar budget, the lowest-quality 5% of expenditure can amount to as much as $50 million.

        I think that paying a purchase advisor $50k for a couple of months to identify where savings can be made in low-quality expenditure that doesn’t conform to government policy priorities is a very useful application of taxpayers’ money.

        • wibblewithoutapause 9.1.1.1

          50K a month? Are you kidding???? I wonder exactly what type of advising you need to do to get paid so handsomely – in these recessionary times i wouldn’t mind that per year. But then, I didn’t graduate with a commerce degree nor am buddies with the antipodean tories….
          But seriously, aren’t there already enough means of accountability within government to ensure that the budgets are spend not only efficiently but effectively?

          • Tim Ellis 9.1.1.1.1

            $1500 a day isn’t exceptional in the public service for senior consultants wibble. There are probably as many as a thousand contractors charging out at those rates to public service agencies. Substantially more if they are charging through some of the big consulting firms.

            This isn’t new. It’s been going on for years.

            There’s a difference between whether departments are accounting for their expenditure, to which they are subject to audit review, and whether the spending is actually delivered towards the government’s policy priorities. My view is that there hasn’t been adequate oversight of this over the last few years, and that there won’t be until a productivity commission is established.

    • ghostwhowalks 9.2

      And why does English need his own advisor. His department is Treasury, are they a hot bed of waste and inefficiency?

  10. Graeme 10

    Their appointment appears to breach section 33 of the State Sector Act (something to think about for the rightwingers before reflexively defending this) because they were handpicked by English but are employed out of departmental budgets.

    If they were employees, yes.

    I anticipate that the are not, and that Tane is aware of the contractor/employee distinction.

  11. edoze 11

    Hahahahaha,

    Wait until the new national restrictive legislation gets passed.

    The screwy logic act 2010:

    Section 1, no shitty left wing blogs.

    Section 2, no shitty left wing parties.

    Section 3, reinstate capital punishment.

    Section 4, John Key for tyrant king forever. Muhahahaha. You know hes not even that smart.

    But seriously, this is a beat up and you know it. They need to cut the waste somewhere and as they cant fire the CE’s off the bat, so they are circumventing them instead.

    Politicking at its finest.

  12. Daveski 12

    Nah I realised that Tane (tovarich, not comrade) but did wonder if LP had managed to distill an algorithm to identify boring pricks.

    Actually, like a lot of nicknames, I thought that one had some humour but humour doesn’t always come pain free.

  13. Zaphod Beeblebrox 13

    Do they qualify as high or low quality public spending? Or are they just another lot of unqualified, back office Wellington public servants? I needn’t ask if they have any technical qualifications for the ministries they are employed by. In the end however they will merely be another level of useless bureaucracy as I am sure ministers with any intelligence would be able to get what they want by asking the right questions (Wellington not big enough to keep too many secrets).
    These are the sort of employees National pledged to get rid of.

  14. r0b 14

    National have some bare faced gall eh. This is beyond hypocrisy, it is surreal. Lest we forget – National calls foul over Environment Ministry post:

    The National Party is crying political interference after the Environment Ministry contracted a communications adviser with Labour Party links while Madeleine Setchell was sacked for her connections to National.

    The usual National Party hacks piled on board. Here’s serial hypocrite David Farrar at the time – Labour’s Curran employed thanks to Minister

    But it gets even worse. They also defer to their Ministers as who to hire. At the same time as Setchell is getting illegally fired, Hugh Logan is hiring a Clare Curran to do some communications work for the Environment Ministry. Why did he hire Curran? Because David Parker suggested she be hired. … Ministers have been caught with their dirty little hands all over the public service. … So why have no heads rolled?

    The outcry was such that there was a full enquiry, which in the event found that there was no improper practice in the appointment. But the concerns raised at the time were valid. As the State Services Commissioner said in his report:

    The overall lesson, then, is that not only does our law and custom prescribe that New Zealand public servants must be impartial, we must always take care to display impartiality. It is quite reasonable that senior public servants are exposed to close public scrutiny. We cannot assume that our good intentions will always be clear to those who see our behaviour. We must continually take enough steps to demonstrate that we are maintaining impartiality. That may sometimes seem demanding, but it is a privilege to work in a democracy, and we have the opportunity to do our bit to maintain democratic values by working impartially for the government of the day

    Well put. So here we are. One hint of political interference by Labour (which the report found to be untrue) was enough to trigger an apocalypse of National Party / right wing posturing and a full scale enquiry. Now the Nats are actually interfering on a much larger scale – and expecting no one to bat an eye! We’re through the looking glass…

  15. John Dalley 15

    Do we know the names and background of said “Purchasing Advisors” yet.
    Could be interesting to find out?

  16. Trevor Mallard 16

    Heather worked for ministerial services not DPMC. These advisors should be employed via the same route.

    But doesn’t the unanswered question relate to the name missing from the list?

  17. RedLogix 17

    I’ve said this before, but every false, misleading, overblown accusation that National/ACT/Farrarsewer flung at Labour, they in turn, will actually commit far more egregiously, with far more damaging consequences. Those who point the finger with the loudest outrage always turn out to have the most to hide.

    Listening to Brent Edward’s farewell interview with Dr Cullen this evening. The contrast between this highly intelligent, principled and genuinely humble man… with the stuffed prigs who have taken his place could not be more stark.

    • Macro 17.1

      I totally agree Red!

      But shouldn’t these “purchasing officers” be called the “commissariat” instead – the practice is SO USSR! I’m amazed the Bill’s face isn’t red!

  18. ben 18

    Jesus H Christ. Labour was as guilty. Where was this post a year ago.

    Lick spittles.

    • r0b 18.1

      Labour was as guilty.

      Ahh, no ben. Don’t think you read the post, or the comments above.

  19. CrosbyTextor 19

    Situation Report – Embedded Assistants Programme

    The Purchasing Section of the Embedded Assistant Programme has become exposed. While most of the jargon is in place and all of the levers have already been pulled, it is now more important than ever that the Supplier Section remain undetected until the transfers of funds have been completed. Media fallout from the exposure is being managed under Operation – Pink Tie which has left the chooks bamboozled and bewildered; current coverage of the “swine flu” is achieving more than 30 percent of news broadcast air time.

    The Masters are not happy with the lapse in the proper application of the Official Information Act and the assistant who released the papers has been crucified.

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    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    7 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago

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