Flat Race 2014

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

Jack Buchanan (who played Colin Craig and Jacinda Ardern in Destination Beehive at Circa) has done a six part satirical series on the election called Flat Race 2014.

This is the first episode. The other five episodes are here. They’re very good.

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Issues that matter: Welfare

September 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The fourth of my series looking at issues that I think most New Zealanders are interested in.

Child Abuse


In 2008 the number of child abuse notifications went up 11.4%. In the last 12 months they have declined 2%. Source MSD

child poverty


In 2007 there were 240,000 children in households defined as below the relative poverty line of 60% Fixed Line After Housing Costs. In 2013 this was slightly lower or static at 230,000. Source: MSD



Many go on welfare for short periods. I have. But job seekers who are unemployed for over a year can be a serious issue. In 2010 there were 77,689 unemployed for over a year and in 214 this has reduced to 68,932 – a 11.9% reduction. Source: MSD



The Stats NZ Household Economic Survey asks households if their income is adequate. In the year to June 2009 17.2% said they had inadequate income. In the year to June 2013 it was a lower 14.0%

Sole Parents


Research has shown that teenagers and young NZers who go on a benefit early often stay on for over a decade, and have a huge lifetime cost. In 2009 (typo in graph) there were 18,276 people under 25 on sole parent benefits. In 2014 this had reduced 16.8% to 16,506. Source: MSD



We hear quite a lot about income inequality. One measure is the ratio of income from those in the 10th or top decile to those in the lowest decile. In 2009 it was an 8.6 ratio and in 2013 it was an 8.3 ratio – showing a slight lessening in inequality on this measure. Source: MSD

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Eminem suing National

September 16th, 2014 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

Eminem’s publishers have announced:

In proceedings filed today in the Wellington Registry of the High Court of New Zealand, Eight Mile Style, LLC and Martin Affiliated, LLC, the Detroit-based publishers of Eminem’s copyrights, are seeking damages for copyright infringement against the New Zealand National Party. The proceedings stem from allegations that unauthorised use has been made of Eminem’s Grammy and Academy Award winning song, “Lose Yourself”, in election campaign advertising run by the National Party in the lead up to the 2014 New Zealand General Election which is to take place on 20 September 2014.

Joel Martin, speaking on behalf of the publishers, said: “The claim we have filed alleges copyright infringement. Eminem’s publishers were not approached for permission to use any of Eminem’s songs for this campaign advertisement. It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the 3 strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright. We do not hesitate to take immediate action to protect the integrity of Eminem’s works, particularly where a party, as here, has sought to associate itself with Eminem and his work.”

I guess it will come down to whether the song used by National was altered enough to be considered a new work.

Personally I think parties are best to avoid music that even slightly resembles an existing song.

UPDATE: The Herald reports:

In a statement, the National Party said it completely rejected the allegations the music used in its early campaign advertisements had infringed the copyright of any artist’s work.

“The National Party purchased the music in question from recognised production music supplier Beatbox, based in Australia and Singapore. The music was originally published by Spider Cues Music, a well-established Los Angeles-based provider of music to the film and entertainment industry.

“As with all works licensed by the Beatbox library music service, the National Party was assured the music in question did not infringe any copyright and was an original work.

“Furthermore, the music license and fee were arranged through the Australasian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (Apra/Amcos), who act as agents for Beatbox in Australia and New Zealand.

“These organisations exist to protect the rights of artists.

“Regardless, as our advertising was moving on to different material at the time of the complaint, over two weeks ago, we were able to accommodate the complaining artist and undertake not to continue using the track. However, this has not satisfied the complainant.”

The National Party said the song had been licensed multiple times both in Australia and New Zealand without issue or complaint.

That’s a pretty strong defence. Looks like it could be a beat up.

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Abbott in Arnhem

September 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, has moved into a tent in a far-flung stretch of Outback bushland to govern the nation for a week from a tiny Aboriginal community.

In an unprecedented move by an Australian leader, whose usual residence is a stately 1920s house in Canberra, Abbott has shifted the seat of government to the outskirts of Yirrkala, a remote Aboriginal township in Arnhem Land, northern Australia with a population of 843.

He will govern from a canvas tent – complete with secure phone and video lines for Cabinet meetings and calls to international leaders – and has brought with him some of the nation’s top civil servants, who are also staying in tents. …

The visit is also part of Abbott’s attempt to address the plight of the nation’s Aborigines, who have far higher rates of infant mortality, disease, imprisonment and poverty.

As an MP, Abbott frequently stayed in Aboriginal communities and he promised that if elected he would spend a week each year ruling from a remote indigenous township.

“For an entire week, Aboriginal people will have my full focus and attention as prime minister,” he said.

Abbott will also hold discussions this week on his plan for a nationwide referendum to change the constitution to recognise Aborigines as the nation’s first peoples.

But he has indicated that any such symbolic gestures of reconciliation should be accompanied by moves to improve the economic well-being of Australia’s 700,000-odd Aborigines.

What a smart way to get the media to focus on the plight of Australia’s Aborigines, and to stay grounded in the community.


Is the Ministry of Health trying to increase smoking rates?

September 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Ordering nicotine-based e-cigarette products off the shelves is “ridiculous”, says a health official and respected anti-smoking campaigner.

Despite being illegal according to the Ministry of Health’s rules, e-cigarettes containing nicotine have been widely available over the counter in Auckland.

But in the past few weeks, the ministry has dispatched smoke-free enforcement officers to inform retailers such sales are prohibited.

The devices, which contain flavoured “e-liquid” with or without nicotine, emit a smoke-like vapour.

One of the major e-cigarette retailers, Shosha, said on Thursday it would get rid of its stock either this week or next week.

Public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen, who has been researching e-cigarettes since 2007, labelled the ministry’s decision “ridiculous” and said it would drive people back to smoking tobacco. He said e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes, a view shared by the World Health Organisation.

“The ministry itself says half of combustible cigarette smokers will die from smoking so what is being set up is a ridiculous policy which enables people to keep on smoking something which is going to kill them. It’s a crazy policy.”

Tobacco is indisputably lethal. E-cigarettes may have some minor health impacts, but if you can use them to get people off tobacco, then they’re a very good thing.

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Winston wants a Labour-NZ First Goverment

September 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve said for some time that Peters will ask Labour to block the Greens, so he can claim he has saved NZ from them, and this is looking likely. The Herald reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said today that voters should consider a Labour-New Zealand First as a potential alternative Government, not Labour and Greens, in what is the most definitive statement from him yet on post-election options.

That suggests that would keep the Green Party away from the cabinet table in any Labour-Led Government as he did in 2005.

If you vote Winston, you’ll get David Cunliffe as PM. It will be a Labour-NZ First Government but propped up by the Greens and Internet Mana.



An interesting section of the Crimes Act

September 16th, 2014 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

A reader has pointed out Section 257 of the Crimes Act to me. It reads:

257 Using forged documents
  • (1)Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, knowing a document to be forged,—

    • (a)uses the document to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or

    • (b)uses, deals with, or acts upon the document as if it were genuine; or

    • (c)causes any other person to use, deal with, or act upon it as if it were genuine.

    (2)For the purposes of this section, a document made or altered outside New Zealand in a manner that would have amounted to forgery if the making or alteration had been done in New Zealand is to be regarded as a forged document.

If I were the CEO of Warners I’d be getting advice on laying a complaint with the NZ Police. Maybe Kim Dotcom should consider laying a complaint also, as he may be the innocent victim of a terrible forgery by the person who supplied the e-mail to him. I’m sure he’ll want a proper investigation into the e-mail.


Fisher on Radio Live on the Warners e-mail

September 16th, 2014 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

Listen to David Fisher on Radio Live talking about the Warner’s e-mail. Some quotes:

He did not present it at the Town Hall. I think that is extraordinary that we have two and a half years of this … conspiracy theory against me and I’m going to present this evidence. Initially it was going to be at the extradition hearing and then he said it will be on September 15 … Dotcom spent two and a half years saying I’ll show you the evidence, and then not. …

I’ve been following thsi case right from the outset Sean and the feeling I’ve had, the belief I’ve had, my honest belief is that there is not a conspiracy theory. I don’t believe there is any evidence that shows Key knew about Dotcom prior to the raid in January 2012

Fisher is the author of Kim Dotcom’s biography.

Another interesting discussion is whether the Internet Party should declare the cost of the Moment of Truth as a campaign expense, and would this push them over the spending limit? Their expenses return is going to be very closely scrutinised and I’d be very nervous if I was the party secretary.

David Fisher said he has no doubt it should be treated as an expense for the Internet Party.  Plunket also interviewed Andrew Geddis on this issue.

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Consultation: Demerits and Suspensions

September 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The current demerits and suspension system works okay, but I think people get too many chances, and also it is rather complicated to keep track of all the demerits. Basically at the moment you get between 10 and 100 demerits for an unacceptable comment and everytime you make 100 you get suspended – initially for one week, and doubling each time you get to 100 again.

I’d like feedback on some possible changes.

Replace demerits with warnings and strikes

Rather than have a subjective number of demerit points, just have an unacceptable comment count as a strike, and one that verges on unacceptable count as a warning.

Three strikes and you’re out

If someone gets three strikes, then they are suspended.

Once suspended, all further strikes will lead to a suspension

After a suspension, then a further strike is a automatic further suspension. Warnings can still be given for borderline stuff, but clearly unacceptable content is an automatic suspension

Carry on current regime of doubling suspension periods

This would mean the following

  1. Strike 1 – no suspension
  2. Strike 2 – no suspension
  3. Strike 3 – one week suspension
  4. Strike 4 – two weeks suspension
  5. Strike 5 – one month suspension
  6. Strike 6 – two month suspension
  7. Strike 7 – three month suspension
  8. Strike 8 – six month suspension
  9. Strike 9 – one year suspension
  10. Strike 10 – permanent ban

An amnesty

As from 1 October there would be a new system, all current suspensions and demerits are wiped, and everyone starts with a blank slate.

Welcome feedback on the proposed changes. From my point of view it would be much easier to just record what strike someone is one, rather than the rather complicated demerit system. It is also less subjective.

Can I also say I’m really pleased with the report abusive comment usage. Readers have responded really well to this, reporting a couple of dozen abusive comments and hiding them from view quickly.  In only one case has there been an inappropriate reporting..


NZ Herald on Labour’s $100 million get Winston on board fund

September 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It was advertised as the Labour Party’s last big policy of the election campaign. When delivered, however, the plan to set up a $100 million-a-year sovereign wealth fund to invest in “strategic” assets, including clean energy, prompted only a scratching of heads. So small was it in size and so opaque was its intention that Labour’s motive was anyone’s guess. Was it meant to appease Winston Peters? Was it designed to appeal to the Greens? Was it meant for Labour’s left-wingers?

Either way, it was a policy that had little in the way of either substance or merit.

I have a much better idea. Let the economic geniuses of the Labour Party caucus mortgage their houses and assets and raise $100 million of their own money and they can then invest that in whatever assets they want, and let’s see how much money they have left after a few years.


General Debate 16 September 2014

September 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

It’s time to get angry

September 16th, 2014 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

For months and even years we have given Kim Dotcom a slight benefit of the doubt. He claimed back in 2012 that he had evidence John Key knew about him before 19 January 2012. He said he would produce this evidence in court.

He never ever did.

But he kept insisting he had the evidence. Many got sceptical when he offered a $5 million reward for the evidence he claimed he already had, but he kept insisting he would reveal his evidence, and he then got specific – that he would reveal it at a public meeting on the 15th of September.  Most of us thought the evidence would be ambiguous at best, or inconsequential – but thought he would at least have something.

But it seems he had nothing at all. The claimed e-mail is so obviously a fake (see Danyl McLauchlan), that he didn’t even present it at the meeting. His fellow speakers probably insisted he not mention it, as he could not assure them that it was genuine. He has not provided any evidence at all to authenticate it, and the excuse that they can’t discuss it any more because Hone Harawira has referred it to the Privileges Committee is a pathetic ploy. As this circular makes clear, there is no Privileges Committee for it to be refereed to. The House has been dissolved. Hone’s abysmal knowledge of parliamentary rules is on display once again.

Kim Dotcom has trued to hijack our democracy and we should be angry about this. He is both a convicted criminal, and someone facing serious charges in the United States. His political involvement is not motivated by concern for New Zealand and New Zealanders. His motivation is purely about what is good for himself, and he has spent millions of dollars trying to subvert our democracy and country as if it is his plaything.

I’m angry about this, and you should be also.

The one thing Dotcom wants more than anything else is to change the Government. Any change of government will be his most prized possession, and the party he controls will be propping up a left wing Government. Don’t let this man buy and subvert our democracy. He had his chance to show he is not a charlatan, and he failed.

The parties of the left have all paid homage to him. One party sold out lock stock and barrel. They have sold him their party list and policies. Others had their MPs all travel up to his mansion to pay homage to him. Unlike almost every other citizen who has to travel to an MPs office to meet an MP, Dotcom has had Labour, Green and NZ First MPs beat a path to his mansion. The one thing that united them was hatred of John Key, and they wanted in on the alleged proof that Key had lied. They got played also – but they were warned.

If you don’t want future elections to have criminal multimillionaires buy off political parties, and use a general election as a tool to undermine judicial extradition hearings, then get angry and vote. And talk to your friends and colleagues and urge them to vote against Dotcom. New Zealanders should have been having a final week debating the economy, the health system, the education system, jobs, incomes, welfare, housing and the like. But Dotcom’s media manipulation has tried to make it all about him. Hell his rambling speech last night was almost an advertisement for his new Mega company at times.

Yes some of the stuff alleged by Snowden is of public interest, but Snowden, Assange and Greenwald make a conscious decision to throw their lots in with Dotcom and appear at a campaign event for the Internet Mana Party five days before the election. If they had laid out their allegations at an earlier date in a forum not organised by Dotcom, then their allegations would be getting the scrutiny they deserve. The worst possible time to have a sensible analysis and discussion on this is in the dying days of the campaign – and especially at a partisan event organised by a criminal facing extradition proceedings.

Personally I think Snowden and Greenwald are not correct, as they are working on incomplete documents. The former GCSB Director, Sir Bruce Ferguson, said on Campbell Live:

“This is an occasion where I have to say quite forcefully and categorically to support the Prime Minister’s utterances of the last few days – mass surveillance, particularly by the GCSB most certainly didn’t happen in my time or in any time before that,” says Sir Ferguson.

Ferguson is no fan of the PM. He has been very critical of him, so when he backs the PM, that says something. Southern Cross Cable has also said the claims are nonsense.

Dotcom has tried to buy himself an election result. He claimed for around two years he had evidence that John Key lied. He said it to a parliamentary committee. He said it to the media dozens of times. He tweeted it.  The media reported his claims in good faith. He has had more air time and columns that possibly any other minor party leader (which he effectively is, just barred from holding the job officially as he is not a citizen). And he has totally failed to substantiate his claims. He couldn’t even answer the most basic question about the alleged e-mail. Instead he attacked the media for not being compliant enough.

Get angry and stay angry. Do not give Dotcom what he wants. Make sure you vote. Encourage others to vote. His two year campaign of hatred against John Key has been built on a tissue of lies, and he should not be rewarded for it.

UPDATE: In relation to the alleged e-mail, a reader has pointed out to me that the alleged e-mail looks identical to what you would get if you typed the text up in Notepad!!!

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The clusterfuck moment of truth

September 15th, 2014 at 9:20 pm by David Farrar

For two years or so Kim Dotcom has claimed he had proof that John Key knew about him and was part of a global conspiracy. He repeated this claim dozens of times. He then said he would reveal the truth during the so called Moment or Truth tonight. But he didn’t. He conned basically everyone.

He claims he did not refer to the e-mail because it has been referred to the Privileges Committee. That is a lie. Parliament has been dissolved. There is no Privileges Committee.

Dotcom failed to provide one sherrick of evidence that this e-mail is authentic.

He is now attacking the media because they have dared to ask him for proof. In the last 24 hours more people have seen his true colours – a bully who is used to buying anything he wants.


PM on surveillance claims

September 15th, 2014 at 5:55 pm by David Farrar

John Key has done a release stating:

Prime Minister John Key tonight corrected misinformation that has been put in the public domain concerning the operations of the Government Communications Security Bureau.

“Claims have been made tonight that are simply wrong and that is because they are based on incomplete information,” Mr Key says.

“There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance programme operating in New Zealand.

“There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB.

“Regarding XKEYSCORE, we don’t discuss the specific programmes the GCSB may, or may not use, but the GCSB does not collect mass metadata on New Zealanders, therefore it is clearly not contributing such data to anything or anyone,” Mr Key says.

“I am setting the record straight tonight because I believe New Zealanders deserve better than getting half of a story, embellished for dramatic effect and political gain, and based on incomplete information.

“The GCSB undertakes cyber security operations to protect individual public and private sector entities from the increasing threat of cyber-attack and this is very important work.

“It does not, however, remotely resemble what has been claimed,” Mr Key says.

The GCSB’s cyber security operations occur within its legal framework and only when the following conditions are met: 

  • Each entity must provide individual legal consent to be protected by the GCSB;
  • The independent Commissioner of Security Warrants must be satisfied each individual case is within the law, and a legal warrant must be co-signed by the Prime Minister and the Commissioner;
  • Warrants are subject to a two-step process, as outlined by the Prime Minister when legislation was passed last year. A warrant is required for high level cyber protection for an individual entity, and the content of a New Zealander’s communications cannot be looked at by a GCSB employee unless a specific cyber threat is identified which relates to that communication. If that is the case, the GCSB must return to the Prime Minister and the Commissioner to make the case for a second warrant in order to access that communication.

In addition to this, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has substantially stronger powers to monitor the GCSB’s activities and ensure they are appropriate and within the law.

“Our cyber security programme began operating this year after a lengthy process of assessing options for protection,” Mr Key says.

“The process began in late 2011 when the GCSB made it clear to me that cyber-attacks were a growing threat to our country’s data and intellectual property and the Government needed to invest in addressing that.

“The Bureau assessed a variety of options for protection and presented an initial range to Cabinet for consideration in 2012.

“These options ranged from the highest possible form of protection to a much weaker form of security, with some in between.

“The Cabinet initially expressed an interest in GCSB developing a future business case for the strongest form of protection for our public and private sectors, but it later revoked that decision and opted for what we have now – something known as Cortex.

“The business case for the highest form of protection was never completed or presented to Cabinet and never approved. Put simply, it never happened,” Mr Key says.

The Prime Minister tonight also released declassified material, including a Cabinet minute to show what occurred.

“I can assure New Zealanders that there is not, and never has been, mass surveillance by the GCSB.

“In stark contrast, the Bureau actually operates a sound, individually-based form of cyber protection only to entities which legally consent to it,” Mr Key says.

The attachments are below.

1 2 3 4

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Southern Cross Cable on the Dotcom allegations

September 15th, 2014 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

A press release from Southern Cross Cable:

Claims of cable access total nonsense

The claims made today by journalist Glenn Greenwald that the Southern Cross undersea cables have been tapped into or accessed are total nonsense said the CEO Anthony Briscoe today.

The cables, which link New Zealand to Australia, the Pacific and the United States, are untouched, Mr Briscoe noted.

“I can tell you quite categorically there is no facility by the NSA, the GCSB or anyone else on the Southern Cross cable network.”

“Let’s be quite blunt. To do this, we would have to take the cable out of service and I can assure you there’s no way we are going to do that.

“It is a physical impossibility to do it without us knowing. There is just no way it can be done. I can give you absolute assurances from Southern Cross – and me as a Kiwi – that there are no sites anywhere on the Southern Cross network that have to do with interception or anything else the NSA or GCSB might want to do.”

He added, any breach of the cable would require temporarily shutting down its transmission for hours. Southern Cross has monitoring systems built into its computers watching for any such break and they would be triggered as soon as any attempt was made.

“There isn’t a technology in the world, as far as I am aware, that can splice into an undersea fibre optic cable without causing a serious outage and sending alarms back to our network operation centre, that something’s wrong.”

Southern Cross is obligated to comply with the well-established and public lawful surveillance requirements in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and related laws in the United States. However there is no equipment installed in the New Zealand or United States landing stations, or on the cable itself, which could result in mass interception of communications.

We are very disturbed that such unfounded allegations have been made and feel that it’s important for all New Zealanders to understand that this outrageous claim is totally untrue.

The so called moment of truth is turning into a moment of farce.

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The Dotcom e-mail

September 15th, 2014 at 3:32 pm by David Farrar

The Herald has published the e-mail that Kim Dotcom claims proves John Key was part of a global conspiracy about him.

Warners have said it is a fake, and there was no private meeting and no e-mail.

The onus has to be on Dotcom to substantiate the e-mail, and prove it is real.

I recall that he has claimed to have had proof for several years now. Yet earlier this year he offered $5 million for information proving the conspiracy. Why would he offer $5 million of he had proof? And if this is what he got for his $5 million, he may need to get a refund.

I think both of Dotcom’s big reveals are poised to become fizzers. They will help his party get votes and publicity of other left wing parties, but I don’t see them leading to any centre-right voters, swapping over. If anything, it may incentivise right voters more.


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NZ 6th for education efficiency

September 15th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A report assessing 30 OECD countries for their educational efficiency (results vs money spent) has New Zealand as 6th best. The top 10 are:

  1. Finland 87.8%
  2. Korea 86.7%
  3. Czech Republic 84.4%
  4. Hungary 84.1%
  5. Japan 83.9%
  6. New Zealand 83.3%
  7. Slovenia 83.3%
  8. Australia 81.2%
  9. Sweden 80.6%
  10. Iceland 79.4%

Of interest the two most efficient systems have relatively large class sizes. Finland averages 1:16.5 and NZ 1:13.5.  Greece by the way has a 1:9.7 ratio!

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Transport officials should be forced to use public transport

September 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Citylab reports:

Christof Spieler moved to downtown Houston about nine years ago and began a reverse commute to a suburban office park. He took the No. 9 Gulfton Metro bus because he liked to get things done during the ride and hated sitting in traffic, but the service left much to be desired. The bus didn’t run very often (every 20 minutes or more, even at rush-hour); transfers were hard to coordinate; and the pedestrian infrastructure near the stops was terrifying (to reach the office, he braved five lanes of car traffic without a signal or a crosswalk).

“It really gave me a good feel of what the system’s like,” he says.

Fast-forward to today and Spieler now sits on Metro’s board of directors. An engineer at Morris who also lectures at Rice, Spielerplayed an instrumental role in developing Metro’s Reimagining plan—a dazzling redesign of the entire bus system that stresses all-day frequency and smart connections. But he couldn’t have done it without his experience on Metro as a guide, which makes him Exhibit A for why the people planning America’s transit systems, from board members to senior management to project designers, should be riders themselves.

“There are way too many people working on transit who don’t actually ride transit,” he says. “If you’re going to be making decisions about transit, you really need to know what it’s actually like. Not what it’s like in theory, but what it’s actually like. “

The problem is familiar to transit leadership across the country. In August, aSan Francisco Examiner op-ed challenged the people who run Muni to “actually ride Muni.” Last year, an analysis of Chicago’s CTA found that the board chair rode the system only 18 times in 2012, and a Washington Post survey found many D.C. Metro board members either couldn’t or wouldn’t “name the exact bus lines or rail stops they used regularly.” In 2008, the vice chair of New York’s MTA board famously asked: “Why should I ride and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car?”

I wonder how many directors and senior staff of Auckland Transport regularly use public transport?


Swedish housing controls

September 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Quartz reports:

Due to Stockholm’s infamously strict housing market, its citizens are having an incredibly hard time finding an apartment.

There are two main factors underlying this phenomenon. First, the city wait list for a new apartment is now 15 years on average, or 7.7 years in the Greater Stockholm region.

This is what happens when you have rent controls. No new supply.

n the last 10 years, 35,000 rental properties have been converted to condos with the result that the black market for getting a rental property is $29,000 per room. To be clear, that means paying someone $29,000 just for the right to rent that room.

So maybe all those strict housing controls are not such a great idea.

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Monday Motivator – Rarotongan Dream

September 15th, 2014 at 12:13 pm by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 33

Rarotongan Dream, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

A while ago I decided to start taking more vertical panoramic’s as there have been some requests for certain wall spaces etc. So with that in the back of my mind I was thrilled to stumble on this lone palm tree with the pristine clear water while in Rarotonga.

Still uploading to the site so no larger view of it this week.


Richard [richardhume.com]

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey


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The Australian National Terrorism Public Alert System

September 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Australia has four levels of alerts. They are:

  • low—terrorist attack is not expected
  • medium—terrorist attack could occur
  • high—terrorist attack is likely
  • extreme—terrorist attack is imminent or has occurred.

The alert level was changed last week to high for the first time since it started in 2003. The level is set on the recommendation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. It would not be set to high on a whim.

Some people think we live in a country with no security threats. They are wrong. The fact New Zealand citizens have been fighting alongside radical extremists in Syria is a deep cause for concern.

Also a reader e-mails:

There’s a lot of complaining going on about GCSB at the moment on the eve on the Internet Party function tonight.

My daughter is 7yo and attends a Jewish school in Melbourne.  As you may know, the Australian Terror threat index was increased to High last week.  This is due, in part, to intelligence gathering.  As such, our children and teachers are put through lockdown simulations in case there is an attack such as we have seen in France and Belgium.

I am totally comfortable, if not glad, that NZ is subscribing to an international task force that can alert and prevent such atrocities.  There is no easy answer.

My view on GCSB powers are the same as during the GCSB Bill, which is that we should have two separate entities – one for communications interceptions and foreign intelligence gathering – and another entity for cyber-security. They are both legitimate functions of government, but having both functions in the one entity does mean that there can be a concern that powers for one function (cyber-security) could be used for another (communications interception) so a rational reform would be to split GCSB into two entities.


The Press on the Dotcom sideshow

September 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

The much-promised announcement being staged by Kim Dotcom today must be one of the most ballyhooed in New Zealand political history. It is also one of the oddest.

It has been designed for maximum theatrics by a man who, ever since his arrival in this country, has shown he is well-versed in the dark arts of public relations and knows how to manipulate public opinion to his own advantage.

Coming just five days before most voting in the general election will take place, the timing is cynical. It is clear from Kim Dotcom’s signalling of the event more than six months ago that any information he has could have been released at any time since at least the beginning of this year, if not earlier. If today’s information does turn out to be anything of substance, and not just a damp squib, releasing it now leaves little time for effective rebuttal. Today’s exercise could be seen as a blatant attempt by two foreigners – a German millionaire and an American journalist – to influence the outcome of the election.

As The Press says, this info could have been released at any time, allowing time for scrutiny and rebuttal. This is all about increasing the party vote for Dotcom’s pet party, so they will have more influence in the next Parliament.

According to what Greenwald has already said in interviews, the Government Communications and Security Bureau has engaged in mass electronic surveillance of New Zealanders. That would be contrary to the law and, more crucially, contrary to assurances given by Key. Greenwald’s credentials derive from stories he has written, many based on material given to him by the fugitive American National Security Agency worker now living in Russia, revealing questionable surveillance by the NSA and other western electronic intelligence agencies.

New Zealand is connected to those agencies by the so-called Five Eyes agreement. That agreement was established just after World War II and has been maintained by all governments since, presumably because of its value. Difficult as it may be to prove a negative, the Prime Minister has promised to declassify documents about the GCSB that will show conclusively that any allegations Greenwald makes of GCSB wrongdoing are false. Voters will have to judge for themselves as well as they can.

People who believe John Key is lying, also have to believe Helen Clark was lying – along with successive GCSB Directors, Inspector-Generals of Intelligence & Security, and probably half the GCSB staff.

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Issues that matter – education

September 15th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Another series of graphs for those who think the election should be focused on policy. All data is from data.govt.nz and compiled by me.

I thought we should look at all four sectors from pre-school to tertiary.


The proportion of new school entrants who did not have early childhood education has halved from 6.4% to 3.1%.



And where have the greatest gains been made? The ECE non participation rate for decile 1 school students was 19.2% in 2010 and has dropped to 12.5%. That is what makes a difference to equality of opportunity.

The Maori non participation rate has dropped from 10.7% to 7.1% ad for Pasifika from 14.1% to 9.7%. Real gains there.

nat standards


In just two years, there have been significant increases in the number of primary students making the national standards for reading, maths and writing. National standards have allowed schools to better identify which students are struggling, allow the Government to give more assistance to schools that are struggling, and given parents much clearer information on how their kids are doing.



If someone leaves school without at least NCEA Level 2, their future employment and income prospects are bleak. National has lifted the achievement rate from 68% to 79%. The gain is even greater for Maori and Pasfika students. The Maori achievement rate is up from 45% to 63% and Pasifika from 51% to 71%. Not bad for just five years.

Maori tert


Then at tertiary level, we have almost 50% more Maori gaining a tertiary qualification than in 2008. Again this is how you reduce inequality – rather than increasing taxes.



And in case you think not enough people are graduating at the top end, the number of doctorates granted has increased from around 800 to 1,100.



And possibly the most important tertiary indicator – the completion rates. This has gone up from 75.6% in 2008 to 82.95 in 2014. The tertiary system is now better incentivised for people to actually complete their degrees and diplomas.

All these improvements despite inheriting an economy rocked by the Global Financial Crisis, and serious funding constraints.



September 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National’s Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce said in May that the VSR wouldn’t be very effective. His rough calculations showed KiwiSaver contribution rates would have to rise six percentage points – say from 9 to 15 per cent – to have the same effect as a one percentage point rise in the OCR. …

However, Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker says he estimates that KiwiSaver contributions would have to rise just two percentage points to equal a one percentage point rise in the OCR.

This comes close to an outright lie by Parker.

A change to the KiwiSaver contribution rate will impact around $600 million a year. By contrast the OCR affects around $330 billion of lending. There is not an economist alive I reckon who would agree with Parker.

Again I remind people Labour deliberately declined the offer of a Treasury secondee who could professionally assess stuff like this.

Here’s what the Westpac Bank Chief Economist said:

However, we suspect that the VSR would not be particularly powerful. Our back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that a one percentage-point hike in the VSR would reduce household consumption by just 0.2% of GDP. And in terms of the impact on inflation, a one percentage-point hike in the VSR would be equivalent to an OCR hike of between 10bp and 15bp.

David Parker is claiming an impact three to five times greater than Westpac has calculated. This is not a minor difference. This is a 300% to 500% difference. And this is not a complex calculation. The amount of money paid into KiwiSaver and generally on loan from banks is a known quantity.

I do not believe Parker’s figures are made in good faith. I bet you he can not produce a shred of a calculation to back them up. It is a con.

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General Debate 15 September 2014

September 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel