Archive for May, 2012

Judge says citizenship grant “highly suspicious”

May 31st, 2012 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff report:

A High Court judge has ruled that the way Chinese millionaire Yong Ming Yan was granted citizenship was “highly suspicious”. 

The full decision is online here.

I step back now and look at the evidence as a whole. Overall, it proves a situation that is highly suspicious. An adult male obtains two passports in different names and with different dates of birth. He uses them both to access Australia and the United States of America. He uses one of them to access New Zealand. He does not disclose his dual identities. New Zealand immigration documents are filled in and in some cases signed on his behalf. Four of the five are false in that they assert that there is no other identity. Regardless of the validity of the passports, this proven situation is highly suspicious. But to move from highly suspicious to proof beyond reasonable doubt of dishonest intention, more is required.

Proof beyond reasonable doubt is a very high standard.

UPDATE: Have had pointed out the highly suspicious comments made by the Judge refer to the application for citizenship, rather than the decision itself – so the Stuff story is somewhat misleading in that regard.

 

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Riverdance

May 31st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I have always had a weakness for the Irish. I think it is their accents. At my university hostel there was a girl called Karen Quinn, who was Irish, and half the hostel had a crush on her – pretty much all due to her lilting accent.

So when I got offered review tickets to see the Irish dance sensation Riverdance, I didn’t need any persuasion to go. They are performing at the St James until 3 June, and then in Chch 5 to 10 June. The performance consists of 19 scenes in two acts, making it a compact two hour show (including interval).

There is a reason that Riverdance is a global sensation – they put on a world class performance. The dancing, which is the heart of the show, is sublime – but the music, the costumes and the singing are also very well done. They do around a dozen costume changes.

The 19 scenes each tell a story, and the costumes and special effects all combine together in harmony. I won’t detail all the scenes but will talk about what was by far my favourite scene. It was what I think of as the “dance off”, and they call “trading taps”. You have two “gangs” of dancers who at first dance alone, but then noticing each other confront each other as in their distinct styles dance into each other’s territory. This is fun enough, but the real hilarity starts when the two groups start to do parodies of the other’s dancing styles. Most of the audience were cracking up with laughter at this scene. It really is too funny for words.

Also worth noting is the scene with the lead male dancer in tight leather pants. God knows how one can dance wearing them, but he did. And the female members of the audience appreciated the spectacle greatly. The men, less so.

While a great performance overall, there was one aspect that didn’t quite resonate with me. There was quite a bit of time where it was just music, without dancing. People came to see the dancing, and you lose interest a bit when there are segments with music only. The exception was when they had the lead female singer on. Her voice was piercingly beautiful, and she could do a solo show.

Overall it was a great night’s entertainment. It is their final tour of New Zealand so it was great to see them for the first and sadly probably the last time.

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Proofing Craccum

May 31st, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Blockade the Budget Editorial

A reader has sent in this Craccum editorial, where they have marked up the huge number of basic grammar errors.

I think this proves the need for a greater focus on quality of education, not on sheer numbers attending!

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Winston at his finest

May 31st, 2012 at 2:27 pm by David Farrar

Have a look at Winston in the Budget debate, at his finest. From around 7:50 to 11:30 he works through MPs and comments:

  • Calls Paula Bennett a Kate Moss look-a-like
  • Refers to Melissa Lee as Pyongyang (capital of North Korea)
  • Asks if there is a corner dairy available for Bakshi Singh
  • Then asks if there is a Chinese Restaurant left on Dominion Road for Dr Jian Yang
  • Calls Katrina Shanks Miss South Carolina
  • Calls Tau Henare an Uncle Tom

To think this man was Labour’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. And he is their path back to power.

Imagine if National MP had got up and spoke about Labour MPs in such a way. They would have denounced National as a racist and sexist party.

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Where your taxes go

May 31st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Worth checking out Where are my taxes. It details and shows graphically how much money per capita is spent on various activities. Some big items:

  • Superannuation $2,328
  • Primary schools $639
  • Family Tax Credits $480
  • Secondary schools $469
  • Tertiary Education $459
  • Domestic Purpose Benefit $413
  • Land and Transport $401
  • Student Loans $373
  • Early Childhood Education $313
  • Invalid’s Benefit $300
  • Accommodation Assistance $282
  • Unemployment Beneift $200
  • Sickness Benefit $177
  • Student Allowances $137
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Is Jones jumping?

May 31st, 2012 at 12:07 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

The tipline has been humming this morning with news about Shane Jones.

Several sources have confirmed that he is not happy with David Shearer for throwing him under the bus…the word is he even dropped the C-bomb in terse discussions with Shearer. He is set to announce his exit rather than wait around for up to year while the Auditor-General peers into his affairs as a minister.

Important to stress this is not verified, but I don’t think it is a surprise that Jones would be unhappy with what Shearer has done, considering that when the issue first arose Helen Clark refused to take any action at all. He would be thinking, why is there an inquiry three and a half years later?

UPDATE: I understand that one detail is not quite correct. It seems that Jones did not use the C word in the meeting with his Leader, but he used it afterwards in talking to other MPs about his leader!

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No action for copyright tribunal

May 31st, 2012 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The first “three strikes” notices issued to alleged internet pirates have not resulted in action before the Copyright Tribunal, where the accused could have been slapped with a fine of up to $15,000.

Both TelstraClear and Vodafone confirmed last month they had sent a “enforcement” notice to a customer at the request of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), which represents music and recording artists.

Under a law passed last year, internet providers are required to issue warning and enforcement notices to customers suspected of illegally downloading copyright content – such as movies or music – if a copyright holder requests it.

After a third notice, rights holders can bring a case before the Copyright Tribunal, which can fine an offender up to $15,000.

But according to intellectual property lawyer Rick Shera, a third notice (the “enforcement” notice) expires after 35 days and rights holders can only file action against an accused within that time.

I understand that in one of the case the “downloader” has contacted RIANZ and presumably reached some sort of agreement not to proceed. This is sensible, but it will be interesting to see what happens if a case ever does reach the tribunal to see what level of proof is needed, and what defence if any is put forward.

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A paid parental leave debate

May 31st, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The VUW Debating Society has a debate tonight on paid parental leave. It is in Rutherford House Lecture Theatre 2 starting at 6.30 pm.

The debaters are:

  • Sue Moroney, Labour Spokesperson for Women’s Affairs
  • Paul Callister, Victoria University of Wellington Economist
  • Barbara Lambourn, Advocacy Manager, UNICEF
  • Max Harris – Champion Debater
  • Richard D’Ath – Champion Debater
  • Olivia Hall – Rising Star Debater

Should be a good debate.

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The Jones inquiry

May 31st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Auditor-General is inquiring into the Jones/Liu affair. The terms of reference are:

The inquiry will examine: 

  • the policies and practices of the Department of Internal Affairs when advising the Minister on applications for citizenship, in particular where the applicant’s ‘good character’ is in question;
  • how and why the Minister decided to grant citizenship to Mr Yan; and
  • any other matters the Auditor-General considers it desirable to report on.

Francis Cooke QC has been appointed to lead the inquiry, which is being carried out under sections 16 and 18(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001. We will publish a report when the inquiry is completed.

It is a pity that the inquiry is into the citizenship issue only, as I think it would have been better to look into the totality of Yan’s dealings with the Government, and with Labour officials such as party fundraiser Shane Te Pou who was paid $5,000 to help Yan get citizenship.

On the positive side, the Auditor-General has the power to require people to provide information and to give evidence under oath.

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How about a permanent ankle bracelet?

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

Stuff reports:

One of New Zealand’s most dangerous drivers has just clocked up his 26th drink-driving conviction.

When Raymond Laing – who is already banned from driving indefinitely – was stopped in Napier last month, his breath test recorded 1198 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, almost three times the legal limit of 400mcg.

It was the seventh time the 44-year-old Hastings man had blown more than 1000mcg, and the 31st time he had been caught driving while disqualified.

Appearing in Napier District Court yesterday, he pleaded guilty to drink-driving and driving while disqualified. Judge Tony Adeane requested a probation report and remanded Laing in custody until July for sentencing.

In 2010, Laing was jailed for two years and six months for drink-driving, refusing to give blood, assault and dangerous driving causing injury. He was also indefinitely disqualified from holding a driver’s licence.

It is a minor miracle Laing has not killed someone yet, but it is only a matter of time.

I’m tempted to say he should be given the maximum sentence but it is only two years jail, or five years if he causes injury.

The problem is he then gets out, and maybe drives drunk a few dozen more times until he is caught again.

What *might* work is if he could be sentenced to wear an ankle bracelet with GPS, that would immediately alert Police if his speed is more than say 20 km/hr indicating he must be in a vehicle. They can then intercept the vehicle and arrest him if he is the driver. Knowing that they will know if he is in a vehicle, may actually discourage him from drink driving as certainty of being caught is a major deterrent.

If someone else is driving, then that is fine. But it doesn’t sound like he is someone who gets others to drive him often.

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General Debate 31 May 2012

May 31st, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Could be worse

May 31st, 2012 at 7:48 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is the latest international envoy to represent the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Mugabe gained the recognition despite a poor international reputation in which he is accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections and leading Zimbabwe’s ruined economy.

University of Zimbabwe politics professor John Makumbe was surprised by the accolade.

“I think it’s ridiculous because Zimbabwe is one of the countries least used by tourists,” said Makumbe.

“Tourism is at its lowest level because of the political and economic crises it’s gone through. Tourists really wish Victoria Falls was in another country, like South Africa.

It could be worse. At least he wasn’t appointed to a UN human rights tribunal.

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Collins seeks a declaration, not damages

May 30th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins is not seeking damages, but wants the court to declare she was defamed and to award her costs in her case against two Labour MPs.

This is a very smart move. It means that Mallard and Little can’t claim she is seeking to make money out of her lawsuit – she just want their (alleged) lies to be found to be false and defamatory. They had the choice of withdrawing their comments at no cost early on, or doing it at a later stage by which time there will be considerable costs (but not damages) attached to it.

Canterbury University law Professor Ursula Cheer said it was unusual not to seek damages.

“The most common remedies sought are an apology and damages.”

The provisions allowing a declaration had hardly ever been taken up, but they were a symbolic way to clear your reputation.

That was the point of including them in the law.

One could say that no one believes anything Trevor says anyway, so there was no point in taking proceedings. but it is possible there are some acolytes out there who do take his talk of anonymous e-mails proving his allegations, as literally true.

Collins has filed her claim in the High Court at Auckland despite the MPs being based in Wellington and the alleged defamatory comments being made in Wellington. As justice minister, Collins knew Auckland had the longest waiting list for civil hearings, Little said.

Umm Judith is an Auckland MP, and lives there most of the time. Where the comments were made has little bearing as they were broadcast on national radio. It seems pretty clear the ones trying to delay the case and Little and Mallard with their unsuccessful attempts to avoid being served.

Again, I look forward to their statements of defence. I hope Trevor especially refers to the anonymous e-mail he seems to be relying on, as I am sure the Judge will find that definitely constitutes proof.

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Winston may be right on this one

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

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has mounted a further attack on the Whanau Ora programme, describing it as a ‘bro-ocracy’ and questioning a $60,000 grant to a rugby club.

Mr Peters said the $60,000 grant was to the Rahui Rugby and Sports Club, based in Otaki “to research the vaguely-termed ‘whanau connectedness’ and ‘resilience’ in the community.”

He said it was ridiculous the Government considered a small rural sports club an appropriate body to undertake economic and social research.

On the face of it, I have to agree with Peters. There may be factors we do not know about, but on the surface it looks quite inappropriate.

I do support the Whanua Ora programme. Empowering communities to help improve social outcomes is a good thing. But those administering the grants need to apply a high level of scrutiny to ensure any grants are going to bodies that realistically can make a difference.

He said Whanau Ora’s Whanau Innovation, Integration and Engagement Fund should be dismantled and the funding passed onto experienced Maori providers.

Again, I might partially agree. Not to dismantle the fund, but to favour those with experience and a proven track record at delivering.

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No recovery for Pike

May 30th, 2012 at 2:27 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports that the families of those who died in the Pike River mine explosion have accepted it would risk further people dying to attempt a recovery of the bodies.

This is very sad for the families concerned but there may be a silver lining in that they will at least have some certainity. It is good that Solid Energy arranged for them to talk through all the issues around any recovery with the experts.

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A tactical retreat

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

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:

Schools will lose no more than two teaching positions under new class ratios in an embarrassing backdown by the Government after large intermediates were set to lose seven.

Education Minister Hekia Parata was forced to impose a cap after it became clear she could have a rebellion on her hands from schools and parents.

The $43 million a year that was to have been saved and diverted to improve teaching quality will be cut but Ms Parata did not know by how much.

Neither she nor Prime Minister John Key will admit that mistakes were made in calculating the effects of the new policy and yesterday she announced the cap as “good news”.

I think it is clear there was a mistake. The overall policy decision is still one I support – that given limited funding the priority should be on improving teacher quality rather than class size. But this was sold on the basis of a minor impact on schools and class sizes – 90% of schools having no or only a one teacher reduction.

It became apparent that some schools, mainly intermediates, would have an impact greater than minor. I’ve seen e-mails from principals talking of a 10% staffing cut. Hence the Government has moved to cap any loss at two teachers – which will probably be done by attrition.

There is a lesson here for Ministers when looking at changes like this. You can’t just look at the average impact. You need to get very detailed information on the tail, or those most affected. They are the ones whose impact will make the media. If (for example) 15 DHBs are getting extra funding of 3% and one DHB is getting a 10% funding cut, then I can guarantee the story will not be that 15 DHBs are getting 3% more, or even that funding is up 2.5% overall. You always need to be aware of those most impacted, and then if necessary mitigate that impact.

So overall not well handled by the Government. A lesson for the future.

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NZIER on economic growth

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

Brian Fallow at NZ Herald reports:

The economic recovery will pick up speed only slowly, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research says, as households shed debt and the Government withdraws stimulus amid anaemic world growth.

“The economy is stagnant,” says principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub, in the institute’s Quarterly Predictions, released today.

Historically low interest rates are not encouraging new borrowing and investing, as households and businesses focus instead on paying down debt.

Eaqub said periods of deleveraging typically lasted seven years, which would imply we still had the second half of the adjustment to go.

It is a good thing we are paying off debt, and saving more. But it does mean economic growth will remain fairly low for some time – in my opinion. No more debt fuelled growth followed by a crash hopefully.

The economy eked out growth of 1.1 per cent last year and NZIER is forecasting 1.5 per cent this year before it picks up to 2.5 per cent next year.

NZIER is among the more bearish forecasters. The consensus is 2.2 per cent growth this year and 3 per cent next year.

“We are less optimistic than most on the timing of the [Canterbury] rebuild, as we think persistent aftershocks, tougher building codes and insurance issues will slow Canterbury’s recovery,” Eaqub said.

I’m down in Christchurch on Friday, so will be interesting to see how the rebuild is going. I think the really big issues are the cost of the new building code, and the private insurers.

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Should .nz domain names be available at the second level?

May 30th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Domain Name Commission Ltd has published:

The Domain Name Commission is proposing to extend the .nz domain name space by allowing anybody to register domain names at the ‘second level’.  This has the potential to significantly alter New Zealand’s domain name space so it’s important we get your views.

This is a proposal for consultation, so the DNCL is keen to get views and submissions from people. Note I am a Director of the DNCL.

Basically the change means that (for example) Trade Me could try and register trademe.nz rather than trademe.co.nz. For individuals such as MPs, it could mean they could get (again for example) simonbridges.nz rather than have to decide whether to get simonbridges.co.nz or simonbridges.net.nz or simonbridges.org.nz etc.

Note that the proposal is not to close registrations in the existing sub-domains such as co.nz, org.nz. The proposal is that people have a choice of registering at the second level or at the third level, or both.

They key features of the proposal are:

  • Registration of .nz domain names could be at the second or third levels on an ongoing basis.
  • Existing second level domains (such as .co.nz) will remain and continue to be supported.
  • There will be no impact on any currently registered .nz domain names.
  • Registrations at the second level will be on a “first come, first served” basis, except during the Sunrise Period and where there are currently multiple registrations of the same name in different second level domains.
  • The Sunrise Period will be a designated window, where existing .nz domain name holders (registrants) can register their domain name/s at the second level if they are the only one that has that name at the third level.
  • If two or more domain name holders have the same name at the third level, no-one  will be able to register that name at the second level unless they obtain the consent of the other third level name holders. Alternatively, if all agree, it could become a second level domain instead.
  • A temporary amendment to the Dispute Resolution Service Policy to cover sub-domains of generic domain names registered at the second level.

There is a consultation paper online here. I encourage those with an interest in this to read the paper, and hopefully respond to it.

Each section of the Consultation Paper raises specific questions.  Please respond to these questions or, more generally, to any of the issues raised through the online response from athttps://www.research.net/s/dnc_consultation1

Submissions can also be made by email to policies@dnc.org.nz, by fax to (04) 495 2115, or by mail to P O Box 11881, Wellington.  The closing date for submissions is midday on Thursday 27 September 2012. 

More links and info are on this page.

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Plagiarism?

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

Whale Oil quotes The Standard quoting David Cunliffe:

It’s a budget that picks pennies out of the pockets of children with after-school jobs, raids the piggy banks of the elderly with prescriptions to fill, crushes the dreams of many university hopefuls and attacks those with the least power to defend themselves. Not only is the budget not brave, it is possibly the most cowardly thing I’ve seen in my life.

Whale highlights a letter to the editor which said:

A budget which has the worst growth in 50 years, sees 50,000 people moving to Australia and has 50,000 more people on benefits. It’s a budget that picks pennies out of the pockets of children with after-school jobs, raids the piggy banks of the elderly with prescriptions to fill, crushes the dreams of many university hopefuls and attacks those with the least power to defend themselves. Not only is the budget not brave, it is possibly the most cowardly thing I’ve seen in my life.

So who is the original author and who is the plagiarist? Worth finding out.

UPDATE: No plagiarism at all. It seems David Cunliffe liked the quote on someone’s Facebook page, meaning it appeared on his timeline, and The Standard misattributed the quote to Cunliffe.

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The Eurocalypse Now debate

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

Thanks to the NZ Initiative I was able to attend the Eurocalypse debate at the Auckland War Memorial Museum last week. Cam Browne was also there and has blogged on it. The pro-EU speaker commented that given the timing of the debate (new Greek elections just called), that he felt like someone preaching contraception to the College of Cardinals :-)

I won’t cover the debate in full, but it was a good example of the NZ Initiative can contribute to public policy discussions in New Zealand. There was one statement by MEP Dan Hannan which resonated with me.

Hannan said that the reason the UK (and other countries) went into the EU was the promise of prosperity. No country wants to surrender political sovereignty, unless there are benefits for them in doing so. The trade-off for surrendering power to the EU, was that they were forming a prosperous and powerful trading bloc. Europe would rival the United States as an economic super-power.

Two issues have undermined those benefits. One is the declining power of the EU in the global economy, as Asia especially grows. Growth in the EU is fairly minimal in the older member countries (but quite strong in the new economies). Already the EU has shrunk to just under 30% of the global economy. By 2050, it will be just 15% they project.

Worth noting the original EEC cost only 0.03% of European GDP. The EU now costs 1%, or 30 times that.

Now also put on top of that the Euro crisis, as weak economies threaten even the healthier EU economies. It becomes apparent that the rationale of greater economic prosperity in return for surrendering political sovereignty has disappeared.  Hannan asked if either major party in the UK would propose joining the EU today, if it were not already a member. He says there is no chance at all.

So Hannan advocates that the UK leave the EU, but like Switzerland and Norway sign free trade agreements with the EU, so you get the benefits without the loss of control. Hannan said he thought a referendum on the UK staying in the EU was inevitable, but conceded to the other speaker that it is quite possible the UK would vote to remain, as the two main parties would both campaign to stay in there.

So it was an interesting debate, which I hope we will see more of. Also worth highlighting a profile and interview in the Listener of Initiative Executive Director Oliver Hartwich. Some extracts:

“Thank God for the porn industry,” he wrote in a newspaper column two years ago. “The seemingly questionable industry does not care about morality, but is nevertheless a constant source of innovation and social improvement.” The column lauded the industry for the development of 3D films, predicting the technology – if not the content – could be used by schools to make geography and chemistry lessons much more interesting. “With some justification, sexual needs could be called the mother of the web’s invention. Without streaming videos of screaming porn stars, bandwidth would not have been added so fast to the global net,” he suggested.

Oliver is not the only person to have noted the Internet porn industry has had a considerable part in the development of the Internet.

Since the end of the gold standard in the US in 1971 – which required the US dollar to be backed by a fi xed amount of gold – money has had no intrinsic value. Hartwich believes we need to again anchor the monetary system to a commodity – although not necessarily gold, and maybe a mixture of commodities. He’s not a lone voice on this. In 2010, World Bank president Robert Zoellick called for a return to the gold standard, saying the world needed a more co-operative monetary system and should “consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values”.

Hartwich’s friend and colleague Detlev Schlichter, author of Paper Money Collapse, says the financial crisis is not an accident of capitalism but the “unavoidable consequence of the political decision to abandon a gold standard and to adopt in 1971 a system of unrestricted fiat money creation”. Hartwich believes New Zealand and Australia should consider moving their currencies to some “new system of commodity banking”, although he hasn’t got a recipe for how that could be done.

A return to the gold standard is far from the orthodox view. Would be quite interesting to hear maybe Oliver and the Reserve Bank Governor debate whether we should return to commodity based currencies. I’m personally not convinced, but have never heard anyone except the anti-monetarist lunatics of Social Credit advocate this. It would be good to hear a more rational debate.

Although international leaders promoting stimulus packages often say they are following the path of British economist John Maynard Keynes, Hartwich claims they often misrepresent his actual writings. “Keynes never said you can spend and spend and spend.” In the 1920s, Keynes even said that government should make up no more than 25% of the economy. “That would make him a neoliberal by some standards today,” Hartwich chuckles.

A good reminder.

Hartwich is obviously well to the right of centre, yet he is not an aggressive tax cutter. He agrees there is a relationship between economic growth and levels of taxation, but he derides last decade’s Bush tax cuts in the US as “fiscally irresponsible” and does not believe governments should go into deficit to fund them.

I agree. Spending has to be under control to cut taxes.

Asked about his top priorities for New Zealand, he names education and housing policy. He also wants to examine social issues such as mental health. He worked for 15 months in a mental health institution as a young man “because I didn’t want to join the army”, and was moved by the experience.

Glad to see education on the list.

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Keep it 18 reason #2

May 30th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Yesterday I blogged how research showed that the prevalence of youth drinking has in fact been significantly dropping in New Zealand. Today I want to focus on reason no 2 not to increase the purchase age.

Increasing the purchase age will dilute the message not to supply to minors

One of the most important changes proposed in the Alcohol Reform Act is to make it an offence to supply alcohol to minors without parental permission. I supports this new law, as a major flaw in the current law is that (for example) it is currently legal for any adult to supply beer, wine or even spirits to a 14 year old.

I believe we need both a law change and a culture change where it is illegal and “uncool” to supply alcohol without parental permission to those not able to legally purchase it for themselves – just as over the past few decades it has become “uncool” to drink and drive.

But increasing the purchase age to 20 for off licenses, will work against achieving a culture of not supplying alcohol to those who can not purchase alcohol for themselves. 18 and 19 year olds are legally not minors and hence the new law making it an offence to supply alcohol to minors without parental consent will not apply to them. What this means is that if the purchase age is increased it will be legal for a 20 year old to supply alcohol to a 19 year old (who can not legally purchase it), but illegal to supply it to an 18 year old. This will be confusing and work against achieving a culture where no one supplies alcohol to those unable to purchase it for themselves, without parental consent.

The only way to achieve a culture of non-supply is to have the purchase age the same as the age at which a minor becomes an adult – which is 18. That will be consistent and maximise the chance of the new non-supply law being respected.

A purchase age of 20 will encourage a culture of supplying to those under the purchase age. This works directly against the other reforms in the Alcohol Reform Bill to prevent supply to minors.

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Greens are using taxpayer funds for CIR petition

May 30th, 2012 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

I have had it confirmed that the Greens are using taxpayer funds to hire staff to collect signatures for the asset sales petition, as speculated yesterday.

This is effectively an abuse of what the CIR process is about. First of all the idea behind citizen’s initiated referenda are that it gives a chance for non MPs to petition Parliament and force a vote on an issue. It has never before been used by the losing parties in a general election to try and over-throw the results of an election, by holding a referendum on the policy which was at the centre of the election campaign. The history of CIR is that they have been on issues for which no party had explicitly campaigned at a previous election.

So bad enough that Labour and the Greens are pushing a referendum on a policy that was debated for 11 months during the election campaign, but even worse that the Greens are using some of their $1.3m of taxpayer funding to purchase signatures for the petition. The same Greens who decry money in politics. CIR are meant to be about showing the level of community support for a vote on an issue. Using taxpayer funds to hire people to collect signatures will demonstrate little other than how much taxpayer money the Greens are prepared to spend on it.

So much for being the party of grass-roots activism.

At least it is a step up from the Labour MP who was paying an 11 year old girl $10 an hour to wave Labour Party placards during the election campaign.

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General Debate 30 May 2012

May 30th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Keep the Internet open

May 29th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

An op-ed in the NY Times by father of the Internet Vint Cerf:

The Internet stands at a crossroads. Built from the bottom up, powered by the people, it has become a powerful economic engine and a positive social force. But its success has generated a worrying backlash. Around the world, repressive regimes are putting in place or proposing measures that restrict free expression and affect fundamental rights. The number of governments that censor Internet content has grown to 40 today from about four in 2002. And this number is still growing, threatening to take away the Internet as you and I have known it.

It is no longer only China and Iran.

Some of these steps are in reaction to the various harms that can be and are being propagated through the network. Like almost every major infrastructure, the Internet can be abused and its users harmed. We must, however, take great care that the cure for these ills does not do more harm than good. The benefits of the open and accessible Internet are nearly incalculable and their loss would wreak significant social and economic damage.

Not all censorship of the Internet is done for bad intentions. UK PM David Cameron said he wanted the ability to turn off Twitter as it may have been used by criminals during the London rioting. Now that may be with good intentions, but then Iran would be turning it off during the pro-democracy protests.

Against this background, a new front in the battle for the Internet is opening at the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations organization that counts 193 countries as its members. It is conducting a review of the international agreements governing telecommunications and aims to expand its regulatory authority to the Internet at a summit scheduled for December in Dubai.

This should be of great concern to everyone. The reason the Internet has had the success it has had, is because it grew under the open processes of the IETF and IAB, not the bureaucratic monstrosity known as the ITU.

Such a move holds potentially profound — and I believe potentially hazardous — implications for the future of the Internet and all of its users.

Quite simply, it must not be allowed to happen.

Each of the 193 members gets a vote, no matter its record on fundamental rights — and a simple majority suffices to effect change. 

Total up all the countries that are not true democracies, and you get close to a majority.

Last June, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated the goal of Russia and its allies as “establishing international control over the Internet” through the I.T.U. And in September 2011, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan submitted a proposal for an “International Code of Conduct for Information Security” to the U.N. General Assembly, with the goal of establishing government-led “international norms and rules standardizing the behavior of countries concerning information and cyberspace.”

China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – what could go wrong.

Several authoritarian regimes reportedly would ban anonymity from the Web, which would make it easier to find and arrest dissidents. Others have suggested moving the privately run system that manages domain names and Internet addresses to the United Nations.

Governments could use the domain name system to force compliance with their censorship desires.

The decisions taken in Dubai in December have the potential to put government handcuffs on the Net. To prevent that — and keep the Internet open and free for the next generations — we need to prevent a fundamental shift in how the Internet is governed.

I hope the NZ Government takes this issue seriously and makes sure we advocate as strongly as we can that the ITU should have no role in Internet governance,, beyond its current mandate with telecommunication standards.

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Are the Greens using taxpayer funds to get signatures for their petition?

May 29th, 2012 at 4:05 pm by David Farrar

Inventory2 at Keeping Stock blogs:

We’ve just been alerted to something very interesting on Twitter; check out this vacancy on the Student Job Search website:

That’s right Dear Readers; the Green Party, that last bastion of honesty and principle in New Zealand politics is paying people to go out and collect signatures for their petition against the Government’s Mixed Ownership Model, which they still misleadingly refer to as “Asset Sales”.
Two questions come to mind immediately; is it so hard to get people to sign this petition that the Green Party has to pay for people to accost members of the public and bully them into signing; rather like Scientologists do? And can the Green Party give us a categorical assurance that no taxpayer funds are being spent on this initiative?
The category the job is listed under is “Central Government”, so on the face of it the Greens could be using their parliamentary funding to pay people to get signatures for their petition.
Even if the funding is from the Greens, not the taxpayer, I have to say I have never heard of a political party paying students to collect petition signatures before. Isn’t that what you have umm activists for? What does it mean, that they can’t find an activist in Christchurch willing to collect signatures for them?
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