Agreeing with Rudman

June 15th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Sometimes it really is embarrassing to be a baby-boomer. We’re the generation that enjoyed free school milk, free university education and free healthcare, then, after sucking those teats dry, turned off the taps and told those following that the free ride was over.

Now, my fellow oldies sit back in their million dollar, debt-free homes, moaning about a piddling $15 for a transport swipe card which will give them free travel on Auckland’s buses, trains and ferries for the rest of their lives.

Ungrateful indeed.

Rudman calls for a bigger Auckland

March 7th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

In Monday’s Herald, Unitec urban design experts Dushko Bogunovich and Matthew Bradbury revisited their alternative approach.

Instead of squeezing apartment buildings on to parks and golf courses, felling mature trees and doubling the size of motorways, they proposed a linear city, stretching initially from Wellsford and Helensville to Pokeno and Orere Point and possibly further.

Not random sprawl, as some are clamouring for, but carefully planned growth as occurs in Europe, along a single transport corridor, serviced by high-capacity, high-frequency transit.

Professor Bogunovich has been submitting reports and papers along these lines for years – so far to deaf ears. But now the reality of trying to crowd 400,000 new homes on to the isthmus over the next 30 years, as many as possible into established suburbs, is starting to hit home, maybe his linear city’s time has come.

Destroying the enviable environment that keeps Auckland near the top of assorted world liveability charts, in pursuit of some planning goal, is a bit like the quip about the operation being a complete success, shame the patient died.

My view is that Auckland needs to build both out an up. Just doing one of them will lead to failure. The real challenge is to determine the right balance. Town planners seem to be focused on the vast majority being up instead of out.


More redundancies at the Herald?

September 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

It’s now understood that other senior staff at the NZ Herald being ‘consulted’ about the proposed plans to facilitate the creation of NZME’s “world-class integrated newsroom” (ie, more than likely being made redundant) also include Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon, feature writer Alan Perrot and columnist John Roughan.

They seem set to join veterans John Drinnan, Brian Rudman and Michele Hewitson (see below) on today’s casualty list.

Must be tough times for those at the Herald.

If John Drinnan goes, it will be a pity. As a writer who focuses on the media, I read all his columns religiously and often learn stuff I didn’t know. I didn’t agree with everything he wrote (of course) but found him far more balanced that Mediawatch on Radio NZ (which I also listen to always, but find it has such an anti-commercial flavour). He also engages regularly on Twitter, in a useful way.

I’ve never understood why anyone ever agrees to be interviewed by Michelle Hewitson, as she generally skewers them not so gently. But I almost without fail read her interviews as they can be insightful in a way few are.

Rudman’s views are always pretty predictable, but his focus on Auckland issues was good. We need more scrutiny of local government.

John Roughan writes far less than he used to, but I like his columns as he would often go against the prevailing mood, and argue something unpopular.

One NZ Herald staff member says, “It’s a bloodbath.” Another tells NBR that 30% of editorial staff are getting the chop. The number is unconfirmed, but would still mean editorial is getting off more lightly than sales where sources suggest that up to 40% of staff could receive their marching orders.

The print media commercial model is failing, and online media revenue is not in the same league. Eventually business models that work will come through, but until they do it’s a hard time for those in the media.

The Kelly van Gaalen case

August 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Our politicians will be very pleased with themselves. Judge John McDonald has done their bidding and last week jailed a Kaikohe mother of three, 33-year-old Kelly van Gaalen, for two years after police found a bucket of dried marijuana at her home.

The cops had turned up, not because the van Gaalen residence was a tinny house, but in response to a 111 cry for help from husband Jasper van Gaalen in the aftermath of a violent armed home invasion.

Three Kaikohe men were subsequently sent to prison for the attack, but the police also found 684g of dried marijuana in the house and two plants outside, and charged the couple with growing cannabis for supply.

Two years jail for 684 grams of cannabis is just insane. And what message does it send out to people that if you have a small amount of cannabis at your home, don’t call the Police when armed invaders are about to kill you – in case you get two years in jail.

The Northern Advocate reported Judge McDonald as saying there was no evidence of commercial use, but that Parliament had set the upper limit for possession for personal use at 28g, and “it is not for this court to comment whether that is a just law or not”.

He added that “to say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement”. That didn’t stop him from imposing a draconian punishment.

He said he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for similar offences. The blogosphere has been alive with examples showing how wrong this claim appears.

On June 27, for example, the Ashburton Guardian reported the case of an Israeli couple caught red-handed with 6kg of dried cannabis, and a sophisticated indoor growing operation at their residence. There was evidence of 54 plants and a master plant for propagation. Yet Judge Noel Welsh discharged them without conviction in return for a $2000 donation to the Salvation Army.

On July 4, Legalise Cannabis Party candidate in the recent Northland byelection Maki Herbert was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention after being found with 153 plants and convicted of cultivation for supply.


I’d expect a prison sentence as a last resort, not a first resort for a crime like this. Other Judges have shown discretion with sentencing, yet Judge McDonald did not.

Mrs van Gaalen has appealed against her sentence but rots away in Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, her application for bail denied, while her local community raises funds for her appeal.

I’m sure it will be over-turned on appeal. And she should be given bail until the appeal is held.

Mrs van Gaalen seems the living evidence. The recipient of one of Northland’s 15 Local Hero medals, she was chairwoman of the Kaikohe Community Arts Council, a member of the local Community Board and promotions manager for the Kaikohe Business Association.

In court, her business association boss, Steve Sangster, praised her achievements and the pride she had instilled in the town.

I hope she gets bail and gets the sentence reduced to something more appropriate.

Even Rudman is lashing the Councillors

June 25th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Tomorrow, for example, even though only seven of 20 councillors support the mayor’s proposed 10-year budget, it is likely to be adopted, because possibly five opponents will look the other way and abstain.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett calls this abstaining “a total nonsense” and “a breach of trust with ratepayers”, and I agree.

In a democracy, if the executive can’t get a majority to support its plans, the accepted course is for the rulers to go away and prepare a budget the majority will support.


The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has said:

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is pledging to hold to account those who support Len Brown’s proposed Auckland Council budget tomorrow, including those who allow it to pass by abstaining. The Alliance, which launched in April, has nearly ten thousand members and is growing every day.

Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, says:

“Make no mistake, this is a bottom line for our members and activists. Any councillor that votes for, or abstains tomorrow will be a target in the lead up to next year’s election.”

“We are now confident that the Ratepayers’ Alliance will have enough financial support to conduct a mailout to every Auckland household. We will ensure that all voters know who the guilty Councillors are. There will be billboards, radio ads and even ringtones naming those who allowed Len Brown to hike rates at 99 times the level of inflation.

“Those who fail to vote tomorrow to stop the Mayor’s rates hike will not get away with it.”

The 9.9% rates increase is just an an average. In some low income areas it is as high as 17%!!!

Rudman on the Mana Dotcom Alliance

June 5th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes in the Herald:

Which brings us back to Laila Harre, the newly appointed leader of the Internet Party, Mr Harawira, her Mana Party equal, Pam Corkery, the press officer, and the others who are poised to join the Dotcom-backed party. They are all proclaiming they will be unsullied by the $3 million that has brought them together. Yet I can’t help recalling a quote my colleague Fran O’Sullivan attributes to banker Michael Fay. He lived by the golden rule – “he who owns the gold, rules”. This is the same Michael Fay, remember, who reportedly contributed up to $2 million into Labour Party coffers before the 1987 election in gratitude for the Rogernomics reforms of the previous three years.

In that case, the money came after the deed. We’re now expected to believe that Mr Dotcom won’t want anything in return for his $3 million except a party that pushes for, among other things, internet freedom. Other than that, he will let his new-found socialist partners get on with building their social justice dream with his money.

Yet nothing I’ve read about Mr Dotcom conjures up visions of Gandhi. What does come to mind are his promises to get even with the Prime Minister. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a good show of what he’s made of. He’s been the star witness in the trial of 2010 Auckland mayoral candidate John Banks for not declaring the $50,000 donation Mr Dotcom gave him. Their once cosy relations split asunder when Mr Banks failed to rush to Mt Eden prison with a soft mattress after the police raid that whetted Mr Dotcom’s interest in New Zealand politics.

This is a key point. He vowed to destroy John Banks, when John Banks didn’t help him out after he got a $50,000 donation.

He’s put $4 million into the Internet Party. That 80 times $50,000. And Laila, Hone, John and Annette all think there are no strings attached. All he wants in Internet for everyone and socialism implemented universally.

Now on bail, he’s invested $3 million in the upcoming election as the long fight by the American law enforcement agencies to extradite him drags on.

This could well carry on until next year. By then, all going to plan, the Internet-Mana coalition will be part of a leftish coalition government. Once the courts have decided whether the extradition can go ahead, it is up to the Justice Minister to make the final call. A government possibly propped up by his people.

Exactly. If they extradite him – they lose his funding. Let him stay, and I guarantee you they’ll get $4 million for the next election also!

Rudman on Cunliffe

May 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes in the Herald:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has tried just about everything to put a dent in the Government’s poll ratings without success. He’s now dipping into Winston Peters’ murky bag of tricks and started pointing the finger at migrants as the cause of our woes.

He wants to cut back from projected migration levels of over 40,000 in “total flows” to the “zone of between 5000 and 15,000”.

He wants “enough new migrants to fill our skill gaps but not so many that it overwhelms our housing market or the ability of our schools and our hospitals to cope”. In the case of hospitals, he seems to be forgetting that without migrants as staff at all levels, they would gradually grind to a halt.

At least he’s stopping short of the New Zealand First proposal that migrants spend their first five years in purgatory in Wanganui or Ruatoria or some other remote outpost before being allowed into the big smoke of Auckland, where most migrants want to live.

Labour’s vote is so low, they’re now trying to steal votes off Winston. Hey, I’m in favour if it knocks Winston below 5%!

To his credit, Mr Key has resisted the mob, telling 3 News that “New Zealand is a country that has been built on migration. We’ve done very well out of it and I think we should be very cautious about taking knee-jerk steps”.

Praise for Key from Rudman – very rare.

Virginia Chong, the president of the New Zealand Chinese Association, calls Labour’s policy “scaremongering”, pointing out the obvious that the answer to rising house prices is to build more homes.

Yep, and for that you need more land available for housing as land is the biggest component of house prices.

Without migrants, our hospitals, about which Mr Cunliffe frets, would be so short of staff, there’d be patient queues stretching around the Auckland Domain. The All Blacks wouldn’t be world champions, and my favourite band, the Auckland Philharmonia, would be but a pale shadow of its present self. And goodness knows where we’d dine out.

And the level of migration is pretty much unchanged from when Cunliffe was Immigration Minister. In fact fewer residency visas are being granted. The big change is fewer Kiwis are leaving, more Kiwis are returning home and more Aussies are wanting to live and work here.

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!


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.

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.



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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.