Saturday, August 29, 2015

New Zealand Health and Safety Bill - Schedule 2A

"The New Zealand Health and Safety Bill could see its third and final reading as soon as tomorrow.
The bill is a 273-page omnibus one which will overhaul New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system, replacing the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the Machinery Act 1950.
The Law Society has advised the Minister that Schedule 2A attempts to remove the power of the courts to review a determination that certain information is ‘classified security information’." blah blah blah.....

“Trustee de son tort”  
Removing rights contrary to the fiduciary duty to protect! Here we go again, this reeks of self-interest.
Perhaps the law society should chase politicians with demands for fiduciary legislation and the removal of crown immunity.  Without fiduciary legislation, nearly all activism is futile because politicians aren’t accountable in law.  I would suggest this is the cause of most problems as it relates to the lack of controls over idiots in power.
Latimer House Rule - VI) Ethical Governance?
“Ministers, Members of Parliament, judicial officers and public office holders in each jurisdiction should respectively develop, adopt and periodically review appropriate guidelines for ethical conduct. These should address the issue of conflict of interest, whether actual or perceived, with a view to enhancing transparency, accountability and public confidence.”
Professor Paul Finn underlined, “the most fundamental fiduciary relationship in our society is manifestly that which exists between the community (the people) and the state, its agencies and [[officials]. "
I’m sure we all agree with Finn’s truism on that; therefore  it stands to reason that a politician's fiduciary obligations not only comprise duties of good faith and loyalty, but include duties of skill and competence in managing a country and its people who have conferred power to them for that task and no other.
This would suggest that anyone accepting political and government control over the interests of people require moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust. Their conduct should be judged by the most exacting fiduciary standards because of their ability to harm people by a misuse of that power which appears abolish fundamental rights to access justice.
Politicians  must be reminded they are burdened with the fiduciary duty to protect the principal’s rights because they the government would benefit from the exercise of its own discretion in breach of their fiduciary duty when they extinguish those rights which it alone had the power to dispose of.
“Coups d'├ętat”
I suggest we go after their immunity; chase them down with fiduciary legislation; that will remind them they are trustees, not dictators.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ayaz Amir on his excellent article "Lightening the gloom of the Pakistani soul"

Islamabad diary

The Islamic Republic, or the Fortress of Islam, or God’s specially-appointed kingdom – call it what you will…in the realm of fantasy there are no boundaries – was oppressed by two kinds of gloom prior to the army operation, Zarb-e-Azb.

Karachi was enveloped in its own pall of gloom. This was inspired by two things: a) rampant corruption and extortion; and b) that special terror which was a hallmark of the MQM’s style of politics. Pakistan’s largest city was helpless against these two oppressive forces. There was no cure for the PPP’s mafia style of governance and there was no answer to the MQM’s brand of terror. (Six months ago it would not have been possible to name the MQM in this manner…the attendant risks would have been considered too great.)

The MQM called itself a ‘secular and liberal’ organisation. This was the grimmest joke of all. The accredited maulvi had no voice in the party’s councils – and this was no small cause for mercy. But the MQM had its own pope, presiding over its affairs from distant London, and his power, and the terror his name induced, was on a par with that of any Taliban warlord. Indeed, it is possible to argue that his power was greater. No Taliban warlord could bring a metropolis as huge and unwieldy as Karachi to a standstill at little more than a moment’s notice.

And no warlord through his histrionic telephonic addresses could threaten the mental health of Pakistan’s largest city the way the MQM pontiff did.

The gloom over the rest of Pakistan was caused by extremist Islam as represented by the Pakistani Taliban and their various offshoots or franchises: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Muhammad, the Punjabi Taliban et al. Headquartered in the Waziristans – North and South – these forces had become powerful, challenging the Pakistani state, spreading terror far and wide, striking at will where they wanted. And the Pakistani state – with its guns and missiles and nuclear power – had taken stout refuge behind a policy of discretion…thus far and no more.

A place like Peshawar of course was unsafe, bomb blasts and killing of policemen regularly occurring. But even places at a distance – Islamabad, Lahore, Multan – were oppressed by a sense of fear. Militants and extremists seemed to be everywhere; the majesty and glory of the state nowhere.

Worse than this feeling of dread was a feeling of hopelessness, that nothing could be done as Pakistan’s condition was beyond cure. Politicians who mattered had turned into appeasers, outdoing Chamberlain, finding excuses for the Pakistani Taliban…and after every terrorist outrage offering smooth phrases and extending more olive branches, to the point where the olive forests stood denuded.

All this while, the well-to-do classes were losing no time transferring their assets and money abroad. Islamabad was the country’s nominal capital. The real capital seemed to be Dubai.

Given this situation how could anyone expect the ordinary citizen, or someone from the educated middle class, to nurture the seeds of hope?

To crown everything, the armed forces, when not building another defence housing authority or another Fizaia estate, had resolved not to see or hear evil. The army had liberated Swat – no other word except liberation will do in this context – and it had gone into South Waziristan. But then the army chief who had acquired a three-year extension in service became the epitome of caution and circumspection. As the Taliban became bolder the army command turned into fearsome paper tigers.

With this the attitude of the army, the first and last line of national defence, guardian not only of the passes but defender of the country’s ideological frontiers, where could national morale go except down?

This was not fifty years ago. This was not Partition when rivers of blood flowed in Punjab. This was not post-1971 after Pakistan was divided and Gen ‘Tiger’ Niazi had surrendered his pistol in Dhaka. This was just last year, the middle of it to be precise. That’s when the army under its new commander, Raheel Sharif, shook itself and decided that something had to be done…if Pakistan was not to become a bigger laughingstock.

Overriding civilian vacillation and the defeatism of the political class, Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched. That was the turning point, Pakistan’s D-Day, when the situation began to change…Pakistan discovering a new resolve and ‘jihad’ finally tasting the medicine whose potency it understood. Much of the liberal commentariat – fluent in a different sort of narrative in which the army was always the villain – would choke before admitting this.

With terrorism in disarray and terrorism on the run, the gloom enveloping the Pakistani soul while not completely gone has lightened to a considerable extent. The old feeling that Pakistan was beyond repair has given way to a measure of hope. The educated middle class has started to look up.

Fear hasn’t vanished completely from Karachi but thanks to the Rangers much of the old terror has abated. The smile has started to return on the city’s face. The MQM, meanwhile, because of action here and legal troubles abroad is facing the worst crisis in its history. Matters have reached a pass where the MQM pontiff is calling for UN and Nato intervention in Karachi. This is hilarious. Only fools, and there’s no shortage of them in the government, would lose any sleep over this.

All this stands in bolder relief when contrasted with the turmoil at the heart of the Islamic world – civil war in Syria, turmoil in Iraq, civil war in Yemen, state disruption in Libya…closer to us, war and conflict in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar’s death confirmed, and the Taliban in the throes of a succession crisis. Compared to this fractured mosaic Pakistan for all its problems looks a picture of stability. This in itself is astonishing. When was the last time Pakistan looked pretty compared to anything?

This is just the beginning. The decline has been stemmed but the rot afflicting Pakistani society, the corruption and plunder which have become a feature of national life, along with the poor quality of the national leadership, are all there. One Raheel Sharif has made a difference, and only misty-eyed champions of that elusive plant called Pakistani democracy will deny this. But how is this process to be carried forward? Who will be the next Raheel Sharif?

This is the question agitating parts of the public mind. The present moment, and the upswing mood accompanying it, is too good to be lost. How to keep hope and faith alive, and the power of cynicism at bay…above and beyond all the facile twaddle about preserving the sanctity of the constitution this is the foremost question.

Gen Zia took a hammer and chisel to the constitution and implanted his own version of Islam in it. The Pakistani intelligentsia has suffered no indigestion on account of that. But the barest mention of constitutional changes to preserve and accommodate the positive change of the present moment, and fervent constitutionalists not averse to reaching out to the Taliban lift their arms in outrage.

Constitutions are instruments of governance. They are not sacred documents. The French constitution did not protect France from Germany in 1940. Iraq has a constitution of sorts which is not preserving it from the advance of the Islamic State. The politicians had the 1973 constitution before them when they considered the Taliban threat. Alas, it failed to fill their hearts with the requisite resolve. It is the army and the PAF and the security agencies which have turned the tide of war and saved Pakistan from what everyone loved to call an ‘existential threat’.

How to preserve these gains and build on them? We better find an answer to this question.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

IPA - International Political Accountability Society - Accountability of Politicians through Fiduciary Legislation

Democracy is not dead- it’s simply been hijacked by our dear leaders who have used their fiduciary trustee control at executive level to remove any real methods for ordinary people of accessing accountability from them.
And as history has shown, if you’re immune to fiduciary control, you have the ability to destroy society. It is unfortunate political management has become a game rather than a focus on their legal fiduciary obligation.
The answer is clear. Accountability of politicians through fiduciary legislation. Government’s politicians have abused power since nation and states began. Democracy is undermined by weak political accountability structures. Democratic leaders are meant to act in public interest but we haven’t had much of that and the damage being done by them is increasing.
Government is a 'trust structure' created by people to manage the needs of society. The relationship between government and the governed is clearly a fiduciary one. Yet rules such as Sovereign Immunity or Crown and Judicial Immunity are now being targeted as the very tools of oppression that are preventing those being abused from taking action against the person controlling the laws of a country. Originating from within the courts of equity, the fiduciary concept was partly designed to prevent those holding positions of power from abusing their authority.
Modern arguments suggest anyone accepting any judicial, political or government control over the interests of people requires moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust. Its conduct should therefore be judged by the most exacting fiduciary standards. The fiduciary relationship arises from the government’s ability to control people with the exercise of that power. In effect, if a government has the power to abolish any rights then they are burdened with the fiduciary duty to protect such an interest because the government would benefit from the exercise of its own discretion to extinguish rights which it alone had the power to dispose of.
Time to act- time to push for fiduciary legislation because of the fiduciary's fail- the nation fails.
Watch this space

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Exxon Bribes Gov Chris Christie to save itself $8b

THE decision by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie to settle an environmental lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for roughly three cents on the dollar after more than a decade of litigation is an embarrassment to law enforcement and good government.
Even more troubling are the circumstances surrounding the decision, which recently came to light. As a judge deliberated whether to assess the $8.9 billion in damages New Jersey sought, the administration stepped in and agreed to take about $250 million and settle the case.
Former colleagues of mine in state government, where I served as commissioner of environmental protection from 2002 to 2006, have told me that Mr. Christie’s chief counsel inserted himself into the case, elbowed aside the attorney general and career employees who had developed and prosecuted the litigation, and cut the deal favorable to Exxon.       
The oil giant, one of the most profitable energy companies in the world, had already been found liable. The only question that remained was, how much would it have to pay?
Now we know, and the result is a disgrace.
The story began in 2004, when I authorized the complaint against Exxon for decades of damage done to the natural resources surrounding the company’s Bayway and Bayonne operations on Arthur Kill and Newark Bay, which are at the heart of the New York Harbor estuary.
The lawsuit was part of a broader initiative, started a year earlier, to ensure that New Jersey taxpayers would be compensated, and natural resources restored, where major polluters had caused damage. Numerous Fortune 100 companies came to the table, including Chevron, DuPont and Honeywell, and resolved their liability promptly, often through innovative watershed protection projects.
Not Exxon. The company’s challenge to its liability was rejected in 2007. But despite the loss, Exxon kept on fighting for nearly eight more years.
When Mr. Christie became governor in 2010, I hoped that as a former prosecutor he would understand how important the case was to environmental law enforcement. I believed that as a lawyer he would understand how unfair it would be to the companies that quickly settled their liability on fair terms if Exxon were to be treated more favorably.
Having conferred with Mr. Christie on past spill cases while he was the United States attorney for New Jersey, I felt he would take seriously the Department of Environmental Protection’s role as a trustee and steward of the state’s natural resources. I was encouraged when his administration continued to pursue the case, and was further encouraged when his attorney general and outside counsel took the case to trial last year.
In the courtroom, New Jersey’s experts testified that Exxon was responsible for $8.9 billion in damages to the state’s natural resources, primarily through the destruction of creeks, wetlands and aquatic life. Exxon swung away at the state’s case during trial but never landed a punch, as I saw firsthand as one of the witnesses called by Exxon to testify. The presiding judge — an admired expert in environmental law who had been recalled from retirement for the trial — had been expected to issue his decision soon.
One would think that Mr. Christie would have kept his immediate political staff at a distance from these negotiations.
While he was chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2014, the group received $500,000 from Exxon and more from company employees. While this was not Exxon’s first contribution to the group, this donation was made at a time when the New Jersey trial was pending.
If nothing else, the optics, as they say in politics, look bad. Had the governor or his staff stayed away from the case, they would have avoided the obvious and unseemly inference that the settlement had something to do with the contribution.
All settlements involve compromise, of course. But Governor Christie left billions on the table, if the testimony of the state’s own experts is to be believed. This would be true even if the judge, who must still approve the settlement, were to reduce the experts’ figure by 50 percent or more.

The administration has so far refused to release the text of the agreement. One worry is whether it also releases Exxon from liability at other polluted New Jersey sites that were not part of the case and where damage has not been assessed. If so, the value to Exxon of the deal could exceed the $8.9 billion by several hundreds of millions of dollars.
While Mr. Christie’s eye has been on the presidency, his staff has traded away an opportunity to recover billions of dollars to restore natural resources damaged or destroyed by Exxon.
In the process, the administration has squandered the opportunity to distinguish the governor’s tenure with an unsurpassed environmental and law enforcement legacy.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monadelphous information - Scam or what ?

Rachel Cooper
Investor Relations Manager
Dear Rachel
I am concerned information presented on your web site relating to Monadelphous ”PROJECTS AND CONTRACTS” is misleading.
Most of the jobs noted are already completed, yet investors and journalists would be given the false impression that this is work currently in progress.
I think your company has an obligation to produce accurate information to investors and I ask that you clarify your companies "marketing" material within 7 days or I will contact ASIC.
The second concern is your annual report dated 30/06/2014 which notes MND assets of $750m. What set of accounts /audit supports that value?  
Yours faithfully
Christopher Wingate
MND.AX Shareholder
Abbot Point Coal Terminal X50 Stockyard Expansion
Automated Alumina Delivery System Installation
Bargara Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrade
BHP Billiton Nickel West
BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina
Blacktip Development Project Onshore Gas Plant Construction
Boddington Gold Mine Expansion
Brockman Four
Brockway S2
Burpengary East Sewerage Treatment Plant Upgrade
Cannington Project - Lead, Zinc, Silver Mine & Processing Plant
Cape Lambert Port B Project
Cape Lambert Port B
Cape Lambert Port Upgrade 80 Mtpa Expansion
Cape Lambert Upgrade - Car Dumper Installation
Carborough Downs CHPP Expansion
Chevron WA Oil - General Maintenance Services
Cogeneration Plant - Kwinana Power Station
Dampier Port Upgrade Phase A
Dampier Port Upgrade Phase B
Darwin LNG Maintenance Services
Gladstone Alumina Refinery - Maintenance and Minor Capital Projects
Gladstone Port Rail Receival Station 3
Chevron CO2 Injection Pipeline and Well Sites Preparation and Construction
Gorgon Project - Carbon Dioxide Injection Pipeline 
Gorgon Project - Facilities Management
HIsmelt HRDF Deconstruction
Hope Downs 4
Ichthys Project Onshore LNG Facilities
Karratha Gas Plant
Karratha Gas Plant - Maintenance Services
Macedon Domestic Gas Plant
Million Ounce Plant Upgrade
Million Ounce Plant Upgrade (MOPU)
Mt Arthur North Domestic Coal & Export Coal Facilities
Mt Rawdon Gold Project
Murrin Murrin Nickel Cobalt Project
Pluto LNG - Maintenance Services 
Pluto Offshore Platform Hook-Up and Commissioning Project
Pluto Onshore Mechanical Offsite Utilities and AGRU Project
PNG LNG - Field Facilities Construction Services Contract
Queensland Curtis LNG Plant Maintenance Services
Rio Tinto - Kestrel Mine Expansion
Rio Tinto - Marandoo Mine Phase 2
Rio Tinto Hunter Valley Maintenance and Shutdown Services
Seqwater Fluoridation Project Stage 2 Parcel 1 and 2
Ulan West
Verve Energy - Collie Basin Coal Infrastructure 
Wagerup Calciner Stack Installation Project
West Angelas Plant Project
Western Turner Syncline
Wheatstone Project
Whitehaven Coal - Master Services Agreement
Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET)
Woodford Sewage Treatment Plant Augmentation
Wyndham Water Treatment Plant
Yandicoogina (HIY) 24Mta & 600 kt Upgrade
Yandicoogina (HIY) 36Mta Upgrade

Monday, June 29, 2015

Opinion: Can we hold politicians accountable?

We vote for promises but are stymied when they’re broken

“Can we ever successfully sue a politician for a broken promise?” That was a very simple question posed by one of my students during a recent contract law lecture.
The question drives to the heart of a critical democratic issue: do we have enough measures in place to hold politicians accountable for election promises? Arguably, there is no grander or more important stage for a promise than coming from someone seeking public office, but when there’s little accountability for that promise, what’s a voter to do?
Heading into the Vancouver municipal elections this fall, there have already been the rumblings of electoral platforms from the major parties. Both the NPA and Vision Vancouver are developing policy planks and trying to convince voters of how they would run the city. However, what happens if they’re elected and fail to follow through. What can those who voted in reliance of all those campaign promises do to demand accountability? Here’s the unhappy answer: we can’t do that much.
The idea of holding politicians’ feet to the fire begins and ends with voting. Our vote is considered our true leverage. So if politicians break their promise, our power is to vote them out in the next election. Unfortunately, that does little for the intervening years, and we are left with someone who, at best, has failed to live to their stated promises and, at worst, negligently or fraudulently deceived voters during their campaign. Also, there’s no guarantee that highlighting broken promises will result in an opposition victory in the next election, just look at the recent provincial Liberal party victories in B.C. and Ontario.
Other than just our votes, provincial politicians are accountable to the B.C. Elections Act, which prohibits someone from engaging in fraud. The language of the act (which is also in some other jurisdictions) makes it an offence to compel or persuade a vote using “fraudulent means.”
This prohibition was the linchpin of a lawsuit during the 1990s, when a group of voters sued the NDP and individual NDP MLAs over the “fudge-it budget.” Ultimately, acquittals were issued, but it remains a live option to sue politicians if their promises rise to the level of fraud.
While in practice this seems like a great safety net, the Elections Act is more of a blunt hammer and appears intended to address more severe forms of fraud rather than a mere unkept promise or general dishonesty.
What about my student’s idea of considering an election promise to be a contract? That idea has some definite appeal, but courts have routinely stated that campaign promises do not rise to the level of a contractual promise. The same argument was raised in 2004 when Dalton McGuinty, the former premier of Ontario, was sued by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for breach of contract.
At issue was McGuinty’s signing of the CTF taxpayer protection promise, for which he agreed to not raise taxes in Ontario. That promise burest when the McGuinty government announced the imposition of a health tax. The case went to the Ontario Superior Court, which ultimately held that election promises do not equate to binding contracts. So for better or worse, there is no valid breach of contract claim when a politician promises a course of action and fails to deliver.
Recently, NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe issued a challenge to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to run a clean campaign.
LaPointe proposed to sign a written code of conduct promising he will resign if the NPA campaign goes negative. That’s a nice way to demonstrate your conviction to a promise, but it likely would not be enforceable as a contractual guarantee. Even more damning, at the federal level such written pledges to resign if the politician acts or fails to act after elected are prohibited.
Assessing the angles, the short answer is there’s not much voters can do outside of not re-electing the politician in the next election or attempting to gathering support for a recall or referendum; we can look to the repeal of the harmonized sales tax for an example of where that resulted in accountability. But such examples are extraordinarily rare and are tough to repeat.
The sad reality of all this is that the issue of broken election promises is one that has real democratic consequences. Elections Canada has been adamant that broken promises by politicians are a key driver of voter apathy and the stunningly bad voter turnout rates seen at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels. If we don’t expect politicians to live by their word, why bother voting in the first place. That is not only a rational conclusion, but a horrifying one for our democracy.
Until more institutional checks are developed, we are left with our vote and the hope that our politicians will remain honest. Let’s hope as the parties gear for the fall municipal elections, we see some of that honesty and that their political rhetoric matches reality.
Brian Fixter is an instructor in the faculty of commerce and business administration at Douglas College.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Iceland's success obtained after screwing the banks back

Three charts that show Iceland's economy recovered after it imprisoned bankers and let banks go bust - instead of bailing them out

1 / 1
The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations
Getty Images

"It is dangerous that someone is too big to investigate - it gives a sense there is a safe haven."

Iceland’s finance minister has announced a 39 per cent tax on investors looking to take their money overseas.
The country has imposed the tax to prevent it hemorrhaging money as it loosens bank laws imposed six years ago, when Iceland made the shocking decision to let its banks go bust.
Iceland also allowed bankers to be prosecuted as criminals – in contrast to the US and Europe, where banks were fined, but chief executives escaped punishment.
The chief executive, chairman, Luxembourg ceo and second largest shareholder of Kaupthing, an Icelandic bank that collapsed, were sentenced in February to between four and five years in prison for market manipulation.

"Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?" said special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson at the time. "It is dangerous that someone is too big to investigate - it gives a sense there is a safe haven."
Read more: Iceland: The economy that came in from the cold?

Bailing on bail out

While the UK government nationalised Lloyds and RBS with tax-payers’ money and the US government bought stakes in its key banks, Iceland adopted a different approach. It said it would shore up domestic bank accounts. Everyone else was left to fight over the remaining cash.
It also imposed capital controls restricting what ordinary people could do with their money– a measure some saw as a violation of free market economics.
The plan worked. Iceland took a huge financial hit, just like every other country caught in the crisis.
This year the International Monetary Fund declared that Iceland had achieved economic recovery 'without compromising its welfare model' of universal healthcare and education.
Other measures of progress like the country’s unemployment rate, compare just as well with countries like the US.

Iceland's unemployment rate compares well

Source: IMF Source: IMF
Rather than maintaining the value of the krona artificially, Iceland chose to accept inflation.
This pushed prices higher at home but helped exports abroad – in contrast to many countries in the EU, which are now fighting deflation, or prices that keep decreasing year on year.

This year, Iceland will become the first European country that hit crisis in 2008 to beat its pre-crisis peak of economic output.
With the reduction of capital controls – tempered by the 39 per cent tax – it continues to make progress.