Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on Cunliffe’s ongoing disasters

Is it just me, or is Gordon Campbell becoming more sane.  

His analysis of the Labour situation in today’s column is terrific and from the perspective of an impartial but informed bystander…which is highly unusual for him.

Who knew that David Cunliffe’s speech to last year’s Labour Party conference was not a new beginning, but the last gasp of the credible phase of his leadership? In itself, his 2003 letter to the Immigration Service was innocuous. Yet only a Jesuit could make the fine distinction that Labour is now trying to make between Cunliffe’s inquiry about how long Donghua Liu’s residency application was taking, and outright “advocacy” for that application to be approved. Not surprisingly, such letters are seen by officials as “hurry up” reminders, and are intended to serve as such. This was advocacy; the same advocacy that Cunliffe had just this week denied ever making. Probably he did so unknowingly. Either way though – fool or knave – it’s not a good look.

The inability of Cunliffe and his staff to adequately research Cunliffe’s track record with Liu is also lamentable – especially given that photos of Labour MPs in the friendly company of Liu had already emerged. Yet earlier this week, Cunliffe had been left to paint himself into a corner of denial, only to be sandbagged by the revelation of the letter’s existence. As yet, we are still reliant on Labour Party researchers to verify whether Labour did or didn’t receive a sizeable donation from Liu. It should be remembered that National Cabinet Minister Maurice Williamson resigned because of his meddling in a Police investigation and not over a donations scandal, per se. Yet Labour had gone on to use the meddling/donation link to Liu as ammunition in its general attack on National and its fat cat donors. All it will take now is evidence of a donation from Liu to Labour to put the noose firmly around Labour’s neck.   Read more »

Gordon Campbell on a Tired and Emotional Winston Peters

Isn’t it fun when they turn on each other?

Once again, Winston Peters has failed to ignite on the launch pad. These days you have to go back almost 20 years – to the heady days of the Winebox – to find a time Peters actually delivered on his promises. This time, Peters’ claim to have a ‘smoking gun’ loaded with sackable revelations about Justice Minister Judith Collins has turned out to be a fizzer.

What Peters revealed was that Collins had certain costs met by the Chinese government on the trip during which Collins’ Oravida-related business was done. Big deal. Yes, such gifts above $500 in value do need to be declared under certain conditions of travel. Some MPs readily declare them, some don’t.

When MPs need to but have omitted to declare such items, their returns can easily, and quite legally, be amended to record the missing details. At best, Peters’ revelation was only a reminder of Collins’ far more important sins of omission during the course of this scandal.

Labour must be seething. After beavering away for weeks on the Oravida issue – and putting the government on the ropes – Labour had to sit on the sidelines yesterday and watch Peters single-handedly turn the Oravida scandal into a farce. For its part, National must have been delighted by Peters’ fumbling efforts. They helped to defuse the biggest problem the government has experienced to date, in election year 2014.

I’m not entirely sure Peters will come through this election unscathed.  He’s not the man he used to be.  As the saying goes – his mind is writing cheques his body can’t cash.

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Another Cunliffe balls up

David Cunliffe has developed a truthiness problem.

He told Gordon Campbell in an interview:

We’ve got ten minutes. I haven’t asked about your welfare policy, so I’ll make it specific. We all oppose fraud. Does Labour oppose the government’s new welfare fraud policy whereby the partners of welfare fraudsters will be criminally liable for the fraud, and for the repayment of the entire amount – and not simply for the amount from which they might have indirectly benefitted. If re-elected will Labour retain this provision or scrap it ?

Scrap it.

Later in the day Labour voted to support the legislation. Chester Borrows has issued a press release that says:

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says Labour needs to be clear on where they stand on welfare fraud.  Read more »

Scoop: Meet the new boss, just like the old boss

Scoop’s NZ branch have announced who is taking career suicide expert Alastair Thompson’s place

Scoop Media Services has announced that experienced editor / journalist Gordon Campbell will be taking the helm of the independent news-site Scoop.co.nz from February.

“As a new company formed to give Scoop a new lease of life, Scoop Media Services couldn’t be happier to welcome Gordon as our new Editor,” said Craig Pellett, the chair of the board overseeing the company.

“Gordon’s strengths as a highly regarded journalist are well known. In terms of Scoop he has been a mainstay of almost all of its original content in recent years.

“He is extremely well placed to bring about a new direction and higher profile for the overall quality of content on the site, and its capacity to offer a spectrum of voices on issues of the day.”

“Gordon has the full backing of the board and will initially be focusing his energies on developing a team of editorial contributors to enrich Scoop’s scope and increase its readership,” said Pellett.

“A well planned approach will reinforce Scoop’s established presence as a leading home for independent journalism and the aggregation of media statements. These are changes that will gather pace through the remainder of 2014″.

It will be interesting if all the investment and restructuring of what is essentially a couple of people with a web site and a few computers (that sounds familiar) will result in.   Read more »

Scoop Media not showing signs of distancing itself from Internet Party

There is no apparent attempt to disassociate Scoop Media nor Alastair Thompson from the Internet Party’s Internet endeavors.

Perhaps, under the covers, nothing is really changing at all?

Under NZ domain name rules, it is Scoop Media that is the owner of the name, not Alastair Thompson, and certainly not Kim Dotcom or any of his companies or agents.

WHOIS

 

Domain: 

% New Zealand Domain Name Registry Limited
% Users confirm on submission their agreement to all published Terms
%
domain_name: internetparty.co.nz
query_status: Active
domain_dateregistered: 2013/12/18 08:24:04 +13:00
domain_datebilleduntil: 2014/12/18 08:24:04 +13:00
domain_datelastmodified: 2013/12/18 08:24:04 +13:00
domain_delegaterequested: yes
%
registrar_contact_name: 1API GmbH
registrar_contact_address1: Talstrasse 27
registrar_city: Homburg
registrar_contact_postalcode: 66424
registrar_contact_country: DE
registrar_phone: +49 6841 6984 200
registrar_fax: +49 6841 66984 299
registrar: [email protected]   Read more »

When the face is the brand and brand is the face

Could the fledging Dotcom vanity project and political party be in trouble before it has already started.

Word has it that Kim Dotcom is not happy with activities so far, having their strategy leaked, the party secretary busted and resigning from his job in disgrace and now the legal problems that appear to be besetting the party.

Lawyers are spending a great deal of time trying to understand electoral law since the treating issue arose. Gordon Campbell writes about those issues:

As a consequence, Dotcom shelved his political party launch, and proceeded with plans for his birthday party music bash, only to be advised by the Electoral Commission that that, too, could be regarded as an event likely to induce voters to support his political party further down the track.

And also calls for the authorities to hold other parties to account, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

[A]ny event fostering democratic participation that Labour stages in south Auckland that involves say, hip hop or dance artists and carries a door price anything less than the full market rate, could now land it in trouble.

Clearly, the Venn diagram overlaps between “treating” and “party-related advertising” and “fund-raising entertainments” could now become a legal minefield for all political parties.

Dotcom has begun to affect the political climate of 2014, well before the election campaign proper.

The problem though lies not with the Electoral Commission who I believe do an admirable job. They are constantly referring law breaches tot he Police for prosecution and to date not a single complaint or referral has ever been acted on.

But other more pressing legal issues are now confronting them. You see in launching a party, using his face, his name, his style, his Twitter account to all promote and push the party Kim Dotcom has unwittingly nobbled himself and has possibly put the fledgling party in breach of the law again.  Read more »

Gordon Campbell on the Dotcom/Scoop fiasco

Gordon Campbell’s politics are not my politics, but as happens once in a while there is something sensible that comes from his keyboard.

He comments on the scandal enveloping Scoop as a result of Kim Dotcoms willing compromising of New Zealand’s media.

Just before Christmas, Al informed me of his intention to get involved with Dotcom, and added that – understandably – strong misgivings were being voiced within his family about the wisdom of him doing so. At his request, I wrote an outline of the pros and cons for Scoop of his decision, which I did knowing that his decision was a fait accompli, and that the rationale would be used only to try and ease family tension. Ironically, many of the family’s initial misgivings have proven to be well founded.

For those of us connected with Scoop who watched the debacle unfold yesterday – and like everyone else, we did so by reading about it online – the details were alarming. It is painful to draw attention to them because Al’s entrepreneurial drive has been essential to sustaining Scoop as a forum of ideas ; but equally, it is impossible to condone a media outlet signing up the domain name of a political party, while reporting on political events. Al was an associate member of the press gallery. He also had an administrative role with Scoop that required him to generate new business for the site. Some hats that would be shared around in a traditional news organisation were worn by Al alone: such are the economic realities of Web publishing. These multiple roles always had the potential for conflicts of interest in both the political and business coverage.

For a news outlet however, a political client is not just another business client. Especially in an election year, any potential conflicts had to be identified and dealt with beforehand in a way that maintained the necessary distance. Instead, the boundaries in this case were actively blurred.

The domain name registration was indefensible. Left unaddressed, it would have been the sort of thing Scoop would normally seek to investigate and critically expose, if it were being done by anyone else. When that same political party also took out substantial advertising on the news site that has just registered its domain name – preparatory to launch – then the proximity became intolerable. One of the worst things about the situation is that Al’s resignation – assuming that it stands – was almost redundant. It was agreed that he would have been stepping aside anyway, if (a) he went through with his plans to become involved with Dotcom’s party and (b) if Dotcom’s own plans to launch a political party hadn’t fallen apart before then. As things stand though, it is now a moot point whether the unacceptable blurring of boundaries could have been addressed by bringing forward (by a few days or weeks) Al’s stand-down from his role as Scoop editor. The belated emergence of the news about the domain name registration made yesterday’s instant action necessary, and inevitable.  Read more »

Gordon Campbell on media freedoms

Gordon Campbell adds a clear voice to the issue of Judge Blackie’s strange decision and the strange selfish interests of my detractors.

He is not from my side of the political fence but he is a good writer and journalist…though with Judge Blackie’s ruling could now be considered to be outside the description.

There are good reasons to dislike and despise Slater and his style of journalism – and Judge Blackie seemed thunderstruck that Slater writes and publishes stuff on his computer, all by himself – but the problems only begin to multiply when you start to decree who is or isn’t legitimately within the journalism club. The same Law Commission report had gone on to argue that regardless of any style and balance issues, bloggers do enhance free speech and a free press, and are entitled to media privileges. Slater is relying on the protection of sources’ conditions stated at Section 68 (1) of the Evidence Act. Touchingly, the Evidence Act goes on (at 68:5) to define “a journalist” but does so entirely in passive terms:

A journalist means a person who in the normal course of that person’s work may be given information by an informant in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium.

Leaving aside the particulars of Slater’s case for a moment…is this really what we would want to call “journalism”? Namely, the printing of stuff that other people give to us? This peculiarly passive image of journalism omits the active, creative news-gathering role – and the conscious selection that every news outlet indulges in as to what items (among all the various bits of information “given by an informant”) that it chooses to print, what prominence it affords them etc. etc. Journalism never has been passive. Largely for “news as entertainment” reasons of commerce, the mainstream media is being remarkably un-passive in how it goes about this business. Increasingly, it is blurring the lines between passive reportage and overt commentary, and most noticeably in its coverage of political news and events. Slater may be no one’s ideal of a journalist – but to assume there is some clear, bright line between him and the rest of the blogging/journalism pack is self-delusory. Readers are adults. They can read around Slater’s agenda just as they can read around the Herald’s “bias.” Or mine. Fairness and balance are aspirational goals, not givens. Some try a bit harder to achieve them, that’s all.   Read more »

Conflicts of Interest bringing down the Ruataniwha Dam

As I have been pointing out for weeks the dodgy ratbags in the Hawkes Bay Regional Council are watching all their corrupt chickens come home to roost.

Gordon Campbell summarises the real issue with this project pretty well.

The Ruataniwha project stinks to high heavens.

Given that this large scale project – it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer and ratepayer funds – has been declared to of national significance and will serve as a model for others, the project needs to be halted NOW. The current hopelessly tainted process of evaluation has to begun afresh. Unfortunately, as became clear in a further RNZ report this morning, the patent conflicts of interest involved here make it unlikely that this sensible option will be taken.  Read more »

The rank hypocrisy of the Green Taliban

As news broke yesterday, fuelled by uninformed idiocy from the SST, and Lucy Craymer and Charles Anderson running a hate campaign against the New Zealand agriculture sector the Green Taliban went on attack issuing statements about ‘chemicals’.

In a 2008 interview with Gordon Campbell – check out Russel Norman’s last answer:

Campbell: So from what you’re saying, if the Greens are in government after the next election, it will be asking farmers to pay the full costs of its emissions much sooner ?

Norman: Yeah…and its actually in a good position to reduce its emissions. The technology already exists. Its just nuts. They’re half of our emissions, and we’re saying the sector doesn’t have to do anything.

Campbell:Excuse me, but the technology to reduce methane emissions doesn’t exist at the moment.

Norman: The technology to reduce nitrous oxide emissions exists at the moment, with nitrification inhibitors.

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