MSC Newswire Achieves New Monthly Readership RecordThe National Press Club news site MSC Newswire passed one million visitors in a single month by the middle of the month of March 2024. The site is one of the very few news sites anywhere to display a visible and real time recording of its usage.

The site has notched up a total of 45 million visitors during its relatively brief career.

The site focuses in covering the no-go areas which mainstream media by convention avoid. One such featured story is about The Platform a streaming broadcast service start-up established to disclose areas which the mainstream and especially the two network television broadcasters collude in failing to objectively cover.

The site draws attention to the underlying sinisterness of the in vogue Cancel movement with its coordinated sabotage of any dissonant voice such as that of Graham Linehan (pictured)

MSC Newswire began as a venture in Hawkes Bay and which requested the assistance of the National Press Club to broaden its coverage and catchment. The site’s industrial foundation is the explanation for MSC – Manufacturer’s Success Connection.

This background means a focus on the productive community by for example exposing the threat to the productive sector of the all-party campaigns to lock in and at any cost upscale voters with variations on the road to zero theme.

Peter Bush National Press Club VP Pioneered Photo Journalism

The death at 93 of National Press Club vice president Peter Bush brings to end the career of the nation’s most storied living journalist. He covered test matches from the age of 17 and was a constant feature of international touch lines until quite recent times.

Though most celebrated for his work as a sports photographer, especially as a rugby photographer, he was in fact a fully-fledged photo-journalist and a pioneer of the joint craft in southerly latitudes.

He was also one of the very few such practitioners anywhere to have crashed through the not-so-invisible barrier dividing the craft-cum- trade from the arts.

A curated exhibition of his works known as Hard on The Heels toured Australasian art galleries underlining the breadth of his interests from sport via landscape through to visual social commentary.

He ranked also as a war reporter due to his coverage of the New Zealand participation in the Malaya Emergency.

At home he was a noted chronicler of the outdoors an interest which resulted in the book High Summer on the Heaphy Track and also a book on farming centred on high country hill stations.

He was particularly intrigued by life in remote parts and the people who earned their livings there which he commemorated also in his book South Island Wide.

His interest in travel extended beyond New Zealand and quite later in his career he produced a travel book on the United States.

He became a noted recorder of popular culture with his coverage of early visiting celebrities such as the Beatles, Eartha Kitt, Cliff Richard and David Bowie.

Peter Bush became one of the rare practitioners when he himself became the subject of considerable coverage notably in a television documentary series.

Possessed of a resonant deep voice and with his lived-in visage Peter Bush attracted as much if not more attention than many of the people he was assigned to cover.

First and foremost he considered himself a newsman having honed his skills in the dailies and then on the weeklies notably Truth which heralded the Murdoch era before Murdoch himself set up shop here.

His core speciality Rugby saw his intervention in terms of coverage with the social and political disruptions that shook Australasia from the late 1960s onward, notably the 1981 Springbok tour.

He was remarkable in that he had a curious gift of intimacy which allowed him to relate to others of any walk of life as if he had always known them. His mere presence was enough to enliven any gathering on anything at all.

He had known and conversed with such global figures as Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul 11 among so many feted local and international movers and shakers.

Rarely, and only when asked, would he dwell on his encounters with the great and the good.

He preferred to fall back on vignettes of his days with the army and the merchant navy and especially on tales from the West Coast of his boyhood.

He straddled the technological dividing line starting when film had to be physically transported to the newspaper dark room to the current era of digital end-to-end throughput.

His decision to go freelance gave him the journalistic depth of field that meshed with his widely diverse interests.

A certain deliberate devil-may-care style of bonhomie successfully disguised a meticulous attention to detail so evident for example in the demanding intricacies of cataloguing his increasingly immense archive.

He was appointed vice president of the National Press Club during the presidency of the late Dominion editor Jack Kelleher and he went on to serve in this role for 40 years.

He was made QSM (1991) and CNZM (2011)

He is survived by his partner, Jane, his two daughters, Trinette and Rachel, stepchildren Carl and Karina, and grandchildren.

Browser Tags News Site in New Zealand

Google has tagged a heavy traffic New Zealand news site. The statement placed above the MSC Newswire browser title stated at various times:-

“It looks like the results below are changing quickly. If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for reliable sources to publish information.”

It suggested that site visitors “might take time for reliable sources to publish information.”

The qualifier advises browsers to “Check the source. Are they trusted on this topic?” And to “Come back later.”

Also “Other sources might have more information on this topic “in a few hours or days.” It concludes by suggesting browsers “Get more tips.”

In the event the five year old has recorded over 35 million visits. It is the only such site to display its own level of historic and real time traffic.

The site which neither seeks nor accepts sponsorship or any other revenue has experienced accelerated readership since the government began subsidising print and broadcast media.

In recent times has taken up the threat to public welfare presented to the neighbouring townships by the extensive solar generating plants through their associated electromagnetic radiation fields. Headlines in the site on this topic are:-

Auckland City Council C02 v Radiation Emissions Choice

Radiation Clouds Helensville Greytown Giant Solar Schemes in NZ

An investigation into transfer pricing was also widely visited. This un-probed area of New Zealand commercial life allows foreign companies, notably United States ones, to profit through internal sales to its Kiwi company, as these subsidiaries are commonly described.

The site notes that its primary purpose is to disclose what was actually going on when other outlets were precluded from doing so.

The site originated in Hawkes Bay as a communications channel for manufacturing engineers. The letter M in its title originally stood for Manufacturers. Elements of the National Press Club assisted in transforming it into a general news site.

Russian Oligarch Funds New Zealand Legal FirmsRussian Oligarch Funds New Zealand Legal Firms

National Press Club Inc Submission to Law Commission

The National Press Club Inc takes the opportunity of drawing the attention of the Commissioners to the circumstances in which a known Russian oligarch funds New Zealand legal practices to engage in litigation in New Zealand.

This submission follows a previous one filed on August 8 2021 in which in this same context we raised with the Commissioners the matter of jurisdiction and also of what is now quite widely recognised as Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.

We wish now to point out the continuing funding by a United States resident the Russian oligarch Sergei Grishin of litigation against John Bowie proprietor of the Lawfuel website which is based in Wellington.

Our affiliates have recommended that we now notify you about such litigation being conducted at a time in which the international community seeks to curtail the activities of oligarchs within countries condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

We have been shown documents to the effect that at least two Auckland legal firms currently conduct litigation in New Zealand on behalf of Sergei Grishin.

We have similarly been shown documents that indicate that substantial moneys are being sought from the plaintiff.

We may assume that such funds are destined for the benefit of Sergei Grishin.

We appreciate your response to our original submissions and trust that this latest development in this affair will similarly engage your attention


Peter Isaac


National Press Club Inc

Newspaperman Jon Morgan pictured at the book launch with fellow Fairfax era colleague Richard Woodd

Jon Morgan became a newspaper reporter at the age of 16 in 1966. It was the high noon of print with 42 daily newspapers nationwide. Zig zagging his way mainly through what was to become the Fairfax then Stuff chain he contrived to remain on a payroll until 2018. In maintaining this half century trapeze act Morgan looks back at what can be seen now as a gradually crumbling print news industry.

He appears to have kept employed by keeping constantly flexible and grasping whatever opportunity or story came his way and following it wherever it led him.

Perceiving that times they really were a-changing we follow Morgan as he gradually eases himself away from the assignment book and onto the specialist track as an agricultural reporter a manoeuvre that sustained him through to his final working days. He additionally armoured himself against the increasingly lethal arrows of outrageous fortune by embellishing himself with a high profile in his chosen agrarian field.

A surprise to many print practitioners will be the immense number of awards adorning the field of agricultural journalism in general and Morgan in particular. The by now roving rural reporter enters his name into seemingly every one of these and appears to have emerged as a consistent victor becoming in the process an agricultural sector statesman officiating in show judging among other rural rituals.

Morgan we can see now entered journalism in its last few years as a bona fide blue collar calling prior to admission to the trade being taken over by the universities. His description of the final days of on-the-job journeyman training and those who administered it should alone ensure his book a place in any official archive of industrial apprenticeship history.

The presentation of this book is of short and sharp lavishly illustrated pieces centred on a march past of personalities. These are divided between sketches and vignettes of his own vintage colleagues and of his raw material which was mainly the farmers he wrote about.

Time has not mellowed his memories and quite a few of these brisk appraisals are caustic and deliberately incautious. Neither does Morgan spare himself. He routinely scolds himself for an enduring attitude of frivolity. Still, he seems to have kept his feet on the ground, and in pretty much the same patch the North Island’s Central Districts.

As the outline of his own end game begins to loom spectrally on the horizon Morgan becomes progressively more distressed at the way in which his employers start to abandon farm coverage. His impatience accelerates as his bosses then segue into actually attacking farmers for muddying the cherished fashionable urban cultural ideals now taking over editorial direction..

Morgan in vain sought to point out that it was the people in the provinces and notably farmer subscribers who still wanted their information in print rather than on a screen, and by the way supplied the wealth that the metropolitan newspapers depended on.

Nobody it seems listened. The newspapers stepped up their critiques of what they saw and portrayed as the brutish ways of farmers. A still greater share of revenue from still profitable print versions poured into a variety of speculative electronic alternatives.

Jon Morgan seems never to have been lured by the siren song of the public relations world. He entered the industry just as television arrived, yet he stuck with print.

He floats the perplexing and largely unvoiced issue of why so many stories in the internet era give the impression of being bottomless mixes of opinion and conjecture the meaning of which readers are left to work out for themselves and solve rather like crossword puzzles.

One is left with an impression that whatever the future holds for the energetic yet now out-to-graze newspaperman it will not be at a Media Studies establishment or at a J School.

National Press Club Warning Taken up by Westminster Reformists

Wealthy clients and oligarchs from autocratic countries are using prestigious London law firms to intimidate and silence journalists according to Westminster legislators seeking to stall powerful entities using the legal system to “intimidate and destroy” reporters.

A cross party slate of British MPs has urged the government to intercede in protecting journalists from a trend first revealed in the middle of last year by the National Press Club which then alerted New Zealand’s Law Commission to the development .

The intent of the British Members of Parliament with their proposed legislation is simple enough. It is to stop high end law firms with well-resourced clients from inflicting on the media and citizens from what the reforming UK parliamentarians describe as abusive legal actions.

These are known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or Slapps as they are now described. The parliamentarians say Slapps is a form of legal harassment that exploits the legal system by using expensive procedures to silence journalist and also critics and watchdogs.

Identified as practitioners of Slapps were what the MPs defined as elite law firms.

The debate in the House of Commons was secured by former Conservative cabinet minister David Davis MP (pictured above.)

The MPs argued that what attracted bona fide people to the English legal system also attracted those with nefarious intentions and those with exceptionally deep pockets and what were described as exceptionally questionable ethics also.

One reform advocated by the MPs was for judges to have the power to “rapidly dismiss” a case if it was designated as falling into the Slapp category.

They also advocated punitive costs to deter the misuse of courts by those bringing Slap cases. They recommended in addition the establishment of a defamation defence fund via a windfall tax on the law firms that the MPs described as deriving immense revenues from the misuse of courts.

The National Press Club’s submissions to the New Zealand Law Commission were made on August 5 2021.

These submissions (below) relate to proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand between the representatives of a prominent Russian businessman resident in California and a Wellington legal publisher.

The National Press Club seeks the opportunity to draw your attention to elements of the laws of defamation and libel and the interpretation of them in the context of this recent case.

We perceive the danger in which the sources of an international story become revealed and in doing so become inevitably disclosed to the world at large.

We would like these points in the case to be considered:

  • An absentee plaintiff through their agents can precipitate a defamation action in the New Zealand High Court.
  • This same absentee plaintiff and their agents can successfully order the handing over of correspondence such as emails that have passed between the journalist and their source.
  • In spite of New Zealand’s court system said to be already congested with cases of varying degrees of magnitude of severity a civil case such as this one was accorded a ready fixture.
  • The defendant who had substantial costs awarded against them was given no indication of a countervailing deposit made by the plaintiff or through their local agents.

The reason that we seek the attention of the Commission in this matter is that the outcome of this case has created alarm within a number of organisations with which we are affiliated or involved internationally

These include the Overseas Press Club of America, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom.

The common cause in seeking the consideration of the Commission of a review of laws is that the case indicates that international stories covered in New Zealand can be suppressed through an action brought about by an absentee plaintiff and that a Court here can order the handing over of documents revealing sources and their information.

We note the Commission’s willingness to evaluate ideas leading to the review of laws and our particular anxiety aroused by this case is about the determined and continuing move for the defendant to hand over information connected with the case, and thus their stories.

The Court was made aware of the plaintiff’s urgency expressed via their agent to have this story source data made available to them.

We note that the original stories underpinning this case were derived from events and actions in other countries, the United States and Russia.

Therefore the possibility must be considered of the consequences to individuals connected with the original series of stories should their involvement in them become more widely known.

Should New Zealand be perceived internationally as a door of entry to successful litigation in this sphere then we suggest that rules embodying discovery and disclosure in a case such as this one be reviewed in order to protect third parties.

In regard to disclosure we suggest that full disclosure be mandated in regard to a plaintiff’s deposit, its presence or otherwise, in the matter especially of absentee plaintiffs.

These submissions are made in cognisance of the Commission’s stated belief that it “is critical that the current views of New Zealanders inform our recommendations,” and similarly in the spirit of the Commission’s objective of seeking ideas in this context.

We note in the judgment summary the reference to “fishing expedition”.

Our submission centres on our worry that in the matter of a globalised case such as the one under discussion here that the order of disclosure inherent to this case is likely to pose severe consequences for third parties in countries beyond the New Zealand jurisdiction.

In any deliberations we may take the liberty in the matter of jurisdiction of reminding the Commission of regulations applying in the UK which provides that the Court will not have jurisdiction to hear a defamation claim where the prospective defendant is resident outside of the UK, European Union or the Lugano Convention states (Norway, Switzerland and Denmark), unless it can be satisfied that England and Wales is clearly the most appropriate.

Women who step outside their contemporary stereotypes still detonate a wide field of conflicted emotions and responses. A new documentary on hard line infectious diseases clinician Dr Siouxsie Wiles provides the evidence.

Dr Wiles carried the bad news about the severity of Covid. She said the virus was the priority and not the economy or even the comfort of the population.

Her various prognostications were justified.

The documentary reveals how attention focused only slightly on Siouxsie Wiles the scientist and instead focussed on the clinician’s persona which is underwritten by her signature purple frizz hair do, and by her general flamboyance characterised by her choice of nom de guerre, Siouxsie.

The camera follows the colourful clinician in a domestic milieu point-counterpoint style in which she alternately giggles at herself and fires off life-and-death pronunciamentos about the virus threat.

Social equity desiderata permeate the politico-media class.

This documentary by National Press Club member Gwen Isaac indicates however that there remains beyond the elites and their world, well, another world.

It is inhabited by those exhibiting a bewilderment amounting to suspicion and hostility about females who having ventured into the sharper edges of real science then proceed to cross over into other preserves such as entertainment and public education

The outbreak in the United States of the Covid 19 contagion ripped through Washington and New York. An eyewitness was and remains National Press Club NZ member Victoria Gaither. She was swept into the pandemic when an entire branch of her family was wiped out by it. In the Washington press she recorded her feelings on discovering that that for her the plague data had taken on a new face, one comprised of her own close relatives........

Washington, DC

Today news broke the drug Remdesivir might help patients recover quicker from the corona virus. Today, I also received a text saying my auntie Leslie Leake of Southeast Washington, DC died from the corona virus. While the drug isn't going to help Leslie, her daughter Nicky Leake or son John Leake Jr, who all died within weeks of contracting the deadly virus, I'm hoping it helps other Americans. 

But, today, I'm not thinking about all the other Americans just my two cousins, Nicky and John Jr, and auntie Leslie. Nicky worked at Washington Hospital Center and if you look at her Facebook page you can tell she loved her job but most of all she loved her family and children. She wanted the best for her kids and would stop at nothing to make sure they had the best. When her daughter, Eniah, graduated from high school last year, she pulled out all the stops. Eniah walked the red carpet at grandma Leslie's house, the hub, of family activity. Eniah's uncle John Jr would have been in the mix taking photos and fussing over Eniah. John Jr. was the clown! He always had a laugh and had the ability to make people laugh. A long career at the USPS, love of food, travel to Africa, and active at his family's church, Master's Child Church Worship Center. When the USPS come out with Journalist Gwen Ifill stamp John Jr. made sure I knew about it being a Broadcaster and fan of Ifill. Cousin Nicky also give me permission to use her photos in my presentation on Slavery in America in Foxton Beach, New Zealand. That was Nicky willing to help her cousin broadcaster and photojournalist. 

Mother Leake as many called her was the core, strength, glue, and lifeblood of the Leake family! She was the face of strength! Before covid-19 took her, she was heartbroken over daughter's Nicky's death but she died never knowing her youngest son, John Jr, was gone. While she was fighting for her life at George Washington Hospital, son John Jr. was fighting for his life at Howard University, so tragic and sad. In one family, three deaths and as I write, her husband John Sr. and grandson, Donte, have tested positive for the corona virus. The President calls this a silent virus but today its not silent as a church family, friends, extended family, colleagues, neighbors from near and far all grieve and asking 'why'? Why did this virus take so many in one family? Why did this invisible virus creep through the Leake family and wipe them out? Why are African American and Hispanic communities suffering from corona virus? Why, why, why? On his Facebook Live, Bishop Melvin Robinson Jr. the family's pastor, notified church members of Leslie's passing. It was just a day before he notified the church family of John Jr. passing. 

A mother, daughter, and son all gone within weeks of contracting the corona virus! The 600 Block of Alabama Ave Southeast Washington, DC will never be the same, summer cookouts, 4th of July, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving will never be the same because at the end of the day three souls are gone. It's like the puzzle isn't complete and you can never find the pieces to put it back together again. Leslie Leake, Nicky Leake, and John Leake Jr., you are our missing piece to the puzzle! We love you!

Victoria Gaither

Mainstream journalists can break their state of United Nations-induced trance and the first step is to investigate a massive donation that the New Zealand government appears scheduled to transfer to the UN.

National Press Club president Peter Isaac urged print journalists especially to start asking questions about the pending donation to United Nations, find out how much was going to be transferred, why, and when?

Stepping out of the United Nations thrall will allow the mainstream to return to the era in which it covered a diversity of opinions and attitudes.

As it was the subscription readership had been subject to a United Nations mono cultural diet of climate along with subsidiary and now demonstrably-flawed doctrines such as the globalisation one.

Shamelessly, United Nations having sown this distraction sought to link it with the Coronavirus pandemic which its entire apparatus had failed to detect in the first place.

The investigation into the Labour-led coalition’s past and pending contributions to United Nations would be the start of breaking the UN’s monopoly and obvious hold on the journalistic mind set here all too often seen by subscribers as a posturing one.

In practical terms it should also have the effect of keeping in New Zealand money needed for the welfare of its own citizens.

Isaac said that United Nations had been founded with the finest of motives.

Journalists in New Zealand especially had failed to recognise what Isaac described as the “policeman-becoming-preacher” in the UN transformation from its original peace keeping role into a self-serving propaganda one.

Isaac was talking in the context of the New Zealand newspaper chains themselves seeking donations or government financing in lieu of paid subscribers.

Some tough questions asked about the New Zealand role in financing the UN and would be a better option he said.

This was because it will signal to subscribers and potential subscribers a return to the era in which local imperatives elbowed aside showy international ideologies.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan Affiliates -- FCCJ consistently at Hinge of History

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan has affiliated with the National Press Club, reinforcing the New Zealand club’s international linkages. In fact, no other such club anywhere can claim to be so close to the hinge of history as the FCCJ.

The club began in 1945 under the occupation lead by General Douglas MacArthur and the FCCJ was again to find its fortunes hitched to the MacArthur star during the Korean War.

The club has been a consistent unifying force for journalists with its over-arching status across the entire sector.

It’s presence in Tokyo is also a reminder of the Japanese enduring passion for print led by the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the nation’s five national dailies and which has a circulation of over nine million.

The club was a listening post for journalists covering the Cold War.

It afforded its members eyewitness status to the most remarkable economic surge of modern times and notably so to New Zealand journalists as Japan became the first and largest Asian trading partner following Britain’s original membership of the Common Market as the EU was then known.

The FCCJ forged an early reputation for the inclusiveness of its membership and also for the way in which it platforms a diversity of speakers. Our illustration shows Euro-Asian car czar Carlos Ghosn at the podium.

With several thousand members the FCCJ over the years has hosted members of the British Royal Family and the Imperial House.

Banished Botanist Dr Bob Brockie Revealed As Antipodean David BellamyDr Bob Brockie’s role as the antipodean version of his fellow botanist the late Dr David Bellamy was a discussion point at the 21st annual gathering for Central Districts journalists held at the Te Horo estate of the Morgan family.

Dr Brockie confirmed at the convocation that he now received journalistic assignments but now only on a bi-lateral or barter payment basis such as for a “bottle of wine.”

All this is a far cry from the era which ended so recently for the internationally-acclaimed botanist when he was resident commentator for the Fairfax chain and also the National Business Review.

The New Zealand division of Fairfax appears to have dispensed with Dr Brockie on doctrinal grounds, a process hastened by a Brockie column proclaiming that the Treaty of Watangi had “no place” in “scientific endeavour.”

This followed Dr Brockie’s lukewarm editorial posture toward the chain’s own ardently self-proclaimed uncritical advocacy of fashionable climate theories characterised by the candidly-proclaimed policy of banning anything contrary to this stance.

. Dr Brockie’s exile from the print mainstream echoes that of his equally flamboyant botanical comrade at arms Dr David Bellamy who, following his refusal to endorse the United Nations line on climate lost all his broadcasting contracts, everywhere.

In discussions at the gathering Dr Brockie, globally considered the foremost authority on Erinaceinae, the hedgehog, declined to specify if the bottles now offered to him as payment were premier cru, vintage, or of the cleanskin supermarket grade.

Tony Haas who has died after a long illness was an advocacy journalist whose mercantilist skills allowed him to pursue his central crusade which was the recognition of native Pacific cultures - National Press Club Inc.Tony Haas who has died after a long illness was an advocacy journalist whose mercantilist skills allowed him to pursue his central crusade which was the recognition of native Pacific cultures. This cause saw him zig-zagging the Pacific and at various times a working resident of many Pacific Islands and also of Japan and Singapore.

Haas managed throughout a half century working career to combine his triple passions of academic research, support for those he perceived as underdogs, and that of operating as an independent writer-publisher..

All these purposes from the outset converged on Oceania which became his central preoccupation in terms of journalistic coverage and in arranging practical assistance in his role as freelance aid promoter.

Anthony Roger Haas was born in 1944 into a recently-established Pahiatua farming family. His father having fled Germany just prior to the outbreak of World War 2. This provenance was to imbue Haas the younger with the sense of internationalism that was to become the leitmotif of his adult life.

Haas entered daily journalism from academia at a time when journalism was only beginning to make the transition from blue collar employment to a post-Watergate phase in which it became respectable and sought-after quasi professional career for the aspiring middle class.

Haas’ timing was fortuitous also in entering the craft before it became fashionable and thus competitive and therefore somewhat inhospitable to reporters departing from the assignment book and the institutional career path.

Haas throughout his own long career displayed though an ability that habitually eludes journalists from whatever background—the technique of turning contacts into enterprise partners, monetising them.

The National Press Club stalwart’s dedication to minority causes had begun as a student at Victoria University and it was here that he flourished as a student politician.

His ability to adapt to any collegiate environment was to become his hallmark even though poor eyesight was to rule out any sporting proficiency and thus deny him the gift outright of the varsity experience during its gilded era in the 1960s.

It was at Victoria University that he encountered Michael King. As flat mates they effectively divided Oceania between them.

Michael King became the defining popular author of the Maori experience while Haas in his own words took the “side road” into the Pacific islands.

Before his own untimely death Michael King urged Haas to produce a mirror of King’s own autobiographical testament, Being Pakeha. This eventually happened with the launch in 2015 of Tony Haas’ own long incubated 2015 autobiography Being Palangi – My Pacific Journey.

In his final full time employee daily newspaper job Haas took to heart the counsel of Wellington Evening Post editor Ken Poulton to the effect that he should cease the undergraduate life-style and acquire a house.

This Haas did, acquiring one of the very last inner city rambling bungalows which now became both residence and the headquarters for his diversified publishing operations.

A burly, jovially persuasive and indeed, forceful fellow, Haas was a natural as an entrepreneurial journalist selling advertising and indeed entire publication concepts to willing sponsors. His Decision Maker series became the defining glossies on the Pacific through the terminating decades of the last century.

Haas during these years garnered the goodwill of journalist contributors by always paying them regardless of the success or otherwise of the project.

He nimbly trod the path between the raffish milieu of reporters and that of the unctuously fawning sphere of public relations. He successfully presented himself as a researcher before this term too became tarnished by time and over-use.

To his fellow journalists, those in regular employment, Haas presented a somewhat Pasha like figure disappearing for months at a time to a property in the Marlborough Sounds, a rich hunting ground for the rarified and well-placed types that he so enjoyed weaving into his variegated publishing projects.

A natural organiser, Haas in these years also designed and participated in numerous voluntary forays into the Pacific for both cultural and for three-dimensional commercial aid projects.

His objectives were much aided by his ability as an event manager which in part took the form of throwing publication launch parties for contributors and sponsors alike.

In his later years Haas, a secular Jew, diverted some of his energies toward Europe and his own provenance. This was remarkable by any standards.

His grandfather was a member of the German Bundestag and as a determined opponent to the Nationalist Socialist, Nazi Party, is increasingly being viewed nowadays in Germany as the last politician who could have stopped World War 2.

In the event his grandfather told his son, Tony Haas’ father, to put as much distance as he possibly could between himself and Germany.

This the father did and acquired the family farm near Pahiatua shortly before the outbreak of the war.

It was here that Haas was born and grew up. Subsequently Haas always described himself as being at heart a farm boy.

When the internet ultimately undermined his publishing business it was to the Wairarapa Valley that Haas now returned for his final years which were spent on a leafy street in Greytown.

It was here that he instituted his final journalistic project in the form of a rural self help column in the community news sheet Grapevine.

He was much engaged in the resurgence in Germany of interest surrounding his grandfather and made one last excursion, this time to Karlsruhe, his ancestor’s old constituency.

As his final years slipped by Haas was much gratified to become actively involved in all details of the definitive book under preparation by a Berlin publisher on his illustrious ancestor Ludwig Haas who had once stood at the global hinge of fate.

Tony Haas is survived by his wife Dr Patricia Donnelly and their children.

Victoria Gaither with National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne and Dr Ian CouttsVictoria Gaither with National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne and Dr Ian Coutts

Reluctance to admit mistakes also contributes to erosion of faith in journalism claims US Broadcaster Victoria Gaither

Viewers are becoming increasingly confused about those they see on television. “Is the person a pundit, a contributor, a reporter? Asked United States broadcaster Victoria Gaither speaking to the National Press Club.

“Who exactly is what?” Miss Gaither followed up noting the growing disaffection of what she described as the “disempowered” voters, the ones who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency.

“All these new jobs crept into television news,” she observed, “and in the end, like the pollsters, they got it all wrong.”

Miss Gaither with US broadcaster Patricia Sexton

Miss Gaither with US broadcaster Patricia Sexton

The underpinning flaw in the media coverage of the presidential election and its aftermath was simply that the “quietest segment” of the population, the one far away from the coastal elites, had become “activated” and the media failed to realise it.

The mainstream’s failure to make corrections when rumour was put forward as fact, and later disproved, further contributed to the diminishing trust in the media.

There are frequent references to “fact checkers” observed the Washington National Press Club stalwart, but never is there a candid admission to the effect “we messed up.”

Instead, there is an attempt to “gloss over” the incident.

This behaviour constantly “erodes” the quiet segment of the electorate’s “faith in journalism,” as does the mainstream’s continuing to ignore these same people

With media lawyer Graham Holmes

With media lawyer Graham Holmes

In her no-notes address and commenting on president Trump’s role as an agent of change Miss Gaither urged the US mainstream to accept the shifts that the “unfiltered” president had wrought in this activation of the hitherto quiet segment, as she described the demographic.

This portion of the electorate will remain “activated” regardless of whether the mainstream approved of this state of affairs.

The closure of newspapers in the Midwest of the United States was a contributor to this sense this new quiet constituency had of “losing their voice.”

Miss Gaither who is a radio entrepreneur in the Central Districts of New Zealand had returned to this country only days before reported the strong current media interest in several recent events here.

Printer Jeff Beaumont with Melody Criglington and Gail Isaac

Printer Jeff Beaumont with Melody Criglington and Gail Isaac

One was the pick up on the picaresque holidaying family of gypsies or “travellers” from Britain strewing their refuse over beauty spots, standing over any locals seeking to challenge them, and generally behaving like an outlaw band.

Another was the coverage of prime minister Jacinda Ardern giving birth while in office and then taking Baby Neave with her to proceedings at the United Nations.

Earthquakes were routinely covered.

She noted the heavy coverage about the United States in New Zealand, which contrasted with the paucity of news from and about the United Kingdom, notably about Brexit.

Emmy-award winning Miss Gaither began her career at ABC with Ted Koppel and worked throughout the United States, notably in Baltimore and the Midwest.

The speaker displayed a selection of Beltway accessories

The speaker displayed a selection of Beltway accessories

Conceding the continuing unease in Washington due to the presidential unpredictability and the between- tweets-apprehension she also discounted the slew of inquiries, especially the long-running one conducted by Robert Mueller as an example of investigation overload.

Beyond the beltway and the political classes there existed an investigation fatigue in which investigation communiques “went in one ear and out the other.”

Contrary to the impression radiated by the US media, president Trump’s base “Hispanics-you-name them” still held firm.

Neither, as the mainstream had predicted, had president Trump “fractionated” the Republican Party.

Recalling that her great great grandmother had been a slave, Miss Gaither clarified overseas impressions about racial allegiances, notably one prevalent in the Commonwealth to the effect that it was the Democrat Party that was historically tied to the emancipation of slaves.

In the historical event it was the Republican Party under President Lincoln that had been responsible for ending slavery.

It was the Democratic Party’s failure to see that loyalties it had subsequently built up were fraying that was still another still only partially recognised factor leading to the Trump ascendancy, she commented.

Central Districts visitors Brian and Carole Jackson with Martin Jenkins

Central Districts visitors Brian and Carole Jackson with Martin Jenkins

New Zealand she concluded was a victim of the US mainstream media’s being dazzled by the Beltway- coastal enclave elites and political classes and their corresponding inability to peer into the middle of their own country and thus analyse what was actually going on.

New Zealand media feeds came exclusively from this self-same mainstream media with its deliberate narrow opinion and news gathering catchment.

Thus New Zealand and without understanding it became the passive victim of this restricted coverage, confined as it was, and is, to news and opinions derived from unrepresentative socio-geographic zones.

In place of taking an objective analysis of events, and learning from them, the mainstream instead was wringing its collective hands and asking itself “How did all this happen?”

Dear Sir

I was greatly concerned with Stuff’s Editor-in-Chief Patrick Crewdson’s proclamation to disallow articles that challenged climate-change in his company’s publications. I was nonetheless heartened to see that a Mr Andy Esperson of Nelson had complained about this to the Media Council.

As Mr Esperson’s complaint however was not upheld I considered your organisation as perhaps the only court of appeal available to apply pressure to reinstate the previous status quo.

In New Zealand greenhouse gas estimates are the result of computer modelling studies.

These estimates are therefore speculative rather than proven and subsequently globally the warming theories remain challenged by a substantial body of science.

The Fairfax organisation’s decision to shut down any debate on the topic remains worrying.

The Media Council’s decision to support Fairfax in ignoring any contrary discussion is even more concerning.

The only reasoning that I can come to is that the Fairfax decision must be ascribed to a marketing drive to encourage subscriptions among younger and therefore more ideologically-prone subscribers.

The Media Council meanwhile could therefore be viewed as deliberately encouraging censorship on a current topic and one that a large range of citizenry regard as still being up for debate.

There is also the matter of Fairfax’s dominant position, indeed exclusive presence, in many cities in which there are substantial scientific research institutes.

For instance Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington, and Hamilton would be among them.

There was a time when such cities accommodated rival newspapers proclaiming their political allegiances.

The belief is that the subsisting newspaper, in the absence of this rivalry, should take an impartial line.

The Fairfax chain and with the endorsement of the Media Council now emphatically infers that this state of affairs of balance ceases to exist.

Yours faithfully

Rick Long

(Mr Long for many years has been a municipal and regional councillor and is currently a District Health Board member)

Philippines is Multi Cultural, Diverse, Polynesian, Points Out Ambassador Gary Domingo

Philippines is Multi Cultural, Diverse, Polynesian, Points Out Ambassador Gary Domingo

An intense and often exclusive focus on the economies of north Asia dazzled and often blinded New Zealand to a clear view of the rather more accessible value of the Philippines, the country’s ambassador Jesus Domingo told the National Press Club in Wellington.

He observed a similarity between New Zealand and the Philippines in that both nations were obscured by more powerful neighbours.

Australia in New Zealand’s case and China for the Philippines

In New Zealand’s case this was Australia. In the Philippines instance it was the industrial powerhouses of north Asia, notably China.

Mr Domingo was speaking on the topic of “New Zealand’s Asia Opportunity Hiding in Full Sight---The Philippines.”

Mr Domingo, who also represents his country in Oceania, noted the Philippines transition in historical terms in relatively recent times from a Spanish colony to moving under the United States aegis, and then more recently still to independence under the Washington governmental system.

This had made the Philippines far more multicultural, and diverse than was widely perceived, he said.

For example it was not generally understood that the Philippines lay on the northern fringe of the Polynesian migration and settlement.

“We even look like you!” He ventured, reinforcing his people-like-us theme.

The sharing of a number of Polynesian-Maori words was testament to all this he noted.

Mr Domingo touched upon but did not specify the trade and investment links which include for example Philippine ownership of New Zealand food processors Griffins, and also Goodman Fielder.

Neither did he dwell on the New Zealand trade balance with the Philippines which runs at five times in New Zealand’s favour.

Mr Domingo veered diplomatically away from the submerged issue of why in the current free trade frenzy the Philippines featured so rarely, if at all.

He did stress though the Philippines pre-eminence in the export of its people reprising the concept of an empire on which the “sun never set” because Philippine nationals were everywhere; 50,000 in New Zealand.

Noting that a common language, English, and a common religion, Christianity, were powerful elements in enabling Philippine nationals to become productive members of Commonwealth economies, he also stressed his peoples' pre-eminence in caring in roles such as “nannies, and nurses,” as he described them.

Mr Domingo, noting the presence at this same National Press Club event of Singapore High Commissioner Bernard Baker, singled out the island state as a particularly outstanding example of a Commonwealth member in which flourished Philippine nationals in this caring, nurturing sector,

Mr Domingo defined also a willing quality in the Philippine workforce which he described as being one of “meekness” which enabled nationals to take up such a large part of the arduous New Zealand milking shed capability.

Mr Domingo, who prefers to be known as Gary, served as Philippine Consul in Saudi Arabia, and was a member of the Philippine delegations to the United Nations in Geneva and also New York.


Greg Besa JP Philippine community leader, H.E Jesus Domingo, National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne, National Press Club president Peter Isaac, High Commissioner for Singapore H.E Bernard Baker.

Stalwarts -National Press Club’s Richard Long and Joyce Gibson

Puzzlement -National Press Club event director Rex Kropotkin Benson

Asia traders- Andrew and Melody Criglington

Clubbers- Adrienne and Ian Stewart

 Philippines is Multi Cultural, Diverse, Polynesian, Points Out Ambassador Gary Domingo



New Zealand should sustain a suitably detached policy position over present NATO-Russia--- “ We do not have a dog in the fight...”

Five questions for ex United Nations Security Council President Terence O’Brien.

MSCNewswire/National Press Club/EIN service/ Monday 27 March 2017||Few practitioners from any nation have enjoyed quite such an extended career at the heart of the global firmament as British-born diplomat Terence O’Brien (above). He was president of the Security Council of United Nations during the Balkans conflict. He was one of the principal access negotiators on behalf of New Zealand when Britain originally entered the European Common Market. He has occupied posts in London, Brussels, Bangkok and Geneva. He was the founding director of the Institute of Strategic Studies. 

You have been an outspoken opponent of mixing trade with foreign affairs?

This is not strictly accurate. I take issue rather with the jargon that “all New Zealand foreign policy is trade” which is a holdover from earlier times and reflected today in a sense promoted by some New Zealand leaders, that NZ’s success and place in the world is to be judged primarily by the number of Free Trade Agreements that it is able to secure.

NZ’s modern experience especially in respect to emergent Asia proves emphatically that successful trade arrangements depend firstly and vitally upon sound political and diplomatic relationships (China is a prime but by no means solitary example). NZ’s accomplishments in Asia and indeed elsewhere rely in other words, upon earned trust with other governments. Fostering that trust is a political/diplomatic responsibility.

Predictable trade relationships require a great deal more than nimble private sector commercial skills- although those are indispensable of course to overall success and the New Zealand private sector plus NZ primary producer groups have been notably effective in this regard.

To what extent do you view the recent NZ sponsorship of the UN Israel censure as a development of this blend?

There may have been in the minds of some on the NZ side, the thought that sponsorship might earn credits in some Gulf States where NZ seeks to formalise free trade arrangements; but around the UNSC table there is genuine concern about the danger for the future of ‘two state solution’ to the Israel/Palestine conflict ,that has been the long established diplomatic basis for eventual peace. The present Israeli government appears openly to resile from this formula as it continues resolutely to expand Jewish settlements on the West Bank, a practice deplored by the UN Security Council. From the moment it gained a place on the 2015-16 UNSC NZ committed itself to contributing to the search for progress on this key issue. Co-sponsorship of the eventual UNSC resolution which calls as well for Palestinians to desist from provocation and terrorism, was the logical consequence.

Looking back on your days as a dairy sector negotiator during Britain’s entry into the Common Market, how do you view Brexit now in terms of NZ diplomacy and trade?

From the perspective of a small, distant but companionable partner of Europe, Brexit appears to be a mistake. It comes too at a time when conservative populism is on the rise within Europe with the emergence of right wing nationalist political groups in several countries. Twentieth century experiences of European mistakes and miscalculations and their devastating global consequences, not once but twice, are not to be overlooked.

British entry into Europe was a taxing experience for NZ. The deals struck for safeguarding NZ trade interests represented a stay of execution rather than reprieve for this country . Within relatively short periods of negotiated transition the New Zealand farm economy was obliged to diversify production and markets. That process drove foreign policy extending NZ political and diplomatic interests to a wide range of new partners (in the Middle East, Communist Europe, Latin America and, most notably Asia) . It consolidated NZ as a genuine world trader with global interests. Global interests are inextricably bound up with global responsibilities even for small countries, and require contributions to global wellbeing and stability.

The process deepened NZ support for international rules based behaviour particularly in trade but also in directly related areas such as peace and security, freedom for transport and navigation, responsible behaviour in global environmental and resource protection and so forth. Because of the very nature of its own being the European Union (EU) has been a notable champion of an international rules based system. But the fact of BREXIT places a question mark over how influential a collective European voice will now be in the future. At a time when American commitment to global rules is questionable under a new inexperienced President Trump, the need for sustained collective European support for the system has never been greater. The foreseeable future suggests that New Zealand will crucially need the courage of its convictions.

How do you feel about the Helen Clark bid to be the UN Secretary General especially in regard to her role as an officer of the UN at the time?

The selection process for a new UN Secretary General in 2016 sought to break new ground - which is always difficult in the UN. Formal candidatures backed by governments and involving public job interviews were decreed for the first time in 70 years. Hitherto candidatures had been exclusively personal affairs and selection decided behind tightly held UN Security Council doors where the votes of the five permanent Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) were decisive. This time a new approach was defined in the interests of greater transparency and democracy in the selection process. It is stretching things somewhat to suggest those goals were achieved.

There was a general sentiment beforehand that the new appointee should be from Eastern Europe (which has never supplied a UN Secretary General ) and also be female (which would be a first). In the event neither aspiration prevailed and the choice, of a Portuguese male, was once again taken behind closed doors at the UNSC.

Helen Clark was a creditable candidate and the NZ government campaigned for her, but her success depended first and foremost upon her own efforts. She came as a candidate from within the ranks of the UN itself, but this is not without precedent (Kofi Annan one the most effective SGs, was a UN Secretariat employee). As head of the UN’s largest aid institution she was well known across a very wide number of UN member countries ( especially developing countries).The reasons for her lack of success will probably never be known in full. Her relatively poor showing in the straw polling of UN member countries before the final appointment, was an undeniable disappointment. The most that can be said is that she was a serious contender; and NZ can take some consolation from that.

What are your views on Russia and NZ’s participation in the US-EU trade embargo?

With Russia and NATO we are reaping what was sown. At the end of the Cold War there was an opportunity for the Americans and Europeans to consolidate a cooperative inclusive (of Russia) security system for a post CW Europe. The Soviet led Warsaw Pact subsided into oblivion which is what military alliances historically do when conflicts end, and/or the reason for their existence disappears. NATO in direct contrast did not. It was enlarged with new members, new bases installed and its boundaries extended into Russia’s borderlands - which for the US anyway potentially included Ukraine. But who was the adversary? An enfeebled Russia could do nothing but (as George Kennan amongst others warned) one could not rule out economic recovery by Russia and new leadership that objected to NATO expansion (which included into the affairs of the Middle East) and would push back. Enter Mr Putin, and so it has come to pass. His preemptive seizure of Crimea (where the Russian fleet has had a base for two centuries or so) is contrary to the international rule of law - but hardly surprising in the wake of western foolhardiness.

NZ should sustain a suitably detached policy position over present NATO-Russia. We do not have a dog in the fight. Russia does not threaten the US although Putin clearly intends that Russia be assertive and taken seriously internationally. Russian interference in the US electoral process may or may not have occurred. If it is proven Russians would presumably point to equivalent American policies in the name of “spreading democracy” in Russia ,its satellites, and including Ukraine. They are, on both sides, ‘pots calling kettles black’

Don Brash to take Hobson's Pledge into General Election---says Ordinary People Fear Speaking Out on accelerating Separatism

MSC Newswire - National Press Club service - Napier, Friday 3 March 2017  |  Nobody today in so many different roles and for quite so long has stood at the centre of public life so enduringly as Don Brash. Economist, businessman, banker, politician, the former Governor of the Reserve Bank and leader of the National Party has defied typecasting. At one and the same time severe yet extravagant, austere yet colourful, scholarly yet populist, he has contrived always to reconfigure himself around the times. Now he has stridently intervened in institutionally-fuelled separatism. Shrouded in a protective veneer of high-minded fashionable purpose that makes ordinary people fearful to question it, Dr Brash vehemently, unequivocally declares the voguish syndrome as ultimately destined to tear the nation apart......

You are often considered to be at heart primarily concerned with matters economic and their corresponding data. Yet here you are now immersing yourself in what many might consider a socio-ethical issue?

Yes, most of my career has been about monetary policy, banking, and economic issues more generally. But my interest in economics has always been because of my interest in the well-being of society more generally. I have long felt, for example, that it will be difficult or impossible to maintain a broadly egalitarian society in New Zealand – the kind of society in which I was brought up – if average living standards fall too far below those in Australia because of the ease with which skilled New Zealanders can cross the Tasman for very much higher incomes in Sydney or Melbourne.

If we want the kind of healthcare which those in advanced developed countries take for granted, we have to have the living standards to support that healthcare. A few years ago, there was a big debate about whether Pharmac should subsidize the provision of Herceptin for the treatment of certain kinds of breast cancer, and it was noted that Australia did so. The fact of the matter was that at that time virtually all the countries which subsidized access to Herceptin had higher living standards than New Zealand did; those which did not provide a subsidy, had lower living standards – we were right on the cusp. For me, interest in economics has always been about the implications of economic policy for the well-being of society.

Hence, I was strongly opposed to inflation in part at least because of the totally capricious effects which inflation has on wealth distribution – those who save in fixed interest instruments being thoroughly gutted by inflation, while those who borrow heavily to invest in, say, property, make huge and totally untaxed gains with little or no effort. That has always seemed to me to be grossly unjust.

Will the Hobson’s Pledge Movement become a force in the pending general election?
I certainly hope so. I find it very depressing that the National Party has moved such a long way from its roots in this policy area. In 2002, Bill English gave a lengthy and very thoughtful speech, demonstrating clearly that Maori chiefs had ceded sovereignty in signing the Treaty and arguing that the only way for a peaceful future for New Zealand was a “single standard of citizenship for all”.

In May 2003, he pledged that a future National Government would scrap separate Maori electorates, as the Royal Commission on the Electoral System had recommended in the late eighties if MMP were adopted. I made similar commitments when I was Leader of the National Party, as did John Key in the election campaign of 2008. And yet we’ve seen the National-led Government retreat a very long way from that position.

I applaud the fact that the current Government has accelerated the resolution of historical grievances, but utterly deplore the fact that too often resolution has involved not just financial redress but also “co-governance”.

We see the proposed amendment to the RMA requiring all local councils to invite their local tribes into so-called “iwi participation agreements”, involving co-governance on a grand scale. We saw the legislation establishing the Auckland super-city requiring an Independent Maori Statutory Board, with the Auckland Council giving members of that unelected Board voting rights on most Auckland Council committees.

We see the Government negotiating behind closed doors with the so-called Iwi Leaders Group to give tribes some form of special influence over the allocation of water, despite pretending to believe that “nobody owns water”. We see a proposal to make half the members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum tribal appointees.

The myth that the Treaty of Waitangi created some kind of “partnership” between Maori on the one hand (or more accurately, those who can claim at least one Maori ancestor, always now along with ancestors of other ethnicities) and the rest of us on the other is increasingly accepted as Holy Writ, subscribing to which is becoming essential for many positions in the public sector.

So I’m very much hoping that Hobson’s Pledge can help to substantially reverse this highly undemocratic drift after the next election.

You say that the National government is “pandering” to “separatist demands.” Which of these demands do you consider the most dangerous?

Where do I start? I’ve just listed some of the specific policies which are totally inconsistent with any reasonable definition of democracy. Most of those specific policies stem from the underlying myth that the Treaty established some kind of “partnership” between those with a Maori ancestor and those of us without, as I’ve just mentioned. But as David Lange said in the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in 2000, “the Court of Appeal once, absurdly, described [the Treaty] as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The Treaty itself contains no principles which can usefully guide government or courts.... To go further than that is to acknowledge the existence of undemocratic forms of rights, entitlements, or sovereignty.”

All the specific examples I gave in answer to the previous question stem from the underlying nonsense that there are two (and only two!) distinct groups of New Zealanders, those with preferential constitutional rights and those without them. This is leading New Zealand to disaster with a whole generation of part-Maori believing that they really do have superior constitutional rights to the rest of us.

To what degree would you ascribe this separatist development agitation as being primarily a project of the political class from whatever background?

Certainly, I think what you call the “political class” is the main driver of this separatist agitation, together with arguably most of the educational establishment, where adherence to so-called “Treaty principles” seems to be an absolute prerequisite for appointment to any teaching or leadership position.

The same is true in the public healthcare sector. But there is plenty of evidence that large numbers of the “general public” do not support the separatist agenda but are literally cowed into silence on the issue.

I regularly get people sidle up to me in the street and, after looking furtively up and down the street lest they are recognized by friends or acquaintances, tell me that they strongly agree with me. One university professor did this recently, but swore me not to mention his name or university department. And some of these people are Maori.

Of course, Hobson’s Pledge has two official spokespeople, one of whom is me and the other is Casey Costello, a woman of Ngapuhi and Anglo-Irish ancestry. But two of our very strongest supporters (though not members of our council) are Maori – one a prominent member of the Ngapuhi tribe and the other Ngati Porou.

The latter was a member of our council when we first established Hobson’s Pledge but, because he is closely associated with a political party, withdrew lest his membership of Hobson’s Pledge raise a question about whether we are a front for the political party he is closely associated with.

He resents the separatist agenda because he believes strongly that it is patronizing, implying that Maori aren’t quite good enough to make it successfully without these constitutional preferences.

Bearing in mind your underpinning career in banking, economics and looking now at the broader picture: where is the country now in your view in terms of nuts and bolts things such as balance of payments and foreign debt?

Compared with some other countries, we are in a good spot, with the economy growing, unemployment fairly low and government debt modest relative to GDP. Our banking sector is in reasonable shape. Even the extent of the country’s (public and private sector) total net external indebtedness is somewhat better than it was a decade ago, though still high by developed country standards.

But there are significant problems just below the surface of that apparently rosy picture. Yes, the economy is growing, but that is largely because the number of people in the workforce is growing strongly because of a high level of net immigration: productivity, and thus per capita income, is growing very slowly indeed, and the Government’s initial objective of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025 is not only not going to be achieved, the gap hasn’t reduced materially over the last eight years.

The ratio of government debt to GDP is modest by the standards of many other developed countries, but the Key Government did absolutely nothing to prepare the population for the need to adjust, for example, the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation if government debt is not to explode, relative to GDP, over the next few decades. (Mr English, to his credit, has refused to renew Mr Key’s pledge on this issue.)

And while the country’s net external indebtedness, relative to GDP, has improved somewhat in recent years, that external indebtedness remains at a high level, the consequence of New Zealand’s running a current account balance of payments deficit every year since 1974. Much of that deficit has been funded by banks borrowing on the international markets to fund the explosion of private sector housing debt, the result in turn of another serious policy failing, the failure to deal with the enormous increase in the price of housing (or more accurately, of residential land).

“Trying to predict President Trump through traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media, is like using ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes”---Scot Faulkner

The newly installed Trump Administration continues to catch New Zealand officialdom by surprise. So National Press Club president Peter Isaac asked Washington insider Scot Faulkner (above) what Wellington’s response should in fact be? Mr Faulkner was elected the first Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. His reforms became a model for the operation of national parliaments around the world.

The New Zealand Foreign Ministry has set up a special focus group solely for the purpose of identifying early warning of new policies promulgated by President Trump, the ones which will have an impact on this country. Can you short circuit this by helpfully forecasting any of these pending surprise policies?

The New Zealand Foreign Ministry’s Trump Task Force will only be of value if it discards long held assumptions and embrace a totally new way of thinking and acting. Trying to predict Trump through traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media, is like using ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes.

The Ministry’s primary objective should be to move at “Trump speed” and navigate in Trump’s world. Non traditional sources, non traditional methods will be keys to success. Thinking like a visionary risk-taking entrepreneur instead of a politician is the first step into this new reality.

Trump is unique. No one like him has ever been the President of the United States. While a few Presidents had business experience, their main credentials were either the military or government. America usually faced political or military crises. The 2007-2008 economic collapse convinced most Americans that something radical was necessary. So they rallied around a businessman who was known to most as a reality television star. As Trump stated, “everyone else has failed you – what do you have to lose? Try me.”

Trump’s unique background means unique thought patterns and processes. President Trump gets his ideas, news, and validation from places never before involved in governing. He is fearless, non linear. He embraces chaos, acts on intuition, moves quickly, and uses surprise as a strategic weapon. Sometimes only he knows the ultimate objective. He is a student of military history, especially Sun Tzu. That is what gave him the winning edge in business, the Republican primaries, and the 2016 general election.

Trump’s new Administration is already being tested by China, Russia, and a variety of other nations. President Trump’s responses will indicate many things: how fast he responds, how he responds, how he views the challenge and the challenger, how he frames the challenge within his existing world view, how willing is he to vary from stated positions to address a unique situation, how willing is he to escalate, whose advice does he value, who he collaborates with, and who, how, and what does he communicate regarding the challenge to Congress, the American public, and other nations.

New Zealand needs to understand that the next four to eight years has a very different global player. Trump’s approach will be very personal, intimate, intuitive, immediate, chaotic, and against all conventional wisdom, very successful.

All the indications are that the New Zealand diplomatic apparatus in New York and Washington was wrong footed by the Trump ascendancy. This led to falling in line with the Obama era last moment positioning of New Zealand as co-endorser of the UN anti-Israel resolution. Does New Zealand need to backtrack here?

New Zealand should always be wary of being pulled into American politics. Obama’s last minute swipe at Israel during his waning days as President should have been avoided at all costs. Obama’s behind the scenes orchestration of the resolution, which was being delayed until the new Administration, was ill-advised and dilatory. It undermined decades of America being a positive force in the region.

President Trump is a great friend of Israel. He and his team believe that, historically, enemies of America have funded the radical elements of the Palestinian cause.

Trump is committed, heart & soul, to destroying radical Islam and reining-in Iran. His priority is working with those nations that share his view. He sees Israel, and the moderate Arab governments, like Egypt and Jordan, as allies in eradicating ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their regional and tribal affiliates throughout the Arab world, Asia, and Africa.

Trump and his foreign policy team fundamentally differ from the Neo-conservatives who surrounded President George W. Bush. They adhere more to the Reagan-Thatcher/John-Paul II approach of destroying tyranny, but not trying to second guess centuries of local custom through nation building. America’s role is to inspire, not intervene, in a nation’s journey toward a freer society.

Israeli settlements are far more complex than the media portrays. Palestinian contractors and workers build Israeli settlements. West Bank unemployment soars whenever Israel slows or suspends new settlements. The chasm between peaceful, free, and democratic Israel and violent, oppressive, Islamic failed states in the region is stark. Land for Peace has been a chimera for Israel. De-radicalizing Palestinian leaders and their movement would go further in creating lasting peace than continuing to place the onus on Israel.

The Anti-Israel Resolution validated Trump’s view that the United Nations is currently there to promote radical anti-Western policies while wasting vast sums of money. It further proves his wisdom of pursuing America’s interests through bilateral, not multilateral, arrangements.

New Zealand has supported in spirit the US-EU trade embargo against Russia called up by President Obama. Is there a defined timetable to conclude this embargo?

There is no defined timetable for ending or modifying the trade embargo against Russia.

President Trump and his inner circle have a non-ideological practical “America first” world view. It harkens back to the 17th/18th Centuries. During that era, Western nations united to stop the expansion of the Ottoman Empire then competed, sometimes violently, to dominate world trade.

President Trump wants to build relationships with Russia and China for ridding the world of rogue players – radical Islam, Iran, and North Korea. This is why he picked Rex Tillerson, who has strong relationships with Russia as his Secretary of State, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is friends with President Xi Jinping, as Ambassador to China. This is also why Trump picked a skilled fighter, James Mattis, as his Secretary of Defense.

Trump’s trade and business team is equally ready to help America win in world commerce. Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuckin, and Robert Lighthizer will aggressively negotiate favorable trade agreements and rebuild U.S. competitiveness.

Russia remains problematic as its adventurism in Ukraine and intimidation of the Baltic States complicates Trump’s desire to be “frenemies”. Tillerson will be challenged to craft the right mix of incentives and punishments to refocus Russo-American relations. The current US-EU trade embargo will be assessed within this context.

The Transpacific Partnership Agreement signed in Auckland last year was No 1 on President Trump’s hit list. Looking at the longer term where do you see the advantages/disadvantages in this?

President Trump is all about building one-on-one personal relationships with world leaders. Bi-lateral relationships were his strong suit in business and will serve him well as President. They allow him more flexibility and agility. He has little interest in multi-lateral agreements or entities.

This is why TPP was in his cross hairs as a candidate and now as President. New Zealand and other TPP nations need to offer their best “value proposition” for trade relationships that will benefit the U.S. as much as themselves. These are the kinds of agreements that will get Trump’s attention and become his priority.

Trump prides himself on the foreign investments in America he has facilitated or promoted. He wants American companies to “come home” to America, and foreign companies to settle in America. Trump’s goal is to bring the best of the world to America to rebuild infrastructure and generate lasting employment opportunities. There is a new world of opportunity for New Zealand investment and partnering in America.

Given the available evidence it is hard not to conclude that officials here have only a threadbare understanding of what is going on in the relevant circles of United States policymaking. Where should they be looking? Who should they be talking to now?

Trump’s tweets remain the best original source. Trump won the nomination and the general election by going directly to the public. Over 50 million Americans follow Trump on Twitter and Facebook. The Washington-New York media have become completely irrelevant to the Trump Administration and to Trump’s America.

President Trump has revolutionized the way policy is created, promoted, and implemented. The establishments within the Federal Government, Congress, media, academia, and policy forums, still do not have a clue about what is happening before their eyes.

America’s post-Cold War drift through four failed Presidents has come to an end.

Reagan won the Cold War by using skills he developed in movies and television to command the world stage. Those skills destroyed the Soviet Empire, relaunched the U.S. economy, and redefined the role of government. Trump is using his business and reality television skills to command the world stage for himself and the United States. Like Reagan, Trump is seeking to defeat tyranny, in this case radical Islam, relaunch the U.S. economy, and not just redefine, but completely reinvent government. The establishment dismissed Reagan until he succeeded. The establishment is dismissing Trump, and will be just as embarrassed should he succeed.

Conservative talk radio speaks for Trump and puts his actions and tweets into context. They aggressively expose the liberal media and the Democrats when they promote fake news and conspiracies about Trump. Trump watches Fox news, listens & calls into conservative talk radio, and avidly follows their social media posts. Each validates the other. The most articulate and insightful conservative commentators are Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, and Chris Plante. Washington-based WMAL radio hosts all three.


Morgan's Runabout
On Display at
 Annual Journo
March Past

Energetic agricultural specialist Jon Morgan decided to acquire a new car in order to commemorate his 50 years in journalism. The hands-on reporter opted for both substance and style. He acquired the very last of the British premium luxury cars in service in the New Zealand corporate and official sphere--- the Rover that was once also  the standard limousine for diplomats and cabinet members.

The vehicle with its smooth leather and wood upholstery is barely run-in.  The acquisition went on display at the 22nd annual review of long serving Wellington region journalists which is always held in January on the Morgan estate near Otaki.


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