Archive for February, 2004

Revenue not safety

February 29th, 2004 at 11:03 pm by David Farrar

With despair I note the Police saying that every single Police District has been ordered to ticket without exceptions motorists exceeding the speed limit , quoting from the SST story:

“Fitzgerald said whereas police previously had discretion to consider circumstances such as weather and traffic conditions, they would now be encouraged to ticket anyone driving above the speed limit.”

This is beyond stupid. It is saying there is no difference between driving say in mid Otago at 110 km/hr on a straight road where you can see ahead for several kms in fine weather and driving over the Rimutaka Hill Road at 100 km/hr in wet weather. One is perfectly safe and the other is suicidal.

If the Government seriously thinks that one should never take into account condition factors, why don

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Praise CNN

February 29th, 2004 at 10:57 pm by David Farrar

Europe is the worst place to fly directly to as its time zone is 12 hours apart from New Zealand that is hard to adapt to. Fell asleep yesterday at 5.00 p.m. and woke up at 1.00 a.m. On the good side though I discovered one of the channels does have CNN between midnight and 7.00 am so not quite so cut off from the English speaking world!

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Not a great start

February 28th, 2004 at 8:43 pm by David Farrar

Just arrived in Rome. Has been a hell 36 hours.

On flight over was next to a young italian woman which would normally be nice, but she was seatmate from hell. Think very very demanding (always going to bathroom just after meals are served) including asking that I turn off *my* reading light so she could sleep. I was too polite to refuse, but I am chronically unable to sleep on planes and also that there was basically no inflight entertainment, so I spent over eight hours lying in my seat unable to read or sleep or do anything. Not at all fun.

Rome is cold, over-cast and wet. Hopefully will clear up later. The hotel room is the smallest one I have ever seen in my life. And not a single TV channel is in English. God I would die of boredom if it were not for having lots of work to get through on my laptop.

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Twice a Judge

February 27th, 2004 at 12:38 pm by David Farrar

I have slightly mixed feelings regarding the standing down of High Court Master Anthony Christiansen following an indecent assault complaint.

Firstly one can only agree with Judith Collins that appointing Christiansen as a High Court Master, after he had resigned as a District Court Judge over an unwanted advance to a female court worker, was extremely unwise. It does not reflect well on the judgement of those who made that decision as you need Judges with basically unblemished records (hence I will never be a Judge!).

My second reaction though is that it appears not to be a “second” incident but the result of a complaint being laid with the Police over the original incident, two years after it happened. It is of course not at all unusual for police complaints to be delayed if nothing was said at the time for reasons of fear etc, but it doesn’t quite sit totally well with me that having complained at the time (as she should have) which lead to his resignation, to them two years later make it a police matter when one could have (and should have been if it was conduct of a criminal nature) complained to the Police at the time.

It is possible that she was angry that after losing his job for his (alleged) behaviour, that a couple of years later he was back in what can be seen as a promotion, and this is the only way to register a protest against it. From that point of view it is not an unreasonable thing to do, and this highlights of course how stupid Margaret Wilson was to appoint him to the High Court after he resigned from the District Court.

I guess we may find out when the issue airs on Sunday on TV One. I’ll be in Rome so won’t see it but will rely on the Internet to get a summary.

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Labour MPs agree with me

February 27th, 2004 at 5:46 am by David Farrar

I posted on Tuesday that the appointment of David Bensin-Pope to the Cabinet seemed like an April Fool’s joke. The NZ Herald reports that it seems many of his colleagues agree with me.

To quote the Herald: “One MP said the promotion sent a message to all MPs that their contributions were irrelevant if they didn’t meet the ‘quota’ requirements.”

Labour – the party of quotas!

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Shop Trading Hours

February 27th, 2004 at 5:25 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports that we may get some more sanity to our shop trading laws and allow shopping on Easter Sunday. About time too.

I have never been able to work out that if you have:

a) Employees wanting to work and earn more money
b) Employers wanting to open
c) Customers wanting to shop

how we justify the state telling them all that it is illegal to do so.

I do agree with the CTU that it is sensible and desirable that employees be given the option to refuse to work, but as long as one has that provision I would allow trading 365 days a year if enough employees, employers and customers decide it is viable.

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Immigration Service broke the law

February 26th, 2004 at 3:03 pm by David Farrar

The Ombudsman’s report into the “lie in unison” saga is out and it is totally damning of the NZ Immigration Service, and the internal report of the Secretary of Labour which previously cleared NZIS.

The report concludes that the denial by NZIS that there existed a note regarding an agreement to lie in unison “appears to have been contrary to law” and was “wrong”. One could cynically note that it may be no surprise that a Department lies when their Minister does likewise.

The earlier inquiry of the Secretary of Labour found ‘no evidence that officials deliberately misled the Ombudsman’ but the Ombudsman found that there was ‘a deliberate attempt to avoid reference to the real information being sought’.

This absolutely reinforces why one must have a full independent inquiry into the guinea pig letter scandal. There can be no confidence the SSC inquiry will reach conclusions damaging to the Government he reports to, especially as the PM’s personal electorate office is involved.

In fact the Government conceded in question time today that they should have agreed to an independent inquiry into the “lie in unison” memo as National demanded at the time.

Having agreed that they were wrong last time to only have an internal inquiry, they *must* be pressured to an independent inquiry into the guinea pig letter. Anything less will stink to high heaven of a white wash, just as the Secretary of Labour presided over in this case.

Murray McCully has called for the Secretary to resign over his whitewash report.

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.nz policy reviews

February 26th, 2004 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

For those interested in the policy issues around .nz domain names, the Domain Name Commissioner has published two new policies for consultation.

The policy on second level domains is at http://www.dnc.org.nz/content//proposed_new_2LD_policy.pdf. This is about what second level domains there are (co.nz, org.nz, geek.nz etc), how they are created and also whether one should allow registrations directly under .nz such as telecom.nz instead of telecom.co.nz

Also a policy on who is allowed to do zone transfers is at http://www.dnc.org.nz/content//proposed_new_zone_transfer_policy.pdf. This won’t be of interest to many people – basically it is about under what circumstances can someone gain access to the master list of .nz addresses.

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Turia quotes

February 25th, 2004 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

From the NZ Herald, they speak for themselves.

“no evidence of Maori getting money on the basis of right or privilege”

“so-called democracy of one person, one vote”

“We can’t get into local government”

“We’ve got nowhere else to go home to, we can only be here”

Prizes will be considered for the best rebuttals.

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Further backdowns

February 25th, 2004 at 8:42 am by David Farrar

Backdowns are growing by the day. Nice to see a Government so in control!

1) On top of cancelling all future school closures, Mallard is now saying they may reverse decisions already made.

2) Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed is back on the table. Would have been hard to keep arguing against it when a survey shows that even the majority of Maori favour Crown ownership.

3) The Government is also saying that it may remove treaty clauses from existing legislation if found to be unnecessary.

4) Clark has backed away from the original assusrances about how her office received the Sri Lanka lawyer’s letter and has implied some or her electorate staff may be sacked for their role in the affair.

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Another blemish for Steve!

February 24th, 2004 at 5:45 pm by David Farrar

Steve Maharey’s self proclaimed unblemished record got rather damaged today when a nasty attack by him blew up in his face.

During question no 6 on different standards for university, Maharey effectively stated that Bill English’s wife Mary got into medical school through the quota system for Pacific Island students (Mary is part Samoan).

You could almost see his colleagues groan. The Speaker told him off, as it is strongly discouraged that MPs bring family members into a debate (unless that family member has done something themself like when Peter Davis got the PMs Office staff to help him secure a govt appointment for a mate).

But then to make him look like an even bigger prat, Bill Engligh got up to state that Mary got admitted to medical school on the basis of her excellent bursary marks and nothing else. Maharey just threw mud without even checking out if it was true.

Ironically Maharey has proven beyond a doubt, a point Don Brash has been making. That one of the disadvantages of such quotas for ethnic groups, is that people often assume that doctors (or lawyers) who are Maori or PI only got in through the quota, even when they did not. The fact that even the Ministry of Tertiary Education makes such an assumption is the perfect example.

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Self-Rule, Yeah Right!

February 24th, 2004 at 5:28 pm by David Farrar

Newstalk ZB reports Auckland University Maori Studies Professor Margaret Mutu as saying that a return to self-rule is a viable option for Maori.

Despite the outright stupidity of the statement, I’d like to support the concept if it means my taxes will not go to her salary anymore. Because along with self-rule goes all the costs which currently get met by the mainly Pakeha taxpayer. If Mutu want to fund their own health, education and welfare services then go for it.

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But is it true?

February 24th, 2004 at 4:59 pm by David Farrar

Winston Peters alleged in Parliament today that TVNZ reporter Brent Fraser impersonated a policeman to get the story on Winston’s free dinner.

This is shocking if true and will be interesting to see what happens. However no MP has made more false allegations than Winston so it may all be hearsay. Who remembers the WINZ Mercedes Benz scandal just before the 1999 election?

UPDATE: TVNZ and Bill Ralston have denied the allegations, and says the entire thing is news to them. Peters is refusing to repeat outside Parliament and won’t provide any proof. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it.

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Is it April Fool’s?

February 24th, 2004 at 12:39 pm by David Farrar

Helen Clark has just announced that she has appointed David Benson-Pope as a Cabinet Minister!!!!

This must be a sad joke. The only rational explanation is it was done to get him away from Chief Whip. Remember this is the guy who was too stupid to apologise to Rodney Hide for alleging Rodney called out “Dopey Niggers” in Parliament.

I heard a rumour a while ago that Clark sees Benson-Pope as her sucessor as Labour Party Leader. My comment at the time was that she must be planning on staying in the job until she dies.

Considering that Labour’s Executive was already the largest in the history of New Zealand, and so many Ministers have almost nothing to do, one can’t really say the New Zealand Government would have been short done by, if it simply made no new appointment and say promoted a Minister outside Cabinet into cabinet.

The other major changes are Wilson loses Labour (after she has done all the damage with her law changes), and Mallard is appointed Co-ordinating Minister, Race Relations which i imagine means in charge of spin on treaty and race issues.

Darren Hughes is appointed what must be the youngest whip in history. He will be good in that role as an essential ingredient of being a sucessful Whip is a sense of humour and ability to work with people from other parties.

UPDATE: Rare to quote Winston Peters but he is pretty spot on with his comments on the reshuffle. He describes the Benson-Pope promotion as “truly astonishing”.

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Backdown 2

February 24th, 2004 at 12:26 pm by David Farrar

Backdown No 2 is best summed by John Armstrong in the NZ Herald.

This one though is a backdown on rhetoric not substance. Clark has worked out calling Don Brash and 70% of New zealanders a racist doesn’t work. If it did work she would still be doing it.

So she is doing what they did with Closing the Gaps. They will rename it, maybe make a token sacrifice or two, and carry on. Labour is missing the point that the issue is not about a couple of grants here or there. It is a fundamental debate about the direction of New Zealand and whether one views the Treaty of Waitangi as a living partnership between Maori and non-Maori or not.

Clark also claims that the shattering of the bipartisan approach is why she is looking at reviewing policies. Well this is crap. The bipartisan approach ended in late 2002 as Bill English’s campaign for one standard of citizenship was very different to Labour’s policies. No change of Labour’s policies then.

The only thing that has changed is the polls. There is a whiff of panic about, as Labour does ot know how to respond, so they come up with a review.

If Labour would agree legislating for Maori only wards on local Councils was wrong, then you would see substance not spin.

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Backdown 1

February 24th, 2004 at 12:14 pm by David Farrar

Backdown No 1 is the 5 year moratorium on school reviews.

Mallard insisted they are necessary to maintain educational standards so why stop them and why for five years.

Answer No 1 is because Labour polling has told them they now are at risk of not just losing party vote to National but a huge swathe of electorates such as Invercargill and Aoraki.

Answer No 2 is because it puts them out not just beyond the 2005 election but also the 2008 one so they can say if re-elected they won’t do any reviews next term.

It is amusing how Mallard doesn’t even pretend there is a shred of principle involved in this decision – the lobbying by National, other parties, and parents paid off!

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Two fascinating polls

February 23rd, 2004 at 9:31 am by David Farrar

In the Dominion Post was a story about a large survey on race relations and treaty issues. The key points are:

* More than half of Maori want the Crown to retain title of the beaches, foreshore and seabed
* Over half of NZers unhappy with Government handling of race relations and Treaty
* Three quarters support for a deadline for land settlement claims
* Two thirds support a cap on payouts
* Two thirds of Maori see themselves as NZers first, while one third see themselves as Maori first

So over half of Maori NZers support National’s position on the foreshore for crown ownership.

Also the NZ Herald poll out today shows that National is receiving 21.2% of Maori support. At the last election National had only around 10% support from Maori, so this has doubled.

Below are the full NZ Herald poll results, with the seat allocation if they reflected an election.

National 45.5% 57 seats
Labour 37.0% 47 seats
NZ First 5.6% 7 seats
Greens 5.3% 7 seats
ACT 2.3% 0 seats
United 1.4% 2 seats
PCP 0.0% 1 seat

This assumes Peters, Dunne and Anderton win their seats.

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Beyond the headlines

February 22nd, 2004 at 9:06 pm by David Farrar

While there is no question that Lianne Dalziel had to resign, it is worth noting that while I have had little direct contact with her, I have found her likeable with a good sense of humour. Many of my friends in Young Labour rate her very highly as a great mentor and supporter. I can empathise how sad it is to have a 14 year political career destroyed through a lack of judgement. Politics is a very unforgiving career for those who go into it.

Also a lot of empathy for the staff of her office who like many parliamentary staff lose their jobs when their MP or Minister loses his or her job. Most employees have some idea when their contract will finish or if a company is considering redundancy. To start the week with no worries about job safety, and finish it effectively unemployed is very harsh.

One of Lianne’s staffers I met almost a decade ago when I worked for the ad agency which worked for Porirua City Council, and she worked for Porirua News. We had a photo op at the local refuse dump to do with some development announcement and during the photo shoot a passing seagull decided to crap on one or both of us (our memories differ as to who actually got shat on!). So I’ve always associated Juli with seagulls to this day :-)

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Summary of the summary against Ahmed Zaoui

February 22nd, 2004 at 8:31 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has published the SIS summary against Ahmed Zaoui.

For those who don’t want to read the whole thing, the summary of the summary is:

* attempted to destroy a false South African passport
* possible “casing” video included many places not obvious tourist sites
* visited mosque in Hanoi frequented by Algerian diplomats despite claiming to fear contact with Algerian regime
* doubts over veracity of an answer he gave
* twice declined refugee status in Belgium
* convicted in Belgium in 1996 of being a leader and instigator of a criminal association
* illegally left Belgium and illegally entered Switzerland in 1997
* undertook activities in Switzerland which the Swiss government saw as endangering Switzerland’s domestic and external security
* expelled from Switzerland to Burkina Faso in 1998
* convicted in absentia in France in 2001 of participation in a criminal group with a view to preparing terrorist acts

Just the sort of person we want to have in New Zealand, convicted in multiple countries of criminal activities, has ignored court orders, broken immigration laws and to top it all supports establishment of fundamentalist Islamic governments instead of secular ones.

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Degrees of bias

February 21st, 2004 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

I try to avoid commenting negatively on other people’s bloggings (or prefer to comment on their own site), and this is especially so for someone whom I like (despite not having yet met up) but I am going to comment on how Russell Brown has commented on the Dalziel affair because Russell is also a media critic himself.
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Ouch!

February 21st, 2004 at 11:11 am by David Farrar

Went to a fun farewell party last night for a very good friend who is off to the US and then London to live.

Punch was the drink of the night but it mutated during the night from a relatively normal mixture to some obscene combination of rum, vodka, wine and coke. If one hadn’t already had a dozen glasses it would have been undrinkable but of course that didn’t stop that all going also.

Today will be a slow day.

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Better late than never!

February 21st, 2004 at 10:44 am by David Farrar

Well I emerged from a an InternetNZ Council meeting yesterday to find that finally Helen Clark had some sanity return to her and she sacked Lianne Dalziel after refusing to do so earlier.

Before people celebrate this belated discovery of ethics by the paintergate PM, one should note Audrey Young in the Herald who correctly sums up “The line is she now has evidence that on Monday night Ms Dalziel told a bald lie – as opposed, presumably, to the more acceptable curly kind she later peddled”.

So according to the Prime Minister a grossly misleading statement (using her own words) such as answering “No” to the question “So you hadn’t put it in the public arena even though you had a copy of it?”, when one ordered your Press Secretary to do it for you is not a sackable offence but saying “No” to if she knew how TV3 got the letter is clearly untrue and hence sackable.

Helen Clark was elected promising to set new standards of accountability and behaviour. Good to know exactly where she has set that line now – just between grossly misleading and clearly untrue.

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Lianne and Donna both hanging on

February 19th, 2004 at 10:54 pm by David Farrar

Donna Awatere-Huata is now just two steps away from being the first (and probably the only) MP to be expelled from Parliament under the Electoral Integrity Act after losing her bid for an injunction.

She claims the judgement means “a leader can sack anyone that they don’t like and that’s intolerable in a democracy” which is not totally untrue and that is exactly what the law passed by Helen Clark and Jim Anderton allows. If you don’t like it, blame Clark and Anderton.

Meanwhile I was staggered that the Prime Minister has refused to accept Lianne Dalziel’s resignation. The Minister twice blantantly lied to the media – this was not a mistake or an error of judgement as they try to spin it. This was someone who is the Associate Minister of Justice looking down a camera lens and telling blatant untruths which she *knew* was wrong.

Other MPs who have been caught out deliberately lying such as Moyle and Laws actually had to resign from Parliament totally. If this is not a resignation offence, then this will set a new low in standards for NZ. Being “hard working” does not mean one can lie and get away with it. Well not unless you are Helen’s friend.

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Dalziel a goner!

February 19th, 2004 at 12:13 pm by David Farrar

It is ironic that just last week I was praising Lianne Dalziel for her performance on Immigration.

Now I can only conclude that she is about to resign or be sacked. As a friend of Helen’s of course it will be a Claytons sacking and she will stay as a Cabinet Minister with other portfolios, but I can not see how she can continue with crediblity as NZ’s Immigration Minister.

As Stuff reports, Dalziel has publicly lied twice, and possibly a third time also.

She said on Monday night she did not know how TV3 got the notes from the lawyer to the Sri Lankan girl. And then she said on Wednesday’s Morning Report she had not leaked the notes.

I suspect the public hates even more than an outright lie, an MP who tries to play cute with the truth and effectively say “No I did not leak the paper …. and then find out she did get her Press Secretary to do it for her.”

This is enough for a resignation, but on top of that it is also looking less and less likely that the notes were gained by the girl’s lawyer faxing them to the Prime Minister, but by Immigration staff stealing them from the girl’s room as that was the only copy of them which had the guinea pig on it.

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The politics of envy

February 18th, 2004 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

One of the frustrating things about trying to have a sensible debate about the correct level of taxation in this country, is that whenever an MP talks about reducing the tax burden, left wing MPs allege their only motivation is self interest and play on the politics of envy by saying they are only promoting it so they will get x dollars more a week themselves.

It is rather absurd to see them try this against Don Brash yesterday, alleging he supported tax cuts so he would get $168 more a week himself. Hello – this is the man who took a pay cut of around $500,000 a year to become an MP. I really don’t think he did it to try and then claw back $168 a week in exchange.
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