Ashton Kutcher on opportunities

July 24th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Not seen this before but a great speech by Ashton Kutcher at the Teen Choice Awards last year. School principals should read these words out at school assemblies. The key part:

I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my Dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.

I so absolutely subscribe to that. I’ve appreciated all my jobs. I was a paper boy. I worked in a dairy. I swept floors and emptied bins at Woolworths. I worked on a till. I was a receptionist at a medical centre. I was a kitchen hand. I was a secretary to a group of psychologists. I helped at specimen reception in a medical lab. I was an administrative assistant. Every job has been appreciated, and was an opportunity.

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Chromebooks

July 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Pati Suailua looked at buying a laptop for his six children to share – now, thanks to a school lease system, he has four Chromebooks in the house.

The Porirua father said some families were too proud to sign up to the $4-a-week lease system but he jumped at the opportunity to invest in his children’s education.

Te Mana o Kupe Trust has already leased Chromebooks to 400 families and, by the end of next year, more than 2000 children from 13 schools in Porirua East are expected to have a device.

One-third of Porirua East households don’t have access to the internet, so the next step was to get community wi-fi set up, trust founder Antony Royal said.

“Ideally, in the next few months, we’ll start building and installing wi-fi so that households with our Chromebooks can connect to it.”

Schoolwork could be completed offline at home, but Royal said online learning should not stop at the school gate for those families that could not afford broadband.

Suailua has internet access but said the big difference with Chromebooks was that his Corinna School children could do their homework online at a price that didn’t break the budget.

A great initiative. The cost of Internet capable devices is dropping. Kids don’t need full computers or iPads.

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Valedictories

July 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Some extracts from the valedictories delivered yesterday:

Dr CAM CALDER (National): Six years ago when I came into Parliament, some queried why: “Why has he come in? Does Parliament need yet another doctor?”. When I announced my intention to step down, again some queried: “Why him? Surely some mistake? Parliament is losing too many of its doctors.” There was no talk, as far as I know, of McCully having any incriminating photographs. 

Can’t rule it out though! :-)

No Government can legislate love, but through careful formulation of policies and legislation we are succeeding in wrapping services around the most vulnerable and the less well loved. People need something to believe in and someone to believe in them. 

Very true.

In my maiden speech I outlined areas of special interest to me. Among them were: tackling New Zealand’s growing incidence of obesity, the need for more marine reserves, and a prostate cancer awareness programme for New Zealand men. I soon learnt some fundamental truths of Parliamentary life: few things move fast. As the French say: “Petit à petit l’oiseau fait le nid.” Little by little the bird makes the nest. One can plant seeds in soil, but the soil receiving the seed may or may not be fertile. The idea might lie there quiescent forever or receive a burst of interest from an unexpected quarter and suddenly flourish and be accepted. Certainly one never achieves anything in this House alone and success truly has a thousand fathers. I am gratified to note that the Government has made progress in all the above special interest areas, which I mentioned in my maiden speech, but today I make a call for more resources to be devoted to proven measures to combat the alarming incidence of obesity in New Zealand. The cost of such interventions will amply repay themselves in substantially reduced health care costs and in thousands of New Zealanders living longer, healthier, more productive lives.

I’m in favour of anti-obesity measures so long as they are about promoting choices, not taking them away.

JOHN HAYES (National – Wairarapa): This afternoon I come to say farewell and to share a few final thoughts with you, my colleagues, and the Wairarapa community. But first I want to thank the Wairarapa, * Tararua, and * Central Hawke’s Bay communities who three times elected me as their representative, each time by a greater margin. 

The seat was previously held by Labour.

Much of my first term here was spent reflecting on why I had come. The atmosphere was toxic, not helped by a Speaker who was shrill and screamed and loopy committee chairs * Pettis and Yates.

The good old days!

Were I New Zealand’s next Prime Minister, I would ensure that the next Parliament got rid of a plethora of unnecessary legislation and excessive regulation. Three years is not long enough. This year’s election is going to cost taxpayers $27 million, together with the time they have invested in MPs who are going to be distracted by parliamentary campaigning. Were I Prime Minister—and do not laugh, Brendan; it is not too late to nominate—I would promote a 4 or 5 year term to spread the cost over more years. Doing so would give Parliament a more reasonable time to implement its programmes.

I strongly support a longer term.

I was pleased in the last Parliament to complete a * Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee inquiry into New Zealand’s relationship with the South Pacific. The Government did not have a majority on the committee, and the report had more than 40 recommendations unanimously supported by all parties. 

That was very well done.

CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National): Thank you very much indeed for the call to give my valedictory statement. It is a privilege that is given to retirees—15 minutes of uninterrupted discourse, where the opportunity is given to say it the way it really is and the way I see it, and I intend to do that now. If we glance overseas back to Westminster, where our parliamentary system began before it was improved by the New Zealand system, we see that the parliamentary media over there have adopted the sobriquet of “pale, male, and stale” for those whose Cabinet warrants Mr Cameron should no longer hold. How cruel! How cruel is that to sensitive people? Well, if you cannot take the heat, do not stand in the kitchen. 

Very good advice.

I have achieved more for the electorate in the last year in the cumulative improvement in West Coast – Tasman health infrastructure than ever before, and have we not had such a wonderful Minister of Health?

Chris fought hard for the new hospital.

 I do not know of any other serving National MPs who are 69 years old, but as we sign up to 3 year brackets of tenure, would you really want to still be trundling around Parliament at 72? You need quite an ego if you thought you could not be replaced effectively by a younger person. I guess the only extenuating circumstance would be if you were a party leader who had a Scottish mother from the Isle of Skye, but even then you would be pushing it.

A great not too subtle poke at Winston.

 For me, the most significant part of the parliamentary process as a backbencher* is the select committee system. This is our second House, our senate, our * House of Lords, as this is where the public have a direct interface with the legislative process. This is where the public are asked what they think of the legislation being put forward. In my experience, the adversarial relationship between parties and individual members is subsumed to less of a partisan system, where members each consider the evidence put before them in submissions from people, often based on a personal or observed experience.

We do have a very good select committee system.

COLIN KING (National – Kaikōura): Thank you for this opportunity to make this, my final statement in the debating chamber* of the 50th Parliament of New Zealand. May I begin by acknowledging some of those who have put up with the 4-metre swells across Cook Strait* today to be with us

Sounds a normal day on Cook Strait!

Sir Henry Maine, speaking on social structure, put it well when he said: “Nobody is at liberty to attack private property and to say at the same time that he values civilisation. The history of the two cannot be disentangled, for the institution of private property has been a wonderful institution for teaching man and woman responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labour, to be able to see one’s work made manifest, to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity, to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment, to have something that is really one’s own. There are advantages with this difficult to deny.” In drafting policy and bringing forth legislation in this House, may all members continue to recognise the value of those who toil in the sun or labour under the tin roof, neither despising the value of that work or thinking that it is beyond one’s dignity, because the wealth of this nation was created on the back of physically demanding labour. 

Great quote.

Hon CHRIS TREMAIN (National – Napier): In life there are many different definitions of success, and in Parliament the same goes. There are many different definitions of what makes a successful politician. Nine years ago I entered Parliament, and I have got to say I was pretty naïve. Some would probably argue that that has not changed too much. I had just won the Labour-held seat of Napier, the first time in 50 years, and I thought I had been pretty successful at that point in time. But like all politicians across this House, I entered this place with the intention of helping to create a better New Zealand. We all have the same purpose, just different ideas of how we might achieve that goal. But success in Parliament is not defined by just winning a seat or becoming a Cabinet Minister.

Very true.

One of the more memorable experiences was being asked to be the guest of the Go Natural Lifestyle Club to open its new gazebo. I consulted my wife, Angela, as I was too scared to go on my own. She agreed to join me. I spent more time that Saturday morning deciding what to wear than to any other occasion I have ever been to since. Should I be in casual or formal dress, or should I be in my birthday suit? Who knows? Well, we arrived at 11.30 a.m., in time for a tour and lunch. To this day I will never forget driving up the pine-enclosed complex, pulling over in the car-park*, , and watching the reception party walk down to greet us both. Ange leaned over and whispered in my ear: “My God, CJ, they really are naked.”

Heh.

To Mac Dalton, Alistair Shelton, Pat Humphries, and Stefan Slooten, who have supported me in my parliamentary office, thank you. In particular, can I acknowledge Pat Humphries, who has worked in this amazing institution for much of her life. From junior backbench MPs to two Prime Ministers, Pat Humphries has supported MPs to rise to the top of the ladder. Pat, thank you.

Pat is a legend.

I am proud to see how much progress has been made in the area of Treaty settlements and to see the huge progress in my own rohe. Although there are still settlements that need to be completed, we are in a totally different place from where we started. The Hon Chris Finlayson will be knighted at a future time for his service in this area. You can hold me to that!

I think Chris would rather be a Judge – or a Cardinal!

Hon KATE WILKINSON (National – Waimakariri): When I first entered this House 9 years ago I was a list member of Parliament in a Labour-held safe seat. I leave this place as the electorate member of Parliament for Waimakariri in a National-held seat. This just goes to show that anything can happen and one should never ever take one’s electorates for granted. 

To win the seat off Clayton Cosgrove is no mean thing.

They say things happen in threes. Well, I was a member of Parliament in Canterbury. Under my watch the worst natural disaster, the earthquakes, happened. I was Minister of Conservation. Under my watch the worst environmental maritime disaster, the * Rena, happened. And I was Minister of Labour. Under my watch the worst workplace safety disaster, Pike River, happened. Can I say that at least as * Associate Minister of Immigration I did not let ** Mike Tyson into the country. Like every Canterbury member of Parliament, the earthquake events will always stand out for me. What a remarkable time to be a member of Parliament for an electorate and in a home town that was devastated by the earthquakes. I feel honoured to have helped our district in my capacity as MP through what has surely been its darkest time, from shovelling silt during those early days to informing residents of each and every new service and funding the National-led Government provided towards our recovery, as well as the hours and hours of work helping our residents navigate through the repair and rebuild of their homes. 

I think all Christchurch MPs have had a special connection with their constituents as they help them through the disaster.

The ink on my warrant barely had time to dry when I was told that my 90-day trial bill would be one of the first in our term to go on the * Order Paper. It has now been in place for just on 6 years. The protections we built into the legislation worked, and in that time there has been no amendment needed apart from, of course, extending it from small businesses to all businesses. Indeed, that one piece of policy and legislation was credited with having provided 13,000 new jobs in its first year. 

Yet Labour want to abolish it.

Most memorable, sadly, was the Pike River mining tragedy. I cannot resile from the absolute fact that 29 men died under my watch. Although I was not personally responsible, I was the responsible Minister, and it happened under my watch. We all wish we could turn back the clock and prevent such a disaster and keep those men safe. We cannot, but I am proud of the setting up of the Royal commission inquiry and now implementing its recommendations, putting the spotlight on workplace safety. We often have a national culture of “she’ll be right”, but it too often is not right. We lose a worker about once a week and a farmer once a month, and a farmer is hurt about every 30 minutes. So often those deaths and injuries could have been avoided. We need to change that culture and simply look after our workmates. Governments can only do so much and can only be so effective. Workplaces and workmates can do more. 

Workplace safety is indeed a shared responsibility.

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Joyce in fine form

July 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce was in fine form highlighting David Cunliffe’s apologies in Parliament yesterday. Some extracts:

In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Steven also highlights their regional growth policy:

And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.

He also highlights the comments by Stuart Nash:

I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. 

Almost too easy.

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Parliament Today 24 July 2014

July 24th, 2014 at 12:18 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM – 3.00PM

  1. Hon PHIL HEATLEY to the Minister of Finance: What measures is the Government taking to help control inflation for New Zealand families?
  2. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  3. Dr CAM CALDER to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on Public Achievement Information?
  4. BRENDAN HORAN to the Minister of Finance: Is he still of the view that a Hamilton to Tauranga route would have to be considered alongside three other projects?
  5. MELISSA LEE to the Minister for Social Development: What recent reports has she received about the Government’s Youth Service initiative?
  6. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY to the Minister of Education: What was the split, if any, by percentage, of enrolment into private, public and home-based ECE in the Better Public Service targets “Result 2: Increase Participation in ECE”, and what was the relative increases/decreases, for each, from the previous year?
  7. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statement that resources in Budget 2014 “will help us continue to improve frontline health services for New Zealanders”?
  8. MIKE SABIN to the Minister for Primary Industries: What recent announcements has he made regarding Government support for the primary sector in Northland?
  9. Hon NANAIA MAHUTA to the Minister of Māori Affairs: E whakamanawa ana a ia kei te hangai Te Pire Reo Māori ki ngā mātāpono o Te Tiriti o Waitangi?
    • Translation: Is he confident that the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill is consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi?
  10. JULIE ANNE GENTER to the Minister of Transport: Will he increase investment in better public transport infrastructure in light of the poll this week showing Aucklanders favour public transport spending by a four-to-one margin over roads?
  11. Dr JIAN YANG to the Minister of Consumer Affairs: What changes have recently come into force that strengthen financial service provider registration?
  12. Su’a WILLIAM SIO to the Minister of Local Government: Did the Deputy Mayor of Napier, Mrs Fay White, raise with her recently at a public meeting that the issue of local government amalgamation should be taken seriously by National during this General Election; if so, what were her specific concerns?

Question to Members 

  1. H V ROSS ROBERTSON to the Chairperson of the Local Government and Environment Committee:When will the Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill be reported to the House?

Today Labour are asking about whether the Prime Minister stands by all his statements, frontline health services,  the Maori Language (Te Reo Maori) Bill, and local government amalgamation. The Greens are asking about ECE, and public transport. Brendan Horan is asking about the Hamilton to Tauranga road route.

Patsy question of the day goes to Dr Jian Yang for Question 11: What changes have recently come into force that strengthen financial service provider registration?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.00PM.

1. Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill – First Reading

2. Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill- Third Reading

The Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples.  This bill repeals the Māori Language Act 1987 and Part 4A of the Broadcasting Act 1989. It establishes an independent entity, Te Mātāwai, to provide leadership on behalf of iwi and Māori regarding the health of the Māori language.

The Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Finance, Bill English. This bill seeks parliamentary authorisation of the individual appropriations contained in The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2015 .

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This should not be allowed in the regulated period

July 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Hone-At-The-Trough-630x472

Photo from Whale.

This billboard would be fine before the regulated period, but the rules are much tighter during the regulated period and I would be very surprised if this falls within the rules.

UPDATE: It seems that despite the crest, it was not funded from the parliamentary budget. Mana have agreed to remove the crest as that normally signifies it has been paid for by Parliament.

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Cunliffe did know after all!!

July 24th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald originally reported:

But the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

But Newstalk ZB reported:

Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

It would have taken one phone call to find out. One could have had a staffer ask the person in question, or pretty much anyone in Queenstown. But they wanted his help with the local Labour candidate, so they decided to do a don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

Now I’m not advocating the man in question should be a pariah. But this episode suggests that Cunliffe’s apology to Rape Crisis for being a man was easy words, but not action.

I mean just a few days after you make national headlines for apologising for being a man to Rape Crisis, and saying we have a rape culture in New Zealand, you go and meet a prominent New Zealander who has plead guilty in court to sexual assault but got name suppression for it. And you admit you did hear about it prior to meeting him, but ignored it.

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Armstrong on why he thinks Peters will not run for East Coast Bays

July 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As captivating and entertaining as such a contest would have been, Winston Peters is unlikely to throw himself feline-like into the pigeon loft and stand in Murray McCully’s East Coast Bays seat.

The idea of putting himself up as the New Zealand First candidate initially seemed like a very cunning plan to disrupt the political footsie being played by Colin Craig’s Conservatives and the National Party in order for the former to get a toehold in Parliament and the latter to remain in power.

But the warning bells ought to have been ringing in the New Zealand First camp after Christine Rankin, the Conservative Party’s chief executive, urged Peters to “bring it on”.

It would give the Conservatives a lot of publicity, and allow them to position Craig as the natural successor to Peters.

Peters is not in the business of giving rivals who are after the same votes as him the means to raise their profile. When it comes to winning the seat, Peters is (for once) handicapped by his refusal to reveal his post-election intentions. East Coast Bays is one of National’s safest seats. Around two-thirds of both the electorate vote and party vote in the seat went to National in 2011.

Peters would need a big chunk of the National vote to shift his way. But why would National voters back him and risk seeing him install a Labour-led government?

All Craig would need to say is “Vote Peters. Get Labour”. 

Yeah I can’t see East Coast Bays voters voting for Peters if it means he may make David Cunliffe Prime Minister, and support a Labour-Green-Mana Government.

Also Peters hates losing electorate contests. He has never got over being beaten by Clarkson and then Bridges. Losing to Craig would be an unendurable burden for him.

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Labour doesn’t want Hosking

July 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

The state broadcaster is refusing to budge, declaring: “Mike is our man.”

Leader David Cunliffe’s inner circle believes the Seven Sharp host is too close to National and has compiled a dossier of examples.

I think it is pretty obviously that Mike Hosking has a centre-right worldview. Just as John Campbell has a centre-left worldview. The issue is not their world-view, but whether they would be biased and be unfair moderating a debate.

I’ve never heard of National demanding (for example) that John Campbell not moderate a TV3 leaders debate, so am surprised that Labour is so sensitive that they are trying to demand a moderator they agree with.

National’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce, rejected this and said he was happy with the current format of prime minister versus opposition leader.

He said the party had no issues with TV3 using John Campbell for its televised debate. “We’ve all got to trust the professionalism of the interviewers,” he said. “There are people who think John Campbell is to the Left but the prime minister is more than happy to front on both TV channels.”

Sensible.

 

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General Debate 24 July 2014

July 24th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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A $1.5 million sculpture funded by Auckland ratepayers

July 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Of all the plans for Queens Wharf, none has invited as much debate as the planned $1.5 million sculpture of a state house featuring a 4.5 tonne Venetian glass chandelier.

Yet any discussion can be no more than conjecture because the public is being denied images.

The Auckland Council says concept outlines are still being developed and will be released as soon as they are finalised.

That is not good enough.

Anything is better than nothing. The available images should be released if the council wants to avoid the suspicion that it is trying to put a lid on controversy.

There is much to be debated. Is the two-storey state house, to be built on a blue basalt plinth, a suitable object at the end of the wharf?

Or will it be, as the Waitemata Local Board contends, an out-of-place intrusion that will impede sea views? Would it, in fact, be better located at Wynyard Pt?

Why was the cost allowed to balloon out beyond the plentiful $1 million gifted by Barfoot & Thompson? And given the necessity for ratepayer funding, why has the project been fast-tracked with scant regard for normal council procedure?

It’s not clear if the $1.5 million is the ratepayer contribution, or just $500,000. But either amount is too much.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a cultural philistine. I’m actually a member of the Wellington Sculpture Trust. When a Council has its books in order, and rates are not rising faster than inflation, then some investment in stuff such as sculptures can be okay. But Auckland Council is in a funding crisis. It is not business as normal. $100,000 on curtains and $1.5 million on a sculpture are luxuries that it can’t afford.

UPDATE: I understand that the Auckland Council has underwritten the Parekowhai sculpture to $500,000.

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The Comcast service rep who won’t take no for an answer

July 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This is incredible. I would have told the service rep to go copulate himself long before the call actually concluded.

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Australian Senator wants a rich well-hung Senator

July 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Any complaints about our MPs look trivial in comparison to some of the loons in Australia.

TVNZ reports:

An Australian politician has raised eyebrows after revealing her two requirements in a partner.

Palmer United Senator Jacqui Lambie told Tasmania’s Heart 107.3′s radio station she has only two requirements in a man, they must be wealthy and well-endowed.

“They must have heaps of cash and they’ve got to have a package between their legs, let’s be honest,” Ms Lambie said.

“I don’t need them to speak, they don’t even need to speak.”

Ms Lambie, a 43-year-old mother of two, was then introduced to a 22-year-old listener named Jamie, who called into the radio show to express his interest in dating her.

“Do you have plenty of cash?” asked Ms Lambie.

“I’m just a bit concerned that at 22 years of age and living in Tasmania you might not be quite there yet?”

Jamie then assured her he does have plenty of cash.

Ms Lambie then asked: “Are you well-hung?”

Jamie assured her he is & “like a donkey”.

The pair have agreed to go on a date.

Funnily enough Senator Lambie opposes gay marriage on the grounds it compromises Australiam morals.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Review of Standing Orders

July 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Standing Orders Committee has published its recommendations for changes to Standing Orders, which will inevitably be accepted by the House.

The previous review was quite bold and made some significant changes, which have enhanced Parliament considerably – especially the use of extended sitting to minimise the use of urgency.

This time, the changes are very modest and they have rejected almost every significant proposal for change. As one of those who advocated change, I’m disappointed.

There are some useful enhancements though. They include:

  • Recommending funding for full webcasting of select committees
  • Adopting the temporary rules in use for recording MPs attendance, so they can have pay deducted if absence without leave
  • Allows the Business Committee to decide to retain question time when the House is in urgency (I and many advocated question time should be retained automatically)
  • Allows sign language to be used in the House if an MP wishes
  • Any opinions from the Attorney-General that a bill unjustifiably breaches the Bill of Rights Act will now be formally considered by the relevant select committee. However no requirement for amendments to be assessed by the Attorney-General for BORA compliance which is what we really need.
  • Some minor changes to general debates on the Budget and PM’s statement, but no overall reduction in time allocated to them which is a pity as after the first six or so speeches they become meaningless speeches with no relevance to the topic.
  • The time recorded for replies to written questions will not tae account of interim or holding replies, so that Ministers are incentivised to still provide full replies more quickly
  • Make clear that donations to MPs such as for leadership contest expenses must be disclosed if over $500

But overall the report is more noticeable for what they did not do, than what they did agree to.

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The Press on Labour’s need for discipline

July 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Worse than that, however, the attack on Cunliffe was yet another illustration of the continual indiscipline afflicting the Labour Party at present. It also demonstrates Cunliffe’s inability to get his party inside the House and outside focused on what they must do if they are to have any chance at all in the general election.

The attack, which first appeared in the Sunday-Star Times at the weekend, was done behind a veil of anonymity. The source was described as a senior Labour figure, but it could not be discerned from the story whether it was a person in the caucus, two-thirds of which is said to support someone other than Cunliffe, or someone in the wider party. Either way, it seemed calculated to do the maximum harm.

Labour are suggesting the source was not an MP. But that is hard to reconcile with the quotes in the SST:

“We will be having a talk to David at caucus about his work ethic on Tuesday. We’ll be letting him know he’s got two months to turn this around, and we’re backing him and right behind him but he’s got to lift his game.”

The only people who attend caucus on Tuesday are MPs, the Chief of Staff and the President. I assume it isnt Matt McCarten being quoted or the President, so hence it must be an MP.

It was the latest in a series of stories that has put Labour in the headlines all right, but for all the wrong reasons. From Trevor Mallard wittering on with some harebrained thoughts about the genetic reconstitution of moa, to Kelvin Davis breaking with the party line over a contentious highway in Northland, to a half-baked suggestion about changing the burden of proof in rape trials, to Cunliffe’s own cack-handed apology for being a man, the stories are a corrosive distraction from whatever substantive policies Labour is trying to promote. The party’s message is being swamped by them.

And banning some perfumes and cosmetics.

But if Cunliffe wants to present himself as an alternative prime minister, and the party as an alternative government, he must bring some discipline to it. Otherwise, voters will, quite rightly, write him and the party off.

Sound advice.

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Board says no to Basin flyover

July 23rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial plans to build a flyover next to the Basin Reserve in Wellington have been killed off by a board of inquiry.

In a stunning move today, four commissioners declined resource consent for the New Zealand Transport Agency’s proposed $90 million project.

It means the agency’s plans to build a 265-metre elevated highway 20 metres north of the historic cricket ground are now all but dead in the water.

Affected parties have 20 days to comment on the board’s draft decision before it is finalised on August 30.

That’s hugely disappointing. We need four lanes from the airport to Levin and if even one section is only two laned, then the entire network will move at the speed of the slowest car.

I only hope NZTA can do a revised proposal that can gain consent. The status quo is not acceptable.

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Yeah that will fix it

July 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour leader also said he would have reconsidered taking a holiday in the recess if he had known how bad the polls were. His red scarf would get fewer outings after comments were made about the regularity with which he wore it.

“I, like everybody else, need to stick closely to the core issues and I will be extremely careful about those little things, such as the scarf, that can become distractions.”

Yes, wearing a red scarf less often in public will fix things. Genius.

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Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders would rather money was spent on improving teaching standards than on reducing class sizes, a Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals.

Education has become a political battleground before September’s election, with both major parties promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it.

Asked about their priorities, more than 60 per cent of those polled said they would spend money on trying to improve teaching standards rather than cutting class sizes.

Labour has included reducing class sizes in its election policies.

Another of its policies, a promise to pay schools which do not ask parents for donations, gained support in the poll.

National has pledged $359 million for a scheme that would pay the best teachers and principals more.

Labour countered by promising to use that money to instead hire 2000 more teachers and reduce class sizes.

Asked about those policies, 61 per cent of those polled said the money was better spent on trying to improve teaching standards.

Thirty-five per cent thought it should be used to cut class sizes.

Excellent. Voters understand quality is more important than quantity.

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Hunger strikers never carry through

July 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prisoner All Means All’s intermittent hunger strike is over.

The Oxford farmer, formerly known as Mark Feary, started eating and drinking again late last week.

Of course he did. The last time I can recall a hunger striker actually staying on strike was Bobby Sands in 1981 protesting about having to wear a prison uniform and do work in prison.

In India they do hunger strikes far more sensibly. They do it in teams of three with each having an 8 hour shift every day. I understand one hunger strike there has been going on for over 15 years.

UPDATE: I’m informed by a very reliable source that the normal practice of the NZ Corrections Department is (or was) to position a BBQ outside the hunger striker’s cell, and cook bacon. It seems this was highly effective at ending most hunger strikes!

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General Debate 23 July 2014

July 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Cunliffe says sorry for his holiday

July 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has admitted to making errors, including taking an over-long three-day holiday in Queenstown last week.

Cunliffe emerged from a caucus meeting of his MPs today promising to make changes to the way he and the party delivered their messages and admitting that the holiday was a mistake.

“I take responsibility for things I could have done better,” he said.

“I’m happy to say that with the information that I now have about the movement in the polls, which I didn’t have when I made that decision [to take a holiday], I would have made a different decision.”

He certainly would not have gone on such a long break, though he noted he was also ill for two days “and I didn’t have much choice about that”.

And in another story:

He scoffed at suggestions that some in his caucus were “doing the numbers” on a leadership change.

“That’s nonsense, absolute nonsense,” he said.

“I am confident I have the full support of my caucus.”

Hilarious.

Former leader Phil Goff ruled out any interest in becoming leader again, and while Cunliffe’s predecessor David Shearer wouldn’t rule it out, he said he was focused on the party’s key messages.

Mark my words. Shearer will challenge after the election.

Also a third Stuff article reveals a new side to Cunliffe:

Pray, is Reverend Sue Dickson’s advice.  Cunliffe says he does – daily. 

I did not realise Cunliffe is such a devout Christian.

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The coronial system

July 22nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Serious failings and under-resourcing in the coronial system are stopping coroners from preventing further deaths, research has found.

Some coroners feel their recommendations have been falling on deaf ears, according to an Otago University study that looked at more than 600 coroners’ reports.

That’s because so many of their recommendations are daft and impractical.

The failings were evident in the high number of repeated recommendations, particularly in cases of drowning, sudden unexplained infant deaths, and transport accidents.

Research author Jennifer Moore said she wanted the law changed to make the system more effective, but it was unlikely the Government would budge.

About 72 recommendations were vaguely directed, and she believed there should be a mandatory response system in place.

The non silly ones do tend to get a response, but the problem is too many coroners come up with recommendations that are unbalanced. Their aim is to recommend ways to reduce deaths, which is of course a good thing. But some never seem to consider practicality or compliance costs, let alone freedom of choice to do stupid things.

There should also be additional support, training and resources available for coroners, she said.

Coroners did not receive training from a judicial institute, which she said would improve the quality of recommendations. The 17 coroners did not have books with decades of full decisions to refer to, and had to share two assistants.

Now that I would support.

Chief coroner Neil MacLean said the research was a valuable, objective point of view. “We’re already taking on board some of the criticism and I hope the Government will listen to their recommendations.”

Under-resourcing was a particular day-to-day frustration, he said. One of the most effective changes would be making it mandatory for agencies to respond to recommendations directed at them. “The thing about having a rigorous, transparent, mandatory response system is that we can be assured of feedback. We accept that some of the recommendations we make are unbalanced or miscued or directed at the wrong people – we need to know that, so we can do better next time.”

That’s a fair point. The Chief Coroner is, in my opinion, excellent. What I’d rather do is institute better resourcing and training, and then after that review if mandatory responses are a good idea.

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RIP Kevin Skinner

July 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Legendary All Blacks prop Kevin Skinner has died in Auckland, aged 86.

Skinner died over the weekend, a New Zealand Rugby spokesman confirmed today.

He played 20 tests and 63 games all told for the All Blacks during an international career that spanned 1949 to 1956.

He was a hard-nosed, durable and tough prop who had his finest moments in the 1956 series against South Africa when he came out of retirement for the last two tests and was credited with the being the man who regained the physical edge for the All Blacks.

The All Blacks won the second test 17-10 in Christchurch and the decider 11-5 in Auckland.

Skinner was also renowned for his boxing prowess, and was the 1947 New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion.

His recall for the 3rd test in 1956 was an act of genius. The South African front row were basically thugs, so we decided to play their game. They would grab testicles of the All Blacks and the like.

Skinner floored Koch with a right hook that could be clearly heard far away. I know one of the doctors who was on duty at the local hospital and Koch was still unconscious when he arrived. How Skinner wasn’t sent out, let alone even penalised I don’t know. But it worked – the South Africans stopped playing dirty.

Skinner is reputed to be the most hated All Black in South Africa. That would be a worthy epitaph for his gravestone!

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Pagani advice for Labour

July 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit on what Labour should now do:

First, stop blaming the media. 

The problem isn’t ‘right wing framing’. There isn’t a media conspiracy to get a third term National government. When you fall behind everyone airs their favourite explanation and negatives get repeated and amplified. It’s the job of politicians, not media, to inspire a change in the story. 

National did this also in 2002. It is very tempting to do, but almost always pointless.

Stop saying the polls are close. It reminds voters that Labour aims to lead a bloc in which it might not be all that dominant and which could include the toxic Dotcom party. Tortuous explanations about the Left Bloc v the Right Bloc sound cynical, as if you don’t care about winning support of people.

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

If Labour did that, I think they would get a very significant boost in the polls. People do not like the idea of a Labour-led Government being subservient to Dotcom.

Stop barking at every passing car. We don’t need a position on every lifestyle or identity issue in the news cycle. Though Labour tries to talk about core themes, like jobs and smaller class sizes, it can’t complain when those subjects get overshadowed by its own policies. 

The temptation of releasing a ‘policy a day’ comes from a lack of confidence that the main themes are strong enough to win. This is a strategy error, not a discipline one. 

I think they are taking this advice on board.

There are no easy pathways now. The party made David Cunliffe leader for his strategy of shoring up the base with a more militant tone. He’s delivered on that strategy but it hasn’t worked. 

Correcting to the centre close to the election carries the seeds of disappointment for those who believed it would work, and has the added downside that the public don’t believe it. 

It’s too late to ditch some of the rhetoric that made people doubt whether you would put them ahead of sectarian interests, but not too late to campaign for  the values that make Labour, Labour.  It’s mission is to represent working people and their families in a broad-based party. So: do that.

I think it is too late to now try and move towards the centre.

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Parliament Today 22 July 2014

July 22nd, 2014 at 1:16 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM-3.00PM.

  1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement: “We have a plan, and that plan is working for New Zealand.”?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on regional development, if so, how many regions of New Zealand now have a lower number of people unemployed according to the Household Labour Force Survey compared to when he took office?
  3. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: What measures has the Government taken to support New Zealand families – particularly through delivering better public services to those most in need?
  4. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
  5. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister for Social Development: What reports has she received about the progress of the Government’s welfare reforms?
  6. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Has he seen reports that $4 to $5 billion will be sucked out of the economy due to the 35 percent fall in dairy prices since February, and what policy responses, if any, does he intend to make to counteract this?
  7. LOUISE UPSTON to the Minister of Education: What progress is being made on Better Public Services targets in education?
  8. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Police: When was the Minister of Police first informed of the misreporting of Police statistics in Counties Manukau, and what did she do with the information when she first received it?
  9. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Justice: What recent Better Public Services results has she announced for the justice sector?
  10. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: What evidence does she have that the Government’s Investing in Educational Success programme, which removes teachers and principals from their classrooms for two days a week, is the best way to spend over $359 million in order to raise student achievement?
  11. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Minister of Conservation: What new initiatives has the Government taken in the Rimutakas and other areas to help the recovery of endangered native bird populations?
  12. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?

Today Labour are asking about regional development, the fall in dairy prices, police statistics and changes to teaching. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister stands by all his government’s policies, and whether the Minister of Finance stands by all his policies. New Zealand First is asking about New Zealand’s economic outlook.

Patsy of the day goes to Paul Foster-Bell for Question 11: What new initiatives has the Government taken in the Rimutakas and other areas to help the recovery of endangered native bird populations?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.00PM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Accounting Infrastructure Reform Bill - Second Reading

2. Land Transport Amendment Bill- Committee Stage

3. Veterans’ Support Bill - Committee Stage

The Accounting Infrastructure Reform Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill continues the changes begun by the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 and the Financial Reporting Act 2013. It proposes amendments to the rules on who may perform statutory audits, to the restrictions on legal form for audit firms, to the requirement for independent assurance of financial statements for certain charities, and to the rules relating to how the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants structures itself.

The Land Transport Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill seeks to lower the adults legal alcohol limits from 400 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg, and from 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 Millilitres (ml) of blood to 50mg.

The Veterans’ Support Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Michael Woodhouse. This bill proposes a new support scheme for veterans of military service that would replace the current scheme prescribed in the War Pensions Act 1954.

 

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