Beehive salaries versus total costs

A narrow and misleading article on ‘rising salaries’ in ministerial offices plus a kneejerk reaction from a supposed Government spending watchdog, Taxpayers’ Union, who was contradicted by one of their founders.

Sunday Star Times have an article on increasing staff salaries in Ministerial offices in the Beehive – More than a third of officials in the Beehive now take home six figure salaries.

Staff working in the Beehive have pocketed healthy pay increases since National took office, with more than a third now earning six figure salaries.

Official figures show that the average salary of Ministerial Services staff working in the offices of Ministers hit $93,298, an increase if more than 5 per cent over 2014.

They chart the increases:

BeehiveSalaries

That looks like rampant increases.

Since coming to Government, National has pledged restraint in the public sector.

However a public sector representative questioned whether the same message was being felt by those doing the bidding of National ministers.

Same message – unrestrained increases.

Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union said most of the staff in the Beehive were “of a secretarial support” nature.

“It seems extraordinary to us that [they] are remunerating so well, and that the salaries are so top heavy,” Williams said.

“With more than one third of the Beehive support staff earning more than $100,000 it appears being a spin doctor or political advisor is a surefire way to the big bucks without being responsible for the decisions.”

A right wing spending watchdog is also critical.

But David Farrar, who is closely involved with the Taxpayers’ Union, points out at Kiwiblog in Ministerial staff costs:

What I’m interested in, as a taxpayer, is how much more, if any, we are paying for the running of ministerial office. This would have been useful, even vital, information for the story. And it took around 15 minutes to find out from Treasury documents.

The 2015 budget allocated $25.842 million for ministerial support services. In 2008/09 the cost of ministerial support services was $30.375 million. So in fact spending on ministerial offices has dropped 14.9% in seven years. That is what I call restraint.

Also the cost of VIP transport has stayed constant – in fact down 0.1% from 2008/09.

And ministerial travel has gone up just 3.1% over seven years. Well under inflation.

So actually overall, pretty good spending restraint.

So while salaries have risen overall costs of ministerial offices has gone down.

This looks like poor reporting by SST, and the Taxpayers’ Union look likke they have jumped into a kneejerk reaction without considering what should be vital information when comparing cost trends of running Ministerial offices.

Did Rawshark dump and flee New Zealand?

Ben Rawshark has had another wee splurge on Twitter today and in response there’s an interesting claim – that Rawshark dumped and ran.

I’ve lost a lot of support, followers and ‘credibility’ in the last 7 days since the story broke in MSM. Fortunately the cops are digging.

He can smear any truth tellers that pop up using proxy blogs, analysis of the tellers enemies and rarking them up.

Yes, Scientology does exactly the same thing. You might want to study the history of the movement against them.

He is extremely good at what he does. Look at how they hit Catton. She is wholly light side. It’s the state of play now.

Haha Project Chanology? Or something non-hacktivist? I’m not newborn to Scientologies BS.

 This is stuff that both pre-dates and post-dates Chanology. But Chanology was a decisive moment because you can’t smear Anon.

General chitchat with Daphne Lawless who describes themselves:

Daphne Lawless

@daphlawless

Musician, indexer, translator, political activist, footballer, sci-fi geek… if you are a renaissance woman, start a renaissance (after Ché Guevara)

Auckland, Aotearoa

She’s of political and media interest, with followers like Sue Bradford, Laila Harre, Duncan Garner, Tova O’Brien, Bryce Edwards.

Rachinger retweeted…

Slater is powerful because he’s useful to those in power. The correct strategy would be to end his usefulness.

So ideally one of Slater’s good buddies could be persuaded to turn against him.

…and then exchange tweets…

But that’s the beginning and the end of it. I was burying my grandmother as I dealt with it all. I apologised to QoT.

 Even if you were a serial arsehole as bad as Slater, I STILL wouldn’t dismiss your revelations about Slater.

I appreciate that. I admire your quest for facts, proof and the truth. Don’t push them too hard though. They don’t like that.

Ever thought of doing a Rawshark? Dox dump to friendly journos then skipping the country?

That was tried and it didn’t work .. Whistleblowing under own name doesn’t work. It’s not the facts… It’s what happens after

How friendly was Rawshark to the journalists? Those who were given access to Rawshark data and reported on it were David Fisher of NZ Herald and Matt Nippert of Sunday Star Times.

Familiar names in the current hacking story.

And did they then leave New Zealand?

And a wee search finds that Cameron Slater had an interest in Daphne Lawless, claiming she had non-public information about the Rawshark hacking.

8GB OF STOLEN DATA TURNS TO 2GB. QUESTION: HOW DOES DAPHNE LAWLESS KNOW THIS?

Meet Daphne Lawless, an aptly named hard left political activist who likes to blog like the big kids

She published an article on the Marxist Fightback blog (Struggle! Socialism! Fightback!), a post titled The Whale Oil leaks: Anti-politics from above.

In it, she writes:  

qwqw

The 8 and the 2 keys are not next to each other on a keyboard, so I assume that was exactly what she meant to type.

How does Daphne Lawless know the 8GB stick only contained 2GB data?

She seems to know a bit about Rawshark and friends.

Breach of interim injunction?

The Sunday Star Times (and Stuff) may have at least come close to breaching an interim injunction, and if covered by the injunction commenters on a major New Zealand blog have fairly blatantly breached it, and has so far the blog has taken no action about it. Tony Wall wrote:

A Cabinet minister’s brother is due to appear in court this week on child indecency charges.

The man has been summonsed to appear in the District Court on Tuesday — but the man’s lawyer, high-powered Queen’s Counsel Jonathan Eaton, last night went to the High Court in Christchurch to obtain an injunction stopping the Sunday Star-Times naming the man or the minister concerned.

Last night, High Court Justice David Gendall imposed an interim injunction preventing the newspaper naming the accused and the Cabinet minister.

But the article gives enough details to make it quite easy to narrow down possibilities.

And commenters on a major New Zealand blog have fairly openly and blatantly identified the Minister. And site moderators have taken no action, despite the comments being prominent, and despite being advise of possible legal issues, and despite a moderator being active on the same post.

And despite that blog having clear policy against this behaviour.

If we and/or our lawyers feel that the the comment or post oversteps a legal bound, violates good taste, invades the privacy of people outside the public domain, or goes beyond the scope of our site – then and only then will we do something about it.

Most of the time the moderators will be harsher on offending content than any court in NZ is likely to be.

The breaches began about 8.30 am this morning and subsequent comments confirmed what was heavily hinted at.

If they have identified the Minister then it’s clearly defying the intent to prevent revealing the identity which sounds likely to be subject to a name suppression application.

And the blog management would appear to be allowing these breaches to remain on public view.

UPDATE: I’ve been advised by the blog that if they haven’t been advised of an injunction then they don’t have to stop speculation (but they are obviously aware of the injunction).

They also claim that speculation is fine as ling as it doesn’t explicitly name the people protected by the injunction (despite the collective comments clearly identifying someone).

And the claim that suppression orders “just stop people being named, not speculated on”.

That surprises me – it’s not how I understand that name suppression works, and I’m surprised this blogger is taking this position.

UPDATE2: This question has been asked on the blog:

The courts granted an injunction to prevent publication by the SST of the Minister’s name. Does that injunction apply to the public?

A response from the moderator:

Likely. As I have no idea who it is, So to conform to the reported suppression, I will just limit people saying explicitly which minister it is.

From a legal point of view that surprises me. Taken as a whole the blog thread clearly identifies the Minister.

Mind you, after the questions on how Carmel’s mothers name got into media, I am only inclined to follow the letter of suppression orders.

From a blog and political point of view that doesn’t surprise me.

The spy is falling, the spy is falling!

Does the New Zealand public (and media) have Hager fatigue or apathy over spy stories?

Nicky Hager has been promoting his reports on New Zealand content of the Snowden files, first through NZ Herald on Thursday and yesterday through Sunday Star Times.

Wider media interest seemed to quickly fade, and apart from some devout activists and the Greens there has been largely a resounding “so what?”

Is this because most people simply don’t care about spying, are not surprised that it’s happening but don’t think it applies to them or will affect them?

Or is it Hager fatigue? Perhaps apart from some loyal supporters he is seen too much as a pesky lefty stirrer.

It will be a mix of both apathy and Hager fatigue.

Yesterday the Sunday Star Times featured reports from Nicky Hager et al based on the Snowden files.  See Sunday Star Times – next installments of Hager/Snowden.

This follows NZ Herald on Thursday launching – Spy ‘revelations’ a flood or a trickle? – in what is promised to be a series of reports on New Zealand aspects of the Snowden files that Hager has been given access to.

There was some wider media coverage on Thursday, but little apparent public interest.

Yesterday the Sunday Star Times coverage appears to have been largely ignored by other media. And the public seems to have been mostly disinterested as well. One of the articles appeared at the bottom of Stuff’s “Most Popular” in the middle of yesterday but by evening there was no sign of anything about spying.

This morning Google news doesn’t include any past spy stories on it’s New Zealand news summary page but there is one Stuff ‘Reader Report’ – Spying news ‘should come as no surprise’.

Stuff leads this page with:

REVELATIONS: Edward Snowden’s latest batch of revelations showed New Zealand was spying on its Pacific neighbours.

New documents show New Zealand has spied on its neighbours and allies, including countries in the Pacific. What do you think about these latest spying revelations?

But the only response published is an emphatic “so what?”

The recent revelations by the investigative journalist Nicky Hager that the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has spied on individuals or organisations located in our neighbouring countries and even allies should come as no surprise to anyone.

Our spy agency is there to spy and gather information from those who are seeking to hide something. The idea that terrorists or criminals can avoid detection by basing themselves in a friendly country is ludicrous.

The world is shrinking daily and decisions made in one continent can be acted on almost instantly in another. Information gathered anywhere can have relevance anywhere.

We need to think globally if we are to combat global terrorists and gather intelligence globally too.

As an ordinary, law-abiding citizen I hope that is what my tax-funded GCSB does. I have nothing to hide or fear and to be brutally honest I don’t care a jot where the spies get the information from or who they share it with.

So it seems that when it comes to real life spy stories New Zealand yawns.

To be honest yesterday I posted links to the Sunday Star Times stories but apart from a cursory glance at the lead paragraphs I couldn’t be bothered reading them.

Has Hager cried and cried wolf too often? He may be guilty of over-egging revelations – be it on dirty self interested politics or spying – that lack compelling evidence.

The problem with ‘The spy is falling, the spy is calling!’ approach is that something that’s barely of interest in the first place gets easily ignored.

A few of the most important and concerning aspects of our spying should probably warrant public scrutiny, or awareness at least.

But this is shrouded in a fog of scaremongering.

Sunday Star Times – next installments of Hager/Snowden

It’s the Sunday Star Times turn to publish Nicky Hagers selection of material from the Edward Snowden files.

Snowden files: NZ’s spying on the family
NICKY HAGER, RYAN GALLAGHER AND ANTHONY HUBBARD

In the Cook Islands they hold New Zealand passports, are eligible for New Zealand social services and New Zealand is responsible for their foreign affairs. The same in Niue.

Leaked Edward Snowden documents, published for the first time today, reveal New Zealand is spying on them anyway – despite residents being New Zealanders.

Snowden files: Inside Waihopai’s domes
NICKY HAGER AND RYAN GALLAGHER

The Waihopai intelligence base looks oddly alien and out of place: huge white “golf ball” radomes like a moon station and silent buildings within two fences of razor wire, all dropped in the midst of vineyards and dry hills in New Zealand’s Marlborough landscape.

Documents about the Waihopai station leaked by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the facility is as alien as is seems.

Everything inside the top secret station except the staff is foreign.

The electronic eavesdropping systems, the computer programmes that automatically index and search the captured communications, and the databases where details of a whole region’s communications are stored: they are all standardised parts of the global surveillance system run by the NSA.

Snowden files: which satellites are targeted by Waihopai?

Visitors to the Waihopai Valley can see several large satellite antenna dotted around the Waihopai operations building.

They tune in to legitimate communications satellites sitting in space above the Asia-Pacific region and intercept the huge volume of communications being relayed between the region’s countries.

This includes phone calls, data transfers by companies and banks, and all the types of private and government communications that flow across the Internet.

The GCSB has refused to say anything about which satellites and countries are being intercepted.

Secret Waihopai reports in April 2010 and March 2012, provided by Snowden, answer this question.

Andrea Vance also gives her two bobs worth in Silence on surveillance not healthy.

OPINION:
Nicky Hager must wonder why he bothers.

The journalist brought the Snowden documents to New Zealand in the last week, to be met with a collective shrug of shoulders. Maybe you are unmoved at the Government Communications Security Bureau spying on Pacific neighbours. Perhaps you don’t care if your emails, texts and Facebook messages are hoovered up and stored in a US data bank. Or that the GCSB is little more than an outpost of the US National Security Agency. But, with a pending significant review and a likely increase in their electronic reach, there are still a few reasons to take the leaked papers seriously.

This latest release is likely to also be met in the main a with collective shrug of shoulders.

Spies spy. Satellite tracking stations track satellites. Nicky Hager promotes controversies that most people don’t care much about. New Zealand play Afghanistan in the Cricket World Cup today and Lydia Ko is two shots off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open.

Here is Stuff’s current ‘Most Popular’ news.

That may change today – Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop may not hold it’s position – as New Zealand wakes up to the next instalments of the Snowden spy scandal but reading endless articles about spying is about as boring to most people as listening in to the world’s phone calls.

The simple fact is that most people would prefer not to be spied on but can’t see why anyone would bother to spy on them anyway.

That’s Nicky Hager’s problem.

UPDATE (midday Sunday): Stuff’s most popular now:

One of the Snowden stories makes it to number 10 position.

UPDATE 2 (7 pm): And as expected lightweight news and cricket took over (it looks like  Ko won’t win but too son to cover that yet anyway).

Hooton: Snowden should be executed

Matthew Hooton proposes a fairly drastic sentence for Edward Snowden.

Tomorrow in , Nicky Hager and exclusively reveal the high-tech tools with which NZ spies on NZers in Pacific.

@MatthewHootonNZ

This is actual treason.

Snowdon should be executed

These people. Hager and @rj_gallagher, are not “media”, they are far-left activists promoting the interests of NZ’s adversaries.

They’re publishing info on intelligence gathering techniques of interest to China, Russia & #ISIS. That is the issue.

That’s a quick sentence considering Hooton (presumably) doesn’t know what will be revealed tomorrow.

HootonTreason

Good Goff debut at SST on Middle East issues

Phil Goff’s first column in the Sunday Star Times is on the Middle East and what we are doing or may do about the conflicts there. Phil Goff: Arms not the answer is a good balanced debut.

New Zealand has rushed through legislation designed to counter any threat from Islamic State or from terrorism generally. One of the changes is to give government greater powers to stop people travelling overseas to fight for Islamic State.

Generally I support that. We should try to stop any New Zealander joining an organisation that is routinely committing crimes against humanity. But it is important that we don’t go further in restricting the rights of New Zealanders to fight for causes that are legitimate.

Supporting restrictions but with some reservations and warnings is a sensible position for a senior opposition MP who when leader was involved in security briefings.

The new surveillance laws also must not be used in a way that unfairly targets the Muslim community. People I know in that community are already telling me they are suffering abuse from others because they are wrongly associated with Islamic State.

Sound security without resorting to unfair targeting and witch hunts is important.

The low threat of terrorism here is not because of the anti-terrorist laws but because we are largely a harmonious and inclusive society. That deprives terrorist groups of a recruiting ground.

The nature of New Zealand Society is our best defence.

The Government is also planning to send 40 to 100 soldiers to help train the Iraqi army to fight against Islamic State.

I don’t support that.

Fair enough. I don’t know enough about the pros and cons to make a judgement.

But risk and sacrifice can only be justified when there is a good reason, a clear and achievable objective and an exit strategy.

Unfortunately those providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East can do so at great risk too.

We shouldn’t do nothing, especially with threats like Islamic State, but we also shouldn’t become involved in unwinnable conflicts nor should we provoke unnecessarily.

We can play a more constructive role. We are now on the UN Security Council. We should be pushing for international efforts to starve Islamic State of combatants, weaponry and funding. Rather than military support, we would achieve more by providing greater humanitarian aid to help the millions of refugees in the region.

I’m sure those things will be considered. Our seat on the UN Security Council is in part thanks to Goff and David Shearer and Helen Clark. Our foreign policy has been and should be as much as possible a cross party effort.

Goff to write for Sunday Star Times

Last week Judith Collins started a weekly column for Sunday Star Times. It was promised that someone from ther left would also have a column, and today they announced that it would be Phil Goff.

New columnist Phil Goff goes toe-to-toe with Judith Collins

When we announced last week that Judith Collins would be writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, it excited comment across the broadcast and digital media.

1) Love her or hate her, Judith Collins is without doubt one of the most uncompromising, no-holds-barred personalities in New Zealand.

We think it’s time to respect our readers’ intelligence and let them make up their own minds on what she has to say for herself.

2) This is not new and shocking. Indeed, there is plenty of healthy precedent for senior MPs writing columns for the country’s big papers – among them, David Lange, Simon Upton, Deborah Coddington, John Tamihere, Jim Anderton and George Hawkins.

3) Finally, for those who believe commissioning Judith Collins was an outrage, I have more bad news … as foreshadowed, I’ve taken on a second MP, too. Phil Goff will go toe-to-toe with Collins in the Sunday Star-Times every week. Goff, once the leader of the Labour Party, has now been moved off new leader Andrew Little’s front benches. Like Judith Collins, he is freed of the constraints of collective responsibility – both of them can call it like they see it. If that means they sometimes criticise their own leaders, so be it. This weekend, the former foreign affairs minister will examine whether Kiwis should be allowed to go take up arms in foreign wars like those in Syria and Iraq.

David Farrar posted on this, saying that after Collins’ first column was published “The outrage on Twitter was hilarious.” It was.

And on this announcement he said “This is hilarious as many on the left regard Goff as a right wing sell out. I look forward to more howls of outrage.”

And sure enough the far left aren’t happy, or still aren’t happy (are they ever?)

At The Standard Phil Ure:

but..but..two rightwing neo-lib/fuck-the-poor warmongers..

..what will they find to disagree about..?

And Mark:

What – Two right wingers having a column in a Sunday paper. You would have thought that they would have gone for someone from the left for balance but why break the habits of a lifetime.

And I checked out one who spluttered the most on Twitter, Giovanni Tiso. But he seems to have taken offence at me posting Giovanni Tiso et al versus Judith Collins a few days ago, when I tried to view his Twitter account I got “You are blocked from following @gtiso and viewing @gtiso’s Tweets.”

Many on the hard left are intolerant of different opinions and especially of criticism. Tiso would probably shut down most of the media and most of the Internet if he could. He tries – after the Collins column last weekend he started a campaign against the Sunday Star Times.

But it’s not hard to find out what his response to the Goff news was.

@gtiso responds predictably:

HAHAHAHAHAHA! oh my God.

Milne must have been on the phone for like six days straight until they got to Goff. Fuck me.

A hard-hitting left wing politician! HAHAHAHAHAH!!! I swear they are trying to kill me. They’ll find my corpse under my desk. HAHAHAHA!!!

I’m dying over here. Goff. Christ. Mr TPP! Hehehehe… [wipes tear] Okay I’m good now.

He might have fancied his own chances of being a left enough balance, but having tried to organise a subscription cancelling campaign against the SST I doubt he would be considered favourably. They are unlikely to pander to the perpetually pissed off.

I doubt whether Tiso and others will be happy until and the government conform to their ideals. Which will be never.

Giovanni Tiso et al versus Judith Collins

Giovanni Tiso launched a social media campaign against the Sunday Star Times because they published a column by Judith Collins.

Tiso has a history of this sort of action. He attacked Radio Live for a Roastbusters interview. Praise and support for this wore off when Tiso took his attempts to shame advertisers too far.

He campaigned against Canon for sponsoring awards when a best blog award was won by Cameron Slater. Tiso’s own blog was a finalist.

And he started campaigning against the Sunday Star Times in the weekend because they published a column by Judith Collins. he got some push back but kept fighting.

you and have no problem with people who poisoned the political conversation to get rewarded

If everyone who Tiso thought “poisoned the political conversation” was banned from media it would be a severely diminished forum.

Danyl joined the Tiso campaign at Dimp-Post.

Liberal media watch, Sunday edition

There’s been a big debate on twitter about Judith Collins’ Sunday Star Times column. The column itself is here, and it is about concrete fiber board. It is possibly the most boring thing there has ever been a twitter debate about.

Some people are upset about the column because they feel Judith Collins is disgraced: Oravida, her role in Dirty Politics, etc. I don’t have a problem with disgraced political columnists per se. After all, Rodney Hide has a column.

But he admits that…

I do have a few problems with the SST appointing Collins. One is that – as Finlay Macdonald said on Twitter – the media is supposed to be holding MPs – especially government MPs – to account, not giving them jobs. Also, the government already has a huge platform to communicate to the public.

His Green Party seem to get quite a bit of material out via the media. And shouldn’t we hear more from MPs, not less?

So various people on Twitter are calling for boycotts and canceling their subscriptions. I’m not quite there yet. Not over a column about concrete fiber board. But I’m thinking about it, and encourage anyone else troubled by all this to do the same. Various journalists on twitter are up in arms over this suggestion: ‘What about all the good content in Fairfax papers? What if good people lose their jobs, etc?’

Here’s my question to them. The Dirty Politics saga was a media scandal as much as a political scandal. What are people who are offended by it supposed to do, exactly, when they’re confronted by an editor like the SST’s Jonathan Milne, who is cheerfully demonstrating that not only has he learned nothing, but that he’s determined to keep pushing the barrow out, get dirtier, make his little corner of the media more sleazy, more compromised, more biased? Canceling your subscription is pretty much the only power we have.

So he seems to be on Tiso’s side there. And as compromised and dirty as him, suggesting that “the most boring thing there has ever been a twitter debate about” is “get dirtier, make his little corner of the media more sleazy”.

Martyn Bradbury also jumps in the bashwagon,

Collins appointment to Sunday Star Times cements Rights dominance over mainstream media

That the Sunday Star Times would appoint a Politician so mired in the filth of Dirty Politics shows that the mainstream media have learnt nothing from Dirty Politics and they actually just don’t give a damn about any pretence towards balance.

I don’t read the Sunday Star Times. I don’t care if Judith Collins writes columns for them or not. I don’t care if carefully balanced lefties are also allowed to write for them (Tiso discussed the need for an equal and opposite MP to balance the newspaper).

@gtiso

Rewarded with a megaphone. Rewarded with a shot at rebuilding her credibility.

Every MP disgraced by Tiso should be banned from trying to rebuild their credibility. We can’t have them repairing any damage and trying to do their jobs.

Perhaps newspapers could set up a social media system where very article and column was vetted and approved or rejected by Giovanni, Danyl and the rest of the self appointed media police.

Or they could ignore them.

Euthanasia interest and support growing

It seems that the euthanasia debate (and support) is building up steam.

Euthanasia debate on the rise (TV3 video)

Strong public support for euthanasia

The MP campaigning for the right to die has been buoyed by a poll that shows more than 85 per cent of respondents to a survey supported voluntary euthanasia.

The Sunday Star-Times reader poll of more than 1000 people also found almost three-quarters of people would help a terminally-ill loved one commit suicide, and that support for a law change is highest among men, and those over 60. Labour MP Maryan Street has been working with the Voluntary Euthanasia Society on her End of Life Choice Bill, which would give people the right to “choose how and when they exit this life”.

The private members bill will have to be drawn from the ballot to get a hearing, but Street says the reader poll had the highest support she had seen, with most polls getting 75 per cent backing for a law change.

“There is more support out in the community for this than people imagine,” Street said. She had seen a change since a 1995 euthanasia vote was lost 61-29, to 60-57 when it was revisited in 2003. “And, nine years on, attitudes have changed again.”

See also:  The Euthanasia discussion begins

Of course for anything to change Street’s bill will need to be drawn from the ballot. It’s ironic that such an important issue is at the whim of chance.