Bad timing

August 28th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar



Had a fun night last night celebrating Kiwiblog’s 10th birthday party. The Kiwiblog RTDs have become collector items! Thanks to all those who made it, and big thanks to Kensington Swan, Ideas Shop, Independent Liquor and Wine Seeker for sponsoring the event.

Was a pretty late night/morning so slow day today. The bad timing is that tonight is the final episode of Backbenches so will be two big nights in a row!

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Backbenches appearances

June 5th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I recently inquired as to which MPs have appeared on Backbenches, and how often. I was actually more interested in which MPs have not apeared. Anyway a few interesting stats for appearances since the 2011 election.

  • Labour 33 times
  • National 32 times
  • Green 28 times
  • NZ First 18 times
  • United Future 4 times
  • Mana 2 times
  • Maori Party 1 time

And in terms of individual MPs who have appeared more than twice:

  • 5 – Andrew Williams
  • 4 – Catherine Delahunty, Peter Dunne, Tracey Martin
  • 3 – Brendan Horan, Chester Borrows, David Bennett, David Parker, Gareth Hughes, Holly Walker, Jan Logie, Louise Upston, Richard Prosser

What I was really interested in was which MPs have never gone on at all since the 2011 election. I am excluding Ministers. By party they are:

  • Greens – Mojo Mathers
  • Labour – Nanaia Mahuta, Clare Curran, Darien Fenton, Ruth Dyson, Raymond Huo, Rajen Prasad, Ross Robertson
  • National – Paul Hutchison, Eric Roy, Tau Henare, Jacqui Dean, Lindsay Tisch, Shane Ardern, Jonathan Young, Bakshi Singh, Katrina Shanks, Melissa Lee, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Jian Yang, Simon O’Connor, Mike Sabin
  • NZ First – Barbara Stewart, Asenati Lole-Taylor

Hopefully we’ll see a few of them on over the next couple of years.


Backbenches to return in 2013

September 13th, 2012 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

Sky TV has announced that Backbenches will return in 2013. It will be primarily funded by NZ on Air, part-funded by Sky, produced by TVNZ, broadcast live on Wednesday evenings by Prime TV and shown delayed on TVNZ Heartland channel.

A great collaborative effort, which should mean it is seen by far more people than was the case on TVNZ7.

Funding at this stage is for 20 one hour shows.

As I said when Backbenches finished on TVNZ7, I’ve been a big fan of the show. However there are some format changes they should consider to make it better when it relaunches.

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Backbenches funded by NZ on Air

August 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Back Benches looks set to live on after the demise of TVNZ7 with NZ On Air committing funding “in principle” to the programme running on Prime.

NZ On Air spokeswoman Gina Rogers said the agency was having talks with Prime about its financial contribution to the show.

It also wanted a shorter season than the planned 50-episode series for next year. Parliament sits for only 30-odd weeks a year, but Back Benches does a New Zealand summer tour.

Ms Rogers said NZ On Air wanted to see Back Benches work. “We’d be really excited about its return.”

I’m very pleased with this. Good on Sky TV for agreeing to broadcast it, and NZ on Air for funding it.

On Prime TV, which is free to air, it will have the potential to get a much bigger audience than it had on TVNZ7.

This shows that public broadcasting is not dependent on TVNZ7 – a channel which had minsicule ratings for most programmes. The NZ on Air model allows local broadcasting to be funded across all broadcasters.

TVNZ7 was a failed experiment. TVNZ can not be both a commercial and a public service broadcaster.

Personally I would sell TVNZ and use the capital to set up a proper public service broadcaster, combined with Radio NZ. But the operating costs of that could be too high in our fiscal times, so for now the NZ on Air model is working well.

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Will Backbenches be saved?

July 6th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Drinnan writes at NZ Herald:

Plans for TVNZ to make Back Benches for Prime TV will deliver good public relations results all round and a pleasing result for the show’s loyal audience.

The politics programme, which is one of the last vestiges of television in Wellington, has screened on TVNZ 7 until it was discontinued last week.

It does not fit with TVNZ’s aims of making profit at all costs, so TVNZ is not interested in picking up the niche-interest show for TV One.

Prime TV is prepared to run a weekly 10.30pm show – a time when it should not be too encumbered with advertising.

So now TVNZ, which owns the intellectual property, has sought taxpayer funding from New Zealand On Air to make the show in-house and sell it to Prime.

This is a win-win-win. Worthy souls will applaud the survival of Back Benches. TVNZ and New Zealand On Air will do something to keep the legacy alive.

NZ on Air has to agree to the funding request, but I certainly hope they do.

As I understand it the bid is a co-operative exercise between TVNZ and Sky, and it would probably also show on a TVNZ channel at a delayed time spot.

The good thing is this bid, if successful, will open up viewership to a potentially much larger audience than TVNZ7 had.

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The final TVNZ7 Backbenches

June 27th, 2012 at 10:35 pm by David Farrar

Just finished watching the final episode of Backbenches, well on TVNZ7 anyway. I watched in on TV, as the Speights Ale House was crammed to capacity. A fair bit of the show ended up being filmed on the pavement outside after a fire alarm went out, providing an exciting end to the show on TVNZ7.

It is possible the show may get picked up by another broadcaster, but for now anyway it has ended after four and a bit years.

In the main, I’ve greatly enjoyed the show – both as a viewer, and occasional participant.    The after show drinking sessions ending up at Hummingbird have also been good!

I thought I would first start with the good. The two producers – Caroline and Mary-Anne – are always friendly, always professional, put together an excellent production and two really great people to boot.

The combination of Wallace and Damien worked well. Damien’s humour and Wallace’s engaging style produced a very watchable show.  I said to Wallace some years ago that one day I could see him on Close Up. I still hold to that view.

The floor manager and technical staff did an excellent job of live broadcasts from a non-studio. The Backbenches pub was a great venue for the show, as has been Speights Ale House for the last three weeks.

I think it was a great thing that we had a show, where any member of the public could turn up at the pub, and see four MPs debate the week’s issues, and meet and chat to them before hands and afterwards. There are few countries that have their MPs so accessible. I recall one show on a day the House rose early, and there were over 40 MPs at the Backbencher.

I also think the show was great for MPs, especially well backbenchers. Previously some MPs would never have to debate on live television until they were a Minister – and normally only if they are in the crap! It’s good training for MPs.

So many good things about Backbenchers, and I will miss it. But there were two or three issues which did detract from it.

The first is the behaviour of some in the audience. We saw this tonight where they booed and hissed as Peter Dunne got introduced. I will heckle (hopefully something humourous) an MP when they say something worth heckling, but would never ever boo or hiss an MP – as would be the case for most people. But the partisan activists who regularly jeer, boo and hiss those they disagree with did the show a dis-service. And if no other broadcaster does pick up the show, then I happen to know their behaviour has been an element in that. Certain broadcasting executives have commented on some of the appalling rudeness.

Linked to that, is the composition of the audience has changed over the four years. There has always been a hard core group of activists from the right and left who have turned up, which is good. But there used to also be a lot of non-activists turn up, who just wanted to experience the show. Over time it seems there were fewer of those, and the audiences became more and more the partisan activists.

Another issue for me has been the composition of the panels, since the 2011 election. The formula has always been one MP per party. Up until the 2011 election this would normally mean two Government MPs and two Opposition MPs. After ACT lost all their backbenches in 2011, the result has been almost every panel has been three opposition MPs and one Government MP. It could have been worth allowing two MPs from National, or alternatively having just three MPs on the panel, so it is slightly less lop sided.

As I said, it is possible Backbenches will continue on another channel. I hope it does. While I have highlighted some issues (I’d solve the booing issue by having the cameras do close up focuses on those doing it), I definitely think overall it has become a fun part of New Zealand politics.

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Backbencher gutted by fire

June 8th, 2012 at 8:17 am by David Farrar

Photo by Kent Blechynden, of the Dom Post.

Stuff reports:

Firefighters were called to a fire at well-known Wellington landmark the Backbencher Pub this morning.

Fire Service central communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said firefighters were alerted at 4.45am when an alarm went off in the multi-storey Kate Sheppard apartment building, next to the pub.

It is understood the fire began in the pub’s kitchen.

Apartment residents were evacuated and eight fire trucks were sent.

Thank goodness no one was harmed, but this is still an awful thing. The Backbencher is an iconic Wellington institution.

Boycie and his staff will be devastated. Seeing the damage will be soul destroying, and their collection of political cartoons and puppets may be irreplacable.

I worked at the Red Cross on Hill Street in 1990 when the Backbencher opened, and went there on its opening day. So I’ve been going there for over 20 years, and it comes close to my second home. I just hope the damage doesn’t see it closed for too long.

On a more practical note, it means the Backbenches TV show will need a new venue for its final three shows on TVNZ7.

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TVNZ7 programmes

March 7th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As most readers will know, TVNZ7 ends in June. The funding given to it by Labour was for an initial period (was never made permanent), in order for it to become self-funding, and National has not decided to give TVNZ a subsidy to keep it going.

I don’t think the channel itself matters, as we have dozens of channels in NZ, and the value associated with a channel is becoming much less in the Internet age. I do think though there were some programmes on TVNZ7 which it would be good to have continue on. The three which I associate with being public broadcasting are the Court Report, Media 7 and Backbenchers. Important issues get discussed in a reasoned way (well on two of them anyway!).

Most of the other shows on TVNZ7 are imported or the hourly news bulletins, which are hardly essential. So my focus is on the three programmes above. There is also The Good Word.

Now to have a sensible discussion on their future, we need to know how many people were watching them, and how much they cost.

Neilsen have not been contracted to report ratings for TVNZ7. I think this is disgraceful considering the $15m a year that was spent on it. It should be a requirement of any use of taxpayer funds for broadcasting that the viewer data be made publicly available.

However we can get some idea of ratings. TVNZ7 is included in an “other” category. This excludes Channels 1 to 4, Prime, MTS, Box and Sky channels. Now last week “other” during the time Media7 was on got 0.6% AUD%, which is around 24,000 viewers. This means the number of viewers was somewhere between 0 and 24,000.

These level of viewers makes it hard to justify taxpayer investment. Public broadcasting is not expected to rate like Shortland Street as it is not commercial. But it is expected to at least rate. You should be achieving at least 1% of the population. It is quite possible no show on TVNZ7 has ever achieved even a 1% audience. I don’t blame the shows for this – I think the three shows mentioned are well produced and very worthwhile. If anything I blame TVNZ for not promoting them on other channels. TVNZ use their 6 pm new slot to often promote Q+A. They didn’t do this for any of the stuff on TVNZ7. How often did a story on TVNZ7 get picked up on TVNZ news the next day? I can think of many that should have been (such as Jim Farmer QC’s comments on the Supreme Court on the Court Report). So TVNZ failed to promote TVNZ7 programmes enough.

Next you consider how much these programmes cost. Someone out there may know, and I would hope it is public information as they are taxpayer funded. NZ on Air publishes funding details of the programmes they fund. We should be able to easily look up what the TVNZ7 programmes cost.

But someone in the industry has estimated for me that those programmes would probably cost $10,000/hr to produce or $5,000 an episode. So that is $250,000 a year. *If* those prices are correct, that is not an unaffordable amount of money. Now NZ on Air allocates $80m a year of contestable funding towards NZ TV programmes. It is not impossible to imagine that they could find $750,000 a year to keep Media 7, Court Report and Backbenches on our screens. However the real problem is finding the broadcaster to agree to host them.

TVNZ is refusing (so far) to apply to NZ on Air to keep any of those programmes going. Why? Well they don’t want to screen them on TV1 or TV2 during a weeknight, as they would lose advertising revenue. I can understand that, but I don’t see why they couldn’t apply for them to be shown on a Saturday or Sunday?

But lets assume for now TVNZ won’t agree to broadcast them. What about other broadcasters? Well this could be an opportunity for Sky. They could apply for NZ on Air funding to show it on Prime or on Sky News. Politically it could be useful for Sky also to be doing more public good broadcasting (they also did election debates etc), as their future in a converged broadcasting and telecommunications market is scrutinised. Sky would also have the ability to promote the shows to get more viewers.

Another possibility is to make (for example) the Court Report an Internet broadcast. NZ on Air already fund some stuff over the Internet. The sort of people who watch the Court Report will tend to be Internet savvy, and many would happily subscribe to it and watch on their iPads or PCs.

So the issues are much much wider than just funding for TVNZ7. It is a complicated challenge. I’ve always been of the view that TVNZ can not be asked to be both a commercial broadcaster and a public service broadcaster. However that does leave opportunities for others.

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Backbenches tonight

November 23rd, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m one of four panelists on Backbenches tonight. Joining me are:

  • Morgan Godfrey, the NZ blogger with the most Mana
  • Professor Ana Gilling from Victoria University
  • Mark Unsworth, supremely evil lobbyist

Tonight’s show is not the normal one with politicians arguing their parties are great and good, but the four of us analysing the campaign and the election.

We will be talking about the highs and lows of the campaign, who has been most effective at getting their message across, what have been the big issues. We’ll rate each party’s campaign, and also talk about some of the scandals from the Tea Party to damaged hoardings to tactical voting.

If you are in Wellington, pop along to the Backbencher pub if interested. On air from 9.10 pm to 10 pm live on TVNZ7.

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Back Benches 7 September 2011

September 5th, 2011 at 7:47 pm by Kokila Patel


CHRISTCHURCH REBUILD … A year since the first Christchurchearthquake and a lot has been accomplished but what more needs to be done?  Is the  rebuild of Christchurch  happening as quickly as it should and what about the people of Bexley?  The EQC has a huge number of claims to deal with plus their reserves are  exhausted with the Government saying repairing Christchurch will cost double the original estimates. Will the new city  look completely different and what time frame are we talking about?

PACIFIC FORUM … Starts Wednesday in Auckland.  It’s the 40th anniversary  with the first one taking place in Auckland  in 1971.  Prime Minister John Key says he’ll be “absolutely stunned” if Pacific Island  leaders have changed their position on Fiji.  Over the weekend a  number of leaders expressed support for Fiji wanting its membership of the  Pacific Forum restored.   In the past New  Zealand and Australia have been accused of  being bullies … is that valid?  Would it be more effective to keep Fiji  within the forum?  The other big issue is Climate change.  United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is warning if nothing is done the islands  of the pacific face economic and social instability.  Is this the real worry the ocean waves that are more dangerous than any army?  Is New Zealand  doing enough?  A number of Islands could  disappear will a lot more Pacific people be coming here to live?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Back Bencher pub: Wednesday 7th of September.  Our Panel … Rahui Katene Maori Party, Labour’s Stuart Nash and Jacqui Dean from National.

Back Benches screens on TVNZ 7 Wednesdays at 9.05pm with encore screenings on Thursdays at 9.05am and 1.05pm, Saturdays at 10.05pm, Sundays at 10.05am and 2.05pm


Back Benches 31 August 2011

August 29th, 2011 at 10:36 am by Kokila Patel

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: IT IS THE SCIENCE & INNOVATION SPECIAL. Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests!

“We’re a country of innovators. We’re known for and are proud of our No. 8 Wire mentality. It may get things done, but is it holding us back? Back Benches is answering your questions in this Science & Innovation Special on August 31st. Why is it important for us to move beyond the No. 8 wire? How do we transform the backyard inventor into a world class successful businessman?

How do we compete against countries like China and India where Sciences and Maths are a priority? What can teachers do to fight against the idea these subjects are boring? How do we make, as one Kiwi Scientist suggests, Science sexy?

How can innovations change our biggest industry—Agriculture? Improve Agriculture for the better—better for the environment, better for farmers, better for the bottom line, and most importantly better for our wallets? How do we become world-leaders?

National says their investing our dollars in Science & Innovation while Labour says it’s not enough.  Is it about spending more money or spending it more efficiently? Or is it really about making a huge cultural shift? We’ll find out as only Back Benches can with our MPs, experts, and you the audience.”

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 31st of August. Our Panel: ACT MP Heather Roy, Green Party MP David Clendon, Labour MP David Shearer and National MP Dr. Paul Hutchison.


Back Benches – August 10 2011

August 8th, 2011 at 2:22 pm by Kokila Patel

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

CHOICE—JUST AROUND THE CORNER?: The filibuster’s been broken so is choice just around the corner? Will the Voluntary Student Membership bill pass? Could this be the death knell of University Student Unions? Or will this separate the wheat from the chaff? And what does it mean for Student media? How important is our student media? Does student radio and magazines need to be separately funded rather than through Student Membership dues?

SAVED!:  It was facing cuts up to 60% but the release of the Early Childhood Education Taskforce report means that playcentre and parent-led ECE services are safe from cuts. But what about other ECE services?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 10th of August. Our Panel: ACT MP Heather Roy, Green MP Gareth Hughes, Labour MP David Parker and National MP Amy Adams.

Back Benches screens on Wednesdays at 9.05pm with encore screenings on Thursdays at 9.05am and 1.05pm, Saturdays at 10.05pm, Sundays at 10.05am and 2.05pm – TVNZ 7


Rape, Blame and Safety

May 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

National backbencher Paul Quinn has apologised for remarking “there is a real issue with young ladies getting drunk” during a debate about rape.

The list MP defended his comments by saying he misunderstood the question because of background noise.

And he was forced to issue an apology on Twitter after a storm of negative feedback on the micro-blogging network.

He posted: “Sorry I did not hear what she had said. So my answer was totally out of context and I know that short skirts are not provocation.”

It is very very noisy in the pub at Backbenches.  Adam Bennett in the NZ Herald reports:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman, who was sitting next to Mr Quinn, said the National MP had turned to him and told him he had been unable to hear the presentation properly.

“He seemed genuine,” he said

I think Russel’s comments make it very clear that Paul did not hear the context to the question.

In terms of the substance, I always find it useful to differenitiate between blame and safety. In terms of blame, the victim is never to blame for being raped. Nothing justifies rape = ever.

The Lady Garden blogs:

For the record, I could give a dude a blowjob in a bar bathroom, and if he then forced himself on me, it wouldn’t be my fault. Get it?

I agree entirely.

To use a well known example, if Mike Tyson invites you back to his hotel room at 2 am, and then has sex with you against his will, you are not to blame, he is. And in this case he was convicted of rape as he should have been.

However if a female friend of mine told me that Mike Tyson has asked her back to his hotel room at 2 am, my advice would be not to go – or at least not to go alone, as you might not be safe.

Likewise if you get invited to a party at the Mongrel Mob fortress, again my advice would be not to go. If you did go, and got raped, it would be entirely the responsibility of the Mongrel Mob rapists, but as we do not live in a perfect world, reducing risk is often a sensible thing to do.

This is not just about rape. If I was wearing a $20,000 Rolex and had $50,000 of cash on me, and attended said Mongrel Mob party, then there is an increased risk I’ll get beaten up and robbed. I would be the victim, and 100% not to blame. The muggers would be to blame. However I’d probably conclude not to attend any more Mongrel Mob parties with Rolexes.

It is NEVER a rape-victim’s fault that they were attacked. The responsibility lies with the criminal, and the criminal alone. Clothes, behaviour, what they’ve had to drink, their sexual past, proclivities, and promises are no fucking excuse, and don’t come into it at all.

I agree. They are no excuse, and all the blame lies with the criminal. It is atrocious that some men can’t accept this, and commit rape. It is a hideous crime.

However, and I say this with genuine concern, one does have to accept we don’t live in a perfect crime free world. And it is worth taking steps to minimise the probability of crime. No I don’t mean dressing like nuns and being a teetotaller. I do mean however being aware that if you get pissed, you may not be as able to prevent a crime occuring. So if you are getting pissed, maybe make sure you have a more sober friend with you.

Whn going home after a night out, consider the relative dangers of walking home vis a taxi. There are some suburbs that would not be particularly safe for either men or women to be going through at 3 am. if you get mugged or raped, of course you are not to blame because you took a short cut through (for example) Cannons Creek. But knowing we do not live in a crime free society, it might be a good idea not to do so.

It would be nice if we could leave our front doors unlocked and the car keys in our cars, without them being stolen. And if they are stolen, the thief is to blame. But generally I wouldn’t recommend people leave their car keys in their ignition.

Now again, I am in no way saying that women should not go out, should not drink alcohol, should not wear what they like, just to minimise the chance of rape.  All I’m trying to say is there are some evil bastards out there, and to use some common sense when out on the town – to look after each other.

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Backbenches this week

March 28th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


  • David Shearer, Labour
  • Katrina Shanks, National
  • Heather Roy, ACT
  • Keith Locke, Greens


  • The cost of a University education
  • The increasing specialisation of Universities
  • Doctors flying to Aus for 8 grand weekends

9.10 pm Wednesday on TVNZ7 or live at the Backbencher


Backbenches this week

March 21st, 2011 at 5:32 pm by David Farrar

Special guest Emeritus Prof Jim Flynn – world renown for his work on IQ. Also the Childrens Commissioner.


  • Charles Chauvel (Lab)
  • Michael Woodhouse (Nat)
  • Catherine Delahunty ( Greens)

Topics: Libya, paid parental leave, NZ books and book month, and more..

Backbenches are giving away an e-reader wed night also.

Filed live in the Backbencher from 9.10 pm on Wednesday.


Backbenches this week

March 8th, 2011 at 2:23 pm by David Farrar

Wednesday at Back Benches starting 9.10 pm

  • Carmel Sepuloni ( Lab)
  • Louise Upston (Nat)
  • Kevin Hague (Greens)

Topics include Oil prices, Welfare working group, Chch Heritage.

Also if you can make it early, there is a charity photo auction chaired by Chris Tremain from 6 pm. Proceeds for the earthquake and a chance to pick up some affordable art.

Come along next Wednesday, 9 March at 6pm to The Backbencher, opposite Parliament for a charity photo auction. We have a large number of photographic prints, in a wide range of styles up for grabs. There will be something for everyone, from photos of live gigs to landscapes to alternative and vintage photographic techniques. All proceeds will be going to Christchurch Earthquake charity funds. Support the people of Christchurch, and purchase something unique and interesting. All details can be found on the facebook event page

We are intending to make a catalog available by the weekend, as well for those who are unable to be there, we are willing to accept absentee bids. Those who are interested in either of these can contact me by email on

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Backbenches 2 March

March 1st, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Backbenches at 9.10 pm on Wednesday 2 March will of course be focusing on Christchurch.

Bring along a fiver and we’ll try and raise a bit of cash to send to the Red Cross. Damian and I will raffle off a stack of NZ music CDs, as well as a beautiful hard back book by acclaimed NZ Magnum photographer Brian Brake.

The Panel – Gareth Hughes (Greens), Darren Hughes ( Labour) Peter Dunne ( United Future ) John Hayes ( National). Come around 8.30 pm, starts 9 pm, we’d love to see you there.


Backbenches returns

February 14th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Back Benches is back in Wellington on Wednesday. At the Backbencher Pub at 9.10 pm. Come early for a pre-show drink or two.

MPs are:

  • Annette King, Labour
  • Chester Borrows, National
  • John Boscawen, ACT
  • Metiria Turei, Greens

My Backbenches picks

December 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The year in review episode of Backbenches screens tonight on TVNZ 7 at 9 pm. We filed it last week.

We were asked to make various picks and predictions. In the end, we didn’t have time to do all of them on air, so I figure might as well reveal all my picks here.

  • Best Scandal – David Garrett, noting all the others were basically about MPs expenses
  • Best of 2010 – the fact the Canterbury Earthquake happened at 4 am
  • Worst of 2010 – the Pike River tragedy
  • Best Govt action – the tax package that got rid of the loopholes, increased the incentives for people to save, plus finally killed off Michael Cullen’s envy tax
  • Worst Govt action – doing a deal with Labour to bring back the Electoral Finance Act
  • Best Opposition action – was tempted to say not rolling Phil Goff, but I’d pick David Cunliffe’s speech where he promoted public-private partnerships and the potential for private sector investment in new subsidiaries of SOEs. I thought that was a significant step away from demonising the private sector.
  • Worst Opposition action – voting unanimously to give Gerry Brownlee the power to suspend or repeal around 2,000 laws if they proved inconvenient.
  • Best Backbencher – Te Ururoa Flavell – an absolute workhorse for the Maori Party, growing in stature and the next male co-leader
  • Best Maverick – the entire ACT Caucus, whom I likened to the Adamms Family, which prompted Heather Roy to proclaim she had never been a Goth :-)
  • Best Rising Star – my local MP Grant Robertson, whom I predicted was the next Labour Pirime Minister
  • Biggest Loser: Chris Carter, mainly for the incompetence of delivering hsi own secret letter to the press gallery with his handwriting on the envelopes
  • Biggest Waste of Space: Ashraf Choudhary, the invisible man
  • Biggest Surprise: Shane Jones, for not knowing that you can get free pronography on the Internet, so no need to use the hotel service
  • Best Minister: Tony Ryall – got unamious parliamenbtary support for his structural improvements
  • Who should be dropped from the list: Rajen Prasad who was ranked No 12 in 2008 – a lot normally reserved for superstars. Also near invisible
  • Biggest events in 2011: Botany by-election, May budget, September Rugby World Cup
  • Biggest issues in 2011: Economy, wages, jobs, welfare reform, savings policy
  • 2011 campaign: A fairly short campaign after the Rugby World Cup and a fairly disinterested population

On the show, you’ll also get the picks and predictions from Bomber Bradbury, TVNZ’s Jess Mutch and Mark Unsworth. Was my first time on the panel, and enjoyed it greatly even though my voice was rather squeeky from the press gallery party the night before.

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Backbenches tonight

December 16th, 2010 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

A reminder that the final episode of Backbenches for 2010 is being filmed tonight. It will air next Wednesday.

The episode starts filimg at 8 pm. Come along for a year end drink if you are free. The show is a year in review with Bomber Bradbury from Tumeke/Citizen A, Jess Mutch from TVNZ, myself and Mark Unsworth on the panel.

Find out who our picks are for:

  • Best backbencher
  • Best maverick
  • Best rising star
  • Biggest loser
  • Biggest waste of space
  • Biggest surprise
  • Best Minister
  • Who should be dropped from the list

Plus we’ll talk about the best and worst of 2010 and what to look out for in 2011.


Backbenchers Year in Review

December 10th, 2010 at 12:05 pm by David Farrar

On Thu 16 Dec, Backbenches are filming their 2010 year in review program. It is at 8 pm, instead of the normal 9 pm, as it will show the following Wednesday.

Instead of it being four MPs, the panel will consist of four commentators – Bomber Bradbury from Tumeke/Citizen A, Jess Mutch from TVNZ, myself and Mark Unsworth.

The first segment will be the best and worst scandals of 2010. There are so many to choose from!

The second segment will be the best and worst generally from the Government and the Opposition.

And in the third segment we rate the MPs – the best backbencher, the best maverick, best rising star, biggest loser, biggest waste of space, biggest surprise best minister and who should be dropped from the list.

And finally we will look ahead to 2011 – the biggest events, biggest issues, and biggest contests as we see them.

Should be lots of fun, and some good diversity of views. Come along if you are in Wellington, and free.

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Age no barrier!

October 21st, 2010 at 6:22 am by David Farrar

At Backbenchers last night there was a discussion on lifting the retirement age from 65 to 67. They asked one table how many years off retirement they are. One girl said 46 years so I guess she was 19. Then they asked the more elderly gentleman how many years from retirement he was, and he responded that as he was 89 I guess I am already retired.

A round of applause for him, as people impressed that at 89 years old you’re coming to the pub, having a beer and watching Backbenchers.

At the end of the night he came up to me when he left and said how much he enjoys the blog, and reads it pretty much every day. Pretty thrilled to get such cool feedback, and meet what may be KB’s oldest reader.

It got me wondering. Who is the oldest and the youngest reader of Kiwiblog? If you are over 89 or under 18 feel free to state your age – either in comments – or if you are shy, by e-mail.

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Backbenches tonight

June 2nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm by David Farrar

TONIGHT ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests go head to head over the week’s hottest topics!

HADEN FUMBLES: Rugby World Cup Ambassador Andy Haden keeps his role despite being under fire for describing the Crusaders recruitment policies as, “Once they’ve recruited three, that’s it. That’s their ceiling. Three darkies-no more.” Do we have a problem with race? Are we a racist nation? Apparently, Helen Clark thinks so according to actor, Sir Ian McKellen. How much further do we need to go for equality?

TOOTH ACHES: Trips to the Dentist can cause more pain in the pocket than in the mouth. Do we ignore our oral health? Is going to the dentist too expensive? Is it time for the Government to provide assistance for dental care for adults, too? And do we need to make sure all of our water is Fluoridated?

WHALE TALES: Peter Bethune is on trial in Japan accused of charges related to the incident between his powerboat, the Ady Gil, and a Japanese Whaling ship. And on Wednesday, Greenpeace is delivering a petition to Parliament in support of Saving the Whales. What should be our official position be on Whaling? And can the Government do anything to help Peter Bethune in his defence?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 2ND of June. Our Panel: ACT MP John Boscawen, Progressive Party Leader Jim Anderton, Labour MP David Shearer, and National MP Nicky Wagner.

We film LIVE so come to the Backbenchers Pub across the street from Parliament from 7:30pm to be part of the discussion or tune into TVNZ 7 at 9:10pm to watch the programme. TVNZ 7 is now available on Freeviewch. 7) or on the SKY Platform (ch. 97). Or you can watch online at TVNZ.CO.NZ/BACK-BENCHES (


Backbenches on alcohol

April 27th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Backbenches this week will be discussing the Palmer report and issues such as the drinking age.

Come along before it is illegal, or the tax gets hiked 50%!

Wednesday at 9 pm in the Backbencher or on TVNZ 7.

MPs are:

  • David Bennett, National
  • Carmel Sepuloni, Labour
  • Sue Kedgeley, Greens

Backbenches in Dunedin

April 13th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The live-to-air pub politics TV show is heading to Dunners for a Dunedin special.

WHEN: April 14, Wednesday night at 9.10 pm ( come around 8-30)

WHERE: The Robbie 374 George St, Dunedin


The Mayor and other guests in the audience..come for a beer!


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