Herald on anti flu vaccine health workers and unions

August 5th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It beggars belief that any nurses employed in public hospitals would be allowed to decline vaccinations against winter flu. It strains credibility further to hear these nurses complain they are obliged to wear face masks in the wards. And it is nothing short of disgraceful their national union, supported by the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, backs them up.

I agree.

The flu is not chicken pox. People die from the flu. Lots of people. Why would a hospital worker not want a free flu vaccine?

Plenty of people outside the public health services decline flu vaccines, even when provided free in workplaces. This is a free country and people are free to make unhealthy decisions for themselves, even when their decision reduces the immunity that can be provided for the community. The best health authorities can do is to promote and practise good sense, based on medical research.

Nurses and other health professionals are also free to question the wisdom of immunisation or any other medical practices if they wish, but if so they should look for a job with an alternative provider.

If you accept a job in a hsopital working with sick people who are especially vulnerable to illnesses such as influenza, then you lose discretion over whether or not to have a vaccine. Just as if you accept a job as a teacher, you may have a dress code to comply with.

And Waikato DHB hasn’t even made it compulsory. They’ve just said wear a mask, if you won’t get one – and you work in clinical areas.

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Should Police be able to tell partners about abuse history?

August 5th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Justice Minister Amy Adams has told police to revise their guidelines so they can secretly warn people if their partner has a history of violent abuse.

Ms Adams said she was waiting to see how well a United Kingdom law went before introducing measures that would allow people to go to the police themselves to find out whether their partner had convictions for abuse.

However, as a “sensible first step” she had asked police to review their operating guidelines so they could notify people if their partners had a record of domestic abuse.

This seems sensible, even laudable, to me.

But privacy issues were involved in allowing people to request that information themselves. Currently, someone else’s criminal record could only be shared with their consent. “So you’ve got to start thinking how you would draw that line where if someone is moving in with someone, how do you prove that’s the case, what’s the level of connection before they should be able to do it.”

Well personally I don’t think criminal records should be private. They are all handed out in open court (except where suppressed). I actually think all convictions (except minor ones the clean slate law applies to) should be listed online in a searchable database.

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Who’s right?

August 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A Wellington man watched in tears as Wellington City Council demolished his historic Owhiro Bay bach on Monday morning.

Duncan Mackay’s bach is one of five that have perched on the hill at Mestanes Bay, on the wild south coast of Wellington, near Red Rocks, for as long as 100 years.

He bought his Heritage New Zealand-listed Stevenson bach for $10,000 in March 2012, lived in it for two years, and was renovating it to live in and, one day, pass on to his 13-year-old daughter.

But on Friday, the council told him it was going to demolish the bach on Monday, claiming his $40,000 of renovations meant it was no longer entitled to be considered a heritage building.

On Monday morning, Mackay drove around the coast to see his bach being torn apart, the roof gone, men in high-vis jackets breaking down the interior.

“This is crushing me,” he said as he looked on, tears in his eyes.

“I wanted  to pass it down through the family … Now I’m homeless, I’m literally sleeping on a friend’s couch.”

You read this part of the story and you think the Council has acted appallingly. But you then read on:

Not much of the original materials of Stevenson’s bach remained, but Mackay said he had been in regular contact with Heritage NZ and was replacing everything so it looked “absolutely, totally the same”, down to its pine-green corrugated-iron exterior and the angle of the roof.

“I’ve done what I was told to do. I think this is council squashing the small guy and destroying a piece of south-coast heritage.”

But the council, which owns the land, said the work bore no resemblance to the heritage bach.

“He did have possession of a heritage bach on the site, and he demolished the heritage bach and now is illegally building a new bach on the site,” council spokesman Richard MacLean said.

“We are having it demolished because it’s on public land and we are the landowner, and he’s illegally building on public land…”

Mackay would not be compensated, MacLean confirmed.

The other Mestanes Bay bach owners, who had also made significant renovations, should not be concerned because the council still considered their properties “heritage baches”.

“They are still substantially original buildings ,” MacLean said. “He [Mackay] has demolished his bach, that’s what that big pile of broken wood is.”

He said Mackay was not homeless, as he lived elsewhere in Wellington. The bach was a building site and was uninhabitable anyway.

I’m not sure the Council is in the wrong here. There is a difference between renovation and replacement.

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857 blocked, only one million to go

August 5th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

India has blocked hundreds of adult websites to prevent pornography becoming a social nuisance, a government official said on Monday, sparking a debate about censorship and freedom in the world’s largest democracy.

In India’s first big crackdown on Internet porn, service providers have been directed to block 857 websites, N N Kaul, a spokesman at the department of telecommunications, told Reuters.

“Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check,” Kaul said.

“We don’t want them to become a social nuisance.”

Yeah, that will work. Idiots.

Last month, the Supreme Court refused to impose an outright ban after hearing a petition that said Internet porn fuelled sex crime. The court said individuals should be free to access such websites in private.

So the Government is ignoring the court.

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Employment and Unemployment up

August 5th, 2015 at 12:25 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

The unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent in the June 2015 quarter (up from 5.8 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. At the same time, there were 7,000 more people employed over the quarter (up 0.3 percent).

“Even though employment grew over the quarter, population growth was greater, which resulted in a lower overall employment rate for New Zealand,” labour market and household statistics manager Diane Ramsay said.

“Despite lower quarterly growth, this is still the 11th consecutive quarter of employment growth, making it the second-longest period of growth since the period between 1992 and 1996,” Ms Ramsay said.

That’s now bad.

Over the year to June 2015, employment growth was still fairly strong (at 3 percent) with 69,000 more people employed. The manufacturing industry showed the strongest annual employment growth.

Who remembers the claims on a manufacturing crisis?

The changes are:

  • Employment up 7,000 for the quarter and 68,000 for the year
  • Unemployment up 2,000 for the quarter and 10,000 for the year
  • Labour force up 10,000 for the quarter and up 79,000 for the year
  • Manufacturing jobs up 10,000 for the quarter and 22,000 for the year!

Despite the increase in the unemployment rate NZ has gone from 13th= to 12= in the OECD. Our rate remains lower than Australia and Canada but higher than UK and US.

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General Debate 5 August 2015

August 5th, 2015 at 11:13 am by David Farrar

My bad. KP is away, and I forgot!

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RIP Les Munro

August 5th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Brave and principled but compassionate and unassuming – Les Munro was the sort of Kiwi character many talk about but few live up to.

With his death on Tuesday New Zealand lost one of the greatest of a generation that put service before self.

In conflict he bravely gave service to his country in the one of the most daring raids of WWII with the Dambusters.

In peace he gave decades of service to his small community and then stood up to help when his wartime mates were in danger of being forgotten.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand has “lost a remarkable man who led a remarkable life” with the passing of Munro, the last remaining Dambuster from the RAF 617 Squadron.

Munro died in Tauranga Hospital on Tuesday at 6.15am.

“I was honoured to meet Les Munro in person when I attended the presentation of his medals to Motat just a few months ago,” Key said.

“His contribution to his country and his generosity will not be forgotten,” he said.

Sad he has died. He seemed quite spry and active at the ceremony to hand his medals over to MOTAT.

I honour both his service in WWII, but his spirit of generosity in wanting to sell his medals to fund the British war memorial to his colleagues.

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Did UK Labour lose due to social media?

August 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Helen Lewis writes at the New Statesman:

Here’s my melodramatic theory: social media lost Labour the last election and it’s going to lose Labour the next one, too.

It sounds bonkers, doesn’t it? But look at it like this: “political Twitter”, the small subset of the social network that isn’t tweeting about One Direction or surfers being ­attacked by sharks, is undeniably skewed to the left. Twitter probably evolved into lefty heaven as a reaction to the right-wing dominance of the printed press, and because of the many arts and comedy bigwigs who imported their existing followings on to the platform. Most progressive commentators and columnists are on there, tweeting away several times a day, while their right-wing equivalents avoid the service altogether, or venture on very occasionally to share a link to their piece.

Then there’s Facebook, a much bigger fish, which ought to be more reflective of the wider population because it’s made of networks of schoolfriends, former colleagues, and parents and children. But news on Facebook travels through “Likes” and shares, and people won’t Like a crackdown on benefits, even if they secretly support it. A lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is “virtue signalling” – showing off to your friends about how right on you are.

It was this “Tyranny of the Like” that had many social media users convinced that Ed Miliband could squeak the election; after all, their friends seemed to be lapping up the mansion tax and the action against non-doms. No one seemed enthused about taking £12bn off the benefit bill, or reducing the help given to disabled people.

Yes, social media has allowed people to create echo chambers where they only hear from people who agree with them.

Labour’s attention should turn to the next election and picking a leader who can beat him.

Instead, a large number of constituency parties are nominating Jeremy Corbyn, even though he doesn’t want to be leader, has never held a leadership position in the party and could never find two dozen fellow-travellers to form a shadow cabinet. Clearly, these CLPs don’t think that Corbyn is their best shot at beating Osborne, overturning his unjust policies and enacting Labour ones instead. They are doing it to signal that they are on the side of right and good.

The American writer Matt Bruenig calls this “purity leftism”. As he wrote in 2012, “When purity leftists do actions and organising, their interest is not in reducing oppression as much as it is in reducing their own participation in it. Above all else, they want to be able to say that they are not oppressing, not that oppression has ended.”

Remarkably, it looks like he may win.

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A flag submission by Penny Tucker

August 5th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Penny Tucker is a former diplomat and trade consultant. She has facebooked her submission on the NZ Flag, which I thought was very good so am quoting here.

Dear Flag Consideration Panel
I wanted to add my perspective to your process. I am a proud Kiwi who is passionate about New Zealand. I have the current New Zealand flag flying four feet from my bedroom window. I treat it with respect. I lower it to half-mast on instruction from Wellington. I am asked to take it down, fold it respectfully and put it away when my husband is out of the country. When it fades as a consequence of being battered by the extreme climate in Ottawa, I politely ask for a new one. So the current flag and I muddle along quite well. But I don’t believe this flag represents a modern, multicultural New Zealand.

I agree.

Recently, I have been saddened by the fact that what should be a spirited and productive discussion about New Zealand’s identity has become a partisan and petty political skirmish.

Yep, those who campaigned on changing the flag and said they support a referendum (you, Andrew Little) have now decided they’re against.

But I am not surprised because I am very familiar with what happened in Canada, exactly fifty years ago (we are celebrating the anniversary as we speak), when the flag here was changed. The process of getting the flag changed here was fraught. The removal of the Union Jack caused protests in the streets. The good people of Quebec were up for ditching the Union Jack but disagreed virulently about everything else. The lack of any blue border on the final design seemed to get the collective knickers of monarchists in a big twist and, in an oft quoted survey, many Canadians thought that the red maple leaf version was a rip-off from a biscuit packet and was too simple and “cartoonish.” The drawn out battle was divisive, bitter and, at times, physical. The process literally caused riots in the street. Yet I remain to be convinced that avoiding change to avoid controversy is a good innovative strategy for anyone. So what happened? The maple leaf is so Canadian it might as well start up a hockey team and say “eh” at the end of every sentence.

I doubt even 1% of Canadians think moving to the maple leaf flag was a bad move. It has become an iconic symbol of Canada.

I don’t have a particular affinity to, or dislike towards, the flag which flutters outside my bedroom window. But perhaps this in itself is a criticism: it is not an articulation of how I see New Zealand. It does however mean a lot to the many dog walkers who endlessly transverse our street and loudly and happily observe that the Australian Government has done a great job building such a modest yet modern t Official Residence for their Ambassador.

Heh.

Day after day after day. I am very keen to see the black and silver flag added to your short-list list. Side panels and a silver fern. To me this flag incorporates the colours of our national identity. The fern is the adult articulation of the koru. The design is simple and avoids being a smorgasbord of symbolism. Some argue that a flag is not a brand but in a globalised world into which kiwis are fully integrated, a bit of branding surely isn’t a bad thing? Our soldiers have worn and still wear the fern. Our representatives wear the fern. The fern is etched into the culture of our country. I doubt that a fern will look dated in due course because it has always marked a path along which Maori, Pakeha and a plethora of other more modern migrants have walked. We have a once in a generation opportunity. An opportunity to celebrate our coming of age. And I wish you all the best with your deliberations.

I broadly agree.  I’ve seen a number of designs I like, but what they all have in common is the fern. It is already our de facto national symbol, and I’d love to see it on our flag.

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No more bail outs for Solid Energy I hope

August 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is reluctant to purchase Stockton mine to protect the jobs of nearly 250 workers, but a decision on its fate is drawing near, says Prime Minister John Key.

An announcement on the future of the West Coast coal mine’s owner Solid Energy is likely to be made within the next few weeks.  

But neither liquidation nor the Government retaining key assets were “preferred options”, said Key. Ultimately the fate of Solid Energy, which had up to 700 employees, rested with the banks who carried its considerable debt. 

If Solid Energy is not a viable business, then the harsh reality is that it must close. I hope it doesn’t, but I don’t want any more bailouts of it.

Coal is a global commodity with the price set by global supply and demand. NZ has no ability to control that price. If it is too low to be profitable for Solid Energy, then little we can do about it.

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Lumley on GST from foreign websites

August 4th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Thomas Lumley blogs at Stats Chat:

From a Retail New Zealand Media Fact Kit

“The amount New Zealanders spend on goods from foreign websites is approaching $1.5 billion and this number is growing all the time.”

GST is 15%, so the total GST payable on an amount approaching $1.5 billion would be approaching $225 million.

Since $1.5 billion would be approaching $900 per household (1.68 million households according to StatsNZ), I assume it includes quite a few business purchases as well. For these, any increase in GST on the purchase would later be deducted from the business’s GST liability, leaving a net zero.

For non-business purchases, some of that GST is already payable under current law (if the total value of a single package is over $400). Some would still not be payable if the threshold was lowered to $25.  Also, some might not be payable and definitely would not be easily collectable at the border because the purchase is an electronic download — e-books or music, for example.

Putting all these together, the potential increase in revenue has to be less than 15% of $1.5 billion, though it’s hard to say how much less.

So the absolute most is $225 million but it could be much less than that.

The Media Fact Kit says

“The Government misses out on at least $200 million in tax (maybe as much as $500 million) every year”

Based on their expenditure numbers, that doesn’t look plausible.

So don’t believe their claims.

One of the differences between a Treasury Regulatory Impact Statement and a “Fact Kit” from a lobby group is that the numbers in the RIS have to add up and the document needs to give sources. If, as Radio New Zealand reports, there will be a proposal for Cabinet this month, we might be able to get some real numbers about the likely revenue and costs, and perhaps even how the economic impact would compare to other ways of raising taxes.

Indeed.

If the Government drops the threshold to a level that means books and minor purchases get detained by Customs, then the compliance costs will chew up a lot of that revenue – and piss off a lot of New Zealanders.

 

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The failing charter school

August 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Of the nine charter schools in NZ, eight are doing well. Some are actually looking to deliver some spectacular results.

One of them is not doing well. In fact it has been failing badly. That is Te Pumanawa o te Wairua.

Stuff reported:

Parata said since she issued the school with a final notice a number of steps had been taken to fix the problems, including appointing a new chair, disestablishing two management positions and replacing them with a “highly regarded principal”, reviewing policies and procedures and “gaining the support of key local leaders”.

But Parata said those measures did not go far enough to convince her the school should remain open.

Consequently the board has agreed to work with the Ministry of Education to appoint a new leader, one or more trustees nominated by Parata and a trustee with “recognised financial and business background”.

“If the board had not agreed to those changes, I would have issued it with a notice to terminate the agreement when I met with it in Whangarei just under three weeks ago.”

The school has been provided with an extra $129,000 this year for “the extra costs associated with implementing its remedial plan”.

“The board also knows that I reserve the right to terminate the agreement sooner if I am not satisfied the students are being provided with the standard of education they need and deserve.”

I can understand not wanting to close the school down mid year as that will be very disruptive for the 39 students at the school. But when you look at the Deloitte report, it is very clear that it is failing badly, and I think it is almost inevitable it will close – and probably should have been closed now – rather than at the end of the year. I can understand why you want to reduce disruption for the students, however on balance I think the school should have been closed now, not given another chance.

One of the things I like about the charter school model is that are way way way more accountable than other schools. They sign a contract with many hard and fast metrics they need to meet. These include:

  • NCEA achievement levels (81% get Level 1, 67% Level 2)
  • NCEA achievement improvements
  • Unjustified absences (2.8% maximum)
  • Stand Downs (2.1 days per 100 students)
  • Suspensions (0.42 days per 100 students)
  • Exclusions (0.15 days per 100 students)
  • School Culture

So the model is excellent. In fact wouldn’t it be great if every school in NZ had to sign up to explicit targets.

But this school is not just narrowly missing out. They are failing massively. For example no one has achieved NCEA Level 1.

The attendance rate has been between 60% and 78% only.

The accounts are a mess, and there were $4,000 of cash withdrawals or eftpos payments for non educational supplies.

So I think the school should close, unless there is a miraculous turn around.

This doesn’t negate the value charter schools can bring some students. Part of the model is that the schools that do well, grow and prosper, while those that fail can be closed down. This is unlike public schools where it can sometimes take years and years of failings to bring about significant interventions.

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NZ still has lowest gender pay gap in OECD

August 4th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

gendergap

This was tweeted by Conrad Hackett of Pew Research.

I’d previously blogged a similar graph with 2012 data, but this includes 2013 data.

Now only do we have the lowest pay gap in the OECD, but it is massively smaller than countries such as Australia, UK, US and Canada.

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The Maori Language Month beatup

August 4th, 2015 at 1:05 pm by David Farrar

newsclip

The SST had a front page lead about how the PM had reduced a young girl to tears because he had dismissed her idea of extending Maori Language Week to a Maori Language Month as boring.

The story was based on second hand testimony from another student (who seems to be an activist on Maori language issues) and had no verification from anyone at all.

Well I’ve been sent a copy of this article from a local newspaper, whose reporter was actually in the room! The key quote:

I was there, right in front covering the event for The Post Newspaper, and that’s not what I heard or was led to believe in any way,

The SST could have verified the claim with the journalist there. They decided not to, and smear the PM with an unsubstantiated story.

He also says:

When I read the headlines that Mr Key said “Maori Language Month was boring” I could not help but wonder if I had been to the same assembly.

And in case you think it is just the reporter,he spoke to a number of students who were there and they mostly agreed with the reporter that Key did not say what was claimed.

What this reporter has done is proper journalism. What the SST is not.

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Corbynomics

August 4th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Lynn at The Telegraph reports:

Start to look at Mr Corbyn’s proposals in detail, however, and they make Ed Miliband seem like Margaret Thatcher. He inhabits a make-believe world, where money can be conjured out of thin air and every problem can be fixed with more state control.

Such as? Well, for starters Mr Corbyn wants to scrap university tuition fees. How will that be paid for? Apparently through a 7pc rise in National Insurance for anyone earning more than £50,000 a year or a 2pc rise in corporation tax. Among Corbynites, people earning £50,000 are considered the “rich”, or perhaps even the “super-rich”. And, in fairness, it is significantly more than the national average. But by anything other than the standards of the hair-shirt, vegetarian Left, it is a fairly modest wage – few people trying to support a family on £50,000 a year in the South East will feel they can spare 7pc of their income to subsidise students who will later go on to well-paid jobs.

So an extra 7% tax just to pay for one promise!

As for raising corporation tax, a constantly recurring theme of all Mr Corbyn’s economic proposals, it overlooks a couple of inconvenient facts. The first is that globally competitive corporate tax rates have helped to attract a lot of inward investment – pretty helpful for a country that runs one of the world’s biggest trade deficits, and needs lots of foreign money coming in to pay its bills.

The second is that as corporation tax has been lowered, receipts have been booming. In July, for example, corporation tax receipts rose 13pc, far ahead of economic growth, and with a faster rate of growth than any other single tax. If you put the rate up again, the revenues collected will go down – leaving a nasty black hole in the funding of those free university places.

Capital is now mobile. Hike up company tax too much, and the capital will happily move elsewhere.

Then there is his idea of a “People’s QE”. It sounds a bit like The X Factor – perhaps we could get Simon Cowell to chair the MPC live on TV and we could all text in to say how much cash we want the Bank of England to print this month. It turns out, however, that the idea is for the Bank to “be given a new mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large-scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects”.

Mark Carney might well feel he has enough to do already, what withcontrolling interest rates, inflation and regulating the City. But, heck, in a few spare hours on a Friday afternoon, he could just print a couple of hundred extra billion, and use the money to start building publicly-owned housing estates.

Never mind the inflation!

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French law should not apply to the NZ Internet

August 4th, 2015 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Google is pushing back against France’s data privacy authority after the watchdog ordered the search engine giant to extend the so-called right to be forgotten to its websites globally.

France’s data protection authority CNIL should withdraw an ultimatum threatening Google with fines unless it delists requested links across its network, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a blog post on Thursday.

“We respectfully disagree with the CNIL’s assertion of global authority on this issue,” Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, said in the post. The French regulator’s order from last month “is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the Web,” he said.

The French data protection authority is threatening the global nature of the Internet.

The European Court said that in Europe there is a right to be forgotten and required Google to remove links to old articles on people, if they qualified.

That was a bad enough ruling, but it applied to only google.de, google.co.uk etc etc.

The French regulator is demanding that it apply to google.co.nz and google.com etc. That means that French law would apply globally and what we can access and view in NZ would no longer be uncensored.

This is very very important stuff. Once you allow one country to demand their law applies to all other portions of the Internet, then you have the Internet governed by the most restrictive regimes.

If I was Google, I would tell CNIL that if they are going to try and assert global authority over the Internet, then Google will block all IP address in France from accessing any google service – hence they can no longer be fined by the French regulator. The massive backlash from French citizens against the regulator should see it pull its head in.

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Maori Council and Donna Hall

August 4th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Lawyer Donna Hall’s Lower Hutt-based firm Woodward Law has been dismissed by the Maori Council from handling its Trans-Pacific Partnership claim.

The executive of the Maori Council met on July 28 and resolved to dismiss Hall’s law firm from acting on one of its claims 

Wellington lawyer Hall is the wife of council co-chairman Sir Eddie Durie, a former High Court judge and Waitangi Tribunal chairman.

In most organisations the wife of an officer would be ineligible to act as a lawyer for the organisation. A clear conflict of interest.

An email from the council’s co-chairman Maanu Paul to Hall last Friday states that Woodward Law, of which Hall is the principal, was fired by the council’s executive committee last week from working on its TPP claim.

Hall is denying all allegations, saying the meeting had “no formal standing”, as the executive committee was “acting as a caretaker only” pending council elections.

In other words she is ignoring it.

The Maori Council is working on a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, saying an urgent inquiry is needed into the TPP trade agreement because it could jeopardise Treaty rights.

According to Maori Council minutes from July 28, disclosed to Fairfax Media, Woodward Law is alleged to have filed the claims on behalf of the council, but without its knowledge.

So the claim is not from the Maori Council. It was made without their knowledge. So who is funding the claim? I suspect taxpayers ultimately are.

This move had to be approved retrospectively and was done under the proviso that another lawyer, Kathy Ertel, also worked on the claim.

But on July 24, Woodward Law circulated a note saying one of its own lawyers, Peter Andrews, would work on the TPP claim.

The minutes suggest Ertel was never approached by Woodward Law to work on the claim, in what is described as representing a “clear breach of the directives given to Woodward Law”.

It was resolved to dismiss Woodward Law from the TPP claim and hand it to Ertel.

It was also resolved that, if there was evidence Woodward Law was “undermining the mana” of the council, a complaint would be made to the New Zealand Law Society.

In a statement, Hall said: “The ‘minute’ … contains serious defamatory allegations. They are denied. Many of the allegations are easily shown to be false from contemporaneous documentation.”

If they are true, it suggests that the Maori Council is subservient to Donna Hall’s law firm, rather than the other way around.

The minutes also suggest there was also a potential conflict of interest when Durie, as Hall’s husband, got Woodward Law to file an application in the High Court in 2014 to give him a second term as Maori Trustee on the Crown Forestry Rental Trust board.

This was made without the knowledge of Paul or the executive committee, the minutes allege.

“In other words [Durie] instructed his wife to file an application to put himself back on the CFRT Board without bringing the matter to the executive. Had he done so, and resiled from voting, the conflict could have been dealt with appropriately.”

What is shocking here is that Durie is a fomer judge, and should know better.

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Delahunty vs Gloriavale

August 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Two days ago the Herald reported:

Delahunty is concerned that the school’s narrow curriculum, believed to be based on an American fundamentalist Christian course, prevents pupils, especially girls, from going on to tertiary study.

She understood the highest level of secondary learning was NCEA level 1, and there was a strict divide of subjects girls and boys could study to steer them for working inside the compound.

She is questioning how the ERO, which recently gave Gloriavale a pass mark, could rubber-stamp a school that appeared to be in breach of human rights legislation.

In the latest review, ERO found little fault with the school, saying the tuition standard was suitable for teaching its curriculum.

Serious claims.

But Gloriavale has responded:

“The school curriculum does not prevent or discourage any pupils from going on to tertiary study. About 25 per cent of the adult population at Gloriavale has university or national diplomas, and many of our tradesmen have the equivalent of tertiary qualifications.

“Only a handful of people came into the community with tertiary qualifications. All the others have gained their degrees or diplomas after leaving our school or as adult learners.”

Mr Pilgrim said at least 35 per cent of women in Gloriavale held level seven qualifications obtained while they were living in the community, and most of these women had completed their education at the school.

“This compares very favourably with the figures in outside society. No much for the nonsense about our girls not being able to go on to tertiary study.” (sic)

He said the highest level of achievement at the school was not NCEA Level 1 as claimed by Ms Delahunty.

“Last year, all of our year 10-11 students achieved or had already achieved NCEA Level 1, 91 per cent had NCEA Level 2, and 35 per cent had NCEA Level 3.”

So will Delahunty apologise for her false claims?

One can have a strongly unfavourable view of Gloriavale’s leader. But that doesn’t mean you can make false claims that girls are forbidden from getting an education at their school. A Level 7 qualification is equivalent to a university bachelors degree, so 35% is a high rate.

MPs should be responsible with their claims. Delahunty said no one got higher than NCEA Level 1 and in fact 91% got NCEA Level 2. Why did she not check the facts for herself, before making her claims?

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Tiwai stays open

August 4th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

lectricity company share prices rose on news that the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will remain open and run at full capacity at least until the end of 2017, even though Meridian Energy remains the sole supplier after other power companies proved unwilling to make much more than token gestures to supply the smelter.

Meridian shares led the charge, rising 6.4 per cent to $2.395 on the NZX, with Contact Energy up 3 per cent to $5.10, Genesis Energy up 3.5 per cent at $1.77, MightyRiverPower up 3.3 per cent to $2.85 and Infratil-controlled TrustPower up 2.2 per cent to $8.

Meridian’s chief executive Mark Binns told BusinessDesk a new price for about 30 per cent of the aluminium smelter’s electricity is “a hell of a lot better than the old price” it was receiving under the contract renegotiated in 2013, although it remains below market rates.

Good to see a commercial deal done, without any subsidy or intervention by the Government.

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General Debate 4 August 2015

August 4th, 2015 at 8:09 am by David Farrar
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Quote of the week

August 4th, 2015 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Spending is not caring. Spending is what politicians do instead of caring. Spending more does not guarantee success. Politicians like to measure spending because it is easier than measuring actual metrics of accomplishment.”

– Grover Norquist

The is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

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Prince Charles being made a New Zealand Field Marshall!

August 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prince Charles is to be given three military titles when he visits New Zealand in November.

The Queen has given her approval for the Prince of Wales to be made Admiral of the fleet of the Royal New Zealand Navy, a Field Marshal for the army and Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. 

These are what you call the equivalent of a five star general. It’s the rank Kin Jong-un gives to himself!

We have never had a non-honorary appointment at this rank.  Prince Philip also holds these ranks.

Outside of war we never appoint anyone to four star rank of General, Admiral, Air Chief Marshall, and I think even in war we never have.

The Chief of Defence Force is given three star rank as a Lieutenant General, Vice Admiral or Air Marshall.

The Vice CDF, Commander of Joint Forces and section heads gets two star ranks – Major General, Rear Admiral and Air Vice Marshall.

 

 

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The Kia competition

August 3rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader writes:

Not sure if you saw Fair Go last night, but Kia had a competition that required people to go into central Auckland for 22 days in a row to take a selfie with a car to win it. At the end of that 22 day period, only 2 contestants were left. They then had them do a race from Auckland Airport to North Harbour Stadium on the day of the U20 Soccer World Cup final. They set an impossible time limit of 60 minutes (under the best possible conditions (No U20 world cup traffic and no rain!) and no other tasks for them to do in between, it took Kia 55 minutes during a test run). The fastest racer got there in 67 minutes (with the other racer arriving about 10 seconds later), and Kia refused to give either of them the car. Then Kia put out an unapologetic press release on Facebook right before the Fair Go story aired.

I find it absolutely fascinating that a major companies PR department could possibly think that this (no one winning the car because they “timed out” during the race) would be an acceptable option, not least the preferred option, especially with memories of the Americas Cup “Time-out” situation in the race that would have won NZ the cup (and was my final straw in seeing the Americas Cup as any kind of valid sporting competition). It’s not like Kia has that much goodwill in their brand to begin with (given that they are generally the low-cost option). It’s not a car that someone is usually that excited to get.

I’d love to hear further details about how the PR company could have misread the culture so badly if you or people you know have any further inside details.

It does sound like a huge PR fail. We’ll have a competition where it is impossible to win the prize. What do you all think?

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Jacobi on TPP

August 3rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Jacobi writes in the NZ Herald:

As the debate continues, here’s a brief guide about what to look for.

Dairy has the most potentially to gain. It’s our largest export and the barriers in the US, Japan and Canada are absurdly high.

The question is not whether dairy will be excluded from the deal, but rather the extent of its inclusion – will TPP economies allow significant access into the dairy consumption in their markets and under transparent rules? Will these benefits be offered to all or will there be better access for some?

Again, I’m very pleased the NZ negotiators refused to accept a deal that didn’t deliver enough on dairy.

The sad thing with the soviet-style system of quotas the Canadian industry has, is that it stifles them, rather than protects them. The history from NZ is that removing protection will actually massively boost the local industry, as they have to then respond to competition.

If Canada did have the political will to reform their system, they would find over time I am sure that the biggest beneficiaries would be Canadian diary farmers. Just as the NZ wine industry grew massively once they lost their tariffs and protection.

Other goods should not be overlooked. In just four major exports – meat, horticulture, seafood and wine – there are annual tariffs paid of at least $130 million.

If other products are added (forestry, manufactured goods), and with some even partial gains on dairy, the benefits from elimination would be significant. This is not new business, which could occur under lower tariffs, or overall economic impact, just money saved.

If a deal is struck, it will be good to see an economic analysis of the impact.

On intellectual property New Zealand has interests to promote – our creative industries and some IT exports could benefit from better IP protection internationally – as well as some clearly identified risks to avoid.

Generally the Government will want to hold, to the greatest extent possible, to existing policy in respect to medicine pricing, the role of Pharmac, patent terms and extensions including in respect to biologic drugs and to software, copyright, geographical indications, parallel importing and internet file downloading.

Very pleased to see Stephen agree we want to retain current policy on copyright, parallel importing, downloading, patents etc. From all accounts the negotiators have done that.

This is not to suggest that some changes to existing policy might not need to be made.

Hopefully nothing too major. I understand the term of copyright may increase, which is regrettable, but not as bad as many other possible changes.

Reports coming out suggest that the US has backed down on most of the IP chapter demands – to the degree that Australia wants the TPP agreement to supersede their bilateral FTA agreement on Internet copyright issues, as it is less onerous.

The US press has pointed to the value of the first FTA to include binding environmental provisions which protect endangered species.

New Zealand has always championed the elimination of fish subsidies.

Good.

Some will argue that what is now realistically on offer is significantly less than the bold vision for TPP outlined at Apec in Honolulu in 2011. They are right. That is deeply disappointing for negotiators and business alike.

“High quality, ambitious and comprehensive” was how TPP was begun and should guide its ending.

What the process has showed is that there are protectionist and anti-competitive forces at work even in the most open of trading economies.

Yep, it is not going to what they wanted at the start. Part of this is because Japan and Canada were allowed in. That is good in terms of more markets being available to us, but bad in the sense of getting a higher quality agreement.

Whether or not the TPP is a net plus for New Zealand will be seen when or if there is a final agreement. But again I find it encouraging that NZ was prepared to reject an agreement which didn’t deliver enough for dairy, and just as importantly is holding our position on the IP chapter.

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Hypocrisy over Cecil

August 3rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Zimbabwe has called for the American dentist who shot Cecil the lion dead on a hunting trip to be extradited to Africa to face poaching charges, which could carry a lengthy prison sentence.

Dr Walter Palmer could also face a five-year jail term in the US and a US$20,000 fine for breaching the Lacey Act, which enforces the legal protection for endangered species.

Zimbabwean environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said Palmer was a “foreign poacher” who had financed an illegal hunt of Cecil, an “iconic attraction” in the country’s famed Hwange National Park.

I’m no fan of hunting, or of Dr Palmer. But this is all getting over the top.

He paid for a legal hunt. He had no knowledge or idea the lion was protected.

Zimbabwe allows lion hunting. They sell licenses for it. They also kill lions themselves – Mugabe had some killed for a feast not too long ago.

Zimbabwe makes $20 million a year from game hunting, which is 3.2% of their tourism revenue. They could ban it, as they for several years did a few years ago. But when it is legal, it seems hypocritical to then try and prosecute Dr Palmer because unknown to him, they killed the wrong lion.

Now again I have no time for hunting of lions, and personally find it appalling. But this is not the crime of the century. I wish more focus went on the thousands of humans being killed in Africa, rather than one lion.

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