New Zealand the lucky country ?
This week presented New Zealand with all possible goodies at once. On Sunday “we”/”our boys” won the Rugby World Cup for the second time in a row. On Tuesday “our” horse won the Melbourne Cup the richest horse race in the Southern hemisphere which brings two countries Australia and New Zealand to a standstill for a few minutes every November. And on Wednesday “our” future king Prince Charles and his lovely wife Camilla arrived in the capital for a week long royal visit.
Our prime minister as a professional money changer/gambler must be counting his lucky stars. And did he love it and make the best out of it to increase or at least cement his personal popularity.
Spring has arrived. The sun is out. The cricket season has started and “our” Lydia Ko is number one of the golfing world. And again we were named one of the top prosperous countries in the world by some obscure overseas organisation. Could we get any happier in this lucky country ? So we thought. Then came Thursday.
New Zealand under threat !
When we got up on Thursday, Guy Fawkes Day, when we still celebrate the historic foiled terror attack on the parliament building in Westminster, we were greeted by the full front page of the biggest newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, which read “SPIES TELL PM The six threats facing NZ” with #1 “Violent extremism in NZ and by New Zealanders”. Enough to want to crawl back under your duvet and pull the pillow over your head.
How come that almost thirty years after the bombing and sinking of the GreenPeace flagship “Rainbow Warrior” the only terrorist attack on New Zealand soil in living memory we again seem to be under threat. Could it be that our attention seeking foreign policy sending a few soldiers to Iraq to fight ISIS: “Hey extremist muslims look at us don’t forget us at the bottom of the world” has actually worked ? Does ISIS now bother to spend efforts and waste resources and in a worst case a suicide bomber on our paradise in the South Seas ?
SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge doesn’t seem to think so.
Perfect example that an organisation spying on all citizens
does not change by putting some lipstick on it
She is quoted as saying “New Zealand’s spies have turned up new terror threats as increased funding has boosted capability. It doesn’t necessarily reflect an increased danger to New Zealand and could show the improved ability of the SIS to identify threats.”
“If your numbers are growing as our numbers are growing, and you find more, I have been very careful about not saying the threat has changed. It may just be that we are finding more. You have to be quite careful about all of this. I’m not in favour of shroud waving or scare-mongering. I want to be very factual and not over-egg what we are doing.”
However, that is exactly what she is doing scaremongering and over-egg what they are doing. Instead of being “very factual” there are no “facts” whatsoever and there will never be. We never heard of any successful prosecution of any wannabe extremists nor will we in future. All is shrouded in secrecy.
According to her above explanation of the “new terror threats” there is only one recipe to reduce them, which is cut funding to the spy agencies and the threats will diminish.
Instead the spies say they will need new laws and new powers and of course more money to protect the country from “emerging threats”. Sounds to me very much like the perfect protection racket business model of the Mafia: Pay us and we will protect you.
The Prime Minister had to comment and is quoted as saying “On the one hand, our very strong advice is don’t be frightened of these things, but on the other side of the coin the Government has a responsibility to be alert to those risks. So, yes there are some potential threats but they’re at a much lower level from what we see, for instance, in Australia.”
He has a problem. On the one hand he is the minister responsible for the secret services and has to justify their existence and the millions spend on them. On the other hand as minister of tourism he must not frighten potential visitors. The last place New Zealand wants to be is on some travel warning list issued by say Iraq or Syria to warn their citizens from any danger if they are lucky enough to be visiting New Zealand.
Unwrapping of the TPPA parcel
Then came black Friday and with it the release of the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The critics see their worst nightmares confirmed. ‘Worse Than We Thought’: TPP A Total Corporate Power Grab Nightmare :
“Worse than anything we could’ve imagined.”
“An act of climate denial.”
“Giveaway to big agribusiness.”
“A death warrant for the open Internet.”
While the neoliberal defenders of the so called but anything but “free trade” agreement were relatively muted in its defence. They couldn’t find much advantage for New Zealand so praised our government to have at least done the best possible job of minimising the damage.
I liked the defender of the Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which is an instrument of public international law, that grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government. This gives foreign corporations the right to sue our government for any policy, law or regulation, which they claim impinges on their future profits. He said on Radio NZ that those clauses had been part of trade agreement for 30 years without New Zealand being sued once. He conveniently forgot to mention that Australia had just been sued by an US tobacco corporation for plain packaging legislation and New Zealand delayed its own legislation till that case was decided. It only goes to prove that over the last 30 years neoliberal governments in New Zealand were compliant to the demands of overseas corporation as in the example of postponing public health legislation.
It reminded me of the man jumping out of the 60th floor of the world trade centre passing the 30th floor saying to himself: So far so good.
It also reminded me of the Cinderella fairy tale where the sisters unwrap a big gift parcel to find that the ugly (corporate) sisters got all the wonderful expensive presents while Cinderella New Zealand was left with the crumbs.
Sad to see that all the positive feelings of our best ever week of rugby, racing & royal visit has evaporated even before the week is out.