Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dirty Politics

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  • Dennis Frank, in reply to mark taslov,

    Mark, I'm glad you raised the question of his agency. I've discussed it in various comments on The Standard, often drawing fire from those who have a single issue focus on privacy law. As a group, such people are hot on using the law to deny the right of free speech of others (such as myself) who feel it is vital to frame things in an holistic view rather than their reductionist perspective. One even denied that he's a whistleblower!

    So I'd be interested to hear your take on this dichotomy. As a whistleblower, being taken by state agents into a situation of total control (without his cellphone according to friends and we still haven't been informed if the state confiscated that) you'd feel your agency had been totally eliminated, eh?

    So is this really going to be a relief for him, such disempowerment? I doubt it. And if his lawyer is gagged by privacy law (haven't heard a whimper out of him) it's hardly surprising that many of us see Ross as the victim of totalitarianism. Does privacy law really trump both civil rights and our whistleblower law?? I'd love to see our Supreme Court decide against that!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Certain operators within the National Party have a history of accepting, enabling, and using such "odious behaviours" for their own ends. I seem to recall that a few years ago we were discussing National's use of Cameron Slater in similar terms.
    At this stage it's pointless to speculate about how far such behaviours are the product of some pathology or other; it is more important that National clarify what if anything it will do to change its relationship to such behaviours. If National has been directly involved in sectioning Ross, primarily to silence him, that is not exactly the sort of change we might hope for.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1860 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to linger,

    If National has been directly involved in sectioning Ross, primarily to silence him, that is not exactly the sort of change we might hope for.

    It’s not possible, the Mental Health Act does not work that way. People spreading those rumours are doing mental health a huge disservice.

    We also don’t know if he was placed under the mental health act or not. All we have is selective bits of information provided by Ross’ “friends” to suit his agenda.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    What we need is a Supreme Court decision that privacy law cannot be used to eliminate civil rights and defeat the whistle-blower law. The authorities can only get away with it as long as everyone lets them. Collusion with the National Party is obvious to anyone who can read the pattern, but just perception until privacy is no longer able to be used to eliminate freedom of speech, and we can get the facts.

    Word on the street (as it were) is that Mitchell called the cops to initiate the sectioning. He had been given the task of operating as minder for Ross earlier. Slater wrote on his blog that it was a National MP who called them in. Inasmuch as Mitchell, Collins and Ross have all been clients of Lusk, one would expect Slater to get the inside info on stuff like this. An interesting nexus.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    So I’d be interested to hear your take on this dichotomy. As a whistleblower, being taken by state agents into a situation of total control (without his cellphone according to friends and we still haven’t been informed if the state confiscated that) you’d feel your agency had been totally eliminated, eh?

    I was just talking to my psychologist about the physical and mental anxiety I’d experienced over the weekend due to the nature of the reporting of the incident. Noting that I lived in the PRC for about 1/3 of my life where such disappearings are commonplace and that my understanding of ’agency’ diverges from the norm I may not be best placed to canvas that. Suffice to say I’m side-eyeing anyone raising their hand for the “nothing to see here” brigade.

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

  • izogi,

    Nicky Hager writes about all of this on The Spinoff this morning.

    Total destruction is clearly what JLR was out for last week. It is the mentality of the Judith Collins faction of the National Party. Back in 2011, Slater passed on Collins’ message to Lusk, who replied: “That’s why I am keen to have her as leader, our side will learn to fight properly.” Slater added: “And fight hard”.

    I think this is still true. I think that the attacks on Bridges, aided by Lusk and Slater, are about making Collins the leader of the National Party. She was uncharacteristically quiet during the last week of destabilisation of Bridges. Collins has repeatedly said she has had nothing to do with Ross’s behaviour. But she is very keen on becoming leader. If she becomes leader in the coming months, based in part on the crisis brewed in recent weeks, it will be a victory for dirty politics.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Word on the street (as it were) is that Mitchell called the cops to initiate the sectioning.

    Which part of the Mental Health Act was used?

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to izogi,

    “She’ll no doubt want to root me tomorrow. I’ll have to take one for the team to get the details out of her.”

    Jordan Williams, talking about a source. A human being.

    How long are the NZ media going to continue being complicit in this? Every time they give us "news" from the "Taxpayers' Union", and pretend that Williams is a legitimate, disinterested contributor on a "panel", they enable and encourage his vile behaviour.

    This fails any basic test of ethics. Editors and broadcasters know that. They can read.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1298 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Neil,

    Haven't seen that reported yet. The authorities have been suspiciously quiet, seeming to be pursuing a strategy of denying public access to as many relevant facts as possible. Understandable, since it's the only way to make a cover-up successful. Privacy law is proving to be an extremely useful tool to cover up political wrongdoing.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to mark taslov,

    I can empathise somewhat, having been brought up via victimhood (chronic thrashings). Identifying with other victims comes easily to me but I realise it's all relative to one's social niche so we can't really generalise.

    Hager's comment only goes so far. Seemed too shallow an analysis. Ross has formed a public identity as whistleblower, and Hager fails to factor that in. The political psychology of that new identity derives from being the sole player vs a team of 55 in the Nat caucus. The power imbalance ramps up his speaking truth to power to the tipping point of his breakdown. The pressure is vastly higher than for other politicians.

    Then he gets taken into isolation by agents of the state. Even after release, still no direct evidence yet that he has regained agency. We don't know why he no longer had his cellphone. Not a peep out of his lawyer. All extremely suspicious.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Haven’t seen that reported yet.

    So word on the street isn’t giving those details? How odd. Easy enough to produce the 8(a).

    The act is available on line to check if there is any part of the act that could possibly be used to implement what word on the street claims. So far I’ve seen no one point to anything in the Act that could allow this to happen.

    It present it’s word on the street vs mental health law.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Neil,

    True, and as long as privacy law continues to prevent mental health authorities from informing the public on precisely how the whistleblower had his liberty removed against his will, folks will speculate. Oh wait, the Nats could alway issue an official denial that any of their MPs were involved. Yeah, right...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Ross could release the records of his assessment and admission which would document details of any use of the act.

    He’s the one using privacy to prevent that information becoming public.

    Meanwhile he releases private information to undermine the women he abused.

    So far the very small amount of information made public has been from Slater – a compulsive liar.

    What concerns me the most is how the actions of Ross and Slater are giving a misleading picture of how acute mental health services work and there are people who should know better being taken for a ride.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Regarding access to cellphones in acute inpatient units, this is an often fraught issue. On the one hand peoples’ lives now can revolve around cellphones – socially, financially etc. On the other hand for someone unwell use of a cellphone could be damaging in terms of their reputation and finances.

    Making poor financial decisions via internet banking, posting inappropriate pictures on social media, saying horrible things about people – these are things that have happened and that people come to deeply regret when they get well.

    So staff, having a duty of care, have to make often difficult judgement calls regarding such access.

    Irrespective of access to cellphones though, patients are entitled to visitors and to use the hospital phone system. They also have a right to see independent lawyers to act on their behalf and to file a S16 to have a judge review there mental health act status if indeed they are under the act.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    It’s interesting that Ross is using Slater to do the dirty work. But he has had such a hard time poor thing. Slater may get to be expendable though if Craig gets involved funding a new party.

    The latest according to Slater’s fantasies is that sometime on Saturday evening Ross had some sort of serious incident – one presumes he treatened to self harm. (All that stress from people saying he harassed women gets to a guy after a while. Maybe needed a few drinks). Then either Ross or a friend, aka Slater, with him at the time rings for help – not the community mental health urgent response team, not the police, not Ross’ psychiatrist – no, they ring one of the women who he has harrassed and whose txt he will release to the media to try and discredit her.

    Then, apparently, she rings someone in the National Party who in turn rings Ross’ psychiatrist who does – nothing. So it’s then supposedly left to someone in National to do at least something so they phone the Police who presumably do a safety check which is what they would do in that situation.

    It’s hard to believe any of that but if true then the only person who acted in Ross’ interest was a National Party person – not any of his friends -and they did not, and never could have, have him placed under the act. They just asked the police to check up on him. The Police then may have involved mental health services.

    But until Ross gives the media the appropriate mental health documentation he will have in his possession it’s all pretty murky. But that’s how he wants it.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Neil,

    They just asked the police to …

    Which would look less suspicious if National didn’t already have form for "just asking" the police to handle things for them, and being willingly accommodated even to the point of proven illegality (e.g. against Hager).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1860 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    Meanwhile he releases private information to undermine the women he abused.

    while that may have been the intent of both Jami-Lee Ross and the ’supporter of the Botany MP with his permission’, the wider outcome is arguably that in the public eye its greatest impact would have been neutralising extant question marks hanging over the National Party:

    Even if Ross is banished, those people are still working to protect their own. Many in the National Party knew about Ross’ abuse, but didn’t do anything about it, because mistreating women is generally something to be ignored or suppressed unless your institution is going to end up looking bad.

    Displacing burgeoning calls for deeper interrogation of the culture of toxic masculinity in Parliament:

    If people can guess, ima little p*ssed at dominant privileged voices skipping over the racism and the sexual abuse at play in my workplace, long a problem but only recently spotlighted, as if it ain’t part of the ‘game’. This is real peoples lives we’re not talking about. FFS.

    By painting the issue as being to some degree reciprocal:

    The text – released on the same day that the National Party said it would review its culture – includes a slew of abuse and personal insults about Mr Ross’ appearance and personality.

    My impression of that news item – and I’m happy to be corrected – was that it was unprecedented – both in terms of the SOB running the story as a matter of ’public interest’ and the selectivity of the censorship.

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

  • mark taslov,

    More reformed Dirty Politics conduit David Fisher authors competing albeit remodelled version of Whale Oil’s story – “discovered” – “from a range of sources” – no names - more or less completely exonerates the National Party of any wrongdoing – hatchet job on Dirty Politics insider Slater.

    In the same edition as somewhat less reformed Dirty Politics conduit Matthew Hooton authors hatchet job on Ross masquerading as opinion piece about career politicians and reviving civic engagement.

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

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    Then, apparently, she rings someone in the National Party who in turn rings Ross’ psychiatrist

    Noting that elements of your version correspond closely with testimony from all sources to date – in your position as a mental health expert – with regard to Fisher’s depiction of "The urgency of the situation", would there be any scenario where it might be recommended procedure to initially contact work colleagues when presented with immediate threats to a patient’s wellbeing or is contacting mental health services/police directly always the best course of action?

    I note that health.govt.nz (pdf) states:

    If they need urgent help

    If someone has attempted suicide or you’re worried about their immediate safety, do the following.

    Call your local mental health crisis assessment team or go with them to the emergency department (ED) at your nearest hospital.
    If they are an immediate physical danger to themselves or others, call 111.
    Remain with them and help them to stay safe until support arrives.
    Try to stay calm and let them know you care.
    Keep them talking: listen and ask questions without judging.

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

  • Neil, in reply to linger,

    That bit turns out to be part of Slater’s fantasy.

    The Herald reports it was Ross’ psychologist – not anyone in National – who rang the police. National had rung the psychologist to inform them of the txt Ross had sent.

    It doesn’t look as though the mental health act was ever implemented – he was likely never “sectioned”. The psychologist could have done the 8(a) but not the 8(b). The first time he saw a medical practitioner who could was at the hospital. Without the 8(b) it would be police doing a welfare ckeck.

    The idea the National could have used the act to have Ross detained was always a nonsense – the act does not provide for that but far more significantly the allegation called into question the integrity of mental health professionals.

    Some knowlege of the acute mental health services would have made all that clear.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Here’s some apparent context to National’s involvement

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2600 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    I was under the impression that mental health treatment is the domain of psychiatry, not psychology. So why a psychologist is involved seems odd.

    Anyway use of the privacy law to prevent actual facts of the situation emerges reduces media and public debate to speculation and conspiracy theorising. All good fun, but it would be better for freedom of information law to prevail over privacy law in cases where the latter is used to prevent allaying of public concerns about the disempowering of a parliamentarian operating as whistleblower. The public interest ought to be paramount.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Public interest is weighed up against personal privacy interests by certain officers of government and courts and media under specific legislative frameworks.

    Commenters on blogs are not part of that. I for one feel relieved not to carry all the corresponding obligations.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19633 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    I’m not sure if my posts are showing up, but as ‘sectioned’ has only appeared in quotation marks in every news headline in which it’s featured that prospect had remained moot. That National could have *used* the police rather than the act itself was more my interpretation of linger’s point given how routine these types of callouts are.

    Police officers attended almost 35,000 mental health callouts this past year; 14,491 mental health incidents and 19,672 attempted or threatened suicides. That’s about 94 jobs every day,

    So given your knowledge of acute mental health services is there any precedent/official advice with regard to my question above?

    ETA Dennis Frank and Sacha’s posts only just showed up for me 4 minutes into editing this (which I assume may also be why Paul linked to the same story) so there may be some tech issues worth looking into.

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

  • Neil, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I was under the impression that mental health treatment is the domain of psychiatry, not psychology. So why a psychologist is involved seems odd.

    There’s quite a range of professions that can offer mental health services - psychologists, social workers, counsellors, occupational therapists, nurses for example.

    The critical difference is only psychiatrists can place people under the mental health act.

    Since Nov 2016 • 324 posts Report Reply

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