National’s first TV ad

August 20th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

National’s first TV ad. I was pretty critical of some of their advertising last campaign (the opening address was terrible) but I have to say I think this one is well done. A clear crisp message that has resonance, plus a bit of humour.

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Greens want co-Deputy PMs

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

The Herald reports:

Green co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei want to be in a full coalition with Labour and have senior Cabinet positions that reflect their party’s priorities, social justice and the economy.

And they say that the possibility of sharing the role of deputy prime minister has to be on the negotiation table.

So what positions will Hone, Laila and Kim have?

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Clive Palmer does it again

August 20th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Outspoken Australian tycoon Clive Palmer has labelled the Chinese Government “mongrels” who “shoot their own people” in a televised tirade that was criticised by Canberra yesterday as “hugely damaging”.

The billionaire politician, who was elected to Parliament last year as leader of the Palmer United Party also called the Chinese “bastards” who “want to take over this country”.

The mining baron is locked in a long-running dispute over royalties and port operations with Hong Kong company Citic Pacific over its Sino Iron magnetite project, a partnership with China’s state-owned Metallurgical Group.

Politicians are best not to use their positions to favour their personal business interests.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said Palmer’s comments were hugely damaging and urged him to tone down his rhetoric against Australia’s largest trading partner. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she would tell the Chinese Embassy that “these views are not representative of the Australian Parliament and I don’t believe representative of the Australian people.” A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy called Palmer’s comments “absurd” and “irresponsible”, the ABC reported.

And one of his MPs:

Palmer yesterday tried to play down his comments, tweeting that they were “not intended to refer to Chinese people” but to Citic. But he wasn’t helped by one of his senators, Jacqui Lambie, who said she strongly supported her leader’s comments about “China’s military capacity and threat to Australia”.

“If anybody thinks we should have a national security and defence policy that ignores the threat of a Chinese communist invasion, you’re delusional and got rocks in your head,” she said

The Tasmanian is a ex-Australian Defence Force non-commissioned officer. She said China is controlled by “an aggressive, anti-democratic, totalitarian government. We need to double the size and capacity of our military right now.”

I look forward to Australia declaring war on China :-)

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Flavell on Maori Party wins

August 20th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says that Labour ruling out the Internet-Mana Party from ministerial posts shows the importance of the Maori Party sitting with the Government of the day.

Some parties talk about changing things; the Maori Party actually changes things, he says.

“All the philosophies are fine,” says Mr Flavell. “What we have attempted to do is make it happen.”

Mr Flavell speaks in today’s Herald Hot Seat video, the latest in a series of interviews with party leaders.

He said Mana-Internet leader Hone Harawira, a former colleague, “hasn’t got a mortgage on looking after the poor people”.

“He talked about feeding the children … well we’ve done it. Our kaupapa we put in front of the National Party was the Kickstart programme, which is in fact dealing with over 25,000 children in more than 700 schools.”

The ministerial poverty committee led by Finance Minister Bill English had been a Maori Party initiative and had resulted in extending free access to doctors from under-6s to under-13-year-olds. It extended paid parental leave and parental tax credits and led to further moves to insulate homes and address rheumatic fever.

I don’t agree with their world-view and many of their policies, but the Maori Party is a good example of a party that actually achieves things in a constructive manner.

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Mercury Energy

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

Had a phone call from Mercury Energy last night. The rep started the sales pitch and I explained to them that I don’t decide who to buy my power off as the Apartment body corporate has a bulk deal. She brushed this off and continued with her pitch.

I repeated *four* times that I don’t get to decide my power supplier, yet the rep still insists on finishing her marketing spiel and telling me how they are opening their promotion up to Wellington, and can do an 18% discount etc. It was almost surreal.

This is not a very good way to improve brand reputation Mercury Energy. Can I suggest you tell your telemarketers than when someone says they have no ability to decide their power supplier, they don’t insist on carrying on.

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Police Association wishlist

August 20th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A blanket gang patch ban, raising the drinking age to 20, harsher penalties for fleeing drivers, and Tasers for all cops are some of the election year suggestions from the Police Association.

My views:

  • Blanket gang patch ban – no. the state should not dictate what you can wear in public.
  • Drinking age to 20 – no. Give it up. Parliament has now voted three times in 12 years for an age of 18.
  • Harsher penalties for fleeing drivers – yes. There needs to be a greater incentive for people not to flee from the Police, and end up killing themselves and/or others.
  • Tasers for all cops – possibly. I’d like to see data to back that up. How often does a cop have a situation where a taser would have been useful and justified?

 

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NZ Herald on Green policy to pay in work tax credit to those not in work

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

The NZ Herald editorial:

The Green Party is offering a simple answer to child poverty: give beneficiary parents the same wage subsidies paid to low and middle income earners with children. That, the party calculates, would give beneficiaries an extra $60 a week. “This money will transform life for these kids,” said co-leader Metiria Turei. “It’ll mean having warm clothes, school books, lunch and turning on the heater when they are cold.” If only it was that simple.

It will mean more families will be penalised if they go from welfare into work.

Quite apart from the cost this would present to taxpayers ($500 million a year, the party estimates) it is an admission that the extra $60 a week the Greens would put in the hands of parents might not be spent on warm clothes, school books, lunch and home heating. Child poverty is not simply a matter of income.

If it were, then all children being raised on current benefits would be poorly housed, clothed and under-nourished. People’s circumstances vary greatly and the welfare system has become much better at providing allowances for particular needs.

Living off welfare is hard, but most families manage to do it without disadvantaging their kids significantly. And there is a lot of flexibility with hardship grants for those who need it.

The much maligned benefit reforms of 1991 reduced base rates and introduced or boosted grants for accommodation and the like. Ms Turei, as it happens, became a single parent in 1993. She referred to this in her speech, noting that her daughter has grown up in an era of “shocking levels of deprivation and poverty among our children”. Yet in that era she managed not only to raise a child but obtain a law degree with the help of a training incentive allowance.

Six years after becoming a sole parent, Ms Turei graduated from Auckland University and began work with Simpson Grierson. Her experience suggests that the welfare system as it exists is not necessarily a poverty trap.

Absolutely.

National argues the cure for poverty is employment, not just because work can pay more than welfare but because it provides the social mobility that a benefit does not. A job is liable to bring opportunities to broaden skills and responsibilities, increase earnings and productivity.

Work is about more than higher incomes. It brings masses of other benefits.

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General Debate 20 August 2014

August 20th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Prosser 3rd, Williams dumped

August 20th, 2014 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Andrew Williams is set to be dumped to a seemingly unelectable position on the party list, and former MP Ron Mark is set to rejoin the party ahead of the general election. 

Stuff understands a draft copy of the NZ First list, determined by the party’s selection committee last weekend, has Williams ranked at 13 and Mark at 9.

The draft list is understood to have MP Richard Prosser ranked at No 3.

Prosser became infamous in 2013 for writing in his regular column in Investigate magazine, that all young Muslim men – or those who “look” Muslim – should be barred from flying on Western airlines. The rights of New Zealanders were being “denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan”, Prosser wrote. He later apologised for the comments.

The guy who said the most racist thing in the last three years is rewarded with the No 3 spot? Only in NZ First.

I also can’t understand why Williams would be ranked so low, at 13.

While Williams did some silly stuff as Mayor of North Shore, my observation of him as an MP is that he has generally been quite sound and hard working. He hasn’t generated anywhere near the negative headlines of MPs such as Prosser and Lole-Taylor yet he is the one dumped. This is very weird.

Williams said his ranking on the list came as “a bolt out of the blue”.

“I think most people would agree around Parliament I’ve been a pretty able MP,” he said.

“I’ve performed for the party, I’ve done a lot of hard work for the party and I’ve represented the party as well as I could.”

The ranking was no reflection of his ability or contribution, but attributable to internal party politics, Williams said.

“I’ve had the most portfolios of any MP. I’ve had 11, plus I’ve been an associate to Winston on foreign affairs, trade, SOEs and finance,” he said.

“So I’ve had a very heavy workload, and the portfolios I’ve had have been pretty solid ones, like local government, veterans’ affairs, conservation, environment, energy; all of which I’ve been solidly batting on.”

Williams said he would like to know what the selection committee’s criteria were for selecting the top 10 candidates for the party.

He had sought an explanation for the drop but had not received a response.

I think he has been hard done by.

The return of Ron Mark at No 9 is interesting. They’ll need to lift their vote slightly to get him in, but if they do, then they may have a potential sucessor to Peters.

UPDATE: Have spoken to someone close to NZ First and they say that the sole criteria for list ranking is total devotion and loyalty to Winston, so in that context the list makes sense!

They also made the point that while Ron Mark has some relationships with people in National, he is also very close to someone in Mana, and his inclusion should not signal they’ll go with National, but equally be used to form a Labour-Greens-NZ First-Mana-Internet Government.

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Bad ad placement

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

The Herald reports:

TVNZ has apologised for airing a condom advertisement that features a woman talking about her sexual enjoyment during a television movie about one of New Zealand’s most high-profile rape trials.

Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story aired on TV One on Sunday night and told of Ms Nicholas’ fight for justice when she took a police officer and two former police officers to court over allegations of rape.

The small-screen adaptation of her plight, spanning 1981 to 2007, was the most viewed show in its time slot, with an audience of over 305,000, according to Nielsen ratings figures.

During its screening, an advertisement for Skyn condoms aired that featured a woman in her underwear saying how much she enjoyed sex.

The ad attracted immense criticism on TV One’s Facebook page and on Twitter, and complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Viewers said they were appalled and horrified by such an ad played during a real-life account of alleged sexual assault, and said it reinforced a “rape culture” in the country.

“Bloody disgusting seeing a near naked woman pitching condoms in the middle of a harrowing tale … ” wrote Stephanie Kane.

“Great drama and horrifyingly real – bad choice of advert,” wrote Suzanne Mary Bull.

It was totally inappropriate, but I doubt it was a choice. People don’t pick ads to appear during specific programmes or episodes generally. They pick timeslots and channels. The problem would be is that this programme was not flagged as having sensitive content where the ads should be vetted for appropriateness.

Inappropriate ad placement is a bigger problem online. If you write a story on someone hacked to death by an axe murderer, then Google is likely to display ads for axes :-)

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Taking offence

August 19th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Beck Eleven writes in The Press:

In his book, author Richard King argues it is all too easy to give offence. Not only that, but we practically leap at the opportunity to take it.

On Offence: The politics of indignation is King’s first book. Using popular culture examples, he explains how the cycle of giving and taking offence works to shut down debate and democracy.

“The determination to give offence matches the determination to take it,” he writes.

I reviewed his book a year or so ago. It is very good.

“Newspapers have less money these days,” King says. “And let’s face it, it’s cheap, easy copy and it’s copy people want to read. Some sections of the media almost drum up offence. You don’t have to pay a reporter to go to the Ukraine, these types of stories keep generating.”

Among other things, the book examines political correctness, an American pastor bent on burning the Quran, the Tea Party, religious and racist battles.

Finding examples for the book were everywhere.

“If you try to keep abreast of them all, you find yourself sinking beneath them. Offence and indignation are fantastically ubiquitous.”

One only need turn to social media or an online news story to find outrage.

“Comments hang on the end of them like seaweed. It doesn’t matter what an article is on, comments turn very abusive. Road rage is gone and internet rage is here.

So true.

As New Zealanders approach the general election, much of what King says about offence shutting down debate will start to ring a bell.

“The taking and giving of offence is a form of political currency. These days somebody only has to say something is offensive and that is deemed to be their whole argument although no real argument has actually been made.

“The way offence and offendedness is whipped up and weaponised strikes me as being almost corrosive of genuine civility.

“It ends up being more like ‘you have been offensive to me, therefore I am going to grant myself leave to something incredibly offensive back’.

“Offence is bad for democracy because it is treated as an argument in itself.”

His key reasoning in the book is that there is no right not to be offended.

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An example of how it will be better to remain on the benefit under Labour

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

The Herald looks at parties’ social policies and gives an example:

Solo mother Mia Silverman works 20 hours a week in a professional job – but she is virtually no better off than she would be on a benefit.

A media production assistant at Auckland University, volunteer yoga instructor and established singer-songwriter, Ms Silverman is multi-talented.

Mia Silverman with Monty, 4, and Frankie,2. Photo / Dean Purcell

But when she tried working fulltime when her second son Frankie was still under 2, soon after her marriage broke up, it was too much.

“After working two weeks fulltime, I did a breakdown of my budget,” she says.

“What is better – being really, really stressed and working is great, but the stress of running around was too much.”

She received $680-$690 a week on a benefit. Current rates are $299.45 for a sole-parent benefit, $157.17 in family tax credits for two children, and Ms Silverman got about $205 a week in accommodation supplement for rent.

Now her 20-hour university job pays $430 a week after tax, her tax credits and accommodation supplement are reduced, but she also gets the $60-a-week in-work tax credit, taking her total net income to about $850 a week after tax.

Out of that she pays a net $100 a week for Frankie’s childcare after allowing for a government subsidy, a $16 top-up for her older son Monty’s kindergarten because he needs to be there slightly more than the 20 free hours a week, plus $35 for parking at university and $100 a week for petrol.

“I enjoy being back at work, but I’m not really that much better off.”

Ms Silverman is right. The gap between being on welfare and work is sometimes not great. It would be good to have policies that mean there is a greater gap.

But see that $60 a week in-work tax credit. Labour and Greens want to give that to people not working. What will that mean? It means the already small gap between the income on welfare and work may disappear entirely for people like Ms Silverman.

I think it is vital the in-work tax credit remains for low income people in work, and is not extended to people not in work. It may mean people will earn less if they move into work, and hence they won’t.

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Cycle advocates happy

August 19th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Cycling advocates are celebrating the Government’s plan to pump up funding for urban cycleways by $100 million for the next four years.

Prime Minister John Key launched the urban cycling initiative on the Petone foreshore yesterday, chosen because a proposed upgrade of the Petone to Ngauranga Gorge cycleway would be one of the first projects to be considered by a new urban cycleway investment panel.

The panel, to be made up of representatives from central and local government, would advise the Government on where, when and how to speed up development of city cycleways, helping to connect existing routes, as well as expanding the network.

“Everyone knows the health and traffic congestion benefits cycleways can deliver,” Key said.

“Many people cite safety concerns and the lack of infrastructure as the reasons for not cycling. I think we can say that there’s also been some underinvestment in the cycling facilities in urban areas.”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the move would help to address the “major government underspend on cycling facilities in recent years” and showed that most political parties realised the importance of improving cycling infrastructure.

“This is particularly welcome in Wellington, where we have a number of projects close to being ready and some really significant developments being planned with the potential to transform the cycling network, including the Great Harbour Way, Middleton Rd, and our strategic cycling network.”

I’m now a cyclist and I have to say cycling in Wellington is a bit like Russian Roulette. Will today be the day a car door opens in front of me, or will today be the day a car swipes me as it tries to get past me. This is not the fault of motorists (of which I am one), but reflects we have few dedicated cycleways.

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said the extra investment would benefit all road users by making cycling safer in urban centres and reducing congestion.

Yep. Far better if I can cycle somewhere, and not take a car.

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No tax cuts

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

Have been in the two hour PREFU (Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update) at Treasury. These are required by law, after that period in the 1980s and 1990 when incoming Governments got a nasty surprise when they found out the Budget forecasts were so far out of date.

Key points made by Treasury are:

  • Surplus for 2014/15 now projected to be $297 million, down from $372 million
  • Core crown expenses forecast to be 30.3% in 2015, down from 35% in 2011. This is the critical figure – making sure spending doesn’t increase faster than the economy.
  • Economic growth last year was 3.3% against 3.0% Budget forecast. For this year now forecast to be 3.8% against 4.0% Budget forecast.
  • Unemployment forecast to be 4.5% by 2018
  • Average annual wage forecast to increase by $6,600 to $62,000 by 2018.
  • Household disposable incomes rose 7.1% last year and forecast to increase 4.0% a year in future
  • Inflation forecast to peak at 2.5% in 2016
  • Annual increases in house prices has declined from 10% to around 6% in the last year
  • Total cost to taxpayers from the Canterbury earthquakes now forecast to be $15.8 billion
  • Economy still growing strongly and above potential
  • Fiscal restraint remains beneficial and important to stop inflation
  • Trading partners still expected to have strong growth
  • Terms of trade will ease up earlier than in Budget, but will remain above historic levels
  • Should utilise upswing to strengthen Crown balance sheet
  • Weakness in global dairy prices is more a short-term issue, not a structural issue, and not inconsistent with Treasury central forecast

It is a good reminder of how fragile our surplus is, and how we also need to start paying off debt. We are still forecast to have the best of all worlds – a growing surplus, higher after tax household incomes, inflation under control, more jobs, and less debt. I contrast that with the tens of billions being promised by certain parties that will mean higher taxes, more debt and probably no surplus.

The downside scenario, if export prices drop down, and stay low, along with weaker household demand, would be no return to surplus until 2018. That is unlikely, but possible. Again, don’t spend the surplus until we have it.

There are a hint of possible tax cuts. Treasury say “The operating allowance has been added to expenditure as a working assumption, but in practice would be available for a mixture of expenditure and revenue initiatives”.  However Bill English stated unequivocally that there will be no tax cuts announced before the election. He says there is not enough fiscal room at this stage, but does make it pretty clear they do plan some in the future, if re-elected.

I do hope there are tax cuts in the next parliamentary term. They will of course be modest. But as the Crown accounts reach surplus, the surplus should go on a mix of extra spending, tax cuts and debt repayment. It is fundamentally unbalanced to only increase expenditure. Tax cuts are the only guaranteed way to increase household incomes. It would be sensible to target the lowest and second lowest tax rates, or the thresholds they apply at.

Due to fiscal drag or bracket creep and the like, tax as a percentage of GDP will rise without tax cuts.  It is forecast to go from 26.6% to 28.4%. I’d like to see it eventually around the 25% mark.  We should fund extra spending from a growing economy, not by increasing the share we all pay in tax.

It is worth stressing that even by 2018, the surplus is only projected to be $3 billion a year. That can easily be wiped out in a downturn. We do not have the fiscal latitude to embark on huge amounts of new spending – now this year, not next year, not the year after. We can afford some modest spending and modest tax cuts within the $1.5 billion annual operating allowance. We can’t afford promises of $2 billion here, $3 billion there.

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Cunliffe and bloggers

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

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe tried to score a point over John Key yesterday by saying he rarely talks to bloggers, but that seems a stretch.

One of his closest advisers (priming him for the televised debates) is Polity blogger Rob Salmond.

Greg Presland, a lawyer friend involved in setting up his leadership fund trust, blogs as MickeySavage at The Standard.

Labour MPs and candidates often write for TheDailyBlog, and Cunliffe gave an early interview to Martin ”Bomber” Bradbury.

Plus at least three staff hand picked by David Cunliffe to write for him are (presumably) former bloggers at The Standard.

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More on electricity prices

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

electprices

An interesting analysis of the Electricity Industry by the Electricity Authority. I blogged yesterday on how price rises are faster than inflation, but lower than in previous years. This graph shows that the competitive market side is working well. The costs increases are on the sides that are price regulated. To be this demonstrates that Labour’s policy of getting rid of the competitive market in generation is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

The analysis shows that the competitive component of electricity prices were rising at an annual rate of 7.1% prior to the What’s My Number campaign, but since the campaign the annual rate has fallen to only 0.5%, which is well below the CPI inflation rate.  So the focus should stay on better competition, rather than less competition.

I’ve just swapped power companies because my body corporate has signed up for an exclusive deal for power from a retailer. By bulk purchasing for the complex, we get around 2c a unit cheaper. It’s a good example of competition at work.

 

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Some changes for Kiwiblog

August 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Over the last week or so I have seriously considered walking away from Kiwiblog. While some will take huge pleasure in what has happened, let me say that it is genuinely traumatic to have hacked e-mails to and from yourself (even if you were not the one hacked) floating around, and to also realise that because you are a blogger and pollster, it means you and your office is fair game. One of the worst moments was having a senior staff member of mine, who is also a very good friend, tell me that she had been worried that I might think she was the leak, as our politics are different. I hate the impact this is having on so many people.

Some of the revelations coming out, also do not show aspects of the blogosphere in a good light (to put it mildly) and I’ve thought quite a bit about how this impacts the wider blogosphere.

I don’t believe that the book shows me having acted in any way inappropriately. I have  gone out of my way to be open about my background and leanings and relationships, and I follow my own views when I blog – hence why I campaigned against the Government last year on the copper tax (despite being a Chorus shareholder!). I never have taken any form of money or kind for blog posts, and disclose even the mist minor gifts.

There is part of me that wants to walk away so I am no longer a target. Politics is far less important to me than family and friends. I’ve also considered whether to do what Cameron often calls me, and become a travel and arts blogger, and have less or almost no focus on politics. But the trouble is the blog for me is an outlet on what I think – what I like, what annoys me, what amuses me, what appals me. And I can’t imagine it can function as that, if I try and avoid politics. I do genuinely blog because I like having my say – that is my primary motivation.

Also I do like to think, without being immodest, that I do make good contributions to politics in NZ. I can data crunch, I have a 20+ year history of political knowledge which can put things in context, I have good relationships, and I generally get good feedback on my commentary in the mainstream media. I’m far far from irreplaceable, but there are not that many people who have the time, skills and employment situation that allows them to substantively blog.

So after some reflection, I have decided to carry on, but to make some changes. I want to improve trust in myself, Kiwiblog, and perhaps the wider blogosphere. So I’ve decided on the following.

  1. Kiwiblog is sending in an application today to join the Online Media Standards Authority. I’m not doing this so I can be called media. I don’t intend to label myself as media. I’m a blogger. I’m doing it so I can be held accountable to a public code of ethics and standards, and an independent complaint procedure. The code of ethics and standards will apply to both myself, and all guest bloggers here.
  2. I receive up to a dozen unsolicited e-mails a day, suggesting stories to me. Most are from people who are not politicians or staff – just ordinary readers. Some are just links to stories, some make some points on a topical issue. I sometimes quote these e-mails in posts. I have always been very careful to distinguish between content I write, and content people may send me (which I quote as coming from a reader). But I’m going to go a further step and if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary, or political party staffer, source I will state so when using it. I will not name individuals, but if I quote someone I will include information on their affiliations, when relevant. You will find this is very infrequently.
  3. There has been a culture of sharing stories in advance with others who may be interested in the story. Nothing wrong with sharing information. I don’t do it that often, but have when I think I have a particularly relevant story, that others may want to also blog on. This isn’t a conspiracy, it is simply information sharing. However I’m not going to do this in future. Generally no one will gets a heads up on my stories. The exception will be if it is an explicitly co-ordinated campaign such as happened in early 2009 over the pending changes to the Copyright Act, when I contacted blogs from the left and right to take part in the Black Out campaign.
  4. When I have disagreed in the past with stories Cam has run, I’ve tended to say so directly to try and influence him. The joke is my 1% success rate is higher than most.  On the recent case of Tania Billingsley, I said in a phone conversation that I didn’t think speculating on her motives was a wise thing to do. I made contact after a friend of Tania’s asked me to have a word. But I accept that having a direct conversation doesn’t mean I shouldn’t also publicly say when I think something is wrong. So in future I will more often. One can be friends, and say I think you are wrong with what you are doing. And yes we are friends. When I had some health issues a couple of years ago Cam was there for me in a big way, and on a personal note, I know he will remain there for me, and I will for him. But again, it doesn’t mean I can’t say I think you are wrong and shouldn’t do it, just as he regularly calls me out for being a pinko, or the such!
  5. After the election (ie when I have more time) I am going to consult on a tougher moderation policy for the comments. I want them to be robust and forceful, but focused more on issues than people. I have very limited time to read them myself, so probably will ask for some readers to step forward as moderators. We’ll have that discussion in October.

I hope people will appreciate the changes. I welcome feedback on them, and other suggestions. I believe political blogs can play a very valuable role in political discourse, and want to do what I can to be a constructive part of it.

UPDATE: The hone of mainly anonymous bloggers, The Standard, has a go at my decision to have even more transparency than I currently do. And what is hilarious, is the post is anonymous.

Also they print an extract from the book which is totally factually wrong. The party they cite was not organised by me, and I did not even invite anyone to attend. I went to a party in Palmerston North. Around 30 to 40 people attended the party, and they can all attest I was not the organiser. It’s just a smear.

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General Debate 19 August 2014

August 19th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Voluntary does work

August 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Nikki Kaye announced:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today welcomed the announcement by Foodstuffs that it will adopt the Health Star Ratings on its Pams and Budget product packaging.

“Having the support of one of the biggest food retailers in the country is a good sign of industry confidence in this new food labelling system,” Ms Kaye says.

“Foodstuffs has more than 650 wholesale and retail stores in the country, and its Pams brand is the single largest grocery brand in New Zealand. The company has said that its aim is for 1400 of its Pams product lines and 315 of its Budget-branded lines to eventually be eligible to display the Health Star Rating. It has indicated that it is likely that 100 of these product lines will carry the new labelling next year.

“This new system is a significant step in empowering New Zealanders to make healthier food choices. Having a voluntary commitment by a retailer of this scale is a very good sign for the future of the Health Star Rating system, and it is my hope that this move by Foodstuffs will encourage other food retailers to follow suit.”

Ms Kaye announced in June that the Government will be adopting the new voluntary food labelling system, which uses a star rating scale of ½ to 5 stars and is able to be used on almost all packaged food products for retail sale.

I’m all for better information on what is in our food, but I much prefer a voluntary scheme, than a compulsory one. Compulsion should be the last resort, not the first.

This shows that a voluntary scheme can work. I preduct that in say three years, the vast majority of food sold will have the star labels.

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No PMO involvement in SIS OIA release

August 19th, 2014 at 6:08 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

The Security Intelligence Service says neither Prime Minister John Key nor his office played a part in the release of controversial documents to blogger Cameron Slater.

The documents were released to Slater six days after he requested them and posted on his Whaleoil  website.

They confirmed the SIS had briefed then-Labour leader Phil Goff about Israeli backpackers who left the country after the Christchurch earthquakes.

In answer to questions from Fairfax Media today, referred from Key’s office to the SIS, a spokesman said the director was responsible for responses under the OIA “and made the decision to release, and what to release in this case”.

“Under the ‘no surprises’ convention the director or a representative would normally inform the minister’s office about what is being released under the OIA. That’s what occured in this case,” he said.

“Neither the PM nor his office expressed a view as to whether the information should be released, or to whom, or when,” the spokesman said.

So the story about Collins getting a prisoner moved is dead, as is this story it seems.

The SIS Director is the former Cabinet Secretary, a role with the utmost integrity as they directly serve PMs and Cabinets of all political persuasions. If Rebecca Kitteridge says there was no involvement of the PMO in decision making, then that would have been the case.

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More bombing in Iraq

August 18th, 2014 at 4:34 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

The US on Sunday launched two waves of air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants in northern Iraq, in the most extensive American military operations in the country since the withdrawal of ground troops in 2011.

The strikes helped Kurdish peshmerga fighters to regain control of the strategically important Mosul dam captured by militants two weeks ago.

“Mosul Dam was liberated completely,” Ali Awni, an official from Iraq’s main Kurdish party, told AFP, a statement confirmed by two other Kurdish sources.

Well intentioned and probably helping, but what happens when the bombing stops? Will ISIS be weak enough to be take out?

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$100 million for urban cycleways

August 18th, 2014 at 4:16 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The National Party is promising to spend $100 million over four years in new funding on urban cycleways. 

National rolled out its big guns to try to whip up some enthusiasm for the new proposal, but the massed ranks of reporters were barely interested.

Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee visited the Petone foreshore for the announcement this afternoon. 

They attracted a journalistic throng but questions about cycling were over in a flash, then the attention turned to the continuing fallout from the publication of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics. 

Key’s repeated suggestions that the rest of the country would be more interested in cycleways or other initiatives fell on unresponsive ears.

Petone was chosen as the location of today’s announcement because work is under way to develop a route for cyclists between there and Ngauranga alongside State Highway 2.

Key also noted the national cycle trail network launched in 2009 had  grown to 2575kmm with 10 trails in the North Island and 12 in the South Island.

One can be in favour of both roads and cycleways. I am.

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If you want to follow the 100 recommended on Twitter

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


Geoffrey Miller (who co-authored the list) has set up a Tweet list of the 100 accounts to fllow for the election, for those interested.

Actually the list only has 99 members on it, because for some reason Martyn Bradbury has blocked him!

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Norman’s brother-in-law celebrating Nats billboard defacements

August 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Kiwi Oscar winner Anna Paquin and her husband, Stephen Moyer, have landed in Wellington – lending some heavyweight celebrity endorsement to the Greens.

The True Blood co-stars are in New Zealand with their almost 2-year-old twins Poppy and Charlie.

Paquin grew up in Wellington and she and her family are understood to be staying with her mother.

Paquin has been tweeting support for Greens Party co-leader Russel Norman and offered to help put up election hoardings. Paquin’s sister, Katya, is Norman’s partner.

Moyer went a step further in his support, posting pictures to his Instagram account of defaced National hoardings.

“One of the great joys of driving down to Wellington town every day is seeing how the National Party posters have been defaced,” he wrote.

Charming. A big believer in democracy.

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12 reasons cats suck

August 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I love cats but Elite Daily gives you 12 reasons to join the Gareth Morgan camp:

  1. The reason you even like cats in the first place is because of a parasite in your brain
  2. Cats who cuddle with you don’t actually love you
  3. The way cats do show their love is really creepy
  4. If you are alone with your cat and you die, he will eat you immediately
  5. Cats don’t like sweet things, which means they don’t like dessert, and everyone knows you can’t trust a dessert-hater
  6. Cats kill a hell of a lot of innocent animals for literally no reason
  7. Cats are irritating show-offs
  8. Cat poop could give you a fatal disease
  9. Cats’ purrs are manipulative
  10. Cats are f*cking stupid losers
  11. You know how when you like someone, you’re attracted to his scent? Well, cats hate your scent.
  12. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Mussolini and Hitler were all afraid of cats

No 4 is the one that worries me!

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