A 110 km/hr speed limit?

September 18th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Open-road speed limits could vary by up to 50km/h under a new classification system signalled to traffic engineers in Auckland.

Transport Agency safety manager Helen Climo told the Traffic Institute at its annual conference yesterday that a new rule should be finalised by the end of next year allowing speeds of up to 110km/h on a small number of well-engineered highways and motorways.

The Government has made no decisions on this, but I hope they do increase the limit on roads with good enough engineering to allow a higher limit.

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Do we need a competency test for voting?

September 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

The family of an intellectually disabled woman is alarmed her carers are supporting her to vote in this year’s election – despite her having the mental age of a 2-year-old.

But disability advocates are backing her caregivers’ actions, saying the voting rights of people with intellectual disabilities should be protected.

Patricia Hallett’s family was informed via text last week that her carers planned to take her to a polling booth to vote.

The 62-year-old lives in Auckland under the permanent care of IHC subsidiary Idea Services.

Nephew David Hallett, of Ngahinapouri, said it was “ridiculous” the law allowed his aunt to vote and feared others with severe intellectual disabilities could be unduly influenced at the voting booth.

Patricia Hallett was left brain damaged after contracting meningitis as a child.

Her affairs were managed by her brother under power of attorney.

“My aunt can’t make any kind of decision whatsoever and should be a disqualified voter,” David Hallett said.

“My 2 -year-old child has more cognitive ability in terms of reasoning but I know how easy it is to influence him with a little suggestion.

This is a difficult issue. Obviously many people with intellectual disabilities are capable of making an informed vote. But others are not. How do you protect those incapable of making an informed vote from coercion?

Should there be a competency test? Or is the small number of people involved insignificant?

UPDATE: This issue has become more significant. Stuff reports:

A large-scale provider of care for the intellectually disabled has been accused of openly influencing the voting of residents in their care.

A former community support worker at Idea Services said carers actively encouraged residents to vote Labour and schooled them on what boxes to tick on their ballot paper.

The Waikato-based worker, who declined to give her full name for fear of reprisals, said Idea Services management pressured carers to vote Labour and also directed them to influence how residents voted.

Idea Services is a subsidiary of IHC.

“By the time they [clients] get taken to the voting booths, they already know the colour that they have got to vote for,” the former staffer said. “They get told things like you can vote for whoever you like but Labour is the only political party that cares what happens to you.”

That’s disgraceful, if correct.

 

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Vote Bishop to save Davis!

September 18th, 2014 at 12:46 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McL blogs:

I voted today at the VUW advanced voting booth. I voted for the Greens and (strategically!) cast my electorate vote for the Labour candidate in Ohariu. But as I contemplated the ballot boxes for the other Wellington electorates I reflected that if left-wing Hutt South voters cast their electorate vote for the National candidate and Trevor Mallard loses Hutt South, then Labour will get a  list MP who will – probably – actually give a shit about the Labour Party. Vote out Mallard and you might save, say, Jacinda Ardern. AND in three years time you’ll get a new Labour electorate MP you can vote for who also, hopefully, will give a shit about their own party.  So that’s a strategic vote worth considering.

Ardern is at no real risk of not coming in on the list, but Kelvin Davis is on the cusp on current polls. He’s part of the future of Labour.

If Labour voters in Hutt South vote for Chris Bishop, then they help Kelvin Davis stay in Parliament. And this is what Trevor wants, by his own words:

Even Trevor says Labour needs Kelvin Davis in Parliament. So if you’re a Labour voter in Hutt South, vote for Chris Bishop to keep Kelvin Davis in Parliament.

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Why does a convicted killer get name suppression?

September 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland grandmother who beat a 77-year-old man unconscious before setting him on fire will spend at least the next 15 years in prison.

The 48-year-old woman, whose name is suppressed, previously admitted the murder of Peter Lance Dixon, who was found dead in his South Auckland home after a fire in February 2012.

The High Court at Auckland yesterday heard the horrifying details of the killing, which Crown prosecutor Warren Cathcart called “calculated and callous in the extreme”.

The woman, who whimpered throughout, was jailed for life and Justice Rebecca Ellis imposed a minimum non-parole period of 15 years.

She’s been convicted and sentenced. Why does she have name suppression?

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Seven year high in GDP

September 18th, 2014 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

Stats NZ has just released their GDP figures for June 2014. They include GDP growth of 3.5% (highest since 2007) and manufacturing GDP growth of 3.1% for the year

Stats NZ comments:

Strong growth in service industries saw gross domestic product (GDP) rise 0.7 percent in the June 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

“Services make up about two-thirds of the economy and all 11 services industries increased this quarter,” national accounts manager Gary Dunnet said. “The biggest increases were in industries that include advertising, employment services, and software development.”

Overall, services increased 1.4 percent, the highest growth since the December 2006 quarter. Business services (up 4.2 percent) was the main driver, although accommodation and food services increased 3.0 percent. These increases were partly offset by a 3.1 percent decrease in primary industries, where agriculture, forestry, and mining all fell.

GDP growth for the year ended June 2014 was 3.5 percent. This is the highest annual growth since the September 2007 quarter.

Do you think we’ll have a stable growing economy if we have a Government comprising Labour, Greens and Winston – and propped up by Internet Mana? Labour trying to govern with only 25% of the vote or so?

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Peters says he would vote for Kelvin Davis

September 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Winston Peters will spend Thursday campaigning in Northland, and while he will not be endorsing Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau, he isn’t far away from it. Peters yesterday rejected the idea of endorsing the Labour candidate, even though NZ First doesn’t stand in the Maori seats and his belief that Davis is a ‘‘fine man’’ who any party, and Maoridom in general, should be proud of. He said if he was on the Maori roll in the seat he would vote for Davis. But he wasn’t endorsing him, he said.

Hone has sold his party out to Kim Dotcom. It would be delicious if he lost his seat for doing so.

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3rd Degree on Kim Dotcom and his staff

September 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

It should have aired months ago, but better late than never.

3rd degree interviewed three former staff of Kim Dotcom’s. The programme revealed testimony from former staff which included:

  • Dotom constantly referred to New Zealanders as cheap ass farmers
  • Dotcom hates John Key (no surprise that one)
  • The three staff have claimed they are owed $367,000 in wages
  • Dotcom has an explosive temper and would yell at them
  • Staff worked a minimum 16 hours a day, and one staffer worked for two days straight attending Dotcom as he played video games
  • Staff worked on average 90 hours a week and got paid an average of $5 an hour – almost a third of the legal minimum wage
  • Staff rarely had a day off
  • One staffer was sacked for questioning his pay
  • Dotcom has refused to supply a certificate of employment to his former staff
  • They only got around a third of their backpay as Dotcom said he needed to deduct tax. This suggests he may not initially have been deducting tax as required, but also suggests he has deducted it at a higher rate than he should have

Dotcom in response said:

  • admitted he sometimes yells at his staff
  • says it is acceptable to yell at his staff when they make serious mistakes
  • says he is like their family father, and it is like when your child does something stupid
  • He cares for them, and they are like family to him
  • He never gave written warnings before dismissals
  • says he loves New Zealanders
  • says in regard to his staff “We’re all on a first name basis, they call me Sir”

So where is Helen Kelly and the CTU? Where are the unionists in Labour and the Greens? Where is that champion of worker’s rights – Laila Harre? They’re all silent on this, because Dotcom and his party is their route to power.  Imagine Dotcom had given $4 million to the ACT Party? They would be insisting that he be charged with breaching labour laws, putting out press releases non stop.

So the next time the CTU and the parties of the left go on about workers, ask them why they were silent on Dotcom’s alleged employment abuses. While this story only went to air this week, the allegations have been well known for months.

Dotcom has enough money to give $4 million to Laila Harre and Hone Harawira to help get them into Parliament. But not enough money to pay more than $5 an hour to his staff, according to them.

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Conservatives’ MacGregor quits two days before election

September 18th, 2014 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZb reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and his press secretary of two years have parted ways – just two days out from the election.

Rachel MacGregor has told Newstalk ZB she’s left the party as of this morning. …

“It’s really difficult to read too much into it given that there’s simply a very upset press secretary without giving any reasons why she resigned, so it’s really out there. She’s taking public relations advice now, and I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this story.”

It is an extraordinary time to quit, especially to do so publicly.

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Bainimarama well ahead

September 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

fij

Results from Fiji Times. A huge mandate to Bainimarama – as expected.

The challenge will be to see how he rules as Prime Minister. If he can get democratic government working again, that will be a good thing. That has to include though a free media.

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General Debate 18 September 2014

September 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Clark and Privacy Commissioner also say there is no mass surveillance

September 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Privacy Commissioner has blogged:

The third development is that I have convened a meeting, which I hope to become regular, of the agencies responsible for overseeing security and intelligence agencies. That includes my office, the IGIS, the Chief Ombudsman, and the Auditor-General. Together we will be able to ensure that our efforts are as informed and coordinated as our respective legislative schemes permit.

To date, I have seen no evidence of mass surveillance being undertaken by GCSB that would contradict this assurance given by the Director at our Privacy Forum [PDF, 83 KB]earlier this year.

I look forward to continuing to play a role in providing assurance to New Zealanders that the activities of our security and intelligence agencies are lawful and proportional.

And Stuff has reported:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been given assurances by former prime minister and party leader Helen Clark that New Zealanders weren’t been spied on under her leadership.

 

So those saying there is no mass surveillance include:

  • The PM
  • The former PM
  • The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
  • The Privacy Commissioner
  • The GCSB Director
  • The former GCSB Director

I believe them over Kim Dotcom, and his Moment of Truth circus.  Don’t let Dotcom distract from the real issues of our economy, our hospitals, our schools, our welfare system and our justice system.

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Two more polls

September 17th, 2014 at 6:48 pm by David Farrar

Two more polls out today, on Curiablog.

curiappa

The weighted average is above, of the last five polls. The CR has 62, CL 50 and centre parties 11.

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Dotcom wants to force Labour Govt to give Snowden asylum

September 17th, 2014 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

There could be another fugitive from US justice in New Zealand should there be a change of Government this weekend.

Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom has tweeted that if voters oust the National Party, Internet Mana will work with Labour and the Greens to get Edward Snowden asylum in New Zealand.

Snowden faces up to 30 years jail in the US for revealing the NSA’s secrets.

He’s currently in hiding in Russia.

Why stop there? Why not Julian Assange also?

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Putin’s propaganda

September 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Atlantic reports:

At the NATO summit in Wales last week, General Philip Breedlove, the military alliance’s top commander, made a bold declaration. Russia, he said, is waging “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.”

It was something of an underestimation. The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Take Novorossiya, the name Vladimir Putin has given to the huge wedge of southeastern Ukraine he might, or might not, consider annexing. The term is plucked from tsarist history, when it represented a different geographical space. Nobody who lives in that part of the world today ever thought of themselves as living in Novorossiya and bearing allegiance to it—at least until several months ago. Now, Novorossiya is being imagined into being: Russian media are showing maps of its ‘geography,’ while Kremlin-backed politicians are writing its ‘history’ into school textbooks. There’s a flagand even a news agency (in English and Russian). There are several Twitterfeeds. It’s like something out of a Borges story—except for the very real casualties of the war conducted in its name.

It’s like a George Orwell novel.

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Issues that matter – law and order

September 17th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The final of my series on issues that I think matter to New Zealanders. The other four have been the economy, health, education and welfare.

youthcrime

 

The youth crime rate has declined 36% since 2010. This is not prosecutions – but recorded offences. This is important as if you get into crime as a youth, you often stay there.

burglaries

 

Burglaries are traumatic for those who have had their homes invaded. The rate was static under Labour and has fallen 10.4% since 2008.

robberies

 

Robberies are even more traumatic for victims. The rate has fallen 26.4% since 2008.

violent

 

Violent crimes such as assaults are some of the worst crimes. They are also the most likely to be reported. The violent crime rate climbed from 2004 to 2009, and has declined since. It is now 15.9% lower than in 2008.

homicides

 

There are relatively few homicides, so in any one year the numbers may change a fair bit. But over the last four years there were 331 homicides, compared to 394 from 2005 to 2008. That is a reasonable drop.

prisoners

 

And the reduced crime rates are starting to show in the prison population, which has been declining since 2011. There are now 235 fewer prisoners.

threestrikes

 

The three strikes law (which Labour and Greens want to repeal) has been a stunning success to date. While 3,721 offenders have notched up a first strike, only 29 have gone on to do a second strike (by end of 2013) and so far there have been no third strikes. The certainty of no parole and long prison sentences for 2nd and 3rd strikes has a deterrent effect.

UPDATE: As of August 2014 it is 4,585 first strikes, 44 2nd strikes and no third strikes.

reoffending

 

And perhaps the most important stat of all. The reoffending rate has fallen from 32.3% to 26.3%. A focus on rehabilitation is working.

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Why I’d vote yes for Scottish Independence

September 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I don’t have enough Scottish ancestry or residency to vote, but if I could vote I’d vote for Scotland to be an independent country. Here’s why.

Scotland already is a country

Scotland is not a region or a territory. It is a country that has existed for over 1,000 years. For 300 or so it has been in a union with other countries, but it is a country. You can’t compare it to Tasmania or Florida.

Scotland is not British

British culture is essentially English culture. Scotland has a culture and heritage very different to that of England, and the UK. They have less in common than arguably Australia and New Zealand.

They have a different political culture

Scottish political culture is very different to England. It is far more left wing. They’re never going to be happy having decisions for them made elsewhere. Their political culture instincts are vastly different. Could you imagine how Canada would go if it was in a union with the US? It would not be happy.

They need to be responsible for their own revenue

One of the reasons Scotland is so socialist leaning is because they don’t have to raise their own income. The UK does it for them. They just want more money spent on them. This is not surprising. By making Scotland responsible for paying its own way in the world, it will become more responsible and balanced.

It would be a great comparison of different economies

If Scotland leaves England/UK, then one will be able to see over a decade or two which economic system does better – a Scottish system with higher taxes and spending, or the UK one with comparatively smaller tax burden. This will be an instructive lesson for the world.

England may prosper

England (or the rest of the UK more properly) may end up doing well, after the initial shock. Many Scottish companies may move to London.

On a personal level I would regret the United Kingdom splitting. The UK has provided more good stuff to the world that arguably any other country. But fondness for the past is not a good enough reason to not vote for change in the future.

Now don’t get me wrong, I expect both Scotland and the UK will suffer economic damage in the short and even medium term if they split. This could be quite considerable. But in the long run I think Scotland will be better off responsible for its own economy.

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The most marginal seats according to iPredict

September 17th, 2014 at 1:51 pm by David Farrar

Here’s the 16 most marginal seats according to iPredict.

  1. Port Hills – National and Labour both 50%
  2. Palmerston North – Labour 55%
  3. Te Tai Hauauru – Labour 60%
  4. Waimakariri – National 62%
  5. Hutt South – Labour 69%
  6. Te Atatu – Labour 69%
  7. Tamaki Makaurau – Labour 69%
  8. Te Tai Tokerau – Mana 70%
  9. Ohariu – United Future 75%
  10. Christchurch Central – Labour 75%
  11. Hamilton East – National 80%
  12. Waiariki – Maori 82%
  13. Maungakiekie – National 83%
  14. Napier – Labour 85%
  15. Wairarapa – National 85%
  16. Epsom – ACT 87%

The two most marginal seats are both Labour held. iPredict is predicting Labour pick up two Maori seats despite being marginally behind in the polls in them.

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A reader on Five Eyes

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

A reader e-mails:

… one point that you might like to make is that it is true that New Zealanders are being subject to mass surveillance.  Multiple governments are listening to every phone call we make, every e-mail we send, and watching every website we visit.  But thanks to the “five eyes agreement” we know that the US, Canada, Britain and Australia are not on the list of governments.  But China, Japan, Russia, Korea, some of the ASEANs, Taiwan, Israel and some of the Arabs all have the capability and incentive to be listening in.  “Five eyes” helps ensure that all they are monitoring are our private conversations because of government communications are subject to the heaviest encryption around.  And “five eyes” keeps an eye on those doing the spying on us.

Of course our own domestic GCSB legislation means our own government is not allowed to monitor our private communications without a warrant.  Of course it is being picked up, every electronic communication in the world is being picked up.  But it cannot be read by our government or the four other partners.

There is no NSA presence in Auckland or north of Auckland.  They may sweep the US Consulate from time to time in the same way GCSB sweeps our Embassies around the world.  And they may have the occasional person seconded to NZ to work with GCSB as we have GCSB people seconded to DSD, GCHQ, NSA and the CSE.  If they are here they are working for GCSB while in NZ.

I note that many of those so worked up about the possiblility of the GCSB or NSA intercepting communications, were loud cheerleaders for the rights of criminals to hack bloggers and have that material published. They’re not very consistent.

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O’Sullivan on Dotcom

September 17th, 2014 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

John Key goes into the home straight of the election campaign with his integrity publicly intact after the Kim Dotcom fiasco and voters well placed to make a judgment when it comes to the Key Government’s management of the NZ economy.

Key has been roundly attacked for declassifying documents to prove his point that the GCSB has not been involved in widespread surveillance of New Zealanders.

Bizarrely, it is somehow seen as perfectly all right for Dotcom and his associates to use stolen National Security Agency files to try to prove the Prime Minister a liar on how his Government has administered national security, but not for Key to declassify New Zealand’s own files to prove he isn’t a liar.

This is utter madness.

It is madness. They claim a moral right to use stolen partial documents, and they complain when the Government responds by releasing documents to prove they are wrong.

Key saw Dotcom coming and released the Cabinet document which backed his statements before the Internet Party visionary’s Moment of Truth fiasco.

Key had intervened to stop a surveillance plan because it was too intrusive.

“There’s no ambiguity. No middle ground. I’m right. He’s wrong,” Key said.

Dotcom’s failure to produce a smoking gun to comprehensively prove Key lied over the circumstances of the US extradition moves against him did not surprise.

Far from comprehensively proving Key lied, he produced an e-mail that looks like something a not very bright five year old might try and pass off as a genuine e-mail.

Kim Dotcom has tried to hijack this election. I hope he fails.

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Large donations in 2014

September 17th, 2014 at 11:26 am by David Farrar

For those interested below are the totals of large donations to political parties in 2014. A large donation is one over $30,000. It includes the $1 million Kim Dotcom says he gave to the Internet Party prior to their formation and excludes donations from estates (as that is a donation vecause someone died, rather than a donation specifically made for this election).

  1. Internet Party (incl Internet Mana) $4,539,480
  2. Conservatives $1,736,000
  3. Maori $210,000
  4. ACT $201,000
  5. National $187,340
  6. Labour $164,999
  7. Greens $108,295

 

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Let’s ban bottle openers!

September 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christ’s College is perpetuating New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture by giving senior pupils a bottle-opener keyring at the school ball, an alcohol reform campaigner says.

The keyring, inscribed with “CC Ball 2014″, was given to the boys, mostly aged 17 or 18, at the ball on Saturday night. Girls were given lip balm.

National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman said the school was facilitating “the normalisation and glamourisation of heavy drinking” by presenting a collectable bottle opener.

“For the bottle opener to also be a keyring, which directly promotes a permissive attitude towards drink driving, raises the stakes of inappropriateness to top-shelf,” he said.

Christ’s College headmaster Simon Leese defended the gift, saying it was “almost laughable” someone would make an issue of it.

“Anybody can go into Briscoes, and anywhere else, and buy a bottle opener at any age. Frankly, this is a nonsense line of inquiry.”

I agree. I also point out that youth drinking rates have been falling for many years.

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IGIS says no indiscriminate interception of data

September 17th, 2014 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

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This screenshot is from Felix Marwick.

Ms Gwyn is a former Deputy Solictor-General and Deputy Secretary of Justice. Her appointment was made after consultation with Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee which includes Russel Norman and David Cunliffe.

And in case anyone thinks she is some ideological friend of the current Government, I would point out she was a member of the Young Socialists and was involved with the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, which included Nicky Hager and Keith Locke! I trust Ms Gwyn when she says she has not identified any indiscriminate interception of New Zealanders’ data.

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Should we keep juries for rape trials?

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

Stuff reports:

Rape myths do the most damage when they show up among jurors – and for that reason, juries should not be part of sexual assault trials, Louise Nicholas says.

The anti-rape advocate believes jurors in such trials often bring their own biases and trauma about the crime into the courtroom.

“People go in with their own thinking. They may have been a victim of sex violence in their lifetime, and a lot of those people have their judgments, like I didn’t need a counsellor, I didn’t need to go through this.

“To take jurors out of the process is a huge step forward to abolishing rape myths.”

I’m massively against Labour’s policy to make people who have sex prove they are innocent of rape. Reversing the burden of proof is an horrific idea.

But I think there are more balanced arguments over whether rape trials should be with Judges only.

Nicholas was in Wellington to talk to Victoria University students about sexual assault and the justice system, days after Wellington police dropped a sexual assault inquiry into an incident outside Massey University last month.

Nicholas said false allegations of rape make it harder for victims. “We certainly do have women, in particular, who come forward because they’re pissed off about their boyfriend shagging their mate.”

The danger was that the public then started to assume all claims were false, she said. “It does put a stigma on other victims.”

Good to see Nicholas talk about the damage caused by false allegations. They harm actual rape victims.

The removal of jurors from rape trials was recommended by the Law Commission in 2012, but was rejected by the Government.

Acting Justice Minister Chris Finlayson said that the right to a jury trial was a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, but the re-traumatising of victims should not be.

“The Ministry of Justice is working on legislation to tighten the rules about questioning a complainant about previous sexual experiences, and establishing a presumption that child witnesses give their evidence via the video of their police interview.”

Which seem reasonable steps.

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General Debate 17 September 2014

September 17th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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10 reasons Dotcom’s e-mail is a fake

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

Laila Harre continues to sell what is left of her tattered reputation down the drain by insisting the e-mail produced by Dotcom is real. It’s so real they can’t answer a single question on its legitimacy.

I doubt there is a single person in NZ who really thinks it is real, but in case there are some, here’s a few reasons to doubt it.

  1. Large US companies are required under US law (for legal discovery reasons) to have e-mail systems that archive all e-mails, and are independently stored so they can’t be deleted.
  2. The time stamp looks fake with no UTC reference
  3. The date is in NZ format, not US format
  4. No executive would ever send an e-mail detailing a conspiracy with a foreign government, to a lobby group
  5. The font and spacing is identical to what you get in the default mode of Notepad
  6. There was no separate meeting between the Warners CEO and John Key
  7. The dialogue in the e-mail is cartoonish, perfectly scripted to fit what Dotcom has claimed
  8. No detailed headers have been provided
  9. Even Dotcom’s lawyer won’t touch the e-mail – as he knows it could never be admitted in court
  10. Dotcom still won’t comment on the e-mail despite it being confirmed there is no Privileges Committee, so it can’t be before it.
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