Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Police told off for being helpful

January 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Plymouth police have been rapped over the knuckles by national headquarters for taking a hospitable approach to those asking for a breath test.

It was reported earlier this month that people often entered the station asking to be tested. Officers, if not too busy, were happy to oblige.

A very sensible approach, helping ensure people don’t break the law.

However, New Plymouth police have now been told their approach does not line up with national policy – and that they should stop immediately.

“While these staff have acted in good faith and with the best of intentions, there is a risk if for example someone initially passes a test, then drives and is found later to be over the limit, or is involved in a crash, which could have tragic consequences,” Central Districts Acting District Commander Inspector Mark Harrison said.

So the Police would rather cover their arse, than help people not break the law.

Harrison said the best advice to those out socialising was “to make the choice whether to drink or drive – not both.”

 

That is not what the law says. Who appointed them moral guardians?

Sergeant Bruce Irvine said at the time that those with any level of alcohol on their breath were advised not to drive because test results could change within minutes.

“We will always say this is here and now; if in 30 minutes you go and drive it could be different,” he said. “It’s not a get-out-of-jail free card. We advise unless you’re breathing zero it’s not worth taking the risk.”

Senior Sergeant Robbie O’Keefe said at the time that people who came in were often unsure if they were over or under and wanted to do the right thing.

If a test deterred them from driving it was a good thing, he said.

The local Police were acting very sensibly – testing those who wanted it, but warning them they should not drive anyway. A pity the Police hierarchy would rather people get arrested after the fact, than make it easy for people to make an informed decision about whether it is safe to legally drive.

 

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Threats against a journalist

January 27th, 2015 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police are investigating a complaint from controversial columnist Rachel Stewart after a threatening hand-written message was left in her letterbox and her social media account was inundated with abusive posts.

Stewart says she has been subjected to a string of malicious messages this week, including threats to rape and kill her, following the publication of her fortnightly opinion piece in Fairfax papers, among them the Manawatu Standard, on Monday.

This week’s article, headlined “That high-pitched whining must stop”, talked about irrigation schemes, water quality, the low milk payout, workplace regulations, suicide, stress and farmers complying with the law.

However, the backlash to the article turned sinister, and Stewart says “sexist, standover tactics and personal slurs” were posted from accounts using pen-names and then circulated via Twitter by prominent members of New Zealand’s farming community. A hand-written anonymous note saying: “See we not so DumB we Don’t No where u live. Bitch.[sic]” was also delivered to Stewart’s house, prompting her to lay a complaint and for police to launch an investigation.

There is a difference between online abuse (which is rather common) and an actual note delivered to your home address which is stalkerish and scary. There is no room for such threats in our country – and it has been rightfully referred to the Police.

Stewart’s column was puerile and offensive. Dealing with the issue of farmer suicide by saying “Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen” reflects badly on her. However you don’t respond to such crap with purported threats to rape or kill, which is also entirely unacceptable.

A better response to Stewart’s column would be to invite her to come work on a farm for a month or so, and deal with getting up at 5 am seven days a week, than abusing her, and especially threatening her.

UPDATE: A commenter claims that Stewart is a former office holder of Federated Farmers. Regardless, my point stands that outreach and dialogue is preferable to abuse.

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Uber editorials

January 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Some of the complaining is down to professional jealousy and turf-guarding. But it has also posed important questions around passenger safety. So it is welcome that the Government will review the regulations around “small passenger services” – the umbrella term covering taxi companies and private hire outfits. Uber is classed among the latter group, which exempts it from certain lengthy rules around fares, meters, back offices, taxi licences and signage. That’s for the good – these rules simply don’t apply to Uber – and it helps the company offer lower prices than taxis.

But the classification also allows Uber more dubious advantages: no need for security cameras mandatory in most taxis; no need for “area knowledge” and language standards that many taxi drivers must meet; less onerous rules around reporting complaints.

It’s not clear why Uber should enjoy such perks. Its model is fundamentally an advance in ease-of-payment and passenger-driver matchmaking – not an advance in safety. And that is the main reason for having rules: to do what is reasonable to ensure the safety of passengers and drivers.

 

The security cameras were not put in to protect passengers, but taxi drivers. And they shouldn’t be mandatory anyway.

The editorial misses the key difference between Uber and taxis. With a taxi you get basically no choice as to who your driver is. With Uber you can choose your driver, and you get to see what other passengers have said about them. It is potentially a far more powerful model for safety and quality.

It is like Trade Me – your reputation is vital. Get some bad reviews, and people won’t trade with you.

So the Dom Post misses the point when it says Uber has perks because it does not need to meet taxi standards. Taxis gets regulated by their companies and the state. Uber drivers effectively get regulated by passengers – if your driver gets you lost, you’ll give them a bad review.

The Press takes a more enlightened approach:

It is, however, one of the most disruptive businesses of all those businesses whose disruption is based on technology and it has aroused fierce resentment, among taxi companies in particular. In some countries it has been banned.

Taxi companies say Uber has an unfair advantage because although it operates as a taxi service it is not subject to the multiplicity of regulations that taxi companies must obey. Uber insists, and the Transport Agency at this point agrees, that it is a hire-car service and it fits within all the applicable regulations.

The differences between taxi and hire-car services are that taxis may be hailed in the street and charge by the metered distance they travel, plus extras like credit-card and eftpos fees.

Hire-car services must be booked in advance for a fee agreed in advance. Uber’s drivers are private operators with their own cars. Customers engage them via a smartphone application. The differences between the services can become blurred, however, and taxi companies say that some Uber operators are stepping over the line.

Some of the taxi companies’ fears, such as those about safety, can probably be discounted. Uber drivers, for instance, are vetted and must have a public passenger licence.

Passengers and drivers rate each other and Uber dismisses those drivers with consistently poor ratings. Because of the way they are hired, any misbehaving driver (or passenger) could also usually be traced.

There is, however, a strong argument for saying that taxis are over-regulated. Foss says that the Government wants to allow innovation to flourish. The review he has proposed must allow that and should not be used as a device to shut innovation down.

I’d be impressed with a taxi firm that tried to emulate Uber rather than close it down. Why not allow us to easily rate our taxi drivers and have that info available to passengers? Why can’t a taxi company inform a passenger which cabs are nearby, and allow the passenger to choose the one they want?

 

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How old is Waikanae?

January 26th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Waikane may have one of the largest populations of over-65-year-olds in the country and a mobility scooter seemingly on every street, but the town’s promoters say they are sick to death of the town being tagged “God’s waiting room.”

Former Kapiti mayor Brett Ambler coined the phrase more than 10 years ago and it stuck – perhaps a sign of its accuracy.

But Keep Waikanae Beautiful and Destination Waikanae are fed up with the phrase and the description “pensioner paradise.”

Norma McCallum, 79, has run Keep Waikanae Beautiful for 20 years and says the term ‘God’s waiting room’ should be dropped. …

Destination Waikanae member Sue Lusk, 61, said not just elderly people lived in the town.

“About 25 per cent of the population is over 65 but 75 per cent of everybody else includes a lot of young families and a terrific number of very well people. It is a bit heart-breaking when the myth is constantly reinforced.

That stats is not right. The four Waikanae area units have 37% of residents at the census aged over 65. This compares to 14% nationally.

The median age in Waikanae West and Waikanae Park is 64 and 61. This compares to 38 nationally.

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Ryder vs Slater

January 25th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cameron Slater says he knows he sells newspapers, so now he’s ready to sell pay-per-view television – even if he knows the viewers might be switching on to watch him get knocked out.

The controversial Whale Oil blogger and the subject of the Dirty Politics scandal will make his ring debut in Christchurch on March 28, against former New Zealand test cricketer Jesse Ryder.

Good to see Cameron following his political hero, Bill English, into the celebrity boxing arena!

Slater said he had limited boxing experience, but “it’s a good way to lose weight, a good way to get fitness up and these days with the death threats and people wanting to hate on you online, it might be useful to know how to use your fists”.

Slater admitted he would be the underdog against Ryder, who knocked out radio presenter Mark Watson three years ago in his only bout.

Ryder will be the clear favourite, but good on Cameron for giving it a go.

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Should we ditch Concert FM?

January 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Drinnan reports:

According to Howson, Nielsen statistics show Concert reaches 5 per cent of New Zealand listeners.

Concert costs about $5 million, so those listeners are in a privileged position.

Some people believe that as a public station Concert does a brilliant job on a remarkably small budget.

I don’t see in today’s age there is a need for taxpayers to fund a station such as Concert FM.

I do accept the case for National Radio, as that is about making sure we have in depth coverage of New Zealand news and current affairs.

But Concert FM plays basically German classical music. Now I happen to quite like my Mozart, but you don’t need a $5 million station for New Zealanders to be able to listen to it. Almost every piece of classical music in history is available for free and can be streamed, made into playlists and the like.

This is the playlist for Friday:

  • Wagner
  • Mozart
  • Schubert
  • Beethoven
  • Mendelssohn
  • Marais
  • Bach
  • Hayden
  • Verdi
  • Gershwin

etc etc. Why not get rid of Concert FM and put the money saved into beefing up National Radio?

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Getting what he deserves

January 23rd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reported:

Tagging the foyer of the court housing a judge known for his loathing of taggers is not the smartest thing to do.

It’s an observation Adam Kelliher might have been considering as he spent last night in a prison cell after appearing before Judge Tony Adeane in Napier District Court yesterday.

The duty solicitor for the day, James Rainger, could be seen flinching as Kelliher, 20, was called before the judge.

I bet he was.

The judge replied: “With the greatest of respect, I disagree with your submissions, as you might expect.

“Anyone who comes in and graffitis this courthouse is going to get short shrift. Anyone who graffitis anything around Hawke’s Bay is going to get that. You do it here, then you’re really leading with your chin.”

He remanded Kelliher in custody overnight to be sentenced today.

An angry Kelliher was led from the dock and could be heard banging on his cell door for the next half an hour.

Oh, poor diddums.

In 2008, Adeane gained renown when he took a hard line on taggers, giving a series of offenders a taste of prison. At the time he said taggers were making Hastings look like a North American slum, and he rejected suggestions graffiti was art or culture.

Graffiti crime in the district halved after he took his tough stance.

Can we clone him?

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RIP Chic Littlewood

January 12th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Well-known TV and variety performer Chic Littlewood has died in Auckland.

He came to New Zealand from Britain with his wife and their two sons in 1964 and worked as a baker, later getting into theatre and eventually tv, hosting such favourite children’s shows as Chicaboom, which in 1978 became Chic Chat.

In 1977 he was the first variety entertainer to be awarded Entertainer of the Year, and in 1979 the Variety Artists Club awarded him a Benny Award.

As a kid I watched Chic Littlewood on TV. Willie McNabb was great with him. A sad loss.

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Police have too much time on their hands

January 12th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police are cracking down on Uber, the cheap and trendy new-kid-on-the-taxi rank, leaving paying customers on the pavement.

After complaints from the old-school taxi firms, police have begun fining the Uber drivers whose lower fares have been hurting the big cab companies.

The private car hire service has hit back, lodging a complaint of police harassment with the Independent Police Complaints Authority. A spokeswoman said police officers put passengers at risk by booting them out of the hired cars.

Uber has taken the world by storm, and is gaining a big chunk of market share in Auckland and Wellington. It is expected to launch in Christchurch and Queenstown this year. But in the biggest city, police confirm they have stopped several Uber drivers and charged them or issued them infringement notices for using their smartphone app as a meter – a breach that would make them subject to tough taxi regulations.

So do I have this right? The Police have so little crime to focus on, that they are pulling over Uber drivers to check whether or not they are charging an up front fare or a per km fare? As if the difference has any impact on safety. It is a commercial issue, not a Police issue.

The Police have operational independence, but again if I was the Minister I’d be telling the Commissioner that he thinks it is a stupid waste of Police time.

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Will NZ have deflation?

January 10th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The New Zealand economy may be in its first six-month period of deflation in more than a decade, in the face of weak crude oil prices and global over-capacity, pushing the prospects of interest rate hikes out into 2016, according to Bank of New Zealand. …

BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis says for New Zealand, deflation during the current cycle isn’t the ugly phenomena being grappled with in, say, the euro-zone, where consumer prices fell 0.2 per cent in 2014 and where demand has been dwindling.

By contrast, New Zealand’s economy is operating at or above capacity, the housing market is still steaming, and kiwis are showing no inclination to rein in their spending.

“Normally when you talk about deflation you are petrified,” Toplis said. “The wheels are falling off, there’s a downward price spiral. But there’s zero evidence of that in New Zealand at the moment. The single biggest thing is our ability to freely access world goods at low prices. For New Zealanders that’s a good thing unless you’re a local retailer.”

“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of retrenchment in activity due to the pressure on the general consumer price level,” he said.

I don’t think it would be a bad thing to have a growing economy, growing wages and falling prices.

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Du Fresne on zero tolerance

January 10th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes in the Dom Post:

Human nature is a perverse thing. It consistently thwarts all attempts to coerce us into behaving the way bureaucrats, politicians and assorted control freaks think we should.

Take the road toll. Since early December New Zealanders have been subjected to a ceaseless barrage of police propaganda about the futility of trying to defy speed and alcohol limits.

Stern-looking police officers have been in our faces almost daily, warning that zero tolerance would be shown to lawbreakers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found their lecturing increasingly tiresome and patronising.

There’s been huge resentment against the zero tolerance decision.

The figures suggest that people crash for all manner of reasons, and that the emphasis on speed and alcohol is therefore simplistic. The police focus on speed and booze because these are easy targets, and when the road toll comes down they can take the credit.

In the ideal world envisaged by ever-hopeful bureaucrats, wayward citizens can be managed much as sheep are controlled by heading dogs. But people will never be harangued into driving safely; human nature is just too contrary.

Besides, police crackdowns are only one factor in achieving a lower road toll.

Improved road design, safer cars, better-equipped emergency services and more immediate medical attention all contribute too. It would be interesting to know, for example, how many lives have been saved because of the use of helicopters to get victims promptly to hospital.

Better roads and better cars have had a major impact I believe.

They might also ponder the potential damage done to their public image by the zeal with which they immediately began enforcing the new alcohol limits.

It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel as they set up checkpoints to catch otherwise law-abiding citizens who had inadvertently consumed one glass of sauvignon blanc too many.

It was a formidable display of police power, but how many lives did it save? And how many of the apprehended drivers were left feeling humiliated and angry at being made to feel like criminals for unwittingly doing something that was legal only days before, and that probably posed no danger to anyone?

Police will say, of course, that they were merely enforcing the law. But there is a point at which the benefits of aggressive law enforcement have to be weighed against potential negative consequences, such as public resentment. I’m not sure our police bosses have done this equation.

Nope, they have not.

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Awful views from Derek Fox

January 9th, 2015 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Fox said on Facebook said the editor of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had “paid the price” for his “bigotry” and “arrogance”.

The price he should have paid is people not buying his magazine, not execution. Is Fox saying that the victims deserved to be killed because of what they wrote?

Fox wrote that Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier was a “bully” who had abused free speech and was now responsible for the deaths of his colleagues.

Yes he is. So if a white supremacist killed all the staff of Mana magazine, would Derek have been responsible for that?

“The editor of the French magazine has paid the price for his assumption of cultural superiority and arrogance, he was the bully believing he could insult other peoples culture and with impunity and he believed he would be protected in his racism and bigotry by the French state.

Yeah the satirical magazine editor is the bully, not the murdering terrorists.

Fox also misses the point that this magazine insults all cultures and religions. It is a satirical magazine. Does Fox want satire banned at risk of death, or does he think certain religions should be immune from satire?

He continued: “Power cultures all like to use the old chestnut of freedom of speech when they choose to ridicule people who aren’t exactly like them, and mostly they get away with it.”

Yeah that freedom of speech thing is so over-rated. Who needs it eh Derek.

Fox said in this Facebook post that the privilege of free speech brought with it responsibility and ramifications. “These guys liked the privilege but didn’t think they’d be caught up in the ramifications – they were wrong.

“This should serve as a lesson to other people who believe they can use the power they wield by way of dominating the media to abuse and ridicule others they believe to inferior to them – just like [in] this country.”

Fox’s post is vile. He blames the victims and thinks that killing people for satirical cartoons is a food way to teach people a lesson. I’ve had a fair amount of time for Fox in the past, but on this issue I find his writings repugnant.

However unlike Derek, I don’t think people should be killed for writing vile and repugnant things. I think he has a right to do express his views, without being killed for it.

National Party list MP Chris Bishop said it was a “horrific, ridiculous, shameful comment”, adding that supporting freedom of speech was a human right, not “cultural supremacy”.

Free speech is a human right. Not being offended by someone’s speech is not a right.

Fox has stood by his comments, and said that if the magazine had not published gratuitous insults, the victims “would still be alive now”.

If she had just agreed to have sex with him, then she wouldn’t have been raped. That is basically what Fox argues with his victim blaming

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Abandon plane

January 8th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A pilot is being praised for his quick thinking which ensured 12 skydivers escaped virtually unscathed when their light plane plunged into Lake Taupo today.

About 12.15pm the bright pink aircraft crashed 200 metres from shore at Rotongaio Bay, on State Highway 1 south of Taupo, sinking in 3.5m of water.

Remarkably, none of the 13 onboard who were forced to leap for their lives – the pilot, six crew members and six passengers – were injured.

“Where the pilot is concerned I can’t praise the guy enough,” Skydive Taupo chief executive Roy Clements told SunLive.

“He had to deal with the worst nightmare really for a pilot, what appears to be an engine failure. As a result he’s told everyone to get out of the plane, and he’s followed his own advice.”

Remarkable. Could have been a massive tragedy, but by good luck they were all skydivers, and everyone parachuted out before it crashed.

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Bagrie on NZ economy

January 8th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The year ahead will be one of “pure economic expansion” for New Zealand, says ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie.

He cites falling unemployment, strong net migration, steady salary growth and the strong NZD.

“New Zealand’s economic model basically blew up in 2008.

“It was a big wake-up call.”

Businesses got back to basics, focusing on reducing debt, improving productivity and collaborating more within industries, he said.

Two years ago the biggest problem facing many businesses was a lack of customer demand but now the biggest problem was trying to meet demand which required the right skilled labour to do so, he said. …

Australia’s economy is in a very different place to New Zealand’s, he said.

“They’re looking for plan B and they can’t find plan B. New Zealand had to find plan B after the GFC and I’ll tell you what we found plan B, C, D and E.”

It should indeed be a good year.

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Herald on speed tolerance

January 7th, 2015 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

Speed, however, has remained a vexed issue. Hence there has been a progressive lowering of the police’s tolerance, culminating in the zero tolerance policy. This has been criticised by many motorists. Some of their complaints are lame. Those who say it has resulted in them spending too much time with their eyes on their speedometers betray a fundamental lack of driving ability. Nonetheless, it is clear that the police must re-examine where they are enforcing the policy.

The Automobile Association is right when it suggests a focus on drivers doing just over the limit on safe urban motorways is not the best strategy. The scrutiny, it said, should be on speeding in higher-risk areas. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, motorways are, by and large, relatively safe, so much so that the speed limit may soon be raised to 110km/h on some of them. Secondly, there is no point in alienating generally good motorists who are caught slightly over the speed limit in such areas.

Absolutely.

The Automobile Association was also on the right track when it suggested there should be an increased number of median barriers on highways. These, whether concrete, semi-rigid or cable, are not cheap. But they appeal as a means of curtailing the number of head-on crashes involving overseas tourists. The outcome of these impacts is generally more serious than other types of collisions. Improving the country’s roads in this manner offers the most rational response to what has become a notable problem.

I wonder what the impact on road safety would be if say 90% of the money that went on speed cameras and policing of the roads, was redirected to improving our current roads?

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We need more migrants like this

January 6th, 2015 at 6:03 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Xiou Ping Lu knows the true meaning of hard work.

In her 50 years of life she has been a cleaner, a farmer, a hairdresser, a factory worker, a fruit picker, a business owner, a seamstress, a wife and mother.

”I use my hands to make money.

”I would never ask for help from any government,” she says.

 

A great attitude.

For Ping, everything she does is to provide for her children, a 17-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son who both attend Burnisde High School.

”My daughter wants to go to Otago University next year to study medicine,” she says from her Avonhead shop.

Ping has owned the Avonhead Chinese Takeaway and Catering shop in Staveley St for about four months now and says the business is thriving thanks to her ”good cooking and friendly smile”. …

Ping loves Christchurch and thinks New Zealand is ”the most beautiful country”. The only time she feels disheartened is when she hears stories of people resenting Chinese migrants for ”taking jobs”.

”It’s our culture to work hard . . . and make our contribution.”

We need more migrants like Ping, with such an attitude.

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Ombudsman slams DOC decision

January 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

The Ombudsman’s opinion on the Department of Conservation decision to allow an increase in numbers of overnight guided walkers on the Routeburn Track is a breath of fresh air, which should have much wider implications than just the specific case.

Prof Ron Paterson does not beat about the forest.

He says the decision ”drives a horse and cart through” the Mt Aspiring National Park Plan and Doc’s explanation for granting the concession based on ”exceptional circumstances” is ”nonsense on stilts”.

Prof Paterson also says he has significant reservations about the legality of the decision.

He agrees with complainant Chas Tanner, of Dunedin, that the decision makes a ”mockery” of the process of public consultation (there were hundreds of submissions) in the development of the plan and undermines public participation.

The decision is here – Ombudsman decision Routeburn Walks Ltd. Basically the concession contradicted the limits set in the Mt Aspiring Plan. The issue isn’t so much how many guided trampers should be allowed on the Routeburn – it is that DOC just ignored the Park Plan when granting the concession.

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Why is WRC killing Snapper?

January 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicola Young writes in the Dom Post:

Wellington needs cheap, reliable public transport to arrest its declining use and get more cars off our congested roads.

Instead, the Greater Wellington Regional Council plans to spend more to get less; and not for the first time.

Those wretchedly inaccurate Real Time Information Boards cost $13 million, when a smart phone app would have cost less than $100,000.

$13 million for info boards? God.

The regional council has also spent more than $500m upgrading the trains, with no increase in patronage.

Now the regional council has its sights on Snapper.

They want to adopt Auckland’s integrated HOP card ticketing system at a cost of up to $50m next year and $5m each following year.

It’s hard to understand the reason; clearly its vision for public transport doesn’t seem to involve the public as the Snapper has become part of the capital’s DNA, even though it’s only been around since 2008.

The regional council’s preference for Auckland’s notorious HOP card is yet another incomprehensible addition to its track record of bad public transport investments that have driven up fares while driving down patronage.

 

I use Snapper all the time. It’s great. To spend $50 million on a new system is nuts.

Snapper captured Wellingtonians’ imaginations, but it’s also a great deal for both ratepayers and taxpayers as it costs us nothing.

The bus operator absorbs Snapper’s costs, just like the cost of fuel and drivers’ wages.

There are significant differences between the Snapper and HOP cards, none of which make HOP more appealing.

It’s been so hopeless that many consider Auckland’s decision to buy it akin to buying a pig in a poke. Snapper operates an open platform, so it can be easily adapted to changing customer needs and rapidly changing technology – important when so many are using smartphones.

Snapper can be used on the bus, taxi, to pay for car parks, and even a flat white; some businesses now use Snapper as an ID or access card. It’s just been selected as the engine room behind Dublin’s public transport Leap Card.

And the HOP card? It has only one use: paying a fare.

So a worse system for more money.

Rather than talking of mind-numbing figures in the millions, think of it this way: switching to the HOP card will cost about $100,000 per bus, train and ferry in the Greater Wellington region, plus another $10,000 for every vehicle in Wellington’s public transport fleet, including trains, buses and the two harbour ferries. A new diesel bus costs about $400,000.

Sigh.

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A fail for zero tolerance

January 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Critics have labelled a zero-speed-tolerance campaign a failure as the holiday road toll is more than double last year’s.

A crash in Christchurch this morning brought the number of the people to die on our roads this holiday period to 17. …

Throughout the holiday period police had a zero-tolerance campaign on speeding and also targeted drink-driving after lower limits were introduced last month.

But police were left dismayed at the role speed and alcohol played in the high toll.

“This is more than disappointing. It’s devastating that so many people have lost their lives these holidays and due to the same common factors,” road policing assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said.

“It is a bad decision to drive after drinking. It’s that simple.

“No-one can afford to not intervene and stop their family member or friend from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“You may think it’s OK, we’ll be right and it won’t happen to them. But crashes are happening, people are getting seriously injured and people are dying.”

NZ First police spokesman Ron Mark said the toll was evidence the zero-tolerance speed campaign was a “failed experiment” and accused the police and the Government of “stealth taxation” via speeding fines.

“It has precious police resources sucked up making good drivers feel like criminals instead of focusing on those driving too fast, too slowly or too badly,” he said.

Drivers were anxious about being caught just over the limit, Mark said: “People are saying to me that instead of driving to the conditions, their eyes are darting from the speedo to road and back again and that every time they see a police car, they instinctively brake despite being well within the speed limit.”

Road-safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said the idea that heavy speed-limit enforcement would lower the road toll was “nonsense”.

He said 80 per cent of road deaths happened under the speed limit.

The remaining 20 per cent of fatalities were caused by high-risk drivers who were “almost exclusively yobbos, impaired drivers or motorcyclists – all of whom are basically immune to road safety messages”.

The zero tolerance policy just punished thousands of motorists for driving at 102 km/hr on a motorway. It made it impossible to legally pass a car doing 90 km/hr, so effectively slowed down all single lane roads.

The tolerance policy is an operational decision for Police, not the Government. However the Minister can tell the Police that he thinks it is a bad idea, and hopefully they will listen.

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The Mazengarb Report

January 3rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington flew into a moral panic in 1954 after a teenage sex “gang” was found in the Hutt Valley.

Revelations that groups of Lower Hutt teenagers were meeting at a milk bar in Petone to have sex shocked the city.

Murky stories about young men on bikes and assignations by the banks of the river appalled parents and made them wonder what society was coming to.

There are clearly dark aspects to what went on, but most of it, though, was just teenagers having sex.

As they have done for several thousand years!

The Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch a few months later – the source for Sir Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures – added to the outrage and convinced Sidney Holland’s National Government that it had to be seen to do something.

It appointed Wellington lawyer Oswald Mazengarb to head a commission.

Mazengarb was an eloquent and charming man, but also a puritanical moralist with a streak of fundamentalism.

So what did the report find:

In former times it was the custom for boys to take the initiative in seeking the company of girls; it was conventional for the girls to await any advances. Nowadays, girls do not always wait for an advance to be made to them

Scandal.

Perhaps the most startling feature is the changed mental attitude of many young people towards this evil. Some offend because they crave popularity or want to do what their friends are doing. Some assert a right to do what is regarded by religion, law, and convention as wrongful. It was reported that some of the girls were either unconcerned or unashamed, and even proud, of what they had done.

Those hussies. They were not ashamed of having sex.

One of the recommendations:

When crime serials are broadcast it should be made obvious that crime does not pay

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RIP Sir Ivor Richardson

January 2nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of New Zealand’s most respected judges, Sir Ivor Richardson, has died at the age of 84.

In a long and distinguished legal career, Sir Ivor rose to became president of the Court of Appeal. He was appointed a judge of the then Supreme Court in 1977 but was almost immediately appointed to the Court of Appeal, where he served from 1978 to 2002.

Richardson was president of the Court of Appeal from 1996 until his retirement at age 72.

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias said he was a great New Zealander. “He had an unparalleled influence on New Zealand law during his long tenure as a judge, law teacher, and adviser,” she said.

“His work as an appellate judge for nearly three decades touched all areas of law and provided leading cases which remain authoritative today. In addition, his collegial approach to judging and his interest in better judicial administration meant that he has had a unique influence upon the operation of the courts.” …

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson, QC, also paid tribute to Richardson on behalf of the Government. “It is hard to think of anyone who has made a more substantive contribution to the law and social policy,” Finlayson said. “His was a career marked by excellence in everything he did.”

“Sir Ivor Richardson was unfailingly courteous and pleasant to appear before. But if you weren’t on top of your material, his questions would destroy your case very quickly.”

 

It says much about Sir Ivor that he was appointed to the Court of Appeal the same year as he was appointed to the High Court. He was made a member of the Privy Council in 1978. A huge loss to the legal profession, but especially to his family and friends.

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NZ Herald on economy

January 2nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The dawn of a new year invites the mind to entertain endless possibilities, especially in a country so lucky. New Zealand enters 2015 with its dollar nearly as valuable as that of the signature “lucky country” next door. Three days ago Infratil and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund bought an Australian retirement village company for $670 million taking advantage of the rising kiwi. One swallow does not signal a summer of investment that would reverse the direction of transtasman ownership but it is another step of confidence.

When people rail against foreign investment, it is worth bearing in mind, that as our economy does well, it will be NZ companies investing overseas, and if we try and restrict foreign investment in NZ, then we risk being blocked ourselves.

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Stupidest jihadist yet

January 2nd, 2015 at 2:34 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Kiwi jihadist who claims to be fighting in Syria with the Islamic State has been mistakenly broadcasting his exact location after forgetting to turn off a tracking function on his phone.

Mohammad Daniel, also known as Abu Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as Mark John Taylor, has now deleted 45 posts from Twitter after discovering that he had been revealing his location to intelligence agencies and enemies keeping tabs on him.

Hilarious. His tweets are giving away his location.

In 2009, Daniel was arrested by Pakistan authorities while trying to gain access to an al-Qaeda and Taleban stronghold close to the Afghanistan border and was subsequently subjected to travel restrictions by the New Zealand Government.

It is worth noting that in 2009 he claimed not to be a jihadist:

He had been arrested trying to enter the al-Qaeda stronghold of Wana in Pakistan.

Mr Taylor told TV3’s 60 Minutes programme last night he went there only to find a Muslim wife.

“I didn’t have a death wish I was just looking for a lady for marriage.

“It was my mistake. People might call me stupid and dumb for making that mistake but that’s my problem.”

People with malignant motives, will of course lie about their motives. He’s now happy fighting with the Islamic State as they butcher infidels.

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A non emergency number for Police

January 2nd, 2015 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police are considering establishing a single national phone number for non-emergency calls to lighten the load on the 111 system.

An increase in people calling 111 over the past five years has prompted police to think about how to improve the service, and they say that a non-emergency number would mean they could better respond to high-priority incidents.

Figures provided to the Herald under the Official Information Act show police answered more than 628,801 111 calls last year – about 17,000 more than 2013.

They answered 88 per cent of those calls within 10 seconds, with most calls taking just four seconds to be picked up.

Mr Trappitt, who is the national prevention manager, said establishing a second non-emergency number was one of those strategies.

“It is potentially one of the options that we could explore and promote. We are having ongoing discussions.”

They’ve been talking about a non-emergency number for years, probably 10 – 15. Time to stop taling and just do it. Have a (say) 777 number for non-emergencies and 111 for emergencies.

Another option was a smartphone application that would allow people to call 111 and have their location immediately tracked by police.

Mr Trappitt said police, along with Fire Service and ambulance operators, had been in discussions with telecommunications providers and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about how GPS could be used to help with 111 calls.

That’s a great idea.

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Duke of Wellington dies

January 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Wellington City is named after the (1st) Duke of Wellington. It has always amazed me that there is no prominent mention of this in Wellington, let alone a statue of the man we’re named after.

The Guardian reports:

Valerian Wellesley, the 8th Duke of Wellington, who has died aged 99, was a courteous and reticent man who devoted much of his life to Stratfield Saye, the estate in Hampshire of his illustrious ancestor Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, and to the titles and landholdings abroad which had been conferred on the 1st Duke after he famously routed Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The 8th Duke combined his stately living with devotion to the British Army and the preservation of the countryside. He could be as dogged as his famous forebear about what he thought to be questions of family honour and practical politics. Preserving Stratfield Saye, which the 1st Duke had bought from the £600,000 conferred on him by the British government for his war services, was first on the list of his priorities.

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo is on the 18th of June. It is one of the most significant battles in the history of the world.

The Duke’s military career includes 60 different battles. He was also Prime Minister of the UK twice, and died in 1852.

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