Manus; an ANZAC Solution

First published on The Daily Blog

 

The Australian humanitarian crisis cannot be ignored by New Zealand. Canberra seems completely paralysed and unable to understand the horror of the situation they have created at the Manus Island Detention facility in Papua New Guinea, let alone resolve the problem.

Partly, this is because of the entrenched racism of the conservative Turnbull Government and partly it’s because that awkward Liberal Party led coalition is on the verge of collapse, with its majority already gone and yet another MP about to be forced from Parliament because he’s unsure what country he’s from.

New Zealand has repeatedly offered to take 150 of the refugees stranded on Manus Island. The Aussies have refused, apparently because they are afraid NZ will grant the brutalised men citizenship and that will entitle the refugees to then move to Australia.

It’s worth remembering that these people are genuine referees, not economic migrants. They have every right to seek sanctuary. It’s Australia’s shame that they are being treated so poorly.

Australia has cut off power, water and food to the 600. They tell them to move to the tiny main town on Manus Island where they have no accommodation, no jobs and no welcome from the locals. It’s madness.

There is a Kiwi solution available though.

In the ANZAC spirit, we should help our Aussie cousins out. We’ve always been there to help them when they couldn’t help themselves and in their time of crisis we need to step up.

We should send the Navy to Manus.

The NZ Navy has ships more than capable of evacuating all 600 asylum seekers. The Wellington and the Otago are designed to cover this sort of work and have the ability to launch smaller vessels and helicopters to ferry the victims from the Island.

The larger frigates HMNZS Te Kaha and HMNZS Te Mana (ironically Aussie built and ANZAC class) could act as motherships further to sea.

We could be in and out in a couple of days and the evacuation is certain to be supported by the PNG Government and the Manus Island locals.

The next step is to grant citizenship to all 600 on the understanding that 450 will fly to Australia within days. After all, it’s Australia’s problem and Australia is where the issue should be resolved.

So, there’s the plan.

Swift, sensible and easily accomplished.

Let’s prove that the ANZAC spirit is not just something to saluted on Gallipoli Day commemorations.

Let’s save our Aussie cousins when they can’t save themselves.

Let’s send in the navy.

 

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Catalonia; Why the Left Does not Support Puigdemont

First published on The Daily Blog

 

One of the less covered aspects of the nationalist struggle for Catalonian independence is the fact that the left, for the most part, does not support ousted President Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont leads a minority centre right Government that has been steadily losing popularity. His Junts pel Sí party is itself a coalition of factions from the far left to the Christian right. It is propped up by the CUP, a left nationalist party that is the smallest in the Catalan Parliament.

The government is legitimate; however, it is not popular on the left.

There are many reasons why the wider left does not currently support the wantaway republic.

Primarily, it’s because independence offers little to the working class. The move to leave is promoted mainly by the rich. They see profit in a new republic which would retain strong industrial and tourism revenues.

The working class of Catalonia is not overwhelmingly of Catalonian heritage. In the Franco years, Barcelona was flooded by ethnic Spanish workers seeking a better life. Generations on, Catalonia is as much Spanish as it is Catalan.

That’s an uncomfortable fact for some, however it is regularly reflected in polls on independence that almost always show the majority are happy with the current arrangement of autonomy within the wider Spanish state. Even the recent referendum, hobbled as it was by the Spanish state, only indicated support for the breakaway from a third of voters.

Nationalism, whether it’s from the left or the right, is always fraught with danger. For us on the left, we need to take a calm, reasoned view of events in Catalonia. The response of the Spanish state is not Francoism returned and Puigdemont is definitely not Lluis Companys.

Put simply, these are not revolutionary times in Catalonia.

A genuine independence may well come someday, in some form not yet known, however, it will only succeed if it takes all citizens with it.

We cannot trust the right to deliver real independence for Catalonia or anywhere else.

 

Talleys: A Curious Way to Quit

Talleys; A Curious Way to Quit

I was fascinated to read in the Daily Blog of the coercion being used at a Talley’s plant in the South Island to force meat workers into accepting an inferior pay deal. Those poor sods aren’t alone.

A couple of weeks ago the General Manger of the Talley’s owned AFFCO meat plants in the North Island quit his job. This was no ordinary resignation; I’m told no notice was given by Andy Leonard and he simply packed up and left. He’s only been in the job two years.

There are rumours in the industry that he had a blazing row with Andrew Talley, who runs the Talley’s group day to day, and after being told it was ‘my way or the highway’, chose the latter option.

According to the scuttlebutt, the argument was over the treatment of the workforce. Leonard supposedly didn’t like the brutality of the Talley’s industrial relations policy and was arguing that morale on the sites (and therefore productivity) was being damaged and the company’s ability to recruit skilled workers was similarly being adversely affected by Talley’s reputation for being shit employers.

Now, of course, this is just gossip and it may not be true. It could be that there are other reasons why a man in such a senior position should simply walk away from a job in this manner. But it is rather curious.

If it’s true, I understand it won’t be the first time a senior management figure has left abruptly. I’m told of one manager who spat the dummy over the treatment of staff and even of a lawyer who couldn’t stomach being asked to cross an ethical line.

OK, this is just tales being told in the meat industry. None of it may be true and, frankly, the Talley’s family probably don’t give a flying fig about burning off managers anyway. After all, they literally kill workers, so what’s a bruised suit or two?

So good luck to the workers at SPM in Canterbury. The other big plants in the region will be hiring for the new season soon. That means plenty of jobs where you will be respected, treated fairly and well paid. It couldn’t hurt to look up the Silver Fern Farms, Anzco and Alliance websites to check for vacancies, could it?

And if you’re staying at SPM, there’s a really simple answer for your problems; join the Meat Workers Union. Acting collectively is the best response to bullying.

And, Andy Leonard … mate, if you want to talk, get in touch. You owe the Talley family nothing.

The NZ National Party; A Fully Owned Subsidiary of the Talleys Group.

One of the lines from the first leaders debate that stood out for me was Bill English saying he’d been telling a group of meat workers that they would be taxed an extra thousand dollars by Labour.

Now that’s a porky in itself; the Nats are proposing that they cut tax for the average earner by $20 per week, which is not the same as his implication that Labour would raise income tax.

However, that’s not the interesting aspect for me.

English says he spoke to workers at AFFCO Horotiu.

That’s a Talleys Group plant.

The workers English talked to were locked out 5 years ago in a brutal attempt by the Talley family to starve them into accepting lower wages and conditions. The reality for these workers is that under National, they have lost income, rights and, importantly, certainty of employment.

Millions of dollars of wages were lost by those workers. That’s the reality that Bill English prefers to ignore.

One of the unusual features of working at a Talley’s owned meat plant is that the production workers often work under a regime of regular layoffs. They can be required to sign fresh employment contracts as often as four times year. If your face no longer fits, you don’t get offered a new contract.

I’ll be blunt; the Talleys Group are the cutting edge in worker exploitation. Their preferred employment regime appears to be keeping their workers in a constant state of fear. The contract rollovers mean there is no certainty of ongoing employment at all.

So, what’s the significance of Bill English’s remark?

I understand that National Party candidates have been invited to talk to workers at many AFFCO plants. Labour candidates … not so much!

The Talleys are desperate to see the Nat’s stay in power. If Labour bring in their proposed Industry Standards for pay and conditions, all players in the meat industry are going to have pay their workers fairly.

Clearly, that’s anathema to the Talleys family.

In a slaughterhouse, one of the more unpleasant tasks is controlling the dead beast’s fecal matter. I won’t upset delicate readers by describing the process, but I can tell you what is used is called an ‘anal bung’.

That’s also the phrase I like to use when talking about the huge amounts the Talleys donate to the Nats each election.

Bill English’s Anal Bung. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Oh, and because I’m an equal opportunities kinda guy, can I just remind everyone that it appears that the Talleys are funding Shane Jones in Whangarei. A vote for NZ First is also a vote to keep workers petrified and poor. Don’t do it. Vote to make NZ workplaces fair and fear free.

Shaw Thing

Now that the dust is settling on the Turei resignation, it might be time to have a dispassionate look at why she quit as leader of the Greens.

First up, Meteria didn’t resign to ‘protect her family’. If that had been a genuine concern, she wouldn’t have put them in the spotlight in the first place.

Secondly, she didn’t resign because of the shadow her admission of benefit fraud might cast over the Green’s election campaign. She left because she knew the damage had already been done.

Thirdly, James Shaw is likely to be equally responsible for the debacle. He hinted at that in an interview with Suzie Fergusson on Friday saying, “I take responsibility for my part in that”. 

He was talking in the wider context of campaign in general, but this was the first time he has linked himself to Turei’s downfall.

Why is that important?

If Shaw signed off on Meteria’s confession, he should resign too. It was terrible politics, not because of the issue that was raised -poverty on the benefit- but because Turei was not fully transparent. As John Campbell said, she told a story, just not her story. Shaw should have done due diligence and clearly, he didn’t.

However, he won’t resign, because he’s the only hope the Green Party now has of getting in the high single figures.

The Greens are going to have to settle for losing 5 or 6 MP’s and spending the next three years gazing wistfully down the corridor that leads to the Cabinet room and wondering what it’s like in there.

I hate to be cruel, but the Green Party have shown that they do not yet have the chops to have earned a cabinet posting. Maybe in three more years?

I’ve been following the debate around the resignation in the left wing social media with considerable interest. Most of the analysis has been woeful.

Here are some blunt facts:

The Greens are a middle class party, dependent entirely on the votes of petit bourgeois suburbanites.

Their voters may have a liberal conscience, but they are prone to tut tutting about their lessors. Key knew that. So did Muldoon.

Being caught out fibbing about her true circumstances means Meteria Turei has actually set back the cause of the poor in NZ. Her sense of entitlement has hurt the very people whose plight she wanted to champion.

And that’s the real shame of this mess.

We live with less Green MP’s, but can we live with ourselves if poverty, homelessness and alienation are written off as topics for discussion now and post-election?

TRP Adviser 18/8/17

This week we learned many things. The Greens have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, Chris Hipkins is still a smartarse and John ❤ Jacinda.

Meteria Turei is going to go down in history as the most egotistical, tone deaf and hamfisted political leader since, er, Donald Trump. This weeks One News poll, which puts the Greens on 4%, goes to show that her claim to be resigning to spare her family media scrutiny was yet another lie.

Turei tossed it in because she made an astonishing political error. If she genuinely felt for her family she would never have gone public with her fraudster past in the first place. The reaction to that revelation was always going to be public rejection.

I’m still waiting for James Shaw to be asked whether he approved of her stunt. If he admits he was in on it, expect the Greens to start polling at levels ACT would laugh at. And please, lefty blogs, get a grip. Turei is not the messiah, she’s not even a naughty girl. She’s a middle class poseur with a sense of entitlement that would make Roger Douglas blush.

Chris Hipkins is a goose. That’s an actually well known biological fact, folks. If you look at his upper lip, you’ll see a fine layer of down, which he has regularly plucked to fill duvets for Briscoes.

His immature smartarsery, asking parliamentary questions on behalf of the Aussie Labor Party, has caused Jacinda Ardern’s first crisis. Happily, the new Labour leader was able to bat away the potential problem by giving Hipkins a public dressing down and gracefully moving on.

On the up side, if the All Blacks need a proven right winger, Hipkins has helpfully shown that they can always call up Barnaby Joyce.

Expect Hipkins to have no serious Ministerial responsibilities in the Labour/NZ First Government. Like his lip feathers, he’s down and out.

Like the rest of the country, NZ’s top ranked golfer John Key has fallen head over heals in lurve with Jacinda Ardern.

Key said “The camera likes Jacinda. Paul Holmes once said to me ‘on TV they see your heart’ – she responds well to that so that works really well for her,”

Bear in mind that for Key, the king of the selfie, the camera never lies.

“She’s been on TV a lot, she communicates pretty well and in the end people want to vote for people they like”.

I’d hate to read too much into that line, but doesn’t that rather suggest the former MP for Waikiki Beach doesn’t think people don’t actually like Bill English?

If so, he’s right. Bill English is the living embodiment of the concept that you could put a blue rosette on a pig and many Tories would still vote for the oinker. Bill’s big problem is that John Key could get people who weren’t Tories to vote for him.

Anybody here think English has got that ability? Nah, me neither.

TRP Adviser 11/8/17

This week we learned many things.


Bill English is donkey deep in the Todd Barclay affair, Labour have their mojo back and it’s all about me me Metiria.

The revelations that Bill English was texting his former electorate secretary hundreds of times in the lead up to her resignation was bad enough. Now we learn that English unlawfully destroyed the incriminating texts, presumably to avoid public opprobrium.

It seems likely that Winston Peters has some or all of the communications and is going to drip feed them over the next few weeks. He’s going to let English squirm and fret. That’s as it should be, because forcing someone to resign against their will is appalling behaviour.

In the legal trade, that’s known as a constructive dismissal. It’s when someone of power and authority makes life so miserable for an employee that they have no reasonable alternative but to resign.

At least that’s what I hope English was up to with his txt torrent. It’d be truly awful if, as some people have suggested, he was a sex pest. No, that simply can’t be true.


The latest polls have Labour riding high. They’re back up to the giddy heights of the mid thirties, a place that was only a few years ago the death knell for former leaders Shearer and Cunliffe.

There’s a sad irony that a mediocre result is a cause for celebration, but kudos to Andrew Little for allowing this to happen. The Jacinda Affect is real. But will it be sustained? And after the Greens implosion, will the coalition numbers still stack up, even with NZ First’s support?


This has been a chastening week for the Greens. The initial response to Metiria Turei’s admission that she was a benefit fraudster was a leap in support. There was clear public sympathy for her claimed circumstances, but as her story unravelled, that faded fast.

It was political madness to alienate middle class support. The Greens don’t exist without the money and votes of the relatively well off. Trying to rebrand the party as mana with muesli was always going to come at a cost.

The maths simply don’t add up. The beneficiaries Metiria was pitching to are notoriously hard to get enrolled, let alone to get to vote. The gain was always going to be minimal and the potential downside catastrophic.

In short, Meteria Turei’s attempt to be down with the kids has cost her and two other MP’s their jobs. Because they will know struggle to get to double figures, she’s also cost 4 or 5 list candidates seats in parliament as well.

And still she won’t apologise. That’s weird, because she’s going to be doing a lot of apologising in private in the coming weeks. Mainly to the wider family of her child, who she has effectively cast as uncaring and distant.

One last question I haven’t heard asked in the media. Was James Shaw aware of the content of her speech? If he did and was supportive of it, he should also go, because the polling is not their only problem. They’ve effectively given Winston Peters the right to demand they be left out of cabinet if Labour form the next Government.

That’s the real damage me me Metiria has done.