About robglennie000

Kia Ora This blog is my vent for releasing my frustrations with the state of New Zealand, the New Zealand Government and things going on in New Zealand society, as well as around the world. I post daily at 0900 New Zealand time. Please feel free to leave comments. Please also feel free to follow my blog. Best Regards, Rob

The Murdochracy is damaging the West

His media empire stretches through out the English speaking part of the western hemisphere. Dominant in the U.S., U.K. and with significant operations in New Zealand and Australia, the increasingly divisive and toxic influence of Rupert Keith Murdoch is finally starting to face international push back. In light of the devastating bush fires caused by the very thing his media empire denies, individuals, companies and celebrities are coming alive with the hashtag #Murdochracy: climate change. The Urban Dictionary defines Murdochracy as:

The murder of democracy through misinformation via Rupert Murdoch’s “news websites

The influence of Mr Murdoch’s empire in journalism is perhaps best expressed through the fact that to varying extents every government in the west acknowledges climate change to some extent. The two that do not are the U.S. Government of Donald Trump and the Australian Government of Scott Morrison, both of which are supported by – in the case of the United States – Fox News, New York Post and in Australia news outlets such as The Age, The Australian and others. A third one, the United Kingdom, where Mr Murdoch resides, has several tabloid papers operating under News Corp which include The Daily Mail, The Telegraph.

In 2011, U.K.. tabloid News of the World suddenly went out of print after it was found that Mr Murdoch’s tabloid rag had hacked into various peoples phones and stolen personal information. Among them were a murdered British school girl named Millie Downer, former Prime Minister of Britain Gordon Brown and a range of celebrities. Mr Murdoch’s newspaper apologized, but few believed it was credible. It led to the trial of chief editor Rebekah Brooks who was accused of masterminding the hacking, and although she was found not guilty, many sincerely believe she at least knew about it.

Mr Murdoch’s tabloids have crashed multiple Governments. The most notable one was the Australian Labor-led Government of Julia Gillard and – following a leadership spill – Kevin Rudd. During the election campaigns, Australian conservative media, shock jocks and the Murdoch tabloids savaged her gender, her politics, her very being. Prior to that Gough Whitlam was toppled. But notably when Liberal Government’s have failed to show due “respect”, they have been toppled as well – as Malcolm Turnbull found out.

Mr Turnbull’s replacement Scott Morrison is a fully fledged climate denier, having once gone to Parliament with a lump of coal. Mr Morrison’s determination to ignore the fires has fuelled a backlash no other Australian government has seen from an environmental emergency. His failure to take a Commander-in-Chief moment and try to seize control of the situation has tarnished him and his Liberal party, normally favourites of Mr Murdoch.

In more recent years, Mr Murdoch’s sons have gained some responsibility in the empire. James who as recently as September 2019 might have deliberately put a bit of distance between himself and the rest of the Murdoch empire. Something that became a bit more obvious a few days ago when he attacked the other Murdoch’s stance on climate change, which could either be trying to save himself or a genuine realization that the Murdochracy has gone too far.

His other son Lachlan appears to be classic conservative, but possibly with principles. He does not appear to be a fan of politicians, but in taking over Fox was quickly given lessons by controversial hosts Jeanine Pirro (who went on an anti-Muslim tirade) and Sean Hannity (who was on stage with Mr Trump, when he should not have been)on their support for Mr Trump. Both were disciplined by Fox, but received support from the White House.

Situation Theatre reports that Journalists have at long last started speaking out. Some have said that the Murdoch empire used to require balance in reporting, which they freely acknowledged is long gone. Some have said the man himself, Mr Murdoch, despite having handed some control to his sons still wields the true power and that it needs to be checked.

The rebellion against the #Murdochracy is young and in its infancy, but it has some potentially powerful allies. The bush fires have awakened Australia in ways that no prior bush fire season has, to the environmental threats posed by the neoliberal agenda. The agenda that Mr Murdoch has trumpeted for so long is increasingly seen as a bad thing around the west.

Perhaps the best thing that can happen to the west is the downfall of the Murdochracy.

Major local government reforms being undermined by timing and volume

It has emerged that a large number of local government proposals have been released by the Government just prior to the Christmas holiday period. The proposals which include nine different bills, reviews or consultation documents whose public input periods are expect to start expiring as early as 27 January.

If these concerns are credible, then the timing and volume of them is very short sighted by the Government. They knew that like everyone else all but essential council staff go on holiday at Christmas/New Year just like the ratepayers they are meant to be working for.  As a result they must have also known that there would be minimal likelihood of council work getting down, in terms of staff and elected representatives being able to talk. Late December is never a good time for massive document releases like this because from about 15 December to when individual councils break for Christmas, meeting agendas are being progressively wound down. Only items that can wait or were going to wait until the new year are still on the agenda.

The Government also knew that most of New Zealand would be paying minimal attention to politics over Christmas time, never mind actively trying to participate in it as one is doing when making a submission. Non-governmental organizations might have been more interested, but that is because by their very nature, many of them focus on issues that persist year round and may have clients or interests that simply cannot wait for the new  political year to start.

A quick examination of some of the nine known bills, reviews and consultation documents can be seen below. For further information, click on the links.

  1. Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill
  2. Resource Management Amendment Bill
  3. Urban Development Bill

Other notable items include the Fire and Emergency New Zealand funding review, the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity and the Waste Management Levy review. The Crown Minerals Bill mentioned in the article passed its Third Reading just before Christmas and is awaiting Royal Assent.




Observations of the U.S. Presidential race 2020: Democrat view

The purpose of this article is to examine the candidates in the Democratic nominee race for the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

On the surface, the Democrat nominee race does little to excite this observer. There is a group of several serious candidates who have one or more of the following:

  1. Money – and the ability to raise money
  2. Political experience – they have been to political Washington and have an understanding of legislative processes and mechanism’s
  3. A political profile – if they walk down the street, they will be immediately recognizable as _______
  4. A campaign team

The major candidates of the Democratic Party nominee race are:

  • (Sen.) Bernie Sanders – a self confessed socialist; popular with those concerned about the long term well being of the world, but exposed to accusations of socialism
  • (Sen.) Elizabeth Warren – well known for having comprehensive policies, but listens intently to concerns about her approach; her clash with Mr Sanders might cost her
  • (Sen.) Amy Klobuchar – a pragmatic candidate, prolific sponsor and publisher of legislation; her biggest challenge might be her relative lack of profile
  • (Former V.P.) Joe Biden – his time as Obama’s Vice President will pay dividends; he has experience, knows foreign policy but might be seen as too neoliberal for many
  • Andrew Yang – potentially a winner among minority groups; appears to understand the need for in depth reform but his relatively low political profile might hinder him

But many those several candidates are let down by personal characteristics, some of their making and other more natural ones. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont for example is in his 80’s, and although he has all of the political assets I mentioned above, his age is a significant concern and as he gets older it is a valid concern that is only going to grow. At that age Mr Sanders has a real risk of dying in office like former Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt did in April 1945. Many American’s will think twice before they vote for him just because of that.

And then there are Democrat candidates such as Elizabeth Warren who have shot themselves in the foot proverbially. In the last Democrat debate she accused Mr Sanders of lying, which is a huge allegation to make against someone who might end up being ones running mate should they survive the nomination process. Others like Amy Klobuchar have been solid, but appear to be missing a break out moment where they seize control of the race.

Then there are several candidates who appear to be mounting semi-serious campaigns. None of them have significant political assets, and several have views that are philosophically out of kilter with the Democrat Party. Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Cory Brooker are just a few of the Democrat candidates who have walked away from the 2020 campaign because they either realised they were not ready for it or had bigger priorities. Some of them had political assets – Kamala Harris was Attorney General in California; Tulsi Gabbard is a military combat veteran. They might be Presidential candidates in the future, but 2020 was not that year.


Observations of the U.S. Presidential race 2020: Republican view

The purpose of this article is to briefly examine the Republican nominee race for the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

At this moment only two obscure Republican candidates are confirmed to face off in a bid to become the Republican nominee. This is a challenge made all the more difficult by virtue of the fact that Mr Trump, despite the commencing of the impeachment trial, has a rock solid evangelical Christian core of support. This is especially so around thorny issues such as abortion, gun rights, freedom of speech.

One is Joe Walsh, a talk radio host from Illinois. Initially Mr Walsh was a Trump supporter, but gradually became more and more critical. Prior to going onto the radio waves he was a two year Senator, who was replaced by U.S. Army veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost the use of both legs in combat.

However he holds many of Mr Trump’s policy positions. And indeed some are even more right leaning than those of the incumbent President. Mr Walsh’s time holding electorate office might also count against him as  the voting American will not necessarily see that one of the curiosities of being a New Zealander

The other is a businessman named Bill Weld, a former Governor of Maryland. Mr Weld’s campaign thus far has amassed about U.S. $871,000. He appears to be pro choice on abortion, a fiscal conservative who will reduce spending on the military.

As Republican candidates go, this sounds pretty good to me, but there are a couple of fundamental issues that need to be cleared first. Whilst Mr Weld sounds promising, it has to be said that the vast majority of Americans probably do not remember him that well. And his policy platform is in its infancy.

I cannot see at this time Mr Trump being removed from office. Whilst conviction in his trial requires a simple 51-49 majority, and would only need 4 Republicans to cross the floor, the constitutional rules require a super majority of 66 sitting Senators to remove him from office. In this case that would require 22 Republican senators to cross the floor.

Unless the Democrats get their act together in the next few months, or the impeachment trial A) convicts Mr Trump and B) votes to remove him from office, Donald John Trump will be President on 21 January 2021.

A.P.E.C. Security Bill of Parliament largely unnecessary

One of the Bills of Parliament currently sitting before the Select Committee is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (A.P.E.C. 2021) Bill. The purpose of this Bill of Parliament as shown in the Explanatory Note in the legislation is to:

The policy objectives of this Bill are to—

  • support safe and secure APEC 2021 events for all world leaders, attendees, and the general public; and

  • assist in mitigating security risks that could result in harm to individuals or property or the disruption or cancellation of APEC 2021 events; and

  • assist in facilitating the timely and efficient operation of APEC 2021.

To be absolutely clear, it is not that I oppose the need to have security at these events. We will be hosting the Presidents of China, America, possibly Russia, the Philippines and a host of other nations with whom our relations are in varying states. They as visitors will want to be absolutely sure that their delegations are going to be safe and not disrupted. We as a nation want to be equally sure that we are not going to have a national embarrassment, or international incident occur because we were too slack on security.

However given that they will have their own perceptions on what constitutes a security risk, I believe that the New Zealand Police should brief them on what they can and cannot do, and turn away anyone who refuses to comply. If the foreign powers want to bring in equipment that breaks the firearms legislation currently before the House of Representatives, I believe this would create unnecessary tensions . Instead, if we have such stock available, they should be

Further more I expect that the personnel accountable to the likes of the Filipino, Russian and Chinese delegations – among others – will likely have less tolerance for protestors, given their poor regard for human rights.

Because of that I find myself in the relatively rare position of supporting Green M.P. Golriz Ghahraman’s comments that New Zealand’s existing laws should be sufficient for the task at hand.

I propose the following amendments:

  1. A clause that requires all actions regarding detention, confiscation, search and other such overt actions that under other circumstances could be considered intrusive, to be in compliance with – as appropriate – the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the New Zealand Human Rights Act, 1986
  2. New Zealand Police shall act as a go between between any protestors or other persons making a statement and any foreign protection forces; New Zealand Police shall have the final say on what happens

During the 1999 A.P.E.C. Conference there was a State Banquet in Christchurch involving United States President Bill Clinton, the then President of China Jiang Zemin and former New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley. Prior to the State Banquet a couple of Christchurch Boys High School students protested against Chinese repression of Tibet. Because of the proximity to the Banquet, and the extreme adversity of Chinese officials to public protests, the Chinese President refused to attend until the protestors were dispersed. Eventually New Zealand Police were requested to move the protestors along, which sparked controversy, but which I think in hindsight was probably the right thing to do, as Chinese security officials would not have taken so kindly.