Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Offensive idiocy

July 9th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Canterbury Television was blocked by police from covering an earthquake memorial event at its former site after an apparent government blunder.

The Department of Internal affairs has apologised to Canterbury Television (CTV) after journalists were turned away from covering the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday.

Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, paid tribute to the people who died in the CTV building during the Christchurch earthquake. The pair laid a wreath at the site.

The building was where 115 of the 185 people who died in the February 2011 earthquake died.

Among those victims were employees of the station and 28 Japanese students*.

However, CTV’s head of news and content, Jacqui Shrimpton, said it received no notice of the site visit or what it entailed from the Department of Internal Affairs, which managed the event’s media coverage.

It is possible the DIA doesn’t have list or contacts for regional media, and just uses a national media list. But regardless, they should have regional media lists.

When a CTV journalist and cameraman arrived they had been ejected by police because their names were not on the list, Shrimpton said.

“We are frustrated and disappointed to not have been invited and were embarrassed in front of Christchurch media to have been sent away.”

Police had been apologetic, but strict security meant they could not allow the journalist and cameraman to stay.

The Police need to take some of the blame also. There’s a time to follow orders blindly, and there’s a time to use some discretion. At a minimum the officers should have checked higher up the line, until someone with authority could say of course you should let CTV staff in, so long as they have ID (which they would have).

The combination of the DIA oversight and the Police inflexibility combined in what really was a quite offensive way, albeit unintentionally – blocking CTV from covering a memorial at their own former site.

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How stupid is the Judge feeling now?

July 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A video of the Maori King’s son has emerged showing him making an expletive-laden rant. …

The source said Mr Paki was his school’s kaitataki tane (male leader in a kapa haka group) but was kicked out of the team for bad behaviour while on the trip and sent home.

In the 25 second video, Mr Paki says; “rubbish c###, rubbish…I’m the f###### man boy. I’ll f###### show you how to lead a f###### roopu (group) boy, I’ll f###### show you what the f### is up c###.

I’m the f####### kaitataki f###### tane (male leader)..o te motu boy. I’m the f###### man, I’ll show you what is f###### up c###.”

And the Judge let him off his crimes on the basis it may stop him becoming the Maori King one day. Yeah, right. You don’t need to be a genius to work out his older brother will succeed, and Korotangi Paki is no potential successor.  Of course even if he was, I think it is repugnant that someone gets a lighter (or no) sentence purely on the basis of who his parents are.

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Domestic violence is not exclusively a male problem

July 8th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

There is a very interesting longitudinal study of families done by Otago University on the issue of domestic violence.

I should preface these extracts by saying that when it comes to the most severe forms of domestic violence – being killed or maimed by your partner or ex-partner, its is clear that this happens to women, by men, far more often. But what does the Otago study find for overall domestic violence:

In addition, victimization and perpetration reports were highly correlated (r = .81). This reflects the fact that, in most instances, respondents reported mutual IPV, with 90% of those reporting IPV victimization reporting IPV perpetration, and 94% of those reporting IPV perpetration reporting IPV victimization.

There were no significant differences between males and females in terms of reported IPV victimization. The mean victimization score for females was 2.12 (SD = 2.91) compared to the mean of 2.28 (SD = 2.71) for males (p > .40). However, there was a significant difference between males and females in terms of reported IPV perpetration, such that females reported higher levels of IPV perpetration. The mean perpetration score for females was 2.15 (SD = 2.26), compared to a mean of 1.66 (SD = 2.04) for males (p < .01).

That’s what you call an inconvenient fact.

In terms of the CTS victimization subscale measures, 11.3% of males and 7.3% of females reported being exposed to minor physical assault; 7.7% of males and 3.4% of females reported severe physical assault; 65.7% of males and 66.1% of females reported minor psychological aggression; and 15.4% of males and 9.2% of females reported severe psychological aggression. For the CTS perpetration subscale measures, 6.7% of males and 5.5% of females reported committing minor physical assault; 2.8% of males and 3.2% of females reported severe physical assault; 56.7% of males and 68.7% of females reported minor psychological
aggression; and 6.9% of males and 9.2% of females reported severe psychological aggression.

So males are more likely to suffer a severe physical assault.

Now the reality is that most men and stronger than most women, and the impact of a serious physical assault can be both physically and psychologically more damaging, even terrifying for a woman. So this paper doesn’t minimise the horrendous impact on women, of serious assaults. It just establishes that domestic violence is far from exclusively something men do to women – in fact 90% of those who get victimised by domestic violence, also perpetrate it, according to this study. Now that is not 100%, and many people suffer domestic violence, who never ever engage in it itself. But the study shows they are the exception,  not the rule.

The report authors conclude:

All research into IPV is conducted against the backdrop of what Dutton (Dutton, 1994; Dutton & Nicholls, 2005) has described as “the feminist paradigm” (p. 682). This model, which dominates public discourse about domestic violence, views violence through a gendered lens that centers around the assumptions that: (a) most domestic violence involves male perpetrators and female victims; (b) female violence is defensive and reactive; and (c) the causes of domestic violence reflect the values of patriarchal social structures in which violence is used to control women and limit their opportunities (e.g. Bograd, 1988; Dobash & Dobash, 1979; Dobash, Dobash, Wilson, & Daly, 1992; Johnson, 1995).

While this model has been highly influential in setting the directions of domestic violence policy, it is almost completely discrepant with the findings of this and a growing number of studies.

They point out:

While population survey data have tended to suggest an absence of gender differences, official data tend to suggest a predominance of male perpetrators and female victims. Reconciling these differences is central to a balanced understanding of the issues of IPV. The most straightforward resolution of the evidence is to suggest that, while males and females appear to be equally predisposed to domestic violence, because of greater male strength and capacity for aggression, males predominate in the more extreme cases of IPV represented in officially recorded statistics

None of the above should take away from the reality that too many men do commit domestic violence, and as a society we should make domestic violence as socially unacceptable as drink driving now is. That is what David Cunliffe very clumsily was trying to say a couple of days ago.

But apologising for being a man, was both stupid (you apologise for what you do, not for what you are), but also missing the wider picture of domestic violence.

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NZ on Air is 25

July 7th, 2014 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dr Ropata might have never returned from Guatemala, and the West family might have never been born into outrageous fortune, had it not been for a law change 25 years ago.

The Broadcasting Act, passed in May 1989, led to the establishment of funding agency New Zealand on Air, which turned 25 on July 1.

It meant that suddenly – and it did happen virtually overnight – anyone with an idea for producing New Zealand content for broadcast could apply for funding. Before 1989, it was limited to the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand, which operated the two television channels and had a virtual monopoly on the radio waves.

This was a key change, which increased competition. The state’s funding used to go on the state channels only. This change opened up the funding for NZ productions to all producers and all channels.

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Monday Motivator – Westhaven Splendour

July 7th, 2014 at 1:31 pm by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 27

Westhaven Splendour, Auckland, New Zealand

This one is obviously for the Aucklanders amongst us – a classic view of Westhaven Marina and the harbour bridge.

Rising super early one morning I drove into the city in time for an incredible display of pre dawn light. This has always been a popular image with tourists and has literally sold to all corners of the world.

Click on the image for a larger view of this photograph or on this link to see it as a poster print.

Cheers

Richard [richardhume.com]

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

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Can Banks get a discharge without conviction, as the son of the Maori King has?

July 6th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

I suggest this decision by serial offender Judge Phillippa Cunningham strengthens the case for John Banks to argue for a discharge without conviction on the electoral fraud charges,  A few points:
 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10229216/Maori-Kings-son-avoids-conviction
 
Stats have come out this week confirming police almost never investigate Electoral Act complaints (either local or national).  Burglary is typically investigated, at least on the surface.  Often goes no further due to lack of evidence.  Same with theft.  Drink driving is essentially always investigated, given the evidence is collected live at the scene of apprehension.  This demonstrates the seriousness with which the police see burglary, theft and drink driving as opposed to electoral fraud charges and the regularity with which they lay charges.
 
The charge John Banks was found guilty of carries a max of 2 years imprisonment.  Burglary carries a max of 10 years and is a serious crime.  Theft under $500 is 3 months max.
 
There are a host of other arguments in terms of the relative seriousness of the two scenarios, including Paki’s relative youth, Paki’s prior convictions/youth Court notations, burglary offending committed complicit with 3 other offenders, Bank’s prior clean record (as I understand).  I won’t go into them all.
 
But it is interesting to compare the two cases given both could argue they have ‘futures’ that a conviction may put the kibosh on (royalty v political).

It will be interesting to see the decision of the court, in August.

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The power of speaking up

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

The Herald reports:

National MP Maggie Barry says more than a dozen New Zealand women have approached her to say they were also indecently assaulted by disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris — and one is considering an official complaint to police after decades of silence.

Ms Barry revealed yesterday that she was groped by Harris in a Palmerston North recording studio when she was working as a journalist.

This is the great thing about being brave enough to reveal what someone like Harris did to you. Suddenly everyone else who has had it happen to them, doesn’t feel quite so alone. It’s great that they now have someone they can share their stories with – of course would be greater if this had never happened. If a dozen have contacted Maggie Barry, how many scores more may be out there?

Former TVNZ makeup artist Lee Howden told RadioLIVE she was also sexually assaulted as she did his make-up for an on-air interview. She said she fled the room after he put his hand into her underwear.

While she never reported the incident, she was inspired to come forward after hearing Ms Barry’s account and was prepared to make an official police complaint.

Good.

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About time Air NZ

July 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Air NZ reports:

Air New Zealand customers will be some of the first in the Asia Pacific region to be able to use their handheld portable electronic devices in non-transmitting mode for the entire duration of their flights following approval from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

From 16 July the airline will allow the use of handheld portable electronic devices including tablets, smartphones, e-readers and mp3 players during all phases of flight provided the devices are in flight mode. Previously customers could not use their devices during the taxi, take-off and landing phases of flight.

Yay. No more having the Kindle off for almost half the flight.

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A racist future Maori King

July 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

10519509_758979100820303_2726230014395519294_n

You can see this and other photos on Sean Plunket’s page.

One News reported:

The Maori King’s son is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons again – now he’s facing criticism over offensive comments on his Facebook page.

Nineteen-year-old Karotangi Paki’s page contains racist comments towards Asians and variations of the Nazi slogan ‘Sieg Heil’ that has been adopted by the Mongrel Mob.

And this guy got let off his crimes, so it wouldn’t interfere with him becoming Maori King one day. His grandmother was a revered figure, loved by many. Her son is not of her calibre, and this guy is just a racist crim.

Time for Maoridom to become a republic, or at least change the succession.

UPDATE: Actually it turns out he is the younger son, and never seriously had a chance of succeeding anyway. His lawyer just spun a story to the court. His older brother, it seems it a much more decent person:

But a source close to the family said Mr Paki had always been a mischievous child and had never been expected to take over from his father.

The source said King Tuheitia’s eldest son, Whatumoana Paki, had been groomed from a very young age to one day rule.

“Whatu was brought up to be the successor to his father and was also raised by a lot of old people in Tainui. Whereas Korotangi was the spare — and he was never expected to do anything. I think Whatu would be an ideal successor because he is a hell of a nice kid.”

Good to hear the older brother is not of the same ilk.

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Privileged treatment

July 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Maori King’s son has succeeded in his bid to avoid drink-driving and theft convictions after his lawyer argued it was likely to bar his succession to the throne.

Korotangi Paki, 19, appeared in the Auckland District Court this afternoon charged with drink driving, two counts of burglary and one of theft.

Judge Philippa Cunningham discharged Paki without conviction on all charges but imposed a special condition that he provide the court evidence he did not have an alcohol problem or if he did, that he had addressed it with counselling. …

The burglaries and theft happened in March while he was on bail and the judge noted it had also occurred after a night of drinking.

So he was already on bail, and kept on offending.

The trio was ordered to each pay prosecution costs of $400 and were discharged without conviction.

Paki also applied for a discharge without conviction today.

His lawyer Paul Wicks QC told the court a conviction would impede his ability to accede to the throne.

Potential successors had to have an unblemished record because of the custodial responsibilities involved as King.

“The chiefs around the country are often heard to say [heirs to the throne] have to be ‘whiter than the dove’,” Wicks said.

Well he isn’t, regardless of the discharge.

I don’t care that he is the son of the Maori King. If he was the son of the English King, and got off on the same basis, I’d be equally disapproving.

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Fighting domestic violence

July 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Government has announced to combat domestic violence. They include:

  • Establishing a Chief Victims Advisor to the Minister of Justice to advise on the needs and views of victims of crime, including domestic violence victims.
  • Testing an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death. 
  • Establishing a nationwide home safety service to help victims who want to leave a violent relationship. The service will offer practical support such as safety planning, strengthening doors and windows and installing alarms.
  • Reviewing the Domestic Violence Act 1995 to ensure it keeps victims safe and holds offenders to account.
  • Exploring the possibility of a conviction disclosure scheme, which may allow a person to be told whether their partner has a history of violence.
  • Trialling mobile safety alarms with GPS technology for victims, so they can notify Police of an emergency, and their location.
  • Introduce legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed upon them.

I think the last one especially could make a real difference. What I would do is allow the person who has a protection order to be alerted (and the Police also) if a convicted offender who has a protection order gets within x hundred metres of their house.

The Government will also explore whether prosecutors should be able to invite the judge or jury to draw an adverse inference when a defendant refuses to give evidence in sexual violence cases. Current law only allows the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer or the Judge to comment on a defendant’s failure to give evidence.

I’m not in favour of having a different standard of rights for some criminal cases.

To remind us of how real domestic violence can be, former National MP Jackie Blue writes of her experiences:

Dr Blue’s experience began 31 years ago, when she was 27. She had just graduated and was working as a locum in Auckland surgeries.

She had had to repeat two years of her medical degree, partly because she had taken up bridge and was busy playing in tournaments.

“I felt I was the dumbest doctor in New Zealand,” she said. “I had low self-esteem, and I was probably overweight too, and I didn’t think I was attractive.”

She met a small business owner, nine years older, who “totally charmed me”.

“He made me feel quite special, put me on a pedestal,” she said. “I had never really had a long-term boyfriend at that stage. He was my boyfriend and I could say that, and he was reasonably presentable and reasonably sociable to the outside world, so you know, it was a good match.”

He gave her jewellery and other gifts. He moved into her home and gave her a blue sapphire engagement ring.

But his business was struggling.

“If anything, I supported him,” Dr Blue said. “I paid the groceries and things like that. He didn’t pay any rent.”

He took bridge lessons, but he didn’t like it and he made her stop playing too.

That is probably the first warning sign. It is very common for abusers to try and control their partner’s lifes, and only have them do activities they are involved with. Their aim is to make them dependent on you. People should bail out at this early stage, if their partner is controlling like that.

“So I moved away from the bridge circle of friends that I had,” she said. “His friends became my friends.”

Another classic sign, sadly.

After a few months they visited Napier to stay with Dr Blue’s sister and her husband, a doctor. “They had one of those really big old homes,” Dr Blue said. “They had a lot of antique furniture, really nice stuff, so the place looked really opulent.

“We were in bed on one of those evenings and I was talking, and he just bashed me on the side of the head for no reason. He clearly felt really threatened by the surroundings.”

It’s very sad what happened to Jackie (and many others). I also feel a bit sad for the guy that he is so threatened by success, that he resorts to violence to cover up his own inadequacies.

He started putting her down with comments like: “You’re fat and ugly and you’ll never have children.” 

This is also a very sad and common warning sign. Their aim is to make you feel you’ll never get anyone else, and so will tolerate them bashing you.

The breaking point was a barbecue where people asked Dr Blue about her job. “They were just asking about the work I did and they were quite interested, interested in me,” she said.

“On the way home we were driving into the carport, he picked a fight, I was driving, and he just bashed me on the side of my face quite a few times.

“I walked in and told him to clear out, bugger off. I phoned the police.”

He left. Police came promptly, but she decided not to lay charges. “I just wanted the whole thing finished.”

He tried to revive it, ringing her and sending flowers to the Herne Bay surgery where she had become a partner. But he got nowhere and eventually moved to Australia.

Just weeks after the relationship ended, Dr Blue met the man who is now her husband. 

A happy ending for Jackie, but many others end in death.

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NZ 5th for contributing most good to the world

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

Business Insider reports:

The Good Country Index ranks 125 nations based on how much they do for others globally in seven areas: science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, planet and climate, prosperity and equality, and health and well being.

The ranking was created with the merging of 35 data sets produced by organisations like the UN, WHO, and UNESCO over a period of nearly 3-years.

“What I mean by a ‘good country’ is a country that contributes to the greater good,” Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor who made the index, told Business Insider. “We’ve given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.”

The top 10 are:

  1. Ireland
  2. Finland
  3. Switzerland
  4. Netherlands
  5. New Zealand
  6. Sweden
  7. UK
  8. Norway
  9. Denmark
  10. Belgium

5th isn’t at all bad.

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Vincent’s statement

July 2nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Have to give full marks to Lou Vincent for his statement:

My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat.

I have abused my position as a professional sportsman on a number of occasions by choosing to accept money through fixing.

I have lived with this dark secret for many years, but just months ago I reached the point where I decided I had to come forward and tell the truth.

It’s a truth that has rightly caused uproar and controversy in New Zealand and around the world.

I have shamed my country. I have shamed my sport. I have shamed those close to me. For that I am not proud.

I lost faith in myself and the game. I abused the game I love. I had to put things right.
Speaking out. Exposing the truth. Laying bare the things I have done wrong is the only way I can find to begin to put things right.

The time has come for me to now face them like a man and accept the consequences, whatever they may be. …

Today is the day I offer my deepest apologies to the public and the cricketing world, to the loyal fans, to the dedicated coaches, staff and all players past and present. …

It is entirely my fault that I will never be able to stand in front of a game again. It is entirely my fault that I will not be able to apply my skills in a positive way to help future cricketers.

But it is entirely possible that I can use this moment to convince others not to be tempted by wrongdoing. To do the right thing for themselves, for their families and friends, and for the sport they love.

I accept my punishment and I thank you for [reading] my statement.

He has been banned for life. Hopefully that sends out a signal.

Will others own up to their part?

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Drury says NZ needs a CTO

July 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Barack Obama has one. So do many large companies. The chief technology officer’s role, for the US at least, is to apply technology to help create jobs, reduce the cost of health care, help keep the nation secure and increase access to broadband.

New Zealand is the farthest country from its trading partners in the world. As a small, sub-scale, island nation we have the most of any country to gain by technology.

Our Government has done a great job with fiscal management and has achieved some useful incremental tweaks, but we haven’t as a country played a bold move with technology. We lack a technology plan.

In the last term, we went through the traumatic restructure of our telecommunications industry, and during the past three years the focus has been the implementation of the domestic ultrafast broadband network – a key part of improving the internet.

Over this timeframe, technology has seen entire industries disrupted, and new organisations like Xero, Vend and others become world-leading cloud companies, all from our small set of rocks in the South Pacific.

But as a country, we’ve been far too passive about using technology to redefine our place in the world. …

I believe the answer is to appoint a chief technology officer of New Zealand. Similar to the chief science officer, Peter Gluckman, but in the technology arena. A respected senior, international, technology leader at a point in their career where they want to give back.

That person can identify and determine the big issues of the day, own a New Zealand technology strategy and be the interface between the private sector and the Government.

They would be able to co-ordinate and encourage the investments that global technology companies will make in New Zealand.

Like Gluckman, a chief technology officer would have the ear of the Prime Minister and report regularly to the Cabinet. They would provide the interface point for industry to connect to the Government and provide the opportunity for a bold vision to be determined and implemented. 

Not a bad idea I must say.

Rod also has a radical idea for the IRD:

Inland Revenue has responded guardedly to a call from Xero founder Rod Drury for it to use a “public-private partnership” to replace its computer systems.

Spokeswoman Lorna Milton said considerations included taxpayers’ privacy and the “integrity of the tax system”.

The department warned in 2012 that it might cost up to $1.5 billion to replace its ageing mainframe-based First computer system.

Drury said Inland Revenue could save “hundreds of millions” if it just published the tax rules, maintained a computer that could collect tax payments, and left the rest to private-sector businesses such as Xero.

That would not mean everyone would need to pay to use Xero’s cloud-based service, or those of its rivals, he said.

Instead, Xero and other software companies could offer a free service that would let taxpayers key in any information needed for tax returns into online forms and would process that for no charge as part of a broader, non-exclusive partnership, he said.

“The private sector could do the ‘heavy lifting’. Inland Revenue doesn’t really need to build all the complex rules any more; all they need to do is be a transaction system that receives money and publishes the rules and the private sector is more than happy to invest in building the online returns.”

IRD has some issues with the idea:

Milton said Inland Revenue saw opportunities to integrate Inland Revenue’s systems with third-party software applications “to allow tax agents and software providers to carry out some services that Inland Revenue currently provides”.

But she said there were several factors to consider, “particularly taxpayers’ privacy and security, the accuracy of information, maintaining the integrity of the tax system and how our core systems interact with third parties”.

I hope it is given serious consideration.

 

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Driving tests for tourists will never happen

July 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse says he will not rule out making tourists sit a driving test before letting them get behind the wheel on New Zealand roads.

But for now, road safety authorities will focus on improving driving in the Queenstown region, where the rate of crashes involving foreign drivers is disproportionately high.

Speaking at the National Party annual conference in Wellington yesterday, Mr Woodhouse said stricter measures for overseas visitors such as making them sit a test before hiring a rental car were being considered.

The minister was responding to a 31,000-signature petition presented to him last week by 10-year-old Sean Roberts, from Geraldine.

Sean proposed driving tests for foreigners after his father was killed by a visiting student motorist when he was riding a motorbike on the Lindis Pass, near Wanaka, in 2012.

Driving tests for tourists will never happen. I know of no country on earth that does this. It would kill a lot of tourism dead. Who would come to a country where there is a risk you might be not allowed to drive?

What I would support is testing New Zealanders more than once in forty years. Just because you passed a test at 16 does not mean at 30 you still remember it all.

I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years.

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The benefits of booze

July 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Matt Heath writes in the NZ Herald:

A terrible injustice has befallen commercial radio. A change in the law has stopped us giving away alcohol on air.

Campaigners have convinced the Government that a sniff of free booze will instantly turn Kiwis into alcoholics and criminals. I’m not so sure.

Like most Kiwis I enjoy a drink. In fact, I love a drink. I’m having a beer as I write this. But I am not an alcoholic and I don’t have a drinking problem. My drinking is more like a hobby. Sadly, like all pastimes, work and family commitments keep me away from it. …

Anti-alcohol campaigners turn a blind eye to the good booze does in the community. You only have to go to a restaurant to hear the happiness it brings. People laughing and enjoying each other’s company. You can’t put these good people in the same boat as a bastard who beats his family.

Indeed they do often overlook the immense enjoyment most adults get from alcohol.

Campaigners use the terribly behaved to beat up on the slightly naughty. They use the sick to hassle the healthy; their bad experiences to limit the good experiences of others. If the alcohol debate was a weather report then light breezes would be the same as hurricanes, spring showers would become weather bombs and Jim Hickey would lose his job.

The reality is there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting sauced. No crime in catching a taxi home because you’ve had too many. Nearly every newsreader, reporter, politician and police officer has.

There is no shame in drinking, dancing, singing and enjoying the company of other humans.

Sure you could do all those things without alcohol. But thankfully we live in a country where we don’t have to.

Well not yet, but the wowsers are doing their best.

The only thing I would change is to have an app on your smartphone that won’t allow you to text or call people if your breath alcohol is over a certain level. That would have saved me a lot of grief in the last month!

But what of the social cost? Domestic violence, drunk drivers, burglary, assault, couch burning and firetrucking. I’m not doing any of those things. I bet you aren’t either.

I might slur “you’re my best mate” and turn the music up till it distorts. But I never stab people or rob their houses. Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem not a booze problem.

Let’s celebrate the good alcohol does in the community. The new guy who becomes fast friends over work drinks. The shy couple who gain the courage to talk to each other for the first time. The diplomats who seal a deal for the country at the bar after a conference. The victorious sports team singing the national anthem after everyone has gone home.

Celebrating booze – I love it.

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Kapiti Island gets cheaper

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

Nick Smith has announced:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced a reduction to Kapiti Island permit fees to come into effect from tomorrow.

“Kapiti Island is an iconic landmark which deserves to be enjoyed by as many New Zealanders as possible. DOC will drop the permit fee for adults from $28.75 to $10.00 and waive the fee for all children aged 17 and under from tomorrow,” Dr Smith says.

The change, announced by the Minister this evening in Paraparaumu, follows an independent review of Kapiti Island visitor management which was undertaken at the end of the 2013/14 summer season. DOC commissioned the review to address the steady decline in the number of visitors to Kapiti Island in recent years.

“It was particularly concerning to see that only 402 people visited the island in January this year, compared with 1569 in January last year. The Kapiti Island tour operators have raised concerns about ongoing declines in visitor numbers following changes in how visits are run and increases in DOC’s permit fees. These fee changes will cost DOC $59,850 per year.

“The Kapiti Island tour operators and Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy have raised concerns that the fee structure was causing a decline in the number of visitors. DOC does not believe this is the only factor contributing to the declining numbers in that the trend precedes the fee changes, and that the operators and DOC also need to up the marketing effort for the island experience.

“There is a real lesson for DOC as there has been for Zealandia in Wellington that there is significant price sensitivity to these sorts of sanctuary experiences. The reason I have backed the fee reduction is that I want as many people as possible to enjoy and experience the unique birdlife that defines New Zealand but which is so rare on the mainland.

It was costing $300 for a family of four to visit the island. They had priced themselves out of the market.

“The decision to waive the fee for children aged 17 and under is because I particularly want DOC to connect with young people. We need to educate our young people of the vulnerability of our native birds and the work DOC does to ensure their future survival.

A great way to get kids over there to appreciate it.

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The old TV3 team

July 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

tv3

Tweeted by Russel Norman who saw it at TV3′s Wellington studio.

Three things strike me about this.

  1. Sean Plunket’s hair!
  2. John Campbell has not aged in 20 years. He is obviously genetically modified
  3. Memories of my life-long crush on Anita McNaught
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Wellington trolleys to go

June 30th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It’s a familiar commuter nightmare for Wellingtonians: your trolley bus becomes detached from its overhead line, and you and everyone in the buses behind you are stuck while the driver gets out and hooks it up again. All that is about to end with the demise of the trolleys in 2017 – but not everyone is happy about the decision to scrap them.

They are expected to be almost five minutes faster during your morning commute and 10 minutes quicker when the roads have cleared at night.

They should leave you breathing air that is almost 40 per cent cleaner in just three short years, and be comfortable, modern, reliable and less of a drain on your pocket as a ratepayer.

They are hybrid diesel-electric buses – and after a near-unanimous vote by Greater Wellington Regional Council on Thursday, they are now the future of public transport in Wellington.

Like most Wellingtonians I have an emotional attachment to the trolleys, but the decision is a sensible one.

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Why not name the country?

June 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A diplomat accused of a sex crime was ordered out of New Zealand after invoking diplomatic immunity.

Despite attempts by the New Zealand government to haul the man before the courts, his home country refused to waive his immunity.

Under the Vienna Convention, diplomats cannot be arrested or detained in foreign countries.

The man, who was employed at a high commission in Wellington, was arrested by police after an attack on a 21-year-old in her Wellington home last month. He had followed the woman home.

Police told the Herald on Sunday they had sufficient evidence to charge him with assault with intent to rape, but had let him go as he was not able to be prosecuted under New Zealand law. He had also been charged with burglary.

It is understood the man — who was aged in his 30s and had interim name suppression — refused to give a DNA sample.

He had full diplomatic immunity, and left New Zealand.

As he will not be facing trial, surely the name suppression should now lapse.

And is there a reason the country he represents can not be named? It is a high commission, so that narrows it down to the Commonwealth.

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How does a Council lose a few dozen cars?

June 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An investigation into irregularities within the Dunedin City Council’s Citifleet and Citipark departments is examining the disappearance of dozens of council vehicles, it has been confirmed.

The Otago Daily Times has learnt the probe was looking into claims a significant number of vehicles – possibly approaching 100 – had been sold, and some of the proceeds pocketed, over the past decade.

The council was said to have 205 vehicles, together worth about $1.9 million, in 2011, but there is confusion about how many were sold, and how many replaced, since as far back as 2001, the ODT understands.

The council was understood to have found a sizeable discrepancy between the number of vehicles bought and sold, and the number still owned by the organisation, after examining its records earlier this year.

This should not be able to occur. Checking assets against the fixed asset schedule should be part of the annual audit. There is a serious problem with their controls, if they can lose perhaps a few dozen cars and not notice!

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Is this a candidate for life without parole?

June 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A 39-year-old man has been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a Hawkes Bay sickness beneficiary.

Steven Tiwini Rakuraku faced 11 charges, including the murder of the 50-year-old Johnny Charles Wright, who disappeared on June 21, 2011. …

A reader suggests that Rakuraku is a candidate for life without parole – a sentencing option available since 2010. He notes:

  • Victim was effectively imprisoned in his own home.

  • Victim was effectively tortured over a period of weeks, if not months, buy repeated beatings, including with a weapon of war (Taiaha).  This was not a one-time, sudden loss of control murder, it was premeditated and repeated, brutal and callous in the extreme.

  • I understand the offender has a serious history of offending prior to this case.

The question has to be that if a crime like this doesn’t qualify for LWOP, what would qualify?

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US economy shrinks 2.9%

June 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

The U.S. economy turned in its worst quarter in five years during the first three months of 2014, shrinking more sharply than previously estimated.

The nation’s gross domestic product in the first quarter fell at a 2.9% annual rate vs. the 1% contraction previously believed, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a 1.8% drop in output.

The decline was the sharpest since growth tumbled 5.4% in the first quarter of 2009 during the Great Recession. The last time the economy shrank was in the first quarter of 2011, slipping 1.3%.

The more dramatic drop was largely the result of weaker household consumption. Consumer spending increased just 1%, vs. the 3.1% gain previously estimated as health care spending dipped slightly. The government previously said that medical expenditures contributed substantially to growth as the Affordable Care Act began to cover more Americans.

Also, exports declined 8.9%, vs. the 6% drop previously estimated. And businesses replenished their stocks even more slowly than believed after aggressively adding to inventories late last year.

Quite a contrast to the NZ economy, as we have exports booming, and a strongly growing economy. Once upon a time the US economy contracting would seriously damage NZ’s economic growth also. But we’re less tied than we used to be.

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Yay – no further taxpayer funding for America’s Cup this year

June 25th, 2014 at 4:20 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Team New Zealand has released a statement this afternoon confirming it will challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.

Chairman Keith Turner said the team had secured sufficient private funding and sponsorship to be able to commit to a challenge without having to ask for Government funding.

Excellent, Go Team New Zealand. But I still think the rules are rigged even more than normal, so it will be hard. I’m not convinced the taxpayer should invest next year either, but worth looking at the economic case.

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Protecting victims

June 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Victims of serious violent and sexual offences can now have a “non-contact order” placed on their attackers.

The new legislation is the latest in a raft of reforms to the way in which the justice system treats victims of violent crime.

The non-contact order may be applied to offenders who have been sentenced to more than two years in prison for a violent or sexual offence.

It prohibits the offender from contacting the victim in any way, including electronically. In some cases, offenders can be banned from entering, living, or working in a particular area.

Victims must apply to a court for the non-contact order after the offender has been sentenced. The order can also cover an offender’s associates.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the new measures would help victims move on with greater piece of mind.

A lot of victims live in fear once their offender is released from prison. while these orders do not guarantee offenders will obey them, they should help in most of the cases.

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