Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

General Debate 29 August 2015

August 29th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 28 August 2015

August 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 27 August 2015

August 27th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Suicides due to hacking

August 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At least two people may have committed suicide following the hacking of the Ashley Madison cheating website, Toronto police said on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time), warning of a ripple effect that includes scams and extortion of clients desperate to stop the exposure of their infidelity.

Avid Life Media Inc, the parent company of the website, is offering a C$500,000 (NZ$580,750) reward to catch the hackers.

In addition to the exposure of the Ashley Madison accounts of as many as 37 million users, the attack on the dating website for married people has sparked extortion attempts and at least two unconfirmed suicides, Toronto Police Acting Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans told a news conference.

I hope the hackers are eventually caught, and prosecuted. Their actions will I believe lead to many deaths, and destroyed families.


General Debate 26 August 2015

August 26th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 25 August 2015

August 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

In 20 days QEII breaks the record

August 24th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

In 20 days, the Queen will become the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom or any kingdom within it. That is the longest over 1,145 years of monarchy.

The 10 longest reigning are:

  1. Queen Victoria (UK) 63 years, 216 days
  2. QEII (UK) 63 years 196 days
  3. George III (UK) 59 years 96 days
  4. James VI (Soctland) 57 years 46 days
  5. Henry III (England) 56 years 29 days
  6. Edward III (England) 50 years 147 days
  7. William I (Scotland) 48 years 360 days
  8. Llyweln the Great (Wales) 45 years
  9. Elizabeth I (England) 44 years 127 days
  10. David II (Scotland) 41 years 260 days

The shortest reign was Lady Jane Grey for 13 days in 1553.


General Debate 24 August 2015

August 24th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 23 August 2015

August 23rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 22 August 2015

August 22nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 21 August 2015

August 21st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Public Health England says e-cigarettes 95% less harmful

August 20th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Vaping is safer than smoking and could lead to demise of the traditional cigarette,Public Health England (PHE) has said in the first official recognition that e-cigarettes are less damaging to health than smoking tobacco.

The health body concluded that, on “the best estimate so far”, e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and could one day be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.

While stressing that e-cigarettes are not free from risk, PHE now believes that e-cigarettes “have the potential to make a significant contribution to the endgame for tobacco”.

Yet in New Zealand the Ministry of Health has the sale of e-cigarettes effectively banned. You can buy tobacco in any dairy but can-t buy e-cigarettes. Madness.

The review found that almost all of the 2.6 million adults in the UK now thought to be using e-cigarettes are current or former conventional smokers, most using them to help them quit tobacco or to prevent them going back to smoking.

There was no suggestion that the products were a gateway into tobacco smoking, with less than 1% of adults or young people who had never smoked becoming regular cigarette users.

If the Govt is serious about a smoke free NZ by 2025, then they should be making it easier for e-cigarettes to be sold in NZ.


General Debate 20 August 2015

August 20th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 19 August 2015

August 19th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Rationality from UK ASH

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

The Guardian reports:

Experimentation with e-cigarettes is rising among 11- to 18-year-olds in Britain but is most common among those who already smoke or who have done in the past, according to anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

It says results from its third annual online survey of young people’s attitudes to e-cigarettes suggest that it is “unlikely” they are currently acting as a gateway to tobacco.

So what did they find?

Although 10% of nearly 2,300 surveyed for Ash by YouGov in March said they had tried e-cigarettes “once or twice”, up from 4% two years ago, regular use remained rare.

Kids experiment.

Only 2.4% said they used them at least once a month and almost all were young people who said they had been, or were still, regular tobacco smokers. The increases in use have happened as regular tobacco smoking by 11- to 15-year-olds has dropped to a low of 3%.

That’s good. No one under 18 should smoke.

Authors of the journal report, though it only covers the first two surveys, also express concerns at the increasing proportion of young people perceiving e-cigarettes to be as hazardous as tobacco ones. This, it warns, may reduce numbers of young people “willing to try and/or use what is evidently a much less hazardous source of nicotine”.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Ash, said: “These results should reassure the public that electronic cigarettes are not linked with any rise in young people smoking. Although more young people are trying electronic cigarettes and many more young people are aware of them, this has not led to widespread regular use or an increase in smoking.”

Those who campaign against e-cigarettes are campaigning against a product exponentially less harmful than smoking. The UK version of ASH gets this. They see e-cigarettes as part of the solution, not part of the problem. Can we say the same their counterparts in NZ?


General Debate 18 August 2015

August 18th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 17 August 2015

August 17th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Ministerial staff costs

August 17th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The SST has a big story on how more ministerial staff warn over $100,000 than in 2008. It has gone from 17 to 53, representing around a third of the staff. This means that in each ministerial office, there are on average two people earning over $100,000.

Now it is newsworthy that ministerial staff are being paid more on average. However the story lacked some context, when you consider the paragraphs that say:

Since coming to Government, National has pledged restraint in the public sector.

However a public sector representative questioned whether the same message was being felt by those doing the bidding of National ministers.

There is a difference between a freeze on how much individuals get paid, and a freeze on total funding for salaries.

What I’m interested in, as a taxpayer, is how much more, if any, we are paying for the running of ministerial office. This would have been useful, even vital, information for the story. And it took around 15 minutes to find out from Treasury documents.

The 2015 budget allocated $25.842 million for ministerial support services. In 2008/09 the cost of ministerial support services was $30.375 million. So in fact spending on ministerial offices has dropped 14.9% in seven years. That is what I call restraint.

Also the cost of VIP transport has stayed constant – in fact down 0.1% from 2008/09.

And ministerial travel has gone up just 3.1% over seven years. Well under inflation.

So actually overall, pretty good spending restraint.

Kris Faafoi, Labour’s state services spokesman said the main responsibility of the staff in the Beehive was simply to make their minister look good.

So Kris is saying the main job of Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins was to make Helen Clark look good? I wonder if they agree with his characterisation.

But as we have gone onto Labour, what happened to ministerial spending between 2000/2001 and 2008/09?

  • Ministerial support services increased 45.3% (down 14.9% under National)
  • VIP transport increased 43.3% (down 0.1% under National)
  • Ministerial travel increased 30.7% (up 3.1% under National)

Andrew McConnell said the approach of the Government was consistent with “the Government’s aim to reduce the number of public sector numbers, and to have fewer but higher skilled people”.

Indeed. National ministerial staff are being paid more, but there are fewer of them – hence the overall cost of running ministerial offices has dropped, not increased.

Tags: , ,

General Debate 16 August 2015

August 16th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 15 August 2015

August 15th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 14 August 2015

August 14th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 13 August 2015

August 13th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Two Lange anniversaries

August 12th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tomorrow is the 10th 11th anniversary of the death of David Lange who died on 13 August 2005.

And four days ago was the 26th anniversary of his resignation as Prime Minister on 8 August 1989.

I was a student when Lange resigned. I remember it vividly though, when I heard about it on the radio. Despite the infighting in Labour, no one really thought the incumbent Prime Minister would just throw it in and resign.

I recall thinking that this was probably the day that the 1990 election was decided, as Labour winning without Lange seemed impossible.

His death at age 63 was very sad.  I recall his valedictory speech to Parliament in 1996.  It remains I think the best valedictory speech I have heard – very funny yet also poignant.



General Debate 12 August 2015

August 12th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 11 August 2015

August 11th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel