Author Archives: Anita

About Anita

A Wellington feminist wondering how to make politics something real people can do.

What should I think about Dunne?

The thing that has struck me about the current Dunne based fuss is the number of times I end up saying “I just don’t know what I should think …”

1) Should Dunne have released the email content he received?

I started off thinking “it depends if they were sent in a professional or personal capacity”. If he had emails from a school principal talking about the effects on current special education funding on workloads, I feel like they should be released. If he had emails from the same principal about her frustrations with the RMA process and the townhouses being built which will shade out her garden, then they shouldn’t be released without her permission. Similarly, I think, if they are in a professional capacity but contain personal information about either the writer or, even more so, they should be withheld (for example principal talking about the effects on a particular student).

Then… does it matter that the emails were from a journalist? … I think so … both because she should have been more aware than most people who email a Minister about how the system works (so should have less expectation of privacy perhaps) and also because we rely on journalists to make things open which would otherwise be hidden from us (so, perhaps, should have more expectation of discretion).

So… I dunno :)

2) Couldn’t he have released the contents to David Henry based on an agreement that Henry wouldn’t further release them…

I think no. If the issue is privacy then no, showing them to Henry is unfair on the individual’s privacy. We’ve all seen situations in which a secret was told to “just one other person”, causing distress to the person whose secret it actually was.

On the other hand … if we’re talking about protecting how journalism needs to work to serve the public rather than protecting privacy … still probably no. The whole point of the Henry report was to find out how the leak occurred, if Vance wanted to contribute to that discussion (to rule out Dunne, for example) she is free to do that by releasing her emails – it is not up to Dunne to make that choice for her.

3) Should we be discussing Dunne’s motivations?

I think yes … but a little less salacious glee would be nice, and some care of other people’s privacy is required. Dunne is a public figure, who has admitted to doing a foolish thing in his public role – discussing the why is a reasonable thing. But … there is a point at which is just becomes prurience or schadenfreude. There is also a point at which is crosses a line into delving into other people’s lives way more than can be justified if we’re only interested in why one man did a foolish thing.

4) Should Vance’s role in all of this be up for discussion?

Um… no idea :) Discussing how journalists get their information seems up for discussion, unevidenced discussions of her personal life and ethics not so much. But… and this I am sure of … if someone wants her role to be up for discussion they should explicitly raise it “Vance did this thing here, and it is good/bad/ethical/unethical/whatever”, the problem at the moment is that no-one is actually saying that, they’re just all saying things about someone else and in passing accusing her of something left grey and unable to be responded to.

5) Is there a thread of sexism in here that we should be aware of?

I think so. When Peters says “there’s no fool like an old fool” he is explicitly calling on a stereotype about older men – and we can discuss whether it’s fair or accurate or relevant. But he is also implicitly reinforcing a stereotype about pretty young women who use their feminine wiles to further their careers – and we don’t seem to have room to debate that. I think that young women, working in politics, journalism, or anywhere else, could live without any more reinforcement of the view that it is blindingly obviously and completely normal they use sex to get ahead.

When the media says a cop is no more than a woman

If Hayden Donnell of the Herald didn’t have a head full of preconceptions about policewomen and women fighting this is how his article would start

Female cCop bashed, loses hair

A policewoman officer has head wounds and clumps of hair missing after being assaulted while attending a domestic dispute near Huntly.

Two officers – one male and one female – were set upon by four people soon after arriving at an alcohol-fuelled dispute at a Glen Afton property at about 1:30am this morning.

Police said the femaleone officer was hit in the head and had clumps of her hair pulled out by a womanperson at the house.

The media has a lot of power in setting social norms, effectively in telling us stories about ourselves. This is yet another example of the low-level ingrained sexism it exhibits.

When the media says a woman is no more than a whore

A man moves in with his girlfriend. A few months later, in an argument over the rent, he strangles her to death.

Media coverage:

Nuttidar Vaikaew was killed by her partner, as many women are in our country. She wasn’t killed because she was a prostitute, she was killed because the man she lived with was angry and in his mind extreme physical violence was an acceptable way of reacting to his anger.

If she had been a cleaner, or a lawyer, or a consultant her profession wouldn’t be front and centre in the headlines because it would be her job, not her whole identity. It’s there because of a subtext about women who do sex work: they get themselves killed; they are not girlfriends, wives or mothers; they are no more than whores.

Perverse incentives

The National-ACT spending cap:

The spending cap legislation will “within the next two years provide that core Crown operating spending … will be subject to a spending limit”, which will allow spending growth “no faster than the annual increase in the rate of population growth multiplied by the rate of inflation.”

The new regime will exclude spending on unemployment benefits, asset impairments and natural disasters.

Doesn’t that create an incentive to the public sector to increase inflation? (Only in things that individuals and families need, of course)

Not to mention incentives to:

  • not remove overstayers
  • write off assets to avoid the on-going depreciation
  • import loads of cheap foreign labour
  • increase the birthrate (that’s a longer term strategy :)
  • categorise more things as national disasters (see – I didn’t suggest they should create national disasters :)
  • and so on.

(I expect the incentives to suppress public sector wage growth and casualise the workforce are deliberate)

There may be many criticisms of the Public Sector, but no-one has ever said they can’t read the hidden signals and navigate government policy.

Threshold analysis of the preliminary results

One of the debates in the MMP review will be the thresholds, so here’s the effect on the preliminary results:

 

At a 1% or 2% threshold the Conservatives would have got three seats (two from National, one from Labour) giving their 55,070 voters a voice in Parliament. National + Conservatives would have held a bare outright majority of 121, add in United Future and ACT and they have 123 and a comfortable bloc without any reliance on the Māori Party.

With no threshold ALCP would have taken another seat off National. National + Conservatives would no longer have an outright majority, National + Conservative + UF + ACT would hold 122.

Obviously this is without the special votes, and ignore the fact that with a lower threshold more people may have been willing to vote Conservative or ALCP as their votes would not have been wasted.

115-125: Who’s at risk? Who might gain?

The Sainte-Laguë formula is used to allocate the 120 proportional seats in parliament. By calculating it out we can see which parties have only just got seats, and which have nearly got another one.

The full table is here: [download id=”4″] , and the edge case seats are:

  • 115 National
  • 116 Labour
  • 117 National
  • 118 National
  • 119 Labour
  • 120 National
  • ——
  • 121 NZ First
  • 122 National
  • 123 Greens
  • 124 Labour
  • 125 National

The summary is that if the specials are roughly similar to the on-the-night count then the most likely party to lose a seat is National, the most likely to gain is NZ First.

That said, the specials are different, some patterns are common as they’re most likely people out of electorate or only recently enrolled. Given the general wisdom that the Greens tend to do well with the specials then one could argue the most likely scenario is the Greens jumping from 123 to 120 and taking a seat off National.


Updated with the content of a comment I made over at The Standard:

If we ignore the whole Christchurch factor (which I am thinking will lead to unusual behaviour in the specials) it would be a pretty safe assumption that National will drop one seat after specials – they have the 120th quotient and a tradition of doing poorly at specials.

Christchurch gives me a headache – specials caused by Christchurch will have to be people still enrolled in Chch but living/voting somewhere else, or people still living in Chch but not in their own electorate. Are they more likely to be the more wealthy (the exodus is reportedly quite strong amongst more well-off professionals who can easily get a job somewhere else)? Or the poorer (given their suburbs were hit worst)?

My gut says that the well-off professionals most likely have a home elsewhere now, and did the mail redirection thing, so got moved to the roll in their new town. The poor are more likely camping out with friends and family, quite possibly within the wider region, so haven’t been moved to another roll yet. So I’m guessing that the effect of the Christchurch quakes will be to swing specials even more toward the left than usual.

 


Update: here’s the table for the finals: [download id=”5″]

Clint Rickards and the Waipareira Trust

My first reaction to the news that Clint Rickards was elected to the Waipareira Trust Board was outrage.

The second was a stern lecture to myself about the fact everyone, even rapists, deserves a second chance, rehabilitation, and forgiveness.

After some reflection and chat I reckon outrage is fair. Rickards has a history of abusing a position of power, of taking sexual advantage of the vulnerability of youth, and of condoning and supporting rapists. The role he has taken is one of power, of authority, and of governing and directing services and interactions with the young and the vulnerable. He is in a position to shape the culture of the Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust.

Sure, he deserves a chance to apologise, make amends, and rehabilitate himself – but that’s not what he’s done.

This is a man who, in the recent past, said that the gang rape of a young woman was ok. He has never apologised and said he was wrong. He has consistent spoken against the victims of rape.

He is not a man who deserves a leadership role, and not one who can be trusted with power.

John Key spanking behind closed doors

A few days ago the DomPost ran on p2 a generally positive story about John Key’s parenting which contained, without comment, the follow paragraph:

“Apparently it’s called planking but I don’t know – if we hadn’t changed the law, it would have rapidly moved to spanking,” [John Key] joked in a speech to the Parents Inc fathers’ breakfast in Wellington yesterday.

It struck me at the time that it was a joke at odds with the image of Key publicly taking credit for brokering the passage of the legislation. Of course it wasn’t a public joke, it was to an an entirely friendly audience pulled together by Parents Inc[1], of men paying $59 a head to hear Key, Gordon Tiejtens, and others and “enjoying the fellowship of other men”. This is reminiscent of Key joking about Tuhoe being cannibals, again Key showing a reactionary conservative face to an appreciative audience behind closed doors.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, perhaps John Key’s public/private image contrast is no more than we can hope for. But shouldn’t the media be looking out for and commenting on this? If he’d told an equivalent joke about beating his wife, having sex with a 15 year old, or snorting cocaine, would the media have taken the time to point out the contrast?

 

[1] Parents Inc, a conservative Christian organisation, lobbied against the repeal of section 59, and has since had National appoint its Executive Officer to a term as a Family Commissioner and, more recently, had $2.4million of untendered contract awarded to it.

Trading away our political rights for the chance to serve the public

Over the last few weeks I’ve been considering returning to blogging; I seem to have the energy to do it again, and it can be just plain fun.

A couple of times I’ve been sitting in a bus or cafe with a post half written in my head and remembered the lanyard around my neck or in my handbag. You see, like many of my fellow Wellingtonians I seem to have traded away my rights to political speech. That lanyard has two cards on it, each representing a whole area of news and policy I can’t safely post about.

Worse than that I have to consider whether being politically outspoken on other issues might prevent another organisation giving me an access card in the future. Can I, should I, risk my employment, my mortgage, my home, potentially the financial welfare of colleagues, to speak out politically? I know people who have lost contracts, on-going work, livelihoods even because of their public political speech.

Cameron Slater’s recent antics have only heightened that sense, people I have worked alongside are worried – what would the consequence of them being named as a Labour Party donor be? Would their employer be willing to leave their name on a document going to the Minister? If not, what happens to their career? What happens when their contract next comes up for renewal?

The interesting thing is that when, in the past, I’ve had private sector clients the pressure was never so great. Sure when working at Fonterra I would have been foolish to post accusations of deliberate environmental contamination, but I could happily have posted about the price of milk, and the effects of freight on roads rather than rail. Meat and Wool never seemed particularly worried I’m vegetarian.

Why is it that our public servants, often people who take their jobs out of a genuine belief they can make things better, are so confined in their political activities? And how can we change it, particularly as public servants speaking out against those constraints are probably putting themselves at risk?

In the interests of some disclosure… I am not a public servant, I am a private sector employee who frequently works within Public Service organisations. I have not intention of listing which organisations at which time, or which topics I’m not posting on – that way lies chaos.

Voting in the Dark Ages

The voting papers arrived at my house over the weekend and present something of a dilemma. One member of our household is in the UK for the election; he still, not unreasonably, wants to exercise his vote. After ringing the assistance number on my voting paper I was told that the only possible legal way for him to vote is for me to mail or courier his papers to him, then he should fill them out and mail them back.

It is, apparently, impossible to cast any sort of vote in local body elections using faxes, scans, emails, or any other new fangled contraption, or in fact any other means to allow overseas voting. In central government elections overseas voting is entirely permitted and supported.

New Zealand Post lists international mail as 3-10 working days, so it’s impossible to be sure he could actually vote if I did mail them to him. My cheapest option is “International Economy Courier” (2-6 working days) at $30 to get the papers to him, then he’d have to courier them back presumably at a similar cost.

So, three questions:

1) What would be wrong with allowing faxed, scan-and-emailed or election office supported overseas voting in local body elections?

2) Is it reasonable that voting in our local body elections should cost someone ~$60?

3) Doesn’t this provide a rather strong incentive for some illegal (but entirely ethical IMO) voting practices in households like mine?