Franks on abolishing parole

September 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks writes:

ACT and the Conservatives are making excellent criminal justice policy announcements. If both are in Parliament we might see an end to the cosy major party consensus that has fostered our high rates of serious violent and youth crime.

Garth McVicar’s announcement on parole is more straightforward than I had expected. Most criminals come up for parole at one third of their Judge-given sentence. Garth says:

“The Conservative Party will overhaul the parole system so that a Judge given sentence means what it says, 9 years will mean 9 years. Life will mean Life. The only function of the parole board will be to apply release conditions and ensure they are enforced”

So how would no parole work?

It seems that they would introduce the US Federal system introduced after 1996, when Bill Clinton reached across party lines and took the Republicans policy and ended federal parole. Instead, there is a period of mandatory supervision at the end of most sentences. 

Great! There is no evidence that parole works any better to reduce reoffending than supervision at the end of the judge-given sentence. 

I’d be interested to see data on this.

People worry that prison populations will explode. That has not been the inevitable experience elsewhere after parole has been cut back. Prison musters would likely drop after an initial rise while offenders worked out that a new sheriff had come to town. 

Some attribute the long drop in crime rates in the US, for example, at least partially to the increased deterrence of sentencing certainty. There is a good research consensus that severity of sentencing has much less deterrent power than speed and certainty of detection, conviction and punishment. Ending criminal expectation of parole dramatically increases certainty, and judges could afford to reduce sentence lengths.  

It would be logical to reduce a sentence length to take account of no parole.

But there is another reason why prison musters will not escalate nearly as much as some would theorise. Because much of the serious crime is committed by a relatively small population of career criminals, the change would  merely cancel for  those serious offenders, who accumulate records of hundreds of crimes, their brief parole excursions from prison to add to their tally. Instead they stay much longer where they cannot prey on fresh victims. 

I think this is right. A small core of criminals commit a huge amount of the crimes.

A bounty for electoral booklet botch ups

September 29th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

An unknown number of candidate profile electorate booklets  have been circulated with pages missing.

The mistakes seem likely to affect the result of the elections in affected areas, even if the number of booklets circulated is small, if the missing pages were concentrated in those areas;

Affected candidates could have a right to a new election;

Officials are downplaying the seriousness of the problem.

We’ve been instructed by a public spirited client to help shine a light on the problem. He’s instructed us to offer rewards for the necessary evidence. The announcement is set out below.

If it turns out that few deficient booklets were circulated, he will be relieved. He’ll feel this exercise will have been worth the expense, just for the reassurance that New Zealand is not as far toward casual corruption as he fears.  It will be worth it to know that a cover-up is not underway.

I agree missing pages in an electorate booklet is not a minor issue. The chances of getting elected if your profile is missing will be dramatically reduced.

Wellington specialist public law firm Franks & Ogilvie will pay rewards and prizes for whistle-blowers to establish the scale of the local election booklet botch-up.  A client who wishes to remain anonymous will fund the prizes and rewards.

“The client is appalled by what he fears is an official cover-up” said Stephen Franks, a principal of the public law specialist firm. “Candidates and people helping them face prison for breaching even trivial electoral rules without proof that the breach would change a single vote. Across the country hundreds of elected positions may be determined by a few votes.”

In Auckland alone, at the last election a number of local board positions were decided on margins of less than 10 votes, and the margin for election to Council was as low as 253 votes.” …

Delivery of booklets with relevant pages missing will earn $1500 for the person who delivers most before 5pm Monday 7 October, $600 for the next most, and $400 for the third most.  Please send to Franks & Ogilvie, PO Box 10388, Wellington.

The prizes will be paid only to collectors willing to give evidence if necessary, as to how they collected them.

Each booklet must be certified by the person who provides it to the collector, that it has not been mutilated or otherwise materially changed from the condition in which it was distributed, and that person must add their name and address where they received the booklet and contact email or phone number.

So if you have received a botched booklet, send them in and earn some money.

Is Labour’s policy in breach of the FTA they signed?

July 30th, 2013 at 5:27 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

The Labour Party’s new policy to prevent non-residents from buying existing houses seemed inconsistent with the equal treatment Article of the NZ China FTA. That FTA was a proudly claimed achievement of the last Labour PM – Helen Clark.

The FTA’s definition of “investor” refers to a person “who seeks to make, is making, or has made an investment….”. So it clearly looks at prospective investments.

But a technical reading of the equal treatment Article suggests that it may demand equal treatment once an investment has been made, but does not protect intending investors.

Under Article 138 of the NZ China FTA (National Treatment)  all investments and activities associated with such investments made by investors of both parties must be treated, “with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal”  no less favourably than investments of its own investors. The list does not include “acquisition” or similar words.

So under that provision a Chinese house buyer must be treated the same as a New Zealander after acquiring residential property, but the protection does not extend to prospective buyers. Whew for Labour!

But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).

Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.

So Chinese would-be  investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.

Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139.

The policy may also breach the Malaysia FTA and the ASEAN FTA it seems.

Also Rob Hosking at NBR reports:

It is a mark of how bogus the housing debate has become that Labour’s figures about foreign owners of New Zealand houses almost definitely include former leader Helen Clark and her four  houses.

The current Labour leader and Miss Clark’s successor as MP for Mt Albert, David Shearer, claimed at the weekend there are “more than 11,000 overseas investors [who] own properties here that they don’t live in”.

What Mr Shearer did not say is the figure comes from Inland Revenue’s numbers about “non-resident” taxpayers who pay taxes on houses they  own in New Zealand.

“Non-resident” taxpayers are largely made up of  expatriate New Zealanders and in this context are those who have gone overseas and who have rented out their properties here.

There are no figures on this but it is a highly common practice – although most who go overseas will have only one, or maybe two, properties to rent out and not, as in the case of Miss Clark, who departed to the United Nations in 2009, who owns four.

Half the Labour caucus have investment properties. If they all sold them to aspiring first home buyers, that would probably do more to help the market, than this policy!

Last year’s Productivity Commission report looked at the issue, but only in the context of immigrants buying houses.

In that context, it found the main inflow was – again– not from Asians, as Mr Shearer dog whistled at the weekend, but expatriate New Zealanders.

There is, the commission said, “no evidence of an inflow of foreign-born immigrants to an  area impacting on house prices”.

There is, though, “a strong positive relationship between inflows of returning New Zealanders into an area and local house prices (with a 1% increase in population resulting from an inflow of returning Kiwis associated with a 6%-9% increase in house prices)”.

The commission concluded the main cause for higher house prices in recent years is  shortage of supply, driven by a mix of investment nervousness since the end of 2007, plus poor regulation leading to slow consenting processes for new developments and some evidence of high building  costs because of a lack of competition.

Labour’s bid on housing, in short, is not aimed at what is causing problems in the housing market and will do nothing to solve them. It is aimed rather at the party’s political problems.

Mr Shearer’s weekend launch was a clear, unsubtle and some would say desperate bid to pick up votes from the segment of the population which does not like foreigners, especially foreigners of a different coloured skin, very much.

Labour is, in short, dog whistling for the New Zealand First and Green Party xenophobic vote.

It is classic dog whistle politics. Blame the immigrants and foreigners.

Malone on Sky City deal

July 28th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Dr Ryan Malone is a former Cabinet Officer staffer and a public law commentator. He writes in the Dom Post on the Sky City deal:

Can the SkyCity agreement, and the resulting legislation, be considered a breach of our unwritten constitution? The argument of constitutional impropriety rests on three pillars. None are very persuasive.

The first is that the legislation will benefit just one person, in this case SkyCity. This, it is argued, is offensive to the rule of law because legislation should be of general application to everyone.

This is certainly true of criminal laws passed by Parliament. Here we are all equal before the law. Yet outside of this area, Parliament regularly makes laws that benefit a single individual or group. Private bills by their very definition change the law for the benefit of a particular person or company.

Similarly, local bills relate to specific regions. Parliament gave Wanganui District Council the power to ban gang patches in parts of the town. Not all local authorities were given this power – just Wanganui District Council.

Perhaps more importantly, government bills are commonly passed that benefit one individual or industry group to the exclusion of others. Thus, individual iwi receive compensation packages through statutes that implement Treaty of Waitangi settlements with the Crown.

So that is the first point dealt with.

The second argument as to why the deal is unconstitutional is that by amending the Gambling Act in exchange for building the convention centre, the Government is “selling” a dispensation from the Gambling Act. …

But what is clear is that parties in government always face difficult tradeoffs when making big policy decisions. In this case the National Government – still facing challenging economic conditions – considers that the pros of having a privately funded national convention centre outweigh the cons. Not everyone will agree with that assessment, and they will have the opportunity to express their views at the next election. But hard policy choices do not automatically equate with governments running roughshod over our constitution. …

It also changed the Overseas Investment Act regulations to ward off the Canadian Pension Board’s takeover bid for Auckland Airport. The fact that many people opposed those decisions did not make the resulting laws unconstitutional. They were simply political decisions taken by the government of the day. The Government’s deal with SkyCity is no different.

And the third point:

The third reason why the deal is supposedly unconstitutional is that it “binds” a future government. Under the terms of the agreement, SkyCity is entitled to compensation if key parts of it are overturned. But it is not unusual for governments to have their hands tied by earlier decisions of Cabinet or Parliament.

For example, the current Government must pay Tainui and Ngai Tahu additional settlement money because of relativity clauses inserted in legislation passed by Parliament in the 1990s. In any event, it will always remain open for a future Parliament to revoke the deal and specifically rule out compensation to SkyCity.

Our Parliament is free to enact laws that remove rights without compensation and has done so in the past. The Government’s agreement with SkyCity is not contrary to New Zealand’s constitutional system. Fundamentally it is a political issue, not a legal one.

And one announced prior to the last election.

For a different view, there is this opinion from Stephen Franks.

Franks on Housing

March 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

Marcus Lush recorded an interview at 5-50am this morning with me on the pros and cons of banning foreigner purchases of houses here. …

I realised that the issues could be summed up simply. Prices go up when supply can’t increase to respond to demand. There is no a shortage of building supplies, or builders. So foreign buyers’ money can only affect prices if there is a shortage of land to build on. But New Zealand is not short of land. It is short of consents to use land. And probably more important than the supply of new land, is the cost, delay and risk in trying to intensify the use of land that is already built on, nearer the centre of our cities.

We need to build both upwards and outwards. We do need to intensify, but we also need more rational urban limits.

In other words, our housing problem is the inevitable consequence of the political success of selfish middle and upper class families, working with  their stupid green children. They enforce their aesthetic preferences for the status quo (labelled as ‘heritage’) by locking newcomers out of their leafy and quaint inner suburbs. The RMA has frozen the dynamic processes of rebuilding and intensification that have created all great cities (and our own towns and cities up till 3 decades ago. The result is that poorer people must pay for more expensive housing ever further from where the work is.

To blame the resulting prices on foreign money is a nice distraction from their own culpability, for the selfish generations, and the councillors and MPs who pander to them.

Nicely put. Blaming house prices on foreigners is just blatant xenophobia.

Franks on Auckland Council

July 20th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks writes in NZ Herald:

The Auditor-General is unlikely to fix Auckland Council member Cathy Casey’s complaint that the council was kept in the dark on the V8 race subsidy. The law setting up the Super City deliberately created a presidential mayoralty and gave councillors no clear rights to information.

It certainly does not protect council officers who want to provide unbiased information to councillors against the wishes of their bosses, the chief executive and the mayor.

The law may have been drafted out of frustration with years of indecision fuelled by endless reporting and consultation as excuses for inaction. Perhaps the law’s designers chose to give elected dictatorship a go instead.

Not quite an elected dictatorship. The Mayoral powers are quite weak compared to say Boris Johnson’s. They are stronger than other NZ councils, but not that strong.

Amazingly till now there has been little publicised protest at the constitutional barbarity of this structure. Without clear rights to the same information available to the executive they must monitor, councillors become spare wheels.

Councillors have never had a right to all the information management has, as far as I know.

Some have called the Auckland governance structure the corporate model. If so it is a poor copy. The company model is robust about directors’ rights to oversee management. Directors have an almost unrestricted right to information from anywhere in the company. 

I agree that a company director has rights to see pretty much anything from the general ledger to the petty cash reconciliation. But there is a difference between commercial directors and elected officials.

The Auckland mayor holds central power in a hybrid Westminster/presidential system without separation of powers. Unlike all other mayors in New Zealand he is not first among equals. He is the boss.

More like a senior colleague. He can not sack a Councillor, and has the same vote as a Councillor. What the Mayor does get is the ability to appoint Committee Chairs and Committees and to propose the Budget.

Worse, there is no equivalent to central government’s State Services Commission code for state servants, or the parliamentary conventions that oblige officials to provide honest and impartial advice to MPs in a select committee, and protect them from senior wrath when they give it.

Current law requires councils to have a code of conduct for councillors. It should be extended to officers.

Not a bad idea.

Auckland badly needs a constitutional upgrade. Version 2 should enshrine the right of councillors to information. It should protect and constrain council employees along the lines of the State Services Commission code that guides public servants and protects the impartiality of their service.

Auckland Constitution 2 should also require council consultants to certify their work to councillors. They are now a vital part of local government quality control.

With intense competition and Auckland being the major employer of many consultants, the temptation is too great for consultants to tell council officers (who control where the next contract goes) what they want to hear.

All sounds sensible suggestions.

Franks on Urewera sentences

May 28th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

It’s a good day for New Zealand.  Justice Hansen sentencing the Urewera four was having none of  what he called their “utterly implausible” excuses.  Well done, police and prosecutors.

 But a wider dividend goes well past the four.  So called “peace activists” will not rest easier tonight. Their cover is permanently blown by the terrorism evidence even though it could not be used. They know the police know who they are and what they mean by “peace”.  

Yes, I personally look forward to the next time Valerie Morse goes on about peace. She may not have been convicted of anything, but the sheer hypocrisy of preaching peace, and running around the bush practicing how to shoot people and use molotov cocktails means she’ll never be taken seriously again.

Even if our “terrorists” were more “Dad’s Army” than Baader Meinhof or Red Brigades,  some at least could have become more dangerous. Training camps sift out a hard core from the wannabes. Standard terrorist modus operandi is to process lots of amiable recruits and naive fellow travellers, searching for that nugget – the person willing to kill and be killed for the cause.  Being inept is not being innocuous.  

Yes, they were the equivalent of Dad’s Army.

There is no moral victory for the offenders and their dupes.  Refusing to account for yourself, whilst having your lawyers put forward hilarious explanations of innocence  and fighting strenuously to suppress contrary evidence is not a heroic stance. 

If the best argument was that they were training to be security guards in Iraq, I’d hate to see the even more implausible arguments they rejected as a defence.

And race had nothing to do with it. Dozens of armed police stormed Dotcom’s castle. Sobered by the Jan Molenaar police killing and siege, it is time to drop the nonsense about Tuhoe being singled out for overbearing treatment. 

And worth remembering a total of 18 firearms were found on the raids – far more than Mr Dotcom had.

Franks on New York crime drop

February 3rd, 2012 at 1:36 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs a review of a new book:

ACCORDING TO CONVENTIONAL criminological wisdom, crime can be significantly lowered only by eliminating its “root causes”: poverty, inequality, and racism. Policing, in this view, can only respond to crime after the fact by making an arrest; preventing crime from occurring in the first place lies in the domain of economic and welfare policy. What makes New York such a powerful natural experiment is that it is, in all respects but one, Zimring shows, nearly the same city as it was in 1990, when its homicide rate was five times higher. The previously assumed drivers of crime—poverty, income inequality, drug use—have not diminished; and family breakdown—conservatives’ preferred root cause—has worsened. 

This has parallels to the debate on the child abuse green paper currently happening. Rather than focus on what law changes the Government can make to help lower child abuse rates, many are saying that there is nothing you can do unless you address poverty and/or income inequality.

They are wrong.

Stephen further blogs:

The only element of the reform I saw not touched on in the review is the contribution of the NY  courts. They cooperated. Justice became much more swift and certain. They provided 24 hour a day sittings to get rid of delays and backlogs. Instead of declining to sentence because Rikers Island city  jail complex was full, they sentenced anyway and left it to the prison authorities to handle the consequences. When I was there a prison system designed for 14000 had over 20000 prisoners. The drop in crime has cured that. The muster is now generally comfortably below the design capacity. But as stressful as it must have been for all concerned, I’m sure if we asked the thousands of offenders who were saved from being murdered had the lawlessness of the 1990’s continued, the hardships of the peak imprisonment period were a small price to pay.

New Zealand used to be the opposite. Rather than have the level of offending determine the prison population, the authorities would let the capacity of the prison system determine sentencing. The Government made changes to bail and parole laws so we would not have over-crowding in prisons!

I recommend people read the full book review.

The Supreme Court

December 15th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged a while back on the Supreme Court blog that has been started up. Two of the posts were quite critical of the Court’s decision on the Urerewa case, including former Judge Ted Thomas who noted:

The Chief Justice’s unnecessarily wide statement that the police cannot do anything that is not authorized by statute is based on a misunderstanding as to the way police powers developed.


The Chief Justice also held that an unlawful search is necessarily an unreasonable search. I believe that the view of the majority in Jefferies to the opposite effect is correct. Tipping J was not amiss in describing the contrary view as “absolutist” (at [226]).

Now it is not unusual for lawyers to disagree or even Judges to disagree. However when a number of lawyers state the Chief Justice was plainly wrong in comments she made, you do take notice. And I have heard lots of criticism over that judgement from others in the legal community.

But it was just once case, so i thought. Until I watched The Court Report last week, and they had no less a person than top QC Jim Farmer on, voicing his concerns (most diplomatically and respectfully) about the performance of the Supreme Court. dr Farmer’s comments come from a blog post he made back in August.

My criticisms, if I can express them with respect, are limited to 2 recent cases.  
The first relates to the superficial way in which the Court dealt with the important competition law issues that were rightly brought to it in Commerce Commission v. Telecom (the 0867 case).  As (losing) counsel in the case, I do not comment here on the outcome – indeed from the point of view of the Commerce Commission wanting to establish a precedent that clarified the law that may not have been that important – but I think I am entitled to endorse the views of many others practising in this important area of law and policy that we were entitled to much better principled guidance than we received in the short Judgment that was delivered.

Dr Farmer said on TV that the top court should be perhaps hearing fewer cases, and giving them more consideration as befits their role as the final arbiter of the law. Their judgements should clarify, not confuse the law.

We see this again in the NZSC blog on the above case:

Interestingly, the Chief Justice preferred the view that error of law is reached “whenever a body entrusted with a determination of fact has reached a conclusion that is clearly wrong or is unreasonable.” This wording, and in particular the emphasis on the fact-finding nature of the decision-maker, is surprising.

And NZ Lawyer Online reports:

I can’t recall a time when our most senior local court – the Court of Appeal before 2004 and the Supreme Court since then – has been the subject of so much criticism.

This suggests to me that the dis-satisfaction is not just the normal disgruntlement, but that there are real issues with the quality of the decisions of the Supreme Court. That is not to say the decisions are wrong, but that they are not providing the clarity of the law which is so vital in a country of laws. The criticisms are also that basic errors of fact are being made also:

Tax barrister Geoff Harley spoke a couple of weeks ago to a large gathering of accountants and lawyers. His topic was the Supreme Court’s decision in Penny and Hooper v Commissioner of Inland Revenue [2011] NZSC 95. He said the Court had got the facts wrong (in [3], [11], [14], [35], and footnote 7 of the judgment), and he proceeded from that platform to criticise various aspects of the Court’s reasoning.

Writing in the latest part of the New Zealand Business Law Quarterly, Paul Scott, a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, was highly critical of the Supreme Court’s decision in Commerce Commission v Telecom Corporation of New Zealand Ltd & Anor [2010] 1 NZLR 577. Justice Blanchard has said extrajudicially that the decision in that case has aligned New Zealand law with that of Australia and has widened section 36 of the Commerce Act 1986. Scott says bluntly, “The decision has done nothing of the sort. The Supreme Court has missed the point, misread Australian law, and taken a wrong turn…” He adds that the decision “is also internally inconsistent”.

Stephen Franks has noted:

The skids are under our Supreme Court in its current form.

Last night’s Court Report on TVNZ 7 would look innocuous to non-lawyers, but Dr Jim Farmer QC’s open public criticism of the Court’s quality is highly significant. Dr Rodney Harrison QC was there for balance, but his defence of the Court was lame.  That three QCs were discussing the problem on TV at all is extraordinary in NZ. Our legal establishment has discreetly enforced the conventions against lawyer public comment that might undermine respect for the courts in which they practice. Concerns about judicial quality have been inhouse whispers only.

Dr Farmer’s anxiety was made public in a post on his website in August. There too he was careful, to the  point of parody, to emphasize his respect for the Court. But what he says is a mild version of the worries widely expressed among eminent barristers.

Judges too are deeply frustrated. Court of Appeal judgments are commonly more useful than the superior court  judgments that supersede them. Instead of simplifying and clarifying, too many Supreme Court decisions add complexity.

It was very unusual to have such an eminent QC raise his concerns about the court in such a public way. The concerns should not be brushed aside.

Of course only the Court itself can take note of the criticisms. Appointments are until age 72, unless there is very serious misconduct.

But there is also an avenue open to the Government, if they wish to take heed of the concerns. Section 17(1)(b) of the Supreme Court allows the Attorney-General to appoint a sixth member of the court. Perhaps it is time to do just that.

UPDATE: I got two cases mixed up. The blog post is on the recent case Vodafone v Telecom, whereas Jim Farmer’s comments related to an earlier and unrelated case (Commerce Commission v Telecom). Also the Supreme Court blog authors have e-mailed to stress their article was on a narrow technical area of the law, and should not be seen as criticism of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice.

China and climate change

February 27th, 2010 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

Take a look at this NCPA collection of sobering figures (drawn from the work of a physics professor at UCAL Berkeley) for an explanation.

  • China’s emissions intensity (CO2 per dollar of GDP) is five times greater than that of the United States.

President Hu Jintao plans to reduce China’s CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 4 percent per year for 5 years. If carried on it would reduce China’s CO2 emissions intensity 70 percent by 2040. But even if it works:

  • If China cuts its emissions intensity 45% it will still surpass the U.S. in per capita annual CO2 emissions by 2025.
  • Indeed, every 10% cut in U.S. emissions would be negated by one year of China’s growth.
  • Because China’s economy is growing by 10% p.a. a 4% cut in intensity is actually a 6% annual increase in emissions.
  • CO2 emissions are increasing similarly in India and other developing countries – far surpassing rich countries’ output.
  • Even if China and India’s goals are met – and other developing countries make similar cuts- total atmospheric CO2 would rise from 385 parts per million currently to 700 parts per million by 2080

The leaders of China and India can not risk constraining their growth, even if they were persuaded that they should give higher priority to CO2 emissions.

I did my own calculations a few weeks ago:

China said it will “endeavour” to cut the amount of carbon produced per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005. The “carbon intensity” goal would let emissions keep rising, but more slowly than economic growth.

Now even putting aside the fact China won’t agree to any verification of their emissions (ie they can simply make up their figures), what does their pledge mean.

Let us assume that their business as usual case is that emissions will increase in line with economic growth.

Now their GDP in 2005 was US$2.24 trillion. In 2020 it is estimated to be around US14.6 trillion. That is a 640% increase in GDP.

Now if their emissions intensity is 40% less, then the increase in emissions will be 385%.

So China’s pledge is they will only increase emissions by 385% by 2020.

Now their level of emissions in 2006 was 6,103 million tons. So China’s projected increase in emissions is around 23,000 million tons. …

In fact China’s pledge to reduce intensity by 40% means their total level of emissions in 2020 could be as high as 33,000 million tons.

And you know what. That is more than the rest of the world produces today. The world, excluding China, produces 22,000 million tons. With China it is 28 million tons

So the entire world could go carbon neutral, and China would still push world emissions up 20% from 2006.

This is the reality the world faces. It does not matter what the USA does, what the EU does, even what India does. Global emissions are going to increase significantly, just from China alone.

Financial Advisors Act

August 26th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs on the Bill of Rights Act and the Financial Advisors Act:

Last evening Doug Bailey and Dr Andrew Butler of Russell McVeagh presented to the National Party’s Blue-Libs a plea for the party to  upgrade what Andrew called “the Bill of Not Quite Rights” (the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990). Among other recomendations Andrew urged strengthening the duty on the Attorney General to report on whether Bills before Parliament are inconsistent with NZBORA and a “forced response” from the government when there is an inconsistency,  requiring the government to say if and what it will do about  it.

Not a bad idea.

Among the Bills that desperately needed an adverse NZBORA opinion was what is now the Financial Advisers Act 2008. …

When it comes into force there will be a $100,000 fine for:

a) broker who explains on the radio or television why a company is doing well or badly and should be sold;

b) Brian Gaynor for any acid comments to discourage bad investment, or praise for strong companies, unless he can show that despite the common description of him as a funds manager he is actually entitled to an exception for journalists;

c) a broker who acts on phoned instructions from clients he’s known for decades, instead of insisting they give him orders in writing.

There’ll be a $5000 fine for:

a) b) a financially savvy blogger who earns money from ads on his blog, if he says something like, “steer clear of Bridgcorp/Blue Chip – Petriecivic/Bryers will lose your money”;

Sounds like a case of good intentions gone awry.

More on Weatherston case

July 23rd, 2009 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

Very pleased to see some stories on Sophie Elliott, so that Weatherston’s warped version of reality is not the final say on her. The Herald reports:

While her family remember a loving daughter with everything to live for, prominent academics overseas have described her as having a “beautiful mind” and an exciting career ahead of her.

Peter Lambert, economics professor at the University of Oregon, Jean-Yves Duclos, editor of the Journal of Economic Inequality and economics professor at Laval University in Canada and Sir Tony Atkinson, professor of economics at Oxford University, said Sophie had remarkable ability for a young person, exhibited considerable prescience in her thinking and could have been a leader in the field of welfare economics.

Professor Lambert said a paper she wrote titled, Why measure inequality? A discussion of the concept of equality, which was published in this month’s edition of the Oxford University economics journal Oxonomics, was “easily the best essay on inequality” he had ever read.

Professor Duclos called the paper a “remarkable piece of research for such a young person”.

In a few paragraphs, Sophie had been able to strike right at the core of welfare economics and grasp many of its complex philosophical and ethical issues, he said.

“Elliott certainly had a beautiful mind.”

I recall reading, shortly after her murder, that her ambition was to be the first female Governor of the Reserve Bank, and thought what a wonderful ambition to have. And from the sounds of it, she may have got there if not for Weatherston.

Incidentially, does anyone have access to, or have a copy, of the paper which just got published? I’m interested to read it.

The Herald has a less flattering profile of Weatherston. While my thoughts are mainly with the Elliott family, I do feel great compassion for the Weatherston family also as they cope with the horror of what Clayton did and what he is.

They also talked to Lesley Elliott. I twittered yesterday that Lesley was my hero of the month for hugging after the verdict both Clayton’s mother, but also his lawyer – Judith Abblett-Kerr. True class. Lesley wants to:

In an interview with the Herald prior to the verdict, Mrs Elliott said she now wants to focus her energies on keeping young women away from abusive and dangerous relationships. Her daughter had complained of being assaulted by Weatherston prior to the killing.

“My legacy to Soph is to somehow get to girls in their late teens and twenties, when they start to date guys, and [explore] what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t,” she told the Herald.

The sad reality is that if Sophie had dumped Weatherston the moment he became abusive, she might be alive today. And after he assaulted her she should have never seen him again. Her desire to try and end the relationship as friends, ironically acted against her.

The issue of whether provocation should be a partial defence to murder is canvassed in this article. I am with Women’s Refuge:

Women’s Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said: “Because of the way the defence was run, this trial became a perverse opportunity for a killer to continue to persecute his victim and her family after her death.

I actually think that was part of his plan all along.

“This trial turned justice inside out. The killer became the victim and Sophie Elliott was portrayed to us all as he chose to describe her. Unfortunately for Clayton Weatherston, the jury didn’t buy it and nor did the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who watched him giggling on television.”

Never has a defence strategy so backfired, in my opinion.

Stuff reports that the provocation partial defence may go:

Killers will lose the right to claim provocation as a defence after murderer Clayton Weatherston’s attempt to smear his victim.

It is understood Justice Minister Simon Power wants the controversial defence scrapped as soon as possible and will announce his intentions today.

I think such a move would be exceptionally popular.

Stephen Franks argues for why the partial defence should be retained. He says Judges should set a higher threshold for its use, but it should be retained:

From this case the judges should take a lesson, and simplify the defence of provocation. It should only relate to what would provoke ordinary reasonable people, not drunks or P addicts or nut cases, or homophobes. The judges should now punish those who turn it into mockery.

From other cases they should accept that ordinary people want the law to distinguish between those who start fights or cause trouble, and those who respond even if their response is “disproportionate”.  The criminal should bear the risk of significant  disproportionality in the response to thuggery, rape or robbery , even if common sense says the defence can only go so far.

The Press reveals the Weatherston defence team tried to get photos of Sophie’s wounds supressed:

King told the court that the autopsy photographs were highly prejudicial because of their graphic and disturbing nature. “They illustrate the painful death of a beautiful young lady in her prime, and the injuries are simply horrific,” King submitted.

He said they provided little, if any, probative value and would “likely distract the jury from their proper task in assessing the partial defence of provocation”.

King entered a “back-up submission” that three photographs showing the injuries to Elliott’s face should be removed.

I thought that number and nature of the wounds was an essential part of the case. I’m glad the Court of Appeal dismissed the defence’s application.

The court ruled that the submissions were “hopeless” and the photographs were highly relevant to the issues at trial.

They had been carefully chosen to minimise their prejudicial effect as much as possible.

“Any remaining prejudicial effect is a natural consequence of the nature of the wounds inflicted by Mr Weatherston,” the court ruled.


A legal perspective on Fiji

February 5th, 2009 at 10:35 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs on a column by Richard Fowler, the President of the Wellington District Law Society, regarding Fiji. Fowler has just returned from there and quotes Fowler:

Yet I am afraid that nothing about the present Fijian situation as outlined to me was that simple – particularly for Rule of Law type issues. I am no apologist for the 2006 coup but there are certainly some very odd aspects to the situation that do not sit easily with the abovementioned ’simple’ analysis. There is even a ‘back to front’ quality to much of it. The best I can do is pose for you the questions that started worrying me:

If Commodore Bainimarama was the counter-coup hero who removed George Speight in 2000, installed Quarase as interim Prime Minister, and then went back to his barracks rather like a latter day Garibaldi, what caused him to re-emerge and, for that matter so different from the previous coups, at glacial speed?

Why does the Labour party representing over 40% of the population and supported by most of the Fijian Indians, the people most obviously and adversely disenfranchised in the previous coups of 1987 and 2000, give some support to the interim government and even for a period participated in its cabinet?

I have to say that every Fijian Indian taxi driver I have had in the last couple of months has been 100% supportive of the coup, and saying how the NZ Government does not understand the situation.

Fowler goes on:

Contrary to what was suggested concerning a pervasive military presence in the New Zealand newspapers recently, in the whole of the week I was in Suva I never caught sight of one soldier and further the interim government during that week lost a very public Court challenge to the legitimacy of some of its actions and did not reach for extra-legal remedy.

Indeed, the Fijian Government has lost a considerable number of cases.

Who could blame the Fiji Law Society for cutting the interim government some slack in the light of the latter’s avowed intent to achieve a fairer electoral system that is not racially slanted in lieu of holding an election now which would just have the effect of perpetuating the old one? At what point does the Fiji Law Society cease to do so – because sooner or later the Commodore has to demonstrate meaningful progress? And where would that leave the participation of the Fiji Law Society up to that point?

I held my peace and boarded the plane thankful that no law society in New Zealand has ever had to face the issues the Fiji Law Society is facing.

I am one that supports Fiji not having a race based constitution, that marginalises one particular race. But that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means, and the Commodore should have stood for election on the grounds of changing it, not done a coup.

However the coup is now a reality, and the end game is going back to democracy. And as I said, I have no problems with holding a referendum on a new constitution first, and then elections.

But the problem is the Commodore is unable or unwilling to give any sort of timetable, to which he will be accountable. The longer it goes on, the more you suspect he will never give up power.

The challlenge for the Commodore is to turn rhetoric into reality and actually take steps towards elections. If he does so, then he will no doubt find sanctions start to get lifted. But if he doesn’t produce a timetable, then people will assume it is all about retaining power, not about changing the constitution.

The right to discriminate

January 18th, 2009 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

Though I do not share the Invercargill Turks’ views on Israel in any degree, I defend them. I defend their right to express their views by shunning citizens of a state they consider to be evil. …

If a government agency acted as the Turks did it would be utterly wrong. The state weilds the coercive power of us all. It must be tolerant in a free society. Without proof of involvement in or support of unlawful acts the State certainly should not discriminate against New Zealand citizens simply because they are of a group in which some members have unpopular opinions.

But the vigour of our values (in the long term our freedoms) may depend on the willingness of individuals to be intolerant so long as they do not coerce their fellow citizens. So  I defend the right of any private citizen to shun whoever they want on their own property.

Stephen’s view is one shared by many on the right. That people have a right to be bigots. I have some sympathy for that view, but not without limits.

Taking the case of the Invercargill cafe owner, the most effective action in response has been privaye citizens saying we don’t like you because you are bigots. They have had protests outside, dozens of phone calls, and from all accounts are starting to regret their stance.

Those who oppose anti-discrimination laws see how they have often been used overseas to shut down unpopular speech, or prevent criticism of certain religions.

But on the other hand, do we want a society where cafes could display signs saying “No Jews allowed” or “No blacks work here”? The libertarian argument is that private reaction against such signs would probably be more effective than state action.

But we saw in Europe in the 30s what can happen, when the state does not prevent discrimination. Are we confident that would never occur?

At the end of the day I stop short of the position put forward by Stephen, that private discrimination should be legal.

The Lower North Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 4:32 am by David Farrar

Whanganui had a 3% lead in the party vote in 2005, and this expanded out to 22% in 2008. And the 3,500 majority for Borrows goes to 6,000.

Rangitikei sees a 25% lead in the party vote and Simon Power moves his majority from 9,000 to 11,000.

Tukituki has an 18% lead in the party vote, and a 2,600 majority for Craig Foss gets a boost thanks to Labour’s sacking of the local District Health Board to over 7,000.

Palmerston North has been held by Labour since 1978. The party vote was narrowly won by National but Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway held off Malcolm Plimmer by 1,000 votes.

Wairarapa has National 17% ahead on the party vote. And John Hayes turns the seat safe with a 2,900 majority converting to 6,300 in 2008.

Otaki was a huge battle. I’ve door knocked Otaki in the past and it is not natural National territory in the Horowhenua parts. So winning the party vote by 8% is good for National after trailling by 3% last time. Darren Hughes put up a huge fight to protect his sub 400 majority but Nathan Guy grabbed the seat by almost 1,500.

In Wellington, Labour does a lot better starting with Mana. Labour remains 6% ahead on the party vote but reduced from 18% in 2005. Winnie Laban’s 6,800 majority shrinks only slightly to 5.300.

Rimutaka was the last hope for NZ First. Labour won the party vote there in 2005 by 11% and in 2008 by 0.3%. On the electorate vote just as narrow with Labour’s Chris Hipkins pipping Richard Whiteside by 600 votes. Ron Mark got a credible 5,000 votes but stll trailed by 7,000.

Hutt South is home to Wainuiomata and Trevor Mallard. Trevor delivered a party vote margin for Labour of 4% and a 3,600 majority for himself. In 2005 the party vote margin was 14% and the personal majority 6,600 so some movement there.

Rongotai is now the home of the Labour Deputy Leader. But even before her ascension, Rongotai gave Labour a massive 11% margin on the party vote – 43% to 32% for National. And her personal 13,000 majority in 2005 was only slightly dented to just under 8,000. If that is her low tide mark, she’ll be happy.

Wellington Central saw in 2005 a party vote for National of just 33%, Labour 43% and Greens around 16%. In 2008 it was National 36%, Labour 34% and Greens around 20%. Marian Hobbs had a 5,800 majority and Stephen Franks cut that to 1,500 against new MP Grant Robertson with some Green party votes giving Robertson their electorate vote to keep Franks out.

Ohariu was assumed by almost everyone to be safe as houses for Peter Dunne. But it got close this time. First on the party vote, National beat Labour 43% to 40% in 2005. This time it was 47% to 33%. On the candidate vote Peter Dunne dropped from 45% to 33% making him vulnerable. National’s Katrina Shanks lifted her vote from 21% to 26% and Labour’s Charles Chauvel from 26% to 30%. The Greens candidate got 7% of the vote and may have ironically saved the seat for Dunne.

Recognise the vandals

October 24th, 2008 at 8:51 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks has blogged some photos of vandals destroying or defacing his signs. Go have a look in case you recognise them.

The vandalism is costing around $1,000 a week.

Vic Election Debate 2008

October 1st, 2008 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar
The Victoria University Debating Society Election Debate 2008
That we need a centre-right government
Stephen Franks – National candidate for Wellington Central
Christopher Finlayson MP – National List MP and Rongotai candidate
Stephen Whittington – champion Victoria student debater
Grant Robertson – Labour candidate for Wellington Central
Sue Kedgley MP – Green candidate for Wellington Central
Polly Higbee – champion Victoria student debater
Chair: Sean Plunket
Monday 6 October, 6.30pm – 8pm
Lecture Theatre One, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington
Gold coin entry. Questions after the debate, then tea and cofffee.
Also debating fans may wish to check out this footage of Jen Savage on Breakfast. Savage was judged best speaker at the Secondary School World Champs, and you get some idea why with her performance on Breakfast. Someone to watch out for – she has declared she wants Paul Henry’s job 🙂

Wellington Central

October 1st, 2008 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar

Two fun opportunities for people interested in the Wellington Central race.

First we have the four main candidates on Backbenches tonight. Stephen Franks, Grant Robertson, Sue Kedgley and Heather Roy. They’;; be talking about the economy, tax cuts and why you should vote for them!

I suspect a big audience tonight so pay to be there early. The show screens at 9.10 pm on TVNZ7.

Also iPredict has launched a set of three Wellington Central stocks.

You can invest in a Grant Robertson victory, a Stephen Franks victory or a “Other” victory in Wellington Central. The share will pay $1 if you win and the initial offer price is 55.5c for Grant, 43.5c for Stephen and 1c for Other.

Advanced investors can also buy a bundle of all three shares for exactly $1. If the combined price of all three is over $1, then you can make money buying the bundle and selling the individual stocks (or just the stock you think is over priced).

Top Debater

September 16th, 2008 at 6:48 am by David Farrar

Congratulations to Jennifer (Jen) Savage from Wanganui Collegiate who won best overall speaker at the NZ Secondary Schools World Debating Champs.

Fellow New Zealanders Ben Kornfeld was 2nd and Holly Jenkins 4th.

As reported yesterday the team got all the way to the grand final and lost with the closest possible margin of 4-5.  The team captain is Maria English, and Stephen Franks points out (Stephen is on the board of Samuel Marsden – Maria’s school) that Maria has also a member of the N.Z. Secondary Schools Choir and was the winner of the 2008 Rodney Walshe Essay Competiton – the Ireland essay competition.

A quick start

September 13th, 2008 at 2:31 pm by David Farrar

Was very impressed yesterday to see around 20 members of Stephen Franks’ campaign team out with placards at the intersection of Lampton Quay and Bowen Street. They must have arranged it in the few hours between the announcement at 12.30 pm and my bus going past at 4.30 pm.

Some photos from Stephen’s Blog:

The Young Nats out in force.

It was a good intersection they picked as you are literally in the middle of the traffic.

And some smart use of a construction site to get visibility.

The campaign didn’t feel real until I saw them all out campaigning!

Blog Bits

September 6th, 2008 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

Homepaddock has the full range of “If leaders were cars“.

Karl du Fresne blogs on a forum on media reporting of challenging stories such as the N&S Asian Angst, the Clydesdale research on Pacific immigration and the Danish cartoons. Karl makes many excellent points including:

I also expressed my firm belief that in a liberal democracy, the right to freedom of expression is far more precious than the right of a minority – in this case the Muslim community – not to be offended.

I’m not even sure there is a right not to be offended. I can maybe accept a right not to be vilified, but that is a very different thing. And Karl nails it again:

The greatest threat to the healthy process of disclosure and debate that followed the Clydesdale story is the belief that the state must protect us from harmful ideas because we’re not mature and intelligent enough to deal with them. Underlying this is a fundamental distrust of democracy.

Trevor at New Zeal profiles the Trotskyist background of Andrew Geddis, the Labour/Green appointed Chair of the electoral reform expert panel. Andrew is an expert in the area of political financing, and very respected. But when appointments are made without bipartisan consultation, then the background of appointees come under great scrutiny. All Labour had to do was ask National and other parties if they agreed with the proposed appointees, or have any names of their own they wished to propose.

Stephen Franks blogs on how spin should not save crap managers, applying it to the party that has managed NZ’s military, SOEs, and hspitals for the last nine years. A good read.

The Hollow Woman Screenplay

August 31st, 2008 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks has written a nice sequel to the Hollow Men, and has a screenplay of a scene involving Helen and Winston on Friday. Very very good. An extract:

WP So what’s your bone for the dogs. Spit it out. I’m not resigning. – you know what I’ve said – I’m not going down for this on my own sunshine. You put that loose-lipped idiot Glenn into this case.  You gave him no script, or didnt get him to stick to it. I had no clout with him after you canned that consulship cause it would be a bad look. I only met him a couple of times and the boorish shit left me in no doubt that he was only letting us have the money cause your guys told him to. I told him he could have that consulship so you’ve only got yourselves to blame when he got the pip.

HC – Thats the past. We are where we are and unless I look as if I’m in charge, and you look as if you accept the rules for the moment I’ll lose the power to manage this. Don’t underestimate this Winston. Even our trusties among the  journos are finding it hard to explain why you’re still standing with me beside you. None so far have tried to think past stupidities like my “determination to pass the ETS” and “keeping open a post-election coalition with you”

And the conclusion:

WP – A Privileges Committee roll-over doesn’t get me back if it’s the SFO investigation that’s the trouble.

HC – Look assuming you haven’t stolen the money you’ll be “cleared” when they say they are dropping the investigation cause there is no “fraud” cause the money ended up where it was supposed to. Only the Police deal with breaches of electoral law, and we can rely on them. So SFO will pull out leaving that electoral stuff alone.. The media chooks will treat ‘no further action’ as innocence, and so will your grey power.

WP – OK I’ll go along with it for the meantime. I’ll review it every day, and the moment I think you might renege, it’ll be Plan B.

Ficton or telepathy? You decide!

Electoral law litigation

August 14th, 2008 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Bishop at NBR looks at the chances of litigation post-election, quoting electoral law expert Hayden Wilson of legal firm Kensington Swan:

Electoral petitions in previous elections have not affected the overall outcome of an election, as the impact had been confined to just one electorate seat in each case. That changes under MMP.

“The most obvious example is Tauranga. If New Zealand First gets three or four percent of the party vote nationwide, but Winston Peters doesn’t win back Tauranga, he’d have all the incentive in the world to litigate the result,” Mr Wilson says.

“And if he were to get an election result overturned, he’d bring back a group of MPs which would change the whole make up of Parliament, and potentially who forms the government.”

Now Hayden is I think incorrect here. The assumption he is making is that if a party on election night (or 2 days later at the return of the writs) does not qualify for list seats in Parliament (you need 5% party vote or at least one electorate seat) and it later qualifies (by way of winning an electorate seat in a electoral petition), then the allocation of list seats is redone.

I actually wondered about this scenerio last election. What would happen if NZ First got 4% and lost Tauranga, but then won it in an electoral petition. Would they just get the MP for Tauranga or would they also get four list MPs on top, which they would have got if he had been declared the winner on the election night?

Well I asked the Chief Electoral Office what they would do in this scenario, and their advice to me was that ther is no mechanism to revise the allocation of List MPs. The Electoral Act puts an emphasis on certainity, and once the List MPs are allocated, an electoral petition in an electorate seat can not cause the allocation to be revised.

Another issue over-looked is that not all sucessful electoral petitions lead to the losing MP being declared the winner. If the petition is about whether certain votes should have been allowed, then the court can declare the loser the winner, on the basis of receieiving more valid votes. If the petition is about over-spending, then a sucessful petition merely means the MP loses his or her seat and a by-election is called.

However by-elections can lead to the seat swapping hands, which can lead to a change to who has a majority in Parliament, so there will still be an incentive to have electoral petitions – esp as the law is so unclear.

Mr Wilson said the Electoral Finance Act was having a chilling effect on campaigning.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of people asking whether some action or statement they wish to make would be permitted or not under the EFA.

National’s Wellington Central candidate, former ACT MP and lawyer, Stephen Franks agrees that the Electoral Finance Act is depriving voters of important information about the candidates.

He says voters aren’t seeing a lot of the normal activities expected four months out from an election.

This part is absolutely correct. Linda Clark also wrote on this issue in the Listener. The EFA has almost muzzled the ability of electorate candidates to even get their name known to voters. The $20,000 limit was ridiculously low to start with (50c a voter) as a limit for three months. As a limit for all year, it has killed off almost all communications.

Mr Franks expects candidates will do more face to face meetings because they don’t count against the candidates spending cap, but signage and mailouts were a different matter.

“I was looking to have an electorate office with the usual 2.4m x 1.2m sign.

“The Electoral Commission wrote to candidates saying that signs like that were a campaign expense, and the Commission assessed the value of standard sign at $6 per sqm which was over $17 a day.

“Including construction and removal that came to about $4 600 for a four month campaign. That was almost a quarter of the campaign allowance for just one sign.”

“Alternatively with the campaign spending limit at $20 0000, I could have sent one postcard to about two thirds of the electorate,” he said.

The limit should be at least $1 a voter for a 90 day period. Even that is just enough for two direct mail letters.

Wellington Central Campaign Launch

July 29th, 2008 at 5:12 pm by David Farrar

The Wellington Central Campaign Launch is on Wednesday 6 August at the Paramount Theatre. For just $20 you get the launch plus the movie 4.

For tickets contact Murray Gibb’s phone number is 04 475 4023 or 027 491 6956.

Blog Bits

July 19th, 2008 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs on the battle to save Crossways in Mt Victoria. I will be blogging on this myself during the week. It will be a tragedy if Mt Victoria loses what has been a focal point for the community. The City Council is justifying its lack of support by saying residents have lots of cafes nearby unlike suburbs further away from the city centre. A very very weak argument.

Keeping Stock blogs on an alarming suggestion by Auckland lawyer Catriona McLennan on Nine to Noon. She suggests that in rape trials, the burden of proof should be on the accused to prove there was consent. And this is not just a throw-away remark – she actually argues in favour of it against Kathryn Ryan for some time.

Whale Oil has been threatened with defamation by a lawyer acting for Pearl Going, who objects to comments he had made on her. The material has been removed from his blog after the blog hosting company was also threatened, but copies have sprung up on a dedicated blog hosted overseas.

I don’t intend to comment of the substance of the allegedly defamatory material, but would note that pressuring hosting companies to remove material, even after the blog author has asserted it is not defamatory and is willing to defend it in court, is not a particularly sensible tactic as it is so easy for the material to appear elsewhere – as has happened. Also of interest is that the lawyer for Pearl Going is Steven Price, who was very critical of the Listener for threatening the Hot Topic blogger with defamation.

This should not be taken as a suggestion that defamation laws do not or should not apply to the Internet. Of course they do. But more the appropriateness of targetting blog hosts if the blog author is willing to stand by their words and accept legal consequences for them.

The Dim Post has more satire, this one on how Winston is handling the Owen Gelnn scandal:

  • Monday 2:00 PM: Hires two identical twins as press secretaries, one of whom always tells the truth while the other always lies.
  • Wednesday 11:30 AM: Announces to press conference that he will explain everything but in doing so will be forced to reveal the secret surprise ending to Battlestar Galactica. Political media beg him to remain silent.
  • Thursday 6:35 PM: Notifies Speaker Margaret Wilson that he is officially changing his alignment to Neutral Evil.
  • Friday 10:30 AM: Recieves report back from Department of Statistics confirming that proportion of New Zealanders with IQ below 90 is still greater than 5%. Laughs heartily. Tells rest of country to go fuck themselves.


Liberty Scott pings Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn for his comments on Gordon Brown approving a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher when she dies. The offending quote:

On the plus side, it will at least give her victims a final chance to throw excrement and rotten fruit at her as she goes past

As I/S goes on about how some on the right are often poisonous, spiteful and bitter, this quote brings to mind stones and glasshouses.

David Cohen looks at a case for Nicky Hager:

A column containing acidic opinions about a powerful political media personality mysteriously fails to show up on the author’s regular spot on her newspaper’s website. Another major news outlet, after allowing criticisms to be made of the same public figure on one of its shows, hurriedly issues a grovelling clarification. Does this sound like a case Nicky Hager ought to be investigating?

It would indeed if it weren’t the slightly inconvenient fact that the media power broker in question also happens to be the same gent.