Archive for September, 2008

Kiwiblog Stats

September 30th, 2008 at 6:54 pm by David Farrar

As it is end of the month, have taken a look at the various stat packages. First we have Alexa. This only measures traffic and ranks amongst those who have downloaded the toolbar. However in terms of trend, it gives some useful perspective:

This shows Kiwiblog’s rank amongst websites bowsed by NZers (who have the Alexa toolbar). The approaching election really seems to be having an impact, with Kiwiblog now in 90th place. The top 10 are:


Then we have the stats from WordPress

And finally Google Analytics gives me the top referring sites in September:

  1. No Minister – 3,951
  2. Whale Oil – 2,161
  3. The Hive – 2,038
  4. The Standard – 1,894
  5. Keeping Stock – 1,491
  6. Scoop – 963
  7. Public Address – 800
  8. Roar Prawn – 714
  9. Cactus Kate – 630
  10. Stuff – 596

And top search terms:

  1. Kiwiblog – 6,600
  2. Owen Glenn – 1,533
  3. kiwi blog – 1,160
  4. Laura Ede – 1,157
  5. David Farrar – 817
  6. tax cuts – 539
  7. owen glen – 529
  8. The Hive – 509
  9. Rochelle Rees – 486
  10. Whale Oil – 481

Most read pages

  1. Blogroll – 13,577
  2. Must Read Blogs – 7.920
  3. The Owen Glenn Hearing – 4,225
  4. Sharples says Labour – 3,050
  5. 2008 election candidates – 2,936
  6. general debate 26 Sep – 2,478
  7. Clarks claims Key would kill 60 – 1,866
  8. Election date announcement – 1,838
  9. Owen Glenn – 1,813
  10. The Election Dates – 1,768

Voting now open

September 30th, 2008 at 3:54 pm by David Farrar

Voting is now open in the 2008 Kiwiblog Awards. They close at 3 pm Friday 3 October. You can vote in the sidebar.

The most popular nominations in each category are:

MP of the Year

  • Rodney Hide – not even a finalist last year but a popular nominee for his campaign to expose Peters, amongst other things
  • Bill English – a repeat nominee – his year of picking apart the EFA was often cited
  • Pita Sharples – has become the Maori MP, Pakeha love to love, and helped position the Maori Party as Kingmakers.
  • Phil Goff – a China FTA plus a possible United States FTA endears Goff to many readers

Labour MP of the Year

  • Phil Goff was nominated by many but disqualified as the 2007 winner
  • Michael Cullen cited by many for his mastery of the House
  • David Cunliffe also impressed several with his determination to improve the Health sector
  • Winston Peters was nominated multiple times in this category, so who are we to stand in the way of the public!

National MP of the Year

  • Simon Power had the most nominations, having impressed with his constant highlighting of law & order problems, and also superb Chairmanship of the Privileges Committee.
  • John Key is still the country’s Preferred PM
  • Bill English was disqualified having won this category last year
  • Gerry Brownlee also often nominated for his take no prisoners methods in the House

Minor Party MP of the Year

  • Rodney Hide a popular nominee for many
  • Pita Sharples had 12 nominations in this category – will it be Minister Sharples in a few weeks?
  • Sue Bradford has had a quieter year than 2007 when she was runner up, but still gained some nominations
  • Hone Harawira also gained multiple nominations – the once reviled radical has been impressing a few people

Press Gallery of the Journalist

  • Audrey Young – Winston still has not apologised to her, but she was a favourite nominee amongst Kiwiblog readers
  • Duncan Garner – his “straight talking” doesn’t always win friends in Parliament, but has proven popular with some readers
  • Guyon Espiner – cool, clam and collected – the most viewed gallery reporter has some fans
  • Colin Espiner – the blogging journalist has many online fans

Public Servant of the Year

  • Grant Liddell – the SFO Director was a multiple nominee for doing what was right, regardless of what the Government wanted.
  • Owen Glenn – okay not technically a public servant, but many nominated him for having performed a public service.
  • Helena Catt – the Electoral Commission CEO wins the sympathy and nominations of many for having to try and work out what the Electoral Finance Act actually means, and for her willingness to criticise the law she has to enforce.

Enjoy voting.


September 30th, 2008 at 3:23 pm by David Farrar

The Herald backs Clark and Key in agreeing to debates between the two of them only:

They need make no apology for that. Theirs are the only parties capable of forming a government. Far from undermining MMP, their joint decision is perfectly in line with the way MMP has developed in this country. After 12 years, the voting system has not produced a three- or four-party contest as it did in Germany, the only close model.

There, the two smaller parties each attract around 10 per cent of the vote and can claim significant places on the stage at each election. The most successful of our smaller parties have half that support and it becomes harder to argue that they should be included in televised debates while others should not. …

National and Labour have a legitimate shared interest in minimising third-party influence. They are under no obligation to let minnows enjoy their limelight. They obviously see their prospects best served by a simple two-sided debate. The rest will no doubt get a separate televised forum for their contest.

And there is a debate on TV One on 27 October between the six minor parliamentary parties.

Meanwhile Pundit has a copy of the letter sent to Clark and Key from TVNZ and TV3 jointly:

A joint letter from news chiefs at TV3 and TVNZ last Monday pleaded with both Helen Clark and John Key not to turn their backs on multi-party debates, insisting they were of “fundamental importance in an MMP environment”.

I have said I think there should be one debate with all eight leaders. I would have four debates – two head to heads, one with all eight and one with only the minors.

But I do think people over-state MMP as the reason for including the minors. Social Credit has twice as many MPs as Jim Anderton, yet Bruce Beetham never got invited to the debates.

But talking of debates, the Alliance is complaining the CTU has refused to allow them to attend a Meet the Parties meeting in Christchurch:

Alliance Party Canterbury Convenor Quentin Findlay says the the local Council of Trade Unions leadership has locked the Alliance out of the debate.

He says Alliance members would be picketing the venue and would accept a last minute invitation to speak.

“All we are asking is for a chance to speak. No special treatment, we just to want to talk to the workers.”

Mr Findlay says the Alliance is a strongly pro-worker party that strongly supports the Union movement, and had not taken the decision to go public lightly.

Will Cullen cancel the tax cuts?

September 30th, 2008 at 2:48 pm by David Farrar

Bill English has raised the issue of whether Michael Cullen will, if re-elected, cancel the 2010 and 2011 tax cuts.

This is far from impossible. Consider the evidence:

  1. Michael Cullen promised tax cuts in 2005 and then cancelled them after the election on the basis of economic conditions.
  2. He has said that the level of debt has now passed his comfort zone
  3. His party is promising extra spending such as a pay jolt in education, a move to universal student allowances and longer period of paid parental leave, at a time when the economy is shrinking.

They probably won’t cancel them, but one could imagine if Dr Cullen delivers the 2009 budget, him announcing the 2010 tax cuts have had to be delayed due to the weak economy – probably until 2012 – after the next election again.

$880 million loss for the Cullen Fund

September 30th, 2008 at 1:30 pm by David Farrar

The Cullen Fund has lost almost $900 million in the last year.

This suggests that PREFU will show the Crown has gone into deficit or is budgeting a deficit now – for the first time since 1992. However the more important figure will be the OBEGAL, which is the underlying surplus.

And Helen makes 60%

September 30th, 2008 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Helen has climbed further up the dog toy stakes and has hit 60%.

We are also getting a box of the toys for the blogmobile so hope to get some action shots in various towns of dogs with their toys!

All Wellington beaches now topless and naked

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

Wellington City Council has quietly dropped the bylaw requiring beach goers over the age of eight to wear togs or clothes.

They have never enfroced the bylaw, not having any “apparel enforcement officers”, and point out the Police can take action if anyone is naked and acts offensively.

I suspect Wellington’s weather will be the main factor in stopping mass nudity on the beaches!

An open letter on the financial crisis

September 30th, 2008 at 10:32 am by David Farrar

Steven Horwitz from St Lawence University does an open letter to his friends on the left re the financial crisis:

In the last week or two, I have heard frequently from you that the current financial mess has been caused by the failures of free markets and deregulation. I have heard from you that the lust after profits, any profits, that is central to free markets is at the core of our problems. And I have heard from you that only significant government intervention into financial markets can cure these problems, perhaps once and for all. I ask of you for the next few minutes to, in the words of Oliver Cromwell, consider that you may be mistaken. Consider that both the diagnosis and the cure might be equally mistaken.

And then he addresses the issue of greed:

One of the biggest confusions in the current mess is the claim that it is the result of greed. The problem with that explanation is that greed is always a feature of human interaction. It always has been. Why, all of a sudden, has greed produced so much harm? And why only in one sector of the economy? After all, isn’t there plenty of greed elsewhere? Firms are indeed profit seekers. And they will seek after profit where the institutional incentives are such that profit is available. In a free market, firms profit by providing the goods that consumers want at prices they are willing to pay. (My friends, don’t stop reading there even if you disagree – now you know how I feel when you claim this mess is a failure of free markets – at least finish this paragraph.) However, regulations and policies and even the rhetoric of powerful political actors can change the incentives to profit. Regulations can make it harder for firms to minimize their risk by requiring that they make loans to marginal borrowers. Government institutions can encourage banks to take on extra risk by offering an implicit government guarantee if those risks fail. Policies can direct self-interest into activities that only serve corporate profits, not the public.

And then he looks at the facts:

For starters, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “government sponsored enterprises”. Though technically privately owned, they have particular privileges granted by the government, they are overseen by Congress, and, most importantly, they have operated with a clear promise that if they failed, they would be bailed out. Hardly a “free market.” All the players in the mortgage market knew this from early on. In the early 1990s, Congress eased Fannie and Freddie’s lending requirements (to 1/4th the capital required by regular commercial banks) so as to increase their ability to lend to poor areas.

Now think about this as the Government here passes a law requiring affordable housing in certain areas. The best of motives often lead to the worst of results.

At the same time, home prices were rising making those who had taken on large mortgages with small down payments feel as though they could handle them and inspiring a whole variety of new mortagage instruments. What’s interesting is that the rise in prices affected most strongly cities with stricter land-use regulations, which also explains the fact that not every city was affected to the same degree by the rising home values. These regulations prevented certain kinds of land from being used for homes, pushing the rising demand for housing (fueled by the considerations above) into a slowly responding supply of land. The result was rapidly rising prices. In those areas with less stringent land-use regulations, the housing price boom’s effect was much smaller. Again, it was regulation, not free markets, that drove the search for profits and was a key contributor to the rising home prices that fueled the lending spree.

Sounds a lot like NZ again doesn’t it – strict land use policies pushign up house prices.

The final chapter of the story is that in 2004 and 2005, following the accounting scandals at Freddie, both Freddie and Fannie paid penance to Congress by agreeing to expand their lending to low-income customers. Both agreed to acquire greater amounts of subprime and Alt-A loans, sending the green light to banks to originate them. From 2004 to 2006, the percentage of loans in those riskier categories grew from 8% to 20% of all US mortgage originations. And the quality of these loans were dropping too: downpayments were getting progressively smaller and more and more loans carried low starter interest rates that would adjust upward later on. The banks were taking on riskier borrowers, but knew they had a guaranteed buyer for those loans in Fannie and Freddie, back, of course, by us taxpayers. Yes, banks were “greedy” for new customers and riskier loans, but they were responding to incentives created by well-intentioned but misguided government interventions. It is these interventions that are ultimately responsible for the risky loans gone bad that are at the center of the current crisis, not the “free market.

I suggest people read the full thing. EVen better NBR should run it as a full page story!

Bolger keeping busy

September 30th, 2008 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

Tim Donoghue details how busy Jim Bolger is, and also how he is getting paid more than when he was PM!

  • Chair of NZ Post and Kiwibank – $165,144
  • Chair Gas Industry Company – $85,708
  • Chancellor of Waikato University – $25,350
  • Former PMs pension – $40,250
  • Former MPs pension – will be large as served from 1972 to 1998
  • Chairman of Kiwirail – probably $80,000 or so I estimate
  • Chair of Trustees Executors
  • Advisory Board of World Agricultural Forum
  • NZ-US Council
  • Board of Ian Axford Fellowshops in Public Policy

I know some Directors who serve on boards with Bolger and they rave about his chairmanship skills. I guess having chaired Cabinet with Ruth and Jenny in it, prepares you for anything 🙂

The sad reality of the “underclass”

September 30th, 2008 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

A Manukau District Court Judge has sent his notes to the NZ Herald to highlight a incredibly sad case in South Auckland, which is almost considered mundane now. They key facts:

  • Seven years ago, a 12 year old girl and her her friend were pretending to be prostitutes in Otahuhu, intending to run off with money after being paid, without delivering the service
  • The friend got away but she did not
  • Despite telling the then 38 year old man that she was 12, he raped her
  • The man has just been sentenced to ten years jail for the rape
  • The victim, now 19, gave evidence from jail where she is serving time for aggravated rape burglary
  • The friend is also in jail – for manslaughter

This is tragic on so many levels. The rapist is eligible for parole in just six years. Where were the parents as the 12 year olds were pretending to be prostitutes? How was she allowed to drop out of school at 12 years old?

Bailout defeated 207 to 226

September 30th, 2008 at 7:45 am by David Farrar

The US House of Representatives has voted down the US$700 billion bailout plan, and share markets have fallen further. Democrats voted around 3:2 in favour while Republicans voted around 2:1 against. The elections in a few weeks loom large – one of the problems of having such a short two year term.

Ironically Brian Fallow must have written his column in advance, saying:

American lawmakers may have pulled the United States and the rest of us back from the brink of economic calamity, but the path down from the clifftop remains long, tortuous and slippery.

Actually the lawmakers have pushed the world a bit closer to economic calamity.

Smart grafitti

September 29th, 2008 at 7:09 pm by David Farrar

This is great – they even got the font!

A good suggestion from Laila

September 29th, 2008 at 6:54 pm by David Farrar

Laila Harre has made a good suggestion regarding the Leader’s debates. Thw two major party leaders have said they want head to head debates, because otherwise they only get 10 minutes or so each in a 90 minute debate.

However the minor party leaders make the valid point that people are not just selecting a PM, but also coalition partners for the Government.

Matthew Hooton blogs on Laila’s suggestion:

On our regular slot on Nine to Noon this morning, Laila Harre came up with a great idea about how to faciliate this.  Laila argued that there should be a “Left” debate and a “Right” debate.

To develop the idea further, Laila’s idea would mean we get to see Clark v Key and decide which of these we want to be Prime Minister.  Then we see Clark, Peters, Anderton, Norman in a debate, then Key, Dunne and Hide.  The Maori Party, being more uncommitted, could decide whether to appear in one or both of the debates.

This makes sense to me.  It would still allow a Peter Dunne “worm” effect, as in 2002, if he did a much better job than Key.  The Greens could make the case why Labour votes should vote Green, and so forth.  Everyone gets exposure, but in a more serious context.  And Clark and Key together, as the two candidates for Prime Minister, aren’t put in the position of being equals with the smaller party leaders, which they are not.

I really like this idea. You may also get some really informative discussions in the “left” and “right” debates as they talk about what pace or what blend of policies is best, rather than the normal we are good you are evil rhetoric.

MPs survey of the media

September 29th, 2008 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Last week I set up an online survey for MPs, asking them to rate various media organisations and senior gallery journalists on a scale of 0 to 10. Just under one quarter of MPs responded, and the results are shown below.

As the media often rate how well MPs are doing, I thought it appropriate to reverse this and ask the questions in reverse. The media are a hugely powerful filter, and it is appropriate (in my opinion) to have some focus on how well they are perceived to be performing.

The questions were:

  1. For each media organisation please give them a rating from 0 to 10 for how well you think they do in their parliamentary reporting. This should take account of all relevant factors – accuracy, fairness, thoroughness, relevance, substance etc.
  2. Now for some individual senior members of the press gallery, please rate from 0 to 10 how well you think they perform at proving fair, accurate, unbiased and informative reporting on Parliament. You can skip any that you do not feel able to rate.
  3. Finally can you indicate your party grouping as National, Labour or Other. Your individual identity is not sought by us, and we have no way or interest in identifying individual respondents. However we would like to summarise results for all MPs and by the three groupings to see if they vary by party grouping.

It is important that these be read in context, so make the following points:

  1. This is the opinion of MPs only. It does not set out to be an objective rating, and should not be seen as such.
  2. MPs get reported on by the gallery. While this makes them the group of NZers potentially best able to have an informed opinion on the media (which is why I surveyed them), it also gives them a conflict of interest. MPs may score journalists lowly due to personal run ins with them, or the fact they are too good at their job! This should be borne in mind.
  3. I only e-mailed the survey to the 121 MPs, but it is possible that one or more responses was filled in by a staff member who has access to the MPs mailbox. I think this is unlikely, as most staff are very professional. However MPs were not required to prove their identity to vote, as confidentiality of individual responses was important. You need to know the Survey URL to be able to vote.
  4. National MPs made up 43% of responses, slightly above their numbers in Parliament. Minor Party MPs were also slightly over-represented, Labour MPs under-represented and some MPs did not give a party identification.
Media Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
NZ Press Assn 6.1 6 6 4 9 5
Newsroom 5.8 6 5 1 10 9
Trans-Tasman 5.5 6 6 0 8 8
NZ Herald 5.3 6 6 0 8 8
Scoop 5.2 5 5 0 10 10
Newstalk ZB 5.1 6 7 1 8 7
Listener 5.0 5 3 1 8 7
NBR 4.9 4 4 1 8 7
Radio NZ 4.8 6 3 1 9 8
Radio Live 4.4 5 1 1 8 7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5 5 0 7 7
The Press 4.2 5 1 1 7 6
TV Three 4.1 5 6 0 8 8
Dominion Post 4.1 4.5 1 1 7 6
TV One 3.9 5 5 0 6 6
Maori TV 3.7 4 5 0 6 6
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 7 0 7 7
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3 3 0 5 5

NZ Press Association tops the rankings with a mean or average 6.1 rating – and received no very low ratings from anyone. The two Internet agencies were in the top five, indicating MPs like the fact their releases are carried in full. Trans-Tasman also does well.

Television generally gets ranked lowly with all four stations in the bottom half. Sky News actually ranks highest.

Radio is middle of the field with NewstalkZB being the highest ranked radio broadcaster.

The newspapers range the spectrum. The NZ Herald is up at 5.3, Press at 4.2 and Dom Post at 4.1. I would have them all higher, but this is a survey of MPs, not of my views.

Now the sample sizes are of course very small (but of a limited population) but let us look at how National MPs ranked media compared to all the other MPs:

Media All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
TV One 3.9 6.3 2.2 4.2
TV Three 4.1 6.2 2.6 3.6
Maori TV 3.7 5.2 2.5 2.7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5.5 3.3 2.2
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3.5 2.1 1.4
Radio Live 4.4 4.8 4.2 0.6
Radio NZ 4.8 5.0 4.6 0.4
Dominion Post 4.1 4.2 4.0 0.2
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 3.5 0.0
Newstalk ZB 5.1 4.8 5.4 -0.6
The Press 4.2 3.8 4.6 -0.8
NZ Herald 5.3 4.2 6.1 -1.9
NBR 4.9 3.3 6.1 -2.8
Listener 5.0 3.3 6.3 -3.0
NZ Press Assn 6.1 4.3 7.4 -3.1
Trans-Tasman 5.5 3.3 7.1 -3.8
Scoop 5.2 2.8 7.0 -4.2
Newsroom 5.8 3.0 8.0 -5.0

National MPs ranked the four TV channels much higher than other MPs did. Maybe this is minor parties upset that they do not get on TV much?

Despite the generally accepted lean to the left of Radio NZ, National MPs ranked Radio NZ higher than other MPs did. And while some on the left attack the NZ Herald at favouring National, National MPs actually ranked them lower than other MPs did. The Listener and NBR also get accused of leaning right, but again get ranked lower by National MPs.

The Nat MPs also rated the online media very lowly.

Now the journalists. I decided not to list all members of the press gallery, but only those who are relatively senior, and are more likely to have a reasonable number of MPs have formed opinions about them. Looking back I could have included more.

If any journalist is unhappy about being missed out, happy to include you next year. Now again it is worth remembering these are only the opinions of those MPs who responded to my survey – it is not an objective rating.

Journalist Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
John Armstrong (NZH) 6.4 7 2 2 10 8
Peter Wilson (NZPA) 5.8 5 5 3 8 5
Audrey Young (NZH) 5.7 6.5 7 0 10 10
Ian Templeton (TT) 5.6 7 7 0 9 9
Jane Clifton (Listener) 5.6 6 6 2 9 7
Barry Soper (Sky & ZB) 4.9 5.5 7 1 9 8
Ian Llewellyn (NZPA) 4.9 5 5 1 8 7
Vernon Small (DP) 4.6 5 6 1 8 7
Colin Espiner (Press) 4.5 5 6 0 8 8
Guyon Espiner (TV1) 4.4 5.5 7 0 7 7
Tim Donoghue (DP) 4.1 4.5 2 1 9 8
Brent Edwards (RNZ) 4.1 4 4 0 7 7
Tracy Watkins (DP) 3.8 4.5 6 0 7 7
Duncan Garner (TV3) 3.7 3.5 3 0 8 8
Gordon Campbell (Scoop) 3.6 5 5 0 7 7
Ruth Laugeson (SST) 2.7 2.5 2 0 6 6

John Armstrong tops the ratings, followed by the NZPA Political Editor Peter Wilson. Generally MPs ranked journalists slightly higher than media organisations. As can be seen by the minimum ratings showing, some MPs were very harsh handing out zeroes. Did WInston multiple vote? 🙂 (Note I have no idea if Winston did vote)

And once again we compare responses between National MPs and other MPs.

Journalist All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
Laugeson 2.7 4.2 1.6 2.6
Clifton 5.6 7.0 4.5 2.5
Soper 4.9 6.2 4.0 2.2
Campbell 3.6 4.8 2.8 2.0
Edwards 4.1 4.8 3.5 1.3
Llewellyn 4.9 5.2 4.7 0.5
Young 5.7 6.0 5.5 0.5
Garner 3.7 3.5 3.9 -0.4
Espiner G 4.4 4.2 4.6 -0.4
Wilson 5.8 5.5 6.0 -0.5
Armstrong 6.4 6.0 6.8 -0.8
Watkins 3.8 3.0 4.4 -1.4
Donoghue 4.1 3.2 4.9 -1.7
Small 4.6 3.2 5.6 -2.4
Espiner C 4.5 2.8 5.8 -3.0
Templeton 5.6 1.8 8.5 -6.7

Again very interesting. The SST is generally seen as hostile to National, but Ruth Laugeson is ranked much higher by National MPs, than by other MPs. Likewise the Gordon Campbell and Brent Edwards (both left leaning) are ranked higher by National MPs than other MPs.

Also for some reasons National MPs ranked Ian Templeton very lowly. Maybe they don’t like his weekly chats with Clark and Key, ignoring the lesser MPs?

The Kiwiblog 2008 Awards

September 29th, 2008 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m opening nominations early for the Kiwiblog 2008 Awards, as I don’t want them caught up in the election.

As with last year, there are five categories:

  1. MP of the Year
  2. Labour MP of the Year
  3. National MP of the Year
  4. Minor Party MP of the Year
  5. Press Gallery Journalist of the Year
  6. Public Servant of the Year

Make your nominations below, and then I’ll announce the finalists and run a poll in each category. These are all positive awards – for the best person in each category.

Also are there any missing categories? Feel free to suggest some additional categories.

Last year the winners were:

  1. MP of the Year – John Key
  2. Labour MP of the Year – Phil Goff
  3. National MP of the Year – Bill English
  4. Minor Party MP of the Year – Heather Roy
  5. Press Gallery Journalist of the Year – Fran O’Sullivan
  6. Public Servant of the Year – Kevin Brady

I am instituting a new rule – you can’t win two years running in the same category, So you can’t nominate people in the category they won last year.

Natonal’s Maori and Treaty Policy

September 29th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

National also released yesterday its policies on Maori Affairs and Treaty Negotiations.

  • Include Kohanga Reo in the 20 hours early childhood education subsidy funding regime.
  • Expand the Te Kotahitanga professional development program.
  • Provide delegated funding to enable Māori health providers to deliver a wider range of services closer to home.
  • Expand Papakainga housing. This will involve working with Māori collectives and councils to remove planning restrictions on the development of housing on communal land and multiply-owned Māori land.
  • Ensure Māori receive their aquaculture settlement entitlement, and reform the Resource Management Act to facilitate growth and development in the aquaculture industry.
  • Move the Office of Treaty Settlements from the Ministry of Justice to another central agency such
    as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Appoint independent settlement facilitators to chair negotiations, keep the process moving forward, and ensure both parties act in good faith.
  • Empower the independent settlement facilitators to advise claimant groups on pre-negotiation and mandate issues so they can move forward to settlement negotiations more quickly.
  • Provide sufficient support to allow the Waitangi Tribunal to sit full-time, including reviewing the remuneration and support offered to members.

There seems to be a lot there that the Maori Party would support.

I especially like the commitment to speeding up the Treaty settlements by shifting the office to DPMC, having independent facilitators and greater resourcing for the Waitangi Tribunal. Now every historic claim has been filed, it is simply a matter of how long it will take to settle them.

Nine to Noon on blogs

September 29th, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Thanks to The Hive for highlighting this interesting discussion on Nine to Noon between Kathryn Ryan and Denis Welch on NZ political blogs. They talk about the Tumeke ratings and even pronounce Whale Oil’s full name on air!

You Tube for NZ election debates

September 29th, 2008 at 9:40 am by David Farrar

Google has sent out a press release announcing their partnership with TVNZ for the election:

This morning, YouTube and TVNZ have announced a world-first political debate, where New Zealanders will be able to put questions directly to Prime Minister Helen Clark and Leader of the Opposition John Key via the ONE News YouTube Election Debate.

The leaders’ responses will be broadcast live on TVNZ’s flagship News channel, TV ONE, on October 14. ONE News’ Mark Sainsbury will moderate the 90 minute ONE News YouTube Election Debate, with three of New Zealand’s leading political journalists asking additional questions.

Starting today, YouTube users in New Zealand, and expats, can submit their questions at

This is the first time that a head of a national government and the challenger for the top job will appear in an official live televised debate, featuring video questions asked directly by people using YouTube. In the United States, two CNN/YouTube debates were held in 2007, featuring Democratic and Republican candidates. The debates married YouTube’s online video platform with CNN’s political coverage and broadcast reach, bringing candidates and voters together in a unique way.

This is a very good thing. In one sense it is what we did with the TVNZ 7 debate with InternetNZ on Internet issues – video questions were submitted in advance. But having You Tube and One News involved elevates it to another level.

People should start thinking about questions to ask. I suggest ones to both leaders that are not obvious attack questions will be more likely to get selected.

The only pity is the debate is on the same evening as the legendary Aro Valley Meet the Candidates meeting.

General Debate 29 September 2008

September 29th, 2008 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

The week at iPredict

September 29th, 2008 at 7:39 am by David Farrar

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PM.National sold at just under 74c most of last weekend. At 6 pm when TVNZ announced they had a exclusive story on John Key’s undisclosed Tranzrail shares, PM.National dropped to 71c by 6.30 pm.

The release of the Privileges Committee report into Winston Peters saw a recovery, followed a dip again the next day when he got mauled during question time, resting at 72c.

It stayed at 72c on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday’s favourable poll results in the NZ Herald pushed PM.National up to a healthy 76c again.

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Peters.Resign share price has plummeted as it became apparent that not even a finding that he had filed false returns by the Privileges Committee and a parliamentary censure would cause Helen Clark to sack Peters. Peters.resign was over 50 c during the weekend and peaked at 65c as rumours of the Privileges Committee findings surfaced. But then PM Clark was reported as saying she was unlikely to act as the process had been tainted and the stock fell to 33c by 6.30 pm Monday night.

The Privileges Committee report was so damning that the prices rose again 57c, but then over the next few days has just declined constantly, reaching a low of 18c reflecting the market consensus that Clark will never sack him.

MP.Peters has also been in decline. The stock rose to 44c, but the Privileges Committee report saw it drop from Monday evening onwards, hitting a low of 32c on Thursday.

The new Benson.Pope stock (on whether he will stand as a non Labour candidate) was floated on Monday at 80c, and this ha proven to be a good float price, as the price has only ranged between 77c and 83c since then.

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Also launched this week were the US.Obama and US.McCain stocks. US.Obama was snapped up at 50c quickly hitting 64c before falling back to 56c where it spent most of the week. As the financial situation gets worse in the US, Obama’s chances have increased and his stock has climbed further to 60c.

National’s Electoral Law Policy

September 29th, 2008 at 6:46 am by David Farrar

National has released its electoral law policy, which includes of course repealing the EFA:

  • Repeal the EFA immediately after the election
  • Reinstate the Electoral Act, as it was before the EFA, but transfer into it the provisions in the EFA dealing with donations
  • Reform electoral law through a process involving all parliamentary parties and the public
  • Having a binding referendum on MMP by 2011
  • Begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats once all historic claims have been settled, which is anticipated to be 2014

It is good that National is retaining the donations provisions of the EFA, while repealing the rest of the Act. This exposes as a lie that National oppossed it because of the increased transparency around donations. In fact National agreed to this in principle way back in 2006. And it was Helen Clark who removed from the draft bill, any significant provisions around increased transparency of donations.

The donations provisions are not perfect, and I would hope they would be part of the overall review of electoral law post 2008. But until that review is done, it is best to keep the transparency obligations while removing all the parts relating to spending, third parties, definition of an advertisement etc.

It is worth remembering that if the Government is re-elected then the EFA will remain. Labour will just make it more onerous, if anything.

Now we know what Tommy Gear does

September 29th, 2008 at 6:33 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reveals that Tommy Gear is the NZ First staff member who pressured Te Ururoa Flavell to vote for Winston.

We always wondered what Mr Gear does for his taxpayer funded salary. Now we know – it is to lobby MPs not to find Winston guilty.

No way back

September 29th, 2008 at 6:26 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports on how the posibility of National and NZ First working together has gone beyond the point of no return.

This is a good thing.

Also one has to amused at Winston’s claim he doesn’t know if he can trust Key any more. That’s like Jim Jones saying he is worried about the cleanliness of the grape juice. Mind you he may have a point – he can’t trust Key to cover up for him, as Helen did.

One other issue of note:

Given the way Mr Peters has been able to turn a damning privileges committee finding against him into a political weapon, he could make a serious impact in the polls with a finding of “cleared” during the election campaign.

The SFO investigation has already revealed that NZ First filed at least one and arguably three years of electoral donation returns were false. It is also revealed that Peters and Henry gave false evidence to the Privileges Committee and that his Jan 2007 return to the Registrar of MPs Pecuniary Interests.

Just because there may bo no prosecution for fraud under the SFO Act, does not mean that NZ First has been cleared if they are facing prosecution under other acts for information revealed from the investigation.

Another 5% result for the Greens

September 28th, 2008 at 10:00 pm by David Farrar

I have been saying for some time that the Greens should be polling much higher than they are – picking up “ethical left” voters disgusted with Labour who can not bring themselves to vote centre-right.

But they continue to hover on the brink of electoral oblivion. Look at the five polls in September:

  1. TVNZ – 5.0%
  2. TV3 – 5.0%
  3. Roy Morgan – 6.5%
  4. NZ Herald 4.9%
  5. Fairfax – 5.0%

So four of the five polls have the Greens on the edge of disaster, and the campaign starts next week.

If I were the Greens, I would be asking where they can easiest gain votes from.  The answer seems obvious.

Political Awards by Steve Braunias

September 28th, 2008 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

Steve Braunias hands out his awards for 2008 viewing on Parliament TV. Some of them are:

  1. Biggest Wretch: Winston Peters
  2. Biggest Flirts: Margaret Wilson & Rodney Hide
  3. Best Valedictory Speech: Katherine Rich
  4. Best Smile: Sue Bradford
  5. Best Impersonation of Eternal Youth: David Parker
  6. Cruellest Wit: Michael Cullen
  7. Best Debater: Michael Cullen
  8. Most Acute Ears: Bill English
  9. Best Reply: Tau Henare

That reminds me I must start the traditional Kiwiblog poll for Best MP shortly.