Archive for November, 2004

Bugged Ministers

November 30th, 2004 at 3:23 pm by David Farrar

The Dominion Post has an amusing story on how the alleged bug in Tariana Turia’s former Ministerial House, may have been there for some years or decades, and whether other Ministers were bugged in that house.

Prebble talks about how he used to used to use a phonebox to avoid the insecure former analogue lines. He suggests Matt Robson who was also in the House is most likely to have been bugged as a member of the Communist Party. Robson confirms he was or is a member (as was Marian Hobbs) of the Communist Party and denies talking to Osama bin Laden.

Finally former occupant Murray McCully claims his life of “blameless excellence” would have ruled him out as a target. Heh.

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An easy call

November 30th, 2004 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

ASEAN wants New Zealand (and Australia) to sign a non-aggression pact, where we promise not to do pre-emptive attacks on Brunei, Cambodia, Indoensia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Considering Helen has abolished our combat air force, so hence we couldn’t even subdue Pitcairn Island, it is a pretty easy pledge to make.

Perhaps we should also declare that we will restrain ourselves from invading China and/or bombing Canada.

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Will the votes be there?

November 30th, 2004 at 11:10 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald have done some numbers on the Civil Union Bill.

The first reading got 66 votes. You need 61 votes to pass. It looks like Stephen Franks, Gerry Eckhoff and Brian Donnelly will vote against (so much for ACT being the liberal party) so that reduces it to 63.

There are four others who may drop their support, and if they do so it only has 59 votes. But in that case two Labour MPs (Mackey and Laban) will vote for it to save it, even if personally uncommitted.

If that happens then it passes 61 votes to 58 with Ashraf Choudhary abstaining again!

I hope though that the four waverers do stay with it which will keep it at 65 votes in favour.

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Don’t they learn?

November 29th, 2004 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

The SST reported that some people are upset at the lanuguage used by Martin Devlin at the Taranaki Sports Awards.

Being outraged at Martin Devlin telling rude jokes and using expletives, is a bit like being outraged because a cat killed a mouse – they are both totally predictable, being natural behaviour for them.

If they did not want that sort of speech, perhaps thsy should have oh you know not invited someone who is famous for them.

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Revisiting Erebus

November 29th, 2004 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

Jim Anderton wants a Government declaration that the pilots of the aircraft that hit Mt Erebus were not responsible for the disaster.

I have mixed feelings on this. I certainly agree that Judge Mahon had it largely right and that Air New Zealand covered up, and that the reprogramming of the aircraft was the main factor.

But I am not sure one can go from that, to say the pilots had no responsibility. They were flying at a very low height in fog, and this was not a great idea, even if one is relying on the computer.

It has always seemed to me to be the combination of the Air NZ computer fault and the pilot’s decision to fly low in fog which cuased the crash. Trying to say it is all due to one side or the other 25 years on is fairly pointless.

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It is now Government policy to lie

November 28th, 2004 at 9:36 pm by David Farrar

As at midnight tonight, we are now okay to lie according to the Government.

Labour and the Greens have passed an Orwellian law that doesn’t wipe criminal records but legalises lying by stating “An eligible individual may answer a question asked of him or her about his or her criminal record by stating that he or she has no criminal record”.

Even better there is a $10,000 fine if you ask someone if they have a criminal record that is covered by the clean slate scheme. This even includes for example political parties, so no longer can a political party ask a potential candidate to disclose all their criminal offending.

I have some sympathy for the problems an old and minor conviction can cause people, but I think the vast majority of people and employers will look on old convictions in their context and judge accordingly. This law removes the right of people to be told the truth and encourages lying.

Luckily we have the Internet which remains immune to Government mandated lying, and I suspect that in time one will still be able to find out about old convictions merely by Googling someone’s name. As far as I can tell there is nothing at all in the law to prevent someone to enter into a web database the details as reported in the media of every conviction, as they occur.

UPDATE: Excellent press release from Stephen Franks on the issue.

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Death Threats

November 28th, 2004 at 9:08 pm by David Farrar

It is very sad that a few deranged individuals out there make death threats to MPs, the latest being to Tariana Turia. I’ve seen a few of them in my time and no MP deserves them, no not even Winston.

Some of them get quite graphic, mentioning children, stating they hope you gets AIDS etc. Definitely one of the least pleasant parts of the job.

However there is a responsibility on all sides to use moderate language, and it is quite unacceptable that the Maori Party’s Pita Sharples said “Maori are at war and will fight to the death if necessary” in reference to the foreshore issue.

Such extreme language fosters a climate of extremism and intolerance. And it encourages those out there who threaten violence from the other side.

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Reminders of 1989

November 28th, 2004 at 11:18 am by David Farrar

The situation in the Ukraine is reminding me of 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down, and freedom spread to country after country.

Ukraine is certainly far better off than Eastern Europe was under communist rule, but reading how journalists on Ukraine’s state-owned channel have rebelled saying they have had enough of “telling the government’s lies”.

A free media is an essential part of a free country.

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French Foreign Policy

November 28th, 2004 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

The Diplomad is becoming essential reading.

Their article called “In Praise of France” captures perfectly the French attitude, but also the hypocrisy about needing UN approval for certain actions.

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Too nice a day to be inside

November 27th, 2004 at 6:46 pm by David Farrar

Today was one of those days, when you love the fact you live in Wellington. As the sun heated up it was far too nice a day to actually stay inside and get through the growing backlog of work.

So a quick call to Miss Ten, who can always be relied on to also want an excuse not to work, and we head out to Otari-Wilton

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What in God’s name is a limited fast?

November 27th, 2004 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

NZPA has reported that a Tauranga pastor is going to go on a limited fast for 40 days to save society from evils that may result from the proposed civil union bill etc.

Now what the hell is a “limited fast” was my reaction. He explains he will not completely abstain from food, but would give up something for the 40-day period. Oh wow ho inspired.

Well if I was God, I would be rather upset at my pastor for his lack of diligence. This partial fast sounds like a diet, or just a way to avoid having to eat his brocolli every day. This is not going to save us from a lot of evils.

Could you imagine if the Church adopted this partial idea for everything? Instead of single people having to be celibate, we would only have to be partially celibate? Like we stay celibate during the day, and that will count. Or we don’t do any 69s for 40 days, and wow we are without sin.

Perhaps Pastor Trim could do what Bob Jones related a group of Indian fasters doing a few years ago. They fasted by relay – three of them taking eight hours each in turn. I think think they have been going for over a decade now.

Perhaps using the good Pastor’s ideas, gays can also be saved if they promise to be partially heterosexual for a few hours a day, or if they give up a certain type of same sex partner. Yeah promise only to sleep with clean shaven people and you are fine.

I think the only thing stupider than a “partial fast” is that someone thought it was newsworthy.

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Wanted: ACT MPs

November 27th, 2004 at 11:12 am by David Farrar

Rodney has a little problem with his list. If Prebble retires next year ACT will get another List MP to replace him. Now this is not a problem if it is another Kenneth Wang.

However the next list candidate is Paul King, and as reported Rodney has (sort of) talked him out of becoming an MP as he has a few umm business issues.

Trouble is next on the list is Owen Jennings who had a few business problems of his own when he was an MP. And after that is another ex MP Penny Webster. Personally I don’t think having ex MPs return is what ACT needs.

Down to No 14 and we have Andrew Davies whom I have never met, but from what I can tell of his writings he might be more comfortable in United Future (and the UF list gets scary when you start to go down it).

Next at No 15 is Dick Quax. Now that would be a good outcome – a Richard for a Richard.

So all Rodney has to do is convince Nos 11, 12, 13 and 14 to all say no when offered a place in Parliament – easy :-)

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New look for NZ Herald

November 27th, 2004 at 10:08 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald website has a new design, and it is an improvement. I’m glad they have kept the feature where if looking at one NZ news story, it lists the others on the right hand side. Makes it much easier to navigate than Stuff.

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Dangerous and bored

November 27th, 2004 at 9:44 am by David Farrar

There should be some law against David and Ben getting bored.

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Civil Unions etc

November 26th, 2004 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

Well the Civil Unions debate is heating up again.

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I was one of the many who paid for and signed the advert last Sunday. I was on the left hand column near the bottom. I respect that not everyone sees the bill as a good thing, but I see it as a step forward, not a step back.

No Right Turn has a useful list of swinging MPs on the issue. I know of at least one MP who voted against at first reading who will vote for at the next reading. But to counter that Stephen Franks looks set to reverse his initial vote in favour.

A group of “committed Christians” have set up an anti CUB website. These people are not actually against just CUBs but same sex relationships fullstop. They seem to want gay relationships made illegal again. Read them and weep.

However I do agree with Stephen Franks that Jacquie Grant should be removed from the Human Rights Review Tribunal after she e-mailed the above group to say “Rest assured you will be taken to task at every opportunity for hate crime”. This is a direct threat related to her role on that body. It is inexcusable, no matter how strongly you loathe the views of the group quoted.

And this indicates exactly why one should not have laws to ban “hate speech”.

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National backs Super Fund

November 26th, 2004 at 10:36 am by David Farrar

The media are reporting that the National Caucus has decided not to abolish the Government’s Superannuation Fund, when it is in Government.

Personally, if I was a member of the Caucus, I would have voted the other way. I do not believe that having the Government build up a $50 billion fund is a great idea as it will give the Government indirect control of a huge portion of our economy, and also that the key to future sustainability is increasing NZ’s GDP faster, not a fund which will only cover 15% of the future cost.

Having said that, it is not that the Fund is a bad thing per se. It is not the best use of surpuses, but neither is partial pre-funding without some merits. And it does avoid the dishonest scare tactics that National is going to steal $10 billion off pensioners and give it all to Sir Michael Fay, which no doubt Labour were going to push.

What I would caution people, is not to think that what now appears to be the guaranteed continuance of the Super Fund, means that they should not save for their retirement. The current Superannuation scheme is not sustainable with or without the fund as our population ages. Regardless of which party is in office, it is inevitable the age of eligibility will increase. And if one wants a comfortable retirement, you should have private savings to top up the state scheme anyway. Those over 45 are fine, but if you are under 45 you should start saving or investing (property especially is good) now.

Incidentially I think it is ridiculous that superannuation is not means tested. But this is about as popular with Grey Power as free seminars from Dr Kevorkian, and is unlikely to be ever changed.

One bright side is that when National is in Government, John Key will be Minister of Finance. John used to be head of global currency for Merrill Lynch and was reputed to be amongst the best in the world at making money from investments. So when John is Minister of Finance, he should sack the Board of the Super Fund, and just invest it all himself as he sees fit. I reckon he’d have a good chance of doubling it within six years :-)

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Criminal earns $143 an hour

November 26th, 2004 at 10:11 am by David Farrar

This is just so stupid. A rotorua teenager refuses to pay his fines because he “hates the Police” so the judge lets him off $43,000 of fines in return for a mere 300 hours of community work. So effectively paying him $143 an hour for community work.

The teenager in question has said he did have money but he just chose not to use it paying off his fines.

Here is what Judge Farrar would have decided:

“Your fines are not an option. They are an obligation for your offending. They have just been increased to $45,000. Also this court is seizing all your assets to start paying them off, and putting a lieu on your future income. And on top of that you are also being given 500 hours of community service being five hours every Saturday and Sunday for a year. And if you don’t finish them, you will be going to jail, and if you drive whiule disqualified once more you will also be going to jail and I will ban you from driving for the next twenty years”

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Ahmed Zaoui wins again

November 26th, 2004 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

One must respect that the talanted Deborah Manning and co have had a huge number of wins against the Government in the Ahmed Zaoui case. I’d rather not be paying for it, but as an advocate she has done amazingly well.

As most will know, the Supreme Court has ruled Zaoui can apply for bail, and to stop further “oppressive” delays have said they will hear the application themselves. It is inevitable he will be granted bail.

I actually don’t think this is a bad outcome, even though I do actually think he should be deported and not given refugee status. I’ll explain.

I think Zaoui is ineligible for refugee status on the simple grounds he has multiple criminal convictions overseas. Regardless of terrorist links, that is enough to deny him entry. And there are dozens of countries he could go and live in, without having to return to Algeria. He has voluntarily chosen to leave several perfectly good countries.

I do believe that he had some logistical involement in terrorist groups. Not direct involvement in killing people, but providing things like forged documents which he seems to specialise in.

Now in the NZ context, I do not think he provides a particular threat to our security. He is not going to go and set up a group to start blowing things up in NZ. Having him out on bail is not going to be a threat to anyone.

The problem for the Government is this is the first time a security certificate has been issued, and no-one thought it would take two years to get a final decision. Thus the statute did not allow for release until a final decision is made. The Supreme Court has basically said well there is a common law right to bail regardless.

So as I said I hope that eventually Zaoui is not allowed to stay, simply because he voluntarily left perfectly good other countries to come here and he does have multiple convictions. But I do not think two years in jail awaiting a decision is a great look (even noting he can end it at any time be leaving NZ) and hell we have far far worse people walking the streets thanks to Labour’s early parole laws.

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Car Crash photos

November 25th, 2004 at 8:54 pm by David Farrar

Driving along Bowen Street I could not fail to notice that a car had not only driven off the road, but had somehow driven up a near vertical bank and wedged itself between the bank and a lamppost.

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As one can see such a feat would be damn difficult to do, even if trying on purpose.

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The car occupants were incredibly lucky they actually wedged into the post. If the post had not been there they would have probally rolled over several times onto the busy road. Or if they had hit the post head on it would have been messy.

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The driver and passenger were not too badly injured, and could walk afterwards. The Police said they suspected they had been involved with some reports of cars being broken into earlier in the day, even though this car was not reported stolen itself. There was also a beer bottle on the road which had fallen out of the car, so I suspect the driver does not have happy days ahead. At least he is alive!
(more…)

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Radio Ratings

November 25th, 2004 at 10:04 am by David Farrar

Paul Holmes may be off TV, but he is increasing his radio ratings. I am not surprised as I have always thought Holmes is far better on radio.

Radio Pacific has spent a huge amount of money promoting Michael Laws’ talkback show, and they must be devastated that his ratings have halfed to 2.3% – a rating around one sixth of the guy he promised to beat – Leighton Smith.

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Maori seats

November 25th, 2004 at 9:17 am by David Farrar

Few were surprised that National has announced it will not stand candidates in the seven Maori seats next year.

This is of course really the only decision one could make, after deciding earlier on a policy to abolish the seats, which were only meant to be temporary when established.

ALso as I blogged in March, one can hardly claim they are necessary because of Maori under-representation in Parliament, as in reality there are 40% more Maori in Parliament than their share of the adult population. And that doesn’t include Clem Simich or David Cunliffe :-)

The stats are slightly changed now Donna has been evicted, but not significantly. Just down to 19 MPs now.

In the NZ Herald story on the issue, they also report that the latest polls show Labour will lose every Maori seat except Tamihere and Mahuta.

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Pickled Kittens

November 24th, 2004 at 10:49 pm by David Farrar

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

A woman who was furious about police taking her three preserved snakes stormed down to the Hamilton station and threw a jar of pickled kittens at the counter.

Susan Hoskyn, 39, said she was so mad she could barely contain herself as she made her way to the police station about 1pm on Sunday.

“I walked in the door and said ‘You’ve taken my snakes; here, have my pussy as well’, and slammed the jar on to the counter.”

The full story is in the Waikato Times. What do they put in the water in Hamilton?

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I want heads!

November 24th, 2004 at 3:39 pm by David Farrar

Heads should roll for this.

Dog Biting Men has posted extracts from the NCEA Economics Exam. To quote one:

“Explain why using ‘free market’ policies causes income inequality.”

This is outraegous. For a state exam to take what is a highly controversial nad politically divisive opinion and state it as a fact, is not acceptable.

Hey if this is the standard of our school system, then why not let me set some questions, such as:

“Explain how Helen Clark keeps avoiding being charged for breaking the law”

“Describe why ‘socialist’ policies are a failure throughout the world”

“Discuss why the peace movement has been wrong on almost every issue for the last 50 years”

I would not object if the question was “Discuss the effects of free market policies on income inequality”, but to have a state exam actually state an opinion as fact is almost Orwellian.

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SIS scandal gets murkier

November 24th, 2004 at 2:43 pm by David Farrar

The SIS scandal is getting murkier. The NZ Herald has done some good investigations and revealed that it believes one of the three alleged spies who claim the SIS has been breaking the law is Jack Sanders, who is of all things a former Labour Party candidate.

Mr Sanders appears to be involved in even more conspiracy stories than former Labour Party President Bob “the CIA murdered Norman Kirk” Harvey.

The SST journalist is standing by his story.

I blogged that there were reasons to be wary of the allegations, but that one still needed an inquiry. I stand by that, as we need the allegations debunked (and those responsible exposed) or if correct, exposed.

It is interesting that every party in Parliament except Labour have backed an inquiry. I am surprised that none of the Labour Party bloggers have commented on this issue, choosing to ignore it. Could you imagine their howls of outrage and coverup if Labour was not the Government, and National had responded to the allegations as Clark has done?

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Stupid Latins

November 24th, 2004 at 2:07 pm by David Farrar

As many would have read, President Bush had to rescue one of his secret service agents from the idiots which make up Chilean security.

This will probably put his approval rating at home up by 5% or more.

The US Secret Service plan presidential trips down to the last detail. There are no vague areas. When Clinton came for APEC, we had visits from them over a year beforehand.

The Chileans were, to be blunt, being hot headed Latins who think that protecting people is some sort of game of oneupmanship. It was obviously totally deliberate, pre-planned, and stupid.

The Secret Service are required by law to be with the President, no matter where he is in the world. Their job is to block the bullet if need be. The Chileans would have agreed to this well in advance of APEC and to renege on their word is shameful. Their local media should be attacking their own Government, not Bush for doing the sensible thing and using his authority to directly intervene.

Rather ironic that the Chilean security officials were trying to be macho and assert their authority, and instead they just ended up looking like idiots.

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