Wednesday, March 28, 2007

You're Nicked Son

It seems every time a Chinese dignitary visits this country the powers that be want to placate them at the cost of some of our basic democratic rights. This latest incident involving Chinese Capital news reporter Nick Wang is another case in point.

It is patently unacceptable for the Police and the Diplomatic Protection Squad to act the way the did. It is not for the Chinese Embassy to determine who can and cannot cover political events in this country. Their attempts to pressure the situation should have been firmly rebutted.

The officers involved can't plead ignorance. The officer based in Parliament is well versed in the rules and regulations pertaining to media coverage and surely knows the only person who can revoke a journalist's accreditation is the Speaker and no-one else. For him to issue the threats that he did is simply untenable.

Nor do our politicians come out of this with any glory. Both Helen Clark and Michael Cullen tried to fudge the issue yesterday saying events were confused, that media access to the Beehive core was unclear, and that Mr Wang may have caused trouble.

This simply does not stack up. Nick Wang, who's had Press Gallery accreditation for 8 years had sought permission from the Speaker to film the event. Furthermore the signing ceremony had been listed on the Government's Ministerial Diary as a photo opportunity - surely a clear indication that media were entitled to attend. But what really dismantles the facile arguments of Clark and Cullen is the video recorded of the event (kudos to Nick's cameraman here). It quite plainly shows he acted professionally at all times and did no more than raise reasonable objections to what was a blatant abuse of procedure. The PM and her deputy should hang their heads in shame for trying to pin the blame on Mr Wang. That they tried is unforgivable.

It's a sad fact the real reason the politicians are trying to downplay and avoid the issue is their drive for a free trade agreement with China. They simply don't want to offend the Chinese and risk the loss of a lucrative deal. This obsession with the dollar isn't just restricted to the Government though - National Party Leader John Key wanted to stay as far away from the matter as possible saying he couldn't comment "because I wasn't there" and "it was Dr Cullen's meeting".

It's a shame the leaders of our democracy don't have the gumption to stand up for one of its basic tenets.

Freedom of expression isn't as important to them as is free trade. How sad is that?

However the good news is Speaker Margaret Wilson has come out on the side of the media and is sending a stern please explain message to the police, as well as note to the Chinese Embassy reminding them of how we do things here. It's too soon to say but I would expect at least the Police and DPS to be forced to apologise to Nick Wang ... and maybe even the Chinese Embassy?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Doing My Bit for the Minor Sports

Stephen Lynch is going to hell for performing this.

I'm going to hell for posting it.

And if you, dear reader, watched it ... well I guess we'll be seeing you on the shores of the lake of fire.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Sky is Falling.

I've been meaning to write something meaningful and entertaining for a wee while now, but it seems I just can't find the motivation. Either that or life is very boring.

Instead I'll do something a little bit introspective on the media industry that I work in.

Sky TV is going head to head with TVNZ and TV3 in providing a New Zealand television news service. Well you can't really call it head to head as Sky has put bugger all in the way of resources into it. All they seem to have done is renamed the rather bare bones approach that had been being done by Prime News. That is a couple of clotheshorses reading the news, and a bare handful of reporters (all North Island based I believe) scrambling to cover the big issues of the day.

What it looks like is simply a spoiler to TVNZ's upcoming 24/7 digital news service (though that's likely to be a disaster as well).

I have a lot of respect for those involved in the programme (I know one or two of them personally), but you can't cover a country when 90 percent of your scant resources are based in Auckland. Furthermore the lack of coverage sticks out like dogs balls when you have to resort to doing phone interviews with someone in the South Island to provide some sort of vestige of information on a significant story.

TV's about pictures, leave the phone interviews to the radio journo's. You look like a bunch of cheap dicks when you do it.

If Sky News is to provide any sort of semi-decent coverage they're going to have to have bureaus in all the main centres - Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch - and access to reliable freelancers/stringers in places like Dunedin Tauranga, Napier, Rotorua, Invercargill, and Northland. Somehow I don't see them coughing up the cash needed to finance that sort of operation. News is an expensive business, and these days it's the beancounters that call the shots, so the chance of an extensive, and professional, Sky News setup is about as likely as celibacy in a brothel.

It seems I'm not the only one that is thinking this way.

Monday, March 19, 2007

So Much More To See

Lots of blank spaces that remain to be filled (sigh) So many places, so little time.

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

Sunday, March 18, 2007

You Can't Make This Shit Up.

Here are a few behind the scenes observations from last Friday's meeting of the Pacific Forum in Vanuatu.

The RNZAF flight crew are boody fantastic, and so is their 757 plane. A commercial version sits over 220 but the Airforce ripped 60 seats out meaning those on board have leg room!! Bliss

Internet access in Vanuatu is marginal at the best of times, and horrendously expensive. Perhaps the Forum Secretariat could have shared their connection. Or at least set up some facilities for the media so they could cover the event in a vaguely proficient way. There was no media centre whatsoever.

Flight timing was bizarre. Those who arrived with the NZ delegation were told they had to be enroute to the airport by 3.30 pm at the latest. That just happened to be half an hour before the scheduled press conference. The reason for this? Well there is only one set of steps at Port Vila big enough to reach the 757's doors and they just happened to be owned by Air Caledonia who had a flight coming in around 5pm. Come hell or high water they were having their steps back so the Kiwis had to be on their plane and out of the way ASAP.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is a bit of a media whore. Put a microphone in front of him and he just won't shut up.

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters is the exact opposite. He was not inclined to talk at all. And even less so after TV crews defied orders and got off the plane first to get shots of the dignitaries getting off the plane (they were banned from his first stand up). Mind you Winston's mood probably was helped by his dicky knee. It does look to be seriously painful and he's not the kind of guy to deal well with something that affects his personal dignity.

A brickbat to the official who decreed that alcohol would be reserved for the politicians on the trip back leaving the rest of the plane dry.

A huge bouquet to Cabinet Minister Winnie Laban who decreed the drinks cart was open to all.

Oh and for those of you who are curious as to the outcome of the meeting I suggest you read this. In a nutshell (if you'll excuse the anti-smacking Bill analogy) Fiji's been given a timeout on a naughty mat and been told to think about what it did.

I'm sure Frank Bainimarama is shitting himself - Not.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tidy Up

To my few and infrequent readers:

I've winnowed through the links over there on the right. Some have been shitcanned and some newbies have been added.

If you do get the chance check out the folks at Intelligentsiya.

CYFSwatch (now defunct on blogger) may have evoked the ire of a Government Department here in NZ but having the Fijian armed forces out for your blood is far more impressive.

Another one worth a check is Inside Iraq.

These are US and Iraqi journalists giving a pretty brutal account of the shit they're putting up with on a daily basis. Be warned some of the writing is graphic and harrowing.

For light relief (and you'll need it after the previous two blogs) I heartily recommend Scaryduck. He 's a comic marvel.

Friday, March 09, 2007

On The Edge

I have no idea where this is, nor who these people are. However I'm not ashamed to say their balls are far bigger than mine.

I mean seriously ......

... they are ...

... fucking nuts!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Do As We Say But Not As We Do?

Much has been made of our Government's sudden love affair with carbon neutrality and its desire to save us all from the perils of global warming. I'm not going to re-canvas that debate as there are others far more qualified than I who have been there and done that already.

However what I would like to point out is that while the Government is keen on its Ministries to become carbon neutral, I don't actually recall them saying anything about the Parliament Buildings in which they themselves are located.

That rather indistinct haze highlighted by the arrow is what is pumped out every day by Parliament's gas-fired boilers.

Sustainability - it's a grand wee buzz word isn't it?

(Oh and I'm sorry about the picture quality, that's what you get for using a cellphone camera)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Updating the Legal Lexicon

Recent events suggest it's time to introduce some new phrases into the way we describe criminal cases and those that feature therein. Here are a few suggestions;

"As guilty as Clint"

"A very Brad man"

"She was forcibly Schollumed"

"Having a Haigh old time"

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


For some reason Microsoft Word and Blogger don't mix too well. The cut and paste job on the parole post didn't work out too well. Never mind I'm sure you're all smart enough to figure it out.

Anyway I can't be bothered typing it all out again.


Given all the hoopla and kerfuffle over the Graham Burton parole reports I though it might be timely to post some figure a reporter I know picked up from the Corrections Department last year.

It might help informed debate on the matter.

1. By year, over the past three years ending June 30, how many parolees have breached required reporting conditions?

A “breach” of parole is a charge laid with the Court under s71 of the Parole Act when an offender has breached the conditions of the parole order imposed by the New Zealand Parole Board. These may include failing to attend rehabilitation programmes, failing to follow a lawful direction from a Probation Officer, or changing address without permission. The Department does not collate information on the nature of specific conditions leading to the breach action being commenced.



03-04 384 2856 13%

04-05 313 2524 12%

05-06 315 2598 12%

1. By year, over the past three years ending June 30, how many parolees have been returned to prison for posing risk to community safety, breach of parole conditions, or committing a jailable offence?

Recall, as defined by s61 of the Parole Act 2002, is the sanction used for serious instances of non-compliance with the conditions of a parole order. This involves an application being made to the New Zealand Parole Board for an order that an offender be recalled to continue serving a sentence of imprisonment in a penal institution. Recall action is commenced when a Probation Officer assesses an offender as posing an undue risk to the safety of the community, the parolee has breached their parole conditions, or the offender has committed an offence punishable by imprisonment



03-04 222 2856 8%

04-05 194 2524 8%

05-06 176 2598 7%