Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Benaud on the under arm delivery

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

Stuff reminds us:

It was the day Richie Benaud stood up for principle over patriotism.

As evening descended on the Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 1, 1981, Australasia was gripped by furious debate after an incident many were already describing as having changed cricket forever. 

With just one ball left to play, and New Zealand needing a six to tie the one-day international match, captain Greg Chappell ordered his brother, Trevor, to bowl the final delivery underarm.

In his post-match wrap up for Channel Nine, Benaud defiantly stared down the barrel of the camera and excoriated the Australian team, calling it “one of the worst things I have ever seen done on a cricket field”.

“Let me just tell you what I think about it. I think it was a disgraceful performance from a captain that got his sums wrong today, and I think it should never be permitted to happen again.”

Pre-empting the excuses that would inevitably follow, Benaud continued: 

“We keep reading and hearing that the players are under a lot of pressure, and that they’re tired and jaded and perhaps their judgment and their skill is blunted. Perhaps they might advance that as an excuse for what happened out there today.

“Not with me they don’t,” he summed-up brusquely.

A great man, who never would have done what Chappell did.

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$126 a week for three children not much child support

April 11th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Ngaruawahia couple with a three-month-old baby face losing their house because the dad has been hit with an increase in child support payments of $44 a week.

Daniel Moulden, 30, and his wife Paige, 20, bought their house for $280,000 four months ago, just before their baby son Eli was born in January.

They calculated that they could just meet the house payments of $420 a week out of their combined net income of $1068 a week after deducting $82.50 a week which Mr Moulden was paying in child support for his three other children aged 11, 9 and 4.

Then the child support formula changed. From April 1, Mr Moulden must now pay $126.30 a week.

“At the moment, we are pushing other bills away so that we can keep the house,” he said.

“But if you push a bill away, it just doubles the next week, so we are pretty much looking at we might have to give it up.”

I have sympathy for any family who has an unexpected increase in costs. An extra $44 a week can be a real challenge.

But I would make the point that if he is only paying $82.50 a week or even $126.30 a week as a contribution towards three of his children, that is not a huge proportion of what they would be costing their custodial parent.

Mr Moulden is one of 33,000 liable parents whose child support payments have gone up under the new formula. A further 46,000 will pay less and 58,000 are unaffected.

Any change always produces winners and losers.

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Should Key apologise to The Kaiser also?

April 11th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key today said he won’t be apologising for New Zealand’s role in the invasion Gallipoli a century ago.

On the eve of the bloody First World War conflict’s centenary, a prominent Turkish-New Zealander has called on the Government to say sorry for the offensive that claimed 86,000 Ottoman lives – almost twice the number of Allied soldiers killed.

But today when Mr Key was asked if he should apologise on behalf of New Zealand for the bloodshed of 100 years ago, he replied: “No.”

Why only apologise to Turkey? Should we also apologise to Kaiser Wilhelm II?

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Campbell lawyers up

April 11th, 2015 at 10:29 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

John Campbell has reportedly hired a lawyer to take on Mediaworks in the battle to keep Campbell Live on air.

 

On Friday night’s show Campbell thanked viewers for the support he had received since Mediaworks confirmed it was looking to review the current affairs show, after its ratings appeared to have fallen far below rival Seven Sharp.

 

Campbell has enlisted the help of lawyer and former journalist Linda Clark, nzherald.co.nz reported.

Not sure this is a smart move. A smart move would be sitting down with Mediaworks and discussing ways to regain viewers. Bringing in the lawyers is unlikely to end well.

If I was Mediaworks and Campbell, I’d be looking at why they have lost so many viewers. I’d do a couple of focus groups of current and former viewers, and some quantitative research also.

What they need to work out, is whether people are no longer watching Campbell Live because they are switching off TV all together, or are they preferring Seven Sharp or Shortland Street? Is the problem that they don’t get enough viewers watching 3 News also?

Bringing in lawyers won’t help fund answers to those questions.

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Airport extension benefits critiqued

April 11th, 2015 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The airline industry is criticising plans to extend Wellington Airport’s runway, saying there are better ways to spend $300 million.

In a submission that went to the Wellington City Council last night, the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (Barnz) raises serious concerns about the claimed economic benefits, and fears airlines will be left to pick up the bill.

The board represents 20 airlines that fly into and around New Zealand, including Air New Zealand.

 

Airlines will of course pass on extra costs to travelers.

I’d love to be able to fly to countries outside Australia and the Pacific from Wellington. But not at any cost.

But Barnz says the methodology used to work out the supposed economic benefits is flawed. It commissioned a peer review which states that the economic impact assessment “overstates the benefits while overlooking costs”.

Many of the assumptions used are unsound, the report says. That includes the idea that people would wait 48 hours to catch a direct flight rather than adding a stopover in Auckland, and that tourists would want to land in Wellington, requiring a “figure of eight” to explore the country, rather than starting at one end and going down.

A fair point. However we may get some people wanting to do a shorter trip primarily in one island only.

Given the requirement for long-haul carriers to fill 80 per cent of their seats, it was unlikely one would be willing to come to Wellington, he said.

“We’re not aware of any airline expressing an interest in flying long-haul into Wellington . . . Our concern is that there’s a potentially huge cost either to the ratepayers or to the traveller.”

This is the key. Funding should only be considered if an airline is willing to pledge it would then fly to Wellington from the US or Asia. Spending $300 million on the basis of “Build it and hope they come” is not sensible.

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RIP Richie Benaud

April 10th, 2015 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Legendary cricket commentator Richie Benaud has died in a Sydney hospice. 

You could not over-state his influence on the game. He has been a commentator for over 40 years. The wonderful Twelfth Man take offs could not have happened without him.  Truly one of the greats.

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No more parole for this guy

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

The Herald reports:

A convicted wife killer released on parole was sent back to jail after he was caught approaching prostitutes.

Dean Raymond Purdy, 50, strangled his 23-year-old sex worker wife Debbie in Auckland with her own underwear after they quarrelled over whether she would continue to ply her trade on the streets.

In 1991, in High Court at Auckland, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.

Life can be for life. Early release on parole is a privilege, not a right.

A convicted wife killer released on parole was sent back to jail after he was caught approaching prostitutes.

Dean Raymond Purdy, 50, strangled his 23-year-old sex worker wife Debbie in Auckland with her own underwear after they quarrelled over whether she would continue to ply her trade on the streets.

In 1991, in High Court at Auckland, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.

Strike 1

And after a failed parole stint in 2011, when he was recalled for hanging out with a criminal and drug addict

Strike 2

Purdy was granted parole again in February last year.

But his newfound freedom lasted just over a week.

Almost immediately, Purdy started breaching his parole rules by leaving his given address at night and using a cellphone.

Strike 3

As well as the prostitutes breach, he also escaped custody on March 28 last year during a Christchurch Hospital appointment – only to be caught 250m away.

Strike 4

In its decision to decline Purdy another shot at parole, released to NZME. News Service, the board commented: “It is fair to say that Mr Purdy has not previously responded well when granted the privilege of parole.”

Indeed. I don’t think he needs to be given an annual review.

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Will Campbell Live survive?

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

Stuff reports:

Just a fortnight after its tenth anniversary, Campbell Live is facing the axe.

Why?

In the last week of March, when Campbell Live celebrated a decade on air, it also saw some of the worst ratings in its history. According to analysis by throng.co.nz, it averaged an audience of 154,576 per night for that week – a week in which Seven Sharp exceeded 500,000 viewers for the first time.

Campbell Live has shed around 100,000 daily viewers in the last year. There will be a reason for that. Part of it is the ratings success of Seven Sharp, but that is not the whole story. They need to ask why have they lost 100,000 viewers?

If you go back two years, then they peaked at 400,000 daily viewers. Today it is 150,000. Again, something has gone wrong.

The Herald reported:

The document asked: “Is the 7pm slot still the right time for hard-hitting current affairs in the changing landscape of media consumption?”

It listed as one of the options bringing back Campbell’s show in its present format, or an amended one. Other options were for a Jono and Ben-style entertainment show or a tabloid-style factual show akin to Hard Copy.

I like Jono and Ben, but would not like to see them replace Campbell Live.

I think 7 pm is the right time for hard-hitting current affairs, but it is obvious that Campbell Live is alienating viewers.

The question is why?

Former Labour leader David Cunliffe asked if Mediaworks was axing the show because it was “too progressive”. 

If the show gets axed, it is because so many people have stopped watching it. Is that because it is too “progressive” (code for left)? I don’t know. But I do hear a lot from people who are politically neutral or left leaning that it is just simply too preachy, and tells you what you should be thinking.

Sometimes Campbell Live produces excellent shows. On other occasions it jumps the shark – for instance the conspiracy theory episode on Kim Dotcom which was ludicrous.

There are lots of people saying they want to save Campbell Live. Signing a petition won’t save it. Ranting about Mediaworks won’t save it. What will save it is working out why they now only get 150,000 daily viewers instead of 400,000, and having more people watch it.

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Parity in sight?

April 7th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

ausd

The NZ dollar got to 99.8 vs the Australian dollar yesterday. Parity may not be far off. Even in the days before we floated the dollar, we were not at parity. The Reserve Bank data goes back to 1973 when we almost made parity. Since 1993 we’ve been at least 75 cents but never over 95 cents until recent months.

As I’m currently in Australia, it’s great basically not having to convert prices.

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A taxi price comparison

April 7th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A new website allows consumers to predict the cost of a taxi fare, accurate to within about $4.

The site, taxifares.co.nz, estimates the cost of a journey between two points on a map, across a range of taxi companies, in five New Zealand cities – Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

A Herald test found that fare estimates provided by the site were between $3.35 less and $2.81 more than actual fare costs in Hamilton and Auckland.

As wait times can’t be predicted, it’s suggested the website will underestimate fares by $3 to $8.

Auckland traffic was flowing well at the time of the test, with slight congestion on Customs St and Symonds St.

The Herald used companies Discount Taxis (ranked as one of the cheapest on taxifares.co.nz), Auckland Co-op Taxis (ranked as a middle-price) and Sail Taxis (ranked as one of the more expensive).

All estimates by the website were between 86c less and $2.81 more than the actual fare cost. In Auckland, 31 companies are ranked from cheapest to most expensive. Uber estimates are not included.

I’ve wanted a site like this for ages. While I mainly use Uber now, it is good to be able to see the price differences by firm.

A taxi from my home to the airport (a 20 minute drive, including five minutes of stopping) would be:

  1. Kiwi Cabs $34.68
  2. Green Cabs $34.69
  3. Wgtn Combined $38.77
  4. Harbour City $42.06
  5. Wellington Star $44.86
  6. Capital Cabs $45.51

I always use Combined, so good to see they are relatively well prices. I wonder what Corporate Cabs would cost?

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Silly to blame a Judge for what her husband did 25 years ago

April 6th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government refuses to say whether a High Court judge declared her husband’s convictions for manslaughter before she was appointed.

As she was made the Judge, not her husband, why would she?

Justice Rachel Dunningham’s husband, Andy Nicholson, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter in 1991.

In 1989, Nicholson, then chief flying instructor at Manawatu Aero Club, was taking a training flight near the Manawatu Gorge on 30 July 1989 when his Tomahawk aircraft collided with another plane while attempting a flying formation.

According to the official report into the accident, Nicholson had been simulating a dogfight at the time of the crash.

A tragic accident, for which he was charged and convicted of manslaughter.

Justice Dunningham only got her law degree in 1996. To suggest that something her husband did seven years before she even got a law degree should affect whether or not she could become a Judge is silly.

Shadow attorney-general David Parker said the conviction would not necessarily have to be declared as it would not affect her ability to do her job.

Good on David Parker for saying this.

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Don’t kidnap kids in a custody dispute

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

Stuff reports:

Missing schoolboy Mike Zhao-Beckenridge was desperate to return to live with his stepfather, according to John Beckenridge’s closest friend.

“The boy kept ringing him up . . . [asking for Beckenridge] to come and pick me up,” said Roger Henricson, a Swedish airline pilot who has been friends with Beckenridge for 40 years.

Beckenridge was upset after he lost custody of Mike, 11, said Henricson. “He got quite down about it because he thought he was doing the right thing because, the little boy Mike, John has been a father to him for the last seven to eight years and he got quite attached to him.”

That may be the case, but that does not give him a right to kidnap the kid from his mother. It doesn’t matter what the 11 year old wants – they get input into the custody decision, but the adults have to deice to abide by it.

Mike and his stepfather have been missing for 23 days. The car in which they were believed to be travelling has been found in the sea at the bottom of an 88-metre cliff in the Catlins area. Police have been unable to ascertain whether there are bodies in the car, though divers indicated they could see none.

Hopefully they’ll be found.

After Beckenridge and his wife split up, Mike stayed with his stepfather. Mike’s mother indicated she was going to send the boy to China to live with his biological father or his grandparents.

If he has some parenting rights over Mike, then she can’t decide that unilaterally.

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NZ broadband speeds soaring

April 6th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Amy Adams announced:

Latest international figures on broadband speeds have reported New Zealand’s average connection speeds have increased by almost 60 per cent in the past year, said Communications Minister Amy Adams.

The Akamai State of the Internet report found that New Zealand’s average peak connection speed rose to 34.3 Mbps in the December 2014 quarter, representing a 59 per cent annual improvement – the highest increase in the Asia Pacific region.

The report also found that the average broadband connection speed rose to 7.3 Mbps (from 7.0 Mbps in the previous quarter) – representing a 39 per cent year on year increase.

The report is here. Good to see us increasing but still a long way to go – our average speed of 7.3 is 43rd in the world.

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70% of eligible family disputes now solved out of court

April 5th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Amy Adams announced:

Almost 70 per cent of family disputes referred to mediation involving children are being settled out of court a year on from the Government’s family justice reforms says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The reforms, which have been in effect for a year tomorrow, place out-of-court community-based resolution services at the heart of the system to resolve family disputes about the care of children.

Much better than forcing parents to rush to court.

“FDR is proving highly successful, of the 905 disputes referred to FDR in the last year, 68 per cent of mediations resolved all matters, and a further 18 per cent resolved some matters. 

“Almost seven out of ten disputes referred to mediation are being resolved without having to go to court which is reducing the inevitable stress children and families face when their parents separate.  It also means the Family Court can now focus on the most difficult cases, especially those involving family violence, that require judicial expertise,” says Ms Adams.

A win-win.

 

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Journalist views on Lunday

April 4th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Steve Braunias writes in the NZ Herald:

Maybe it was absolutely correct but I think the verdict was a gross injustice. I don’t think he did it.

Always interesting to hear from someone who sat through the entire trial.

But it’s more that I just can’t accept that Lundy behaved as if nothing had happened after killing his adored and precious daughter. …

The guilty verdict means we have to believe that he killed her because she walked in on her father murdering her mother.

“Nah,” said his lawyer, David Hislop QC, when I spoke with him two days before the verdict. “He’s too weak. Doesn’t have the balls.”

If one accepts that he never intended to kill Amber, it would have been an awful decision on what to do when she walked in. Do you kill your daughter or go to jail for killing your wife? Did he not think of the possibility she would walk in? What if he had worn a balaclava?

I think we all struggle with the thought that a man can kill his daughter. We understand that people sometimes kill their partners, but not their children.

However also hard to think why anyone else would have killed Amber, if it was a burglary gone wrong?

The article by Braunias is interesting. He spent a day a week over the summer with Lundy.

But a different view from another journalist, as reported by Stuff:

Fourteen years ago, Mark Lundy invited a journalist and photographer into his home for his only interview. His wife and daughter had been hacked to death just three months earlier and, unknown to the public, Lundy was the prime suspect. But as Ben Heather reports, even then Lundy seemed a bad actor.

Photographer Kevin Stent knocked on Mark Lundy’s front door and heard a scuttling inside.

After days of back and forth, Lundy finally agreed the previous day to be interviewed, and Stent had returned to take a photograph earlier that morning – but now it appeared he was backing out.

Eliciting no response, Stent walked around the house to find Lundy in the backyard. His hands were clasped together against his face in prayer and he was mumbling to himself, seemingly oblivious to Stent’s presence even as the camera clicked.

“But I just felt like he was doing it for me. Like it was completely contrived,” Stent recalls 14 years later.

Maybe he got to be a better actor over the last 14 years?

After praying, Lundy invited Stent inside and the theatrics continued as they spent several hours together. Stent says at one point Lundy suddenly lay on the ground in a “dead ant” pose with his legs and arms in the air, wailing. Later he walked into a closet, closed the door and screamed.

Seems incredibly contrived.

During that interview in 2000, Lundy told Johns how, since his wife’s death, he would go to the cemetery with a bottle of her favourite wine: Alpha Domus sauvignon blanc. He would sit at the grave and pour two glasses, taking a sip from each one. Amber was not left out. He took some fizzy drink for her. “And while I was out there, a woman put her hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Mark, the whole of Palmerston North is with you’.”

He barely left the home for the guilt since his family had left, he claimed.

But, at his first trial, the juries heard a very different story. It was revealed that, far from being a recluse, Lundy was planning a second 21st birthday and was regularly seen drunk at social events after murdering his family. Six weeks after their death, he even found time for the services of a prostitute.

While I respect Steve Braunias sat through the trial, I have to say I think the jury got it right.

 

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A geo-blocking lawsuit?

April 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Entertainment and television players Spark, MediaWorks, SKY and TVNZ have fired a warning shot to Slingshot, Orcon and Bypass Network Services, saying they are breaching copyright and operating outside the law by providing customers access to otherwise blocked international TV and movie services.

In a joint statement issued today, the four companies say they have sent the two telcos and others requests to cease the operation of “Global Mode” or similar services that get around the blocks stopping people in New Zealand accessing certain services. …

Slingshot’s Global Mode, for instance, has long allowed New Zealanders access to the US-version of Netflix, which only launched here last month.

The country’s biggest media players and Spark’s Lightbox television streaming service said “companies who set out to profit by marketing and providing access to content they haven’t paid for are operating outside the law and in breach of copyright.”

“We pay considerable amounts of money for content rights, particularly exclusive content rights. These rights are being knowingly and illegally impinged which is a significant issue that may ultimately need to be resolved in court in order to provide future clarity for all parties involved,” the four companies said.

I have some sympathy for the media companies. They have paid for the exclusive rights to content for NZ, and of course they will not like people accessing that content through companies in other countries.

However it is far from clear that giving people a work around geo-blocking is illegal. It would be a fascinating court case, if one occurs.

The problem for the media companies also is that even if your ISP doesn’t help you get around geo-blocking, individuals can do it very easily themselves. The Hola plugin for Chrome allows me to appear to be from any country in the world – and even better different countries for different sites. And it is free and takes 30 seconds to install.

Ultimately business models based on artificial separation of content rights by country, will not work in a global Internet world. The future will be selling content rights to global companies, who will sell in all countries.

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Is it all over for Team NZ?

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

Stuff reports:

Team New Zealand are fighting to retain the America’s Cup challengers series after it was taken off them in a raft of changes to the next event, including reducing the size of the foiling catamarans.

Cup bosses have done a u-turn and are now looking to race the entire America’s Cup in Bermuda, after a majority vote among the six syndicates signed up.

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton vowed to take that to the cup’s arbitration panel, believing they have agreed rights to host the series in Auckland – an event that is a key to their government funding.

Without the Auckland event and the associated economic benefits of having the teams based in New Zealand in late 2016 and January 2017, the government has made it clear that they won’t fund the team.

It is looking like it is all over for Team NZ. I don’t think this is an entirely bad thing. I’d love us to compete and win, but I just can not see it happening. There’s too much internal dysfunction, plus the rules are stacked against us. Time to move on.

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Not the Library’s job to censor

April 2nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Council will not be removing a controversial book from its libraries, despite a growing petition claiming it “advocates child abuse”.

The online petition, which has more than 2400 signatures, was launched on Friday by West Auckland mother Eileen Joy after she learned Auckland Libraries stocked a copy of To Train Up a Child – a 1994 book which instructs parents to withhold food and whip their children with branches and belts.

The authors of the book – American pastors Michael and Debi Pearl – also advise readers to use a garden hose on children who have soiled their pants.

The book sounds pretty terrible, but libraries should not ban books because some people don’t like them.

Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said: “Under no circumstances is violence against children acceptable or lawful.”

However, he said this debate touched on the fundamental principle of freedom of expression and it was a matter that would be referred to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The Classification office decide if a publication is legal or not. Not libraries – or Ms Joy.

Those who have been borrowing the book may be doing so, for critical research purposes. Or they may just want to hear different views. I have no times for busy bodies who think they should decide for everyone else what they should be allowed to read.

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Should Rewa be charged?

April 2nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Susan Burdett’s brother wants police to reopen the inquiry into her murder in 1992.

“Basically, Teina Pora did not kill my sister, but somebody did. The police should reopen the case and find out who did,” Jim Burdett says.

I think we know who did.

He was responding yesterday to news that there is no plan to retry Malcolm Rewa a third time for the killing. Rewa – who is serving a life sentence for raping Ms Burdett and 24 other women – and Mr Pora are the only people who have been charged with the rape and murder of the 39-year-old. …

Rewa was convicted at a second trial in 1998 of raping Ms Burdett but juries in two trials could not decide whether he murdered her.

Rewa attempted to explain the presence of his DNA in her body by claiming he was having an affair with her.

Yeah, right.

If Rewa was not already in for life, with no chance of parole, I’d say charge him again. But a successful prosecution would be difficult to achieve, and with him already in prison, would not change things a lot.

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Lundy gets three extra years

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

Well justice has been wise this time, and Lundy is again found guilty. His original trial got him a 17 year non parole period. This one got him 20 years non parole. And far from likely he’d even get out after 20 years considering he won’t admit his guilt.

Stuff reports:

Crown prosecutor Philip Morgan managed to sum up those years of Lundy’s life during his closing address to the retrial jury. If Lundy did not kill his wife of 17 years and their 7-year-old daughter, “he would have to be the unluckiest man in the world”.

Lundy claimed he was that man, despite damning evidence to the contrary.

His claim did not persuade the jury, which found him guilty.

Anyone who sat through every day the retrial should not be surprised at the verdicts.

Always interesting to hear the opinion of someone who actually heard all the evidence.

He dropped multiple zingers, but one line struck the strongest: “No husband should have his wife’s brain on his shirt.”

Indeed.

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Trade Me transparency report

April 1st, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Trade Me have published their 2014 transparency report detailing requests for information from Government agencies.

The requests in 2014 were:

  1. IRD 44,638 (info on no of members rather than individual inquiries)
  2. Police 1,663 (+80 from 2013)
  3. Disputes Tribunal 478 (+32)
  4. MBIE 181 (-88)
  5. MPI 89 (+19)
  6. MSD 76 (-83)
  7. IRD 62 (+11)
  8. Commerce Commission 29 (-19)
  9. ACC 28 (-15)
  10. SIS 28 (+15)
  11. Customs 26 (-14)
  12. NZDF 24 (+16)
  13. NZTA 17 (+3)
  14. Medsafe 14 (+8)
  15. DIA 12 (-10)
  16. EQC 7 (-16)
  17. DOC 7 (-9)
  18. SPCA 7 (-3)
  19. MCH 6 (-2)
  20. EPA 3 (+2)
  21. Corrections 2 (-1)
  22. REAA 2 (nc)

Good on Trade Me for being open about who they are getting requests from, and how many.

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The mystery of Edwin Drood

March 31st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is one of the largest productions I have seen at Circa, with 34 members of the cast (and one dog!).

It is a globally successful musical that has won five Tony Awards, and had long runs at West End and Broadway.

The name of the play, and its basis, come from Charles Dickens. It was his final novel, and he died before he finished it. Playwright Rupert Holmes turned it into a musical with a twist – the audience decided how it ends.

It is what you could call a meta-show – a show within a show. The New Zealand cast play a music hall cast performing the Dickens play.

There are 11 principal parts, being:

  • Chairman of the Music Hall Royale – Gavin Rutherford
  • Edwin Drood, murder victim – Awhimai Fraser
  • Rosa Bud, betrothed of Drood – Barbara Graham
  • John Jasper, uncle of Drood with a crush on Bud – Jack Buchanan
  • The Princess Puffer, opium den matron – Jude Gibson
  • Rev Septimus Crisparkle – Lloyd Scott
  • Neville Landless, a suitor for Bud – Ben Paterson
  • Helena Landless, sister of Neville – Flora Lloyd
  • Bazzard – Alan Palmer
  • Durdles – Andy Gartrell
  • The Deputy – Frankie Cur

I thought the entire cast performed very well. Barbara Graham has an exceptional singing voice and excelled. Awhimai Fraser also stood out with her performance as Edwin Drood. But all the principals performed both acting and singing well.

Also worth a mention was the 20 strong ensemble. They gave the performance a real cabaret feel, and many of them spent almost the whole performance on stage, responding to the events of the play.

The directing, music, set and lighting were all done very well, combining to create a very captivating production.

The audience participation is a highlight – ranging from the characters introducing themselves before the play starts, to voting on how the play ends, with members of the ensemble tallying up the votes from different parts of the audience.

You get to vote on how the mystery detective is, who the killer is, and which two characters should have a romantic ending. I won’t reveal who our audience voted but I will will reveal who I voted for – which was Helena to be the detective, Rosa to be the killer and the romantic couple to be Neville and Helena (heh).

I often get restless if a play goes on for more than 90 minutes or so. This production is 140 minutes long (with an interval), but not once did I feel it was dragging on. The plot advances at a brisk rate, and the songs are so enjoyable, time flies. You could tell the entire audience was loving the performance, and there was a huge ovation at the end.

Highly recommended for an entertaining evening out.

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ODT on organ donation rates

March 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

There is no beating about this particular bush. New Zealand’s organ donor rates are appalling. That means people die unnecessarily when they miss out on organ replacement.

That means the quality of life of many suffers when it need not. That means this country is burdened with heavy and unwarranted financial costs.

The rate of 8.1 per million is among the lowest in the world, half of Australia’s, just above a third of the United States’ and less than a quarter of Spain’s, the world leader at 35.1 per million.

The status quo is not acceptable. We need to make changes.

Successive governments have recognised the problem, and funding for New Zealand’s organ donation service has increased more than 700% to almost $2 million a year. The impact of this seems to have been negligible. Just throwing more money about is not initiating significant change.

Decisive attitude changes are required. Although about 52% of us say yes on our driver licences to being a donor, it appears this can account for little.

Amid the trauma of death and patients on life support, it seems we are so sensitive to the family’s grief that the matter of organ donation is not sufficiently or appropriately pursued.

I think it traumatises the families more by asking them to make the decision. It would be easier for them to be told that the patient has made a binding decision, and their wishes will be implemented.

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Idiot Haddin

March 31st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has justified his sledging of the Black Caps in the Cricket World Cup final because they had made him “uncomfortable” with their “nice” attitudes earlier in the tournament.

Haddin was speaking to Sydney radio station Triple M on Monday, as the all-night victory celebrations rolled on from their seven-wicket hiding of New Zealand the night before.

Haddin was under fire because of repeated chatter and “sending off” of New Zealand batsmen Martin Guptill and Grant Elliott. But the hard-nosed gloveman didn’t back away from that, declaring: “You know what? They deserved it.”

Haddin suggested the pleasant attitude of the Black Caps during Australia’s pool match in Auckland, which the Kiwis won, had hardened his attitude towards Brendon McCullum’s team if there was to be a rematch in the playoffs.

“They were that nice to us in New Zealand and we were that uncomfortable,” Haddin told the radio station in an interview that was reported in Australian media by News.com.

“I said in the team meeting: ‘I can’t stand for this anymore, we’re going at them as hard as we can.'”

“It was that uncomfortable,” Haddin said.

“All they were was that nice to us for seven days.

“I said, ‘I’m not playing cricket like this. If we get another crack at these guys in the final I’m letting everything [out].'”

What a dick.

I’ve got no problem with some sledging, but to justify it on the basis that New Zealanders were too nice to them when they were over here is very dickish.

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Privy Council recommends no retrial for Pora

March 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Privy Council has recommended that Teina Pora not be retried for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett.

The parties in New Zealand were notified this morning.

Crown and defence had filed submissions last week on whether Mr Pora should be tried for a third time of the 1992 crimes.

Parties received a draft order on Monday morning recommending Mr Pora not be retried.

I’d say the chance of a retrial is near zero. Kudos to those who have fought to right this wrong.

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