Archive for September, 2012

Fairfax Sundays online

September 30th, 2012 at 3:53 pm by David Farrar

Both the Herald and the SST do a pretty good job of getting their major news stories online.

However the SST Columnists section has not been updated for over a month. This is embarrassing. Either don’t have a section for them or make sure it is kept up to date.

Even worse is the Sunday News. Their lead story is dated 5 August – almost two months out of date. Again either remove the Sunday News from the Stuff website, or make sure at least a couple of the articles are recent. Their second to top article is an April 2012 article!!

I know each newspaper is responsible for their own section on Stuff, so it is not the direct responsibility of thr main Stuff team. But nevertheless it is on their site, and if the newspapers can’t keep it current, they should chop them!

Wanting more money from ACC for privacy breach

September 30th, 2012 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Sex abuse survivors are planning to sue ACC to force a significantly boosted payout for breaching their privacy in the ongoing Bronwyn Pullar whistleblower saga.

ACC sent apology letters in June to sensitive-claims clients and offered to pay them $250 if they agreed to stay silent, after one of New Zealand’s biggest privacy breaches in August last year.

The “insulting” offer came after ACC mistakenly released the names and details of 6500 claimants, including 250 sensitive-claims clients who are victims of sexual abuse and violent crimes, to claimant Pullar.

Wellington lawyer John Miller, a specialist in taking on ACC, said more than 100 claimants affected by the massive Pullar breach had approached him to take the case. He said those wanting to pursue ACC were sensitive claimants who generally had long simmering feelings of being poorly treated by the ACC system.

Although a claimant with a normal injury could shrug off the privacy breach, for sensitive claimants “this is the last straw”.

“It’s a corrosive environment they are in with ACC, frankly. The people I have spoken to, they are insulted by $250, it is a derisory amount for the torment they have gone through.”

Worse was ACC’s requirement that claimants sign a confidentially agreement if they took the payment. “They feel they are being told ‚Äėnow go away and shut up and sign a document to say you are going to shut up forever more’.”

He said that although technically class action claims were not possible in New Zealand, the process worked with one claim taken and if it won it set a precedent. ACC would be asked to settle with everyone, or face losing case after case with legal costs compounding the settlement payouts.

He said the process had worked before and usually ACC saw sense.

Miller would not be drawn on what level of compensation would satisfy claimants, but said past privacy breaches had won payouts of anything from $2000 to $40,000. It depended on the severity of the consequences.

In 2003 he said ACC paid $8000 for sending a man’s earnings details to his wife, resulting in divorce because he had kept his income secret from her.

A large amount is appropriate when there has been significant harm from the privacy breach.

But bearing in mind it is employees, employers and motorists who will effectively pay for any compensation, let us look at the harm done in this breach.

One person in Auckland, a stranger to all these people, was sent a spreadsheet with some details about them. The report into the breach details what this info was:

  • Client Name
  • Claim Number
  • Branch handling claim
  • Review number

No information beyond that was disclosed. So yes it did breach privacy by revealing they were a client of ACC, they they were having their claim reviewed, and which branch was handling their claim – which can reveal it was a sensitive claim.

This is not inconsequential, but neither it is in any way detailed. And this was a breach not on a website, but to one person.

I’m not convinced the offers of $250 is inappropriate.


September 30th, 2012 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

Got 8/10 in 40 secs. Quiz here.

Pour on more petrol

September 30th, 2012 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Almost daily, Europe faces questions on whether its once-vaunted single currency can survive, and anti-European Union rumblings echo in capitals where governments are cutting spending in exchange for a bailout from Brussels or to satisfy its scrutiny of the national deficit.

The European Union is in the thick of its deepest crisis – and at its core is whether the EU’s design, based on shifts of power from sovereign states to the centre, is fatally flawed.

Yet even in the midst of this turbulent debate, a powerful bloc is saying the answer to Europe’s problem is not less integration, but more.

Last week, 11 out of the 27 EU nations appealed to save the guttering flame of federalism.

“In many parts of Europe, nationalism and populism are on the rise, while the feeling of solidarity and sense of belonging in Europe are dwindling,” the so-called Future of Europe Group said. “We have to take action to restore confidence in our joint project.”

The eight-page blueprint issued in Warsaw calls for closer economic and monetary governance across the EU, including a single supervisory body for banks and closer inspection by Brussels of national budgets and economic strategies.

Now bear in mind that those in Brussels with the power are unelected – they are appointed by Governments. So what is being proposed is to give the unelected officials power over national budgets!

More decisions in the Council of Ministers, the highest political authority in the EU, would be made by majority vote, thus preventing a single country or minor bloc from torpedoing European laws.

This would mean individual countries could be forced by a other countries into submitting to them. The day that happens, expect the EU to shrink dramatically.

“The eurozone crisis demonstrated with lethal force that Europe’s existing instruments of government are just not good enough to give the eurozone the speed of decision-making needed to weather the latest financial storm,” Klau said.

The problem is too much integration. The Euro integrated currency is a disaster.

One ambitious recommendation is for citizens to directly elect the president of the European Commission, the powerful executive, which oversees a budget of ‚ā¨147 billion ($229 billion) and enforces EU laws. He or she would also appoint his or her own team of commissioners.

That would be an improvement, but smaller states will be reluctant to sign up. The US model works because the Senate specifically is designed to protect smaller states. Same in Australia.

Are degrees worth it?

September 30th, 2012 at 10:14 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

New Zealand university degrees are the most worthless in the developed world, an international report reveals.

The value of spending years at university has been severely dented by an OECD report that reveals tertiary study adds little to our earning power – less than $1000 a year for women, not much more for men.

New Zealand is at the bottom of the global league tables. The net value of a man’s tertiary education is just $63,000 over his working life, compared with $395,000 in the US. For a Kiwi woman, it’s $38,000 over her working life – that’s less than $1000 a year.

When I read this story, I was suspicious. I recall in the late 1990s looking at income data for graduates and calculating the average boost in income over a working life is around $500,000 (gross, not NPV), and having Ministers use this in 1999 to say that this was a good return on an average $10,000 student loan etc.

Danyl has beaten me to it, and blogged:

¬†The actual report is¬†here. And the thing that they make¬†really¬†clear is that they distinguish between two categories of tertiary education. Type A ‚Äď university degrees ‚Äď and type B: (mostly polytechnics). Taken together New Zealand is at the bottom of the table. But if you look at degrees and advanced tertiary study then New Zealand isn‚Äôt doing that badly ‚Äď and the countries that¬†are¬†doing extremely well on that metric are mostly countries with low rates of type A tertiary education. Their degrees are highly valuable because of their scarcity. Almost every statistic in the Herald story refers to non-university level education, but the entire story is about the alleged worthlessness of degree qualifications!

Yes, quite misleading to say degrees are worthless. We have a huge number of students at wananaga, with PTEs and the like who give non degree qualifications.

Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce, who has a zoology degree, said Government figures showing how much people earned four years after study were more positive. But even by that measure, those with a bachelor’s degree earned just 46 per cent more than those with a level-three school qualification.

Just 46%? That’s a huge difference.

Joyce said the Government kept an eye on under-performance at the lower levels of tertiary study. There was no improvement in pay for people who had done NZQA level-three and level-four certificates and diplomas. It was not until they reached a level five or six, or a level-seven degree, that earnings increased.

The point Danyl made.

The story generally had the right data, but it conflated tertiary study and getting a degree in an (unintentionally I am sure) misleading way.

The statement that university degrees are the most worthless is simply wrong. The 40% gain in earnings for a degree amongst 25 to 64 year olds is higher than Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Understandable but wrong

September 30th, 2012 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

Chloe Johnson at NZ Herald reports:

A teenager who claims she was sexually abused as a child has taken the law into her own hands after police declined to take the case to court.

Hastings student Mikayla Ziebe, 16, hand-delivered more than 100 leaflets to Napier houses last week, accusing an elderly man of being a paedophile.

Ziebe’s mother, Julie Wakefield, supported the action.

“This is her way of being heard,” Wakefield said. “It is her choice and I fully support her.”

The letter has four photos of the man, his name and the message: “He is in his 70s, watch out for him.”

If she was abused by the man, then I can understand her anger and desire to protect others. There’s a part of me that thinks it is good she is not just being a victim.

It was also left in the letterbox of the accused. Ziebe and her mother reported the allegations to Hastings police, which investigated but were unable to press charges because of a lack of evidence.

After four months of counselling this year, Ziebe decided to publicly accuse the man.

“It’s horrible and no one will believe me,” Ziebe said. “I want them to know I am serious.”

Eastern District crime manager detective inspector Rob Jones said police investigated the allegations on two separate occasions and both times fell short of finding sufficient evidence to prosecute.

From what I have observed, the Police tend to prosecute – even when they have a he said vs she said type scenario. I’m in no way doubting her word, but we don’t know what evidence the Police found or did not found. Were there specific dates alleged which he can prove he was not here for etc?

I’m also rather concerned that the motivation is “to be heard”, rather than to protect others. Sticking a copy in his letterbox also suggests it is about revenge – and understandable if the allegations are correct – but ultimately wrong.

Of course you can argue she has freedom of speech, and he can sue for defamation, but it isn’t quite that simple.

The accused man told the Herald on Sunday it was a vicious attack on his family, which they reported to police. He denied the allegations and was overwhelmed with support from his neighbours. “I would be in jail if I was guilty,” he said.

Well, not quite.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesperson Garth McVicar said it was a “natural outcome” for people to seek justice when they felt let down by the system.

Auckland Sexual Abuse Help clinical manager Kathryn McPhillips said only 1 per cent of child abuse cases ended in a conviction because the justice system was not child-friendly.

1%? I’d like to see a reference for that figure. I know only around 10% of rape complaints lead to a conviction, but 1% seems a very improbable figure to me. That suggests that if there are 5,000 child abuse convictions are year, in fact we have 500,000 case of abuse annually.


General Debate 30 September 2012

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

Auckland Boards on the Auckland Council

September 29th, 2012 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald surveyed chairs of local boards in Auckland how they think the Council is going. The story is here and the raw responses are here. I’ve collated the scores below.

Model Plan Council CCOs Mayor Average
Albert-Eden 3 2 1 4 3 2.6
Devonport-Takapuna 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 3.8
Franklin 4 3 3 4 3 3.4
Howick 4 3 2 3 1 2.6
Maungakiekie-Tamaki 4 4 4 3 4 3.8
Otara-Papatoetoe 4 2 4 4 4 3.6
Orakei 1 2 2 2 1 1.6
Waiheke 4 3.5 4 3.5 4 3.8
Waitakere Ranges 3 3 3 3 3 3
Waitemata 3.5 3 3 3 4 3.3
Whau 4 5 4 4 4 4.2
Upper Harbour 3 3 3 3 3 3
Average 3.4 3.1 3.0 3.4 3.2 3.2

So the two elements that get the highest average scores are the model itself, and the CCOs. This is worth noting as Labour fought against both. Labour wanted no local boards, but instead larger bodies around the size of the old Council. They also fought against the CCO model, and that is the aspect local board chairs say is working best.

Mayor Len Brown is a bit lower on 3.2/5. The Council’s long-term plan is 3.1 and the Council (as in the Councillors) are 3.0.

The three happiest board chairs are Whau, Maungakiekie-Tamaki and Devonport-Takapuna. The three least happy are Orakei, Howick and Albert-Eden.

A life ban

September 29th, 2012 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

Well done Peter Burns, or Dad4Justice. ¬†You’ve joined the rare group of people who are now banned for life from Kiwiblog.

UPDATE: It was not Peter. See this post.

World of Wearable Arts

September 29th, 2012 at 9:36 am by David Farrar

This year is the 24th year of WOW. I’ve been going for around seven or eight years, and have to say I think this year’s may have been the best ever. It is such a fantastic show. Until you have attended one, you think it is just a fashion show, but it is so much more than that.

The initial act with the children was creative genius. Loved it. And it was a cheesy but superb finale with a Flash Gordon theme. The illumination section not as good as some years, but overall I though the show set a new high.

My favourite item was the human purse. Surprised it did not win something.

Normally my guesses for the award winners are pretty spot on, but this year was a bit surprised by some of the winners, including the supreme award.

Stuff has a photo gallery here.

Stats Girl and I grabbed dinner at Shed 5 beforehand. They did a special WOW menu which was very reasonably priced, saw quick service and was at usual, deliciously cooked.



September 29th, 2012 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A celebrity psychic who wants to get in touch with earthquake and Pike River coalmine victims from beyond the grave says she only wants to help families heal, despite criticism by sceptics.

Australian Sensing Murder psychic Deb Webber will hold a free “private reading” on Monday for families of those killed in the February 2011 quake and another for Pike River mine disaster families in Greymouth next month.

NZ Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde said the sessions were “another sick example” of exploitation by the psychic industry, using vulnerable, grieving families as “a marketing drive” for free publicity.

“It’s as bad as any of those shonky finance companies putting up free investment evenings – and it’s about as useful,” she said. “No doubt at some point she will also be selling her services, which are very highly priced.”

Webber, who is on a “Hope and Heal” New Zealand tour, said she “can’t understand” the criticism.

“People need healing; I never want to cause anyone more grief,” she said.

No, you just want to use their suffering to boost your profile. What a contemptible human being.

And sceptic is not the correct term for those who don’t believe in psychics. That’s like claiming someone who doubts the Tooth Fairy is a sceptic.

She will also hold a free public meditation session and a sold-out public show that seats 150 and costs $70 a head in Christchurch tomorrow.

Webber said those who considered her work a money-making venture should “look at my bank account”. “I’m actually skint,” she said.

$10,500 from one show is pretty good money from the desperate and gullible. And she has 15 – 20 shows lined up in NZ.

If you are of the gullible persuasion, see this episode where she was fooled into claiming she was talking to a dead husband who never existed.

More good analysis

September 29th, 2012 at 8:27 am by David Farrar

Eric Crampton has also been analysing the national standards data. he finds:

Decile matters greatly. All else equal, a school one decile higher has about a four percentage point increase in pass rates. But, decile matters at a decreasing rate: moving from Decile 2 to Decile 3 correlates with a 3.3 percentage point increase in maths pass rates while moving from Decile 8 to Decile 9 only improves pass rates by one percentage point.

Class size matters: schools with more students per teacher have higher pass rates. I suspect reverse causation here: for a fixed budget, those schools that are able to run larger classes are likely those that have fewer discipline problems and so are able to put those resources to other uses.

Ethnicity matters. A standard deviation increase in the proportion of Maori students reduces aggregate pass rates by 1.3 percentage points in reading and 2.2 percentage points in math. Similar trends exist for Pacific Island student ratios. I’d be pretty cautious in interpreting this one: if you run things decile-by-decile, the effects mostly disappear. The biggest negative effect seems to hold in high decile schools, but by the time you get to Decile 10 schools, the median school has only 5.9% Maori students. Results then may be a bit sensitive to a few outliers on the right hand side. Like Luis, I’ll refrain from doing much more until the official results come out.

Single sex schools seem to do well; boarding schools seem to do poorly.

All interesting data.

There are decile 1 schools providing pass rates twenty percentage points or more above what we’d expect, given their characteristics (that’s the 0.2 number on the y-axis); there is one decile ten school providing pass rates more than twenty percentage points below what we would expect given its characteristics. Differences in school performance simply do not come down¬†only¬†to decile. Decile’s the most important thing. But differences in performance among schools of the same decile by definition have to be about something other than decile. I can’t tell from this data whether it’s differences in stat-juking, differences in unobserved characteristics of entering students, differences in school pedagogy, or something else. But there’s something here that bears explaining.¬†

And this is the potential value. Identify the schools doing best and worst, and try to emulate them and help them respectively.

Somehow the left think this is a bad thing!

General Debate 29 September 2012

September 29th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Conor departs Len

September 28th, 2012 at 4:21 pm by David Farrar

For a Friday afternoon, Wellington has been a hotbed of rumour.

It seems that Conor Roberts (Len Brown’s Senior Political Advisor) is off to manage Corporate Affairs for Todd Property.

Leaving aside the implications of this for Brown, this is an interesting move by Roberts.  I’ve highlighted before that Conor will have a political career and a part of Labour’s future Cabinet.  I imagine Conor is looking for a bit of real world experience before taking the plunge into a Labour party parliamentary career.  Labour seriously lacks MPs who have real world experience and Conor also lacks that Рfor now.  The difference between most Labour lackeys and Conor is that he has realised the problem, and set about doing something about getting the experience he needs.

When Roberts becomes an MP (I suspect he is targeting 2014, but if I was advising him would suggest 2017), he will have that rarest of qualities among Labour people, experience in business rather than as a teacher or a unionist.

Put this private sector time alongside his well know political abilities, and I suspect today’s news represents another step in the development of a politician who will be invaluable to the Labour cause.

Conor will need to tread carefully though.  By putting his neck out many Labour activists, especially in this part of the cycle, will be out to trip him up or paint him as some sort of corporate drone.  Some still blame him for Len not backing the Maritime Union over Ports of Auckland. If he seeks a seat, you can be sure the Maritime Union delegates will be voting for his opponent!

This also means Len Brown will need a new campaign manager for 2013. Of course, the fact there is no high profile candidate yet identified to stand against him is a plus!

Bloggers as Journalists

September 28th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Inforrm blogs:

 There’s quite a lot to digest in the recent decision of Hogan J. in Cornec v. Morrice & Ors. Most of the judgment deals with wider issues in the protection of journalists’ sources, and unsurprisingly the media coverage so far tends to focus on this aspect. But reading the judgment, I was struck by the way in which it considered whether non-traditional media could also benefit from similar protections. In particular, it appears to be the first Irish judgment to consider the position of bloggers.

In this case orders were sought to compel two individuals ‚Äď Nicola Tallant and Mike Garde ‚Äď to testify for the purposes of US civil proceedings. Both objected to the orders on various grounds, including the argument that requiring their testimony would reveal both their sources and the information provided by these sources, contrary to their journalistic privilege recognised by Irish law.

The Judge says:

While Mr. Garde is not a journalist in the strict sense of the term, it is clear from that his activities involve the chronicling of the activities of religious cults. Part of the problem here is that the traditional distinction between journalists and laypeople has broken down in recent decades, not least with the rise of social media. It is probably not necessary here to discuss questions such as whether the casual participant on an internet discussion site could invoke Goodwin-style privileges, although the issue may not be altogether far removed from the facts of this case.

Yet Mr. Garde‚Äôs activities fall squarely within the ‚Äúeducation of public opinion‚ÄĚ envisaged by Article 40.6.1.¬†A person who blogs on an internet site can just as readily constitute an ‚Äúorgan of public opinion‚ÄĚ as those which were more familiar in 1937 and which are mentioned (but only as examples) in Article 40.6.1, namely, the radio, the press and the cinema.Since Mr. Garde‚Äôs activities fall squarely within the education of public opinion, there is a high constitutional value in ensuring that his right to voice these views in relation to the actions of religious cults is protected. It does not require much imagination to accept that critical information in relation to the actions of those bodies would dry up if Mr. Garde could be compelled to reveal this information, whether in the course of litigation or otherwise. It is obvious from the very text of Article 40.6.1 that the right to educate (and influence) public opinion is at the very heart of the rightful liberty of expression. That rightful liberty would be compromised ‚Äď perhaps even completely jeopardised ‚Äď if disclosure of sources and discussions with sources could readily be compelled through litigation.

A decision I welcome. It does not mean all bloggers can get journalistic protection. But that some bloggers could, if they are blogging on issues of public interest.

Marriage in Tasmania

September 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reports:

Same-sex marriage advocates in Australia say the fight is far from over after Tasmania’s go-it-alone bill failed in the state’s upper house.

Tasmania’s 15-member Legislative Council voted down the bill 8-6 on Thursday night.

In August, it had become the first such bill to be passed in an Australian lower house.  

This must make Tasmania a bit special as the only state where brothers and sisters can marry each other, but not same sex couples!

Common sense from the Judge

September 28th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Greymouth Star reports:

Robert Frank Terry, 58, is alleged to have made the threat in a letter to Justice Minister Judith Collins, and five others including Chief Justice Sian Ellias, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor, Ministry of Justice chief executive Andrew Bridgman, and New Zealand Law Society president Jonathon Temm.

Terry has not entered “not guilty” pleas but has told a judge that he will be defending them.

Today, he sought from Judge David Saunders a relaxation of his bail conditions, which ban him from having contact with any MP or their staff. He was also banned from contacting Parliament itself, but is allowed to make submissions to select committees. Claiming that the conditions breached the Bill of Rights, Terry said: “The Crown cannot stop me from contacting Parliament”.

“When the allegation is that you were going to destroy or bomb it, it certainly can,” the judge countered.

Exactly – no rights are absolute. If you get sent to prison, you lose your right to liberty. If you send letters to MPs threatening to bomb Parliament, then you don’t get to keep¬†harassing¬†MPs and staff. History has shown that some of these threats turn real – with staff having been had weapons pulled on them etc.

“Nobody would deprive you of your right to make sensible submissions to Parliament but when they resort to threats, the recipients have every right to not want to speak to you.”

Declining Terry’s request, Judge Saunders said: “Mr Terry has, by his history, shown to be a persistent and at times thoroughly obnoxious litigant.

He has a history of making communications that are threatening and disturbing to the person receiving them.”

Takes a lot I suspect to have a Judge label you obnoxious.

Pokie Funds

September 28th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Dom Post reports:

A Wellington city councillor has told a select committee that local authorities should not be trusted with pokie funds – contradicting his own council.

Andy Foster told Parliament’s commerce select committee yesterday that proposed gambling reforms would leave local councils “horribly conflicted”.

The committee is hearing submissions on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill, which would strip private trusts’ powers to distribute pokie funds in favour of local government.

Mr Foster, who was submitting as chairman of the Karori Brooklyn Community Charitable Trust – not as a councillor – said the bill would make councils the regulators, benefactors and distributors of pokie funds.

“There is a temptation for the council to say, ‘We are going to start favouring organisations we support’.”

Minutes later, councillor Stephanie Cook appeared before the committee to present Wellington City Council’s official view, praising the reforms and pushing for even more council powers.

MPs questioned Ms Cook over conflict of interest concerns but she replied that any conflict could be “managed”.

The status quo with the trusts is not sustainable, and I support change.

But handing tens of millions of dollars out to local body politicians to dish out to their constituents would be encouraging corruption. It is a hideous idea. Local Councillors would be able buy support. I’m with Andy Foster on this one.

I’ve not gone into this issue in depth, but one possible solution might be to have the share of profits from pokie machines set aside for community groups, to be allocated through the Lottery Grants Board? One could specify that the funds must be spent in the areas they come from, and the LGB could have regional committees to consider applications.

Raising money for Oxfam

September 28th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

It turns out that the five Labour MPs living on $2.25 a day are not making You Tube videos for WINZ offices on better budgeting but are in fact trying to raise money for charities like Oxfam that try to alleviate poverty in countries where significant numbers do live on under $2.25 a day.

Overall fewer people each year are living in poverty, due to the economic growth of China and India as they have opened up their economies. There are lessons there for other countries.

But I certainly support assistance to those less fortunate, and support a number of charities and also micro-financing organisations such as Kiva, which I’ve made a couple of dozen loans through.

Now you would think five of the most senior Labour MPs would raise a lot of money for people in poverty. So let’s look at their efforts.

The Deputy Leader, Finance Spokesperson, Welfare Spokesperson, Aid Spokesperson and Housing Spokesperson had raised around $1,400 between them, with some as low as just $90. They obviously have not hit their colleagues up enough!

This is less than the just over $1,500 raised by a Dunedin based Young Nat, Varsha Singh.

The challenge finishes at the end of today. Who will have raised more money – half the Labour frontbench, or the Young Nat?

Read between the lines

September 28th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

Trade unions do not want to be exempted from a potential lobbying register, despite Labour’s attempts to have them excluded.

Green MP Holly Walker has a member’s bill that would create a register of lobbyists and require them to follow a code of ethics.

The bill passed its first reading with unanimous support, but Labour has since suggested an amendment that would exempt trade unions.

Fairfax Media can now reveal that the unions have not asked for that and say it would not be practical.

In a draft submission, the Council of Trade Unions expressed concern about the proposed regime.

“Lobbying is a core activity of trade unions, but the consequences on trade unions and NGOs from this bill if it were to proceed have not been sufficiently considered.”

There were practical difficulties in establishing which staff within a union would have to be registered and the reporting requirements and penalties were “particularly burdensome”.

But it did not ask to be exempted from the scheme “on the basis of being unions”.

Rather, the CTU sought different reporting requirements for unions and non-governmental organisations.

Effectively they are still asking for an exemption, or at least reduced requirements. They’re just saying all non-businesses should be exempt or have reduced transparency requirements.

“The CTU has concerns about the increasing influence of corporate lobbying and the influential impact of professional and secret lobbying.”

Translation: Lobbying by businesses is bad and evil, and lobbying by unions and NGOs is good and lovely.

“The bill in its current form treats all lobbyists as if they are equal when lobbyists’ power and influence is very unequal.”

Unions are very powerful lobbyists. If Labour MPs get offside with unions, they risk losing selection battles or being demoted down the list. The next Leader will be 20% elevated by unions, and unions are a primary source of funds and campaign activists for Labour.

Close Down

September 28th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

From Close Up to closed down, it’s the end of an era for a New Zealand television staple and its current frontman, Mark Sainsbury.

TVNZ announced a proposal yesterday to switch off the programme by the end of the year, with 16 staff going through a consultation period until mid next month.

Sainsbury said he would have preferred the programme and his role to continue but ultimately he accepted the broadcaster’s decision.

“I’d love to keep going until I drop dead. But let’s be real, it is the end of an era,” he said yesterday after six years with the show and 31 years at the network.

“They’ve been looking at the programme for most of the year – we’d made a huge effort – but they want to make changes.”

Last night, on signing off for the night on his programme, Sainsbury said the Close Up format “as we know it” was ending after 23 years.

“But a new different programme will emerge next year.

“It’s an exciting time in this business when change happens, whether you want that change to occur or not, and the feeling is that it’s time for change,” he said.

Sainsbury stopped short of saying he was leaving TVNZ but said he had no regrets over his 31-year career.

A long-time commuter to Auckland, he is expected to return to his Wellington home when the curtain falls.

Former TVNZ broadcasters said they had concerns the proposal to pull the plug on Close Up was another step towards dumbing down content.

Former TVNZ news and current affairs executives Bill Ralston and Paul Norris said they had fears the programme might be replaced with an even more lightweight ‚Äúinfo-tainment‚ÄĚ show designed to draw in larger audiences while neglecting serious analytical stories.

I may be wrong but I suspect it will head to more info-tainment. My guess is a couple of stories per show, with a panel talking about them, and soliciting viewer feedback through social media.

The big question is will this see the return of Paul Henry? He’s guaranteed to see huge interest, initially anyway.

On Charter Schools

September 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

Had two opportunities to hear KIPP schools founder Mike Feinberg yesterday.

I thought he was positive and balanced and clearly had done significant research on the NZ system and where the Charter/Partnership concept could enhance outcomes. His use of the NZ stats in terms of outcomes for Maori and PI students through to tertiary education makes a compelling case for change. He is not advocating the model for all, nor KIPP as the only Charter model.

It is clear that he has enabled people to achieve incredible things and has experiences that could be highly valued in NZ. He was clear that he believes they still have massive improvements to make.

There was an interesting sideshow in the question time where some of the¬†Partnership opponents (all of them European and one an American) said we¬†already have choice in NZ and this is unnecessary. Feinberg pointed out¬†that the outcome statistics do not support that the level of choice is¬†effective. The argument was then closed by one of Auckland’s Pacifika¬†leaders who stood and announced that their people are sick of being told¬†that they have “choice” when in practice in doesn’t exist and that they are¬†desperate for change and for new opportunities for their children and¬†grandchildren.

Some people see charter schools as opportunities, and some as threats. I am staying with my prediction that parents in low income areas will see them as an opportunity and ballots will be needed to select students as they will be so popular.

My thoughts

September 28th, 2012 at 8:55 am by David Farrar

My thoughts today are with Cam, John, Claire and their families.

Friday Photo: 28 September

September 28th, 2012 at 8:31 am by Chthoniid

One from my favourite continent.  Going for a low angle helps capture the reflection in the water. It also ensures the crocodile will keep a very watchful eye on you.

As always, clicking the image will bring up a larger, higher res image.



General Debate 28 September 2012

September 28th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel