Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dirty Politics

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  • 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 Reply

  • 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 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    That’s very real. I’m also a bit frightened of the Americans, but they look a bit like Australians. So it’s tempting to lump them all together and just call them privileged pricks or whatever.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4163 posts Report Reply

  • 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."
    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/10/16/279660/zhang-yikun-and-the-alleged-100k-donation

    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 Reply

  • 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 Reply

  • 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 Reply

  • 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 Reply

  • 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 • 1313 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to simon g,

    Indeed.

    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 Reply

  • 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 Reply

  • 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 • 1870 posts Report Reply

  • 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 Reply

  • 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 Reply

  • 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 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Neil,

    Huh. Not implausible, but doesn't fit with my experience. Plus his conversational style in interviews and press conferences has been entirely natural. He listens to whoever is talking to him and responds with easy rapport. Narcissists don't do that. They talk at people, not with them.

    National MP Nicky Wagner called him "psychotic", quoted in a recent media report I saw. If he really was a narcissist he'd obviously already be suing her for defamation. Threat to reputation is threat to ego. First button in the psyche that gets pushed.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to simon g,

    Unfortunately there's a TVNZ poll out this weekend.

    Just for fun, I'll predict in advance (rather than spin afterwards):

    Bridges will go UP in the preferred PM question. Pundits will then pontificate, and get it wrong.

    For any opposition leader, between election campaigns, "preferred PM" is about name recognition. (Remember when Helen Clark stayed in the rankings, long after she had moved to New York?). Politics junkies think the public are following every detail, every day: they aren't. People have lives. So, until recently a large swathe of the population did not know (or much care) who the leader of the National party was.

    They do now.

    (yes, I could be totally wrong. Humble pie sitting in the fridge, ready for my 6 pm dinner ...)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1313 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    It is all decidedly an OTT O.T. mess...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7866 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to simon g,

    Bridges will go UP in the preferred PM question.

    Sympathy vote will have increased later in the week.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19661 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Two points, it’s unclear whether Ross was placed under the mental health act – he could have been admitted as a voluntary patient. Secondly, there is no way a political party could influence that process. That allegation is a very nasty and ignorant smear against health professionals and does a great disservice to mental health.

    Since Nov 2016 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    kind of like how the unlawful raid on Hager’s house did a disservice to the police?. Glancing back through the last 93 pages I wish I shared your confidence.

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

  • Katharine Moody,

    Former National Party general manager Chris Simpson on The Nation yesterday morning said this:

    Interviewer: Okay. Do you think that his [Ross'] behaviour changed as his reputation in the party changed or grew?

    Collings: Well, I think the ego grew, I guess. And, yeah, definitely. And that’s one of the reasons... Look, we met with Melanie Reid. And thank you to Melanie for breaking the story. I went to Melanie because she broke the story on Todd Barclay. And I said, ‘Look, this guy, we’ve got a guy in our area that makes Todd Barclay look like an angel.’ But we knew nothing of this. This is, you know...

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1810/S00307/the-nation-chris-simpson-and-david-collings.htm

    So, National Party hierarchy went to the media asking them to investigate allegations of bullying and abusive behaviour by one of their own MPs?

    And in the Newsroom story, is prefaced stating;

    Over the past year, Newsroom investigations editor Melanie Reid has been looking into the background and behaviour of former National MP Jami-Lee Ross. She has talked to a number of people who have given detailed accounts, recordings and documents of their close working and personal relationships with the controversial politician.

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/10/17/281200/jami-lee-ross-four-women-speak-out

    No concern for the mental health implications on the individuals and their families and a total abdication of their own responsibility as an organisation.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to linger,

    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.

    I'm not getting my hopes up. Keep in mind that most voters have other lives, and are often barely even following what's happening right now. Just because someone hates the National party, or thinks that all politicians are corrupt and dishonest, doesn't mean they won't vote National if the alternative is something they're convinced is worse.

    I think too many voters, on most sides, get distracted by the potential euphoria, or fear, of a change in government happening at all. Stuff like electoral finance laws and transparent government aren't really a direct enough thing in most people's day-to-day lives for policies on them to strongly influence elections. Except maybe 2008 when the recent changes were turned into a vile and polarising campaign issue, where potential voters were told that the changes were an unfair and corrupt mechanism for the government to suppress National's ability to get elected.

    Not that things could never meaningfully change, but I can't imagine it happening in any normal scenario. Maybe if it's a policy enforced by a smaller party in a coalition deal, but without uncharacteristic multi-partisan support it'd risk going the way of 2008 again.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Over the past year

    I was just thinking about that too, it’s any wonder how long these testimonies might have been kept under wraps had push not come to shove. I see Andrew Geddis’ piece has been updated.

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

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Neil,

    it’s unclear whether Ross was placed under the mental health act – he could have been admitted as a voluntary patient.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12146405

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to mark taslov,

    Thanks for the link. I just realised that Collings is the Howick Board guy, not the former NP GM. So it wasn't party hierarchy that went to the media.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

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