A Family First Netflix

December 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Conservative lobby group Family First have launched an online TV service for parents worried about exposing their children to offensive content.

The online streaming service, called “Family First TV”, allows families to rent or buy content with granular controls over who can see what. It also offers a large amount of political content from Family First for free.

Family First trumpet the granular parental controls as the main innovation within the service. The system is split into four separate five point scales – language, violence, sexual themes, and adult themes.

For example, a “1” on the sexual themes scale signifies an on-screen kiss or a partially naked character, while a “3” signified implied intercourse – such as a “morning after” scene.

Parents can create different profiles for children with fine tuned levels, and assign credits for them to rent or buy the content.

Spokesman Nick Hitchins argued that sticker ratings don’t give parents enough control over the content their children see.

“A PG can be anything from fantasy swordfighting in Puss in Boots through to teenagers kissing behind the bush through to people using some quite colourful language,” he said.

“Instantly,our insights panel gives families the ability to say ‘what is going to occur in this that might concern me’.”

Hitchins points to the M-rated Star Wars: The Force Awakens as an example of this imprecise rating. 

“Parents are suddenly in a quandary. M in my mind suddenly feels like I would tell my kid they need to be sixteen before they can watch that. Now comes Star Wars which used to be pretty much PG all the way through.”

Michelle Baker from the Office of Film and Literature Classification said they were always happy for parents to look up extra information on films they wanted to show their children.

“We would like to put as much information as we can on the sticker, but there are some limitations on the physical label,” she said.

This is a good initiative from Family First. Empowering parents to be more specific as to what they deem suitable. The current classifications are very broad, and a voluntary system that provide more detailed ratings will I am sure be welcome by some parents.

Family First ruled a charity

July 1st, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A charities lawyer says charities can now speak out on political issues without fear after a landmark High Court judgment overturning the deregistration of the lobby group Family First.

Sue Barker of Wellington law firm Sue Barker Charities Law said “hundreds” of charities would be affected by the judgment, which follows on from an earlier Supreme Court judgment last August ordering the Charities Board to reconsider its deregistration of Greenpeace.

Both organisations were deregistered on the grounds that their purposes were primarily “political” rather than “charitable”.

Deregistration means that they cannot claim tax exemptions for their donations, and usually means that the Inland Revenue Department will no longer allow donors to claim tax rebates for donating money to them.

A majority of the Supreme Court in the Greenpeace case ruled that an organisation with charitable purposes could also have political purposes, depending on the objectives being advocated and the means used to promote those objectives.

It held that the objectives did not have to be generally accepted and could be “controversial”, and ordered the Charities Board to reconsider Greenpeace’s application for registration.

A Greenpeace spokesman said today that Greenpeace was about to resubmit its application “in the next few days”.

High Court Justice David Collins has now ordered the board to reconsider Family First’s case too. He said Family First would still need to show that its role was “of benefit to the public” by analogy to other cases, but he warned against applying that test too narrowly by comparing Family First only with existing charities.

I’m pleased for Family First that they have been treated the same way as Greenpeace. If Greenpeace are eligible, then Family First should be also.

However my view is that the definition of charity and charitable purpose under the law needs to be reviewed. I certainly think charities should be able to do advocacy that is related to their charitable work. But if an organisation primarily exists to lobby for law and policy changes, then they should no more be eligible to be a charity, than a political party would be.

50 Shades of Grey now set to do well at NZ box office

February 6th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Family First have blogged:

BOYCOTT ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

One of the most talked-about movies for 2015 is about to be released – and you and I need to be prepared.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is an adaptation of E.L.James’ best-selling erotic novel, the fastest selling paperback of all time. It is credited with mainstreaming soft porn literature. The movie is billed as ‘the raunchiest movie picture in over a decade’.

The US National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) has launched a campaign against the movie. NCSE’s website fiftyshadesisabuse.com highlights 50-plus ways that Fifty Shades harms and provides various actions that the public can take, including signing a boycott petition and joining the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, which calls on families to forgo the film and donate instead to programmes which target family and sexual violence –

In my experience when a Christian or family group call for a boycott of a movie, it helps propel ticket sales to record highs. So the call for a boycott should ensure it does very well at the box office.

Party leaders on “family” issues

September 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Family First have done a very interesting table showing the positions of the nine party leaders on 35 different moral, family and social issues.

It is perhaps no surprise that Colin Craig’s views align with Family First on 34 of 35 issues. 2nd is Winston Peters who is consistent on 27/35 issues.

Some of the issues:

  • Define marriage as one man and one woman – only Craig and Peters in support, all others opposed
  • Allow polygamy – Key, Peters, Craig opposed, Turei and Whyte undecided, others no response
  • Income splitting for parents – Whyte, Craig, Flavell, Peters, Dunne in favour. Key undecided. Turei, Harawira, Cunliffe opposed
  • Decriminalise abortion – Whyte, Turei, Dunne, Cunliffe support. Key, Criag, Peters oppose.
  • Decriminalise euthanasia – Whyte, Cunliffe support. Key partially support. Craig, Dunne opposed. Turei, Harawira, Peters undecided
  • Decriminalise cannabis – Whyte, Turei, Harawaira support. Cunliffe partially support. Craig, Flavell, Key, Peters Dunne oppose
  • Raise drinking and purchase alcohol age to 20 – Craig, Flavell support. Peters partial support.All others opposed
  • Liberalise Easter trading laws – Whyte, Key, Dunne support.
  • Three strikes legislation – Whyte, Craig, Key support. Peters partial support. Turei, Harawira, Cunliffe, Flavell, Dunne oppose

The degree of agreement with Family First for each leader is:

  1. Colin Craig 34/35
  2. Winston Peters 27/35
  3. John Key 11/35
  4. Hone Harawira 10/35
  5. Peter Dunne 10/35
  6. Metiria Turei 8/35
  7. Jamie Whyte 8/35
  8. Te Ururoa Flavell 5/35
  9. David Cunliffe 4/35

My personal alignment is 7/35 or 20%.

Is advocacy charitable?

May 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

The Green Party is calling for a public debate about how charities are defined after a decision to remove Family First’s charitable status. …

Ironically, the Greens, whose MPs voted unanimously in support of gay marriage, were the only party to speak up for Family First yesterday. Green MP Denise Roche, who has prepared a bill defining advocacy as “charitable” if it is in pursuit of a charitable purpose, said the current law should be reviewed.

This is to allow Greenpeace to become a charity again. If you are going to allow highly politicised lobby groups to be charities, then wwhy not make political parties charities also? They all claim to promote policies to benefit NZ?

I think NZers should give money to the political parties and lobby groups they support. However they should not get to make a tax deduction for doing so.

Ms Roche, a former board member of Greenpeace NZ, prepared the bill when the former Charities Commission ruled in 2010 that Greenpeace was not a charity because of its political advocacy. That case is going to the Supreme Court in July.

If Greenpeace qualifies as a charity, then every lobby groups in NZ should.

Family First have queried the charitable status of the following:

Action For Children And Youth Aotearoa CC11198
Amnesty International New Zealand Inc CC35331
Caritas Aotearoa – New Zealand CC36055
Child Poverty Action Group CC25387
Te Kahui Mana Ririki CC28437
New Zealand National Committee For Unicef Trust Board CC35979
Human Rights Foundation Of Aotearoa New Zealand CC22917
Waves Trust CC24175
Humanist Society of NZ CC36074
Agender Christchurch Inc CC20922
Save the Children CC25367
QSA Network Aotearoa CC48531
Waikato Queer Youth CC29356
Rainbow Youth Incorporated CC24284

I can’t comment on all of these, but I would not regard the Child Poverty Action Group as charitable – they are a highly activist lobby group. Likewise the Humanist Society doesn’t seem charitable to me – they promote a belief system.

Lobby groups and charities

May 6th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Family First NZ says it will be deregistered as a charity because of its views on gay marriage.

National director of Family First Bob McCoskrie said the group has received notification the Charities Commission intends to deregister the organisation.

He said the decision was highly politicised and showed groups that think differently to the politically correct view will be targeted.

I was actually surprised that either Family First or the Sensible Sentencing Trust were registered charities. Likewise I was surprised that Greenpeace was also (and they are no more – for now).

This is nothing to do with my degree of agreement with any of those groups. All of them have some views I agree with and disagree with.

But if you run campaigns calling on people to vote a certain way, then I think you cross the line from being a charity to a lobby group.

I’m all for lobby groups. We need more of them. And people should donate to the ones they agree with. But they should not get a tax rebate for doing so.

Now there are some groups that do some stuff that is charitable and some stuff that is lobbying. One solution is to structurally separate the two. For example the SST does some amazing support networks for victims of serious crimes such as murders. Donations to support that work should be tax deductible. But donations to fund their lobbying on law and order issues should not be.

The same goes for Forest & Bird. Donations for their actual conservation projects should be tax deductible. But donations for their political advocacy in favour of certain political parties should not be. Under their current structure I think Forest & Bird should not be registered either.

That is not to say no charity should be unable to express views on political issues. But when almost everything you do is around political issues (as was the National Council of Women), then I’d say you are not charitable.


Polygamy more justified than same sex marriage?

March 18th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar



Some free campaign advice from me.

If one of your major arguments against same sex marriage is that it will lead to polygamous marriage also being made legal, it’s not a great idea to state that polygamy is more justified than same sex marriage, as a natural institution.

Interesting of the three sorts of polygamy, polygyny is most common – a man with multiple wives. As Liz points out it is already legal in around 60 countries. Polyandry is not really legal anywhere and exists in a just a few far flung places.

Also of interest is that the Nazis looked at making polygyny legal because WWII killed so many men. Their reasoning was that with such a shortage of men, some men have to have multiple wives so that all German women could have children.

Is skinny dipping indecent?

October 17th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The BOP Times reports:

An attempt at breaking a world-record for skinny dipping planned for Mount Maunganui is being labelled unacceptable and indecent.

The idea was raised by The Edge radio station after listeners voted the nudie run at the Bay of Plenty beach would be the best way to herald the start of summer.

Marketing manager Emily Hancox said the skinny dip world record attempt would, hopefully, be held on December 1 “as a bit of fun”.

“It’s not for people to be shy or embarrassed. If people can see the fun in it and try to get New Zealand on the map for that [world record], it will be great,” she said.

What a great idea.

However, national director of Family First NZ Bob McCoskrie said holding the event in such a public place would be “completely unacceptable”.

Very smart idea of The Edge to get Bob to condemn it, as that should help them get more publicity for it 🙂

The world record for a collective skinny dip was set by 413 people in the United Kingdom last year.

Hell, easy to beat.

Parents and smacking

April 2nd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Martin Johnston at NZ Herald reports:

A survey indicates there has been an increase in the number of parents who choose not to smack their children, in line with the controversial “anti-smacking law” implemented in 2007.

The survey was commissioned by conservative lobby group Family First from Curia Market Research, a firm headed by centre-right blogger David Farrar.

It is based on responses from 500 parents of children aged less than 12. It found that 44 per cent reported never smacking their children since the 2007 legislative change to remove the Crimes Act defence of “reasonable … force” for parents who hit their children to correct them.

Twenty-nine per cent told Curia they had smacked rarely since the change, 21 per cent said occasionally, 1 per cent said frequently and 5 per cent were unsure or refused to answer.

The full results are on the Family First website.

The never-smacked figure was higher than found in a 2009 Herald-DigiPoll survey of parents of 4-year-olds.

That poll found that 39 per cent of mothers and 33 per cent of fathers never smacked – and that was more than three-fold higher than the rate during the four decades to 1997.

I’d be a bit careful comparing a poll of parents of four year olds and a poll of parents of children aged from zero to 11 years old. I would suspect that the older the children the less likely parents are to smack.

This is not to say that the “never smacked” figure may not be increasing. It may or may not be. But one would want to compare data of parents of same aged children to be able to say if there is a trend.

Survey findings

66 per centof parents would “smack to correct in future”

44 per centhad not smacked their children since the 2007 law change

49 per cent think law change “caused decline in discipline”

81 per cent would not report someone for smacking

63 per cent think law should be changed to allow hand smacks

75 per cent say 2007 law change has not changed New Zealand’s level of child abuse

One interesting aspect was the views of parents on whether the law change has caused a decline in disciple. Only 42% of parents living in areas in the top three (least deprived) deciles said it had, but 59% of those in the bottom three deciles (most deprived)  said it had caused a decline discipline.

Teens and Young Adults on sex issues

January 9th, 2012 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

Family First have released the results of some polling done amongst 16 to 21 year old New Zealanders by Curia. The summary is:

When asked “Do you think sex education in schools should teach values, abstinence and consequences such as pregnancy, or just teach safe sex?” only 19% supported just the ‘safe sex’ message currently being taught in schools, with one in three (34%) wanting ‘values, abstinence, and consequences such as pregnancy’ taught instead, and a further 42% asking for a combination of both – especially amongst older teens. The support for just the ‘safe sex’ message dropped even lower for the older teens. …

When asked “Provided it won’t put the girl in physical danger, should parents be told if their school-age daughter is pregnant and considering getting an abortion?” 59% of young respondents thought the parents should be told. 34% disagreed. More young men than women agreed, but both had majority agreement.

When asked “Do you believe an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born?” 56% of youth respondents said they believed an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born. Slightly more young women than young men agreed – 58% to 55%. Those aged 15 to 17 were strongest in support – 66%.

It was intriguing that young women were slightly more supportive than young men of there being a right to be born for an unborn child or foetus.

The parental notification results may surprise some, but thinking about it it is normal that most young people would expect to talk to parents about any unplanned pregnancy. The question did not specifically say “Should the law require parents to be told …” but at a minimum it makes clear that a majority thought parental notification should occur.

Note that of course the results do not necessarily represent my personal views.

Family First rates the leaders

September 26th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Family First say:

Family First NZ has released the results of a family issues questionnaire which has been sent to leaders of the main political parties. The results can be viewed on their new website www.valueyourvote.org.nz .

“The questionnaire finds out the party leaders’ views on issues ranging from marriage, abortion and income splitting to loan sharks, Easter trading laws, same-sex adoption, and broadcasting standards,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

I always find an election guide by Family First as very useful, but in reverse 🙂

Let’s look at how they rate them:

  1. Colin Craig 90%
  2. Winston Peters 80%
  3. Don Brash 43%
  4. Peter Dunne 37%
  5. Hone Harwira 30%
  6. Russel Norman 25%
  7. Metiria Turei 23%
  8. Tariana Turia 19%
  9. John Key 17%
  10. Pita Sharples 14%
  11. Phil Goff 10%

Interesting that Key and Goff are two of the three at the bottom. Well done guys.

Of the 30 or so issues they rate leaders on, around the only ones I agree with Family First on are decriminalise non-abusive smacking, education parental choice, welfare vouchers where children are at risk and maybe an Independent CYF Complaints Authority.

I disagree on marriage, income splitting, abortion, sex education, surrogacy, stem cell research, same sex adoption, euthanasia, cannabis, brothels, prostitution, broadcasting standards, public nudity, billboards, alcohol purchase age, Easter trading laws, loans sharks, gaming machines and binding CIRs.

We’ve a very diverse lot in the VRWNLLWC!

A hilarious book

June 12th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Bob McCoskrie blogs:

Family First NZ is calling on bookstores to ban the sale of an offensive book entitled “Go the F*** to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach. 

My general rule of thumb is that anything Bob wants to ban, is probably worth seeing 🙂

By chance, someone has sent me a copy of the book and it is hilarious. Here are some of the lines:

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the fuck to sleep.

The windows are dark in the town, child.
The whales huddle down in the deep.
I’ll read you one very last book if you swear
You’ll go the fuck to sleep.

The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest
And the creatures who crawl, run, and creep.
I know you’re not thirsty. That’s bullshit. Stop lying.
Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep.

The wind whispers soft through the grass, hon.
The field mice, they make not a peep.
It’s been thirty-eight minutes already.
Jesus Christ, what the fuck? Go to sleep.

This is going to make such a great Christmas present to my friends who have small kids.

The Wikipedia article on the book is interesting:

When Adam Mansbach’s daughter Vivien was two, she would take up to two hours to fall asleep. Exhausted and exasperated, one night Mansbach posted a note on Facebook, “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the — to Sleep”. Following his post, friends of Mansbach responded enthusiastically, so that Mansbach began writing what was then only a hypothetical book.

What a great way for a book to happen.

Go the Fuck to Sleep was subject to an unintended viral marketing campaign after PDF copies of the book, presumably from advance copies sent to booksellers, were distributed via email. While the book was originally scheduled for release in October 2011, by the end of April the book had hit #2 on Amazon.com‘s bestseller list

It’s interesting that in this case, illegal electronic copies of the book led to it bcoming a best seller.

You can pre-order the book from Fishpond. On sale 16 June.

Family First on Don’s voting record

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

Bob McCoskrie blogs:

We’ve been contacted by a number of supporters asking about the voting record of new ACT party leader Dr Don Brash, who may be a key player in forming the next government. …

On the positive side, he voted 
AGAINST Civil Unions and Relationships Bills
FOR Parental Notification for teenagers seeking an abortion
AGAINST the Care of Children Bill,
and FOR the Marriage Amendment Bill which defined marriage as one man and one woman. 

Most importantly, while in Parliament, he voted AGAINST the Anti-smacking bill …

On the negative side, he voted
FOR the decriminalisation of Euthanasia
FOR the decriminalisation of Prostitution
AGAINST Raising the Drinking Age back to 20,
and AGAINST the ability for Manukau City to ban the problem of Street Prostitution.

It should come as no surprise that what FF lists as negatives, I regard as positives. While Don was not entirely consistent, he generally has been a social liberal on “moral” issues. He did flip on civil unions, having voted for at first reading and then against at second reading. It would be interesting to know what his stance is today on issues such as civil unions, the drinking age etc.


March 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Bob McCoskrie blogs:

The majority of New Zealanders think women considering abortion have the right to be fully informed of the medical risks of abortion – and the alternatives. 

In the poll of 1,000 people undertaken by Curia Market Research this month, respondents were asked “Would you support a law that would require a woman considering an abortion to first see a doctor, who is not an abortion provider, to be informed of the medical risks and alternatives to abortion?” 

64% supported this proposed law, 29% disagreed, and the remainder (8%) were either unsure or refused to answer. Interestingly, women were slightly more in favour of informed consent than men.

Now my company did this poll for Family First. I was very surprised by the result, especially the fact more women (65%) than men (62%) were in favour of the proposed law.

I should make clear that my personal position is that the law should allow abortion on demand, during the period a feotus would not be viable. I would have answered “no” to the poll question.

When the result came out, I asked a couple of female friends what they thought, as I was puzzled that more women said they supported a law effectively making it more difficult to have an abortion. Their answer was that women want safety and quality in their healthcare, and many would interpret that question as leading to more rigorous process. I’m not sure if their view is why that result was obtained, but it is plausible.

One salient question I would pose on this issue is whether such a procedure would actually lead to some women not having an abortion due to “better” information, who do currently have an abortion – or would it just be an extra hassle and cost for every woman seeking an abortion, and not actually change anything.

Now they’re complaing about a church!

December 17th, 2009 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

I’m used to Family First complaining about all my favourite films, shows and TV shows. The intensity of their complaints about a show tends to be an excellent indicator of how much I will enjoy it.

But now they have complained about a church billboard!!

Family First NZ labelled the billboard to be put up by St Matthew-in-the-City Church as insensitive and objectionable to many people. The billboard ..was intended to challenge stereotypes about the way that Jesus was conceived and get people talking about the Christmas story, the church said. Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said it had already generated plenty of discussion in its conception phase.

But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie describes the church’s plan as irresponsible. “The church can have its debate on the virgin birth and its spiritual significance inside the church building, but to confront children and families with the concept as a street billboard is completely irresponsible and unnecessary,” he said.

The billboard is funny and harmless in my opinion.


Photo from Stuff.

Now if the billboard showed Joseph ravishing Mary, then I think there could be grounds for complaint, but I think it us rather cute.

And all things considered, you do have to wonder how it was for Joseph. I mean if God gets your wife pregnant, that is going to lead to performance anxiety.

The Forum on the Family Conference

September 21st, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I attended most of the Forum on the Family Conference on Friday, in Auckland, as I was speaking in the afternoon on blogging and social media.

A few amusing anecdotes from the conference. Chatting to an MP at morning tea with Madeleine Flannagan, who introduced herself as the author of the No 1 Christian Blog in New Zealand. I quipped that must make me the author of the No 1 hedonistic blog 🙂

There were speeches from both the Children’s Commissioner, and one of the Families Commissioners. Both were well received – better so than a year ago I suspect!

The afternoon session I found the most interesting as you had Phil Goff speaking, then another speaker, and then John Key. It was the first time I had seen Goff and Key speak in the same place.

I have to say I think Phil Goff spoke very well. It was not the most naturally friendly audience, and he generally handled himself skilfully. I’d partly forgotten how competent he is, due to a couple of errors of judgement since becoming Opposition Leader. He was a very safe pair of hands as Foreign and Trade Minister, and was also a pretty good Minister in the 1980s.

In fact the thought that came to mind, watching him, was that if he does become Prime Minister one day (which I think is unlikely) he will be a fairly competent one. I don’t mean I’ll at all like his policies, but he would be up to the job (something Lange sadly was not).

Goff handled the numerous questions on the anti-smacking law quite well, and also got quite ballsy with a couple of questions. He said he wished people would get as worked up about child abuse as they do about how to spell Wanganui. But most ballsy was in response to a request to have an independent appeal board against CYFS decisions. Goff said CYFS, while not perfect, is not the problem in New Zealand. It is the families who abuse and kill their kids, or allow it to happen.

So overall a good performance from Goff, and he gets kudos for accepting the invite. But, and there is always a but, the rating would be even higher if he had not been followed by John Key.

While Goff delivered a prepared speech well, Key spoke pretty much off the cuff and managed to engage the audience very effectively. And he got even more vigorous questioning over the anti-smacking law, but really interacted with the questioners. He gave examples, didn’t use sound bites, and I thought really connected. That is not to say people agreed with his answers, but it was a impressive performance. The example he gave was captured by the Herald:

Responding to another question from Mary Paki of Otara, he quoted a school principal in his electorate who told the parents of a Samoan boy in his school report that the boy needed to behave better.

He said the boy’s father went to the principal’s office the next morning and told her: “You don’t tell me how to discipline my child.”

To reinforce the point, the father brought the boy back later and asked him to lift his shirt to show “welt marks and blood running down the kid’s back”.

“That has got absolutely nothing to do with section 59 [the parental discipline law] except to say that we have to send a message through some communities that actually there is a big, big difference between a light smack and violence,” Mr Key said.

“That is why the Maori Party got on the phone [after the referendum] and begged me not to change the law.”

I’m not a fan of the law, and support the Boscawen Bill. But I’ve been waiting a couple of years for someone to make the argument that Key did – that some people or communities do not know the difference between an acceptable light smack and violence. This is one of the few arguments for the Section 59 repeal that I think had merit. It had to be balanced against the greater uncertainty it would give good parents under the law.

Ironically though that argument worked best for Bradford’s original bill – to simply repeal Section 59. That would have had the virtue of simplicity and would have meant a clear message could be sent. But the version of the law that got passed is far from simple. It in fact still allows an undefined level of reasonable force in numerous circumstances.

A couple of other people I spoke to said much the same as what I thought. They were impressed with Goff’s speech, but then were slightly less impressed after Key’s speech.

I’ve seen Key speak a few times now, and then do Q&A. He has a rare ability to really engage with the questioner, and basically comes over as someone who talks with you, not at you.

My own presentation seemed to go down well. In a fit of good timing, I was able to talk about the ACORN scandal in the US as a great example of how the Internet has empowered individuals to make a difference. 20 year old Hannah Giles, and one other, managed to basically destroy ACORN by capturing on video the widespread condoning of illegal activities such as under-age prostitution.

The Washington Times editorial made a good point:

Do you think your tax dollars should be used to help those who want to open a house of prostitution and illegally bring underage girls into the United States as “sex workers”? As you may have seen on television over the last few days, the taxpayer-funded ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has been doing just that.

Who exposed this latest bit of corruption at ACORN? — The FBI? The local police? A congressional investigating committee? The mainstream media? No, no, no, no. It was a 20-year-old-girl named Hannah Giles and a 25-year-old law student and investigative journalist named James O’Keefe.

The results of their expose has been ACORN has been dumped by the Census Bureau and the Senate voted 83-7 to stop funding them and the House voted 345-75 to do the same.

The latest victim of the Electoral Finance Act

October 8th, 2008 at 11:17 am by David Farrar

One of the nasty clauses of the Electoral Finance Act is it requires home or residential addresses to be used in all authorisatiion statements. There may be some merit in this for material put out by individuals, but for parties and organisations their registered office is all that should be needed – as was the case in the past.

Over the weekend four women stuck 1,000 (plastic( knives into the Bob McCoskrie’s lawn. They also placed an (ironically) anonymous note on his front door.

This is thuggish intimidatory behaviour. I have condemned mens rights groups for their antics outside the homes of Judges and lawyers, and this is even worse. It is clearly designed to intimidate.

It is possible the people responsible could have found Bob’s address even if he was not forced to have it on election material for Family First. But that is not the point – there is a difference between being in the White Pages and having to have your home address plastered on pamphlets, websites and billboards. I know of several women who have refused to be financial agents because they don’t want their home address published so widely.

Just another reason to vote for parties that will repeal the Electoral Finance Act.

Family First rates the Leaders

September 20th, 2008 at 12:09 pm by David Farrar

Family First has rated every party leader for their “family friendliness” as they see it. This is a great idea, as those who agree with Family First’s values can use it as a positive guide, and those who disagree can use it as a negative guide. More lobby groups should do this sort of stuff.

The overall ratings (in order) for each Leader is:

  1. Winston Peters 77%
  2. Peter Dunne 69%
  3. Pita Sharples 57%
  4. Tariana Turia 54%
  5. John Key 54%
  6. Jim Anderton 38%
  7. Rodney Hide 31%
  8. Jeanette Fitzsimons 15%
  9. Helen Clark 8%

Winston is the poster boy for social conservatism which is why it is so hilarious that so many on the left are doing everything possible to defend him.

There were 13 issues or votes they judged the Leaders on. I list them below, along with how I would have voted on it if I was an MP.

  1. Prostitution Bill- DPF support – 0
  2. Civil Unions – DPF support – 0
  3. Relationships Bill – DPF support – 0
  4. Parental Notification for under 16 abortions – DPF support – 1 (I support notification, not approval)
  5. Euthanasia – DPF support – 0
  6. Care of Children – DPF oppose – 1
  7. Marriage Amendment (define as man/woman only) – DPF oppose – 0
  8. Anti-Smacking – DPF oppose – 1
  9. Easter Trading – DPF support – 0
  10. Easter Sunday Trading – DPF support – 0
  11. Drinking Age to 20 – DPF oppose – 0
  12. Street Prostitution (Manukau) – DPF oppose – 0
  13. Electoral Finance – DPF oppose – 1

So if I was a party leader I would be scored 4/13 or 31% – the same as Rodney Hide.

Steve Crow wins again

August 19th, 2008 at 2:44 pm by David Farrar

Steve Crow has won in court, but really he was going to be a winner regardless of the court ruling.

The publicity given to Mr Crow’s porn empire by Family First, Auckland City Council and others has been invaluable. He literally could not pay enough for all the free publicity. Rather than try and get the boobs on bikes parade banned, they should demand a share of the profits from his sex expo.

Why does Crow do boobs on bikes? To publicise his sex expo. He loses money on the actual parade – it is free. He doesn;t give a damn about whether or not the parade actually happens – he just wants the publicity about it.

He is secretly parying that Cathy Casey and co do lie down on the road to try and block it. It would be a god send for him. Guarantee a better TV story.

Mr Crow is a very smart man.

Also a very smart man, is public law specialist Dean Knight. Dean blogged last week that there was almost no chance of the Council being able to block the parade under the Bill of Rights. Dean concluded:

I am very confident in saying that, to the extent that the bylaw requires citizens to seek prior approval from a state body for a protest in a public place, it is patently inconsistent with the Bill of Rights and other fundamental common law rights, and is therefore unreasonable and invalid. There was, rightly, a public outcry a few years ago when Wellington City attempted to do this; it backed down. Also, it’s the very thing that many folk are pointing the stick at the Chinese government at the moment with the Olympics in Beijing. The requirement of prior approval is outrageous, particularly in the light of the restriction of protests and so forth.

He goes onto say:

It gets a little more complicated when one deals with other expressive activities. The reality is that we grade the nature of the expression and place differing degrees of importance on different types of speech. Political protest at the top. Speech lacking in intrinsic value at the bottom, arguably things like pornography etc. Commercial-related speech somewhere in the middle. That’s a wee bit controversial but probably accurate. In this case, we might see the full range of expression. Principally, the parade is related to a commercial activity. But it’s also got a pornographic titillation element – something slightly gratuitous. And, given the previous controversy and dealings, it’s also probably capable of being regarded as a protest or similar political assembly.

His colleague Steven Price then details a conversation he had with Dean on the legal issues:

Steven: You know what? I think it might depend on the amount of jiggle.

Dean: I think that’s right.

Steven: If there’s more jiggle, then it looks more sexualised – so arguably more lewd and offensive. Then controlling the parade fits better with the purposes of the Local Government Act, and the offences of offensive behaviour and indecent exposure. You’ve got less wiggle room for an argument based on the significance of the speech. More jiggle – less wiggle.

Dean: No, I disagree. If there’s more jiggling, there’s more of a political component to the protest. It is deliberately provocative. It underscores the parade’s message being more open about sexuality. It emphasises that the protest is defying convention, and the council’s attempts to scotch it. There’s less reason to protect an unjiggly naked protest, because the nakedness is less central to the protesters’ purpose. Jiggling provides better grounds for a defence for boobs on bikes. More jiggle – more wiggle.

Now’s that a legal conversation you don’t get to have very often!

Finally Steven notes:

Such is the stuff of academic discourse. Though it’s fair to say that Dean doesn’t normally evince this degree of interest in women’s breasts.

I burst out laughing when reading that. Those who know Dean probably did likewise. Others should be able to work it out!

As it so happens, I will be in Auckland tomorrow. Despite what some might think, I won’t be there for the Parade – for two reasons. Firstly the plastic fantastics that were on display last year look pretty awful from what I saw in the photos – you can’t beat natural. Secondly I actually think partially covered up is far far more sexy.

Reaction to Benefits Policy

August 12th, 2008 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

A wide range of reactions to National’s Benefits Policy. Taking them in no particular order.

Bll Ralston displys his outraged liberal roots and agrees with Helen Clark that it is beating up on single parents:

Frankly, less than 4000 adhering to the government breast on a more or less permanent basis is extremely few. In an effort to eradicate these last few bludgers, as it sees them, National will spend many millions of dollars in bureaucratic terms policing its new “back to work” system, counselling the DPB recipients and ensuring they really are making a buck for themselves.

Colin Espiner blogged yesterday and calls it Don-lite – watered down from Don Brash, but still different from Labour. He concludes:

There will be the usual objections from beneficiary advocates but National’s welfare policy won’t lose it any votes and may even pick up a few. It will be interesting to see how Labour responds. My pick is it won’t have too much to say.

Simon Collins has a useful look at the party differences:

It [Labour] believes the welfare state exists to empower those who would be powerless without it. For sole parents, the domestic purposes benefit gives them the power to leave unhappy or abusive relationships, and to balance paid work and unpaid parenting in the ratio that suits them and their children.

In contrast National, as John Key put it yesterday, believes in “a genuine safety net in times of need”. It thinks people should be moved on as quickly as possible.

I don’t think National in beliefs or policy encourages people to stay in abusive relationships. The DPB still exists. The difference is, having once moved out, whether or not one is forced to seek work at some stage, or can you stay on it for a decade without ever seeking a part-time job? But Collins is right the views are seen as “empowerment” vs “safety net”.

As his [Key’s] policy pointed out, New Zealand’s refusal to work-test sole parents is now out of line with all Western countries except Australia, Britain and Ireland, all of which have signalled moves to start work-testing.

Yes, as with the 90 day trial period policy, this is standard practice in the developed world.

Collins also has quotes from various advocacy groups:

Family First director Bob McCoskrie, an invited guest at the policy launch, said making parents work part-time made sense, but only if implemented with discretion.

“We’d want to make sure that the work requirements are within school hours and not within the school holidays. Otherwise we are going to have a lot of unsupervised kids.”

Case Managers will need some discretion.

Another guest, Mercy Mission founder Barbara Stone, said she agreed with the work requirement “as long as it’s in school time and there is someone at home for the children for the rest of the time”. She said it was hard to get jobs for sole parents, who often had low self-esteem.

The focus should be on work during school hours only. But a part-time initial job may boost the self-esteem and confidence so that a full or near full-time job is easier to obtain once the kid or kids are older. Having a total break from the workforce for 10 years makes it much harder.

Housing Lobby spokeswoman Sue Henry said she was upset that John Key had “regurgitated” the work requirement policy that National implemented in the 1990s. “Quite frankly, latch-key kids and youth gangs and transience are a direct byproduct of taking the stick to beneficiary families [in the 1990s],” she said.

Yes there were no gangs before the 1990s. What a sensible contribution.

But Parenting Council chairwoman Lesley Max said the requirement for sole parents to work 15 hours a week was “consistent with the norm that exists across society as a whole”.

And who would argue with Lesley?

John Armstrong looks at the policy also:

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – a much paler blue in the case of National’s bits-and-pieces patchwork welfare policy.

Heh that could apply to many National policies!

The latest policy is archetypal John Key. It promises things Labour would happily do itself – such as making the annual inflation-related adjustment of benefit rates a legal obligation on governments, rather than just convention.

Yet in forcing part-time work obligations on some sickness beneficiaries the policy has enough to be identifiably National in origin. But not so much that it frightens centre-ground voters.

Labour and the Greens ritually slammed the policy as an attack on beneficiaries. Some in National’s ranks must think “if only”.

As I said, a sensible combination of carrot and stick.

The Herald editorial is reasonably negative on the policy:

It [solo mothers breeding to get the DPB] is probably as much a myth as the Labour Party’s idea of the average employer. That is to say, there are instances of benefit abuse just as there are rogue employers, but to treat the whole beneficiary class as though they are avoiding paid work would be as foolish as legislating labour arrangements for all. Nevertheless, that is what National proposes to do with sole parents, invalids and sickness beneficiaries.

It is an interesting analogy, but somewhat flawed. Not all sole parents, invalids or sickness beneficiaries are being work tested. Only those DPB recipients whose children are aged over six, and only that small minority of invalids or sickness beneficiaries who have been medically assessed as capable of part-time work. The editorial concedes this later down, so the rhetoric of “treat the whole beneficiary class as though they are avoiding paid work” is somewhat hyperbolic.

For sickness beneficiaries the policy seems fair enough. As the economy has strengthened and the unemployed have faced more stringent job-seeking requirements, the numbers on sickness and invalids benefits have risen suspiciously high. They have needed only a doctor’s note, and even if the doctor assesses them to be capable of part-time work, they have been under no obligation to seek it. National intends to change that.

Some praise amongst the grumpiness.

But there will be cases where the time and cost of taking a low-paid job put added stress on a sole-parent family for little if any financial gain. It is doubtful that society gains from that stress, or that it is worth the trouble the ministry might take to enforce it.

Single mothers with good earning capacity are normally anxious to return to paid work as soon as child care allows. National’s efforts will be felt mainly by those with few skills and poor earning capacity and, frankly, Mr Key ought to have more important things to do. This policy does more to stroke the shibboleths of party supporters than meet any pressing social need. He should return to topics that count.

The policy is pretty standard in the developed world. And having an extra 30,000 or so people in the workforce will help close the gap with Australia.

Dim-Post strikes again

May 1st, 2008 at 10:50 am by David Farrar

From the comments section in the previous post:

Violent Bible Book Should be Banned
The Dim-Post
Thursday 1st May 2008

Lobby group Family First is calling for the Book of Isaiah, a collection of Old Testament prophecies linked to recent anti-government protests to be banned in New Zealand.

A passage from the eighth century BC text was cited as the inspiration for the ANZAC Ploughshares, the activist group responsible for a recent attack on the GCSB spybase in Waihopai.

A press release from ANZAC Ploughshares released after the incident contained a quotation from Isaiah:

‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift sword against nation; and there shall be no more training for war.’

‘This book is directly responsible for inciting terrorist attacks against the New Zealand government,’ said Bob McCoskrie, National Director for Family First NZ. ‘The Old Testament is available to teenagers and young children. There is an overwhelming link between this holy book and the recent surge in spybase related crime.’

A Dominican Priest is believed to have been involved in the attack. The group breached three security fences and used a sickle to deflate the kevlar hood covering one of the two satellite dishes.

McCoskrie blamed the easy availability of sacred scriptures like Isaiah on the statistical increase in crimes committed by Dominican Priests and directly criticised the Labour Government for their reluctance to prohibit the import and manufacture of divine tomes.

‘We reap what we sow,’ McCoskrie said.


Grand Theft Auto IV

May 1st, 2008 at 8:20 am by David Farrar

I’ve never played Grand Theft Auto. But the more I read how Gordon Copeland and Family First want to ban it, the more I really really want to get a copy. What I love about the releases attacking a game, film or book is how incredibly useful and detailed they are for people:

Grand Theft Auto IV is scheduled for release this week. It follows on from previous Grand Theft Auto games which included constant graphic violence and sexual situations. Players could re-enact having sex with a prostitute, beating her bloody, taking her money and running her over with a car and shooting at police officers.

Rockstar Games which produces the game says the company is going even further in its pursuit of realism with this latest game in the series and players can buy cocaine, set enemies alight, shoot a policeman, drink drive, and visit strip clubs – all with improved physics and animation which makes the game feel more real, according to reviewers.

I mean can anyone rule out that they really are on commission for the promoters. I mean who doesn’t want to set their enemies alight 🙂

Incidentally how many know that there is an autobiography on Gordon Copeland? Yes, seriously.

A good BSA decision

March 31st, 2008 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

Very pleased to see the Broadcasting Standards Authority has again not given into pressure, and has not upheld complaints about Californication – just as they also did with Southpark.

I only started watching Californication after Family First started knocking out advertisers (something they are entitled to do), as I always regard the more a show is protested about, as a good guide for whether I will like it.

And the thing is, while the show has segments many find morally objectionable, such as a dream sequence with a nun and sex with a 16 year old, they are actually part of what is a well constructed plot. The sleeping with the 16 year old actually sets up a plot line throughout the entire first series, coping with the ramifications. And the lead character regrets doing it once he finds out her age (and more to the point funding out she is the daughter of his ex wife’s fiancee.

Southpark can be similiar. Yes it has some appallingly offensive scenes and language.  It  is often truly disgusting (just think Mr Hankey). But it often has a message behind its episodes, and many of the messages are good ones, that even religious and family groups would approve of  – such as  debunking the moral  panic over parents abusing their children. Of course there are some episodes, such as where Cartman tricks Scott Tenorman into eating his parents which don’t have much of a hidden message, except maybe don’t play tricks on people with an evil streak!

Why Family First do so well

March 1st, 2008 at 3:09 pm by David Farrar

Rarely does a day go by, without Family First in the news. This is because Bob McCoskrie is a very very smart media operator. Not only does he do a press release a day, but he thinks outside the square.

Sure they do still sometimes do dumb stuff like trying to get Californication off the air through an advertiser boycott. Probably sent ratings soaring. But they are very smart when they do releases like this one in my inbox:

Family First NZ has offered to pay for a child to join their family on a dream holiday to Disneyland if they win the ‘nightmare’ trip in More FM’s current radio competition.

First prize in the competition is a family trip (worth $20,000) to Disneyland in both LA and Florida for 10 days. However, if the winning family tosses a coin and it is ‘tails’, one of the children has to stay behind.

“The competition has been ill-conceived and is potentially traumatic for a young family,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, “and our understanding is that More FM has received a number of complaints about it, and that even some staff have concerns.” …

Family First hopes that the winner gets ‘heads’ on the coin, but in the event that it is ‘tails’, they are offering to fund the extra airfare so that the whole family enjoys a brilliant family trip together.

“Who wants to be at the departure lounge when little Jeremy waves goodbye to the rest of his family as they embark on their dream trip to Disneyland?”

This is seriously brilliant PR.  Instead of just complaining about the More FM competition, they front up with the $2K or so for the extra child, in case the family flips tails.

Today they have launched a ‘Have dinner with your family” campaign on billboards and in newspapers.  Not at all political – just pushing a families message.

If all they did was go on about smacking and rude shows on TV, they would be marginalised.  But Bob M manages to find a family angle to almost every issue, and get in the news on it.  A quick check of NZPA finds around 40 references to Family First – just in February.

Now don’t take this to mean I agree with all of Family First’s aims. Of their four current action alerts, I oppose them on three of the four – Californication, Hell’s Pizza, and Boobs on Bikes. I do agree on the anti-smacking law.

But one doesn’t have to agree with a group on something, to admire their media skills.  Likewise I don’t agree with the EPMU and Andrew Little on a lot of things – but I do admire his media operation.