Wednesday, May 30, 2007



Protest against Murder Energy

Trade unionists and community activists from South Auckland will be protesting tomorrow at Mercury Energy's callous murder of one of their customers:

When: Thursday, 31 may, 16:00
Where: Mercury Energy, 602 Great South Road, Green Lane.

Hopefully they'll target the disconnection contractor as well.

36 comments:

It really fucked me off when the CEO (?) refused to take responsibility for the issue on Morning Report this morning, because diconnecting houses is outsourced.

Posted by Aucklander At Large : 5/30/2007 07:17:00 PM

But that's one of the purposes of outsourcing. Sure, the economics can be good, but the real reason is to avoid blame and have someone else to point the finger at.

Which is why we have DHBs.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/30/2007 10:22:00 PM

Go to court claiming murder and the Judge would show you the door for flying a bloody kite. Where is the culpable homicide, where is the legal duty, where is the unlawful and objectively dangerous act?


Also, the facts are contested. Is this (the protest and general criticism) fair if (say) the contractor was not given notice of the condition suficiently for him/her to understand?

The company was under no obligation to supply her with power, and without sufficient notice of the condition the contractor was well within their rights to disconnect.

we just don't know the facts here I/S, what about innocent until proven, that little chestnut from out Bill of Rights you seem so fond of?

cheers, cairney

Posted by Anonymous : 5/30/2007 10:45:00 PM

If the deceased woman lived in my street she would have been dead within a month because we have unannounced power cuts at random even though we live in the largest city in the country (or perhaps because?) If the hospital knew that cutting off oxygen could cause her death, then they would be liable for sending her home where the service level for reconnecting power is in hours or days.

My nephew is on oxygen and the hospital supplies him with a cylinder of oxygen per week for times when he can't be near a power point. Where was this woman's cylinder?

Having said that, regardless of what the contractor may have been told by the family, if s/he saw a person inside the house on an oxygen machine then it would be criminally foolish to carry on with disconnecting without making a thorough investigation.

I think it is in the public interest to take the contractor to court, but I suspect that the verdict will be that if the hospital did not consider the oxygen necassary for her survival, then the contractor cannot be convicted of manslaughter.

I think that Mercury is only the third most culpable player in this tragedy, and protesting against them is more an act of anti-capitalism than any real sympathy for the relatives of the deceased or any other professed motive. On that basis it is quite a tasteless thing to do.

Posted by Rhys Lewis : 5/31/2007 01:39:00 AM

"we want to give them a dose of people power tomorrow they will never forget"

in other words it's a whole lot of born whingers who should get a life, seizing an opportunity to harrass a company they probably loathed anyway and were looking for an excuse to harrass.

The statement above suggests a belligerence and the possibility of vilification which is quite characteristic of militant left wing morons but anybody with an ounce of common sense wouldnt go within a mile of such activity.

the fact you claim this is murder which wouldnt stand up in a court of law does not add any credibility nor is suggesting that these professional protestors are going to give this cause any.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 02:11:00 AM

Also, the facts are contested. Is this (the protest and general criticism) fair if (say) the contractor was not given notice of the condition suficiently for him/her to understand?

I'm sure I'm going to get rubbished for saying this, but that's a fair question. A few months back, I had oral surgery under a general anaesthetic - and part of the pre-op process is being asked (several times) to clearly list every medication I was currently taking, or had taken over a certain period. The point of this is to minimise any risk of negative interations with the anaesthesia. But it does rather depend on full and accurate disclosure doesn't it?

I'm in a place where I'm quite confident about being upfront with total strangers about my history of mental illness - and the medication I take to manage them. But I can easily remeber a time where I wouldn't have been, and would rather have taken some rather stupid risks with my own life than just be honest. Don't see how anyone would have been responsible for that than me.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/31/2007 06:08:00 AM

Surely if Mercury is culpable, then the family is equally so. They sat around for two hours watching the mother struggle and did nothing!!

Where does their responsibility start?

Posted by Gerrit : 5/31/2007 06:52:00 AM

and they did not fully pay the bill for power that they apparently knew was important for her survival.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 07:18:00 AM

I note that if I had amachine keeping my daughter (to take a family member) alive and I had to pay the power to keep it on - somthing else like clothing, TV or food would take a budget cut untill it got paid.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 07:21:00 AM

"...Mercury is only the third most culpable player in this tragedy, and protesting against them is more an act of anti-capitalism than any real sympathy for the relatives of the deceased or any other professed motive. On that basis it is quite a tasteless thing to do."

Pains me to say it, but... "Yep."

Posted by Psycho Milt : 5/31/2007 07:37:00 AM

I agree Milt. Without knowing all the facts it looks like a typical case of mindless bureaucracy from many quarters vs common sense.

I don't think 'corporate greed' is to blame, but the media love a corporate villain -- look at the Subway thing -- even though the reaction was justified in that case.

Posted by Ruth : 5/31/2007 07:47:00 AM

Ruth:

Sadly, I have to agree with you - because the television coverage last night, and the full page in the Herald this morning was, frankly, sickening. Of course, I feel enormous sympathy for the family. Last December, my Gran and foster mother died on the same day and for the next month or so I was pretty hard to be around. I doubt there's anyone who can't empathise with Folole Muliaga's family.

Having said that, it's a shame the media and some bloggers who should know better (including out host) have set themselves up as a media lynch mob. God help me, but I actually agree with Trevor Mallard that the facts are (to put it mildly) in dispute, and nobody on either side of this horrible situation deserves to subjected to a trial by media. Especially when the coverage so far has been partial to a disturbing degree.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/31/2007 08:04:00 AM

What's your view of Brownlee trying to blame Mallard for this situation, Craig?

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 08:33:00 AM

I've not heard Brownlee say any such thing, but if he has -- colour me unimpressed. Sorry, but there are times when you've just got to give The Devil his due - and when Mallard slips out of his usual arsehole on P mode, I'll offer all the positive reinforcement I can muster.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/31/2007 08:55:00 AM

Craig: there are some things people should be outraged about. This is one of them. Poverty may be a death sentence in Africa, or in the US - but it should not be one here.

Mercury, like every other power company, seems to have had policies in place to prevent such situations. It's culpable to the extent it failed to follow them, or to the extent that it set perverse incentives (for example: only paying the contractor for actual disconnections. I can't think of a more perfect way of undermining safeguards than that). A protest will at least be a useful way of reminding them to pay attention to those policies, and in turn to remind their contractors to take them seriously.

As for the contractor, I've already said that a murder charge would hinge on their understanding of the situation - and to state the obvious, that is a question for a jury. If the post mortem results suggest that lack of the machine (and therefore lack of electricity) was a contributing factor, then I want it put before one.

Finally, this raises some interesting questions about the nexus of responsibility and the inability of the law to hold corporations (as opposed to their individual staff and contractors) to account in cases where corporate policy leads to death. The Maori Party has already suggested a corporate manslaughter law, and while it may not be applicable in this case, such a law would certainly make companies a lot more careful in playing their role in the market (which IMHO would be a Good Thing). Sometime I'll have to take a look at how such laws are structured and work overseas...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/31/2007 09:13:00 AM

You know I think the contractor, directors, management and shareholders are all culpable in this and ought to be put on trial as soon as possible.

Posted by Rich : 5/31/2007 09:20:00 AM

Rich: I think the shareholders have given a clear instruction to corporate managment via s4 (1) (c) of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1987. And it seems Mercury has mostly followed that instruction (though again, there seem to be problems with the incentives they set for their contractors - something I expect them to remedy). Responsibility seems to lie primarily with the contractor.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/31/2007 09:29:00 AM

isnt a bit rich of a trade union and other professional protestors to be jumping on the bandwagon now?

Why didnt they help out with the bill payments? If they did nothing, and if the individuals involved are members, then surely it is bit rich for them to dust off the protest banners

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 09:50:00 AM

It's a bit rich for anyone to be attempting to make political capital from this tragedy. If you have a beef about trade unions, socialists, corporate greed, whatever, fine. It doesn't serve any purpose but your own little agenda to be airing it here.
Craig Ranapia has expressed that sentiment better than I ever could.
We don't know yet what happened. There's an emerging sense of a family trapped in ignorance and poverty. Speculation about why they did or didn't behave in a certain way is understandable but meaningless.

A bit of a disappointment to see the normally level-headed I/S in headless chicken mode.

Posted by woppo : 5/31/2007 10:03:00 AM

Yes, I agree with Craig R and Mallard (always wanted to type that). I'm angry about this too, but anger should make you want to find out what happened, to hold people to account, to prevent a repeat.

Yesterday many of our politicians decided they knew within minutes who should be held responsible, and ... well, what a surprise, it was exactly who you'd expect: heartless Corporates, or the useless Government, depending on their political leanings (see Scoop for their various media releases).

Having said all that, comments on this blog and others to the effect that "they should simply have paid the bill" are off the planet and beneath contempt.

Simon G

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 10:08:00 AM

So is the Minister of SOE or Helen Clark going to resign - after all that is the ultimate outsourcing.

Labour MPs and this government have handed over all responsibility to CEOs with no checks and balances and have been basically sleeping at the wheel.

This is not the first time either - but the left don't care about real responsibility do you.

You should be calling for heads to roll at the top level.

By the way, if she was so sick that she need oxyen ventilator to survive why was she released from hospital? To save money or the health system wanted another positive outcome to record for the Minister.texvn

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 10:29:00 AM

I/S, why don't you camapaign for the end of ACC then?

That was you could sue the shit of of corporations (using a negligence standard) when a culpable individual could not be pinpointed. No?

james cairney

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 10:34:00 AM

I think anon at 10:29 has just illustrated my earlier point.

Perhaps Max Bradford should resign? And what would Jesus (Key) do? Save lives in South Auckland?

FFS.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 10:37:00 AM

If Labour want to start fighting back and have a chance of winning the next election they should do the following:
- announce that they will be demanding the resignation of the board of Mercury. (And Solid Energy. And Clint Rickards.)

- immediately draft legislation to amend employment law so that senior public employees hold their jobs at political discretion in the same way as ministers.

Chances are the Nats will oppose this and we'll have an immediate stick to beat them with in supporting the killing of old ladies.

Posted by Rich : 5/31/2007 12:39:00 PM

Chances are the Nats will oppose this and we'll have an immediate stick to beat them with in supporting the killing of old ladies.

And there is the reason for the outcry & protests by 'solidarity groups' and unionists - political opportunism. Nice.

On a related note, it has been claimed that the victim & her family sat around singing hymns instead of calling a bloody ambulance to rescue her.

I/S, would you support criminal charges against those family members?

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 5/31/2007 12:59:00 PM

"supporting the killing of old ladies".

It has also been reported that invidividual suffered from heart disease and obsesity. Isnt she jsut as liable for knowingly putting herself in a position where her health was endangered? isnt the family jsut as guilty for not encouraging her to lose weight and adhere to a healthy diet.

I guess the rent a crowd wont be highlighting those issues

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 01:02:00 PM

By the way, if she was so sick that she need oxyen ventilator to survive why was she released from hospital?

She wasn't so sick she'd die immediately the power went off; by all accounts she had around two hours inbetween the machine failing, and her dying.

The reason the power-cut led to her death was inaction on her part, and on the part of her family members.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 5/31/2007 01:20:00 PM

"The reason the power-cut led to her death was inaction on her part, and on the part of her family members"

Yet that in no way stops the power cut from being a legal cause of death in law.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 02:24:00 PM

Duncan - an analogy:

I stab you. You get medical attention and live - not murder.

I stab your friend too, he's a Jehovah's Witness and refuses the blood transfusion you took that saved your life. He dies. Murder. My fault.

[legally anyway]

You take your victims as you find them - if the cutting of power was criminal, the fact that earlier medical attention may (or would) have saved the victim's life does not change the legal consequence.

Posted by Graeme : 5/31/2007 02:38:00 PM

Graeme,

I understand & agree with your argument & your analogy.

However I think you're mistaking my argument: I'm not saying that it isn't murder because of a failure to seek medical care. I'm saying that regardless, it's not murder because she had no right to demand power without paying for it.

The fact that by all appearances her family acted like a buch of ignorant jackasses is, while deplorable, neither here nor there. As you rightly point out, murder charges wouldn't hinge on whether the family took appropriate steps to ensure her safety after the event.

The only reason I brought up their behaviour was in response to Anonymous asking why she was released from hospital.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 5/31/2007 03:22:00 PM

The reason it's not murder is because TURNING THESE MACHINES OFF DOES NOT KILL ANYONE.

So perhaps Mr Idiot could do us all a favour and change the title of this thread to reflect that.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 07:13:00 PM

Mr Idiot
"Idiot/Savant said...
Craig: there are some things people should be outraged about. This is one of them. Poverty may be a death sentence in Africa, or in the US - but it should not be one here."

It isn't a death sentence. She died of natural causes unrelated to the power failure. Turning off the machine does not actually kill anyone. The machine is normally turned off for several hours a day. They are not used 24/7.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 07:16:00 PM

Anon: "She died of natural causes unrelated to the power failure. Turning off the machine does not actually kill anyone."

Now there are reasons that this will not be murder, but causation is not one, given the facts available at this stage (and being a factual inquiry). It may be that the turning off of the machine accelerated her inevitable death, in which case it remains a legal cause of her death sufficient for culpability.

cheers, james cairney

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 07:28:00 PM

Murder requires intent, or complete recklessness so that any person would reasonably expect death to occur.

The woman had not been medically diagnosed as needing the apparatus to sustain her life, and neither Mercury nor its contractor had been informed that she had.

She refused a request by a family member that an ambulance be called.

but never mind, nothing like a woman's death for a bunch of people not involved in the case to engage in partisan political grandstanding and rubbish like calling it murder.

You're better than that - or are you culpable too as a shareholder in this "murdering corporation"?

or is everyone who didn't help pay her bill a "murderer" too? or the family members who didn't insist on an ambulance?

Posted by libertyscott : 5/31/2007 10:19:00 PM

New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, says people feel embarrassed and devastated over the treatment of Folole Muliaga.
...
She told Morning Report it was intolerable that an incident of heartlessness by a company and a contractor has conveyed an inaccurate image of New Zealand around the world.

So now the PM is saying that the reason this is wrong is that we are embarrassed by it.

Bad call.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 09:54:00 AM

The piece of equipment that Mz Muliaga was hooked into does not possess an emergency battery pack designed to ensure an uninterrupted power supply becasue it does not need an uninterrupted power supply. Patients hooked up to this equipment can live for several hours without the oxygen supply it provides. If Mz Muliaga's family had called an ambulance immediately or even an hour after the disconnection then she would still be alive.

Posted by Oliver : 6/01/2007 10:32:00 AM