Monday Motivator – Serene Fiordland Forest

April 21st, 2014 at 11:45 am by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 18

Serene Fiordland Forest, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

I  have just returned from a week photographing around the lower South Island. It was an excellent trip and I look forward to seeing some new panoramics as I get the film processed in the coming days.

This photograph is from a previous trip and has always been a popular one capturing a little of the essence of the amazing Fiordland National Park.

Click on the image for a larger view of this photograph.

Cheers

Richard [richardhume.com]

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

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Everest Base Camp Day 12

April 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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I thought this marathon might be of interest to Matthew Hooton as he couldn’t make the Southern Lakes Half Marathon last month. He’s a great lover of the region and it raises a lot of money for charity so I look forward to viewing his registration.

The course is incredibly nasty. Apart from the cold, it has lots of rocks and uphill. The fastest time last year for a non Nepali was a bit over six hours!

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As we headed down from Gorak Shep, we again saw the glacier.

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I had a small fall on the way to Lobouche, where we had morning tea. I was okay, but as you can see one of my drink bottles did not fare so well. It’s quite annoying as it now only holds around 700 ml instead of a litre!

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We’re walking alone the narrow trail, with the valley stretching below us.

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Then you end up in the valley itself which is much easier trekking.

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There is an area with scores of memorials to fallen climbers. This one is for Scott Fischer who was a famous guide and mountaineer who died in the May 1996 disaster.

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You can see many of the other memorials lined up.

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Then it’s more narrow trails to descend on, but with great views to look at.

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Then we hit more wonderful valley walking with peaks in the background.

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A baby yak. So cute.

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We descend almost 1,000 metres over the day.

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Two huge landslides as a reminder of the instability of the region.

We spent the night at Orsho, which is very small and not on most maps. Will blog more on that tomorrow.

Spent around six hours trekking today, but much more relaxing as it was mainly flat or downhill, and the wide valley sections are so easy. Just what we needed to recover from a pretty tiring previous day.

Despite the descent I still had a very mild headache from the altitude sickness, but almost inconsequential compared to previous days.

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General Debate 21 April 2014

April 21st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Why just two co-deputy PMs?

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

3 News reports:

The Greens could share the deputy Prime Minster role in a coalition with Labour, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman last month said he was keen on the role.

Ms Turei said she would like to be deputy Prime Minister along with Dr Norman.

“There’s no rules that stop there from being more than one deputy Prime Minister,” she told The Nation.

“Russel and I have had a co-leadership role in the Greens that’s worked very well for the Green Party. I think something similar would work very well for the country as well.”

Why stop at just two?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were five co-deputy Prime Ministers?

David Parker, Russel Norman, Winston Peters, Metiria Turei and Hone Harawira could all be co-deputy Prime Ministers. They could rotate being Acting PM between, whenever David Cunliffe is overseas.

I guess Kim Dotcom can’t be an official sixth co-Deputy Prime Minister, but maybe as a consolation prize they could make him the Secretary of Justice?

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Everest Base Camp Day 11

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

Today (Wednesday in real time) is the day we head up to Base Camp.

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Another early start. Up at 4.45 am and away by 6 am as we have to trek to Gorak Shep, have a wee break there, then go to Base Camp and back to Gorak Shep. It was good to get away early as we avoided most of the crowds going from Lobouche.

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Those peaks in the distance are where Everest Base Camp is.

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If you look at a map of the area and see a reference to a pyramid, well this is it. Part of some Italian research facility.

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Those peaks again getting closer. I could stare at them all day. In fact I did!

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One of several memorials to dead climbers we passed.

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A great shot of this peak with the sun rising behind it.

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On a very narrow part of the track, some yaks came down as we were going up. Their horns got rather too close for comfort!

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I like this photo of the shadows of the eight of us trekking along. There were five Kiwis from Wellington in our group, and we had three Nepalese guides.

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Remember that dog from yesterday? Well him and a mate decided to follow us today. The two of them trotted along with us all the way to Gorak Shep, presumably hoping we would feed them. They never pestered us and were quite lovely, but the guides joked that if you gave them even one bit of food they’d then follow you all the way back to Lukla!

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You can see the famous Khumbu glacier that stretches down from Mt Everest.

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A fairly unsturdy bridge.

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Gorak Shep ahead. The tea house we will stay at bills itself at the highest in the world at 5,180 metres above sea level.

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Apart from yaks and mules, they even have horses here.

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After a one hour break, we carried onto towards Everest Base Camp. A very rare directional sign. This is not like NZ tracks with marker signs everywhere. It would be very easy to get lost here without a guide.

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This is actually the site of the original Everest Base Camp that Hillary and co used. I’m not sure when they swapped sites but it was many years ago.

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Another cool shot of part of the glacier.

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Recall the advice that you should always be between a yak and the wall, not the cliff. Well on this section it was cliffs on both sides so we just moved a bit off the track for them. During the morning we saw well over 100 yaks move a huge amount of gear to Base Camp for teams planning to attempt the summit.

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And that is Mt Everest in the background. The best view of it is around an hour before Base Camp.

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You can’t really see it from here but that is Base Camp to the left of the glacier.

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Another shot of Everest.

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Now you can start to see the tents at Base Camp.

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A close up of some of the glacier.

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And we are at Base Camp. It is considered very rude to go beyond this point and wander around the tents without an invitation.

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You can see most of the Base Camp tents next to the glacier.

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Me at Base Camp. A long 11 days to get here.

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Posing with Mark Russell from Ideas Shop (you can see their logo on my borrowed hat if you look very closely). Mark organised the trip and did a great job making it all happen. He has been a great companion (along with K, H and J) despite our slight variation in political preferences!

And no he did not trek in that shirt – put it on just for the photo!

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Mark Inglis commented on an earlier post that while Base Camp is (sort of) the end for us, it is only the beginning for those who are going on to ascend the summit like he has done. The ledge above is the initial climb for those going up to Base Camp 2.

At times during the trek I flirted with the idea of how amazing it would be to actually try and ascend the summit one day, after a few years of training. However during the trek I was also reading “Into Thin Air” on my Kindle, which is the first hand story of the very sad 1996 expedition/s which saw 12 people lose their lives, including Rob Hall. It’s an amazing and captivating book.

Of course two days after we were here, the avalanche occurred near Camp 1 (not Base Camp) which was another sobering reminder of how dangerous the mountain is – not just up in the death zone above 8,000 metres.

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On the way back we passed through this rockslide area, and just as we entered it there was a very minor rockslide. Small rocks, so wouldn’t have seriously hurt anyone. But it did make us move quickly through that section in case any larger rocks decided to come down.

On the way back it started to snow, which made us very grateful again for our early start. We set a fair pace going back and got to Gorak Shep again around 2 pm.

The day wasn’t as tough as the Chola Pass, but it was still reasonably challenging. Six to seven hours trekking is tiring, and most of that time was above 5,000 metres so it only took a small ascent to get out of breath.

Very satisfying to have made both the Chola Pass and Base Camp. Also I decided that I wanted this to be an Ibuprofen free day so didn’t take any pain killers for the headaches. There were a couple of times when I regretted this, but overall they were not too bad, and less severe than when ascending to Gyoko. So you do acclimatise – but different people at different rates.

Tomorrow sees the start of the descent. That doesn’t mean all downhills though – a mixture of up and down – but with more down than up. We hope to be back at Namche Bazaar in two days.

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NZ and the Debacle that is now Everest

April 20th, 2014 at 8:30 am by Kokila Patel
 

<8708992.jpg>As we celebrate death,  resurrection, and ascension this Easter, we have the news of another massive human tragedy on Everest. 12 or 13, perhaps as many as 20, climbers are dead. Chomolungma has reasserted her majestic terror.

New Zealand obviously has a close cultural affinity with Everest through Ed Hillary’s first ascent with Nepalese Indian Sherpa Tensing Norgay on 29 May, 1953 (61 years ago). There was also the 1996 death of Rob Hall at the summit staying with his trapped American client Doug Hansen, as his legs and hands failed (made all the more poignant when his final satellite phone call from the summit to his wife was played on the radio, “Sleep well my sweetheart. Please don’t worry too much“).

John Krakauer was one of the lucky survivors of that ill-fated 1996 expedition and was covering the climb as part of a commercial deal for Outside magazine.  He later wrote the Into Thin Air book which was made in to a film.

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Rob Hall

The Neil Finn song “The Climber” is also about that event.  On 22 Feb. last year, it was announced Christian Bale will play Rob Hall in another movie of that 1996 tragic climb (Universal Pictures, Working Title working with Emmett/Furla Films).

So, the commercialisation of Everest and the issues surrounding its ascents continue. This was certainly something Ed Hillary lamented and was critical of.

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Brain Blessed

Also last year, during a visit to NZ (to make ads for an Australian bank in NZ) British actor Brian Blessed (‘father’ of Blackadder, series 1) currently starring in a series of NZ bank ads, said adamantly, “I don’t think there should be any expeditions to the mountain unless they are climbing it without oxygen – 29,035ft is just high enough to be climbed without oxygen.

“It’s achieving nothing in the development of human will and human achievement and in the spirit of adventure. It’s all vanity.” He said first Everest conquerors Hillary and Tenzing were different because they were “going into the unknown”.

“Blessed said people did not appreciate how dangerous an Everest ascent could be. He described the need for weeks of acclimatization and the difficulties of conquering the various stages of the climb.

On the eve of the 6oth anniversary of Hillary & Norgay’s ascent, mountaineers revealed a new insult to the great mountain – a ladder across the Hillary Step. This is a tricky 12m high outcrop of rock just before the final stretch to the summit itself.  Hillary climbed it by working his way up a crack or fissure of the rock face, which is why it carries his name.

Congestion and waits of longer than 2 hours (serious at this altitude) are now occurring at the Step, which is a natural bottle neck and has caused so many deaths, particularly during the 1996 season when it was discovered by Hall that there was no fixed rope at the Step. 520 climbers have reached the summit of Everest in the last climbing season.  Similar commercial congestion caused the 11 deaths on K2 featured in the film The Summit K2 (2013), now surpassed by this 2014 Easter tragedy.

The Guardian covered the plans to put the ladder up the Hillary Step to ease that congestion.

Frits Vrijlandt,  president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, said the ladder could be a solution to the increasing numbers of climbers on the mountain. I think the solution would be to restrict the ascents to 100 a year, and run a lottery.

Apa Sherpa, who climbed Everest a record 21 times before retiring in 2011, described the Hillary Step as “very hard” and said a ladder was a good idea.

Pertemba Sherpa, who played a key role in the British expedition led by Sir Chris Bonington, and climbed Everest’s south-west face for the first time in 1975, told The Guardian that the security of the sherpas working on the mountain should be paramount.

“The route is changing, there is more rock, less ice and snow. It’s very dangerous,” the 65-year-old said. “For [the] safety of sherpas, this is good.”

So, differing views.  Putting a ladder up would reduce the congestion (not much) and probably increase the number ascending, so the bottlenecks may remain or even get worse.

For me, the issue is about the growing commercialisation of Everest and the “need” to ascend, as some form of personal development or enrichment or “vanity” as Brian Blessed rightly calls it.  This is what I would do:

1. A no-climbing moratorium for 5 years to allow a pause in the rapid commercialisation process and to allow the fraternity to reflect and refocus.

2. A covenant that a party must climb to a certain height, and bring down a certain weight of rubbish (tents, used oxygen tanks, etc), or a dead person for burial, as part of a compulsory acclimatization and a prerequisite before they are allowed an attempt at the summit. (A bit like foresters required to replant trees after they harvest stands of wood).

3. Perhaps an absolute age range limit on the mountain and certified years of climbing experience.

I’d be interested in David’s thoughts and his impressions of the risks we impose on Sherpas, Nepalese and other poor Third World mountain people (such as the Pakistanis on K2) porting, guiding and otherwise servicing our Western obsession with climbing these mountains.  Why not just go to Base camp as he is doing: enjoy the scenery, the challenge, support the Nepalese, but don’t risk their and other climbers lives insisting on climbing to the summit?
~ John Stringer
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General Debate 20 April 2014

April 20th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Prices stable

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

Stats NZ reports:

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.3 percent in the March 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. Higher tobacco and housing prices were partly countered by seasonally cheaper international air fares, vegetables, and package holidays.

Cigarette and tobacco prices rose 10.2 percent, following an 11.3 percent rise in excise duty in January. “The CPI without cigarettes and tobacco showed no change in the March quarter,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

That means no cost of living increase, if you are not a smoker.

Also of interest is that despite the scare stories about power price increases of 24%, the quarterly increase in the cost of electricity for households is only 0.07%. Remember that figure.

Also food prices are down 0.3% in March, and are only 1.2% higher than a year ago.

 

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Latest poll

April 19th, 2014 at 3:06 pm by David Farrar

Roy Morgan reports:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a large jump in support for National (48.5%, up 5.5%) now with its largest lead over a potential Labour/Greens alliance (40%, down 5%) since July 2013 …

Support for the Labour Party has fallen to 28.5% (down 3.5%) – clearly the lowest support under new Labour Leader David Cunliffe, and the lowest Labour support since April 2012 …

Also of interest:

The latest NZ Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has jumped to 143pts (up 10pts) with 65% (down 4%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 22% (down 6%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

I guess New Zealanders are not as fascinated over Oravida, as Labour are.

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Everest Base Camp Day 10

April 19th, 2014 at 2:16 pm by David Farrar

As I had mentioned the afternoons, evenings and nights can get bitterly cold. Ironically you tend to be less cold outdoors when trekking as the activity warms you up, and also you may have sun on you.

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Most tea houses have a burner like this. They don’t use wood though, buy yak dung. Yaks are very valuable – in fact a yak costs more (US$200 to US$900) than the average annual income! The burners hep heat the common areas up a fair bit but they often don’t start them up until 5 pm or so.

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The guidelines for the trek said you sleeping bag should be good for -10 degrees. Mine is rated for +2 degrees only so I purchased a thermal liner which adds 11 degrees on which would mean I should be good for -9 degrees or so.

However when we got here the guides said you really want something that can handle -20 degrees so at Namche I hired this huge sleeping bag for 12 days. A very good investment as it only cost $2 a day and it really did make a difference.

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This is it rolled out. It definitely did the job keeping me warm. However I still found I needed the thermal liner and slept with icebreaker leggings and top plus socks and hat.

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We got underway around 8.30 am and this is the local peak by Dzongla.

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Most of the day was a narrow slightly ascending path. It was largely snow covered and slippery in parts. Unlike yesterday when a slip would mean a fun slide down a snow bank for 20 metres, here a slip would mean a 100 to 200 metre slide down snow and rocks. Best to be avoided.

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We had morning tea here this amazing view of peaks in the distance.

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These tents belonged to a group of climbers who were ascending the nearby Lobouche peak. We could see them in the distance making slow but steady progress.

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We then rejoined the main trail up to Everest Base Camp, which is much wider than the narrow paths we had been on.

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And here’s Lobouche. Height around 4,920 metres.

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Have to love the energy efficiency. Why waste good heat!

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In the afternoon we did a quick 40 minute climb up a hill. This dog decided to come with us.

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Our destination tomorrow. Everest Base Camp is at the foot of those peaks.

Very exciting to now be just one day away from Base Camp. Was also good to have a more relaxing day than yesterday!

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General Debate 19 April 2014

April 19th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Thoughts with the Nepalese families

April 19th, 2014 at 1:50 am by David Farrar

We had just arrived at Tengboche when we heard there had been a major avalanche near Everest Camp 1 (which is not the same as Base Camp incidentally). The death toll is currently 13 and may be as high as 20, and all our thoughts went out to those Nepalese families who have lost loved ones. The Sherpa and guiding community is quite small and many people will know someone affected. One of our guides for example had a sibling at one of the other camps, and as you trek along different guides and porters are constantly greeting and knowing each other.

It’s a sad reminder of how dangerous Mt Everest can be. Again thoughts go out to those affected.

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Guest Post – Why is Labour Struggling in 2014? An Essay on the History of Labour’s Predicament

April 18th, 2014 at 8:14 am by kiwi in america

David asked me to guest post this while he was away so here’s some reading over this stormy Easter weekend (I’m in soggy Christchurch as I write this). With Labour consistently polling between 28 and 34% (current poll of polls has Labour at just under 31%) since its defeat in 2008, it has a number of problems convincing voters that they are an alternative government in waiting for the 2014 election. Labour’s problems are three fold and the purpose of this essay is to posit the origins of their problems by drawing on my time inside Labour to provide some explanations:
1 – Why its policies are less appealing to the vote rich centre ground of NZ politics
2 – Why Labour has such a shallow pool of caucus talent from which to choose an attractive leader
3 – How, under MMP, Labour have boxed themselves into a relatively narrow ideological centre left electoral corridor crowded out to the left by the Greens and Mana and to the right by National

Labour’s current woes began 25 years ago during the latter years of the Lange 4th Labour Government. Prior to the divisions over Rogernomics that rent the party asunder in 1989, Labour had been a true broad church mainstream party. Whilst it did have its factions, these were held in check by the fact that no one faction dominated the party. When you draw from a broad cross section of society, it means that the activists who are the engine room of the party bring their diverse world experiences to the task of party organization and policy formation. Whilst Labour always was a centre left party, it managed to be a home for not just radical left wing unionists, academics and feminists but also more moderate small business owners, trades folk, working men and women, school teachers and lawyers. Political parties are the incubators where party activists become candidates who in turn became MPs. Whilst National always manages to draw MPs from a wider cross section of NZ society, the gap between Labour and National in that regard in the 1970’s and 80’s was not that wide.

The 1978, 81 and 84 elections brought into Parliament (by the time Labour won in 1984) one of Labour’s most talented caucuses ever seen. Labour’s front bench, upon becoming the government, was brimming with energy. The pent up demand for reform after the stultifying Muldoon (and earlier) years was enormous and this post does not need to rehearse the dramatic revolution that became known as Rogernomics. The rapid embrace of lmore right leaning economic policy was brought to a head by Roger Douglas’ flat tax proposal after Labour’s extraordinary 1987 election victory and it became the lightning rod for the left inside the party and caucus to fight to take the party back. Lange, influenced by his affair with his left leaning speech writer Margaret Pope, fought back and was ably assisted by Jim Anderton, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen. The warfare that then ensued within Labour was intense and bitter. Newly installed PM Geoffrey Palmer was soon out of his depth and Mike Moore was elevated to the leadership in 1990 to prevent a total First Past the Post annihilation of Labour. Mike Moore brought a talented and political savvy team to the Leader of the Opposition’s Office (dubbed the Beagle Boys because the inner circle that included Moore protégé Clayton Cosgrove got so little sleep they had dark circles around their eyes). Mike Moore posed a major problem to the left. As a senior Lange-Douglas front bencher (Minister of Overseas Trade) and member of the infamous ‘fish and chips brigade’ (an influential inner circle of senior MPs in the run-up to the 1984 election comprising Lange, Douglas, Bassett and Moore) Moore, despite his union and socialist roots, remained a vocal supporter of Rogernomics. In the eyes of the left who were soon to assume control of the Labour party at every level, the extent to which you were associated with Rogernomics (and your subsequent attitude to it) became the litmus test to survival in the post 1990 party. Douglas and Prebble, as key architects of Rogernomics, after the internal bloodletting of 1989/90 knew they had no future and quit Parliament and formed the ACT Party. Various junior Ministers in the Palmer and Moore administrations either kept their powder dry re. Rogernomics (Clark), spoke out against it in Cabinet (Cullen – appointed by Lange to Cabinet to blunt the reforms) or quickly recanted once out of government (Goff and Caygill). Mike Moore’s problem was that he wouldn’t leave Labour or Parliament, he wouldn’t recant and he was considered too ideologically impure and, to the nascent LOO in waiting Helen Clark and her fellow travelers (dubbed ‘The Sisterhood’), had to be gotten rid of.

What happened next goes to the heart of why Labour is struggling today. The left had been so seriously outflanked by Douglas and Prebble that they vowed not only to wrest control of the party back but to prevent Labour from ever again being taken over by right wing economic elements. Party officials prominent in supporting Douglas and Prebble were the first to go; of their own accord and most to ACT. In the days of FPP, all MPs were electorate MPs and so the only way to ensure a caucus that would elect a leader that would do the job of purging the party of Rogernomics was to influence electorate selections. With Labour’s caucus after the 1990 election at a record low in numbers and the Bolger – Richardson government unpopular due to the welfare cuts and the ongoing post 1987 crash recession, the likelihood of a larger rejuvenated Labour caucus entering Parliament in the 1993 election was high. If Clark was to ensure a more left leaning caucus then she needed to ensure her supporters were selected in winnable seats. The first step in the campaign was to ensure that the Party Head Office and NZ Council were behind her. With fewer centre right activists in the wider party, it was not hard to get Ruth Dyson elected as President, Tony Timms as General Secretary and Murdo MacMillan as Assistant GS. This trio worked closely with union delegates and Regional Council Chairs to ensure as many Clark supporters as possible were selected in winnable marginal seat candidate selections. Labour’s Constitution allocates electorate candidate selection panel delegates on the basis of paid up party membership. A candidate selection panel in 1992 would comprise 3 Head Office delegates (always behind a Clark supporting candidate), 2 from the local LEC (Labour Electorate Committee) if the electorate had a paid up membership under 500 (the norm) and 3 if they had more than 500 members. Finally a 6th (or 7th) delegate was selected on the night of the selection meeting from the floor of paid up party members from the electorate in attendance at the meeting. It took a good deal of consistent organizing effort to keep your paid up membership above 500 and Clark knew few electorates managed it. As more selection meetings were held where Head Office’s influence overrode local support (for broad centrist candidates) in favour of a Clark anointed candidate, Mike Moore and his staff scrambled to help key electorates (especially of his supporters) to get over 500 paid up members AND to turn out their supporters on the night of a selection to ensure a 4 – 3 blunting of the Clark/Dyson nomination juggernaut. In the majority of selection meetings, due to having fewer than 500 members, this was not possible.

Why is this detail relevant? Because in making sure that Labour’s incoming 1993 caucus was configured in such a way as to engineer a successful Clark coup against Moore, significant talent was shut out – the kind of talent that would be a broader representation of middle NZ and thus vote in caucus more in line with the centrist sentiments of the wider country; the kind of talent that could’ve given Labour a broader electoral appeal and eventually the kind of talent that one day could go on to be an attractive Party Leader to take on a popular incumbent National Prime Minister. In Clark’s headlong pursuit of the numbers to topple Mike Moore, she made sure that the Labour Party selected people from her narrower world view. Thus it was that over the course of the 1993, 96 and 99 elections, Clark created a Parliamentary party more in her image and that meant the caucus became overrepresented by academics, feminists (or men favourable to their cause), gays, unionists and other activists known to be pure from any historical centre right economic tendencies. The Parliamentary party came to be dominated by Clark supporters such as Dyson, Wilson, Street, King, Hodgeson, Maharey, Dalziel and Tizard.

Clark knew that getting a caucus that would enable her to topple Moore was not enough. She needed to ensure that that caucus remained on her side through multiple hoped for terms in office. The attempted coup by Cullen in 2006 [correction typo - 1996 hat tip mickey savage] after a string of disastrous polls for Labour under her leadership was a sharp reminder of the political vulnerability of any LOO. Making Cullen Deputy PM and Finance Minister was a master stroke by Clark as it kept him occupied and away from plotting. The advent of MMP however was to give Clark the last tool she needed to shape and keep the caucus on her side. Clark knew that the former Moore supporters (such as Cosgrove, Robertson, O’Connor, Hawkins, Duynhoven, Goff, Barker etc.) were mostly siloed in safe(r) electorate seats that, as long as they kept their local electorate party membership up, they were relatively immune from being ousted internally. But the party list is where the action is and the list became increasingly important to Labour as National began to win back suburban and provincial seats across the country. The Labour list ranking is entirely dominated by Head Office and so Clark and co could ensure that the rising generation of MPs would be in her mold and be more likely to do her bidding. This meant that the base from which candidates were drawn remained narrow for over a decade.

In parallel to this candidate purge was the voluntary exodus of the party’s more moderate membership base. Each LEC that was subject to the 1993 (and onwards) ‘sisterhood’ interference in selections suffered from resignations or non-renewals of party members dedicated to the election of their more moderate centrist friends. When you see no pathway forward from Head Office’s more leftist control, you realize that your ability to influence the party for good is over and some just move on. The last Labour Party meeting I ever attended as a member was a Canterbury LRC meeting in early 1994 when a decision was made to sell the local party’s family silver to pay the Head Office dues arrears for a couple of the lazy safe Labour electorates in the region. This asset was making an excellent return on investment and its retention was so obviously wise and prudent. People like David Caygill and I argued cogently for its retention only to be subjected to a tirade of abuse and demagoguery from Clark acolyte (and future Cabinet minister) Marian Hobbs whose impassioned speech swayed council members into making the sale. I knew then that the lunatics had taken over the asylum and it was time to move on and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back after the bitterness of the Clark coup and I resigned my membership soon after.

I remained friends with various party members even after resigning my membership. One was a solicitor who was a rising regional party star. He was intelligent, articulate, likeable, telegenic with a family from casting central and business savvy yet with a good social conscience – IMO a future and eminently electable future Labour party leader. He was trying to get into Parliament in the late 1990’s but was never able to obtain a reasonable list ranking and was shut out by Head Office for selection in safe Labour (or winnable National marginal) electorate seats. He was gutted after his abysmally low list ranking and unsuccessful selection bids and I told him that because he was a white, heterosexual, Anglican Church attending male with business experience there was no future for him as an MP in the Labour Party. This has proven to be the case. Multiply this story a hundred times over and you get the picture as to why Labour’s current caucus is so bereft of talent. Clark’s scorched earth policy to purge the party of Rogernomics and ensure there were no upstarts to her throne has left the party with a caucus deprived of serious talent and not representative of middle NZ and its values. The same is true for the wider party because the middle class, centrist moderate party members have also voted with their feet. This once proud party that was home to so many across the spectrum is now dominated by trade union hacks, rainbow activists, academics, government sector employees, feminists and PC metrosexual men. These groups make up maybe 15 to 20% of New Zealand’s population and have a political orientation much further to the left than mainstream New Zealand.

One of the reasons why Helen Clark needed to have such iron control over her caucus was she knew the electoral reality that power lies in the centre. She knew the party’s instincts are to the left of middle NZ and that National has deeper and broader roots in that middle ground. Clark needed to use her power to keep Labour as close to the middle as possible whilst still throwing enough left wing bones to the base to prevent a revolt. Her centrist strategy would cause disquiet in the caucus and the wider party but because she and her supporters controlled the list and the nomination process for almost all electorates, the risk of a coup was minimal. She also knew that the Greens’ extremism posed a big electoral risk and that they needed to be shut out of government. Under Donald and Fitsimmons, the Greens were more of a genuine environmental party but had enough nuttiness to derail Labour’s re-election not to mention all their image problems of Morris dancing at their conferences and having a cannabis-using Rastafarian as an MP. Clark knew the Greens had nowhere else to go and so shutting them out of government and throwing them a few policy bones was easy to do. Clark was able to govern with first the Alliance (who were dominated by New Labour or people who came out of Labour and thus were not that far way ideologically) and then Jim Anderton’s Progressives when the Alliance collapsed. With Labour polling at least 38 to 40% under Clark it was always the overwhelmingly dominant partner in a coalition and so coalition management for her was relatively easy.

Clark’s defeat in 2008, and her subsequent departure, has left a huge hole in Labour. Having molded a party around her and her acolytes, there was no surprise when her departure left the party rudderless and at the mercy of the factions that she was able to control via the dirt that Heather Simpson had, ministerial warrants and the selection procedures. In the wake of the unexpected loss in 2008 (and Key’s unexpected ease in the job as PM), Labour’s front bench and caucus have been shell-shocked. Goff could only manage to be elected as leader due to the shock in the immediate aftermath of defeat. Because he was part of the centre right block, normally he would be out of favour. The 2008 defeat weakened the left/feminist bloc because so many were on the list and in marginal provincial seats that National easily won whereas more on the right were in safer electorate seats. But Goff knew that the Clark’s purges had burnt off much of the centrist membership of the party and that Clark’s supporters still held all the levers of power in the party and that unless he pandered to the base, his days as leader would be numbered. So began Labour’s journey away from the vote rich centre – driven by the need to placate a harder left base because the pogrom Clark set in motion 20 years before left the party absent its former moderating influences.

While Labour sowed the seeds of its own demise as a dominant broad church party, the Greens got their act together. They tightened up selection procedures to ensure higher quality candidates, they elevated the more politically savvy Norman and Turei to the co-leadership enhancing their electoral appeal and they brought on board advisers who could work the media, exercise better message control and change the Green’s image from flakey tree huggers to a modern ‘responsible’ environmental party ready to govern with Labour. As Labour drifted rudderless, intent on internal naval gazing and pursuing uninspiring tactics (essentially engaging in personal attacks on John Key and hoping he would flounder and fail), the Greens became an easy repository for disgruntled Labour voters. As the 49th Parliament progressed, the power balance between Labour and the Greens shifted more in the Greens favour.

Key easily bested Goff in the 2011 campaign and so Labour looked to what new talent it had rising in its thinned ranks. In 2012 Labour experimented with a pseudo primary between the three Davids. Parker and Cunliffe had been reasonably capable junior ministers in the latter part of the Clark Administration and Shearer was a shiny new penny with the intriguing UN back story. Parker’s indiscretions soon counted him out leaving the left and right with their preferred candidates in Shearer and Cunliffe. The 2011 election cleaned out a few more of the left faction from the list after Goff’s disastrous showing and the right faction became the core of the ABCs (Anyone But Cunliffe). With Shearer untried and relatively unknown but seemingly attractive, it was felt he would be a fresh internationalist face to stand up to John Key.

Shearer ran hard up against the reality of what Labour had eventually become by the end of the Clark years – a rump of harder left activists from demographic groups that were far from the centre ground of electoral gold that National was actively mining. Shearer attempted the impossible – to simultaneously take Labour and its policies far enough to the left to placate its more radical base and stem the flow of votes to the Greens AND try and take votes off National from the centre ground. This task would’ve been easier in 2005 because the slightly harder right National under Don Brash. Brash was an easy target to ideologically paint due to his history as a disciple of neo liberal economic policies given to his pivotal role as Reserve Bank Governor during the Douglas – Richardson reforms so hated by Labour’s base. But Key was an entirely different animal. Pragmatic, flexible, populist in an average kiwi bloke way, a compelling rags to riches/State House to international money trader story and the strategic nous to position National firmly in the centre (and the personal ruthlessness to enforce it). Various Labour policies like WFF and student loans were left intact and an aggressive borrowing programme to shore up welfare spending after the GFC was undertaken. Right leaning reforms were gradual, incremental, signaled in advance, were well polled/focus group tested and were implemented ensuring always that manifesto promises were scrupulously adhered to. The combination of these tactics and Key’s likeable personality has proven to be a very difficult recipe for Labour to counter as scaremongering about Key’s ideological leanings proved hollow.

Shearer was seemingly undone by his poor media abilities despite coming across as a decent bloke but in reality ultimately he was undone by the shrinking electoral real estate that Labour found themselves in under MMP. With a strong, confident and comfortably centrist National Party commandeering the vote rich centre ground, Labour is left to fight for the centre left vote with not just the Greens but the new hard left Mana Party. If Shearer made overtures to the centre to chip away at National’s soft swing vote, Labour would lose more of its left flank to the Greens. If it veered to the left to counter the Greens and win back its traditional support, it shed more of what was left of its centrist voters to an unthreatening National Party.

Labour then codified its folly. The chickens of driving away it’s centrist and right leaning faction (that once formed part of its broad moderating church) finally came home to roost at the Party’s 2012 Annual Conference in Auckland. Whilst Shearer and the ABCs managed to beat down Cunliffe’s putative coup, they could not stop the harder left and more radicalized party membership from amending the Constitution to give the membership and the unions a say in electing the leader. Despite Cunliffe’s unpopularity in his own caucus, he is a hero to the party membership and left wing enough for the unions. Labour handed power to determine its leader to its membership that, over the last 20 years, increasingly represents a narrower left wing slice of the NZ electorate. The policy proscriptions that arise from this reality are predictable and were on display for all to see in the leadership primary. Robertson ran to give Cunliffe a run for his money but must’ve known the members and the unions were with Cunliffe. Jones gave a flurry of hope to the ABCs and the small rump of centre right members who have stuck it out through the purges but with a party so dominated by women and feminist thinking, a slightly misogynist blokeish man like Jones with the public humiliation of the porn incident still hanging over him, was never going to win. Cunliffe promised a deeper red Labour. The Labour activists swooned, true believers on the left like Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury had wet dreams of the first true left Labour PM since Kirk and the left leaning media drove Cunliffe and Labour to a temporary post primary polling jump in a frenzy of positive reporting.

Cunliffe’s failings as LOO have been well canvassed on this and other right leaning blogs and in the mainstream media. They are real and look set to seal Labour’s fate in 2014 barring some catastrophic scandal from Key and the Nats. But really the premise of this essay is that Labour would be in this pickle regardless of who in the current caucus was the leader. Clark made sure that no charismatic rising star would ever make it to caucus or Cabinet to interfere with her goal of winning four elections and eclipsing Holyoake as the longest serving NZ PM in the modern party era. I alluded to one such person I met in my time in Labour who, absent Clark and the sisterhood’s purge, would be causing Key and National major heartburn if he were the LOO today. Clark dispatched him and many others like him. Look at Labour’s entire caucus. Who in there could seriously challenge Key? There is no one. Even an 11th hour switch to Jones wouldn’t do it notwithstanding the fact that Jones would appeal more the centre. And even if he did manage to challenge Cunliffe to a fight, the harder left party membership would back someone from their faction (likely Jascinda Adern) over Jones Even with a fresh face the next hurdle is the policies. The harder left activist base that now controls who the party leader is means more of the same leftist policies that are proving very easy for National to counter. Anything Labour proposes that is remotely useful and workable, National pinches and the harder left stuff, that so excites the base, is easily dissected and rebutted if only by National pointing to a raft of improving economic indicators under its centre right watch. All Cunliffe’s election has done is stem the flow of voters to the Greens (and if he carries on with his pratfalls even that is not guaranteed). He has effectively surrendered the centre ground to National despite his reassuring appearances to business audiences.

Labour was once a great party. It attracted people of energy, passion and ability from many walks of life. It had reforming zeal usually tempered by the realism of its once broader membership base and if it went too far, the voters returned the Treasury benches to the safer hands of National. Labour’s 1984 to 87 Cabinet, despite their leftist roots, embarked on a series of dramatic reforms that have transformed NZ into the more vibrant and dynamic economy it is today. The left of the party waged a war so total and absolute to purge the party of that instinct that it has destroyed modern Labour and left it a shrunken left leaning shell of its former self that struggles to attract electable talent, will not rejuvenate its caucus, offers policies that excite only 25% of the country and fights with the Greens (who are seen as more pure and virginal) for the centre left vote. The harder left base are tone deaf to the electoral realities of New Zealand politics believing that they will win the day if the great unwashed knew what was good for them and if the policies of the left were articulated better. Without a major change of direction, Labour’s prescription is a recipe for long term electoral oblivion!

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General Debate 18 April 2014

April 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Final boundaries – winners and losers

April 17th, 2014 at 12:52 pm by Jadis

Well the final boundaries are out.  There are some changes (as there always are) and a couple are quite significant.

Winners:

Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert.  Grey Lynn was Jacinda’s territory and I am pretty sure she owns a house there so she will now be living outside of the electorate that she says she will contest in this year’s election.  Nikki is probably sitting on a conservative majority of 2000 but it is useful to remember that with strategic voting and the like locally, and the high profile of the seat, that it will still be a hard race.

Nicky Wagner, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. There must have been some fascinating discussion at the Commission table because it is a crazy shaped seat – how many legs does it have?  Nicky only won the seat by 47 votes so holding Christchurch Central was always going to be extremely tough.  Big chunks of red vote have been cut out of the electorate so Christchurch Central is back in play for both parties.  Still too close to call but certainly gone in Nats favour compared to the provisionals.

Tim MacIndoe, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  This seat should get stronger as more development occurs.  Tim’s majority may get as high as 5000-6000 this year.

Matt Doocey, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country.  The electorate already had a big party vote in Nats favour but Clayton Cosgrove has been pretty popular there.  With Kate Wilkinson retiring Cosgrove would have been hoping to regain his seat but the boundaries haven’t been so helpful for him.  Wilkinson’s very thin majority is expected to climb just into four figures – not a big jump but it matters when a race is as tight as this one.

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central.  Dyson will have a real battle to hold this, even with the Nats putting in a new candidate.  How winnable the seat is very much depends on the strength of the Nat candidate, but a good candidate could take the seat with a 2000 majority.  I’d be gutted if I was Dyson as Pete Hodgson (who did the boundaries for Labour) is a good mate of hers.  Perhaps this is Labour’s new (poor) strategy of retiring MPs.

Trevor Mallard, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat.  Why didn’t Hodgson fight hard for Mallard?  Was it a directive from on high?  Realistically, Mallard should hold the seat but he’ll be working hard for it and never should have been put in this position. I expect Mallard’s majority to be pegged down a few.

Sam Lotu-iiga, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

Cunliffe and Labour – Labour have racked up few gains, and have taken significant hits in Christchurch, the Hutt Valley, Hamilton and Auckland.  In Maungakiekie where Labour locals organised a large number of submissions they’ve made headway but they could have been similarly organised elsewhere and chose not to be. That poor organisation has put a number of Labour MPs at serious risk.  At this rate, Labour will have no provincial seats (Tamati, you are dreaming in Rotorua with another Nat stronghold (Te Puke) going into Rotorua) and are fighting from behind in the marginal seats. Where was the leadership from Cunliffe, Coatsworth, Barnett and the hierarchy to stop this happening?  Overall, a fail for Labour.

 

 

 

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Bishop announces for Hutt South

April 17th, 2014 at 12:21 pm by Jadis

Nice to see a local lad going for the National Party nomination in Hutt South.  Chris Bishop has been around the Party for many years, is a very strong debater and will give Mallard a run for his money.

I’m putting my name forward to be the National Party’s candidate for Hutt South as I believe the electorate needs a fresh face in Parliament and a strong voice in Government.

Lower Hutt is my home. I was born in Lower Hutt Hospital in 1983 and attended Eastern Hutt School and Hutt Intermediate. I played cricket on the Strand in summer, rugby on the Hutt Rec in winter, and waterpolo in Naenae Pool.

Those of us from the Hutt know what a great place it is. It’s a fantastic place to bring up a family, to work in, and to have fun in. Lower Hutt is full of friendly, creative, hard-working people who are proud of where they live. It’s my community, and I’m passionate about making the Hutt even better.

 

He’s got a pretty tidy CV for his age and thankfully a mix of Wellington and real world work experience – especially for his age.   He is of course a Senior Adviser to Joyce.  A role he will need to step down from through the selection process.

I work as a Senior Advisor to Steven Joyce at Parliament, helping him implement the National government’s programme to lift our economic growth and deliver better public services for Kiwis. From 2008-11, I worked in a similar role for Gerry Brownlee.

Between 2011 and 2013 I spent two years living and working in Auckland as a Corporate Affairs Manager for a large international corporate. I learned a lot, very quickly, about what makes business tick. I believe it is important MPs understand not just Wellington and government – but also how government decisions affect business and economic growth. My time in the private sector has given me that knowledge.

I have a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University. While at Victoria I was elected to the University Council, tutored law, and was President of the Debating Society, winning three NZ University Blues. I’ve won 10 intervarsity debating tournaments, including at the Cambridge Union and the Sydney Union, and I was twice ranked as one of the top 10 debaters in the Asia Pacific. I’ve also won awards for mooting (legal arguing) and oratory.

I’m an active contributor to the community and have served on a range of charitable organisations in Wellington and overseas. From 2008-12, I was President of the NZ Schools’ Debating Council, a charity which organises debating in secondary schools in New Zealand. I’ve adjudicated hundreds of school debates around New Zealand and also overseas. In 2006 I was named Young Wellingtonian of the Year.

I didn’t know that Chris had been Young Wellingtonian of the Year.  

Of course, Chris still has to win the nomination and with today’s announcements about boundary changes there may be some competition for the Hutt South nomination. 

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Parliament Today 17 April 2014

April 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer 2.00PM-3.00PM

Questions to Ministers.

  1. DENIS O’ROURKE to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree with all of the Prime Minister’s statements concerning transport?
  2. JOANNE HAYES to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on recent trends in the cost of living for New Zealanders?
  3. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Did she meet with a senior official from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, also known as the AQSIQ, during her Ministerial visit to China in October 2013?
  4. PAUL GOLDSMITH to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises: What progress has the Government made on the mixed ownership model programme?
  5. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister for Social Development: What recent reports has she received about the number of people on a benefit?
  7. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Prime Minister: Does he support or condemn the killing of a New Zealand citizen by a United States drone strike in Yemen last year?
  8. Dr CAM CALDER to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on further Initial Teacher Education provision?
  9. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her statements that police are “much happier under a National-led Government” and that, “there have been no police budget cuts”?
  10. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE to the Associate Minister of Transport: What recent initiatives has the Government announced to help improve safety on our roads?
  11. DARIEN FENTON to the Minister of Immigration: What steps has he taken to ensure that New Zealand workers are given priority for jobs in the Christchurch rebuild and migrant workers given temporary visas are protected?
  12. TE URUROA FLAVELL to the Minister for Primary Industries: Is he aware of the concerns of the Chairman of Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi that the revised policy laid out in the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will disproportionately affect iwi owners of settlement quota who lack the scale, capital and flexibility of other quota owners to make other arrangements for catching their annual catch entitlement; if so, what is he doing to address these concerns?

Today Labour are asking about the Oravida saga, whether the Minister of Finance stands by all his statements, budget cuts to the Police, and migrant workers. The Greens are asking about drone strikes. New Zealand First are asking about transport.

Patsy of the day goes to Cam Calder for Question 8: What recent announcements has she made on further Initial Teacher Education provision?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.00PM

1. Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill - Third Reading

2. Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2) - Third Reading

The Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Associate Minister for Social Welfare, Chester Borrows. This bill proposes amendments to the Social Security Act 1964 to make spouses and partners, as well as beneficiaries, accountable for fraud, and to enable the Ministry of Social Development to recover debt more effectively.

The Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2) is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill was formerly part of the Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill (Formerly part of Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill).

 

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General Debate 17 April 2014

April 17th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Everest Base Camp Day 9

April 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

 

 

 

Today was the hardest day but also the most magnificent. Before I touch on Day 9, I must mention the incredible conversation we had last night with the lodge owner at Tangnag. He has climbed to the summit of Mt Everest no less than seven times. He is on a “holiday” from climbing as he has an 11 month old baby. Was great to be able to chat to him about what it was like to climb Everest, and to help others get there.

Our guides has warned us today would be an early start but had refused to tell us exactly what that meant until the evening before. It turns out it means 4 am. Well up at 4 am, breakfast at 4.30 am, and out at 5 am.

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This is me in my full gear at 4.30 am. On the legs I had icebreaker thermal leggings, Kathmandu trousers and waterproof over-trousers on top of that.

The core was an Icebreaker base, then an Icebreaker 200 top and then a Merino 320 top and on top of that a down jacket.

On the head, was a beanie, a balaclava, the hood from the Merino 320 and the hood from the jacket.

I think you get the idea it was rather cold!

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A view of Tangnag as we climb above it.

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The first two hours is a moderate uphill trek. This is the view looking back.

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This is from the top of the first section.

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Next one has to climb over these rocks to the Chola Pass ascent which you can see in the back.

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We’re now on the beginning of the steep ascent. One group camped out here!

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This is the climb up. It took around two hours and it was fucking hard. The top of the pass is 5360 metres so the atmosphere is around 37% only. As you ascend, you get out of breath really quickly. I sounded like I was auditioning for the part of Darth Vader in Star Wars. Also add to that, much of the track was covered in slippery snow. Also for good measure had my usual headache but remarkably not as bad as yesterday.

The climb is around 500 metres and you just take it 50 metres at a time.

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Finally made it! The view ahead from the top of the pass.

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This is the view back down from the top. At this height we are slightly higher than Everest Base Camp.

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After a break the trek down starts. We spent around 45 minutes trekking through snow. At times on a very narrow path. I almost slid the the slope at one stage. The climb back up would not have been fun!

The ice axe got used a few times on patches where it was too slippery.

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Some nice snow ledges.

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The rest of the descent down and then trek along the flat to Dzongla.

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On three occasions we had to use ropes to help the descent as it was so icy. If anyone from Southern Cross Insurance is reading this please note this technically was not mountain climbing, as that is of course excluded from my travel insurance coverage :-)

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We had lunch as this spot halfway down.  Photos can not capture the amazing panorama views of snow covered mountains on all sides as you sit on the rocks and have chapati and a boiled egg! Oh yeah, I’ve been vegetarian for a week now!

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When there is food, there will be a bird wanting some! He looks like an extra from The Omen.

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The final stretch. It started to snow lightly for the last 90 minutes – the first time we had been caught out in the snow.

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And Dzongla ahead.

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For the last 10 minutes it started to snow more heavily so we got here just in time. You can see the poor bird in the snow.

A really hard but great day. The views were amazing. Going through a valley with snow covered peaks on all sides.

We didn’t know this before we crossed the Chola pass, but the main guide said we were the 13th group he had taken across it and we were the first group he had guided to have every party member successfully make it. Every other group had one or more people unable to complete it, or even get helicoptered out.  So that was a pretty good achievement.

We’re now two days off Everest Base Camp, all things going well. The height here is around 4860 metres which is the highest we’ve been overnight.

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No need for compulsory Maori?

April 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by Jadis

A café on Waiheke Island has come up with a novel way to increase the use of te reo and it isn’t compulsory to use it but will save you some money.

On a Sunday, you can arrive at 8.30am, right at opening time, and by 8.35am there is a queue of locals out the door, waiting for their freshly baked hot cross buns, patisserie, artisan breads and hot, steaming drinks.

And if you say “He kawhe maku”, instead of “I’d like a coffee”, you’ll get 50c off for your trouble.

Owner Patrick Griffiths says the idea of introducing Maori is to support people to learn the language at whatever level they want, and to feel comfortable about it.

He and his wife Hinemoa have been studying te reo for seven years.

“If you want to speak Italian you can go to Italy and immerse yourself in the language but there’s no place you can really go to speak te reo Maori.

“It’s one of our three official languages and is a taonga – it’s very precious.”

Sure, it is on the very liberal Waiheke Island but it sure is a more interesting and fun way to encourage people to use everyday, conversational Maori.

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Parliament Today April 16 2014

April 16th, 2014 at 2:25 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM-3.00PM.

  1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Hon Judith Collins and her handling of her relationship with Oravida Ltd?
  2. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: What are likely to be the main pressures on interest rates and what steps is the Government taking to help prevent home mortgage rates from returning to levels seen in 2008?
  3. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Was the employer of the senior Chinese border control official, who she had dinner with in Beijing in October 2013 on her Ministerial visit to China, from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine also known as the AQSIQ?
  4. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does he stand by all his statements?
  5. Hon KATE WILKINSON to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: What new initiatives is the Government supporting to assist housing affordability in Christchurch?
  6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Justice: Why will she not identify the senior Chinese border official with whom she met on 20 October 2013, and disclose the business that was discussed at the dinner with him that evening?
  7. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Minister for ACC: Does she stand by her answers to Oral Question No. 10 yesterday?
  8. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What progress has the Government made in ensuring overseas-based student loan borrowers meet their obligations to New Zealand taxpayers?
  9. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Housing: Does he stand by his statement that it will take “a period of a decade or two” to get housing affordability to his long-term target?
  10. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister for ACC: Have all of the recommendations of the 2012 Independent Review of ACC’s Privacy and Security of Information been implemented; if not, why not?
  11. ANDREW LITTLE to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement “we still have much more to do to improve New Zealand’s economic growth and to support higher incomes across the board”?
  12. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON to the Minister of Health: What investments has the Government made to support new technology for paramedics?

Today Labour are asking two questions about Oravida, ACC privacy, Housing and, Economic Growth. The Greens are asking about energy, and  ACC privacy.  New Zealand First are asking about Oravida, and economic growth.

Patsy of the day goes to Dr Paul Hutchison for Q12: What investments has the Government made to support new technology for paramedics?

General Debate 3.00PM -4.00PM

12 speeches of 5 minutes each. Educational and amusing.

Government Bills 4.00PM-6.00PM and 7.30PM -10.00PM.

1. Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) - First Reading

2. Victims of Crime Reform Bill – Committee Stage

3. Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill - Committee Stage

The Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) is being guided through the house by the Minister for Courts, Chester Borrows.  A Statutes Amendment Bill is an omnibus bill that amends a range of Acts.

The Victims of Crime Reform Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins. This bill amends legislation so as to implement the Government’s reform package for victims of crime.

The Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins. This bill would establish a mechanism for a victim of a violent offence to obtain a non-contact order against an offender sentenced to imprisonment for five years or more.

 

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A bottle of Grange ends O’Farrell’s premiership

April 16th, 2014 at 2:15 pm by Jadis

Well the Duke and Duchess are touching down in Australia amidst a political storm.  Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales has just resigned. O’Farrell’s statement to media says:

“I’ve been advised overnight that this morning at ICAC a thank you note from me in relation to the bottle of wine will be presented. I still can’t recall the receipt of a gift of a bottle of 1959 Grange, I can’t explain what happened to that bottle of wine. But I do accept that there is a thank you note signed by me and as someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility, I accept the consequences of my actions.

“The evidence I gave to the independent commission against corruption yesterday was evidence to the best of my knowledge. I believe it to be truthful and as I said yesterday it’s important that citizens deal with police, deal with the courts and deal with watchdogs like ICAC in a truthful fashion.

“In no way did I seek to mislead, wilfully or otherwise, the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But this has clearly been a significant memory fail on my part, albeit within weeks of coming to office, but I accept the  consequences of my actions. And that is that as soon as I can organise a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal party for next week I will be resigning the position and enabling a new Liberal leader to be elected, someone who will then become the Premier of NSW.

“Whilst I’m sure you have questions, I don’t think this is the time for those questions to be dealt with. There will be other occasions for those questions to be dealt with. But what’s important here is that again I’m seeking to support  the process of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, a body that I’ve always supported throughout my career. I’ve accepted that I’ve had a massive memory fail, I still can’t explain either the arrival of a gift that I have no recollection of or its absence, which I certainly still can’t fathom.   “But I accept the consequences. In an orderly way, a new leader will be elected to take on the position of Premier of NSW.”

So it was the bottle (wherever it may be) and his own thank you note that did it.

o'farrell note

Now the fun part.  Who will be the next Premier?  My pick is Mike Baird.

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Spot the Spoof

April 16th, 2014 at 1:33 pm by Jadis

* Jadis post

So yesterday we had the dump truck policy from David Cunliffe, where he said:

“There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane.”

Then today we get this different kind of statement from Cunliffe (via Imperator Fish)

But we’re not stopping there. People also tell us that they can’t stand it when they’re merging in traffic, and when some clown in a souped-up car tries to push ahead of everyone else. We’ll make sure everyone merging in traffic follows the rules.

I’ve been travelling up and down this country talking to people, and I hear a lot of complaints. People are fed up. People have had enough. They’re at their wits’ end. They want to know why it is that when their neighbour’s car alarm goes off at three in the morning for the fourth night in a row, the police lack the power to confiscate the vehicle. We’ll fix that.

It simply isn’t good enough for this government to throw up its hands and say “not our problem” every time you go to open a tin of baked beans, only to find that the tin opener fails to cut the last bit, and then you have to get a spoon or a knife to twist the lid up, and then you have to wiggle the lid until it breaks off.

It’s not good enough for John Key and his rich mates to say “we’re not responsible” when you buy a carton of Anchor vanilla custard from the supermarket, take it home, and then open the carton at the top to pour the contents out, only to find that the custard is too thick to come out. Where’s the support for hardworking Kiwis forced to use a pair of scissors to cut the top of the carton off? Who’s looking after ordinary mums and dads forced to scoop the custard out with a spoon?

This is quality satire – all within the realms of possibility.  Well done, Scott.  I am sure you got a few heads nodding in agreement.

 

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General Debate 16 April 2014

April 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Clustertruck continues

April 15th, 2014 at 5:18 pm by Jadis

* a Jadis post – by now you know the drill.  DPF will return one day

So it turns out that yet again Cunliffe and the Labour team haven’t checked the numbers or the unintended consequences of a policy announcement.  Ministry of Transport analysis shows that under Labour’s new policy many motorhomes would actually be charged higher Road User Charges – not lower as Cunliffe tried to suggest earlier today.  Brownlee explains this latest clustertruck from the Labour team:

“But analysis by the Ministry of Transport shows that based on the difference between average and maximum weights for trucks versus motorhomes, the owners of many motorhomes would end up paying more for Road User Charges than they do today.

“Road User Charges already assume that a vehicle travels empty about half of the time, as trucks frequently do travelling from a depot to pick up a load, or returning to the depot.

“Motorhomes, however, generally carry their furniture, fittings and other material at all times, which means they weigh more than an equivalent unladen truck.

“The 4.6 tonne average motorhome is in a weight band required to pay Road User Charges of about $57 per 1000 kilometres.  If paying by actual weight, Road User Charges would typically be between $50 and $70 per 1000 kilometres, depending on the exact weight of the vehicle and its fit out.

“So this policy would see many motorhome owners penalised rather than compensated, in some cases by as much as 22 per cent.

I wonder, was this Cunliffe’s intention?  May be he is doing us a favour by stealth and getting those slow motorhomes (and tourists) off the road.  The attack on the truckies was just a cunning sideshow.  Yeah, nah… I call Clustertruck on this one

 

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