Whaleoil Backchat

Good Evening, welcome to the daily Whaleoil Backchat.

You don’t have to stay “on topic” in these posts like you do in all others. Feel free to share your own stories, links to other news or catch up with friends. If you haven’t tried it before, signing in to a Disqus account is free, quick, and it is easy.

New commenters should familiarise themselves with our Commenting and Moderation rules. Thank you.

 


Trouble commenting on Whaleoil? You can receive free help. Do not email via the Contact Page.

Just email [email protected] with your concerns.  Please be polite and as precise as you can be.  Remember: this is a volunteer service provided by other Whaleoil readers.  Only contact them with commenting related problems.

Tagged:

Why is there no law to rein in dodgy ratbag local body politicians?

Former ARC Councillor Bill Burrill is not the first dodgy ratbag Councillor to trough from abuses of power to his own pecuniary advantage in recent years.

A few years back in 2009 Council Watch was calling for a number of Councillors from the Canterbury Regional Council to be prosecuted and sacked from their positions after an investigation by the Auditor General Lyn Provost found that four individuals had broken the law by acting in conflict with their official role.

Back then those Canterbury Councillors failed to declare a conflict on interest that lead to a financial benefit for themselves by participating in discussion and voting on proposals before Council.

Under investigation the Auditor General’s office chose not to prosecute stating that whilst the Councillors should have withdrawn as a matter of principle – they had each received and shared legal advice that they could participate.

And here in lies the problem. The Auditor General and Office of the Ombudsmen publish clear guidelines for Councillors and council staff but the reality is that the law is erroneously filled with holes that are exploited and there is precious little oversight of Local Government leading to the Auditor General loathing to bother and the Court’s uninterested.

Why this is concerning is that whilst central Government politicians are placed under the spotlight and sometimes prosecuted for their actions (think Taito Phillip Field by way of example) there appears to be virtually no scrutiny of politicians at a local level.

“A widespread and systemic lack of compliance for the law exists within Local Government” noted Council Watch back in 2009.    Read more »

News that isn’t: drug laws don’t work

The UK government’s comparison of international drug laws, published on Wednesday, represents the first official recognition since the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that there is no direct link between being “tough on drugs” and tackling the problem.

The report, which has been signed off by both the Conservative home secretary, Theresa May, and the Liberal Democrat crime prevention minister, Norman Baker, is based on an in-depth study of drug laws in 11 countries ranging from the zero-tolerance of Japan to the legalisation of Uruguay.

The key finding of the report, written by Home Office civil servants, lies in a comparison of Portugal, where personal use is decriminalised, and the Czech Republic, where criminal penalties for possession were introduced as recently as 2010.

“We did not in our fact-finding observe any obvious relationship between the toughness of a country’s enforcement against drug possession, and levels of drug use in that country,” it says. “The Czech Republic and Portugal have similar approaches to possession, where possession of small amounts of any drug does not lead to criminal proceedings, but while levels of drug use in Portugal appear to be relatively low, reported levels of cannabis use in the Czech Republic are among the highest in Europe.

“Indicators of levels of drug use in Sweden, which has one of the toughest approaches we saw, point to relatively low levels of use, but not markedly lower than countries with different approaches.”

Endless coalition wrangling over the contents of the report, which has taken more than eight months to be published, has ensured that it does not include any conclusions.

However, reading the evidence it provides, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Home Office civil servants who wrote it seem to have been impressed that a health-based rather than a criminal justice-based approach is where effective policies lie.

The policing and criminal justice cost of chasing low-end drug manufacture, sale and use is significant.  The proof that it is bad is scant.  Yet we keep on keeping on.   Read more »

For once I agree with Russel Norman

Don’t get upset, but Russel is right.  But he doesn’t go far enough.

The Prime Minister John Key says he won’t reveal the name given to him as the identity of the hacker known as Rawshark, and won’t pass it on to police.

“In the end if the individual who told me wants to tell the police they are welcome to do that,” Mr Key said at a media conference today.

In a new chapter in John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister, devoted to this year’s election campaign, Mr Key is quoted as saying: “Someone phoned and told me who the hacker was, but other than having a look at this person, I thought, ‘Oh well … nothing will come of it. Life goes on’.”

Mr Key said today he had learned from the Teapot Tapes scandal in 2011.

“I could spend my life worrying about people who undertake activities to try to discredit the government but at the end of the day it doesn’t take you anywhere.” Read more »

Did you know we still have convicted homosexuals running free?

Before homosexual law reform came in during the ’80s (and boy, was that a debacle), police actually prosecuted gay men for doing things that heterosexual men could do legally.  And some of them still carry such convictions on their police records.

People convicted of historical homosexual acts could have their criminal records wiped, with new Justice Minister Amy Adams saying she is open to resuming talks on the subject.

Until the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed in 1986 – with the help of then-Wellington MP Fran Wilde – sex between men was a crime.

But although those who were convicted before 1986 do not need to declare their convictions because of the Clean Slate Act, activists say the stigma still hangs over them.

Earlier this year, former justice minister Judith Collins received advice from the Ministry of Justice about options for pardoning or expunging those convictions

But the ministry refused to provide the information to The Dominion Post, saying it needed to protect the confidentiality of advice given by officials.

It also said it did not hold information on the total number of convictions under the act, nor did it have any idea how many people might be eligible to be pardoned or have their convictions expunged.

The ministry said it could provide figures for people convicted on homosexuality-related offences between July 1, 1980, and August 8, 1986.

During that period, there were 879 convictions, including sodomy with another man aged over 16, committing an indecent act with another man, and “keeping place of resort for homosexual acts”.

Guess what?  The Green Party was working with the National party to clear this up.   Uhuh,  odd eh?  Wonder if Russel “knew”?   Read more »

Is the percentage of kiddie fiddling clergy higher than the general population?

It’s good they are getting found out.  But it makes you wonder how many have gotten away with it

A Wellington church pastor has been arrested and charged in relation to alleged sexual offending against two young girls, and police requested his passport be confiscated to prevent him returning to Fiji.

Jone Conikeli, 41, was charged with nine counts of sexual offending against two girls aged under 16 after being interviewed by police about the allegations on Tuesday morning.

He faced charges of rape, assault with intent to rape, abduction, and indecent assault, Wellington police said.

He appeared in Hutt Valley District Court later on Tuesday, and was remanded on bail. He is due to reappear next month.

Detective Owen Brunel, the child protection unit officer in charge of the case, said the complainants were aged under 12 and under 16 at the time of the alleged offending. They came forward earlier this month, alleging that the offending happened earlier this year.

Both girls had been interviewed by police and were being supported by Child, Youth and Family, Brunel said.

Police requested Conikeli hand over his passport in recent weeks after they learned of his plans to travel while he was under investigation.

The only “odd” thing about this upstanding chap is that he’s into little girls.  But then he’s not Catholic.   Read more »

Mental Health Break

Forget tea breaks, it is smokers who take diabolical liberties

The NZ Herald editorial this morning is having a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour party and their whinge fest over tea breaks.

It is a pity that almost the first legislative act of the Government’s new term is an act abolishing mandatory “tea breaks” for workers.

Certainly the previous law was dated, though it was enacted under Labour as recently as 2008. It was an echo of an era when most work was menial, repetitive, tedious, sometimes exhausting, and most people were employed on terms negotiated collectively. Today a minority of the workforce belongs to unions and those who do are mostly in state employment. They are in desk jobs or professions and hardly need rest and meal breaks specified in law.

In fact most might have been alarmed to be permitted just one paid 10-minute break in a period of two to four hours, or two 10-minute breaks and a 30-minute meal break in a six to eight-hour working day. The Government has replaced those provisions with a less precise requirement for rest and meal breaks to be agreed between employers and staff. It is a sensible change but was it necessary? The previous law operated as a statutory minimum, a safety net for anyone with an unreasonable employer, but it hardly intruded on normal workplaces.

For a start tea breaks are not abolished, they are made more flexible allowing workers to take breaks when peaks times are at an end.  Read more »

Map of the Day

Sponsored by What Power Crisis, click here for this week’s Solar Deal


B1AbuOdCUAEXGbb

We can’t win.  Either people leaving for Aus is bad.
And now it’s bad because they come back and drive our house prices up!


Read more »

Four years old but so accurate for today, Thomas Sewell on Global Warming and other causes

Author Thomas Sowell argues that public demand for intellectuals is largely manufactured by intellectuals themselves. He says intellectuals make alarming predictions using causes like global warming to create a need for their services.

Which brings us to New Zealand.    Read more »