IMF on expenditure rules

March 3rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

An IMF paper looks at expenditure rules:

Our findings suggest that expenditure rules are associated with spending control, counter-cyclical fiscal policy, and improved fiscal discipline. We find that fiscal performance is better in countries where an expenditure rule exists. This appears to be related to the properties of expenditure rules as compliance rates are generally higher than with other types of rules (on the budget balance or debt, for example). In particular, we find that compliance with expenditure rules is higher if the expenditure target is directly under the control of the government and if the rule is not a mere political commitment, but enshrined in law or in a coalition agreement. 

So the most effective type of fiscal rule is a binding expenditure rule.

Evidence of adverse side effects is mixed. The introduction of expenditure rules is associated with a decrease in public investment only in emerging economies. A possible explanation is that any adverse effects on public investment could be mitigated in advanced economies by welldesigned budgetary frameworks and procedures. Instead, the empirical analysis points to two positive side effects. First, expenditure rules reduce the volatility of expenditure, thus imparting a degree of predictability to fiscal policy and making it less destabilizing. Second, expenditure rules are associated with higher public investment efficiency.

I’d love NZ to have an expenditure rule, such as restricting core crown expenditure to 25% of GDP over say a three year cycle or restricting the growth in expenditure to say 1% after taking account of population growth and inflation.

Expenditure rules are currently in place in 23 countries (11 in advanced and 12 in emerging economies)

So we would not be alone if we did this.



ISP market share

March 3rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jon Brewer has estimated ISP market shares based on Stats NZ and APNIC (IP addresses) data.

The top 10 are:

  1. Spark 41.4%
  2. Vodafone 28.1%
  3. Callplus 16.2%
  4. Snap 2.2%
  5. Trustpower 1.2%
  6. Megatel 0.7%
  7. Woosh 0.7%
  8. Compass 0.6%
  9. Worldxchange 0.5%
  10. Actrix 0.4%

A huge gap between the big three, and the next seven.

In total 79 ISPs are listed, of whom 36 have over 1,000 customers.


Union membership by US state

March 3rd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A good interactive graphic at NPR showing the change in union membership for each state from 1964 to 2014.

The overall rate has fallen from around a third to under 10%.

The three most unionised states today are New York on 25%, Alaska 23% and Hawaii 22%.

24 states have a union density of 10% to 20%.

16 states have a density of 5% to 10%.

Eight states have a union membership rate of under 5%, with the lowest being North Carolina at 2%.

The biggest declines over 50 years have been Michigan and Indiana which have both had 30% drops.

The only state to increase is Hawaii from 21.7% to 21.9%.

Would be interesting to explore why some states have declined so much, and others have not.


Pagani on Islamic State

March 3rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani writes at Pundit:

Not intervening isn’t necessarily the more peaceful option. We didn’t intervene in Syria. The result was genocide. 220,000 dead and counting. We didn’t intervene in Rwanda and a million Tutsi were slaughtered. 

Those who didn’t want us to intervene in Syria, still don’t want us to intervene now. When will they face the fact that the opposite of intervention isn’t peace?

What does unite Al-Qaeda and ISIS is a complete rejection of the modern progressive world. That’s not a rejection of reality TV, sex, drugs and rock and roll. 

But a rejection of the right to vote (god’s law is greater), the right of girls to be educated, and the right not to be executed or flogged for being gay or writing a critical blog.

It’s a vicious ideology that has its roots in religion. Denying that isn’t going to help us defeat jihadism. Most of its victims are moderate muslims or ‘takfir’ – muslims who don’t follow the koran literally and can therefore be excommunicated and killed, according to ISIS.

Pagani is right that this is about a group of people who want to turn the clock back around 1300 years, and have some or all of the world governed according to seventh century scripture.

Neither can we allow the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 to stop us taking action now to prevent crimes against humanity. 

Military intervention worked in Timor, Uganda and and Sierra Leone. These interventions were legal (which doesn’t have to mean UN led); and they were long term.

And this is legal, as invited in by the Government of Iraq.

Those who call for New Zealand funding to go to good governance and long term development are right that these are the elements of lasting peace. 

But they’re wrong to think you can stop violence with aid.

As Andrew Little argues.

Peace doesn’t mean protecting the borders of Iraq or Syria. The region may have to split  into Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish states. 

Very likely.

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Another IT blow out

March 3rd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The cost of implementing a new child support system has rocketed to $163 million – a blowout that dwarfs the bill for fixing the controversial Novopay school payroll system.

The new figure has been described as “gobsmacking” by a former top Government executive who was in office when the cost was originally put at $30 million.

The child support reform affects 134,000 paying parents and 138,000 receiving parents. The $30 million estimate was issued in 2011.

But implementation has been delayed until April 1 this year, to allow Inland Revenue time to change its computer system.

Further amendments to the 2013 enabling legislation were introduced to Parliament last week to make more changes. These, if passed, will take the cost to $163 million – $133 million more than first budgeted.

Robin Oliver, former Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue, says this is “gobsmacking”.

“I baulked at the $30 million, so $163 million on IT costs and administrative costs for simply changing little bits of the [child support] formula around is an enormous sum of money to be spending.”

Staggering amounts.

Taxpayers’ Union director Jordan Williams said the child support blowout was the biggest since his group was formed in 2013.

“This dwarfs Novopay,” he said. “$163 million is an extraordinary cost, more than $100 for every New Zealand household.” The changes in the formula are in fact the biggest since the current child support system was created in 1991.


A formula change should not cost that much to implement.

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Is it time to tighten up migration?

March 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Immigration is set to hit record levels, pushing up house prices over the coming year, but Prime Minister John Key believes immigrants’ skills are needed and enough houses are “in the pipeline” in Auckland to meet the influx.

In their monthly update to ministers yesterday, Treasury officials said net permanent and long-term (PLT) migration in the year ending March was “likely to exceed our [December] Half Year Update forecast of a peak of 52,400″.

Inflows were expected to start easing in the first half of this year, and the impact on house prices and household wealth appeared more subdued in this cycle, possibly because of the concentration of 20-34-year-olds in the numbers.

“However, it is possible that the strength in PLT arrivals recently may begin to impact housing demand more significantly over the coming year,” they warned.

Key said there was no question immigration has some impact on housing.

“Generally, the Reserve Bank takes the view that net migration is positive for the economy but has some spill-over implications.”


I agree with the Reserve Bank that net migration is positive for the economy. And we have policy settings that migrants need to have skills and/or wealth. It is actually quite hard to qualify for residency.

However while the medium to long-term effects of migration are positive, the rate of migration can and does put pressure on infrastructure such as housing, schools, hospitals. That is not an argument against migration, but for making sure that the net inwards flow is at a reasonable rate.

The challenge is the net flow in is made up of four components. They are:

  1. Residents leaving NZ – Government has no control
  2. NZers returning to NZ – Government has no control
  3. Australians migrating to NZ – Government has no control
  4. Other nationalities migrating to NZ – Government has control

The first three components are all strongly increasing net migration to NZ. This is going to put some stress on infrastructure. So the question is should the Government make it harder for people in category (4) to migrate?

For NZ’s long-term good, the settings are at the right level. Overall migrants boost NZ’s economy and skills. But for a few years, the Government may want to consider increasing the number of points needed to gain residency, as a way to reduce the overall level of net migration to keep it to a level which won’t strain the infrastructure too much.

Increasing the points may not have much impact. The other three components are strongly supporting net migration, and the Government has no control of those. And it is a good thing fewer Kiwis are leaving, and more are returning home. But there will be infrastructure challenges.


Quote of the week

March 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“You can’t be for big government, big taxes and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

– Ronald Reagan

The 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.

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Worksafe’s prosecution

March 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

WorkSafe NZ has laid a charge against the Ministry of Social Development over the shooting at its Ashburton office in September in which two Work and Income staff were killed and another was injured.

Russell John Tully, 48, allegedly murdered Work and Income employees Peg Noble and Susan Leigh Cleveland and seriously wounded Lindy Curtis, in a shooting at their Cass St office on September 1 last year. Tully is set to stand trial in May.

The charge, laid under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, alleges that the ministry failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work.

I’m somewhat staggered by this decision. Holding an employer accountable for the actions of a killer who stormed into their offices with a gun, seems repugnant. If there was gross negligence on the actions of an employer, then I might expect a prosecution – say if they ignored repeated warnings.

We don’t know the details of why Worksafe is prosecuting, so have to hold off judgement until court. However I am worried this may represent a unfair shifting of responsibility.

Imagine the employer isn’t MSD, but a private employer. And bad enough that someone storms in and kills two staff, and terrifies the others. But a few months later you get told you’re being prosecuted for not keeping your staff safe enough. It would be devastating.

The threshold for prosecution should be high. No employer will be perfect, and short of turning every office in the country into an iron clad fortress, I don’t see how you can stop someone with a gun.

Now maybe there was some very basic stuff that MSD got wrong, that justifies legal action. I will reserve judgement until we see the case. But my initial instinct is that this may set a very low bar for prosecutions against future employers.

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General Debate 3 March 2015

March 3rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Future welfare bill reduced by $7.5 billion

March 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Reforms have helped slash the forecast cost of New Zealand’s total welfare bill by $7.5 billion within the past year, a report says. 

The estimated liability of the welfare system is now $69b, down from $76.5b in 2013, according to the latest valuation of the future costs faced by the Ministry of Social Development. 

Based on New Zealand’s current situation – which includes rates of employment, inflation and trends of decreasing welfare dependence – that is forecast to drop a further $5.3b by 2019, according to independent consultants Taylor Fry.

Of the $7.5 billion reduction, $2.2 billion was directly attributed to reforms within the ministry – both legislative and policy changes, as well as operational changes.

That’s great news. Around a third is due to the policy changes that the opposition so vehemently opposed.

The major impact though is from the improving economy and low inflation.


MPs pay rises to be cancelled!

March 2nd, 2015 at 4:39 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today announced an overhaul of the Remuneration Authority Act, tying MP salaries to those of the wider public sector, which will be passed under urgency.

Mr Key says the decision was made after the Remuneration Authority’s latest determination which saw the total remuneration received by MPs increased by about 3.5 per cent.

“That increase was neither necessary nor justified at a time when inflation is at 0.8 per cent,” says Mr Key.

“While the decision was made independently of MPs, they should not be receiving increases which are disproportionate to the wider public sector.”

Mr Key says the Remuneration Authority referred specifically to the criteria contained in the Remuneration Authority Act 1977 as the reason for the increases, therefore a law change was necessary.

The change will take away the Authority’s discretion when setting MP pay. The sole criteria will now be the average public sector pay increase for the previous year.

As I have blogged previously I’m against annual backdated pay increases for MPs. The latest increase was not justified.

However while it is good to see the Government moving to make changes, this is not necessarily the best alternative to the status quo.  It could create a perverse incentive for future governments to agree to high levels of public sector pay rises, so that they get the same increase.

Ministers anticipate more detailed advice from officials on the measure to be used, which will be set out in the legislation, likely to be introduced in the next sitting session.

The press release doesn’t mention urgency, but journalists are reporting it will be passed under urgency. If this is the case, I’m against that happening. Urgency should be for laws that need to be amended urgently because of a loophole. Not for turning down embarrassing pay increases.

At a minimum the proposed new law should go to a select committee for public submissions. Even though the law is reducing the level of future pay increases for MPs, it should not be decided by them, with no public input.

So it is good to see the Government taking action, but it would be good to make sure we have time to consider if it is the best alternative to the status quo.

UPDATE: Actually the press release does mention it is being passed under urgency – at the very beginning. I missed it.

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Yep, Still Got It

March 2nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Yep, Still Got It is on at Circa Two until Saturday 21 March.

It’s a one person show by Jane Keller, who delights and excites the audience for 75 minutes.

Keller is facing retirement and unsure what to do, so she decides to hire a life coach. After her life coach recommends various unsatisfactory options such as being a phone sex operator, Keller decides to become a life coach herself – a job anyone can do with no training!

The rest of the show is spent with Keller playing herself as life coach and her various clients. It is a great mixture of dialogue and singing. Keller is fantastically talented as she sings risque lyrics, combined with facial expressions that have you laughing almost non stop.

Michael Nicholas Williams accompanies Keller on the piano, to his normal excellent standard.

Keller is a master of comical delivery. Not only does she deliver 75 minutes of laughs,but she has to memorise a huge number of songs and verses. Only once during a very long song did she falter, but her grace in asking Williams for a reminder was so smooth, it detracted nothing from the show.

My only complaint is that so many of the problems we heard from clients were so funny and interesting, I would have liked to hear more about what her advice would have been. Regardless a very funny show, that appeals to young and old.

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Shortest press release ever

March 2nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar


Heh. To the point.

No tag for this post.

This should have been known before the election

March 2nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Labour MP Stuart Nash was bankrolled to the tune of $4000 a month by political backers for more than a year leading up to last year’s general election.

Mr Nash’s $99,000 in candidate donations meant his warchest ranked only behind Hone Harawira’s $105,000 courtesy of the Kim Dotcom and his Internet Party as being the country’s best-funded candidate.

The returns showed Mr Nash received $36,000 from Caniwi Capital Partners and $31,000 from Andrew Kelly, mostly paid in monthly instalments dating from June 2013.

Mr Nash also received $5000 from rich lister Sir Robert Jones, $9000 from Parnell accountant Lynch Phibbs and $18,000 from various branches of the Labour Party.

Mr Nash said the two main backers for his ultimately successful race for the Napier elector seat were long-term friends who “believed in what I was doing”.

I’ve got no problems with a candidate being bankrolled by friends, effectively on their payroll so he could campaign full-time.

But this sort of information should be disclosed pre-election, not post-election, so it can be scrutinised then.

Current electoral law only requires donations of $30,000 (for parties) to be disclosed at the time they are made (within 10 working days), while lesser limits apply for disclosure after the election.

I think that any donation that meets the disclosure limit should be disclosed within say a month of being made, not disclosed after an election. Expenses of course must wait until after an elections, but donations do not have to.

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Why would you not wait to find out it is legal?

March 2nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government is being lobbied to bring the tobacco plain-packaging bill back to Parliament for a final vote, now the policy has been found to work “almost like a vaccine against tobacco” in Australia.

The health select committee last year supported the bill but the Government has delayed bringing it back to the House pending the outcome of the challenges against the Australian law by the tobacco industry.

But National support partner the Maori Party and lobby group Action on Smoking on Health (Ash) now say the decline in smoking seen in Australia since its “standardised” packaging law came into force in 2013 means New Zealand can dally no longer.

And public health expert Robert Beaglehole, a University of Auckland emeritus professor, says plain packaging in New Zealand “must be passed with urgency”.

“The Australian evidence shows standardised packaging of cigarettes has had an immense impact on smoking and has worked almost like a vaccine against tobacco use in children and young people.”

Umm, the evidence is far from conclusive. Some data has said a decrease, other data an increase.

Worse of all, the plain packaging came in at the same time as tax increases, so one can’t know what the impact of the measure is.

As I have said many times, the best way to resolve the debate would be to have a geographical trial, where you could compare the change in regions with plain packaging against the change in regions without.

Canberra is defending its law in two cases: before World Trade Organisation adjudicators in a case brought by tobacco-producing countries including the Dominican Republic, and at a United Nations commission’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in a case linked to Hong Kong and tobacco firm Philip Morris Asia.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell rejected the Government’s waiting on the legal challenges. “Waiting for the World Trade Organisation decision means more people die or are sick from smoking-related illnesses.

Smoking rates are, thankfully, already declining in NZ. Waiting to find out if plain packaging is illegal under WTO agreements we have signed up to, is very sensible. Why would we implement a law which a few months later may be ruled illegal?

The firm claimed plain packs had “seen a 32 per cent jump” in Australian teen smoking, from 3.8 per cent in 2010 to 5 in 2013, but the Age reported a Government statistician saying it was not possible to say there had been an increase as the sample size was too small and the change was not statistically significant.

As I said the evidence is contradictory at this stage. It would be good to have robust data that measures solely the impact of plain packaging.


A great weekend of cricket

March 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Went to England vs Sri Lanka on Sunday, and a very enjoyable high scoring game. England looked much better than against New Zealand, making a respectable 309.

Sri Lanka played a very calculated innings in response. They didn’t try to blast their way to an early victory, but concentrated on getting at least five runs an over and protecting their wickets. There were a couple of points where the required run rate got over seven and if they lost some wickets may have struggled. But they kept nine of their wickets and comfortably started powering up around the 34th over and made it very comfortably in the end. Not often you see three centuries in a one day match.

I didn’t see the thrilling Australia vs NZ game, but followed it most of the day through the ICC app on my smartphone. I could only imagine how amazing it would be to see Australia dismissed for 151. Australia! You expect that from one of the bottom teams, not the favourite.

It was looking like the game against England again as NZ hit out and started piling on the runs to get it over and done with. But Australia is not England. They fight back, they don’t give up. And unbelievably they almost won as NZ collapsed to nine wickets down.

At 7.30 pm I was in a theatre with a play about to start, and half the theatre had their smartphones out getting updates. NZ were nine down and needed a six to win and the lights went out. A cacophony of groans went out as everyone realised they would not know whether NZ won or not for at least an hour. The moment we got to half time, phones quickly came out of the pockets and as we saw NZ had won, cries of relief throughout the theatre.

I still think Australia is favourite to win. NZ is in the best form I have seen them for decades, but Australia will have a home crowd for the final. NZ should easily win their quarter final, so the real pressure will come on for the semi-final and final.

Looking forward to many more days of cricket before then.


Organ donation rates

March 2nd, 2015 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Tookey, whose teenage daughter Katie will need a liver transplant eventually, faults the licence database, but also, tongue in cheek, suggests an improvement.

“They ask, donor, yes or no. If they put a question before that, ‘If you need an organ to live, would you accept one’, if they tick yes to that, they are hardly likely to say no to the next question.”

That’s not an entirely bad idea. Ask about being a recipient before you ask about being a donor.

Our donor rate per million population, at less than nine, is around half of Australia’s, and far below the world leader Spain on about 35.

One change we should make is for a donor’s wishes to be paramount, and their family unable to over-ride them.

When an ICU patient’s brain dies, perhaps from a road crash, a breathing ventilator can keep their other organs alive while their family is asked about donation. Grief may make it hard for a family to hear their loved one’s death could save others. Fifty-three per cent of licence holders have indicated “yes” to being a donor, but ICU and donor staff don’t routinely check the database.

Janice Langlands, of Organ Donation NZ , said they looked only if the family asked, as many already knew their loved one’s wishes.

This is all wrong. The database should have legal force,and the first thing that should be done is to check the database, and then simply inform the family of their wishes.

The Health Ministry says if family members report the person had stated their wish regarding donation, doctors are legally permitted to act on this, but can choose to follow the family’s position, even if it contradicts the patient’s.

I think we need a law which gives legal force to the wishes of someone deceased or about to die – both for details of burial (to stop body snatching) and for organ donation.

Ms Langlands said ICU staff followed families’ wishes out of concern for their wellbeing.

“I personally don’t believe that we should ever be more interested in the potential recipients and the wellbeing of an unknown recipient than we are about the wellbeing and health of that family at the time

When do the wishes of the person who agreed to donate get taken into account?

Families did not always oppose donation. Some permitted donation even when the licence said no, as the person had falsely believed he or she was too old.

Also wrong to have the family say yes if the person has said no.


David Howells on immigration and prosperity

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

ACT had a competition for people to submit their vision or views on what we could change to make New Zealand better. The five finalists presented their essays to the ACT conference, and delegates voted on the one they most thought deserved to win. There were questions from the audience, to which the five finalists had to answer and respond to.

All five did well and won $500, with the winner getting $3,000. That was David Howells for his speech. He probably got the most hostile questions but answered them well, and still won the vote. I thought his essay deserved a wider audience.

More Immigration, More Prosperity

New Zealand is a country built on immigration. We have more ethnicities in New Zealand than there are countries in the world – quite an achievement for a population of only 4-and-a-half million.

Our immigration regime has come a long way:

In 1944 New Zealand abolished the poll tax, which for decades was a discriminatory tax imposed on all new Chinese immigrants. In 1987, New Zealand came to the realisation that not just British citizens would make good immigrants. We have now stopped accepting immigrants based on British heritage, and now look at ones skills, and family connections when considering new immigrants.

This has led to people from a much wider range of nationalities being allowed to become New Zealanders.

But despite this, today in our schools, in history and social studies classes, it is always taught that New Zealand is bicultural nation.

Perhaps this is a useful description of New Zealand society in the 1800s. But history can only explain how things were – it is not a guideline for how things ought to be.

The idea of New Zealand being a bicultural society is outdated. We need to recognise New Zealand is home to diverse range of cultures. 

In our economy, immigrants bring skills to the workforce that New Zealand companies need. 

With technology advancing and more free trade agreements accelerating the process of globalisation, it is impossible for governments to be able to predict our future competitive advantages or even what skills will be in demand in the future.

In a globalised world it is now more important than ever to have flexible labour markets. An open immigration system is key for future New Zealand business to be able to get the skills they need to grow.

Immigrants also own businesses that employ New Zealanders. They work hard, sometimes in multiple jobs, to give themselves and their family opportunities that they might not have in their home country.

There are many opponents to our current, relatively open, immigration regime. The objections are not unique to New Zealand – the same arguments are used as justification to oppose immigration all over the world.

 On the surface the opposition to immigration often comes across as plain xenophobia. But underpinning what on the surface looks like simple xenophobia, are some of the oldest economic ideas around.

It is often expressed in the form; if an immigrant gets a job, or purchases some capital asset – it is at the expense of a local. This is the same kind of economic thinking that views the economy as a finite amount of pie, where for someone to get a bigger slice, someone else has to have smaller slice.

Immigrants do not take the “pie” from locals – they help grow it for all of us. 

The benefits immigrants bring are not just economic. Diversity enriches society by exposing us to a broader range of people with backgrounds, perspectives and languages we might not otherwise encounter. (And my god – fantastic food!).

And while we should be proud of our relatively open immigration system – there is more to be done.

I know of small businesses having to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops with immigration services to prevent good employees from being sent back to their home county.

I recently met a man who has lived and worked here in New Zealand for two years. He is seeking a better quality of life for himself and his family. But he has not even seen his wife or son for two years – waiting for immigration to grant them visas.

This kind of sacrifice is admirable – but it shouldn’t need to be made.
If you are willing to come New Zealand, stand on your own two feet and work hard, you should be allowed to come, bring your family, and stay.

I want New Zealand’s immigration system to become even more welcoming to immigrants and new-New Zealanders. An open immigration system will be a cornerstone of future prosperity and enrich our communities.

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Democracy in Russia declines further

March 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Boris Nemtsov,  a Russian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister, has been shot dead in central Moscow, the Interior Ministry says.

Nemtsov, 55, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, had been due to take part in the first big opposition protest in months in the Russian capital tomorrow.

He was shot four times late on Friday night (local time), not far from the Kremlin in the centre of Moscow. Police cars blocked the street where he was shot. An ambulance was also nearby.

“Nemtsov BE died at 2340 hours as a result of four shots in the back,” an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said by telephone.

I have a general rule of thumb – any death or arrest of an opposition leader is usually linked to the person they are opposing.


General Debate 2 March 2015

March 2nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Candidate returns

March 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Been looking at the candidate returns for the 2014 elections. A few stats.

  • There were no anonymous or overseas donations (above the reporting limit)
  • The most well funded candidates were Hone Harawira who disclosed $105,000 of donations and spent $16,000.
  • Stuart Nash received a massive $99,000 in donations. The breakdown is not yet online
  • The Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tokerau received $95,000 from the Maori Party which seems weird as it was in their interest to let Labour win there.
  • Two Mana candidates received $60,000 each but spent only $13,000 and $20,000 respectively
  • Todd McClay had the highest donations for a Nat candidate at $50,000
  • 173 candidates in total had a discloseable donation
  • The candidate who spent the most on newspaper advertising was Clayton Cosgrove at almost $16,000
  • Alastair Scott spent the most on radio advertising at just over $9,000
  • The highest spending candidates for Internet advertising were Andrew Bayly, Tamati Coffey, Nick Smith and David Seymour who spent $6,400, $4,600, $4,200 and $3,500 respectively
  • The highest spending candidate overall was Ron Mark in Wairarapa at $25,491, then Callum Blair (Conservatives) then Annette Sykes. In fact the five highest spending candidate all LOST. David Seymour was the highest spending candidate who won on $24,481.
  • Lowest spending Labour candidate was Arena Williams (Hunua) on $1,587 and National candidate was Brett Hudson (Ohariu) on $2,517
  • Lowest spending candidate who got elected was Meka Whaitiri on $5,853 and for National Jacqui Dean on $7,001
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Cricket ratings on TV

March 1st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Regan at Throng blogs:

In 2011, when New Zealand made the semi finals of the Cricket World Cup, the average audience on Sky Sport per match that the Black Caps played in was only 67,930 viewers. The highest average audience was 79,530 between New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

In 2015, the Cricket World Cup is in New Zealand and the Black Caps matches are screening on both Sky and their FTA channel, Prime. The opening match between NZ and Sri Lanka had an average audience of 161,280 viewers on Sky and another 145,940 viewers on Prime.

The difference in average audience between the last 2 years is quite considerable.

That’s a huge growth from 2011.

Back in 1995 (we couldn’t go back any further without someone logging hours in physical paper journals), the most watched match was between New Zealand and Pakistan on the 17th of December. The average audience for that game, was a staggering 602,950 viewers.

Further more, that equated to 19.3% of the entire population of 3.1million viewers.

In the 1980s (and to a degree the 1990s), cricket was massively watched on TV. We’re regaining some of the viewers of the past, but I guess today fewer people are just watching TV overall.


Following on from zero fare Saturdays

March 1st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Wellington Greens have proposed zero fare Saturdays on public transport.

Black Heart has responded with an even bolder proposal:

In other global news, the Black Heart Party regional economic transport development spokesfan Ned Davy has called on Greater Wellington Regional Council to introduce “zero-fare September” flights to London as part of a five point plan to get indigent 50-somethings to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. “To be honest,” said Ned, “my liver’s not really up to a full boozy month in Pomgolia, but if that’s the price of getting a freebie to the party, I’ll take one for the team.”

He also highlighted the importance of reducing naval congestion around the Cape of Good Hope as desperate fans paddle their home-made waka towards Twickenham. “It’s going to be bloody chaos off Cape Town in August, and frankly the only reasonable course of action is to get us away from the whales and into an airplane seat.  It doesn’t have to be business class, we’ll settle for premium economy. Or one of those snuggle couches, so long as I don’t have to share with Brother Phil.”

Mr Davy emphasised the regional economic benefits of the new policy. “The Euro zone region’s having a rough time of it, and we’ve all got to make sacrifices to help those poor English publicans scratch a living.  Throw in an Athens stopover, and we promise to put a fair dent in the Greek region as well.”

He mused aloud about the climate change benefits of the policy. “If all four million of us bugger off to Blighty for the full month, New Zealand would reduce it’s annual carbon emissions by 8 percent straight off, right there.”

About as sensible!

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Guest Post: Saved by peer to peer travel

March 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Deane Jessup:

Saved by peer to peer travel.

I just discovered the Uber of the accommodation market, and it is awesome.

Innovations that break established business models are becoming so common it’s getting hard to know how tomorrow will look.  New peer to peer business models are happening on a regular basis and though some like Uber and crowd sourcing are playing out very publically, others are simmering away waiting to be discovered as the need takes.  Airbnb has been around a while, but with some well-formed habits, it took a bit of a nudge for me to discover it.  Now I just want to share it with everyone.

This week a client had invited me to the Cricket so I decided to travel to Wellington.  However I made one major error; a compulsive user of last minute booking websites, by the time I went to book accommodation this was the last room available in the entire city:


As I’m a married middle aged male I thought it might not be the room for me, and after giving up trying to invent a justification for my wife to let me book it, I found myself contemplating packing a tent and sleeping bag.  Out of nowhere a colleague said to me “have you checked”

I had never heard of it.

Nonetheless, 10 minutes later I had an account, had booked a miraculously available room for $120 a night, and was on my way to the airport.

While en route a lovely Chinese gentleman called me to confirm my booking and arrange to meet me after I landed.  Down in Wellington a quick Uber ride later (at half the cost of a normal Taxi) I was meeting the owner at a nice self-contained two bedroom apartment in Mt Victoria, walking distance from the restaurant area with an amazing view from 5 stories up over the city.

Not only had this new discovery saved me  an uncomfortable nights sleep, but the apartment I found was so good that it would have cost me 2 times as much to book through a regular Hotel.

I am hooked.  A quick look through the slick and easy to use mobile website and the android App shows me tons of bargains, many normal places, and some amazing hires like several Igloo options, and a treehouse with a view of San Francisco.


I had to provide a drivers licence photo, social media verification, a mobile number, and credit card details to get it all running, but it was quick, painless, and it is nice to know that like Uber everyone in the supply chain is verified.  And not only does the system introduce people faster and save you money, but you can even book parts of properties to really right size your requirements. named 2014 company of the year and said the following “Disruptive, brazen, and overall brilliant, the (possible illegal) home sharing empire has become the biggest lodging provider on Earth.”  The reference to ‘possibly illegal’ is due to an ongoing battle about taxes, San Franciso recently passed a law aimed directly at them and collected tens of millions in back taxes. I think the hallmark of a good business is that it challenges regulators to think outside the square

Either way I am now a committed user, and as with Uber it is mostly because of the convenience and ease of use of the business model.  The savings are a bonus.

Seriously, if I hadn’t found this I would have been on a mates couch, pulling an all-nighter, or in a sleeping bag on Oriental Bay beach.  My view is that the world is changing for the better, and we like the businesses themselves need to adapt and adopt, peer to peer business is here to stay and If you’re still holding out from trying services like Uber or airbnb then your loss is many others gain.

The Internet is brilliant for connecting customers and providers without the traditional companies in the middle.


Osborne wins National’s nomination

March 1st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Mark Osborne got selected by 120 local delegates yesterday to be National’s candidate for Northland.

He is based in Taipa and is former General Manager of the Te Ahu Charitable Trust in Kaitaia. Currently the Asset Manager for Far North District Council. He is also a Trustee of Mangonui School, and helps run the family-owned local business Doubtless Beauty.

He’s won awards for his work in business, and to win the nomination against such a strong field says a lot.

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