Friday, 9 May 2014

Political corruption and injustice in New Zealand

I grew up in a country which was reasonably benign and free of corruption. I cases where there was injustice this would be corrected.

Now, thanks to this government, this has changed., probably for ever. Perhaps I should be grateful that no one has been  shot (yet).

From Kevin Hester in Auckland, via Facebook

Arrested for carrying out civic duty

The indomitable Marx Jones

I am Completely Livid, My mate has been attacked.

This is my Great mate of 30+ years, Marx Jones.

Marx has been an amazing role model for me since I first met him during Anti-Nuclear and Anti-Apartheid actions in the early Eighties.

On the 19 of April Marx, disturbed by loud voices outside his amazing 1870's workers cottage in the inner city, coincidentally only 100m away from the Central Police Station went out to see what was going on and was confronted by a large group of people spilling out of a local karaoke bar called Vivo Party World.

Marx was threatened by some young thugs and armed himself with a builders level, sitting inside the door of the house. As one youth charged at him Marx, defended himself with the level.

Because there were so many of them Marx put down his lavel and picked up his nail gun, which incidentally was empty and was never fired.Fortunately that diffused the situation and the group withdrew.

Shortly after there was a knock on the door and very strong command to come outside.

Marx opened the door and immediately noticed a Red Laser beam on his chest! WTF? A Cop had a bead on him, presumably from a Taser but Marx isn't sure!

The cops immediately handcuffed Marx and charged him with " Wounds, Intent to Injure ( Other Weapon) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My mate protected himself on his doorstep and the freakn Cops arrested him.
There are lots of reports of minor disturbances like this happening in the inner city and my freakn mate could have been KILLED as other innocent people have been.

By the way, Guys, Marx is a national hero - (for half of the population at least) He was the 'flour bomber' who disprupted a rugby match against racist South Africa in 1981.

Traditionally, people who can't pay have been entitled to legal aid paid for by the state. A few years ago the government changed the rules and retroactively charged people for legal aid (with interest).  Poor people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law can apply for legal aid. Presumably they get access to the lawyer, but have to take pot-luck as to whether their application will be successful, or not. If not (innocent or guilty) they are presumably in hock to the government for the rest of their lives.

Legal aid debtor upset at charges
A grandmother with a $12,000 legal aid debt believes it is unfair the Government is charging interest retrospectively.

9 May, 2014

The Crown started charging 8 percent interest on outstanding debt in March.
A woman who does not want to be named said when she applied for custody of her grandchildren in 2009 she had no option but to get legal aid.

She said she understood the debt would be payable if and when her house was sold, but the situation changed.

"One day I got a letter explaining the changes and all of a sudden I stood there with a letter in my hand and I suddenly had a twelve thousand dollar debt that I didn't have the day before.

"It was really, really distressing because I didn't feel like it was my debt - I had no choice but to step in and do what I did."

The woman said she would be 72 by the time the debt was paid off.

  This is background from Radio New Zealand

Legal aid debt keeps climbing
Tens of thousands of New Zealanders are being charged 8 percent interest on outstanding legal aid debt.

9 May, 2014

In September last year, the Legal Services Amendment Act came into effect, with interest being added on debts six months from then in March.

The Ministry of Justice says total legal aid debt to the Crown is about $109 million.
Radio New Zealand News has received documents under the Official Information Act, which reveal 40,136 people are being charged interest as at 18 March. Of those, 3067 are for debts of $5000 or more.

The OIA documents say all legal aid debts have a six-month grace period before interest is charged, with interest calculated daily and added weekly to the principal amount.

Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier believes very little of the debt will be paid back.

"The idea of legal aid is for people who are suffering financial hardship ... the idea that they can repay the debt is absolutely foolish in our view ... if people cannot afford a lawyer, they should get a free lawyer," he said.

The Justice Ministry said people were told the maximum amount they might have to repay when the legal aid was granted. Repaying it depended on how much someone earned, if they owned property and if they were likely to gain money or assets as a result of a court case.

He said some people signed on to legal aid in desperation.

"They are prepared to sign anything under the circumstances, so long as they have a lawyer that can represent them," he said.

And this - 

Road block complainant not satisfied
A man who complained about a police road block in Christchurch that trapped about 250 young people for more than six hours said he doesn't believe the police are genuinely sorry for their actions.

Police Minister Anne Tolley

9 May, 2014

The apology follows an Independent Police Conduct Authority ruling they acted unlawfully and in a disrespectful and degrading manner towards the drivers and their passengers, who were forced to wait in their cars while safety checks were carried out.

The road block in an industrial area of the suburb of Bromley in 2012 was in response to the gathering of so-called boy racers to raise money for the Canterbury earthquake appeal.

Dan Cossar said it was a peaceful gathering ahead of a planned drive into the centre of town but quickly turned nasty when about 35 police turned up, some in riot gear.

Mr Cossar said people were abused and forced to wait in their cars, some until 2am the next day.

He said the group, including a pregnant woman, was prevented from leaving their cars, even to go the the toilet.

Mr Cossar said he did not believe the police apology is genuine and said police intimidation of boy racers is common.

No-one from the police was willing to be interviewed for this story.

Police Minister Anne Tolley was reluctant to criticise the police's actions.
Ms Tolley said boy racers were difficult to police due to the fact they gathered in large groups that were hard to control.

She maintained new legislation cracking down on boy racers was working.
Civil libertarian Peter Williams QC said a new approach was needed to deal with boy racers that involved working alongside them and giving them a place to meet.

Mr Williams said photos of the police minister standing on top of crushed cars did nothing to help the situation and what was needed was some sort of compromise.

In a written statement the Acting District Commander, Superintendent Andy McGregor, said since the operation the police had introduced new procedures for dealing with anti-social road users and the same problems were unlikely to occur again.

Last, but not least - political corruption and crony capitalism, NZ-style

Brent Edwards, Political Editor

Justice Minister Judith Collins is on holiday, apparently taking a break to deal with the stress she has suffered over scrutiny of her involvement with export company Oravida.

A composite picture of 'Crusher" Collins (do I detect a look of Gerry Brownlee there?)

Radio NZ
9 May, 2014

The woman who took pride in the moniker Crusher Collins has this week looked crushed.

Ms Collins has taken leave on the advice of Prime Minister John Key, after an extraordinary outburst last Sunday that raised further questions about her judgement.

In an interview with 3News about the resignation of Maurice Williamson as minister and her own difficulties over Oravida Ms Collins questioned the conduct of One News political reporter Katie Bradford. She also implied other Press Gallery journalists were in her sights.

Later that day she apologised to Ms Bradford on Twitter but the damage had been done.

Ms Collins is under more pressure after the release of emails by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the minister's visit to China last October.

The emails, despite the protestations of both Ms Collins and Mr Key, do little to answer questions raised by Opposition parties about the minister's conduct on the China visit.

In short they accuse her of a conflict of interest over the visit because her husband David Wong-Tung is a director of Oravida and owner, Stone Shi, and managing director Julia Xu are close personal friends.

What the emails confirm is that Ms Collins' office wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to get Mr Shi and Ms Xu invited to a lunch meeting at the embassy on the day she arrived in Beijing. They also had a visit to Oravida's Shanghai headquarters added to the itinerary, despite the fact Ms Collins was there in her role as Justice Minister.

But what has excited most interest is a dinner Ms Collins had with Mr Shi, Ms Xu and an unnamed senior Chinese border control official in Beijing.

Ms Collins has consistently said it was a private dinner and the official was simply a close friend of Mr Shi. Nothing was discussed about border control matters related to Oravida's difficulties at the time of getting its milk into China.
Mr Key has repeatedly said the emails proved that because they always referred to the dinner as a private one.

But the Prime Minister is wrong.

On at least four occasions emails between Ms Collins' office, MFAT and the embassy in Beijing simply refer to it as a dinner.

On 15 October at 7.44am the New Zealand ambassador gets an email in regard to what then is called a meeting on Sunday evening.

"She (the minister) would like you and Connie to attend," it says.

About 20 minutes later the minister's office emails the Beijing embassy requesting a briefing for the dinner.

The next day at 8.13am the office emails again noting that the dinner is not included in the programme.

The emails make it clear by this time the ambassador, Carl Worker, is worried about the dinner, although whatever he writes in his emails have been deleted from the Official Information Act release.

At 10.09am on 16 October he gets an email from the director of the ministry's North Asia Division, Grahame Morton, saying: "Squared away. The dinner will be a private one. Your attendance is not expected or required."

The next day Ms Collins office emails the embassy: "Nothing from MFAT is required. The Minister is having a private dinner on the Sunday evening."

These are the first emails that refer to the dinner as a private one, which raises questions about why Mr Key continues to spin the emails a different way.

Now not only is Ms Collins' reputation at stake in this affair. So, too, is the Prime Minister's. That is why Opposition parties are focussing as strongly on his role as they are on that of Ms Collins.

They believe Ms Collins had a conflict of interest in promoting Oravida so strongly. No other New Zealand exporter appears to have had the same support from Ms Collins on her visit.

When she returns to Parliament she will face further questions about her role, particularly if more emails are made public.

Mr Key has so far been resolute in his defence of Ms Collins but at some point he might have to assess whether her problems are also harming the Government's prospects, with the election just four months away.

He might fear though that the consequences of moving against Ms Collins - who is reluctant to ever admit she is wrong - would be worse than leaving her as a target for Opposition parties.

But Opposition parties also face a quandary.

They have the Government under real pressure over Ms Collins' conduct but risk undermining that by their broader attack on the National Party's fundraising activities.

Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First have accused National of giving its wealthy donors preferential access to government ministers.

John Key has rejected that accusation and used it to, in turn, accuse those parties of engaging in similar activities.

The problem in politics is that when it comes to fundraising and donations no party is squeaky clean.


  1. Was Mr. Jones inside his house when this happened?

    1. Yes, I believe he was. He stepped out to confront the mob.