Pike River: not laissez-faire but lackadaisical

The Pike River commission’s report must, finally, represent the low-water mark of economic de-regulation in New Zealand.

A dictionary definition of “laissez-faire” gives two meanings:

  1. individualism the doctrine of unrestricted freedom in commerce, esp for private interests
  2. indifference or non-interference, esp in the affairs of others.

Read the section What Happened, in volume one of  the report of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy.  It difficult not to draw the conclusion that, in New Zealand’s deregulated and commercially-oriented economy, laissez-faire means not just indifference, but callous indifference, to the well-being and even the lives of others.

Rod Oram, in the Sunday Star-Times on 11 November, damns the “She’ll be right” culture that seemed to pervade the Pike River company, saying:

It wasn’t an anomaly. It will happen again. Deep in our psyche we believe improvisation is innovation. We believe cutting corners copes with complexities.

Rod’s opinion piece is a good read, and a damning indictment, but it doesn’t entirely get to the heart of the matter.

Over the last three decades, New Zealand’s ruling elites have developed a culture of indifference and unconcern – not just to workplace safety, but also to child poverty; to the integrity of the democratic system of government; to our economic future in the post-carbon age.

The term “lackadaisical now correctly describes New Zealand’s political and economic system. The proof of that is given in the Pike River tragedy; and in this government’s gutting of the ETS; and in the programme of road-building it has undertaken; and in the child poverty statistics.

And it is not just this National Party government that is to blame.  It is the cosy duopoly of National and Labour governments that have led us down this path, playing pass the parcel in parliament – both following a neo-liberal agenda, since the mid-1980’s.

The Pike River tragedy must serve as the nadir of neo-liberalism: the point at which we should turn away from those corrupt ideas, and start to restore and re-develop our public and private institutions.  Market systems are fine when they are effectively self-regulating: but the concept of self-regulation does not imply a lack of regulation.  Market mechanisms can, and must, be used if they do in fact serve the needs of society and all its members. In any other case society must, unapologetically and thoughtfully, regulate to serve its best interests.

The antonyms of lackadaisical include: active, careful, caring, energetic, enthusiastic, and hard-working.  These words are more than mere adjectives: they also describe values.  Values that should describe the Green Party in the public mind, and a Green Party government after the 2014 election.

Another Green Cross activist, another shoddy Police action.

I didn’t know Stephen McIntyre, my NORML friends are almost all local to Wellington where I have been living for some decades now.

I heard of his death when it happened, because he was known to some of my friends. We began our White Flag meeting in August with a minute’s silence in remembrance of his life and his activism.

Just recently, Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury has been doing a series of stories about what happened in the circumstances surrounding Stephen’s death by suicide.
This lead to an article in the NZ Herald, and a follow-up post by Bomber, in response to the Police acting Western Area Commander DI Karyn Malthus, quoted in the Herald piece.

There is more to come tomorrow, says Bomber. This is another case where IPCA has shown themselves to be neither Independent, nor adequately investigating complaints.

Sentencing Protest in Palmie in support of Billy McKee

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

Billy McKee is facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the plant. He is being sentenced 30th October at Palmerston North High Court.

So here’s the plan, we are arriving at Palmerston North High Court on 29th October by 4:00 pm for a public display of non-violent civil disobedience at 4:20 pm, we will then picket the courthouse until 8pm at which our overnight candlelight vigil will begin, devoted to Billy McKee and in solidarity with all medical cannabis users around NZ and the world.

From 10am on 30th October we will picket the courthouse and sit with him in the courtroom until he is sentenced and freed.

Everyone is encouraged to come along. We need to people to share this event and invite their friends, social media is a very powerful tool so let’s use it!

We are traveling from around the country to support Billy McKee, who is a medical cannabis user, amputee and director of GreenCross.org.nz

Recently Green party co-Leader Meteria Turei wrote a post on frogblog about Billy’s case – Billy McKee should be discharged.

GreenCross Court Case in Palmerston North

Billy McKee, who hosts the GreenCross NZ medical cannabis users website, was arrested in 2010 on charges relating to his medical cannabis use.

Billy campaigns for legalisation of cannabis, and considers that it is one of the best medications to deal with chronic pain.

Supporters from Invercargill to Auckland converged on Palmerston North on September 3, 2012 outside the District Court to stage a peaceful protest in support of Billy Mckee.

Billy lost a leg below the knee when a drunk driver deliberately rammed his motorbike over 30 years ago. The incident resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain from nerve damage to the stump as well as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The pain medications he was prescribed by doctors caused intolerable side effects where even driving was considered unsafe. He found that the only thing that controlled his pain, depression, irritability and other symptoms, while still allowing him to function, was cannabis.

This led him to study the medical benefits of cannabis, become a counsellor and form GreenCross, an organisation devoted to helping sick people obtain relief through the medicinal use of cannabis.

McKee now faces jail time for running GreenCross and helping sick patients obtain their medicine.

He was entrapped by an undercover police officer posing as someone suffering from severe migraines. McKee said that migraines can indicate in the early stages of brain tumors and many people have found that cannabis relieves the symptoms of migraines and allows them to function normally.

McKee accepted the young man as being a genuine sufferer. The undercover cop appealed to his compassion in asking Billy to supply him with cannabis. Billy says, “I was really worried about him.”

As a result of trying to help someone, Billy is now facing charges that could see him sent to prison for up to eight years. Prison terms have also been imposed on other medical cannabis users due to a law that lacks compassion.

McKee, who is going to a jury trial, is calling for jury nullification of the charges of the grounds they breach his human rights.

The case continues on Tuesday morning, beginning at 10.00am in Palmerston North District Court.

Update:

Tuesday’s Court hearings were mostly held in closed Court, due to Police undercover investigators testifying. Evidence was not completed by the close of day and the hearings were adjourned until Wednesday morning.

Wednesday saw the end of evidence production and summing up by the Crown prosecutor and defense. The Jury retired at 11am to consider the charges, and came out with verdicts at 2.25pm after breaking for lunch.
Billy McKee was convicted on five charges. Sentencing has been set down for Palmerston North District Court on the 30th October, 2012. Billy has been bailed to his home address while awaiting sentencing.

Save TV7, come to Back Benches and even a march on Parlie :-)

Haven’t updated y’all on the progress of Back Benches for a week or two, so here goes. COME ALONG TO SEE IT FILMED, IT RUNS OUT SOON!

Right, now I’ve got that off my chest, some cut’n’paste goodness and linky-love for you to play clicky with:
As you may have heard, the Back Bencher was damaged in a kitchen fire, so there’s been a lot of woe and dismay about the final three shows.
Last week’s episode was filmed in the Shepherd’s Arms in Tinakori Rd, just uphill & around the corner as it were, from BB. Notorious to a certain generation of VUW law students as the Western Park tavern, it’s now less of a booze barn and more of a heritage pub with a ‘southern’ twist. Once more, my trusty companions and I eschewed the brews for coffee and soft drinks, all the better to pay attention.
The acoustics are not great, as half the bar is incapable of seeing or hearing the set, thus talk amongst themselves. We had fun anyway, and Damian and Wallace soldiered on, attempting to get good soundbites from Nat MP Paul Goldsmith, Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove, our own lovely Julie-Anne Genter, and NZ First’s inimitable and intractable Richard Prosser.

This week, it’s the turn of Green MP Kevin Hague, Labour MP David Parker, New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and National MP Louise Upston, with topics on ACC, Asset Sales, and Gareth Morgan’s opinions. TVNZ blurb here. Once again, at the Shepherd’s Arms Tavern in Tinakori Rd, Thorndon, get in by 6pm if you want food, or 8pm if you just want a spot to stand. Filming starts at 9.05pm, live broadcast with help from the big techy truck parked outside.
Closest thing you can get to being an unpaid extra on a film set … no, wait, it is actually being an unpaid extra on a film set. Damn, shoulda checked that with the union!

Then for even more excitement, join the Save TV7 crew for a march through Wellington on Thursday 28th June, meet at Civic Square 12 noon and march to Parliament. More at their website www.savetvnz7.co.nz, where you can also find the petition – it’s still worth signing to save our only ‘TV for grown-ups’ channel in NZ.

Lifewise Big Sleepout event in Auckland

Quick plug for one of our Auckland MP’s, Denise Roche, who is going to participate in the Lifewise Big Sleepout, to raise funds for homeless accommodation and services.

The event happens on the 28th June in downtown Auckland, there’s more info and a pledge link at the Big Sleepout page.

This is the second year this event has occurred, and it’s even more needed as a fundraising mechanism than last year.

With social housing in Auckland having fallen victim to Key’s ‘flog it off to me mates’ programme to re-house wealthy Aucklanders near to St Heliers on the former State Housing estate at Glen Innes, there are a whole lot more newly homeless in Auckland’s already housing-stressed landscape.

Glenn Innes is a place I’ve stayed in, temporarily as a guest of Te Tii Marae in Glenn Innes; the last vestige of the former Tuuhoe land that was ceded to State Housing to provide for low income families moving from rural areas to the city in the 50’s and 60’s.
Perhaps John Key needs a history lesson from those who represent the interests of Treaty Settlements – if the State takes land from Iwi to procure state assets, surely it’s only polite to ask the original owners if they wish to re-purchase, before you sell it off to your property-speculating mates?

Asset Sales, CIR Referendum Petition, Keep Our Assets!

This has been a busy fortnight, and I’ve been ‘doing’ more than ‘writing’.

The second reading of the Bill to sell off our energy companies passed through last Thursday, there’s Hansard on it here if you want to find out who voted which way.

It has now moved through to the Third Reading; there was a scandalous one hour of Select Committee deliberation of submissions received before it was passed back to the House for the Second Reading debates. This is an abrogation of democratic process to a degree hitherto unequalled by this Parliament.

There are anti-sales protests happening all over the place, with Peter Dunne’s Ohariu electorate coming out in arms, placards and puppets.

There's even a puppet ...

There’s even a puppet …

People’s Power Ohariu‘s John Maynard has had quite a bit of media coverage in the past week, to the dismay of the PM, who is beginning to suggest that he may agree that the economy is tanking faster than his advisers told him it would, and that maybe we need the income from our assets more than we need to keep campaign promises to National Party backers.
Funny, Russel’s been saying that for months … and this, most recently.

Russel spoke at the protest last Thursday, and Gareth Hughes has also met with representatives of People’s Power when they first aired their placards and the new puppet (just after Dunne’s effigy in the Back Bencher pub was scorched by their unfortunate kitchen fire.)

Gareth Hughes at Parliament Rally

Gareth Hughes at Parliament Rally

There are bigger protests happening every few days, I recommend Thursday this week outside Parliament, from 12 noon. There’s even a FB event here, if you want to see how People’s Power roll currently.

Then, of course, there’s the Keep Our Assets Campaign, a coalition of interested groups including CTU, NZUSA, Labour, Greens, Grey Power, and many interested individuals.
These folk are collecting Citizen’s Initiated Referendum petition signatures, which I’ve mentioned before when it launched in May.
There will be KOA blitzes happening around the region, but may I draw your attention to one coming up this weekend in the eastern suburbs of Wellington.
FB event page here.

More about Back Benches, and a plug from the Green’s AGM.

I’m just a decade or so outside the boundaries for participation in the Young Greens, but due to my years as a mature, post-grad student at VUW, I know a lot of energetic young people who have gone places in the Greens’ networks.
I’d just like to give a plug for a speech by new Young Greens Co-Convenor Jackson Wood, which you can read here.

Back Benches is still rolling along, last week’s episode involved the sterling efforts of Kennedy Graham to prevent spin from clouding facts on International Relations – you can watch it here.

Coming up, this Wednesday the show goes on tour again, with an initial filming at the Britomart Country Club in downtown Auckland. See Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye perform on a panel with Green’s co-Leader Dr Russel Norman, Winston Peters from NZ First, and new Labour Leader David Shearer. This will be interesting, to put it mildly!
More details at TVNZ On-demand’s website.

There’s some Save TV7 action on!

The lovely folks running the campaign to Save TV7 have sent me an e-mail advising me of a bunch of things happening around the country.
I’ll paraphrase, but the important part is this, for Aucklanders – go to the public meeting at Freemans Bay Community Centre TONITE Tuesday 15th May, from 7-9pm.

Brian Edwards is moderating a discussion with Clare Curran, Julie Anne Genter, Andrew Williams, Joe Atkinson and the public. They’re still hoping a representative from the Government will join them as well to explain the policy of closing down New Zealand’s last Public Service TV channel.

If you live in Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Dunedin, or Hamilton, your turn is coming up, from 21st May in Welli thru to 13th June in Hamilton – see the Save TV7 site for more details.

The on-line petition is still going, with over 22,000 signatures as of Monday night. Still time for more supporters to sign, so get cracking!

The Save TV7 crew have been busy getting badges, t-shirts and stickers produced, so look out for those at the meetings, and show your support.

There’s also a crowd-sourced ad campaign coming up, a follow-on from the articles and interviews that have been published in various media, and the half-page ad in last Friday’s NZ Herald. Here’s the blurb verbatim:

And finally we’re asking our friends (that’s you) to send us photos of yourselves in striking poses for our future ad campaigns. We’d like shots that put you in context (however that might be) and also a little rant about why TVNZ 7 is important to you. We’ll be compiling lots of the photos into an ad to show the government that there are real people who’ll be affected by the closure of TVNZ 7. Send it to savetvnz7@gmail.com and note that by doing so you agree to have your photo put on the internet and in newspapers up and down the country. So remember to SMILE.

Finally, another plug for my favourite TV7 programme – Back Benches, filming again this week on Wednesday night at the Back Bencher pub in Molesworth St across from Parliament, be there from 8pm-ish to get a seat, or book yourselves a table from 6pm to have dinner before the show.

This week it’s Green Party MP Holly Walker, Labour MP Grant Robertson, National MP Colin King, and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin. Gutted I’m away and can’t be there to see this lot tackle the topics of bullying in schools and online, and the ramifications of new social welfare provisions aimed at beneficiary mothers and their children.
More details here.

Update:
The Auckland Meeting went off pretty well – media coverage including video here, by Granny Herald.

It’s been busy, so here’s a round-up!

I admit that my writing skills have been taking a back-seat as I have been doing a lot of running around lately.

The have been some excellent episodes of Back Benches, I’ve had a look at Court Report fronted by Linda Clark, and then there was that big Hikoi arriving in Wellington, and an ‘Aotearoa is not for sale’ march from Te Papa to Parliament, protesting against the proposed asset sales.

I made it to most of those, but due to other circumstances, won;’t be posting pix with this story. Meh, go search Facebook, there’ll be thousands of albums of pix of that march.

One more plug for TV7, and the episode of Back Benches airing this Wednesday 9th May. (If you’re in Welli, go down to the pub in Molesworth St, and join in, while you still can!)

Last week I went to my final episode, as I’m leaving town for a while. Wallace and Damian were very sweet about my apologies for not being able to attend the final show filming on 26th June; after letting me take a souvenir shot, they came back over a few minutes later and presented me with an impromptu gift.

So all those who have ever been even semi-regular – get down and watch the show, there will be goodies for people who have supported Back Benches over the years, and I’ll be sitting on the couch somewhere in Canterbury, looking to see what kind of bedlam ensues on the night.

So here’s this week’s line-up:
Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty, Labour MP Shane Jones, New Zealand First MP Brendan Horan and National MP Mark Mitchell.
There’s more info here.
Here’s Back Benches episode 11 from 26th April, and here’s episode 12 from last week, 2nd May.
And what the heck, here’s where to find Court Report.

There is a lot of talk about the Government’s plans to sell our remaining energy SOE’s. The Green Party are heavily opposed to this plan, and along with several other concerned groups, are collecting signatures this winter to petition the Government for a referendum on asset sales.
There’s a place to sign-up to help this campaign here, and an excellent frogblog post about it here.

That should be enough to keep you busy for a while 😉