So whose mistake was this?

December 21st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A review is under way into how $85,000 was mistakenly siphoned from a Palmerston North school’s bank account by the Ministry of Education, forcing it into a $34,000 overdraft.

And was the Ministry at fault?

The ministry says a staff member was paid out of a “Teachers’ Salaries” account throughout the year but Ross changed the funding code so the staff member could be paid out of a “Bulk Grant” account, which was the school’s money.

“Schools sometimes do this as a way of managing their staffing allocation,” Education Payroll services deputy secretary Cathy Magiannis said.

“But when the school did this it made a mistake while entering an instruction into Novopay Online, which resulted in a reversal of the funding code for the whole year.”

So it was user error?

That’s like blaming the bank for going into overdraft, when you asked them to transfer too much money from your account.

Minister responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce released a report this week showing payroll processing was going well, with few complaints.

The December 10 pay run saw 92,962 people paid $227.95 million, with complaints and notifications received by 0.08 per cent of staff compared with 0.19 per cent at the same time last year.

0.08% is remarkably low.

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Australian Quotes of 2014

December 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Blair presents some of his favourite quotes from 2014:

  • “This country is going to cook and people are going to die.” – Greens senator Scott Ludlam.
  • “The next time a woman dies at the hands of a violent partner and we read with trembling hearts that she could not get any legal help to stop that partner, we will be able to sheet the cause of death to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.” – Fairfax’s Jenna Price.
  • “China’s shift towards capitalism creates inequality and anger.” – The ABC’s unique analysis of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • “Thats my boy!” – Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf rejoices over a photograph of his young son holding the head of a dead Syrian soldier.
  • “Our best defence is of course our cultured reason. Our tolerance. Our audacious confidence in the fundamental goodness of others.” – The ABC’s Jonathan Green solves terrorism.
  • “In NZ we are very worried about a potential influx of Australians, you know, escaping heat waves and lack of water and infectious diseases.” – University of Otago climate scientist Simon Hales.
  • “It demonises people.” – Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson would prefer that we do not refer to terrorists as terrorists.
  • “Do you want death or do you want coal?” – Greens leader Christine Milne.

It’s a pity we don’t record the stupidest quotes here. Here’s a good one from the UK:

Prof Lorraine Gamman, director of the University of the Arts London’s Design Against Crime Research Centre, said cracking down on graffiti stifled creativity and denied young people an important form of expression.

Barf.

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Hobbit films longer than the books

December 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Walt Hickey at Five Thirty Eight looks at lengths of movies compared to length of books they are based on.

The only movies which are longer than a minute per page (which you could say is average reading speed) are the three Hobbit films with the third one being 144 minutes of film for 72 pages of a book!

The closest to the Hobbit films is the Great Gatsby which is 143 minutes for 180 pages 0.79 minutes per page.

 

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ISIL publishes rules for women

December 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

You can’t make this up. ISIL have published a pamphlet which is an FAQ on the rules for women. They are:

  • You can take non-Muslim women and children captive
  • You can have sex with prepubescent girls
  • You can sell them as gifts to others
  • If she was a virgin, he (the owner) can have intercourse with her immediately after the ownership is fulfilled
  • If she was not a virgin, her uterus must be purified
  • Two men who co-own a captive can’t both have sex with her
  • A man can’t have intercourse with his wife’s slave
  • It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse
  • It is permissible to buy, sell or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property
  • An impregnated captive cannot be sold
  • Beating a female slave for discipline is OK

Horrendous.

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Assault complaint against an MP

December 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

There are no details as to what the complaint or complaints allege, and whether or not they are recent. Hard to comment without knowing more. Sabin is a former police officer.

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General Debate 21 December 2014

December 21st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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An independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case?

December 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dunedin author Lynley Hood and former National leader Don Brash have written to the new Justice Minister Amy Adams asking for an independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case.

Ellis was convicted on 13 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche.

His supporters have always argued he was convicted on unreliable evidence from children interviewed in a leading way by specialist interviewers.

“We ask you to commission an overseas judge to review the entire case. We believe this is the only realistic option left,” Hood and Brash say in the letter.

The letter says:

- Though more than 20 years have passed since the controversial conviction of Peter Ellis, disquiet over the Civic Creche case remains widespread and ongoing and extends to some of the most senior judges in the country.

- In the history of New Zealand criminal justice, no petition to Parliament has been supported by such a weight of political, legal and scholarly authority as the 2003 petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

I believe the Ellis convictions are very unsafe, and fully support an inquiry into the entire case.

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Dom Post opposes alcohol sponsorship ban

December 20th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Public health researchers use tobacco as a model for alcohol reform. But the comparison is not fair. Alcohol in small amounts is healthy. For most people, it is not especially addictive. There is no similar risk that a few drinks at a young age mean a lifetime chained to the habit.

That is the key difference.

An advertising ban is a heavy-handed move that would cut off a major funding stream for sports teams and suppress diversity in a market that has shown plenty of it recently. (Consider the craft beer explosion, not exactly associated with problem drinking.)

You ban advertising and sponsorship, and you effectively ban new products.

To the extent that regulations can help, they should be carefully targeted at drunkenness and young people. Banning obscene boozing competitions, as the Government did in 2012, justified itself. Curtailing bar hours, as the police are pushing for in Wellington, also has merit. Scrubbing sponsors’ logos from games mostly watched by adults seems like overdoing it.

May the Government drown the report in a vat of craft beer.

The Press and Herald editorials are also sceptical or hostile to the recommendations.

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Fewer NZers leaving than in recent history

December 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

migrationnov14

The latest monthly migrations stats were out yesterday and they show fewer NZers leaving than any other time in the last 20 years, and also a high for Kiwis returning.

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A nation cries again

December 20th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The deaths of eight children – the youngest just 18 months old, the oldest 15 – in their Cairns home yesterday have shocked the Australian nation still reeling from the deadly Sydney siege.

The 34-year-old mother of at least seven of the children was in a stable condition in hospital last night with multiple stab wounds.

Police said they had no formal suspects. They would be interviewing anyone who might have had contact with the family recently. “Everybody who’s had any involvement at all in the past two or three days is a person of interest,” said the Cairns regional crime co-ordinator, Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar.

The injured woman’s cousin, Lisa Thaiday, said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead in the Murray St house in the Housing Commission suburb of Manoora.

He was now being comforted by other family members.

At times, it seems there is no limit to the depravity of man. So very very sad.

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The Sony Pictures board of directors

December 20th, 2014 at 9:26 am by Lindsay Addie

This cartoon by Gary Varvel in my opinion perfectly sums up the Sony Pictures Entertainment board of directors.

gary_varvel_gary_varvel_for_12192014_5_

© Gary Varvel – found at Real Clear Politics

UPDATE:
Barack Obama today spoke about the decision by Sony Pictures.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like,” he said.

The President is a 100% correct.

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It was cyber-war

December 20th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The FBI has confirmed North Korea was behind the cyber attacks on Sony Pictures.

“As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other US Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions,” a FBI statement said.

“While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.”

“We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there,” the FBI said in the brief statement.

“Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE (Sony Pictures Entertainment) reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States.”

The FBI said that it had “determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications.”

“The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.”

While it has seen a rising number of cyber breaches, “the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart,” the FBI said.

It’s at times like this I recall the official policy of the Green Party is to abolish the GCSB, whose role is to protect the New Zealand Government against cyber-attacks.

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General Debate 20 December 2014

December 20th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The Rena report

December 20th, 2014 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

The TAIC report into the Rena is here. A key section:

The Rena’s second mate took over the watch shortly after midnight on 4 October. He calculated that the Rena would arrive at the port of Tauranga pilot station at 0300 at the ship’s then current speed. Times for ships entering and leaving Tauranga Harbour are limited by the depth of water and the strength of the tidal currents in the entrance channel. Tauranga Harbour Control informed the second mate that the latest time the Rena could take the harbour pilot on board was 0300.

The planned course to the Tauranga pilot station was to pass two nautical miles north of Astrolabe Reef before making the final adjustment in course to the pilot station. The second mate decided to reduce the two miles to one mile in order to save time. The second mate then made a series of small course adjustments towards Astrolabe Reef to make the shortcut. In doing so he altered the course 5 degrees past the required track and did not make an
allowance for any compass error or sideways “drift”, and as a consequence the Rena was making a ground track directly for Astrolabe Reef. Meanwhile the master had been woken and arrived on the bridge to prepare for arrival at the port.

The master and second mate discussed preparations for arrival at the pilot station. The master then assumed control of the ship, having received virtually no information on where the ship was, where it was heading, and what immediate dangers to navigation he needed to consider.

During this period of handover no-one was monitoring the position of the ship. At 0214 the Rena ran aground at full speed on Astrolabe Reef.

Bold is mine. Basically just incompetence.

Around 1,300 birds were known to die from the oil spill which followed the crash.  Some say only one in ten are found so it could be as high as 13,000.

To put it in comparison:

 

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Land transport funding

December 19th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Government has released its 2015 government policy statement on land transport. It covers the $3.4b annual spend on land transport.

The total budgeted (using mid points of bands) for the next three years for different activities is:

  1. State highway improvements $3,750 million
  2. State highway maintenance $1,581 million
  3. Local road maintenance $1,485 million
  4. Public transport $1,040 million
  5. Road policing $915 million
  6. Local road improvements $594 million
  7. Regional improvements $225 million
  8. Investment management $171 million
  9. Road safety promotion $103 million
  10. Walking/Cycling improvements $75 million

Looks pretty well balanced. I wouldn’t mind seeing less on road policing and more on road maintenance and improvements!

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The Westminster allegations

December 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Scotland Yard is investigating the alleged murders of three young boys by a VIP paedophile ring after a “credible” witness came forward to detail his abuse at the hands of Conservative politician, police said today.

The man – known only as Nick -has claimed that a Conservative MP murdered a boy during a sex attack, and a second boy was killed by a ring of abusers active in the late 1970s and 80s.

He claims that a third boy was deliberately run down in a car, which he said was a direct warning to him to keep quiet, according to an account given to investigative journalism website Exaro.

Police yesterday appealed for more witnesses to come forward. Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the lead officer for the operation, said that Nick had been spoken to by murder detectives and specialist child abuse investigators.

“They and I believe what Nick is saying to be credible and true hence why we are investigating the allegations he has made to us.

“I appeal to men who were subjected to abuse 30 years ago to come forward. We are also investigating the murder of three young boys – we are determined to find answers.”

Nick – whose real name has not been disclosed – has claimed that he was abused from the age of seven to 16 by groups of men, including at parties and at places across London and the Home Counties including military bases.

It sounds too horrific to be true, but you can never be certain. There’s a long history to these allegations, with files having been destroyed etc.

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E-cigarettes more effective than nicotine patches

December 19th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Electronic cigarettes are more effective at helping smokers to quit tobacco when they contain nicotine, a review of studies has found.

The review by the international Cochrane Collaboration includes two trials in which smokers were randomised to groups using different kinds of electronic cigarettes or quit-smoking therapy. One of these trials was based at Auckland University, the other in Italy.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device which, when the user takes a drag, produces a vapour. They can be run with or without nicotine.

Dr Chris Bullen, an author of the Cochrane review and a researcher on the Auckland University trial, which followed participants for six months, said the trial found 7.3 per cent of those using e-cigarettes containing nicotine had quit tobacco. The quit rate was 5.8 per cent in the nicotine patches group and 4.1 per cent among those using non-nicotine e-cigarettes.

If your aim is to reduce smoking rates, then you should support e-cigarettes.

Also of interest:

New Zealand researchers have shown that a low-cost, Soviet-era quit-smoking pill is more effective than nicotine-replacement therapy.

Forty per cent of smokers who took the cytisine pills had been “continuously abstinent” in the month after their nominated quit day, significantly more than the 31 per cent on NRT.

Sounds very promising. Helping those who want to quit, to quit, is a good thing.

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Sony capitulates to blackmail

December 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Hollywood has publicly condemned Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel release of the film at the heart of the hacking crisis, calling it an ignominious blow to freedom of speech, but some are quietly relieved at the removal of a threat to the Christmas box office.

Actors, directors and writers erupted in anger and scorn on Wednesday night after the studio announced it no longer planned to release The Interview, a comedy which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, because of terrorist threats to cinemagoers.

The wave of indignation called the decision un-American, spineless, disgraceful and a dangerous precedent, with some comparing it to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler.

“Wow. Everyone caved. The hackers won. A complete and utter victory for them. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today,” tweeted the actor Rob Lowe, citing the British prime minister who abandoned Czechoslovakia to the Nazis.

It is a very sad day for freedom of expression. It tells the bad guys that threats and blackmail do work.

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A video from the next US Ambassador to NZ

December 19th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A nice effort. Ambassador Gilbert was confirmed by the US Senate on the 12th of December in a voice vote. he is fortunate to have had the nomination confirmed before the control of the Senate changed. He would have still been confirmed, but a vote may not have occurred for many more months.

Personally I think it is silly the US Senate still confirms Ambassadors. In the 1700s and 1800s Ambassadors were very powerful positions as they could not communicate with their home Governments quickly, and would often negotiate major issues of behalf of their countries. Now their positions are much less important. They are still important positions, but they do not set policy in any way.

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Fact checking US politicians and Vladimir Putin

December 19th, 2014 at 9:22 am by Lindsay Addie

One of my favourite political blogs is Glenn Kessler’s at the Washington Post who awards Pinnochios (from one to four) for porkies and lies told by politicians’. Here is a sample of Kessler’s biggest whoopers from 2014.

They aren’t in any particular order.

Barack Obama: “I didn’t call the Islamic State a ‘JV’ team”

President Obama repeated a claim, crafted by the White House communications team, that he was not “specifically” referring to the Islamic State terror group when he dismissed the militants who had taken over Fallujah as a “JV squad.” But The Fact Checker had obtained the previously unreleased transcript of the president’s interview with The New Yorker, and it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing.

JV means junior varsity. He didn’t seem to be aware that ISIS (ISIL) were a major threat in the Middle East then told a porky about his previous comments.

Rand Paul: “John McCain met with Islamic State terrorists”

Intraparty slap downs are pretty rare, but Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have radically different foreign policy views. With no evidence but Internet rumors, some promoted by liberal groups, Paul declared that McCain unknowingly met with members of the Islamic State — and even had photographs taken — when he had slipped across the border with Syria to meet with rebel forces. But the claim was proven to be absolutely false. As we said as the time, “there are days when we regret we are limited to just Four Pinocchios.”

Paul clearly had a severe bout of foot and mouth disease on this one.

Barack Obama: “Republicans have filibustered 500 pieces of legislation”

President Obama former senator, got quite a few things wrong here. He spoke of legislation that would help the middle class, but he was counting cloture votes that mostly involved judicial and executive branch nominations. Moreover, he counted all the way back to 2007, meaning he even included votes in which he, as senator, voted against ending debate — the very thing he decried in his remarks. At best, he could claim the Republicans had blocked about 50 bills, meaning he was off by a factor of ten.

I’ll give the President the benefit of the doubt and opine that he was merely repeating what his researchers/speech writers told him to say. It is still a clumsy attempt though to a score political point.

John Boehner: “There’s been a net loss of people with health insurance”

Nope. Boehner added apples and then subtracted oranges. At the point he made the statement, it was clear that the net gain was in the millions.

Boehner was talking about Obamacare. As in the case of the previous lie, Boehner was using shoddy research to try and score a political point.

Vladimir Putin: “A referendum was held in Crimea in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech announcing the annexation of Crimea that was full of whoppers, but none more so than his claim about the referendum. The referendum was rushed, political opposition was squelched, and the choices did not allow for a “no.” (The options were either joining Russia — what the ballot called “reunification” — or remaining part of Ukraine with greater autonomy, effectively making the region independent in all but name.) Moreover, the Crimea vote met none of the conditions for a referendum in the Ukrainian constitution. Clearly it’s time for a fact-checking organization in Russia.

This for me is the biggest lie on Kessler’s list. Putin would have real trouble convincing most people he’s a true believer in democracy and freedom of speech.

Note that Kessler provides web links to all the original stories. It is a pity that no one in New Zealand fact checks politicians on a regular basis.

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General Debate 19 December 2014

December 19th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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A Raglan to Sydney cable

December 19th, 2014 at 6:54 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Spark, Vodafone and Telstra today confirmed a less ambitious plan to lay a separate subsea communications cable between Raglan and Sydney at a cost of US$70 million, which the companies said would make New Zealand’s international connections more varied and secure.

The three companies said they would start construction of the 2300 kilometre Tasman Global Access cable early next year and expected to complete it by the middle of 2016.

French multinational Alcatel-Lucent has been awarded the contract to lay the cable, which will comprise two pairs of optical-fibre with a total capacity of 20 terabits per second.

That’s a lot. By comparison Southern Cross has capacity of around 12 Tb/s (of which around 3.6 are lit).

20 Tb/s would allow one million users to be pulling 20 Mb/s each.

Good to see some increased competition in the cable area.

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NZ showing how reform can occur

December 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Oliver Hartwich wrote in the Spectator:

Rarely does a government manage to build a positive narrative around the policy changes it implements. However, there are exceptions to this rule, or at least one exception: New Zealand.

At a time when many commentators have given up on the possibility of pro-market reforms, the New Zealand government under Prime Minister John Key demonstrates that they are still possible. More than that, Key shows how despite his government’s reformist zeal it managed to get re-elected not once but twice already.

In my new monograph Quiet Achievers: The New Zealand Path to Reform, published this week, I try to dissect Key’s political management and his leadership style. What I hoped to find were lessons for economic reforms that could be applicable to other countries, whether in the eurozone or in Australia. There are quite a few.

There are two types of reforms. The first are those reforms that are undertaken when there is no alternative, or at least no plausible one. The classic example is Margaret Thatcher’s radical turnaround of Britain. Following the winter of discontent, there really was no choice but to move on from the country’s post-war, half-planned economic model.

The labour market reforms under German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2003 fall in the same category of reform, for lack of a better alternative. As unemployment numbers exceeded five million people, something had to be done. Closer to home, both Australia and New Zealand went for a radical restructuring of their economies in the 1980s and 1990s because circumstances were dire and something had to give.

These emergency-driven reforms constitute what I would call ‘pathological learning’. Policy mistakes are finally corrected only when circumstances have become so dire that even the greatest reform-deniers cannot block change. Eurozone reforms fall into this category as well. We can praise the heroes of such reforms, but their job is comparatively easy. What is far harder to achieve is to lead economic change when conditions are not quite catastrophic yet.

Australia’s more recent experience is a good illustration of this problem. Given the mining and terms-of-trade boom, it was hard to make the case for any policy changes. Instead, the temptation was there to use the proceeds of the boom on new government spending programmes.

Commentators like The Australian’s Paul Kelly and (ex-)politicians like former finance minister Lindsay Tanner have expressed their concerns about this. They argue that our political culture with its short attention spans and focus on headlines and sound bites has made good policy-making difficult, absent a major crisis which forces political action. They certainly have a point.

This is where the New Zealand counter-example is worth examining. True, the last few years of the Global Financial Crisis and the devastating Canterbury earthquakes have hit New Zealand hard. However, the situation was not so bad that it left Key without alternatives. He could have easily used these crises as an excuse to allow his budget to blow out or introduce emergency taxes. In fact, that was very Australia’s response to the GFC and the Queensland floods. Remember the giant stimulus packages and the so-called flood levy?

Instead, Key and his finance minister Bill English did the opposite of such populist activism. They quietly steered New Zealand onto a more sustainable economic path. They kept budgets tight, undertook a substantial overhaul of the welfare system, started an experiment with charter schools, part-privatised some state-owned enterprises, cut income taxes and increased consumption taxes.

It was a combination of policies that did not only put the budget back on a credible path to surplus. It also increased New Zealand’s competitiveness, which has now surpassed Australia’s. It created economic growth and tens of thousands of new jobs.

 

The surplus is not quite there yet, but Hartwich is right that there has been significant reforms in the last six years.

How did the Kiwis do it? How did John Key get away with so much reform?

The answer I have come to in Quiet Achievers is simple. Shunning any reform rhetoric or political grandstanding, Key quietly and slowly goes about his reform business. Reforms are carefully crafted while the public is prepared for upcoming changes and informed why they are necessary. In this way, the reforms are building their own constituency and by the time they are implemented, the measures appear imminently commonsensical. Key’s strategy is one of incremental, silent radicalism.

New Zealand proves that reforms, even in mature democracies, are still possible. They should be possible in Australia as well where they are much needed. Australia has not implemented any substantial economic reforms since the introduction of the GST in July 2000.

For any political leaders wishing to embark on a process of economic reform, whether in Australia or in Europe, a look at New Zealand may well be inspirational.

The welfare reforms are an excellent example of this.

But while there has been good progress in a number of areas, the need for reform is continual, and further reform is needed – especially around land availability.

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Wasteful US Government spending

December 18th, 2014 at 3:31 pm by Lindsay Addie

Following on from DPF’s post about the Cromnibus Bill passing through the US Congress and all its pork. Here are some examples of the crazy spending by the US Government.

The source is the retiring Senator Tom Coburn a Republican from Oklahoma who annually has been releasing a Wastebook of spending.

Here’s a shortlist of some actual examples Coburn has highlighted

Coast guard party patrols – $100,000
Watching grass grow – $10,000
State department tweets @ terrorists – $3 million
Swedish massages for rabbits – $387,000
Paid vacations for bureaucrats gone wild – $20 million
Mountain lions on a treadmill – $856,000
Synchronized swimming for sea monkeys – $50,000
Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition — $1 billion
Scientists hope monkey gambling unlocks secrets of free will –$171,000
Rich and famous rent out their luxury pads tax free – $10 million
Studying “hangry” spouses stabbing voodoo dolls – $331,000
Promoting U.S. culture around the globe with nose flutists – $90 million

Talk about big government gone mad!

 

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What was in the Cromnibus

December 18th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

You may have heard about the US Congress passing a cromnibus bill – which is a continuing resolution (to pay the bills) bill and anything else a Representative or Senator can sneak in.

My former flatmate, Kevin Doyle, of Wexford Strategies, has published a list of some of things included in the bill:

  • Prohibits chickens from China in school lunches.
  • Prohibits funds for portrait-painting of elected officials.
  • Requires heating modernization for Kaiserstautern, Germany military base must include US coal.
  • Blocks DC recreational marijuana proposition, which was passed by referendum in Nov. 2014.
  • Clarifies that Interior Secretary may make agreements regarding long-term care of excess wild horses and burros.
  • Mandates that minimum 50% of BSEE fees be used for development of Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Clarifies that breast feeding is allowed anywhere in federal buildings.
  • Bars “federal agency monitoring of individuals’ internet use.”
  • Removes funds for placing the Sage Grouse on the Endangered Species List.
  • Bars federal contracts with inverted domestic corporations.
  • Explicitly bars IRS targeting for ideological beliefs or exercise of First Amendment rights.
  • Authorizes assistance to Syrian opposition to combat ISIL.
  • Extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act until Oct. 1, 2015.
  • Prohibits funding of salaries for the White House Director of Health Reform and Assistant for Energy and Climate Change.
  • Prohibits funds for the NSA to acquire, monitor or store electronic communications of US person under FISA.
  • Requires all US Attorneys in Task Force to combat human trafficking.
  • Prohibits funding for inspecting horse slaughter facilities for horse meat for human consumption.
  • Explicitly prohibits use of funds to support or justify use of torture by any US official.
  • Blocks the Air Force from retiring the A-10 close-air support aircraft and U-2 spy plane.
  • Prohibits funds for abortion under the federal employees health benefits program.
  • Freezes pay for the Vice President and senior political appointees.
  • Prohibits funding to require that entities bidding for federal contracts disclose campaign contributions.
  • Prohibits funding for all agencies in the bill, including the IRS, to be used for activities in contravention of the Federal Records Act, such as inappropriately destroying documents.
  • Requires Executive Orders issued during fiscal year 2015 to include a budgetary impact statement.
  • Establishes additional reporting requirements to increase transparency of the activities of agencies whose funding jurisdiction fall outside annual congressional review, including the Office of Financial Stability and the Office of Financial Research.
  • Requires that the Office of Management and Budget report on the costs to the government of Dodd-Frank financial reform.

Thank God we have a more sane system of Government. Parliament’s Standing Orders wouldn’t allow an omnibus bill like this. Only very minor amendments that have no significant policy effect can be included in an omnibus bill in NZ.

 

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