Stephen Franks

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 »

Election stuff up bigger than originally thought

The election booklet farce is bigger than originally thought…it is highly possible, with a postal ballot, that the omissions from the booklets may well have affected results.

I know that when I voted, the day the papers arrived, that I checked more than a few candidates to see if they were pinkos or lurkers hiding their pinko attitudes.

The scale of the local election booklet botch-up appears more widespread than first feared, a Wellington law firm says.

Franks & Ogilvie is representing a client who is offering rewards of up to $1500 to people finding the highest number of booklets containing errors.  Read more »

Stephen Franks provides some free advice

Stephen Franks has blogged some free advice for Transfield subbies currently feeling the pinch with the slow payments of Transfield

I’m not sure how successful trying to strong-arm Transfield like this would be, but at the very least it should provide some protection.

[H]ere’s the advice if you are a subbie to Transfield. It may be worth more than you are paying for it.

First – demand information from them to the satisfaction of your accountants to establish the current solvency of the company which is actually paying you (probably a New Zealand subsidiary).

Second – don’t restart work for the scumbags till you’ve been paid everything due.

Third – record in writing to them that you will only work for them while there are no arrears, whatsoever.

Fourth - stick to that policy.  Read more »

Some sensible thoughts on Syria

Stephen Franks blogs about a discussion in his office over Syria, especially over the Onion satire piece about Syria.

[The Onion is ] Funny as usual.

However, jokes aside, I think it buys into a misunderstanding about what is going on there.  The pieces just don’t fit the public narrative. Although, I must acknowledge “John’s Law” –  those who think it is a conspiracy don’t understand the power of the plain old  f—   up.

I don’t agree with the portrayal of Assad as in the least insane.  Only a few years ago he was being feted (and, ahem,  wined and dined)  by pretty much everyone as a practical reformer, trying to bring Syria out from under his fathers murderous shadow (remember, his father had a whole town liquidated to quell a rebellion).  Acts of horror abound in the Middle East, where strength and lack of pity are virtues.  Read more »

Spying, privacy, intrusion, and media

Stephen Franks blogs his thoughts on the media own goal currently in progress with the investigations and committee deliberations surrounding the leaking of the Kitteridge report.

[T]he short-sighted journalists baying for privilege from investigation even incidentally will have strengthened the trends and the climate that will some day justify shutting them out of their most vital public function – that is searching out, by fair means or foul, and making public, the embarrassing and significant information that Parliament’s denizens would most wish to keep secret.

In other words, by inventing new categories of privacy intrusion, this time to make sacred the email traffic data of Ministers who do not want it known, and their own, they bring forward the day when it will be a sufficient justification to exclude them, or to criminalise their publication of unwelcome disclosures, simply because they are not officially supposed to have the information, or have failed to apply formally through the proper channels. That seems to be the gist of the accusations against Mr Henry, Mr Thorn and others) on the basis that the release of information was not wanted by its subjects. People who live by discovering and publishing truths that the subjects would rather keep secret or ‘manage’,  score a massive own goal in the long term by asserting essentially that privacy is a sufficient reason to block disclosure.

I am aware of the rationalisation and fine rhetoric seeking constitutional protection of privilege for journalists. Their arguments should not extend to protecting them from the kind of disclosure that they themselves rely upon. It would be outrageous for MPs to assert that journalists be forbidden from reporting on who is seen to visit MP offices. Sure, an electronic record of visits is more convenient than staking out doors and offices.  But the swipe card records are just a technologically efficient form of observation. Any of Ms Vance’s fellow journalists should have been free to report on her visits to Minister Dunne’s office around the critical time that the Kitteridge Report was leaked, if they had seen them.

I do not argue that they should necessarily have had automatic access to the swipe card records, but it is not at all obvious that even such transparency is any more remarkable than the OIA disclosure now imposed on most written public officer communication.  Read more »

Stephen Franks hands Labour another spanking

Stephen Franks has analysed the China FTA further and found some interesting research.

He has blogged an additional post to his first one. It and is scathing of Labour and recommends some remedial reading for their research unit in order to save David Shearer from further embarrassment.

Do you need to understand FTA complexities in detail?

My colleague Rob Ogilvie has drawn my attention to an excellent paper, Uncertain Opportunities: Chinese Investors Establishing Investments in New Zealand by Paul Comrie-Thomson published by the NZ Contemporary China Research Centre of Victoria University this year.

I commend it to the Labour Party research unit.  Read more »

Stephen Franks says Labour must treat Chinese no worse than Australians



Stephen Franks exposes Labour’s back-of-a-napkin “policy”:

Labour’s housing policy to restrict house sales to foreigners could be at odds with New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with China.

The policy, announced by leader David Shearer yesterday, would bar foreign non-residents, except Australians, from buying existing houses in a move to reduce house prices.

Read more »

Stephen Franks on matters criminal

Stephen Franks comments on the changes that Judith Collins is making in Justice to repair the damage caused by Simon Power and the liberal elite he pandered to.

The Hon Judith Collins justifies the ordinary voter’s support for National. Her  preparedness to establish a register of convictions is another example.

Let’s hope that she makes it simple. The current system has converted “open courts and justice being seen to be done” into a hollow slogan. A Press editorial advocates simplicity as far as it goes – but that is not far enough.

The record should be open. What happens in open court should be on that record. It should mean that people ‘live down their crime’ if people who know their offending gain confidence in them from long term reliability. That is not the current version. System defenders claim without research evidence that not being caught and living among unwitting associates is rehabilitation.  Read more »

Stephen Franks on the GCSB issue

Grant Robertson will be suffering in his jocks with the post from Stephen Franks today. He probably won’t suffer too much as he is reputed to use fabric softener on his jocks and with his leadership challenge weight-loss programme going along nicely there is a bit more room as well.

Franks though gives him and his shopped lines to the media a good kick in the slats.

Interesting to see even the sophisticated Peter Cresswell parrotting the establishment line that Ministers should stay out of appointing their own direct reports.

But disconcerting that he casually throws in “separation of powers” as if Key has infringed some constitutional principle.

Peter that convention/principle urges separation and mutual respect and a balance between the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature.

The Prime Minister is the leader of the Executive. He should have a vital interest in who reports to him, in every portfolio. The current convention that Ministers get a veto power after an independent vetting process is not prejudiced by a Minister shoulder tapping candidates to suggest they put themselves forward. Separation of powers is an important constitutional protection. It is cheapened by attempted application to criticise actions entirely confined to the Executive.  Read more »

Stephen Franks on Susan Devoy and Race Relations

Stephen Franks is like his name and he doesn’t shilly-shally around in discussing the appointment of Dame Susan Devoy as Race Relations Commissioner.

The appointment of Dame Susan Devoy, could be a wasted opportunity despite Michael Laws’ instinctive judgment that it can’t matter because it is a non-job.. I’ll wait to judge. She could be a success as stuning to the media chooks as  Lockwood Smith’s Speakership. But I wish the Minister had used the sinecure position to install someone more likely to take on the racism of the Treaty industry from a position of academic superiority.   Read more »