GOD IS A CAPITALIST!


Every so often the Business Roundtable and the right-wing ‘think tank’ the Maxim Institute bring overseas speakers to the country to tell us that free market capitalism is a wonderful thing.

What’s more they preach ‘we’ should dismantle the few social democratic institutions that remain in this country – specifically the welfare system.

The latest speaker to arrive on our shores preaching this familiar dreary message is American fundamentalist preacher Father Robert Sirico – who is so right wing that he thinks George Bush is too moderate and the Catholic Church is too liberal.

Sirico started off as a pentacostalist and, after moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s, he served as the executive director of what is now the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Centre ( he now says homosexuality is ‘a sin’).

Sirico refers to this as his ‘soft Marxist’ period. But then he discovered Ayn Rand and became a hard right ‘libertarian’. Around about this time he returned to the Catholicism of his childhood.

Through his Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which he formed in 1990, Sirico has been campaigning for the destruction of the welfare state and replaced by a system of charity with social programmes moved to religious organizations – presumably run by people like Sirico.

According to Sirico it’s the poor own fault that they are poor because the welfare state not only allows people to stay on benefits but also neglects the ‘spiritual help’ that people need as well as financial help.

The implication is that if a person is out of work then there must be something wrong with them – and its not the fault of an economic system that doesn’t require their services and dumped them in the ‘reserve army of labour’.

Similarly Siricio’s thinks that his brand of right wing Christianity should be rammed down the throat of the unfortunate poor –whether they like it or not.

It's bigoted anti-working class ideology - but with a religious twist.

It’s not the welfare state that has failed to lift the poor out of poverty but the capitalist economic system that Sirico lauds.

Sirico is just another cheap merchant of the ‘blame the victim’ philosophy, a philosophy that sees poverty as the fault of the poor individuals rather than wider social injustices that are thrown up by a venal economic system.

Not surprisingly, Sirico is a well known defender of big business and its sctivities and regularly clashes with corporate responsibility and environmental activists.

In 2002, for example, he was invited to give a brief pep talk to the corporate leaders and shareholders of ExxonMobil.

At that meeting he said that ExxonMobil stakeholders needed to disregard the "religious activism" directed against the company because "it stems from the desire of certain religious activists to force what is clearly a left-wing economic and political agenda on ExxonMobil specifically and society in general."

Not coincidentally, Sirico denies that climate change is occurring.

What makes Sirico’s ideology even more dangerous is that he wants to force feed the poor his right wing fundamentalist Christianity – a Christianity that directly contradicts the basic tenets of a Catholic faith he professes to follow.

Fortunately Sirico appears to be preaching to converted.

A few cursory media stories about his visit have been published but the only discussions of his extreme politics have, so far, only occurred on right wing talkback radio. Both talkback hosts Michaels Laws and Danny Watson thought Sirico had something to offer – which was the opportunity for their listeners to engage in some beneficiary bashing.

Over in the United States, Sirico – like other right-wing ringleaders – is finding that his influence is waning as the star of Barack Obama rises.

IT'S A TOUGH LIFE BEING A CHRISTCHURCH CITY COUNCILLOR..


Christchurch City Councillors earn some $83,000. What do they do to justify such high salaries? Who knows - because they are not accountable to anyone, especially the people who voted them into office in the first place.

Take Councillor Gail Sheriff.

Clearly not enjoying the cold Christchurch winter she was granted a ten week leave of absence from her council job. That's right. Two and a half months. Nearly a quarter of a year.

And where is Ms Sheriff? She's enjoying the warm weather in Bali, drinking Pina Coladas and getting paid for it. Sheriff, who voted to increase council rents by twenty-four percent, is apparently flying off to other holiday spots after she leaves Bali.

At last weeks council meeting Councillor Chrissie Williams moved that reasons for leave for more than four weeks had to be stated in the leave application.

The motion was defeated 8-4.

One of Sideshow Bob's allies, the not-very-hard-working Susan Wells , voted against the motion.

Apparently unable to understand that councillors are, in theory at least, accountable to the voters, Wells fatuously claimed that leave issues were 'private'.

She went on to say 'that I don't want everyone to know what is happening in my personal life in particular'.

Of course Ms Wells, despite being on a big salary, has found time in the past to do in-house commercials for a supermarket chain and for The Warehouse. Oh, she has also done some fill-in work for TV1's Good Morning show.

She also famous told the media last year if people in her ward wanted to talk to her they could do so in the supermarket or while she was gardening!

And what about Sideshow Bob? Well, Ms Sheriff is one of Sideshow's supporters so - surprise, surprise, he says he's 'comfortable' with Sheriff's long absence.

SIDESHOW BOB THROWS MORE MONEY AT NEW COUNCIL BUILDING


Just two days before the local body elections closed in October last year the Christchurch City Council voted to spend $103 million on new council offices.

What’s more councillors were given just twelve hours notification that the massive building project would be on the meeting agenda – and councillors were only provided details of the project at the meeting.

Despite this, the councillors (most of whom got voted back on) voted to spend the money – although they did it away from the public gaze. Disgracefully, the meeting was closed to the public – the same public who will have to pay for the building.

The final vote was 12-1, including the vote of the mayor-to-be Sideshow Bob Parker.

During the election campaign Bob had said if he were voted mayor he would defer any decision on any new council building until after the election.

Sideshow Bob later denied he ha said this until The Press pointed out that he had said exactly that at the mayoral debate. Sideshow Bob didn’t pursue the matter from this point on.

Critics of the project said the decision had been rushed, ratepayers had got a bum deal (the council don’t actually own the building and still have to pay rent) and the building could end up costing a whole lot more than what Sideshow Bob and his council cronies claimed.

Sideshow Bob, in his usual manner, claimed critics were just raining on Christchurch’s parade, that the building would be great asset and blah, blah, blah.

It’s been the usual huffin' and puffin’ from Sideshow Bob but yesterday the critics were proved right when Sideshow Bob and his council supporters voted to spend more money to add three further floors and which will cost the council (ie ratepayers) more than $700,000 in extra rent.

That's the extra rent - but how much will the extra floors add to the the cost of refurbishing the former Post Office building? Or is Sideshow Bob and his merry band of councillors claiming it can all be done within the budgeted $103 million? And, if they are, should we believe them?

After all, just a short two weeks ago Sideshow Bob told Newstalk ZB that there was no intention of adding any new floors and he didn’t know where the story was coming from.

Once again Sideshow Bob has been economical with the truth.

Why are they building these floors? Hey, the councillors couldn’t work out how many staff they had!

The initial decision was for a building that could house 1000 council staff. Now they’ve discovered they need a building that can actually house 1200 staff!

Such a blunder is the result of an unpopular decision that was rushed through to avoid public scrutiny and to give certain councillors, like Barry Corbett and Susan Wells for example, a better chance to get voted back into office.

Sideshow Bob though is again in public relations mode.

‘I can’t wait to take the staff out of this building and into decent accommodation’ he told The Press.

The Christchurch public though don’t share his enthusiasm –especially since they’ll be paying the bills.

And watch the resentment grow as the costs for this bureaucratic edifice continue to escalate.

HANOVER FALLS OVER


And now Hanover Finance, New Zealand’s third largest finance company, teeters on the brink of extinction.

The company has basically given the finger to its 16,5000 investors although Hanover likes to call it freezing their assets to reassess the situation. Either way investors can’t get their money and there’s no guarantee there’ll get all of it back either.

Hanover refused to allow investors, naturally concerned by the finance sector meltdown, to take their money out early. Indeed as late as last week Hanover was assuring investors that everything was just peachy.

Unless Rich List co-owners Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin (presently building a modest $30 million mansion to go with his other lavish properties) are prepared to put up funds - which isn't likely - the best bet for investors is that the company be forced into receivership.

After all, can all the mum and dad investors really trust Hanover to sort out the mess, given they are the same people that lent the shambolic Dave Henderson some $70 million for his absurd Queenstown village project?

Yes, Dave Henderson is involved in yet another finance company mess = in fact, he's responsible for some of the mess.

Yes, those amazing free market flyers have hit the ground with a thud – but it’ll be their unfortunate passengers who will be counting the cost.

What has emerged – is that beaneath the glossy magazine advertisements and the prime time television commercials – the finance sector has been engaged in little more than high flying speculation. It’s proved to absurdly wasteful and not sustainable.

The present meltdown – here and around the world –underlines dear old Karl Marx's analysis of capitalism as a system that works blindly, behind the backs of society and without conscious human control.

KIWI FM AND THE YOUTH RADIO NETWORK


I was kind of surprised that Kiwi FM’s station manager Karyn Hay chose to respond to my criticisms of Kiwi FM – this is hardly the NZ Herald website – but perhaps its an indication of just sensitive Kay is to criticism of her struggling station.

As the rating shows, hardly anyone listens to Kiwi FM and, indeed, Hay agrees that her station is not a ‘ratings winner’. No, at a truly dismal 0.1% of the total radio audience it is an unmitigated ratings disaster.

Unable to defend her position on ratings grounds, Hay tells us it’s not about ratings!

Apparently it’s about ‘championing the ‘difference and diversity’ within New Zealand music – although only if its ‘alternative’ music (tough luck if you are a country and western singer from Westport).

But how can Kiwi even be doing this when few people are listening to this ‘difference and diversity’?

A clue to Hay’s thinking can be found in the thoughts of former Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey –and the man largely responsible for the Kiwi disaster and the kneecapping of the proposed non commercial youth radio network (YRN).

The amount of New Zealand music on New Zealand radio has been increasing in recent years – but that figure has been artificially boosted by the fact that Kiwi plays nothing but New Zealand music.

Back in 2006 Maharey claimed that the increase in New Zealand music on New Zealand radio ‘proved’ that New Zealanders wanted to hear more New Zealand music on the radio.

Of course this increase – from 18.6 percent in 2004 to 20.4 percent in 2006 – was a false figure because it was artificially boosted by Kiwi FM’s one hundred percent New Zealand music playlist.

It’s clear that both Hay and her friends at the Ministry of Arts and Culture think they are championing New Zealand music simply by playing more of it on the radio - the fact that no one is listening to it is irrelevant.

It’s a little like having an exhibition of New Zealand art – but no one turns up to see it. But Karyn Hay will be there to show you around if you might, one day, decide to drop in!

On the issue of the YRN Hay says it was never intended to be a substitute for it.

Well, I never thought it would be - and that’s why I object to the fact that Kiwi is occupying the three FM frequencies that were, whatever Hay might say, implicitly reserved for it.

Hay says she doesn’t know why the YRN was sidelined by the Labour Government.

I suspect it was partly the result of Maharey's ideological obstinacy but it could hardly have helped that Canwest's Brent Impey not only actively lobbied against the network but also lobbied Maharey to allow Kiwi to take over the three frequencies. Impey was worried that stations like The Edge and The Rock would lose audience share to the YRN. For Impey, the bottom line is always the almighty advertising dollar.

Finally, there’s no guarantee that the three frequencies will not be sold off by a future National Government. The failed Kiwi FM is hardly convincing evidence that the three frequencies should be kept.

HENDERSON IN THE HIGH COURT


An application for the liquidation of Dave Henderson’s Property Ventures and Five Mile Holdings was adjourned for a week in the High Court yesterday.

Henderson’s lawyers tried to postpone the inevitable for another month but this was opposed by counsel for the plaintiff, Smith Crane and Construction.

The High Court judge gave Henderson just another week – which perhaps is an indication of the Judge’s thinking on Property Ventures and Five Mile Holdings.

Meanwhile, while Henderson’s lawyers were in the High Court, two accommodation businesses owned by Property Ventures, in Invercargill and Dunedin respectively, were being put into receivership yesterday.

Both businesses had defaulted on interest payments on loans.

Both companies were run by Henderson’s company Living Space.

Henderson also has an accommodation business in Christchurch which is also run by Living Space.

Now it’s time to join the dots and thanks to ‘nefarious 2000’ for pointing out the connection..

Also yesterday the Canterbury Mortgage Trust announced it was freezing some $250 million of investors funds as it attempts to get itself out of a sticky financial situation.

Canterbury Mortgage Trust, like other finance companies (eg Dominion Finance and Hanover Finance) apparently got involved with Henderson - in this case by putting investors money in the Christchurch 'Living Space' accommodation business.

As ‘nefarious 2000’ says, people have often wondered where Henderson’s money has been coming from. Now we know – a series of gullible finance companies and, possibly, banks.

It’s a horror tale indeed.

Be very afraid = because the same financial 'experts', politicians and journalists who allowed Henderson to run amok are still out there...

Note: Hanover Finance's advertising slogan is 'With Experience Comes Wisdom'!

VEITCH RESIGNS - BUT HIS MEDIA MATES DEFEND HIM


He’s gone. Tony Veitch has pulled the plug on his media career - before his two employers, TVNZ and The Radio Network, did it for him.

Now he faces a police investigation after the woman he allegedly assaulted filed an official complaint with the police.

Veitch might be gone but the Auckland media mafia is continuing to campaign on his behalf.

At Radio Sport, 9-12 host Brendan Telfer has claimed that Veitch has been persecuted on the basis of nothing more than rumour, gossip and speculation. This is the same Brendan Telfer who went after Olympic horseman Mark Todd, who was allegedly caught using cocaine and hiring a rent boy. The basis of this story was rumour, gossip and speculation generated by a British tabloid newspaper – but Telfer said he was not a suitable person to represent New Zealand.

Telfer, who commentates women’s netball for TVNZ, has even gone as far to claim that certain media have been waging a war against poor old Veitch. He has even cast doubt on the victim’s claim that she was violently assaulted, preferring to accept Veitch’s bland comment that he ‘lashed out’. 'That could mean anything', argued Telfer on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report, ignoring the ugly fact that the victim of Vietch’s ‘lashing out’ had her back broken in four places and was confined to a wheelchair for several weeks. She is apparently dealing with continuing health problems.

But Telfer isn’t the only TRN broadcaster defending Veitch.

Mike Hosking, who occasionally pops up on TVNZ, has joined his colleagues Leighton Smith and Paul Holmes, in defending ‘Veitchy’. Laughably, Hosking commented on Newstalk ZB that Veitch would left financially impoverished. Hosking chose to ignore that Veitch has recently married into a very wealthy Auckland family. Oh, and not to mention that he has Veitch has been on a combined salary closing in on $400,000. He's hardly down to his last two dollars.

TRN General Manager Bill Francis told the media that he considered Veitch to be ‘a friend’ and left the door open for his friend to return to Radio Sport in the future.

The attitude of Bill Francis goes some way to explain why TRN suppressed the Veitch story for two days, even going as far as preventing talkback callers going to air if they wanted to talk about Tony Veitch.

Apparently Messrs Francis, Telfer, Holmes and Smith have no problems with manipulating the news to look after a ‘mate’.

Perhaps the only TRN staffer to come out of Veitch affair with her credibility intact has been 8-12pm host Kerre Woodham. Although guarded in her comments about Vietch, she has - unlike her male colleagues - not defended him.

Meanwhile over at TVNZ we are no closer to finding out who knew what and when.

TVNZ chief Rick Elllis says that Veitch told management that there had been a domestic dispute but didn’t provide any details. It seems no one in TVNZ deemed to ask Veitch any hard questions - which suggests they were operating on the principle that ‘no news is good news’. It’s hardly a good look for a broadcaster that has been telling us that ‘violence is not ok’.

However Ellis’s comment that Veitch had been less than candid about the domestic incident contradicted Veitch’s statement that he had, ‘at all times’ been ‘open and honest’ about what had happened.

In wider media terms, this whole affair has confirmed for many that there is a self-satisfied Auckland media and celebrity cabal who really do think they are different from the rest of us. And, boy, don’t they just hate one of their own coming under the same media spotlight they regularly shine on the rest of us..

SIDESHOW BOB BLOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET


Sideshow Bob has been patting himself on the back again (because no-one else will do it for him), claiming that the ‘biannual residents' survey shows overall satisfaction with the Christchurch City Council's services is increasing’

According to Sideshow ‘79% of those surveyed indicated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the performance of the Christchurch City Council in delivering its services.’

What Sideshow Bob neglected to say though was that this phone survey of just 770 residents included only people in ‘private residences’. It did not include people in Christchurch City Council flats who have just suffered a 24 percent rent increase.

Indeed there is nothing in the survey at all about council housing.

On his self-congratulatory mayoral website, Sideshow Bob also sidestepped the issue of council housing.

Oh, but I’m sure you will all be concerned to know that he has been ‘battling the flu’.

I bet that Sideshow isn’t having to keep the heating switched off in order to afford the rent…


HE’S A MATE
Mmm, I saw ‘lad’ Martin Devlin defending the violent Tony Veitch on TV1’s Breakfast the other day.
Hold on – is this is the same Martin Devlin who is a big supporter of Sensible Sentencing? This organisation, among other things, wants stiffer prison sentences for violent offenders.
The picture also gets murkier when we also consider that Devlin’s partner is, apparently, the media officer for Sensible Sentencing.
Another case of a mate looking after a mate…

LABOUR PARTY ‘CLAYTON’S’ BLOGS
A friend rang me this week and told me that the Labour Party are busying setting up seemingly ‘independent’ blogs. On the surface they are the work of individuals sympathetic to Labour but, are in fact, orchestrated from Labour Head Office.
We’ll be keeping an eye open for these blogs and, if we find any, we’ll even give them some publicity!

MY COMPLAINT TO THE BROADCASTING STANDARDS AUTHORITY
I still haven’t received a ruling from Broadcasting Standards regarding my complaint about Canterbury Television’s coverage of the Tibetan uprising. It is now nearly four months.

TVNZ IS A GREAT PUBLIC BROADCASTER! YEAH, RIGHT...


The policy announcement by the National Party that it would scrap Television New Zealand’s ‘charter’ – supposedly in place to ‘entrench’ TVNZ’s public service obligations – has predictably been attacked by the usual suspects.

Although National says it has mo intention of privatising TVNZ, Minister of Broadcasting Trevor Mallard claims it’s a ‘trojan horse’ for the ultimate privatisation of the state broadcaster.

The head of the Christchurch Broadcasting School Paul Norris says National’s plan would ‘lead to a loss of premium New Zealand-made documentaries and current affairs coverage.’

Mallard’s assertion that National wants to sell TVNZ is simply that - an assertion. It’s designed to make political capital in an election year.

Of more interest is Norris’s argument. His claim that would there will be a dramatic loss of top New Zealand documentaries and current affairs coverage is laughable.

That’s because there isn’t much of the stuff on the TVNZ right now, a broadcaster supposedly committed to its public service obligations.

A cursory glance through the Listener reveals TV1’s prime time schedule is awash in quiz shows, reality shows, bland light entertainment shows. There is no serious interview show, for example, but plenty of light entertainment lightweight, Jason Gunn.

It’s only current affairs show is Sunday – and its content is often of dubious quality as well, favouring as it does, the tabloid and sensational stories. TVNZ is largely ‘braindead’ – to borrow former TVNZ journalist Linsay Perigo’s famous comment.

And which documentaries is Norris referring to? I can’t find any. Indeed, in recent times, a number of New Zealand documentary makers have hade their work rejected by TVNZ on the grounds that their documentaries didn’t have ‘mass appeal’.

Norris though, as a former head of TVNZ news and current affairs is a supporter of Labour’s disastrous hybrid public service–commercial model.

Implemented in 2000, it was supposed to see TVNZ meet the obligations of a public service channel while also fulfilling commercial objectives –ie paying the government a healthy annual dividend.

In practice, TVNZ has been more concerned about the ratings and the advertising dollar –and any ‘public service’ considerations have been an afterthought.

Such has been TVNZ’s commercial zeal, that it has used charter funding – that was supposed to be for programmes that otherwise would not make it air –for commercial programmes such as Mucking In and NZ Idol. Disgracefully, it even used charter money to buy screening rights to the Olympic Games.

There is a suspicion that many in the TVNZ bureaucracy –there are over a hundred TVNZ workers on six figure salaries – have no commitment to public service television and are keen to see the charter dropped.

The Labour Party’s commercial/public hybrid has been disaster –we don’t have proper public service television now and National have simply decided that the charade is going to end.

If Labour had done what they should of done and created a non-commercial TV1 that was committed to the public broadcasting ethos then National would not have been able push TVNZ further down the commercial road.

For Trevor Mallard to now present himself as the ‘champion’ of public braodcasting is a sick joke indeed.

IT'S ALL OVER FOR HENDERSON


Like a B movie, the collapse of Dave Henderson’s property ‘empire’ is coming to its tawdry climax.

As it hinted last week that it would, Hanover Finance has brought in a receiver to take control of Henderson’s Five Mile Village project near Queenstown airport.

Hanover says that Henderson’s Property Ventures defaulted on a $70 million loan some months ago.

Of course, just a short two weeks or so back Henderson told the Christchurch Press that he was ‘amazingly solvent’.

As usual, Henderson has been looking around for someone to blame – which is somewhat ironic given that ‘Hendo’ is big on ‘individual responsibility’.

He says that big American lender, Fortress Credit Corp, is responsible for the receivership push.

According to Henderson, Fortress part-owns NZ Castle with Auckland broker Martyn Reesby and NZ Castle have bought about a third of the loan on Five Mile from Hanover Finance.

Meanwhile its been revealed that Smith Crane and Construction are seeking approximately $750,000 from Property Ventures for work done at Five Miles.

Four other organizations are supporting Smith Crane’s High Court bid to have Property Ventures put into liquidation.

One of those organisations is, yet again, the Inland Revenue, who are seeking some $95,000. It’ll be interesting to see if ‘Hendo’ claims, yet again, that he is being ‘persecuted’ by the taxman.

But some people are still supporting our Dave, including Peter Townsend, chairman of the Canterbury Employers’ Chambers of Commerce.

He claims that Henderson has helped to revitalise the inner city.

This is debatable in itself but it is cold comfort to the people that Henderson owes money to.

Perhaps Townsend should be reminded that one of the finance companies that Henderson lent money from – Dominion Finance – has ceased business. Investors, many of then just small ‘mum and dad’ investors, may have to wait up for up to two years before they see any of they’re hard earned money again.

Dominion Finance says that they simply ran out of cash because of companies defaulting on their loans.

Of course Townsend is just one of a many high profile figures that have supported Henderson’s activities, including ACT MP Rodney Hide and Christchurch Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker.

And let’s not forget a media that was just too eager to believe Henderson’s ‘rags to riches’ story. It was a media that for too long ignored his dodgy politics and his abysmal business track record.

By the time some of the media finally realised that Henderson Street wasn’t paved with gold, the damage had already been done.

THE APOLOGY THAT WASN'T


Tony Veitch’s public 'apology' yesterday about his violent behaviour was a carefully scripted and structured performance, designed to save what is most important to Veitch - his media career - and to, at the same time, not to admit to any criminality.

Let’s remind us of what Veitch did. His was a prolonged assault on his defenceless ex-partner, including viciously kicking the woman on the ground - breaking four of her vertebrae. The victim ended up in a wheelchair for several weeks and she had a nervous breakdown.

He then paid her $100,000 to hush the whole thing up.

Did he admit to any of this? No, he only admitted to ‘lashing out’ - which could mean anything. It certainly doesn’t provide any legal ammunition for the police.

No, this was a carefully managed performance - even his wife, standing alongside him, had a role to play. I suspect that the moment she placed a supporting hand on his shoulder was also scripted.

Did he have any ‘excuse’ for his behaviour? Apparently Veitch, on a combined salary closing in on $400,000 - was stressed! Perhaps he should talk to someone working for the minimum wage and trying to bring up a family to find out about the true meaning of ‘stress’.

Veitch said he was ‘haunted’ by the incident. Really? His ‘jack the lad’ behaviour over the past two years hardly suggests he’s agonised over what he did. He’s revelled in his high profile media jobs, whooping it up with his other ‘lad’ friends like Marc Ellis and Mathew Ridge.

Meanwhile his employers, TVNZ and The Radio Network, who suppressed the Veitch story for two days, finally allowed the story on to their airwaves. Unable to sweep the affair under the carpet, it’ll be interesting to see if these two organisations will try to ‘rehabilitate’ Veitch in the eyes of the general public or do the right thing and sack him.

Over at The Radio Network, Newstalk ZB announcers Paul Holmes and Leighton Smith are campaigning to keep Veitch in, at least, his radio job. These are the very same announcers who regularly urge the government to impose stiffer prison sentences on violent offenders . But, hey, Veitch is a mate - and 'mates' stick together. You can just smell the hypocrisy..

VEITCH GETS THE RED CARD


The public outcry has been overwhelming and finally, both TVNZ and The Radio Network (TRN) have bowed to public pressure: Tony Veitch has been relieved of his broadcasting duties until, say TVNZ and TRN, the allegations of domestic violence (see yesterday’s post) against him have been ‘investigated’.

Of course the question to be asked of TVNZ is why didn‘t it do an investigation some two years ago when it first became aware of what had happened.

Indeed TVNZ and TRN have acted in a cowardly manner throughout this whole nasty affair.

Both organisations have omitted the Veitch story from their news broadcasts over the past two days In the case of TRN it refused to allow talkback callers to go to air on the ZB Network if they wanted to talk about Veitch.

Yesterday, afternoon host Danny Watson – a man who has often preached about violence in the community and ‘taking a stand’ - was talking about the All Blacks. The evening host Bruce Russell – a man in favour of tougher prison sentences - was talking about Auckland crime and Triad gangs.

TRN is tough on crime and violence – except when it comes to its own employees.

This morning Veitch could be heard sharing a joke or two with ZB breakfast host Paul Holmes and newsreader Kate Hawkesby. The jolly Kate Hawkesby asked Veitch about his upcoming trip to the Olympic Games where he is supposed to be one of TVNZ’s main anchors.

Whether or not he’ll get to go now is another matter entirely.

But given TVNZ’S reluctance to take the guy off the air, they may well be hoping that the dust might settle over the next fortnight and they might be able to slip Veitch into Beijing without anyone noticing. Fat chance.

WHEN SPORTS BROADCASTERS GO BAD


TVNZ, the very same media organisation that recently ran anti-domestic violence commercials is the very same media organisation that knew for nearly two years that its high profile sports presenter Tony Veitch had violently assaulted his ex-partner. Such was the ferocity of the assault that the unfortunate woman was in a wheelchair for several months and she also had a nervous breakdown.

But Veitch, scared of the story leaking out and thus ruining his career, paid the woman he assaulted some $100,000 to say that she got her injuries from accidentally falling down a flight of stairs, a variation on the ‘I bumped into a door’ story.

In normal circumstances a person like Tony Veitch would find himself facing criminal charges and a possible prison sentence. But Veitch has lots of money and often the rich can remove their 'problems' through splashing the cash.

Not this time though because the story, apparently circulating for some months, has got into the media

'Veitchy' has decided he's going to try and brazen it out - and there he was on TV1's Six O'Clock Mews tonight presenting the sports news and engaging in some light banter with Wendy and the other fella. The big elephant in the corner of the studio was 'domestic violence'.

This was the man that just some months ago was decrying violence in rugby.

Tomorrow morning he'll be doing his breakfast show on Radio Sport. It was on this station in 2005 that Veitch said about tennis player Serena Williams: 'Do you know where the apes come from? She is a reminder.'

Neither his two employers TVNZ and the Radio Network have mentioned the allegations against Veitch in their news broadcasts. You have to wonder what basis this editorial decision was made on because it certainly wasn't based on ethical journalism.

On the ZB Network, a Radio Network station, talkback has been conspicuously absent of any talk about Veitch. Indeed the station has been refusing to allow callers to go to air if they wanted to talk about the violent Mr Veitch. So much for media freedom.

Veitch is a thug - and a thug who tried to conceal his violence with money. It’s an insult to us all that both his employers are allowing this man to carry on in his two media jobs as if nothing had happened.

It’s up to the general public to tell both TVNZ and the Radio Network that ‘violence is not ok’.

LABOUR: 'THE PARTY OF OWNERS'


National is the political party of business and farmers so policy is always going to bend in their favour… Martyn ’Bomber’ Bradbury, Tumeke!, July 7.

I’m not intending to pick on the Tumeke! blog –which I find interesting – but some statements (like the one above) deserve a response.

Bradbury’s statement is simply not true and the facts bear this out.

Over recent weeks Dunedin political scientist Bryce Edwards on his Liberation blog has been analysing the social base of the various political parties. It’s authoritative stuff and it’s from Bryce Edwards’s research that I draw my information.

Edwards writes:

Labour’s economic strategy in government after 1984 can be read as an attempt to reconfigure the party’s support base using neo-liberal and socially liberal reforms to attract further middle class support.

This strategy was successful – so much so that it lost much of its traditional working class support.


In 1990 an New Zealand Election Study survey revealed that ‘‘Labour’s normal lead over National among manual workers had wasted away to nothing. Thirty percent of the manual group supported each party’

At the 1990 election 30 percent of manual workers simply didn’t vote.

In 1993 Labour’s support among blue-collar workers improved slightly – unionists voting Labour increased from 36 percent to 39 percent.

At the 1996 election political former political science lecturer Alan McRobie was surprised by the ‘strength of support for National amongst the semi-skilled and unskilled – over 36% of the party votes and electorate votes cast by electors in the quintile with the most semi-skilled or unskilled people went to National.

Edwards writes:

During the 1996-99 parliamentary term, while in opposition, the Labour Party gained the trust and support of the business community to govern again. An important indicator of this was a landmark 1998 business survey carried out by the Independent business newspaper which reported that business now felt more positive about the election of a Labour-led government.

Edwards also observes that in 2002 the Dominion Post reported that Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce was welcoming the re-election of the Government, and also said that ‘Business leaders spoken to by The Dominion Post were unanimous in their support for Labour’s victory

As Edwards and others have pointed Labour is now one of the preferred parties of business. In 1999 for example Labour received as many financial contributions from business interests as did National. In 2002 Labour actually received more donations from business than National.

Edwards writes

The Labour Party now draws even the support of a number of prominent National Party business people. For example, Dryden Spring, a former corporate fund-raiser for the National Party, and former chairman of the New Zealand Dairy Board agreed to be the keynote speaker at a Labour Party conference. Former Auckland divisional head of the National Party, Ross Armstrong became a close friend and supporter of Labour leader Helen Clark, and worked closely with her government. Another champion of the party, is a former ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ and millionaire vice-chairman of the Business Roundtable, Bill Day (Talbot, 2002).

Also worthy of note is that the Labour caucus is drawn from a narrow middle class base. There is no tangible connection with the New Zealand working class.

Edwards quotes political science lecturer Jack Nagel who wrote in 1998 about Labour’s caucus;

‘..they no longer had any visceral identification with poor and working class people; their own interests, associations and lifestyles led them to identify with New Zealand’s affluent classes; and their "leftism" lay in non-economic issues, to which most of them gave priority’

For ‘Bomber’ Bradbury to suggest that National is the party of business is only telling half of the story because Labour is also a preferred party of business.

To use Bradbury’s term Labour is ‘the party of owners’.

JOHN KEY! THE NEW LIBERAL BOGEYMAN!


So author Nicky Hager says John Key and the National Party are using the services of Australian PR firm, Crosby-Textor.

So what?

Like Hager’s book The Hollow Men, which is a whole lot of fuss about not a lot, there’s nothing particularly surprising about parliamentary politicians and their various power plays. I'd be more surprised if they didn't act this way - then I'd be suspicious!

But there’s more of this wishy-washy nonsense, I'm afraid, on the Tumeke! blogspot.

This is what regular contributor Pheobe Fletcher wrote:

The issue of political spin should be a defining one this election: rather than dragging public debate away from the policies that define our nation, as some have argued, interrogating the source of where these policies come from is a crucial process to an informed vote. The refusal of John Key to confirm his party's use of Crosby/Textor as public relations consultants is disturbing, as it signals a degradation of the democratic processes through which a party should be elected.

The danger with this marriage of public relations and politics is that the desire to pull voters ends up superseding the desire to establish firm, reasoned policies that benefit New Zealanders.

This is a strategy that Crosby/Textor are renowned for in their campaigns: using sensitive issues to polarise voters into voting on emotive reasons rather than a critical rationale.


It sounds erudite and informed but, folks, it’s condescending drivel from someone who sincerely believes in the parliamentary process. She sincerely believes that voting for either Tweedledee or Tweedledum means we have a real say in the political process.

Putting aside Fletcher’s pollyanish comment that the ‘democratic process’ is about to be degraded by the bogeyman, namely nasty John Key, she implies that ordinary voters are going to be sucked in by a PR campaign rather than voting for ‘reasoned policies that benefit New Zealanders’.

Clearly Ms Fletcher has a low opinion of the intelligience levels of her fellow New Zealanders if she thinks a few TV ads and a few leaflets will spur people to vote - like sheep - for National.

And which 'reasoned policies' would you be talking about then Pheobe? Labour’s free market policies or National’s free market policies? Come on Pheobe – tell us who you support! Don't be shy!

Pointing the finger at National’s spin doctors just won’t do. Why? Because the real villains are lurking elsewhere – people who, I suspect, Ms Fletcher supports.

The real reason we have reached this point is because of a Labour Government that has taken us down a destructive neo-liberal economic road and the complete and abject failure of a trade union leadership to oppose that neo-liberal agenda.

Is it little wonder then that working people are turning to the National Party when organizations that claimed to be on their side have dismally failed and betrayed them?

For Tumeke! to hail Ms Fletcher’s shonky analysis as being 'right on the nail', suggests that Tumeke! still harbours, after all these years, silly illusions about the so-called ‘progressive’ nature of Labour.

HERE COMES HELL!


Carbon trading schemes are a PR con. Biofuels are depriving the world's poor of sufficient food, leading to mass starvation. James Ayers comments.

The 21st Century phenomenon’s of global warming, peak oil, food miles etc are all rapidly becoming entrenched in the public psyche and therefore political agenda. This comes as no surprise, as civilisation’s addiction to oil, and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from our selfish and decadent lifestyles have serious consequences for the future of mankind on this planet.

Scientific consensus around the world is that anthropogenic global warming is real, and on this matter I am inclined to agree with them. Big business on the other hand is far more sceptical, especially where their profits are threatened.

However, what is surprising is that mainstream media seems to be supportive of the scientific view. Al Gore has conveniently become the new cause celebre and picked up a Nobel Peace prize for his efforts in An Inconvenient Truth. While this cause may be more noble than the one he fought in 2000 (for the US presidency), anyone who has seen his movie would have been disappointed that he focused on the symptom (global warming) not the cause (the unsustainable, petroleum based economic growth agenda).

You see mainstream media is owned by the same ruling elite who own the other enslaving industries on Earth, such as oil and finance.

For decades, the media has been used primarily to shape public opinion, so what are they preparing us for next? Are they trying to win over the hippies and greenies, generation x,y, and z using the old gospel of “save the planet’? Or is there another agenda, with the promotion of technologies like biofuels, carbon trading and carbon sequestration? Unfortunately for all of us, there is A SECRET AGENDA. The ruling elite wants us to remain addicted to oil, and kill off the poor in the process.

Take for example, biofuels. It may delay the onset of peak oil for a month or two, and ease the conscience of the SUV driving Fendalton set. But at what cost? Millions of acres previously devoted to feeding people, are now devoted to feeding petrol tanks. This combined with escalating world food prices, means many millions more will literally starve to death!

The media of course will portray this as the result of a severe drought instead of the Truth, INTENTIONAL GENOCIDE. The Starbucks owned corporate coffee farms in Africa will remain irrigated while the local population dies of thirst!

It will be much easier for the West to grab whatever resources are left in the poorer regions of the world, if the local populations are not there. This is the real agenda behind the push to biofuels.

What about carbon offset trading schemes as a way of reducing global warming? Plant a few trees each time you make an overseas trip or buy a new car - Yeah Right! Worldwide these schemes have mushroomed out of nowhere into a multi-billion dollar industry.

What characterises this industry? No real standards, regulations or watchdogs, little verification of schemes, and sadly little or no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The industry is a re-run of the Wild West, dominated by snake-oil salesmen out to make a quick profit in an unregulated market. A recent study showed that 60% of carbon offset schemes were unsuccessful or just didn’t happen! Easy money for those selling them.

As for the polluting businesses, carbon trading is a no-brainer. Buy enough carbon offsets (tax-deductible and pass on the remaining costs to customers), greenwash your annual report, and hey presto, receive Al Gore’s environmental endorsement for being carbon neutral. By the way, business as usual, keep pumping these gases into the atmosphere like there’s no tomorrow, literally.

Meanwhile it will be business as usual for the fossil fuel industries. They have no intention of weaning us off the stuff. Quite the opposite. Big Oil and Coal are making huge profits and will make even more in the future as fossil fuels become scarcer and prices rise. Throw in cartel control and pricing and their profits become astronomical.

Why let alternative energy sources like solar be developed, putting their guaranteed future profits at risk. Why let solar power be developed when the ruling elite can’t control or tax it - the sun shines everywhere and its free. Oil and coal are highly centralised, privately owned and distributed. What was once God given is now man-stolen, access to which is managed by GREED.

No, the fossil fuel industry has no intention of weaning us off their fix, and their new solution is carbon capture and sequestration, the kitty litter solution; bury it in the oceans or underground and hope it stays there. But will it and what sort of mess will we be leaving for our children to clean up or live with?

Carbon sequestration is the ultimate PR con that will convince the world that burning fossil fuels is safe, and we can continually fill the SUV and burn coal (if you have money) well into the future. And what will that future look like? Increasingly like HELL!

James Ayers is the ‘The Corporate Nemesis’, Plains FM 96.9, Christchurch, Tuesdays 11am.

WILL THE MYSTERY CALLER PLEASE SIGN IN...


Credit where credit is due.

Like many other mainstream media outlets the Christchurch Press has been guilty of giving right wing ‘libertarian’ and high profile property developer Dave Henderson a whole load of free publicity. It’s been a PR bonanza for Henderson these past few years, cultimating with the release of his movie We’re To Help last year.

The Press though, to its credit, is doggedly pursuing Henderson as his Property Ventures business ‘empire’ teeters on the brink of collapse.

Today it has reported that the mystery call it received that cancelled two public notices advertising liquidation action against two of Henderson's companies appears to have originated from the office of Henderson’s company, Property Ventures.

On Tuesday last week, Smith Crane and Construction's lawyers, instructed The Press to run public notices advertising a High Court liquidation application against Property Ventures and Five Mile Holdings.

Later that same day a call from to the classified sales section instructed the same notices to be pulled.

Henderson operates on the principal that ‘attack is the best form of defence’ and he told the newspaper that the allegation was "scurrilous and outrageous and incredibly stupid".

Tim Smith of Smith Crane and Construction told TV 1 News "We've been trying hard to work with both Property Ventures and Five Mile Holding to try and get the thing settled, but we've been backed into a corner where we've just got no option,"

He went on to say that over the past six months ‘there have just been so many promises made and broken’

True to form though, Henderson denies he’s at fault. Instead he claims that – contrary to what Smith Crane say – the ‘matter has been settled’ and that some ‘things were just being made up.’

Anyone who knows anything about Henderson we’ll also be familiar with his well worm tactic of denying everything. It’s always someone else’s fault.

It’s also worth noting that Hanover Finance is the major financier for Henderson’s Five Mile development near the Queenstown airport.

Hanover Chief Executive Bruce Gordon has been quoted as saying that Hanover had various options to protect its interests, including appointing its own receiver to the Five Mile project.

Last month Dave Henderson was a guest speaker at ‘Thrive Mainland’, a business event organised by the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce – an organisation that has often praised him in the past.

Henderson spoke on the topic ‘Overcoming Challenges, No Matter How Big’....

CHRISTCHURCH COUNCIL RENTS GO UP TODAY- OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATES


As New Zealand heads into deepest winter and into economic recession, Christchurch mayor Sideshow Bob Parker and his loathsome council supporters have put rents up for council tenants by a massive 24 percent.

July 1 marks the day when the rent rise is inflicted on council tenants.

But Sideshow and his mates aren’t having it all their own way.

In somewhat of a major coup for the Coalition For Fair Rents, the Ombudsman has agreed that the Coalition’s complaint about the big rent rise is worthy of further investigation.

Already the Ombudsman’s Office has requisitioned dozen’s of council documents, memos and e-mails.

And the unpopular Sideshow Bob is being fought on another legal front as well.

The Council of Social Services filed a legal challenge in the High Court on Friday claiming that the rent rise breached the Local Government Act.

University of Canterbury law school professor, Duncan Webb, is working on the case. He has asked the case be heard urgently (within the next two months) rather than the normal eight months.

Along with Sideshow Bob, it was councillors Gail Sheriff, Claudia Reid, David Cox, Sue Wells, Ngaire Button and Mike Wall who voted for the increase. Barry Corbett supports the increase but was not present at the council meeting when the vote was taken.

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