Archive for November, 2012

Fail

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

NZ First MP Andrew Williams did a release stating:

New Zealand First is accusing the Government of making changes to legislation to give the Prime Minister John Key complete dictatorship over the State Services commissioner.

Associate Finance spokesperson Andrew Williams says clause 6 (j) in the State Sector and Public Finance Reform Bill states that the commissioner must ‘exercise such other functions with respect to administration and management of the Public Service as the Prime Minister from time to time directs’. 

“This clause gives the Prime Minister complete power to dictate to the State Services Commissioner what he wants to see happen.

“It establishes a very dangerous precedent in a Westminster democracy, and is not unlike regimes of the Cold War era.

“With this Bill effectively providing for the unbridled whims of Dictator Key the National Government will continue to run the State Services sector into the ground,” says Mr Williams.

Note the hysterical language about dictatorships and the like. Even if Williams was correct in his assertion, the hysterical language is ridiculous.

The proposed new section 6(j) is:

For the purpose of carrying out the Commissioner’s role, the principal functions of the Commissioner are to … exercise such other functions with respect to the administration and management of the Public Service as the Prime Minister from time to time directs (not being functions conferred by this Act or any other Act on a chief executive other than the Commissioner).

Now let us look at the current State Sector Act 1988. It also has a section 6(j) which states:

The principal functions of the Commissioner are … to exercise such other functions with respect to the administration and management of the Public Service as the Prime Minister from time to time directs (not being functions conferred by this Act or any other Act on a chief executive other than the Commissioner).

That is a massive fail. Williams failed to even check the current law. And if you are going to accuse the Prime Minister of becoming a dictator, well an even bigger fail.

There’s really no excuse for such sloppiness.  Based on Williams press release, and the fact this clause has existed since 1988, I can only conclude that New Zealand has been a cold war dictatorship for the last 24 years, and we never noticed.

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The barbarity of Saudi Arabia towards women

November 30th, 2012 at 3:04 pm by David Farrar

Luke Harding at the Guardian reports:

Saudi Arabia has been accused of behaving like Big Brother after introducing technology that alerts male “guardians” by text whenever women under their guardianship leave the country.

The kingdom already bans women from driving and excludes them from most workplaces. It also disapproves of women’s sport. Since last week it has been operating a new electronic system that tracks all cross-border movements.

The system functions even if a woman is travelling with her husband or male “guardian”, with a text sent immediately to the man. Saudi women must get formal approval from their guardians to travel abroad, and have to hand in an infamous “yellow slip”, signed by a male, at the airport or border.

Women in Saudi Arabia are like chattels. Their culture is deeply flawed, to put it mildly.

Women need the permission of their guardian to marry, divorce, travel, study, get a job, open a bank account, have non-vital surgery etc. I suspect slaves only had a few more rights than some women in Saudia Arabia.

If a Saudi woman’s husband dies, and she wishes to remarry – she needs the permission of her son!

And don’t even start me on honor killings or sentencing rape victims to punishments because they were alone with a man.

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NZ to vote for Palestinian statehood

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

The NZ Herald reports:

New Zealand is to vote in favour of a resolution giving Palestine UN recognition as a non-member observer state, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced.

However Mr McCully said the UN resolution was “a poor substitute for direct negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The United Nations General Assembly is due to vote this morning on a resolution which would see the Palestinian status upgraded role from an observer entity to that of a non-member observer state.

Mr McCully said the primary reason for voting in favour of the resolution is it reflects the long-standing policy of the New Zealand Government.

“New Zealand is a long-standing supporter of the two state solution. We believe that Israel and a Palestinian state should exist side by side, each respecting the other’s right to peace. And we believe that they should arrive at that conclusion through direct talks.

“As I stated in my address to the UN General Assembly earlier this year, we have never regarded a UN resolution as an adequate substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That is the only way of achieving a durable solution to this question.

The vote will not achieve an actual Palestinian state. That will only happen when there is a full peace settlement with Israel, which must involve land for peace (but land concessions without peace is not acceptable).

Mr McCully said officials have discussed the proposed text of the resolution with Palestinian representatives, who have “delivered a resolution that is moderate, constructive, and reflects our commitment to a two-state solution”.

“In our explanation of vote to the UN our Permanent Representative Hon Jim McLay will make clear our absolute commitment to Israel’s right to safety and security, and condemn the actions of Hamas extremists in recent weeks,” Mr McCully said.

“However, we will also assert our support for the moderate leadership of President [Mahmoud] Abbas, Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad and others who are working to make a two-state solution a viable goal.

“The New Zealand Government is under no illusions as to the utility of a UN resolution. It will solve nothing. But in the absence of the direct talks we have called for, we will deal with the UN resolution on its merits.”

Which is code for we don’t think it will achieve anything, but we don’t want to vote against it, as we do support Palestine becoming a state.

For those interested, the only other current non-member observer state in the Holy See. Switzerland used to be one, but joined fully in 2002.

The Cook Islands and Niue are treated as non-member states but this is unofficial.

Taiwan is blocked by China from gaining membership.

Of interest West Germany was an observer only from 1952 to 1973.

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Classic sledge

November 30th, 2012 at 2:16 pm by David Farrar

TV3 reports:

Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee in Parliament yesterday compared Auckland’s plan for a city rail link to the infamous monorail episode of The Simpsons.

In response to questions from Labour MP Phil Twyford on the impact of the city’s growing traffic woes, at first Mr Brownlee disputed the economic benefits of the proposed rail link, and questioned the impact it would have on congestion.

But towards the end of his answer, Mr Brownlee slipped in a reference to the classic Simpsons episode Marge vs the Monorail.

“I would consider hiring Lyle Lanley and associates to do a scoping study for us on the city rail link,” he said.

“I know that they’ve done some very good work on some of the projects in Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook, and if they think this stacks up, we’ll give it some consideration further.”

In the Simpsons episode Lanley is revealed to be a conman, building a cheap and nasty monorail which begins to fall apart on its maiden trip.

Mr Brownlee’s quip appeared to go completely over the heads of other MPs in Parliament. …

Marge vs the Monorail first aired in 1993, and was penned by talk show host and comedian Conan O’Brien. It is often cited as one of the long-running series’ greatest episodes.

It’s a great sledge when the other side don’t even realise they have been sledged.

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Smart, but not street smart

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

The Independent reports:

She is the internet phenomenon, a Czech-born swimwear model whose website commands a million clicks a month from male admirers around the globe. He  was one of them – a 68-year-old British academic, originally from Kidderminster, who for 11 love-struck weeks believed he was courting on-line the former Miss Bikini World, Denise Milani, and was about to start a new life with her in South America.

This is Ms Milani.

I can understand being 68 and being keen to shack up with the lovely Ms Milani. I less understand how you can possibly think she would be meeting dates through Internet Dating, let alone that she has fallen in love with a 68 year old man she has never met!

Yesterday however, Professor Paul Frampton was sentenced to nearly five years in a notoriously tough Argentinian jail after being found guilty of drug trafficking by a Buenos Aires court – the victim, he claimed, of an elaborate international honey trap set by gangsters pretending to be Miss Milani.

A bit like the Sharon Armstrong case.

He initially travelled to La Paz, Bolivia, thinking he was going to meet her for the first time. Instead he was greeted by a middle-aged man who gave him a suitcase it was claimed belonged to Miss Milani. The following day he flew to Buenos Aires where he was instructed to fly on to the Belgium capital Brussels where he was told he would finally meet his new girlfriend.

Even if one thought Ms Milani was ready and willing to ravish you, then warning bells should definitely have gone off when she doesn’t meet you and some man gives you a suitcase to take through customs!

However, after a 36-hour wait for an e-ticket to be sent to him, he decided to abort the plan and fly back to the USA via Peru. He was arrested at the airport and two kilogrammes of cocaine was found hidden in gift wrapping paper hidden inside the lining of his suitcase.

Pity he didn’t dump the suitcase.

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Will Labour boycott Facebook?

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

Ben Chapman-Smith at NZ Herald reports:

Facebook’s “tiny” and “barely believable” tax bill this year makes a mockery of New Zealand’s tax loopholes for multinationals, says the Labour Party.

In a statement entitled “Facebook’s tiny tax bill demands action from Dunne”, Labour’s Revenue spokesperson David Clark said the social media site’s New Zealand arm paid a mere $14,497 last year.

Its tax bill in the 2010 financial year was an even smaller $5238, he said.

“For a company that has 2.2 million users in New Zealand and makes billions worldwide, that’s barely believable.”

Sigh – I thought Labour got the Internet. the Internet does not have boundaries. If NZ advertisers choose to advertise on Facebook, that does not mean Facebook pays tax in New Zealand. Just as if a US client pays me for market research in the United States, I pay tax in New Zealand not the US.

But hey if Labour really thinks that Facebook is a tax evader, then they could just boycott it in protest!

The reality is we are in a world where global Internet companies will of course locate in low tax countries. That is one of the reasons who we should have globally competitive tax rates – both companies and individuals are highly mobile in today’s world.

New Zealand can pass as many laws as we want, but we can’t force global companies to register in New Zealand as taxpayers just because they have NZ customers. What would we do – ban Google and Facebook from being accessible in New Zealand because their advertising revenues are not taxed here?

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The pay gender gap

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

APNZ at NZ Herald report:

A campaign has been launched to demand equal pay for women after finding that, on average, men are paid at least 10 per cent more than women.

Women should be paid the same as men – of course. But I am unsure that this is an issue that can be solved centrally.

A recent study fund that around 60% of men do not just accept a salary and terms offer but try and negotiate it upwards. By contrast only 10% of women do the same. So reversing that 90% of women just accept what is offered as opposed to 40% of men.

I’d say the best way to close the pay gap is for individual women to be more assertive in pay negotiations.

“Pay equity is a structural problem that requires structural solutions.”

I’m not at all convinced that is the case.

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Ports of Auckland location

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

Bernard Orsman at NZ Herald writes:

Auckland has a choice if it wants to open up more of its waterfront – let the port expand into the Waitemata Harbour or lose cargo to Tauranga and Northland.

An independent study on freight demands of the three North Island ports shows Auckland cannot open up Captain Cook and Marsden wharves to the public without having to fill in more of the harbour or limit the amount of cargo it handles.

That would lead to the economic benefits from Ports of Auckland going to Port of Tauranga and Northport.

I think the long-term future is to move the Ports of Auckland to another location. It is silly to have prime beautiful waterfront land taken up by a commercial port. The same goes for Wellington.

Even with “very significant operational efficiencies”, the study said, Ports of Auckland would still need extra berth and storage space by 2041 to cater for growth.

And the public won’t wear a growth in area in its current site, so a new location is the only way to expand.

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A policy well implemented

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

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

The ban made all tobacco products and lighters “contraband”, imposing disciplinary consequences if prisoners or guards were found with them.

Dr Lukkien said the ban was effective. Confiscations plunged from 569 lighters and 237 tobacco items in the first month of the ban to two lighters and 12 tobacco items in June this year.

Nurses in all prisons offered nicotine-replacement patches and lozenges to all smokers for up to 12 weeks.

Dr Lukkien said some prisons held barbecues and concerts to involve prisoners in “celebrating” going smokefree, rather than seeing it as a hardship.

A second evaluation, completed this year by Wellington-based Litmus Ltd and Kaipuke Consultants, found that half of the prisoners who had been smokers said they either would not or might not start smoking again after leaving jail.

Excellent. They’ll save money and be healthier.

“Improvements in prisoners’ self-esteem and confidence were also evident. Health staff reported prisoners telling them that having given up a nicotine addiction means that they feel they can give up other addictive behaviour also.”

And drug and alcohol addiction is a major issue with prisoners.

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The Leveson Report

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

AP report at Stuff:

Britain needs a new independent media regulator to eliminate a subculture of unethical behaviour that infected segments of the country’s press, a senior judge has said at the end of a year-long inquiry into newspaper wrongdoing.

Lord Justice Brian Leveson said a new regulatory body should be established in law to prevent more people being hurt by “press behaviour that, at times, can only be described as outrageous.”

But UK Prime Minister David Cameron balked at that idea, warning that passing a new law to set up the body would mean “crossing the Rubicon” toward state regulation of the press.

I agree with Cameron that it is undesirable to have the state regulating the media. The ball is in the UK media’s court to set up a new regulator along the lines recommended by Leverson.

The full report is here. He notes:

the press is given significant and special rights in this country which I recognise and have freely supported both as barrister and judge. With these rights, however, come responsibilities to the public interest: to respect the truth, to obey the law4 and to uphold the rights and liberties of individuals. In short, to honour the very principles proclaimed and articulated by the industry itself (and to a large degree reflected in the Editors’ Code of Practice).

Do we have that reflected in codes here?

Turning to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), I unhesitatingly agree with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition who all believe that the PCC has failed and that a new body is required. Mr Cameron described it as “ineffective and lacking in rigour” whilst Mr Miliband called it a “toothless poodle”. The Commission itself unanimously and realistically agreed in March 2012 to enter a transitional phase in preparation for its own abolition and replacement.

A fascinating recommendation here:

I have recommended as a first step that political leaders reflect constructively on the merits of publishing on behalf of their party a statement setting out, for the public, an explanation of the approach they propose to take as a matter of party policy in conducting relationships with the press.

Not quite sure what this would be. Would a political party have to state that their general approach is to take journalists out for boozy lunches so they write nice things about them? :-)

Some key recommendations:

  • An independent self regulatory body should be governed by an independent Board. In order to ensure the independence of the body, the Chair and members of the Board must be appointed in a genuinely open, transparent and independent way, without any influence from industry or Government.
  • The requirement for independence means that there should be no serving editors on the Board.
  • The Board should not have the power to prevent publication of any material, by anyone, at any time although
  • The Board should have the power to impose appropriate and proportionate sanctions, (including financial sanctions up to 1% of turnover with a maximum of £1m), on any subscriber found to be responsible for serious or systemic breaches of the standards code or governance requirements of the body.
  • The term ‘off-the-record briefing’ should be discontinued. The term ‘non-reportable briefing’ should be used to cover a background briefing which is not to be reported, and the term ‘embargoed briefing’ should be used to cover a situation where the content of the briefing may be reported but not until a specified event or time. These terms more neutrally describe what are legitimate police and media interactions.

Our own media regulation in New Zealand is also being reviewed by the Law Commission, whom I expect will publish a final report next year.

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Friday Photo: 30 November

November 30th, 2012 at 8:52 am by Chthoniid

A reminder that summer is on the way.  One of the peculiarities of NZ is that a lot of plant pollination is undertaken by native flies.  We have relatively few native bee species.

Click for larger, higher res image

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General Debate 30 November 2012

November 30th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Biting the hand that feeds

November 30th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Fox News reports:

Angus T. Jones, who has played the role of Jake Harper on the hit CBS show since 2003 and reportedly earns $350,000 an episode, is featured in a new video for the Forerunner Christian Church, in which he calls the sitcom “filth” that contradicts his devout Christian values.

That’s not all. The 19-year-old actor even urges fans to stop watching.

“I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I don’t want to be on it,” he said. “If you watch ‘Two and a Half Men,’ please stop watching it and filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television, especially with what you watch.”

Jones goes on to express guilt that his profession may be inflicting serious damage on its audience.

“If I am doing any harm, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan … You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t,” he continued. “I’m not OK with what I’m learning, what the Bible says and being on that television show.”

I wonder if Jones has asked to be released from his contract? To go on taking $350,000 from a show you denounce as filth is rather hypocritical.

Personally I’ve hardly watched it since Charlie Sheen left. It just isn’t the same without him.

Hat Tip: Bob McCoskrie

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Richard Meros salutes the Southern Man

November 29th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

On Tuesday night I went to Downstage to view Richard Meros salutes the Southern Man. My review of the previous Meros play on his desire to become Helen Clark’s young lover is here.

You get greeted at the door by Richard Meros (played by the talented Arthur Meek), and once you are all settled in, Meros begins his one hour presentation on how the Southern Man is the salvation for the NZ economy.

He starts by ascertaining the intellectual level of the audience and asks everyone with a Bachelor’s degree to stick their hand up. Only in Wellington could well over half the hands be up, and then you’re asked to keep them up if you have Honours, a Masters and finally a Doctorate. Again I suspect only in Wellington would you still have over half a dozen hands still up.

Those of us without degrees (such as me) were asked to translate the down to earth language for the intellectual elite :-)

The powerpoint presentation that is at the heart of the show has been masterfully put together. There is some nice choreography as Meros ducks behind the screen so he is in silhouette, and he ducks under and around various images as they fly in.

Meek is an adept performer and a boisterousness audience shouted out occasionally, and he worked that all into the performance.

The central premise of the show is that the New Zealand economy is facing disaster. and the answer to our problems lies with the mythical Southern Man who is compared to actual mythical heroes such as Hercules.

The show is funny and engaging, albeit not as side split-tingly funny as the Helen Clark production was. It’s an amusing journey through many New Zealand stereotypes and even sacred cows, with a tinge of politics weaved through it.

The script is put together by playwright Meros himself, director Geoff Pinfield and Meek. In a q+a after the show (Meros appearing in silhouette to protect his actual identity – which worked well until Pinfield called him by his actual first name!) they spoke about how they put the show together, and what it means for the liberal Clark loving Meros to now be idolising the Southern Man.

A lively quick show, which was a lot of fun. It’s on until Saturday night.

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Benefits of alcohol

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

Charley Mann at The Press reports:

Those who enjoy a glass or two should ignore the ”badly overstated” warnings about alcohol over the festive season, a University of Canterbury academic says.

The flurry of alcohol warnings ahead of Christmas were overstated and incorrect, said economics lecturer Dr Eric Crampton. ”Nobody warns us about the warnings.”

“And there’s danger in that … since some of the warnings are either false or badly overstated.”

Indeed.

Crampton said health warnings on alcohol focused ”exclusively” on curbing the harm experienced by heavy drinkers but ignored the enjoyment for moderate drinkers. This risked doing more harm than good, Crampton said.

”It is hard to open the paper without finding dire warnings about alcohol’s costs to the country. But how often do we hear that drinkers earn more than non-drinkers?

“Or that light drinkers have lower mortality risk than non-drinkers? Or that light-to-moderate drinking predicts better ageing outcomes?

Fundamentally alcohol is very different to tobacco. Tobacco kills you, even in moderation. Almost everyone who smokes wants to give up smoking. Very few moderate or light drinkers want to give up alcohol.

Hence the focus should be on heavy or binge drinking, not on demonising alcohol overall.

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The right to be an idiot

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

Michael Forbes at Stuff reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins says it is important that Kiwis retain the right to be idiots and make fools of themselves.

Ms Collins made the comment during her speech at a NetSafe conference in Wellington today, where she reinforced the her view that a hard line should be taken on cyber-bullying and harassment.

In doing so, she pointed to reports out of Britain this week where a woman was found guilty by a jury of racially abusing her New Zealand-born neighbour by calling her a “stupid fat Australian” during a drunken tirade.

Ms Collins said that while the Government was considering a range of initiatives and law changes to stamp out cyber-bullying, she did not want to see people’s freedom of speech restricted to that extent.

“I don’t think that’s something we want to see in New Zealand. I do think it’s important to retain the right to be idiots and to make fools of ourselves,” she said.

“But when it goes too far, particularly the sort of bullying that ends with young people committing suicide, that’s where we need to be very-much focused.”

There definitely is a case for some law changes. But we do need to be aware that the proposed Communications Tribunal with proposed powers to order material to be taken down does pose significant free speech issues – and it is important we get the balance right.

In August, the Law Commission released its report on harmful digital communications, which recommended a new electronic communications offence for those aged 14 and over and the establishment of a Communications Tribunal to enforce apologies, take-down and cease-and-desist orders, and unmask anonymous offenders.

Brian Edwards has a blog post on anonymous bloggers. He says:

More contemptible by far than the anonymous correspondent is the anonymous blogger, particularly in a democracy like New Zealand where freedom of speech is limited only by the laws of defamation.  Such lack of spine contrasts starkly with the courage of those anonymous bloggers and pamphleteers who are the advocates of freedom and democracy in totalitarian societies.

The irony is that those who blog under their actual names tend to be much better and effective for it. When you know that your words will be linked to you, you tend to take greater care in what you say.

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Bob Jones on the National Anthem

November 29th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Bob Jones writes in the Herald:

After many petitions over the years, the Muldoon government announced in 1976 that it would now have equal status with that other preposterously worded anthem, God Save the Queen, as our joint national anthems. Save the Queen from what? Scurvy, being eaten alive by a flock of frenzied flamingos, bursting into flames? We’re not told.

Aside from its totally over-the-top excessive use, which negates what one would assume ought to be a specialness, my other objection to our anthem is the preposterous lyrics. Targeting a mythical entity, God, it consists of a medley of pleadings, plus bragging about our wonderfulness. Like the Australian anthem, it is hugely embarrassing. I especially scorn the, “Peace not war shall be our boast” in the third stanza. In fairness to Bracken, he was not to know that over the next 130 years, we would be declaring war on numerous Africans, Asians and Europeans. Muldoon even wanted to chime in against Argentina 30 years ago but was knocked back when the Brits assured him Nepal’s Gurkhas had the matter in hand.

Picture the scene in the Kaiser’s palace in Berlin in August 1914. A lackey enters. “Puzzling news, sir. Apparently something called New Zealand has just declared was on us.”

The Kaiser looks astonished. “Have the bloody Dutch gone mad?”

“No, no. It’s somewhere near Colombia, we think. Heinrich’s looking it up now.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why have they declared war on us? I’ve never heard of them.”

“No idea, sir.”

And so our “Peace not war shall be our boast” anthem chanters participated in the most disgracefully pointless mass killing in human history.

Just for a moment, ignore the reality that as Einstein correctly said, “religion is simply childish”, and the fact that space research has now covered billions of miles in every direction without spotting an old bearded bugger in a nightie and sandals, let alone several billion harp-playing angels. Let’s pretend instead that there actually is an all-powerful God, able to control earthly events. Well, put yourself in his place, perhaps sitting quietly having breakfast with Mrs God or enjoying a round of heavenly golf, if enjoyment is possible with the certain knowledge of 18 holes-in-one, or whatever God gets his kicks from, and being constantly interrupted by earthly snivelling to change his mind about this and that, which is what prayer essentially constitutes. Wonderful though God supposedly is, even he would eventually snap and lash out with a few city-destroying earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and whatnot, and who could blame him? So in the interest of giving God a bit of peace and quiet, everyone of a mystical disposition should show some consideration and knock off this constant skyward braying. It’s not doing you any good.

Surely it’s time, after 156 years, for a fresh competition for a new national anthem, or at least its lyrics, cutting out the witchcraft references, given that we’re a secular nation.

I have long thought we could do with a better national anthem. The lyrics aren’t so much the issue for me, than the music. Some of the great anthems of other countries such as France are wonderfully stirring and poignant.

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A death sentence for a film

November 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Egyptian court has convicted in absentia seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

If you get death sentences for making crappy films, then someone should kill all the cast and crew of All The King’s Men! That is the 2006 version, not the 1949 version.

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The car cellphone ban

November 29th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Mathew Dearnaley in NZ Herald reports:

Police are shocked at the high numbers of drivers still dividing their attention between cellphones and the road, three years after calling or texting at the wheel was banned.

“That’s appalling, isn’t it?” said national road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths, when told how in one hour, the Herald counted 29 people using phones while driving north through Auckland’s 80km/h central motorway junction yesterday afternoon.

I’m not surprised. An educational campaign would be better than a ban.

Mr Griffiths said the number of tickets issued to cellphone offenders had risen steadily since the ban was imposed.

Of course. If people need to take a call, they take a call. I always said I doubted it would change behaviour – just get more fines.

The most blatant texter yesterday was a truckie punching a message into a phone he was holding above his steering wheel.

But he was possibly out-pointed for road peril by a woman who took both hands off her steering wheel to fix her hair while starting the descent to the motorway tunnel under Victoria Park.

Mr Griffiths agreed that cellphones were far from the only source of distraction.

This is what I objected to. The ban was on cellphone use only. Why not ban fixing your hair, changing the radio, eating, drinking in cars for drivers? They are all distractions. Far better would have been a focus on safe driving and use the general careless driving laws to get people who drive unsafely due to a cellphone etc.

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The Maori King

November 29th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The English got rid of the absolute power of the monarchy in 1215 when King John’s seal was attached to the Magna Carta at Runnymede. In Waikato, former MP Tukoroirangi Morgan wants to bring it back to protect the “mana” and “prestige” of the Maori king.

Mr Morgan, a central figure in the long-running dispute between King Tuheitia and sacked Waikato-Tainui parliament chairwoman Tania Martin, wants the king given the power to veto decisions made by the parliament and even to dissolve the body that represents Tainui’s 63,000 members. “We must never be able to go to court to settle our differences,” he said this week.

The parliament and Waikato Maori should reject Mr Morgan’s proposal.

The dispute between the king and tribal representatives in the parliament appears to be over control of Treaty settlement moneys that have now grown to $800 million. Those moneys were paid to Tainui by the Crown to settle the historical grievances of all Tainui, not just those of the king or the coterie of advisers who cluster about him.

Decisions about how that money is invested and how the dividends from it are spent should be made by all Tainui.

King Tuheitia’s mother, the Maori queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, was widely respected within Maoridom and outside it for the quiet dignity with which she performed her role. Behind the scenes, she knew how to work the phones but, publicly, she made a point of staying above the rough and tumble of politics.

King Tuheitia shows no such restraint. Not only has he got himself offside with the Government and alienated much of the Pakeha world by nonsensically declaring that Maori have “always owned the water”, but he has also allowed himself to be drawn into intra-tribal disputes and wrangles over the spending of Tainui money by the executive Mr Morgan once headed.

King Tuheitia seems to listen to Tuku Morgan only.

Morgan Godfery at Maui Street blogs:

 Gifting the King the power to dissolve tribal parliaments will not solve the political and structural problems in Tainui. At most, inserting the Kingitanga as the ultimate decision maker will only change the way tribal politics is played. So, rather than engage in legal plays**, ambitious tribal politicians will jostle for standing in the Kingitanga. Lobbying, not law, will be du jour. …

Here are the problems: 1) Under Tuku’s model, the King could dissolve TK and override the will of the individual iwi members. …

The troubles in Tainui are not tidy and while I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, I’m sure the answer is not to reduce democracy in favour of feudalism.

The infighting doesn’t affect me directly obviously. But I can’t see feudalism as helping the hapu and whanua of Tainui, for whom the settlements were intended to benefit.

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General Debate 29 November 2012

November 29th, 2012 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Redundancy law

November 29th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Susan Hornsby-Geluk from Chen Palmer writes in the Dom Post:

 Employees, listen up – here is something you may not know. If you are made redundant you will not be entitled to payment of any redundancy compensation unless you have an employment agreement which provides for this. It does not matter how long you have worked for a particular employer: no contract – no entitlement.

Harsh? Well, Labour MP Sue Moroney clearly thinks so. She recently introduced a member’s bill to Parliament which provides for minimum entitlements for employees if they are made redundant.

If the bill becomes law, every employee would be entitled to at least four weeks’ notice of their redundancy. They would also be entitled to redundancy compensation of four weeks’ pay for the first year of employment plus two weeks’ pay for every subsequent year, up to a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay in total. A similar bill was voted down by the National-led government in 2010.

This is trying to turn the clock back to the 1980s. Redundancy provisions should be negotiated on a case by case basis in collective or individual contracts. One size fits all laws are bad and kill jobs.

Employees may need greater protection in tough economic times, but introducing mandatory redundancy compensation to the level envisaged by Moroney could have unintended consequences.

In most cases the impact of such legislation would be felt by small employers. In the case of large employers, including government agencies, most of these businesses already provide for redundancy compensation in their employment agreements. So, for these employers the legislation will make little or no difference.

However, take your local dairy employing a handful of people. If the business has to restructure to prevent it going under, requiring the employer to pay significant redundancy compensation will only hasten the demise. The knock-on effect is the loss of employment of the other staff.

Exactly.  When a business is already struggling, onerous redundancy provisions can send it under. Labour wails about the lack of jobs on the one hand, yet keeps putting job destroying measures up.

Interestingly, a recent United States study indicated about 57 per cent of men negotiated employment agreement offers, whereas only 9 per cent of women did. In other words, they just accepted what was offered.

This is a fascinating statistic and in my opinion is the largest factor by far in the gender pay gap.

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The eye of DPF

November 28th, 2012 at 8:32 pm by David Farrar

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Will Peter Dunne do this new craze?

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

We saw Peter Dunne plank on Backbenches, after it became a viral craze. Will he take part in “milking”?

This craze started in Newcastle. Feel free to send in photos or videos of locals milking!

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Wednesday Wallpaper | Sunset & Lupins, Eglinton River NZ

November 28th, 2012 at 3:59 pm by Todd Sisson
New Zealand landscape Photos | Sunset Lupines Eglinton Valley, Fiordland

Russel Lupin(e)s Eglinton Valley, Fiordland New Zealand. Landscape Photography By Todd Sisson

 

This week’s wallpaper was captured on the banks of the Eglinton River, just outside the Fiordland National Park boundary – and apparently out of reach of the spray trucks. This little spot would surely make the world’s top 100 most idyllic freedom camping sites (self contained campers only of course) – barring the omnipresent cloud of sandflies.  I hope to get back there again one day soon.

Free Wallpaper Download

You may download the large version of today’s image from this link:  Password = freewallpaper

Of course it is also available as a premium Canvas Print on our website.

2013 Calendars

Thank you to those fine folk who have purchased our 2013 Calendar ‘South’ – your support is greatly appreciated :-)

See you next week!

Cheers – Todd

[www.sisson.co.nz] [blog]

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