Archive for March, 2008

Kiwisaver teething problems

March 31st, 2008 at 2:11 pm by David Farrar

The Herald last week reported on teething problems with KiwiSaver, which has compulsory employer contributions kick in tomorrow.

These are somewhat more than teething problems, they have been causing huge problems for accountants and employers up and down the country. It is a classic example fo what happens when a Government makes last minute changes without proper consultation.

I know a bit about this, because an accountant told me about it a couple of months ago. Basically what the Government had done was make the employer tax credit of around $20 a week a daily tax credit. Instead of just making it say $20 a week or $1040/12 a month they said employers have to calculate it on actual days employees have worked.

The problem is PAYE is calculated monthly or twice a month. And in case you have not noticed, months vary in length.

What it means is that rather than having a standard amount every PAYE schedule, it will vary all the time. Now that may not sound much work, but trust me the complexity have been driving people mad.

The good thing is the Government is now going to change things, but then again you have a last minute change. This means that payroll software companies may only have days instead of months to properly test software updates.

Fact Checking

March 31st, 2008 at 1:28 pm by David Farrar

One of the sites I really enjoy is Fact Check in the US.  While not perfect, it does a very good job in fairly scrutinising claims and measuring them against the facts. We could do with a local version. And they defend and criticise all sides.

For example they defend Hillary Clinton’s claims that she helped expand health insurance to cover six million extra children, but they find she has been exaggerating her foreign policy experience.

They also rebut Obama’s attacks on NAFTA.

And a very strong stinging critique of the DNC’s ads against John McCain.  The most notable has been their claims he favours a 100 year war In Iraq, when in fact he said he wouldn’t worry if troops were still there in 100 years if they were *not* being killed or wounded, such as in Japan and Korea.

A good BSA decision

March 31st, 2008 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

Very pleased to see the Broadcasting Standards Authority has again not given into pressure, and has not upheld complaints about Californication – just as they also did with Southpark.

I only started watching Californication after Family First started knocking out advertisers (something they are entitled to do), as I always regard the more a show is protested about, as a good guide for whether I will like it.

And the thing is, while the show has segments many find morally objectionable, such as a dream sequence with a nun and sex with a 16 year old, they are actually part of what is a well constructed plot. The sleeping with the 16 year old actually sets up a plot line throughout the entire first series, coping with the ramifications. And the lead character regrets doing it once he finds out her age (and more to the point funding out she is the daughter of his ex wife’s fiancee.

Southpark can be similiar. Yes it has some appallingly offensive scenes and language.  It  is often truly disgusting (just think Mr Hankey). But it often has a message behind its episodes, and many of the messages are good ones, that even religious and family groups would approve of  – such as  debunking the moral  panic over parents abusing their children. Of course there are some episodes, such as where Cartman tricks Scott Tenorman into eating his parents which don’t have much of a hidden message, except maybe don’t play tricks on people with an evil streak!

SST on Productivity Growth

March 31st, 2008 at 10:50 am by David Farrar

It is good to see the SST editorial on the issue of productivity growth. You see this very obscure statistic is in fact the key to closing or slowing the gap with Australia. You can’t do it by just increasing wages, unless there is also an increase in productivity. Some useful extracts from the SST:

So this might be a time to ask whether all that sunshine has blinded us to certain fundamental problems in our economy. The major one being productivity, an ugly word but a concept of crucial importance. Only by increasing our productivity will we become wealthier. Only by increasing it dramatically will we rise from the bottom half of the OECD to the top half. …

It is, in a way, an index of smartness: it reflects innovation in technology and work practices and better ways of doing things. The fact that the growth rate in this area has fallen under Labour is a serious worry.

Is it fair to argue, then, as Roger Kerr does, that it shows Labour’s aspiration for a knowledge economy has been all talk?

Not necessarily, but it certainly shows that the knowledge economy has been much slower to arrive than hoped and it is noticeable that Labour’s promise to push us up the OECD stakes is less often heard nowadays. …

What we need is a serious national debate about our fundamental economic strategy, a campaign to find the Kiwi way to greater productivity. The good times perhaps allowed us to ignore this vital issue. The coming bad times will force us to face it.

So what are the facts behind productivity growth. Stats NZ has been measuring it since 1978. So let us have a look at it over the March years 78 – 84, 84 – 91, 91 – 00, 00 – 07.

Labour Productivity Growth

  • All – 2.0%
  • Muldoon – 1.6%
  • Douglas/Caygill – 2.7%
  • Richardson/Birch/English – 2.6%
  • Cullen – 1.1%

Labour productivity is simply measuring the ratio of output to labour input. In the last March year output growth was 1.4% and labour input growth 0.9% so the difference is the productivity growth of 0.5%.

As one can see the record under Dr Cullen for the last seven years is a miniscule 1.1%. Half the average since 1978, and even less than the final years of Muldoon. Only around 40% of the previous 15 years.

The really scary thing is Cullen’s record is getting worse. His first three years averaged 1.5%. For three of the last four years labour productivity growth has been just 0.5%, averaging 0.9%.

Capital Productivity Growth

  • 78 – 07: -0.7%
  • 78 – 84: -1.0%
  • 84 – 91: -3.5%
  • 91 – 00: 1.5%
  • 00 – 07: -0.5%

Capital productivity is similar but measuring output to capital input. Muldoon had negative growth due to Think Big. The worse period was Mar 84 – Mar 01, when capital inputs grew massively, but little growth in outputs.

The 1990s managed the only growth period – 1.5%, and since 2000 that has reversed back to negative capital productivity growth.

Multifactor Productivity Growth

  • 78 – 07: 0.9%
  • 78 – 84: 0.6%
  • 84 – 91: 0.3%
  • 91 – 00: 2.1%
  • 00 – 07: 0.4%

Multifactor productivity is basically total productivity growth, excluding labour and capital productivity. It tends to reflect changes in technology, processes, knowledge.

Again a very good growth period in the 1990s, and since 2000 it has fallen to just one quarter of what it was. This suggests the knowledge economy rhetoric


This graph shows labour productivity growth since 1978. You will note nothing over 25% since 2000. I’ve also added a trend line on a three year rolling average in black – again the decline is significant.

We need to do better, if we want to keep people in New Zealand.

Telecom’s Separation Plan Approved

March 31st, 2008 at 10:43 am by David Farrar

David Cunliffe has announced this morning that he has signed off on Telecom’s separation plan.  Telecom will split (but still legally one group) into a network access division (known as Chorus), a wholesale division, and a retail division.

Chorus will allow ISPs to place their own equipment in its exchanges and cabinets.  They won’t get to do this for free – but all telcos and ISPs will pay the same charges. Chorus will be laying out fibe to the node, and may one day be a major player in fibre to the home.

Telecom Wholesale will provide services to ISPs which can’t afford to purchase their own equipment.  This is how almost all DSL broadband products are currently offered, and will remain for some time the most common offering.

Telecom Retail will sell their own products and services to residential and business customers.

The separation has been about breaking up a vertically integrated monopoly, and getting the right incentives in place. The previous structure was the equivalent of having Air New Zealand own the major NZ airports, and able to unilaterally decide what other airlines were allowed in, how much they would charge, what routes they were allowed on, what times they could fly etc. Or another analogy would be having Ford own most of the roads, and able to decide what other car brands are allowed on them.

This is why Parliament voted 119-2 to support separation, and why David Cunliffe has such widespread support from both consumers and industry for his actions. Kudos should go to Telecom and new CEO Paul Reynolds for not doing a Telstra in Australia and engaging in a guerilla war with the Government, but working hard to be successful in the new environment.

And while there is a long way to go, there have already been benefits to businesses and consumers.  A couple of years ago the top business broadband package was an outrageous $2,500 a month. Now it is around 10% of that. We have moved up two places in the OECD uptake placings, ISPs are now offering naked DSL, ADSL2+ though their own equipment, speeds are faster and prices cheaper.

Monopolies are inevitable in various areas.  I even sit on the board of a company with a natural monopoly of sorts. But the key is to keep the monopoly as small and focused as possible, and not to allow it to spread to all layers of an industry through vertical integration.

NZ Herald on Church Call

March 31st, 2008 at 10:27 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial is unimpressed with the churches having woken from a 10 year slumber, and suddenly having rediscovered poverty.

Church leaders invariably lead with their chins in political debate. We have not heard from them for some time on poverty, in fact not since the last National Government was in office.

As the clerics observe, Labour has left National’s benefit levels largely intact after inflation adjustments. Now the collective social conscience of the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army leadership will be mobilised in a “call to action” for the restoration of benefit rates that were cut in 1991.

That would be ludicrous. Much has changed in the past 17 years, not least the level of unemployment in an economy that has enjoyed constant growth for the past decade. What point, other than a political one, would be served by restoring any facet of the economy to a position it was in 17 years ago? And why now? The church leaders surely have not been waiting nine years for the Labour-led Governments to heed the hikoi staged in National’s last term. It is hard to escape the suspicion they have recovered their energy this year in anticipation of National’s return.

The churches have been silent on these social issues for too long, and now they have been silent on their preferred political solutions for too long – the duration of Labour’s policy leadership. Their return to the fray at this stage can be taken only as an attempt to keep Labour in power and, should that fail, to prepare for a renewed campaign against a National government.

Some people wonder why church leaders almost always back left wing Governments, despite the fact that conservative parties always have a much much higher proportion of true believers and church goers.

The answer tends to be that few (not all) church leaders actually literally believe in God (as taught in the Bible), and are far more concerned with social issues than religious issues.

Again this is not new, and I refer people to an excellent Yes Minister episode on this issue.

Incidentally Gavin Knight blogs that the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services never intended their statement to be seen as a call to reverse the 1991 benefit cuts, and this was just discussed in response to a question.

Warp-speed Internet

March 31st, 2008 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

Telstra-Clear has launched a warp-speed Internet offering – 25 Mb/s download, 2 Mb/s upload and a monthly 120 GB cap.

The cost is $230 a month which rules it out for most people, but it is good to have the option there, and over time prices should drop.

Vodafone has also announced they will allow customers to go on VDSL2, as well as ADSL2+. VDSL2 can do speeds of up to 50 Mb/s down and 30 Mb/s up – but only if within 1 km of a exchange.

The pricing is not specified, but the story says “VDSL2 connections could be bought by anyone who wants to pay for it”. Does that mean you pay one off for the connection or a higher monthly fee?

Minor Parties

March 31st, 2008 at 8:27 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports on the minor parties debate held on TVNZ’s Channel 7 yesterday. Winston refused to take part as he thinks he isn’t a minor party. Well Winnie, you got 1.1% in the latest poll – can’t get much more minor than that.

The positions of the minor parties on post-election support is interesting:

  • Maori Party says they will consult with members after the election, but said could not support National if retained policy of abolishing Maori seats.  My reading of this, is that they would require that policy to be dumped as one of the prices of support after the election, not that having that policy pre-election is fatal in itself (esp as the Maori Party entered negotiations after 2005 with National despite similar policy)
  • Greens will declare before the election who they support, based on policies. This will be Labour. What will be interesting is if they rule out say abstaining on supply and confidence for National in return for suitable policy concessions
  • United Future says it will negotiate first with the largest party
  • NZ First a couple of weeks agao also said it will negotiate first with the largest party
  • ACT indicated it would back National, but a bottom line would be removal of the 39c tax rate. That is a very cunning demand, which I may blog on  separately at some stage
  • Progressives say they will back Labour

So what you effectively have is Greens and Progressive backing Labour, ACT backing National, NZ First and United Future giving preference to the largest party, and the Maori Party genuinely swinging.

The decisions (which are unchanged from 2005) for United Future and NZ First to give first preference to the largest party, makes things very hard for Labour. You see while it is quite plausible that National’s gap over Labour may drop to say 7%or 8%, making it plus the Greens approx equal to National, it is highly highly unlikely that Labour will actually get more seats than National. And NZF and UFNZ have said they will give preference t the largest party not the largest bloc.

So in reality Labour (including Progressive) only have the Greens and maybe the Maori Party to make it over 60 seats.

Ironically their best chance of making it, is for NZ First not to be there. If NZ First get knocked out, then their vote is effectively redistributed proportionally to the parties which do qualify. If NZ First do make it, then it is very very hard for Labour  to get to 61 seats with just the Greens and Maori Party (who are far from certain anyway).

The other irony is that it is arguably in National’s interest for NZ First to stay in Parliament.

Can Mugabe steal the election again?

March 30th, 2008 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

It will be interesting to see if Mugabe manages to steal the Zimbabwe election.  The signs so far do not look good:

African Union election observers also raised concerns about 8,450 voters registered to a patch of deserted land in north Harare.

And where real people are trying to vote:

As voting started it became clear that large numbers of people were being turned away from the polling booths.

In Chitungwiza The Sunday Telegraph witnessed seven people being turned away in the space of five minutes after being told their names were not on the voters roll or that they had not got the correct identification.

 We also see the ultimate end goal of Working for Families type largesse:

He also attempted to bolster his support through the “agricultural mechanisation programme”, a thinly disguised vote buying exercise in which mountains of farm equipment have been given away at Zanu PF election rallies.

The tactic appeared to have convinced some supporters to stay loyal. Christine Machada, 46, a mother of six who received a harvester and a tractor, said she had voted for him again, although her 25 acre farm was producing few crops.

Yep, give money or tractors to people so they vote for you. At least that is legal.

Protecting ANZAC

March 30th, 2008 at 1:39 pm by David Farrar

The growing numbers for ANZAC Day, shows how important the ANZAC name is to people in both Australia and New Zealand. And it is a word protected by law from misuse.

It has been a protected name since the War Legislation Amendment Act 1916. Today it is protected under the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981.

A furore recently erupted in Australia over an activist group promoting a some sort of direct action training weekend as a Activists, Newcomers and Zealots Action Camp.

The story on Indymedia has been deleted as it was also in breach of Australian law.

Hat Tip: Tim Blair

Roughan on Tibet

March 30th, 2008 at 12:30 pm by David Farrar

John Roughan in the Weekend Herald looked more closely at Tibet. He notes:

It has been strategically important to China for centuries. The economy is dirt poor, the people tribal and deeply loyal to a Buddhist theocracy which was actually installed from Beijing by the Mongol empire 800 years ago.

Thereafter the Dalai Lamas held absolute power except for periods when Tibet was ruled by monk regents or by agents sent by the Chinese government.

Early last century, after the fall of China’s last imperial dynasty, Tibet enjoyed de facto independence for 37 years. In 1950, with the advent of communism, it was incorporated in the Chinese state.

So far, so good. But then Roughan makes what I think is an unfortunate comparison:

It is curious that we unquestioningly support secession movements everywhere but at home. Independence seekers have only to raise their flag in Kosovo, Kurdistan, Chechnya, Darfur, Taiwan or Timor, and our sympathies are with them. Part of this reflects our dislike of the state they would escape.

We are not quite as sympathetic to rebels in Kashmir, Quebec or Catalonia. But even there we find it hard to understand the determination of nations to keep a disaffected region.

Catalonia is a province of Spain.  Spain is a democracy, and doesn’t shoot protesters. And Catalonia has significant autonomy from Spain. Plus the Catalonian independence party got only 14% of the vote in the last elections. And polls show only 32% of Catalonians favour independence
Likewise Quebec is a province of a democratic Canada. Canada doesn’t oppress Quebec, which has very significant autonomy. And the Quebec independence parties have not won a vote on secession. If they do, then they will

Kashmir is basically a territorial dispute with Pakistan, than a real secessionist movement.  It can’t be solved by secession – it needs more than one country to agree. Interestingly the only poll done in Kashmir shows 61% wanting to stay Indian citizens.

Now when was the last time there was a vote or even a poll in Tibet? Tibet is ruled by a repressive regime, that gives no opportunity at all for self determination. That is why so many support them – Roughan to be fair does refer the dislike of the state they seek to escape as a factor.

Roughan then asks how we would feel about a Tuhoe nation in the Ureweras:

We might never have been to the Ureweras, have no plans ever to go and not much idea of what the nation might lose, but we would fight for its integrity. Why then is it so hard to credit China’s attitude to Tibet, Sudan’s to Darfur or, closer to home, Indonesia’s to East Timor?

Again, China, Sudan and Indonesia (to a lesser degree) are repressive undemocratic regimes that enslave or kill in their conquered territories.

As for Tuhoe, I’ve never seen any evidence that a majority or even a significant minority of Tuhoe want independence. Tame Iti is not all of Tuhoe.

I’d also point out that sensitivities over borders are somewhat different in small islands, compared to large continents. In Europe and Asia most countries already have multiple neighbours. In NZ we have none – we have no land borders to worry about. So a new country would be a massive change for us.

But what if the Chatham Islands wanted independence? Would any of us give a damn? I doubt it.

John Adams

March 30th, 2008 at 10:33 am by David Farrar

Just watched the first episode of the seven part miniseries on John Adams, the second President of the United States.

I have studied Washington and Jefferson a lot, but little on Adams. The miniseries is excellent, giving a good background to the American revolution and the first 50 years of the United States. Adams has generally been overlooked by modern historians, but in recent times his reputation has been rising as he is re-evaluated.

I’m not sure if any NZ station plans to show the miniseries here, as ratings will probably be modest for a US historical series.  But I hope they do, as it is an excellent production (to date).

Raybon Kan on China

March 30th, 2008 at 10:06 am by David Farrar

Raybon Kan in the SST:

But let’s agree on a fact. China is a repressive country without free expression. The Chinese government censors news from its people. They censor the internet. And the foreign media can’t report from within.

Much the way I don’t think the North Korean government should run North Korea, I believe China shouldn’t run Tibet. Also, I don’t think the Chinese government should run Guangzhou or Beijing or Tiananmen Square. Maybe I’m just hung up on that whole voting thing.

Shooting people for expressing dissent, is the problem.

It’s not just a domestic matter for China.

Pretend the Chinese government was shooting pandas. Imagine the outcry. But monks, well. They’re not endangered.

And we know deep down why we’re being quiet. For the free trade agreement. With a country that isn’t free. For the moola.

Good grief. We close shops at Easter and prosecute the shops that open for the sake of some execution 2000 years ago. Yet, while people are being executed right now, we shut up about it because we want to open shop with China.

He has a point.

Wage gap or tax chasm?

March 30th, 2008 at 9:04 am by David Farrar

Bill Ralston’s column is titled “Wage gap more a tax chasm”.

Actually, Mallard is telling the truth. Those are the wage-gap figures. Gross wages. But what he ignores are the figures that matter most to you and me: our take-home pay.

Because of tax cuts and higher tax thresholds across the Tasman, the gap in tax-paid, take-home pay has widened rapidly under Labour.

Ralston has caught on to the key point – gross wages are misleading in comparisons between countries. You will hear Labour Ministers and supporters talk endlessly about gross salaries.

What you will hear far less from them is actual cash in hand, or after tax income.

And if one is comparing over a number of years, one should adjust for inflation. If after tax income in both countries has gone up 20%, but inflation in one country was 15% and in the other 8%, then it is better to be in the latter country.

So the best measure for comparing between countries is inflation adjusted after tax income.

Warming Projections

March 30th, 2008 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Like a medieval religious zealot, Al Gore claims that those who still doubt that global warming is caused by man are the equivalent of those who think the moon landing was faked. This says more about Gore than anyone else. Scientific debate is in fact the exact opposite of lunatic conspiracy theories.

However while there is a fairly wide consensus that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to warming, there is still a lot of uncertainity about the speed and extent of this, and especially how nature itself responds to external factors like increased greenhouse gases. We are generally dealing with theories and projections, not measurable fact.

The Australian has an article on the extent of climate change:

Duffy: “Can you tell us about NASA’s Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we’re now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?”

Marohasy: “That’s right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you’ve got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you’re going to get a positive feedback. That’s what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite … (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they’re actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you’re getting a negative rather than a positive feedback.”

Duffy: “The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?”

Marohasy: “That’s right … These findings actually aren’t being disputed by the meteorological community. They’re having trouble digesting the findings, they’re acknowledging the findings, they’re acknowledging that the data from NASA’s Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they’re about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide.”

The view being put forward by Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs, seems to be that greenhouse gas emissions do certainly cause warming, but that other weather processes may be compensating and limiting the effect of those emissions.

Hat Tip: Not PC

Very stupid

March 29th, 2008 at 6:14 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports on the jailing of a 41 year old man for unlawful sexual connection with a 15 year old girl. While there is nothing funny about a young girl being exploited, I did have to laugh at this part of the story on how he got caught:

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said: “It seems there was some affection between them. He was apprehended because he was taken home to meet her parents.”

Meeting the parents is not a recommended activity, if you are having sex with an under-age partner. And especially when you are probably older than the parents.

76 minutes you won’t regret

March 29th, 2008 at 3:46 pm by David Farrar

The Herald had a story this morning on an inspirational speech by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch who spoke as part of a “last lecture” series where lecturers are meant to pretend they are near death and want to sum up the most important lessons for their students.

Pausch, who is in his 40s, didn’t have to pretend as he has terminal pancreatic cancer.

Anyway thanks to the some quick searching, his lecture is embedded above. It is 76 minutes long, but it will be one of the better ways you can spend an hour this weekend. He’s made me focus on what really is important in our lives, and I doubt anyone can not be somewhat touched by it.

Online Lotto

March 29th, 2008 at 1:56 pm by David Farrar

The Greens and other wowsers need to get real over the move to online Lotto.

If people want to gamble online, they are already doing it. Hell people in NZ are betting on US elections, playing blackjack, roulette etc etc.

All the Government is doing it allowing people to buy Lotto tickets on the Internet.  That’s bloody helpful.  They’ve even put in place spending limits.

Restraint of Trade

March 29th, 2008 at 1:14 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports on how Masterton Pak ‘N Save has put restraint of trade clauses in its employment contracts with shop assistants.

This is pretty bizarre and probably not enforceable. Restraint of trade clauses are intended to protect employers from senior or specialist staff suddenly walking out the door and setting up a competitor, or going to a competitor, with all their intellectual property, clients, contact lists etc. They are about key staff who might actually attract business away from their former employer.

Now it is hard to imagine how a shop assistant moving jobs could result in customers deciding to shop elsewhere – just so they can still be served by that shop assistant.  I mean maybe if they were super-hot 🙂

I suspect the supermarket is just worried about a competitor setting up nearby and offering higher wages. Restraint of trade clauses are not meant to be just about protecting yourself from the market.

I tend to agree with Laila Harre that the clause is “completely unreasonable and illegal”. Two legal experts also doubt it is enforceable, and Foodstuffs head office have pointed out they don’t think it is enforceable and has only been used in Masterton by the local franchise owner.

After tax income gap with Australia

March 29th, 2008 at 12:59 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports on the figures put out by National showing the growing gap in after tax income between Australia and New Zealand.

In 1999 the average after tax income was $32,704 in Australia and $27,128 in New Zealand. That is a gap of $5,576 and has average NZ after tax income at 83% of Australia’s.

In 2007 Australia is $46,000 and NZ $34,000. That is a gap twice as large at $12,000 and means average NZ income is now only 74% of Australia.

Peter Ellis

March 28th, 2008 at 7:32 pm by David Farrar

Poneke blogged earlier this week that Rick Barker has turned down the petition for a royal Commission into Christchurch Creche and Peter Ellis.

This is a great shame.  You see for me it isn’t even so much about whether Ellis was guilty or not. I think most of New Zealand have decided he wasn’t, and he is out now. Just as important to me is having a proper inquiry into how the whole affair was handled, so we can learn from our mistakes. There were simply dozens of issues with the Ellis case that cause concern.

I had been hopeful that if National becomes Government, we might finally get a royal commission. But both Don Brash and Katherine Rich have or are retiring and won’t be in the next Parliament to advocate for it. So we may never get a satisfactory resolution.

Dead people voting

March 28th, 2008 at 7:17 pm by David Farrar

Keeping Stock has a post on how there is likely to be many votes cast in the Zimbabwe election on behalf of dead people.

This is sadly no exagerration. A couple of years ago I was at an international political conference where various countries discussed their elections, and hat worked and what didn’t.  One of the Opposition MPs from Tanzania (I think) got up and told us how their major accomplishment was that they reduced from one million to just 300,000 the number of dead people who voted!!

This made us realise how relatively trivial our problems were, such as people out until later so harder to contact them!

Labour candidate called for Government to shape up or ship out

March 28th, 2008 at 4:47 pm by David Farrar

Oh dear, one of the problems of having been involved in student politics is quotes can come back to bite you. Not so bad for me as Labour were in power from 1986 to 1989, so I had fun helping lead protest marches against Phil Goff (and rude chants that rhymed) and no confidence motions in Stan Rodger.

Steady Eddy has pulled up an old quote by Labour’s Epsom candidate, Kate Sutton:


Well the Government has not shaped up by introducing universal living allowances, so presumably Kate still stands by her press release that they should ship out!

Independent Financial Review on Public Holidays

March 28th, 2008 at 4:18 pm by David Farrar

The Independent Financial Review’s editorial this week, has endorsed the suggestion from Jim Donovan, which I blogged about, to abolish public holidays and give people an extra 10 day annual leave, allowing them to decide for say five of the days when they will take them. The editorial says:

Now, here’s a thought.

Jim Donovan, a blogger, proposes we do away with public holidays altogether.

There are 10 statutory holidays, and these 10 days would be added to worker’s annual leave entitlement – 20 days, in most cases.

At present, when employees want to take annual leave, it must be agreed in advance with their employer.

The new legislation would specify a certain number of days – Donovan suggests five – which the employee can nominate in advance, and which the employer is required to grant.

To prevent gaming behaviour, those days once nominated would have to be taken off, unless the employer agreed otherwise.

One advantage, says Donovan, is the economy, businesses and consumers would gain several trading days a year.

Another is employees would gain more days they could take off when it suited them, rather than when the calendar mandates they must. So families could organise reunions at a time when peak fares and holiday traffic were no hindrance.

Of course, there are issues.

Donovan points out there would have to be exemptions for essential services, but says he’d keep the list short.

In an economy made up of small businesses, some would have problems covering for key staff taking certain days off as by right.

Some might not be able to open at all. But there would be fewer of these days than are lost at present through mandatory closing.

And some will argue, as they do now, the spiritual significance of Easter and Christmas would be diminished if those days were simply trading days like any other.

But the force of this argument is dissipating as the population becomes more multicultural, and secular.

Those who celebrate Christmas as a religious day, or as a secular holiday, could simply specify it as one of their mandatory days off.

What’s more, as blogger David Farrar points out, Donovan’s regime would be far more friendly to adherents of religions other than Christianity. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc, would be able to specify their own religious holidays as mandatory days off.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Council of Trade Unions reacts to the idea. It presumably will embrace with open arms a concept that would deliver greater output and more freedom.

Great to see a business newspaper pick up a proposal from a blog.  And it is a good proposal. Hopefully with a change in Government one could get some policy work done on whether one could implement such a change, and how.

NBR taking the piss

March 28th, 2008 at 4:01 pm by David Farrar

This should come with a public health warning.  The mental visual images could harm you. But NBR today has some fun in their sarky In Tray column, as they ummm, present the naked news.  They also have lots of other fun at my expense:

What you missed this morning on National Radio Nudes …

Geoff: Ah, I think it might be time to hear what’s coming up later this morning on Nine to Noon. David?

David P Farrar: Thanks Geoff. Well, this morning on Kiwiblog we’ll be hearing from Sir Roger Douglas who will later be joined by Act leader Rodney Hide to talk about the experience of contributing to my blog. [David removes jacket.] A bit later on you’ll be treated to some of my own thoughts about this year’s election, the outcome of which many observers are already saying I may yet influence. [Unbuttons shirt.] Then we’ll catch up with a few of my other political friends for a bit of a chat about the polls and how consistently accurate my reading of them has been. [Sound of shoes being kicked off.] And here’s something interesting … a discussion for our business listeners about how one runs a successful polling company — I’ll be interviewing myself for that for the entire hour. [Sound of belt loosening and jeans being tossed away.] Finally, we’ll move on to….

Sean Plunket: [hurriedly] Sorry, that’s all we’ve got time for on this subject. And now it’s time for Thought For The Day, with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a visiting minister who joins us this morning from the First Church of Obama in Chicago.

Heh, they skewer me quite well.