Archive for June, 2010

Eating the Dog

June 30th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Auckland Girl and I went to the première of Eating the Dog by Te Radar at Downstage last night.

It was a wonderful stroll through obscure tracts of New Zealand history, and we spent most of the evening giggling and laughing away. I can’t think of many people who wouldn’t enjoy it, and if you love learning about obscure history you’ll love it.

I’d never seen Te Radar perform before and wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the show. His newspaper columns have never struck me as hugely funny, so I went along unsure about how I would enjoy the night.

Te Radar was excellent. Physically he looks like a ginga-lite version of Carrot Top (the las Vegas comedian). He was dressed to match, and kept the audience engaged through out. While he is a comedian, he wasn’t telling jokes. What he did is effectively take people through a powerpoint history of some amusing and obscure parts of NZ history, with great enthusiasm for the wonderful Kiwi attitude.

It was not comedy of the laugh so hard your ribs hurt type. But it was very funny – there is a wealth of material to laugh at.

I was genuinely fascinated by the history that has been lying around in our regional museums. The Taranaki highwayman of the 1890s was a most unlikely criminal. You can only applaud the former Cromwell Mayor who upon hearing of a vote of no confidence being passed in his absence identified the mover, locked the Council doors, whacked around the mover and then asked who the seconder was. As no one put their hand up, he declared it could not have been a valid motion.

The gold mining submarine was also fascinating, and I intend to view it the next time I am in Middlemarch.

The favourite part had to be the relatively well known Bob Semple tank built from corrugated iron. They reminded me of the 2004 Killdozer.

The play is on until the 10th of July. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


June 30th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Quiz is here. 10/10. 30 seconds. Yay.

Editorials 30 June 2010

June 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald focuses on Fiji:

The second was the introduction of a grandly titled Media Industry Development Decree. It means, among other things, that the Fiji Times, the country’s oldest and largest newspaper, has three months to remove Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd as its owner or face closure.

If the first development borders on farce, the second should remove any lingering illusions about the regime’s view of democratic niceties. The decree effectively eliminates freedom of expression in Fiji.

Aside from the restriction on foreign ownership, a tribunal has been established to ensure nothing is printed or broadcast against the “national interest or public order”.

In essence, Fijians will no longer know what their rulers are up to. Special attention is being paid to the Fiji Times because, according to the Attorney-General, it has been “the purveyor of negativity, at least for the past three years”.

The move against the media is part of an ongoing removal of Fijians’ rights. This has included the abrogation of the constitution, the squashing of dissent and the dishonouring of pledges for a return to democracy.

There is sadly no evidence that there will be a return to democracy. I can’t see a scenario where the Commodore will give up power and let Fijians actually decide on their Government.

This step should also occasion a rethink by New Zealanders who spend their holidays in Fiji. Tim Pankhurst, of the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee has suggested a boycott.

He has a point. Tourists might like to say that Fijian businesses and jobs should not be penalised for the sins of the regime. But they are undermining their own country’s diplomatic efforts.

Fiji’s tourism-driven economy attracts 60 per cent of its patronage from New Zealand and Australia. No official boycott can be imposed, nor should it be.

But a rethink by would-be tourists would apply further pressure. And if, ultimately, it is up to the Fijian people to send Commodore Bainimarama back to the barracks, tourists temporarily moving away from Fiji for other Pacific destinations would hammer home a message about the pariah status of their rulers.

Rather than out all the onus on consumers, the media could play their part. Rather than just write editorials, APN and Fairfax could refuse to accept advertising for Fiji tourism. That would be a sign of solidarity with their colleagues in Fiji, and show real commitment rather than just words.

The Press lashes FIFA:

Football prides itself on being the “beautiful game”, but the current World Cup in South Africa has been marred by too many ugly refereeing decisions.

One of the most egregious occurred this week when England’s Frank Lampard was not awarded a goal against Germany despite the ball clearly crossing the goal line after hitting the crossbar.

This must serve as a wake-up call for Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and his top officials to get their heads out of the sand and harness the electronic technology successfully used by so many other sports.

It is a no brainer.

The Dom Post looks at smoking in prisons:

But surely an outright ban goes too far? How about halfway measures first, such as a prison smoking-room, or a ban on smoking in cells? If she is wedded to a total ban, what are known as “cessation assistance” programmes – already available to anyone, including the incarcerated, who want to quit – must be funded appropriately. …

As usual with any broadbrush proposal, the devil will be in the detail. But that detail should acknowledge union unease. The minister has already attended the funeral of one prison guard this year – a political show that bore an uncanny resemblance to former prime minister Helen Clark’s infamous appearance at the Folole Muliaga funeral in 2007. Ms Collins does not want the option of attending another.

What an incredibly stupid comparison, in terms of funerals. Jason Palmer was employed by the Government and died doing his job, and as a result of his job. I don’t know anyone who thinks a Minister should not attend the funeral of law & order professionals who get killed by criminals. In fact it is almost disrespectful not to go.

What that has in common with the circus generated around the Muliaga’s I don’t know.

The ODT also looks at smoking:

With this background, it may have surprised some readers to learn that the inmates of our prisons are permitted to smoke, including in their cells, unlike in Canada, some British prisons, and those in some Australian states, where the practice is banned.

The intention of the Minister of Corrections to ban smoking in our jails from July next year is certainly easily justified on health grounds alone, and the overseas precedent suggests the fears being raised here by vested interests are largely groundless. …

Objectors have raised two main issues: the right of prisoners to smoke in what is effectively their “own home”; and the potential for violent reaction from prisoners required to cease smoking.

The first claim is groundless.

Prisoners are, in effect, tenants.

The State, as landlord, can and does impose conditions of use.

Additionally, prisoners who do not smoke – and prison guards – are entitled to not be confined in conditions where their own health may be damaged by second-hand smoke.

The department has anticipated prisoner reaction by giving a year’s notice of the measure, and by its intention to offer a cessation programme, including nicotine replacements, for those who seek such help.

That approach is not unreasonable.

Meanwhile 65% of people in Labour’s poll say they back the ban, so I expect we will see them come out backing it shortly.

Do as we say, not as we did

June 30th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I seriously laugh out loud everytime I see Labour calling for the Government to reduce dividends from energy SOEs. They’re at it again:

Labour leader Phil Goff said there had been price gouging and state dividends were too high. He said Labour’s version of the ETS – which would have involved price rises double National’s – would have come with compensation for the worst affected. But Mr Key and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power said the Government would not change its dividend policy.

Useful reminder that Labour’s policy was to double the cost of the ETS on power and fuel users. This adds to their record of power prices going up 64% in their last seven years of office.

But back to dividends from power SOEs. Labour took a staggering $3.1 billion in dividends during a period of record surpluses.

Now when the Crown’s books face massive deficits, and we are borrowing $230 million a week, Labour thinks these dividends should be reduced.

Strike One

June 30th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

An Upper Hutt man has been served with New Zealand’s first warning under the controversial “three strikes” law after being convicted of groping a woman.

Dwyane Christopher Mercer, 32, was convicted in Upper Hutt District Court last week after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting his friend’s partner. Indecent assault is one of 40 serious violent offences that attract “strikes” upon conviction. The law came into force on June 1. …

Mercer, a landscape gardener, assaulted his victim after being offered a bed for the night after drinking, the court was told.

His partner of seven years, Vanisha Mercer, 25, supported him in court and was unhappy with the “strike”. His three-year-old daughter and son, 6, were missing their father, who was in prison for the first time, she said. “I think it’s unfair … He was just drunk.”

The new law was a good idea “for really bad people … But he’s not a bad person,” she said.

Actually if Mercer is not a bad person, then the law will work on him. He will not want to get a second strike, knowing it will mean no parole. Some criminals will not be deterred from reoffending, but it sounds like Mercer can be.

“I reckon that if he had known the law had changed he wouldn’t have [pleaded] guilty, because then he would have got his bail.”

The three strikes law doesn’t affect bail.


June 30th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Not PC makes a great point in this post:

There’s been a lot of talk about Cadbury’s slide down the rankings of NZ’s most-trusted brands, from being judged the most trusted company in the country lat year down to a meagre 36th out of 133rd this year …

But you might be wondering, why on earth would companies care what people say about them?  Especially when so many of the left’s luminaries insist that companies, especially multinational companies in headlong pursuit of profits, are essentially an irresponsible law unto themselves?The answer is as simple as the nose on your face, really.  It’s because a seller’s reputation is the key to their long-term profits.

If companies have their own long-term interests at heart then, as all good companies should, then maintaining their reputation with their customers is essential. This is why good companies spend so much time and energy protecting their brand, and lesser companies do not. It’s because in the final analysis it’s not multinational corporations who decide the long-term direction of production, it’s consumers. …

The consumer is king, and she is a hard task-master—and it is the very profit system that those leftist luminaries denounce that is the key to ensuring a company’s responsibility. Because if long-term profits are important to a company, then keeping their customers happy must be paramount.

Some people see profits as providing bad incentives to corporations. Like PC, I believe they provide good incentives.

More transparency

June 30th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The wave of transparency under this Government keeps rolling on. At first it was just summary expenses of MPs. Then it was also credit card details for Ministers, And a few days ago also announced quarterly releases of credit card details for Department CEOs. And today we see even former Governor-Generals will not be exempt.

The Herald reports:

The new era of transparency over expenses paid by the public purse will extend to former governors-general under a bill introduced to Parliament yesterday.

Expenses of free domestic travel and chauffer-driven VIP cars paid for by Internal Affairs will have to be specified for each former governor-general in the department’s annual report.

It will probably pave the way for similar disclosures for the expenses of former prime ministers, because the funding for both retired groups comes out of the same appropriation.

The information can be obtained under the Official Information Act but it is not routinely published. …

The new transparency clause is one of the provisions of the Governor-General Bill, the main provision of which is to end the tax exemption for governors-general.

It will take effect from the appointment of the next governor-general.

The bill is here. It also changes the tax status of the Governor-General so they will in future pay tax on their salary. It was previously seen as inappropriate as taxation was in the name of the crown, and they represented the crown. But as even the Queen has been paying income tax since 1993, it is good we are catching up!

The Parliamentary Library

June 30th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Education Minister Anne Tolley is to complain to the Speaker Lockwood Smith over a Parliamentary Library research paper on national standards in primary schools.

Mrs Tolley said the paper was “unprofessional”, “highly political” and so biased it could have been written by the union opposing the policy.

Mrs Tolley wants the paper withdrawn and rewritten.

Library researchers frequently produce papers on topics of the day, on the economy and legislation before the House.

They are displayed in the library, in the Beehive cafeteria and some are available on Parliament’s website.

The paper in question is here.

The full paper is not too bad, but the summary of key points is definitely unbalanced I would agree. In the summary assertions from unions etc are reported almost as fact, rather than as an opinion. The full article provides footnotes, but someone going just off the summary would get a rather polarised view. It would be improved if the opinion was clearly marked as opinion, and by whom.

Even in the full article, there are valid criticisms in my opinion. The paper should certainly outline the concerns and criticisms by the unions. However there are also responses to those concerns that have not been included. And views of groups such as the NZ School Trustees Association (which effectively represents parents) are absent.

This does raise a wider issue around the Parliamentary Library, which I had been intending to blog about at some stage, and this story provides a context for it. I should preface my remarks by saying I am a huge fan of the services provided by the Library. As a former parliamentary staffer I was a heavy user of their services, and it is probably the thing I miss most about having left Parliament. They generally have provided a first class service, where you can have absolute faith in their professionalism and impartiality.

When I first started in the late 1990s, the Library had a strict policy that its staff could not be partisan in any way. Someone like me (for example) would never ever be considered suitable to be a staffer, because of my political background. Nothing to do with one’s professionalism – the Library has to be trusted 100% by all parties, MPs and staff, which means any partisan activities in one’s background made you unsuitable.

This policy was applied rigorously. In fact I recall one library staff member had to get permission just to date someone who worked in the ACT parliamentary office. That’s how rigorous they were.

At some stage (I am not sure when) this policy seems to have changed, and the Library no longer excludes partisan activists from its staff. Now I am not linking this at all as related to the particular research paper, or its author. It is a separate issue, but one I raise in the context that a decade ago the Library was seen to be like Caesar’s wife – above suspicion. Sadly, this is not the case today.

General Debate 30 June 2010

June 30th, 2010 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

Garner’s version

June 30th, 2010 at 6:30 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on the Edwards v Garner exchanges, and usefully gives us Garner’s version of events. Edwards had claimed:

The blog says that soon after, as Garner boarded the plane in which Mr Carter was already seated, he told the MP: “I am going to f****** get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to f****** destroy you” – a comment allegedly overheard by Dame Margaret Bazley.

That is somewhat different from:

The Herald understands Garner’s version of events is that Mr Carter provoked the exchange by calling Garner a “c***” in the Koru Club and when he boarded the plane and asked Mr Carter “what was that about?”, Mr Carter told him to “f*** off”.

Garner is understood to have replied: “If you want a f****** war, you’ll get one.”

Now there were witnesses:

Garner invited Labour chief whip Darren Hughes, who was travelling with Mr Carter, to give his version of events. But Mr Hughes said yesterday he would not comment.

Dame Margaret did not return a Herald phone call yesterday.

Personally I am looking forward to the battle for Te Atatu next year.

Safety Orders

June 30th, 2010 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police will be able to issue safety orders from tomorrow that remove an aggressor from a premises, separating victims of domestic violence from their abuser for five days.

The orders can be made when police do not have enough evidence to make an immediate arrest and allow time for intervention by social agencies. They are part of a number of measures being introduced tomorrow to help victims of crime, including more financial help for families of murder victims and a national phoneline to handle phone requests from police for Victim Support help.

“Often police attend a job and although we suspect an offence may have been committed, or we believe one may well be committed, we are unable to charge a person and take them into custody,” said Inspector Brigitte Nimmo, acting National Family Violence Co-ordinator.

The orders would allow at-risk people some “breathing room” and time to meet police and other agencies.

Ms Nimmo said that in some situations they could save a person’s life. “It certainly plugs what has been a frustrating gap for police providing an effective way of intervening in a situation to protect families from violence.”

Our current laws and framework are ineffective.  The number of people who die at the hands of their partners is disgraceful. There is only so much the state can do to reduce this, but I think the new safety orders will be a much needed tool.

As with all tools, there is the potential for abuse, but the limited time period they can stay in force for, mitigates that.

Editorials 29 June 2010

June 29th, 2010 at 1:54 pm by David Farrar

The Press examines the smoking ban in prisons:

From the middle of next year New Zealand’s prisons are set to emulate Australia’s and become smokefree.

It is a long overdue move. It was an anomaly that prisoners could still smoke in their cells as the rest of New Zealand moved increasingly towards a no-smoking regime.

School grounds, hospitals, and other government departments have gone smokefree, as have bars, restaurants and businesses, and, in Christchurch, there is even a smokefree policy in parks.

For many prisoners – two-thirds of inmates – an enforced cold turkey regime will seem a hardship or even a civil rights breach. But those who have committed crimes against society should not expect the right to smoke, just as they cannot legally have alcohol and drugs.

What amuses me is the policy dilemma for Labour. They instinctively are in favour of anything that is anti-smoking but against anything that they see as punitive to prisoners.

So how does Labour solve this dilemma? They run a blog poll to decide their policy 🙂

The Dom Post looks at the trans-Tasman relationship:

When Julia Gillard became prime minister of Australia, Prime Minister John Key was the first foreign leader to phone in his congratulations.

He needs to hope his fast dialling finger will deliver a better result than his predecessor, Helen Clark, achieved with her swift flight over for a cup of tea with Kevin Rudd when he got the job – in his time as prime minister Mr Rudd never quite made it to New Zealand for an official visit.

Mr Key, like Miss Clark before him, is smart enough to realise the onus is on Wellington to keep reminding Canberra what the “NZ” stands for in Anzac. The reality, however unpalatable it might be to some, is that New Zealand is simply not as important to Australia as Australia is to New Zealand.

Australia is New Zealand’s most important trading partner and its most important security relationship. …

Talk about whether New Zealand and Australia should take their relationship to the next level and look at issues such as a common border can wait until the Australian election is over.

Mr Key’s job is to ensure New Zealand’s interests are not damaged in the meantime.

Miss Clark and John Howard reportedly enjoyed a warm relationship despite their different political ideologies. The hope must be that the state-house son of a refugee and the daughter of a 10 immigrant from Wales can do the same.

The irony is that PM from opposite parties seem to have got on better than PMs from the same side of the spectrum.

The ODT looks at OSH:

It is one of our cultural stereotypes: the rugged, versatile, no-nonsense farmer – the sort of person for whom most regulations are made by townies for townies who have no real understanding of the demands and constraints of a working life in the country; and, further, how the red tape that such people unhesitatingly impose on the rural sector can seriously impact on proven working methods and productivity.

In no other sphere is this more pronounced, or more irritating to some, than on-farm safety: the rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health and ACC are frequently seen as at best a brake on freedom and individual responsibility and, at worst, the interfering actions of bureaucrats and the “politically correct”.

Sadly, the reality is that such organisations have reason to be concerned.

According to the latest figures released by ACC, farmers are killing themselves in work-related accidents at the rate of one every 28 days.

Last year, 13 farmers died in accidents on New Zealand farms.

There were 18,600 injuries on farms, with quad bikes, farm machinery and poor animal handling featuring as the most common causes.

Raw figures by themselves mean little. What would be more useful is the injury rate per employee.


June 29th, 2010 at 1:32 pm by David Farrar

I almost choked on my food when I read an op ed in the Dominion Post this morning. It was from Ross Meurant and on the need for higher ethical standards in Parliament and the NZ Police.

I can only assume that the next op ed will be by Mark Hotchin on the need for better financial markets regulation. And then after that a special op ed by Madonna on why you should abstain from pre-marital sex.

Gibbs sacked

June 29th, 2010 at 1:14 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Shares of Guinness Peat Group sank today after the investment company sacked long-serving New Zealand executive director Tony Gibbs after a board rift over strategy culminated in his unauthorized public statement criticizing a demerger plan.

In early trading the shares were down down 7.4 percent to 63c, after chairman Ron Brierley announced Gibbs had been dumped for a “serious breach of boardroom protocol.”

The decision was made “with much sadness but was unavoidable,” Brierley said in a statement which signaled the end of a personal association with Gibbs that goes back more than 20 years.

Gibbs said he was “fired for telling the truth” in his statement objecting to the investment company’s plan to spin off its Australian assets. GPG announced the proposal on June 16, giving its long-suffering shareholders some idea how it planned to return value to investors, an idea it first mooted before the global financial crisis. His stance may have provoked some action, though, as Brierley also announced that three independent directors would be appointed with a key role in reviewing strategy.

I am surprised that an experienced company director such as Tony Gibbs would fail teh most basic tenet of governance.

A Director can never criticise in public decisions made by the Board. Even if you voted against them, you are expected to represent the Board’s collective view in public.

If you are unable to do that, then the proper response is to resign from the board.

What you can not do, is attack the Board’s decision and think you can remain a director. A company board is not like an incorporated society when directors can disagree in public.

The wait is almost over

June 29th, 2010 at 12:49 pm by David Farrar

The end is in sight

June 29th, 2010 at 9:45 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Radio New Zealand news boss Lynne Snowdon has lost the latest appeal in her nearly six-year legal tussle with the state broadcaster, and the Court of Appeal is insisting “the procedural music must stop”.

About time.

Ms Snowdon was sacked in April 2005 after almost two years on sick leave – and full pay of about $120,000 a year. She had fallen out with Sharon Crosbie, the then chief executive, over allegations of financial mismanagement.

After Ms Snowdon was fired, she lodged a personal grievance case in the Employment Court against RNZ for unjustified dismissal.

She began separate proceedings in March last year to have three previous Employment Court judgments set aside. They concerned discovery – the court rules relating to access to documents held by an opposing party.

Ms Snowdon claimed fraudulent discovery, arguing that RNZ had provided altered or false documents in its case against her, and that some documents had been deleted or destroyed. RNZ denied the allegations. …

In its ruling released yesterday, the Court of Appeal dismissed Ms Snowdon’s appeal and ordered her to pay costs.

Justice William Young said the allegations of fraudulent discovery were “a subset of the broader complaints” against the broadcaster.

The grievance case had been before the courts “for many years” and Ms Snowdon’s appeal would have further delayed the proceedings.

“We are of the view that the time has come for the procedural music to stop,” Justice Young said.

Two years of full pay, and six years of legal expenses. Incredible.


June 29th, 2010 at 9:37 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland City Mayor John Banks has admitted claiming $438.80 in entertainment costs after issuing a Super City mayoral campaign bulletin saying he had “never charged a sandwich, lunch or coffee to the ratepayers of Auckland”.

And he broke council rules when office staff sought reimbursement for the entertainment against a bill for private use of his cellphone instead of making an expenses claim.

Last night, Mr Banks said it was a genuine mistake to say he had never charged anything to ratepayers outside work in the Town Hall, and he would run a correction in his next online campaign bulletin.

“I completely forgot about any of that [entertaining]. I’m not making any excuses. I’m putting my hand up.

“On this one occasion, that amount of money, $438, was offset against the money I owed the council for private use of my cellphone.

“I had never seen the prescribed form that you have to claim on if you want any money back, until Friday. I have never made an application, and I have never made a claim.”

Under an agreement with the council, Mr Banks reimburses the city 15 per cent of his mobile phone costs to cover his private calls.

The $438.80 claim covers four occasions – entertaining the United States Ambassador at Euro Restaurant on the waterfront for $215.50, catching up with arts patron James Wallace at Frasers cafe in Mt Eden ($23.80), discussing the Peter Blake memorial with businessman John Street at the Stamford Plaza Hotel ($44) and having lunch with Britomart developer Peter Cooper at the Northern Club ($155.50).

The lesson for Banks is one should ask staff to check the facts before making a denial off memory.

While embarrassing to have to correct yourself, it is refreshing to see that the names of the people entertained  have been supplied. This allows ratepayers to conclude for themselves if the expenditure was appropriate and reasonable.

General Debate 29 June 2010

June 29th, 2010 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

Edwards v Garner

June 28th, 2010 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

One of the amusing blog fights of recent times has been between Brian Edwards and Duncan Garner regarding an alleged incident between Garner and Chris Carter. Some extracts – first Brian:

But first a little history. It is no secret around Parliament  that, roughly 11 months ago,  Garner and Carter had a verbal stoush in the Auckland Koru Club.  Following the release of the report detailing the 2008 travel expenses of Labour Ministers, Garner had run a TV3 story alleging that Carter was a big-spending Minister whose travel could not be justified in what was essentially a domestic portfolio – Education. The story also referred to Carter’s long-time partner and travelling companion, Peter Kaiser, and included the name of the primary school of which Kaiser is principal.

Not surprisingly, there was bad blood between the two men. Carter and Darren Hughes were in the Koru Club waiting for their flight to Wellington to be called when Garner approached them. He is reported as having said, ‘Travelling on the fucking taxpayer again, Chris.’ Carter told him to ‘fuck off!’

Carter had already taken his seat on the plane when Garner, who had boarded later, stopped next to him, jabbed his finger into Carter’s chest and said loudly, ‘I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’ Sitting directly behind Carter was Dame Margaret Bazley. Appalled by what she had heard, she commented loudly, ‘What a disgraceful man. You don’t have to put up with rubbish like that on a plane, Mr Carter.’ Garner moved on down the plane. …

‘If I am wrong, I invite Duncan Garner to respond to this blog and,  providing nothing in it is defamatory, I undertake to publish that response unedited.

‘If I’m right, TV3 should be considering whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job.’

Duncan responded on the blog:

I have never denied there was an incident between myself and Chris, indeed I told everyone about it at the time because I was shocked that Chris would call me by a four letter word – that your version of this story doesn’t reflect.

So Carter called Garner a c**t first? Might be some other four letter word.

Unfortunately your version of it is very, very wrong and you do yourself no favours.

You have relied on the word of Chris Carter and even Phil Goff can’t rely on that.

Yes Darren Hughes was there and he will confirm what happened if people wish to approach him.

Darren may even wish to write on this site?

But why rely on my word? Surely the Chief Whip, Mr Hughes will launch a defence of the incident for Mr Carter. Or will he?

I bet he doesn’t. Because Carter behaved disgracefully in the Koru Club that evening and provoked the incident.

So far Darren has (wisely) not said anything.

I will consider posting the full version on the 3News website tomorrow. I certainly won’t do it here to satisfy former broadcaster and Labour Party raffle ticket seller Brian Edwards.

Oh I hope he does.

Brian then responded:

Duncan, the post you complain of, was headed ‘Incident on an Air New Zealand Flight’. What the post was about is your allegedly having said to Carter, ‘‘I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.’ If I were in your shoes, I would consider this the more damaging allegation made about you. Yet not only is there no denial of this event in your reply to me, it is not even mentioned. I would consider that admission by omission. If in fact Carter ‘behaved disgracefully’ to you in the Koru Club before the flight, then you may well feel that what you are alleged to have said to him on the plane was understandable. But it is no less unacceptable from the political editor of a major television network.

To which Duncan responds:

I ’swear’ I did not say to Chris; “I am going to fucking get you, if it takes me to Christmas I am going to destroy you.”

And I certainly did not touch Carter – that’s not my style. If I touched Carter why doesn’t he lay an assault charge? Because it simply did not happen.

Brian you have taken the Carter version and you have taken it hook line and sinker. It is wrong. Simple.

As I have always said there was an exchange. I was first to talk about it. Carter never said anything about it for months.

It’s Carter who is now running to you almost a year later still trying to make excuses for his behaviour.

As I have said Darren Hughes was there – he saw it – he may wish to put his version on the website. But I totally refute and reject your version.

Then Richard Harman joins the fray:

I have the privelege of producing Duncan on “the Nation”. I have questioned him about your allegations. I am satisfied they are substantially wrong. I thought his reportage of Chris Carter’s indulgent travel was excellent. I can testify that both Duncan and “The Nation” continue to have excellent relations with the Labour caucus. I think Duncan did journalism proud with his journalistic pursuit of Mr Carter.

However I would not expect Duncan to get any credit on this blog which seems to have a vendetta against him — and any programme he is associated with.

Brian responds to Duncan:

We now have a ‘conflict of evidence’. You claim you did not use these words to Carter; I have approached Carter and asked him whether he stands by his version of events on the plane. He says that he does. I wasn’t there, but I do know for certain that what you said to Carter on the plane was overheard and that it was extremely unpleasant.

Brian also responds to Harman:

Absolute rubbish. Your defence of a colleague is admirable, but I suggest you read all the posts on Garner. If, having done so, you decide that he was not engaging in a personal campaign againt Carter, your judgement is less than I would have expected from you. In my review of your first edition of The Nation, where I thought Garner did a particularly poor interview with Steven Joyce, you will also find this sentence: ‘I have grown to respect Duncan Garner’s down-to-earth, no-nonsense analysis of politics. His interviewing improved significantly in later programmes. Judy thought he was very good. I don’t think this amounts to a vendetta.

Gordon McBride joins in:

Brian ….. I work with Duncan. I can tell you he isn’t a homophobe (the sauna shot was to illustrate Carter’s use of his credit card to pay for a sauna in Berlin). He doesn’t play favourites in his coverage; nor does he use his position in the “Get Carter” way you perceive. He’s certainly a robust character though and I can believe he’d give as good as got in any exchange.

For my 2c, Duncan is not at all partisan. He went after National with the “secret tapes”in 2008 with as much glee as he went after Carter with his excessive travel.

Stepping over the line

June 28th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Manawatu Standard reports:

A wheelchair-bound Palmerston North man on a crusade to stop the abuse of disability car parks was involved in an altercation he claims ended in him being tipped out.

The fracas happened on Saturday evening when Nicolas Steenhout confronted a woman after she pulled into a disability park at Melody’s New World on Broadway Ave.

She did not have an orange mobility card, which permits the use of disability car parks.

The Manawatu Standard understands Mr Steenhout reached into the car and grabbed the steering wheel.

The woman warned him to let go, before reversing slowly out of the park but Mr Steenhout clung to the wheel before being thrown out of his wheelchair.

Mr Steenhout does a public service with his website where he publishes photos of cars parked in disabled parking spots. All power to him for that.

However he crossed the line by reaching into the car and grabbing the steering wheel. He has no right to do that, and if he got injured from the woman leaving, he has himself to blame.

UPDATE: Nicolas has said that he disputes the Standard story, and that in fact he is unable to reach in and grab the steering wheel

Editorial 28 June 2010

June 28th, 2010 at 2:46 pm by David Farrar

The Herald talks whaling:

The collapse of international whaling negotiations at Morocco is a chilling moment for the future of controlled whaling, let alone the prospect of a complete ban. The collapse is no less disturbing for the fact that it has always been as likely as not.

The International Whaling Commission proposal to the three nations that permit commercial whaling, Japan, Norway and Iceland, never satisfied either side. …

With all hope of a compromise now gone, the New Zealand Government will probably join Australia in its case against Japan at the International Court of Justice.

It is not a course that promises effective policing of the Southern Ocean even if the court can be persuaded the Antarctic is a whale sanctuary in international law. Even if a favourable ruling can be obtained, the case is likely to take years and leave the ocean open to unrestricted whaling in the interim.

Not even Greenpeace and other environmental lobbies at Agidir favoured court action over a negotiated compromise. Mr McCully went out of his way to praise their helpful approach to the negotiations, an approach that helps keep non-whaling governments and most of the public firmly behind the effort to end all whaling.

I suspect we will join the court case now.

The Dom Post looks at Allan Hubbard and the SFO:

The good people of Timaru seem stunned by news that highly regarded local businessman Allan Hubbard, and wife Jean, might have fallen foul of the law. Last Sunday, Commerce Minister Simon Power took the rare step of putting the couple themselves, Aorangi Securities and seven charitable trusts into what is known as statutory management. He said the objective was to “prevent fraud and reckless company management [and] to protect investors …”

The city’s newspaper, the Timaru Herald, said in an editorial last Monday that the Hubbards’ sin, in official eyes, seemed to be the unconventional way they did business. It went on: “If the allegations are unfounded, the officials involved will have humiliated one of the country’s most successful and generous businessmen for nothing. They will also have wasted a good deal of taxpayers’ money at a time when there is no shortage of directors of failed companies to chase.”

It is that latter point that so upsets Mr Hubbard’s supporters.

All those who broke the law should face consequences for that.

Little wonder that Mr Power, aside from rejigging the justice system, is upending securities law, too. He plans to have a new and independent Financial Markets Authority, consolidating the powers and functions of the Securities Commission, some of those of the Registrar of Companies and Government Actuary, and some of the NZX’s regulatory role, operating early next year.

He has also completely restructured the financial advisory industry, and now wants submissions on how to replace the Securities Act and Securities Markets Act, in a bid to strengthen the financial markets, and restore investor confidence. “The Government cannot and will not legislate for risk,” he said this week, “but we can build a regime that makes those risks more transparent.”

A unified regulator makes sense.

The Press farewells Kevin Rudd:

Even by Australia’s brutal political standards, the dumping of Kevin Rudd was spectacular. Sudden, decisive and risky, it cast out the man who had brought his party into power and governed until recently with substantial voter support.

That Rudd at the beginning of the week seemed secure in his job but by the end of the week had so little party support that he could not contest the challenge is testament to a ruthlessness in Labor. The party has shown not a shred of loyalty to the man who won it a landslide election after years in the wilderness, who had done little wrong in government, and who had shaky polls but no worse than John Howard at the same part of the election cycle.

Loyalty is two ways. If you run Government through a inner circle of just four people, you alienate your colleagues.

The ODT focuses on debt:

The economy, it is fair to say, is very gradually improving after the short-lived recession, although the position so far as internal and external debt is concerned remains grave.

New Zealand, fortunately, is nowhere near in as bad a way as Britain, whose economy is practically in ruins, and where after last week’s budget, every household will be worse off as the new government tries to rebuild.

A vast range of cuts has been imposed to try to reduce government spending and pay off the colossal debt load.

New Zealand has dealt with similar problems in budgets of the past two years, but beyond the immediate future the economy faces what may turn out to be a difficulty of very serious proportions: a lack of capital. …

The kind of public service job creation the Clark government indulged in has also proved to be a serious drag on the economy: since 2004 more than half of all new jobs were in public administration, health, and education.

Over the same period 40,000 jobs disappeared from agriculture, horticulture, forestry, manufacturing, and transport – what some have described as the “earning side ” of the economy, the tradeable sector.

The tradeable sector went into recession in 2005 and only came out of it in 2009.

Treasury forecasts show steady economic growth of about 3% a year and that is an extremely modest number.

Clearly, though, there will be no new “value-added” jobs unless and until the confidence of businesses to invest and to employ is restored and investors are willing to risk their money.

Our collective failure to do that will inevitably mean all taxpayers will face what the British and other European disaster economies are now confronting.

We need investment and business confidence.

Open Government 2010

June 28th, 2010 at 12:19 pm by David Farrar

Have just taken part in a panel discussion at the Open Government 2010 (un)conference. The panel had some Govt and academic people on it, myself and Trevor Mallard (standing in for Clare Curran). Steven Joyce opened the conference earlier in the day.

There is a lively twitter feed that you can follow here.

I put a number of ideas to the conference, which I thought I would blog here also for feedback

  1. A Minister of Information (or Open Government) whose job is to lead a culture change in Government focused on getting as much information out to the public as possible, now that we have the tools to scrutinise and analyse it.
  2. Each agency to have what I call an internal ombudsman. Their role isn’t to adjudicate on external requests for information, but to act as champions for getting information out to the public, and making sure this is in the DNA of all IT projects etc.
  3. Set up an site which has the responses to every OIA request made to a govt agency put up there 48 hours after it gets sent to the primary receipient
  4. All cabinet and cabinet committee level papers to be published on DPMC website (subject to normal OIA rules) automatically within six months of receipt.
  5. Set up a central map site where data (maybe using Google Maps) can be viewed, such as census data, deprivation data, housing data etc.
  6. Require all future govt agency databases to have a public access component to them.

What I am referring to with No 6 is databases such as the Justice offending database or the WINZ benefits database. You’d remove personal identification data, but give the public the ability to query the databases directly.

At present trying to get data on reoffending rates means you need to request it under the OIA, waits ages for it, and then if you want more data, do it again and it takes months and months. Think if you could query the database directly and ask it what proportion of first time offenders who are convicted of burglary reoffend? Or if you could ask the WINZ database how many people have been on a benefit for more than 2 years?

I’d even like to have Treasury give people access to their budget modelling software so people can model for themselves what a 0.5% increase in economic growth will do to the fiscals, or an increase in the age of superannuation etc.

Talking of the idea for a government OIA site, a group of clever people have put together their own site which can be used to send off an OIA request to an agency, and publish the response when received. It’s in beta mode so don’t use it yet, but a nice example of the sort of thinking we need.

Pole dancing now a sport

June 28th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dominion Post reports:

As it shifts from seedy strip clubs into the mainstream, pole dancing is fast becoming recognised as a legitimate sport.

The first Central Pole Dancing Championships are on today in Wellington. …

There were even moves to make pole dancing an Olympic sport. Ms Dodson said Olympic recognition would a great boost for the sport. “It does have that X-factor.”

I am confident that pole dancing will join beach volleyball as an Olympic sport in the near future.

Is Greenpeace a charity?

June 28th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Greenpeace New Zealand is fighting to gain charitable status after it was turned down by the Charities Commission for advocating peace and indirectly encouraging illegal activity.

I can’t say I am surprised by the decision. Greenpeace is a multinational lobby group, not a charity.

Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid said the environmental group had appealed against the commission’s decision to the High Court, where it would be heard in August or September.

“We think it’s worthwhile challenging this decision,” she said. “I think it’s an interesting debate that societies should have … around what is a charity and whether the law from 100 years ago is still relevant today.”

The rejection means Greenpeace could lose income tax exemption, which is granted only to registered charities, although people will still be able to make tax-free donations to the organisation.

McDiarmid said Greenpeace still had income tax exemption pending a court decision, but losing the status was not why it was challenging the commission’s ruling. “That doesn’t make much difference because we’re not a business.”

The commission’s decision in April found Greenpeace’s promotion of “disarmament and peace” was pushed in a political, rather than educational, way.

Highly political I would say.

Charities Commission chief executive Trevor Garrett said organisations that dabbled in political advocacy, but were primarily community-focused, such as Plunket, were safe, but those with an overt political role were not charities.

A sensible distinction.

General Debate 28 June 2010

June 28th, 2010 at 8:00 am by David Farrar