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Our Future is with China not Five Eyes

I can remember as a young journalist reporting on then Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s invitation to China to set up an embassy here. We were the first Western Nation to do so. Then National Party leader, Robert Muldoon was apoplectic talking at length of reds under the bed and the loss of democracy as we know it.

We then became the first country to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with China that was worth a massive $15.3 billion last year. It was a quarter of our total exports.

There are other advantages to New Zealand as well with, until recently, many Chinese tourists.

Then came a road bump. Spark wanted to develop a 5G telecommunications network using Chinese technology in the form of Huawei. New Zealand needs 5G and Huawei has the technology.

Sadly that wasn’t to happen due in the main to a chicken licken approach from our spy agency the GCSB.

Huawei responded by offering to build the technology in NZ using locals. No-one could accuse Spark of being an agency of the Chinese government. It is a local company employing locals.

Sounded good to me but no we stuck with our Huawei 5G boycott.. Now China is responding as you would expect by making life difficult at its borders and warning tourists against visiting here.

The problem I have is that no-one has explained how the wheels are going to fall off with a Huawei 5G network. A vast number of Kiwi’s use Huawei phones now and nothing drastic has happened. Are we going back to the good old days of reds under beds and the domino theory?

My simple view is I don’t believe the spy agency. Over the years I’ve had the threat of the Yellow Peril and that was decades ago. Then we had the Russian Bear poised to invade. There was the Domino Theory that said if Vietnam fell to the communists the whole of Asia would succumb. It fell to the communists nearly 50 years ago and nothing happened. Since then we’ve had the threat of India and Indonesia. As with all the other threats nothing has happened.

So our security partners in Five Eyes don’t want us to indulge China. So what? Our main threat from a foreign power is likely to be in the form of a biosecurity incursion not bombs. I don’t see a threat from China.

We need to re-establish our close links with China and do it now. That is our future.

In the current world order my view is that China is a lot more stable and progressive than a lot of countries and that includes the USA.

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I’m pleased the government is looking at the rules governing political donations.

The one part of the Jami-Lee Ross saga that I thought was positive was that the government is going to look at changing the rules over political donations.

My issue is that whether you have the best policies becomes irrelevant if you haven’t the resources to sell them. On the other hand if a person or organisation doesn’t like a party’s policies it can pour resources into the opposition to try and prevent them happening.

Fortunately New Zealand isn’t in the same league as the United States of America when it comes to political donations. By comparison we’re amateurs. We do take pride in our democracy, however, and to me that means cleaning up the political donations mess.

My issue with political donations is simple. All over a certain level and that level needs to be a lot smaller than the current amount should be public. I don’t accept the privacy issue. If a person or group wants to support a particular political party I believe I have a right to know who is doing it. After that I’m possibly in a position to answer why.

Ruth Richardson told me years ago that the way to affect National Party policy was through the funding chain.

That is possibly true of all parties.

The issue is no-one knows what deals are done and why and we have a right to know.

Politics should be open and not controlled by back room deals that everyone is blissfully unaware of.

Putting some of the issues to you.

If a person wants New Zealand citizenship a $50,000 political donation is a cheap way of getting it.

It someone wants recognition in the honours list the same applies.

If a person wants to purchase a NZ property a $100,000 dollar donation would be cheap.

If a foreign power wanted to manipulate the NZ election a $ million donation to the preferred party is a cheap way of control.

I’ve heard the argument about public funding of political parties. I don’t have a philosophical problem with that. The issue I do have is that the system is still open to manipulation.

What I’d like to see is an independent auditor with absolute power over political parties books who can monitor all money in and out and report to parliament.

We do it with our security services so why can we do the same with political parties?

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Why the Criticism of Tree Planters and Fencers?

I read a column on Stuff under the heading ‘Why you couldn’t pay me enough to plant trees or build fences’. It was written by a Jackson Thomas who was labelled on google as the ‘warriors reporter’. That tells me he’d have to be an Auckland metrosexual.

He obviously also comes from a position of blissful ignorance.

The column starts with the statement ‘why wouldn’t a young person want to dig holes, lug around heavy fence poles and collapse into bed every night exhausted because they’ve worn themselves out working for someone else?

The facts are than there are now post hole diggers so fencers don’t have to dig holes.

Fence posts actually aren’t that heavy. Strainers are but they’re used sparingly.

As far as collapsing into bed every night exhausted Thomas has no idea.

I worked long enough as a fencer, two nights a week I’d go to Rugby practice, Friday night to the pub, Saturday to play Rugby and then hit the town.

Yes, Saturday could be exhausting.

Thomas also takes issue at a fencer called Ray who went on to Stuff’s facebook page saying how he enjoyed fencing and prefers fencing on hills.

Thomas tells us that Ray hadn’t sold him on fencing.

His statement that ‘just having dried mud on my hands makes me physically ill’ suggests to me he should stay in central Auckland and drink his lattes with rubber gloves.

Thomas also didn’t see the benefit of a hard day’s work on decent wages as he’d have to think of his ‘deteriorating knees and sunburnt neck.

Hats work when you’re in the sun and despite building many fences I played active sport into my 60’s. My knees and neck are fine.

Finally Thomas admits that the thought of him being a physical wreck at the ripe old age of 40 wouldn’t get him fencing.

The local fencer here is into his 60’s and fine.

At 40 I was still playing competitive sport.

I enjoyed my time fencing. I was fit, it paid well, I was outdoors and you could see what you had built. I worked for a fencer for six months and then did my own thing.

The money was excellent. In passing the person who taught me to fence is now 80 and still working his farm.

The other option I suppose would have been for me to have completed a media studies degree and ending up unemployed.

I’m glad I went fencing.

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Wireless Communication is the Way to Go.

Last night we went to dinner courtesy of WIZ wireless, our internet provider. It was to say thank you for our support, in our case since their inception back in 2005.

We could have equally taken them to dinner to say thank you for your exemplary service, totally consistent, quick and reliable for all that time.

When we finally sold the company in Wellington and moved here full time we had to rely on, believe it or not, dial up. In addition there was no cell phone coverage. Sending anything or researching anything on dial up was almost impossible. In fact when I was commissioned to write a specialist article on labour laws I drove the 50 k into Masterton and back each day to use the internet at the library.

Telecom now Spark weren’t remotely interested in giving us a service, they’d promise the world and deliver nothing.

Then in rode WizWireless in the form of Bridget and Johnny Canning.

We immediately signed up and life hasn’t been the same since. We’ve enjoyed 14 years of super fast wireless broadband. I can work from home including editing DVD’s here. People come and tell me our service is quicker than their fibre in Wellington or Palmerston North. We’ve never had a problem.

In addition when we shifted house on the farm we were told a telephone connection would cost us ‘upwards of $8500’. I rang Cannings and they arranged voice over the internet at an initial cost of $600 plus $40 a month for all local and national calls.

We kept our Spark number and the system 2talk works extremely well.

The Cannings started WIZwireless by raising $200,000 on the farm and starting from scratch. Local farmers, as frustrated as we were allowed the erection of towers on their land. WIZwireless now has more than 1000 subscribers which is a credit to the professionalism and drive of the organisation. You can ring with a query, any query and you get an answer immediately. What’s more you’re dealing with locals who know and understand your position.

In a world where fast, reliable communication is a must Cannings effectively put their farm under financial stress to give the Wairarapa a great service.

They are to be thanked and congratulated for that.

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I don’t know if Fish and Game are really arrogant or stupid. I really don’t.

There was an innocuous enough article in Stuff talking about the fewer fishing licenses sold in Southland.

There were 8138 licenses sold compared with the previous year when we were told 9191 licenses were issued. Previously according to the article 12,431 were sold.

Fish and Game put it down to the bad weather but I have my doubts. In the old days I purchased a trout fishing license at the start of the season, end of story. The weather at the time was irrelevant.

Farmer, Bernadette Hunt affirmed the irrelevance of the weather in a tweet

Then in a follow up article we were told that farmers weren’t purchasing licenses as a protest against Fish and Game’s anti-dairy stance.

I can relate to that.

Bernadette Hunt who is also Southland Fed’s vice president made the point that ‘if there is an issue attributed to anything rural they’re all over it but if it is urban Fish and Game are silent’.

She’s right

Interestingly Federated Farmers president Katie Milne wrote to Fish and Game last year asking for constructive dialogue.

What she received from the organisation was effectively a two fingered salute.

So is Fish and Game now wanting to open dialogue, to be constructive and a good citizen as they’re obviously right off side with people fishing?.

Hell no. There reaction was to hammer the penalties that unlicensed fishers could suffer. They told us that fishing without a license could incur a fine of up to $5000 which is a ridiculous amount especially considering fine for rampant rubbish pollution is just $400.

We could also lose fishing equipment, vehicles and boats.

Fish and Game with its jackbooted approach told us that other charges could be laid including obstruction. The fine for that is up to $100,000.

What the organisation has totally failed to acknowledge is the general disgust they are held in. I’m just not going to fish for trout and salmon.

That way I don’t break the law and I’m not subsidising Fish and Games foibles by purchasing a license.

As an aside catching Kawhai on the beach is just as much fun with less bureaucracy.

That jackbooted response by Fish and Game should be concerning for all right minded Kiwi’s.

If a Police officer is suspicious you are committing crimes they need search warrants. The Police are responsible for their actions and transparent. Fish and Game have unfettered access to your property. They can ‘seize any bag’, ‘stop any vehicle’ and ‘at all times and without hindrance by any means whatever, enter upon, pass through or remain on any land’.

They certainly aren’t transparent or accountable

And that is New Zealand in 2019. We consider apprehending those who are illegally catching trout as being more important than dishonesty, theft or violence?

Further if there is an issue then give it to the reputable organisation that is the Department of Conservation and not a lunatic fringe group that I’m still undecided whether they’re stupid or arrogant.

 

 

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The Bizarre Debate on Drugs

The current debate on drugs totally ignores the key issue. We’re talking about testing young people at concerts which I’d suggest is a waste of time and discriminatory. We’re also talking about testing drivers which ignores the point.

Not all drugs were created equal and different drugs have different effects on people.

Until recently I hadn’t realised that marijuana stays in the system for some weeks yet P barely lasts 24 hours. Cocaine correspondingly lasts a few days.

So if I took P last night it wouldn’t show up on a drug test today yet if I smoked dope a couple of weeks ago it would.

You’d then have to ask who would be the safer driver and I’d suggest it would be last weeks dope smoker although they would pass positive for a drug test.

Also what’s testing at a music festival likely to prove? That the person took drugs. So what are you going to do about it? The event has passed and the police have been told to go easy on drug users.

So my view of the debate is that it is about politicians meddling and trying to look busy and not about achieving anything concrete or positive.

The drug debate in New Zealand has been going in ever diminishing circles for generations. I can remember back in the 1970’s there was a massive police drug sting at Massey University. They caught and charged about 50 people for smoking dope who were immediately expelled. The sting would have cost a fortune and for what, potential professors condemned to unskilled occupations?

We’ve had the police mantra since then that marijuana leads to hard drugs which is drivel. If that had been the case my entire university generation would have been hard line heroin addicts long ago.

We’ve now legislation legalising medicinal marijuana and we’re going to have a referendum on legalising marijuana for recreational use which is a step in the right direction but the reality is that the horse has bolted.

Marijuana has been readily available to my knowledge for half a century. Most other drugs are in a similar category.

The issue for me is that the drug industry which is massive is run by the gangs and other illegal organisations. It is in my view the supply of drugs and the massive profits from them that go, tax free into the underworld.

We have lost the war on drugs, game, set and match.

There are additional issues. I’m told by reliable sources that while dope isn’t addictive P is hugely so. Drug dealers are selling P for the same price as dope or lacing dope with it.

The answer for me is to forget the political posturing, legalise drugs and put them firmly under state control.

I was told once by a senior medical professor that marijuana, alcohol and tobacco had been around in one form or another since before the birth of Christ.

Judging by modern medical information the least harmful and addictive is marijuana.

The issue is that under state control you can regulate the product and the industry. It is a no-brainer so why not do it – now?

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The Hypocrites at Fish and Game NZ

I received strong reaction to my blog on Fish and Game’s ‘survey’. Unsurprisingly I stick with everything I said.

I’d now add that the organisation is a rampant hypocrite. I did mention in my last blog that Fish and Game completely ignored the reports of 379 sewerage overflows into our pristine streams and rivers.

Was there any comment from the trade union – in a word no.

We also read that many councils operated effluent systems that were past their use by date. Again not a dickey board from the team at Fish and Game towers.

Putting it in further perspective just 15% of New Zealand’s streams run through dairy farms, 97% of those streams are fenced meaning dairy, the great evil in the eyes of Fish and Game is just a bit player. In addition our most polluted streams run through cities not farm land.

That doesn’t stop Fish and Game vitriolic anti-dairy mantra while ignoring the real causes of pollution.

What really brought the hypocrisy to me was a superb article in the web-based news site Newsroom.

I find Newsroom highly professional and the article in question was entitled ‘The end is nigh for our lakes’ written by Queenstown based freelance writer Poppie Johnson.

Ms Johnson argues that Queenstown and Wanaka lakes waterways are in danger and that no-one was taking it seriously.

Cynically I’d suggest putting a few dairy cows down there and Fish and Game would become apoplectic but no dairy cows no problem it seems.

The facts Ms Johnson gives us is that Lake Wakatipu certainly the Frankton Arm had four times the recommended levels of E. Coli causing warning notices to be issued.

Lake Hayes has, over the past few years had periodic closures because of E. Coli and cyanobacteria. The latter causes ‘vomiting diarrhoea, coughing, headaches, fevers, blisters from contact and in rare cases slurred speech and respiratory distress. It can also be extremely harmful to animals’.

The problem is varied but doesn’t include farming.

the 17000 freedom campers, (freedom defecators) and ducks, those little feathered friends that Fish and Game breed up so people can kill them are the problem. There are also issues with the three million visitors a year.

What annoys me is that the fishing in the area is superb yet there is nothing from Fish and Game on the issues surrounding pollution. Many streams in dairying areas don’t have trout or salmon in them and never have yet dairy farmers are pilloried.

In addition a local farmer blocked access to a swimming hole because he found nappies on the river bank. He also had a problem with freedom campers.

Again nothing to do with farming.

So my sincere and humble advice to Fish and Game is to be consistent across the board or butt out. Your hypocricy is only exceeded by your arrogance.

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Fish and Game do it Again

Here was I listening to the radio to be shocked by the news that 82% of Kiwis saying they were concerned or very concerned about pollution of rivers and lakes.

Then we had Fish and Game chief Martin Taylor telling us that the problem was fair and square farmers fault.

Unsurprisingly I have issues with that.

For a start why don’t you get ten people in a room and ask them their concerns. I’ll lay you dollars to donuts that pollution of our rivers and lakes isn’t the major concern of eight of them.

Let’s take that a bit further. As the vast majority of us live in cities our exposure to rivers and lakes isn’t great. Certainly not eight out of ten. I’d be surprised if it was over two.

In addition the majority of Kiwis swim in pools, not rivers and lakes and that is because of convenience, not of concerns about water quality.

Further we’re told by the experts that our greatest challenge is climate change, not water quality. Excessive wet or dry can drastically affect water quality and agriculture has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I’m also told we have 80,000 children in New Zealand who are below the poverty line. Does Fish and Game really expect me to believe that people are more concerned about swimming in lakes and rivers than child poverty.

I could mention homelessness, debt, Donald Trump, the road toll, health and education which I’m sure rational people would be more concerned about than the occasional person who may wish to swim in a lake or a river.

So simply speaking I’d like the research peer reviewed by a reputable, independent expert as I just don’t believe it.

The vitriolic anti-farmer band wagon jumping chief executive of Fish and Game one Martin Taylor blames farmers fair and square. I’d expect nothing less.

What he conveniently chooses to ignore is that the number of times sewerage overflowed into the environment jumped 379% last year. As we don’t farm people in NZ I could accurately predict that agriculture had nothing to do with the problem.

The findings by reputable organisation Water NZ found that 35 out of 40 councils surveyed had sewerage regularly flowing into rivers and streams.

We were also told that the sewerage overflows were putting popular swimming areas off limits.

In addition 20 out of 178 wastewater treatment plants were operating on expired effluent discharge consents.

What irritates me is that if they were farmers they’d get hit with the full rigours of the law.

So come on Taylor and Fish and Game be accurate and be honest.

It is interesting because Fish and Game have one role in life, to protect and support that minority of New Zealanders who kill the predatory trout and salmon and the all polluting duck..

Farmers on the other hand are responsible for the standard of living the entire country enjoys.

Further, farmers organisation, Federated Farmers is supported by voluntary subscriptions. Fish and Game is supported by a compulsory tax on licenses. If I want to kill fish and ducks legally then I have to join the compulsory union that is Fish and Game.

Something is drastically wrong.. .

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Thompson and Clark saga needs much more investigation

I believe the inquiry into crown agencies employing private investigator’s Thompson and Clark is an adequate start but a lot more needs to be done. There is just so much we don’t know.

For a start the inquiry absolves state sector chief executives which I have great difficulty taking seriously. Is the State Services Commission telling me that low level civil servants would employ an organisation to spy and not tell the boss?

I believe that’s stretching credibility.

Then under the no surprises policy would that chief executive not tell their Minister, especially over something so delicate as oil exploration.

I don’t believe it. For example when NZ First Leader, Winston Peter’s superannuation was overpaid both chief executives and ministers were well aware of it. Am I being asked to accept that superannuation mistakes and that is all it was are more worthy of chief executives and ministers being told than the state sector being involved in spying on Kiwi’s. More importantly spying on Kiwi’s who were doing nothing wrong.

Thompson and Clark aren’t strangers to controversy as witnessed by the Solid Energy circus that received considerable publicity back in 2007. Is the State Services Commission suggesting that public servants weren’t aware of that and just continued in a cavalier fashion.

Back then the State Services Commissioner warned government department’s against using information covertly gathered by third parties.

Is the Commissioner’s instruction just ignored by the state sector? Whether it is or isn’t raises major questions about the state of our democracy.

That the power of our state is omnipotent, or to use Dr Russell Norman’s words ‘Stasi like’ is witnessed by the fact that Crown Law paid private investigators to spy on two brothers who were seeking damages from government after being abused in state care as they had every right to do.

Is anyone suggesting to me that Crown Law, the government’s lawyer didn’t know that was wrong and didn’t tell their chief executive or Minister. The fact that MSD knew as well makes it more interesting. Are they suggesting to me they’d tell their CEO and Minister about a superannuation over payment and not a case of state inspired spying.

Why would Crown Law use private investigators in such a fashion if they weren’t instructed to win at all costs and that would have to come from the top and that’s chief executives and Ministers.

Is Crown Law then suggesting that they wouldn’t keep those people informed.

Of more concern in the NZSIS dealings with Thompson and Clark.

The major hole in the investigation however is the position of the Police.

We know for example that four Police officers worked for the Police and Thompson and Clark at the same time. Ethics aside we were told that there was ‘no evidence of corrupt behaviour’. I’d like a second reputable opinion on that.

Further have the Police used private investigators? It would be a handy way of getting around issues like evidence based search warrants.

I want a lot more openness on who knew what and when plus an investigation into the Police use of private investigators. After all a complaint had been made to the Police do we expect a full, frank and honest investigation into that complaint?

Sadly I don’t believe that will happen and I don’t believe state sector bosses and relevant ministers didn’t know exactly what was going on and when.

The New Zealand public has a right to know. To refuse that is an infinitely greater effront to democracy than what’s in the current report.

 

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New Zealand Honours are Redundant

I’ve just seen the New Years Honours list and a lineup of irrelevancies it would be hard to beat. While I support the recognition to Stephen Tindall and Kim Workman plus the awards to those community volunteers in the areas of children, the disabled, the prevention of family violence and the like the rest is verging on the nauseating.

For a start if someone is paid to do a job giving them an award is ridiculous. The law profession is a case in point. To recognise gold plated lawyers and judges in the honours list is crazy.

Then add services to the likes of being a violinist, a photographer, a fashion ‘expert’, chess player, karate kid and taekwan-do addict and it lurches from comedy to farce.

Add to that politicians effectively giving themselves awards including Knighthoods and the entire system becomes irrelevant.

Further it is a political circus with the honours signed off by Cabinet and subject to political manoeuvreing as Jamie Lee Ross claimed.

That list then goes to the Queen for final sign-off and one would have to ask respectfully why. This is New Zealand in 2018 for heaven’s sake.

Why should a monarch 15000 kilometres away have any input into an award for a teacher in Taihape for example.

Unsurprisingly I’d like to see the honours system as it currently exists scrapped. People who do genuine work in the community don’t want or need to be given gongs.

We shouldn’t be encouraging the social climbers and political sychophants

 

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