Anti-Israel speech in Auckland mosque

Stuff reports:  Calls to expel Iran diplomat from NZ after fiery anti-Israel speech ‘fuels radicalism’

An Iranian diplomat has been accused of fuelling radicalism with a fiery, anti-Israel speech at an Auckland mosque.

Jewish community leaders want Hormoz Ghahremani, first secretary of the Iranian Embassy, to be expelled after he appeared alongside speakers who denied the Holocaust and called for the “surgical removal” of Israel.

In his speech, Ghahremani said Israel was trying to “deceive the world” by pretending to be an advocate of peace when in fact it was fuelling terrorism and extremism in the Middle East to divert attention from the Palestine issue.

Muslim nations needed to unite against “the anti-human regime of Israel and discern their common enemy with profound insight”, he said.

He said Quds Day was established “to deal a powerful punch to the mouth of the cancerous tumour known as evil Israel,” and cited Imam Khomeini as saying that “if every Muslim were to spit in the face of Israel, Israel would drown”.

The annihilation of the “Zionist regime” had begun, he said, and Israel would not last for another 25 years.

Community elder Sayed Taghi Derhami, a Mt Albert accountant, told attendees at the event that Israel was a “cancerous gland” that had to be “surgically removed”.

It’s good to see this exposed, but sad to see this sort of divisive rhetoric in New Zealand.

Members of the Jewish community say it’s outrageous that the representative of a foreign Government should make such comments. The speech was in June but has only just come to light.

Ghahremani told Stuff he agreed the speech could be seen as inflammatory, but it had to be taken in the context of the event at which it was given. He spoke at a gathering to mark the annual Quds Day, initiated by Iran in the 1970s to support Palestinians and oppose Zionism.

Contacted at the Iranian Embassy in Wellington, Ghahremani said his speech was supposed to be private and he was upset it had been put on the internet. “It was something private, a small gathering. I was there to reflect the position of the Iranian Government.

“We do not recognise the Israeli Government, that’s not a secret. But we are not against their existence.”

A small private gathering – but it is still inflammatory and divisive language. Someone saw a need to make it public – good on them.

But it needs to be remembered that that is just a small minority. Coincidentally:

News this weekend of the aggressively-worded speeches comes after rallies against racism. New Green MP Golriz Ghahraman denounced racism at a rally in front of Parliament on Saturday.

Extreme rhetoric comes from different minority groups.

Ghahraman, who came to NZ from Iran as a refugee as a child, said on Saturday night that she was concerned that racist rhetoric was becoming more common place in mainstream New Zealand politics. ​”We are seeing this insidious racism creep into the mainstream,” she warned. “It’s important to note the Holocaust was the most harrowing of crimes against humanity.”

Unsurprisingly Israelis are unhappy with the speeches.

Juliet Moses, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Council, said the fact an Iran Government representative was making such inflammatory statements was concerning. “It’s not a great surprise in one sense, because statements like this come from Iranian leaders all the time, but when those words are being spoken in New Zealand it’s a very different matter,” she explained.

“What audience is being spoken to here and what are they believing and what messages are they taking from that? Clearly Islamist terrorism is becoming more frequent in Western countries, and Jews are essentially at the coalface.”

Moses said she hoped the Government would investigate and take action against Ghahremani. “Expulsion might be an option.”

Expulsion is always an option, but I don’t know if it is justified in this case.

What if the Auckland Council put this much effort into housing and transport?

The Auckland Council employs 234 communications staff at a cost of $45 million. They seem intent on talking about what they might do – perhaps a lot of these resources would be better targeted at actually doing, especially on challenging issues like housing and transport.

NZH: $45m bill for communications at Auckland Council

Auckland ratepayers are picking up a $45.6 million tab to run communication departments, employing 234 staff, at Auckland Council and five council-controlled organisations, according to a leaked review.

A “confidential draft” of the review, obtained by the Weekend Herald, has uncovered a huge blowout in communication salary costs at four council bodies.

Between 2013 and 2017, salary costs soared by 75 per cent at Auckland Council, 87 per cent at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) and 56 per cent at Auckland Transport.

Salary costs rose by 104.5 per cent at Panuku Development Auckland, which was formed in September 2015 from the merger of Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Property Ltd.

Just on ‘communications’?

The actual dollar figures of the communications salary totals, including the rises, at the council-controlled organisations are not included in the report, or available at this time.

The Communications & Engagement review includes media and communications, marketing, research and consultation staff.

Consultation with ratepayers is important, as is marketing, but 234 staff sounds a lot.

The review is one of four ‘value for money’ reviews commissioned by Auckland Council as Mayor Phil Goff strives to find savings and efficiencies in the council’s budget – one of his key election campaign pledges.

The findings of the review will confirm Goff’s concerns during last year’s mayoral campaign that there are too many communications staff at council and “way above what it could be”.

According to the communications review, a previous business case to improve communications at Auckland Council in 2014 largely failed. The 2014 goal was to reduce the number of communications staff to 92. Staff numbers have increased to 105.

The business case recommended council develop a strategy for communications and engagement. “No strategy has been developed,” the latest review said.

The review said there is no formal communications strategy across the council and CCOs. It calls for a strategy to achieve a co-ordinated, consistent and collaborative approach.

It also called for cost savings of 5 per cent a year for the next three years.

After a 2014 business case to reduce staff they instead increase staff and costs by 56% to 104.5%. Targeting a reduction of 5% seems lame and hard to have confidence in.

Property prices down in Auckland, up in regions

House prices in Auckland are down slightly over the past quarter, and has also been flat to lower in Tauranga and Christchurch and other urban areas except for Rotorua, Palmerston North, Dunedin and Invercargill.

RNZ: House price growth ‘runs out of puff’ in cities

Latest data from QV shows house price growth around the country slowing, with the national average climbing 4.3 percent in the year to September.

In Auckland, though values had grown 0.8 percent over the year, they dropped back in the last three months to an average of $1,039,066.

Values fell in a number of Auckland suburbs, including the North Shore and Waitakere, while rising in Rodney and the city centre.

QV national spokesperson David Nagel said the usual spring surge in listings had not happened yet.

“The reductions in quarterly value growth have extended from just the main centres last month to almost all the 15 major urban areas we track with the exception of Rotorua, Palmerston North, Dunedin and Invercargill,” he said.

Year-on-year growth was showing double digit gains in many provincial towns, but the quarterly figures revealed a gradual slowing of the property market in almost all city locations, he said.

“Values are reflecting small decreases in all but a few isolated pockets of Auckland while Tauranga and Christchurch have also shown a small decline over the past quarter.”

NZH: Auckland house values fall: lack of finance blamed

Auckland’s housing market stalled in the last three months with property values falling by 0.6 per cent and buyers unable to get finance being blamed.

The QV House Price Index showed Auckland values only rose a meagre 0.8 per cent in the last 12 months – the slowest pace of annual growth since April 2011.

Isn’t the flattening of prices in Auckland a good thing?  property inflation had been causing major problems.

Despite the drop, the average current value now stands at $1,039,066 – putting most houses out of the reach of first-home buyers.

Problems like that.

Nationally, values rose 1.1 per cent in the last three months to September and 4.3 per cent annually.

Last month, QV blamed winter, bank lending limits, the election and China’s crackdown on capital flows for national house value growth being the slowest in five years and Auckland values hitting their most glacial pace since 2011.

  • Hamilton values rose 1.3% in the last quarter and 3.2% in the last year.
  • Tauranga values fell 0.1% in the last quarter but rose 6.6% annually.
  • Wellington values rose 0.8% quarterly and 10.7% annually.
  • Rotorua values were up 4.5% quarterly and 16.2% annually.
  • Christchurch values fell 1% quarterly and 0.8% annually.
  • Queenstown Lakes values rose 0.7% quarterly and by 12.6% annually.

 

Labour lost in Auckland

Labour performed relatively poorly in parts of Auckland, and there are suggestions that is due to the ethnic/immigrant vote. The ‘Chinese sounding surnames’ misstep as well as their immigration policies will have played a part.

Labour recovered from what looked like a slide to oblivion to a creditable result in the circumstances, about 36% – although it should be noted that in mid 2013 before and just after David Shearer resigned as leader, they were consistently polling in the mid thirties and as high as 37%.

This election labour recovered the least in parts of Auckland. Greg Presland has done a quick analysis in Where did Labour gain its extra votes?

I then tallied the figures across geographical regions.  I treated the Maori electorates separately as clearly something happened there.

Basically the figures suggest the increase in the vote in South and West Auckland was disturbingly small, Wellington was good, Christchurch really good, provincial areas were good especially in the South Island, the University electorates all showed significant improvement in party votes and the Maori electorates performed out of their skin.

Here is the table:

Auckland South 3.70%
Auckland West 7.40%
Waikato 9.50%
Auckland Istmus 9.90%
Auckland North 10.30%
Central North Island 10.50%
Wellington 11.30%
Canterbury rural 11.80%
Northland 12.20%
South Island rural 12.30%
Christchurch 13.70%
Dunedin 15.20%
Maori 18.50%

A few comments:

  1. The South Auckland electorates barely moved.  Perhaps the Labour vote has been maxed out and there is going to be no more persuasion occurring.  Turnout clearly should be the strategy and voting levels are not great.
  2. The West Auckland results are disappointing.  If it was not for a healthy boost from Helensville (11.9%) the result would have been very mediocre…

…As for reasons for Auckland’s relatively poor performance I suspect that elevated real estate prices has made too many of us closet tories.  But organisationally it needs more dedicated resource.  If Labour wants to win in 2020 then it needs to make sure that Auckland is organised and ready to go.

Ex Labour MP Chris Carter commented in response:

Jacinta did extraordinarily well and Labour’s vote gain outside Auckland was impressive. It seems obvious to me as someone who campaigned in West Auckland for Labour for over 20 years that the failure to connect with “ethnic voters” was a key factor in those West and East Auckland electorates failing to lift Labour’s final result.

I spent 7 years as Labour’s Ethnic Affairs Minister and many other years as Labour’s Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson. There is no substitute for personal relationships and close engagement in building support in the Chinese, Indian, Korean and the dozens of other ethnic communities that make up a big slice of Auckland’s population.

To my successors as West Auckland MPs and to the current Labour leadership l urge you to attend every ethnic cultural event you are invited too, not just once but always.

I never had a free weekend in the whole time l was an MP because attending ethnic events was so critical. Indeed the job of Ethnic Affairs Minister was the least popular choice in Cabinet jobs because of Helen’s recognition that those migrant votes were so important and could not be ignored. We just had to out perform the Nats in building those critical personal connections.

I would like to think that my work in that area helped. Connecting in a very personal way with the 184 ethnic groups that help make up the greater Auckland area is even more critical now than it was in 1999.

How much has Labour dropped the ethnic ball? They put a lot of effort into Auckland, setting up an Auckland office and giving Matt McCarten free reign until the intern scheme turned to custard.

But their main target seems to have been young voters, a demographic notoriously difficult to get out to vote.

Labour promoted their disproportionately large Maori representation, and succeeded in getting an increased Maori vote and picking up all Maori seats.

But it looks like they have some work to do addressing the immigrant and ethnic population in Auckland.

Fuel pipeline repaired

The fuel pipeline between Marsden Point and Auckland that severely disrupted travel at Auckland Airport has been repaired.

RNZ:  Broken fuel pipeline replaced

The broken piece of pipeline that carries fuel from Marsden Point to Auckland, and which prompted dozens of flights to be grounded, has been replaced.

Since the 170-kilometre pipe was found ruptured 9 days ago and shut off, airlines have had to ration their fuel supply.

Refining New Zealand said the new piece of pipe passed a welding inspection last night, and they were now preparing to start putting fuel through it.

The agency said plans remain on track to deliver jet fuel into Wiri between tomorrow and Tuesday.

The flight plans of thousands of air passengers have been disrupted after the sole pipeline carrying jet fuel, petrol and diesel to the city from Refining New Zealand’s Marsden Point ruptured last week.

Flights are now returning to normal and the fuel restrictions on airlines have been loosened.

The tanker Matuku has been loaded with jet fuel and diesel and is due to leave the refinery at 5am on Saturday morning, bound for Auckland.

So things should be back to normal soon, hopefully with valuable lessons learned by swamp kauri diggers and by those who need to have contingency plans.

Song for the campaign – Serf City

‘Alvis’ posted:

There’s a song out now about NZ’s descent into the third world, or is it back to the middle ages? Released to coincide with the election:

More information on their blog: Serf City

This post is a heads up about the new single release from The Hopkinsville Goblins, “Serf City”, tied to some wider thoughts on the current state of things.

…see politics as a surrealist circus at best and a dance of death at worst. The truth probably lies halfway in between. Let’s face it. Democracy is basically a lottery in which you risk giving people you wouldn’t ordinarily piss on the power to control your destiny. I guess it beats fascism, but there are some sliding scales of democracy so you need to be careful what you are talking about.

Democracy at best is an illusion derived from the clever use of statistics. There hasn’t been a real mandate for any government to rule in any world power for longer than anyone can comfortably remember. Last year saw the big backlash against this, but the effect was even worse than the cause. Rock to the left, hard place to the right.

After the insanity around the world throughout 2016, the good people of New Zealand are now facing their own political circus in September this year. Yes, we get to choose from the same parade of ego-maniacs, carpet-baggers and crooks that have always called parliament home, plus the clutch of do-gooders who try (and fail) to keep it real.

All of this taking place while the country slides ever further into third world status. Possibly an exaggeration, but it wouldn’t surprise me if smallpox makes a comeback here first, or some new and unknown super, resistant-to-everything bug busts out here to decimate the tiny population as a warm up to taking down the rest of the planet. Plague and poverty are ours for the taking.

The Hopkinsville Goblins have a new single out. It’s a thinly disguised stab at life in New Zealand’s largest city – a place now so absurdly over-priced that even its own residents can’t afford to live there. For the few that can it’s probably a really nice place to be, although it does tend to rain a lot. For everyone else it’s … well, get the single and you can sing along to the chorus.

Let them eat lamingtons on the last bus home

Alvis describes themselves as “the agent on Earth for the Hopkinsville Goblins, passing on interstellar wisdom of the musical kind.”

It doesn’t look like Dominion Road

A bit of debate about what light rail would look like in Auckland:

Hooton: Queen St and Dominion Rd are roads with traffic.

Greater Auckland: They would have a dedicated right of way separated from car lanes with kerbs and signal priority at lights. Seattle’s LRT a better example

For example, like this:

dgkezq2v0aeqcpw

But it’s hard to imagine Dominion Road looking anything like that.

This is closer to reality (from the greater Auckland website):

Image: Artist’s impression of light rail in Mt Roskill.

Alignment

Most light rail routes are proposed to travel along the centre of the road (median alignment). Median alignment with side platform stops is the simplest and fastest solution for light rail operations, as it:

  • Reduces interaction with cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Allows for higher operating speeds.
  • Eliminates the impact of road traffic slowing down to turn left.
  • Minimises congestion by allowing light rail to travel separately.
  • Minimises impact on parking.

And even the artists impression is fairly flattering. Here’s a shot (Google street view) of Dominion Road during a very quiet traffic time:

DominionRoad

Two light rail lines down the middle of that will be a bit cramped. And here it is with more typical traffic.

ACT claim ‘minimum 600,000 new homes’

ACT claim that bu cutting ‘red tape’ and allowing subdivisions anywhere around Auckland that it would “allow, at a minimum, 600,000 new homes in areas like Waitakere, Karaka, and Clevedon”.

ACT reveals massive housing negligence

ACT Leader David Seymour has revealed the massive scale of potential home-building that has been blocked on the edges of Auckland.

ACT WOULD CUT RED TAPE TO ALLOW, AT A MINIMUM, 600,000 NEW HOMES in areas like Waitakere, Karaka, and Clevedon,” says Mr Seymour.

The figures were presented at the launch of Mr Seymour’s new book, Own Your Future, which opens with a story about a Waitakere family denied the freedom to subdivide their land and provide housing for their daughter and others, because their property lies just outside the Rural-Urban Boundary.

“By failing to open up this land like this for housing, successive Governments are guilty of gross negligence.

“Land use restrictions are now responsible for 56 per cent of the average Auckland house price, according to one of the Government’s own reports released last month.

“This cost is THE SINGLE LARGEST CAUSE OF POVERTY, INEQUALITY, AND SICKNESS IN AUCKLAND AND BEYOND.

“The poorest 20 per cent of households now spend 54 per cent of their income on housing. When the RMA was passed in 1991 it was only 27 per cent. That’s why we see kids living in cars and garages, going without.

“ACT says IT’S CRAZY TO BAN PEOPLE FROM BUILDING HOMES DURING A CHRONIC HOUSING SHORTAGE.

“National say they’ll build 34,000 houses in Auckland over the next decade, Labour says 50,000. ACT will rezone land for hundreds of thousands.

Here is how many homes could be built if just two restricted zones were reclassified as residential:

  • Countryside Living zone – 223,560 homes
  • Mixed Rural Zone – 403,965 homes
  • TOTAL: 627,525 HOMES

These house numbers are estimated on the basis of 27 homes per hectare (the same density as the Hobsonville Point development) on just one third of each zone’s land area.

WHERE WE COULD BUILD

Blue: Current residential, bordered by Rural-Urban Boundary
Yellow: Where ACT would allow homebuilding (Mixed Rural, Countryside Living)

They give a number of examples.

Freeing up enough land for 600,000 plus houses does not mean anywhere that number would be built.

‘Homelessness’ and inadequate housing

‘Homelessness’ has been a hot topic over the last few months, but a lot of political rhetoric gets in the way of an accurate picture. There is a significant difference between homelessness and inadequate housing, but the two are often combined as one problem.

Stuff:  Government ‘failing in most basic duty’ as 24,000 Aucklanders homeless, Labour claims

Labour has hit out at National over rates of homelessness, claiming it is failing in the basic duty of a government.

The allegations come after Auckland Council’s Homelessness Policy Project estimated 24,000 people in the region did not have adequate housing.

Phil Twyford, Labour’s housing spokesman, said the level of homelessness seen in parts of the country used to be something only seen in the United States or Europe.

“After nine years, National’s failure to address the housing crisis means we can no longer we pride ourselves on not leaving Kiwis on the streets.”

This appears disingenuous of Twyford.

Auckland Council’s Homelessness Policy Project, released on Wednesday, showed there were 20,296 people without a house in Auckland in 2013, according to census data.

SO the report is based on four year old data. They problem may well be worse by now, but the report can only guess at that.

Of those, 16,350 were sharing and couch surfing with others temporarily, 3175 were in temporary accommodation such as emergency housing, refugee camps and boarding houses, and 771 were sleeping rough.

Of the “20,296 people without a house” most of them, about three quarters of them, were living in something like a house.

Another 3175 were also accommodated, albeit temporarily. For many that will be inadequate, but they are still ‘housed’.

771 sleeping rough – actually homeless – is a lot, but it is nowhere near 20,000.

Some people choose to sleep rough. I have at times. It didn’t bother me, it was always temporary and I had other options – including staying temporarily with others – but technically I was ‘homeless’ at times.

For some people couch surfing is by choice, especially when travelling. A proportion of couch surfers will be tourists or temporary visitors, as will be some of those house sharing. Technically I’m house sharing with a family at the moment, and have been for over a year, but it’s not inadequate housing, we have the space for it.

But this may be just quibbling over some of the numbers. Except that it’s a pretty big quibble when Twyford refers to those in the ‘inadequate housing’ category as homeless. He is blatantly exaggerating.

There are real problems with housing that are a major concern.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said homeless people had a life expectancy that was about 20 years lower than the average life expectancy.

“One person dying on our streets or as a result of homelessness is one too many.”

Farrelly said the deaths of rough sleepers were due to myriad issues such as health problems, poor nutrition and continued exposure to the elements.

“We’ve had some very wet, cold nights in the winter so far and it is heartbreaking to think of people sleeping outside in these conditions.”

Another Labour MP trying to address housing problems – MP camps out to protest pair’s plight

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has accused the Ministry of Social Development of the ”character assassination” of two homeless Dunedin women, one of whom is pregnant.

Ms Curran is advocating for Kylie Taggart (30) and Amy Stuart (25), who are receiving emergency accommodation in motels.

Ms Curran slept in the Octagon last night in a tent to protest the women’s situation. She said she would sleep there every night until the women had a place to live.

Ms Curran said a lack of state housing and suitable short-term accommodation in Dunedin meant the ministry was relying on motels.

Each week, Miss Taggart and Miss Stuart must reapply for emergency accommodation.

Miss Taggart said she went into early labour last week and was admitted to hospital to be stabilised. She believes the stress of her situation was the cause. She is 26 weeks pregnant and has two other children in her care, while Miss Stuart has a 3-year-old daughter.

Both say they are trying hard to comply with the rules but feel harassed and belittled by Work and Income.

They were doing their best to provide a stable environment for their children in difficult circumstances.

But as is often the case this isn’t a simple story.

The Ministry of Social Development issued a statement on Friday that appeared to blame the women.

”We have been supporting both these mums with emergency housing special needs grants to ensure that they are not forced to sleep rough.

”They didn’t need to pay this money back; the priority was responding to an emergency need.

”One of the challenges we face is when clients repeatedly exhibit behaviour that makes them unattractive to landlords and many motel owners.

”What is really unfortunate is when the behaviour of some people not only affects them, but everyone in need. ‘In this case there is now two motels in Dunedin that are not willing to take any client referred by Work and Income.

”As a result the support now provided to both these women will need to be repaid,” the statement says.

Ms Curran said the women deny claims of antisocial behaviour.

But from a report on RNZ: Dunedin MP camps out in Octagon to highlight homelessness

Documents obtained by Checkpoint show landlords have taken the two women to the tenancy tribunal six times for not paying rent and damaging property.

The Social Development Ministry said it had not given up on the women, and that they had a high priority rating, but were difficult to house.

Ms Curran said the two women were forced into emergency accommodation because they have spent time in women’s refuges.

So it sounds like partners have been a part of the problem.

But it also sounds like the women have not been model tenants either.

RNZ: In a statement a short time ago the Ministry of Social Development says the two women have a high priority rating, but because they’ve repeatedly exhibited unattractive antisocial behaviour to both landlords and hotel owners, it’s been difficult to find them permanent accommodation in Dunedin.

And the Ministry’s Southern Regional Commissioner says “Following events overnight yet another motel is not willing to house one of the women, and only late today a short term alternative was found.”

“The people we work with often have a number of hurdles to overcome, and many lead chaotic lives.”

Money is obviously a major issue, but some people been put in bad situations, or have put themselves in bad situations, making accommodation difficult.

Difficult situations for some people for sure, but finding long term solutions can also be difficult.

Politicians overstating statistics doesn’t help, although I think credit is due to Curran for what she is trying to do.

Lions v All Blacks – 3rd test

LionsAllBlacks

Tonight’s 3rd test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks is one of the biggest and most anticipated games of rugby for a long time outside the Rugby World Cup.

There’s something special about a closely contested series. It is 1-1 after two tests, so everything is riding on this game.

The winner is already rugby, and no matter who wins the game will have benefited a lot from this series.?

Who’s going to win? I have no idea, both teams start the game on 0-0, and it could easily go either way.

There could end up being one dominant team, or it could be close all the way and come down to one piece of brilliance or one bad mistake.

It’s great to have a game to watch that is so full of interest and uncertainty.

Of course I want the All Blacks to win, but if they turn out to be no good enough then so be it.—

The Lions have won the toss and will kick off at Eden Park.

Half time 12-6 to the All Blacks.

The Lions have played well at times but the ABs had the better of the first half that’s been full of action. Two very good tries, but a few missed chances as well through handling mistakes.

The Lions need to come out in the second half with new energy and lift themselves or they may struggle as fatigue sets in. They don’t look as committed as they were last week.

Still anyone’s game, but advantage at this stage to the All Blacks, both on the scoreboard and on dominance.

An odd second half, very stop start, mistakes from both sides.

Final score 15-15, a drawn series.

The All Blacks seemed to see it as a failure, the Lions saw it as a success.

One very contentious decision where it seems that a penalty (kickable) to the All Blacks was changed to a scrum after referring to the video ref – I didn’t think the video ref could be used for general play decisions like that, it still looked like a deliberate play so offside, but the ref ruled and the All Blacks didn’t finish off so the result stands.