Archive for January, 2012

Barbarism in NZ and Canada

January 31st, 2012 at 4:18 pm by David Farrar

In my blog at Stuff I blog:

I doubt I was the only person upset and angered at the story of the 17-year-old girl in Wellington whose parents tricked her into a forced marriage. She was imprisoned at home for several months, until she escaped.

Her parents have gone back to Pakistan, but the father is reported to have said he would kill her if he saw her again.

Sadly this can’t just be dismissed as hyperbole. Canada has just had a conclusion to a trial in which a father, with help from other family members, killed his three daughters and one of his wives. This was a so-called “honour” killing. Of course honour had nothing to so with it. Secret wiretaps revealed the father saying “God curse their generation, they were filthy and rotten children,” and “To hell with them and their boyfriends, may the devil s**t on their graves.”

The 17-year-old girl in Wellington may be lucky she escaped such a fate. As New Zealanders, we need to ask ourselves what we can do to minimise this occuring in New Zealand.

You can comment over at Stuff on my thoughts on how we can minimise this.

 

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Another one bites the dust

January 31st, 2012 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Protesters continue to vow to return to Wellington’s Civic Square after the Occupy Wellington camp was removed this morning.

About 20 police officers and 25 security guards turned up at 6.30am to issue eviction notices.

The group of about 20 people left without incident, except for swearing at reporters and throwing an egg at a journalist.

However, late this morning a protester put up a tent in defiance of an order from the Wellington City Council.

The man put up his tent about 10.30am as television camera crews looked on. It was been left there but has blown over.

How symbolic.

Are there any left now? Maybe they should just set up one national occupy site – perhaps in Invercargill.

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Asset Sales and the Treaty

January 31st, 2012 at 12:51 pm by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

The Government is being accused of selling Treaty rights to the highest bidder following suggestions Treaty protections will not be included in new legislation to enact the partial sale of state-owned assets.

Nationwide hui begin next week for the Government to consult Maori on its plans to sell up to 49 per cent of four state-owned energy companies and further reduce its shareholding of Air New Zealand.

The Government is required to pass legislation to remove the four energy companies from the State-Owned Enterprises Act to proceed with the sales.

If a company is no longer an SOE, then its obligations are the same as any other company, such as Air New Zealand.

But in all the fuss about asset sales and Maori, I like this investigation by Cactus Kate:

Ngai Tgahu know all about asset sales so should be supporting National’s privatisation programme. Here are just two recent examples of Maori more than happy to flog off their assets to foreigners who need OIO approvals.
In 2010 they sold 1348 hectares in Kaikoura to an American couple for 7.5 million dollars. They paid 8 million dollars so made a $500,000 loss.

In 2011 they sold 18,000 hectares of forest to a Swiss owned family company for 22.9 million dollars.

So Ngai Tahu sold twice as much land as the Crafar farms. Does Labour and the Maori Party think they should have not been allowed to do so?

UPDATE: The Maori Party are saying they may quit the Government if there is no treaty clause in the legislation removing the companies from the SOE schedule. This ratchets up the pressure on the Government considerably, but it is worth noting the Government can govern without Maori Party support.

If the Maori Party walk over this, they’ll presumably lose the constitutional review, their portfolios, and I imagine Whanua Ora. The second term was always going to be more challenging for National and the Maori Party – but I guess John Key was hoping flare ups would not occur quite so quickly.

The Maori Party do need to be careful about threatening to walk over an issue. That’s a card you can play only once or twice in a term. If you try to play it too often, then it loses its effectiveness and even backfires.

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Shane Jones saying sensible stuff

January 31st, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

The Labour Party says it might come as a revelation to some that not all Maori are opposed to mining and oil drilling.

Maori Economic Development spokesperson Shane Jones says there is a fossilised view that Maori aren’t interested or capable of making pragmatic decisions.

While he acknowledges there are been pockets of resistance, Mr Jones says there’s a variety of views – not a monolithic one.

He says oil is the country’s most costly import – a resource within Aotearoa.

What refreshing views from a Labour spokesperson. It would be great to see Labour come out with a policy supporting more use of our natural resources.

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General Debate 31 January 2012

January 31st, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Watkin on Crafar

January 31st, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Tim Watkin has a thoughtful piece at Pundit on the Crafar decision:

Looking at the OIO decision, it’s interesting to note that the deal literally ticks nearly all the boxes; the only fail is its ability to bring new skills and technology to New Zealand. That’s hardly surprising, given our farmers are as good as any in the world.

It’s very clear this was not a marginal call.

The OIO writes it’s also excited by the fact SPGL has “very strong contacts with the supermarket industry” in China, will create two new NZ brands (Nature Pure and Pure 100) and is promising to spend $100m over the next five years promoting New Zealand dairy in Asia.

I actually regard the effective partnership between Landcorp and SPGL as exciting. They have the capital and contacts, and Landcorp has the expertise. This deal could have major opportunities down the road.

What of the OIO’s point about “tacit anti-Chinese bias”, you ask? This sale deserves to be a major news story because of the large amount of land lost to offshore ownership in one go. But let’s be honest, the fact the sale is going to China has ratcheted up the concern and public debate.

Some of that concern is reasonable – we can’t buy land there, China is in the process of buying vast natural resources around the world, and such purchases are made in its national interests, which aren’t necessarily ours. But some of the concern is out-and-out racism.

Last year a German firm got approval to buy 3300 hectares in Southland. Remember the public debate about that deal? No, me neither.

Did anyone complain when Harvard bought our biggest forest? Or when Britons bought up 22,000 hectares of farmland over the past two years?

Of course not all of the opposition to the sale is xenophobic or racist. There are some people who really think that it makes good economic sense to not allow even one hectare of land to be owned by an Australian or Brit. They’re wrong, but they’re consistent.

But the nationality of the buyers was a factor in this case, for many. The examples Tim gives about the German purchase, for example, is a good one.

Labour leader David Shearer in opposing the sale said this week:

“If there is going to be foreign ownership then we have to make sure New Zealanders have a real interest in it and get real value from it. Now I don’t think that this sale here gives us any return.”

The details of this deal make that a hard argument to sustain; there are clearly significant returns to New Zealand. It’s hard to imagine how, under current law, New Zealand could have done better out of this deal. The original New Zealand bidders couldn’t have offered the strategic links into Asia and, I’m sorry, I simply refuse to take seriously a Michael Fay-led anything as a champion of retaining New Zealand assets in local ownership.

The strategic links into Asia are potentially very good for New Zealand.

Having said all that, why am I still uneasy about this sale? Because ownership matters. The owner is boss, keeps the profits, controls the asset. One sale on its own isn’t the end of the world, but added together we’ve sold 170,000ha of farm land in the six years from July 2005 to May 2011, according to this very good piece in Farmers Weekly.

That rises to two percent of our farmland in the past decade, according to RNZ.

If we keep that up over the next century, that’s 20 percent gone.

And I think there is a valid debate about whether there should be some sort of limit on the total amount of land owned by foreign interests. That is preferable to railing against individual deals which in fact make good economic sense.

However I would make the point that any limit should look at more than just sales. Some of the land sold to foreign owners has been resold back to NZ owners. And some of the land sold to foreign owners was already owned by different foreign owners. What would be useful is a time series showing total foreign ownership at annual intervals. I’m not sure though that such data is easily compiled.

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A contrast of two schools

January 30th, 2012 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Dalefield School in Carterton has been one of the high profile schools agitating against National Standards. They have claimed:

Dalefield School principal Kevin Jephson said the standards would reward only those pupils “who arrive at school from extremely advantaged backgrounds such as inherited intelligence, emotional security, financial prospects and pro-active parenting”.

And in today’s Wairarapa News we read:

A Wairarapa school will come under special attention from the Ministry of Education after most of its students failed the National Standards benchmark last year.

But Dalefield School principal Kevin Jephson, who voluntarily went public about his school’s results, said the standards were invalid and inappropriate for his school.

Only 11 per cent of Dalefield’s students met the reading standard, 2 per cent the writing standard and 7 per cent the mathematics standard, he said.

One can understand why the principal has been so much against national standards.

Mr Jephson said the primary school sector had known all along the achievement components for National Standards were unrealistic for most primary schoolchildren.

Really? Well later on we read …

But Gail Marshall, principal of Solway Primary School in Masterton, said she had utmost faith in National Standards as a workable system.

The standards were trialled at Solway ahead of being rolled out nationwide.

The 2011 assessment at Solway found 91 per cent of Years 4 to 6 pupils met the reading standard, 87 per cent the writing standard and 82 per cent the mathematics standard.

“What I like about the standards is that it shows very clearly what the kids need, and we can target that. This year we’ll be concentrating on writing and maths and we can target toward that end.”

What an excellent attitude.

Now some of you might be wondering, like me, well Dalefield may be a decile 1 school and Solway a decile 10 school. So I checked.

Dalefield is decile 5 and Solway decile 6. Not a huge difference. Certainly not enough to explain why Solway is a magnitude higher in terms of the national standard.

Having said that, I would not rush to judge Dalefield. Maybe there is some genetic quirk that means all their pupils turned up to their school with inferior skills to those as Solway. Hence I would wait a year or two and see how each school does in lifting achievement over time.

If only 10% of first years at Dalefield can meet the national standard, yet by year six it is say 60%, then that is arguably a better result than a school where say 80% of first years are at the national standard, and they stay at 80% by year six.

The solution to concerns about bad comparisons or league tables, is to have good data easily accessible, such as in Australia. Let parents see how kids at a school do over time, let parents see how schools compare within the same decile etc.

But I think it is a good thing that parents of Dalefield students now know 90% of their kids are not at the national standard. It allows them to have a conversation with the school about how they plan to lift their improvement.

UPDATE: This is interesting. In comparing the two schools, Dalefield’s school roll is 16% Maori. Solway’s is 32% Maori. Solway is the one which has an 80% to 90% achievement rate, compared to under 10% for Dalefield. So that’s one excuse Dalefield can’t use.

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Very cute

January 30th, 2012 at 4:37 pm by David Farrar

They all look so happy and contented together!

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Why our IR laws still need changing

January 30th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Jo McKenzie-McLean at The Press reports:

A Christchurch retail manager who told her employer: “F..k you, I am going”, has been awarded $8000 for unjustifiable dismissal.

Yes, the $8,000 went to the employee not the employer.

The authority’s written findings state that Sullivan’s employer had “seized the opportunity” to be rid of Sullivan after a “troubled” employment relationship, including four warnings the employer says it issued for Sullivan’s abusive conduct and quality of work.

So there were four previous warnings!

“Ms Martin was negative in the way that she approached me, being abrupt. I accept I threw the rosters on the floor. I said I was sick and in my frustration I said: `F..k you, I am going!’ I picked up my bag and left. I left crying and upset.”

By her own admission, she told her boss to get fucked, she threw the rosters on the floor and she stormed out of work, not returning that day. And just because she thought her supervisor was abrupt?

Sullivan did not show up for work the following day, with her employer denying Sullivan’s claims she had been granted a sick day.

So she took a second day off also.

“There was … no raising of concerns, no discussion or real attempt to ascertain Ms Sullivan’s views about what had occurred and therefore no consideration of those views.”

The authority granted her $5053 in compensation for loss of income, and $3000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

So the employer ends up $8,000 out of pocket, because they didn’t consider Sullivan’s views enough after she had stormed out, saying “fuck you, I am going”, and after four previous warnings.  You have to feel sorry for the employer.

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Relaxing on Barrier

January 30th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m always in two minds about posting about Great Barrier Island, as I’m worried too many people might start holidaying there, making it harder for me to holiday there. But it really is an iconic part of New Zealand that provide world class beauty, just 30 minutes flying from Auckland.

Myself and three friends stayed at Blind Bay, and you can see the view from the balcony. The weather was so nice, that we were able to drink and play cards out on the balcony until close to midnight. One can never get sick of views like that.

A couple of the locals very kindly took us out fishing over the weekend. This is their dog Max who just loves being out on the water.

Even I managed to catch a couple of fish, including this parrotfish. We also caught lots of snapper, which we had for dinner.

I loved this sight of the dog being towed along in his own boat.

After the fishing, we went to this very remote bay (basically only accessible by boat or a two hour walk) and it really was a piece of paradise. The water was wonderful.

Yum. I can never get enough crayfish. It was a perfect end to a great day out.

Also love the sunset over Blind Bay.

I love living in Wellington, and don’t think I would ever live in Auckland. But if I did, a big plus would be being able to spend more time on the Barrier. The locals are so absolutely friendly, and the scenery so wonderful.

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NZEI still trying to supress data

January 30th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Victoria Robinson at Stuff reports:

Schools might withhold student achievement statistics if the government does not prevent national standards information being used to create league tables, the New Zealand Education Institute says.

All schools must submit their student achievement data based on national standards to the Education Ministry by May 31.

But the NZEI said yesterday some schools might refuse to do so if the government did not prevent the information being used for league tables comparing each schools’ academic achievement.

The Government can not prevent media from seeking school assessment data and reporting it. It’s called living in a free society. The only way this could be prevented was to amend the Official Information Act to exclude school assessment data.

Anyway I have a solution for any school that refuses to submit their student achievement data. No parent should be forced to attend a school which won’t tell parents how well the school is doing, so I’d remove all zoning protection for any school that with-holds assessment data.

This would allow parents to vote with their feet. Any child at that school would automatically be guaranteed entrance into any neighbouring school, if the parents wish to have their children at a school that doesn’t suppress achievement data.

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Hate-mongering

January 30th, 2012 at 12:38 pm by David Farrar

One of the posters (not commenters) at The Standard posted this over the weekend:

As you can see he calls Fran O’Sullivan a traitor, enemy and sell-out who will be shunned and reviled. This is because Fran dared to support the Crafar farm sale. It shows how demented some of the opponents have become. Redlogix of course cowers behind his alias, and would never ever dare to write such stuff under his own name – unlike Fran.

But as you can see, not content with just having Fran labeled a traitor and enemy to be shunned and reviled, a commentor Millsy calls for her to executed, saying “the likes of O’Sullivan, Key, Williamson, and Coleman will find themselves … rewarded for their treachery with a one way trip to the gallows”.

Now Millsy is just a commenter, and this is not the first time he has advocated violence against those whose political views he opposes. I of all people would say you don’t judge a blog on the basis of a comment by a commenter. I mean, after all it is possible they didn’t even see the comment (I read a small proportion of total comments on KB). If they did, surely they would delete it and at least kick him off?

But no, as you can see Red Logix (who is an author, not a commenter) effectively endorses the comment, saying that while it was a marginal call, it is okay because he said “the likes of” and that Millsy is correct in general.

Fran actually had been contributing to the thread (and kudos to Fran for standing up to people who call you a traitor and enemy) and pointed out that Millsy is Brendon Mills (easily found through Google). Now get this – The Standard deleted Fran’s comment, but left up the one effectively calling for her to go to the gallows!

Fran sums it all up nicely, with this tweet from Fran:

The Standard? Internet version of the Ku Klux Klan. Happy to string up people behind web cloak of anonymity.

There is a reason so many of their authors (not all) wear virtual hoods to hide their identities.

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A NZ forced marriage

January 30th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A ghastly story at Stuff:

For months, in an ordinary house in a Wellington suburb, a 17-year-old Pakistani was held hostage, trapped in a marriage forced on her by her parents and threatened with death.

The woman, who does not want to be identified, was married in 2010 without her consent or knowledge after her Muslim parents learned she had a Hindu boyfriend and became concerned she was too westernised.

If they think she was too westernised, they should not have moved to New Zealand.

The Wellington teenager refused to go ahead with the marriage, despite months of family threats of deportation and violence.

Then her parents took her to the Internal Affairs Department to sign what they said were visa documents but which she later found were marriage papers.

That night a ceremony was held at her parents’ home. She was told it was an engagement ceremony and, if she did not attend, she would be deported. After the ceremony she said her father told her she was married and was to go to her husband’s house in Newtown with him that night.

“I was crying all day and night. I didn’t want to get married. I don’t think any 17-year-old girl would want to get married.

“I was freaking out. I was still in shock and told the guy not to touch me. He was trying to be forceful to me sexually but, when I warned him about the police, he backed off.”

Smart girl. Smart guy also for backing off, realising we have rape laws.

For two months she was held in a kind of prison with her husband and his family. They would not let her leave the house or use the phone and always supervised her. They demanded she sleep with her new husband and have a baby.

Her own parents visited once a week but barely spoke to her.

She finally did escape, and went to the police and ethnic women’s support organisation Shakti. Her marriage has since been annulled and her parents have gone back to Pakistan.

Before leaving, her father told her he would kill her if he saw her again. “I wanted to die. My dad was saying that to his own daughter, I couldn’t believe it.”

I’m glad the parents have left, as they should be deported if they had not. I also think her “husband’s” family should be checked out. There is no room in New Zealand for people who condone forced marriages.

I don’t think our immigration laws should discriminate on the basis of religion (well except scientologists :-) but I do think we need to make very clear to potential immigrants that there are certain aspects of New Zealand culture and laws which are important to New Zealanders such as separation of state and religion, equal rights for women, no forced marriages, democracy, freedom of expression etc etc. And equally the message should go out that if you have a huge problem with any of these things, then you might not want to live here.

I just hope the poor 17 year old girl prospers in New Zealand, despite being abandoned by her family.

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Green candidates getting Green votes

January 30th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The table below lists in order what percentage of people who gave the Greens their party vote, also gave their electorate vote to the Green candidate.

This isn’t split voting, but it is still interesting to look at. Generally a Green candidate has no chance of winning the seat, so a high level of votes for a Green candidate from their own supporters tends to indicate their high personal standing with their own supporters. It also tends to happen more in seats where they are not marginal.

 

% of Gre PV voting Gre EV
Coromandel 71.8%
Ilam 57.5%
Northland 55.7%
Taranaki-King Country 55.1%
Hunua 53.6%
Clutha Southland 52.1%
Selwyn 52.0%
Kaikoura 51.7%
Waitaki 50.3%
East Coast Bays 49.6%
Helensville 48.1%
Rongotai 48.0%
Whangarei 47.3%
Tamaki 46.9%
Dunedin North 46.7%
Rodney 45.7%
Waikato 45.4%
Invercargill 43.6%
Taupo 42.2%
Wairarapa 42.1%
Papakura 41.9%
Tauranga 41.8%
Hutt South 41.7%
Mangere 40.2%
North Shore 39.3%
East Coast 39.0%
Tukituki 38.4%
Dunedin South 36.7%
Rangitikei 36.4%
Nelson 35.2%
Wigram 31.4%
Rangitata 31.3%
Te Atatu 31.0%
Mana 30.9%
New Lynn 30.5%
Maungakiekie 30.1%
Northcote 29.9%
Waitakere 29.6%
Mt Roskill 29.5%
Wellington Central 28.9%
Port Hills 28.9%
Christchurch Central 28.5%
Otaki 28.4%
Whanganui 27.5%
West Coast Tasman 26.8%
Rimutaka 26.1%
Mt Albert 26.0%
Epsom 24.7%
Hamilton East 23.9%
Napier 23.6%
Waimakariri 22.8%
Christchurch East 22.4%
Auckland Central 21.6%
Ohariu 21.2%
New Plymouth 21.2%
Palmerston North 20.8%

Catherine Delahunty in Coromandel got a very high 72% of Green voters also giving her their electorate vote. Next was Kennedy Graham in Ilam with 58%. Pauline Evans in Northland also did well with 56%.

The six seats where the Green candidate got under 23% of Green party voters voting for them were Palm North, New Plymouth, Ohariu, Auckland Central, Chch East and Waimakariri – all bar one reasonably marginal seats.

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Always wondered why Pepsi tastes different to Coke

January 30th, 2012 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

AFP reports at the NZ Herald:

An Oklahoma lawmaker has proposed legislation to ban any use of foetuses in food in one of the more bizarre twists in the emotive US battle over abortion.

The bill comes after wild rumors began circulating online and among anti-abortion groups that soft drink giant, Pepsi, was using aborted foetuses in its products.

I always wondered why I preferred Coke to Pepsi. Obviously I don’t like the taste of aborted foetuses!

I wonder if some evil Coke executive was responsible for starting the urban legend. You can just imagine the marketing team brain-storming ideas, and one of them saying “Hey, why don’t we start a rumour that Pepsi uses foetuses in their products”.

The company has denounced the urban legend as completely false.

“PepsiCo does not conduct or fund research that utilises any human tissue or cell lines derived from embryos,” spokesman Peter Land told AFP.

They would say that, wouldn’t they.

Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey said he has been researching the issue for about a year and is concerned there are no rules preventing the use of embryonic stem cells or fetal tissue in food and other products.

Oh my God. This is urgent. Imagine all the products out there which may have been using fetal tissue in their products. I mean, does anyone know what really is in a mince pie?

There could be other rules needed also. I’ve been researching the issue for about three minutes and there are also no rules preventing the use of human brain tissue in food products. Shockingly, not a single rule prevents a chef from cutting out his own heart, and including it in a tasty curry.

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General Debate 30 January 2012

January 30th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Another balanced documentary

January 29th, 2012 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

Lois Cairns at the SST reports:

The Maori radical who smashed the America’s Cup with a sledge-hammer has turned his skills to film-making and is working on a documentary about Prime Minister John Key.

Penehamine Netana-Patuawa, formerly known as Benjamin Peri Nathan, says he wants to define himself as a film-maker and has put his criminal past – bank robbery and drug-dealing – behind him.

Maybe he could do films about the victims of crime?

Netana-Patuawa claims he seeks to “reveal the truth” with his documentary although he admits his main motivation is that he is deeply angered by the policies of Key’s National-led government which he blames for the injustices he sees.

“We live in a land of abundance, yet we have many people, particularly children, suffering. John Key is responsible for that and, as such, I intend to hold him to account. But, my doco will not seek to go on some type of vindictive `witch-hunt’.

Of course not. It will be fair and balanced I am sure. That pink elephant flying overheard told me so.

“If just 2000 people committed to $1 a week over a one-year period, that would cover the costs of the entire documentary,” he says on his website, adding that an accounting firm has been employed to ensure all money received is spent on the doco.

I’m surprised NZ on Air hasn’t yet rushed in to fund it, and TV3 arranged to play it the week before the 2014 election.

He is also looking for people to help make the documentary but says he has no interest in hearing from National supporters: “A background check will be taken to make certain you are not a National supporter, as I do not want any `National spies’ relaying information back to the party pertaining to the documentary. I know this may sound a bit `paranoid’ but better to be safe than sorry.”

I suspect National is not too worried about an attack documentary against them made by a repeat convicted criminal. In fact it may make them more popular.

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Coddington on Food Police

January 29th, 2012 at 8:56 am by David Farrar

Deborah Coddington writes in the HoS:

It’s official: we’re a nation of idiots who can’t make decisions to save ourselves or take responsibility for our problems.

That’s according to two academics from Otago University, researchers in public health, Dr Gabrielle Jenkin and Penny Field, who specialise in the obesity epidemic.

Interviewed this week by Kathryn Ryan on National Radio, Field tossed off a comment which sent me into deep despair. Obesity, she said, was “not a problem with individual choice and self-discipline, which we’ve proved successfully doesn’t work”.

Instead it’s the fault of “big institutions and the market”.

Actually the problem is lack of market forces. Make overweight people pay more to fly, and pay more for healthcare and you’ll see more people lose weight.

This attitude from academics is patronising and silly. Yes, there are some grossly obese people for whom stomach-stapling is the only resort, so impossible is it for them to lose weight, but they’re a small minority.

For the rest of us, choice and self-discipline most definitely does work. Eat less food, whatever that may be, and exercise more. If we jettison that weapon in the weight-control battle, what next? Budgeting? Fighting fraud? Why bother prosecuting directors of finance companies who fail to protect the savings of investors by exercising self-discipline and choice, but excuse themselves by saying they were victims of the global financial crisis?

Jenkin’s final words were that the food industry needs to be held accountable for obesity. No. Individuals need to be held accountable and stop blaming food and its makers for their problem.

Hear hear.

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General Debate 29 January 2012

January 29th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Pike River recovery

January 28th, 2012 at 3:08 pm by David Farrar

Michael Daly at Stuff reports:

Recovery of the bodies of the men killed in the Pike River Coal mine disaster is not expected to be completed for at least 3 1/2 years, a new independent report says.

The estimates in the draft independent review by engineer Bruce McLean depend on a successful sale of the mine.

Even with a sale, the report does not expect recovery of the bodies until some time between July 2015 and June 2017.

That timetable depends on the completion of a new shaft or tunnel to establish a ventilation circuit by June 2014.

This report or review was commissioned by the families of the dead miners. While the conclusions are probably not the ones they hoped for, it is good they agree with the advice from the receivers and the Government that one can’t just rush in them in a matter of weeks or months.

The fact the Government won’t consent to a transfer of the license unless the new owner agrees to do best efforts to recover the bodies means that eventually they will recover the bodies or remains, I believe. It will be important closure for the families.

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Whoops

January 28th, 2012 at 2:57 pm by David Farrar

Whale has the photo of what happens if I back out too quickly of an unfamiliar driveway. I needed to get to a NZ Post store quickly to do a Western Union transfer and backed out the drive. I backed in a nice straight line, but the problem was the driveway wasn’t straight :-)

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Labor own goal

January 28th, 2012 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

An Australian Prime Ministerial staffer has been linked to yesterday’s ugly protest incident in Canberra, forcing his resignation and acutely embarrassing PM Julia Gillard.

In an early evening statement, the Prime Minister dismissed as ‘false’ claims that one of her staff had spoken to people at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy prior to yesterday’s angry protest that temporarily trapped her and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

But Ms Gillard acknowledges that a member of her media unit ‘did call another individual yesterday and disclose the presence of the Opposition Leader at the Lobby restaurant. This information was subsequently passed on to a member of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.’ …

He is Tony Hodges, one of four press secretaries working in Julia Gillard’s media unit.

The link is deeply embarrassing for the Prime Minister and leaves her shouldering some of the blame for an incident where many had pinned responsibility on Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.

This is typical Australian Labor tactics.  The press secretary would have leaked the info, hoping it would lead to anti-Abbott protests.

Instead it led to his own boss having to be dragged out by Police. And now they can’t blame anyone else for it.

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General Debate 28 January 2012

January 28th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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WCC spy car reined in

January 28th, 2012 at 7:48 am by David Farrar

Bronwyn Torrie at Stuff reports:

Wellington’s most loathed car will be reined in and reviewed after public outrage.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has ordered a review of the Parkwise spy car after growing pressure for it to be scrapped. It follows a flurry of complaints about unreasonable parking fines and overzealous operators.

The car will be limited to monitoring school zones – its original purpose – while the review is done.

Hopefully it will stay focused on school zones rather than revenue maximisation.

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Auckland needs to get bigger

January 27th, 2012 at 3:32 pm by David Farrar

In my Herald column I argue Auckland needs to get bigger:

I’m not sure if Aucklanders are aware how much is at stake with this Auckland plan. Do they want a city where almost half the dwellings are apartments?

The other impact of this proposed intensification will be on house prices. Currently there are 400,000 houses and 100,000 apartments for 1.5 million Aucklanders. By 2040 there would be 2.5 million Aucklanders competing for only 500,000 houses. I can’t think of anything more guaranteed to push house prices up massively so only the rich can afford one.

House prices are deemed to start to become moderately unaffordable when the median house price is three times the median income, seriously unaffordable at four times and severely unaffordable at five times.

In Auckland the median house price is currently 6.4 times the median income.

Under the draft Auckland plan, Auckland could by 2040 end up like Hong Kong – where house prices are more than ten times the median household income. Again, this will restrict ownership to the wealthy, but also lead to rents significantly increasing as a proportion of income. Already a growing number of families are paying more than 30% of their income in rent. Under the intensification plan, some families could end up having to spend over half their income on rent.

I conclude:

Auckland needs to grow outwards as well as upwards. A plan to have 75% of new dwellings occur within the current urban limit is too draconian. A 50/50 split would be a far better balance for Auckland’s future. The Government and the Productivity Commission have both asked the Council to alter their plan, to allow the city to grow outwards as well as upwards. I hope they listen.

If they don’t, I pity those under 20, who will have to live with the consequences.

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