NZ First infighting

October 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sam Sachdeva at The Press reports:

NZ First has been embroiled in infighting after a blog slammed the performance of some of its MPs, leaked party emails show.

Internal emails, passed on to The Press, have revealed discord within the party, with Christchurch MP Denis O’Rourke among those attacking their Whip and the party’s board.

The emails relate to a post by website Kiwiblog that used a range of statistics to rank Opposition MPs.

The rankings placed Canterbury NZ First MPs O’Rourke and Richard Prosser in the bottom five for the third quarter of 2012, along with colleague Asenati Taylor.

I wouldn’t say the blog slammed any of the NZ First MPs. In the post I did, I mainly just report the data. Rajen Prasad is the only MP I really gave much of a swipe to.

As I said in the post, the data is quantitative, not qualitative. However I think it has some value as it does at least show if MPs are being active asking PQs and doing press releases.

To be fair to NZ First MPs, many will always struggle as Winston hogs most of the media stories, and front on almost any high profile issue. But that is no reason you can’t still be churning out some releases and gathering data through PQs.

NZ First Whip Barbara Stewart emailed the rankings to the caucus on October 4.

She said they showed “how others are judging you”.

O’Rourke and former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams hit back, criticising the rankings and Stewart’s decision to email them out.

What is fascinating is not that MPs disagree, but that one of the MPs has leaked the e-mails to the media. Not a good sign.

O’Rourke said the rankings were “not even remotely interesting or relevant” and were “utter nonsense”.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone with any brains would actually take any notice of a stupid Right-wing blog site,” he said.

Hey, I resent the “stupid” comment! And yes my blog is from the right and I am known to be a critic of Winston, but the MP stats are not designed to be pro or anti any party or MP. They are designed to both reveal how much work MPs are doing in certain areas, and how effective they are at gaining media attention. I do them for Government Ministers also.

Williams said Stewart’s decision to place importance on the rankings was “a sad inditement [sic] on you as Whip and of this party”.

“[Q]uite frankly I do not want to receive these ‘nanny’ type sermons from you. Have better things to do than be preached at.”

It is interesting that Winston promised soon after the election that the caucus would elect a Deputy Leader by the end of March 2012. They still haven’t elected one. Is it because they can’t agree?

In response, Stewart warned the MPs that their performance had been noticed by the NZ First board.

“The number of contributions or lack of – that you make . . . is also being noticed. A picture is being created about you!”

I’m biased, but I think the data in the ratings can be of some use to a party. Certainly only of some limited value, but it allows a party to say why has Brendan Horan does 16 press releases and Denis O’Rourke only one? Now there may be a simple answer such as Horan has a portfolio that has been more high profile. So the data is not the answer, but at least allows questions to be asked.  Likewise why has Andrew Williams asked 22 PQs and Asenati Taylor just three?

So even I wouldn’t place huge reliance on the data, but that isn’t to say it can’t be of some value.

Oh just shut up

August 29th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicholas Jones at NZ Herald reports:

A film-maker who made inflammatory comments about a dead soldier has slammed the Defence Force and police for the response to subsequent threats against her.

But last night, both organisations disputed Barbara Sumner Burstyn’s version of events and expressed disappointment over her attack.

What I detest about this, is Burstyn is trying to make this all about her.  Now she is lying about the Police.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said police twice dispatched staff to check an address provided by Sumner Burstyn. Attempts were made to phone the house, and checks revealed nothing untoward.

Local police were notified and neighbours alerted so police could be quickly notified of suspicious activity.

Mr Burgess said Sumner Burstyn was advised to contact Canadian police because she had full and immediate access to the relevant information. That information was forwarded via Interpol and was being assessed by detectives, he said.

“Ms Sumner Burstyn has acknowledged that she made a major gaffe through her Facebook comments.

“It is disappointing that she now sees fit to comment adversely and inaccurately on the organisation which responded properly to her concerns,” he said.

For an excellent take on this whole issue, I recommend Chris Trotter who noted:

 In an extraordinary outburst on Facebook, the New Zealand film-maker, Barbara Sumner-Burstyn, delivered the following, scathing, “testimonial” to Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, the young New Zealand soldier killed in action in Afghanistan on August 19: ‘Oh, so fallen soldier Jacinda Baker liked boxing and baking – did they forget she also liked invading countries we are not at war with, killing innocent people and had no moral compass. She 100 per cent does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices. We are not at war. We are helping America invade another country for their oil. No more than that.’

It is difficult to know where to begin with this thoroughly obnoxious piece of writing.

Perhaps with Sumner-Burstyn’s simple errors of fact.

Corporal Baker did not invade Afghanistan, she was posted there as a serving member of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) which was in Afghanistan at the behest of the New Zealand Government, which had agreed to supply the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan province.

The ISAF is in Afghanistan by virtue of a UN Security Council resolution authorising UN member states to aid the creation of an effective and democratic Afghan government.

Baker, far from ‘killing innocent people’ was a medic – duty-bound to assist all those wounded in combat or injured by enemy munitions – regardless of status or nationality.

When she was killed, Baker was escorting an injured comrade to medical assistance. It is extremely difficult to reconcile these facts with Sumner-Burstyn’s charge that Baker ‘had no moral compass’.

Sumner-Burstyn’s final claim: ‘We are helping America invade another country for their oil’ is similarly false.

Afghanistan possesses no oilfields worth expending US blood and treasure to secure.

The Americans are there for only one reason. Because the Taleban Government of Afghanistan had offered safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda: the terrorists ultimately responsible for the murderous attacks of September 11, 2001.

So well summed up.

Threatened with rape and murder, Sumner-Burstyn fears to return to New Zealand.

A recent photograph of Sumner-Burstyn shows a middle-aged woman posed in front of a large bookcase filled with academic literature.

Studying her face, and reading about her many awards for documentary film- making – many of them on ‘progressive’ themes – it is difficult to fathom how Sumner-Burstyn could be capable of such casual cruelty.

As a clearly gifted artist and feminist, it is extraordinary that she was so utterly unable to empathise with Baker – the first female member of her generation to lose her life on active service.

By the same token, it is profoundly depressing to read the spittle-flecked responses of her detractors.

Baker lost her life on a mission to rebuild and heal a damaged province in a ravaged land.

Her empathy merited a much more generous memorial.

It is a shame that a few people went over the top and made threats, which have no place in public discourse. They also are responsible for the debate shifting from the dead soldiers to Burstyn herself.

Personally I just never want to hear about the woman again.

A stupid insensitive idiot

August 26th, 2012 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

A filmmaker who posted inflammatory comments online about a woman soldier killed in Afghanistan has gone into hiding following a barrage of death threats to her and her family.

Barbara Sumner-Burstyn’s remarks on Facebook, accusing Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker of “killing innocent people”, attracted a vitriolic attack from some army colleagues.

“Oh, so fallen soldier Jacinda Baker liked boxing and baking – did they forget she also liked invading countries we are not at war with, killing innocent people and had no moral compass” Burstyn wrote on her Facebook page.

“She 100 per cent does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices. We are not at war. We are helping America invade another country for their oil. No more than that.

“Go to war expect to be killed. You can’t have it both ways – oh nice little career with the military and shock horror when you get blown up.”

The post went viral around the internet and last night 19,000 people had joined a Facebook group called “Sumner Burstyn give back your NZ Passport!”.

Sumner-Burstyn seems to be a very stupid person, as she repeats a manta “war for oil” without even understanding it. Afghanistan is not an oil producing country.

More to the point, one can have a legitimate view on the conflict in Afghanistan and express it in the context of deaths. But Sumner-Burstyn crossed the line by making claims about Jacinda Baker personally, and almost expressing satisfaction that she had died. She seems to lack any empathy for fellow human beings such as Jacinda’s familiy, friends and colleagues.

It goes without saying that while of course people will get angry at Sumner-Burstyn for her vile remarks on Jacinda Baker, that anger should never become threats as a few did. That just allows Sumner-Burstyn to portray herself as the victim.

It‘s a shame such a talented film-maker is so lacking in basic human empathy and decency.