Thursday, February 23, 2012

No compo for David Bain says juror - who may be in contempt..

English: David Bain after he was proven innocent
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English: Poster for the play Contempt of Court...
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A law expert believes the Bain juror who's written to the Justice Minister is bordering on contempt of court.
It's reported a juror from David Bain's retrial wrote to the then minister Simon Power urging for him to not grant compensation.
Auckland University's Dr Bill Hodge says it's almost uncharted territory.
"The juror is right on the edge of what we'll call contempt of court. The deliberations, the internal debates in the jury room, they're meant to be a sanctified place that we don't enquire into."
Dr Hodge says it's unlikely this information will affect Justice Ian Binnie's decision over whether compensation will be awarded.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What is key doing about second class treatment of many Kiwis living in Australia...

English: John Key, leader of the New Zealand N...
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English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Living within the donut of social and environmental justice...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife
A new entry titled 'Living within the donut of social and environmental justice' has been posted to frogblog.

George Monbiot poses an interesting question in the wake of an Oxfam report: Is protecting the environment incompatible with social justice?

The Oxfam report, A Safe and Just Space for Humanity looks at ?Humanity?s challenge in the 21st century is to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity for all within the means of the planet?s limited natural resources.? It?s a big question especially in New Zealand where dairy intensification, increasing fishing and drilling and mining for resources are presented as necessary steps to deliver growth and lift living standards, to be ?balanced? against environmental degradation.

It?s exactly the line new ?Minister for Everything? Steven Joyce is adopting and best seen in his ?can?ts? opinion piece in the NZ Herald that criticises ?people who in the one breath chant ?more jobs, more jobs? and then in the next breath say ?but don?t do that, or that, or that.?

The report?s author Kate Raworth argues convincingly we can see prosperity, lift people out of poverty within natural limits ? or within the donut, a visual summary for sustainable development. The donut, Raworth points out, is ?The social foundation forms an inner boundary, below which are many dimensions of human deprivation. The environmental ceiling forms an outer boundary, beyond which are many dimensions of environmental degradation. Between the two boundaries lies an area ? shaped like a doughnut ? which represents an environmentally safe and socially just space for humanity to thrive in.?

Where are we at with the donut right now in New Zealand? Around the same time the Seafood Industry Council have produced their own glossy report, The Environmental Cost of New Zealand Food Production, green-washing our fishing industry and again arguing that feeding the world is New Zealand?s economic game. The report however conveniently ignores the significant by-catch impacts pushing some species closer to extinction; clearly outside the donut. The Government is a vocal supporter of more drilling, more mining, and dairy intensification but it?s not about feeding those in poverty, lifting those in energy poverty out nor for Kiwi taxpayers benefit because we know there?s hardly any royalties, hardly any taxes and hardly and jobs and the profits increasingly are flowing offshore. The Government?s economic plans are for a select few despite the altruistic arguments.

Respecting natural limits or saying ?we can?t? sometimes, as Raworth points out, doesn?t have to consign us to maintain poverty, for example:

Providing enough food for the 13% of the world's people who suffer from hunger equates to raising world supplies by just 1%.

Providing electricity to the 19% of people who currently have none would raise global carbon emissions by just 1%.

Bringing everyone above the global absolute poverty line ($1.25 a day) would need just 0.2% of global income.

As I responded to Joyce it?s not about false choices, balance, or ?can?ts?, it?s about ?won?ts?; the Government and many worldwide won?t make common-sense decisions to promote equity or protect the natural environment. We don?t have to ?balance? poverty against wrecking our natural environment ? we can choose renewable energy, clean-tech jobs, increasing conservation, smart transport, and sustainable business, helping people and planet. The Greens know this and that?s why the donut is embedded in our Charter.

Acknowledgements:  frogblog


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

David Bain is not innocent in my book...

Who's Guilty?
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English: David Bain after he was proven innocent
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English: Memorial to the family of David Bain,...
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The PM John key and his Cabinet will have to consider David Bain's claim for compensation. He was found not guilty in his last trial, after a succession of hearings and trials that found him guilty. But being found not guilty does not make David Bain innocent of killing his entire immediate family - parents and siblings.

Joe Karam says people can make up their own minds over his new book on the Bain murders.
'Trial By Ambush: The Prosecutions of David Bain' points the finger at David's father Robin.

Mr Karam says he wrote it to lay out the facts and detail the process that's taken place over the years.
"Pour all that evidence into the melting pot, boil it down and come to your own decision, obviously I say that it confirms very strongly that David Bain not only did not kill his family but he could not have killed them," he told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.
I look forward to reading this book at the local library - there is no way I would buy a copy that will probably financially benefit David Bain. I'm sorry but I believe that David Bain is not innocent of killing his family. I have friends who believe him innocent, but the last trial lacked all the original witnesses.
If, and this is the longest possible if,  David Bain did not kill his mother and siblings, he definately murdered his father.  So he would be guilty of fratricide? Check my spelling here.

How can John Key find David Bain innocent and award him a million dollars, a similar figure awarded to Allen Arthur Thomas who was innocent of the Crewe murders at Pukekawa decades ago.

Look long and hard at the photo of the Cullen Bain family grave in Dunedin.I want justice done, and claiming David Bain is innocent would not be justice.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Waitangi wisdom revealed...

Waitangi Day
Waitangi Day (Photo credit: digitalsadhu)
Waitangi Day
Waitangi Day (Photo credit: digitalsadhu)
The Act Party?s sole MP John Banks was moaning in the House this week about the ?terrible? protests at Waitangi. The last time he visited Waitangi on Waitangi Day was in 1990 when someone dared to throw a T-shirt at the Queen. Apparently, that makes him an expert. I have been going to Waitangi every year but one since 2001, and I always learn something important about this nation.

There weren?t as many people this year. Some were feisty but unlike the Rugby Sevens, there were not multiple arrests. No one was drunk or rude to no purpose, and there was a level of debate on many political issues which I am yet to hear in Parliament.

For me the most inspiring part of Waitangi this year was a roopu reporting back to the people about their work on constitutional transformation. This roopu consists of some of the most dedicated, experienced and wise leaders of the tino rangatiratanga movement in Aotearoa.

The first speaker Huirangi Waikerepuru, a kaumatua from Taranaki, is a beloved taonga for iwi katoa. He was also the wood work teacher at my high school and we had no idea then of his mana and knowledge. He spoke about the deeper foundations of Maori tikanga and kawa that?s essential for any discussion of Te Tiriti-based transformation.

Professor Makere Mutu spoke about Te Hakaputanga o Nu Tireni and Te Tiriti o Waitangi to set the scene for the constitutional discussion. She brought alive the wisdom of her tipuna in asserting their requirements for the relationships with the manuhiri.

Moana Jackson spoke with his classical eloquence, precision and power about the meaning of lore/law and constitutions and the plan to extend the kawa of the marae to a kawa for the nation through flaxroots korero on questions about ?how should we be governed??. The challenge for Pakeha and tauiwi katoa is what grassroots parallel-process are we capable of running

Mereana Pitman made us laugh but also brought home to us the jewels and gems that come from asking people in the hapu and marae what kind of governance arrangements they believe would benefit themselves and also Aotearoa.

Annette Sykes, whose analysis is of legendary sharpness, brought the focus onto the need to properly resource the process of dialogue with flaxroots people who don?t get to stay in flash hotels.

Veronica Tawhai who is a younger academic/activist inspired me when she spoke about the work on a Waitangi claim about loss of political decision making which was rejected as an issue the Waitangi Tribunal could usefully address.

I was inspired by the oil and mining protestors, the work of Mike Smith and the calm resolute aura of Tame Iti who faces down the court in the next two weeks for supposed ?criminal gang? activity.

I was left with a challenge ? how will Tangata Te Tiriti respond? How will we contribute to these issues in right relationship with tangata whenua? Te Tiriti belongs to all of us and as Kingi Taurua said, ?not to celebrate or to commemorate but to honour?.

 Acknowledgements:  frogblog / The Greens

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Asset sales described as 'cultural treason'...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife


 Northland iwi leader, Hone Harawira,  has described the Government's plans to partially sell off the four state owned energy companies as "cultural treason".

Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport
A Northland iwi leader has described the Government's plans to partially sell off the four state owned energy companies as "cultural treason".

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English faced a fiery crowd in Whangarei where more than 100 people gathered to hear from the Finance Minister, with the majority loudly opposing any removal of a Treaty clause from the SOE Act.

Ngapuhi runanga chair Sonny Tau, iwi leaders and Mana MP Hone Harawira addressed the Mr English, and are united against asset sales.

Mr English has come under fire over the consultation process and has endured personal insults and hackling from a passionate crowd.

One woman had to be forcibly removed from the meeting by iwi liaison officers.

The Prime Minister says Kiwis need to think logically about where they want to invest and take up those opportunities.

"To make the case that a mixed ownership company is somehow treasonous is ridiculous, that's exactly the proposition we have with Air New Zealand where the Crown owns most of the chares but not all of them."

The meeting now moves to Auckland where police and Maori wardens are on hand as well as a number of protestors

They're outside the hotel near Auckland Airport where the meeting is taking place, with Mana Party flags and signs reading 'New Zealand is not for sale'.

Hone Harawira is also in attendance at the Auckland meeting.

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Acknowledgements:  © 2012 NZCity, NewsTalkZB
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

John Key's RadioLive election show illegal and sent to police

Prime Minister John Key's show on RadioLive in the run-up to last year's election has been found to have breached the law and has been referred to the police.
NewstalkZB says it has a copy of the commission's decision, which it says found that the show, hosted by Mr Key in September, was an election programme and a breach of the Broadcasting Act.
The commission confirmed on Thursday it had referred the matter to police.
The Labour Party complained to the commission over the hour-long broadcast and the report says a breach of the act took place.
The ruling is due to be officially released at 5pm on Thursday.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority earlier found that the programme was not an election programme.
Police will now decide whether to prosecute and RadioLive could be fined up to $100,000.
The show on September 30, which featured interviews with the likes of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, was aired during a three-month pre-election period where there are strict controls on advertising.

We the people, the state, own the water and the air we breathe in NZ...

We the people, the state, own the water and the air we breathe in New Zealand...

Even if Maori were indigenous to New Zealand, and they are not, it would not make the slightest difference to the argument of who owns the water in NZ, any more than who owns the air we breathe. I hate to say it , but I have to agree with the prime minister John key on this extremely rare occasion.

The distribution rights of water in NZ is a different story. Water comes down in rain, and melting snow in the high country, from wells and artesian bores, springs in the ground and perhaps from other sources, but it has to be distributed - from lakes, rivers, streams, canals and pipelines. There can be a cost to someone that somebody else must cover. That is the relevant debate. Not that of an immigrant minority from east Polynesia who had undisturbed use of the land and water from it for centuries. There comes a time when resources must be shared in New Zealand, and that time is definately now. In ten to fifteen years asians will become the biggest minority group in NZ, second only to caucasians. And they will not necessary support or respect the Treaty of Waitangi and its process. Maori will need to have its partnership with caucasian New Zealanders secure by then. Forget the antiquated term the "Crown" - it is the state which is the people of New Zealand.
But to discuss water rights in relation to private ownership of state assets, these shareholders cannot be allowed to benefit from our resources. They should pay for it or be denied the privilege of purhasing shares in our energy corporations. The simple fact of the matter is more New Zealanders do not want privatisation of state assets, whether it is 49% or 100%, than those who do!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

National's asset sale blunder...

The Seat of Government
The Seat of Government (Photo credit: Ewan-M)
Full Story
As well as trying to “quietly” drop all references to Treaty obligations, under Section 9 of the SOE Act 1986 – something guaranteed to buy a fight with their coalition partner, the Maori Party - there are other revelatory aspects of the draft Treasury document that should also be a matter of considerable concern.
The Government’s mixed ownership model
Intitial public offerings (IPOs)
An initial public offering, or share float as they are often called, is a way of selling some or all of a company to a large number of investors. Shares in the company are offered for sale to retail investors (individuals, sometimes referred to as “mums and dads”) through an advertising campaign to the public and through shareholders.Source
Intitial public offerings (IPOs)
Once a minority shareholding in each company is sold, the government proposes that the company will be governed in the same way as other listed companies and that they will be subject to the Companies Act 1993 and other relevant legislation, the NZX listing rules and the companies’ constitutions. The crown will not reserve any special rights to itself, except that it is still to decide whether it will a have any special power to approve the chairmamn of the Board, as it has for Air New Zealand.”
With regards to Paragraph 1, above, it is interesting that the Treasury report refers to “retail investors (individuals, sometimes referred to as “mums and dads”)“. In effect, it is a ‘slip’ on Treasury’s part, acknowledging the reality that “mum and dad investors” is simply propaganda “code” (newspeak) for common, garden-variety, investors.
There is nothing “mum and dad-ish” about corporate share-brokers working on behalf of investment companies.
Government uses the term “mum and dad investors” to hide the reality that shares in part-privatised SOEs will be purchased by individuals in dapper suits and silk ties, operating out of very nice offices, on behalf of Very Big Corporate Clients.
Government myth: busted.
Paragraph 2, above, is even more insidious and refers to, “Once a minority shareholding in each company is sold, the government proposes that the company will be governed in the same way as other listed companies and that they will be subject to the Companies Act 1993 and other relevant legislation…” and furthermoremore, “The crown will not reserve any special rights to itself…”.
In effect, once partially-privatised, the Government intends that none of the entire State Owned Enterprise will be governed by the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986. (Not just the privatised 49% part.)
Specifically, Section 4 of the Act,
Principal objective to be successful business
  • (1) The principal objective of every State enterprise shall be to operate as a successful business and, to this end, to be—
    • (a) as profitable and efficient as comparable businesses that are not owned by the Crown; and
    • (b) a good employer; and
    • (c) an organisation that exhibits a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when able to do so.
    (2) For the purposes of this section, a good employer is an employer who operates a personnel policy containing provisions generally accepted as necessary for the fair and proper treatment of employees in all aspects of their employment, including provisions requiring—
    • (a) good and safe working conditions; and
    • (b) an equal opportunities employment programme; and
    • (c) the impartial selection of suitably qualified persons for appointment; and
    • (d) opportunities for the enhancement of the abilities of individual employees.
And most specifically, this part of it’s Principal Objectives,
“…an organisation that exhibits a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when able to do so.”
Any committment to promoting clean, sustainable energy; considering the needs of the community in it’s activities; and other social responsibilities will all vanish if the SOEs concerned are “ governed in the same way as other listed companies and that they will be subject to the Companies Act 1993 and other relevant legislation… [and] …the crown will not reserve any special rights to itself…”
In the case of Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, and Meridian Energy – their sole objective will be to make greater profits for government and private share-holders.
Those profits will be generated by raising power prices.
Guess who pays those higher power prices? (Clue: look in the mirror.)
Right about now, any person reading this who voted for National last year must be entertaining serious regrets at ticking “National” for the Party Vote. Those folk who voted for National – and conversely, those who failed to go out and vote for an alternative Party opposed to asset sales – must be wondering if they will end up paying for their voting choices.
Of course they will pay for voting National.
Every month. When their power bill comes in.

NZ Herald: Asset sale draft plan internet blunder
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Private hands will control privatisation...

Prime Minister John Key. File photo / Martin Sykes

Prime Minister John Key. File photo / Martin Sykes

National's "mixed ownership model" - the innocuous-sounding vehicle tasked with making the party's unpopular privatisation agenda more appetising - paradoxically may yet end up making the partial sell-offs of state corporations even less palatable to voters.
The model was supposed to take the political heat out of the issue by hocking off minority shareholdings in a clutch of major energy-related state-owned enterprises, rather than selling them holus-bolus.
This week the plan instead raised the temperature of the privatisation debate and, worse, pitted supposed allies against one another.
Too late, the warning bells should be ringing in the Beehive. The model may turn out to be one of those seductive ideas which seem to offer all the answers, but end up stumbling under the weight of their own contradictions and unforeseen consequences.
This week's very public stoush between the Maori Party and National over the retention of a longstanding Treaty clause is the first such sign of trouble ahead.
This problem should have been foreseen. Cabinet papers released under the Official Information Act last year indicate the tricky question of whether the catch-all Treaty protection clause in the 25-year-old State-Owned Enterprises Act should be re-inserted into replacement legislation which will cover the partially privatised companies looks to have been on Treasury officials' radar. But someone forgot to tell the Maori Party.
What the wrangling over the Treaty clause has exposed is the inherent flaw in the mixed ownership model.
Its seeming beauty when unveiled by the Prime Minister just over 12 months ago was that it offered something to appease everyone. The new state companies would benefit from greater commercial and market discipline through having private shareholders. The share floats would be safe havens for small investors. The sale proceeds would make a sizeable contribution to the capital spending budget of a severely cash-strapped Government. All this and the state would still retain control through its majority 51 per cent shareholding.
The latter factor - state control - is the most crucial in political terms. But it will prove to be a myth.
It is a myth that John Key and Bill English were naturally keen to perpetuate in the run-up to last November's election.
Ownership and control are not the same thing. Key, in particular, has confused the two, perhaps deliberately. Moreover, the rights of minority shareholders will have to be taken into account.
Above all, commercial imperatives will drive these entities to the exclusion of everything else.
These restructured companies - the electricity generators Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis, and, the state coal company Solid Energy - will not be accountable to the Prime Minister or Minister of Finance. They will be expected to behave like any other privately listed company and be answerable to the stock exchange.
It might be argued traditional 100 per cent state-owned enterprises have been equally profit-driven and rarely, if ever, behave in anything but a corporate fashion.
The difference is that the latter are still potentially subject to ministerial direction and have been over such things as dividend policy and through the drawing up of their guiding statements of corporate intent. The SOEs are also obliged to be "socially responsible", although that has rarely been tested.
The dispute over the Treaty clause has Labour predicting the social responsibility provision will also not feature either when the exact working detail of the mixed ownership model is unveiled in conjunction with the float of Mighty River Power, the first candidate for partial sale.
Labour is probably correct. The Treasury has consistently and insistently warned that any trade-offs to Maori or mechanisms to maintain Crown control will depress the share price and thus reduce the receipts from the share floats.
An inadvertently released draft report setting out the terms for consultation with Maori is also instructive as to the Government's thinking.
It declares that ministers' powers with respect to the mixed ownership model "will not be as great" as they have under the SOE Act.
The intention was to move the restructured corporations into a framework that applies to listed companies and create a "greater commercial focus to their operations".
These statements, however, were exorcised from the report's final public version. Clearly, the Government does not want the public to know yet that these entities are going to be very different creatures from the standard SOE.
The Treasury's advice, meanwhile, notes that introducing other shareholders into a company "fundamentally changes" governance arrangements, be it in board appointments, voting rights or company planning.
The blueprint for the likely structure and corporate governance of these new companies is Air New Zealand, in which the Crown has a 74 per cent shareholding.
It was only as the result of pressure from the Auditor-General in 2003 that Air New Zealand was made subject to parliamentary scrutiny, though only in minimal form. The report covering the last such select committee review of the airline in 2009 had no matters to report and stretched to all of five lines.
It is conceivable National could seek to ensure tighter control of the new state companies through nominating directors and placing veto rights over appointments and introducing specific Kiwishare provisions, for example, to limit foreign ownership.
The public, however, is still under the mistaken impression that these companies will still very much be like SOEs, albeit with some private shareholders on board.
Key and English will have some explaining to do when the public discovers otherwise.
So apart from retaining the dividend flow, what will be the point in the Government maintaining ownership?
National's political opponents will see this model as proof of what they have long been arguing - that the partial privatisations are a halfway house to full sale and that was always National's intention. It will be a difficult charge for National to rebut.
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