Constitutional Advisory Panel

 

Apparently NZ is considering constitutional reform. Something you could easily not know about for all the government is doing to bury it.

If you are interested in amending the fundamental laws of the land, you could check out their website, which includes things like information on how to get involved, and their PDF summarising what they have done so far.

 

political thoughts from someone who would like a good country to come back to

 

I realise the cheek in posting something like this as I prepare to head off (and the extent to which this is an exercise in projection/lecturing myself.) But I love my country and I would like NZ to be worth coming back to. And National is, honestly, damaging this country, and its future, to an extent that is actually startling.

I’m not entirely sure what the hell National and Key believe in. It seems different from anything I value. At the least, the way they go about things horrifies me, seems actively ridiculous, and completely broken. (This is just what I can remember of the top of my head: Inheriting a country with a budget surplus, then cutting government revenue via tax cuts for the richest, then cutting social programs to pay for that, and doing nothing whatsoever to get us through the recession while stamping on the poor, while borrowing heavily and sinking us in debt, while opening us up to exploitation by big business and letting overseas governments determine our policy, and abusing democratic process to pass extreme laws without oversight under urgency, and failing miserably to handle the Christchurch recovery, or deal with climate change and our collective future responsibly (let alone respectably): a pretty pathetic performance really, from a government that in theory represents us, but instead services a broken ideology divorced from reality. Yet still John Key is popular? WTF?)

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Take a moment to feel the horror and rage you would feel over the next three years if National got re-elected and proceeded to brutally fuck the country even further.

Use this feeling as motivation to get involved actively in politics, now. Being pissed off and miserable for three years in which mostly what you can do is complain stinks. Being pissed of and active for a few months before the election is a far more useful expenditure of time and energy. This is what the structure of our democracy means.

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I think the Left in general doesn’t grasp that politics is war. (At least, it has only recently really dawned on me.) Assume for a moment that von Clausewitz got it right – “War is a continuation of policy by other means”.

The simple corollary is that regular politics is essentially war, with all that entails.

It is about fighting for what you want the world to be like. It is about doing whatever the hell it takes to win. It is about realising that the other guys realise this, and are not fucking around.

Recognising this does not mean becoming the enemy. But it does suggest that techniques may be borrowed and repurposed; and suggests the attitude that is appropriate – how seriously to take things.

What, to you, is worth fighting for? Because the other team is fighting for something else, something that sucks balls, and, right now, they are fighting better than us.

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I wonder how this government would cope with massive public protests against them during the rugby world cup?

On the world stage, with their domestic issues and failings highlighted. A cunning campaign could really put them on the spot. Targeted action. Leverage.

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There is a lot of muttering, a lot of energy around the interwebs, a lot of dissent. Shape it. Use it to do something good. Get involved.

Because, scary as it is, we are the responsible generation now. We look up and see the deadwood fucking shit up based on outdated ideologies – those who have lost it. We look down and see kids, and young adults who don’t know anything yet – those who don’t have it.

Look in the mirror. We’re the adults now. This is our watch.

100% pure vs 100% stupid

Govt confirms NZers will pay for any oil spill resulting from drilling offshore in deep water (
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1105/S00072/govt-confirms-nzers-will-pay-for-oil-spill.htm)

So, basically, what we are saying is, hi, foreign companies, come exploit our resources, and don’t worry if you fuck it up catastrophically, it’s sweet, we’ll cover your ass.

Not so much 100% pure, as 100% stupid.

Especially when you consider how unready we are to actually deal with an oil spill, as Jez shows with pictures so simple even John Key could grasp their meaning.

I guess this is what being blinded by ideology means.

list of laws National has passed under urgency this term

The Herald has posted a list of the laws National has passed under urgency in the first two years of this term. I have ranted about these as they happened – click the No Mercy For John Key category tab for more. And it has been around the blogosphere, but it is interesting that a conservative mainstream media venue is now voicing it.

This shit is sobering reading. A government which announced no policies pushing through laws based on an extreme right wing vision, without allowing any democratic process.

(Note this list doesn’t include the most recent batch, including the Copyright File Sharing one….)

Posting here mostly to have the list easily accessible for posterity.

Laws which passed under urgency without any select committee consideration between December 2008 (when National came into Government) and December 2010:

9-Dec-08: Bail Amendment Bill provided for bail to be denied if there was any risk of a defendant absconding, interfering with witnesses, or offending while on bail.

Article continues below

Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill implemented national standards in primary schools.

Employment Relations Amendment Bill introduced 90-day trial period for small companies and allowed bosses to consider KiwiSaver contributions when negotiating pay increases.

Sentencing (Offences Against Children) Amendment Bill required courts to take into account factors such as the defencelessness of victim, abuse of trust and attempts to hide the abuse when sentencing for child abuse or ill-treatment.

Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill introduced tax cuts, cut some aspects of Kiwisaver, including holding employer contribution levels at 2 per cent rather than increasing up to 4 per cent.

16-Dec-08

Energy (Fuels, Levies, And References) Biofuel Obligation Repeal Bill removed Labour’s requirement for an increasing proportion of petrol and diesel sales to be biofuels.

Electricity (Renewable Preference) Repeal Bill removed Labour’s 10-year ban on new fossil-fuelled thermal electricity generation.

17-Feb-09

Electoral Amendment Bill repealed Labour’s Electoral Finance Act and reinstated the old Electoral Act as an interim measure.

13-May-09

Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill was the first of three bills for the new Super City in Auckland. It provided for the end-date of the previous city councils, set up the Auckland Transition Agency to manage the change, and restricted the powers of the city councils until the new Auckland Council was born.

24-Nov-09

Corrections (Use of Court Cells) Amendment Bill allowed court cells to be used to house prisoners as a last resort.

Policing (Constable’s Oaths Validation) Amendment Bill was a technical bill to retrospectively validate the oaths of a swathe of police officers following a change in the swearing-in procedure.

30-Mar-10

Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Bill replaced Environment Canterbury’s elected council with government appointed commissioners until 2013. Gave powers to impose a moratorium on water and discharge permits.

Immigration Act 2009 Amendment Bill brought forward the date at which implementation work could start on changes from new Immigration Act, including set up of Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

28-Apr-2010 (Extraordinary Urgency)

Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Tobacco Products) Amendment Bill increased tobacco tax in three stages.

20-May-2010

Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill increased GST to 15 per cent and cut income taxes.

22-Jun-10

Civil Aviation (Cape Town Convention and Other Matters) Amendment Bill aligned NZ law with international Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (the Cape Town Convention).

Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill allowed police officers to run for local council and be councillors without having to leave the Police.

14-Sep-2010: (in extended sitting hours, rather than Urgency)

Canterbury Earthquake Response Bill gave government greater powers to deal with recovery after the September earthquake. Set up the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission.

28-Oct-2010

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill so-called Hobbit Bill – specified workers on film productions are independent contractors unless they specifically entered into an employment agreement.

Summary Proceedings Amendment Bill (No 2) made offences such as theft purely summary offences if the property involved was less than $500.

I would really like these guys to be voted out. Because voting them back in accepts and endorses this, and will free them for worse.

National Government opts to criminalise majority of its educated workforce

So, passing yet another law under urgency seems bad news, particularly a deeply unpopular one. Folks all over are talking about the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill , go read them. Heck, even Boing Boing is talking about how stupid this is.

A few brief observations:

The bill seems wildly out of step with the entire population < 50 years old, so it will be interesting if criminalising a huge sector of the voting public has much political blowback. Also, by making people’s actions criminal, it pushes them to adopt the behaviours of criminals.

For instance, use of a proxy server or other anonymised browsing (eg https://www.torproject.org/) service.

It also seems totally redundant since as soon as there is demand someone will cobble together an idiot friendly easy install protocol/package to circumvent the tracking, and it will spread virally.

Finally, I wonder if renewing the “3 strikes your internet is suspended” criteria may even be a pre-emptive strike to meet one of the requirements of the TPPA, the other IP shocker going through without enough oversight.

Copyright, IP, and creative production in the digital age are complex issues, which need addressing. Ignoring what the voting public thinks and slamming through laws under urgency, or negotiating behind closed doors, is not the way to go about it.

National and John Key: serving the rich, screwing the people.

You all should be reading the latest series of posts on No Right Turn about what National is doing economically.

Basically, their do-nothing policy of economic mismanagement means we have a recession and no money. They are blaming the earthquake for having to cut the budget of the tiny $800 million they had allotted for government spending, mostly on health and education, which will negatively effect the worst-off kiwis. However, with the other hand, they are still managing to pass laws which will give $500 million in tax cuts to the wealthiest New Zealanders.

Instead of having the poorest New Zealanders paying the cost of the earthquake, we could split the load more fairly via an earthquake levy. Of course, John Key won’t do that.

This government is consistently acting against the majority of its people.

Stark when pointed out.

thoughts on welfare reform

The earthquake has come at a convenient time for the National government, eclipsing the release of the Welfare Working Group’s report.

The proposed welfare reform is fundamentally about getting people actively looking for work. Collapsing all benefits into one “jobseekers” benefit, defined in essence by the criteria to be actively seeking work, punishing the long term unemployed, and those who have children (in quasi-eugenic policy).

This criteria, as demonstrated in In A Land of Plenty, is purely a piece of economic theory in action. An unemployed underclass actively looking for work keeps wages down, which, according to the dominant economic theory – the one that doesn’t work and has led to the ongoing global economic crisis – will keep inflation down, and if only inflation can be kept down, sunshine and bunnies will reign in the land. That is the whole of the faith.

Being forced to actively look for work, in this light, has nothing to do with actually getting a job that isn’t there. Jobseekers are the stick keeping wages down and workers willing to put up with crap conditions because at least they have a job. This is fine as a purely numeric theory if you disregard that actual humans are involved.

The proposed reform refuses to acknowledge the wider economic situation. Jobs aren’t there because the economy is broken. The government isn’t doing anything to create jobs. They have no ideas and no plan but sticking to a failed ideology that requires treating people like shit. The proposed welfare reform is like a game of musical chairs, except there are many thousands less chairs than players, and the losers get screwed.

Also, in the wake of the Christchurch disaster, there are going to be many people in our second biggest centre whose livelihoods are gone. Just in time to queue up for some dehumanisation.

Last word taken from Gordon Campbell’s summary:

In sum, welfare reform on this scale will not only punish and marginalise the poor – with all the health/law and order costs that will create in its wake. It will also present employers with a golden opportunity to permanently undercut the wages and conditions of all but the elite and skilled members of the New Zealand work force. Obviously, New Zealanders can vote for this package or reject it – but we need to very clear what sort of society we would be endorsing in November by supporting it. IMO, the welfare gulag envisaged by the WWG and (apparently) endorsed in large part by the Key government, is foreign to the country that most of us have known.

more National misGovernment

Today the National misGovernment announced they are sacking the democratically elected councillors of Environment Canterbury, replacing them with an appointed commission, presumably of bugfuck rightwing cronies if the first two members are anything to go by, and suspending local elections until 2013, because the issues are “too complex to be resolved in the democratic cycle”.

This is about water, which we have ranted about before. Control of water is going to be vital in the years to come. The wrong way to do this is privatise these assets. Solutions to the crises the world faces require cooperation, not competition or coercion. And control, for half of NZ’s water assets, has just been ripped out of public control, and given to an appointed commission with special powers – appointed by slick millionaires who don’t give a damn about our country (for instance, choosing to overturning conservation areas to allow mining), and whose preordained solution will probably involve privatisation, since their blind faith in a peculiar economic ideology prescribes that solution.

I don’t know the substance of the report that led to the sackings; maybe there is good reason for the move, and maybe we will see a sane responsible outcome. I doubt it.

A year or so ago I described life under a National government unleashing its never-announced policies by ramming laws through under urgency in these terms:

It’s like discovering that not only is your mild-mannered, freshly pressed date a rapist who has already drugged you, but that they’re really into stabbing you in the kidneys with a rusty corkscrew while they ream your ass.

Ain’t no fun to be right about this.

Now I am wondering how much damage this government can do to this country and its future…

The mining protest was interesting today. An actual issue of identity at stake. The first time Phil Goff has seemed remotely like a leader. General open talk of direct action to stop the bulldozers as a normal course of events.

Fuck this government.

john key’s a donkey

With the mining conservation areas, beneficiary bashing redux, slashing the public sector, and general awfulness of National rearing its head again in their window before election season begins (on top of the ETS farce, and all the shit they already did under urgency), we of the dancing moose gently draw your attention once again to the John Key’s A Donkey sessions by Tinekaamos.

Link them around if they amuse you. Maybe it will help. They are kind of shit in a choice way; or maybe choice in a shit way. And I honestly don’t think he deserves better. Maybe they are better pitched to the current climate than 16 months or so ago back when they were recorded.

I am vaguely tempted to get them out as a grimy free EP. Though the set is sadly incomplete. I had been planning a riff on Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon, with the refrain being “all we are saying is John Key’s an ass.”, but I lost my recording setup before that happened.

Y’know, it wouldn’t take much to knock up the lyrics. If anyone currently has a recording set up, or wants to be part of gang vocals for that should the chance arise, let me know ;)

Make a submission on the Climate Change Response Bill

The Climate Change Response (Moderated Emissions Trading) Amendment Bill 85-1 (2009) is about to go into select committee. Submissions to the select committee are due by Oct 13.

Under National, the bill effectively seems to involve the public subsidising polluters to the tune of $2 billion/year until 2030, and not doing much that is effective about climate change. This is pretty shit, really, and worth opposing.

Thus it seems well worth every environment/sanity/survival of the species inclined person in the country to submit to this select committee. IN our legal and government system, submissions to the select committee are probably, pound for pound, the most relevant and effective political action one can take.

You can download the bill here.

You can make an online submission here. This is pretty darn easy.

Advice on making submissions is here.

If you want some ideas about what specific things to say, here is one example, and the greens have some ideas here. On the whole it would probably be better if it was put in your own words rather than cut’n'paste, though.

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