Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

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!

No tag for this post.

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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Epsom stereotype not true

August 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Epsom, New Zealand’s richest and whitest electorate, shows it can get down and dirty during this election campaign.

Epsom actually is below average in terms of “white” people. 73.5% of the electorate say they are European or NZer compared to 78.8% average for NZ. So not only are they not the whitest, they are not in the top 10, 20, 30 or 40. They are 47th out of 63.

Also incorrect in terms of income. Their median income is the 2nd highest in NZ, not the top.

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Review of fluoridation science

August 22nd, 2014 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

Sir Peter Gluckman has released a review of scientific evidence on fluoridation.  It is a readable 67 page report and co-authored by the Royal Society of NZ.

Some useful extracts:

There is compelling evidence that fluoridation of water at the established and recommended levels produces broad benefits for the dental health of New Zealanders. In this context it is worth noting that dental health remains a major issue for much of the New Zealand population, and that economically and from the equity perspective fluoridation remains the safest and most appropriate approach for promoting dental public health.

The only side effect of fluoridation at levels used in NZ is minimal fluorosis, and this is not of major cosmetic significance. There are no reported cases of disfiguring fluorosis associated with levels used for fluoridating water supplies in New Zealand.

For the future:

Given the caveat that science can never be absolute, the panel is unanimous in its conclusion that there are no adverse effects of fluoride of any significance arising from fluoridation at the levels used in New Zealand. In particular, no effects on brain development, cancer risk or cardiovascular or metabolic risk have been substantiated, and the safety margins are such that no subset of the population is at risk because of fluoridation.

All of the panel members and ourselves conclude that the efficacy and safety of fluoridation of public water supplies, within the range of concentrations currently recommended by the Ministry of Heath, is assured. We conclude that the scientific issues raised by those opposed to fluoridation are not supported by the evidence. Our assessment suggests that it is appropriate, from the scientific perspective, that fluoridation be expanded to assist those New Zealand communities that currently do not benefit from this public health measure – particularly those with a high prevalence of dental caries.

There were five members of the expert panel, all professors in scientific fields. There were also three international reviewers from Australia, the UK and Ireland..

Tooth decay is responsible for significant health loss (lost years of healthy life) in New Zealand. The ‘burden’ of the disease – its ‘cost’ in terms of lost years of healthy life – is equivalent to 3/4 that of prostate cancer, and 2/5 that of breast cancer in New Zealand. Tooth decay thus has substantial direct and indirect costs to society.

That’s a stunning stat, I had not seen before.

Like many elements that affect human health, fluoride is beneficial in small amounts and toxic in excess. More than 500 years ago, the physician and alchemist Paracelsus first stated the basic principle that governs toxicology: “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.” In other words, for substances that have beneficial effects on health, “the dose differentiates a poison from a remedy.” Fluoride clearly benefits dental health when used topically or ingested in small doses, but in very high doses it is poisonous, and has been used as a component of pesticides. Similar examples can be found among beneficial health promoting vitamins, including vitamin D, which in high doses is an effective rodenticide
used to eradicate rats and possums, and in humans can cause musculoskeletal and renal disease.

This is also a key quote to remember when the anti-brigade breathlessly go on about how fluoride is a toxin.

 

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A seven year low for suicides

August 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

New Zealand’s suicide stats are still “stubbornly high” despite being at a seven-year low, the chief coroner says.

Provisional annual suicide figures released this morning show the total deaths for the year ending June 30 was 529 – the lowest number by two since the figures were first produced in 2007.

Youth suicide was down to 110 from 144 last year – 46 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 died, making it the lowest figure for that age group in seven years.

“This year’s numbers have moved in the right direction, but not by much,” says chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean.

“The drop in teen suicide is good news. These are the some of the toughest and most tragic cases coroners deal with.”

The drop in teen suicides is especially good news.

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The gap gets narrower

August 21st, 2014 at 11:11 am by David Farrar

Migrationjuly2014

The July migration data is out. The Australia annual data is fascinating.

  • 22,620 people arrived from Australia in the last year, including 15,050 NZers returning home
  • Two years ago in the year to July 12, only 14,040 arrived.
  • Only 29,770 people left to Australia in the last year.
  • Two years ago in the year to July 12, 53,910 departed to Australia.
  • The net loss to Australia in the year to July 2012 was 39,870 and in the last year was just 7,150.
  • In the last two months the net loss to Australia has been under 100 a month which is under three a day!

I await opposition parties demanding we stop Australians migrating here, and stop New Zealanders returning home!

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Mercury Energy

August 20th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Had a phone call from Mercury Energy last night. The rep started the sales pitch and I explained to them that I don’t decide who to buy my power off as the Apartment body corporate has a bulk deal. She brushed this off and continued with her pitch.

I repeated *four* times that I don’t get to decide my power supplier, yet the rep still insists on finishing her marketing spiel and telling me how they are opening their promotion up to Wellington, and can do an 18% discount etc. It was almost surreal.

This is not a very good way to improve brand reputation Mercury Energy. Can I suggest you tell your telemarketers than when someone says they have no ability to decide their power supplier, they don’t insist on carrying on.

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Smart lights

August 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington wants to be the first city in the southern hemisphere with street lights that track runaway dogs, flash when someone is in danger and dim when there is no one around.

A city council committee will this week consider whether to upgrade the capital’s 18,000 street lights with brighter LED bulbs and digital technology that interacts with smartphones, tablet computers and GPS satellites.

They would also be fitted with infra-red sensors so they can dim to about 10 per cent of full power when no-one is around and illuminate whenever someone walks by.

Paul Glennie, the city council’s team leader of strategic planning, said all sorts of services could be delivered once the capital’s street lights were all “talking to each other” across a wireless connection.

Wellingtonians could use their smartphones or tablets to tap into the lights and track how far away a rubbish truck was or see which lamppost their microchipped dog was sniffing around.

Motorists could be directed to available parking spaces via their GPS devices.

City officials could also adjust light levels via their smart-devices or a text message whenever heavy rain or snow hit the city, or when emergency services required.

“It could be that street lights actually flash outside a property that has called for an ambulance,” Glennie said.

LED lights use less power but produce better light, and illuminate to 100 per cent without the need for a warm-up period.

That means there would be no danger to public safety but energy use could drop by up to 95 per cent, Glennie said.

“Currently we leave the lights on all night whether there’s people around or not. But if we can turn them down when no one is around then no one should really be affected.”

Creating the southern hemisphere’s first “smart” light network could cost between $10 million and $20m but save capital ratepayers about $2.1m each year in energy savings.

Sounds a good investment to me.

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Hickey on power prices and rates

August 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Bernard Hickey writes:

Local governments and electricity companies are to blame for New Zealand’s inflation rate being much higher than it should have been for the past 10 years.

They have raised their prices between 5 and 8 per cent each year for the past decade, despite being semi-regulated and mostly publicly owned.

Let’s have a look at annual electricity inflation in the CPI:

  • 2004: 8.8%
  • 2005: 4.1%
  • 2006: 7.1%
  • 2007: 6.5%
  • 2008: 7.7%
  • 2009: 2.1%
  • 2010: 5.8% (2.2% is a GST increase compensated by tax cuts)
  • 2011: 2.4%
  • 2012: 5.2%
  • 2013: 3.0%

Now let us look at rates.

  • 2004: 3.9%
  • 2005: 7.5%
  • 2006: 7.4%
  • 2007: 6.7%
  • 2008: 5.7%
  • 2009: 5.9%
  • 2010: 6.9% (2.2% is a GST increase compensated by tax cuts)
  • 2011: 4.6%
  • 2012: 4.3%
  • 2013: 4.1%

So I agree with Bernard both have been big contributors to inflation, and both are too high. I would note that they both seem lower in the last five years than the previous five years.

Electricity inflation averaged 5.4% from 2004 to 2008 and 3.3% (excludes GST change) from 2009 to 2013. Rates inflation averaged 6.2% from 2004 to 2008 and 4.7% (excludes GST change) from 2009 to 2013. 

Although the rates have trended down since 2004, they are still much higher than the Reserve Bank’s 1 to 3 per cent inflation target. And that persistent inflation has acted like a type of plaque in the arteries of the economy, putting up its blood pressure of inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate.

Without that persistent inflation at two and three times the rate in the rest of the economy, New Zealand’s interest rates and currency would have been significantly lower.

I’ve always wondered why Reserve Bank Governors Graeme Wheeler and Alan Bollard haven’t convened a conference of mayors and CEOs of councils, electricity generator-retailers and lines companies to read them the riot act.

Not a bad idea. But how much do they contribute?

Electricity is 3.9% of the CPI and rates 2.7% so they make up 7.6% of total costs.  On average they have been responsible for the inflation rate being 0.3% higher per year than it would have been if there were no price increases. A better comparison might be the impact if they had been at the target 2%. Their contribution then is an extra 0.2% a year – which is not insignificant in a tight range the Governor must target.

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The best scrabble player on Earth is a Kiwi

August 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Oliver Roeder at 538 writes:

When the 2014 National Scrabble Championship begins Saturday in Buffalo, New York, the odds-on favorite will be a 47-year-old New Zealander who resides in Malaysia named Nigel Richards. He is currently ranked first in North America. The difference between his official rating and the second-place player’s is about the same as the difference between second place and 20th. 

Wow.

Beyond all that is the sheer virtuosity of his gameplay, his uncanny gift for constructing impossible words by stringing his letters through tiles already on the board. The ultimate Richards word story: In a game in 1998, then-newcomer Richards had a rack of CDHLRN? (“?” denotes a blank tile). There was an E available on the board; Richards could have played CHILDREN for a bingo and a 50-point bonus. Instead, Richards played through two disconnected Os and an E. The word? The 10-letter CHLORODYNE.

If like me, you wonder what that is, it was a 19th century patent medicine!

Richards’s rating sits at 2180. His peak rating of 2298 is the highest anyone has ever achieved with a minimum of 200 games played. According to Scrabble data site cross-tables.com, his peak rating is even higher than that of Quackle, a powerful artificial intelligence Scrabble player developed by human tournament players Jason Katz-Brown and John O’Laughlin.

He can beat an actual computer with a full dictionary!

So, really, how does he do it? As Richards said in an interview posted on YouTube, “I’m not sure there is a secret. It’s just a matter of learning the words.” All 178,691 of them.

Easy!

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Cultural correctness on teacher training

August 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Ansell blogs the words of a recent teacher trainee:

As a recent graduate in secondary teaching, I have been invited to share my experiences of the teacher training I received.

I shall describe the cultural indoctrination to which trainee teachers are subjected and the flow-on effect this has on school culture and classroom learning.

I am aware of the risks involved in taking this action (my lecturers and classmates should have little trouble identifying me), but I hope that my example will encourage other teachers (and trainee teachers) to come forth and share their own experiences.

It is important that readers of this blog understand the hoops that trainee teachers are forced to jump through, and the limits on freedom of thought that are imposed from above.

Once upon a time education was about diversity of thought!

One of the essays that I had to write concerned the ‘roles and responsibilities of teachers and learners in the New Zealand classroom.’

The learning outcomes for this essay centred on biculturalism, te reo Maori and the historical, political, social and cultural influences on New Zealand schools.

Failure to satisfy the requirements for any one of these learning outcomes would necessitate a re-submission, and failure on the second attempt would mean failure for the course.

Frustrated by the indoctrination to which I had been subjected, I wrote critically about many of the issues we were expected to cover.

My intention was not to be provocative or incendiary, but to assess the issues in an objective, thoughtful and reasoned way.

When my essay was returned to me, I was shocked to discover that I had been given the lowest possible grade.

Even more distressing were the spiteful comments that appeared in the margin of my essay, accusing me of “monocultural ignorance” and of being “patronizing.”

The marker’s tone was defensive and censorial, as if I had no right to hold the views that I had expressed.

They were heresy I’m sure.

I was forced to resubmit the essay, exactly as they wanted it, expunged of all signs of a critical intellect.

It is a terrible thing to be conscripted into writing something that you do not believe, and for this to occur in a university environment is completely unacceptable.

Universities should welcome critical dissent, not squash it.

I don’t agree with all of the views of the teacher trainee. But views on Treaty issues should not be a litmus test for who can be a teacher.

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NZ 1st in the world for social and environmental progress

August 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Social Progressive Imperative publishes an annual Social Progress Index.

Labour and the Greens would have you believe that NZ is appalling on social issues. Their rhetroic for years has been doom and gloom. So where was NZ placed on this index? 100th? 50th? 25th? 10th? 5th?

Nope, 1st.

The top 10 are:

  1. New Zealand
  2. Switzerland
  3. Iceland
  4. Netherlands
  5. Norway
  6. Sweden
  7. Canada
  8. Finland
  9. Denmark
  10. Australia

On some of ths sub-indices, our rankings include:

  • Water & Sanitation 1st
  • Access to Basic Knowledge 2nd
  • Access to Information and Comms 7th
  • Personal Rights 1st
  • Personal Freedom & Choice 1st
  • Tolerance and Inclusion 4th
  • Access to Advanced Education 4th
  • Opportunity 1st
  • Undernourishment 1st
  • Deaths from infectious diseases 3rd
  • Access to piped water 1st
  • Homicide rate 1st
  • Indoor air pollution (lack of deaths) 1st
  • Gender parity in education 1st
  • Press freedom 1st
  • Greenhouse gas emissions 2nd (best)
  • Private property rights 1st
  • Freedom of religion 1st
  • Corruption (lack of) 1st
  • Religious tolerance 1st
  • Community safety net 2nd
  • Tolerance for immigrants 2nd

We are far from perfect, but New Zealand overall is ranked higher than every other country. Think about that, as you consider the Green billboards of gloom and doom.

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Town planners getting zealous again

August 11th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Waikato Times reports:

A new Hamilton city zoning plan which steps on the toes of some of the city’s best known companies has been branded as “bonkers” by owner of Gallagher Group, Sir William Gallagher.

Hamilton City Council’s proposed district plan restricts companies’ ability to expand operations on their sites in the city’s industrial zone. The plan came into effect on July 9 this year. There is still an appeal process where some changes can be made.

Businesses are worried that sites such as Gallagher Group’s on Kahikatea Drive don’t fit in with the new plan’s rules.

“I think it’s bonkers, and ridiculous,” Sir William told the Waikato Times.

“You run integrated industries these days and that means we have office, research and manufacture on the same site.”

The plan allows operations in industrial zones to have ancillary offices, but the offices can only be 25 per cent of the floor space, or 250 square metres, whichever is smaller.

Gallagher Group has considerably more office space than this, as do many other companies in industrial zones.

Existing businesses that are operating legally have existing use rights to continue using their sites.

The problem arises if the company wants to do development, which would result in a potentially costly consenting process.

Idiotic rules. Who cares if a site has 50% warehouse and 50% office. They buy the land, let them use it.

Hamilton City Council’s city planning manager Luke O’Dwyer said extensive independent consultation went into developing the district plan.

He said the old district plan was “very permissive”, so a lot of standalone offices had appeared in industrial zones, to the detriment of the central business district.

A permissive plan – how terrible.

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A 110 km/hr speed limit

August 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Motorists are calling for a major rethink of speed limits – including raising the top limit to 110kmh on the safest motorways.

The Automobile Association, which represents 1.3 million drivers, says a move to 110kmh should become a priority after this year’s election.

It also wants limits reduced on highways that are not equipped to handle 100kmh traffic, such as the steep and winding Rimutaka Hill Road.

AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said too many “inconsistencies” had crept into New Zealand’s speed zones, which was confusing well-intentioned drivers and seeing them get caught for speeding.

The association wanted fair, consistent and predictable speed limits across the board.

If some motorways had been designed for 110kmh traffic, then the limit should reflect that, he said.

But it should apply only to flat, straight stretches of motorway with two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space. “It won’t be an enormous amount of roads,” Noon said.

I agree. 110 km/hr is a common speed limit overseas for well designed motorways. The speed limit should reflect the road conditions.

National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths would not be drawn on whether speed limits should go up or down, but said they needed to reflect the risk and functions of a particular road.

Agreed.

Featherston man Nick Burt, who drives the Rimutaka Hill Road about four times a week, favoured scaling back the speed limit there to 80kmh.

You’re crazy if you drive that road at 100 km/hr. I agree it should be lower, as should the road to Makara.

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Sutch was a spy

August 11th, 2014 at 6:30 am by David Farrar

Phil Kitchin at the Dom Post reports:

Forty years after he was acquitted of spying, electrifying new evidence has emerged showing that top government official Bill Sutch was a KGB recruit working under the codename “Maori”.

The Dominion Post has obtained copies of official KGB records that show Sutch was a 24-year veteran recruit of the feared Soviet spy agency when he was arrested while meeting a KGB agent at an Aro Valley park, in Wellington, in 1974.

I’m not surprised, but nice to finally have it proven.

But his daughter says the evidence does not match her father and maintains he was not involved with the Soviets.

Really?

The file with New Zealand material in it says the KGB recruited an “ex-high ranking official in state machinery” who was born in 1907, obtained a PhD and retired in 1965.

That profile is a perfect match to Sutch who was born in June 1907, held a PhD and retired as the head of the Department of Industries and Commerce in 1965.

The KGB thumbnail sketch says the agent was “recruited in 1950,” given the codename Maori and was “in contact with Drozhzhin”.

Sutch therefore appears to have been recruited in New York as he was secretary-general of New Zealand’s United Nations delegation there from 1947 to 1951.

At the time Sutch was working for  the Soviet Union, they were a totalitarian murdering regime that jailed and killed political dissidents. He was a horrible traitor.

I previously blogged:

However he was an apologist and supporter of a murdering Stalinist regime. That makes him a man of incredible flawed and warped judgement regardless of whether or not he was a spy.

The SIS files on him are worth a read. He once described himself as a “Stalinist” and opposed NZ entry into WWII (the speculation being because of the German- peace treaty) until the  became an ally.

Even after Stalin was denounced by Krushchev, Sutch defended Stalin’s actions on the grounds of economic necessity. He also disregarded instructions from the NZ Govt and voted in UN bodies with eastern bloc countries against his own Government’s wishes. He also thought the USSR invasion of Hungary was justified. …

So as I said, he may or may not have spied for the USSR. But he was a dedicated supporter of it and apologist for it. In my eyes that is like the difference between having worked for the Nazis, or defending what the Nazis did – neither are testaments of good character.

A very flawed man.

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Welcome Spark

August 8th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Simon Moutter today hoists a new flag up Telecom’s mast, marking its tack away from two decades as New Zealand’s safe and stodgy telecommunications provider.

For the managing director, it’s a signal of the company’s new direction, towards a bright digital horizon of revenue growth and new services such as internet television.

Moutter’s flag, bearing the new company name Spark, aims to jettison Telecom’s past persona and chart a course to it becoming a competitive provider of communications, entertainment, and cloud computing services.

I”m loving the new Telecom. They have become a competitive retailer, instead of a regulatory gamer.

Spark were the first company to bring in flat rate data roaming, and also the first big player to bring in uncapped fibre plans. They now try to be a market leader, rather than stop the market evolving.

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So remember everyone saying how hard done by Hubbard was

August 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

When the Government assumed control of Allan Hubbard’s companies, they were attacked by many in South Canterbury, and beyond. Hubbard was a saint who could do no wrong, and Simon Power was savaged for agreeing to statutory management.

Now Hubbard was a well intentioned individual, but as the Herald reports, his financial management was deficient in recent years:

Allan Hubbard, the late boss of South Canterbury Finance, which collapsed and required a $1.6 billion government bailout, “had little interest” in meeting accounting or legal requirements, and three of his most trusted colleagues went along with the massive fraud, a court has been told today. …

Long-time SCF chairman, Timaru financier Mr Hubbard, who died in a September 2011 car crash, aged 83, ignored various accounting and legal regulations that he was bound to adhere to, the court was told.

One witness described Mr Hubbard’s attitude as being, “Trust me, I know what I am doing”.

“The evidence has been that he had a disdain for disclosing related party transactions, a peculiar view of what constituted one, a penchant for swapping cheques to cleanse the accounts … and took assets off the balance sheet if they were impaired,” Crown lawyer Colin Carruthers QC said. …

The Crown says that on July 25, 2007, the defendants prepared a letter to Mr Hubbard expressing their concerns with the business practices.

“That is an extraordinary document, setting out a long list of issues directly relevant to these charges, from related party advances, the single entity exposure limit, advances being made without security, loan and drawdown authorisation, and so on,” Mr Carruthers said.

But despite the concerns, nothing changed, Mr Carruthers said.

A decision in the trial is due in October.

 

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This Week On Prime TV’s “Back Benches”

August 4th, 2014 at 7:38 pm by Kokila Patel

YAUN YOU BUY OUR FARMS?:  Lochinver Station is up for sale and Chinese company & Crafar Farms owners, Shanghai Pengxin, want to buy the land. The potential purchase has reignited the debate over foreign ownership of kiwi land. Do we need to have a limit on what foreign buyers can own? Does it matter what kind of land it is and what it will be used for? Does it matter if it is a home in Auckland or a farm in the Waikato? Does it matter where the buyer is from? Currently, there are no statistics collected on who is buying property in NZ. Does that need to change?

CONSERVATION CORPS:  Labour pledges boot camps will be out and they’ll bring back the Conservation Corps in order to get more young people into work which would mix conservation work with vocational training for 16-24 year olds.  Is this the solution for youth unemployment?


There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:
First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 6th of August at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!
http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Our Panel: Green Party MP Holly Walker, Labour MP Chris Hipkins, and National MP Chris Tremain.

” This show is shaping up to be essential election year viewing ” – Paul Casserly, NZ Herald 3/6/14

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I’m over hosting the Games

August 3rd, 2014 at 10:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A New Zealand bid to host a future Commonwealth Games may not centre on one city.

That’s because our cities are probably not big enough to cope.

New Zealand Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley this week told the Sunday Star-Times he was ”absolutely sure” that the country would host another Games – for the fourth time in the event’s varied history since inception in 1930.

I’m not so sure.

A successful bid would take close to a decade between launching and hosting, Stanley said, making 2026 the earliest New Zealand could play host – 36 years after Auckland was our last host city.

I love watching the games, but I think hosting them just costs too much. The costs almost always blow out.

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15 reasons to love Wellington

August 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Travel blogger Liz Carlson blogs at Young Adventuress 15 reasons why she loves living in Wellington, six months after arriving here:

  1. All the bays and all the beaches
  2. Hilly city
  3. Awesome brunch and coffee culture
  4. Mt Victoria
  5. Friendly and awesome Wellingtonians
  6. Cool marine life
  7. Hip bar scene
  8. Zealandia
  9. Honking in the Mt Vic tunnel
  10. Wellington cable car
  11. Middle Earth in Wellington
  12. Crazy roads
  13. Windy Welly
  14. Somes Island
  15. Sunday market and Te Papa

Not much on that list I would disagree with. We do live in a great city in Wellington. Would be nice if the water was a bit warmer at the beautiful beaches, but can’t have everything!

The Library bar is one of my favourite places in Wellington. I can happily spend hours there.

Also Somes Island is truly awesome. Have been there a few times. Kayaking over there from Petone is my preferred mode of travel to it!

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