Lupari: I’ve done my bit, now it’s Gamato’s turn

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CHIEF Secretary Isaac Lupari, pictured, says he has done his job in releasing funds for the 2017 general election and it is now the electoral commissioner’s responsibility to deliver the election.
“There’s enough money and we’ve done our part in giving support to the electoral commissioner,” he said yesterday in response to remarks by Moresby North-West candidate Sir Mekere Morauta.
“At the end of the day, he is the right person to give information on the election-related matters.
“We have given him all the support and it’s now over to him to run it because we have other things to do to get the country moving.”
Sir Mekere had questioned why Lupari was silent about the issues of funding for poll workers which led to Tuesday’s deferment.
He said Lupari had announced last year that all payments would go through a centralised system and would be made a week in advance.
Asked about National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop’s move to declare a public holiday to enable voters to cast their ballot, Lupari said he had no comments on the matter.
Meanwhile, Department of Personnel Management Secretary John Kali said public servants would be allowed time off again tomorrow to exercise their constitutional right.


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9 ballot boxes destroyed

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NINE ballot boxes were destroyed in Hela yesterday due to variations in the common roll, according to provincial police commander Michael Welly.
Welly said eight boxes were destroyed around 1am and one in the afternoon.
“Six boxes from South Koroba and one from Hulia One LLG in Komo-Margarima were burnt and one ballot box from the Hulia Two LLG was hijacked in the early hours of yesterday,” he said.
Welly said another ballot box was destroyed in the afternoon in the Lower Wage LLG.
“The incident where eight ballot boxes were destroyed in the early hours was caused by the variation in the common roll,” he said.
“In some areas, the voting population had decreased and was lower than the voting population in the previous elections.
“So frustrated candidates and their supporters destroyed the ballot boxes.”
Welly said the afternoon incident in Lower Wage was due to border issues.
“Lower Wage shares its border with Southern Highlands and some people were angry because people from the other side of the border had come in to cast their votes.”
Welly said the nine destroyed ballot boxes would not be counted as they were invalid.
He said polling in the remote parts of Hela would be held today.
“The polling officers, materials and security operations were airlifted out of Tari to be inserted into their respective polling areas.”


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Worker sacked for ‘stealing’ his own tools wins $15,500 payout

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A maintenance worker who was wrongly sacked for taking his own tools home has been awarded $15,500.

Nelson Douglas Eason worked for Fabri-Cell International for 11 years when, shortly after the company changed hands, he told his manager he was resigning, according to an Auckland Employment Relations Authority decision.

“In accordance with his usual practice he took some of his own tools, which he used for work purposes home with him,” the decision said.

“He took the tools home that he kept in two big boxes and another employee helped him to load the tools boxes into his car.”


Eason had been doing this for years to keep his tools safe after they were stolen in 2009.

He left tools that were too big or that were fixed in the workshop, filing a list of items he owned but which remained at Fabri-Cell.

Fabri-Cell is believed to deal with medical, industrial and safety equipment.

“Mr Eason made no attempt to hide what he was doing as he loaded his tools into his car in front of other employees who knew he was leaving work early that day,” the authority said.

A few days later, one of the company managers, Dianne Ferguson, who had two other employees with her, called Eason into her office.

“Mrs Ferguson handed Mr Eason a dismissal letter which had been signed by her. Mr Eason says he was shocked at his dismissal and didn’t understand why he
was being dismissed when he had already resigned.

“Mr Eason also says he was surprised that it was Mrs Ferguson, in the presence of two other employees who acted as her witnesses, because Mrs Ferguson had never been his manager.”

Ferguson said Eason’s usual manager, company chief executive James Deo, had given her the letter to give to Eason.

The letter said he was being sacked because he told colleagues he was resigning before handing in his written notice; failing to advise of his whereabouts on July 28 and 29, although he had told another colleague he was off sick; submitting annual leave forms for those absences; and removing company property Fabri-Cell argued it owned.

“I find that all of these reasons for dismissing him are without merit. Mr Eason
gave the correct contractual written notice,” said ERA member Rachel Larmer.

Eason provided proof of ownership of the tools, including insurance documents for the tools that were stolen in 2009, as well as receipts for the new tools.

“Mr Eason viewed the allegation about taking company property very seriously.
He says he saw that as an allegation of theft against him, which highly distressed him.

Larmer rejected Fabri-Cell’s assertion that it had bought the business as a going concern so owned all tools used on the premises.

Ferguson acknowledged that the new owners did not communicate that view to staff so Eason had no opportunity to show the new owners the tools he owned.

“Fabri-Cell’s lack of evidence was contrasted with Mr Eason’s detailed evidence
of ownership, which was supported by receipts, photos and other documentation,” the ERA said.

It found that Eason’s sacking was procedurally and substantively unjustified, and that the issues Fabri-Cell raised did not justify dismissal.

The ERA ordered Fabri-Cell to pay Eason $9000 for distress, $3081 holiday pay, $1560 lost remuneration, $1286 legal costs, $483 in wage arrears and a $72 filing fee.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Controversial billionaire Peter Thiel made a Kiwi after two-week holiday

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Controversial billionaire Peter Thiel was made a citizen of New Zealand despite having only lived in the country for 12 days, spread across four short trips.

The revelation – showing surprise citizen Thiel met less than one percent of the typical residency requirement of 1350 days – led Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway to citicise the government’s use of an “exceptional cirumstances” clause to granting citizenship.

“It’s astonishing that someone who has only beeen in the country for such a short period of time should be offered citizenship. This goes beyond exceptional, almost to the point of unbelievable,” he said.

The precise brevity of Thiel’s history in New Zealand was released by the Department of Internal Affairs today after a complaint by RNZ to the Ombudsman over what were claimed to be inappropriate redactions to his citizenship file.

The Ombudsman agreed with RNZ, saying the public interest in the case outweighed any privacy concerns.

Then-Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy invoked an exceptional circumstances clause in 2011, enabling normal requirements for a prospective citizen to have lived – and intend to live – in New Zealand to be waived.

Guy initially said he was unable to recall the case – despite Thiel being the only adult in at least five years to be granted citizenship despite not intending to reside in New Zealand – but later reviewed the file and said he made his decision based on the billionaires’ local investments and philanthropic activity.

The disclosure of Thiel’s citizenship – broken by the Herald as part of inquiries over his $13.5m purchase of a large farming block bordering Lake Wanaka – caused a domestic and international furore.

The opposition Labour Party asked questions in Parliament about whether the matter meant New Zealand citizenship was for sale, with political criticisms intensifying after it was revealed Thiel’s local investments had also been given a generous government subsidy.

A Herald investigation into Thiel’s local activity discovered his chief local investment vehicle, Valar Ventures, had exercised a little-known buyout clause in its partnership with the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund to reap massive profits at the taxpayers’ expense.

The arrangement meant Thiel contributed $7m to the deal, but after its large stake in Xero skyrocketed in value was able to claim all profits from the venture. The move is understood to have led to profits of at least $23m for Thiel, while the NZVIF and taxpayers were left barely breaking even.

Reports obtained under the Official Information Act showed the Government was warned as far back as 2014 about the potential for the Valar Ventures partnership to blow up in their faces.

A consultant told the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment that the arrangement “creates some difficult optics where, in the Valar Ventures example, the taxpayer is offering an American billionaire a loan at less-than-market rates”.

The news of Thiel’s surprise Kiwi citizenship, and developments over the following months, landed the story on the front page of the Financial Times, as well as extensive coverage in the New York Times and the Guardian.

Thiel has not commented publicly on his New Zealand citizenship since the story broke in January, and his representatives today again declined to respond to questions asked by the Herald.

Thiel has become an enormously influential and controversial figure in the United States over the past decade.

He founded online transaction service Paypal, and used the proceeds to make more than US$1 billion from a 2004, US$500,000 investment in a little-known internet startup called Facebook. Thiel retains a seat on the board of the social media giant.

His largest current business investment is in Palantir, a secretive big data analysis firm he co-founded in 2003. The company, backed early by the CIA, works primarily with intelligence agencies to sift through and find patterns in large datasets.

The New Zealand Defence Force, the Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications and Security Bureau were revealed by the Herald in April to have long-standing links with Palantir.

The Herald has complained to the Ombudsman over government spy agencies’ refusal to confirm they contract to use Palantir software, and exactly how lucrative and long-running the contracts have been.

The Ombudsman has provisionally indicated the NZDF would reveal more information about its ties to Palantir, but the SIS and GCSB were maintaining their position that releasing such information would prejudice national security.

Thiel has in more recent years branched out into politics, promoting libertarian causes and being one of the first high-profile backers of then-Republican primary candidate Donald Trump.

His support for life-extension technologies, including the possibility of transfusing blood from young people, has also raised eyebrows. (His New Zealand property holding vehicle, Second Star Ltd, appears to be derived from directions given in Peter Pan stories about how to find Neverland, a realm where children never have to grow old.)

Thiel also gained notoriety in United States media circles after bankrolling a lawsuit by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan against website Gawker. Gawker had in 2007 outed Thiel, and the billionaire and the gossip site had an acrimonious relationship.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald