Not quite right

March 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Prebble writes in The Letter:

Maybe the Fairfax media is right that ACT will do exceptionally well. In the Herald poll ACT has gone from zero to .8%. As a percentage increase that is an infinite increase. Projected forward at that rate of increase ACT could govern alone. That statement is no sillier than the commentary the Herald has run on its poll. We are not trumpeting ACT’s spectacular rise because the margin for error in the poll is 3.5%. so ACT might already be on 3%.

That isn’t right. It is a common mistake.

The margin of error normally quoted in a poll is the maximum margin for a result of 50%. It is far less for smaller results such as 0.8%. In fact a 0.8% result for a poll of 1,000 has a margin of error of 0.6% so the 95% confidence range is 0.2% to 1.4%.

Evan at a 99.999999% confidence interval the margin of error for 0.8% is only 1.7%. There is no way at all ACT can be at 3%, just on sampling variation.

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Prebble returns

February 23rd, 2014 at 1:31 pm by David Farrar

ACT have announced:

Former ACT leader Richard Prebble is returning to politics as the party’s Campaign Director for the 2014 election.

Acting party president Barbara Astill announced Richard Prebble’s appointment as Campaign Director after a board meeting yesterday.

“The appointment of Richard Prebble as Campaign Director means ACT goes into the election with the country’s best election strategist,” said Mrs Astill.

“Richard Prebble is a campaigning legend. He was the architect of ACT’s greatest campaigning victories, including taking ACT from a virtual zero in the polls in 1996 to winning Wellington Central and taking seven MPs into parliament. Under Richard ACT increased its vote in every election. As a Labour MP Richard won the biggest general seat majority in parliament not once but twice.

“Richard Prebble has presented the ACT Board with a campaign strategy to win not only the Epsom electorate but also nine MPs. The ACT Board has endorsed the Prebble campaign plan, which will be presented to the ACT Party Conference at the Villa Maria Estate, Mangere, this Saturday,” said Mrs Astill.

“I have come out of political retirement because Parliament needs at least one party willing to ask the question, where is the money coming from for all these political promises?” said Richard Prebble.

“ACT needed fresh leadership and new ideas. I urged Dr. Jamie Whyte to stand for the leadership. Jamie will take ACT back to the original principles of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers which made ACT the effective third force in politics.

“I have been reading Jamie Whyte’s articles in the Wall Street Journal for years. He has an extraordinary knowledge of the world economy that will make him a very valuable member of parliament that any party would love to have.

“I have known David Seymour since he was a top engineering student at Auckland University. As someone educated in Epsom, David will be a very good MP for the electorate.

“ACT now has both the policies and the people. It is my job as director to ensure the voters learn about Dr. Jamie Whyte and ACT’s positive, practical solutions. The support will follow.

“A vote for ACT ensures not only that John Key remains Prime Minister, but that a future National-ACT government remains on the course of good financial sense.”

This is a very good move for ACT. Prebble is a very good campaigner, and will run a good campaign. But it also means signifies that some of the original founding fathers of ACT are solidly back on board. Having Prebble as Campaign Manager will give donors confidence that donations will be out to good use.

ACT are not going to get nine MPs. But if they can get at least two MPs (needs 1.2% just 0.1% more than last time) then that will give them an ongoing presence in Parliament and an ability to keep growing without the distractions of the past.

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Audrey on reading and driving

September 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young takes a trip down memory lane to the last MP accussed of reading while driving. It was Richard Prebble, who was then Transport Minister and it turned into a Privileges Committee hearing!

The case of Dr Paul Hutchison reading while driving may remind some of you with a few grey hairs of the furore some years ago over the claims that Richard Prebble had been seen driving while reading – a serious allegation for a Transport Minister as he was at the time. …

It was the subject of a privileges committee hearing though the privileges case was not about the driving perse, but commentary and questions around it. Both Prebble and Radio Windy broadcaster Chris Gollins were “charged” with contempt of Parliament. …

On September 22 1986 Mr Chris Gollins in his regular commentary on Wellington’s Radio Windy stated that the Minister of Transport, the Hon Richard Prebble, had been observed on the previous day driving for a considerable period through Wellington while reading what appeared to be a copy of a Sunday newspaper spread across his steering wheel. …

The Radio Windy commentaries had two immediate consequences. Mr Winston Peters, MP, who had asked the question, raised the Minister’s reply as a matter of privilege on the ground that it had been given with the intention of deliberately misleading the House. At almost the same time, the Minister raised the commentaries as a matter of privilege on the ground that they misrepresented the proceedings of Parliament and reflected on him as a member by libelling him in his capacity as a Member of Parliament.

The committee heard evidence from Mr and Mrs Gollins, senior, the parents of Mr Chris Gollins who had observed Mr Prebble driving on the Sunday, from Mr Chris Gollins and from Mr Prebble. Mrs Prebble, who was a passenger in the car on that day, was unable to appear, but stated by telegram that Mr Prebble had not been reading while he was driving.

The committee has no doubt of the honesty of the evidence given by Mr and Mrs Gollins senior. They were both truthful witnesses endeavouring to assist the committee to the best of their ability. It was in fact only Mrs Gollins who had observed Mr Prebble for any period of time – Mr Gollins having concentrated on his own driving and only having glanced into Mr Prebble’s car while both cars were waiting at a set of traffic lights. Mrs Gollins testified
that she had seen Mr Prebble driving though Wellington central with a newspaper on the steering wheel and that at one point while the car was at a traffic light, he had made what she took to be a remark to Mrs Prebble based on what she had seen in the newspaper.

Mr Prebble strenuously denied that he had been reading the newspaper at any time. He gave evidence that he had purchased groceries and a number of newspapers on the day in question and had placed the newspapers in his lap towards the steering wheel but that he had not read these papers while he was driving the vehicle.

Mrs Gollins rang her son shortly after she arrived at her home that day. This was done in the expectation that Mr Chris Gollins would use the item in his commentary. …However although the first commentary expressly states that Mr Prebble had been observed reading a newspaper while he was driving, it is clear from the evidence that neither at that time or later, did Mr and Mrs Gollins state to their son that Mr Prebble had been reading the newspaper.

This was a conclusion drawn by Mr Chris Gollins, it was not a statement made by the principal witnesses themselves even though Mrs Gollins agreed in evidence that the conclusion was reasonably drawn by her son. Mrs Gollins stated that her son added this conclusion in broadcast on his own initiative.

And the conclusion:

Mr Prebble’s answer to the question in the House was a completely accurate reply and the allegation against him of contempt by lying completely insupportable….A minority of the committee considers that Mr Prebble’s reply was misleading…he was observed driving for a considerable period and a newspaper was spread across the steering wheel. The minority considers that it is a natural inference from the position of the paper that Mr Prebble was reading it at some point on his drive. In these circumstances a minority of the committee would find that Mr Prebble did mislead the House.

It finds [Chris Gollins and Capital City Radio] to have committed a contempt in the broadcast of September 24. The committee believes it was a misunderstanding as to the nature of the Minister’s reply which led Mr Chris Gollins to broadcast the offending remarks….in these circumstances the committee is disposed to recommend to the House that no further action be taken.

Geoffrey Palmer chaired the committee. Also on it were Bill Birch, Michael Cullen, Doug Kidd and Frank O’Flynn.

I presume Kidd and Birch were in the minority. Regardless a fascinating trip down memory lane.

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