Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Life in New Zealand under a corporatist, neo-liberal government

A plea for compassion, empathy and tolerance

I want to talk about values.

At 58 I am just old enough to have a memory and a direct experience of post-war New Zealand before it was ravished by the neo-liberal revolution of the 1980's.

I have a memory of it being a very insular place, a land of "3 million people and 60 million sheep", a country that fed its children on half-a-pint of milk when they came to school but did not have espresso coffee.

Now we have adopted the espresso coffee and dispensed with the free milk (at least in a potable form).

New Zealand was a land where the gap between rich and poor was the narrowest of all the OECD countries and which had a welfare system which allowed no one to fall between the cracks.  In the 60's there were few unemployed, and the minister knew them all by name.

Those that couldn't cope were catered for, even if it meant being locked up in the local psychiatric hospital.  

I remember the records section where I worked at my first job in the public service. It actually gave employment to people who, under the "reforms" of the 80's, often ended up on the street, partially because at the time most of the psychiatric patients were released to their own devices.

From full-employment in the 60's we went, after 1984 to full-time unemployment for many, and now we have the spectre of a third generation on welfare payments.

The caring society went out the window.

Now, in 2014, I have a friend who is an excellent secretary-typist and since she had a serious knee injury has been totally unable to find work although she desperately wants it.

There are several things that have made me realise that New Zealand (that had a previously well-earned reputation) has just become a nation like any other, rife with corruption, that scapegoats the poor and dispossessed, and has opened itself up to destruction of its own sovereignty by powerful allies and corporations.

A country that was previously tolerant and open has remained tolerant, but is today tolerant of different things.

New Zealand in 2014  is comfortable with:

- Corruption
- Mass surveillance
- Lies
- Poverty
- Unemployment
- Homelessness
- Record debt
- Destruction of environment
- Unusable waterways
- Absolute corporate control
- Loss of sovereignty
- Loss of human rights
- Loss of employment rights
- Privatised schools and prisons
- Dirty politics
- Media bias
etc, etc, etc.

...and as my friend pointed out to me the other day, all the television channels spent much of their time during the "News" focused on why a football player missed his flight.
Scapegoating the poor and disposessed

One can read all the reports, day after day, but something has to happen to bring things home.

I have a friend from childhood, Stephen, who came from a similar, Canterbury farming background as myself. He had a very successful career as an airline pilot until he was suddenly struck down in his early 50's by a debilitating stroke. This, combined with problems with his family,  has led to him and his wife finding themselves in reduced circumstances.

I want to quote him direct:

"I spend some time walking around this area on My Mile Meanders and I’ve had the occasional fall when I misjudge a step or step into a hole when some folks ignore me and leave me stranded on the ground but one person who has helped me is ‘Uncle’

"It is very interesting that the lovely Pious Christian folks leave Bishop Mathew’s Transitional Cathedral at about the same time as the Chinese Taxi driver serves lunch to the homeless and destitute citizens of our city.They pass the homeless looking at them as if they are filth

"My brain injury limits my ability to write the details of this injustice and I am hoping for your help by putting this in your blog

"….Incidentally I sat in Latimer Square to have a short rest and shared a ciggie with one of the homeless today and was not arrested but eyeballed by passing ‘Government funded, patched gang members’ in their patrol car".

It was the following article that he brought to my attention that made me sick to the stomach.

Despite all the work I do it is still hard to believe (let alone accept) that this is happenening in New Zealand,  and in Christchurch, a city ravished by the earthquakes of 2011.

I won't go into all the ins-and-outs of everythimg that has gone down in Christchchurch since then, but go direct to the article....

Homeless 'friends' can't hang out

Homeless people in Christchurch can't eat together at charity-provided meals after being banned from associating with each other.

29 September, 2014

About six homeless people were arrested on Monday for sleeping in abandoned buildings and breaching non-association orders.

Non-association orders are used by the courts and police to separate people who commit crimes together.

The orders mean those attending charity meals at Latimer Square, provided by Help for the Homeless, Salvation Army food van and numerous churches, are breaking the law and can be arrested.

Help for the Homeless founder Amy Burke said she was horrified to learn most had non-association orders.

"If they eat together at lunch they can be arrested and go to court again. The guys go to the feeds because they are hungry. How is it going to work . . . ‘OK, it's your turn to eat today?'

"I'm not saying they are perfect but they have no-one else. This is their family."

Henare Mclean, aka Uncle, 49, who featured in The Press about the plight of homeless, has been arrested three times in four days for associating with his homeless friends and being in abandoned buildings.

Last week, he learned his nephew, Corey James Mclean, 16, had died in a house fire in Parklands on September 13.

Uncle and the homeless mourned together - illegally. He had non-association orders with most after being caught in abandoned buildings together.

Without his homeless friends last week, he would have been lost. "I would be in my own world. I'd do something stupid or silly. It's really hard. We are a family."

Police district prosecution manager Scott Richardson said the homeless could apply for variations to their bail conditions to get food as long as they did not linger or recreate with them.

"We don't want stop them from getting food. We don't want to further marginalise them," he said.

Non-association orders were conditions police could enforce on homeless, Richardson said.

Other options like curfew, reporting to police, staying at a residential address, were harder to impose and would "set them up to fail".

Burke said it was a poor reason.

"It doesn't mean they have to keep hammering them with it and wasting taxpayers' money. How is that helping them out?"

Toree Woodward, 26, was arrested with Uncle on Monday.

He said he had been arrested nine times in the past month for squatting in car parks and abandoned buildings.

"We only go there [abandoned buildings] when it is raining. I don't want to die on the street like this. In front of everyone, you know. We've got nowhere to go.

"Police have kicked me out of the four avenues . . . I can't go to [City] Mission.
The judge says I need to find a life outside the four aves but there is nothing in the suburbs."

That can be compared with this story which comes from Florida.


Christchurch's angel

For contrast this has to be compared with the story of Daniel Chung,a taxi driver and angel who has for some  years now used his own money to feed the city's homeless and provided a place for people who otherwise have less than nothing to meet and have something to eat.

And now the Establishment is criminalising six people and making it illegal for them to come to Latimer Square to partake of Mr. Chung's generosity.

Christchurch champion of homeless finds new venue
A central-city cordon has not stopped Daniel Chung from keeping his weekly appointment with the city's homeless.

14 March, 2014

For more than two years, the Christchurch taxi driver and his family have delivered free lunches every Sunday to homeless people in Latimer Square.

The February 22 quake and subsequent evacuation of the central city meant that venue was off-limits, so Chung relocated.

He spent last Sunday handing out food in Aranui, and had hoped to resume normal services in Cranmer Square, on the western edge of the cordon, yesterday.

He was denied access, so found a new spot outside the Botanic Gardens on the corner of Rolleston Ave and Cashel St.

Chung said numbers were slightly down on the usual 80, and most were passers-by rather than homeless.

He said most of his recipients yesterday were quake victims who were "stressed out" by the aftershocks.

They were fed pies, biscuits and fruit juice and treated to Chung's 10-year-old daughter, Esther, playing the violin.

He said he hoped to publicise his new location so the city's homeless would know where to go.

"For the time being I'll be in the same place, at the Botanic Gardens, every Sunday. When Latimer Square is accessible, I'll go back there."

See also

"Taxi driver Daniel Chung has been using his own money to feed Christchurch's homeless every Sunday for three years.

"Daniel Chung is an ordinary man. He drives a taxi to support his family – his wife and four children – and to support the homeless people of Christchurch".


Now this is not just coming from a gradual decline in moral values that has developed in a vacuum, out of nowhere.  

These attitudes come from the very top - from the likes of PM John Key, Judith Collins and Christchurch's gauleiter, Gerry Brownlee.

This government scapegoats the poor and (in the case of Alan Hubbard) has criminalised the virtuous business values that once made New Zealand great; its prime minister uses scurrilous right-wing blogs to attack his enemies and attacks respected journalists with epithets like "henchman" and "loser"

Anyone who has fallen through the cracks or had the misfortune to have had a stroke in their prime is, in the view of our prime minister and the people he represents, just a 'loser'


It gets worse than that.

I have another friend who is a whistleblower who revealed some of the worst corruption and targeting of an individual being targeted. This took a huge emotional toll on him. He had to move to another city; he was forced to leave his job because he was being hounded by his employer for his previous whistleblowing; he has reported continuous surveillance and harassment - and now he has used up his money and has to sleep in a friend's garage.

Quite a change from a successful business career - all for speaking Truth to Power.

Another, more public case was that of real estate agent, Russell Malcolm who was harassed, arrested and finally turfed out of his home reportedly for the crime of revealing corruption of the Rodney Council in Auckland which attracted Our Dear Leader's attention.

I will give you Russell's full description of what went down, the "Pinchgut Affair", which has by the way made its way to the NZ Police Conduct Association.

Either Russell is a total nutcase (the possibility of which I personally exclude), or there is a case to be answered.

Put this together with the many other cases of corruption reported in Dirty Politics and other sources, then make up your own mind.

Pinchgut Affair.

ex Facebook, 7 June, 2013

How stupid can Auckland Council get?

This originates back to 1998, when I applied for consent to subdivide my rural property in Dairy Flat. In those days it was Rodney Council. RCC since incorporated into Auckland Supercity.

The then CEO was the initiator of a new scheme to charge anyone doing developments or applying for Consents Fees that were prohibited under the Resource Management and Not permitted under Local Government Act.

Council UNLAWFULLY REFUSED processing consents until the applicants “Volunteered” large sums of money. Those voluntary and un-solicited contributions were made on a Council prepared form.

I was subject to such stalling action and demands on my application, confirmed in writing to me by then CEO Brian Sharplin, Mayor Doug Armstrong and council management. These persons stated under oath no such practice existed, written evidence proved otherwise.

The demand made from me was for $24,000 being 4- 5 times greater than demands made on similar applications.  I questioned this and was then subject to retaliatory action by Council. That action included Council staff hiding copies of consents for my property and than attempting to prosecute me for non complying building. I eventually was able to prove staff had done this and council took themselves back to Court to get ther judgement set-aside.

3 Councillors at that Time testified to a Govt inquiry into a wider range of matters as to sinister and serous nature of the CEO’s misuse of his authority against me with malice. Those councillors being Current AK Councillor Christine Rose, former MP Ross Meurant and then RDC councillor Graham Jurkovich.

The govt inquiry sacked all or they Jumped first, all Councillors’, Mayor and CEO at that time and replaced them with an independent commissioner.

Judge Bollard in he Environment court strongly informed Council of the illegally of their actions. That no fees or contribution could be charged or accepted unless an operative District Plan allowed for it. An arrangement was made that if such a plan was legalised within 18 months of September 2000 I would pay what was lawfully payable. A bond was drafted to this effect. In 2005 a developers levy was formalised.

In 2009 I applied for a consent to put 2 existing lawfully established houses that shared one large bush section onto own titles, so that the tenants could buy their homes, No physical change was to take place and condition were proposed to ensure no changes did.

This should have been a simple process, HOWEVER council staff recalled ther being called into account 10 years prior and deliberately blocked the Consent being processed for 2 ½ years causing myself huge loses and nearly losing everything including my health thru stress. This was done with the full knowledge of what they were doing and the harm it was creating.

Management at RDC and the AK Council covered this up and allowed it. A complaint n May 2011 resulted in a meeting at RDC with senior manager and the Townplanner who was stalling it. That resulted in written assurance from Council that the report on my application would be issued that week and a decision on that application be issued within 48 hrs of my response. No such report was forthcoming.

They matter was stalled until November 2011 when the townplanner issued a report and gave me a deadline to respond, and then WITHHELD THAT REPORT UNTIL AFTER THE DEADLINE.

The planer had actually backdated the application to square one by putting it down for a full Public hearing, something completely inappropriate for such an application.

Several unlawful actions had occurred: The townplanner had decided the neighbours approval I had provided were now out of date (due to council stalling) and disallowed them. This she had known about for some time and had kept secret during our meeting and other discussion, this is a criminal act of misrepresentation.

The townplanner lied as to the Nature of application and its possible affect, and I state lied as in committed fraud as its not a matter of differing opinions.
The town planner lied that her report was delayed by my failure to supply a report, the written evidence trial proves no such report was ever requested and nor it could be grounds to delay her report even if it was. The RMA actually stipulated exactly that.

The Town planer falsified the dates my application had been made.

The town planners provided a list of 88 other properties that their analyses concluded would also be allowed subdivision if mine was allowed. The town planer had to have known that conclusion was impossible for a number of reasons. The most obvious being a District Plan change in 2000 prohibited those dwelling being consented in a similar form to those subject the application. I personally visited those properties and photographed them proving deception and fraud on the town planners part.

This is an offence under Crimes Act of use of a document knowing it to be false to cause lose.

An independent commissioner has rejected the Town planners reports on all of the above and more. His reports and communication had been refused to me under OIA request.

2.  written complaints to Auckland Council legal department and bought to the Mayors Len Brown attention, according to Browns office have not been acted upon, which is another offence.

Request for those reports under OIA bought a response form Len Browns office that no written notes or reports were taken, this is also a lie as Council have been monitoring me. They don’t do that without something in writing.

When I commenced to post on the internet about this after putting Len Brown and senior National MP’s on notice that I would post, I was arrested as per the attached video.

Yesterday 13 years latter Council came back to me and demanded I $14000.00 in breach of the Court Consent notice and illegal to demand under Resource Management Act.

Mr Brown and John Key you can stick your corruption where the sun don’t shine, I'm not tarred with the same gutless, spineless corruption as you.
Now I'm off to have a good day.

Section 28 of the Crimes Act 1914 Commonwealth and the UN Charter of Civil and Political Rights give full protection for the right of Political Protest and the Crimes Act carries a 3 year prison term for all involved in the hindrance of that Political Protest.

New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth and therefore should give full faith and credit to all Public laws.

A plea for values

Finally I want to introduce you to my young friend who is in his late 20's and on 20 September voted for the first time in his life because he wanted to make his contribution to changing the government.

I suspect his response after the results came out might be typical of many young people who choose not to vote because there is no one who speaks for them and they don't see it as a way to effect change.

Well, after last Saturday all I can say is, who can blame him?

I voted for change because I dared to hope that change could actually happen – I will not be that naive again. Now I know just how much change my vote can ever achieve - none..... I've always been cynical about politics, but now I have no faith in it at all. Money and influence are what rules humanity – without either of them our voices and votes are made mute and worthless.”

Those of you who read this blog will know already that I tend to agree with the dire conclusions of Guy McPherson that as far as the future of this species on this Living Planet we are already "cooked".

What can we do with this?

We can decide to live life as fully as we can, in the words of Guy, "live as if the day mattered".  Or as my subconscious produced in a semi-dream state carpe dien - 'seize the day'

It looks as if many of the 48 per cent who voted for this government of ours have made their decisions to "seize the day" to make more money, avoid paying taxes to benefit those less fortunate than themselves.  

The 'others' can be simply dismissed as 'losers'.

The rest of us (many of the remaining 52 per cent) have the opportunity to live according to some ethical principles - woolly ones like 'decency', 'compassion', 'empathy' and 'tolerance'.

I suspect that when the day comes for us to transition from this world those people will die happy.

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