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Archive for February, 2014

Enter the dragon – David Cunliffe names Matt McCarten as his chief of staff

David Cunliffe closing the 2005 Auckland BioBlitz

David Cunliffe closing the 2005 Auckland BioBlitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is this Labour’s game-changer?  We shall find out in due course.

Matt McCarten (Photo: Simon Wong)

Former Alliance president Matt McCarten has been named as the Labour Party’s new chief of staff.

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe made the announcement this afternoon with Mr McCarten in the party’s caucus room.

Mr Cunliffe believes Mr McCarten will “add a lot” to the party and called him one of the best political strategists in the country.

Mr McCarten was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, but is now in remission “for some reason”.

“My Christian friends say I’m here because I’ve still got work to do.”

Mr McCarten is the third chief of staff the party has had in recent months, and replaces Wendy Brandon who was only in the job for five months.

Ms Brandon, a respected Auckland lawyer, resigned earlier this month after taking up the job in September for medical reasons.

She was appointed following Mr Cunliffe taking over leadership and took over from France Mold, who resigned after former leader David Shearer stood down.

Former Labour researcher Dave Talbot has also been appointed as the party’s general election campaign manager.

Mr McCarten is the head of the Unite union, which represents low-paid workers, particularly in the hospitality industry.

In 2010, he unsuccessfully stood as an independent candidate in the Mana by-election.

3 News  / NZN


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Shaista Shameen – legal apologist for Bainimarama Fijian coup

Prime Minister of Fiji Addresses General Assembly

Prime Minister of Fiji Addresses General Assembly (Photo credit: United Nations Photo)

Fiji Parliament House, Suva

Fiji Parliament House, Suva (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Suva lawyer who allegedly helped provide legal justification for Fiji military strongman Frank Bainimarama and was later labelled one of the 2006 coup’s main beneficiaries has been appointed as a professor at Massey University.

The university has named Shaista Shameem ”director-new migrants”.

Massey publicity makes no mention of her Fiji coup role or her action over the unprecedented deportation of New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Fiji, the late Michael Green, in 2007.

In her first press statement in her new role she attacked NZ  First leader Winston Peters and urged him to ”consider his words” when discussing migration.

But Shameem makes no reference to her own 35-page report as head of the Fiji Human Rights Commission justifying the coup.

The overthrown democratic government had been ”involved in massive violations of human rights in Fiji, constituting crimes against humanity, and made serious attempts to impose ethnic cleansing tactics in Fiji”, she said.

Her sister, Fiji High Court judge Nazhat Shameem, is on New Zealand’s smart sanctions banned list for her close involvement with Bainimarama over the sacking of the judicial system and the dumping of the constitution.

Shaista Shameem has permanent residency and so cannot  be blacklisted. Massey University, in a statement through a spokesman, said Shameem had advised them that “she played no role in the 2006 removal of government/coup by Bainimarama.”

She defended her 35-page report saying that she had made a submission “critical of a proposed law to stop people who were not ethnic Fijians from accessing public areas and also critical of other forms of racial discrimination in government policy”.

She said that her role between the coup and 2009 was to “provide advice to government and the public on human rights issues”.

She denied any role in having Green either removed by New Zealand or deported by Fiji. In her statement about Peters, she said he was making migrant children the victims of ”racial violence in the playground and classrooms”.

Mr Peters, who is in Taiwan, said he was shocked Massey had created a position for someone he described as ”such a darned dreadful woman”.

”Her track record is appalling, she has been an outright apologist for the coup,” he said.

”From her position as Fiji Humans Rights Commission director she supported the 2006 Bainimarama coup, and was appointed ombudsman – an appointment considered unlawful by an international human rights group.”

She is well known for failing to investigate human rights abuses during and following the coup”In his autobiography published after his death in 2012, Green said he believed Shameem offered Fiji’s military ”wholehearted support for the coup.’

He also alleged she had telephoned his bosses in Wellington to get him removed.When he wasn’t removed, he alleged she advised Bainimarama to expel him.”

It is not far-fetched to think that one or other of these advisers gave Bainimarama the idea that saying this might damage my reputation and justify my expulsion,” Green wrote.

Green, who wrote the book while ill with terminal cancer, said an event had confirmed the accuracy of a ”variety of sources that Shaista was among a number of lawyers outside the (army’s) legal team who tendered advice to (Bainimarama).”

She had been acting with her sister and, Green said, in due course the women and another ”were to be beneficiaries of the coup.”

”The document reeked of the personal score-settling that characterised so much of the behaviour of the coup perpetrators,” Green said of Shameem.

Shameem had said that what happened in 2006 had not been a coup and said Bainimarama had ”delegated sovereign authority”.

She calimed in the report prime minister of the time Helen Clark made statements about Fiji that were not particularly helpful.

”She used undiplomatic language to describe what she thought was the state of the (Bainimarama’s) mental health and wrongly accused him of ‘ripping up the constitution’,” she said.

Clark’s comments had been ”unnecessary and potentially dangerous for the safety of the people of Fiji.”

Acknowledgements:   © Fairfax NZ News

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Not just locals concerned at stadium proposal for Petone – the whole city will be concerned at the $25 million price-tag


Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ray Wallace


TALKING POINT: Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace, right, discusses the proposed Petone Arena…

Petone residents have voiced concerns over plans for a 12,000-seat boutique football stadium.

Wellington Phoenix co-owner Gareth Morgan has floated the idea of the new stadium, at the Petone Recreation Ground.

About 140 people discussed the proposed Petone Arena at a meeting at the Petone Baptist Church last night. Meeting chairman Carl Bakker said locals would end up with a view of the back of the stands if the proposal went ahead.

There was nothing to be gained regionally, he said.

Bars and restaurants in Wellington would lose out, while those in Petone would gain business. “If you put on a regional hat, this is a loser.”

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace clashed with Mr Bakker and sections of the audience after taking exception to the way the meeting was being run.

The Petone Arena was being presented as a foregone conclusion, he said. “We haven’t even started our consultation process yet. I’m just concerned that people will be lying awake at night thinking this is a done deal.”

Local resident Peter Drake said he feared losing access to the Petone Rec, which bordered his home. “We don’t want to pay for a stadium that could become a white elephant.” Noise and parking were also concerns, he said.

Mr Drake asked why other sites were not considered, such as NZ Post’s soon-to-be-closed mail centre in Petone.

Under the plan, Petone Arena would become a new home for the Wellington Phoenix. Lower Hutt ratepayers would have to pay $25 million of the $45m-$48m cost, the Phoenix owners funding the rest.

In a letter to residents, the chairman of the Hutt City Council-controlled Community Facilities Trust Alister Skene said the proposal came “out of the blue” because of commercial sensitivity.

“Because of the high public profile of the Phoenix, it was important to release the concept nationally. Both Gareth and I stressed the proposal was at an early stage.”

Tomorrow the trust will formally ask the Hutt City Council to include a provision for $25m in its draft Annual Plan.

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Ageism alleged in over-40’s funding cut…

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New cost-cutting measures affecting older students have put the Government under fire for age discrimination.

The Human Rights Commission is investigating an Auckland student’s complaint that a new policy affecting those aged 40 and over breaches human rights laws.

Tatiana Kniazeva, 47, dreams of becoming a nurse, but she has been losing sleep since discovering last month her allowance would be cut halfway through her degree.

“Who decided over-40s? I feel bad about my age now,” she said. “I can’t do cleaning all my life. I really love nursing. I’m empathetic and like helping people.”

The new policy, which came into effect this year, restricts student allowance access to three years for those over 40. The Human Rights Commission confirmed it has received six complaints over the new policy, including Kniazeva’s.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said the “blunt instrument” policy appears to undermine the Government’s desire to upskill the workforce.

“It’s such a contradiction to all those messages we’ve been getting about retraining and participating in the workforce.

“Whether you take it as ageism or just stupid legislation, it doesn’t matter, but it’s a blunt instrument they’re using rather than something more selective.”

Kniazeva is one of 17,000 people over 40 who study each year, according to a Tertiary Education report.

The policy change was announced in the 2013 budget and is expected to save the Government about $10 million over four years.

Kniazeva said she was shocked to discover an English course and health certificate she completed would later count against her when the new policy came in retrospectively.

“I’m financially stressed and can’t sleep at night. It’s the last thing you need as a student.”

She said she wanted to work, but her nursing degree took more time than a fulltime job as she tackled lectures, job placements and assignments.

The Government also sparked claims of age discrimination in 2011 when it decided to restrict access to loans for those aged 55 and over. Students aged over 65 also no longer qualify for the allowance from this year.

The Human Rights Commission has received 35 complaints and inquiries about the Government’s age-restrictive student policies since 2011. The commission can enter into mediation with the Government over complaints. If that fails, it can refer people on to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

NZ Union of Students’ Associations president Daniel Haines said the policy was incredibly discriminative towards older students wanting to upskill and was another measure in the Government’s cost-saving crackdown on students.

“It’s a way to shave students off the side.”

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said he took advice on whether the policy was discriminatory. “We’re comfortable that it doesn’t breach the Human Rights Act. The Government is allowed to direct policy against particular groups.”

The policy changes were aimed at reining in the cost of student allowances and the loan scheme.

Students can still access the student loan scheme when their allowance eligibility runs out.

Acknowledgements:  © Fairfax NZ News

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Kiwi low earners struggle on less than a living wage..


The living wage calculation of how much a family needs to live a basic but comfortable life has risen but some Tauranga families are struggling on much less.

Living Wage Aotearoa, an organisation campaigning for employers to pay their staff a wage sufficient to support a small family in relative comfort, has raised the figure it said would meet these needs.

Last year the living wage sat at $18.40, it has been re-evaluated and raised to $18.80. The minimum wage is currently $13.75.

The Bay of Plenty Times spoke to two single mothers struggling to get by on an income less than the living wage.

Emma Harvey said her Working for Families allowance had recently been cut and she now earned less money in her full-time job than she would get on a benefit.

“I’ve been notified by IRD that my Working for Families has been cut, not because I’m earning too much but just in case I get overpaid.

“That’s $150 a week out of my income which is a huge amount for someone in my position.”

Ms Harvey said she enjoyed working and providing for her family but when it came down to the “nitty gritty” she would be better off on a benefit when taking sick leave and child care arrangements into account.

Single mother Nikki, who spoke on condition her surname was not published, said her full-time job covered her rent and power only.

Her Working for Families allowance of $200 a week had also been cut, and her mother was in the process of applying for a loan so Nikki could buy food and petrol in coming months.

“A living wage would make a huge difference. My daughter came home yesterday with a notice about a swimming sports thing that costs $22 per child.”

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce acting chief executive Anne Pankhurst said she was aware people were struggling on low wages, but enforcing a living wage could cause more problems than it solved.

“Right now, there are statistics that show 48 per cent of businesses have not given staff a pay raise over the last year because of their own business position.

“It’s a very difficult step to make.”

Acknowledgements:   BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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Storm’s Matt Duffie to miss all 2014 season…

Duffie training

Melbourne Storm winger Matt Duffie will undergo knee surgery after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury at training yesterday.

Scans today revealed the extent of the 23-year old’s injury, following an accidental collision at training. Unfortunately the injury will see Duffie miss the 2014 NRL season.

Melbourne Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi confirmed the injury as well as the club’s continued support of the young winger.

“Matt is a very well liked and respected young man by all players and staff, everyone at the club is devastated for him,” Ponissi said.

“He is understandably shattered, and the club will continue to support him in every way on and off the field.”

After missing a large part of the 2013 season due to injury, Duffie’s hard work in rehabilitation enabled him to line-up for the club’s opening trial match of 2014, before travelling to Auckland last weekend as a part of Storm’s Auckland Nines campaign.

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The lawyer firing Colin Craig’s bullets…


He looks like Colin Craig and represents Colin Craig – right now in his potential defamation action against Green Party co-leadeer Russel Norman – but Chapman Tripp‘s John McKay is not a man to be taken lightly.

And so client Craig’s warning that he requires a “Big Gay Out” apology about the comments made about him by the co-leader, is one that follows Craig’s form for not taking outrageous or outraged statements about his various comments ranging from moon landings to gay marriage lying down.Mr Mckay is a litigator who has advised on an array of issues from representing James Hardie over leaky building claims to advising “high net worth individuals” on defamation and privacy disputes, according to Chapman Tripp’s website.

The Green countdown, which expires on Friday, requires Russel Norman to retract statements made at the Big Gay Out event in Auckland, which Mr Norman said Mr Craig should take on the chin rather than running to the lawyers.He said the Mr Craig’s comments about gay relationships not being normal and New Zealand women being promiscuous were offensive.”

Colin Craig now has a track record of making allegations of defamation if someone says something about his views that he does not like. I don’t plan to back down from my statements because of a lawyer’s letter. New Zealanders want to hear freely from their politicians.

Colin Craig appears to want all our statements run past lawyers.”Dr Norman said he had not defamed Mr Craig.

The comments were made in the context of a political speech and were obviously metaphors to illustrate an outdated view about women and gay people.

He said Mr Craig’s views “belong in 1950s New Zealand.”He said Dr Norman’s comments did not reflect his views.”I can’t believe he would think [I believed] a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

If you look at our party policy and the way I’ve lived my life it’s pretty clear our policy is that a woman should have choice. If they want to be in the home – and I would not limit that to the kitchen for a moment – they should have that option. If they want to be in the paid workforce they should have that option. It couldn’t be more wrong.”

He said his wife was an equal partner in his business and had worked with him in it for 15 years. “So I find it quite an offensive statement to think I might think these things, and certainly to publicise that nationally has gone too far.”He said he did not have a problem with homosexuality, although he had opposed changing the definition of marriage in the law to allow gay people to marry.”We’ve made it very clear we think people have the freedom to choose and live whatever lifestyles. People are going to choose what they’re going to choose. You can’t take people and put them in some sort of closet.”

The NZ Herald reported that Mr McKay’s letter from Chapman Tripp “invites” Dr Norman to issue a retraction of the statements in a form which was likely to receive similar prominence on television.”

Neither the context of an election year nor the occasion of the Big Gay Out provide you with a licence to say anything you like about Mr Craig ….They are also defamatory as it harms [Craig’s] reputation to say he holds such sexist, derogatory and offensive views about women and gay men.”Mr Craig said he was aware different rules applied to politicians under the Defamation Act and it was an election year, but said Mr Norman had couched his comments as statements of fact rather than opinion.

He said if Dr Norman refused to apologise, he would consider taking it further including going to court.”Our assessment is that it does cross the line. We set that standard that says things politicians say need to be more accurate, or express an opinion. It’s a reasonably polite request, I think, and all we’ve asked for is a retraction and an apology.”

Have a story for LawFuel – NZ’s leading law news site?  Email us at

Source: LawFuel – NZ Herald

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The Ombudsman’s Orders: John Banks should release his Police statement if he has nothing to hide…

John Banks, Mayor of Auckland City, New Zealan...

John Banks, Mayor of Auckland City, New Zealand. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reopening of Grafton Bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ombudsman’s orders: John Banks can’t hide

If ACT MP John Banks really has ‘nothing to fear, nothing to hide’ he should have voluntarily allowed police to release his statement into allegations of corruption, Labour’s Associate Security and Intelligence spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Ombudsman’s ruling today proves Labour was right to pursue the release of this information. This is a matter of high public interest involving a sitting electorate MP. “Ombudsman Ron Paterson has found the majority of Bank’s statement to Police about donations to his 2010 mayoralty campaign should be released. “However now the matter is before the court, it can’t be made public until proceedings against Banks have concluded. “John Key should have demanded to see this statement or get an explanation from Banks as to how he could forget being handed a $15,000 donation from Sky City and meeting Kim Dotcom. “John Banks must now be aware that his insistence on secrecy is a farce when there is already so much information about these allegations in the public arena,” Grant Robertson says.
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Study confirms Marijuana helps with Multiple Sclerosis…

[215 Garden Club]


Researchers Note Cannabis Impacts Cognitive Function — But So Do Other MS Drugs

Smoking marijuana cuts spasticity and pain that’s resistant to conventional treatments in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), although it does have some cognitive effects as well, a small clinical trial in 2012 unsurprisingly confirmed.

Spasticity scores on the modified Ashworth scale dropped by an average 2.74 points more with smoked cannabis than with a placebo, researchers at the University of California San Diego found, reports Crystal Phend at MedPage Today.

A difference or two or more points is considered clinically meaningful on the 30-point Ashworth scale which covers mobility of elbows, hips, and knees, report Jody Corey-Bloom, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at UCSD. The researchers reported their findings online in CMAJ.



Jodey Core-Bloom, M.D., Ph.D.: "We saw a beneficial effect of smoked cannabis on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis among our participants" [Prime]

Jodey Corey-Bloom, M.D., Ph.D.: “We saw a beneficial effect of smoked cannabis on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis among our participants”

Besides the positive effects on spasticity, pain scores decreased by about 50 percent as well, the researchers reported. “We saw a beneficial effect of smoked cannabis on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis among our participants,” Corey-Bloom said.


The findings regarding smoked marijuana support anecdotal evidence from many MS patients who say smoking the herb relieves spasticity, the researchers noted. About 400,000 pepole in the United States have MS, an unpredictable, often disabling chronic disease in which the protective coating around nerve fibers starts breaking down.

The disease attacks the myelin, which is wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system, and among other symptoms, cash cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis, reports Paul Irish at The Star.

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Medical Cannabis Club

Medical Cannabis Club (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

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Key says fair enough, if the next incoming government stops Dotcom’s extradition to US…

English: John Key, leader of the New Zealand N...

English: John Key, leader of the New Zealand National Party Македонски: Џон Ки, лидер на Новозеландската национална партија. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Official photo of Russel Norman, Co-l...

English: Official photo of Russel Norman, Co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, supplied by the Green Party webmaster. See “You are allowed to use…” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Kim Dotcom (Getty)
Kim Dotcom (Getty)








Prime Minister John Key says it is “fair enough” if opposition parties choose to stop Kim Dotcom’s extradition, should they win this year’s election.

Green Party leader Russel Norman told 3 News on Monday that if his party was in power, they would stop the extradition process.

“If you are in Government you would have to look at the lawful rules around it – you don’t want a Government that is acting unlawful,” said Mr Norman.

Under the Extradition Act, the Government of the day’s Justice Minister has the final say on whether someone stays in New Zealand or goes – meaning Dotcom could be saved.

Labour leader David Cunliffe however, says he “hasn’t formed my view” on the matter yet.

Mr Key says New Zealand has an extradition treaty with the United States, which complicates the issue.

“New Zealand has extradited people from the United States, and without that treaty, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” he said on Firstline this morning. “These are people that have been involved in crimes I think a lot of New Zealanders would find quite abhorrent.”

Mr Key believes that under the treaty there’s no reason for a political party to intervene in an extradition, providing the person is going to face a charge similar to what they would here, and they aren’t going to face the death penalty – which Dotcom isn’t.

“So if they are, as political parties, saying they’re going to pull out of the treaty that we have, fair enough, of course they’re entitled to do that,” he says.

Dotcom will just have to hope Labour and the Greens win the election so he at least has a chance of staying.

Acknowledgements:  3 News

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