Small on predator-free NZ

July 31st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

National has prepared a tasty meal for the Opposition by adopting its goal of a predator-free New Zealand by 2050.

Ever since the late, lamented and saintly scientist Sir Paul Callaghan set the challenge – and argued it was feasible – it has been waiting for a political party to pick it up. He was supported three years ago by a group of 18 scientists who met at a Ruapehu lodge to nut out its practicality and decided it was technically possible.

A few years ago it was not possible, but it now is.

It has become the holy grail for a network of conservation groups, who see it as the equivalent of the nuclear-free policy in terms of a source of national pride.

In his last speech before he died, Callaghan said it was like the Apollo Moon mission.  “It’s crazy, it’s ambitious but I think it might be worth a shot.”

That the two main Opposition parties – in their own natural hinterland – left a policy like this for National to seize, and brand as its own, is a major lapse.

Indeed, and it isn’t new. I recall hearing about it from someone in National a couple of years and getting very excited at the ambition behind it.

The response has been to deride the policy as an empty stunt, lacking the required funding and based on as-yet-uninvented pest-eradication measures. All true to a point but just a spoonful of sugar to help the expired rat slip down. It doesn’t change the fact National has scored a major PR coup.

It is akin to a Green version of the 2015 Budget move to lift benefits. It was limited to those with children and the full $25 was not available to all. But as a headline “National increases base benefits” was as effective a theft from the Opposition’s playbook as you could wish for.

(NZ First can be excluded from being on the same page, or even the same planet. The reaction of its spokesman, Richard Prosser,  included the assertion that “our birds and lizards have co-existed alongside ferrets and stoats for more than 130 years, cats for 200 years, and rats for more than 800 years, yet we still have birds and lizards”. If that’s NZ First’s view of co-existence then parties planning any sort of coalition arrangement have been warned.)

Only NZ First could consider stoats and rats etc killing 25 million birds a year as “co-existence”. It’s co-existence of the kind that Hutus and Tutsis had in Rwanda.

At the same time the projected national cost has come down sharply since 2013, when the $25b figure was all the rage, to a still huge $7b-$9b. 

The Government argues the costs are continuing to fall, as new and better techniques are developed to kill the pests. 

Still, any forecast cost is a quantum leap from the “initial” $28m over four years provided to Predator-Free NZ – or even the extra $56m expected from the private sector.

Even adding in $26m for the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge over five years, about $80m for DOC’s pest control and $70m over four years to eradicate bovine TB carried by possums and ferrets, the numbers still lack a few zeros.

So will there need to be more Government cash?

Ministers’ official response is “maybe”. The honest answer is “yes, quite a lot” if it wants to show significant progress even towards its 2025 interim goals – which only double to two million the area of DOC land where predators are suppressed.

I agree the government funding will have to ramp up – could well exceed $100 million a year. But as surpluses get bigger there will be more room to do this.

The claimed long-term economic benefits would be huge for farming. The cost of pests is put at $3.3b a year now. 

And for tourism it would be priceless. A country bigger than Britain without a rat, possum, feral cat or mustelid in sight would be a fantastic drawcard. A policy so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it Steven Joyce.

Yep the economic and tourism benefits are potentially immense.

Australian business leader backing Clark

July 31st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Alex Malley, CEO of CPA Australia writes:

As an Australian business leader, most Kiwis would expect me to back the local horse, Kevin Rudd, when it comes to choosing the next United Nations secretary general.

They would be wrong. I back Helen Clark, and here’s why.

If ever the world needed a strong United Nations secretary general, surely that time is now.

The news cycle is moving so fast, as author Zadie Smith recently put it, the wheels might come off: wars, terrorism, coups, humanitarian and refugee crises, financial crises, far-right nationalism, mass shootings, famine, drought and the return of the spectre of nuclear conflict.

Each line item requires a multi-faceted and coordinated response from the global body, which in turn necessitates enlightened, principled and strong leadership from the very top. Now more than ever.

The world is full of capable professionals, people who are expert in their fields, but the requirements for a great leader are actually quite different. Leaders need to be solution-oriented, consensus builders and eloquent advocates and inspirers of their constituency.

In the case of the UN secretary general, the constituency is the world. There’s no bigger brief and surely that demands we eschew parochialism and get the best person for the job.

I know both antipodean candidates for the post, having met and interviewed Helen, an enlightening experience, I can assure you.

I also have a strong sense of Kevin’s qualities, through his various travails in charge of Australia but also through the lens of his brother Greg Rudd, who I interviewed when he was standing as an independent senator for Queensland.

The picture Kevin’s own brother paints is of a leader who doesn’t build consensus and who does not utilise the best talent around him.

What I’m hearing is that it is very unlikely to be either Clark or Rudd. The P5 members do not necessarily want the strongest person for the job. They want a Secretary-General who is compliant – and that isn’t Helen. One diplomatic source remarked that the P5 ideal candidate is Ban Ki-moon again, but with better English.

So Clark’s chances are pretty low. Even if the US and Russia mutually veto all the Eastern Europeans, I think other candidates are more likely to get through. Rudd not being nominated probably doesn’t change things greatly as he was never really in with a chance.

An annual pork report

July 31st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Good reading is the annual Tennessee pork report. That’s bad pork, not good pork.

General Debate 31 July 2016

July 31st, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Obama’s Muslim half brother backs Trump

July 31st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Kenyan half-brother of President Barack Obama said on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) he supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and not the candidate his brother has endorsed, Hillary Clinton.

Malik Obama told The Associated Press he thinks Trump has a lot of energy and is very straightforward.

“Clinton is not honest because she says that she did not reveal any classified information, and she did. And I don’t see that kind of person being the president of the United States,” he said.

Also, “I do not support same-sex marriage,” he said. “I am Muslim, it’s something God would not approve. The Republican Party doesn’t stand for that.”

No. But they do stand for Malik Obama being unable to visit the United States!

Open Source // Open Society Conference

July 30th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

GOVERNMENT - how can open source tech improve government services - beehive

From the organisers:

Overview of the Open Source // Open Society Conference

The Open Source // Open Society conference will be 2 huge days of inspiration, professional development and connecting. Learn how technology and open ways of working can transform your work, your organisation and our society.

There will be over 400 homegrown and overseas innovators from across the business, government and technology sectors to connect and learn with.

Monday August 22nd and Tuesday 23rd at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Tickets are available at and will sell out.

A front bench of 48!

July 30th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Australian reports:

Labor has been ridiculing Turnbull for the size of his cabinet and last week Tanya Plibersek said it was a sure sign his authority had been shattered — in words that now say as much about her leader as the PM.

“He’s had to appoint all his friends and all his enemies to the frontbench to try and keep peace … that’s an extraordinary approach — just give everybody a job and hope that they’ll stay happy,” she thundered on Tuesday. “The make-up of this frontbench shows that he is worried that his colleagues are coming after him.”

Shorten expanded not just his shadow ministry to 32 but appointed 16 parliamentary secretaries to match the government’s 12 and has adopted Turnbull’s language by designating them shadow assistant ministers.

That brings Labor’s frontbench to a staggering 48 — one of the biggest ever and six more than the government’s 42. What was that about giving everyone a job and hoping they’ll stay happy?

When other prizes are handed out, such as the six people who have the job of whips plus the deputy speaker and deputy Senate president along with formal caucus posts, that’s another 11 positions.

That’s ridiculously large.

Still at least doing better than UK Labor which doesn’t even have 40 MPs willing to serve in a shadow cabinet!

Dim Post on Labour and Greens

July 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McL blogs:

  • The two left-wing opposition parties (Labour and the Greens) aren’t competing against the government in any substantive sense. They’re competing against each other for the same reasonably small pool of university educated urban liberal voters.
  • The reasons for this are partly strategic but mostly cultural: both parties
  • are dominated by members of this small but influential class.
  • So policy and messaging are both directed at them and not at the much larger pool of centrist soft National voters. Which is why Labour spent the first half of the year talking about free university degrees, a universal basic income and medicinal pot, issues of little valence to middle New Zealand but endless fascination to left-wing intellectuals.
  • And its why there’s virtually no movement from National to Labour in the polls. All those voters (80-90% of the population?) are mostly ‘excluded from the narrative’ (to quote Barthes?). The left-wing political parties are working hard, but running as fast as they can just to stay in place with each other in relative terms.
  • Because they’re immersed in their own class, both in Wellington, other urban enclaves and in the social media world, the caucus, party and staffers of these parties are constantly validated by their courtship of this demographic. Only polls and the occasional election interrupt the discourse.
  • And because they are so indulged in terms of policy and messaging, members of this class are baffled by the failure of the rest of the country to be equally persuaded about the merits of changing the government.
  • This culture and process constrains either party from any attempt to break out of this dynamic.

This is pretty spot on. Labour’s big policy is to reverse a policy they brought in 30 years ago and provider even larger taxpayer funded subsidies to students.

Academic correcting an academic

July 30th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis takes the rare but justified step of criticising another academic:

When academics venture into the media to inform the public about their discipline, they have a basic obligation to be accurate in what they say. I’m afraid that Prof. Chris Gallavin has fallen short of this standard.

In an opinion piece published in Monday’s NZ Herald, ProfessorChris Gallavin made a number of suggestions as to how the Court of Appeal should respond to appeals by the killers of three-year-old “Baby Moko” against their 17-year jail sentences. He did so while labelled as “Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, at Massey University”, so it’s fair to say that his commentary was intended to carry the mana and credibility implied by his academic position. Those of us with the privilege of commenting from such vantages have attendant duties.

Given that, as reluctant as I am to publicly diss a fellow academic who has ventured into the media commentary game, Prof Gallavin’s article so misrepresents both the criminal appeals process and reasons for the original manslaughter verdict that a response is necessary. In fact, I think it operates as an object lesson in the risks of academic commentators writing on contemporary topics without stopping and carefully asking themselves “is what I’m saying about this correct?”

So this is not about disagreement of opinion, but accuracy.

Although it hardly needs saying, let’s begin by acknowledging that the actions of those responsible for Baby Moko’s death, David Haerewa and Tania Shailer, were quite reprehensible. They have met with perfectly justified, widespread public condemnation.

And while they have a legal right to appeal their sentences, it is understandable that many regard both their decision to do so and the arguments they are using in support as adding insult to their earlier injurious behaviour. Nevertheless, our feelings of moral repugnance at their actions ought not to replace important matters of legal principle and process. And those with academic knowledge of those matters of legal principle and process have a responsibility to explain why they matter; or, at least, not misrepresent how they work. 

Unfortunately, however, in his Herald article Prof. Gallavin appears to have allowed the emotion of this case to overcome this responsibility. His first suggestion is that “the Court of Appeal ought to take the unprecedented move of quashing the convictions, and substituting them with murder.”

This move would indeed be “unprecedented”, because it is legally impossible. Under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011, where a sentence (and not a verdict) is appealed a court can only alter that sentence. It has no power to quash a conviction, much less impose a conviction for a completely different offence.

So first inaccuracy.

In his article, Prof Gallavin refers obliquely to the Court of Appeal’s alleged “inherent ability to oversee plea bargains” as permitting such a move. With respect, he appears to have just made this power up out of thin air. It has no basis whatsoever in the governing statute.

No 2.

Furthermore, consider what Prof Gallavin’s call really amounts to. He is, in essence, saying that the judges on the Court of Appeal ought to simply declare Haerewa and Shailer guilty of murder without their ever having been tried on that charge and so having had no opportunity to mount a defence. Such a proposal is entirely antithetical to the very rule of law.

No 3. Conviction without trial.

This same problem infects Prof Gallavin’s later suggestion that the Court of Appeal could alternatively “quash the conviction for manslaughter based upon the plea bargain and leave it then for the Crown to come back with charging them with something else – i.e. murder.” Once again, the Court simply has no legal power to do so on an appeal against sentence brought by the convicted party.

No 4.

To reiterate, Haerewa and Shailer’s horrible actions in killing Baby Moko stir real outrage and anger. But when academics venture into the public realm to comment on such matters, especially when they are explaining to the lay reader how legal processes operate, there is an obligation on them to make sure their contributions are as accurate as they can be (always given the reality of human frailty and the fact that the occasional slip-up will occur).

Prof Gallavin’s errors go beyond such understandable slips made in the heat of the moment. It is regrettable that his discussion of the appeal process is so misleading and gives such a false impression of what the Baby Moko case was about. Given his background as a former Associate Professor and Dean of a law faculty, he really ought to know and do better.

This is what shocked me, that such basic errors were being made by a former law school dean.

General Debate 30 July 2016

July 30th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

VCR finally dead

July 30th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The videocassette recorder that revolutionised home entertainment by allowing television audiences to capture their favourite shows on tape and watch them at their leisure will die at the end of the month after a decade-long battle with obsolescence. It is roughly 60 years old.

Known to every child of the ’80s and ’90s as the VCR, the machine became a fixture under the television sets in households as a means for watching movies with terrible resolution, forcing the viewing of grainy family milestones, and recording your grandmother’s daytime melodramas.

The VCR’s demise may come as a shock, mostly because many thought it was already dead.

But Japan-based Funai Electronic Company has continued to manufacture the machines even as several generations of superior entertainment technology have come to market. Now, executives say that a lack of demand and difficulty acquiring parts has convinced them to cease production at the end of July.

I’m trying to think when I got rid of my VCR. It was in fact only a few years ago as I had some old family videos I wanted to keep it for. But then I realised I could digitise them and save storage space.

No tag for this post.

Legendary Divas

July 29th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Had a great night on Tuesday at Circa seeing Ali Harper perform Legendary Divas.

Harper has a phenomenal voice and can not only pull off the songs, but also the accents.


She covers a couple of dozen “divas” including Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Julie Andrews and Dolly Parton.

Harper not only is a great singer, but also an excellent actor. Her facial expressions bring the stage to life, and she also has considerable audience interaction which is hilarious. I was extremely nervous but relieved that the two men picked out of the audience were sitting on either side of me.

She is accompanied by the ever reliable and talented Michael Nicholas Williams on the piano and there is good chemistry between the two of them.

It was a fun uplifting 80 minutes with an enthusiastic audience.

At the end there was a powerpoint tribute to all the deceased divas which was nice, but also a bit sad as a reasonable proportion of them died far too young – 30s and 40s. However many made it into their 80s.

Rating: ****

Australia decides not to nominate Rudd

July 29th, 2016 at 3:51 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he will not be nominating Kevin Rudd to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations.

Speaking in Sydney today, Mr Turnbull said he had decided the former prime minister was not suitable for the role.

He said the federal government would not be nominating anyone for the role.

“When the Australian government nominates a person for a job, particularly an international job like this, the threshold question is, ‘do we believe the person, the nominee, the would-be nominee is well suited for that position?'” he asked.

“My judgement is that Mr Rudd is not, and I’ve explained to him the reasons why.”

Very unusual for a Government not to support a former Prime Minister, but Rudd’s dysfunctional leadership style was well known and hence less surprising that he wasn’t nominated.

Jim it’s not your effing cathedral

July 29th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A working party tasked with finding a solution for the quake-damaged Anglican cathedral is “farcical” and “pointless” if its recommendations are not binding, a heritage campaign group says.

Co-chair of the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT), Jim Anderton, has been campaigning to restore the building. He said the working party’s recommendations, which are expected in December, should be binding for the Anglicans and his campaign group.

This is nonsense, as usual, from Anderton.

His campaign group are not the owners of the cathedral. The Anglican Church are. Of courser any working group can not be binding on the owner.

If someone set up a campaign group around what to do with Jim Anderton’s home in Christchurch, would he agree to a working party having binding authority over what happens to his house?

Should greenhouse gases be calculated based on where they are consumed not produced?

July 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

David Haywood has a useful post at Public Address on climate change policy:

He looks at the greenhouse gases produced to make a TipTip Popsicle in NZ and a Streets Paddle-pop in China,. They are 0.5g and 1.7g so the Streets one has three times the impact.

So what happens when we ask the question (based on our data): “How can we reduce New Zealand’s contribution to global warming in terms of iceblock manufacture?” The answer is obvious. In fact, the answer deserves its own paragraph in bold:

Q: How can we reduce New Zealand’s carbon dioxide emissions?

A: Encourage importation of iceblocks from China and discourage manufacture of iceblocks in New Zealand.

While this answer seems completely stupid (because this strategy would actually raise global carbon dioxide emissions—since the Chinese Paddlepop emits more carbon dioxide than the New Zealand Popsicle) it is actually technically true. This strategy would lower New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions according to the accounting system that we currently use—and therefore be the desirable course of action to take.

This is a major issue. The same applies to dairy. If we shot all our dairy cows and imported milk from overseas, we would look far far better globally, but greenhouse gas emissions would actually increase.

The problem here is that greenhouse gas emissions from energy production are attributed to the country where the actual gases are emitted (which can be calculated easily and reliably using the guidelines of the UNFCCC). A more meaningful system would be to attribute the greenhouse gas emissions to the country where the energy is actually “consumed”, i.e. the country where the energy embodied in goods and services actually ends up. Unfortunately this would be impossible to accurately calculate at the moment (although it can certainly be estimated); and it would require a complicated global system of traceability to produce reliable numbers. So for now we’re stuck with the current system of attribution of greenhouse gases.

Perfect is the enemy of good, so it isn’t an argument not to have any price on carbon. But it is an argument to make sure any extra costs on industries that compete globally do not lead to us merely producing less in NZ, and importing more or exporting less. The only time this would be desirable is if we were using a bigger carbon footprint than our competitors. This is rare as we have such high levels of renewable energy.

To return to our iceblocks, if we levy a cost on the dirty energy component in manufacture of the popsicle then we will increase the total price for the exported product. A consumer in Australia, for example, would then receive a price signal encouraging purchase of the dirty energy Streets Paddle-pop from China rather than the clean energy TipTop Popsicle from New Zealand. This would also be true in terms of encouraging purchase of high-emissions milk solids from Britain rather than lower-emissions milk solids from New Zealand. Both would tend to cause a global increase in emissions of greenhouse gases.

Clearly, therefore, any disincentive that we apply to the production of dirty energy in New Zealand must satisfy three criteria:

  1. Any disincentive must be applied to the embodied dirty energy for goods and services imported into New Zealand.
  2. Any disincentive must also be applied to goods and services within New Zealand.
  3. Any disincentive must be removed from goods and services exported from New Zealand.

That makes sense but would be very difficult to implement.

Tax gains not house purchases

July 29th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Independent economist Shamubeel Eaqub was concerned about New Zealand’s ranking. “We’ve got a tax system with a very light touch when it comes to property, whether it’s capital gains tax or stamp duty,” Eaqub said.

“It would be a very good thing for New Zealand to tax property purchases because we can ring-fence that tax income. It wouldn’t be just a revenue grab but would be used to make houses more affordable and increase the supply of housing.”

It would be a very bad thing. A tax on purchases would make houses more expensive just as GST makes goods and services more expensive.

And using the extra revenue to increase government spending just reduces economic growth.

I’m all for introducing a comprehensive Capital Gains Tax, but it should be revenue neutral – so income and company taxes should reduce to compensate.

New taxes to increase the size of Government are the wrong answer.

Very doubtful a 10c refund would increase recycling

July 29th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Councils have been lobbying the Government for a return to the days of giving cash refunds to people who recycle bottles and cans.  

Bottle refunds are back on the agenda after a push by Palmerston North District Council at last weekend’s Local Government New Zealand conference in Dunedin. 

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith was backed by Auckland Council, and 90 per cent of other councils, in urging the Government to adopt a scheme in which recycled bottles and cans would earn a 10c refund. 

I seriously doubt 10c a bottle would greatly impact behaviour.

The best thing Councils can do is have separate recycling collections for glass. If glass is co-mingled with other products it is only 50% recyclable on average. But glass only recycling is near to 100% recyclable.

If any Council really thinks a 10c refund will change behaviour significantly, why doesn’t one of them trial it and let’s see the impact.

How close are Trump and Putin

July 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting take by Josh Marshall:

Let me start by saying I’m no Russia hawk. I have long been skeptical of US efforts to extend security guarantees to countries within what the Russians consider their ‘near abroad’ or extend such guarantees and police Russian interactions with new states which for centuries were part of either the Russian Empire or the USSR. This isn’t a matter of indifference to these countries. It is based on my belief in seriously thinking through the potential costs of such policies. In the case of the Baltics, those countries are now part of NATO. Security commitments have been made which absolutely must be kept. But there are many other areas where such commitments have not been made. My point in raising this is that I do not come to this question or these policies as someone looking for confrontation or cold relations with Russia.

Let’s start with the basic facts. There is a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump’s coffers and he is conspicuously solicitous of Russian foreign policy priorities.

I’ll list off some facts.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

Marshall concludes that he doesn’t think Trump is a Manchurian candidate for Putin, but that their interests just coincide a lot.

Greens choose the wrong river

July 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Green Party had planned to demonstrate their opposition to the Government’s minimum river standards by wading into a Wairarapa river. …

The Greens chose the popular local swimming spot The Cliffs, halfway between Carterton and Masterton. The spot is highlighted by Greater Wellington Regional Council as one of the most polluted stretches in the region, achieving only a D grade on its water quality index. …

Federated Farmers Wairarapa provincial president Jamie Falloon said the campaign launch was an “absolute publicity stunt”. 

“All the recent statistics point to this being a publicity stunt. In the last 289 measurements taken down from the sewage facility, there has only been one that showed a dangerous level and it was after heavy rainfall,” he said.

GWRC statistics for the Ruamahanga River back up Falloon’s comments, with data showing only one instance in almost three years in which the river exceeded levels deemed unsafe for swimming.  

So it has been safe for swimming 999 days out of the last 1,000 days. A rather large fail for the Greens.

The NBR Rich List

July 29th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The NBR Rich List is here.

  1. HART Graeme$7 billion
  2. CHANDLER Richard$4.2 billion
  3. TODD family$3.3 billion
  4. ERCEG family$1.6 billion
  5. FRIEDLANDER Michael$1.5 billion
  6. CHANDLER Christopher$1.4 billion
  7. GOODMAN family$1.35 billion
  8. JENNINGS Stephen$1.001 billion
  9. FAY Sir Michael$900 million
  10. MYERS Sir Douglas$900 million
  11. RICHWHITE David$900 million
  12. COOPER Peter$780 million
  13. SPENCER (late John) family$720 million
  14. JONES Sir Robert$650 million
  15. JACKSON Sir Peter$630 million
  16. DUKE Rod$600 million
  17. FARMER Trevor$600 million
  18. GOODFELLOW family$600 million
  19. NORMAN Anne & David$580 million
  20. MANSON family$550 million

Very few on the rich list inherited their wealth Most are self-made business people and entrepreneurs,

NBR also profile the top 10 philanthropists. They are:

  1. Sir Michael Friedlander
  2. Dame Rosie Horton
  3. John Hynds
  4. Sir David Levene
  5. Sam and Gareth Morgan
  6. Neal and Annette Plowman
  7. Sir Stephen Tindall
  8. Todd family
  9. Sir James Wallace
  10. Green family

Finally Stuff reports:

Despite saying that he hoped to stop appearing on the Rich List, there has been no such luck for Prime Minister John Key whose wealth has increased $5 million to $60m over the past year, according the the 2016 NBR Rich List.

The PM wouldn’t comment on his wealth when the list was released on Thursday – a stance he has taken since debuting on the list as Opposition Leader in 2008.

I have no idea what the PM is worth, except more than me. But I have been amused that his wealth has been estimated pretty constantly at $50 million since 2002 when he became a candidate. I always wondered why it was assumed it would be static for the last 14 years.

If you assumed a very conservative 4% growth it would now be $86 million and 5% growth would be $99 million.

As I said I have no idea if the initial estimate is correct or the current estimates. But the one thing I would guess is that the wealth in 2016 is a lot more than it was in 2002.

General Debate 29 July 2016

July 29th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Worksafe found to be misleading

July 29th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Government safety agency WorkSafe NZ has taken television advertisements off-air after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled they exaggerated the impact of workplace accidents.

The ASA said the adverts, which were designed to draw attention to the impact of workplace accidents on families, were misleading.

The embarrassing admonishment stemmed from WorkSafe’s claim that more than 23,000 people were severely injured or killed in New Zealand workplaces last year.

Pleased to see the ASA ruling. The definition Worksafe used as severely injured is not one that almost anyone else would think it means.

WorkSafe explained – but not in the broadcasts – that the injuries were ones that required people to have more than a week off work.

WorkSafe NZ chief executive Gordon MacDonald said the government agency made no apology for “challenging New Zealand to do better when it comes to keeping everyone healthy and safe at work”.

WorkSafe should apologise for misleading the public. Good intentions do not justify the means. A government agency of all bodies should be concerned with accuracy.

But its advertisements, which were part funded by ACC, would be “temporarily withdrawn” and edited before being put back on air.    

The ASA said most of the 23,000 injuries referred to by WorkSafe in the adverts were strains or cuts, while there were 44 deaths.

Describing those injuries as “severe” created a misleading impression, the ASA said, especially given the “tone and emotive imagery” of the advertisements which included footage of workers returning from work and hugging their children.

You’d think 23,000 people had broke their legs or worse from the ads.

Wellington economist Ian Harrison, who brought the original complaint, said WorkSafe had been clipped around the ears and he expected it would be “spewing”.

He had taken issue with the adverts because of a matter of principle, he said.

“People can advocate for what they like, but being clear about facts is absolutely essential for government departments. They shouldn’t play fast and loose.”

Well done Mr Harrison.

MacDonald said the complaint about the adverts had been a distraction.

That’s a disturbing view from a government chief executive. Rather than apologise, he labels the successful complaint a distraction.

The claim that generated the most controversy was read out by Griffin’s Foods chief executive, Alison Barrass, who has since been appointed a director of Spark.

Another – read out by farmer Sir David Fagan – that New Zealand’s workplace death and severe injury rate was double that of Australia was also misleading, the ASA said.

Harrison said that while the death rate was 60 per cent higher in New Zealand last year, that reflected the fact that its labour force was more heavily concentrated in hazardous occupations, and the injury rate was not higher.

So it was misleading in two areas.

Just change a few words

July 28th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve changed just a few words in this column saying climate denial should be a crime:

There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny the benefits of free trade. The economic consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term trade sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.

Meta studies show that 97 per cent of published economists agree that free trade is beneficial for all countries and has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.

All of this might be a strange curiosity if the ramifications weren’t so serious. Whether it is the erosion of wealth, an influx of refugees from protectionist countries, or the economic impacts on our primary industries from tariffs, New Zealand must prepare for some significant realities.

The worst of these problems will impact more greatly on generations to come, but to ignore them now is as unconscionable as it is selfish. It ought be seen as a crime.

One way in which everyday crime can be discouraged is to ensure that “capable guardians” are around to deter criminal activity. When it comes to free trade, the capable guardians are educated members of the public who counteract the deniers.

There may be differing opinions on what policies to pursue, but those who deny that free trade is beneficial ought be shouted down like the charlatans that they are. Or better yet, looked upon with pitiful contempt and completely ignored.

There is no room to sit on the fence and say, “I don’t know if it’s true”. Ignorance of the law excuses no one – and so it is with the laws of economics.

Jails are going to end up very full of all those criminal free trade deniers.

UK Labour is a fight to the death

July 28th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

James Kirkup writes in The Telegraph:

There are wars where the two parties fight in the hope of seizing territory, righting a wrong or making a point, before settling the conflict with a deal each hopes will be advantageous to their interests.

And then there is total war, when each side knows that the fight only ends in the total destruction of one side, or perhaps even both. 

Jeremy Corbyn has today confirmed that the struggle underway in the Labour Party is now the political equivalent of total war. 

He did it with these words, at the launch of his campaign to keep his job, when he was asked whether Labour MPs should face mandatory re-selection to stand again as Labour candidates at the next election

“There would be a full selection process in every constituency but the sitting MP… would have an opportunity to put their name forward.

If Corbyn wins, his supporters will try and deselect 80% of the caucus.

If Mr Corbyn, the strong favourite to win, is indeed returned as leader on September 24 and moves ahead with mandatory reselection (backed by many members and the Unite trade union) then Labour would split.  

A number of sitting MPs would find themselves deselected as Labour candidates for the 2020 election, but still in Parliament, effectively independent of Mr Corbyn’s organisation. Some might even chose to stand again against Mr Corbyn’s “official” Labour candidate in their seat.  

It’s hard to see how a Labour Party fundamentally split in such a manner would lead to anything other than a comfortable Conservative election victory. Mr Corbyn’s words this morning could well mean Theresa May is Prime Minister until 2025.

Maybe even 2030, but I imagine she would hand over in her this term.

Is the Mallard as endangered as the rat?

July 28th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes:

Trevor Mallard has taken a more unusual evolutionary pathway. Rather than relying on his electorate for safety, Mallard this week announced he was giving it away in 2017 and instead throwing himself on the mercy of the list. He may regret it. For 2017 is also the year Labour has set itself a target of getting at least 50 per cent women in the caucus.

This is very bad news for Mallard and David Parker and basically any male List candidate.

There are seven more male electorate MPs in Labour than females. And the leader and No 1 List candidate is male. So basically no other male candidate will be able to be ranked in the top 10 of Labour’s effective list.

If this rule applied in 2014, then Mallard would at best be ranked below Ardern, Moroney, Street, Mackey, Radhakrishnan, Jones, Beaumont, and Russell. That will need a huge lift in their party vote to give him any chance.