Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dirty Politics

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  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Rob S,

    Dirty politics in the context of the Nats hasn’t gone away.
    Jason Ede, Whaleoil, Lusk, all those other bottom feeders are still out there and with this bandage ripped off we can see how they operate all bankrolled on a nod and a wink donations with a pat on the back in the honours list.

    What frightens me is how much the Nats are completely for sale to the highest bidder. If the money from China is good enough, they’d turn Quislings and sell us all down the river then retire to a mansion somewhere without the slightest qualm.

    Someone once said the National MPs primarily saw NZ as a place to make money, as opposed to primarily a place where they lived.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • izogi, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    What frightens me is how much the Nats are completely for sale to the highest bidder.

    Is it reasonable to say that the National Party's likely to be a more enviable target for this sort of crap right now, due to its voter base? My impression's been that Labour tends to be affected much more substantially by scandal and general disgust than National.

    Maybe that's because National's traditional voting base is made from people who'll always vote, and (if that's what it takes) will hold their nose and vote for what they see as the least worst option no matter how much they might despise it. A classic running-interference line through so much of late 2014 was "but they all do it!" [so it doesn't make a difference].

    Traditional Labour voters, as far as I can tell, seem more likely to find another party if they feel disillusioned by Labour, and they usually have more options, or otherwise just not bother to vote at all.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    A comprehensive political analysis of the Bridges/Ross taped conversation with implications re the Chinese communist infiltration strategy has just been posted here: https://thestandard.org.nz/no-smoking-gun-but-plenty-of-sunlight-from-bridges-tape/

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Neil,

    Before forming an opinion on how National responded to Ross’ sexual harassment I’d like to hear from the four women involved what their views on that are.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Neil, in reply to mark taslov,

    Yes, I’ve seen those. I was more interested in what the woman had to say about how the Nats handled their situation. It’s hard to judge how it was delt with without knowing that.

    Now it seems it was common knowledge in parliament that Ross was a predator. Well if it was then why so much silence from everyone.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • simon g,

    The whole thing is just nauseating now. Popcorn for the first 24 hours or so, but it's hard to find much fun in some of these toxic stories. Misogyny - yay! Racism - woo hoo! Total unanimity - sorry, total treachery. One turns into the other at a moment's notice.

    Unfortunately there's a TVNZ poll out this weekend. I say "unfortunately" because the last thing I want to hear is horse race commentary on issues of right and wrong: "National only down 1 point, so it's all good!". I doubt that Colmar-Brunton will be offering respondents the option of "I oppose government policies but I'd like them to be opposed by non-shitty people".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Let's not forget National's ongoing OIA request assault on the Labour Government - word on the street is that the National Party have fired off over 30,000 Official Information Act requests for information since losing power - effectively cheerfully pouring sand into the engine of government - not very helpful for the country really, but I suspect NZ and its people are not National's first priority.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Neil,

    One of the woman involved has said she has no issue with how her complaint was handled by the National Party. No doubt Ross, given she may look to stand in Botany, will be tempted to challenge her integrity by alleging political motivations.

    Highly narcissistic, predatory males such as Ross are often very difficult to deal to. They have the ability to appear to be the nicest person in the world, they’re highly adept at playing people off against each other and their lack of conscience allows them to lie with the utmost sincerity.

    In his TV appearance he had a lot of people fooled.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    They can detect all kinds of things from blood, sweat, tears and urine these days - perhaps mandatory testing on all MPs before each session - just as a health check and whether there's any substance abuse in their relationship with the truth...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    It's the old Jekyll & Hyde thing. Can't use either/or logic because both are part of him. Physicists use wavicle as a conceptual reframe of the particle/wave dichotomy, as a result of experiments showing both aspects of electrons are real and you can prove both (depending which experimental design you use).

    That was a century ago, almost, and a slow leakage of both/and logic into culture since informs us that holism works better than reductionism as a general rule. Studying computing in '69, I got taught how to use both/and logic in electronic circuit design. Binary thinking is such a mental trap. We must encourage folks to transcend it.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Chinese communist infiltration strategy

    Good piece that – very interesting to see Andrew Little’s name crop up

    Chinese communist party also has close links to Labour politicians like Andrew Little and Phil Goff, who was the recipient of substantial donations for his Auckland mayoralty campaign.

    Which does kind of bring into focus the implication that in spite of the obvious racism of the “Chinese Sounding names” fiasco – the heightened specificity of the messaging could be construed as conforming to CCP policy, in tandem with the PRC Government’s insubstantive domestic attempts to crack down on the exodus of capital:

    For Chinese citizens, it is theoretically illegal for them to move money out of the country to buy property. However, judging from the crowds at the Luxury Property Showcase, an international property fair that tours Chinese cities, you would hardly know.

    Tangentially Tze Ming Mok wrote a wonderfully nuanced non-partisan article on ‘Chinese’ donations in today’s Herald

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to mark taslov,

    Thanks for that, Mark. An excellent perspective on the situation! "Tze Ming Mok is a writer and social researcher specialising in race and ethnicity, whose parents are from Singapore and Malaysia." I'll include a key section here:

    "This chilling effect is harming Chinese people in New Zealand. Many people cannot differentiate Chinese people from the actions of the CCP (I mean hey, many people can't tell a Chinese from a Korean), but this is made worse when hardly any authorities on the topic will address the issue openly. Concerns can only erupt as xenophobia against the Chinese and "Asian" population."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Neil,

    Some one else with a background of atrocious behaviour towards women and motivated by revenge not so long leaked selective information to cause political damage. With some success. And disconcertingly amassed quite the cult following. And like any entitled male didn’t do any housework.

    It’s hard to know how best to counter the man with the grudge. They are highly focused and motivated whereas their opponents are hampered by having to play fair. They assault and kill their ex-partners out of jealous, processive rage.

    Winston Peters is a classic case. A narcissist driven by revenge. But he’s got that charm that cons so many people.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Further to that, there's this: "An academic who specialises in studying China's political influence in New Zealand says politicians need to upskill to prevent foreign government interference." https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/369008/academic-warns-against-interference-after-national-revelations

    ""The real threat that I'm paying attention to in this story is the failure of our political parties to prevent foreign government interference into our democratic political processes. The matters we need to look into is the connection of some of these donors, not all of them... to the Chinese party state. The Chinese Communist Party is an elite party and they have a tactic, which was set by Lenin... and it's called the United Front. It's a way to influence non-party members and in the case of foreign policy, foreigners."

    And this: "On Tuesday evening, University of Canterbury professor and well-known China expert, Anne-Marie Brady said Zhang was a leader in the Chinese Government’s United Front work activities. The United Front is the Chinese Government’s department that helps keep unity and promote the party’s values in China and among the Chinese diaspora. Brady has written extensively about Chinese influence in New Zealand in her paper Magic Weapons, which was published last year, and has since been cited by China experts around the world."

    Fortunately, communist infiltration of NZ is okay if the agent used fronts as a capitalist. The old `wolf in sheep's clothing' strategy. You can see our governor-general awarding the agent this country's second-highest honour - photo in the newsroom report. That honour was created "to recognise outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity."

    Zhang was apparently recommended for the honour by our recent National government, and this was mandated by the current coalition government. So it's official, folks. We have a multi-party consensus support for chinese communist infiltration of Aotearoa, provided that the agents used operate as capitalists. This capitalist/socialist collusion ought to warm the hearts of kiwis everywhere. No longer any need for the fake competition between the left & right!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Bernard Hickey advises the PM to take the initiative: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/@politics/2018/10/17/280568/follow-the-money-and-the-influence

    "We need to take a hard look at who is donating money to our politicians and why. And we need to stop pussy-footing around the elephant in the room that is China's influence on New Zealand politics. We need inquiries into both the transparency of our Electoral Finance Act and the activities of the Chinese Government in New Zealand public life. Our Australian partners and colleagues were not afraid to do both. We should follow suit."

    "Stuff reported last year that 83 per cent ($8.7m over six years) of the money donated to National was from anonymous donors, and 80 per cent ($2.8m) of that donated to Labour was done anonymously."

    "Jian Yang's continued presence in Parliament without any critical public comment by all of the political establishment is still stunning."

    "Newsroom reported in a joint investigation with the FT in September last year on his training in Chinese military intelligence for more than a decade and his still very close links to the Chinese Government. At one point he was the Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee and a close adviser to then-Prime Minister John Key during negotiations with President Xi Jingping. WInston Peters called for an inquiry into Yang's background before the election, but he has been much more circumspect to the point of silence since then. However he admitted to NPR earlier this month that the MP's continued presence in Parliament was concerning New Zealand's allies."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Additional to my point yesterday, another well researched article this morning places Twyford with Zhang.

    With regard to this:

    Bernard Hickey advises the PM to take the initiative:

    Bearing in mind the key positions some ex-Parliamentary luminaries now occupy – as someone whose been calling this on these boards for a decade – this does strike me as a little naïve. Facetiously, perhaps we could appeal to our Head of State? Certainly Marie-Anne Brady’s call is entirely warranted.

    "We need to upskill our local politicians and our national politicians in our public sector. In the ‘abc’ of the Chinese party state, we’ve got to be able to engage with China and understand it, but also recognise the risks."

    Having, like Yang Jian, also previously taught English for the PLA, it’s been evident for quite some time (well before the FTA was signed) that the PRC sees the New Zealand political establishment as a soft touch when it comes to negotiation and the current administration has shown no great indication of being a notable departure on that note.

    Which brings us back to doh:

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been conspicuous in her lack of comment on Jian Yang and on the role of Chinese influence in New Zealand politics. She has also not criticised China directly over its South China Sea incursions or the persecution of minorities in China.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to mark taslov,

    It’s also worth highlighting that what Hickey is euphemistically describing as “the persecution of minorities” is being widely reported as the incarceration of up to 1 million Uighur Muslim, which the CCP is now defending.

    Our leaders’ deafening silence around this most monumental of human rights issues nudges calls from within Government for an enquiry into the fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi into stark relief.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • simon g,

    Danyl Mclauchlan nails it.

    "Empowering a faction of ruthless, amoral assholes whose only goal was to destroy everyone around them has been a predictable disaster for National."

    It's a quality piece of commentary, perhaps the best I've seen in the past week.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to simon g,


    Political scientists have a term for this type of behaviour: they call it a gift economy. It’s the same form of unspoken reciprocity as when we exchange presents at Christmas or invite friends to weddings. No one ever says, “You can come to our reception if you buy us something expensive and invite us to your own wedding when we will give you something equally nice.” That would be a weird breach of etiquette. Everyone knows how it works but no one says anything – which is vital from a legal standpoint: for a donation to function as a bribe under the Crimes Act a prosecutor needs to prove it was made to reward or influence them; the unspoken ‘gift economy’ nature of the transactions makes that impossible.

    Which does by inference put a damper on some of the more simplistic kneejerk reactions I’ve seen being bandied about over the last week with regard to "tightening up" our electoral donations laws – as well as informing our perceptions of New Zealand as least corrupt country.

    Marama Davidson is spot on in pushing for a "major rethink", by contrast Peters is in public denial as to the extent the rot has set in (across the major parties at the very least), but the anonymity of donations is – as the link above suggests – not the system’s key weakness.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to simon g,

    Indeed. Eight out of ten. "‘Politics should be about policy and values,’ is a sentiment we’ve heard from a few commentators in response to recent events; an understandable reaction to the torrent of malice and lies vomiting out of the many orifices of the National Party. And that’s all very well and good, but for professional politicians ‘values’ are mostly just a form of marketing".

    That last bit sums up a significant part of my ongoing irritation with the Green Party modus operandi (I've been a member since the 2014 election, and was a member 1990-95). I think I'm a typical kiwi in preferring politicians to be non-robotic. "When two of the Green Party’s backbench MPs quit the caucus during last years’ election campaign, they didn’t know how to send a press release or log on to social media, or when the tv deadlines were." Old-fashioned men, but at least they had a conscience & were averse to being hijacked by a primadonna.

    "Ross, by contrast is a media-trained front-bencher for a major party, and it shows. He dominated the news cycle for three solid days, outperforming his leader during his standups". My impression too. Not what we expect from a narcissist or a psychotic, the labels applied to him by his NP colleagues. You ever see a prominent narcissist confess to having had a mental breakdown before? Don't think I have. Egotism normally prevents admission of weakness.

    So, watching the Nats trying to paint him as delusional, I find their performance unconvincing thus far! I'd go for suprisingly competent instead. "He was a supporter of Judith Collins, a friend of Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk, who has been advising him through this trainwreck. They comprise the core of the nihilist faction of the National Party". Mitchell, most likely to replace Bridges, is also a client of Lusk according to the media. Conspiracy theorists have a sound evidentiary basis upon which to proceed.

    Which could rather explain JLR's effortless sure-fire performances, eh? Such confidence and assuredness is more likely to derive from anchoring his dissidence in a peer-group context than from narcissism. "Lots of politicians from across the political spectrum resort to unethical tactics to achieve their goals, but what was so unusual about the Dirty Politics crowd is that they didn’t seem to have any goals". Danyl's nihilism thesis. But what's wrong with power for its own sake?

    He identifies the "gift economy" as "a form of corruption that’s very palatable for our political class." Nat/Lab collusion on amendments to our electoral law making it possible would validate that. Nats have done plenty, haven't seen evidence Labour has yet. But it could be why Labour isn't criticising National for using the loophole in the law to funnel the 100K through. "It’s rare for the major parties to break the laws around political donations because they get to write the law. It’s designed to work for them, to allow them to solicit money while concealing their funders."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • linger, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    It’s designed to work for them, to allow them to solicit money while concealing their funders.

    Which works exactly up to the point where it puts off voters from supporting the party perceived as most egregiously benefitting from that state of affairs. So far any such alienation of voters has reduced overall turnout, but has not greatly harmed National. Possibly their voters are ideologically more likely to see such self-serving behaviour as unexceptionable, or even desirable. How bad does it need to get before it alienates National’s base? We might be about to find out.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    To be fair linger I doubt many voters have the enthusiasm to wade through campaign donation lists – e.g. that the National Party received $150,000 from the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry is kind of meaningless to the average citizen unless the names are already of public interest and even then there is a very real prospect of further exacerbating “Chinese sounding names” style reactionism. For most voters I'd presume the status quo ‘Politics should be about policy and values,’ will remain.

    I’m wary of overstatements regarding the constuency’s attention span without knowing if there are competing reasons for confidentiality. Having said that I personally know of no public interest in preserving confidentiality – resolutely aware that those with the means have plenty of ways to skin a cat at their disposal e.g. using companies.

    haven’t seen evidence Labour has yet.

    Though historical, I’ll leave this here:

    Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming “close to” $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations – but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.

    Liu, to whom Labour gave permanent residency against official advice, says his earlier signed statement on the wine auction was “capable of two meanings” and after repeated inquiries from the Herald he says he wants to clarify what he spent the $100,000 on.

    with regard to:

    "allow them to solicit money while concealing their funders.”

    What caught my interest in those links above – beyond the who’s who – was the proportionality between Labour and National’s $5000-15000 (2m:4.9m) versus $15000+ (1m:2.6m) donations.

    Bearing in mind.

    Political scientist Bryce Edwards said international research showed large donations usually followed electoral success, rather than the other way around.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to mark taslov,

    Further to this:

    Despite over half of major political cash comes from donations of over $15,000 (Stuff Jun 20 2017), four out of every five dollars donated to big parties is in secret (Stuff Aug 20 2017).

    In terms of reconfiguring the legislation it would be remiss to overlook both:

    However, political parties are adept at using loopholes to mask donors by trusts and other aggregators, like fundraising dinners and art auctions.

    and with this in mind:

    In the 12 September exchange Ross asks if it is a “sticking point” that there has been some trouble tracking some individual donors of the wider load of money, all of whom gave under $15,000.

    Hamilton replies that the party does need a name and address and “many of the addresses provided don’t match what is on the electoral role."

    in taking into account Brady’s recommendation that we better understand "the ‘abc’ of the Chinese party state" the mainland cultural normalcy of spreading larger "problematic" transactions among family and networks as per (from over the page):

    For Chinese citizens, it is theoretically illegal for them to move money out of the country to buy property. However, judging from the crowds at the Luxury Property Showcase, an international property fair that tours Chinese cities, you would hardly know.

    which brings us back to dough:

    It’s rare for the major parties to break the laws around political donations because they get to write the law. It’s designed to work for them, to allow them to solicit money while concealing their funders.

    as in; the only thing to fear is capitalism itself.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Neil, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    You ever see a prominent narcissist confess to having had a mental breakdown before?

    A narcissist will try and avoid responsibility for their own actions and also play on public sympathy - in this case by claiming to be mentally ill.

    He claimed mental illness when he is not unwell in order to cultivate public sympathy. And quite successfully.

    He continues to portray himself as a victim and blame others for his own failings. Classic narcissism.

    It’s a common strategy of anti social males.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

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