Santiago Day 2

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

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This is the exterior of the boutique hotel we were at.

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A few blocks away was the Cerro Santa Lucía. A great area to visit, and get excellent views from.

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After the initial climb, then some flat park like area.

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We were going to pop into the Castillo Hidalgo, but there were Police everywhere. It seems a meeting of Latin American Finance Ministers was being held there.

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The entrance to the Castillo Hidalgo.

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Then another steep climb to the top.

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A great view of the city from here.

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Sadly there is graffiti everywhere, including on the plants!

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A little ancient church on the hill.

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Many of the Police around this area are on horseback. A majority of the officers are female, or at least the ones we saw.

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Neptune’s Terrace towards the far end. Very beautiful.

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And at the entrance at the far end.

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This park stretches for several blocks, and is a popular place to relax.

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It has one of their many museums and art galleries in it.

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More of the park area.

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A fountain and statue to Rubén Darío. He was a famous Latin American poet.

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And the front of the fountain that is near out hotel. Took around three hours to do both parks, plus an art gallery.

 

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GANGNAM Style: Visiting North & South Korea 2014. Part 1

October 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

My eldest son lives and works in South Korea, and recently we got an opportunity to visit there as well as North Korea. Despite being well-travelled it was actually my first visit to Asia so I jumped at the chance (North Korea fascinates and appalls me). So, swinging in both wives and two Off Springs, it afforded an occasion to post some reflections by Kiwis and an American in our party of five on ‘Megasia’ in the style of DPF’s yak haul up to Base Camp earlier this year. The Marathon Runner followed me to parliament, so here’s some reverse serendipidy in the spirit of Political Hack (not Yak) Travel Blogginess.

We used Incheon as base camp (Incheon is kind of a whole separate city suburb of Seoul, with its own International airport). Here is a typical street scene.

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Obviously the first thing that strikes you in Asia, is it is very busy. Incheon is also very young; lots of twittering yooths and fashionable androgenous lovelies. Young Koreans ape western fashions, hairstyles and looks to-the-max. There are actually seminars and forums on how to ‘look more western.’ This tends to result in boys looking like girls, and vice versa, or like Justin Bieber (who is neither), but I understand that is actually desirable today. Gender is so passé and nineties. Queue the 2014 man/woman Labour nominee for Whangarei Kelly Ellis, or the opening monologue of the Capaldi Dr Who [Strax on the ambivalence of gender].

I suppose this is symptomatic of living in a massive culture where conformity is everything. Contrary to western prejudice, all Asians do not look the same; that is just ignorant. My son can tell Japanese, Koreans, Chinese and Malaysians apart. They are also very competitive, as much as Aussie and Kiwis are (who do look the same).

Breakfast with my wives at the posh hotel (Benikea Incheon Royal Hotel, I know, sounds posh, aye?) and I’m hit immediately by the courtesy and customer service orientation (not a sexuality) of all Koreans. But Engerish is still a problem.

“Serial” instead of cereal at breakfast written in perfect calligraphic penmanship and slotted in to a golden holder amid the virgin white napkins. This (inevitably) prompted a polite English Teacher “see me” guidance and correction on a napkin handed respectfully to the Consiergé so-as not to embarrass. Can’t help myself.

Hilarimouse Engerish abounds. Not wishing to be superior or disparaging…[Tune in for Part 2 soon].

Below: Something odd for breakfast. When traveling I am adventurous (more on that later). These actually turned out to be lychees, so not so weird after all.
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NZ has highest wealth growth

October 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand has topped the global charts for wealth growth between 2000 and 2014, according to a report by Credit Suisse.

The Global Wealth report said favourable exchange rates meant the median wealth per adult in New Zealand grew by more than 300 per cent, with Australia a close second.

New Zealand had one of the biggest jumps in currency growth against the greenback in 2013-14, up 8 per cent.

In constant currency terms, however, New Zealand’s wealth grew much more modestly, just over 100 per cent and in line with countries like Kuwait.

Not too bad.

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Dear Dita – Nz voted in 2012 to recognise Palestine

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

Dita De Boni writes:

If New Zealand becomes a member of the UN Security Council early tomorrow, hoping to get a pay-off for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in schmoozing we’ve done to get there, let us see how much of an independent voice we will retain. …

Nevertheless, if we get there, the true test of New Zealand’s independence of thought may come sooner than we think. A movement is gaining pace for countries around the world to recognise the independent state of Palestine, with the British Government’s House of Commons having just voted to do exactly that. The vote is largely symbolic – Prime Minister David Cameron and many of his ministers abstained. But it comes in a week in which Sweden became the first major European country to recognise the Palestinian state, and also within a week in which many of the world’s largest countries voted to give Palestine $5 billion to rebuild itself after the devastating 50-day war earlier this year.

The world is largely aghast and impatient with the continuing blockade of Gaza, the repression of its citizens, and settlements that continue to encroach on their land. Yet America continues to stymie efforts to grant Palestine any kind of legitimacy.

Currently, all Five Eyes countries, led by the US and including New Zealand, refuse to recognise an independent Palestine. Will we be able to take a contrary view, even if we wanted to, if we are sitting at the top table after tomorrow?

Before you lambast NZ as being a vassal of other countries, purely because we have an intelligence sharing agreement, it would be useful to check history.

In November 2012 Stuff reported:

New Zealand has voted in favour of a United Nations resolution recognising a state of Palestine.

The UN General Assembly today overwhelmingly voted to grant Palestinians “non-member state” UN observer status.

Now to be fair to Dita, I doubt  many people recall a story from a couple of years ago about NZ voting to recognise Palestine. But it would be useful to check, before asserting that New Zealand refuses to recognise Palestine.

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General Debate 17 October 2014

October 17th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The free flights for the leadership contest

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

The Herald reports:

The four Labour leadership contenders have defended using taxpayer funded flights for their campaigns, saying most of the other costs will have to come out of their own pockets.

The four — Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Grant Robertson — were at Labour Party HQ this morning to sign a Code of Conduct and go through the campaign rules.

They can use the MPs’ unlimited air travel allowance to travel around the campaign — but have to pay for any other costs themselves including hotels, taxis and meals.

Mr Robertson said the use of air travel was within the rules. “[The taxpayer] is not picking up the tab for the contest. We are obeying the rules we have around airline travel. Everything else is our own cost.”

Mr Little said the contest did involve meeting with the public, which was part of an MPs’ job.

They’re meeting people to get them to vote for them – ie campaigning.

I think it is fine for MPs to get travel to party conferences, just as they also get free travel to speak to rotary clubs, business conferences, union conferences and the like.

But this is different. This is travelling to events which are specifically to get people there to vote for you. There is a direct personal benefit, rather than an indirect political benefit.

They should pay for their own airfares.

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Uber in NZ

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

Stuff reports:

Controversial smartphone app Uber has struggling taxi drivers moonlighting for them, according to the New Zealand Taxi Federation.

Uber has its official launch in Wellington this afternoon even though it has been used in Wellington for the past couple of months. It was launched in Auckland earlier this year.

Uber allows registered drivers with their own cars to link up with customers through a smartphone app, with fares pre-agreed.

Federation executive director Roger Heale said they “were kind of enjoying” Uber being in New Zealand.

“The people who are driving for them are the taxi drivers who can’t get work anywhere else. They’re current taxi drivers who, if they get a job have to jump out, take the top sign off [the cab], and go around and do the job as an Uber driver.” …

Uber spokeswoman Katie Curran said they were “thrilled with the reception” they had received in Auckland and Wellington from riders and partner-drivers.

“We’re glad the Taxi Federation recognises that Uber is raising the standards of the for-hire transport industry.”

Good to see the NZ taxi industry not being hysterically opposed to new technology and business models, as some of their overseas counterparts have been.

 

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No more signing for Visa

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

Stuff reports:

The personal identification number (Pin) has proved to be mightier than the pen, with Visa officially removing the ability to sign for credit card payments this weekend.

Though the exact timing of the change varies between banks, Visa has set its deadline for Saturday.

Country manager for New Zealand and South Pacific, Caroline Ada, said the end of the signature era was aimed at improving payment security.

“Using Pin for purchases at the point-of-sale provides the greatest security for electronic payments today,” she said.

Long overdue. Much more secure, and faster.

What is pleasing is that your PIN now works overseas more and more.

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Vernon Small on the Labour circus

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

Vernon Small writes at Stuff:

By rights the political debate should be focused on the Government’s handling of two things.

How does it meet its self- imposed need to do something alongside traditional allies and friends in Iraq and Syria without getting too deeply embroiled in the war against Islamic State?

And how will John Key make a dent in the number of children in poverty, given the Government’s pre-eminent focus on work as the best route out of poverty? …

But then along came Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Shearer and the whole Labour three-ringed circus to demand its place in the limelight.

Don’t forget David Parker who wasn’t standing and then did stand.

Just what Shearer, a former leader, hoped to achieve with his frustration-download is hard to tell.

He seemed to have an irony bypass attacking David Cunliffe, his supporters, the union voting strength and even Labour’s brand – all in the name of a call for party unity.

He probably has every right to feel aggrieved at Cunliffe’s behaviour at the 2012 annual conference, though Cunliffe continues to deny any involvement in a coup or intent to undermine him.

But to argue Cunliffe should have stayed in the race for leader in order to be defeated, as part of a scenario that would take him out of contention in perpetuity?

It all smacked of a stake through the heart – of taking revenge a kilometre too far.

He was right that Cunliffe’s backers in the blogosphere were off the wall, painting anyone but Cunliffe as a dangerous conservative running dog in harness with the mainstream media.

Danyl McL also has an opinion on how the Labour-aligned blogs are doing more harm than good to the left.

Also, Labour’s Maori caucus is asserting itself as a significant proportion of Labour’s reduced 32-person caucus.

Party sources say it is seeking greater autonomy within the caucus, and is even arguing for a share of research and other resources.

Oh that would be fun. A semi-autonomous caucus within a caucus. So if they formed Government, would they also be a semi-autonomous government within the Government?

 

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Collins’ title

October 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has admitted his office may have mishandled matters when he left former Justice Minister Judith Collins to find she had been denied an “honourable” title through the media.

But he is refusing to apologise for failing to call her, and said she may have been “confused” about standard procedure.

Collins was left seething yesterday after she was delivered a humiliating snub by Key, who declined to recommend her for the official title afforded to most government ministers.

I think it is reasonable to wait until the outcome of the inquiry, for not waiting could allow the opposition to say the Government has pre-judged the outcome.

But it would have been desirable for someone in the PMO to have directly communicated with Judith that they were delaying a decision on the title until after the inquiry, so she didn’t get questioned unawares about it by media, as she came out of a funeral.

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General Debate 16 October 2014

October 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Our next flag?

October 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

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The Kyle Lockwood flag

Stuff reports:

he first of two referendums on changing New Zealand’s flag could be held as early as next year, with a decision made in early 2016.

Prime Minister John Key used his address to the Returned Services Association (RSA) National Conference today, to lay out his case for a new Kiwi ensign.

Talking to media after the speech, he said he would be writing to the leaders of all other parties within four days to ask them to choose a representative to take part in a cross-party panel on the issue.

Key said he had received official advice that outlined a two-step referendum. It would see a public consultation period on possible designs.

The cross-party panel would likely pick the top three to five designs which would go to a referendum to pick the most preferred.

That would then be pitted against the current flag in a second referendum, where people would either vote to change or keep the status quo. 

I think that is the way to go. First have New Zealanders vote on their preferred alternative, and then have New Zealanders vote on that design vs the current NZ flag.

That advice still had to be considered and voted on by committee, but Key said he hoped the first referendum could be held before the end of next year, with a final decision by April 2016.

He gave an assurance to RSA members that New Zealand’s contributions to World War I would be recognised under the current flag at centenary commemorations in New Zealand and Gallipoli next year. 

Key would not support any change that undermined the role of the defence force, but he did not believe a new flag design would do that.

“If you got to any of the Commonwealth war graves [in Europe] what you actually see on the war graves is the silver fern. It’s not the New Zealand flag. 

“When people say New Zealanders were buried under that flag, that’s technically correct when the flag was on the coffin, but it’s not true in terms of being on their headstones,” Key said. 

The silver fern has become a de facto symbol for New Zealand and New Zealanders. It is time we had it on our flag.

The Prime Minister had softened his preference for a silver fern on a black background, saying it was unlikely to be a popular option.

He had swayed more toward a design by Kyle Lockwood, which retained New Zealand’s current flag colours, with a Silver Fern and a southern cross. 

My preference is still for the silver fern on black, as it would be as instantly recognizable as the Canadian Maple Leaf. However also a big fan of the Kyle Lockwood design and see both as vastly superior to the status quo.

I’d love to do a poll of 1,000 non New Zealanders and Australians, and show them the NZ Flag and Australian flag and ask them to pick which flag belongs to which country. I suspect the proportions getting it right will be barely more than the 50/50 of random guessing.

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US Mid-Term Elections: Senate Races Update

October 15th, 2014 at 10:03 pm by Lindsay Addie

The main interest in the mid-terms is still the fierce battle for the US Senate with the Democrats desperately trying to preserve some of their 55 to 45 lead (helped by two independents who caucus with them). So with the Republicans needing to make a net gain of at least 6 seats to gain control the polling in the key battleground states is like this:

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The GOP will win Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia very easily. They need to win three more seats to gain control of the Senate but are in a dog fight in Kansas against an independent. They look likely to pickup Alaska and Arkansas bringing them to 49 if Kansas does fall. They will still need a couple of seats to get over line. Here is a summary in no particular order of the more interesting contests. Quoted comments are from Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard.

Alaska

 In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan has broken open a lead against Democrat Mark Begich. Recent polls show the Democrat down by about 5 points and stuck at an anemic 42 percent of the vote. Alaska is a tricky state to poll, so you never know until the votes are counted, but the GOP should feel good about its position on the Last Frontier.

Colorado

In Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner has withstood months of attacks from Democratic incumbent Mark Udall, focused mainly on abortion and birth control. A month ago, the conventional wisdom was that Gardner was fading, but he has shown strength of late, and the polling averages show a tied race. Like Iowa, Colorado is a true swing state, and with Obama unpopular, Gardner has at least even odds of pulling out the win. Again, Democrats cannot be pleased that Udall, who dominated the airwaves through the summer, is stuck around 45 percent—in the danger zone for an incumbent seeking reelection.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, Republican Bill Cassidy has mostly held a lead over Democrat Mary Landrieu this year. That lead appears to have widened, and the polls show Cassidy nearing the critical 50 percent mark. That is especially important because Louisiana’s election occurs in two stages: a jungle primary, in which candidates from all parties battle one another, and a runoff between the top vote-getters. This race is widely expected to go to a runoff, in which Cassidy would be the favourite.

Iowa

Republican Joni Ernst charged out of no-where early this year to capture the attention of the party establishment and grassroots activists. She cruised to victory in the primary and has taken what appears to be a clear lead over Democrat Bruce Braley. This is the reverse of what Beltway wags expected a year ago. It seemed then that the Democrats had scored a coup in recruiting Braley, a House member, while the GOP field was unimpressive. Now it is Ernst who is the star and Braley the gaffe-prone dud.

Kentucky – Mitch McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader for the GOP and has been made to work by Alison Lundgren Grimes. Grimes though has been under merciless attack because of her voting record in support of Obama.

Kansas – Pat Roberts is the GOP incumbent but is in a real dogfight with Greg Orman an Independent. This is just too close to call currently.

North Carolina – Kay Hagan the incumbent Democrat has been holding on to a lead for a while now but  Republican Thom Tillis is making Hagan work and is closing the gap.

So it’s currently looking better for the Republicans than the Democrats but bear in mind that during the 2012 presidential election the Democrats had a great ground game that enabled them identify where the key votes were and then get them to the polling booths.

A final comment, New Zealand’s MMP elections from the perspective of a political junkie are rather bland compared to the intense one-on-one contests that are a feature of US elections.

 

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Santiago

October 15th, 2014 at 3:06 pm by David Farrar

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In Santiago for a couple of days. This is Barrio París-Londres, which is a nice cobble-stoned area.

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In this area is a building called London 38. It was a detention and torture centre under Pinochet. Outside the building are the names and ages of those who died inside it. 219 people died or disappeared.

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This is inside the San Francisco Church, which was consecrated in 1622. It is the oldest building in Chile.

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A photo of some of the roof tiles.

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This is the back of La Moneda Palace, the office of the President of Chile. It started construction in 1784.

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Underneath the palace, is the Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda.

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Two of the presidential guards. Note they have daggers, not guns!

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Inside the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral which began construction in 1748. Its predecessors had somehow angered God who destroyed them in earthquakes.

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A view of Santiago from the Santiago Metropolitan Park. It is very smoggy here, but still a great view of the city nestled behind the Andes. I’m told the view in winter is absolutely spectacular.

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In the afternoon we did some wine tasting at Concha y Toro. It is the second largest wine producer in the world.

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The best wine is kept down in the old cellars. Each barrel of wine is worth around $45,000.

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In the old days, the owner spread a rumour that the devil lurked down in the cellar, and it seems this was enough to deter would be thieves. Today it would probably attract them!

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Snakes on a plane!

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This is the wine blackboard at the Bocanariz Restaurant. It is one of the top restaurants in Santiago, and we managed to get in without a booking. Highly recommended. Rated No 4 out of 1,404 on Trip Advisor.

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This is in the Parque Forestal, which is opposite the hotel we are staying at. We’re at the Su Merced Boutique Hotel which has just nine rooms. The rooms are quite spacious and nice, and the location is right in the centre of town.

My first ever time in Latin America. Having a direct flight from Auckland helped.

 

 

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Bob Jones on the living wage

October 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Sir Bob Jones writes:

Through hard work, he and his wife have built a nationwide airport and CBD lunch retail operation with more than 100 stores, supplied by his Wellington factory working through the night, its output flown out early in the morning across the land. They have about 400, mainly retail, staff.

What staggered me most, given its scale, is how marginal this operation is. Some stores do well, others badly, while many just break even in this intensely competitive field. Raise your prices, I suggested, inducing a derisive laugh. The owner told me regulars making the same daily purchase comprise a large component of their business. Apparently, even the most minor increase elicits outrage and the loss of their custom.

My inquiry as to the best employees brought an unsurprising answer – new immigrants by a country mile. What particularly interested me was the salaries for what’s essentially menial work. In most cases they’re on the minimum wage. Any more and they’re out of business, he said, and I believe him.

Margins in retail are often minuscule. So that would be 400 jobs gone.

I mention all of this in the context of the absurdly titled living wage clamour, the noise invariably coming from leftish critics not employing anyone, nor ever likely to. There are exceptions. Two leftie Wellington city councillors, respective owners of small city retail food businesses, led the charge recently for menial task council employees to be paid the so-called living wage. Inquiry however, revealed their own employees were on the minimum wage.

“We’d go broke,” they wailed when their hypocrisy was exposed. It was classic left do as I say, not as I do, double standards.

It was indeed.

The answer is elementary. If you want the $18.50 “living wage” or better, choose employment paying it, rather than complain.

Harsh but not entirely untrue. There are very very few people in New Zealand that couldn’t train to do a job that pays better than the minimum wage.

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The other five affiliate unions should follow the SFWU lead

October 15th, 2014 at 10:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Shearer said the people who walked away from Labour were middle New Zealand – “white blokes” – and Labour needed to win them back.

He also believed every worker in the unions should vote for the leadership rather than delegates casting affiliated unions’ votes, which count for 20 per cent of the vote deciding the leader.

“If we are going to have affiliates contributing to the leadership it should be one person one vote,” he said.

“That’s democracy … not two dozen people voting on behalf of 4000.”

The most powerful delegates are the EPMU ones. Only 35 of them voted on behalf of probably 30,000 or so affiliate members.

In the last leadership election only 149 delegates over five unions decided the votes for the union. Only the SFWU gave all members a vote.

If the Labour Party itself decided that all members should vote, rather than just the caucus bosses, then why not apply the same to the unions?

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General Debate 15 October 2014

October 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Mahuta stands for the leadership

October 15th, 2014 at 12:23 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta will contest the Labour Leadership.

Ms Mahuta said late this afternoon she had made the decision to stand after giving the matter serious consideration.

“This decision has been made with the knowledge that if the party reviews the election outcome, we can learn from the base of support that was demonstrated across Maori electorates in South Auckland and amongst Pacific and ethnic communities.”

Ms Mahuta’s announcement brings the number of contenders to replace David Cunliffe to four with former Deputy leader David Parker, Andrew Little and Grant Robertson also in the running.

Her candidacy announcement at 4.30pm came just before the deadline of 5pm.

Cynically I think this is more about a play for the deputy leadership, or at a minimum ensuring she remains a front bencher.

However it may also be as a result of complaints that all the contenders had been middle aged white men.

There are seven Maori MPs in caucus. If she picks all of them up, then that gets her over 20% of caucus. But hard to see here getting many votes from members or unions.

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Shearer says Cunliffe should quit politics

October 14th, 2014 at 2:11 pm by David Farrar

I think we are starting to see the reality of life in Labour. One former leader is telling another to quit politics. The Herald reports:

Mr Shearer said he would have preferred it for the new leader’s sake if Mr Cunliffe had stayed in the race and lost.

“I think it would have been easier for whoever wins if he had stood and lost. It would be a cleaner break for whoever takes over. His followers undermined Phil Goff and myself and I think he continues to be a presence that will make it difficult for a new leader.”

He said if Mr Cunliffe had lost this would have sent a clear message to his supporters, rather than let them have the impression he could have won if he hadn’t withdrawn. He was also disappointed with Mr Cunliffe’s decision to stay on as an MP. “It would be easier for the new leader if he decided to move on.”

It was a sentiment echoed by several other MPs, although none would be named.

To quote Lady Macbeth – Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!

Cunliffe has pointed out:

Mr Cunliffe pointed out Mr Shearer was also a former leader.

“I think that’s an unfortunate thing for him to say and it belies my long-term loyalty to the party and caucus.”

But Shearer has only been an MP for one and a bit terms. Cunliffe has had five full terms. And I think Phil Goff and David Shearer have a different idea of what loyalty looks like.

“It’s about making sure we set ourselves up for the future so the new leader doesn’t have the same experience I had.”

He had been white-anted by Cunliffe’s supporters when he was leader and did not want the same thing to happen to the new leader.

If Parker or Robertson wins, it is inevitable I’d say that they will also face undermining.

“The people who had attacked himself and Mr Goff were mostly anonymous, Mr Shearer said.

“There are certainly some who’s names I think I know, but these are people who sit behind darkened screens and blog and undermine people.

And several of them now work in the Labour Leader’s office – which explains why so many are so unhappy.

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Can a three year old be proud of being a vegan?

October 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Essential Mums reports:

Alicia Silverstone says her three-year-old son is “proud of being vegan”.

The 38-year-old actress is mother to Bear with husband Christopher Jarecki. And the star admits that while the pair made the conscious decision to raise their son a vegan, the lifestyle choice has never caused an issue with the little boy.

“He has never asked for meat or dairy. He is proud of being vegan,” Silverstone told the Miami New Times. “In fact, the other day I called him ‘my butterball’ and he said, ‘Mommy, I don’t eat butter; I eat Earth Balance. I don’t want to eat cows.’

I think it is much more parental decision, than the son’s choice.

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NZers in overseas jails

October 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a list of the 53 known New Zealanders serving time in overseas prions. The summary is:

  • Australia – 8
  • Cambodia – 2
  • Canada – 3
  • China – 6
  • Colombia – 1
  • Ecuador – 1
  • Fiji – 1
  • Indonesia – 1
  • Japan – 4
  • Peru – 2
  • Philippines – 1
  • Samoa – 1
  • Thailand – 6
  • UAE – 3
  • US – 12
  • Vanuatu – 1

Most are for drugs crimes or sex crimes.

I’m sure there are more than eight Kiwis in jail in Australia. I imagine only the high profile ones get reported.

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Don’t rush the law

October 14th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The first Cabinet meeting of the new Government will consider a proposal to tighten New Zealand’s terror laws by cracking down on New Zealanders who go to fight alongside the Islamic State (IS). …

Cabinet would meet today however to discuss a proposal that would extend the time passports could be cancelled and make fighting with IS an explicit criminal act. That legislation would likely be passed under urgency.

While there might be a case for a shortened period from the normal nine months or so to pass a law, any bill should at a minimum go to select committee for public submissions. Again, one might reduce the time period for submissions and consideration from the normal six months, but it would be a bad start to the third term to pass a law like this with no public input.

Urgency could arguably be warranted for certain stages of the bill, but it should not be used to bypass a select committee altogether.

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General Debate 14 October 2014

October 14th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Food prices down

October 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Food prices fell 0.8 percent in September 2014, Statistics New Zealand said today. This fall follows a 0.3 percent rise in August and a 0.7 percent fall in July.

“Lower food prices in September came from seasonally cheaper vegetables, partly countered by a rise in meat prices,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 6.5 percent. Lower vegetable prices (down 11 percent) were the most significant contributor to the monthly fall in food prices, with price falls for lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and capsicums. …

Food prices decreased 0.1 percent in the year to September 2014, following a 0.7 percent increase in the year to August 2014.

In the year to September 2014, grocery food prices decreased 1.6 percent, influenced by lower bread prices (down 14 percent).

Food prices don’t have a lot to do with the Government, more the market. But it is good to reflect that it has been several years since we have had serious food inflation.

In the last three years food prices have only increased 0.8%. This compares with a 18.1% increase from 2005 to 2008.

A remarkable difference.

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Cunliffe pulls out

October 13th, 2014 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

This afternoon David Cunliffe announced he is pulling out of the contest for the Labour Party leadership, and is endorsing Andrew Little. This should boost Little’s chances considerably and may have David Parker regretting his entry into the race, as I suspect if Little wins, that Cunliffe will be his Finance Spokesperson.

This is obviously the end of the road for David Cunliffe’s prime ministerial ambitions. Cunliffe had many political skills, but being able to lead his caucus was not one of them.

It is worth reflecting though that his political career should be judged on more than his 15 months or so as Labour Leader.

He was one of Helen Clark’s better performing Cabinet Ministers. I’ve said many times that I thought he was an excellent Communications and ICT Minister. Also his reign as Health Minister was relatively successful, with the exception of his sacking of the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

While I would have disagreed with many of his policies, I always thought that David Cunliffe could have been an excellent Labour Finance Minister. While he has gone left to win over the activist base, he does have a rare (in Labour) understanding of the business world and private sector.

While Cunliffe had many skills, there was no better display of his weaknesses that on election night, and in the weeks following. Launching his campaign to stay leader on the night of the worst election result for Labour in 90 years was incredibly dumb. And then declaring he won’t resign to try and get caucus to sack him, and then resigning, and trying to cling on despite barely 20% of caucus backing him – well it was a sad end to a career which deserved better.

It will be interesting to see what portfolio Cunliffe ends up under the new leader, whoever that may be. Finance is the logical pick, but I can’t see that happening with Robertson or Parker.

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