Extinction Rebellion civil disobedience in Wellington today, aims remain vague

The worldwide attempt at revolution – using climate change as a reason to change established democratic and financial systems – hits Wellington today.

With the return of ‘weka’ The Standard has morphed into an anti-Government website in promoting the revolution: NRT: Climate Change: Join the rebellion, retweeting No Right Turn who says:

If you care about the climate crisis, and want the government to act, join in.

But if you read Extinction Rebellion’s vague aims they seem too want to overthrow the Government and impose some soort of people power.

 “…support and encourage a citizens’ uprising in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

“When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution.

“This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.”

They don’t explain how a ‘genuine democracy’ is created by revolution, nor what sort of democracy it would be. Neither do they want to explain at The Standard.

Weka (with help from Robert Guyton and Sacha) again show how intolerant extreme greens are of their messages being questioned, with lame attacks and threats of bans – see from here.

I note that until I posted a comment at 12:30 pm yesterday there had been no comments on the post that was up at 7:10 am. It appears to be not a popular topic. What was popular was dumping on me for asking questions.

Weka promotes today’s protests under her own name today: Extinction Rebellion on Lambton Quay, in which she says:

In case it’s not clear, the objective here is to cause as much disruption to the state as possible until it changes. Affecting the consumer economy, sustained tying up of the courts and eating into the police budget, along with regular disruptions to the normal business of city life, are potent motivators for change. Key to XR’s strategy is the research that shows sustained actions from 3.5% of a nation’s population have never failed to effect radical change.

Time will tell whether they manage to get large numbers to sustain their actions.

And whether they will succeed in getting our Government and our MPs to decided to hand over all their power and baubles to ‘the people’.

XR are not presenting a complex, detailed plan of what we should do. That’s for our governments.

They don’t seem to be presenting any plan, just vague aims. I’m not sure how disruptive protests will convince the New Zealand Government to work out a complex detailed plan to relinquish their party based power, and their jobs.

They’re also saying that in that process we should shift to more participatory democracy rather than relying on simple representative democracy (which patently isn’t working and isn’t suitable to the task at hand given the timeframes).

Our current representative democracy isn’t exactly simple, but it is patently working. It just isn’t doing what the Rebels want it to do.

Promoting some vague sort of “more participatory democracy” will probably struggle to get wide public (or MP) support.

Planned climate extremist disruptions risk alienating wider support

Growing significant support for taking more urgent and more meaningful and effective action to minimise and mitigate predicted possible effects of climate change may be jeopardised by extremists who claim extinction and who seem to be using climate change as a reason to drastically change the world economic and political systems.

Following a widely popular series of countrywide protests last week, more extreme action is threatened for Wellington on Monday, with more extreme goals. I think that this risks alienating popular support.

The future of the human race could be in jeopardy due to pollution, over-consumption and climate change, but using that threat to force what would effectively be a revolution – ironically one goal is to undemocratically impose a different sort of (unproven) democracy – could be a bigger risk.

The cure could be worse than the ailment.

Stuff: Wellington will be first city targeted for ‘disruption’ in worldwide climate change protest

Monday morning commuters could face delays, with climate change activists set to “disrupt Wellington” with protest action in the central city from 7am.

Police, Wellington City Council and NZTA are gearing up in anticipation of the protest, which is part of what has been called a “global rebellion”, with Wellington the first of more than 60 cities worldwide targeted for climate activist disruption.

The protest is organised by the Extinction Rebellion, a group formed in October last year in the UK, with branches all over the world, including New Zealand.

The action is coinciding with a “Rebel Camp” running in Paekākāriki from Saturday to Wednesday, which will include training in “non-violent direct action”.

Extinction Rebellion Wellington spokesperson Dr Sea Rotmann said the New Zealand branch would disrupt Wellington traffic with a street party and expected arrests.

The news report includes odd looking staged photos of Dr Rotman who seems to be trying to depict themselves as something extraordinary:

Dr Sea Rotmann, Wellington spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, says "it is time to draw the line and to take whatever non-violent action is necessary".

Weird, and I’m not sure that will attract a lot of support.

The Extinction Rebellion website said it aimed to “support and encourage a citizens’ uprising in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

That would involve “low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some”.

“When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution.

“This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.”

So they intend using a revolution to create “a genuine democracy”. That doesn’t sound very democratic.

Suddenly and drastically changing the economic system would be at more risk of maximising harm and adversely affecting wellbeing.

This all seems like an idealistic experiment that if forced on us could cause more disruption and harm than climate change.

What does Extinction Rebellion want?

Extinction Rebellion has three demands of Government:

1. “Tell the truth” and declare a climate and ecological emergency

2. Act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2025

3. “Go beyond politics” and set up a “Citizen’s Assembly” on climate and ecological justice

I wonder if they are aware that a “Citizen’s Assembly” should be inclusive of and represent all citizens, and not just a minority of extremists.

Drastically changing all of the world’s governments immediately seems to be a totally unrealistic aim.

Extreme action and extreme demands are much easier to dismiss as extremist nutters.

And more immediately, disrupting Wellington traffic on Monday is likely to alienate a lot of people rather than attracting popular support.

I think that we should be doing significantly more to address possible affects of climate change, and reduce waste, and reduce pollution, but I think that Extinction Rebellion could be counter-productive to getting support to do this.

Their website home page says:

JOIN THE REBELLION

Enter your details to join Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa. Stay up to date with our latest direct action events, news and volunteering opportunities.

To create the change the world so desperately requires we need everyone’s support, we’re in this together.

You’ll be joining part of a larger global movement dedicated to preserving life on earth.

ISSUES

We are unprepared for the danger the future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.

Historical evidence shows that we need the involvement of 3.5% of the population to succeed – in Aotearoa New Zealand this is 170,000 people.

We are the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion International. We are everyday New Zealanders just like you. We are supported by journalist Naomi Klein, academic and renowned dissident Noam Chomsky, and around 100 other prominent international progressives calling on “concerned global citizens to rise up” and join us.

OUR VISION

A world where we build thriving connections within our society and environment, bringing hope and enabling us to decide the direction of our lives and futures. An inclusive world, where we work consciously to ensure fair processes of collective decision-making, where creativity is prioritised, and where our diversity of gifts are recognised, celebrated and flourish.

OUR MISSION

To spark and sustain a spirit of creative rebellion, which will enable much needed changes in our political, economic and social landscape. We endeavour to mobilise and train organisers to skilfully open up space, so that communities can develop the tools they need to address Aotearoa New Zealand’s deeply rooted problems. We work to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable and connected.

OUR PURPOSE

Support and encourage a citizens uprising in the Aoteaora New Zealand involving low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some (with others willing to support those that take actions). When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution. This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well being and minimise harm.

 

Alt-right slight might

The ‘alt right’ organised protests in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch yesterday – see ‘NZ Sovereignty’ rallies against immigration.

Someone tweeted about someone at one of the protests having a swastika tattoo on his head…

Sad and a little shocked to see neo-Nazis out and proud. In Wellington, New Zealand. In 2019.

…but otherwise things seemed quiet and low key.

Another view of ‘good turnout’ from Greg Presland:

The rally was underwhelming.  There were maybe 30 yellow jackets there with perhaps another 30 supporters.

Whale Oil had been promoting the protests, including yesterday – Rallies against the UN Migration Pact TODAY 4PM.

They report A tale of two very different rallies: Christchurch & Wellington

Our Whaleoil citizen journalist reports that around 100 people turned out for the Christchurch rally against the UN Global compact on migration. There were no hecklers and no drama. There were no representatives from the National party at all but the New Conservative party fronted and “put on a good performance.”

Our reporter chatted with David Moffett afterwards and was impressed with both him and his speech.

Moffett has been generally quite unimpressive on Twitter. May he has learned from his mistakes.

The Wellington rally was quite different. Owen Llewellyn from the blog RightMinds writes that Leftist bullies disrespected the National anthem and tried to intimidate the female speaker.

SB makes this claim:

If you watch the video you will see the same tired techniques being used to try to smear and silence the message. A man with a swastika tattooed on his head was targeted as being supposedly representative of the rally. I would not be surprised at all if he was a plant by leftists as that is a common tactic to enable them to smear those who are pro-free speech as Nazis.

If they were a plant were they a Greenie? A silly joke i know, but that’s what a conspiracy theory like this deserves. It is a common tactic of leftists and rightists to make ridiculous assertions about the other extremity.

Also from Whale Oil: Humour at the Auckland rally: ‘ Want to smoke some weed?’

Was that the highlight? Whale Oil keeps promoting Elliot Ikilei from the New Conservatives. They are toxic to everyone else.

Presland (mickysavage) has a report of the Auckland rally at The Standard – Auckland’s yellow jacket protest, and concludes:

To repeat one question which I heard asked a number of times yesterday, where has multiculturalism ever worked?

We were in Aotea Square.  There were young Chinese and Indian, Pacifica, a mother and daughter wearing a hijab, all peacefully coexisting.  Across the road there is this wonderful Turkish kebab shop.  There are no less than two Sushi shops within 100 metres of where we were. Queen Street is littered with businesses owned and run by different nationalities showing the really good side of globalisation.

Within the city there are plans to celebrate Waitangi day, Chinese New Year and the Festival of colours all within the next month or so. People from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences all happily living together.

I am cautiously confident that New Zealand is showing that multiculturalism is working fine and that the Yellow Jackets will not gain traction. Time will tell if I am right.

It looks like the rallies had as much impact as the TPPA protests after Labour and Greens got in to Government.

At this stage the alt-right seems to have very slight might.

 

Cycleways, and more interference from Wellington

What?

I have no idea why traffic lights are being controlled from Wellington. Dunedin mayor Dave Cull, who also heads Local Government New Zealand, has been trying to promote Bringing government back to the people – LGNZ and The New Zealand Initiative start Project Localism.

The increasing number of cycleways and traffic disruption in Dunedin, and a dwindling number of car parks, are not particularly  popular in Dunedin.

The cycleways themselves are not particularly popular either.  From my observations some seem to be rarely used, and others seem to be used only occasionally, although cyclist numbers do seem to have increased a little (from hardly any to bugger all).

Traffic jams being ‘controlled’ from Wellington are also going to be unpopular.

Wellington also wants fuel tax

The regional fuel tax for Auckland could spread, if other regions get what they want.

RNZ:  Wellington council offers to join fuel tax plan

Greater Wellington Regional Council would implement a fuel tax if legislation before the house is passed, it says.

Under the proposed law change the regional fuel tax can be charged in Auckland and, from 2021, councils in other areas would also be able to implement one.

Council chair Chris Laidlaw said the tax would be put toward transport infrastructure developments.

“We already have several business cases in front of the government under consideration for rail improvements through the region including the Wairarapa … there are a variety of projects emerging from the ‘Lets Get Wellington Moving’ exercise, which is nearing completion,” Mr Laidlaw said.

He said the cost of these projects meant the council needed all the help it could get.

“They have to be paid for and the local government sector simply doesn’t have the resources to do this and our rates rises are heavy enough as it is,” he said.

He said introducing a regional fuel tax was the most sensible way of raising money for the expensive projects.

Of course other regions would like to avoid direct responsibility for rates rises by instead using different sorts of taxes.

Victoria, Wellington

Victoria University is considering a name change, it says to avoid confusion with similarly named universities in other parts of the world (including in Victoria University in Melbourne).

It has been suggested it be renamed University of Wellington with some te reo tacked on.

Stuff: Victoria University of Wellington looking to change name to avoid overseas confusion

Victoria University could be renamed the University of Wellington as the tertiary institute tries to eliminate confusion for potential overseas students.

Vice-chancellor professor Grant Guilford said a name change was on the cards to provide “clarity” and avoid other universities taking credit for work done at the Wellington campus.

Hutt South MP and Victoria University alumni Chris Bishop said he initially opposed the idea. However, he understood the university’s reasons for a name change having copped years of confusion while competing overseas with the debating team.

“There’s an emotional connection to the place. There will be people who say that you’re giving up the 100-plus years of a brand and the integrity and credibility behind it.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, who was consulted with on the idea, said it was a good strategic move that he wholeheartedly supported.

Victoria University alumni Ian McKinnon said the name meant “a great deal” to him but he would not stand in the way of change that was supported, and in the best interests of the institute’s future.

Any name change will be put before Education Minister Chris Hipkins to gazette the changes. Hipkins said he could not comment on the potential name change.

It has been pointed out the while ‘Victoria’ is dated and largely irrelevant in modern New Zealand, so is Wellington.

Te Herenga Waka, which translates to the hitching post for your canoe, has been suggested.

That seems like an odd choice.

What about one of the three Māori names for Wellington?

  • Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara – ‘the great harbour of Tara’
  • Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui – ‘the head of the fish of Māui’
  • Pōneke – derived from Port Nick, short for Port Nicholson (refers to the southernmost part of the North Island)

The first two on their own (or tacked on) could also be confusing internationally.

Why not University of Aotearoa?

Currently a Stuff online poll asks: Should Victoria University of Wellington change it’s name?

  • No. It’s sacrilege to change more than 100 years of tradition – 0%
  • Yes. It will stop confusion and focus on Wellington’s global brand – 0%
  • Maybe. But there has to be a better alternative – 100%

But don’t rely too much on online polls, especially when there has been only 1 voter (I had to vote to see the results).

 

 

Wellington plans to ‘pay’ for projects by doubling debt

If i was a Wellington ratepayer I’d be worried by this (actually I’m worried as a Dunedin ratepayer about similar increases in spending and rates).

Stuff: Wellington City Council set to double debt to pay for big projects

Wellington’s desire for a movie museum, a pricey indoor arena, and its need for resilience, will bump the city’s debt to more than $1 billion for the first time.

Wellington City Council’s debt level is set to rise from $507 million to $1.16 billion over the next 10 years to pay for investments such as water reservoirs, earthquake strengthening the Town Hall, Let’s Get Wellington Moving, cycleway infrastructure and the arts.

Councillor Andy Foster was concerned the council was proposing to more than double the amount it borrowed and was warning ratepayers it will cost them in interest payments.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said he was comfortable with the proposed investments over the next decade.

Some of the budgeted investments were not only warranted but necessary, he said.

Some will certainly be necessary, but others sound like they are optional and possibly extravagant.

Council chief executive Kevin Lavery said the proposed level of debt was prudent and affordable and significantly lower than the average mortgage level for New Zealand households.

Equating it to “gthe average mortgage level” is cute, but people will be more interested in the impact on their rates, which they pay on top of their mortgage.

The council had a strong balance sheet, which meant it could borrow now and spread the costs of the major projects over the lifetime of the assets, he said.

“Simply, it means we can propose keeping rate increases to less than 4 per cent.”

Suggested ates seem to be all over the place. In February: Wellington City rates sitting at 4.5 per cent increase – mayor wants to trim more fat

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said if the council did not make the cuts, residents would have faced a 7.1 per cent increase in 2018/19 to pay for big ticket items, such as the Town Hall restoration and Sir Peter Jackson’s movie museum.

Trimming the fat had whittled it down to 4.5 per cent but his ambition was to get it down in the 3 per cent region and keep it consistent over the next decade.

Now it is “under 4%” – and doubling debt.

“We want to keep Wellington more affordable by looking closely at what we are spending … I want to get the rates down by [saving] about $10m.”

And by adding half a billion dollars of debt.

The SIS dictated secret trial in Wellington

There was an unusual top secret trial in Wellington last week, where neither a Melbourne woman contesting the cancellation  of her New Zealand passport, nor her lawyer, nor any media, were allowed to attend the hearing.

Andrew Geddis at The Spinoff:  The bizarre case of the NZ court case hidden from public and media scrutiny

Something quite strange is happening at the High Court in Wellington this week. Journalists doing their regular rounds of that place’s pathos, bathos, high drama and human frailty came across a closed courtroom with nothing to say what was going on inside its doors, heightened security outside of them and strange “men in dark suits” lurking in the nearby halls.

Upon asking what was up – journalists are pesky like that – they were told they weren’t allowed to know before quickly being ushered away by court security officers. Which, of course, simply makes everyone that much more curious about what on earth could be going on.

The suspicions of at least some of us were confirmed when Justice Venning, the Chief High Court Judge, released a statement confirming the subject of the case.

The statement:

Geddis:

How do we know this? Because her case already has been before the High Court last year, when she sought to challenge the government’s claim that not only did her appeal have to be held in secret, but that neither she nor her lawyer were allowed to know the reasons why her passport had been cancelled.

Those reasons, said the government, constituted “classified security information”. And under the Passports Act 2002, it’s not just the public and press who can’t be in the courtroom to hear the content of such information. Neither can the person whose passport is cancelled, nor that person’s lawyer.

That does sound bizarrre.

So, here’s what is happening in the High Court in Wellington. A woman is asking to get her passport back after the government took it off her. She is doing so without knowing the evidence the government has for deciding she represents a security risk, without being able to be in the court to watch the case being argued, and without being able to have her own lawyer present to argue for her (although some unnamed “advocates” have been appointed to “assist with issues that have to be dealt with” in her absence).

And none of us can go in and watch the case. Nor can the media go in to watch it on our behalf.

Closed justice, in a country where open justice is supposed to be an important principle.

Matt Nippert at NZH:  Secret Wellington High Court national security hearing lambasted as ‘Kafkaesque’

A Wellington basement courtroom last week became the scene for what a Green MP called “Kafkaesque” and civil liberties advocates described as “security theatre performance”.

MP Golriz Gharaman, the Green Party spokesperson for security and intelligence issues, said the court’s acceptance of classified information in this one-sided fashion was unjust.

“The courts are asked to base their decision on so-called facts, presented by just one side. It’s Kafkaesque – you can’t answer the case against you, because you can’t know the case against you,” she said.

The woman’s passport was cancelled in May 2016, but the protocols to allow secret trials was signed after that, in January 2017.

The Herald can reveal the case concerns a Melbourne-based New Zealander who in May 2016 had her passport cancelled on national security grounds by then-Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne.

A copy of the protocol governing passport cases where courts are asked to consider evidence classified as secret… signed last January by then-attorney-general Chris Finlayson and chief justice Sian Elias, prescribes: The extensive use of “tamper-proof envelopes”; requirements for court staff to stand watch over locked cabinets during lunch breaks, and; a ban on the public, media and even those accused by such evidence – or their lawyers – from being present during its presentation.

The eight-page protocol also allows for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) to insist that hearings be relocated from a courtroom to any location or their choosing, or to require judges writing up their decision to only use a computer supplied by the intelligence.

Cate Brett, a spokesperson for the Courts, directed questions about the protocol to the relevant minister.

The processes and procedures adopted this week in Wellington were “required by law” and it was “not appropriate to a judge to comment on how a case is conducted”, she said.

Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the courts and the SIS, issued a statement backing the handling of the case.

“There’s a balance to be struck between the vital principal of open justice and the equally important need for national security to be maintained and I believe the current protocol achieves that balance,” he said.

The protocol was put in place before Little became Minister of Justice, but he believes it strikes the right balance. As leader of the Opposition Little was on the Intelligence and Security Committee sol may have been aware of the protocol when it was signed.

Dunne used powers available to him under the Passport Act to cancel the woman’s travel documents if he believed the passport holder was intending to take part in terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in a country other than New Zealand.

In earlier pre-trail rulings Justice Robert Dobson mulled the possibility of this classified information coming from agencies outside New Zealand.

The self-represented woman, whose identity is suppressed, is seeking a judicial review of Dunne’s decisions, but has faced a legal labyrinth over the protocols which requires her to challenge the Minister’s decision without being able to know why it was made.

In her absence the court has appointed special advocates – allowed to attend the secret closed hearings – to assist the court when considering the classified information.

The case is complex. The first scheduled date for a substantive hearing – in June 2017 – was abandoned and no new date has yet been set. An appeal lodged with the Court of Appeal by the women was then abandoned, and twice during the past year judgements have had to be amended and reissued.

Without a passport the woman must be stuck in Australia, unless they deport her to New Zealand. She presumably won’t be able to travel here without a passport, and wouldn’t be able to return to Australia.

Illegally raising rents?

Grant Robertson says he will ‘make an example of any landlords found to be illegally raising their rents to exploit students’.

RNZ:  Robertson asks students to dob in dodgy landlords

From 1 January, the cap on student allowance and living cost loans rose by $50, a Labour election campaign promise.

Since then some students have complained of landlords raising rents to an unreasonable level in response.

Rental prices in Wellington for December were up $30 on October’s figures, according to Trade Me numbers.

Its Property Rental Index showed the median price had risen from $450 to $480 since October, peaking back up to match the record set last January.

If the Wellingtom flat market is anything like Dunedin’s then calendar year leases will be common, and it is common for flats to be cleaned, done up and re let. Annual increases in rental are also likely to be common.

Mr Robertson invited students to get in touch if they believed a landlord was raising rents illegally, and within 10 hours, he said, he had received dozens of reports.

“There are rules in the residential tenancies act about not putting rent up above the market rate, and we are looking very closely at some of the examples that have been put to us today to see if they would breach that act.”

I don’t know what the rules are, but in a normal market prices are set by supply and demand. if prices are too high the market will reject them. I’m not sure how rents can be put above ‘market prices’ if they are being accepted by tenants.

Property prices have been rising, that will put pressure on rental rates.

The government that Robertson is a part of may be deterring people from remaining as landlords or becoming landlords, this will put pressure on rental rates.

Are there rules in the residential tenancies act against government policies pushing up rental prices?

Wellington rail strike

Winston Peters may have got what he wanted, back to the seventies – where transport strikes were a regular disruptive occurrence.

Wellington is being severely disrupted today with a 24 hour rail strike, the first for over twenty years.

Wellington City Council’s advice:

*Don’t bring your car into town if you don’t have pre-arranged parking
*Try to arrange with neighbours or work colleagues to share a ride in their cars if they normally bring them into town, but expect delays
* Normal parking rules apply
* The 2-hour time limit will be enforced throughout the CBD

Stuff:  Wellington train strike sparks commuter chaos

Rail Maritime Transport Union workers announced on Tuesday that they would strike over employment conditions after hitting an impasse with train operators Transdev Wellington and Hyundai Rotem.

It would be the first industrial action since 1994 to affect the Wellington rail network for longer than two hours.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Train workers will stop work for 24 hours, starting from 2am today affecting all commuter services on Johnsonville Hutt, Melling, Wairarapa, and Kāpiti lines.

* Around 30,000 train commuters will be affected.

* Metlink said on Tuesday night there would be no bus replacements.

* Rail commuters are advised to make alternative transport arrangements, or consider not travelling at all.

Normal bus services will continue to run, but may be delayed by heavy traffic.

NZTA warns roads will be more busy than usual, and commuters should allow extra time.

East by West Ferries will operate as normal.

Airport Flyer buses will run as normal, but could face delays.

* NCEA students have been told exams will not be cancelled, and they should allow extra travel time.

This will add to stress for students in particular, as well as commuters.