No money for Team NZ

April 20th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The future of Team New Zealand is looking grim after the announcement today that there will be no America’s Cup pre-regatta for Auckland. …

“I think we’re at the end of the road really,” the Prime Minister said.

“Of course Steven Joyce will continue to have discussions with Grant Dalton, but the government’s position has been pretty clear.

“With the event being held 100 percent in Bermuda, that becomes a really challenging issue to go beyond the $5 million we’ve already put in.”

I’m glad there will be no further taxpayer money. I hope Team NZ get enough private sponsors to continue, but I don’t think there was a case for more Government funding.

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Have they not heard of Maori TV or Radio NZ?

April 20th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A lobby group pushing for public broadcasting in New Zealand says the government is denying viewers the right to watch decent public service programming.

The Coalition for Better Broadcasting said they want an alternative network to cater for more serious news and current affairs, in light of uncertainty about Campbell Live’s future.

There is an alternative network – Maori TV. Also Radio NZ. Plus broadcasting is a fading medium. There is no absence of news and current affairs reporting across the media as a whole. But even within broadcasting, there are 20 news and current affairs shows on television – not including the 7 pm shows.

Coalition chief executive and TV director Myles Thomas criticised Prime Minister John Key for his comments on Thursday questioning whether enough people would watch publicly funded broadcast TV

The answer was yes, he said.

So how many people watch Maori TV? How many watch Native Affairs which is on prime time? It is a great current affairs show.

He said New Zealand had one of the lowest government contributions to public broadcasting and a publicly funded TV network was desperately needed.

What Myles means is that taxpayers should be forced to fund a TV station that would spend its entire day and night pushing causes he approves of.

Taxpayers currently put just over $210 million a year into public broadcasting. In 2011 this was:

  • NZ on Air $82 million
  • Maori TV $58 million
  • Radio NZ $36 million
  • Other TV/Radio $34 million

Australia spends around $1.4 billion on public broadcasting (ABC $1.1b and SBS $0.3b).

In US$ this is $161m for NZ and $1,088 for Aus.

The IMF has Australian’s economy at US$1.44t and NZ economy at US$181b.

So our spend as a percentage of GDP is around 0.089% for NZ and 0.076% for Australia. This is a ballpark calculation but shows we are not under-investing for our size.

The Canadian Government contribution to the CBC is around 0.050% of GDP. Again below NZ.

There are thousand of lobby groups who call for more funding for their pet hobby horse or industry. If the Government gave into all of them, we’d be in the same position as Greece.

I’m not against there being a combined public service TV and radio broadcaster. But they would have to operate on the current combined funding for NZ on Air, Maori TV and Radio NZ.

The other thing they would have to do is to be truly politically neutral – something the Australian, UK and Canadian public broadcasters all fail at.

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Banks gets an urgent hearing

April 20th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Court of Appeal has ordered an urgent hearing after new evidence has emerged  in the John Banks donations case.

The court has ordered the hearing before the end of the month to decide if Banks should face a retrial over his declaration concerning donations from internet mogul Kim Dotcom to his failed 2010 mayoral campaign. 

The new evidence is that a Crown lawyer interviewed Dotcom before Banks’ appeal was heard last year, the interview raised questions about the date of the lunch at the centre of the allegations, and that information was not passed to Banks legal team.

Not disclosing relevant information to the defence is a big no no.

While the Court has yet to hear the substantive case, the fact they have agreed to an urgent hearing suggests there is some merit to the recall application.

Banks’ lawyer David Jones, QC, filed an application to the Court of Appeal saying he had received fresh material from the Crown about the contentious lunch at Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion in rural West Auckland.

The application says that before the Court of Appeal hearing last year, a lawyer acting on instructions of the Crown, had interviewed Kim Dotcom about the affidavits from the US businessmen.provided by Amanda Banks. But a memo about that interview was not disclosed to Banks’ legal team.

The memo raised new issues about when the lunch actually took place.- June 5 or June 9 – and whether there was one lunch or two, and if there were two, who was present at each lunch.

According to the Banks team, the memo fundamentally changes the Crown case. 

The outcome of the hearing will be most interesting. If Banks wins, then there will be significant scrutiny around the actions of Crown Law.

If Banks does not get the retrial scrapped, then there will of course be a new trial. But the Crown case will have to decide how weight to be given to the ever changing evidence from Dotcom.

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Welfare changes over last five years

April 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

MSD has published the latest benefit data, with comparisons for the last five years. Some changes

  • A 12.5% drop of people on the main welfare benefits, being 40,554 fewer
  • A 16.9% drop of people on job seeker benefits, being 23,809 fewer
  • A 19.1% drop of people on sole parent benefits, being 16,574 fewer
  • A 4.7% drop of Maori on main welfare benefits, being 4,851 fewer
  • A 19.0% drop of Pasifkia on main welfare benefits, being 5,202 fewer
  • A 21.2% drop of Under 25s on main welfare benefits, being 12,726 fewer
  • A 6.8% drop of people on main welfare benefits for over a year, being 15,475 fewer

I think the most important change is the 21.2% drop of under 25s being on welfare.Reducing the number of people who go onto welfare very young, and never leave is essential.

The drops will be a combination of a growing economy, and the welfare reforms.

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Why does the TAB have a sports monopoly?

April 20th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Nathan Guy has announced:

A working group has been appointed to shed some light on the growth of New Zealanders engaging in offshore online racing and sports betting, Racing Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

I suspect “shed light” means trying to ban.

“The TAB is operated by the New Zealand Racing Board and has a national monopoly on all racing and sports betting.

Why?

Wouldn’t it be nice if National stood up for a belief in competition and choice and allowed any reputable provider who met accreditation standards to offer sports betting?

The Racing Board is required by law to distribute all profits from this betting back to the racing industry, which relies on these distributions to survive. National Sporting Organisations also receive a percentage of sports betting turnover,” says Mr Guy.

Again one could require all betting operators to give a percentage of betting turnover to respective sporting bodies, but allow competition.

“When New Zealanders place their sports and racing bets with overseas betting operators online, they operate outside of our regulatory framework. This means that offshore organisations make money on New Zealand racing and sports without paying their fair share of tax, or making contributions back to the racing industry or sporting organisations that make the betting possible in the first place.

“These New Zealanders are also operating outside the safety net of gambling harm mitigation that we have here,” says Mr Guy.

This sounds very nanny state like. If New Zealanders are choosing to use overseas betting sites, then that shows the monopoly held by the TAB is not satisfying New Zealanders. The solution is to allow choice and competition within NZ.

The working group will commence this month and is due to report back with recommendations for the Minister later this year.

The group will chaired by former Minister, Chris Tremain. Other members are: New Zealand Racing Board Chief Executive, John Allen; the Chair of Sport New Zealand, Sir Paul Collins; breeder, racehorse owner and the NZRB’s Thoroughbred representative, Greg McCarthy; and two Internal Affairs officials.

Chris Tremain is a good guy, but a group dominated by the racing industry is going to look at what is best for the racing industry, not what is best for the public good.

There is no chance they’re going to say the way to reduce NZers using overseas betting sites, is to allow more choice within NZ. They will probably try to criminalise NZers using overseas sites, or even worse demand the Internet be censored to try and prevent access to them.

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m pessimistic about where this may go.

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General Debate 20 April 2015

April 20th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Those who opposed the Crafar farm sale should apologise

April 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Remember all those politicians in Labour, Greens and NZ First who spent over a year demonising the sale of the Crafar farms, because it was to those nasty foreigners.

Well read this story at Stuff:

Pengxin has bankrolled the Collins Rd farm resurrection for $1.72 million and counting.

Colebourn and his five staff have supplied the brains and brawn to turn what was by all accounts a train wreck into an operation which this season will produce 365,000kg milksolids and is  turning a profit for its owner.

So now profitable.

The Crafar farms sale to a Chinese company was controversial with public campaigns and court challenges to try to keep the properties in New Zealand hands. But Pengxin took on challenges many Kiwis may have quailed at, even if their pockets could have withstood the punishment.

Take Collins Rd for example. The 393 hectare (354ha effective) farm is 5.4km long and 1.2km wide.  The dairy shed is at one end, which means cows can walk up to 10km a day. Colebourn estimates each cow sheds 1.5kg to 2kg dry matter daily. (A second dairy is on the cards).

Most of the property is peat.  The property was once part of the former Lands and Survey’s huge Rukuhia Swamp.  Extensive drainage work in the district in the past 20 years means farms now dry out in summer.  Peat depth ranges from two feet deep to 80 feet in places.

Many paddocks needed urgent attention. Olsen fertility levels had sunk to 6 and 7 in some sample areas. The soil was very acid with the ph level down to 4.95 in places.

Pengxin has had all paddocks soil tested and the fertiliser programme has seen up to 15 tonne of lime applied to some paddocks.  Soil has now been cultivated on 65 per cent of the farm to a depth of 350mm.

Grasses are base tetraploid and “prospect”, a perennial ryegrass brand.
“Rock star grasses don’t last on peat,” he says. Total grass production has climbed from 9000kg dry matter/ha to 12,000kg dry matter/ha.

One of the company’s first jobs was to put in a $270,000 new effluent pond.  

Pengxin has taken on all animal health costs, Colebourn says. 

The property’s history was “a mass of gorse and nodding thistles with a huge number of carcasses”, he says.

Out of 184 paddocks, only seven had power.  The water system was a nightmare, he says.

“A herd at the back of the property didn’t get water until late in the day. The water was disgusting – bright orange and it tasted metallic, the high manganese content. The cows couldn’t drink it.”

Three bores have been reduced to one, 182 new water troughs have been installed, and a new filtration system treats the iron and manganese in the water. New pumps have been installed.

 

The farms used to be an environmental disaster with huge amounts of animal suffering. They’re now modern decent places, because the new owners were allowed to invest in them – an investment the opposition parties spent months demanding be blocked.

By the end of the year 6000 native plants have been introduced at Collins Rd, along with a smart office building and another 32km of fencing. 

Pengxin has signed an agreement with Waikato Regional Council to plant out and re-fence 900m of the Mangakotukutuku Stream, a waterway on the farm. Pengxin will contribute $25,850 to the project and the council $11,500.

Colebourn says the Collins Rd operation first showed a profit last season, with earnings before interest and tax this financial year of $542,500. Return on assets was 3.9 per cent. The goal is for a return of more than 5 per cent next year

So the waterways are better, native trees being planted, the farm is profitable, the environment is improved.

The lesson here is that decisions on land purchases should be made on the merits of each case (as was done here), rather than have a total ban which Labour, Greens and NZ First say should be the case,

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Latest poll

April 19th, 2015 at 7:35 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curiablog the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll. It has National remaining at 49%.

For a couple of weeks now sections of the print media have been doing regular columns on how the Government is in crisis, has to regain control, running on empty, needs a circuit breaker to get past the malaise, MPs are so worried they’re having sleepless nights etc.

You’d think the Government was trailing the opposition, rather than being 18% ahead of Labour.

In fact half way through their seventh year, National is polling 4% higher than the 45% they entered office with in 2008. That is an exceptional result.

If we compare to the last Government, in May 2006 the Labour Government was at 38% and National opposition at 47%. So they were 9% behind, while the Government today is 18% ahead (or 9% ahead if you include Greens).

It would be interesting to look at news stories from May 2006 and see if they were describing the then Labour Government in as negative terms, as National has been described in the last few weeks.

Now this does not mean the Government is going to win the next election. Normally I’d say a party has no better than a 20% chance of getting a fourth term. However National’s current chances are a bit better than 50/50 I’d say. Far far from certain, but in a strong position.

Hopefully some of the commentary of the last few weeks may become more reality based – the reality being that what matters to most New Zealanders is very different to what excites the “beltway”. Once again, it is about the economy, jobs, incomes, schools, leadership, hospitals etc.

Tonight’s poll basically has no change in the party vote from February. The one area where there was significant change was Preferred PM. Andrew Little went down 1% to 11% and Winston went up 3% to 10%. So the main impact of the by-election has been Andrew Little coming close to ceding the title of opposition leader to Winston Peters.  Labour may want to reflect on the difference between a strategic decision and a tactical one.

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Education, not bans and taxes

April 19th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

As a government programme aimed at honing the waistlines of chubby children kicks off, leading health experts are questioning whether it will be enough to stem the rising tide of obesity and related illnesses.

The programme under the Government’s Healthy Families NZ initiative is to be launched on Friday , with a consortium of eight iwi in Gisborne the first to lead a charge to steer families into making healthier choices.

It does not target individuals, but focuses on a community approach to healthy eating.

Healthy Families NZ is based on a similar programme much vaunted in Victoria, Australia. Children in Colac, southwest of Melbourne, who had been on the programme, were on average 1kg lighter than those in neighbouring towns. Their waists were on average 3cm smaller and they could also run faster and had lower body mass index scores.

This sounds worthwhile. There are other things Government and local government can do to help, such as making cities more friendly for walking and cycling.

University of Auckland nutrition and global health professor Boyd Swinburn said the programme showed “real promise” but it was not enough on its own. 

“I think it’ll be very valuable for some communities and the evidence that we collected in Australia seems to show it will be effective in European klds. 

“But also, it needs to work for Maori and Pacific kids and I think there’s no question in my mind they’re going to need other policies like restrictions on junk-food marketing to kids, healthy food policies in schools, taxes on sugary beverages, to be able to get sufficient traction to improve obesity in those groups.” 

You would have thought the absolute failure of Denmark’s fax tax would cause the advocates here to stop pushing failed solutions. But, no.  We have a culture among public health activists in NZ that policies must be about attacking corporates, and removing choice, and taxing things more (and they want the taxes to be used to fund their own activities).

But the Government has emphatically ruled out such levies on fizzy drink, saying they didn’t work and placed unnecessary financial burden on the most vulnerable.

Good.

 

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Patent trolls getting worse

April 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The same week that Alex Haro and Chris Hulls raised $50 million for their mobile app, Life360, the business partners got a letter.

It said they had three days to pay licensing fees to a company they had never heard of because their app violated its patented technology.

Haro and Hulls traced the company, Advanced Ground Information Systems, to a coastal home in Jupiter, Florida, with a phone number that initially went to an anonymous voicemail.

They couldn’t find any employees on LinkedIn.

To Haro, it was “a punch in the gut,” he said.

On the other side of that letter was Malcolm “Cap” Beyer, Jr., a 76-year-old who had filed patents a decade ago on cellphone mapping.

He said his attorney told him that he had a strong case against the start-up, even though the general technology had been widely used for years.

Beyer insists the mobile app’s $50 million in fundraising had nothing to do with it.

In the end, a jury sided with Life360 on all counts – but not before Haro and Hulls shelled out nearly $1.5 million in legal fees.

Winning can still be losing. They will probably never get their costs back. This is what patent trolls rely on – that it is cheaper to pay them some money, than fight them in court.

The bill has become a top lobbying priority this year for the tech industry, which says it repeatedly fends off frivolous lawsuits because of poorly written software patents and laws that favour patent holders.

NZ has intelligently removed software from being patentable. It can be copyrighted, but not patented. Patents and intellectual property laws are very important, but if the laws are unbalanced, they can cause more harm than good.

“Patent trolls” generally refer to businesses that buy up patents, particularly in technical areas like computer chips, cloud computing and wireless routers, with the sole intention of filing lawsuits or demanding licensing fees from tech companies, particularly start-ups around the time of their public offering.

Not wanting to pay for a protracted legal fight, the defendants almost always settle even if they think they’d win.

Kramer calls it a vicious cycle – the more companies settle, the more lawsuits are filed.

“It’s like a legal version of a mob protection racket,” said Noah Theran, a spokesman for the Internet Association, a coalition of web-based companies.

Patents are meant to protect and foster innovation, but with patent trolls they actually stifle innovation.

Last year, the House passed the “Innovation Act” by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

The bill would toughen requirements when filing patent challenges in court, such as limiting the amount of documentation that can be demanded before a judge makes an initial ruling.

The bill also opens the door to a requirement that plaintiffs pay legal bills of the defendants if they lose.

Supporters said they suspect trial lawyers with close ties to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., helped scuttle the bill.

Reid is now minority leader with plans to retire next year.

Likely to replace him as the Senate’s top Democrat is Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. – an advocate of patent reform.

President Barack Obama has said he supports patent reform.

So it might happen with Harry Reid out of the way.

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We spy on China and China on us

April 19th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Our spies and America’s top government hackers cooked up a plan to crack into a data link between Chinese Government buildings in Auckland, new Edward Snowden documents reveal.

The project appeared aimed at tapping data flowing between the Chinese consulate and its passport office in Great South Rd — and using the link to access China’s computer systems.

The revelation is the most explosive of the information about New Zealand revealed in the Snowden documents — and has sparked a firm Chinese diplomatic response giving rise to concerns our security relationship with the United States is impacting our trade relationship with China.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman told the Herald on Sunday: “China is concerned about relevant report. We attach great importance to the cybersecurity issue.

“We will firmly safeguard our security interests and continue to guarantee our cyber and information security with concrete measures.”

Everyone who travels to China knows they will be spied on. The Chinese Government spies on every official they can of other Governments, and of course we try to spy on them. While we have a positive relationship with China, their interests are very different to ours, and the job of the GCSB is to gather foreign intelligence.

The difference is that if someone in China published details of the Chinese Government’s programme for spying on NZ and the US, they would be regarded as a traitor and executed.

I’m glad we live in NZ where media can publish what they want, without sanction from the state. However I do wish they would consider whose interests are served by publishing such details.

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Transmission Gully work starting

April 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Site enabling works on New Zealand’s biggest new infrastructure project begin this month.

David Low, Wellington Gateway Partnership chief executive, said initial works on the 27km $850 million Transmission Gully motorway job north of Wellington begin after Anzac Day in New Zealand’s first public private partnership for a state highway project.

Great. The further along it is, the harder it is for any future Government to pull the pin on it.

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General Debate 19 April 2015

April 19th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The left against free trade rather than the US

April 19th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I’m a strong supporter of free trade agreements. Freer trade has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, and the empirical evidence that trade helps both exporting and importing countries is very strong.

Whether any individual trade deal should be supported comes down to the details of it. There are provisions being pushed by the US in the proposed TPP deal which I oppose. There are provisions being pushed by NZ which I strongly support. If there is an agreement, then we’ll be able to see whether the deal over all is a good one.

(Some of) The Left in NZ is very anti the TPP. They do nothing but highlight the worst aspects of the provisions being pushed by other countries, and never ever focus on the benefits. Their opposition is often seen as being traditional anti-US sentiment.  It is painted as the US bullying NZ to get a deal that sells out NZ interests to benefit the US

But the left in the US is just as opposed to free trade, as much of the left in NZ. Politico report:

The most important trade bill in a decade has pitted Harry Reid against President Barack Obama. Liberal Democrat Rosa DeLauro against moderate Democrat Ron Kind. Labor unions against pro-business Democrats. And Elizabeth Warren against virtually everyone who supports a landmark piece of legislation that would allow the president to close what could be the biggest free-trade deal in history. …

Most other Democrats in Congress, too, are skeptical of Obama’s free-trade agenda and are expected to vote against the trade promotion authority legislation, which will fast track trade deals through Congress by limiting amendments and subjecting the agreements to up-or-down votes.

So the NZ left think the TPP will be bad for NZ and the US left think it will be bad for the US. Why? Well basically because most (not all) of the left don’t think free trade is a good thing. They are protectionists.

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Chief Justice called for jury duty

April 18th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

CNN reports:

Most Americans often seek ways to avoid jury duty. But one potential juror in Maryland on Wednesday morning had quite the excuse.

Chief Justice John Roberts was seen at a Montgomery County courthouse performing his civic duty as a prospective juror for a car crash case, according to a report first published by The Washington Post.

Although Roberts ultimately was not chosen to serve on a jury, that’s probably just as well, because oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled to last through April 29.

The Post reported that Roberts answered questions regarding his relatives, and told the local court that his sister is a nurse in Indiana and his brother-in-law is with the Indiana State Police.

This could never happen in New Zealand. Lawyers (and judges) can not be jurors. But fascinating that in the US even the Chief Justice could be picked as a juror.

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Kids, don’t try flakka

April 18th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

A MAN high on the drug flakka attacked a police officer after running naked through the streets shouting “I am God” and having sex with a tree, police said.

Kenneth Crowder, 41, was arrested in Melbourne, Florida, on Friday following a dangerous, drug-fuelled bender.

According to a police report obtained by Click Orlando, witnesses called cops after spotting Crowder having intercourse with a tree.

Ouch, that could hurt. I wonder how was he actually attempting sex with the tree?

When approached by an officer, Crowder acted aggressively and identified himself as God.

Police said Crowder was Tasered twice, but pulled out the electric probes before punching the officer.

The unhinged man also allegedly tried to stab the cop with his badge while screaming that he was Thor.

Thor is a god, not the God. He would knwo that if he hadn’t been high on flakka.

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Maybe it was Hamburglar?

April 18th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Laptops containing contact details of union members have been stolen in a break-in at Unite Union’s Auckland office.

Files with names of members, business documents and a union credit card were taken, along with thousands of dollars of electronic equipment in a robbery believed to have happened about 3am Thursday.

Staff arrived on Thursday morning to find the doors smashed in and the office ransacked, senior union organiser Joe Carolan said.

He said he was outraged thieves had not only targeted expensive items, including a TV and a camera, but also rifled through cabinets and taken paperwork, supermarket vouchers and cinema tickets.

“It’s a low blow,” he said.

“I’m furious.”

Carolan said the timing of the robbery – that followed union-organised rallies against zero-hour contracts – raised suspicion that it was politically motivated.

But he said it was more likely opportunistic.

The prime suspects are Hamburglar and the IRD!

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How not to apologise

April 18th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Drinnan writes in the Herald:

A source said another option canvassed was the notion of a show in the style ofJono and Ben, or Hard Copy. In this column last week – based on a conversation that looked at the review of Campbell Live, I mistakenly attributed this idea to a TV3 document.

So the column was wrong. So is this an apology for the column being wrong? Nope, don’t apologise – just attack.

My source said this was not the case, but that such ideas had been discussed. MediaWorks responded with vigour, accusing me, and the Herald, of “fabricating” the story. That would be unethical behaviour that I have not been, and will not be, involved in.

“The statement in John Drinnan’s articles in relation to the Jono and Ben show, which is attributed to ‘TV3 bosses’, is a complete fabrication and is not based on fact.

“Jono and Ben has never once been mentioned in any MediaWorks management forum, discussion or document as a possible replacement for Campbell Live.”

While I made, and corrected, an error about where the idea came from – it was actually from a discussion, not in a document as I believed – that statement implies dishonesty. The allegation represents the aggressive approach at MediaWorks since the middle of last year, which a source say represents a paranoia about other media. There is an increasingly tense relationship between that company and NZME., publisher of the Herald, which is a direct competitor with MediaWorks.

So attack Mediaworks for pointing out that the column was wrong.

There is a huge difference between something being in a formal document, and someone saying this came up in a conversation. A world of difference. One is provable, and one is not. A document has been formally signed off by a number of people. A conversation could be a couple of people in the staff room thinking aloud.

The column that stated Mediaworks had a document which proposed possibly replacing Campbell Live with Jono and Ben did huge damage to Mediaworks. They were attacked for it, and ridiculed. Until I read this column today, I did not realise the claim was false. It is a very grudging back down.

When I make mistakes (which can be often), I’ll generally quickly apologise and correct.

I accept that Drinnan made a mistake, and did not deliberately get it wrong. But it was a serious mistake, and as Mediaworks knows for 100% certainty there is no document that mooted Jono & Ben as a replacement, it is no surprise they would denounce a story that claimed there was.

I am a regular reader of John Drinnan’s columns as they often provide great insight into the media, which you don’t get elsewhere. But a media commentator who takes to task other sections of the media when they get it wrong, should perhaps live by the standard they set for others.

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General Debate 18 April 2015

April 18th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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How UK voters are moving

April 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ukpols

An interesting graphic from the UK.

You can see how Conservatives are losing most of their support to UKIP. A wee bit to Labour.

Labour has lost support to UKIP, Conservatives and Greens.

Lib Dems are bleeding everywhere.

All the polls are still predicting a hung Parliament, with the SNP, Lib Dems and Irish possibly being needed to govern.

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Helensville electoral petition struck out

April 17th, 2015 at 3:08 pm by David Farrar

Arthur Taylor’s electoral petition for Helensville has been struck down by the courts, as they has found he has not standing to bring a petition. This is not a huge surprise.

The court ruling is below.

Helensville Electoral Petition

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Iran elected to executive board of the UN’s Entity for Empowerment of Women.

April 17th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Blair reports:

The UN recently decided that Israel was the number one violator of women’s rights in the world today. And then the UN appointed the Islamic Republic of Iran to the executive board of the UN’s Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

The US pointed out:

“In Iran, women are legally barred from holding some government positions, there are no laws against domestic violence, and adultery is punishable by stoning, making it wholly inappropriate that Iran assume a leadership role on women’s rights and welfare at the U.N,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, in criticizing the decision to make Iran a member of the women’s rights body.

This is why I take very few pronouncements from the UN seriously.

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Should Dotcom have residency cancelled for his driving conviction?

April 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has a tough decision to make.

He’s the man who’ll make the call whether to kick Kim Dotcom out of the country for lying about a dangerous driving conviction.

Thirty seven other people have been extradited for similar reasons.

Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge says the minister could look to those cases for precedent.

He says by lying about the incident, Dotcom has affected his ability to be trusted.

“Those are what goes to the heart of trust and confidence. At the very beginning of our relationship you (Dotcom) breached our trust and confidence by deceiving us.”

Bill Hodge says Mr Woodhouse needs to separate all the political turmoil around Dotcom from his decision.

I’d be interested in whether the 37 other cases were for similar convictions?

As Hodge says, the decision needs to ignore all the political stuff. Dotcom needs to be treated the same as if he was John Smith.

If the court rules the extradition request from the US is valid, then he should be extradited to stand trial.

But his failure to not declare his driving conviction should not be seen as a way to get around that process.

Not disclosing a conviction is a serious matter, but a driving conviction is different to say a violent or sexual conviction.

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Jennicam

April 17th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

JENNIFER Ringley was the first person to broadcast her life online.

In 1996, the 19-year-old bought a webcam and set it up in her room to take a photo every 15 minutes and post it to her website: JenniCam.

Her experiment offered the world a glimpse into our digital future long before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the Kardashians.

I remember Jennicam. 1996 was the year I first went online. Hadn’t thought of the site for a long long time, but it was the pioneer of the “sharing” which was to come.

Who else remembers Jennicam? Did you watch it often? I would check it out occasionally, but wasn’t a regular.

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Passport Memorandum Account surplus all gone?

April 17th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged last week:

The key is that the Passport Memorandum Account should not build up a large surplus again. It went up to $27 million three years ago and is now down to $20 million. It really should end up close to zero.

I’ve been advised me that the surplus in the account is in fact now very close to zero.  I understand the Minister, Peter Dunne, has written to a newspaper and said:

That surplus has now been expended.

Hopefully the surplus has been expended due to the reduction in fees, rather than an increase in costs!

I have to say though that the extra security features that allow me to use Smart Gate in Australia and New Zealand are very valuable to me as a frequent traveler. Previously I would wait between 5 and 45 minutes to get through passport control. Now in these two countries I generally get through in around 30 seconds. Never had to wait more than say three minutes.

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