Friday, March 27, 2015


Well, the unthinkable has happened.

New Zealand First has surged ahead in not one, not two, but ALL the polls!

While we here in NZF don't usually take much notice of polling (and why would we - they customarily *underrate* our support), there's something truly heartening about each of the Reid Research, Colmar Brunton, and National's own internal polling predicting a Win for Winston on Saturday.

Earlier this week, I said that this campaign marked the Turning of the Tide in the fight against National.

With this evening's news showing clips of John Key being booed on the previously blue-ribboned streets of Dargaville; while anecdotal reports circulate that Northland Nats are absolutely furious with John & Joyce's handling of the campaign ... it truly does seem that there's something magic in the air.

People from across the political spectrum - and New Zealanders from all walks of life - have come together up in Northland, and across the country. Whether #Nationalist or Labourite, Greenie or grandmother, and disaffected Nat or disillusioned blogger ... they have all united behind one man.

And while by this late point in the race, there's a certain teleological compulsion to view this coagulation as something of an inevitability ... as someone who's spent much of the last few weeks (if not the last few years) running about madly trying to persuade a diverse milieu of disparate perspectives to back my Leader, I can personally attest it's far harder to pull off than it looks.

As the late, great Terry Pratchett once said "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny ... Free men pull in all kinds of directions."

Ordinarily, that might be true. But in these exceptional circumstances, free men of all persuasions are choosing to push back in one direction and one direction only. Against National.

Against being taken for granted by a government which seems to regard democracy as a once-every-three-years checkbox formality rather than a genuine necessity for consultation. Against the arrogance implicit in National's selection of not one - but two dud candidates, on the assumption Northlanders would just blithely vote for them anyway.

And against the sort of party which sees infrastructure improvements as a pork-barrel bribe to be handed out in an electoral lolly-scramble the moment they fear they might be losing.

When Winston wins on Saturday night, it won't just be his finest hour. Nor, regrettably, will it singlehandedly sound the death-knell for this gangrenous government.

But it will be the start of something glorious. And a moment of sheer, unadulterated terror for the National Party.

To quote The Other Winston ... "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

In the mean-time, and for the next 48 hours ... we truly are ALL BEHIND YOU, WINSTON!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Oh wow! In case you missed it, there are reports circulating that Mark Osbourne presided over $700,000 worth of losses in his role as general manager of the Te Ahu centre.

I thought National was supposed to be the party of business expertise and financial competency?

Fourteen million dollars of ratepayer money went into funding the centre. Under Osbourne, it's lost five percent of that straight up. That's running-into-the-ground territory.

And what does Osbourne have to say for himself when asked to front up and explain to Northlanders whee their money's gone?

Apparently, that National candidates shouldn't be interviewed before by-elections.

Given his abominable performance on Q&A on Sunday, this gagging shouldn't come as any surprise.

But seriously. Between this and Mark Sabin's alleged offending (which by now pretty much everyone seems to know about one way or another), I'm left open-mouthed and asking the quite pertinent question ... with all these skeletons dancing out of each man's closet, WHO THE BLOODY HELL IS IN CHARGE OF THE VETTING PROCESS FOR NATIONAL'S NORTHLAND CANDIDATES?!

All of this is, of course, going to do absolutely no harm whatsoever to Winston's chances.

As a result, i'm in the hella-weird position of agreeing totally with Patrick Gower's analysis.

When "National [loses] this seat on Saturday, it will be the biggest political blow that John Key has suffered since he became leader of the National Party and in his whole time as Prime Minister."

So get out there and LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Winston Has National Running Scared

Every so often, a golden ray of hope breaks through the dark blue skies that overhang and overshadow our politics like a colossus.

It's taken six years, several scandals, and some seriously suspicious stuff from Sabin ... but we've finally managed the seemingly impossible, and gotten National running scared.

Well, I say "we". It's mostly down to the heroic efforts of one man - Winston Peters.

Right now, my news-feed on social media is alive with panic-stricken National party propaganda.

They've issued attack-images which attempt to turn Winston's extensive Parliamentary experience into a negative. (Because apparently they can't work out Northlanders might prefer to be represented by one of the most inveterate politicians around instead of a man whose greatest political experience thus far has been power-lifting Sabin into a seat.)

They've photoshopped pictures of Winston to try and make him look older rather than "elder statesman".

And the specter of three men on a bus rampaging around the electorate's obviously got them so incredibly spooked, they've started shipping up Young Nats from at least as far afield as Wellington to go and join the ground campaign.

That acrid scent you can smell hanging in the air isn't Northland's cannabis crop ... it's raw fear emanating from National.

And oh, how it reeks gloriously!

Not least because literally every dirty trick, underhanded play, or 11th hour effort at bridgebuilding with the electorate ... has backfired on them almost as horribly as National's decision to run Sabin again in 2014. (Leaving Osbourne flailing to explain "what didn't he know and when didn't he know it" about why he still backed Sabin despite the allegations circulating)

Key attempts to play Pontifex Maximus (that's "chief bridge-builder", for those of you playing at home). His candidate stuffs up on national television trying to name all the bridges; and almost every commentator in the country starts fulminating about "pork-barrel politics".

Key announces an unprecedented number of visits to the electorate, and cuts short his official state business in Japan to hit the campaign trail. Commentators note this indicates serious worries, and people start tut-tutting about how National neglects the serious business of government to concentrate on winning elections.

They deploy managerial magician Steven Joyce to personally handle the campaign and the candidate ... he winds up so patently stage-managing and directing Osbourne on Q&A that we're left with the inescapable impression that Osbourne's incapable of handling media without a minder.

The Young Nats release an idiotic attack image chronicling Winston's Parliamentary career thus far. Everybody who sees it gets the message that even his enemies must concede he's the most experienced candidate, and was able to hold an electorate seat for five terms straight (presumably by doing a quality job of serving said electorate as their local MP). Patrick Gower highlights its stupidity on The Nation. (Seriously, were the Young Nats tiki-touring Northland in Sean Topham's Toyota Camry when they came up with that one?)

And speaking of Young Nat blowback ... I can hardly think of a WORSE campaign outreach arm for Northland. When you're electioneering in one of the most economically deprived electorates in the country, the very last thing the average denizen of rural Northland presumably wants to see is some fresh-faced law/politics student formerly of Auckland Grammar.* Hopefully the combination of #TeamKey t-shirts on upper-middle-class-future-Yuppies reinforces to Northland voters exactly whose interests National presently exists to serve.

Most importantly of all, the obvious fear in National's collective five eyes at the prospect of Northland's Prodigious Son making yet another triumphant comeback marks, to my mind, the Turning of the Tide in our seven year struggle to overturn this rotten government.

At this moment, National are presently engaged in that well-known campaign strategy of "FIRE EVERYTHING" in the vain hopes that through sheer weight of numbers (or, possibly, dead-lifting), they'll be able to stop the Winston juggernaut.

Young Nats, Old Nats, Cabinet Ministers, The Deputy Prime Minister, Jami-Lee Ross, taxpayer-funded Crown Limousines to ferry them all in, and even repeated deployments of their deadliest weapon - the Prime Minister himself. It's truly an awesome gathering of political muscle and might for the explicit purpose of taking on three men on a bus. In fact, to reference The Other Winston ... I'm even tempted to suggest that never in the field of political conflict has so much been thrown by so many at so few.

When Winston wins on Saturday ... we shall truly be able to say "This Was His Finest Hour".

*Yes, technically speaking, I'm a BA/LLB student who went to Grammar ... but apart from noting my recent flirtation with facial hair renders me anything but "fresh-faced" - I'm *also* the guy who wound up waging a one-man guerilla war against the neoliberals in the Grammar economics department. It's different, OK?!
(In arguably the same way that comparing John Key to a present-day state-house-dweller would be).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fighting Foreign Corporate Control

One of the most pernicious parts to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, is the way it will let private corporations sue our government if we pass laws they don't like.

We've already seen how dangerous this can be for a nation's sovereignty thanks to numerous attempts at this offshore. So-called "investor-state disputes" have hit several Latin American states with literally BILLIONS of dollars worth of court-ordered payments to corporates; and proven that even things New Zealanders would regard as sacrosanct - such as our right to turn down mining companies from exploiting our heritage - can be turned into lucrative lawsuits that net payouts in the hundreds of millions of dollars to opportunistic foreign corporates.

Lest you think this is a problem confined to the Bolivarian Revolutionaries and Banana Republics* of South America ... even economic colossi like Canada have found themselves subject to lawsuits from offshore corporates. Closer to home, we've recently witnessed intricately dodgy maneuverings from cigarette companies like Philip Morris that allowed them to sue the Australian government over plain packaging laws for cigs.

If Anglosphere nations with incredible international clout such as Canada and Australia aren't immune to being bullied like this - what chance does little New Zealand have when taking on foreign conglomerates whose own GDPs are frequently massively larger than our own.

Hell, given the "roll out the red carpet" approach our National-led government's traditionally taken whenever an offshore company puts the screws on (you may remember that time NZ comprehensively re-wrote its labour laws after John Key personally got the hard word from Warner Brothers) - would we even BOTHER to fight?

Given the history, we here in New Zealand First believe that the protection of our economic national interest is TOO IMPORTANT to be left to the (ironically named) National Party.

That's why NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau has put forward a Private Member's Bill that will PROTECT our sovereignty by preventing foreign corporates from suing our government for "loss of profits" when we pass legislation that serves New Zealanders.

It's called the Fighting Foreign Corporate Control bill, and it's just been drawn from the ballot.

New Zealand's economy has been the plaything and cash-cow of foreign interests for too long. We are committed to restoring the balance and making sure that our laws work for our own enrichment. Not simply to line the pockets of offshore executives and shareholders.

We look forward to your support as we protect and save YOUR New Zealand. Help us to make sure the government gets the message and gives our bill a fair hearing.

*It's also worth having a think about the origin of the term "Banana Republic" to see just how bad these sorts of things can get. The best example for this is Guatemala. Way back in the mid-20th century, its economy was excessively reliant upon the production of bananas. This was the preserve of the American-based United Fruit Company, who was also the nation's largest single land-owner (holding a massive 42% of Guatemala's arable land). The way that UFC was able to effectively control the domestic politics of countries such as Guatemala in order to ensure its own economic interest was protected, gave rise to the term "Banana Republic". In 1952, newly elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz enacted a program of social and economic reform intended to considerably improved the lot of Guatemala's poor. One part of this program was the #Nationalization of unused land (with fair compensation) with a view to providing the "peon" class with independently held property and livelihood.

Arbenz proposed paying the UFC compensation equal to the value it had declared the land to be worth for tax purposes. The UFC got a bit incensed about this, because it had wildly undervalued the land so as to minimize how much tax it paid to Guatemala.

The end result was the 1954 corporate-backed overthrow of President Arbenz.

See what can happen when you let corporations erode your sovereignty?

Monday, March 16, 2015

We Live In A Country Where Mediaworks Is More Responsive To Petitions Than Politicians Are

Right. I'm going to get this off my chest: The X-Factor thing is banal. As in, the whole thing.

Although not the righteous outpouring of tens of thousands of New Zealanders being annoyed by what was said on the show, mind.

I happen to rather *like* the idea of masses of Kiwis coming together to *make things happen* and exert their will on a portion of the public sphere (and note with some amusement that everyone from Family First to Tony Veitch to scores of my progressive left-wing friends and colleagues are now apparently on the same side of an issue).

But apart from my own personal and habitual annoyance with that unholy trifecta of reality shows, "talent" shows, and mass enthusiasm for/engagement with same ... one thing really stands out to me about this whole imbroglio.*

It took less than 24 hours for New Zealanders to come together, have TENS OF THOUSANDS of people sign a petition, and get a decision-making body (in this case the producers of X-Factor) to bend to their will and axe the judges in question.

Now quite apart from noting it took MONTHS for people to collect the requisite number of signatures for something like the Stop Asset Sales petition, or any of the less official anti-TPPA/GCSB ones going around ...

... the really big difference here is that when faced with a broad and sweeping tide of public opinion, this privately owned media company didn't stall or try and claim that previous events mitigated the clear weight of public opinion being exercised (as National, for instance, tried to do when proffering a previous election result as justification for ignoring a referendum result on asset sales).

It got in there, and it did something.

I just WISH our Government was just as amenable to listening to the will of the people! As you might expect they'd sort-of have to, in a democracy.

The only evidence I've seen so far of National being in ANY WAY even VAGUELY as responsive to public opinion ... was their announcing ten new bridges pretty much as soon as they saw Winston was beating their Northland candidate in the polls.

You might disagree vehemently with New Zealand First's dual calls for the greater use of referendums, and provision for making binding the results of same  ... but I think we can ALL agree that the day a privately owned media company pushing a Simon Cowell Ego Buff is more responsive to the will of the people than our own elected officials, is evidence of something seriously, seriously wrong with the latter.

Demand BETTER of your government, New Zealand. Your power is not limited to purging pontificating pop-music pariahs.

*Ok, two things. As a man whose trademark appearance on camera is *also* appearing in a suit, with slicked-back hair (we call this #MtEdenVice) ... I'm PERSONALLY ANNOYED at the implication that I might be stealing a style from a man who appears to have plagarized Keith Moon's surname.