Archive for August, 2012

The drinking age debate – hopefully now over

August 31st, 2012 at 2:42 pm by David Farrar

This has been the third vote on the so called drinking (actually purchase) age in 13 years. Hopefully it is the last one, so we can focus on changes which will (in my opinion) make more of an impact on reducing harm from alcohol.

I want to blog why this has been such a big issue for me, and for so long. And no it is not as Damien Christie suggested so I can pick up drunk 18 year old girls in bars (that falls into the coincidental side-effects category 🙂 – note I am kidding).

I regularly get inspired by young adults who have such obviously huge potential and greatness. They literally represent our future – as a country, and as a species.

I spent many years as a venturer leader, working with 14 to 19 year olds. In the absence of being a parent, it is a great experience to see a young person become an young adult, who has their whole life ahead of them, and has so much to contribute.

Just two weekends ago I was blown away by the attitudes and skills of the 750 students at The Big Sing. Awesome. It made me positive about NZ.

In my own business, I’ve had several students work for me in a management and supervisory role. Despite being just 20, 19 and even once 18 they have done great jobs. They think of ways to improve the business I would have never thought of. They come up with great ideas, they do business process improvements without even checking with me. People such as Anna, Kerry, Malia, Jess, Mitch and Steffi actually inspire me. I wish I was that good at their age.

Being involved with Keep It 18 a couple of years ago, I was blown away by the maturity and political skills of Nicola Wood who was just 19, yet had such great passion and determination.

How can you not be inspired by Sam Johnson and the Student Volunteer Army? They did it all by a simple message on Facebook.

While I have not met her, I find Brittany Trilford, who addressed the Rio Earth summit, an inspiring person. I don’t agree with her political views, but she spoke so well.

In the Young Nats, I meet such awesome people who care so much about their country – and will make such a contribution. And despite their age I see people such as Daniel, Sean, Shaun and Megan turn into smooth effective lobbyists on issues that if they formed a company they could probably charge $300/hr 🙂

I am a big fan of the student media. Holly Walker stood out a great Critic Editor, and she is now a Green MP. Callum Federic at Critic  has managed to do one of the best interviews of a controversial I have seen. Elle Hunt, formerly of Salient, oozes talent and I have no doubt will become one of New Zealand’s best feature writers.

So when I see young adults I see so many awesome people, and that they represent a great future.

And what I have always hated about having a drinking age of 20, is the awful awful message it sends to 18 and 19 year olds. It is telling them they can not be trusted. That they are not deemed adults. That they should not inspire to greatness, because hell we can’t even trust you to buy a bottle of wine.

That is what has motivated me on this issue. It isn’t for me an alcohol issue or a health issue. It is an issue about allowing young 18 and 19 year old New Zealanders to achieve greatness.

Let me finish with a very pertinent story related to this.

I worked in the late 1990s for PM Jenny Shipley. As part of that job, I traveled with her to all the National Party Regional Conferences. At the Otago/Southland Regional Conference I saw that there was a remit put up by the Young Nationals on lowering the drinking age from 20 to 18.

When I was myself a Young Nat, I had advocated for lowering the drinking age, and was delighted to see the Young Nats were still fighting the good fight. So I went up to them, introduced myself to them and said I was happy to help them with their speeches. The Young Nat moving the remit identified herself and said that would be great. I made a few suggestions about lines to use, and recall as an 18 year old she was unusually stubborn as she refused to use what I thought was the best line (which was fine).

Anyway she successfully persuaded the quite conservative region to vote for lowering the drinking age to 18. And as it happens within 12 months Parliament did vote to lower the drinking age.

That 18 year old Young Nat is now the MP for Auckland Central, who just successfully moved the amendment in Parliament to keep the drinking age at 18.

That reinforces for me why it was and is so important not to treat 18 and 19 year olds as if they are all out of control untrustworthy alcohol abusers. So many of them go on to become awesome people, and do awesome things.

Defending Banksie

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

Guy McCallum blogs:

There are politicians in this world who clearly just don’t get it. It is not always because they are incompetent or corrupt, though we can pronounce these two conditions as leading causes. No, I think it is chiefly because they are scared witless by the fact that they know they have lost touch. And so much do they value their own hides that they won’t admit it, and sadly, won’t admit to the change of heart they know is necessary.

This week, and in particular, we have learned that this is not John Banks. He changed his mind on marriage equality (and by all accounts, over time), and while he might have been seen to be uncomfortable about it in front of the camera, he was most certainly undaunted by the prospect of others seeing his change of heart.

Along comes Duncan Garner of 3 News to ruin what was for a lot of people, a moment in history. He, in my view, unfairly criticised Banks for his position on marriage equality, which seemed to surprise people. Then Garner, holding onto the past with a death grip, wouldn’t let us forget the unfortunate comments that Banks had made a substantial amount of time ago, without a much deserved context.

Garner then questioned whether Banks was a joke, for doing something as heroic as changing one’s mind, in extending legal rights to a section of society that has long deserved them.

One must wonder why gutless politicians won’t ever admit they’ve changed their minds for the good. They do so, apparently, at their own peril.

Instead, they prefer the slow death of seeming evermore out of touch and on the way out to the hard questions they might get if they were just honest. Just look at the People’s Phil Goff who could not steel himself to admit that he was once a neo-liberal, while he crusaded about as Labour’s social democrat. If he had the courage to say he’d changed his mind, maybe he’d still be in the front row of the opposition benches.

My mission in writing this is point out why Garner got it wrong. I think the emotive inclinations that so many in his profession give into, led him astray. For changing his mind, Garner seemed unwilling to forgive whatever it was that Banks must have done to him. In doing so, Garner teaches us a rather valid lesson here – that a grudge can work its mischief upon its master if should they overlook the rational thinking processes that almost everybody has.

John voted for marriage equality because it was the right thing to do. He has very little to explain in this regard. Though, as I write this, there are politicians who voted against marriage equality, now frantic about what they should do next to avoid being lumped in with crazy Colin Craig. Wondering, that is, how to explain their failure to act with courage to those who expected more of them.

Doing something because it is right requires tremendous strength of mind (endurance I would say) which is not easy to find. Its the high road and the narrow path. On the other hand, being negative about someone’s change of heart under these conditions is too easy, and something easy as such is cheap as well.

I wish that every member of Parliament would have the same courage that John Banks and those others put on display, for whom voting in favour of marriage equality was an intrepid but rewarding journey.

I was thrilled when I heard that John was voting for marriage equality, which was a few days before the decision was made public. I know he thought long and hard about his vote, and talked the issues through with a lot of his friends – as Paul Hutchison did also.

The comments John Banks made in 1986 will always remain on the record. But his views have changed over time – this is not a sudden about-face, but a journey.

When John was an MP in the 1990s, one of the researchers who was a reasonably good mate of his was Paul Sherriff. Paul happened to also win Mr Gay Wellington. Now I’m not arguing the “he has black friends so is not racist” card, but am pointing out that even in the 1990s his views were not the same as in 1986. Also he could seperate out his views on the issue, from how he treats individuals.

When he was Mayor of Auckland, his Chief of Staff was Stephen Rainbow. This is a job appointed by the Mayor himself. Stephen is gay, and John and Stephen had an excellent friendship and working relationship. Through Stephen, he saw a couple in a loving stable and happy same sex relationship.

Without that exposure to a loving stable same sex relationship, it is possible John may have never voted for the first reading of Louisa Wall’s bill. Our experiences help shape us.

As I said in the Listener profile, I was anti homosexual law reform when I was a 17 year old at school. It was the experiences and friendships that I developed at university that caused my views to shift quite radically on that issue. I believe it is a good thing when views genuinely change over time – something to be celebrated not ridiculed.

Now I am not suggesting today that John’s views are in any way the same as mine on social and moral issues. What I am saying is that I do believe he accepted the case that allowing a loving same sex couple to marry, is actually good for the institution of marriage.

I salute him for his vote (though I do wish he had articulated his reasons publicly) on both bills this week.

An appalling judgement

August 31st, 2012 at 1:02 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An investment banker who ran over a man, breaking both his legs, was being a protective dad trying to keep his daughter safe, a court has heard.

Guy Hallwright, 60, has been sentenced to 250 hours of community work, banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay $20,000 reparations to the man he drove over.

The sentence per se is bad enough but what really aggravates me, but the comments by the Judge. On the sentence though consider this from another story:

“$20,000, that’s it?” his victim said yesterday.

Mr Kim still hobbles, two years after he was run over by Hallwright on Mt Eden Rd.

His lower legs are swollen, bruised and scarred and he winced as he slowly lowered himself to sit on the steps of the South Auckland warehouse he calls home.

He said the surgery on his legs – he would probably need six operations in total – would cost about $150,000.

And on the comments by Judge Neave

Judge Neave criticised media this morning for referring to the offence as a “hit and run”, saying Hallwright was driving “away” from the situation, which had escalated in seriousness by the actions of Mr Kim banging on the bonnet.

“What I know of your character … I consider it highly unlikely you would have driven at him,” Judge Neave said.

He said describing the incident as a hit and run was “irresponsible and inappropriate”.

Yes, just because you hit him, and ran away, is no reason to call it a hit and run. What is fucking irresponsible is running someone over and what is inappropriate is not stopping and calling medical assistance.

Judge Neave criticised elements of the publicity and, during this morning’s sentencing, suppressed aspects of Hallwright’s employment.

The suppressed information was a factor taken into account by Judge Neave who said Hallwright had been the subject of “a degree of prurient media interest that can only be described as vulgar in the extreme”.

Judge Neave said as a result of media reports on Hallwright, “less-considered members of the public” had responded to him and his employer in ways which were “as offensive as they were inappropriate”.

Judge Neave said Hallwright was a contributor to society with a “spotless reputation” and “impeccable character”.

Impeccable – apart from running someone over in your car and not stopping to call medical assistance. Spotless – so this doesn’t even qualify as a spot.

I hate this crap – you are “one of us”, a “contributor to society” so how dare you be criticized for running the angry Chinaman over. I couldn’t stop the jury finding you guilty, but I can tell the media off about how you really are the victim.

It is worse as reported by Stuff:

Judge Neave told the court that Hallwright was one of society’s contributors who had suffered humiliation because of the Crimes Act charge.

He criticised the crown saying the charge, which a jury found proven, should have been laid under the weaker Land Transport Act.

Hallwright had suffered severe humiliation “well in excess of that required by the gravity of the offence”, the judge said.

Good God. I thought victim impact statements were for the victim, not for the criminal. Poor diddums – he got humiliated because he ran someone over and left the scene without calling medical assistance.

The judge condemned media for their “unhealthy degree of glee of the misfortunate of someone who might be in a more fortunate position….

“Indeed I have wondered at some length whether or not if this had been an encounter between two teenage boys on the backstreets of Manukau whether we would be here today.”

Yeah, because no one cares if black boys run over black boys. As Whale said, if it had happened in Manukau, then Mr Hallwright would probably have a lot more than $20,000 to worry about.

Kim had claimed to be in front of the car when he was hit, but Judge Neave said given Hallwright’s character he did consider it highly unlikely.

What a pity, that annoying jury disagreed.

This is a good reminder why we have jury trials. The jury system has its flaws, but this case doesn’t do a lot to bolster the respect for the judiciary.

I often have criticised sentences, but normally am very careful not to criticise the Judge themselves. They are doing a tough job. But when a Judge makes comments like this, then I make a rare exception and will criticise the Judge. His comments were appalling.

Under the government’s three strikes law, Judge Neave said he was required to warn Hallwright this was the first of his three strikes.



MPs overall voting pattern

August 31st, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

It is very rare to have two major conscience issues in two days. The downside is it is exhausting. The upside is it means even more analysis! I’ve done a table showing how each MP voted on both issues.

I’ve applied labels of “liberal” for those who voted for marriage equality and 18 purchase age (on 1st or 2nd ballot). Yes I know I said you can be conservative and vote for same sex marriage. Labels are never wholly accurate. It’s just a convenient term in this case – not a tag for life.

Those who voted against marriage equality bill and for a 20 purchase age get the “conservative” label.

And those who voted for marriage equality but a 20 purchase age or against marriage equality and an 18 purchase age, I have cheekily labelled “confused” 🙂

So, applying the normal analysis to the Parliament, we have:

So overall 56 MPs voted “liberal”, 29 MPs “conservative” and 36 MPs were “confused” or as they might call it, moderate 🙂

What demographics stand out?

Electorate and List MPs are roughly equally liberal and conservative.

Female MPs are definitely more liberal. Male MPs are split almost three ways between liberal, conservative and confused.

European and Maori MPs are more liberal than Asian and Pacific MPs.

MPs aged in their 40s are more conservative then those both younger and older than them.

Wellington and Christchurch have almost no conservative MPs – just three out of 28.

Rural MPs are slightly more liberal than provincial MPs. South Island more liberal than North Island also.

The Cabinet has eight liberals, eight confused and four conservative.

There are no “conservative” gay or lesbian MPs – but three of them are confused 🙂

The MPs who entered in 1980s and 2002 are most liberal. The 2011 intake is the most conservative.

Abigail and Brittany Hensel

August 31st, 2012 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

I like this photo of Abigail and Brittany Hensel, as it shows so well their different personalities. They are not one girl with two heads, but two girls with one body.

It is fascinating reading about them, and how they are such lovely well-balanced young adults, when they must have had so much more challenge that the rest of us.

In medical terms, their body is fascinating:

  • 2 heads, 2 spines, 2 spinal cords, 2 hearts, 4 lungs, 2 stomachs, 2 gall bladders, 3 kidneys
  • 2 arms, 1 broad ribcage, 2 breasts, 1 diaphragm, 1 liver, 1 bladder, 1 set of reproductive organs

The Daily Mail reports some fascinating aspects to their lives:

They also stunned doctors with their astonishing co-ordination while playing the piano, with Abigail taking the right-hand parts and Brittany the left.

They enjoyed sports such as bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball and swimming.

And on their 16th birthday they passed their driving test, a mind-boggling feat of teamwork with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel.

Speaking at the time, their mother Patty, a registered nurse, conceded that could have been a problem.

‘I don’t know what would happen if they got pulled over for speeding. Would they each get a ticket or just Abby because it’s her foot on the accelerator?’

Maybe they could get off by blaming each other 🙂

‘When children ask the girls if they have two heads, they say they don’t but that each has their own head. That’s what we have encouraged them to do, to develop their own individuality as much as possible.’

That has meant buying two seats every time they go to the cinema – even though only one will be used – separate meals and two different birthday cakes with candles each year. If one of the twins misbehaves, Patty and Mike are careful to scold the individual responsible – even if the other has been dragged unavoidably into the misdeed.

I like the buying two seats at the cinema, and yes it must be difficult for the parents not to instinctively tell both of them off for the misdeeds of one.

What is perhaps most touching about Abigail and Brittany, however, is their ability to get on – despite their different personalities. They seldom argue, despite Abigail always wanting to be the leader and – according to their mother – liking ‘to rule the whole house’.

One twin will scratch an itch the other cannot reach or hold her hand still so the other can count during a maths lesson and when Brittany was ill with pneumonia and couldn’t keep the medicine down, Abigail volunteered to take it in the hope of making her twin better.

All twins have a special bond, but that is really lovely.

What if one of the twins detests the boy the other one likes? Will they have children – a choice they must both make in tandem because they share one reproductive system?

There is no medical reason why they shouldn’t be able to have children and they have in the past said they would like to start a family.

That is certainly the most challenging area, but you know they have achieved so much already despite their so rare circumstances, than I think and hope they will.  They’ve already both graduated from university.

At first I was a bit sad they are doing a reality TV show, as I thought it might make them “celebrity freaks”, but I read how they hate people who stare and take photos of them. By doing the TV show, it will normalise them as people to millions of people – which means hopefully that in the future there will be less staring and photos.

Poor Iranian gamers

August 31st, 2012 at 11:13 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

 They’ve vanquished elves, trolls, and all manner of magical monsters. But one select group of online gamers is facing an even more formidable foe: The US sanctions regime.

Iranian players of “World of Warcraft,”; the massively popular online multiplayer franchise, have found themselves frozen out by Blizzard Activision Inc., the American company behind the game. Iranian role playing enthusiasts have spent much of the past week peppering Blizzard’s message board with complaints about how they weren’t able to log on to the service only to be told recently that US law was to blame.

“United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran,” the company said in an email sent to players last week and forwarded to The Associated Press late on Tuesday.

Now that’s a step too far. I’m all for sanctions which hurt the Government, but blocking poor Iranian gamers from WoW is just unfair.

Mind you, if there are enough of them, maybe this could be the spark that lights the revolution. They role the regime, so they can carry on with WoW!

Again – not given full details

August 31st, 2012 at 10:36 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Auckland schoolboy Peniata Junior Endermann is just 16 years old but already works 25 hours a week to help keep his siblings in school and provide the basic necessities for his family.

The Edgewater College student works from 5pm until 10pm Monday to Friday as a cleaner earning $13.85 per hour.

Between school, his job and homework Endermann puts in 16-hour days.

What great dedication to his family. That is a lot of responsibility for a 16 year old, and ideally no 16 year old should *have* to work 25 hours a week.

And the story states that he does *have* to work 25 hours a week so his family can make ends meet, but gives absolutely no details on which people can judge if that is the case.

The forum heard that one-parent working families were now experiencing severe financial hardship, young people were being forced into work through poverty and employment opportunities for school leavers were declining.

Endermann said he helped his mother, who also worked as a cleaner, to provide for his family and three siblings aged 15, 13 and nine.

“It is very hard to survive on my wage as it is not enough,” he said.

What we are not told, is how much income the family gets from:

  • The mother’s job as a cleaner (I’d assume $27,000 a year if FT)
  • Working for Families (I estimate $388 a week or close to $20,000 a year net)
  • Accommodation Supplement
  • Income from the Father
  • What their outgoings are

Now I’m not saying that if we knew all this, that the story would be wrong. It may be that the family really has no choice but to have their 16 year old son work 25 hours a week. My point is we are not given any information on which to make any sort of independent judgement – which makes the story more propaganda than information.


General Debate 31 August 2012

August 31st, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Friday Photo: 31 August

August 31st, 2012 at 7:25 am by Chthoniid

Sticking with the arachnid theme, here’s a nice profile shot of one of our more endearing native jumping spiders Trite planiceps.

The distinctive traits of these spiders are their very large eyes (they’re primarily a visual hunter) and their powerful front legs with spikes.

Click for larger, higher res image

The alcohol purchase age breakdowns

August 31st, 2012 at 7:18 am by David Farrar

Here is the party breakdown

18 Split/18 Split/20 20
National 20 10 9 20
Labour 16 6 5 7
Greens 13 1
NZ First 8
Maori 1 1 1
Mana 1
United 1
Total 50 18 15 38

So in total 30 National MPs voted for 18 and 29 for 20. The same ratio as on marriage equality (but different MPs). Labour had 22 for 18 and 12 for 20.

The other breakdowns are (based on final vote only):

All MPs 68 for 18 – 53 for 20
Electorate MPs 38 – 32
List MPs 30 – 21
Female MPs 23 – 16
Male MPs 45 – 37
Asian MPs 3 – 2
European MPs 52 – 37
Maori MPs 11 – 10
Pacific MPs 2 – 4
20s MPs – 2-0
30s MPs 10 – 3
40s MPs 17 – 21
50s MPs 28 – 20
60s MPs 11 – 8
70s MPs 1-0
Auckland MPs 25 – 17
Christchurch MPs 9 – 4
Provincial MPs 8 – 14
Rural MPs 14 – 14
Wellington MPs 12 – 4
North Island MPs 49 – 42
South Island MPs 19 – 11
Cabinet Ministers 11-9
All Ministers 14-12
Gay MPs 4-0
Lesbian MPs 1-2
“Straight” MPs 63 – 51
1970s MPs 0-1
1980s MPs 5-3
1990s MPs 13-7
2002 MPs 4-2
2005 MPs 10 – 14
2008 MPs 21 – 13
2011 MPs 14 – 13

So on the 2nd ballot, 18 was the preferred choice of all demographics except Pacific MPs, MPs in their 40s, provincial MPs, rural MPs (were tied), lesbian MPs and MPs who entered in 2005.

The strongest support for 18 came from female MPs, European MPs, MPs under 40, MPs in Wellington and Christchurch, MPs from the South Island, gay MPs and MPs who entered in 2008 or 1990.

How they voted on the alcohol purchase age

August 30th, 2012 at 11:59 pm by David Farrar

Thanks again to the very efficient Table Office in the Office of the Clerk for the voting details. I’ve combined the votes into the table below.

All 121 MPs voted, which is good. The first vote was 50 for 18, 38 for 20 and 33 for split age. Of the 33 for split age, 18 then voted for 18 and 15 voted for 20 making it 68 to 53.

The four categories of votes are below:

Voted 18

Ardern, Jacinda
Ardern, Shane
Barry, Maggie
Bennett, David
Bennett, Paula
Browning, Steffan
Carter, David
Chauvel, Charles
Clendon, David
Curran, Clare
Dean, Jacqui
Delahunty, Catherine
Dunne, Peter
Dyson, Ruth
Faafoi, Kris
Fenton, Darien
Finlayson, Christopher
Genter, Julie Anne
Hague, Kevin
Henare, Tau
Hipkins, Chris
Horomia, Parekura
Hughes, Gareth
Huo, Raymond
Hutchison, Paul
Jones, Shane
Kaye, Nikki
King, Colin
Lee, Melissa
Logie, Jan
Mackey, Moana
Mallard, Trevor
Mathers, Mojo
McCully, Murray
McKelvie, Ian
Norman, Russel
O’Connor, Simon
Prasad, Rajen
Robertson, Grant
Roche, Denise
Ross, Jami-Lee
Sage, Eugenie
Smith, Lockwood
Tirikatene, Rino
Turei, Metiria
Walker, Holly
Wilkinson, Kate
Williamson, Maurice
Woodhouse, Michael
Woods, Megan

Voted Split then 18

Banks, John
Brownlee, Gerry
Cunliffe, David
Dalziel, Lianne
English, Bill
Goldsmith, Paul
Groser, Tim
Guy, Nathan
Joyce, Steven
Key, John
Lees-Galloway, Iain
Parker, David
Shearer, David
Smith, Nick
Tisch, Lindsay
Turia, Tariana
Twyford, Phil
Wagner, Nicky

Voted Split then 20

Adams, Amy
Borrows, Chester
Clark, David
Coleman, Jonathan
Collins, Judith
Goff, Phil
Goodhew, Jo
Heatley, Phil
Little, Andrew
McClay, Todd
O’Connor, Damien
Sharples, Pita
Street, Maryan
Tremain, Chris
Young, Jonathan

Voted 20

Auchinvole, Chris
Bakshi, Kanwaljit Singh
Blue, Jackie
Bridges, Simon
Calder, Cam
Cosgrove, Clayton
Flavell, Te Ururoa
Foss, Craig
Graham, Kennedy
Harawira, Hone
Hayes, John
Horan, Brendan
King, Annette
Lotu-Iiga, Peseta Sam
Macindoe, Tim
Mahuta, Nanaia
Martin, Tracey
Mitchell, Mark
Moroney, Sue
Ngaro, Alfred
O’Rourke, Denis
Parata, Hekia
Peters, Winston
Prosser, Richard
Robertson, Ross
Roy, Eric
Ryall, Tony
Sabin, Mike
Shanks, Katrina
Simpson, Scott
Sio, Su’a William
Stewart, Barbara
Taylor, Asenati
Tolley, Anne
Upston, Louise
Wall, Louisa
Williams, Andrew
Yang, Jian

In a separate post I’ll do an analysis of the voting by demographics.

The alcohol age ballot

August 30th, 2012 at 5:57 pm by David Farrar

The results of the first ballot was 18/18 had the most but not 50% and split the least so this means a final ballot of 18/18 and 20/20. Results soon.

Yes 18 won with 69 votes. Well done Keep it 18 and especially Moana Mackey and Nikki Kaye for a great result!

Trans-Tasman on Key and income inequality

August 30th, 2012 at 1:16 pm by David Farrar

Trans-tasman reports:

 John Key showed his mastery of the political process when, with one verbal swipe in Parliament, he demolished what appeared to be a promising line of attack by Opposition parties on his coalition’s social policies. Armed with a report on child poverty, Green co-leader Metiria Turei was demanding Key acknowledge inequality in NZ has increased to the highest it has ever been, and institute a universal child payment. Key’s response “let us run through the logic of what the member has said. She says we are an unequal society, because the rich are getting richer, and now she’s on her feet telling me to give the rich families even more for their kids. What a dopey idea that is!” Turei was left complaining “I am not thinking straight.”

This is the great mystery. The left call for less income inequality yet fight for universal rather than targeted government support.


August 30th, 2012 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar

The four members’ bills selected are:

53 Oaths and Declarations (Upholding the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill Te Ururoa Flavell
43 Local Government (Public Libraries) Amendment Bill Darien Fenton
39 Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill Scott Simpson
2 Care of Children Law Reform Bill Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda’s bill is a same sex adoption bill. Two major conscience issues in a week has almost killed me. The thought of another major campaign is enough to make moving to Palmie seem a good idea.

However while I am fully supportive of removing the legislative ban on same sex couples being able to adopt (note they can already adopt as individuals), I have blogged previously on the problems with this particular bill. I’m not sure it is a goer.

Complicating things also is that the marriage equality bill may lead to a de facto change in the adoption law anyway. One part of the Adoption Act refers merely to spouses, while another refers to husband and wife.


The women only exhibition

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

The Dom Post editorial:

If Lower Hutt’s Dowse Art Museum was a private institution, nobody could complain about it showing a work that only women were allowed to see.

However, the gallery is operated by Hutt City Council and paid for by ratepayers. As a publicly funded entity, it cannot justify staging exhibits from which half the public is excluded.

Personally I think it is all a publicity stunt from Dowse to get publicity. I can’t say I worry about not being able to see an exhibition I have no interest in seeing.

But the editorial is right. If you are a public institution, you can’t ban half the population from an exhibition.

A memorial for Nancy Wake

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

Stuff reports:

The life of the woman who became the White Mouse will be remembered in Wellington today at a special service on what would have been her 100th birthday.

Wellington-born World War II heroine Nancy Wake will be honoured at a remembrance service at Old St Paul’s Church in Thorndon.

Organiser Trevor Morley said it was a chance to honour the French Resistance fighter – who died last year – for her bravery and heroism.

Ms Wake, who was born in Roseneath, left New Zealand with her family for Australia when she was 2.

As an adult, she was living in France when the war began. She became a prominent figure in the French Resistance and was nicknamed the White Mouse by the Gestapo for her ability to evade capture.

Her work earned her France’s highest military honour, the Legion d’honneur, as well as three Croix de Guerre medals and a French Resistance medal.

She also received Britain’s George Medal and the US Medal of Freedom, and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004.

In 2006, she was the first woman to receive the New Zealand Returned and Services Association’s highest honour, the RSA Badge in Gold. She died last year, weeks before she would have turned 99.

A woman who gave up a life of luxury and privilege to battle the Nazis at huge risk to her life. We owe her a lot.

Poor West Coast

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

Stuff reports:

The West Coast has been dealt another “devastating blow” and hundreds of jobs throughout the country are set to be slashed after state coal miner Solid Energy announced plans to move away from underground mining.

Three hundred and seventy miners and contractors at the Spring Creek Mine are in limbo after the state-owned energy company announced the suspension of operations at the mine yesterday.

The Huntly East underground mine in the Waikato will cut 63 staff and 60 contractors because the company is stopping further development. Another 65 staff at the Christchurch head office and 17 staff from other parts of the business are also in the firing line.

What an awful blow. Hopefully it may reopen, but far from certain.

Groser for WTO?

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

Stuff reports:

 Trade Minister Tim Groser has to decide whether he wants to throw his hat into the ring for the director general role at the World Trade Organisation, John Key says.

The prime minister said a number of countries had expressed an interest in Groser applying for the position and New Zealand would support him if he did.”That is obviously a big call and a big step.”

Groser would need to consider it.

“If that happened and he decided to put his name in the ring then the New Zealand Government would give him 100 per cent support.”

He would be a “magnificent” leader of the WTO, Key said, but added it was a tough battle for the top job.

“It’s not easy to get over the line and it would be challenging but there certainly is a number of countries internationally that are interested in supporting Tim Groser and have approached him.”

Tim would be a big loss from Cabinet if he did stand for and become WTO Director-General. But he could do more good in that role, so I hope he does stand. There may be some resistance though to a Kiwi being the 6th WTO Director-General, just a decade after another Kiwi was the 3rd Director-General.

Guest Post: Shaun Wallis on the Alcohol Purchase Age

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

Shaun Wallis is the NZ Vice-President of the Young Nationals.

Shaun is currently working towards an LLB/BCA (Accounting and Taxation) double degree at Victoria University.

It’s who you are, not how old you are that determines drinking habits. There’s no denying we have a binge drinking culture, and there’s no denying that nearly all of us, young and old have been affected by it in ways large or small.

However, a large number of 18 and 19 year olds that drink responsibly will be scapegoated by the changes to the purchase age. Yet, the New Zealand-wide culture of alcohol abuse will remain…

If we are to tackle binge drinking as a country, we need to change our drinking habits not our drinking age. We know most problem drinkers are over 20. Where is the debate on the harm of drink driving and domestic violence to make New Zealand safer for young and old?

China, the UK, France, Spain and Ireland all have a purchase age of 18. The Germans allow 16 year olds to buy beer and wine, and 18 year olds to buy spirits. Italy has an age of 16 and Denmark allows 16 year olds to buy low-percentage alcohol from stores but not bars, restaurants and discos – and in the sweetest of ironies, the latter reserved for 18 year olds. Yet nearly all of these countries do not experience the abusive culture around alcohol. Fiddling with the purchase age is a red herring, which is why some of our politicians have got it so wrong on alcohol reform.

Better still the drinking habits of young people have improved since we lowered the age from 20 to 18. In 2006, ALAC research found 53% of 12 to 17 year olds were drinkers, but by 2010, only 32% were drinkers. That is a relative 40% drop in the prevalence rate over five years. The age at which young people start drinking has been increasing. In 2006, 35% of young drinkers started before they turned 14. In 2010, it was just 21%. Note this is the proportion of youth drinkers. Of total youth, only 11% start drinking before their 15th birthday. Thus there are positive signs already coming through with our youngest New Zealanders.

So lets focus on the changes in the Alcohol Reform Bill that do matter: It will empower agencies to use measures to regulate licencing responsibly – such as requiring bottle stores near schools to close when school gets out as well as targeting irresponsible supply to minors, requiring parental consent for supply of alcohol to minors based on reasonable grounds. Additionally, it cracks down on those who actively supply to minors, removing their licence/ certificate revoked if prosecuted. We have strong, sensible and practical measures that will address binge drinking across the board, not the age of a few binge drinkers alone.

The split age proposal will push 18 and 19 year olds into more dangerous environments when enjoying a few drinks with friends. No doubt about it – more serious harm and other associated harm occurs in and around licensed premises. Drink spiking, serious assault and sexual harm is more likely to occur in town than in the home of younger drinkers. 1 in 4 people arrested for disorderly behaviour as a result of excess drinking claim that their last drink was on a licensed premises. Even the NZ Law Commission is “not convinced the evidence supports this assumption“.

Why are we telling bar owners and staff to be babysitters of 18/19-year-old drinkers? The State needs to promote the virtues of personal responsibility and self-awareness of alcohol consumption on young drinkers to reduce alcohol abuse. Young drinkers need to understand the risks and manage their own consumption. Yet by limiting the place of alcohol consumption to bars and clubs for 18-19 year olds, the message to control your own drinking is diminished and babysitter functions are imposed on pubs and clubs.

Young rural New Zealanders will be unfairly affected by changing the purchase age. In provincial New Zealand, the days of the local pub have gone, with significantly fewer on-licensed premises. Rather than enjoy a few drinks at home with mates, 18 and 19 year old Kiwis in rural areas will be forced to jump in a car and drive a fair distance to the nearest licensed premises. Given nearly all New Zealanders overwhelmingly see drink driving as extremely dangerous and not acceptable, why would we want to contradict progress?

Lastly, there is a strong rights argument for the case to keep the purchase age at 18. At its most simplest form, if we deem 18 and 19 year olds old enough to move away from home, take a student loan out or start to learn a trade, manage their power, rent, internet, groceries and so on, surely they’re old enough to manage their own drinking habits? We need to promote more personal responsibility, and hence a targeted culture change campaign aimed at energizing individuals to take personal responsibility for their alcohol habits would be much, much more effective at delivering real change than just tinkering with the purchase age.

In sum, changing the purchase age will not have the desired effect of many in favour that seek to achieve. It won’t affect the culture. It won’t change behaviour. It’ll unnecessarily ping the vast majority of sensible 18 and 19 year olds, and I believe Parliament will be called upon again to vote on the purchase age in the future. Let’s not waste our opportunity to break this cycle by focusing on the changes we need to make and stop flogging the age. We can draw circles around the age or we can start making effective changes through good laws and quality education that changes habits and turns our drinking culture around.

The vote/s will be at 5.30 pm today. I really do hope they vote to keep it 18, as we can then move on from this issue, and focus on the other issues around alcohol. If it is increased in part or full to 20, it will remain a contentious issue as young New Zealanders will never accept that they can be working, married, raising kids at 19 but not able to buy wine at the supermarket.

General Debate 30 August 2012

August 30th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

How they voted details

August 30th, 2012 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

For media and others who are interested in a breakdown by the numbers, here they are:

  • All MPs 80 – 40
  • Electorate MPs 45 – 25
  • List MPs 35 – 15 (1 non vote)
  • Female MPs 32 – 7
  • Male MPs 48 – 33 (1 non vote)
  • Asian MPs 1-3 (1 non vote)
  • European MPs 60 – 29
  • Maori MPs 17 – 4
  • Pacific MPs 2 – 4
  • 20s MPs – 2-0
  • 30s MPs 11 – 2
  • 40s MPs 20 – 18
  • 50s MPs 34 – 13 (1 non vote)
  • 60s MPs 12 – 7
  • 70s MPs 1-0
  • Auckland MPs 29 – 12 (1 non vote)
  • Christchurch MPs  11 – 2
  • Provincial MPs 10 – 12
  • Rural MPs 16 – 12
  • Wellington MPs 14 – 2
  • North Island MPs 58 – 32 (1 non vote)
  • South Island MPs 22 – 8
  • National MPs 30-29
  • Labour MPs 30-3 (1 non vote)
  • Green MPs 14-0
  • NZ First MPs 0-8
  • Maori Party MPs 3-0
  • Mana, ACT, United all 1-0
  • Cabinet Ministers 14-6
  • All Ministers 20-8
  • Gay MPs 3-1
  • Lesbian MPs 3-0
  • “Straight” MPs 74 – 39 (1 non vote)
  • 1970s MPs 0-1
  • 1980s MPs 7-1
  • 1990s MPs 11-9
  • 2002 MPs 5-1
  • 2005 MPs 18 – 6
  • 2008 MPs 22 – 11 (1 non vote)
  • 2011 MPs 16 – 11

A few interesting facts stand out.

  • Female MPs voted 4-1 in favour and Male MPs around 3-2 in favour
  • MPs in their 40s more against than those in their 50s or 60s
  • In the three main cities it was 54 – 16 in favour – more than 3:1
  • Provincial MPs were overall against, but rural MPs were in favour
  • 1 gay MP voted against (on grounds that the state should register unions, and churches, mosques etc confer marriage)
  • MPs who entered in the 1990s were most against

Now let’s look at changes in votes over time

  • John Bank and Lockwood Smith voted against decriminalising homosexual behaviour in 1986 but in 2012 voted in favour of same sex marriage. Winston Peters voted against in 1986 and in 2012. Peter Dunne, Phil Goff, Annette King, Trevor Mallard voted yes both times.
  • MPs who voted against civil unions and for same sex marriage are Gerry Brownlee, David Carter, Judith Collins, Clayton Cosgrove, Peter Dunne, Paul Hutchison, John Key, Murray McCully, Lockwood Smith, Tariana Turia, Maurice Williamson

Wasn’t planning to comment in detail on the speeches, except to note as often with conscience issues it is Parliament at its finest – MPs speaking from the heart on what they believe. Hunua MP Paul Hutchison spoke of his issues and concerns but concluded saying:

Although I would have personally preferred a slower process regarding this legislation as I said earlier, I simply cannot construct an intellectual, moral, health, or spiritual argument against it—in fact the reverse is very much the case. I support it.

You could tell this was an issue he had grappled with, and spent a long time considering.

Anyway, vote over on this issue (for now). The vote/s on the alcohol purchase age will be at 5.30 pm tonight!

How they voted

August 29th, 2012 at 9:39 pm by David Farrar

The marriage equality bill passed by a huge 78 – 40 80 – 40. The voting sheets are below. An analaysis by party will follow later.


Now analysed by party. I understand Banks and Dunne did do proxy votes in favour which have now been accepted or are likely to be. Counting those, the voting stats are:

  • National 30-29
  • Labour 30-3 (1 not vote – Raymond Huo)
  • Greens 14-0
  • NZ First 0-8
  • Maori 3-0
  • Mana 1-0
  • ACT 1-0
  • United Future 1-0
  • Total 80-40 (1 non vote)

A new level of stupidity

August 29th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

A man who threw his motorcycle into the sea and then claimed insurance had announced his intentions the day before on Facebook, a court heard yesterday.

Good God, how stupid can you be. Why not just stick up posters also.

Is a maximum five years enough?

August 29th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Photo by APN. Proof that a photo is worth 1000 words.

Anna Leask at NZ Herald reports:

An Auckland mother has admitted driving under the influence of methamphetamine and causing a crash that killed her 12-year-old daughter and injured a heavily pregnant woman in another car.

Toni Ericksen, 33, was scheduled to stand trial this week for driving under the influence of drugs causing the death of Bryer Rose Greenwood, the eldest of her two daughters.

She originally pleaded not guilty however the Herald has learned that she changed her plea to guilty on August 21.

Ericksen also admitted injuring her 8-year-old daughter Gemma Greenwood and another motorist in the same crash while under the influence of drugs, and being an unlicensed driver driving while prohibited. …

On August 14 Ericksen’s lawyer Peter Kaye indicated the defence was almost ready to proceed to trial. Expert witnesses were expected to give evidence about the crash analysis and the blood-alcohol and blood-drug test results.

Mr Kaye did not respond to the Herald yesterday and Ericksen could not be reached for comment.

When she first appeared in court she was supported by the president of the Auckland chapter of the Hells Angels gang, Douglas Jay, believed to be her current partner. Afterwards her then-lawyer Ron Mansfield said Ericksen had suffered a “tragic loss”. …

Ericksen will be sentenced on November 30. The maximum penalty for killing a person while driving under the influence of drugs is five years in jail or a fine of $20,000.

To drive under the influence when you have your kids in the car is just appalling. I really wonder if five years is an adequate maximum sentence for this so preventable loss of human life.

Could one of our lawyers help me. As I understand it, Police can also charge manslaughter in some situations. What are the criteria that decide which charge to use – manslaughter or “killing a person while driving under the influence …”?


Oh just shut up

August 29th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicholas Jones at NZ Herald reports:

A film-maker who made inflammatory comments about a dead soldier has slammed the Defence Force and police for the response to subsequent threats against her.

But last night, both organisations disputed Barbara Sumner Burstyn’s version of events and expressed disappointment over her attack.

What I detest about this, is Burstyn is trying to make this all about her.  Now she is lying about the Police.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said police twice dispatched staff to check an address provided by Sumner Burstyn. Attempts were made to phone the house, and checks revealed nothing untoward.

Local police were notified and neighbours alerted so police could be quickly notified of suspicious activity.

Mr Burgess said Sumner Burstyn was advised to contact Canadian police because she had full and immediate access to the relevant information. That information was forwarded via Interpol and was being assessed by detectives, he said.

“Ms Sumner Burstyn has acknowledged that she made a major gaffe through her Facebook comments.

“It is disappointing that she now sees fit to comment adversely and inaccurately on the organisation which responded properly to her concerns,” he said.

For an excellent take on this whole issue, I recommend Chris Trotter who noted:

 In an extraordinary outburst on Facebook, the New Zealand film-maker, Barbara Sumner-Burstyn, delivered the following, scathing, “testimonial” to Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, the young New Zealand soldier killed in action in Afghanistan on August 19: ‘Oh, so fallen soldier Jacinda Baker liked boxing and baking – did they forget she also liked invading countries we are not at war with, killing innocent people and had no moral compass. She 100 per cent does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices. We are not at war. We are helping America invade another country for their oil. No more than that.’

It is difficult to know where to begin with this thoroughly obnoxious piece of writing.

Perhaps with Sumner-Burstyn’s simple errors of fact.

Corporal Baker did not invade Afghanistan, she was posted there as a serving member of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) which was in Afghanistan at the behest of the New Zealand Government, which had agreed to supply the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan province.

The ISAF is in Afghanistan by virtue of a UN Security Council resolution authorising UN member states to aid the creation of an effective and democratic Afghan government.

Baker, far from ‘killing innocent people’ was a medic – duty-bound to assist all those wounded in combat or injured by enemy munitions – regardless of status or nationality.

When she was killed, Baker was escorting an injured comrade to medical assistance. It is extremely difficult to reconcile these facts with Sumner-Burstyn’s charge that Baker ‘had no moral compass’.

Sumner-Burstyn’s final claim: ‘We are helping America invade another country for their oil’ is similarly false.

Afghanistan possesses no oilfields worth expending US blood and treasure to secure.

The Americans are there for only one reason. Because the Taleban Government of Afghanistan had offered safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda: the terrorists ultimately responsible for the murderous attacks of September 11, 2001.

So well summed up.

Threatened with rape and murder, Sumner-Burstyn fears to return to New Zealand.

A recent photograph of Sumner-Burstyn shows a middle-aged woman posed in front of a large bookcase filled with academic literature.

Studying her face, and reading about her many awards for documentary film- making – many of them on ‘progressive’ themes – it is difficult to fathom how Sumner-Burstyn could be capable of such casual cruelty.

As a clearly gifted artist and feminist, it is extraordinary that she was so utterly unable to empathise with Baker – the first female member of her generation to lose her life on active service.

By the same token, it is profoundly depressing to read the spittle-flecked responses of her detractors.

Baker lost her life on a mission to rebuild and heal a damaged province in a ravaged land.

Her empathy merited a much more generous memorial.

It is a shame that a few people went over the top and made threats, which have no place in public discourse. They also are responsible for the debate shifting from the dead soldiers to Burstyn herself.

Personally I just never want to hear about the woman again.