Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Day 22 Remembering Christchurch

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Can we stop with the lame post-protest conversations and opinionated think pieces please?

In her Herald on Sunday column this week Heather Du Plessis-Allan suggested some silly people came along to last Thursday’s anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) protests and ruined everything, and now the country will never want to talk about free trade ever again – because, well – bad protesters. I imagine a ‘good protester’ to Du Plessis-Allan is someone who quietly marches waving an inoffensive placard, in an inoffensive way, accompanied by an inoffensive chant, asking to have an inoffensive conversation, with some inoffensive people – someone, who even Mike Hosking’s so-called “regular New Zealanders” could give their inoffensive nod of approval too.

tppa fck

Guess what guys, the revolution was never meant to be inoffensive, nor something easily slotted in between a pedicure and picking the kids up at three. Protesting, by its nature, is an inconvenience. If it doesn’t make the viewer uncomfortable it is not doing its job. Also protesting, or the right to protest, is a democratic right in our country – we literally go to war in other countries to afford their peoples the same rights. Let that sink in for a minute. While the boys and girls of our Fourth Estate reduce serious issues to ‘silly protesters’ and ‘traffic inconveniences’ – we send men and women to potentially die in foreign lands to give or to restore to a foreign citizen, their right to protest and inconvenience their governments. The very same rights it would seem that some people here would rather we didn’t have.

I don’t want to watch, or read, or hear another talking head whine about protesting “riff-raff” and “rent-a-crowd”. I want to watch, read, and hear them instead discuss the issues being protested, for, or against. Let’s not forget some media personalities are paid very well to do this, so why are they still struggling with the fundamentals of our democracy and getting away with it? Let alone being paid for that struggle? If Hosking for example can’t figure it out, please someone dear god explain it to him, and please let that someone not be Toni Street. Every time we allow important conversations to be derailed by lowest common denominator sound bites churned out to even lower common denominator audiences, we do New Zealand a disservice. We do our kids a disservice.

Not just content with sticking the knife into ‘bad protesters’ for giving protesting a bad image and turning people off talking about the TPPA, Du Plessis-Allan claims their actions single-handedly sent “ordinary people” – which I can only assume is Du Plessis-Allan ‘speak’ for Hosking’s “regular New Zealanders” – into the moderate and welcoming arms of the TPPA proponents. Really? Do we have evidence of this? Or is this something Du Plessis-Allan made up because she had a 500 word limit to fulfil? If so-called “ordinary” New Zealanders don’t understand the TPPA as she alleges and a bunch of protesters can scare them off, then that’s not the fault of the protester, that’s her fault, she is the journalist after all.

tppa down with

What has she done the past eight years to elucidate the masses? She derides and ridicules protesters for their ignorance in the face of a knowledge vacuum, but lets her so-called “ordinary people” and Hosking’s “real New Zealanders” off the hook, despite their own very obvious ignorance due to the same information void. The TPPA came out of the last decade when the United States wished to join the four country Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP) – so it has literally been a thing since January 2008. Why are we so ignorant to this agreement eight years on? Why are people fearful of not just it but many of its clauses? Can our broadcasters really say they’ve done their very best to give people not just credible, but also the factual information they would need to have to take a well-rounded position on it? I don’t think so.

It seems a major goal in the TPPA debate for some time now has being to avoid pushing for answers on contentious provisions in the agreement from the negotiating Executive, and instead drill non-negotiating opposition parties on their stance. Demanding to know if they are anti-free trade for example, because they, inexplicably it seems to some media, dare to question parts of the agreement while supporting others. For some, it’s like the media are fighting the fire in the letterbox while behind them the house burns. No wonder people are scared and effectively screaming at their screens, and now screaming into our screens, at the journalistic equivalent of the horror movie victim not heeding our warnings to ‘look behind’ them. If people for, against and everything between, are still ignorant of this agreement this late in the game, some feeling anxious, desperate and fearful, then someone’s not doing their job – or someone else is doing their job too a little too well.

On Radio New Zealand last week, ex Labour Party politician and Speaker of the House, Margaret Wilson, now Professor of Law and Public Policy at University of Waikato said this of the protesters and their perceived ignorance,

non vs violent

“Why they’re bothering is that somehow or another people feel they have to express to their government their feelings about both [the] process [of the TPPA], and [the] content in many ways as well, because they haven’t had any other opportunity to do so. In New Zealand’s constitutional arrangement, [protest] is the way in which the people, the only way really, substantially, [that people can] communicate directly [with the Executive].”

Du Plessis-Allan though bless her, hopes middle New Zealand will stay strong in the face of inconvenient protests and inner city traffic jams, and no matter how tedious, carry on the apparently newly started, but nevertheless important TPPA conversation. It’s almost like Du Plessis-Allan has only just realised the importance of it, let alone known that some of us have being desperately screaming out for us to have this conversation for some time. See what I did there Heather?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

Like it or not dear reader, the thousands of protesters who turned up last Thursday, and the many people who wish they could have, are not the people who need their actions questioned right now.

Viva la revolution.

“Someone send the gif over to John Oliver so we can get it over with..”

Love him or hate him, but National’s Economic Minister Steven Joyce seems to be taking the dildo attack by TPPA protester Josie Butler at Waitangi today, on the chin, literally:

“Someone send the gif over to John Oliver so we can get it over with..”

DildoJoyce

John Key talks free tertiary education

OD: “Finally on education, in your first State of the Nation speech you spoke about the opportunity you had for a good education. Kids today end up with an average student debt of $28,000 to get the same education as you did. Any plans to go back to tertiary education, free tertiary education?”

JK: “I don’t know if we’d go back free…” (continued below)

"Let's Be Frank" with Oliver Driver, ALT TV, 6 March, 2008,  1.06 - 5.29 
 

OD: “Why not?”

JK: “Um, sheer cost of it I guess. It’s about…”

OD: “$350 million a year.”

JK: “Yeah. I guess what would you do with the $9 billion of student loans.”

OD: (partly unaudible, possibly ‘scrap em’)

JK: “there’s equity issues..”

OD: “C’mon lets look at you, here you are, the perfect example of a man who was born into a state house, made good, got his education, was able to go to university because it was free.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “Ya know, got to the place where you are.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “And now, you might be our prime minister.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “And yet the next generation of John Keys’ have to pay $28,000 in student loans, if they can get a student loan in the first place.”

JK: “Yeah. Look there’s a number of different parts of that right. Firstly, probably, that tertiary education is widened out substantially to where it was. So a lot of those students, I mean the loans aren’t necessarily um related to, ya know tertiary qualifications, they’re actually around – well they are tertiary but not university per se, they might be a whole lot of other sort of areas.”

OD: “Sure, but it is estimated around $350 million is all we would need to provide free tertiary education.”

JK: “Yeah. Well {int}”

OD: “Now surely with the massive surpluses you keep going on about and the huge desire we have for ‘tax cuts’, we can afford these ‘tax cuts’ because of these huge surpluses. You could give every kid in this country back to having free tertiary education.”

JK: “I guess what I want to say to you is look, I mean we are looking at things like student allowances and all those sort of things. We made it clear we’re going to keep loans at zero percent, and we’ve made it clear, if you repay early , and some will, they’ll get a 10% discount on that.”

OD: “But you didn’t have to do it.”

JK: “I know.”

OD: “And look at where you are?”

JK: “Yeah but the issue..”

OD: “And you’re worried about the brain drain, you’re worried about upskilling our people, and you’re worried about all these sorts of things and yet, that, seems to me one of the most basic things you could do.”

JK: “And there are some areas where we could do that right and we’ve argued that we want to ‘bond’ doctors or might want to certain things with teachers, and write off their student loans, which is the virtually the same thing. I mean wholesale could we do it I dunno, we could look at it. I mean one thing I could say to you is, and this is what I say to young people when I go out to all of the schools all the time – if you’ve got a chance, go to university don’t worry about the student loan, that is the least of your problems but do two things, finish the degree…”

OD: “It’s not the least of their problems once they graduate, I know them.”

JK: “Yeah”

OD: “They’re walking around with $28,000, $40,000, $60,000 dollar debts around their necks, while you were in your first year of work, earning your first amount of cash, they’re hard slog paying back their debt.”

JK: “Yeah”

OD: “To be an educated part of society.”

JK: “Yeah. I mean yeah, you’ve got to look at it and say, “hey what’s driving those costs”, so what is your average course fee at university? About $4000 dollars are year? That sort of number? Probably. Um, I haven’t looked recently, but I guess it’s that sort of number. So, so a lot of what is driving that debt is because they are living away from home right? Now, so, had I been at university and lived away from home – I mean I know I had the luxury of being able to live at home, and I was in Christchurch, and I could go to Canterbury – but the bottom line is, I would have racked up debt then too. I mean, even back in my day, it was only the fees that were paid. So.”

OD: “So do that.”

JK: “Yeah, well that’s a possibility I suppose. I’m just saying, I understand where you are coming from and I’m not disagreeing with you. We want people to go and we don’t want people racked down with debt; and one of the reasons I didn’t like zero percent loans, and I was open about it in the campaign in 2005, was I was really worried people would take down more debt, and that actually even shows, they have, and for longer.”

OD: “But don’t you think part of the reason people are fleeing to Australia is to escape them?”

JK: “Partly because {int} well partly, {int} partly what the problem is I think, is they get this debt and while they’re at university it doesn’t seem that much, they say “ok, I owe $30,000 grand, well I’m gonna start working, I’ll pay it off”. As soon as they come out, there’s lots of other expenses that they hadn’t thought about – they want to move out, whatever, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever it might be – move in, and the problem is that debt hangs around, at which point their income is higher – then they go…”

OD: “Hang on just two minutes ago you said to me you encourage kids to not worry about the debt, to go to university, the debt won’t matter, and now you’re out here telling me that debt builds up, and it’s a whole lot more expensive, and they have to run to Australia.”

JK: “No. I’ll tell you why I think it shouldn’t matter if they get debt, and the answer to that is, getting the qualification, all the academic evidence shows you, your tertiary qualified, you complete your degree, your average income earning stream is much higher. So it’s what I say to you, what I say to young people is, get the qualification, and make sure you go there, make sure you complete it.”

OD: “I’m just saying I think you should think about that. You want people to not leave for Australia. You want increase our national average income. Surely free tertiary education is a way to achieve both of those things. In some part. ”

(Please report any transcribing errors below, thank you)

It’s called public service for a reason

image

Bad title: politicians are not ‘celebrities’ and shouldn’t be treated as one. It’s called public service for a reason.