The new road safety proposals

January 7th, 2008 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

Just before Christmas, the Government announced some proposals for improving road safety.  There’s a lot of them, so worth going through in detail:

  •  to extend from six to twelve months the minimum time under 25 year olds spend on a learner licence – very sensible as allows for more supervision
  • breaches of Graduated Driver Licensing System conditions have penalty drop from $400 to $100 but demerit points increase from 25 to 35 points – excellent as few ever paid fines and demerits are a bigger disincentive
  • a second breach of learner or restricted licence conditions can result in a possible 28-day vehicle impoundment – great – if they won’t obey the law, get them off the road
  • all traffic offenders will be required to pass the appropriate driver licence theory test before their licence will be re-issued – about time, just automatically getting your licence back is too easy
  • a licence suspension for accumulating 100 or more demerit points will only reduce the total demerit points by 100 and will not remove all active demerit points on the licence – also good, as often someone could have 400 demerits and get them all wiped for just a three month suspension
  • penalties for speeding (caught by a cop) decrease in monetary value (now only $50 to $150) but demerits increase (25 to 75 points) – I support the general change but do think 50 demerits for doing 121 km/hr on a motorway is somewhat harsh.
  • radar detectors will be illegal and possession will cost $150 and 75 demerits – I don’t support this (and no I don’t have one). Merely owing a piece of equipment should not be illegal.  And this will just lead to such features being added to cellphones or blackberries, so they are undetectable.
  • failing to stop at give way sign, stop sign and red light will incur 25, 50 and 75 demerits.  A bit harsh at the upper ends but something I generally support – red light runners are a hazard.  I suspect with 75 demerits involved more people will litigate these in future.
  • Failing to wear a seatbelt will get 25 demerits and $50 fine.  The stupidest part of the proposals (which are generally good).  Taking away someone’s licence because they (for example) did not wear a seat belt as a passenger is daft.

Overall the strategy and direction seem sound.  However the exact thresholds and penalty levels may be somewhat too heavy handed and there is some risk of a backlash.  If hundreds of thousands of drivers end up getting suspended licenses because for example they got caught speeding once at 121 km/hr and then 18 months later were pinged for not having on a seatbelt in a quick taxi ride, well it could be as popular as a poll tax.

But overall it should help reduce the road toll, which is what we want.

Margaret McHugh on the attack

December 23rd, 2007 at 9:02 am by David Farrar

Not only is Margaret McHugh unapologetic for her e-mails to customers, she has lodged 242 complaints with companies whose staff e-mailed her in response to the viral e-mail.

This fits the earlier patten of being a bully – she threatens what are obviously junior staff with going to their boss merely because they had the temerity to query her.

Not that people should have e-mailed her directly from a work address. That is unwise.

Queen Elizabeth II

December 22nd, 2007 at 9:22 am by David Farrar

I may be a Republican but it doesn’t mean I don’t admire the superb service the Queen has given over her lifetime, and she is now Britain’s oldest monarch.

I was surprised to read that she is only the 40th monarch since William the Conquerer in 1066.  We’ve almost had more PMs in 150 years that the UK has had monarchs in 1,000 years.

A second e-mail from the Gourmet Food Store

December 20th, 2007 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

The Southland Times has a story on the e-mail from Margaret McHugh of the Gourmet Food Company to a staffer at Ray White.

Well a second e-mail has just hit the inboxes – involving a different customer, back in mid September.

This one starts with an e-mail of complaint from a staffer at Trust Investments Management Limited.

Hello Margaret

Thank you for catering the breakfast for us on Thursday 6 September 2007.

We ordered this breakfast from you based on the very good quality and presentation of the first breakfast and lunch you supplied.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed with both the quality and presentation of the breakfast supplied, and we wish to comment as follows:

· Baps filled – We received filled Muffins instead. These were too big and unattractive with minimal filling.

· Filled Pockets – Supplied as requested but were not fresh and the fillings were messy; some pockets had strips of bacon which consisted of fat and rind.

· The Savory and Sweet Mini Muffins were a little tough.

· The Muesli slices were very nice.

· The Fresh Fruit platter which was ordered later, was also disappointing, for example the ends of the orange were included which consisted mainly of the white plinth.

We would appreciate if, in future our request cannot be met, you contact us to discuss alternatives/options.

Thank you

Then the first reply, which as per the other e-mail attacks rather than acts on the complaint:

I am sorry you were not happy with your clients breakfast, I am rather confused to say the least that you waited 4 1/2 days to inform me you were disappointed in the consumed breakfast food, it is rather unbelievable. If I was so unhappy I would have been on the telephone immediately and had the food replace forthwith. Of which I would have been more than pleased to do after having seen it again for myself.

Re fruit platter what is white Plinth. The only Plinth I know of is a square slab at the base of a column or pedestal. If you wish to discuss this further I am on the numbers below please don’t send an email it is so time consuming and impersonal . Regards Margaret

Then a reply back:

Hello Margaret

Thanks for your reply. The breakfast on Thursday 6 September commenced 7.30, the food was delivered at 7.20. Many of our guests had already arrived.

Could you have provided a replacement breakfast in 10 minutes?

The 4 ½ days to inform you of our disappointment included a 2-day weekend.

All in all we are surprised with the unprofessional response to our complaint.

Thank you

Now we get the flamer.  Note the pattern with both employees – threatening to get them in trouble with their bosses. Also I love the suggestion the food should have been preserved in case it had been tampered with!

I guess because I am the boss I can speak truthfully and not be afraid for my job, Does your boss know you are wasting their time emailing petty nonsense. In my 30 yrs as a successfully trained professional caterer I have never had to respond to such nonsense.

Please don’t use Gourmet Food Store again we are not used to part timers who have to much time on their hands,have no understanding, good manners and common sense in dealing with a complaint there and then. You never gave us an opportunity to amend what you said was wrong, we or course were never given the food to make an assessment of our own just some nicely typed out letter fully or criticism with no proof, not good enough !!!!!! The food could have been tampered with for all we know.

May I suggest in closing you spend a little more time in finding the word your were looking for in English relating to the orange so I can ask my supplier to remove it before he sends them to me in future.

I’ve also heard from a friend that she has had a similar e-mail in the past also. Looks like a pattern here!

ACC set to sue Affco for gang shooting in car park

December 18th, 2007 at 7:17 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports that ACC won’t back down with Affco:

ACC and Affco became involved in a long-running battle after Joel Storey, 23, was left paralysed from the waist down from what appeared to be a gang shooting in the carpark of Affco’s Wairoa plant in April 2003.

State-owned workplace insurer ACC said the incident came under the umbrella of a workplace accident and billed the company for $1 million in compensation.

If a gang shooting after hours in a car park is now a workplace accident, then I guess employers are now responsible for all crime related injuries.  Let’s sue the car park buildings for any violence that happens within their premises.

Also let’s think about the responsibility of employers to minimise workplace accidents.  Now if this includes minimising the chance of a gang shooting in the car park, how can the employer  help prevent this?  I guess we need to allow Affco to have its own armed security guards.  Or maybe a guard tower with some snipers.

The Innocence Project

December 17th, 2007 at 11:18 am by David Farrar

Poneke (who is becoming a must read) has a very informative post about how Phil Goff’s promised inquiry into the Peter Ellis case was nobbled.  And yes the Val Sim he refers to is the same one who said the original Electoral Finance bill did not breach the Bill of Rights and is now on the Law Commission.

But more interesting for me is the blog post on The Innocence Project being set up by academics and others at Vic and Otago Unis.

I think the Peter Ellis case is a stain on our justice system, and am fully supportive of The Innocence Project.  This could even be a good cause for blogs from all sides of poltics to combine forces on to support.

How about a concerted campaign to set up a Criminal Cases Review Commission as proposed by Sir Thomas Thorp. In election year blogs could run a campaign to pressure all parliamentary parties to make it a policy commitment?

Public Address Word of the Year

December 17th, 2007 at 7:23 am by David Farrar

Public Address have announced their word of the year as “Te Qaeda”.  The first use of it, according to Google, was by Seamonkey Madness at 4.08 pm on the day of the raids.

The overall top ten are:

1. Te Qaeda
2. Sub-prime
3. It’s business time
4. Sustainability
5. Reconditioning
6. Rotation
7. Smacking
8=. Not okay
8=. Carbon
10. Xtra Service

Drink Driving Blitz

December 16th, 2007 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

The SST reports on a drink driving blitz on Friday night which tested 52,000 vehicles and 335 drivers face prosecution.

I was one of those tested, on the on ramp to the Wellington motorway, driving back from a party in Newtown. The police officers were very professional and polite doing a pretty thankless job.

I’d been at the party for around four hours, and had only had three alcoholic drinks (whiskeys) before swapping to fruit juice, so I knew I was well under the limit. But despite that, you always get that nervous clenching feeling in your stomach, until such time as you get a result. Of course it came up negative.

It was the first time I had been breath tested in oh four or five years I think. And that is despite being a regular driver in the evenings.

It got me thinking about how often those who have multiple drink driving convictions, probably actually drive over the limit. If you have just one conviction it might be the only time you were ever over the limit, but what are the chances for multiple convictions.

You see I would estimate that you get breath tested only around one in 200 times you are out driving. So if for example you have four drink driving convictions, that suggests to me that person may have driven over the limit 500 to 1,000 times.

So personally I would actually advocate more resources for more frequent drink driving blitzes. People shouldn’t get away with driving drunk hundreds and hundreds of times.

Another body snatching case

December 13th, 2007 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

It’s sad that there has been another body snatching case.  Losing a family member is tough enough without having to put up with battles over the corpse.  The wishes of the deceased (who nominates a next of kin or executor) should be respected, even if you disagree.

The problem with the Police having failed to take action in the earlier case, despite explicit court orders, is that there is no incentive to obey the law now.  Yes it is nice if people obey the law just because it is the law, but for some that is not enough so you need a fear of punishment to act as an incentive.

If people saw some hefty fines, or worse, for people breaking court orders in relation to these matters, then they might not act quite so selfishly.

Charity Auction

December 12th, 2007 at 10:03 pm by David Farrar

Sell me Free has a kids xmas charity auction. You can bid for the stuff below, and the money goes to charity. Closes 19 December. 81 auctions in total.

  • 9 Pacific Island holidays
  • 9 domestic airfares
  • 17 longhaul airfares
  • 14 transtasman airfares
  • 4 tickets to the Sevens!
  • Weta Workshop Tour
  • Golf with Sarah Ulmer and Hamish Carter
  • Catch Up with Steve Williams on PGA Tour
  • A date with a Air NZ 767 pilot!! (women only)

A great cause with some good prizes.

Another private prosecution

December 9th, 2007 at 5:05 am by David Farrar

I heard on the radio that Graham McCready has said he is likely to drop his private prosecution of Trevor Mallard as he believes the dock appearance has damaged him enough.

In the same week, another private prosecution of a Minister (and officials) has been launched – and this one seems less trivial.

Tuariki John Delamere was charged with fraud relating to immigration services in 2005,and earlier this year he was found not guilty on all charges after a four week trial.  The jury took only two hours to deliberate.

Delamere has filed a private prosecution against then Immigration Minister David Cunliffe, and three senior officials,  with a total of 98 charges including blackmail and perjury.

His summary of evidence runs to 34 pages, and there are 114 exhibits.

I have no idea at all about the merits of the case, but it will be interesting to observe.

Thanks Lord Ashcroft

December 5th, 2007 at 7:37 am by David Farrar

A big thanks to Michael, Lord Ashcroft for his very generous $200,000 reward for information leading to the return of the stolen military medals.

It will be a tragedy if they are never found.

The VC theft

December 3rd, 2007 at 7:48 am by David Farrar

Words almost fail me.  The theft of nine VCs including the almost unique medal and bar awarded to Charles Upham is a despicable crime.

If they catch the thieves, I say put them into the safe keeping of the SAS 🙂

I just hope the medals are not already overseas,

GST on Fruit and Veges

December 2nd, 2007 at 8:51 am by David Farrar

Some Massey University researchers are calling for GST to be dropped on fruit and vegetables.

As a general principle I am against any further exemptions to GST.   We have a relatively simple indirect tax regime because it is not full of exemptions and loopholes.  Australia’s GST is a mess by comparison as some “basic” food is exempt so plain bread has no GST but other breads do have GST.

But even if one puts aside that principle, the arguments by the researchers do not add up.

The average household spends $13.90 a week on fruit and vegetables. So the GST they pay is $1.54 a week on it.

And how much do the researchers claim should be spent every week – $31 to $59 – an increase of  $17 to $45 a week.  So getting rid of GST on fruit and vegetables will achieve only between 3.4% and 9.0% of the goal.

Definitely not a strong enough case to change the principle of universal application of GST.

Refugee Numbers

November 29th, 2007 at 1:11 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn compares our refugee numbers with Australia and finds that they take in far more per capita than NZ.  He says that the Immigration Service is in denial with their claim NZ has a high refugee rate per capita.

I wondered who was correct, so I went to the UNHCR website and pulled out the latest stats on actual refugees over the last year for each country, and compared it to their population.  I pulled out the main European countries.


This does show us towards the bottom end.  Now one has to be aware of certain factors in each country.  For example Germany does not take many legal refugees but has millions of illegal immigrants or economic refugees, so they probably feel they more than do their bit.

I generally support an increase in our refugee quota, but with a couple of disclaimers:

  1. We need to remain vigilant against fake refugees, bogus asylym seekers etc.  These queue jumpers take the places of genuine refugees who have been judged by UNHCR as needing refuge.
  2. We should use some common sense in accepting refugees, who are most likely to do well in NZ.

Graeme Burton

November 29th, 2007 at 10:54 am by David Farrar

The coroner’s hearing into Graeme Burton’s murder of Karl Kuchenbecker has made it very clear how flawed the parole system is.

Burton was the last person in the world who should have been paroled.  He terrorised prisoners and guards, and was commonly regarded as a psychopath.  So why was he released?

Because his psychopathy rating was downgraded from “very high” to “high”.  So fine to let them out when they are only a high level psychopath as oppossed to very high.

How’s this for a better system?  Only let them out early if their psychopathy score is low or preferably very low.

Police “terror” evidence online

November 26th, 2007 at 5:13 pm by David Farrar

I thought this might happen. Someone has put online a copy of the 155 page Police file on the “terror” suspects as a pdf.

The website it is on appears to be a group called the NZ Civil Liberties Union – a different group to the well known Council with a similar name. It is registered to a Michael Ross in Missouri.

Bunkle to seek diversion

November 23rd, 2007 at 6:09 am by David Farrar

Former Alliance Cabinet Minister Phillida Bunkle is expected to seek diversion in relation to her shoplifting charges.

Seems reasonable. It was only $22, but you do wonder what the hell was she doing.  Unless one is pathologically a thief, or you are so poor that $20 is more than you can afford, why would you shoplift?  And in fact she had $200 in cash on her it seems.  Maybe there was a grudge against the store owner?  It just seems so bizarre.

Rickards resigns

November 22nd, 2007 at 6:16 pm by David Farrar

At long last, it is over. Clint Rickards has resigned from the NZ Police.

The disciplinary tribunal was to be in February. Rickards presumably realised it was almost inevitable he would not win, or at best he would get a payout but not reinstatement.

Also I suspect by resigning he gets to perf, and that will be a hell of a lot of money for 25 years and having risen to Assistant Commissioner.

UPDATE: There may have been a golden handshake.  I guess Annette King will face some questions about this, if so.

Kiwiblog – where even “terrorists” debate the issues!

November 18th, 2007 at 9:34 am by David Farrar

I was amused to get a call on Friday from the Herald on Sunday informing me that one of the Urewera 17, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, had previously posted on my blog in relation to how sovereignity changes never come about via talk but “at the edge of a sword, bayonet or bombs”.  They just wanted me to confirm the posts were genuine, not from a fake e-mail address.

Of course my first reaction was “Cool – even the terrorists comes to Kiwiblog to debate the issues” 🙂

In case it isn’t obvious, please note I am using the term “terrorists” for humour effect. I am not suggesting guilt, innocence or even involvement in any particular alleged crime.

The Herald on Sunday article is here.

Trevor Loudon at New Zeal also has some other online writings from Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara.

The Herald on Sunday also has a story on a visit to Iran by Tame Iti.

Also the HoS supports the publication of the alleged evidence:

He has declined to authorise prosecution under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, but we are not to be trusted with the information that prompted police to launch the most pre-emptive strike they have ever undertaken against civilians in this country.

And Deborah Coddington writes that the evidence is terrifying:

So now we know. Little surprise Solicitor-General David Collins said the evidence collected by police during the anti-terrorism raids was “very disturbing”.

Until now, allegations by lawyers and supporters of those arrested that the police action was illegal, brutal, racist and violent have been largely unchallenged (with notable, and surprising exceptions such as Chris Trotter). When Moana Jackson said police spread-eagled a mother on the ground and locked her screaming children in the shed for six hours without water, National Radio unquestioningly reported it.

Contempt of court or not, at least publication of the evidence gives us hard evidence, and it is terrifying.

I doubt any of the 180 or so people who purchased a half-page advertisement calling for the repeal of the anti-terrorism legislation, will buy equal space acknowledging they were wrong to state “it’s not terrorism, it is democratic dissent”.

I still have many unanswered questions.  The things said were all very bad, but we don’t know who exactly said what, and to whom. We don’t know how many firearms were actually picked up in the raids (I’ve seen numbers from four to 14), and we’ve yet to get real clarity on how often weapons were used in the Ureweras, and by whom.

Former Alliance Minister Bunkle arrested for shop lifting

November 15th, 2007 at 8:53 am by David Farrar

Phillida Bunkle, who served in Helen Clark’s Cabinet from 1999 to 2001, as Minister of Consumer Affairs has been arrested after allegedly trying to steal food to consume. The alleged goods shoplifted are a bottle of Stone’s green ginger wine worth $15.20 and two blocks of Fagg’s coffee each worth $7.19 in her bag.

Well the Government did always believe in redistribution of wealth, but that’s taking it to a new level!

Condolences to the Goffs

November 12th, 2007 at 6:19 pm by David Farrar

As many NZers celebrated at the news that a Kiwi had got the VC saving a wounded comrade in Afghanistan, I am sure equally as many will feel a sense of sadness to hear an American New Zealander, Phil Goff’s nephew, was killed this week in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Matthew Ferrara was serving with the United States Army and had graduated from West Point only in May 2005.

Any tragic death is hard to cope with.  It’s probably harder when your profile makes it a public event.  Condolences to the Goffs during this incredibly sad time, which reminds us the cost of freedom is sometimes considerable.

Ban imbeciles not fireworks

November 11th, 2007 at 5:05 pm by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday hits the mark with its other editorial also.

Whenever a politician – or anyone else – utters the word “ban”, it’s a sure sign that an overreaction is in progress. That is certainly true of the suggestions aired during the annual fireworks season. Prime Minister Helen Clark said last weekend that fireworks sales could be banned if “people were going to carry on being absolutely ridiculous”. Her remarks were reported after a series of incidents, some of which disrupted her own domestic repose; she said that her leafy Mt Eden neighbourhood was like “downtown Kandahar”.

The gratuitous tastelessness of that particular comparison was regrettable, but the PM was issuing a challenge. And it’s worth noting that, even if only incidentally, the country called her bluff. Acting national fire commander Paul McGill said this year’s was the quietest Guy Fawkes night since records began in 1996. The number of callouts was down 40 per cent on last year, which was itself down 40 per cent on 2005.

A ban on private use of fireworks would be silly, and not just because accidents, as we saw at Alexandra Park, Auckland, can happen at public displays. Seizing on the objects that stupid people use stupidly makes no more sense than banning cars, knives, glass containers and matches – all of which are implicated in mayhem. The Clark administration, which has a busybody reputation, does not want “Let’s stamp out fun” as a campaign slogan. Better to be grateful that so many of us are sensible people.

I should note that I didn’t think John Key’s agreement than a ban was inevitable one day, was the right message either.  If we carry on banning things because of a small proportion misuse it, we’ll be a very sad society.

Trotter to Minto

November 11th, 2007 at 4:39 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter replies to John Minto’s open letter with one of his own.

I look forward to the next round.

Meurant calls on Broad to resign

November 10th, 2007 at 11:32 am by David Farrar

You know the more than Ross Meurant calls on Howard Broad to resign, the more it makes me think he shouldn’t.

Doing the opposite of whatever Meurant calls for, is generally a sound strategy.