This election campaign is getting no less strange as it heads on down to the wire. Winston Peters is still refusing to say whether a vote for New Zealand First is a vote for changing the current government and its awful, awful policies, or ensuring that it gets three more years in office to expand them. Read the rest of this entry »
For the last two days, I’ve turned my column over to a couple of guest columnists who are first time voters. They’ve been asked to explain why they were voting, for whom and what role they thought their parental upbringing had played in shaping their political beliefs ; and at the end, to choose a piece of music. Yesterday’s column was by centre-right voter James Penn. Today’s guest columnist is Ana Avia-O’Connor, 19, an Accounting/Law double major from Christchurch – who will be casting her first time vote on Saturday for the Greens.
If I didn’t know any better, it would seem the world has conspired for me to be a Green Party voter. Parents, Green voters? Check. Participation in bilingual education that stressed the importance of inquiry, solidarity and the Treaty? Check. Some sort of vegetarian leanings (seven years and counting, jus’ sayin’)? Check. However, above all of that, I’m voting Green because I believe in supporting the importance of every New Zealander’s contribution to Aotearoa, from the hairdresser in Foxton to the fisherman in Bluff. You could say that I like the cut of the Greens’ jib. Read the rest of this entry »
For the next two days, I’m turning my column over to two guest columnists who are first time voters. I’ve asked them to explain why they were voting, for whom and what role they thought their parental upbringing had played in shaping their political beliefs ; and at the end, to choose a piece of music. One guest columnist will be from the centre right, one from the centre left. Today’s column is from the centre right – by James Penn, age 20, 2nd year student at the University of Auckland, studying a conjoint LLB and BCom, majoring in economics and finance.
As someone who likes to consider himself, in admittedly vainglorious fashion, a considered and rational actor, the act of voting for the first time is a somewhat confusing one. I know that my vote has a close to zero chance of actually influencing the outcome of Parliament. The chance I will cast the marginal vote that adds to National or Act’s number of seats in Parliament is miniscule. The chance, even if I did, that doing so would affect the government makes voting on a strictly practical level even more spurious as a worthwhile exercise.
But somehow I have spent a large amount of time (perhaps detrimentally so, depending on the outcome of my upcoming exams) agonising over how to cast my first vote in a national election. Read the rest of this entry »
[See correction below. link]
The credibility issues have come down to two main ones:
1 The email. This has to do with whether Key knowingly agreed to use our immigration rules as a tool to ensnare and ultimately extradite Kim Dotcom, and do so largely at the behest of Hollywood’s leading corporates and their best friend in the White House, vice-President Joseph Biden. Some of the debate in the last few days has turned on the reliability of a Warners email that seems to set out this plan in black and white. IMO, the email is just the icing on the cake – given that the PM (at the same October 2011 meeting with Warners execs) had agreed to change our labour laws to their benefit. Meaning: the email is entirely consistent with a pattern of collusion. Read the rest of this entry »
All that hanging out with the All Blacks clearly hasn’t taught Prime Minister John Key a thing about the ethics of playing the ball, and not the man. Still, in slagging off Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald as “Dotcom’s little henchman” Key is being consistent with the politics of character assassination that has been the hallmark of his office for some time, with and without the help of Key’s own henchman, Cameron Slater.
Before getting onto the specifics of Key’s defence, the change in his relationship with the GCSB is, literally, incredible. The John Key of last year has vanished in a puff of smoke. Remember the Key who claimed to be unaware of what on earth the GCSB was up to – trust him, he knew nothing, nothing about the joint Police/FBI/GCSB operation being mounted on Kim Dotcom’s home until virtually the day it happened? All gone. Now we are being expected to regard him as the eagle-eyed monitor who crisply intercepted the GCSB’s proposed new modus operandi and knocked them back when they presumed to step over the line. Read the rest of this entry »
For the Syrian people, the next ten years offers them two really unpleasant choices. They can be slaughtered by the forces of the Islamic State, or take their chances with another decade of the murderous stalemate into which the Syrian civil war has now descended. That’s the stark backdrop for this afternoon’s speech by US President Barack Obama. The US is not offering anyone victory, or peace. At best, Obama is trying to use American airpower and the assistance of regional allies with a self-interested stake in the outcome (ie Turkey and Saudi Arabia) to restore the conditions on the Syrian battlefield to a point where the current bloody stalemate can be perpetuated for years to come. In the process, Obama has to apply significant US military force within Syria against the IS rebels, yet without giving the impression that the US and the Saudis are propping up the Assad regime.
Hmmm. So National’s tax cuts package turns out to be one of those television advertisements that screams a headline promise – perfect skin! a youth tonic that works! – while in very small print there’s an out clause: special conditions may apply. Heading into the home stretch of this election campaign the government yesterday admitted it didn’t know whether it can afford tax cuts at all, much less give any detail on what they may deliver, when and to whom. Tax cuts, though! Because you’re worth it.
As far as anyone can tell, the government is planning to carve out the tax cuts from the $1.5 billion a year it has set aside for discretionary spending over the next three years. Apparently, some of those funds will be used (a) to meet the unknown shortfalls in health and education as they arise, some of it will also go (b) into repaying debt and the rest… well, $500-750 million might be available in future for (c) a teeny tiny tax cut package to low and middle income workers in 2017, all else permitting, no guarantees. Read the rest of this entry »
Say one thing for Russian President Vladimir Putin. At least he’s given NATO a purpose in life. Right now, that consists of being something that Barack Obama and David Cameron can hide behind, point at Putin, and say : “Go get him, tiger.” Just what NATO is supposed to do about Putin’s armed advance into eastern Ukraine is less than clear. But there is a lot of “steely determination” around in high places. Read the rest of this entry »
Heading into the election home stretch, voters have a clear choice about the best way to help low and middle income New Zealanders. They can do so by gradually lifting the minimum wage (as the Greens propose ) or by a small tax cut, as the government seems about to announce. The minimum wage boost – by 75 cents an hour to $15 in December, and then by gradual annual increments to $18 an hour by 2017 – that the Greens are talking about is just one part of a packet of employment measures that would include scrapping youth rates and the 90 day trial period, introducing a redundancy package of four weeks, offsetting any abatement effect of the policy package for those receiving Working For Families, and finally… ditching the exception made by the government (during the Hobbit negotiations) for workers in the screen industry, which denies them normal workplace safeguards and entitlements.
Right now, Prime Minister John Key seems intent on limiting the scope of any inquiry into his government’s dealings with Cameron Slater. The declared aim is to make that inquiry solely about Judith Collins’ behavior with respect to the Serious Fraud Office. Nice try, but it won’t wash. What the Dirty Politics book and other emails have revealed is a pattern of misbehavior that has involved the SIS, ACC, Cabinet Ministers and staff in the Prime Minister’s office. Meaning : it is a problem that seems to have involved the systematic misuse of government information and procedures (such as the Official Information Act) in order to launch attacks on public servants and political opponents alike. Finally (see below) there is email evidence that could even entail criminal behavior.
Despite the hard evidence contained in the emails (written by the individuals involved) in Hager’s book, Key has been living in denial since its publication. For well over a week now, Key has tried in vain to discredit the book until finally on Friday, the room for living in denial finally ran out. Read the rest of this entry »