Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

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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Labour schools policy

July 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s 21st century schools policy is here. The summary:

  • put in place a programme that provides an affordable option, available to all schools, for Year 5-13 students to have access to a portable digital device, in the classroom and at home.
  • commit $25 million to provide teachers with professional development during the 2016 and 2017 school years to assist them to make the most effective use of digital devices in the classroom.
  • partner with schools, local government and communities to put in place infrastructure that will allow students, particularly those from low-decile schools, who do not currently have internet connections to use their portable devices to access the internet at home.
  • develop a comprehensive plan for rebuilding out-dated and worn-out school buildings, so that every school has access to modern learning environments by 2030.

This looks a very sound policy. It is very much in line with the unanimous recommendations of the Education and Science Select Committee inquiry into 21st century schools, that was chaired by Nikki Kaye a couple of years ago.

Nikki points out that most of this policy is already underway:

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says Labour has clearly not done its homework in the education area and is promoting “new ideas” that have already been put in place by National.

“Most of what Labour has announced today is already being delivered by the Government through its 21st century schools programme. We have a massive build plan underway to modernise school facilities, upgrade school broadband networks and partner with communities to provide digital hubs through those networks. Our Ultrafast broadband and rural broadband initiatives are delivering fibre broadband with uncapped data to nearly every school in New Zealand.

“Labour’s announcements today prove they have no idea what is already going on.”

Labour want to put money into professional learning development for ICT over the next few years. National has already invested $35 million in Professional Learning and Development, specifically targeted at learning with digital technologies.

Labour want to build an unspecified number of new schools and classrooms by 2030. Under the National government, hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent building new classrooms and upgrading older schools with the help of the Future Investment Fund, which Labour opposes. National has opened 12 new schools in the past three years in areas of growth.

And Labour wants to enable students to access the internet at home. Last year, National announced a change in policy to enable schools to extend their school internet to the surrounding area so students and families can access the internet from home.

It’s not a bad thing that National and Labour are broadly in agreement on steps to modernise our schools to take best account of the opportunities for  learning.

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We need better teachers, not more teachers

July 6th, 2014 at 2:43 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour will fund an extra 2000 teachers under its policy to reduce primary class sizes to 26 students by 2016 and secondary schools to an average of 23 by 2018 – a step expected to cost $350 million over the next three years.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has announced the policy at Labour’s Congress alongside a suite of associated education policies.

It will pay by scrapping National’s $359 million ‘Investing in Educational Success’ scheme, under which the best teachers and principals are paid more and used to help work with other teachers and schools.

This is a bad and disapponting policy, that flies in the face of reams and reams of international and national evidence.

Hundreds of studies have concluded that the quality of a teacher is the biggest influence on a child’s learning. The same studies have also concluded that the impact of class size is quite minor in comparison.

Labour’s policy is about politics, not education. Again there are hundreds of studies that confirm teacher quality is far more important than class size. There are meta-studies of meta-studies. This is not an issue there is serious dispute over.

Basically Labour has gone for quantity over quality, It’s one of their worst policies. Some of their stuff on 21st century schools is very good, but this aspect is basically appalling. Not the reducing class sizes in itself – but choosing to do that rather than fund an initiative to have great teachers share their success with other teachers.

Here’s what global expert John Hattie said on Q+A on this issue in 2012:

Well, we’ve certainly done many many studies looking at the effects when we reduce class sizes, certainly by the one or two that were suggested in New Zealand, and it’s very very hard to find that they make that much of a difference. The major question is why is it that a seemingly obvious thing that should make a difference doesn’t make a difference, and that’s what’s beguiled a lot of people over the last many decades. I think we have some good answers for that, but the bottom line is it hardly makes a difference.

SHANE Why is that?

PROF HATTIE Well, I think the major argument seems to be when you have teachers in class sizes, like, of 26, 27, 30 and you put them in the class sizes of, say, 18 to 23, and they don’t change what they do, that seems to be the reason why it doesn’t make a difference. So could it make a difference? Yeah, it probably could if we changed how we went about our teaching. But that doesn’t seem to happen. When the many many thousands, tens of thousands of teachers have gone from one size to another, they don’t change how they teach. So, no, that’s why it doesn’t make much of a difference.

A presentation by Professor Hattie here, find’s class size is ranked only the 106th most powerful influence on learning.  That’s 106th out of 130. Labour are putting  Now this is not his personal view. This is a summary of 50,000 individual studies and 800+ meta-studies.

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Cunliffe on the Dotcom Party

July 6th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

From the interview on The Nation:

If Internet-Mana get there and you need their numbers will you use them to form a government or will you rule them out?

We’re not doing any pre-election deals with anybody.

I’m talking about a post-election deal. Will you work them in government? Voters want to know.

I’ve been quite frank with we will have our door and phone line open to whoever wants to change the government. I’ve ruled out the Conservatives, I’ve ruled out the Act party, I’m not ruling out talking to anyone else but frankly I’d be surprised to see anybody, perhaps other than the Greens and NZ First around the cabinet table.

You’re not ruling it out thought, you’re not ruling out Internet-Mana because I want to pick up on this, Phil Goff, one of your senior MPs, says that Internet-Mana deal is a rort and Dotcom is buying influence. Chris Hipkins calls them unprincipled sell-outs. These are your MPs. David Shearer says Internet-Mana is going to end badly. Stuart Nash calls him a discredited German. Yet you won’t rule out

I’m not here to defend Kim Dotcom or Internet-Mana. What I am here to do is to campaign for the Labour vote and to change the government.

It is very clear that Cunliffe is not willing to rule out Cabinet posts to the Dotcom Party, despite the views of his colleagues.

Now does that mean that Laila Harre and Hone Harawira could be ministers in a Labour led government or will you rule that out?

No, it does not.

Will you rule that out?

I think that’s extremely unlikely.

Extremely unlikely they’ll be ministers?

Extremely unlikely.

If anyone thinks Hone Harawira will happily sit on the backbenches, they don’t know him very well. He will demand to be Maori Affairs Minister, at a minimum.

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NZ Herald on West Coast logging

July 6th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Government ensured some good will come from nature’s devastation when, under urgency, it passed the West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Act. This was necessary because the Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in such a circumstance. Notably, Labour’s West Coast MP Damien O’Connor and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirakatene supported the legislation, going against their party’s stand.

They could not convince other Labour MPs that the interests of the West Coast should take precedence over support for the position taken by the Greens.

The policy differences between Greens and Labour shrink by the day as Labour moves left.

Their stand was right. Conservationists have some qualms about the logging of the high-value trees, especially in terms of the removal of vital nutrients from the forest ecosystem. But it is surely possible to take logs without seriously disturbing the biomass. Indeed, removing some of the trees will probably aid regeneration. Additionally, the legislation contains enough safeguards to suggest appropriate care will be taken.

It’s a win-win. Helps the forest regenerate, and creates jobs.

Cyclone Ita felled an estimated 20,000ha of forest and caused significant damage to a further 200,000ha. In all probability, only a small part of that will be removed. Nonetheless, hundreds of jobs will be created both in the logging and the processing of the timber. That, and the safeguards, mean the public good associated with exploitation far outweighs any concerns about the impact of the logging.

Nor is the protection of native forest being compromised. That Labour and the Greens declined to see as much suggested they were concerned about more than just the felled timber. Several references to the conservation battles that culminated in a halt to the logging of these forests confirmed as much. Probably, they worried that the exploitation of the timber without dire consequence being the cue for the resumption of selective logging.

There is no suggestion of that. Felled timber is being removed from low-grade conservation land for a limited period. Nothing more. This is surely a practical response to an event dictated by nature, and one that benefits one of the country’s least prosperous regions.

It is a practical response. Very sad that Labour joined the Greens in opposing what is pretty common sense.

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Test kids when they enter school

July 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Children whose knowledge isn’t up to scratch when they start school should be tested so the funding they require can be measured, a new report on child poverty says.

Children in poverty “do not leave their daily life circumstances at the school gate”, says John O’Neill, author of the latest report from independent charity The Child Poverty Action Group.

I agree. But considering the primary teachers union is against even national standards, I can’t imagine they’d ever go along with testing all five year olds. But I say it is essential you do know their capacity when they start school.

Teachers could already identify students with learning problems – the challenge was getting the funding to help fix it, Post Primary Teachers’ Association president Angela Roberts said.

“The thing we like about decile funding is that it acknowledges some schools require greater resources than others.”

But taking a step back and reassessing how much it cost to educate a child and then adding in all their other needs would be a better funding system, she said. “Funding is about the needs of a kid, not the location of a school.”

I agree. The decile system is a blunt tool. It would be preferable to individually assess each pupil, and have funding dependent on what their needs are.

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June public polls

July 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

junepolls

Look at that trend!

The summary of the monthly polling newsletter is:

There were a whopping seven political polls in June – three Roy Morgans, a One News Colmar Brunton, a 3 News Reid Research, a Herald DigiPoll and a Fairfax Ipsos.

The average of the public polls has National 23% ahead of Labour in June, up 5% from May and up 9% April. The current seat projection is centre-right 67 seats, centre-left 53 which would see a centre-right Government.

In Australia Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s approval ratings fall from +6% to -11%, but despite this Labour increases their two party preferred lead to 10%.

In the United States the country direction gets more negative and President Obama’s approval ratings fall in all three major policy areas. 

In the UK Labour has a narrow 4% lead over the Conservatives but Ed Miliband continues to have awful approval ratings, dropping to -45%. Scottish independence polls show the no vote ahead by 3% to 19% with an average 12% gap.

In Canada the Conservatives are now projected to win more seats than the Liberals, despite being behind in the polls.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. A new third table has been added, comparing approval ratings for opposition leaders in the four countries that have one.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on coalitions, Team NZ, Maui’s Dolphins, most important issues, MMP, tax cuts, National’s leadership, the Mana/Internet alliance, political fundraising, capital gains tax, cannabis and immigration, plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to http://listserver.actrix.co.nz/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/polling-newsletter to subscribe yourself.

 

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Why stop at a four day week – let’s go for one day

July 5th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A four-day working week promoted by one of Britain’s top doctors is a “radical” concept worthy of debate, considering the importance of a healthy work-life balance, a Canterbury health leader says.

A business leader in the region, however, says the idea is “nonsense” and imposing a rigid standard would be a backwards step.

Professor John Ashton, the president of the United Kingdom Faculty of Public Health, told British media this week that “a mal-distribution of work” was damaging people’s health.

Ashton called for Britain to phase out the five-day week, saying it would help combat high levels of work-related stress and illness.

Too many people were working “crazy” hours and a significant number of people were not working at all, he said.

“We need a four-day week so that people can enjoy their lives, have more time with their families and maybe reduce [workers’] high blood pressure.”

Why stop at four days? Think how much better off we’d be if we only worked three days a week? Or two days? Why not one day a week?

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey, of the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), said it was “a challenging and thought-provoking idea” worthy of debate.

No its’ not.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said it was “nonsense” to suggest a four-day working week would solve everyone’s problems.

“I get a bit tired of people who just put straight lines in the sand. That is not how the world works these days. You deal with things on an individual basis. If someone in your workplace is [showing] signs of stress you deal with it,” he said.

“A young couple that might be paying off a mortgage with no kids might want to work 60 hours a week. It is all about being accommodating and flexible.”

Exactly. the idea of a law that sets a maximum working week for everyone is socialist nonsense.

Auckland manufacturing company Manson Marine & Engineering allows its staff to opt for four-day weeks once a month. Staff work 10-hour days that week and earn an extra 12 days off a year as a result.

That’s a great example of flexibility – at an individual company level.

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Key on euthanasia

July 5th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has signalled possible loosening of euthanasia laws, saying he would sympathise with “speeding up of the process” of death for a terminally ill patient.

He told Family First director Bob McCoskrie in a public interview at a forum in Auckland yesterday that euthanasia would be “a legitimate thing” to speed up death for a terminally ill patient who was in pain.

But he said he would not vote for a bill proposed by Labour MP Maryan Street that would allow any adult suffering from a condition likely to cause their death within 12 months to request medical assistance to die.

“If it’s the same bill, I’ll oppose it because I think the way that bill was structured is not good law,” he said. “In the world that I live in, in my head, it’s a conscience issue. So when someone says to me ‘euthanasia’ I think of the person that is terminally ill, that is going to die, and in a tremendous amount of times and in my world, euthanasia is a legitimate thing in that situation.”

I agree.

He said modern medical practice was to give terminally ill patients pain relief and allow the natural process of death to occur.

“The palliative care would not do anything to prolong their life or to shorten their life. What I would say is in that scenario I … could understand the speeding up of the process,” he said. “The bill goes a lot further than that. In the situation where grandma is 92 [and people just want her to go], that’s not acceptable.”

I’m not sure the Street bill does do that. Regardless I would hope it would be sent to select committee, so NZers can have their say on the issue, and the bill can be given as many safeguards as possible.

Labour leader David Cunliffe declined to comment on the issue yesterday and Ms Street did not return calls.

This is one reason people like John Key – he will give his personal opinion on an issue – even if to an audience where almost everyone disagrees with him.

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Hosking and Watkins on Labour

July 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Mike Hosking writes:

I bet Labour wishes it wasn’t election year.

Or if it has to be election year, I bet Labour wishes it was January again and they could start all over.

Labour’s in a mess.

They look in no shape at all to compete, far less win an election.

Up until about now I’ve been running the line that’s generally run in election year when it comes to polls and predictions.

The line is that, “there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge”, the line is, “a week is a long time in politics”, the line is, “the polls will tighten”.

Well as we sit here now this morning I feel less and less of that is true.

It looks increasingly possible that a lot of what appears might happen, actually will happen, even though it’s July and the vote’s in September.

One of the things I think will happen is that Labour won’t break 30 per cent and quite possibly will do worse than that.

And Hosking says they are mainly responsible:

But as much as they will hate hearing this, much of their problem is of their own making. The trick at least in part to political success is giving people what they want. And quotas on lists, more tax, stopping people cutting up trees that are blown over, isn’t it.

And that’s before we get to Trevor Mallard and his moa. How inexplicable is that? No one of that experience raises something that nutty, this close to a poll, in a party with this much trouble, without knowing what they’re doing. And what he’s doing is taking the piss. I could’ve seen past it if Trevor closed it down, said nothing, apologised, put it down to a mad moment.

But he took my Seven Sharp colleague Jehan Casinader into the bush, and talked about what sized moa he would like to see, and what sort of noise they’d make. He looked like someone who’d been let out on day release.

Tracy Watkins also touches on the moa:

Labour needed Trevor Mallard this week like it needed a hole in the head.

Mallard’s blurt about bringing Moa back from the dead was a gift to National who gloried in the treasure trove of one-liners about dinosaurs and extinction.

Ironically, Mallard’s grand Moa plan coincided with a morning tea shout to mark him and Annette King celebrating three decades in Parliament.

Even Mallard’s Labour colleagues couldn’t resist the Jurassic Park comparisons.

Bizarrely, there was also a school of thought that Mallard might actually be a genius because people were finally talking about Labour.

That must surely be the definition of clutching at straws, but it is symptomatic of the trough Labour has found itself in that generating any sort of chatter round the water cooler – even when it invites ridicule – is an improvement.

I encourage Trevor to keep it up!

Labour certainly can’t be blamed for going into the election without a plan to put to voters.

Its economic strategy is far-reaching, including a capital gains tax to smooth out the peaks and troughs in housing, monetary policy reform to address currency pressures, raising the pension age to address the long-term sustainability of government finances, and compulsory KiwiSaver to mimic Australia’s hugely successful scheme.

The policy has been deliberately crafted to show that Labour is capable of making some tough choices and to underscore its fiscal credentials.

But National has done such a number on Labour’s economic credibility that many voters still don’t trust it with taxpayer money.

Labour doesn’t help itself when it tries to attack National as spendthrift for running up debt and deficits.

Given that the global financial crisis and Canterbury earthquakes are still fresh in everyone’s minds Labour ‘s attack lines just come across as sly and dishonest.

Their attacks on National for having six years of deficits are bizarre. Every single decision to restrain spending by National, was vigorously attacked by Labour – and then six years later they claim they would have got out of deficit faster. That’s why they have no credibility – they treat the public as idiots.

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Herald on Cunliffe

July 5th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

One of the good things the NZ Herald does every three years is an extensive background piece on the Leader of the Opposition, and hence potential next Prime Minister. These stories take months to compile, but they are very useful at painting a picture of the person who may be the country’s next leader.

Their lengthy piece on David Cunliffe is here. It’s very interesting, and I especially like the section on him and Karen.

I am of the view that most MPs are in politics for the right reasons – because they sincerely think they can make NZ a better place. Around 10% to 15% are ratbags. The rest, one may disagree with their views and policies – but they are well motivated. I include David Cunliffe in this category.

While iPredict says he has only a 16% chance of becoming Prime Minister, a lot can happen in 77 days.

Here’s an extract from the article:

He met Karen Price, a law and music student, in the first week of the university year. Within six months they were engaged, a year later they were married; the bride was 19, the groom 21. They met at the “Knox [hostel] Hop” during orientation week. Her friend and his roommate went as a date and they tagged along as chaperones.

“I thought he was pretty dishy,” says Price. “He was tall, countryboyish with a long blond afro and a washboard stomach. I thought he was very attractive.”

Cunliffe: “We became part of a peer group that all got to know each other. I think we ended up going out four or five months later. We had some classes together; we were in the legal systems tutorial of Mark Heneghan, Dean of Law now. I think it’s fair to say the other kids didn’t get a word in edge ways.”

Prof Heneghan noticed: “It was nice to see them moving closer to each other and the little glances back and forwards,” he recalled in a 2013 interview. “They were pretty keen on each other right from day one. They were the strongest arguers against each other.”

Cunliffe talks first about her smarts (and his) when asked what appealed. “She was an outstanding student, [there was] a huge intellectual connection, very much a match of equals.” Prompted, he adds: “A lot of attraction as well, dashing Scandinavian good-looks on her part.

Very cool.

In April, she attended his 20th birthday “as a guest, not an item”, and in April he proposed. When he decides something, he moves fast, she says.

That’s very fast. From dating to engagement in less than a month, but sounds like they had been moving towards each other for most of the year.

The Herald also has 10 things you may not know about him:

  1. He played Jesus in the school play.
  2. His “little” brother, Stephen, is 6’7″ and an expert on the Patagonian toothfish.
  3. He has a half-brother and three half-sisters.
  4. His great-grandfather married King Dick Seddon’s sister.
  5. He helped his half-brother, Bill, through a life crisis.
  6. He scared the pants off Michael Laws when they were at Uni together.
  7. He caught a salmon in memory of his father at the spot on the Rangitata River where he died of a heart attack.
  8. He was voted most likely to be a world leader by fellow scholarship students at Atlantic College in Wales.
  9. His father, a vicar, remarried eight months after the death of his first wife.
  10. The William Cunliffe who died in the Brunner mine disaster of 1896 may be a relative.

There’s a follow up next weekend focusing more on his life since becoming an MP.

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Labour’s official policy is you must prove you are not a rapist

July 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is a major policy by Labour, that has had very little attention. It is now Labour Party policy that you have to prove your innocence if accused of rape.

Andrew Little said on the 2nd of July:

“A better measure would be to hand control of all examination of a victim to the judge with lawyers for both sides notifying the court which issues they want dealt with, along with shifting the burden of proof on the issue of consent to the defence.

This means that if two people have sex, and one person accuses the other of rape, then the accused must prove beyond reasonable doubt they had consent.

Now you might think this is just Andrew Little musing aloud. Not so.  He confirms in this tweet it is official policy.

Graeme Edgeler sums their policy up:

Andrew Little says:

“This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty – the basic facts of the case still have to be made out – but it does mean the prosecution doesn’t need to prove a negative, namely that there was no consent.

This is sophistry. If the act of sex is not disputed, just consent, then the defendant does have to prove themselves innocent.

I wonder how many hours it will take until Labour does a u-turn on their policy, once people realise its implications.

Rape is a terrible crime, and the court process is very hard on many victims, and I am sure it can be improved. But reversing the presumption of innocence and burden of proof is not the answer.

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Cunliffe sorry for being a man

July 4th, 2014 at 5:53 pm by David Farrar

I don’t think you could make this up. The Herald reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe says he’s sorry that he’s a man because men commit most family violence.

He told a Women’s Refuge forum in Auckland today that Labour would put an extra $15 million a year into refuges and other groups supporting the victims of family violence. But he started his speech with an apology.

“Can I begin by saying I’m sorry,” he said.

“I don’t often say it. I’m sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.

I look forward to David Cunliffe also apologising on Waitangi Day for being a European, and apologising on World Poverty day for living in a leafy suburb and being rich …

Mr Key said he was not sorry for being a man, saying “It’s a pretty silly comment from David Cunliffe”.

“The problem isn’t being a man, the problem is if you’re an abusive man. I think it’s a bit insulting to imply that all men are abusive.

Indeed.

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Cunliffe being tricky with figures again

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

3 News reports:

“Would slippery John like to confirm why the education budget is 2.3 percent lower today when he took office?” rebuts Mr Cunliffe.

I thought this couldn’t be right, so I checked.

In 2008 Vote Education was $10.78 billion.

In 2014 Vote Education was $10.12 billion.

So maybe David Cunliffe is right. Has National cut education spending?

Nope.

A bit of detective work determines that in 2008, Vote Education includes tertiary education. In 2014, it is a separate vote. Very tricky, eh.

So what is Vote Education in 2014, if you include tertiary education, as was done in 2008.

That adds on $3.04 billion to make it $13.16 billion. That is not 2.3% lower. That’s 22.1% higher!!

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Hollywood wants DIA child porn filter extended to copyright

July 4th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

It has been revealed top Hollywood studios asked for access to a controversial government-run internet filter – so they could stop Kiwis accessing pirate and torrent websites.

RadioLIVE reported the Motion Pictures Distributors Association wanted access to the Internal Affairs child pornography filter, so they could block access to copyrighted material.

But they were knocked back by the Government and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne says that it is partly because internet service providers refused.

“They were not prepared to agree to that extension and in any case it would have shifted the mandate somewhat from DIA’s primary focus on preventing sexual abuse of young children.”

The child pornography filter is a voluntary one.

It is good to see the Government knocked the request back. If I want a filtered Internet, I’d live in China.

When the voluntary DIA filter was introduced, many of us were nervous that one day other groups would try to extend it beyond the narrow remit of child abuse images, and try to have it block all material that different groups want blocked. As it is voluntary, that can’t happen easily – ISPs would stop using it. But beware the day when a political party proposes making it mandatory.

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Herald on Labour’s school fees policy

July 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Most parents willingly pay the donation. Most school boards of trustees also go to great lengths to ensure that pupils are not discriminated against if their parents do not pay. They are also fully aware of the financial circumstances of the community from which they draw their pupils and, in the case of schools in poorer communities, gain an injection of equity from decile-based funding. A donation that represents just over $1 a week should be affordable to all but the most strapped household. On that basis, Labour’s policy may have rather less appeal than it hopes.

The fact that schools will still be allowed to charge activity fees “for the actual costs of extra-curricular activities such as school camps” adds to that likelihood. The danger is that many will accept the $100 per pupil, but then use other targeted fees to lift the payment from parents. Keeping track of this when it might involve a mountain of costs, such as van rentals for school teams or up-to-date technology, would be extremely difficult. If other fees become commonplace, little will have been gained for parents.

That is the worry – parents end up paying twice. They pay the $100 through their taxes, and still get stung for say $100 through activity fees and the like.

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Dom Post on MFAT

July 4th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Something is seriously wrong at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Diplomats must speak with one voice when dealing with foreign states. In the case of the alleged Malaysian sex offender, they did not. The official line was that the Government wanted Malaysia to waive Muhammad Rizalman’s diplomatic immunity. But informally the diplomats were apparently telling Malaysia the man could go home.

This is either wilful disobedience or extreme incompetence. It is hard to believe that any diplomat would knowingly subvert the Government’s expressed wishes and policy. Sacking would be the only possible punishment. But the incompetence is just as serious, and on the face of it should also lead to dismissal.

I don’t think you make employment decisions on the basis of editorials, and also you decide on the basis of someone’s overall job performance, not just one stuff up. However I do agree this is very serious.

One astonishing revelation is that the ministry’s chief executive, John Allen, did not know the key details about the Malaysian fiasco until last Friday. He says this was the result of the ministry’s policy of “compartmentalisation” of information. This policy has clearly gone too far if it means that an extremely serious situation is kept from the ministry’s own boss. “Compartmentalisation” on that scale is madness.

I agree. MFAT has a secrecy culture that goes to extremes, and in this case is madness.

There remains a suspicion, after all, that the present shambles has its roots in the disastrous restructuring of the ministry under McCully’s watch. That “redisorganisation” led to a revolt of the ministry’s most senior staff and then to an apparently botched witchhunt ordered by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie.

The whole project was misconceived and mismanaged, based as it was on the principle that the ministry could operate with far fewer experts. 

I argue quite the opposite. I think this shows why change was necessary. Some (not all) MFAT staff regard themselves as a law unto themselves. They think foreign policy is their exclusive preserve, and the wishes of the Government of the day has little to do with how they do their jobs. Yes Minister struck close to the truth here.

I suspect this is why John Allen wasn’t informed. He may be the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, but’s he not a life-ling diplomat – so he wasn’t told.

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Sounds like a good Labour policy

July 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour is planning two major education announcements, expected to include a plan to provide iPads or laptops to school students, at its three-day congress starting in Wellington today.

In 2011 Labour said it would spend $75 million over four years to put laptops into the hands of 31,000 year 7 to year 13 students in low-decile schools, but it is expected to drop the plan to target the policy and make it universal at a much higher cost.

This sounds like it could be quite a good policy. I think we should be aiming for every student to have an Internet capable device they can learn on.

Labour is also tipped to announce plans to upgrade schools and reallocate the $359m that the Government earmarked in January for specialist teachers and principals.

But I don’t want it either or. Paying out best teachers more, to share their success is also vital.

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Liu granted residency by O’Connor the day before the 2005 election

July 3rd, 2014 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A former Labour Minister intervened three times in the immigration bid of Donghua Liu including waiving the English language requirement for the millionaire businessman.

Damien O’Connor, in his role as the associate Immigration Minister, wrote three letters to Liu’s advisor Warren Kyd – the former National Party MP – before deciding to grant residency against the advice of officials the day before the 2005 election.

This is highly unusual timing. Why would you make the decision the day before the election? Most Mnisters will only make the most urgent of decisions once the election campaign is on, and Parliament has risen.

Even more unusual is that Damien O’Connor was fighting for his political life is a marginal seat. To take time out from campaigning the day before the election, and instead doing non-urgent ministerial work is very odd.

The West Coast MP has said he cannot remember why he granted residency to the businessman whose links to both National and Labour have created political waves this year.

Surely he remembers a case so compelling that he felt he had to make the decision on what could have been his last day as the Minister.

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For those claiming NZ doesn’t do enough for the environment

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

Some pressure groups would have you believe NZ was near the bottom of the world when it comes to the environment and climate change. They seem to regard anything less than abolishing carbon from New Zealand as treason. But the planet and climate section of the Good Country Index has NZ as 7th best out of 125. That’s not something you’ll hear from the Greens.

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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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They’re getting more deranged as the election gets closer

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

A Stuart Munro commenting at Pundit has a solution for Labour’s woes:

Labour’s problems are readily solved – you black-bag Armstrong and Gower and beat the everliving crap out them. You beat them so badly that doubt is expressed that they will ever walk again, and so that they tremble whenever they see a political discussion.

It might seem excessive – but the alternative is allowing Key to use the GCSB and a thoroughly corrupt and compliant media to circumvent the normal operations of democracy. I’m somewhat attached to democracy and do not take kindly to its organised subversion.

And is this a one off desire for violence by Mr Munro. No he advocated killing the Prime Minister in May.

And in 2011 he said on Scoop:

We should not protect our politicians. Let them get what they have earned. The massive redundancy in the profession ensures their positions will be filled almost instantly. Look at Rodney – a replacement was found even before anyone got around to shooting him.

So who is Stuart Munro:

A former fisherman then civil servant (with MAF)

This guy was a so called neutral public servant!!!

He talks very tough online about beating up journalists and killing MPs. I suspect in real life he is scared of his own shadow.

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Disadvantaged youth doing better

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

Stuff reports:

The Government’s flagship youth welfare programme is making significant inroads toward lifting educational achievement, a new report has found.

The best results were achieved when teens on the Ministry of Social Development’s youth services programme achieved NCEA level two in their first 12 months.

The numbers were not so good when the 16 and 17-year-olds were trying to achieve that level after being enrolled for longer than a year.

The programme involves providers working directly with about 3000 young people who are on benefits, or unemployed and not receiving any education or training.

Among its goals is for youth to “not be on a benefit or receive a custodial sentence” for three months after the end of their school year or training course.

The young people involved must participate in education, training or work-based learning and budgeting, and are given little control their benefit.

The ministry will release its first evaluation of the programme today. An early copy shows two-thirds of the teens had made marked strides in education, leaving school with at least a NCEA level two qualification.

I don’t think you can over-estimate the importance of the improvements being made here. This is the stuff that will make a huge difference in 15 to 20 years time.

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Not even close

July 3rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key holds a clear advantage over his rivals on social media heading into September’s general election.

Key has almost three times the followers on his Facebook page and Twitter account than all other party leaders combined. 

His official Twitter feed has 110,000 followers; almost 10 times as many as the next most followed party leader on Twitter – Russel Norman of the Greens with 11,500. 

Labour leader David Cunliffe commands a Twitter audience of 9926. 

How does this compare to other countries? How many Twitter followers per 1,000 populations do the PMs and Opposition Leaders all have. Here’s their followers per 1,000 population:

  1. John Key (NZ) 25.0
  2. Steven Harper (Canada) 13.8
  3. Justin Trudeau (Canada) 11.2
  4. Tony Abbott (Aus) 13.0
  5. David Cameron (UK) 11.1
  6. Eed Miliband (UK) 5.1
  7. Bill Shorten (Aus) 2.8
  8. David Cunliffe (NZ) 2.2

So the NZ PM has twice as many Twitter follows per capita as the Canadian, Australian and UK PMs. And David Cunliffe has fewer followers than any of the other opposition leaders.

On Facebook, Key’s official page has 149,873 likes, while the official pages of all the other party leaders combined have 45,038 followers/likes. 

Interesting the leader with the 2nd most “likes” on Facebook is Winston Peters.

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Again, time to sack the Police

July 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The Electoral Commission is saying nothing about apparent police inaction on breaches of the electoral law.

 Information provided by the Commission reveals that since the beginning of 2011 there have been 113 breaches of the Electoral Act that it’s referred to police for investigation.

Not one has resulted in a prosecution.

The Electoral Commission has declined to be interviewed about the matter.

The agency says what happens once it makes referrals, is a matter for police.

I’ve been going on about this since 2006. The Police failed to prosecute in 2005, 2008 and 2011. Three strikes and you’re out. Their non enforcement of electoral law, seriously undermines our electoral system. It’s time for another agency to be given the job.

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