Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Well that’s seven who might be staying in Australia now!

November 12th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Seven New Zealanders have been flown off Christmas Island, as images emerge of the damage caused by rioting at the detention centre.

The ABC reported it had witnessed detainees being transported to the Christmas Island airport.

Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton subsequently confirmed their removal to a correctional facility in Western Australia.

Looks like they may get to stay in Australia after all now! Of course in a prison, if they get sentenced.

“They are among a group of extreme-risk individuals who are alleged to have been involved in the disturbance at the centre,” he told the ABC.

The men, who were handcuffed, said they were from New Zealand and claimed to be on their way to a prison in Perth.

Remember that some of the asylum seekers at Christmas Island said they lived in fear of these guys, and were often beaten up by then. They are not nice individuals.

That doesn’t mean that every person caught up in this new Australian policy is bad. The case of the former Kiwi soldier is a case in point. It appears he has committed no offence, except join a motorcycle gang or club. There may of course be more to the story than we know at this stage.

However Australia gets to decide who stays in Australia. And if they tell you you are no longer legally able to live in Australia, then the best thing to do is leave, and come back to New Zealand – if you are a citizen. You can fight your appeal from here, and in fact I read somewhere around a third of the appeals have been successful. But helping cause a riot won’t help your appeal.

I think the new Australian policy is overly harsh and inflexible. But that doesn’t mean it is a breach of human rights. NZ sometimes detains people for immigration reasons also – Ahmed Zaoui was detained for a lengthy time when Labour were in Government here.

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A bad sign for Fiji

November 12th, 2015 at 7:50 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Fiji’s Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald has resigned and been replaced by Fiji’s land force commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as Acting Police Commissioner.

Mr Groenewald told the ABC he was not happy with the way the Fiji military was interfering with policing.

The South African took up the job in May last year.

His departure was indirectly due to a standoff with the military over policing matters, he said.

Mr Groenewald, who described himself as a true-blooded policeman, said he was not satisfied with the way they interfered.

In a statement, the Fiji government said Mr Groenewald was leaving for personal and family reasons.

Following advice from the Prime Minister as the Chair of the Constitutional Offices Commission, the President had appointed Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as the Acting Commissioner, the government said.

I had high hopes for Fiji after their election and new constitution. But this is disturbing.

Having the Police Commissioner resign due to military interference is bad enough. That suggests the military may see themselves as still above the law.

But to then appoint a military officer as the Acting Commissioner is worse.


China’s correction nine times greater than NZ’s total emissions

November 9th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limitglobal warming.

Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.

The new data, which appeared recently in an energy statistics yearbook published without fanfare by China’s statistical agency, show that coal consumption has been underestimated since 2000, and particularly in recent years. The revisions were based on a census of the economy in 2013 that exposed gaps in data collection, especially from small companies and factories.

Illustrating the scale of the revision, the new figures add about 600 million tons to China’s coal consumption in 2012 — an amount equivalent to more than 70 percent of the total coal used annually by the United States.

That extra 600 million tons is nine times greater than the total emissions of New Zealand.

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You need the major emitters on board

November 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Christopher Brooker writes in The Telegraph:

China, now easily the world’s largest emitter, contributing 24 per cent of the total, plans by 2030 to double its CO2 emissions, not least by building 363 more coal-fired power stations. India, now the third-largest emitter, plans by 2030 to treble its emissions. The fourth-largest emitter, Russia, despite slashing its emissions after 1990 by closing down much of its old Soviet industry, now proposes to increase them from their 2012 level by up to 38 per cent.

Which makes a mockery of anything the rest of the world does.

If you want a binding agreement on climate change, you need to get the top 10 emitters to agree on a cap. If they can all agree, then the rest of the world will probably follow.

But if China, India and Russia are all saying they’ll massively increase emissions, then any impact of emissions reductions from the rest of the world is an expensive waste of money.

Here’s the top 10 emitters:

  1. China 22.7%
  2. US 15.6%
  3. EU28 10.9%
  4. India 5.7%
  5. Russia 5.4%
  6. Japan 2.9%
  7. Brazil 2.6%
  8. Indonesia 1.9%
  9. Canada 1.7%
  10. Iran 1.6%

Those 10 represent around 72% of global emissions. Again whatever they agree to, I am sure countries like New Zealand, Tanzania and Singapore who are around 0.2% each will match them.


Will Europe close its borders

November 6th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that a record 218,394 people crossed the Mediterranean to reach European shores in October — about as many as the total from all of last year.

That’s a huge number. Basically refugees respond to incentives as much as anyone. Given a choice between waiting for the UN to get them a place out of a refugee camp in Turkey, and trekking to Europe, they will of course choose Europe.

Slovenia has said it is considering a fence of its own. Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec described that action as “a last resort” but added that he is “very much concerned” that other countries will erect barriers, leaving his tiny Alpine nation shouldering an unsustainable burden. Even now, he said, Slovenia is struggling to cope.

“We cannot go on like this for a long time,” Erjavec said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We have received more than 100,000 migrants in just two weeks. This number represents 5% of our population. Our human, financial and material resources are limited.”

No country could cope with a 5% population increase in two weeks.

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Could this apply to NZ Labour?

November 4th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Lord Ashcroft looks at the four major UK parties in the wake of the election. I found his comments on UK Labour most interesting:

A parallel exercise involving party members and Labour-supporting members of affiliated trade unions revealed that the Labour movement itself saw things rather differently. They thought they had lost because people did not appreciate what Labour had achieved; that voters had been influenced by the right-wing media; and that while Labour’s policies had been right, they had not been well communicated. More than three quarters thought their party had not deserved to lose, and most rejected the idea that the Labour government had been largely to blame for the economic situation. They thought the swing voters they had lost (and needed to win back) were ignorant, credulous and selfish.

This resonates with me as it seems to apply to many NZ Labour activists also.

All most people had heard from Labour was that it was against whatever the coalition happened to be doing. This included welfare reform, one government policy people spontaneously praised. In focus groups before the 2010 election, participants who were asked to choose an image to represent Labour would very often select a picture of a slob lying on a sofa to symbolise what they saw as the party’s indulgence of people living on benefits when they could be at work.

Would be fascinating to do here.

The publication is 47 pages long and very interesting.

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Knights and Dames go in Australia

November 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Malcolm Turnbull has dumped Tony Abbott’s widely ridiculed policy of reinstating Knights and Dames, saying the titles are “not appropriate” in modern Australia.

The new Prime Minister announced he was dumping the titles nearly seven weeks after ousting Abbott from the top job.

In a statement, Turnbull said the decision was recently taken by cabinet and approved by the Queen.

“The cabinet recently considered the Order of Australia, in this its 40th anniversary year, and agreed that Knights and Dames are not appropriate in our modern honours system,” he said.

Turnbull said the change will not affect existing Knights and Dames, meaning Prince Philip will potentially be Australia’s last Knight.

Abbott’s March 2014 decision to reinstate Knights and Dames in Australia was one of his most notorious “captain’s picks”. 

I’m a republican but I actually like titular honours. Even if we become a Republic, I don’t think that means we need to ditch titular honours.

For me calling the (2nd to) top tier of honours recipients knights and dames is no different from calling top academics professor or top researchers doctor. When people achieve a certain level, they get a title to go with it.

So I see no need for NZ to change, just because Australia has. Indeed I look forward to Sir Richard McCaw and Sir Steve Hansen.


The NZ UN Middle East resolution

November 2nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for Israel to stop building settlements in occupied territories and for the Palestinians to refrain from referring cases to the International Criminal Court.

The two-page draft also asks both sides to avoid provocative acts and not to question the “integrity or commitment of the other party or its leaders.”

Good to see the draft NZ resolution is relatively balanced and calls for restraint on both sides. Far too many UN resolutions only make demands on Israel.

The text was circulated this week to the 15-member council, Israel, the Palestinians and other countries in the region to gauge reaction. New Zealand UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen said the aim was “to try and get the council to speak with a united voice even if in a relatively modest way.”

“There’s been a worrying deterioration on the ground and we’re stuck with nothing happening in the peace process and no commitment in the council to do anything,” van Bohemen said. “We have to find a starting point and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

It isn’t a roadmap to peace, but a useful step forward.

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A step forward for a Ross Sea sanctuary

October 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A New Zealand bid to establish the world’s largest marine reserve in Antarctica is a step closer after China agreed to support the project.

China is understood to be one of several countries which has previously blocked attempts to create the massive reserve in the Ross Sea, 3500km south of New Zealand.

This is very significant. The countries against were Russia, China, Japan, Norway, Chile and Japan. Getting China on board is a major achievement.

In order to secure its support, New Zealand was revising plans for the marine protected area (MPA), and would allow some research fishing to take place.

You need to compromise to get consensus. I just hope they define what level of research fishing is allowed, so it is not a huge loophole like the Japanese used with whaling.

The minister said Russia had also confirmed it was open to working with member states on an MPA ahead of the next CCAMLR meeting in 2016.

Like China, Russia has blocked the New Zealand proposal at past meetings.

Japan and Norway have also expressed concern about the permanence of the reserve, which prompted New Zealand officials to add a 50-year “sunset clause” which would allow it to be revised or scrapped.

The proposed MPA was originally 2.24 million sq km but was pared back in 2013 in a bid to gain support.

Russia will be the big obstacle, but sounds like they are coming around also.

The Ross Sea is known as the “Last Ocean” because it is the only intact marine ecosystem on earth, mostly untouched by pollution, overfishing, and invasive species.

This is why it is special. Like Antarctica itself, it is an untouched ecosystem which has huge benefits for scientific research. And blocking fishing in one area doesn’t decrease the amount of fish available for fishing – in fact it can increase it.

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Where are the Greens on other members of the Human Rights Council?

October 30th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

Last week, the Green Party asked Prime Minister John Key in Parliament to confirm or deny New Zealand’s support for Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Late last week Mr Key refused to confirm or deny New Zealand’s support, saying that was the responsibility of the foreign minister.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said it would be wrong for New Zealand to support Australia’s bid for a seat on the world’s top human rights body when Australia had ”time and time again” been found to have breached international human rights requirements.

Australia is a paragon of respect for human rights compared to the vast majority of the Human Rights Council.

Why do the Greens beat up on Australia (whom of course we would support), and say nothing about Nigeria, Qatar, Morocco, South Africa, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kenya, Pakistan, UAE, Venuzuela etc. These countries all have appalling human rights records that make Australia look saintly by comparison.

Personally I think the UNHRC is a sad joke. Less of a joke than its totally discredited predecessor, but its membership includes some of the worst human rights violators around, and it spends most of its existence condemning Israel. They have condemned Israel 57 times, and no other country has been condemned – at most countries like Sudan get a note of serious concern.

Their special rapporteur on Palestine is so extreme even Fatah have called on him to resign, as they see him as too pro-Hamas. He has posted anti-semitic cartoons on Facebook yet refused to resign.

And guess who has just been appointed the head of the UNHRC panel that appoints independent experts – Saudi Arabia.



The blind leading the blind?

October 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This would seem to be a case of the blind leading the blind?

Is Andrew Little hoping to find out how to get your party wiped out, losing every seat in Parliament bar one?

Or is Scottish Labour hoping to learn what it is like to get your lowest vote in 110 years?

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Shorten only 4th place for Labor leader

October 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Roy Morgan have polled Australians on their preferred party leaders. It’s very bad news for Bill Shorten.

ALP supporters say their preferred leader is:

  1. Tanya Plibersek 34% (up 2%)
  2. Anthony Albanese 21% (up 5%)
  3. Wayne Swan 12% (up 3%)
  4. Bill Shorten 10% (down 7%).

How long can you last when you’re only the fourth choice of your party’s supporters?

Would be interesting for someone to do a poll in NZ asking the same?

If Turnbull resigned, his preferred successor is:

  1. Julie Bishop 46%
  2. Scott Morrison 15%

The poll also shows the Coalition 11% ahead of Labor.

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If Trudeau was female, would the media be reporting how hot he is?

October 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The muscled, shirtless man stands facing the camera, fists up in a boxer’s pose, with a large tattoo of the Earth surrounded by a raven visible on his left shoulder. The photograph caused social media to swoon on Tuesday over Canada’s newly minted prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

The day after Trudeau’s stunning victory over Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the global focus was not on the Liberal leader’s promise to withdraw Canada from the combat mission against Islamic State, or his pledge to run a C$10 billion ($11.4 billion) annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure, but on the apparently universal agreement that he was not just good looking, but model handsome.

I’ve got no problem with people and media stating the obvious – that Trudeau is good looking.

However I suspect if he was Justine Trudeau, and she received the same amount of commentary on how attractive she is, we’d have endless lectures and denunciations about how sexist and wrong this is.

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Prime Minister Trudeau

October 21st, 2015 at 2:43 am by David Farrar

Once again Canada has a Prime Minister Trudeau.

The results of the election are:

  • Liberals 39.5% (+20.6%) 184 (+150) seats
  • Conservatives 31.9% (-7.7%) 99 (-67) seats
  • NDP 19.7% (-10.9%) 44 (-59) seats
  • Bloc Quebecois 4.7% (-1.3%) 10 (+6) seats
  • Greens 3.5% (-0.4%0 1 seat (nc)

170 seats is a majority so the Liberals have made it. When you consider they came a distant third in 2011, this is a massive victory for them. Meanwhile the Conservatives and NDP have been slaughtered, both losing important figures such as the Conservative Finance Minister and NDP Deputy Leader.

The polls were pretty accurate, even if the seat projections were less so. The differences between the result and the average of the final polls was:

  • Liberals 2.2% better
  • Conservatives 1.0% better
  • NDP 2.0% worse

I think there was a bit of last minute tactical voting from NDP to Liberals.

Harper has resigned as Conservative Leader, so they will have an Acting Leader for almost a year as their primary style elections take a long time.


Aus Labor tries the rich prick attack

October 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar reports:

MALCOLM Turnbull yesterday acknowledged he and wife Lucy had been lucky and were wealthier than most Australians who worked harder than them.

But the Prime Minister, one of the richest members of Parliament, made no apologies for his wealth: “We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back.”

Mr Turnbull was responding to Labor attacks on his investments in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a tactic that has highlighted how well-off the Prime Minister has become.

He returned the attack, accusing Labor of taking Parliament down the “the avenue of the politics of envy”.

The Turnbull are estimated to be worth $200 million. Labor thinks this is a bad thing!

“I don’t believe my wealth, or frankly most people’s wealth, is entirely a function of hard work,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Of course hard work is important but, you know, there are taxi drivers that work harder than I ever have and they don’t have much money.

“There are cleaners that worked harder than I ever have or you ever have and they don’t have much money.

“This country is built upon hard work, people having a go and enterprise.

“Some of us will be more successful than others, some of us are fortunate in the turn of business, some of us are fortunate in the intellect we inherit from our parents.”

Nice way to put it.

The Guardian reports:

The prime minister said he and his wife, Lucy, had been very fortunate in their lives and had “more wealth than most Australians”, but they had sought to give back to the community and had not dodged their tax obligations.

And he invited Labor MPs who were asking pointed questions about his investments to “go round wearing a sandwich board saying, ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s got a lot of money’,” because most people already knew that to be the case.

NZ Labour spent years trying much the same, thinking most NZers did not realise Key was wealthy!

“Well, it is a very sad day that the Labor party, which could be talking today about the economy, could be asking about growth, could be proposing some new ideas on innovation or enterprise, spends most of today’s question time and most of yesterday’s question time on just another shabby smear campaign – just another wander down the avenue of the politics of envy, just another smear,” Turnbull said on Thursday.

Good quote.


Canada goes to the polls

October 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


Projection from CBC.

The long campaign in Canada has made a difference – but not for the Conservatives. It started with the hard left NDP leading and looking to maybe form Government for the first time ever and the Liberals (sort of like NZ Labour, but more business friendly and  more corrupt) in third place.

But the Liberals are projected to win the most seats and if so they will form Government. Getting a majority is unlikely but not impossible.

If the Conservatives do better than expected then it could be a fascinating constitutional issue, with the Governor-General playing a role.

The cultural history of Canada is that the largest party has been allowed to form Government, even if opposition parties could defeat them. So even though the NDP could have in the past put the Liberals into Government, they have not as Conservatives won the most seats.

But this tradition may end. The NDP have said they will not support a Conservative minority Government, even if they win the most seats. However neither have they said they would support a Liberal Government if the Liberals win fewer seats than the Conservatives. So you could have Harper ask the Governor-General to allow him to test the confidence of the House.

The Globe and Mail have forecast:

  • 81% probability Liberals get most seats
  • 19% probability Conservatives get most seats
  • 0% probability NDP get most seats
  • 98% chance Liberals and NDP have a majority

So not looking for Stephen Harper, but the polls have been wrong in other races recently so we’ll see the results as they come in!


Thoughts on Australian deportations of Kiwis

October 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. Australia has every right to deport non-citizens who commit crimes
  2. The threshold of those who have been sentenced to one or more years in prison doesn’t seem unreasonable
  3. It would be sensible if Australia used some discretion based on the seriousness of the crime, and how long the person has lived in Australia
  4. Ideally the deportation decision and appeal should occur while the person is serving their sentence, so they get deported immediately on release
  5. If there is a gap between the prison sentence and the conclusion of the deportation process, then the person facing deportation should not be held in custody unless there is reason to think they are going to go into hiding
  6. If any potential deportee is held in custody, it should be on mainland Australia. There is no good reason to shift these people off-shore
  7. If you don’t wish to get deported then don’t commit any serious crimes in Australia
  8. If you do wish to stay in Australia and do wish to be a criminal, you should become a citizen first!
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Markets or goals?

October 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Peter Gregory writes:

The UN ratified its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a month ago. $US2.5 trillion of foreign aid spending between 2015 and 2030 will be devoted to achieving them. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon says they are a plan “for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind”. He is wrong. The SDGs are inefficient, driven by politics and misdiagnose poverty.

Unfortunately, it is poor people themselves who will suffer as a result of foreign aid programs that are less effective than they could be. 

The SDGs are supposed to build on the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expired this year having run since 2000. But whereas the MDGs consisted of 8 goals with 18 targets, the SDGs consist of 17 goals with 169 targets.

The SDGs fall into the trap common amongst big multilateral foreign aid organisations of trying to fix everything, rather than working in the areas where they can have the biggest impact. In attempting to be everything for everyone, the SDGs have only succeeded in becoming a disparate wish-list for the development community.

As a result, the 169 targets are both too ambitious and too specific. For example, goal 1.1 seeks to “eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere” whilst goal 14.9 wants to “provide access of small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.

I reckon anything more than 10 targets and you have no chance of achieving them.

To overcome this problem, Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg constructed a rigorous cost-benefit analysis on each of the SDG targets. He whittled the list of 169 down to just the 19 most impactful targets.

That is not a hard-nosed ‘economic rationalist’ approach to foreign aid. It is about to trying to ensure development has the greatest impact for the people who need it. Foreign aid can’t fix everything but as development economist William Easterly says, it can help some people some of the time. The fact that the SDG process is political and ideological means the kind of foreign aid the goals offer isn’t as helpful to poor people as it could be.  

So aid can help some people some of the time.

Poor people are poor because they have been prevented from participating in free markets. This is because free markets are the best drivers of economic growth, which in turn provides access to health, education and other things the SDGs are trying to achieve.

Yep. By poor we don’t mean $20,000 a year poor, but $500 a year poor.

No country has developed successfully without some measure of free markets. The evidence of this is absolutely manifest in the last few decades. 

In China, free market reforms such as allowing international trade, removing barriers to private enterprise and reducing state control of agriculture have lifted 680 million people out of poverty since 1980. Furthermore, World Bank economist Martin Ravallion believes economic growth in other developing countries has lifted 280 million people out of poverty since 2000.

The embrace of markets by China and India did far more to lift people out of poverty than the UN goals.

A recent study found that the economic liberalisation in India has partially eroded the caste system. Increased female entrepreneurship precipitated by microfinance has been shown to reduce domestic violence and gender discrimination. Swedish economists recently found that countries with greater economic freedom were more likely to have greater tolerance of gay people.

Liberal markets can lead to liberal countries.

The Lomberg study is interesting also. They found:

Freer trade from completing the World Trade Organization’s Doha agreement would return more than $2,000 of extra value for each dollar spent to retrain and compensate displaced workers. It would lift 160 million people out of extreme poverty, giving every person in the developing world an extra $1,000 in income every year by 2030. By comparison, money transfers—paying the poorest people enough to lift them out of poverty—would have huge administrative challenges and institutional deficiencies, with benefits of only $5 for every dollar spent.

Free trade is hugely more effective than aid.

Boosting the availability of preschool is an exceptional development target. Tripling access in sub-Saharan Africa would have benefits worth more than $30 for every dollar spent, because of improved future earnings and other social benefits, such as instilling an interest in learning in children when they are very young.

One of the more useful things you can do.


Corbyn and the IRA

October 12th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A Telegraph investigation finds:

The true extent of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s links with the IRA is revealed by a Telegraph investigation.

It can be disclosed that for seven years running, while the IRA “armed struggle” was at its height, Mr Corbyn attended and spoke at official republican commemorations to honour dead IRA terrorists, IRA “prisoners of war” and the active “soldiers of the IRA.”

The official programme for the 1988 event, held one week after the IRA murdered three British servicemen in the Netherlands, states that “force of arms is the only method capable of bringing about a free and united Socialist Ireland.” Mr Corbyn used the event to attack the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the precursor of the peace process.

He said it had resulted in no improvement in the lives of the people of Northern Ireland, adding: “It strengthens rather than weakens the border between the six and the 26 counties, and those of us who wish to see a united Ireland oppose the agreement for that reason.”

The editorial board of a hard-Left magazine, of which Mr Corbyn was a member, wrote an article praising the Brighton bombing. In its article on the IRA attack, which almost wiped out Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, the editorial board of London Labour Briefing said the atrocity showed that “the British only sit up and take notice [of Ireland] when they are bombed into it.”

I doubt he will be leader by the time of the next election, but if he is the advertising campaign against him will be brutal – and all just quoting his own words.

In fact, however, Mr McDonnell told the IRA’s official newspaper that he opposed the peace process negotiations to create a power-sharing assembly in what became the Good Friday Agreement.

He said: “An assembly is not what people have laid down their lives for over thirty years…the settlement must be for a united Ireland.”

So these two people now running the Labour Party were less willing to settle for peace than even the IRA was!

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Not compulsory to live in Australia

October 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

MALCOLM Turnbull says anyone who cannot abide by the core Australian value of mutual respect should leave the country.

In a passionate speech in the wake of a terror attack in Sydney in which a 15-year-old shot dead a police worker, the Prime Minister said violent extremism needed to be tackled head on.

He said those who could not practice harmony should leave the country.

“It is not compulsory to live in Australia. If you find Australian values, you know, unpalatable, then there’s a big wide world out there and people have got freedom of movement,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The success of our society is founded on mutual respect and we have to recognise that people who preach hatred, preach extremism, are undermining the success of this extraordinary country and this extraordinary project.”

Good speech.

If you have the West and western values, then don’t live here.

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Would the left support this in NZ?

October 10th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

IMAGINE a world where you are given a “citizen rating” based on your lifestyle, shopping habits, social behaviour and morals.

China is moving quickly towards just such a system, in a Big Brother-style plan that will see everyone given a grade between 350 and 950.

If you buy nappies or recycle, you get extra points for showing you are responsible. If you play video games and spend too much on clothes, you lose points. …

Harnessing our data from banks, retailers and social media, it’s the kind of all-encompassing surveillance system that would terrify us in the West. But the Chinese government’s State Council said in a plan released in June 2014 that the system was key to “building a harmonious Socialist society … strengthening the sincerity consciousness of the members of society, forging a desirable credit environment, raising the overall competitiveness of the country [and] stimulating the development of society and the progress of civilisation.”

By 2020, people with scores above a certain level will receive rewards, such as credit to start a business, while those with lower ratings could face ominous-sounding punishments.

I could see some left groups wanting this here.

If you use plastic bags, bang you get some demerits.

Buy your kids a soft drink, and there’s another black mark, and another if they ever have a pie from a dairy.

Fail to put out recycling, and there’s another black mark.

Be seen at a bar after 2 am, and further demerits.

This is the ultimate nanny state tool!


The evil of ISIL

October 9th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vian Dakhil writes at Politico:

Last week I arrived back home to Iraqi Kurdistan, exhausted but proud of a small but real triumph over the Islamic State. Three women and two toddlers came back with me—five human beings just rescued from enslavement by ISIL. For over a year, they were abused, raped and traded fighter to fighter because of one reason: our Yazid religion. I am determined to save every last one of the more than 2,000 Yazidi women and girls still waiting to be freed

Yazidis are a Kurdish religious community. They are not Muslims or Christians but are monotheists.

They thought they were abandoned. Their ISIL captors told them that no one wanted them, in their shame and defilement, and that no one was looking for them. But I insist on reaching out to them through pleas on Arabic radio and TV. I give them my phone number, and tell them that we love them and we want them back. Some brave women hear these messages and contact us, and a rescue mission commences. I answer the phone every time, determined to do all that I can, but it is little, and it is not enough. I know there will always be another call, another Yazidi who is terrified and broken and in need of hope, as the world looks the other way.

One of the women, clutching her 2-year-old child, was so distraught. The child kept asking for her 7-year-old sister, who had been taken away from her mother and enrolled in a religious institution where she would be forced to convert to Islam. Her mother had had no choice but to escape without her, and she told me she feared the girl would be raped at the hands of the militants. We have evidence of the militants raping our girls as young as age 8.

I believe future generations will regard Islamic State as our equivalent of the Nazis. They do not have the same capacity as the Nazis, but their inhumanity is on a par.

Thousands of people—primarily women and children are still in captivity in Islamic State territory. I have spoken to women who have made it out who said they had been sold five or six times, in each case being raped by as many as five men at a time before being sold to another fighter. The militants force the young ones to convert, teach them how to pray and train them to be child soldiers—telling them all the while that their families won’t take them back because they have converted to Islam. Some girls told me that they had lost all hope. We just gave up and decided this is the life that we should live, they told me, because we don’t have another life. We can’t go back to our home.

But they can go home; their families—our families—are waiting for them. And, slowly but surely, I and a determined group of people are getting Yazidi prisoners out of this nightmare. There are some volunteers willing to go into ISIL-controlled areas to save those girls and help them all get back safely to Iraqi Kurdistan. With no help from any government, we’ve been able to rescue 2,150 of the 5,840 Yazidi men, women and children who were taken prisoner—800 of them young girls.


Amazing. That is God’s work.

The author is a member of the Iraqi Parliament.



Corbyn dodges the Queen

October 8th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Jeremy Corbyn has snubbed the Queen by refusing to be sworn into Britain’s Privy Council, as it emerged he could use a loophole to join the advisory body without ever meeting Her Majesty.

The UK Labour leader, a lifelong republican, is known to have reservations about kneeling in front of the Queen and kissing her hand as he swears an oath of allegiance to her, which is the normal process when a new Privy Councillor is sworn in.

And having refused to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain 75th anniversary service last month, Mr Corbyn tried to dodge the issue by saying he could not attend tomorrow’s meeting due to unspecified “prior engagements”.

The Telegraph has learnt that Mr Corbyn could choose to avoid meeting the Queen altogether, using a mechanism called an Order in Council, by which the Privy Council, including the monarch, agrees to appoint a new member without them being present.

For that to happen Mr Corbyn, who has never met the Queen, would still have to confirm that he had taken the oath, but would avoid kneeling before the sovereign.

If he does so, it is understood he would be the first Leader of the Opposition to refuse to be sworn in the presence of the monarch. Orders in Council are usually used only for Privy Council members who are based abroad, such as prime ministers of Commonwealth realms.

He’s been an MP for over 30 years and has managed to avoid ever meeting the Queen, and still won’t meet her as Opposition Leader. Does he not realise the PM usually meets the Queen every week?

Can you really imagine him as the UK Prime Minister? It would be like John Minto being made Leader of the Labour Party, and winning an election!


The battle for the IP chapter

October 8th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This will be a long blog post, but an important one. It is about the TPP, the IP chapter, and how a group of NZ organisations actually managed to help beat back the US Government and the corporates they were fighting for.

First I want to talk about critics of the TPP, and how you can divide them into three categories. They are:

1 – Opponents of all trade deals

There are some people who are opposed to all trade deals. They have a honest belief that either trade deals are bad, or trade is bad. A couple of examples are Jane Kelsey and the Greens.

Jane Kelsey has opposed (as far as I can tell) every trade deal NZ has ever signed up to. It doesn’t matter what the details are, she has campaigned against it. She has a world view that is basically protectionism is economically good, and no amount of evidence will sway her views.

Kelsey has every right to her views (though I do grumble that she seems to spend a large proportion of her time as a taxpayer funded academic running campaigns), but the reality is that Kelsey will never influence the details of a trade detail, because people know that nothing they agree to will ever stop her being a critic. She can make a deal more unpopular with voters, but no one in Government ever asks the question “Will this satisfy the demands of Jane Kelsey”.

I’m not trying to personalise it on Professor Kelsey. There are many others like her, who are against petty much all trade deals.

The Greens have voted against against (I think) every trade agreement. Their opposition seems to be more because of their belief that trade harms the environment, and we should grow and produce everything we need locally. So again, no one ever asks what is needed to get the Greens do support a trade deal – it is basically impossible.

2 – Opponents because of who the Government is

This is basically the Labour Party, and some of their supporters. If Labour were in Government I have no doubt the TPP would look very similar to what was announced this week, and they would be signing up to it. They are not opposed to the TPP (well not most of their caucus), but because National is in Government they just see it as a weapon to attack with. Just like the flag referendum.

I don’t mind oppositions attacking Governments for things which they honestly disagree on – for example labour laws and the like. But it does get tiring when you know their opposition is only because they are not in Government themselves. It is worth remembering the TPP started under Labour. They also did a great trade deal with China, which has been hugely beneficial. If it was National that had done the trade deal with China, I suspect Labour would be condemning it.

So in the end these opponents do not get much traction either, because their opposition is more about who the Government is, than what is in the TPP. That doesn’t mean their criticism do not have validity, just that their motivations are more about bashing the Government.

3 – Opponents of some proposed details

The last category is what I want to focus on. It is individual and groups who have been critical of what might be in the TPP, because they think certain aspects would be bad for their area of interest if included.

These opponents are not against the TPP regardless of what is in it. They’re not for it either. They’re people saying “We don’t want X in there” but if X is not there, then we don’t have a view on it.

That might be a health group on keeping the Pharmac model, or ICT groups on the details of the e-commerce and intellectual property chapters. The latter is what I want to focus on, and tell a story about the battle here.

The US wish list on intellectual property

The first post I can find I did on the TPP was about how despite being a big supporter of free trade, I was concerned about the US wishlist in TPP. I quoted Rick Shera on how it could affect us:

  • Rights holders would be allowed to prevent parallel imports
  • Massive extension of terms, from life of author plus 50 years, to 70 years
  • Circumventing a Technological Protection Measure (TPM) will to be a criminal offence even if the work it protects is in the public domain or you want to exercise fair dealing rights like educational use or current affairs reporting
  • The return of guilt upon accusation three strikes Internet termination laws
  • Forcing us to reverse the decision recently taken to exclude software from being patentable
  • Introducing statutory damages (which give rights holders windfall damages up to 3 times their actual losses)
  •  ISP policing of IP rights including a requirement for ISPs to give up their customers’ identities when they receive a mere allegation from a rights holder
  • Criminal liability even where the infringement has no commercial value at all
  • Pushing Courts to impose imprisonment as the default sentence for infringement even where no monetary benefit is obtained

These provisions would have been truly horrible, if they had been agreed to. The good thing is that with the exception of the extension of the term (which is more a copyright than Internet issue) the US got beaten back on pretty much all of this. I’m not saying the IP chapter is great (there are still a couple of areas of concern which we need to see the detail on) but this truly horrible stuff is not in there – software is not patentable still, parallel importing remains legal, you can circumvent TPMs for legal purposes, ISPs don’t face extra liability, no changes to our three strikes law for filesharing infringing (which rights holders don’t like).

So why did the US not get its way on much in this chapter? Is it because it was an unimportant chapter? No, far from it. For several years it has been said that the IP chapter will be one of the most difficult. Many in the media thought the big battle was Pharmac, but in reality that was never at great risk. The PM and others had often said that the IP chapter was one of the big challenges.

This was a concern, as those of us against the US demands, were worried that the IP chapter would be traded at the lost moment with the US, in order to gain a better deal elsewhere. We wanted to stop that happening, and make the price of compromising on the IP chapter too high, so what did we do.

By we I mean groups such as InternetNZ, IITP, TUANZ and NZ Rise. I don’t speak for any of them, this is just my views as someone who was involved.

Set the tone right

It was important that we were not seen as just against TPP regardless. We were against an IP chapter that was bad for NZ. While we would work with other critics such as Jane Kelsey (and inform them of our concerns), it was vital not to be seen as anti-TPP regardless. You lose influence if you do that.

We also tried to have it about ICT and Internet industries being important for NZ’s future and don’t trade away their interests for those of commodity industries.

Be specific

Another key was not just to rant about secret negotiations (even though criticism of the process was made), selling out sovereignty, attacking Hollywood corporations. It was to be specific as to what measures were opposed, the impact on NZ of them, and putting up alternative provisions.

Meet NZ negotiators

Many meetings were arranged with negotiators with MFAT and MBIE. And they were extremely professional, and useful. The negotiators do not set policy (Ministers do), but they will tell you what their position is, listen to your concerns, and make sure they understand them.

They would also share information on the negotiations. They are not allowed to sit down with you and show you a copy of the proposed texts (unless every negotiating country agreed). But they could tell you in some detail what the issues are, and what the NZG position currently was. And thanks to texts being leaked on Wikileaks, we actually got verified that the NZ negotiators were advocating exactly what they told us they were, and resisting the US demands.

They also were useful in giving us some idea of which countries were with us on these issues, and which were not, and which were yet to take a position. Again, not in exact detail which would breach confidentiality, but some useful steers.

The key here is that while the exact negotiating texts were secret, stakeholders could gain information on proceedings by engaging with the process – and not just corporates, but civil society groups also. Engaging with the process works, rather than just shouting slogans.

Also at least one meeting was held (possibly more) with the Trade Negotiations Minister, Tim Groser. I did not attend, but understand he was very up to speed with the issues around the IP chapter. Meetings were also held with the ICT Minister, so she could be a voice for the industry if Cabinet discussed details.

It also became apparent to me that other Ministers, up to and including the PM, were aware of the issues around the Internet and the IP chapter. In fact as I said earlier, the PM said fairly early on that the IP chapter might be the toughest.

Meet TPP supporters

We met supporters of the TPP such as NZ International Business Forum (Stephen Jacobi). We explained that our potential opposition was issues based. If certain provisions were in the TPP, we would be opposing and criticising it. But if they were not there, then mostly we would have no view.

We know that most business groups would support the TPP, regardless of the IP chapter. What we wanted to get across, was that if they could use their influence to get an IP chapter that was more palatable to us, then there would be less domestic opposition.

The meetings were cordial, and useful.

I can’t recall exactly other meetings we had, but off memory there was some dialogue also with the US Embassy and Federated Farmers.

Attend the Negotiations

Staff were sent to some of the international negotiations rounds. Why, if you are not allowed in the negotiating room? Well, a lot happens in the side events and public forums. You can set up stands handing out information on your views, you can chat to NZ negotiators, you can get to meet the negotiators from other countries, and also develop links with other third party groups who share your concerns.

The staffer who attended some of these for the NZ group did an excellent job in building networks, organising events and getting our message across. It was an excellent investment in sending her.

Build a coalition locally

A local coalition was set up – called the Fair Deal coalition. It was set up to critique and oppose the US demands, but also to put pressure on the NZ Government to stick to its position. We wanted to make any backing down politically painful. A quote from the site is:

The US wants copyright standards that would force change to New Zealand’s copyright laws. We want you to know more about what’s at stake so that you can have a say now, before the deal is done.

The good news is that we know – from another leaked document – that the NZ copyright team went into TPP talks looking for fair copyright (and other intellectual property) standards. Now is the time to stand behind our team and  support a Fair Deal for New Zealand.

NZ members were InternetNZ, NZ Rise, Creative Freedom Foundation, Blind Foundation, TUANZ, Consumer, IITP, Trade Me, NZ Open Source Society, LIANZA, Tech Liberty and Scoop.

The tone wasn’t to attack the Government, but to pressure the Government to stand firm.

Build a coalition globally

At the beginning of the negotiations, NZ was quite exposed. The US was pushing hard for their wishlist, NZ was the most staunch against, and we had few allies. Many were not focused on it much, and Australia even seemed to be backing the US.

The NZ negotiators made it pretty clear that if we are alone there, then we need to compromise more. So we went about building a wider coalition.

Through attendance at the actual meetings, links were made to other groups in the countries negotiating the TPP. An alliance was formed with Public Citizen, Open Media, Australian Digital Alliance, Consumers International, EFF etc. Gradually more and more countries came to siding with the NZ position.

Note I am not suggesting this is solely or even mainly due to the work of the alliance, but I do believe it did have an impact.

Also crucially, we tried to soften the US position. Their position was reflecting the demands of Hollywood associated creative industries. In fact many of the staff in the IP area of the Trade team, had worked for lobby groups there. But then big US IT companies started lobbying, saying they did not support some of the US position. This helped weaken the US stance, as it was no longer unambiguous what Us businesses wanted.

Host the negotiations

Auckland hosted the 15th round of negotiations in December 2012. This was great as it gave us a great opportunity to interact. There were a number of initiatives as part of that, but the most significant was we hosted a lunch for all the IP negotiators from all the countries. I think they all had someone attend, and most importantly the US did.

Over the lunch a few of us spoke, on various aspects and outlined what our issues and concerns were. My role was to talk about the politics, and explain how NZ had just had several big fights on IP law – the blackout campaign, ACTA, patent law, a new copyright act – and I doubted any Government would want to be explaining why the hard fought compromise that had been achieved was now going to be upended. I also talked on Dotcom and how he is alleging Key and Obama did a deal with Hollywood to lock him up, in exhchange for the TPP – and while that may be nonsense, could they imagine a NZ PM standing up and saying “We’ve decided to change our copyright and IP laws to please Hollywood”. The point was that if you demand something a Government is simply politically unable to deliver, then you won’t get an agreement (like Canada on dairy – political cost too high).

And this is partly why the only major change appears to be length of copyright, rather than stuff more directly affecting the Internet. And don’t get me wrong – I am against the extension, but from my point of view it is less harmful than what else the US was demanding, and if we had to compromise on something – that is the lesser evil from an Internet point of view.

Constructive opposition does make a difference

The point of all this, is that constructive engagement, criticism and even at times opposition can make a difference. When you work with the Government and negotiators in good faith, you can have influence and get better outcomes (even if still sub-optimal) than without your involvement. You do a mixture of loud noisy activism (postcard campaigns, petitions, public meetings) and behind the scenes diplomacy – but always with a consistent principled message that we are not anti TPP (or pro TPP), just anti these provisions.

I’m actually very proud that the NZ ICT industry and civil society managed to run a very effective and principled campaign, that was overall remarkably successful – especially against the power of the US Government, and very wealthy and powerful firms in the US. One can be cynical about aspects of politics (such as the secrecy), but one can also celebrate that spending time and money on sticking up for your beliefs can work, and logical well reasoned arguments can beat vested interests.

Again do not take any of this to suggest the ICT industry now thinks the TPP is great. I don’t speak for them, and from what I have observed views are as diverse within it, as elsewhere. Some still think it is the worst thing ever and the end of democracy, and others think it is a great deal. I personally think it is an overall positive deal, and actually pleasantly surprised that we managed to get a deal, with most (not all) of the nasty IP provisions defanged.

But there is a lesson here for other groups, and individuals. Constructive opposition and criticism can achieve far far more, than just blanket negativity and attack.

The groups involved in the Far Deal coalition, both locally and globally, should be proud of what they managed to achieve, against formidable odds.  Also I give credit to the professional negotiators from MFAT and MBIE who I think did a very good job of holding the line.


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September Public Polls

October 6th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


Just published the monthly polling newsletter. The executive summary is:

There were three political voting polls in September – a Roy Morgan, a One News Colmar Brunton and a 3 News Reid Research.

 The average of the public polls has National 14% ahead of Labour in September, down 8% from August back to what it was in July. The current seat projection is centre-right 58 seats, centre-left 54 which would see NZ First holding the balance of power.

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 Hillary Clinton’s favourability continues to drop, reaching -13%. Donald Trump also has falling favourability hitting -20%. Both Clinton and Trump remains the leaders in the polls for their nominations though.

In the UK Jeremy Corbyn faces considerable challenges with 32% of Labour voters saying they think David Cameron would be a better Prime Minister than Corbyn. Personal beliefs of Corbyn such as withdrawing from NATO have only 9% support. Also in a significant change there is now a plurality in favour of leaving the EU, in the wake of the refugee crisis.

In Australia Malcolm Turnbull has a honeymoon. The Coalition has gained a net 10% on the two party preferred vote. Turnbull has a net approval rating of +34% compared to his predecessor Abbott who had -33% and Opposition Leader Shorten on -25%.

In Canada a fairy dramatic change with the campaign underway, seeing the Conservatives gain 5% and retake the lead. However projections still have them well off getting a majority.

We also carry details of polls on the NZ Flag, private prisons, Labour Deputy Leadership, foreign investment, the TPP plus 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 to subscribe yourself.