Saving Hillary’s Hut

August 24th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It played a key role in one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s greatest pioneering adventures, one which elevated him alongside the great Antarctic explorers of Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott.

Hillary’s Hut – the first building at Scott Base – was the launching pad for the famous Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1957-58.

The coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica, using the now legendary Ferguson TE-20 tractors, was the first overland expedition to reach the Pole since Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated voyage in 1912.

But over the last 60 years, the hut – one of Antarctica’s most precious heritage sites – has slowly fallen into a state of disrepair.

It has a leaking roof, asbestos that needs removing, melt-pools forming under its floorboards, while unique and historically-important memorabilia inside it are showing signs of damage or corrosion.

Today, the Antarctic Heritage Trust has launched a major fundraising drive to help raise $1 million Sir Ed’s Hut which would maintain it for the next 25 years.

I was lucky enough to visit Hillary’s Hut in January. It is a huge part of history and would be awful to see it fade away.

It has revealed ‘Expedition South’, a month-long journey from one of Sir Ed’s favourite places, Piha Beach where he had a bach for many years, to Aoraki Mount Cook, finishing in sight of the Hillary Ridge.

They will travel the same distance of 2012kms that Hillary and his team did on three
tractors – two of them similar Ferguson TE-20 model tractors that Sir Ed and his
team had, the other a new Massey Ferguson MF5600.

Along the way, the Expedition South team will be stopping at various schools, events, and Hillary hot spots to collect donations from the public.

“We are calling on Kiwis to give a fiver,” Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson said.

“The $5 note has Sir Ed’s face on it so we can’t think of a better use for it than saving his Antarctic legacy.”

I’ll definitely be donating.

Hope the kid is okay

August 24th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Auckland Council candidate’s campaign launch has been violently interrupted by a sword-wielding man.

Ngapuhi leader David Rankin, who is standing in the Waitakere Ward, was joined by former National and ACT party leader Don Brash for the launch on Great North Rd in Glendene on Monday afternoon.

During a media interview with TVNZ a man pulled up in a car with a young child in the passenger seat.

Brash, who was there to support Rankin, said on Tuesday morning that the “enormous” man was clearly agitated and jumped out of the car holding a sword at least a metre long.

“It looked like a ceremonial sword but it looked like it could do some serious damage if used with appropriate force.”

He believed the man had randomly happened across the interview, rather than arrived to interrupt it on purpose.

Most of those present quickly left the scene but Rankin attempted to calm the man, Brash said.

“I think we were all a bit dismayed by the spectacle.”

Brash said police were called and he left the scene shortly afterward.

Rankin said his main concern was for the young boy in the car and he believed the man to be under the influence of drugs.

“He was ranting and threatening us with his sword.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed they had received a call about the man, aged 42, “yelling and waving” a sword about 1.30pm.

When they arrived the man was gone but his car was later located in Kelston.

A low-speed chase ensued and police drove alongside the man, who still had his child in the car, pleading for him to stop.

Police managed to block the vehicle in on Victor St in Avondale and detained the man for treatment under the care of health authorities.

The child was unharmed.

Good that the kid is unharmed but the man involved obviously has some serious issues and I doubt should be in charge of a kid for any period of time.

$43 million from Citizen Yan

August 24th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One of New Zealand’s most controversial citizens will forfeit nearly $43 million to the police following a money-laundering inquiry.

The Herald this morning revealed William Yan – also known as Bill Liu, Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan – struck a deal as the final settlement in a civil case two years after the police raided his Metropolis penthouse.

Most of the settlement is secret but the police have now issued a press release with some of the key details.

“In accordance with the settlement, the High Court has made assets forfeiture orders in respect of property to the total value of $42.85 million.

“This is the single largest forfeiture that has occurred in New Zealand to date and is the first that relates to crimes alleged to have occurred in China.

“The activity underlying the forfeiture orders is alleged money laundering.”

“This settlement is a full and final settlement of the proceedings under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act without any admission of criminal or civil liability.”

Heh, there may not be an admission but you don’t get up $43 million unless they have you by the short and curlies.

The $43m settlement is the latest twist in a saga dating back to 2001 when Yan arrived in New Zealand.

He first made headlines for his links to the previous Labour government and the decision to give him a New Zealand passport, despite having multiple identities and an Interpol alert against his name.

Former Labour Minister Shane Jones overruled the advice of DIA officials, who said Yan did not meet the good character test for citizenship, following lobbying from Dover Samuels, a Labour MP at the time.

By coincidence he was a donor to various Labour Party MPs.

Should someone get parole early so they can be deported?

August 24th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A South African psychiatrist who poisoned his wife is unwell and unable to be deported, his lawyer says.

Colin Bouwer appeared via video link before the New Zealand Parole Board from Rolleston Prison, near Christchurch, on Tuesday.

Bouwer, who has served his non-parole period of 15 years after being convicted in 2001 of murdering his wife, has been served with a deportation order by Immigration New Zealand.

“He will be deported at the end of his sentence,” a spokesman said.

However his Dunedin-based lawyer, David More, said his client was unwell and could not return to South Africa. Release was not sought at Tuesday’s parole hearing for that reason, he said.

This is an interesting case. Most prisoners want to get parole but here Bouwer it seems would rather be in prison in NZ than living free in South Africa.

If he had a fixed term sentence, then he would be released eventually even if he never gets parole. But as he has a life sentence, should we continue to pay the bill to imprison him, when we could deport him?

Can you give someone parole against their wishes?

I tend to think he should be released and deported.

Speaking on behalf of everyone

August 24th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Robyn Hunt writes at The Spinoff:

I assure David Seymour that assisted suicide is a really big and complicated deal. It is no coincidence that disabled people all over the world oppose it.

Really? Every single one?

Disabled people see assisted suicide as dangerous because of their already marginalised status.

I congratulate the disabled people of the world for having elected Robyn Hunt to speak on their behalf.

There is one small problem.

They didn’t.

A 2015 poll by Populus found higher support for assisted dying or euthanasia laws amongst disabled people, than those without disabilities. The level of support was:

  • Have a disability: 86%
  • No disability or longstanding physical or mental condition: 81%
  • longstanding physical condition 86%
  • longstanding mental condition 89%

It is quite appropriate to raise issues of concern over any proposed law. It is not appropriate to claim to speak for an entire group of people, when you don’t and in fact your view is very much in the minority of that community.

Little on bugging

August 24th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Prime Minister has weighed in on the All Blacks bugging debacle – and come under fire from the opposition in the process.

When John Key was drawn into the speculation of how the listening device could have made its way into the rugby team quarters – or who could have done it – he revealed that he himself had been a victim of bugging.

In fact, the Prime Minister said he was under the expectation he was being recorded in some instances.

But these revelations didn’t move Labour leader Andrew Little – who doubted the Prime Minister had ever been bugged in New Zealand. …

“I have to say I doubt very much whether he’s been bugged certainly internally in New Zealand. What happens overseas, particularly visiting foreign countries, who would know? But it’s typical John Key – say something outlandish that who knows whether it’s true or not and see what happens. And that’s what he’s done on this occasion.

“I don’t trust him when he says he’s been bugged in New Zealand.

Little again thinks calling the PM a liar is a good political strategy. How has that worked for the last ten years?

Also depending on your definition of bugging there was the secret recording of Key and Banks in 2011 and also in 2008 (off memory) the left activists who secretly recorded National MPs at a function.

Apart from those events already in the public domain, it is now routine for some National MPs and officials to have their offices checked for listening devices, and you don’t do that (which costs a bit of money) for no reason.

As some people think hacking e-mails is a legitimate political activity, why would they stop there and not also try to bug political opponents? My first reaction after the last Hager book was to find out how I could check if my apartment and office were bugged. In the end I concluded a human spy was put into my office, rather than an electronic one. So reassuring.

General Debate 24 August 2016

August 24th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Gary Johnson almost second with under 30s

August 24th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Five Thirty Eight averages the polls for voters under 30 and finds low support for both Clinton and Trump.

  1. Clinton 41%
  2. Trump 20%
  3. Johnson 17%
  4. Stein 10%

If over 30s supported Johnson to the same degree, he would make the presidential debates.

Prime TV’s “Back Benches”: 24 August 2016–Wellington Mayoral Debate

August 23rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

From Backbenches:

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”—WELLINGTON MAYORAL DEBATE: Watch Wallace Chapman, Hayley Holt, the Back Benches Panel and special guests fight for your vote!

BUSES, TRAINS, BIKES AND AUTOMOBILES:  Worse than London, Los Angeles and Istanbul –

Wellington’s morning traffic is getting worse and at a rate faster than Auckland. What’s the solution? Is it more public transport? Is it better cycleways? Is it finally installing the basin flyover? Do we have the infrastructure to handle our population? Is it expected to keep up with demand?

BANNING BEGGARS?: Wellington is the most generous city to beggars in the nation, so it is no wonder the numbers of those begging on the street has increased. But is banning the practice the solution? Is the solution about finding those on the street employment or a roof over their heads or is it more complex than that?

COOLEST LITTLE CAPITAL IN THE WORLD?:  Wellington claims it is the coolest little capital in the world. But can it make that claim? What makes it cool? What’s the best part about Wellington? When someone visits from out of town—where’s the one place you’d recommend? Is Wellington a destination spot? Would extending the runway make it more enticing to tourists? A study says Wellington isn’t a magnet for tourists. How can we change that perception?

There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:

First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 24th of August at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:20pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!  

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Our Panel: Jo Coughlan, Andy Foster, Nick Leggett, Justin Lester, Helene Ritchie and Nicola Young.

Simmons on an FTT

August 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Geoff Simmons of the Morgan Foundation writes on an FTT:

Some are convinced New Zealand would be better off. They think that bankers and traders are getting more than their fair share of benefit out of the globalised economy, that speculation is excessive, this is contributing to the greater volatility and uncertainty in markets so Kiwis are worse off. Given the billions that pass through the financial sector every day, the idea is that clipping the ticket on each transaction would raise a lot of money and reduce both speculation and volatility in financial markets.

However, not all transactions are bad – when you get paid, for example, or make a payment on your mortgage. Or send money overseas to pay for your upcoming holiday. Would you mind someone clipping the ticket on all of those? Of course, you can specify what kinds of transactions you want to target with a tax, such as house sales (via a stamp duty) or share trades or foreign currency deals. But ordinary people still engage in all of those, at the very least through KiwiSaver.

Sure, some transactions are purely speculative, but an FTT won’t just stop those. It is a sledgehammer and would not discriminate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ financial transactions.

So an FTT would be very blunt.

Research has found that (unsurprisingly) people respond to FTTs such as stamp duty by reducing the number of taxed transactions made. In other words, house sales drop. This doesn’t alter the intent of transactions, simply the number. Stamp duty hasn’t prevented speculation on housing, nor reduced volatility in the market. Quite the contrary, having fewer transactions can increase the volatility in the market. Fewer transactions can also have their costs in terms of the efficiency of the economy. Stamp duty, for example, makes it more likely for an elderly person to hold on to a home that is too large for them, and therefore makes it more difficult for families to find the houses they need.

The larger you are the easier it would be to avoid. For example huge financial services companies would simply run credit and debit balances with each other and maybe only physically transfer cash once a year for the net amount.

The experience of Sweden’s FTT has been interesting. When it was introduced, revenue was far lower than predicted because of changes in the number of financial transactions. In fact, the lower number of transactions reduced revenue from Sweden’s capital gains tax, so the government ended up with less revenue overall.

New taxes often have unforeseen consequences. The Mexico sugar tax was meant to reduce sales of soda drinks but the tax is bringing in more money than forecast, which means sales have not decreased.

In short, the FTT appeals mainly to those who seek to get at “wicked bankers and evil speculators” but it’s pretty naive. It is unlikely to raise a lot of money unless there is a global agreement; otherwise it would leak like a sieve, penalise quite innocent and necessary trade, impede economic activity unnecessarily – all features of a bad tax. In the meantime, taxes like the comprehensive capital income tax (CCIT) seem to have much more potential to raise serious revenue and benefit the economy by closing existing tax loopholes.

I don’t think an FTT would be good. As Simmons says, it won’t work unless other countries do it also – and even then possibly not.

I do support a comprehensive capital gains tax (on everything including the family home) but it should only apply when gains are realised. The CCIT would apply even if no gains are realised or even if you make a loss as it assumes a minimum 5% return. That’s more a wealth tax than a capital gains tax.

A good return on investment

August 23rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Destiny Church co-leader Hannah Tamaki has treated herself to a second Mercedes-Benz in seven months.

The wife of controversial, self-appointed Destiny leader Brian Tamaki has this time splashed out on a brand new Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 450 Coupe.

The car has a normal retail price of $153,500.

The Tamakis are obviously shrewd investors. Their decision to invest in the religion market is paying off well, and good on them.

I imagine like all good business people, they looked at what marker would provide the best return on investment. It was probably something like:

  • Residential real estate 10% per annum
  • Commercial real estate 9% per annum
  • Car sales 14% per annum
  • Amway 6% per annum
  • Religion 35% per annum

Deciding to finance their retirement through setting up a religion obviously had the highest potential returns. The risks are greater, but once you cover the capital costs you have perpetual tithe income.

Minto wants employers to be able to cut salaries unilaterally

August 23rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“So how do you pay for that? We would pay for it by reducing the salaries at the top management level in the council,” Minto said.

There were 317 people being paid more than $100,000 at council, along with 13 receiving more than $200,000, he said.

“What we’re saying is the maximum should be $160,000, which is four times the living wage.

“If I won the mayoral race the very first thing would be I would suffer a reduction in salary from $187,000 to a mere $160,000,” Minto said, adding the chief executive would receive the same pay.

So Minto thinks employers should be able to break employment contracts and unilaterally cut the pay of employees.

I wonder what his mates at Unite think of that concept.

Does NZ have the best designed Government in the world?

August 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Dylan Matthews at Vox argues NZ has the best designed Government in the world. He cites three things which are crucial:

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House. He argues Upper Houses tend to be useless and undemocratic.
  3. NZ’s Constitutional Monarchy which provides a Head of State with no legitimacy to interfere in domestic politics

I’d don’t agree with all his arguments but he makes a good case. I’d add a 4th. No state parliaments. No disputes over what is the role of central government and state governments, and no duplication of multiple police forces, education ministries etc.

No tag for this post.

Corbyn called for NATO to be closed

August 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reported:

Jeremy Corbyn has called for Nato to be “closed down”, it emerged today as defence chiefs warned his comments about the organisation are “weakening western civilisation”. 

In footage uncovered by the Telegraph the Labour leader said the military alliance was an “engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies” and called for it to “give up, go home and go away.”

He’s like the left wing version of Trump. Both would be disasters if they ever became Prime Minister or President.

Mr Corbyn on Thursday was criticised after he refused to say whether he would defend a Nato ally if it were invaded by Russia.

There is only one correct answer to that. It is “Of course Article 5 says ‘that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all’ so we honour our word without fail.”

Article 5 has been invoked once only. On the 4th of October 2011 after the 9/11 attacks on the US.

In September 2014, Mr Corbyn was filmed declaring: “1990 should have been the time for Nato to shut up shop, give up, go home and go away. Why don’t we turn it around, and close down Nato?

“Nato is an engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies and the major nations of this world, make no illusions about that.”

Corbyn seems to be upset that NATO stopped the Soviet Union’s expansion.

Mr Rasmussen told the Telegraph: “I am very concerned about his unwillingness to say clearly that Nato of course will defend any ally if they are attacked. Solidarity within the defence alliance is Nato’s raison d’ĂȘtre.

In line with Mr Trump in the United States, Mr Corbyn now raises doubt about this commitment to defend friends and allies. Thus they are tempting President Putin to aggression and they are weakening Nato and the entire Western civilisation.”

Putin knows what weakness is. He would exploit it without mercy.

Lord Roberson, the former Labour defence secretary and Secretary General of Nato, said: “It beggars belief that the leader of the party most responsible for the collective security pact of Nato should be so reckless as to undermine it by refusing to say he would come to the aid of an ally.

“Even in its darkest, daftest days in the past the Labour Party stuck to its commitment to Nato and to the defence of any ally attacked.

“The public will be dismayed and disgusted by what appears to be an abdication of Britain’s responsibility in a dangerous world. “

If Corbyn is re-elected leader, sensible Labour MPs really need to set up their own party and abandon Labour to Corbyn.


Praise for Finlayson

August 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

But largely, in terms of parliamentary opposition, it is down to a triumph of process by the minister in charge of the GCSB and Security Intelligence Service, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

After the 2013 experience, it became clear that the Prime Minister needed to delegate legislative detail to someone else and future reforms needed to be collaborative.

Finlayson was born to the role.

The tributes flowing from other parties to him in Thursday’s first reading debate were incredible. He has clearly given parties a sense not just that they have been consulted but that their opinions matter.

He has deliberately left undecided the most important definition in the bill, “national security”, for the select committee to debate.

And he is sending it to a select committee of Parliament, not the statutory intelligence committee chaired by Key that heard submissions on the 2013 changes.

This is quite significant that it has gone to the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee rather than the Intelligence Committee which is National and Labour only. A sign of good faith. The FADT Committee also has Greens and NZ First on it.

Finlayson’s meticulous preparation for the bill goes well beyond the respectful treatment of other parties.

Seven Cabinet papers have been released, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has issued myriad fact sheets on the proposed changes.

In 2013, it was near impossible to get an official answer to my many questions about what various parts of the bill meant; this time there is information overload.

Which is good.

Meet the future NZ First Minister of Finance

August 23rd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

NZ First’s Clayton Mitchell stated:

A predator-free New Zealand by 2050 is likely to cost trillions, not millions as the government claims, says New Zealand First.

“The National government’s promise to make New Zealand predator-free for the bargain price of $28 million is nothing but greenwashing,” says Conservation Spokesperson Clayton Mitchell.

“Zealandia, a predator free plant and bird sanctuary in Wellington, cost $17 million to set up with an operating cost of $867,000.

“Using these figures as a yardstick, the cost of keeping the entire country predator free and maintaining it would see a capital expenditure cost of $1.67 trillion and an operating cost of $91 billion per annum – as New Zealand is 98,000 times larger than Zealandia.

“The operating cost alone would be 40% of New Zealand’s GDP.

This may be the stupidest release put out by NZ First since they complained about the Reserve Bank being owned by foreigners.

They really are the Donald Trump party. Their level of stupidity has hit a new low.

Quote of the week

August 23rd, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Wealth – any income that is at least one hundred dollars more a year than the income of one’s wife’s sister’s husband.”

– H. L. Mencken

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

General Debate 23 August 2016

August 23rd, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Māori King rejects Labour

August 23rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Mihi Forbes at Radio NZ reports:

The riverside at Tƫrangawaewae marae was abuzz this afternoon as nearly 1000 people gathered to hear the Māori King, Kiingi Tuheitia, deliver his annual speech.

Celebrations have been going on for several days at the marae in Ngāruawāhia for the tenth anniversary of his coronation, which is today.

However, what caught the crowd’s attention was the unscripted closer, where he told those gathered that he would not be voting for Labour again.

He said he had changed his mind about the party after its leadership said it would not work with the Māori Party.

The Labour Party keeps trying to destroy the Maori Party, rather than work with them.

In another story they report:

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox was in the crowd and saw the speech as the king’s nod of approval.

“It was as close as I think an endorsement was going to be and I appreciate his words.”

So how did Nanaia Mahuta take the king’s comments? “If that’s the intention of the Māori Party certainly under Tuku’s presidency then that could be a very different landscape.”

Māori Party chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan has been in the role for less than a month and is on record as pledging to win all the Māori seats at the 2017 election including Hauraki Waikato.

“It’s as I said, it’s a momentous occasion it’s not often that the King would make that kind of announcement here in front of the motu.”

Waikato has had a long relationship with the Labour Party and Ms Mahuta has held the seat for 17 years, but that relationship is well and truly severed with the king saying he’d no longer vote for Labour.

Maori politics is getting more interesting.

More Winston inventions

August 22nd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Hundreds of would-be bus drivers could be granted visas to work in New Zealand, Winston Peters claims.

The NZ First leader said bus company Go Bus was “considering employing 200 drivers from the Pacific.”

But …

Go Bus managing director Calum Haslop said his company had “talked to Immigration New Zealand about the prospect of bringing Pacific Islanders into the country and offering them jobs.”

However, he said that was unlikely because of the high number of applications from local jobseekers.

So only if they can not get locals would they look overseas. As it should be.

The company had only advertised locally, not overseas.

Again as it should be.

A spokeswoman for NZ First said “a lady who came in” told them about the company potentially hiring 200 people from Samoa.

“The lady told us and I believe her,” she said.

The spokeswoman said “the lady” likely found out about the bus drivers thanks to “word of mouth”.

This is what NZ First regard as credible. A lady came in and told us, as she heard about it word of mouth.

It would almost be a joke if not so serious.

But NZ First did not have a copy of an advertisement to prove it had been run offshore. 

Evidence? What’s that.

No Clinton press conference in 257 days

August 22nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes:

Donald Trump said lots (and lots) of things during an hour-long town hall meeting with Fox News’s Sean Hannity. This one – Trump talking about Hillary Clinton – stood out to me:

“She is so protected. They are so protecting her. She hasn’t had a news conference in, like, 250 days.”

It couldn’t be that long since Clinton has talked to the press, I thought. So, I went to the handy-dandy tool that some guy named Philip Bump built to track how long it’s been since Clinton faced the press. And this is what I found: 257.9 days.

Trump and Clinton are such opposites.

He may do half a dozen interviews a day and Clinton hasn’t done a press conference in nine months.

Clinton is guarded to the point of paranoia.

Trump says what he thinks. Sadly what he thinks is generally pretty bad.

Almost 258 days! Trump undersold something!

Unheard of!

Jokes aside, it’s beyond ridiculous that one of the two people who will be elected president in 80 or so days continues to refuse to engage with the press in this way.

But she does sit-down interviews! And she did a “press conference” with a moderator, um, moderating the questions!

Not good enough. Not when you are running to be president of the United States. One of the most important things when someone is offering themselves up to represent all of us is that we get the best sense we can about how that person thinks on his or her feet, how they deal with unwanted or adversarial questions. Those two traits are big parts of doing the job of president in the modern world.

There’s nothing like a press conference to put a candidate for president through their paces. If you don’t believe me, just watch how Clinton handled a presser – not well! – when she tried to put the email server controversy to rest.

In NZ the Prime Minister does one formal press conference a week and often five to seven additional informal press standups.

Put all of that aside, and think of this: The last time Clinton held a press conference was December 5, 2015. That was before:

1. A single state had cast a vote in either a presidential primary or caucus
2. Major terrorist attacks in Nice, Brussels and Orlando
3. FBI Director James Comey issued his scathing report on Clinton’s email practices while at the State Department
4. The Bernie Sanders phenomenon
5. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was run out of the Democratic National Committee in the wake of a massive email hack/leak
6. This whole Ryan Lochte international gas station incident

The temperature in Washington on December 5, 2015, was 6 degrees Celsius. It’s 28 on Thursday. A woman who conceived on December 5, 2015, would be 8 1/2 months pregnant now. On December 5, 2015, the Golden State Warriors were NBA champs. On December 5, 2015, I was still in my 30s.

You get the idea. It’s been a long time. Lots of important things – Lochte and my 40th birthday being at the top of the list – have happened. Clinton is now the unquestioned favourite to be the 45th president of the United States – if you believe polling. The fact that she continues to avoid questions from the press is simply unacceptable given the office she is seeking and the stakes in this election.

She’ll probably now do one, and then that’s it until after the election!

The Happy Planet Index

August 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ is ranked 38th out of 140 on the Happy Planet Index.

The index is calculated by multiplying life expectancy by wellbeing by inequality of outcomes and divided by ecological footprint.

It is the relative ranks in each sub-area that I found interesting:

  • Life Expectancy 12th/140
  • Wellbeing 13th/140
  • Ecological Footprint 119/140
  • Inequality 12th/140

Being 12th best for equality of outcome is a good result. And very different to what you hear from the inequality lobby groups who would have you think we’re Rwanda.

A new public holiday

August 22nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The battle for a public holiday to commemorate the New Zealand Lands Wars has been won – now, all they need to do is set a date.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English made the announcement on Friday during the return of the Rangiriri battlesite to Maori at Turangawaewae.

The historic site was handed back at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Maori King Tuheitia’s reign.

I’ve looked for a press release confirming this, but can’t find one. I assume the reports are correct. It just seems unusual for such a significant announcement to have no release attached to it.

Work was underway to determine the day best suited for the celebrations.

“One of the things they are asking to consider is it does not clash with any particular battle site commemorations, so that it can be a clean and stand alone date and then people can have their commemorations on their dates free and clear of any hinderances,” Papa said.

June, September and October seemed to be “fairly clear”, he said, and “everyone would likely prefer a warmer month”.

A decision around the date was expected before the end of the year.

Creating a specific day to remember the land wars would lead to more people exploring what it meant.

I’m happy to have one of our public holidays to be to commemorate the NZ Land Wars. They are part of our history.

However I don’t think employers should have to fund an extra day’s holiday pay for it. So the new public holiday should replace an existing one to keep them at 14.

Both Queen’s Birthday and Labour Day are fairly meaningless to most NZers. I say replace one with Land War Day (or some better name) and the other with a New Zealand Day.

UPDATE: It appears the media reports were incorrect and a public holiday has not been announced. There will be a commemoration day but it will not necessarily be a public holiday.


The rarest Olympic medal of them all

August 22nd, 2016 at 12:44 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and US rival Abbey D’Agostino have each received the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal in recognition of their good sportsmanship in the heats of the 5000m at the Rio Olympics.

When Hamblin and D’Agostino clashed in the 5000m heats and fell to the ground, not many would have given them a second glance. After all, distance track running often involves these stumbles.

But what happened next became one of the iconic moments of the Rio Olympics, on par with Usain Bolt’s triple-triple and Michael Phelps’ triumphant conclusion to his enormous personal medal tally.

D’Agostino, quicker to her feet than Hamblin, helped get her off the turf, before she shuffled her way through 4 1/2 laps to finish the race, where Hamblin was waiting for her. D’Agostino had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament, traditionally a 12-month injury.

The two embraced at the finish line, where D’Agostino was wheeled out as she could no longer walk at all. Now, the International Olympic Committee has honoured the two runners by awarding them the Pierre de Coubertin medal. 

The medal, only awarded 17  times in Olympic history, is reserved for athletes, volunteers or officials who are deemed to have demonstrated the Olympic spirit.

What a great decision for two great people. Yay.

Sunday TV advertising

August 22nd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Television advertising should be allowed on some Sunday mornings, but only during “special events”, the Government has decided.

The proposal is a compromise on an issue that has divided television companies and church groups.

Broadcasters will be allowed to play adverts on Sunday mornings during “events of major significance” such as the Rugby World Cup, under a proposed law change that will also expand the role of the Broadcasting Standards Authority to cover online television services.

There is currently a blanket ban on commercials between 6am and noon on Sundays.

A step in the right direction. But why not just remove the ban entirely? What makes Sunday mornings so special that you can’t have adverts?

A television and radio ad-ban on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day morning will remain.

The theory behind the Sunday morning ad-ban has been that it encourages broadcasters to show “special interest” programming – such as religious programmes – without concern that they may be missing out on larger audiences that would be of interest to advertisers, to whom they would otherwise cater.  

The ban may have made sense when we had one TV channel. We now have dozens. There are niche regional broadcasters, special interest broadcasters etc. And all the special interest programming you can devour online.

I’d remove the ban not just on Sunday mornings but also on the four holidays.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes opposed lifting the Sunday morning ad-ban when the idea was first discussed a year ago, saying it was “important there is a little bit of peace and quiet in our hectic modern world”.

Well you can simply turn the TV off, if you want that.