Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Corbyn called for NATO to be closed

August 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reported:

Jeremy Corbyn has called for Nato to be “closed down”, it emerged today as defence chiefs warned his comments about the organisation are “weakening western civilisation”. 

In footage uncovered by the Telegraph the Labour leader said the military alliance was an “engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies” and called for it to “give up, go home and go away.”

He’s like the left wing version of Trump. Both would be disasters if they ever became Prime Minister or President.

Mr Corbyn on Thursday was criticised after he refused to say whether he would defend a Nato ally if it were invaded by Russia.

There is only one correct answer to that. It is “Of course Article 5 says ‘that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all’ so we honour our word without fail.”

Article 5 has been invoked once only. On the 4th of October 2011 after the 9/11 attacks on the US.

In September 2014, Mr Corbyn was filmed declaring: “1990 should have been the time for Nato to shut up shop, give up, go home and go away. Why don’t we turn it around, and close down Nato?

“Nato is an engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies and the major nations of this world, make no illusions about that.”

Corbyn seems to be upset that NATO stopped the Soviet Union’s expansion.

Mr Rasmussen told the Telegraph: “I am very concerned about his unwillingness to say clearly that Nato of course will defend any ally if they are attacked. Solidarity within the defence alliance is Nato’s raison d’être.

In line with Mr Trump in the United States, Mr Corbyn now raises doubt about this commitment to defend friends and allies. Thus they are tempting President Putin to aggression and they are weakening Nato and the entire Western civilisation.”

Putin knows what weakness is. He would exploit it without mercy.

Lord Roberson, the former Labour defence secretary and Secretary General of Nato, said: “It beggars belief that the leader of the party most responsible for the collective security pact of Nato should be so reckless as to undermine it by refusing to say he would come to the aid of an ally.

“Even in its darkest, daftest days in the past the Labour Party stuck to its commitment to Nato and to the defence of any ally attacked.

“The public will be dismayed and disgusted by what appears to be an abdication of Britain’s responsibility in a dangerous world. “

If Corbyn is re-elected leader, sensible Labour MPs really need to set up their own party and abandon Labour to Corbyn.

 

The elite backlash on Brexit

August 21st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Brendan O’Neill writes in The Spectator:

At the same time, a gang of peers is plotting to hold up Brexit. Led by Patience Wheatcroft (if you do titles, which I don’t, she is Baroness Wheatcroft of Blackheath, though of course not one soul in Blackheath ever voted for her), these ‘several dozen’ peers want to delay the enactment of Brexit, or what some of us call the people’s will, in the hope of bringing about a second referendum. A chance for us ignorant plebs to redeem ourselves and give the right answer. One of these peers, former Labour MP Oona King, now Baroness King of Bow (‘What?’, asks everyone in Bow), says she wants to ‘scrutinise’ the decision made by ‘the British people’ and ‘bring more facts to their attention’. Turns out the neo-aristocrats are a lot like the old aristocrats, fancying themselves as better placed than the little people to decide the fate of the nation.

Professors are joining the revolt of the elite, too. AC Grayling, the bouffanted atheist, has called on MPs not to support triggering Article 50 because Brexit was a ‘decision by crowd acclamation’ and ‘rule by crowd acclamation is a very poor method of government’. Dumb crowds. Other academics are threatening to quit Britain if something isn’t done about Brexit / the people. As one report puts it, ‘A rising tide of xenophobia [where?] and anti-intellectualism [ie. we’re stupid] following the Brexit vote is making academics think of leaving the country and discouraging others from applying for jobs here.’ What a temper tantrum. The people voted for something we don’t like, so we’re off! And they accuse the electorate of behaving like children.

If the elites do manage to prevent Brexit, then there will be a backlash like you have never seen. But they won’t succeed.

Smith makes Corbyn look moderate

August 20th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Owen Smith, the Labour leadership challenger, sparked controversy on Wednesday by suggesting a British government would have to negotiate with Isis to end the conflict in the Middle East.

Asked in a televised debate whether the terrorist group, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the west, should be allowed to join talks about resolving the conflicts in the Middle East, Smith said “all actors” should be involved.

Duff on Rudd

August 18th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

 

An interesting first hand account from Alan Duff:

Your columnist experienced the man first-hand about 12 years ago at a conference in Coolum, a sort of a think-tank collection of Aussies and Kiwis. I was not impressed.

That would be the CIS Consilium conference. Have been to one of them – incredibly intellectually invigorating.

A man I didn’t know interrupted and it was obvious by his self-certainty he was going to hijack my presentation. His casual insensitivity really annoyed me. The rule was, with 60 speakers over two days, no interruptions, period. No applause.

The man destined to be Australia’s Prime Minister proceeded to rip me apart, at least my arguments. To hell with that, if I didn’t outdo him I may as well sit down in disgrace. Even with a displeased crowd against him, Rudd didn’t blink as the words cascaded like some waterfall he’d designed to hit jutting rocks in a surprise spray, dive between stone contours like an invisible hand had briefly calmed the waters, then boom – you get the drift.

I now know that Rudd thinks any occasion is more about himself. I don’t think it was personal; we were strangers to each other. Though he did refer to the book and movie, I believe he just saw an opportunity to blow someone out of the water. And damned if I’d allow that to be me.

I did tell him to shut the hell up and, in a different breach of house rules by my fellow speakers and the audience, the room erupted in applause for me.

Wish I had been there.

The story rings very true to me. I’ve had another stories from very reliable sources about how Rudd at Trans-Tasman meetings would talk almost non-stop, and never let anyone else speak. It is one of the reasons so many of his colleagues hated him.

Quiet for a little while, he next tried to reinvent himself as head of the UN. A role that requires diplomacy skills he patently lacks. Kevin Rudd doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He’d have soon messed up in the UN role. But such is his ego you can never write the man off. If only.

The sad thing about him not being nominated is that he will now blame the Australian Government for robbing the world of his skills. If they had nominated him, then we may have had the fun of the first ever 0-0-15 vote in the Security Council to discourage!

Canadian Green leader may resign over anti-Israel policy

August 17th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

CBC reports:

Elizabeth May says she is questioning whether she can continue in her role as leader of the Green Party, after its members voted in favour of a resolution supporting sanctions against Israel, despite her own opposition to it.

The Greens became Canada’s first federal party to endorse the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement during the party’s biennial convention in Ottawa over the weekend. Some Canadian Jewish groups denounced the Green Party for supporting a boycott policy against Israel. The House of Commons condemned the movement in February.

“I’m struggling with the question of whether I should continue as leader or not, quite honestly,” May told Rosemary Barton in an interview with The National.

“I’m quite certain most of our members don’t support this policy, but weren’t fully engaged in the consensus building process we normally would have had,” she said.

“So if I can’t find a way to bring that back and have the members review it with a consensus decision-making process, then I have to profoundly question whether I can continue as leader and that’s obviously heart-breaking.”

Good to see a leader with principles.

World Vision responds to Hamas funding allegations

August 15th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

World Vision has released:

As a professional Christian, humanitarian organisation, we take our commitment to truth and transparency very seriously. For more than 65 years, we have stayed true to our mission to work with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice around the world. 

World Vision is seeking to understand the truth behind the allegations laid against Mohammad El Halabi. World Vision condemns any diversion of funds from any humanitarian organisation and strongly condemns any act of terrorism or support for those activities.

We first learned of the accusations last Thursday, August 4, where the charges were officially presented for the first time. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, World Vision has already suspended operations in Gaza. We are conducting a full review, including an externally conducted forensic audit, and will remain fully engaged with the investigation that is underway.

I think it would have more credibility if the entire review was done externally.

We will examine all the evidence behind the charges, and from those who independently examine our accountability standards. If any of these allegations are proven to be true, we will take swift and decisive action. Unfortunately, we still have not seen any of the evidence. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue to be able to clarify discrepancies, and we call for a fair and transparent legal process.

World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately US$22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to US$50 million being diverted hard to reconcile. Mohammad El Halabi was the manager of our Gaza operations only since October 2014; before that time he managed only portions of the Gaza budget. World Vision’s accountability processes cap the amount individuals in management positions at his level to a signing authority of US$15,000. 

I think the issue isn’t what was signed off, but where the money actually went.

UK Labour says references to electablility are biased!

August 14th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Smith’s campaign received a fillip on Wednesday when he was endorsed by the GMB union after he won a ballot of its members, 60% to 40%. Its general secretary, Tim Roache, said: “GMB members cannot afford for Labour to be talking to itself in a bubble for the next five years while the Tories run riot through our rights at work, our public services and our communities.”

Corbyn’s allies blame the result on “GMB political officers close to Watson” and claimed the ballot question “Who do you think is best placed to lead the Labour party to a general election victory and serve as prime minister?” was a leading one, because it made reference to electability.

Oh yes how awful that the members considered electability.

Labour’s civil war entered a bitter new phase with Jeremy Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson locked in a public spat about whether the party risks being taken over by hard left activists driven out in the 1980s.

Watson sent the leader’s office a four-page document, based on publicly available information, detailing what he said was evidence that Trotskyists had been attending meetings of grassroots pro-Corbyn Momentum pressure group and seeking to influence the Labour leadership election.

Corbyn is effectively a Trotskyist, so this is no surprise.

The Socialist party published an editorial on Tuesday which argued for a Labour split, even if it meant the party was left with just 20 MPs. “The civil war, now it is out in the open, cannot be simply called off,” the editorial said.

Glorious victory is in sight!

The Venezuela death spiral

August 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Venezuela is stuck in a doom loop that’s become a death spiral.

Its stores are empty, its people are starving, and its government is to blame. It has tried to repeal the law of supply and demand, and, in the process, eliminated any incentive for businesses to actually sell things. The result is that the country with the largest oil reserves in the world now has to resort to forced labor just to try to feed itself.

Their problems:

Now, at first, the regime was just spending more than it had, but eventually, after oil’s vertiginous drop, this became more than it could borrow as well. So it did what every bankrupt government does: It printed the money it needed. Which is why inflation went from 19 percent in 2012 to, the IMF estimates, 720 percent this year, and a projected 2,200 percent the next.

This is what the Greens call quantitative easing, as advocated by Russel Norman.

Venezuela, for is part, has resorted to a tried-and-untrue strategy for dealing with all these price increases. That’s pretending they haven’t happened. The government tells businesses what they’re allowed to charge

A popular socialist idea.

Something Venezuela’s government hasn’t quite managed to figure out, though, is that trying to force companies to sell at a loss means they won’t sell anything at all. It’s better to make nothing than to lose something.

But they have succeeded at stopping businesses make horrible profits.

That’s why Venezuela has had shortages of everything from food to beer tomedical supplies and even toilet paper. About the only thing it is well-supplied with are lines, to the point that it’s had to limit how many of them people areallowed to join.

So you have to queue to join the queue!

So what do you do when businesses refuse to sell things at a loss? Easy. You blame them, and then do so yourself. That, at least, is what Venezuela’s government did when it took over toilet paper factories in 2013, and what it’s threatened to do with the country’s top food and beer brewing company today.

Nationalisation – another popular socialist policy.

Now, there are two things you need to remember about Venezuela. The first is that if it can get worse, it will get worse. And the second is that it can always get worse. In this case, that means that it might not be long until we look back at all of this as the good old days. How in the name of five-hour long grocery lines is that possible? Well, Venezuela’s government might be reaching the point where it can’t coerce people economically, but only physically. After all, itbarely has enough money to even be able to print money anymore. So it can’t buy people off anymore. It has to bully them instead. Indeed, the army has started forcing butchers to sell food at a 90 percent loss, and the government has said it can force anyone to, um, take a break from their job and work for at least two months growing food instead. Amnesty International has said this is tantamount to “forced labor,” which is just a polite way of describing what’s very close to modern-day slavery.

The socialist revolution is complete.

World Vision and Hamas

August 10th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Shalom Kiwi blogs:

The news broke yesterday that the director of the Gaza branch of World Vision, Mohammed El-Halabi, was arrested by the Israeli internal secret service for allegedly diverting tens of millions of dollars of World Vision funds to the terrorist arm of Hamas.

It is reported that during the investigation El-Halabi admitted that he had been a member of Hamas since his youth, had undergone military training and had been commissioned by Hamas to infiltrate World Vision. He also reportedly admitted that his father, Halil El-Halabi, who had served as head of UNWRA’s educational institutions in the Gaza Strip for years, was a member of Hamas and used his position as a UN employee to help the terrorist organization.

El-Halabi allegedly employed a sophisticated and systematic apparatus for transferring 60% of World Vision’s annual budget for Gaza to Hamas – approximately US$7.2 million per year. This included establishing and promoting fictitious humanitarian projects and fake agricultural associations which acted as cover for the transfer of monies to Hamas. It is alleged the funds diverted to Hamas were utilised to finance the digging of terror tunnels, the building of military bases and the purchase of weapons. Some of the money also went to pay the salaries of Hamas terrorists and, in some cases, senior Hamas terrorists took large sums of money for their own personal use. El-Halabi is also charged with regularly transferring equipment that he ordered on behalf of World Vision, supposedly for agricultural aid, to Hamas for construction of military outposts and to dig terror tunnels.

In light of the arrest, Australia announced it was suspending funding to World Vision until the investigation was complete.

I hope the NZ Government does the same. This needs to be fully investigated, which means more than an internal prove by World Vision.

 

ANC loses an election

August 10th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

South Africans have delivered a stinging rebuke to the ANC, handing the party its first major election setback since it swept to power after the end of apartheid over two decades ago.

Frustrated with a stagnant economy, a 25% unemployment rate and corruption allegations against Jacob Zuma, the president, voters in local elections turned away from the ruling party in their millions and it has been defeated in two of the three cities where it faced the strongest challenge.

The ANC is likely to claim a slim overall majority when final results are announced, but it has lost control of Port Elizabeth, an industrial city on the south coast, and Pretoria, the capital. It did manage to win narrowly in the municipality of Johannesburg, the nation’s economic hub, but failed to win an outright majority.

In the Nelson Mandela Bay area, which includes Port Elizabeth, the DA secured enough votes to promise that although they would need to govern in coalition, they would not partner with the ANC.

This is good. The true test of whether a country is a democracy is whether the government ever loses an election and the opposition get to form Government.

This is only provincial elections, but may bode well for the next parliamentary elections.

For decades the ANC has claimed an unshakeable dominance of South African politics, entering elections with an expectation of victory that critics say has contributed to stagnation and corruption.

It is good to have a spell in opposition. If Labour in NZ can’t become electable, then National should throw the 2023 election as a matter of principle.

Fatah lists killing 11,000 Israelis as an election achievement

August 9th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

In an effort to appeal to Palestinians ahead of hotly contested elections, the party of President Mahmoud Abbas listed one of its main achievements as having “killed 11,000 Israelis.”

The party, Fatah, made the incendiary claim on Tuesday in an Arabic-language post on one of its official Facebook pages.

“For the argumentative … the ignorant … And for those who do not know history,” begins the Facebook post, “The Fatah movement killed 11,000 Israelis.”

And people wonder why Israel is sceptical of the belief that they’ll get peace in exchange for land.

Was Goddard sacked?

August 8th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Dame Lowell Goddard, the New Zealand judge who resigned on Thursday as chair of the £100 million (N$183.5m) Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), did not leave her post voluntarily but was effectively fired, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

Dame Lowell, appointed by then-Home Secretary Theresa May just over a year ago, had already lost the confidence of senior staff and members of the inquiry panel, according to two well-placed legal sources.

After she gave a stumbling performance at a preliminary hearing on the case of former Labour politician Greville Janner, when she appeared not to understand her own legal powers, this was picked up by Mrs May’s successor as Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and her advisers.

The final straw was the disclosure – prompted in part by questions from this newspaper – that in her first year in the job, she spent 30 days on leave and 44 days supposedly ‘working’ in Australia, although in all that time she held only two meetings with members of a child abuse inquiry underway there.

A Home Office spokeswoman last night insisted it was ‘her decision’ to offer her resignation. But asked whether this had been suggested to Dame Lowell by officials because her position was becoming untenable, she refused to comment.

However Stuff reports:

Dame Lowell Goddard was not asked to resign from the British Inquiry into child sex abuse by the Home Office, says a spokesperson for the UK government agency.

This may be a play on words. Something can be a suggestion not a request.

All over for Clark candidacy?

August 6th, 2016 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

The 2nd round of voting for the UN Secretary General has seen Clark drop from 6th to 7th but more importantly she now has more discourages than encourages. I suspect this means it is all over.

The results are:

  1. Guterres 11-2-2 (encourage, neutral, discourage)
  2. Jeremic 8-3-4
  3. Malcoora 8-1-6
  4. Turk 7-3-5
  5. Bokova 7-1-7
  6. Kerim 6-2-7
  7. Clark 6-1-8
  8. Figueres 5-2-8
  9. Gherman 3-2-10
  10. Luksic 2-4-9
  11. Lajcak 2-7-6

The more important aspect is how the P5 voted. Clark may hang on until the straw polls that reveal P5 votes but really hard to see how you get past a majority of the Security Council voting discourage.

If Guteres was from Eastern Europe, I’d say he win easily. But he isn’t.  Turk from Slovenia was doing best of the Eastern Europeans but Russia may veto. Bokova likely to be vetoed also. Jeremic may come through the middle.

Public Polls July 2016

August 5th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

pollsjul16

Just published Curia’s monthly polling newsletter. The executive summary is:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 99, July 2016

There was just one political voting poll in July 2016 – a Roy Morgan.  This means the average reflects that one poll only.

The average of the public polls has National 27% ahead of Labour in July, up 10% from June. The current seat projection is centre-right 67 seats, centre-left 45 which would see National able to govern alone.

We show the current New Zealand poll averages for party vote, country direction and preferred PM compared to three months ago, a year ago, three years ago and nine years ago. This allows easy comparisons between terms and Governments.

In the United States Trump got a boost from the RNC Convention but his performance since the DNC convention has seen Clinton extend her lead in both the popular vote and the Electoral College.

In the UK Theresa May is off to a strong start with 36% approval and only 15% disapproval. Her +31% net approval contrasts with Jeremy Corbyn who has a -24% rating.

In Australia Only one company has polled since the election. They show no honeymoon for the Coalition, and in fact a pick-up of support for Labor.

In Canada the dominance of the Liberals continues without challenge.

We also carry details of the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to http://curia.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e9168e04adbaaaf75e062779e&id=8507431512 to subscribe yourself.

US and Russia on UN Secretary-General

August 5th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Politico report:

The U.S. and Russia have turned the race for United Nations secretary-general into the latest front in their escalating war for geopolitical influence.

Washington, which is believed to want a woman in the U.N. role, has been backing Argentina’s foreign minister in the secretive selection process, U.N. sources say. Meanwhile, U.N. sources say Russia is angling for a female Bulgarian diplomat with family ties to the Soviet Union, a nod to its desire to see an Eastern European in the job.

Malcorra (Argentina) only had seven votes in favour (one less than Clark) and Bokova had nine votes in the first straw poll. But if US and Russia veto each other’s preferred candidates.

During these early rounds of informal balloting, the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia — cannot use their vetoes to knock out candidates. But as the field narrows, the U.S. and Russian influence will only increase because they will be allowed to use their vetoes. By October, when many expect a victor to emerge, that person may not be the one who’s most qualified but instead someone who draws the fewest objections from Obama and Putin.

The next straw poll is out in the next 24 hours.

State sanctioned death squads

August 5th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Philippine President Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte is set to name up to 50 officials allegedly involved in drugs as state-sanctioned street executions of civilians soar to 600.

Mr Duterte’s lawyer Salvador Panelo said that 27 local executives identified in intelligence reports would be unmasked this week that figure had almost doubled.

“My God, you will be shocked,” Mr Panelo said last night, according to thePhilippine Inquirer.

He declined a request to give examples, citing operational reasons, but revealed many on the list were from prominent families and included provincial mayors and police generals and military figures.

The extraordinary development comes a day after Mr Duterte issued a “shoot on sight” order for Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera and his son Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa after three mayoral staffers were caught with ice, known as shabu in the Philippines.

The Radyo Inquirer said that the mayor surrendered on Tuesday after police shot dead six bodyguards during an early morning raid at the heavily fortified family compound.

Authorities have vowed to hunt down and kill his son, who vanished weeks ago after learning Duterte was coming after him.

No need for evidence or a trial. The President names you, and pays people to kill you. It’s like Judge Dredd, but not a comic.

More than 120,000 drug addicts – most of them shabu (ice) dependent – have been forced to “surrender” to police since Duterte took office in May.

Users are required to attend mass ceremonies where they register as drug criminals and pledge to never take drugs again.

Those who don’t register, or break their contract, do so at the risk of being hunted down and killed, either by police or at the hands of vigilantes.

Again no evidence or trial. Just guilt and death upon accusation.

Mr Duterte, whose “death squads” were linked to dozens of unexplained murders during his 20 year reign as mayor of Davao, has given police and civilians the power to kill users and pushers on sight.

“Rehab is no longer an option,” Mr Duterte told a cheering audience in Davao City.

“So those of you in your neighbourhood, feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have a gun. You have my support.”

In another well-received speech, he told the crowd: “In an arrest, you must overcome the resistance of the criminal. You must really overcome it. And if he fights, and he fights to death, you can kill him.

“Then I’ll give you a medal.”

Sadly his approval ratings are sky high.

Australian Senate results

August 5th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

One month after the voting, we finally have a final result in the Australian election for the Senate. The results are:

  • Coalition 30 (-3)
  • Labor 26 (+1)
  • Greens 9 (-1)
  • One Nation 4 (+4)
  • Team Xenophon 3 (+2)
  • Lib Dems 1 (nc)
  • Derryn Hinch 1 (+1)
  • Family First 1 (nc)
  • Jacqui Lambie 1 (nc)
  • Palmer United 0 (-2)
  • Dem Labour (-1)
  • Motorists (-1)

There is a chance Turnbull may be able to get the union corruption bill through a combined sitting. You have 150 MPs and 76 Senators so he needs 114 votes.

The Coalition has 106 MPs and Senators. So he needs eight more. Where might they come from:

  • One Nation 4
  • Lib Dems 1
  • Derrin Hinch 1
  • Family First 1
  • Cathy McGowan (Indi)
  • Bob Katter (Kennedy)

So at best they have 115 votes. It will be very close.

 

Goddard resigns

August 5th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand judge Dame Lowell Goddard has resigned as head of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said.

According to ITV Rudd confirmed Dame Lowell offered her resignation as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

“I want to assure everyone with an interest in the inquiry, particularly victims and survivors, that the work of the inquiry will continue without delay and a new chair will be appointed,” Rudd said.

“I would like to thank Dame Lowell Goddard for the contribution she has made in setting up the inquiry so that it may continue to go about its vital work.”

Unless the resignation is for medical reasons, this is a bad look. I presume it is connected to this story:

A Kiwi judge tipped to become the United Kingdom’s highest paid public servant spent three months on holiday or overseas during her first year in the $660,000 job.

Dame Lowell Goddard, a former High Court judge, is leading the UK government independent inquiry into child sex abuse (IICSA).

The IICSA was announced in July 2014 by then British prime minister David Cameron to interrogate previously covered-up cases of child abuse in hospitals, care homes, churches and schools.

Goddard’s basic salary is around £360,000 (NZ$660,000) a year, topped up with perks such as free business class flights home, a £110,000 a year rental allowance, and a car and a driver, all paid for by the Home Office. 

She spent 44 working days in New Zealand and Australia after becoming chair of the inquiry, the Times reported.

The time spent abroad was on top of her annual leave entitlement of 30 working days, an entitlement arranged when she was appointed by Theresa May, the British home secretary at the time.

What a shame for the victims of child abuse as her resignation will delay progress even more than all her holidays.

Why Islamic State hates us and tries to kill us

August 4th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

In the latest edition of its propaganda magazine Dabiq the terror group takes aim at liberals and non-believers before detailing why militants attack western targets.

The 15th issue of Dabiq, published on July 31, is titled Break The Cross and takes a direct swipe at Christians.

The editorial Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You not only mocks the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion and those who refuse to call the group Islamic because it’s “politically incorrect”.

It begins by talking about the “blessed attack on a sodomite nightclub and how it was indeed a hate crime because “Muslims hate liberalist sodomites”.

It goes on to say how the attacks committed against the West including the Orlando nightclub shooting and train attack in Germany aren’t senseless, but are in retaliation for apparent wrongs committed against Islam.

It then launches into the six reasons why IS hates the West.

Despite Islamic State explicitly saying what motivates them, many will ignore their own words and insist it is all about US foreign policy etc.

“We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers”, the editorial reads.

“It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you.”

It then launches into a hatred of liberalists who have allowed gay rights to spread as well as promoting fortification and gambling.

Secularists are also targeted, while atheists are next in the firing line for their refusal to believe in their creator and insisting things happen randomly.

They wish everyone to submit to their religious beliefs, which they have enforced in the territory they hold.

Maori Party and Clark

August 4th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes:

There has been a slight irony in developments around the race to be UN Secretary-General this week. Over the Tasman, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd discovered he did not have support from anybody except indigenous groups thanks to his apology to the “Stolen Generation”.

Here, Helen Clark discovered she had the support of everybody except the Maori Party (and the Right-to-Lifers but let’s not go there.)

Maori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox have been hung, drawn and quartered for saying they did not support Helen Clark’s bid to be Secretary-General. Labour described it as “political hysteria”, Dover Samuels said it was utu, NZ First leader Winston Peters proclaimed it was “treacherous in the extreme”.

It seems the Maori Party missed out in the nationwide distribution of rose-tinted glasses since Prime Minister John Key and Helen Clark announced her bid.

Anyone who is surprised at the Maori Party’s position has forgotten where the Maori Party came from. It was born from protest against the very actions of Helen Clark’s former Labour Government.

This week’s debate has prodded old scabs – Clark meeting Shrek instead of the foreshore and seabed hui of “haters and wreckers”, Clark referring to the Maori Party as “last cab off the rank”. It was a reminder that the Maori Party owed Clark nothing.

Clark called them the last cab off the rank, so not very surprising they they are not enthusiastic.

Morgan Godfery also makes the case against Clark from a Maori point of view:

I was thirteen years old when Helen Clark pinched my land. She told the country my family were ‘haters and wreckers’. …

But Clark is the prime minister responsible for preventing Māori from establishing customary title to the country’s foreshore and seabed, a land confiscation in process if not name. As if the psychic harm of ‘nationalising the beaches’ were not enough, owners with private title to the foreshore and seabed could continue business as usual. It’s an exhausted truism, but property rights for some are property rights for none.

There are so many things that hurt here: the double standard between possible owners of Māori customary title and owners of private titles; blocking access to the courts, another breach of natural justice for Māori; but the moment that survives in my memory, almost twelve years later, is how Clark condemned the law’s opponents as ‘haters and wreckers’. Again, this isn’t neutral – the unspoken context is that Māori hate and plan to wreck the nation. 

This distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’, between Māori and the nation, is more than hypothetical. Māori activist and writer Tim Selwyn, who threw an axe through Clark’s electorate office window in the middle of the night as a symbolic act of dissent against the foreshore and seabed law, was convicted on a charge of sedition. Understood in this context, the accusation that Marama Fox is a ‘traitor’ takes on a sinister edge.

If racism is a private act, then Helen Clark is no racist. But if racism is a public act, something that happens through institutions and manifests in power relations, then perhaps she is. Racism works like a virus, infecting progressive and conservative hosts. Politicians, especially prime ministers, often make racist choices, whether they mean to or not. Clark’s foreshore and seabed law may lack racist intent, but its racist impact is clear: one standard for Māori customary owners, another for private – most likely overwhelmingly white – owners.

I’m sorry, but your progressive fav is problematic. #ImWithMarama

I’m personally a backer of Clark for three reasons:

  1. I think she can do the job, and would be better than the other candidates in terms of cutting costs at the UN
  2. I think NZ would benefit from having a NZer as UN Secretary-General
  3. It keeps her out of NZ for another five to ten years!

But I agree with Godfery that it is hysterical and nasty for media and politicians to insist everyone must be backing Clark or they are traitors to NZ. Absolute nonsense. She was a controversial politician and of course some NZers will not back her candidacy.

Open vs closed

August 4th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Economist writes:

AS POLITICAL theatre, America’s party conventions have no parallel. Activists from right and left converge to choose their nominees and celebrate conservatism (Republicans) and progressivism (Democrats). But this year was different, and not just because Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party. The conventions highlighted a new political faultline: not between left and right, but between open and closed (see article). Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, summed up one side of this divide with his usual pithiness. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” he declared. His anti-trade tirades were echoed by the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

Trump and Sanders sound identical on trade.

Start by remembering what is at stake. The multilateral system of institutions, rules and alliances, led by America, has underpinned global prosperity for seven decades. It enabled the rebuilding of post-war Europe, saw off the closed world of Soviet communism and, by connecting China to the global economy, brought about the greatest poverty reduction in history.

Indeed a lot at stake.

Countering the wall-builders will require stronger rhetoric, bolder policies and smarter tactics. First, the rhetoric. Defenders of the open world order need to make their case more forthrightly. They must remind voters why NATO matters for America, why the EU matters for Europe, how free trade and openness to foreigners enrich societies, and why fighting terrorism effectively demands co-operation. Too many friends of globalisation are retreating, mumbling about “responsible nationalism”. Only a handful of politicians—Justin Trudeau in Canada, Emmanuel Macron in France—are brave enough to stand up for openness. Those who believe in it must fight for it.

They must also acknowledge, however, where globalisation needs work. Trade creates many losers, and rapid immigration can disrupt communities. But the best way to address these problems is not to throw up barriers. It is to devise bold policies that preserve the benefits of openness while alleviating its side-effects.

Exactly.

Let goods and investment flow freely, but strengthen the social safety-net to offer support and new opportunities for those whose jobs are destroyed. To manage immigration flows better, invest in public infrastructure, ensure that immigrants work and allow for rules that limit surges of people (just as global trade rules allow countries to limit surges in imports). But don’t equate managing globalisation with abandoning it.

A good prescription.

Yes Australia is purifying itself – of criminals

August 3rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The detention of Kiwis living in Australia could be part of a push to “purify” the country, Labour’s Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis says.

Davis has hit out after new figures show the number of New Zealanders held in detention centres like that on Christmas Island at 199.

There are a total of 1577 people held, including 175 Iranians held, and 142 from Vietnam.

Davis questioned why many of the New Zealanders had to be locked up while they appealed their visa cancellation, and said it could be a policy to “purify” Australia.

“They are cleansing themselves of undesirables, even if those people have been born in Australia.”

Yes they are. If you are not an Australian citizen and you are convicted of a crime, you get deported. The way to avoid this is not to commit a crime, and not join a gang.

AFR endorses NZ approach

August 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jennifer Hewitt writes in the AFR:

The combination of John Key as Prime Minister and Bill English as Finance Minister has achieved an increasingly rare feat in any advanced economy.

That includes returning a budget to surplus while managing better growth along with substantive social, economic and, yes, taxation reform.

All within a political framework of relative popularity, especially a track record good enough to be re-elected with stronger voter endorsement for its program.

Better outcomes in health and education, fewer people on welfare and a return to surplus – not bad.

Bill English attended this weekend’s Consilium, the annual conference organised by the Centre for Independent Studies. So did a few Australian politicians, including Porter.

Presumably he was listening hard to what English had to say about the need to constantly stress the idea of better government rather than getting stuck in arguments over bigger or smaller government.

But while finding the right language may be a necessary precondition for change, it is not sufficient to achieve it without detailed policy work to back it up.

Porter told The Australian Financial Review last week that he was attracted to New Zealand’s radical version of welfare reform, aimed at reducing dependency and improving results in a way that “changes lives”.

That’s any government’s stated goal, of course, just one almost never achieved. But New Zealand’s model uses what is specifically called an “investment approach” rather than relying on the usual talk of cuts.

The key is using newly available big data to both figure out the eventual cost of continued welfare dependency of various people over decades, while also targeting and tailoring assistance for those individuals most at risk of following that otherwise extremely expensive pattern.

That can necessarily include spending more rather than less money on some individuals initially – in order to avoid the much greater costs longer term.

This is clearly awkward to sell given immediate budget pressures and short-term political cycles, meaning that general welfare spending that is not effective must also be redirected into such “investment”. That’s where the constant talk of providing better services rather than budget cuts becomes so politically valuable. 

It also requires being data and results driven only – and in a much simplified system with far fewer overlapping programs.

When it comes to considering any new programs or continuing to fund existing ones, the judgement is made on how effective they are in terms of specific and measurable results.

Some of the preliminary big data has already been provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

 It will enable what Porter calls the equivalent of “keyhole surgery” – drilling down into groups of a few hundred people in various locations and categories to assess what works best.

The New Zealand government claims considerable success with this more personalised approach.

It is particularly effective in assisting single parents getting part-time work and in focussing on diverting young children and young adults from what their personal background statistics suggest would become long lasting problems for them as well as costs for governments.     

Is it too much to ask of a Turnbull government?   

Big data, the investment approach and flexible targeted investment – that is the way ahead.

Corbyn wants to make union bargaining mandatory

August 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Jeremy Corbyn would require companies with more than 250 employees to accept new industrial laws under which they would have to recognise a specific union with which to bargain over pay.

Aides to the Labour leader said a Corbyn government would “repeal” 1999 union legislation that was passed by a Labour government to introduce a new French-style framework of union rights. …

“But the best way to guarantee fair pay is through strengthening unions’ ability to bargain collectively – giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work,” he writes.

“That’s why it should be mandatory for all large employers, with over 250 staff, to bargain collectively with recognised trade unions.”

Currently a union seeking recognition must show that 10% of employees are members and 50% want them to lead on pay bargaining. If that is not the case, a secret ballot is held and union recognition requires a majority of those voting and at least 40% of those eligible to vote to support recognition.

This is the pay off for the unions for making Corbyn leader.

Currently the employees decide if a union negotiates for them or not. Under Corbyn’s proposal it will be mandatory for a union to negotiate on behalf of staff – even if the staff don’t want one. Despicable.

Maori Party doesn’t forgive Clark

August 2nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Maori Party doesn’t support former Prime Minister Helen Clark’s nomination for the top job at the United Nations.

In the same week Clark awaits the results of a second straw poll to assess her chances of getting the Secretary-General role, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said her party “unequivocally do not support” her bid.

That position won’t change but Clark could go some way to fixing her relationship with Maori by apologising for her “mistakes of the past,” Fox said.

“She didn’t want to sign up to the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People under the United Nations, she resisted that strongly. Also with the foreshore and seabed we saw that as the largest modern day confiscation of land for Maori. And then there was her support in the Tuhoe raids.

“Based on her record of dealing with indigenous rights, we feel we can not support her nomination,” Fox said.

Possibly not that surprising considering Clark’s actions are what led to the formation of the Maori Party. I thought time may have healed wounds, but it seems not.