Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

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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 »

Gordon Campbell on the Judith Collins charm offensive

August 30th, 2016

Suddenly, Judith Collins is everyone’s new best friend. It isn’t an election year, but the Corrections/Police Minister is treating 2016 as an opportunity for a political makeover. The former stern-faced law and order toughie (and dodgy Oravida scandal survivor) has been cuddling up to the public all year. Getting pinged by traffic cops for driving a wee bit over the speed limit ? Hey, JC sympathises. Its not something she believes in, really. Don’t like having former sex offenders back in the community ? She’s on your side, she understands. She wouldn’t either. Feel that the Police don’t attend burglaries often enough, or assiduously enough? She’s the peoples’ champ on that one, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the end game in Spain

August 25th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

One of the issues to do with the Fairfax/NZME media merger proposal is the decline in (a) news gathering and in (b) news analysis likely to follow in its wake. That decline is already pretty evident not only in the lack of coverage of the enduring social problems(eg. poverty, inequality, sexual violence, unmet needs in public health) that exist beyond the spinning news cycle. The coverage of international news is in an even worse state. It seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight.

In that same spirit of randomness – but hopefully, with a pinch of context – here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on special needs education funding changes

August 23rd, 2016

First published on Werewolf

The plan to strip out the educational support for older “special needs” children in order to meet the existing shortfall in funding for special needs in early childhood education is so miserly and relentlessly stupid as to defy belief… and that’s even before you get to the news that the “consultation” on this draconian change will be so token and/or rushed, the reported timetable is for this change to be up and running by March of next year. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the waning fever for the Olympics

August 22nd, 2016

First published on Werewolf

According to the spin merchants and others with an interest in whipping up an audience, these have been our most successful Olympics ever. Huzzah! Yet given that the public spent more money (circa $215 million since the London Olympics) to send our biggest team… you could put those Rio results another way. Namely, that our haul in Rio cost more per medal and fewer were earned per athlete than ever before. What with Sky tying up the broadcast rights for the Olympics, you could also say that fewer New Zealanders were able to watch their investment – in tax dollars and in patriotic emotion – on screen, than ever before. Whoopee. Read the rest of this entry »