Saturday, September 24, 2022

Who represents the greater threat to democracy right now - Action Zealandia or the Dominion Post?

I see Stuff’s feverish witch-hunt for malignant local government election candidates has claimed a victim.

The Dominion Post reports today that Jordan Milburn, a candidate for Upper Hutt City Council, has quit his job at the Civil Aviation Authority “after allegations he had ties with neo-Nazi group Action Zealandia”.

Who made these allegations? According to the Dominion Post, a group calling itself Paparoa. And who is Paparoa? Good question. The paper doesn’t bother to tell us.

I found what appeared to be Paparoa’s website and it offers no clue whatsoever to the identities of the people behind it. Neither does a link to it from a UK-based website called Hope Not Hate.

All the Paparoa website reveals is that it “researches the far right in Aotearoa and works with journalists, academics and activists to counteract their hate”. No names, just an email address. A “spokesperson" for Paparoa was quoted in an earlier Dominion Post story but not identified.

So on the basis of “allegations” by this anonymous group – a group every bit as shadowy and conspiracy-obsessed as any on the far-Right, judging by its website – the Dominion Post “outed” Milburn last week. And now it reports that he’s lost his job, the clear implication being that he was forced to quit - or the CAA felt pressured to get rid of him - because of what the Dominion Post revealed.

Is this what we’ve come to? A once-reputable newspaper hounding citizens on the basis of accusations by conspiracy theorists whom we’re supposed to regard as credible even though the paper doesn’t identify them?

What makes it even worse is the note of satisfaction in today’s Dominion Post story about Milburn losing his job. I’m surprised the headline didn’t read “Gotcha!” 

The Dominion Post apparently sees no contradiction in describing Action Zealandia as a “secretive ethno-nationalist group” - whatever that may mean - while simultaneously giving credence to unsubstantiated claims by a group that’s just as furtive.

The paper outed Milburn on the basis that his voice sounded similar to that of someone calling himself Zane who featured in an Action Zealandia podcast. A Jordan Milburn was also reportedly identified as an editor of an Action Zealandia document in May 2021 (presumably supplied by Paparoa, though the paper doesn't make that clear) which contained "anti-Semitic slurs and comments". We're not told what the comments were, so can't decide for ourselves whether they were malignant or breached any law. 

No further evidence needed, apparently; guilty as charged.

What’s not established is whether Milburn has expressed any opinions that can’t legally be held and which therefore might make him ineligible for public office. I suspect the same is true of many, if not all, the council candidates targeted in Stuff’s sustained crusade against supposedly sinister influencers contesting council elections.  (As an aside, how often do you see alarmist media references to the far Left? Evidently they’re okay.)

Also unexplained is how the CAA was compromised or threatened by employing Milburn as a software engineer. Yet when the Dominion Post dobbed him in to his employers last week, a CAA spokesman obligingly said: “We can assure you we’re looking into this". Why? Even assuming Milburn is “Zane”, how did his private views affect his ability to carry out his job? We're not told.

Local government election candidates targeted by the Dominion Post and other Stuff papers are broadly accused of spreading misinformation, promoting dangerous conspiracy theories and threatening democracy. Any association with groups such as Voices for Freedom or the Destiny Church is presented, ipso facto, as incriminating, But I wonder where the real threat to democracy is coming from.

I fear for New Zealand’s future when the mainstream news media, which not long ago championed free speech, are instrumental in creating a climate of fear, suspicion and denunciation that resembles something from George Orwell. It becomes even more dangerous when government departments appear to have been frightened or bullied by the media into succumbing to a moral panic.  

I may or may not be right in suggesting the threat posed to society by fringe extremist organisations such as Action Zealandia has probably been greatly magnified, no doubt to their immense gratification. But as to the question of who represents the bigger threat to democracy in New Zealand right now, I’d have to say it’s the Dominion Post.


Unknown said...

Thanks for blogging about this, Karl. I live in Upper Hutt and noticed these accusations about this council candidate on a local Facebook page as it included the link to an earlier Stuff piece about him. I made a comment that what they had published amounted to gossip. (An unnamed person had heard something he disagreed with on a podcast and claimed that the candidate's voice was similar to that on the podcast). No evidence of anything! The proof it seems is the candidate's refusal to engage with them. I wouldn't either. It seems like the modern version of "Are you still beating your wife?". Now he has lost his job.
This hounding of people is one of the main reasons I no longer listen or watch the mainstream media. It's appalling!

Anonymous said...

Keep it going Karl. I have been writing to Stuff’s editors calling them out on campaigns and activist journalism causes such as this. The really disturbing responses that I receive justifying their particular take on an issue is genuine cause for alarm. We really need to find a way of exposing their perpetual bias before it does real harm to our society.

Gary Peters said...

Expect a lot more of this as the gloss drips off ardern and the sycophantic members in the media do whatever it takes to discredit any opposition to her and/or her plans.

I caution anyone planning to stand in 2023 against this government to check your online history very carefully bearing in mind that "fabrication" is not off the table. If you even farted in the bath at some stage check your winesses to makes sure you have your story straight 😎

Doug Longmire said...

You make a very good point there, Karl.
From the mainstream media (Comrade Ardern's mouthpiece) we constantly hear the condemnatory tone of voice when describing "white supremist", or "alt-right" or "Right wing extremist" points of view or opinions.
However, the same MSM seems to be blind,deaf and dumb to any mention "alt-Left" of "Brown supremist" or "Left wing extremist"
I wonder why ? Well, I guess that's the obedience that $55 million buys.

Caryl Forrest said...

I agree with your concerns about wild accusations.

In the case of someone working for a government agency, you can't just fire someone over wild allegations. I suspect they got their systems analyst to run a check on his PC's hard drive and email account. If there had been "untoward" correspondence with inappropriate groups that would show up very quickly.

A software engineer with anarchic views is really dangerous in an IT environment. They can cause all sorts of havoc. I suspect they have "suggested" he resign and paid him out with a settlement. That's the normal process.

Unknown said...

Ironic calling neo nazi's right, or far right as they were socialists. An allgamation of a socialist party and the national workers party became the national socialist german workers party.

David McLoughlin said...

I tried to find a website for Action Zealandia, just to check them out. Googling the name just comes up with all kinds of news stories and other sites calling them fascists, etc. When I finally found what appeared to be a website for the outfit, I was unable to get through, with it constantly coming up as "Connection timed out Error code 522" and "host error".

I assume it has been blocked by the Great and Good, and that the Men in Black are now coming for me for trying to see what they have to say about themselves, as opposed to what the media says.

boudicca said...

Paparoa is associated with Antifa in NZ. Gooogle the 2 orgs together. Antifa is violent far-left

Andy Espersen said...

Bravo, Karl. Not the first time this sort of thing is happening in free countries - I well remember McCarthy'ism in the United States. Eventually their Supreme Court squashed all that undemocratic nonsense.

This could happen here also - if only some individual (like Milburn) could afford to, and did, sue The Dominion for libel. But who can afford that?

But I am not against people being investigated by our security services for anti-democratic and anti-New Zealand actions. When I was applying for New Zealand citizenship in 1964 I myself was forced to make a special trip to Wellington (from Nelson) to explain my membership of Bertrand Russell's "Ban the Bomb Movement". And if I had not gone, I would not have received my citizenship - as simple as that.

As it is, this will only put people even more off reading The Dominion Post, with their silly little so-called journalists - and with their incapable editor.

Simon Bechum said...

Great work, Karl. These journalists and antifas are one and the same. There's clearly some sort of agenda afoot. And I don't just mean with this council candidate - the corrupted media witch-hunting individuals all across the country, subverting New Zealand's voting system. Whatever doesn't fit the bill of the globalised neoliberal marketing is tarnished by whatever brush best suits... racist, sexist, fascist, homophobic, neonazi, you name it an they try to use it against someone. Normal New Zealanders getting harassed by the out of touch media and activist classes who've clearly got their sights set on something broader for this once great country.

Karl du Fresne said...

I've received several anonymous comments purporting to identify the people behind Paparoa and other so-called "antifa" (anti-fascist) groups. But I'm unable to verify them, and I suggest that if these commenters are confident of their facts they should publish them under their own names rather than expect me to do it for them. If I did that I'd be guilty of the same sin I've criticised the Dominion Post for. In any case I have no interest in promoting febrile conspiracy theories, no matter which side they emanate from.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karl.

With respect, you are the former editor of the DomPost with a popular blog.

A journalist worth his salt would call the named individuals to check if the facts given were correct.

Phil said...

I think last week the NZ media's obsession with the Sam Uffindell story proves how out of touch they have become. The public just isn't interested in what he got up to at school. Many of us are interested in the current nepotism saga in the Government but the media keep a distance on that story. I don't bother reading Stuff's articles outing candidates who have views Stuff doesn't like.

Karl du Fresne said...

To "Anonymous" (sigh ... )
I presume you're referring to the individuals named in the comments submitted (again, anonymously) but not published about Paparoa.
This is a blog that, like many others, consists principally of comment and observation. It doesn't purport to engage in investigative journalism. To do that would fundamentally change its character. It would also require a lot more work and I devote enough unpaid time to this blog as it is. (I do get a very modest emolument from advertising revenue, but it's a token sum.) If you feel strongly that these people should be exposed, why don't you do it yourself?
Incidentally, I was never editor of the Dominion Post.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares whether you are telling the truth. It’s only considered when the person imparting it has some sort of reputation, but that is being chipped away at and we are told that even Sean Plunket, a big pro-vax guy, is a conspiracy theorist.

Nope, the truth only matters when it comes from an established mouth, and there needs to be some follow-through from a more mainstream publication or group of voices for something to even be considered as possibly true.

Odysseus said...

"These women claim to champion the voices of the downtrodden and marginalised, while ruthlessly seeking to shut down dissent and demonising anybody who disagrees with them.

They bleat about how committed they are to openness and transparency while using media teams to deflect scrutiny away from their actions." Lillian Andrews, writing in Thursday's edition of the Australian Spectator about Ardern (whose photo graces the article), and her ilk.

Stuff has become to all intents and purposes part of Ardern's media team. They appear to think this gives them free rein to use their position to bully and crush people who hold different views. We will remember what they did.

Anonymous said...

I found this a soothing read: Agatha Christie, ‘Murder is Easy.’ For it’s very humorous characterisation of the media.

If we lose our sense of humour I think we’re pretty much you know what’d.

My very recent experience with Stuff News, in which I consider them unethical, is that they are hypocrites and bullies who think they are saving the planet. They have some kind of out of control collective messianic complex - if I were to attempt a clinical diagnosis.

So called progressives honestly believe they are building the future for their docile, agreeable descendants to inherit and thank them for. They cannot imagine the next generation simply ungratefully destroying everything they set up for them.

Wokeness is when you are having a dream that you are awake when everyone else is asleep.

EP said...

Really sad though, is to live in a capital city without a newspaper. Remember the big fat authoritative paper of ? years ago that everyone had hurled at their gate? When it stood for the country itself - The Dominion. Maybe we were just less politically aware then, but it meant something. Nowadays we not only won't subscribe, we won't read the poor thin scrap at no cost in the library.

Brendan McNeill said...

Thanks Karl

The journalists and editors of the Dominion, Stuff and their fellow traveler's fail to realise they are alienating large numbers of ordenary New Zealanders who have had a guts full of their unashamed political bias and advocacy journalism.

There must be a market for this nonsense but I'm guessing it's diminishing rapidly. It will all become obvious when a future Government ceases pushing Covid Advertising dollars and public interest slush fund money to them.

Anonymous said...

Some refreshing news from good old Europe.

The downfall & clean out of the dictatorial western 'rules based ultra-liberal order' is now well under way. Let's hope this hits all the pathetic, woke, pseudo left, virtual signaling, globalist loser's as hard as possible.

Frederick Williscroft said...

I subscribed to the Dominion Post for 30 odd years and generally thought it an excellent publication - particularly under Tim Pankhurst.
However I cancelled my subscription a couple of years ago. A number of factors influenced my decision.
The editorial bias in favour of the government. That nearly all the columnists were labour cheerleaders/ very anti National. If you were to read Jane Bowron's columns over the years you would think that John Key and Bill English were NZ's equivalent of Pol Pot and Josef Stalin.
Finally (and when I look at Stuff nothing has changed) the "cartoonists" who unremittingly attack the National party. Given that they are not even in government I find it astounding that by my estimation 65% of cartoons are attacks on National. With the abject performance of this Govt I would have thought that there would be enough material to last years. In particular, Sharon Murdoch must have a clause in her contract, where she is exempted from any cartoons which criticise, lampoon or poke fun at the current Govt.
Perhaps the Dominion thinks that because Wellington is left leaning that it's content need to appease that base. If so, they are very much wrong.

Russell Parkinson said...

If the "far right" win an election as has happened in Sweden and Italy, are they still far right? After all they represent the majority of voters.

David McLoughlin said...

If the "far right" win an election as has happened in Sweden and Italy, are they still far right?

The way the media has campaigned against the "wrong" candidates up and down the country in these local body elections, I will not be surprised if they call National "far right" in next year's general election and campaign against that party. As for ACT, well they are beyond the pale.

Gary Peters said...

Jordan Milburn's email address is listed on his candidate statement. I sent him an email pointing the way to this post and suggesting it gave him a fair platform to respond.

It is possible he is not clearing his email but unlikely so unless Karl has elected to not publish any response, which I do not for a moment think he would, it would seem Jordan Milburn has no comment.

Karl du Fresne said...

I would welcome a comment from him but haven't received anything.

ZTS said...

The really concerning thing here is that the Dom have taken the word of a shadowy organisation and blown up someone's life. Fair cop if he is a bad guy but never on the word of some mysterious group. If they have credible evidence, they should publish it or if it came to them from an Intelligence Service, we deserve to know that also.

Surely what is occurring here is a breach of some code or other or perhaps a breach of Human Rights? Supremely worrying. Democracy and established rules of engagement have left the building and we are fast approaching the end game. It is all under attack and we dont have enough transparency to be able to judge why democracy is being smashed beneath us. The important thing is - can we stop it and how do we stop it?

Anonymous said...

The person who set Paparoa up certainly has intelligence links.

Once upon a time he would have been of concern to domestic intelligence. Now he is apparently a government consultant.

The red army marches on.

Anonymous said...

There’s been some interesting speculation over at as to whom Paparoa is:

You would think that the Dom Post and other publications might follow
Such leads up. But then they will know who they are dealing with, and for some reason they feel not mentioning the extremely political, historically and arguably still radical, individuals who are behind it would merit a mention. Why wouldn’t they mention who they are given that the names of those said to be involved are known and published, now - out there.

Perhaps there are potentially embarrassing links to the government or the Prime Minister’s office that would make it and them look like they were embroiled in a sinister communist plot that would make Lenin proud?

Like Karl, I am only willing to speculate, but if someone is to provide a lead, the correct and balanced thing for a real journalist and a serious publication would be for them to follow it up.

“But Nazis…” just doesn’t cut it.

Anonymous said...

If you want to radicalise someone, destroying their life is going to be the fastest way to do it.

The far left are a terrorism factory.

Rodger said...

Thanks for following up on this, Karl. Stuff's crusade against local body candidates in the up-coming elections who hold views contrary to the approved ideology, pose a serious threat to democracy in New Zealand. All power to your pen!

Paul Peters said...

Candidates anyone even
Even shakespeare is a target the writer of the following is actually a ''Maori'' activist and ticks all the boxes in the woke genre (she can it is a sort of freeish society) but the withdrawal of funding is driven by the govt's academic allies ...all about decolonisation....pathetic.....the writer's view is in line witj Stuff's policy and values or it would not be allowed

Paul Peters said...

Importantly Stuff no longer has to rely on ads and subscriber funding. It is govt funded so go woke go broke does not apply it is go woke get a benefit much as you need . The Herald allows some dissenting voices but I see them less and less. Its hierarchy (and all its cartoonists) tick the same boxes as Stuff