Cunliffe says “Truck off”

April 15th, 2014 at 1:32 pm by Jadis

* a jadis post as DPF lost on the mountain for days and days.  I could have posted earlier but to be honest I have a life of family, work, work, voluntary work, etc that means Kiwiblog got a lower priority

 

Well, it seems that David Cunliffe and Labour were so concerned about Kiwiblog’s hibernation that they felt the need to launch a nutty ‘waste of time’ policy.

What the truck is Cunliffe thinking with his ultimate ‘truck off’ policy?   This is real Matt ‘gamechanger’ McCarten stuff.

Under the transport proposals, trucks would not be able to drive in the fast lane in three or four-lane motorways. The move was designed to reduce congestion because trucks had a lower speed limit of 90km/h.

Cunliffe’s big speech today (the one where he is avoiding the House (despite multiple political angles he could run) and the speech that wasn’t even properly advised to media!) is titled ‘Leading and managing our economic future’ and this ‘Truck off’ policy” is his goldmine announcement to (his words) ‘leading and managing our economic future’.

OK, so here’s a few wee things for Mr Cunliffe to think about:

1. Trucks, yes those heavy ones, are very important to New Zealand’s economy.  There’s an awful lot of them particularly in the Golden Triangle (Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga) that move goods to port for export, that move goods from suppliers to customers, and that employ thousands of New Zealanders.

2. The road rule is already 90km maximum for heavy trucks (as Cunliffe says himself) and the Police can (and do) tell off truckies if they could use a different lane.  The answer is not more legislation Mr Cunliffe.  The answer is if someone is breaking a rule then Police it.  Somehow I don’t think you’ll be asking the Police to up their focus on this area… or will you?

3. Sometimes truckies use the so-called fast lane because they have a turn coming up.  At what point does Mr Cunliffe propose the lane ban takes place? 100m? 50m? Will he then take responsibility for any crashes that take place as trucks try to keep with the lane ban policy and wipe out a car or two in the process?

4. We need trucks to get our goods to retailers and customers and from suppliers.  Manufacturing relies heavily on trucks.  I thought you cared about manufacturing Mr Cunliffe.  How about our primary production industries?  They need trucks too?  It seems you want to drive down the number of trucks on our roads.  Does this mean the next big policy from Labour is a massive investment into rail.  Hmmm… lots of New Zealand isn’t electrified so it’ll either be dirty diesels or millions and millions of investment in rail infrastructure and rolling stock too  Who is paying for that, Mr Cunliffe?

5. Your policy only applies to three and four lane motorways.  There’s quite a few of those in Auckland but very few in other parts of the country.  You talk about:

“There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane,” he said.

Umm… Aucklanders generally get held up on one or two lane highways on their way to the Coromandel or the North for their Easter break.  They are more likely to get held up by a caravan or a car and trailer (or boat) than they are a heavy truck.  Most heavy trucks set off pretty early in the day (mine must be one of the few families that can be organised pre-8am) and there is significantly less heavy truck traffic on statutory holidays.  Methinks your holiday quip out of the ‘feels about right’ file rather than the fact file.  PS – the Herald doesn’t help your case by using a file photo of a two lane motorway.  And, FFS, if we are keeping registration (to offset road use/damage) then surely Dad or Mum can create their own checklist of making sure it is done before the holiday rather than legislate away?  I dare you to cut the fees altogether – the administrative churn is probably higher than the actual fee when you get below $35.

6. I hope you’ve checked and re-checked your figures.  It’d be so embarrassing if you took another policy at face value and the costings or the reach or the unintended consequences weren’t considered.

 

 

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Parliament Today 15 April 2014.

April 15th, 2014 at 1:15 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers 2.00PM – 3.00PM.

  1. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Finance: How will the Budget next month help to lock in the benefits of sustainable economic growth to support more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders?
  2. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  3. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister for Economic Development: What steps is the Government taking to encourage more investment in New Zealand’s regional economies?
  4. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: When did she first become aware that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority had posted hundreds of examination booklets to the wrong students?
  5. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of his Government’s policies?
  6. LOUISE UPSTON to the Minister for Social Development: What recent changes has the Government made to the social housing sector?
  7. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Justice: Does she maintain that it is not in the public interest to answer all questions regarding Oravida?
  8. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology: What reports has she received on the progress on the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative?
  9. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he stand by his statement in this House on 8 August 2013 that: “We have every reason to be concerned about New Zealand’s reputation, but our action on climate change right now is not amongst those reasons.”?
  10. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Minister for ACC: On what date did ACC adopt the policy to stop paying compensation to people who refused to provide a signed, unaltered copy of the ACC167 form?
  11. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister of Health: What progress has the Government made on capital investments in health in Counties-Manukau?
  12. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Does she stand by her statement  that “in hindsight” she should have noted her dinner with her husband’s fellow Oravida Ltd directors and a senior Chinese border control official in her report to Cabinet on her Ministerial visit to China in October 2013?

Today Labour are asking whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his ministers, the incorrect posting of examination booklets, compliance with ACC procedures and, the Oravida saga. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister’s stands by all his policies, and climate change. New Zealand First is asking about the Oravida Saga.

Patsy of the day goes to Ian Mckelvie for Question 8 to the Minister of ICT: What reports has she received on the progress on the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative?

Government Bills 3.00PM – 6.ooPM and 7.30PM – 10.00PM.

1. Government notice of motion No 1 – 2013/14 alterations to appropriations for Officers of Parliament and 2014/15 appropriations for Officers of Parliament

2. Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill -  Third Reading

3. Vulnerable Children Bill - Second Reading

4. Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill - Second Reading

5.  Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill - Third Reading

The Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Employment, Steven Joyce. This bill proposes amendments to the Industry Training Act 1992 and the Education Act 1989, and repeal of the Modern Apprenticeship Training Act 2000 to implement the findings of the industry training review undertaken by the Government in 2011 and 2012.

The Vulnerable Children Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett. This is an omnibus bill that proposes establishing the Vulnerable Children Act and the Child Harm Prevention Orders Act. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to protect and improve the well-being of vulnerable children.

The Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy. This bill seeks to implement the Government’s decisions on the regulation of foreign charter vessels following allegations of mistreatment and underpayment of foreign crews.

The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill implements a new safeguards regime for New Zealand.

 

 

 

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General Debate 15 April 2014

April 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Everest Base Camp Day 7

April 14th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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It’s freezing cold and 4.45 am in the morning. The water in fact has frozen inside your water bottle (which is in your room). So what do we do? Set off at 5.00 am to hike up Gokyo-Ri to get a good view of the sunrise!

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A view from around 100 metres up.

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And then at around 150 metres the sun started to show itself behind the mountains.

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A close up of the first rays hitting the peaks.

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We stopped at around 250 metres which took us to 5,050 metres above sea level. Amazing feeling to be more than 5 kms high and not in a plane! The pressure is below 50% here and breathing is quite hard as we ascended.

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Just to prove I was there.

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A couple of hardy ducks down below.

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A man made bridge/dam to cross the lake. You really really do not want to get your boots wet as even dry the toes were freezing.

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A new lodge is being built. There is no machinery. Three Nepalese chisel the stones by hand. They work in sun and snow. A very tough job.

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And this is where one of them sleeps at night. Again, very tough. Assuming they are part of the family that will own the lodge, it will eventually massively boost their income. A lodge can generate more income in a week than the average Nepali earns in a year.

Today is the last day in Gokyo. Tomorrow we have to decide whether to take the Chola Pass for three days over to Lobouche. It’s been snowing again today so it may be a marginal call.

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General Debate 14 April 2014

April 14th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Everest Base Camp Day 6

April 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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Oh yes, it also snowed overnight which made it really cold. You see below some of the left over snow.

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The trek ahead is to follow the path until we end up next to the river and then climb over the pass.

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A memorial at the site where over 20 Sherpas and trekkers died in an avalanche.

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A snowcock.

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Around halfway through the first part of the trek.

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We’re definitely at the snow level as you’ll soon see.

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These steps up were very cool – nothing holding them together – just rocks placed on top of each other. Quite a climb.

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The top of the river as we cross it.

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Looks pretty cold eh!

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The first of the Gokyo lakes.

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A male and female duck – the only inhabitants of the lake.

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The second Gokyo lake – frozen over.

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And the large third Gokyo lake.

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And finally Gokyo itself. Yay. Again I had headaches and altitude sickness and found it tough going. It was pretty cold the final stretch also – had on three layers of merino up top and a jacket as well. The wind bites into your face and reminds you how high up you are – 4,800 metres which is twice the height of many NZ mountains.

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It started snowing soon after we got here, as you can see on the poor yaks.

Thankfully tomorrow is an acclimatisation day so my headaches should reduce or go away, and the day after tomorrow we actually end up 100 metres or so lower.

However the snow means that the pass over to Everest Base Camp may become too dangerous. One day is an eight hour trek between lodges with no shelters inbetween. The height gets up to 5,300 metres but the real danger is the snow means you don’t know if you are on the trail or not, as there are no markers or signs.

We’ll decide tomorrow night probably whether to try going over the pass, or to head back down and try going up the main route to Everest Base Camp.

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General Debate 13 April 2014

April 13th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Everest Base Camp Day 5

April 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Today was around a 350 metre descent day, climbing to Machhermo at 4,400 metres. My head ache from yesterday returned which pretty much confirmed I have acute altitude sickness.

It’s not a pleasant thing to have. If it gets worse I will either stop ascending or descend. To try and mitigate or treat it I have doubled the Diamox dose from 125 mgs twice daily to 250 mgs twice daily. Also having garlic soup for lunch and dinner, and drinking at least four litres of water a day.

The Diamox makes you go to the toilet more often anyway, and add to that four litres of water, two bowls of soup, and lots of lemon tea – well when at the lodge I’m going to the bathroom around every hour, and usually twice at least during the night. Luckily I’ve not yet needed to go while between lodges – as that would be very cold!

But the discomfort doesn’t take away from the amazing experience and views.

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Some amazing birds you see high up in the mountains here.

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The view from outside the lodge at Dole. Not a bad sight to wake up to.

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This is the sink. The water was frozen this morning.

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Believe it or not this is one of the better toilets!

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The rooms are basic and very very cold during the night. Am now sleeping with clothes on in the sleeping bag. Also the walls are paper thin so you don’t get a lot of uninterrupted sleep.

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A nice section through some trees.

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Dole from above as we leave it. Stunning views.

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The view ahead.

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A typical local house.

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Two of our guides with a great view behind them. The guides are fantastic. Great senses of humour and lots of experience.

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A long trail along the hills.

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Finally Machhermo at 4,400 metres.

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Some local crows to welcome us.

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To help acclimatise we climbed 200 metres up the hill, which gave us a good view of the next day’s trek.

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One of the guides showing his climbing skills.

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A cute baby yak.

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We attended a free seminar by a (New Zealand) doctor at the International Porter Protection Shelter. The charities involved do amazing stuff. This is the chart that stuck with me – that we were already at only 57% atmospheric pressure.

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A tenting site for the really hardy ones.

Will decide in the morning whether or not to go up to Gyoko. If I can make it to there then we have two days there which should help me with the altitude sickness.

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Everest Base Camp Day 4

April 12th, 2014 at 3:34 pm by David Farrar

 

 

Today was a long and hard day. We spent around seven hours trekking and did a fairly big four hour climb up to Mongla at 3975 metres where we had lunch. Then we did a quick 35 descent to Phortse Tenga where we dropped back to around 3600 and then had to climb it all back up again to arrive at Dole at 4020 metres.

I had a slight headache at lunchtime which may be due to the altitude. We also all have started to notice the reduced oxygen a bit – the first half hour of the day had us having to breathe deeply – but then you acclimatise.

Today was also the first day that I tramped with a jacket on. Only for the last half hour, but despite being sunny, it is getting colder during the day, as well as the night.

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You can again see Everest in the background and our path towards it.

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See most of those people taking the lower path. Well we took the higher path. The lower path is the more direct route to Everest Base Camp, while the higher one takes you up to Gyoko, and then you cross a pass over to Everest. It’s an extra five days the way we’re doing it.

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After lunch was at first a lot of climbing.

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Looking back, one can see the path we’ve followed.

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We’ve reached snow level.

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This village here we didn’t go to. It is mainly for sherpas but a few tourists go there. Very cool nestled away against the mountain.

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All those tents are for a large party of Germans.

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Quite a few waterfall crossings today.

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Very pretty scenery, and just around here we sighted a very rare red deer. No photos of it sadly, but was great to see one.

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Underneath the snow is a running stream.

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More steps up. I quite like the semi-natural rock steps compared to wooden ones.

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You can see the waterfall underneath the ice and snow.

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This part almost looked like New Zealand.

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And finally we arrived at Dole.  Very dusty and dirty so had a wonderful hot shower. Not quite a normal shower though – more a bucket of hot water poured through a pipe – but It did the job.

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General Debate 12 April 2014

April 12th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 11 April 2014

April 11th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Parliament Today 10 April 2014

April 10th, 2014 at 1:19 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers 2.00PM – 3.00PM

  1. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does he think conservation land, designated as ecological areas, should be opened up for petroleum exploration as part of Block Offer 2014?
  2. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he believe that the Government’s policies have reduced income inequality; if so, does he agree with the IMF that rising inequality slows economic growth?
  3. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Finance: What progress is the Government making with its share offer programme to free up capital to invest in new public assets without having to borrow more from overseas lenders?
  4. DENIS O’ROURKE to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree with the conclusion in the 2012 New Zealand Transport Agency commissioned report by Opus International that coastal shipping, followed by rail, are the most cost effective modes of transporting freight over long distances in New Zealand?
  5. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: What recent reports has he seen on the funding of hospitals in New Zealand?
  6. MIKE SABIN to the Minister of Police: What steps is the Government taking to reduce the supply of methamphetamine and its precursors into New Zealand?
  7. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Is she satisfied that no student will be worse off as a result of the establishment of the new category of Expert Teacher; if so, why?
  8. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What update can he give on the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand home insulation programmes?
  9. ANDREW LITTLE to the Minister for Economic Development: Does he stand by his statement, “Taranaki is one of the leading regions, if not the leading region in the country.”?
  10. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Senior Citizens: What recent announcement has she made about elder abuse and neglect prevention?
  11. DENISE ROCHE to the Associate Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statement that “he has absolutely nothing to hide” in regard to any potential conflicts of interest in regard to his duties as the Associate Minister of Health?
  12. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Does she know the name and employing department of the Chinese official that she had dinner with in Beijing on 20 October 2013 on her Ministerial visit to China; if so, is the reason that she has refused to tell the House that information is because she believes it is not in the public interest to do so?

Today Labour are asking about income inequality, hospital funding, expert teachers, regional development of the Taranaki, and Oravida. The Greens are asking about petroleum exploration, and ministerial conflicts of interest.  New Zealand First are asking about coastal shipping.

Patsy question of the day goes to Johnathan Young for Question 8: What update can he give on the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand home insulation programmes?

Government Bills 3.00PM -6.ooPM

1. Veterans’ Support Bill – Second Reading

2. Credit Contracts and Financial Services Law Reform Bill – Second Reading

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

The Credit Contracts and Financial Services Law Reform Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill proposes amendments to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 and the repeal of the Credit (Repossession) Act 1997. The objects of the bill are the reform of the legislation governing consumer credit contracts.

 

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General Debate 10 April 2014

April 10th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Royals rule… the media

April 9th, 2014 at 6:18 pm by Jadis

* This is a Jadis post as DPF is lost on a mountain putting together yet another travel blog while us in the real world cover his work load, blog load and ensure people think he is may still be a serious political commentator.  Warning: this post may or may not apply!

Blue bear

I love the blue bear.  I am awaiting Cunliffe’s response to how blue the bear is.  Clearly this is a plant from the National Party who are clearly using poor wee George for political gain.  Remember, Cunliffe accuses Key of using the Royal tour as some sort of electioneering stunt.  Well, Duncan Garner calls Cunliffe (and Winston) on this BS:

David Cunliffe does himself no favours accusing John Key of using the Royal visit as some kind of vote booster.

It’s laughable.

And Winston Peters ain’t much better.

Peters says Prince William, Kate and baby George shouldn’t even be here in election year at all.

I completely disagree and I hardly think we have much say in when they travel.

This is petty and I hope the royals don’t read about this stupid and snarky politics from our leaders.

It’s classless and uncouth.

Does anyone really think voters, at the end of September, are going to support John Key because they recall how months earlier the PM hosted the royals? Really?

Come on. I just don’t buy it.

David Cunliffe said Labour welcomed the royals and did not want to play politics with the visit but he said such visits should be as ‘even handed as possible between the Government and Opposition.’

Isn’t Cunliffe playing politics with the visit by saying all that?

He sounds like a kid that missed out on pass-the-parcel.

He sounds like he’s screaming at the top of his voice saying – pick me, pick me!

Surely it’s the job of the PM to host the royals at different times throughout this 10 day visit.

He is due to meet them 5 times during the tour.

Seriously there’s something wrong with us if we can’t host the royals in April and have an election at the end of September.

Our politicians need to grow up. They look bloody stupid – and none more so than David Cunliffe and Winston Peters.

I totally agree with Duncan.  Most Kiwis won’t associate the Royal Tour with politicians (unless they do something to embarrass them). They’ll associate it with having the opportunity to see the Royals up close, in our wee country and “oooh ahhh what a gorgeous George”.

 

 

 

 

 

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High Court rules in favour of Commerce Commission

April 9th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A consumer group has welcomed a High Court ruling on copper broadband prices, saying it should eventually deliver lower prices for telecommunications users.

The court said today that Chorus had lost its challenge over cuts to copper broadband prices by the Commerce Commission.

This is not a surprise.

The commission had decided Chorus could charge only $10.92 a month for copper broadband connections, down from $21.96.

Brislen said lower prices were not expected soon as a drawn-out process to establish final prices for the sector was continuing.

Not as drawn out as it could be. A final price may be set by year end.

In a judgment released today, Justice Stephen Kos rejected Chorus’ appeal.

“The simple fact is that the commission did not accept Chorus’ submissions,” he said.

“Despite the combined intelligence and force with which Chorus’ submissions were delivered, I am left unpersuaded that the commission erred in law.

“In my view, submitters were plainly aware that a price point above the confines of a more limited benchmark range was a possibility. The commission, in my view, was also open to that possibility.

“In my view, the commission has done just as Parliament had prescribed.”

This is a key point. Parliament passed the law. The job of the Commerce Commission is to interpret and implement it. Those who don’t like the outcome shouldn’t have attacked the Commerce Commission for just doing their job.

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Labour keep focusing on the Royal Tour

April 9th, 2014 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Earlier today, Labour leader David Cunliffe took a swipe at John Key over the royal visit, suggesting the prime minister was milking the extra “face time” with Prince William and his wife, compared with his own limited meetings.

Oh dear. This is not a good look.

Labour seem to have had an obsession with the Royal Tour (which frankly I find a bore). They first invented a convention that you never have a royal tour in election year. After I pointed out there had been around five ro six previous royal tours in election years, they changed this to be no royal tour within six months of an election, but again there had been royal tours (when Labour were in power) much close to an election than this.

So first they invented conventions, and now they’re complaining they are not getting enough invites to hang out with the royals.

He also described a possible visit to the White House as “pre-election PR from the prime minister ” who was “stage managing the calendar of the year as it suits him”.

Umm, the NZ Prime Minister doesn’t decide the timing of an invite to the White House. In fact such invites are very very hard to get. If the PM is getting an invite, it is because President Obama likes and rates him.

A diplomat made an interesting observation to me a few weeks ago. He said that the national leader who has spent the most time in the last year with the President of the United States would be the NZ Prime Minister. He also said that the national leader who has spent the most time with the President of China would be the NZ Prime Minister. Now it is pretty extraordinary for any NZ PM to be the leader either super-power President has spent the most time with. But to be have had the most face time with both the US and Chinese Presidents – I’d say unprecedented for almost any national leader, let alone a minnow like New Zealand.

Cunliffe said it was very  important that the treatment of the royal visit was as even-handed as possible between the government and the opposition, and also that the visit was well-spaced from the election.

Of course the Prime Minister is going to have more time with overseas dignitaries than the Opposition Leader.

Asked why Key had so many events with the royals Cunliffe said, “I guess he likes the camera time.”

Key said that he would not be at the “vast, overwhelming” number of events on the royal visit schedule and did not believe he was milking the event.

“I don’t actually think anyone’s going to vote National, Labour or any other political party because we’re seen standing next to the royals when they’re in New Zealand,” Key said.

“They vote on the economy, law and order, health and education. As soon as David Cunliffe starts talking about that and not this sort of rubbish, he might do a little bit better.”

That’s actually sound advice. Whining that you have not had enough time with Price William is just not an attractive look – even if you honestly feel slighted.

At his one-on-one meeting with the prince, Cunliffe expected to discuss those issues the visitor wanted to raise. He would also be happy to brief him on things Labour thought were important such as building a fairer and more decent country and including everybody in the opportunities.

“I’m sure that he would agree with that.”

He would also talk about the deeper economic issues, such as the problems with the balance of payments.

Labour’s going to talk about the Balance of Payments with Prince William. Hell I may be a republican, but that’s just a step too far – cruel and unusual punishment!

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Tax revenues down

April 9th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Worsening budget deficits raise serious questions about National’s management of the economy and its books, Labour finance spokesman David Parker says.

He was speaking after Treasury today reported that the Budget deficit had continued to worsen. A lower tax take had pushed the books into the red by $1.4 billion, $884 million more than expected.

Parker said for four months in a row the books were worse than predicted, with tax revenues falling short of expectations.

“For the November and December figures Treasury said there were timing issues. They were given a bit of leeway. But now even Treasury admits it doesn’t know why the books are even more in the red.

“Somehow (Finance Minister) Bill English is presiding over a growing economy but not getting the tax revenue that should be coming with it. He needs to explain himself.”

Tax revenues are notoriously difficult to project. Even an individual company can easily find its profit will vary from forecast by 10% to 20%. The Government’s tax revenues are based on projecting the combined profits and hence tax payments of several hundred thousand companies. And that’s just on an annual basis – let alone on the monthly forecasts.

Employers may be hiring extra staff which reduces profitability and tax in the short-term. They may be purchasing assets which increases depreciation.

Or it may be that heightened business confidence and economic growth is not actually being reflected in profitability and tax for structural reasons – which would be more of a concern.

English said the figures reinforced the need for restraint in government spending.

“We remain committed to reaching a surplus next year and Budget forecasts next month will confirm we are on track,” he said.

“It is a challenging task that will be achieved only if we remain disciplined.”

Yep. The Government has limited control over how much tax is paid to it by the private sector. It does however control how much money the Government will spend.  Hence the constant need for fiscal discipline.

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A Mega lawsuit

April 9th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Internet Party leader Kim Dotcom is facing a new lawsuit in the United States from six Hollywood film studios.

They claim in their suit the Megaupload founder “facilitated, encouraged, and profited” from illegal file-sharing on the site.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the suit on behalf of the studios this morning (NZ time).

The lawsuit was filed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Universal City Studios Productions, Columbia Pictures Industries, and Warner Bros Entertainment in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The US Government is already seeking to extradite Dotcom to face charges of copyright conspiracy, racketeering and money-laundering allegedly carried out by his file-sharing company, Megaupload.

It’s an interesting move. Does that signify concern over whether the criminal case will succeed, or was this always planned?

Dotcom is specifically named in the suit, under his most famous name as well as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor.

Kim Tim Jim Vestor???

According to the Government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million (NZ$203.4m) in … proceeds and cost US copyright owners more than half a billion dollars.

The studios allege Megaupload paid users based on how many times the content was downloaded by others. But the studios allege the site didn’t pay at all until that content was downloaded 10,000 times.

This is a key detail in both the criminal and civil lawsuits. Other file-sharing websites do not pay people based on how many downloads they get for content they upload. This is how they allege they incentivised copyright infringement, rather than just provided a file sharing platform (such as the new Mega).

This does not mean the lawsuits will be successful. But it is a key factor in why Megaupload was targeted, and not other file-sharing sites. If someone can earn say $10,000 by uploading the latest movie release, well that is a pretty good incentive to do so.

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Brown on synthetic cannabis

April 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Russel Brown writes:

With the news yesterday of the attempted arson of a legal highs store in Invercargill, it’s reasonable to ask whether we’re on the verge of public hysteria about synthetic cannabis. The next question would be why it’s happening now, when 95% of retail outlets for such products have been either shut down or forbidden to to sell the products — and those remaining are closely monitored and, for the first time, required to be strictly R18 premises.

What seems to have happen is that the law has been sucessful in closing down most legal high outlets but it has made the remaining outlets more visible.

The list of products deemed low-risk and granted interim approval is a fraction of the nearly 300 legal highs sold in the past few years, before the new Act. It includes half a dozen fairly harmless pill products containing caffeine, guarana, kava, green tea and amino acids, and the rest is synthetic pot. When the full approval process gets underway, all of these will be banned subject to the Authority being satisfied that they present a low risk. It is quite possible that no products administered by smoking will meet the standard.

People forget that prior to the law change there was no regulation at all. Prohibition will not work, so the current law should be given time to see if it is effective.

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General Debate 9 April 2014

April 9th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Everest Base Camp Day 3

April 9th, 2014 at 3:07 am by David Farrar

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Water in Nepal is not generally safe to drink, so normally you boil it first and then also add a water purifier such as Aquamira. Seven drops from each bottle per litre. You’re meant to drink four litres a day to stop dehydration.

On the health front our guide also has a little gadget that you stick on your finger and it measures your oxygen level in your blood and your pulse. On the first night my blood oxygen level was around 95% and resting pulse 56 beats per minute. That was at around 2400 metres. On the second night the blood oxygen was 91% and pulse 67 so it will be interesting to see how much more it changes as we go up.

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Today was a rest day, or more accurately an acclimatisation day. We did a three hour walk in the morning, so it wasn’t that restful. Here we go through some woods up to the local museum.

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You can see the museum at the far left, and the army barracks in the centre. Quite funny to see armed soldiers putting out laundry!

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Outside the museum you get your first view of Mt Everest. It’s the peak on the left in the background.

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This exhibit has some rocks from the dead sea, so stuff from the lowest point on Earth is at the view of the highest point on Earth,

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Me with Everest in the background.

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After the museum we then did a 300 metre climb up the hill over Namche. And I mean a climb. Almost straight up – it was a zig-zag but each zig and zag was only four metres or so. A view of some crop and farm land below.

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A helicopter flying overhead.

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And it landed at a small airport around two thirds of the way up. Only choppers land here now. Once they had six seater planes landing here, but the runway is far too rough for that anymore.

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We finally made it up to 3,770 metres and there was a tea house up there.

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We had morning tea up here and the photos can’t capture how amazing it was. On all four sides we’ve got views of snow covered peaks – yet it was a warm day.

So far during the trek it has been warm during the day – I’ve had on just shorts and a merino top. But in the evenings it is already getting bitterly cold – wearing two layers of merino, a puffer jacket, gloves and a beanie – and am still cold.

 

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I love how they define what a long toilet use is!

Extra is how the lodges make most of their money. The actual room costs around 300 rupees which is around $3.50 NZ only! But wireless is 500 rupees, electricity 200 rupees, a shower 150 rupees etc so that is where they get more of their income from. Still incredibly cheap though.

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This is how I am managing to blog. The local telecommunications tower.

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Quite different terrain up here – bush and open plains to a degree.

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This is by the airport and is the local cremation site. I pity the locals who have to carry a body all the way up here.

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A great view of Namche Bazaar from above.

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One of the things I love about being here is that yaks and mules are constantly making their way along the streets along with all the humans.

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Today is the last day it is safe to eat meat. The hygiene standards (and accommodation standards) drop significantly from tomorrow, and it is not safe to eat meat. So I had a steak as my final meat for the next 12 days.

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And Tau makes 15

April 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National MP Tau Henare has announced his retirement from politics on Twitter.

The veteran MP announced he will retire at the election.

The 53-year-old former Maori Affairs Minister made the announcement via Twitter this morning, saying: “Well, I’m on my way to caucus to inform my colleagues of the @NZNationalParty that I intend to retire at the upcoming General Election.”

Henare was first elected to Parliament in 1993 elections for New Zealand First in the former Northern Maori electorate.

He is currently chair of the Maori Affairs select committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee.

I knew Tau when he was the NZ First Maori Affairs Minister. Not too many Ministers would be sitting in their office with some of their staff having a sing-along with a guitar. Tau was actually an effective Minister, and I’ve always been a bit disappointed he never got a chance to be a Minister again.

“I could have put my name in to be nominated but at the end of the day [15 years] is a good haul for a fella like me.

15 years is a good spell. Some in other parties seem to think 33 years isn’t enough! I’ll miss not having Tau around – lots of fun, and he was also a key MP in getting votes for Louisa Wall’s marriage bill from the Nats.

He would be the 15th National MP to retire at or before the election, with the most high profile among those resignations being Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Hopefully lots of new faces in caucus after the election. So far the quality of candidates selected has been good, but many more to go.

Matthew Beveridge has a collection of tweets from colleagues across the House wishing Tau well.

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Stonking confidence

April 8th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The economy is running at the best pace in more than a decade and business confidence is the highest since 1994 according to a new survey.

The latest NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion released today shows optimism and activity were being translated into hiring, investment and better profits.

“The underlying trend is very, very strong – stonking,” NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

Retail spending surged to its highest level since 1994 and building was at its best since December 2003.

The survey shows confidence about the general business situation remained at net 52 per cent of firms positive, seasonally adjusted, the highest since June 1994.

The ten year highs keep getting replaced by 20 year highs.

So obviously this is a time in which we need to increase taxes, scrap our monetary policy, and partially nationalise electricity and housing sectors!

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Parliament Today April 8 2014

April 8th, 2014 at 1:42 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers. 2.00PM-3.00PM

  1. MAGGIE BARRY to the Minister of Finance: How is the Government ensuring recent broad-based growth and good fiscal management is delivering higher incomes and more jobs for families?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  3. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE to the Minister for ACC: What announcements has she recently made in respect of the ACC levies?
  4. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  5. RICHARD PROSSER to the Minister for Primary Industries:Does he believe that New Zealand’s biosecurity preparations, including Biosecurity NZ, are sufficiently and adequately resourced to protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks?
  6. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: By what percentage will New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increase in the next 10 years, according to the Ministry for the Environment annual report for the year ended June 2013?
  7. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Infometrics estimate that the 1974 Super Fund would have savings of $278 billion, if it had not been axed by the National Government, and does he agree wages would be higher in New Zealand if we had those higher savings?
  8. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister for Economic Development: What announcements has the Government made to further help New Zealand exporters succeed internationally?
  9. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE to the Minister of Commerce: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. Dr JIAN YANG to the Minister of Health: What recent announcements has the Government made about better supporting people with autism?
  11. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Is she satisfied that the proposed creation of new Executive Principal and Expert Teacher positions has the support and confidence of school teachers and principals; if so, why?
  12. GARETH HUGHES to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Is he satisfied safety in the petroleum industry is adequate given there have been two fires at installations, six uncontrolled releases of hydrocarbons, 15 events that saw emergency response plans activated, one well integrity issue and three incidents with the potential to cause a major accident, in just the past eight months?

Today Labour are asking whether the Prime Minister stands by all his statements, whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his ministers, performance of superannuation schemes, whether the Minister of Commerce stands by all his statements, and partnership schools. The Greens are asking about the safety of petroleum production. New Zealand First is asking about bio security.

Patsy Question of the day goes to Dr Jian Yang for Question 10: What recent announcements has the Government made about better supporting people with autism?

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

1. Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

2. Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

3. Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

4. Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill – Committee Stage

The Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill  is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill proposes amendments to the Land Transport Act 1998 and the Road User Charges Act 2012.

The  Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill  is being guided through the house by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Employment, Steven Joyce. This bill proposes amendments to the Industry Training Act 1992 and the Education Act 1989, and repeal of the Modern Apprenticeship Training Act 2000 to implement the findings of the industry training review undertaken by the Government in 2011 and 2012.

The Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by Chester Borrows, the Associate Minister of Social Development. This bill proposes amendments to the Social Security Act 1964 to make spouses and partners, as well as beneficiaries, accountable for fraud, and to enable the Ministry of Social Development to recover debt more effectively.

The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill implements a new safeguards regime for New Zealand.

 

 

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Neo-nazis gain support in Hungary

April 8th, 2014 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sweeping gains by Hungary’s neo-Nazi Jobbik party provoked concern across Europe yesterday after the anti-Semitic organisation won one in five votes in a general election which returned the maverick right-wing Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, to power.

Results showed that far-right Jobbik, which wants detention camps for Roma deviants and has argued that Jews are a national security risk, had upped its share of support by five per cent and had secured 20.86 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s election.

This is very disturbing.  Jobbik is a vile racist party that fosters hatred. While it is only Hungary, the rise of antisemitism again in European politics is disturbing.

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