Galapagos Day 4

October 24th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Latin0110

On Day 4 we went to Fernandina Island which is the only major island with no introduced species. This Great Blue Heron greeted us as we came ashore.

Latin0111

The marine iguanas and sea lions sunbathe next to each other.

Latin0112

On this island are 250,000 marine iguanas. It is basically their island. They are everywhere  and you have to be careful not to stand on one.

Latin0113

This is the current alpha male sea lion. He spent quite a bit of time bellowing at us. If you bellowed back he might take it as a challenge and attack.

The alpha male doesn’t eat while he is the alpha, as he spends his time protecting the territory. Hence on average they last only 20 days in the job until they get defeated by someone else.

However not all bad, as once defeated they go to a separate island with all the bachelor males, and single females and enjoy themselves there.

Latin0114

Cute – a baby iguana looking out on top of an adult.

Latin0115

The rare Flightless Cormorant. This is their nesting area.

These birds can’t fly but they have adapted as they can dive up to 25 metres under thewater to hunt fish.

Latin0116

More marine iguanas.

Latin0117

A lava lizard.

Latin0118

A baby Flightless Cormorant under his or her mother.

Latin0119

An Iguana swimming in the water. The next day when I was snorkeling I had one swim into me!

Latin0120

They look like they are posing for a rugby photo!

Latin0121

These two baby sea lion cubs playing in a rock pool.

Latin0122

The Galapagos Hawk, up a tree some distance away.

Latin0123

We did three water activities today, after the walk. Two lots of snorkeling, and also went kayaking. This is a couple of our shipmates.

The snorkeling was great – in the morning we got to swim with some very playful sea lions. We are told to go no closer than six feet, but no one told the sea lions that. They hovered all around us and followed us for ages.

In the afternoon snorkel, we had some penguins swim past us, barely a metre away. Also a great experience.

Latin0124

Got this photo of the pelican while out kayaking.

Latin0125

 

We then headed up top to go whale watching. No whales, but some rays doing jumps and flips, and lots of sea lions and turtles.

Latin0126

The sun setting.

Latin0127

And we crossed the equator from South to North at 7.16 pm, as you can see from this GPS on the Bridge.

 

Tags: , , ,

Air NZ does it again

October 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Another viral smash video from Air New Zealand. Really well done.

Tags:

Remember the manufactured manufacturing crisis?

October 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m sure readers recall the inquiry by Labour, Greens, NZ First and Mana into what they called the crisis in manufacturing. They traveled up and down the country trying to dredge up stories of doom and gloom.

Well today the Herald reports:

Whatever the attractions of the virtual economy, manufacturing is the star in New Zealand’s high-tech sector this year.

The annual Technology Investment Network TIN100 report was launched on Wednesday, and TIN managing director Greg Shanahan says one of the strongest trends has been the resurgence of the manufacturing sector, with strong growth seen this year as well as a number of manufacturers making it into the two Top 10 lists.

In perhaps the most positive year seen since the TIN100 report began in 2005, manufacturing, ICT and biotech are all on the rise.

The success of manufacturing is a strong indicator that the tech sector in general is recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis, as manufacturing has been an area of concern over the past few years, with the sale or closure of companies such as Navman, Provenco and VTL resulting in significant job losses, and major companies including Fisher & Paykel Appliances moving manufacturing overseas.

This year, however, manufacturing is the success story of the three sectors with revenue of $5.1 billion, helped by larger companies including Fisher & Paykel Healthcare with revenue growth of 12 per cent, BCS Group (revenue up 68 per cent) and NDA Group (32 per cent). The smaller TIN100+ manufacturing companies have also been helping boost this trend, with growth of 7 per cent overall, and companies such as Metalform, RML Engineering and Escea all feature in the Hot Emerging Companies list.

This has all happened, without the Government having to try and waste billions of dollars in forcing the level of the NZ dollar down.

Tags:

Interest rates may hold for another year

October 24th, 2014 at 11:02 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Economists now expect the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold until September next year after inflation in the September quarter proved even more benign than it had forecast.

The consumers price index rose 0.3 per cent in the quarter, when the median market forecast had been 0.5 per cent and the Reserve Bank’s 0.7 per cent.

Westpac and ASB have pushed back their forecasts of when the Reserve Bank will next raise the official cash rate to September 2015.

That will be welcome news to everyone with a mortgage.

intrates

As this graph from the Reserve Bank shows, home owners have had the longest period of relatively low interest rates in 25 years.

Tags:

The last splurge

October 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Departing and defeated MPs went out with a splurge on the taxpayer tab, the latest expense details show.

The latest release of MPs’ and ministers’ expenses covered the entire election campaign period and the 10 days after the election.

It shows that most MPs spent less than usual during the election period.

In all, MPs spent a total of $1.5 million between and July 1 and September 30, compared to $1.7 million in the same period in 2013.

But a few MPs were not as frugal.

Mana leader Hone Harawira was the biggest-spending MP. In the last three months before he lost his Te Tai Tokerau seat he racked up $54,020 in expenses.

This compared to $44,737 in the same period last year.

MPs in Maori seats often had big travel bills because their electorates were larger than the general electorates.

Disgraced National MP Claudette Hauiti was again one of the bigger spenders.

Although she was not running for re-election, she spent more than $23,000 in three months – the second-largest bill for a National MP.

I wonder how much money Mana has left from Kim Dotcom? Will he keep funding them? The coalition agreement between the Internet and Mana parties will end next month. Will it be renewed?

Tags: , ,

Galapagos Day 3

October 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Latin0080

On Day 3 we sailed to the West of Isla Isabela and went ashore at Punta Moreno.

It is lava basically everwhere.

Latin0081

A cactus in the lava.

Latin0082

And slowly life is returning, including this flower.

Latin0083

Some of the lava. This type is almost in sheets.

Latin0084

While in other areas it is very rocky.

Latin0085

Growing in the lava is of course a lava cactus.

Latin0086

And a Galaneau living in a lava tube.

Latin0087

And who would have thought, but a family of six flamingos have settled in the middle of the lava, in a little lake that has formed there.

Latin0088

A close up of a pink flamingo.

Latin0089

A lava lizard.

Latin0090

Out on the rocks, the penguins and iguanas happily share.

Latin0091

A blue footed boobie giving us the stare.

Latin0092

While in the zodiac, we had some bottled nosed dolphins turn up!

It is quite rare to see them, so we were lucky.

Latin0093

This pelican guarding his rock.

Latin0094

This time penguins and crabs on the same rock.

Latin0095

In the afternoon we did a zodiac (they call them pungas) trip through the mangroves.

Latin0096

Love these trees.

Latin0097

A Great Blue Heron.

Latin0098

That is a sea turtle underneath the water.

Latin0099

A pelican flying alongside us.

Latin0100

And back to the boat.

We also did snorkeling in the late morning and that was incredible. I shot some underwater video but don’t have the cord with me to transfer the files. But masses of fish, and a couple of dozen giant sea turtles. Getting to swim alongside or above a majestic sea turtle was so cool.

 

Tags: , ,

General Debate 24 October 2014

October 24th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
Tags:

The $800,000 man

October 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An unnamed ACC employee – understood to be investment manager Nicholas Bagnall, who oversees almost $27 billion in taxpayer funds – got over $800,000 in pay last year, likely making him our highest paid public servant.

The breakdown of staff pay in ACC’s annual report yesterday reveals its highest paid received between $810,000 and $820,000 in the last year.

Some may be surprised that a manager may get less than a CEO, but I’ve seen this before with IT Managers getting paid more than their bosses.

The Herald understands the ACC employee is not ACC chief executive Scott Pickering but a member of the state-owned injury insurer’s investment team, as was the corporation’s second highest-paid staffer, on just over $700,000.

Mr Bagnall has led ACC’s investment team for the past 15 years. He would not confirm he was the employee referred to in ACC’s report but said he was “very well paid”.

I don’t have a problem with Mr Bagnall being paid that much, if he is performing well enough to justify it.

The ACC Annual Report shows ACC has financial assets of $27.6 billion and they got a 6.3% return on investment which is $1.6 billion of income. Paying someone $800,000 a year to manage $27.6 billion of assets seems reasonable. A 0.1% improved return of investment of those assets is worth $27 million.

Tags:

US Mid-Term Elections : Latest Senate Races Polls

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:18 pm by Lindsay Addie

Here is the latest numbers using as before the Real Clear Politics average of polls data and Nate Silver’s numbers. A reminder the current numbers in the Senate are Democrats 55 – Republicans 45.

Senate-Polling2

In Colorado a state which Obama won in both 2008 and 2012. Nate Silver and the Washington Post think that Democrat Mark Udall is now in real trouble. His campaign based around women’s issues hasn’t hit the right spot with the voters. Iowa remains close with Joni Ernst (R) holding on to a slender lead. Iowa is always a bell weather state on election night.

Georgia has got a lot closer with Democrat Michelle Nunn making David Perdue (GOP) work very hard. Some polls have Nunn ahead. Kansas is still pretty much a dead heat between Orman the independent and Roberts the GOP candidate.

So based on these numbers the Republicans look like they may pick up 8 seats (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia). But are not guaranteed to win Georgia and Kansas just yet.

So it’s definitely advantage to the Republicans with less than 2 weeks to go.

[UPDATE] The web link to the Washington Post article cited that discusses the Colorado Senate race was broken and is now working.

[UPDATE 2] The Louisiana and Georgia Senate Races are run under the 50% plus one vote rule. So if no candidate achieves this a run off is held. If required the Louisiana runoff is scheduled for 6th December 2014. The Georgia run off would be held on 6th January 2015. Hat tip to Kiwi in America for reminding me of this.

Tags:

Galapagos Day 2

October 23rd, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Latin0050

We moved overnight to Isla Isabela.

The second day was amazing in terms of what we saw, in just the one day.  It started with a zodiac ride out to the White Tipped Reef Shark Canal. On the way there we saw out first sighting of the Blue Footed Booby.

Latin0051

Waiting for us on shore was a Sally Lightfoot Crab.

Latin0052

And also on shore were lots of marine iguanas. This one has a young one on its back.

Latin0053

Down in the water were the white tipped reef sharks.

Latin0054

A beautiful brown pelican.

Latin0055

An American Oyster Catcher.

Latin0056

You may have to look twice here to see the dozens of iguanas!

Latin0057

This sea lion gave birth not long ago to her cub.

Latin0058

As we walked back along the beach, the iguanas were everywhere. You had to literally step to get around them.

Latin0059

Then after lunch we headed back into the main settlement. This sea lion had decided one of the boats makes a good sleeping spot.

Latin0060

While this sea lion caught a fish.

Latin0061

We then did a two hour return trek up the Sierra Negra Volcano. The view at the top was fantastic. We were very lucky to manage to do it on a day with no clouds up there.

Latin0062

The crater (which is active) is 7 kms long and 11 kms wide.

Latin0063

A typical landscape on Isabela.

Latin0064

Back at the waterfront, a pelican at home on a roof.

Latin0065

Some Galapagos Penguins swimming.

Latin0066

An Eagle Ray under the water.

Latin0067

This photo is from an amazing scene which lasted 20 minutes or so. A school of fish came into the waterfront area, and the boobies were dive bombing the area like kamikaze pilots. They fly straight down into the water, and can descend to five metres below, to try and catch a fish, and bring it up. They can even steer and swim under there.

Seeing dozens of boobies dive bombing nearly non-stop was amazing.

Latin0068

Then we went to the lagoons and saw a pink Greater Flamingo.

Latin0069

After that we went to the second of the three land tortoise breeding centres where we saw Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and David Parker, with David Cunliffe heading off in the background.

Latin0070

Some of the smaller tortoises all bunched up together, and even walking over each other.

Latin0071

A Galapagos Yellow Warbler.

Latin0072

This is a two month old baby tortoise. You can see how vulnerable they would be in the wild to predators.

Latin0073

A Great Frigatebird overhead.

Latin0074

We then had a spare hour in the town, with this lovely beach.

Latin0075

The iguanas are not just on the isolated islands, but these two were just sunbathing in town.

Latin0076

This sea lion enjoying the park bench.

We saw an incredible variety of creatures, and all in just one day.  Apart from the density and variety of them, what is perhaps unique is how unafraid of humans they are.  Nothing runs away from you – to the contrary many of them come over to you to show off.

 

Tags: , ,

The 51st Parliament Select Committees

October 23rd, 2014 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar

selcoms

The composition and chairs of select committees has been decided. Well, almost decided. NZ First seem unable to decide as quickly as other parties which MPs go on which committees. Ironic as they have just 10 MPs.

National has a clear majority on 10 of the 14 select committees.

On Finance and Expenditure the swing vote is ACT’s David Seymour. If Labour are smart (unlikely) they’ll look for issues they could get him on board with such as an inquiry into corporate welfare.

Government Administration is tied between National and Labour/Greens and chaired by Labour MP Ruth Dyson. That is normal for this committee.

Justice and Electoral could be tied with five Nats, two Labour, one Green, one NZ First and one Maori Party. But chaired by National’s Jacqui Dean so unlikely to have issues.

The Maori Affairs Committee has eight MPs on it – three National, two Labour, one Greens, one NZ First and one Maori Party. So National can be outvoted, but if Maori Party vote with them, it is a tie and new National MP Nuk Kurako is its Chair.

Tags: ,

A Little hyperbole

October 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former union boss Little’s message seemed to resonate well with the audience, which included a strong union presence.

He also attacked the employment law making its way through the House.

“We have never had a more niggardly, nasty National government than the one we’ve got now.”

I guess he has to try and win over the union vote, but this is a ridiculous statement. The Employment Contracts Act of the early 1990s was a magnitude more radical than anything currently in the law, or proposed.

And is Andrew really saying the John Key led Government is more “nasty” than the Muldoon Government?

Such hyperbole may be good red meat for the unions, but they won’t resonate with the voting public.

He said Labour was the only party that took work seriously and balanced the rights of employers with workers’ rights to be protected.

Actually Labour basically has the unions write their industrial relations policy. I’d assert National is the party that gets the balance right.

Tags:

NZ won election on the first round

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Now I’ve had time to check the detailed voting results, impressed that not only did New Zealand beat Turkey to win a spot on the UN Security Council, we also got more votes than Spain, and made the two thirds majority in the first round of voting.

To be elected you need 129 votes out of 193 member states, and NZ got 145 in the first round. Spain was on 121 and Turkey 109.

It then took two further rounds to elect Spain, as the normal pattern followed of states slowing peeling off the lowest polling candidate.

A win on the first round, scoring more votes than Turkey and Spain is truly impressive. Especially when you consider Turkey starts with almost all the Muslim countries on side, and Spain starts with almost all of Europe and the Spanish speaking countries. NZ stars with basically just Australia!

It would be interesting to see how each country voted, but I can’t find this online.

Tags:

A terrorist attack in Canada?

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At least 30 shots are fired inside the main building of Canada’s Parliament Hill, after a gunman shot and wounded a soldier at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa.

Ottawa police are hunting multiple gunmen in the shooting incidents near the Canadian war memorial and nearby Parliament Hill.

A Canadian soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa early today (NZ time) and a gunman was shot dead in a nearby parliament building, media and witnesses reported. Buildings remained locked down.

At least 30 shots were fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital, starting around 10am local time (3am NZT).

Canadian media outlets are reporting the soldier was Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist serving in Hamilton from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment.

Officials have named the gunman shot dead as 32-year-old, Canadian-born, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Reuters has reported Mr Zehaf-Bibeau was was a Canadian convert to Islam, according to US officials. He is from Quebec and has criminal convictions for drug possession and parole violations.

Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attacks. 

Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a ”dynamic, unfolding situation.”

Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.

“Condolences to family of the soldier killed, and prayers for the Parliamentary guard wounded. Canada will not be terrorised or intimidated,” cabinet minister Jason Kenney said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a caucus meeting in parliament when gunfire erupted in the building, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun.

Harper was later safely removed from the building, and parliament was locked down.

Fantino said parliament’s head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), had shot a suspect dead.

“All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,” Fantino said. “He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased.”

The Sergeant-at-Arms should him dead personally! Wow. One always thinks of those roles of nominally being in charge of maintaining order – not active duty. He is being feted justifiably as a hero. Mr Vickers is 58 years old.

It is somewhat sickening that these attacks are spreading to countries like Canada and Australia, and being done by people born in those countries.

Tags: ,

Assistant Speaker Trevor

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

From Hansard:

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): As I move this next motion I hope the last discordant moment is not some sort of a portent of what is about to happen. I move, That the Hon Trevor Mallard be appointed Assistant Speaker. I did not think that I would ever be in this House moving a motion like this. If it were not for the fact that I have been reminded by the honourable gentleman over there that this is a parliamentary occasion, I may well have quipped that should he be successful, the Hon Trevor Mallard may be the first Speaker in the Chair to remove himself from the House.

But appreciating the comments Mr Peters has made to the House, I will simply say that I have worked with Mr Mallard on the Business Committee and in his role as shadow Leader of the House over a number of years, and I know that he is, at heart, a true parliamentarian. I think—[Interruption] Well, his colleagues opposite, of course, may find it hard to believe that anyone on their side of the House has a heart, but the reality is that Mr Mallard is a gentleman who does appreciate the procedures of Parliament and does respect the procedures of Parliament. But certainly over his political career he has enjoyed the theatre of Parliament as well. I think his broad experience in that regard will equip him very well as an assistant to you in your role, Mr Speaker, and we look forward to supporting him.

For my 2c I think Trevor will be a very good Assistant Speaker. He has an excellent understanding of Standing Orders, and as Gerry said, he has played a very constructive role on the Business Committee and the review of Standing Orders.

But he will have to restrain himself not to interject when he is not in the chair – or even when he is!

Tags: ,

Galapagos Day 1

October 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Latin0033

 

 

This is Baltra Airport on Isla Baltra, which is the main airport into the Galapagos. Flew from Santiago to Quito the night before, got into out hotel at Quito around 10 pm and had to be up at 3 am to get back to the airport for an early morning flight to Baltra.

Latin0034

We then took a bus, ferry and another bus (around an hour all up) to the Charles Darwin Station on Isla Santa Cruz. This is the biggest settlement on the Galapagos. We then went out to our catamaran, the Grand Odyssey. The rooms are huge – 25 square metres, and you get a panoramic view from the windows.

Latin0035

Up on the top deck are two spa pools, a number of double sun beds and a bar.

Latin0036

Then after lunch we went to the breeding centre for young land tortoises. Here you can see a baby tortoise, not much bigger than the shoots.

Due to introduced species, only 1% of tortoises in the wild make it to 25 (when they can reproduce). 80% die before they are eight years olds. The breeding centres protect them until they are eight, when their carapaces are hard enough to protect them more.

Latin0037

They have a few older tortoises here also, including Lonesome George who was the last of his species and died just two years ago in 2012. It wasn’t all bad for George though as he shared his enclosure with two female tortoises from another species. They tried to mate them, but there were no eggs before he died. However the female tortoises can store his sperm for up to three years so if one of them gives birth in the next year, his species may partially live on.

This is a saddleback tortoise above.

Latin0038

A larger male land dome shape tortoise.

Latin0039

 

They also breed land iguanas here, to help boost their population. The marine iguanas are plentiful, but not so much the land ones.

Latin0040

 

This fatter one looks very happy and content. However they are kept in separate enclosures as they can get aggressive and fight.

 

Tags: , ,

Part 4 GANGNAM Style: Visiting North & South Korea 2014

October 23rd, 2014 at 8:59 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

20KoreaPic copy

This trip we had two opportunities to visit North Korea, once over the border, and once through one of the tunnels (now closed, obviously) dug by NK to invade South Korea. It’s important to understand that North & South Korea are buffered by a DMZ – De-Militarised Zone. It’s a narrow strip of no mans land full of mines and fences. There was no peace treaty signed by the two Koreas so technically they are still ‘at war.’ The North vs South fences do not abutt eachother, there’s a wide fenced off neutral zone inbetween. This helps relieve tensions and fatal incidents (more of which later). This area converges together at the famous Joint Security (JSA) Demilitarised Zone which I’ll post on tomorrow.

It is vital to bring a passport or you cannot visit. It’s an early start for us, and at the Incheon subway station en route to Seoul where we’ll catch a bus, it transpires more than one of our party has forgotten to bring theirs. So Male50Something is dispatched at a trot back to the hotel to open various rooms, and safes, and recover missing passports.

Walking through the bus at Seoul, the passports are assiduously checked by serious-minded soldiers. They pause and check your photo against your mug, peering into your face for inherent terrorism. I pull my best ambivalent pacifist look. Anyone without a passport is taken from the bus. Serious stuff.

21KoreaPic copy

The first view of North Korea is across the Han River where it runs into the Yellow Sea. The shoreline is heavily fenced with watchtowers at regular intervals, which makes you feel you are inside a camp. It runs for miles and miles closing off this watery weak spot along the border. You can see this barrier in the left hand corner of this photo returning from the DMZ, which is an exhausting place, zonking out two of our party.

The first bus stop is Imjingak Tourist Park, at Paju, Gyeonggi-do, which bares several scars from the Korean War. It’s the closest borderland to the DMZ and is the hub from which you get to grips with North Korea at the Dora Observatory, Dora Station and the 3rdTunnel.

22KoreaPic copy

This is Imjingak

23KoreaPic copy

Imjingak Park was built so that refugees from North Korea could face the home of their ancestors and pay homage. There’s a viewing platform offering a glimpse of North Korea and it’s also home to the Freedom Bridge, built in 1953 to bring 12,773 prisoners across. You can also see the bullet-ridden train that once ran the railway between North and South Korea. There’s a huge Tibetan-like Freedom Bell. The S.Koreans are deeply committed to peace and unification and have thoughtful memorials and displays like this “Peace Wall” throughout the Imjingak leisure park.

24KoreaPic copy

25KoreaPic copy

This interesting artwork is made of rocks collected from different battlefields in 64 nations. It’s a memorial to the futility of war. That’s actually North Korea DMZ behind the wall memorial.

From Imjingak we take the bus to the Dora Observatory and military base. This features a wide walled balcony from which we can observe North Korea across the DMZ.  There is a yellow line, across which you cannot take photos (so you cannot shoot North Korea, and we are advised to strictly follow this protocol). Looking out through the observation binoculars I can see a North Korean man working some rice fields. It is very quiet, no vehicles moving people or activity.  We are told many of the buildings are actually fake (iemovie props).  They can tell this, as the windows do not match the supposed floor laterals.

26KoreaPic copy

But perhaps the highlight at Dora is one of the many North Korea tunnels discovered at this location. No photos are allowed. Before you go in, there is a small museum and we are briefed on how the tunnels were discovered, and why they were made.  There are several interesting artifacts. The wall plaque below shows the discovery.  They are so deep, almost 80m they are very difficult to locate.  Soldiers go in and listen, just like WWI.

27KoreaPic copy

We don hard hats and are taken in to Tunnel 3.  It is 400m long and 76m deep, one of 4 found so far, dug by the North Koreans to attack Seoul from their side

(see map at top). It’s fascinating and eerie. It slopes down and is a long walk.  Quite hard for tall people, as it is Korean size and at 5 ft10” I have to stoop the whole way while walking which is hard work. Try 400m at a crouch.  You totally need the hard had, as the sound of dozens intermittently bashing against the exposed irregular rock ceiling echoes down the narrow corridor cut through solid rock.

It’s quite claustrophobic, so don’t go in if you are in any way anxious.  The walls and ceiling are a rusty coloured rock.  At the very end, we can see drilled holes where explosives were laid by the North Koreans, but most of the tunnel was hand cut. The termination is now a series of concrete chambers.  These sit three deep as bulwarks and one is filled with water.  Our end has an open window in the casement so you can see in for security purposes.

It is a very interesting experience, and technically, we cross over in to North Korea through this violating tunnel, now sealed with concrete bunker rooms. Maps show us the several tunnels attempted by the North (like Hamas into Palestine) through which North Korea intended to amass thousands of troops for a surprise invasion to take Seoul.

So this is quite serious stuff. The South Koreans are consequently very vigilant and continually listening and probing for tunnels.

Next time: The famous Joint Security (JSA) Demilitarised Zone. A really scary place.

Tags:

Is the Total Repeal of Obamacare a Pipedream for Republicans?

October 23rd, 2014 at 8:30 am by Lindsay Addie

One way Republican politicians fire up their supporters when giving campaign speeches is to say they will scrap the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). But according to ABC News some Republican Governors aren’t convinced that Obamacare is going away anytime soon and are adopting a much more pragmatic approach compared to GOP politicians in Washington.

Nine Republican governors have expanded Medicaid for low-income people in their states, despite their own misgivings and adamant opposition from conservative legislators. Three more governors are negotiating with the Democratic administration in Washington.

Rather than demanding repeal, the governors generally have sought federal concessions to make their decisions more politically acceptable at home. That approach is in sharp contrast to the anti-Obamacare fervor of their party in Congress.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he doesn’t think there will be a repeal in Washington, even if Republicans win a Senate majority and consolidate their hold on the House in next month’s election.

So it seems despite all the sabre rattling about repealing Obamacare lock stock and barrel reality is starting to set in that actually dismantling the scheme isn’t actually going to be all that simple. David Nather from Politico writes that it has dawned on some in the GOP what the realities are.

Gail Wilensky, a longtime health care expert who ran the Medicare agency under the first President George Bush, concluded that even though the law is still unpopular — even after the benefits have kicked in — “I think we are at the point where people have to realize this isn’t going away.”

A big turning point, according to Senate Republican health aides, was when health insurers not only didn’t abandon the Affordable Care Act after the bumpy first enrollment season but also signed up in greater numbers for the second enrollment season, which starts in November. That’s seen as a sign that health insurance companies have accepted the law and don’t believe it’s going anywhere.

Besides, Wilensky said, “I think a lot of Republicans, in quiet conversations, understand that there is no precedent for repealing a program after the benefits have already started.”

But that hasn’t stopped GOP candidates for political purposes campaigning during the mid-term elections for total repeal. But if the law is to be repealed Republicans might like to explain to people who have already signed up what happens to them? Frankly it looks like some in the GOP are being rather disingenuous by campaigning for total repeal when they know it isn’t going to happen as long as Obama is President. And being fully aware that it will not be all that easy in 2017 if the GOP wins the presidency. The scheme may be too well entrenched by then to simply got rid of.

Republicans have various plans but cannot agree amongst themselves which one is best.

It’s not that alternatives don’t exist. A replacement plan by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Tom Coburn, a similar one by the 2017 Project and a more recent version by Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute have all gotten serious attention in GOP circles. They all target what conservatives genuinely believe are the worst features of the health care law — higher coverage costs and fewer choices — although they differ in how much of the law they’d wipe away. Roy’s version would keep a deregulated version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges and use them to cover some Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, while the others would get rid of more of the law’s central features.

But Republicans and conservative activists haven’t gotten on board with one plan, and aren’t likely to anytime soon. They can’t even agree on whether it should be one big alternative or a bunch of smaller ones. Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader will try for repeal but it has no chance of happening.

Senator John Barrasso, Republican-Wyoming., a member of the GOP leadership puts it this way.

“Obviously, we are going to try to fully repeal the law,” said Barrasso. “The reality is President Obama is going to be in office, and we know how that is going to turn out if we get a bill to his desk. If we cannot get a full repeal, we will try to bring forth a number of bills that target the worst parts of the law.”

The possible outcome is that Obamacare may never be totally repealed but may instead go through stages of evolution over the medium to long term. This isn’t uncommon with complex legislation. Until Republicans fully spell out a well thought out plan that is properly costed they’re standing on shaky ground.

Tags: ,

General Debate 23 October 2014

October 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
Tags:

Parker says Labour is like a cult

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:28 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leadership contender David Parker says Labour borders on feeling like “a cult” and must look at its branding – including its symbolic red party colour.

Cult is too harsh a term, but what Labour does suffer from is diversity – diversity of opinion.

National has a caucus and a party that has social liberals and social conservatives. It has those who see the role of the state in the economy is to get out of the way, and those who see its role to be an active participant.

By contrast Labour looks on people who are even close to the economic centre with disdain and suspicion. I know many Labour members who say they feel the party no longer represents them.

Even worse is if you are a social conservative in Labour. Then you are seen as blot on their conscience to be exorcised. You will be told you are in the wrong party.

Tags: ,

GANGNAM Style: Visiting North & South Korea 2014 Part 3

October 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

Koreans have a high work ethic and everyone works in Korea, from young to old. This may be because they have a much leaner welfare system than New Zealand [insert ACT policy quotes here]. You see few beggars and bums on the streets of Korea and lots of ancient grandparents minding family shops.

Which brings me to the bowing.  Korea is structured with social customs that EVERYONE honours.  A senior person is always deferred to (which had implications for Korean aircraft safety and protocols and prompted changes to inflight cockpit systems across all airlines. Co-pilots and junior staff had to be trained to question senior pilot decisions). For example, a younger person will always nod and use both hands to an older person, and serve them food or a drink, never in reverse.  An older person would only use one hand to reciprocate to a younger person, etc. This creates widespread respect and social cohesion between the generations, something we completely lack in urban NZ.

13KoreaPic copy

Note the tiny cart underneath which will be pushed by an elderly person.

As an example of the work ethic, there appears to be a civil recycling system in the city, whereby businesses put all their clean rubbish outside, and an army of people come with little push trailers to collect it up. No sooner is it out, than it’s gone. I saw one man unpacking a fridge for his shop, and an elderly woman standing there waiting for the box. The army of collectors take it to numerous small back alley sorting yards on every other block, discretely tucked out of sight, where they sort it all by hand, and obviously sell the material.

We saw this in operation in a back alley self tour we took through the catacombs of Incheon to see what the city was really like for ordinary people. This process cuts down the need for rubbish trucks in the streets, which would be problematic. (Actually, a bus became cast down a sloping alley close to our hotel. Pretty funny observing the extrication). For the load you can see pictured, a person would receive a few dollars. These workers are often elderly people, perhaps without sons or daughters to support them. It’s a win-win system focused on people and their need to work and support themselves, keep the streets freer of trucks etc., and distributes recyclables locally. Again, an evolved social efficiency. Despite this, Incheon still has a litter problem.

Generally Korea is pretty clean and tidy, but quite badly littered in big public spaces (I guess just because there are so many people). But you do observe constant street sweeping with Harry Potter brooms by random people and shop owners.

14KoreaPic copy

We saw only two ‘street people’ the whole time we were here. I think this is because Koreans are prepared to work and are less lazy than some Kiwis. I met this man in a Methodist Park dedicated to John Wesley and gave him some money. He was most appreciative and humble. None of the demanding attitude I meet quite often among NZ homeless persons who have a sense of entitlement.

15KoreaPic copy

Prices and currency comparisons are easy in Korea. It’s Won 000s to the NZ $1, so $50,000 Won is $50 NZ Kiwis. Easy peasy when shopping and comparing. It’ll cost you about $20 for a full night out, drinks incl. which because of the number of restaurants, is much cheaper than in NZ.

I tried these silk worm bug casings (below). They are actually very nice. Also, periwinkle type shells – suck out the cooked thingy inside. Also very nice.

16KoreaPic copy

Incheon is full of tall pack-‘em-in-sardine-style apartment buildings, and we noticed they are numbered 101 etc.  This helped us not to get lost, until we did, and then realised EVERY apartment skyscraper on every lock is numbered 101, 102 etc. So, that didn’t help. Despite a lot of utilitarian Soviet-style residential stacks, Incheon has some welcome modern architecture. I also like how the Koreans take a little time and not much expense, to paint the underbelly of their over bridges, so life at street level is a little more pleasant than Soviet concrete. A good idea for Christchurch. Such a simple inexpensive idea.

17KoreaPic copy

18KoreaPic copy

Like London and NY, Incheon and Seoul are, by necessity, cities of subways. This is something Len Brown is attempting, but it’s simply too expensive for New Zealand. The subways are easily negotiated in a different language, are efficient, and very clean. But note your routes and take smart phone pics of your relevant stations.  You also need to talk to someone about the fare cards, how to top ‘em up at the machines, otherwise you’ll get marooned inside the labyrinths.  Best to travel in a pair or more, so you can hand back an access barrier card if your partner’s barrier pass has expired.  Problematic for us a few times.

Following a subway ride to Seoul it is a long bus ride to the North Korean border and the DMZ.  The pickup is a large square in Seoul, and while we were there, there were large memorials to the horrific ferry tragedy a few days earlier.  The outpouring of concern and care was very moving, and Koreans perhaps engage with such issues as much for the humanity as ‘correcting’ Korean mana, apologising and restoring balance.  For example, I went over and spoke to some police officers, but they did not want to be photographed with the ferry memorials in the background.

19KoreaPic copy

The border with North Korea is scary.  This pic sets the tone.  More next time as we cross the border….

 

Tags:

Obama’s Last Two Years as President: A Democrats View

October 22nd, 2014 at 8:18 am by Lindsay Addie

I previously posted on how the next two years look for the Republicans post the 2014 mid-term elections. This post looks at it from a Democratic viewpoint.

Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty who was President Clinton’s Chief of Staff has written an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal which discusses how Barack Obama can achieve success in his last two years in the White House. McLarty asserts that the Obama presidency isn’t over.

The unanimous answer: not by a long shot. Every two-term president for a century has entered his last 24 months in office facing predictions of irrelevance, disarray and failure. Most have felt besieged by enemies and abandoned by some friends. “The pundits claimed the administration was ‘paralyzed’ and ‘dead in the water,’ ” wrote Ronald Reagan in his 1990 autobiography, “An American Life.” His job approval in 1986, as his administration was buffeted by the Iran-Contra scandal, stood at 47%.

But the last two years of a second term can be among the most eventful. President Reagan negotiated an arms deal with the Soviet Union. President Bill Clinton led a war in Kosovo and sealed a trade pact with China. President George W. Bush authorized the “surge” in Iraq and unprecedented steps to combat a global financial meltdown.

Truman and Johnson are two good examples of President’s who were worn down by the office. Truman by having to lead America out of World War II and dealing with the Korean War. Johnson became worn out by the Vietnam War. McLarty then goes on discuss how Ronald Reagan dealt with becoming a lame duck.

“Ronald Reagan, rather than being a lame duck, a virtual dead duck for the last two years, decided to clean house, get fresh voices,” Kenneth Duberstein, the last chief of staff in the Reagan White House, said at one of our discussions. “We helped him rebuild those last two years. So in some ways the last two years were the most important two years.”

This sounds very similar to what John Key has done post the 2014 New Zealand Election. I do think Obama should do the same and get his own “fresh voices” into the White House and Cabinet. If this were to happen it could well help him combat the perception that he appears to be too cautious when making decisions on critical issues if he chooses the right people. So can a lame duck fly? There are some interesting examples cited.

The fourth quarter of a presidency can free an incumbent to act with newfound autonomy. Past presidents have used the period to rise above constraints of their own party. President Reagan brushed past conservative protests to achieve his historic deal with the Soviets to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. President Clinton went beyond the Democratic base to normalize trade relations with China and to create Plan Colombia, in which the U.S. devoted substantial help to the fight against drug cartels and left-wing guerrillas.

Developing autonomy is something I think Obama must do otherwise his policy agenda is in grave danger of becoming irrelevant with potentially Hilary Clinton making a run for President in 2016. The Democrats will start focusing on her and stop focusing on Obama.

With the Republicans poised to take control of the Senate Obama needs to find ways of being his own man and work constructively with the GOP. The issue of a president dealing with both houses of Congress controlled by the opposing party didn’t prevent Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton getting things down when it mattered. McLarty suggests one issue that Obama could work on.

That formula will be harder to implement on domestic policy. But that does not exempt the administration from taking on the rampant dysfunction in our governing institutions. This dysfunction is the country’s greatest crisis. No problem, policy or politician is immune from its corrosive effects. It hurts the economy and U.S. standing in the world, and it fuels the malaise that has led a record percentage of Americans to perceive a nation in decline.

This would be good politics were the President to be bolder than his normal apparent cautious self. The Republicans would be willing sit down and talk turkey on this one. They wouldn’t have any choice as they’ve spent years talking about this topic. There is room here for some compromise and constructive policy gains for both sides.

There are three major policy areas where President Obama is already within striking distance of a deal with Republicans in Congress: tax reform, trade and immigration. Each would be a heavy lift, but all are achievable.

These are sensible suggestions that were discussed in my previous post mentioned above. So does Obama have the fight in him make the next two years a success and define his legacy? McLarty says yes but stops short of laying out specific reasons.

Critics of President Obama, including some who have served in his administration—including, most recently, former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta —have questioned whether he has the temperament to lead a divided nation in a time of international dangers and domestic gridlock. While I believe he has the discipline and skill to do so, Mr. Obama is a complex figure operating in complex times, and debate over his performance will continue through his last day in office, more than 800 days from today.

The euphoria of 2008 -09 have long gone and it must be said that Obama must take his share of the blame for creating so much hype in the 2008 election campaign. No President can possibly live up to such high expectations and maintain it for 8 years. There is a chance though for Barack Obama to finish with a flourish if he’s good enough.

 

Tags: ,

General Debate 22 October 2014

October 22nd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
Tags:

What will it take for John Key to lead National to a 4th term? Could he ever be NZ’s longest serving PM?

October 21st, 2014 at 4:22 pm by kiwi in america

On election night September 20th, centre right supporters, flush with the enthusiasm of National’s historic win seemingly achieving the impossible of being able to govern alone under MMP, talked excitedly of a 4th even 5th term and for John Key to be able to challenge the long standing record in continuous office of Richard John Seddon. But what is the likelihood of Key pulling this off. David had a more detailed post on this subject

http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/10/can_national_win_a_4th_or_even_a_5th_term.html

that covers some of the more technical aspects of governing that National must pay heed to – the suggestions in this post arise from studying the history of other 4th term governments and emulating their successes and avoiding their failures.

Since the commencement of the modern party era in New Zealand, Australia and UK (late 19th century) there have only ever been eight four term governments with four in New Zealand (these are highlighted below with an *). All eight are listed below in order of their longevity with the number of elections won in parentheses. Please note that UK Parliamentary terms have a maximum of 5 years and elections are called at the whim of the sitting Prime Minister. Australia, whilst also having the same 3 year term as the NZ Parliament, have held more snap elections than NZ due impasses in their Senate leading to what are called double dissolutions (snap elections of both the House and the Senate):

Australian Liberal Country Government 23 years (1949 to 1972) – 8 terms (won the 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961, 1966 and 1969 elections)

* NZ Liberal Government 21 years (1891 to 1912) – 7 terms (won the 1893, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1905, 1908 and 1911 elections)

UK Conservative Government 18 years (1979 to 1997) – 4 terms (won the 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 elections)

* NZ Reform Government 16 years (1912 to 1928) – 4 terms (won the 1914, 1919, 1922 and 1925 elections)

Australian Labor Government 15 years (1983 to 1996) – 5 terms (won the 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1993 elections)

* NZ 1st Labour Government 14 years (1935 to 1949) – 4 terms (won the 1935, 1938, 1943 and 1946 elections)

* NZ 3rd National Government 12 years (1960 to 1972) – 4 terms (won the 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1969 elections)

Australian Liberal National Government 11 years (1996 to 2007) – 4 terms (won the 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004 elections)

The list of New Zealand Prime Ministers and their length in continuous office is listed below. Long serving Australian and UK Prime Ministers are added as a frame of reference:

Robert Menzies (Australia 1949 to 1966) – 16 years 2 months

* Richard Seddon (1893 to 1906) – 13 years 1 month

* William Massey (1912 to 1925) – 12 years 10 months

John Howard (Australia 1996 to 2008) – 11 years 9 months

Margaret Thatcher (UK 1979 to 1990) – 11 years 6 months

* Keith Holyoake (1960 to 1972) – 11 years 2 months

* Peter Fraser (1940 to 1949) – 9 years 9 months

* Helen Clark (1999 to 2008) – 8 years 11 months

Assuming the 2017 election is held at a more traditional time of the year (mid November) and also assuming that nothing occurs in the 3rd term of the 5th National Government that causes John Key to resign as Prime Minister, by the time Parliament rises in November 2017, John Key will have served for almost exactly 9 years thus becoming NZ’s 5th longest serving Prime Minister. If he is re-elected for a 4th term then in that term by early 2020 he will eclipse Keith Holyoake and become NZ’s 3rd longest serving Prime Minister. He would need to be re-elected for a 5th term and not resign or be ousted from office before midway through 2021 before he could claim the crown of NZ’s longest serving PM off King Dick.

In examining the experience of these eight 4 term (or more) governments, several key tactics emerge that should be closely adhered to by John Key and his inner circle. Suggestions for National are in bold.

1 – Economic conditions affect a government’s popularity

Economic good times underpinned National’s 2014 3rd term re-election. They kept the Liberals in power in Australia for an unprecedented 23 years – Robert Menzies presided over a 50% growth in real incomes in Australia through the 50’s and early 60’s. Share market and wider economic growth saw Thatcher and the 4th Labour government in NZ re-elected in the mid 1980s.

Likewise sour economic conditions, contractions and high unemployment have cost many governments power (Labour in 1975 and 1990 was swept out of power on the back of very adverse economic conditions). Likewise the Tories in the UK and Labor in Australia in 1996 and UK Labour in 2010 were ejected due to tougher economic times. A collapse in the terms of trade, a severe global contraction on top of the fall in dairy prices could reverse National’s path to surplus and leave it hard pressed to deliver on budget promises making re-election in 2017 much tougher. National’s growth agenda must proceed apace with greater thought given to easing economic reliance on dairy exports.

2 – You must have a plan of transition of power to a rival(s) rising in your own party ranks and this must be carefully managed

In Australia John Howard’s protracted wrangle with Peter Costello as to when he would hand over power destabilized the Howard government. Keating had to fight Hawke to take over Labor. The same tension was evident between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in UK Labour. Holyoake should’ve had Muldoon as his deputy and sooner to satisfy his ambition as his handover to his gentle old friend Jack Marshall meant he was easily outshone by the younger feistier Muldoon. Bolger’s poor handling of Winston Peters led to Peters leaving and forming NZ First. Clark’s failure to have a transition plan is why Labour is in the pickle it is in today.

Robert Menzies was the only long serving PM to leave at the height of his power on his own terms and to ensure he had a successor that was popular (Harold Holt). Menzies won the 1966 election (his 7th) and then after being sworn in as PM resigned as leader and then resigned his Melbourne seat one month later and exited Parliament altogether. The Liberals went on to win one more election and governed for six more years under four different PMs after Menzies left.

Managing Judith Collins will be one of John Key’s crucial tasks in his 3rd term. Mishandling her could result in backbench disquiet that might coalesce around a Collins challenge if National began to consistently poll poorly. Even if the failure to advise her of the delay in giving her the Honourable honourific was unintentional, it created ill will that could fester and was an early unforced error by Key. If she is cleared of any wrongdoing from the Feely SFO interference inquiry, Key should tell Collins privately that she will come back into Cabinet in the next reshuffle if she continues to exercise restraint with her behaviour and public pronouncements.

3 – Disunity destroys governments ….and oppositions

A case in point was Labour in 1990 – its internal civil war was one of the main reasons for its near annihilation. Its disunity in Opposition since 2008 has assisted National’s two re-elections. Menzies stayed in power so long because Australian Labor was disorganized, faction fraught and led by so many leaders. The Rudd v Gillard civil war made it easier for Tony Abbott to win their 2013 election. Australian Labor infighting in the late 90’s and 2000’s helped keep Howard in power. Key and his inner circle must make ongoing caucus and party unity a continuing priority.

4 – Whilst excessive reforming zeal can erode popularity, so can excessive caution

Labour’s flat tax in 1987 was a bridge too far for a centre left party and it led to the Rogernomics related revolt inside Labour that rent it asunder. Howard’s industrial reforms in 2007 were too radical for Australia with its entrenched union power. Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax almost killed the Conservatives until reversed by Major.

Holyoake was steady as she goes for too long especially as economic conditions in NZ worsened after Britain joined the EU. Kirk showed energy and vision versus a tired National Government under an old school PM. National in 1949 defeated Fraser’s tired worn out 1st Labour government. Key should not be content to do a Holyoake and just carefully manage the economy – National need to have fresh new policies but ones that are not too radical.

5 – Stay in touch with and listen to middle, centrist swing voter aspirations rather than the media elites, beltway types and the chattering classes

John Howard won several elections against the odds because he followed that advice. The media and opinion shaping elites pounded him over his hard line over illegal asylum seekers. He pushed for major Australian involvement in the War on Terror after 9/11 and he backed Tasmanian loggers jobs over the influential environmental lobby groups. Key kept pressing on with asset sales and the reform of the GCSB in the face of vociferous media opposition knowing that they were beltway issues not influencing middle NZ voters. Similarly his aggressive stance against Nicky Hager and Kim Dotcom in the face of a virtual media obsession on reporting these sideshows in the last election campaign was found to be largely in line with the majority of voters. Cynics will call this poll driven politics but Key has been remarkably adept at staying in tune with centrist voter sentiment and he should not swerve to the right to carve some kind of policy legacy.

6 – Arrogance in office is a vote killer

Her ‘my way or the highway’ attitude in Cabinet ended Margaret Thatcher’s long run as PM as she was ousted by fed up and humiliated Cabinet colleagues. The 5th Labour Government attempt to shut down political dissent with the Electoral Finance Act and its retrospective legislation legalizing the pledge card rorts were acts of arrogance that angered voters. Part of Keating’s problem when he came to fight his second election was a perception of arrogance. Key must do all in his power to keep arrogance out of his office and from his Cabinet no matter how fractured the opposition may be.

7 – Introducing more extreme policies from the more right or left wing base of a governing party is usually unpopular

Keating moved Labor from a careful centrist mild reforming position to more union friendly industrial reforms, aggressive native land title reform and pushes for Australia to be a republic. Clark’s 3rd term was littered with nanny state interventions like telling school tuck shops to stop selling pies, regulating shower nozzles, banning incandescent light bulbs and flirting with regulating sausage sizzles outside supermarkets. Allowing socially liberal legislation to come to the House (legalizing prostitution and civil unions) distracted from core economic policy and came to dominate the agenda a bit too much.

Roger Douglas’ flat tax proposal was too right wing for even the right leaning 4th Labour government. Howard’s aggressive anti-union legislation proved to be too right wing for the Australian electorate. Likewise Labour’s lurch to the left since it has empowered its harder left base with the change to its leadership election process and its need to fight with the Greens for the left vote has made it less electable. A classic example was the suite of envy taxes it proposed – staple fare for left wing parties but not popular in the wider electorate. National should continue to hew a careful mildly centre right agenda with incremental gradual reforms that allow prior reforms to bed in. National’s welfare reforms have been implemented successfully by following this strategy. National should attempt further reform of the RMA in a similar incremental fashion.

8 – Do not create too many enemies inside your own party

John Gorton the longest serving Liberal PM after Menzies in the late 60’s was toppled by his own party for this reason. David Cunliffe created many enemies in his caucus. Under Labour’s old rules, he would never have been elected and his presence as leader exacerbated factional tensions in Labour. Thatcher’s treatment of her Cabinet was legendary in its rudeness and arrogance. In the end they turned on her.

Key must be careful to manage the egos inside Cabinet and not get too far away from the opinions and views of his wider caucus. He should never become isolated on the 9th floor and hide behind staff and he should consult regularly outside his inner circle of Joyce and English.

9 – Refresh your caucus and front bench regularly

Holyoake’s government was tired by the end. Ditto Labour under Clark. Many 4th term governments succumbed to this and the voters tire of the same faces. National under Key has been superb at revitalisation and Key must continue to foster, develop and promote National’s talent inside and outside of Parliament

10 – Exploit the weaknesses of your opponents

All of the long serving PMs were adept at this. Rather than just watch their opponents fight among themselves, they threw down banana peels to kick this process along. John Key is brilliant at this – he uses Parliamentary Question time to hammer his opponents in the split second before they use Points of Order to object. He is also very good at exploiting the tensions between his rivals on the left driving wedges wherever he can between Labour and the Greens. Key’s tactics of attacking his opposition rivals with cheeky humour and quick, good natured barbs must continue.

No tag for this post.

General Debate 21 October 2014

October 21st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
Tags: