Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Sludge Report #2 – What Have You Done Damien?

IN THIS ISSUE: Damien! Damien! Damien! - What Have You Done? - What Black Market In Cigarettes? What A Good Idea! – THE LOVE BUG: Nonarchists fight back

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available.
C.D. Sludge can be contacted at The Sludge Report will shortly also be available as a free email service….WATCH THIS SPACE>>>>>
A Smoker's Shock As He's Told Cigarette Prices Will Rise By $1

Sludge Report #2

Damien! Damien! Damien! - What Have You Done?

C.D. Sludge is dedicated to rooting out the causes of all things. Recently Sludge stumbled on a deep vein of speculation in the ongoing saga over the Timberlands "sustainable harvest" rimu contracts. The issue is pretty much narrowing down to when and how the contracts came to be signed so soon before the Labour Party adopted a clear policy that no new contracts would be allowed. The Greens, Alliance, NFA and Labour have always claimed it was a jackup. The coasters respond that the contracts were prepared and signed over an extended period. Now another explanation is emerging for the apparent timing coincidence and it wasn't what the PM was looking for when she turned over the rock.

According to the folklore of the capital it was Labour MP Damien O'Connor was the Timberlands source. This was raised in Parliament yesterday in question time. The "word" is the contracts were very close to being signed anyway, but work may have been sped up a little as the Labour Party deadline approached.

Sludge has no idea whether this speculation is correct and apologises in advance to O'Connor if it turns out to be not. However it is indicative of the general climate in the issue in the Government.

Anderton and Cullen will be arguing to allow them to continue in Cabinet on Monday. The May 13th Deadline for the Mayors is approaching like a train. A $120 million carrot destined for the Coast is in transit, stuck somewhere out in the Cook Strait, and the weather's closing in.

Sludge noticed that when the matter came up in Question time yesterday the PM Helen Clark replied as if she was surprised. Sludge reckons the lady may protest too much. On a positive side at least with cigarettes on the mind everybody's forgotten about the Waitara Incident.

See also...
SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day Question 6.


What Black Market In Cigarettes? What A Good Idea!

C.D. Sludge is also dedicated to calling a spade a spade. Last night a carton was purchased to mark the occasion of an ugly money grab by the government. More stomping from the government, till 5am it appears. Sludge is glad I missed that. Though the Hansard could prove entertaining. Today I am picking there will be some tired people at question time.

But back to the spade. Cigarette taxes are regressive. They attack the most poor they take huge amounts of money - $130 million a year over 14 month is not exactly pin money. The cost falls hardest on the poor. More poor people smoke. More Maori smoke. More young women - almost by definition poor - smoke. Rich people can afford the extra dollar easily. Poor people can’t.

Last night the Government used its Veto to prevent an amendment proposed by National that would have guaranteed 10% of the money - 10%! It all should go to cessation programmes. Only, even tobacco taxes take $700 million a year. Virtually no real ones exist and what there are are extremely expensive. Nicorette tastes like shit and costs a fortune. Why isn't nicotine available in a pill? Chewing gum that tastes nice. Meanwhile BAT warns raising the price might lead to a black market. What black market? What a good idea!

Most of the rhetoric in the house concerned the hypocrisy of ACT and National who had just done exactly the same thing in the last two budgets. While this is a little spectacular, from the smokers perspective its to be expected. When this kind of thing happens to you from the left – even the Green Party! – there is a feeling of being blindsided.

Sludge reckons a solution to this would be for smokers by poll to be able to determine where the excise taxes they pay go and how much. Sport. Arts. Overseas Aid. Christian Children’s Fund. Corso. Coastguard. Sludge nominates Zimbabwe.

Time for another cigarette..


Sludge’s first readers contribution comes in response to Sludge on the love bug. Cringe is from California. See… Sludge Report #1 -Is The Love Bug The Real Thing

Nonarchists fight back.

Love I won't do anything to your computer!! To some of us out of work plebs you're just making us spend more money to revive our old,slow and now virus-screwed machines. I have to give you a quote from that old conservative former London Times journalist who became a committed American, Alistair Cooke, of Letter from America fame for many years and finally. before he became dotty, front man for Masterpiece Theatre, who said in an excess of honesty once that he had learned so much about how America worked from H L Mencken that Mencken became his guru. Then he had the audacity to quote Mencken as telling him that "to be a good journalist you have to be an anarchist". I'm sure Cooke meant it when he said it but has not objected since to this quote being edited out of the full record. Back to the viruses, what a lovely thought...we will arrive at the new nirvana by screwing up other people until they see the light! Its been the same story from all kinds of extremists for centuries. The "irony" to use your word, is that by screwing up Microsoft, which all kinds of establishmentarians and light-minded oppositionists wish to do, will simply delay the introduction of the new communication system by which scores of geostationary satellites are supposed to give everyone on earth uncontrolled and electromagnetically undistorted access to wireless telephone, internet, television and radio at a cost of less than $25 a month by 2003. Its already available for about $11,000 under test in the USA. However this would be too competitive and white-ant the current systems and infrastructure. I feel so sad that all the investors and other bludgers on the current communications systems will get an extended lease of life by attacking Microsoft. MS ain't God but neither is it the Devil its made out to be. I would have thought that a country which is only just getting free internet provision might have some qualms about screwing the tall poppies. There is a theory however that it is best for us to have all our hidden knockers and destroyers of anything new. If we keep screwing the cutting edge proposals the innovators will simply come up with brand new ways around the hidden or not so hidden controls. I look forward to the day when we can piggy back on any communication system without the benefit of an ISP. It shouldn't take long for someone to put the required technology into a home package. Then we might have something approaching real anarchic freedom instead of a bunch of nationalistic, lentil-eating, latter-day Luddites.

Regards from Cringe.

Sludge Report # 2 - Compiled by - C.D. Sludge – Wednesday, May 09, 2000

(c) Sludge 2000

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Kavanaugh Case And Women’s Suffrage

On suffrage day when – reportedly – we celebrate women winning a political voice, and ensuring that their voices are heard, respected, and acted upon, despite all the attempts to ignore and silence them. More>>

Gordon Campbell: Are Only Old People Likely To Vote For Simon Bridges?

Around the world, young people seem to be gravitating to left wing policies and parties, leaving the old to prop up the conservative parties... the size of the gap suggests there’s more involved to this evolution than the usual clichés about the young being idealistic and the old being more realistic. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Fuss Over The PM’s Pacific Forum Trip

Truly, the abuse being levelled at PM Jacinda Ardern for doing her job at the Pacific Islands Forum shows just how much – and on how many levels – Ardern seems to enrage a goodly number of citizens. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On MP Pay And The REAL P.C. Danger Zone

There has never been anything remotely credible about the way parliamentarians would paint themselves as the helpless victims of the Remuneration Authority when it came to their pay increases... More>>