Archive for August, 2009

The ETS Review

August 31st, 2009 at 9:02 pm by David Farrar

It is 132 pages long and can be read here.

The main recommendations are:

  1. Accept IPCC 4th assessment report as consensus of the science, noting there are uncertainties but not enough to delay action
  2. The point of obligation for agricultural sector should initially be at the processor, not the farm gate, as administratively too costly to do for now
  3. An ETS is preferred over a carbon tax as it can better link up internationally.
  4. That all sectors be included in the ETS long-term
  5. Important to have certainty legislated for forestry asap to ensure further planting not inhibited
  6. Consider a price cap in the short-term while the market matures
  7. Agriculture to be in the ETS but no date specified
  8. Will support changing rules to allow offsetting for forestry, but need international agreement

Labour, in its minority report says:

  1. Supports an all gases all sectors ETS
  2. Are against capping the price of carbon initially
  3. will support delaying entry of stationary energy, industrial and transport sectors until 1 July 2010
  4. all other sectors to enter by 1 Jan 2013 (status quo)

Greens say:

  1. Used to support carbon tax but ETS now preferable
  2. ETS should be all sectors and gases
  3. Against a price cap

ACT say:

  1. says response to climate change should be based on actual measurable change, not projections of future change
  2. If one has to respond, prefer low rate carbon tax to ETS
  3. Much of NZ emissions come from producing food for export, not domestic consumption.
  4. Does not accept there is a strong chance of trade reprecussions, as seen by Singapore and Hong Kong

Maori Party say:

  1. Against ETS as won’t sufficiently lower domestic emissions
  2. Prefer carbon tax

To my mind there are no big surpises here. And from what I can see, the ETS will proceed. It will be amended from what Labour and passed, but not in a fundamental way. The three big issues appear to be:

  1. Do you have an initial cap on the price of carbon? I actually tend to favour the Labour/Greens view that you should not.  A price cap will make the ETS less effective, and more importantly may not get the forestry sector sufficient incentives to increase plantings.
  2. What date do sectors enter the ETS.  The big two sectors politically are transport and agriculture. The first will put up the price of petrol and the second will see an increase in costs for the agricultural sector. And if you bring agriculture in too soon, you risk merely exporting the emissions overseas making it a lose-lose. Remember that when Labour/Greens demand a 2013 entry.
  3. How many free allocations in each sector? A sector will be given an allocation of credits initially, so that you don’t have sudden and massive price shocks. Key issue is how big that allocation is, and when does it run out.

The ball is now clearly in the Government’s court. There is little doubt we will have an ETS – in fact we already have one – passed into law. The Government will want to make some changes to it. ACT look unlikely they will support changes as they don’t want an ETS at all. However they might be reluctant to vote against (for example) a delay in Agriculture entering the ETS.

Labour and Greens are relatively happy with the current ETS and unlikely to want to vote for changes. So this means the Maori Party is pretty important for getting any changes made.

It is possible National will not be able to get agreement on any changes. Unlikely, but possible. If that happens it does not mean there is no ETS. It means the one passed in 2008 will continue.

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Invest in the polls

August 31st, 2009 at 4:58 pm by David Farrar

iPredict has six new stocks – polling stocks. And every fortnight they will pay out and new ones occur. Basically you can now invest in what you think the next Roy Morgan poll will say for National and Labour. The stocks are:

  1. National to fall
  2. National to not change
  3. National to rise
  4. Labour to fall
  5. Labour to not change
  6. Labour to rise

The current stocks are for what the Roy Morgan polls for the period 17 to 30 August will do in comparison to the results for the previous period of 2 to 16 August.  Normally I would expect the poll to 30 August results to come out late Friday, so you have four days to invest – and hopefully make a return.

So if you have a view about how National or how Labour has done in the last fortnight – you can now put your money where your mouth is.

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Metro on Williams

August 31st, 2009 at 2:07 pm by David Farrar

Yet to buy it, but love this extract from Aaron Bhatnagar:

There was also an amusing set of late night emails from William to Metro Magazine staffers, which goes like this

1:00am – 2 paragraph email attacking the journalist, Donna Chisholm, for a hidden agenda and demanding a meeting with her

1:30 am – 4 paragraph (abridged!) email complaining to another journalist called Jenny who left Metro two years ago, CC’ed to Chisholm, where, among other things, he accuses Chisholm of being in the secret pay of John Banks

5:56am – One line email to Metro “recalling” the emails above.

Andrew Williams and his late night e-mails just get better and better.

His ipredict stock for becoming Mayor of Auckland has only one buyer at the moment. Someone is bidding $0.0001 per share.

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Mining and the Conservation Estate

August 31st, 2009 at 1:26 pm by David Farrar

I am a regular user and lover of our conservation estate. I have done walks in Fiordland, tramps in the Tararuas, and think our conservation estate is a wonderful thing.

NZ’s land area is 268,680 square kilometres which is 26,868,000 hectares.

DOC administers 8,258,087 hectares which is 30.7358% of the total NZ land mass.

Now if someone was talking about bulldozing down 25% of the conservation estate and converting it into mines, skyscrapers and the like, I’d be first down at the picket line.

But am I against any mining whatsoever on the conservation estate? Of course not. Let us say a mine will take up 100 hectares. So that would reduce the conservation estate from 30.7358% of NZ to 30.7354% – a reduction of 0.0004%.

And how much income can be earnt from one mine? Well Pike River is expected to earn around $170 million a year of export income.

Overall there may be up to $240 billion of mineral wealth beneath our feet.

Now some are claiming any mining will undermine our clean green image and threaten our tourism industry. With all respect, that is hysterical nonsense. A reduction of from 30.7358% conservation estate to 30.7354% conservation estate will threaten tourism? Maybe if one was talking a 1% to 5% reduction, people might notice, but they won’t.

Just apply the common sense test to yourself. When you travel overseas, do you go to Wikipedia and check if there has ever been any mining on the conservation estate of a country you are travelling to? Do you think anyone else does?

Now this is not an argument for saying yes to every mining proposal made. They should be treated on a case by case basis, weighing up the particular conservation value of a location (not all parts of the estate are equal) and the likely economic value of mining there.  You’re not going to approve a mine in the middle of the Milford Track, but there are many areas where mining would barely be noticed. Again do it on a case by case basis.

There is a difference between a conservationist and a preservationist. A preservationist wants the status quo frozen for ever – preserved. They will argue passionately that every square metre of the conservation estate is sacred and must be preserved – that even one hectare less than the current 8,258,087 is evil.

A conservationist will look for the balance. They may say okay that 11 hectares of land has huge economic value. What if we purchased 500 hectares of land over there to replace it in the conservation estate. The conservation estate gets to grow, we get the economic benefits of the land’s economic value – a win/win. That is what we should look for.

Now some will argue all mining is evil and unsustainable and we should not do it. That is a valid viewpoint. However that viewpoint has consequences. It means less money for schools, less money for healthcare, lower wages and continuing a decline in the relative income gap with Australia and other countries.

As I said, I think one should take it on a case by case basis. The conservation estate is not something frozen in time. In fact generally it has been growing – as has the mining industry. One can expand both.

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Israel vs Sweden

August 31st, 2009 at 12:32 pm by David Farrar

The Economist reports:

BARELY two months into its six-month presidency of the European Union, Sweden’s government is entangled in a scrap with Israel. Because it pitches Swedes’ cherished free-speech principles against Middle Eastern sensibilities, it is loaded with a wearying sense of déjà vu—and a potential to escalate.

It started on August 17th when Aftonbladet, a Swedish tabloid, published an incendiary article claiming that Israeli soldiers had harvested the organs of some Palestinians whom they had shot. Within hours, Israel’s deputy foreign minister had denounced the article for racism and demanded that it be condemned by the Swedish government. …

Sweden’s ambassador in Tel Aviv obligingly called the article shocking. But she was countermanded by the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt. Israel, he wrote in his blog, wanted the Swedish government to distance itself from the article or take steps to prevent a replication, but that was not how the country worked. This robust defence of freedom of expression was endorsed by the prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Matters quickly deteriorated. An internet campaign called for a boycott of Swedish companies, including IKEA and Volvo. A planned official visit by Mr Bildt to Israel may be under threat. Lawsuits have begun. And Sweden stands accused by prominent Israelis, including the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, of blood libel and anti-Semitism.

This has uncomfortable echoes of Denmark’s cartoon wars, started when a Danish newspaper published drawings of the prophet Muhammad in late 2005.

The article in the Swedish tabloid newspaper was racist and gross anti-semitism. It was designed to give credibility to the lies spread in many Middle East countries about Jews and organ harvesting.

The newspaper incidentally is owned by Swedish Trade Union Confederation and has a history of anti-semitic articles.

Now it is debatable about whether the Swedish Government should or should not condemn the article, but there is absolutely no way the Government should be trying to prevent the article, or be held responsible for the actions of the newspaper.

So the campaign against Sweden, and especially Swedish companies, is misguided and wrong. Do not hold a country responsible for the actions of one newspaper.

There are some parallels to the Danish cartoon controversy. The aspect in common is the misguided desire to punish an entire country for the editorial decisions of one newspaper.

But I have not seen any burning down of Swedish embassies or incitements to violence against Sweden.  A boycott campaign is not the same as death threats against journalists.

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Nancy Wake

August 31st, 2009 at 11:53 am by David Farrar

Nancy Wake turned 97 yesterday.

I was very critical of the former Government’s refusal to give Wake an honour. Judith Collins did a fine job campaigning for her to be honoured.

I was hoping that she would finally be honoured in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours but she wasn’t. I hope she will be, before she dies.

For those who don’t know why Nancy Wake should be honoured, here’s an extract:

After the fall of France, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. The Gestapo called her the “White Mouse”. The Resistance had to be very careful with her missions as her life was in constant danger and the Gestapo were tapping her phone and intercepting her mail. By 1943, she was the Gestapo’s most-wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head. …

From April 1944 to the complete liberation of France, her 7000 maquisards fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1400 casualties. Her French companions, especially Henri Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit; amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him raising the alarm during a raid.

Wake has the following honours:

  • George Medal
  • Companion of the Order of Australia
  • US Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm
  • Légion d’honneur (the highest French decoration)
  • Croix de guerre

The NZ RSA have also given Wake their gold medal. It would be good to see the NZ Government honour her also.

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Len Brown’s candidacy

August 31st, 2009 at 11:01 am by David Farrar

The Herald covers the announcement of Manukau Mayor Len Brown that he will stand for Mayor of the new Auckland Council.

Brown, a Labour Party member, is a strong candidate. It will be interesting if anyone else from the left stands.

I hope all candidates will propose specific policies, and cost them, so Aucklanders can know their likely rates level when they vote. Just like we require central Government politicians to reveal their tax policies before an election. That way people get an informed choice.

Brown has a campaign website. However as you see below, they didn’t fully populate it when they launched it.

lenbrown

Around 5 pm, the blank space got replaced by text.

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I got hacked – yeah right!

August 31st, 2009 at 10:27 am by David Farrar

On Wed 26 August the user GarfieldNZ twittered:

@suebr is STILL a good candidate for NZ’s first political assassination. (watch sue run to the Police because of a death threat, stupid cow)

For those who do not know Twitter, the reference to @suebr means it will get seen by user “suebr” which is Sue Bradford herself.

While I am not sure I would classify the tweet as a literal death threat, even implicit threats of violence should have no part in our discourse.

Dave at Big News names the user as Henk van Helmond, formerly of CYFSWatch, based on some good detective work.

The media door-stopped van Hermond and his response is reported by the Herald:

CYFSwatch is run by Henk van Helmond, who yesterday wrote that though the threats had come from his account “it seems my password was hacked”.

Yeah, Right.

IrishBill at The Standard dives into the gutter as usual and tries to link the actions of van Hermond to the anti-EFA campaign and me personally and sees something sinister in the fact I did not report the original Sunday News story, implying somehow I condone such threat of violence.

As usual he could not be more wrong. I’m not sure if I have revealed this publicly before, but in 2007 there were similar threats made by someone with the CYFSWatch site (and my response is here) – maybe even the same person. Back then, their identities were tightly kept.

Someone from CYFSWatch commented on my site. Due to the threats that had made against Bradford, I passed on their identifying information (IP address) to Sue Bradford’s office and explained the Police could use this to trace them.

Bradford’s office in time passed this into the Police, and they contacted me and I provided the Police with information which allowed them to obtain from the ISP, the identity of the person holding the account which had made the threats.

As I said I don’t think I’ve ever blogged this info before (I think I did mention it once in a comment) but as someone too cowardly to even post under their own name is trying to link me to condoning or encouraging this sort of activity, I need to set the record straight.

UPDATE: Idiot/Savant also jumps into the gutter. Again someone who hides behind anonymity tries to smear someone who does not. You never tend to get these sort of smears from people who blog under their own name. That is because blogging under your own name forces you to think about consequences (well except for Whale!) of what you say on your own reputation.

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End of an era in Japan

August 31st, 2009 at 9:54 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The left-of-centre Democratic Party of Japan was set to win 300 or more of the 480 seats in the lower house of parliament, according to exit polls by all major Japanese TV networks.

The ousted Liberal Democrats have governed Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.

Hopefully the end of LDP monopoly on power will be good for the LDP in reforming itself.

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General Debate 31 August 2009

August 31st, 2009 at 9:42 am by David Farrar
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La Tomatina

August 30th, 2009 at 1:08 pm by David Farrar

One of the most fun festivals in the world I reckon, happened this week – La Tomatina.

90093770JJ012_THE_WORLDS_BI

During the pelting.

90093770JJ015_THE_WORLDS_BI

The afthermath.

90093770JJ009_THE_WORLDS_BI

And the main square.

Photos from news.com.au

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Good MPs website

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

Just looked at new website for Craig Foss and Chris Tremain – their Backing the Bay site.

The joint site to brand them as the regional MPs is good (and they have done that for some time),but also their use of Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. And an RSS feed of course.

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SST on Paul Henry

August 30th, 2009 at 9:36 am by David Farrar

Am amusing profile of Paul Henry in the SST. The part that made me laugh the most was this:

The morning we visit the studio, he uses the expression “donkey deep” on air. A viewer wonders about the etymology. Maybe, muses Henry, it is derived from the days when donkeys pulled carts through muddy roads. “Did you just make that up?” asks co-host Alison Mau. “Because it’s brilliant.”

Unfortunately for Mau, during the break, Henry is handed an actual definition from the urban dictionary. He is gleeful, delighted, like a small boy who has just discovered the word “poo”. He faces the camera and tells his audience the expression refers to (drum roll) a donkey’s HUGE member.

Later, seconds before Paula Ryan goes live to tell viewers what not to wear while holidaying in Muslim countries, Henry leans across to the fashion doyenne: “Did you know that? About a donkey’s cock?”

Heh classic. Urban Dictionary does indeed say:

New Zealand slang for being heavily involved, usually in a contentious matter. May be a reference to either a stinking pile of donkey shit or a reference to the length of a donkey’s huge cock.

I did not realise it was a unique NZ saying.

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General Debate 30 August 2009

August 30th, 2009 at 6:06 am by David Farrar
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Peters’ mythical fights

August 30th, 2009 at 5:56 am by David Farrar

The SST reports on the big issues for Winston Peters:

He said an official Maori flag, giving Maori easy access to university and building prisons specifically for Maori would be disastrous for Maori and the country.

Umm no one is building prisons specifically for Maori. There is no easy access to university – there was a one off suggestion by Pita Sharples that got shot down in flames within hours of being made.

So this leaves a Maori flag. Good God, how pitiful. The fact one day a year a Maori flag may fly on Waitangi Day alongside the New Zealand flag. What a sad irrelevance that this now seems to be his major issue.

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Mike Williams’ new job

August 30th, 2009 at 5:46 am by David Farrar

The Sunday News reports:

SECRET documents suggest that former Labour Party president Mike Williams got the $100,000-plus a year job heading the anti-P Stellar Trust mainly because he is mates with Paul Holmes.

“Clearly there are some risks with the Williams appointment,” reads a confidential paper from the Trust’s board.

“There may well be other candidates in the marketplace who may be capable of doing a better job as CEO and chief fundraiser, however if we go that route we will very likely not have Holmes’ involvement,” it continues.

It is no secret that Holmes and Williams are close mates, so this is little surprise.

The document, dated August 2, adds: “Our recommendation therefore is to offer the CEO role to Mike Williams, but to give ourselves the ability to review the situation after say six months, subject to the constraints of current employment law.

“If he has not succeeded in raising significant sums in that time, there will not be enough funding for his continuing salary, so he does have an incentive to succeed.”

I am no fan of Williams, but to be fair to him he seemed to be reasonably proficient in fundraising for Labour.

But Williams’s appointment has led to high profile, anti-P crusader Mike Sabin and his group MethCon withdrawing their support for the Stellar Trust.

He sent an email to the board on August 10 which read: “It is with some regret I wish to advise that I am unable to reconcile my concerns about the appointment of Mike Williams to the position of CEO to the trust. I believe this is a high risk appointment that will be very polarising given the political overtones.”

It is understood that Sabin, a former drug squad detective, believed Labour approached the P epidemic with a polarising “harm minimisation” approach, treating it as a public health and welfare issue rather than a public order problem.

Sabin may well be right, but really I wouldn’t hld the former party president responsible for what the parliamentary wing or Ministers decided.

The Stellar Trust board’s confidential August 2 paper also revealed there was a concern about how Williams’ appointment would be accepted by the National Government.

After last year’s election, Williams left Labour’s engine-room following a series of controversial media reports, including how he flew to Australia seeking dirt on John Key.

The Trust’s reservations were passed on to Holmes, regarded as the public face of Stellar.

The broadcaster sought the Prime Minister’s views.

Key last night confirmed a call between himself and Holmes on July 26.

“I’ve moved on and I’m not a person who holds grudges.

“If Mike is prepared to spend his time trying to combat P, given the devastation that drug is causing, then I’m happy to work with him,” he told Sunday News.

Could you imagine Helen Clark saying the same thing about someone who had flown to another country in a (failed) attempt to smear her as a criminal fraudster?

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Inconsistency

August 30th, 2009 at 5:27 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday reports:

Heavyweight boxer David Tua says he is in favour of the anti-smacking legislation remaining intact, saying that such punishment must always be “a final resort only”. …

“Kids are like that too. You don’t retaliate – you take time out, they take time out and you and they think more clearly. Smacking can only be a final, last resort and should never be a regular thing.”

The anti-smacking law does not allow smacking as a last resort. All smacking for correctional purposes is illegal.

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So who put the cap on?

August 29th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Waikato Times reported:

At a time when unemployment is rising, Waikato University will next year be turning away people because of restrictions on student numbers, according to Labour Party leader Phil Goff.

Sounds awful doesn’t it. Then later on you read:

In 2007, the Tertiary Education Commission capped equivalent fulltime students at tertiary institutions until 2010.

Oh 2007. Wait, wait, who was the Government in 2007? No, no don’t tell me – let me guess.

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Kennedy Quiz

August 29th, 2009 at 11:26 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a quiz on the Kennedy family. I got 9/10. Only got the first question wrong.

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Australasia and Asia

August 29th, 2009 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

An insightful column by Fran:

But with China poised to overtake the United States within a decade as the world’s largest economy, it is no surprise that the implications of China’s rapid economic rise were given considerable focus during New Zealand and Australia’s first joint Cabinet meeting in Sydney eight days ago.

Herald inquiries indicate Rudd went to considerable lengths to outline why the two Australasian countries should move closer together at a strategic level through maintaining “close foreign policy settings” during a lengthy overview he gave as co-chair of the joint Cabinet.

The issue barely rated a mention in the two prime minister’s joint press statements. But Herald inquiries indicate that Rudd strongly positioned the impact of China’s rise on Australasia during a lengthy strategic overview.

Several Cabinet Ministers from both sides privately credit the “risks based” analysis – above all other factors – as paramount in the Rudd Government’s decision to focus on New Zealand’s strategic utility to Australia, by moving to finalise single economic market negotiations by 2015. And to increase military co-operation to protect (if needed) supply lines between Australasia and the region during possible fractious times ahead.

This would explain why Australia has gone from luke warm to highly receptive on the move to a single economic market.

For most of our existence our location has been a barrier economically. In the next century, we may find being so close to Asia is a life saver. The US economy, and to a lesser degree the EU, could struggle to match Asian economic power in a few years.

Under this scenario, Australia – as a country with “middle power” pretensions – will increase its regional impact by drawing New Zealand further within its own strategic sphere of influence.

This is where NZ needs to be a bit careful. While I am fully supportive of closer economic ties with Australia, we must not lose our identity. NZ is generally held in higher esteem than Australia with most Asian countries – partly because we are non-threatening, but also because we have never been seen as the US Deputy Sheriff.

Rudd – who thinks deeply about strategic issues – believes that unlike previous downturns, Australia and New Zealand cannot rely on American consumers to quickly refuel global economic growth through another debt-fuelled spending binge. Both New Zealand and Australia thus needed to focus on how to sustain their respective economies.

Both prime ministers share the belief that it is in the countries’ interests to strongly brand Australasia as an investment destination focused on quality products and lifestyles, and, are concerned at the upcoming “war for talent” implied by changing demographics.

Key, in particular, sees a future where both nations will have to pay “near global price” to attract and retain highly-skilled people such as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

By drawing closer together the two “Europeans in Asia” will be able to more strongly position themselves as the Asian century develops.

This makes us closing the gap with Australia even more important. You want to keep doctors, lawyers and engineers? Well maybe then allowing mining on 0.0001% of the conservation estate is not the end of the world.

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Armstrong’s View

August 29th, 2009 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong touches on a number of issues:

No matter what spin the anti-smacking brigade puts on last week’s referendum, the result is still mind-boggling. …

The assumption of voter ignorance is the typical sort of patronising claptrap used by the liberal elites to conveniently explain away something that disturbs their comfort zones. …

Ditto with the smacking referendum. Voters understood exactly what they were doing. Politicians ignore the outcome at their peril.

There is a huge disconnect between the so called liberal elite and the rest of NZ on this issue. Armstrong is right – people knew exactly what they were voting for. This is an issue that has had two years plus of public debate.

Those in National’s senior ranks are most definitely taking note. The highest “no” votes were registered in provincial and rural seats held by that party.

Once it was clear that the turnout was going to be much higher than predicted, the Prime Minister ensured he had a response prepared. This amounted to more monitoring of the existing law to ensure it is working as intended.

That was obviously not going to satisfy the referendum’s organisers, who were seeking the repeal of the relevant section of the Crimes Act.

While Sue Bradford’s amended initiative remains the law, National has taken on board the message from the referendum that voters are drawing a line in the sand against any more measures which might be termed liberal, socially progressive or nanny state-ish.

I remain unconvinced that this will be enough. I think it will remain an issue until the law is amended.

And I don’t think one should include “socially progressive” in the same sentence as “nanny state”. Certainly some people are against both, but I see de-criminalising prostitution (or more correctly solicitation) as the exact opposite of nanny state.

In marked contrast, National’s reform agenda for the economy and social service delivery is meeting little resistance. For example, Bill English has now mentioned on several occasions three dreaded words that usually spell political death – “capital gains tax” – without his world caving in.

That is not to say the Finance Minister is about to bring in such a tax.

But the lack of opposition is emboldening the Government to move faster on the economic front than it might otherwise have done, another example being National’s willingness to allow mining of minerals on parts of the Department of Conservation estate.

I am pleased that National is showing signs that the status quo will not deliver the economy we need.

If nothing else, the politics surrounding the latter is proof there is a God – and that he or she has a wicked sense of humour.

How else to explain the private member’s bill promoted by Act’s John Boscawen, which allows parents to give their child a “light” smack for corrective purposes, making it onto Parliament’s order paper for debate.

The odds on the measure securing the sole spot available were a staggering 28-1 against. Beating those odds in the ballot of private member’s bills – plus the timing just days after the referendum result – suggested divine intervention.

I joked to a Christian lobbyist after the bill was drawn, that perhaps this does show that God is indeed on their side :-)

National is relaxed about Act getting a pay-off in the polls from Hide appearing principled by saying he would resign his Local Government portfolio rather than steer legislation through Parliament with which he could not agree.

Act has struggled to register above 1.5 per cent support since the election, while backing for National is up to 10 percentage points higher than the party got at the ballot box last year.

While Act appears to have decided to be less supine in its four-way relationship with National, the Maori Party and United Future, it has to ensure it does not overreach itself and become the docked tail wagging a very large National dog.

Most in National would like ACT to be close to 5% than 1%. And again to be fair to Rodney he did not publicise his stance on resigning over the Maori Seats. Whomever leaked the Tau Henare e-mail did that.

National ultimately holds the whip hand. Act’s survival as a parliamentary party rests on Hide holding his Epsom seat. National has no qualms about reminding him that it retains the right to select a quality candidate and make a proper fight of it in the electorate.

Hide’s threat to resign his portfolios is akin to the Black Knight’s sword fight with King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As Arthur hacks off the Black Knight’s limbs one-by-one, the latter insists his wounds are nothing more than a scratch and suggests the pair call it a draw.

Again I think it is fair to stress Rodney did not want this made public. But having been made public, is is true that there is limited room to take such a firm stance again without a degree of backlash.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from the Byzantine nature of MMP politics, it is not to view an argument over something like the non-establishment of Maori seats in isolation. The Maori Party has been the loser in that instance, it should be the winner elsewhere, thereby reinforcing its current inclination to stick with National.

The review of the foreshore and seabed law will see it emerge the winner when it comes to concessions.

I have blogged previously that by 2011 the Maori Party will probably have a fairly impressive list of achievements or wins. And what will be more remarkable is all of them were gained voluntarily – National could have governed without them.

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A step in the right direction

August 29th, 2009 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

Pat Pilcher reports in the Herald:

In what could be a landmark move, US website www.filmfresh.com have joined the fray and are delivering over 600 downloadable big title Hollywood movies. …

Film Fresh’s movie titles are not totally hobbled with digital rights management (DRM) which means they won’t become unwatchable a week after you’ve downloaded them and can be burnt to a DVD or copied to a USB stick.

Perhaps most important of all, delivering a solid range of blockbuster Hollywood movies that are relatively un-crippled by DRM provides a legitimate alternative to copyright infringing downloads.

Absolutely. The biggest blow against illegal downloading is making material available for legal purchase immediately, without DRM, in all countries, for a reasonable price.

This goes some of the way there.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Fresh Films is only available to folks living in the US and there’s no sign of it arriving here any time soon.

Stupid. That means the only way Kiwis wanting to view the film at home can do so, is to get it from a torrent site.

The other catch for those that can download Fresh Film titles is the price which ranges from US$10 to US$13.

Whilst that isn’t too steep (especially considering that the movie hasn’t been lobotomised by DRM), it is a little steep in that it is comparable to US budget DVD pricing and you don’t get the special features and other goodies usually bundled with a DVD.

I think this is significantly over-priced. In NZ you can go to the movies and see a film for around $10 on a weekday. Now bearing in mind you watching it at home means the studio does not  have to pay for the theatre, the theatre staff, the cost of getting a film reel to them etc etc and my expectation is that a movie should be NZ$5 at most to really get people buying them.

Likewise I think $1 is around the sensible rate for a TV show.

Bad news aside, the move by Fresh Films backers (Paramount, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Sony Pictures) to allow semi un-crippled legit movie downloads could signal a softening in the hard-line stance of the major studios, potentially opening the floodgates for other similar local services.

As I said, a step in the right direction.

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Misleading headlines

August 29th, 2009 at 10:15 am by David Farrar

When you see the Weekend Herald proclaim “Nats’ chief helps in fraud probe” you automatically think he may be in some way involved with an alleged fraud, and/or criminal wrong-doing.

In reality it transpires he is an indirect victim having lent $100,000 to a friend who invested with a man who seemingly is being investigated by the SFO.

It would have been nice if the headline reflected this, assuming that what has been reported is al there is to the story. To be honest seems a non-story to me.

In another Herald story, they profile Goodfellow’s baptism of fire. An interesting tidbit:

It is a rare glimpse: his now 92-year-old father, Douglas Goodfellow, has never given a public interview.

The family have managed to keep their low profile despite wealth and philanthropy on a massive scale – a Listener article from 1996 detailed how Douglas Goodfellow gave away $285 million to various unknown charities, the largest gift in New Zealand history at the time.

Goodness, that is a huge amount of charity, and done very quietly it seems.

The family are 16th on the NBR rich list with an estimated wealth of $550 million from interests ranging across fishing, finance and agricultural chemicals. The mild-mannered Mr Goodfellow – often compared to Ned Flanders from The Simpsons because of his moustache – told the Weekend Herald that recent weeks had been “difficult”.

I hadn’t heard the Ned Flanders nickname before, but sadly for Peter can see it catching on :-)

Asked if the factional politics of the National Party in Auckland are “vicious” given the early pressure on his presidency, Mr Goodfellow prefers the word “robust”.

Ha, that is a euphemism!

He became the family’s first activist with the Young Nationals in the 1970s.

He recalled Tamaki MP and Prime Minister Rob Muldoon collecting him early one morning for an Anzac Day dawn service.

Good God. That could have been very traumatic!

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General Debate 29 August 2009

August 29th, 2009 at 9:51 am by David Farrar
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August 2009 Cabinet Front Bench Blog Poll Results

August 28th, 2009 at 3:38 pm by David Farrar

We received  around 600 votes in this third unscientific blog poll on how readers perceive the front bench Ministers to be doing. The results are shown below in two ways.

Net Approval Ratings

This is the sum of those who said Very Good or Good less the sum of those who said Poor or Very Poor. The change from May 2009 ago is shown in brackets

  1. Judith Collins +51% (+14%)
  2. Chris Finlayson +47% (-5%)
  3. John Key +43% (-14%)
  4. Tony Ryall +43% (-4%)
  5. Simon Power +31% (-10%)
  6. Bill English +31% (-13%)
  7. Gerry Brownlee +12% (+6%)
  8. Anne Tolley +3% (-10%)
  9. Nick Smith -15% (-7%)

Collins and Brownlee have had their net approval improve from May. All others have dropped. Remember it is not necessarily the same people voting each time – this is not scientific. Nick’s rating I suspect partly reflects his holding of the climate change portfolio.

Overall six of the nine frontbench Ministers continue to have very strong approval ratings from readers.

Weighted Average

The other measure is a weighted average which takes account of if people said they were very good or just good etc. Basically it assigns a value of 100% for a VG, 75% for a G, 50% for an average, 25% for a P and 0% for a VP. The overall weighted averages are:

  1. Judith Collins 73% (+7%)
  2. Chris Finlayson 68% (-3%)
  3. John Key 68% (-8%)
  4. Tony Ryall 67% (-3%)
  5. Simon Power 61% (-5%)
  6. Bill English 60% (-6%)
  7. Gerry Brownlee 53% (+3%)
  8. Anne Tolley 49% (-4%)
  9. Nick Smith 43% (-1%)

Now again these are not scientific, and only reflect the particular preferences of Kiwiblog readers who participated.

I expect to do the fourth blog poll around November 2009.

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