Archive for October, 2007

Initial Views on Reshuffle

October 31st, 2007 at 3:41 pm by David Farrar

I love the three main newspapers having their own political blogs.  It means we get reaction within a couple of hours.  All three have now done a post, so let’s look at what they say:

Colin Espiner at The Press says:

Helen Clark has unveiled her new Cabinet line-up but it’s less than overwhelming.

In fact, this line-up is really little more than a new lick of paint and a replacement of the tapware – certainly not out with the kitchen sink. The faces staring back at the Opposition benches next week will bear a remarkable similarity to the current lot – except that David Cunliffe and Chris Carter will slip into the front bench seats being vacated by Trevor Mallard and Steve Maharey.

Of those reshuffled, the biggest changes are undoubtedly the huge promotion of Cunliffe to health portfolio and consequent sidelining of Pete Hodgson. Clark talked up Hodgson as a magnificent health minister this morning, but there’s no question he’s been pulled for his poor performance.

The next biggest change is the elevation of Chris Carter, who sheds the relatively lightweight portfolios of housing and conservation for the biggie of education. Maharey has left some big shoes for Carter to fill, and he will need to toughen up considerably in this crucial portfolio.

Beyond this, however, there is little to indicate a new team is waiting on the bench. Time-servers like Jim Anderton, Rick Barker and Parekura Horomia remain in Cabinet. Outside, plodders including Judith Tizard, Harry Duynhoven, Mita Ririnui and Mahara Okeroa will continue to draw their ministerial salaries for doing very little.

In fact, Tizard has been asked to do even less, losing her Auckland Issues portfolio, which has been abolished – although whether Auckland no longer has any issues or Clark is admitting they can’t be solved is less clear. (I wonder who will carry Clark’s handbag now?) 

Clark has opted for the minimum of new blood that she felt she could get away with without facing accusations of a Clayton’s (excuse the pun) reshuffle. There are no bold moves and nothing that signifies a change of approach from this administration.

Perhaps that is the right recipe – after all, it’s served Clark and Labour well for the past eight years. But with Labour trailing 12 points in some polls, one might have expected a slightly bigger roll of the dice from the Prime Minister.

Vernon Small from the Dom Post chimes in:

Prime Minister Helen Clark has delivered on her promise to make substantial changes to her cabinet – at least by her own track record – in the drive for a fourth term in office.

In other areas Clark has gone for her safest pairs of hands – Michael Cullen in Treaty negotiations, Phil Goff in Corrections and Annette King in Justice as the head of a team of more right-leaning MPs in the justice and corrections area.

Clark was at pains to point out that half the ministers in today’s line up were not in cabinet after the 1999 election and almost half were not in the post 2002 one either.

But one problem remains – the ministers outside cabinet which she select, as opposed to the caucus election for cabinet – still need a clean out of underperforming ministers. That should be her next job to get her administration ready for the 2008 election.

And finally Audrey Young from the NZ Herald:

It is hardly Helen Clark’s big, fat bold reshuffle.

There is no Wow! factor is this reshuffle. But she has been bolder than usual in a couple of respects.

She has finally done what she has never done before and demoted a minister on performance.

Helen Clark’s other bold move, and her biggest risk, is promoting Chris Carter to Education.

Yes, he was a former teacher and his partner is a school principal but Education is an almighty step up from Conservation and Housing. Just ask Trevor Mallard and Steve Maharey.

David Cunliffe deserved a big promotion and got it with Health.

Steve Chadwick is a surprise promotion to the Cabinet – outside Cabinet, maybe, but inside Cabinet makes little sense other than satisfying the informal quota system Clark operates by: a woman and of the Left to replace Burton. Winnie Laban was probably more deserving.

A significant part of the reshuffle is in what hasn’t happened to Phil Goff. By not giving him the mega-domestic portfolio of Health, Goff is still sitting in the wings available to step up to Finance – without major disruption – when Cullen chooses it is time to go.

Overall not a lot of excitement over the moves.  As Colin said, if 12% behind you should be more radical.

I didn’t pick up earlier that they have abolished the portfolio of Auckland Issues. Does this mean they have all been solved?

While the promotions are all generally reasonably sound, the problem is there are still a hell of a lot of Ministers who are not performing, and doing little to justify their salary. New Zealand does not need an Executive of 28.

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Who got what

October 31st, 2007 at 12:49 pm by David Farrar

Shane Jones, Maryan Street and Steve Chadwick all go into Cabinet with Clark sacking Mark Burton.

Darren Hughes replaces Dover Samuels as a Minister outside Cabinet.

Mallard is back to the second row and loses economic development, sport and RWC.

Hodgson loses health.

UPDATE: Now have the full list.

The two new front benchers are Chris Carter and David Cunliffe.  Note I was one of the very few predicting Carter would get Education and the front bench.

Cunliffe gets health – wow a huge challenge.  He also keeps Comms/IT which I’m pleased with.

Cullen gets Treaty Negotiations from Burton.  Good – we may see some progress.

Goff, not Cosgrove, gets Corrections.  Safe.

Parker is No 13 now, and gets State Services.

The under used Annette King gets Justice.  Her and Goff will be a lot stronger than Burton and O’Connor.

Mallard drops to No 10 and gets Labour, Broadcasting and the Environment.

Dyson, as expected, picks up Social Development.

Cosgrove gets Immigration and Sport.

The newbies are Steve Chadwick with Conservation and Women’s Affairs.

Street gets Housing and ACC.

Surprisingly Jones doesn’t get much – Building Issues and a couple of Associates.

Good old Darren Hughes gets Statistics and some Associates.  I think he’ll manage :-)

This is definitely the most extensive of Clark’s reshuffles.  Partly through necessity, not choice.  Still somewhat timid in some areas.  Interesting that Goff wasn’t moved into more major domestic portfolios.

I think they should have promoted Shane Jones up further and given him weightier portfolios.  Also Charles Chauvel I am sure would be capable of holding a more demanding portfolio than Statistics.

Cunliffe in Health is a gutsy move. Also dropping Burton can only be applauded.

Overall it should be somewhat successful.  The law & order team is stronger.  A new person in Health has been given the chance.  Carter should do fine in Education, albeit I’ll hate his policies.

Mallard “demotion” is almost laughable though.  They’ve actually increased his workload and given him more important portfolios, and left him at the highest place possible on the second row.

Finally you have to feel for any Labour backbenchers not selected, who will be looking at the fact that Judith Tizard is going stay a Minister for the entire nine years, while they don’t even get a look in!

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Wainui on Mallard

October 31st, 2007 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

There was a classic item on TV3 Nightline last night.  They decided to interview some locals in Wainui on what should happen to Trevor Mallard. Now I thought it would just be supportive locals saying hey nothing wrong with a bit of biffo.

But the segment with the large Maori truck driver was just priceless.  It goes like this:

Duncan Garner: What should Helen Clark do to Trevor Mallard?

Wainui Truck Driver: Well bro, everytime I’ve lifted a hand at somebody and whacked them, I’ve been arrested and handcuffed and taken in. Don’t know why he hasn’t been done.

Duncan Garner: Would you like to see him sacked from Cabinet, resign from Parliament?

Wainui Truck Driver: I’d like to see him arrested just like us old nigger boys

Duncan is going on about demotions, while the driver is saying arrest and handcuff the bastard, just like would happen to “us old nigger boys”. It was superb.

Incidentally a friend from Wainui (yes I have them :-) ) knows the truck driver in question and says he is a great example of someone turning their lives around. He was a long term beneficiary with his share of legal problems who used a WINZ grant to set up his own business, which is now very successful.  Good on him.

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Fran back in charge

October 31st, 2007 at 8:08 am by David Farrar

It will be a good thing for Wellington to have Fran Wilde in charge, with her election as Chair of the Wellington Regional Council.

One has to feel a bit sorry for Ian Buchanan who lost the job to Fran.  he had been from all accounts a decent enough Chair, but the reality is that Fran is a big hitter who can achieve more due to her experience and networks.

Fran is committed to making Transmission Gully happen on timetable, not that it has been agreed to by the major parties.  This is vitally important as any delays increase costs massively which then cause the viability of the decision to proceed to be questioned.

Also good to see Ian McKinnon elected Deputy Mayor of Wellington last night.  Ian is a very decent and dedicated Councillor, who will perform the role well.  He is also a potential replacement for Kerry when she retires at the end of this term.

If anyone has details of what the vote for Deputy Mayor was, I’d be interested to know that.  I understand it was fairly close.

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Reshuffle Speculation

October 31st, 2007 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald makes its picks for both seats and portfolios. They pick Hodgson to lose Health.

The Dom Post has their views here.

I think the announcement is at 1 pm.  I’ll blog details as I get them.

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General Debate 31 October 2007

October 31st, 2007 at 7:38 am by David Farrar

So October is ending, there’s a reshuffle today, the Solictor-General has been asked to allow terrorism charges to be laid and anything else topical …

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Green Police priorities

October 31st, 2007 at 6:57 am by David Farrar

Is it only me who has been amused by the different positions the Greens have taken on Police actions this week.

When it comes to swooping on parents who were reported as having smacked a child, the Greens were fully supportive:

“I think it’s really great that the school had the courage to report the woman and that it sounds from what little we know that the processes are being followed exactly as police and CYF told us they would be when we put this through Parliament,”

This was after three (yes three) police officers arrived at a mother’s home, acting on a complaint from a neighbour that the mother had smacked her child on the backside with the palm of her hand during an incident around the trampoline in the backyard.

But what do the Greens say when it doesn’t involve the serious crime of smacking a backside, but minor stuff like alleged firearm and terrorism offences or to quote Helen Clark:

‘at the very least illicitly used firearms, constructed Molotov cocktails and trained themselves in how to use napalm.’

So let’s see what Keith Locke has said

“MP Keith Locke says the police need to back off.”

Locke spoke saying New Zealand was looking hard for a way to join the war on terror.

“They were happy when [Algerian refugee] Ahmed Zaoui came along, we had our very own terrorist. When that fell through they went after activists.”

So the Greens claim this is all invented to make us look tough in the war on terror.

So going after mothers who smack their child on the backside is great, but going after people whom to quote Helen Clark “at the very least illicitly used firearms, constructed Molotov cocktails and trained themselves in how to use napalm” is bad and the Police aren’t given any benefit of the doubt.

Yes I know the mother in question wasn’t arrested at gun point, but you know it would be nice if the Greens were just slightly more balanced on these issues.  They attack the Police and the Government at every turn on the arrests, without even waiting to hear any evidence.  They demand bail for all 17 arrested, without even waiting to hear any details.

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The Reshuffle

October 30th, 2007 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

Okay, a final look at who may be going where in tomorrow’s reshuffle. This, is of course, speculation as Helen doesn’t tend to consult widely on what to do – so like the MSM it is based on general chit chat amongst MPs and journos.

Off the Front Bench

Steve Maharey – 100% likely, possibly time delayed

Trevor Mallard – 80% likely I would say. In theory he could be demoted three places and still stay on the front bench but to do so would invite considerable criticism. Will be hard to see how he can hold Sport after punching some, but maybe his passion for it will counter that. Ironically I think he generally (putting aside the stadium) does a bloody good job with Sport. He’s a pretty useful Associate Finance Minister also, but that may go elsewhere to start blooding up Cullen replacements.

Jim Anderton – 15% likely. Some media have said he has or will be asked to go to the second row to allow more fresh faces. But Jim isn’t generally big on standing aside fro others and the fact Maharey and Mallard are making room makes this less necessary. Will be a big win for Clark if she does persuade him.

Parekura Horomia – should be dropped on performance grounds but won’t be as no Maori MP on the front bench looks bad. 3% chance.

Onto the Front Bench

Mark Burton – 0.1% chance. More likely to get demoted down the ranks.

Ruth Dyson – 15% chance. Unlikely but not impossible.

Chris Carter – 50% chance. Carter is one of the more politically smart Ministers and has a reasonable chance of picking up one of the two major portfolios up for grabs – Education and Social Development. If I had to pick I’d say might get Education and that may require him to go onto the front bench. Is a useful debater also. The big negative may be the Court over turning his Whangamata marina decision, but if he loses Conservation less of an issue.

Rick Barker – 0.2% chance of front bench. Likely to have a few people leapfrog ahead of him.

Lianne Dalziel – 25% chance. Doing pretty well in her portfolios. The sacking for lying may still make back to the front bench too big a call.

Damien O’Connor – everyone knows will lose Corrections. So o.1% chance of making front bench. But might not change his ranking.

David Cunliffe – 50% chance. In policy terms Cunliffe has been highly successful. He has handled the minefield of Immigration well and seen a new law introduced which his predecessors never managed to get done, with widespread support. Also well regarded for achievements in Comms. Not seen as a hugely vigorous verbal brawler which is useful to have on front bench, so while he will be promoted, maybe not all the way to front bench.

David Parker – 45% chance. Not done as well in policy terms as Cunliffe, but is finally making some progress with climate change. Has a good brain on him and well liked. A pretty safe pair of hands for a larger portfolio.

Nanaia Mahuta – 10% chance. Has improved performance, but a fair way off handling a large portfolio or the front bench.

Clayton Cosgrove – 30% chance. Has been superbly effective at beating up on real estate agents and boy racers. Has advanced political skills and a reasonable verbal brawler which could help in debates. But probably seen to still need to prove himself in a hard area like Corrections before they let onto front bench.

Into Cabinet

With Maharey going Cabinet is down to 18 with two vacancies. If Clark is bold she would dump say Burton and Barker to allow four new Cabinet Ministers, but such boldness is uncharacteristic.

Only one of the six Ministers outside Cabinet might get promoted – Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, but I suspect only possible if there are more than two vacancies.

Dover Samuels is probably standing down as a Minister outside Cabinet so room for three to join the Ministry, but only two to Cabinet.

Tim Barnett -  should have been a Minister ages ago, but assumption is he is retiring next election so will stay Senior Whip.

Darren Hughes – 15% chance.  Fairly popular with his colleagues, but less so since he became Whip.  Is likely to be a fairly safe politically astute pair of hands, but probably see as too early for him this time.

David Benson-Pope – 0.00000000% chance

Steve Chadwick – 30% chance.   Has done her time and been a fairly good Select Committee Chair.  Unlikely to even hold a major portfolio but hs potential to be a useful non front bench Minister.  Fairly well respected.

Charles Chauvel – 25% chance.  If Labour is looking long term, then they would go with Chauvel as he is definitely potential front bench material one day.  A long history with Labour and politics, but also legal experience which is in short supply.  Against him though is having only been in a year or so.  Also making him a Minister might be seen to be interfering in the Wellington Central selection contest.

Mark Gosche – 10% chance.  Was an okay Minister last time and only stepped down due to family issues.  A dark horse should he want to step back up.

Shane Jones – 95% chance.   Dover is specifically standing aside for him.  He has commercial and governance experience in loads. Might pick up Comms if Cunliffe has to give it up for other portfolios.  But will get more than just that.  Also expect an Associate for Maori Affairs as he is eventual successor there.

Maryan Street – 90% chance.  Maryan has excelled out of the media view as an effective MP, who can work with other parties, do deals, improve bills etc.  A former party president who is well connected. Has the capability to take on a major portfolio, but probably not immediately.

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EPMU President challenging Benson-Pope

October 30th, 2007 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar

The President of the EPMU, Don Pryde, has announced he will seek the Dunedin South Labour candidacy against David Benson-Pope.

This is significant for a number of reasons.

The first is that the Labour hierarchy often uses the EPMU to say stuff, that they politically don’t want to.  Andrew Little started the criticism of Taito Field after it became clear the ongoing defence of him wasn’t working. This then allowed Labour itself to start to criticise him.

And again here, it is a bad look to have a member of Labour ruling Council directly stand against Benson-Pope – as that may generate local resistance.  But having Pryde stand backed by the EPMU, protects the Labour hierarchy from a backlash.

Pryde also has a better chance of winning against DBP than Curran.  The local electorate has effectively four votes to three from Head Office.  But the EPMU are affiliated locally and will probably control one of the four local votes, which with Head Office will give Pryde a majority.

I don’t know much about Pryde but he can only be a step up from DBP, so if he succeeds New Zealand is a winner I say.   Of course National will be disappointed to lose DBP as a Labour MP so will be hoping he can fight off the challenger.

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Cunning Rodney

October 30th, 2007 at 11:01 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide has said he will lay a complaint with the Police over Trevor Mallard’s punching Tau Henare, if the Speaker does not refer the issue to the Privileges Committee.

This is a not very subtle form of political blackmail, but it may be effective.  Winston Peter’s far less serious “assault” on John Banks was considered by the Privileges Committee in 1997 after all.

If a complaint is laid with the Police, they will have to investigate.  And while Mallard would be eligible for diversion, there is a risk they may prosecute.

Now there is a real risk associated with any prosecution. If prosecuted, Mallard would at best get a fine or community service. But the Electoral Act states that if you are convicted of any offence with a greater than two year prison maximum penalty, you automatically lose your seat. And this is regardless of what the actual punishment is.

Mallard would be okay if charged with mere common assault under s196 of the Crimes Act as that has a one year maximum. But “assault with intent to injure” under s193 has a three year maximum and would trigger the Electoral Act.

Now I think that scenario is unlikely but it is not impossible if a complaint is laid with the Police. The most likely outcome is diversion.  But does Margaret Wilson want a police investigation into what happened in Parliament?

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General Debate 30 October 2007

October 30th, 2007 at 10:49 am by David Farrar

Reshuffles, punches, polls, policies, rugby league, Auckland Royal Commission – go for it.

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At last!

October 30th, 2007 at 10:44 am by David Farrar

The replacement power cord turned up this morning.  Outlook informs me I have 901 e-mails awaiting downloading!

Blogging will still remain light as I catch up on the backlog of work.   If you have e-mailed me in the last week, I should reply by Monday :-(

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Young NZ First recruiting

October 29th, 2007 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

youngnzf.jpg

Sent in by a reader. Very good.

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Full Results for Wellington City Council

October 29th, 2007 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

Wellington City Council has now put online the full results for its STV counts.  Starting with the Mayoralty:

Kerry Predergast got 34.9% of first preferences.  Now thatmay not sound much but in second place was Ray Ahipene-Mercer who had a mere 13.5%.  Now what happens as the losing candidates drop off.

When Nick Kelly dropped out, the biggest beneficiary was Helene Ritchie who got 12.3% of his 988 votes, along with Carl Gifford. John McGarth dropped out on the 5th iteration and his 3,473 votes went most of all to Kerry who got 21.7% of them with Goulden picking up 14.% and then Ahipene-Mercer 10.4%.  That is quite logical – mainly CR vote staying on the CR.

Goulden drops out 6th and his support splits almost four qays equally. Kerry gets 15.5%, Ahipene-Mercer 14.9%, Ruben 14.8% and Papperell 14.,5%.  10% went to Ricthie and 31% went nowhere (no further candidates ranked).

Ruben drops out 7th and Pepperll picks up 23.7% followed by Ritchie on 16.6%.  Kerry gets only 11.1%.  Again very logical.

Finally Ritchie falls out and 23.4% of her vote goes to Pepperll, 19.8% to Ahipene-Mercer and 17.7% to Kerry. 39% exhausted their ballots at this stage.

In the final iteration Kerry is left with 51.0% of the remaining vote, Ahipene-Mercer with 25.4% and Peperell with 23.6%.  The vote share for Kerry Predergast and Ray Ahipene-Mercer at each iteration was:

  1. 34.9% to 13.5%
  2. 35.2% to 13.8%
  3. 35.6% to 14.1%
  4. 26.2% to 14.5%
  5. 37.0% to 15.3%
  6. 39.3% to 16.3%
  7. 41.7% to 18.1%
  8. 44.7% to 20.5%
  9. 51.0% to 25.4%

I don’t have the data on what would have happened if they needed a 10th iteration, with Peperell dropping out also.  But looking at the other iterations, I think it would have been at least a 60% to 40% result.

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Digital Copyright Bill

October 29th, 2007 at 10:52 am by David Farrar

On the 23rd, Parliament had more debate on the second reading of the Copyright (New Technologies and Performers’ Rights) Amendment Bill.  This Bill has been improved by the Select Committee, but there are still significant areas of concern:

The best speech concerning some of the weaknesses still in the Bill, comes from Nandor Tanczos in his second reading speech.

Let us begin with the issue of format shifting — the copying of works to different formats for more convenient or preferable use. A typical example might be ripping a CD to a computer or an MP3 player. The Select Committee removed the sunset clause from the fair use provisions, and we welcome that. It made no sense to recognise for the first time a right to, for example, copy a track from a CD onto a device but then have only that right last for a couple of years.

However, the Select Committee countered that move with some retrogressive steps. … In addition, the committee has retained provisions that unreasonably restrict time shifting and has clarified that copyright owners can opt out of fair use provisions. Presumably, that might mean just putting a sticker on the cover of a CD. We would find that unacceptable.

Lastly, the provision still excludes video, because in the words of the committee: “… format-shifting of music for private and domestic use is widespread, while format-shifting of other types of copyrighted works is not.” Maybe it is not so widespread as to have reached the ears of the members of the committee, but even John Key is now on YouTube. Not that I expect any but the most loyal or masochistic to be watching him on a portable, but the point is that the assumptions that the committee used in making that determination simply do not hold in the modern world. We believe that the public has been let down by format shifting in this area and, like other ill-conceived prohibitions, they will simply ignore it.

It is hard to claim a law is based on solid principle when you allow audio format-shifting and disallow video format-shifting.  The principle is the same – you have purchased a licence and a copy of a “work” and why should you be forced to buy multiple copies if you have multiple viewing devices.  If you have a video Ipod, why can you not legally watch a movie on it, if you legally purchased the DVD?

However, we are extremely concerned about clause 92C and the retention of the notice and takedown regime previously referred to by the Minister in the second reading in relation to claims of breach of copyright. Under the bill, if an Internet service provider is informed about a claimed breach of copyright in relation to material it stores, then it is liable if it does not “as soon possible after becoming aware … of facts or circumstances that make it apparent that the material is likely to infringe copyright in the work, delete the material or prevent access to it”.

I think it is important that members note the words “likely to infringe”, because an internet service provider, in practice, will interpret this as “might possibly infringe a copyright work”, because it simply cannot afford to take the risk. This sort of measure can easily be abused — and has been abused in other jurisdictions. The recent case of Solid Energy attempting to injunct a satirical annual report put together by opponents of its Happy Valley coal mine is a case in point. Under this provision, the internet service provider would have had to remove the material immediately Solid Energy complained, even though the court in that case ended up finding substantially in favour of the defendants.

The Green Party would much prefer a notice provision whereby notification of a claim of breach of copyright would require the internet service provider to notify the person responsible for the material alleged to be in breach. In most cases, the person will either admit guilt or simply fail to respond. Both of those examples would lead to the immediate removal of the material. It would be only a small percentage that would contest the claim, and the matter could then be adjudicated in an impartial manner. We believe that this approach would provide fair protection to copyright holders while also protecting legitimate use, or at least allow claims to be contested. The current notice and take-down provision, even with the right to sue for unjustified proceedings, does not do that, especially in relation to cases where there is a reasonable argument to be made in either direction.

And indeed Nandor highlights the problems with a notice and takedown regime. We have seen this abused in the United States and in other countries.  The Church of Scientology is famous, for example, for its campaign against Internet users who discuss or criticise Scientology “secrets”.

No doubt at the Committee of the House stage, there will be amendments put up to fix some of these flaws.  It would be nice if these were given due consideration by all the parties.  I mean really, do you want to vote against an amedment that would allow copying a legally purchased DVD to a Video Ipod?

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Why the “rules” matter

October 29th, 2007 at 9:38 am by David Farrar

One good thing has come out of the Mallard affair – a reminder why the “rules” matter about leaving personal lives and families out of bounds for parliamentary taunting.

Think about how this would have played out, if Trevor Mallard had never publicly taunted Don Brash about Diane Foreman?  First of all, I doubt Tau Henare would ever have yelled out “Shut up Sharon” to Mallard in the first place.  But, even if he had, look at how differently it could have been handled.

Mallard could have potentially even won sympathy (like John Prescott) if he had got up and said something like “Look it was awful of me to punch him, and I should never have done it, but you know when they go after your family, when they pick on your girlfriend who can’t even defend herself, well something inside me just snapped and I lashed out because I was just so enraged that he had brought my family into this”.

I think a fair proportion of New Zealanders, maybe even a majority, would be on Mallard’s side if that had happened.

But why didn’t Mallard put that up as a defence?  Because he couldn’t.  Because he had broken the “rules” himself and to then complain about it would make him a first class hypocrite.

And this is the real moral of the story.  The “rules” do matter.  They have existed for near time immemorial for a reason.  When you break the convention to get at an MP you despise (as Mallard did to get to Brash) you might think it is an isolated incident, but as we have seen it does have repercussions.  It is exactly because we elect MPs who are human, not saints, that you have the convention around families and affairs.

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NZ First’s Youth Branch

October 29th, 2007 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

NZ First has established a youth branch.

It will be open to any party member under the age of 75.

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The excuses start …

October 29th, 2007 at 9:27 am by David Farrar

Clark: “I think he felt he was defending a woman’s integrity”

- NZPA

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Maori Party vs NZ First

October 29th, 2007 at 9:23 am by David Farrar

The increasing war of words between NZ First and the Maori Party is interesting, and in fact may help both parties.  Peters has called the Maori Party separatists and Sharples has compared Winston Peters to Don Brash (very unfair on Brash incidentially, but will work in provoking Peters).

The Maori Party is playing with fire to some degree.  If the evidence in court is compelling, they risk being tarred with excusing serious criminal behaviour.  But for now their willingness to stand up for Tuhoe is probably working with their potential voters, and the Government’s Maori MPs are feeling the pressure.

NZ First doesn’t have as much support from Maori voters as it used to.  Partly this is due to the Maori Party.  So Peters has little to lose by attacking the Maori Party and saying what many may agree with.  Unlike National and Labour, he is unlikely to ever need to work with the Maori Party.

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NZ First prefers Labour

October 28th, 2007 at 3:49 pm by David Farrar

Just as I have always regarded the Maori Party as ideologically closer to Labour, I think much the same of NZ First – and Ron Mark has confirmed this.  On Agenda today he said:

Labour’s probably the closest now to our economic policy than they’ve ever been

Now there is more to working together than economic policy, but that is pretty core.

It will be very interesting to see what policy NZ First adopts going into 2008.  Will it be to give first preference to the largest party again? Will it want coalition (Ron Mark indicated a preference for that) and on what terms?

To ensure a change of Government needs more than National getting more votes than Labour.  It requires National/ACT/United Future to get more votes than Labour/Progressive/Greens/Maori Party/NZ First. Because I suspect in a bidding contest, Labour will be more willing to do whatever it takes for a 4th term.  Student allowances for all Maori students – fine. An extra $20 a week for pensioners – fine. 

And let’s not forget what a huge advantage the Electoral Finance Bill will be to the Government, if passed.  The Government advertising campaigns will blossom, as everyone is restricted.

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McCarten calls for Mallard to go

October 28th, 2007 at 1:15 pm by David Farrar

It’s interesting to see the commentators on this one.  Winston Peters and Bill Ralson are effectively defending Mallard and saying no big thing, while Matt McCarten is saying he must be dumped.  McCarten makes some salient points:

All the tut-tutting over this melee by their fellow MPs – and even the Prime Minister – is a bit disingenuous. After all, Mallard has been used – for over a decade now – as their resident pitbull to intimidate Labour’s enemies.

In recent times, Mallard has been used to deal to Labour’s opponents. The difference this time is that when Mallard was dished up some of his own medicine, he couldn’t handle it, lost his cool and physically retaliated.

The end came when Mallard called out the name of Brash’s alleged mistress. Brash was unnerved by Mallard’s hectoring. This whole affair ultimately resulted in Brash being dumped as leader and undermined his personal reputation and ended his political career.

At the time, the Labour Party was gloating over the success of Mallard’s taunts and behaviour.

Indeed. Clark, Cullen and co sat there smiling and smirking as Mallard and Benson-Pope did to Brash, what Henare did to Mallard.

This is probably the most serious assault that has ever occurred in Parliament. The media, in years gone by, referred to instances such as Jim Bolger throwing a pen in the chamber, Winston grabbing the arm of John Banks, or even Mallard flicking Bob Clarkson with a manila folder.

Indeed.  The Banks/Peters issue went to Privileges Committee and was for a much much less serious incident.

Recently, we have the House overwhelmingly passing a law outlawing the smacking of kids under any provocation, and on the other, we have a Government minister hitting a member of the Opposition in a fit of rage.

That’s why Clark doesn’t have any choice but to dump Mallard. Otherwise, the taunt of “hypocrite” would rightfully stick on her.

I’m not actually in the Mallard must be sacked camp. If the demotion is significant (loses front bench spot, loses significant portfolios) I think that is enough.

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Vista and Office 2007

October 28th, 2007 at 12:57 pm by David Farrar

Peter Griffin’s blog on Vista, remninds me to share my own experiences.  The poor bastard tried running it on 512 MB memory.  I’ve got it running on a new PC nicely with 2 GB memory.  My rule of thumb is to always double the default amount of memory a new machine comes with.

So far Vista has been pretty good.  Minor things like showing the speed of a file copy/move and no of files remaining are useful. The whole look/feel is good also.  Have had problems with printer drivers though.  A lot of products are not yet ready for Vista so rushing in can backfire.

But while overall I like Vista, can I just say how much I hate Office 2007.  Nothing is where it should be.  It’s attempts to be helpful are frustrating to say the least.  After 12+ years of a standard look and feel to Office producsts, that is all gone.  I can’t do half of what I used to be able to do because I can’t find the effing commands.

Please can someone out there tell me there is a button you can push to make Office 2007 appear like Office 2003?  That would be a life saver.

Oh and don’t even start me off on the new file formats.  Grrrr. 

I hate Office 2007 so much I’ll probably put off getting a new laptop just to avoid having to migrate to Office 2007.

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A fresh new front bench?

October 28th, 2007 at 12:48 pm by David Farrar

Ironically, the Mallard punch may turn into an opportunity for Labour to regain some political momentum.  All of Clark’s previous reshuffles have been very timid – almost non events.  Now, by necessity if not choice, she may end up with a very new and fresh front bench.

Maharey is retiring, and the consensus seems to be Mallard has to be at leats demoted off the front bench.  There is also talk of Anderton being asked to give up his spot, and there may be three vacancies.  Horomnia should be demoted on performance, but it would be unacceptable for Labout to not have a Maori MP on the front bench, and while Jones will probably make Cabinet, I doubt he will go straight to the front bench.

The three logical promotions are Parker, Cunliffe and Cosgrove – all relatively new and all performing relatively well.  But Lianne Dalziel is also a solid performer.  Now what may count against her is that she has been around for so long and is not quite a fresh face.  On the other hand having one third of the front bench female may go down well with traditional support groups.

I’ll make some firmer predictions on Tuesday for Wednesday’s reshuffle.

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NZ First to pay it back

October 27th, 2007 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

At long last, a year or so after other parties agreed to pay it back, NZ First has explicitly stated they will pay back the $186,000 of illegal expenditure.

But get this.  Their latest excuse for why it has not already been paid back is that the money is in a term deposit which only matures in November.

Hello, it is the simplest thing in the world to break a term deposit.  The only penalty is you gain less interest.  So really what NZ First are saying is we wish to continue to earn money on the $186,000.

When they finally do pay it back, I will calculate what the interest should have been.

Incidentially United Future are yet to pay all of their illegal expenditure back also.

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Telecom’s fibre plans

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

I’m pleased to see Telecom commit to fibe deployment which will acheive speeds of up to 20 MB/sec within five years to all areas with 500 or more phone lines. That’s a pretty good investment in getting fibre to the node. Of course that is only a halfway house to having fibe to the home but nevertheless still good progress.

The article has a couple of sound bites from me, taken while driving back from Oamaru yesterday. Also had an interview with ZB on Thursday with Kate Hawkesbury on the Mallard affair. I think I was kinder on Trevor than Kate was!

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