Everyone Has to Change…

… says James Cameron.

I loved Titanic and Avatar, just like I loved Love Actually and The Remains of the Day, both starring Emma Thompson. These days, though, I am sick of these people, clever though they are, telling everyone else how they should live. At least James Cameron lives the vegan life he says everyone else must adopt, whereas Emma Thompson flies first class (or even by private jet) while telling everyone else they must stop flying to save the world. Remember, as always, it is okay if they do it… we mere mortals just have to do as we are told.

Now that James Cameron has adopted New Zealand as his home, temporarily at least, he has taken to the media to tell everyone how they should be living while striking at the industries that are the very backbone of our economy.

Nothing ever changes with these wealthy zealots, does it?

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Meet National’s leadership options

It is a shame to see National going through the same painful process that Labour went through after losing the 2008 election. Phil Goff took the poisoned chalice and became leader of the opposition, but he didn’t last long. Things spiralled downwards from there for Labour, until Andrew Little stepped aside for Jacinda Ardern. Labour still came second to National in the election, but it gave their support a boost that made them a possible coalition partner for Winston Peters, which was all they needed.

Just remember. If it hadn’t been for that, Bill English would still be prime minister. While some of you dislike Bill, he was competent, and we wouldn’t be spiralling downwards in every statistic, as we are now.

Matthew Hooton thinks that National still has some big problems with its leadership and that Simon Bridges, in spite of his low popularity, might keep the job for a while yet.

Simon Bridges still has a good chance of remaining Leader of the Opposition until the election.
This is not because National MPs support him but because they cannot agree on his successor. They know that if they roll him, the only credible replacement with the party and public right now is Judith Collins.

National MPs’ concerns about Collins range from the symbolic to the more substantial: namely, her right-wing “Crusher Collins” persona and a perception she has been too brutal with some of them on occasion.
The first is more myth than reality. Collins was typecast by John Key as a law and order conservative and carried out that role with aplomb.
But privately she is grateful to Bill English for taking her more seriously, giving the former commercial lawyer economic roles in revenue, energy and resources.

She is certainly no more right-wing than Bridges and much less so on social issues like gay marriage.
Complaints about her robust treatment of fellow MPs have more merit but she was among the most popular ministers in the previous government among staff and officials in the Beehive and bureaucracy.

A Newspaper.
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Message to SB…

This is going to become a weekly column.

I took it upon myself to write articles in the last couple of weeks about how the sycophantic media always throws out a baby story when the government has had a bad week. I must admit, though that I didn’t expect it to become quite such a regular event. I probably thought that this practice of wheeling out the baby every time the heat goes on the government, particularly on the prime minister, would become so obvious that they simply wouldn’t keep doing it. They would know that the reading public would figure out pretty quickly what was going on.

The media has clearly never had much respect for its reading public because it still has not occurred to them that we can, in fact, see exactly what is going on. It is so bad that there are people on Twitter who regularly predict the coming of the next baby article… and they haven’t been wrong yet. 

She’s the busiest 1-year-old in the country. Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford celebrates her first birthday next Friday and has already mixed with Hollywood movie stars, visited the United Nations headquarters in New York and taken up countless column inches.

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Go Wellington!

So this government is trying to get as many of us onto public transport as possible. It is supposedly good for the planet, although I have driven behind some of those diesel buses, and the clouds spewing out of the back end of many of them can be pretty disgusting. I am told things are much better nowadays… from a cloud spewing perspective, that is. This can probably be at least partly attributed to the fact that, half of the time, the scheduled buses simply don’t turn up at all.

Well, this is a very good way to get to zero carbon dioxide. (Please note that is not ‘zero carbon’, as most of our climate change experts do not seem to know the difference.) If you talk everyone out of their cars and onto public transport, and then the buses don’t turn up, well hey! It is a win-win, don’t you think?

No. Not if you are trying to get to work on time.

The thing is that a lot of people who work in the city used to use the bus services. They were not perfect, but they were generally fairly reliable. Since the changes to the timetables last year, they are neither perfect nor reliable. And now, it seems, they are not particularly fast either.

If it feels like your bus ride is taking longer than it should, regional council figures show you are probably right.

A report outlining the state of Wellington’s bus network shows about half of all trips are at least twice as slow as driving, with average peak-time travel speeds on some routes dropping below 10kmh.

10 kmh. Good grief. I can probably walk faster than that, particularly as at least half of those routes will be downhill.

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The worst government in 25 years

We say on this blog all the time, that this government would be in a lot more trouble if it did not have a very compliant media. Most of the media in this country let the government off the hook: from the Young Labour camp scandal to the Karel Sroubek case, the Derek Handley fiasco to more recently the biased speaker. Then there was the Treasury hack that wasn’t, and Trevor Mallard claiming that a parliamentary staffer was a rapist when all he did was give a colleague a hug.

Staffers, ministers and the speaker himself would have fallen on their swords – with a little assistance – under the last government, but now there is no accountability. We simply do not have the media baying for blood at each transgression like we did with the last government.

Well, maybe the worm is starting to turn. Duncan Garner has attacked the government, saying that this is the least effective government for the last 25 years.

I won’t argue with that.

Remember when Labour promised to lower the number of immigrants coming into the country?

The message to cut immigration numbers sat alongside other grandiose brain dribbles that would never happen. I recall 100,000 homes to be built, world-class cancer treatment centres, and a halving of the 70,000 immigrants that enter NZ every year.

But, the truth is, Labour told you a bunch of utter garbage, they told you what you wanted to hear – dog whistle politics to keep up with Winston Peters. But the truth is they have done diddly squat to get there.

We are back to rubber stamping immigrants into New Zealand to take the jobs in construction or whatever it is that they do and frankly, that we need.
There were 55,000 new immigrants to the year ending April 2019. We need these people, clearly.

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Lest we forget…

Trevor Mallard

I have been intending to write an article about the speaker this week, mainly because everything seems to have gone quiet on his accusations of rape against a parliamentary staffer. It both amazes and frightens me the way no one in this government ever seems to be held to account, even in cases where lives are damaged or destroyed.

You will all remember the Young Labour camp last year where there were accusations of actual sexual assault. No one was held to account for that, and the perpetrator still has the shield of anonymity. There is also anonymity in this case; Mallard accused an unnamed man of rape when it turns out that all he was guilty of was an apparently unwanted hug.

I am writing about this because no one in the media seems to be doing so… even though Barry Soper interviewed the man in question and clearly had some sympathy for him. Let’s recap what Soper said at the time.

The man stood down from Parliament after Trevor Mallard’s claims about rape says he feels bullied out of the building and wants an apology for what he described as the Speaker’s “slanderous” comments.

They are slanderous all right, and totally unjustified. I can only assume Mallard got the wrong end of the stick here and sympathised with the complainant, even though he was not in possession of the full facts. To claim a hug is rape though is off the planet. No one can ever hug anyone again without risking being subjected to a similar claim. This is the world we live in now.

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Refugees stranded… at Auckland resettlement centre

The story of refugee Ibrahim Aziz, who is apparently leaving the country to start a new life in Malaysia, has highlighted a real problem with our increased refugee intake; once they leave the resettlement centre, we have nowhere for them to live.

That is hardly surprising when the number of homeless Kiwis has skyrocketed in the past few years, with Kiwibuild, supposedly building affordable houses for young families, being an abject failure. There are over 11,000 people on state housing waiting lists, and the government has increased our refugee quota so that we are bringing in more people that we simply cannot house.

New refugees in New Zealand are getting stuck at South Auckland’s resettlement centre because there are no houses for them to move on to.

Nearly half of the 1000 refugees who arrived in the last year have remained at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre beyond the six-week introductory programme.

The delay in housing them is being blamed on a shortage of social and private rental properties, not only in Auckland but in other resettlement centres such as Dunedin and Invercargill.

Advocates say the delays can badly affect refugees, many of whom have been displaced for years when they arrive in New Zealand. They are also concerned that the problem could dampen Government or public appetite for increasing its quota further.

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Polls apart

Why do the pollsters get it so wrong?

In the 2016 US election, the polls showed Hillary Clinton had an 85% chance of winning. Polls in the recent Australian election had Labor certain to win. Brexit polls showed that Remainers outnumbered Leavers by a large margin. Going back as far as 1987, in the British election, the polls assured everyone of a Labour victory.

None of these polls were correct. Not even close.

After the 1987 British election, the media developed the concept of ‘shy Tories’, claiming that voters claimed they were going to vote for Labour, but in the end voted for Margaret Thatcher because they truly thought that she was doing a good job with the economy. The veracity and reliability of polling has gone downhill ever since.

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Jacinda is unbeatable…

The government had another rugged week. The Treasury ‘hack’ scandal will not go away, and now she is rightly being criticised for not bothering to attend the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in the UK. Lord knows, she practically never misses an opportunity to show off overseas, but maybe this occasion, where she would have had to take second place to nonagenarians who actually fought in a war, was just not sufficiently about her.

Nevertheless, her trusty henchmen in the media have come to her rescue. Martin van Beynen at Stuff has told us all how we must vote next year.

You might think this is a bit early to be talking about next year’s election but we’ve just had a mid-term budget and this week I was reading about John F Kennedy, the American president assassinated in 1963, and saw this memo written by his aide, Arthur Schlesinger Jr: “The character and the repute of President Kennedy constitute one of our greatest national resources. Nothing should be done to jeopardise this invaluable asset. When lies must be told, they should be told by subordinate officials.”

The thought of Jacinda dealing with a nuclear missile crisis fills me with both terror and hilarity. ‘God help us’ is all I can say. But think about the last line of the previous statement. “When lies must be told, they should be told by subordinate officials.” Jacinda does not lie – she told us so herself in the election campaign in 2017 – so they must be talking about someone else.

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Gabriel Makhlouf has a problem, to be sure

The vultures are circling around Gabriel Makhlouf. He is supposedly heading to Ireland to take up a senior role there at the end of the month, but that has become a problem in itself. Now that his behaviour over the ‘hack’ of the Treasury website has been shown to be incompetent at best and outright dishonest at worst, the Bank of Ireland is not so sure that it wants its newly appointed Central Bank governor to take up his appointment at all.

Irish politicians say they’re concerned New Zealand Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf will become the country’s next Central Bank governor amid the Budget “hack” scandal.

Last week, Makhlouf said the Treasury had been systematically hacked only hours after the National Party revealed it had access to Budget information.

But Treasury later admitted that it hadn’t been hacked and someone had only “exploited a feature in the website search tool” which “does not appear to be unlawful”.
Public statements made by Makhlouf are now under investigation by the States Services Commissioner.
Pearse Doherty, finance spokesperson for left-wing Irish republican party Sinn Féin, told The Irish Times Makhlouf should not start his role with the Central Bank until the investigation has concluded.
Doherty said it “wasn’t a small issue”.
“We need to make sure that someone in the highest position in the Central Bank has proper judgement,” he told The Irish Times.

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