Archive for July, 2009

Dim-Post: New Opposition Leader

July 31st, 2009 at 2:53 pm by David Farrar

domestic_goose

Satire at its best in the Dim-Post:

Citing the importance of robust opposition to a healthy democracy and the Labour party’s poor performance in holding the government to account, the Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand took the unusual step of directly intervening in the affairs of Parliament, making changes to the house that have shocked some, but drawn praise from many political and legal experts.

Emphasising Labour’s lacklustre record and the importance of an opposition party in scrutinising Ministers actions and speaking truth to power, the Governor General dismissed Mr Goff and the rest of his Labour MPs and on the same day swore in ‘Tiberius’, a four year old domestic Grey Goose who will act as opposition leader and sole opposition MP.

Tiberius is a great name for a goose.

The new MP has already made a strong impression on the government and its coalition partners; when Justice Minister Simon Power rose yesterday to introduce his new Search and Surveillance bill he was met with a tremendous quacking, honking sound, made by former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons; the sound awoke Tiberius who rose on his hind legs and rustled his six-foot long wings at Mr Power who then withdrew from the Chamber. The bill was defeated and will not proceed to Select Committee.

Heh

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Great quote

July 31st, 2009 at 2:20 pm by David Farrar

From Hansard yesterday:

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Will the Minister give the House a further assurance that she will not be releasing private information held on Department of Corrections databases about these prison officers—or any other staff who choose to exercise their democratic rights and oppose her Government’s policies—in an attempt to intimidate them in the same way that her ministerial colleague Paula Bennett did in respect of two solo parents?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I do not think that question even deserves the dignity of an answer. It is so bad. Quite clearly I do not have access to such information; I do not want access to such information. Frankly, if I wanted to intimidate someone, they would know it.

Heh indeed they would. I understand there was a huge amount of laughter from all sides for that rejoinder.

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An allowance is not an expense claim

July 31st, 2009 at 2:16 pm by David Farrar

I am amazed at how many journalists get this wrong. Today Martin Kay in the Dom Post says:

Spending on parliamentary travel and accommodation is not subject to the Official Information Act, and MPs had until now resisted calls to provide details.

Though they broke new ground with yesterday’s release, they are steadfastly refusing to make public how they use annual allowances of at least $14,800 each for out-of-pocket expenses.

This makes it sounds like the information is there to be released – it is not. It is rather silly to keep demanding that something be released which does not exist.

As I have previously blogged the Remuneration Authority gives MPs an allowance of $14,800 a year to cover all their incidental work related expenses. A lot of these are meals away from home. This allowance is paid alongside the salary fortnightly. It is based on what the IRD and the Authority have previously determined is the average level of work related expenses. It is the equivalent of a per diem.

The Parliamentary Service does not have a record of individual expenses related to the allowance. That is because it is an allowance, not an expense claim. The MPs themselves do not have this info. They don’t spend half an hour a day writing down the details of every cup of coffee they had, or raffle ticket they purchased etc.

There is no info to be released. So would the media please stop calling for it. It’s inane. They could call for the system to revert back from an allowance system to a claim system but personally that would be a retrograde step as it would encourage MPs to max out their claims as they did in the UK. An allowance based on historical average data is in my opinion a far better system.

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Prime onto Freeview

July 31st, 2009 at 2:03 pm by David Farrar

John Drinnan writes:

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman is expected to announce soon that Prime Television will join Freeview in the next six to eight weeks.

This is a good move as it will get all free to air channels on Freeview, and is a good contra for TVNZ 6 and 7 going onto Sky.

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Labour and spending

July 31st, 2009 at 11:07 am by David Farrar

Mu weekly Dispatch from St Johnnysburg is online at NBR. It is called Spend Baby Spend. Extracts:

Labour activists will be wondering if their party is ever going to do due diligence on the people it puts forwards as victims of the National Government. The choice of Natasha Fuller as battling underdog is looking to be just as flawed as their choice of Bruce Burgess as am impoverished property owner and Neelam Choudary as a timid helpless victim of harassment. …

I point to the recent Populus poll in the United Kingdom on how the UK government should reduce debt and balance its books.

Only 11% of voters said they do not want any cuts in public spending. A further 11% said they want the main emphasis to be on tax increases with fewer cuts in public spending.

So only one in five voters there said that there should be no or minimal spending cuts. If this proportion holds true in New Zealand, Labour is running a campaign that at best will appeal to 22% of New Zealand. And bear in mind that the UK population is generally more left-wing than in New Zealand, so that 22% may be generous. …

Labour do not seem to be able to understand that many Kiwi families are struggling during this recession. They have cut their spending and are making sacrifices and expect the state to do the same. This partly explains the absolutely ferocious reaction to Natasha Fuller’s demands for further welfare, despite earning on the DPB $715 a week – the equivalent of a gross wage of close to $50,000 a year. Hundreds of thousands of low to middle income working class families resented the hell out of the fact she is earning well above the average wage for being a solo mum, and that Labour champion even greater levels of taxpayer assistance to her.

The full column at at NBR, where feedback and comments can be left.

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The moderation experiment

July 31st, 2009 at 7:43 am by David Farrar

The moderation experiment has ended. Note this does not mean anything goes – the existing comments policy and demerits scheme still applies.

Feedback is sought and welcome on what you thought of the change during the four days – the pros and cons, any suggestions for future etc.

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General Debate 31 July 2009

July 31st, 2009 at 7:40 am by David Farrar
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MPs expenses

July 30th, 2009 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

The full list for MPs is here and Ministers here. First of all let’s look at overall expenses and Labour have helpfully done a combined ranked list on their blog.

Ministers take up the top ten places ranging from Foreign Minister McCully at $353,000 to Justice Minister Power on $125,000. This is for first six months of this year.

The top ranked non Minister is Phil Goff on $124,000. I actually defended him on Radio NZ. The Opposition Leader gets a huge number of invites – second only to the PM probably. I’ve worked for three of them, and know. And part of their job is to get around the country and meet people and groups. You don’t want a potential PM who spends all their time in Parliament.

The next non Minister is Chris Carter on $82,000. He is Shadow Foreign Minister so again no surprise.

Maurice Williamson has the least expenses as a Minister at $58,000. They do not reveal what Richard Worth’s expenses were before he resigned.

The least expensive MP was Katrina Shanks on $10,000. Katrina is Wellington based.

I would caution against assuming that the cheaper the MP the better. Often it will be that an MP with high domestic travel expenses is very hard working and attends a huge number of meetings and events. While if you sit in the Beehive bar every night, you will have very few travel expenses.

Publishing the expenses is a good thing though, as it does provide an incentive for an MP to consider if a trip is value for money. In other words if it costs $1,000 to attend a meeting, is it worth it?

I’ve yet to meet any regular traveller who actually enjoys it. I doubt any MP really enjoys spendings hours taxing to airports, going through security scanners and getting crammed onto planes. I fly a few times a month and I would do anything to avoid it, if it were not for the fact I can’t get to Auckland by teleportation.

Most of the levels of expenses are around what I would expect. However I would say some List MPs have expenses higher than what I would expect, and I’ll be interested to see their spending levels in future reports.

I have blogged previously on the Wellington accom allowance. This is capped at $24,000 a year so the maximum for six months should be $12,000. Kevin Hague has $12,000 as did Phil Twyford and Melissa Lee. Lockwood Smith is at $12,000 also which puzzles me because he stays in the Speaker’s Flat. Maybe they charge that out at $24,000 a year to record the value of it?

Congrats to the Speaker and PM for releasing the information, and all the parties for agreeing to it.

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Bullying Quote

July 30th, 2009 at 1:46 pm by David Farrar

Over at The Standard, Paul Buchanan made this comment:

I hate to say it, but I think bullying crosses the aisle and is endemic not only in NZ politics but the society at large, be it in academia, government, unions or corporations. Helen Clark openly called for my dismissal from Auckland University when I raised questions about the Zaoui case. She also vilified Deborah Manning, who is one of the more courageous Kiwis I have met. After it was all over and Zaoui won his appeal, Deborah moved on to an international job and Helen got her wish with regards to me.

I’d forgotten about that. So much to remember – Kit Richards, Erin Leigh, Peter Doone also.

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Three Editorials on Bennett

July 30th, 2009 at 11:55 am by David Farrar

Today we have no less than three editorials on Paula Bennett. First The Press:

The row over the release by the Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, of personal information about the benefits received by two solo mothers is being milked by the Labour Party and their allies for all it is worth.

Which is hilarious for the hypocrisy. Anyone remember what Labour did to the whistle blower Erin Leigh? And they did it under parliamentary privilege so Leigh had little recourse.

The minister, for her part, has refused to browbeaten by all this hullabaloo. She has said she is prepared to talk to the two women at the centre of the row, but she does not admit she has done anything wrong and she is not going to apologise. Bennett is quite right to take this stand. The women had clearly put the matter into the public arena. The information the minister released was important to a proper understanding of the issue they had raised.

I agree.

The only legitimate criticism that could be made of the minister is that she was politically naive. If she had slyly slipped the information to the media, either directly or via some intermediary, as Labour apparently habitually did, this giant red herring of an issue would never have arisen.

It is interesting that no one from Labour has denied they used to release this sort of info, but did it privately not publicly.

The Dom Post says:

When the chattering classes start slavering about the actions of a cabinet minister, it is a brave politician who is prepared to fight her corner. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is such a politician.

Like the prime minister, she sometimes operates on gut instinct. It is risky. But it often works.

Even Willie Jackson was praising her on TV today (while saying he may disagree with her decision on this case).

This week, as Ms Bennett was being roundly condemned by political opponents and others for releasing the income details of two beneficiaries who dared criticise the Government, the minister stood her ground. Good on her.

Many New Zealanders believe she has done nothing wrong in breaching what they see as a politically correct convention that critics may take pot shots at the Government, and ministers won’t fight back. Not Ms Bennett.

And then:

For its part, Labour’s indignation is laughable. Most, if not all, of its former ministers practised the dark art of “briefing” political journalists about individuals in the headlines if they felt the full story wasn’t being told. Think Helen Clark and former police commissioner Peter Doone. Think former immigration minister Lianne Dalziel and the deportation of a Sri Lankan asylum-seeker.

I wonder if the Privacy Commissioner can investigate retrospectively?

The ODT is less supportive:

Ms Bennett can be damned for her actions for she seems not to comprehend to any degree that she went too far.

There is certainly an issue of political duty here to deflect Opposition sallies, but there is also a far more important one, of ministerial responsibility.

It is surely reasonable to suppose that no person applying for or in receipt of a state benefit ever expects to have the details of what is essentially a private matter between themselves and the department concerned displayed in a political stunt for all to see.

I disagree. Taxpayer funded benefits are not purely a private matter.

Mr Key may have hoped that his tyro minister would rapidly develop a safe pair of hands in a challenging portfolio, but her actions – which he might also have judged to strike a popular note among a target audience of National Party beneficiary bashers and others holding similar views – suggest Ms Bennett is in need of much more mature and experienced guidance about her judgement, and much less reliance on instinctive shooting from the lip.

The use of the term “National Party beneficiary bashers” makes me wonder who wrote this editorial. I suspect it is the staffer who used to be a spin doctor for Labour Ministers. Who else would use such a partisan term?

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2008 election epolitics

July 30th, 2009 at 11:31 am by David Farrar

Another must read from Bryce Edwards:

How well were electronic forms of politics utilised in last year’s general election? How effectively did the political parties and electorate candidates use websites, email, social networking in their campaigning? What about bloggers and the mainstream media? These questions are addressed in a chapter by Peter John Chen about ‘the role, use and impact of online media in New Zealand’s 2008 election’, published in Informing Voters? Politics, Media and the New Zealand Election 2008 (edited by Chris Rudd, Janine Hayward and Geoff Craig of the University of Otago Politics department). This blog post is the fourth of a series of explorations of the chapters from the new book (which I also have a chapter in).

Most of the focus is on how parties and candidates used online media, rather than the role of blogs by non candidates. Still very interesting. Labour gets caned for their 2008 e-campaign. No surprise as they had three different websites running.

They also reveal Labour spent around 10% of its advertising budget online and National spent zero.

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More on the welfare and privacy debate

July 30th, 2009 at 11:09 am by David Farrar

I have to say that I am gaining very very different impressions of the two women involved in the issue of the cutting of the TIA allowance and the release of their total income from taxpayers.

Jennifer Johnston has really impressed me with her sincerity, attitude and arguments. The Herald reports:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has asked her officials to look into setting up a loan to help solo parents cover their extra study costs.

The suggestion came during a phone call yesterday to Jennifer Johnston, one of two solo mothers whose details she released after they spoke out about her decision to cut the Training Incentive Allowance for tertiary level courses. …

She said she would take Ms Johnston up on an offer to join her for coffee when she was next in Invercargill.

Ms Johnston said she also apologised to Ms Bennett. “I was pretty angry yesterday. I don’t bear her any ill will.”

She said Ms Bennett had listened carefully to her case but also made it clear she could not promise anything.

“I run a family, she runs a department, but my family has a budget just like her department and at times I have to make financial decisions that are unpopular. Sometimes the people I’m responsible for, my children, will come to me and say, ‘Mum, how about we do it this way?’ Sometimes I can compromise and sometimes I can’t – that’s the reality of having a budget. I don’t know what will come out of our conversation but at the very least I know my minister heard my concerns.”

She brushed off concerns about privacy, saying it was not hard to find out what level of benefits a woman in her situation would be entitled to.

I made a similar point on radio yesterday. Most benefit information is a matter of public record. You just can’t calculate it to the exact dollor without knowing what someone’s rent is etc.

But as I said, kudos to Ms Johnston for her positive advocacy and constructive suggestion re expanding loans, rather than a grant.

I have to say that things are rather murkier with Ms Fuller. First of all is the fascinating revelation that she had her benefit information disclosed by Labour in 2007:

The single mother who is taking Paula Bennett to the Privacy Commission for releasing her income details has had her income disclosed publicly before – by Labour in 2007 and by herself on a Trade Me message board last week. …

Ms Fuller listed some of her entitlements on a Trade Me message board under her user name thehappyhocker last week, before Ms Bennett provided the information to the Herald.

Good to see the media pick up on the Trade Me disclosures for they are very relevant.

Ms Fuller’s income had also been used by the Labour Party in 2007 as an example of the success of its policies. She said she had given permission for then social development minister David Benson-Pope to use the information after she set up a cleaning business with an enterprise allowance.

In his speech, Mr Benson-Pope lists her total support from the state as $180.50, including an accommodation supplement of $91, a family tax credit of $69.50, and another $20 a week from Working for Families.

What is especially interesting to me, is what links (if any) Ms Fuller has to Labour. Often people trumpeted by Labour as sucess stories are Labour Party members and activists. This may not be the case, but it often is. And it all comes down to whether there has been appropriate disclosure.

A thread started by Ms Fuller on the Trade Me message boards also has some alarming allegations in it. Also a huge amount of abuse (some from other people on the DPB) – enough to make a general debate thread on Kiwiblog look like a polite conversation.

Dave at Big News blogs on some of the allegations. They include claims of boasting on Facebook of spending $200 on CDs in a month etc. If the claims are correct, Labour may once again be regretting their choice of champion.

And in another thread he blogs on posts by Fuller where she admits to living with her partner while getting the benefit, and knowing what she did was wrong.

And for those who think this is Big Brother, all Dave has done is catalogue posts made voluntarily by Fuller on the Internet.

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Are you a Nat and a Republican?

July 30th, 2009 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

The Republican Movement has members from pretty much every political party – from ACT to the Greens. Some of those supporters have set up an informal network within their respective parties to discuss republican and associated constitutional issues.

I’d be keen to get such an informal group going within National. I’m on the Executive of the Republican Movement, and the Chair, Lewis Holden, is also a Nat.

If you are going to be at the annual conference this weekend, and think that in the future New Zealand should move from the status quo to having a New Zealander as Head of State, make yourself known to Lewis or myself. I suggest we try and grab a bite together at Saturday lunchtime? Delegates, observers and MPs all welcome.

If you won’t be at conference but would like to be added to some sort of mailing list for “National Republicans” then drop me an e-mail.

I find the issue fascinating, because it is not just about do we want Prince Charles to be King of New Zealand one day. It is about would you appoint or elect a Head of State. What powers, if any, do they have. Do you also move to a written constitution? Do you entrench the Bill of Rights and allow laws to be judically reviewed against them? What limits should there be, if any, on parliamentary supremacy. Do we want to continue with the Pr

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Maori Language Week

July 30th, 2009 at 10:10 am by David Farrar

Na te mea ko te Wiki o te Reo Maori tenei i whakaaro au me whakatakoto he korero i roto i te reo, kia kitea te tokomaha te tokoiti ranei e taea ana te panui te tuhituhi ranei i roto tonu i tetahi o nga reo tuturu o Aotearoa. Tena, tukuna mai o whakaaro i roto i te reo. Engari, kaua ma te whakamahia i nga taonga whakamaorihia-a-rorohiko!

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Matariki

July 30th, 2009 at 9:28 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

The Maori Party has asked Parliament to create a public holiday to celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year, but it isn’t going to happen.

The National Party won’t support Rahui Katene’s bill because it doesn’t think a holiday is necessary.

I think it is a pity National won’t at least support the bill going to select committee. It would have been good to let the public have their say.

I don’t support the imposition of a 12th paid public holiday on employers. It would take us in the opposite direction to increasing productivity growth.

But I am not at all opposed to replacing an existing holiday with Matariki. A uniquely New Zealand holiday appeals more to me than some of our existing ones.

My views on our public holidays generally is:

  • New Years x 2 – keep
  • Provincial Holiday – would like to move at least the urban ones (Akl/Wgtn) to the same day but love having it in late January.
  • Waitangi Day – keep and Mondayise (allow day off on Monday if at weekend)
  • Easter x 2 – keep
  • ANZAC Day – keep and Mondayise
  • Queen’s Birthday – scrap. Not her birthday and not even UK celebrate it. Replace with Matariki.
  • Labour Day – scrap as irrelevant. Replace with New Zealand Day on 26 September (and Mondayise). This should be our equivalent of US 4th of July.
  • Xmas Day x 2 – keep

That would keep it to 11 holidays.

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A bad look

July 30th, 2009 at 8:46 am by David Farrar

It is part of our constitutional conventions of parliamentary privilege that people can give evidence to select committees without fear of retribution for what they say. Therefore I regard it as a bad look to see the story:

After Bart Birch, Uaea Leavasa and Satish Prasad criticised how Auckland Central Remand Prison was run under private contractor GEO between 2000 and 2005, Mr Garrett weighed in.

“You say that you don’t want to go back to working in this environment – to the private [sector]. You’d be aware that given your submission here, you wouldn’t get offered a job anyway, would you?”

Fortunately other MPs intervened:

Other MPs were visibly disturbed by the remark and National’s Shane Ardern was quick to reassure the men that they should feel free to speak their minds. “Can I say, from my own party, you can sit here without fear or favour,” he said.

The committee’s acting chairman, Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove, added his support to Mr Ardern’s remark.

David Garrett’s comment was most unwise. You could defend it as saying he was stating the obvious, but in that case there was no need to state it. And at worst it looks like trying to warn people off criticising private prisons.

Questions at select committee should focus on the submission, the bill and related policy issues. If I made a submission arguing that (for example) Kiwibank should be sold, I would not expect to have an MP tell me that I should not expect to ever get any work from NZ Post.

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Corrections to lay complaint against TV3

July 30th, 2009 at 8:34 am by David Farrar

As first reported on the blogs, it looks like TV3’s access to Clayton Weatherston in prison was not kosher. The Herald reports:

The Corrections Department will lay a formal complaint with TV3 after a journalist infiltrated a prison to speak to convicted murderer Clayton Weatherston. …

During the story, Ms Horwood spoke of visiting Weatherston in prison. The breach of security has broken strict Corrections Department rules, said Mike Martelli, general manager of the office of chief executive Barry Matthews.

He said all media interviews with prisoners require the approval of Mr Matthews. “No approval was given for a journalist from TV3’s 60 Minutes to interview prisoner Clayton Weatherston, nor was any approach made to the department requesting an interview.

And TV3 would surely know these rules.

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General Debate 30 July 2009

July 30th, 2009 at 8:11 am by David Farrar
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New Economics Blog

July 29th, 2009 at 4:28 pm by David Farrar

John Small from Covec is now blogging at Progressive Turmoil. NZ is fortunate to have a number of dedicated economist blogs.

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NZBCSD suggest 20% target

July 29th, 2009 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development has promoted an ambitious but not impossible target:

They propose a 20% reduction in gross emissions unilaterally. That is gross not net. Means planting trees won’t do it. As we are currently at 123% of 1990 levels it means a cut by around one third in just a decade.

They say this could go up to 30% if the following conditions are met:

  1. Competitors of our trade-exposed, emission-intensive industries are exposed to a price on carbon (vital)
  2. There is overwhelming participation by developed countries in taking responsibility for 25 – 40% reductions in emissions by 2020 from a 1990 base
  3. Major developing economies, including China and India, agree to significant reductions in the growth of their emissions below BAU (and they have to be significant, or it is all pissing into the wind)
  4. The rules for forestry and soil carbon be amended to recognise that equivalent replanting can occur for pre-1990 forests in locations other than the site of the felled forest (also very important and sensible)

I think this is at the upper end of what Government thinks is achievable, let alone affordable. As I said it would be very ambitious to cut gross emissions by a third in a decade.

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Good advice from David Lewis for Labour

July 29th, 2009 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

David Lewis blogs:

Phil Goff knows what Graham Henry is feeling. Labour is playing politics the way the All Blacks played the Springboks in Bloemfontein. They are trailing by some margin and getting desperate, forcing the play and throwing silly passes.

Not a bad analogy.

There is also, however, a strategic issue which Goff needs to address – Labour’s relationship with the Maori Party. …

The continued sniping between Labour’s Maori MPs and the Maori Party is hardly the secure foundation upon which to build a secure working relationship. It’s not helped by Labour’s Maori MPs’ discomfort at the way their Maori Party counterparts outshine them with verve and flair.

While I think the relationship with National is strong at the moment, I have always said that long-term they have more policy synergy with Labour. But politics is not just about policy – trust and relationships count.

Take the furore in Maoridom over the government’s Auckland governance proposals – and the removal of any Maori representation. If there was an issue heaven sent to Labour’s Maori MPs to seize and lead, it was this. What happened? The Maori Party managed to rewrite the Cabinet Manual and head the opposition to the plans despite being part of the government that introduced them. Labour’s Maori MPs did get some publicity; but that was after being spotted chowing down in a McDonalds while the hikoi was inching up Queen St.

Heh I had forgotten that.

Take also the proposal to allow Maori to choose a flag to fly over the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. Labour’s Shane Jones says the hui being held to discuss which flag should fly ‘reeks of shallowness and insularity’. In fact, the process is being led – harmoniously and sincerely – by Pita Sharples. It will result in, most likely, the tino rangatiratanga flag being flown from the bridge beside the New Zealand flag on Waitangi Day. And with scarcely any angst. Remarkable. And commendable to anyone with a vaguely liberal bent.

Labour all too often snipe at everything, and miss the big picture. Not just on this issue.

Designing a framework for a more harmonious relationship won’t necessarily be easy but it can be achieved. It might mean some sort of non-aggression pact outside election campaigns, when both parties will heartily contest the Maori vote.

It’s certainly not beyond Goff to come to an arrangement. It would be a welcome diversion after the travails of recent weeks.

The chance of Labour winning the next election, without support from the

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Do not help the poor

July 29th, 2009 at 10:21 am by David Farrar

Adolf at No Minister blogs:

A couple of enterprising guys have set up a food stores in South Auckland and Wellington where people can go and buy half price groceries. Yes, that’s right, half price groceries. The stores are called ‘Reduced To Clear.’

What a wonderful example of enterprise. What better way to help people through the recession than to provide an opportunity to buy some basic grocery lines like soap, detergent, tinned fish, tinned soups, pasta meals, chocolate, biscuits, nuts, cheese and one day soon, frozen vegetables at half price or less.

Hell, if you can buy groceries at better than half price, who needs a tax cut?

The trick is, these guys buy in from manufacturers surplus stock which has passed its ‘best used’ date but is nowhere near its ‘use by’ date. All the stock on sale is safe to eat or use and complies with all statutory standards.

But that’s not good enough for the Food ****s.

Apparently the ****s are upset because Cadburys‘ products feature. Good God, you can’t have beneficiaries buying chocolate!!!!

As my first ever boss used to say,

“Shoot the bastards!”

I share his despair at the zealots. They are only a short step away from advocating that food they disapprove of be banned.

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Kudos for ACT plus a question

July 29th, 2009 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

Heather Roy publishes a list of all bills up for a vote this week, a summary of the bill, its pros and cons, and how ACT will vote on it.

This is great transparency and I would encourage all parties to do this.

I do have one question though. Heather describes the Road User Amendment Bill as:

This Bill will exempt light electric motor vehicles from road user chargers. The hope is that an exemption will encourage the uptake of such vehicles to slowly improve the efficiency of the motor vehicle fleet, decrease reliance on fossil fuels, improve energy security, and reduce vehicle emissions to improve air quality and greenhouse gas levels. If we accept that electric cars provide a net environmental “good”, this is a commonsense (and relatively low-cost) measure to increase uptake. The other positive aspect is that the Bill will provide for 42 days notice of an increase in road user charges.

I was amused to then see ACT is voting against the bill, after describing it so positively.

So are some “cons” missing from the summary, or has ACT described how it will vote incorrectly?

UPDATE: ACT are voting for it. It was a typo

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Idiots

July 29th, 2009 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

Getting Auckland’s local governance right is a hugely important task. While there are a diversity of views on changes to the one model, most people are taking the task seriously.

Then we have the idiots. Inspired by the scare mongering of Phil Twyford’s bill about Auckland assets (I note Labour only wants the public consulted over selling assets – not over buying or producing them), they have listed several Auckland assets for sale such as the Harbour Bridge (noT even owned locally), libraries (what moron thinks anyone would sell or buy a library), a building owned by DOC and a stadium owned by a trust.

So not only are they trying to whip up hysteria over a non-existent issue, they can’t even get the most basic facts right.

Meanwhile the adults are actually trying to grapple with the serious issues.

Labour and its allies keep talking about the issues they think are important, rather than those people are actually concerned about. But hey long may they campaign on free silk scarf dying courses, welfare for millionaires, and stopping Auckland local bodies from selling assets they don’t actually own.

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Corporal Punishment

July 29th, 2009 at 9:44 am by David Farrar

I was interested to read in the Herald:

Nineteen years after physical punishment was banned in schools, a sampling of children suggests that while most want the ban, there is still some support for smacking as a form of discipline.

The reason I was interested is because my first ever poll was as a 17 year old at Rongotai College. I chaired the Student Council and we surveyed around 800 students (4th formers and up) on whether or not they wanted the school to continue with corporal punishment. So yes I was attracted to polling at an early age.

This was in 1985 and off memory 56% of students voted that they wanted corporal punishment to continue. The rationale was quite simple. They would rather have two strokes of the cane than an hour after school in detention.

We presented the results to the School Board and they were horrified that most students wanted to continue with corporal punishment, as they were seeking to end it. So they decided not to publish the results.

This then resulted not only in my first poll, but my first leak. I rang up the Evening Post and asked to speak to the Education reporter. And to my amazement it was a front page or page three story. I recall some board members wondering how the results got to the newspaper, and they were blaming each other. No one thought it might have been the 17 year old :-)

Anyway back to this story:

Ten out of 17 Year 7 pupils at Rangeview Intermediate in Te Atatu said they would vote no in the referendum which says: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

Most kids have a lot of common sense.

Yet 14 of the 17 children still report having been smacked and, despite the official doctrine of non-violence at school, most believe their parents were right to smack them.

Again this shows how silly the law is.

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