The refusal by Prime Minister John Key to issue a personal apology to Tania Billingsley has been accompanied by an array of excuses. Yes, there are judicial proceedings to be considered, as well an “independent inquiry” into how the incident was handled by MFAT officials. But really…would a personal apology to Billingsley prejudice either of these investigations? Hardly. With the Pike River inquiry, Key hadn’t hold back from offering effusive expressions of compassion to the victims, for fear of prejudicing the outcome. Read the rest of this entry »
So one hand of the state – the Independent Police Conduct Authority – has now washed the hands of its brother agencies, and declared that all hands are clean. Case closed. Does anyone feel re-assured by this exercise in familial self-exoneration? Has anyone’s respect for the rule of law been enhanced? Yesterday, the IPCA reported back that yes, it has determined there was nothing wrong with the Police decision not to prosecute the security agencies that had broken the existing law when they carried out illegal surveillance on Kim Dotcom and as many as 88 other New Zealand citizens. It would not be in the public interest to prosecute those responsible, the IPCA agreed with the Police, in that the security agents involved didn’t know they were breaking the law, and thus lacked the necessary element of criminal intent. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in 2010 at least, the email trail recently released to David Fisher of the NZ Herald shows that the Immigration Service had found an interesting niche in business migrants: people who (a) have $10 million or more spare change to invest in this country who also (b) have their allegedly “criminal” business activities under investigation by the FBI. I don’t know how big this pool of business class quasi-fugitives is, but New Zealand may well have cornered the market. Seriously, it’s hard to see how someone under active FBI/NZ Police investigation could possibly pass the “good character” test required for business migrants to be granted residency here. If you want to hear someone try valiantly to square that circle, have a listen to this Checkpoint interview last night between RNZ’s Mary Wilson and Immigration Service CEO Nigel Bickle. Read the rest of this entry »
When people systematically alter how being statistics are recorded in order to gain personal and organisational advantage, that’s usually when the Police get called in. Yet in the case of the burglary statistics in Counties-Manakau, it was the Police doing the fudging and – at the time – it was then-Police Minister Judith Collins claiming the credit, and flourishing the stats as a sign of just how effective the Key government was at fighting crime. Read the rest of this entry »
As negotiators gather in Ottawa this week for the latest round of talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, the opposition to (a) the TPP deal itself and (b) the Trade Promotion Authority needed to pass it into US law is increasing within the US Congress. This morning’s Washington Trade Daily reports that “several members of Congress said yesterday that a majority of the House oppose either one or both.” Read the rest of this entry »
Indonesia is holding presidential elections later today. As usual, New Zealand seems completely uninterested in what happens in Indonesia – even though our huge neighbor is the world’s third biggest democracy and the largest Muslim country on the planet. The two contenders offer a fairly stark contrast, at least on the surface. The retired general Prabowo Subianto enjoys strong ties to the political and economic bosses of the Suharto era. His rival, the maverick Joko “Jokowi” Widowo is the current governor of Jakarta, but is running as a political outsider and reformer. For the first time in 31 years, the Jakarta Post has publicly endorsed a presidential candidate. Read the rest of this entry »
So the extradition hearing for Kim Dotcom has been delayed until next February. In another long running drama, a final deal on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact is hoped for by year’s end. If a TPP deal is completed by that date, US President Barack Obama can then begin the hard part, which will involve getting ‘fast track’ trade authority from Congress, so that he can then bypass scrutiny by Congress of the contents of the deal. Good luck with that. Given that the Republican Party has been taken over by Tea Party elements out to destroy the US government, such a gift from Congress to the White House looks unlikely any time during this millennium. Read the rest of this entry »
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Terrific. I’m glad that Murray McCully is well and truly determined to get to the bottom of who screwed up the Malaysian diplomatic immunity case, and when he finally finds out who was Foreign Affairs Minister at the time…boy, I wouldn’t want to be in that guy’s shoes.
As we’ve all learned down the years though, when things turn out badly on McCully’s watch its always someone else’s fault. To an almost pathological degree, McCully appears chronically incapable of taking responsibility for any of his actions – or inactions – that turn out to have negative political consequences. Read the rest of this entry »
Blame the officials. Go to ground. Looks like standard operational procedure for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, this time with respect to Malaysia over the diplomatic immunity case. Domestically, our government has needed to look tough about wanting to try the Malaysian diplomat in a New Zealand court, while internationally… we apparently rejected the Malaysian offer to enable this to happen, and let the diplomat go home. Was this a deliberate collusion with the Malaysians, or an accidental mix-up? Hard to tell, really. McCully has fallen silent, and isn’t doing interviews. You’d think he would be feeling obliged to front up, if only out of courtesy to the 21 year old Wellington woman whose right to justice has been bungled – reportedly – by MFAT officials.
Helen Clark’s informal campaign to succeed Ban Ki-Moon as UN Secretary-General is moving into a higher gear. Her June 11 interview on BBC’s Hard Talk programme has been widely seen as a bid for greater exposure, although she was tactfully modest to interviewer Tim Sebastian about her chances of winning the top UN job. To date, Clark has been more frank with the New Zealand media, which has been a useful channel for her comments out to a global audience. This recent South China Morning Post article for instance – headlined “Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former leader, sets sights on top UN job” – is comprised almost entirely of Clark’s quotes to Kiwi journalists. Read the rest of this entry »