Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

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Gordon Campbell on the Key style of crisis management

September 27th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Obviously, anyone paying much attention in recent weeks has been serially appalled/amazed/cynically amused by The Great Fish Dumping Fiasco, and the evidence of top Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) officials being caught in email flagrante saying such stuff as… how they don’t dare to enforce the official policy because they’d put half the industry out of business and/or would get offside with the skippers they’re supposed to be monitoring – which could be fatal for keeping a regulatory contract that’s subsequently been
(a) handed over to a company with ownership links to the industry and
(b) where the monitoring role is seemingly awarded on condition that the regulator doesn’t do anything likely to earn the disfavour of the industry they’re supposed to be regulating.

Incredibly, the MPI cameras installed on boats were put there to detect and deter the unlawful depletion of the nation’s fish stocks – but MPI then concluded that this footage could not subsequently be used in court to clinch the prosecution of those caught on camera actually depleting the nation’s fish stocks. In fact, having the MPI cameras on board ship seemed to create a virtual immunity for anyone violating the rules that the cameras were there to spot… In fact, it has transpired the cameras were there in an entirely passive monitoring role, and not an active enforcement one.

Ultimately, the legal advice to MPI was that they couldn’t use the footage compiled for one purpose – assessing the health of the fisheries – for the allegedly different purpose of prosecuting the people putting that health at risk. At least that’s assumed to be what the legal advice given to MPI actually said. In the final absurdity, the relevant legal advice is being kept under wraps, lest the government set a precedent by divulging the legal advice on which it supposedly acts. (This secrecy convention also enables the government of the day to conveniently hide the occasions when it chooses for political reasons to diverge from what it has been told it should be doing, under the law.)

Enter Prime Minister John Key. At yesterday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “ Problem? What problem?” mode. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Judith Collins’ self correction

September 26th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Thousands of prisoners currently in prison may be entitled to an earlier release than expected – and compensation – because Corrections has incorrectly calculated their term of imprisonment. Thousands more who have been released (and who served longer terms than they should have) may also qualify for similar compensation. Unless of course, the government buries its mistakes by changing the law and retro-actively getting itself off the hook.

That looks very much like the road that Corrections Minister Judith Collins is about to take. With a logic that would do Donald Trump proud, Corrections Minister Judith Collins has claimed that she and her department are actually in a “strong position” because they can point to a Court of Appeal ruling in their favour.

In fact, that ruling had already been overturned last week by a unanimous Supreme Court decision. Almost any high school student could tell Collins – a lawyer and former Justice Minister – that the Supreme Court is the highest court of the land, and therefore Collins cannot simply rummage around among the lower court rulings to find one that she likes, and use that as a justification for the correctional mistakes for which she, ultimately, as Minister, is responsible. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on our posturing at the UN

September 21st, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Hey, how hard is to be John Key? Not very. Yesterday in New York for instance, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home such as: “John Key Warns US Of Risks In Failing To Ratify TPP…” That’s telling them. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the damage of deregulation

September 20th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. It has only been in the last couple of years that we’ve clawed back some of the ground lost on health and safety. Similarly, Telecom’s privatisation set back this country’s investment in new communications technology for nearly two decades, as quasi-monopoly rents were extracted from a captive population. There are dozens of other examples of the damage done by de-regulation, all the way up to this year’s mass poisonings in Havelock North. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on welfare blackmail, and drugs in sport

September 15th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

So, in order to chase up the fathers (and in a few rare cases, the mothers) who may be dodging their responsibility for paying child support… WINZ is evidently willing to blackmail the parent who is doing the actual caring, and thereby push the child concerned further into poverty. Reportedly, beneficiary parents who refuse to disclose the intimate details of their child’s conception (to a case manager in an open plan WINZ office) stand to have their benefits substantially docked. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the government’s selective lethargy

September 13th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

When it feels so inclined, the Key government can put its foot down hard on the accelerator. Time and again the period for public submissions (and the scrutiny of them by MPs) has been drastically shortened, supposedly so that a busy government can press onwards and get things done. Yet when action is called for by government on a politically divisive issue… then time will bend and clocks will melt, like Camembert in the sunshine. Reportedly, it will be March 2017 before we get any substantive explanation as to what may possibly have poisoned the water and sickened the 5,000 residents of Havelock North.

In the same fashion, it will take many more months before Social Development Minister (and acting Youth Minister) Anne Tolley and Justice Minister Amy Adams finally get around to taking a proposal to Cabinet on whether to re-classify 17 year old youthful offenders of juveniles, rather than as adults. At his post Cabinet press conference yesterday, Prime Minister John Key confirmed that neither Minister has yet reported back to Cabinet on this issue. Reportedly, Adams has been considering the proposal since at least mid 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on The Rise of the Sewbots

September 9th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Of late, we’ve all heard a lot of anxious media talk about how automation is poised to wipe out the white collar office jobs on which middle class incomes and lifestyles depend. The looming social upheaval forms a big part of the argument for the Universal Basic Income proposal.

However, virtually no coverage has been devoted to how automation is starting to wipe out millions of the jobs in the footwear and garment sweatshops of Asia. Yes, the same sweatshops that, for all their notoriously bad aspects, still enable huge numbers of people in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia etc to avoid utter destitution. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on housing illusions, and libertarians for Trump

September 7th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

So Auckland’s average house price has now topped a million dollars and in her usual role as flak catcher and diversion from such headlines, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has rushed out a puny funding boost for community housing.

The $24.4 million of funding will allow community housing providers to receive a grant worth 50 per cent of any new social housing they build, or a weekly grant of up to 50 per cent of a property’s market rent.

Problem solved! At a deeper level, the truly irritating aspect of the government’s response to the Auckland housing crisis is its insistence that supply is the real problem, and that merely cranking up the housing supply will bring prices down into the affordability zone for most people. If only the Auckland City Council zoned more land, more favourably, for development – or so the government maintains- then this would boost the supply side of the housing affordability equation, and all would be well. Eventually. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Apple’s unpaid tax issues

September 1st, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Reportedly, Apple owes Ireland $US14 billion in unpaid taxes, plus interest. Not that Ireland seems to want the reputational risk involved in the terrifying role that the European Commission has just landed it with. Yikes. In the wake of Brexit, Dublin had been hoping to displace London as Europe’s citadel of commerce. Instead, it is being handed the job of being the tax sheriff enforcing the law on the same multinationals it was aiming to serve. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the challenges of Keytruda funding

August 31st, 2016

First published on Werewolf

All year, the availability of the new generation of anti-cancer drugs in New Zealand has been driven by political decisions, as much as by medical ones. Because patients with advanced melanomas made a lot of the initial public fuss, Pharmac and its political masters sought to manage the demand for these expensive treatments by limiting state funding only to those with advanced skin cancer. This week, lung cancer patients have been put in the same position, of needing to mount a public – and highly political – campaign to qualify for similar state funding for what can be life-saving treatments. Read the rest of this entry »