BIG NEWS: 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No one will own the seabed and foreshore

The Gisborne Herald has reported that the Government has proposed that, instead of identifying an owner of the foreshore and seabed, new legislation would provide that no one owns, or can own, the foreshore and seabed. This area would be called a public domain, which should greatly please Peter Dunne. The proposal would recognise New Zealanders' rights and interests rather than being concerned with ownership.

Coastal Maori will be able to go to court or negotiate with government to have customary title and rights recognised if new government proposals are adopted. More here

NB discussion document is here and here [PDF]

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Work testing beneficiaries

Danyl at Dim Post thinks it is patently moronic to start work-testing beneficiaries and suspending their incomes for non-compliance when there aren’t any jobs around for them to apply for.

There are plenty of jobs to apply for. The problem is that most are unsuitable for many unemployed people and also that more people are applying for each job, making interviews harder to get. If you apply for a job you won't be work tested - even if it is a job that you are not likely to get an interview for.

What should happen (if Work and Income does its job) prior to work testing is that that those who have little money in the bank could be told that if they have confirmation of a job interview, they can get up to $300 for free to buy clothes for the interview. For guys, at the moment at Hallensteins, I think, that`ll get you a suit, an extra pair of trousers, a business shirt, and a tie.

They then have some decent clothes for job interviews.

Who knew that?

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Scaremongering

I think some bloggers are scaremongering about National's benefit policy. Some are implying that loads on the dpb will be worktested off benefits and the system is harsh and the government is uncaring. I don't for a moment think the system is harsh. In reality I don't think people on the dole will be worktested off benefits any more than is currently happening.

It is not exactly happening to thousands at the moment. And I`ll be surprised if any person on any benefit who is meeting their obligations as a beneficiary is worktested off a benefit. And if you are not meeting your obligations, you simply don't deserve a benefit.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Electoral referendum bill

The Electoral Referendum Bill was introduced today, and provides for a referendum on MMP. Should 50% of voters choose MMP, MMP will be reviewed. Specifically:

- the 5% threshold for a party to obtain list seats:
- the overhang, namely the increase in the number of seats in Parliament that occurs if a party's constituency candidates win more seats than the party would be entitled to as a result of the party vote:
- dual candidacy, namely the capacity of a person to be both a constituency candidate and a list candidate, and for a list member of Parliament to seek election in a by-election:
- a party's ability to determine the order of candidates on its party list and the inability of voters to rank list candidates in order of preference:
- the effect of population change on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats and the maintenance of proportionality:

But not the Māori seats or the number of MPs.

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Oh, so that’s okay, then

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett knew that her social welfare reforms breached the Bill of Rights. Chris Finlayson outlined the substantive matters in a report [PDF].Why exempt a class of beneficiaries who – by definition – are no longer looking after children from work testing, while demanding it of DPB recipients who are still looking after children?

Bennett's response to that report? So what – most people wouldn’t be bothered by it.
I think that is a discrimination that most New Zealanders will see as being fair and reasonable.
So much for the Bill of Rights, then. We have a senior minister who thinks that unjustified breaches of the Bill of Rights are fine, provided she thinks that most people are not bothered by them. As someone who holds the Bill of Rights in high regard, I find that stance disappointing. It is a Bill of Rights, but treated as a bill of suggestions.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Otago University students' association sale

Otago University Students' Association is for sale on Trade Me. Get in quick! Also included in the sale is a student executive and wider network that represents and advocates for students to the University, wider Dunedin community, Government and national media. A student general meeting will ratify the sale.

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Welfare reform

The Prime Minster has announced some benefit reforms to ensure that the benefit is a safety net, not a lifestyle – and to get people back to work as soon as possible, even if it is only part time.

The reforms:

As expected, beneficiaries will be able to earn $100.00 each week without benefit abatement – up from $80.00. Unemployment beneficiaries will have to reapply for their benefit if they receive that benefit for a year – affecting up to 16% of those on the dole.

Those on the sickness benefit will have medical certificates, in the first two instances, for four weeks only, and along with those on the DPB whose youngest child is six or more will have part-time work obligations. Which, as you can see may not be the best idea, particularly in the school holidays when childcare will cost more than the work itself. Furthermore if they don’t comply they’ll be work tested. Currently a beneficiary who doesn’t meet the work test can have their benefit suspended, then cancelled. The difference with the current work testing is that beneficiaries can lose half their benefit immediately if they don’t comply – and if they still don’t comply the benefit will be cancelled. The exception is if they have kids – the maximum reduction will be half the benefit and they`ll always be able to keep their full accommodation supplement and any other add-ons.

In other words, those on the DPB with, say two kids, will always be receiving way more than half the minimum wage even with the maximum work test – and if they earn $100 a week they`ll get $416.00 a week – that’s $13.80 per hour for a 30 hour week. On 1 April that will increase further. John Key's cleaner doesn't even get $13.80 an hour - and she's just got a pay rise.

Apparently those on the invalids benefit who can work part-time will instead receive a sickness benefit. This is not reform – that is current policy.

This whole thing is to cost $88 million over four years. That's $60,272 a day,or the cost of paying the benefit for 1385 people. It`ll cost nothing extra to work test every eligible beneficiary after six months of continuously receiving a benefit and is much better than making people reapply for a benefit after a year. The $88m can instead be channeled into getting people jobs.

Beneficiaries are expected to work if the work is there. If it is not there, worktesting and work obligations are merely windowdressing, and can be punitive for no reason if letters are sent out to incorrect addresses and benefits suspended or reduced – as will no doubt happen.

I’ll be surprised if this reform will change the rate that beneficiaries find meaningful full-time work.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Ear-flick" man to appeal his conviction today

Remember Jimmy Mason? He was convicted for assaulting his son and appeared on TV to tell his story.

Well, he is back in court today to appeal his conviction and is representing himself. His defence appears to be that the police lied.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Will the Waihopai Three be arrested again?

Crown Law has released this statement and is looking at an appeal with regard to the judge's decision to allow the claim of right defence used by the Waihopai Three. It can do this under s 380 of the Crimes Act, provided the reservation is to do with a question of law.

If Crown Law pursues appeal, even though it could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that thee men did not honestly believe they were entitled to attack the spybase, the three acquitted men will have to be arrested again.I find it difficult to understand how a successful case could be made after this acquittal. Any legal beagles out there that would like to comment on this?

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The claim of right defence

It is fair to say that some people are astounded that the three men that attacked the Waihopai spybase were acquitted yesterday.

The "claim of right" defence ( as per s269(2) of the Crimes Act) was the key to this trial and the jury accepted that this defence is valid. Graeme Edgeler has illustrated what this defence is in what I think is a very accessible example. I'm sure he won't mind me repeating it here, and I'm sure he will agree that this example does not necessarily mean that he condones the actions of the Waihopai three. Not saying I necessarily condone it either, but the defence is available.

The "claim of right" defence is to do with property. You don't have to think you own something to rely on claim of right, you just need to think you have some right to do what you’re doing with the property. So here goes...
You come across a car with all the windows closed on a really hot day, it’s obviously really hot in the car, you look in the car and see a dog that has passed out from the heat. You yell out and no-one owns up to owning the car, you break the window to provide help to the dog, and find that it’s actually a dead dog that has been stuffed.

Do you own the car? No. Do you believe you own the car? No. Was your damaging the car necessary for some greater purpose, like saving an animal’s life? No. But you believed you were justified in damaging the car for some greater purpose. You have a claim of right.
BTW this case does not set a legal precedent, because the jury made a decision on the facts of the case, as opposed to a decision made by a judge. Nor does it mean that you have a right to kill someone because you think you are justified in doing so for some greater purpose.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spybase accused found not guilty

Excellent St Patrick's Day news - a not guilty verdict after two hours in the Waihopai spybase trial. Verdict came out at 5:45 when I was out. Story from Stuff is here.Ploughshares media release is here.

The trio, associated with the Ploughshares movement, readily admitted attacking the Waihopai spybase, but said they were driven by a belief that the satellite caused human suffering and their actions to shut it down, if only temporarily, were lawful. While I haven't seen a report of the summing up, it appeared the defence of a "claim of right" held. In other words, if the men believed they were acting lawfully, even if they were mistaken in that belief, this will lead to an acquittal.

If you think the Crown will appeal - not a chance there's a slim chance - but there's probably more chance of these guys popping the other dome at Waihopai spybase, which is unlikely as the point has been made..

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The Chauvel story

The Charles Chauvel “airplane and kids” story everyone is talking and blogging about was news. It wasn’t very important news, but news nonetheless. And it is a story that is a lot easier to write than a story on Genesis announcing a rise in electricity prices this week, or the economic implications of a GST increase.

But had Chauvel reacted a little differently the story could have been killed. He didn’t need to talk about an ACT party blogger who initially blogged the story. (The blogger concerned is not an ACT member – but he does live in Chauvel’s electorate.)

Chauvel doesn’t owe anything to his electorate – he is a list MP. He may lose votes at the next election because of this as people will recall this story. Peter Dunne – who Chauvel is trying to unseat – is the holder of the parliamentary seat that has the lowest proportion of the electorate vote nationwide. I’m sure Peter Dunne and Katrina Shanks both think this story is great.

What the story in the media didn’t tell us was how loud the kids were. All we know is it wasn’t as loud as the plane engines. At least the kids weren’t smacked for their loudness – imagine what Chauvel would have told the media then, even if the smack was to have shut the kids up.

I trust Chauvel is not traveling on Labour's " axe the tax" bus anytime soon - he`d hate the noise of all the singing.

Chauvel was on Breakfast this morning and was accused of lying by Paul Henry. About the comments wishing the kids would shut up , Henry said
I think you said it intending him (the father) to hear it, and wanting him to do something to shut his children up.
When Chauvel denied this, Henry said he was not being honest, and that he was of the opinion that Chauvel had intended the father to hear his comments.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who is the NZ Suicide Prevention Trust?

While on the way home I got accosted - yes that is the correct word - by an angry man demanding that I sign a petition for the NZ Suicide Prevention Trust.Another man with a clipboard was also collecting signatures. Having not heard of this Trust I asked what the petition was about, and what it aimed to achieve. Other than "creating awareness of male suicide" he wasn't able to tell me.

When I asked for further details he told me to "sign the petition or f... off and get a social conscience". I asked for his card, he said he didn't have one. So I snatched it off him. While the card had an 0508 number, that number is the same answer message as the number in this link, the only thing I could find out about this Trust after a quick search.

Now I have a social conscience. And I am also wondering how legit this petition is. If anyone on behalf of this trust tries to get you to sign a petition, don't sign.

Update There's more stuff on the petition here.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

No more buddy buddy, no more messing around

I've been a fan of the music of Flying Nun for longer than most third year uni students have been alive. I've reviewed many live gigs of Flying Nun bands for the Evening Post, hosted Flying Nun pub music quizzes and Flying Nun Radio shows, even as far back as the 10th birthday of Flying Nun, many years ago. Many t-shirts, CDs (and even cassettes) etc were given away.

Selected by label founder Roger Shepherd, this new video collection on one page is superb. Death and the Maiden, Cactus Cat, Gaskrankinstation, North by North, are all there. I would have chosen the Chills' I Love my Leather Jacket over Heavenly Pop Hit, though..

If you want more videos, go here.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Waihopai Trial II: Law and the law

The trial of three men charged with damaging the Waihopai spy base in Blenheim in May 2008 continues in the Wellington District Court this week.

The defence is claiming that they acted in self-defence, that it was a necessity, and also a claim of right. If the jury sees it their way, they’ll be acquitted.

Bryan Law has been in court(apparently in the public audience) blogging the trial every day, but has been verbally ordered by Judge Harrop to desist from doing so, because he mentioned some legal matters that were not heard in front of a jury in day two of the trial. I would have thought another reason would have been that he taking notes in the public area, as opposed to the press benches.

As a result, Law has decided not to continue blogging on the trial. The Court has advised me that the judge has practically prevented him from blogging aspects of this trial through sources outside the courtroom, or reporting on media reports, and to do so will be contempt of court. However the decision has not been formally made, that will occur later this morning.

As Law states, the freedom of speech around court hearings is an important part of democracy. If the press can report on the trial, it is unfortunate that the judge has not appeared to give anyone the option of blogging legitimately from the press bench like any other reporter.

So, Law has stopped reporting at day three unless the judge gives him express permission to do so. A report of day four of the trial is here. Wonder how legit that is?

update Just been advised that Law is now an accredited reporter for Scoop Media, with all reports also able to be posted onto his own blog. His first scoop post is here. Another report of the events is here.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

It’s an arse of a plan, Joyce

Guest post by Ralph Springett, president of Massey’s extramural students’ association

Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce has recently outlined how tertiary education funding will work. Completions must come within the targeted range as described by the institutions investment plan. Otherwise the Tertiary Education Commission will use their funding-stick; give the institution a beating for not being good enough. Sounds like national standards before corporal punishment was banned.

The reaction will be sensible. Tertiary institutions such as universities and polytechnics will increase support for marginal students, using the compulsory student services levy to fund new initiatives. That’s good, lets all muck in and help those that need it most – a bit like how student associations work. Institutions will also be more careful about which prospective (and even current) students they chose to enrol and re-enrol. They will choose those with good grades who want to study full-time. They will be supported in this by the government’s tertiary education strategy push to enroll school leavers. Students who fail will be shunted out the door to make way for the bright new things.

But there is a problem. If you are an adult, the doors will be closed. If you fail because you decided that the course was crap or your mother died; you are out. If you are Māori and are looking for a second chance at education you will have to count on… on what?

National’s direction is discriminating against those with disabilities, students who study part-time for professional or personal development and the elderly who through education wish to continue to contribute to society. It is bordering on racist, as the group they are targeting effectively excludes Māori, despite its own Tertiary Education Strategy targeting Māori learners. Māori learners in degree level tertiary education are predominantly adults who have entered the system through the open entry route for those aged 20 or more. If National closes this door, how would their policy satisfy the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi?

One wonders if National has considered the social impact of its tertiary education policies.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Bye bye Family Party

The Family Party has made a request to be deregistered as a political party, and for its logo to be cancelled. The Party is a spin-off of Destiny Church,( it used to be called the Destiny Party) is headed by Richard Lewis and former United Future MP Paul Adams, and got just 0.33% of the vote at the 2008 election, the same as the Pacific Party, headed by Taito Philip FIeld.

So now, three Christian parties have departed from the political scene - two of their leaders are in prison, and the third is associated with a man who claims he is the physical manifestation of God. Time to deregister the Pacific Party now, perhaps.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

The Waihopai Trial

This morning, three men – one of whom is a friend of mine - went on trial in the District Court in Wellington charged with damaging the Waihopai spy base in Blenheim in May 2008. They damaged its operation by deflating one of the mammoth domes, causing $800,000 damage.

The Waihopai spybase is essentially a foreign spybase on New Zealand soil, and submits raw data directly to the US without checks by our government.
Sam Land, Adi Leason and Peter Murnane [profiled here] broke into the spy base using bolt-cutters and used two ten dollar sickles from Bunnings to slice into one of the domes that covered the satellite dishes. The men, from a group called Ploughshares, aimed to draw attention to New Zealand's involvement in the U.S. war in Iraq through the presence of this base. The dome took 15 minutes to deflate, and the men prayed while it was deflating – then were arrested.

About 200 peace activists from New Zealand and Australia (including Cairns activist Bryan Law who has come over to blog the trial) have gathered in Wellington to support the three men. There are events, vigils, demonstrations and concerts on all week including a public meeting on Wednesday night in which Keith Locke will speak. No doubt this song will be sung a few times.

There will be a Ploughshares interview 7:10am on Breakfast tomorrow.[ Update you can watch it here ]. The defendants will open their case tomorrow. One is representing himself.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Brian Tamaki thinks he is the manifestation of God




source
Update: three days later: the website has been taken down!

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Giving money


A Catholic Bishop, an Anglican Vicar and Brian Tamaki are discussing tithing. They draw a circle in chalk on the pavement below them.

The Catholic Bishop says: “We should take the money and throw it in the air, and whatever lands inside the circle, we give to God.”

The Anglican Vicar says: “No, we should throw it in the air and whatever lands outside the circle we give to God.”

Brian Tamaki says: “No, we throw it in the air; whatever God wants, He keeps!”

(stolen from Kiwiblog comments)

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