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.

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. 

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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.

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.

Open Forum – Friday

20 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.

Government respond to Little’s Pike River pledge

Yesterday Opposition leader Andrew Little said he would table a bill in Parliament removing liability from the directors of Solid Energy so that the Pike River Mine can be re-entered.

He said the government claimed the mine could not be re-entered because of the liability risk, so on the first day of the new parliamentary year he would seek leave to table his bill.

That would exonerate Solid Energy’s directors from being held liable for any harm to people taking part in the mine re-entry, he said.

Mr Little said the victims’ families were promised everything that could be done to recover their loved ones’ bodies would be done, and the government needed to follow through on that.

– Little bill to enable Pike River re-entry

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith responded today.

RNZ: Govt: Labour’s Pike River plan ‘hypocritical’

The Labour Party’s attitude to re-entering the Pike River Mine is hypocritical and unsafe, according to the government.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith accused Mr Little of a dangerous and contradictory position.

“It would be extraordinary to make an exemption from the Health and Safety at Work Act at the very place where 29 workers lost their lives from inadequate standards that triggered the new law,” Mr Smith said.

“This is a bid by Mr Little to outplay [New Zealand First leader] Winston Peters politically rather than taking a principled stand about the importance of a consistent approach to workplace safety.”

Dr Smith said his advice showed the mine had 100,000 cubic metres of methane and was likely to have a residual source of heat as well.

This would be capable of triggering an explosion if there was a source of oxygen.

The minister added there was a risk of rock falls from unstable strata fractured by the 2010 explosions.

“There is a significant difference between someone saying re-entry might be possible compared with company directors taking legal responsibility,” Dr Smith said.

There’s been a lot of other criticism of Little’s move. He lobbied for stronger safety provisions in the current law, and now wants to put them aside to allow re-entry into an unsafe environment.

Some of the Pike River families have tried to escalate mine re-entry into an election issue, but it’s early in the year and it will be difficult to sustain the party posturing.

Mr Tangerine Man

Different versions of Mr Tangerine Man (not from my first ever gig when I played it).

From the maestro:

A popularised version:

And a modern remodelling:

 

Temperature record for third straight year

Reports keep coming out of record world temperatures.

NY Times: Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.

In 2015 and 2016, the planetary warming was intensified by the weather pattern known as El Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean released a huge burst of energy and water vapor into the atmosphere.

But the bigger factor in setting the records was the long-term trend of rising temperature, which scientists say is being driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” said Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.”

I doubt that every year will set a new record, but the trend is upwards.

Scientists expect that the early months of 2017 will continue to show levels of warming beyond the norm, but likely not at the level of 2016 because a strong El Niño weather pattern is now subsiding.

worldtemperaturetrends

Are there any other scientific temperature records that show anything different?