Future welfare bill reduced by $7.5 billion

March 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Reforms have helped slash the forecast cost of New Zealand’s total welfare bill by $7.5 billion within the past year, a report says. 

The estimated liability of the welfare system is now $69b, down from $76.5b in 2013, according to the latest valuation of the future costs faced by the Ministry of Social Development. 

Based on New Zealand’s current situation – which includes rates of employment, inflation and trends of decreasing welfare dependence – that is forecast to drop a further $5.3b by 2019, according to independent consultants Taylor Fry.

Of the $7.5 billion reduction, $2.2 billion was directly attributed to reforms within the ministry – both legislative and policy changes, as well as operational changes.

That’s great news. Around a third is due to the policy changes that the opposition so vehemently opposed.

The major impact though is from the improving economy and low inflation.


MPs pay rises to be cancelled!

March 2nd, 2015 at 4:39 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today announced an overhaul of the Remuneration Authority Act, tying MP salaries to those of the wider public sector, which will be passed under urgency.

Mr Key says the decision was made after the Remuneration Authority’s latest determination which saw the total remuneration received by MPs increased by about 3.5 per cent.

“That increase was neither necessary nor justified at a time when inflation is at 0.8 per cent,” says Mr Key.

“While the decision was made independently of MPs, they should not be receiving increases which are disproportionate to the wider public sector.”

Mr Key says the Remuneration Authority referred specifically to the criteria contained in the Remuneration Authority Act 1977 as the reason for the increases, therefore a law change was necessary.

The change will take away the Authority’s discretion when setting MP pay. The sole criteria will now be the average public sector pay increase for the previous year.

As I have blogged previously I’m against annual backdated pay increases for MPs. The latest increase was not justified.

However while it is good to see the Government moving to make changes, this is not necessarily the best alternative to the status quo.  It could create a perverse incentive for future governments to agree to high levels of public sector pay rises, so that they get the same increase.

Ministers anticipate more detailed advice from officials on the measure to be used, which will be set out in the legislation, likely to be introduced in the next sitting session.

The press release doesn’t mention urgency, but journalists are reporting it will be passed under urgency. If this is the case, I’m against that happening. Urgency should be for laws that need to be amended urgently because of a loophole. Not for turning down embarrassing pay increases.

At a minimum the proposed new law should go to a select committee for public submissions. Even though the law is reducing the level of future pay increases for MPs, it should not be decided by them, with no public input.

So it is good to see the Government taking action, but it would be good to make sure we have time to consider if it is the best alternative to the status quo.

UPDATE: Actually the press release does mention it is being passed under urgency – at the very beginning. I missed it.

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Yep, Still Got It

March 2nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Yep, Still Got It is on at Circa Two until Saturday 21 March.

It’s a one person show by Jane Keller, who delights and excites the audience for 75 minutes.

Keller is facing retirement and unsure what to do, so she decides to hire a life coach. After her life coach recommends various unsatisfactory options such as being a phone sex operator, Keller decides to become a life coach herself – a job anyone can do with no training!

The rest of the show is spent with Keller playing herself as life coach and her various clients. It is a great mixture of dialogue and singing. Keller is fantastically talented as she sings risque lyrics, combined with facial expressions that have you laughing almost non stop.

Michael Nicholas Williams accompanies Keller on the piano, to his normal excellent standard.

Keller is a master of comical delivery. Not only does she deliver 75 minutes of laughs,but she has to memorise a huge number of songs and verses. Only once during a very long song did she falter, but her grace in asking Williams for a reminder was so smooth, it detracted nothing from the show.

My only complaint is that so many of the problems we heard from clients were so funny and interesting, I would have liked to hear more about what her advice would have been. Regardless a very funny show, that appeals to young and old.

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Shortest press release ever

March 2nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar


Heh. To the point.

No tag for this post.

This should have been known before the election

March 2nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Labour MP Stuart Nash was bankrolled to the tune of $4000 a month by political backers for more than a year leading up to last year’s general election.

Mr Nash’s $99,000 in candidate donations meant his warchest ranked only behind Hone Harawira’s $105,000 courtesy of the Kim Dotcom and his Internet Party as being the country’s best-funded candidate.

The returns showed Mr Nash received $36,000 from Caniwi Capital Partners and $31,000 from Andrew Kelly, mostly paid in monthly instalments dating from June 2013.

Mr Nash also received $5000 from rich lister Sir Robert Jones, $9000 from Parnell accountant Lynch Phibbs and $18,000 from various branches of the Labour Party.

Mr Nash said the two main backers for his ultimately successful race for the Napier elector seat were long-term friends who “believed in what I was doing”.

I’ve got no problems with a candidate being bankrolled by friends, effectively on their payroll so he could campaign full-time.

But this sort of information should be disclosed pre-election, not post-election, so it can be scrutinised then.

Current electoral law only requires donations of $30,000 (for parties) to be disclosed at the time they are made (within 10 working days), while lesser limits apply for disclosure after the election.

I think that any donation that meets the disclosure limit should be disclosed within say a month of being made, not disclosed after an election. Expenses of course must wait until after an elections, but donations do not have to.

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Why would you not wait to find out it is legal?

March 2nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government is being lobbied to bring the tobacco plain-packaging bill back to Parliament for a final vote, now the policy has been found to work “almost like a vaccine against tobacco” in Australia.

The health select committee last year supported the bill but the Government has delayed bringing it back to the House pending the outcome of the challenges against the Australian law by the tobacco industry.

But National support partner the Maori Party and lobby group Action on Smoking on Health (Ash) now say the decline in smoking seen in Australia since its “standardised” packaging law came into force in 2013 means New Zealand can dally no longer.

And public health expert Robert Beaglehole, a University of Auckland emeritus professor, says plain packaging in New Zealand “must be passed with urgency”.

“The Australian evidence shows standardised packaging of cigarettes has had an immense impact on smoking and has worked almost like a vaccine against tobacco use in children and young people.”

Umm, the evidence is far from conclusive. Some data has said a decrease, other data an increase.

Worse of all, the plain packaging came in at the same time as tax increases, so one can’t know what the impact of the measure is.

As I have said many times, the best way to resolve the debate would be to have a geographical trial, where you could compare the change in regions with plain packaging against the change in regions without.

Canberra is defending its law in two cases: before World Trade Organisation adjudicators in a case brought by tobacco-producing countries including the Dominican Republic, and at a United Nations commission’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in a case linked to Hong Kong and tobacco firm Philip Morris Asia.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell rejected the Government’s waiting on the legal challenges. “Waiting for the World Trade Organisation decision means more people die or are sick from smoking-related illnesses.

Smoking rates are, thankfully, already declining in NZ. Waiting to find out if plain packaging is illegal under WTO agreements we have signed up to, is very sensible. Why would we implement a law which a few months later may be ruled illegal?

The firm claimed plain packs had “seen a 32 per cent jump” in Australian teen smoking, from 3.8 per cent in 2010 to 5 in 2013, but the Age reported a Government statistician saying it was not possible to say there had been an increase as the sample size was too small and the change was not statistically significant.

As I said the evidence is contradictory at this stage. It would be good to have robust data that measures solely the impact of plain packaging.


A great weekend of cricket

March 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Went to England vs Sri Lanka on Sunday, and a very enjoyable high scoring game. England looked much better than against New Zealand, making a respectable 309.

Sri Lanka played a very calculated innings in response. They didn’t try to blast their way to an early victory, but concentrated on getting at least five runs an over and protecting their wickets. There were a couple of points where the required run rate got over seven and if they lost some wickets may have struggled. But they kept nine of their wickets and comfortably started powering up around the 34th over and made it very comfortably in the end. Not often you see three centuries in a one day match.

I didn’t see the thrilling Australia vs NZ game, but followed it most of the day through the ICC app on my smartphone. I could only imagine how amazing it would be to see Australia dismissed for 151. Australia! You expect that from one of the bottom teams, not the favourite.

It was looking like the game against England again as NZ hit out and started piling on the runs to get it over and done with. But Australia is not England. They fight back, they don’t give up. And unbelievably they almost won as NZ collapsed to nine wickets down.

At 7.30 pm I was in a theatre with a play about to start, and half the theatre had their smartphones out getting updates. NZ were nine down and needed a six to win and the lights went out. A cacophony of groans went out as everyone realised they would not know whether NZ won or not for at least an hour. The moment we got to half time, phones quickly came out of the pockets and as we saw NZ had won, cries of relief throughout the theatre.

I still think Australia is favourite to win. NZ is in the best form I have seen them for decades, but Australia will have a home crowd for the final. NZ should easily win their quarter final, so the real pressure will come on for the semi-final and final.

Looking forward to many more days of cricket before then.


Organ donation rates

March 2nd, 2015 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Tookey, whose teenage daughter Katie will need a liver transplant eventually, faults the licence database, but also, tongue in cheek, suggests an improvement.

“They ask, donor, yes or no. If they put a question before that, ‘If you need an organ to live, would you accept one’, if they tick yes to that, they are hardly likely to say no to the next question.”

That’s not an entirely bad idea. Ask about being a recipient before you ask about being a donor.

Our donor rate per million population, at less than nine, is around half of Australia’s, and far below the world leader Spain on about 35.

One change we should make is for a donor’s wishes to be paramount, and their family unable to over-ride them.

When an ICU patient’s brain dies, perhaps from a road crash, a breathing ventilator can keep their other organs alive while their family is asked about donation. Grief may make it hard for a family to hear their loved one’s death could save others. Fifty-three per cent of licence holders have indicated “yes” to being a donor, but ICU and donor staff don’t routinely check the database.

Janice Langlands, of Organ Donation NZ , said they looked only if the family asked, as many already knew their loved one’s wishes.

This is all wrong. The database should have legal force,and the first thing that should be done is to check the database, and then simply inform the family of their wishes.

The Health Ministry says if family members report the person had stated their wish regarding donation, doctors are legally permitted to act on this, but can choose to follow the family’s position, even if it contradicts the patient’s.

I think we need a law which gives legal force to the wishes of someone deceased or about to die – both for details of burial (to stop body snatching) and for organ donation.

Ms Langlands said ICU staff followed families’ wishes out of concern for their wellbeing.

“I personally don’t believe that we should ever be more interested in the potential recipients and the wellbeing of an unknown recipient than we are about the wellbeing and health of that family at the time

When do the wishes of the person who agreed to donate get taken into account?

Families did not always oppose donation. Some permitted donation even when the licence said no, as the person had falsely believed he or she was too old.

Also wrong to have the family say yes if the person has said no.


David Howells on immigration and prosperity

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

ACT had a competition for people to submit their vision or views on what we could change to make New Zealand better. The five finalists presented their essays to the ACT conference, and delegates voted on the one they most thought deserved to win. There were questions from the audience, to which the five finalists had to answer and respond to.

All five did well and won $500, with the winner getting $3,000. That was David Howells for his speech. He probably got the most hostile questions but answered them well, and still won the vote. I thought his essay deserved a wider audience.

More Immigration, More Prosperity

New Zealand is a country built on immigration. We have more ethnicities in New Zealand than there are countries in the world – quite an achievement for a population of only 4-and-a-half million.

Our immigration regime has come a long way:

In 1944 New Zealand abolished the poll tax, which for decades was a discriminatory tax imposed on all new Chinese immigrants. In 1987, New Zealand came to the realisation that not just British citizens would make good immigrants. We have now stopped accepting immigrants based on British heritage, and now look at ones skills, and family connections when considering new immigrants.

This has led to people from a much wider range of nationalities being allowed to become New Zealanders.

But despite this, today in our schools, in history and social studies classes, it is always taught that New Zealand is bicultural nation.

Perhaps this is a useful description of New Zealand society in the 1800s. But history can only explain how things were – it is not a guideline for how things ought to be.

The idea of New Zealand being a bicultural society is outdated. We need to recognise New Zealand is home to diverse range of cultures. 

In our economy, immigrants bring skills to the workforce that New Zealand companies need. 

With technology advancing and more free trade agreements accelerating the process of globalisation, it is impossible for governments to be able to predict our future competitive advantages or even what skills will be in demand in the future.

In a globalised world it is now more important than ever to have flexible labour markets. An open immigration system is key for future New Zealand business to be able to get the skills they need to grow.

Immigrants also own businesses that employ New Zealanders. They work hard, sometimes in multiple jobs, to give themselves and their family opportunities that they might not have in their home country.

There are many opponents to our current, relatively open, immigration regime. The objections are not unique to New Zealand – the same arguments are used as justification to oppose immigration all over the world.

 On the surface the opposition to immigration often comes across as plain xenophobia. But underpinning what on the surface looks like simple xenophobia, are some of the oldest economic ideas around.

It is often expressed in the form; if an immigrant gets a job, or purchases some capital asset – it is at the expense of a local. This is the same kind of economic thinking that views the economy as a finite amount of pie, where for someone to get a bigger slice, someone else has to have smaller slice.

Immigrants do not take the “pie” from locals – they help grow it for all of us. 

The benefits immigrants bring are not just economic. Diversity enriches society by exposing us to a broader range of people with backgrounds, perspectives and languages we might not otherwise encounter. (And my god – fantastic food!).

And while we should be proud of our relatively open immigration system – there is more to be done.

I know of small businesses having to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops with immigration services to prevent good employees from being sent back to their home county.

I recently met a man who has lived and worked here in New Zealand for two years. He is seeking a better quality of life for himself and his family. But he has not even seen his wife or son for two years – waiting for immigration to grant them visas.

This kind of sacrifice is admirable – but it shouldn’t need to be made.
If you are willing to come New Zealand, stand on your own two feet and work hard, you should be allowed to come, bring your family, and stay.

I want New Zealand’s immigration system to become even more welcoming to immigrants and new-New Zealanders. An open immigration system will be a cornerstone of future prosperity and enrich our communities.

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Democracy in Russia declines further

March 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Boris Nemtsov,  a Russian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister, has been shot dead in central Moscow, the Interior Ministry says.

Nemtsov, 55, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, had been due to take part in the first big opposition protest in months in the Russian capital tomorrow.

He was shot four times late on Friday night (local time), not far from the Kremlin in the centre of Moscow. Police cars blocked the street where he was shot. An ambulance was also nearby.

“Nemtsov BE died at 2340 hours as a result of four shots in the back,” an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said by telephone.

I have a general rule of thumb – any death or arrest of an opposition leader is usually linked to the person they are opposing.


General Debate 2 March 2015

March 2nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Candidate returns

March 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Been looking at the candidate returns for the 2014 elections. A few stats.

  • There were no anonymous or overseas donations (above the reporting limit)
  • The most well funded candidates were Hone Harawira who disclosed $105,000 of donations and spent $16,000.
  • Stuart Nash received a massive $99,000 in donations. The breakdown is not yet online
  • The Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tokerau received $95,000 from the Maori Party which seems weird as it was in their interest to let Labour win there.
  • Two Mana candidates received $60,000 each but spent only $13,000 and $20,000 respectively
  • Todd McClay had the highest donations for a Nat candidate at $50,000
  • 173 candidates in total had a discloseable donation
  • The candidate who spent the most on newspaper advertising was Clayton Cosgrove at almost $16,000
  • Alastair Scott spent the most on radio advertising at just over $9,000
  • The highest spending candidates for Internet advertising were Andrew Bayly, Tamati Coffey, Nick Smith and David Seymour who spent $6,400, $4,600, $4,200 and $3,500 respectively
  • The highest spending candidate overall was Ron Mark in Wairarapa at $25,491, then Callum Blair (Conservatives) then Annette Sykes. In fact the five highest spending candidate all LOST. David Seymour was the highest spending candidate who won on $24,481.
  • Lowest spending Labour candidate was Arena Williams (Hunua) on $1,587 and National candidate was Brett Hudson (Ohariu) on $2,517
  • Lowest spending candidate who got elected was Meka Whaitiri on $5,853 and for National Jacqui Dean on $7,001
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Cricket ratings on TV

March 1st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Regan at Throng blogs:

In 2011, when New Zealand made the semi finals of the Cricket World Cup, the average audience on Sky Sport per match that the Black Caps played in was only 67,930 viewers. The highest average audience was 79,530 between New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

In 2015, the Cricket World Cup is in New Zealand and the Black Caps matches are screening on both Sky and their FTA channel, Prime. The opening match between NZ and Sri Lanka had an average audience of 161,280 viewers on Sky and another 145,940 viewers on Prime.

The difference in average audience between the last 2 years is quite considerable.

That’s a huge growth from 2011.

Back in 1995 (we couldn’t go back any further without someone logging hours in physical paper journals), the most watched match was between New Zealand and Pakistan on the 17th of December. The average audience for that game, was a staggering 602,950 viewers.

Further more, that equated to 19.3% of the entire population of 3.1million viewers.

In the 1980s (and to a degree the 1990s), cricket was massively watched on TV. We’re regaining some of the viewers of the past, but I guess today fewer people are just watching TV overall.


Following on from zero fare Saturdays

March 1st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Wellington Greens have proposed zero fare Saturdays on public transport.

Black Heart has responded with an even bolder proposal:

In other global news, the Black Heart Party regional economic transport development spokesfan Ned Davy has called on Greater Wellington Regional Council to introduce “zero-fare September” flights to London as part of a five point plan to get indigent 50-somethings to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. “To be honest,” said Ned, “my liver’s not really up to a full boozy month in Pomgolia, but if that’s the price of getting a freebie to the party, I’ll take one for the team.”

He also highlighted the importance of reducing naval congestion around the Cape of Good Hope as desperate fans paddle their home-made waka towards Twickenham. “It’s going to be bloody chaos off Cape Town in August, and frankly the only reasonable course of action is to get us away from the whales and into an airplane seat.  It doesn’t have to be business class, we’ll settle for premium economy. Or one of those snuggle couches, so long as I don’t have to share with Brother Phil.”

Mr Davy emphasised the regional economic benefits of the new policy. “The Euro zone region’s having a rough time of it, and we’ve all got to make sacrifices to help those poor English publicans scratch a living.  Throw in an Athens stopover, and we promise to put a fair dent in the Greek region as well.”

He mused aloud about the climate change benefits of the policy. “If all four million of us bugger off to Blighty for the full month, New Zealand would reduce it’s annual carbon emissions by 8 percent straight off, right there.”

About as sensible!

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Guest Post: Saved by peer to peer travel

March 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Deane Jessup:

Saved by peer to peer travel.

I just discovered the Uber of the accommodation market, airbnb.com and it is awesome.

Innovations that break established business models are becoming so common it’s getting hard to know how tomorrow will look.  New peer to peer business models are happening on a regular basis and though some like Uber and crowd sourcing are playing out very publically, others are simmering away waiting to be discovered as the need takes.  Airbnb has been around a while, but with some well-formed habits, it took a bit of a nudge for me to discover it.  Now I just want to share it with everyone.

This week a client had invited me to the Cricket so I decided to travel to Wellington.  However I made one major error; a compulsive user of last minute booking websites, by the time I went to book accommodation this was the last room available in the entire city:


As I’m a married middle aged male I thought it might not be the room for me, and after giving up trying to invent a justification for my wife to let me book it, I found myself contemplating packing a tent and sleeping bag.  Out of nowhere a colleague said to me “have you checked airbnb.com?”

I had never heard of it.

Nonetheless, 10 minutes later I had an account, had booked a miraculously available room for $120 a night, and was on my way to the airport.

While en route a lovely Chinese gentleman called me to confirm my booking and arrange to meet me after I landed.  Down in Wellington a quick Uber ride later (at half the cost of a normal Taxi) I was meeting the owner at a nice self-contained two bedroom apartment in Mt Victoria, walking distance from the restaurant area with an amazing view from 5 stories up over the city.

Not only had this new discovery saved me  an uncomfortable nights sleep, but the apartment I found was so good that it would have cost me 2 times as much to book through a regular Hotel.

I am hooked.  A quick look through the slick and easy to use mobile website and the android App shows me tons of bargains, many normal places, and some amazing hires like several Igloo options, and a treehouse with a view of San Francisco.


I had to provide a drivers licence photo, social media verification, a mobile number, and credit card details to get it all running, but it was quick, painless, and it is nice to know that like Uber everyone in the supply chain is verified.  And not only does the system introduce people faster and save you money, but you can even book parts of properties to really right size your requirements.

Inc.com named airbnb.com 2014 company of the year and said the following “Disruptive, brazen, and overall brilliant, the (possible illegal) home sharing empire has become the biggest lodging provider on Earth.”  The reference to ‘possibly illegal’ is due to an ongoing battle about taxes, San Franciso recently passed a law aimed directly at them and collected tens of millions in back taxes. I think the hallmark of a good business is that it challenges regulators to think outside the square

Either way I am now a committed user, and as with Uber it is mostly because of the convenience and ease of use of the business model.  The savings are a bonus.

Seriously, if I hadn’t found this I would have been on a mates couch, pulling an all-nighter, or in a sleeping bag on Oriental Bay beach.  My view is that the world is changing for the better, and we like the businesses themselves need to adapt and adopt, peer to peer business is here to stay and If you’re still holding out from trying services like Uber or airbnb then your loss is many others gain.

The Internet is brilliant for connecting customers and providers without the traditional companies in the middle.


Osborne wins National’s nomination

March 1st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Mark Osborne got selected by 120 local delegates yesterday to be National’s candidate for Northland.

He is based in Taipa and is former General Manager of the Te Ahu Charitable Trust in Kaitaia. Currently the Asset Manager for Far North District Council. He is also a Trustee of Mangonui School, and helps run the family-owned local business Doubtless Beauty.

He’s won awards for his work in business, and to win the nomination against such a strong field says a lot.

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General Debate 1 March 2015

March 1st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

No money for legal bills

March 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Internet giant Kim Dotcom still owes Simpson Grierson $2 million, the High Court at Auckland has heard. 

Considering that Dotcom has enough money to stick $4.5 million of it into the Internet Party, then it must be galling to Simpson Grierson that he says he can’t pay them.

He wants $200,000 per month for living expenses

That is almost $7,000 a day. Even five fulltime staff would only cost $1,000 a day.


Anti-extremist blogger hacked to death

February 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger known for speaking out against religious extremism was hacked to death as he walked through Bangladesh’s capital with his wife, police said Friday.

The attack Thursday night on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, occurred on a crowded sidewalk as he and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University. Ahmed, who is also a blogger, was seriously injured.

Police have named no suspects in the attack. Roy was a prominent voice against religious intolerance, and his family and friends say he had been threatened for his writings.

Similar attacks in the past in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people, have been blamed on Islamic extremists.

About 8.45pm on Thursday, a group of men ambushed the couple as they walked toward a roadside tea stall, with at least two of the attackers hitting them with meat cleavers, police Chief Sirajul Islam said.

The attackers then ran away, disappearing into the crowds.

Two blood-stained cleavers were found after the attack, he said.

Roy had founded a popular Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona, or Free Mind, which featured articles on scientific reasoning and religion.

So he was hacked to death because he opposed religious extremism and supported scientific reasoning.

All brutal deaths are sad, but I find especially sad when people are killed because of what they say – ie they are targeted speciifically.

No tag for this post.

Not quite right

February 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matt Nippert writes:

An analysis of electoral finance declarations shows more than 80 per cent of donations to National Party candidates were channelled through party headquarters in a loophole described as akin to legal “laundering”.

This statement is not correct. They did not go through party hq at all, or even near party hq. Some people donate to the *local* electorate committee and the local committee, if it has excess funds are paying the levy to hq, will partially or fully fund the local candidate’s campaign. It has nothing to do with party hq.

Electoral law requires candidates to reveal the identity of donors who contribute $1,500 or more, but political parties can keep donors secret even if they give up to $15,000.

There is a case for a lower disclosure limit for donations to electorates, rather than the main party. However it would be difficult to word such a law, as they are part of the same legal entity.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow strongly rejected any suggestion that donations to candidates from the party were used to obfuscate the source of funds.

He said the practice had more to do with time-frames around candidate selection and a longer-term fundraising cycle. “National is fundraising pretty actively throughout the three-year election cycle. People are donating to support a race before there’s even a candidate selected,” he said.

Mr Goodfellow said these donations were therefore impossible to tag to candidates and, “as our people often really give to the party”, were not be subject to the $1,500 declaration thresholds for candidates.

That’s a fair point. Even sitting MPs are not confirmed as candidates until election year – sometimes only three months before an election. So any donations prior to then *must* go to the party.

But it is fair to say that some donors prefer to give to the local party, rather than direct to a candidate’s campaign fund, because it does mean they can donate more than $1,500 without disclosure. However if they do so, they can not dictate how the electorate uses that donations. It might just as much go towards paying their levy to National HQ, their contribution to the party vote campaign, to covering local expenses or towards the candidate’s campaign.

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Deaker on Team NZ

February 28th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Murray Deaker writes:

Dalton must realise that his use-by date has been and gone. I believe he has made three fundamental errors that mean many sailors and certainly a large number of sports journalists have lost respect for him.

Dalton should never have called a lay-day during the last America’s Cup.

It should not have been his call. It should have been the sole right of Dean Barker to make that call, as skipper. Barker didn’t even know that Dalton had made the call. Dalton made the call for commercial reasons … some of the key sponsors hadn’t arrived in San Francisco and he wanted them to see the final victory. This decision, on its own, is so bad it should have led to his resignation.

Second, Dalton should never have been on the boat as a grinder. Russell Coutts pointed out the folly of this to Dalton in a public debate before the event began.

Winston Macfarlane was recognised as a much better grinder, being stronger, younger and more focused.

Third, Dalton lost his focus and some of his behaviour off the water in San Francisco, meaning he lost the respect of his team.

If Team New Zealand is to survive it will do so only if Dalton resigns. He has had his day and it is unbelievable that there is no one on the board of Team New Zealand prepared to tell him so.

The decision is one purely for Team New Zealand, except …

If this was a private syndicate, we would have no right to know anything. However, this is a team that revels in the title Team New Zealand, that raises money because it uses the name of our country and that thrives on our support, our patriotism. That comes at a cost. We need to know the facts and we need to know why the next challenge will lead to a success, not another failure.

It is apparent that the Government, John Key and Steven Joyce particularly, have not realised the depth of feeling against Team New Zealand. If the Government funds Team New Zealand under its present leadership and structure, it will pay for it at the polling booths. I could not bring myself to vote for any party supporting the current bunch.

String words, but ones shared by many.

Does Team New Zealand have a future? Unquestionably. But that future must be without the baggage of the past.

There is no question Barker’s days with Team New Zealand are over. Yet no self-respecting man would tolerate the way he has been treated.

I believe Dalton is past it and before his reputation is completely tarnished, he should resign.

Clearly the board needs new direction and strength. This can only happen with a clean-out there as well.

There should be no doubt an the minds of anyone involved in TNZ that the rank and file of New Zealand sports fans now view you as a dysfunctional, unstructured group that has hopefully had its last hand-out from the Government.

I hope they can sort themselves out, but like Deaker I don’t want any taxpayer money going towards them unless they look like a professional focused team that has a very real chance of winning the America’s Cup, and bring it back to NZ with the economic returns it would generate. At present they should be on their own.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy

February 28th, 2015 at 10:43 am by David Farrar

Leonard Nimoy has died aged 83. he is of course immortalised as the original Spock, whose cultural impact is almost incalculable.

Before he was an actor, he served in the US Army for two years. He appeared in many TV series and films in minor roles before Star Trek including appearing with William Shatner in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

He played Spock from 1966 to 1969 in Star Trek, and in the first six feature films. He also appeared in the two JJ Abrams movies, as the elder Spock. He actually invented the Vulcan salute.

Both the generation who grew up on Star Trek, and the generation since will mourn his passing. Live long and prosper no more.

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How far can sledging go?

February 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Alexander Bisley interviews Grant Elliott for the Guardian:

On the topic of Australia, New Zealand’s fellow World Cup hosts, where does Elliott stand on the controversial sledging that caused such a storm during India’s pre-World Cup visit there? “I like to see emotions in cricket. You don’t mind sledging as long as it’s not personal. If it gets to that personal side then it’s just childish, like you’re in a playground again, six years old. I don’t mind it because I think it brings out the emotions in players. I think the public want to see emotions, they want to see a battle, they want to see a fast bowler versus someone who’s trying to hit him out the ground. So I quite like those battles. If there’s a couple of verbals, like I said, if it doesn’t get personal, that’s fine. It’s just the heat of the battle. Obviously the umpires are there to make sure it doesn’t get to a level that’s unacceptable.”

David Warner was fined for his part in an ugly on-field spat with Rohit Sharma during that Tri-Series, and Elliot is keen to stress there is a line that must not be crossed. “You have to keep reminding yourself of the spirit of cricket and not take it to that level…I was brought up in the Johannesburg league system, so that was pretty hairy. I started playing league cricket when I was 14, so the abuse that we got was definitely not acceptable.”


I see sledging like caption contests. They should be funny, not nasty.

The all time best sledge and retort in my view was:

McGrath: “Why are you so fat?”

Brandes  “Because every time I fuck your wife, she gives me a biscuit.”

The entire Australian team were in hysterics at that.

A close second is:

Rod Marsh : “So how’s your wife & my kids?”

Ian Botham : “The wife is fine but the kids are retarded”

The nastiest sledge I have heard of was the teams that made choo choo sounds at Chris Cairns, referring to his sister’s death in a train crash. That is just nasty and sick.


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General Debate 28 February 2015

February 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Hehir on supporting “the family”

February 28th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in the Manwatu Standard:

My brother and I grew up on the same family farm but now live in different parts of the country. We are independent of one another, we are busy pursuing different priorities and each of our lives is truly our own. That doesn’t mean that the familial bond between us is meaningless.

If he makes some request of me, I would always give it very serious consideration.

As it is with families, so it is with nations and there is a natural affinity between those countries that share a Britannic inheritance. Winston Churchill spoke of the common bonds of the “English speaking peoples”. New Zealand historian James Belich has written of it as the “Anglo-World”. The term that seems to be vogue now is the “Anglosphere”.

But whatever you call it, it is a very real phenomenon. Some historians say that future generations will look upon the Anglosphere as we look upon the ancient Greeks and Romans – an interlocking group of nations and cultures forming a common civilisation. Along with Britain and the United States, its core members comprise Canada, Australia and New Zealand – as exemplified by the “Five Eyes” security alliance.

This closeness is not based on race. An Italian American has little ancestry in common with a British Pakistani or an Australian Aborigine. There is no such thing as a “Canadian” or “New Zealand” ethnicity. Our familiarity is instead bound up in shared traditions like the common law, habeas corpus, trial by jury, free enterprise, private property, freedom of speech and, of course, the English language.

That we find ourselves fighting shoulder-to-shoulder is not because of any blood fealty, but because our shared culture leads us to see the world in similar ways.

A very elegant explanation.

Another occasion that comes to mind is the Malayan campaign during the Cold War. New Zealand participated in this British-led fight to save the South East Asian peninsula from the Communist yoke, contributing warships and airstrikes. It was a 12-year war of difficult jungle fighting and bombing but, unlike the Vietnam War, it ended with an Allied victory.

Today, Malaysia has a system of government modelled on the British tradition and remains part of our extended family through the Commonwealth. It is a flawed but functioning democracy that gives lie to the notion that Muslim majority countries cannot also be fundamentally free societies. The fight was worth it and we can be proud that our ancestors did their part.

Malaysia is better than many countries. I do wish they’d stop arresting their opposition leader on trumped up charges though.

Does this mean that we should follow our Anglosphere partners without question? No. New Zealand should only ever go to war when such actions are justifiable in the national interest. Our support should never be taken for granted.

I wouldn’t lend money to my brother for a business venture I would be convinced would fail. I also wouldn’t lend him money to do something illegal, like set up a drug ring. In the same way, New Zealand’s backing for any military intervention should always be subject to the same caveats.

Basically Hehir says you always treat requests from your “family” seriously, but you don’t automatically say yes to them.

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