Archive for December, 2004

Paul Holmes crashes again

December 31st, 2004 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar

Paul Holmes has had another crash or forced landing. He seems to have a a jinx with flying as I can recall another plane crash and also a helicopter crash.

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Posting Policy

December 31st, 2004 at 11:38 am by David Farrar

1. Who has the right to post comments on this blog?

Apart from me, no-one at all has the right to post comments. Posting is a privilege, not a right.

2. Okay, so who is allowed to post comments here?

Anyone at all, up until the stage I ask them to stop. I welcome comments, and they add a lot of enjoyment to the blog for myself, and I am sure others. Advertising spam however is always unwelcome and is deleted and blacklisted on a regular basis.

3. Have you ever banned anyone from posting?

Only once. It is a last resort, not a first.

4. What is the easiest way to get banned?

To attack me personally. Quite simply it will not be tolerated. I welcome people to disagree with my views, to correct my errors, to debate what I assert, but if you attack my integrity, my character etc I

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A lovely Auckland day

December 31st, 2004 at 10:08 am by David Farrar

Auckland turned on great weather the two days I was there, with locals saying it was the first nice spell for ages. I spent only an hour at Borders, purchased seven books, and then went to Mission Bay for some swimming and sun bathing.

As I drove there I saw a sign for the Michael Joseph Savage memorial, and having never seen it before, took a small detour.

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The view from the memorial is even better than Massey Memorial in Wellington – harbour on all sides. It saddens me we no longer commemorate our PMs – something the US does so well with its former Presidents.

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The official plaque.

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And a view of the gardens they have there. I spent over an hour reading in the sun. I still prefer Massey Memorial in Wellington as it is less crowded, but those who haven’t been to the Savage memorial should pay it a visit.

Later in the day I went to a friend’s place where we watcched DVDs while having a few drinks. Unfortunately I did not realise that the vodka on the rocks had no mixers at all until we got onto the second bottle of vodka. Drinking two bottles of vodka, amongst three, with no mixers led to a very merry night. The teenage kids must have been getting annoyed as they were trying to watch the movie and the “adults” were having ice fights.

By a minor miracle I actually got up in time to leave by 7.00 a.m. for the drive back to Wellington which thanks to the early start only took seven hours. And generally kept within the tolerance zone of the speed limit.

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Toll reaches 125,000

December 31st, 2004 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

Wikipedia now has the death toll at 125,000. This is the highest toll in recorded history from a tsunami.

Over US$5 million has been donated through Amazon for those who have accounts there. That goes to the US Red Cross. You can donate to the NZ Red Cross by phoning 0900 31 100 or through almost any bank branch. The Government is matching donations so every dollar we give results in two dollars of assistance.

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New Years Honours

December 31st, 2004 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

The honours list is out.

Congratulations to all those honoured.

Without taking away anything from Jonathan Hunt’s record of service as an MP for 38 years, I am somewhat surprised that he was made a member of the Order of New Zealand, rather than a distinguished or principal companion of the NZ Order of Merit.

The ONZ is restricted to 20 living NZers, and is now full up until someone dies. The list of members is here and generally the only MPs in it are former PMs, with the exception of Mrs Tirikatene-Sullivan.

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David’s wedding

December 30th, 2004 at 9:52 pm by David Farrar

No, not me, but my ex-flatmate David Thompson.who married Penny on Monday. He flatted with me in Wellington when he started going out with Penny, so I took delight in telling people that Penny is the reason David left me :-)

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The wedding service was at the Maclaurin Chapel of Auckland University. You can see it in the background of this photo of Michelle and Mark who like me came up from Wellington for the wedding.

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It took a while for the bride to arrive. While we were waiting I loudly suggested someone should pass the plate around so we can pay a tithe to Destiny Church. Then Penny arrived looking gorgeous and the service commenced.

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The chapel is a lovely setting for a wedding, with a nice lawn and trees out the back.

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We then headed out to Devonport with the reception at Duders Restaurant, which is just two blocks from the Esplanade Hotel where I was staying. You can see above a photo of Auckland from the beach. I am told it was the first nice days for ages.

I’ve been to a few weddings, but this one was a highlight. David and Penny are two of the nicest people you could ever meet. In fact the best man explained that he had been totally unable to dig up dirt on David because he was a universally nice guy. The worst people had on Penny was she once beat up a boy at primary school because he was harrassing her (triplet) sister.

The worst I could provide was how David had just started going out with Penny and was keen to make a very good impression. He knew she was a Lord of the Rings fan, but didn’t know a hobbit from an orc. So he arranged for me and Michelle to give him a one hour tutorial on the Lord of the Rings so he could bluff Penny with his knowledge. We were very tempted to tell him that Lord of the Rings was a love story about two gay dwarfs called Frodo and Samwise, and watch the ensuring fallout but he was so dedicated with his copious note taking over an hour and a half, we didn’t have the heart.

A highlight of the speeches was David talking about the day he first told Penny that he wanted to go out with her, and she replied with those fatal words “I love you, but as a friend”. She conceded that there was a small possibility that she could consider going out with him, but then phoned him back the next day to tell him that by asking her out he had ruined the friendship, that the small possibility of dating was no possibility at all, and no means no no never.

Luckily for David and Penny (and for men generally) women have been known to change her minds, and two years later they are married!

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International Year of Microcredit

December 30th, 2004 at 4:20 pm by David Farrar

No that is not a typo. 2005 has been designated the International Year of Microcredit. My God they must be running short of causes.

Previous years have been somewhat decent with 2002 being Mountains, 2001 Volunteers, 1999 Older Persons, 1994 Family etc.

But microcredit? I didn’t even know what it was until I saw 2005 was they year of it.

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Bush wins Ohio!

December 30th, 2004 at 1:26 pm by David Farrar

While most people have accepted Bush was re-elected, there are a few loonies who have spent the last eight weeks with a variety of conspiracy theories.

In mid December they asked the Ohio State Supreme Court to delay the electoral college voters from voting for Bush.

The loonies, led by former Democratic presidential nominee Jesse Jackson, have proceeded with a recount in all 88 counties. They hoped that if the result changed, then the House which ratifies on Jan 6, could change the result.

Well the recounts have been finished and they show Bush’s majority in Ohio has shrunk – from 118,775 to 118,457. This is a 0.27% reduction in the majority.

Not that this will of course stop Scoop from continuing to ‘expose’ the stolen election.

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Surplus Forecasts

December 29th, 2004 at 9:29 pm by David Farrar

Jordan’s latest defence of the indefensible, namely the suggestion there is no money for tax cuts, is to say that the $6.5 billion surpluses we have had the last two years will not last, as the forecasts for future surpluses is lower, at around 3% of GDP.

Luckily when DEFU came out earlier this month, I was bored and went back through the last 12 forecasts to see how actual surpluses measure against forecasts. And as I suspected Treasury is very conservative and systematically forecasts surpluses much lower than reality. Taking just the last five years.

00/01 in the 2000 budget forecast was a $1.012B surplus. Ended up $2.107B
01/02 in the 2001 budget forecast was a $1.376B surplus. Ended up $2.751B
02/03 in the 2002 budget forecast was a $2.228B surplus. Ended up $5.580B
03/04 in the 2003 budget forecast was a $3.761B surplus. Ended up $6.629B
04/05 in the 2004 budget forecast was a $5.671B surplus. DEFU has it already at $6.467B and final outcome over DEFU is normally an extra $1.5B so may make $8B.

The forecasts for the next four years are $6.2B, $5.3B, $4.9B and $5.4B. Not at all small surpluses, and this takes account of all of Labour’s bribes. Now in the last four years the actual surpluses compared to budget have been at 208%. 200%, 244% and 176% so one could well have surpluses into the region of $8B to $10B.

Of course until Dr Cullen announces otherwise, we will still have these Chicken Little warnings of doom if we should actually give taxpayers any of their own money back.

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Boxing Day

December 29th, 2004 at 9:02 pm by David Farrar

It worked well being in Bulls/Marton on Xmas Day, as I beat all the normal Boxing Day traffic north and made Hamilton from Bulls in four hours.

Spent most of day with Ten and family. Had to excuse myself for a couple of hours to remove 200 spams from the blog that were my xmas present from the illegal drug dealers. I really think I would literally kneecap a spammer if I met one in real life.

Made effort to get on well with Ten’s parents after last time turning up with only an hour’s notice at midnight. Later informed that her parents like me too much, so I am banned from future visits :-)

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Around the blogs

December 29th, 2004 at 7:18 pm by David Farrar

Most bloggers are on holiday, but a few are still going. The Whig has some good stuff, namely:

* More pictures of the Whigette (whoi should visit Wellington more often!)
* A hilarious interview with Ann Coulter
* His annual awards (and not just because I get one of them) including a c**t of the year category. The blowing of some of his $8,000 payout on Eva from Showgirls sounds a good story.

Aaron Bhatnagar is back from his honeymoon, and also has some awards.

UPDATE: Reinventing TVNZ has an insightful piece on how TVNZ is now the establishment it once challenged.

Also we have Rodney Hide on how Government officials have agreed that tax cuts would add around $1.5 billion a year to the NZ economy.

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It just gets worse

December 29th, 2004 at 6:57 pm by David Farrar

The death toll has gone from 23,000 to 68,000 and is still rising. I was hoping the early estimates would be like those on September 11, which reduced from up to 50,000 dead to just 3,000 in the end. Instead these get worse every day.

I was in Phuket just over a year ago, and it was gorgeous. We were out on a super yacht off the coast for a few days, and it couldn’t have been better, However I doubt even the yacht we were on would have survived a 33 foot wave. Just a couple of years earlier I was also in the part of Sri Lanka that got hit hardest, so for me this isn’t some distant lands destroyed, but very real.

The earthquake which set this off was a magnitude 9.0 which is huge. In fact it seems the quake has permanently moved tectonic plates by as much as 98 feet, and also shifted islands near Sumatra. A magnitude 9.0 quake is 32 times more powerful as an 8.0 and 1000 times more powerful than a 7.0. This quake produced more energy than is consumed in the United States in one month.

Wikipedia has an exellent constantly updated article on the disaster, for those who like all the facts.

Remember you can donate $20 by ringing 0900 31 100.

Sadly some people still place politics above saving lives. Silent Running has the story of how The Vatican newspaper has “denounced a decision by the Israeli army to deny emergency help to disaster victims in Sri Lanka” yet the real story is that an Israeli plane carrying 80 tons of food and medical supplies worth $100,000 was set to depart for Sri Lanka but at the request of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry, a team of some 150 Israeli medical and security personnel aborted their planned trip. The Vatican should be ashamed for getting it so wrong.

UPDATE: A moving first hand account at Fighting Talk. Very lucky indeed.

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Mother Nature

December 28th, 2004 at 6:21 pm by David Farrar

Every so often Mother Nature reminds us that despite all our achievements, the forces of nature are incredible with their power. The Asian tsunami is now thought to have killed 23,000 people and has around two million homeless. The extent of human misery it has caused can not be calculated with mere statistics.

If people want to help make a difference, can I recommend you consider donating to the Red Cross. I worked for NZ Red Cross for four years and can testify what amazing things they can do, with not much money. Just one sanitation engineer can provide water for 50,000 water.

The nice thing about the Red Cross, unlike many other charities, is they do not deduct any of their administration costs from tagged donations. Not even the cost of doing a bank draft to Geneva. Everey single cent gets sent to the International Red Cross, and they also have seperate funding for their administrative costs, so they again spend every cent of your money actually in the field of the country you have donated to.

You can donate $20 by ringing 0900 31 100.

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Student Loans Scheme

December 28th, 2004 at 5:57 pm by David Farrar

There is an excellent article by Norman LaRocque in the NZ Herald.

He notes Te Mana Akonga has argued that the student loan scheme is having devastating effects by acting as a barrier to tertiary education participation and “fencing Maori out of better-paying jobs”.

Norman then points out the gap between rhetoric and reality, specifically:

* Maori students enrolled in formal tertiary education almost doubled between 1997 and 2003.
* The number of Maori completing qualifications in tertiary education almost doubled between 1997 and 2001.
* The number of Maori industry trainees grew by 60 per cent between December 2000 and June this year.
* The number of Maori students enrolled in private training establishments rose by 60 per cent between 1999 and 2003.
* Research has shown that the income returns to educational investments for Maori exceed those of non-Maori at all levels of education.
* The Maori unemployment rate, though still high relative to non-Maori, has dropped from more than 25 per cent in 1992 to 8.3 per cent.
* number of Maori in highly skilled employment grew by nearly 120 per cent between 1992 and 2003 – more than three times the growth in highly skilled non-Maori employment.

A very good demolition job which deals with the hysteria of Te Mana Akonga. Incvidentially I noted back in April that the percentage of Maori in tertiary education not only now matched non-Maori, but was almost twice the rate.

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A great Christmas Day

December 27th, 2004 at 10:04 pm by David Farrar

Christmas Day this year was one of the best ever, starting with me leaving Wellington at 8.00 a.m. and collapsing exhausted into bed in a motel in Bulls around midnight.

Normally Christmas Day is a fairly sedate affair with just my brother and parents, plus two or three nuns from the Home of Compassion Hospital where Dad used to work. We have no first cousins at all as Dad is an only child and Mum

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Merry Xmas

December 24th, 2004 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

For those few people even sadder than me, and are reading blogs today, have a happy day tomorrow and enjoy the break. My last post pre-Xmas post as have to go into town and give someone their presents!

I am up to Marton tomorrow for Xmas Day, to my sister-in-law’s family farm. We had our family Xmas dinner on Wednesday and I am still feasting on left over ham.

On Boxing Day I drive up to Hamilton, spending the night there and seeing friends.

Then on the 27th my ex-flatmate is getting married in Auckland so I will be in Auckland for around three days.

On probably the 29th I head back down south and expect to stay overnight possibly in Taupo. Come the 31st I have a wedding celebration to attend for two friends who not only are getting married on the 31st but it is also his birthday, while her birthday is on the 1st of Jan so it will be a triple celebration.

I will have my laptop with me when travelling so will still blog as and when I can. Probably more photos and less words than normal.

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NZ vs Australian Surpluses

December 24th, 2004 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

Jordan and I have been having quite a vigourous over the levels of the NZ Govt surplus and the Australian surplus.

I started it off here by noting we have a larger surplus than Australia, despite being one sixth their size, yet still get told no money for tax cuts.

Jordan responded with this post and I then responded with a comment on that post. Then Jordan posted again on the issue and so I am pulling the debate back to my blog!

First of all the Australian Operating Balance of $5.6 Billion is calculated in much the same way as the NZ Operating Balance. Our accounting standards are similiar (and with adoption of international financial standards will get even closer from 2007). The NZ Operating Balance last year was a whopping $7.4 Billion.

Now we also have an OBERAC which basically is the operating balance less one off changes and revaluations. It is basically the underlying surplus and is regarded as the best measure of the sustainability of revenue and expenditure. The OBERAC for last year was $6.6 Billion and is predicted to be $6.5 Billion for this year. This is still a huge proportion of overall crown revenue being 13.3% surplus compared to 2.8% in Australia.

One then has the issue of whether it is the operating balance or the cash balance which should be used as a measure of affordability. Well for the last ten years every Government has referred to the operating balance. In fact Labour themselves introduced OBERAC as an even better measure of the operating balance to see what the underlying surplus is.

It is *only* in the last couple of years as the surplus has gotten so large that it has been impossible to claim one can not afford to reduce the tax burden, that Labour has turned to the cash balance and argued that this determines what one can afford.

As I have said previously claiming we need a surplus so large that it not only funds all operating expenditure (which includes depreciation on capital expenditure) but also all new capital expenditure is just not credible. You fund capital expenditure through depreciation over the life-time of the asset.

Putting aside the $2 billion a year for the superannuation fund, and say a prudent surplus of 1% of GDP being another $1.5 billion, I estimate there is easily $3 billion available for tax relief.

As others have pointed out this is also overlooking the huge amount of wasteful expenditure that we read about every day, such as $120 million of community education scams. Just because the Government is spending more money does not mean it it all producing benefits for NZ. But we’ll try and estimate that another day.

So what could we do with $3 billion of tax reduction:

$585 million to lower business rate to 30%
$300 million to lower 33% personal rate to 30% (applies from $38K to $60K)
$600 million to increase the threshold for top rate from $60,000 to $100,000
$960 million to lower 21% tax rate to 18%
$480 million to lower 39% tax rate to 35%

It would vary a bit from this due to combinations of changing thresholds and rates, but not much. So we would have tax rates of:

15% up to $9,500
18% between $9,500 and $38,000
30% between $38,000 and $100,000
35% above 100,000
And company rate of 30%

That is the best Xmas present we could give New Zealanders!

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Saint Ruth

December 23rd, 2004 at 9:47 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn highlights an interview on Scoop (those people who started the fake SIS story, and think Bush stole not just the 2000 election but also 2004 and probably 2008 also) with some Don Brash stalker who calls himself a Brashologist. It really is hilarious and worth a read.

But what I enjoyed is NRT comparing Ruth Richardson to Satan. Personally I always think of Ruth as Saint Ruth because she did more than any other person to stop the NZ economy collapsing. People forget that the projected budget deficit in 1991 was a massive $5 billion and increasing. And debt was so high that a few years of deficits at that level would have had a permament vicious circle of interest on the debt making it impossible to get to a break even budget.

So Ruth did what had to be done to save the NZ economy, and she did it well. The deficit shrank, and after less than a year in office the economy turned around.

NRT and others go on about the awful benefit cuts. Well if they were so awful, why have Labour to this day refused to reverse them? Because they know deep down they were the right thing to do.

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DPF gets a promotion

December 23rd, 2004 at 9:25 pm by David Farrar

Early next year I will be taking a step up and be acting as Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Not unfortunately in real life, but for the purposes of a terror simulation exercise involving a number of blogs.

The main action I think will be in Australia where John Howard is handing over the reigns to Tim Blair. Now the rules of the exercise are that you play yourself (ie I do not have to pretend to be Helen Clark – for which we are both grateful) but that there has been no change of resources from the status quo. So if something happens which needs combat aircarft, then we are shit out of luck.

The fun will start very early next year. As I have a wedding celebration on New Years Eve I am hoping it will not be early on the 1st!

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Chicks and Guns

December 23rd, 2004 at 6:28 pm by David Farrar

For those like me who like photos of chicks, guns and uniforms, check out Risawn’s military blog where she is preparing to go to Kosovo. Three new photos.

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Four false declarations

December 23rd, 2004 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

I’ve now managed to get a hard copy of the White Report (shame on the Government for not having it online) and the 107 pages give far more detail than what has been reported.

What has struck me, and has been unreported, is that Tamihere is found to have made not one, not two but four false statutory declarations. They are:

His 1998/99 tax return
His 2000/01 tax return
His 1999 general election expenses return
His 2003 Ministerial declaration of interests and assets

Now people should consider how this fits in with Helen Clark saying he has done nothing wrong and has a strong future.

As I have said before I personally like John Tamihere and agree with a lot of what he has said. But John has a carelessness which borders on recklessness when it comes to certain things. One could say one or two wrong declarations was bad luck, but four of them? And from a Minister, MP and former CEO and lawyer?

When you combine this with the earlier court case over signing something he should not have, there is a pattern of behaviour.

I’ve had several people say they know Tamihere has done wrong, but because they like what he has to say, they don’t think the wrong doing is important. I can sympathise with that view, but can not agree. One can not have two standards of behaviour for MPs we like, and MPs we do not like.

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NZer elected to ICANN Board

December 23rd, 2004 at 12:43 am by David Farrar

Congratulations to Peter Dengate-Thrush, the immediate past president of InternetNZ, who has effectively just been elected as one of the 15 Directors of the Board of ICANN.

A ballot has just been concluded amongst country code managers (who have joined the country code supporting organisation of ICANN) for two members of the ICANN Board. The result needs to be ratified by the country code organisation council, but this is a formality.

ICANN sort of sets policy on which top level domains (.com, .info, .net etc) get created, who gets to run them, the operation of the root servers which the Internet basically runs on etc, so it has quite a significant role in Internet governance.

UPDATE: Press release from InternetNZ is now below.
(more…)

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The million dollar woman?

December 22nd, 2004 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

Reinventing TVNZ suggests Judy Bailey is actually getting around $1 million a year in terms of total package, not $800,000.

When the Government was whacking the Board with wet bus tickets, did they even ask how much the package actually was?

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Radio with Russell

December 22nd, 2004 at 6:56 am by David Farrar

Russell and I are talking about blogs on his 95bFM radio show at around 12.45 pm today.

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Why Gordy has slacked off

December 21st, 2004 at 10:57 pm by David Farrar

A number of people have lamented the reduced output from NZ Pundit in recent times.

A reading of this very amusing post, and comments, explains why he may have been distracted.

Romance is breaking out everywhere!

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