Tag Archive for "Politics"

DIA to Accept Oversight of Internet Filter

I have received a letter from Nathan Guy, Minister for Internal Affairs, where he expands upon the DIA’s plans to set up some sort of oversight on the Internet filtering scheme.

My department recognises that, to ensure public confidence in the filtering system, the operation of the system must be as open to scrutiny as possible. The Department is, therefore, developing a Code of Practice to govern the operation of the completed system, and will be making the Code available on the Department’s website for public comment. An Independent Reference Group will be formed to ensure the Department operates the website filtering system in compliance with the Code.

I look forward to seeing the Code of Practice and hearing more about the Independent Reference Group.

DIA Deletes Records of Filtering Trial

While re-reading the most recent response from the Department of Internal Affairs (see page 3), I was struck by the following:

The Department is moving to implement the fully operational system and will shortly commence rebuilding the list. As the filtering list is rebuilt, new officer’s reports will be generated and, in preparation for this process, the reports related to the trial list have been deleted. The Department therefore cannot provide the requested information as it does not exist. [emphasis added]

I believe that this is a serious concern.

The Department of Internal Affairs has been running an Internet filtering scheme that has been actively used to filter people’s Internet connections without their knowledge. They have apparently deleted the reports that they used to justify adding websites to the list. This means that they have deliberately removed the ability for anyone to audit what they have been doing.

As a government department, the DIA has a responsibility under the Public Records Act 2005 to ‘create and maintain full and accurate records in accordance with normal, prudent business activity‘. They’re not allowed to just delete them without getting permission from the Chief Archivist.

It’s this sort of behaviour that makes it so important that any filtering scheme be conducted in an open and accountable manner.

IT Minister Against Internet Filtering

In March 2009, Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce had the following to say about internet filtering:

We have been following the internet filtering debate in Australia but have no plans to introduce something similar here.

The technology for internet filtering causes delays for all internet users. And unfortunately those who are determined to get around any filter will find a way to do so. Our view is that educating kids and parents about being safe on the internet is the best way of tackling the problem.

Maybe Steven Joyce should be having a little chat to Nathan Guy, the Minister of Internal Affairs?

Drinking Liberally – Andrew Little

Another Thursday, another Drinking Liberally at the Southern Cross. Tonight’s guest was Andrew Little who manages to be President of both the EPMU and the Labour Party at the same time.

He talked generally about the situation the world is in and suggested that it means the end of the finance-centric ideologies of the last 20-30 years. Instead we now had a chance to start talking about social justice, about providing useful and productive work, and generally recasting our politics and economy in a way that serves the people and not the corporations. There weren’t a lot of details about what that might mean.

Then it came to time to questions – and what interested me was that about half of them (including mine) were some version of “That left wing agenda sounds fine but it doesn’t sound like the Labour Party we’ve had for the last nine (or 25) years, how are you going to get it accepted by them, let alone the general populace?”

Unfortunately I thought he did a very poor job of answering it. First he said that he thought they were already there, secondly that the Labour Party was internally democratic, and finally that they had to follow and be led by general opinion (as different from lead and inspire!). In other words, he didn’t see the same gap between his rhetoric and the current Labour Party that a number of people in the room saw. And bear in mind that the Drinking Liberally crowd is generally pretty pro-Labour!

Speaking as someone who thinks we need Labour to reinvent and repackage itself it was kind of disheartening – and pushes me further towards the Greens.

P.S. I think we’re done on section 92a as a topic. Thanks.

Hybridised Elections

US presidential election – Nov 4th.

NZ national election – Nov 8th.

Question for tonight: Will the result of the US presidential vote have an influence on the NZ election?

I feel that it should have an impact… somehow. But I’m not sure what it would be. What if McCain wins? What if Obama wins?

The Strangely Inappropriate Hillary Clinton

Stuff is reporting that Hillary Clinton has been telling anti Helen Clark jokes!

The gaffe came in a chummy interview with American magazine Newsweek, when journalist Karen Breslau asked Mrs Clinton for a joke: “Here’s a good one. Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand: her opponents have observed that in the event of a nuclear war, the two things that will emerge from the rubble are the cockroaches and Helen Clark. [Laughs]”

Stuff is more amused by Clinton describing Helen Clark as the “former Prime Minister” even though she’s very much the current one.

Personally I think it’s very strange that an apparently serious candidate for the US presidency is telling jokes about the leaders of other countries. I mean, I know we’re not exactly allies any more, but we did send some symbolic troops to the wars she supported in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I wonder what she was thinking.

There are two political issues hitting the media at the moment.

The first is about Labour encouraging their campaigners to give out government pamphlets in an attempt to publicise the wonderful actions of Labour’s term in government. Personally I don’t have a problem with this and I think it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup – as long as the pamphlets aren’t being written for the purpose of campaigning.

The second issue is about how Labour wants to portray National as asset strippers. John Key cleverly spiked Labour’s guns with his declaration that National wouldn’t sell any state owned assets in their first term, and now Clark is reaching a bit by trying to say that it’s just because they’ll be selling them off in their second term (although I do wonder if she meant to imply that she thought National would not only win the next election but the one after it as well!)

But this post isn’t actually about these two issues. While I think everyone involved in both issues is spinning furiously for their own ends and that sometimes this results in people getting a bit carried away and the quality of the debate starts to slide into the gutter, I just want to say how delighted I am that both of these debates are actually about substantive policy issues.

The first is part of the ongoing debate about campaign financing, the second returns to the issue of what the national should own collectively against what should be owned privately. They’re not about someone seeing a prostitute, or when they went to church last, or whether they once did drugs twenty years ago.

I know we’re not immune from obsessing about all those things as well, but at least in this case we can be pleased that our “silly media beatups” and “manufactured political controversies” are about topics that do rightfully belong in the political sphere.

The Foreign Non-Minister

I’m fascinated by the Foreign Minister’s public opposition to New Zealand signing a free trade agreement with China.

By publicly opposing a major foreign policy initiative isn’t Winston Peters just demonstrating his own lack of power and influence? Doesn’t this mean that he’s Foreign Minister in name only?

Any time now I’m expecting Helen Clark to tell him to be quiet and play with his baubles while the adults get some work done.