Dear pilots, please don’t crash my flight because you got dumped

March 28th, 2015 at 10:32 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Two different pictures of Andreas Lubitz emerged yesterday.

First there was the Lubitz who never appeared anything but thrilled to have landed a pilot’s job with Germanwings, according to those who helped him learn to fly as a teenager in Montabaur, a town in the forested hills of western Germany.

Then there’s the troubled man who suffered from depression and was struggling to come to terms with a relationship break-up.

French prosecutors yesterday said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, “intentionally” crashed the jet into a mountain on Tuesday in the French Alps.

I’d really much rather that pilots didn’t deal with breakups by crashing fully laden planes into mountains.

But German newspaper Bild reported that Lubitz took a break from flight training and received psychiatric treatment for a year and a half. He was diagnosed with a “major depressive episode”. There were also reports he was recommended to be examined by a doctor before flying but passed all his psychological assessments and was later considered fit to fly.

Well that was a pretty bad call.

Lubitz had continued to receive mental health support up until this week’s crash, the Daily Mail reported.

You don’t want to say pilots in counselling should not fly, as it may then discourage them from counselling. But there does need to be a review of policies in this area.

So very sad for families and friends of all the dead. Some plane crashes are unavoidable accidents. This one was not. It was murder.

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No Auckland, no Team NZ funding

March 28th, 2015 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Team New Zealand’s future in the America’s Cup is in serious doubt after the Government confirmed the loss of the qualifying round in Auckland would mean zero funding.

Cup organisers told media this afternoon that Auckland would not be hosting a qualifying round after Team New Zealand opposed a move to smaller boat sizes yesterday.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told the Herald that without a presence in Auckland, there would be no money.

“We are interested in being involved as a sponsor as a much lower basis than last time, and on the basis there is a qualifying series in Auckland,” Mr Joyce said. “If that was to change then we could not be involved.”

 

Good.

Note there is a by-election on today so please refrain from comments that could breach electoral law – ie encouraging a vote for or against a candidate.

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General Debate 28 March 2015

March 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by David Farrar
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Prince Charles’ letters to be released

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

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron has admitted defeat after the government lost a 10-year battle with the Guardian to keep secret a “particularly frank” cache of lobbying letters written by Prince Charles.

Following a supreme court ruling on Thursday that 27 letters between the heir to the throne and ministers must finally be published under the Freedom of Information Act, the “deeply disappointed” prime minister has told aides to prepare their release.

The judges decided by five to two that the government had acted illegally when it vetoed the publication of Charles’s ministerial correspondence, the release of which had previously been approved by a lower court.

It will be the first time that any of Charles’s “black spider memos” have been made public through official channels, and their release is expected to reveal how the heir to the throne attempted to influence government policies in private correspondence.

The advantage of a monarchy is that it is meant to be a politically neutral institution. These letters will show beyond doubt that Prince Charles is not in any way politically neutral. I don’t want him to be New Zealand’s next Head of State.

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The BurnOuts at the Beeb (TopGear & Clarkson)

March 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

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I really likeTopGear, Jeremy Clarkson and James May (and the other good-looking one from The Monkeys). I watch it on rainy sunday afternoons, or with beer and dogs while Her WithinDoors is away and I have the man house to my rule-breaking self.

The three (plus The Stig) have a chemistry and a lad-ishness that gives me hope as a 50-something white flabby male. It’s either that, or take up Himalaya trekking and swimming. I’m not a petrol head, but once had a Jag (well, actually a Daimler Series ii , but everyone thinks it was an XJ6 and it’s made by Jag) and a 1939 Austin Minx (which I reminded everyone was born while Hitler was driving into Poland).

It was about the characters and the writing; May’s dry wit and Clarkson’s gorgeous turns of phrase. The three irresponsible petrol gurus take no prisoners, they are not beHOLDEN to corporate auto conglomerates who pay mega amounts to have their cars castigated and belittled. They are also passionate about driving, cars and on road awesomeness.

They’ve drawn millions like me, into a stupid car geek programme and made it thrilling, funny, entertaining, and made The Beeb millions (TopGear is their star programme). 12 seasons.

And so this debacle with Jeremy Clarkson, the tallest moai on this Easter Island, was like a very British spinster stoush unfolding on Coronation Street.  Auntie Beeb and that tart Mrs Clarkson going at each other with handbags and hair nets. The Mirror reported Clarkson had made an “expletive-laden rant at a charity event” against BBC exec.s earlier in the week, later qualified as “meant in jest.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/jeremy-clarkson-claims-joking-criticised-5379678

But May was right, it was initially a fairly small private meltdown that became way bigger than it should have which was a “tragedy.” See here.

James May has done a series of on camera reactions from the front door of his modest Council-style flat (ya gotta love those Brit celebrities and their humble ‘ostentation’).

So initially I played this as a case of Political Correctness gone mad.  Yes, there was the off camera ‘N’ bomb (which you can hear endlessly by any Black comedian and Rap artist over and over again, including in films) and the “slope” comment, which was obliquely racist but a really funny pun in the context of the sloping bridge. (Let’s be honest, EVERYONE does that behind closed doors; all human groups nick-name other groups).

But the Beeb – as May said on the clip – probably had their hands tied. It was not really about blokey Blokiness standing up to oppressive Stalinesque modernism that is hand wringing political correctness.  No, it seems Jeremy is suffering from MANopause and went too far.  As May says, “He’s a Nob.”  The Sydney Morning Herald  said he was a victim of his own behaviour. Brilliance and hubris; like that myth that all artists are manic depressives, their genius stalked by a converse.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/67509500/top-gears-jeremy-clarkson-a-victim-of-his-own-behaviour

But you have to give The BBC credit, they’ve handled this pretty well.  Sure, it got away from them, but like a honed working-class British greyhound, they hauled in that runaway fluffy bunny and mouthed it several times. Tony Hall conducted a thorough investigation, and spoke to both parties about the incident.  It was reported Clarkson had turned up at the producer’s house to make an apology,  but was cold-shouldered.

Seems to me Clarkson was a bullying oaf; a 20 minute tirade of abuse against an innocent victim based on perceived elevated celebrity status and not getting special treatment (prima donna stuff) and then some sort of ‘handbagging’ incident.  Various reports about a punch or not.  Probably just some middle-aged man shuffling.

Reading Halls’ explanation (in full here below) you have to accept The Beebs position and actions. Clarkson is brilliant, loved by millions for his irreverence (note his Twitter count) and Britishcock a snoop, but was a bully and lost control.  Tony Hall initially stepped in to delay an immediate sacking. Pproducer Oisin Tymon (opposite) was attacked and endured a sustained superiority tirade, in a work context. Unacceptable. Bullying is bullying, and no one should have to endure that, especially at work.

“First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.

“Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.

“Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.

“The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw [Controller of BBC Two] to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.”

Right result.  Oisin Tymon will stay on, Clarkson has gone for unacceptable behaviour after a final written warning.

What next?  Well, channels will be falling over one another to hire Clarkson for mega gazillions. Netflix is already a rumoured suitor. A successful rival may buy-up James May, Richard Hammond lock stock and barrel and parallel a similar show, or something new. The fans will slide and wheel burn over, and it will make the new company tonnes of money. But they’ll have to pay high, as Hammond and May also have other BBC shows they are involved with.

And I suspect Hammond and May without Clarkson will not work, like The Two Ronnieswithout sexual innuendo. But I hope they all work together to complete a successful 2015 series, perhaps with a funny focus on Clarkson’s departure. That would have class.

I like Clarkson, we need brigands like him, irreverent, Churchillian bulwarks against namby pamby, metrosexual hand-creamy politically correct 1984-ness. They give us hope. Clarkson is a kind of Beowulf epic hero, clad in furs with a dripping metaphoric battle axe of wit, double entendres and scathing put-downs.

So, Clarkson has been bumped on a pedestrian crossing and rushed to ER, where he’ll revive, arise as an anti-Beeb phoenix albeit somewhat shattered on a fast ferrari windscreen, and get paid even more. And as admirer Tony Hall director general  of the BBC admits, “continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.”  Like a revered but slightly naughty vintage classic that leaves too much oil on your driveway.

This was a very British debacle. The issues were all traversed through the tabloids, no one got too hand-wringy, the issues got put, there was perspective, and values, and a hard call (worth several gazillion to the BBC) taken in the interests of fairness, equal treatment. We got an actual outcome (Clarkson got sacked) , the victim was reassured and cemented in his employment (as the innocent in all this, he was). Clarkson was cut adrift with respect and acknowledgement today to slew new speedways, but without covering up or failing to acknowledge his offending Nob-ishness.

We await the next lap with petrol-heady expectation.

~ John Stringer

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Nasty threats

March 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A “lonely man” who pretended to be a radical terrorist in emails to Members of Parliament where he threatened to put their heads on poles and pump them “full of bullets” has today been jailed for 11 months.

Steven Shane Lawrence, 50, sat in his Christchurch flat and seethed against the New Zealand government.

The loner was angry at a “Zionist” government he perceived to be in bed with America.

He sounds like he is an aspiring candidate for Rangitata!

So, over a seven-day period in January, Lawrence sent a string of extremely graphic and abusive emails to several MPs.

One victim received a threat that he would be pumped full of bullets and that Lawrence would rejoice in his bloody death.

Another victim was threatened that she would “burn eternally in hell” and that her entrails would be spread across the streets.

Others were threatened with having their decapitated heads put on poles, while another was told her throat would be slit.

That’s vile and appalling. I pity the poor staff and MPs who had to read such stuff.

On his arrest, Lawrence told police he had strong political ideologies.

He said he had wanted to warn, not threaten, the victims about being involved in a government that was associated with America.

Yeah, sure.

Today, Christchurch District Court heard that the victims had feared for the safety of their families after the explicit threats.

Defence counsel Lee Lee Heah said Lawrence was apologetic, and that he “simply did not realise” the impact it would have on the victims.

He was “very very drunk at the time”, she said, and had no intent or means to carry out the threats.

He was drunk for an entire week?

He considered the threats to have a high level of seriousness and jailed Lawrence for 11 months.

Good.

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Death by pilot

March 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A young German co-pilot locked himself alone in the cockpit of a Germanwings airliner and flew it into a mountain with what appears to have been the intent to destroy it, a French prosecutor says.

The 28-year-old German co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 has been identified as Andreas Lubitz.

However, prosecutors are currently not calling the crash a terrorist act, nor a suicide.

The co-pilot repeatedly turned a dial to override the plane’s autopilot, sending it in a steep descent into the Alps, after the plane’s captain had left the cockpit to go to the toilet.

If correct, this is one of the worse acts of mass murder we have seen.

I thought after MH370 the protocol was that another crew member must enter the cockpit if a pilot wishes to leave – so that there is never a sole person in there?

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$60 million saved in welfare fraud

March 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jo Goodhew announced:

Associate Minister for Social Development Jo Goodhew has welcomed news that since benefit fraud reform initiatives began two years ago, up to $60 million of taxpayers’ money has been saved.

“Over the past two and a half years around 9,500 benefits have been cancelled after fraudulent and illegitimate payments were discovered. These changes hold people to account for their actions, and make it difficult to defraud the welfare system,” Mrs Goodhew says.

A vast majority of the fraud has been identified through increased information sharing with Inland Revenue. This allows MSD to quickly identify if a client has under-declared their income – which can affect benefit payments.

An excellent use of data sharing.

Another one of the key initiatives is stricter monitoring of low-trust clients where they have previously committed fraud.

Also sensible.

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Let Russell become an Aussie!

March 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Crowe, 50, was born in Welington, but his family moved to Australia in 1968 when he was four. He first raised the issue in 2013, claiming that “apparently I fall between the cracks”.

Those cracks are a section of immigration law that demand that he must have been resident in Australia on February 26, 2001 (he wasn’t) or have spent 12 months here in the preceding two years (due to filming and promotional commitments for Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, he hadn’t). 

I call on all patriotic NZers to support Russell in his quest to become an Aussie, even if it needs a law change.

However, the Department of Immigration has told Fairfax it has no record of either Mr Crowe’s applications or its alleged rejections.

“According to Departmental records, Mr Crowe has not submitted an application for a permanent visa or for Australian citizenship,” the department said in a written response to questions.

“Should Mr Crowe apply for and be granted a permanent visa, there are a variety of options that he may use to meet the eligibility requirements, including the residence requirements.” 

It would help if he actually applied, but again I think he deserves a special dispensation to be made Australian, even without an application.

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General Debate 27 March 2015

March 27th, 2015 at 10:23 am by David Farrar
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Tougher sanctions for bad employers

March 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Government has announced some changes to employment law, to deal with the small number of bad or abusive employers. They are:

  • A 500% increase in maximum penalties to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for companies
  • Public naming of employers who breach minimum standards
  • The ability to ban an individual from being an employer if they are consistently in breach of the law

These are targeted at the worse repeat offenders, and show a nice balanced approach to the law.

 

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Australia needs a three strikes law

March 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of Victoria’s most notorious criminals – the man who brutally raped and murdered Jill Meagher in 2012 – has been found guilty of raping three other women after being released on parole for a string of other heinous crimes.

He was on parole?

Two of the victims, a Dutch backpacker and a St Kilda sex worker, were raped just months before Bayley raped and murdered Meagher. At the time he was out on parole after serving time for a string of sex worker rapes in 2000.

Bayley now has more than 20 convictions for rape.

Incredible. No one should ever get the chance for more than three convictions. He did at least 10 rapes over 12 years.

Now in NZ a third rape would get 20 years with no parole, or preventive detention.

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IGIS to look into pacific spying complaints

March 27th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has announced:

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, will commence an inquiry into complaints over alleged interception of communications of New Zealanders working or travelling in the South Pacific by the Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB).

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.

“I will be addressing the specific complaints that I have received, in accordance with the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996. But there is also a clear need to provide as much factual information to the complainants, and to the wider public, as is possible.”

“For that reason, I have decided not only to investigate the complaints but also to bring forward and expand the relevant parts of my ongoing programme of review and audit of GCSB procedures and compliance systems. That review programme operates at a systemic level and doesn’t, of course, scrutinise or second-guess every day-to-day aspect of the GCSB’s operations: what it does allow for, as in this instance, is a focussed review of a particular area of GCSB or New Zealand Security Intelligence Service practice.”

This is a very good thing. The key thing when it comes to issues of security and intelligence is to have independent oversight and a system of checks and balances. The decision to investigate is important to verify that any activities have been legal.

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Rakiura Track Day 3

March 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

RAK0030

Off just after 8 am for an 11 km hike out to the end of the track. We started with a bit of a climb.

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Lovely views of the ocean and hills in the mist.

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Another stream to cross.

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And just great views down by the water.

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We were so lucky with the weather. Was around 17 degrees and sunny.

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You stay close to the water for around two thirds of the final day.

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Good old NZ native bush.

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The final section of the track.

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And we’re out. It’s then a 2 km walk to Oban, but we were lucky that we got picked up on the way.

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hanging up in the property next to the end of the track.

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We had around three hours to spare Sunday afternoon so went to the South Sea Hotel for oysters, drinks and lunch. Then we flew out, and you can see Oban below us.

A really enjoyable three day hike. The easiest of the great walks to date. Was genuinely surprised by the beaches and beautiful bays. Definitely worth doing.

 

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The 10 best UK attack ads

March 26th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Sun has the 10 best UK attack ads in their political history.

1.-Tory-653x341

This is from the current campaign and is very good.

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Teacher aides not sacked for drug dealing at school!!

March 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland primary school has suspended two teacher aides after they were snapped exchanging cannabis in the staff room.

But the school says the pair will keep their jobs and officials are yet to contact police, raising Ministry of Education concerns.

Surely they must be sacked.

I don’t care what they do in their own time and place. But they brought illegal drugs to school, and were selling or exchanging it in the staff room.

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And a third panelist goes

March 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A disability advocate recognised in the New Years Honours list has quit an Auckland Council panel, saying it’s no longer independent.

Huhana Hickey is the third member of the council’s community advisory panels to step down over concerns they are ineffectual.

Last week Ali said he did not feel comfortable getting paid $500 a meeting to chair a panel that had no legal mandate to give advice that made any difference.

A council the size of Auckland had enough competency and expertise to openly engage with the various communities without setting up “token” panels, he said.

Exactly. You don’t need a token panel costing $150,000 or so.

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King Richard III

March 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A villainous Plantagenet monarch was transformed into the People’s King – for a few days at least – as thousands witnessed Richard III turn in his graves.

They were respectfully solemn, with only muted cheering and applause along the winding 20km route through verdant middle-England countryside as Richard’s recently unearthed mortal remains were transported with military-timed and detailed pomp and ceremony behind two armoured medieval knight outriders for his public reinterment in a 2.5 million ($5 million) cathedral tomb.

His story, and bones, had come full circle. Richard now lies in repose barely 50m across the lane from where he was found, famously twisted and evidently buried with scant ceremony, beneath a Leicester carpark, more than 500 years after he was slain at the battle of Bosworth Field.

His body was ripped asunder by 11 ferocious blows as his crown was torn from him that August day in 1485 by Henry Tudor’s forces after trusted allies, prudently sensing which way the wind was blowing amid the melee, deserted him at a key dynasty-changing, Machiavellian moment.

Good to have a King of England no longer buried underneath a car park.

Richard III is not one of the great kings of English history, but he was a formidable warrior. He killed many in the battle in which he was slain.

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Parliament 26 March 2016

March 26th, 2015 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. JAMES SHAW to the Minister of Science and Innovation:Does he stand by his statement that the Government will “build a strong business-led R&D ecosystem to strengthen and diversify New Zealand’s economy”?
  2. Dr JIAN YANG to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on how low inflation is benefiting New Zealand families?
  3. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister responsible for HNZC: Does he agree with the National Business Review who asked “Is the Government’s social housing privatisation policy in tatters”?
  4. NUK KORAKO to the Minister for Economic Development:What reports has he received on the progress of New Zealand businesses succeeding internationally?
  5. KELVIN DAVIS to the Minister of Transport: Will transport spending in Northland return to the level that this Government inherited, given annual NZTA funding for the region has fallen by $36 million since 2008/09?
  6. Hon JUDITH COLLINS to the Associate Minister for Social Development: How much has the Government saved as a result of its benefit fraud initiative?
  7. SUE MORONEY to the Minister for ACC: Was the then Minister for ACC Hon Judith Collins correct when she said last year that the reason the Government ignored ACC’s recommendation for cuts to levies for employers and workers was “because we need to get to surplus”?
  8. PITA PARAONE to the Minister of Education: What reports has she received, if any, about why the Māori Education Trust is selling its 320ha Kahutara dairy farm, the late Edward Holmes’ farm, that was gifted to the Trust to educate Wairarapa Māori?
  9. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What reports has he received on renewable electricity generation in New Zealand?
  10. MOJO MATHERS to the Minister for Primary Industries: Will he support a ban on cosmetics testing on animals?
  11. TODD BARCLAY to the Minister for Small Business: How are small businesses benefiting from the innovation initiatives of the Business Growth Agenda?
  12. Su’a WILLIAM SIO to the Minister for Building and Housing: Have all boarding houses that are “rat-infested, mouldy dives that are unfit for human habitation” been closed down since he said he wanted them eliminated in November 2014; if not, why not?

National: Five patsies on inflation, NZ businesses, welfare fraud, renewable electricity and small business.

Labour: Four questions on social housing, Northland roads, ACC and boarding houses.

Greens: Two questions on research & development and animal testing

NZ First: One question on the Maori Education Trust

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm

Taxation (KiwiSaver HomeStart and Remedial Matters) Bill – third reading

The bill amends the KiwiSaver Act 2006 and the Income Tax Act 2007 in relation to withdrawal of member tax credits for KiwiSaver members purchasing their first home and “corrections” to the tax, social policy, and KiwiSaver treatment of income replacement payments for some veterans and other claimants.

  • Introduced: December 2014
  • 1st reading: December 2014, passed without dissent
  • Select Committee report: March 2015, supported without dissent
  • 2nd reading: March 2015
  • Committee: March 2015

The debate can last up to two hours.

Human Rights Amendment Bill – second reading continued

The Bill amends the Human Rights Act 1993 to enable the establishment of the position of a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner and to make changes to the role and structure of the Commission.

  • Introduced: October 2011
  • 1st reading: November 2013, passed 105-15 with Greens and Mana against
  • Select Committee report: April 2014, supported with amendments with Labour and Greens opposed

The debate has up to 60 minutes remaining.

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Why are so many Australian muslims radicalised?

March 26th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A nightclub bouncer who reportedly became a terror group leader. A man who tweeted a photo of his young son clutching a severed head. A teenager who is believed to have turned suicide bomber, and others suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State movement. All of them, Australian.

The London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence reports that between 100 and 250 Australians have joined Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. Given Australia’s vast distance from the region and its population of just 24 million, it is a remarkable number. The center estimates that about 100 fighters came from the United States, which has more than 13 times as many people as Australia.

That’s a huge number.

Experts disagree about why the Islamic State group has been so effective recruiting in Australia, which is widely regarded as a multicultural success story, with an economy in an enviable 24th year of continuous growth.

Possible explanations include that some Australian Muslims are poorly integrated with the rest of the country, and that Islamic State recruiters have given Australia particular attention. In addition, the Australian government failed to keep tabs on some citizens who had been radicalized, and moderate Muslims have been put off by some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments about their community.

It’s pathetic to even suggest that Tony Abbott is the reason. I’m not Abbott’s biggest fan, but the hatred and bias from many sections of the Australian media towards him is appalling.

I think the first explanation is the strongest. For well over a decade there has been a significant radical element who have not integrated. Many senior Muslim clerics in Australia have said appalling things, and use incendiary speech. We’re very fortunate that in NZ we’ve never had this problem. That doesn’t mean that there are not some extreme radicals – just that the senior leadership in NZ is not radical, and in fact very well focused on integration.

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Was Bowe Bergdahl really worth five terrorists?

March 26th, 2015 at 10:33 am by Lindsay Addie

The Washington Post reports that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who the Obama Administration swapped for five terrorists is to be tried for desertion.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told The Washington Post that his client was handed a charge sheet on Wednesday. Army officials said in a statement that Bergdahl has been charged with desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place. His case has been referred to an Article 32 preliminary hearing, which is frequently compared to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court.

Bergdahl is unlikely to face the death penalty if found guilty but could face a long prison sentence. Also it is worth noting that although Bergdahl isn’t the only US soldier who has deserted in either Iran or Afghanistan. His case is different because he  allegedly deserted from a battlefield.

Bergdahl’s case has prompted questions over whether the Obama administration handled the prisoner swap legally. Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security, also provoked criticism when she said after Bergdahl’s recovery that he had served “with honor and distinction.” She later acknowledged the remark was controversial, and said she was referring to the soldier’s decision to enlist in the first place.

“That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing,” she said.

This is a big faux pas by the Obama administration and Susan Rice for uttering these words. Doing some proper check-ups on Bergdahl first would have probably avoided this embarrassing mess. His fellow soldiers have been saying for ages that he was a deserter.

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Why Labour is in crisis throughout the Anglosphere

March 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The New Statesman reports:

It is easy to blame Ed Miliband for Labour’s problems; too easy. Labour parties are in crisis all throughout the Anglosphere: they are in opposition in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. Their problems go far deeper than the identities of their party leaders.

Labour’s fate seems especially bleak in New Zealand. Here the centre-right National Party reign: Labour won just 32 out of 121 seats in the general election last year, and only 25 per cent of the vote. Nowhere is Labour’s battle for relevance more urgent.

25% is a low in any of these countries.  In the UK they are at 33% (same as Conservatives), in Australia 38% (2% behind Coalition but 4% ahead on TPP), in Canada the Liberals are at 34% (1% ahead). In NZ they got 22% less than National.

Little is determined to learn from these mistakes. It might be that as a former trade union official, he will find it easier to reorientate Labour to a position from which it can again win elections. “The language the commentators keep using is ‘moving to the centre, moving to the centre’. And I think it is about getting down to a small number of priority issues,” he says. Last year, one of Labour’s problems was drowning the electorate in policy detail. “What I’m determined is that for the 2017 election, we won’t do what we did last time, which was have 120-odd policies,” Little says. Instead the party will offer a pledge card highlighting five or six main policies, much like Tony Blair’s Labour Party in 1997.

He sees rehabilitation for Labour lying in “finding a language and ideas that resonate with people that say, actually, there is a different way of doing this.” Labour parties must be seen as modern and forward thinking, and not merely lamenting the changing nature of the international economy that has eradicated the notion of a job for life. “That is where the future lies – being able to talk about the future of work.”

The rhetoric is good and pleasing to see Little saying this. But can he deliver a policy prescription that recognises it? To the contrary their labour policies seem to all be about reducing flexibility, not increasing it.

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Are MBIE requiring people to break their bank’s terms and conditions ?

March 26th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

As you’re no doubt aware, directors of companies are required to lodge a company return every year, and since about 2012 that has involved paying a fee of about $45.  While it’s a bit cheeky of them to start charging for something that used to be free, that’s not what I’m concerned about.  Rather, it is that in order to pay that fee without using your credit card, you have to disclose your internet banking credentials to the RealMe website.  And that website is a third party in the eyes of most banks, which means that they expect you to breach your bank’s electronic banking terms and conditions. 

In my case I am using the ANZ and their Electronic Banking Conditions of Use can be found at http://www.anz.co.nz/resources/6/7/67cd07804ee131e5bc44fe146f64e4a5/ANZ-Electronic-COU.pdf with the applicable rule on page 8: “Don’t enter your login details onto a third party website”.

I made contact with the companies office to enlighten them about this conundrum, however they do not seem interested.  Initially they told me that the payments portal takes me to the bank’s website (verbally over the phone so I cannot prove it) and subsequently they emailed me with: 

Further to our telephone conversation last week. I have spoken with our accounts team.

They confirm that DPS does not gather or store your information, rather it just directs you to your nominated bank .

I also took the liberty of contacting the ANZ via bank mail, with their reply including:

“You cannot provide your personal log on details to anyone, including government website’s.”
(their apostrophe error, not mine).

I replied to the MBIE with a few screenshots, including of the page where they want your login details (screenshot is at the end of the email), a link to ANZ’s T&C’s, and the ANZ’s reply. They just told me that I should lodge it manually (by post) and pay with a cheque – which defeats the purpose of doing everything online!

I have two problems with the MoBIE online payment arrangement.  First is that they have obviously set it up without asking the banks whether they would be happy with the arrangement – they just did it.

The second is that they are pretty presumptuous in thinking that people will be happy to break their agreement with their bank in order to pay a government fee.

I also note that when you pay your company renewal in Australia you can use BPAY, which is a payment system run by the banks.

I do wonder why MBIE didn’t work with the banks to devise a payment system that doesn’t cause users to break their terms and conditions.

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General Debate 26 March 2015

March 26th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Labour abandons 20 years of support for free trade

March 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Labour is set to initially back a New Zealand First Bill that would legislate against a potential crucial clause in the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

Fletcher Tabuteau’s Bill would negate the ability of foreign companies to sue Governments over law changes that harm their business.

Labour Leader Andrew Little says they will support the legislation at its first reading as they have concerns about investor state dispute proceedings.

This is a massive shift in policy for Labour, putting them firmly on the extreme left. They have a proud legacy of supporting trade agreements but they are saying they will vote for a bill which would basically guarantee NZ would never ever get to sign another free trade agreement.

This is not just about the proposed TPP. Investor state clauses are now very standard in trade agreements. And they are about protecting NZ companies also. You may recall that the NZ Super Fund is suing the Portugal Government over the fact they treated the money invested by the NZ Super Fund differently to other investors in a bank. Without such provisions, then NZ companies can get treated differently.

The reality is Labour has signed trade agreements with investor state provisions. They are now voting for a bill that would have made such agreements impossible. This is again not a minor shift – this is a major reversal of 20 years of pro-trade policies from Labour.

The ASEAN FTA was negotiated by Labour and concluded in August 2008 and has investor state provisions.

The China FTA negotiated by Labour has investor state provisions.

The Thailand FTA concluded by Labour in 2005 has investor state provisions.

The Singapore FTA concluded by Labour in 2000 has investor state provisions.

So Labour signed FTAs with these provisions from their first year in office to their last year in office. They are totally standard in FTAs.

Their new policy to support a bill banning any trade agreements with them, is a de facto policy to never again sign a free trade agreement, and to walk away from all the trade agreements they concluded in Government. It’s pathetic pandering to the far left.

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