Archive for June, 2006

Air NZ Premier Business Class

June 30th, 2006 at 5:05 pm by David Farrar

Ok well I just experienced the new “Premier Business” class on an Air NZ 747 and I have to say I am definitely impressed.

The TV screens are massive compared to most airlines. Really good for movies. And now they finally have a fully interactive entertainment system (Singapore Air has had one for years) you can pause movies for meals etc.

The privacy screens really do make it much nicer, and the fold-out to a bed works very easily.

The only small problem was hard to see out a window without turning the head around. But if you are lying down you get an excellent view.

I’d rank Air NZ cattle class 2/10, the old business class 6/10, the old first class 7/10 and this new premium business probably a 9/10. I haven’t tried the new premium economy class but it looks to be 5/10 – close to the old business class.

Am at the resort hotel and it is superb. All the rooms and paths are in native trees, next to the beach and a huge swimming pool with an adjourning bar. Mike M picked me up from Cairns and we had a great drive over Captain Cook Highway in his jeep.

Catching up with Stats Girl tonight, and tomorrow heading into the Daintree and up to Point Tribulation. All good. Hence very little blogging except maybe very early or late in the day.

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Darnton vs Clark

June 29th, 2006 at 5:57 pm by David Farrar

A lawsuit has been filed today against Helen Clark and the other 48 Labour MPs (as at August 2005) in relations to their use of taxpayer funding for their 2005 election pledge cards.

The lawsuit claims the expenditure on the production and distribution of the pledge card and related brochure was a breach of Article 4 of the Bill of Rights 1688, section 22(c) of the Constitution Act 1986 s.22(c) and multiple sections of the Public Finance Act 1989.

A high court lawsuit is not a cheap affair, and the lawyers and parties involved would not be undertaking this without a very reasonable belief they can succeed. It will be a fascinating legal battle, somewhat reminiscent of Fitzgerald vs Muldoon 1976 (which Muldoon lost).

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Telco Bill passes 1st reading 117-2

June 29th, 2006 at 4:02 pm by David Farrar

The Government’s Telecommunications Amendment Act has just passed its first reading by 117-2. Good.

Cunliffe’s speech is here. Also PR from InternetNZ.

It has been referred to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, not the Commerce Committee as I expected. Commerce has only three parties on it while FE has six or seven parties so will be an interesting committee process.

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Southpark complaints rejected

June 29th, 2006 at 3:53 pm by David Farrar

Yay. Just read (not online yet) that the BSA has rejected all the complaints against the “Bloody Mary” episode of Southpark.

“The BSA acknowledged the degree of offence taken from this episode, noting that the broadcaster later undertook not to screen the episode again. But the Authority held that the broadcast of the overtly satirical programme, while clearly distasteful to the complainants, was protected by the Bill Of Rights Act 1990.”

They get it exactly right when they say:

Were the Authority to uphold the complaint, this would amount to a statement that broadcasters who offer satire, humour and drama _ may not offend against the religious convictions of others_That, in the view of the Authority, would be an unreasonable limitation of a broadcaster’s right to free speech, which includes the right to satirise religious issues.

It would have been an awful precedent if they had upheld the complaints. I’m very pleased with the BSA for this.

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Auckland Evenings

June 29th, 2006 at 3:03 pm by David Farrar

On Tuesday evening I caught up with Brian , an old Usenet friend, and Peter Cresswell, and a couple of other Libz. Hadn’t met Peter before so was good to finally meet.

Wednesday saw me drinking cocktails with a gaggle of barristers. It started off as a celebratory cocktail with Jordan and InternetNZ’s barrister to celebrate the Telecom separation announcement, and then we met some other barristers and suddenly many cocktails later it was 930 pm and hadn’t had dinner. Finally had chicken soup in my hotel room, but it was too late to prevent a small hangover.

Have to get up at 3.30 am tomorrow to make 630 am flight to Cairns, so an early night tonight.

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Long Term Fiscal Forecast for NZ

June 29th, 2006 at 2:21 pm by David Farrar

Treasury has done a 40 year out fiscal forecast, and not surprisingly it finds that the ageing population will lead to health and superannuation costs exceeding our projected income.

Some on the left are saying this is why we should not have tax cuts today, because in 25 years one may have to start increasing taxes. I personally reject a strategy based on constantly increasing tax rates as our population gets older.

On the income side, even a 0.5% annual increase in average GDP growth will make a big difference to future surpluses. A focus on lifting economic performance is vital.

For superannuation, I have no doubt the the superannuation eligibility age will over time increase from 65, and this will reduce costs. Even Dr Cullen has hinted that this is a legitimate future option.

Personally I would also means test superannuation as it is ridiculous to pay a pension to multi-millionaires. But there is no chance politically of this happening.

Health costs are more difficult. For 15 years all Governments have shied away from defining what health services will be publicly funded and what won’t be. No-one wants people dying early because they can’t afford an operation, but can we afford as a society to say fund liver transplants for 109 year olds so they make 111?

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Progressive Staffing

June 29th, 2006 at 10:23 am by David Farrar

A posting by Lindsay Mitchell about how Matt Robson has predicted both the date and result of the next election reminded me of a most curious entry in the NZ Government Directory published after the last election.

They list key staff in Minister’s offices, and Jim Anderton had a staffer whose job was listed as Caucus Secretary.

This is remarkable for a party of one. Does he just sit in a room and take notes of Jim speaking to himself?

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Sharples praised

June 29th, 2006 at 9:28 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post praises Pita Sharples for his actions in the Kahui twins killing, noting he has not just wring his hands in despair, but willingly got his hands dirty trying to help.

I have to agree with the praise of Sharples. Nice to see some real leadership.

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Babies in Jail

June 29th, 2006 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

Interesting to note that every party in Parliament voted for Sue Bradford’s bill allowing mothers in prison to keep their babies with them until they turn two.

Possibly this is because, like me, they have no idea what is the correct age.

I have no idea whether seperation at birth, at six months or two years is better. This is one issue where I’d be guided by some good research.

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13 years is not enough

June 28th, 2006 at 3:40 pm by David Farrar

13 years is not enough for Jarred Hutchison who was found guilty of 51 charges of sexual violation, 24 charges of rape and 16 charges of making objectionable material.

With parole he could be out in nine years.

I know sentencing is not cumulative but still for 91 serious offences, he should serve longer than two months per rape or violation. Over six years he not only raped a little girl, but he filmed himself doing it.

This is a classic contender for preventative detention where the burden will be on Hutchison to prove he is safe before he is released.

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Views galore on Kahui deaths

June 28th, 2006 at 12:31 pm by David Farrar

It is natural when faced with not only the tragic killing of infant twins, but also a family who seemed to have adopted a mafia type vow of silence not to let any one be held accountable, that people ask how does this happen, that a family gets like this?

New blogger Patrick Dunford looks at the much lower rate of Pacific Island child abuse, and wonders if their religious faith and family based social structures explain part of that.

No Right Turn makes the unpopular but correct observation that the Kahui family are not legally obliged to co-operate with the Police. However actions have consequences and if they choose to take a mafia type vow of silence to protect the family, they will face public odium and pressure for that choice.

Parekura Horomia, Pita Sharples and Ron Mark have all called for the Police to “take” family members in for questioning and/or obstruction of justice. The family incidentally need to be careful about the difference between refusing to say anything (which they can do) and all agreeing to a line of they don’t know who did it (which would probably qualify as conspiracy to commit perjury or something).

The Counties Manukau’s police commander has stated there is an element of hypocrisy to Maori and Pacific Island cultures that promote aroha (love) and whanau (family).

Alan Duff refers to the once were warriors culture in the Kahui family which saw an adult passed out from alcohol at seven pm, when Pita Sharples called, and says the answer is “We’ve got to instil values.”

John Minto says “society is to blame” for the death of the twins. He claims Maori in our low income communities have seen their standard of living plummet in two decades, and this is to blame. The interesting thing is that while I don’t have figures right back to 1986 on hand, I have sourced some data for more recent years. A Treasury papers says from 1991 to 1996 Maori incomes increased. The Stats NZ income data shows average income for Maori increased 24% from June 2001 to June 2005 (identical to NZ increase of 25%).

And finally a Labour Department study of the years 1997 to 2003 found that the 22% increase in Maori income was higher than that of any other ethnic group (including European). I wonder with the Mintos of the world if there is anything at all they don’t blame on society?

Bruce Logan says family values help prevent abuse, lamenting that “Sex and marriage used to be about the birth and nurturing of children and social order. Now sex is about the acceptance of behaviour which is of no concern to anyone other than the consenting adults involved.” I agree with Logan that family values are crucial, but I don’t see that has much to do with consensual pre-marital sex. Family values are about having a work ethic in a family, valuing education, being prepared to put you child’s needs over your own etc etc.

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro says the repeal if Section 59 is “a fundamental and necessary step to ensure that children in New Zealand grow up in safe and secure environments.” I will blog later on about the stupidity of the Section 59 repeal advocates in trying to link child murders to Section 59 in this way.

Dover Samuels has said “Some Maori leaders are covering up child abuse under the pretence that the violence is part of their culture”

As for my personal view, well the thing that struck me is how 11 out of 12 adults in that family are on benefits. With the lowest unemployment in the world there is just no legitimate excuse for that, and such a culture of non work would be an awful environment for bringing up a family.

This isn’t an argument against welfare per se. Far from it. I have friends who are solo mums or on the invalids benefit who are or will be great parents and they are using the welfare system in the way it is designed. But it was never designed to have 11 able bodied adults to be able to spend most of their day sitting at home getting pissed by 7 pm, while no one notices the kids being killed.

Perhaps CYPFS should not just be reactive to complaints, but be funded so it can be pro-active to identify at risk families such as this one, and intervene before it it too late? Maybe one needs agencies to share data to identify “profiles” such as over-crowded homes or more than x number of people on a benefit. People don’t like profiling, but waiting for the children to turn up dead isn’t a great alternative.

Sadly at the end of the day while there are many factors such as culture, poverty, family values, education etc there are no easy fixes. And regardless of all of the above, we should never let “factors” divert us from the fact that anyone who kills a child like this is quite amoral or evil, and those who cover it up are also evil. All (well bar sociopaths or severely retarded) human beings have the ability to know right from wrong when it is as basic as this.

UPDATE: Jordan has taken offence (well as much offence as you can when he is sitting next to me) at my last few paras. But he is reading things into what I said. I was very careful not to say benefits kill kids. In fact I specifically went out of my way to talk about my positive experiences with benefits helping people. What I was saying is that 11/12 adults on a benefit is an unhealthy environment.

I did not say the solution is to cut off their benefits. I raised it in the context of whether extremely high levels of benefit dependency may be an indicator of concern for child welfare. It’s one of the problems the left often has – that they feel any discussion of benefit dependency is an attack on the entire welfare system. And it needn’t be.

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Technology Benefits

June 28th, 2006 at 11:46 am by David Farrar

Just had an amusing case of passing a message along electronically at the Telco conference I am at.

A journalist wanted to take a photo outside of the guest speaker from British Telecom but didn’t want to be disruptive by going up the front to ask him. So he IMs me to ask if I could text message a colleague sitting next to the BT speaker, asking him to show this message to the person on his right asking if he could come outside for a photo. Thanks to silent ring modes, it got through, saw the cell phone get handed over to the BT speaker, and IM’d back to the journalist that he would be outside shortly for the photo.

A small thing, but quite amusing for some reason.

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Request to NZPA

June 28th, 2006 at 11:08 am by David Farrar

NZPA provide an excellent service reporting on the House and select committees – they have to cover even the boring parts as the sort of media source of record.

But of late I’ve noticed they don’t always report the vote numbers, when it is a split vote. And this is of considerable interest. Even better would be to report the way each party voted, if this is not obvious from the vote numbers.

As an example the bill which will place a time limit on historical Treaty claims passed its first reading last night. But the NZPA reports do not say who voted for and against it. I’d guess 111 votes in favour and 10 votes against but would like to know for sure.

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Congratulations Michael and Chaucey

June 28th, 2006 at 10:40 am by David Farrar

Big congratulations to Chaucey and Michael, who are expecting a baby on the 2nd of January!

I can recall when they first met – Michael being an ACT staffer, and Chaucey a Young Nat. Incidentially they are the second ACT-National (when they got together) couple to announce a preganancy this month. All looking good for the 2026 election!

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Beer Tours

June 28th, 2006 at 9:07 am by David Farrar

An excellent new service for tourists (or locals) are Wild About Wellington’s Boutique Beer Tasting Tour.

One can do either a two hour brunch tour or a three hour evening tour, guided by beer expert Neil Miller. The tours start next to Mac’s Brewey at Te Papa and finish up at the Railway Station (as driving afterwards is not recommended).

Much more fun than going to the zoo!

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Funeral Arrangements

June 28th, 2006 at 7:25 am by David Farrar

InternetNZ has a copy of the funeral arrangement notices which appeared in the Dominion Post yesterday for the funerals of Liz Dengate Thrush, Gavin Thrush, Ron Thrush and Heather Taylor.

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Balance

June 27th, 2006 at 10:08 pm by David Farrar

One or two of the leftie blogs out there have been whining about how I have somehow become nastier or loonier of late, or just a partisan hack basically.

I find this fairly amusing, as the feedback I get from what I would call non-aligned people is that they enjoy the blog because it isn’t just a rah rah National good Labour evil blog. I mean make no mistake of course I am a National supporter and a critic of the Government, but I do praise the Govt when they do good things.

I just took a look back at the blog over the last week, and I have postings on:

– how business massively supports the Government’s telecommunications package

– how the Current Account Deficit generally isn’t the fault of the Government-

– favourably quoted Cullen’s wit in the House

– defended the Government’s proposed Immigration changes

– defended the Government on their handling of Ali deportation

I’ve even been known to praise Winston from time to time when he does something good!

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Telecom to split

June 27th, 2006 at 4:32 pm by David Farrar

A few minutes ago Telecom have announced they are going to separate their wholesale and retail operations.

This is an excellent step – probably more important than all the regulation which is a last resort. How-ever it does depend on how far they go with a split. It should be at least as far as British Telecom with a separate board. Personally I’d prefer a full structural split into different companies.

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Corruption Multiplied

June 27th, 2006 at 8:40 am by David Farrar

As I am unlikely to ever work for MFAT, or be Foreign Affairs Minister, I can be blunt and honestly say that most Pacific Island Governments are absolutely corrupt. This is no surprise to many, and in fact a leaked Australian memo once revealed that one particular Pacific Premier was known as Mr 10% because that was his standard cut of all contracts.

The corruption of said Governments is what leads to a lot of the conflicts and poverty.

So what does our Foreign Minister propose as a solution? Sending in the one organisation that is even more corrupt than the corrupt Governments – FIFA.

They’ll be able to swap notes on bribery and vote rigging!!

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Business opinion on LLU

June 27th, 2006 at 8:33 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post has a poll of Wellington businesses every two months. Being a poll of business owners they tend to support good centre-right policies such as lower taxation, reform the RMA etc.

How-ever one thing Labour has done they massively approve of. The Government’s decisions on local loop unbundling are supported by 86% of business with only 7% against. That is huge, and demonstrates how welcome the package is.

Now of course mere popularity alone is not a good reason to do something, but it does say something when you have such over-whelming support from the sector which is usually most oppossed to regulation.

Incidentially the Government introduce the Telecommunications Amendment Bill yesterday, which the Herald reports on here. I’ve not yet had time to do more than a quick read of it.

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Away for two weeks

June 26th, 2006 at 8:17 am by David Farrar

I’m going to be out of Wellington for two weeks from this afternoon. I’ve got an NZRS Board meeting this morning and then in Auckland this evening a meeting of InternetNZ‘s Structural Reform Taskforce followed by dinner.

Tomorrow in Auckland got a variety of meetings with people related to the proposed spam law, and some other issues. In the evening catching up with some Auckland friends.

Wednesday sees Day One of Tel Con 7, and then pretending to be nice to journalists in the evening :-)

Thursday is Day Two of Tel Con 7, and then a quiet night in. I may be popping back down to Wellington for a funeral, depending on the day it is held.

Friday sees me flying to Cairns and then driving to Port Douglas where I’ll be staying at the Radisson Treetops Resort.

In Port Douglas for a week, and fly back to Auckland and then Wellington on Friday July 7, just in time to see the final days of the Australs debating toiurnament.

As always, blogging frequency may be disrupted by travel, and of course the desire to be outdoors in 30 degree weather :-)

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A gender-neutral job evaluation tool

June 26th, 2006 at 6:19 am by David Farrar

What costs $121,000 and no-one knows what it does?

It’s a gender-neutral job evaluation tool, developed at $400 an hour on behalf of the taxpayer.

The gender-neutral job evaluation tool comes in the form of a 28-page draft document, which I am sure will be of great use to all those small and medium sized businesses out there waiting for this.

It will however go down well in the public sector, where this new tool will produce many memos and meetings to discuss how to implement it. A draft five year implementation strategy will be drawn up by a multi-agency working group.

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Wellington – the peace city?

June 26th, 2006 at 5:22 am by David Farrar

I can only agree with Cr John Morrison that the proposal to call Wellington “Peace CIty” is “dripping wet, bleeding heart dribble”.

It’s almost vomitous in its appeal. Hell it makes me want to pick up a gun and shoot any Councillor who votes for it. I mean, please, how patronising can you get.

Not that I am against peace per se. But Chamberlain was quite keen on peace in our time also, and doesn’t always work out that way. And the so called peace movement were diasasterously wrong with their advocacy of unilateral disarmament during the Soviet era.

This is patronising politically correct bullshit of the worst order. And it amazes me how this can be almost slipped through without consultation.

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Sideswipe gets political

June 26th, 2006 at 5:01 am by David Farrar

Sideswipe rarely covers politics, but today’s column covers the blogosphere debate over Tony Milne’s linking of murdered children to Section 59, and quotes Craig Ranapia at length.

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Bob the Builder profile

June 26th, 2006 at 4:56 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has a profile of the MP for Tauranga, which is a good read.

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