John Campbell Lives…

Bad news for the managerial clones at TV3: John Campbell’s spirit lives on. It’s there in countless media memorials (the most eloquent being Diana Wichtel’s column in The Listener). And it arose  last week to show  its crusading self vividly – and most unexpectedly – on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp. There acting co-host Nadine Chalmers-Ross berated Auckland City retailers for literally hosing down the homeless.

More people are sleeping rough in the city, often in retailers’ doorways. To their discredit they sometimes left their overnight rubbish behind but that problem could easily have been solved by calling in the Council’s sweepers. But no, in the coldest winter for years, retailers installed motion- activated sprinklers at their entrances to hose down any sleepovers. Which in turn led to TVNZ news coverage and last week, an equally chilling on-air condemnation from Chalmers-Ross. See John, you’re still going out live.

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The heat is on over the TPPA though you’d hardly believe following media here. In America the people, aroused by Senator Elizabeth Warren and like-minded others are striking back at the seven year long, secret TPP negations.

Among Warren’s more startling claims is that 85% of those involved in the negotiations were senior executives or lobbyistsfor major industries. “They are the ones who have helped shape the deal” she told Rachael Maddow in a interview aired on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3749CQ1SC She added that if the process was rigged then so too would be the outcome.

Meannwhile, the website Public Citizen is telling readers  how  we all got to this stage and it’s spooky:

Ten years ago, after a flurry of backroom deal-making, Congress passed the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).  In the dead of night.  By a single vote.  

Exactly one decade later, today trade ministers are gathering in Hawaii to try to conclude deadline-missing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a sweeping deal that would expand the CAFTA model of trade across the Pacific.

In attempt to quell the controversy surrounding the TPP, the administration is recycling the same lofty promises that were used to push for passage of CAFTA: the deal would safeguard public health, spur economic prosperity at home and abroad, and protect workers, consumers, and the environment.

After 10 years of CAFTA, the emptiness of such promises is on full display. Today in Central America, life-saving medicines are more expensive due to monopoly protections that CAFTA gave to pharmaceutical corporations – protections that are slated for expansion in the TPP.  And the headlines from several CAFTA countries do not report economic prosperity, but economic instability, drug violence and forced migration.  Meanwhile, CAFTA’s labor provisions have failed to halt the assassination of dozens of Central American union workers who were trying to end unmitigated labor abuses like wage theft.  In contrast, the pact’s foreign investor privileges, which the TPP would expand, have succeeded in empowering multinational corporations to challenge domestic laws, including consumer and environmental protections.

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This month the Flag Panel finished its lonely trawl through the country’s halls this week and reported that 24,000 Kiwis had made alternative design suggestions while the rest of us snored. It  said ‘ the words you shared   about what makes New Zealand special will help the panel shortlist the four alternative flag suggestions…’

So what were these words?  History, Freedom, Equality, Family, Respect, Heritage, Future, Integrity, Environment Maori and Green. Hmm…bit of a disconnect there between the  people and  our pollies.

  • Take History, Freedom and Equality – all trashed by successive governments since 1984 and the       Moneybags Revolution.
  • Or Heritage – going, going…
  • The Future and the Environment – TPP waiting in the wings to commodify the next generation and inaction over climate change.
  • Family – last seen clinging to each other in icy waters as the ship of state pulls away.

But the best – Integrity – is reserved for last. We’re wordless because integrity disappeared with Rob Muldoon.   Kiwis may have responded – but their values are now rather embarrassingly seen to be at odds with almost everything successive governments have trashed.ResizedImage600239-word-cloud-8-july

For that feedback alone, perhaps we should be grateful for at least some of the $26 million spent on the project.

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If nothing else, our PM is a master of fashioning opinion into something he wants us to  believe is a  fact. Example: Chinese investment in the Auckland housing market. Never mind the statistics which at least one Asian real estate agent pretty much confirmed, or that this trend is an everyday reality in Auckland. Key didn’t address the issue and both he and his Denier-in-Chief Steven Joyce, launched ad hominem attacks on Labour.

With almost theatrical longing Key said this was not the old Labour  he knew.   Trouble is, he has a problem in his own political backyard. Why? Because National sure ain’t the moderate Party we all knew long before it went further to the Right than most western societies in the early 1990s.   If Labour sold out an entire country in 1984, the Nats including this administration, followed suit as soon as they took office.   Don’t you just long for the old days of Kiwi Keith. And even Rob Muldoon, who at least genuinely cared for that forgotten person, Rob’s ‘ordinary bloke’.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.