Here’s hoping our new govt gets the message about intelligence from GSCB’s role in exposing Russian hackers

Three cheers for the GSCB.  It has been lauded by the US FBI and intelligence agencies for its role in uncovering Russian covert intelligence activities around the world.

The Minister in Charge of the intelligence services, Andrew Little, expressed surprise we had been named – but this is a wake-up call to the new government, which is woefully short of experience and hard realities in the wider world – and a reflection on how much NZ services are valued by allies.

This is the story: On October 15 a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned an indictment charging six computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the Russian Federation (Russia) and officers in Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers; FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich; U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady; and Special Agents in Charge of the FBI’s Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Pittsburgh Field Offices, J.C. “Chris” Hacker, Melissa R. Godbold, and Michael A. Christman, respectively. Continue reading “Here’s hoping our new govt gets the message about intelligence from GSCB’s role in exposing Russian hackers”

Andrew Little should check out hate crime policing in the UK – and the observations of British judges

News from Britain about the policing of hate crime laws should be must holiday reading for Justice Minister Andrew Little, who for several months has been considering making hate crime an offence in this country.

Stuff in March revealed a series of racially-motivated incidents in Christchurch after 50 people were killed in mosque shootings.

The incidents included a Muslim woman being denied entry to a bus and a swastika spray-painted on a fence in the spot where the alleged gunman was arrested.

We would have thought New Zealand had laws enough to deal with the miscreants in those cases but Little saw the opportunity for political grandstanding and declared he was fast-tracking a widespread review of this country’s existing hate speech legislation.

The review would include deciding if hate crime should be established as its own separate offence, as it is in the United Kingdom.

But one British initiative – the establishment in London of a police unit for tackling online hate crime – has brought charges against less than one per cent of internet trolls it has probed.

Continue reading “Andrew Little should check out hate crime policing in the UK – and the observations of British judges”

Little wins award for Beehive bollocks after bragging of “ban” on foreign political donations

Andrew Little comfortably won the “bollocks” award when the Point of Order team sifted through puzzling or contentious headlines from the Beehive yesterday.

Among the contenders were –

This introduced a press statement which said the new independent Cancer Control Agency, formally opened yesterday, was ”delivering on the Government’s plan to improve cancer care in New Zealand”.

The statement included the names of the advisory council members who will be supporting the new agency and outlined key components of the Government’s plan to improve cancer care and control.

But why – we wonder – has it not been called the Cancer Care Agency or something similarly caring?  “Control” implies a dubious ambition to maintain the incidence of cancer at current levels, rather than to reduce it. It also implies a central government obsession with keeping a firm grip on whatever happens in the domain of cancer treatment and care.  Continue reading “Little wins award for Beehive bollocks after bragging of “ban” on foreign political donations”

Here’s why a disappointed blogger is proposing a pay cut for MPs on Parliament’s Justice Select Committee

Malcolm Harbrow, at No Right Turn, has picked up on an important governance issue which our web search (a brief one, we acknowledge) suggests was missed by the mainstream media.

The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from Parliament’s Justice Select Committee yesterday. Harbrow would have been monitoring its progress because he was one of around 15 people who made submissions to the committee.

Today he reports:

But there’s no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn’t bother to produce one.

They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which includes 4 National MPs), and National’s opposition to the bill, they couldn’t pass one. Oddly though they couldn’t even produce a “we could not agree, but let’s fix the typos” report which is usual in such circumstances.

The net result: if you submitted on this bill, congratulations: you wasted your time.   Continue reading “Here’s why a disappointed blogger is proposing a pay cut for MPs on Parliament’s Justice Select Committee”

Andrew Little’s priggish rebuke suggests “Fascist” might be an acceptable word when his “hate law” is enacted

Justice Minister Andrew Little sounded distinctly priggish, when he chided National’s Nick Smith in Parliament yesterday.

Smith had asked if Little stood by all his statements, policies, and actions on electoral law and referenda?

The answer was yes, he did.

But Little couldn’t resist the temptation to go further and say:

” … I should point out that the accepted plural of ‘referendum’ these days is ‘referendums’.” 

This was a disquieting reminder that the “accepted” way of saying things could well be incorporated in a new “hate” law which Little seems keen to have enacted to curb our freedom to express ourselves.   Continue reading “Andrew Little’s priggish rebuke suggests “Fascist” might be an acceptable word when his “hate law” is enacted”

Little is big on tact as he fields questions related to an array of ministerial portfolios – and to his workload

Is Andrew Little overworked?

The question was raised by TVNZ’s Simon Shepherd in an interview that spanned the Grace Millane case, name suppression orders and Google, abortion law reform, referendums and Winston Peters, the dispute at Ihumatao, and the Labour Party’s handling of sexual harassment  allegations.

Shepherd noted the number of portfolios for which Little is responsible.

He asked:

Okay. Justice, Courts, GCSB, SIS, Treaty negotiations and Pike River – they’re all your portfolios. So why are you carrying such a big load in this coalition government?

Why he is carrying such a big load is a question better addressed to the Prime Minister, who appointed him to those posts. Continue reading “Little is big on tact as he fields questions related to an array of ministerial portfolios – and to his workload”

Law and order rules are being rewritten as Ardern bridles at accusations of leadership failure

It has been a momentous week for the country’s justice system and old-fashioned notions of “law and order”.

First, the Ardern government has said it is considering a report which  recommends the abolition of prisons.  A Maori-led review of the justice system is also urged by this report.

Second, the PM has intervened in a land dispute in Auckland and thereby over-ridden the role of the courts.  

Getting rid of prisons is the remedy ingeniously proposed to reduce the high ratio of Maori inmates in our prisons.

The proposal is contained in the Ināia Tonu Nei: Māori Justice Hui report (here) released during the week. Continue reading “Law and order rules are being rewritten as Ardern bridles at accusations of leadership failure”

The muting of political fulmination: how pamphleteers were brought to book by NZ’s advertising police

Emma Vere-Jones – according to a website in that name  – describes herself as a journalist, author and copywriter.   What distinctions she draws among those different forms of writing are a moot point, assuming she is the same Emma Vere-Jones who has brought a bunch of political pamphleteers to account as “advertisers” for disseminating material with which she disagrees.

Pamphleteering – we should not forget – was an early form of journalistm and in the days before the advent of the periodical press, pamphleteers were the world’s proto-journalists.

As a paper platform for a spectrum of religious fanatics, eccentrics, social commentators, and satirists, the pamphlet evolved as a weapon of propaganda (forged between the fledgling press and Star Chamber censorship) for powerful vested interest groups, political parties, governments – and revolutionists.

The Guttenberg revolution of the Renaissance provided the spark and the Reformation of the sixteenth century the explosive fuel for the pamphleteering phenomenon.

As the pamphlet form took root, then so English prose emerged from its antique form with an extraordinary rash of stylistic innovations to embrace such unlikely postures as subversive fulmination, cod polemic, ferocious satire, and manifesto. In times of religious ferment, civil war, colonial unrest and revolution, such texts – risky or even dangerous to publish – were often the product of secret presses and anonymous authors. Continue reading “The muting of political fulmination: how pamphleteers were brought to book by NZ’s advertising police”

NZ First ministers announce more handouts from the PGF while Mahuta announces money for Maori

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones can’t be in two places at once and so had to share the headlines today, as more handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund were announced.

Jones took care of announcing a dip into the fund to boost economic growth in Otago.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis shared the limelight. He enthused about Clutha Gold being one of the 22 Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail “and we’re delighted to be encouraging more people to get on a bike and experience the beauty of Central Otago through this investment,” he said.

Investment?

The press statement says the PGF will provide a “grant” of $6.5m to the project and the Government’s Cycle Trail Enhancement and Extension Fund will provide an additional $1.5 million.

A press statement from the office of the Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau,  meanwhile, drew attention to a more modest bucket of PGF goodies for the Wairarapa.

In this case New Zealand First’s Ron Mark had the pleasure of making the announcement in Carterton. He is a former mayor of Carterton.

A “strategic investment into the development of whenua” was another announcement today.

Budget 2019 allocates $56.1 million over four years towards implementing the Whenua Māori Programme which Mahuta announced in February.  

We were alerted to these goings-on with taxpayers’ money by the Point of Order Trough Monitor, which keeps tabs on Beehive announcements of government spending, investments, handouts, giveaways – and so on.

The monitor was  triggered by: Continue reading “NZ First ministers announce more handouts from the PGF while Mahuta announces money for Maori”

Now that ‘binding’ has been defined (sort of), let’s anxiously wait for the meaning of ‘hate speech’

The Government seemed to be in a bind about the cannabis referendum to be held at the general election next year.  The dilemma was about whether the referendum should be binding.

Referencing a leaked cabinet paper, National Party drug reform spokeswoman Paula Bennett threw doubt on how binding the referendum would be. 

National declined to release the paper to protect the source (something of an impediment when it comes to establishing the credibility of claims against political opponents) but said only one of four referendum options due to be discussed by Cabinet yesterday might compel the Government to act on the outcome.

The other three possibilities would not be technically “binding” because the government would not be obliged to act on them. Continue reading “Now that ‘binding’ has been defined (sort of), let’s anxiously wait for the meaning of ‘hate speech’”