Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Palmerston North moves with the times.

Breaking News:
The Palmerston North City Council has voted 11 to four to introduce a Maori Ward, or two Maori Wards, represented by one or two Councillors. The One Ward option if selected will consist of two Councillors, or if Councillors opt for two Maori Wards, one Councillor will represent each Ward.
This is a major victory for progressive thinking. Once extremely right leaning councillors [Vaughan Dennison and Jim Jefferies] switched their votes Lew Findlay followed them. Voting for were: Lorna Johnson, Tangi Utikere, Rachel Bowen, Duncan McCann, Aleishia Rutherford, Brent Barrett, Susan Baty and Grant Smith [11]
Those voting against were: Karen Naylor, Leonie Hapeta, Adrian Broad and Bruno Petrenas. [4]. Gabrielle Bundy-Cook was absent.
I observed the debate and vote and I felt that the councillors had taken a grown up view of the present situation.
The only person opposing the stance taken by the massive majority of Councillors and the Mayor was submitter Don Esslemont and his later statement to the local reporter clearly shows his inability to accept majority rule, one could say the rule of law, because that’s what he keeps pushing.
Here is what I stated in writing to Councillors during the hearings leading up to today’s vote:
Judging by the comments made by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor it would appear that they felt the same way as myself and the other submitters who made a submission in favour of Maori
The Manawatu Standard published this report on their web page:
Palmerston North City councillors have taken up Mayor Grant Smith's challenge to be "brave enough" to support a move to guarantee Māori seats at the council table.
The city council on Tuesday voted 11-4 in favour of having one or two Māori wards at the next local government elections in 2019.
The decision was made despite two thirds of the submissions it received opposing the move.
Smith said the change would enable the council to uphold its Treaty of Waitangi obligations, even though it might be divisive.
The move has been welcomed by Rangitāne Settlement Trust chairwoman Danielle Harris, who said it was positive for the council and community.
"We are happy that they have voted in favour, and hope they get on and implement it."
But one of the submitters who opposed having separate Māori representation, Don Esslemont, said it was "a pious vote for political correctness".
He said after listening to and observing councillors, he was not surprised by the vote.
Esslemont said having different arrangements for people based on race was "immoral and disgraceful".
"It's politically incorrect to say, but if Māori want to be represented, they should get organised and mount a campaign."
The proposal to set up Māori wards can be challenged if 5 per cent of voters demand a poll.
Esslemont said he was sure there were people in the community who would try to gather signatures.
"I believe a petition will be organised and I'm in favour of that."
Most of the councillors spoke strongly in support of the Māori ward proposal.
Aleisha Rutherford said it was an opportunity to show real leadership and to do the right thing, rather than what was most popular with submitters.
Deputy mayor Tangi Utikere, who has Pasifika rather than Māori heritage, said it had been 19 years since the council last had a Māori representative.
"We have made decisions where Māori have not had an opportunity to participate."
He listed the city vision, issues with wastewater treatment, development of reserves and upgrades to The Square as topics where Māori had not been part of the formal process.
Longest-serving councillor Jim Jefferies was one of those who supported the change, having previously voted against it and knowing his support might not be popular with some of the people he represented.
He said he had learnt more about Māori views and values and understood more about the importance of New Zealand as a bicultural nation.
Those who voted against were Karen Naylor, Leonie Hapeta, Adrian Broad and Bruno Petrenas.
Naylor said it was "a very challenging issue" and her proposal to consider other ways to improve Māori engagement with the council was supported as well as, rather than instead of, the Māori ward option.
Legal counsel John Annabell said the council's decision adopted the principle of having one or two Māori wards.
The details of how the ward or wards would work would be fleshed out in a fuller representation review in 2018.
Annabell said the council could consider whether the rest of the council should be elected at large across the whole city, or by geographical wards, or through a mixture of the two systems.
Cr Susan Baty said that possibility helped make up her mind to support Māori wards, knowing that people on the Māori electoral roll would not necessarily be excluded from influencing the make-up of the balance of the council.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Best Blog of the week

NZ companies complicit in culture of violence, intolerance and oppression « The Daily Blog

Christine Rose

War is great for business. About $1.68 trillion worth of business globally as of 2015. Defence market reports say global tension and conflict will drive ongoing defence spending, “leading to global market opportunities for exporters”. Even here in NZ, our comparatively small defence budget is increasing, and NZ based military technology manufacturers are poised to capitalise on market opportunities generated by instability, superpower aggression and conflict around the world.

Already the NZ defence industry generates about $60million per annum, and employs about 2500 people. The defence force itself has the massive budget of $3,261 million for the 2017/18 year with an almost $100 million funding boost in this year’s budget, and an additional $406million over four years for increased operational expenses, and $576million for capital projects. That’s a lot of money in both public and private sector involvement in the potential creation and dissemination of instruments of death.

Business opportunities provided by a thriving arms market are promoted by the NZ Defence Industry Forum which held its annual conference in Wellington this week. The Defence Industry Forum (NZDIA) facilitates discussions between defence suppliers and defence agency buyers, from here and around the world. The NZDIA brief is to “identify niche markets worldwide and optimise foreign exchange returns on assets of its members, …with a focus on gaining and maximising onshore and offshore defence contracts”. According to one of the referees on their website, ‘they’re one of the most effective industry forums in New Zealand”, reflected in the Government’s budget increases perhaps. But beyond the opportunities of expanding domestic military expenditure, New Zealand companies are benefitting from the global death trade. With the military as agents of state sanctioned violence, companies supporting the arms trade here and abroad, are war profiteers, complicit in a culture of violence and oppression.

And it seems that industry is booming. The Defence Industry Association annual conference was attended by around 500 delegates and 150 organisations. The conference is usually sponsored at least in part, by one of the world’s largest (worst?) arms manufacturers, Lockheed Martin. Representatives of other major weapons companies also attend. But smaller domestic companies who manufacture mortar firing devices, combat training systems, missile guidance technology, weapons and ammunition, transport, procurement and logistics systems, cyber security and military electronics are all there. We’ve got ‘arms dealers on our doorstep’. It’s an opportunity for these industries to buy, sell and lobby for ‘more weapons of war’. War in itself helps their trade.

Intolerant conservatives in NZ were appalled at the behaviour of protestors who sought to blockade, interrupt and disrupt the Defence Industry conference. In online comments, protestors were called ‘street thugs’, ‘rent a mob’, ‘the dregs of society’. They should “get a job, get a life, and if they want change, they should get elected”. Ironically Chloe Swarbrick, newly elected Green MP attended the conference blockade, as did the recently awarded Nobel Peace Prize winner Thomas Nash, recognised for his opposition to nuclear weapons. And many of the protestors were working people who considered the issue of NZ’s involvement in the death trade sufficiently morally important that they used annual leave so they could attend.

Among the protestors was ‘Uncle Scam’ dressed in stars and stripes, wearing a ‘wanted for war crimes’ sign, and carrying another asking conference attendees ‘is it ok when it’s not your family?’ with pictures of falling bombs. There were clowns, men, women and children, people carrying flowers, and a celebratory ‘give peace a dance’ event.

Peaceful protestors blockading the route for delegates to the conference, were manhandled, apparently brutalised, and some people were insulted and injured by the police. Protestors say the police used inappropriate force, which the police deny, saying ‘they were extremely disappointed with the behaviour of protestors”, but protestors said if they’d acted the way the police did, they would have been arrested. The police have the long arm and the upper hand of the law.

Protestors questioned why the police were enforcing security at an industry event, which should be paying for its own security, and the cops were acting as ‘lap dogs to big business’. It’s a bizarre paradox; Wars have been fought to ‘preserve democratic freedoms’ which are suppressed by the police because those same freedoms are used to question the trades of war.

Some of the ‘appalling behaviour’ exhibited by protestors included spitting on conference delegates, and one online contributor suggested even ‘rebelling against the police is despicable behaviour’. It’s a sick world where war mongers and military equipment mercenaries are protected by the state, and those who bear witness and raise awareness of militarism, where the purpose is to kill, are condemned. Non-violent direct action is seen through this lens as a greater crime than direct and violent action through organised military means. In this context, even violent action would be appropriate to stop the dogs of war, but society condemns those who stand for peace, not force, as well as those who would use force to stop it.

Once again the power of the dollar trumps moral questions of the trade in murderous weapons. Turning a blind eye to the proliferation of the tools of war, and their production here in New Zealand, is the same as the American blind spot to gun related harm, but on bigger scale. Edmund Burke said, ‘all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. And Malcolm X said, ‘if you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” This week, righteous and honourable men and women spoke truth to power, and stood against evil that’s institutionalised in the state, and such a cultural norm that the non-violent protestors were condemned more than the purveyors of war.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Money for death the Arms Trade

“War is organised murder and nothing else” so said Harry Patch a world war one veteran.
The manufacturing arms makers turned up in NZ yet again to sell their evil products. Our Defence Force and Government welcomed them yet again. And yet again protesters were confronted by an overly aggressive style policing.
To attempt to give you an unbiased view I’ve used the Stuff report, but I was there and I felt so proud of our younger generation who are standing up to a generation of approved murderers who wear uniforms and drop death and destruction on thousands of civilians in our name.

We all know that wars are bad; there has never been a good one. The main sponsor and chief supporter of the so-call conference in Wellington was nuclear weapons and arms giant Lockheed Martin, Who just love nuclear sales…and are no doubt big supporters of the US use of mass-destruction weapons against almost anyone. With a President as nutty as Donald Trump we should all be worried.   
Here is the Stuff report:
Fourteen protesters have been arrested during fraught scenes outside a Wellington defence forum.
As busloads of delegates attempted to enter Westpac Stadium for the forum on Tuesday, a few hundred protesters blockaded the stadium entrances.
Among those detained and dragged away by police was a disabled man with a walking cane, who said he was protesting against prison operator Serco's involvement in the forum, dubbed a "weapons expo".
Among those detained and dragged away was a disabled man with a walking cane.
Ti Lamusse, from ‘People Against Prisons Aotearoa’, said the police treatment of the man was "massively over the top".
"It was brutal. He was telling them he was disabled. He was in pain – he was in agony."
As each bus load arrived, police blocked off the out-of-city lanes of Waterloo and Aotea Quay but, at one point, scuffling protesters and police broke into the still-open city-bound lanes and into traffic.
About 300 people blocked every entrance into the stadium in an attempt to stop the scheduled Defence, Industry & National Security Forum, which protesters have dubbed a "weapons expo".
Shortly after 11am, police managed to get some attendees inside, despite some protesters lying down in the middle of Aotea Quay.
When one bus load of delegates arrived, protesters surrounded it.  The bus mounted the pavement while police formed a human shield to create a walkway in. Subsequent bus loads followed suit, each time resulting in tense clashes between police and protesters.
A bus load of conference attendees managed to get past protesters with police help.
Earlier, the protesters said they had all but halted the expo, despite police intervention.
Protesters surrounded the stadium from about 6am, and blocked an entrance to the stadium with a sign saying "expelliarmus". 
Some hung many metres from pillars surrounding entrances to the stadium, blocking them with ties that, if cut, would have meant they fell to the ground. 
Protesters are claiming victory after blockading a so-called "weapons expo" at Westpac Stadium.
Others simply lay on the road whenever a new bus arrived. 
Wellington police operations manager Inspector Neil Banks said that, by 10.45am, five people had been arrested for obstructing a roadway.
By 5.30pm, 14 people had been arrested, with five released with pre-charge warnings.
Nine were freed on bail, to appear in court at a later date.  
"Police must balance the lawful right to protest against the public's right to go about their daily business without being disrupted by protest action," Banks said.
"We are disappointed that a number of protesters behaved in a way that created safety issues, disrupted traffic, and caused delays that inconvenienced the wider public."
He said police were aware of allegations made about police conduct and reminded "anyone with concerns that there are several avenues available to them if they wish to make a complaint".
The previous NZDIA expo in Wellington, in 2015, was marred by the mass arrest of protesters – most on trespassing charges, which were dropped earlier this year after a lengthy court battle with police.
Protest organiser Jessie Dennis said the arrests were "outrageous", and she expected all of the charges would be dropped. 
"These people are human rights defenders, and we should thank them for their work in making the world a safer and more peaceful place ... we will be supporting them through any court process whatever the outcome.
"The heavy-handed and violent action of the police in protecting and attempting to escort delegates inside was shameful."

Last month, and after pressure from activists, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester agreed the controversial arms industry forum should not return to any Wellington City Council sites.
Lester said the expo, the main sponsor of which was nuclear weapons and arms giant Lockheed Martin, was "not an appropriate event for a civic venue". The council wanted to steer clear of any associated conflict.
The event could go ahead at Westpac Stadium, because it is not under the council's control.
Instead, the stadium is managed by the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust – a charitable trust jointly settled by the city council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The youngest member of the protest give the bums up to the Wellington Arms Conference.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Maori Wards will PNCC take the big step

Will the old and ex-National Party Councillors see the light and bravely face the future and opt for Maori Wards.
Back in 2011 the following voted against Maori Wards: Jan Barnett, Susan Baty, Adrian Broad, Vaughan Dennison, Lew Findlay, Jim Jefferies, Pat Kelly and Ross Linklater: Those underlined were known Nat supporters, Adrian Broad and Lew Findlay always went with the winners and Pat Kelly sort of floated in the wind back then. Barnett, Kelly and Linklater have departed the scene so maybe the eight five vote against Maori Wards can be reversed, let’s hope so.

At the council meeting those speaking in favour spoke with passion and vigor and those speaking against well let’s say they spoke. Don Esslemont [of Part Maori fame] stated that he was speaking on behalf of “Hobsons Pledge’ but I doubt if that was really the case, I got the impression that he just loves to use ‘Don Brash’s name’…it gives him a sense of importance to name drop a failed leader of the National and Act Parties…Although this year Don E has turned to NZ First… and he must be really disappointed that the elderly Winston Peters appears to be back tracking on removing the Maori Seats.

Anyway the Manawatu Standard sent along its local government reporter and she faithfully reported what went on: Here is her bland report in full: I know that most people don’t bother to read the local paper these days, which is sad but understandable when one considers the right wing leanings of our overseas owned MSM…here is her report. 
“Submitter Tina Smith, a nurse and educator, encourages the Palmerston North City Council to guarantee Māori seats at the council table.
Almost two-thirds of the people who have made submissions about Māori seats on the Palmerston North City Council oppose the idea.

But at a public hearing on Monday, nine out of 12 speakers urged councillors to adopt the Māori ward proposal. 

Submitter Steph Hirst urges the Palmerston North City Council to introduce seats for Māori to guarantee their voice and perspective is heard.

Public Service Association organiser John Shennan said many of the submissions in favour represented large groups of people, and he urged the council to be "brave" and create Māori wards because it was "the right thing to do".

Submitters and supporters hear opinions about whether there should be Māori wards on the Palmerston North City Council.

One of the three speakers scheduled to talk in opposition withdrew, and opponent Selwyn Brown asked to be a late addition to the list after he saw the imbalance.
Brown said the timing of the Monday afternoon hearing was weighted against participation by people who had day jobs, as opposed to those who were paid to speak for their organisations.
He said councillors had no mandate to change the system under which they were elected.
He said the Māori voice was important, and he would like to see Māori on the council, but they should stand for election under the existing system.

A Māori submitter who was elected to Horizons Regional Council despite its lack of a Māori ward, Wiremu Te Awe Awe, urged the council to ensure Māori representation was guaranteed at its council table.
Speaking for Rangitāne o Manawatū, he said Māori and Pākehā had come a long way, especially in Palmerston North, in understanding and respecting each other.
"I encourage the council to be courageous and bold," he said.
Te Awe Awe said he was encouraged to hear many non-Māori speaking in favour of having Māori seats on the council.
Among them was retired MidCentral Health geriatrician Fred Hirst, who tabled extensive evidence about disparities between Māori and other New Zealanders in health and access to healthcare.

Māori born today had a life expectancy seven years less than other New Zealanders, they were more likely to be poor, to die from accidents and preventable illnesses, and to end up in hospital because they had not sought and received primary health services.
He said Māori were disproportionately living and dying in poverty.
Hirst said non-Māori, no matter how well-intentioned, could not effectively solve the problems.
"Māori representation and leadership is needed to assist the council to improve the living and working conditions of the most vulnerable and socio-economically deprived in our community."

Hirst dismissed assertions by Hobson's Pledge frontman Don Brash at a meeting in Palmerston North in July that Māori wards would be race-based discrimination as "insulting and disrespectful".

Hobson's Pledge was represented at the hearing by Don Esslemont, who also spoke in his personal capacity.
He said it was not moral to treat people differently based on their race.
Esslemont said it was good that historic and "deplorable" examples of discrimination against Māori were no longer tolerated in law.

But he said there was considerable resentment in the community against there being special rules and concessions for people who had Māori ancestry.
The council is expected to make its decision on whether to set up one or two Māori seats for the 2019 local body elections at its meeting on October 24th

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