Monday, July 27, 2015

The Next National Anthem

Artist Grahame Sydney was on NatRad this afternoon criticising the Change the Flag campaign when what we really should be changing is the National Anthem. Why can't we do both?

Surely, Sydney's soapbox has been made more relevant because of the flag competition? It's irrelevant anyway because I completely agree with him. God Defend NZ is a terrible dirge "saturated in god" as Sydney points out.

It was only made official in 1977 when the Queen came to visit for her Jubilee Tour and Muldoon had nothing to give her apart from a law making Thomas Bracken's paean to Anglicism compulsory.

The coin dropped for both Sydney as well as new Afternoons host Jesse Mulligan when they discovered that NZ has two official anthems. God Save the Queen is the other one. The original colonial song, so to speak.

You can see why Muldoon gave Queenie an old but new song as a present. During all future visits to NZ, Liz wouldn't have to listen quite so often to those most over-played bars of bad music. Is there an official record of how many times she's had to grimace through God Save the Queen at varying levels of musicianship?

The dual national anthem is an important precedent though. It shows a way Key could have sold the flag change without all the bad voodoo from the RSA. Two flags for the price of one.

It also shows how swapping out God Save the Queen for something more relevant and less anachronistic would avoid more spilt beer too.

I've had half a crack at a New National Anthem before. Others say Trinity Roots' Home Land and Sea should be it. Here's something I've been working on for a few months now. It still needs work and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if I don't win. It'll do just fine as an icebreaker though:

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand
The only thing our old ones
Were guilty of was

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand
Through wind, rain and fine sunshine
Walk barefoot proudly
Into the future

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand
Our banner is not our cape
There's no religion
Except sport, of course

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand
Our wildlife will not kill you
But beware the land

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand
Our cops are the least fascist
The courts least corrupt
Bent, never broken

Fuck Australia, This is New Zealand
Don't expect too much from it
You might just like it
One day ahead

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

Friday, July 17, 2015

Another Great Divide

A couple of days ago, Bastille Day in fact, I observed that it was 31 years since the Fourth Labour Government swept into power with a landslide victory. It was never boring, I cheered. Don't remember Labour cheering the 30th last year. Mind you, Cunliffe was in charge and Dagg knows where his head was at.

This year's Labour model appears to be terminally dog-locked to NZ First strategy. Way they're going, I wouldn't put it past Winston to attempt a reverse take-over. There can be only one populist on this pulpit, and the old werewolf knows his pressure points better than any of Labour's front row on the subject.

But you can't run a major party on that platform. The many hands of activism make Labour's light work. That's the crux of labour versus capital right there. You reckon Bob Jones spends his evenings cold calling party supporters to run some lines past them? Nah, fuck that. Here's $25,000.

As last year's electoral returns showed, Labour wasn't exactly getting showered with sponsors and patrons. They were outspent by the Nats and the Greens. Colin Craig even gave them a run for their money, if not in the spend per vote stakes. The unions short-changed the party in meagre donations yet somehow managed to wedge in a union-based leader, president and chief of staff.

So bit by bit, Labour continues to fight in ever diminishing circles, with an inexorably decreasing base to defend. It might yet disappear up its own fundament, sharting on the hard work of Labour luminaries such as Walding, Clark and company whilst doing so.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Watching the Detectives

The Judicial Review of the Hager raid by the police last year has finished Day One of an anticipated three day season. Jon Stephenson covers the high and dry of it here. At stake is truth, justice and all that jazz.

It has taken me some time to parse the whole Dirty Politics saga, soaking in it as I was all those years as a blogger. Reading Nicky Hagar's book on the subject, what surprised me most was not so much the tactics employed but the elaborate collaboration behind the scenes. The sheer stage-managed nature of it all. I felt like a complete Frankenfurter.

There was also the Key government to consider. I had seen the NZ Defence Force take a smack at Stephenson before, during and after his Eyes Wide Shut article in Metro magazine. Before that, accidental journalist Bradley Ambrose's recording of the Key/Banks tea party in 2011 and the resulting cop scrum that descended upon him and the MSM.

More recently, Dakta Green accusing some police of perjury has seen him crushed under a grand piano of scrutiny by them. You can't mess with the status quo and walk away unscathed. Quite how I've managed so far without liability, I attribute to presenting a small target as well as maintaining a variety of wild cards up my sleeves. Fiddling with asymmetries.

Suffice it to say, sub judice pending, that I hope the Judicial Review is successful. Ten hour fishing trips in a journalist's home when they are in absentia is disproportionate and has a chilling effect on reporting. There's evidence to suggest that police broke the court's sealing of evidence, which probably means the GCSB and SIS have been through the allegedly sealed documents too. Hagar had been worked on the Snowden leaks, and it doesn't take much to join dots there.

Without investigative journalism, all we're left with is press releases and native advertising. That's not a Fourth Estate. That's prostitution.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Missed Targets

We were somewhere on Auckland's North Shore when the bus ran out of diesel. Driver had forgotten to check the tank with the stick that morning. It was difficult to tell exactly where we were, as anything north of Takapuna and Glenfield looks exactly the same. Deepest suburbia, brick and tiled hills. No signs of life on the streets but the constant grind of traffic.

Auckland had grown so quickly in the last twenty years, most of these suburbs were farms in the 1980's. In the 1990's the Bolger government had the bright idea of loosening immigration criteria as a cheap way to pump skilled labour and someone else's capital into the economy. Cheap but not frictionless.

Brits escaping Thatcher/Major mingled with Afrikaaners fleeing the collapse of Apartheid in the ahistoric North Shore housing estates. Economic refugees fleeing Mugabe worked alongside political refugees from Iran and Iraq. Jews lived next to Arabs without all hell breaking loose.

Immigration consultants helped grease these wheels, including former Muldoon minister Aussie Malcolm and former Bolger minister for Immigration Tuariki Delamere. Their deep understanding of the law, as well as their contacts in the sector gleaned during years of public office, helped their clients squeeze the most out of NZ's immigrant points system.

In 2011, the Key government loosened the entry criteria. In essence, lump sum residencies were allowed. The easiest way to invest a lump sum once you arrive in the country is to buy property. That would explain when the Auckland bubble began to depart from the norm:

Bolger got away with it a bit in the 1990's, when NZers were still piling offshore to find a decent pay packet. The international student market was just taking off here, with ESOL schools not far behind. The only side-effect was giving Winston Peters a soapbox to bash him with.

But after the GFC, and a few years later when the bottom fell out of Australia's mining boom, Key's Auckland is fit to burst as natives stay put and new natives continue to pour in. The price is painfully clear.

See? Not a single dog-whistle in there, but three shots hitting National. None of that mucking about with surnames. I understand Singapore's full of ethnic Chinese.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Leaving Pook Farm; Generation Rent Edition

My suspicions were first aroused when my property manager told me not to panic. The absentee landlord in Australia had decided to sell up, but not until much later in the year.

That was late February. 28 days later, she wrote to say that the real estate guy had convinced the landlord to sell up right now. Within a week, any reasonable expectation of privacy at Pook Farm had been shattered.

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 has this to say on the subject of when a landlord decides to sell a tenanted property:
47. Landlord to give notice to tenant of intention to sell
(1) If, at any time after entering into a tenancy agreement, the landlord puts the premises on the market for the purposes of sale or other disposition, the landlord shall forthwith give written notice of that fact to the tenant.

(2) When a landlord is offering residential premises as available for letting, the landlord shall inform prospective tenants if the premises are on the market for the purposes of sale or other disposition.
That's it. No mitigation for the sudden inconvenience. In fairness, this law was written years before all the cowboys rode into the landlord business following the Bolger government's state house sell-off in the early 1990's.

I had been living at Pook Farm for close to four years. For all its faults- threadbare original 1950's carpet, cardboard walls, an open fireplace I was contractually forbidden from using- it was a sweet flat.

A lemon tree out the back, along with a prodigious plum tree which rained fruit every January. My three chickens provided fertiliser for both, as well as omelets for me. Out the front was a raised vegetable patch, which I was half-way through installing when the house pimps sold me out.

The current landlord had bought the property as a holiday bach at the wild heights of the beachfront property boom in 2003. He had bought at auction at a wildly improbable price, some 120-150 thousand above valuation. He chose the same real estate agent who sold it to him, to sell it for him too. Welcome to the double-dipping world of realty.

Although bitter with the real estate agent, I won't name names. Their nefarious tactics go with the territory. According to the Readers Digest Most Trusted Professions Survey 2014, real estate salespeople rank 44th, worse than journalists but better than insurance and car salespeople, sex workers and politicians. Housing Minister Nick Smith's latest brain-fart of a Clayton's Housing WOF- no bark, no bite- entirely justifies this placing.

My excellent property manager had been keeping an eye out for another hovel for me to move to, but the Keynesian make-work scheme of the Kapiti Expressway had put a strangle-hold on rent prices, not to mention all the former Wellingtonian poor who had been squeezed northwards as the social housing stock in the capital was condemned as an earthquake risk.

Fatalistic as ever, my one consolation was that it would all be over in a month. My home would be on the auction block in the first week of May, and one way or another I'd know whether I was sold as a going concern, along with the land and chattels, or whether I'd be out on my ear with the legal minimum of 42 days' notice. Homeless with chickens.

Auction day came and went, where it failed to reach the vendor's minimum. He'd settle for a seventy grand haircut, but not an eighty grand one. I paid anyway. Every Sunday afternoon between 1:15 and 1:45 was Open Home eternal, where strangers tramped through my home, casing the place, weighing it up like a piece of meat.

Men from Porlock would randomly drive up to the gate in SUVs at every other time and stare at me staring at them. Bolder capital venturists would trespass the threshold, which wore thinner each time, to the point where my bark would set off the neighbour's dogs. Things were getting increasingly sweary.

There was no time to think, let alone write. Life on Vogshere is full of slappers. Time to leave. First thing to go was the chooks. They ended up out at an Otaihanga Farm, where they apparently amuse themselves now by breaking out of their pen and turning up at the neighbours' houses.

Next, there I went on reconnaissance for a new roof. After finding an alternative that did not completely suck, I moved. Yeah Napier, where I do not know a goddamn soul. For Lease signs for Africa through the CBD, but that's no different from most town centres these days. Box shops and free parking suck consumers out of the centres out to the periphery, while draconian liquor laws suck the remaining life out of the CBD.

At least there's hope, sometimes peace. But there's no rest for Generation Rent. We're the Walkabout People, the nomads.