The 2015 Trans-Tasman Ratings

November 30th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for most of the 121 MPs. As usual, I do some analysis.

The overall average rating is 4.1 (-1.2 from 2014), which is a huge drop. This may reflect grumpier reviewers more than the  possibility that almost every single MP is doing worse than a year ago. I have to say that the number of ratings they have given which I think are totally detached from reality is higher than normal.

Average Ratings per Party

  1. ACT 8.5
  2. United Future 5.0 (nc)
  3. National 4.3 (-1.5)
  4. Labour 4.1 (-1.0)
  5. Maori 4.0 (-2.5)
  6. Green 3.9 (-0.3)
  7. NZ First 3.2 (-0.9)

Of the four main parties, their average rankings in order are National, Labour, Greens, NZ First

Top MPs

  1. David Seymour 8.5
  2. Murray McCully 8.0 (+0.5)
    Bill English 8.0 (-1.0)
  3. John Key 7.5 (-2.0)
    Tim Groser 7.5 (nc)
    Amy Adams 7.5 (+0.5)

Bottom MPs

  1. Darroch Ball 2.0
    Mahesh Bindra 2.0
    Catherine Delahunty 2.0 (nc)
    Ruth Dyson 2.0 (-1.5)
    Paul Foster-Bell 2.0 (-1.5)
    Barbara Kuriger, 2.0
    Melissa Lee 2.0 (-1.0)
    Tracey Martin 2.0 (-2.0)
    Clayton Mitchell 2.0
    Pita Paraone 2.0
    Stuart Smith 2.0
    Rino Tirakatene 2.0 (-0.5)

Top Labour MPs

  1. Annette King 6.5 (-1.0)
  2. Andrew Little 6.0 (-1.0)
    Phil Twyford 6.0 (nc)
    Kelvin Davis 6.0

Top Third Party MPs

  1. David Seymour 8.5
  2. Winston Peters 7.0 (-0.5)
  3. James Shaw 5.5

Biggest Increases

  1. Denis O’Rourke +1.0
    Barbara Stewart +1.0
    Nanaia Mahuta +1.0
    Jan Logie +1.0

Biggest Decreases

  1. David Carter -3.0
  2. Mark Mitchell -2.5
    Grant Ribertson -2.5
    Nick Smith -2.5

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 5.9 (-0.4)
  2. Cabinet 6.3 (-0.6)
  3. National frontbench 6.7 (-1.0)
  4. Labour frontbench 5.3 (-0.7)
  5. National backbench 3.3 (-1.4)

Basically every group has dropped.

Only 10 MPs got a higher score, 16 MPs stayed the same and 63 MPs got a lower score.

A reminder these are the opinions of the three authors at , not mine. I’d love to publish my own scores for all 121 MPs but I value my relationships too much to do so!

One thing I do agree with is their appraisal of David Seymour as MP of the Year, and I quote them:

While not exactly a political novice – he has form in student politics, and stood unsuccessfully twice in Auckland seats before getting elected, as well as being an adviser to then ACT leader John Banks, 32 year old David Seymour is in his first term in Parliament, he is a novice as a party leader, and coalition member. The surprise is how well he has performed, and the degree to which he seems to have made ACT a potential vote winner again. Sure he made the odd “coq” up, but no more than many of his colleagues.

He has handled his work with dedication, he is “everywhere” and he is a genuine talent. ACT’s charter school policies could turn out to be one of the successes of the coalition in policy terms and his move to ensure bars could open during the Rugby World Cup showed how in touch he is with public thinking. He gets the nod as politician of the year because he is at the vanguard of a new wave of politicians – starting with a back to basics approach both in electorate and Parliamentary work. He’s doing what a minor party should do under MMP – giving support, but making the Govt’s life difficult as well, and he is also doing it tactically. He has proven he can master the Parliamentary bun fight, now he needs to show he can make his party relevant.

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ODT on reshuffles

November 30th, 2015 at 10:55 am by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

Labour leader Andrew Little has previously said he intends to provide a new look for his team before Christmas, but how he can do that with such a limited number of MPs will need some imagination.

I expect the reshuffle will be relatively minor.

There are a limited number of options for Mr Little.

He wants to lead a so-called new team into next year so the voting public can see Labour is a government-in-waiting.

But surely, if someone is going to set the political stage on fire from the Opposition benches, they will have done so by now.

The Greens have stolen the thunder of Labour by electing relatively unknown James Shaw as co-leader.

Mr Shaw has hogged headlines and is often the first call for media when seeking an alternative opinion to the one espoused by the Government.

I often hear from media that Green MPs respond quicker as they just say what they believe, while Labour MPs have to have multiple conferences to come up with a position on an issue.

Labour’s top three MPs, Mr Little, deputy-leader Annette King and finance spokesman Grant Robertson are all from Wellington.

And from all accounts that will not change. No Australian leader would be electable if his or her top three MPs were all from Canberra.

In all honesty, former failed leaders, Mr Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe must go.

However, their personal interests outweigh the best interests of the party, despite anything they may say.

Labour does not look or sound united.

There is a reason for that!

I’ll do another post later today on the actual reshuffle, after it is announced at 11.

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2014/15 NZ Health Survey

November 30th, 2015 at 10:14 am by David Farrar

Lots of interesting data in the latest NZ Health Survey.

Some changes from 2007 to 2015:

  • Smoking rate down from 20.1% to 16.6%
  • 15 to 17 year old smoking rate down from 15.7% to 6.1%
  • Maori smoking rate down from 42.1% to 38.1%
  • Drinking (alcohol) rate down from 83.6% to 79.5%
  • 15 to 17 year old drinking rate down from 74.5% to 57.1%
  • Hazardous drinking rate down from 18.0% to 17.7% (but up from low of 14.9% in 2011)
  • 15 to 17 year old hazardous drinking rate down from 19.5% to 10.8%
  • Obesity rate up from 26.5% to 30.7%
  • 15 to 17 year old obesity rate up from 12.0% to 16.4%

So my conclusions are:

  • Smoking rate steadily dropping and teen smoking rate has plummeted which is good. However 5% target for NZ will not be met without a big drop in the Maori smoking rate.
  • A huge drop in the teen drinking rate, which shows how wrong those are claiming the drinking age needs to increase
  • A drop in the overall drinking rate but an increase in the hazardous drinking rate which means measures should target hazardous drinkers, not all drinkers
  • The obesity rate increase starts young. Even under 5s have a 10% obesity rate, which suggests to me parenting is a major factor. Also cultural factors play a big role – 8% of European children are obese, 7% of Asian children, 15% of Maori children and 30% of Pasifika children.
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More nonsense from Labour on detainees

November 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The arrest of a former detainee deported to New Zealand shows why they should remain in Australia where their families and friends can support them, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

This is pretty idiotic. They got deported from Australia because they were committing crime in Australia. So blaming their criminal offending on not being with family and friends is making excuses for criminals.

And Australia has every right to deport serious or persistent criminals who are not Australian citizens, just as we have the same right to deport non New Zealanders who commit crimes.

No wonder Little got nowhere in Australia with his advocacy.

He was not concerned that the arrest would reflect negatively on Labour’s advocacy for Kiwi detainees.

“I expected at some point we would start getting reports of the returned deportees starting to offend here, so it doesn’t surprise me and I doesn’t undermine a thing I’ve said or done.”

Labour has tried to portray them as victims, when the vast majority of them are not. The person who got burgled by this guy is a victim. He is not.

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General Debate 30 November 2015

November 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Is the Govt silly enough to force a $20 parcel fee on us?

November 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ Post may charge people $20 to receive overseas parcels if the Government slashes the threshold under which items can be bought from foreign websites GST-free.

The new fee of between $15 and $20 per parcel would cover the cost of red tape associated with collecting tax at the border, NZ Post said in a document obtained under the Official Information Act.

People could also expect more delays receiving parcels from overseas, it said.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is due to release a consultation document in April that will canvass lowering the $400 threshold under which most overseas internet shopping purchases can be made free of GST and duty.

Retail lobby group Retail NZ has been pushing for the threshold to be slashed or abolished, to put domestic retailers and overseas sellers on a level playing-field paying GST.

But NZ Post said that if the threshold was slashed from $400 to $20 and tax checks continued to take place at the border, then it would need to invest $20 million in a brand new parcel warehouse that would also cost several million dollars a year to operate.

NZ Post said it already incurred costs of $700,000 a year helping facilitate the payment of GST and duties on parcels entering New Zealand.

But if the threshold was slashed it would not be able to absorb the increased costs, it said.

“Based on our preliminary analysis, New Zealand Post’s cost recovery charge is likely to be in the range of $15 to $20 per parcel held at the border for GST collection,” it said.

That meant consumers might expect to pay $65 in administrative charges on low-value items they bought from overseas if an existing $49.25 Customs clearance and biosecurity fee also applied to all items under any new threshold, it said.

Buy $30 of books from overseas and the Government would force you to pay another $65 to receive them. This would be as popular as cold vomit. I hope they see sense.

It is possible there is an economic case for a minor reduction in the de minimis threshold of $400. Maybe at $300 the extra revenue would still exceed the compliance costs. But a reduction to anything like $20 would be economic stupidity and become very hated.


Football corrupt, not just FIFA

November 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Transparency International have done a report on FIFA and national football associations. They find:

Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA distributed a minimum of US$2.05 million to each of its 209 member football associations (FAs). This included a one-off payment in 2014 of US$1.05 million following the success of the World Cup. During that same period FIFA also gave US$102 million to the six regional football Confederations. FIFA says the money is for football development. But other than a partial accounting on the FIFA web site, there is no clear way to track what the FAs did with all that money.

  • 81 per cent of FAs have no financial records publicly available
  • 21 per cent of FAs have no websites
  • 85 per cent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do

81% have no public accounts and 21% do not even have a website! Yet they get millions of dollars.

Only fourteen out of FIFA’s 209 football associations – Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden – publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.

Well done Football New Zealand.

42% of FIFA members publish no relevant information about their organisations.

They propose:

FIFA should mandate through a change in its statutes that all its members must make publicly available the following information as a pre-requisite for membership and financial assistance: audited financial accounts, an annual activities report, code of conduct/ethics3 and organisational statutes. This should supersede national legal requirements if they are less rigorous.

Seems a good idea to me. You want the money, you need to have some transparency.

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The 20 top paid public servants

November 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The SSC has released CEO salary data. The 20 CEOs who got paid the most last financial year (which may not be the same as their normal salary) were:

  1. Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation $830,000 to $839,999
  2. Accident Compensation Corporation $760,000 to $769,999
  3. University of Auckland $680,000 to $689,999
  4. Commissioner of Police $680,000 to $689,999
  5. New Zealand Transport Agency $660,000 to $669,9991
  6. State Services Commissioner $650,000 to $659,999
  7. Auckland DHB $640,000 to $649,999
  8. Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force $630,000 to $639,999
  9. Ministry of Education $620,000 to $629,999
  10. The Treasury $610,000 to $619,999
  11. Solicitor-General $600,000 to $609,999
  12. New Zealand Tourism Board (Tourism New Zealand) $590,000 to $599,999
  13. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment $580,000 to $589,999
  14. Ministry of Social Development $580,000 to $589,999
  15. Canterbury DHB $570,000 to $579,999
  16. Capital and Coast DHB $570,000 to $579,999
  17. Callaghan Innovation $570,000 to $579,999
  18. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise $570,000 to $579,999
  19. University of Otago $560,000 to $569,999
  20. Controller and Auditor-General $560,000 to $569,999

Don’t lie on immigration forms

November 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An immigrant family faces being kicked out of the country after their mother failed to include details of her disabled son on her residence application.

Kirsten Biltoft and her three boys immigrated from Denmark in 2011 after a divorce.

She was granted a business visa and her sons, including youngest Rosario, were given student visas.

In 2012 Biltoft applied for residency with Rosario but later withdrew him from her application after advice their applications would be denied because of his health.

Rosario, who is a 16-year-old with Down Syndrome and autism, has delayed development and functions at the level of a two-year-old.

So you knew you would be declined, filed a false application that omitted to mention him, and now complain to the media?

I have great empathy for the family, but if you decide to deliberately hide relevant information, then it is no surprise that you get into trouble.


Garner on Devoy

November 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

I’d almost forgotten about the ludicrous decision to appoint a squash player as the country’s race relations commissioner – till Susan Devoy dropped another clanger.

And what a howler it was,  throwing her (insignificant) weight behind Auckland Regional Migrants Services’ plan to ditch the word Christmas and refer instead to  “happy holidays” and “season’s greetings”.  

Apparently Devoy, the service’s patron, wants to save the majority of Kiwis (who are not Christian) from feeling excluded at this time of year. Good grief.

If someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah, I don’t feel excluded.

Also Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Now followers of Islam and Judaism do not revere him as the Son of God, but they do greatly respect him as a prophet of God. So there is no reason they should feel offended by someone saying Happy Christmas.

It’s time to ditch her role and the entire office she heads. I know my position will be unpopular among the hand-wringers and do-gooders but let me explain.

We celebrate Christmas in New Zealand. It’s part of who we are, whether we are Christian or not. 

It’s a time for family, gifts, talking, laughing, over-eating, drinking, celebrating the end of the year and, if you so desire, church. No-one needs to worry about being excluded from the joys of the season. 

At the last census 42 per cent of Kiwis identified as non-Christian. But I have never felt excluded by the word “Christmas”. 

Indeed if atheists can live with Christmas, everyone can!

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General Debate 29 November 2015

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

Ardern says she does not want to be PM

November 29th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour’s rising star Jacinda Ardern says she is too “selfish” to want to lead the Labour Party – she’d rather have a private life.

In an interview announcing her new role as a Sunday Star-Times columnist, Ardern says people are wasting their time speculating about her as a future leader … she doesn’t want the job.

Winston also claimed for some decades he was happy to be the member for Tauranga.

The playbook is you deny any interest in the job, so that when you do stand for leader, you say that you do this reluctantly, and at great personal sacrifice, but your party and country needs you.

The latest 3 News-Reid Research Poll has Ardern at 4.2 per cent in the preferred prime minister stakes, fourth behind John Key (38,3 per cent), Andrew Little (10.4 per cent), and Winston Peters (9.3 per cent).

Ardern’s rise is as rare as it is meteoric for a lower-ranked MP.

What I can’t work out is if you don’t want the job, and your rationale is you want a private life, why do you do the multi-page spreads in the Women’s Weekly where not a word of politics is discussed, but it is all about your family, and partner?

There’s one way you could put the speculation to bed, and that is a Shermanesque statement, the short version being:

“If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.”


UK spending cut predictions did not come true

November 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Fraser Nelson writes in The Telegraph:

George Osborne could disband the Army, fire every diplomat, release every prisoner, discharge every policeman, axe the entire foreign aid budget – and still not be able to balance the books.

In NZ that would save $7.1 billion a year. We now have balanced books but at the height of the GFC and subsequent deficits the deficit hit $20 billion!

Councils certainly weren’t protected: their funding fell by 40 per cent. Many of their leaders predicted one long winter of discontent; the Mayor of Liverpool went so far as to predict riots in the streets. The leader of Birmingham City Council warned of “the end of local government as we know it”. They should have had more faith in their own staff. One of the greatest untold stories of the last few years is how councils have found new ways of delivering better services for far less money. The Local Government Association’s own polling has found that council taxpayers are just as satisfied as they were before the cuts.

Maybe NZ Local Government could learn from the UK.

The arts budget is down by a third, yet the calibre of theatre, galleries and musical performance in Britain has never been stronger – as the arts pages of this newspaper regularly attest. Government belt-tightening has not damaged British cultural life because so little of our culture depends on the government. The most important factor is the genius and creativity of playwrights, composers, musicians and poets — of which there is, happily, no shortage.

Yet Labour here complain that Radio NZ has not had any funding increase, and that this is crippling the country. They’re damn fortunate compared to their commercial counterparts who have had huge revenue drops.

Perhaps the greatest single surprise has been law and order. The Police Federation warned that the government would “destroy policing in this country for ever”. That was 10 years ago, when the spending boom was in full flow. Under Theresa May, the policing grant has fallen 20 per cent – yet surveyed crime is down by 30 per cent. As it turns out, the size of the police budget does not dictate criminality levels.

Spending and outcomes are not the same thing.


Newspaper sales plummeting

November 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman writes at Politik:

The number of copies of New Zealand daily newspapers sold over the past five years has plunged by 23%.

Meanwhile Kiwiblog readership is up 18% from five years ago.

According to the media industry website, “StopPress”, Stuff averaged 1,733,000 visitors per months to its site while the NZHerald received 1,315,000 visits.

Averaged out that equates to about 80,000 a weekday on Stuff and 61,000 a weekday on the NZHerald.

Kiwiblog has around 12,000 a weekday. Not bad with no staff, just me and some helpers.

WhaleOil has numbers not far off the NZ Herald, and with again no paid staff.


80 years since the 1st Labour Government elected

November 28th, 2015 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A dinner to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the election of the first ever Labour Government will bring together a potentially explosive mix of people as some of the Rogernomes return to their original home for some reminiscing.

The dinner at Parliament is organised by current MP Stuart Nash, the grandson of the Prime Minister in the Second Labour Government: Sir Walter Nash.

It is to mark the anniversary of the election of the first Labour Government in 1935, under then Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

You might not agree with all their policies but at least they were a positive reforming Government.

To mark the 80 years since, I’ve compiled this chart to show how they have done in the 26 elections since.


A long way down from 1935!


Quoting Mao

November 28th, 2015 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement took a bizarre twist when John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, threw a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book at him across the Despatch Box.

The Labour shadow chancellor mocked the Chancellor – who he dubbed “Comrade Osborne” – for encouraging China to invest in British infrastructure projects.

He is thought to be first frontbencher ever to reveal a copy and quote directly from the communist book.

After joking about the sale of public assets to the Chinese government, Mr McDonnell said: “To assist Comrade Osborne about dealing with his new found comrades, I have brought him along Mao’s Little Red Book.”

Mr McDonnell continued: “Let me quote from Mao, rarely done in this chamber, ‘We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know’.

“I thought it would come in handy for you in your new relationship.”

Tory MPs roared “more, more, more” at Mr McDonnell.

They really can’t believe their luck.


General Debate 28 November 2015

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

Liberty Fest

November 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Students for Liberty have organised:

New Zealand’s inaugural conference on all things Liberty! Hosted by Australia and New Zealand Students for Liberty, anarkiwi, and friends. It will be at Cotton Lecture Theatre 122 (COLT122) at Victoria University’s Kelburn campus, from 10am until 6pm, with drinks afterwards. This is a one day, general liberty conference to be hosted in Wellington on the fifth of December!

Come for speakers, panels, like-minded liberty lovers, and of course stimulating intellectual thought! Info updates on the facebook event at



Cotton Theatre, Victoria University, Kelburn, Wellington, New Zealand – View Map

Speakers include:

  • Tim Goggin, economist on digital currencies
  • Jamie Whyte, former ACT Leader on Transsexuals and capital allocation
  • Richard McGrath, former Libertarianz Leader on immigration
  • Don Brash, former National and ACT Leader on economic freedom
  • Jason Jrupp, NZ Initiative on the RMA
  • Jenesa Jeram, NZ Initiative on productivity
  • Aidan Carter on gaming liberties
  • Andie Moore on marriage privatisation

Sounds a great line up of intriguing topics.


Wellington Airport Assumptions

November 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Have been reading the business case for the proposed Wellington runway extension.

As a frequent traveler I’d love to be able to fly from Wellington to North America, Asia etc.

However I’m sceptical that extending the runway will lead to a huge increase in international connections.

The business case in section 3.4 assumes the following additional flights:

  • South-East Asia 4/week
  • USA 3/week
  • China 4/week
  • 3rd Asian 4/week
  • 4th Asian 3/week

Now it is very difficult to know the future. But for me a conservative approach is to look at comparable other airports.

Christchurch Airport services a larger population base than Wellington. It also is a hub for the entire South Island. And its runway is over three kms long – much longer than even an extended Wellington.

I’ve just checked their weekly flight schedule. The only additional flights they have beyond Australia and the Pacific (which Wellington already does) is a daily to and from Singapore.

So as much as I’d like to think a longer runway to Wellington will get us flights to four different Asian cities and to the US, I ask why would we get these, when Christchurch doesn’t?

In terms of investing in a runway extension, I think there is obviously a level of investment which would be beneficial to the airport owners. But this appears to be far less than the estimated $300 million cost.

I also accept there is a case for some ratepayer investment, on the basis that there is an economic gain to Wellington. The level is another thing.

But the case for taxpayer investment I remain sceptical of.  You need to be convinced that this extension will result in significantly more people flying to New Zealand.

UPDATE: Former Reverve Bank economist Michael Reddell blogs on this also. He notes:

One of the puzzling – or perhaps not so puzzling –  aspects of the report is the complete absence of any analysis of Christchurch airport’s experience with long haul flights.

The traffic forecasts, prepared by InterVISTAS, involve a central scenario in which in thirty years time there would be 56 long haul departures a week from Wellington (eight per day on average).   This is defended with the observation that “Wellington in 30 years time. (FY 2045) will have less than half the number of average weekly frequencies on long haul services as Auckland has now.”  And this was supposed to reassure me?  In addition to having almost four times the population of slowly-growing Wellington (and a larger hinterland), Auckland is inevitably a more natural gateway to New Zealand than Wellington is.  The authors go on to defend their assumptions with the observation that Adelaide has 44 weekly long haul departures (their forecast for Wellington in 2035).  But Adelaide is a city of 1.3 million people.

And still no mention of Christchurch.  Christchurch has about the same population as Wellington.  And if Auckland is one natural gateway to New Zealand, Christchurch is the other, given the much greater tourist appeal of the South Island (and the impossibility of long haul flights into Queenstown).  I couldn’t find an easy reference to how many direct long haul flights there are out of Christchurch at present, but there seem to five weekly flights to Singapore.  A new service to Guangzhou is also starting this month, so perhaps that is another five flights a week.  Other wide-bodied aircraft use Christchurch airport, but to get beyond Australia you still have to stop in Australia.

And it is not as if long haul international flights from Christchurch are relentlessly increasing.  I have distant memories of flying direct into Christchurch from Los Angeles, but that was 10 years ago, and the service is long gone.  AirAsia’s direct flights from Malaysia to Christchurch didn’t last long either.

Surely it is such an obvious comparator that the Christchurch experience really should have been addressed directly? 

I agree. Now there may be good reasons why a longer runway in Wellington may mean we’d get far more flights than Christchurch. Their airport might be run rather badly, and Wellington is not. But to convince sceptics, one really needs to do the direct comparison with Christchurch.

Michael makes many other useful points also – read his post in full if you have the time.


Dom Post editorials dripping with venom

November 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Today’s Dom Post editorial is a great example of how they have become the sort of rant you expect to see on some blogs, since their change of editorial writer a bit over a year ago.

I think editorials should generally criticise the Government. That is not my point. But is is the highly emotional language used that really lets the Dom Post down. They differ massively in tone from other editorials such as the Herald, Press, and ODT.

Some quotes:

  • “English and his loyal servant, Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf” – so the CEO of the Treasury is now a “servant”
  • “English’s minions” – the staff are minions, all language used to personalise it to English
  • “Treasury has wheeled out another lame-brain excuse”
  • “This is hilarious balderdash”
  • “Bennett’s flummery”

Calling people minions. You pretend to be a serious newspaper and you write like a 10 year old trying to be insulting.

Now to avoid doubt I have no problem with the substance, being that Treasury should be criticised for going over its staffing cap. I agree. But day in and day out, the Dom Post leader writer turns any issue into a personal attack on Ministers. And hey that is their right, but the style of writing is akin to The Standard or The Daily Blog, rather than what was once a good newspaper.

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University bans yoga as culturally insensitive!

November 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

A Canadian university has raised international eyebrows by cancelling yoga classes over concerns about “cultural genocide”, colonialism and “Western supremacy”. 

In an email from a student representative at the University of Ottawa Student Federation, yoga instructor Jennifer Scharf was told her seven-year-old program would be discontinued due to “cultural issues of implication” involved in the practice.

“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken,” the student wrote in an email exchange that was published by the Washington Post.

“Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga.”

You have to laugh to stop yourself crying.


A right of reply from Simon Spacey

November 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged some months ago on the lawsuit by Simon Spacey against Waikato University regards allegations of cyber-bullying.

Dr Spacey has blogged on his perspective at Linked In, which I’m happy to link to as a right of reply.


More on iPredict

November 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NBR report:

The website says it applied for an exemption from the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) but Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges denied it on the basis that iPredict was “a legitimate money laundering risk.”

Mr Bridges says the decision was taken on the recommendation of the AML/CFT National Coordination Committee, which is established to consider the policy.

He added the main reason for denial was that iPredict does not identify its customers, “which creates an opportunity to use the iPredict market to launder illicit funds.

And the chance of this? People could use a fruit market to launder funds.

“Deposit restrictions apply but these can be circumvented by setting up multiple user accounts as the customers’ identities are not verified,” the minister (who iPredict says only has a 4% chance to become the next prime minister) says.

Mr Bridges says he recommended iPredict discuss with the FMA how to meet its obligations under the AML/CFT Act such as requiring users to provide their full name, date of birth and address.

And also scans of passports to verify?

All that is needed is for iPredict to agree with the Government that if they detect suspicious activity which could be money laundering, they’ll report it. So if there was a pattern of deposits and withdrawals without any stocks purchased, that would ring a warning bell.

But requiring them to verify the identify of every customer is over the top.

“We are an academic not-for-profit organisation and our agreement with the FMA dictates we place caps on transactions. For example, over the past seven years, we have handled a total of 3,782 withdrawals, with an average trader net worth of $41. Our withdrawal process is lengthy and we are a low risk of money laundering,” iPredict says.

Yes an average net worth of $41. That will fund a lot of terrorism!

The prediction tool says the cost of compliance is too high so it will wind up operations.

A great example of regulatory overkill.


Serco in trouble

November 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Serco has mounted a legal challenge about a draft report by the Department of Corrections into the way the private prison operator has run Mt Eden prison.

Concerns about Serco’s performance, particularly in relation to the allegedly high incidence of violence at the Mt Eden institution, resulted in Corrections taking over running the prison in Julyand an inquiry being launched.

The basis for Serco seeking a judicial review of the report, which is still being considered by Corrections’ chief executive Ray Smith, is that the company claims it didn’t have sufficient opportunity to comment on and respond to it.

It must be damning if they are going to court.

If Serco are unable to meet the levels of performance they agreed to in their contract, then there are contractual remedies for that. That is the good thing about a contract for services.

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A huge increase in female top public servants

November 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The SSC announced:

The number of women in senior leadership roles in the State sector has grown from 16% to 44.2% since 2008, and 38% of current or acting Chief Executives in the Public Service are women – the highest proportion ever

And all without quotas.

the total spend on employing Public Service chief executives has remained similar since 2008/2009 according to two State sector workforce reports released by the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today.