Nasty Rudman

October 18th, 2013 at 12:15 pm by David Farrar

A foul column in the NZ Herald by Brian Rudman on John Slater.  It is just paragraphs of name calling and taunting. What a sad day for journalism.

People can have legitimate views on Cam Slater and his blogging style. But to attack John as a way to getting at Cameron is sad.

Cameron doesn’t take direction from anyone. Not his Dad. Not me. Definitely not National. Not his friends. Even Cactus Kate has limited persuasive success with Cameron. Cameron does what he thinks is right. You can love him or loathe him for it, but to use him to attack his father is pathetic.

On the topic of Brian Rudman, it is worth contrasting his steadfast defence of Len Brown with his pilloring of Richard Worth.

Rudman even complains that the Worth complainants didn’t go to the media!

 

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Ballot paper order

September 24th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Having failed to get elected in two earlier campaigns, the candidate previously known as Cheryl Talamaivao has wisely rethought her tactics. But deciding to elevate her position on the ballot paper by tacking her great-grandfather’s surname in front of her own may turn out to be something of an own goal in her bid for election to the Henderson-Massey Local Board.

As Brown-Talamaivao, she is now number six on the ballot paper, instead of the second-to-last at number 27 she would have been as plain Talamaivao. But the experts, in what in Australia is referred to as the “donkey vote” advantage, reckon that being second to bottom is a good place to be, and argue that candidates at the tail end of a long list of contenders share a similar advantage to those at the beginning, over the poor suckers stranded in the middle. …

The unfair advantage, in particular to those at the top of the ballot paper, is well studied and proven. The Local Government Commission examined the outcome of the 2007 New Zealand local elections and found that those listed alphabetically at the top of the ballot papers and candidate profile booklets “were up to 4 per cent more likely to be elected than those whose names were later in the alphabet”. Names like Anae, Brown, Brewer, Casey and Coney.

The commission also noted “a significant bias in favour of candidates in the left column of voting documents”.

A similar effect was found in an analysis of the 2010 Greater London local elections by City University researchers. After examining the fate of 5000 candidates, they found that “ballot position did indeed strongly influence the number of votes received by candidates”. There was evidence that “the strength of this effect is sufficient to overcome voter preference for party …”

I strongly support random ordering on ballot papers, and note that the online voting option to be trialed in 2016 may allow random ordering also, which would be beneficial.

Sadly far too many of our local body elections are not truly informed democratic votes. We need more wards, with fewer candidates per ward. I’d have every ward as a single Councillor ward so people are voting for just one Mayor and one Councillor.

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Will Rudman apologise?

July 3rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald is not having a good week. Not only do they run a sob story from a Green Party candidate, without revealing his affiliation – they also had Brian Rudman got it entirely wrong regarding Maggie Barry and the City Rail Link.

Rudman wrote on Monday:

I’m guessing that North Shore National MP Maggie Barry will have experienced a true “Oh bugger” moment when she first heard of her leader’s shock u-turn in favour of building the Auckland City rail link.

In her shoes, who wouldn’t have? Contemplating your own demise has a way of concentrating the mind.

I bet she’s wishing she’d observed the advice of a long-time National PM, Sir Keith Holyoake, who advised new MPs to breathe through their noses for their first term. In other words, the way to avoid terminal embarrassment is to keep your lips zipped until you learn the rules.

But in the sweet euphoria of post election victory, back in November 2011, playing dumb was the last thing on Ms Barry’s mind. She told her local paper to pass on the message to Auckland Mayor Len Brown that there would be a CBD rail link before a new harbour crossing “over our dead bodies”.

The only problem for Rudman is Barry was speaking about a rail link between the airport and the CBD, not the City Rail Link – which is an entirely different project.

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This follow up story in the North Shore Times makes it clear Maggie was referring to the airport-CBD rail project. With regards to the CBD rail loop, she said:

Basically I support the City Rail Link, but only if the business case ultimately stacks up.

Now it is possible Rudman never saw the follow up story. I guess too much too hope for that he would check. But will he now do a retraction with the same prominence as his original column, or will there be some grudging clarification which no one will see?

Maggie commented on Facebook:

During the 30 years I was a Radio and television news presenter and as a senior feature writer for the Listener, I never really expected the same rigorous standards of fact checking from populist columnists as I did from professional journalists. Some columnists are the print mediums version of shock jocks who opine and shamelessly push their own politically biased agendas and don’t much like the facts to get in the way of their stance. Mondays column wasn’t an example of Brian’s finest work but maybe when you’ve been in the job for a long time you think you can get away with tossing off any old purple prose to fill your word allocation. While Brian no doubt had a lovely time dreaming up punishments for a crime I didn’t commit, I take the future vision of Auckland’s transport more seriously than that and judging from the universally positive feedback to the PM’s announcement from my constituents, so does the North Shore electorate. No dead bodies on my side of the political divide Brian.

The decent thing for the Herald to do would be to give Maggie a full right of reply, with the same prominence as Rudman’s article. But many media hate admitting they got it wrong, so I won’t hold my breath.

Does anyone who gets the print edition of the Herald know if they have done a follow up on the Max Coyle story, informing people he is a Green candidate? And there was their housing story that featured the Labour Party vice-president who posed as a house buyer and just happened to say all her problems would be fixed by Labour’s policies. Never saw any follow up to that one either. No wonder fewer people trust the media.

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Rudman confirms media campaign against Government

February 27th, 2013 at 1:25 pm by David Farrar

What an admission from Brian Rudman in the NZ Herald:

With job lay-offs, unaffordable housing and a call for better public transport, Labour should be making inroads.

Despite the best efforts of Opposition politicians, single-issue campaigners and me and my colleagues in the media, most Kiwis seem resolutely unconvinced that this country is heading for hell in a handcart.

A stunning admission by Rudman. Not a huge surprise that he admits to trying to convince people the country is heading for “hell in a handcut” as Rudman is well known as a left wing columnist. But his inclusion of  his colleagues in the media speaks volumes.

They see their role to convince New Zealanders that their country is fucked, with the implication being unless of course they change the Government.

Will the NZ Herald let Rudman’s comments stand that the role of his media colleagues has been to use their best efforts convince people the country is damned?

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Rudman on Brown

January 21st, 2011 at 11:43 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman mocks Len Brown’s list of achievements, and tells him to focus on buses:

Mayor Len Brown’s curse is self-inflicted – a rash promise before his coronation last November to within 100 days unveil 100 projects he would complete.

“We will see things really fly,” he promised.

With less than 20 days to go, Mayor Len’s immediate problem is not so much getting things airborne, it’s struggling to come up with bright ideas to launch.

This week, he and his retinue managed to scrape together a list of just 52. And many of those belonged in the “got up,” “brushed my teeth” category.

Claiming credit for setting up various advisory panels required by law is rather cringe-making.

So is “recommending the budget”, “monthly town hall meetings”, “regular engagement with local boards” and “spatial plan initiative”, all nuts-and-bolts functions that were going to happen regardless. …

Of course he’s not the first politician to bathe in the glory of tasks initiated by his predecessors. But few are quite as bare-faced as this.

With 48 to go and desperation setting in, what next? No 53: Sun Rises

I can’t wait for the full list of 100 to be published. Maybe once he has, then Len will focus on the important issues and forget the PR stuff for a while.

My suggestion to Mr Brown is that before ordering new ferries for Takapuna or musing about the wonders of the new electric train services, he should, as his first priority, sort out the workhorses of Auckland public transport, the buses.

As Josh Arbury in his Auckland transport blog reminds us, 49 million of the trips on Auckland public transport this year will be on buses, and if the mayor wants to hit his 2021 target, that’s where the main growth will have to occur.

He also notes how little bus patronage has increased this decade, up from 45 million trips in 2002 to 49 million this year.

Why is that? For me, the biggest turn-off is lack of punctuality.

Waiting for the missing bus is a killer. You can’t even fill in the time reading a book for fear that when the bus does appear it will speed past unless you’re kerbside, waving your arms like a windmill.

I always look at the public transport systems of overseas cities when staying in them, to see how well they work and why. Punctuality is an absolute must. Ideally you don’t even want route timetables – you want a train or bus to be frequent enough that you know you will never have more than say a 10 – 15 minute wait.

As important is integrated and electronic ticketing. No cash Everyone just swipes in and off.

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Rudman on electoral fraud

September 13th, 2010 at 10:22 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Just as you think the Super City elections can’t get any duller, two of the mayoral candidates engage in a shadow cock fight on a stage on the North Shore, then it’s revealed that 87 Indian-sounding voters are registered at two modest-sized Papatoetoe homes.

For all four candidates it’s a potential calamity. Unless those behind this apparent manipulation of the democratic process are unmasked before voting papers go out, a shadow of suspicion hangs over all four.

I agree, those behind this must be unmasked. If the Police talk to the 87 enrollees, I am sure a number of them will confirm who told them to register at that address, and why.

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I agree with Rudman

August 26th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

The Local Government Commission agrees there is a problem. In its July 2008 review of the Local Electoral Act, the commission acknowledged that its analysis of the 2007 elections “did show that the order of candidates on the voting document had an impact on election outcomes.

“Candidates whose names were early in the alphabet (and therefore early in the candidates’ profiles booklet) and early on alphabetically ordered voting documents were up to 4 per cent more likely to be elected than those whose names were later in the alphabet.”

It also found “there was a significant bias in favour of candidates in the left column of voting documents when there was more than one column of candidates”.

But the commissioners called for more research, concluding “a definitive solution to this issue is unlikely”. When I checked this week, no more research had been done.

With modern systems of printing, randomising ballot papers is not a difficult task. If it helps eliminate bias in the election process then surely it should be adopted.

Random ordered ballots would be a problem in the general election, as votes are counted manually. But for local body elections which use barcode scanners, they would be fairly simple to do, and it will help reduce bias based on surname.

Either that or scrap the lengthy lists that cause the problem and create more single-member, locally based, wards.

I tend to favour single-member wards also. I think most people can choose one name from say half a dozen or so. But they struggle with choosing 3 out of 15, let alone 7 out of 30. It becomes almost a random selection at that stage.

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Auckland legal battles

April 23rd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

The glass tower lawyers who dine off the battles between Auckland local bodies might soon find themselves short of spare cash for restocking their wine cellars.

As the day of the great forced marriage between the reluctant eight councils looms, the unthinkable is happening. The councils are trying to resolve all outstanding disputes between one another before they plight their troth on November 1.

For however acrimonious the fight has been, the combatants accept how ridiculous it’s going to look in the Environment Court on November 2 if the QC for the Auckland Council has to stand up and tell the judge he’s now acting for both sides in Auckland Regional Council versus Auckland City Council on, for example, wastewater discharge from “party central” on Queens Wharf.

That’s certainly a benefit to have less lawsuits where ratepayers fund both sides. So how many are there? One ? Three? Five?

Last September, in recognition of the revolution to come, the eight chief executives agreed to “accelerate the resolution of appeals between councils”.

At the time there were 287 outstanding appeals and related actions either between councils alone, or involving a third party.

By November the number of disputes had risen to 355, though it rapidly settled back to a figure of 311, where it now stands.

The good news, I guess, is that as of April 6, 35 actions had been settled and another 194 had reached the stage of officer agreement.

355!!!

Some law firms are going to go into receivership.

That left 47 cases where the officers cannot agree – down from a peak of 122 in November – and another 35 where further investigation is required.

Officers are now considering which appeals are too hard to resolve and should be rushed to the Environment Court before November 1.

All heart, the Environment Court has offered to schedule additional appeals to help speed the process.

Of course from the ratepayers’ point of view, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the unresolved issues were just carried over to the new Super City organisation to be resolved in-house. The savings in legal bills would be substantial. Just how big, I haven’t been able to track down, though one insider says the ARC legal bill alone for such cases is hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

At least I would say.

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Rudman on Easter

April 7th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The best reason I heard over Easter for repealing the shop trading restrictions, is it would deprive Newmarket Business Association CEO Cameron Brewer of a media opportunity!

In Wellington, the restrictions have little impact. Cafes are open. Restaurants are open. You can go to the movies. Lots of food on sale at dairies and garages. Bars are open. It is only a few retailers that are affected, and a bunch of them just open anyway and see the $1,000 fine as a cost of doing business.

Anyway Brian Rudman points out the silliness of the current laws:

On Good Friday and Easter Sunday it was perfectly legal for me to drive across town to the Royal Easter Show, gorge myself ill on candyfloss, and gamble away my money on such so-called games of skill as “Pluck a Duck” and “Flip a Frog”.

But woe betide the supermarket which dared open its doors to sell me a toilet – or bread – roll.

Once again we’ve been through the time that transcends all understanding, the annual Easter trading laws fiasco.

The two days a year when a weekend market on Wellington’s harbourside can open, but a farmers’ market in Hamilton is threatened with a fine of up to $1000 for each stall that opens.

A time when Parnell and Queenstown shops could open, but not their competitors in neighbouring Newmarket and Wanaka.

The law is a mess as it does not in fact help staff have an Easter break with their families, because Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are normal trading days.

And bizarrely if you do work Easter Sunday, it is not a public holiday, so you get paid nothing extra.

The status quo is in fact quite anti-worker. The unions resist any changes mainly because in some regards they are very conservative beats, that resist most changes.

Here’s what I would propose to get same sane laws over Easter:

  1. Declare all four days to be public holidays – Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Ester Day and Easter Monday.
  2. Law states no employee (except essential services) can be forced to work any of the four Easter days.
  3. No restrictions on any store opening
  4. If a store does not open, Any staff normally rostered on for those days of the week, get paid a normal days wages – as for all other public holidays
  5. If a store does open, staff who choose to work get penal rates (generally time and a half) and a day in lieu

This proposal is extremely generous to employees. It gives them two extra days of public holidays, gives them the right to choose to work on all four days (as the moment they have no choice if a store opens), and gives then public holiday pay rates on all four Easter days.

An employee who chooses to work on the four Easter days, would get effectively paid for 10 days – two weeks of income for four days work.

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Rudman on Labour selections

February 3rd, 2010 at 8:43 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

The Labour Party’s announcement on Monday that it had received only one nomination to be its candidate in each of four former Labour seats is a reminder of how different politics has become under MMP.

Auckland Central, Maungakiekie, Ohariu and West Coast-Tasman are seats with strong and historic Labour roots that have, in the past, seen fiercely contested nomination battles.

None are presently held by Labour.

Before MMP, that would have been an added incentive for young hopefuls and dumped MPs alike to battle to the death to carry the party banner.

The problem is that the Head Office has such a dominant say, that if they make it clear they want no contest as they have hand picked a List MP, there is little chance of a grass roots member going up against them.

Auckland Central certainly was a battleground seat in the past.

A traditional Labour seat, it became the battlefield when Labour split asunder during the battles of Rogernomics, In 1993, after a six-year tussle, sitting MP Richard Prebble was voted out of office by the city’s richest per capita electorate in favour of leftwing Alliance candidate Sandra Lee. At the height of the contest, both candidates had about 800 active campaigners apiece. This was local participation, pre-MMP, in all its glory.

That Labour can now only come up with one contender for nomination shows how much things have changed. …

For local party organisations, regardless of party, the one real power they have – or had – was to dig their toes in regarding candidate selection. Head office organisations could bully and cajole and in the end, by fair means or foul, usually get their way. Determined locals could make the going very sticky. But these days they’ve lost their power.

And Rudman quotes the famous Jordan Carter blog:

A recent entry on a Labour Party blog by party activist and 2008 Hunua candidate Jordan Carter headed “What must Labour do?” canvasses the issue every defeated party must face up to. Labour, he says, stopped listening to the people.

To turn this around, Labour has “to invite people in to join with us and help shape what we are doing next … We need to be the party that people see as grassroots-based, and where they know that if they want to raise an issue or a concern, it will filter through to what our policy is and what our politicians are saying and thinking”. …

But if Mr Carter is correct, then it’s hard to see the rubber-stamping of candidates in four “battleground seats” as a good step towards recapturing either the public imagination or the enthusiasm of party workers expected to fight to get the candidates elected.

Thinking more about it, another reason there was no internal contest is because Labour held the selection so early. Very few people, except existing MPs, can afford to be campaigning for two full years.

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Minor correction

November 11th, 2009 at 6:59 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman says:

As a Pakeha New Zealander, I have long disliked the way Mr Harawira labels us as white mother molesters, but I’m bemused why Hone has suddenly become a pariah.

The latest Marae-DigiPoll survey ranked him as Maoridom’s most popular politician.

Love him or loathe him, Pakeha New Zealand will continue to have to live with him and the views that obviously make him so popular among Maori-roll voters.

Hone is obviously popular in his electorate, having won it twice. But Rudman is wrong saying the Marae0DIgipoll ranked him Maoridom’s most popular politician.

The poll results say:

Currently, there are 16 MPs in Parliament with Maori ancestry. Of those MPs, which one do you favour most?”

Pita Sharples   31.9%
Tariana Turia   16.7%
Hone Harawira  8.2%
Te Ururoa Flavell  3.3%
Parekura Horomia  3.2%

So Hone is not the most popular by a long shot. He is at one quarter that of Sharples and one half Turia.

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Rudman waters down the hysteria

November 10th, 2009 at 3:21 pm by David Farrar

At times Phil Twyford reminds me of Chicken Little. He runs about a lot claiming the sky is falling in over the Auckland Super City. Absolutely everything is to do with privatisation. I think he’d call more money for Libraries as privatisation, as Libraries buy books from the private sector!

Anyway Brian Rudman has an interesting column today, which waters down some of the hysteria from Twyford. Rudman is from the left also, but isn’t a politician. Rudman writes:

Also dumped was a proposal to amend the Local Government Act to permit “divestment of council [water and wastewater] supplies to the private sector”. The Cabinet decided instead on a minor change, extending the time limit on any contract a council made with a private water supplier or operator, from the present maximum of 15 years to 35 years.

Mr Hide received another bloodied nose over his proposals on the expansion of Watercare Services into the sole provider of all drinking and wastewater services to the new Auckland Super City.

He wanted to scrap legislative requirements that Watercare pay no dividend and that it “manage its business efficiently with a view to maintaining prices for water and wastewater services at the minimum levels.”

He argued to the Cabinet that “the Auckland Council, as the sole shareholder, will be best placed to direct Watercare, through its constitution and statement of intent, in how water and wastewater services are to be priced to achieve its broader objectives.”

His “sleepy” Cabinet colleagues managed to stay awake long enough to vote both of these proposals down.

Now some of you, like me, might actually have wished Rodney got more of his proposals through.

The point of the post though is to highlight the gay between Twyford’s hysteria and the reality. Rudman continues:

The Government’s attempt to keep the money we pay in our water bills going on water services is commendable.

People more savvy on these matters than me also say the prohibition on dividends and profit-taking will be a dampener on any foreigner contemplating a bid on this $5 billion asset. That’s if it ever gets to that, and only extremists on the edges of the Act Party and water campaigners who enjoy scaring themselves to sleep each night, seem to think this is a possibility.

Scaring themselves to sleep and boring everyone else to sleep I think.

Sure, the Cabinet has endorsed Mr Hides’ proposal that come 2015, the Auckland Council should be allowed “to determine … the governance arrangements and asset ownership for the delivery of water services.” I’m relaxed about this. While I see no reason to even bring the issue up in 2015, if the UMR poll, Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford is waving about is accurate, it’s a non-issue. The poll shows 85 per cent of Aucklander oppose privatisation of their water assets.

Mr Hide’s argument is that once the new Auckland council is bedded in, it should be allowed to decide on issues such as the governance of asset holdings in Watercare.

At least Wellington is letting us have a say for once. We should treat that as a breakthrough and a precedent, not a threat.

Phil constantly advocates that Wellington should be running Auckland more.

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Rudman on MMP

September 9th, 2009 at 9:36 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Having lost the battle to skew the new Auckland council voting system to their advantage, the rich white business establishment is now turning its guns on MMP, the proportional voting system, which since 1993, has made Parliament a true House of Representatives.

What nonsense. I just love it when people invent mythical conspiracies as part of what appears to be rampant paranoia.

It was the Labour appointed Royal Commission which proposed at large seats for the Auckland Council. Now I was one of those who did not support the at large seats, but to try and paint it as some cunning plan of rich white businessman is moronic. The motivations behind having at large seats were spelt out in detail by the Royal Commission.

Going along with it, seemingly with some reluctance, is Prime Minister John Key, saying he is honouring an election commitment made last year.

But given National has already broken its key election promise to hand out $4 billion in personal tax cuts over the next three years, it’s a bit late to start pleading principle.

And more stupidity. The global recession destroyed billions of dollars of wealth in New Zealand, and turned projected surpluses into a projected permanent deficit. Hence there was a rational and logical reason not to proceed with tax cuts as promised (and the majority of voters have accepted that).

But again it is pathetic and puerile to suggest that because economic conditions forced a change to fiscal policy, this means that every single promise made at the election should be jettisoned – even in non-economic areas such as electoral.

Rudman would no doubt be the loudest complainer if National did start breaking more promises.

Supporters of MMP (and I would today choose MMP over FPP) should concentrate their efforts on the merits of MMP, not weird conspiracy theories expressing surprise that there will be a referendum when one was promised.

Personally I would like to see a supporter of MMP honestly acknowledge that it is not perfect, and that the power it gave to Winston Peters (which was well beyond his share of the vote) wasn’t conducive to good Government.

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They are not your trees Brian

September 4th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

So tell me again, and slowly: we have a Government that in one breath is trying to find a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions, yet in the next is fast-tracking a law declaring open season on every urban tree in the land.

Now you read that and you would think Rudman is talking about great swathes of urban forests  under threat. The Government is going to let developers destroy the Wellington Town Belt etc.

Alas the true story is far less exciting. What he Government is doing is allowing home owners to trim or chop down the trees they own on their private land. And even then, it is not absolute. They are merely saying that Councils have to have a valid reason to list individual trees as warranting protection, rather than list entire classes of trees.

So what this means is a homeowner will be able to chop down one of their own trees, or trim it, should they wish to do so. The thought this have any impact on carbon emissions is pathetically hysterical. We’re not talking hectares of forests here, but generally individual trees being trimmed or replaced.

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At large Councillors may be gone

August 28th, 2009 at 6:33 am by David Farrar

Bernard Orsman reports:

The Government has dropped a controversial plan to have councillors elected at large on the Auckland Super City.

This follows widespread opposition to the proposal for eight at-large councillors and 12 ward councillors on the Super Auckland Council.

The Royal Commission actually proposed 10 at-large Councillors and only 10 ward councillors. The at large proposal is well motivated. The idea was that these Councillors would put the region ahead of their ward.

But I have blogged consistently against the at large since the Commission proposed them, and am glad they have been dropped. I don’t think you would have got sensible voting if Aucklanders were having to choose 8 or 10 at large Councillors for a possible pool of 40 to 50.

It is understood the Government is considering a halfway house with six urban wards, each with three councillors elected within the ward at large. There would also be two rural wards for Franklin and Rodney with one councillor each.

My preference would be for the wards to elect one Councillor each. This keeps the wards small, and increases the chance that you will know something about the Councillors you vote for, rather than just go off name recognition.

In fact ideally I would have the wards mirror the parliamentary districts.

Brian Rudman agrees with me that smaller wards is preferable to six multi-member wards. That’s almost enough to make me reconsider my position :-)

Rudman proposes STV be used to stop winner takes all in the wards. Now initially I think it is appropriate the elections be FPP as that is what almost all the fomer Auckland Councils used. The Local Electoral Act makes it a decision for local voters via referendum if they wish to move from FPP to STV or vice-versa.

My experience of STV in local body elections is that I think it works well for single vacancies. In other words it is good for voting for the Mayor as you usually know enough about the Mayoral candidates to sensibly rank them.

For multi-member vacancies like DHBs, it is a nightmare. Ranking 32 people in order is near impossible to do sensibly. If Auckland goes with single member wards, STV would work well. With multi-member wards, my concern is that too many candidates will stand to make ranking them a sensible exercise.

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Rudman on Auckland Council and Labour

July 6th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Leftie Brian Rudman does not seem too happy with Labour on the Auckland Council:

Every time I hear someone advocating a referendum I cringe. Surely the $9 million anti-smacking charade is evidence enough that asking the great unwashed to say yes or no to a complex, many-faceted conundrum is a dumb way to go.

In recent weeks we’ve had Labour leader Phil Goff demanding a referendum on the Auckland Super City, and now Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford, is introducing legislation requiring a referendum before any publicly owned community assets are sold. But, oddly, only when Auckland assets are at risk.

Yes Labour should have the courage of their convictions and try and implement that policy for all of New Zealand. They would have an uprising from local bodies telling them to naff off.

“Aucklanders are worried,” explains Mr Twyford, “that assets such as water, transport and many others, which ratepayers have built up over generations, are now under threat from the Government’s changes to Auckland governance.”

Perhaps I’ve been snoozing of late, but the only Aucklanders I’m aware of who worry themselves to sleep about such things are professionals hand-wringers like intrepid water rights campaigner Penny Bright and a few old-style lefties who keep Roger Douglas voodoo dolls on their mantelpieces to remind them of the bad old days.

Indeed. But let us follow Labour’s logic here. They say a decision to sell an asset is so monumental there must be a public referendum on that. Well if we accept that logic, then you should also demand that the purchase of any major asset be illegal unless the public get to vote on it through a referendum. It is illogical to require public consent only for sales, and not for purchases.

I’d almost be tempted to vote for a bill that required consent both ways. The public I am sure would shoot down some of the more daft spending proposals by Council. I suspect Mr Twyford is less keen though on letting the public have a say in purchase or construction of assets.

Referendums are expensive, and easily manipulated. In his Super City poll, what question is Mr Goff proposing? How do you decide such crucial details as the powers of the local boards by referendum? The issue of asset sales is slightly more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Back in 2007, I saw nothing wrong with selling Auckland City’s 12.75 per cent of airport shares, as long as the cash was spent on new infrastructure, something like the restoration of the St James Theatre, or repairs to the Aotea underground carpark. But I backed full public ownership of the port because I saw that as a way of ensuring future waterfront developments would be done for the good of all Aucklanders.

It’s impossible to reflect these kinds of nuances in a referendum. What we need to concentrate on is creating a truly democratic, ward-based model of governance, in which every Aucklander feels represented. That way the perception that referendums were a good thing would fade away.

The referendum bill is basically scare mongering. Labour are deeply disappointed that the Government isn’t selling lots of assets (as am I but for different reasons), so they are trying to make people think it is just around the corner.

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Has Rudman outed Complainant A?

June 10th, 2009 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman wrote in the Herald:

One was a married woman who had stood unsuccessfully for selection as a candidate for Labour Party nomination in last year’s election

Now that narrows it down massively from activist to candidate nominee, and makes it pretty easy for someone to use Google to make an educated guess.

Note I will delete comments that mention the likely name – or any name.

Incidentally, this makes it even worse for Richard Worth – if he was hitting on not just a Labour Party activist, but an actual candidate – that is damn reckless.

UPDATE: It is actually the combination of Goff’s comments on her appearance, and Rudmans column that makes identifying her fairly simple. So Phil has helped out her!

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Bulldozers and the by-election

May 6th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald’ Rudman Column is titled:

Brian Rudman: Bulldoze and Nats blow byelection

This may be true but I would much rather the Government doesn’t pick up a seat off Labour (that it doesn’t need anyway) than spend $3 billion on a tunnel.

I also think the Government will pick up support nationally for not caving into pork barrel politics for the by-election and putting the national interest ahead of buying local votes.

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Rudman warns Labour could lose Mt Albert

March 27th, 2009 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman looks at Mt Albert:

For an aspiring career politician, especially one tipped for greater things, an electorate seat is a necessary accessory. It gives you a certain freedom that being a mere list MP doesn’t.

This is very right. When MMP came in, some people thought everyone would want to be a List MP as it would be less work.  But the security you gain from holding an electorate seat is massive. It gives you an official role in the local community and almost all List MPs would like to hold an electorate.

That’s why up-and-coming first term Labour list MP Phil Twyford is so keen to take over from departing Mt Albert MP and former Prime Minister Helen Clark. …

But jeerings from the sideline by right-wing bloggers and their mates about the downstream consequences of Mr Twyford being selected, seems to have got the Labour leadership all a-twitter.

Those bastards. How dare they point out consequences. Shoot them all!

They want him to bide his time and take on Auckland Central in 2011, or dare I suggest, Mt Roskill, perhaps, whenever Mr Goff bows out.

Is Mr Rudman suggesting there might be a vacancy in that seat for 2011 also?

The bright side for Mr Twyford if he stands aside is that he might be well out of it. With Ms Clark gone, Labour could lose, just as it lost neighbouring Auckland Central a few months before.

Last November, the incumbent Prime Minster on 20,157 vote easily beat her National Party rival, Baptist minister Ravi Musuku, on 9806.

But this included a huge personal vote, with 16.5 per cent of National list voters ticking her as their MP.

The party vote was much closer, Labour leading National by 2436.

This is true.  However to pour a bit of damp water on this gap, one should also look at what the Greens and ACT got, because in a by-election their voters will probably vote tactically. The Greens got 3,846 party votes and ACT 1,227 so if you look CL to CR that gap is actually around 5,000 votes.

The other imponderable is how long the John Key honeymoon will linger. With that in mind, Labour would be smart to delay Ms Clark’s resignation as long as possible.

That is the wildcard. What happens if the hugely popular Key actively campaigns in the seat?

As for timings, the speculation I have heard is Helen resigns in May and a by-election in June.

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Rudman gets it 100% wrong

February 11th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman gets it 100% wrong in today’s Herald column.

At least in the United States, the donors have to declare their contributions. The repeal of the Electoral Finance Act means that Alan Timothy Gibbs of Kaukapakapa will no longer have to declare $200,000 in donations to Act last year, nor will new Act list MP John Boscawen have to reveal he stumped up $100,000. Ditto the rich horse industry brothers Peter and Philip Vela, who gave last-minute donations of $100,000 to Labour and New Zealand First.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  The Government announced last year that the donation transparency provisions of the EFA would be retained in the Electoral Act. This has been confirmed on multiple occasions since, and is well known and understood. That is part of the reason why the repeal maybe backed by every MP in Parliament.

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