Warnings of “revolution” if gun buy back promises not honoured

The owner of an ammunition sales business believes New Zealand will be ripe for revolution if the Government does not honour its gun buy back promises. Paul Clark, who owns New Zealand Ammunition, has told a journalist that there is the risk of violent reaction by gun owners who think the buy back scheme is short changing them.

When interviewed by journalist Lisa Owen and asked what he meant by revolution, Mr Clark responded that it meant literally that. He was sure that there is is a high probability of a physical revolution in New Zealand by gun owners. He went to say that many were planning to skirt the law by hiding their weapons.

I have no knowledge of Mr Clark or his ammunition business, but I find his commentary consistent with that of firearm activists who think that the Government is out to ban all guns. This is extremely dangerous, misleading and if you ask me slightly paranoid in that it is consistent with some of the commentary one would expect from an organization like the National Rifle Association of America.

And what on earth would one want to do with an AR-15 anyway? The sole purpose of AR-15 type weapons is to kill on a large and indiscriminate scale, in the way that the Christchurch mosques attacker, the Nevada hotel gun man, the Sandy Hook elementary school gun man.

Maybe Mr Clark is just sounding a warning that has been passed on to him. As one selling munitions he would be expected to know a bit about the clientele who come to him for their ammunition needs. Maybe there are people on the rifle ranges around the country who honestly feel threatened by this. It is true that the Government did move with almost indecent haste to push legislation through Parliament, but that was the time to do it, when political parties (A.C.T. aside) were united by disgust. And yes, there is more legislation coming, but that was signalled clearly at the time that the first tranche was pushed through in April.

These people whoever they are need to understand though that New Zealand changed irrevocably on 15 March 2019. 51 perfectly innocent people were brutally slaughtered in a callous and cowardly act that New Zealanders honestly thought only happened overseas. Many of us were absolutely horrified at the way the N.R.A., and certain overseas politicians tried to make it about their gun agenda when they have nothing of relevance to New Zealand. We suddenly realized our firearm laws were not up to scratch. We found out that no accurate records of who has what and how they obtained it in terms of firearms, and that our customs are not able to do their jobs adequately because of chronic underfunding and resourcing.

I also fail to understand where he gets the idea he might not be able to take this to court. This is not about banning ones basic rights to challenge unjust laws, but about making sure that there is no prospect of another 15 March 2019 type incident ever happening in New Zealand again.

Questions about the banking sector after ANZ chief’s departure

In 2008 when the banking sector was reeling from the effects of 32 separate New Zealand financial companies imploding, and much larger implosions happening in the United States, there were calls for bankers to be tried for fraud and jailed. United States President Barak Obama campaigned on banking reform, which he then got Senator Elizabeth Warren to enact. Democrats and the little man applauded, but the least repentant banking corporates cried foul. The rest of the world was cautiously optimistic.

Ten years later against a linger backdrop of economic uncertainty, with many of the factors that caused the 2006-2009 meltdown, it is New Zealand’s turn to question our banking sector. With A.N.Z.’s practices under the spot light how many other banks have questionable goings on in their back offices?

I agree with Sam Stubbs, who has called for a banking sector Royal Commission of Inquiry. The extent to which Mr Hisco appears to be out of touch with the rank and file employees such as the Branch Managers, the Tellers and so forth who are the public face of A.N.Z. is quite telling. Also notable is how the Chair of A.N.Z. and former Prime Minister John Key appears to think that Mr Hisco has been properly held to account and that the penalties he has accrued are somehow sufficient considering what he has done.

Mr Key denies it has had anything to do with the dressing down that A.N.Z. was handed by the Reserve Bank for not having enough capital in May. He said that Mr Hisco would take responsibility for it if he were in a position to do so.

This idea of a major bank not having enough in capital in the event of an emergency, I think quite a few people inside and outside of A.N.Z. and indeed the banking sector would find quite troubling. It suggests to me at a quite basic level in the same way a ship at sea wants to be sure that it has enough fuel to get back to port, someone or some several people who had significant monitoring responsibilities were somehow not doing their job.

I imagine that A.N.Z. rank and file employees would be quite angry with how the matter has been handled. Yes they might not have had the same entitlements and responsibilities as Mr Hisco, but I am sure that if any of them did that they would be fired point blank and not be entitled to any financial compensation, or other supportive measures. Mr Hisco, whilst relinquishing about $6.4 million in equity will be paid a full 12 months salary, which is dramatically more than the $0 that most people get paid when they get fired.

Yes, Mr Key and his Board might think they have done the right thing in letting Mr HIsco go, and in that respect, yes they have. However the $2 million golden handshake, the fact that there might be much more than what has been let on that he misappropriated all point to a bigger story than either Mr Key was willing to tell the media about, and/or which Mr Hisco was willing to tell Mr Key and the Board of A.N.Z. about.

It is hard not to feel sorry for the ordinary staff member at A.N.Z. just trying to do their job as best as they can to the standards expected of them, who must feel like they have been ratted on from the highest echelons in the company. They surely would not have anything like what Mr Hisco got to support them in their post A.N.Z. career, which by my guess on the current estimated income for a bank teller would take them about 40-50 years to earn.


Climate change emergencies grow, but where is the political will?

The other day Auckland Council became another New Zealand local government body to declare a climate change emergency in the hope that it will bring the focus on the need for urgent action. And as more councils do start considering whether to declare, the spotlight’s glaring vision is focussing on the central Government’s (relative non)response.

Every single elected council in New Zealand could declare a climate emergency. Whilst the symbolism is great and would have impact if all councils actually did declare an emergency, the real leadership must come from central Government.

And such regional leadership appears unlikely. There are still, no doubt, regional, city and district councils around the country who do not believe that climate change justifies an emergency being declared. One of them is West Coast Regional Council, which is dominated by rural councillors. Despite significant storms visiting the West Coast on a more regular basis and despite increasingly large rainfall tallies being racked up, West Coast Regional Councillors have demanded evidence that climate change is occurring.

Six councils around New Zealand have now declared a climate emergency. Whilst their number compared to the total number of elected territorial authority bodies is small, they represent a very substantial chunk of New Zealand’s total population  at more than 2.1 million New Zealanders. Those councils are Auckland Council, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Nelson City Council and Dunedin City Council.

This brings me back to the central Government. When it announced it was walking away from oil and gas in the coming decades, the left wing spectrum celebrated. New Zealand was taking a step towards sustainability; there might be hope yet for controlling anthropogenic climate change.

Yes and No. The far fringes of the political spectrum are absolutely convinced beyond a shred of doubt that there will be a catastrophe either way, but for entirely different and irreconcilable reasons.

The concern on the moderate right stems from several notable factors that I have described in greater depth elsewhere such as:

  • The affordability of carbon neutral vehicles
  • Long term transport priorities still based on a carbon heavy thinking
  • Unless there is a major effort to overhaul our transport system New Zealand will continue to need oil and gas
  • Some hospitals, and large public utilities continue to use fossil fuels for purposes such as heating with no plans to change their fuel type
  • Impracticality of having an entirely electric vehicle fleet – to say nothing of the sheer number of batteries that will need highly toxic components recycled

The concern from the moderate left also stems from factors I have already acknowledged.

  • The level of carbon is climbing rapidly and is now at 418 parts per million according to the Mauna Kea atmospheric observatory in Hawaii
  • Massive loss of biodiversity from ecosystem destruction has the potential to end humanity in 100 years or less
  • There is no Planet B within reasonable travelling distance of any space going craft

And then there is perhaps a third group, who have to try to reconcile the two moderate factions and make a case that central Government will listen to. They might include planners in local councils who have to make sense of the Resource Management Act and other pieces of law in determining what the council they work for can reasonably do. Others are scientists who could be looking at the sustainability of large scale biofuel from the waste stream or whether hemp can be used on a large scale as a building material.

It might be this third group that helps to make the case. By gathering the inputs from the left and the right  it can try to reach some sort of compromise. It would be between the need for some sort of economic continuity and need to hurry up and start putting promises into actions, but in a way that the public can buy into.




New Zealand economy slowing down?

A new report out shows bleak manufacturing figures. Some have suggested that these mean the New Zealand economy is slowing down.

In some respects I am not dreadfully surprised there are economic jitters at the moment. A smorgasbord of issues exist across the world at the moment, ranging from concerns of another potential conflict in the Middle East, to souring relations between China and the United States to lingering concerns about a banking sector melt down and what kind of Brexit Britain will achieve (or not).

What does all of this mean for New Zealand? Being a small nation that is considered to have one of the more open markets in the world, we are vulnerable to being buffeted by strong economic currents originating in other countries:

  • Concerns continue to linger about a potential financial sector melt down. Whilst the Dodd-Franks laws in the United States were a good start in terms of reforming the banking sector, there has not been any substantial follow up in any of the major markets.
  • Britain continues to lurch in a very round about way towards whatever form of Brexit it eventually takes – hard Brexit, soft Brexit, or something else, we really do not know. This is of particular importance to New Zealand as the U.K. has strong economic ties with New Zealand and a messy exit has the potential to upset trade.
  • Worsening Sino-American relations between the two super powers are not helping either. The virtual alienation of Huawei telecommunications company, which the United States alleges spies for the Chinese Government has seen billions of dollars wiped from its value, whilst at the same time immense pressure has been placed on western nations to block Huawei. As a nation with billions of dollars in trade with China each year, and Huawei being a significant player in the cellular phone market, New Zealand cannot help but notice this.
  • Tensions are high over alleged placement of mines in the Straits of Hormuz by Iran, which have gone on to damage several oil tankers. The resultant uproar has seen Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visit Iran to try to act as a mediator, lest there be a military confrontation. Whether the oil tanker attacks cause a spike in oil prices I am not certain, but it will potentially make owners of tankers think twice before ordering their ships into the Persian Gulf.

Just yesterday though, it was acknowledged that New Zealand’s unemployment rate is down to a 10 year low. One problem now being faced is not whether there are jobs to go about, but where to find the labour that can competently fill those jobs. As a result some inventive measures are being worked out, such as enabling factor workers to transfer temporarily to other factory jobs if their normal industry is having a quiet period. New Zealanders are hanging on to their jobs rather than changing because of concerns about continuity of income, rents and bills. Every day expenses such as food and fuel appear to further undermine what income we have.

As yet Government policy has not really taken effect. Kiwi Build was well intentioned, but is still not in tune with affordability and is thousands of houses behind schedule despite the media attention and promises of legislation change to speed things along. Add to that, the Government’s tax policy has been a cop out with the refusal to implement a Capital Gains Tax joining the ranks of a host of other tax measures that have been introduced and then abandoned for fear of being an election loser.

The “well being budget” was overshadowed by the claims by National that it had all sorts of details about it that were meant to still be under wraps. Still it managed to introduce $1 billion of investment in the railways to make up for the lack of investment by National. It also set aside funding for supporting the introduction of compulsory product stewardship schemes. In addition there was money set aside to assist with vocational education by supporting apprenticeships and trade training.

In an increasingly cautious global context it might be that New Zealand’s economy is not doing so badly after all. But you would not know it from the inside looking out.


ACT: The leopard thinking it can change its spots

Yesterday it was announced that A.C.T. was changing its party branding. A.C.T. Leader David Seymour announced that his party has changed its branding in an attempt to change public perceptions of a party that has struggled since 2011. From a party with 5 Members of Parliament in 2008 including the man behind Rogernomics, Sir Roger Douglas, to a one man band that has consistently polled at 1-2% and only exists at all because of Mr Seymour’s hold on the Epsom seat, why has A.C.T. consistently struggled?

In recent years Mr Seymour, as the public face of A.C.T., has tried to soften the party’s image. A quite successful stint on Dancing With The Stars, which many people had thought was an April Fools joke – aside from some twerking – showed him as an under dog, given he was expected to exit early and perhaps ungracefully like his predecessor Rodney Hide did (after dropping his partner on stage). And New Zealanders do admittedly like an under dog – one who does better than expected.

Unfortunately for all of A.C.T.’s rebranding, the leopard is not going to change its spots. Deep down A.C.T. will still be A.C.T. – a party being kept alive out of convenience to the National Party. It can change its spots dozen times. It can make them pink the rest of it markings white. It could paint itself orange or some other bright colour, but deep down nothing has changed all is still the same.

It is still the party trying to undermine our checks on speech so that it is not responsible for its undisguised bigotry. Golriz Ghahraman will still be Golly to Mr Seymour, and still a Iranian refugee M.P. who is apparently trying to boss New Zealand around. It will still be the party that Louis Crimp, an avowed disliker of the Treaty of Waitangi who thinks Maori are savages and wanted to scrap funding for Te Reo Maori, supported.

A.C.T. will still be the party that refuses to recognize the necessity of tightening up controls on semi-automatic weapons. These include the availability of accessories and modifications such as the one that has enabled mass murders including the Christchurch mosque attacks. It did not want to know about the fact that there would be further opportunity to comment when the second tranche of law comes before Parliament towards the end of this year. Concerns that become all the more stark when one considers that the primary lobby organization for gun ownership in the U.S. – a country A.C.T. and to a lesser extent National think can do no wrong – the National Rifle Association is struggling in the face of several recent mass shootings, and students saying that they have had enough.

A.C.T. will still be the party that thinks climate change is a hoax and that the best approach is the business as usual approach. It will ignore the massive loss of biodiversity around the world, the rapidly worsening number of carbon particles per million. In the name of lesser regulation it will stonewall attempts to create a collaborative approach that brings business on board. Instead of relying on “market forces” that neither know nor care for environmental or social well being, which A.C.T. espouses, knowledge of the environment, technology and society would be put left right and centre and driven by the urgency of knowing time will be needed to adapt and therefore major steps have to be taken now.

Mr Seymour would be well advised to wind up the A.C.T. Party and start over. A.C.T. is a leopard. A leopard cannot change it spots and no amount of painting over its colours will change that. When their initial leaders resigned or left under a cloud caused by acts of stupidity that they brought upon themselves, A.C.T. should have taken the opportunity to under go a rebranding then to either be something other than a failed corporate party that pretended to be about responsibility and liberty.