The $400 a head party ratepayers paid for

Stuff reports:

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

Just don’t call it a party.

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

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

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

How nice for the elected officials.

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

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

A $400 a head party, funded by ratepayers.

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

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

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

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

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

A classy response to death threats

The President of The Arizona Republic writes:

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

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

What is the correct response, really, to this?




How did I come to be hearing these threats?

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

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

They decided to endorse Clinton.

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

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

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

And threats to her personally:

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

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

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

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

This is actually an ad for alcohol!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes you are a bit of a knob!

Stuff reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder what time of day this was.

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

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

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

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

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

Yes you are.

Passenger projections

Michael Reddell blogs:

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

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

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

The Greens plastic bag tax

The Greens have said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthews on vaping

Philip Matthews has a long article on vaping in NZ:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting paid not to milk

Stuff reports:

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

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

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

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

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

A good gang?

The Herald reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are no more P dealers in Ngaraz.”

Have to give them full marks for effectiveness.

She’d be better off campaigning for Trump

Stuff reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spying on dairy farmers

Stuff reports:

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

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

It had been placed there without permission.

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

It is both illegal and a gross invasion of privacy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fibre connections double in a year

Stats NZ reports:

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

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

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

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

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


Weighting Surveys

The NY Times reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

■ It weights by past vote.

Thomas Lumley comments at Stats Chat:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Van Beynen on poverty

Martin van Beynen writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just to recap.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sadly this is true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sensing Murder

Steve Kilgallon at Stuff writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peters says ditch most speed cameras

The Herald reports:

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

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

Sounds good to me also.

Kasich backs TPP

John Kasich writes in the WP:

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff reports:

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

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

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

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

Another one bites the dust

Newshub reported:

Another Labour Party press secretary has quit the party, the fourth to do so in just three months.

The latest casualty is Danya Levy, a senior press secretary who has worked at Parliament for 12 years in a number of roles, including as a journalist. 

It leaves Labour with just two full-time press secretaries and a handful of other staff doing communications duties part time.

Last month two other press secretaries – Julie Jacobson and Miles Erwin – threw in the towel, and eight weeks before that chief press secretary Sarah Stuart quit as well.

Wow, it is almost like a pattern, as if there was a problem.

Fibre vs 5G

Chris Keall writes at NBR:

“Right now, the internet, with all our mobile devices is consuming about 10% of all the energy we produce as a species,” former British Telecom chief technology officer Peter Cochrane says.

He’s explaining why the so-called internet-of-things will be huge, 5G and other wireless technologies will never make fibre redundant (fibre, of course, being close to the heart of Chorus, which is hosting his New Zealand visit). …

Some say the nightmare scenario for Chorus is that just as the UFB fibre rollout wraps up at the end of 2019, Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees will be upgrading their mobile data networks to 5G, with bandwidth matching what most people get from a landline fibre connection today. The UFB will be finally complete, and suddenly surplus to requirements.

But the ex-BT CTO says there’s “not a chance” that will happen.

People who say that don’t understand the nature of wireless or the capabilities of fibre, he says. And nearly every pundit would agree with him, NBR would have to say – at least with data compression technology as it stands today. The bands of spectrum that suit mobile data transmission can only get so crowded and are subject to interference. But you always lay more fibre or upgrade its capacity.

You can get amazing speeds now on mobile, but fibre will always be able to be faster, with greater capacity and less latency.

How does New Zealand’s UFB rollout stand up internationally? Is it world-class, as our government says?

Mr Cochrane reckons so. He says it’s “ahead of the UK and every other country in Europe.”

High praise.

Air NZ bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Stuff reports:

Air New Zealand has issued a total ban on fire-prone Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on all of its flights from 5am on Sunday morning.

A spokeswoman said the airline strongly advised travellers not to bring these devices to the airport with them.  

“They cannot be accepted for travel and there is no storage facility available for them at our check in areas,” the spokeswoman said.

It came after the United States Department of Transportation issued a total ban on passengers and flight crews bringing the phones on airline flights into and out of the United States.

Is this the worst product defect in modern times? A phone that can catch fire or explode but itself?

Can McMullin win Utah?

Politico reports:

Long the thought that came after the afterthought of the 2016 presidential campaign, independent conservative Evan McMullin now has a chance to make his mark in the race — thanks in large part to a leaked tape of Donald Trump talking about sexual assault.

Trump’s lewd tape appears to be cutting into his standing among social conservatives, nowhere more so than in Utah, where the Mormon faith holds sway and tolerance for the latest revelation of Trump’s lasciviousness has pushed his already strained relationship with state Republicans past the breaking point. That, combined with a broad rejection of Hillary Clinton, is good news for McMullin.

Story Continued Below


McMullin, a former Capitol Hill and CIA staffer who’s running a barebones campaign as a conservative alternative, not only grew up in Utah, he has made the state the focus of his campaign.

It’s paying off. While McMullin is almost unknown nationally and on the ballot in only 11 states, a new poll released Wednesday by Utah-based Y2 Analytics found McMullin with 22 percent support across the state. That’s just behind Trump and Clinton, who were tied at 26 percent, and ahead of Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson’s 14 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s 1 percent. (Trump’s campaign did not return a request for comment on the poll results.)

It’s just one poll, but it’s enough for Utah’s political insiders to take notice.

“I’ll make a prediction: He’s going to win the state,” said Dave Hansen, a political adviser to Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), on Wednesday. “I think people don’t want Trump and they don’t like Clinton out here, and he is kind of the unknown, but people like him. He’s a safe place to go to cast their ballot.”

Utah only has six electoral votes and is highly unlikely to matter for the overall outcome. But if Trump did fail to win Utah, it would be the first time since 1964 the GOP candidate didn’t win Utah.

If McMullin did win Utah, there is a very slim chance he would become President. It would require Trump to recover in the polls and come so close to Clinton that neither of them get 270 Electoral College votes.

Then the election shifts to the House of Representatives who have to choose between the top three candidates. Each state delegation gets one vote and Republicans control 33 of the 50 delegations.

The Republican would not choose Clinton. And in a choice between Trump and McMullin, I’d say most would go for McMullin!

But very unlikely that it will be close enough between Trump and Clinton. Currently Trump is projected to get under 200 Electoral College votes.


Should Crs get free childcare?

Stuff reports:

A newly-elected district councillor plans to take her baby to meetings because the available subsidies exclude childcare. 

Hurunui District councillor Julia McLean said juggling council responsibilities with caring for a 6-month-old, 4-year-old and 7-year-old put her “on the back foot from the start”.

She wrote to the Remuneration Authority (RMA) asking for council expense policies to be brought into “modern times”.

As well as councillors’ salaries, the RMA covered cellphone and internet use and mileage, but there was nothing for childcare. 

McLean, 33, said it may explain why more women, especially mothers, were not involved in local body governance despite the number of decisions that affected families. 

“I’ve been elected as an equal, but I’m not being treated as one”. 

McLean had no immediate family in Canterbury. Her partner worked full time, Monday to Friday.  While her older children were covered under the 20 hours free early childcare programme, her 6-month-old and the school holidays were a problem.

She was required to attend an eight-hour council meeting every Thursday, as well as reading and preparation. She has fielded calls to sit on advisory boards.

After taking childcare costs out of her $20,000 salary, there would be little left, she said. 

This doesn’t quite add up. As I understand it a day of childcare is around $35 so childcare for the six month old for one day a week would be around $1,700 a year. The older kids are at school or get the 20 free hours a week.