Goff dumps Hulse

Stuff reports:

New Auckland mayor Phil Goff has dumped Penny Hulse as his deputy.

An official announcement is expected later this week, but sources close to the mayor’s office said Hulse would not be getting the nod.

The sources said Hulse, who was former mayor Len Brown’s deputy, had only got as far as being on Goff’s short list.

This is a good decision for Goff. Not that Hulse was a bad Deputy Mayor. Many people said she was better than Brown and held things together.

But Goff would have looked like Len Brown Mark II if he had kept Hulse on as Deputy Mayor. He needs to break from the past (which has just 15% Council satisfaction) and this is the first step in it.

UPDATE: He has chosen Bill Cashmore.

Australian union negotiations

News.com.au reports:

“What do you want to do? You want your job shut down for another two days?” the CFMEU official is heard saying.

“Youse want to f*** with me, I tell you now mate. Get off your f***ing arse, you’re supposed to be a safety adviser.”

The safety adviser, employed by Grocon, informs the union man he is trespassing.

“Go f*** yourself. Film it. Because you know what, I got a lot more f***ing money and loyal people,” the CFMEU official replies.

The argument continues with the Grocon employee asking the union official to leave, and the union official continuing to swear and express threats.

“You know what, I know your phone number. I know where you live c***. I’m telling you now,” he says.

The Police should have arrested the union official. Referring to knowing where he lives is nasty and very threatening.

Master Builders Association chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said it’s accurate to portray the building industry in cities as a lawless sector ruled by thugs. He said the watchdog worked well before.

“It’s the community that’s being cheated, (because) schools and hospital are unnecessarily costing 30 per cent more by the work practices the CFMEU imposes on contractors,” he told ABC radio.

There’s been ample evidence over the years about the corruption in the Australian union movement.

Annual inflation just 0.2%

Stats NZ reports:

CPI inflation was 0.2 percent in the year to the September 2016 quarter. This compares with 0.4 percent annually for both the June and March 2016 quarters, and the 16-year low of 0.1 percent in the year to December 2015.

Housing-related prices continued to be the main upward contributor, up 3.2 percent in the year. This increase was influenced by higher prices for purchase of new housing, excluding land (up 6.3 percent), and rentals for housing (up 2.1 percent). Property maintenance prices, such as painting and plumbing, have also increased steadily throughout the year and are now 3.1 percent higher than a year ago.

Transport prices made the largest downward contribution for the year, down 6.7 percent as prices for petrol and vehicle relicensing fell.

“Petrol prices in the September 2016 quarter were 11 percent lower than a year ago,” Mr Haigh said. Petrol makes up around 5 percent of the CPI basket.

Excluding petrol, the CPI showed a 0.8 percent increase in the year to the September 2016 quarter.

Low inflation is great for families. It means that they get to save and spend more of their income, which high inflation eats away at. A 2% wage increase with 0.4% inflation is better than a 3% wage increase with 2% inflation.

There is reason to not want deflation, but I don’t think we are in danger of that as CPI would be 0.8% if you exclude petrol.

Hehir on poverty and crime

Liam Hehir writes:

Last week, Judith Collins reaffirmed her status as the great bogeywoman of the chattering classes by offering her opinion that crime is not caused by poverty.

The backlash against the Police Minister was swift and inevitable. Anti-poverty campaigners condemned her, the opposition denounced her and almost every news story on the subject carried the assumption that she had said something deeply controversial and offensive.

And yet what Judith Collins said would be met with agreement – to one degree or another – by the vast majority of New Zealanders. After all, we are constantly told that there are an awful lot of people growing up in poverty and only a small percentage of them wind up hardened criminals.

I don’t think poverty causes crime. I think crime infested households tend to bring up criminals. But even then it is not an absolute – John Banks being a good example of someone who broke free.

The overt tone of disgust that characterised the reaction to Collins’ comments will only reinforce the perception that the Left is wedded to the idea that certain groups are controlled by their environment and so cannot be held responsible for their actions.

Even free choice is not seen as a factor, as some on the left argue that whether people made good or bad choices is programmed into them by their environment.

I worked at a supermarket through most of my studies. One of my tasks was to process emergency food grants from WINZ, which before being accepted for payment had to be manually approved by a supervisor. As part of this you had to check that no alcohol of tobacco was being purchased with the grant. Beyond that, however, there were few restrictions on what foodstuffs could be brought.

From memory, the typical grant was in the order of $140, which if you’re hard up can be stretched a long way when it comes to buying food. Eight dollars, for example, can easily buy you a kilogram of nutritious brown rice and a kilogram of frozen vegetables. Together, these can form the basis of 10 filling meals.

Or, it can buy you a large bottle of Coke and packet of chips. If you want to know which combinations went through more often, try asking anybody who has ever worked a supermarket till.

I think we can guess!

Checkout operators would be polite and courteous with these customers, of course. Nevertheless, nobody ever got rich as a supermarket employee and I know it was grating for many workers who carefully budgeted their pay to process such imprudent transactions. It wasn’t uncommon to hear grumbling at tea breaks about how such grants should be limited to the purchase of actual staples.

But the problem is that this would be a backwards step. If someone reaches adulthood and you still can’t figure out that the limited emergency relief available to them should not be wasted on expensive junk food, then they have problems that go beyond money. Treating them like a child by taking away their right to choose their food won’t help fight their way out of dependence – it will only reinforce their sense of helplessness.

Also it can set up a black market where people will but the allowable food, and trade it for the food they really want.

One person with more experience with the underclass than your typical metropolitan liberal is Theodore Dalrymple, a retired British prison psychiatrist. His book Life at the Bottom is a sobering collection of essays about those he treated over the years. One of the book’s persistent themes was the manner in which so many of his inmate patients were trapped in a reflexive rationalisation of the terrible things they had done to other people.

According to Dalrymple, the dogmatic insistence that poverty causes crime reinforces the idea that those in the underclass are passive beings with no capacity to exert control over their lives. It is to deny them the moral agency that goes to the core of our humanity. Quite simply, it is to treat them like animals.

If you actually look at what Collins said, it looks like this is what she was getting at. By refusing to agree that poverty drives people into crime, she was affirming the capacity that all people have to live an honourable life and to raise decent children – no matter their social class. And even if you hate Judith Collins, you cannot deny she is right about that.

The $400 a head party ratepayers paid for

Stuff reports:

A doorman in tails, a light show, drag queens and hula hoop dancers, and the region’s finest food and drink in a beautifully restored historic building.

Just don’t call it a party.

Back in July Wellington City Council hosted a lavish event to celebrate the signing of its sister city agreement with Canberra, Australia’s capital, as well as Singapore Airlines’ new route linking the two cities with the Asian commercial hub.

So WCC secretly funds Singapore Air to fly to Wellington with $8 million of subsidies, and decides that this needs celebrating with a huge party!

Hosted in the Public Trust building, the invite-only event was attended by 131 people, including more than a dozen elected officials from either side of the Tasman.

How nice for the elected officials.

Guests were served canapes, craft beer and wine from the Wairarapa.

Figures obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union show the event cost ratepayers a little over $51,000, or close to $400 for every person who attended.

A $400 a head party, funded by ratepayers.

Wellington City Council communications director Jeremy Baker said the spending was “excellent value for money” but insisted the event was not a party.

“[W]e would not accept [the] characterisation” of the event as a party Baker said.

Asked how he would characterise the event, Baker said “it was an event organised to celebrate the new sister city relationship with Canberra and the Singapore Airlines announcement” as well as “a chance for Wellington businesses to show off their creativity to the visiting leaders”.

It it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck …

I’m almost past getting angry about these, they are happening so often.

A classy response to death threats

The President of The Arizona Republic writes:

As someone who has spent a career in thebusiness of words, it’s unusual to find myself speechless.

Yet, there I was, a little more than two weeks ago.

What is the correct response, really, to this?




How did I come to be hearing these threats?

More than a year ago, The Arizona Republic’s editorial board began taking a stand against the actions and positioning of Donald Trump. In piece after piece, we made it clear that his principles weren’t conservative. They were bad for the party, bad for Arizona, dangerous for America.

But in its more than 125 years, The Republic had never endorsed a Democrat for president. So, over the many months of the campaign, we found ourselves with this question: Endorse no one, or endorse a Democrat for the first time in our history?

They decided to endorse Clinton.

To the anonymous caller who invoked the name of Don Bolles — he’s the Republic reporter who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago — and threatened that more of our reporters would be blown up because of the endorsement, I give you Kimberly. She is the young woman who answered the phone when you called. She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said. She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you. Prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.

To those who said we should be shut down, burned down, who said they hoped we would cease to exist under a new presidential administration, I give you Nicole. She is our editor who directs the news staff, independent of our endorsements. After your threats, Nicole put on her press badge and walked with her reporters and photographers into the latest Donald Trump rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz. She stood as Trump encouraged his followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists. Then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair. Nicole knows free speech requires an open debate.

To those of you who have said that someone who disagrees with you deserves to be punished, I give you Phil. Our editorial page editor is a lifelong Republican, a conservative and a patriot. He was an early voice of reason, arguing calmly that Donald Trump didn’t represent the values of the party he loves. Phil understands that free speech sometimes requires bravery. 

And threats to her personally:

To those of you who have said Jesus will judge me, that you hope I burn in hell, that non-Christians should be kept out of our country, I give you my pastor grandfather. He was imprisoned and tortured for being a Christian, and suffered the murder of his best friend for also refusing to deny Christ. He taught all that freedom of religion is a fragile and precious thing.

Much as my grandfather taught, I also know there are a lot of things worth standing up for.

If you don’t like an editorial, you are free to complain or unsubscribe. But threatening violence is always wrong.

Of course in NZ, it is the Herald hires you if you threaten violence against people for their views!

This is actually an ad for alcohol!


Most of us think this is an ad for cricket, but one Stuff Nation contributor think it is an ad for alcohol:

Long before any interpretation of the poster promoting cricket, I saw alcohol bottles.

And then I read the slogan: “It all starts here”.

I asked my Facebook friends what they saw, and one said “I saw alcohol bottles”.

Another friend asked a room full of adults. They all thought it was an alcohol campaign.

Does it all start here for the alcohol industry? With primary school kids of five to 11 years of age?

I was disturbed by the poster intended for my eight year old because the message I received was that our national sports team and his sporting heroes, the Black Caps, were associated with alcohol.

The wood-grain of the bats, the elegantly wrapped handles, the striking composition, the colours as well as the lighting all gave off an impressive and sophisticated look. 

The reasonable placement for such a poster would have been on his bedroom wall where he would pass it each night before he went to sleep and each morning when he woke up. No battery, electricity or charger required.

Are the Black Caps a vehicle to circumvent the Law Commission’s regulations regarding alcohol marketing to children? 

Wasn’t the alcohol industry cunning. In 1550 they persuaded the gentleman of England to make their cricket bats look sublimally like bottles of alcohol, so that 500 years later eight years old would put posters of cricket teams over their beds, and have alcohol normalised to them.

Yes you are a bit of a knob!

Stuff reports:

A former Auckland mayoral candidate has claimed that “the system is rigged” after being convicted of drink-driving and failing to stop after a crash.

Adam Holland, 25, ran for the mayoralty this year on the Auckland Legalise Cannabis ticket.

He made headlines in September for yelling “Oooh, I can feel a brawl” and “Allahu Akbar” – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – at a candidates’ debate.

He later defended his actions by saying he was “incredibly drunk”.

Being drunk can be fine. Being drunk at a mayoral debate less fine. Being drunk while driving is definitely not fine.

On Monday, he admitted he had been convicted on July 28 in the Auckland District Court of driving with excess blood alcohol and failing to stop or ascertain injury after a crash.

The charges related to an April incident in Te Kuiti when he drove into the back of a Nissan carrying a woman and two children.

Holland admitted blowing 1054 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath when found by the police. The legal limit is 250mcg.

I wonder what time of day this was.

But he said the crash was “nowhere near as severe” as the police summary of facts made it out to be.

He said he had had four beers in the hours leading up to the crash.

Four beers over several hours will not get you a blood alcohol that high unless they are very very large beers.

“My leg started hurting and I’m quite prone to panic attacks so I took out a bottle of whisky from the back of the car and took a few swigs.

“I probably shouldn’t have done it – I’m probably a bit of a knob.”

Yes you are.

Passenger projections

Michael Reddell blogs:

I dealt with the visitor number points in this post late last year.   The WIAL cost-benefit analysis uses passenger projections which assume an increase of 200000 visitors to New Zealand (building up over time) simply because it becomes physically possible to fly long haul into Wellington.   That seems implausible.  In his own look at the passenger projections, Ian Harrison of Tailrisk Economics, noted that the numbers assumed that within 20 years 30000 more Americans a year will come to New Zealand simply because they can fly directly into Wellington.   One can imagine a few more might want to arrive via Wellington, but is it really credible that so many more will come to New Zealand as a whole?  Perhaps more startling were the assumptions for “other Asia” (ie other than China and Japan).  At present, only around 30000 people come from those countries to Wellington in a year.  The projections assume that putting in a runway allowing long-haul flights will provide a boost of an additional 105000 visitors annually within 20 years.  Were Wellington Florence, perhaps it would be a credible story.  As it is –  and even with some more marketing spending and a heavily subsidized new film museum – it just doesn’t ring true.  Long-haul passengers don’t come to New Zealand for its cities –  the cities are mostly gateways, and in the case of the lower North Island, Wellington isn’t the gateway to much.  (And yes, I can see the South Island as I type, so perhaps there is a small “gateway to the South, by slow ferry” market).

So a 400 metre runway extension will lead to a 350% increase in people choosing to visit Wellington, from Asian countries (excluding China and Japan).

This is why it is essential that local Councils commission independent advice on the benefits.

The Greens plastic bag tax

The Greens have said:

The Green Party’s Waste Minimisation (Single-use Plastic Bag) Amendment Bill, launched this morning, will reduce plastic bag waste, and support organisations cleaning up our environment.

A 15 cent charge will be placed on single-use plastic bags at check-out, and proceeds raised will go back towards support for non-profit organisations doing waste minimisation projects or education.

“New Zealanders use 1.6 billion single-use plastic bags a year despite the growing numbers of people who refuse them at the check-out,” said Green Party waste spokesperson Denise Roche.

So that is an extra $240 million in tax per year on households. Would be a better proposition if they promised to reduce other taxes to compensate, but there is no end to how high they want the tax burden to grow.

“Consumers paying a small charge on single-use plastic bags has been very effective in the UK, where it has reduced plastic bag usage by 85 percent since it was introduced late last year, and raised nearly £30 million for charity.”

A tax will reduce the number of plastic bags, but they often forget about the impact of substitution. I previously blogged:

  • Plastic bags have a minor impact on greenhouse gas emissions compared to a cotton bag. Cotton bags have 131 times the greenhouse gas emissions
  • Only an estimated 0.5% of domestic waste are plastic bags
  • Most plastic bags are not single use but 90% get re-used for household purposes such as refuse holding
  • Plastic bags can actually be recycled – just very few people know this
  • A ban or tax on light plastic bags leads to more people buying heavier bags such as trash can liners which have a bigger environmental impact
  • Reusable bags tend to have a higher level of bacteria in them causing illness and even death in extreme cases

Matthews on vaping

Philip Matthews has a long article on vaping in NZ:

Change is coming to this murky area. Health academic Marewa Glover praises Government minister Sam Lotu-Iiga for opening up a discussion on vaping in New Zealand. 

As Associate Minister of Health, Lotu-Iiga called for submissions on e-cigarettes. A Ministry of Health spokeswoman says that 250 submissions came in from interested parties, including retailers and users, and Lotu-Iiga will take recommendations to Cabinet by the end of 2016. 

Glover says it is likely that the Government will amend the Smoke-free Environments Act rather than create a new law for vaping. That strikes her as sensible. But from her position as associate professor of public health at Massey University, she is concerned that there is a level of ignorance or naivete even in the health sector. 

There are several big questions to tackle. Yes, nicotine products should be legal, Glover says, but where should they be sold? Retailers such as Cosmic hope to limit them to specialist vaping stores, which obviously suits their interests, but what about rural areas? Is Cosmic or the Auckland chain Shosha going to open outlets in small-town New Zealand?

The pharmacy-only model has been floated but what happens when big tobacco companies get into vaping, as they are starting to overseas? Will our pharmacies feel comfortable selling their products? 

Glover argues that when nicotine is legal, it should be sold everywhere that cigarettes are now. Dairies, gas stations. There could even be a legal requirement to stock vaping products alongside old-fashioned smokes. 

I can’t work out why you would make a product that is 95% less harmful than tobacco, harder to access. I wouldn’t make it compulsory to stock alongside tobacco, but it should be legal to sell in the same venues.

Next, the age issue. Vaping stores plaster R18 signs on their doors, observing the conventions of smoking law. But for Glover, this creates the wrong impression. We let 12-year-olds use nicotine patches and gum. To restrict vaping to adults will create an impression that it is as dangerous as smoking. 

Here I disagree. Vaping is not the same as a nicotine patch. I would not want to see under 18s vaping. I do recognise that some under 18s smoke, so perhaps you have an ability for a doctor to prescribe vaping for someone under 18 who is already a smoker?

Getting paid not to milk

Stuff reports:

Europe is attempting to rein in milk production by its 52,000 dairy farmers with a scheme to pay them to not produce milk, and while the farmers have rushed to take it up, the success of the plan will not be known until early next year.

The 150 million euro carrot – more than $233 million – has been fully subscribed, with Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan predicting the move would lead to a fall in production after four years of continuous increase.

“I am confident that this measure, allied to others included in the July and earlier packages, will contribute further to an already stabilising market situation in the European dairy market,” Hogan said.

So the EU uses subsidies to pay farmers to do dairy and then further subsidies to pay them to not do dairy.

Wouldn’t it be simpler if they just left farmers to discover for themselves if dairy is profitable for them, as we do in NZ?

A good gang?

The Herald reports:

The Tribal Huk’s war against P in Ngaruawahia appears to be off to a strong start with the gang claiming they have decommissioned 10 P houses.

As of Saturday morning, the small Waikato town was P free, a gang source told Fairfax. …

Pink said the deadline ended at 6.30pm on Friday and after asking once, visits would begin to those who hadn’t gone.

The source said five or six P dealers left without a fuss, while the remaining few were given a “hand.”

“When it’s time to go, it’s time to go,” he said.

“Those that listened were escorted out. Those that didn’t were handled and escorted out.

There are no more P dealers in Ngaraz.”

Have to give them full marks for effectiveness.

She’d be better off campaigning for Trump

Stuff reports:

Christchurch woman Rachel Thomas and her three children will walk from Christchurch to Wellington to protest the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) trade deal. 

Thomas and her children, Tema,11, Pita, 9, and Jai, 5, will set off at 9.30am from Cathedral Square and make their way to Kaiapoi with about 40 supporters.

The walk will take three weeks with the group expected to arrive in Wellington on November 3. 

Speaking from the house bus she shares with her children and partner, Justin Roberts,Thomas said the trade deal, which was signed by the Government in February, could still be over-turned.

So she is taking her kids on a three week protest march rather than have them in lessons. So great to have a five year old on a protest march.

Anyway she is wasting her time marching in New Zealand. Her golden hope is Donald Trump. If he is elected US President, that will kill the TPP. So she’d be far better off to drive her house bus over to the US so she can campaign for him.


Spying on dairy farmers

Stuff reports:

Dairy farmers are being warned to watch out for hidden cameras in their dairy sheds after a Waikato farmer recently found such a device in his milking shed.

The camera was aimed at the area where the farmer places milking cups on the cows, Waikato Federated Farmers president Chris Lewis said.

It had been placed there without permission.

“That’s very much a concern, not just because it’s illegal or the privacy issues, but it’s also all the other issues around on farm security, health and safety and all of the other things farmers have to deal with and then you find you have been snooped on for no reason.

It is both illegal and a gross invasion of privacy.

While he would not comment on who he believed put the camera there, a message alerting farmers of the camera on the federation’s facebook page pointed the finger at animal rights activists.

“It seems there are people around who think filming dairy cows being milked will give them evidence of animal welfare issues,” it said.

However, Animal Rights group SAFE said the cameras did not belong to it, while another group, Farmwatch, would neither confirm nor deny they installed the cameras.

Farmwatch investigator John Darroch told RNZ the group did not comment on operational matters, or how they carried out investigations.

“I’m not willing to comment, but what I would say is you should contact [Ministry for Primary Industries] and see if they are their cameras, because since our investigation last year I’ve been pushing them to take a more proactive approach – we’ve seen that a complaint based system doesn’t work.”

I’d say it is Farmwatch. The other groups were happy to deny it. It will be great if they can prove who did it, so they can be prosecuted.

Fibre connections double in a year

Stats NZ reports:

The number of fibre-optic broadband connections in New Zealand has more than doubled since June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today. Over 220,000 broadband connections in New Zealand are made through fibre, compared with 105,000 one year ago. As at 30 June 2016, over 12 percent of all broadband connections were through fibre-optic connections, a high-speed way to use the internet.

“In 2016 around 1 in 8 broadband connections is made through a fibre-optic connection,” business performance senior manager Jason Attewell said. “The market share that fibre occupies has really taken off, since it was only 1 in 20 connections one year ago. The total number of fibre connections has doubled in each of the last four years.”

Great progress. In 2012 there were just 5,400 fibre connections and now there are 223,000.

Speeds are increasing also. In 2012 only 1% of broadband connections had a download speed of over 24 Mbps. Today 31% are faster than 24 Mbps. Also connections slower than 8 Mbps have gone from 30% to 1%.

Also really pleasing is the trend with data caps. In 2012 and 2013 only 5% of connections had no data cap. Today it is 49% with no data cap. This is reflected in our monthly total data use which has gone from 25 petabytes to 143 petabytes.


Weighting Surveys

The NY Times reports:

There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election.

He is sure he is going to vote for Donald J. Trump.

And he has been held up as proof by conservatives — including outlets like Breitbart News and The New York Post — that Mr. Trump is excelling among black voters. He has even played a modest role in shifting entire polling aggregates, like the Real Clear Politics average, toward Mr. Trump.

How? He’s a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign. Despite falling behind by double digits in some national surveys, Mr. Trump has generally led in the U.S.C./LAT poll. He held the lead for a full month until Wednesday, when Hillary Clinton took a nominal lead.

Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he’s weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent.

That is a huge weighting. I get nervous if a respondent has a weighting of more than two, and preferably you aim for weights of say between 0.75 and 1.5.

Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters. He can improve Mr. Trump’s margin by 1 point in the survey, even though he is one of around 3,000 panelists.

He is also the reason Mrs. Clinton took the lead in the U.S.C./LAT poll for the first time in a month on Wednesday. The poll includes only the last seven days of respondents, and he hasn’t taken the poll since Oct. 4. Mrs. Clinton surged once he was out of the sample for the first time in several weeks.

How has he made such a difference? And why has the poll been such an outlier? It’s because the U.S.C./LAT poll made a number of unusual decisions in designing and weighting its survey. …

Just about every survey is weighted — adjusted to match the demographic characteristics of the population, often by age, race, sex and education, among other variables.

The U.S.C./LAT poll is no exception, but it makes two unusual decisions that combine to produce an odd result.

■ It weights for very tiny groups, which results in big weights.

■ It weights by past vote.

Thomas Lumley comments at Stats Chat:

Even in New Zealand, you often see people claiming, for example, that opinion polls will underestimate the Green Party vote because Green voters are younger and more urban, and so are less likely to have landline phones. As we see from the actual elections, that isn’t true.

In fact the Greens tend to do worse than the polls have them.

Pollers know about these simple forms of bias, and use weighting to fix them — if they poll half as many young voters as they should, each of their votes counts twice. Weighting isn’t as good as actually having a representative sample, but it’s ok — and unlike actually having a representative sample, it’s achievable.


One of the tricky parts of weighting is which groups to weight. If you make the groups too broadly-defined, you don’t remove enough bias; if you make them too narrowly-defined, you end up with a few people getting really extreme weights, making the sampling error much larger than it should be. That’s what happened here: the survey had one person in one of its groups, and that person turned out to be unusual. But it gets worse.

The impact of the weighting was amplified because this is a panel survey, polling the same people repeatedly. Panel surveys are useful because they allow much more accurate estimation of changes in opinions, but an unlucky sample will persist over many surveys.

Worse still, one of the weighting factors used was how people say they voted in 2012. That sounds sensible, but it breaks one of the key assumptions about weighting variables: you need to know the population totals.  We know the totals for how the population really voted in 2012, but reported vote isn’t the same thing at all — people are surprisingly unreliable at reporting how they voted in the past.

The NZ Political Polling Code recommends against weighting by previous vote for this exact reason – people are unreliable in reporting this. There is a tendency for more people to say they voted for the winning party and candidate than they actually did. And when a party gets into trouble, fewer voters will admit to having voted for them last time. For example over 4% of people voted Conservative last election, but a far smaller percentage will actually report doing so at the present because of the Colin Craig issues.

So weighting is good, but if you do it badly it may make a poll less accurate, not more accurate.


Van Beynen on poverty

Martin van Beynen writes:

Guess what? Fixing child poverty in New Zealand is not that hard.

Let’s call it the John Minto solution. First, every family with less than a certain income will be brought up to a minimum stipend based on what is required for the family to live comfortably in their location.

If they can’t find good quality accommodation at a reasonable price, maybe because they have a bad credit record or a record of smashing up their previous flats, then the state will provide them with a nice place to live in a nice street at a modest rent.

 If they have harmful addictions, those will receive concentrated and long term attention. However long it takes. Tendencies towards crime and violence will be met with counselling and psychiatric help. Any health, including mental health, issues will receive the best specialist care and they will receive 24hr life coaching and advice from trained support staff. Children will receive extra tuition and any proclivities towards anti-social behaviour will be handled at a best practice standard.
Cost? Not relevant.
You might need a top tax rate of 90% in the dollar, but hey.

Meanwhile back in the real world, inhabited by people like Minister of Police Judith Collins, things are a bit different. This week she blamed bad parenting as a major factor in crime.

Of course the media chased down all the hand wringers and bleeding hearts, who have never had to make a hard decision about tax payer dollars, to get the predictable reproof.

It’s hard to know where the condemnation was going but it seemed to suggest that parenting wasn’t much of factor in child poverty which wasn’t what Collins was saying at all.

Just to recap.   

At the Police Association conference in Wellington, Collins was asked what the Government was doing about child poverty because a lot of gang members came from poor backgrounds.

Judith Collins said money was available for those that needed it and money was not the only the problem.

“It’s not that, it’s people who don’t look after their children, that’s the problem.

“And they can’t look after their children in many cases because they don’t know how to look after their children or even think they should look after their children.

“I see a poverty of ideas, a poverty of parental responsibility, a poverty of love, a poverty of caring.”

I don’t need to do any of National’s ceaseless polling to know what middle New Zealand thinks of that because it’s obvious. Middle New Zealand is going to agree with Collins.

I loathe smug, silver-spoon, born-to-rule National Party people as much as I despise the bleeding heart, champagne socialist brigade but Collins was on the button when she said lack of money wasn’t the real cause of crime.

Talk to any cop or social worker and you will hear that bad parenting is the main reason for delinquency and youth crime.

Sadly this is true.

Lots of people in New Zealand are hard-up. They might be going from benefit day to benefit day or pay packet to pay packet, but that doesn’t mean their children go to school without a lunch and don’t get care and affection.

All the longitudinal studies show some people are predisposed to not getting along in their communities. In other words some are born awful but most achieve awfulness through their upbringing. Add a couple of ingredients like poor parenting, a chaotic household, moving around a lot and Mum having lots of boyfriends and you have the recipe for disaster.

That’s not to say lack of money has no influence on the already dysfunctional family. It will cause stress and stress causes some people to go off the rails.

But to attack Collins for stating the bleeding obvious is to absolve people of responsibility and divert attention from the real problem.

Of course there will be hard-up families with both parents working hard and not smoking or drinking and going to church on Sundays. There’s probably about two of them in the whole country. And don’t forget they get Working for Families benefits and accommodation supplements. Their children get free education, no-one is going to charge them for hospital visits and medical treatment if required and they might be eligible for other benefits as well.

They might be poor compared to a wealthy doctor living in Remuera in Auckland but on a world poverty scale they are in clover.

In the last year we spent $53 billion assisting poorer families with welfare, and providing free healthcare and education.

Sensing Murder

Steve Kilgallon at Stuff writes:

Sensing Murder, where self-acclaimed psychics attempt to divine the fates of missing people, will return to New Zealand television screens again in 2017.

The show gives psychics photos of missing – presumed dead – people and asks them to discover their fates. 

Not once has this had any measurable impact. Police have confirmed that in four seasons of the show, no tips from a psychic have led to a case being solved. 

Not just that: they’ve demonstrably offered incorrect findings. 

And last time around, programme makers turned down an offer worth up to $400,000 from Wanaka tourist entrepreneur Stuart Landsborough to have the psychics’ work independently tested and evaluated.

Between them, the psychics have no scientific or legal qualification, no formal investigatory experience, nothing to single them out from me, you or your pet dog in being worthy to solve crimes, and indeed to solve them on primetime television. That being so, I could go on the next season of Sensing Murder and be just as much use to them in finding out whodunnit.

The show is an insult to the police, for these are usually cases they have spent many years and plenty of resources trying to solve.

It’s an insult to the families, whether they have co-operated or not, to re-open new wounds and win publicity and acclaim from their pain.

It’s an insult to New Zealand television audiences that they be expected to swallow such patent rubbish. 

The only people to benefit are the psychics, who get free publicity to drive their businesses. By the way, I’m not saying they don’t genuinely believe they have some sort of ability to help. I’m saying those in charge shouldn’t humour that delusion.

I couldn’t agree more. It is appalling TVNZ puts on such a show, which just exploits the pain of victims of crime.

Peters says ditch most speed cameras

The Herald reports:

A “king hit” punch crime would be established and speed cameras will only be allowed in accident blackspots and near schools, under New Zealand First policy unveiled by leader Winston Peters today. …

… Allow speed cameras only when used as a deterrent at accident blackspots, or near schools or other places where there are specific potential dangers.

Sounds good to me also.

Kasich backs TPP

John Kasich writes in the WP:

Does the United States still have the ability — or the will — to be the undisputed global leader, a role it has held since World War II? It’s a question to be answered soon by members of Congress as they approve or reject an initiative to give the United States expanded access to 11 countries that represent more than a quarter of the world’s trade, while leveling the playing field for U.S. workers and businesses.

How they vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement will affect the course of the United States’ security, prosperity and global influence for the rest of the 21st century and determine whether we advance or retreat from our leadership role at a time of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty.

For me, the only common-sense direction is forward, because trade is the foundation of peace. Not only will the TPP promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, but also it will help maintain the United States’ essential strength in that hemisphere at a time of increased Chinese and Russian assertiveness.

Nice to see some supporters of free trade left in the GOP. It is possible the Trump implosion may be so huge that it will free more Republicans up to ignore him and to vote to ratify the TPP.

Seeking to trade up his Council job before he is even sworn in

Stuff reports:

Three aspiring Labour politicians have put their hands up for what could be one of the most closely watched scraps at the next general election.

Nominations for the Labour Party’s 2017 Hutt South candidate have closed, with Virginia Andersen, Campbell Barry, and Sarah Packer putting their names forward.

Barry was re-elected on Saturday as a Wainuiomata ward councillor on Hutt City Council; Andersen was Labour’s candidate in Ohariu against Peter Dunne in 2014; and Packer is a newcomer to politics with firsthand experience of homelessness.

So do I have this right? Campbell Barry was seeking the Labour nomination for Hutt South at the same time as he was campaigning for the Hutt Council. Did he tell the voters this?