NZ

Looks like Winston’s, David’s and Grant’s nasty smears have backfired

Yesterday Winston Peters, Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe all accused Judith Collins of corruption without a shred of evidence to support their claims.

Now someone who was at the dinner has confirmed the minister’s account and their smears are in tatters.

A senior Beehive adviser has taken the unusual step of going public to back her minister, Judith Collins, over what took place at a dinner with Oravida executives and a senior Chinese Government official.

Margaret Malcolm was one of five guests at the dinner in Beijing which has embroiled Collins in allegations of corruption.

Malcolm, who travelled with Collins to China as her senior adviser, backed the minister’s claim that they did not discuss Oravida’s business over the dinner and that they talked mostly tourism.

“The dinner was very short and discussion was restricted due to some participants having limited English. The conversation centred around New Zealand as a tourist destination.”

She had not taken any notes in her capacity as adviser.

Like Collins, Malcolm also refused to name the Chinese official who Opposition MPs claim was in a position to help milk exporter Oravida overcome export issues following the botulism scare.

Collins has been under fire over allegations she used her ministerial position to benefit her husband’s business interests, though she told The Dominion Post last night that this was not true.

“[NZ First leader] Winston Peters . . . misled the media, he misled the public and actually there is no evidence of it and it’s utterly untrue.”

She had no influence over the $6000 received by Oravida from a pool of government funding for businesses which had been affected by the botulism scare, which turned out to be a false alarm.

Forty-one exporters had received advice and help from the Government relating to the incident and 39 of them received some form of payment, she said.  Read more »

Marlborough Express on the Teachers Council

The Marlborough Express editorial about the woeful inadequacy of the former Teachers Council is particularly relevant, especially the bit about carping teacher unions.

Little wonder teachers are protective of the Teachers Council. It’s probably only polite since it has been so very protective of them.

Unhappily, this has been at the expense of accountability to parents and the public.

The new body is going to have strengthened abilities to exert disciplinary process on errant teachers; and it will have a much more independent look to it rather than the status quo of teachers sitting in judgment on themselves – which they’ve been doing in exquisite privacy.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says new legislation improves teacher registration, enhances reporting requirements and provides a greater range of options when dealing with disciplinary matters. That last bit is particularly important.

The PPTA believes the new body has too much policing power, such as naming teachers facing disciplinary inquiries, which raises the protest that it could jeopardise “natural justice”.

Let’s remind ourselves how well natural justice has been getting along under the Teachers Council.  Read more »

Claire Trevett on the ClusterTruck

Claire Trevett’s column today explores Labour’s idiocy with their clustertruck policy.

Former Labour Finance Minister Michael Cullen’s 2006 prophecy of “jam tomorrow” will come to fruition today, although it may not quite be the kind of jam people were hoping for.

It will be a traffic jam.

Realising there are votes to be gained from angry holidaymakers stuck in traffic for hours, Labour took measures to try to harvest them this week by releasing a groundbreaking holidaymakers’ transport policy.

Labour has long been driven by a drive to reduce inequality. So it announced it would drop the need to register caravans and trailers and cut road user charges for motorhomes and campervans.

The coup de grace of the policy was the ban on trucks from using the right-hand lane on three or four lane motorways – an attempt to peg into the futile rage that swamps drivers whose aims are thwarted by said trucks.

As “Kiwi families” loaded up their surfboards and fishing rods, David Cunliffe’s Caravan of Love was here to help. “Fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane.”

Cunliffe declared, “Kiwis are sweating the small stuff too much.”  Read more »

Stephen Franks on the outrageous claims of corruption by the opposition and media

Stephen Franks provides a thoughtful response to the outrageous claims of opposition MPs under parliamentary privilege of corruption by Judith Collins.

I note that they dare not repeat those claims outside of the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Political journalists continue to give credibility to the Oravida beat-up. I’ve not heard anyone I know, outside the ‘beltway’ set, who share their faux indignation. Perhaps aspects yet to be revealed will vindicate the accusers. But on what has been disclosed so far, those alleging corruption disgrace themselves.

We come from an era, widely regarded as our most incorruptible, when all manner of goods were marked with the Royal crest, and the words “By appointment to HM the Queen”. Approval as suppliers to the Crown was overtly advertised, for the benefit of the supplier. I recall no concern that it was a corrupt practice.

Nor is there any objective argument that Ms Collins advocacy for any dairy interests in China or elsewhere, has been inimical to the interests of New Zealand. The allegations of corruption are the single element most likely to reduce the barriers to corruption. When it is acceptable to equate such innocuous behaviour with corruption, we lose the capacity to distinguish, and ‘everybody does it’ becomes a more likely excuse for genuine corruption at other levels

If there was some indication of covert payments then it might run. But most of us know that there is implicit personal endorsement, even if it is unwanted, in most engagements of powerful people.  Read more »

Cover up under Simon Bridges watch – Part 2

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While Labour and Winston Peters are using Parliamentary privilege to fire off stupid allegations at Judith Collins, they are ignoring a pile of incompetence within MBIE – the very Ministry tasked with growing NZs business.

Part one exposed the dodgy behaviour of MBIE officials under Simon Bridges’ watch.

It raised questions about how MBIE officials are managing the Government’s procurement process, and how questions about dodgy union organisations are being deleted from Supplier Questions in GETS.

Maybe it was a simple mistake, but then again we all know the unions love to think they have union-friendly government officials in their back pocket. Maybe that’s why they get an extra $500 for being a member of the unions. If Labour and NZ First want to talk about corruption, they don’t have to look any further than that rort.

But back to Simon Bridges’ MBIE officials.

This very same GETS RFP #448 then exposed a monumental flaw by the very officials tasked with advising Simon Bridges on his Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

In what is an astonishing revelation, MBIE advised – in their Supplier Questions about RFP #448 of 20 February 2014, that the Employment Relations Bill Part6A (vulnerable employees) doesn’t apply.

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Not sure how that works out for them.  Read more »

Labour’s clustertruck policy is total carnage

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When Labour last attacked truckies there was a nationwide blockade of the nations towns and cities. On that day they al drove ont he left hand side letting people transit as they protested.

Truckies by and large are courteous drivers. But LAbour continues to attack them.

Labour’s policy this time though is a sham. Of the 11,000km of NZ roads their policy will affect just 60kms, mostly in Auckland. Their claims of people fed up with holiday traffic held up by trucks are fanciful, and anyone who lives in Auckland knows the problems aren’t the trucks at holiday time…it is the crappy roads, roading choke points and people towing boats and caravans that hold people up.

Still, Labour thought this was a winner, and a more spectacular policy cock up I haven’t seen in many a year.  Read more »

Even the happy hand clappers are coming around on cannabis reform

They are calling it God’s plant, but there is growing evidence that the happy hand clappers are coming around to cannabis reform.

Jesse Stanley sees marijuana as “God’s plant.” He is one of five brothers—all alums of an evangelical high school—who grow medical marijuana from their two dispensaries in Colorado Springs, Colo. As he put it to the website FaithStreet: “God is moving in the hearts of men and women and children around the world about this plant in ways that I never would’ve imagined.”

The Stanleys got into the marijuana business in 2009 because of a cousin who was in pain and wasn’t helped by conventional treatment. Several years in, they made an unexpected breakthrough. The mother of a 5-year-old girl named Charlotte came into their dispensary seeking help for her daughter’s severe epilepsy. Wary about giving marijuana to a young girl, the Stanleys took a strain called “Hippie’s disappointment” that was low in THC (the chemical that gives the buzz), and created a new blend, high in cannabidiol (the chemical with the medical potential). Charlotte could take it in small doses.

Remarkably—the Stanleys might say miraculously—Charlotte’s seizures decreased dramatically. They dubbed their blend “Charlotte’s Web,” and started a charity called Realm of Caring, which has helped reduce the seizures of hundreds of children like Charlotte. Gaining national attention, the Stanleys even melted the heart of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, who had been a major critic of medical marijuana.  Read more »

Dodgy Socialist Dam based on Dodgy Science

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s dodgy socialist dam looks like it is no longer viable after the board of inquiry gave them a good kick in the slats over their one nutrient management plan.

Something exceptionally dodgy is going on, as was noted by the Board of Inquiry. Marty Sharpe in the DomPost picks up on this point.

Critically, the board rejected the single nutrient control proposed by the council. This will have a significant impact on the type of farming that can occur in the area to be irrigated if the scheme proceeds. Farmers now need to consider whether they can work within the limits as well as being able to afford water and remain profitable.

One of the plan change’s fundamental premises was that increased nitrogen levels would not significantly add to algal growth in Tukituki River catchment.

The board said the evidence underlying this premise was “equivocal, to say the least” and it agreed with opponents such as Fish and Game that the approach was “unsatisfactory and does not give effect to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management”.

The board said it was surprised that many of the scientists now advocating the one nutrient approach had previously advised the best approach was to manage both nitrogen and phosphorous.  Read more »

Dodgy Socialist Council try to censor Media

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The tipline is saying that the extremely dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council have had a press conference yesterday where they tried to exclude a photographer from local newspaper Bay Buzz.   Read more »

Mitchell Muscles up on Dodgy Dotcom

Mark Mitchell has accused Kim Dotcom  of meddling in our parliament under parliamentary privilege today.

He outlines an altercation last year where  Kim Dotcom made threats against the Prime Minister. Mark is no sook, he’s stood up to scumbags like Joseph Kony, Victor Bout, Muqtada al-Sadr, all of whom came off second best. The incident in An Nasiriyah was perhaps the most brutal:

The closest Mitchell and his men came to being killed was in 2004, during a five-day siege of the An Nasiriyah compound, home to diplomats, officials, coalition forces and security staff.

The uprising Shi’a militia, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, was putting coalition forces under pressure across the country. The Italian-controlled compound was surrounded and under sustained attack. Mitchell was charged with defending it.

“They’d hit us during the day with mortar fire, and at night mount a physical attack. My team’s responsibility was the roof. We were very exposed. It was hot, dusty. We didn’t get much sleep and we had to ration our food. I saw every human emotion over those days.”

Armed with AK47s and two 50-calibre machine guns, they kept the militia at bay until coalition forces regained control. Their efforts would later be rewarded with a commendation from the Italian government.

The compound was evacuated and within 48 hours, Mitchell was having a barbecue and talking to his neighbours in Taupo. “That was surreal. I couldn’t really talk to people about it, as it was hard to comprehend.”

Did he kill anyone? “We were fighting for our lives, and the lives of the diplomats. There were casualties on both sides.” That’s all he’ll say on the matter.

During the siege, Mitchell worked closely with British Governor Rory Stewart, who headed the compound’s diplomat contingent. Stewart has made the leap into politics, and is a Conservative MP for Penrith, England. Stewart wrote a book on his time in Iraq, and Brad Pitt’s production company has bought the rights to his story.

So who’ll play Mitchell in the movie? “I’m hoping George Clooney, rather than Danny de Vito.’

He’s certainly not afraid of an overweight sour Kraut.

Read more »