Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

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Gordon Campbell on the Bain compensation case

August 3rd, 2016

First published on Werewolf

The only good news about the Bain compensation fiasco is that it is finally over. Allegedly, Bain failed to meet the threshold of innocence, but if so, the Key government failed to meet the threshold of competence on this issue. In the end, Bain got zero compensation from the state for his years of wrongful imprisonment, but scored nearly a million dollars in compensation for the delay in determining his ineligibility for compensation. Wow. That’s like the old Groucho Marx gag about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have him as a member. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on NZ homecare workers and US voting rights

August 2nd, 2016

a href=””>First published on Werewolf

Hopefully, the unions will not lie down and meekly accept yesterday’s Court of Appeal ruling on the employment status of support worker Janet Lowe. As many as 35,000 home care workers stand to be affected by yesterday’s ruling – in which the appellate court declared that these workers (who provide relief in homes to family members looking after sick or aged relatives) are not technically ‘employees” and thus do not qualify for the minimum wage of $14.25. As a result, the remuneration for people doing this essential and often unpleasant work will revert to being regarded as a mere “ subsidy”. Typically, this means that they can legally end up being paid only $75 for a 24 hour shift, or about $3 an hour. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on why the opinion polls for Key and Trump defy gravity

July 28th, 2016

What is going on? Donald Trump got confirmed as the Republican presidential candidate at a bizarrely chaotic political convention… and promptly received an upwards bump in the polls to where he’s now rating ahead of Hillary Clinton, for only the second time this year. Likewise, John Key’s government had quite a bad month – yet in the latest Roy Morgan poll, National has been rewarded with its biggest lead over Labour in over a year.

Go figure. The current gap between the commentariat and public opinion is downright embarrassing. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Todd McClay’s faulty memory

July 26th, 2016

Column – Gordon Campbell

S o Trade Minister Todd McClay is unavailable for comment because – reportedly – he has gone overseas on a private trip. (Siberia? Outer Mongolia?) Any skepticism on this point reflects the credibility problem that McClay is going to face in future … Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the IOC’s treatment of Russian sport

July 26th, 2016

Column – Gordon Campbell

T he International Olympic Committee has made the right decision by leaving it to individual sports federations to decide whether particular Russian athletes will be eligible for Rio. Collective punishment was bad enough when applied to all Russian … Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell: the Reserve Bank, the UN shortlist, & Trump

July 26th, 2016

Column – Gordon Campbell

C an there really be there any link between the US presidential elections and yesterday’s RBNZ signals on interest rates and the NZ dollar? Well, maybe. And it would be this: the improving US economy is reportedly putting a tailwind behind the US dollar, and … Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on what John Key should be asking Joe Biden

July 20th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

No doubt, US Vice-President Joe Biden will be updating Prime Minister John Key on the chances of a TPP vote taking place in the ‘ lame duck’ session of Congress that’s held between the November’s election and the inauguration of a new President in January. Whether there will be a vote on the TPP isn’t the point, though. Key needs to be asking Biden about how – and why – the White House is busily circumventing the TPP deal signed in Auckland earlier this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on China Steel Dumping Allegations

July 19th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Over the course of the past decade, MFAT had managed to concoct a China policy of infinite subtlety, a gossamer illusion that – alas – China has just stomped into the dust. Apparently, if we object to their cheap, subgrade steel being jettisoned here, they’ll attack our kiwifruit exports. Quite a wake-up call. Until quite recently, New Zealand had convinced itself it was Beijing’s Best Friend in the West. Hadn’t we been rewarded with the first free trade deal that Beijing signed with a Western country? (It had helped that we – alone among Western countries – had virtually no tariff barriers to put in the way of China unloading its stuff on our economy. No wonder they liked the cut of our jib.) Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the censorship wreaking havoc within South Africa’s state broadcaster

July 15th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Clearly, New Zealand is in no position to criticise the performance of any other country’s state broadcaster. (On Tuesday night, state broadcaster TV ONE lead its 6 o’clock news bulletin with a long report on the Pokemon Go game. Go figure. ) Even so, South Africa’s state broadcaster is in a real mess.

Ongoing turmoil at the South African Broadcasting Corporation threatened to grow into a full-scale insurrection this week, amid a raft of suspensions, gag orders, and widespread allegations about the toxic climate at the embattled pubcaster…

The most recent round of hassles at the SABC have included a bizarre set of decrees handed down by top executives close to the ruling ANC. These demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained.

An SABC spokesman defended the order….saying that quality footage had to be a “true reflection” of the man in front of the camera.

Overall, 80% of the news coverage of the government now has to be positive.

The public broadcaster will no longer air any negative coverage of the president, according to local newspaper City Press, which quoted an SABC source saying Zuma “deserves a certain degree of respect as president of the country.” It’s the latest in a series of troubling moves by South Africa’s main broadcaster, led by chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

In line with this wave of censorship, top management at SABC imposed a ban on the state broadcaster screening any of the violent images of recent anti-government protests in Pretoria. This decree proved to be a major P.R. disaster, and led to resignations by the acting CEO and the suspension of several staff:

When the capital city was gripped by fiery demonstrations over the upcoming election and rights groups protested outside SABC offices against changes at the broadcaster itself, SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng did not budge. Journalists who questioned him were suspended, while others penned a public letter expressing fear that the SABC is turning back into the propaganda machine it was during apartheid from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

In August, South Africa will be holding local body elections on August. These will provide a crucial grassroots test of the waning appeal of the ruling African National Congress. Evidently, the ANC is well aware of the mounting public backlash against its censorship of the SABC. There are even signs that the ANC could be willing to pull the plug on its minions – including Motseoneng and his top crony in government, ANC Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.

For obvious reasons the ANC has a major credibility problem in posing as a champion of free speech. While enforcing strict subservience at the SABC on one hand, it is also now lamenting the lack of free speech and the censorship policies that this crackdown entails.

Just a week after acting CEO Jimi Matthews stepped down, citing what he described as a “corrosive atmosphere,” the ruling African National Congress (ANC) blasted the broadcaster for censoring its coverage of violent protests in June, with party chief whip Jackson Mthembu saying that “people of South Africa need to be shown these images.

It may be too late for such double talk:

In recent days, media and civil society leaders have organized demonstrations outside the SABC headquarters in Johannesburg to protest the suspension of three staffers who openly questioned a decision not to cover last month’s unrest in the capital, Pretoria. Despite gag orders against those journalists, a growing number of former employees are speaking out about the decline of an institution that has been transformed since its days as a mouthpiece for the apartheid government.

“We worked very hard in those years to make it a proper public broadcaster, [and] to see it going backwards like this is heartbreaking,” former deputy CEO Govin Reddy told Eyewitness News.

For now, the ANC is still safe, electorally. Its rural base remains strong, but there are signs that urban unrest against the failure of the ANC to significantly improve the lot of the urban poor is on the increase.

Nationwide, the ANC still enjoys circa 60% support. In the three urban wards polled in the oink above, it was registering about half that level. The Ecnomic Freedom Fighters party of ANC dissident Julius Malema will be the party to watch. Like many other liberation movements – including the opne oin neighbouring Zimbabwe – the ANC is finding that being in government poses very different (and seeningly intractable) problems.

Zimbabwe Calling

And here from Zimbabwe is one of the bigger hits from the 1990s, by the great Leonard Dembo…

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Gordon Campbell on Labour’s housing policy, and TPP rewrites

July 11th, 2016

First published on Werewolf

Driving round Dunedin South yesterday was an interesting place to be hearing the news of Labour’s new housing policy launch. In Corstorphine and Kew came street after street of state housing built in a previous era by an effective government response to housing need, yet all of it now is plainly in urgent need of renewal. It was a useful reminder that state provision of affordable housing was the crowning achievement of the first Labour government. Much the same job now has to be done all over again – and within a wider economic framework where communities like Dunedin South aren’t gutted of jobs, and left behind to fester. (Affordable housing has to be within the context of good jobs, and reasonable incomes.) Read the rest of this entry »