Little changes Pike River commitment

This week Andrew Little changed his commitments on Pike River, from seeking another expert report and “leave it for the experts”, but two days later said the experts say that safe re-entry can be done and he will make re-entry a priority as Prime Minister.

On Monday Stuff reported: Labour leader Andrew Little not giving ‘false hope’ to Pike River families ahead of visit to the West Coast

Little stands by his promise to seek another report by world-leading experts and make a decision on whether to re-enter the mine based on a third opinion.

To date the Government has a report saying it’s too dangerous while the Pike River families have their own report saying it’s safe.

In response to whether the findings of a third report would be treated as gospel, Little said, yes.

“I’m not going to give false hope to people but I’m not going to deny them realistic hope either.”

He said a third report would mean “you’ve got more experts than not saying what is practical to do”.

You’ve got to leave it for the experts and show respect to them.”

Little is clearly saying he would “leave it for the experts” and abide by a third report in making any decision.

However on Wednesday via the Labour website: Bill English needs to back Pike River Bill

Bill English has been hiding behind the legal excuse that any attempt to re-enter the mine to recover the bodies might place the mine’s owner, Solid Energy Limited, and its directors in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

“My Health and Safety at Work (Pike River Recovery) Amendment Bill removes that risk and, therefore, removes the excuse the Prime Minister is using to block recovery operations that international mining experts maintain are feasible and not unduly risky.

“I will be tabling the Bill on the first day of the new Parliamentary session on 7 February and I challenge the Government to back it.

“Bill English can’t hide behind this excuse unless there are other reasons he has for not wanting recovery to happen. He needs to front up and do the right thing for the families of the Pike River miners who have been waiting too long for their men to be returned.

“As I have said all along, Labour supports safe re-entry, which the experts say can be done. I want justice for the families who have suffered the worst workplace tragedy in decades.

“If New Zealanders choose to change the Government this year, re-entering Pike River will be a priority in my first hundred days as Prime Minister,” says Andrew Little.

http://www.labour.org.nz/bill_english_needs_to_back_pike_river_bill

This gives quite a different impression – that Little “supports safe re-entry, which the experts say can be done”, and ” re-entering Pike River will be a priority in my first hundred days as Prime Minister”.

Nothing in that about a third report and leaving it to the experts.

 

The people didn’t come

In his inauguration speech Donald trump said “You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

It’s not clear exactly what he was referring to there. But it appears to not be about the crowd at his inauguration.

From Vox: Photos: the crowd at Donald Trump’s inauguration vs. Barack Obama’s

Taken at about 11:30 AM ET in 2009 at Barack Obama’s inauguration:

gettyimages_84374977

Taken at about 11:04 AM ET in 2017 at Donald Trump’s inauguration:

screen_shot_2017_01_20_at_11-04-49_am

Federal and local agencies have estimated that anywhere from 700,000 to 900,000 people will be in Washington, DC, today for Trump’s inauguration. That’s roughly half the number of people who attended Obama’s inauguration in 2009. It’s also less than the turnout for Obama’s 2013 inauguration, which drew 1 million people.

Trump has a lot to do if he wants to be a popular president.

Labour sleepwalking towards a nightmare election

Labour really needed to start election year strongly. There is no sign of that so far.

Labour had a fairly ordinary year in 2016. And ordinary wasn’t good enough.

Andrew Little seems to have established himself as unchallenged leader and has kept the Labour caucus under control, but he has failed to grow into the job.

Mid year Labour signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Green Party, with the apparent aim of presenting a joint approach as a government-in-waiting. Some said that it was a game changer. It seems to have changed nothing – to the contrary, it has entrenched Labour as a struggling mid level party that requires another party as a crutch.

Labour had some successes later in the year. They were very pleased with their efforts in the local body elections, especially in Wellington (ex leader Phil Goff managed in Auckland more on his own).

They had a successful by-election in Mt Roskill, with Michael Wood replacing Goff, and they said this was a great trial run for the general election.

The post-by-election confidence turned into euphoria when John Key announced he was stepping down. Labour seemed to see this as a gift from political heaven, another game changer.

But nothing much seems to have changed.

A Roy Morgan poll taken over the period of Key’s announcement showed a recovery for Labour to 28.5% from an outlier low of 23%, but their January poll just out has Labour slipping to 27%, and Labour+Greens dropped 3.5 to 39.5%.

Colmar Brunton’s last poll in November had Labour at 28%.

Little conceded recently that Labour was polling poorly – “I have to lead a party that starts from 2014 at a 25 per cent vote, polling at the moment at late 20s, 30 per cent sort of mark. So we have a lot of work to do, and I don’t underestimate that.”

But the work he has done so far this year is unimpressive.

This week Little announced that he wouldn’t be standing for the safe Rongotai electorate and would go list only. He should have said this as soon as Annette King announced she would  stand down before the Christmas break.

Little also joined the political fray over Pike River, attacking Winston Peters and offering a solution to re-entry. He will present a bill to Parliament that will dispense with responsibility for safety of entering the mine – something he had lobbied hard to embed in legislation.

On social media Labour has put some effort into negative campaigning, attacking Bill English a number of times. This seems to be repeating the failed strategy of attacking Key over a decade.

Labour thought that the Mt Albert by-election in February would be a good opportunity for them to promote themselves, get positive media coverage, and have another trial run for the general election.

But they may have walked into potential jeopardy, with Greens standing a candidate against them.

Standing Jacinda Ardern looks a bit like rearranging the deck chairs. At best Ardern will win the seat with a comfortable majority. That’s what is expected.

But it could be worse than that.If it looks like a jacked up joint publicity between Labour and Greens the voters may rebel.

Julie Anne Genter looks like a stronger candidate, and the Greens will want to put in a strong showing for themselves. They won’t want to just bolster Labour.

If Ardern’s vote slips too much, and if Genter seriously challenges her, it could turn to custard for Labour. The reality is that the best way that Green can grow their vote is to cannibalise Labour support.

Little and Labour really have to up their game. So far this year there is no sign of that happening.

Little has said their will be few if any major policy announcements – they will concentrate on highlighting common policies with Greens.

Little will share his ‘state of the nation’ speech platform with Metiria Turei.

There is no real leadership from Little, there is no real leadership from Labour. They look nothing like a head to head competitor with National.

There may be some big change or some big event that turns out to be a real game changer for Labour. Little may suddenly find a way of engaging and impressing. Plodding along won’t suffice – they need to change their game significantly.

But at this stage Labour looks like they are sleepwalking towards a nightmare election.

President Trump

20 January 2017 in the United States of America

trumphailtothechief

“What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.”

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

“America will start winning again, winning like never before.”

“I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.”

“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.”

“We will shine for everyone to follow.”

“We will unite the civilized world against radical Islam, which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.”

“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

“When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

“We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.”

“We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.”

“So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:You will never be ignored again. ”

“Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.”

Full text of President Trump’s speech.

And for balance, here it is at Fox.

Media watch – Saturday

21 January 2017

Facebook: NZ politics/media+

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised unless obviously malicious from anyone breaching site protocols, or spam.

Open Forum – Saturday

21 January 2017

Facebook: NZ politics/media+

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised unless obviously malicious from anyone breaching site protocols, or spam.

Springbok tour

There’s a few standard questions that seem to get asked of any Prime Minister and party leader, like have they smoked cannabis. And what was their view on the Springbok tour. Bill English has been asked that.

Newshub: Bill English was pro-1981 Springbok Tour

Prime Minister Bill English admits he was “probably for it”.

“I was keen to see the tour happen – thought sport shouldn’t be mixed with politics.”

“It helped persuade me particularly as a politician to be committed and spend time on the Maori related issues in New Zealand and I’m pretty satisfied about where that’s got to,” Mr English says.

When Mr English’s predecessor John Key was first asked about his stance on the tour he couldn’t recall, saying: “I can’t even remember… I don’t even know.”

While the comments attracted some controversy, Mr English says it’s feasible someone could lack an opinion on it – despite how divided the country was at the time.

“New Zealanders aren’t always motivated by arguments, political issues, they like a quiet life,” Mr English says.

Some in social media have been quick to ridicule English, both for supporting the tour and for being a bit vague. It is something Key was often criticised for, by a few people who thought something that happened about 35 years ago is of great importance.

The tour is a distant memory for many people, and more than half the population have no memory of it – they weren’t born then, or where very young.

I’m not surprised that English is not totally clear and succinct when asked about the tour off the cuff.

People who went on every protest march they could, or who watched every game they could, they may have very clear memories of their tour stance. Many more people were somewhere in the middle.

I have to stop and think through my views on the tour.  The Springboks arrived in New Zealand on 19 July 1981. My first daughter was born two weeks later. I certainly noticed some of what was going on through the tour but it wasn’t my highest priority.  I was living just about as far from the tour as one could, so it was only something in the news to me.

I was a keen rugby fan and in general supported the right of sports teams to tour. I would have opposed it if the visiting team had tried to dictate who could and who couldn’t play for New Zealand teams due to their race. But that wasn’t an issue.

So I thought the games should be able to go ahead.

But I also supported the right of protesters to make their views known.

I was strongly against apartheid, but I wasn’t convinced a ban would help. I thought sporting visits to a non-apartheid country might help by pressuring South African rugby and the South African government.

I was dismayed about the more extreme things that happened.

I was against the more extreme protests, the hijacking of protests by what appeared to be anarchists or people that just used it as an excuse for violence and mayhem.

I was against the extreme and violent reactions by tour supporters.

And I was against some of the very heavy handed tactics of the police.

For me it was a complex situation, and although the cause of the problems were black and white the issues for me in New Zealand were much less clearly delineated.

Regardless of what I thought about the tour over half a lifetime ago (for me) it is ridiculous that my views or anyone else’s views should be some test of goodness in 2017.

And I think that those who try to make a political issue out of it now are at best wasting their time, or more likely will be acting counter-productive to advancing their cause.

Car attack in Melbourne

There has been what appears to be an attack by car in Melbourne, with the current toll at three dead and about twenty injured. It is not thought to be a terror attack.

Sky News:  Three pedestrians killed by car in Melbourne

Three people are dead and many others injured after a man deliberately drove into a crowd in Melbourne’s Bourke St mall.

Up to 20 others are injured and a man has been arrested after a car struck pedestrians at the Elizabeth St end of the mall.

Victoria Police say they have arrested a suspect and that the indicent is thought to be connected to a stabbing earlier on Friday.

Officers told the media that the incident is not thought to be terrorism-related.

Attacks like this are horrific no matter who carries them out and no matter what their motive is.

UPDATE: The suspect has been shot and is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

The incident was related to a stabbing in the Melbourne suburb of Windsor earlier today that left the man’s brother in a critical condition, police said.

Police say following the Windsor stabbing, the man took a woman who is known to him hostage, but she managed to escape.

Labour-Green down in Roy Morgan

In the first poll since Bill English took over from John Key National have barely changed (up 1 to 46%) and Labour+Greens are down 3.5 to 39.5%.

It’s early days yet for time post-Key but the change of Prime Minister is showing no sign of being the game changer that some on the left had hoped.

And the campaign since late last year on Whale Oil to attack National and Bill English hasn’t nudged things down at all let alone by the 10% Cameron Slater has suggested might happen.

  • National 46% (up from 45)
  • Labour 27% (down from 28.5)
  • Greens 12.5% (down from 14.5)
  • NZ First 9% (up from 7.5)
  • Maori Party 2% (up from 1)
  • ACT 0.5% (no change)
  • United Future 0.5% (no change)
  • Conservative Party 0.5% (no change)
  • Mana Party 0% (no change)
  • Internet Party 0% (down from 0.5)
  • Other 2% (up from 1.5)

Polling was done from a very quiet time, from 3-16 January 2017.

The movements for Labour wouldn’t look so bad if quoted separately, but some on the left are very keen to combine the two.

roymorgan2017january

It’s very early in election year but this will have disappointed a few on the far right and many on the left.

http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7127-roy-morgan-new-zealand-voting-intention-january-2017-201701201143

The poll has been mentioned at The Standard but no post as yet. No mention that I can see at Whale Oil but they are often slow with fresh news there, unless it is favourable to one of their agendas.

1MDB scandal in court today

An international scandal involving trusts goes to court in New Zealand today. Matt Nippert has been covering this.

NZ Herald: Jet, mansions figure in $232 million foreign trust case to be heard in Auckland court

Auckland court to become scene of battle to prevent US seizure of assets, writes Matt Nippert.

An Auckland courtroom will on Friday become a battleground over Manhattan penthouses and a private jet amid allegations that they are the proceeds of a globe-spanning mega-fraud.

The High Court at Auckland is set down to hear a request from relatives of controversial Malaysian financier Jho Low who oppose the seizure of assets worth $230 million alleged by the United States Department of Justice to be the proceeds of crime.

US court filings said the relatives are beneficiaries of a number of New Zealand trusts that are claimed to directly own a number assets caught up the probe of a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB.

Also:

And:

New Zealand trust involvement:

The High Court at Auckland confirmed a defended hearing involving the parties was set down for Friday morning.

The filings claim a number of New Zealand trusts, with names as varied as Elephant Sun and Stars Tower, were the direct owners of assets including a Bombardier private jet, a hotel in Beverly Hills and a $55m Los Angeles mansion formerly owned by Fantasy Island actor Ricardo Montalban.

New York real estate owned by the New Zealand trusts includes two Manhattan apartments, including a $43m penthouse in the Time Warner Centre formerly owned by celebrity couple Beyonce and Jay-Z.

The DoJ have claimed these assets are collectively worth more than $230m.

According to Companies Office filings, the New Zealand trusts in question were established and directed by staff of Auckland law firm Cone Marshall, and also used the local trust specialists’ Stanley Street office as a mailing address.

Cone Marshall principal Geoffrey Cone declined to comment on the case outside of noting his firm acted on behalf of a Swiss-based trust group and that he had no direct contact with beneficiaries.

“This is a matter concerning the Rothschild Group and Rothschild Trust New Zealand for which we provide local director and office services,” he said.

Expect New Zealand politicians to get involved.