Q + A 25 September 2011

September 23rd, 2011 at 2:24 pm by Kokila Patel

Coming up this Sunday on Q + A

On Q+A this Sunday morning we have an exclusive interview with the man tipped to be Pakistan’s next Prime Minister – cricket legend Imran Khan.
In a frank interview with Guyon Espiner, Khan talks about his ambitions, the crooks that run Pakistan, America’s drones, the failed war against terrorists and his very personal and candid account of having to face death.

Last election it was the three strikes law. What will ACT’s law and order policy be this time?
Paul Holmes previews Don Brash’s big law and order speech with the ACT leader. Do we need to get even tougher on crime? Or have we tipped too far already?

And then one of the most hotly contested debates this election, Social Welfare.
So before the politicians start campaigning, Guyon Espiner talks to Peter Hughes, the outgoing head of the Ministry of Social Development. Named public sector boss of the year two years running and the man who does the hard work of helping struggling Kiwis find work, we’ll talk about the difficulties of getting people off welfare and what needs to change.

Joining Dr Claire Robinson on the panel this week are political strategist John Pagani and former ACT MP Stephen Franks.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.
Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

A rare poll from Saudi Arabia

December 26th, 2007 at 9:51 am by David Farrar

A rare poll has been done in Saudi Arabia. Results are mixed.

Opinion of:
Iranians – 51% favourable to 40% unfavourable
Jews – 6% favourable to 88% unfavourable
Christians – 39% favourable to 54% unfavourable

If Iran develops nuclear weapons and does not respond to diplomacy:
Favor US Accepting A Nuclear Armed Iran 27%
Favor US and Other Countries Taking Military Action to Prevent Nuclear Armed Iran 38%

Israel and Palestine:
favor a peace treaty recognizing the State of Israel, if an independent Palestinian state is established 30%
favor all Arabs continuing to fight until there is no State of Israel in the Middle East 51%

Saudi Nuclear Arms
Favour 52%
Oppose 31%

The response on the Israel question are probably the most disappointing.  The signal it sends to Israel is that it has nothing to gain from giving up territory and allowing an independent Palestine because the true aim of many will still be to wipe them out.  Now this is not to say that Israel shouldn’t still do this, but it’s hardly an incentive.

Sydney Morning Herald on left vs right globally

December 23rd, 2007 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

The Sydney Morning Herald has an in depth article on the challenges facing the right in various countries, including New Zealand.

I chatted to the SMH political editor, Peter Hartcher, for up to an hour on the political situation here.  Always fun to chat politics with interested people.

I suggest people read the full article, but here is an extract about NZ:

In New Zealand, the story is similar. The conservative party, the Nationals, exiled from power since December 1999, have been huddling close in the lee of Labour’s Helen Clark.

More than Britain or the US – indeed, more than any other country – New Zealand was a zealous early adaptor of the Thatcherite market agenda. Per capita, it implemented the biggest privatisation agenda in the world. But the conservative revolution is long since passé and privatisation is a dirty word.

Labour has rolled back some of the early conservative accomplishments. The national system of railway tracks has been re-nationalised. The Post Office banking business, after being sold off, has been re-established. The privatisation of the three national energy companies, halted after the sale of only one, has been frozen. And the National Party is not proposing to change any of these policies.

The conservatives have a popular, young, self-made leader, John Key. “His strategy is ‘don’t rock the boat’,” says David Farrar, a popular conservative blogger who has worked for four Nationals prime ministers and opposition leaders.

“A year ago he tried to shut down traditional areas of controversy – nuclear ship visits and climate change, for example. The Nationals have been ahead in every poll this year and they are likely to win the next election” – due by next November – “but that’s because Labor is old and tired and not because of any upswelling of support for the Nationals’ agenda.”

As with any article, only some of what you say makes it.  Certainly it is true that Key has moved to shut down some areas of difference which could hurt National.  Likewise it is true that the mood is more to throw Labour out, than a popular revolution for National.  I did however give some examples of areas of difference such as allowing minority private shareholdings into some SOEs, the extent of tax cuts, competition for ACC, likely education policy etc.

Some interesting criticism of the Howard Government’s record also by CIS Director Greg Lindsay:

Howard increased the size of the state in Australian life and made it the biggest-taxing and biggest-spending government in the country’s history. Even his signature efforts at deregulation, such as Work Choices, were a confusion of detail rather than a clear retreat of the government, Lindsay argues.

“When you are as rich as Australia is now, you should be reducing the amount of money people receive from government, but Howard increased it. The Howard government forked out obscene amounts of money in Family Tax Benefit A and Family Tax Benefit B. They tried to nationalise the family.”

Sadly all Governments increase spending – the only debate nowadays is by how much. The debate in NZ will be about whether spending increases by $2.5 billion a year or $2.1 billion a year. Now that is what the public want – so they will get it.  But to really push NZ up the global league tables, we would need to be prepared to be a bit radical as to what should the state do and not do.

The battle for the Pacific

December 21st, 2007 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

An important post from Poneke on the battle between China and Taiwan for the Pacific – quoting our outgoing Ambassador in the Cooks.

Fijian scouts banned from Jamboree

December 21st, 2007 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Okay now this is getting silly.  Ten Fijian scouts have been banned from a jamboree in New Zealand because of their relatives.

Considering Winston made an exception for a Government Minister recently, he should make an exception for the Scouts.  I’m with Keith Locke on this one.

PM popular in UK

December 16th, 2007 at 4:39 pm by David Farrar

Iain Dale’s blog is one of the most widely read in the UK. He’s a former staffer and candidate for the Tories, but takes an independent line which makes it a popular read from all sides.  However most readers would be Conservative.

Anyway he ran a competition asking readers to rate 13 world leaders from 1 to 10, and Helen Clark actually made the top half being in 6th place with a rating of 4.4.

The most favourite was Sarkozy, followed by Merkel.  Then Ireland’s Bertie Ahern and Canada’s Stephen Harper.

Both Clark and Rudd beat out George W Bush (and this is a conservative blosite poll!) and Vladimir Putin.

Could be a fun summer poll for Kiwiblog – get people to rate Rudd, Gordon Brown, Harper, Bush, Sarkozy and Merkel.   Not sure if enough NZers follow international politics enough to make it worthwhile.

Another option is to run our own Democratic and Republican primary.  I’m still backing Clinton on the Democratic side and Giuliani on the Republican side.

Clark & Rudd

December 10th, 2007 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

Good to see Helen Clark having an early meeting with Kevin Rudd. The trans-tasman relationship is a crucial one for New Zealand, and nowhere it is more important than at head of government level.

I think both Clark and John Howard deserved praise for their very good and professional relationship, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

Sadly they have been rare exceptions. Shipley and Howard got one fine. But Bolger despised Keating (for good reason – he betrayed us). Lange and Hawke had a personality clash, and Fraser despised Muldoon (also for good reason).

I think Rudd will be quite a good Prime Minister. Australian Labor is quite moderate in some areas, for example:

WAYNE Swan has guaranteed he will deliver Labor’s $31 billion tax-cut plan, flatly rejecting the push from social progressives for Labor to instead spend the money on better services.

Insisting the cuts will ease pressure on inflation and interest rates by boosting workforce participation, the new Treasurer has also promised an austere first budget in May, delivering on election promises but offering no surprises outside further cuts in spending.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian yesterday, Mr Swan declared Labor “the party of middle Australia”, promising its emphasis would be on economic conservatism to build and maintain prosperity.

Under the proposed cuts, by 2010 the 15 per cent tax rate will apply to incomes of up to $37,000, the 40 per cent tax rate will be cut to 37 per cent and the 45 per cent rate will be cut to 42per cent.

In NZ one pays 15% uo to $9,500 only.  In Australia it ill be up to $37,000.

Help Protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali

December 8th, 2007 at 8:05 pm by David Farrar

I think most people know who Ayaan Hirsi Ali is.

She lives in real fear for her life.  Sam Harris has set up a way for people to donate to help with her protection.  That’s a good idea.  It would be a tragedy if she is killed, but it would also be tragic if she has to give up her freedom of speech just to stay alive.

Chavez loses

December 3rd, 2007 at 9:58 pm by David Farrar

This is great news – Venezuela voters have rejected the constitution promoted by Hugo Chavez by 51% to 49%.

This new constitution would have removed the law requiring Chavez to step down in 2012, and give him greatly increased powers.

He is accepting the result for now, but we’ll see given time whether or not he does hand power over peacefully.

Nelson wins 45 to 42

November 29th, 2007 at 4:04 pm by David Farrar

Brendan Nelson has defeated Malcolm Turnbull 45 – 42 for the Liberal Party leadership. Julie Bishop is Deputy,

Nelson should make Turnbull Shadow Treasurer.  That would be a fairly good team.  Still can’t see them being able to win in 2010 but events as always may influence that.

Abbott out

November 29th, 2007 at 10:33 am by David Farrar

Tony Abbott has dropped out of the competition for Liberal Party Leader.  It is now Malcolm Turnbull vs Brendan Nelson.  Nelson is well thought of, but Turnbull would be my pick.

Deputy should go to Julie Bishop.

Sound familiar?

November 28th, 2007 at 8:53 am by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion and opposition leader, was arrested Saturday and sentenced to five days in jail after trying to lead a march to the offices of the federal election authorities.

Wow, I didn’t know Russia already had an Electoral Finance Act. Kasparov must have forgotten to put his name and address on his placard.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

Inconsistent Sanctions

November 28th, 2007 at 7:29 am by David Farrar

One can only agree with the NZ Herald that Fiji sanctions regime is being handled inconsistently.

It was at that point the ban began to sound very arbitrary; if it suits the Government to grant an exemption it will. And not just to people distantly connected with the military. Mr Sukanaivalu is a minister of the illegitimate regime. The only discernible “value to New Zealand” in his admission for the education gathering is that it teaches us a little more about our fraying sanctions.

It is a lesson also in the arrogance of power. By what principle can the Government argue that an ordinary gathering of ministers is more important to this country than a sporting event such as the chance to host a soccer World Cup qualifying match? It behoves those who intrude on others’ activities to make sure they apply the same rules to themselves.

Fiji seems not to be suffering much from this ban, nor is the New Zealand Government. It seems to apply only to the not-so-well-connected.

Most sanctions are a farce.  Both sides know they will be dropped eventually, and that they are designed to placate people, rather than actually be effective pressure on a regime to change.

Are tasers torture?

November 27th, 2007 at 9:44 am by David Farrar

The UN Committee against torture has come out and said tasers are a form of torture.  Well yes they are if they are being used to punish someone.  But that doesn’t answer the question about whether they are a better option for armed offenders than merely shooting them through the heart.

I was interested to see who was on the UN Committee against Torture and after 20 minutes on the God awful UN site I found it.  10 experts – all I am sure fine upstanding people.  The countries they come from though are mixed.  five of them have good human rights ratings (from Freedom House) – Norway, Chile, Spain, Cyprus and the USA.  However we also have the reasonably repressive Senegal and Ecuador, the very repressive Morocco and Russia and the totally repressive China.  So the moral high ground is rather low.

Having said all that, I do repeat that I have some concerns with their use here.  Some Police have misused pepper spray and if they misuse a taser, the consequences can be fatal.  A taser should only be used when pepper spray would not be a safe option for the officer, and no action is not acceptable. They should be a substitute for pistols, not pepper spray.

The biggest tragedy of the Australian election

November 26th, 2007 at 6:57 pm by David Farrar

Despite the best efforts of Mild Colonial Boy, Hajnal Ban failed to get elected as a National Party candidate in Forde.


Ms Ban got 12.5% which wasn’t bad as the Nationals had never stood there before. The seat got picked up by Labor.

Costello steps down

November 25th, 2007 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

Peter Costello has announced he will not seek the Leadership of the Liberal Party, and also stand down as Deputy Leader.  One has to feel sorry for him – so long waiting for the top job and now not worth having when it is finally his.

This now provides fascinating opportunities.  Turnbull is not that popular with his colleagues (he was the Chairman of the Republican Movement).  Tony Abbott may stand, and he is a brawler who would be an effective opposition leader.  A good team could be Abbott as Leader and Turnbull as Deputy and Finance.  Turnbull is very committed to massive tax reform.

It will be interesting to see who stands.

Australian Election Results

November 25th, 2007 at 1:41 pm by David Farrar

As expected Kevin Rudd won, and with a very decent majority – it should be enough to keep him in for at least two terms.  It will be very interesting to see how Kevin Rudd goes as PM – he has committed to implementing a large amount of Liberal Party policy such as $38 billion of tax cuts.

Howard looks to have lost his seat also, and has endorsed Peter Costello as his successor.   My preference would be for Malcolm Turnbull to take over, but if Turnbull is sensible he will let Costello take the party into the 2010 election and then take over.

The final result looks to be 86 seats for Labour which is a massive gain of 26 seats.  The Coalition has dropped to 62 and two Independents. 29 seats went to Labour while the Libs picked up three from Labor.

The Senate sees 18 seats go to both the Coalition and Labor, and three to the Greens, giving a new balance of Coalition 37, Labor 32, Greens 5, Family First 1 and Independent 1.  Rudd may have some challenges there.The Democrats are finally wiped out and the Greens do well with 9% of the Senate vote.

In hindsight it is a pity that Howard did not retire last year with a legacy of four election wins and 10 years as PM.  But sadly very very few politicians ever go out on top.  I like the US term limits in that they do mean you go in, do a good job, and then move on without trying to keep the top job forever.

The Australian online campaign

November 24th, 2007 at 10:33 am by David Farrar

An AAP story on the role of the Internet in the Australian campaign.


November 24th, 2007 at 10:29 am by David Farrar

I’ve never quite understood why Belgium is a country. And it seems many Belgians are saying the same, with a real move in some parts to split between the Dutch speaking North and French speaking South.

They have been unable to agree on a Government since elections in June.  And even the PM designate has called Belgium an accident of history.

Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union have all dissolved into their constituent parts.  Will Belgium be next?

Australian Election Party

November 22nd, 2007 at 9:39 pm by David Farrar

There’s an Australian Election Party in Auckland at Thomas Forde’s bar, 122 Anzac Avenue., starting at 6 pm on Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 6:00pm

“Come and join hundreds of others at Thomas Forde’s Australian Bar (for one day only). Dress up as your favourite Australian. There will be prizes for the best dressed. Thongs, singlets and akubras allowed.

This event is open to people of all political hues. Even Pauline Hanson supporters!

It is guarenteed to be a night of high tension, unbearable excitement, drinking and out of tune renditions of waltzing matilda.

For one night only Thomas Forde’s Irish bar becomes Australian and welcomes anyone interested in following the election of the year.”

Talking of the election, I’d say any chance of the Government hanging on (and there was a small chance as Labor were not doing as well in some marginals as they are nationally) died today after the revelation of a bogus pamphlet being distributed in a marginal seat claiming that Labor supported the Bali bombers.

This was both despicable and moronic.  And while the hierarchy of the party would never have endorsed such a stunt, the fact the husbands of an (retiring) MP and a  candidate were involved, means that they will be damned for it.

The people involved should be prosecuted,and further they should be given brain transplants.  Did they really think that it would work, let alone that it would not be traced back to them?

For those interested, the pamphlet is here. It really is a nasty bigoted smear.

I was thinking Labor would win 20 seats or so.  It may be a whole lot more now.

5.5% of GDP

November 19th, 2007 at 8:43 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports on the latest IPCC missive.  As always I am interested in the hard numbers so one can do meaningfull cost vs benefit analysis.

We have the already known prediction that by 2100 sea levels will rise by between 18cm and 59cm – an average rate of 1.8mm – 5.9 mm per year.

We then have the statement that stabilising CO2 levels by 2050 will mean decreasing global GDP by 5.5%.  Now I have not yet gone to the source data, but maybe someone could clarify if it means have GDP in 2050 5.5% less than it is today, or have the total GDP growth to 2050 5.5% less than it would have been otherwise.  For now I am assuming the latter.

Now what is 5.5% of global GDP? It’s US$2.65 trillion.  Not exactly spare change. And this is an annual amount of reduced wealth.  Now I’m not against this – just saying we need to be clear about the cost – reducing the world’s wealth by $2.65 trillion a year.
But hey if that is the price to keep temperatures stable, then that may be fine.  But is it?  You see that is the price to keep CO2 levels stable by 2050.  Now again I have yet to read the source report but maybe someone who has could explain whether that means keep them from increasing after 2050, or have them at 1990 levels by 2050?

And then once that is clarified can someone please find what either of those scenarios means in terms of average temperature by 2100 and average sea level rise?

Because if parties in NZ are talking about reducing the 2050 levels to 30% to 50% below 1990 levels, I guess that $2.65 trillion isn’t enough.  You see that’s the figures I really want to know.  How much money has to be spent to stop global warming due to CO2 totally by say 2050 or 2100?

Please note I am accepting everything the IPCC says as correct.  I am assuming they are experts in both climate science and economic forecasting and costing.  I just want to use their own figures to get clarity over the costs and the benefits.  Because at the moment they are expressed (at least in the NZ Herald summary) in a way which is incomparable. If we want the benefit to be stopping at 18 to 59 cm increase in sea levels, what is the cost of doing that?  Is is stabilising CO2 levels by 2050 or is it much more than that?

Australian election update

November 6th, 2007 at 12:11 pm by David Farrar

It still looks highly likely John Howard will lose office later this month.  The bookmakers are betting on a Labor victory, Labor have led in every poll for 14 months and Rudd is well ahead of Howard as Preferred PM.  When the incumbent PM isn’t even Preferred PM, you know you have trouble.

The Australian has quite a good article on where things stand.

The best hope for the Coalition may be the FPP type system (actualy more an IR system) where it all comes down to marginal seats.  This article does suggest they are doing better in the marginals. They key thing to remember for Australia is people do not vote uniformly. Results will be very different in the Queensland marginals compared to the NSW marginals.  A simple pendulum is too simple.

Having said that, I still think Labor will have a handy majority – may be as large as the Coalition now has.  But let’s see how the last three weeks go.

Conservative Home covers Key in the UK

October 21st, 2007 at 1:43 pm by David Farrar

Conservative Home covers the latest meeting between John Key and David Cameron.

David Cameron has had a fairly rough period since Gordon Brown took over, but he has weathered it well, and Brown is now the subject of intense criticism for his flip-flop on holding an early election.  He has also just agreed to cede more powers to the EU, despite having promised a referendum on such issues. So the next round of polls in the UK will be interesting. The last one has the Tories 7% ahead.

Rudd backs massive tax cuts

October 20th, 2007 at 8:40 am by David Farrar

As I have said many times, most left wing parties do not share NZ Labour’s ideological hatred of reducing tax. I doubt one could find another party in the world that has had surpluses as high as NZ’s, and they’ve refused to lower personal tax rates.

Australian Labor leader Kevin Rudd has endorsed almost every element of Peter Costello’s massive tax cuts. The only difference is with the rate for those earning over $180,000.

Rudd has also offered tax deductions for laptops and Internet connections if used for home education.

And his long-term plan through to 2013-14 would have Labor flatten the tax structure going from four rates of 15%, 30%, 35% and 40% to just 15%, 30% and 40%.

So no matter who wins in Australia, within a few years there will be 0% income tax for those earning up to $20,000.  Someone on $30,000 will pay only an average 5% tax.

And what do we have after years of massive surpluses?  A worker on $30,000 paying almost four times as much tax as one in Australia.

Ha I was right

October 19th, 2007 at 8:04 am by David Farrar

I pointed out on Tuesday that Dr Cullen was clearly wrong with his assertion that there was nothing in the Australian package for people earning under $30,000 a year.

He now admits he was wrong. But get this – he still tries to attack the package on the basis that those earning under $11,000 a year get nothing from it.  Ummm, that’s because in Australia they are already scheduled to be paying 0% income tax under the tax laws passed last year. So Dr Cullen is complaining that people who pay zero income tax do not get a tax cut. Why do we trust this man with our money?

Just remember that the caring Dr Cullen will tax someone  earning $30,000 almost four times as much as the nasty Peter Costello.  Cullen will thump a low income worker on $30,000 with an average 19.1% tax compared to Peter Costello’s proposed 5.0% average tax.

No wonder he had to lie about the package.  It makes his lack of action look so much worse.