No surprises here as corruption trial reveals culture of corruption in Auckland Council

I’m not at all surprised by revelations in the High Court yesterday.

A rare prosecution of alleged corruption in the New Zealand public sector has heard of a claimed cascading culture of bribery that saw a senior Auckland Council manager collect $1.1 million and his subordinates taken for a $3000 lunch.

The alleged gratuities extended to covering honeymoon expenses in Florida for the daughter of a senior council staffer, dozens of overseas trips, and regular monthly payments of around $8000 into the pocket of former Auckland Transport senior manager Murray Noone by roading contractor Stephen Borlase.

Noone and Borlase yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of corrupting a public official by bribery. Borlase, who road maintenace firm Projenz is at the heart of the case, also declared himself not guilty of charges he inflated invoices.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said part of the Crown’s case is that Borlase arranged matters so the Rodney District Council – and later Auckland Transport – effectively paid to have their own staff bribed.

The case has drawn considerable interest from white-collar crime watchers as it wound through the system over the past three years, particularly given New Zealand’s hiterto almost-spotless reputation for having an incorrupt public sector.

[…]    Read more »

Tweets of the day











The beginning of the end

Richard Harman provides background on the latest Roy Morgan poll:  it backs up what National’s own polling has been saying (apparently)

The latest Roy Morgan poll continues the surge in Labour support that showed up in the leaked UMR poll a fortnight ago.

The Morgan poll, has Labour on 33.5% — its lowest recent poll rating was 26% in the Colmar Brunton poll on September 7.

But what will worry National is that the Morgan poll, like the UMR poll, shows its support well below its recent high of 48% in the Colmar Brunton poll.

Morgan has National at 41.5%

However, the Morgan poll has the two other Opposition parties, the Greens and NZ First down.

The Greens are on 12% and NZ First, perhaps surprisingly, on 8.5%, down one per cent on their previous month’s showing in the Morgan poll.

The net effect of this would be to give New Zealand First the balance of power.

But what might interest National is that the Maori Party showed a slight upwards move to two per cent. Read more »

Photo of the Day

Bamangwato tribal chief Seretse Khama w. his white British wife Ruth, on hill overlooking native huts in the tribal capital of Bechuanaland from which the British Commonwealth officials wish to remove him for marrying a white woman.

Bamangwato tribal chief Seretse Khama with his white British wife Ruth, on hill overlooking native huts in the tribal capital of Bechuanaland from which the British Commonwealth officials wished to remove him for marrying a white woman.

Forbidden Love

The Bride wore Black

A love affair between an English bank clerk and an African chieftain provoked panic amongst post-war British colonial officials who schemed to have the couple exiled.

The enduring love affair between a black man and a white woman began one summer night in gloomy, rationed postwar Britain. But this was no ordinary man, nor indeed any ordinary woman. He was Seretse Khama, the heir to the kingship of the largest tribe of an African protectorate under British control; she was Ruth Williams, a 23-year-old clerk in a shipping company, and a conservative, with a small and large c.

The love story of Seretse and Ruth defines an era of dying colonial power. Stymied in their relationship at every turn by the British government, in covert alliance with apartheid South Africa, the dignity of Khama and his strong-willed bride came to represent the emerging freedoms and racial tolerance of Africa as a whole.

The young Khama was sent over to London in 1945 to study law by his uncle, the Regent of the Bangwato tribe to which Seretse was heir. Lonely at first in the chill world of Oxford, he moved to London, where he met several other politically minded young Africans; and then met Ruth, at a dinner dance, in June 1947. Within months, the couple were engaged.

Almost immediately, the young mixed-race couple faced trouble. They were plagued by racist landlords and casual abuse in the streets. British government officials, family friends and church figures tried to prevent the marriage. On their first attempt to wed in a Kensington Church it was blocked by the Bishop of London, and the person who was meant to marry the pair was told in no uncertain terms he should not officiate at the wedding. The ceremony didn’t go ahead, but the couple managed to marry secretly at a registry office, four days later.

The bride wore a black suit.

Read more »

How to make $8 million of ratepayers money disappear without a trace

Justin Lester has some explaining to do and not just about his activities on the ratepayer’s dime in Hong Kong.

It seems the council, under his chairing of a key committee, has managed to magic away $8million of ratepayer cash in a  corporate welfare payment to Singapore airlines…and all that exists in terms of paperwork is a Powerpoint presentation delivered after the deal was done…and a two page document that barely mentioned it.

A decision to subsidise Singapore Airlines new Wellington flights for the next decade saw virtually nothing put in writing.

Documents released by the Wellington City Council show that apart from a presentation made to councillors after the decision was made, the council generated a single two page document, which refers to the subsidy only in passing.

In January it was revealed that Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery had approved a subsidy for a new Singapore-Canberra-Wellington route from the Destination Wellington fund. The route launched on September 21.

The council has never disclosed the maximum Singapore Airlines, one of Asia’s largest airlines, could be paid, but documents suggest it could be $800,000 a year for 10 years.

Read more »

Cartoon of the Day

Life interrupts, and we’ve lost SonovaMin again, at least for a while.  I’m hearing talk of packing and moving being part of the drama.  So once again, we wish him and his family all the best, but of course we are selfishly upset we’re going to have to cope without his keen insight and special way of communicating layered concepts in apparently very simple drawings.  He assures me he intends to return.  I, for one, can’t wait.



Isuzu D-Max – More pull than a 14 year old school boy

Southern Autos logo

The other night after court I had picked up my usual from my favourite dodgy kebab shop and was heading home. In the evening I like to take the scenic route home along the waterfront and as I came up to the boat ramp I saw that there were a truck and boat down near the water. Then a fellow wearing a life jacket flagged me down and asked if I could help them get out of the sand and water.

Sure I said. First, I asked if they had chains and/or a snatch strap or at worst a rope. I have all that gear and if they didn’t then I would have to go home first. It turns out they did have a rather long snatch strap.

The tide was coming in and periodically people do get trapped in the sand. It is a constant source of amusement living at the beach to see this happen.

These guys, however, were in a spot more bother. The truck…something like a Toyota Dyna or a Mitsubishi Canter was in up to its axles at the back end, water sloshing over the wheels. The boat was basically floating with the trailer attached.

In less than 3o minutes the truck would be underwater.

I’m currently driving the Isuzu D-Max LX double cab manual from my mates at Southern Autos, the most basic model there is. I do have Bridgestone Dueler tires on it, but they are hardly off-road, and this was going to be a tough pull. Wet and grabby sand up to the axles, plus a boat and trailer.

double-cab-ute-isuzu-d-max-lx-splash-white Read more »

Cake has become a political football in America

What is it with cakes in America? In four cases now they have been used for political purposes. In the first case, Christian owners of a bakery refused to make a cake for their regular lesbian customers because it was for a gay wedding. In the next case, Steven Crowder who was upset that the Media were pushing the narrative that only Christians were discriminating against Gays, proved that none of the Muslim-owned bakeries in Dearborn would agree to bake a gay wedding cake either.

Now Walmart has refused to make a cake for a Police Officer’s retirement party saying that the blue line was racist even though last year they happily baked an ISIS flag cake for a customer after first refusing his request for a Confederate flag.

Chuck Netzhammer initially requested a cake decorated with a Confederate battle flag and the words “heritage not hate”, but the store refused.

Mr Netzhammer then placed an order for a cake topped with the banner of the militant group.

The customer’s first order – a Confederate battle flag cake – was rejected

Read more »

Not all Maori support Hamas hugging Green grandstander

Sheree Trotter (Te Arawa) writes at Shalom.Kiwi:

Davidson has aligned herself with an organisation that is little more than a hate group. Kia Ora Gaza leader, Roger Fowler, has expressed support for a one-state solution (the dismantling of the world’s only Jewish state), has compared Israel to Islamic State, has publicly supported a “third intifada”, and has justified violence against Israeli civilians. This is not an organisation committed to peace and human rights.

For Māori who oppose Kia Ora Gaza’s hatred of Israel, the co-opting of Te Reo Måori for their cause is deeply offensive. Historically, Māori have had strong connections with the Jewish people. Indeed the struggle of the Jews gave inspiration to many of our tipuna, and several indigenous prophetic movements in the 19th century were established on the Jewish model. The return of Jews to their ancient homeland has been an inspiring example for many indigenous peoples. Even though the Jewish people experienced expulsion and dispossession, they never abandoned their hope of return, and a small Jewish remnant kept ahi kaa in the land over many centuries of dispersal. The rebirth of Hebrew has been an inspiration for the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori in Aotearoa.

Read more »

No surprises here, black market tobacco is growing

A few years back I attended a symposium in Singapore on Illicit Tobacco and how to combat it.

At the conference, we heard from law enforcement and customs people about the effect taxation had on illicit tobacco imports. Basically the more you tax the product the better the return for criminals to enter the illicit tobacco market.

So, it was no surprise to me to read this:

For smokers, the habit is getting increasingly expensive as the Government ups its tax to discourage smoking and recoup some of the health costs.

A pack of 20 cigarettes is expected to cost about $30 by 2020. A 50g packet of premium loose tobacco, used in roll-your-owns, currently costs about $78.

That is big money for hard-up smokers who are turning to the black market to buy stolen cigarettes and illicit loose tobacco.

Customs estimates the market for illegally manufactured or smuggled tobacco represents 2 to 4 per cent of consumption and is “not a significant problem”. Its figures are based on a 2013 report by Action Smoking and Health (Ash), which excludes stolen tobacco products.

Police believe the black market is fuelling armed robberies and burglaries, with criminals targeting dairies and stealing tobacco products for resale rather than for personal use.

King says: “There’s going to be people shot over it [tobacco]. Someone is going to get killed.”

Read more »