The Scream for Answers

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Barely a week after enduring the graphic, politically suspect romp and circumstance of ‘blackmail, corruption and the dirtiest political scandal this country has ever seen’, we have been deeper plunged into a fetid, profoundly disturbing moral pit. For two years, a gang of teenage sexual predators calling themselves “Roast Busters” bragged about their under-aged conquests on Facebook, “strutting their stuff and shaming their victims.” And, to date, they have got away with it. The situation, ‘grotesque’ and ‘horrific’, raises many questions which, as the NZ Herald’s  Toby Manhire forcefully argues, ‘scream for answers’.

Manhire captures the mood of the nation: the behaviour  is ‘appalling, stomach churning, almost certainly criminal.  And so the most immediately alarming question is this: if it prompted anything like the same reaction two years ago, why didn’t those who knew about it then make it stop?’. So why didn’t they? Police reassurances were swift, glib but, most disconcertedly, factually inaccurate :  the problem was a lack of complaint. “None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take it to a prosecution stage or even consider a prosecution stage.” That would be a satisfactory response. If it was true. But it wasn’t. “Four of them had come forward in 2011 and 2012. Four of them. Three were 13, one 15. One had made a full and formal complaint.’ Manhire is left with the ‘the clear impression, not of a police force with tied hands, but sitting on them. Or worse. The manner by which all of this has emerged leaves the stench of a cover-up.”

So we are left with many questions:  about the perpetrators, their parents, about the integrity of the Police, about how we place and process rape and its prosecution in this country, about the role of the internet, pornography, alcohol, about the media and its obligations and restraints in this most sensitive area of the criminal system and, at the top of any list,  if the victims of such crimes have been treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

Confidence in the Police is plummeting.: “A couple of days ago, it might have been possible to accept police assurances that the investigation was unaffected by the fact that the son of a police officer was linked to the predatory gang. Today, it seems naive to take that at face value.” Both the Minister and the Commissioner have expressed their ‘disappointment’ but at this late stage of the game, their ‘disappointment’ doesn’t quite cut it. I get disappointed every week I don’t win Lotto. The question that screams to be answered is this: “is the West Auckland horror show an isolated case or part of something wider, systemic, even institutional?” Mrs Tolley and her Commissioner seem ill-equipped, even unwilling to address this elephant in the room. That amidst this firestorm, the Police should take time out to threaten the editor of a Daily Blog for his satiric parody of their hopeless inaction is another scandal for another day’s discussion.

It’s impossible to disagree with Manhire when he concludes that a commission of inquiry is warranted. “Without it, confidence in the police can only erode further, and those who have been sexually abused will increasingly conclude that going to the police is a bad idea.”

As if these upsetting revelations were not enough, other extraordinary, even incredible events came to light this week, raising more questions that scream for answers.

Those searching for a metaphor for the state of the nation, look no further: it sailed into Wellington Harbour  last week minus a propeller. On a routine passenger service from Picton, the Interislander Ferry Aratere  sheared  the steel shaft which connects the engine to the starboard propeller, sending it to the bottom of the Tory Channel. “This is a very unusual event, so there’s no assumed understanding of what could have caused it,” said KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn in a confidence-draining statement.

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Given the notoriously treacherous waters of the Cook Strait, one would hope that the Government would ensure that the ships that most regularly make the crossing, bearing precious cargo, would be sea-worthy. But no. Nautical historians could probably count on the fingers of one hand the instances of a ship of this size, on a routine passenger voyage, suddenly and near catastrophically losing a propeller and its shaft.

“The ferry has two propellers, so it was still able to cross the strait safely” spinned Mr Quinn. “It was safe. It safely sailed back, and it was all within its design capabilities even with an extreme event such as this”. Those with a passing familiarity of New Zealand disasters will appreciate that the Ferry’s ‘safe return within its design capabilities’ was more a matter of extreme good luck. Had the incident occurred during a storm, we could have been dealing with the aftermath of another Wahine.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee wants answers:  “what occurred to cause the prop to fall off the boat?” Well Mr Brownlee, this too is a question that screams for answers: near-catastrophes like this don’t just happen. Propellers just don’t fall off boats.

Instructively, the Aratere has experienced a series of problems over the years. “There have been three engine failures, in 1999, 2000 and 2011, a steering fault in 2004, and the ship was ordered to stop operating twice after safety issues were found – once in 2005 then again in 2011.”  Winston Peters believes a 30-metre extension to the middle of the ship two years ago is to blame: “It porpoises through the water, it’s not rigid, it flexes. Now if you want to see equipment go wrong like shafts and propellers, have that going on in your boat.” Peters has called for KiwiRail to “front up to a public inquiry into the shambles surrounding the ship: experienced KiwiRail staff had warned management not to lengthen the ship during its upgrade because of the problems it would cause, but it was sent to Singapore regardless” he said. “It would be interesting for KiwiRail to disclose just who went to Singapore, and check their level of expertise in extending ships.” Kiwirail says that is “just rumour, unfounded based on any facts”. Perhaps. But the unassailable fact remains that somewhere at the bottom of the Tory Channel lies a propeller that just fell off a ship. Why? How? I scream for answers.

Ironically, Aratere means ‘quick path’. Political commentators might observe that National’s asset-selling, Convention Centre-building, deep sea oil-drilling policies are all examples of quick path choices: long-term sustainability being sacrificed to short-term gain.

Addressing two major issues now confronting the Government, Bryan Gaynor elaborates on the nautical theme: “Two events this week, the Mighty River Power annual meeting and the Commerce Commission’s decision on Chorus, clearly illustrate that serious questions need to be asked about the Crown’s transparency and decision-making processes. The Government has several similarities to a luxury cruise liner that has no captain. The Crown has the equivalent of a navigator, a chief engineer, a purser and a passenger services manager but no one on deck to make sure the vessel is sailing a consistent course.”

Gaynor’s analysis is damning and he asks many questions, all of which scream for answers: “It appears the Treasury, which is more like a chief purser than a captain, made most of the important MRP decisions, particularly the IPO price. But it is not usually a big-picture entity, it is in charge of the Crown’s purse strings with a perceived mandate to maximise the sale price. It appears that the Treasury allocated 347 million Meridian Energy shares to overseas institutions but gave only 160 million to New Zealand institutions, including KiwiSaver funds. If this is correct, why was there such a strong bias towards overseas investors? What were the criteria for giving SkyCity additional gambling facilities if it builds a convention centre in Auckland? Why are the owners of the Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter receiving a special payment? Why were investors in South Canterbury Finance bailed out when investors in other finance companies suffered substantial losses?” I scream for answers.

The more Gaynor continues, the more at sea the Government seems: “Chorus is looking more like a sister ship, with the Commerce Commission, Communications Minister Amy Adams and Prime Minister John Key’s ultra-fast broadband programme wrestling for control of the steering wheel. The problem is that the Chorus debacle could overflow to Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy’s share prices as overseas investors begin to realise that there are huge regulatory and inconsistent government policy decision risks associated with New Zealand. Investors are now realising that there are huge risks associated with the current Administration because it doesn’t appear to have anyone at the helm steering a straight and consistent course as far as major business decisions are concerned.”

So, after five years of this Government and its promises of a brighter future, the crux of the matter: the question that truly screams for an answer is this: where is the captain? Who is at the helm? According to the PM, “I do a lot of going around the country opening things and cutting ribbons and being the kind of face of the party that’s interacting with the public. And Bill is doing a lot of the long term thinking, heavy-lifting and policy design, all the things that involve ministers … I’m kind of the retail face.” Enough said.

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. New Zealand is a divided country, the divisive policies of both governments have destroyed our economy, the family unit and each other. We are also divided within ourselves and in a world without a moral compass, trickle down theory means that morality within every individual is weakening.
    The government solution to the moral decline are more laws which further contribute to social dysfunction and yet government facilitates in rape on a social and economic level. Having been raised in the nanny state where both parents are forced to work, the kids emulate nanny instead of their parents.
    If we want to stop sex crimes, the state must set the moral example instead of being the countries leading bigot.

    The ferry problem comes from privatisation and the various owners who milked the rail network and sold it back at an extortive price to our spineless govt when they should have nationalised it.

      • Greece had a policy of nationalisation? News to me. I thought it had an ‘open market’ policy with the EU – a lot of good it did it.

  2. Excellent Post Simon Prast .

    I love metaphors ! I mix ’em up just to see what happens .

    New Zealand is drowning in a soulless , artless , heartless , loveless , faux puritanical , amoral morass of hypocrisy , lies and greed .
    The sinkers tied to the rope that’s dragging us down and away from our humanness , our empathy is the dreaded neoliberalism that we all know and loath .
    Quentin Crisp once said ; ” Don’t try to keep up with the Jonses . Instead drag them down to your level . ”
    The Media tied the sinkers onto the rope that’s dragging us down to it’s level .
    We are becoming that which we hate the most .
    And it’s worth noting that , that methodology applies to the Police . The cops are duty bound to uphold the laws of the Status Quo . And not the band .
    If the cops are seeming to be becoming lawless , crooked , liars with dark , antisocial predilections then that is a reflection of the Status Quo . And no , still not the band .
    Jonky is the self described ‘ retail face ‘ is he ? What ? Like The Warehouse of politics ? Made in China ?
    Nothing good will come from that hook nosed conman other than confusion and fear and it was from the neoliberal furnace of fear and hopelessness that forged those two wee beasties and their Roast Busting adventures into the worlds of female children with their vulnerabilities and innocence . And once in there . Amongst drunk , young , female children , they took what they could then proudly displayed their trophies as if they expected reward and recognition .
    And who could blame them ?
    That is the foundations of a neoliberal , market driven , competition based economy / society . That is just business . You get what you can get . It’s survival of the fittest . It’s the bell curve . It’s a nightmare . If you see a man , or woman lying on the road side , fuck ’em ! Go through their pockets . Fuck ’em .

    That’s the roger douglas NZ of today . roger has run as down , Jonky has spotted the bodies by the road side and the Roast Busters are at home with our kids .

    If you really , really want to unpick The Great New Zealand Institutionalized Lie , forget all that you know about Nu Zild politics and go back to the beginning . Just like the police are doing with Madeleine McCann . I know , it’s a wildly different set of circumstances but the process is the same .
    If it doesn’t make sense , you’ve missed something so go back and start again .

    New Zealand doesn’t make sense . So what went wrong ? What really went wrong with us ?
    And to all you wheedling hand wringers braying for vengeance ? Fuck off . Just fuck off . Your fake caring , while satanically praying for yet more blood to be spilled is sickening and in fact you’re part of the problem , not part of the solution .

  3. New Zealand is run by stupid white men like watching the old guys in the box seat in the theatre on the muppet show. Nobody is listening to reason because the top of the ladder leaders are muppets, anyone beneath them in the order of bullshit cannot know more than them so they wont listen, it is a dictatorship of stupid. So New Zealand is being run by a spoilt self important brats with no clue. These fat ego maniacs don’t appreciate anything other than money, porn, oil, fresh water for milk…. People are becoming robots who have to obey the master, it is revolting to see beautiful creative New Zealanders being demoralised into clones for a stink job with low slave pay. Watch the life drain from people’s eyes while they cling onto the edge as the bills from the corporates pile up. What will happen when New Zealand’s last straw breaks this place and its people’s back.Does anyone care.. Not these straw men. People need to be respected and involved, fat cats are making decisions that don’t involve the people that is why we have stupid problems and hand wringing over issues that common sense would see coming.

  4. The Aratere debacle is a brilliant metaphor for a number of things.

    The “hands off” free-market-based-unregulated-faith&ideology-based religion that is neo-liberalism is now biting its adherents in the bum, and they’re squealing like stuffed pigs.
    (They probably haven’t noticed the biting is a global phenomenon too – or at least least – because of their arrogance – they think it’s possible to suppress/oppress its casualties WITHOUT any consequence)
    BUT ….
    Be it the Polis – with their ‘discretionary powers’ awarded them because of a smug satisfaction that we’ve apparently ranked well on comparative global measurements, but which are/have been interpreted by Peter Principled seniors to act on a kulcha of decent ‘blokism’.
    In New Zealand’s case, Peter Marshall and Greg O’Connor really would
    be better advised to just Shut TF up. They both do the decent, well-
    intentioned, diligent, compassionate members that frequent the gang –
    a REAL disservice.

    Be it the GFC – and all its events and consequences (check out a recent “BANKERS” doco on BBC World NEWS over the w’end for any number of examples – SHAMEFULLY an unregulated/deregulated environment in which an arse-licking, sociopathic, malignant narcissist Proim Munsta cut his teeth [of course whilst bringing up some rilly rilly delightful dortis who’ll soon claim to be misunderstood])

    Be it CHhhorisss…operating on a Mates=awarded con-trek with subbies con-trekking to subbies, and where the lowliest in the chain – usually the honest struggler ends up taking the fall.

    Be it sthn X Foinense

    Be it Kroisecherch Rekuvry and the protection of the established insurance industry (whilst not necessarily doing anything fraudulent, [tho’ HOPEFULLY the jury is out – but I doubt it]), it’s certainly very cronyised (By the way …. DO OI HEV a SLUECHSHUN for THET LITL SKEM)

    Be it the Department of Conservation

    Be it a bugger’s Ministry Muddle equipped with a now buzzy name (MoBIE) – a Dick whose late in life circumcisions – if EVER there’s going to be any sort of reflection on its creation [and more importantly – its creatORS], came to the realisation that its foreskin (one Steven Joyce) couldn’t deliver the pleasure He promised.

    The examples overwhelm me at the mo’, although I could go on – EACH and EVERY Munstry, Quango, publicly funded little outpost; their (usually underfunded) agencies of OVERSIGHT; those that are intended to measure them; their incredibly diligent public servants who operate in the NZ neo-lib kulcha of departmental corporatisation with cost-accounting/kpi-driven/cost-centred/ AMEX-claiming-airpoint/code-of-conduct-denying snrs&muddled MENagement – they operate IN SPITE of instruction – rather than BECAUSE of them.
    Peter, the Principle could have used the NZ corporatised Public Service us as his justification.
    (Ain’t the prospect of retrospecive legislation – used already by the neo-libs a great idea when a ‘sauce for the goose is source for the gander’ criteria is applied.
    How sad tho’ – not just for the victims of the most disgusting of its consequences, but for the now thousands of casulaties this populist, smile & wave, “I’m comfortable”, disproven crok of shit ideology [or religion].
    It’s SO insideous, that various ‘minorities’ who sometimes, tho’ not often benefit (e.g. pink dollarists, a few brown fellas, those “ladder” puller-uppers, one or two in the Finlayson demograhic – best described (by their own demographic as “BITTER OLD QUEENS”); are now able to use the ‘exceptions that prove the rule’

    Coooooore!
    Hot Pants Brutha – Cooooooooor! MOVE OVER
    WHOARRRRRR!

    This RoastBusters situation is probably the most immediate – if only because of its currency.
    Christchurch – 3 years on – really is though the CHA…ORRRS…IST example of the faith-based-religion, aka the Neo-lib ideology that still haunts us all.

    In Christchurch’s case, its best symbol in a waddling Gerry.

    THe good thing about it all though, is that it’s all actually completely self-defeating. Most of us are just getting pissed off having to wait

    CHRIST …. Oim garn ona but, But I’ll be pissing moisef with larfta if there’s a backlesh in 2014, and those ‘Freeview’ subscribers who’ve been utterly ripped off decide to vote.

    I wish I’d had time, (and the fear of the TL;DR phenomenon) to kick in.
    Public Service Broadcasting, the state of TVNZ, the staUS of Kordia, the SKOI ‘minoploi’, the infloonce – whether drekloi, or cuverly – is something to behold!
    Probably what the associated assholes in the PSB debacle fear MOST, is that there are some very democtratic and SIMPLE, immediate solutions.
    (When did the dinosaurs get wiped out btw?)

    Now: let us pray that a half decent opposition that is committed to democratic principles routs the priks, and when it does, it has some balls, and actually remembers where it came from

  5. Gosman: Interesting you use Greece as an example.
    Privatisation and loss of sovereignty seems to be working a treat wouldn’t you say?
    I’m glad you don’t live there Gos. Their public seem to be a bit more uppity and restless than Kiwis when it comes to taking shit.
    Were I considerably richer than you, I’d shout you an airfare there.
    Could still happen though aye

    • What got Greece in to the mess it is in is the fact that they decided they could try and get all the benefits of a left wing social democracy without having to pay for it up front. Their SOE’s are not on the whole revenue generators but a huge drain on the fiscus. As for privatisation, they haven’t really started to divest themselves of much. Their problems are not due to neo-liberal economic policies.

  6. To date, the Police’s response, both in public speeches and press releases, and in actual action, has been wholly inadequate.

    What do we do when we have a completely inadequate police force?

    I demand the resigation of the Police Commissioner Peter Marshall. For a start. His dealing with the problem both before and after the scandal broke has been utterly pathetic.

    The Police Minister must also answer for this for allowing rape culture to continue within the Police. It must be purged.

    Without a police force properly enforcing the rule of law when it comes to sex crimes we are all vulnerable.

    • “Without a police force properly enforcing the rule of law when it comes to sex crimes we are all vulnerable.”

      Ironic, given that people like you appear to want them to ignore the rule of law, and arrest & charge people with insufficient evidence.

      Which will work out great, unless your the 1 out of every ten accused males who is the victim of a false complaint, and end up in jail because the Police cut corners and charged people just to satisfy public opinion.

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