Archive for September, 2011

Q + A – 2 October 2011

September 30th, 2011 at 9:51 pm by Kokila Patel

With the world economy in a dangerous phase according to the IMF and New Zealand hit by a double downgrade just weeks before an election, Finance Minister Bill English is live with Guyon Espiner on whether the government is doing enough to protect our economy.

Then, two of New Zealand’s most respected minds, Sir Paul Callaghan and Gareth Morgan on what the government should do to weather the storm and offering advice to viewers on what we can do.

Finally, two political giants bid farewell to parliament. Sir Roger Douglas and Jim Anderton – the debate between them represents the political faultline of a generation. They talk to Paul Holmes in one last political debate.

On the panel, Claire Robinson and former party presidents Mike Williams and Michelle Boag.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE. Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 9:05am and 1:05pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

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A second agency downgrades NZ

September 30th, 2011 at 2:40 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has cut New Zealand’s rating from AA plus to AA, after a similar downgrade by rival agency Fitch this morning.

S&P has had New Zealand on negative outlook since late last year.

It said it downgraded the rating because of the likelihood that New Zealand’s external debt would get worse when the government is having to spend more as a result of the Canterbury quake.

This is a blow. It means all businesses and of course the Government will have to pay a bit more to borrow money. This is the price we pay for having kept interest free student loans – everyone else pays more interest.

This makes it even more imperative that the NZ Govt gets back into surplus as fast as possible. I hope both major parties do not use the election period to make spending promises we can’t afford, or in Labour’s case tax cuts for all we can’t afford.

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Will cannabis propel Goff to power?

September 30th, 2011 at 1:56 pm by David Farrar

My column at the NZ Herald is titled Will cannabis propel Goff to power? An extract:

Even if Labour gets a worse result than they did in 2008, and even if National gets a better result than they did in 2008, the country may end up with Prime Minister Phil Goff. …

The interesting thing with this scenario is that National/ACT would have secured more votes than the Goff Government. National/ACT could get 49% and Labour/Green/NZ First/Maori/Mana 48% in total. But the over-hang for the Maori seats would deliver power to the parties that got fewer votes. Any protests would be futile, as the MMP referendum would have just concluded, probably confirming MMP.

The column focuses on the dangers for National if it has no coalition partners beyond one MP parties.

 

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Labour’s secret campaign strategy

September 30th, 2011 at 12:40 pm by David Farrar

Whale has discovered Labour’s secret campaign strategy, devised by Trevor, Clare and Darien.

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Save the fan zone

September 30th, 2011 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

Aaarrgh. This is the stupidest decision ever.

The Herald reports:

The Wellington City Council has been slammed for not applying for resource consent for the city’s Fan Zone past the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

While New Zealanders around the rest of the country will be able to enjoy the final and semi-finals at free public fan zones, Wellingtonians will either have to watch the games at home or at a pub.

The fan zone, situated next to the new Wharewaka on Odlins Plaza, fits 3,000 fans and was granted resource consent only up to October 12.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown told Newstalk ZB it has always been the plan to close the waterfront fan zone on October 9.

She said it is part of a country-wide approach, with many overseas supporters likely to follow their teams to Auckland for the final stages of the tournament.

Oh for fuck’s sake, this is such a stupid decision. What about all the Wellingtonians? We’ve been loving the fan zone. I’ve been raving about it to everyone.

Shit, I was planning to watch the final there. Nothing better than celebrating the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup than with 3,000 of your mates. And we would all be mates that night.

Please, please City Councillors change this decision. This is probably the last ever Rugby World Cup in NZ. Any Councillor who votes against keeping the fan zone going should be targeted for eviction in 2013!

UPDATE: If the Council won’t budget, can Murray McCully seize control of the Wellington Waterfront also please. Guarantee you a huge spike upwards in the party vote for National in Wellington!

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Fenton v Leitch

September 30th, 2011 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

At Red Alert Darien Fenton blogs an apology to Sir Peter Leitch:

Peter’s a top bloke and he’s done a lot for Kiwi communities, and even though we might disagree on politics these days, I’ve still got a lot of respect for him.

So, Peter, if you are reading this, sorry about the comments.

Leitch has raised over a million dollars for charities.

We will be charitable and assume Darien’s apology was spontaneous and the timing at 10.43 pm was coincidence, not after she got phoned by the NZ Herald in relation to the story they were running today:

Sir Peter said from Melbourne yesterday that he did not know what to say when he heard what Ms Fenton had said about him.

“I honestly don’t know what to say, to be fair – and it’s not often that I’m lost for words. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.

“I’m very disappointed and it’s just taken the wind out of my sails. I’m absolutely gutted by her comments.”

Sir Peter said he supported Helen Clark when Labour was in power and took her to Warriors matches.

“The National Party never complained that I supported Helen Clark,” he said.

“I’ve done nothing with John Key that I didn’t do with Helen Clark – I’ve been a little bit more vocal.”

Poor Sir Peter. He doesn’t realise that this makes him a class traitor. They don’t see it as supporting the PMs you like, they see it as betrayal.

In response to Ms Fenton’s claims that he was “sucking up to John Key big time”, he said: “I thought freedom of speech was one of the things people went to Gallipoli for. But obviously in her opinion, it’s not.”

Ouch. Of course that is not to say that free speech doesn’t have consequences, but advocating not to shop there because someone praised John Key is rather over the top. Phil Goff got it better:

Labour leader Phil Goff said today he did not agree with Ms Fenton’s comments about Sir Peter.

“I’m a real Warriors fan. I’ve been going to their matches for years and have caught up with the Mad Butcher many times. He is a great guy and a great ambassador for rugby league. He is absolutely entitled to express whatever opinion he likes. Go the Warriors against Manly.”

Much smarter.

UPDATE: Sir Peter reveals to Whale Oil how Fenton’s attack made him break down and cry, and how he spent all day cooking at David Lange’s funeral:

“I have been hurt immensely by her, last night I broke down and cried, I just feel stabbed in the back”. Sir Peter then went on to outline all the things he has been doing recently for Christchurch and the huge effort and toll that has taken on him. ” For her to attack me when I am trying my best for this country, well mate, I’m gutted.”

“The worst part in all this is in trying to attack me she has instead attacked 37 hard working, working class franchisees, she is taking the bread from their mouths” he said. “I sold the business 3 and half years ago and she didn’t even get that right”

“I though Labour was for the working class, after this I just don’t know”.

“But the thing that hurts the most is that I feel stabbed in the back. I gave free product and spent all day cooking at David Lange’s funeral, another working class hero, and this is what I get?

And Whale concludes:

When I asked him some political questions he refused to answer them, he said “Mate, I don’t want to get political, I’ve never been political, I just want what is best for this great little country.”

Just as well for Labour there isn’t an election in 57 days or anything like that. Oh shit …..

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John Stringer Cartoon – ‘Cooked Goose’-stepping…

September 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am by Kokila Patel

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Friday Photo: 30 September

September 30th, 2011 at 9:21 am by Chthoniid

Sorry for lags here, it’s been a grim week.

Hope this shot puts people in a good mood for the end-of-week.

Click for larger, higher res image

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General Debate 30 September 2011

September 30th, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Crossword 30 September 2011

September 30th, 2011 at 7:00 am by Kokila Patel

Answers tomorrow at 7 am

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Marae Investigates – Marae Digipoll 2 October 2011

September 30th, 2011 at 12:14 am by Kokila Patel

MARAE INVESTIGATES
RELEASE ‘MARAE DIGIPOLL’

10-11am this Sunday, 2nd October on TV

What impact has the arrival of the Mana Party had on Maori voters?

That’s one of the questions raised in a new Digipoll to be released on TV ONE’s Marae Investigates this Sunday.

With the General Election eight weeks away, the results provide a fascinating insight into how support for the Maori and Labour parties has been affected by the Mana Party.

Marae Investigates also has an exclusive interview with the whanau of Maori Wallaby, Quade Cooper.
Quade’s Brisbane based mum, Ruhia Jones gives a candid view of her son’s rise to fame and her unconditional support for him in the face of Kiwi animosity.

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iPredict Election Update #45: Nats above 50%

September 29th, 2011 at 10:25 pm by Kokila Patel

Key Points:

* National hits 50% and Greens above 10%
* Brash now most vulnerable party leader
* Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill to be passed
* Inflation and growth figures deteriorate
* Unemployment and OCR figures remain steady
* Fonterra payout predictions improve

Commentary:

National and the Greens are at record-breaking highs, while Labour and Act are at record-breaking lows, according to this week’s snapshot from New Zealand’s prediction market, iPredict. National’s forecast party vote has reached 50.0%, and the Greens’ 10.3%, meaning 63 and 13 MPs respectively, while Labour have dropped to 28.1% and Act 2.0%, meaning just 36 and 3 MPs respectively. With the exception of Phil Goff’s Mt Roskill electorate, Labour is now expected to reduce its majorities in all of the electorates iPredict measures In economics, inflation and growth figures worsen, while unemployment and the OCR remain unchanged, the Fonterra Payout for 2011/12 has improved slightly.

(more…)

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Students get choice

September 29th, 2011 at 4:25 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Stuff on the passing of the VSM Bill/Act. Some interesting feedback and discussion from readers there on their experiences.

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Farewell Keith Locke

September 29th, 2011 at 1:11 pm by David Farrar

Looking back I probably hated Keith Locke before I met him. He stood for everything I detested.  Famously he had welcomed the USSR “liberation” of Afghanistan. He was basically an avowed communist who openly talked about much better the world would be without the United States.

I still disagree with Keith on almost every issue. His opposition to Police tasers is woefully misguided, and I doubt we would agree on a single economic or foreign policy issue.

However Keith is a great example of someone where you can hate their views, but like the person. Some people can’t do that (and I used to find it harder) but I think it is a healthy thing to be able to do.

Keith is one of the nicest MPs that has been in Parliament. I can’t recall a time where he had made a personal attack on someone. His views, while extreme, are sincere. He is a product of his parents and upbringing.

My views on Keith are not unique to me. Many National MPs have said how much they like him on a personal level, and Keith has attended a fair few National parties and functions.

There are a couple of issues where I have agreed with Keith, such as republicanism, and have enjoyed working with him on those issues.

Keith used to get tormented in the House, especially by Winston Peters and Michael Cullen. Cullen once almost reduced him to tears. While I think it is quite legitimate to use MP’s previous utterances against them, the nature of some of the taunting was over the top.

Keith gave a witty valedictory yesterday, commenting how his SIS file will be very useful to him in writing the history book he is working on. I hope he enjoys his post-parliamentary career.

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The Nation 1 October 2011

September 29th, 2011 at 12:37 pm by Kokila Patel

This week with England playing Scotland at Eden Park on Saturday — a Scottish flavour to our Sunday Edition Panel!

But first — with the Warriors playing the NRL Grand Final we go to their South Auckland heartland to find out what really makes this much multi-ethnic impoverished part of NZ tick. Narelle Suisted talks about the reality of life in South Auckland and their hopes and dreams for the future with Year 13 from Otahuhu College. This is a fascinating insight into a part of Auckland the rest of NZ knows little about.
We follow that up with an interview with Housing Minister Phil Heatley — over a third of South Aucklanders live in Housing New Zealand houses.

And finally we look back at the colourful career of retiring Green MP Sue Kedgley — from beauty queen to environmental activist. Sean Plunket will have an extended interview with Sue.
And the panel — R G R (“Jock”) Anderson (NBR); David Ferguson (The Scotsman).

UPCOMING SATURDAY 01/10/11 1030 – SUNDAY EDITION 2/10/11 0830 – TV3

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Salmond on the polls

September 29th, 2011 at 11:59 am by David Farrar

Rob Salmond blogs at Pundit:

The race to become the next government is effectively over, but there is intrigue in some of the secondary numbers

That’s a huge (but realistic) admission from someone who used to work for Helen Clark.

The headlines tend to concentrate on its head-to-head lead over Labour, which has climbed up to almost 24% in our poll of polls. But even more important is the lead that National and ACT together hold over the grouping of Labour and the Greens. That gap has grown steadily over the last year, from a low of around 10% in November 2010 up to its current level of over 17%. This translates into a seat advantage of around 21 seats, making a right-leaning government massively more likely than a left-leaning government

Rob notes:

As remarkable as that kind of a lead is, it is nothing especially unusual. This has been the broad political situation in New Zealand since early 2009.

There has been a perhaps remarkable lack of volatility in the polls the last three years.

First, some commentators have been suggesting that ACT’s gambit when it took on Don Brash as its leader has already proven a failure, and there has been no improvement for ACT in the polls. That claim is false.

In April, we estimated ACT’s support at around 0.8%, whereas for the last two months we have estimated it hovering between 1.9% and 2.2%. The ACT vote has more than doubled since Don Brash became leader, and the rising trend has been fairly consistent. Of course, this is a far cry from what Dr Brash promised – I recall the number 15% crossing his lips in yet another ill-advised outburst – but it is not nothing.

That is correct, and in four of the five MMP elections ACT has got around 2% more actual vote than the polls were showing this far out.

Our Poll of Polls currently does not include the Fairfax polls, because they are new kids on the block. Including them, however, would make little difference to our predictions – less than 1% for each of the three largest parties, and substantially less than that for all the smaller parties.

I’ve included the Fairfax polls in the Curia average (there are slight difference in methodologies of weighting them) and I have National at 55.1% in the weighted average against 53.5% in the Pundit average. Also Labour at 27.5% vs 30.0% for Pundit. Curia has Greens at 9.4% vs 8.0% for Pundit.

The company that does Fairfax polls are Research International and they are not new. They used to be TNS which were TV3′s pollsters in 2008 – and they got closest to the actual election results.

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A failure of duty

September 29th, 2011 at 10:05 am by David Farrar

Bills that come before Parliament are of four types.  They are:

  • a Government bill—a bill dealing with a matter of public policy introduced by a Minister
  • a Member’s bill—a bill dealing with a matter of public policy introduced by a member who is not a Minister
  • a local bill—a bill promoted by a local authority, which affects a particular locality only
  • a private bill—a bill promoted by a person or body of persons (whether incorporated or not) for the particular interest or benefit of that person or body of persons

As you can see a private bill is for the benefit of a person or body of persons. A number of organisations in New Zealand have enabling legislation such as the Scout Association. Another example is the Royal Society of New Zealand – they needed their 1997 legislation updated to incorporate the humanities in their objects and make some governance changes.

Only an MP can introduce a bill into Parliament so a private body needs to find an MP to agree to promote their bill and steer it through the House. They will often ask the local MP, but it can be any MP. And if the MP agrees, they have basically a duty of care to that organisation to use their best efforts to get that law changed. This is normally very easy, as these changes are rarely controversial.

The Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill was introduced in September 2010. It should have passed into law in early 2011. but instead it remains stuck on committee stage and now can not pass before the election.

And the primary reason for this is the bill’s own sponsor, Grant Robertson, deliberately filibustered his own bill and used it as a weapon to try and stop the VSM bill from passing. Grant failed of course, but failed twice. He failed to stop the VSM bill from passing and failed to pass the Royal Society Bill because he spent months and months filibustering his own bill.

Grant will no doubt blame Heather Roy for moving that progress be reported on his bill, cutting off debate on it. But she only did this after months and months of Grant filibustering his own legislation. Grant could have had the bill passed by May. Even if it completed committee stage last night, it wouldn’t have been able under standing orders to have its third reading.

Now imagine how pissed off you would be if you were the Royal Society of NZ? Your own local MP has effectively fucked you over by using your bill as a political weapon in his ideological war against freedom of choice for students.

If you were another private organisation needing a private bill, would you go to Grant to promote it? You’d have to be mad to do so, not knowing whether it will be used as an effective hostage against other bills further down the order paper.

The Royal Society I imagine has no views on VSM. It is a shame they were an innocent casualty of Labour’s war against it.

They were not the only casualty. Labour MP Sue Moroney complained on Twitter (screen shot via Whale) that her bill extending paid parental leave never got debated. Well that was because of her colleagues filibustering. The filibustering meant there has been no ballots for bills for most of 2011. Labour managed to block all their own members bills, and all the Green ones also.

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Jones on VSM

September 29th, 2011 at 9:21 am by David Farrar

On Backbenches last night, Wallace Chapman asked all the MPs whether they supported VSM, including Labour MP Shane Jones. A transcript:

Wallace: Should we have VSM for student unions?

Shane: Yeah, yeah we should

It’s great to have one Labour MP speak out in favour of VSM, despite his party having an ideological stance against it.

But it does also point to the crumbling discipline within Labour. On Tuesday a Labour MP reveals the entire Maori caucus wants Goff gone, and on Wednesday another MP reveals he disagrees with his party on an issue which they have spent all year fighting tooth and nail.

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Ririnui on Goff

September 29th, 2011 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

Neither Phil Goff nor Annette King turned up the valedictory address of retiring Labour MP Mita Ririnui yesterday. It is very rare for the party leadership to not turn up for an MPs valedictory, but the reason in this case may be what Mita Ririnui said on Te Karere on Tuesday.

I’ve observed that MPs often say things on the Maori press, which they don’t say elsewhere. And what Mita said is a pearler. The translation of the item:

Labour MP Mita Ririnui has come out against Goff saying that he doesn’t relate to Maori and that his time as leader is up.

There are seven Maori caucus members and Ririnui says they all want Goff out.

“Of all the names put forward, Shane Jones is our choice.”

“I don’t know of anyone who disagrees.”

Ririnui is adamant Goff does not relate to Maori and Labour needs the Maori vote to govern again.

“The Maori caucus is concerned as we will be the casualties.

“If Shane Jones won’t be leader we’re in trouble.”

Hard to convince voters to vote for Labour when a retiring Labour MPs talks of the total lack of support for the person being put up as the alternate Prime Minister.

Just seven days left to roll Phil Goff, as Whale points out.

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General Debate 29 September 2011

September 29th, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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VSM at last

September 28th, 2011 at 2:05 pm by David Farrar

Today the VSM Bill, or more formally the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill should have its third reading and effectively pass into law to take effect on 1 January 2012.

For those who want to see the debate, this is my rough estimate of timing:

  1. Question Time 2 pm – 3.15 pm (there are three questions to committee chairs)
  2. General Debate 3.15 pm – 4.15 pm
  3. Royal Society of NZ Amendment Bill. I presume Heather Roy will move it reports progress within the first hour. This means it would finish somewhere between 4.30 pm and 5.15 pm
  4. Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill. Should start between 4.30 pm and 5.15 pm.
  5. Valedictory statements from Keith Locke and Mita Ririnui from 5.30 pm to 6 .00 pm
  6. Dinner Break 6.00 pm – 7.30 pm
  7. Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill continues at 7.30 pm for a total of two hours so should conclude somewhere between I estimate 8.30 pm and 9.15 pm

Hundreds of thousands of students are going to gain the ability to choose whether or not they wish to join a students’ association. Over time this will impact millions of people, albeit it in a minor way. Heather Roy will have achieved a lot more than many MPs do in their time.

Labour will want to repeal the law in future and force students once again to fund their apprentices. However I think they will find that in a few years doing so will be immensely unpopular.

I note TV3 reported Labour Party activist and NZUSA President David Do as saying:

“[Students] oppose ACT’s bill, that’s why they are protesting, and they feel increasingly frustrated and appalled that the Government is continuing to ignore their voice on this issue,” he says.

This sums up all that is wrong with compulsory membership. David Do does not speak for all students, or even for a majority of students. NZUSA have never asked students if they want student association membership to be voluntary or compulsory. The only scientific poll done amongst students (during the last VSM bill) on this issue showed a majority support voluntary membership.

Student Associations and their benefactors in Labour have no-one to blame for VSM than themselves. They have had massive opportunities to reform, and to provide safeguards that should go with compulsion. But they granted the power of compulsion with none of the safeguards such as you see with local government (not that I am accepting the validity of the comparison, just pointing out the safeguards).

They also made some huge tactical blunders during the VSM Bill progress. As far as I know they never once asked to meet with Student Choice representatives, who are primarily with Act on Campus and Young Nationals.  They failed to grasp that those two groups have considerable influence with their MPs, and are the ones who have pushed their caucuses to support the law change.

Some of the amendments proposed by Grant Robertson I supported (and said so in my submission to the select committee), specifically mandating that tertiary institutes should be required to offer student association membership as part of online enrolment (on an opt in tick basis).  If Labour had gone to Student Choice and said “Look we disagree on the law, but here are some amendments that you guys might support so that student associations do well under a voluntary regime, then it is quite possible Student Choice would have lobbied National and ACT MPs to agree to some of the amendments which didn’t dilute the principle of voluntary and opt in. By neglecting to engage with Student Choice, the student associations have actually made things much harder for themselves.

I was at the Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards on Saturday evening, and did reflect that it was a bit sad that some student media will struggle under VSM, due to the lack of compulsory funding. I am a huge fan of student media and enjoy reading much of their work. That does not mean I do not support VSM though. Just because I personally think student media is a good thing, is not sufficient reason that all students should be forced to fund it.

Hopefully VSM may act as a catalyst for some student newspapers to transform more into the digital age. As even large multi-national struggle with the economics of print publications, the medium may be somewhat historic. There is an opportunity for student newspapers to possibly dispense with a print edition and produce websites and e-papers which will become important hubs of student life. You may even be able to develop a subscription model. If I could get Salient on my iPad for $10 a year, I’d pay for that.

Likewise VSM does provide some opportunities for student associations, as well as considerable challenge. Student associations historically have been pretty lousy at communicating and consulting with the student body, let alone asking them what they want. Student associations need to spent some time and money asking what do students want from us, and what will they pay for.  They should consider innovations such as differing levels of membership fees. Maybe you can join the association for $10 just to have them represent you, but for say $50 you also get discounts in the cafe, free entry to orientation events and the weekly e-newspaper.

Some associations may try to undermine the law, as Auckland and Canterbury do, and have a zero membership fee and get the university to fund them. Apart from the fact that the University may be in breach of new regulations around student services levies, any association that does this will be missing the point of voluntary membership. Being dependent on members wanting to join can actually improve you, because it focuses a lot of your efforts on making sure you are providing the services students want, rather than the services you want to deliver. Even a $5 membership fee would provide that incentive. A $0 fee means that you have no idea if members see any value or not as there is no cost in joining.

There are some good student associations out there. It will be tougher under VSM, but good ones can raise to the challenge. But student associations in many many countries operate well with voluntary membership. Even in NZ, there are many voluntary student associations – the faculty student associations. Many of these operate with small budgets but have dedicated officers.

Finally I hope the universities and other tertiary institutions do their part to make voluntary membership work for student associations. By this I don’t mean backdoor funding deals which fatally undermine their own advocacy that universities are under-funded, but by allowing people to opt into membership through the enrolment process. In fact there is the potential to offer membership not just to the central student association but also the faculty students associations (to those studying the appropriate courses) and even the Maori students association (to those of Maori decent).  One could even offer membership/forwarding of contact details to registered clubs and societies. If you tick the box next to club or soc, they will be given your name and e-mail address.

Each university probably has its own online enrolment software, but NZUSA could play a useful role in developing specs for what changes would be needed to allow some of what I have advocated above. I think it would be great if as people enrol, they get offered the chance to join all relevant student associations, and indicate which clubs and societies they wish to have contact them.

Smart student associations would have been talking to their universities and institutes since November 2010, when the Government made it clear they would vote in favour of this law progressing. They’ve had 14 months to make changes, and prepare. If they put all their faith in Labour’s boasting that they could stop the law from passing before the election, then they were very foolish. However it is still better to be late than never. Within reason, I’m happy to donate my time to helping any student association with preparing for VSM (so long as it is after 26 November).

Anyway as someone who has been a proponent of VSM since I  joined OUSA in 1986, I’m delighted to see this law change finally occur. Students will finally be free to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to join a students’ association, and have the same rights of non-association as pretty much every other member of society.

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Still voting

September 28th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I was surprised to see a report that Chris Carter had voted against the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill.

He arrived in Kabul two weeks ago.

But no it seems his resignation is timed to not occur until the end of the September.

So is it proper for the Greens to be casting a proxy vote on behalf of an MP who has left New Zealand and is now working for the UN in Kabul?

And isn’t it a fitting end to Chris’ parliamentary career that he is double dipping – being paid his parliamentary salary as well as his UN salary for a few weeks.

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A cut and paste gone wrong

September 28th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis proposed that instead of passing a law to suspend the Supreme Court ruling on Police video surveillance, that Parliament could just instead pass into law the provisions of the Search and Surveillance Bill as reported back by Select Committee.

Labour adopted this idea as their policy and Charles Chauvel drafted a bill which he said did this. He whined that the Government refused to grant leave for it to be introduced. But there was a very good reasons for this. Poor Charles cut and paste from the wrong version of the Search and Surveillance Bill. He used the bill as introduced, not as reported back by select committee. This is an incredibly stupid and basic error to make.

Chris Finlayson pointed out:

“Charles Chauvel’s draft SOP for the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill demonstrates the danger of taking parts of draft legislation out of the context in which they were drafted,” Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson says.

“Mr Chauvel has, apparently inadvertently, drafted his SOP using large sections of the Search and Surveillance Bill as introduced to Parliament, rather than as reported back from Select Committee last year,” Mr Finlayson said. “This has created some serious problems in what he proposes.”

A number of problems are evident in the SOP posted by Mr Chauvel on the Labour Party blogsite:

• Mr Chauvel’s clause 7(1) refers to a period not exceeding 72 hours. But this was in the Search and Surveillance Bill as introduced, not as reported back. The Select Committee altered it to 48 hours, to reduce the period of time a surveillance device is first used without obtaining a surveillance device warrant. This increases surveillance powers, something Mr Chauvel previous expressed concern about.

• Mr Chauvel’s clause 8(3)(a) uses the wording of the Search and Surveillance Bill as introduced, not as reported back. He would require a residual warrant be disclosed, even though the Select Committee ruled this out.

• Mr Chauvel’s clause 11 is completely deficient. He uses clause 50 of the Bill as originally drafted, leaving out important additions made by the Select Committee, particularly section 42AA dealing with restrictions on some trespass surveillance and use of interception devices.

What a fail. But I love his response in the Herald:

Mr Chauvel returned fire, saying the Government could have improved his SOP, rather than spend time scrutinising it and putting out a press release.

“It’s a shame we have a minister who would prefer to take the approach of chipping at the opposition, rather than looking at how we can improve the law.”

Oh yes how dare the Government point out the Opposition cut and pasted the wrong version of a bill, and that Labour were proposing a law change that would be worse than what the select committee had recommended.

Talking of the Bill, it is online here. If you wish to make a submission, you only have until midnight.

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Down for 4 days is a disgrace

September 28th, 2011 at 11:03 am by David Farrar

Hamish Fletcher at NZ Herald reports:

Internet failures that have forced the Companies Office and 14 other Government websites offline for four days have been described as an international embarrassment.

Other websites caught up in the outage include the Personal Property Securities Register, Intellectual Property Office and Ministry of Consumer Affairs sites. …

The MED blamed the outage on upgrade work to the servers hosting the sites.

Unscheduled outages should be measured in minutes, not days.

The companies office site especially is a high demand site.

I have some experience with such a site. I was a director from 2002 to 2010 of the NZ Domain Name Registry Ltd, which is known as .nz Registry Services (NZRS). They operate the registry for .nz domain names.

The service level agreement with the Domain Name Commission Ltd (which I now serve on) specifies that the registry must be available 99.9% of the time (excluding scheduled outages notified in advance) on a monthly basis. This means that any unscheduled outages must last no longer than 43 minutes over a month, or the company would be in breach of the SLA.

To help achieve that, a lot of redundancy is built into the system. In fact there are parallel systems in Wellington and Auckland, so if one city is unavailable, the other system can kick in.

If NZRS had an unscheduled outage of four days, I imagine there would have been resignations from both the board and senior management, unless it was for the most exceptional and unavoidable reason. I certainly would have offered my resignation as a Director to the shareholder (InternetNZ).

The companies office website is excellent. I use it often, and it is one of the reasons we score highly on ease of business surveys. You can establish a company in under an hour, all online. But the more vital a service becomes, the more important it is that you ensure it remains up.

MED should at a minimum commission an independent report into what went wrong, and what they need to do to prevent such an outage in future.

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Molotov cocktails

September 28th, 2011 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Members of the “Urewera 18″ group threw Molotov cocktail fire bombs and fired semi-automatic weapons at training camps in the bush, court documents show. …

Evidence from Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was given to the hearing that film and photographs of a September 2007 camp showed a woman he said was Ms Morse holding an object believed to be a Molotov cocktail.

The person carried the object out of the view of the camera and returned a short time later without it.

Mr Pascoe was to give evidence that he believed she threw the Molotov cocktail into an outdoor oven, where police later found remnants of Molotov cocktails. …

That was the only basis for the identification because in all the images her face was concealed.

People should remember this the next time Ms Morse claims to be a peace activist.

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