Archive for October, 2009

Sustainability

October 31st, 2009 at 5:48 pm by David Farrar

An interesting article in the Herald:

But however highly consumers may rate green issues, there is no doubt National’s return to power has seen an easing in the pressure on business to make sustainability a high priority. The change is evident in organisations such as the Electricity Commission and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. Says one Wellington insider: “They’ve completely flipped their positioning – now it’s all about being the choice of the consumer. Before it was regulatory. Now it is much more about encouraging manufacturers to use more energy-efficient light bulbs, not compelling them to.”

And that is a good thing. And I say that as someone who has been using those lightbulbs before Labour trie to force us to.

The game has changed for New Zealand businesses, says Brown. There is a new Government which is none too keen on the word “sustainability” and there is a recession, so money is tight. “But it’s a myth that to be sustainable there has to be a cost to the bottom line. Sustainability helps business efficiency.” Many New Zealand businesses, she maintains, are still “blissfully unaware”.

It is unfortunate that some businesses do see sustainability as costing more, because in many circumstances it doesn’t.

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R v Hide

October 31st, 2009 at 5:15 pm by David Farrar

The case for and against Rodney Hide over using the international travel subsidy for long serving MPs to have his girlfriend accompany him.

The case for the defence:

  • He has already paid for the perk through a lower salary. The Remuneration Authority deducts 100% of the average value of the international travel perk (around $6,900 per MP) from their salary. The Authority also deducts around $4,000 from MPs salary to cover the 45% of spouses domestic travel deemed of personal benefit.
  • Up until 2009, it was almost automatic that Ministers would have their partners travel with them. This has only become an issue because John Key has changed the rules.
  • It is not hypocritical to oppose something but take benefit from it. Many people think the pension should be means tested, but they don’t turn it down when the reach 65 all the same.
  • Most men, if they had a girlfriend like Louise, wouldn’t leave her at home alone while they were overseas in case she changes her mind while you are gone :-)
  • Rodney, like most Ministers, works 70+ hour weeks, and gets very little family time as it is. This is why traditionally Ministers get to have partners travel with them, and we should not begrudge it
  • Two weeks is a long time to go without sex :-)
  • One overseas trip a year, with a partner, for a Minister is hardly troughing
  • The trip was approved by the PM, and within the rules.

The case for the prosecution:

  • Any other year it would not be such an issue, but this was done during a recession when Ministers are campaigning for spending restraint
  • The PM had made it clear he did not think the taxpayer should generally fund partners on overseas trips. It didn’t matter that he approved the trip – that was because he can’t set policy for how MPs use their parliamentary entitlement.
  • You used to be known as the perk buster – that means yes you do have to be a martyr.
  • The public hate hearing “It was approved and within the rules” when MPs write the rules.
  • After the fuss over Roger Douglas, one should have known that the ACT Party Leader, of all people, needed to be like Caesar’s Wife – beyond suspicion.
  • No one is saying your partner shouldn’t travel with you – it is a matter of who pays for it.

I think I have covered all the major arguments for and against. I would point out that most of the media have not really mentioned the aspect about the average cost of the international travel perk being deducted from an MPs salary.

There was some suggestion on other blogs, and linked here, that the amount of travel credited to partners may be wrong. I don’t think the Herald did have it wrong, and I’ll explain.

If an MP is a Minister, then Ministerial Services basically pays all his or her travel expenses as an MP. They don’t try and work out are you travelling as a Minister or an MP, because that would be a nightmare administratively.

But Ministers also do show travel expenses from Parliamentary Service. That is not the cost of their parliamentary travel, but generally the costs of their family’s travel and/or any use of the subsidy for long serving MPs on private travel.

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Kevin Hague on National Penis Day

October 31st, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Green MP Kevin Hague talks about National Penis Day. It was like Movember, to raise awareness of men’s health issues. I guess a National Vagina Day is unlikely to catch on!

Hague is taking part in Movember – good on him.

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Reason No 187,265 why me working for Hitler would have been a bad idea

October 31st, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I tend to crack jokes a lot, even at fairly inappropriate times. Luckily I’ve never been sacked for it. Unlike Fritz Darges. He has just died aged 96, and was one of Hitler’s closest aides. But look at what got him sacked:

But Darges misjudged the “warm-hearted” Führer deeply during one conference at Rastenburg on July 18 1944 – two days before a bomb plot nearly succeeded in killing him.

During a strategy conference a fly began buzzing around the room, landing on Hitler’s shoulder and on the surface of a map several times.

Irritated, Hitler ordered Darges to “dispatch the nuisance”. Darges suggested whimsically that, as it was an “airborne pest” the job should go to the Luftwaffe adjutant, Nicolaus von Below.

Enraged, Hitler dismissed Darges on the spot. “You’re for the eastern front!” he yelled. And so he was sent into combat.

I thought the retort was very good. But what sort of grump was Adolf to not just sack him, but send him to the Eastern Front for whimsical retort!

Sadly Darges still worshipped him:

Darges died on Saturday still believing in the man who engineered the Jewish Holocaust as “the greatest who ever lived.” His memoirs will be published now in accordance with his will.

There will be a lot of interest in his memoirs.

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Dom Post on Free Trade

October 31st, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The gloom merchants and flat earthers who dispute the benefits of free trade agreements should examine a set of figures.

They are the figures showing the difference between New Zealand’s trade with China before the FTA between the two came into force in October 2008 and after it came into force. In the year to October 2008, exports to China totalled $2.2 billion. In the next year, they were $3.5b.

At a time when New Zealand is being buffeted by shockwaves from the global economic crisis, the deal has buffered jobs and boosted incomes. The political parties that voted against it – NZ First, the Greens and the Maori Party – should hang their heads in shame.

Can’t say it better than that. They are the enemies of our exporters!

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Cellphone age of use

October 31st, 2009 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Teenagers who prefer texting to talking have driven some parents to call for a minimum cellphone ownership age of 14.

“Parents are worried teenagers are losing the ability to properly communicate with eye-to-eye contact,” said Shanti Ravichandran, of Auckland’s Unitec, who has surveyed parents’ attitudes to teenage cellphone use.

She said the use of text language was “overpowering” among teenagers, with some even using it in school examinations.

Ravichandran, a Master of Computing graduate, said 52 per cent of the 115 parents or caregivers she surveyed felt there should be a minimum age of 14 for cellphone ownership.

How effing ridicolous. The last thing NZ needs is an age limit for using or owning a cellphone. What next – a state imposed curfew at 9 pm, or a mandatory go to bed at 9.30 pm?

Those 52% of parents are very welcome not to allow their kids to own a cellphone. But they shouldn’t try and decide for all families what is best. Decisions should be made by families, not the state.

I know many parents who find it incredibly reassuring that their kids have a cellphone, as they can contact them 24/7.

Parents’ main concerns about cellphones were text bullying, addiction to text messaging and the negative impact on communication skills, she said.

“Because it is so discreet, teenagers are doing it under their sheets and they’re not getting enough sleep.”

So the solution is to send in the Police to arrest them?

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General Debate 31 October 2009

October 31st, 2009 at 9:16 am by David Farrar
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Herald on Govt’s first year

October 31st, 2009 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

This weekend it is the Herald’s turn to do a big feature on the Government’s first year in office. Multiple article to quote.

John Armstrong starts with what I think is the most important aspect:

The first Herald-DigiPoll survey since last year’s election shows close to 80 per cent of respondents rated the Government’s performance in dealing with the effect of the global recession on New Zealand as good, very good or excellent.

Barely 20 per cent rated the Government’s response to the recession as not good or poor.

And this is the major issue voters have focused on. Not use of urgency, not the Super City, not RWC broadcasting, not any of the numerous beltway issues. Not to say handling of those issues is not worthy of focus, but they are not critical to the average voter.

In another article, Armstrong reviews Key himself:

Key’s sheer ordinariness has fooled opponents into making first impression assumptions that there is little substance behind the confident, smiley face he presents to the world.

Key would not claim to be an intellectual. But he is very bright. Those who have worked closely with him speak of a capacity to absorb mountains of information and a laser-like capacity to focus on what needs to be done.

I would almost call Key a data sponge. He loves soaking up information from numerous sources, and reflecting on it. He is constantly thinking, and analysing.

He is anything but ordinary. The chief executive of New Zealand Incorporated is nothing short of a political phenomenon.

As one Beehive operative of long experience puts it, Key is rewriting the rules of New Zealand politics. That is a sweeping statement. But it goes some way to explaining why public support for National – confirmed in today’s Herald-DigiPoll survey – has climbed to unprecedented highs for a ruling party in its first year of government and, just as crucially, continues to remain at that level.

The challenge for the Government is to build its own brand to complement Key’s strong brand.

Key cites his Government’s fulfillment of manifesto commitments and steering the country through and (he hopes) out of economic recession as crucial in consolidating support for his party. Cabinet ministers readily acknowledge, however, that National’s post-election dream run is overwhelmingly down to Key’s strong rapport with voters – especially females who shunned National in the past.

It is rare for a centre-right party to do well with female voters.

Labour Party insiders grudgingly agree, but with a subtle twist in the language: National’s popularity rests on Key’s popularity. When the latter starts to fade, the former will quickly evaporate.

As I said above, I agree with them that the popularity is largely Key. But that may change over time, as other Ministers become better known. Also the other Ministers have generally been doing quite well in their portfolios – what is lacking is more a coherent all of Government brand.

Or so Labour prays. Labour, however, has made a bad habit of underestimating Key.

And they still are.

One of the principal ways he is seen to be rewriting the rules is by applying a “will it work” test to policy proposals rather than first asking whether they sit comfortably with National Party ideology. Key’s willingness to search for ideas outside conventional boundaries is in tune with an electorate less hung-up about ideology than in the 1980s and 1990s.

Key has centre-right values and instincts, but he sees them as a guide not a straitjacket.

This may irk some colleagues who see the vast gap between National and Labour in the polls as a rare chance for National to adopt a more radical and right-leaning prescription. …

Key seems to have no difficulty with either proposition. However, he is extremely wary of breaching National’s 2008 manifesto. He believes it is vital that voters feel confident they can trust National in government.

I’m one of those who want to see the Government be more bold, and indeed use that vast poll gap while we have it. But it isn’t about being more “right”, it is about fighting battles that are important to our future such as tax reform, the union stranglehold in education, state sector reform etc. But I agree any reform has to be consistent with the election manifesto. But there are plenty of areas where initiatives were not ruled in or out.

Dunne also noted that “references to what happened in the 1990s, let alone what side one was on during the Springbok Tour or, heaven forbid, the Vietnam War are utterly irrelevant to the values of this new generation, as Helen Clark found out dramatically last year, and Phil Goff is continuing to find out”.

The battles of yesterday.

Though Goff is an effective communicator, Key operates on another level. Unlike some politicians, he never talks down to people. He instead likes to disarm his audiences – no matter how big or small – by kicking off proceedings with a witty anecdote. More often than not, the joke is at his own expense. And deliberately so. The self-deprecation helps to break the ice.

A typical example was a recent meeting with youngsters at a riding school. Praising their ambition to represent New Zealand in show-jumping at the 2016 Olympics. Key turned to their proud parents, telling them “and you’ll be able to watch it all on Maori television”.

Heh. More seriously I recommend anyone who has not seen Key do a Q&A, should attend one of his meetings. He really engages with the audience, and as John A says, never talking down.

Yet, a year on from the election, it is still difficult to discern the direction in which the Government is going. Presumably it knows, because it is a very busy Government. It would be useful if it told the rest of us.

If Key has a major flaw, it is in not drawing the big picture often enough.

I agree. I don’t think it has mattered much this year, for it has been a crisis year – fighting the recession. But as that fades as an issue, people are going to want to hear more about closing (or at least slowing) the gao with Australia.

Key’s power is at its zenith. But how does he intend to use it? What legacy does he want to leave? The next 12 months will be true measure of his prime ministership, judged on what is done to get his promised “step change”in New Zealand’s economic growth.

I think the 2010 budget is very important, even more so that the 2011 budget.

Claire Trevett reports 78% of NZers back the series of cycleways.

Patrick Gower talks to Rodney Hide about working with John Key.

John Armstrong also reviews Bill English.

Claire Trevett talks to Tariana Turia:

Do you still have that level of trust in National?

Yes. What I’ve enjoyed the most is our ability to be upfront with one another and be straightforward on issues. I have never found that they’ve said one thing to me in a meeting and done another.

I recall what John Tamihere said about how Cullen used to treat coalition partners!

Have there been difficult choices?

When you can see value in what is being proposed but there’s always downsides to it. We’ve had to think really carefully about ACC, the Emissions Trading Scheme, and adult education courses.

For example with the ETS, it’s been difficult to try to balance the interests of iwi – whose major focus is forestry, fishing and farming – when on the other hand we’ve got really poor communities who are going to have to pay and they’re not the ones causing the problems.

There are very few policies that don’t involve balancing the trade-offs.

Jon Johannsson talks leadership:

I believe we are watching an unusual prime ministership take shape. Key’s skillset is vastly different from what we’ve seen before. We’d possibly have to go all the way back to the entrepreneurial Julius Vogel in the 1870s to find an apt comparison. Vogel put in vital and much-needed infrastructure to connect New Zealanders with each other and then with the rest of the world. Vogel’s legacy is a hugely significant one in our politics. If Key could affect a 21st century equivalent – meaning nothing short of major structural transformation to better position New Zealand during its transition to an information-age economy – his future legacy would be assured.

And Key has pushed hard on infrastructure. But the structural transformation is not there – however stuff like the fibre to the home initiative may be part of that.

Key has also grasped that our politics is going through a non-ideological phase, which explains why much of the criticism of his Government’s performance has come from ideologues on either side of the spectrum. His acceptance of much of Labour’s policy inheritance reinforces this judgment. Keeping its promises, which National has largely done, thereby establishing long-term trust with the electorate, has given Key the prerequisite platform needed for greater freedom of action in the future.

Absolutely. You have to earn trust, to then have greater freedom of action.

But to return to where I began, Key’s larger context; his political vision has been quite parsimonious in my view. There is no overarching narrative that tells us where Key intends taking us or what policy mix will best maximise our future progress and choices.

Transforming education (surely the best incubator for our future economic prosperity), leading our democracy (think: the electoral referendum, the Treaty, republicanism), and how to best protect water, our most valuable strategic resource, are being managed, not led, in an entirely ad-hoc fashion.

I think this is fair criticism.

Finally John Roughan:

The most impressive member of the Cabinet is a complete newcomer, Steven Joyce.

He is doing the infrastructure projects, notably the duplicate broadband network, as well as those in his primary portfolio, transport.

He’s done the little things, like the car cellphone ban on which the previous government dithered for years, and the big things like the Waterview connection, which I thought was wrong but he put me right.

I remarked to the Dominion Post for their review that I thought John Key’s best decision was probably appointing Steven Joyce to such critical portfolios. The fibre rollout was Key’s signature initiative, and speeding up infrastructure investment also a iconic issue for Key. And Steven indeed is no ditherer.

Of course I still think he is wrong on the cellphone ban!

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Blog Bits

October 30th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. MacDoctor highlights how the stories of complaints about ACC are ceasing funding a “world-leading” programme is only half as effective and six times as expensive as the replacement course. So the headline should really be about how the new ACC programme is 12 times as effective for the cost.
  2. Colin Espiner thinks the Prime Minister should have his own plane.
  3. Cactus Kate admonishes Rodney Hide for his air travel, but also points out the media have not reported the costs correctly.
  4. Whale Oil shows up a recent smear by Eddie at The Standard, purporting to be concern.
  5. Iain Dale blogs on how parents in Watford can no longer enter a playground with their children, but have to “wait outside the railings whilst council-employed “play facilitators” assist the children”. Political Correctness gone mad,
  6. Andrew Bolt responds to a left columnist who stated “It takes a certain person to rejoice in the suffering of others. In the real world they’re called sociopaths – in politics, they’re called conservatives.”
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Organised crime crackdown

October 30th, 2009 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

In a crackdown on organised crime, Mr Broad and Police Minister Judith Collins announced a new police squad dedicated to confiscating millions of dollars of assets owned by crime bosses. …

The 22-man Assets Recovery Unit will be made up of veteran police investigators and forensic specialists while making use of accountants and legal experts. …

Ms Collins said gangs had changed since the 1970s, becoming sophisticated criminal businesses. Gang bosses owned farms, houses, cars, boats and motorcycles. Some of the seized proceeds would be used to fund methamphetamine rehabilitation and youth aid programmes, and some of it would go back into law enforcement.

I’d be tempted to stick the team on commission – they get 10% of everything they can get off the gangs :-)

No I am not serious, but it is good to see a dedicated focus in this area.

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Police inquiry after cycle/road rage allegations

October 30th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post report:

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has been caught up in a police investigation into an alleged road rage incident in central Wellington.

Mr Mallard says he was forced to defend himself from a driver on Willis St who drove through a group of cyclists then hit him with a bag.

“I very nearly fell off my bike from this guy jumping out and swinging his bag at me,” he said. “I got my foot out of the [bike] pedal because I thought I was going to fall off and there was contact between my foot and his bag.”

The car’s occupants laid a complaint against Mr Mallard, but police would not give details of the complaint. They confirmed they knew of an incident but would not say if charges would be laid.

Now I know some here will automatically conclude Mallard must be in the wrong, but I would advise people not to jump to conclusions.  First of all in my experience many motorists are very inconsiderate around cyclists. Secondly, the eye witnesses back up Trevor on what happened.

Mr Mallard said he had been riding with a bunch of cyclists on Wednesday morning and was on the way back to Parliament about 8.10am when a car drove through the group “and got comments from a few of them”.

A man then got out of the car and swung a bag at Mr Mallard.

When asked if he hit or grabbed the man, the MP said: “No, I defended myself against him. I didn’t touch him at all.”

When asked if the man hit him, he said: “Yes, he did hit me with his bag.”

Mr Mallard said there was shouting from both sides over the incident, and he rode off.

I would be surprised if the Police charge anyone, if the reports of what happened are accurate. I would say that most blame lies with the motorist who got out of his car, if the facts are correctly reported.

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iPredict Column

October 30th, 2009 at 1:30 pm by David Farrar

Thanks Dr Bollard

OCR.INCR,APR10 pays out if the Reserve Bank raises the official cash rate before 1 April 2010. I short sold this stock at 30c, and the price up until this morning had reached 71c, with the markets expecting Dr Bollard to change his stance of no increases until the latter half of 2010. I was seriously exposed to making a big loss.

However this morning he announced:

“In contrast to current market pricing, we see no urgency to begin withdrawing monetary policy stimulus, and we expect to keep the OCR at the current level until the second half of 2010.”

This has seen the price fall to 42c, and I think it will fall further. The Governor has been very clear as to his intentions, saying inflation is expected to track within the target range. Now it is possible he may end up moving before July, but I can’t see him doing an increase in or before March 2010.

MMP gaining strength

MMP.RETAIN dropped to 30c the day it launched, before rebounding to 50c. Since then it has steadily increased each day and is now at 60c.

I think that is a bit over-priced for the first referendum. Support for MMP in polls at at around 50% only, and even some supporters of MMP may vote for change at the first referendum to allow STV to be considered.

2010 Departures

DEP.KING.2010 is at 40c and DEP.GOFF.2010 at 30c. I don’t think these stocks will change much more this year, but if Labour’s gap in the polls continues in 2010, I expect they may rise further early next year.

DEP.ENGLISH.2010 remains at 11c with almost no trading, and DEP.KEY.2010 has not sold one share this week, remaining at 5c.

Unemployment

UNEM.DECL.SEP09 is priced at 5c, and it is indeed highly unlikely the unemployment rate will decline in the Sep quarter, even though the economy is technically out of recession.

However UNEM.DECL.DEC09 trading at 15c may be worth risking a purchase. Why? Well in other stocks UNEM.SEP09 is at 68c, representing a projected unemployment rate of 6.8% and UNEM.DEC09 is at 69c, representing a projected unemployment rate of 6.9%.

So the market is saying they expect the unemployment rate in December to be only 0.1% higher than in September. When it is that close, there is a greater than 15% chance, in my opinion, that December 09 may see the unemployment rate fall, and is worth a buy.

Labour

LAB.1NOV09.DN is trading at 59c. Considering the nightmare run of stories about Chris Carter, Rick Barker and others, I think Labour may fall below the 30% they got in the last poll.

Most Traded

The petrol price stocks still dominate the last week, with $14,500 of trades. Next were the Roy Morgan poll stocks with $7,300 traded.

Cheers,

David

Disclosure

David’s current iPredict positions are:

BROWN.RESIGN Short, DEP.GOFF.2010 Short, DEP.KING.2010 Short, DL.KING.09 Short, FASA04.REPEAL Short, GST.UP.JULY10 Short, LEAD.GOFF.09 Short, MAYOR.BROWN Long, MIN.DEPART2.09 Short, MP.ANDERTON Short, MP.PETERS.2011 Short, NAT.MAORI.09 Short, OBAMA.DISAP.4NOV Short, OCR.INCR.APR10 Short, OCR.INCR.JAN10 Short, PETERS.LEADER Long, PM.2011.NATIONAL Long, UK2010.CON.ABS Long, UK2010.CON.MAJ Short, ZIM.MUGABE Short

Links to stocks in this commentary: MMP.RETAIN, DEP.KING.2010, DEP.GOFF.2010, DEP.ENGLISH.2010, DEP.KEY.2010, UNEM.DECL.SEP09, UNEM.DECL.DEC09, UNEM.SEP09, UNEM.DEC09, LAB.1NOV09.DN

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Laws calls for cash to sterilise

October 30th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws says giving the “underclass” money to be sterilised will address our child abuse problem.

Critics last night labelled the suggestion “totalitarian”, “draconian” and “reprehensible”, and questioned his appropriateness as a city leader.

Mr Laws said the children of beneficiaries, drug addicts and criminals had little chance in life. He offered his observations after he was approached for comment on the death of two-year-old Wanganui boy Karl Perigo-Check, the son of a convicted murderer and gang member.

“If we gave $10,000 to certain people and said ‘we’ll voluntarily sterilise you’ then all of society would be better off. There’d be less dead children and less social problems.

It is a fact there are some people who are not fit to be parents. And when they do have more children, the kids get removed from them at birth. I’m not sure how many are in this category, but there are a few.

I doubt anyone sensible advocates compulsory sterilisation. No state should ever have that power. Even the thought makes me shudder.

But if a parent has a history of child abuse (for example), should there be an incentive for him or her to get sterilised – such as a cash payment as Laws suggests?

Personally I don’t think it is a good idea. For one thing people can end up as parents, even if sterilised. They partner up with someone who had kids for example.

But also it is still pretty creepy to have our own version of China’s toasters for sterilisation policy. Now sure China was aimed at everyone – to keep overall population down. But I don’t think bribing our own citizens to get sterilised if a great innovation.

Also many sterilisations can be reversed anyway.

But Laws is right that something needs to be done. He hasn’t got the solution, but the status quo is not acceptable.

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ODT on Labour

October 30th, 2009 at 12:38 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

The Labour Party Opposition and its leader are enjoying low support, as measured by opinion polls, and seem unable to gain any political “traction” on any issue for long.

Mr Goff is a pleasant enough chap, not notably charismatic, and cut largely from the same dogged cloth as his predecessor but with stronger links to Labour’s working-class origins.

The parliamentary team he leads is shy on obvious talent and too obsessed with points-scoring to obtain the lasting interest of most voters.

Recent activity in the House during question time by leading members of the Labour Party has been petty almost beyond belief.

Petty is one word for it.

If its members are still shell-shocked by being kicked out of office after nine years of enjoying its full fruits, then it is time – to use the vernacular – they “got a grip”.

Voter support will return to Labour, but it will have to be earned.

One reason delaying its return is the question of trust.

There were sufficient numbers of dodgy practices by Labour when in government to help speed the party’s exit from power; any attempted repetition of that behaviour so early in its term of Opposition should be a dominating concern of Mr Goff and his colleagues.

And the message voters will read from it, is they have not changed.

Part of the problem is their public faces are not changed a lot from Government. They really need to be using Robertson, Nash, Davis, Ardern etc more.

Labour’s tactic when adverse reports are aired has been to keep Mr Goff well out of sight and this has been the case with Mr Barker’s economy with the notion of integrity – as it has been when some other senior members, including Trevor Mallard and Chris Carter, have needed their leader’s public guidance on their behaviour.

It is hardly good enough for a party hoping to rebuild the confidence of voters in it, let alone acquire the trust required to be elected to government.

Some of the new Labour MPs must be wondering why their senior colleagues keep fucking things up.

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Lies on Auckland

October 30th, 2009 at 11:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports claims and lies re Auckland:

Labour MP Phil Twyford and the Greens’ Sue Kedgley yesterday claimed the agency designing the Super City was going to place control of most of Auckland’s assets into eight companies.

Mr Twyford said up to eight council-controlled organisations (CCOs) with their own boards and chief executives would run the services of transport, water, stadiums, land development and economic development.

“They are even planning to corporatise libraries and community houses. The mayor and council will be left like beached whales,” he said.

So is this true?

Mr Ford said there was no way that libraries and community services, “which lie at the heart of local government”, would be run by anything but the council.

Seems not. Any other lies?

He also disputed a claim by Mr Twyford that the CCOs would be overseen by a separate council-owned holding company with its own chief executive and board.

“CCOs will be controlled under the Auckland Council and it will be the council that is responsible for the governance and monitoring of performance,” Mr Ford said.

Yep.

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Young on Key in Tokyo

October 30th, 2009 at 11:18 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young covers the lighter side:

You’ve got to wonder how much time John Key spends thinking up stunts. Not much I suspect. He just has an eye for a opportunity.

He pulled one last night on Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama just before the two sets of First Couples were about to head into dinner.

Key pulled out a silver fern pin and proceeded to  pin onto his host’s suit lapel. You have to admire it.

There was no question like ‘’would you like this?” It was just out with it and here, this is what you are wearing.  It went down well.

He might be lucky the Japanese PM’s bodyguards didn’t intervene.

And such was the occasion and glare of the photo press corp cameras it would have been churlish of the new PM to say No.  Even better for the snappers, Mrs Hatoyama took over and started pinning it on her husband’s lapel.

Afterwards, the Japan press corp  wanted to know what the silver fern was and what it meant.

Key really doesn’t need a media team!

It was a bit like the idea Key had to take a loaf of Vogel’s bread that Key took to Helen Clark in New York  – just like the New Zealand TV ads).

The slight drawback on that stunt  was that Clark’s people would not allow pictures of the loaf being handed over though there was no objection to him actually telling people he had done so.

I can’t believe they had to negotiate over the bread!

The two leaders last night exchanged rugby jerseys and balls signed by their sides and Key let it slip to reporters  back at his hotel that Mrs Hatoyama had tried on the All Blacks jersey at dinner and wanted to meet Dan Carter on the say-so of Mrs Key.

They should have brought a Jockey billboard over!

Audrey also has an article on the more serious side:

Japan has effectively wiped the slate clean on past agreements by the two countries on a free trade agreement and signalled it is serious about achieving results.

After talks in Tokyo last night, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Japan’s new Prime minister Yukio Hatoyama asked officials to go back to the drawing board.

A previous agreement to study a free trade deal stalled under past Tokyo governments, with Japanese officials being blamed.

In a joint statement issued last night, the leaders indicated that such stonewalling had to stop – they said they had “instructed the [officials] group to deepen discussions in a constructive manner so as to take the partnership forward”.

Now this is just a very early step, but a hell of a promising one. Reducing barriers with Japan would be as important as an US FTA.

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More on Destiny

October 30th, 2009 at 10:43 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Destiny Church supporters parted with tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of watching 700 worshippers swear an oath of allegiance to leader Bishop Brian Tamaki.

Church officials have confirmed “several thousand” people paid $30 each to attend the ceremony, with a $60 concession for family groups.

But costs didn’t stop at the door. Oath takers paid $295 – plus a $5 administration fee – for the ring symbolising their loyalty to Bishop Tamaki. Some were given the option of paying the ring off over time.

My personal theory is that Tamaki is just a cunning businessman, who is using religion to make stacks of money. I mean $90,000 from the spectators and $210,000 from the oath takers is a sweet $300,000.

If he wasn’t selling God, he’d be promoting PONZI schemes or Scientology, or spamming viagra pills.

He likened the covenant’s provisions of non-disagreement with the way Prime Minister John Key would view party members espousing different views from the party line.

Ummm what a ridicolous comment. First of all there is no swearing an oath of loyalty to the Leader of a political party, let alone a detailed book instructing you to never disagree with the Leader in public.

More importantly party members express views different to the party line all the time. Hell I do it every week.

Brian

A timely cartoon from Blunt.

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General Debate 30 October 2009

October 30th, 2009 at 10:20 am by David Farrar
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Ouch

October 30th, 2009 at 10:12 am by David Farrar

Great party last night, hosted by LM and J at the Green Room. They are a Wellington instiution.

This is why there has been no blogging this morning. In fact have just finished my NBR online column. It is on the forecast that income tax rates will have to increase by 5.5%, if we don’t make changes to superannuation. Apologies to NBR for missing the deadline.

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Third Quarter MPs expenses

October 29th, 2009 at 4:06 pm by David Farrar

The PM and the Speaker have released summaries of expenses for the third quarter of this year.

I’ve put them into Excel so I can analyse them at some length. Some tidbits for now for MPs:

  • Highest Wgtn Accom – Maryan Street $8,703 for quarter
  • Highest Out of Wgtn Accom – Hone Harawira – $3,978
  • Highest Air Travel – Phil Goff on $29,166 and Ross Robertson on $25,742. That is $2,000 a week for Robertson so must include some international travel
  • Highest Surface Travel – Hone Harawira $19,942

And for Ministers

  • Highest Wgtn Accom – Georgina te Heuheu – $12,833
  • Highest Out of Wgtn Accom – John Carter – $5,661
  • Highest Domestic Air Travel – Kate Wilkinson – $16,420
  • Highest Surface Travel – John Key- $81,079 (that is an apportionment of VIP Transport costs – most of which are fixed not marginal)
  • Highest International Travel – Tim Groser – $120,235

Average expenses per Party (excludes Ministers)

  1. ACT $15,501
  2. Green $18,358
  3. National $18,954
  4. Labour $20,422
  5. Progressive $27,533
  6. Maori $35,549

More analysis to come.

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The John Key for Movember campaign

October 29th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Damien Christie has set up a campaign to convince John Key to grow a moustache for Movember. Now personally I am not sure it is a good look for NZ to have a PM who looks like a paedophile (I think most men with moustaches look that way) and that it is a bit undignified, but Damien has made the point that going on Letterman wasn’t exactly dignified, and this is for a good charitable cause.

Anyway Damien has set up a Facebook group called I’ll (at least consider) voting for National if John Key grows a Mo’

So if you want to join the campaign to have John Key do Movember, join the Facebook group and promote it to your friends.

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The poor entertainer

October 29th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A top entertainer who shoved a young woman’s head into his genitals in an alleyway is fighting to keep his name secret because he says publicity will destroy his career.

I’ve got a solution. How about you don’t shove a young woman’s head onto your genitals, and then you won’t get adverse publicity?

The Police have not objected to name suppression, so I guess he will get it.

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Advice for Labour from Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

October 29th, 2009 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Jeremy G-H is that rare beast – a Labourite with independent thought. He was one of the very few to condemn Taito Phillip Field, while his leadership was defending him.

He blogs some advice for Labour today:

Labour: English’s homes saga not over

Um, yes, it is. Well, at least in the eyes of voters beyond the beltway.

I earlier posted that Bill English should go. I personally still believe he should be removed, but any legal grounds for him to be removed have now been extinguished by the auditor general’s report. In the eyes of your Joe Bloggs voter, English has paid back the money and the auditor general has vindicated him – this matter is closed. Labour need to face the facts that it has lost this one and move on.

Labour do seem obsessed with beltway issues. Red Alert is full of them. When is the last time you heard Phil Goff talking about jobs, the economy, improving the health system, better educational outcomes?

Jeremy even blogs some better issues for Labour to focus on, that their beltway obesssions:

Labour are a bit like a dog off the leash. They just chase every car that drives past, catching none of them. Instead they need to focus on just two or three issues and push pretty uch nothing but those issues for weeks and months.

The public only hear a message after months of repetition. It’s not glamarous, but it is effective.

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Homepaddock to Lord Stern

October 29th, 2009 at 1:28 pm by David Farrar

Homepaddock blogs:

Dear Lord Stern,

Re your suggestion that the whole world should go vegetarian to save the planet.

Why don’t you just shoot all the people?

It would be kinder than letting millions die of starvation which is what would happen if we took your idea seriously.

Yours sincerely

Homepaddock

People keep thinking I am joking when I go on about some Greenies want us to shoot cows to prevent global warming. Well one of the High Priests of global warming has said:

“Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”

He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said. “I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”

Yes eating meat will be like drink driving. I can see it now.

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DNA Poll

October 29th, 2009 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

I have a poll in the sidebar asking under what circumstances you think the Police should be able to take a DNA sample. You can choose multiple options.

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