Labour’s bright idea is to tax Internet users!

March 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

This morning, a strategy document written by Labour associate information and communications technology (ICT) spokesperson Clare Curran was accidentally sent to ICT Minister Amy Adams’ Office, Ms Curran says (though not by her specifically).

That’s the second time they have done that, it seems. Taking open data to a new level!

The document is here.

Stuff reports:

Telecom is bristling at the suggestion Labour could impose a “content levy” on internet providers.

Labour was left red-faced today after MP Clare Curran’s ideas on ICT policy were accidentally emailed to her National Party counterpart, Communications Minister Amy Adams.

These include imposing a revenue-based levy on telecommunications carriers to create a contestable fund to support the “creation and accessible distribution of New Zealand digital content”.

This is a tax on telcos and ISPs. That is effectively a tax on Internet users, as it would be passed on. So Labour is thinking of taxing people to use the Internet, and give the money to “content producers”.

One might wonder if it would be used to help fund programmes by broadcasting Icons like Brendan Horan, Tamati Coffey, Shane Taurima, Martin Bradbury, Fran Mold, Kris Faafoi and Matt McCarten!

The Herald further reports:

The minister said she only had a brief look at the documents but it appeared that Labour’s main idea was to start all their policies with the word Kiwi.

Ms Curran’s document outlined plans for policies called KiwiMap, KiwiCode, KiwiCall, KiwiCap, KiwiCloud and Kiwis Come Home.

Maybe they could call their levy plan, KiwiTax!

What is even more interesting is where all these policy ideas came from. I understand that they are very similiar to policies that will be announced by the Internet/DotCom Party and that they may have been discussed between Dotcom and Curran. The purpose being to have policy alignment between the parties, so they could be endorsed when he winds his party up just before the election and asks his supporters to vote for whichever parties he endorses.

So a simple question is whether these policy ideas were ever discussed with Kim Dotcom, and what input has he had into them.

UPDATE: Vodafone also is against Labour’s idea to tax us all more through our ISPs:

Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners described the proposed levy as “crazy and outrageous”.

“Labour should go the whole hog and nationalise everything,” he said. “The document also says multiple networks are wasteful. Why don’t we go for one network, one TV company, one bank, so there is no wastage, and then you can have as many levies as you want.”

I am worried that Labour may take up Stanners ironic suggestion and adopt it as serious policy.

UPDATE2: Clare Curran has been unfairly maligned as responsible for the accidental e-mail leak. She silently took one for the team, but it has been revealed it was actually a staff member in David Cunliffe’s office who sent it out. It seems it was Irish Bill, so that is not a good week for The Standard with one blogger sending Labour party policies to National and the other being the genius behind Cunliffe’s secret trust!

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A parliamentary response

November 14th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

MPs have the absolute protection of parliamentary privilege for what they say in the House. Some years ago a standing order was adopted which allowed those who feel they were effectively defamed by an MP, to submit a response to the Speaker, which is tabled in Parliament if accepted by the Speaker.

Paoro Maxwell has done this, and his response is below:

On Wednesday, 4 September and Thursday, 5 September 2013, Clare Curran, MP for Dunedin South, referred to me by name or by implication during questions for oral answer. Ms Curran’s statements infer that there was something to hide about my leaving my previous position at Television New Zealand; she stated that I “left without a reference and under a cloud of financial and staff mismanagement”. She also stated that I was only shortlisted for the position of Chief Executive of Māori Television as a result of improper influence by the Māori Television Board Chairperson. Ms Curran also alleged that my
production company, Aratai Film and Television Productions Limited, owes money to the Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency, Te Māngai Pāho.

Ms Curran’s comments about both my production company and me are untrue and have damaged my professional reputation both presently and in the future. The statements made in the House could well have adversely affected both my application for the Chief Executive position at Māori Television, and also if I choose to apply for any job in the public sector in the future. For the record, my primary reason for leaving Television New Zealand was that I was satisfied with what I had achieved during my tenure as the General Manager of Māori and Pacific Programmes, and I was also confident that the Māori and Pacific department would be retained in the future and remain under the auspices of Television New Zealand. I left with a reference from the Head of News and Current Affairs at Television New Zealand. Additionally, I reject the suggestion that the Chairperson of Māori Television would have acted inappropriately in dealing with the shortlisting process. More likely the reason for my shortlisting was that I have twenty-six years of experience in the television industry, having served in various senior roles, and am one of a handful of people with the senior management experience to fill the role of Chief  Executive of Māori Television. Ms Curran’s statement in relation to Te Māngai Pāho is also untrue as Te Māngai Pāho has confirmed that I have no current debt to it.

Will we see an apology?

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Jones lashes Curran

September 11th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

One News reported:

MP Shane Jones has opened fire on one of his caucus colleagues as the Labour leadership roadshow is about to wrap up in Christchurch.

Mr Jones, one of three contenders for the leadership, has told ONE News that in a Labour Party he leads, Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran would be so far on the outer she would be sitting with independent MP Brendan Horan.

That’s a massively harsh statement to make in public, and it gives you some idea how toxic some relationships are within the Labour caucus.

“Either the moon in Dunedin was in the wrong phase or she’s casting around for a new job,” he told ONE News.

They had been doing a fairly good of pretending to be civil for the first week, but it is all unwinding now.

“What happens in David Cunliffe’s camp or Grant Robertson’s camp ought not to be fed via the Twitter, then exponentially spread up and down New Zealand, only to confirm that the Labour caucus is unfit to govern,” Mr Jones said.

So Shane thinks Labour is unfit to govern! Oh the next question time will be fun!

But the quotes are even more damning in this Stuff article about why Cunliffe stood down Jenny Michie:

“I’ve looked closely at that issue, I’ve made a decision to stand a person down from my campaign team just because I think maintaining the appropriate perceptions that we are a united party and a united caucus is really important,” he said.

Can you believe this. Cunliffe has said that it is only a perception that Labour is united, and that his actions are just about maintaining that perception!

The actual comments Michie made were, in my view, not in any way inappropriate. The question and answer was:

Rachel Okay, Grant Robertson Jennie says that he wants to be judged on his ability, not his sexuality. How do you think the socially conservatives might view Grant Robertson you know in the year 2013?

Jennie That’s right, I think it’s not a big a deal as it used to be. You know we now have gay marriage, and it actually went through without that much of a fuss, and the sky hasn’t fallen. Having said that I think we’d be naïve to imagine that there would be no resistance to a gay Prime Minister at this point. I think some people might have a problem with it, but I certainly wouldn’t.

Michie was asked a direct question. She did not bring the issue up. She was sacked for just telling the obvious truth – that of course some people would have a problem with a gay PM. Should she have lied and said that no-one would? She made clear she didn’t think it would be a big deal, but while same sex marriage passed with strong support, it did not have anywhere near unanimous support, and you’d have no credibility as a commentator if you denied that some people may have an issue.

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It’s all Sky’s fault!

June 17th, 2013 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

Clare Curran released:

The Government’s refusal to break the stranglehold of pay-TV company Sky on the media market has contributed to the position MediaWorks finds itself in today, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran.

This is bizarre. Clare seems to have a fetish against Sky TV. It seems they are responsible for everything bad in broadcasting (despite keeping Backbenches on the air) and somehow are magically responsible for Mediaworks taking on too much debt.

TVNZ has remained profitable, so blaming the receivership of Mediaworks on Sky TV is ridiculous, and scapegoating. In fact their problems are long-standing around their level of debt.

“Instead of throwing a $43 million loan at MediaWorks three years ago to bail them out of a short term sticky situation, the Government should have done what most other countries do and free up the market to enable free to air television to compete with pay-television.

I’ve never heard of a loan with commercial interest rates (now repaid) being referred to as throwing money away before.

And by “free up the market”, I presume the actual intent is to regulate against Sky for being too successful!

I notice Clare’s press release is not on the Labour website. Does her statement speak on behalf of the Labour Party? Do they also believe that Sky TV is responsible for Mediaworks having too much debt?

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The “right wing agenda”

May 23rd, 2013 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran exposes at Red Alert the right wing agenda. It seems to be:

  1. Tony Abbott spoke at the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs
  2. Tony Abbott is advised by Crosby Textor
  3. The NZ National Party is also advised by Crosby Textor
  4. Hence the NZ National Party plans to implement the policy agenda of the institute of Public Affairs

Clare goes on to list some of the policies that may find their way into National’s policy agenda here, which she disagrees with. They include:

  • Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  • Introduce a special economic zone for northern Australia
  • Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  • Cease funding the Australia Network
  • Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Privatise the CSIRO and the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  • Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  • Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

I’m pretty sure we won’t see any of the above implemented in New Zealand. Well, we could try to implement them but Australia may not take too kindly to us passing laws on their behalf.

There is one policy Clare agrees with:

Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

That’s good to see, as I’ve been pushing this for some time. I would have thought Clare also supports:

Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship

As it happens I think many (not all) of the IPA’s policies are very laudable and sensible. Ones I especially like are:

  • Means-test Medicare
  • Abolish the Baby Bonus
  • Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  • Repeal the alcopops tax
  • Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  • Introduce a single rate of income tax
  • Return income taxing powers to the states
  • Cut company tax to 25 per cent
  • Cease subsidising the car industry
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  • Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  • Means test tertiary student loans
  • Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  • Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  • Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  • End public funding to political parties
  • Introduce voluntary voting
  • Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a % of GDP
  • Legislate a balanced budget amendment which limits the size of budget deficits and the period the government can be in deficit
  • Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  • Remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  • Deregulate the parallel importation of books
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Labour even wants state owned ISPs!

April 16th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A few years ago the SOE Kordia purchased the ISP Orcon. I wasn’t sure it was a great idea for a government owned enterprise to be purchasing private companies in an incredibly competitive market. However SOEs are meant to make decisions for commercial reasons, and presumably Kordia saw it as adding value to their business.

Yesterday Kordia sold Orcon. Just as their purchase as a matter for the board, so was the sale. Neither require or gain shareholder approval. Ministers would have been informed, but are not needed to consent.

But Clare Curran has put out a release suggesting that Orcon is a strategic asset and that somehow it is all the Government’s fault. Very bizarre. Her release says:

The sale of the state-owned Telco Orcon is shrouded in mystery and appears to be yet another example of short-term thinking by this Government, says Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran.

It worries me when MPs do not realise that there is in fact no Government decision involved. Does Labour think Ministers should run SOEs directly and decide for them what assets they purchase or sell? Why have boards of directors?

Ministers would be consulted on decisions like this, but are not the decision makers.

“The bottom line is the Government should have decided whether Orcon is now a strategic asset and if it is an important means to drive uptake of ultrafast broadband.

The suggestion that Orcon is a strategic asset is staggering, and shows that I think some in Labour regard everything as a strategic asset. Orcon has around 5% market share and if Labour think you can consider Orcon as a strategic asset, then I can only assume they believe the Government should purchase Chorus, Telecom, Vodafone, 2 Degrees, Inspire Net and well just about every company in New Zealand.

Then on this new definition of strategic asset, they should buy both Foodstuffs and Progressive because what is more strategic than food? But wait if a 5% market share is also now strategic, they better buy up the 4 squares also!

Now you might say Labour have not said Orcon is a strategic asset, just that it might be. Well I think such distinctions are meaningless when a company is so clearly a million miles away from being a strategic asset.

If I was attacking the decision to sell Orcon, I’d focus on whether Kordia has actually made a profit or a loss on the purchase. Did Kordia lose taxpayer money by buying an ISP?

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Curran v Jones on parody law

October 15th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s communications spokeswoman, Clare Curran, has taken her colleague Shane Jones to task for wading into her portfolio area and criticising a Green Party bill to allow exemptions to copyright for the sake of satire.

In the Weekend Herald, Mr Jones said Green MP Gareth Hughes’ proposed bill to allow copyrighted work to be used for parody or satire was part of a “Green agenda” of economic vandalism and would endanger jobs by damaging companies’ brands.

However, Ms Curran said she did not agree with Mr Jones and his comments were contrary to Labour’s general policy on the issue.

She later told the Herald she had contacted Mr Jones.

She said Mr Hughes’ Copyright (Parody and Satire) Amendment Bill was in line with Labour’s policy.

“From my perspective and our policy perspective, it’s the mark of a civilised society to do so. So my view and our policy view are not in accord with Shane Jones’ views. We will have a discussion with him when we get back [from the United States].”

Labour’s caucus was yet to discuss the bill, but she would recommend the party support it if it was drawn from the member’s ballot.

The main article on what Jones said is here. Danyl has also commented here.

On this issue I agree with Clare and Gareth. I think parody and satire should be “fair use” of material under our laws – as it is in the United States. Companies should not be able to prevent satire or parody by resort to copyright laws.

However there is an issue about how far fair use stretches. Few would say you shouldn’t be able to highlight and mock extracts from an advertisement, but is it fair use to say take an entire five minute video, and edit it into a parody? Does it make a difference if a competitor does it, or a lobby group?

There is also the reality that any attempt to remove a parody or satire of an ad, will probably just see the ad get wider publicity and hosted more widely.

If Gareth’s bill gets drawn, I hope it passes first reading. There would be some interesting factors to consider at select committee though about how far “fair use” (or “fair dealing” extends.  How would we feel if some US lobby group did ads using Fonterra’s intellectual property to try and damage their brand in the US and cause harm to NZ exports?

For me the principle is clear, that parody and satire should be allowed. The details may need some work.

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Technology Patents

October 5th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Judge Richard Posner has blogged:

I am concerned that both patent and copyright protection, though particularly the former, may be excessive.

To evaluate optimal patent protection for an invention, one has to consider both the cost of inventing and the cost of copying; the higher the ratio of the former to the latter, the greater the optimal patent protection for the inventor. The ratio is very high for pharmaceutical drugs. The cost of inventing a new drug, a cost that includes the extensive testing required for the drug to be approved for sale, is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, yet for most drugs the cost of copying—or producing an identical substitute—is very low. And so the ratio of the first to the second cost is very high, making it hard for the inventor to recover his costs without patent protection (and for the additional reasons that the present value of the revenue from sale of the drug is depressed because of the length of time it takes to get approval, and that the effective patent term is truncated because the patent is granted, and the period patent protection begins to run, when the patent is granted rather than, years later, when the drug can begin to be sold).

Pharmaceutical drugs are the poster child for patent protection. Few other products have the characteristics that make patent protection indispensable to the pharmaceutical industry.

I think Judge Posner articulates well why patents are so necessary in areas such as pharmaceutical. Without them, we would have far fewer drugs and vaccines.

The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent. Nowadays most software innovation is incremental, created by teams of software engineers at modest cost, and also ephemeral—most software inventions are quickly superseded. Software innovation tends to be piecemeal—not entire devices, but components, so that a software device (a cellphone, a tablet, a laptop, etc.) may have tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of separate components (bits of software code or bits of hardware), each one arguably patentable. The result is huge patent thickets, creating rich opportunities for trying to hamstring competitors by suing for infringement—and also for infringing, and then challenging the validity of the patent when the patentee sues you. 

Just as patents encourage innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, there is a growing belief they stifle innovation in the software space. Hence why NZ has, in theory, decided not to allow software patents.

The Government has proposed a legislative wording which is effectively:

A computer program is not an invention for the purposes of this Act … to the extent that a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such

Labour MP Clare Curran has proposed an amendment, supported by many NZ technology groups, being:

A computer program is not an invention for the purposes of this Act … ]but] does not prevent an invention that makes use of an embedded computer program from being patentable

Guy Burgess has blogged that an opinion by Andrew Brown QC has stated:

 the Government amendment, now incorporated into the Bill following the second reading, will effectively allow the patentability of computer programs except where these have no technical effect e.g. algorithms, schemes or plans

Andrew Brown is one of the leading intellectual property lawyers in NZ, if not the leading one, so his opinions carry considerable weight. His full analysis is here. It is worth noting that overall, he thinks the “as such provision” presents a workable set of criteria and signposts.

Personally I think the issue is not just a workable definition, but also whether you want software patentable at all. My view is that amendment by Clare Curran is superior as it clearly says software is not patentable, however protects inventions that have software embedded within them.

National no doubt has to vote in line with the Government decision. However United Future, ACT and the Maori Party do not. I hope they take the time to get to grips with this issue – which is an important one for many NZ technology firms, and that they back the Curran amendment. It is, in my opinion, closest to what the Select Committee unanimously recommended.

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Should we emulate Brazil

August 19th, 2012 at 2:42 pm by David Farrar

Clare Curran tweeted:

NZ Govt take note “@rnz_news: Stimulus package announced by Brazil http://bit.ly/PF0Pei 

This got me interested in the details of what Brazil had done, and which a Labour MP was asking NZ to emulate.

Radio NZ reported:

Brazil has announced the first phase of an economic stimulus package designed to boost growth in the economy.

More than $US60 billion will be invested in roads and railways over the next 25 years, with more than half in the next five years. This includes 8000km of new roads and 8000kms of railways.

Now US$60b sounds like a lot of money. But Brazil had GDP of $2.5 trillion so we need to adjust for the size of the economy. NZ GDP is around US$135b so the equivalent in NZ would be US3.2b or NZ$4.0b. However this is over 25 years, so is annual expenditure of NZ$160m a year. Not exactly a huge stimulus. To be fair it says half over the next five years so it is $400m a year for five years.

But I suspect Clare did not look at the details of this spend on roading and rail. CNN reports:

Among the initiatives, the government will sell rights for private companies to operate 7,500km of roads and 10,000km of railways.

Superb. That is my sort of stimulus package. $60b of PPPs!

The measures would double the capacity of the country’s main highways, transport minister Paulo Passos said at the event.

However I suspect the Greens would not be so keen. And hasn’t David Shearer just been making speeches against increasing the capacity on the roads of national significance?

The centre-left coalition government led by Ms Rousseff’s Workers’ party has traditionally been opposed to privatizations.

But she has proven pragmatic in the face of infrastructure bottlenecks.

Good to see a NZ Labour MP tweeting in favour of a privatisation programme.

Earlier this year, her government awarded projects to redevelop and operate three major airports to private sector-led consortia

Great.

And Radio NZ concluded:

In addition to the announcements on Wednesday, President Dilma Rousseff is preparing to lower the price of energy for industry and abolish some federal taxes, which could cut the price by 10%.

So Brazil is also planning to increase greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy prices, and also plans tax cuts.

I look forward to questions in the House from Labour demanding the NZ Govt implement a Brazil style stimulus package.

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Labour concentrating on the big issues

June 18th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran at Red Alert is focusing on the issues that really matter to New Zealanders – how some of John Key’s followers on Twitters may be “ghosts”.

Labour’s theory is that the PM may have been “buying” followers!

Yes I can just see the Cabinet meeting. Let’s not talk about the economy, or government debt, or the Christchurch earthquake. Instead they are no doubt discussing how to increase the number of followers John Key has on Twitter. Presumably 1% of the asset sales proceeds go towards purchasing these ghost followers!

Next I await the expose on Red Alert that John Key is not in fact personally friends with all his Facebook friends!

UPDATE: It gets better. Clare has done a second post on the issue, demanding an answer into the question:

how did John Key acquire nearly 30,000 bogus  followers?

I hope Labour pursue this vital issue in the House next week. I urge them to devote all their oral questions to this issue. They should not rest until they get a Royal Commission of Inquiry established into this pressing issue.

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TVNZ7

April 17th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at length before on TVNZ7. I have praised a number of programmes on TVNZ7, but noted that their audiences were miniscule (seem to range from 0.1% to 0.4% of the population) and that trying to make TVNZ both a commercial and a public service broadcaster is doomed to failure (as former CEO Ian Fraser has noted).

I’d like to see other broadcasters (including Sky) apply to NZ on Air to broadcast some of the better shows that were on TVNZ7 such as Court Report, Media 7, Backbenchers and The Last Word. But at this stage I’ve not heard any are.

Clare Curran has blogged a number of things:

I am drafting a private members bill which would ensure TVNZ7 had adequate funding to continue. But a private members bill goes into a ballot with around 60 other bills and it’s the luck of the draw as to whether it gets pulled out. If it did, it would be interesting to see the support for TVNZ7 and public service television across the House. I think the government might find itself outnumbered.

The bill has no chance of achieving anything, and is a last minute publicity stunt (nothing wrong with those, but let’s not pretend it is something different). The bill hasn’t even been drafted yet (most MPs draft the bill then announce it), and could not possibly be passed by 30 June. Hell even it was drawn out of the ballot, I doubt it would even have its first reading by 30 June.

There are two schools of thought. The government’s view  is that public service television can continue to be funded by NZ on Air funding programmes on commercial channels. The problem with this is that the most interesting programmes are not shown in prime time.

True, but with the growing use of PVRs and TV on demand on the Internet this is less of a problem.

There’s a strong argument for a complete revamp of the sector and the Broadcasting Act. For a  new independent public service TV channel separate from TVNZ. For requiring commercial channels, including the pay TV channel Sky to contribute. For even a small levy on internet connections to enable a new service to embrace the broadband environment and develop more Kiwi content that is accessible to Kiwis.

I really do hope Labour adopt this Internet tax as policy and campaign on it.

I am not against there being a public service television broadcaster, but the appropriate funding mechanism would be taxes – just as Radio NZ and Maori TV are funded. And no I do not advocate increased funding in these tight fiscal times. I think one could seriously look at a ABC or BBC style combined radio and television broadcaster within the current Vote Broadcasting.

There’s a strong view that if TVNZ7 was able to continue, and however it is funded, it should be completely separate from TVNZ control and influence.

I agree with that. You can not be a public service broadcaster and a commercial broadcaster. Choose one, not both.

Clare quotes Judy Callingham:

The channel itself should be a  totally separate entity, run by a separate organisation. Whether that’s a trust, a government entity or a company is a detail that can be worked out later. What is important now is to remove the channel from the control of TVNZ  altogether – mere editorial independence isn’t enough.

The separate entity could still use TVNZ studios and staff and equipment if need be.  It would hire them, just as private companies do. It would, and should, expect mates’ rates, but it shouldn’t expect to use the facilities for nothing, although perhaps the cost could be absorbed and become a paper addition to TVNZ’s annual dividend.

This would never work long-term in my opinion. TVNZ would always prioritize itself and other customers over an entity paying very little for its facilities.

Also this model overlooks one of the reasons why TVNZ7 had such dismal ratings. TVNZ never promoted TVNZ programmes in prime time on other channels. Trying to run a stand-alone broadcaster on $15m a year would inevitably fail. This is why the model of a larger combined pubic service broadcaster is better. One could promote the better TV programmes on radio, and vice-versa. There would also be synergies where (for example) something shown on the Court report could be followed up on Radio NZ the next day. When did you ever see One News follow up something from TVNZ7? Very rare.

Going on about “saving” TVNZ7 sounds good, but it was always a flawed model. What the debate should be about is how to best get quality public service programmes onto television. Is it purely NZ on Air or should it be all through a dedicated public service broadcaster or something inbetween? And how do you make it affordable in our current fiscal environment.

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Red Alert

January 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

I highlighted Clare Curran saying “Farrar … is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party” in a thread about NZ on Air. It seemed an obvious reference to NZ on Air being a communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

Now Clare has said she was referring to Red Alert:

Apologies for not being clearer. Labour’s Red Alert blog has been attacked by a number of anti Labour bloggers and commenters for a while. I was referring to this.

Farrar is part of this group.

Once again Clare is sadly wrong. She is infamous for having invented the Vast Right Wing and Non Labour Left Wing Conspiracy (VRWNLLWC), but now the conspiracy has expanded to include Labour activists!

Let’s look at who has publicly expressed doubts about Red Alert:

 

Painting this criticism as an organised conspiracy or group intent on depriving or “censoring” Labour of a communications channel, sums up all the problems Labour has. Rather than accept any of the criticism as valid, they see it as being done by enemies of Labour wanting to punish them.

And now here is the irony. I am not one of those who has been advocating Labour should close down Red Alert. In fact, quite the opposite.

For some reasons I get invited to talk on the Internet and politics on a regular basis. I’ve talked to classes at Victoria, Canterbury, Auckland and Massey universities. I’ve talked to rotary clubs, to legal publishers, to chambers of commerce and even the Business Roundtable on this area.

And you can ask anyone who was at any of those talks, what I said about Labour and Red Alert. They will tell you that I have consistently praised Labour for Red Alert, and think I think it is laudable that they are communicating in such a direct way.

Sure in the last year I have pointed out some of the SMOGs or Social Media Own Goals that have happened on Red Alert, but I always make the point that a political party has to accept there will be occasional own goals if you use this medium, and be tolerant of them – so long as people learn from their mistakes. I specifically say that overall I think Red Alert has overall been beneficial to Labour.

As I said, there have been hundreds of people at these talks, who can all back up that I have always spoken well of Labour for Red Alert, despite the occasional SMOG.

Those same attendees will also confirm that I regularly describe the National blog at nationalmps.co.nz as the greatest cure for insomnia ever invented. They are so mind numbingly boring, that I only subject my eyeballs to them around twice a year, as they start bleeding as I read about some organic carrot farm they have opened.

Of course to some degree this is a deliberate strategy by National. When in Government they want boredom, not excitement and controversy. What will be interesting is to see what National and Labour both do in the blogosphere, when they are in opposition and government respectively.

So if Clare really was referring to Red Alert, not NZ on Air, she got it absolutely wrong. The vast majority of the criticism of Red Alert is coming from the left, and I am one of the few people who has praised it in dozens of forums up and down New Zealand.

My view on Red Alert is that Labour should of course continue with it. I’d like all parties and MPs blogging. I do think for their sake they should look at how to reduce the number of own goals, but note you will never eliminate them entirely as blogging is not a medium you can control. My suggestion would be to have perhaps a couple of the less excitable MPs act as a sounding board and have them just eyeball posts before they get published, so they can point out that the way something is worded may lead to misinterpretation etc.

At the end a blog is just a tool. You don’t stop using a tool because you have some troubles with it. You just get better at using it.

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Defending the inconsistency charge

January 19th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert and contrasts two statements from me:

My views are simple. No Government should censor the Internet.

and

”perfectly reasonable for programmes that NZ on Air fund to have small scheduling restrictions during politically sensitive periods.

While Clare obviously disagrees, I don’t regard my views as inconsistent. I don’t think the Government should censor the Internet and I also don’t think the Government (through NZ on Air) should be getting involved in election campaigns. I want the Government to butt out of using its huge resources to tell us who we should vote for.

I have no problem with “advocacy” documentaries. But if the taxpayer funds them, then of course it is sensible to have NZ on Air able to say “Avoid the four weeks before the election as we do not want NZ on Air to be seen as getting involved in an election”.

Think if NZ on Air had funded a documentary on how power prices almost doubled under Labour and how they reaped in $3 billion of dividends from state owned power companies so they could bribe the electorate with KiwiSaver subsidies, and a TV broadcaster showed it the Thursday night before the election? I can only imagine the howls of outrage, and the calls for the NZ on Air Board to be sacked.

Clare’s summary was:

So it’s ok to censor the broadcaster and use the government agency that funds it to restrict New Zealander’s access to well produced evidence-based documentaries that raise legitimate concerns about important issues facing the nation during an election campaign.

That was no evidence-based documentary. It got basic facts wrong. It was partisan advocacy.

Inconsistent. I don’t agree with the scheduling of many programmes on television. I certainly don’t think that politicians should be interferring in, when and if material can be shown on television during an election campaign.

I agree politicians should not get a say on when material is shown. Last thing I want. But the NZ on Air Board is independent from the Government, and if they fund a programme, it is not outrageous that they can say don’t broadcast this show we have funded three days before the election, as that calls into question our neutrality.

Now as many have pointed out, one of the board members is a National Party office holder. He is also a very experienced broadcaster himself with over 20 years experience.  One can have a legitimate view that no one with political affiliations should be appointed to the NZ on Air Board. If Labour wish to promise they will never appoint someone with Labour links to NZ on Air, then I would hope National would agree to do the same.

But regardless, the NZ on Air Board is more than one person. The Board is:

  • Neil Walter – Chair  (former MFAT Secretary)
  • Nicole Hoey
  • Michael Glading
  • Stephen McElrea
  • Caren Rangi
  • Ross McRobie

Yes Stephen has “political baggage”, but that doesn’t mean the Board as a whole is in anyway political. Worth remembering that they are the ones who actually approved the funding for the documentary.

Anyway the most interesting part of Clare’s post is not what she said in the post, but later on in the comments when someone asked why she was blogging on this issue. She said:

His comments on Radio NZ this morning with regard to censoring the broadcast media contradicts his comments on his blog with regard to the internet. I pointed that out. Hypocrisy is important to point out when one is a political commentator in the public eye as Farrar is, and when he is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

Well that is a fascinating view of what NZ on Air is for. Truly truly fascinating.

Incidentally Andrew Geddis at Pundit also is critical of what he has amusingly named the Farrar Rule. I won’t respond in detail to Andrew as I have a plane to catch, but he does mention how the Electoral Commission rejected complaints about the documentary.

It is worth pointing out that no matter what the substance of the TV programme was, it is exempt from being considered an election advertisement by virtues of S3A(2)(c)(ii) of the Electoral Act which exempts “the editorial content of a radio or television programme”. It may have issues under the Broadcasting Act however.

 

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Apology to Clare Curran

November 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

In the final week of the election campaign Labour MP Clare Curran blogged a picture drawn by a seven year old that asked John Key not to sell our treasures, fish and toys. I was critical of Clare’s decision to blog the picture, as were many of the commentators at Red Alert.

I have long held the view that children and politics are best kept apart, and never like seeing kids used in protest marches and the like. I stand by my criticism on that issue.

A couple of days later I had someone point out to me a photo on Facebook of some people in Dunedin waving Labour and Clare Curran hoardings at traffic. One of those waving a Clare Curran banner was a young girl, who looked around nine or ten.

With the previous issue fresh in my mind, I took this as evidence that Labour was happy to exploit children for political gain, and blogged the photo. In doing so, I made two mistakes.

The first mistake is that I assumed there was no legitimate reason for the young girl, to be out campaigning for Clare. I was wrong. There was an excellent and very positive reason for her to be doing so. It is not my role to specify what that is, but it was my error that I did not think of that possibility before I posted.

My second mistake is that regardless of what the reason was, I didn’t consider the impact on the young person of blogging their photo, and the comments it would attract. Yes, the photo was already public on Facebook, but I gave it more profile. Incidentally Tim Shiels (A Dunedin YN) also regrets publishing the photo. I deeply regret that my actions caused upset to the young girl concerned

In the heat of an election campaign, sometimes you over-react and get things wrong. This is one of those things I got wrong, and I do regret the impact it had on Clare and especially the young girl who was in the photo. They have my apologies, and I hope that next time in the same circumstances I’d do it differently, learning from my mistakes.

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The anti-Labour conspiracy grows

September 26th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged last week on how Trevor Mallard had joined the birthers and truthers with his bizarre conspiracy theory involving myself, Matthew Hooton, Bill English, the PSA and leftie academic Bryce Edwards.

Well as they say in x-files, Trevor is not alone in thinking the truth is out there. His colleague Clare Curran has weighed in alleging an even larger conspiracy. She tweeted:

@Whaleoil I think the point is that there’s a very cosy relationship between yourself, Farrar, Hooton, young Nats and the non-Labour left.

Clare has rumbled us. The conspiracy is not just Bryce Edwards. It is the entire non-Labour left. The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC) is in fact the Vast Right Wing and non-Labour Left Wing Conspiracy (VRWNLLWC).

We meet monthly in an undisclosed location. I can’t reveal the name of our chairman (think higher than Bill English), but the participants include Russel Norman, myself, Metiria Turei, Matt McCarten, Hone Harawira, Chris Trotter, the Young Nats, Laila Harre, Matthew Hooton, Sue Bradford, Cameron Slater, John Minto, Nicky Hager, Danyl McLauchlan, NZUSA, Bernard Hickey, the PSA, Matt Robson, the Sunday Star-Times and X (a deep cover agent who is posing as a Labour MP).

Imperator Fish also reveals how the conspiracy came to light:

The Dunedin academic community is in shock today, after respected political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards admitted he was on the payroll of a despicable cabal involving National Party ministers and corrupt public service unionists.

The revelation came after Dr Edwards broke down in tears during a Q&A interview with Paul Holmes.

On the show, Dr Edwards admitted that he owed his extravagant lifestyle to the enormous amounts of cash being funneled into his bank accounts from the National Party, via David Farrar and Matthew Hooton and their PSA allies. …

Dr Edwards admitted to Paul Holmes that the money for the arrangement arrived every morning from a PSA courier

“The money would come in these brown paper bags, together with a handwritten note with my instructions for the day. It was more money than I’d ever seen in my life,” a tearful Dr Edwards admitted.

“I would always a cut to James Meager. The deal was that he would do my dirty work, when I didn’t want my name associated with something. In return he got 30% of everything. The rest was my own.

“I spent up bigtime. Fast cars, boats, a chalet in the Swiss Alps, but still I had more money than I knew what to do with.

“I knew I was in over my head, but I couldn’t say no. Here was I, just some nerdy politics lecturer, and suddenly I had cash to spend and all the hottest women in Dunedin wanted to be with me.”

Imperator Fish continues:

Dr Edwards told Paul Holmes that he had tried to escape from the arrangement.

“I tried. I told my PSA minders that I’d had enough, and that I was sick of having to write whatever they told me. That was my biggest mistake. The next day David Farrar turned up on my doorstep. I still have nightmares about what he did to me.

“After than I never questioned my orders.”

Trevor Mallard said he was delighted to have uncovered such a ruthless and cynical assault on democracy in New Zealand.

“I knew I was onto something as soon as Edwards started to say unkind things about the Labour Party. That was his first mistake. I’ve always said that as bad as the National Party may be, the real enemy are the traitors on the left.

“I’ve learned to uncover these conspiracies, having read The Hollow Men back to back at least fifty times. If Bryce Edwards isn’t a secret Don Brash supporter, then I know nothing.”

Again I commend Trevor and Clare for unmasking the great VRWNLLWC.

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Labour to abolish termination as a copyright option

August 31st, 2011 at 10:53 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert:

If elected, we will introduce a Bill within 90 days to remove the termination clauses from the Copyright Act. Those clauses, which give the District Court the ability to impose account suspension as a remedy for infringing file sharing – can’t work in the long term.

This is a welcome policy from Labour. Congrats to Clare to have got Labour to change their position so radically. Three years ago the law was to require ISPs to terminate all repeat copyright infringers (based on accusation), and now it is to remove termination as an option.

This is a good example of the difference a dedicated spokesperson can make.

It is worth noting that the termination clauses are a “reserve” power at the moment, and can only be activated by Cabinet if they feel the current regime has failed to work. I don’t think it is likely they would ever be activated, but I certainly would much prefer the option is taken off the table – as Labour is proposing.

What this means, is that if a future National Government does ever try to activate the termination clause, it would be vigorously opposed by Labour as well as the Greens (and much of the community), which should reduce the chance of it happening also.

Labour will also undertake a review of the Copyright Act, with the aim of introducing a new Copyright Bill within 18 months that updates and extends the framework for digital copyright in New Zealand.

The first phase of the review will be to commission an independent analysis of the problems with the status quo from an eminent expert, such as the review Professor Hargreaves has recently conducted for the UK Prime Minister, and then consultation on a draft Bill before it is introduced.

New Zealand’s Copyright Act has been half-heartedly adapted for the Internet age.  Instead of more piece-meal reforms, we need to transform our digital intellectual property framework, to bring it into the 21st century and to promote innovation and growth in our economy

I’m supportive of this also. I hope any such review (if Labour do form Government) is what I would call a first principles review of copyright – asking what is the correct balance between economic protection and public use in today’s world. This is more than just asking how can we make the law better. I would see such a fundamental review as being more than an 18 month exercise.

The focus should also be on more than just digital copyright. We should also debate issues such as fair use vs fair dealing, protection for use for satire or parody etc. The debate should be about these basic issues, before we even get onto how then does it apply in the digital environment.

Overall though a very welcome announcement from Labour. Well done.

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How to win friends and influence people

August 23rd, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

What a train wreck. I hardly know where to start.

Labour MP Clare Curran first blogged:

Have had a gutsful of the white-anting of Labour from both the right and the left of politics.

Then a second blog post:

And on another note, re white-anting; the attempts by the Greens to encroach on Labour territory is also happening in Australia.

The comments flowed quick and fast. Gregor said:

Greens white-anting Labour?

Surely you mean, contesting the same constituency rather than ‘encroaching’, right?

You seriously think you have the unquestioning allegiance of my vote as a worker?

And Sacha:

Is it seriously Labour policy to attack the party’s MMP allies now?

Followed by Curious:

Go look up the definition of democracy Clare, political parties put forward policy to convince voters to vote for them. This isn’t white-anting.

And Me Too:

As a Green Party voter and life-long unionist I am staggered by the suggestion that Labour ‘owns’ the area of labour rights.

Waiting for the justified mocking in the Dim Post blog… Despairing of there ever being a Labour-led government in this country ever again…

Dim-Post has obliged. I’ll come to him later.

Then Idiot/Savant from No Right Turn:

The concept that some votes are Labour’s exclusive “territory” is a perfect example of what is wrong with Labour ATM.

Wake up. There is no Divine Right in democracy. Votes don’t “belong” to your party – you have to earn them. And if you can’t, if other people are doing a better ob of appealing to your traditional constituencies, then you have no-one to blame but yourself.

Chris M:

I’m voting for Greens this year because Labour has failed dismally at representing itself as a viable alternative to National. You’ve broken election advertising/campaigning laws repeatedly, put up what was apparently only the barest resistance to National passing ludicrously bad laws, and to put it simply Phil Goff is a non-entity in the realm of potential leadership.

Then Regan:

I’m just as peeved as the next person that we’re losing votes to the Greens,but I know that politics is a competition and as such Labour has to earn its votes. As a Labour Party member, to make such a blatantly uninformed comment is exactly the reason why we’re doing so poorly in the polls, because Labour MPs are arrogant enough to assume they “own” votes

And Chris Trotter weighs in:

Well, Clare, if Labour really wanted to test the Greens commitment to building (or should that be re-building?) a strong trade union movement, it could simply ask for the Green Party’s support in re-introducing an industrial relations system in which every worker was guaranteed the protection of union membership, including automatic inclusion, at the time of hiring, in an industry-wide agreement setting forth minimum wage-rates and conditions.

Try that one on them. Hell! Try it on your caucus colleagues!

Matthew Dentith:

Really? So the Greens are stealing your rightful votes, are they? I didn’t realise that when I switched away from voting Labour to voting Green that I was being stolen.

Now after this barrage of criticism, from Labour and Green party members and supporters, you might think a conciliatory note would be struck. Instead Curran rips into them:

Listen to you all. Go and knock on some bloody doors will you and stop pontificating. Get down to South Dunedin and see what it’s really like. Foodbanks are empty.
People are desperate.

Yes I am angry and it shows.

Idiot/Savant responds:

Yes, and its terrible. But if you want to do anything about it, you actually need to persuade people to vote for you. Instead, you’re just arrogantly demanding we do, like some medieval king ordering his peasants.

Aaron adds in:

I’ve been fence-sitting between Labour and the Greens for a number of years now and recently took the plunge to become a full member of the Green party. Posts like this show this was the right thing to do.

The Green Party should send Clare some chocolates to thank her for recruiting on their behalf. David comments:

Clare: I am a trustee of a charitable trust that has, this month, raised over $10,000 for those in extreme poverty. I also volunteer for my local Green candidate’s election campaign. So, how about instead of pulling out childish attacks on people who could well be your supporters, you rethink your silly and sanctimonious attack on an ally?

Debbie jumps in:

Way to go Clare, You were the last labour MP I still had any respect for & you write this!? You own me? I’m poor & have always voted Labour so I ‘must’ vote for you now? I can’t make up my own mind? Maybe my mind just isn’t up to the job.

Danyl at the Dim-Post has a post well reading, including screen shots from Twitter. He says:

So I’ll be voting for the Greens this election, as previously stated. I’d like to vote Labour again in 2014 – but it simply wouldn’t be ethical to cast a vote for a party this dysfunctional, so there will have to be a lot of changes before I can switch back.

And getting rid of MPs like Claire Curran will be a big part of that. I’ll be casting my electorate vote for Grant Robertson, because he’s a good MP – but if you live in an electorate like, oh say, Dunedin South I think the best thing you can do for the left is cast your party vote for Labour or the Greens, or whoever, but cast your electorate vote for the National candidate. It won’t impact on the outcome of the election (unless you live in Ohariu) but it will send a message to Labour that if they force poor quality MPs on us in safe seats then they face the risk of losing that seat.

For my 2c worth I’m not that surprised by the blog post. I’ve often observed that most in National think Labour are wrong, but do not think those on the left are evil. However many in Labour believe that those on the right are evil people motivated purely by self interest. The consequence of this, is that they believe that it is treasonous for anyone not to support them in their mission to get rid of the evil right wingers. So if someone from the left criticises Labour, they are seen as traitors.

UPDATE: Also some comments made at Dim Post worth highlighting:

Me Too:

Really, she used to work in PR? Who for – Adidas? Telecom?

Russell Brown:

This is a disastrous blurt from Curran, not so much with the voters at large but with the kind of people who actually might be inclined to put a shoulder to the wheel as she would wish. Gawd.

Max:

I have worked for (in a parliamentary capacity) and door knocked for Labour in the past. But this just makes me mad, and the reason why I will also most likely vote Green.

Newtown News:

This sort of shit makes me yearn for the good old days of David Benson-Pope MP

Danyl again:

What gets me is that Curran thinks that door-knocking in her own electorate is some selfless act of charity that she does out of the goodness of her heart, and makes her a worthy person. Door-knocking is public relations! She does it because she’s the MP for that electorate and she wants to get re-elected to her extremely well paid job! So using it as a pretext to claim the moral high-ground is really repulsive.

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Dissent will not be tolerated

August 9th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert:

The trolls who inhabit this site are on notice.

You have been tolerated for long enough. Your tactics are increasingly obvious. Real debate is encouraged on Red Alert, but not trolling.

You will be banned without notice.

Banned for life without notice. Sounds a great way to get rid of dissenting voices. Will they rename Red Alert, Pravda?

I was going to put this post up a few days ago. Instead I ran a poll. As a litmus test. The results are pretty clear. Of the people who comment, most are put off by the tone of many commenters.

The poll was hilarious. There was no option to say that there was already too much censorship of the blog. The only options were to agree with Clare that something must be done or a couple of neutral options, in the best traditions of the Ministry of Truth.

Even then, only 26% of readers said they think the comments are dominated by trolling right-wingers. That means 74% do not. Yet that is taken as an endorsement to ban dissenting opinions – now known as trolling.

I have sympathy when it comes to genuine trolls. But I have a very transparent system for dealing with them.

In the last couple of weeks the intensity of trolling by anonymous commenters on Red Alert has increased.

I’d say that is directly related to the increasing stupidity of the posts. If you don’t want to be drowned in critical comments, then stop Trevor doing his texts from John Key and stop trying to link John Key to the Iraq War through a PR firm. Even your own supporters groan at such puerile stuff.

 

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Great minds think alike

August 8th, 2011 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

I was just about to sit down and blog about Labour’s pitiful rip-off of Whale Oil’s Texts from Helen, where Trevor did Txts from JK. I wasn’t sure what was worse – that it was unoriginal, or that it wasn’t funny, or that a man near 60 is doing teenage text speak or that it doesn’t even “fit”. It is well known Helen is an inveterate texter and keeps in touch with many of her former colleagues. While John Key and Jenny Shipley were never even in Parliament together.

But I don’t have to blog all that, as John Hartevelt has done it for me at Stuff:

Sigh. Another day and the Labour Party takes yet another turn for the cringe-makingly desperate.

The party’s chief strategist, their sharpest political mind and the chap responsible for winning the election campaign has this morning come up with this rather lame attempt at humour.

Trevor Mallard’s theft of an overused and not terribly funny concept from a right-wing blogger is just a bit sad.

If it was an isolated example of an odd attack on the PM, it wouldn’t rate a mention.

But ever since the intellectual excitement and esprit de corps that accompanied Labour’s tax policy announcement died down a fortnight ago, a steady drip feed of rather juvenile stunts – many of them played out unthinkingly online – has been issued from a few in the Labour caucus.

Mallard and the Dunedin South MP Clare Curran are the chief mischief makers. A missive from Curran last week seemed to subtly encourage readers to make some sort of a link between John Key and the 1991 US invasion of Iraq, on the grounds that a PR company hired by Tourism NZ to secure a spot for Key on the Letterman show was the same firm that had been criticised for its role “as mastermind for the Kuwaiti campaign”. Good grief.

These have got so bad, that even on Red Alert Labour MPs are getting a pasting for such idiocy. The response is for Clare Curran to do a poll asking people if they agree that Red Alert should be moderated more tightly, with no option for people to say that the censorship there is already way over the top.

Normally you would count on the campaign manager, being the one to tell MPs who are making the party look like idiots, to pull their heads in. But when it is the campaign manager himself leading the charge, well you really do have problems.

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Detective Clare at work

August 3rd, 2011 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs:

The  public relations firm paid $10,000 to broker John Key’s appearance on the Letterman Show was Hill & Knowlton, the PR firm that became notorious for its involvement in the Kuwaiti embassy’s lobbying of congress to provoke a military response to the Iraq invasion back in 1991.

This involved creating an artificial scandal over Iraq troops murdering Kuwaiti babies in incubators, using the Kuwaiti ambassador’s family as stooges claiming to have witnessed these atrocities.

Congress bought it, and Hill & Knowlton was rewarded handsomely for their assistance in facilitating a military response.

Even Crosby Textor looks tame compared with these guys.

Boy that John Key is a real evil bastard. As Tourism NZ engaged Hill & Knowlton to work for them in the US, John Key is complicit in falsely claiming the murder of Kuwaiti babies in incubators.

This strategy is only slightly more subtle than Labour MP Stuart Nash, who tweeted yesterday:

Key is such a smug prick

It looks like Labour are planning a repeat of their 2008 campaign.

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Classic Dim Post

July 30th, 2011 at 12:12 pm by David Farrar

Danyl blogs:

Senior government Minister and key National Party campaign strategist Steven Joyce will be spotted to the Labour Party for the election campaign, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The surprise announcement comes after weeks of dire polling for the Labour Party, compounded by a series of public relations fiascos. Joyce is regarded as Key’s closest advisor, and National’s strategic mastermind.

‘This will make the 2011 General Election a fair fight instead of a somewhat undemocratic cake-walk,’ Key said in his Beehive Press Conference. He added that came to the decision after speaking with Joyce, who ‘loves a challenge.’

Heh.

Joyce will work closely with senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who is currently running Labour’s election campaign. Joyce has insisted that the two men will work together as equals.

‘Trevor’s role will be crucial to our success’ Joyce announced in a joint press conference with Labour leader Phil Goff. ‘In light of recent information security problems, Trevor will safeguard our campaign strategy documents in a tent on the Auckland Islands.’

The Auckland’s are an unpopulated sub-Antarctic island group with no phone or internet access. ‘Everything depends on this,’ Joyce insisted, as Mallard’s tiny orange dinghy sailed out from Invercargill into fearsome three meter swells.

Well they will be safer there, than backing them up to the webserver.

In the interests of party balance, Labour has traded Joyce for Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, and she’s believed to be behind the Prime Minister’s shock announcement that he will conduct the remainder of his campaign in virtual reality environment Second Life, and prefix every single word he speaks with the letter ‘i’.

The Prime Minister’s fairy-winger avatar commented on the new strategy when he addressed an online press conference of goblins, virtual journalists and the National Party Cosplay Association this afternoon.

‘iI imay ihave imade a ihuge imistake,’ Key said.

I love the phrase “the Prime Minister’s fairy-winger avatar” :-)

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Labour says law should not apply to them

July 26th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Damien O’Connor blogs at Red Alert:

I thought we lived in a free democracy. Since when did a sign become illegal when expressing an opinion or encouraging people to act? Does this ban all signs at marches that may in any way be linked to a movement or political party. The EC needs to pull their heads in. This is not the 1930s in Europe.

And Clare Curran chips in:

Hope the Electoral Commission is reading this. Is this what our democracy has come to?

I agree with you Damien

So Labour equate being forced to obey the electoral laws, as akin to Nazi Germany.  The sad thing is that they have got so used to being above the law, that they really do think it appalling that an independent agency will not kowtow to them. In fact the post is a barely veiled threat against the Electoral Commission.

What is especially ironic is that Damien voted for the Electoral Finance Act which would had far more restrictive laws, than the current Electoral Act.

Also in case people think Labour is right, and you can no longer wave a sign at a march – this is not the case. The only requirement is that the sign have an authorisation statement on it, if it can be considered an election advertisment. And this has in fact been the law for the last 15 years or so.

So what Damien is really complaining about is transparency. Transparency is what he compares to Nazi Germany.

As if one needed another reason why Labour is unfit for office, this is it.

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Labour on India FTA

July 4th, 2011 at 6:53 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

Labour has been accused of “trying to have it both ways” on free trade, after one of its MPs raised concerns over the outsourcing of labour to India.

On her Twitter account yesterday, Labour MP for Dunedin South, Clare Curran, posted the question: “Wonder what we’ll hand over. More labour outsourcing?” alongside a link to a media report on negotiations for a free trade agreement with India.

Labour leader Phil Goff last week said Labour supported an FTA with India.

As trade minister in 2007, Mr Goff launched a feasibility study for the deal, which he said at the time “would have significant economic benefit for New Zealand”.

“We went into it, we laid the foundation, and were supporting this government building on that foundation,” he said last week.

Ms Currankeep said she did not have concerns about an FTA with India and that her statement had been particularly in relation to the outsourcing of contracts to countries like India.

Oh dear. So Clare is saying she is against free trade, if it involves a contract.

We own Phil Goff and Helen Clark a debt, for keeping Labour away from going down the failed path of protectionism. The FTA with China is a huge credit to them.

My concern is once Goff goes. Labour have already started backsliding on issues such as monetary policy, and my fear is that post-Goff they will join the Greens as an anti-trade party.

I hope not, as trade should be as bi-partisan as possible – and largely has been for the last 20 years or so. But it obvious from Clare Curran’s comments she doesn’t in fact support free trade, and she would not be alone in the Labour caucus with that view. To be fair, I suspect there are a few protectionists in National also.

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Rugby jersies in Parliament

June 7th, 2011 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour MP Clare Curran has been kicked out of Parliament for wearing a Highlanders Super Rugby jersey.

Curran appeared at Parliamentary questions this afternoon wearing the team’s old blue, gold and maroon kit in protest at the new lime green colour.

Speaker Lockwood Smith declared the jersey violated Parliament’s strict dress codes and ordered Curran to leave.

Labour colleague Trevor Mallard protested the decision.

I would have thought a rugby jersey was a pretty obvious “no” in terms of meeting the House dress code.

Personally I think the dress code should be relaxed so men do not have to have a tie and jacket, but even I would hestitate to suggest that rugby jersies should be acceptable in the House.

Her ejection from Parliament highlighted the lack of rules around what women should wear in the House, she said.

“I certainly never expected to be thrown out of the House for being a woman wearing a football shirt. I think it was an over reaction.”

She said she was surprised and would consider whether she would change and return to Parliament this afternoon.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei left the House with Curran.

Turei later tweeted saying it was an example of sexism in Parliament continuing. “Has Ross Robertson ever been scolded for his sports team scarves let alone kicked out? No”

I hate it when people cry sexism mindlessly.  And this is mindless.

I have absolutely no doubt that a male MP would be kicked out by Lockwood for wearing a rugby jersey in the House.

If anything, the rules are sexist against men. The dress code for men is far more proscriptive than for women MPs.

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Labour on Trade Me

May 28th, 2011 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar

An interesting new initiative from Labour. To have one of their MPs go onto the Trade Me message boards and diss your own social media campaign.

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