GCSB, protesting and the internetz.

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.



So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.



I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 



Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.


Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.



What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.



The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Bradley Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.


This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

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.

C’mon down to Back Benches!

Yep, it’s Wednesday again, and so there is another opportunity to be entertained and informed, whilst supping a beverage of one’s own choosing, by the inimitable Wallace and Damian. (not to be confused with Wallace and Gromit)

This week’s show has Green Party Co-Leader Dr. Russel Norman, Labour MP Dr. Megan Woods, National MP Scott Simpson, and New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke.

Topics include performance pay for teachers, and astronomical pay figures for public sector CEO’s .. are they worth it?

C’mon down, June is looming and we need to enjoy as much of this as we can before TVNZ’s overpaid CEO’s put a stop to it ….
Save TV7 petition here.

Update:
That was a very entertaining evening. Russel Norman was very well on form, and there was a huge support crew of Green staff, members and YG’s. Have a looky here for the episode, at TVNZ’s On-demand website. Worth looking at what else TV7 produces, if I may say so, since it’s about the only intelligent programming for grown-ups available in NZ free-to-air.

Wallace looking suitably chuffed at the end of the show!

Wallace looking suitably chuffed at the end of the show!

The pub was as packed as I’ve seen it for a while (possibly since the last of the pre-election shows), and as Wellington had turned on a beautiful day, I suspect happy, well-sunned students were a large factor in the increased attendance. Oh, and that about half the audience was there to cheer Russ on!
There was a marked absence of the student wings of ACT, Young Nat’s, or even Young Labour, which was rather a surprise.

Transport policy launch – Get on the bus for light rail!

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

Today’s Wellington launch of the ‘Green is for go’ transport policy saw a bus full of Green Party volunteers, candidates and MP’s touring the route of the proposed light rail link from Wellington Bus Station, stopping outside Kirkcaldie & Stains department store, then through to Courtney Place and on to Wellington Hospital in Newtown.

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

At each stop, there was an opportunity for media to catch interviews with the candidates and MP’s, and for volunteers to hand out leaflets detailing the new transport policy to passersby. You can read the gist of the transport plan here, and read MP Gareth Hughes’ press release here.

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

While the bus was in transit, the passengers heard from MP Gareth Hughes (Ohariu) and candidates Holly Walker (Hutt South), Zach Dorner (YG ‘Victoria University candidate’), Jan Logie (Mana), Tāne Woodley (Rimutaka), and our own James Shaw (Wellington Central). Each spoke about the public transport challenges faced by their respective electorates, and the value of added funding for buses, trains and light rail. Jan Logie spoke of the enormous community opposition to the Kapiti Expressway, which has galvanised local residents, and James Shaw took his stand just as the bus rounded basin reserve, describing the extent to which the proposed flyover would overshadow the historic Basin cricket grounds, as well as cutting off Newtown, Berhampore and Island Bay access into the Te Aro/CBD area.

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

‘Left Further Behind’ report launched by CPAG

Rahui Katene, Maamari Stephens and Anne Else after the launch

Rahui Katene, Mamari Stephens and Anne Else after the launch

Child Poverty Action Group launched their latest research report Left Further Behind last night, concurrently in Auckland and Wellington. I attended the Wellington launch, so my comments are specifically about the presenters there. I’m sure someone else will write about the Auckland Launch, I’ll link to that when I find it.

The launch was held at the Salmond Room of the Scool of Law, VUW, in Lambton Quay. For those, like myself, who got there after the 6pm internal door lockdown, it was a frustrating experience trying to locate a door into the building that actually got to the area where the launch was being held – not a failure on CPAG’s part, I might add, but on the part of a Faculty that is happy enough to book rooms to outside organisations, but then does not provide adequate access for those unfamiliar with the building. I had to ask a Law Librarian to swipe me through one set of doors, then climbed stairs and discovered that even those who work in the building can’t swipe through into some sectors, necessitating a trawl back down three floors to find a point of access to the back wing of the building, trailing those I’d met along the way.

Consequently, I arrived mid-way through Anne Elses’ opening speech, which drew heavily on facts and figures from the report. Here’s one phrase I will quote in its entirety:

The core message is very simple: ALL children, irrespective of the status and position of their parents or carers, are entitled to the best possible support from their parents and from the whole of New Zealand society. Together we share responsibility for ensuring that children are given that support.

She spoke about the popular notion that ‘relative poverty’ is not such a bad thing as ‘absolute poverty’, which we have seen much of in the media lately; well, those journalists who will blather on about there being no real poverty in NZ just haven’t bothered to do their research, or even to drive down the motorway into South Auckland and take a look firsthand – Middlemore Hospital is a great place to start, although Starship Hospital in central Auckland would have a decent whack of South Auckland children on any given day of the week, too.

One more quote from Anne:

Now here’s the really important part. The discussion in this report demonstrates that child poverty is not inevitable. It is the avoidable consequence of badly designed or inadequately considered policy.

Let me repeat that. Child Poverty is not inevitable. It is the avoidable consequence of badly designed or inadequately considered policy.

Mamari Stephens, a Lecturer in the School of Law, followed Anne, speaking with determination about the chapter she contributed to on The Whaanau Ora approach.
It was a very interesting commentary from someone who teaches welfare law, and admitted that she herself was daunted by the task of reviewing the programme’s implementation trials.
She concluded by saying that she considered that Whaanau Ora hadn’t done much for reducing benefit reliance (one of the key policy objectives), but that the trials did appear to show low income households making an improvement to their ability to cope on fixed low incomes.
Without an increase in jobs available, moving off benefits is problematic, to say the least.

We then heard from Lucie Trask, a final-year Law student, and a member of the Wellington Community Justice Project, who contributed to the chapter on Youth and Unemployment.
The group of law students contributing to this part of the research were present at the launch, and caucused together afterwards – it was great to see such keen young minds focused on this issue.
In her speech, Lucie quoted the figures for youth unemployment – 1 in 5 under 25 years is currently unemployed, a fact John Key does not acknowledge when claiming our statistics for unemployment are such a lot better than North American or European figures.
It gets worse when broken down by ethnicity and socio-demographic location, as the report shows.

Finally, our MC for the evening, Dr Nikki Turner, spoke about the chapter on Child Health and Poverty. This included some very grim facts for those who understood the epidemiological areas she discussed, and was sufficient to remind me of moments in the lives of my own children when access to medical care was precarious – although, being white, educated and slightly better housed when I was on the DPB, my children were not at great peril; not like the pre-schoolers who are admitted each winter to hospitals in Auckland with bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and other infectious conditions that become severe due to the cost or unavailability of access to a GP early in the illness. The figures for maaori and pasifika children are again much worse than those for paakeha children in the same demographic.

There was a brief question time before we broke for refreshments; Labour Deputy Annette King spoke briefly, as did the Green’s co-leader Russel Norman and the Maaori Party’s Rahui Katene in return, completing the round-up of influences at play on the night.
I did spot Brian Easton, whom I was not exactly surprised to see there, but I must say pleased to notice; and our hard-working new Wellington Central candidate James Shaw was also in evidence, networking afterwards with a policy analyst who shall remain nameless, as I went around catching up with my connections from the now-defunct Gender and Women’s Studies School, who were out in force to support CPAG on the night.

Turkey closes border to New Zealand economic migrants

23 October 2014

The Turkish government today moved to clamp down on the influx of economic migrants from New Zealand.

In a statement today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “Turkey has had enough of New Zealanders coming here to take advantage of our liberal tax regime.  What started as a trickle of economic migrants when New Zealand introduced a Capital Gains Tax last year has become a tsunami”.

Turkey remains the only OECD nation that does not have a tax on capital gains, following New Zealand and Switzerland introducing capital gains taxes last year.

The Turkish Prime Minister said “We cannot afford to have these people coming here from New Zealand pretending to be refugees, when they are really economic migrants.  Many have destroyed their passports on the aircraft, so we cannot check thoroughly into their backgrounds.  But immigration interviews inevitably reveal that while they may bring considerable wealth with them, they have no interest in contributing to the Turkish economy or society.  Their only interest is personal self-aggrandisement.  They are bludgers on our nation, and we do not want them here.

Dr Russel Norman,  Associate Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in New Zealand’s  Green-Labour coalition government, has today formally apologised to the Turkish government for the difficulties New Zealand tax policy has caused Turkey.

“Ever since the neo-liberal reforms Sir Roger Douglas implemented in the 1980s, we have had an underclass of bludgers in New Zealand,” Dr Norman said.  They are people with immense wealth, but who refuse to contribute to New Zealand’s economic well-being.  I am truly sorry that what was our problem has now become a problem for Turkey.”

Dr Norman said that New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Kennedy Graham, would be discussing with his Turkish counterpart how best to address the issue.  “But, frankly, we don’t want these bludgers back unless they are prepared to contribute to New Zealand,” Dr Norman said.

The relationship between the Green Party and the Mana Party

I hope both the Green and Mana Parties in future focus their attacks on the policies of those Parties (ie National and ACT) which threaten the commitment to environmental sustainability and social justice we hold in common.

The Greens and Mana are very close in their political objectives (based on Green policy and what Hone Harawira has said, because Mana have obviously not yet had time yet to engage in a process to develop detailed policy).

I don’t think Sue Bradford’s comments on Pundit (although I share her analysis on the Green support for Labour’s Emissions Trading Scheme) are helpful towards building the obvious political alliance between the Greens and Mana. Nor were Russel Norman’s comments attempting paint the Mana Party as fighting battles of the past.

The Greens and Mana are natural allies, with little difference in policy. What’s more, the two parties appeal to different demographics. Mana is never going to get significant support in Rongotai, Auckland Central, Dunedin North, or Wellington Central where the Greens do well.

But the Greens are never going to pick up a substantial party vote in Te Tai Tokerau, Mangere, Waiariki, or Manurewa – where Mana may do very well.

We are parties with very similar policies, but can appeal to very different demographics.

The Greens and Mana can complement each other, and work towards implementing the many policy goals we share. With neither Party achieving over 10% in the polls, at least for now, attacking each other is not a strategically sensible option.

Guardian exposes NZ shame

So how many times have you been sent a link to this article:

Some countries with big emissions growth started from a low figure in 1990. Arguably, they were playing catchup. There is no such excuse for New Zealand. Its emissions started high and went higher…

Where do all these emissions come from? New Zealand turns out to be mining ever more filthy brown coal to burn in its power stations. It has the world’s third highest rate of car ownership. And, with more cows than people, the country’s increasingly intensive agricultural sector is responsible for approaching half the greenhouse gas emissions.

Fred Pearce’s Guardian article has arrived in my inbox several time already today.  So, even if nobody else, my overseas acquaintances are reading it, and rapidly changing their opinion on New Zealand. As Russel Norman says it’s a massive economic risk:

“Brand New Zealand” is one of our greatest assets, and we’re rightly proud of our international reputation for being a small but effective country that punches above its weight in the international arena. But if we are going to add our environmental image to that brand, it needs to be authentic, and it needs to stand up to scrutiny.

And as No Right Turn notes any reason that gets people taking notice and doing something is good – whether it is losing money or the even bigger picture.

Personally I don’t think New Zealanders are engaged in the level of spin or hagiography that Pearce alleges. Most do genuinely believe in protecting and celebrating New Zealand’s environment. But we have failed for decades now to convert those personal beliefs into political action. Our failure to turn our personal believes into public political action allows ministers like Tim Groser and Nick Smith to get away with this sort of game playing. It’s an embarrassment, a very public one.