Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Place to Blog

From 2012 onwards I am moving blog addresses, I will leave this up for a good while, but for any new writings you'll need to go to www.patbrittenden.com

Thanks for being part of Average Joe for so long...see you on the other side


Thursday, October 20, 2011

How does Labour hope to get back in? Easy vote for National!

Here’s the thing, this election may already be over…but, if Labour is to have any chance I think two things need to happen.
  1. Winston Peters needs to be back
  2. ACT needs to disappear

There is not much that Labour can do to get Winston Peters back, but for the other necessary action to happen, maybe Labour can help that along a little bit.

ACT seems to be somewhat imploding with not too many people seemingly happy with the coup d'état that Don Brash pulled on Rodney Hide and since doing so even fewer people seem to have been impressed with his performance as leader of the party. For a party, who is always ‘tough on crime’ to have a leader who wants to decriminalise marijuana seems erroneous at best, hypocritical at worst.

ACT seem to be doing a pretty good job at taking themselves out of the running however the voters of Epsom, of whom 70% voted for John Banks in the Mayoral election, will likely come to the conclusion it’s better to have a Mr. Magoo type operation and still have John Key as Prime Minister, than to risk having Phil Goff in the top job. It is likely that as it stands right now Banks will win Epsom, even with two recent polls saying otherwise.

Labour needs to double bluff.

Labour needs to get around the constituency quietly and get all their supporters to vote for National’s Paul Goldsmith.

Goldsmith in the last two polls has been leading John Banks by 17% and 14% respectively however as the election comes closer and the National supporters see their parties ratings drop somewhat, many are like in Epsom to put in this dysfunctional party ‘for the greater good.’ But what is all the Labour supporters voted for Goldsmith as well…for the greater good.

In the latest poll National’s Paul Goldsmith was on 37%, John Banks on 24% and Labour’s David Parker 17%. If that 17% went and supported Paul Goldsmith on Election Day his numbers could jump enough to nullify the difference those that pull support from him to keep ACT in. A ‘double bluff’ worthy of the ‘reality’ TV series Survivor.

In theory Labour supporters voting for a National Party candidate in Epsom, could help them bring down one of the most popular parties in recent times. In theory.

Now come Election Day, National could have a majority, they may have enough votes to get there with the Maori Party alone…or no matter what happens ACT could romp home in Epsom, but Labour is stuck in a situation where they need to have either strong coalition partners themselves, or they need to remove National’s partners if they are to have any show. 

Little Paul Sheehan throws his toys over the Wallabies exit

So Paul Sheehan from the Sydney Morning Herald thinks we should see the back of the haka, especially looking at the ‘throat slitting action.

Well let’s look at the technical side of things first. In Maori culture that action means to draw of the breath of life into the heart and lungs…but to be honest I don’t care about that. I could care less if it meant, “I’m going into battle against you and you can expect to have your head removed (metaphorically) by the end of this game!” I’d be fine with that…has anyone ever watched a game of rugby, it’s a violent, vicious, confrontational battle. Off with their heads I say!

Paul Sheehan has done the classic ‘sore loser’ thing where he has come out and lambasted the haka as intolerable and unacceptable…neither of which he would have stated publicly is Australia had of won in the weekend, or if we were playing them in the final this weekend. Paul Sheehan is a bad sport.

Sheehan states of Kapa O Pango, “"If some of the All Blacks persist in ending this latest version of the haka with a throat-slitting motion, they will be using a very big stage to remind people the Maoris once engaged in unspeakable conduct, which we don't discuss any more.” So I can only assume, if Mr. Sheehan is a man of consistency, that he would also support removing Advance Australia Fair from the start of Australian games, as it also celebrates ‘unspeakable conduct’ committed by settlers to Australia on the indigenous people…you remember the stories, the lost generation, the advertisements in the papers in the late 1800’s looking for volunteers to go and hunt the natives out of existence.

Here is a version of Advance Australia Fair that some Australians adhere to.

Advance Australia – Unfair

Australians all should be ashamed
For we are not all free
They killed the blacks and stole the land
And lock up refugees
The land is raped by profiteers
The Murray­River died
History’s page
Denies the rage
Because historians lied. 
In prison cells how can we sing 
Advance Australia fair? 
...from Breaking Free – loosening the shackles of colonialism: the road ahead (2007)

Now this may only be the view of some….but equally Mr. Sheehan’s view is only that of ‘some’.

Paul Sheehan goes on to talk about how the RWC is not really that important to Australians, or the world stating, “Thankfully Australia's hopes and passions are spread across multiple sports. We have already moved on from the World Cup. New Zealand must live and die with its All Blacks.” Really? Moved on? That’s not what twitter is saying of your Wallabies

James Horwill "Feel truly gutted. Hard to find words to describe the feeling. The AB's were too good and deserved to win. Good luck to the AB's next week"

James O’Connor "Speechless, cld be worst feeling ever. absolutely gutted! Ab's jst too gd tonight-played gr8 rugby n deserved the win"

Quade Cooper "They say everything happens for a reason. So we are ready for everything you can possibly throw at us now. You can't make us feel any worse"

Seems to sting those that were on the field a little more than Mr. Sheehan is saying. Most Australians handled themselves with decorum and grace over the Wallaby loss, Paul Sheehan is not amongst that group.

And onto the point that Australians have plenty of sports to support right now…again…really? Sure lots of sports are played in Australia, but you have to be honest…currently on a world stage…there ‘aint that much to crow about.

England ranked number one in test cricket (Australia number 4), Kiwis World Champions in Rugby League, All Whites vastly out performed Soceroos at recent Football World Cup, All Blacks (said confidently) about to be World Champions at Rugby…so really what is there to support?

Paul Sheehan has done the classic ‘little boy’ thing of tossing his toys, picking up his bat and ball, and walking home. Except this time the world doesn’t need his bat and ball…in fact we got rid of his last weekend and we can use out own…onto another World Championship.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don Brash withdraws from Treaty debate...why?

Dr. Don Brash has pulled out of a debate on Treaty issues to be held on TV3's 'The Nation'. The ACT Party and Dr. Brash have been asking TV3 for logistical and editorial details about the debate. It would appear they have not received what they wanted so Dr. Brash was pulled.

I interviewed Dr. Brash for 40 minutes on Saturday along with Jeremy Elwood my co-host on The Slightly Correct Political Show, and on the issue of the Treaty I found Dr. Brash lacking in the depth and knowledge to be making such bold claims as those expressed in ACT's 'one law for all' policy.

I am no expert in the area of the Treaty, but one thing I think would be prudent is that if one was going to comment, legislate and rally against and area in society then they should have in depth knowledge of that area...from both sides of the debate.

Let's look at it like this, if you or I moved into a foreign culture, a culture where we didn't understand the language, customs or history, then it would be prudent for us to learn about that culture before we comment on it. To understand the nuances of the language before we speak out how we disagree with them. Surely to disagree with something you first need an understanding of it. In the case of the Treaty, Dr. Brash does not have that understanding.

When asked about the main three areas of contention between Maori and non-Maori interpretation of the treaty, Kāwanatanga , Rangatiratanga and Taonga Dr. Brash responded "I can't answer that question, I'm not an expert on the Maori language" and when asked again Dr. Brash said "I can't interpret the Maori language nor do I know what that meant at that time"

This is the area of most concern to me. We need to know what was signed at the time, what was agreed to at the time, and how we bring that into 2011 New Zealand.

Dr. Brash was a nice man, but as a politician to me he seemed out of his depth. The 'one law for all' rhetoric has not given ACT the 'bounce' it gave National in 2004 and I think that ACT are going to move it more to the background over the next 7 weeks and focus on the economy.

Are there issues around the Treaty that we need to address, "Yes!" Are the Treaty settlements running without controversy or people trying to abuse the system, "No!" But it saddens me that this kind of politics still happens in NZ, the kind of 'populist' policy to appeal to one sector of society (in this case the much mentioned 'red-necked' section) when there is no substance or depth to the conversation.

Don Brash was found wanting yesterday in The Slightly Correct Political Show and he didn't want to be seen to be foolish in front of a bigger audience, so he withdrew from The Nation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Do we all have a little ‘Mutu’ in us?

Do we all have a little ‘Mutu’ in us?

A week ago Professor Margaret Mutu responded to a Department of Labour report that found Maori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than any other ethnic group by saying that white immigration should be restricted because they pose a threat to race relations due to their “white supremacist” attitudes. Over the following few days there has been a plethora of debate around this will some groups supporting her, some denouncing her and many calling her comments “racist!”

She further angered many by claiming in a radio interview that she couldn’t be racist as Maori are not in a position of power.

Today it’s been reported there has been 30 complaints have been made to the Race Relations Office and many people are calling for Auckland University to sack Ms. Mutu.

Let me state this clearly at the start. I neither support Margaret Mutu’s position, nor do I believe that Maori can’t be racist. Any one individual can demonstrate racism and in this situation perhaps there is a case to be answered for.

I am left with two questions…
1. Is this a racist statement?
2. If it is, is society showing a balanced hand in their reaction to Ms. Mutu?

So let’s investigate that. Firstly what is Professor Mutu saying?

Well it would appear to me she is saying, albeit it very bluntly, is that white immigrants are having a negative influence on her culture. It appears that she is concerned for the plight of the Maori culture, practices and place in society and she doesn’t want a foreign culture coming in and ‘taking over’ what over the last 30 years or so Maori have fought so hard to gain back from what was once lost in a society of imposed European dominance. I wonder if someone from the indigenous people of NZ would look at the countries mentioned (Australia, USA and South Africa) and see what has happened to the indigenous peoples of that land and become a little concerned about that ‘attitude’ following migrants to this country. She may be concerned that the culture that is demonstrated in that country may be brought here and imposed on her culture. I find that a reasonable position. I can understand what the sentiments behind what Ms. Mutu appears to be saying. I don’t endorse, nor do I know if those sentiments are correct…but I understand why she may have them.

So is this a racist sentiment? Well that’s probably a relative question depending on who you are, however my interest in how we are responding to this controversy. Is society’s reaction to this balanced? Are we reacting to Margaret Mutu as we would any other person showing this kind of position in society? What would we do if another member of society said what Margaret Mutu has said…but maybe about another ethnic group or ‘colour’…answer…we elect them!

The Rt. Honourable Winston Peters made his name in the last few terms he was a member of parliament telling NZ that we would have out culture, or way of life and our place in society taken away from us unless we restricted Asian, and third world, immigration. Margaret Mutu says “white” and we lose our minds, Winston Peters says “yellow” and many seem okay with that. Even this year he has begun his tried and true yellow peril argument telling a Grey Power meeting that immigrants threaten the lives and living standards of elderly New Zealanders.

Winston Peters’ argument is the same as Margaret Mutu’s and I disagree with them both, and if you don’t you may have a little ‘Mutu’ (or maybe Peters) in you.

For you to react to Margaret Mutu over the past week with distain, to disagree with her position, then you are someone who agrees with immigration no matter what race, religion or country that someone comes from.

Mutu is saying that a culture, that is foreign to hers, shouldn’t come here because it makes her nervous, and she doesn’t want to see it influence her. For you to disagree with that sentiment then you need to be welcoming to cultures, religion and practices contrary to your…or maybe you have a little Mutu in you.

So what about it….how would you like to see Islam, or Somalian, or Communist, or any cultural, political, sociological or religious influence on your culture that is foreign to you.

If you’re uncomfortable with any of those then I have to say you do have a little Mutu in you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Interview

Last year, on the 9th anniversary of 9/11 I spoke with Dr Gene Corely and Mike Berger about the collapse of the twin towers.

Dr Corley is basically the world expert in why buildings fall down and headed the FEMA report into what happened with the twin towers and Mr Berger is the media spokesman for 911truth.org and a documentary maker.

An interesting conversation then occurred...

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

The thing I find difficult with the Berger account is that there has to be so many leaps of faith...It wasn't a controlled demolition that we have seen before, it was a new kind of controlled demolition. The thermite was not your usual kind of thermite etc...

It is also very hard to denounce personal experience. A perfect example is Mike talks about building 7 not having any debris of any significance falling away from the building, then Dr Corley basically says, "Well I stood there, saw that your statement is wrong, and took photos of how far the debris went away from building 7"...kind of hard to rebut that.

Don't get me wrong I think there are some unanswered questions about the Pentagon, but as for the reason the twin towers collapsed...I am happy to go with Dr. Corley on this one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Urewera 18 deserve an apology

So the Minister of Police has issued a statement saying there would be no apology to the Urewera 18 since charges have been dropped against most of them.

The Crown and the Police should absolutely apologise.

The Police have said there wasn't enough evidence to proceed against all but four of the accused, quick question...why did that take four years to figure out?

The 'news' we heard all those years ago about military style training camps, terrorism, Molotov Cocktails, firearms etc...that led the police to lay charges surely would lead us all to believe that there was easily enough evidence to take all involved to court.

Quick question, why can a charge be laid when there is insufficient evidence?

If the evidence is there to lay charges, then it should be there to continue with the charges…unless the evidence was never there.

There should be an apology and the reason is simple.

If it was you or I that had been dragged through this for four years…then we’d want one. We, the law abiding, non-minority, middle class centre of NZ would want an apology no matter what we had…or hadn’t done.

If the police have trumped up the charges…an apology is needed.

If the police have stuffed up the case…an apology is needed.

If the police put you or I through 4 years of being accused terrorists, to the detriment of our families, relationships and finances then just threw it all in saying “not enough evidence” we’d demand an apology.

And the people of NZ deserve an apology from the police; this is the second case this month where public money has been spent in the vicinity of $1 million…only to have the case dropped.

What about an apology to us for this funding that has basically been thrown in the fire and burnt.

I have no idea what happened in Te Urewera’s for these arrests to have taken place, I don’t neither support, nor do I condemn, the so called Urewera 18. All I know is that if you or I were put through what they were put through we’d expect, and deserve, an apology.

Why should it be any different for them? 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do our minor parties have the membership to be eligible for the 2011 election?

I wonder if any of our minor parties are ineligible for the 2011 election.

A fact that I just found out from the Electoral Office is that not only does a group need to attain 500 members to become a party, it also needs to keep 500 on its books to remain a legal entity.

The Electoral Finance Act (1993) states in Section 67, Clause 3 that
It shall be the duty of the secretary of any political party registered under this Act—
(Part d) to notify the Electoral Commission if the number of current financial members of the party who are eligible to enrol as electors falls below 500

The Act goes on to explain in section 70, clause 2 of the ramifications of not keeping membership above 500, “The Electoral Commission shall cancel the registration of any political party on being satisfied that the number of current financial members of the party who are eligible to enrol as electors has fallen below 500.

Political parties are duty bound to provide a declaration every year that their membership is above 500 and the Electoral Office pretty much takes that as gospel. Officially they can challenge the declaration if they are not satisfied, in doing this the Electoral Office can request the members list, and for evidence on how the information on the list was gathered. I am reliably informed this ‘challenge’ has never happened to any party.

To be a member on a political party list you must be an eligible voter which means you must be living, over 18, a NZ Citizen who has been in the country sometime in the past three years or a Permanent Resident who has been in the country sometime in the past 12 months. Finally you must not be incarcerated at the time of the election.

So of our minor parties, are there any that don’t fulfil that membership criteria?

I have just spoken with ‘Margaret’ at ACT’s head office and asked her about how many members ACT has, and how they check if their members are eligible voters. Margaret let me know that they had about 1,000 members and when they send out renewal forms they had to sign the bottom declaring they were over 18. ACT does not check any of the other criteria to ensure their members are eligible voters. Margaret tells me that she would know if any of the members were not in the country during the previous 3 years as ‘the membership is so small’ that she knows them all. When I questioned her on ‘knowing’ 1,000 people I was informed that the board members check to see if anyone was off shore making them ineligible.

‘Michael’ at The Greens tells me that they check to make sure their members are eligible by comparing names of members to the electoral role. The Greens say if they are eligible to vote, they are eligible members…not strictly true when you think that this process must happen every year as a declaration to the Electoral Office which means in theory members could vote in an election, then move offshore for a period of time (or end up in prison) and no longer be eligible.

The Maori Party openly accept members who are not eligible, they have some members as young as 13 years of age, and their checks on the criteria around location is based around someone’s address. However they have 15,000 active members according to Te Orohi Paul, which would mean even if there are some members who would breach the criteria they would still have more than enough to breach the 500 threshold.

The Revenue Minister and Honourable Peter Dunne spoke to me personally when I phoned United Future, and whilst first stating UF won’t disclose numbers of memberships stating the membership was ‘substantially in excess of [500]’, by the end of our cordial chat, and upon hearing that other parties had disclosed their numbers, Mr. Dunne estimated the membership to be around the 800 mark. When pressed about how UF confirms that his membership is eligible I was told that there was a revamp of how they do it this year, including conversations with the Electoral Office and a new form was in place. On the new form there was now a place to make sure the members are eligible. The form asks if the member is over 18, and eligible to vote. Nowhere on the form does it explain actually what criteria are needed to be fulfilled to be eligible.

Although they are not in parliament presently, and most don’t seem to think they’ll be there after November 26th, I thought it might be interesting to find out how NZ First has gone with its membership since 2008. Membership Secretary Tracey Martin explained that it was party policy that they would not release how many members they have, explaining that it was no use to anyone but her to know that number. She made it clear that she had to sign the declaration with the Electoral Office each year and that was all the information that I should require. They do check their memberships against the electoral role and they must have a valid NZ address which once again puts them in the same camp as The Greens where NZ First is putting the onus of truth onto their members that the information they are giving is true on whether they are eligible.

The idea around looking at minor party membership began when I heard ‘whispers’ that ACT and United Future didn’t have the 500 members required to be eligible party to compete in the election…pure rumour no evidence given, however an interesting observation began to take shape when I told the various minor parties about what I was writing about without mentioning what rumours I had heard, they almost all mentioned ACT and United Future not having 500 members. Was this true...or  had I become a patsy in a smear campaign against two of the minor parties supporting the National Government?

So are ACT and United Future viable? Was their claim to me that that had 1,000 and 800 members respectively accurate?

I told ACT of the whispers and asked if there were prepared to release their list of members, or provide other evidence of their numbers to dispel the rumour and was told by Party Secretary Gary Mallet that he ‘was not interested in dispelling the myth’ and ‘why would [he] do that…what was in it for [him]?’ and then he promptly hung up. Likewise United Future, upon hearing of the rumour said they had more members than required to ‘satisfy the 500.’

I don’t necessarily think there is a smoking gun here, it’s not my place to accuse party members that their telling ‘porkies’ about their numbers, but the reason I started this wee investigation is that it seems fair that if a new party starting out needs 500 members ala Mana and the Conservative Party then it would seem appropriate that incumbent parties are held to the same standard.

Let me make one thing clear, I am not accusing ACT or United Future of misleading the Electoral Office the idea that a political party would make a false declaration to the Electoral Office is very serious, but what I can say unequivocally is that no party is fulfilling the criteria to ensure that their members are eligible voters. All parties are asking their members to signify that they are eligible, however they are not expecting proof and/or they are not providing the information for their members to know whether they are eligible or not.

Again I don’t suspect that there is a smoking gun here, but this is the highest court in the land, surely we have a duty of care to do things properly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why the '81 Springbok Tour needed to happen

An article from the Dominion Post came out today with that famous pantyhose wearing rugby player, Alan Hewson, saying that the 1981 Springbok Tour should not have happened. I disagree.

Alan Hewson says he now is thirty years older that "maybe the Government shouldn't have allowed the tour to take place." I disagree.

I understand the sentiment that comes with the idea that we should not have been a part of the racist regime that ruled South Africa for so long, and with the idea that as a young man you may not make the best decisions, but with 30 years hindsight you could also come to another conclusion.

The protests of that 1981 tour did something to the atmosphere of racism in South Africa, it shone a light on it like never before, it brought to the world a new, ugly understanding, of what some people thought of the apartheid movement. Without the tour that never would have happened, without the tour apartheid may have lasted another 6 months?..6years?..60 years? Well it is fairly arrogant to make the argument that the protests against the tour were the reason for the downfall of apartheid...but there did something to its inevitable decline.

To the people in South Africa who were fighting the system the protests were an inspiration, a shot in the arm to help them continue the fight for their cause. In 1995 Nelson Mandela was in NZ and said in 1981 when he heard of the protests that “the sun shone into the dark cells of Robin Island and transformed the oppressive Soweto dungeons of despair into beacons of hope.” Without the tour this would not have happened. Each one of those protesters should be proud that they brought hope to this man, and his fellow oppressed.

There's an old saying that all things can be used for good...I dunno if I'd go that far, but my hindsight of 30 years says that Nelson Mandela needed that tour, South Africa needed that tour, the world needed that tour to shine a light as bright as the sun on the evil nature of how South Africa was run.

Hindsight brings perspective. If you want an example of what I mean watch the movie Invictus, starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. It's the story of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and whilst there is no 'Suzie', and plenty of Hollywood schmaltz, the basic story is that South Africa needed to win that World Cup to help unite the country. With hindsight, and that knowledge, I don't mind that SA beat us in the final.

Here's a clip...

If Alan Hewson was to ever read this I would say to him that he was an unknowing, unwitting pawn in one of the most important sporting events in recent history that made a tangible difference to the lives of millions of blacks in South Africa, and whilst I agree that Sports and Politics are intrinsically intertwined, with hindsight this is one of the times it worked for good

Friday, July 22, 2011

Awful Quiet on Here

So yes, I've had emails and FB messages asking me if this site still is actually in motion...and the answer is 'Yes!'

Forgive me if you are regular here, but in the last two months we have moved house, started another new business, and have spent the last 5 weeks fixing up the house we moved into.

As from next week it's all really behind us so I look forward to getting back into updating the site often.

I think leading up to the election I will be posting more on the politics of the nation and less on my personal life, maybe FB is the place to be personal, here is all business ;o)

We'll see how the next few months go...oh and BTW

ACT will win Epsom, National has thrown them a bone and Winston will miss out...just to give you a taster :o)