Parliament is in recess but Kris Faafoi is too busy to discuss proposals for hate-speech laws

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The Minister of Justice appears to have gone into hiding. GRAHAM ADAMS,  writing for The Democracy Project,  provides an update on how the public debate on hate speech regulation is going, especially in terms of whether political opinion should or shouldn’t receive an exemption from new laws.

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It fell to RNZ to break the news to the nation late last week that the Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, had “gone to ground”. Despite making repeated requests to interview him about proposals to expand hate-speech laws, the public broadcaster has been told the minister in charge of managing their introduction is too busy — even during a three-week parliamentary recess — to discuss them.

With her Minister of Justice having gone AWOL ever since a disastrous television interview on the topic a month ago, the Prime Minister’s call for a national debate has lurched from a shambles into farce. The government allowed only six weeks for public submissions and now — with less than two weeks to go until the August 6 deadline — the cat has apparently got Faafoi’s tongue in an iron grip.

On Newshub Nation in late June, Faafoi failed to offer coherent explanations of what kinds of speech would likely fall foul of a new law — including whether Millennials could be prosecuted for expressing hatred against Boomers because of house prices, or whether someone claiming that homosexuals are destined for hell would be liable for prosecution. Continue reading “Parliament is in recess but Kris Faafoi is too busy to discuss proposals for hate-speech laws”

The dangers of putting media on the government’s payroll

Accusations by Stuff journalist Andrea Vance that the Prime Minister leads an unusually secretive government don’t tell the whole story about its desire to control information, says Graham Adams.

He has taken a closer look at the guidelines for the new $55 million journalism fund in an article for the Democracy Project

He writes:

Despite widespread cynicism about the Government’s ability to fulfil its promises — whether it is KiwiBuild, light rail along Dominion Rd, or planting a billion trees —  journalist Andrea Vance still found enough fresh outrage last week to launch a blistering attack over a pledge Jacinda Ardern made in 2017 to lead “a more open and democratic society” that would “strengthen transparency around official information”.

In fact, Ardern’s lack of transparency was on show very early in her prime ministership. Shortly after the 2017 election, she refused to release notes from the coalition negotiations between Labour and NZ First — leading one journalist to opine:

“A month seems early for a new government to dash hopes of a fresh start yet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s team seems determined to break the speed record when it comes to disregard for public transparency.”

From Vance’s standpoint as a journalist, little seems to have improved since then.

The damning conclusion she arrived at after citing delays in responses to Official Information Act requests and ministers’ refusals to be interviewed was:

“At every level, the government manipulates the flow of information.”

It’s not difficult to find other instances of the Government denying access to important information in addition to those Vance mentioned — not least its record of obfuscation over significant details of its Covid-19 management and vaccination programme.

Examples of the kind Vance offered of the government hiding or distorting important information are the most obvious form of political censorship. There is, however, another form of political censorship which can be even more insidious — that is, attempting to impose narratives which suit the government’s purposes and thereby crowd out competing views. Continue reading “The dangers of putting media on the government’s payroll”

Faafoi is far from helpful when asked how business people can avoid being accused of causing cultural offence

The makers of Indiginous gin had a sobering experience after getting the approvals they thought they required from this country’s trade marking and branding authorities.  Their brand name was approved and they went to market with the gin they make at Reikorangi Valley on the Kapiti Coast, only to be intimidated into rebranding and remarketing their product by people who barraged them and their retail outlets with a campaign of abuse and threats.

The owners of a Wellington shop which called itself Huruhuru were reported to have been similarly bombarded with abuse and threats after it emerged the name of their business could mean pubic hair.

The owners of the shop, Aynur and Ercan Karakoc, said they had wanted a name to represent New Zealand and had gone through the proper process without any issues arising.  They say the brand name was approved by IPONZ’s Māori Advisory Committee and they assumed therefore it would not be offensive.

Thus the principals of two businesses – at least – have been harassed and accused of causing cultural offence despite seeking the proper authorisations from the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) and consulting its Maori Advisory Committee. Continue reading “Faafoi is far from helpful when asked how business people can avoid being accused of causing cultural offence”

Northland projects get a further boost from the PGF trough – and Jones hasn’t forgotten his forestry ambitions

New Zealand First ministers seem to be doing nicely, thank you, in demonstrating to the good people of Northland that they have the best interests of the local economy at heart.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has recorded two fresh press releases announcing more millions of public monies headed north for projects already boosted by Provincial Growth Fund money in that part of the country.

Isn’t that the home patch for some New Zealand First leaders? We do believe it is.

The PGF late in 2018 provided $13.9m towards the construction of the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei.

And yesterday – hurrah! – Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced an additional $4.5 million for the centre.

The Ministers said the art centre will house two galleries. The first will be only gallery outside of Austria to house a permanent display of artist Friedrich Hundertwasser’s art, worth millions of dollars. The Wairau Maori Art Gallery will become the national home to the best examples of contemporary Māori art.

“The art centre is estimated to bring in an economic benefit of $26 million to the region and more than 250,000 visitors to Whangarei annually, in line with the number of visitors the Hundertwasser toilets attract in Kawakawa,” Mr Jones said.  Continue reading “Northland projects get a further boost from the PGF trough – and Jones hasn’t forgotten his forestry ambitions”

Another dip into the PGF and – shazam! – here’s $2m for digital hubs and better connectivity

Five projects will receive $400,000 each for new hubs:

  • Gisborne, operated by Tairāwhiti Technology Trust
  • Katikati, operated by Western Bay of Plenty District Council
  • Te Kateretanga O Kura-Hau-Pō, operated by Horowhenua District Council
  • Woodville, operated by Tararua District Council
  • Murupara Regional Digital Hub, operated by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Manawa Trust

That adds up to $2 million and builds on the $3.6m already announced by the Government for eight other regional digital hubs in Northland, West Coast, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatū/Whanganui/Horowhenua.

Jones dished up the goodies from a trough officially referred to as the PGF’s local digital connectivity funding package of $21m.

As well as establishing regional digital hubs, this package helps connect marae to the internet. Continue reading “Another dip into the PGF and – shazam! – here’s $2m for digital hubs and better connectivity”

PGF projects – and $439.8 million worth of investment – are up and going again under Alert Level Three

Provincial Growth Fund troughers will be delighted to learn they are back in business (or some of them are).

They may not be so chuffed to learn that troughing has become commonplace and many more Kiwis are dipping into public funds through an array of  programmes set up to revive an economy ravaged by Covid-19 and the government’s response to it.

The bigger the number of troughers, the smaller the serving for each of them, although this consideration perhaps is overcome by the printing of money, quantitative easing, and what-have-you.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones brought news of the resumption this  week of Provincial Growth Fund projects around the country that were halted during Alert Level 4.

At Alert Level 3, more than 60 projects representing $439.8 million worth of investment are expected to get going again.

While we were digesting this news, Jones – in tandem with Kris Faafoi, Minister of Communications and Digital Media – threw out another announcement. Continue reading “PGF projects – and $439.8 million worth of investment – are up and going again under Alert Level Three”

The TVNZ–RNZ merger – is this another broadcasting train wreck? 

This post by BARRIE SAUNDERS is one of two being published on Point of Order today on the restructuring of state broadcasting and the fate of RNZ’s Concert programme.   

In the 1970s Barrie worked for the NZBC, ABC, UPITN, NBR and the BBC, he  was a director of TVNZ from 2011-2017, and he listens via the internet to the ABC, BBC and other public radio.   

The RNZ Concert programme train wreck is but a prelude to what is likely if the proposed RNZ-TVNZ merger goes ahead.

The Government has asked PWC to flesh out a plan that doesn’t stack up.  But we can be 100% confident that PWC will find the proposed merger is viable when they report to the government in mid-year.   Consultants rarely produce reports that customer don’t like and – unlike the private sector – this one will be taxpayer underwritten.  And we all know what that means.

In a small democracy and economy, I accept there is a case for a publicly owned broadcaster.  But it should exist alongside a thriving private media, which at present is in deep trouble as foreign digital media hoover up most of the digital advertising, without providing any real NZ content. Continue reading “The TVNZ–RNZ merger – is this another broadcasting train wreck? “

The future of broadcasting is in Faafoi’s hands (which might not be as fumble-free as CEOs decided last year)

Back  in  September,  when reporting  its annual assessment  of  what it calls  “Mood  of  the  Boardroom”,  the New Zealand Herald featured  an article on how  CEOs ranked  Cabinet  ministers on  performance.

Lo and behold,  17th-ranked  Kris  Faafoi  emerged   as  the minister  who  most  impressed  “top  chief  executives”.

The   report    quoted   a  “leading  banker”  (who  sensibly  remained anonymous)  as   saying the

“ … unsung performers of this  Cabinet   are  David Parker and  Kris Faafoi.  Both have  reached out to the business  community to  genuinely ask for  our  views and  listened. They also put  government policies  in their  areas  into perspective”.

 Point  of  Order   can only wonder   whether   those   top  CEOs   are still clinging to the  view  they  expressed  last  September  that   Faafoi  is  a  “safe  pair of hands”. Continue reading “The future of broadcasting is in Faafoi’s hands (which might not be as fumble-free as CEOs decided last year)”

Faster broadband comes to Rātana – and now they are better connected to the world than many people in the capital

The Jones boy is back in the business of making good-news announcements about the Provincial Growth Fund, rather than being asked to explain his role in one of hundreds of applications made by business people keen to slurp a few million from the $3 billion trough.

Today our Regional Development Minister is braying about log trains being about to run between Wairoa and Napier following PPF investment to reopen the rail line.

The Government invested $6.2 million to reopen the mothballed rail line which was closed after significant storm damage in 2012.

“With PGF support the rail line has been rebuilt and KiwiRail has established a road-rail log yard in Wairoa. On Sunday the first loaded log train will leave Wairoa for the Port of Napier,” Shane Jones said today.

“Export log volumes in the Hawke’s Bay region are predicted to reach 3.3 million tonnes per annum in the next few years and remain at high levels until the mid-2030s. The harvest growth around Wairoa is part of that picture. Continue reading “Faster broadband comes to Rātana – and now they are better connected to the world than many people in the capital”

Faafoi’s folly – his confession to saying dumb things should put focus on his portfolio and the future of fuel prices

Back  in  September,  when the  NZ  Herald  issued  its   supplement  “Mood of  the  Boardroom”,  Commerce  Minister  Kris Faafoi  featured as the  politician who most impressed  top  chief  executives  on ministerial  performance.

The newspaper  reported  it  was the first  time  in the history of the Mood of the Boardroom  survey  that a  minister  ranked towards the tail-end of Cabinet (at  17th) and who  had  been in the position only since   January, had substantially  outranked  his  colleagues.

Faafoi  headed not only the PM, Jacinda  Ardern,  and  deputy PM  Winston  Peters,  but other senior ministers  Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and  David Parker.

Really?

Last week  Faafoi  was  engaged in a  rather  different  exercise, receiving  what he  described  as  a  “stern talking to”  from the  Prime  Minister after  it  was disclosed   he had promised to “speed things up” in an immigration case for Opshop singer Jason Kerrison. Continue reading “Faafoi’s folly – his confession to saying dumb things should put focus on his portfolio and the future of fuel prices”