General Debate 18 September 2014

September 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Clark and Privacy Commissioner also say there is no mass surveillance

September 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Privacy Commissioner has blogged:

The third development is that I have convened a meeting, which I hope to become regular, of the agencies responsible for overseeing security and intelligence agencies. That includes my office, the IGIS, the Chief Ombudsman, and the Auditor-General. Together we will be able to ensure that our efforts are as informed and coordinated as our respective legislative schemes permit.

To date, I have seen no evidence of mass surveillance being undertaken by GCSB that would contradict this assurance given by the Director at our Privacy Forum [PDF, 83 KB]earlier this year.

I look forward to continuing to play a role in providing assurance to New Zealanders that the activities of our security and intelligence agencies are lawful and proportional.

And Stuff has reported:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been given assurances by former prime minister and party leader Helen Clark that New Zealanders weren’t been spied on under her leadership.

 

So those saying there is no mass surveillance include:

  • The PM
  • The former PM
  • The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
  • The Privacy Commissioner
  • The GCSB Director
  • The former GCSB Director

I believe them over Kim Dotcom, and his Moment of Truth circus.  Don’t let Dotcom distract from the real issues of our economy, our hospitals, our schools, our welfare system and our justice system.

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Two more polls

September 17th, 2014 at 6:48 pm by David Farrar

Two more polls out today, on Curiablog.

curiappa

The weighted average is above, of the last five polls. The CR has 62, CL 50 and centre parties 11.

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Dotcom wants to force Labour Govt to give Snowden asylum

September 17th, 2014 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

There could be another fugitive from US justice in New Zealand should there be a change of Government this weekend.

Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom has tweeted that if voters oust the National Party, Internet Mana will work with Labour and the Greens to get Edward Snowden asylum in New Zealand.

Snowden faces up to 30 years jail in the US for revealing the NSA’s secrets.

He’s currently in hiding in Russia.

Why stop there? Why not Julian Assange also?

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Putin’s propaganda

September 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Atlantic reports:

At the NATO summit in Wales last week, General Philip Breedlove, the military alliance’s top commander, made a bold declaration. Russia, he said, is waging “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.”

It was something of an underestimation. The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Take Novorossiya, the name Vladimir Putin has given to the huge wedge of southeastern Ukraine he might, or might not, consider annexing. The term is plucked from tsarist history, when it represented a different geographical space. Nobody who lives in that part of the world today ever thought of themselves as living in Novorossiya and bearing allegiance to it—at least until several months ago. Now, Novorossiya is being imagined into being: Russian media are showing maps of its ‘geography,’ while Kremlin-backed politicians are writing its ‘history’ into school textbooks. There’s a flagand even a news agency (in English and Russian). There are several Twitterfeeds. It’s like something out of a Borges story—except for the very real casualties of the war conducted in its name.

It’s like a George Orwell novel.

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Issues that matter – law and order

September 17th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The final of my series on issues that I think matter to New Zealanders. The other four have been the economy, health, education and welfare.

youthcrime

 

The youth crime rate has declined 36% since 2010. This is not prosecutions – but recorded offences. This is important as if you get into crime as a youth, you often stay there.

burglaries

 

Burglaries are traumatic for those who have had their homes invaded. The rate was static under Labour and has fallen 10.4% since 2008.

robberies

 

Robberies are even more traumatic for victims. The rate has fallen 26.4% since 2008.

violent

 

Violent crimes such as assaults are some of the worst crimes. They are also the most likely to be reported. The violent crime rate climbed from 2004 to 2009, and has declined since. It is now 15.9% lower than in 2008.

homicides

 

There are relatively few homicides, so in any one year the numbers may change a fair bit. But over the last four years there were 331 homicides, compared to 394 from 2005 to 2008. That is a reasonable drop.

prisoners

 

And the reduced crime rates are starting to show in the prison population, which has been declining since 2011. There are now 235 fewer prisoners.

threestrikes

 

The three strikes law (which Labour and Greens want to repeal) has been a stunning success to date. While 3,721 offenders have notched up a first strike, only 29 have gone on to do a second strike (by end of 2013) and so far there have been no third strikes. The certainty of no parole and long prison sentences for 2nd and 3rd strikes has a deterrent effect.

UPDATE: As of August 2014 it is 4,585 first strikes, 44 2nd strikes and no third strikes.

reoffending

 

And perhaps the most important stat of all. The reoffending rate has fallen from 32.3% to 26.3%. A focus on rehabilitation is working.

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Why I’d vote yes for Scottish Independence

September 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I don’t have enough Scottish ancestry or residency to vote, but if I could vote I’d vote for Scotland to be an independent country. Here’s why.

Scotland already is a country

Scotland is not a region or a territory. It is a country that has existed for over 1,000 years. For 300 or so it has been in a union with other countries, but it is a country. You can’t compare it to Tasmania or Florida.

Scotland is not British

British culture is essentially English culture. Scotland has a culture and heritage very different to that of England, and the UK. They have less in common than arguably Australia and New Zealand.

They have a different political culture

Scottish political culture is very different to England. It is far more left wing. They’re never going to be happy having decisions for them made elsewhere. Their political culture instincts are vastly different. Could you imagine how Canada would go if it was in a union with the US? It would not be happy.

They need to be responsible for their own revenue

One of the reasons Scotland is so socialist leaning is because they don’t have to raise their own income. The UK does it for them. They just want more money spent on them. This is not surprising. By making Scotland responsible for paying its own way in the world, it will become more responsible and balanced.

It would be a great comparison of different economies

If Scotland leaves England/UK, then one will be able to see over a decade or two which economic system does better – a Scottish system with higher taxes and spending, or the UK one with comparatively smaller tax burden. This will be an instructive lesson for the world.

England may prosper

England (or the rest of the UK more properly) may end up doing well, after the initial shock. Many Scottish companies may move to London.

On a personal level I would regret the United Kingdom splitting. The UK has provided more good stuff to the world that arguably any other country. But fondness for the past is not a good enough reason to not vote for change in the future.

Now don’t get me wrong, I expect both Scotland and the UK will suffer economic damage in the short and even medium term if they split. This could be quite considerable. But in the long run I think Scotland will be better off responsible for its own economy.

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The most marginal seats according to iPredict

September 17th, 2014 at 1:51 pm by David Farrar

Here’s the 16 most marginal seats according to iPredict.

  1. Port Hills – National and Labour both 50%
  2. Palmerston North – Labour 55%
  3. Te Tai Hauauru – Labour 60%
  4. Waimakariri – National 62%
  5. Hutt South – Labour 69%
  6. Te Atatu – Labour 69%
  7. Tamaki Makaurau – Labour 69%
  8. Te Tai Tokerau – Mana 70%
  9. Ohariu – United Future 75%
  10. Christchurch Central – Labour 75%
  11. Hamilton East – National 80%
  12. Waiariki – Maori 82%
  13. Maungakiekie – National 83%
  14. Napier – Labour 85%
  15. Wairarapa – National 85%
  16. Epsom – ACT 87%

The two most marginal seats are both Labour held. iPredict is predicting Labour pick up two Maori seats despite being marginally behind in the polls in them.

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A reader on Five Eyes

September 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

… one point that you might like to make is that it is true that New Zealanders are being subject to mass surveillance.  Multiple governments are listening to every phone call we make, every e-mail we send, and watching every website we visit.  But thanks to the “five eyes agreement” we know that the US, Canada, Britain and Australia are not on the list of governments.  But China, Japan, Russia, Korea, some of the ASEANs, Taiwan, Israel and some of the Arabs all have the capability and incentive to be listening in.  “Five eyes” helps ensure that all they are monitoring are our private conversations because of government communications are subject to the heaviest encryption around.  And “five eyes” keeps an eye on those doing the spying on us.

Of course our own domestic GCSB legislation means our own government is not allowed to monitor our private communications without a warrant.  Of course it is being picked up, every electronic communication in the world is being picked up.  But it cannot be read by our government or the four other partners.

There is no NSA presence in Auckland or north of Auckland.  They may sweep the US Consulate from time to time in the same way GCSB sweeps our Embassies around the world.  And they may have the occasional person seconded to NZ to work with GCSB as we have GCSB people seconded to DSD, GCHQ, NSA and the CSE.  If they are here they are working for GCSB while in NZ.

I note that many of those so worked up about the possiblility of the GCSB or NSA intercepting communications, were loud cheerleaders for the rights of criminals to hack bloggers and have that material published. They’re not very consistent.

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O’Sullivan on Dotcom

September 17th, 2014 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

John Key goes into the home straight of the election campaign with his integrity publicly intact after the Kim Dotcom fiasco and voters well placed to make a judgment when it comes to the Key Government’s management of the NZ economy.

Key has been roundly attacked for declassifying documents to prove his point that the GCSB has not been involved in widespread surveillance of New Zealanders.

Bizarrely, it is somehow seen as perfectly all right for Dotcom and his associates to use stolen National Security Agency files to try to prove the Prime Minister a liar on how his Government has administered national security, but not for Key to declassify New Zealand’s own files to prove he isn’t a liar.

This is utter madness.

It is madness. They claim a moral right to use stolen partial documents, and they complain when the Government responds by releasing documents to prove they are wrong.

Key saw Dotcom coming and released the Cabinet document which backed his statements before the Internet Party visionary’s Moment of Truth fiasco.

Key had intervened to stop a surveillance plan because it was too intrusive.

“There’s no ambiguity. No middle ground. I’m right. He’s wrong,” Key said.

Dotcom’s failure to produce a smoking gun to comprehensively prove Key lied over the circumstances of the US extradition moves against him did not surprise.

Far from comprehensively proving Key lied, he produced an e-mail that looks like something a not very bright five year old might try and pass off as a genuine e-mail.

Kim Dotcom has tried to hijack this election. I hope he fails.

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Large donations in 2014

September 17th, 2014 at 11:26 am by David Farrar

For those interested below are the totals of large donations to political parties in 2014. A large donation is one over $30,000. It includes the $1 million Kim Dotcom says he gave to the Internet Party prior to their formation and excludes donations from estates (as that is a donation vecause someone died, rather than a donation specifically made for this election).

  1. Internet Party (incl Internet Mana) $4,539,480
  2. Conservatives $1,736,000
  3. Maori $210,000
  4. ACT $201,000
  5. National $187,340
  6. Labour $164,999
  7. Greens $108,295

 

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Let’s ban bottle openers!

September 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christ’s College is perpetuating New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture by giving senior pupils a bottle-opener keyring at the school ball, an alcohol reform campaigner says.

The keyring, inscribed with “CC Ball 2014″, was given to the boys, mostly aged 17 or 18, at the ball on Saturday night. Girls were given lip balm.

National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman said the school was facilitating “the normalisation and glamourisation of heavy drinking” by presenting a collectable bottle opener.

“For the bottle opener to also be a keyring, which directly promotes a permissive attitude towards drink driving, raises the stakes of inappropriateness to top-shelf,” he said.

Christ’s College headmaster Simon Leese defended the gift, saying it was “almost laughable” someone would make an issue of it.

“Anybody can go into Briscoes, and anywhere else, and buy a bottle opener at any age. Frankly, this is a nonsense line of inquiry.”

I agree. I also point out that youth drinking rates have been falling for many years.

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IGIS says no indiscriminate interception of data

September 17th, 2014 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

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This screenshot is from Felix Marwick.

Ms Gwyn is a former Deputy Solictor-General and Deputy Secretary of Justice. Her appointment was made after consultation with Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee which includes Russel Norman and David Cunliffe.

And in case anyone thinks she is some ideological friend of the current Government, I would point out she was a member of the Young Socialists and was involved with the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, which included Nicky Hager and Keith Locke! I trust Ms Gwyn when she says she has not identified any indiscriminate interception of New Zealanders’ data.

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Should we keep juries for rape trials?

September 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Rape myths do the most damage when they show up among jurors – and for that reason, juries should not be part of sexual assault trials, Louise Nicholas says.

The anti-rape advocate believes jurors in such trials often bring their own biases and trauma about the crime into the courtroom.

“People go in with their own thinking. They may have been a victim of sex violence in their lifetime, and a lot of those people have their judgments, like I didn’t need a counsellor, I didn’t need to go through this.

“To take jurors out of the process is a huge step forward to abolishing rape myths.”

I’m massively against Labour’s policy to make people who have sex prove they are innocent of rape. Reversing the burden of proof is an horrific idea.

But I think there are more balanced arguments over whether rape trials should be with Judges only.

Nicholas was in Wellington to talk to Victoria University students about sexual assault and the justice system, days after Wellington police dropped a sexual assault inquiry into an incident outside Massey University last month.

Nicholas said false allegations of rape make it harder for victims. “We certainly do have women, in particular, who come forward because they’re pissed off about their boyfriend shagging their mate.”

The danger was that the public then started to assume all claims were false, she said. “It does put a stigma on other victims.”

Good to see Nicholas talk about the damage caused by false allegations. They harm actual rape victims.

The removal of jurors from rape trials was recommended by the Law Commission in 2012, but was rejected by the Government.

Acting Justice Minister Chris Finlayson said that the right to a jury trial was a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, but the re-traumatising of victims should not be.

“The Ministry of Justice is working on legislation to tighten the rules about questioning a complainant about previous sexual experiences, and establishing a presumption that child witnesses give their evidence via the video of their police interview.”

Which seem reasonable steps.

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General Debate 17 September 2014

September 17th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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10 reasons Dotcom’s e-mail is a fake

September 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Laila Harre continues to sell what is left of her tattered reputation down the drain by insisting the e-mail produced by Dotcom is real. It’s so real they can’t answer a single question on its legitimacy.

I doubt there is a single person in NZ who really thinks it is real, but in case there are some, here’s a few reasons to doubt it.

  1. Large US companies are required under US law (for legal discovery reasons) to have e-mail systems that archive all e-mails, and are independently stored so they can’t be deleted.
  2. The time stamp looks fake with no UTC reference
  3. The date is in NZ format, not US format
  4. No executive would ever send an e-mail detailing a conspiracy with a foreign government, to a lobby group
  5. The font and spacing is identical to what you get in the default mode of Notepad
  6. There was no separate meeting between the Warners CEO and John Key
  7. The dialogue in the e-mail is cartoonish, perfectly scripted to fit what Dotcom has claimed
  8. No detailed headers have been provided
  9. Even Dotcom’s lawyer won’t touch the e-mail – as he knows it could never be admitted in court
  10. Dotcom still won’t comment on the e-mail despite it being confirmed there is no Privileges Committee, so it can’t be before it.
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Flat Race 2014

September 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Jack Buchanan (who played Colin Craig and Jacinda Ardern in Destination Beehive at Circa) has done a six part satirical series on the election called Flat Race 2014.

This is the first episode. The other five episodes are here. They’re very good.

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Issues that matter: Welfare

September 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The fourth of my series looking at issues that I think most New Zealanders are interested in.

Child Abuse

 

In 2008 the number of child abuse notifications went up 11.4%. In the last 12 months they have declined 2%. Source MSD

child poverty

 

In 2007 there were 240,000 children in households defined as below the relative poverty line of 60% Fixed Line After Housing Costs. In 2013 this was slightly lower or static at 230,000. Source: MSD

jobseekers

 

Many go on welfare for short periods. I have. But job seekers who are unemployed for over a year can be a serious issue. In 2010 there were 77,689 unemployed for over a year and in 214 this has reduced to 68,932 – a 11.9% reduction. Source: MSD

Incomeadequ

 

The Stats NZ Household Economic Survey asks households if their income is adequate. In the year to June 2009 17.2% said they had inadequate income. In the year to June 2013 it was a lower 14.0%

Sole Parents

 

Research has shown that teenagers and young NZers who go on a benefit early often stay on for over a decade, and have a huge lifetime cost. In 2009 (typo in graph) there were 18,276 people under 25 on sole parent benefits. In 2014 this had reduced 16.8% to 16,506. Source: MSD

incomeineq

 

We hear quite a lot about income inequality. One measure is the ratio of income from those in the 10th or top decile to those in the lowest decile. In 2009 it was an 8.6 ratio and in 2013 it was an 8.3 ratio – showing a slight lessening in inequality on this measure. Source: MSD

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Eminem suing National

September 16th, 2014 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

Eminem’s publishers have announced:

In proceedings filed today in the Wellington Registry of the High Court of New Zealand, Eight Mile Style, LLC and Martin Affiliated, LLC, the Detroit-based publishers of Eminem’s copyrights, are seeking damages for copyright infringement against the New Zealand National Party. The proceedings stem from allegations that unauthorised use has been made of Eminem’s Grammy and Academy Award winning song, “Lose Yourself”, in election campaign advertising run by the National Party in the lead up to the 2014 New Zealand General Election which is to take place on 20 September 2014.

Joel Martin, speaking on behalf of the publishers, said: “The claim we have filed alleges copyright infringement. Eminem’s publishers were not approached for permission to use any of Eminem’s songs for this campaign advertisement. It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the 3 strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright. We do not hesitate to take immediate action to protect the integrity of Eminem’s works, particularly where a party, as here, has sought to associate itself with Eminem and his work.”

I guess it will come down to whether the song used by National was altered enough to be considered a new work.

Personally I think parties are best to avoid music that even slightly resembles an existing song.

UPDATE: The Herald reports:

In a statement, the National Party said it completely rejected the allegations the music used in its early campaign advertisements had infringed the copyright of any artist’s work.

“The National Party purchased the music in question from recognised production music supplier Beatbox, based in Australia and Singapore. The music was originally published by Spider Cues Music, a well-established Los Angeles-based provider of music to the film and entertainment industry.

“As with all works licensed by the Beatbox library music service, the National Party was assured the music in question did not infringe any copyright and was an original work.

“Furthermore, the music license and fee were arranged through the Australasian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (Apra/Amcos), who act as agents for Beatbox in Australia and New Zealand.

“These organisations exist to protect the rights of artists.

“Regardless, as our advertising was moving on to different material at the time of the complaint, over two weeks ago, we were able to accommodate the complaining artist and undertake not to continue using the track. However, this has not satisfied the complainant.”

The National Party said the song had been licensed multiple times both in Australia and New Zealand without issue or complaint.

That’s a pretty strong defence. Looks like it could be a beat up.

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Abbott in Arnhem

September 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, has moved into a tent in a far-flung stretch of Outback bushland to govern the nation for a week from a tiny Aboriginal community.

In an unprecedented move by an Australian leader, whose usual residence is a stately 1920s house in Canberra, Abbott has shifted the seat of government to the outskirts of Yirrkala, a remote Aboriginal township in Arnhem Land, northern Australia with a population of 843.

He will govern from a canvas tent – complete with secure phone and video lines for Cabinet meetings and calls to international leaders – and has brought with him some of the nation’s top civil servants, who are also staying in tents. …

The visit is also part of Abbott’s attempt to address the plight of the nation’s Aborigines, who have far higher rates of infant mortality, disease, imprisonment and poverty.

As an MP, Abbott frequently stayed in Aboriginal communities and he promised that if elected he would spend a week each year ruling from a remote indigenous township.

“For an entire week, Aboriginal people will have my full focus and attention as prime minister,” he said.

Abbott will also hold discussions this week on his plan for a nationwide referendum to change the constitution to recognise Aborigines as the nation’s first peoples.

But he has indicated that any such symbolic gestures of reconciliation should be accompanied by moves to improve the economic well-being of Australia’s 700,000-odd Aborigines.

What a smart way to get the media to focus on the plight of Australia’s Aborigines, and to stay grounded in the community.

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Is the Ministry of Health trying to increase smoking rates?

September 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Ordering nicotine-based e-cigarette products off the shelves is “ridiculous”, says a health official and respected anti-smoking campaigner.

Despite being illegal according to the Ministry of Health’s rules, e-cigarettes containing nicotine have been widely available over the counter in Auckland.

But in the past few weeks, the ministry has dispatched smoke-free enforcement officers to inform retailers such sales are prohibited.

The devices, which contain flavoured “e-liquid” with or without nicotine, emit a smoke-like vapour.

One of the major e-cigarette retailers, Shosha, said on Thursday it would get rid of its stock either this week or next week.

Public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen, who has been researching e-cigarettes since 2007, labelled the ministry’s decision “ridiculous” and said it would drive people back to smoking tobacco. He said e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes, a view shared by the World Health Organisation.

“The ministry itself says half of combustible cigarette smokers will die from smoking so what is being set up is a ridiculous policy which enables people to keep on smoking something which is going to kill them. It’s a crazy policy.”

Tobacco is indisputably lethal. E-cigarettes may have some minor health impacts, but if you can use them to get people off tobacco, then they’re a very good thing.

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Winston wants a Labour-NZ First Goverment

September 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve said for some time that Peters will ask Labour to block the Greens, so he can claim he has saved NZ from them, and this is looking likely. The Herald reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said today that voters should consider a Labour-New Zealand First as a potential alternative Government, not Labour and Greens, in what is the most definitive statement from him yet on post-election options.

That suggests that would keep the Green Party away from the cabinet table in any Labour-Led Government as he did in 2005.

If you vote Winston, you’ll get David Cunliffe as PM. It will be a Labour-NZ First Government but propped up by the Greens and Internet Mana.

 

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An interesting section of the Crimes Act

September 16th, 2014 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

A reader has pointed out Section 257 of the Crimes Act to me. It reads:

257 Using forged documents
  • (1)Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, knowing a document to be forged,—

    • (a)uses the document to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or

    • (b)uses, deals with, or acts upon the document as if it were genuine; or

    • (c)causes any other person to use, deal with, or act upon it as if it were genuine.

    (2)For the purposes of this section, a document made or altered outside New Zealand in a manner that would have amounted to forgery if the making or alteration had been done in New Zealand is to be regarded as a forged document.

If I were the CEO of Warners I’d be getting advice on laying a complaint with the NZ Police. Maybe Kim Dotcom should consider laying a complaint also, as he may be the innocent victim of a terrible forgery by the person who supplied the e-mail to him. I’m sure he’ll want a proper investigation into the e-mail.

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Fisher on Radio Live on the Warners e-mail

September 16th, 2014 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

Listen to David Fisher on Radio Live talking about the Warner’s e-mail. Some quotes:

He did not present it at the Town Hall. I think that is extraordinary that we have two and a half years of this … conspiracy theory against me and I’m going to present this evidence. Initially it was going to be at the extradition hearing and then he said it will be on September 15 … Dotcom spent two and a half years saying I’ll show you the evidence, and then not. …

I’ve been following thsi case right from the outset Sean and the feeling I’ve had, the belief I’ve had, my honest belief is that there is not a conspiracy theory. I don’t believe there is any evidence that shows Key knew about Dotcom prior to the raid in January 2012

Fisher is the author of Kim Dotcom’s biography.

Another interesting discussion is whether the Internet Party should declare the cost of the Moment of Truth as a campaign expense, and would this push them over the spending limit? Their expenses return is going to be very closely scrutinised and I’d be very nervous if I was the party secretary.

David Fisher said he has no doubt it should be treated as an expense for the Internet Party.  Plunket also interviewed Andrew Geddis on this issue.

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Consultation: Demerits and Suspensions

September 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The current demerits and suspension system works okay, but I think people get too many chances, and also it is rather complicated to keep track of all the demerits. Basically at the moment you get between 10 and 100 demerits for an unacceptable comment and everytime you make 100 you get suspended – initially for one week, and doubling each time you get to 100 again.

I’d like feedback on some possible changes.

Replace demerits with warnings and strikes

Rather than have a subjective number of demerit points, just have an unacceptable comment count as a strike, and one that verges on unacceptable count as a warning.

Three strikes and you’re out

If someone gets three strikes, then they are suspended.

Once suspended, all further strikes will lead to a suspension

After a suspension, then a further strike is a automatic further suspension. Warnings can still be given for borderline stuff, but clearly unacceptable content is an automatic suspension

Carry on current regime of doubling suspension periods

This would mean the following

  1. Strike 1 – no suspension
  2. Strike 2 – no suspension
  3. Strike 3 – one week suspension
  4. Strike 4 – two weeks suspension
  5. Strike 5 – one month suspension
  6. Strike 6 – two month suspension
  7. Strike 7 – three month suspension
  8. Strike 8 – six month suspension
  9. Strike 9 – one year suspension
  10. Strike 10 – permanent ban

An amnesty

As from 1 October there would be a new system, all current suspensions and demerits are wiped, and everyone starts with a blank slate.

Welcome feedback on the proposed changes. From my point of view it would be much easier to just record what strike someone is one, rather than the rather complicated demerit system. It is also less subjective.

Can I also say I’m really pleased with the report abusive comment usage. Readers have responded really well to this, reporting a couple of dozen abusive comments and hiding them from view quickly.  In only one case has there been an inappropriate reporting..

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