Green lobbyists liaising over $20b Covid Recovery Fund?

Further to yesterday’s post, several green friendly groups have promoted the $20b of the Covid Recovery Fund that is currently unallocated in what looks like coordinated lobbying.

The Green Party saw the money already allocated to ‘green’ policies – about $1b – as a start of the ‘Green reset’ – from RNZ: Parties look to secure wins from $20b ahead of election

…co-leader James Shaw has a few ideas about how to spend a large chunk of cash.

“The climate crisis, the housing crisis, the crisis in our rivers and in our marine environment and in our forests. Our three waters infrastructure, you know the water that’s coming out of our taps is unsafe to drink and it does occasionally run dry. So there are a series of things that we need to fix, all of which create jobs,” he said.

Shaw said it was actually the perfect time for parties to start offering up their own visions for the rebuild.

Today’s budget announcement invests over a billion dollars in projects which will create jobs that restore our natural environment, while also investing in housing initiatives to help reduce housing inequality and ensure all New Zealanders have access to a warm, healthy home.

We’ve made it clear that New Zealand must keep sustainability at the core of its COVID-19 reset. We’re really proud to be a part of a government making long-term decisions which put us on track towards an Aotearoa where all New Zealanders, and our natural environment can thrive.

More in an email from the Green Party:

We have now officially kicked off our Green Reset from the COVID-19 crisis with the release of Budget 2020. We’ve secured massive investment in Green initiatives which will create thousands of jobs while improving life for people and protecting the natural environment.

In an email yesterday from ActionStation:

Yesterday the government announced their budget for 2020 and what we learned is that the Finance Minister has set aside $20 billion in the Covid-19 recovery fund that is yet to be allocated.

With an election coming up, those of us wanting something different out of yesterday’s budget have a clear window of opportunity to demand it.

In the last seven weeks, we’ve been challenged to reflect on our values, how we care for one another, and what’s important. The $20 billion left in the Covid-19 recovery fund is an opportunity to take what we’ve learned and use it to reshape our economy, democracy, the way we care for our environment, and the way we care for each other.

Let’s create this vision together, then work collectively to bring it to life:

  1. We will combine the power and wisdom of thousands of ActionStation members to choose the big ideas via this survey.
  2. We’ll launch the results as a people-powered community vision called The People’s Regeneration Plan .
  3. Together we will campaign to build the pressure and people power needed to make our vision a reality.

Now is the time for the ActionStation community to collectively decide what type of Aotearoa we want to build beyond this crisis, and that’s why we need to be clear about what we’re asking for.

An email from Greenpeace:

Did you hear yesterday’s Budget announcement? A whopping $1bn has been set aside for restoring nature, which is fantastic. But the climate missed out.

But, so far the Budget announcement doesn’t add up to the transformation we need. Opportunities to address the climate and ecological crises have been missed, so our work is far from over.

With thousands of people like you signing our Green Covid Response petition and supporting this proposal, we know New Zealanders support a greener, healthier and more resilient economy that puts people and planet first.

We couldn’t have got this far without you – so thank you. And with you on our side, I know we still have a chance to make this a reality. Around half of the funds – $20 billion worth of investment – is yet to be announced, and that is reason for hope – and action!

We will work hard to make sure that the remaining $20 billion is used to build a nation that works in harmony with nature. A society where people, not corporations, are at the heart of governance. Where the economy works within our planet’s environmental boundaries.

I think we can expect more of this. There have been links between the Green Party, Greenpeace and Action Station, and all have similar goals – and now they have similar eyes on the $20b.

Of course there will be other groups lobbying hard for some of the $29b for their favoured policies. And the Green and NZ First parties will have their own ideas on how they can benefit from using some of the $20b to further their ideals and enhance their re-election prospects.

Time will tell what the real intention of the $20b made available in the Covid Recovery Fund is actually used for.  If it’s not all actually required to help New Zealand recover from the Covid epidemic than it could pay back the huge loans taken out to fund dealing with the Covid crisis.

Action Station report on hate speech, versus free speech

It is actually working a lot, but often not how people want it to work. Can we do much about it? or do we just have to go with how things evolve, both good and bad?

Action Station has just released  The People’s Report on Online Hate, Harassment and Abuse.

It is not ‘the people’, it is ‘some people’ who have done the report. Good on them, but they should not claim to speak for ‘the people’.

For decades, the internet has been hailed as a groundbreaking interactive marketplace of ideas, where anyone with access to data and a device can set up a stall.

Online tools have made it possible to communicate easily with friends and whānau around the world, sell and purchase goods and services, enrol to vote, raise billions for charitable causes or start-up businesses, and even hail a ride or meal to your front door.

The internet has helped give people who have historically been locked out of democracy by discrimination or poverty a way to voice the needs of their communities and organise at scale.

Over the past four years, ActionStation members have used digital tools and platforms to connect and collaborate with hundreds of thousands of other New Zealanders who share their vision and values to engage powerfully in our democracy.

In the 21st century, social media has become the new public square.

The downside to this unparalleled information exchange and connectedness is that the internet also provides a powerful and relatively cheap way for groups and individuals to spread hate, fear, abuse and mis/dis/mal-information across time and space, and without transparency.

The term ‘fake news’ has been widely used to refer to a range of different kinds of false and harmful information.

While ActionStation has been at the forefront of exploring and facilitating digitally-enhanced democratic participation in New Zealand, we have also been exposed to these downsides.

It is that exposure that has prompted this report.

In 2015, the National-led government passed the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA). It states that a digital communication should not:

“…denigrate a person’s colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.”

In 2019 we ask: has the Act worked? Is the internet free from prejudice and harm? Do people feel safe to participate freely in conversations online? Or is there more work to do?

They say their findings show:

Why is it worse for people from some groups?

The Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015) is a powerful piece of legislation that was enacted to address the issue of online abuse. However it is not sufficient to address every issue of online hate, harassment and abuse.

The law (while broad) is designed for only a limited number of situations where online harm occurs. Specifically, it appears to work well in many cases of one-to-one abuse, where an individual who is being abused can contact Netsafe and identify the abuser.

There have however been instances, some high profile, where seemingly clear cut cases of abuse and harassment are deemed to not breach the act,such as when a Facebook user commented that writer Lizzie Marvelly should try “bungy jumping without the cord”.

The tools of the HDCA appear unsatisfactory in other cases of serious abuse online, such as when an organised group (often using ‘shill’ accounts and fake identities) are targeting an individual. There are also cases where hate is being directed at a group of people, but not necessarily targeted at an individual who can lay a complaint, where there is still a considerable harmful ‘bystander’ effect.

In New Zealand, the Human Rights Act currently includes provisions that cover both civil and criminal liability for the incitement of racial disharmony. However, the threshold is extremely high and there is a profound scarcity of successful racial disharmony claims to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Racial disharmony provisions only apply to instances where hostility is stirred up amongst people other than those who are the subject of the hate. The expression of hatred in and of itself (or the effect of that hatred on the person or group it is directed towards) is not sufficient for the law to apply. The hate speech provisions in the Human Rights Act also apply only to colour, race, or ethnic or national origins and not religion. ‘Hate speech’ against religion, or even religious people, is not unlawful.

Any laws against hate speech and harassment should be generic and protect anyone who is targeted.

One of the most significant themes to emerge in this research was the need to attend not just to individualised concerns (e.g. individual rights and privacy) but also to collective dynamics and wellbeing. Therefore any policies that are developed to protect people online and ensure their ability to participate freely and safely online need to have at their centre indigenous and collectivist thinking, especially as Māori have historically (and presently) been among those who are most targeted by hateful speech.

Māori digital rights advocate Karaitiana Taiuru says that two Māori values in particular could help support those who build the technology that permeates so much of our lives to build tools for a safer, better internet. Manaakitanga (How can we build tools that encourage users to show each other care and compassion and work to uplift each other?) and Kaitiakitanga (How can we build tools where all users become the guardians of the experience and data in a highly trusted, inclusive, and protected way?).

I’m not sure why ‘indigenous thinking and values’ in particular should provide the solutions. That’s ironic given their support of diversity. Surely all thinking and values should be considered.

After that their report stops. But back to the start they have some action – Sign the Petition – but as of now the link to that doesn’t work, but another link gets to it:

The time has come for urgent action to address the significant threats online hate, harassment and abuse is causing to New Zealanders.

We are asking Justice Minister Andrew Little to implement our recommendations and work with the online platforms to ensure our online spaces  are safe for everyone.

If the internet is the new public square, it is imperative that lawmakers ensure the ability of all New Zealanders to access reliable and credible information about issues of public importance, and the ability of everyone in this country to participate safely in public conversations about those issues.

Add your name to the petition to show your support and help us fight for change.

Proposed solutions:

If the internet is the new public square, it is imperative that lawmakers ensure the ability of all New Zealanders to access reliable and credible information about issues of public importance, and the ability of everyone in this country to participate safely in public conversations about those issues.

Based on our analysis, we are making four recommendations to the New Zealand government:

Remove: Ensure platforms are active in removing harmful content quickly. An investigation into the most effective method to do this would be required, but the responsibility should be placed on the platform, not the users.

Reduce: Limit the reach of harmful content. Neither the platforms nor the users who create hateful and harmful content should benefit from algorithms that promote divisive and polarising messages.

Review: The New Zealand government needs to review our hate speech laws, the Harmful Digital Communications Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Harassment Act and the Human Rights Act to ensure they are fit for purpose in protecting people online in the 21st century.

Recalibrate: One of the most significant themes to emerge in this research was the need to attend not just to individualised concerns (eg individual rights and privacy) but also to collective dynamics and wellbeing. Any policies that are developed to protect people online need to have indigenous and collectivist thinking at their centre. They should also ensure that all internet safety / hate speech agencies funded by the Crown reflect the increasing diversity of our country.

They won’t solve all of the problems with the internet, or even all the ones described in our report. But it would be a start.

More is explained at The Spinoff:  The internet is the new public square. And it’s flowing with raw sewage by Leroy Beckett, the Open Democracy campaigner at ActionStation

Speech and behaviour online are issues that certainly need to be considered, but far more widely than by Action Station.

Free speech is a fundamental part of an open democratic society. Protections which limit free speech need to be carefully considered.







Hosking should moderate election debates

I’m not a fan of Mike Hosking. I rarely watch or listen to him or read his opinion pieces.

He has been named as moderator for the 1 News Debates and some on the left are trying to kick up a storm and get him kicked off the debates. For this reason, trying to demand who shouldn’t be involved, I think Hosking should remain as moderator.

In any case he did a good job of moderating debates last election. The opposition to him moderating is just another example of social media pettiness.

Jacinda Ardern has said she doesn’t care who the moderator will be, she will be focussed on her opponent, Bill English. As she should be.

1 News:  TVNZ’s election leaders debate dates and coverage team for September’s vote revealed

Newstalk ZB and Seven Sharp host Mike Hosking will be the moderator for the three televised leaders debates while Breakfast host Jack Tame will lead the Young Voters Debate.

The leaders debates between National Party’s Bill English and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern will take place on August 31 and September 20 at 7pm.

A multi-party debate on September 8 will bring together the potential coalition partners of the major parties, while the young voters debate will take place on September 14.

Action Station have started yet another lame petition:  Replace Mike Hosking as Election Debate Presenter

Please replace Mike Hosking as the host for the upcoming election debates on August 31, September 14 and September 20. Hosking is well known for his aggressively right wing views in his segments as a political commentator. As such, Hosking cannot be trusted to present each candidate fairly in a moderated debate.

Section 4(1)(d) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 requires broadcasters to maintain standards consistent with the principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

I’m not aware of any evidence or record that should rule Hosking out.

Why is this important?

It is vital that the nationally broadcasted election debates offer an unbiased opportunity for candidates representing their political parties to debate on policies. Mike Hosking’s socially irresponsible style of presenting has led to public campaigns for his removal, notably his comments on Andrew Judd in 2016. Hosking is an inappropriate choice to present the election debates in a fair, unbiased manner.

It’s important that activist groups do not get to dictate who should moderate debates.

This petition is ridiculous. It will probably get a similar number of signatures (actually clicks online) that all the other organised Action Station petitions get.

Wipe All Income Taxes Under $50,000

Wipe All Income Taxes under $50,000 – END TAX SLAVERY

Campaign created by James Hawthorne

Income taxes are the primary cause of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and child abuse.

Please sign the petition to WIPE ALL INCOME TAXES UNDER $50,000 NOW- and do your bit to alleviate the State sponsored poverty and resulting child abuse in NZ!

If you tax tobacco – people smoke less. If you tax incomes, people work less.

It’s a mathematical fact.

New Zealand was built on the back of 10-15% income taxes, with NO GST. Our forefathers built all of the roads, 10’s of thousands of state houses and hydro electric power stations all over the Nation. Fast forward to 2016 and we have 20-30% income taxes with a further 15% GST on everything you purchase, plus 70c per litre on petrol, billions more on tobacco and alcohol, all before you pay your rates and rents – up to 70% net taxes on incomes in New Zealand.

This is communist level taxation on the NZ public, which has led to a hundreds of thousands of Kiwis now relying on Government welfare to survive.

Through very increasing taxation, NZ has now become a communist Nation with all of the standard symptoms of communist regimes – the highest child abuse rates in the Western World, some of the highest domestic violence rates in the so called ‘developed’ world, the highest drug and meth addiction rates in the world, and an ever increasing murder rate.

When people are forced to live on substandard welfare payments, sitting around all week waiting for their next food check, the result is a sense of helplessness, drug and alcohol addiction (another big earner for the communist Government), domestic violence and child abuse.

The NZ Government is directly responsible for most of the record child abuse we now see in communist NZ.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, when the foreign bankers bailed themselves out using tax payer sureties (the act of a communist regime – in a true capitalist regime, any business which fails would be allowed to fail, not be bailed out by tax payers- that is the very definition of communism!) – these same criminal bankers have been printing (counterfeiting) hundreds of billions of new money with no asset backing – this has led to every increasing inflation.

Food prices in NZ have more than doubled since 2008, with staple products such as bread, milk and cheese all more than doubling in price. Other food items have not only doubled, but are  now far lower quality, with refined sugar and other poisonous additives being added to most food items to help disguise the rampant inflation.

This is a scientific method being employed by the food corporations to hide inflation and is causing an obesity epidemic and deaths across low income NZ. Investors who get their hands on large chunks of this counterfeit money are putting it all into property investments, which coupled with an unrestrained immigration policy by our foreign bank run government, has caused a housing bubble never seen in NZ’s history, with rents more than doubling in most areas where low income NZ’s work.

The net result of this money printing by the criminal foreign bankers has been 100-200% inflation in NZ since 2008, with almost NO increase in wages or welfare payments. This has forced thousands of Kiwis into living on the streets and in their cars, with ever increasing deaths, domestic abuse and child abuse, including record numbers of child murders.

The NZ public cannot control the criminal money counterfeiting of the foreign bankers – but we can control the relief we provide to Kiwis suffering in NZ.

And the solution is very simple- to WIPE ALL INCOME TAXES UNDER $50,000 IMMEDIATELY.

This will allow Kiwis to work and feed their families, leading to less domestic violence and child abuse overnight.

The child abusing criminals in NZ Government and media who work for the foreign bankers will of course argue that such action is impossible, because they need the money for “hospitals, schools and pensions” – and this is a lie.

The fact is that they are already borrowing up to $400 million of counterfeit money every week from these criminal foreign banks – money printed out of thin air – and as a sovereign Nation, there is nothing stopping the NZ Government issuing its own money (and/or bonds) to finance any deficit caused by this policy.

If the foreign bank controlled puppet NZ Government criminals use this excuse, all they are essentially saying is that we are slaves in NZ to these criminal money counterfeiting foreign bankers, who have the exclusive right to counterfeit money and lend it to NZ at interest, but for some reason we do not have the right to issue our own money instead. Those who use this excuse are telling you that you a slave to these foreign bankers who have rights over the Kiwi economy and Government that you do not have.

This is a con and a lie and must be rejected as an excuse. If these criminal foreign banks can invent their own money to lend to us, then the NZ central bank should have that same right, if demanded by the public.

The other reality, is that by removing income taxes under $50,000, small and large businesses across NZ alike, will all be able to afford to hire more staff. A small business for example who can now hire staff without having to pay 20-30% income taxes on their salaries, will have  20-30% more money to negotiate with, leading to increased job opportunities and employment almost overnight.

This increased economic activity will start soaking up the unemployment levels in this Nation almost overnight, leading to less and less people sitting around unemployed . Those same people sitting around on crippling welfare will also realise that they can now go out and work and keep ALL of what they earn, providing an incentive to get off their bums and go and work. The net result is a booming economy and less and less need for welfare payments.

It makes perfect sense doesn’t it? And the only reason it hasn’t been done already, is because all of our politicians are working for these criminal foreign bankers, who have hijacked our economy and are imposing communism, welfare, taxation, homelessness  and child abuse upon the NZ public with their money counterfeiting, taxation and welfare policies.

They are in fact killing off the NZ poor and creating a child abuse industry for the NZ justice system and judges – none of whom have the morals, ethics or courage to stand up and rule in favour of such policies – instead they send people to jail for “income tax evasion” – enforcing the child abuse and killing off of NZ’s working poor.

These bankers and the judges and politicians who work for them (funded by our tax money) are a disease on the face of NZ and are responsible for most of the violent child deaths we now see in communist NZ  – they are professional child abusers, dressed in expensive black robes and suits.

The solution is for the NZ public to stand up and demand an end to compulsory poverty and welfare slavery by WIPING ALL INCOME TAXES UNDER $50,000 and letting the NZ economy grow on its own accord – alleviating the poverty, homelessness and child abuse currently being forced upon us by these black robed and suited communist criminals who pose as “free market capitalists”.

Please sign the petition to WIPE ALL INCOME TAXES UNDER $50,000 NOW – and do your bit to alleviate the State sponsored poverty and resulting child abuse in NZ!

Supplied by email. 

An odd ‘panel of experts’ for media review

There’s a number of curious aspects to this story at NZ Herald: Campbell Live axing prompts review

A group of Kiwi movers and shakers will undertake a review of New Zealand public broadcasting in the wake of Campbell Live’s axing.

Campbell was axed from a commercial television programme that had nothing to do with public broadcasting.

Why the focus on one media presenter? John Campbell left his TV3 show a year ago, so why now?

Community campaign group Action Station is concerned about the decline of public-interest journalism since TV3’s flagship news magazine show was canned last year, amid a public outcry.

The panel’s findings will be presented to the Government in the run up to next year’s General Election.

So it is timed to be used as an election campaign next year.

It has enlisted a panel of experts – including economist Shamubeel Eaqub, singer Lizzie Marvelly, former MediaWorks news boss Mark Jennings, TV and film director Kay Ellmers and policy analyst Wendy McGuinness.

What is singer Lizzie Marvelly an expert on? “She is best known for her career as a classical crossover vocalist and her many performances of the New Zealand national anthem at rugby games” (Wikipedia).

Where is Eaqub’s media expertise? Elmers? She works for Maori TV. McGuinness? Mark Jennings is the only one who appears to have notable media experience.

Action Station spokeswoman Marianne Elliot said “People are very worried that this kind of campaigning is disappearing from television in particular.”

Action Station organises petitions, social media swarms and mass emails to decisions makers. It also creates crowd-funded creative campaigns and offline actions like creative stunts, vigils or hikoi.

The not-for-profit organisation was involved with the Save Campbell Live campaign and teamed up with Auckland teacher Virginia Woolf and policy analyst Fiona Gordon to help stop the trade of ivory in New Zealand.

I think that Action Station has had some close connections with the Greens. They don’t appear to be politicallybalanced or  non-biased.

Here are some of Action Station’s current campaigns:

What is Action Station? According to their website ‘About’:

ActionStation is an independent, member-led not-for-profit organisation representing over 100,000 Kiwis holding power to account, standing for a fair society, healthy environment & economic fairness.

ActionStation is a vital piece of democratic infrastructure for Aotearoa in the 21st century, here to reinvigorate our proud tradition of participatory democracy and people power, using the potential of new technology. 

While they may try to keep a separation they were set up by people closely involved with the Greens, and their campaigns are closely aligned to Green campaigns. The above list of campaigns would not look out of place on the Green website.

To all intents and purposes Action Station looks like an activist arm of the Green Party.

So an odd panel for a media review that is timed to coincide with the next election, run by the very Green-like Action Station. It may not be very politically balanced, nor does it appear to be a very vital ‘piece of democratic infrastructure’.

A slanted Panama/trust poll

Activist group Action Station have commissioned and used a poll as a part of their campaign on tax and foreign trust issues – good on them for pushing for better tax and trust laws, but their polling and publicising are slanted.

The Herald reported on a UMR poll conducted for Action Station:

Panama Papers: Majority of Kiwis ‘concerned’ about New Zealand’s new reputation

Pressure over the Panama Papers on the Government is rising after a poll showed a majority of New Zealanders were concerned about the country’s new reputation as a tax haven.

A poll by UMR Research, conducted for activist group ActionStation, showed 57 per cent of respondents were “concerned” about New Zealand being a tax haven and the misuse of our foreign trust regime for tax evasion purposes. Just 23 per cent said they were “not concerned” about the issue.

ActionStation spokeswoman Marianne Elliot said the results of the poll spoke for themselves.

“A majority of New Zealanders are concerned that sloppy trust laws, left open by the current and former governments, have allowed the world’s rich to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Most New Zealanders are not satisfied with the Government’s current response,” Elliot said.

But the poll didn’t determine that a majority of New Zealanders thought that. Elliot has embellished the poll results with her own phrases.

Has Matt Nippert misquoted Elliot? No, he appears to have cut and pasted her words from an Action Station press release Poll shows Govt seen to be handling tax haven issue “poorly” apart from removing the first part:

ActionStation spokesperson Marianne Elliott says: “The polling shows that like ActionStation members, a majority of New Zealanders are concerned that sloppy trust laws, left open by the current and former governments, have allowed the world’s rich to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Most New Zealanders are not satisfied with the Government’s current response.”

Nippert also reported:

The UMR poll, of 750 people between April 14 and 18 and with a margin of error of 3.6 per cent, also asked respondents how they thought the Government had handled the fallout from the Panama Papers and whether they thought the review of foreign trusts by former PWC chairman John Shewan, was an adequate response.

Again that looks to be picked out of the press release. But there was a PDF attached that shows what was actually asked in the poll.

Using a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 means very concerned and 5 means not concerned at all, how concerned are you about New Zealand being a tax haven with foreign trusts being used by people overseas for tax evasion purposes?

  • Concerned (1+2) 57%
  • Neutral (3+ Unsure) 20%
  • Not concerned (4+5) 23%

Elliot portrayed this as 57% versus 23% – excluding 20% stated in the poll as ‘neutral/unsure’. Being neutral could mean unconcerned.

But worse is the loading of the question. It refers to New Zealand ‘being a tax haven with foreign trusts being used by people overseas for tax evasion purposes’ but this is a disputed accusation and unproven.

The second question:

Now, using a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 means very well and 5 means very poorly, how do you think the New Zealand government is dealing with the problem of New Zealand being a tax haven with foreign trusts being used by people overseas for tax evasion purposes?

  • Handling well (1+2) 21%
  • Neutral (3+ Unsure) 33%
  • Handling poorly (4+5) 46%

This is an even more loaded question stating that there is a problem of New Zealand  being a tax haven and is used for tax evasion purposes.

The third question:

As you may be aware the government has appointed John Shewan, former chair of PricewaterhouseCoopers, to review New Zealand’s foreign trusts laws. Do you think that this is an adequate response to the foreign trusts issue or do you think a full public independent enquiry is needed?

  • An adequate response 31%
  • A full public independent inquiry is needed 52%
  • Neither/unsure 17%

As well as this question implying that John Shewan’s inquiry may not be be full or independent it (Action Station) chooses to describe Shewan as “former chair of PricewaterhouseCoopers”.

They chose not to describe Shewan as:

  • one of the “leading tax practitioners” at PWC over 28 years,
  • nor that after that he was “an adjunct professor of accountancy at Victoria University” since then,
  • nor that he “has been appointed by Labour and National-led governments to official bodies looking into tax”,
  • nor that he served an appointment to the Tax education Office for 9 years,
  • nor that he was part of the Tax Working Group that advised the Government in 2009,
  • nor that he is “an established commentator on tax and policy matters,
  • nor that he has been involved also in a number of high-profile tax cases”.

Source Radio NZ: Who is John Shewan?

Action Station asked the questions they wanted to, got the results that they wanted,  Elliot embellished the results with her own phrases, and Nippert seems to have simply quoted her press release.

Before having this poll done Action Station had already decided their stance – see New Zealand is a Tax Haven. Prime Minister, this needs to change.

All this media attention has created an opportunity for change by exposing New Zealand’s role in endorsing international tax dodging. We need to move quickly to seize this opportunity and call for real change, making sure the message that our trust laws need to be reformed is at the centre of the debate.

So sign the petition now calling for our government to close the loopholes that allow the world’s rich to escape paying their fair share in tax by using foreign trusts in New Zealand. We do not want New Zealand to be a tax haven for the world’s wealthiest 1%.

This is how Action Station describes themselves:

ActionStation is here to help defend our common goals; a fair society, a healthy environment and accountable politics through effective online issues-based campaigning.

They should be held accountable too, in this case for using questionable poll practices and then misrepresenting the results as a part of their campaign.

I’m all for questioning whether our tax and trust laws and practices are good enough. I look forward to the result of Shewan’s inquiry.

But I think a fair society needs fair campaigning on issues, and fair use of polling in campaigning.

TPPA: ‘Facts’ for and against

From the blue corner, the National Party has launched a website that claims:

TPP Fact Check

Setting the record straight on the TPP

They list a few False claims…

  • FALSE: The TPP will stop future governments from regulating foreign property investment
  • FALSE: The TPP will take away our sovereignty
  • FALSE: The TPP will prevent the government from meeting its obligations to Maori
  • FALSE: The TPP will drive up the cost of medicines
  • FALSE: Supporting the TPP is a left-right issue

…alternating with some True claims:

  • TRUE: The TPP will add an extra $2.7 billion to New Zealand’s GDP by 2030
  • TRUE: The TPP connects New Zealand to the world’s fastest growing emerging markets
  • TRUE: The TPP will remove 93% of all tariffs on NZ exports to TPP countries
  • TRUE: The TPP will improve environmental protections in partner countries

Registrant of the site New Zealand National Party.

And from the red corner Action Station has launched their own site


The facts,
minus the spin.

Supported by research from the New Zealand Law Foundation, and crowdfunded by Kiwis like you. This website is designed to help everyday New Zealanders understand the TPPA.

Save us the propaganda. We demand the facts.

This website was crowdfunded by ActionStation members who think it’s critical we go into the biggest trade deal of our time with our eyes wide open.

    (They are rather qualified after all…)

    (That’s a rise of 0.9% )

And they detail an action plan designed to oppose the TPPA.

Registrant of the site is Action Station Aotearoa.

  • TPP Fact Check: Setting the record straight on the TPP (National Party)
  • TPPA: The facts minus the spin (Action Station)

Does anyone know of a site that takes a balanced look at the pros and cons of the TPPA? I haven’t seen one that has an independent comprehensive look at what it all really means that isn’t strongly for or against it.

UPDATE: One News has put together TPPA – a simple list of facts

Anti-TPPA actions and lack of choice

A series of protest meetings around the country have been planned prior to the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which seems to be scheduled to take place in Auckland on February 4.

It is likely these meetings were being organised before the signing date was publicised this week.

Andrew Little said in a radio interview last week he knew the signing was planned for early February:

You know I just I am stunned, I was stunned to hear when I was in Washington DC that they are where lining up the 4th of February as a date for the Ministerial signing of the agreement, and I said to some of them, I said are you nuts?

So if Little knew about the signing schedule then presumably others did too, giving time to organise these meetings, which involves international speaker Lori Wallach.

Lori Wallach is the Director and Founder of Global Trade Watch, a division of Public Citizen. She is an expert and activist in global trade issues. Wallach has testified before Congress about the effect NAFTA, WTO, and other free trade agreements have on global citizens. She has played a significant role in the negotiations of many free trade agreements by acting as a consumer watch dog.

Books include: “The WTO: Five Years of Reasons to Resist Corporate Globalization” (1999)

– Wikipedia

Not surprisingly Wallach has associations with Jane Kelsey. They both appear to have spoken at another event in Auckland last month, according to this on the Fabian Society website:

TPP Out of the Shadows – Jane Kelsey & Lori Wallach

What they won’t tell us and why we should be worried about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Two of the world’s foremost critical voices on international free trade and investment agreements — Lori Wallach and Jane Kelsey — will deliver presentations and take questions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

December 3rd, 2012 6:30 PM   through   8:00 PM
University of Auckland
Old Government House Lecture Theatre
20 Princes St
Auckland, AUK
New Zealand

Two old campaigners against international trade agreements.

Kelsey is also campaigning via media:

Jane Kelsey: Secrecy on signing aims to thwart protest

On February 4, the Government intends to defy popular opinion and host the signing of the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in Auckland. We had to hear that from other governments.

Bookings at the height of holiday season would have been made months ago, yet our Government initially said no decision had been made and this week admitted it will be signed in Auckland but won’t say when or where.

One obvious reason for the secrecy is to thwart potential protests, a further example of the TPP trumping democratic rights. Never before has a New Zealand Government tried to sell such an unpopular international treaty.

But as well as the meetings there are likely to be other organised protest events.

An Action Station survey:

Leanne Watkins
If you’d like a say in the next actions –
Action station have launched a survey
You have until 6pm, before big planning meeting at 6.30

Here are their action suggestions:


Framing the narrative:




Action Station are a very well organised protest movement.  Like Wallach and Kelsey they are against trade agreements.

Greenpeace are also campaigning against the TPPA: Say no to the TPPA


But it seems that Wallach, Kelsey, Action Station and Greenpeace are not for choice. They oppose the TPPA and trade agreements.

Note the contradiction:

Say no to the TPPA

Say yes to choice

They oppose, they don’t actually want to promote choice.

If they were actually interested in and serious about democracy they would offer choices for both sides of the TPPA argument.



TPPA petitions

There are two separate petitions trying to stop the New Zealand Government from signing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, an online petition and a more traditional paper petition.

As reported yesterday by Radio NZ: TPPA petition gets thousands of signatures

A petition against New Zealand signing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement has gathered over 11,000 signatures in just two days.

Barry Coates from the ‘It’s Our Future Coalition’ set up the petition and said he expected more people to sign it.

“If we continue at that rate we’ll be in the hundreds of thousands of signatures. This petition particularly says to the Government ‘don’t sign the TPPA’. It’s a crucial point when our government signs it and we don’t think that they have a mandate to sign the agreement and this petition gives people a chance to say no.”

Barry Coates said the deal was designed to serve the interests of large corporations rather than those of people or the planet.

The petition doesn’t actually say to the Government ‘don’t sign the TPPA’. It says:

We, the undersigned, do not consent to the Government of New Zealand signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

It currently has 15,000 ‘signatures’.  It will probably get a lot more signatures over the next week or two.

Online petitions have been used to campaign against a number of things but they have generally been ineffective.

It’s confusing who is behind the petition. Here Barry Coates is named as having set it up.

But on the It’s Our Future website (that Coates is involved with) it states:

Our friends at ActionStation are hosting a petition opposing the signing.

Perhaps that’s because Action Station has the facilities to run the petition – and collect email addresses.


Action Station have been active in a number of social media campaigns.

ActionStation is here to enable the large community of Kiwis with shared progressive values to take powerful, coordinated action on urgent issues we care about.

They claim to be independent:

Independent and member-led, we are affiliated with no political party, and answer only to our members.

But people involved in establishing Action Station were also involved with the Green Party.

And Coates is also closely associated with the Greens. He was placed at 17 on the Green list in 2014 which was a position thought to have had a good chance of making it into Parliament. Should another Green seat become vacant Coates is next in line to become an MP.

Coates was a candidate for the Mt Roskill electorate and is still listed as a Green candidate on their website.

The paper petition was launched last month:

TPPA Free and Action groups petition the Governor General – “Save our Democracy”

TPP Free Wellington today launched a petition calling the Governor General to Command the government to put the question of proceeding with the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to a binding referendum.

This petition press release was posted on the It’s Our Future website. Signed paper petitions take a long time and a lot of effort, so it’s possible Coates and It’s Our Future and Action Station decided to try the much simpler and faster online approach.

The online source for this petition seems to be here:  No Mandate Do Not Sign TPPA – GG Petition

We’ve launched a petition calling the Governor General to Command the government to put the question of proceeding with the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to a binding referendum.

We have produced a number of resources to support the No Mandate – Do Not Sign TPPA campaign. 

The petition available here:

I think there’s no chance of this petition getting sufficient signatures before the signing which is in early February (possibly February 4).

Petitioning the Governor General is a novel approach but it would be a major change in how we do democracy if the Governor General became involved in Government processes due to a petition.

Here’s the explanation of why we take this approach.  

The Governor General is the appointed Guardian of our representative democracy.

The petition asserts that the Government has no democratic mandate for TPPA. The Government kept the text secret from voters at the last election.1 Without information, we have not mandated our elected representatives.2
Treaty negotiations Minister Tim Groser in July 2012 stated: “trade agreements involve concessions over the sovereign rights of countries”3
The enormous and unprecedented scale of TPPA requires a democratic mandate.4
Once in force, withdrawal might be impossible in practice, so the deal could not be undone.5
The petition states as follows:
We, the UNDERSIGNED citizens and residents of Aotearoa New Zealand, PETITION Your Excellency:
  1. to COMMAND the Government to put the question of proceeding with, or withdrawal from TPPA to a BINDING REFERENDUM; and
  2. to PROHIBIT the Government from signing any final agreement, or taking any binding treaty action UNLESS the People vote in favour; and
  3. to REFUSE Assent to any enabling legislation UNLESS the People vote in favour.

Our petition requires that the Governor General use his Reserve Powers6 to protect the democracy.

 That looks bizarre as far as democratic process goes.







Political pressure petitions

Petitions to put pressure on politicians or to promote or oppose policies have become common.They sometimes demand that heads must roll, a very negative reaction to something that is often politically charged.

Petitions are very easy to set up online. Are they useful? Most are ignored, although some get boosted by media attention.

There’s currently a petition calling for the White Ribbon Campaign to dump John Key as an ambassador after Key was involved in crass ‘jokes’ on The Rock radio station.

Is calling for Key to be dumped the best approach here? It hasn’t worked so far as White Ribbon has accepted Key’s explanation that he had no idea what the content of his radio interview would be.

Wouldn’t it be better to encourage Key to turn this very unChristmas-like ambush on him into an opportunity to make a positive point about the misuse and abuse of sexual/criminal jokes? I would have liked Key to do something along these lines.

But some people have chosen to try to shame Key and get him dumped from White Ribbon.

Which people?

Ken Clearwater from the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust said he found the stunt “bloody appalling”.

“Rape is not a joke, full stop. Regardless of the gender of the victim. The psychological damage done to men and boys is the same as to women.”

Fair enough for Clearwater describing the stunt as “bloody appalling” and standing up for victims.

The White Ribbon Campaign expects their Ambassadors to “embody the principles of the campaign” and they are chosen for “their willingness to challenge the behaviour of abusive men, and to convey key messages directly to their own communities.”

“I would certainly hope that John Key would not be treated any differently by the White Ribbon Campaign because he is the Prime Minister. The only question we should be asking is, does this behaviour uphold the principles of the White Ribbon Campaign?” says MacDonald. “If not, then he has to go. Personally I won’t be able to bring myself to support their campaigns in the future if he remains as an ambassador.”

But then he turns it into a pressure campaign, trying to get White Ribbon to do what he wants. I have concerns about this approach.

The petition was set up with Clearwater’s support by Action Station and Kyle MacDonald.

Action Station say they are “here to enable the large community of Kiwis with shared progressive values to take powerful, coordinated action on urgent issues we care about” and they are “independent and member-led, we are affiliated with no political party” but their formation had  links to Green Party activists – see How Green is ActionStation?

Issues currently featuring on their website as well as the dump Key from White Ribbon include “end the Serco fiasco”, climate change, anti coal, Key’s “abysmal track record backing sexual violence survivors” (from November), anti TPPA, anti flag referendum.

So they align quite left on the political activist spectrum.

And the person fronting the White Ribbon petition is Kyle Macdonald who describes himself as “psychotherapist and blogger”.

His blog is Off the couch – “a psychotherapist’s view of events and happenings in Aotearoa New Zealand”.  The Key/White Ribbon campaign features there.

The anti-Key petition also features prominently on MacDonald’s Facebook page, not surprisingly. But going back through his posts there you can get an idea of other topics of interest to him.

  • #‎TPPAnoway‬
  • Anti-John Key/flag
  • Got your ribbon on ? ‪#‎takethepledge‬ ‪#‎whiteribbonday2015‬
  • Looking forward to hearing @MaxRashbrooke talk at “Step it Up” on Monday – Tuesday ‪#‎inequality‬ ‪#‎nzpol‬
    Spending the day with some like minded folk
  • Listening to @GarethMP @grantrobertson1 outline the big issues for progressives in the next 10 years… ‪#‎NZpol‬ ‪#‎stepitup‬
  • I’ve encountered a fair bit of ignorance about poverty today. So I’m just going to repost this blog from last year..
  • On John Key and “child poverty due to drug abuse” – So even if this was true, and of course he hasn’t produced any evidence that it is, strong empirical evidence shows that socio-economic status, trauma and poverty strongly linked to risk for addiction.
    So he’s either lying, wrong or both…

It’s not surprising to see some of MacDonald’s political preferences. And they go back – here’s something from 2009:

I have received the following communique originated by NZ Association of Psychotherapists member Kyle MacDonald; an easy means for you to tell the Minister for ACC what you think about sexual abuse recovery rationing:

Grass Roots Political Action, a step by step recipe.

That details a letter to a Government Minister campaign, an update – “There’s also a petition, for what that’s worth”.

MacDonald also teamed up with Action Station on another petition campaign in June this year.

Psychotherapists and campaigners team up

The New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists have teamed up with grassroots campaigning movement ActionStation to call on the Government to drop new experiments using ‘social bonds’ to fund the delivery of mental health services.

“Over the past week a number of our members asked us to launch a campaign calling for an end to this experimentation with mental health funding,” says Marianne Elliott, National Director of ActionStation. “They were concerned about the perverse incentives this approach could create in the delivery of essential services to vulnerable New Zealanders.”

The New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists share these concerns and have publicly backed the petition.

“As we talked to our members, and I spoke with members of the general public it became clear that a lot of people are really shocked and worried about the idea of this Government using an unproven funding model with some of our most vulnerable Mental Health consumers” says Kyle MacDonald, New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists Chair of Public Issues.

Now none of this is a problem, MacDonald can team up with anyone and promote whatever issues he wants to.

But it puts some context around his John Key/White Ribbon petition and campaign.

I wonder if, from a psychotherapy angle, whether political pressure petitions and campaigns are the best way to achieve positive results.

I’d prefer some good came out of this rather than scoring a political scalp.