Archive for May, 2011

The greatest music video ever made

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

This was linked to by someone in the comments, and I loved it. As it happens American Pie is my favourite all time song, but the video is amazing – 10 minutes almost of non stop filming over several city blocks with a cast of thousands. It was filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Dom Post on Legal Aid

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

The Dom Post editorial:

The threat of industrial action from lawyers opposed to the expansion of the Public Defence Service is a self-interested attempt to stay hitched to a taxpayer-funded gravy train.

Despite claims to the contrary, talk of legal aid lawyers working to rule in protest at the changes is primarily motivated by the same reason behind most industrial action – money. …

It is not hard to feel some sympathy for legal aid lawyers caught by the changes. The vast majority are scrupulously honest, yet the whole profession has been punished for the greed and misdeeds of a few.

But the profession had plenty of warning that the Government was concerned about the rising cost of legal aid and should have put its house in order. The failure to do so left Mr Power with little choice but to act. The threat of protests against the PDS should be seen for what it is – a last-ditch bid to get him to change his mind, motivated by a looming loss of taxpayer-funded income. He is right to stand his ground.

It is somewhat ironic that a National Government is partially nationalising part of the justice sector, but I thinks the changes are necessary. The status quo wasn’t defensible.

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Some state sector reform

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

I hear from my spies that restructuring has even hit Parliament, and that the Parliamentary Service General Manager has dis-established all the second level Group Manager roles which report to him. This affects some very long-serving staff, and it will be interesting to see what the new second level roles are, and who gets them.

Meanwhile the Government looks set for other state sector reforms:

The Government is proposing changes that will reduce the number of government agencies as it seeks better value for money, less duplication and improved co-ordination across the state sector, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Tony Ryall announced today.

The proposals include disestablishing five crown entities and three tribunals, merging two government agencies, establishing shared corporate services across the government’s three central agencies and consolidating the services of a number of others.

The details are:

  • Set up an arms-length health promotion agency to take over the relevant functions of the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), the Health Sponsorship Council (HSC) and the Ministry of Health.
  • Disestablish the Crown Health Financing Agency and transfer its district health board lending function to either the Ministry of Health or to the Debt Management Office
  • bring forward the date the Mental Health Commission is due to cease functioning (currently 31 August 2015).
  • Transfer the functions of the Charities Commission to the Department of Internal Affairs, while ensuring that registration decisions remain separate from Ministers.
  • Disestablish three tribunals – the Health Act Boards of Appeal; the Maritime Appeal Authority; and the Land Valuation Tribunals – and transfer their functions to the District Court
  • Consolidate audiovisual archiving. Encourage the New Zealand Film Archive, Radio New Zealand, and Television New Zealand to consolidate material into the Film Archive.
  • Work with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Press Council and the Office of Film and Literature Classification to look at opportunities for greater collaboration.
  • Merge the Education Review Office and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority into a single education quality assurance agency.
  • In addition, as part of their leadership role, the three central agencies, the State Services Commission, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Treasury are consulting with staff on a proposal to establish a shared services centre to integrate their back office functions.

That all looks worthwhile. Of course personally I would be rather more radical. I blogged in April how you could amalgamate agencies into 13 super-departments, which also would mean you could have a Cabinet of 12

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Goff knows you don’t do unilateral bottom lines in trade

May 31st, 2011 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff was Foreign and Trade Minister for many years, and most would say he was a very good trade minister. The China FTA is a huge credit to him (and Clark).

He also knows that one rule to trade negotiations is that the parties do not publicly lay out bottom lines, or rule things out. The reason for this is simple – doing so destorys negotiations. The moment one country says publicly “we will never ever agree to this”, it means all the other countries will do the same. And then you have nothing to negotiate.

So reading the Andrea Vance story:

New Zealand’s drug-buying agency should not be sacrificed for a trade deal with the United States, Labour leader Phil Goff says. …

But Mr Goff said yesterday: “We should not be trading Pharmac off for a free trade agreement with the US.” The agency was an “absolute bottom line and we should not be trading it away”.

You need to understand Goff is saying something in Opposition, he would never ever say in Government.,

For the record as a fiscal conservative, I think Pharmac is great and keeps the cost of drugs down for the NZ taxpayer. I find it hard to imagine that the US could offer us something so good that the Government would consider major changes to Pharmac. But again to have negotiations proceed in good faith, you can’t lay down unilateral bottom lines in public.

Personally I’m sceptical that the US will offer anything greatly worthwhile in terms of trade access. Their rhetoric is much stronger than their commitment to free trade.  However there are strategic advantages to the US in concluding an agreement, so maybe they will actually offer something decent.

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Will anyone insure it?

May 31st, 2011 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at the Dom Post reports:

Workers sporting bright orange safety vests have appeared on the hill beside the Miramar Cutting as work to erect the controversial Wellywood sign begins.

But those opposed to the sign are not giving up, with another drive-by protest planned at the airport tomorrow.

Workers were abseiling on the hillside yesterday, as survey work to mark out positions for the 3.5-metre-high letters began.

The work comes as Wellington International Airport, which is erecting the sign to promote Wellington’s film industry, remains determined to build it, despite calls for the plan to be ditched.

If they persist with the sign as Wellywood, they will be destroying the brand and corporate reputation of the Airport.

And I would be surprised if any insurer was willing to insure the sign. Look for example at the iPredict contract on the sign:

In the event construction of a Wellywood sign commences but at no time does the complete word ‘Wellywood’ appear, for any reason including complete destruction of one or more letters, then this contract will close at $0. Defacement including graffiti will not prevent this contract closing at $1. In the event of part destruction of one or more letters, iPredict will, at its sole discretion, close the contract based on whether it considers a person not previously aware of the sign could reasonably read the word ‘Wellywood’.

When the futures market has to specify rules around possible destruction and defacement, it gives you some idea of its likely fate.

And think of the poor Police, if the sign is destroyed. They’d have around 100,000 suspects to interview.

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“Vile” to make people work

May 31st, 2011 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

Proposed welfare reforms that aim to push people into work are “vile” and the punitive sanctions on beneficiaries will only put further strain on community organisations, advocates say.

Eight Cabinet ministers have been appointed to the ministerial group that will consider the Welfare Working Group’s 43 recommendations.

That advocate is of course Sue Bradford.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday that National would campaign on any changes the ministerial group decided on.

Excellent. People will have a clear choice.

Some of the recommendations are:

Providing beneficiaries with long-term reversible contraception.

Requiring single parents to look for 20 hours work a week once their youngest child is three and 30 hours a week when the youngest turns six.

Tying the benefit to a requirement that solo parents ensure their children go to school and get regular health checks.

Requiring 16 and 17-year-olds on a benefit to be in education, training, paid work or a combination of the three.

Providing teen parent facilities so teenage mothers can continue their education.

Requiring beneficiaries aged under 18 to live with a responsible adult or under adult supervision.

Cutting benefits for people with drug and alcohol problems who refuse to attend treatment and counselling services.

Beneficiaries who do not meet work test, drug and alcohol and other requirements would have their payments cut for two weeks by 25 per cent for the first breach, 50 per cent for the second and completely for the third. A fourth failure would result in a 13-week stand-down.

Yes very vile – will no longer pay people to remain a drug or alcohol addict for the rest of their lives.

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Can you guess what this is an ad for?

May 31st, 2011 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

Dirt Devil-The Exorcist from MrPrice2U on Vimeo.

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A vertical plank

May 31st, 2011 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

Photo from Stuff.

No doubt ACTish supporters will decry the PM for wasting time which could be used to slash spending, and Labour supporters will say it is all an evil Crosby Textor trick to win over the planking vote.

I think it is just kind of nice that John won’t let his office stop him from being a Dad, and doing stupid things with the kids.

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General Debate 31 May 2011

May 31st, 2011 at 9:08 am by David Farrar
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No partial settlements

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

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

A break-away northern iwi has asked the Government for a partial Treaty settlement that would give them the right to make more claims in future.

A new description for a bottomless hole.

The Government rejected the bid for a partial settlement, however.

”Full and final settlements are the cornerstone of the historical settlement process,” Finlayson said.

”Finality allows the Crown and iwi to draw a line under the grievances of the past and focus on developing a positive future together.”

I doubt few would disagree with the Minister that a settlement must be full and final.

I wonder if there is a page anywhere that shows all the settlements that have been agreed to as full and final, and all those which have been filed but not settled?

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By the numbers

May 30th, 2011 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

My blog post at Stuff on last night’s TV polls is up. It’s title is “Sixty-five seats is not bulletproof”. An extract:

However, it is worth stressing that a projected 65 seats is not bulletproof. The House is forecast to have 123 MPs, so you will need 62 to govern. On the plus side ACT and United Future look like they can deliver a further four seats. On the negative side, there is the possibility NZ First makes 5%.

It is also likely that National will see some loss of support during the election campaign proper. So while National is in a good position, no one should think the outcome of the election is settled. As former British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan once quipped “Events dear boy, events” can blow a Government off course. 

Comments can be made over at Stuff.

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Press Secretary Perigo

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

Stuff reports:

Newly appointed parliamentary leader of the ACT Party, John Boscawen, has found himself a new press secretary. Lindsay Perigo, a founding member and inaugural leader of the Libertarianz political party, was introduced late last week to the press gallery as Mr Boscawen’s new media man. Mr Perigo has been noted for his colourful language – he famously denounced TVNZ as “brain dead” when he quit the state broadcaster in 1993, and has variously referred to “infanto-Nazis”, “Bolshevik bulls..t” and “bludge-scum”. His latest media role was at TV channel Stratos.

I must say that I never thought Lindsay would end up as a press secretary for ACT. No doubt his decision is linked to the change of leadership – he has a very high regard for Don Brash.

His language is indeed colourful. I’m wondering whether iPredict should do a market on which press gallery member is first to be called a moron by Lindsay :-)

Lindsay blogs about his decision at SOLO:

Perigo! followers will also have noted the empathy between Don Brash and me, even though I’m a 1000% libertarian and he’s about a 65% one. In our present crisis, 65% will do me. Quite simply, I believe his becoming Act leader has brought a glimmer of hope to New Zealand’s economic and political landscape, which otherwise was unfailingly bleak. I believe that, in these parlous, debt-ridden, Political Correctness-infested circumstances, everyone—including members of Libertarianz—concerned about stopping the rot and initiating a meaningful restart toward freedom and prosperity, should get in behind—on a suck-it-and-see basis, letting Don know that if he doesn’t really try to deliver, or becomes captive to those notorious forces within Act alien to freedom and prosperity, then we’ll all be out of there before you can say “Epsom.” I say this as someone who has fought the conservatives and compulsionists within Act tooth and nail since its inception and delivered Libz, as leader, its highest party vote (by a factor of 600%) since its inception.

Lindsay is indeed 1000% libertarian. I’m glad he doesn’t now regard anything less than 100% as a mortal crime :-)

His comment on Epsom is interesting. It could be a barb at Rodney, or a barb at John Banks. I honestly am unsure.

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The match is on

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

Whale blogs that they have agreed terms.

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Prince Philip

May 30th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Prince Philip is 90 next month. To commemorate, the Independent has his 90 best soundbites. Some wonderful extracts:

3. “Deaf? If you’re near there, no wonder you are deaf.” Said to a group of deaf children standing near a Caribbean steel drum band in 2000.

5. “You managed not to get eaten then?” To a British student who had trekked in Papua New Guinea, during an official visit in 1998.

7. “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?” Asked of a Scottish driving instructor in 1995.

17. “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.” After glancing at business chief Atul Patel’s name badge during a 2009 Buckingham Palace reception for 400 influential British Indians to meet the Royal couple.

20. “Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?” To a wheelchair-bound Susan Edwards, and her guide dog Natalie in 2002.

22. “I would like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.” In 1967, asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union.

46. “You have mosquitoes. I have the Press.” To the matron of a hospital in the Caribbean in 1966.

54. “Can you tell the difference between them?” On being told by President Obama that he’d had breakfast with the leaders of the UK, China and Russia.

75. “They’re not mating are they?” Spotting two robots bumping in to one another at the Science Museum in 2000.

He is a national treasure.

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General Debate 30 May 2011

May 30th, 2011 at 8:00 am by David Farrar
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She has a point

May 30th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Maia at Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty blogs:

The Labour Party’s Let’s Not game has been out for a few days.* I’m not linking to it, for reasons that will become apparent, but I do want to discuss one of the offensive parts of it.**

If someone puts their finger in someone else’s anus without their consent then that is sexual assault. This is still true if the two people involved are on a rugby field.

Ten years ago John Hopoate puts his finger in three other players anuses during a rugby league match. Apparently the people who were making this flash game thought “You know what we should do? We should animate this in an amusing way. That’ll help us win the election and be awesome.” Apparently people being violated without their consent is kind of funny if it’s men on the rugby field.

One of the basic rape-myths that help uphold a culture where sexual assault is endemic is that sometimes consent doesn’t matter. If you ever say that some people’s violation doesn’t matter – if you ever set some people up as unrapeable – then you, or in this case the Labour Party, are upholding that rape myth.

Now personally I’m someone who believes that humour will always offend someone, and I am sure Maia finds much of my humour offensive also.

But while it is rare that I might agree with Maia, on this occassion I have to agree it is inappropriate for a political party to make and promote an online game which jokes about sexual violation.

Maybe this is why Clare Curran was posting on Trade Me, telling people she didn’t like the game?

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TV Polls

May 29th, 2011 at 6:56 pm by David Farrar

Both the TVNZ and TV3 poll are detailed over at Curiablog.

The rolling average of the polls is shown below.

After a lengthy break I will be updating Curiablog with poll details regularly again.

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Facebook for under 13s

May 29th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Amelia Wade in the Herald reports:

Parenting and internet safety groups have welcomed Facebook’s move to alter the site’s regulations to permit children under 13 to join.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told an education forum in the US that he wanted to allow 10 to 13-year-olds to use the social networking site as a “study tool”.

He assured that the company would take a lot of precautions to make sure younger kids were safe.

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker welcomed the move and said many children in that age bracket were already using the site.

“In a way, Facebook specifically acknowledging that those children are there is probably a good thing because that then means Facebook needs to think about the environment being suitable for children of that age.”

He said children under 13 were already using the site by using a fake birthdate. So when Facebook formally allowed them to make profiles they could set restrictions for pre-teens.

“It’s quite responsible of Facebook, really.”

 I agree it is a good idea. Millions of kids are already on Facebook. I know a seven year old who has her own Facebook page, and she has around 60 friends, all pretty much her own age.

Better to realise the reality and create a kids-friendly area for them, than pretend they are not there.

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A good op ed by Don

May 29th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Don Brash has a good op ed in the SST responding to a guest column by a young essay writer.

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Green Party List

May 29th, 2011 at 11:15 am by David Farrar

The Greens have released their final party list after ranking by members. Their top 15 are:

  1. Metiria Turei
  2. Russel Norman
  3. Kevin Hague
  4. Catherine Delahunty
  5. Kennedy Graham
  6. Eugenie Sage (+1)
  7. Gareth Hughes (-1)
  8. David Clendon (+1)
  9. Jan Logie (-1)
  10. Steffan Browning (+6)
  11. Denise Roche
  12. Holly Walker (-2)
  13. Julie Anne Genter (-1)
  14. Mojo Mathers (-1)
  15. James Shaw (-1)

The number in brackets is the movement from the draft list compiled by the hierarchy, which I blogged in April.

The big mover is Browning. He was No 12 on the list in 2008. The hierarchy put him down at no 16 which is highly unlikely to win, but the members put him up to no 10 where is highly likely to make him an MP.

The press release from Metiria Turei doesn’t mention Browning at all, despite him being the big mover. This suggests they are not too happy with his promotion – possibly he is seen as too old being in his late 50s.

There is a bit of history here. Browning is from Marlborough/Nelson and that branch has a history of using their members to push their locals up the list rankings. They did the same with Mike Ward.

It will be interesting to see how well the Greens do at the election. If Labour collapse they will be the beneficiary. On the other hand, the Mana Party may well be competing with the Greens for similiar voters.

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McCarten on Goff

May 29th, 2011 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

Matt McCarten writes in the HoS:

I can’t see how Labour can keep whistling in the dark over its dismal public support.

I don’t know how its leader, Phil Goff, can keep pretending he has a chance of winning in November.

Two polls this week showed the gap between National and Labour remaining at a yawning 20 per cent. When was the last time a government polled consistently so far ahead of its opposition?

Every poll these days seems to tell the same story: John Key and his party can rule alone. People like Key and trust him.

We have a prime minister whom two out of every three New Zealanders prefer.

That means even voters of other parties support him over their own leaders. Extraordinary but true.

That is a point few have cottoned on to. Even amongst Labour voters, the majority prefer Key over Goff to be PM.

No one, surely, believes that a Goff-led party has any show.

It is clear the whole Labour caucus is made up of a bunch of gutless wonders, resigned to coast along for the next six months and lose, rather than get a backbone and make the change.

Labour needs a new messenger if it has any chance.

Frankly, it’s a dereliction of duty for the current caucus to flag this election away. If it does then it doesn’t deserve any support from its core constituency.

It would have a better chance in November if it put the names of its current MPs on a wall and then have some kid throw a dart at it.

Whoever gets their name lanced by the dart gets the job.

That would be hilarious. There would be 41 MPs silently thinking “Please, please don’t land on my name” and two MPs praying “pick me, pick me”.

It’s a bit over the top but it’s a better strategy than the one Labour’s running now.

Matt shouldn’t give away his ideas for free.

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A $1,000 pledge to charity

May 29th, 2011 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

On Friday Trevor Mallard got upset that Whale Oil had called him a cripple and challenged Whale to a bike race, saying Whale would be too chicken and if he accepted he would not have a chance.

Yesterday Whale accepted the challenge so long as he can get provided a bike and that there be a second sport of his choosing – preferably boxing or shooting.

Cactus Kate has also jumped in, and offered $1,000 prize money. It goes to Labour if Trevor wins and ACT if whale wins. Kate also challenged me to match her grand.

I’m not overly keen to donate to ACT or Labour, but have agreed to donate $1,000 to charity based on who wins.

My $1,000 donation is dependent on Whale and Trevor actually agreeing to details of the competition (such as whether it is one sport or two) and actually competing. No donation if one defaults and it doesn’t happen. I’d also insist on them agreeing on an independent Judge to determine the winner.

If Whale wins I will donate $1,000 to the Mental Health Foundation.

If Trevor wins I will donate $1,000 to the Crippled Children Society, now known as CCS.

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I’ve been promoted!

May 29th, 2011 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

The SST writes on the pro-SM campaign:

David Farrar, National’s pollster and a well-known right-wing blogger and columnist, is providing strategic advice.

I never knew that three or four phone calls totalling probably 30 minutes over six months makes me a strategic advisor. I should stick it on my CV and send someone an invoice!

There is a second longer story on the campaign here.

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General Debate 29 May 2011

May 29th, 2011 at 8:54 am by David Farrar
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Whale accepts Mallard’s challenge

May 28th, 2011 at 4:49 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

Trevor Mal­lard has issued a chal­lenge. As is usual for the crip­ple he has picked the one sport he is good at it (if you can all it a sport) and he has also picked on the wrong per­son for a challenge.

So Trevor, I accept your chal­lenge

Excellent, and this will give Trevor a real incentive to get back in shape.

Firstly, I need a bike, not just any bike the same bike you use. We have to race using exactly the same equip­ment. It is only fair. The only dif­fer­ence will be the rid­ers. A Crip­ple vs a Whale.

Sec­ondly, the race will be on August 15 and I pick 60kms for the dis­tance, if you are going to go, go big.

I suspect there will be a large media contingent following the race.

Thirdly, since you picked a sport that you excel at, it is only fair that there be a counter-challenge and I choose box­ing. You men­tioned your “fear” of my exces­sive bulk. I cur­rently weigh 105kg. You stated in the com­ments on Red Alert that if I got train­ing then I would lose 30kg and you’re are prob­a­bly right, there­fore there should be no rea­son other than your cow­ardice for reject­ing a box­ing match 8 weeks after our cycle race.

I understand that the boxing match will be pay per view, and that all proceeds from the match would go towards helping the recovery in Christchurch.

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