Archive for January, 2011

Politics of hate

January 31st, 2011 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

These posters have gone up in parts of the North Shore. How charming. One can only guess at the politics of the “people not profit collective”

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

Citing Facebook as support

January 31st, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An article in the Herald proclaims “Labour move to save public holidays gains wide support”

Now as it so happens, I support Grant Robertson’s bill, and think it probably does have wide support. But what I want to focus on is this segment of the story:

A Facebook page – dubbed Mondayise NZ – has called on the Government to make the move.

One post reads: “Crazy. Currently if our NZ national day Waitangi Day falls on a weekend, we don’t get the day off! What’s that about?”

Another said: “Let’s tell the New Zealand Government through a Facebook community [that] we want our public holidays Mondayised!”

If one is going to cite a Facebook group as evidence of wide support, one should cite how many members belong to or “like” the page. In this case, it is 47 people.

iPredict on state of the nation speeches

January 31st, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The weekly iPredict update is out. they find:

This week’s snapshot from New Zealand’s prediction market, iPredict, suggests the National and Green parties both gained from their leaders’ “state of the nation” speeches last week, while the Labour Party went backwards.  National’s forecast share of the party vote has risen to 45.9% (from 45.6% last week), the Greens are up to 8.0% (from 7.5% last week) while Labour is down to 30.5% (from 32.0% last week).  John Key would be able to continue as Prime Minister with the support of one of the Act, UnitedFuture or the Maori Party.

Interesting that no one has been willing to put money on National getting a lower vote share despite the assets part-sale announcement.

At the time the snapshot was taken, the probability of a new left-wing party around at least two of former Alliance President and current Unite National Secretary Matt McCarten, former Green MP Sue Bradford and current Maori Party Mr Harawira was 37%, up from 28% last week. 

And I suspect wull rise further after Waitangi Day.

A cap on taxis in Wellington?

January 31st, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Dave Burgess in the Dom Post reports:

There are too many taxis in Wellington and it is time to put a limit on them, the mayor says.

The taxi industry agrees and has called on the Government to introduce legislation to cap or reduce numbers in the city.

It is no surprise the taxi industry wants a cap – because that would protect incumbents and lead to higher earnings for current drivers.

It does not mean it will be a better service for those who want to hire taxis.

There are 1237 taxis licensed for Wellington City. About 400 were on the road before deregulation. This tripling of taxis in the past 20 years has led to overcrowded taxi stands and dubious parking practices as drivers clamour for business, especially in the late-night Courtenay Place party zone.

I regard it as a good thing that when you want to go home from Courtenay Place at 2 am, you can easily find a taxi.

I’d support tougher tests for becoming a taxi driver – both in English skills and location knowledge. But I don’t support an arbitrary cap on cab numbers.

You know what would be useful though – a website showing each taxi firm, and what their fares are.

Campbell on Artists v Journalists & Bloggers

January 31st, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Gordon Campbell writes at Scoop on the Government’s response to the jailing of Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi. He quotes the letter from Chris Finlayson which says:

We also raise the human rights situation in Iran in statements at the United Nations, including cosponsoring the UNGA 3rd Committee Resolution on Iran’s Human Rights. We will continue to express our concern at restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Iran, including the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers, and filmmakers such as Mr Panahi.

Now Gordon may be quite right to criticise the Government for relying on statements at the UN to improve human rights in Iran. But here’s what Gordon says in his critique of the Govt’s response:

Finlayson apparently believes Panahi’s case is not exceptional, nor his treatment particularly egregious. In fact, we appear to have an Arts Minister unable to tell the difference between an artist of Panahi’s stature, and journalists and bloggers.

Oh goodness – what an insight into the Wellington cultural mindset. Governments shouldn’t do anything beyond the normal statements at the UN to protest against jailing of journalists and bloggers, but when the detainee is an “artist of stature”, then they must move mountains.

Is this attitude linked to the leave Roman Polanski alone movement, because he is also an “artist”.

Personally as a blogger, I’m rather glad Chris doesn’t see bloggers and journalists as less deserving of freedom from detention, than artists of stature.

Guest Post: Intervention needs to come before the first strike

January 31st, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post from Rex Widerstrom, carrying on the three strikes debate:

Thanks to David Garrett’s “three strikes” law, New Zealand now has a razor-wire enclosure waiting at the bottom of the cliff for anyone who commits three serious offences. The concept is sold as being based on deterrence; not only will the offender on their first or second strike stop and think before offending again but other would-be criminals will not escalate from the minor to the major leagues.

The problem is, deterrence isn’t effective. If it was, then the ultimate deterrent – the death penalty – would see those US states which practice it free of those crimes for which make an offender eligible to be executed. Or at the very least, ensure that the prevalence of those offences was less than in jurisdictions where a lethal injection didn’t await the offender. But statistics tell us it doesn’t.

Anyone who’s spent any time working with offenders – particularly those who commit “nuisance” offences such as vandalism and stealing and those prone to violence – knows that they generally lack a certain capacity to reason. For anyone to claim that such a person stands, spray can or baseball bat in hand, and considers the potential consequences of their offending is either naive, deceived, or lying.

Such a person isn’t considering the effect of their offending on their mother, father, siblings, girl or boyfriend, wife, husband, sometimes children. If they don’t care about the people who should be most precious in their lives only the most deluded theorist would posit that they will care about society’s response, even if that is in the form of a very long prison sentence.

The Three Strikes law will be “successful” in its aim of locking away for lengthy periods those guilty of the worst sort of crimes (it’ll also trap a few who really shouldn’t face such a penalty, though NZ’s law is far better at avoid this than, say, California’s). But implicit in its functioning is the acceptance that at least three – and, in reality, many more – victims will first have to suffer.

We didn’t – we don’t – need that razor wire enclosure beneath a cliff littered with vandalised and stolen property and broken and traumatised victims. We need a cattle race at the top, directing someone who’s shown the propensity to embark on a cycle of offending into a life that offers them an alternative.

While I’m uneasy at the thought of privately run “boot camps” – with their inherent potential for various forms of abuse if the operator is unsuitable – I have no such reservations about the NZ Army’s Limited Service Volunteers program.

The latest group of graduates have described how the program turned their lives around, with one saying:

I was smoking a lot of P, drinking every day and doing heaps of burglaries and hanging out with the wrong people. Getting money to pay for drugs was my life.

“Before I didn’t care about anything, I didn’t listen to anyone, but I was a follower, not a leader…

“[The course] changed my life heaps. I’m a lot more self-motivated, I’ve dumped my old friends and I don’t even put my hands in my pockets any more because I’m not used to it.”

Sound familiar? It does to anyone working in the youth justice field. The young man quoted is described in the article as having been “put on the LSV course by Work and Income as an alternative to a jail sentence”. Presumably – unless the judiciary have abdicated their responsibility – a court was involved at some point.

The LSV program takes young people aged 17 to 25. What’s desperately needed is something for even younger offenders; the current legislatively enshrined inability of the courts to deal “harshly” with child offenders in turn ensures a ready cohort of 17 year old candidates who would benefit from LSV. We have Sea Scouts and Cadet Corps and the ATC – expand them to provide a “junior LSV”, perhaps non-residential, for offenders under 17. And while we’re at it, create an army program for those over 25 as well.

Of course the army approach isn’t the optimum for every offender. We also need to get creative and give our courts more sentencing options like this one, not less as “three strikes” does. I know of one Magistrate in WA who’s not averse to sentencing offenders to Buddhist meditation; and for the few he picks, it actually works.

There are those who work with me in civil rights and criminal justice who’ll be horrified by my advocacy of a spell in the army for many offenders. But I’m tired of debating theoretical perspectives and other people’s prejudices: I’m interested in what works to decrease the number of victims and stops the greatest number of young offenders going on to become what used to be called “old lags”, and LSV does – of the 114 people from the Lower North Island who took part in October, only 29 didn’t successfully complete it (mainly due to injury) and those that did are now all on courses or employed.

While some people already inured to a life of crime will undoubtedly go on causing harm till they reach their third strike, wouldn’t it be great if this election a political party came out with a justice policy that aimed to prevent the creation of new offenders and new victims, rather than futilely boasting how harshly they’ll punish the people on whom they’ve given up?

For my 2c, I support both rehabilitation and early intervention as Rex advocates plus three strikes. We should do whatever we can (within reason) to turn people away from crime. But only some criminals are suspectible to “going straight”, and for those who will not give up on a life of violence, I want the three strikes law in place to stop their victim count from getting even larger.

Bradford says she will lead

January 31st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Talk of a new Left-wing party is gathering steam, with veteran activist Sue Bradford confirming behind-the-scenes discussions and revealing she would consider leading it if asked.

Expectations are growing in Left-wing circles that renegade Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira could be the lightning rod for a new movement if the rift between him and the Maori Party hierarchy ends in divorce.

This poses a challenge for both National and Labour. An extra ally for Labour isn’t good for National.

But on the other hand can you imagine Phil Goff trying to lead a Government where he could only pass laws if he can get Metiria Turie, Sue Bradford, Hone Harawira and Winston Peters to all agree.

No SOE shareholder will be able to own 20%

January 31st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Gaynor writes:

The Government has to convince the public that these companies will remain majority Crown and New Zealand controlled. This should be easy to achieve because under the Takeovers Code, which wasn’t introduced until 2001, a shareholder must go from 19.99 per cent to 50.01 per cent in one step and this will be impossible to achieve if the Government has at least 50 per cent ownership.

So if I understand this correctly, even if NZers sell shares they buy to an overseas company (presumably for a higher price which means those Kiwi Mums and Dads have made a profit), no company could gain a 20% or greater stake.

Combine this with the liklihood that the NZ Super Fund will also buy significant stakes in the SOEs, and it will be harder for xenophobic opposition to be whipped up.

This won’t stop Labour trying though. Look at this blog post by Labour MP Damien O’Connor which demands the Government stop Asians from buying a private listed company – Wrightsons:

A recent announcement that Agria, an Asian company is applying to raise it’s stake in PGWrightsons from 19% to 51% is one more such move.

So Labour is now against Asians even being able to buy shares in a listed private company. At this rate, they will be able to merge with Winston First.

People must realize that the land is important but only part of our rural economy. The businesses that operate on and associated with it need also to be owned by us unless we are prepared to be servants to our future, not the owners of it.

The translation is that it is not enough that we keep our land out of Asian hands, but also our businesses.

I like how Damien talks about Wrightsons as if it is owned by the state. It is not. It is owned by private shareholders. And no one is forced to do business with it. If people don’t like its shareholders, they don’t have to deal with it.


January 31st, 2011 at 8:04 am by David Farrar

The Southland Times reports:

A Southland woman has been swindled out of $32,000 after falling prey to an India-based scam.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she had been left embarrassed, furious and felt betrayed after finally realising what she believed was a tax refund was nothing more than trickery.

It began early this month with a phone call telling her she had overpaid tax, but to get it she needed to transfer money to an account through the Western Credit Union.

The man who called sounded convincing and said he was from the Justice Department, she said. “I had no reason to be suspicious.”

One should be suspicious on four fronts –

  1. You would never to have to make a payment to get a tax refund
  2. IRD, not Justice do tax
  3. Any tax refund would be notified in writing
  4. Any involvement with Western Union means the funds are going offshore

The first payment was for $290, gradually increasing, with the pot at the end of the rainbow also increasing to a $71,000 refund.

Twenty payments were made to the scammers with all the money going overseas to India, the woman said.

I can sympathise with maybe a one off payment of $290 as being a normal level of gullibility. But for God’s sake what is wrong that you don’t twig on after 20 payments totalling $32,000.

Three different people had called her saying they were from the Reserve Bank and a “government department”.

That would get me more suspicious, not less.

It took the woman’s children to rouse suspicion which led to the end of the scam.

Her daughter overheard her on the phone to one of the scammers and asked what she was making the payments for.

They contacted the Reserve Bank which said it was a scam and to stop the payments.

It even got to the point that one of her daughters invoked power of attorney, cancelling her mother’s credit cards and withdrawing funds leaving just enough so she could buy groceries.

“Which was a horribly difficult thing to do. I’ve had sleepless nights over this whole thing,” the daughter said.

One can only feel sorry for the woman concerned, and thank goodness for her family who stopped it getting worse. But really, all one has to do is ask a family member of friend for advice in situations like these.

General Debate 31 January 2011

January 31st, 2011 at 8:00 am by David Farrar


January 31st, 2011 at 7:45 am by David Farrar

It’s been wonderful seeing the unrelenting protests for democracry in Egypt, following on from Tunisia. No country should have one party rule.

If the regime of the National Democratic Party is toppled, this may cause pangs of regret for Labour. The NZ Labour Party is a sister party of the NDP, through their membership of Socialist International.

Hat Tip: Guido Fawkes

Will NZUSA survive?

January 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

If I was running NZUSA, I’d be focused on what changes are needed for student associations (and NZUSA) need to make, to prosper under VSM – rather than still fighting a battle which has been lost.

NZUSA has just had their January conference, and a number of people have been kind enough to send me their documents. Act on Campus have already blogged on these, including the $77,000 lost NZUSA made in 2009.

New Zealand has eight universities and 20 polytechnics/technology institutes.

Currently 14 of those 28 institutions have a student association that is a member of NZUSA, of which only 12 are full members. Those 12 full members represent only 84,000 EFTS. But even that low level, may get smaller.

No fewer than nine student associations have gien notice of withdrawal – they are OPSA, AS@U, SAWIT, WITSA, WSA, OUSA, ASA, EXMSS and MUSA. They represent almost 50,000 ETS, which would leave NZUSA representing – well basically Victoria, Lincoln and Waikato only (plus a couple of minors).

I hope NZUSA do survive, but if they do not, then it would create an opportunity for alternate representation to emerge nationally.

It occurs to me that a professionally run organisation that focused purely on lobbying the Government on behalf of students on core education and welfare issues, and communicated directly with students about its advocacy on their behalf could well get say 30% of students willing to tick a box at enrolment to join it for $5. That should be enough to have a budget of $300,000 or so. Rather than have the lobbying done by a succession of Labour student politicians, you’d actually have a professional executive director who could work with all Governments, and over time could build up a very high regard.

A challenge for creationists?

January 30th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Sent in by a reader.

Another new look for Goff

January 30th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale has been leaked the proposed new look for Phil, to visualise his ambition and his locks.

HoS on Key

January 30th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday editorial:

Putting the merits of the sale plan aside for a moment, Key’s transparency is to be applauded. He said he would not sell off assets without the voters having their say, and they will get it, likely in November.

It is also heartening to see the Government doing something to put the brakes on its borrowing and to stimulate the moribund economy. Apart from the long overdue reining in of state sector costs, National has until now appeared to be indecisive and lacking ideas on how to help spark a recovery.

Of course, the moves are not a panacea, but they are a start. Upwards of $8 billion is expected to be raised in the sales and that money will go towards reducing our debt and into other infrastructure. They will prove a major boon for the sharemarket, with new listings just what the Capital Markets Development Taskforce says was needed to fire up the NZX.

As commentators have said repeatedly in the days since the announcement, the opportunity for mums and dads to invest in solid businesses that we know will continue to generate sizeable profits is likely to appeal to those burned by finance company collapses that have flushed away billions of dollars of savings.

With the Government guaranteeing to keep majority ownership, the biggest obstacle to sell-offs has been removed and there are more reasons to welcome the moves than to oppose them.

So the HoS supports the policy, what about the politics?

Key’s personal rating, however, should have been enhanced by the moves this week. He has been a populist leader so far in his first term and has been reluctant to rock the boat.

We have now seen strong, decisive leadership. That, more than the sales themselves, should be the most comforting aspect of the political week.

I agree.

Train Trips 1 Photo Ops 1

January 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday has discovered that Len Brown has taken the train to work only once since becoming Mayor – the day he invited the media to come along and see him on the train, where he promised he would “start taking the train to work on a regular basis as part of his commitment to public transport”.

It reminds me of something Maurice Williamson has often pointed out – that many of the noisiest advocates for public transport never use it themselves. They just think everyone should be forced to. I recall the Wellington Green MP who didn’t even have a Snapper card, which all regular bus users have.


January 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rather unfortunate that a story about how new teachers plan to inspire their kids, has a spelling mistake in the headline.

We all make typos (esp me), but this isn’t a typo but an actual lack of knowledge as to how role model should be spelt. I hasten to add that the mistake would not be Megan Reed’s (the author), but almost certainly a sub-editor. Ms Reed actually spells role model correctly in the body of the article.

I wonder if the headline is wrong in the print edition also?

Tamihere on SOE part-sales

January 30th, 2011 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

Former Labour MP John Tamihere writes:

I support the partial sale of these assets regardless.

Majority ownership will be held by the New Zealand Government. New Zealand money, which is flooding offshore to invest in foreign economies, will have blue chip assets to invest in at home, whether they are Kiwi Saver or New Zealand superannuation dollars or dollars that would normally have flowed  to the failed finance sector. All require a safe investment haven and this policy provides that.

Further, it lessens our need to borrow and this will also lessen the amount of interest we need to pay.

No surprise that John Tamihere supports part-sales – he can say what he thinks now he is out of Parliament. I’d say it is almost a certainity that Phil Goff deep down supports it also, considering he was such an enthusiastic supporter of full sales previously. Of course he could never say so publicly.

Kedgley attacks Key for calling Liz Hurley hot

January 30th, 2011 at 8:14 am by David Farrar

Oh dear. How dare a man, let alone the PM, say that Liz Hurley is “hot”. Next he’ll be hosting “bunga-bunga” parties like Silvio.

Sunday News reports:

Proving he’s a typical Kiwi bloke Key said that if he could be any sporting star he’d be an All Blacks captain but added he wouldn’t mind taking a swing at being Tiger Woods either.

“Obviously for the money I would be Tiger Woods. You get paid a truckload of money,” he said, adding “there are other benefits that clearly come with the job” too.

The conversation took a sexy turn after Veitch asked the jovial PM if he’d like to be love-rat Warnie. “Yeah, well given his current liaisons with Liz Hurley,” Key said.

“I like Liz Hurley actually. I reckon she is hot.”

And he is also an Brangelina fan:

He later said Sin City star “Jessica Alba looked pretty hot” despite her latest movie, Little Fockers, being “rubbish” and that Brad Pitt’s squeeze, Angelina Jolie “is not too bad” either. While Key’s comments might have been well received by Radio Sport’s predominantly male audience, they didn’t impress veteran MP and women’s rights campaigner Sue Kedgley.

The four-term Green MP, who will stand down at the upcoming election, said Key’s comments were boorish and unbecoming of a prime minister. …

“They do seem a little bit 1960s comments, rather than what you [would] expect in the 21st century.”

I suppose Key should have said that Angelina was aesthetically pleasing or something, to comply with Sue’s demands.

General Debate 30 January 2011

January 30th, 2011 at 8:05 am by David Farrar


January 29th, 2011 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff and NZPA report:

Filming of The Hobbit will be delayed after director Sir Peter Jackson was hospitalised with a perforated stomach ulcer.

 Jackson was admitted to Wellington Hospital last night with acute stomach pains.

A statement said he had undergone surgery for a perforated ulcer.

“Sir Peter is currently resting comfortably and his doctors expect him to make a full recovery.”

Sir Peter’s surgery is not expected to impact on his directing commitment to The Hobbit beyond a slight delay to the start of filming, the statement said.

The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien suffered from a perforated ulcer before dying in 1973.

That last line (bolded by me) is just tacky. What relevance is it to the story, except to suggest Sir Peter may die from the ulcer. Note Tolkien was around 82 when he died.

Marlene strikes again

January 29th, 2011 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar

Readers may recall Marlene Campbell. She is one of the ringleaders in the Principals Federation campaign against national standards, and got national publicity for calling Anne Tolley Minister Hitler.

Well she’s at it again, with Whale supplying this e-mail:

The Sewell she refers to is is Karen Sewell, who has been Secretary of Education since 2006.

What I can’t work out is whether Marlene includes herseld in the group description of logical thinking human beings. Her e-mail and previous utterances would suggest logical thinking is to her, what pork is to a Bar Mtizvah.

Marlene is of course a public servant, paid for by the taxpayer. She is in fact effectively employed by the Secretary of Education.

Field appeals – again

January 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Jailed former MP Taito Phillip Field is going to the Supreme Court in another bid to have his fraud convictions overturned.

Field filed papers in Wellington this week after the Court of Appeal last year dismissed his appeal against his conviction and sentence.

He was jailed in October 2009 after being convicted by a jury in the High Court at Auckland of 11 charges of bribery and corruption as a MP, and 15 charges of perverting the course of justice.

Field was jailed for six years, the first MP to be jailed for bribery, corruption and perverting the course of justice. He was an MP for 12 years, for Labour then as an independent.

Field obviously still believes Labour’s official line that he isn’t guilty of anything more than trying to help his constituents.

The Mondayisation bill

January 29th, 2011 at 9:41 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the Herald reports:

Labour will introduce a member’s bill to ensure holidays that fall on a weekend can be taken another day.

New Zealanders will miss out on two of 11 public holidays this year because Waitangi Day is a Sunday and Anzac Day falls on Easter Monday – already a statutory holiday.

Labour MP Grant Robertson said the holidays should be able to be taken on a Monday in such instances.

I actually support such a bill. Not to make a last minute change to 2011 which would be a silly panic. But to have certainity in the future that you always have 11 days of public holidays.

Incidentially Mondayisation would not solve the issue of ANZAC day and Easter Monday being the same day in 2011 but this is not scheduled to happen again until the 25th of April 2095. I hope Labour aren’t saying that this is an issue that needs a legislative fix.

But Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day falling on weekends does happen two out of seven years. ANZAC Day will next fall on a weekend in 2015 and Waitangi Day in 2016.

So Labour’s bill is worth supporting, but it is not urgent, and should take its chances in the ballot.

Easton on partial sales

January 29th, 2011 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Brian Easton, an economist known for left-of-centre views, is wary the scheme will block future policy options for the electricity sector but supports the benefits it can bring to the local investment scene.

“By increasing the opportunities for New Zealanders by offering shares in minority stakes in SOEs, you would partly moderate the stupidity that happened over the finance company sector,” he says. “That enrichment of the financial market, which incidentally, curiously, Rob Cameron and I agree on, is a very strong case.”

And Mark Weldon notes:

“What I really like about the policy is it’s not left wing, it’s not right wing … It’s based on the Air New Zealand model which has the great attribute of actually being shown to work.”

Air New Zealand, 75 per cent government-owned since its taxpayer rescue 10 years ago, has performed well and delivered better dividends than the power SOEs in recent years.

“If you talk to [CEO] Rob Fyfe or [chairman [John Palmer] they will tell you that the majority long-term ownership of the government has been a real positive,” says Mr Weldon, “because it means they can focus on long-term planning and not worry about being taken over, as they would if they were a fully free-float company.”

As I have pointed out on many occassions, allowing the private sector to invest or buy some shares in state owned companies is absolutely common practice aroundthe world amongst governments of the left and right.