Comedy Festival: Spyfinger!

May 6th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Went to Spyfinger! at Bats last night. Was my first time there since their massive renovations (thanks Sir Peter Jackson) and it looks great. A larger and better located bar and multiple venues.

Spyfinger! is a parody of spy films, and they carried off their show with charm and a near zero budget. They are to theatre, what Southpark is to animation – done on the cheap, but very funny.

Instead of using actual special effects, they just verbalise them. So when in Iceland, and playing an Icelander they just say “Icelandic, Incelandic, Icelandic”. It actually works and is very funny.

spyfinger

It’s a cast of three – Hannah Banks, Alex Greig and Paul Waggott, directed by Uther Dean.

In a sixty minute performance they entertain through a series of puns and scenes. Some highlights:

  • The villain showing the various torture methods, including torture by revealing Games of Thrones spoilers. The look of anguish on the hero’s face is priceless.
  • Managing to work into the script a reference to the title of every James Bond movie ever made
  • The skydiving scene – played out on the floor
  • The final line of the show
  • The references to ponytails
  • The slow motion fight scenes

It’s a fun wee show that doesn’t take itself seriously. If you’re a James Bond fan, you’ll enjoy this. It’s on Saturday 9 May, every evening at 7 pm.

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The list gets longer

May 6th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. Kristina Ruehli, 1965
  2. Sunni Wells, mid 1960s
  3. Carla Ferrigno, 1967
  4. Linda Brown, 1969
  5. Cindra Ladd, after 1969
  6. Joan Tarshis, 1969
  7. Victoria Valentino, 1970
  8. Louisa Moritz, 1971
  9. Donna Motsinger, 1971
  10. Katherine McPhee, 1970s
  11. Tamara Green, 1970s
  12. Linda Joy Traitz, 1970s
  13. Helen Hayes, 1973
  14. Judy Huth, 1974
  15. Margie Shapiro, 1975
  16. Shawn Brown, mid 1970s
  17. Therese Serignese, 1976
  18. P J Masten, 1979
  19. Linda Kirkpatrick, 1981
  20. Renita Chaney Hill, 1982
  21. Janice Dickinson, 1982
  22. Joyce Emmons, early 1980s
  23. Lynn Neal, early 1980s
  24. Beth Ferrier, 1984
  25. Sammie Mays, mid 1980s
  26. Beverly Johnson, mid 1980s
  27. Heidi Thomas, 1984
  28. Chelan, 1985
  29. Barbara Bowman, 1986
  30. Helen Gumpel, 1987
  31. Jewel Allison, late 1980s
  32. Lisa Jones, 1986
  33. Lisa, 1988
  34. Lise-Lotte Lublin, 1989
  35. Jena T, 1989
  36. Lilli Bernard, 1992
  37. Angela Leslie, 1992
  38. Kacey, 1990s
  39. Michelle Hurd, mid 1990s
  40. Lachele Covington, 2000
  41. Andrea Constand, 2004
  42. Chloe Goins, 2008
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Nobody knows why Cameron wants to be PM

May 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting critique by Peter Saunders of the CIS:

This UK election campaign has been the most tepid and uninspiring I can remember.  Everyone seems bored. 

Support for Labour and Conservatives has hardly flickered (both stuck around 33%).  Barring some last minute seismic shift, Britain is heading for another hung Parliament, this time with the socialists of the Scottish National Party holding the balance of power.  They will back Labour.

The Tories have run an ineffective campaign.  They’ve targeted Miliband, but the Labour leader performed well in TV debates and his ratings are up (from minus 52% to minus 18%!).  Voters say the Tories have been too negative.

With the economy apparently strengthening, the Conservatives should have had a positive story to tell.  Growth is the strongest in Europe.  Two million new private sector jobs have been created (more than in the rest of the EU put together).  Real wages are recovering.  The deficit has halved (though debt is still huge).  This should be enough to win an election.

The Tory campaign has been based on no one wanted Miliband as PM. But Miliband has performed okay in the campaign. I agree that they should have been campaigning on the economy more.

The Conservatives seem ashamed of their successes.  Four hundred free schools have been founded, 4,000 schools have become self-governing academies freed from local council control, and education standards at last are rising.  But none of this gets mentioned (Cameron sacked his Education Minister to appease the teacher unions).

Always a mistake, appeasement.

Week after week, the focus is on the NHS (Labour’s strong suit) and immigration (where the Tories are outflanked by UKIP).  Voters have been left wondering: What do the Conservatives stand for? 

In a telling blunder, Cameron this week forgot the name of the football team he claims to support.  It was symptomatic of his lack of belief in anything.  He wants to be Prime Minister.  But nobody knows why.

They may get the largest number of seats, but with the SNP likely to win almost every seat in Scotland, this puts Labour in the stronger position. However a UK Government propped by a party that wants to dissolve the UK is unlikely to be stable or popular!

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Parliament 6 May 2015

May 6th, 2015 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the outlook for the New Zealand economy?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in his Ministers’ implementation of the Whānau Ora programme in light of the Auditor-General’s report finding $42 million of its $138 million budget in its first four years was spent on administration?
  3. TODD MULLER to the Minister for Social Housing: What recent announcements have been made about the next steps of the Government’s Social Housing Reform Programme?
  4. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements in relation to the Budget?
  5. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement in relation to trade with Saudi Arabia that an “…FTA gives us yet another reason for those relationships to grow and be closer together…”?
  6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement in regards to Whānau Ora, “They have to be ambitious themselves – it’s a higher trust model and it has the potential to deliver better results not only for families, but also for taxpayers who are not currently getting the value for money they should be.”?
  7. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his answers to Oral Question No. 12 yesterday?
  8. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister for Communications: What progress can she report on the rollout of the Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives?
  9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he still accept assurances from officials that concrete used in New Zealand is fit for purpose?
  10. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Are patients receiving through New Zealand’s healthcare system the health care recommended by their medical practitioner; if not, why not?
  11. MELISSA LEE to the Minister of Education: What is the Government doing today to recognise the educational achievements of young New Zealanders?
  12. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY to the Minister of Education: Has she been consulted on education being included in the Trade in Service Agreement (TiSA); if so, have any concerns been expressed that this agreement could lead to foreign corporations suing New Zealand in relation to education provision?

National: Four patsies on the economy, social housing, broadband and education

Labour: Four questions on Whanau Ora, the Budget, yesterday’s question time and health

Greens: Two questions on Saudia Arabia and TISA

NZ First: Two questions on Whanau Ora and concrete

There are also three questions to members:

  1. Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: Further to her answer to Question to Members No. 1 yesterday, how many people has she requested appear before the committee who submitted using the process she described as a form submission out of those who submitted using the process she described as a form submission in total?
  2. Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: Further to her answer to Question to Members No. 1 yesterday, how many people has she requested appear before the committee who submitted using the process she described as a form submission and how many people who made such a request has she not requested appear?
  3. Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: Further to her answer to Question to Members No. 1 yesterday, did she ascertain whether the individuals asking to appear were former services personnel by reading the submission before deciding whether or not to request their appearance?

General Debate 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm

12 speeches of up to five minutes each for a maximum of one hour

Local Bills 4.00 pm onwards

Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust Bill – committee stage

The bill provides legal foundations for The Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust Board to continue to be able to respond to, and recover from, the impact of the earthquakes.

 

  • Introduced June 2014
  • 1st reading: June 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: March 2015, supported as amended, without dissent
  • 2nd reading: April 2015, passed unanimously

There is no set time for the committee stage, but as a non controversial bill, it should not take long.

Christchurch City Council (Rates Validation) Bill – committee stage

The bill validates the irregularities with respect to the setting of the Christchurch City Council’s rates (including the specified rates) for the financial years 2003/2004 to 2012/2013 (inclusive) and the penalties added to unpaid rates for those financial years.

  • Introduced: May 2014
  • 1st reading: May 2014, passed 119-1 with Mana against
  • SC report: March 2015, supported without amendment or dissent
  • 2nd reading: April 2015, passed unanimously

There is no set time for the committee stage, but as a non controversial bill, it should not take long.

Maiden Speech – 5.45 pm to 6.00 pm

NZ First List MP Ria Bond

 Members Bills 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Social Security (Clothing Allowances for Orphans and Unsupported Children) Amendment Bill – third reading

The bill amends the Social Security Act 1964 to establish a clothing allowance for children whose caregivers receive an Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit. The entitlement is intended to parallel the clothing allowance for foster children. It is in the name of NZ First MP Tracey Martin.

  • Introduced: December 2012
  • 1st reading: October 2013, passed unanimously
  • Select committee report: June 2014, supported without dissent
  • 2nd reading: March 2015, passed unanimously
  • Committee of the whole House: April 2015, passed unanimously after two amendments were defeated

The third reading is a debate of 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes each for a maximum of two hours.

Underground Coal Mining Safety Bill – first reading

This bill requires the immediate adoption of the Queensland framework for mine safety. It is in the name of Labour MP Damien O’Connor.

Introduced: October 2013

The debate can last up t0 65 minutes with two speeches up up to 10 minutes, eight speeches of up to five minutes and a five minute right of reply.

Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds) Amendment Bill – first reading

The bill amends the Electoral Act 1993 to adjust the party vote thresholds from 5% to 4% and remove the electorate seat threshold. It is in the name of Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway

Introduced: November 2014

 

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Always proof-read!

May 6th, 2015 at 1:04 pm by David Farrar

An advertising agency I worked for once produced an annual report for the Pubic Trust instead of the Public Trust!

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Another 16,000 jobs this quarter

May 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The latest employment data from Stats NZ shows:

  • 16,000 more jobs this quarter
  • 74,000 more jobs in the last year of which 60,000 are full-time
  • Labour force participation rate at new high of 69.6%
  • Unemployment rate steady at 5.8%
  • An extra 15,900 manufacturing jobs over a year ago (don’t forget the crisis!)
  • The number of hours worked have increased 9.7% over three years ago
  • Salary rates up 1.7% in last year (while inflation is just 0.1%)
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Auditor-General on Whanau Ora

May 6th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Auditor-General reports:

I chose to report on Whānau Ora because it is an example of innovation and new thinking in service delivery. Whānau Ora was an opportunity for providers of health and social services in the community to operate differently and to support families in deciding their best way forward.

Whānau Ora has been a success for many families who now have a plan to improve their lives. For example, some whānau are working towards getting their young people living and working on their ancestral land. The government spending to achieve this has been small, but the importance for the whānau is significant.

Bringing whānau members together to prepare plans seems to have had benefits that are wider than the plans themselves. For example, reconnected whānau members not only provide each other with support but have also learned where skills and expertise already lie within the whānau. Some whānau have also gained shared experience in goal setting, planning, and managing projects and budgets to achieve their goals.

We wanted to clarify for Parliament and the public what Whānau Ora is, where the funding has gone, and what Whānau Ora has achieved after four years. It was not easy to describe what it is or what it has achieved.

We could not get a consistent explanation of the aims of the initiatives in Whānau Ora from the joint agencies or other people that we spoke to. So far, the situation has been unclear and confusing to many of the public entities and whānau.

So it has been beneficial for many families, but there is no clarity on what the aims are, and how one would define success.

During the first four years, total spending on Whānau Ora was $137.6 million. Delays in spending meant that some of the funds originally intended for whānau and providers did not reach them. Nearly a third of the total spending was on administration (including research and evaluation). In my view, Te Puni Kōkiri could have spent a greater proportion of funds on those people – whānau and providers – who Whānau Ora was meant to help.

A third on admin is far too high. Around 10% should be the aim.

I have no doubt that some commentators will make light of the successes described in this report and make much of the criticisms. However, an innovative idea should not be abandoned just because of implementation problems. I earnestly hope that those involved with the next phase of Whānau Ora are able to take my criticisms on board and learn from them.

Whanau Ora shouldn’t be scrapped necessarily, but it needs to be significantly improved with greater clarity of aims, and greatly reduced administration costs.

Pouring a third of the money intended for families into bureaucracy benefits no-one, but the bureaucracy.

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An innovative prison

May 6th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cells in all New Zealand jails may soon be fitted out with phones and computers in a bid to boost prisoners’ educational levels so that they can get jobs and stop reoffending after their release.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga is welcoming a controversial decision by British prison operator Serco to put phones and computers into every standard cell in its new $270 million jail for 960 men, which opens at Wiri in South Auckland on Friday.

This is the private prison provider that Labour and Greens vow to close down, regardless of how successful it is.

Prisoners will use the phones to make pre-arranged calls to family members and services such as counselling, but they will not be able to receive calls and their outgoing calls will be monitored. They will use the computers for study, to book appointments and even to change their meal menus.

“We believe that prisoners with access to this electronic learning tool are going to be more successful in increasing their education and skills. It is an advance I would like to see in all New Zealand prisons,” Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

Some prisoners can not be rehabilitated, but some can. If a prisoner can get a job after prison, this reduces the chance of re-offending.

But Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar said he was “appalled” by the move, saying it would actually create an incentive to offend.

“My grandchildren are out selling firewood to pay for their computers to learn their computer skills in school,” he said. “Why not take a shortcut and wait until you’ve committed a crime and then you get it all on the taxpayer?”

With respect, I don’t think anyone is going to be deciding to commit crimes just so they can go to prison to access a computer!

Prisons already have computers. This is about having one available in each cell, rather than just in the communal areas.

Serco Asia-Pacific operations manager Scott McNairn said the computers were part of a “responsible prisoner” approach, aimed at giving prisoners the education and skills needed to get jobs, homes, a driver’s licence and other things they would need to live a law-abiding life after serving their time.

“Prisoners will be able to manage their own affairs, book their [family] visits, book their appointments, book their food,” he said.

Sounds good. And one of the reasons why it is good to have an innovate private provider.

The Open Polytechnic has created interactive educational software designed to encourage students who may not have had a successful education experience and who have low language or maths literacy. The Howard League, which campaigns for penal reform, says 50 to 60 per cent of prisoners are functionally illiterate.

The software has been tested using tablets with 10 prisoners at Serco’s Mt Eden Prison, where one inmate said his letters improved so much that his partner thought someone else was writing them for him.

Cool.

Serco said Wiri prisoners would use fixed television screens that double as computers, each with a keypad and mouse. They will not have internet access.

That would be unwise.

Serco has a 25-year, $840 million contract bound by 1475 pages of conditions including $600,000 penalties for security breaches such as a killing or a riot, matched by bonuses of up to $1.5 million a year if it cuts reoffending to at least 10 to 15 per cent below the average of other New Zealand jails.

This is what Labour and Greens want to scrap!

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Auckland households to pay 9.5% more

May 6th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland households are facing a steep rates rise of about 9.5 per cent to pay for Mayor Len Brown’s latest budget plan.

The mayor has released some details of the plan he outlined last Thursday, which included a general rates increase of 2.5 per cent and a targeted rate of about 4 per cent to top up spending on transport.

But because of new valuations and a lowering of business rates, it has emerged the combined impact of the general and targeted rate on households will be in the region of 9.5 per cent. This is a steep increase from an earlier 5.6 per cent average rates rise for households.

At a time when inflation is just 0.1%. Disgraceful.

The $99 flat charge for the targeted rate will have a bigger impact on poorer suburbs, where rates will rise by 11.5 per cent for houses valued at $500,000 – well below the average sales price of $804,282 recorded by Barfoot & Thompson last month.

And this is a Council controlled by the caring left.

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General Debate 6 May 2015

May 6th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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2014 donation returns

May 6th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission has published the 2014 donation returns. Some interesting aspects:

Donations from Large Donors (over $15,000)

  1. Internet $3,500,000
  2. Conservatives $2,966,000
  3. National $1,084,955
  4. Internet Mana $656,227
  5. Greens $451,662
  6. ACT $322,178
  7. Maori $260,252
  8. Labour $251,000
  9. NZ First $37,618
  10. Focus NZ $22,456

So Labour had so few donations from donors who wanted to be named, they were in 8th place behind everyone but NZ First!

However it is different when you include smaller donors between $1,500 and $15,000 also.

Total Donations from donors over $1,500 are:

  1. National $3,977,537
  2. Internet $3,500,000
  3. Conservatives $2,971,000
  4. Greens $969,384
  5. Labour $939,411
  6. ACT $726,187
  7. Internet Mana $656,227
  8. Maori $420,000
  9. NZ First $132,156
  10. Mana $31,194
  11. Focus NZ $22,880
  12. ALCP $9,138

Of interest is that Labour still received fewer donations than the Greens!

So what proportion of a party’s donations over $1,500 come from large donors (over $15,000). They are:

  1. Conservatives 100%
  2. Internet Mana 100%
  3. Internet 100%
  4. Focus NZ 90%
  5. Maori 62%
  6. Greens 47%
  7. ACT 44%
  8. NZ First 28%
  9. Labour 27%
  10. National 27%

Both Labour and National get only a quarter of their significant donation income from large donors. The rest comes from medium sized donors.

With National, they also get millions from party members subscriptions which are under $1,500 each. So I suspect that overall less than 20% of their income comes from major donors.

Labour’s major donors were almost all unions. They got $162,000 from unions.

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A Servant to Two Masters

May 5th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Circa’s production of A Servant to Two Masters has been my favourite show to date of 2015.

The play was written in 1743, and was adapted by award winning playwright Lee Hall in 1999. It may be 275 years old, but it is still hilarious.

The play has nine characters. They are:

  • Beatrice, whose brother was killed by her lover Florindo – played by Kathleen Burns
  • Pantaloon, who is searching for Beatrice – played by Richard Dey
  • Clarice, who was engaged to Beatrice’s brother – played by Acushla-Tara Sutton
  • Silvio, now engaged to Clarice, played by Jack Buchanan
  • Dr Lombardi, father of Silvio, played by Stephen Gledhill
  • Pantaloon, father of Clarice, played by Patrick Davies
  • Brigjella, an innkeeper, played by Gavin Rutherford
  • Smeraldina, Clarice’s maid, played by Keagan Carr-Fransch
  • Truffaldino, the servant to both Beatrice and Pantaloon

Servant-1_show_embed_large

Photo from Circa

The star of the show is of course Truffaldino who desperately tries to earn money and feed himself, while serving both masters. He acts, sings, juggles and performs superbly. A very physical performance.

But the show is not just about Truffaldino. You have no less than three love stories in play, plus some grasping parents. Also of course is whether Beatrice’s disguise as her dead brother will be discovered.

The play runs for 140 minutes (with an interval) but not once did it seem slowly paced. In between the comedic elements, the plot advances at an intriguing pace.

Simon Leary as Truffaldino is the star of the show, but the whole cast performed really well, and Ross Jolly’s direction had the play flow very smoothly. Special mention must also be made of Kathleen Burns who excelled in playing Beatrice pretending to be her brother.

As I said my favourite show to date of 2015, and one I can recommend to anyone who enjoys a great comedy. It may be 275 years old, but good comedy is timeless.

 

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Civil Unions dying off

May 5th, 2015 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

The latest marriage and civil union stats are out.

There were only 69 civil unions in the year to March 2015. Down from 124 the previous year and 358 the year prior to that. 40 of the civil unions were opposite sex couples and 29 same sex couples.

Marriages are increasing – 23,146 in the last year, up from 22,629 and 22,121. Thats a 2.3% increase in the last year.

Opposite-sex marriages are up 1.3%, and same-sex marriages up 34%.

Of the 23,146 marriages, 96.1% were for opposite sex couples, and 3.9% for same sex couples. There were a total of 982 same sex marriages in the last year.

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April 2015 public polls

May 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

apr15polls

The parties are very close to where they were three years ago with Labour and Greens down slightly and NZ First up.

The executive summary of the newsletter is:

There were three political voting polls in April – a Roy Morgan, a One News Colmar Brunton and a NZ Herald DigiPoll.

 The average of the public polls has National 19% ahead of Labour in April, up 3% from March. The current seat projection is centre-right 61 seats, centre-left 50 which would see a National-led Government.

In the United States Obama’s approval rating for foreign policy increases on the back of the draft Iran deal.  The country direction remains strongly negative. Jeb Bush remains just ahead of Scott Walker in support for the Republican nomination.

In the UK the Conservatives look likely to win more seats than Labour on 7 May but Labour appears to be in a better position to form Government as the SNP are on track to win almost every seat in Scotland, and have said they will not allow the Conservatives to govern.

In Australia the Coalition regain a bit of support, but still trail Labor. Abbott’s approval ratings have improved significantly but remain negative – as do Bill Shorten’s.

In Canada the Conservatives are better placed than a year ago to retain power, as they enter the final six months before the October 19 election.

The normal three tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment, head of government approval and opposition leader approval sentiment for the five countries.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on Ports of Auckland, the NZ Flag, the surplus, Iraq and euthanasia plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please e-mail newsletter@curia.co.nz with your name, organization (if applicable) and e-mail address or go to this page to subscribe yourself.

 

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Mana manages to get even dumber

May 5th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Joe Trinder, the editor of Mana News, writes:

The Tamaki redevelopment company is broken up into three shareholders Auckland council, Bill English and Nick Smith.  Both English and Smith own 29.5% of the shares while Auckland council own 41%.

On the companies office website the shareholders for The Tamaki redevelopment company limited click here

Is this a blatant attempt by government ministers  to enrich themselves by selling off state owned assets for personal gain?

This is a level of stupidity that matches Asenati Lole-Taylor demanding the Reserve Bank no longer be foreign owned.

Anyone who is not moronic would know (or check) that the Ministers are shareholders in their capacity as Ministers, not in a personal capacity.

Now this isn’t some random blogger. This is the editor of the official news site for the Mana political party, which almost ended up in Government last election (thanks Kelvin for stopping them!).

And they wonder why they do not get taken seriously.

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Parliament 5 May 2015

May 5th, 2015 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, why?
  2. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on low inflation in New Zealand, and how does that benefit households and businesses?
  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he enforce high standards of conduct on all his Ministers, including himself?
  4. DAVID SEYMOUR to the Minister for Economic Development:What are the fiscal risks to the Crown from Tracey Martin’s New Zealand International Convention Centre Act 2013 Repeal Bill, if any?
  5. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Minister of Science and Innovation: What is the Government doing to grow business-led research and development?
  6. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement in relation to achieving a surplus that it is like “landing a 747 on a pinhead”?
  7. SARAH DOWIE to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: How will Budget 2015 help strengthen compliance with minimum employment standards?
  8. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?
  9. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Are New Zealanders who require elective surgery receiving it in a timely manner?
  10. STUART SMITH to the Minister for Disability Issues: How is the Government’s investment in the New Zealand Sign Language Fund helping sign language users to promote and maintain the language during Sign Language Week?
  11. EUGENIE SAGE to the Minister of Conservation: Does she agree with Professor Mark Urban that New Zealand’s indigenous species are at greater risk of extinction from climate change than species in many other parts of the world; and if not, why not?
  12. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that “returning to surplus and repaying debt are among the most important things the Government can do to ensure New Zealand can withstand future shocks and build a more competitive economy based on exports and new jobs”; if so, will there be a surplus for the 2014/15 year?

National: Four patsies on low inflation, research and development, Budget 2015 and Sign Language.

Labour: Four questions on the PM’s conduct, the surplus (x2) and elective surgery

Greens: Two questions does the Minister of Finance stand by his statements and climate change

NZ First: One question on if the PM stands by all his statements

ACT: One question on Sky City Convention Centre Act

There are also two questions to members:

  1. Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: How many submitters on the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill have asked to be heard by the committee and of those how many has she requested to attend to give evidence?
  2. Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: How many submitters to the committee on the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill requesting a yes/no vote has she requested attend to give evidence out of those who made submissions on this point?

 Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

 

 

Human Rights Amendment Bill – second reading continued

The Bill amends the Human Rights Act 1993 to enable the establishment of the position of a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner and to make changes to the role and structure of the Commission.

  • Introduced: October 2011
  • 1st reading: November 2013, passed 105-15 with Greens and Mana against
  • Select Committee report: April 2014, supported with amendments with Labour and Greens opposed

The debate has one ten minute speech remaining.

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill – third reading

The Bill amends the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to implement Government decisions resulting from the 2011–12 review to improve the enforceability, clarity, and transparency of New Zealand’s animal welfare system.

  • Introduced: May 2013
  • 1st reading: August 2013, passed without dissent
  • Select Committee report: June 2014, supported with amendments with Greens dissenting
  • 2nd reading: November 2014, passed 107-14 with Greens against
  • Committee of the Whole House: March 2015, passed without dissent, but with some opposition amendments defeated

The debate has 10 speeches of up to 10 minutes remaining, for a maximum of 100 minutes.

Social Assistance (Portability to Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau) Bill – second reading continued

This bill allows eligible persons who reside in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau to be able to apply from either of those countries or from that territory for New Zealand superannuation or a veteran’s pension.

  • Introduced: July 2014
  • 1st reading: November 2014, passed unanimously
  • Select committee report: March 2015, supported unanimously by the Social Services Committee, but with minority reports from Labour and NZ First calling for more generous eligibility

The second reading debate has nine speeches of up to 10 minutes each remaining, so a maximum debate of 90 minutes.

New Zealand Business Number Bill – first reading

This bill enables certain entities to obtain, or be allocated, a New Zealand Business Number and to be registered on a New Zealand Business Number Register

  • Introduced March 2015

The first reading debate has 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes, so a maximum debate of two hours.

Environmental Reporting Bill – second reading

The bill provides for independent environmental reports in the areas of air, climate and atmosphere, freshwater, marine and land.

  • Introduced February 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed 78 to 41 with Labour and NZ First opposed
  • Select Committee report: March 2015, supported with amendments by the majority, minority views by Labour and Greens

The second reading debate has 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes, so a maximum debate of two hours.

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Nanny state defeated

May 5th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

There will be no outright ban on commercial sunbeds despite pleas from organisations including the Cancer Society and Consumer NZ.

Parliament’s health committee has recommended a ban on UV tanning services be limited to those under 18.

“We are satisfied that the bill as introduced would protect the vulnerable under-18 age group and allow adults to make informed decisions about sunbed use in an environment of improved operator compliance,” the committee’s report on the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill stated.

People can buy cigarettes and tobacco at 18, the committee noted, a recognition that it is an age at which people are capable of making their own choices.

Labour, NZ First and the Green Party argued in a minority view that tanning beds “are not safe and offer no health benefits” and their use before 35 increases the risk of melanoma every year.

I think people who use sunbeds are vain idiots who are risking melanoma, in order to appear more attractive.

But you know what.

That’s their right.

It is not the role of Labour, NZ First and Green MPs to dictate to the peasants what they can or can’t do.

Why stop there?

Let’s have sun police who walk around checking that people sunbathing on a beach have not exceeded their statutory time.

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Skipping a meal is not starving!

May 5th, 2015 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Green Party’s 14 MPs will starve themselves on Tuesday to highlight the threat climate change poses to food supply.

Missing a meal is not starvation, it’s a media stunt.

But the Greens are right to highlight dangers to food supply. When food supply gets mucked up, millions can starve.

For many years the Greens and environmentalists pushed for biofuel subsidies and quotas. They cited climate change as a reason to promote biofuels. Helen Clark announced a law to create a biofuel sales obligation.

And what happened, according to the Guardian:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body. …

Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line, estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt.

So Green policies on climate change helped push $100 million into poverty and actual starvation (not the 24 hour kind). That’s a cure worse than the illness.

Don’t get me wrong – we do need to take action on greenhouse gas emissions. But it has to be the right action (such as research into reducing methane emissions from cows). The wrong action, such as with biofuels, can lead to mass starvation – the very thing the Greens say they are against.

It’s easy to take part if a stupid media stunt. It’s far harder to develop serious policy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions without damaging economic growth which provides jobs and incomes so people can afford food.

 

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Trotter on metropolitan elites

May 5th, 2015 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Whether the United Kingdom has a Labour Prime Minister by the end of this week remains to be seen. What cannot be disputed, however, is that among Labour’s traditional working-class constituency, much of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government’s programme remains surprisingly popular.

Four out of five trade union members, for example, told pollsters that they thought the £26,000 (NZ$52,300) cap on benefits was a good idea. Indeed, Matt Ridley, Member of the House of Lords and author of the bestselling book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, reports that “Tory candidates out canvassing tell me they are finding that welfare reform, while horrifying the metropolitan elite, is most popular in the meanest streets — where people are well aware of neighbours who play the system”.

This is the same in NZ. The 2011 NZ Electoral Study found (on a weighted average basis) support for the following:

  • Unemployed should work for benefits 80%
  • Benefits make people lazy and dependent 63%
  • Most unemployed could find a job if they want 60%
  • Most on dole are fiddling 59%
  • Trade unions are too powerful 52%

And take work for the dole. Among those who voted Labour in 2011, 76% support work for the dole, and only 14% are against it. For Green voters it is 73% in favour and 16% against.

49% of Labour voters agreed most unemployed could find a job if they want, with 42% disagreeing.

47% of Labour voters agreed benefits make people lazy and dependent with 39% disagreeing. With Greens 46% agreeing and 38% disagreeing.

The problem for NZ Labour is the disconnect between the MPs and activists, and their voters, and potential voters.

What horrifies “metropolitan elites” has, however, come to dominate the policies of both the British and New Zealand Labour Parties. Highly educated and socially liberal, the party activists of both countries would rather see their parties split in two than endorse the “reactionary” views of their working-class supporters.

Long may it continue. Labour for the last two elections has campaigned on paying the in work tax credit to families not in work. And they wonder why they don’t get 30%!

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Quote of the week

May 5th, 2015 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager.” 

– Calvin Coolidge

The is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

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General Debate 5 May 2015

May 5th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Issues that matter

May 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Richard Harman blogs at Politik:

“People who are in their homes or any community around New Zealand today are focussed on four issues,” he said.

“Does the family have the jobs they need to support themselves?

“Do they feel safe in their community?

“Are their children getting a decent education?

“Is the health system going to perform for them?

“People worry about the issues that actually matter to them.

And all four are going in the right direction. Record job growth, falling crime, more kids achieving at least NCEA Level 2 and the health system performing way better than seven years ago.

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Labour demands stand down due to Minister’s brother!!!

May 4th, 2015 at 3:49 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Prime Minister John Key must stand down a Cabinet minister whose brother has been charged with sexual offending against a child if there’s any chance of a conflict of interest, Labour says.

This is bottom of the barrel stuff, attacking Ministers over what a sibling may have done.

You do not stand down a Minister because an adult sibling has been charged with something. At the most, you would make sure they have no involvement in any discussions or decisions on that case (if that even applied).

Would Andrew Little stand down as Leader of the Labour Party, if one of his siblings was charged with a crime? Of course not.

Labour leader Andrew Little says Mr Key must uphold the highest standards of government.

“If there is any chance of a conflict of interest in the portfolio of this Cabinet minister and the charges a family member is reportedly facing, then they should be stood down,” he said.

The use of the words “any chance” is equivalent to asking someone to prove a negative.  The reality is the Police have operational independence, so it doesn’t matter who the accused’s brother is.

Politics should be about what an MP or Minister has done, not about what their sibling has done.

I recall President Obama had an uncle arrested for drunk driving and facing deportation. By Andrew Little’s logic, Obama should have stood down as President while the case was being heard!

Just a desperate attempt at publicity.

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Australian deficit projected to hit $45 billion

May 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Adelaide Now reports:

AUSTRALIA is facing deficits “as far as the eye can see’’ and next week’s Federal Budget is likely to be $41 billion in the red, respected economic forecasters have predicted.

The 2015-16 budget is likely to include a $41.3 billion deficit — a $14 billion deterioration since the December update, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics to be released on Monday. The underlying cash deficit would be $45.3 billion.

And because of the Senate, the Government can’t get through policy changes to reduce the deficit. It may be a very long time until Australia gets back into surplus.

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Glorivavale

May 4th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

“Did you know”, Hopeful Christian whispers, “that some medical vaccines contain the embryos of aborted fetuses? Did you know that? Aborted fetuses. That’s what they put in them. Right? Now, tell me this: why on earth would anyone want to vaccinate their children?”

Can’t you just imagine huge factories of aborted fetuses, turning them into vaccines!

ABC News reports what the case actually is:

A small but growing number of parents who object to vaccinating their children on religious grounds say they do so because many common vaccines are the product of cells that once belonged to aborted fetuses.

There is a grain of truth to this statement. But even religious leaders, including a future pope, have said that shouldn’t deter parents from vaccinating their children.

Some childhood vaccines, including the one against rubella — which is part of the MMR vaccine given to millions of children worldwide for measles, mumps and rubella — is cultured in “WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s fact sheet on the vaccine’s ingredients.

Merck, the vaccine’s manufacturer, acknowledged that those cells were originally obtained from an electively aborted fetus. They were used to start a cell line, which is a cell multiplied over and over again to produce cells that are of a consistent genetic makeup. The WI-38 cell line is used as a culture to grow live viruses that are used in vaccines.

Vaccines Developed Using Human Cell Strains

“Merck, as well as other vaccine manufacturers, uses two well-established human cell lines to grow the virus for selected vaccines,” Merck said in a statement to ABC News. “The FDA has approved the use of these cell lines for the production of these Merck vaccines.”

Other common vaccines, including those for chicken pox, hepatitis and rabies, are also propagated in cells originating from legally aborted human fetuses, according to the FDA.

“These abortions, which occurred decades ago, were not undertaken with the intent of producing vaccines,” said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers Disease Control and Prevention.

The original cells were obtained more than 50 years ago and have been maintained under strict federal guidelines by the American Type Culture Collection, according to Merck.

“These cell lines are now more than three generations removed from their origin, and we have not used any new tissue to produce these vaccines,” the company added in its statement.

To say that the vaccines contain a significant amount of human fetal tissue, as some objectors to the vaccines claim, is misleading, stressed Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the vaccine education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“There are perhaps nanograms of DNA fragments still found in the vaccine, perhaps billionths of a gram,” he said. “You would find as much if you analyzed the fruits and vegetables you eat.”

Anyway back to Gloriavale:

“Living out there in the world, you don’t really know how selfish you are,” he tells me, before asking whether I’m married and have children. Not yet, I tell him. Christian turns away, looking visibly aghast. He glances around the room at the faces of other Gloriavale leaders. There is awkward silence. The other men look away too. Eventually, Christian muses: “But why not? You’re over the age of 16, aren’t you?”

Heh, I should visit there!

“Our expectation and aim is that our young people come to marriage as virgins,” explains Fervent Stedfast, a senior Gloriavale leader.

Don’t they have the coolest names?

“I would say you have the greatest collection and concentration of virgin young people here than anywhere in New Zealand

That whooshing sound you hear is Sean Topham on a flight to the West Coast

“Jesus Christ is coming back one day soon,” announces Fervent Stedfast at meal time.

Can he be more specific, because if so I could make some some money on iPredict.

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