The Herald Outdoes Itself With Push For Nationals Third Term

As well as politicians, national and local, I often take the media to task. For someone that would like¬†media coverage occasionally when I’m involved with protests and campaigns and hope the newspaper publicises them, it does me no favours. Last I heard the Waikato Times Chief of Staff affectionately refers to me as ‘Hamilton’s Biggest Cunt’. Well it takes dealing with a lot of dicks to try and speak some truth to power so perhaps there’s some beauty in that analogy. Someone has to do it, and all power to those of us that do. Consistently both APN (The Herald) and Fairfax (Stuff) set a tone, both with their editorials and choice of headlines, stories, photos of politicians etc which leaves a lot to be desired.

As a former employee of one of them for a short time it allowed me to see the pressures traditional media has come under. At the end of the day the upper management of these businesses want what John Key/National/Neo-liberal capitalism bring them, i.e. lax labour laws, low tax rates etc etc. But more so than this it brings them advertising dollars. National spends an order of magnitude more money with both companies than Labour and The Greens put together in print and other advertising, not just during the election campaign but throughout every day of every week of every year. Their allies The Conservatives and ACT spend consistently also, and as publicly traded companies answerable to their shareholders etc of course they are going to look after their bottom line, and unfortunately that comes at the expense of their editorial content and journalistic integrity.

Either that or they’re just mates with their monetary backers? But moving on to the topical and timely aspect of the piece.

John Roughan.¬†One of the Heralds star columnists, who has been writing editorials as the Senior Editorial Writer since 1988, just after¬†he “took a keen interest in the economic reform programme” of the 1980’s. Digging on Roughan has been interesting, I’d assumed it was Shayne Currie, the NZ Herald Editor and close friend of Judith Collins that was writing the editorials, or Chief Key Cheerleader, sorry Chief Political Commentator John Armstrong, as their views seem to be interchangeable. To be fair to Armstrong though, until Labour shot up in the polls during the leadership race, he had been being quite fair and even handed. This was thrown out the window as soon as Labour¬†looked to be within striking distance of actually forming a government with the Greens and were enjoying their one big surge in public support since the 2011 election. You can see for yourself by looking through Armstrongs archive and seeing the change in the headlines alone from Sept ’13 and before to post Sept ’13. It’s pretty shocking.

Back to Roughan, he has written a book about John Key. His own personal hero as far as I can tell from his writings, “Nine months ago, I received an offer that gave me excitement and trepidation. Would I like to write a book on John Key? Would I!” The jury is still out if its¬†Key¬†or Roger Douglas which stiffens Roughan¬†more as he whips out his pen and flicks¬†it about penning another account of our country’s saviors.
 
The line between commercial writing and journalism now seems as blurred as the line between political¬†donations and corrupt backhanders, and more’s the shame. Why this is so caustic to our 4th estate in my opinion is when you have this as the headline leading story of The Herald, right beside their editorial attacking Labour for, quelle surprise, intending to ‘tax the rich’, of course reading into Labours policy we see its actually just a reversal of National’s tax cuts to the rich.¬†

Following this attack on Labours policy, right beside this extremely well timed release of John Key’s greatest election PR stunt to date, (all written by the same man?), surely it can’t be too ‘hard to see a conflict of interest’?

I’ll leave it there…

Nui te aroha, Max Dillon Coyle

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Hamilton City Council Looking At Closing Libraries

ImageWhen massive cuts were last proposed for the libraries including cuts to hours and charging for books, British television star and design guru Kevin McCloud from the TV show ‘Grand Designs’ slammed the Hamilton City Council saying they were stuck in the 18th century, saying more money not less should be spent on libraries.¬†

Hamilton City Council went ahead with some cuts in 2012 including budget cuts, reducing opening hours and increases in charges to people using the libraries. Western Community Newspaper has obtained reports showing the cuts and increased charges have had a devastating effect on our cities libraries. 


Now our libraries are facing closure as Councillor Garry Mallett has come out saying ‚ÄúPeople don‚Äôt particularly want libraries‚ÄĚ and is leading the call for a new review in Council with all libraries able to be targeted for closure except the central library in Garden Place. ‚ÄúPeople get very passionate about libraries‚ÄĚ says Cr Mallett.

Following the public outcry during the last libraries review the Council backed down on some of the more extreme changes but then went on to cut $200’000 off the book collections budget leaving gaps in coverage of new books. They also raised late fines and reservation fees putting what people have decried as cripplingly high fees in place which according to official reports to the Council have led to a massive decrease in both revenue and books being issued.¬†

Reports from the Head Librarian to Hamilton City Council show that since increasing overdue fees and reservation fees and decreasing hours, revenue is down by upwards of $200’000 per annum and book issues are down 100’000. The reports make it very clear that this is a result of the cuts and increases. The Council have been asked multiple times to reduce overdue fees but this has not been listened to. Income continues to decline with each report presented to Council. 

While some Councillors are for the cuts and closures, with Mayor Hardaker supporting the review and the possibility of library closures, others are going the opposite way. We spoke with West Ward Councillors Gallagher and Macpherson and heard there may be a silver lining in the review, but its unlikely.

“The review needs to encompass how we better serve communities and how libraries can better care for their communities” says Martin Gallagher. ‚ÄúEnderley, Nawton and Rototuna communities are not currently served by a local library and thats something which the review should be looking at. We could perhaps look at attaching smaller libraries to community centers and community houses in addition to what we have now. Libraries are about more than just books, they help build community. There is strong community support to maintain existing libraries‚ÄĚ

Councillor Dave Macpherson hit out at the Councillors looking at library closures and the results of the previous changes. ‚ÄúWhat we‚Äôve seen is the cuts and shorter hours and increases in fees have hurt libraries and anything that hurts our libraries is hurting Hamiltonians. This review is another waste of money initiated by the same bunch of councillors who seem increasingly focused on removing council from doing anything to help our communities‚Ä̬†

Local mum Sharon had this to say ‚ÄúI go there with my two wee ones on the weekend just to read the books there and do the puzzles, they really love the library and its great learning for them and its good since its free and money has been tight over the past few years”. Cr Macpherson says this shows that its not all about book issues. ‚ÄúLibraries are the beating heart of communities and its situations like this that show its not all about issue numbers. You haven‚Äôt heard the last on this issue and we‚Äôll be fighting to make sure the heart of our communities stays healthy.‚ÄĚ

*Originally Published in the Western Community News June 2014*

By Max Dillon Coyle

Nui te aroha, Max Coyle

Electoral Commission grant to ‘fun’ political party criticised

Leader of The National Party John Key says the group will not be turning down a $1,050,000 grant from the Electoral Commission for its 2014 campaign. 

The Taxpayers’ Union called the grant ”outrageous” and said Key¬†should not accept the money because his party was just ”a fun project”.¬†

“It’s bad enough that taxpayers have to fork out for political party propaganda, but for tax dollars to be given to a satirical party is outrageous,” union director Jordan Williams said.¬†

However, Hawaii-based Key said his party had every right to the money, and taxpayers had actually come out of the situation quite well. 

”The commission actually short changed us really,” Key¬†said. ”We asked for $10 million and only got just over $1M, so we got a bad deal really.”

Key¬†said The National¬†Party was ”not a joke” and had every right to the funding as it met all the legal criteria for a legitimate political party.¬†

”We would not be allowed to accept the money if our party weren’t real,” he said. ”There are other joke parties getting funding, like the Labour¬†and The Greens.¬†

”You can’t tell me people are taking David Cunliffe¬†seriously.”¬†

Key¬†said he had at least 500 members financially backing the party’s election campaign, as counted at the last Oravida AGM, and he had a duty to them to ensure the campaign went ahead.

 Image

Nui te aroha, Max Dillon Coyle