General Debate 21 July 2016

July 21st, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Who needs guns – trucks and axes will do

July 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Some people say there will be less terrorism is there is less easy access to guns – especially in the US. While I do support greater gun control restrictions in the US, I don’t think it will make it greatly harder for people to do mass killings. We saw around 80 killed in France with a truck and now 18 injured in Bavaria with an axe.

Stuff reports:

An axe-wielding attacker who went on a rampage on a train in Germany, injuring up to 18 people, was a 17-year-old Afghan youth, authorities say.

The attack occurred in Heidingsfeld in the German state of Bavaria late on Monday (local time), injuring some passengers critically, a police spokesman said.

Eyewitnesses said the youth attempted to run from the scene after the attack, according to reports. It was understood he was shot and killed by police. …

The youth shouted “Allahu Akhbar”- Arabic for “God is great” – before he was shot, two German security officials said.

Bavarian Interior Ministry officials described the attacker as an Afghan national who had arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied refugee.

The officials said it was not yet clear whether the incident was an act of terrorism.

When someone attacks multiple strangers and yells out “Allahu Akhbar”, then pretty safe to say it is an act of terrorism. I doubt there are any two words that are now more terrifying to hear someone yell out aloud.

Who killed UK Labour?

July 20th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Cohen writes:

Seumas Milne remains on the staff of the Guardian and Observer while Labour pays him to work as its director of strategy. As a colleague on leave, he has the right to be treated with a gentleness journalists would not usually extend to spin doctors who do not enjoy his advantages. I therefore write with the caution of a good corporate man and the cheeriness of a co-worker when I say Milne could not do a better job of keeping the Tories in power if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.

Yep the hard left managed to take over Labour, and are on their way to destroying it.

He is what the far left becomes when it crashes through the looking glass. Milne defended Stalin’s one-party communist state but is now turning England into a one-party Tory state.

Great line.

Jon Lansman, head of Momentum backed him and declared in words that should be engraved on his tomb that “winning is the small bit that matters to elites that want to keep power themselves”. Only a smug member of the haute bourgeoisiecould come out with such a reckless justification for perpetual rightwing rule.

Heh never heard winning as being the small bit before.

Millions want the parliamentary opposition Labour’s founders promised. They need it now when the right has taken the opportunity the far left has gifted them to go on the rampage. There is one prediction about the Labour party I can make, however: if Corbyn does not go, and Labour does not change, it is inevitable that the whiff of violence will be replaced by the stench of its death.

The latest poll in the UK shows that May vs Corbyn would see the Conservatives get 44% and Labour 26%.

On who would be better for the economy May and Hammond get 53% and Corbyn and McDonnell get 15%.

Type 1 diabetes

July 20th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

An interview in 2014 with Theresa May over her Type 1 diabetes:

Despite showing the classic diabetes symptoms, Home Secretary Theresa May put them down to her hectic schedule during the London 2012 Games. Now diagnosed with Type 1, she reveals how she hasn’t let the condition affect her demanding role.

When she came down with a heavy cold in November 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May’s first thought was that she should get it checked out by her GP. Her husband had just had a similar cold that had developed into bronchitis, so it made sense for her to get it looked at before the same thing happened to her. But she had no idea that this was a visit to the GP that would change her life forever.

While she was there, she mentioned to her GP that she had recently lost a lot of weight, though she hadn’t thought much about it and had put it down to “dashing about” in her role as Home Secretary. But the GP decided to do a blood test anyway. Suddenly, she was being told that she had diabetes.

The news came as a shock, though looking back she realises she had some of theclassic symptoms. As well as the weight loss, she was drinking more water than usual and making more frequent trips to the bathroom. But, it wasn’t something she thought about much at the time. “That summer was the Olympics, so life was in a different order,” she says. “There was a lot more going on, so I didn’t really notice.”

She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but, when the medication didn’t work she went for further tests and, eventually, the news came back that she had Type 1.

“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it,” she says, reflecting the popular misconception that only younger people get diagnosed with Type 1. In fact, one in five people diagnosed with Type 1 are over 40 when they develop it. “But, then my reaction was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to inject’ and thinking about what that would mean in practical terms.”

The change in diagnosis meant switching from taking tablets to two insulin injections per day, which has now increased to four. And while she was already aware of the condition – a cousin developed it as a teenager – like anyone with diabetes, she had to quickly learn what managing it meant in practical terms.

Shows that you can do a very demanding job, even with diabetes.

Who makes the laws – Police or Parliament?

July 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A stoush is brewing between Wellington bar owners and police over lockout laws.

Bar owners around the Courtenay Place nightlife hub have accused police of trying to “force” a one-way door policy on the capital’s party precinct by objecting to every 4am licence renewal.

Hospitality New Zealand Wellington regional manager Dylan Firth said police had approached many licensees and indicated that, if they did not accept conditions, police would oppose the licence renewal, and the licensee would have to go to a hearing, racking up considerable legal costs.

More outrageous behaviour from the Police. Their submissions on licences should be focused on the track record and behaviour of the licensee, not on what hours they open.

The Police submitted to both Parliament and the local Council wanting an earlier closing time for bars. Their views were heard, and the democratically elected MPs and Councillors voted for a 4 am closing time.

But not content with this, the Police are effectively trying to bully bars into closing earlier, trying to have their licenses removed unless they comply. This is awful behaviour. Again the Police should only be submitting on how well the licensee complies with the law.

Police had made it clear they intended to seek a one-way door condition on each new on-licence application, and each on-licence renewal, in the Wellington CBD, he said.

A one-way door policy would stop anyone entering a bar after a set time, such as 2am or 3am. Those already inside at the cutoff time would be allowed to stay until the 4am closing time.

An issue which was again considered carefully by Parliament and the Wellington City Council. They heard all the evidence and decided that a one way door policy would cause more harm than good. But the Police know better than the law makers, so they use their special position to try and have their will imposed.

Nick Mills, whose family employs 160 people in its group of businesses including Bettys, Public, Hummingbird, Boston, Edison’s Superette, The Tasting Room and Spruce Goose, said Courtenay Place was nothing like it used to be, and a one-way door policy would be detrimental to business, as it had been in Sydney.

“No-one is thinking about the hundreds of workers who will have to start again when a business shuts.”

The legal battle to renew a licence for Siglo saw him spend eight times more than it would usually cost for a licence, he said.

“Places like Edison’s only open two nights a week, and paying for the legal fees for a licence would cost at least 50 per cent of its profit for a year. It’s ludicrous.”

He never had a problem with the police before, and thought of them as allies.

“I don’t think they should oppose [bar] owners trying to renew a licence when they have an exemplary history in the industry. They are trying to change the law by force.”

I think it is time for the Police to be hauled into line. If necessary the law should be changed, so the only issues they can submit on to licensing authorities is the track record of the licensee in obeying the law.

Another Councillor stands against Celia

July 20th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

And then there were eight.

Veteran city councillor Andy Foster has added his name to what is becoming a very congested field in the race for Wellington’s mayoralty.

Foster, the council’s transport and urban development committee chairman, said he threw his hat in the ring because he felt the capital had lacked leadership for some years, and had been making too many “ad-hoc” decisions.

When he looked at the other seven people who have publicly declared they will run for mayor, he did not see a lot of those required leadership qualities, he said.

So Andy is saying the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Wellington don’t have leadership qualities, nor does the Mayor of Porirua.

Foster said he had been contemplating a mayoral run for the past couple of months.

The Karori-based councillor will also contest a council seat in Onslow-Western, a ward where he has held a comfortable vote margin for some time.

Foster has stood for the mayoralty once before, in 2001, but has been largely content to act as a councillor during his 24 years of serving Wellington city.

Personal reasons played a part in his decision to challenge for the top job once again, he said. Foster’s son and daughter are now aged 13 and 11, and are old enough for him to be able to devote a bit more time to his political career.

Six of the eight mayoral candidates currently occupy a seat around the Wellington City Council table, meaning more than the third of existing councillors are now eyeing up a promotion.

When a third of the Council challenges the Mayor for the top job, it shows things aren’t good.

I’m just glad we have STV so we can rank our candidates – otherwise someone might win on 15% of the vote!

Trump now the official nominee

July 20th, 2016 at 11:49 am by David Farrar

Politico reports:

Donald Trump is presumptive nominee no more.

The New York delegation put Trump over the 1,237-delegate threshold necessary to claim the Republican Party’s presidential nomination during a roll call vote on the floor of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday. Convention rules permitted the delegation from Trump’s home state, which initially passed when called to announce its votes, to go out of order during the alphabetical roll call vote of states and territories.

Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., announced the 89 delegates from New York that the real estate mogul needed to clinch the nomination nearly an hour after voting began.

“It is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight with 89 delegates,” Trump Jr. said. “Congratulations, Dad. We love you.”

Speaking to CNN’s Dana Bash moments later, Trump Jr. called it “one of the most surreal moments” of his life to nominate his father.

“I mean it’s incredible. I mean, one of the most surreal moments of my life other than the birth of my children,” he said. “I’ve watched him work so hard on this and speak to so many real people who were just feeling left out and left in the dark here in New York and all over the country, and to be able to do that is just, you know, it’s historic. It’s awesome.”

Trump received 1,725 votes from delegations, Cruz 484, Kasich 125 and Rubio 123.

538 now has Trump at a 39% probability to win the election and become President. They have Clinton ahead in the popular vote by just 2.9% and her lead in the electoral college as 56 electors. Florida is worth 29 electoral votes and Clinton leads there by just 0.7%.

Should we be giving aid money to countries with a space programme?

July 20th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Taxpayers Union pointed out:

The Taxpayers’ Union is questioning why NZ Aid money, meant to help the world’s poorest, is being used to support countries and governments with their own space programs. The figures (see below) show that since 2010 more than $214 million of taxpayer money has been given to countries rich enough to fund their own space ambitions.

If a foreign government has enough cash to invest in ambitious space programmes, it should not expect to be receiving cash from New Zealand taxpayer which is earmarked for helping the world’s poorest.

No surprise that I agree. Redirect that aid money to pacific countries.

Mark Mitchell on NZ Police shootings

July 20th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mark Mitchell wrote on Facebook:

Whilst a Police Officer in Rotorua my colleagues and I were confronted with a similar situation as the one Rotorua Police staff were confronted with yesterday. At the forefront of a Police Officers decision making process often while events are unfolding quickly is always Public safety. An offender armed with a machete and high on drugs could kill or inflict serious injury on an unsuspecting member of the Public very quickly. On the face of it the Officers involved acted quickly, professionally and with courage to ensure no member of the Public was killed or seriously injured.

In relation to the way our Media report these incidents. I acknowledge that headlines sell papers, but the type of headline like the one below is not helpful when considering the type of stress and tension we are currently witnessing in the U.S.

I am proud of our NZ Police service. Having trained and worked with Law Enforcement agency’s globally I have no doubt we have one of the best trained and most professional Police Services in the World.

In my own electorate of Rodney, when I don’t see them in a Police Uniform, I see them on school boards of trustees, administrating sports clubs, surf clubs, Lions clubs, volunteering at locals events, running programmes for youth In their own time, and just getting on and raising their family’s.

Their children, mothers, fathers, husbands wives , Friends and community’s deserve better than a headline like this.

The headline Mitchell was referring to was “Police ‘cold blooded killers’ – girlfriend”. Why they give such prominence to her views, when they are not backed by any evidence, is of course about selling papers or clickbait.

His post has gone viral, being shared 285 times and viewed around 100,000 times.

4th hand sources

July 20th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Fairfax has been running a story for several days that alleged very senior China official were threatening a trade war with New Zealand because of a complaint with MBIE about steel imports allegedly being dumped in NZ.

One of the so called sources has clarified in NBR that in fact he could find little substance to it:

The star witness in the China trade war rumours that has erupted over the past couple of days says the story is a dud.

Former trade negotiator Charles Finny says he was quoted out of context in a Sunday Star Times story alleging China is pressuring for an investigation into steel dumping to be dropped – and that his own investigations indicated the rumour was baseless.

The editor asked Mr Finny to ring around. He duly obliged. But when he called contacts he had made during his time with Prime Minister’s Department, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the former China FTA negotiator drew a blank. No one had heard rumours of any China pressure on exporters on exporters – bar one source in the Beehive who had heard that the topic had been raised with an exporter in China but by a person at a Chamber of Commerce-type organisation.

So this seemed to be the basis of a major story which gave the impression that the Chinese Government at senior levels was planning trade restrictions.

A later story in Stuff claims vindication on the basis that Zespri knew of the approach. But look closely at the actual details:

In a major backdown, the Government confirms it was told a Chinese industry body had approached a New Zealand exporter, venting anger over a complaint against alleged steel dumping practices. 

But Trade Minister Todd McClay says Mofcom – China’s trade ministry equivalent – has denied any knowledge that an approach occurred. 

So the allegation is that someone from a Chinese industry body made a threat, not the Government (which knows nothing of it). But again look at the actual details:

Zespri released a statement following McClay’s comments, saying it’s local staff in Beijing received “unsubstantiated information” from an industry body in China on “purported industry consultations related to the import of New Zealand agricultural  products”.

So a local Zespri staff member received some unsubstantiated information from an industry body, and this is the basis of the entire front page story.

This is like saying that because someone from Federated Farmers says they have heard some gossip about what the NZ Government will do, that this is proof the Government is planning a trade war.

The story was worth reporting, but not in the way it was. I think the original story was quite misleading as to the source of the so called threat, and that it represented the view of the Chinese Government. The original story said:

China has threatened “retaliatory measures” against New Zealand trade, warning it will slow the flow of dairy, wool and kiwifruit imports. …

But somehow, China learned of the application – and it is taking retaliatory action.

In the past week, representatives of New Zealand’s biggest export industries have been called in by Chinese officials, and told to exert their influence to make sure the MBIE investigation does not go ahead.

Those paragraphs are not supported by the facts now emerged. China is not taking retaliatory measures. No representatives have been called in by Chinese officials, and there is no demand the investigation does not go ahead. The far less sensational story is that a Chinese industry body said that they had heard there was an investigation.

My suspicion is that the story was fed to the Sunday Star-Times by NZ First, and they ran it on the basis of a fourth hand verification that someone heard someone from someone.

As I said the story was worth reporting, but the way they do so was over the top. What is annoying is they won’t admit their original story was overblown. Here’s their latest:

Dairy giant Fonterra told Government officials  it had been approached by Chinese commerce representatives, warning of reprisals if they did anything to compromise Chinese steel imports.

It’s the latest revelation in a series of about-turns about the Government’s knowledge of Chinese threats of a wider trade war.

Fairfax are desperately trying to keep the story alive, but again read beyond the first two sentences.

Fonterra director for global stakeholder affairs Phil Turner said there had been “rumours on the ground that Fonterra concluded were simply that – unsubstantiated rumours“.

“Fonterra has not received any threats, has not been approached by the Chinese Government, and does not have any information related to the rumours which includes the source of the initial speculation.”

What is amazing is that their own story contradicts them. They start claiming vindication and keep using the language of warning of reprisals, and the actual quotes from Fonterra say quite the opposite.

General Debate 20 July 2016

July 20th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Lee should resign

July 20th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland councillor is using money from his own back pocket to take to the airwaves and criticise the decision to drop trains to the airport.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, Councillor Mike Lee’s 30 second radio commercial aired across five stations all owned by NZME.

Lee, who sits on the board of Auckland Transport, says in the commercial that rail to the airport has long been a priority for the city with a “longstanding commitment to route protection”.

However, last month the boards of Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency voted to eliminate it as an option in favour of light rail or a bus option.

This is a disgraceful move by Lee and he should resign off the board of Auckland Transport immediately.

It is untenable to have a company director run advertisements attacking the company he is a director of.

If Lee was not on the board of Auckland Transport, then as a Councillor he can of course criticise their decisions. But as he is also on the board, he can not. If as a director you feel so strongly the board has made the wrong decision, you resign.

It is untenable to be on the board of a company and run advertisements attacking it. The Council should sack him immediately from the board.

Farce at the Republican convention

July 19th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

Delegates opposed to Donald Trump’s nomination claimed to have gathered enough signatures from their colleagues to force a vote on the convention’s rules. Those rules include a measure “binding” delegates to their presidential candidates, meaning most of them are required to vote for Trump to be the nominee whether they want to or not.

If the rules had been rejected by the convention, delegates would have been free to vote “with their conscience” instead, throwing Trump’s nomination into serious doubt. …

To prompt a roll-call vote on the floor of the convention, the rebel faction needed signatures from a majority of the delegates in seven states. They appeared to have surpassed that threshold, with the delegations from Colorado, Washington, Virginia, D.C., Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Wyoming and Utah on board, when Congressman Steve Womack, who was serving as convention chair, appeared on stage.

Instead of announcing a roll-call vote, however, Womack simply asked the delegates to shout “yea” or “nea”, before quickly announcing the rules had passed and abandoning the stage. …

The secretary of the convention, who normally would have received the delegates’ petition, reportedly went into hiding in an effort to avoid it before the vote. Meanwhile, Trump’s aides moved around the floor trying to force delegates to remove their signatures.

The secretary was hiding behind a curtain with armed guards, so he couldn’t receive the petition. What a farce.


Would those signing have him in their community?

July 19th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A petition for an autistic man held in an isolated wing of a mental health unit has garnered more than 2000 signatures in a day.

The family of Ashley Peacock, 38, launched their latest bid to see him moved to a community facility on Sunday, by calling for Health Minister Jonathan Coleman to intervene in their son’s case. …

The petition is calling for the Mr Coleman to intervene under Section 32 of the Public Health and Disability Act 2000.

“We request that Ashley Peacock be urgently relocated to an individualised service in the community with appropriate levels of support, with a clear time frame,” it said.

So far the Government has defended Ashley’s treatment, saying his case is “complicated” and safety was paramount.

The Capital and Coast District Health Board has previously said he had some of the “highest and most complex needs” and had issues with unpredictable violence.

I have sympathy for Peacock’s family. No one would want to see a family member locked up 22 hours a day.

However if Peacock does have unpredictable violent outbursts, the DHB does have a responsibility to staff and other patients to keep them safe.

The status quo looks pretty horrible, as being locked up 22 hours a day may be making his condition even worse. But finding a safe solution is I imagine very challenging.

It is easy to sign a petition as 2,000 people have done. They are demanding he be placed in the community. Would they be willing to have Mr Peacock in their community, or do they mean someone else’s community?

UK votes for Trident

July 19th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

The debate on Trident opened with Theresa May’s first appearance at the dispatch box as Prime Minister. It was an ideal way to start, given that not only was the Government on her side, but almost all of the Opposition.

Little more than five minutes had passed before a Labour MP (John Woodock, Barrow and Furness) leapt up to denounce the anti-Trident stance of his leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Mrs May welcomed this intervention, and quoted Labour’s official view on Trident, which is firmly pro.

British politics in 2016, ladies and gentlemen: a Tory PM approvingly quotes Labour policy, while a Labour leader argues against it.

Corbyn demands loyalty, but won’t even be loyal to his own party’s policy.

The SNP, who shared Mr Corbyn’s opposition to Trident, asked Mrs May if she was really prepared “to launch a nuclear strike that could kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women and children?”

“Yes,” replied Mrs May, without hesitation. “Wow!” gasped the SNP benches theatrically, pretending to be shocked – as if they’d expected her to say, “Heavens, no. Our enemies must understand that if they attack us, I would never fire back!” 

Which is Corbyn’s policy.

Mr Corbyn spoke next. It was some spectacle: the Labour leader arguing one way, his MPs disagreeing.

“My honourable friend is very fond of telling us that party conference is sovereign when it comes to policy,” snapped Angela Smith (Lab, Penistone and Stockbridge).

“Last year, conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of maintaining the nuclear deterrent!” Other Labour MPs cheered.

If Corbyn hangs onto the leadership, I have no doubt Labour will split.


Property investors will need a 40% deposit

July 19th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Property investors will need a 40 per cent deposit under tough new restrictions revealed today.

The new rules are being urgently introduced in an attempt to put a lid on New Zealand’s spiralling property prices.

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler has outlined the new rules this morning, and told banks they will be expected to act immediately.

The new loan-to-value ratios (LVRs) would take effect on September 1, but the Reserve Bank wants banks to “observe the spirit of the new restrictions” in the lead-up to the new policy.

The rules are:

• Restrictions for investor lending extended from nationwide from Auckland only
• Banks will be forced to require a 40 per cent deposit – up from 30 per cent – for at least 95 per cent of the loans they make in this area.

Home buyers
• Restrictions for owner-occupier lending extended from Auckland to nationwide.
• Required deposit level remains at 20 per cent for at least 90 per cent of bank lending.

It will be interesting to see how much impact this has. The large property investors may have enough capital that this won’t impact them greatly.

Wellington Greens in fantasy land

July 19th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cheaper bus fares, slower speed limits, free Wi-Fi and a renewed push for light rail in Wellington are among the election carrots being dangled by the region’s Green Party local body candidates.

Party-affliated councillors from across the region have revealed what will the top of their agenda if re-elected in October.

Greater Wellington regional councillors Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley said they would push for a 25 per cent discount on off-peak bus fares as well as a 50 per cent off-peak discount for students. …

Kedgley said introducing light rail in Wellington and replacing the city’s “polluting, noisy diesel buses” with modern electric buses within a decade would also be a top priority.

A previous story from 2013 reported:

The cost of a light rail system for Wellington has skyrocketed to nearly a billion dollars, with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown now conceding it looks unrealistic in the near future.

A detailed business case for light rail between Wellington Railway Station and Kilbirnie was made public for the first time today.

It put the cost of building the network at $940 million, largely because it would require its own tunnel through Mt Victoria.

This is the problem with the Greens. They never let reality get in the way of their ideas.

Rational people would say sure we’d love light rail but the cost is unaffordable.  Their fantasy would cost $10,000 per household.

Even worse the light rail proposal would produce very low level of benefits, compared to a bus rapid transit system. The benefit cost ratio for light rail is a minuscule 0.05 or a benefit of $1 for every $20 spent.

This is what the Greens are demanding for Wellington. Spend $1 billion to get a benefit of $50 million. Per household that is take $10,000 per household and get a benefit of $500 back!

What will Australia do?

July 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Support may be building for Helen Clark’s bid to head the United Nations as John Key talks up her prospects of emerging the compromise candidate.

Clark has long been considered a frontrunner for the job based on her credentials, and shored up that position after being widely rated the winner of a debate with other contenders last week.

To win Clark has to overcome three critical hurdles – a prevailing view that it’s Eastern Europe’s “turn” to lead the UN; winning the backing of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the P5), any of which can veto a candidate in order to promote their own pick and, finally, the winning candidate won’t necessarily be chosen on merit, but on the basis of horse-trading between the so-called P5.

It is hard to see why Russia would support a candidate not from Eastern Europe, and it has a veto. Clark’s chances are based on that no Eastern European candidate is acceptable.

At present she is second with the bookies, with Bokova still deemed most likely.

But Clark now faces another potential obstacle — former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has finally been forced into the open as a potential contender, after denying for months that he wanted the job.

The country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, confirmed on Monday the new Australian Cabinet would consider whether to nominate Rudd this week.

Rudd also believes he can be the compromise candidate, and is said to have been on the international circuit for months lobbying governments for their backing on that basis.

Australia would have to renege on a previous deal to back Clark if it nominates Rudd – former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott promised his support for Clark’s candidacy and even gave Key a letter promising her Australia’s backing.

But that’s not Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest headache – Rudd is widely disliked in Australian politics, with fellow politicians, and media, lining up to lambast his bid.

One Australian politician labelled him “dysfunctional”, “vengeful”, “unstable” and “megalomaniac”, while another made the comment “Kevin’s ego makes Donald Trump’s look like a rounding error”.

Even the fiercely parochial Australian media are urging Turnbull to back Clark over Rudd.

Normally a country would automatically back one of their own, and especially a former PM, for any international role. But it speaks volumes about Rudd that so many are hesitant.

Will IOC ban Russia?

July 19th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

With the Rio Games less than three weeks away, the International Olympic Committee on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) promised “the toughest sanctions available” after a report found Moscow had concealed the positive doping tests of athletes in many sports in the run-up to the Sochi Winter games.

The IOC did not spell out whether it would heed growing calls for Olympic bans already imposed on Russia’s track and field athletes and weightlifters to be extended to all its competitors in Rio.

But IOC President Thomas Bach said the independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation had revealed “a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games”.

“Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated.”

WADA itself explicitly urged the IOC to consider banning Russia from the Rio Olympics altogether.

The WADA-backed report confirmed allegations made by former Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov, who two months ago told the New York Times that dozens of Russians used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with approval from national sports authorities.

It said the catalyst for the development of a system to conceal widespread doping had been Russia’s performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, where a country that cherishes its status as a sporting superpower finished 11th, with only three gold medals.

“The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow Laboratory in processing and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games,” said the report, unveiled in Toronto.

Russia should be banned until the state sponsored doping programme is independently verified as having ended. It obviously extended beyond just athletics, so only banning the track and field team makes little sense. As the IAAF have done the right thing, let’s hope the IOC does also.

There will always be some athletes that dope and try to get away with it. The difference here is that the entire programme was endorsed by the state, and in fact run by the state.

The report was led by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, who had sat on the independent commission that last year exposed widespread doping and corruption in Russian track and field, leading to its exclusion from international competition.

He said Russia’s Sports Ministry had overseen the manipulation of athletes’ analytical results for years before Sochi.

“The State implemented a simple failsafe strategy,” the report said. “If all the operational precautions to promote and permit doping by Russian athletes proved to have been ineffective for whatever reason, the laboratory provided a failsafe mechanism.

“The State had the ability to transform a positive analytical result into a negative one by ordering that the analytical process of the Moscow Laboratory be altered.”

In Sochi itself, where international observers were scrutinising the drug tests, positive results could not simply be brushed away, so a system of sample-swapping was put in place with the help of the FSB intelligence service, the report said.

Rodchenkov had spoken of a clandestine night-time operation in which he said staff secretly took urine samples from the lab via a “mouse hole” cut into a wall, and replaced them with clean samples taken from the same athlete months earlier and sometimes manipulated.

Such an operation was only possible as it was government sanctioned.

Death Penalty or EU membership

July 19th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

European Union foreign ministers urged Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) to respect the law and human rights in dealing with defeated coup plotters, warning that reinstating the death penalty would likely end Ankara’s EU membership bid.

After a breakfast in Brussels with US Secretary of State John Kerry, the ministers condemned the weekend coup attempt in a common EU statement, but expressed alarm at Erdogan’s public comments on Sunday (Monday NZT) that there could be no delay in using capital punishment.

“The EU recalls that the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential element of the union acquis,” ministers said, referring to the body of EU law that underpins the bloc.

The statement was agreed by all 28 EU ministers, including new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned successfully for Britons to vote to leave the bloc, attending his first EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

Germany, Austria and France also warned separately that bringing back the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004, would undo years of membership talks that began in 2005.

“Reintroduction of the death penalty would prevent successful negotiations to join the EU,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a position echoed by his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in less direct terms.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini noted that Turkey was a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, which bans capital punishment across the continent.

It will be interesting to see what Erdogan does. Being able to join the EU has been an ambition for Turkey for many years, and will he want to walk away from that?

Having said that, the chance of membership in the foreseeable future is minimal. A few years ago there was considerable support for Turkey being able to join, but since then freedom of speech and other aspects of democracy have been whittled away.

Quote of the week

July 19th, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.”

– Sir Karl Popper

The quote of the week is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.


General Debate 19 July 2016

July 19th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Inflation remains low

July 19th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Borrowers appear set to see even lower interest rates in the wake of lower than expected inflation.

On Monday Statistics New Zealand revealed that the consumer price index (CPI) rose by a less than expected 0.4 per cent in the year to June 30.

With the Reserve Bank forecasting that inflation would be 0.6 per cent, economists now see the central bank as odds-on to cut the official cash rate to 2 per cent on August 11, a new all time low.

Westpac, which was already forecasting an August cut, said market pricing of financial products suggested there was now an 80 per cent chance that the Reserve Bank would cut the OCR on August 11, up from 70 per cent before the figures were released.

So long as one doesn’t have deflation, I think low inflation is great.

In the last three years prices overall have risen just 2.5% over three years. While from 2005 to 2008 prices went up 9.5%.

Will Australia support Rudd

July 18th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Elizabeth Farrelly writes in the SMH:

We really need to talk about Kevin. Our choice is between a wildly inexperienced but bumptious male and a wise, experienced female, respected, accomplished, fit-for-purpose. But really, is this even a contest?

I’m not talking Trump v Clinton (although if the cap fits, right?) I’m talking Kevin Rudd v Helen Clark, vying for UN Secretary-General. …

If Malcolm had just one act left, one wave-of-the-wand to restore Australia’s tattered image as a grown-up nation, it should be this. Transcend national rivalry. Forget the Bledisloe Cup, won by NZ 43 times of 55. Be big. Support Helen Clark for Secretary-General. 

There is significant opposition to a nomination for Rudd in Australia. The SMH reports:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in April that Mr Rudd was behaving like a pest, and should take up a more normal retirement hobby “and play golf or buy a caravan“.

“Kevin was never happy just running Australia. He believed he was always destined to run the world,” Mr Dutton said. “Kevin’s ego makes Donald Trump’s look like a rounding error.”

Quote of the week.

Republican vs Democrat policy platforms

July 18th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting article in the Guardian comparing the policy platforms being adopted by the Republicans and Democrats

Immigration – Democrats want a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants while Republicans will build a wall,

LGBTI – Democrats support same sex marriages, GOP defends “natural marriage” and embraces “conversion therapy”

Environment – Republicans praise coal, Democrats want to reduce greenhouse gases 80% by 2050

Washington DC – Democrats want DC to become a state, Republicans don’t

Porn – Republicans see pornography as a “public health crisis”