Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Moving targets

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  • Ian Dalziel,

    Taking time to think of the good...
    a reminder of the inaugural
    Rod Donald Memorial Lecture
    This coming Sunday, 21/11/2010 - 4:30pm

    Christchurch Art Gallery Auditorium

    On the occasion of the 5th anniversary
    of the death of Rod Donald, MP,
    "Democracy is New Zealand:
    Lost, Stolen or Just Misplaced?"

    Guest Speaker: Jeanette Fitzsimons
    (Co-Leader of the Green Party and MP, 1996-2010)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    You shouldn’t lose your superannuation for anything other than defrauding the superannuation system.

    Sweet, so I’m still entitled to retire at 60, then. After all, I’ve been paying taxes since it was 60, so it should be impossible to ever make any negative changes!

    Not what I meant, and you bloody know it. My comment was in the context of stripping someone of their super as punishment for misbehaviour.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Petra, in reply to Ross Mason,

    re: Corruption Perception indexes

    Perception is not always fully aligned with reality. Without proper public registers and accounts, like those rodgerd suggested - "...a register of all gifts and donations each MP recieves? Who signs off on whether MPs can recieve gifts and donations? Where’s the register of expenses? Where are the business cases, if you like, for travel registered, along with the costs realised? Are the claims ever subsequently justified?" - and Sue Kedgley's suggestion of a public lobbyists register like they have in the US, we will often be beguiled into believing that our good Kiwi blokes and sheilas in business and politics are less corrupt and more honourable than those blokes and sheilas in politics elsewhere.

    Personally, I think our business people and politicians are just as likely as anyone anywhere to become a bit dodgy - heck even a lot dodgy! - should the incentives for them to become so be just right for them. (For some it'll be money, for others it'll be power, etc).

    Our politicians are paid very well, and their perks are generous. At the very least, they owe it to us - the citizens and taxpayers - to play straight, stay honest, be transparent in all their dealings, and be open to rigorous scrutiny. Cheats and rorts - even if not strictly illegal - should see them losing much of their ex-MP "entitlements".

    For the most part, politicians make me feel a bit like this (they saw us coming):

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I’ve got to ask why you’re so confident that it is?

    The consensus at this stage by those who cover such matters supports that belief.
    Sure it's politicised and some elements may turn out to be overblown, but it seems highly unlikely that things are as innocent as Mr Key would like us to think (nothing to see here, move along).

    However I hope I've made clear already that for me some further evidence is needed - and was kind of hoping Neil might be able to offer some to back what appears to be exceptional confidence compared with others I've seen. Maybe he just has a less cynical disposition?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16280 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Sacha,

    It's just my impression regarding Wong, inept rather than corrupt, and at the moment Goff has sent in Hodgsn and Mallard to throw around a whole lot of mud to see if anything sticks. I don't like that sort of politics.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    I'm less generous than you, Neil. While I'll grant a certain level of ineptitude, I still think that a 'rort mentality' is rife in politics, and I'm quite sure that Pansy Wong was/is not above rorting the system to unfairly benefit herself and her husband's personal interests.

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    "Who paid for this trip?" and "Is what I'm doing right now my public role or my private business?" do not seem like such difficult questions.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16280 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    One thing that's particularly interesting/disturbing about this whole thing is that National hasn't even finished its first term this time around. There's a very significant entitlement mentality at work in terms of Wong's behaviour, and one cannot help but think that one doesn't normally see it until at least a second term, if not a third.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I don't think it is ineptitude, I think it is a lack of understanding of ethical concepts such as conflict of interest and the boundaries between governance and management. Here is another situation of government ministers getting too cosy with those receiving public money. Exposed by good reporting.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2008 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Reeves,

    I've just been reflecting on my (late) realisation that politicians who argue against oversight and regulation in business (stifles creativity, freedom needed to be successful, clever ideas in new banking products, dealing on the basis of being "smart" enough to have the right people talking to you, etc.) are also, these days, likely to be in business themselves. So, all that talk of over-regulation being bad for business was really, all along, self-serving in the extreme, rather than merely over-sensitive to the titans trying to make money.

    And I guess it should not be surprising that when business people (who have been used to a certain regard concerning their wishes for light regulation) move into politics, they have difficulty adjusting to a new set of moral values and expectations.

    Near Donny Park, Hamilton… • Since Apr 2007 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Good point, Steve. Conflating governance and operational business has been a core feature of this government's approach to the Canterbury and Auckland local government schemozzles as well. To them, Councils are overwhelmingly a deliverer of services rather than also a key vehicle for citizenship, democratic engagement and regional development. Little wonder our corporate sector's governance is so lacking.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16280 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    Nicely said, Steve and Sacha!

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    The consensus at this stage by those who cover such matters supports that belief.

    Ah yes, Sacha -- and when did you start exhibiting such a touching faith in the impeccable judgement of the media?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Personally I’m surprised more isn’t been made of this (from Neil’s original link)

    Mr Yang presumably has NZ residency by virtue of money invested in NZ. He owns NZ registered companies, SNT Investments Ltd and New Zealand China Zhejiang Chamber of Commerce Ltd, and is the majority shareholder in New Zealand Pure and Natural Ltd (along with Burton & Jenny Shipley…..PHNZ signed an Agreement with Mr Yang which, among other things, included royalty payments for each and every craft built in China. PHNZ company engineers moved to China in early 2008, trained the Chinese workers, and built the first 12 hovercraft. Despite the agreement (and his Chamber of Commerce speech) Mr Yang did not buy the NZ company (let alone for a purchase price of US$14m!), he has never paid royalties, and he still owes PHNZ workers salaries.

    To develop the product over the years the seven NZ shareholders have invested almost NZ$1m and expected the China manufacturing base to finally start bringing them a financial return.

    PHNZ’s NZ and Chinese lawyers have written numerous letters asking Mr Yang to honour the agreement but with no response. PHNZ has now cancelled all agreements of cooperation, withdrawn the license to build and use loaned equipment, and demanded Mr Yang cease producing the NZ designed hovercraft.

    Mr Yang’s company Lianyungang Supreme Hovercraft Ltd (www.hovercraft.cc) is still producing the hovercraft and has in fact taken further orders and Mr Yang and Mr Wong are still actively marketing the PHNZ copyrighted hovercraft in China. He even recently trademarked the name “Slider” for hovercraft in China to his company

    I’m not so interested in Pansy Wong, travel perks and specifics of signatures on documents , but this kind of IP theft goes on all the time in the middle kingdom, and it pisses me off that post FTA there’s still very little New Zealanders can do to protect themselves when forming joint ventures here, If as it says Sammy Wong is actively promoting ripped off NZ IP, then there is a significant case to be answered. That Yang is the majority shareholder in New Zealand Pure and Natural Ltd alongside Jenny Shipley is similarly damning. Why are a New Zealand MP and former PM cooperating with Yang rather than Preest?

    From Phil Lyth:.

    Mrs Wong’s husband helped to broker the deal, and is a shareholder in the joint venture. The business was shifted to China in 2008 and Mrs Wong visited the firm at the end of that year.

    Mr Preest claimed the Chinese company fired him without explanation, leaving him broke and devastated. He is suing Mr Yang through the Chinese courts for money he claims he is owed in royalties, parts and lost profits.

    If the Chinese courts find in Yang’s favour, which there’s every chance they’ll do considering the widespread corruption, then what recourse is Preest left with and exactly how is this FTA and the NZ Government protecting New Zealanders’ business interests in these matters? How are they not compounding the situation by distracting focus from the biggest issue here?

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    The rules surrounding MP's expenditure and the governance of those, has shown themselves to be questionable to say the least. Wong has shown up as, yet again , another one to confuse or conflate the way in which they are implemented.
    Into question has been the interpretation of these rules across Parliament with exception, the Greens, who, rightly so, have called for them to be addressed time and time again. Of course this should happen. I mean, seriously, we know people of any ilk, do use their standing in a community to show their might(we are proud beasts remember.) That, often ticks the right boxes in business. Culturally, people do business in differing ways and I suspect the Wongs have always conducted their business no different to now. Why would anyone change if it got you this far? I think it's called big noting. I know Pacific Islanders also often receive and give gifts. It is accepted practice. It's business as usual. It's a cultural interpretation that isn't specifically western value.. which brings about "When in Rome..." but bloody hell, explain it first.
    Parliament needs to readdress how the rules should be interpreted so all members are on the same page. No ifs or buts allowed. Strict rules because we (us) all say so. Because they have pissed around for the past (pick a number, any number) years, heads have to roll. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    Dodgy.

    I really don't like our close relationship with China. It's in their favour more than ours, I think. And I'm sure it's going to bite us HARD in the ass eventually. They will own us, our land, our politicans, everything.

    Many of you may well think that sounds xenophobic, but I don't think so. I have no problem with the average Chinese citizen immigrating here and adding to our cultural diversity. But fellating the Chinese regime and Chinese Big Business like we do is just wrong. It's like Tiananmen Square happened - that mass murder - and we thought, "Oh, God, don't hurt us, we're only little, here have our lunch money, take everything, we'll be your BFFs!"

    Though there's a few people in NZ biz and politics getting quite rich on the back of China screwing us. Fuckers.

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Hello! It's National. That's how they roll Chris, No change whatsoeva.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Fuckers.

    Ahh, pick a country, any country. Right, not just China is it.
    Remember the Opiyum trade? The West has a fucking lot to answer for. Why pick on China.? We can't all be white and middle class . Even this Mexican. ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    I’m picking on China because of our close economic ties with that brutal regime. China is our ‘best friend’, but it has nefarious interest in the Pacific, I tell you! Nefarious!

    And, for me, it's not about being white and middle class. I enjoy the many colours NZ's immigrants from all over the world bring, so I'm not against the average Chinese citizen being here and doing well....it's the regime I don't like.

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    When I say "cover" I include bloggers/tweeters too

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16280 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Why are a New Zealand MP and former PM cooperating with Yang rather than Preest?

    why does anyone get conned? Yang is probably a very smooth talker.

    I think initially the Wongs saw themselves as comming to the assistance of a NZ business in trouble. But then they set things up with Yang - not a good move. But it does suggest we in NZ need to be cautious doing business in China, well anywhere I suppose.

    I'm for free trade agreements and thought that one of the many benefits of Asian immigration was how that could help NZ businesses develop in Asian markets. But clearly things can go wrong.

    I'm probably being overly generous towards Pansy Wong but I'm a bit of a stickler for following lines of evidence in the net to see where they end up. At the moment the piece of evidence Hodgson has produced is a partially translated item from a govt web-site with no indicattion of who wrote it, for what purpose and based on what information.

    It could be that Wong traded on her position. It cold be that Yang mislead the local govt. It could be the local govt just guilded the lily. it's a long way from proving anything.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Ever since I heard about the bloody hovercraft, I can’t get this out of my simple mind.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I’m picking on China because of our close economic ties with that brutal regime. China is our ‘best friend’, but it has nefarious interest in the Pacific, I tell you! Nefarious!

    I understand that Petra. Just suggesting that many countries shit on many other countries and we are really small in the grand scheme of things.
    Many New Zealand born business people love the opportunity that "Free Trade" brings with China. They are the citizens I see immigrating here also. A friend of mine just returned from Shang Hai, was blown away at how many western people had opened up business there. He mentioned the existence of cafes. (I think the Olympics may have hastened that). He noted how crowded it felt, and how NZ was such a good place to be. I asked if he caught up with his Mum and Dad. He said no. (not a very western way)He went for his NZ business which he owns in NZ. He has a house. He ,and his wife paid to have their children here of which they now go to school. They are now residents. With no intention of ever leaving, I don't see a take over . I see an amazing country to live in. I have no problem with their contribution. I think otherwise is xenophobic, but, that's just me.
    I'll go away now. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    wher's edit?
    I meant citizens from both countries are the immigrants too.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Found it with the flashy thingy

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

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