Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Let’s ban bottle openers!

September 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christ’s College is perpetuating New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture by giving senior pupils a bottle-opener keyring at the school ball, an alcohol reform campaigner says.

The keyring, inscribed with “CC Ball 2014″, was given to the boys, mostly aged 17 or 18, at the ball on Saturday night. Girls were given lip balm.

National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman said the school was facilitating “the normalisation and glamourisation of heavy drinking” by presenting a collectable bottle opener.

“For the bottle opener to also be a keyring, which directly promotes a permissive attitude towards drink driving, raises the stakes of inappropriateness to top-shelf,” he said.

Christ’s College headmaster Simon Leese defended the gift, saying it was “almost laughable” someone would make an issue of it.

“Anybody can go into Briscoes, and anywhere else, and buy a bottle opener at any age. Frankly, this is a nonsense line of inquiry.”

I agree. I also point out that youth drinking rates have been falling for many years.

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Should we keep juries for rape trials?

September 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Rape myths do the most damage when they show up among jurors – and for that reason, juries should not be part of sexual assault trials, Louise Nicholas says.

The anti-rape advocate believes jurors in such trials often bring their own biases and trauma about the crime into the courtroom.

“People go in with their own thinking. They may have been a victim of sex violence in their lifetime, and a lot of those people have their judgments, like I didn’t need a counsellor, I didn’t need to go through this.

“To take jurors out of the process is a huge step forward to abolishing rape myths.”

I’m massively against Labour’s policy to make people who have sex prove they are innocent of rape. Reversing the burden of proof is an horrific idea.

But I think there are more balanced arguments over whether rape trials should be with Judges only.

Nicholas was in Wellington to talk to Victoria University students about sexual assault and the justice system, days after Wellington police dropped a sexual assault inquiry into an incident outside Massey University last month.

Nicholas said false allegations of rape make it harder for victims. “We certainly do have women, in particular, who come forward because they’re pissed off about their boyfriend shagging their mate.”

The danger was that the public then started to assume all claims were false, she said. “It does put a stigma on other victims.”

Good to see Nicholas talk about the damage caused by false allegations. They harm actual rape victims.

The removal of jurors from rape trials was recommended by the Law Commission in 2012, but was rejected by the Government.

Acting Justice Minister Chris Finlayson said that the right to a jury trial was a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, but the re-traumatising of victims should not be.

“The Ministry of Justice is working on legislation to tighten the rules about questioning a complainant about previous sexual experiences, and establishing a presumption that child witnesses give their evidence via the video of their police interview.”

Which seem reasonable steps.

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NZ 6th for education efficiency

September 15th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A report assessing 30 OECD countries for their educational efficiency (results vs money spent) has New Zealand as 6th best. The top 10 are:

  1. Finland 87.8%
  2. Korea 86.7%
  3. Czech Republic 84.4%
  4. Hungary 84.1%
  5. Japan 83.9%
  6. New Zealand 83.3%
  7. Slovenia 83.3%
  8. Australia 81.2%
  9. Sweden 80.6%
  10. Iceland 79.4%

Of interest the two most efficient systems have relatively large class sizes. Finland averages 1:16.5 and NZ 1:13.5.  Greece by the way has a 1:9.7 ratio!

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The NBR paywall

September 12th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR has given some details around its paywall, as the Herald confirms they will introduce one in early 2015. Some details:

  • 3,000 individual subscriptions (at $230 each = $690,000)
  • 300 business subscriptions
  • NBR gets 55,000 visitors and 300,000 pageviews a day
  • Total revenune for NBR Online around $1 million a year
  • Print circulation revenue around $2,850,000

I’ve often cited NBR as a rare paywall model that works. They get the mix of free and non free stuff right, and they provide analysis and news you can get elsewhere. People won’t pay for news stories that are covered on a dozen other sites, but they will for quality analysis.

 

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Former Salient staff now journalists

September 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Salient interviewed over Twitter a number of former staff who are still in journalism, and the q+a are quite interesting. Those who responded include Patrick Gower (3 News), Elle Hunt (Radio NZ/The Wireless), Laura McQuillan (NewstalkZB), Matt Nippert (Fairfax), John Campbell (Campbell Live), Simon WIlson (Metro) and Toby Manhire (Listener et al).

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A great small business story

September 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

When the Christchurch earthquake left hairdresser Michele Robertson and her friends short of a workplace, she decided to open her own.

Few 23-year-olds saw opportunity in the destruction of their city. But Robertson, who has worked in salons since she was 16, had always wanted to own her own.

“I was naive enough to think it could work,” she says.

“And it did.”

But Robertson was not without her naysayers.

“The first meeting I had with the bank manager – the earthquake had just happened, he might have been having a bad day – but the way he spoke to me was so degrading,” she says. “I went home and nearly gave up.”

Even reality television show host Tabatha Coffey, of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, said Robertson was “crazy” when she met her at a hairdressing event at the Sky Tower.

But Robertson figured, “If I failed, I had the rest of my life to fix it. If I succeeded, I’d set myself up for a really good career.”

She opened Balayage, in Addington, five months after the earthquake in July 2011, thanks to $15,000 loan from her parents via the bank.

Mentors such as former boss Sonya Mbonyinshuti and uncle Jon Weir, who owns a construction company in Christchurch, encouraged Robertson to learn from their failures, as well as their successes.

Their main advice?

“Not seeing money that comes into your bank account as yours. It’s not,” Robertson says.

Following this, she paid herself about $200 a week for the first seven months and put most of salon’s revenue into a tax and GST account. She worked six days out of seven, and lived at home.

After one year, Robertson owned Balayage freehold and had a $2000 surplus, which she gave to local charity Te Mapua Child and Youth Trust.

That’s a great story. We need more people like Michelle willing to give it a go. Her experience of very low incomes for the initial year is not unique. I know of an advertising agency where the owners were paying themselves less than the receptionist, in a bid to keep it going.

This is one of the reasons why we should be very wary of employment law changes that will impose extra costs on small businesses. Many of them start off on the verge of failure, and it would not take much to push them over the edge.

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Issues that matter – the Economy

September 9th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I think the economy matters and should be a much bigger issue in this election so I’ve put together almost a dozen graphs showing the difference between National and Labour’s record on 11 important economic indicators. These are issues that matter to families and businesses.

foodinflation

 

Food prices increased 18.6% in Labour’s last term. Food prices have increased only 1.3% in National’s last three years.

currentaccount

 

Labour left office with the current account deficit at 7.9% of GDP. It is now at 2.8%.

electprices

 

Power prices went up 22.9% in Labour’s last three years. The rate has halved to 12.1% in National’s last three years.

austmigration

 

There was a net loss of 35,830 people to Australia in Labour’s last year of office. In the last 12 months only 7,150 net departures – and in recent months under 100 a month.

inflation

 

The overall cost of living increases or inflation totalled 9.5% in Labour’s last three years. A third of that now at 3.3% over the last three years of National.

bot

 

Labour left office with an annual balance of trade deficit of $5.3 billion. In the last 12 months it has been a surplus of $1.3 billion

fruitvege

 

Remember Labour wanting to remove GST off fruit and vegetables. Under the last three years of Labour their prices went up 33.2%! Total increase in the last three years is a mere 1.4%.

deficit

 

The deficit in 2008/09 (on the fiscal settings left by Labour, and the impact of the GFC) was a massive $10.5 billion. Labour have opposed every piece of spending restraint since, but despite their opposition we are on track to a small $300 million surplus this year.

incomes

 

In June 2008 the median after tax income for a full time worker was $38,600 (in 2013 dollars). That has increased to $42,100 by June 2013, meaning the median FT worker has an extra $3,500 income to spend – and this during the worst recession the world has seen since the Great Depression.

unemployment

 

Unemployment went up by 27,000 in Labour’s last year in office. It has declined by 17.000 in the last 12 months, and is projected to keep declining.

You are welcome to share any or all of these graphs. All data is directly from Stats NZ Infoshare except the income data where I have used the IRD website to calculate the tax impact and the Reserve Bank website to adjust them for inflation.

New Zealanders have a clear choice. Remaining on our present course which is surplus, falling unemployment, low prices, fewer Kiwis leaving, growing after tax incomes and affordable food – or a radical change of policy which would see many more taxes, less competition, a massively expanded state and an unstable alternate Government.

It is only through a healthy economy do we get to have the money to fund our health and education systems. And that brings me to my final graph.

gdp

That is economic growth for Labour’s last year in office, and National’s last 12 months.

Government do not directly control many of these economic measures. But they can and do impact them with their economic policies. The difference between where we are today and where we were in the mid to late 2000s is stark.

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The best ever bail decision by a Judge

September 8th, 2014 at 5:35 pm by David Farrar

Bail Judgment

I love this bail decision by Judge Roy Wade. He has included in the court note, the comments of the defendant as he refused bail!

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A cool school app

September 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Keeping up with the kids’ school activities just got easier for some Hamilton parents thanks to a mobile phone app.

Parents can notify absences, check upcoming events and get notices and more through Southwell School’s app.

It has been up and running for around two weeks and is so far on about 500 phones.

The free app runs on iPhone and Android and was developed by Snapp Mobile in about six weeks, Helm said.

Southwell would have spent less than $5000 on the app, which came with a “back end” website so the school can make minor modifications.

Snapp Mobile director Joshua Woodham said more and more schools were choosing to communicate with parents through apps.

School parents were on the go and found it helpful to receive updates and alerts on their mobile devices wherever they were, he said.

Functions of the Southwell app include checking out upcoming events and copying them to personal calendars, linking parents to ticket purchasing, quick access to staff contact details, and alerts straight to mobile.

That’s a very worthwhile investment. Good initiative.

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A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney

September 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Circa has put on a production of A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney.

The play, written by Lucas Hnath started on Broadway, and I think this is the first time it has been produced in New Zealand.

I was excited to see the play, as it starred David McPhail as Walt Disney. However, despite some very good acting, I found the play overall under-whelming.

The four actors did well. I loved seeing David McPhail on the stage, and he looked and felt the part of a domineering boss. Maybe he was channeling his years spent playing Muldoon.

Nick Blake played Walt’s brother Roy. Roy was CEO of Disney for many years and was portrayed as the guy kept in the shadows by Walt, and even used by Walt as a foil. His depiction of Roy was very sympathetic .

Jessica Robinson played Walt’s daughter (Diane, but not named in the play). She had few lines but they were the best parts, especially when she said she didn’t want to call a son Walt, because “When I say your name, I think all sorts of things I don’t want to think. When I say your name, I think of you, and when I think of you I get all angry, and when I think of you and the way you act, and the way you yell …”

And Richard Falkner played Ron, Walt’s son-in-law. He was portrayed as a bit of a sports focused jock (and looked the part). He wanted a role with the Disney empire, even as a cleaner, but was not seen up to scratch.

The cast did well, and I liked the production details such as having Diane and Ron on stage through all the scenes where they didn’t talk, but reacting with facial expressions. Robinson especially conveyed as much with her expressions as her line.

But overall I found the play hard to get into. It livened up around half way through, but it did not emotionally engage me. There was some dramatic tension and humour, but you never felt particularly warm or repulsed to any of the characters. It almost seemed ordinary, except it was about the family of Walt Disney.

It could have been redeemed (and the fault is with the script, not the local production) if the play was based on real events. I like plays where you learn stuff about someone famous, especially a side not seen before. One could do a very good play about the darker side of Walt Disney. He was on the fringes of the anti-semitic movement, and he had feuds lasting decades with staff.

But the focus on the family didn’t work for me, as it seems to be more speculation than fact. While Disney may have been a difficult father, his daughter actually is very loyal to him, and has attacked other works criticising him. She even set up the family museum in his honour. And one of her sons is named Walter.

The son-in-law actually was CEO of Disney for many years, so wasn’t a thicko. And the stuff on Disney wanting to be cryogenically frozen is a debunked urban legend.

John Smythe at Threatreview commented:

It’s entirely possible A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about The Death of Walt Disney could work much better in the relative intimacy of Circa Two – and I have a strong feeling Destination Beehive (in Circa Two with its cast of eight) is destined to sell out and leave many punters disappointed. If it was logistically possible for the shows to swap venues, I think they should.

I’d endorse that. This play is unlikely to have mass appeal, but it is still an interesting insight into the Disney empire.

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Pupil power

September 2nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

Who said school rules can’t be changed?

The Waikouaiti School board of trustees has thrown out one of its longstanding school rules after two of its pupils presented a convincing case to the board.

Tamati Sagar and Aaron Jones (both 10) love climbing trees, but the practice is banned for safety reasons.

The duo surveyed all the school’s parents and found about 90% of them were in favour of allowing their children to climb trees during break times.

The boys prepared a pie chart on their findings and presented it to the board of trustees and school staff.

Board members were so impressed they relaxed the school rule three weeks ago, and children are now enjoying the freedom to climb trees in the playground.

Great to see aspiring pollsters doing well!

But also great to see a little less nanny state applying at a school. Kids have accidents as part of having fun. The risk should not prevent them having fun.

I recall there was a little fort in a tree at Island Bay Primary School. One of the 4x2s fell off and landed on my head. It hurt and there was a fair bit of blood, but no one said we should ban tree forts. The answer was just to make them more secure!

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Tree prosecutions unwarranted

September 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Kapiti Coast District Council’s prosecution of two elderly Otaki couples for trimming native trees was “inappropriate”, and “fell short of what was needed”, according to an independent review.

“The overall criminality was minimal,” the report, commissioned by the council from Wellington QC Richard Fowler, says.

“A mere warning would probably have been the most appropriate, or at worst an infringement notice.”

The council laid charges against Peter and Diana Standen, 77 and 74, and Keith and Lorraine McLeavey, 72 and 68, last year for modifying naturally occurring native trees on their properties. It withdrew them when an Environment Court judge dismissed charges against the McLeaveys as “trivial offending”.

This was a Council at its zealous worse. Of course they should not have been prosecuted. In fact there shouldn’t even be any restrictions on what home owners can do with trees they own on their properties – unless the trees are of outstanding heritage value.

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So incredibly sad

September 2nd, 2014 at 7:05 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two Work and Income staff made a desperate dash for the back door of their Ashburton office when the shooting started.

Homeless beneficiary Russel John Tully, 48, was yesterday arrested following the shooting of three women at the office, two fatally.

Lindy Curtis was last night in a stable condition in Christchurch Hospital with leg injuries. Peg Noble was on reception when a gunman walked into the office and shot her in the chest. A third woman was also killed.

Noble was 10 minutes from her tea break when she was shot at close range.

Yesterday, friend Elizabeth Rees said Noble was a second mother to her daughter, Kim, who worked in the same office.

Kim was due to relieve Noble on reception and had a narrow escape.

”She’s been crying and crying. She came home, saw her kids and it hit her,” Rees said.

Her daughter and another staff member had run for their lives to the back door of the office and then out to the street, Rees said.

I don’t think I can even understand the trauma the staff have gone through, let alone the impact on families and friends of those killed.

Noble had worked for Work and Income for 20 years and was supposed to retire years ago but loved her job.

”She lived for her job,” Rees said. ”She had a heart of gold and would do anything for you.”

If found guilty, I hope Mr Tully is basically never released.

The Herald reports:

Former Green MP Sue Bradford has drawn an outraged response after saying the Government’s “brutal policies” led to today’s attack on Ashburton Work and Income staff.

Ms Bradford, a life-long unemployment activist who now lectures in social practice at Unitec, tweeted: “Shocking news coming in of Work & Income shooting: awful, but a risk when office becomes front for brutal policies.”

Internet Party Kelston candidate Roshni Sami tweeted in support: “Nats brag that 1600 people p/w move off welfare into jobs, in reality they’re pushed off welfare into hardship. Shame!”

But a string of other people following Ms Bradford on Twitter attacked her for the original comment.

“Not appropriate Sue. Of all people you should know that,” tweeted Auckland psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald.

Media monitoring worker Regan Gibbons tweeted, “Really Sue, you couldn’t give it a day before politicising this tragedy?”

Others described the tweet as “a sick comment”, “a total disgrace” and “disgusting.” One tweeted: “You are an opportunistic, moralising windbag.”

I don’t what to even call such behaviour. If blaming rape victims for getting raped is called rape culture, is this murder culture? Good on those who called Bradford and the Internet Party candidate out. I had a couple of people also try to blame the victims or their employers on Twitter and Facebook, and instantly blocked them.

Ms Bradford said she sent out the tweet – which has since been deleted – before knowing that two people had been killed and her sympathies were with the workers who died.

Oh so in Sue’s world it is okay to blame the Government for the shooting if they were just wounded, but not okay if they were killed? Really?

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Destination Beehive

September 1st, 2014 at 4:32 pm by David Farrar

Went to Circa yesterday to see Destination Beehive, and I laughed almost non stop for 80 minutes.

It’s a great production that anyone who has even a small interest in politics will adore. Pinky Agnew and Lorae Perry have combined a topical hilarious script, with some great acting and some mashed up tunes that are very catchy.

The basic premise is that you are in a Meet the Candidates meeting for Port Nicholson. Through a combination of video, and live acting, you meet the ten local candidates, and their party leaders (or senior MPs).

The mixture of video, singing, music, acting and even weather reports are a fabulous combination.

A cast of eight play multiple characters. They all did really well, but the one that I must highlight is Jack Buchanan. His Colin Craig character was side splitting. He also played a leggy Jacinda Ardern and the ALCP candidate. some of the costume changes were done in less than a minute.

The play was updated to keep event of currents events. We went on Sunday, and they had a piece on Judith Collins’ resignation the previous day.

Labour had a secret surprise candidate for Port Nic, who may just turn out to be the next Leader of the Labour Party.

One audience members got dragged up onto stage to get a “political makeover”. What was very funny is that unknown to the cast, the person they chose is a senior ministerial staffer. She took her makeover in good grace!

All parties, leaders and candidates are mercilessly mocked. No on is spared. Kim Dotcom makes an appearance, and his local candidate is a very Bavarian Heidi Dotcodotnz.

Crowd favourite was Dame Kate Harcourt playing the NZ First candidate. She was, as always, just superb.

Whale Oil got more mentions than most MPs. Luckily Kiwiblog was mentioned only once!

There are many great musical parodies, including take off’s of Lorde’s Royals. The crowd really got into it, and started singing along.

There’s also a great dance number at the end that will surprise.

This is one of those plays that I can recommend you see without hesitation. It’s on at Circa until 20 September. You’ll kick yourself if you miss it.

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Air NZ fares

September 1st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Kiwis wanting to travel to some regional centres are faced with an 18-hour bus ride – or forking out hundreds of dollars for an Air New Zealand flight. And, in some centres, it is cheaper to drive a car-load of people than buy a single airfare.

The Herald has compared the cost of Air New Zealand, Naked Bus and private car prices between North Island regional centres and Auckland or Wellington after Air NZ faced criticism this week for the price of its regional airfares. It found travellers could be paying more than 10 times more for the convenience of flying.

Let’s look at their data.

The Herald comparisons were for travellers trying to fly after, or as close to, 5pm on Friday September 12 and returning on Sunday afternoon.

Flying from Auckland to Tauranga return would cost $438 or $1.07/km, while taking a bus would be just $47.97 or 12c/km, according to prices listed on the companies’ websites.

Those times are basically peak times. Yes they cost $438 at peak times. But leave earlier each day, and the cost is only $238.

Personally I would drive Auckland to Tauranga as the drive time is around the same as fly and airport time.

A return flight between Wellington and Palmerston North was $326 or $1.15/km while the same trip on a bus was just $33.97 or 11c/km.

Again if you avoid peak times can be as cheap as $178 return.

But time is money. If your time is not valuable, then a bus is a good idea.

An Air NZ spokeswoman said the business offered close to a million regional seats for under $100 each year, up 400,000 seats in the past five years.

If you want cheap fares, then don’t fly at peak times.

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Monday Motivator – Anawhata Wonder

September 1st, 2014 at 11:51 am by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 29

Anawhata Wonder, Anawhata Beach, New Zealand

Anawhata is a stunning beach out on Auckland’s West Coast and is only accessible by foot. On this particular evening waiting till the sun had fully set paid off as I was treated to a spectacular display of light.

Click on the image for a larger view of this photograph.

Cheers

Richard [richardhume.com]

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

 

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Two killed at Ashburton WINZ

September 1st, 2014 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two people have been shot dead by a balaclava-clad gunman at a Work and Income office in Ashburton.

The gunman entered the office on the corner of Cass and Moore streets, and fired several shots before fleeing on a bike.

He was last seen heading towards the Ashburton river. 

A source confirmed to Fairfax Media that one person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital. A third person remained in hospital in a critical condition, the source said.

The Ashburton Guardian quoted a witness who was in the building when the shots were fired.

The witness said a man shot two women. He believed they were both Work and Income staff members, the newspaper reported.

How terrifying and horrific for WINZ staff in Ashburton, and all their colleagues around the country. My thoughts are with them all.

I hope the person who did this is apprehended, convicted, and not eligible for parole on their life sentence for a very very long time.

I’d ask people not to politicise this tragedy, but just to mourn those killed, and have sympathy for their colleagues.

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Drinnan on uneven responses on “rape culture”

September 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

John Drinnan writes in the Herald:

It has been intriguing to see the reasoned response of opinion-makers to the Kill the Prime Minister song, and compare it with the witch-hunt against John Tamihere, which led to the broadcaster being sacked from RadioLive.

In this latest case, there have been questions about taxpayer support for the band @Peace, though this was unreasonable since the NZ On Air support was for the band, not the song. There was some chiding over the sexual references to the Prime Minister’s daughter, Steffi Key, and the obligatory cries of FFS. But overall, it was a sane response.

This was in marked contrast to the media storm that blew up over Tamihere, with the left approaching advertisers to withdraw from RadioLive and attacking Tamihere, Willie Jackson and anyone who dared suggest there were freedom of speech issues involved.

That issue came down to whether Tamihere asked the wrong questions of an unnamed young girl who called in to his and Jackson’s radio show over the Roastbusters allegations. While this person – Amy – has disappeared from sight, it appears that she was actually known to the broadcasters.

The transgressions were much less direct than those by @Peace. Admittedly, there wasn’t much that could be done to the band, which now seems to see how crass the song was. But songwriter Tom Scott is a talented individual and the telling off was all that was required.

However, when you compare the case with that of Tamihere, you can’t help but think the vigilantes are more concerned about who does wrong things, not their actual transgressions.

I agree. Tamihere and Jackson faced a massive backlash, an advertising boycott campaign, and worse.

While when it comes to the far far worse actions of @peace, the same suspects have just said they think the song is bad, but under no circumstances should they be ruled ineligible for taxpayer funding for their other songs. No boycott for them.

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Working on the relationship after throwing knife into the skull

August 28th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A 21-year-old woman has admitted throwing a knife which lodged in the skull of her partner, but the couple is now “working on the relationship”.

That would be interesting counselling sessions!

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A heart breaking story

August 28th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A New Zealand great-grandmother suffering from dementia took her own life with her husband at her side just hours after publishing a moving letter explaining her decision.

Christchurch-born Gillian Bennett, 85, died near her home in Canada on August 18. Her husband Jonathan held her hand during her final moments, around midday.

Yesterday he spoke to the Herald about his wife of 60 years’ decision to end her life, why he supported her and why he wants people to read her four-page letter.

Some extracts from the letter:

I will take my life today around noon. It is time. Dementia is taking its toll and I have nearly lost myself. I have nearly lost me. Jonathan, the straightest and brightest of men, will be at my side as a loving witness.

There comes a time, in the progress of dementia, when one is no longer competent to guide one’s own affairs. I want out before the day when I can no longer assess my situation, or take action to bring my life to an end.

Every day I lose bits of myself, and it’s obvious that I am heading towards the state that all dementia patients eventually get to: not knowing who I am and requiring full-time care. I know as I write these words that within six months or nine months or twelve months, I, Gillian, will no longer be here.

I have had a husband beyond compare, and children and grandchildren who have outstripped me in most meaningful ways. Since I was seven I have had wonderful friends, whom I did and still do adore.

Today, now, I go cheerfully and so thankfully into that good night. Jonathan, the courageous, the faithful, the true and the gentle, surrounds me with company. I need no more.

It is almost noon.

You can only feel for families that have to struggle with these decisions.

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Should he have kept his license?

August 28th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Hamilton man has kept his licence after being sentenced for speeding – driving his Mazda RX7 at 181kmh – with his two siblings in the passenger seats.

Greg Mario Prendergast, 27, was caught by police exceeding the 80kmh speed limit by 101kmh on Avalon Drive on December 18, last year.

He was sentenced on a charge of operating a vehicle in an unnecessary exhibition of speed or acceleration after earlier pleading guilty in the Hamilton District Court yesterday.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Steven Bell said aggravating the situation was the fact his two siblings – a brother aged 25 and a sister aged 15 – were in the car with him.

He urged Judge Rosemary Riddell to issue a disqualification from driving.

“We can’t condone those speeds … he’s the second person to be caught out there doing those speeds.”

He also had other driving convictions, including drink-driving, sustained loss of traction and driving while disqualified.

My first reaction was outrage that he has kept his licence, despite driving 101 km over the limit was a 15 year old in the car. His previous convictions make it worse.

However, Prendergast’s counsel Gina Jenkins successfully argued for him to be able to keep his licence.

Jenkins said her client had successfully completed the Right Track Programme, which gives driving offenders the chance to see the consequences of their actions, and needed his for work.

If he couldn’t keep his licence, he would also lose his job, she said.

Prendergast didn’t qualify for a limited licence.

Jenkins said disqualification from driving would also affect his family as Prendergast was the sole bread winner for his wife and three children. He had also sold the RX7.

Judge Riddell said she felt the police had focused purely on Prendergast’s actions at the time and not the work he had done since.

Judge Riddell was also impressed at his speech upon graduating the Right Track course in which he said prior to this incident he’d never thought about the possibility of crashing, and “the clearer the road, the faster I would go”.

“It’s clear from your speech that it has been brought home to you of just what speed can do,” Judge Riddell said.

It’s a line call, but I can see why they didn’t want him losing his job. I hope he takes the chance the Judge has given him. My view is that he gets caught doing dangerous driving again, then he should face losing his liberty, not just his license.

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I’m fine with Police being undercover in bars

August 27th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Undercover police officers drank in Dunedin bars as part of an operation targeting liquor licensing offences.

While police said the inaugural operation was a success — with most bars found compliant — the Hospitality Association slammed the move as “creepy”.

Two Central Otago-based police officers — in their mid-20s — visited city bars on Saturday night to check compliance with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. …

The undercover officers visited six bars in total, with some bars visited twice.

He confirmed those officers were allowed to drink while on duty.

“There is case law that backs up if someone is in a licensed premises, then one drink an hour is appropriate … otherwise you would stand out.”

The behaviour of licensees and staff was largely found to be compliant. One Octagon bar was given a written warning, after serving alcohol to an intoxicated patron at 3.40am on Sunday.

I’m fine with this. Bars shouldn’t serve people who are clearly intoxicated. The only reliable way to check on this is with undercover officers, so I have no problems with this.

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Boris for PM

August 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

London Mayor Boris Johnson will seek to become a Member of Parliament in west London at next year’s general election, his spokesman says, raising the prospect of a future run at becoming prime minister.

Johnson, known for his unkempt shock of blond hair and frequent gaffes, hopes to be selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a seat the party has held since 1970, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

This is exciting news. Boris as an MP again will either become Prime Minister or explode in a spectacular scandal, probably involving several women.

Johnson has always publicly played down his chances of eventually becoming prime minister, saying they were about as good as those “of finding Elvis on Mars or my being reincarnated as an olive”.

The King is alive!

A poll in June 2014 showed his approval rating as Mayor was 64% good and 27% poor. Even Labour and Lib Dem voters are more likely to say he is doing well than poor.

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Auckland 10th most liveable city

August 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Economist has published an updated list of the most liveable cities in the world. The top 10 are:

  1. Melbourne
  2. Vienna
  3. Vancouver
  4. Toronto
  5. Adelaide
  6. Calgary
  7. Sydney
  8. Helsinki
  9. Perth
  10. Auckland

Auckland scores the following:

  • Stability 95
  • Healthcare 95.8
  • Culture & Environment 97
  • Education 100
  • Infrastructure 92.9
  • Overall 95.7

The bottom city is Damascus!

Nice to have a city in the top 10. I do like Melbourne, but do have to rave about Vienna. I love Vienna, and if I had to live in Europe, would choose Vienna.

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How does a Council lose 150 cars?

August 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The Dunedin City Council has laid a complaint with police following an internal investigation into alleged fraud.

Council CEO Sue Bidrose says the fraud totals more than 1.5 million dollars and centres around the sale of more than 150 vehicles from the council fleet.

Citifleet team leader Brent Bachop died in May, Deloitte was engaged by the council two days after his death, when staff identified apparent discrepancies in the fleet.

This is almost unbelievable. Auditors can’t and are not expected to pick everything up, but checking the fixed assets schedule against the actual assets is pretty routine.

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