www.govt.nz

July 30th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Attended the launch of the revamped Government portal, www.govt.nz, last night. With a goal of having 70% of transactions with the Government done online, it is important to be able to easily find out where to do them.

The site is clean and simple. Sensible categories, and information. I tried searching on various terms such as “pay tax” and “Milford Track and it came up with the page I wanted. The only term it didn’t cover was “tenders”.

So overall seems to be a successful revamp, that will be a good gateway for residents and organisations to use to find out where most Government information is online.

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CAA must take some responsibility for deaths

July 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

When the Wairarapa ballooning tragedy which killed 11 first occurred, I thought it was just incredibly bad luck.

It then emerged the pilot was probably under the influence of cannabis, and I basically blamed the pilot – but thought there was not much you can do if a pilot who is also the owner is stupid enough to do such a thing – that it was a one off.

But it turns out the CAA had complaints in the past and did nothing. That is appalling. The Dom Post reports:

The Civil Aviation Authority took no action when told a balloon pilot had been too “pissed and/or high” to fly, an inquest has been told.

It had also been told Lance Hopping, 53, had cheated on pilot exams and impersonated a CAA official.

And he was still licensed!

Sherriff suggested that if the complaints had been revealed that would have prevented the tragedy.

They included an allegation Hopping had on more than one occasion been too “pissed and/or too high” to fly, causing flights to be suspended.

And nothing happened!

Earlier, a CAA manager said further safety restrictions on commercial balloonists could put some out of business.

Tough. 11 people would still be alive though.

The Herald reported:

During questioning in the inquest, Chris Ford from the CAA confirmed there had been a number of Aviation Related Concerns (ARC) about Mr Hopping in the years before the crash.

Those concerns included an ARC on February 4, 2010 about a balloon flight that was cancelled because Mr Hopping appeared “too pissed and/or too high to perform piloting duties”, the report said.

That incident was not isolated, the report said.

“In one incident within the previous two years, an on board crew person had to take over the controls of the balloon because Mr Hopping was incapable of landing it on his own due to impairment.”

Another related to an unauthorised notebook being found on the pilot as he was sitting a flying exam.

“A layman would call that cheating, wouldn’t they?” Mr Sherriff asked Mr Ford, who agreed.

So twice before they knew he had been too pissed or stoned to pilot, and again did nothing. And they knew he cheated on his exams.

The two CAA investigators tasked with looking into the ARCs decided the information they had was “insufficiently reliable” to justify an interview with Mr Hopping, the report said.

“This was because the information provided was of a hearsay nature, from persons who may have had their own agenda in making the assertions.

But they didn’t even talk to him!!!!

A medical certificate in 2004 pointed to Mr Hopping’s “binge drinking” and a note that he should drink more moderately was made.

So the warning bells were not subtle!

Hopping is the person most to blame for what happened. But the CAA are complicit in the 11 deaths in my view.

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What’s the actual rail growth?

July 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Hefty patronage growth on Auckland trains is making the city’s transport authority bullish about meeting the Government’s conditions for an early start on the $2.86 billion underground rail project.

“We think it’s highly realistic,” Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy said yesterday of the organisation’s prospects of persuading the Government to let it start digging twin rail tunnels between Britomart and Mt Eden before 2020.

He was commenting on a report to his board of a 13.9 per cent increase in rail patronage for the year to June 30, to 11.4 million passenger trips.

That sounds like a big increase.

That was 1.4 million trips more than last year, when patronage fell in the wake of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, interrupting a steady upward trajectory since Britomart opened in 2003 handling 2.5 million passengers.

So 2011 and 2012 figures are skewed by the World Cup. So let’s go back to 2010. That was 10 million trips a year. This year it is 11.5 million trips a year. But how many is that in terms of annual commuters? Let’s assume 250 working days and two trips a day.

In 2010 that was 20,000 Aucklanders using rail daily and and in 2014 it is 23,000 Aucklanders using rail daily. That is growth of 750 Aucklanders a year. It is 15% growth over four years which is just under 4% a year.

To make the target of 20 million trips to bring the CRL forward, you need over 12% growth a year.

Personally I think it will be a good thing if they do achieve ongoing 12% growth, and the CRL does happen earlier rather than later. But I’m somewhat doubtful that you assume growth based on the change over one year only. Let’s see what happens in the next 12 months.

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Jamie Whyte on race based law

July 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte has done a speech on the place of race in the law. Some people will react kneejerk against it and say it is Maori bashing, but I actually think he makes his points by avoiding inflammatory rhetoric, and focusing on principles and outcomes.  Some extracts:

David Cunliffe recently apologised to a Women’s Refuge symposium:

“I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man … because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

The Prime Minister accused Cunliffe of being insincere. Maybe he was.

Or maybe not. The apology conforms to Labour party thinking. Whereas we in ACT believe in personal responsibility, the Labour party believes in collective responsibility.

Those who believe in collective responsibility see people not so much as individuals but as members of groups: men and women, gays and heterosexuals, the rich and the poor, Maori and Pakeha.

For example, the Labour Party has a rule that half the people on their list must be women. This is intended to ensure equal parliamentary representation for women.

Labour believes that a man cannot represent a woman in parliament, even if she votes for him. And that a woman automatically represents other women, even if they did not vote for her or disagree with her. All that matters is group membership.

Similarly, Cunliffe believes he is responsible for sexual violence, even though has never perpetrated any, simply because he is a man.

This “identity politics” comes easily to many people. It is a way of thinking with ancient roots in mankind’s tribal history.

Nevertheless, it is ugly. It is the mindset that lies behind such obscenities as collective punishment and clan feuding.

Identity politics is one reason I could never vote left. I am socially liberal on a fair few issues, but I firmly believe in treating people as individuals, not just as members of a gender, race or other identity.

Alas, the principle that the law should be impartial has never been fully embraced in New Zealand. Even today, after any number of equal rights movements, New Zealand law makes a citizen’s rights depend on her race.

The reparations made to iwi by the Waitangi Tribunal are NOT an example of this. The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori property rights over the land they occupied. Many violations of these rights followed. The remedies provided by the Waitangi Tribunal are not a case of race-based favouritism. They are recognition of property rights and, therefore, something that we in ACT wholeheartedly support.

Good to have that stated. I strongly support them also.

Many people have opinions about what other people should do with their property. Under the Resource Management Act, how much weight your opinion carries depends on your race. If you are Maori, you have a say on these matters that others lack.

Some state run or state directed organisations openly practice race-based favouritism. I know a woman who has raised children by two fathers, one Pakeha and the other Maori. If her Pakeha son wants to attend law school at Auckland University, he will have to get much higher grades than her Maori son.

That’s a good example. They are raised by the same mother in the same household, with the same access to opportunities. But the blood line of their fathers gives one of them a privilege the other does not have.

The question is why race-based laws are tolerated, not just by the Maori and Internet-Mana Parties, but by National, Labour and the Greens.

I suspect the reason is confusion about privilege.

Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.

But, of course, in our ordinary use of the word, it is absurd to say that Maori are privileged. The average life expectancy of Maori is significantly lower than Pakeha and Asian. Average incomes are lower. Average educational achievement is lower.

Again it is good he stated this. Overall Maori are not privileged. They do worse in most areas we deem important. But just because they are under-privileged in many areas, does not mean it is incorrect to say they have some special legal privileges.

Legal privilege offends people less when the beneficiaries are not materially privileged, when they are generally poorer than those at a legal disadvantage.

Absolutely. The argument is you use legal privilege to try and compensate for the lack of privilege in other areas. But is that a good idea?

Apparently, many people do need to be reminded why the principle of legal equality is important.

It is important because, without it, society becomes a racket.

When people are equal before the law, they can get ahead only by offering other people goods or services that they value. We are all playing to the same rules, and we do well only if we “deliver the goods”. This promotes not only economic growth and prosperity but civility. It forces people to attend to the preferences of others.

Where people enjoy legal privilege, by contrast, they can get ahead without doing anything of value for other people. Because the system is rigged in their favour, they don’t need to “deliver the goods”.

Suppose, for example, that the government decided that Japanese women deserved a legal privilege. They should be allowed to erect barriers across the roads they live on. Anyone wanting to proceed down the road must negotiate with these women to get the barriers lifted.

This would provide Japanese women with an opportunity to make easy money by charging people a fee to lift their barriers. It would thereby divert them from productive occupations. It would drive up the cost of travelling around the city, as people either took longer routes or paid the fees. And it would create feelings of resentment towards Japanese women.

This may sound fanciful. But it is precisely the situation that the Resource Management Act (RMA) has created with regard to resource consents and iwi. If you want to proceed with developing land near iwi, you may well have to pay iwi for permission to proceed. That easy money diverts Maori from more productive activity, drives up the cost of developing land and creates resentment towards Maori.

This is sadly true. It incentivises some Iwi to make money from opposing developments, rather than encouraging them to be involved in their own. Of course not true in all cases, such as Ngai Tahu.

Nor does legal privilege do Maori any good over the long-run.

Allow me another analogy. Imagine that SANZAR, the body that administers the Super 15, decided that the Blues deserved a legal privilege. Whereas all the other teams will continue to earn 5 points for a try, the Blues will earn 10.

This would benefit Blues players over the short-term. They would win many more games than they now do. But giving the Blues this advantage in the rules would reduce their incentive to work hard on their skills and fitness. After a while, standards of play at the Blues would decline. Fewer Blues players would be selected for the All Blacks.

Return to those half-brothers I mentioned earlier: one Pakeha who will need an “A” to get into law school, one Maori who will need only a “C”. Which one is more likely to work hard at school? Which one is more likely to make the most of his potential?

Such scheme are very well intended, but I share the concern that they do more harm than good in the long run.

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Talent2 sacked/exits Novopay

July 30th, 2014 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Government will take complete control of Novopay, with its owners Talent2 exiting as the provider of the education payroll system.

3 News has learned Talent2 will pay a cash settlement worth millions of dollars to the Government.

The control of Novopay will be transferred to a Government-owned entity, and is likely to be renamed.

It follows disagreements between the Government and Talent2 over the Novopay contract.

Talent2 is the Australian company behind the flawed payroll system.

It is also understood all Novopay staff will transfer to the new government entity and there will be no job losses.

The Government will also take control of the software as part of the negotiated settlement.

The overall settlement package is thought to be worth somewhere between $18-22 million.

I think that is a very good outcome, and very pleasing to see a significant settlement in favour of taxpayers.

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NZ Taxis against Uber

July 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial car travel app Uber is eyeing the Wellington market but the taxi federation says it is illegal under New Zealand law and warns that it is “sugar-coated poison” that will lead to higher fares.

Uber has denied claims it was operating illegally since it started in May in Auckland, where people can book a ride from motorists who are not cabbies.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said Uber was effectively acting as a booking agent for a network of private hire service providers – not as a taxi firm – and those private hire services were a long-established form of passenger service in New Zealand.

The Taxi Federation doesn’t like the idea of competition. I do. Can’t wait for Uber to get here.

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Peters (sort of) rules out Mana and Maori

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

Stuff reports:

Winston Peters says NZ First will sit in Opposition rather than go into coalition with any “race based” party.

On his way into Parliament today, Peters repeated earlier comments that NZ First might sit on the cross benches rather than go into a coalition that undermined its principles, including its opposition to what it calls “Maori separatism”.

“We are not going to be in any combination that is race-based,” Peters said.

As usual Peters has left wriggle room. What does go into coalition with mean? For example National has no coalition partners at the moment – only supply and confidence partners. Secondly National is the party in a relationship with both ACT and Maori Party but ACT does not have a relationship with the Maori Party directly.

And what does sit on the cross benches mean? Does that mean still vote for the Government, vote against the Government or abstain on supply and confidence?

I imagine that any journalist that ask Peters those questions will get abused, called a moron, and told their position is absolutely clear.

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Transmission Gully is go this year – if the Government does not change

July 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Construction of the Transmission Gully motorway north of Wellington has finally been given the green light, and its true cost has finally been revealed.

The Government today inked a public-private partnership deal that will see the first sod turned later this year, almost a century after the project was first mooted.

While resource consent was granted back in 2012, the motorway’s fate was not assured until a contract had been hashed out with the Australian-led consortium that will build it.

Today’s deal means taxpayers finally know how much the 27-kilometre four-lane link between Linden, south of Porirua, and McKays Crossing, north of Paekakariki, will cost them.

Construction works out to be $850 million in today’s dollars, which is $25m less than it would have cost if the transport agency built the motorway.

Excellent.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says Transmission Gully will save motorists 7.3 minutes heading south and 6.3 minutes heading north during periods of heavy congestion.

The road is also a key component of the Government’s $2.6 billion project to build a 110km four-lane expressway between Levin and Wellington Airport, which will slash about 40 minutes off that journey during the morning peak.

That is huge.

But they have not said when the first sod is turned. If actual construction has not started by 20 September, my fear is that the Greens will demand the road be scrapped as price for coalition with Labour, if there is a change of Government.

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General Debate 30 July 2014

July 30th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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A 21% chance he would die in office

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

Stuff reports:

Speaking to a full house of mostly middle-aged or elderly people in Nelson, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig introduced the man he wants to be their MP – 81-year-old John Green.

Good to see he is active at that age and wanting to engage. I couldn’t resist morbidly working out the chance that, if elected, he would not survive the three year term. He has a 93.3% chance of getting through the first year, 92.4% the second and 91.5% the third which combined is a 78.9% chance, or a 21% chance of not making it.

That got me thinking about other elderly politicians. Winston will be 70 next April and according to Stats NZ has a 10.8% chance of dying in office in the next three year term - if he is elected.

For the John Key haters out there, he only has a 1.1% chance of dying in the next three years, and if he gets a 4th term, only a 1.4% chance of dying during that Parliament!

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Family Court reforms working

July 29th, 2014 at 5:09 pm by David Farrar

Judith Collins announced:

More parents are resolving their disputes outside of court only months after the Government’s family justice reforms came into effect, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.

“Progress to date confirms our reforms are empowering people to resolve their parenting disputes outside of court, minimising the stress children often face when their parents separate,” Ms Collins says.

Since the Government’s reforms came into effect on 31 March this year, 562 assessments for the New Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) mediation service have been completed and another 530 are in progress.

Of the 122 mediations completed, 87 (71 per cent) have resolved all matters in dispute between parties, without going to court. Urgent matters, such as those involving family violence, still go straight to court.

The number of Guardianship applications to the Family Court has also dropped from 481 per week to 231 per week.

That’s great. Going to court should be the last resort for family disputes, but it was basically the first resort for any couples with parenting disputes.

“It’s fantastic to see parents making a real effort to work their problems out themselves. As a result, they avoid the unnecessary conflict, delays and expense the court process may involve, and the Family Court remains free to focus on the most serious and urgent matters.”

Mediation is much preferable to court action, except of course for cases of violence etc. This is a really encouraging trend.

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Gower on what Peters will do

July 29th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Gower writes:

Kim Dotcom has done John Key a big favour.

He has pushed Winston Peters into Key’s arms and made it highly unlikely that the NZ First leader would choose the Labour-Greens over of National if he held the balance of power.

Key’s dalliance with Conservative Party leader Colin Craig was all about having some insurance against a Labour-Green-NZ First Government.

One of Key’s big worries was that that Peters would go with the Labour/Green side in some form. But the arrival and ongoing rise of the Internet-Mana party has changed all that.

On current polling numbers, a Labour-led Government would need the Greens, NZ First and Internet-Mana to get anywhere close.

And David Cunliffe has repeatedly and pointedly refused to rule out working with Internet-Mana to form a Government.

Despite his previous antipathy towards the Greens, I think Peters is now close enough to them on central economic issues to work with them in Government.

But Internet-Mana is a different story – Peters won’t want a bar of them.

Peters thinks Dotcom is a criminal and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is a separatist.

This is what he told me when I interviewed him on The Nation two weeks ago, and asked if he would work with Internet-Mana: “We don’t back race-based politics, we’re in this for everybody in this country as equals and the second thing is the idea of somebody coming here with a criminal record and setting up after five months a political party to run New Zealand is simply an outrage”.

That’s pretty much a “No” to Internent-Mana right there.

So looking at the current political landscape, a Labour-led Government might need the Internet-Mana actually in a formal coalition itself, or use it’s votes to get a majority.

Any way Internet-Mana is involved would be anathema to Peters.

Let’s get a few things straight here:

  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves Dotcom.
  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves Harawira.
  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves Annette Sykes (she would be in on current 3 News-Reid Research polling).
  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves John Minto (close to getting in on current polling).

Peters is looking for a legacy.

He does not want that legacy to be the fourth player propping up an untested Labour-Green-Internet-Mana combo, cutting out a popular Government out on the other side.

I think Gower is right that Winston is not keen to put a Labour-Green-Mana-Dotcom alliance into Government. However he may support Labour on condition that Cunliffe doesn’t give Greens or Mana any ministerial roles. But the problem will be they’d be able to block any legislation he agrees with Labour.

However Peters, if he holds the balance, may over-reach and demand too much of National. I don’t think Key will agree to a deal at any price, and if so then Peters might still go with the left.

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Internet Party and social media

July 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs on two social media gaffes by the Internet Party.

  1. Dotcom posting a joke about Batman killing a hooker
  2. The Internet Party a modified version of Picasso’s Guernica, which was about the bombing of the Spanish village by German and Italian planes, killing many civilians

Matthew has a collection of tweets in response, which are interesting.

This is not the first time by Dotcom. He actually tweeted some rape jokes a while back. Yet Laila Harre has no compunction about being his mouthpiece, while also condemning the “rape culture” in New Zealand.

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Fish and Game

July 29th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is considering legal action after he was accused of trying to stop advocacy group Fish and Game from lobbying for cleaner rivers.

Dr Smith attended a meeting with Fish and Game Council, an independent advocacy group, on July 18.

Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes said Dr Smith bullied councillors at the meeting and appeared to be trying to get them to pull back on their lobbying on water quality. …

Dr Smith rejected these claims, saying a Department of Conservation official had taken a record of the meeting which did not match the accusations of political interference.

He told Radio New Zealand he wanted Fish and Game to engage more with agriculture and irrigation in order to get the best outcomes for freshwater quality.

“While it is absolutely right for them to advocate for freshwater, I do think they sometimes got into the space of being anti New Zealand’s most important industry, that being the dairy industry.”

The minister released the DOC official’s notes this morning. One of the bullet points in the notes said: “F&G need to work out what they want to be: a statutory body [with] legislation and a relationship with Government, or an NGO?”

I agree 1000% with the bullet point. Fish and Game can be a body with statutory forcible funding from hunters and fishers or it can be a lobby group where people who share its views voluntarily decide to join it and fund it.  But it can not be both. Lobby groups should be funded by those who share their views, not funded by taxpayers or though a legislative levy.  That is not to say such organisations can not express a view on issues, but there is a line between expressing a view and using your statutory funding to run partisan campaigns.

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Parliament Today 29 July 2014

July 29th, 2014 at 12:41 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM-3.ooPM.

  1. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  2. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Finance: What progress has the Government made in delivering on its economic objectives for this term of Parliament?
  3. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that there are “plenty of jobs out there”; if so, why are there 42,000 more people unemployed now than when he took office?
  4. JOANNE HAYES to the Minister of Justice: What recent reports has she received on the Family Dispute Resolution services in the reformed Family Justice system?
  5. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Will the forecasts in the Treasury PREFU include the effects of the recent fall in the overall value of exports, including log and dairy price drops?
  6. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on schools addressing difficult behaviours of students?
  7. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister for Social Development: Does she agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that “the fastest way to get children and grown up New Zealanders out of poverty is through work”, when the latest report on household incomes states that two out of five children living in poverty are in households where at least one adult is in full time work or self-employed?
  8. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Is he satisfied that the current Minister of Immigration is working for all New Zealanders?
  9. EUGENIE SAGE to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by his statement that “the Government needs to take a broader perspective than just Fish and Game’s advocacy for their recreational fishing”?
  10. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements?
  11. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON to the Minister of Health: What investment has the Government made to increase the number of live kidney donor transplantations in New Zealand?
  12. Hon RUTH DYSON to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by all his recent statements?

Today Labour are asking about unemployment, exports, child poverty, and whether the Minister of Transport, and the Minister of Conservation stand by their statements. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his Ministers, and the Fish and Game council. New Zealand First is asking about immigration.

Patsy of the day goes to Dr Paul Hutchison for Question 11: What investment has the Government made to increase the number of live kidney donor transplantations in New Zealand?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.ooPM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill – Third Reading

2. Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) - Third Reading (Interrupted)

3. Veterans’ Support Bill – Third Reading

The Appropriation (2014/2015 Estimates) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Finance, Bill English. This bill seeks parliamentary authorisation of the individual appropriations contained in The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2015 .

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) is being guided through the house by the Associate Minister for Local Government, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga. This bill would implement the Government’s second phase of legislative reform relating to the operation of local government.

The Veterans’ Support Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Michael Woodhouse. This bill proposes a new support scheme for veterans of military service that would replace the current scheme prescribed in the War Pensions Act 1954.

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Ouch

July 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A couple of hours trapped in grime ended Porou Wrathall’s career in crime.

Police found the skinny teenager stuck in a fatty pipe at Mr Fish and Chips shop in Langdons Rd, Papanui, about 2.30am on June 17, after they were alerted by neighbours who heard Wrathall’s cry for help.

Yesterday an embarrassed but relieved Wrathall, 18 and a first offender, told The Press the offence had occurred during a drunken moment and was “the start and end” of his criminal career.

He had just appeared in the Christchurch District Court, where his conviction for burglary was penalised with an order he come up for sentence if called upon within 12 months.

In some ways, he had already paid dearly for his stupidity. He was stuck in the greasy fish and chip shop extractor vent for several hours. A steel support was jammed between his buttocks, he was caked in fat and he was cold and sore. He then spent four days in hospital due to hypothermia and kidney problems caused by the confinement.

Heh, now that is karma. I do hope he has recovered though and learnt a lesson.

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Herald on Craig

July 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

National Party election strategists have made a fateful call against an accommodation with the Conservative Party of Colin Craig. On current polling, the Conservatives have about 2 per cent of the vote nationwide, enough to bring possibly three members into Parliament if one of them was to win an electorate. Now National’s decision not to hand them an electorate means they could win up to 4.9 per cent and all of those votes would not count towards returning National to office.

Not quite. If a party gets 4.9% of the vote, then it is wasted vote and the practical effect is for half of that vote to go to National.

John Key and his team would have weighed up the fact that even one seat won by a potential ally can make all the difference to an MMP election result. If Act had not won Epsom at the last election, the government would have been chosen by New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne, who could all have gone with Labour. The Conservatives, like Act, have nowhere else to go.

Again not quite. Peter Dunne had ruled Labour out prior to the election. But it is correct that without Epsom, the Maori Party or NZ First would have had the balance of power.

Spurned by National yesterday, Mr Craig raised the possibility of a post-election deal with Labour but it is not credible. His social conservatism is the polar opposite of Labour’s beliefs on just about every issue. 

And Labour has ruled him out.

National must have calculated, probably rightly, that to make room for Mr Craig in East Coast Bays would have cost National more votes than his support might be worth. 

That’s my view.

Looking to the long term, National needs the Conservatives to do well without its help. It needs another party on the right with a solid, reliable voting base, much as the Greens have established on the left. Act has failed to find such a base and has come to depend on National’s concession of Epsom. NZ First is a right of centre party but it is based on its leader’s personal appeal and will not survive him.

In an ideal world there would be both a classical liberal party and a conservative party in Parliament.

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Not a trend we want to encourage

July 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Nelson MP Nick Smith and his Waitaki counterpart Jacqui Dean are accustomed to pressing the flesh but one of them will be exposing it in public and online come the end of the year.

Smith hopes it won’t be him.

“I really need Nelson to pull out all stops as they do not want to see me wearing my togs in Trafalgar St,” he said.

Dean has a similar view: “I don’t think that Wanaka is ever going to be ready to see me in a bikini, not now, not ever.”

The National Party pair, with an eye on pre-election publicity, are backing their electorates in the Gigatown competition, which is currently led by Wanaka, with Nelson holding third behind Timaru.

They’ve pledged to take a “selfie” wearing their togs on the town’s main street and posting on their website or Facebook if their town is pipped.

If neither town makes the final top five, to be selected at the the end of September, they’ll both be stripping.

This is not a trend we want to encourage. I prefer my MPs in suits, not togs :-)

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WCC’s stupidest ever campaign dropped

July 29th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A $40,000 campaign to reduce begging on Wellington streets has been quietly ditched, with the council saying many people were simply confused by it.

The “alternative giving” campaign was meant to encourage people to give money to charities rather than giving it directly to beggars – but it raised just $3500 in eight months.

They spent $40,000 to raise $3,500. Hard to get a bigger fail than that.

Councillor Paul Eagle, who chairs the community, sport and recreation committee, said the campaign had been stopped while the council assessed its impact – not because it hadn’t worked. “If I thought it was a complete mess, I would tell you, but I don’t.”

Well Paul is the only one who doesn’t then.

Moore was begging yesterday with Ricki Buddy Tua and Roi Gurdy, and the trio said they often pooled their earnings. Buddy Tua said he earned anywhere from $30 to $180 a day begging, which mostly went on food and sometimes cannabis and cigarettes.

More money begging than working it seems.  I give a lot to charity, but I never give to beggars.

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General Debate 29 July 2014

July 29th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Armstrong on gotcha politics

July 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

Points well made. They have played politics fast and loose on this issue.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

It seems clear Labour can’t win just by leadership preference or policies, so it is inevitable they will try H-Fee type issues.

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National announces coalition choices

July 28th, 2014 at 4:13 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced the following.

  • They will contest all 64 general electorates
  • In Ohariu and Epsom they are saying that they are happy for supporters to vote tactically for Peter Dunne and David Seymour
  • There is no “deal” with the Conservatives in East Coast Bays, or elsewhere.
  • Main focus is on maximising the party vote for National

I suspect thousands of National activists around the country have just breathed a sigh of relief there is no deal with the Conservatives.

In my view there should be representation in Parliament for those who have seriously conservative social and economic views. However both NZ First and Conservatives are competing in that space and while they remain separate parties, there is a risk neither will make it. But I can’t see either leader agreeing to be the deputy leader to the other one :-)

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Chorus v Telecom

July 28th, 2014 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Chorus has returned fire over a complaint Telecom laid with the Commerce Commission over a new copper broadband product.

Telecom said Chorus planned to impose an “artificial cap” of 250 kilobits-per-second on the average throughput of its regulated copper broadband service in order to make new “premium” products it announced in May more attractive.

Telecom said the move would significantly degrade the performance of regulated copper broadband services, the price of which is set by the Commerce Commission.

It has laid a complaint against Chorus, saying the proposals breached the Telecommunications Act and were also a “breach of good faith”.

The commission said it would investigate the complaint and revealed CallPlus had also voiced concerns about Chorus’ changes.

This shows what a good idea it was to separate Telecom and Chorus. In the old days, this may have just happened without dissent. It is a good thing to have the interests of the largest competitive provider separate to the interests of the monopoly infrastructure provider.

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NZ 7th in HDI

July 28th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The UN’s Human Development Index is out and New Zealand is the 7th highest in the world. The top 10 are:

  1. Norway .944
  2. Australia .933
  3. Switzerland .917
  4. Netherlands .915
  5. US .914
  6. Germany .911
  7. New Zealand .910
  8. Canada .902
  9. Singapore .901
  10. Denmark .900

Damn Germans beat us by .001  :-)

The bottom country is Niger at .337 and 18th place.

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Beyer for Mana

July 28th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Fomer Labour MP Georgina Beyer will stand for the Mana Party in Te Tai Tonga, saying she was doing so partly to atone for voting for the Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2004.

Ms Beyer was New Zealand’s first trans-sexual MP, serving under Labour from 1999 to 2007. She has struggled with kidney disease since last year but said her health was now steady and she was looking forward to a new challenge.

“When approached about the role, there were a few things to consider as there always are. Taking on this role is my way of making amends to Maori for voting for the foreshore and seabed bill which I was forced into and which totally broke me.”

No one was forced. Tariana showed integrity and left over it.

Beyer’s biggest achievement in politics was getting elected in the first place. I can’t recall any particular legislative or parliamentary achievements.

She won’t win Te Tai Tonga, but will be interesting to see how she goes.

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