Politics

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investigation the Auditor General’s office chose not to prosecute stating that whilst the Councillors should have withdrawn as a matter of principle – they had each received and shared legal advice that they could participate.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

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 »

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 »

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 »

Where is Grant’s Aspiring Deputy Leader?

Jacinda Ardern has been conspicuous by her absence on Firstline on Friday morning.

This is odd behaviour in the middle of a leadership campaign, especially when Jacinda is apparently her ticket‚Äôs trump card. ¬† Read more »

Is extradition to Germany actually Kim Dotcom’s card get out of jail free card?

monopoly-get-out-of-jail-free

There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not Kim Dotcom may be extradited if his residency is revoked for lying on his application.

There is also debate about where he would be sent to.

Some say Hong Kong as that is where he moved from to live in New Zealand….or to Germany…or to Finland….he holds passports in both of the latter jurisdictions.

Then you have to query David ‘Tainted’ Fisher’s expose…surely he knew about this already when he launched his dictated hagiography that he tried (and failed) to claim was work of journalism.

Could it perhaps be that ‘Tainted’ Fisher wrote the article to actually assist Kim Dotcom escaping justice by fleeing back to Germany? ¬†¬† Read more »

Hawkes Bay Regional Council only invites people who agree with them over dodgy socialist dam

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council is holding a public meeting next week, but they don;t want any dissenters, just approved speakers who will toe the party line in waxing lyrical about their dodgy dam.

They have banned one economic from speaking about the economics of the dam because he doesn’t agree with with their¬†rubbish calculations.

An economist who questions the viability of the Ruataniwha Dam will not be invited to speak at a seminar for farmers considering signing up to take water from the irrigation scheme.

Irrigation New Zealand and Federated Farmers are running the seminar in Waipawa next Tuesday.

Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said he would “politely decline” a request from a long-time critic of the Ruataniwha water storage scheme, Transparent Hawke’s Bay, for economist Peter Fraser to be given an opportunity to speak at the event.

Mr Fraser, a Wellington-based consultant and former dairy issues adviser at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, recently wrote a paper that concluded there was “no economic or commercial rationale to proceed with” the Ruataniwha scheme.

But the analysis Mr Fraser’s paper is based on has been rejected by Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) and others associated with the Ruataniwha project who say it relies on a number of incorrect assumptions.

Read more »

Cartoon of the Day – Redux

On Friday’s SonovaMin is too busy making real money and he can’t entertain us, so we just run some of his older work. ¬†I think this one is especially enjoyable in hindsight. ¬†(And will become relevant again in the future…sshhhh)

Credit:  SonovaMin

Credit: SonovaMin

Why did we ever think the Greens weren’t mad?

You have to give Russel Norman credit: ¬†he’s managed to make us forget just for a moment that the Greens are nothing but a collection of flat earth idiots. ¬†To a person, they tend to be single issue nutters that identify with the Greens because they are the party that provides a home for them (although Labour has been creeping in on that territory)

Steffan Browning is the Green MP that got in because of the final count of special votes.  It cost National its outright majority.  This is what we got for our money:

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Prime Minister John Key has dismissed a Green MP’s suggestion that health officials should consider homeopathic remedies to treat the deadly Ebola virus as “barking mad”.

Green Party MP Steffan Browning made the suggestion, regarding World Health Organisation (WHO) options for treating Ebola, while acknowledging “some people will see it as wacky”.

This week Browning signed an online petition on Change.org, which calls for the WHO to end the suffering of the Ebola crisis by testing and distributing homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.

Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine, based on a doctrine of ‚Äúlike cures like‚ÄĚ, which means the patient is treated with a very diluted form of the substance causing the symptoms of the disease – in this case, a diluted version of the Ebola virus.

Key said he thought the idea was “barking mad”.

“Let’s be honest, this is a serious global issue, and if he really thinks that’s the answer I’d love to see the medical research.”

Browning said ‚Äúit was probably a bit unwise‚ÄĚ to sign the petition, which he also shared on his Facebook page encouraging other people to sign it.

When asked, Browning also supported the US continuing to use Homeopathic Questioning Methods on Al Qaeda.

Here is a secret conversation we recorded by “industry insiders” about a whole different problem Browning should probably look into. ¬† Read more »