Yay the message gets through

September 19th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve twice blogged on how the OECD teacher pay stats actually show teachers are paid more generously in NZ, than most other countries, when you take GDP/capita into account. Our problem is the overall wealth of the country – not what proportion we spend on education.

Both Kerre Woodham and the HoS editorial pick up on this point.

Kerre writes:

Teachers claim they are poorly paid in comparison to other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). David Farrar of Kiwiblog makes the point that we’re all poorly paid in comparison to other countries. It’s because we don’t earn as much as everyone else. It’s all about gross domestic product (GDP).

When you do the sums, as Farrar did, New Zealand teachers get paid more than almost every other country in the OECD compared to GDP per capita. They certainly get paid far more than the median wage – as well they should.

And you know what – if the unions would agree to performance pay, I’d be the first person to be advocating big pay rises for the good teachers – the top ones should be on $100,000.

The HoS editorial:

The problem is that the Government is not short of priority issues right now: recovering from the biggest economic meltdown in living memory and funding recovery from an earthquake that has upended life for about half the people in the South Island are two that spring to mind.

This is not to say that the teachers’ claims are without merit. And plainly the Ministry of Education recognises that, since many of them have been conceded, in whole or in part.

Others, including an increase in the employer contribution to members’ Kiwisaver funds and a 4 per cent wage claim while other wage settlements (and the inflation rate) are running at less than 2 per cent, look remarkably like the demands of a sector out of touch with reality.

Remember that the Government is running a huge fiscal deficit. Every dollar more of government spending has to be borrowed, and will be a burden on today’s kids who will have to pay it back.

The plain fact is that the average secondary teacher salary is now more than $71,000 or $1365 a week. It has risen since 2000 by more than 45 per cent – almost twice as fast as wages in the public sector as a whole (24 per cent) and the private sector (25.3 per cent).

It is provocative but misleading for teachers to compare pay rates with colleagues internationally: salaries have to be reckoned against GDP per capita for international comparisons to be meaningful – that’s why our teachers earn 82 per cent less than their Luxembourg counterparts. And our spending on non-tertiary education is the same as or higher than the OECD average in terms of GDP.

And the solution, as I have said before, is to increase our national wealth. And the way you do that is not big pay increases for doing the same job. It is by improving our productivity.

To put it bluntly, teachers need to stop disrupting the lives of students so close to end-of-year exams, prioritise their demands and get back to the bargaining table. They got 4 per cent last year and 4 per cent the year before. Parents and everyone else may take the view that teachers aren’t doing too badly.

Who else has had a 45% increase in their salary since 2000? And I don’t mean through promotions – I mean for doing the same job?

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The employment law changes

July 19th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Kerre Woodham writes in the HoS how job trials offer a lucky break:

One of the best cameramen I know started off at TV3 working for nothing. As a young pup, he shared a poxy flat with five other trainees.

Terry was on a two week unpaid work experience. After that, he just stayed, still without a wage, and worked every hour God sent to scrape together enough money to survive while he learned the tools of the trade.

The company got an enthusiastic worker bee for nothing; the kid got the experience he needed to get him the first foothold on the ladder of a career that’s taken him all around the world and to the top of his game.

I suppose the unions would see it as exploitation but Terry was grateful for the opportunity and TV3 got a talented young camera assistant for nothing.

Surely a win/win situation. And isn’t that what the 90-day trial is all about? Workers being given an opportunity to show their worth to an employer who may be uneasy about taking on new staff?

And 40% of those hired with a trial period, would not have been hired if the trial period provision did not exist.

There are also those who are technically proficient at what they do but are monumental pains in the arse to work with and who can be terribly damaging to a small- or medium-sized business that requires its staff to work together co-operatively. If you can trial workers to see how they fit with the rest of the team, that must be a good thing.

Ask anyone who actually has been an employer, and “how they fit into the team” is a crucial element – and something that CVs and even interviews can not always ascertain.

And if they do not fit into the team, the cost can be horrific. Not only are they unproductive, but other staff become unproductive, and you sometimes even start losing your good staff.

Anyway what are the other changes announced by National.

The Employment Relations Authority will have the ability to filter out vexatious or frivolous claims early on.

This is common for almost all tribunals.

The Authority will promote mediation by giving priority to mediated cases.

Oh how evil, promoting mediated settlements.

Behaviour that delays the Authority will be penalised.

I suspect this will be called the Lynne Snowden clause. Her battle with Radio NZ is still ongoing five years later!

Employers’ processes will not be the subject of pedantic
scrutiny.

This one is pretty damn important. Unless you are a large corporate with in house lawyers and HR teams, you are unlikely to get he process perfect. The process should always be fair, but too often an employer dismisses an employee for exceptionally good reasons, but the employee gets a few thousand on the way out for minor procedural issues.

Having said that, one needs to be careful not to encourage employers to be lax about following a fair process, and the exact details of any law change will be crucial.

The Authority will be moving to a more judicial mode of operation, with the right to cross-examine witnesses.

My translation of this is that too many witnesses are lying and getting away with it.

Rules on union access to workplaces will change, so that any access will require the consent of the employer. That consent cannot be unreasonably withheld.

I predict that this will be no big deal, despite the loud noise. All it is doing is saying a union should be polite enough not to turn up unannounced when entering private property. Like anyone else they make an appointment, so they may have to ring up and say we plan to come in tomorrow at 10 am to talk about “x”, and the employer will say yeah no probs unless it clashes with something else (maybe they have an important meeting of their own, or are on a deadline and the following day will be much easier).

Employees will be able to trade one of their four weeks’ annual leave for cash. This is only at the employee’s request and cannot be raised in salary negotiations.

Also election policy, and will be welcomed by many employees who will appreciate having a choice.

Holiday pay calculating entitlements will be simpler for employees who have variable hours and pay, using our new calculation known as “Average Daily Pay”. It’s based on the average of an employee’s pay over the past year.

Seems fair to me. Over a year, it should avoid the problem of calculating it just on a previous pay period, when hours may have been very low or high.

Employers and employees will be able to agree to transfer the observance of public holidays to another working day.

Not sure what problem this is solving, but generally flexibility is a good thing.

Maximum penalties will double for employers who don’t comply with the Holidays Act.

Good. Bad employers are the reasons unions push for labour laws that punish all employers. I’m all in favour of tougher penalties for employers who knowingly deprive their employees of their holiday rights.

Employers will be able to ask for proof of sickness or injury within three consecutive days of an employee taking sick leave – but they’ll have to cover the employee’s costs in obtaining proof.

I understand the sentiment behind this one, but am worried about practicality. If you wake up with a temperature, you often don’t go and see a doctor if it passes within a day. Same with food poisoning. So if an employer then requires you to see a doctor, there may be nothing to see by then.

Will be a good area for the select committee to consider how practical it is. The intent (less fake sickies) is good, but one can go overboard in this area.

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Loosehead Len

June 20th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

After his display of head slapping, Len Brown should perhaps be known as Loosehead Len – and this is one of the kinder things being said. I’ll start with Kerre Woodham:

Just when I didn’t think things could get any worse for Len Brown, he goes and does it again.

And before his fans leap up and down and say I’m part of some spooky right-wing conspiracy, I’m not.

He had my vote before the events of the last couple of weeks. Not for any particularly compelling reason. I just thought that if we had a centre-right government, it balanced things up a bit to have a centre-left mayor. …

Then came the claims of persecution and the protestations of being victimised. That was unattractive, but what really turned me off was the performance Brown gave to the Manukau City Council on Tuesday night.

When I say performance, I don’t for a minute think he was acting. Far from it. I think he believed every word when he cried out passionately that he’d risen from his hospital bed after a near-fatal heart attack for the love of the people.

That when he walked in the door, looking like a bloody skeleton, it was because he cared, not because he could put a few more cups of coffee on the mayoral credit card. I’m sure that’s true.

But emotional blackmail is hardly a rational response to requests for financial accountability. Nor is beating yourself about the head and face.

That was weird. In his soliloquy, Brown repeatedly hit himself in the face and chest, saying if people had a problem, they should come and see him.

That was enough for me.

You need somebody a little less … overwrought … as mayor of New Zealand’s first super city.

And that is from a Grey Lynn liberal who was planning to vote for Len Brown.

Next Matt McCarten. Matt is as left as you can get:

This brings me to the parallel universe of local government politics in which Labour Party-backed mayoral hopeful Len Brown has credit card problems of his own.

His use was careless at best and, as many Aucklanders don’t know much about him, his misuse will worry them. But it was his response, like Carter’s, which is more revealing.

The cutting up of his credit card on television was a cheap stunt. Was he saying he can’t be trusted with a credit card to do his job?

Well perhaps he was, as he seemed incapable of keeping proper receipts and he outright refuses to comply with his Council’s own policy to identify who was at a dinner.

His explanation on why he used his card to buy personal items was because his wife had their joint card raises more concerns. Everyone knows couples can get a card each on joint accounts.

And as they are signature cards, you can’t borrow each other’s card. That one had porkie all over it.

It’s good he apologised but his emotional presentation to his council was disturbing. His opponents can’t believe their luck and are predictably using it as evidence Brown is unstable and loose with ratepayers’ money.

But Len explained away his actions as being the Maori way to do things. Fortunately the SST has talked to some actual Maori on this claim:

But broadcaster Willie Jackson rejected that. “The spin about it being a Maori gesture is rubbish. I’ve never heard anything like it.”

Jackson said Brown’s team had made a poor decision in claiming a cultural element to the antics.

“I don’t know what the hell they were talking about, having been a Maori every day of my life,” Jackson said. “Len needs to harden up or he’s going to gift this campaign to John Banks.

“This campaign was his to lose and he’s doing a good job of that.”

Willie is also of the left. This is hardly the vast right wing conspiracy. Willie was also backing Brown over the credit card before his display at Council.

Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison said what Brown did was “more like caveman stuff”.

He said haka participants slapped their chests and thighs “to get unison with everyone and feel the rhythm”. The gesture to invite people to “come and get me” usually involved poking out the tongue.

“I don’t know what this guy was doing,” Morrison said. “This guy is on another planet.”

Ouch.

Auckland University Maori studies expert Dr Ranginui Walker was also unconvinced. “In the old days widows used to cut their breasts and chests when their husbands died or when warriors were slain.

“But I’ve never heard of men doing any such thing.”

Well we can at least be relieved Loosehead Len didn’t start cutting himself on live television.

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Sunday coverage of expenses

June 13th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports Chris Carter is close to quitting Parliament:

New Zealand’s first openly gay Cabinet minister is close to quitting Parliament because he is sick of being attacked as a “luxury-loving gay boy”.

Chris will quite Parliament at the next election – because his colleagues are so pissed off at him.

“Do you want to live your life with this stuff going on all the time? You know, I love being an MP. But there might well be a point soon where I think this is just not worth it.”

Yes, how dare one have to endure scrutiny of spending.

But he said the public perception of him as living the high-life at the taxpayer’s expense was grossly inaccurate – and he still drives a 1996 Suzuki Swift.

The only thing grossly inaccurate is Chris’ perception. It is a shame – he used to have a well developed political instinct, but it has deserted him.

“I have lots of faults … but arrogance, pride and love of luxury are not among them.”‘

So why the $6,000 of limo hire?

No other Minister has been “forced” into hiring them, as you claim you were by the Australian Government.

Matt McCarten writes:

This week the credit card expenses came out on Thursday and none of it was good for Labour.

A number of former Labour ministers clearly didn’t know where the line between their public responsibilities and personal luxury needs started and finished. …

But what these ministers didn’t get is there are rightly different standards for them. They are in the privileged positions of being leaders, where their personal ethics and integrity are important no matter what their political stripes. Carelessly using a ministerial card for personal luxuries is thoughtless at best and corrupt at worst.

There are two types of politicians – those that think it’s a privilege to be a representative of the people and those who think it’s a privilege for us to have them. You can guess which category the ministerial card abusers fall under.

As we saw in the previous story.

And Kerre Woodham writes:

Phil Goff thundered sanctimoniously that Heatley’s position went to his head.

He’d barely been minister for a year, Phil Goff expostulated, and his sense of entitlement was such that he ordered two bottles of wine with dinner. Heads should roll, Phil finished.

Well, as sure as the karma bus will make a stop at your door, Labour has found itself having to explain away thousands of dollars worth of credit card bills run up by its former ministers.

Karma indeed.

Chris Carter, the serial trougher, was at it again. Despite being advised repeatedly as to what was appropriate use for his ministerial credit card, and despite being sent the entire parliamentary policy on credit card use, just as a reminder, Chris Carter continually bent the rules.

Movies, flowers, fruit and massages – whether the massages had happy endings isn’t specified on the bill – all popped up on Carter’s credit card.

Oh Kerre. Too much detail.

And the HoS editorial:

The most extraordinary aspect of the scandal over spending irregularities that has destroyed Shane Jones’ leadership aspirations – and possibly his entire political career – is that he ever imagined he might get away with it.

In numerical terms, Jones is not in fact the worst offender in the latest round of revelations: his one-time colleague in Cabinet, Education Minister Chris Carter, actually ran up 33 per cent more than Jones – on flowers, designer clothing and spa treatments.

Most gallingly, he used his ministerial card to buy flowers for Lianne Dalziel after she was sacked as Immigration Minister for lying about having leaked documents to a television channel.

The logic by which he could regard it as a ministerial duty to console a colleague who had sought to deceive the public remains obscure to everybody but him, it appears.

The thought of personally paying for the flowers did not occur I suspect.

… principal among them is the requirement that no personal expenditure be incurred on a ministerial card. That means precisely what it says: it does not mean that it is all right to run up private expenses with the intention of later reimbursing them.

Many of us run two or more plastic cards and make daily decisions about which to use, for reasons of our own personal accounting. It is no great burden to do so, and it is the least we might expect of someone carrying a card for which the taxpayer picks up the tab.

No great burden and very common.

The events of the week have surely irretrievably damaged the mana of a man who was widely tipped to succeed Phil Goff as Labour leader and, in the eyes of many, potentially the country’s first Maori Prime Minister.

Sad though that is, there is a sense here of history repeating itself. Winston Peters and John Tamihere were in their turn cloaked with the mantle of future premiership.

Hmmn, it does seem to be a sort of curse.

And finally the SST reports:

Jones is being urged not to resign as Goff looks set to use the scandal to shake up his front bench.

Jones and Te Atatu MP Chris Carter face demotion tomorrow after Goff’s return to a party in disarray over revelations going back seven years.

The release of credit card receipts last week show Carter notched up bills for limousines, flowers and massages, while Jones watched dozens of pornographic movies. He repaid the money before he handed in his credit card, but Carter is still paying money back.

Jones, who has been tipped as a potential leader, is considering his future, but has ruled out resigning.

Samuels said Jones shouldn’t quit. “He has got leadership qualities I don’t think anybody else in the party has. Many in Maoridom would be very disappointed if he resigned.”

And besides if Jones goes, who else will be there to grant citizenship for Dover’s mates?

Finally John Tamihere writes in Sunday News:

THIS week the Department of Internal Affairs disclosed detailed lists identifying expenditure of ministers in the Labour Government from 2003-2008. I was a minister from 2002-2004.

I had no idea I could order massages, flowers, porn movies and booze galore. The biggest scalp achieved by the clever release of this information was Shane Jones.

While others erred and were arguably worse, particularly Chris Carter, Jones is the big story.

He entered Parliament as the Labour Party attack weapon on the Maori Party and as a person who had huge cross-over appeal into non-Maori communities.

He has Dalmatian ancestry and was gaining significant support for a tilt at the Labour leadership once they lose the 2011 election.

I am not sure Jones was going to wait until 2011.  Phil Goff’s leadership has been made much safer by this.

The question is, can he survive as a politician? He is a list MP and does not have a constituency to fall back on. He is at the whim of the back-room Labour Party machinery.

That machinery is driven predominantly by a group of women who stretch across the gay, union and the woman’s divisions of the party. They control the moderation committee that decides where you sit on the party list. I sat on that committee for the 1999 and 2002 elections.

All of Shane’s colleagues are going to tell him he has a future in politics and not to quit. And then come the 2011 list ranking, he’ll be given an unwinnable place.

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Woodham on Langley

May 9th, 2010 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

Kerre Woodham writes:

Was it his throbbing haemorrhoids or a brutal case of jetlag after the long flight home?

Whatever it was, something was riling Dr John Langley when he churned out his mean-spirited, nasty little attack on John Key.

I have wondered about this also. What was the motivation to submit an op ed attacking the Prime Minister in such personal terms?

Even if one concedes Langley thought Key made the wrong call, why would you communicate that impression through a public op ed, rather than privately?

Normally the reason people do op eds is that they want to change policy on some issue. However the chance of a re-occurrence where a PM has to decide between a trade mission and flying home for a funeral is incredibly remote.

Hence my only conclusion was that Langley’s sole desire was to damage the reputation of the Prime Minister – ie he was motivated to be partisan.

Langley accuses the Prime Minister of “scuttling back to New Zealand” and “abandoning an incredibly important mission”. The Prime Minister’s actions, said Langley, were “short-sighted and irresponsible”. On and on it went.

And yet surely Langley must have known that John Key was damned whatever course of action he chose.

Stay, and be accused of putting the almighty dollar before human life; leave the trade mission and risk disappointing the delegates – although I’m sure the Prime Minister never imagined attending a funeral service would have provoked such an ill-tempered response.

Langley is hoist by his own petard when he claims New Zealanders are unable to have adult conversations about important issues. He’s hardly showing how it’s done with this tirade.

It was a nasty little tirade – one his own employer has distanced itself from. It’s also one that would never have been written, I suspect, about the former PM if she had made the same decision.

I wrote in NBR last week that part of John Key’s popularity is he almost never attacks people. He responds to the issue, rather than attacks the person. And this is a good thing.

But there was a part of me wondering if you can be too reasonable. Key responded to Langley by merely saying he is sorry he is upset, but it was a call he had to make and even with hindsight, he thinks the right call.

I can just imagine Clark having delivered a stinging put down of Langley, accusing him of putting his own narrow business interests ahead of the country, and that she doesn’t need lectures on leadership from a former education dean.

I also know that behind the scenes the gears of Government would have started grinding to ensure that Langley’s firm had no future in terms of Government relations. Not just no future trade trips, but no access to Ministers, and an unofficial directive that they would not secure any taxpayer funding for any reason.

And this is why Langley would never have made such an attack on Clark. The fear of retribution. Sometimes you can be too much of a nice guy, if it encourages the Langleys of the world.

There may well have been a debate to be had about the long-term significance of trade and export versus a very personal desire to farewell colleagues but Langley’s intemperate response didn’t generate that.

The emotive, overwrought language chosen by this educator and his ascribing to John Key the most base motives for attending the memorial service of three young men he’d worked with and known personally says much more about Langley’s motives than it does about the Prime Minister’s.

Indeed.

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All about Worth

June 8th, 2009 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

So many comments today. First Cactus Kate comments on Phil Goff’s description of Complainant A is “strikingly beautiful”:

Imagine a man from the centre-right of politics objectifying a woman as “strikingly beautiful”. The left would be outraged.

Is it appropriate for a Party leader to be commenting on the physical appearance of one of his members? A member you are meant to be protecting the identity of? At what point did Goff feel the need to comment at all on her appearance? What possible context would it have been necessary to utter this stupid answer?

Kate mischievously suggests the feminist wing will be so outraged it may be BBQ at Maryan’s place!

The Sunday News reports that Richard’s daughter is standing by him:

THE only child of under-fire former minister Richard Worth claims the businesswoman who filed a complaint with police against her dad “has problems and needs help”.

“He is the best man in the world and I love him so much,” Worth’s 28-year-old daughter Virginia told Sunday News. …

“I am standing by my dad and that is all there is to it,” said Virginia Worth, a Newmarket, Auckland, rental car company manager.

“I am 100 percent confident and sure that everything is going to work out perfectly. I’m very proud of my father and he has been the most amazing and devoted parent anyone could wish for.”

There is enormous sympathy for Lynne and Virgina Worth, having to deal with all this.

John Tamihere writes:

The real target is not Dr Richard Worth or the complainant.

They are but a means to an end in the final game. In fact, they are merely unsuspecting pawns.

The head Labour wants is that of prime minister John Key.

He is new to the rough and tumble of bloodthirsty politics, of being in the gutter and having to slug it out.

While he is undoubtedly an outstanding corporate leader, and as such has had to deal with significant issues in regard to huge volumes of money and large numbers of staff and clients, the real dirty side of politics is now in play.

The question is, can he handle the constant and continual harassment and pressure the opposition will bring to bear? …

We see this by Goff insisting that the Prime Minister of New Zealand has to meet this “strikingly attractive” complainant despite the refusal to supply the text messages in advance.

Kerre Woodham writes:

What on earth would possess a man to think he could engage in this sort of behaviour and get away with it? Especially when one of the women was a Labour Party member.

He should be dismissed for that sort of poor judgment alone. There may well be no law against being a randy old goat but some of the allegations make for very uncomfortable reading.

Bill Ralston pronounces on the handling:

At 9.21 am on June 3, like the rest of the media, I received a short email statement from Richard Worth stating he was resigning his ministerial portfolio and would be making no further comment. Seven minutes later another arrived from Prime Minister John Key’s office saying he had accepted the resignation and would be making no further comment.

Hello? What were they thinking? A minister of the Crown resigns and the Government has nothing to say? Did anyone in the Administration seriously think journalists in newsrooms across the country would simply say, “Hey Richard Worth’s resigned but no one’s talking. Pity, well, where shall we go for lunch today?”

I think most people accept now the original press release was inadequate.

The problem with the Goff allegations is that he told Key only some considerable time, perhaps months, after first receiving the information that an Indian woman alleged Worth repeatedly made sexually inappropriate texts and phone calls to her.

He produced no affidavit from her and no texts were given to support the claim. Key instructed one of his senior staffers to investigate. Worth reportedly denied all, and threatened libel action against the woman. In a case where it was Worth’s word against an anonymous woman, Key was forced to accept his minister’s assurance.

And they still are refusing to provide the texts!

And finally the HoS editorial has some advice:

It is probably telling that, when asked on radio what he would do if criminal charges were laid, Key said that he could not sack Worth twice. It plainly implied that he did sack the minister and allowed the public announcement of a resignation as a face-saving gesture. If so, it is plainly the only slack the PM is cutting him. Helen Clark left a back door ajar or or at least unlocked for errant ministers to return; Key makes it plain that it will be a very cold day in hell before Richard Worth holds a ministerial warrant in one of his Cabinets. …

As to Worth himself, it may be beyond his capability to feel any shame. A man who exudes a sense of entitlement disproportionate to his status, he seems incapable of showing remorse about actions that plainly warrant remorse. After a private trip to India in which he spoke in his capacity as a minister while promoting an aviation company in which he had an interest, he was carpeted by his boss but would only allow, with a pained smile, that there had been a “perception” of a conflict of interest.

Well, the crystal-clear perception in that case was everybody’s but his – and this case is beginning to look remarkably similar. Rather than hide behind the niceties of legal procedure, Worth might like to act like a man: tell the public what he said and wrote, and when and to whom. And then he could explain why he considers it acceptable behaviour for an MP, never mind a minister.

This is Richard’s problem. He has the legal issue and the political issue. The best response to the legal issue is to say nothing, but that is the worst response to the political issue.

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Kerre’s conversion is complete

November 2nd, 2008 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I think we can declare Kerre Woodham’s conversion to the dark side complete. She has shown primising signs before of having abandoned latte liberal or Chardonnay socialist leanings, but her latest column qualifies her for full entry. I will arrange the initiation ceremony the next time the High Council meets.

Kerre writes:

Can anybody explain why we need these redundancy packages? Will we always have them? Or do we only get redundancy packages when recessions fall in election years?

Kerre has it in one.

One man told me it was all the banks’ fault for luring people into mortgages, so the Government should pay if people couldn’t afford to pay the bills when times got tough.

For a start, no bank staff pointed guns at homeowners and insisted they take out mortgages. People did that of their own volition.

And if you’d listened to your grandparents, they would have told you not to borrow more than you could afford to pay back.

All good points.

And for another, it’s not “the Government” that will be giving you money. It’s me. And your friends and neighbours.

The Government is not a money machine. It’s an institution that is funded by taxes taken from all of us.

And the final proof of the conversion to the dark side – the realisation that the money the Governments gives out is not their money, but your money.

Where does personal responsibility come into it? I’ve earned low wages and I’ve earned high, and I’ve learned you cut your cloth according to your income.

Heresy, heresy to the left.

One of the reasons for this worldwide recession is that people have taken on more debt than they could afford to give themselves a better lifestyle.

What the recession is doing is shaking everything and everyone up, and restoring a natural order and balance. But that won’t happen if political parties set about subverting the sequence.

This column really gets a 10/10. Not only emphasises taxpayers, and individual responsibility but also talks about long-term effects of short-term interventions. Has Kerre been doing an economics degree on the sly?

Labour’s package is particularly loopy. If a person is made redundant, they will get the equivalent of the unemployment benefit for up to 13 weeks even if their spouse or spouse equivalent is on $200,000 a year.

How does that make sense?

It is about as sensible as giving welfare through Working for Families to couples earning $120,000.

National’s is targeted at lower income earners and builds on the Working for Families scheme and is marginally more practical _ if you agree that these redundancy packages are necessary. And I don’t.

I have no problem with taxes going to people who need a bit of extra help. Who are working low-wage jobs and looking after their families and who don’t have a lot to come and go on.

But we have programmes targeting those people already. I see absolutely no point in flinging money at people who have made poor economic choices or who don’t really need it. But then I’m not a politician looking to get elected.

Kerre’s membership will be approved by acclamation I predict. You have done well young Padawan.

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Kerre on Work for the Dole

October 19th, 2008 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Kerre Woodham supports Tariana Turia on abolishing the dole.

It’s an idea that could have only come from the Maori Party. If Act or National had suggested this, we’d have all been leaping up and down and accusing them of heartlessness.

But the idea of working for the dole has some merit.

I would hate to see us operate as some other countries do, where people either work or die. But when you’re working every hour God sends, it’s galling to think of healthy, able-bodied people collecting money from the taxpayer for doing nothing.

All the people I’ve spoken to on the radio who’ve been unemployed for any length of time say it’s soul-destroying. Their confidence diminishes by the day, they become lethargic and unmotivated and a sense of worthlessness pervades.

There’s never enough money – rather than being grateful for the money they get from the state, they feel aggrieved that it’s not more and they become alienated from the community.

On the other hand, work is good for the soul. I’m not sure about the make-work schemes – they’re extremely expensive and if the workers feel they’re just marking time, doing something pointless, they don’t even get the satisfaction of a job well done.

Making it easier for employers to give somebody a chance might be the way to go. Given how difficult it is to fire someone who doesn’t work out, and given the speed with which employees contact lawyers when they’re shown the door, many small business owners are justifiably wary of taking a chance on someone whose CV might be a little patchy.

So Kerre supports work for the dole and grievance free trial periods. Her conversion from a latte liberal to a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy continues.

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A funny ad

September 21st, 2008 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

I found this on Kerre Woodham’s blog. The blog takeover of the media is almost complete!

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Ralston and Woodham on Palin

September 7th, 2008 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

Bill Ralston is not a fan of Sarah Palin. However he may be judging her off incorrect media reports:

She’s an aggressively pro-war, gun-loving fundamentalist Christian, a creationist who is strongly anti-abortion and so vigorously opposed to contraception that she preaches abstinence to teenagers like her pregnant 17-year-old daughter.

I’ve never seen her use the term fundamentalist to describe herself. She has stated she is not opposed to contraception. From Anchorage Daily News:

Palin said last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child. She is pro-contraception and said she’s a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life.

Also her comments on creationism are often quoted out of context. From WIkipedia:

While running for Governor of Alaska and asked about the teaching of creationism along with evolution in public school science classes, Palin answered: “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both”; she further clarified that open debate between the two ideas should not be prohibited if it came up in discussion, but that creationism did not specifically need to be part of the curriculum.

So she specifically said she was not pushing for creationism to be part of the curriculum, just that you should allow discussion on the issue if students bring it up.

This woman is Dick Cheney in drag, although rumours of extra-marital sexual adventures in the hitherto surprisingly accurate tabloid National Inquirer might make her a cross-dressing Bill Clinton.

Rumours that appear to be false yet made mainstream media within hours. While the true rumours about John Edwards were not covered by mainstreammedia for months and months. Someone quipped that the best way Palin could have kept her daughter’s pregnancy out of the media, was to have John Edwards as the father!

Kerre Wodham is more favourably inclined:

Whatever you feel about Republican vee-pee nominee Sarah Palin and her politics, surely you can’t help but feel some sympathy for her as the bloggers and rumourmongers pick through her life and the life of anyone who’s been remotely associated with her, looking for dirt.

She’s had some experience of the muckraking associated with the job, having taken on the Alaskan old boy network when heading the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. …

But if she’s a pin-up girl for conservative Americans then surely her husband, the First Dude, is the prototype for the 21st-century man.

Not only is he an alpha male who hunts, shoots, fishes and is the four time champion of the Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmobile race, but he’s a stay-at-home dad and man enough to be happy about his wife’s lofty political ambitions.

Every girl needs a First Dude. Todd Palin could prove a trump card for the Republicans. Only in the US could an illegitimate child of mixed race parentage be considered elitist and a moose-hunting, snowmobile-racing oil worker in Alaska the ultimate sensitive new age guy.

Almost everyone I know is saying the US election is far more interesting than the NZ one!

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HoS on Peters

August 31st, 2008 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

Every columnist is talking Peters, so I’ll take them all together. First of all Bill Ralston:

Meanwhile, that same morning, Winston was somewhere in Auckland in his ministerial limousine going stratospheric. For a man who has spent weeks dodging questions from the “meerkat” media he did something extraordinary. He rang Radio New Zealand and thundered he would convince Clark to keep him and “she will know these allegations are vile, malevolent, evil and wrong”.

This is again hypocrisy of the highest degree. When National was investigated by the SFO in 2002, for a cheque which passed through a trust account, Peters got up in Parliament and alleged a former Party President had stolen money from the party, and took a “cut” to bail out his company. Now that is a vile, malevolent, evil allegation if I have heard one.So naturally Trevor Mallard also jumped on the bandwagon and repeated it. There was no one at all in the media or public suggesting such a thing – the possibility was invented by Peters and Mallard.

While all Peters has to do at this stage is explain why donations intended for his party are not recorded as having reached it. The $25,000 donation from Bob Jones should have been declared either under his own name, or under the name of the Spencer Trust.

So far the participants he has identified in this “vile conspiracy” against him include me, the NZ Herald, the Dominion Post, TVNZ, TV3, Radio NZ, the Radio Network, the SFO, Act, National, and big business (except for those big businessmen who have funded him).

Hey don’t forget us bloggers. I want to be part of the conspiracy! Is there a joining fee?

Deborah Coddington has a novel definition of the moral high ground:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs could easily have sashayed offshore to some vitally important meeting, and left the Prime Minister to stave off the attacks.

Which she does admirably, I must say, shrugging away the poke, poke, poke from John Key, claiming the moral high ground by conceding a conflict of evidence given to the Privileges Committee by Owen Glenn and Peters.

So admitting that she knew for six months Peters was lying, and admitting it just before Owen Glenn is about to reveal you knew, is claiming the moral high ground? Well I choose the moral low ground then.

Coddington also suggests a deal with Labout to give Rimutaka to NZ First:

But they’ve overlooked a new development. Ron Mark is standing in Rimutaka, Paul Swain’s old electorate.

After Winston, Mark is NZ First’s best-known MP, and has a large following. He’s NZ First through and through – tough on crime, anti-foreign investment, against sale of state assets, working-class hero, bad boy made good. He’s also a bloody nice guy and with a careful campaign, and has a good chance of taking that seat.

Was this pre-arranged all along? It’s just too cute for Labour to stand a young unknown with no prospect of winning in such a safe Labour seat.

I am not sure Labour regard a member of Clark’s personal staff as a no hoper with no chance of winning. And I am also unsure how calling someone a paedophile under parliamentary privilege sits with being a bloody nice guy.

Kerre Woodham opines:

In all cases, Peters has held up his hands and protested, like Sergeant Schultz, that he knows nothing. Bob Jones said Winston asked for some dosh at a party; Winston says that’s not what he remembers.

Owen Glenn says Winston rang him and asked him for a donation towards his fighting fund; Winston says that is not his recollection. At all times, Winston plays the victim card.

Actually Peters is now more like Colonel Klink with Helen Clark better suited for the role of “I know nothing” Schulz, as it turns out she knew all along.

I used to think the world of Winston, but it’s been a long time since I found him principled or amusing. His posturing that New Zealand First is the only party not to sully its hands with trust funds and big money donations can be seen for what it is – bullshit.

And yet it was all so unnecessary. If Peters had been honest and upfront from day one, who would have cared?

Since 1996, NZ First has declared almost no major donors. Doing so would harm their PR crafted image of being anti big business, when the truth is they were majorly funded by big business.

Finally we have the Herald on Sunday editorial:

Regardless of the outcome of the SFO investigation, Peters will remain a man in a political mire of his own creation. The allegations in Parliament by Act leader Rodney Hide that NZ First was paid by Simunovich Fisheries in return for Peters’ backing off claims that the allocation of scampi quota was corrupt have been around for so long that a high-level independent inquiry is called for. But on the matter of the donation by expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn, which is still being investigated by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, Peters continues to be evasive and pedantic. Glenn may have shown himself to be unreliable as to the details of times and places but he did give $100,000 and described it in an email as given “to NZ First”. If Peters did not know that on the day that the email first surfaced, he should have taken steps to discover and divulge all the facts immediately. Instead, he said everyone else was mistaken or a liar.

The HoS overlooks the fact that at a minimum Peters knew Glenn thought he had donated back in February 2008, when Clark told him so.

National leader John Key, plainly sensing that public patience is exhausted, made a bold move this week in saying that Peters would not be a cabinet minister in a National-led Government – by extension ruling out NZ First as a coalition partner.

This is less a challenge to Peters than it is to Prime Minister Helen Clark who, whatever she might say about the need to be fair, has known about the Glenn allegation for six months. In giving Peters enough rope to hang himself, she may have put herself in the noose as well.

Deservedly.

This week, the suggestion emerged that Ron Mark may stand as NZ First’s candidate in Rimutaka. A victory there could get the party two, or even three MPs – one of them the leader. Were Labour to connive at that, urging tactical voting to allow a NZ First victory in the hope of getting the numbers to form a coalition, Clark would confirm the suspicion she is now quite properly under: that she will turn a blind eye to Peters’ shenanigans to hold on to power.

The Rimutaka candidate, Chris Hipkins, works for Clark. Is it possible Clark will instruct him to endorse Ron Mark if they get desperate to ensure Winston’s survival?

She must match Key’s boldness by cutting Peters adrift and naming the election day. A campaign that consigns NZ First and its leader to the pages of history will allow the country to focus on important issues.

More importantly, it will treat Peters’ childish attention-seeking with the derision it deserves.

That would be nice. More likely is Clark will put Peters back into his portfolios as soon as she can.

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