Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

The other side of the kauri tree issue

March 20th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogged an e-mail from an Auckland Council manager which gives us a lot of information that we never got through the media:

From: Julie Bevan
Sent: Monday, 16 March 2015 5:02 p.m.
To: GRP AC Resource Consenting – All Resource Consenting
Subject: Information about kauri tree issue last week

Dear all

 Most of you will have seen or read the media coverage on the issue of the kauri tree at Paturoa Rd in Titirangi last week, in which the decision to give consent to fell the tree to clear a building platform was hotly debated. As always, a lot of context and accurate information was missing. Here’s a summary of what happened:

Two resource consents were granted by Independent Commissioners for the construction of two houses on adjoining sites in Titirangi. The sites are bush-clad and are zoned Bush  Living – which is a residential zoning in the Waitakere section of the District Plan.  It is also a Significant Ecological Area under the Unitary Plan and the removal of vegetation and trees for an access way and building platform is provided for within this overlay.

When the consent application involving the section with the kauri tree was processed, the council had communication with the local board and received the opinion of two separate arborists, ecologists, a landscape architect and an engineer. The applicant contacted iwi. Careful consideration was given to a range of options for locating the building platform that would cause the least impact on the bush, and ensuring the shortest driveway to minimise effects, etc.  

The final proposal placed the house close to the road, leaving a large area of trees and bush undisturbed at the rear of the section, allowing a “green corridor”along the rear of a number of properties which preserved the habitat of birds and fauna. However, that did mean that a kauri tree closer to the front of the section would need to be cut down. This kauri tree is estimated by several arborists to be approximately 150-200 years old. There is no evidence to support the claim that the tree is 500 years old. There was a thorough assessment of options to retain the tree, but it has a lean on it and if it was left, it would be susceptible to wind effects, and would be so close to the house it would be considered hazardous. 

There are two larger kauri trees at the road berm which will be retained, as well as other trees at the rear of the section, including an old Puriri tree.

After having considered all options, council presented its recommendation to an independent commissioner for a decision. The independent commissioner agreed with the council recommendation and the consent was granted subject to strict conditions around construction, including intensive monitoring during the building process. 

Another story appeared suggesting that a council staff member presented a report with a different recommendation – the reality is that an initial report, based on limited information presented by the applicant, did have a different recommendation. However, when our landscape architect assessed the comprehensive information given during the consenting process, the recommendation was changed. This recommendation was confirmed by the commissioner.

On Thursday last week, the Auckland Development Committee debated the issue and decided to have an independent review of the process. They wanted to make very clear this was not a revisitation of the decision, but rather a review of the communication process with iwi and Local Boards. The Mayor Len Brown, the Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, our COO Dean Kimpton and various councillors explicitly expressed their support of staff and acknowledged that balancing issues of development and environment is frequently challenging.

I would also like to express my support of staff at the Western office, especially our arborist Natalie Marsden, team leaders Matthew Wright and Lee ah Ken, business coordinator Michelle Tomkins and the unit manager David Oakhill. David has spent long hours last week in meetings, media briefings and councillor sessions discussing this consent. He has remained clear, calm and resilient in the face of significant pressure.

Our work often involves challenges and situations where there are differences of view and position. Our role is to carefully work through the relevant plans, processes and procedures in a professional and ethical way.

I thank you all for doing your job and for doing it well.

We will keep you informed as the review gets underway and I know if asked you will assist in any way.

Kind regards

Julie

So who suddenly decided the tree was 500 years old?

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Good work NZ authorities

March 20th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A boat snared poaching in the Southern Ocean was detained after docking in Thailand with 180 tonnes of toothfish.

The Kunlun arrived in Phuket on Monday and attempted to offload what it claimed was groper. Previously registered to Equatorial Guinea, it was falsely reflagged as an Indonesian vessel and renamed Taichan. 

Bangkok-based New Zealand officials, police and customs officers arrived on the island soon after and have been working with Thai counterparts to hold the boat and its illegal haul. …

The Government worked quietly behind the scenes after the navy was slammed for failing to board two of a fleet of three vessels spotted poaching in Antarctic waters in January.

After tracking the Kunlun to Thailand, they alerted officials and passed on evidence collected by the HMNZS Wellington patrol.

Meanwhile, recent raids in Spain on Vidal Armadores-linked companies came after pressure from Wellington. Operation Sparrow – an investigation into alleged links with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities marked the first time Spain enforced a new fisheries law. …

Thailand is not due to pass domestic fishing laws until June, which left authorities with few legal options. “Two things were useful,” a New Zealand government source said.

“Firstly, they’d declared the catch as groper, not toothfish. There is no question [it is toothfish]. It is an offence to declare your fish something different to what it is. That gave [Thailand] some capacity to hold for some time.

“Separately, the boat had gone in there identifying itself as the Tiachan, flying the Indonesian flag. Our guys were quick to establish with the Indonesians that they didn’t own it. So, it is technically stateless, giving the Thai authorities a facet to keep the vessel held. We’ve been encouraging them to confiscate the catch, so they don’t get any benefit from their misdeeds.”

Looks like NZ authorities have done well with with the Spanish and Thai Governments to catch the illegal fishers. Hopefully they never get their boat back.

 

 

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Should have been struck off long ago

March 20th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A lawyer struck off for smuggling contraband to a convicted murderer had previously been censured for billing her dead ex-partner’s estate for work she did for him for free.

Disgraced lawyer Davina Murray was struck off as a lawyer in February after she pleaded guilty to smuggling contraband to convicted murderer and rapist Liam Reid. 

The  Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal released reasons for its decision Wednesday and said Murray had previously had three adverse findings in her short, five-year legal career.

So four strikes in total!

In her first offence, she directly received fees from a client and then failed to obtain an order as instructed.

In what the Tribunal called a “very serious” matter, she acted for a man she was intimately involved with while he was involved in a domestic-related dispute. 

Further, after she broke up with the man she “communicated directly with her former partner’s wife and disclosed confidential information to her against her client/former partner’s interests”.

After the man committed suicide, Murray billed his estate for $67,500 despite “numerous emails and details of communications in which Ms Murray had made it plain that she was providing legal services to her then partner at no cost”.

Very lucky to not have been struck off then.

The tribunal said it was “strongly of the view that Ms Murray is not a fit and proper person to continue in legal practice”. 

“The entire picture presented by her offending, her subsequent conduct and her previous disciplinary history is of a practitioner with little or no understanding of her ethical obligations to clients, her profession or the institutions of justice.”

I’d say no, rather than little.

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The Roastbusters report

March 20th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The IPCA has said:

An Independent Police Conduct Authority report released today has found a number of significant deficiencies in the original Police investigations into the alleged offending  by a group of young men in Auckland who called themselves the ‘Roastbusters’.

Details to come.

“The supervisory oversight of the individual cases was inadequate and the investigating staff failed to properly consider all available offences in determining whether or not to prosecute the young men,” Sir David said.

This is perhaps the key area.

“The Authority found that all of the Police officers involved treated the young women and their families with courtesy and compassion and maintained good contact with them.

“However, the officers’ contact and interaction with the young men who were the subjects of the investigations and their families was inadequate or non-existent. The failure of Police to make contact meant the young men’s parents were never made aware of several of the incidents and details of their sons’ involvement and therefore they were unable to intervene or act to address the behaviour.”

That’s bad. Even if you can’t charge them, you should be letting the parents know there have been complaints.

“Despite the failings in this case, the Authority has not found any evidence of ongoing and widespread poor practice nationally in the Police investigation or prosecution of child abuse or sexual assault cases.

Somewhat reassuring.

From the report:

However, it is concerned that in several of the cases, because officers concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed without the cooperation of the young women, they decided that no further action was required. They therefore overlooked the importance of holding the young men accountable for their behaviour and preventing its recurrence.

In other words just because you can’t charge them, doesn’t mean you can’t do something else.

Under section 134 of the Crimes Act 1961, everyone11 who has a sexual connection with, or does an indecent act on, a young person (under the age of 16 years) has committed an offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment (see paragraph 132). There is no question that these young men were aware that the young women involved in the six cases investigated by CPT staff were under 16 years. As a result of their interaction with Police officers, it is also evident that several of the young men (certainly by the time the investigation into Case 1 had concluded) were aware that they were committing an offence, irrespective of their own ages.

Officer D told the Authority that he and Officer C determined that prosecutions under section 134 were “inappropriate” because two of the three young men were under 16 at the time of the offending. He added that section 134 is intended for “consenting parties” and that, if it had been used to bring a prosecution in Case 3, it would have implied that the Police did not believe the victim’s initial account that she was not consenting.

The Authority does not accept the validity of this reasoning, as there were a number of aggravating features in these cases that should have prompted consideration of such a prosecution. In four of these cases the young women were between two and three years younger than the young men involved. They were vulnerable (due to factors such as their level of intoxication); the extent to which they were willing parties was at best equivocal; and they were subject to sexual acts by more than one young man. The behaviour of the young men was demonstrably unacceptable and required a response.

This is where the Police really stuffed up. They misunderstood the law with their reasoning that they could not use s134 because consent was disputed. That’s a really basic error, and while not every police officer will know the law well – they should have supervisors and a checking process that would have picked this up.

In our view, the fact that the parties are close together in age, while a relevant factor, is not determinative. Moreover, it is perverse to conclude that a prosecution for sexual violation cannot be brought because there is insufficient evidence to prove lack of consent beyond reasonable doubt, but then to reject a prosecution under section 134 on the basis that it would imply the existence of consent. The reality is that a prosecution under section 134 says nothing about the presence or absence of consent, because it is simply irrelevant to the facts that need to be proved.

And a prosecution under s134 would almost certainly have been successful as consent is not a factor.

The report is quite damning of Waitemata Police. The failings were significant enough that disciplinary action should be considered for the officers involved.

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3.3% annual growth

March 19th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

New Zealand’s economy grew 0.8 percent in the last three months of 2014, led by retail and accommodation, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Combined with increases in real estate services and manufacturing, this boosted growth for the December 2014 year to 3.3 percent. This is the highest annual increase since 2007, before the global financial crisis.

Excellent.

Manufacturing activity was also up this quarter, with an increase of 1.0 percent.

That manufacturing crisis continues.

gdp-dec14qtr-visualisation

A useful graphic to put the sectors in perspective.

The annual growth by sector is:

  1. Construction +11.7%
  2. Retail +7.0%
  3. Mining +5.6%
  4. IT/Comms +4.5%
  5. Public Admin +4.2%
  6. Primary Industries +4.1%
  7. Health +3.4%
  8. Financial +3.0%
  9. Professional +2.9%
  10. Real Estate +2.3%
  11. Manufacturing +2.0%
  12. Wholesale +1.8%
  13. Arts +1.5%
  14. Education +0.7%
  15. Transport +0.4%
  16. Utilities -2.2%

So while construction helps, this show many sectors also booming.

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Pregnant woman refused a glass of wine

March 19th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A heavily pregnant woman is flabbergasted at being refused a single glass of sparkling wine on her wedding anniversary last night at an Auckland restaurant.

Nichola Hayes and her husband Michael were looking forward to a rare night out just weeks before she is due to give birth to the couple’s second child.

They chose Mac’s Brewbar at the Nuffield Street Trading Company in Newmarket where Mrs Hayes asked for a glass of wine with pizza while her husband opted for beer.

But Mrs Hayes was “completely flabbergasted and embarrassed” when a waitress denied her service on the basis of her pregnancy.

A bar has a right to decide who they serve alcohol to. And a customer has a right to not go to a bar that will try and make decisions on their behalf.

It does seem the bar staff were overly zealous. While no level of alcohol is entirely safe, a single wine is unlikely to have an impact. The question is whether the decision should be the mother’s, or the bar staff.

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Why does Canterbury University fund Canta?

March 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

All copies of University of Canterbury’s student magazine have been recalled after backlash over a “poor taste” article about virtual rape.

The story in Canta magazine, written by a student under the alias Queen B, was published in its Monday edition, and discussed the issue of simulated rape in forums such as video games.

It included the lines: “one might liken you to a drunk sorority girl whose whorey tendencies gets her in stupid situations – you were aware of the risks: you were asking for it”, and “get the f*** back in the kitchen, b****.”

University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) president Sarah Platt said all copies of the magazine had been recalled from around campus, and the online version removed.

I don’t have a problem with student magazines being edgy and controversial. That is their traditional role.

But what I do have a problem with, is all students being forced to fund them.

Canterbury University gives $274,000 to UCSA for “media”, of which the bulk probably goes to Canta. A student magazine is not an essential student facility or service that should be funded by a compulsory levy. They even state:

Handle UCSA’s communication channels to inspire debate, make you laugh, cry, angry, informed, ambivalent, nonplussed or otherwise.

So the University of Canterbury is so plush with funds, that it forces students to fund a publication that is designed to make some students angry. This shows very clearly that the university is over-funded.

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Guest Post: The Banks Prosecution

March 19th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Flipper:

Flipper hears that there are some very upset people (seriously p****d off is the way one source describes them) at the Court of Appeal, particularly Justices E France, J Wild and F Miller.

The reason?
The Crown Law Office (M Heron/ U Jagose (?) and P Dacre) sat on information that clears John Banks, and did not disclose it either to the C o A or to J Banks’ counsel, David Jones.
Had the information withheld been disclosed to Jones and the CoA, experienced observers assert, the appeal would have been allowed immediately, and no retrial ordered. That would have been the end of the matter, apart for some later unfortunate consequences for the Crown.

To recap, the Crown sent solicitor Rowan Butler to interview Dotcom over the new evidence (from two US businessmen) that Banks would present to the CoA. Banks’ counsel had observed the rules and disclosed that to the Crown. The interview with Dotcom took place on September 29, 2014, and Butler reported to Crown Counsel Dacre in a memorandum, also on September 29. The “Butler Memorandum” introduces a new Dotcom claim – that there were two meetings with Mr and Mrs Banks, one of June 5, 2010 and the other on June 9, 2010. He had earlier asserted that there was only one meeting on June 9. Wylie J, however, found that the lunch was on June 5, as latter also attested by the US businessmen.

The crux of the date issue is that both Mr and Mrs Banks were proven to have been elsewhere on June 9, and could not have been at a “second” meeting/luncheon with Dotcom on that date.

Now, understand this: This information was known to the Crown on September 29, 2014. It was not disclosed to Jones/Banks, nor to the Court of Appeal when it heard the case on October 29, 2014 – one month later. In fact the existence of the Butler memorandum was kept secret by the Crown until finally it was released (received by) to David Jones (Banks) on February 27, 2015.

On March 2, 2015 (the weekend intervened) David Jones filed a memorandum with the High Court requesting a section 347 (discharge) hearing. Flipper hears that the Crown has now agreed to this hearing. But that is not all the bad news for the Crown. It is also said that David Jones has gone back to the Court of Appeal because it appears, on the face of evidence now disclosed by the Crown, that the Court was deliberately misled.

It is of concern to some that SG Mike Heron should have been a party to that, and there have been comments linking the withholding decision to his deputy.

Where this unhappy saga will end is open to speculation. But it surely is:
• Good news for John Banks who has now spent more than a month (all up) in the Courts and appeared before more than 15 Judges;
• Bad news for the Crown Law establishment;
• Likely to give rise to assertions of malfeasance;
Likely to adversely impact on the careers (future Bench appointments) of those involved on the Crown side of the case.

It will be very interesting to see where this ends up.

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Bradbury and Peebles declare bankruptcy

March 18th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

In December the Supreme Court turned down the final appeal by Clive Bradbury and Gregory Peebles in relation to the Trinity tax avoidance scheme which was found to be unlawful. It involved potential tax losses of $3.7 billion.

A reader has pointed out that Mr Bradbury was declared bankrupt in January, and Mr Peebles in February.

I guess this means taxpayers won’t be getting all their money back. A pity.

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Dambuster medals may stay in NZ

March 18th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A solution may have been found to keeping veteran “Dambuster” Les Munro’s medals in New Zealand.

Lord Michael Ashcroft has offered to donate $150,000 to the upkeep of London’s Bomber Command Memorial if Mr Munro withdraws his medals from auction.

Philanthropist Lord Ashcroft will donate GPB75,000 to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which looks after the memorial, in return for Mr Munro donating his medals to the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland.

MOTAT has offered to cover the auctioneer’s fees and out of pocket expenses.

Mr Munro’s awards, including the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, were expected to fetch between $80,000 and $100,000 at auction.

The 95-year-old veteran had put the medals up to be auctioned on March 25 to raise money for the upkeep of the memorial, which commemorates his fallen comrades.

A very generous offer to Lord Ashcroft who has a genuine affection for both New Zealand and military medals. He has the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses, which are freely displayed at the Imperial War Museum in London.

I played a very minor role in the development, tweeting the story to Lord Ashcroft (whom I know through the International Democrat Union) last week. By coincidence he was en route to NZ.

Obviously it is up to Les Munro whether he will accept the offer, or still put them up for auction. But the offer seems to be significantly higher than what they are likely to fetch at auction, so hopefully he will accept and we get a win-win of the medals remaining in NZ, and the Bomber Command Memorial getting a further donation of $150,000.

Lord Ashcroft donated more than $2 million to build the Bomber Command Memorial, which commemorates the airmen who died while flying with the Bomber Command, known as the “Dambusters”, during World War Two.

His proposal has the support of the NZ Bomber Command Association, and if successful, MOTAT will develop a travelling exhibition on the history of the Bomber Command.

He has also offered to personally collect the medals from the auction house in London and fly them to New Zealand.

Lord Ashcroft is also a major pollster in the UK. He commissions polls at both national and electorate level, and publishes them free to the world. He also publishes summaries of focus groups of undecided voters. Very very interesting material for political players and observers.

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Yuck

March 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A “mystery pooper” has pooed in Invercargill’s Splash Palace swimming pool five Friday evenings in a row.

City council aquatic services manager Pete Thompson said the culprit’s acts had cost the pool “tens of thousands of dollars” in lost revenue.

The pool was closed for cleaning for about six hours each time faecal matter was found in the water.

“It generally happens after 5pm each Friday night,” Thompson said.

It was unclear if one person or more was involved, with poo found in three pools in the complex on a Friday night about three weeks ago.

 

If it was five Fridays in a row, it must be deliberate. Very disgusting.

I wonder if they have cameras at the entrance which they could use to find out who was there all five Fridays. Can’t be too many.

Also is there anyway one could DNA test the poo, and ask those there each night to do a test, to clear themselves? They could refuse, but if only one refused that might lead somewhere.

“In one of those pools was diarrhoea … that was unfortunate.”

Yuck, yuck, yuck. I suspect pool attendance is going to plummet now.

If they catch the person responsible, I hope the prosecution gets a lot of publicity.

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Vodafone’s leave decision

March 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A flood of supportive messages has been the “overwhelming” response to news that Vodafone will increase the amount of fully paid maternity leave it offers.

“I didn’t expect it to be latched on to as much,” chief executive Russell Stanners said on Monday.

Vodafone announced last week that new mums on staff will get an extra four weeks fully paid maternity leave under the company scheme from April 1.

The change takes the company’s maternity leave provision from 12 to 16 weeks. It will also offer mothers who return to work within 12 months the ability to work a 30 hour week for 40 hours pay for six months. …

The move brings Vodafone into line with the government paid parental leave term of 16 weeks which will begin on the same day, increasing to 18 weeks from April 1, 2016.

However, the maximum maternity pay available from the government scheme is $504.10 gross a week while Vodafone’s scheme provides the employee’s full pay.

Good on Vodafone for their decision. But understand Vodafone are not doing this to be nice. They are doing this because it is in their commercial self-interest to recruit and retain staff, 37% of whom are women.

This decision doesn’t make the case for the state legislating more generous leave provisions for all companies. It makes the case for not doing so, and allowing those companies that wish to offer more generous leave provisions to do so. Vodafone’s move will put pressure on competitors such as Spark to do the same. But what is appropriate for a giant company like Vodafone is not necessarily appropriate for Jack’s Cafe which couldn’t afford to pay a staffer their full wages for six months, while not working.

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X-Fail

March 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This clip has gone global, making Kiwis cringe the world over. But the judges are not both Kiwis.

Natalia Kills (whom I had never heard of before this) is from Bradford, while Willy Moon is sadly a Wellingtonian.

Maybe they were trying to be Simon Cowell, but they failed miserably. They just made themselves look fragile and precious.

According to the Herald Moon has previous form:

Worse was to follow in the bakery, Moon calling her a “c***” in front of stunned staff and customers. “This is a man who is supposed to mentor young people on national television and what he said was disgraceful,” Ms Neal-Gailer said.

“I couldn’t believe it when he twice hissed at me, ‘You are such a c***’.”

Today Moon took to Twitter to abuse Ms Neal-Gailer and the Herald.

“Not only a **** but a lying **** judging from that ‘statement’ you [nzherald.co.nz] saw fit to print. Laughable. Bored?,” he posted.

He added: “‘Woman proves my point by writing long inaccurate sad letter detailing how much of a **** she is'”. Better headline.”

His wife also came out swinging: “Why did you invent a quote my husband NEVER said?! He never apologized to that c*** lady. Stop defending her bullying,” Kills wrote.

She added: “Hilarious that lady is proving not only how much of a c*** she is, but also a lying c***! ‘Children present’?! Where?!”

They seem like genuinely terrible people, so why has TV3 decided to put them on X-Factor?

Even worse why has NZ on Air put $800,000 of our money into subsidising this horrible show?

UPDATE: Mediaworks has announced the two judges have been sacked. That is a good decision. One can make critical comments of a performance, without just denigrating the person’s worth as a human being. The two judges seemed unable to tell the difference.

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A $6 million bowling centre for Naenae!

March 16th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The super-city proposal has drawn all kinds of of flak for how it might suck the “local” out of local democracy. But sometimes parochialism makes for its own dubious decision-making, as our councils proved this week.

First was the news that Hutt City Council is progressing plans for a $6 million bowling centre in Naenae.

That, one councillor calculated, means $13,000 of investment for each local bowling club member. If it’s true, that’s simply ridiculous. It gets worse, because bowling numbers are in decline – the number of clubs nationally has more than halved since the late 1990s.

Meanwhile Naenae itself is home to an unusually high proportion of young people, which makes it an even more incongruous project: expensive new digs for a sport favoured by older people..

And the costs of the centre are rising, at least for the council – it has been asked to double its contribution to $4m, while its subsidiary Community Facilities Trust will raise the rest.

Any Councillor who votes for this should be sacked. They want to take $60 off every resident and build a bowling centre which would be used by a few hundred people.

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SIS and GCSB annual reports

March 16th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

They are both an interesting read. The SIS report is here. Some extracts:

Our work in 2013/14 had a significant operational focus on individuals with links to groups in both Iraq and Syria such as the Islamic State/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This work has involved investigations into individuals already embedded with terrorist organisations overseas, New Zealand citizens or permanent residents based both in New Zealand and offshore with intentions to travel overseas to engage in politically motivated violence, and individuals who are facilitating others to travel and those engaged in funding terrorist organisations.

By preventing these individuals travelling to engage in violent extremism, the NZSIS assesses that there is a real likelihood that the lives of these individuals may have been saved. In addition, had they managed to get to Syria and fight, the NZSIS has prevented the risk of battle-hardened individuals returning and compromising New Zealand’s security.

I wouldn’t mind them going so much if we could stop them returning. But generally we can’t.

Women comprise 40.5% of the NZSIS. The NZSIS achieved a significant milestone in 2013/14 with the appointment of its first female Director, Rebecca Kitteridge, and four of the nine roles that make up the NZSIS Senior Leadership Team are currently held by women.

I suspect that is very different to the past.

The NZSIS operates within an oversight and accountability framework that includes the Executive, Parliament, and independent authorities such as the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, the Commissioner of Security Warrants, and the Offices of the Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsman. This multi-layered approach to oversight provides an assurance that the NZSIS’s work is transparent at a number of levels.

The institutional checks are very important.

Fifty-one (51) domestic intelligence warrants were in force. Of those, thirty-four (34) were issued during the reporting period, and seventeen (17) were issued during the previous year but remained in force for some part of the reporting period.

The average length for which those warrants were in force during the reporting period was 134 days.

So a warrant is issued around every 10 days.

The GCSB report is here.

A total of 19 interception warrants were in force during the 2013/14 year. A total of 14 interception warrants were issued during the 2013/14 year.

A total of 59 access authorisations were in force during the 2013/14 year. A total of 48 access authorisations were issued during the 2013/14 year.

So the total number of warrants issued last year for the SIS and GCSB combined were 96. It is not a huge number.

 

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Should we start planning now for driverless cars

March 16th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The race to bring the first robot car to market intensified with Baidu’s announcement. Google showed off a prototype self-driving car in December. Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit are testing them, too. Others, such as Toyota, Honda and General Motors, are developing technologies to assist, if not replace, human drivers. Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S has an “autopilot” mode. Apple revealed last month that it’s also working on an electric car, although it’s unclear what automated features it might have.

What’s also unclear are the regulatory hurdles the invention might have to overcome. Five US states have passed laws allowing them, with certain conditions, and six more are considering them, according to researchers at Stanford Law School.

I think driverless cars are the future for public transport. A train and a bus can only take you between two fixed points. A driverless shuttle can pick you up and drop you off door to door.

Once driverless cars become widely available as a form of public transport, people might well abandon their own vehicles. It’s inefficient to have capital locked up in a car which gets used for only an hour or so a day, if that.

Should we start planning for the future, such as dedicated lanes for driverless cars as well as buses?

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The annual report of the Abortion Supervisory Committee

March 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The annual report of the Abortion Supervisory Committee is here.

abortionrates

Good to see the rate in New Zealand declining since 2007 – the only of the countries featured to be doing so significantly.

If one looks at the changes by age, the big fall has been 15 to 24 year olds. The number of abortions of 15 to 19 year olds has fallen from 4,097 in 2008 2,096 in 2013. A huge 50% decline.

For 20 to 24 year olds it has fallen from 5,396 to 4,386.

94% of abortions occur in the first trimester.  Les than 0.5% after 20 weeks.

0.3% of abortions are done due to danger to life, 0.7% due to danger to physical health, 1.4% due to a handicapped child and the rest 97.6% due to danger to mental health.

55% of those who had abortions were not using contraception, 25% were using condoms, 11% oral contraceptives.  A good reminder that many contraceptives are not infallible.

 

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Why not stop funding all music videos?

March 16th, 2015 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A researcher is calling for curbs on taxpayer funding of music videos that contain violence after his group found “high levels” of violence in the music videos shown on TV.

I don’t think the Government should choose which music videos are worthy of funding, or not funding.

Instead I don’t think taxpayers should fund any music videos at all.

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UMR’s mood of the nation

March 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A lot of interesting data in UMR’s annual mood of the nation. It includes:

  • Average country right direction in 2014 was 62% to 28% wrong direction
  • The most followed political news story (after the election result) was the Shane Jones Countdown allegations. The MP that bailed on Labour as he no longer fitted got their most impacting story
  • Gap between National and Labour went from 10% in 2013 to 18% in 2014
  • The least trusted institution is trade unions at 23%, below organised religion at 27%
  • 62% of NZers now own a smartphone
  • 76% are on Facebook, 30% on Linked In and 22% on Google Plus and Twitter
  • Net approval ratings of world leaders is Obama +70%, Merkel +37%, Cameron +30%, Abbott +7%, Putin -64%
  • The level of interest in various sports is rugby 71%, netball 51%, league 47% and cricket 45%
  • Only 23% of NZers could correctly name Jim Bolger as the PM in 1994. More people thought it was Clark or Shipley.
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NZ has fastest fibre growth

March 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Amy Adams announced:

Fibre growth connections in New Zealand have tripled in the last year, putting us first of all 34 countries in the OECD, says Communications Minister Amy Adams.

The latest OECD Broadband Portal penetration statistics show New Zealand is now number one among developed countries for annual growth of fibre connections from June 2013 to June 2014, with an annual growth of 272 per cent.

The average annual growth of fibre connections in the OECD was 12.4 per cent.

“In the year to December 2014, fibre connections in New Zealand grew from 19,000 to 69,301. This is an impressive jump and demonstrates the impact that the Government’s $2 billion investment in the Ultra-fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiative programme is having on the telecommunications services available to New Zealanders,” says Ms Adams.

We are coming off a low base, but that’s excellent growth.

“Over the past ten years, we have moved up from 22nd place out of 30 OECD countries in June 2004 to being 15th out of 34 OECD countries for fixed broadband subscriptions as at June 2014,” says Ms Adams.

“We are now ahead of Australia, the US and Japan for fixed broadband, with more than 31 broadband subscriptions for every 100 New Zealanders signed up for this service.

Good to now be in the top half. The reforms of both this Government and the previous one have helped.

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Stop Stealing Auckland Harbour

March 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A release of interest for some:

A new protest group of Aucklanders has joined the outcry against Ports of Auckland’s planned extensions to Bledisloe Wharf.

Under the call to action of Stop Stealing Our Harbour, the group is calling for a halt to any further work on the port expansion until Auckland Council honours its promise to fully scrutinise the Ports’ plans.

The group says the port company is incrementally expanding in to the harbour – and its actions are being sanctioned by Ports owner Auckland Council.

Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesperson Michael Goldwater says Ports of Auckland starts work in April on extending Bledisloe Wharf by nearly 100m in to the Waitemata Harbour.

“Aucklanders have recently paid $40 million to Ports of Auckland to create the harbour gateway to our city on Queens Wharf. The Bledisloe Wharf extensions will completely block the view from Queens Wharf to the outer harbour, one of the most significant views on our waterfront.   

“The extensions will also unnecessarily narrow an increasingly congested harbour. The Waitemata Harbour is Auckland’s greatest asset, one we hold in trust for future generations. Through the actions of the Ports of Auckland and Auckland Council it is now under further threat,” Mr Goldwater says.

The group says resource consents for the extension were issued in late December 2014 without any consultation, notification or knowledge of the wider Auckland community and other stakeholders. …

Aucklanders are being urged to join the campaign on www.facebook.com/stopstealingourharbour for further developments. …

The advocacy group comprises representatives of boating, political, business, and professional organisations as well as lawyers and architects.

I’m against the Port expanding from their current space.

 

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Guest Post: Christchurch Planners

March 14th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Hugh Pavletich:

INDEPENDENT PANEL SLAMS CHRISTCHURCH COUNCIL PLANNERS

 Hugh Pavletich
Performance Urban Planning
Christchurch
New Zealand

 4 March 2015

 Introduction …

 On Thursday 26 February, an important decision was announced by the Christchurch Replacement District Plan Independent Hearings Panel, dealing with the Christchurch City Councils Notified Plan foundation Strategic Directions and Outcomes ( http://www.chchplan.ihp.govt.nz/Hearings/Hearing1/Pages/default.aspx ).

 Recently, the Press Senior Feature Writer John McCrone interviewed Sir John Hansen, a former High Court Judge and current Chair of the Christchurch Hearing Panel … Sir John Hansen is a man with a plan . Sir John and the Panel are highly regarded within the wider community.

 Housing …

 With respect to housing (s164 onwards) the Panel states the Council’s Notified Plan was “insufficiently clear and directive on the very important subject of housing capacity and choice”.

As noted within the decision, submitters explained the human costs of Christchurch’s stressed and currently severely unaffordable housing market.

S167 states …

‘In the overall sense, that demonstrated relevant provisions of the Notified Version would fail to promote sustainable management. In particular, its Policy 3.6.1.2. referred vaguely and inconsistently to notions of “housing affordability” and “opportunities for affordable housing development … sufficient to meet demand’. Without proper definition or objective or goal” the Notified Version did not provide any helpful measure of the problem or ability to monitor whether the problem was being resolved (through the administration of related Plan provisions, for example).”

The Panel Decision stressed the importance of consistency, clarity and certainty.

In subsequent sections the Decision states the Planning Experts Joint Version “… was much clearer”.

The Planning Experts perspective, however, tends to be prescriptive.

(more…)

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Singh vs Singh

March 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A liquor store worker who was threatened, assaulted, called a “f***ing Indian” and “Indian dog” by his employer has been awarded $45,000 in damages for racial harassment.

Satnam Singh told the Human Rights Tribunal he suffered racial abuse, culminating in a physical assault, while employed for two months at Scorpion Liquor in Mt Roskill.

An Indian national and practicing Sikh, Satnam Singh was also paid less than minimum wage, earning between $6 and $7 an hour.

Disgraceful behaviour and good to see a large damages award.

Store manager Shane Singh and his mother, Raj Devi, who owns the business, did not respond to the claim and took no part in proceedings.

You can’t be absolutely sure, but the surnames suggest the owner and manager are also Indians, which makes the racial abuse somewhat perplexing.

During his two months at Scorpion Liquor, Shane Singh frequently made references to “f***ing Indians”, and referred to Indian students as “Indian dogs”.

He also made comments about Satnam Singh’s long hair, a requirement for his Sikh religion.On one occasion the worker was filmed while cleaning the shop toilet, and told “You f***ing Indians [will] always clean my s*** today and in the future”.

Maybe Shane Singh is not also Indian. He’s a terrible person though, that is for sure.

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Awful treatment by a bus driver

March 13th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A blind bus passenger was left humiliated and in tears after a bus driver refused to give her a discount because he thought she was faking it.

Megan Johnston, 28, of Newtown, has extreme tunnel vision. She cannot drive and relies on public transport.

She has a NZ Bus blind person’s pass, which entitles her to travel on child or concessionary fares.

When she boarded the No 10 leaving Newtown Park on Tuesday afternoon, with her cane folded under her arm, she never expected to be challenged about her disability.

She had just folded up her cane, which was under her arm, given she gave the driver $2 and presented him with her pass.

“He didn’t take my money and just stared at me and then said, ‘Yeah, you’re not blind, are you?’ which took me aback,” she said.

He then asked other passengers on the bus whether they thought she was blind.

Bad enough to doubt it yourself, but to them ask the passengers to basically vote on whether another passenger is a liar is nasty and humiliating. I don’t think the driver is well suited to a role dealing with the public.

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The Pianist

March 12th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I loved this show.

Thomas Monckton was like a combination of Mr Bean and Jim Carrey. it was great, and he was hilarious.

Mockton plays a pianist who wants to make a triumphant appearance and then perform on the piano. But over the next hour everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

You don’t even see him for the first few minutes as you just see the figure trying to break through the curtain. You’re laughing out loud at the clawing motions you can see.

Then when he finally gets out, watch out for the chandelier, the piano legs, the cover, the lighting – well just about everything.

Monckton doesn’t speak the entire play. His antics and facial expressions are more than enough to keep you amused – along with his somewhat spiky hair.

The sound and lighting combine with great timing to make the show spectacular. And the lighting operator even plays a part more directly in the show – which was one of my favourite parts.

The audience also get involved at various stages.

It is the funniest show I have seen for years. You really don’t stop laughing. It was nice to have such simple uncomplicated physical humour. A great way to unwind after work or at the weekend.

I really can’t imagine anyone, whether aged 10 or 80, not enjoying this show.  It’s been performed in Edinburgh and London and is now back in NZ.

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