Editorials 30 June 2010

June 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald focuses on :

The second was the introduction of a grandly titled Media Industry Development Decree. It means, among other things, that the Fiji Times, the country’s oldest and largest newspaper, has three months to remove Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd as its owner or face closure.

If the first development borders on farce, the second should remove any lingering illusions about the regime’s view of democratic niceties. The decree effectively eliminates freedom of expression in Fiji.

Aside from the restriction on foreign ownership, a tribunal has been established to ensure nothing is printed or broadcast against the “national interest or public order”.

In essence, Fijians will no longer know what their rulers are up to. Special attention is being paid to the Fiji Times because, according to the Attorney-General, it has been “the purveyor of negativity, at least for the past three years”.

The move against the media is part of an ongoing removal of Fijians’ rights. This has included the abrogation of the constitution, the squashing of dissent and the dishonouring of pledges for a return to democracy.

There is sadly no evidence that there will be a return to democracy. I can’t see a scenario where the Commodore will give up power and let Fijians actually decide on their Government.

This step should also occasion a rethink by New Zealanders who spend their holidays in Fiji. Tim Pankhurst, of the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee has suggested a boycott.

He has a point. Tourists might like to say that Fijian businesses and jobs should not be penalised for the sins of the regime. But they are undermining their own country’s diplomatic efforts.

Fiji’s tourism-driven economy attracts 60 per cent of its patronage from New Zealand and Australia. No official boycott can be imposed, nor should it be.

But a rethink by would-be tourists would apply further pressure. And if, ultimately, it is up to the Fijian people to send Commodore Bainimarama back to the barracks, tourists temporarily moving away from Fiji for other Pacific destinations would hammer home a message about the pariah status of their rulers.

Rather than out all the onus on consumers, the media could play their part. Rather than just write , APN and Fairfax could refuse to accept advertising for Fiji tourism. That would be a sign of solidarity with their colleagues in Fiji, and show real commitment rather than just words.

The Press lashes :

Football prides itself on being the “beautiful game”, but the current World Cup in South Africa has been marred by too many ugly refereeing decisions.

One of the most egregious occurred this week when England’s Frank Lampard was not awarded a goal against Germany despite the ball clearly crossing the goal line after hitting the crossbar.

This must serve as a wake-up call for Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and his top officials to get their heads out of the sand and harness the electronic technology successfully used by so many other sports.

It is a no brainer.

The Dom Post looks at in prisons:

But surely an outright ban goes too far? How about halfway measures first, such as a prison smoking-room, or a ban on smoking in cells? If she is wedded to a total ban, what are known as “cessation assistance” programmes – already available to anyone, including the incarcerated, who want to quit – must be funded appropriately. …

As usual with any broadbrush proposal, the devil will be in the detail. But that detail should acknowledge union unease. The minister has already attended the funeral of one prison guard this year – a political show that bore an uncanny resemblance to former prime minister Helen Clark’s infamous appearance at the Folole Muliaga funeral in 2007. Ms Collins does not want the option of attending another.

What an incredibly stupid comparison, in terms of funerals. Jason Palmer was employed by the Government and died doing his job, and as a result of his job. I don’t know anyone who thinks a Minister should not attend the funeral of law & order professionals who get killed by criminals. In fact it is almost disrespectful not to go.

What that has in common with the circus generated around the Muliaga’s I don’t know.

The ODT also looks at smoking:

With this background, it may have surprised some readers to learn that the inmates of our prisons are permitted to smoke, including in their cells, unlike in Canada, some British prisons, and those in some Australian states, where the practice is banned.

The intention of the Minister of Corrections to ban smoking in our jails from July next year is certainly easily justified on health grounds alone, and the overseas precedent suggests the fears being raised here by vested interests are largely groundless. …

Objectors have raised two main issues: the right of prisoners to smoke in what is effectively their “own home”; and the potential for violent reaction from prisoners required to cease smoking.

The first claim is groundless.

Prisoners are, in effect, tenants.

The State, as landlord, can and does impose conditions of use.

Additionally, prisoners who do not smoke – and prison guards – are entitled to not be confined in conditions where their own health may be damaged by second-hand smoke.

The department has anticipated prisoner reaction by giving a year’s notice of the measure, and by its intention to offer a cessation programme, including nicotine replacements, for those who seek such help.

That approach is not unreasonable.

Meanwhile 65% of people in Labour’s poll say they back the ban, so I expect we will see them come out backing it shortly.

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21 Responses to “Editorials 30 June 2010”

  1. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Prisoners are, in effect, tenants.

    Is the ODT letting the polytech journalism interns write their editorials now? A tenancy is a contract, formed freely between two parties, and under conditions agreed by both before the tenancy commenced. It can also be ended by either party at any time. I’m sure prisoners are overjoyed at the news that, according to the ODT, they can all move out tomorrow.

    The State, as landlord, can and does impose conditions of use

    Alright you idiot, we’ll play your game and pretend they’re tenants. The landlord, when he “let” them move in, told them they could smoke. Now, part way through the “tenancy” he’s arbitrarily changing the conditions of the lease. That’d be… what’s the word?… oh yeah, illegal.

    That’s not even a strawman argument, as even straw has some substance. I’d suggest this ignoramus be sent back to writing the obits, but it’s apparent he’d have trouble defining exactly what “dead” meant.

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  2. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    APN and Fairfax could refuse to accept advertising for Fiji tourism. That would be a sign of solidarity with their colleagues in Fiji, and show real commitment rather than just words.

    Now we are talking.
    But do we really know what is going on in Fiji?

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  3. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Rex
    you are absolutely correct if the tenant argument is used. It is specious and rubbish.

    They are convicts and as such do not have the same rights as citizens outside prison (at least they shouldn’t).
    To be fair if the convicts can’t smoke, then neither should the staff both for health reasons and for discipline purposes.

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  4. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    But do we really know what is going on in Fiji?

    If the military government is doing its job – no!

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  5. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    What that has in common with the circus generated around the Muliaga’s I don’t know.

    One could suggest that considering the factors, Clark had no business attending the Folole Muliaga funeral in 2007.

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  6. Whaleoil (767 comments) says:

    So let me get this straight. We must all boycott Fiji because their government, albeit a military government controls the media now. I don’t see Tim Pankhurst calling for similar boycotts of China? Indeed we are busy implementing a free-trade agreement with them and there is sure as hell no democracy there, just ask the Tibetans.

    Meanwhile DPF’s misses the whole deal over Fiji in that they have just joined the non-aligned movement. They now correspond and deal with countries like China, Libya, Iran, Venezuela etc….do you really think they got their ideas for media control from anywhere other than the Chinese.

    New Zealand through our doctrinaire foreign policy has actually caused the situation to be worse than it had to be.

    Meanwhile we merrily trade with countries with far worse democratic records all the time insisting that Fiji plays by different rules. Why is that? What is special about Fiji that we have to meddle with their internal politics?

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  7. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    “Why is that? What is special about Fiji that we have to meddle with their internal politics?”

    Because we are bullies and they are smaller than us? :)

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  8. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Tim Pankhurst, of the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee”

    Oh gawd.. should I laff or cry??

    Wasn’t there a thread on these kind of idiotic anachronisms/ paradoxes yesterday?

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  9. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    Will the new 1000 bed Wiri prison, to be privately run, also have a smoking ban?

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  10. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    Interesting point Yvette – I wonder if there is a connection. If there was not any smoking ban then they would have to try and do a private workplace exemption.

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  11. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    It’s just that private interest is to make money with least extra expenses or hassles. A inmate population that is ‘happy’ is probably more profitable than one that will be as contrary as current threats in reaction to the announced ban suggest they may be.

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  12. snowy (108 comments) says:

    With our prisons overpopulated, surely we should be encouraging inmates to smoke?

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  13. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    Legislation on smoking in workplaces and prisons

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  14. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Whaleoil @2:50 pm

    Don’t you understand its simple… We trade with China… Fiji is a liability it costs us..

    Just hypercritical common sense really… what were you thinking.

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  15. GJ (329 comments) says:

    Been to Fiji a number of times over the years. I must say how impressed I was with a visit to Suva a month ago. There has been a vast improvment and the people seem to like what is happening up there.
    This is vastly different to what the media down here would try to portray. I was amazed really.

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  16. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Before bothering to get too outraged or excited regarding the prisoners not being allowed to smoke, the question that should be asked is what is the cost/benefit of such a decision?

    I assume Rex has concerns about the effects this will have on prisoner conduct and rehabilitation, while others are excited that another “right” is to be removed from prisoners – perhaps as an added disincentive to committing crime. Has such analysis been done? If not, why not?

    My view is that on the whole I don’t care about prisoners smoking, but realise allowing them to do so in the cells may impose costs which will not be recouped and specifically go to prison funding (increased overheads for smoke damage, guards not working in a smokefree environment, etc – while overall externalities may be covered through taxation, the taxation is not necessarily going to go to cover this damage specifically), so there is perhaps a basis for stopping that. However, I have concerns about a blanket ban (including outside areas? Prisons have outside areas, right?) as I don’t see what the potential benefits are. I’m pretty sure the externalities of smoking are internalised by the taxation paid on the cigarettes. (From recollection, Crampton has an analysis of internalisation of the external cost of smoking and comes to that conclusion. I hope I’m not wrong about that. If I am, my apologies.)

    And yes, on making a distinction between Fiji and China, it’s pragmatic and self-interested hypocrisy.

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  17. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Whaleoil (456) Says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you for pointing that out Whale.

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  18. Armotur (34 comments) says:

    Re: Fiji & “APN and Fairfax could refuse…………”

    Yep, in my mind as well, I’ll watch with interest……..somehow I doubt it.

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  19. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    These media people (like the Herald Editorial writer) claiming that the Fijian government is infringing on their freedom of speech make me nauseous.

    In fact, in their own newspapers, they run the biggest blockade on freedom of speech that has been witnessed since the Third Reich.

    Fiji’s leaders are under no obligation to give free reign to comment to a bunch of wet behind the ears liberals, selected by editors on their political preferences, and who are only ever going to give the public a one way story on Fiji.

    The media have well earned Fiji’s contempt. If journalists and editors had demonstrated the slightest concern with balance in their writing and reporting and opinion over the least few decades, then one might have some sympathy for their plight. The sad truth is that the modern media is wall to wall liberal leftists. Unable to provide any news, opinion or critical analysis that does not conform to Progressive thinking guidelines.

    The NZ media has consistently refused to provide columnists, opinion writers or journalists with any kind of traditional Conservative viewpoint with a voice. Like companies once discriminated on race, with signs saying “No blacks”, so the signs today, if they were ever honestly put on display, would say “No Conservatives”.

    To get a job in the media you have to be pro-global warming, anti Iraq war, ready to slander George Bush or Sarah Palin at the drop of a hat, be hopelessly and endlessly enamoured of Barack Obama, and generally conform to every sick Progressive position on every issue. In fact unless its an issue the Progressives deem important, or approve, then the media won’t even damn well allow a word to be printed or spoken on it. A good example of this is how they have refused a voice to anyone considered anti AGW.

    If Fiji had kicked real journalists and objective reporters out of the country, then dimwits like Tim Pankhurst and his pathetic front for progressive political propaganda, the NZ Media Freedom Committee, might have a point. However all Fiji has done is taken a stand against biased reporting from a sector of society that has reached the end of its use by date.

    The well of journalism has long ago been poisoned by Progressive politics, and the media’s treatment in Fiji is just something they’ve been begging for for a long time. They cannot realistically expect Fiji to provide them with what they call free speech when they actually have such disdain for that concept themselves.

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  20. Haiku Dave (265 comments) says:

    the old ‘liberal
    media’ myth paraded
    in all its glory

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  21. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Red that is the single most full of shit comment you have ever produced.

    Well done a major achievement.

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