Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

General Debate 18 June 2015

June 18th, 2015 at 12:11 pm by Kokila Patel

Apologies for the lateness….Kokila


General Debate 17 June 2015

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

Do you want a bankrupt business mentor?

June 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A bankrupt business trainer whose mentoring companies are in liquidation has been revealed as a taxpayer-funded envoy hired to teach fledgling Tongan firms the secret of success.

Auckland’s Richard Peter Gee, 64, was in Tonga last week on his third mentoring session since being made bankrupt in the High Court at Auckland. Herald inquiries have found Mr Gee received $29,000 for the mentoring courses in Tonga – part of an aid package for the Pacific nation funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A spokeswoman for Mfat – which runs the aid scheme – said it had no idea Mr Gee had been bankrupted during a period he was carrying out business mentoring courses.

She said the money was paid to the Tonga Chamber of Commerce as part of a larger aid package and the organisation then handled contracting itself. She said Mfat believed $29,000 had been paid to Geewiz Group Professional Speakers Ltd which provided “six courses of up to five days in length” between 2013 and 2015.

“The ministry takes the delivery of its business development programmes very seriously. We have high expectations of the procurement standards and contractual arrangements set by our aid partners, and expect action to be taken in the event of any potential breach.”


The fault appears to be with the Tongan Chamber of Commerce, but it is still our money being wasted.

Mr Gee was made bankrupt in August last year. The bankruptcy followed the liquidations of two mentoring businesses and a High Court case critical of how Mr Gee met his legal obligations as a company director. In the case, Justice Brendan Brown found it had been “irresponsible” for Mr Gee to continue to trade as Richard Geewiz Gee Consultants Ltd when he had not worked out how to pay outstanding taxes.

Mr Gee’s former accountant Tim Livingstone told the court the company operated by Mr Gee was insolvent the entire time it was in operation. He had written to Mr Gee each year advising him of this.

Mr Gee was ordered to pay $85,000 in the wake of the company liquidation. It was separately found the successor company, Geewiz Ltd, also went into liquidation in 2011 and was found to be owing $70,000.

I think most people would agree that someone whose business mentoring business has gone bankrupt, is probably a very bad choice to be a business mentor.

However we are the country where the host of The Apprentice went bankrupt, so maybe it is following in those foot steps!



Snowdon on the prohibitionist’s dilemma

June 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Christopher Snowdon blogs:

There’s a very revealing quote from the ‘policy and advocacy director’ (ie. chief lobbyist) at Queensland’s Cancer Council in this story that Dick Puddlecote picked up. He’s talking about e-cigarettes:

“This was a problem we didn’t have a number of years ago. It’s a real frustration for those of us working in public health because it wasn’t even on the horizon a number of years back.

“It’s something we’re just better off without.”

This tells you a lot about the mentality of the anti-smoking crusade. Consider the following scenario.

You are deeply concerned about the effect of smoking on health. You’ve spent your whole career trying to help people give up smoking. You dream of a ‘smoke-free world’.

But it’s a struggle. Smoking rates tend to be on the decline in wealthy countries, but they are falling very slowly. Globally, there are more people smoking than ever before and there will be more people smoking tomorrow.

No matter how many bans you introduce, a large minority of adults continues to smoke. Tax rises have had some effect on smoking prevalence but—although you would never say so openly—you are aware that these taxes are a major burden on the poor and are fueling a large and growing black market.

What’s more, nearly everything has been tried. All the reasonable stuff—health warnings, anti-smoking ads, banning sales to minors—was introduced before you were born. Even the more extreme measures on the list have mostly been ticked off, which is why you’ve had to spend the last few years scraping the bottom of the barrel with this silly plain packaging campaign. But what comes next? It has to be prohibition of some sort, and you know that won’t work.

At one time, many years ago, it seemed that nicotine patches and gum might offer a solution, but it has become clear that smokers don’t really like them and their efficacy as stop-smoking aids is pretty negligible.

And then, out of nowhere, a product falls into your lap that smokers actually like and which helps smokers quit. Incredibly, even smokers who had no intention of quitting find themselves switching to it. There is no evidence that it causes cancer, heart disease or COPD and it doesn’t create an odour that non-smokers would find objectionable.

You can’t believe your luck. This is the kind of thing that people like Michael Russell hoped to discover in the 1980s: a device that delivers nicotine in a satisfying way without delivering the smoke and the toxins. At last! This changes everything! What anopportunity!

That’s scenario number one.

And there have been some (a minority) who react like that.

In scenario number two, you are a journeyman public health advocate picking up a nice, steady wage from the government every month. You hold lots of meetings and you go to lots of conferences. You and your colleagues developed a plan of incremental prohibition in the early 1980s and you have it all mapped out.

The Plan was to ban tobacco advertising and then ban smoking in as many places as possible. You were going to raise taxes on tobacco until it became unaffordable for people on low and median incomes. Other ideas—display bans, graphic warnings, banning menthol cigarettes—could be incorporated if you could convince politicians that something should be done and these policies were something.

You would attack what you considered to be the source of problem—the tobacco industry—with plain packaging, windfall taxes, standardised cigarettes or whatever. Gradually, you would beat smokers and the industry down until both were so unpopular that you could push for the final goal of prohibition. Within twenty years (it was always twenty years away) the tobacco industry would be outlawed and there would be no more smoking. In the meantime, there was good money to be made getting research grants to prove that the various policies in The Plan would work.

And then something comes along that you didn’t expect. A new product that gives smokers a way to enjoy nicotine without the health risks of smoking cigarettes. You didn’t come up with the idea. The government didn’t come up with the idea. It came from the private sector, and private businesses are making money out of it. Worse still, after a few years of monitoring the market, the tobacco industry buys up a few companies and now they’re making money out of it.

Sure, lots of people are giving up smoking as a result, but not in a way that was part of The Plan. Where does this leave you? What will become of the public health professionals and all their peer-reviewed studies? What about the ‘endgame’? What a problem!

So you bite your nails and say to yourself…

“This was a problem we didn’t have a number of years ago. It’s a real frustration for those of us working in public health because it wasn’t even on the horizon a number of years back.”

And then you pour yourself a glass of skimmed milk, slump into your armchair and say…

“It’s something we’re just better off without.”

There are public health lobbyists who hate the effect of smoking, and there are public health lobbyists who just hate tobacco companies. The former tend to be rational about reducing harm.

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General Debate 16 June 2015

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

Game of Thrones season finale (spoilers)

June 15th, 2015 at 3:46 pm by David Farrar




General Debate 15 June 2015

June 15th, 2015 at 8:17 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 14 June 2015

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

General Debate 13 June 2015

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

RIP Sir Christopher Lee

June 12th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph has rolling coverage of the tributes to Sir Christopher Lee, died aged 93. Amazingly he was still working, preparing to shoot a film with Uma Thurman.

For today’s generation he was the malevolent Saruman, but that was a small part of his 70 year career. He was one of the early Draculas, Count Dooku in a film we won’t name and more.

Lee was fluent in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian and could also speak Russian, Greek and Swedish.



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General Debate 12 June 2015

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

Regulate and sell, don’t ban

June 11th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Professor Wayne Hall and others write:

Over the past ten years, a substantial minority of cigarette smokers in many countries have turned to electronic (e-) cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking or as an alternative to smoking some or all of the time. In 2013 around 600,000 Australian smokers had tried e-cigarettes, while there are currently around 2.6 million e-cigarette users in Great Britain.

These devices avoid burning tobacco and don’t produce smoke, tar and particulate matter. Instead they use an electronic system to produce a mist containing nicotine and propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine that can be inhaled much like tobacco smoke to deliver nicotine to the lungs.

E-cigarettes deliver much lower levels of toxins and carcinogens than cigarettes, and are 95% less harmful than cigarettes according to some proponents.

But Australia has banned the sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Nicotine can only be imported for use in vaporisers on a medical prescription, but a spokesperson for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians would like to ban this too.

The sale is banned in NZ also.

As we argue in the recent edition of the journal Addiction, the ban on e-cigarettes is ethically questionable. It’s a paternalistic policy that denies adult smokers the right to use a less harmful form of nicotine.

Banning a less harmful product (e-cigarettes) while allowing the most harmful (tobacco cigarettes) to be freely sold is an incoherent form of risk regulation. It also disadvantages smokers who may have difficulty quitting but want to reduce the risks of smoking.

To be blunt it is fucking stupid.

We oppose laissez faire policies towards e-cigarettes because they may increase the risks that have motivated the ban – dual use by smokers, uptake by minors, and re-normalising smoking. But there is another more ethically acceptable policy option: allowing e-cigarettes to be sold to smokers, while using tight regulation to minimise adverse outcomes.

We propose allowing adult smokers to buy approved e-cigarette products from a restricted number of licensed sales outlets. Any promotional material for these products could be restricted to information supplied to smokers purchasing these products.

A sensible compromise – regulated sales rather than a ban.


General Debate 11 June 2015

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

General Debate 10 June 2015

June 10th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 9 June 2015

June 9th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 8 June 2015

June 8th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 7 June 2015

June 7th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 6 June 2015

June 6th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 5 June 2015

June 5th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 4 June 2015

June 4th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 3 June 2015

June 3rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 2 June 2015

June 2nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 1 June 2015

June 1st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

US Vice President’s son dies of cancer

May 31st, 2015 at 9:17 pm by Lindsay Addie

Some very sad news  from the USA. Vice President Joe Biden’s son has lost a two year battle with brain cancer at the age of 46.

The Washington Post reports:

Joseph Robinette “Beau” Biden III, the son of Vice President Biden and former state attorney general of Delaware, died Saturday after battling brain cancer for several years.

Biden, 46, the oldest son of the vice president and the rising star of a family dynasty, had been admitted recently to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda as he fought the cancer, a battle that his father largely kept private in the last weeks as his son clung to his life.

“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us — especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter,” Vice President Biden said in a statement that was released Saturday night.

Far too young to die. Condolences to the Biden family.

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General Debate 31 May 2015

May 31st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel