Sunday, May 26, 2024

National's bulldozer dictatorship bill

This National government has been aggressively anti-environment, and is currently ramming through its corrupt Muldoonist "fast-track" legislation to give three ministers dictatorial powers over what gets built and where. But that's not the only thing they're doing. On Thursday they introduced a Resource Management (Freshwater and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, and the Order Paper says they'll be ramming it through its first reading on Tuesday. Obviously, this bill is about removing environmental protections which currently stop farmers from shitting in rivers and chainsawing native bush. But its far wider than that.

The RMA has an extensive system of national environmental standards and national policy statements, which are supposed to guide the plans and policies made by local authorities to cover matters of national importance. As I pointed out when Associate Environment Minister Andrew Hoggard purported to "suspend" one by press conference, there is an actual legal process required to change these. This requires either an independent board of inquiry, or, if control-freaked by a Minister, notification, consultation, an evaluation and decision-making according to legislated criteria. The bill basically guts all that.

Firstly, of course, it removes independent boards. These decisions will be made by Ministers, and only by Ministers, strengthening their role as a nexus of corruption in the system. Secondly, while those corrupt Ministers will still be required to notify the public of what they want to do, we won't be allowed to have a say. An objective criteria that we be given "adequate time and opportunity to make a submission" is replaced with a squishy one of "what the Minister considers to be adequate time..." We've seen what that means to National in their constant abuse of Parliamentary select committee submission windows to prevent public engagement.

As for evaluation, there'll be a special stove-piped process for these Ministerial diktats. They will still be required to assess effectiveness, environmental and economic (but not social or cultural) impacts, and reasonably practicable alternatives. But there's no longer a requirement to assess costs and benefits, or the risks of acting (or not acting) when information is uncertain. Worse, the requirement that national directions be "the most appropriate way to achieve the purpose of this Act" is removed; in fact, they will no longer be required to serve the purposes of the Act (or the other matters identified as important in the RMA) at all. And, as the final insult, there will no longer be a requirement to give reasons for the decision. This is likely cribbed from National's previous attacks on refugees, and like those, it is a recipe for legislated arbitrariness - a bulldozer dictatorship.

Finally, decision-making. Under the current law, if Ministers decide to control-freak, they must still decide on the same basis as a board of inquiry would, taking account of the purposes of the Act and other matters of national importance (including ti Tiriti), and the submissions and evidence received. That's all gone. So, in deciding on environmental standards and policies under the RMA, Ministers won't need to consider the purpose of that law, legislated matters of national importance, other important values, or ti Tiriti. None of that will matter. Neither will what we say - Ministers won't be required to consider it at all. The clear implication is that Ministers will be making decisions counter to those purposes and values, counter to ti Tiriti. And with the concentration of powers making the Minister a nexus for corruption, it basically replaces the legislated values with the Minister's bank balance.

Oh, and the Minister won't even have to do that if they're changing a national direction for a bunch of reasons, including "chang[ing] the time frame for implementation" - meaning Ministers can indefinitely delay things on a whim, without notification or consultation.

As I said, this is basically a bulldozer dictatorship, which will gut our environmental protections for the benefit of vandals and polluters, while enabling Ministers to corruptly enrich themselves in the process. It is contrary to our values and to our constitutional norms for decision-making. It should not be allowed to pass. And if it is rammed through, it must be immediately removed, under urgency, by the next government.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Cut the parliamentary term

When Labour was in power, they wasted time, political capital, and scarce policy resources on trying to extend the parliamentary term to four years, in an effort to make themselves less accountable to us. It was unlikely to fly, the idea having previously lost two referendums by huge margins - but politicians gonna politician. But now, we have a truly terrible, anti-democratic government, which is hopefully reminding us of the benefits of regular change. The problem is that its not regular enough.

It is clear that a major problem in our political system is that it is not easy enough to get rid of a bad government. We need to make it easier. The way to do that is to cut the length of the parliamentary term from three years to two.

The political class will whine that its "not enough time to do anything". Bullshit. Its exactly as much time to do things as they do now - if they can convince us to give it to them. And that's the problem: they don't want to convince us. And this pack of wankers just wants to stomp on our faces.

In a democracy, the basis of legitimacy is the consent of the governed, though regular free and fair elections. Lets take that seriously, and make it more regular. Make them convince us. More nastily, keep them in constant fear for their jobs and their perks and their luxurious salary packages. They think that works for us - so let's do it to them.

Bringing our democracy into disrepute

On Monday the government introduced its racist bill to eliminate Māori represntation in local government to the House. They rammed it through its first reading yesterday, and sent it to select committee. And the select committee has just opened submissions, giving us until Wednesday to comment on it.

Such a short period for submissions seems intentionally designed to minimise public participation and scrutiny, especially by local authorities (who typically have to formally approve their submissions). It's the Parliamentary equivalent of Douglas Adams' famous locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a "beware of the leopard" sign on it. And it brings both Parliament and our democracy into disrepute.

Unfortunately, this is the new normal under National. They are an inherently anti-democratic party. And despite MMP, with the collusion of explicitly anti-democratic coalition partners, they are returning to the Muldoonist mode of exercising power described in Palmer's Unbridled Power (or alternatively, the "blitzkrieg" of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson), where "the fastest legislature in the west" makes decisions in a flash, without any pretence of public consultation, and tells us to eat it. But that is not how kiwis want to be governed, and we will not tolerate it. Last time, our response to such abuses was to change the electoral system in an effort to prevent it. Clearly stronger measures are now needed to constrain our out-of-control political class.

(Meanwhile, please submit on the bill. If you're not sure where to start, pointing out that it breaches te Tiriti and that parliament should never pass such legislation is a good place to begin).

Thursday, May 23, 2024

More National corruption

In their coalition agreement with NZ First, the National Party agreed to provide $24 million in funding to the charity "I Am Hope / Gumboot Friday". Why were they so eager to do so? Because their chair was a National donor, their CEO was the son of a National MP who had wanted to become a National candidate, and they had paid a former National PM for the "independent" assessment used to pimp their service:

The chair of the I Am Hope Foundation donated $27,000 to the National Party prior to the past two elections, and its just-departed CEO sought the National Party candidacy for Botany in 2019, raising questions over close ties between the charity and the senior coalition partner, in the wake of a $24m funding announcement.


Recently-departed I Am Hope chief executive and current board member Troy Elliott, whose late father John Elliott was a National MP, sought the National Party candidacy for the Botany electorate in 2019, but was defeated by now-prime minister Christopher Luxon.


At Wednesday’s announcement, Doocey said every dollar invested in Gumboot Friday resulted in a social return of $5.70. He did not cite the source of that figure, although it had been previously quoted in National’s 100-day plan and in its campaign material ahead of the 2023 election as coming from a “social impact assessment” carried out by Impact Lab.

Impact Lab was co-founded by former National leader Sir Bill English, who is also the company’s chair.

That stench you're smelling? It's corruption. And it seems to taint everything this government does.

This is not how kiwis think our government should work. And if National can’t kick their corruption habit, we need to start sticking them in jail.


The Social Services and Community Committee has called for submissions on the Oranga Tamariki (Repeal of Section 7AA) Amendment Bill. Submissions are due by Wednesday, 3 July 2024, and can be made at the link above.

And if you're wondering what to say: section 7AA was enacted because Oranga Tamariki was systematically stealing Māori children. The consequences of its repeal should be obvious (and the clauses repealing information reporting requirements seem calculated to hide that impact). The Waitangi Tribunal has also found that the bill breaches te Tiriti, and no Parliament should pass legislation which does that.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


That is the only way to describe an MP "forgetting" to declare $178,000 in donations. The amount of money involved - more than five times the candidate spending cap, and two and a half times the median income - is boggling. How do you just "forget" that amount of money? And like Rimmer's recent claim that $34,000 isn't enough money to matter to anyone, it shows how out-of-touch our highly-paid political class has become.

The MP - National's David MacLeod - says that it is because he misunderstood the law. Which really makes you worry about whether he is properly understanding the laws he is voting on. He has been stood down from his committee positions, but it is not enough. Because filing a false donation return isn't just a mistake - it is a crime. And one that is utterly inconsistent with remaining in Parliament. MacLeod should resign. If he does not, it will tell us something significant about his, and his party's, attitude to electoral fraud.

Justice for Gaza!

It finally happened: the International Criminal Court prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes in Gaza:

The chief prosecutor of the international criminal court has said he is seeking arrest warrants for senior Hamas and Israeli officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

Karim Khan said his office had applied to the world court’s pre-trial chamber for arrest warrants for the military and political leaders on both sides for crimes committed during Hamas’s 7 October attack and the ensuing war in Gaza.


In an extraordinary rebuke of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its conduct in the war in Gaza, Netanyahu and Gallant are accused of extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, the denial of humanitarian relief supplies and deliberately targeting civilians. Monday’s statement notably does not include any Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials, such as its chief of staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, focusing instead on political decision-making.

The latter seems like a significant omission, since they're the people actually doing the war crimes. But maybe they're next in the queue?

Meanwhile, the question for Aotearoa: when are we sanctioning Netanyahu and his criminal regime? We have rightly sanctioned Putin and his cronies for their illegal war in Ukraine. We can hardly do less to a genocidal war criminal.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Climate Change: The question we need to be asking

One of National's first actions in government was to dismantle climate change policy, scrapping the clean car discount and overturning the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry, which had given us Aotearoa's biggest-ever emissions reduction. But there's an obvious problem: we needed those emissions reductions to meet our carbon budgets:

Treasury estimated GIDI would have generated 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide savings between now and 2050 - between five and 10 times the savings it expected from Labour's EV subsidies (which were also scrapped) over the same period.

A November slide presentation by energy officials, obtained by the Labour Party, warned ministers that killing GIDI could leave a gap in cutting heavy industry's emissions from 2026-2030, when GIDI had been expected to do most of the work of cutting industrial emissions.


"We need both supply and demand side policies. While supply side enablers such as consenting policies [helping renewable generation] are necessary, they won't be sufficient to deliver our climate targets, as they do not by themselves decrease emissions.

"We will also need policies that prompt demand shifts from fossil fuels to renewable energy."

National airily says it will just rely on the ETS. But the amount of decarbonisation needed requires prices of $200 / ton - and National's ETS price settings consultation suggests they're wanting to move in the opposite direction and keep carbon cheap (and emissions high) to satisfy their corporate polluter friends. Meanwhile, meeting our emissions budgets is now officially one of the government's nine key targets. Which invites the question: how do they plan to do it, without any policy?

Climate Change is the biggest challenge facing this country, and the planet. We're already looking at a vastly higher rate of droughts, floods, fires, and cyclones because of it, and it is only going to get worse (plus of course famine, war, and international instability). More immediately, and in terms National's bean-brains might understand, we are facing a $23 billion liability if we fail to meet our 2030 Paris target. National needs to tell us how they are going to reduce our emissions, meet our commitments, or minimise that cost. Luxon's sociopathic corporate manger IBGYBG, someone else's problem approach just doesn't cut it.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Police don't fight crime

What are police for? "Fighting crime" is the obvious answer. If there's a burglary, they should show up and investigate. Ditto if there's a murder or sexual assault. Speeding or drunk or dangerous driving is a crime, so obviously they should respond to that. And obviously, they should respond to violent crimes in progress. But statistical data from the US shows that that is not what they actually do. Instead, they spend most of their time pointlessly harassing innocent people:

A new report adds to a growing line of research showing that police departments don’t solve serious or violent crimes with any regularity, and in fact, spend very little time on crime control, in contrast to popular narratives.


More notably, researchers analyzed the data to show how officers spend their time, and the patterns that emerge tell a striking story about how policing actually works. Those results, too, comport with existing research showing that U.S. police spend much of their time conducting racially biased stops and searches of minority drivers, often without reasonable suspicion, rather than “fighting crime.”

Overall, sheriff patrol officers spend significantly more time on officer-initiated stops – “proactive policing” in law enforcement parlance – than they do responding to community members’ calls for help, according to the report. Research has shown that the practice is a fundamentally ineffective public safety strategy, the report pointed out.

An officer-initiated stop could be pulling over a speeding or suspected drunk driver, but when three quarters of such stops result in no action or a warning, it looks unlikely. The report calls it “a routine practice of pretextual stops” - basically, harassing the innocent. And most of police department budgets are spent on this, a colossal waste of public money.

It would be interesting to see a similar data from Aotearoa, to see if the gang in blue are as useless as their American counterparts. And with the amount of money we spend on policing - $2.6 billion last year - you'd think it might be a priority to see if we're getting value for that colossal amount of money.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

This is what corruption looks like

When National first proposed its Muldoonist "fast-track" law, they were warned that it would inevitably lead to corruption. And that is exactly what has happened, with Resources Minister Shane Jones taking secret meetings with potential applicants:

On Tuesday, in a Newsroom story, questions were raised about a dinner Jones had on the West Coast on February 16. It only came to light because it was mentioned by Barry Bragg, deputy chair of coal mining company Stevenson Group, in a letter released by ministerial officials under the Official Information Act.


On Monday, Jones told Newsroom his dinner with Bragg wasn’t included in his regularly disclosed ministerial diary because “it was very much a last-minute thing”.

But after more questions were asked, Jones is correcting the record. Not only was the dinner organised in advance, it had two other participants.

There's no suggestion any money changed hands. It's "merely" secret lobbying, which Jones "accidentally" failed to declare in his published diary. I think we can draw our own conclusions about that. Meanwhile, it blows any suggestion that he could be an impartial and unbiased decision-maker over any fast-track application from these polluters out of the water. And the fact that Jones is too stupid or greedy to see this shows that he is simply unfit to be a Minister.

The Ombudsman fails again

In 2020, the Operation Burnham inquiry reported back, finding that NZDF had lied to Ministers and the New Zealand public about its actions in Afghanistan. The inquiry saw a large number of documents declassified and released, which raised another problem: whether they had also lied to the Ombudsman in his investigation of OIA requests for information about NZDF's operations. Today, after a two year inquiry, it appears the answer is "sortof":

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says the Defence Force acted “unreasonably”, but did not wilfully mislead him, after it failed to provide him information related to Operation Burnham.


In the findings of this second investigation, Boshier criticised the Defence Force for providing an “incomplete” summary of the raid to the public which had “significantly underplayed” the nature and scope of the raid.

He said the Defence Force had omitted to provide him access to all relevant information during his earlier investigation, due to “poor record keeping practices and processes for retrieving information”.

He also said the Defence Force had exaggerated the “sensitivity” of its documents, and the defence chief, Air Marshal Kevin Short, acknowledged ongoing “over-classification” of information.

“This serious information gap undermined my initial investigation and meant the NZDF [Defence Force] avoided being accountable,” Boshier said, in a press statement.

...which was the point of the exercise. And it appears to have worked again, with the Ombudsman refusing to find that NZDF commited a crime, even one against the Public Records Act (which, ironically, carries a higher penalty than deliberately obstructing the Ombudsman). Meanwhile, the consistent pattern uncovered by the Burnham inquiry, of damning material being buried in safes to hide it from future investigation, is ignored. The Ombudsman suggests NZDF’s records management staff not being told of this was just "poor practice", but when it is done so consistently, it looks like something else: a criminal conspiracy. The Ombudsman, as the guardian of the public's mana, should have called them out. If they were too cowardly to do so, we really need to ask what good they are.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Fucking useless

Yesterday de facto Prime Minister David Seymour announced that his glove puppet government would be re-introducing charter schools, throwing $150 million at his pet quacks, donors and cronies and introducing an entire new government agency to oversee them (the existing Education Review Office, which actually knows how to review schools, being presumably too likely to assess them against the same standards as everyone else, or wonder where all the money is going). Rimmer would also allow his cronies to take over state schools - effectively privatising them. All of this is deeply contrary to everything the Labour Party has told us it stands for, and last time National did this, Labour immediately abolished their bullshit. So what was Chris Hipkins' response? To refuse to commit:

Hipkins wasn't sure what their fate would be should Labour be returned to power in the coming years.

"What we did last time is we integrated them into the state education system - some became integrated schools; some became designated character schools.

"It's too soon to say what we would do next time around because we don't yet know what the contracts are going to be, we don't yet know what the structure is going to be - but we do believe that schools should be part of the public education system," Hipkins said.

And this is why Labour only got 27% last election: because they have no spine, no principles. They're as useless as a proverbial useless thing. And why would anyone vote for that, when there are parties who clearly know what they stand for offering an alternative?

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Australia jails another whistleblower

In 2014 former Australian army lawyer David McBride leaked classified military documents about Australian war crimes to the ABC. Dubbed "The Afghan Files", the documents led to an explosive report on Australian war crimes, the disbanding of an entire SAS unit, and multiple ongoing prosecutions. The journalist who wrote the stories, Dan Oakes, was later awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for "service to journalism" for the work.

Today, in revenge, the Australian government jailed McBride for almost six years - a longer sentence than any Australian war criminal has so far received for the offences he uncovered.

The message is clear: when the Australian government commits crimes, the witnesses should keep quiet. Otherwise they will be victimised and persecuted. Its hard to see this as anything other than official government support for war crimes and war criminals. Provided they're committed by Australians, of course.

(And, lest we feel too superior, John Key passed a similar anti-whistleblowing law here, allowing the punishment of those who blow the whistle on the defence - spy deep state, which is yet to be repealed).

Some "scrutiny"!

Back in February I blogged about another secret OIA "consultation" by the Ministry of Justice. This one was on Aotearoa's commitment in its Open Government Partnership Action Plan to "strengthen scrutiny of Official Information Act exemption clauses in legislation" (AKA secrecy clauses). Their consultation paper on the issue focused on strengthening "scrutiny mechanisms" - essentially interdepartmental consultation - without saying what these clauses would be scrutinised against or the circumstances in which they might or might not be justified.

Which invites the question: how well is such scrutiny working at the moment? The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the OIA, so in theory other agencies should be consulting them before messing with it. And if they were a good guardian, they'd couple this with active monitoring of upcoming legislation (a lot of which will cross their desk anyway) to spot cases where this hasn't been noticed. So, I did some poking with the OIA, sending them a list of 37 recent bills which contained secrecy clauses, and asking for their consultation advice on them. That was obviously a lot of work, and the Ministry didn't want to do it. But their background research for their OGP consultation had included a study of eleven bills, and they agreed to release the consultation advice they had produced on those (as well as six more bills later).

And here's the advice. Of the eleven bills in their study with identified secrecy clauses, the Ministry of Justice had been consulted on just two of them. I should note that one of the bills was "owned" by the Ministry of Justice, so shouldn't be included in the total. Which makes it two out of ten - a nice, round 20%. Some "scrutiny"! And we wonder why the government keeps passing these things? Partly, because the agency responsible for the law doesn't even know it is happening.

As for their plans to improve scrutiny, the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties did a recent request on that using FYI. Digging through the documents, a bunch of the agencies Justice wants to be a check against secrecy clauses - the Parliamentary Counsel's Office, DPMC, the Office of the Clerk - are saying "nope, not our problem". Which means their "improved" scrutiny is going to end up looking a lot like the current "scrutiny", only maybe with a little note on a webpage somewhere. Meanwhile, the question again of what can justify departing from our constitutional principle of transparency goes unanswered, and the Ministry redacts any suggestion that these clauses might not be justified. Whether that is an appropriate outcome for an OGP commitment is left as an exercise for the reader.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Ministers are not above the law after all

Back in April, the High Court surprised everyone by ruling that Ministers are above the law, at least as far as the Waitangi Tribunal is concerned. The reason for this ruling was "comity" - the idea that the different branches of government shouldn't interfere with each other's functions. Which makes perfect sense when talking about Parliament and the courts, but sounds awfully like echoes of absolute monarchy when Ministers demand it for themselves.

Today, fortunately, the Court of Appeal has overturned that bullshit:

The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision which blocked a summons order from the Waitangi Tribunal for Children's Minister Karen Chhour.


In its ruling, the court acknowledged the importance of the Waitangi Tribunal's role in inquiry into legislation that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and that the minister had relevant evidence to give to the Tribunal.

It disagreed with the High Court's ruling that the principle of comity, or legal reciprocity, applied to the Tribunal.

Unfortunately they don't give much of a reason why, other than that "The Tribunal is not easily located within the judicial branch", and
It is not clear to us why the constitutional relationship between the Crown and the Tribunal should prevent the Tribunal from asking for information that would, in its view, assist it to carry out the Inquiry.
Still, its a win, which firmly establishes the principle that the Tribunal can summons Ministers if, in its opinion, they have relevant evidence. And that seems valuable for the future - especially with so many other urgent Waitangi Tribunal inquiries happening right now.

Meanwhile, Chhour has introduced her racist bill to the House. When it gets to select committee, I hope that everyone will submit in opposition, citing the Tribunal's view that it breaches te Tiriti. Like violations of the BORA, Parliament simply should not be passing bills that do that, and future governments are fully justified in rectifying such constitutional outrages and implementing the Tribunal's decision under urgency.

Change in Catalonia?

or the past 14 years, ever since the Spanish government cheated on an autonomy deal, Catalonia has reliably given pro-independence parties a majority of seats in their regional parliament. But now that seems to be over. Catalans went to the polls yesterday, and stripped the Catalan parties of their majority. Meanwhile, the (Spanish) Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC) has emerged as the largest party, and likely the centre of any possible government.

There are reasons for this. The Catalan parties had failed to deliver independence, and the government had basically collapsed due to infighting. Meanwhile the Socialists had turned down the temperature at a national level, pardoning independence leaders and agreeing to "dialogue". One of the Catalan parties - the Republican Left - had collaborated in this, while the other - Junts - played hardball to extract a general amnesty for those persecuted for promoting independence. And pro-independence voters it seemed preferred the latter approach.

El Nacional has a rundown on the coalition maths, and it is ugly. The PSC could put together a bare majority with (pro-independence) left-wing parties - something which used to be a common arrangement, but which is likely to be unstable now. Or it could form a decent majority with the pro-independence, right-wing Junts - but that's likely to be even worse. Or, it could form a bare majority with the other Spanish parties, but that means working with the openly fascist Vox. The PSC is unlikely to find any of these options particularly appealing. The question is how many of their potential partners would prefer another election in six months...

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Justice for Bainimarama!

In December 2006, Fiji's military leader Voreqe Bainimarama overthrew the elected government in a coup. He ruled Fiji for the next 16 years, first as dictator, then as "elected" Prime Minister. But now, he's finally been sent to jail where he belongs.

Sadly, this isn't for his real crime of overthrowing Fiji's democracy (he wrote himself an amnesty clause in his unilaterally-imposed constitution for that). Instead its for a minor incident later, where he perverted the course of justice by investigation into financial mismanagement at the University of the South Pacific. The habits built up as a military leader and a dictator - of authoritarian command, and protecting his cronies while punishing his enemies - turned out to be illegal. And when democracy was finally restored with the 2022 election, and he could no longer lean on the police and judges, he finally faced justice.

Its like Al Capone going to jail for tax evasion. But its good enough. And maybe now Fiji will be able to overturn his self-serving "amnesty" and prosecute him for his real crimes.

March for Nature in June

March for Nature_signup page image_645x265_3

Don't like National's corrupt Muldoonist "fast-track" law? Aotearoa's environmental NGO's - Greenpeace, Forest & Bird, WWF, Coromandel Watchdog, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, and others - have announced a joint march against it in Auckland in June:

When: 13:00, 8 June, 2024
Where: Aotea Square, Auckland

You can RSVP here.

When National tried to mine our national parks, 50,000 people marched down Queen Street to oppose them, and National backed down. So that's the goal: turn out for the environment, make a credible threat of electoral consequences, and force them to dump their plans.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

The wrong direction

Some good news on climate change today: the energy transition away from fossil fuels is picking up speed, and renewables now make up 30% of global electricity supply. Meanwhile, in Aotearoa, we're moving in the opposite direction, with Genesis Energy announcing that it will resume importing Indonesian coal.

Their official reason is to "keep the lights on" in a context of declining gas supply. But its worth noting that Gensis - one of our worst fossil polluters - is directly invested in the gas industry, and therefore has an interest in supporting the governments narrative that our options are basically coal or gas. That simply wasn't true. So they've decided to try and make it true.

(An interesting point: Genesis had consent for an 858 MW wind farm, big enough to replace Huntly, and they sat on it for a decade and then just let it expire. They could have solved this problem and made Huntly redundant a decade ago, but they'd rather burn coal and destroy the planet).

Meanwhile, in reality: we have 1.1 GW of consented and under construction solar, and 1.3 GW of consented and under construction wind, plus huge pipelines of both in the preliminary stages. We should build them. We also added 150MW of rooftop solar in the last year - a decent-sized power station. We should build more of that too. We can fix this problem with wind and solar and batteries, and every MW of renewables we build means less coal and gas burned. Every MW we build means less profits for the ecocidaires in the fossil fuel industry. And the government should be making it a holy fucking mission to drive those murderers into bankruptcy. Instead, it seems that National prefers complicity.

National hates democracy

Its a law like gravity: whenever a right-wing government is elected, they start attacking democracy. And now, after talking to their Republican and Tory and Fidesz chums at the International Democracy Union forum in Wellington, National is doing it here, announcing plans to remove election-day enrolment. Or, to put it another way, to stop 110,000 people - almost 4% of last year's turnout - from voting. These people are mostly people who thought they were on the roll, and didn't realise they'd been removed - so, not exactly culpable. And with renters forced to move increasingly frequently so their landleeches can raise the rent and steal their bond, you can draw some obvious conclusions about who these voters might be, and why National, the party of landleeches, wouldn't want them to vote.

Naked partisan reasons aside, the actual problem here is that the Electoral Commission weirdly didn't expect such a large number of people to have to enrol on election day, and so didn't have enough staff to process them all quickly. But the proper solution to that in a democracy is to resource them properly. The fact that National instinctively moves to stop people voting tells us that they don't want us to be a democracy - at least, not one which includes everyone.