Campbell v Brown

October 17th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I agree with this column by Trans-tasman:

Whatever one feels about the particulars of the show – and we’ll get to this shortly – let us be grateful for one thing: it has been a long time since regular interviews with senior politicians had an impact on political discourse. Certainly Campbell’s 7pm opposition on the state owned television channel is so fluffy and light it makes the Beatrix Potter stories look like Dostoyevsky.

But Campbell did rather let him- self down. Advocacy journalism has its place but when you invite the other side on to put their side, they need to be given space to do so. Campbell’s questions all started from the premise oil exploration is intrinsically the devil’s work and will always produce a Gulf of Mexico spill. He also let it get very personal – but then so did Bridges – even more so.

Unfortunately Campbell followed it up the next night with a cringingly sympathetic interview with disgraced Auckland Mayor Len Brown. While Bridges, who was there to defend a policy decision, was treated like a Mr Big of drug dealing; Brown, whose moral choices have caused huge hurt to people who love him, was treated like an innocent victim of some unfortunate accident.

Advocacy journalism can be done in a professional and dis- passionate way: indeed, to work, it has to be. When it becomes personal, it loses not only integrity but effectiveness.

I think this piece is fair. Simon Bridges did let it get personal and got too heated, but so did John Campbell. And Campbell was incredibly unbalanced who as Trans-tasman says treats oil companies as evil criminal syndicates. I have no problems with advocacy journalism, but don’t be surprised if people won’t go on their show if they think you’re not interested a balanced debate – just pilloring one side of the issue.

And the Len brown interview was disgracefully light. He avoided anything resembling a hard question, such as did Len Brown know who sent the threatening text to Chuang. It was like a NZ version of Oprah.

In a similar vein, Russell Brown has devoted an entire column to the Len Brown issue. Except in his 1,32 words on the issue he spends 1,181 words on the the so called centre-right people involved and just 51 words on the role of Len Brown. That is almost hysterically comical. The most Russell could muster was to say it was poor judgement to bonk at work and he can no longer play the family-man card!

 

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Dom Post on OSH changes

August 12th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

It is a rare feat for a government of any hue to embark on changes to workplace laws that win the approval of employers and unions alike.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges has managed to achieve that with the overhaul of health and safety rules and regulations he revealed last week.

The package activates nearly all the recommendations from the Independent Task Force on Workplace Health and Safety, which was set up following the Pike River Coal mining tragedy.

The fact the measures have been broadly welcomed by the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ is a good indication the task force struck the right balance between the need to reduce on-the-job accidents  and strangling businesses with red tape.

I think the key thing is the flexibility for smaller businesses, as a one size fits all prescription would be very bad,

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That would have cost Greenpeace a lot of money

July 18th, 2013 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Greenpeace has erected a huge billboard in central Wellington accusing Energy Minister Simon Bridges of misleading Parliament over a meeting he had with oil company Shell.

The billboard, at the corner of Manners St and Cuba St, is almost 300 square metres and says: “Simon Bridges Pants on Fire”.

Greenpeace said Mr Bridges misled Parliament over his contact with Shell about a controversial Crown Minerals Bill amendment covering deep-sea protests.

The sanctions were rushed into law in May without public consultation

It later emerged Mr Bridges had met Shell in February, two weeks before taking a paper on the protest changes to cabinet. …

Mr Bridges said while the Opposition and Greenpeace may wish otherwise, there was no conspiracy.

“I was not, at any time, lobbied by Shell or anyone else to make the changes to the Crown Minerals Act … I met with Shell, but the issue was not discussed. Ministers regularly meet with business. However, decisions are made by Cabinet.

I wonder how you’d feel if you donated money to Greenpeace thinking they will use it to help the environment, and instead they spend what must be at least ten thousand dollars on a billboard to call a Minister a liar (without proof). Their money, they can do what they want with it.  But remember they are fighting in court for the right to be a charity not a lobby group.

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At least they used a nice photo.

He said he was “chuffed” about the billboard.

“As a boy from Tauranga, I’ve always wanted my name up in lights in the big city. Now it’s happened and I managed to get Greenpeace to pay for it.”

Simon should ask them to do one in Tauranga also – should help increase his already massive majority.

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Hooton on the Norway model

June 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton writes at NBR:

In the 1960s and ’70s, Norway’s mainly left-wing governments decided to make their country of four million rich.  In 1963, they asserted sovereign rights to North Sea natural resources; exploration began in the mid-’60s; a state-owned petroleum company, Statoil, was launched in 1972; and the profits, taxes and royalties later put into the government’s petroleum fund, set up in 1990.

The fund is now worth approximately NZ$860 billion, or around $172,000 per Norwegian.  By 2030, it is forecast to be worth as much as NZ$4 trillion, or around $800,000 per Norwegian, and exists primarily to pay generous superannuation.

Meanwhile, Statoil has evolved into a classic mixed-ownership model company, with the government owning two thirds and the remainder trading on the Oslo and New York stock exchanges.  It is now the world’s 38th largest public company with a market value of NZ$98 billion and profits of $15.6 billion.  This is more than the entire NZX.

The thinking behind Norway’s approach is that a country’s natural reserves are intergenerational property, they are worth nothing under the ground, and the industries are inherently unsustainable: eventually, even if far in the future, the field will run dry.

The best strategy, therefore, is to get it out of the ground as soon as possible, monetise it, but avoid an economic sugar rush by investing the money for future generations.

As opposed to the competing strategy of never ever dig anything up or drill for anything.

Oil is already New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner, after dairy, meat and wood. The government collects around $400 million in royalties each year, plus another $300 million in company tax.  The present value of future royalty income alone, just from known reserves, is an estimated $3.2 billion.

Relatively conservative MBIE studies suggest that, if exploration continues to grow at current rates, royalties could yield another $5.3 billion in present value terms.  If there is faster growth in exploration, the estimate is $9.5 billion.

Even that may be conservative.  It has been suggested the value of our offshore oil reserves could be in the trillions.  Solid Energy isn’t a very good precedent right now, but New Zealand could choose the Norwegian Statoil model to secure that wealth.

Currently, oil royalties just go into the consolidated fund, to pay for everything from welfare payments to Wellington arts festivals.

The risk Mr Weake identifies is that, if large oil deposits were found, the temptation for a government would be to put the money into something to help it through the next election.  He argues we should establish cross-party agreement now on what we would do with that wealth.

He is surely right.  God knows what decisions a desperate John Key and Bill English would make – let alone a desperate David Shearer and Russel Norman – if we struck oil in the lead up to a close 2017 re-election campaign.

I am sure Russel Norman would refuse to spend any money earnt from dirty oil!

So here’s some friendly advice to the minister: have a chat with Mr Weake and his industry colleagues, take a trip to Oslo and the North Sea, face down the crypto-anarcho-neosyndicalist Greens, achieve consensus with Labour, and get New Zealand’s equivalent of Norway’s oil fund and even Statoil up and running before the election.

One could call it Kiwioil!

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Labour inspector priorities

June 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Active monitoring of Easter trading law breaches may be scrapped in favour of giving labour inspectors more time to investigate migrant worker exploitation.

While it is illegal for most businesses to operate on Good Friday and Easter Sunday except in certain tourist areas, many take the risk of a fine and open anyway.

Labour inspectors conduct checks on which businesses are open and also respond to complaints.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges signalled yesterday that in the future officials may rely solely on complaints because inspection staff were needed elsewhere.

“There are some very serious issues in relation to migrant workers and exploitation in this country,” he said.

“It is a question of using our resources and the labour inspectorate better.”

This could mean “not necessarily having inspectors out on every corner on Easter trading weekends, enforcing the laws”, he said.

“I don’t think, and my sense is, New Zealanders wouldn’t necessarily want us to be over-enforcing that, having inspectors out there all the time.”

Hear, hear. Acting on complaints received is one thing, but sending the holiday police proactively around shops is too zealous.

And I agree that abuse of some migrant workers is a far bigger issue.

Darien Fenton, Labour’s spokeswoman for labour issues, said migrant exploitation affected thousands of people, especially in Auckland.

The number of inspections was “far from satisfactory” with only 35 inspectors covering the entire country.

However, she was unimpressed that resources may be taken away from policing Easter trading, saying it was “tacit approval” of law breaking.

I don’t want to see any worker exploited, and actually, requiring people to work on Easter Sunday is exploitation of the law.”

This could be out of an Orwell novel. No employer can legally force staff to work on Easter Sunday. But some employees volunteer to work because they want to earn extra money. Darien is against employees being able to earn higher wages!

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Fewer WoF checks

January 27th, 2013 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

Simon Bridges has announced:

Changes to New Zealand’s warrant of fitness system, which will see annual inspections for cars registered after 2000, will save motorists time and money and will also focus on road safety, says Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

The key changes to the warrant of fitness system (WoF) include:

  • An initial inspection for new cars, followed by annual inspections once  vehicles are three years old

  • Annual inspections for vehicles three years and older and first registered on or after 1 January 2000

  • Six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before 1 January 2000

Excellent. I find the six month WOF checks on relatively new cars a silly hassle and a waste of time and money.

The Motor Trade Assn will of course be unhappy, because they own a chain of testing stations. But mechanical defects are implicated in only 2.5% of vehicle crashes and are the sole cause in only 0.4% – experts have said the impact on safety will be minimal.

Ministry of Transport research shows that the package of changes will benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year, and by at least $1.8 billion over 30 years.  This includes savings in inspection and compliance costs, justice and enforcement costs, and time spent by motorists getting their WoF.

Mr Bridges says these savings will have a flow-on benefit for the wider economy.

The MTA have also said there will be 2,000 jobs lost due to this decision. Now of course that is a nonsense figure, but even if it was true their argument is flawed. The purpose of WOF checks is not to create jobs for garages, If that was the purpose, we’d have monthly WOF checks.

An economy does better when people get to voluntarily choose what they spend their money on. The annual saving of $160 million will benefit other areas of the economy.

The debate should be about balancing risk and cost.  I think this new regime is a far better balance than the old one.

The AA (which unlike the MTA has no commercial interests involved in the decision) has pointed out:

New Zealand has the most frequent vehicle safety inspection in the world. No other country requires cars aged 6 years or older (most of our fleet) to be tested twice a year.

Some countries have an annual inspection, and many only every two years. Others, like much of Australia and the United States, have no regular inspection at all.

Most vehicles in New Zealand are tested every 6000km. In Britain they’re tested every 19,000km, and in Germany vehicles travel about 32,000km between inspections.

Yet despite these differences in inspection frequency the number of crashes caused by vehicle faults in New Zealand is about the same as other countries at about 2.5 per cent – or less than half a per cent where it is the sole cause.

This suggests that inspection frequency is not a silver bullet.

The question is, can we have a less-frequent test without increasing crash rates, and the international evidence suggests we can.

This is a good example of the Government acting in the public interest, and refusing to bow to a scare campaign by vested interests. We need more decisions like this.

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Key kept that close to his chest

January 22nd, 2013 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

Well John Key managed to surprise me and most other people, and has done a quite significant reshuffle, with a substantial rejuvenation of the Ministry.

Those leaving the Ministry are:

  • David Carter to become Speaker
  • Kate Wilkinson
  • Phil Heatley

Kate and Phil have performed well in their portfolios, and their departures are not sackings. It is simply the reality I talked about this morning that you need rejuvenation.

Promoted direct into Cabinet is Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who has become Minister of Food Safety, Civil Defence and Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Education and Immigration. She will be the youngest female Minister in National’s history.

Senior Whip Michael Woodhouse becomes a Minister outside Cabinet as Minister of Immigration, Veterans’ Affairs and Associate Transport.

Simon Bridges moves into Cabinet from outside and gets more grunty portfolios of Labour and Energy.

Oh and as expected Nick Smith moves back into Cabinet as Housing and Conservation Minister. Paula Bennett is made Associate Housing.

Nathan Guy as expected gets Primary Industries and Jo Goodhew Associate.

Chris Tremain pciks up Local Government Minister.

And in a very good move Steven Joyce is put in charge of Novopay, and fixing the problems there.

The caucus will need to elect a new senior whip, but I can’t imagine any reason whu junior whip Louise Upston won’t succeed to that – so the focus is probably more on who from 2011 may step up to become junior whip.

I’m delighted that the PM has been bolder than expected, and effectively brought forward what I thought would be a year end reshuffle. And I’m looking forward to the new Ministers making a difference in their new portfolios.

Big thanks to Phil and Kate also for their service.

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New Minister announced

April 2nd, 2012 at 1:39 pm by David Farrar

Congrats to Simon Bridges who has been appointed Consumer Affairs Minister, plus Associate Transport and Climate Change. It was inevitable Simon would become a Minister at some stage – after three years and four months is pretty good time-wise.

Chris Tremain gets promoted to Cabinet, drops Consumer Affairs and gains Internal Affairs.

Amy Adams picks up Environment in exchange for Internal Affairs. A big vote of confidence in her abilities.

Tim Groser gets Climate Change (he already had the international negotiations side of it) and David Carter gets Local Government.

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Oh dear – calling a Maori MP perma-tanned

March 8th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

In the House yesterday:

Simon Bridges: You’d be complaining.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The perma-tanned member opposite argues that this is a legitimate power of Government, but he flies in the face of the fact that 90 percent of New Zealanders would say that when only one in five burglaries is being closed by our boys and girls in blue—

Hon Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I do not think it is appropriate for a member of this Committee to refer to a member who happens to be Māori as “perma-tanned”, and frankly I think it is offensive.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I nearly pulled the member up. It is out of order, and I would ask him to desist from using that kind of referencing to another member.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I withdraw and apologise, and it was absolutely nothing to do with the member’s ethnicity, of which I was henceforth unaware. 

Simon may live in Tauranga, but no that is not a tan – it is his skin colour.

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Imagine if a National MP had said that of a Labour MP? I’m sure it would be with the Human Rights Commission by now.

Incidentially for those wondering Simon’s father was Ngati Maniapoto, and Simon is related to former Labour Minister Koro Wetere.

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Fashion Policeman Bridges

June 9th, 2011 at 12:48 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reports:

The MP voted second sexiest man in Parliament has slammed the fashion sense of some of his colleagues.

National’s Simon Bridges told TV ONE’s Breakfast that some politicians are not adhering to the dress code when in the debating chamber.

“I’m talking track pants, sweat shirts you name it I’ve seen them,” he said. …

“I’ve actually thought about this for a while and I’ve seen women on all sides of the house wearing things I don’t think they should get away with,” he said.

“I’m just saying, the rules are the rules, I say suits for men and business attire for women.”

He said he had kept quiet about it in the past, but is considering taking a more pro-active approach to his fashion criticism.

Simon is a brave man. Maybe he should be invited to the next meeting of the National Women’s Caucus to elaborate in more detaul on which MPs have been wearing things that they shouldn’t get away with.

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Bob’s testicles are back

March 21st, 2011 at 11:29 am by David Farrar

The BoP Times reports:

A war of words has erupted between former and current local National Party MPs over a controversial potential new law.

Former MP Bob Clarkson has accused current Tauranga MP Simon Bridges of toeing the party line over the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill, while Mr Bridges has said Mr Clarkson “doesn’t much like dealing with complicated issues like this”.

Mr Clarkson also said he tried regaining National’s Tauranga candidacy this year partly to stop the controversial foreshore legislation reaching law.

Bob is only one year older than Jim Anderton, so must be inspired by him.

I’m pretty confident that Simon’s majority will remain in the five figure range. He is extremely popular in Tauranga.

The Marine and Coastal Areas Bill is generating a significant level of angst – especially in provincial cities and towns.

The fact that Hone and others are campaigning against it, because they thinks the test for customary title are far too tough, indicates to me that the balance is about right.

As the NZ Herald reported, the actual difference in positions between National, ACT and Labour are not in fact great – they agree on a lot more than they disagree.

One major point of difference is that ACT believe the courts should set the test for customary title. This is an entirely legitimate view. What isn’t mentioned is that it is quite possible the courts (and it would probable y eventually be a decision of the Supreme Court lead by Chief Justice Elias) would set an easier test for customary title.

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A late night speech

December 13th, 2010 at 5:11 am by David Farrar

What do you do when it is 11.45 pm at night, and you suddenly find out you have to give a speech on a Customs bill. The MP for Tauranga did well in the circumstances!

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The biggest losers

July 1st, 2010 at 5:36 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports the winners of the weight loss challenge amongst Maori MPs:

  • Tau Henare – from 104 kg to 96 kg – 8 kgs
  • Mita Ririnui – from 100 kg to 92 kg – 8 kgs
  • Kelvin Davis – from 113 kg to 106 kg – 7 kgs
  • Shane Jones – from 109 kg to 103 kg – 6 kg
  • Simon Bridges – from 88 kg to 86 kg – 2 kg
  • Parekura Horomia – from 155 kg to did not report
  • Hone Harawira – from 107 kg to did not report
  • Paul Quinn – from 112 kg to did not report
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Press Freedom Debate

May 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

To mark Press Freedom Day, there is a debate tonight (7 pm) at the Backbencher on the moot “That politicians pay the price of a free press”.

The cost is $25, which includes finger food. Proceeds go to the Asia-Pacific Solidarity and Safety Fund which basically provides welfare to the families of journalists killed doing their job.

The debaters are:

Affirmative

  1. Annette King
  2. Darren Hughes
  3. Simon Bridges

Negative

  1. Tom Scott
  2. Jane Clifton
  3. Barry Soper

They are all very amusing speakers, so should be a fun evening.

You can pay at the door, but if you do plan to go, it is useful to e-mail Brent Edwards so they can cater for the right numbers.

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Related?

April 29th, 2010 at 3:42 pm by David Farrar

A reader suggests a resemblance. Both are former lawyers who are now in politics for centre-right parties.

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Peters rules out Tauranga

March 19th, 2010 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

New Zealand first leader Winston Peters will not contest the Tauranga seat at the next election.

Mr Peters was the MP for Tauranga for 21 years before being ousted by National’s Bob Clarkson in 2005.

Simon Bridges won it again for National at the last election.

No surprise as Winston now lives in Auckland.

Of course the fact that Simon beat Winston by a massive 32% – 57% to 25%, may be a small factor in it also!

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Bridges reported to be okay after counselling

February 14th, 2010 at 11:29 am by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Prime Minister John Key might be on the wrong side of 40, married, and with a job that is more stressful than sexy, but that has not stopped Kiwis voting him as the country’s hottest politician.

The 48-year-old pipped (with 43% of votes) his much younger, and some would say more cosmetically appealing colleague, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges (33%), in an online survey of 700 Kiwis.

Friends and family of Simon Bridges have been keeping a non-stop vigil on him, since he received the news that a 48 year old father of two was judged hotter than him.

After multiple interventions and counselling, we think he will be okay and over time will recover. But members of the public are asked to help safeguard his mental health and not mention the poll results to him.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye took out the female title with 32% of the votes, followed by another National MP, Melissa Lee (24%), and young Labour MP Jacinda Ardern (19%).

Kaye said that although she thought it was “lovely” that she had been chosen as the nation’s hottest female politician, she was not sure whether it would help her love life. Kaye is single.

“Yesterday I turned 30 and I was feeling down in the dumps, I had the 30 blues, but this news has just made it all better – it has made my day.

“I just hope there weren’t too many of my relatives in the survey sample.”

Good God, I thought Nikki was the MP for Auckland Central, not the MP for Tasmania.

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Animal cruelty bill to be fast-tracked?

January 31st, 2010 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

The SST report:

TOUGHER PENALTIES against those who harm animals look certain to be fast-tracked after Prime Minister John Key last night said his government would consider the controversial issue at Tuesday’s caucus meeting.

A spokesman for Key said: “The prime minister has been appalled by the recent animal cruelty cases.”

Key’s intervention means the government is likely to adopt National MP Simon Bridges’ private member’s bill, which proposes increasing the maximum jail term for animal cruelty from three years to five. If the government fails to act, Bridges’ bill could be debated in parliament only if it is drawn, lottery-style, from a ballot.

Key’s spokesman indicated the government would move quickly. “The government supports ensuring we have appropriate measures to deal with these issues. The Simon Bridges member’s bill will be considered for adoption as a government bill at an upcoming caucus.”

Another option would be for Simon to seek leave of the House for its introduction, without going through the ballot. It may well be possible no MP would object, considering the recent court cases.

Labour leader Phil Goff yesterday said the opposition would support Bridges’ bill to the committee stage, where it can be debated, and amended if necessary.

Good.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei had signed the Paw Justice petition and is likely to support Bridges’ private member’s bill, and Act leader Rodney Hide supported tougher penalties because “the next step after cruelty to animals was cruelty to humans”.

Also good. That indicates there may be a reasonable chance of getting leave to introduce it straight away.

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Sickening

January 25th, 2010 at 2:46 pm by David Farrar

The Gisborne Herald reports:

Te Ahu Aaron Mankelow, 31, pleaded guilty to five charges of wilful cruelty to animals after he recorded himself on a cellphone tipping out five kittens from a box for his dog, and urging his dog to eat them.

It arose from an incident at a party at a house in Childers Road last September, prosecutor Vicki Thorpe told the court.

Mankelow was going into the property with his 18-month old pitbull dog Pepe.

Something in a truck parked alongside attracted the dog’s attention. When Mankelow looked inside, he saw five kittens, their eyes not yet open, in a cardboard box.

He took the box from the truck to a reserve alongside the property.

He tipped the kittens out of the box for his dog, which attacked them one by one, urged on by Mankelow, who recorded the whole attack on his cellphone.

All of the kittens were killed.

Someone called an SPCA officer who identified the remains of five kittens, with broken bones. At least one kitten had been disembowelled.

The officer estimated they were aged between six and 10 weeks.

Mankelow initially denied his actions, but then admitted it after being shown the video.

The law change promoted by Simon Bridges, increasing the maximum penalty for this sort of vile behaviour, can’t happen too soon.

Calling for a pre-sentence report, Judge Spear warned Mankelow that although community or home detention was a possibility, he could not rule out prison. This depended on the judge on the day.

Anything less than prison should not be a possibility. The maximum sentence is three years, and this case is so vile, that it should be at the higher end.

And the sick fucker is so proud of what he did, he recorded what he did on his cellphone.

This also reinforces my prejudices against pitbull owners. People who decide to buy a pitbull, rarely do so for good reasons.

His relatives hurled abuse and obscene gestures at reporters as they sought to question them. One member of the family told The Herald the incident had been over-publicised.

Nowhere near enough, I say. I hope the media show off who these relatives were hurlign abuse defending their kitten killing socio-path.

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While on holiday …

January 22nd, 2010 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

I’m holidaying in Mt Maunganui, but somehow ended up being a photographer at the announcement of $27 million of government funding for extensions at Tauranga Hospital.

Tony Ryall with Simon Bridges making the announcement in front of the DHB Chair. Tony enthused about being Minister of Health, declaring it is the best portfolio you can have in Government – a sentiment not shared by too many of his predecessors!

See that sign in the background of Simon, being interviewed by the local BOP Times reporter? Yes it does say “We love you Simon”. The (as it happens all female) staff of the pathology lab put the sign up when they realised the announcement was outdoors. Simon didn’t even see it until a reporter pointed it out to him. He of course them popped inside to thank the staff for their sign! I don’t think Simon has to worry about his majority!

And if you wonder how Tony Ryall manages to get such good press – it is because he only allows National MPs to interview him!

Actually it is not as bad as it looks. The camera man was reading out the questions from the reporter (whose voice will no doubt be dubbed in later), but they needed Simon to hold the mike and stand where the reporter normally would, so Tony looks in the right direction.

Apart from my amateur photography, just been enjoying the beach and shops up here. The weather is lovely!

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Dom Post on animal cruelty

January 18th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The never-ending litany of what human beings do to animals every year in this country makes the average person feel sick. But a group of people delights in the thought – and the act – of torturing animals, sometimes someone else’s pet.

If National’s Tauranga MP, Simon Bridges, is lucky, such persecutors will face greater jail time in future. When Parliament resumes, he will put into the members’ ballot a private member’s bill to increase the maximum penalty for wilful ill-treatment of animals from three, to five years’ imprisonment.

His rationale is simple. “A tougher penalty,” he says, “would … be in line with increasingly clear research that those who do serious harm to animals are much more likely to perpetrate family, as well as other violence. In addition, the research shows that psychopathic offenders, often as first offending, demonstrate a propensity for cruelty through abuse of animals”.

Mr Bridges is right. The FBI in the United States has recognised the connection since the 70s, when it analysed the lives of serial killers.

Such individuals have their wiring seriously mucked up. I can understand why people commit most crimes, but can’t understand how anyone can get pleasure from torturing animals.

It is to be hoped Mr Bridges has the luck of the Greens in having his bill chosen from the ballot. Or he might be able to persuade ministerial colleagues whose portfolios touch on the subject – such as Corrections Minister Judith Collins or Agriculture Minister David Carter – to sponsor his measure as a Government Bill. This initiative is overdue and such support would give it heft.

It will be good to see the penalties increased, regardless of how it happens.

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Harsher penalties for animal cruelty

January 2nd, 2010 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A first-term National Party MP is seeking cross-party support for a law change for harsher penalties in cases of extreme cruelty to animals.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges has drafted a private member’s bill to raise the maximum penalty for wilful ill-treatment under the Animal Welfare Act from three to five years in prison.

Mr Bridges said tougher penalties for animal abuse were backed by research showing cruelty to animals was an early warning sign of more psychopathic violence later in life.

Murderer Antonie Dixon was an example of this, said Mr Bridges.

“It is time to get tough on really serious animal cruelty. The public’s attitude has hardened on this and so should court sentences,” said the former Crown prosecutor.

“This is about sending a message that Parliament thinks this offending is abhorrent to our society. It’s more than not okay, it’s an outrage.”

I hope all parties will support this bill, if selected. Increasing the maximum penalties is the only way to send a message to Judges that they should increase the penalties they are handing out, which are too light in my opinion:

For example, Wayne Williams, 34, was sentenced to four months in jail for beating his partner’s dog with a metal pole before strangling it to death.

And Peter James Cooksley, 48, shot a cat with a crossbow bolt through the abdomen for entering his house – but was fined just $500. Mr Kerridge said many acts of animal cruelty were committed by people to torment their partners, including a case where a man was sent to prison for 2 months for throwing three kittens against a wall.

The longest sentence ever given out has been 12 months, reduced to 10 months on appeal.

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National Conference wrapup

August 4th, 2009 at 12:37 pm by David Farrar

I’m old enough to have attended the last victory (won Government) conference for National. It was in 1991 and was also in Christchurch. Both saw a new Government nine months or so into office, and both coping with a nasty recession.

However in 1991, the conference was not just attended by the party faithful, but there were around 8,000 protesters, close to 1,000 Police (they cancelled leave for every police officer in the entire South Island), and bomb squad sniffer dogs. While the 2009 National Conference did not attract even a sole protester despite National now being in Government. I can’t ever recall a conference by National in Government that didn’t attract protests before.

And in spring of 1901, National was at 22% in the polls – 20% behind Labour. As we head into spring 2009, National is at 56% – 25% ahead of Labour. A remarkable contrast.

So the conference was obviously a buoyant one, with delegates and MPs in good heart. It was at the Christchurch Convention Centre, and here is the view from the Crowne Plaza next door.

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The PM’s speech was of course the highlight, and it was very good planning he used it to announce a timely and major initiative. In Government, people like a speech of substance, not just bashing the other side. In fact John did not mention the Opposition once during his speech.

Bill English gave a very sober and insightful speech on the realities of the economy and the challenges ahead. And I thought Simon Power’s speech on all the justice initiatives was first class. Also was good to see the Young Nats President Alex Mitchell use his speech not just to fellate the party, as Young Nats sometimes do, but demand action on voluntary membership of student associations and warn against any moves to increase the alcohol purchase age from 18 to 20.

What didn’t work so well was the Ministerial forums. Maybe I’m just getting old and cynical, but hearing five minute brag sessions from Ministers about what they are doing turns me off. I’d rather have less Ministers with more time to talk policy in detail, than giving each Minister five minutes and time for only a couple of questions. I did enjoy joking that anyone who wanted to ask Paula Bennett a question should be obliged to first state their IRD number :-)

Even more than that, what I personally would have preferred is a Ministerial Q&A session – say for 90 minutes. I know this was meant to be the victory conference, so maybe they may do it next year. But I think giving delegates the chance to ask questions of any and all Ministers is a good look, and gives delegates more of a chance for interaction.

Then we had the Board and Presidential elections. I’ve known the five people elected to the Board for pretty much a decade or more. They are all good people, who will do a diligent job on the Board. There are not any of them that I would not want on the Board as they bring a good mixture of skills, experience and geography.

But having said that, I am disappointed Wira Gardiner did not get on. As I had a role in the vote count, I thought it was inappropriate to “take sides” before the vote, but I do not share any of the reservations that Whale Oil had towards Wira. I’ve known Wira since his first wife was a candidate and he has been involved for at least two decades, including service as a Vice-President of the Party.

His record of achievement speaks for itself, in that he is now formally Sir Wira. Both Labour and National Governments have used him as a trouble shooter to sort out dysfunctional agencies. Someone with that governance experience would have been well placed to contribute to the Party’s Board. Plus there were also some obvious advantages in terms of relationships with the Maori Party – but that is a secondary consideration to me. Merit is what I value.

So why did Wira not get elected? Well there was a variety of reasons. Hekia, his wife, being an MP was one of them – but not really the major factor in my opinion. The main reason is that Wira was touted as a potential President, despite not being a current Board member. And it seemed there was a reasonable chance of Wira becoming President if he did get elected. By no means certain, but a reasonable chance.

What this meant, is those who did not want Wira to be President, followed Whale Oil’s advice and ranked him lowly to keep him off the Board. I have no doubt he would have been elected if he ruled out standing for President. Now I was not a delegate myself, so didn’t have to think about who I would leave off the Board if Wira got on. As I said, they are all good people – but there were only five vacancies.

Peter’s election as President was not a surprise. One press gallery journalist had quite a laugh on Sunday morning when they saw on my laptop I already had written a story announcing Peter’s election as President, and was just waiting for the official announcement to click the publish button.

I believe the number one objective for the President is to raise the money the party needs to function, and win elections. Peter’s business background should do him well in that regard and again respectivelly disagreeing with Whale, I expect Peter will remain President through until the 2011 election at least. Of course it will be up to delegates at the 2010 conference to make that decision on re-election to the Board.

Also have to mention the well deserved awarding of the Sir George Chapman trophy for service to the party went to our own blogging Homepaddock – Ele Ludemann. I won’t even mention how she was alseep in her room when they awarded her the prize :-)

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This is a hazy photo of the screen, but had to share this photo of Tauranga MP Simon Bridges forming part of the conference dinner entertainment, Simon took it all in good humour as the entertainers put him into a number of poses.

The conference saw Judy Kirk retire as President also after just under seven years in the job. This makes her the third equal longest serving President. Sir Alex McKenzie did 11 years, Sir George Chapman nine years and Sir Wilfred Sim and Ned Holt both also did seven years. I was counting votes during the farewell to Judy, but understand it was warmly given and received.

The number of people attending must be a record for a non election year. Around 700 people attended and there were 574 voting delegates. I saw many people there who hadn’t been to a conference for quite a few years.

It will be interesting to see what the mood is like in twelve months time at the 2010 conference.

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Bridges, Graham and Beaumont

January 16th, 2009 at 8:02 am by David Farrar

Today’s three MPs in the Herald:

Simon Bridges

New MP Simon Bridges wants New Zealanders to reconsider the right to silence for those accused of serious and sexual crimes and to trust juries with more information.

Mr Bridges, a former Crown prosecutor in Tauranga for eight years, used his maiden speech to challenge parts of the legal system, saying the accused’s right not to face questioning in cases such as rape put victims who had to face often gruelling cross-examinations in an uneven position.

“Martin Luther King jnr once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. In many trials I have seen injustices – indeed manifest indignities – performed on the weakest in our society as court rules work against them … in short, juries need to be trusted with more information and victims of sex crimes treated more evenly when compared to the accused.”

Mr Bridges told the Herald the question of whether an accused should face questioning was particularly relevant for sexual crimes or crimes against children where the victims themselves faced often gruelling cross-examination.

“I’m a reasonably experienced rape trial lawyer and I can think of specific women cross-examined for days, while the accuseds just sat on their hands and didn’t give evidence. There have been acquittals where I am sure factually that the accused was guilty.”

The right to silence has long been considered fundamental to the criminal law ethos of”innocent until proven guilty”.

Mr Bridges said he believed the law should be”rebalanced”and he intended to work on the issue as an MP.

He said juries should also be trusted with more information, such as previous convictions, in some cases as the current laws could obstruct a fair verdict.

Not sure I agree with Simon, but he makes a strong case about the unfairness of victims being cross-examined for days on end, and the accussed not having to give evidence at all. I’m more sympathethic though to his thoughts on juries having more information.

Kennedy Graham

Former diplomat and academic – most recently he lectured in international law at Canterbury and Victoria universities. Was involved in NZ establishing a nuclear-free zone, including fronting on it as a diplomat before the UN in Geneva and New York.

In his own words:
“We are drawing down on Earth’s natural resources, borrowing forward on the human heritage, irretrievably encroaching on our children’s right to inherit the Earth in a natural and sustainable state.”

It will be interesting to see what influence Kennedy has on the Greens foreign policy, as his views are presumably somewhat different from Keith Locke’s.

Carol Beaumont

Says her late father Ron takes credit for teaching her how to speak out and fostered debate, but also sowed the seeds of feminism in her when he dismissed her wish to follow in his footsteps and become a mechanic as “unsuitable for a girl”. She was chairwoman of the Melville High School Student Council, worked as a cleaner and was in the Cleaners’ Union.

In her own words:
“In the course of the campaign I saw the huge number of people who work for community good in sports groups, marae, in youth groups, in community safety groups, in churches and in community development initiatives. They are ambitious people. It is important to reflect on the meaning of the word ‘ambition’ because recently it has been used by many only in the context of the individual. It is more than that. I consider myself ambitious and have always wanted to use my skills in roles that challenge me but my real ambition is in wanting to make a difference for others.”

Beaumont was reasonably well regarded as CTU Secretary but her loss of Maungakiekie to National means she is reliant on keeping a high list place.

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Campbell Live from last week

November 21st, 2008 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Two of the new National MPs had features on Campbell Live last week. Had quite a few requests for them, so Whale has You Tubed them.

Simon Bridges – three minutes, 42 seconds

Nikki Kaye – four minutes, 20 seconds

Both really nice interviews. I did comment to both of them that the next time they are on Campbell Live, it will probably be because they have stuffed up badly – Government backbenchers do not normally make Campbell Live unless it is bad news :-)

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