Numbers or Results?

May 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

As readers may have seen, Hone Harawira spat on the floor in response to National’s food in schools announcement. His criticism was that not enough money is being spent on it.

This is something you often see from the left. They measure how much you care by how much taxpayers money you are willing to spend on something.

Hone’s bill was proposing food in schools in decile 1 and 2 schools only. The Govt has actually announced it for deciles 3 and 4 also – yet Hone spits on the floor at it, merely because taxpayers are not spending enough money on it.

The same fixation with numbers we see with Danyl at the Dim-Post. He declares the reason MPI made an error with China export certificates is because they have fewer staff.

We went through all this back in the 1990s. Turns out a lot of those back-office public servants – who National loves to sack by the thousand on the grounds that they don’t actually do anything, approximately one hundred and fifty of whom were let go during the MPI merger – do genuinely do some things, like check export certificates.

Danyl is convinced that the quality of the public service is determined by its size. If you care about the public service, you hire more staff. This is a core faith on the left.

I’d be interested in a shred of proof that the mistake made by MPI was anything to do with fewer staff. A belief that more staff means no errors, is like believing in God – can’t prove or disprove.

Regular surveys by the State Services Commission have shown that satisfaction with public services is increasing – despite fewer staff.

And no one has ever said that staff made redundant don’t actually do anything. That’s an insult to them. You don’t make staff redundant because they do nothing. You sack them, if they do nothing. Staff get made redundant because employers have to live within their means, and can sometimes operate in different ways with fewer staff. Sometimes fewer staff will mean a reduction in quality, but not always. Judging quality on number of staff is bonkers.

I worked for an NGO that made around half the staff redundant. We thought it would be a disaster, and fought against it. in fact we discovered that some staff roles actually ended up creating un-necessary work for other staff, and in some ways things worked better with fewer staff.

The belief that you show how much you care by spending more money or hiring more staff, is fatally flawed. What is important is outcomes, not inputs.

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Silly comparison

May 22nd, 2013 at 6:49 am by David Farrar

Danyl at Dim-Post looks at the share price of Fletchers over the last month after Nick Smith 10 days ago announced an inquiry into the cost of building materials. As the price has dropped Danyl says:

According to the Steven Joyce/Fran O’Sullivan theory of political sharemarket vandalism, Nick Smith has ‘destroyed’ about $260 million dollars worth of wealth in the last ten days. I look forward to their columns/press releases warning of capital flight, skies raining blood etc.

This is one of Danyl’s more silly comparisons. In his world I guess there are no shades of grey. An inquiry into high prices is the same as a unilateral announcement with no consultation that the Government is going to dismantle the competitive market and set prices.

Let’s look at what Nick Smith actually said:

Housing Minister, Nick Smith, speaking on “The Nation” said there was significant concern that items “the likes Batts, likes of Gib and concrete” were more expensive than what they were in Australia.

Batts and Gib are Fletcher’s brands and the company is a major concrete supplier.

But Mr Smith denied the Government was singling Fletcher’s out.

“We need in a very thorough way not on the basis of rumour or speculation, on the basis of really good analysis and information, to have a hard look at how the building materials’ market is working and to ensure that there are the competitive pressures that are there,” 

“In terms of tariffs and those things, you know New Zealand has a pretty liberal regime for bringing products in, but are there other barriers? 

For instance, we have a Body Standards New Zealand that sets the standard, and sometimes I’m concerned that the industry groups have too much influence over those standards, that are then effectively adopted by councils and do not allow product from overseas to be able to give Kiwis real choice about those products.”

Mr Smith said his inquiry was going to look what regulatory tools that the government had at its fingertips, that could try and get building materials costs more reasonable for the industry. 

So no mention or even hint of price controls. In fact the announcement seems focused on increasing competition in the market, and reducing regulatory costs. And also note that these products are just a few of many produced by Fletchers.

This is hardly in the same universe as what Greens and Labour did with Contact Energy and the 13 other generators. They have been attacking Contact for a couple of years, claiming (falsely) their prices are higher than the SOEs. Contact has only one product – electricity, and their announcement was that if elected they will unilaterallly determine the price Contact can sell electricity at in the future. This is the Government deciding the price for the sole product Contact produces. It is not about increasing competition, but removing it all together. It is in fact a de facto nationalisation as if the Government gets to set the price you charge for your sole product, they effectively own your company.

So as I say, the comparison is beyond silly.

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A bizarre argument

May 1st, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl Mc at Dim Post blogged:

I’ve just watched the Q & A section on the Labour-Greens power policy, in which Susan Wood agonised over the massive financial destruction the announcement visited on all the ordinary New Zealanders who have investments in KiwiSaver (and, indirectly, in the Cullen Fund and ACC), so have lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the last week because of the massive market crash.

This is a talking point the government’s shills have been throwing around all week – Hooton claimed the total loss was in the ‘billions’ on National Radio – so I thought I’d take a look and see how the NXZ has actually been performing recently. The red line is April 18th, the day Labour and the Greens launched their announcement.

The graph is

nzxapril

 

I’m amazed Danyl is trying to argue that as the overall sharemarket is up, then the destruction of value in some companies doesn’t matter.

To use an analogy, it is like someone going into your street and burning your house down, but then telling you not to complain about it because the value of the rest of the street has risen.

Yes the NZX is up.That is because global investors are buying shares in Xero like it is the next Google. Now that is great for Xero shareholders like myself. It isn’t much use however to the person who only has shares in Contact Energy.

Having said that there seems to be a growing consensus that the Greens and Labour policy will never be implemented, even if they win the election. NBR reports:

The Woodward report makes no calculation for the impact of the Labour-Greens policy on MRP’s profits, but considers “the likelihood of occurrence to be low”, in part because the policy would be complex to implement and likely to face court challenges.

I think they are correct. At the end of the day I just don’t think the Government can effectively nationalise 14 power companies.

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Dim Post thinks this might be a real ad

July 14th, 2012 at 1:41 pm by David Farrar

Danyl at Dim Post blogs:

The question is: is this a real ad, or a satire? Seems too extreme to be real – although dawn-raids era National was an overtly racist party. But were they this overt? If this was real wouldn’t it have entered into notoriety, along with the dancing cossacks ad? Wouldn’t we have heard about it before?

On the other hand, the nation was a lot more regional back then. It’s not impossible that this was an ad in a regional publication put out by a rural MP that nobody ever noticed until now.

Anyone who thinks this ever could have been a real National advertisement is somewhat detached from reality. I think it says more about them, and how desperately they’d want it to be true.

Jack Marshall was National Leader in 1972. He was known as Gentleman Jack for a reason – well known for his being non-confrontational and not liking aggressive politics. Marshall also was an opponent of the Springbok Tour, so this little smear campaign poster is very misplaced.

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Amusing reverse psycho analysis

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

Danyl Mc tweeted today:

So I’m guessing your polls now have soft-National voters leaning towards the Greens?

Danyl is not the only one convinced that my choice of topics is driven by “polls”, especially those secret ones only a few people know about.

Presumably this is because I blogged today whacking at the Greens on fracking and also on a climate change scandal overseas.

Now the reality is I decide what to blog basically when I read a news item, or if someone brings something to my attention by way of blog comment, twitter or e-mail. I don’t have a library or inventory of stories held in reserve, which I release based on what the polls are indicating.

And a simple check would show that the fracking story only appeared in the media today, and the climate change story was alerted to me today via a comment in a blog thread.

But even if one puts that to one side, what I find equally fascinating is that Danyl and others think that I have a belief that me blogging something can actually drive swinging National voters away from the Greens. As if a couple of extra blog posts from me of fracking will suddenly push the Greens down 2% in the next round of polls. I’d love to have such power, but the reality is the impact from blogging is modest.

My choice of topics in a day generally receives about as much thought or pre-consideration as deciding whether to stand up or sit down at the toilet. I don’t think about it much except when I am up against the deadline!

Sometimes there will be themes to what I blog, and they are pretty obvious. I obviously campaigned against the Electoral Finance Act, campaign for a republic, for VSM, for keeping the alcohol purchase age 18 etc. I’m starting to campaign on the foreign crewed fishing vessels issue, and will keep blogging on that when there is material to do so.

But to those who think my choice of blogging topics is influenced by secret polls, well I’ll probably never convince you otherwise because you are of course certain you are right and have the ability to read my mind. To be honest, I don’t want to convince you. It is far more amusing to sit back and consider how much time you spend on trying to psycho-analyse my choice of topics, and what you think that means the polls are showing.

 

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A gentle fisking

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

Danyl at Dim-Post blogs:

Last time I looked, smart-phone penetration in New Zealand was around about the 5% mark. But I guess Key’s kids and all his staffers have them, so that’s everyone in the world of the Sun King.

This was in response to this comment from the PM:

“It really doesn’t matter if there is a street frontage there … We are living in an age where kids have iPads and smartphones. That’s the modern generation … and they actually don’t want to walk in, for the most part, and be in a very long queue and be waiting for a long time.”

So is Danyl right that only 5% of Kiwis have a smart phone, basically John Key’s kids and staffers?

The World Internet Project New Zealand disagrees, and hey as they actually surveyed 1,255 random New Zealanders, I tend to go with their numbers, being:

Usage of smartphones and other handheld wireless devices has grown apace, from 7% of Internet users in the 2007 sample, to 18% in 2009 and 27% in 2011. This is clearly a strong trend that will continue into the future.

So not really 5% and just some staffers and kids then, and hasn’t been for the last five years. Note that WIPNZ found 86% of NZers aged 12 or older are Internet users, so the smart phone penetration rate for all over 12s would be 23%. Also note the survey was six months ago.

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Pagani v Dim on economic growth

January 13th, 2012 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani (Labour candidate for Rangitikei) has an op ed in the Herald where she says:

We were seen as looking backwards, not forwards. We didn’t sound aspirational, we sounded miserable. We were turning up on people’s doorsteps telling them their lives were gloomy. And anyone who has ever been poor knows the last thing you want is someone telling you your life is crap.

The hardest week to door-knock was when we were telling people – who had just come home from a day’s work earning the minimum wage – that it was a great idea to extend their Working for Families tax credit to beneficiaries. “So what’s the point of working my guts out all week while someone sitting at home on the dole gets the same tax credit as me?”

Indeed. Their worst policy of 2011.

There’s a reason we’re called “Labour”: We have always represented people who work. If you work hard you should earn enough to pay the bills, save a bit and enjoy the holidays with your family. If you have a great idea to build a business and work really hard, a Labour government will back you to be world class. It’s not just about dividing the economic pie fairly, it’s about increasing the size of the pie so everyone can get their piece.

Pretty sensible stuff. But Danyl at Dim Post says:

Growing the pie. David Shearer used the same cliche in his first speech to Parliament. Here’s my question: why are Labour still using ACT Party rhetoric about the panacea of economic growth, when all our economic statistics, social indicators and lived experience over the past thirty years tell us that the benefits of ‘growing the pie’ now aggregate to a  small number of high-net worth individuals? The rest of us stay where we are, or go backwards. …

For a few years during the mid 2000s it felt like we were going forwards – but that was just a bubble fueled by overseas debt. During this time Helen Clark constantly resorted to the tired old Kennedy/Sorenson trope that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. But this just isn’t an accurate way to think about economic growth. It may, eventually lift general living standards over a long period of time, but it always involves an element of ‘creative destruction’.

Danyl joins the ranks of left wing bloggers giving David Shearer appalling advice.

We had a party in New Zealand that used to say what Danyl said. They said economic growth is not as good as people make it out to be. They said we should not grow the pie as this exploits limited resources. They were the Green Party and tended to get 5% to 6% of the vote.

Then in 2011 they dropped the socialist dogma, and started talking about green growth, and how a vote for the Greens is a vote to get richer (implying more growth). And they broke through 10% for the first time.

Danyl thinks arguing in favour of economic growth is National/ACT dogma. It also happens to be the dogma of basically every major centre-left party in the developed world, plus pretty much all of Asia except North Korea and maybe Burma.

So my advice to David Shearer is not to start campaigning against economic growth. Well not unless he wants to beat Phil Goff’s 85 year low in the vote for Labour.

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Dim-Post on retrospective legislation

September 22nd, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Heh, another excellent piece of satire by Danyl:

Prime Minister John Key has called for other political parties to throw their support behind another controversial change to the legal system. The National Party will introduce a new bill this week that will update section 171 of the the Crimes Act. As with the changes to the laws around covert police video surveillance, the Prime Minister insists that the bill be passed under urgency and apply retrospectively.

The bill updates the manslaughter section of the Crimes Act of 1961, in which the current definition of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ will be redefined to exempt senior public servants who accidentally asphyxiate sex-workers at departmental parties. …

The law will be retrospectively applied back to December 17th 2010, the date of last years Crown Law Office Christmas function. ‘The Solicitor-General has specified this date as the key target for maintaining the integrity and dignity of the New Zealand justice system,’ Key explained, adding, ‘Go the All Blacks!’ …

The ACT Party has agreed to support the bill to the first stage of select committee, on the understanding that the exemption be further widened. Under the draft ACT bill it will be legal to accidentally run over a teenage baby-sitter fleeing in terror from a private property, so long as that property has a rateable value in excess of one million dollars. …

Labour leader Phil Goff has yet to form a position on the legislation, but explained that he also supported the All Blacks, a comment that has drawn intense criticism from political commentators and raised fresh doubts about Goff’s ability to lead Labour into the election.

I laughed seeing today a press release announcing the Greens were against the law change. I don’t think anyone ever thought they would be in favour of it, even if not under urgency!

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A King/Mallard leadership?

August 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl McL at Dim-Post quotes IrishBill from The Standard:

I’ve heard rumours that there will be a Mallard/King deputy/leader ticket bid shortly after the election. If that’s true then god help the Labour party.

Danyl comments:

See, I have this optimistic view of the medium-term future, in which Labour is defeated in November, there’s a leadership coup and a new post-Clark leader, and the majority of their front bench announces their collective retirement to make way for the next generation of MPs, and that this rejuvenated party is voted into power in 2014.

But there’s an equally plausible alternative in which Labour spends the next ten to twelve years shuffling different combinations of Clark-era former Ministers around in various leadership teams (‘Mallard-King didn’t work? Let’s try Mallard-Street! No? Then how about Dyson-Cosgrove!’) while National sleep-walks through one election after another, campaigning on and then implementing a steadily more right-wing policy agenda.

It could only get better if they bring Benson-Pope back out of retirement!

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Classic Dim Post

July 30th, 2011 at 12:12 pm by David Farrar

Danyl blogs:

Senior government Minister and key National Party campaign strategist Steven Joyce will be spotted to the Labour Party for the election campaign, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The surprise announcement comes after weeks of dire polling for the Labour Party, compounded by a series of public relations fiascos. Joyce is regarded as Key’s closest advisor, and National’s strategic mastermind.

‘This will make the 2011 General Election a fair fight instead of a somewhat undemocratic cake-walk,’ Key said in his Beehive Press Conference. He added that came to the decision after speaking with Joyce, who ‘loves a challenge.’

Heh.

Joyce will work closely with senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who is currently running Labour’s election campaign. Joyce has insisted that the two men will work together as equals.

‘Trevor’s role will be crucial to our success’ Joyce announced in a joint press conference with Labour leader Phil Goff. ‘In light of recent information security problems, Trevor will safeguard our campaign strategy documents in a tent on the Auckland Islands.’

The Auckland’s are an unpopulated sub-Antarctic island group with no phone or internet access. ‘Everything depends on this,’ Joyce insisted, as Mallard’s tiny orange dinghy sailed out from Invercargill into fearsome three meter swells.

Well they will be safer there, than backing them up to the webserver.

In the interests of party balance, Labour has traded Joyce for Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, and she’s believed to be behind the Prime Minister’s shock announcement that he will conduct the remainder of his campaign in virtual reality environment Second Life, and prefix every single word he speaks with the letter ‘i’.

The Prime Minister’s fairy-winger avatar commented on the new strategy when he addressed an online press conference of goblins, virtual journalists and the National Party Cosplay Association this afternoon.

‘iI imay ihave imade a ihuge imistake,’ Key said.

I love the phrase “the Prime Minister’s fairy-winger avatar” :-)

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Singapore

May 20th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl at Dim-Post has blogged on Singapore. His argument is:

Singapore is the darling of free-market, right-wing parties. Which is strange, because Singapore is the world’s ultimate nanny-state: not just culturally in the sense that the government controls the media and all forms of entertainment, but in the sense that it’s essentially a massive socialist state in which the government micro-manages the whole economy.

Danyl gives four examples which I want to discuss and partially rebut. Danyl is correct that Singapore is no libertarian pure capitalist society. But neither do I think it is a massiviely socialist state.

The right likes Singapore because they enjoy a low corporate tax rate. It’s currently at 17%. Pretty low. In New Zealand it’s 28%. But in Singapore the government owns the Ports of Singapore, the busiest port in the world, which is the key income earner for the entire economy. Our economy could be ‘like Singapore’ if we nationalised Fonterra and all of our dairy farms, because this would provide a revenue stream comparable to that of Singapore’s port. Then we could have a really low corporate tax rate and finance the government through the revenue from its capital assets, like they do.

Danyl way over-states the importance of the port to the Government’s books. The port has a Net Profit After Tax of S$1.2b – around 2% of total Government revenue, and 0.5% of GDP.

Even Temasek Holdings overall has a mere $4.6b NPAT. Have a look at the NZ SOEs combined NPAT and they are not an order of magnitude different.

Danyl has a point that the Government has a diverse revenue base, beyond taxation. But he overlooks how massively low the tax rates are. he mentions the 17% corporate tax rate but neglected to mention that personal tax rates are even lower. If you earn S$100,000 your tax is only $5,650, so under 6%. Yes 6%!! I’d effing allow the Government to own a couple of ports if it meant my tax rate was 6%.

Singapore also has low income taxes. But Singapore ALSO has a compulsory savings scheme in which you pay 20% of your income into a private savings account, and your employers are compelled to pay 15%. This pays for your healthcare and retirement. It’s not a tax in the technical sense in that you don’t pay it to the government – but you can classify it as such for net income purposes, and if you do then taxation in Singapore is higher than it is for the majority of New Zealanders.

Danyl misses the point entirely here. The money you have to pay into a compulsory savings scheme remains your money!! This is not the Government taking money off you to spend on everyone else. This is forcing you to save to pay for your own health costs, retirements costs etc. This is absolutely what many on the right want. The difference in incentives is absolutely everything. Having 35% of my salary go into my private savings is not at all a disincentive to working. It is the opposite – the more I work and earn the more I get to have to cover my health and retirement costs.

Next right-wing canard: there’s no welfare in Singapore, therefore unemployment is very low. Welfare in Singapore is pretty basic. And unemployment IS low. There are a few reasons for this: the state pays employers a retention bonus not to lay people off. And if someone does lose their job they go into a mandatory job-placement and re-training scheme. And if overall unemployment increases then the government launches a new development and soaks up the jobless. There isn’t a lot of free-market magic operating in there – it’s all intensive micro-management by the state.

Again Danyl misses the point here. It is about culture. It is shameful to rely on others before your own family. THe retention bonus not to lay people off was a temporary thing, and the level of state invovlement is not that major. Danyl overlooks that in NZ we had 200,000+ people on welfare even when unemployment was the lowest in the world. I’d take the Singapore system over the NZ system anyday.

There’s a lot of other non-free market aspects to Singapore’s economy – like the fact that almost all business and residential property is owned by the state, either directly or via its sovereign wealth fund, or that you have to pay the state about $16,000 for a permit to buy a car, and then a daily congestion tax to use it.

Here Danyl is on stronger ground. The permit to buy a car is bizarre. The congestion tax though is just sensible user pays. But the overall point is that the Singapore Government is not a pure free market Government. Absolutely.

But let me tell you I’d take their economic “bad” with their economic “good” anyday. And if we did, we’d be a lot better off.

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Hilarious

May 14th, 2011 at 9:25 am by David Farrar

Danyl at Dim-Post has found a second letter from Don Brash to John Key:

It is with a heavy heart that I withdraw my membership, not only of the National Party, as I explained in my previous letter, but also from the National Party Social Bowling Club of which I have been a proud member for twenty-three years.

I do not take this decision lightly and I have made it after observing, with mounting alarm, your lack of commitment to the activity of bowling.

When I had the privilege to serve as President of the Social Bowling Club and you were my treasurer, I railed against the inefficiency of the sport as I saw it. Despite repeated attempts to destroy the little pins at the end of the lane with our heavy balls, there was never any reduction in the total amount of pins. We spent many hours knocking them down but the next time the Club met there they all were again, standing upright just as before, presumably placed there by some malign, unseen state agency.

I gave many speeches, John – which you endorsed – calling for the cessation of bowling using balls, arguing for the deployment of hand grenades and fragile crystal globes filled with acid. Have you forgotten those plans?

And he continues:

The things I discovered shocked me. I learned, and reported back to you, that the pins we knocked down during each game were the SAME PINS EVERY TIME. Concealed at the back of the lane was a large, complicated mechanical apparatus that picked them up and set them standing again! I was literally sick with terror and disgust! All our previous efforts had been for naught!

I appraised you of these facts, John, but your response to them staggers me. You have not disconnected this equipment, as I advised. You have not smashed the pins with heavy mallets, even though, as we now know to our terrible cost, their total number is small, no more than a few dozen at best, and they could easily be annihilated. Instead I have looked on with uncomprehending horror as, under your leadership, National MPs now bowl from the start of the lane instead of standing directly above the pins and hurling the balls at them as was practise during my presidency.

Superb satire.

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Quote of the Day

May 1st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl at Dim-Post:

Sometimes I just want to strap the entire spectrum of left-wing politicians into dentists chairs and patiently explain to them – using chisels and barbed wire – that most the state’s wealth comes from ordinary people working hard and then giving a huge chunk of their income to the government, so spending it is a sacred trust not an endless opportunity to squander it all on gimmicks and whims and political stunts.

This is in relation to the $500,000 to be wasted on a by-election.

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Danyl gets it wrong

April 26th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Been meaning to comment on this post by Danyl at Dim Post for a while, as I would hate anyone to think Danyl is actually correct with his assertion than I regularly con and play journalists – something insulting to me as much as to them. First of all let’s take the article which prompted his post – a profile of Grant Robertson in the Herald quoting me saying:

Kiwiblogger and right-wing commentator David Farrar believes Robertson will be at the forefront of a leadership challenge within the next two terms . . .

Now in Danyl’s world, my comments were part of a cunning plot by National to undermine Phil Goff, and not my honest belief. He should have checked the timing of when I made the comments, and what I actually said.

When Phil Goff did his reshuffle in early Feb I said:

The Robertson move is the best part of the reshuffle. Tony Ryall will have a more challenging time with Grant against him. Health is traditionally a strong area for Labour, and the fact they have performed so dismally in this area has to change, for them to be competitive. It also marks the high regard Robertson is held in, to get it in just two years. He is a future Labour Prime Minister in my opinion.

The next day I blogged:

I’ve long said that I think Grant will become Labour Leader, and indeed probably even a Labour Prime Minister.

I don’t think he will be the next leader, but the one after that. He is young enough to be able to wait his time.

So my initial blogs were praising Goff for Robertson’s promotion, and explicitly saying that I do not think he will be the next leader but maybe the one after that.  Several times I have said that I do not think Grant would be a contender until after 2014 election.

It was shortly after that the Herald rang me as they were doing a profile on Grant, and wanted my comments on why I rate him. Now this was in early to mid February – weeks before the Darren Hughes affair occured and before there was any talk at all of a challenge to Goff.

So Danyl has it 100% wrong when he insinuates that my comments were designed to undermine Goff, and that I conned Derek into running them. Goff’s leadership was not an issue when I made my comments and further more I explicitly said that Grant would not be the next leader.

This is unless Danyl thinks I knew in advance that Darren Hughes would go home with an 18 year old who would flee naked from his home, and that Goff would take no action over it, hence creating leadership speculation.

The other thing Danyl doesn’t realise is that far from my praise of Grant being a cunning National Party plot, it generally results in a flurry of angry phone calls and e-mails from National Party people. I am a member of Wellington Central National Party, a former campaign chair for the seat, and a mate of the just selected candidate. Let me assure you that local Nats get very unhappy when I say good things about Grant. And so do a few Nats at 1 Molesworth Street.

Danyl’s fantasy of this all being some cunning plan of the 9th floor is hilarious, if he could tap my phone. I get some seriously pissed off people calling.

The only thing that makes up for the hostility my comments on Grant’s abilities generate for me from Nats, is the knowledge that they probably generate equally hostile comments to Grant from his Labour activists :-)

So having dealt with the specific, let’s turn to the more general:

Describing DPF as  ‘Kiwiblogger and right-wing commentator’ is an improvement on outlets like TV3 and NewsTalkZB that just describe him as ‘blogger and commentator’ but it does elide his most significant role in the political process namely that he’s THE NATIONAL PARTY POLLSTER. Quoting him in a story about an opposition MP is a little like citing ‘former TVNZ journalist Fran Mold’ or ‘astute political observer Kevin Taylor’. (There is a slight difference, in that they’re directly employed by their parties, while DPF is the director of a company that the National Party contracts.)

I have disclosed on my blog my extensive background with National, and this is pretty well known. But that does not mean I am an uncritical supporter or obliged to say things only helpful to National. I compare it to sports. National is the team I support, and I want my team to win. But that doesn’t mean I won’t criticise the coach, captan and players when they stuff up. And it doesn’t mean I won’t praise other teams when they perform well.

As for the fact that National may have a relationship with Curia. Well off hand I would say that most of the organisations Curia has done work for, I have also criticised at some stage on my blog. Any relationship Curia has with National didn’t stop me doing the post the week before last criticising the Government on use of urgency. That post resulted in numerous critical news stories, and a NZ Herald editorial. I also did around five radio and one TV interview repeating my views.

Yes it is difficult criticising people or organisations you have relationships with. But it is hardly something new to me. In my roles with InternetNZ I had a good working relationship with David Cunliffe who was ICT Minister. And in the last few weeks I’ve actually had a number of meetings with Labour, Green and ACT MPs, where I’ve encouraged them to pressure the Government to make some changes to its telecommunications legislation. Again, it doesn’t always generate undying gratitude from within National.

DPF is the most successful at getting journalists to accept him as an independent and trustworthy commentator, presumably because he’s so genial and likeable and, unassuming.

I don’t believe journalists ask me for comment because I am genial or likeable (and many would dispute that). I assume it it because I give intelligent analysis, and am willing to praise the “other team” and criticise my own team.

Danyl seems to think my blog was invented by National as a cunning social media tool. In fact I’ve been debating politics online since 1996 – because I enjoy it. I did this through Usenet from 1996 to 2003 and then discovered blogs and after gettign addicted to reading them set up my own. This was not done at the request of National, or even with their support, permission or knowledge. I just did it. And in fact in its first year of operations, there was at least one caucus meeting where a number of National MPs complained about things I said on it and asked if the then leadership could stop me blogging.

No one likes to think they’ve been played by the penguin, even though he repeatedly plays many political journalists for suckers on a regular basis.

Again I find this really insulting (apart from Danyl trying to emulate Trevor Mallard with use of an insulting nickname) - to both sides. He presumably think all the journalists except his wife are really stupid, and that I  not only know they are stupid but take advantage of their stupidity to con and play them. That is not how I regard journalists, and Danyl is attributing motives quite maliciously.

It is very very rarely that I will ring a journalist up to push a story – maybe once every six months if even that. And if journalists ring me up, I give them my opinion. Absolutely that is from someone with a pro-National world-view, but that is known.

At the risk of being immodest, I would suggest the reason some journalists do call me and ask for my views and analysis, is because I used to talk candidly to them in the days before blogging. I was never a press secretary but during my eight years in Parliament I had strong relationships with many in the gallery – and I often chatted off the record to them on my take of how things are going. I wouldn’t betray professional confidences, but I would happily admit over a beer that National had terribly fucked up that week. I was rather proud of the fact that when then TVNZ Political Editor Linda Clark retired from the gallery, that I was the only 9th floor staffer to attend her farewell (as she was under a fatwa from the then PM). That was not because I was genial or likeable, but because I would never ever bullshit her and would always talk to her (even if sometimes all I could say is I can’t comment).

This seems a very lengthy and some would say “thou protest too much” response to Danyl’s blog post. And it possibly is. But Danyl is now the most read and I would say powerful left wing blog, so I respond to stuff he says which I wouldn’t on other blogs. Also it is useful to get this out there, so it can be referred to in future.

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CTU criticism

October 23rd, 2010 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

Brian Edwards blogs:

In the Campbell Live poll 90% of respondents thought Actors Equity was to blame for the Hobbit fiasco and 10% thought the film company was to blame. Even given the statistical unreliability of this sort of poll, that’s a resounding and deserved indictment of the appalling PR of Actors Equity, the CTU and in particular CTU president Helen Kelly. I have seldom seen groups so out of touch with public sentiment or so incapable of getting across the message they wanted to convey.

Danyl blogs at the Dim Post about the next CTU media campaign:

CTU launches charm offensive, desecrates grave of Sir Edmund Hillary

In the wake of sharp public criticism over its handling of contract negotiations around The Hobbit the Council of Trade Unions has launched a public relations campaign aimed at rehabilitating the organisation’s image. CTU President Helen Kelly has promised New Zealanders they will be ‘wowed’ by a series of industrial strikes planned to disrupt the rugby world cup next year and has violated the grave of revered mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary during a live press conference.

Heh this is of course Danyl’s normal satire. However he hits a bit close to the bone. Numerous Auckland industrial agreements have been timed to expire just before the Rugby World Cup. watch this space!

‘This shows the public that the union movement is about more than being a voice for working people, conducting fair and equitable negotiations between equal parties and destroying the capital owning parasites like Hillary and Jackson, and also Hayley Westenra who has it coming to her,’ Helen Kelly announced while digging, pausing to pose for cameras and spit on the grave.

‘Like most Kiwis we have nothing but contempt for Hillary and his achievements,’ Kelly said hitching up her skirt and squatting on Sir Edmund’s skeleton while onlookers and supporters cheered and sang We Shall not be Moved. ‘This sends a signal to the public that we share their values.’ …

‘Although Hillary did support the labour movement for many decades let us not forget that he also lived in Remuera,’ Kelly added, spray-painting a picture of a penis on the tombstone. ‘Fairness! Respect! Solidarity!’

Subsequent to the desecration Kelly and senior union delegates burned a huge pile of five dollar notes, which bear Sir Edmund’s image. According to a statement released by the union the bonfire was unrelated to the Hillary protest and is customary practise at CTU events.

This is again one of the ironies. Sir Peter Jackson could have made so much more money if he had moved to Hollywood. But it was is desire to create jobs for New Zealanders that has seen him remain here.

Also Lee at MWT highlights this comment made on the Dim Post:

“What kind of country do we live in if union bosses can’t meet at Matterhorn to decide the future of 22,000 people’s jobs over a few $42 Mains and some cocktails, without being harangued by smelly jobless proles?”

Actually I quite liked that Simon Whipp who featured in the video. I’m thinking he’d make a great candidate for Parliament – he should seek selection for a safe seat somewhere.

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$1 a week more

September 27th, 2010 at 3:50 pm by David Farrar

Bill Engligh writes:

Labour’s unfunded policy to remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables would deliver only $1 a week for the average Kiwi – and much less for low income earners, Finance Minister Bill English says.

The estimated $250 million cost of the new policy would have to be paid for by extra borrowing, pushing up already fast-rising public debt. …

The $250 million annual cost of the move, divided among all New Zealanders, is worth, on average, just over $1 a week – less for low income earners and more for high income earners.

“This puts the Government’s tax switch, which will leave the average income earner $15 a week better off, into perspective,” Mr English says.

But here is the real ripper:

“It’s also worth noting that fruit and vegetable prices have actually fallen by 11 per cent since National took office, having jumped 54 per cent under Labour.”

The removal of GST will have a relatively minor impact on overall fruit and vegetable prices and affordability, compared to normal price movements.

This is a point Danyl also makes at the Dim Post:

The real flaw with the policy is that its just a gimmick. I’ve written before about how the price difference between fruit and veges at the supermarket and the farmers market down the road is several hundred percent.

I predict that if Labour ever got to implement their policy, it would have next to zero effect on the uptake of fruit and vegetables.

Bill continues:

“Labour’s policy makes no sense and smacks of political desperation,” Mr English says. “Phil Goff must explain to New Zealanders why he is removing GST from imported, out-of-season raspberries and asparagus, but not from New Zealand frozen peas, which are a nutritious part of many Kiwi meals.

“People would be able to buy GST-free potatoes, take them home and make deep-fried chips. But at the same time, healthy foods like Weetbix, low-fat milk and wholegrain bread would be subject to GST.

Distinguishing between fresh and frozen vegetables is just the start of the stupidities that this policy would lead to.

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Narking to employers

September 2nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl blogs:

Just a warning to everyone commenting on this blog: I’ve recently been made aware that someone posting on one of the discussion threads using their real name has had a complaint made to their employer. The offending comments in question were (very mildly) critical of the Labour Party. The substance of the complaint is that they were made during work hours.

Classy, huh? So I prefer it if people use their real names when they comment on the blog – it makes for a more civilised and polite level of discussion. But in future if you want to criticise the developed world’s most worthless opposition party you might want to use a pseudonym, lest one of its supporters or staffers (who also read and comment extensively during work hours, going by the IP addresses) take umbrage and elect to put you in your place by threatening your employment.

This is not an isolated incident. A wee while ago someone complained to the State Services Commission about a centre-right blogger who works in a Govt ministry. Their boss had okayed them blogging (which pre-dated their job) so long as they avoided issues around that ministry, but they stopped blogging because no one really wants to risk the job. I have no doubt the intent of the complaint was to shut down the blogger.

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Goff’s Carter problem

August 4th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff says Chris Carter is not his problem any more and the caucus is moving on.

He disputes that the two months’ leave Mr Carter wants to take mean a ongoing cloud will hang over his leadership and says the issue is now behind him and he has his caucus’ support.

Oh dear. Maybe in fantasy land. After Phil demanded Carter be expelled from the party, the issue will remain live until the NZ Council do so. And I am unsure they will.

However, Mr Goff said it was not up to the whips because Mr Carter was no longer in Labour’s caucus.

“It’s got nothing to do with me. Chris Carter is not part of our caucus, he doesn’t need to apply for leave and I am not giving it or withholding it.”

Not that simple. He is still listed as a Labour Member of Parliament, and until someone writes to the Speaker to say he is not a Labour MP, then he is.

Prime Minister John Key said he doubted anything was wrong with the errant MP and it felt like an excuse.

“He didn’t look very sick to me last week, he looked fairly exercised about the fact that he didn’t think Phil Goff could win an election.”

I think it was unwise of the PM to offer an opinion, even though his observation is not an unreasonable one. When your opponents are in trouble, you are best to say nothing at all. It looks a bit cheap to put the boot in.

This is a bit out of character for the PM, and I like the Dim-Post’s theory on why this has happened, noting that Phil Goff has started to talk about how relaxed he is about things!

Mr Goff said he stood by his earlier comments that he expected nominations for Mr Carter’s Te Atatu seat to reopen and that he would not stay in the party long.

Words that may come back to haunt.

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Best caption contest this year

July 19th, 2010 at 12:47 pm by David Farrar

I’ve been banned from blogging it myself as a caption contest, but Danyl at Dim Post has done so. Enjoy.

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Dim Post on McCully and China

June 20th, 2010 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

Superb as usual:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has been severely reprimanded by Chinese Ambassador Zhang Limin for exercising poor judgement when using his Ministerial credit card, the Chinese Embassy announced today.

Previously Prime Minister John Key has defended McCully’s $2000 laundry bill and high alcohol expenditure but the Chinese Ambassador has overruled Key’s position, calling McCully’s spending ‘unseemly and non-magnificent’, and issuing a formal reprimand of the Foreign Minister.

‘We feel the Minister’s level of decadence is inappropriate and counter-revolutionary,’ the Ambassador announced. ‘This behaviour is not acceptable from Party functionaries and will not be tolerated.’

McCully has accepted the censure and thanked the Ambassador for his criticism. ‘Only through the wisdom of his Excellency can I reform my thoughts and become a better servant,’ McCully told reporters, speaking from a pool of mud outside his home where he has kneeled prostrate since receiving the rebuke yesterday. ‘I am chastened but also joyful and eternally grateful.’ …

… ‘We thank McCully for his good and faithful assistance in enlightening Dr Norman’s speech,’ the Ambassador said in his statement. ‘With great perseverance and skillful self-discipline the Snail will once again enjoy the favor of the Dragon.’

To ensure widespread coverage of the censure Chinese Embassy officials decreed that publication of the statement was mandatory for all media outlets. The Dim-Post is joyful to be of service in this matter.

I trust all blogs will comply with the mandatory reporting.

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Dim Post on Hodgson

June 16th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl is dangerous when bored:

Labour Party MP Pete Hodgson will be leaving Parliament to travel back in time and attack the reputation of Prime Minister John Key as a young boy, senior Labour sources announced today.

The Dunedin North MP plans to establish a new identity in the past where he can be close to the future Prime Minister – possibly as a teacher or friend of the Key family – and accumulate enough evidence to permanently damage Key’s reputation and preclude him from entering politics and becoming leader of the National Party.

‘We believe that as a ten year old child Key was involved in illegal currency speculation that badly damaged the New Zealand economy,’ Hodgson said. ‘We also have information suggesting that at about this time Key and his friend Derek shoplifted a pornographic magazine from a local dairy.’

‘I believe these crimes are related,’ Hodgson added. ‘My goal back in 1971 will be to piece together the evidence and present them to the New Zealand public. They will know that slippery John Key is not to be trusted even if the people of today will not. If I am successful the voters of 2008 will never even know Key’s name! How will you spin that Crosby/Textor?’

The Prime Minister refused to comment on Labour’s plan, saying only that he would be sad to see Mr Hodgson leave Parliament and adding that the Dunedin MP reminded him of an elderly man who lived next door to him as a child. ‘I don’t remember his name though,’ Key said.

Court records indicate a P Hidgson lived across the road from the Key family in Burnside during the early 1970s. He was later arrested in the United States attempting to blow up the headquarters of Merril Lynch in New York in 1981.

‘I often wondered what happened to that crafty old guy,’ Key chuckled. ‘He really had it in for me, always hatching some scheme to get me into trouble. When I think about it I wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t for that sense of cunning and strategy he cultivated in me as a boy.’

I almost hurt myself from the laughter reading this one.

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Dim-Post on Ministers credit cards

June 10th, 2010 at 10:03 am by David Farrar

This is a classic:

Lower Hutt based Countdown retail worker Richard Loa announced today that he was deeply embarrassed by revelations that he had been taking items from the store without paying for them.

Loa, a 41 year old checkout operator and frozen foods section assistant team leader came forward today to admit that over a period of four years working at the Wellington supermarket he had taken home bottles of wine, frozen chickens, vitamin pills and razor blades on a weekly basis.

‘I now accept that this was wrong and I apologise for it,’ Loa said. ‘In my defense the rules around whether or not I could smuggle out bottles of shampoo in my gym bag were vague and unclear.’

It is understood that Loa came forward after Countdown management announced that they had installed security cameras in the staff changing rooms. These showed footage of Loa eating two large boxes of Lindt chocolates valued at $44 while on breaks during a busy weekend shift.

‘That’s when I decided that coming clean and explaining everything was the right thing to do,’ Loa said, adding. ‘The chocolates were consumed while I was doing my job although I concede that the security footage is not a good look.’

‘I would have paid for the chocolates myself but I didn’t have any cash and it seemed more convenient at the time to stuff them under my shirt and eat them in the toilets,’ Loa explained.

Loa announced that he would repay the value of the chocolates and other items consumed but would not be stepping down from his position as frozen foods assistant team leader.

‘I’ve made a mistake and I’ve done the right thing and fronted up to it,’ Loa said. ‘I acknowledge that it’s not a good look but frozen food placement faces a lot of challenges and I have some exciting ideas on how to tackle them so I’d like to put this whole thing behind me and move on.’

This attitude is not shared by Loa’s employer Progressive Foodstuffs who have dismissed him without notice or by the New Zealand Police who have arrested Loa on five charges of theft.

The best paragraph is about how he would have paid but didn’t have any cash on him, so that makes it okay!

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A future we can all share in

April 27th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Danyl at Dim-Post has found this video, and correctly blogged he thought I would approve.

I agree it is a wonderful vision of the future, that we can aspire to.

I should pass on Danyl’s warning that it may not be work safe, and will offend some.

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Dim-Post on Daylight Saving

April 4th, 2010 at 8:25 pm by David Farrar

Danyl ponders on what would happen if a Government tried today to introduce daylight savingL

Setting my clocks back this morning had me thinking about what a great little trick daylight savings is for maximizing use of sunlight hours, but also how impossible it would be to bring in such a scheme today: Labour would launch a protest bus tour (‘Stop the Clock!’), the Business Round Table and CIS would insist that we had to set our clocks forward a thousand hours to catch up with Australia, Herald columnists would thunder about Wellington bureaucrats kidnapping the sun for an extra hour every night, the unions would strike for the right to set their clocks back two hours. The government would compromise and set clocks back five minutes for a week in mid-June.

I know its satire, but deep down you also know that some of it is true!

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The House of Lords

April 2nd, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dim-Post dug this up, and it is real, not satire:

March 3, 2010

Palace of Westminster: Pest Control Question

3.07 pm

Asked By Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

    To ask the Chairman of Committees what measures are being considered to improve pest control in the Lords’ part of the Palace of Westminster.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): My Lords, the administration is fully aware of the problem with mice in the Palace of Westminster and is taking all appropriate measures to minimise their numbers. We retain the services of an independent pest control consultant and a full-time pest controller. The current focus is on poisoning and trapping, blocking of mouse access points, and more frequent cleaning of bars and restaurants to remove food debris. This programme was intensified over the February Recess and fewer sightings of mice have been reported since.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: I thank the noble Lord for his reply. How many calls have there been to the mouse helpline? Has the accuracy of that information been checked, given that the staff report seeing mice on a daily basis at the moment in the eating areas? Has consideration been given to having hypoallergenic cats on the estate, given the history? Miss Wilson, when she was a resident superintendent in this Palace, had a cat that apparently caught up to 60 mice a night. The corpses were then swept up in the morning. Finally, does the noble Lord recognise the fire hazard that mice pose, because they eat through insulating cables? It would be a tragedy for this beautiful Palace to burn down for lack of a cat.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, there are a number of questions there. I cannot give an answer to the number of calls made to the mouse helpline-if that is its title. I suspect that it would not be a good use of resources to count them up. But I am well aware of the problem of mice, as I said in my Answer. It is something that we take seriously.

As for getting a cat, I answered a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, last week on this matter. I was not aware that such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat existed-I do not know whether our cat at home is one of those. There are a number of reasons why it is not a good idea to have cats. First, they would ingest mouse poison when eating poisoned mice, which would not be very nice for them, and there would be nothing to keep them where they are needed or stop them walking around the House on desks in offices or on tables in restaurants and bars-and maybe even in the Chamber itself. Therefore, we have ruled out at this stage the possibility of acquiring a cat, or cats.

Lord Bradshaw: I have spoken continually to the staff in the eating places in the House and I acknowledge that there has been some diminution in the number of mice around. But could I press the noble Lord, because further action needs to be taken? I know that this is an old building, but mice are still here and we are talking about places where food is served. I have no magic solution, but perhaps the consultant who is being employed might have some answers.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am well aware that there are still mice around. I saw one in the Bishops’ Bar only yesterday evening. I do not know whether it was the same one that I saw the day before or a different one; it is always difficult to tell the difference between the various mice that one sees. We believe that the problem is getting better. Cleaning is one of the measures we are taking, as I outlined in my original Answer. As I speak here this afternoon, the Bishops’ Bar and the Guest Room are being hoovered, so we can get rid of the food scraps from lunch. If you were a mouse, you would rather eat the crumbs of a smoked salmon sandwich than the bait. Therefore, we want to remove the crumbs as quickly as possible.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: Why should I and noble Lords trust the Executive to deal with mice when they cannot deal with the economy?

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I do not actually deal with the economy. I am glad to say that that would be above my pay grade, whereas trying to deal with the mice is probably just about right for me.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I was in total ignorance that there was anything of the nature of a mouse helpline until this Question Time. Can the Chairman of Committees tell us what helplines there are for Members of the House on other issues that we do not know about?

The Chairman of Committees: I rather hope that we do not have too many other ones. I was not going to advertise the existence of the mouse helpline, although it was advertised some time ago. Indeed, I invited Members of the House to telephone when they saw mice. The trouble is that when the person at the other end of the helpline goes to check this out, very often the mouse has gone elsewhere.

Danyl has a link to the Hansard if you don’t believe it is real.

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