A $1.5 million sculpture funded by Auckland ratepayers

July 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Of all the plans for Queens Wharf, none has invited as much debate as the planned $1.5 million sculpture of a state house featuring a 4.5 tonne Venetian glass chandelier.

Yet any discussion can be no more than conjecture because the public is being denied images.

The Auckland Council says concept outlines are still being developed and will be released as soon as they are finalised.

That is not good enough.

Anything is better than nothing. The available images should be released if the council wants to avoid the suspicion that it is trying to put a lid on controversy.

There is much to be debated. Is the two-storey state house, to be built on a blue basalt plinth, a suitable object at the end of the wharf?

Or will it be, as the Waitemata Local Board contends, an out-of-place intrusion that will impede sea views? Would it, in fact, be better located at Wynyard Pt?

Why was the cost allowed to balloon out beyond the plentiful $1 million gifted by Barfoot & Thompson? And given the necessity for ratepayer funding, why has the project been fast-tracked with scant regard for normal council procedure?

It’s not clear if the $1.5 million is the ratepayer contribution, or just $500,000. But either amount is too much.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a cultural philistine. I’m actually a member of the Wellington Sculpture Trust. When a Council has its books in order, and rates are not rising faster than inflation, then some investment in stuff such as sculptures can be okay. But Auckland Council is in a funding crisis. It is not business as normal. $100,000 on curtains and $1.5 million on a sculpture are luxuries that it can’t afford.

UPDATE: I understand that the Auckland Council has underwritten the Parekowhai sculpture to $500,000.

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The Comcast service rep who won’t take no for an answer

July 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This is incredible. I would have told the service rep to go copulate himself long before the call actually concluded.

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Australian Senator wants a rich well-hung Senator

July 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Any complaints about our MPs look trivial in comparison to some of the loons in Australia.

TVNZ reports:

An Australian politician has raised eyebrows after revealing her two requirements in a partner.

Palmer United Senator Jacqui Lambie told Tasmania’s Heart 107.3′s radio station she has only two requirements in a man, they must be wealthy and well-endowed.

“They must have heaps of cash and they’ve got to have a package between their legs, let’s be honest,” Ms Lambie said.

“I don’t need them to speak, they don’t even need to speak.”

Ms Lambie, a 43-year-old mother of two, was then introduced to a 22-year-old listener named Jamie, who called into the radio show to express his interest in dating her.

“Do you have plenty of cash?” asked Ms Lambie.

“I’m just a bit concerned that at 22 years of age and living in Tasmania you might not be quite there yet?”

Jamie then assured her he does have plenty of cash.

Ms Lambie then asked: “Are you well-hung?”

Jamie assured her he is & “like a donkey”.

The pair have agreed to go on a date.

Funnily enough Senator Lambie opposes gay marriage on the grounds it compromises Australiam morals.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Review of Standing Orders

July 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Standing Orders Committee has published its recommendations for changes to Standing Orders, which will inevitably be accepted by the House.

The previous review was quite bold and made some significant changes, which have enhanced Parliament considerably – especially the use of extended sitting to minimise the use of urgency.

This time, the changes are very modest and they have rejected almost every significant proposal for change. As one of those who advocated change, I’m disappointed.

There are some useful enhancements though. They include:

  • Recommending funding for full webcasting of select committees
  • Adopting the temporary rules in use for recording MPs attendance, so they can have pay deducted if absence without leave
  • Allows the Business Committee to decide to retain question time when the House is in urgency (I and many advocated question time should be retained automatically)
  • Allows sign language to be used in the House if an MP wishes
  • Any opinions from the Attorney-General that a bill unjustifiably breaches the Bill of Rights Act will now be formally considered by the relevant select committee. However no requirement for amendments to be assessed by the Attorney-General for BORA compliance which is what we really need.
  • Some minor changes to general debates on the Budget and PM’s statement, but no overall reduction in time allocated to them which is a pity as after the first six or so speeches they become meaningless speeches with no relevance to the topic.
  • The time recorded for replies to written questions will not tae account of interim or holding replies, so that Ministers are incentivised to still provide full replies more quickly
  • Make clear that donations to MPs such as for leadership contest expenses must be disclosed if over $500

But overall the report is more noticeable for what they did not do, than what they did agree to.

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The Press on Labour’s need for discipline

July 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Worse than that, however, the attack on Cunliffe was yet another illustration of the continual indiscipline afflicting the Labour Party at present. It also demonstrates Cunliffe’s inability to get his party inside the House and outside focused on what they must do if they are to have any chance at all in the general election.

The attack, which first appeared in the Sunday-Star Times at the weekend, was done behind a veil of anonymity. The source was described as a senior Labour figure, but it could not be discerned from the story whether it was a person in the caucus, two-thirds of which is said to support someone other than Cunliffe, or someone in the wider party. Either way, it seemed calculated to do the maximum harm.

Labour are suggesting the source was not an MP. But that is hard to reconcile with the quotes in the SST:

“We will be having a talk to David at caucus about his work ethic on Tuesday. We’ll be letting him know he’s got two months to turn this around, and we’re backing him and right behind him but he’s got to lift his game.”

The only people who attend caucus on Tuesday are MPs, the Chief of Staff and the President. I assume it isnt Matt McCarten being quoted or the President, so hence it must be an MP.

It was the latest in a series of stories that has put Labour in the headlines all right, but for all the wrong reasons. From Trevor Mallard wittering on with some harebrained thoughts about the genetic reconstitution of moa, to Kelvin Davis breaking with the party line over a contentious highway in Northland, to a half-baked suggestion about changing the burden of proof in rape trials, to Cunliffe’s own cack-handed apology for being a man, the stories are a corrosive distraction from whatever substantive policies Labour is trying to promote. The party’s message is being swamped by them.

And banning some perfumes and cosmetics.

But if Cunliffe wants to present himself as an alternative prime minister, and the party as an alternative government, he must bring some discipline to it. Otherwise, voters will, quite rightly, write him and the party off.

Sound advice.

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Board says no to Basin flyover

July 23rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial plans to build a flyover next to the Basin Reserve in Wellington have been killed off by a board of inquiry.

In a stunning move today, four commissioners declined resource consent for the New Zealand Transport Agency’s proposed $90 million project.

It means the agency’s plans to build a 265-metre elevated highway 20 metres north of the historic cricket ground are now all but dead in the water.

Affected parties have 20 days to comment on the board’s draft decision before it is finalised on August 30.

That’s hugely disappointing. We need four lanes from the airport to Levin and if even one section is only two laned, then the entire network will move at the speed of the slowest car.

I only hope NZTA can do a revised proposal that can gain consent. The status quo is not acceptable.

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Yeah that will fix it

July 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour leader also said he would have reconsidered taking a holiday in the recess if he had known how bad the polls were. His red scarf would get fewer outings after comments were made about the regularity with which he wore it.

“I, like everybody else, need to stick closely to the core issues and I will be extremely careful about those little things, such as the scarf, that can become distractions.”

Yes, wearing a red scarf less often in public will fix things. Genius.

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Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders would rather money was spent on improving teaching standards than on reducing class sizes, a Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals.

Education has become a political battleground before September’s election, with both major parties promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it.

Asked about their priorities, more than 60 per cent of those polled said they would spend money on trying to improve teaching standards rather than cutting class sizes.

Labour has included reducing class sizes in its election policies.

Another of its policies, a promise to pay schools which do not ask parents for donations, gained support in the poll.

National has pledged $359 million for a scheme that would pay the best teachers and principals more.

Labour countered by promising to use that money to instead hire 2000 more teachers and reduce class sizes.

Asked about those policies, 61 per cent of those polled said the money was better spent on trying to improve teaching standards.

Thirty-five per cent thought it should be used to cut class sizes.

Excellent. Voters understand quality is more important than quantity.

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Hunger strikers never carry through

July 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prisoner All Means All’s intermittent hunger strike is over.

The Oxford farmer, formerly known as Mark Feary, started eating and drinking again late last week.

Of course he did. The last time I can recall a hunger striker actually staying on strike was Bobby Sands in 1981 protesting about having to wear a prison uniform and do work in prison.

In India they do hunger strikes far more sensibly. They do it in teams of three with each having an 8 hour shift every day. I understand one hunger strike there has been going on for over 15 years.

UPDATE: I’m informed by a very reliable source that the normal practice of the NZ Corrections Department is (or was) to position a BBQ outside the hunger striker’s cell, and cook bacon. It seems this was highly effective at ending most hunger strikes!

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General Debate 23 July 2014

July 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Cunliffe says sorry for his holiday

July 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has admitted to making errors, including taking an over-long three-day holiday in Queenstown last week.

Cunliffe emerged from a caucus meeting of his MPs today promising to make changes to the way he and the party delivered their messages and admitting that the holiday was a mistake.

“I take responsibility for things I could have done better,” he said.

“I’m happy to say that with the information that I now have about the movement in the polls, which I didn’t have when I made that decision [to take a holiday], I would have made a different decision.”

He certainly would not have gone on such a long break, though he noted he was also ill for two days “and I didn’t have much choice about that”.

And in another story:

He scoffed at suggestions that some in his caucus were “doing the numbers” on a leadership change.

“That’s nonsense, absolute nonsense,” he said.

“I am confident I have the full support of my caucus.”

Hilarious.

Former leader Phil Goff ruled out any interest in becoming leader again, and while Cunliffe’s predecessor David Shearer wouldn’t rule it out, he said he was focused on the party’s key messages.

Mark my words. Shearer will challenge after the election.

Also a third Stuff article reveals a new side to Cunliffe:

Pray, is Reverend Sue Dickson’s advice.  Cunliffe says he does – daily. 

I did not realise Cunliffe is such a devout Christian.

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The coronial system

July 22nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Serious failings and under-resourcing in the coronial system are stopping coroners from preventing further deaths, research has found.

Some coroners feel their recommendations have been falling on deaf ears, according to an Otago University study that looked at more than 600 coroners’ reports.

That’s because so many of their recommendations are daft and impractical.

The failings were evident in the high number of repeated recommendations, particularly in cases of drowning, sudden unexplained infant deaths, and transport accidents.

Research author Jennifer Moore said she wanted the law changed to make the system more effective, but it was unlikely the Government would budge.

About 72 recommendations were vaguely directed, and she believed there should be a mandatory response system in place.

The non silly ones do tend to get a response, but the problem is too many coroners come up with recommendations that are unbalanced. Their aim is to recommend ways to reduce deaths, which is of course a good thing. But some never seem to consider practicality or compliance costs, let alone freedom of choice to do stupid things.

There should also be additional support, training and resources available for coroners, she said.

Coroners did not receive training from a judicial institute, which she said would improve the quality of recommendations. The 17 coroners did not have books with decades of full decisions to refer to, and had to share two assistants.

Now that I would support.

Chief coroner Neil MacLean said the research was a valuable, objective point of view. “We’re already taking on board some of the criticism and I hope the Government will listen to their recommendations.”

Under-resourcing was a particular day-to-day frustration, he said. One of the most effective changes would be making it mandatory for agencies to respond to recommendations directed at them. “The thing about having a rigorous, transparent, mandatory response system is that we can be assured of feedback. We accept that some of the recommendations we make are unbalanced or miscued or directed at the wrong people – we need to know that, so we can do better next time.”

That’s a fair point. The Chief Coroner is, in my opinion, excellent. What I’d rather do is institute better resourcing and training, and then after that review if mandatory responses are a good idea.

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RIP Kevin Skinner

July 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Legendary All Blacks prop Kevin Skinner has died in Auckland, aged 86.

Skinner died over the weekend, a New Zealand Rugby spokesman confirmed today.

He played 20 tests and 63 games all told for the All Blacks during an international career that spanned 1949 to 1956.

He was a hard-nosed, durable and tough prop who had his finest moments in the 1956 series against South Africa when he came out of retirement for the last two tests and was credited with the being the man who regained the physical edge for the All Blacks.

The All Blacks won the second test 17-10 in Christchurch and the decider 11-5 in Auckland.

Skinner was also renowned for his boxing prowess, and was the 1947 New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion.

His recall for the 3rd test in 1956 was an act of genius. The South African front row were basically thugs, so we decided to play their game. They would grab testicles of the All Blacks and the like.

Skinner floored Koch with a right hook that could be clearly heard far away. I know one of the doctors who was on duty at the local hospital and Koch was still unconscious when he arrived. How Skinner wasn’t sent out, let alone even penalised I don’t know. But it worked – the South Africans stopped playing dirty.

Skinner is reputed to be the most hated All Black in South Africa. That would be a worthy epitaph for his gravestone!

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Pagani advice for Labour

July 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit on what Labour should now do:

First, stop blaming the media. 

The problem isn’t ‘right wing framing’. There isn’t a media conspiracy to get a third term National government. When you fall behind everyone airs their favourite explanation and negatives get repeated and amplified. It’s the job of politicians, not media, to inspire a change in the story. 

National did this also in 2002. It is very tempting to do, but almost always pointless.

Stop saying the polls are close. It reminds voters that Labour aims to lead a bloc in which it might not be all that dominant and which could include the toxic Dotcom party. Tortuous explanations about the Left Bloc v the Right Bloc sound cynical, as if you don’t care about winning support of people.

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

If Labour did that, I think they would get a very significant boost in the polls. People do not like the idea of a Labour-led Government being subservient to Dotcom.

Stop barking at every passing car. We don’t need a position on every lifestyle or identity issue in the news cycle. Though Labour tries to talk about core themes, like jobs and smaller class sizes, it can’t complain when those subjects get overshadowed by its own policies. 

The temptation of releasing a ‘policy a day’ comes from a lack of confidence that the main themes are strong enough to win. This is a strategy error, not a discipline one. 

I think they are taking this advice on board.

There are no easy pathways now. The party made David Cunliffe leader for his strategy of shoring up the base with a more militant tone. He’s delivered on that strategy but it hasn’t worked. 

Correcting to the centre close to the election carries the seeds of disappointment for those who believed it would work, and has the added downside that the public don’t believe it. 

It’s too late to ditch some of the rhetoric that made people doubt whether you would put them ahead of sectarian interests, but not too late to campaign for  the values that make Labour, Labour.  It’s mission is to represent working people and their families in a broad-based party. So: do that.

I think it is too late to now try and move towards the centre.

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Parliament Today 22 July 2014

July 22nd, 2014 at 1:16 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM-3.00PM.

  1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement: “We have a plan, and that plan is working for New Zealand.”?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on regional development, if so, how many regions of New Zealand now have a lower number of people unemployed according to the Household Labour Force Survey compared to when he took office?
  3. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: What measures has the Government taken to support New Zealand families – particularly through delivering better public services to those most in need?
  4. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
  5. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister for Social Development: What reports has she received about the progress of the Government’s welfare reforms?
  6. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Has he seen reports that $4 to $5 billion will be sucked out of the economy due to the 35 percent fall in dairy prices since February, and what policy responses, if any, does he intend to make to counteract this?
  7. LOUISE UPSTON to the Minister of Education: What progress is being made on Better Public Services targets in education?
  8. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Police: When was the Minister of Police first informed of the misreporting of Police statistics in Counties Manukau, and what did she do with the information when she first received it?
  9. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Justice: What recent Better Public Services results has she announced for the justice sector?
  10. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: What evidence does she have that the Government’s Investing in Educational Success programme, which removes teachers and principals from their classrooms for two days a week, is the best way to spend over $359 million in order to raise student achievement?
  11. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Minister of Conservation: What new initiatives has the Government taken in the Rimutakas and other areas to help the recovery of endangered native bird populations?
  12. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?

Today Labour are asking about regional development, the fall in dairy prices, police statistics and changes to teaching. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister stands by all his government’s policies, and whether the Minister of Finance stands by all his policies. New Zealand First is asking about New Zealand’s economic outlook.

Patsy of the day goes to Paul Foster-Bell for Question 11: What new initiatives has the Government taken in the Rimutakas and other areas to help the recovery of endangered native bird populations?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.00PM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Accounting Infrastructure Reform Bill - Second Reading

2. Land Transport Amendment Bill- Committee Stage

3. Veterans’ Support Bill - Committee Stage

The Accounting Infrastructure Reform Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill continues the changes begun by the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 and the Financial Reporting Act 2013. It proposes amendments to the rules on who may perform statutory audits, to the restrictions on legal form for audit firms, to the requirement for independent assurance of financial statements for certain charities, and to the rules relating to how the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants structures itself.

The Land Transport Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill seeks to lower the adults legal alcohol limits from 400 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg, and from 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 Millilitres (ml) of blood to 50mg.

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

 

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The gap closes with Australia

July 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

austmigration

 

The latest monthly migration stats are out.

It is looking pretty likely that in the next year we will have positive net migration from Australia for the first time ever. But I don’t think it will happen before the election. I am looking forward to Labour and NZ First campaigning on we have too many Australians living here.

The net migration with Australia was 20 more departures than arrivals in June 2014 month and 8,250 for the year.

In June 2013 the net loss was 3,210 for the month and 21,560 for the year.

In June 2012 the net loss was 4,590 for the month and 39,680 for the year.

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Hauiti quits

July 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National list MP Claudette Hauiti has decided to withdraw from the election and politics altogether.

She has already been selected as National’s candidate in the Kelston electorate, which is thought to be a safe Labour seat.

She told National MPs at their caucus meeting this morning.

Her decision comes a few days before National releases its list ranking and Ms Hauiti may have been warned she would get a low list ranking.

A tough decision, not but I think the right one. When you come in mid-term it is hard to make an impact in terms of achievements, and her lapses of judgement will have been a factor. I wish Claudette well.

It is worth noting that when the credit card receipts came out for the last Labour Government, Ministers had charged up all sorts of personal expenses ranging from mountain bikes to golf clubs – with no repercussions. However we are now in an era where (rightfully) there is greater scrutiny and less tolerance of such occurrences – even if repaid.

This is not the first time National has had to do a second selection. They also did one for Tamaki in 2011 when the selected candidate and MP (Allan Peachey) stood down very late (due to ill health).

UPDATE: Typo above corrected.

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Tau’s Twitter valedictory

July 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Tau Henare tweeted yesterday an online valedictory. You can see it all here. Some highlights:

  • Some stuff I did in 15 years as MP, $15 million for Maori Language
  • Was part of turning around National to see that Independance was good for #EastTimor
  • Funded the innovative housing programme for Ngai Tai, great scheme, Eastern BoP
  • The biggest thanks go to my #Wife. For all the shit you put up with both from me and politics. Love you forever and beyond.
  • Returned some of our Ancestors from their “trip” to England
  • Invited French Prim Minister to #APEC, forgot they weren’t part of #APEC
  • My words to French PM, “ill see you in Auckland for APEC, he said But we are not members, I said “Well you should be”
  • Was intrdcd to DukeofEd, he asked what I did, I explained to him that I was a list MP, he sd “Oh one of those that don’t do anything” I said Yeah just like you, he laughed out loud. #CheekyBugger but very well informed lol
  • I passed the #TeAhoMatua Kura Kaupapa Maori Philosophy/Guiding principles into Legislation. 1st time ever a philosophy passed into Law
  • Met Clinton and gave him a #Toki I told him it was used for dispatching enemies. He said he would have it in the #OvalOffice ready to use.
  • Intorduced Maori Reserved Land Legislation, 1st part of getting rid of Glasgow type leases on Maori Land.
  • Chaired the Maori Affairs Select Committee for 6 years. The most bi-partisan com in Prlmnt. A ton of Treaty Legislation. Big thanks to mbrs.
  • Got booted from the House 7 times in one year. #OOPS
  • Apologies to anyone Ive offended over 15 years, some need to harden up, Ive only got 140 characters so no space for all. lol
  • Are #Cleaners worth $20 bucks an hour ? Well yes and I should have said so, my bad.
  • Ive given up smoking 6 times in 15 years or since 1993. #Valedictory I was never a great boozer. I was always on time except once.
  • I turned up to a #marae one day early, when the kuuia asked me what I was doing I sd I was just checking the route.
  • I hated door knocking. I once door knocked a house in the Hokianga, and there was a tangi on, they invited me in. Was from Sth Auck, algood.
  • My first day on the job and I had a run in with Jim Anderton, Grrrr blamed me personally for the unemployment prob in the North ? He was Pissed off I got the trip to East Timor and he didn’t. Old coot I thought. Still do.
  • That infamous fight with @TrevorMallard, wasn’t much. 2 old testosterone filled eggs.
  • I never hated anyone in the House. apart from nah. lol They all good.
  • A big shout out to #Parekura where ever he is. Miss you chief.
  • The best thing about the Sth Island National Party supporters is man they can bake.
  • I think I would’ve made a good speaker, nothing flash and wldve changed the rule book somewhat. I don’t hold grudges (MaoriParty)
  • I once presented a carved waka to the Captain Cook Museum in Middlesborough. I was just about to ask where he was buried. Then I remembered.
  • Well thats about it. To Parliament and the Country, thanks for having me. Goodbye and Good Luck. Nga manaakitanga ki a kotou katoa.

Thanks Tau – a great online valedictory and a lot to be proud of.

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Labour chess

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:48 am by David Farrar

The current internal machinations in Labour are a bit like a game of chess. Grant Robertson is the King of the Board who doesn’t want to do combat himself, so he is sending pawns off to do battle, and clear the way for him. The latest play is:

  • Grant has the numbers to roll Cunliffe, and has had for some time. This is beyond dispute
  • Grant does not want to become Leader yet. He rightfully fears losing the election, having a divided party, and an activist base that will blame him for the loss. This is almost beyond dispute.
  • Another factor for Grant is he is not even sure if he wants to be Leader for the 2017 election if Key still leads National. He only wants to become leader when he thinks the election is winnable (which it was in the middle of last year).
  • David Cunliffe is unlikely to go quietly after the election, if they lose. The magnitude of the loss will be a factor, but very clear signals have been sent out that he believes the unions and activists will stay loyal to him, and allow him to carry on. This is of massive concern to many MPs, and this is almost beyond dispute also.
  • David Shearer has been picked as the candidate to go up against Cunliffe in the December leadership ballot and then the membership vote. He strongly feels he was not given a fair go, and that he can appeal to non-core voters. He is far more angry and resentful against Cunliffe than people realise, but a complicating factor is he is equally resentful towards Robertson whose faction toppled him. But Camp Robertson would support him. I would put this as highly likely if Cunliffe does not resign.
  • A growing number of MPs are worried they will lose their seats and have been canvassing numbers for David Parker to challenge before the House rises. They are worried it will look desperate, and also the election materials have been printed. However the possibility of Little, Ardern and even Parker losing their seats weighs heavily on them. I’d say this is less than 50/50 probability – there is talk, but caution will overcome action.
  • A complicating factor is the Deputy Leadership. Both Parker and Shearer want Robertson as their Deputy so he shares the success or blame of their leadership. He would rather keep his powder dry until it is his time (he saw when deputy to Shearer how much activists also blamed him) and a condition of his support is that Ardern becomes Deputy.

Again change is less likely than not before the election. It must effectively happen today or next Tuesday. There are 60 days until the election. They are resigned to a result probably in the 20s. Their fear is a low to mid 20s result that removes some of their “stars” and leaves them too weakened to be competitive in 2017. They will now accept a result of even 29% as adequate.

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Better Pubic Services Results

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Snapshot July14

So six targets well on track, two on track but changes not embedded and three making progress but not on track for the target.

The changes so far are:

  1. Those on jobseeker support for more than 12 months down from 78,000 to 68,932
  2. Early childhood education participation rate up from 94% to 96%
  3. Infant immunisation rate up from 75% to 91%
  4. Rheumatic fever incidence rate up from 3.7 to 4.3 (so wrong direction with 36 more hospitalisations)
  5. Assaults on children down from 3,176 to 3,111
  6. 18 year olds with NCEA Level 2 up from 68% to 78.6%, Maori from 45% to 63% and Pasifika from 51% to 71%
  7. 25 to 34 year olds with a Level 4 qualification or higher up from 53% to 54.5%
  8. Crime down 16% since 2011, violent crime down 11%, youth crime down 30%
  9. Reoffending rate has dropped by 12.2% which is 2,242 fewer recividist offenders
  10. Effort for business in dealing with Government has increased from base of 100 to 102 (wrong direction)
  11. 42% of transactions with Govt are onlne, up from 30%

I am a huge fan of this approach of having quantified measurable targets that the Government can aim for, and be measured against. It makes Government more accountable and focused on outcomes, rather than outputs or inputs.

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General Debate 22 July 2014

July 22nd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Meet your future NZ First Minister!

July 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I really don’t know what is more terrifying. A New Zealand Member of Parliament who thinks the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is foreign owned, or the fact she still insists it is after being corrected.

I look forward to seeing the NZ First list rankings next month.

The comments on Twitter are gold.

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Back Benches 23 July 2014

July 21st, 2014 at 7:11 pm by Kokila Patel

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!


WORK, WORK, WORK:  Larry Page, boss of the internet giant, Google suggested it’s time for us to work less saying a 4-day work week would create a better work/life balance, happier workers and more productive. Should New Zealand get on board? Do we work too hard? How many work more than 40 hours a week? Do we respect a healthy work/life balance? Are we judged for taking time off? http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/60148227/google-boss-says-people-should-work-less

CENTRAL vs LOCAL BODY DECISIONS: Should water fluoridation be a central government decision versus being left up to local councils to decide. At the Local Government NZ Conference in Nelson, Kapiti Mayor Ross Church says the decision should be with the Ministry of Health rather than local bodies. Does it matter there is no consistency from town to town? And if it becomes a national decision-will it properly represent the feelings of the local residents?


There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:
First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 23rd of July at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!
http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Our Panel: Labour MP David Shearer, National MP Louise Upston, and Green Party MP Eugenie Sage.

” This show is shaping up to be essential election year viewing ” – Paul Casserly, NZ Herald 3/6/14

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A View from the Bridge

July 21st, 2014 at 4:46 pm by David Farrar

Another Arthur Miller classic has just started at Circa, A View from the Bridge.

The promotional tagline is “Love. Loyalty. Family. Revenge” and that is a fairly pithy summary of the play.

Eddie and Beatrice Carbone are an Italian-American family in Brooklyn. Gavin Rutherford and Jude Gibson both do excellent jobs of emulating the distinctive twang we associate with such families.

Eddie and Beatrice are guardians to Eddie’s niece Catherine, played by Acushla-Tara Sutton. Catherine’s parents are dead and her mother was Eddie’s sister. She’s 17 and debating whether to stay at school or enter the workforce.

Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine are a loving family. They argue, but they are there for each other. Then the family extends as they take in two cousins of Beatrice’s from Sicily. Marco and Rodolpho are illegal immigrants who have come to America as there are no jobs or income back home. Marco has a wife and young children back home. Marco is single. they are played by Alex Grieg and Paul Waggott respectively. The sixth cast member is Christopher Brougham who plays the lawyer and narrator Alfieri.

As with almost all Miller plays, they are dramatic portayals of the tensions within a family. And this has tensions in all directions:

  • Eddie’s over-protective attitude towards Catherine goes from paternalistic to creepy
  • Eddie and Beatrice’s strained needy relationship
  • The blossoming love between Rodolpho and Catherine
  • The suspicion that Rodolpho may be more interested in a green card than Catherine, and may not even be that interested in women
  • The protective attitude of Marco to Rodolpho
  • The Sicilian and Italian attitudes towards family and honour

Susan Wilson directs a very faithful and compelling recital of the Miller play. The 80 minute first half sets the scene, with the tension building slowly, and the 40 minute second half is full of explosive tension, which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The play was once banned in the 1950s by the UK Lord Chancellor. Today it would not even get a PG rating.

This is a play about passion, and the cast succeed in portraying this. You feel yourself swept into a maelstrom of emotions. You wonder about whether the over-protectiveness is sinister or just inappropriate. The question of Rodolpho’s intentions tease you throughout the play. I suspect if you polled the audience, they would be divided 50/50 on whether he loves Catherine or not.

The play has a dramatic conclusion, yet it also (deliberately) leaves many questions unanswered. If Miller had ever written a sequel set ten years later, I think that would also have become a classic.

This is the 5th Arthur Miller play directed by Susan Wilson. It was an excellent production as good as you’ll see anywhere. A very good night’s entertainment.

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du Fresne on Hamas

July 21st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes:

There is a ruthless, cynical logic in what Hamas is doing in the Gaza Strip.

The constant rocket attacks on Israel are largely futile in the sense that they do minimal damage. But Hamas knows that as long as the attacks continue, Israel is bound to retaliate. It can hardly allow its territory and people to remain under constant threat.

Hamas’s trump card here is the Western news media. The terrorists know that the casualties of Israeli retaliation – children especially – attract international media sympathy. They make sure TV crews get footage of the funerals and have access to the hospital wards where maimed children are being treated.

They know that their most potent weapon against Israel is not rockets but international opinion. And they know that as long as the media present the conflict as one that is massively one-sided – one that is reported every day in terms of the gross imbalance in the casualty figures, almost as if it were some grotesque sporting encounter – then international opinion will regard Hamas as the wronged party.

There is a degree of truth to this. Israel has more military might so when it responds, more people get killed. Hence for those who treat it as a numbers game, Israel are wrong. They should just let 200 rockets be fired at them, and never retaliate.

I recall a good comment by someone on how the intentions are crucial, and that Israel regards every civilian killed as a mark of failure, while Hamas regards every civilian killed as a mark of success.

There have been the recent tit for tat killings. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in June. Several militant groups (not Hamas) claimed responsibility for the killings. Hamas denied responsibility but there is some evidence that two Hamas members were involved. Hamas has actually published a kidnapping guide.  Sadly many Palestinians openly celebrated the kidnapping and killing.

Horrifically a few weeks later there was a revenge attack where a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped, beaten, and burnt alive. I’m not sure one can or should compare which murders are more horrific, but burning alive is as bad as it gets. The Israeli Police have arrested three men, one of whom has confessed.

What is interesting, and sad, is the reactions to the two despicable murders. Almost without exception the murder of the Palestinian teenager was reviled and condemned by every politician, media outlet and the public. And the perpetrators were arrested and will, if found guilty, go to prison for a long time.

This contrasts with the reaction of many Palestinians to the murder of the Israeli teenagers, where no assistance was given in solving the crime, and there was widespread support for the kidnapping and murder.

Now I understand the grievances of the Palestinians, but when you celebrate the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers, it is hard to persuade Israel that any land for peace settlement would ever be honoured or make them safer.

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