General Debate 30 May 2015

May 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The importance of data

May 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Collecting information about New Zealanders is important because too often Government delivers policy that makes politicians feel good, but doesn’t necessarily help anyone, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Speaking at the Identity Conference in Wellington on Monday, English said it was important to know “which people were where” across the country in order to tell what particular Government services were making a difference.

“The reason people hand over their PAYE at the end of the week or fortnight… is because they think we are making a difference to someone else’s life. Too often we haven’t.”

He said: “We’ve delivered policy to make us feel good… that made it look like we cared, but we never went back to see whether it made any difference, and actually, we couldn’t because often we didn’t know, and still don’t know who gets our service,” he said.

Good intentions are not enough. One can justify almost any programme and any level of spending based on good intentions. Data is what helps us decide if it is a good investment that actually achieves useful results.

“Take a child under 5 who is known to CYFS, where at least one parent in the household is on the benefit and where either of the parents has had contact with Corrections…we can pretty much forecast now that that child under 5 with those characteristics…by the age of 35 they’re five times more likely to be a beneficiary and seven times more likely to be in prison by age 21.”

English calls these children the “billion dollar kids” and says the more the state knows about them, “we may be able to change the course of that life”.

“If we can’t know that much about them it’s almost certain that we can’t change the course of their life.”

The fact there are 20,000 children in New Zealand with parents in prison proves “we haven’t been making much impact with what we know,” he said.

Data by itself won’t solve these problems. But they at least give you a fighting chance.

To be more effective we need to get the data out of government agencies, and into the public. There are many NGOs and companies that would happily spend time crunching data to try and identify correlations, trends etc. I’d love to see all the justice sector databases (less identifying details) made public – offender, sentencing, corrections etc.

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Fossil fuel subsidies

May 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Fossil fuel companies are benefiting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.

I’m against any form of energy being subsidised. Fossil fuels should not be subsidisied, and neither should (for example) solar power.

However there is a difference between a subsidy and whether a tax should be placed on an activity to cover the public costs imposed by that activity. There is a case for such externality taxes (such as have on tobacco and alcohol) but again it is not the same as a direct subsidy.

The costs resulting from the climate change driven by fossil fuel emissions account for subsidies of $1.27tn a year, about a quarter, of the IMF’s total. The IMF calculated this cost using an official US government estimate of $42 a tonne of CO2 (in 2015 dollars), a price “very likely to underestimate” the true cost, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The direct subsidising of fuel for consumers, by government discounts on diesel and other fuels, account for just 6% of the IMF’s total. Other local factors, such as reduced sales taxes on fossil fuels and the cost of traffic congestion and accidents, make up the rest. The IMF says traffic costs are included because increased fuel prices would be the most direct way to reduce them.

So the actual subsidies are 6% of the total, and the other 94% is not covering estimated external costs.

And which countries have the biggest subsidies?

  1. China US$2,300 billion
  2. US $700 billion
  3. Russia $335 billion
  4. EU $330 billion
  5. India $277 billion
  6. Japan $157 billion



Regular driver testing

May 29th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Southland driving instructor is calling for regular re-testing of drivers in a bid to improve road safety, but the Ministry of Transport has ruled out introducing the measure.

DriveTech director Brian Frew said the thought of a person driving for several decades without being required to demonstrate their ability to drive under vastly different conditions was alarming.

Frew, who has more than 45 years of experience in the automotive industry and instructs car and truck drivers, said it was “little wonder” there were so many crashes under the present system.

“My opinions are just opinions, but I think that every 10 years, people should update their road knowledge,” Frew said.

“Maybe they should even do a practical test, but they should at least have to show that they know the theory of the road rules.”

Road rules, road conditions and vehicles were constantly changing and some drivers may not have looked at the road code for more than 50 years because they were not required to, he said.


I agree. Just because you passed a test once when you were 16, doesn’t mean you should not be tested again for 50 years. I think re-testing every ten years would be a sensible thing to do.


Hehir compares Campbell to Glenn Beck!

May 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in the Manawatu Standard:

He will probably not find the comparison flattering, but I think axed television presenter John Campbell has more than a bit of Glenn Beck about him.

For those who can’t quite place the name, Beck once hosted an eponymous current affairs program on Fox News (having migrated there from CNN). An avowed conservative, he often focused on perceived corruption and extremism within the Obama administration.

The style of Glenn Beck could be characterised as emotional, populist, sensationalist, earnest and, sometimes, paranoid – all adjectives which could also be quite fairly applied to Campbell Live’s programming.

There will be plenty of commentators who would contest this association on the grounds that Beck is Rightwing, and therefore evil and stupid, whereas Campbell is Leftwing, and therefore virtuous and enlightened. However, that would be a distinction based on distaste for an opposing ideology, rather than on any fundamental dissimilarity between the crusading style and partisan programming on each show. 

Hehir says the future is rosy for Campbell:

Hopefully, Campbell will find something professionally fulfilling to do before too long. With his profile and experience he won’t be short of options. You could easily see him slotting into some comfortable role in a centre-Left environment like Radio New Zealand.

But if he’s feeling a little entrepreneurial, maybe he could take some inspiration from his mirror universe counterpart.

On his sacking from Fox, Glenn Beck launched his own subscription news service called GBTV (now called TheBlaze). Freed from the constraints of mainstream television and the advertising revenue model, Beck’s enterprise has gone from strength to strength. Initially an Internet and radio only service, it was back on television as its own satellite channel within a year. 

Oh, and he’s pulled in millions and millions of dollars as a result.

Last year, he met with Google chairman Eric Schmidt  who went as far as to say that “people are going to be studying what Glenn did for years, and trying to replicate it. To have a model where you have Internet and cable companies working together – it’s extraordinary.”

The John Campbell You Tube channel – it could be a real hit!

If just 50,000 of those who signed the various “Save Campbell Live” petitions agreed to pay a small monthly subscription then you would expect Campbell’s team would have enough to get a show going. And without network interference, they would be free to make exactly the kind of show they wanted.

Worth a go.

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The future for public transport

May 29th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Don’t get too attached to your steering wheel and brake pedal because self-driving cars could be hitting our roads sooner than you think.

The first privately-owned driverless vehicles could start appearing in New Zealand in as little as two years, once European manufacturers start bringing them to market, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

Bridges is in the German city of Leipzig to attend the International Transport Forum’s annual summit, where a lot of the talk has been about the rapid pace of driverless car technology and how it could dramatically reduce the number of vehicles clogging up our roads.

Yep, they may be a great way to reduce congestion.

The International Transport Forum – a global think-tank for transport policy – unveiled the results of a major study into the impact of self-driving cars at its summit on Thursday.

It discovered that a fleet of self-driving shared cars could make 90 per cent of conventional cars in a mid-sized city superfluous.

Researchers used actual transport data from Lisbon, Portugal to model the impact of two types of self-driving cars: those shared simultaneously by several passengers, dubbed TaxiBots, and those that pick-up and drop-off single passengers, known as AutoVots.

It found that a large-scale uptake of TaxiBots, in conjunction with high-capacity public transport, would remove nine out of every ten cars from the road without hindering people’s mobility.

I’d happily get rid of my car, if affordable taxibots were available for the occasional car trip. Most of us only use our cars a fraction of the day.

Sarah Hunter, head of public policy at Google’s technology development facility Google[x], said the world was on the cusp of having cars and planes that required no interaction from humans at all, apart from inputting a destination.

“It can take you from A to B without you ever being involved. In fact, it’s so autonomous, it doesn’t require a steering wheel or brake.”

Such vehicles would dramatically reduce the number of road accidents, which statistics showed were 94 per cent down to human error.

“It’s not the car that brakes, it’s the human that doesn’t brake,” she said.

“[Self-driving cars] never get drunk, they never get tired, they never get distracted by a text message.”

Self-driving cars would also improve the quality of life for many, including the blind and elderly who cannot drive.

The is the future, and it will be in our lifetime.


Auckland Council consents

May 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman blogs at Politik:

MPs today heard a revealing account of antiquated systems within the Auckland Council’s Building Control Department.

The Department — which deals with over 17,000 applications for building consents a year – does most of its work on paper.

Sarah Lineham, Sector Manager, Local Government at the Office of the Auditor General told Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee that the Council used approximately $3.5 million of paper in the building consents department because only a few applications were handled online.

That’s a staggering total.

She was being questioned on a report on the Auckland Council’s handling of Building Consents which said that the reliance on paper within the department meant that staff spent 6000 hours a year simply scanning application documents.

That’s three staff who do nothing but scan documents in!

It said staff at one architectural firm estimated that they used two kilometres of A1-size paper a month, much of it for building consent applications.

The Council should make a priority to have an online tool for consent applications. Not just to save millions of dollars of paper, but actually to simplify and speed up the whole process. Ideally consent applications that conform with the unitary plan should be able to be approved with no human review – just like registering a company – all automated.


Yardley on Chch community boards

May 29th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Yardley writes in The Press:

It will come as little surprise to learn the bulk of city councillors who voted in favour of super-sizing the number of elected representatives were indeed the People’s Choice crew, who increasingly vote like a blinkered, partisan block.

Ironically, these civic comrades, who want to rack up a bigger bill on running the council, are the same characters who’ve been particularly vociferous against capital divestment of council assets.

Any credible consideration of getting the council’s financial house in order has completely escaped their priorities.


Dove-tailing with the representation review, the city council is planning to develop a community governance model, whereby many council decision-making powers are devolved to community boards.

The notion sounds fine in theory but do our community boards currently comprise the requisite calibre and nous, to make the hard calls and reach firm decisions, frugally and fairly?

With the council’s Long Term Plan hearings under way, I subjected myself to several days of the process on the live-stream last week.

It was a dispiriting spectacle. One by one, the community board chairs fronted up to the council table, cap in hand, to make their submissions and share their big-spending wish lists – seemingly oblivious to the city’s dire financial predicament.

Most of the board chairs dutifully barked their protestations at council asset sales, like graduating parrots from group-think school.


The Lyttelton-Mt Herbert Board chairwoman, Paula Smith, even had the gall to claim her community supported lifting the annual rates rise beyond 8.75 per cent.

I hope she campaigns on that.

Spreydon-Heathcote chairman Paul McMahon tried to argue that instead of divesting capital, the convention centre should be aborted.

McMahon didn’t seem  to realise the project is being fully funded by the Crown, prompting the mayor to bristle with frustration.

Then the deputy board chair, Karolin Potter, launched a tirade against any council money being lavished on car parking in the central city, because “we should only use public transport to get to the city”.

Adding to the cabaret, Riccarton-Wigram’s Mike Mora called for a spanking regional fuel tax to avert asset sales, until the ever-exasperated mayor, who couldn’t stomach the malarkey any longer, shut him down with quick-fire lecture on how the council was powerless to impose such funding-stream fantasies.

If you were hoping your community board representatives might actually defend your back pocket, and submit savings proposals, to slash the forecast rates hike of 8.75 per cent this year, it was an epic failure.

Might be time to set up a Christchurch Ratepayers’Alliance.

In basically just two weeks, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has gained 6,000 members, as the backlash grows against the 9.9% residential rates increases. That means the ARA now has more members in Auckland than all but one political party. Even better a significant proportion of the members have said they want to be volunteers and activists. I’d be very worried if I was a Councillor who voted for 9.9% rate increases in Auckland or advocated for the same level of increase in Christchurch.

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Ambassador Goff?

May 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I see New Zealand is opening an embassy in Iraq.

I always thought Phil Goff, as a long-serving former foreign minister, would make a great Ambassador.


Young Nats doing their job

May 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Young Nats have said:

The Young Nats support the New Zealand Medical Students Association’s campaign to exempt medical students from the seven year equivalent full time study cap on borrowing for course costs, and want the cap extended to nine years for this group of students.

“The seven year cap makes sense for most students because most courses don’t require study beyond seven years. We know the obvious exception to this is medical graduates who need to acquire essential skills through postgraduate study” Young Nats President, Sean Topham says.

Medical students are in short-supply and are arguably our hardest working. Making it harder for them could put further pressure on the health system in the long-term.

When the cap takes effect in six months, many students close to graduating will find it difficult to finance additional costs of around $15,000, possibly forcing them to delay their study or quit altogether.

It’s good to see the Young Nats doing their job and disagreeing with the Government from time to time. Youth wings of political parties should not just be agreeing with everything their party does. It is healthy for them to have their own views, and to express them publicly.


General Debate 29 May 2015

May 29th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The non driving James Shaw

May 29th, 2015 at 7:14 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

And as for the criticism that he did not drive, “that is simply a statement of fact.”

Aged 16, Mr Shaw decided he would not learn to drive for environmental reasons. He has maintained that stance while living in Wellington, Brussels, and London.

Let’s think about this. James hasn’t decided not to use cars, just not to drive himself. This is like someone saying they won’t cook a meat meal, but they will eat it.

A stance of refusing to drive, on environmental grounds, only makes sense if you refuse to travel by car at all. Does James ever travel by taxi? Does he ever get in a car with a friend? Does he refuse to travel by plane? (plane travel creates more greenhouse gas emissions than car travel – around 80% more)?

Refusing to ever travel by car or plane would be a principled stance. But refusing to learn to drive yourself but allowing others to drive you is not principled. It’s, well a bit weird to be honest.


Press editor on free speech

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

A good column by Press Editor Joanna Norris on free speech:

But from time-to-time issues arise that quietly threaten the rights of New Zealanders to express themselves.

On such threat is a rising tide of offence-taking and indignation, particularly in social media where a discussion can move swiftly and viciously, influencing views and actions.

Smart young Australian philosopher Richard King, author of On Offence: The Politics of Indignation, says increasingly people are claiming it is their right not to be offended. People are not seeking freedom from offence but the freedom to ensure their view prevails, ie they are arguing their right not to be offended overrides the free speech of others.

The echo-chamber of a platform such as Twitter, meanwhile, can silence dissenting views in the face of a vicious mob attack on those viewed to have erred from a ‘right-thinking’ view in the minds of the mob.

The, at times, sanctimonious Twittersphere can be quick to condemn and swift to move on.

But even this presents a conundrum, because members of the  mob are themselves exercising their rights to freedom of expression.

The solutions lie at the heart of the issue itself. Freedom of expression, which underpins media freedom, should be valued and protected. People need to know they are free to state their views, whilst also respecting the rights of others to express theirs, even when those views are not mainstream, or are offensive to a great many people.

Whether you are a fringe activist, member of the power elite or lonely bigot, you have the same right to express yourself. New Zealanders can do this in the knowledge that we are contributing to a marketplace of ideas that can be debated and discussed in a free media. And in doing so, we must all respect the rights of others to have a view different than our own.

Can’t agree more. I wish our Government would do what Tony Abbott did and appoint someone like Tim Wilson to the Human Rights Commission as a dedicated Free Speech Commissioner.

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Ejections from House at record low

May 28th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

As I blogged earlier, Winston was complaining that opposition MPs have been getting thrown out of the House more than Government MPs, and somehow blamed the Speaker for this. In fact half of the 31 evictions have been him and Trevor Mallard, and most of the remaining 15 were National MPs. So we know once again Winston was speaking crap.

I’ve now got data for all ejections from 1999 onwards. What is amazing is how few ejections have occurred, compared to the past. Here’s the data:

  • 1999 – 21
  • 2000 – 31
  • 2001 – 14
  • 2002 – 21
  • 2003 – 54
  • 2004 – 33
  • 2005 – 32
  • 2006 – 41
  • 2007 – 31
  • 2008 – 10
  • 2009 – 2
  • 2010 – 4
  • 2011 – 4
  • 2012 – 6
  • 2013 – 4
  • 2014 – 8
  • 2015 – 2

So Speakers are ejecting far far fewer MPs than in the past. Here’s the total per Speaker, and average per year from 1999 on.

  • Doug Kidd – 21, 21/year
  • Jonathan Hunt – 153, 29/year
  • Margaret Wilson – 109, 29/year
  • Lockwood Smith – 17, 4/year
  • David Carter – 14, 6/year

And the proportions for each Speaker

  • Doug Kidd – 57% Labour, 24% NZ First, 14% National
  • Jonathan Hunt – 34% National, 34% Labour, 17% ACT, 11% NZ First
  • Margaret Wilson – 63% National, 20% Labour, 9% ACT
  • Lockwood Smith – 41% Labour, 35% National, 18% NZ First
  • David Carter – 50% Labour, 21% National, 21% NZ First

And since 1999, who has been ejected the most?

  1. Trevor Mallard 26
  2. Nick Smith 25
  3. Winston Peters 23
  4. Rodney Hide 23
  5. Gerry Brownlee 17
  6. Chris Carter 13
  7. Tau Henare 13
  8. Phil Heatley 10
  9. Bill English 9
  10. Ron Mark 9
  11. David Cunliffe 6
  12. Dover Samuels 6
  13. Wayne Mapp 6

ICT sector growing at 9%

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

Steven Joyce and Amy Adams announced:

The 2015 ICT Sector Report is the second in a series that provides in-depth analysis of New Zealand’s information and communications technology sector, and showcases New Zealand’s very strong performance in the ICT industry over the last few years.  The first report was released in 2013.

“The report shows that the technology software and services sector has been growing at the rate of 9 per cent per annum since 2008 and now contributes 1.7 per cent of GDP,” Mr Joyce says.

“The export performance is particularly pleasing. Exports have grown at 14 per cent per annum over the last six years to exceed $930 million in 2014.

I believe the ICT sector will continue to grow rapidly. Our geographic distance is a major disadvantage for us for many goods and services, but in ICT the distance doesn’t matter.

The challenge is for the Government to have a policy environment which remains favourable to ICT growth.


Parliament 28 May 2015

May 28th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister for Social Development:Does she stand by her statement that “this Government is working with a number of service providers to make sure that those clients of Relationships Aotearoa are well looked after”?
  2. NUK KORAKO to the Minister of Finance: How does Budget 2015 continue the Government’s plan to deliver better public services?
  3. JAMES SHAW to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Has a full and final settlement been reached with Mr Al Khalaf; if so, what is the total cost to taxpayers?
  4. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he seek advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about whether, using the multimillion dollar payment for the benefit of Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf – a Saudi Arabian businessman to cause the Saudi Arabian officials to advance the GCC FTA which had stalled, breached the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions?
  5. BRETT HUDSON to the Minister for Communications: How does Budget 2015 continue the Government’s commitment to the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme?
  6. CLAYTON MITCHELL to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: What is the status of the Health and Safety Reform Bill, and what feedback has he received on it?
  7. ALASTAIR SCOTT to the Associate Minister for Primary Industries: What recent Government initiatives encourage the planting of forests in New Zealand’s regions?
  8. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all the spending commitments made in Budget 2015?
  9. TODD BARCLAY to the Minister of Corrections: What announcements has he made regarding the roll-out of new stab-proof vests to Corrections officers?
  10. EUGENIE SAGE to the Minister of Conservation: What action, if any, is she going to take to prevent Maui’s dolphin going extinct by 2029 given new research showing the population has declined from an estimated 55 adult dolphins to an estimated 43 to 47 adult Maui’s dolphins?
  11. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Does he agree with the Prime Minister who said yesterday that the Health and Safety Reform Bill needs more work because “despite what we might say there isn’t great divisions, there are just interest in making sure we get it right”?
  12. SCOTT SIMPSON to the Minister of Conservation: How does Budget 2015 help to secure the future of the kiwi?

National: Five patsies on Budget 2015 x3, forests, and stab-proof vests

Labour: Four questions on Relationships Aotearoa, the Saudi Arabia farm, Budget 2015 and Health & Safety

Greens: Two questions on the Saudi Arabia farm and Maui’s dolphin

NZ First: One question on Health & Safety

Budget Debate 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm

The Budget debate has 5 hours and one minutes remaining of the 15 hours allocated. They should get through 5.5 hours today. Each remaining MP can speak for up to 10 minutes, and the Minister of Finance has a final 10 minute right of reply.

Technically it is the second reading of the Appropriation (2015/16 Estimates) Bill.


Parental information

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

Stuff reports:

A mother whose teenage daughter attempted suicide after a secret abortion is asking the Government to change the law so underage girls won’t undergo terminations without their parents’ knowledge.

Hillary Kieft, of Stratford, Taranaki, presented a petition calling for an amendment to the law to Whanganui MP Chester Borrows on Monday.

Kieft and her husband Peter found out that their daughter, then 15, had had an abortion organised by her school, when she attempted suicide a year later in 2010.

Six years after the procedure, their daughter still suffered from depression, and was infertile, so would never be able to have children, Keift said.

At 15, their daughter was not mature enough to have made a genuinely informed decision on her own, she said.

The reason she hadn’t wanted to tell them about her pregnancy was because she was ashamed and scared, they found out later.

“She thought that we would be disappointed in her, just the normal family stuff.”

I do not believe there should be parental consent, but I do think that if the child is aged under 16, then the default setting should be for the parents to be notified. I think more harm is done by not having parents knowing and able to support their daughter, than the counter factual.

There should be an ability for a pregnant girl to not have their parents notified, if there are extenuating circumstances. But the default should be, I believe, that parents get notified – just as they would for any other medical procedure on someone aged under 16.


Torture and executions of Palestinians by Hamas

May 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Amnesty International said in a report on Wednesday that Islamist Hamas committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war with Israel.

A ceasefire last August ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

“Hamas forces carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel and others during Israel’s military offensive against Gaza,” the human rights group’s report said.

The report is here. Some extracts:

They subjected at least 23 people to summary, extrajudicial executions. Six of these men, at least one of whom was arrested during the conflict on suspicion of “collaboration” but never formally charged, were extrajudicially executed in public on 22 August 2014.

No charges, no trial. Just an accusation and death. And this is of their own citizens.

In every case Amnesty International has documented, it has uncovered evidence of Hamas forces using torture during interrogation with the apparent aim of extracting a “confession” from the detainee. Testimonies indicate that victims of torture were beaten with truncheons, gun butts, hoses, wire, and fists; some were also burnt with fire, hot metal or acid. 

Again this is how they treat their own citizens.

Good on Amnesty for highlighting these cases.

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Herald on the Green choice

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

Isaac Davidson at the Herald reports:

The Green Party’s choice of a new co-leader on Saturday will come down to two contenders – a sensible, safe pair of hands or a riskier, flashier newcomer who has the potential to lift the party’s vote.

Not a bad summary.

The early favourite, Mr Hague, is the safe choice. The Greymouth-based MP has centred his campaign on his experience – both his seven years in Parliament and his “real world” experience as head of a District Health Board. The huge demands of being a party leader have been understated in the leadership campaign, he says.

“Here’s a reality check. Whoever is elected to this role, that person needs to come into the House next Tuesday, take on John Key and win. That’s not something that someone just has a natural flair for, it’s something that you win the ability to do through hard graft. I’ve done that graft.”

As the caucus’ strategic head, he has played a key role in the Greens’ path to credibility. He has worked hard to downplay the zanier aspects and has banished anti-scientific policies such as opposition to 1080, fluoridation and immunisation.

One of the reasons I like Kevin. He has worked hard to move some of the Greens away from their anti-science beliefs. Not entirely, as we see with genetic engineering and fracking – but some progress.

He is known for his face-to-face negotiating skills and his ability to find common ground, as proven in his work with National MPs on same-sex marriage legislation, ACC, and changes to health and safety laws after the Pike River disaster.

He has a reputation for being level-headed and never raising his voice. But that does not mean he lacks mongrel. Some of his campaigns began with strong attacks on Government policy, followed by negotiation.

In my experience Kevin will focus more on getting a good outcome, than just making headlines.

This is where Mr Shaw comes in. He is 13 years younger than Mr Hague, charming, and moderate. One colleague described him as “Bill Clinton-esque”.

Oh dear. Not sure that helps him.

Mr Hague is sceptical of Mr Shaw’s leadership credentials. He says the MP was only one part of the Greens’ popularity in Wellington, and his recipe for success does not translate to South Auckland, suburban areas and provincial centres. Would he be at home speaking on a marae, to farmers or to trade unionists, Mr Hague asked, and could the wider population relate to a Wellington-based, metrosexual MP who doesn’t drive?

Amused at the homosexual MP saying a metrosexual MP may not appeal :-)

I think both Kevin and James have strengths and will do well. The Greens are lucky to have a positive choice – not just of Kevin and James but also Gareth and Vernon. Their members are getting a say on what the future leadership and direction should be.


The ejection list

May 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Winston Peters has compiled a list of MPs that have been ejected from the House since 2008. He thinks that the fact twice as many opposition MPs get booted as government MPs is the fault of the Speaker. This is nonsense – it is the fault of the MPs.

Opposition MPs often try to get booted out, as a way to get publicity. I bet if you look at the 2000 – 2008 period you’ll also find more opposition MPs were booted.

Anyway which MPs have been ejected since 2008, and how often. They are:

  • Trevor Mallard 10
  • Winston Peters 6
  • Tau Henare 3
  • Jonathan Coleman 2
  • Chris Hipkins 2
  • Paul Quinn 1
  • Phil Heatley 1
  • Clare Curran 1
  • Hone Harawira 1
  • Bill English 1
  • David Parker 1
  • Metiria Turei 1
  • Steven Joyce 1
  • Grant Robertson 1

The real data is that of the 32 ejections, half have been Mallard or Peters. Peters was not even in Parliament for three of those years. Blaming the Speaker for Mallard and Peters continually getting ejected is like blaming the victim of an assault for being assaulted.

If you exclude the two MPs who regularly deliberately try and get ejected as a publicity stunt, then there have been 16 ejections in six and a half years.  Nine have been National MPs, five have been Labour MPs and one Green MP and one Mana MP.


General Debate 28 May 2015

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

The FIFA arrests

May 28th, 2015 at 6:37 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The United States is seeking to extradite corporate executives and officials of Fifa, the international association responsible for governing football  and the World Cup, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday (Thursday NZT).

Swiss authorities arrested six defendants in a dawn raid at a swanky hotel in Zurich on Wednesday on charges stemming from taking bribes, including from countries bidding to host the World Cup.

Those arrested have been taken into custody, a law enforcement official said. If they fight the extradition order, the case could drag on for years, the official said.

Swiss authorities said that six of seven individuals arrested on corruption charges will contest their extradition to the United States, but that one person agreed to be extradited.

In a brief statement which didn’t disclose names, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice said US officials now have up to 40 days to submit formal and detailed extradition requests to Swiss authorities.

“Extradition proceedings will be resumed as soon as these requests have been received,” the justice office said in a statement on Wednesday.

It’s been an open secret that FIFA is basically corrupt, and that there must have been bribes for Qatar to win the World Cup hosting for 2022. Very impressed that finally someone has done something about it, and that charges have been laid. That is the way to stop it in future.

European football’s  governing body UEFA has called for Friday’s Fifa presidential election, where current president Sepp Blatter will seek a fifth term against Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to be postponed, secretary general Gianni Infantino told reporters.

“We strongly believe the Fifa Congress should be postponed with new Fifa presidential elections to be organised within the next six months,” he told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel.

Blatter may not have been charged himself, bit it happened on his watch.

US officials gave details of a case in which they said they exposed complex money laundering schemes, found millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by Fifa officials.

Can’t wait for the trials.

On radio a week or so ago I compared FIFA to the mafia, and reflected afterwards that I may have been too harsh. But as we learn about the offshore bank accounts, I think not.

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Democrat lawmakers much older than Republicans

May 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


An interesting infographic from the US. People see the Republican Party as dominated by old men, but in fact they are significantly younger than the Democrats.

The breakdown in the House is:

  • Over 80 – four Democrats and two Republicans
  • 75 to 79: 12 Denocrats and Two Republicans
  • 70 to 74: 21 Democrats and 10 Republicans

The poverty industry

May 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Asked about measures to tackle poverty and child poverty, Mr English told a Maxim-organised gathering in Auckland last night that those terms have been taken over by ideologues and the government does not trust the way those words are used.

“The term ‘poverty’ has been captured by a particular idea of how you measure poverty and a particular solution to it. That is, you measure it relative to incomes, and the solution is mass redistribution.”

And we should resist that definition. Once you accept that as the definition then the only way you can solve poverty is to massively increase taxes on half the population to redistribute it to the other half. If you accept that as the definition, then the only solution is socialism or communism. Doubling the wealth of every person in NZ wouldn’t reduce poverty by one iota according to some in the poverty industry.

“We are not addressing that phenomenon. What we are addressing is absolute levels of hardship. That is someone not having enough to live, and we don’t think that is worse just because someone else has a bit more.”

But the poverty lobby groups do. They don’t want anyone earning too much more than anyone else.

Incomes are only one part of what keeps people at the bottom of the social heap, he says, and other factors matter more.

Labour have said that lifting benefits by $25 a week is not a solution to poverty, it just makes life easier for those in poverty. They are right. Just increasing benefits is not a solution to poverty.

The solutions to poverty take a generation or so to succeed. They are things such as:

  • Having a free economy and flexible labour market that creates jobs, for those wanting to get off welfare
  • Welfare reforms that don’t leave people on welfare for 20 years
  • Targeting the tail in education with initiatives such as the Investing in Educational Success initiative and charter schools
  • Reducing crime rates, and reducing reoffending rates
  • Reducing child abuse
  • Not taking kids from dysfunctional parents and sticking them with their extended family who are equally dysfunctional

Sadly labour have opposed most of these initiatives, which will actually make a difference long-term in reducing poverty. There is no doubt that being on welfare for more than a short period of time has a huge impact on not just income, but also education and health achievement. The data is crystal clear. So you need to ensure those on welfare are supported adequately, but you need to work just as hard at making sure you don’t leave adults who are able bodied on welfare.

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General Debate 27 May 2015

May 27th, 2015 at 2:47 pm by David Farrar