Archive for March, 2007

Well done Madam Speaker

March 28th, 2007 at 6:25 am by David Farrar

While the Government has been defending the eviction of a press gallery journalist from covering Chinese officials, the Speaker has stepped in and is usefully cutting through the spin.

Dr Cullen claimed that the journalist was at fault and was removed because he caused a disturbance. But footage shows he was evicted on instructions from a Chinese official.

The Speaker has said the incident disturbs her, and she will write to the Chinese Government to make it clear they can not be selective with media in attendance, and she will also meet the Police Commissioner to make sure they follow her instructions on press gallery accreditation and attendance, not a foreign Government’s.

This is good, and this should be the last time such an incident occurs.

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DPF now weekly on TV also

March 27th, 2007 at 10:55 pm by David Farrar

On top of my weekly slot with Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB every Tuesday (6.30 pm), I was thrilled to accept today an invitation to join Barry Soper and Jane Clifton every Monday on TV One at 11.30 am (part of the Good Morning show) to discuss politics.

The only downside is having makeup applied every week!

Incidentally, this week I did finally strike an issue on which I resisted the invitation to comment (never happened before I think!). NZPA asked me if I wanted to comment (in my InternetNZ role) on the DIA profile of the typical child pornography trader being an Auckland Pakeha, aged in his early 30s, who is a student or working in the IT industry.

There are some issues you really don’t want to be quoted as an industry expert on!

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March Day

March 27th, 2007 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

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March details for all centres are at this site.

Wellington leaves civic square at 12 pm for Parliament.

The official umbrella group for the march is the Coalition Against Nanny State’s Anti-Smacking Law (CANSAL).

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Caption Contest

March 27th, 2007 at 11:18 am by David Farrar

Juha is running a caption contest for a photo of Helen Clark meeting the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer.

There’s some great entries already.

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“child beaters”

March 27th, 2007 at 9:38 am by David Farrar

If one refers to those against the Clark/Bradford smacking ban as “child-beaters”, does that mean you believe 85% of New Zealanders are child beaters?

Also do people not realise that Sue Bradford’s bill no longer repeals Section 59? It in fact retains it, enlarges the number of grounds on which you can use reasonable force, yet removes it for correctional purposes only.

So the entire website linked to is ir-relevant and fraudulent. It is asking people to support a bill which will not do what they claim – it will not repeal section 59.

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Green policy on carbon credits and debits

March 27th, 2007 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

The Greens have released a policy on carbon, and my first reaction was that it didn’t seem too unreasonable.

Don’t get me wrong. It is still lacking even a basic cost benefit analysis. It targets reducing emissions without looking at other approaches. And it wants to use the money from carbon taxes to give back to low income families so they are not affected by fuel price increases (which partly defeats the point of any price increase which is to reduce demand). It is far from ideal. It puts the emphasis on Kyoto, which is in fact close to being an official failure.

But the target of a global integrated carbon trading system is good, They also recognise that forest owners should receive some benefits from the carbon they store. And their approach with agriculture seems moderate.

The Dom Post reports both Labour and National say there is some common ground with what the Greens propose. A multi-partisan approach is desirable.

No Right Turn has doubts over the policy though – especially the lack of a full international carbon market.

I would be interested to see some modelling of the policy – specifically what reduction in carbon emissions are expected under this policy, and what impact that will have on the average global temperature.

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Former crown prosecutor on Section 59

March 27th, 2007 at 7:38 am by David Farrar

Michele WIlkinson-Smith writes on Section 59 in the NZ Herald. She is a lawyer who has prosecuted and defended child abuse cases. She knows what she is talking about. Some extracts:

I say the repeal of section 59 is unnecessary because in my experience it is just that – unnecessary. I never lost a case which I prosecuted on the basis of section 59.

I drafted an indictment against a man who was convicted of smacking his 4-year-old son about five times on the backside with an open hand, leaving marks.

I think the jury convicted because the man smacked his boy too hard and because the boy was smacked not for a deliberate misdemeanour but because he soiled himself.

I prosecuted a man, a loving father, for using a belt on his mildly intellectually handicapped and very challenging teenage daughter after she damaged her bedroom.The jury were hugely sympathetic to the father but when I asked them in closing if they would not have intervened to stop the man had they been in the room at the time I knew they would find him guilty.

Of course there will be the occasional case where section 59 has excused parents who overstepped the mark, but these are not cases where a child has been thrashed or beaten or injured. I challenge anyone to find a case where section 59 has excused a real bashing that left a child injured.

Sue Bradford doesn’t trust the New Zealand public so I find it amazing that she has so much faith in both the police and the justice system.

She is proposing to give a huge amount of discretion to individual police officers.

She expects them to wisely ignore the letter of the law. They won’t. I know this and so does National MP Chester Borrows, with whom I worked and who was a superb, wise and compassionate detective sergeant.

The police may not, and I’m sure will not, prosecute every case of smacking, but they will be obliged to at least investigate – and therein is the harm. Picture this: a child at the centre of a custody battle comes back from an access visit. Mum questions the child: Did Daddy smack you? Has Daddy ever smacked you? The child says yes.

Mum takes the child to the police station. She is vocal and upset. “Investigate” sounds benign. It is not.

That child will be put through the evidential interview process. It’s not a process you want your child involved in. Dad will be asked to go to the police station to make a statement.

All this will probably be good for lawyers. Probably no charges will be laid, but the child and the family will have been through a traumatic and damaging experience.

The Government should forget party politics on this one. We are lucky to have an experienced former police officer, who also has a law degree, sitting in the House. He is saying, for many different reasons, don’t give the police this much discretion. He’s right, and we should listen to him.

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Electoral Act fiddling

March 27th, 2007 at 6:36 am by David Farrar

Bryce Edwards blogs on how Labour is doing secret deals over changes to the Electoral Act.

The Electoral Act is part of our constitution. It sets out the basic rules parties and candidates must operate under. Any attempt to ream through partisan change secretly agreed to by a few select parties should be met with massive resistance.

The suspicion is that having been caught illegally spending taxpayer money last election, they will seek to legalise it for this election by bringing in direct party funding, despite having no public mandate for it.

There are a lot of necessary changes to the Electoral Act. The fact only individuals not parties can be prosecuted needs to be remedied. The maximum fine has to increase from $4,000 to probably $1 million or so. These are issues hopefully all parties can agree on.

But we should be very very wary of these secret negotiations whose prime motivation is to change the electoral laws to benefit themselves. Any major partisan change should be an election commitment, so a mandate is gained for it.

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Inappropriate

March 27th, 2007 at 6:26 am by David Farrar

I was very vocal with my disapproval when the CYFS Watch blog published posts describing how someone wanted Sue Bradford assaulted.

By the same measure Jeremy Greenbrook-Held does himself a disservice when referring to NZ First Party President Dail Jones, he says “in fact, I can understand where Ambrose Tindall was coming from when he stabbed Jones with a screwdriver in 1980″.

Tindall, who was obsessed about a $15 traffic ticket, stabbed the then MP Jones in the chest, puncturing one of his lungs. It could easily have been fatal.

Jeremy’s empathising with the man who stabbed Jones is inappropriate to put it mildly. Especially considering the senior post he is about to step into.

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George W Bush is a smart man

March 27th, 2007 at 6:23 am by David Farrar

No that’s not (necessarily) my opinion, but the opinion of Helen Clark, nicely recorded for posterity’s sake by Whale Oil.

So no more portraying him as a dumb Texan people – Helen has spoken – he is both a smart man and a clever man.

To be fair, she may have been comparing him to her Caucus :-)

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Chinese Government tries to censor local press again

March 27th, 2007 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

One has little choice but to engage constructively with the Chinese Government. Apart from their size and power, they are a step above the former USSR in that their ambitions don’t stretch to a global empire etc.

But the incident yesterday in Wellington is a timely reminder that they are fundamentally an intolerant Government. They refused to take part in an official signing ceremony because they objected to a local Chinese journalist – an accredited member of the press gallery. Bad enough they suppress the media in their own country, but I really resent it when they try to do it here also.

The other thing i resent is their near total disregard for the truth, claiming the signing was delayed because the talks had gone on for longer than expected, when it was in fact their attempt to suppress the media. They have a culture where they are used to being able to lie, and not be held accountable for it.

So while I favour engagement and trade, we should never forget the nature of the beast we deal with.

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Telecom Yellow Pages sale

March 27th, 2007 at 5:46 am by David Farrar

Telecom looks to have got a reasonable price for its yellow pages sale – $2.24 billion.It will be interesting to see how much of that goes into capital investment – and will it be here or in Australia.

I do find it ironic that the new owner of our yellow pages business isn’t another telco or a known directory operator but instead the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Yep a group of Canadian teachers now effectively own it :-)

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Laws on Labtests debacle

March 26th, 2007 at 11:39 pm by David Farrar

Michael Laws actually makes some very valid points with regards to the Labtests debacle. To quote him in the SST:

… which was the most remarkable feature of Justice Asher’s High Court judgement last week. His clear and concise ruling condemned the three combined health boards that got it so wrong, but also, by implication, the Ministry of Health, the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit and other central government monitoring agencies that let them do so.

In fact, the Nats have yet to make the proper political connections. It was the Labour government who appointed the chairpersons of all these boards. It was the Labour government who put their own flunkies on – in addition to those elected – to make sure that these kind of stuff-ups didn’t happen. And it was central government bureaucrats who were supposed to ensure nothing bad occurred on the health minister’s watch.

Third, there are too many hospitals and health boards. This is Hodgson’s greatest failure. He is intent upon preserving the status quo for political, but not health, reasons. He is wrong. There should be a maximum of eight health boards and an aggregation of public hospitals.

Finally, there are complete dunderheads running our hospitals and health boards. In part, that is because there are too many health boards. Currently we have under-qualified chief executives and senior managers who do not possess the intellectual, commercial or political acumen to make good decisions.

The elected membership of health boards is not much better. Add the government-appointed board members – with the prerequisite PC nod to women and minorities – and the wonder is that there are not more Auckland Labtests disasters. Not less.

To be fair, central government knows this. They trust district health boards like the ICC trusts Pakistani cricket. So they have appointed a galaxy of public health bureaucrats to scrutinise and second-guess every DHB initiative. The scrutiny is suffocating.

Which is why the Labtests result is so embarrassing for this Labour government. They had their pilots on the bridge. They had their appointees in the key health board positions. They approved the awarding of the contract.

Their late attempt to cast Dr Bierre as the villain of the piece won’t wash. He did what every other DHB health professional does. He protected his back. He then protected his front as well.

All while his bureaucratic monitors slept on the job. And while Auckland’s health board officials slumbered with them. Unless Pete Hodgson demands their collective heads, then the only true casualty will be the minister’s reputation as a political fixer. Because the portfolio has just fixed him.

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Two polls and a back-down

March 26th, 2007 at 8:36 pm by David Farrar

First the back-down. The Government and the Greens have dropped their plans to ram the smacking ban bill through Parliament under urgency. I still expect it is likely the committee stage will be completed on Wednesday, but the third reading would not be until Wednesday 2 May.

The key though is the committee stage. Getting the Borrows, or similiar amendment passed will insert some rationality into the bill. In fact if the Borrows amendment was passed, I suspect there would be over 100 votes for the bill.

Now the two polls – both random scientific ones. The One News/Colmar Brunton poll found 83% support smacking and only 15% disagree. A Research NZ poll found 73% disagree with the bill and 72% thought it was unenforceable. The One News poll also found 78% did not think the bill would help abused children.

So this bill is massively opposed by New Zealanders, and in fact is opposed by a majority of MPs. The Borrows amendment will be defeated purely because Helen Clark will not allow Labour MPs a conscience vote on it.

For MPs like Darren Hughes and Steve Chadwick who have marginal seats, this bill may well see them lose their seats. And all because their leader won’t let them support a common sense amendment to make it clear a light smack won’t be a criminal offence.

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Bill Day

March 26th, 2007 at 8:23 pm by David Farrar

Just noticed that the Dom Post last week had a cool profile of Bill Day.

Bill is one of NZ’s leading entrepreneurs and the force behind Seaworks. Also one of the nicest people you can hope to meet.

Bill’s also Vice-Chair (the other one!) of the NZ Business Roundtable. That of course makes him an evil villain to some. Bill comments:

Convinced that it is promoting the best interests of New Zealand, he says the Roundtable cops a lot of flak, but mainly because it is right. “It is easier to demonise them than argue with them. Having a reasoned debate with them is bloody hard, because their research is so good.”

We’ve just seen this of course last week with the CIS study of the extra $20 billion spending. Lots of demonising the author and publisher and next to zero actual debating the facts.

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Turning in his grave?

March 26th, 2007 at 9:34 am by David Farrar

Guess who said all the following:

17 Sep 1998 – “however one of the worst of old traditions still hanging on is abuse of urgency procedure.”

21 Dec 2001 – “Urgency should only be used for matters which are genuinely urgent, The only exception is that from time to time we have considered – and will continue to consider – approaches for extra sitting hours, and then only for one stage of a bill at a time.”

12 Jun 2002 – “We all know that urgency leads to bad legislation. It often leads to amendment bills to fix up mistakes that have happened because the original bill has been rushed through. We also know that Standing Orders exist for a reason–that is, to ensure considered passage of the law.”

20 July 2005 – “”The Greens have long stated that urgency should only be used where legislation is truly urgent.”

All that principle being washed away by the shabby little deal between Labour and Greens to try and ram the anti smacking bill through both remaining stages under urgency.

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Five good and five bad for the Government

March 26th, 2007 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

Jordan Carter has done a really good post describing five good and five bad things the Government has done. Of course I don’t agree with him on the substance, but it’s a useful balanced post.

I figured the least I could do is to do the same, and like Jordan, challenge people in comments to do otherwise.

I am going to focus on policies and management rather than behaviour and ethics (which frankly are appalling), and suggest others do the same.

I’m going to list five portfolios, and focus on good and bad in each:

Fiscal Policy

Good – running a surplus for the last seven years (the size of it is a different issue)
Bad – running the second largest surpluses in the world and refusing reductions in tax rates

Defence

Good – extra funding for the Army
Bad – reneging on the F16 purchase

Employment/Welfare

Good – historically low unemployment levels
Bad – blow out in sickness and invalids numbers

Telecommunications

Good – Operational Separation of Telecom
Bad – Not doing LLU in 2003

Health

Good – overdue pay rise for hospital nurses
Bad – ideological hostility to using private sector when it has spare capacity

I have not listed education as I am unsure if I can point to a single positive. It’s a fiasco ranging from the 20 hours policy in tatters for pre-school, the NCEA mess to all the tertiary funding scams. I don’t actually know how Maharey could make it worse if he tried. Maybe the apprenticeships one can give a positive mark to.

Anyway that is my five.

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The 40 below party

March 26th, 2007 at 8:21 am by David Farrar

It sounds like Friday’s 40 below party went very well. Pam from Young Labour managed to crash the event and has a fairly positive report.

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David Farrar’s killers arrested

March 26th, 2007 at 8:19 am by David Farrar

The Charlotte Observer reports that two men have been arrested for the murder of David Farrar.

They have been charged with first degree murder. They might get the death penalty!

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96 days to go ….

March 26th, 2007 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

Labour have only 96 days to pay back their $800,000 of illegal (until validated) taxpayer expenditure. When will it be paid? And remember we want to see the receipt.

But more to the point when will NZ First make a decision? This is not a complex issue. They have just three options:

(1) pay it back
(2) refuse to pay it back
(3) take court action over the Auditor-General’s report

NZ First had their long awaited legal advice on 20 February, five weeks ago. A slightly retarded used car salesman could even manage to make a decision in that timeframe.

The Auditor-General released his final report on Wednesday 11 October 2006. 166 days has passed since then. Or 3,984 hours. Or 239,040 minutes. However one counts it, that has been bucketloads of time.

If I was a newspaper journalist I would be running a story every Tuesday about NZ First’s refusal to say what they will do, and their silly delaying tactics. The media need to make the cost of not saying so high that they finally do commit to paying it back or alternatively confirming they won’t pay it back (which will mean they are wiped out at the next election).

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Party databases

March 26th, 2007 at 7:38 am by David Farrar

The Privacy Commissioner has confirmed, which is little surprise, that voters can ask for a copy of any info held on them by political party databases.

The Privacy Commissioner has expressed a caution that with electronic media, New Zealanders’ personal details could be pooled and could potentially be accessed with ease by any party employee or member of Parliament.

This is true in theory but a well designed database would only share certain non sensitive info, and keeps other info restricted to the office or user who created it.

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Parental support for NCEA falls

March 26th, 2007 at 7:15 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports that parental support for NCEA has fallen to a low of 37%. I suspect this will continue to decline unless the Government makes some changes.

The same survey found 90% of school principals back NCEA though. I suspect however that the larger schools are less supportive, so if you weight by student numbers it would be less.

The NZ Herald editorial calls for fast action on NCEA flaws.

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Blog Bits

March 25th, 2007 at 10:49 pm by David Farrar

Nigel at Kiwi Pundit has a very useful post on the laws and rules around evidence in trials.

PC links to a You Tube video showing a swedish brat in a supermarket. A clear case of someone needing Section 59. But a hilarious ending.

Tim Blair links to an ebay auction where someone threatens to kill a tree and release carbon into the environment unless people bid for the tree to save it. Quick someone organise a Telethon!

Scott Adams blogs about the Wisconsin man who has been charged with having sex with a dead deer he found in a ditch. Scott wonders whether he took the deer home or did it in the ditch. He concludes that anyone so horny to fornicate with a dead deer will be too horny to wait until he gets home.

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Taser use

March 25th, 2007 at 9:53 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn has blogged how the Police tasered a youth who did nothing more than try to intervene in a fight.

At first my reaction was also that it seemed an improper use. But one should not rush to judgement from limited media and third party reports.

Whale Oil points outthe next day the youth involved has been charged with numerous weapons and assault charges after allegedly attacking a man with a metal bar and lashing out at police.

To quote from the Herald article:

“When the policeman got there he began lashing out, punching and kicking the officer and being an absolute menace,” said Melissa Church, who was in her car when the fight broke out in front of her.

“I was absolutely disgusted to hear he was being made out to be an innocent who was trying to help.”

Another witness, Rebecca Ellis, said she would give a statement to police today and agreed the Tasered man was “nowhere near innocent”.

“It took four police to restrain him and the officers got a bum rap. It was a very violent situation and they did a fantastic job.”

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Virtual Super 14 Week Eight

March 25th, 2007 at 9:13 pm by David Farrar

It really would be nice if teams had consistent form. Another frustrating week.

Only 21/42 points to total 191 in total. This is a drop of 7,445 to 47,818.

I got 3/6 games right, and two of them by the correct margin. The inability of the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Sharks to win did not help.

Of the 89 in the NZ Bloggers challenge, I am in 34= place along with Martin, Amanda, Andrew, Morgan and Grant. Jeremy G is No 2 and Matt is No 1 with 228 points.

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