Obama and Key

June 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins reports:

For 30 missing minutes in Barack Obama’s diary, the United States president and John Key did something unexpected.

They strolled the White House South Lawn, checked out the president’s putting green, had a squiz at Obama’s back office and First Lady Michelle Obama’s famous veggie garden, and part of the White House the family use.

The unscheduled timeout followed a 50-minute working session to discuss issues including trade – and whether a deal can be done on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – the South China Sea dispute, climate change, North Korea and Iraq.

Key’s second meeting with Obama at the Oval Office was supposed to wrap up at the end of that session. But the two leaders went for a walk instead.

“It was cool,” said Key.

Key and Obama have clearly established a rapport. They are roughly the same age, share a passion for golf and both have a bolt-hole in Hawaii where they escape with family. Last Christmas, the pair spent a day on the golf course with Key’s son Max while holidaying in Hawaii. Obama name-checked Max to the world’s media after yesterday’s meeting.

Key expects his relationship with Obama to endure beyond political life

Key has shown an extraordinary ability to forge strong personal relationships with many world leaders.  And relationships do matter, and help.

Incidentally the mention of Max was that he had a longer drive than both Obama and his father, according to Obama!

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Heh

June 19th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Barry Soper writes:

Before dispensing with his tie for the bowl up (more like a roll up) the PM stepped up to the microphone to share with them a bit of good old Kiwi humour.

He told the story of how his in-laws worked in a shoe factory when he was hanging out with his now wife Bronagh. She managed to score a holiday job at the factory and was soon put to work on making special cricket boots for none other than Hadlee, or Paddles as Key said he was affectionately known. It was when she filled out her tax form that she raised a few eyebrows, putting her job down as “stud screwer”.  Yeah, that’s what Kiwi told his audience.

He said the office girl at the factory asked her to find a more appropriate description of her job, like factory worker.  Her blokey boyfriend was having none of it, he said. He encouraged her to stick with ‘stud screwer’ for very different reasons. 

Heh. I love the fact we have a PM with such a normal sense of humour.

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So why did Fairfax change their story?

May 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

Earlier today I busted Fairfax with their radical censorship of an article that was published yesterday.

Huge amounts of the original article were expunged and replaced with additions that made no sense. So much was removed that it shows clear manipulation of the story by someone.

WOBH contacted Labour and received an emphatic denial that they were involved in censoring the story. The spokesman for David Cunliffe said “We aren’t that powerful”.

Contact was also made with John Key’s people who as predicted said it wasn’t them.

I stand by my statement earlier that John Key probably laughed out loud when he saw David Cunliffe was calling him a liar.

It is worth following the links to the original story.

The Stuff article, here, originally had as its lead paragraph David Cunliffe saying the Prime Minister is a liar and his word can’t be trusted. They also had a direct quote from him saying “John Key tells lies”.

Now my reaction when I saw the original story was that it just made David Cunliffe look shrill and nasty, and that the more people who saw the article the better.

When Fairfax changed the story an hour later, I assumed they had got the quote wrong and Cunliffe never said what they reported.

However it seems Cunliffe does think it is a good strategy to go around NZ, and call John Key a liar. That’s fine. But why did Fairfax change the story to hide that? Did they think it was defaming John Key? Or did they think it made Cunliffe look too shrill?

Answers to those questions would be welcome.

It also raises the bigger issue of the practice of some media to significantly amend a story, and not note that have amended it. I think significant changes should always be noted.

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Future topics for Campbell Live

May 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Campbell last night aired the results of a “two-year investigation” into the recruitment of Fletcher.

It was claimed there was a meeting on December 14, 2011, between Key and the police boss who ordered the spying on Dotcom that was never disclosed.

“John Campbell is completely wrong,” Key said.

“There weren’t two meetings; there was one meeting.

“The meeting was actually Simon Murdoch with Ian Fletcher over in my office. He happened to be in New Zealand.

“It was an introduction. I can’t tell you exactly everything we talked about a) because I would never say that.

“But I can tell you what we didn’t talk about. We didn’t talk about Kim Dotcom. It’s impossible to talk about someone you don’t know.”

The illegal bugging of Dotcom’s mansion is believed to have taken place under Murdoch, who was GCSB director between July 1, 2011, and December 19, 2011.

Key has maintained he was never told of the surveillance.

He said Campbell’s story had moved into conspiracy theorist territory.

“I reckon tomorrow night – and I know tonight he’s doing keas being run over in car parks – but tomorrow night I reckon he should do Obama not being born in America, and Friday we could move on to 9/11 and why the Americans were behind that, and next week we could move into the Kennedys,” he said.

“I mean, honestly, I have some respect for John, but when you do two years and come up with absolutely nada, then you do what he did – set a whole lot of assumptions to music.”

They should use the same music for the episode on how the US was really behind 9/11

Key dismissed claims by Dotcom that Key met the police chief responsible for the raid on the Dotcom mansion.

“Completely incorrect; never met the police in my life about that issue,” he said.

“That was the day the Government was being sworn in.”

Maybe Key was multi-tasking!

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John Key’s secret donkey

May 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has declared he once owned a stake in a racehorse, a week after NZ First leader Winston Peters faced controversy over his share in a racing syndicate.

Key said he owned the horse, which he dubbed a “donkey” due to its lack of racing success, as part of a syndicate with nine other people.

Key bought his share in 2007 and sold it in 2008. He never thought to declare it in Parliament’s register of pecuniary interest until he was asked about it by media, he said.

“I can’t see why I’d need to declare it, but honestly it’s so long ago I can’t really be bothered going through the arguments so I’ve declared it.”

Key said the horse was a failure and said he had never kept his prior ownership a secret.

“It should be more correctly referred to a donkey than a horse.

“I think it managed to win one race where everyone else was running in the other direction and it now lives in Noumea – apparently, hopefully, a happy life.”

Winston could learn some lessons about about how to deal with questions over racehorse ownership!

I await Campbell Live revealing that John Key’s former donkey is in fact Player X in the cricket match fixing scandal!

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The Campbell Live Dotcom conspiracy episode

May 20th, 2014 at 8:33 pm by David Farrar

You have to all go and watch Campbell Live tonight and try and stop laughing.

It’s classic conspiracy theory stuff. It sort of goes like this:

  • Key appoints Mateparae Governor-General to create vacancy at GCSB – March 2011
  • Director of US National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, visits one week later and meets John Key
  • McCully visits Hillary Clinton May 2011
  • PM has breakfast with Ian Fletcher in June 2011
  • Key visits Obama July 2011 and shock horror asks Fletcher to apply for GCSB job the SAME MONTH!
  • Oct 2011 – Key, Fletcher, SIS Head, MFAT Head, NZDF  and DPMC Head have a meal at British High Commissioner’s place!
  • 12 Dec 2011 – Key meets GCSB (one of 10 meetings that year) and meets Ian Fletcher who is in NZ
  • 16 Dec 2011 – surveillance of Dotcom begins
  • Obama invites Key to White House – May 2014 – THE PAYOFF!

You especially have to like the spooky sinister music they played. They say they’ve been working on the story for three years. Seriously? They even make it sounds sinister that a civilian instead of military was made GCSB Head and an outsider was made MFAT Head. Yes Allan and Fletcher were both plants by John Key, so that they could all conspire with the US to spy on Kim Dotcom!!

Also part of the conspiracy is that Fletcher had worked for the UK Government (also in Five Eyes) in the Intellectual Property Office (which ties in to Dotcom!).

This is the funniest episode ever. Please please watch it, so you can laugh.

Kim Dotcom tweeted:

The answer is a lot more than that. More wet than Winston’s water pistol.

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Mr Key goes to Washington

May 20th, 2014 at 8:22 am by David Farrar

The PM has announced:

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed an invitation to meet the President of the United States during his upcoming visit to the US.

The White House has announced President Obama will meet the Prime Minister in Washington DC on Friday, 20 June.

“The invitation underlines the very close relationship between the United States and New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

“I look forward to meeting with President Obama.  We are likely to discuss the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, to take stock of our bilateral relationship, and to exchange views on current regional and international issues,” he says.

The Prime Minister is travelling to the United States from June 16 to 20.

While in Washington DC, the Prime Minister will also meet with a range of senior administration figures, Congressional representatives and business leaders. 

The Prime Minister will also undertake a full programme in New York in support of New Zealand’s bid to win a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2015-16.

This is no surprise, yet still welcome.

A diplomat commented to me a couple of months ago how extraordinary it is that the New Zealand Prime Minister is the national leader that has probably spent the most time in the last 12 months with both the President of the United States, but also the President of China.

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Stuff rates the leaders

May 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Will the real David Cunliffe please stand up?

That’s the message from experts who claim the Labour leader is failing to connect with the voting public because he’s not being true to himself.

It’s a sentiment reflected strongly in the latest Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos political poll in which people were asked to play a word association game with Cunliffe and Prime Minister John Key.

Asked to sum up the leaders in one word, people opted for “good” when describing Key, but words included confidence, arrogance, charismatic, leader and a suite of words lumped together as “profanity”.

For Cunliffe, words like untrustworthy, arrogant and shifty were more likely to be used along with trying, promising and inexperienced.

What would be interesting is to see the breakdown by how people say they will vote.

Former TVNZ political commentator turned media trainer Bill Ralston said Cunliffe came across like he “doesn’t know himself”.

“He always appears to be acting. You know, ‘I’m going to be angry now, I’m going to be funny now, I’m going to be serious’. I don’t know what or who the real David Cunliffe is but we haven’t seen him yet. It’s that inauthenticity that’s the issue. He just is not pitching himself as a normal person.”

Ralston, who helped train Key, said the Prime Minister and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters were leaders who had “clearly identified characteristics and personalities – you can almost guess what they are going to say or do next whereas Cuniffe, there’s something that just doesn’t ring true”.

Cunliffe, who at times proved he had the ability to connect, was a thoughtful man who was likely to be over-analysing problems, he said. “He shouldn’t try to be anything else other than himself.”

Media trainer Brian Edwards, who has worked with Cunliffe, said the Labour leader was coming across poorly “which is curious because in the past he’s come across very well indeed. He doesn’t look relaxed, he doesn’t look spontaneous, he looks like he is reciting extended sound bites that he has been given by advisers.”

I think Ralston and Edwards both have perceptive comments.

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O’Sullivan on Key

May 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

When the Prime Minister is on top of his game – as he was at yesterday’s post Budget luncheon – he is world-class.

John Key spoke without notes. He was completely fluent. No “ums” or “ahs” or stumbling Mr Average here. He was very much in the mode of a former top-flight international businessman. The guy who served on the board of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve. The persona that I prefer to the one that he has created to make him accessible to all New Zealanders.

He held the audience in his hand. Even the joke about his daughter Steffie being in the news again for “taking off another item of clothing” was delivered with sufficient panache to have the audience laughing with him rather than wincing.

Key has already launched the phony election campaign.

He did that in Parliament on Thursday afternoon when he slaughtered Labour leader David Cunliffe in a rambunctious speech designed to rally his troops, during which he compared the National-led Government’s record with Labour’s on well-chosen metrics ranging from house price inflation, interest rates, the number of Kiwis turning their backs on New Zealand to pursue their fortune in Australia – and more.

Slaughter is probably the right word for it.

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Enjoy

May 15th, 2014 at 7:42 pm by David Farrar

Very enjoyable rarking up by the PM. To be fair, here’s the Leader of the Opposition also.

A bit of a contrast.

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$3k to Christchurch

May 6th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced:

So today I am pleased to announce a new initiative to further support the rebuild and at the same time help job-seeking beneficiaries outside the region gain work.

It’s called ‘$3k to Christchurch’, and it has two parts.

The first part is Work and Income actively promoting through advertising and direct marketing, job opportunities in Christchurch and surrounding districts to beneficiaries outside the region.

This will involve staff discussing with beneficiaries if moving is an option, and looking at whether their skills and a job in Canterbury can be matched up.

The second part is providing a lump-sum, one-off $3000 payment to beneficiaries interested in moving to Christchurch or surrounding districts who gain a confirmed job offer.

To be eligible, a beneficiary would need proof of a confirmed full-time job offer of at least 30 hours a week and for more than 91 days.

Sounds a good initiative.  Getting people into work is excellent.

  • Beneficiaries will not be required to provide proof of costs.
  • The money will be paid in one lump sum, and it will be non-taxable and exempt from any income and asset tests.
  • In most circumstances the payment would be non-recoverable, but situations where it may have to be repaid would be for cases like misconduct leading to dismissal.
  • The offer will be open to all ages who are on benefits, but with a particular focus on those aged 18 to 24.

Non-taxable makes it more attractive.

Also announced:

The apprenticeship reboot I announced in January last year was so successful that by October, 8000 people throughout the country had signed up for training in apprenticeship programmes. 

That happened in the space of just seven months – when the normal sign-up rate for a full year was 7000.

Because of this demand, in December last year we expanded the reboot to a total of 14,000 places.  And they too have been filling up quickly.

Today, I am pleased to announce that the scheme will be expanded again because of continuing high demand.

Budget 2014 will provide up to $20 million to expand the Apprenticeship Reboot by 6000 places.

This move will boost the total number of places to 20,000.

This extension means we have doubled the number of apprentices that can get their training costs subsidised since the scheme was first announced.

Both are about helping young people get into work. The first job is often the most important one.

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Key Derangement Syndrome hits a new low

April 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

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Toothfish is an anonymous environmental activist, who has facebooked this poster which he or she wants donations for, so they can run at least 1,000 of them.

41 people on Facebook have “liked” the poster including former Green candidate and social media campaigner Max Coyle. Now to be fair to the Greens, I am sure the vast majority of them would find the poster as disgusting as the rest of us. There is a reason Coyle is “former” with them.

Personally I hope he/she gets lots of donations for his or her campaign as I can’t think of anything more likely to increase support for National than people seeing those posters.

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Talking down NZ’s contribution

April 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I know being in opposition is hard, but you don’t have to try and portray a victory as a defeat. David Cunliffe on NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     Exactly. So the earlier the better, and I will get to one of your calls in just a moment, but just a quick comment on the issue that came out late last night over the court ruling on whaling, I think this is a significant victory New Zealand and Australia.

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s fantastic. Well, it’s a significant victory for Australia. Where the hell was the New Zealand Government? I mean, we had New Zealanders testifying, but once again, the National Government’s asleep at the wheel. Kiwis hate whaling. We hate whaling and previous governments had a really strong record against it. Why did we leave it to the Aussies to take the thing to the International Court?

So did we leave it to the Aussies and was National asleep at the wheel. Let’s look at the official court ruling from the International Court of Justice:

WHALING IN THE ANTARCTIC (AUSTRALIA v. JAPAN:
NEW ZEALAND INTERVENING)

New Zealand was represented by no less than the Attorney-General, the Deputy Solicitor-General, an Ambassador, five MFAT staff and one of the Attorney-General’s staff. Not exactly asleep at the wheel.

NZ is mentioned 53 times in the judgement.

Also while looking through the transcript a few other fibs:

Well, they did rise in some cases by more, although there has been a real open jawing since of the residential versus industrial power prices and, of course, now, thanks to John Key and his mob, half of that money goes to private investors, most of them offshore. 

Over 70% of investors are domestic. False.

TIM FOOKES:     Well, it’s – look – I am looking in your eyes. Why, then, is John Key so popular? Why does…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             He has had a long time at it, which is good for him, and I’ve only had a few months, so I’ve got work to do. I completely acknowledge that. Second thing is, he has got the best PR that money can buy. He’s got more money than God. 

How did attacking John Key for his wealth go for David Cunliffe last time he tried it? He doesn’t seem to learn.

And is he really saying that John Key is popular because he uses his personal wealth on purchasing public relations?

If one-quarter of the missing million vote it’s game over red rover, you’ve got a Labour led government, right? One-quarter of the missing million vote – game over. And we’re going to get them to the polls.

Such confidence.

UPDATE: A commenter has pointed out it was Helen Clark who dropped the legal action against Japan on the basis NZ could not win. So Cunliffe was a member of the Government that decided not to take legal action, and he criticises National as being asleep at the wheel, when they are the ones who actually decided to take legal action.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will push for a diplomatic end to whaling after the Government dropped plans for legal action against Japan.

Miss Clark said “fantastic” legal advice – from New Zealand whaling commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer – suggested it would be difficult to mount a successful case at the United Nations International Court of Justice.

What an own goal. Maybe a journalist could ask David Cunliffe if he voted in Cabinet in favour of not taking legal action.

Of course he doesn’t seem to think it is fair to point out what he did in Government. From NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     But, hang on, it was eight and a half per cent or close to 10 per cent in those 2007-2008 years, as well. So why…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yeah, and we could go back to the Holyoake years, and justify all sins by saying, well, when Rob Muldoon was a boy, or Keith Jacka was in Parliament, you know, things were different then. Well, sorry, the current Government has been in power nearly six years. It’s time they manned up and took some responsibility. They cannot get away with excuse after excuse, wah, wah, wah, it was different under Helen Clark. Sorry, guys, grow up. 

Holyoake was Prime Minister 50 years ago. There is a big difference between harking back 50 years and pointing out the record of Labour the very last time they were in office, ad their leader was a senior Minister.

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The 3rd anti-nuclear summit

March 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance writes:

As Europe hovers on the brink of a second Cold War (or so the rhetoric goes), there could not be a better time for more than 50 world leaders to gather to discuss nuclear security.

Prime Minister John Key will join the likes of US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye in the Hague tomorrow.

The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) was established back in 2009, by Obama, to respond to the threat of nuclear terrorism, and shore up international security systems around fissile materials.

It’s the third such meeting. Previous pow-wows failed to realise Obama’s ultimate goal: to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials by the end of 2013.

Key was a star-turn at the last summit in Seoul in 2012. In an off-the-cuff address, he cautioned a room chock-full of the world’s most powerful, that they would be held to account for failing to stop a nuclear terrorist attack.

The speech clearly made an impact on Obama – who gave Key a shout-out in his closing remarks.

I recall some on the left predicting that Key would be a catastrophe with foreign affairs as his background was all business and no government.

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Rutherford on Key in China

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford writes:

Seconds after John Key stepped off the plane from Shanghai to Hong Kong, the third and final stop of his Chinese visit, officials began rolling the red carpet away.

The move was no doubt to minimise the disruption to other passengers rather than a slight on the rest of the delegation, but was symbolic of the presidential nature of the trip.

How much of it has been down to  Key, and how much to Kiwi officials based in Wellington and Beijing, cannot be calculated. But in diplomatic terms the trip appears to be flawless, even as storms surround two of Key’s colleagues at home.

New Zealand achieved a trifecta – with a deal to directly trade currency, lofty new trade targets set and Key hosted at a private dinner with President Xi Jinping.

Only a week ago it appeared as though this visit was to deliver a humiliating defence of New Zealand’s food safety standards following last year’s botulism scare, to a country where even many locals refuse to drink the tap water due to contamination fears.

While there was no public acknowledgement that the botulism incident was a false alarm from Key’s host, the Chinese government could hardly have given stronger signals to its businesses of the high regard New Zealand is held. The frequent access to top Chinese leadership and growing rapport between Key and Xi was evidence New Zealand is given disproportionate importance by Beijing relative to our global status.

I’ll blog more on this during the week, but Key is incredibly good at developing not just professional relationships with other leaders, but a strong personal rapport also.

He’s not just done that with countries we share a common heritage with (Anglosphere of Australia, Canada, UK, US) but also President Xi of China, President Santos of Colombia, President Nieto of Mexico, former President Medvedev of Russia, President Sein of Burma etc.

And relationships do matter. They can be more important than almost anything else when it comes to politics (and business).

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Returning the DVDs

March 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff has an extract from the the women’s mags about the 30th anniversary of John and Bronagh Key’s marriage. Had a wee chuckle about John learning that he’s learnt answering back is not a good strategy, and also how Bronagh had set a time limit on how long he can use his new waterblaster for (they are so fun to use!).

What struck me was this line:

He also dropped off his own dry-cleaning and returned DVDs.

It’s just such a normal thing to do – both hiring DVDs for family viewing, but also dropping them back. What I mean by that is that when you are Prime Minister it is very easy to get caught up in your own importance. You have an entire country to run. You work 80+ hour weeks. You need to prioritise your valuable time to the areas where you can make the most difference. So it would be very easy to have a view that it is ridiculous for you to be the family member who pops the DVDs back to the video store.

But the fact he does, I think says a lot about why he is still so popular. He has stayed remarkably down to earth, ranging from beer pong to delivering pizza to his son to dropping back the DVDs. Some will say nah it is all an act, but with respect I disagree entirely. You can’t fake that.

I’m not saying that is a reason to vote for him – absolutely not. I’m saying it is part of why he has remained very popular.

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Where Key got his info from

February 13th, 2014 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

I’m enjoying the belief some have expressed that because John Key repeats something (that Winston had visited the Dotcom mansion three times) five days after the Herald printed it, that he must have found this out via the GCSB.

That is completely and totally rubbish.

He got told by Barack Obama over golf, and Obama found out from the NSA satellite permanently focused on following Kim Dotcom about.

That is far far more likely that the possibility that the Prime Minister actually reads the NZ Herald!

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Our reptilian overlord?

February 13th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Who’s to say Prime Minister John Key isn’t a reptilian overlord in disguise?

Key’s own office certainly can’t; its response to an official information request was that it had no data to disprove the theory.

The response came after Shane Warbrooke requested “any evidence to disprove the theory that Mr John Key is in fact a David Icke-style shape reptilian shifting alien ushering humanity towards enslavement”.

Key’s chief of staff responded this month, saying “no such information existed” to probable cries of “they would say that” from conspiracy theorists.

David Icke is a former British footballer and broadcaster who descended into ridicule after claiming he was the “Son of the Godhead” and promoting conspiracy theories, which he has since turned into books.

At the heart of his theories lies the idea that a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity, and that many prominent figures are in fact reptilian.

It was a silly OIA request.

Everyone knows it is Joyce who is the true reptilian overlord.

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Beer Pong

February 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has defended downing several cups of beer during a drinking game yesterday, saying it was not “too crazy” and in the spirit of fun.

Mr Key was challenged to a game of beer pong at the Big Gay Out in Auckland’s Pt Chevalier yesterday. He agreed, and had to down several cups of beer in the process.

On TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning Mr Key defended his decision to take part in the game.

Asked about the link between games like beer pong and irresponsible drinking, Mr Key said: “I’ve heard those sorts of things before. I mean look, it was a bit of fun. It was about that much beer [about an inch] in the cups, so it wasn’t anything too crazy.”

Mr Key added it was “in the spirit of a bit of fun”.

Beer Pong is a great fun game, and as the PM says the amount in a cup is around a quarter of a standard drink so he probably had less than a standard drink in total. The fun police need to be less uptight. He got challenged to take part, and he played along for a couple of minutes. I guess some people would rather he gave them all a lecture on how beer pong is an evil game, and they should all drink fruit juice instead of beer.

He said he would “definitely win” a game of beer pong against Labour leader David Cunliffe.

“Wouldn’t be any doubt about it.”

Now that would be a great televised sport :-)

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Different reactions

February 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Prime Minister John Key was mobbed by fans from the Asian community vying for a photo opportunity when he entered the event.

The day showcased the cultural diversity of New Zealand, he said.

“There are over 200,000 New Zealanders of Chinese ethnicity; they’re a hugely important partner from New Zealand’s point of view.

“I think if you look at New Zealand, we are based on a bicultural foundation, but we’re very much a multi-cultural society. It makes Auckland and New Zealand a far more interesting place when you can celebrate Chinese New Year, or Diwali, or whatever the cultural function might be.”

When Auckland Mayor Len Brown took to the stage at the event he was met with a chorus of polite clapping and a smattering of boos from the crowd.

He welcomed the crowed enthusiastically, ignoring hecklers who voiced their disappointment over his extra-marital affair by using duck callers – alluding to his labelling as a “lame duck mayor”.

I wonder how many of his volunteer translators where there?

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Luck worth more than competence

January 31st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

luck

 

The above is from the book “Luck” by Ed Smith.

It is interesting that a head of government does better when the world economy is strong, rather than when their local economy is strong compared to the world economy.

That makes the high ratings for John Key the more remarkable when you consider that the world economy has been so lacklustre for the last five years.

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Caption Contest

January 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

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Captions below. As always funny, not nasty. Enjoy.

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Hide on Key

January 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

One of the more common and basic mistakes to make in politics is to underestimate your opponent. It’s an easy thing to do. Your opponents are doing it all wrong and so must be either stupid or crooked and perhaps both.

Your team readily agrees and the trap is easy to fall into. And so it is with Labour and John Key.

Labour continues to dismiss Key as a political lightweight who would sell his own mother, in Labour leader David Cunliffe’s words.

They overlook that Key toppled Labour’s best and strongest leader, has seen off Phil Goff and David Shearer, and who Cunliffe has yet to dent. That’s no political lightweight.

Indeed.

Labour pooh-poohed Key’s credentials in foreign policy. He now has David Cameron’s number on speed dial.

Previous New Zealand prime ministers were ecstatic for our future trade prospects with a two-minute “pull aside” at a formal meeting. Key plays golf with the President of the United States on his holidays.

Key, with no fuss, has turned over 13 of his own MPs in just two years to refresh the party. That’s rare political power and skill.

Cunliffe, meanwhile, is stuck with the team that didn’t want him and which includes ministers from the 1980s plus the party’s two previous leaders.

Over a quarter of Labour’s caucus entered Parliament in the 1980s or 1990s.

Clark was a very popular prime minister. Her average in the preferred prime minister stakes was almost 2 times her predecessor Jim Bolger’s. That’s an extraordinary achievement. But Key’s is even more extraordinary. His average is fully 10 percentage points above Clark’s.

That’s a 25 per cent advantage.

Labour has taken to calling Key lucky. They persist in underestimating him. It’s like they just have to wait until his luck runs out.

I got to work with Key. It’s not luck. This is a man who is smart, who works hard and who understands people.

National needs to poll mid 40s or high 40s to win a third term. This would be unprecedented as under MMP no other party has ever got higher than low 40s – even for their first term. But if anyone can do it, Key will.

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Key and kids

January 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The prime minister’s yearly pilgrimage to Ratana took a detour this morning as he called into a Manawatu early childcare centre for a chat and some cookies. …

Childcare co-founder Lorelei Dekker said the children have been prepping for the prime minister’s visit all week, learning the 101 of New Zealand politics, preparing questions and baking biscuits.

”Their confidence was incredible,” she said.

”He was great at interacting with the kids, he made it all about them and he wasn’t afraid to get down and get dirty, even eating an apple with the children.

”He provides a good role model for our children and at the end of it he was just a normal guy that can talk to kids and that’s just fantastic.”

The PM genuinely loves interacting with kids. I’m not sure if he still does it, but I know his first few years in office, he would always do hand written replies to letters from kids.

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Absolutely brilliant!

January 23rd, 2014 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

I absolutely love the announcements made today by the Prime Minister around education. There are a lot of things that I have to fund as a taxpayer that I resent. But paying top teachers and top principals more is not one of them. The international research is crystal clear that the biggest single factor in a child’s educational sucess is the quality of their teacher. Rewarding top principals and teachers with new roles that can pay between $10,000 and $50,000 more in an excellent investment.

The details announced by the PM are:

So today I am announcing four new roles for principals and teachers in New Zealand schools, and investing an extra $359 million into teaching and school leadership over the next four years.

These are changes that will benefit kids across New Zealand, because high-quality teaching leads to better achievement at school.

The first new role is an Executive Principal.

Executive Principals will be the top principals from across the country.

They will provide leadership across communities of schools, supporting other principals to raise student achievement.

We envisage there will be around 250 Executive Principals, or about one for every 10 schools, on average.

An Executive Principal will remain in charge of their own school but be released for two days a week to work across a grouping of schools, which will include primary and secondary schools.

Executive Principals will have a proven track record in raising achievement and they will pass on their knowledge and expertise to other principals.

They will be appointed by an external panel, for up to four years. Executive Principals will be paid an annual allowance of $40,000 on top of their existing salary, and they will be judged on their results.

So that’s the first new role.

The second is a similar sort of position, again working across a group of schools, but at the teacher level.

These teachers we are calling Expert Teachers, and we intend to establish around 1,000 of these new positions.

Expert Teachers will have a proven track record in raising the performance of their students, particularly in maths, science, technology and literacy.

Expert Teachers will be based in their usual school, but will be released for two days a week to work across their school grouping, under the guidance of their Executive Principal.

They will get alongside other teachers, working with them to develop and improve classroom practice and raise student achievement.

Executive Principals will oversee the appointment of Expert Teachers and the appointment will be for up to four years. They will be paid an annual allowance of $20,000 on top of their usual salary.

Executive Principals and Expert Teachers will drive a whole new level of collaboration between schools and between teachers, with best practice becoming widespread across school communities.

The third new role we are going to introduce is for the top teachers in schools.

We want the best teachers to be recognised for improving student achievement and to act, in a formal sense, as role models for other teachers.

So we are going to introduce a new role – a Lead Teacher. There will be around 5,000 Lead Teacher positions across the country.

Lead Teachers will be high-performing teachers who can demonstrate the best classroom practice.

Their classrooms will be open to other teachers almost all the time, so teachers can observe and discuss classroom practice with a model professional.

Lead Teachers will be paid an annual allowance of $10,000 on top of their existing salary. That allowance is in recognition of their status and their new responsibility in helping other teachers to raise achievement.

These new roles of Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers means more good teachers will stay in a teaching role, because they can see a career path that keeps them in the classroom where they are so effective. And that has huge benefits for the children they teach.

We are going to give extra funding to schools so teachers can take time out of their normal classroom to work with Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

And we are also going to establish a $10 million fund for schools and teachers to develop and research effective teaching practice in areas such as writing, maths, science and digital literacy.

The final change I want to announce today is that we are also going to better match up schools that are really struggling, with really excellent principals.

To do this we are going to establish a new role of Change Principal.

Change Principals will be top principals who are paid an additional allowance of $50,000 a year to go to a struggling school and turn it around.

Around 20 Change Principals will be appointed each year, for up to five years.

At the moment, the incentive is for principals to go to larger schools, where the salary is higher, rather than to schools that are the most challenging.

We are going to change that.

So those are the four new roles we are creating – Executive Principals, Change Principals, Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

So that is $10,000 more for 5,000 Lead Teachers, $20,000 more for 1,000 Expert Teachers, $40,000 more for 250 Executive Principals and $50,000 more for 20 Change Principals – and most of them having a focus on not just helping their school, but helping their neighbouring schools also.

What is great is good teachers can earn more just by being good at their job, without having to move from the classroom into administration.

I’ve been waiting almost decades for a Government to do something like this, and reward top teachers with more pay. It should both lead to better recruitment and retention, but also should lead to teaching being seen as just as professional and important a vocation to go into, as medicine and law. The NZ Initiative reports on education nightlight how important it is to have teaching seen as an esteemed profession.

Some of the international research around the importance of teacher quality is:

The 2009 report by the international McKinsey agency, shows that over three years, learning with a high performing teacher rather than a low performing teacher can make a 53-percentage point difference for two students who start at the same achievement level.

There is also a quote from Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills for the OECD, January 2014 about the proposed changes.

 “Top school systems pay attention to how they select and train their staff, they watch how they improve the performance of teachers who are struggling and how to structure teachers’ pay and career. They provide intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers with an environment in which teachers work together to frame good practice.

“The reforms now being introduced (in New Zealand), with real career paths, support and evaluation, and recognition including monetary rewards, hold the promise for New Zealand to join that group of countries.”

 I hope all stakeholders in the education sector will welcome this investment. They’d be mad not to.

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