Archive for October, 2005

PM says no interference

October 31st, 2005 at 6:33 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ headline is: PM says clear no interference with TVNZ news

Well that clears that up. Oh and any TVNZ reporter who says otherwise will have their salary reviewed by the board :-)

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End of month stats

October 31st, 2005 at 6:27 pm by David Farrar

Yep another month gone. Send through your number of posts and comments for October 2005, and I’ll publish the usual summary tomorrow.

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Question Time Statistics

October 31st, 2005 at 3:04 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn has compiled statistics on which MPs ask the most primary questions in the House during question time. It’s useful to look at – I was unaware Bill English had asked the most for National.

However oral questions are a bad tool to judge how productive MPs are. If MPs don’t ask many oral questions, it is usually not for lack of trying. The larger parties meet every morning to decide what questions will be asked, and who asks them. And often you have MPs try day after day and week after week to get their pet question asked. However if their colleagues don’t agree it is a priority, then they don’t get the chance. Also even if there is an issue in someones portfolio area, it may be given to an MP more experienced in trapping Ministers.

So you can’t label someone an under-performer on the basis of their lack of oral questions.

A better measure in my opinion would be written questions. Written questions (and OIAs) are how MPs dig up issues and scandals in their portfolio area. No matter how obscure the portfolio, an MP should be continually firing off written questions relating to it. You get to know the portfolio much better, and you often get good material for a release.

UPDATE: NRT has now done stats (in excel) for written questions also. Very interesting.

The most prolific question asker over the last 2.5 years was Muriel Newman with 3929 followed by Tony Ryall on 2702 and Katherine Rich on 2414. Next is Rodney Hide on 2330 and Bill English on 1878. Four Opposition MPs asked no questions at all. Government MPs generally ask no questions, as if they want an answer to something they get it direct informally from the Minister’s Office.

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Runnymede

October 31st, 2005 at 1:21 pm by David Farrar

To the south-west of London, near Windsor, is a lovely little place called Runnymede.

run1.JPG

It should be known by all law students, at the minimum, as this field above is where King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta – which is part of NZ’s law today. It is regarded as the first foundation of constitutional law.
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OECD on Broadband

October 31st, 2005 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

In an unusual move the OECD has made a public statement refuting Telecom’s claims that the reason we have such low broadband uptake in NZ is because of free local calling.

The OECD has said the main factor in NZ is the lack of competition. Absolutely.

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Putting things in perspective

October 31st, 2005 at 8:24 am by David Farrar

I wasn’t going to blog on the Lewis Libby indictment because it is so difficult to have a sane conversation about it. However when I read hysterical nonsense in the NZ Herald headlined “Plamegate scandal could put Watergate in the shade” one can’t stay silent. The article actually comes from The Independent, which explains a lot.

So let’s deal with some myths and facts:

1) Contrary to popular belief, no-one at all has or is going to be charged with revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative. The original focus of the investigation has found no crime.

2) The prosecutor has made clear that in the main there has been full co-operation with his investigation from the White House. None of the Nixon cover-ups or the Clinton documents suddenly turning up months later.

3) However Libby himself is facing serious charges. This is not a case of merely forgetting a conversation or two, but a very deliberate pattern of misleading. Powerline says the indictment is devastating.

4) Libby is a senior WH official, but he is far from a household name like Rove was. As someone had commented, can anyone name Al Gore’s Chief of Staff?

Overall the indictment is obviously bad news for the Bush Administration. Having senior staff charged with perjury is never a good look. However it is a bit like the Whitewater investigation – Clinton was never charged with anything related to the original investigation, he was charged for lying. But in this case it is not the President but a staffer in the dock. And hence any comparisons with Watergate are fevered delusions of the anti Bush press.

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Even filmed criminals get away

October 31st, 2005 at 7:37 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald is collecting stories of crime where the Police don’t respond. Today’s is Keith Rankin who has camera footgae of people breaking into and stealing from his car, yet still no action.

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Transmission Gully Caucus

October 31st, 2005 at 7:21 am by David Farrar

To keep the pressure on the Government to fund Transmission Gully, three Wellington region based National MPs have launched a cross-party lobby group of MPs.

Despite other parties playing politics saying they support the aim, but won’t join, the main thing is that the vast majority of local MPs now seem to support Transmission Gully.

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More in Fraser’s resignation

October 31st, 2005 at 7:10 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has details on why Fraser resigned, and also mini CVs for the board members. Gonzo has his own views on the board members and whether they have business or political clout.

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Female geeks in the majority

October 30th, 2005 at 7:48 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Sci Fi UK TV channel has had a 10% increase in female viwers, and now has more female subscribers than male subcribers.

Buffy is to blame it seems!

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Article on PC

October 30th, 2005 at 7:37 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the NZ Herald has an article on the pros and cons of political correctness.

Supporters claim that PC has changed attitudes in good ways, so that “nigger” and “cripple” are no longer acceptable words to use. This is a fair point, and perhaps the debate should be about when this is taken to extremes (such as renaming maiden speeches) rather than all examples. The debate is not black and white but about shades of grey.

Some examples of PC, including from this blog, are given.

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Beyer’s Boss Boots Bill

October 30th, 2005 at 7:26 pm by David Farrar

Helen Clark has unilaterally decided that Georgina Beyer’s bill on transgender discrimination will not proceed. It would be amusing to see what would happen if Beyer bucked Clark and still submitted it into the ballot, as is her constitutional right.

Having said that, I wasn’t a fan of this bill, for reasons previously blogged.

No tag for this post.

Fraser resignation confirmed

October 30th, 2005 at 5:53 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reports that Ian Fraser has confirmed his resignation, saying he has lost confidence in the TVNZ Board. They talk of interference in operational issues, including news, and how it is more difficult as they are a politically appointed board. Sounds like a lot of details yet to come out.

UPDATE: NZ Herald has more from Fraser. Very damning for the Board.

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HoS on Manukia

October 30th, 2005 at 11:47 am by David Farrar

The HoS has said it is auditing all stories by former reporter John Manukia.

At this stage three other stories appear to have had fake interviews. A big difference though is the other three interviews involved a fabricated person. The one which caught him out is when he fabricated an interview with an actual person.

I wonder how long stories with made-up people interviewed may have gone on undetected, if he had not made upo the Solomona interview which was bound to be revealed as a fake. Do newsrooms check that people interviewed actually exist?

Again US newspapers employ fact checkers. Is such a role needed here to prevent journalists simply inventing people and interviewing them?

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No Epsom electoral petition

October 30th, 2005 at 11:37 am by David Farrar

Labour have announced they are not going to do an electoral petition in Epsom.

It is interesting to note that Labour are assisting Winston Peters with his electoral petition in Tauranga. I am amazed they are doing so, and can only assume it is part of a secret coalition, sorry executive government, deal.

I’ve chatted to many Labour people about Tauranga before the elction and they all agreed Peters losing was in the best interests of stable Government. Because a Peters without Tauranga would have no safety net, and hence be far less likely to play silly buggers and bring whomever is in Government down, as falling below 5% would mean oblivion.

Now I can not work out how on earth Labour can win by assisting the electoral petition. If it is sucessful then Clarkson will go and his replacement will be either Peters or the new National candidate (Labour have said they will not stand).

Now if National wins any by-election then all that has happened is an MP who can potentially embarass National (‘left testicle’) is replaced by one who won’t be as likely. And if Peters wins, then Labour will have a coalition partner who is far more likely to rock the boat as he has the security of a seat behind him.

Going back to Epsom, you can ignore what Williams says about Labour wanting Hide to stay in Parliament. As Rodney says, if this was the case Clark wouldn’t have told people to vote National to keep Hide out.

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Ian Fraser offers to resign

October 30th, 2005 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

The CEO of TVNZ, Ian Fraser, has offered his resignation to the TVNZ Board. So far they have declined, but it looks like it will happen this week.

If Fraser goes, Ralston will not be too far behind.

A bit of a pity because both men have done some very good things in journalism. Whether they were quite right for their current roles is another issue though.

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A stupid person

October 30th, 2005 at 11:14 am by David Farrar

Some idiot has tried to blackmail Cathy into shutting down her blog. Rather unsucessfully.

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West Wing

October 29th, 2005 at 4:43 pm by David Farrar

My God. Just watched the latest episode of West Wing (Series 7, Episode 5) and it is a stunning episode, Will go down as one of the all time great ones.

Even the sarky Television Without Pity reviewers have given it an A+.

There are major major spoilers in this episode, so if you are only watching the NZ screenings (which are around a year behind) then don’t read on.
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The many faces of John Campbell

October 29th, 2005 at 3:45 pm by David Farrar

Jose has put this lovely collection of photos together.

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UK Newspapers

October 29th, 2005 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

One of the great things about being in the UK was that they had almost a dozen daily national newspapers to choose from each day. In NZ we have basically no national daily newspaper, just a regional newspaper per city.

Every day at a minimum I would get The Times and the Daily Telegraph. Both had a good focus on politics and national news. The Financial Times also required reading.

Normally I would get the Guardian also, and The Independent. The latter was tiresome somewhat though with an obsession with Iraq.

When very bored I would also get the Mail, Mirror and the Express. The Scotsman was also a very good read I must say. Unlike in NZ when a lot of stories come centrally from NZPA, most stories are covered directly by each newspaper, so you get different perspectives on the same story.

Oh yes the Daily Star was an invaluable source of celebrity gossip and photos, but not much else.

It would be great to have true competition amongst daily newspapers here. The gallery teams tend to be competitive in terms of out-scooping each other, and the Sunday papers also work hard to make sure they have something worth reading. However at the end of the day the lack of competition is a bad thing. I much prefer the cities where you can choose from a leftie and rightie newspaper (New York Times vs Post) than having no choice.

The best summary of the UK newspapers though comes from the wonderful Yes Prime Minister:

Humphrey: […] The only way to understand the press is to remember that they pander to their readers’ prejudices.

Hacker: Don’t tell me about the press; I know exactly who reads the papers.
The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country.
The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country.
The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Financial Times is read by people who own the country.
The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country.
And the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think that it is.

Humphrey: Oh, and Prime Minister, what about people who read the Sun?

Bernard: Sun readers don’t care who runs the country as long as she’s got big tits.

Heh – indeed!

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Some trade progress

October 29th, 2005 at 9:39 am by David Farrar

Peter Mandelson appears to be rehabilitating himself nicely as EU Trade Commissioner. He has offered tariff cuts of up to 60%, to the dismay of Jacques Chirac who now seems to be the most protectionist politican in the world.

Hat Tip: Sage

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Pania

October 29th, 2005 at 9:21 am by David Farrar

Labour MP Russell Fairbrother is in full retreat from his call to raise a ransom for the return of the Pania statue.

I’d say Chris Tremain’s majority just got bigger.

I tend to agee that theft is probably just a prank gone wrong. I’d be searching any student flats if it had happened in Wellington!

Meanwhile David Slakc has compiled a list of suspects. Despite a rock solid alibi I am on the list!

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Agenda on John Manukia

October 29th, 2005 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

Simon Pound on Agenda has just done a story on what appears to be several more fake stories by John Manukia. I’ll link to the transcript when it is up.

The Herald on Sunday has a duty to do what other newspapers (such as the New York Times did) when they find a journalist has fabricated at least one story, and to do a full audit of all recent stories by that journalist. It reflects extremely badly on them that other media are doing this for them.

US newspapers employ a staff member purely as a fact checker, to verify key details of stories. This is not fool proof, but helps with accuracy. Do NZ media do this? Should they?

The Herald on Sunday needs to fess up tomorrow with the results of their own internal investigations into other stories by John Manukia. A continued silence will damage their credibility even further.

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The cost of high interest rates

October 29th, 2005 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Mortgage rates have just gone up to 9.3%, making them amongst the highest in the developed world. They may yet reach 10%.

Six years ago the average floating rate was 6.5%. Now for those without a mortgage, the difference may not be easy to relate to, so here are some statistics.

If you have a $300,000 mortgage, then extra interest compared to six years ago is $161 a week net.

Taking again the $300,000 mortgage, if you are repaying a fixed amount per week of $600, then you will pay your mortgage off in around 16 years at 6.5% interest.

At 9.3% interest, the mortgage will take 25 years to repay. And the extra repayments will come to around $280,000.

So that 2.8% extra interest rate can cost a family with a $300,000 mortgage around $280,000.

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Miers withdraws

October 28th, 2005 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination for the US Supreme Court.

The Democrats for once did the sensible thing and stayed quiet on this issue while the Bush nomination was savaged by his own supporters.

Some in the media try to simplistically portray it as the hard right being upset because she was not conservative enough. However in fact for many the issue was simply she was not qualified enough. Many thought she probably would vote ‘the right way’ but that supreme court justices need to be of the very highest calibre, and she wasn’t.

Ann Coulter is happy.

In some good news for Bush though, it looks like Karl Rove will not be indicted. They will be much relieved.

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