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’”

Spark will be cheered by endorsement of UK’s handling of the Huawei spying threat

New Zealand  may  have been  presented with  a  model  to  follow  in  dealing  with the Chinese giant technology  firm  Huawei.  According to London’s  “The Economist”  Britain has struck an artful compromise on Huawei and 5G, even though many Americans and other friends of Britain will be appalled by its decision and fear the country is being naive and toadying up to China..

But, in an editorial, The Economist reckons  the UK’s  measured approach to dealing with the controversial Chinese firm is a model for other countries.

Britain’s decision matters: it is a member of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance led by America, and was one of the first Western economies in which Huawei built a presence. Britain also has experience of electronic spying and knows Huawei well.

“Far from being a betrayal, Britain’s approach, of using the firm’s gear on the edges of 5G networks, under close supervision, offers a sensible framework for limited commercial engagement while protecting Britain’s security and that of its allies.” Continue reading “Spark will be cheered by endorsement of UK’s handling of the Huawei spying threat”

Little was apologetic about NZ’s justice system – now let’s see if the Saudis crucify us

When was an official crucifixion or beheading last conducted in this country and – if readers can recall the occasion – what offence had been committed by the person being put to death?

Point of Order asks because:

  1. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed a man by crucifixion in the holy city of Mecca a few months ago, according to a report in Business Insider AustraliaCrimes in Saudi Arabia such as homosexuality and attending anti-government rallies have previously led to crucifixion sentences. Unlike the biblical crucifixions carried out by the Romans against Christians in antiquity, Saudi crucifixions usually involve displaying a beheaded corpse in public on a cross.
  2. NZ’s Justice Minister Andrew Little last week stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to confronted criticism made about New Zealand’s human rights record. Saudi Arabia was represented on the panel which considered this country’s  performance.

In a fair and decent world, Little should have been demanding the Saudis lift their game in the human rights department.  Instead he became alarmingly craven. Continue reading “Little was apologetic about NZ’s justice system – now let’s see if the Saudis crucify us”

Try not to laugh when you see who sits on the UN body that will evaluate NZ’s human rights performance

The challenge for Justice Minister Andrew Little, when he faces the UN Human Rights Council, will be keeping a straight face.

This outfit has an august-sounding name.  Its membership is a joke.

During his flight to Switzerland to meet the council, Little might care to muse on the Saudi teenager who has been granted asylum in Canada where she arrived amid a diplomatic row between Ottawa and Riyadh over Canadian criticism of Saudi Arabia’s rights record, particularly a recent crackdown on women’s rights activists.

The teenager’s arrival coincided, too, with a deepening of global concern about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an outrage that has drawn attention to the global reach of Saudi Arabia’s leaders.

Little might muse, too, on the antics of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has taken the lives of thousands in the Philippines and who last year announced plans to create a “death squad” targeting suspected Communist rebels. Continue reading “Try not to laugh when you see who sits on the UN body that will evaluate NZ’s human rights performance”

Andrew Little sounded a warning about murder-case reporting to local media, too – but were they listening?

Justice Minister Andrew Little, who is in charge of a bill which amends the country’s contempt of court laws, should have a reasonable grasp of the implications for the justice system when news media ignore suppression orders.  He should also have a reasonable grasp of how challenging it is to make a suppression order stick – in the internet era – when anything published or broadcast overseas can quickly be recirculated in this country.

But he gave it a go, yesterday, and chided British media for revealing suppressed details from the Grace Millane murder case.

If they want justice for Ms Millane and her family, they should refrain from publishing information, he urged.

Continue reading “Andrew Little sounded a warning about murder-case reporting to local media, too – but were they listening?”

Not all mothers welcome Pike River re-entry decision as a ‘victory for families’

The headline at Stuff – playing on emotions that have been running high for years on the West Coast – highlighted a “victory for families and the little people”. 

The headline quote was provided by “an elated Anna Osborne” after the Government gave the all-clear for a $23 million manned re-entry into Pike River Mine, where 29 men died in an explosion eight years ago.

The aim of re-entry, as the Stuff report explained, is to gather any evidence of what might have caused the methane explosion (which implies there can be no certainty the evidence will be found). Continue reading “Not all mothers welcome Pike River re-entry decision as a ‘victory for families’”

Family Court: we thought Labour had the answers in 2014 but it now wants more advice

Justice Minister Andrew Little today welcomed the release of a public consultation paper by the Independent Panel considering the 2014 family justice reforms.  So should we all.

The panel is calling for public submissions, inviting everyone with experience of the family justice system to share their stories and have their say about how family justice services can be improved.

Among the changes introduced by Judith Collins as Justice Minister in 2014, mediation was required before parents could apply to the Family Court and lawyers were removed from the early stages of some court proceedings.

The aim was to help people resolve parenting disputes without having to go to court.

She said she expected the caseload would reduce significantly. Continue reading “Family Court: we thought Labour had the answers in 2014 but it now wants more advice”

Peters turns from maverick to statesman – and may further blossom beyond 2020

Winston Peters  heads   for  Singapore this week,  after completing  his  six-week term as  acting PM,  for  several  high-level meetings, including a vital one with  US Secretary of  State  Mike  Pompeo.

He came to the  prime  ministerial  role (even if it was no more than a fleeting moment in a political career spanning 44 years)  as  if  to the manner born.  He has kept  ministers across  three parties  in line and  run a  mature  and serious leadership,  at the same  time working hard in  his  own patch of foreign affairs.  Continue reading “Peters turns from maverick to statesman – and may further blossom beyond 2020”