Archive for August, 2008

Scampi Inquiry Video

August 31st, 2008 at 9:46 pm by David Farrar

Few would be surprised that the never aired TVNZ interview alleging perjury before the scampi select committee inquiry has made its way onto the Internet, and is on various video sharing sites and political blogs.

Neither TVNZ nor TV3 have shown it, but I suspect many New Zealanders will get to view it on the Internet, as it is near impossible to kill off material once it has appeared online.

The allegations and issues around the scampi inquiry are too serious to ignore. The next Government, regardless of who is in power, should order a full judicial inquiry into the issues and allegations. There may be nothing to them, but if that is the case, then those accused should welcome the chance to have their names and reputations cleared.

PS: Please do not place links to the videos in the comments, as there is some legal risk in doing so.

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Wishful Thinking?

August 31st, 2008 at 3:39 pm by David Farrar

Poor Labour Head Office had a rough day with three versions of the list being published, as resorting tables in excel produced some errors.

The first list has Judith Tizard ranked as 1st equal. Either they are very worried about Auckland Central or they are taking being Helen’s helper too literally!

The second list had List MP Lesley Soper at Number 77!! I knew she was unpopular, but my God that was brutal I thought. Luckily for her, it was a typo.

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The 2008 Labour Party List

August 31st, 2008 at 3:35 pm by David Farrar

Labour has released its 2008 party list, with an optimistic 77 list candidates. They have been quite bold with their rankings, which is good to see.

Labour has 85 candidates in total. 8 are standing for electorates only, 62 are standing for electorate and list and there are a massive 15 list only candidates.

The eight electorate candidates not on the list are in Ilam, Kaikoura, Manukau East, Manurewa, Napier, New Plymouth, Waikato (no candidate selected yet which is bizarre) and Whangarei.  Four of them are MPs – Hawkins, Robertson, Duynhoven and Fairbrother. This means Fairbrother is out of Parliament barring a miracle in Napier.

Labour currently has 31 seats. Polls show them behind in Te Tai Tonga and Ikaroa-Rawhiti. The latest Colmar Brunton Poll (the only one which asks electorate vote) has National at 50% and Labour at 40% on the elctorate vote. On my electoral pendulum this has Labour losing just five seats – Taupo, Rotorua, Otaki, Hamilton West and West Coast-Tasman.

Note this is not a prediction. Thsi is simply applying the gap in the polls on a linear basis to the 2005 majorities on the new boundaries. I happen to think National will pick up more seats than that, but this is the best scenario available on the public polls.

So that leaves Labour with 24 electorate seats. On the time and date weighted average of the public polls, Labour has 36.3% and there is 3.2% wasted vote giving them an effective vote of 37.5%. That would give them 45 MPs – 24 electorate MPs and 21 list MPs.

So who will be in the Labour Caucus? Well remember that Hawkins, Robertson, and Duynhoven are not on the list at all. But let us look at those who are:

On this list there would be several new Labour MPs, if their current polling holds up. They are:

  1. Rajen Prasad, Chief Families Commissioner – in on 22%
  2. Jacinda Ardern, former Clark staffer – very highly respected – in on 25%
  3. Raymond Huo, rumoured to help significantly with funding – in on 26%
  4. Phil Twyford, former Oxfam head – in on 30%
  5. Carol Beaumont – in if wins Maungakiekie or on 31%
  6. Kelvin Davis – Northland school principal – in on 31%
  7. Carmel Sepuloni – young Pacific Islander working at Auckland Uni – in on 35%
  8. Stuart Nash – defeated by Russell Fairbrother but more likely to be an MP – in on 36%
  9. Clare Curran – will win Dunedin South
  10. Grant Robertson – if he wins Wellington Central
  11. Chris Hipkins – if he wins Rimutaka
  12. Iain Lees-Galloway – if he wins Palmerston North
  13. Brendon Burns – if he wins Christchurch Central

13 new MPs would not be bad. In fact you have to congratulate Labour for finally not protecting their incumbent MPs. They should have done it last time, but better late than never. And the new intake are rather more diverse than the normal union/academic background of most of them.

Now which MPs are at risk?

  1. Russell Fairbrother – dog tucker
  2. Lesley Soper – only back in 42% – also dog tucker, and no surprise
  3. Louisa Wall – huge surprise here. She had really impressed me to date. But she has an unwinnable position unless Labour gets 41%
  4. Dave Heroera – out unless they get 40% – no loss.
  5. Martin Gallgher – out unless they get 39% or win Hamilton West
  6. Mahara Okeroa – out unless he can retain Te Tai Tonga or Labour gets 38%
  7. Mark Burton – out unless he holds Taupo (most unlikely on new boundaries) or Labour get 38%
  8. Judith Tizard – out unless she holds Auckland Central or Labour get 37%
  9. Damien O’Connor -out unless he holds West Coast-Tasman or  Labour gets 37%
  10. Rick Barker – - out if Labour drop below 34%
  11. Darien Fenton – out if Labour drop below 34%
  12. Ashraf Choudary – out if Labour drop below 33%
  13. Steve Chadwick – out if she loses Rotorua and Labour drops below 32%

Labour’s current polling would see nine go, but if the latest scandals push them down further, a further four MPs at immediate risk. The real surprise to me is Louisa Wall. She is brand new and had promise.

So what will Labour’s Caucus look like? Well on the current public polling scenario giving them 45 MPs, it would be:

  • Only 8 MPs or 18% from the South Island
  • 38% female, which isn’t bad at all
  • 49% would be aged in their 50s though
  • They would have only six Maori MPs – the same number as National! They would be Horomia, Mahuta, Jones, Ririnui, Mackey, and Davis
  • Four Pacific Island MPs – Laban, Sio, Chauvel and Sepuloni
  • Three Asian MPs – Choudary, Prasad, and Huo

Now again this is just a scenario based on public polls. The electorates won or lost will differ, and that changes things. But overall Labour look to be in pretty good shape even if they drop in the polls – they will get some new talent in, and most of the MPs they risk losing, are losable. I’d be thinking I did a pretty good job if I sat on the Labour List Ranking Committee.

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A research project

August 31st, 2008 at 12:54 pm by David Farrar

Does anyone out there have half a day or so to spare to do some research for a series of posts I want to do on Kiwiblog? It mainly involves going through three to four dozen or so sets of electronic financial statements and extracting some key data into an excel spreadsheet.

Happy to give further details to anyone who has the time and wishes to help. This is not for a big scandal type post but wanting to do some analysis which may be useful for the election. E-mail me if you can help. It can be divided amongst more than one person also.

UPDATE: That was quick. Already have someone. This has given me an idea though that I could look at formally expanding the Kiwiblog team by having more people prepare material for me. A couple of research assistants who can crunch numbers. A graphic designer who can create simple fake billboards etc. We already have a cartoonist! I may think about this and give out a call for talent.

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Olympic Sports that should not be

August 31st, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Raybon Kan has a funny but largely correct column of what sports should not be in the Olympics:

Soccer. The Olympics should be the pinnacle of achievement. If not, get out. For tennis, it’s a Grand Slam. For basketball, it’s an NBA championship. For football, the World Cup. In the Olympics, football is a patronising under-23 tournament. If we wanted to see under-age competitors, we’d watch gymnastics.

I could not agree more here. If winning the gold medal is not the most aspired for achievement in that sport, then don’t have it in the Olympics.

Hockey. This is the best example of a sport really being improved by ice. Handball. As far as I can tell, handball is football with everyone cheating. Or it’s waterpolo without the water. If we must have a sport for people without skills, I’d rather see dodgeball, or even tag.

Ice Hockey is great! I don’t mind hockey at the Olympics but generally think team sports are a bad match, unless it is very small teams such as relays or rowing where no one is potentially a spare part.

Dodgeball would be a great Olypmic sport :-)

Rhythmic gymnastics. The proper place for this is the opening ceremony. Equestrian. I don’t mean to be speciesist but let’s let the Olympics be about humans. Horses, giddy up. You’re outta here. The pinnacle of achievement for a horse is the Triple Crown or Melbourne Cup. Besides, any horse that plaits its own hair is obviously taking some serious stimulants.

If horses are in, they might as well include dogs catching frisbees, or dolphins in the swimming. There’s a reason Mark Todd can compete in this many Olympics: the horses do the work. Is it a summer sport if you can compete at the highest level, wearing that many layers of formal clothing, like the admiral of a brass band? I’m sure there’s a Siegfried and Roy/Dr Doolittle ingenuity to training a horse to be this clever. But do it in Vegas, not the Olympics.

I expect Raybon will receive many outraged missives from horse riders on this!

And how do you think poor countries feel when they see equestrian? The horses eat better than most of their own citizens/refugees/insurgents. Entire developing continents probably watch equestrian because it looks yummy.

Beach volleyball. I feel like I’m watching a bad teenage movie set at the beach. And I am quite a perv. Yet, even as a perv, I have yet to be motivated to watch beach volleyball any longer than it takes to change the channel. The only good thing you can say about beach volleyball is that it positively influenced what women wear in the high jump and pole vault.

Heh indeed.

Whitewater kayaking. Slalom skiing minus the excitement.

Walking. No appeal, no question. Gone. Walking is a bunch of people urgently looking for the toilet, wanting to hide the fact they’re busting. It wouldn’t even be good sped up, with music from Benny Hill. And if a judge can keep pace with a competitor, while studying their feet, and holding a flag, the competitor is not doing anything special. When I get out of the car, and walk to a cafe, no onlooker would say I am making this transition in the spirit of the Olympics. When you do your grocery shopping, you are not performing an Olympic sport, with the extra challenge of weights.

This is also bound to get him many outraged letters!

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Eye to Eye on Maori Party

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

An interesting collection in the studio. John Tamihere hosting with Matthew Hooton, Hekia Parata, Derek Fox and Chris Trotter.

Hooton pointed out that National has said it will offer the Maori Party a role, even if they don’t need them to govern. So up to the Maori Party if they want to play ball.

Derek Fox says up to National and Labour to decide what they will do, and they will decide after the election.

Chris Trotter says he used to think National and the Maori Party agreeing to work together in coalition or on confidence and supply as preposterous, but now it is more likely than the Maori Party supporting Labour!!!

Trotter also points out Maori Party will get National to drop Maori seats abolition policy as price of a deal.

Tamihere said Turia favours National, Sharples favours Labour, Flavell is all over the place and Harawira favours a more neutral cross-benches position. Not sure he would know, but an interesting analysis. Derek Fox has just said his analysis is completely at odds with the meetings he has been sitting in. Fox also says he is not conservative and rejects old labels like that.

I am enjoying Tamihere calling Trotter “Trotsky” and telling Matthew “Shut up Hootie” – something Kathryn Ryan probably wishes she could say occassionally :-)

They then turned to Winston and Matthew has a superb quote:

He may use all this publicity to target the mad elderly Pakeha racist vote and get up to 5%

And this is Helen’s coalition partner he is describing!

Hooton points out that Maori Party would be one of many parties if a Labour-led Government is formed but with National could form a majority just with them probably.

Trotter says he thinks Labour does not want to deal with the Maori Party in his view, which is why they need Winston.  If Winston is not there, National can form a stable Government with 46% of the vote.

So Labour is choosing Winston over the Maori Party!

Fox advocates merit of staying on cross-benches to avoid the fate of most minor parties in Government.

An amusing mistake by Hekia Parata as she said John Key had ruled out United Future when she meant NZ First. They joked Peter Dunne had already started slitting his wrists! Parata was very good on the show, and demonstrated why she will probably be a Minister during her first term in Parliament.

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The Hollow Woman Screenplay

August 31st, 2008 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks has written a nice sequel to the Hollow Men, and has a screenplay of a scene involving Helen and Winston on Friday. Very very good. An extract:

WP So what’s your bone for the dogs. Spit it out. I’m not resigning. – you know what I’ve said – I’m not going down for this on my own sunshine. You put that loose-lipped idiot Glenn into this case.  You gave him no script, or didnt get him to stick to it. I had no clout with him after you canned that consulship cause it would be a bad look. I only met him a couple of times and the boorish shit left me in no doubt that he was only letting us have the money cause your guys told him to. I told him he could have that consulship so you’ve only got yourselves to blame when he got the pip.

HC – Thats the past. We are where we are and unless I look as if I’m in charge, and you look as if you accept the rules for the moment I’ll lose the power to manage this. Don’t underestimate this Winston. Even our trusties among the  journos are finding it hard to explain why you’re still standing with me beside you. None so far have tried to think past stupidities like my “determination to pass the ETS” and “keeping open a post-election coalition with you”

And the conclusion:

WP – A Privileges Committee roll-over doesn’t get me back if it’s the SFO investigation that’s the trouble.

HC – Look assuming you haven’t stolen the money you’ll be “cleared” when they say they are dropping the investigation cause there is no “fraud” cause the money ended up where it was supposed to. Only the Police deal with breaches of electoral law, and we can rely on them. So SFO will pull out leaving that electoral stuff alone.. The media chooks will treat ‘no further action’ as innocence, and so will your grey power.

WP – OK I’ll go along with it for the meantime. I’ll review it every day, and the moment I think you might renege, it’ll be Plan B.

Ficton or telepathy? You decide!

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Minor Party Leaders on Agenda

August 31st, 2008 at 11:07 am by David Farrar

An interesting discussion on Agenda this morning.

Jeanette Fitzsimons said Peters has shown a contempt for the public and the public’s right to know. It is not just a matter of illegality.

She was asked if she could work with NZ First in a governing arrangement. Fitzsimons said that the party decides that but her personal viwe is you have to be able to trust someone around the cabinet table, you have to be able to trust and take their word and know it is not going to take weeks and weeks before questions are answered and only under coercion. She personally would be uncomfortable in a governing arrangement with NZ First.

Good on Jeanette for saying that. Not as strong as Key, but if the Greens won’t back Labour if they keep clinging to Winston, then he has no power even if makes 5%.

Peter Dunne hedges his bets and says he does not think either major party will want Peters and that NZ First will not be re-elected. However says he will decide on policies only, and not rule Peters out.

Jim Anderton says issue for Peters is not so much legal but hypocrisy of railing against donations from big business and taking them secretly.

Fitzsimons says she is most concerned about the fihsing issue, and wants it investigated.

Barry Soper has ripped into Anderton for saying the media have tried and convicted Peters in public.  He points out that teh media have been unable to get a single useful explanation from Peters for months on end and it is thanks to the media these issues have come to light. Says Anderton should applaud media if they believe in transparency. Anderton responds weakly.

Anderton now talking about the Brethren. Yawn. Now he is alleging the SFO is compromised as investigating Peters keeps them alive.

Dunne says he has no problem with Key ruling Peters out, and suspects he has wanted to for some time. Says he “fully understands” that John Key needed to put a marker in the sand.

UPDATE: A friend points out to me that Jeanette is a very polite person, and her comments indicating diffculties serving with Winston was Green Speak for “Fuck Off” :-)

I hope so! Removing Winston from power (only the public can remove him from Parliament) is something all parties in Parliament should agree on. It should not be a partisan issue.

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SST on Clark

August 31st, 2008 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

This week she is not near perfect. The SST talks of her revelation:

After months of confusion over the Glenn donations, it turns out Clark has known much more than she has been letting on. The famously candid prime minister has been caught out being economical with the truth.

She said she knew as early as February that there had in fact been a donation something that Peters only ended up confirming in July after his lawyer Brian Henry told him.

“It’s always seemed to me that somewhere, someplace there must have been some kind of contribution, but it wasn’t clear where,” she said.

Why did Clark suddenly come clean? One theory is that Labour has realised that their sugar daddy has turned feral on them, and that Clark feared what Glenn might reveal next in any further testimony to the privileges committee.

That seems most probable.

While Peters has been centre-stage, Clark has also taken a less visible but potentially hugely damaging political body blow this past week.

Indeed.

After the 2005 election National dealt the first hammer blow to Clark’s reputation, with the revelations that Clark’s pledge card had been paid for out of parliamentary spending when it should have been paid out of party funds.

And that they deliberately over-spent in the 2005 election!

Now Clark’s credentials as a straightforward and competent leader have been shaken again. Not only are there questions about why she wasn’t franker, sooner. There are also questions about why she didn’t get to the bottom of Peters’ donations in February, rather than turn a blind eye to what was clearly a major problem area.

And all it would have taken was a simple phone call back to Owen Glenn. A donation is not like a conversation, where there can be two versions of what happened. It is a simple provable fact. She could have asked Glenn for verification. She did not, because she knew that Glenn would be able to provide that proof, and she wanted to continue the sham of pretending her Foreign Minister was telling the truth.

The ground shifted in a third way last week. National leader John Key’s stand to rule out Peters as a potential coalition partner saw Key come forward out of the shadows as a leader. As a money dealer, Key was known for calmly taking big and risky stands in the market, and then collecting up large. Key learned in that career an exterior blankness that hid his true feelings, much like a high stakes poker player.

But as a politician, that blankness has made it difficult for the public to get to know him. Last week he showed a hint of steel beneath his bland exterior, and gave the public more clues on his dimensions as a potential leader.

A number of people have made the mistake of under-estimating John Key.

Now Key is at work drawing a sharp, lethal line that threatens to cut Labour off from all that has made it strong. He is acknowledging the old, popular, trusted Helen Clark. But he is claiming that Helen Clark is gone. Instead he claims today’s Helen Clark is different, mired in the evasions and compromises of coalition politics. Last week gave Key some more of the weapons he needs to carry out the job.

People just need to keep repeating these two lines:

  • A vote for New Zealand First is a vote for a Labour-led Government
  • A vote for Labour is a vote for Winston to be in Government

Simple.

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Sarah Palin

August 31st, 2008 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin certainly has suceeded in catching the headlines. It has dominated the cable news netwroks for two days now. Before I blog in more depth on her, a quick reference back to the Obama speech.

Factcheck.org fisks Obama’s speech and finds seven inaccuracies, half-truths, exaggerations etc. Now to be fair, I am sure when McCain does his speech, they wll find a similiar number. But I think it is a wonderful resource to have a neutral well funded site that checks facts and claims from both sides. We badly need one of those in New Zealand. That would be a project worth getting a few million donated towards!

Now back to Sarah Palin. Power Line looks at how much of an outsider she is:

So Palin was an upstart in every possible way when she challenged Frank Murkowski, the former Senator and entrenched Republican Governor who, among other things, appointed his daughter Lisa to succeed him in the Senate. Palin was opposed by the entire Republican establishment in Alaska, including Senator Ted Stevens–after whom the Anchorage airport is named–and Congressman Don Young. Notwithstanding the hostility of her party’s elder statesmen, Palin defeated Murkowski in the primary. She then faced the popular former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the general election. In what would have been considered an extraordinary upset just a few months earlier, Palin trounced Knowles, despite reported efforts by her own party’s leaders to defeat her. As Governor, she has enjoyed approval ratings in the 80s.

So it is hard to imagine a more complete outsider, in terms of national politics, than Sarah Palin. She ran and was elected as a reformer, has governed successfully as such, and owes nothing whatever to anyone in Washington. Personally, I’m not as anti-Washington as many conservatives, but it would be just about unAmerican not to root for a rebel and outsider like Palin.

This is what I like about Palin. She is the genuine deal, as much as anyone can be in politics.

But criticism of her experience is valid, if overly dramatised.

Could I say she is ready to become President on January the 21st 2009 should John McCain drop dead on the day of his inauguration? Not really. She does not have the experience in national politics. However she is standing for VP, not President, and people do overplay the McCain age issue. It is worth remembering that John McCain’s mother is still alive!! Given time, Palin as Vice-President will gain the experience so she could step up if necessary. So there is a risk should something happen very early in a McCain presidency, and that will be a factor in voting – not a huge factor though I suspect.

Some people have claimed Palin is more experienced than Obama to be President, as she has had two years of executive experience as Chief Executive of Alaska. It is true that Obama has no executive experience, and limited federal legislative experience. But 18 months on the campaign trail has exposed him to almost every issue domestic and foreign and Palin has not had that. Of course Obama is standing for President, not VP.

Palin is somewhat of a risk. If she does a massive blunder, or a series of minor ones, in her early days, she will be painted as a Dan Quayle (who was in fact somewhat unfairly treated) lightweight. But if she does not stuff up, she could develop a lot of popular support. Both Palin and McCain are genuinely independent of their party machines, and may appeal to those independents.

I still think Obama is favourite to win, as his get out the vote organisation will be so massive, that he will win on turnout. But there is still a long way to go.

I’ll finish with some quotes on Palin from the Palin for VP blog, which had been quietly pushing her for many months:

I have been working to draft Gov. Palin as Vice President since February of 2007, and I can recount first hand how she has united divergent views among Republicans and is now even gaining Democratic support. The key is that she offers a combination of qualities that make her a hero to many, many different groups. For instance, two of our strongest bases of support have been social conservatives and libertarian republicans, who are normally at each other’s throats.

However, she offered both groups something that they desperately wanted without compromising any appeal to the other. The SoCons loved her pro-life, pro-family, and pro-gun positions, while the libertarians and fiscal conservatives cheered her on as she vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of wasteful government spending. Getting those two groups to sing kum-ba-ya was enough of an accomplishment, but now it appears that a third group has found what it wants in Gov. Palin: McCainocrats.

If anyone can unite those bases, she does it to a reasonable degree.

By upending Alaska’s corrupt political class, Palin has actually produced the type of change that Barack Obama can only talk about; and her collar is far bluer than Joe Biden’s ever was. Furthermore, she is arguably the only candidate who has the necessary expertise to address the single most pressing issue in this election: gas prices. As Governor of Alaska, Chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (America’s largest interstate organization), and a former Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Sarah Palin can run rings around almost anyone when it comes to oil.

That’s a good point. She may be inexperienced on some issues, but if they position her as a VP who will lead the Administration’s energy policy, that could appeal.

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Harawira on Labour

August 31st, 2008 at 9:10 am by David Farrar

My position on the Maori Party is that long-term they are more natural coalition partners for Labour. This is despite certain Labour bloggers having attacked them as being nasty right wingers because they don’t agree with them on every issue.

However I have generally felt that there is a reasonable chance they might go with National in 2008. For several reasons:

  1. If they have just won six or seven of the Maori seats off Labour, why would they make Parekura Horomia Minister of Maori Affairs again?
  2. By going with National at least once, it means Labour in the future won’t take them for granted and treat them like doormats, as they do with the Greens.
  3. By going with National, they can claim to have “saved” the Maori seats as a deal would inevitably see that issue negotiated away.
  4. It helps them position themselves as 100% pro-Maori and not right or left – willing to work with either party.
  5. Putting an unpopular third term Government back into office for a fourth term is electorally risky for a minor party in the centre.

Now again, don’t get me wrong. In the long term I think they will end up supporting Labour far more often than National. Yes there are areas of policy similiarity with National, but there are greater ones with Labour. But tactically there are some advantages to going with National in 2008.

Now the main thorn in the side of this theory has been Hone Harawira. the Maori Party is not tightly whipped, and he has been passionately anti-National in the past. But the SST today reveals him saying:

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira told the Star-Times that the Labour-led government was “stale” and arrogant and it was time for a change of government.

“They’re suffering from the arrogance of being in power too long. At the moment they’re a coalition corpse. They’re gone, and anybody who is associated too closely with them is likely to be gone as well.”

That’s a pretty bold statement. Now it is not a final position. The Maori Party will undertake some flaxroots consultation to make a decision after the election. But it does suggest that Harawira will be arguing against going with Labour again, not for Labour.

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Please can we have some more money Owen

August 31st, 2008 at 8:57 am by David Farrar

The SST reveals that as recently as May or June, Labour were asking Owen Glenn for more money.

Considering the smear campaign they now have againgst him, he will be very glad he did not donate!

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HoS on Peters

August 31st, 2008 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

Every columnist is talking Peters, so I’ll take them all together. First of all Bill Ralston:

Meanwhile, that same morning, Winston was somewhere in Auckland in his ministerial limousine going stratospheric. For a man who has spent weeks dodging questions from the “meerkat” media he did something extraordinary. He rang Radio New Zealand and thundered he would convince Clark to keep him and “she will know these allegations are vile, malevolent, evil and wrong”.

This is again hypocrisy of the highest degree. When National was investigated by the SFO in 2002, for a cheque which passed through a trust account, Peters got up in Parliament and alleged a former Party President had stolen money from the party, and took a “cut” to bail out his company. Now that is a vile, malevolent, evil allegation if I have heard one.So naturally Trevor Mallard also jumped on the bandwagon and repeated it. There was no one at all in the media or public suggesting such a thing – the possibility was invented by Peters and Mallard.

While all Peters has to do at this stage is explain why donations intended for his party are not recorded as having reached it. The $25,000 donation from Bob Jones should have been declared either under his own name, or under the name of the Spencer Trust.

So far the participants he has identified in this “vile conspiracy” against him include me, the NZ Herald, the Dominion Post, TVNZ, TV3, Radio NZ, the Radio Network, the SFO, Act, National, and big business (except for those big businessmen who have funded him).

Hey don’t forget us bloggers. I want to be part of the conspiracy! Is there a joining fee?

Deborah Coddington has a novel definition of the moral high ground:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs could easily have sashayed offshore to some vitally important meeting, and left the Prime Minister to stave off the attacks.

Which she does admirably, I must say, shrugging away the poke, poke, poke from John Key, claiming the moral high ground by conceding a conflict of evidence given to the Privileges Committee by Owen Glenn and Peters.

So admitting that she knew for six months Peters was lying, and admitting it just before Owen Glenn is about to reveal you knew, is claiming the moral high ground? Well I choose the moral low ground then.

Coddington also suggests a deal with Labout to give Rimutaka to NZ First:

But they’ve overlooked a new development. Ron Mark is standing in Rimutaka, Paul Swain’s old electorate.

After Winston, Mark is NZ First’s best-known MP, and has a large following. He’s NZ First through and through – tough on crime, anti-foreign investment, against sale of state assets, working-class hero, bad boy made good. He’s also a bloody nice guy and with a careful campaign, and has a good chance of taking that seat.

Was this pre-arranged all along? It’s just too cute for Labour to stand a young unknown with no prospect of winning in such a safe Labour seat.

I am not sure Labour regard a member of Clark’s personal staff as a no hoper with no chance of winning. And I am also unsure how calling someone a paedophile under parliamentary privilege sits with being a bloody nice guy.

Kerre Woodham opines:

In all cases, Peters has held up his hands and protested, like Sergeant Schultz, that he knows nothing. Bob Jones said Winston asked for some dosh at a party; Winston says that’s not what he remembers.

Owen Glenn says Winston rang him and asked him for a donation towards his fighting fund; Winston says that is not his recollection. At all times, Winston plays the victim card.

Actually Peters is now more like Colonel Klink with Helen Clark better suited for the role of “I know nothing” Schulz, as it turns out she knew all along.

I used to think the world of Winston, but it’s been a long time since I found him principled or amusing. His posturing that New Zealand First is the only party not to sully its hands with trust funds and big money donations can be seen for what it is – bullshit.

And yet it was all so unnecessary. If Peters had been honest and upfront from day one, who would have cared?

Since 1996, NZ First has declared almost no major donors. Doing so would harm their PR crafted image of being anti big business, when the truth is they were majorly funded by big business.

Finally we have the Herald on Sunday editorial:

Regardless of the outcome of the SFO investigation, Peters will remain a man in a political mire of his own creation. The allegations in Parliament by Act leader Rodney Hide that NZ First was paid by Simunovich Fisheries in return for Peters’ backing off claims that the allocation of scampi quota was corrupt have been around for so long that a high-level independent inquiry is called for. But on the matter of the donation by expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn, which is still being investigated by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, Peters continues to be evasive and pedantic. Glenn may have shown himself to be unreliable as to the details of times and places but he did give $100,000 and described it in an email as given “to NZ First”. If Peters did not know that on the day that the email first surfaced, he should have taken steps to discover and divulge all the facts immediately. Instead, he said everyone else was mistaken or a liar.

The HoS overlooks the fact that at a minimum Peters knew Glenn thought he had donated back in February 2008, when Clark told him so.

National leader John Key, plainly sensing that public patience is exhausted, made a bold move this week in saying that Peters would not be a cabinet minister in a National-led Government – by extension ruling out NZ First as a coalition partner.

This is less a challenge to Peters than it is to Prime Minister Helen Clark who, whatever she might say about the need to be fair, has known about the Glenn allegation for six months. In giving Peters enough rope to hang himself, she may have put herself in the noose as well.

Deservedly.

This week, the suggestion emerged that Ron Mark may stand as NZ First’s candidate in Rimutaka. A victory there could get the party two, or even three MPs – one of them the leader. Were Labour to connive at that, urging tactical voting to allow a NZ First victory in the hope of getting the numbers to form a coalition, Clark would confirm the suspicion she is now quite properly under: that she will turn a blind eye to Peters’ shenanigans to hold on to power.

The Rimutaka candidate, Chris Hipkins, works for Clark. Is it possible Clark will instruct him to endorse Ron Mark if they get desperate to ensure Winston’s survival?

She must match Key’s boldness by cutting Peters adrift and naming the election day. A campaign that consigns NZ First and its leader to the pages of history will allow the country to focus on important issues.

More importantly, it will treat Peters’ childish attention-seeking with the derision it deserves.

That would be nice. More likely is Clark will put Peters back into his portfolios as soon as she can.

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Daily Show parody of Barack Obama video

August 30th, 2008 at 11:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Show does have a liberal bias (like most US media) but fuck it is still so very very funny. And their show tonight satirises the Obama obsession very nicely. They do a parody of the Obama biographical video that preceded his speech in their video called Barack Obama:He completes us. Highlights are:

  • Obama as the cub in the Lion King
  • How his story began 180 million years ago when the continents broke apart
  • “The earthly son of a ….”
  • God (as a spiritual goat) telling him to run in District 13
  • A scene from Rocky!
  • How every time Obama speaks, an angel has an orgasm!

It really is funny. Only five minutes long.

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Peters is still a Minister

August 30th, 2008 at 5:56 pm by David Farrar

I’ve had formal confirmation that Winston Peters is still a Minister of the Crown. He has been stood down from his portfolios, but not as a Minister.

What does this mean?

He has no ministerial work to do, but still has all the baubles of office!

This “standing down” is in fact brilliant for him. He can campaign full-time, using all his Ministerial resources, without having to actually do any Ministerial work. No wonder he agreed.

The NZ Herald front page incorrectly said:

As a minister, Winston Peters enjoys some of what he has previously described as “baubles of office”. His standing down will see him stripped of at least some of these.

  • Salary drops from $195,700 as Minister outside Cabinet to $145,900
  • Free ministerial house.
  • Shiny, new chauffeur-driven BMW ministerial car.
  • VIP diplomatic passport.
  • All expenses paid international travel.

They got it wrong (to be fair to them they probably assumed a stand down involved some sort of well loss of benefit, and they were up against a deadline). He keeps all of these, but that is not the main thing he keeps.

He keeps his staff. Currently his staff are funded by both Ministerial Services and The Parliamentary Service. But the leader’s office budget from The Parliamentary Service is only $485,920, or including the research funding $639,920. That isn’t a lot. But the Ministerial Office budget tends to be close to or over a million a year. That means Winston will keep all his staff (except those that are portfolio specific), which is very useful in a campaign.

How long will Winston be kept on as a Minister without portfolio?

Winston gives the impression the SFO investigation will be over by Monday.

However the 2002 investigation into a donation to National took two months, or eight weeks, to conclude. Will Helen keep Winston on as Minister without portfolio for eight weeks? That’s a lot of baubles in return for no work.

UPDATE: TVNZ have just made the same mistake and said that “he has been relieved of a large chunk of his pay packet and other Ministerial perks”.

TV3 got it right though. Thank goodness someone did.

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History either way

August 30th, 2008 at 10:45 am by David Farrar

History will be made either way in November. Either the United States will have its first black President or it will have its first female Vice-President.

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Herald on Peters

August 30th, 2008 at 10:37 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The departure of Winston Peters, a relief as it is, does not mean he is gone entirely from our political life. Thanks to MMP he needs only 5 per cent of the electorate – one voter in 20 – to give New Zealand First their party vote at the coming election and he would return to Parliament. …

I’d say he has a sold base of 2% to 3%. The question is can he con an extra 2% to 3% to vote for him?

After all that has been disclosed this year it seems unthinkable that anyone would still believe him worth their vote but he has had a following that seems impervious to political reasoning. They are older people mostly, on low fixed incomes, unsettled by social change and suspicious of minorities, migrants and trends they fear.

Mr Peters has exploited their fears and suspicions mercilessly, sometimes at the expense of minorities and careless of the damage done to this country’s standing in migrants’ homelands.

Fear is his stock in trade.

To supporting audiences Winston Peters liked to portray himself as lonely hero assailed on all sides by rich and powerful interests that he alone would expose and hold to account.

In recent weeks it is he who has been exposed as a recipient of money, a lot of money, from rich and powerful interests and he has resisted the sort of accountability he demands of others.

I suspect we would be staggered to discover the total amount of big business funding Peters has had.

The National Party has written him out of the script for post election negotiations. Even if he summons enough support to survive, National’s John Key says he will not be acceptable in any ministry he might form. He has destroyed Mr Peters’ political leverage at a stroke.

Indeed. A vote for Winston is a vote for Labour. And almost beyond doubt a vote for Labour will be a vote to keep Winston!

Soon it will be up to his previous voters. Have they seen through him at last? Or have the disclosures of the past few months gone completely over their heads, merely reinforcing his heroic pose for them? Probably the latter. Ever susceptible to his rhetoric, grooming and charm, they might forgive him anything.

But he would return for nothing. The last of his credibility has disappeared. So should he.

The Herald has a right to say this. Winston Peters defamed the Herald. He suggested the e-mail they published was fake. He called on the Editor and Political Editor to resign in disgrace. And all that time he knew the e-mail was real. He knew Owen Glenn had donated money or at the very very least he knew Owen Glenn thought he had donated money.

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La Tomatina

August 30th, 2008 at 10:26 am by David Farrar

The annual Tomatina has just taken place in Spain. A photo from news.com.au:

Around 40,000 people took part – in a town with a normal population of 10,000!

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A nice suspension

August 30th, 2008 at 8:46 am by David Farrar

As I understand it, Helen Clark has suspended Winston Peters only from his portfolios, but not as a Minister. In other words he still gets his normal pay, his housing and transport allowances, his office, his ministerial funding and most importantly of all his staff, except the portfolio specific ones.

This means he gets to run his election campaign with full Ministerial resources, and they don’t even have any Ministerial duties to attend to.

John Key makes clear that his ruling out Winston is not tied to the SFO investigation:

Mr Key said questions still remained around the 2003 parliamentary inquiry into the scampi fisheries quota and whether Mr Peters had misled the public in relation to the Glenn donation.

He also questioned Mr Peters’ assertion today that Sir Robert’s donation had found its way to NZ First. If that was the case then why was it not declared, he said.

Mr Peters’ credibility had been severely dented and he would now find it hard to trust his word.

“We’ve had so many instances now where Winston Peters’ version of events just doesn’t stack up with the version of events presented by others.

“Really the call we made on Wednesday to effectively cut Winston Peters and New Zealand First loose wasn’t a call we made easily or lightly. We did it with the full knowledge it may well cost National an opportunity to be in government,” he said.

“I would find it enormously difficult trusting the word of Winston Peters.”

Key picks up a point I have made previously. The Herald today says:

The statement, several pages long, was generated by the trust and showed incomings and outgoings. It showed money from the Vela brothers and Sir Robert Jones going in, then being paid to New Zealand First.

If this is true, then NZ First have filed false donation returns for years on end.  As Winston Peters was railing against secret trusts, he had one which was funding NZ First. If what Peter WIlliams says is true, then how did the Auditor for NZ First ever sign off the donation returns? Or is there some explanation as to how Bob Jones gave $25,000 to the Spencer Trust, the Spencer Trust gave it to NZ First and NZ First does not declare a donation from the Spencer Trust?

Key again makes his stance clear in another Herald story:

“From our point of view,” he said, “the appointment of a minister to Cabinet has to be done on the basis that as Prime Minister I can look that person in the eye and have confidence that I can rely on their word.

“In the case of Winston Peters, I’m just not confident I can do that.”

Yet Helen is. How can anyone in NZ really think Peters was telling the truth when he said in July 2008 that he only first knew of the Glenn donation that day? I mean Helen Clark told him about it in February 2008, even if he didn’t actually know about it since it was solicited in 2005.

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McCain chooses Palin

August 30th, 2008 at 8:11 am by David Farrar

John McCain has made a great choice with Sarah Palin as his Vice-Presidential candidate. You could not get a more down to earth candidate, and she will help him significantly I think in appealing to working class voters – especially women.

She is Governor of Alaska and is their best traditions still hunts moose occasionally. She has also been a commerical fisherman.

She is very popular in Alaska where as she exposed severeal fellow Republicans for ethical breaches. She beat the incumbent Republican Governor for the nomination in 2006 and became Governor at 42. Her approval ratings have been over 90% in 2007 and as late as last month were 80% which is massive.

She is fairly moderate (for an Republican in Alaska!) on social issues. While against same sex marriage, she used her veto to over-turn a state law banning the state from giving benefits to same sex partners of state employees.

She has five children, including one son who has Down syndrome.

Palin won’t be a match for Biden on experience and policy details. But she will most definitely appeal to a lot of Americans as a politician they can relate to – who hasn’t got out of touch.

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The 2002 SFO investigation

August 30th, 2008 at 7:46 am by David Farrar

For all of Peters’ complaints about the SFO wanting to get revenge on him, they are doing exactly the same thing as they did in 2002 with regard to National, when there were also allegations about funding through a secret trust.

The SFO announced on 13 May 2002 the investigation:

Mr Bradshaw said he was investigating “a particular allegation relating to an aspect of funding provided to the National Party in the mid-1990s”.

It was not until 10 July 2002, that it cleared National:

Today, SFO director David Bradshaw said in a statement the investigation was complete and “there is no evidence of any criminal wrong-doing”.

Helen Clark called the election on 12 June for 27 July, so the SFO took two months back then to investigate, despite the fact it was in the middle of an election campaign. So any suggestions the SFO will on Monday announce it is all sorted out, seem rather optimistic.

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The Obama Speech

August 29th, 2008 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

A very nice event at the Embassy, watching the speech on the big screen. Obama does look almost flawless when he speaks and has a style which is graceful, if that is the word.

It was interesting he hit McCain quite hard and it was more substance than the rhetoric of previous speeches. He pledged to end oil imports within 10 years, which personally I think is impossible.

Jon Johansson spoke after the speech and gave what I thought was a good critique of it – he had been critical of some of the earlier speeches but said this was Obama’s best compared to the primary speeches. Johansson also said Bill Clinton’s speech last night was very powerful – again I agree.

The video they showed before hand on Obama’s life was pretty powerful also – told a carefully scripted and appealing story (and Margaret Clark I think pointed out very focused on appealing to working class Americans).

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The anti-Glenn line

August 29th, 2008 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar

My God. The line being pushed around to smear Glenn is so awful it is embarrassing.

They are saying his meeting at Karaka was well after midnight, that Glenn was pissed, and he was in fact talking to Howard Morrison, whom he confused for Winston Peters, because he can’t tell those Maori boys apart!

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The Barack Obama Speech

August 29th, 2008 at 12:27 pm by David Farrar

I’m off to the United States Embassy to watch Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. It is going to be an incredible moment, regardless of the fact I don’t like his policies. It is a milestone for the United States to have an African-American candidate for President, when just one generation ago they had segregation.

So offline most of the afternoon, but any breaking news I can blog from my blackberry. I’ve been doing that a lot this week.

I’m at the Embassy next week also for McCain’s speech. He should be announcing his Vice-Presidental candidate over the weekend, which will be fascinating. The choice of Biden doesn’t seem to have changed the polls much. I am picking a big spike after the speech today.

Oh one has to give Bill Clinton full marks in his careful use of language, where he declared Barack Obama the best man for the job of President of the United States. That is, well, just so Clintonian! Both can’t fault either of their speeches.

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The Empire Strikes Back

August 29th, 2008 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

I have heard today from a media source that Labour is in full smear mode against Owen Glenn. He is being described as a Walter Mitty type fantasist. This is incredible. Does this mean Clark will not suspend Peters? Surely not? I hear they may not even meet today now.

Normally I would be inclined to not believe they could be so stupid, but at the Senate Party last night (a great bash – well done Senate) I was also told there by another media source that a Labour Minister had been bad mouthing Glenn – not just this week but for the last six weeks or so. And when I say bad mouthing, I mean talking about his state of mind.

Do they really think we will believe that Owen Glenn donated $100,000 to Winston’s legal bills, and that he never discussed it with Winston, despite writing to the Privileges Committee saying he had?

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