Geiringer on National’s gang ‘crack down’ policy

Yesterday Paula Bennett, the current Minister of Police, announced new policy that would ‘crack down on gangs and drugs’ – see National’s gang and drugs policy.

The most contentious parts of this policy:

  • Giving Police new power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members at any time to ensure they don’t have firearms through new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
  • Imposing new obligations on gang members on a benefit so that if they can’t justify expensive assets, they can have their benefit cancelled or be declined a benefit

Bennett conceded it would reduce the human rights of ‘criminals’ – at the search stage they have not been convicted.

@BarristerNZ (Felix Geiringer) tweeted:

A Twitter rant about human rights, & how human rights law does not interfere with the legitimate conduct of police investigations.

Human rights law merely sets a minimum standard of State behaviour that must be afforded to all so we live in a free & democratic society.

Human rights law does not exempt anyone from our criminal laws. It is not even a guarantee of good treatment.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act does not guarantee freedom from being searched, just from being unreasonably searched.

Our State isn’t prohibited from discriminating on the basis someone commits crimes, only on grounds like sex, race, religion, disability.

Powers to search usually require reasonable grounds –basically info that means it’s reasonable to think thing being searched for is there.

Limitations on our rights are also permitted so long as they are demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

Justifiable limitations need to be for a legitimate purpose, rationally connected to achieving that purpose, and proportionate.

National saying it will deny human rights to worst criminals is appealing to our basest instincts, but it doesn’t make policing sense.

It means conducting searches when a reasonable assessment of the information the Police holds gives no basis to justify such a search.

It means conducting a series of searches when that targets people on grounds of sex, sexuality, race, or religion, not just criminality.

It means conducting unreasonable searches, and doing so in a way that doesn’t reduce crime, or achieves little while intruding lots. In other words, it may legalise bad policing but does nothing to extend the powers of police doing good work to reduce crime.

Human rights are a collective, not just individual, good. We all benefit from their protection, & from the society they create.

But human rights law only works in this way if it is universal and inalienable. Don’t let National tell you otherwise.

Police can already search any place or vehicle w/o a warrant w reasonable grounds to suspect there’s a firearm in breach of the Arms Act or a lawful firearm used in serious crime, that a deranged person may use to hurt someone, possessed by subject of a protection order possessed by someone against whom there are grounds for a protection order, or that is evidence of serious crime or Arms Act breach.

If police have reasonable grounds to suspect a crime & reasonable grounds to believe there is evidence they can get a warrant. But also in many drugs cases, if they think the evidence may get destroyed while they wait for a warrant they can go ahead & search without one.

These are all powers that already exist. The suggestion that the police are somehow hamstrung in gang drugs & guns cases is fiction.


National’s gang and drugs policy

Yesterday Paula Bennett, the Minister of Police, announced new policy to ‘crack down on gangs and drugs’. It was controversial in particular because it threatened to reduce the human rights of people deemed to be ‘criminal’.

Here is National’s full announcement.

New crack down on gangs and drugs

National will redouble its efforts to stop drugs getting into the country, stamp out meth labs and disrupt the supply networks as part of a refreshed Methamphetamine Action Plan.

A re-elected National Government will invest $82 million over four years to tackle methamphetamine with a range of tough measures to clamp down hard on organised crime and drug dealers, Police spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

It will also fund more treatment places for those addicted to methamphetamine and other drugs.

“Gangs are increasingly pushing dangerous drugs into our communities and we are committed to stopping them, locking them up and seizing their ill-gotten gains,” Mrs Bennett says.

“National will redouble its efforts to stop drugs getting into the country, stamp out meth labs and disrupt the supply networks as part of a refreshed Methamphetamine Action Plan.

“We’ll also increase Police powers to stop gang members from committing crimes in the first place, backing up our investment in more Police officers and smarter policing and our tougher sentencing of offenders.”

A new National Government will spend $40 million over four years on drug treatment and education services including:

  • 1500 additional in patient drug treatment places
  • Community based treatment, prevention and education services provided by NGOs and Iwi

National will also invest $42 million over four years on a crackdown on gangs and the supply of serious drugs by:

  • Giving Police new power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members at any time to ensure they don’t have firearms through new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
  • Doubling the number of drug dog teams and introducing them in domestic airports, ferries and mail centres to clamp down on trafficking
  • Increasing penalties for manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabis from a maximum of two years imprisonment to eight years, but no changes to charges for possession
  • Imposing new obligations on gang members on a benefit so that if they can’t justify expensive assets, they can have their benefit cancelled or be declined a benefit
  • Introducing a new charge of ‘wilful contamination’ for people who contaminate rental properties
  • Introducing compulsory police vetting for anyone working at ports, mail centres or airport baggage centres (this includes contractors)

“These measures come on top of the $503 million announced earlier this year for 1125 more Police Staff, which included 80 police to target organised crime and drugs.

“Serious drugs like methamphetamine and the gangs who peddle them are a scourge on our society,” Mrs Bennett says.

“These drug dealers are destroying lives for profit and greed and these drugs have no place in our country.

“We need to help those that are already addicted and find ways of stopping new victims of this drug and the gangs who peddle them.

“Our investment in strengthening our borders will also help reduce harm because we know the most effective way to tackle this problem is to stop drugs reaching our shores in the first place.

“National is the party of law and order – we take the safety of all New Zealanders seriously. Police’s mission is for New Zealand to be the safest country in the world, and National wholeheartedly supports this goal,” Mrs Bennett says.

The $82 million over four years will be made up of $40 million from the proceeds of crime and $42 million of new funding.

Lack of urgency on mass killing by poison

Maggy Wassilieff made a good point yesterday about the spate of deaths as a result of synthetic drug use:

Somebody is lacing dried plant material with lethal poison.

This person is a killer. Why aren’t they being hunted down by every cop/soldier in the country?

If we had a sniper/terrorist at loose who had killed 8 people and wounded numerous others in Auckland over the last month, the whole shebang would be in lockdown.

Why do I get the impression that it’s business as usual?

I presume the police are doing some sort of investigation into the source of these lethal drugs, and the suppliers of these lethal drugs. But I haven’t seen any sign of urgency or effort.

Compare this to a case that began in November 2014,when there was a threat to lace milk powder with 1080. This had major trade implications and proved costly financially, it was despicable, but no one was harmed let alone killed.

Stuff: The 1080 milk crisis, from beginning to end

Police have arrested a man almost a year after threats to poison baby milk formula prompted an investigation costing $3 million, and safety measures involving more than 150,000 batch tests on milk products.

The case began in November (2014), when Fonterra and Federated Farmers received 1080-laced packets of infant formula along with a threat to contaminate retail supplies unless the Government stopped using the pest control.

The public knew nothing of this until March 10, when Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general Scott Gallacher and deputy police commissioner Mike Clement explained the threat at a press conference.

“I’m confident the public will solve this,” Clement said.

Prime Minister John Key assured people infant formula was safe to drink: “We are advised it is extremely unlikely anyone could deliberately contaminate formula during the manufacturing process and there is no evidence that this has ever occurred.”

This eventually resulted in a conviction and a sentence of eight and a half years in prison.

1 News:  Lengthy jail term for 1080 milk threat a deterrent, says Fonterra boss

The eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the Auckland businessman who threatened to poison baby milk powder is a deterrent to others, Fonterra’s boss says.

Sixty-year-old Jeremy Kerr’s attempts to blackmail Fonterra and Federated Farmers cost the companies involved and taxpayers $37 million.

Prime Minister John Key says Kerr’s threats that could kill babies were “just despicable behaviour”.

And Fonterra Managing Director Maury Leyland says the idea of that happening is terrifying.

“And that’s why the sentencing, I think, denounces the crime and provides an appropriate deterrent,” said Ms Leyland outside the High Court in Auckland.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Geoffrey Venning said the potential impact on New Zealand’s trade relationships with China and other countries was extremely serious.

The police admit the investigation was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

It was a difficult case to solve but the police eventually got a result. It was costly in terms of dollars and threats to trade.

But in the current illegal drug trade a number of people have died, and it’s safe to assume that many more have suffered, A large number of lives have been ruined by drug concoctions that are deliberately made to be addictive, and they are pushed to vulnerable people.

What are the police doing about it? Where is the public assurances that everything possible is being done to protect people from this spate of poisoning?

Why aren’t politicians jumping up and down and demanding more be done?

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has been saying something: Govt ‘not satisfied’ with synthetic cannabis death handling

Mr Dunne said the first he knew about seven deaths linked to unidentified psychoactive substances this month was about an hour before police made the information public in a news release.

That number rose to eight yesterday when a man died after becoming ill from smoking synthetic cannabis.

Mr Dunne was satisfied with the detection work police were doing to track down who was selling and distributing the drugs, which can contain a range of different and sometimes unknown chemicals.

“I’m not satisfied, though, with the information that’s being shared,” Mr Dunne told Morning Report.

“That information had obviously been known to police and the coronial officials for some time. I don’t think it’s reasonable that the government wasn’t made aware of that until virtually the last minute.”

The government was now coordinating a response from police, district health boards and Ministry of Health officials – something that could have been done earlier with better communication, he said.

Dunne has been left fronting for the government on serious drug issues again.

Where are the other MPs on this? Ducking for cover it seems.

Mr Dunne agreed that more liberal laws for natural cannabis could help.

“But there are two big problems in this issue – one’s called National and one’s called Labour,” he said.

“Both the major parties have consistently ruled out any change in this area.”

Because it’s just drug users (and isn’t a threat to business?) this doesn’t appear to be much of a concern to other parties.

NZ Herald: Drug deaths don’t warrant Government response – Prime Minister Bill English

English rejected suggestions that an urgent Government-level response was required this afternoon, instead saying that people needed to avoid illegal substances and show more personal responsibility.

Speaking at his weekly press conference this afternoon, English said he had asked for advice on any possible responses to the fatalities.

“[The advice] falls into two categories. It is an illegal drug, it has to be policed, and we are not the police force.

“But the most important thing here … is that people do not take these illegal substances that can kill them.

“That sense of personal responsibility is pretty critical to staying alive. They need to decide they are not going to take these drugs”.

I guess babies and their parents could have been educated about the risks of taking milk powder – close to zero risk in reality.

Green Party health spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter…

…said she was “extremely shocked and upset” at the absence of any Government plan or response to the drug-related deaths and injuries.

She said that in the short term the police should at least create a special unit to deal with the synthetic cannabis issue. Drug-checking facilities should also be made legal and resourced, she said.

In the medium term, Genter said legalising cannabis would create a “safe alternative” and lower the risk of black market-related drug deaths – a move English flatly rejected today.

Stuff: Police, coroner investigating multiple synthetic cannabis deaths: ‘further people are going to die’

“If we don’t do something about this, further people are going to die,” Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got reports of 13-year-olds right through to 64-year-olds using this product, so it’s right across New Zealand, and right across society.”

Labour leader Andrew Little said the reports were “incredibly disturbing”.

“I know police are saying they’re going to conduct an investigation – the Minister of Health has got to be involved in that. We’ve got to understand what’s happened there.

“It throws open the whole issue about the ability to regulate in this area and people’s safety with a substance that is constantly changing. It may well be time, even though it’s been a reasonably short period of time, for Parliament to review and revisit just what it has done in relation to synthetic cannabis.”

So politicians are expressing some concern, but there is no sign of real pressure to do something about the situation on drug supply and use and legality.

Eight people have died. Many more are at risk. This is a crisis, urgency and a lot more jumping up and down and demanding action is surely justified.

The number of deaths in a short time is out of the ordinary but deaths and the wrecking of lives has been going on for a long time.

When big business and foreign trade was at stake there seemed to be more concern.

Drug addicts don’t seem to matter as much to our Parliament.

However the costs are actually high. Illicit drugs cost lives, this is not new. There are substantial costs to society and to taxpayers through policing and the courts and prisons and the health system. Drug abuse impacts on individuals and families and work productivity.

Poisoning by drugs has a massive human and financial cost.

After eight deaths in a short period of time surely our politicians should be motivated to do much more than make noises and then go back to kicking the cannabis can down the road.

All parties should be doing more.

But in particular Bill English and National have to step up. For too long they have left Peter Dunne to cop all the flak on drug problems and copped out of responsibility themselves, but the fact is that Dunne has done much more than any other MP to try and promote change in the way we deal with drug supply and abuse. Dunne has only one vote against National’s 59, and Parliament’s 120.

If there was ever a time for a Prime Minister to step up on an issue surely eight deaths is enough to prompt some leadership.

Trump’s wall getting shorter

In an interview recently President Trump said that the Mexican border wall may not go the whole distance.

Q You were joking about solar, right?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not joking, no. There is a chance that we can do a solar wall. We have major companies looking at that. Look, there’s no better place for solar than the Mexico border — the southern border. And there is a very good chance we can do a solar wall, which would actually look good. But there is a very good chance we could do a solar wall.

One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.

As crazy as it sounds for sure.

But we have some incredible designs.

But we are seriously looking at a solar wall. And remember this, it’s a 2,000 mile border, but you don’t need 2,000 miles of wall because you have a lot of natural barriers. You have mountains. You have some rivers that are violent and vicious. You have some areas that are so far away that you don’t really have people crossing. So you don’t need that. But you’ll need anywhere from 700 to 900 miles.

There is already close to 700 miles of fence and wall  – as of May 2015, DHS had installed (Current state of the border fence):

  • 353 miles of Primary Pedestrian Fencing.
  • 36 miles of Secondary Fencing.
  • 14 miles of Tertiary Pedestrian Fencing.
  • 300 miles of Vehicle Fencing.

Plus we have some wall that’s already up that we’re already fixing. You know, we’ve already started the wall because we’re fixing large portions of wall right now. We’re taking wall that was good but it’s in very bad shape, and we’re making it new. We’re fixing it. It’s already started. So we’ve actually, in the true sense — you know, there’s no reason to take it down or ***. So in a true sense, we’ve already started the wall.

So the wall may not go the whole distance.

And it will be a see through wall so you can avoid being hit by a thrown sack of drugs.

This is apparently for real.

More interview here: Previously off-the-record White House transcript

July 12, 2017
Aboard Air Force One En Route Paris, France


English repeats employment drug problems

Last year before he was Prime Minister Bill English caused a stir when he suggested that some Kiwis were‘Pretty damned hopeless’ – English when it came to trying to get work.  This came up in Question Time in Parliament in April 2016.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by the statements made to a meeting of Federated Farmers that there is “a cohort of Kiwis who now can’t get a licence because they can’t read and write properly and don’t look to be employable—you know, basically, young males” and that a lot of Kiwis available for work are, in his words, “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I welcomed the presence of the member who strode to the front of the Federated Farmers meeting and sat there showing complete attention to everything I said, for about 20 minutes.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by his statement that one of the reasons why immigration is “a bit more permissive” is that, in his words, Kiwis are “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think the member is mixing a couple of different statements there. I referred to the common—[Interruption] Well, the Government is at the sharp edge of this every day, and I referred to the common response from New Zealand employers that many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered. If the member has not heard that from dozens of New Zealand employers, he is out of touch.

In a media conference yesterday English said he had anecdotal evidence of similar things, including drug use being a common impediment to gaining employment. This was in response to questions about record immigration numbers.

RNZ: Employers still struggling to hire NZers due to drug use – PM

The government is still hearing from employers who are struggling to find enough New Zealanders to fill job vacancies, in many cases because they would not pass a drug test, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Mr English was talking about the latest migration figures, which show a record run of people coming to New Zealand to live or visit in the year to January.

Last year the prime minister at the time, John Key, said he continually heard from employers frustrated with New Zealanders’ work ethic and drug problems.

Mr English said he heard the same thing about two to three times a week.

“One of the hurdles these days is just passing the drug test … Under workplace safety, you can’t have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can’t pass that test.”

His comments were based on anecdotal evidence, he said.

“People telling me they open for applications, they get people turning up and it’s hard to get someone to be able to pass the test – it’s just one example.

“So look if you get around the stories, you’ll hear lots of stories – some good, some not so good – about Kiwis’ willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available.”

Mr English said the government could not do much to address this particular problem.

“Particularly if these are younger people who are in every other respect capable of finding a job.”

He said the government tended to concentrate on keeping the most at-risk young people on track.

“Getting qualifications, getting them to the start line for employment – drug issues are a bit broader than that … it’s quite a challenge when it comes to employment, more so than it used to be because it used to be quite acceptable to employ someone who was a regular drug user but now under workplace safety [rules] you just can’t do it.”

Mr English said exceptions should not be made for people who were on drugs but who would otherwise be fit for the job, as that could not only put them at risk, but also their colleagues.

This is only a part of the problems getting Kiwi workers but it will no doubt get the most attention.

Are some people too lazy to work?

Laziness, drugs and work ethics have come up a lot recently, and this is in part associated with immigration, with questions asked about why immigrant workers are needed or allowed when there are many unemployed New Zealanders.

This was touched on Q & A last weekend in an  interview with Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

CORIN How, then, can we have a situation where there are 15,000 unemployed labourers in New Zealand, yet 6500 labourers were given work visas. How can that be?

MICHAEL Yeah, look, very good question, and I constantly check to make sure that our skills shortage lists are regionally targeted.

CORIN You’re part of a government that believes in market economics here. Why can’t you let the market do its job? So if there’s a shortage in labourers, a low-skilled job, employers will have to pay more and New Zealanders in other parts of the country will move to where the work is. Isn’t that how the market works?

MICHAEL Well, it can. I think what you’ve done is presuppose that money is the only barrier to people moving to work. Now, what we know and what we’ve said and listened to employers about is that that is one of many barriers.

Geography is definitely one. Skills, attitude, recreational drug and alcohol all prevents some of our young New Zealanders from gaining work.

Now, the Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Social Development and I are working really hard with industry in occupations like truck driving, horticulture, construction, all to make sure that New Zealanders are as ready and able as they can be.

CORIN I’ve got to come back. Why can’t you take some of those people, the hundred or so thousand unemployed, why can’t you get some of those people to move and work? Why not say work for the dole?

MICHAEL Oh, look, we’re certainly incentivising it. I think work for a dole is a bigger step. If we want to have a conversation as a country, let’s do that, but I’m convinced—

CORIN Have you considered it? Have you looked at options like that?

MICHAEL Well, that’s a question better put to Minister Joyce and Minister Tolley. What I know is that they’re working extremely hard with employers to make sure that young New Zealanders are at the front of the queue for those jobs. But, look, we have to have an honest conversation.

When we have 5.1% unemployment, and in some parts of the country significantly lower than that, we are really starting to get to full employment, and for those who are ready, willing and able to find a job and if they want to move to a job, they can definitely find one.

John Key was asked about this on RNZ – Immigrant workers needed due to NZers’ work ethic, drug use – PM

Speaking on Morning Report today, Mr Key admitted high immigration was putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure, but the government would continue to bring in large numbers to fill jobs.

He said this was partly because many employers could not get New Zealanders to work due to problems with drugs or work ethic.

“We bring in people to pick fruit under the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, and they come from the islands, and they do a fabulous job. And the government has been saying ‘well, OK, there are some unemployed people who live in the Hawke’s Bay, and so why can’t we get them to pick fruit’, and we have been trialling a domestic RSE scheme.

“But go and ask the employers, and they will say some of these people won’t pass a drug test, some of these people won’t turn up for work, some of these people will claim they have health issues later on. So it’s not to say there aren’t great people who transition from Work and Income to work, they do, but it’s equally true that they’re also living in the wrong place, or they just can’t muster what is required to actually work.”

Chloe King responded – see “I am a low waged worker” – taking offence at being criticised despite being a worker herself.

How much of a problem is laziness, work shyness, drugs and lack of work ethic? This morning Q & A explores this further:

Are some young New Zealanders too lazy to take up the jobs that migrants will do? That’s what Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse suggested on Q+A last week. Jessica Mutch takes up the debate with a farm employer, a long time unionist and an advocate for young workers.

“I am a low waged worker”

A post by Chloe King at Millenial Posse is getting a lot of attention and support – John Key, I am a low waged worker, and neither “lazy” nor “drug addled”

Prime Minister John Key is making international headlines for all the wrong reasons again. In a recent Radio New Zealand interview he shamed low waged workers, calling them, “drug addicts” and describing them as being “lazy.”

Okay, I am one of the hundreds of thousands of low waged workers in this country and I feel devastated by his comments which further included stating we, the apparently lazy and low waged workers, also have no work ethic.

Key is using these reasons to justify bringing in record numbers of migrant workers into New Zealand, to take up roles in work considered unskilled, such as fruit picking, hairdressing, labouring, baking, driving trucks, managing cafes, and working in hospitality.

There’s no doubt that things are tough for many people stuck on low wages or who are out of work.

But King is overreaching with her offense – Key didn’t say that all low waged workers are lazy and have no work ethic.

More on what Key actually said from RNZ in Immigrant workers needed due to NZers’ work ethic, drug use – PM (King only partly quoted the report):

Speaking on Morning Report today, Mr Key admitted high immigration was putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure, but the government would continue to bring in large numbers to fill jobs.

He said this was partly because many employers could not get New Zealanders to work due to problems with drugs or work ethic.

“We bring in people to pick fruit under the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, and they come from the islands, and they do a fabulous job. And the government has been saying ‘well, OK, there are some unemployed people who live in the Hawke’s Bay, and so why can’t we get them to pick fruit’, and we have been trialling a domestic RSE scheme.

“But go and ask the employers, and they will say some of these people won’t pass a drug test, some of these people won’t turn up for work, some of these people will claim they have health issues later on. So it’s not to say there aren’t great people who transition from Work and Income to work, they do, but it’s equally true that they’re also living in the wrong place, or they just can’t muster what is required to actually work.”

He said geographic location was a major factor in matching unemployed people up with available jobs, and filling a position like a hairdresser in Queenstown could require a migrant to fill the role.

Key was clearly only referring to “some of these people”, and refers to common problems with people who won’t work, who don’t work or who start jobs but don’t stay for long.

He also says some people who transition to work are great but some live in the wrong place – meaning they don’t live where there are jobs available and either can’t move or don’t want to move.

And some “just can’t muster what is required to actually work”, which is true. Some simply aren’t capable of working, while others don’t have a work ethic and don’t want jobs.

This all refers to people other than King who is a low waged worker who sounds like she is determined to work and earn as much as she can. She writes:

Most low waged workers who I know are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet. We undertake multiple jobs, which is hard, I promise you, and we have no choice other than to do this.

That’s quite true. I’ve been there, done that. And I have often moved to find work, and have worked in low waged employment a number of times while i was in transition or looking for something better. On three occasions I have picked fruit for full seasons  – if you work hard it can be hard work and the pay is low but I liked working outdoors with snacks readily available. However I grew up on an orchard and was a child slave (like many rural kids I helped out and was often unpaid) so this sort of work was normal for me.

When you rip gaping holes in social security nets such as welfare, those with lesser means are left to drown under the rising tide of inequality, structural unemployment, and underemployment. So many of us who are bodily abled or not, and mentally well or not, are left with no choice than to take any work, no matter how dangerous, precarious, and sub-human the wages. What sort of a choice is that?

There are choices, often tough ones but there are always choices. Sometimes shit does happen – I have had six jobs cease due to closure or sale of a business I was working for, so am familiar with having to star again, at times in a different town or city in order to find work.

No matter what John Key tells the masses, the problem with New Zealand’s work economy is not our being “lazy” or “drug addled” workers who lack “work ethic.” I’d call him a cunt for what he said about workers like me but he has neither the depth nor the warmth.

She obviously feels strongly about it but has taken a very narrow and in some ways inaccurate view of what Key said.

There are problems with sick people, lazy people, drug addled people, people who lack an adequate work ethic.  But Key wasn’t referring to King and others trying hard to earn what they can when he talked about them.

The problem is low wages. The problem is a rise in a culture of precarious and casualised work which has created structural unemployment and job scarcity.

Low wages and casualised and precarious work are certainly problems for many people – they have been problems since employment began thousands of years ago.

The problem is the laziness, incompetence and widespread sociopathy of both right and nominally left wing governments who have failed, dismally, to protect those of us who were not born into wealth and privilege.

There’s some feeling in that but I don’t think there’s been a government that hasn’t tried to do what they think is best for people.

The problem is that Key is a millionaire who has absolutely no idea about, nor care for, the daily struggles and injustices the working class and migrant workers endure every single day.

I think he has some idea about things like that, given that he was brought up by a migrant mother who had to work hard probably just about every single day.

Perhaps then, aside from finally starting to deal with any of these very real issues, at the very least, John Key should simply stop talking about us as if he knows us.

King makes some valid points in her post but perhaps she should try to have an idea about what Key actually said – and it doesn’t seem to have been about her.

Governments can and should always do better. But the reality is that that better will never work out for all of the people all of the time.

Most people have tough times and have to work hard to get by. Just after my youngest child was born, with an eighteen month old and a three year old as well, my then wife worked nights and I worked days to get by. This continued for years, but we later managed to work tertiary education with it as as well, and eventually were able to buy a house – but even then things were still tough at times.

Key has his own history of experiencing tough times, as most of us do.

I sympathise with those now struggling on low wages and low numbers of hours and employment uncertainty. I’m well aware that I could quite easily end up in a similar situation. King finds it hard to get well paid work, but it can be even harder for people who lose their jobs in their fifties.

Being bitter and lashing out at the Prime Minister and the Government and employers is unlikely to improve anything.

IOC opts out of blanket Russian ban

The International Olympic Committee has decided not to ban Russia from the Rio Olympic Games in the wake of a damning doping report, instead leaving decisions up to individual sports.

The indecisiveness and delays are ridiculous for athletes in particular.

NZ Herald: IOC blasted for hypocrisy for non-ban on Russia

The IOC overnight opted against a blanket ban of the entire Russian team despite last week’s damning World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report revealing systematic, state-backed drug cheating from 2011-15.

After a three-hour teleconference in Lausanne, the executive board passed the baton to individual sports’ governing bodies to decide if Russian competitors are clean and should be allowed to take part in next month’s Games.

With less than two weeks to go until the Games start and with athletes already arriving at Rio this time frame is ridiculous, not the least for athletes who still don’t know if they can compete or not.

Integrity, drugs and the Olympics

The Olympic Games have had problems with drug use and abuse for decades. Any out of the ordinary performance is likely to raise suspicions and doubts.

To maintain some semblance of integrity the Olympic organisation needs to at least be seen to act when drug abuse can be proven.

It appears they are checking out the legal situation before acting against Russia after revelations that they have abused drug protocols and tests to a Government level.

ODT editorial: The integrity of the Olympics

Performance-enhancing drugs are the scourge of modern sport. No sooner has one scandal hit the headlines than along comes more suspicion and more disgrace. No misdeeds since the 1970s, however, are in the same league as the systematic and state-sponsored drug cheating in Russia.

This is so much more than individuals or even sporting bodies breaking the rules. This has links to high levels in the Russian Government and the Russian security service, as well as sporting authorities, and it mocks the whole drug-testing system.

Complex and covert covering up, samples disappearing or switched – testing was perverted in blatantly corrupt and dishonest ways.

A report from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), published this week was as damning as observers expected. The Russian track and field team was already banned.

Then, the report revealed hundreds of examples of disappearing and substituted positive samples affecting more than 30 summer and winter Olympic sports. No doubt, those instances are only part of what went on.

Some Russian athletes might have been able to steer clear of the pervasive drug culture. But such is the extent of the fraud that all based in Russia are caught in the net.

If there are clean Russian athletes it would be tough on them for their country to be banned from the upcoming Olympics but they will all be under suspicion anyway.

And a lot of athletes from other countries.

The Olympic ideal is even now tarnished by suspicions about drugs and questions are being asked about Jamaicans, Kenyans and Ethiopians. United States athletes have had a poor record over the years, and who knows what else and where else performance-enhancing drugs have been used.

But Russia is in its own league. It has inherited the Eastern European sporting drug culture, and for the sake of money, prestige and power has been willing to push ahead with its sophisticated drug programme.

Russia has been caught and exposed. Hopefully no other country has been as bad but how do we know that?

And integrity in sport is a widespread problem.

Matters go beyond just Olympic sports. What, for example, of doping in Russian football, in a country where the 2018 World Cup is to be held? What of any sport where fame and funds are at stake?

The Russian scandal starkly illustrates just how difficult the war on drugs in sport is to win. Just as in the Lance Armstrong cycling fiasco, it took the revelations of whistleblowers before real progress was made.

I think that New Zealand sports do their best to keep illegal drug use out but there have been Kiwi athletes in the past who have disgraced themselves.

How many other instances are there around the world where there is no whistleblower, or where a potential whistleblower is silenced or ignored? Such people warrant praise and support in the ongoing battle against corrupt practices.

No-one should be naive about the temptation of drugs and money, not just in Russia but everywhere. Even if Russia is banned, as it must be, that will not stop efforts by others to extract premium performances via chemical assistance.

Wada and all sporting organisations must be suspicious, vigilant, smart and firm in uncovering drug cheats and dealing with them. And no-one, not even the Russian Government, can be too big to avoid sanctions.

Whether the Russians are banned from Rio or not these games have already been significantly tainted, whether drug cheats will attend or not (and it’s difficult to believe their will be no drug cheating).

Many people will still get excited about the Olympic Games and there will be a lot of national pride involved, but the size of the event and the size of the ongoing drug problems means that integrity and fair competition will always be under suspicion.

A broad global consensus on drugs

NZ Drug Foundation @nzdrug tweeted:

A brilliant video from @IDPCnet on the ‪#‎ungass2016‬“consensus”. @PeterDunneMP makes a cameo. ‪#‎supportdontpunish‬

A broad consensus? It’s time for change. #SupportDontPunish

Published on Jun 7, 2016

Join the movement at

For over half a century there has been a global consensus that drugs should be eliminated through punishment and repression. But this “consensus” has been ripped apart at the seams. Progressively more countries realise repression and punishment have failed. It’s time for change.

Video by Leo Kiss.
Footage from UNTV and Rights Reporter Foundation.