Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Knives

Let's stop the equivocation; Judith Collins has to go.  She's caught in a clear conflict of interest that hasn't been declared properly or in a timely fashion.  That's totally unacceptable.
What's Regular John done to piss me off this time?  Where do I start?  From the beginning, I suppose:
- He's given Mrs Collins a "final warning".  Too soft, dismiss her.
- He's described the behaviour as "...cumulative effects of her interactions...could lead to a perception of a conflict of interest".  Ummm, no, it's much worse than that.  Any of the individual interactions do lead to the perception.  And forget the perception, there's a real conflict of interest
.  
- He's applied a different standard to himself than he has to Mrs Collins, as folllows:
"Judith had a responsibility when she was asked the questions not just to answer the question directly but to tell me and the New Zealand public everything that had gone on," [Mr Key] said.
In the spirit of "telling the NZ public everything", let's see the advice you relied on, Mr PM, so we can confirm that the failure to check the non-English version of the website is the only incorrect piece of the advice
.  
Let's sort that out for starters and see what happens next.

Therapy? - Troublegum, 1994

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

All Over The World

A day after the election date is announced the press have bad news for Mr Key.  This evening I'll highlight just one example - Stuff's headline that says "Key misled media over Collins Chinese link".  Indeed he did, and more than the article dares to admit.

Not to be outdone, Granny has said
"A string of National Party high-flyers have been entertained by the milk exporter at the centre of a conflict of interest row involving Justice Minister Judith Collins and her husband, a director of the company."
In the article Bryce Edwards labels the approach as pragmatic, and on reading this the begrudging respect I held for Dr Edwards' views vanished.  Mrs Collins' behaviour has been corrupt, and this has been compounded by her nonchalance; Dr Edwards should know better.

Pixies - Bossanova, 1990

Monday, 10 March 2014

Bank Holiday

The election is to be held on 20 September, thanks in part to Mr Banks and the most prominent of his public transgressions.  Goes to show that this is a government that is out of ideas; they don't even have enough in their legislative program to fill out the full term.

Blur - Parklife, 1994

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

They'll Soon Discover

The Cabinet Manual said:

Product endorsement

2.87No Minister should endorse in any media any product or service. Ministers may, however, appear in party political advertisements or in non-political advertisements or announcements in the public interest (promoting, for example, water safety), where no fee would be expected or accepted.
2.88Ministers receive many invitations for events and speaking engagements. Ministers should carefully consider which invitations they will accept, and try to honour invitations from a variety of organisations.
2.89When accepting an invitation, a Minister should inform the organisation that it may not:
  1. use any photos taken of the Minister at the event; or
  2. publicise the event,
in a way that could be perceived as an endorsement by the Minister of the organisation, or its products or services.
2.90In speeches, it is appropriate for a Minister to speak positively about the objectives and achievements of an organisation or business. It is not appropriate for a Minister to explicitly promote that organisation, or its products or services.
There's no wiggle room there, especially for an experienced minister, and one who is a lawyer to boot.  Time for resignation, solely on the grounds above.

But wait, there's more.

The product endorsed is from a company* who has, as one of their directors, the minister's spouse.  Forget the idea of a perceived conflict of interest, there is a clear undeclared and unmanaged conflict of interest.  That is simply corrupt, and by itself is also grounds for resignation.

So, let's have not one, but two resignations.  Ministerial warrants first, seat in parliament second.  There's still time for a by-election before the general election, and it won't affect the balance of power because the good people of Papakura will most certainly vote in a blueberry lamington with the correct colour rosette pinned to it..

* Hat-tip - Almost a year ago Frankly Speaking did a thorough job of identifying the links between the aforementioned company and the sale of the Crafar farms.  It's not over, yet.

The Shins - SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Soundtrack, 2004

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

War Pigs

I wanted to write about something important, rather than trite crap like trusts and religious hypocrites (sorry about those last two posts, I couldn't help myself), and what could be more important than a superpower invading one of its neighbours and pissing off most of the rest of the world?  Well, OK, a few things, but it's been bugging me.
It seems that the media have been looking for relevance to NZ and it's been pretty difficult to find any.  After all, Ukraine is pretty difficult to spot on a map of Europe for most of the people I asked.  The country that first caught my eye turned out to be Poland (oops - though to be fair Russia has invaded them too, within living memory) and it was only when I spotted the Crimean Peninsula that I knew I'd found it.
So lucky for the media, Regular John has come to their rescue and said our athletes at the Winter Olympics should not boycott the games; in doing so has proved again he has fewer principles than Robert Muldoon.  Evidently invading your neighbour is OK when it's Ukraine, but not when it's Afghanistan.
Our Trade Minister, Tim Groser, has been pulled out of Russia, and that's seen to be an expression of our displeasure.  The potential for cruel comment is immense.  Let's settle for "more vodka, anyone?"

Black Sabbath - Paranoid, 1970

God Only Knows

Colin Craig has decided to slice and dice his defamation action against Russel Norman.  Instead of suing over the full sentence that he took offense to, he's asked his lawyers to focus on the sexist part and leave the homophobic bit out, for now.  Which leaves it looking to me a lot like Mr Craig acknowledges he can't defend against the homophobia part because he genuinely is a raving homophobe.  There's votes in that for him, so it could be a sensible strategy.
So he's suing on the basis of half a sentence.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
It's still my opinion that Dr Norman is in trouble, though.  It's possible that Mr Craig believes that women should also be allowed to go to the laundry and even out to the washing line.  But when I heard the "half a defamation case" reported today it merely served to reinforce my opinion that Mr Craig does not think anything at all, and on that basis Dr Norman must be wrong about what Mr Craig thinks
Meanwhile, aren't Regular John's potential coalition partners looking attractive?  Vote National, get Mr Incest.  No, sorry, that'd be Dr Incest.  But wait, there's more, we'll throw in Mr Chemtrails and a bonus defamation action, for free.  Woohoo.  All we need now is Peter Dunne and we have the best multi-arsed hydra you could imagine.
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds, 1966

Secrets

Trusts.  The general concept of trusts, for individuals and families, doesn't particularly bother me, and if I ever see a use for one I'll set one up.  However...
Political parties have discovered that trusts can be used to hide their sources of funding.  I have a problem with that, because not knowing who is donating to a political party gives me an incomplete knowledge of the party, and thus I am under-informed when I come around to voting. It would be nice to say that by far the worst at abusing trusts are the National party, but since they won't tell us anything about the Waitemata Trust, or the Whitechapel Trust, or any of the other methods to hide the sources of their funding it's impossible to be sure.  So much for transparency.
Even ACT are a little better off, at least we know who most of the small bunch of very rich lunatics that donate to ACT are.  They probably donate to National too, how would we know?
And that leads me to one of life's little mysteries.  We are all lead to believe National are amazingly popular.  Like, they're maybe going to win an outright majority in the next election, if you listen to some pundits and polls.  Regular John is the most popular PM ever*.  How is it then that people (quite a few people) are afraid to acknowledge they support National, to the extent that they are prepared to chuck some cash (quite a bit of cash) National's way?  It's not as if we are a particularly partisan society, and even if we were, apparently every second voter you meet is going to vote for National.  So let's have some transparency and some names; who is it that donates to National?
It would be nice to say David Cunliffe hasn't stuffed up with the trust he set up when he ran to be leader of the Labour Party.  There's been a bit of comment on it, but it's a real beltway issue.  The stuff up, despite what other commenters have said, is the initial act of setting up a trust.  The subsequent actions, acknowledging the open donors and repaying the ones who wished to remain anonymous, are fine and set the standard for other political parties.  I hope Regular John keeps going on about it, because he's the most vulnerable one.
BTW - Vernon Small your column was utter crap.
* except the other PM who was more popular, whose name is not to be mentioned.
The Bleeders - As Sweet As Sin, 2006

Monday, 3 March 2014

Nimrod's Son

ACT's new leader (good luck with that, btw), Jamie Whyte, expressed his opinion on incest last week, and it's been thoroughly ridiculed elsewhere by better minds than mine.
Granny was kind enough to let our PM express his opinion on the matter because, of course, he is an expert on every other party leader and their policies and positions.  Not so good with his own (no increase in GST anyone?), but never mind.  So what was Regular John's opinion?.
"Prime Minister John Key says Act Leader and potential parliamentary ally Jamie Whyte's incest comments are "stupid" and a distraction from important issues."
Gosh, harsh words.  "...a distraction from important issues...".  Thanks for flagging that John, after all you are the expert on flagging distracting issues.

Pixies - Come On Pilgrim, 1987