Japan resumes whaling

November 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Japan has been criticised for resuming whaling in Antarctic waters, but the “scientific” ships could face few hurdles to continue their Southern slaughter.

On Friday, the Japanese Fisheries Agency notified the International Whaling Commission that Japan will resume whaling in the 2015/2016 season, despite an International Court of Justice recommendation last year that they cease whaling activity. …

Acting Foreign Minister Todd McClay has expressed “New Zealand’s deep disappointment at the Japanese Government’s decision.

“New Zealand is strongly opposed to whaling in the Southern Ocean. We call on Japan to take heed of the 2014 International Court of Justice decision and international scientific advice concerning their whaling activities.

“In early 2015, the International Whaling Commission’s Expert Panel issued very clear and unambiguous recommendations that Japan postpone the lethal components of its research proposal,” McClay said. 

The International Court of Justice ruled in March last year that Japan’s decades-old whale hunt in the Antarctic should stop, prompting Tokyo to cancel the bulk of its whaling for the 2014/2015 season.

But Japan has ignored that ruling and will push ahead in the 2015/2016 season.

The new Japanese hunting plan, which calls for cutting annual minke whale catches by two-thirds to 333, is scientifically reasonable, the Japanese Fisheries Agency said in a document filed with the IWC.

333 is better than 1,000.

I don’t have a problem with whaling per se, so long as it is sustainable. However the IWC has banned whaling in the Southern Ocean on the grounds it is not sustainable there, and using scientific research as a pretext for commercial whaling is offensive. There is absolutely no research involved.

Japan should not ignore the ICJ ruling, and hopefully will reconsider under pressure. The problem is that the pressure can be counter-productive – in that they do it just to show they won’t be pressured not to. The actual commercial benefits from doing so are almost nil, so it is about cultural rights (from their view).

Talking down NZ’s contribution

April 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I know being in opposition is hard, but you don’t have to try and portray a victory as a defeat. David Cunliffe on NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     Exactly. So the earlier the better, and I will get to one of your calls in just a moment, but just a quick comment on the issue that came out late last night over the court ruling on whaling, I think this is a significant victory New Zealand and Australia.

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s fantastic. Well, it’s a significant victory for Australia. Where the hell was the New Zealand Government? I mean, we had New Zealanders testifying, but once again, the National Government’s asleep at the wheel. Kiwis hate whaling. We hate whaling and previous governments had a really strong record against it. Why did we leave it to the Aussies to take the thing to the International Court?

So did we leave it to the Aussies and was National asleep at the wheel. Let’s look at the official court ruling from the International Court of Justice:


New Zealand was represented by no less than the Attorney-General, the Deputy Solicitor-General, an Ambassador, five MFAT staff and one of the Attorney-General’s staff. Not exactly asleep at the wheel.

NZ is mentioned 53 times in the judgement.

Also while looking through the transcript a few other fibs:

Well, they did rise in some cases by more, although there has been a real open jawing since of the residential versus industrial power prices and, of course, now, thanks to John Key and his mob, half of that money goes to private investors, most of them offshore. 

Over 70% of investors are domestic. False.

TIM FOOKES:     Well, it’s – look – I am looking in your eyes. Why, then, is John Key so popular? Why does…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             He has had a long time at it, which is good for him, and I’ve only had a few months, so I’ve got work to do. I completely acknowledge that. Second thing is, he has got the best PR that money can buy. He’s got more money than God. 

How did attacking John Key for his wealth go for David Cunliffe last time he tried it? He doesn’t seem to learn.

And is he really saying that John Key is popular because he uses his personal wealth on purchasing public relations?

If one-quarter of the missing million vote it’s game over red rover, you’ve got a Labour led government, right? One-quarter of the missing million vote – game over. And we’re going to get them to the polls.

Such confidence.

UPDATE: A commenter has pointed out it was Helen Clark who dropped the legal action against Japan on the basis NZ could not win. So Cunliffe was a member of the Government that decided not to take legal action, and he criticises National as being asleep at the wheel, when they are the ones who actually decided to take legal action.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will push for a diplomatic end to whaling after the Government dropped plans for legal action against Japan.

Miss Clark said “fantastic” legal advice – from New Zealand whaling commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer – suggested it would be difficult to mount a successful case at the United Nations International Court of Justice.

What an own goal. Maybe a journalist could ask David Cunliffe if he voted in Cabinet in favour of not taking legal action.

Of course he doesn’t seem to think it is fair to point out what he did in Government. From NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     But, hang on, it was eight and a half per cent or close to 10 per cent in those 2007-2008 years, as well. So why…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yeah, and we could go back to the Holyoake years, and justify all sins by saying, well, when Rob Muldoon was a boy, or Keith Jacka was in Parliament, you know, things were different then. Well, sorry, the current Government has been in power nearly six years. It’s time they manned up and took some responsibility. They cannot get away with excuse after excuse, wah, wah, wah, it was different under Helen Clark. Sorry, guys, grow up. 

Holyoake was Prime Minister 50 years ago. There is a big difference between harking back 50 years and pointing out the record of Labour the very last time they were in office, ad their leader was a senior Minister.

Japan loses

March 31st, 2014 at 11:00 pm by David Farrar

Australia (with support from New Zealand) has won against Japan in the International Court of Justice with a 12-4 ruling that Japan’s whaling programme is not scientific research and it has stated that Japan should not issue any further permits.

The decisions of the ICJ are final and can not be appealed. Of course a state could refuse to implement them, but the reputational loss would be massive.

Japan may halt their whaling programme entirely, or try and create a new “scientific” programme in the future. It has been suggested in the past that they wanted to end it anyway, but didn’t want to be seen giving into the quasi-terrorism of Sea Shepherd. So hopefully they will accept the court ruling, abandon the pretense that the whaling was for scientific purposes and cease operations. That would be a good thing.

The Press on whaling

January 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

The annual antics of the anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean are under way again.

The routine seems the same every year and is familiar. Japanese whaling ships arrive in the Southern Ocean to begin hunting whales. The pretext for the hunting is that it is for “scientific research” although that is almost universally disputed.

Most impartial observers believe the real reason for the hunting is to keep what remains of the Japanese whaling industry going.

Each year Sea Shepherd vessels track the whalers and aggressively attempt to disrupt the hunting.

Sea Shepherd and the whalers feed off each other. There is almost no commercial market for the whales anymore in Japan. The whalers carry on, because they don’t want to be seen to be buckling to pressure. I suspect if one ignored them, they’d stop within a decade.

This year the Green Party has taken up Sea Shepherd’s cry and called on the Government to send a naval vessel to the area to demonstrate New Zealand’s disapproval of the Japanese behaviour.

It may strike some as strange to hear the Greens promoting a show of military force but in any case the idea is foolish.

Even if the Japanese were breaching some law, New Zealand has no jurisdiction in the area and could do nothing about it.

Normally the Greens insist that military have no role in international disputes, but when it comes to whaling they want to send in a frigate!

Governments, both Labour and National, have said repeatedly that they do not accept Japan’s cover story used to justify its whaling and have called for the Japanese to end the practice.

That is the line taken consistently in international forums such as the International Whaling Commission for many years.

Last year, the present National Government went further and joined an action brought by the Australian Government in the International Court of Justice to have Japan’s whaling declared illegal. New Zealand’s case was strongly argued by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

The court’s decision is expected about within two or three months.

That will be eagerly awaited. Hopefully NZ and Australia win.

As Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said yesterday the whaling is being carried out “substantially for the purposes of pride and we’ve got to try and negotiate a way to get past what is a pointless activity . . .”

New Zealand is fully involved in that diplomatic activity.

Sea Shepherd’s Southern Ocean publicity stunt does nothing useful to advance it.

I think Sea Shepherd know that the practice would probably stop, if they were not there highlighting it. But then they would have no reason to exist. They and the whalers have a symbiotic relationship with each other – both needs the other to stay relevant.

NZ on whaling

July 9th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand has rejected Japan’s claim to be legally whaling in the Antarctic as an attempt to reduce the global whaling treaty to an industry cartel.

Intervening in the International Court of Justice case brought by Australia against Japan on Monday, Attorney General Chris Finlayson said the treaty’s purpose was not the protection of commercial whaling.

Instead Finlayson told the ICJ in The Hague that the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling was intended to be for the conservation and development of whale stocks.

Its key article eight on “special permit” scientific whaling, which is being argued before ICJ, did not give carte blanche to any member country to sidestep the rest of the treaty, he said.

Under the article, Japan currently issues its whalers with permits to kill up to 935 minke whales, 50 fin whales, and 50 humpback whales in the Antarctic.

Over 26 years more than 10,000 whales have been killed in the programme, including 18 fin whales, but the humpback quota has been suspended.

Japan told the court last week that article eight unambiguously said decision-making power on permits rested with the state party concerned.

Finlayson said Japan had tried to sew together snippets of the article to construct a blanket exemption from other parts of the treaty.

“Far from creating a blanket exemption, the words create an obligation on the contracting government to operate within the words of the convention when issuing a special permit,” Finlayson said.

Japan’s claims that their whaling is scientific research is farcical. You don’t need to kill 1,000 whales a year for research, and you don’t turn the whales into food, if it is for research.

I don’t have a problem with whaling, if it is sustainable. But I do have a problem with Japan not honouring its international commitments.

Sea Shepherd claims

February 21st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd claims two of its boats were deliberately rammed by a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean.

They probably wrote their statements weeks ago.

Sea Shepherd lie. Paul Watson is a pathological liar. This comes from no less a source than his former acolyte Pete Bethune.

I’m all for protesting against the so called scientific whaling which is a farcical exploitation of a loophole in international agreements. I support WWF and even Greenpeace campaigns in this area.

But Sea Shepherd are pathological liars who believe the ends justify the means and they have a long history of violence and aggression.

Sea Shepherd

January 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sea Shepherd’s launching a massive campaign against Japanese whalers in the waters around Antarctica.

Four vessels with 150 crew members are on their way there for the summer – the biggest team the anti-whaling organisation has ever sent.

Captain of the Steve Irwin, Paul Watson, said their efforts are working.

“Last year they only took 26 per cent, the year before that only 17 per cent. We’ve cost them tens of millions of dollars and we’re right on the threshold of breaking them financially so we have to keep the pressure on.”

Mr Watson said the Japanese have four ships too, so he is confident they can match them.

I don’t like the Japanese whalers. I don’t like what is commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research.

But I don’t like Sea Shepherd even more. They have a long and extensive record of violence, and as Pete Bethune found out they are pathological liars – or at least Watson is.

Bethune’s Demands

July 14th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I should stop giving him publicity, but I couldn’t believe his assertion that he was surprised he ended up in Japan, so I made some inquiries. Below is a copy of the demand letter he gave to the skipper of the Japanese boat.

Bethune Demand

First of all you have to love the lunacy of a man who makes a demand for arrest on the basis of un-named “maritime experts”.

Could you imagine what would happen if you boarded a plane and demanded the pilot arrest himself, citing un-named aviation experts.

Now his primary demand was that the Japanese boat transport him to Wellington. As the other captain does not suffer from clinical insanity, obviously that was never going to happen. So look closely at what he then said:

I will refuse to be handed over to any Sea Shepherd vessel. I will also refuse to be handed over to any New Zealand or Australian Coastguard, Customs or Naval vessel.

So this so called “prisoner” was in fact refusing to leave the whaling ship. What a farce. Even if the NZ Government had sent a naval vessel to pick him up, Mad Pete proclaimed he would refuse to leave the whaling ship.

He also gave the Japanese an invoice for his boat, demanding they buy him a new one. An extract from that invoice is:

If we have not received payment by April 1, 2010, we will be proceedingwith a civil action in Japan against your company. We will be seeking punitive damages, in addition to the full replacement cost of the Ady Gil.

Now this is exactly what he should have done. As far as I know, he lied, and there has been no civil suit. If there is a dispute about who was at fault, it should be resolved in court.

The Bethune deal

July 8th, 2010 at 7:39 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Anti-whaling activists appear to have struck a deal with Japanese officials allowing Pete Bethune to walk free – in return for banning him from future expeditions.

Bethune, 45, who has been in Japanese custody since February after boarding a Japanese whaling ship, was given a two-year suspended sentence in a Tokyo court yesterday. …

In June, he was banned from future Sea Shepherd Conservation Society expeditions to the Southern Ocean.

The group’s chief executive, Chuck Swift, said at the time that the ban was because Bethune broke Sea Shepherd policy by taking a bow and arrows on to the protest boat Ady Gil, which sank in January after colliding with the Japanese fleet.

However, there are now suggestions that the ban was Sea Shepherd’s part of a bargain that saw Bethune walk free.

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson said last night that the organisation knew what the sentence was several days ago, “because we’d already arranged for Pete Bethune’s air ticket”. He was relieved at the sentence and said the ban on Bethune joining Sea Shepherd’s campaigns was because of “a deal” with the Japanese.

He did not elaborate on the terms of the deal and Sea Shepherd would not confirm last night whether the ban was in return for a suspended sentence.

The outcome is a good one. Having Bethune in a prison would have just made him a martyr. Pleased to see the Japanese Government was pragmatic.

I am not surprised there was a deal. I never thought it likely that Sea Shepherd banned Bethune from future expeditions because he was too violent, considering their long long history of violence.

Editorial 28 June 2010

June 28th, 2010 at 2:46 pm by David Farrar

The Herald talks whaling:

The collapse of international whaling negotiations at Morocco is a chilling moment for the future of controlled whaling, let alone the prospect of a complete ban. The collapse is no less disturbing for the fact that it has always been as likely as not.

The International Whaling Commission proposal to the three nations that permit commercial whaling, Japan, Norway and Iceland, never satisfied either side. …

With all hope of a compromise now gone, the New Zealand Government will probably join Australia in its case against Japan at the International Court of Justice.

It is not a course that promises effective policing of the Southern Ocean even if the court can be persuaded the Antarctic is a whale sanctuary in international law. Even if a favourable ruling can be obtained, the case is likely to take years and leave the ocean open to unrestricted whaling in the interim.

Not even Greenpeace and other environmental lobbies at Agidir favoured court action over a negotiated compromise. Mr McCully went out of his way to praise their helpful approach to the negotiations, an approach that helps keep non-whaling governments and most of the public firmly behind the effort to end all whaling.

I suspect we will join the court case now.

The Dom Post looks at Allan Hubbard and the SFO:

The good people of Timaru seem stunned by news that highly regarded local businessman Allan Hubbard, and wife Jean, might have fallen foul of the law. Last Sunday, Commerce Minister Simon Power took the rare step of putting the couple themselves, Aorangi Securities and seven charitable trusts into what is known as statutory management. He said the objective was to “prevent fraud and reckless company management [and] to protect investors …”

The city’s newspaper, the Timaru Herald, said in an editorial last Monday that the Hubbards’ sin, in official eyes, seemed to be the unconventional way they did business. It went on: “If the allegations are unfounded, the officials involved will have humiliated one of the country’s most successful and generous businessmen for nothing. They will also have wasted a good deal of taxpayers’ money at a time when there is no shortage of directors of failed companies to chase.”

It is that latter point that so upsets Mr Hubbard’s supporters.

All those who broke the law should face consequences for that.

Little wonder that Mr Power, aside from rejigging the justice system, is upending securities law, too. He plans to have a new and independent Financial Markets Authority, consolidating the powers and functions of the Securities Commission, some of those of the Registrar of Companies and Government Actuary, and some of the NZX’s regulatory role, operating early next year.

He has also completely restructured the financial advisory industry, and now wants submissions on how to replace the Securities Act and Securities Markets Act, in a bid to strengthen the financial markets, and restore investor confidence. “The Government cannot and will not legislate for risk,” he said this week, “but we can build a regime that makes those risks more transparent.”

A unified regulator makes sense.

The Press farewells Kevin Rudd:

Even by Australia’s brutal political standards, the dumping of Kevin Rudd was spectacular. Sudden, decisive and risky, it cast out the man who had brought his party into power and governed until recently with substantial voter support.

That Rudd at the beginning of the week seemed secure in his job but by the end of the week had so little party support that he could not contest the challenge is testament to a ruthlessness in Labor. The party has shown not a shred of loyalty to the man who won it a landslide election after years in the wilderness, who had done little wrong in government, and who had shaky polls but no worse than John Howard at the same part of the election cycle.

Loyalty is two ways. If you run Government through a inner circle of just four people, you alienate your colleagues.

The ODT focuses on debt:

The economy, it is fair to say, is very gradually improving after the short-lived recession, although the position so far as internal and external debt is concerned remains grave.

New Zealand, fortunately, is nowhere near in as bad a way as Britain, whose economy is practically in ruins, and where after last week’s budget, every household will be worse off as the new government tries to rebuild.

A vast range of cuts has been imposed to try to reduce government spending and pay off the colossal debt load.

New Zealand has dealt with similar problems in budgets of the past two years, but beyond the immediate future the economy faces what may turn out to be a difficulty of very serious proportions: a lack of capital. …

The kind of public service job creation the Clark government indulged in has also proved to be a serious drag on the economy: since 2004 more than half of all new jobs were in public administration, health, and education.

Over the same period 40,000 jobs disappeared from agriculture, horticulture, forestry, manufacturing, and transport – what some have described as the “earning side ” of the economy, the tradeable sector.

The tradeable sector went into recession in 2005 and only came out of it in 2009.

Treasury forecasts show steady economic growth of about 3% a year and that is an extremely modest number.

Clearly, though, there will be no new “value-added” jobs unless and until the confidence of businesses to invest and to employ is restored and investors are willing to risk their money.

Our collective failure to do that will inevitably mean all taxpayers will face what the British and other European disaster economies are now confronting.

We need investment and business confidence.

Japan buying votes

June 14th, 2010 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

Gareth Hughes blogs at Frog Blog:

A Sunday Times investigation has exposed Japan for bribing small nations with cash and prostitutes to gain their support for the mass slaughter of whales.

The British seem to excel at this type of investigative journalism (think Fergie) and this will really embarrass the Japanese whaling industry. While we’ve known for a long time that Japan uses aid money to buy votes at the IWC, this investigation gives amounts and a personal touch to the reality. For example, the Tanzanian IWC Commissioner Geoffrey Nanyaro, who talks about an all expenses paid trips to Japan and being set up with prostitutes there – “…it starts by saying: do you want massaging? Are you not lonely? You don’t want any comfort?” Like the experiences certain former ministers are having here, these practises behind closed doors look outrageous once they are out in the open.

Will it impact on the IWC negotiations currently happening in Morocco? I’m not sure – it’s embarrassing but I imagine the ‘bought’ nations will keep voting with Japan who also provocatively sent out its whaling fleet for the Northern Pacific hunt last week.

I’m not a fan of the lunatics at Sea Shepherd, but neither am I fan of the Japanese Government on the whaling issue. Their shameless vote buying at the IWC would get them jailed if it was done on a person to person basis, rather than govt to govt.

This is partly why a negotiated agreement with Japan would be a useful outcome – it would end the years of corruption that has almost destroyed the IWC’s credibility.

New Zealand has negotiated in good faith to try and reach a diplomatic compromise, and I still hope we can reach one that strengthens whale conservation, but this really is an outrageous practice by Japan that makes joining Australia in taking a case to the International Court of Justice a much more appealing option.

Like Gareth, I believe a diplomatic compromise that enhances whale conservation would be a good thing. I have to say it is not looking highly likely. If the diplomatic route fails, then the ICJ is worth considering. However that has its dangers also – if you lose, then the Japanese position will be greatly improved.

Editorials 10 June 2010

June 10th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald says NZ Post must not alienate its customers.

What is surprising about the contents of a letter from the NZ Post board to the Government is the extreme nature of one of the options under consideration. That would see mail delivered every second day.

If enacted, this would be the equivalent of NZ Post shooting itself in the foot. In effect, the organisation would be conceding that postal delivery has become something of an irrelevance.

Advocates of such a move would say that is already largely the case. Over the past year or two, letter volumes have been declining by about 6 to 7 per cent annually, an unprecedented rate far in excess of the 1 per cent or so drop of previous years.

Almost all my mail now is junk. 80% of my suppliers now e-mail me statements etc.

That trend is almost certain to continue as more consumers embrace online communications and bill payments. But delivering mail every second day would surely serve only to accelerate the rate of decline.

Yes, but it would accelerate a decline in costs.

Of these, the ending of Saturday deliveries appeals as a reasonable first step towards cutting costs that would have little impact.

Australia and Britain long ago abandoned weekend deliveries, and the United States is about to do the same. It is remarkable that it has remained part of NZ Post’s contract with the Government for so long.

Indeed, it says much about the organisation’s service ethos. But relatively little mail is delivered on Saturdays, and the service would hardly be missed, even by old people, who rely more on mail than other groups.

A sensible first step.

The Press wants more cruise liners to Christchurch:

The idea of building a swept-up dedicated facility at the Lyttelton port to serve cruise liners is an attractive one.

In addition to the fact that the Lyttelton Port Company says that as its other shipping activities grow it has an urgent need for one anyway, a new, modern facility providing a good first impression for visitors to Christchurch and the wider region is certainly worth serious consideration. The port company has so far, however, not been able to persuade others who would have to put some money up to pay for it that the proposal is financially worth-while. Since they are the ones who would most benefit from the project, it suggests that some of the claims made for it may not stand up under closer scrutiny, at least not in the present financial climate. …

If a compelling economic case can be made that a better facility will increase the volume of traffic at the port above what would occur in any event, then the port company will deserve to win financial support for it. But money should not be put into it simply because it would make an attractive building on the waterfront.

The Dom Post says Peter Bethune is fighting the right fight but with the wrong tactics. I agree. The Dom Post incidentally has been a strong campaigner itself against Japanese whaling:

Supporters of New Zealander Peter Bethune, facing a Tokyo court after boarding a ship protecting Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters, are right to describe as bizarre Sea Shepherd’s decision to ban him from future protests because of his bow andarrows.

Taken at face value, it is a late development of responsibility from an organisation that has a well-deserved reputation for protests that cross the line into idiocy and endanger lives.

Its founder, Paul Watson, threatened in an earlier protest to ram his ship into the slipway of a Japanese whaler, saying he would give it “a steel enema”.

He has been reported as referring to Greenpeace as “Yellowpeace” over its refusal to use violence. In a 2007 interview with the New Yorker magazine, he said Sea Shepherd had sunk – in port – 10 ships. (The magazine credited Sea Shepherd with two sinkings and two attempts.)

That sits oddly with Sea Shepherd’s now announced stance of “aggressive but non-violent direct action”.

Indeed. It may be a publicity stunt to try and get a lesser sentence for Bethune.

Another is that, however much Bethune might wish otherwise, the case does not revolve around Japan’s shameful use of the scientific whaling loophole to pursue what amounts to a commercial operation in the Southern Ocean, but around charges of trespassing, vandalism, possession of a knife, obstructing business and assault – charges on which he appears to have received a fair trial.

Bethune chose foolish tactics to promote his views. The Japanese were entitled to use the law to test whether he went too far. He and his family must now be concerned that he will pay a high price for his high principles.

The four charges he pleaded guilty to were fairly minor, and if he is found innocent of assault, I hope he gets to come home soon. If he is convicted on the acid throwing charge, he may be in Japan for a fair while longer.

The ODT notes the retirement of Pete Hodgson:

Mr Hodgson was no novice when he sought public office. He had become the Labour Party’s master election strategist at a time when such essential duties were still of an amateur nature.

He became aligned with Helen Clark’s backers and by the time she achieved the prime ministership, in 1999, he had become a member of her trusted inner circle along with Michael Cullen, Trevor Mallard, Phil Goff and Steve Maharey.

She appointed him a minister from a caucus light on genuine talent and gave him a heavy workload from the start, reinforced by his task in Parliament’s debating chamber as one half of Labour’s heavy artillery in debates – the other half being another Dunedin MP, Michael Cullen.

As a minister, Mr Hodgson’s success was mixed. His generally detached demeanour – that of a strategist and pragmatic thinker – provided no profile with which the public could warm to, and Ms Clark gave him some most unpopular portfolios including climate change, energy and health.

In politics, nothing lasts, and it became clear Mr Hodgson’s star was losing its shine in 2008, when he was replaced as the party’s chief strategist for the forthcoming election by Helen Clark herself.

Mr Hodgson has generally been considered a well-liked and hard-working constituency MP who wore his political colours lightly when it came to representing Dunedin’s interests and the personal matters with which, as Dunedin North MP, he dealt on a daily basis.

Even in this professional political era, Labour will miss his strengths – and Dunedin will certainly miss his abilities and advocacy.

The Bethune trial

June 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Father-and-son anti-whaling protesters from Auckland clashed with right-wing Japanese yesterday outside the court where Pete Bethune is being tried. …

Gary Thomason and his son Robert, from Auckland, were moved away by Japanese authorities.

They told the Herald they had gone to Japan to show solidarity for Bethune.

Gary Thomason said: “It’s a personal issue for New Zealanders; New Zealand prides itself on its environment and wildlife and respect for other countries and traditions.”

Ummm if one had respect for other countries and traditions, then one would support the tradition of Japan to hunt and eat whale meat.

I’m not arguing for whaling. I’m just pointing out the contradiction in the statement.

Personally I’m supportive of protests against Japanese whaling, from the likes of Greenpeace as they don’t blow up ships and throw acid at people. I only become more supportive of the Japanese whalers when Sea Shepherd is involved.

Bethune boarded the whaling vessel the Shonan Maru 2 in February. He has admitted trespass, possessing a weapon, damage to property and obstructing commercial activity – charges which carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

But it is believed the prosecution is seeking only 2 to three years.

I don’t know the Japanese criminal code, but to my mind the four charges above are all pretty minor, and none which should attract jail time. Yes I know Bethune brought it on himself, but boarding a ship without permission and cutting a net are hardly the crimes of the century.

If this is all he is convicted of, then he should just be sentenced to time served and booted out.

He denied a charge of assault, saying rancid butter stinkbombs he threw at Japanese ships were no more acidic than orange juice.

Prosecutors told the court a rancid butter, or butyric acid, stinkbomb caused chemical burns to the face of a 24-year-old Japanese crew member during a February 11 clash and also hurt the eyes of other whalers.

This is the more serious charge, as it actually involved violence and personal harm. And again Sea Shepherd have a long history of violence – blowing up ships and ramming ships etc.

Butyric acid is not like nitric acid – it is a fairly mild acid. But it does cause nausea and can do damage. The Sea Shepherd protesters do not throw it at boats, but at people. It is clearly assault, and if Bethune is found guilty on this charge, there should be enough of a punishment to be a deterrent.

But this I don’t mean years in jail, or even lots of months. Again I have no idea of what the Japanese norm is for sentencing, but I would have thought less than six months is appropriate.

Of course Bethune would have got away with throwing the acid bombs, if he had not chosen to board the Japanese ship. They did not invade the SS boats and grab him off there. He boarded their ship, in the full knowledge he would be arrested and put on trial. He wanted the trial as a publicity stunt.

More hypocrisy exposed

May 4th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Browning at Pundit exposes the hypocrisy of Labour and Chris Carter on the whaling issue.

Chris Carter’s excoriation of the Key government on whaling is rubbished by official MFAT papers showing similar negotiations when Labour was the government and Carter whaling Minister.

Sigh. Why am I not surprised.

… documents released to Pundit under the Official Information Act confirm that diplomatic talks commenced and were actively pushed on Labour’s watch, by Carter and Phil Goff, as the former Ministers of Conservation and Foreign Affairs, on terms so similar that if you blinked you’d miss the difference.

So Labour chose to undermine the NZ Government attempts to get an agreement, for petty grand standing.

The papers make plain what I expected: that New Zealand does not support resumption of commercial whaling. But they also say that, if commercial whaling was to resume, it would need to be robustly regulated and managed. Therefore, despite New Zealand’s strongly anti-whaling position, between 2005 and 2008 it was actively participating in “negotiations on a revised management scheme, which would provide a regime to govern commercial whaling if it ever resumed”.

Sound familiar.

According to an MFAT communique of July 25, 2005: “The main new development from IWC57 was the resolution agreeing to consider a high-level diplomatic conference if needed to resolve outstanding issues on an RMS … As noted by Minister Carter in comments to the media, New Zealand is prepared in principle to support the idea of a diplomatic conference …”. You remember the RMS — the revised management scheme, that would govern commercial whaling if it ever resumed.

Hmmn were there two Ministers Carter in the Labour Government?

But the best is yet to come:

A bit over six months later, Ministers had warmed up to the idea quite a lot. An email dated February 20, 2006 records: “I had a call from Chris Carter’s office … about the submission on the approach the delegation should take at the Cambridge meeting. The Minister has ticked off on all the recommendations except the one that says the delegation should not push the idea of a diplomatic conference”. A briefing to the Minister of Foreign Affairs dated February 10, 2006, annotated and signed by Phil Goff, includes this response to officials’ advice:

It is recommended that you:

3. agree that … New Zealand does not support a resumption of commercial whaling. Nonetheless, if commercial whaling were to resume, we would want it to be regulated through a strong and robust RMS … commercial whaling under an RMS would be incompatible with current scientific whaling and … an RMS needs to address this issue … [Yes]

4. agree that New Zealand should not lead calls for a diplomatic conference to discuss the future of the IWC … [No]

This is stunning. The officials recommended NZ should not lead the calls for a diplomatic conference leading to a revised management system, and Chris Carter and Phil Goff over-rode that advice to set a policy that NZ should actively push for such a conference.

Roughan on Bethune

April 10th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

John Roughan writes in the Herald:

Peter Bethune mortgaged his house to build himself the boat of his imagination, a weird biofuelled motor trimaran, and set out to race around the world in it a few years ago. That adventure ended when his craft collided with a fishing skiff of Guatemala and a fisherman was killed. He was detained by Guatemalan authorities but not charged and was allowed to leave after paying compensation to the dead man’s family.

So Bethune has had a collision before, and was liable for a man’s death to the extent he was obliged to pay compensation for the death.

If someone wants to hurtle around a working ship with the expressed intention of getting in the way of its operations I don’t have much difficulty deciding where fault lies.

Sea Shepherd have had eight collisions with other boats. As far as i know the Japanenese whalers have never ever collided with another boat – except Sea Shepherd ones.

Sea Shepherd has done stuff like stick 100 tonnes of concrete on their bow to enable it to ran and disable other ships. They have even laid mines three times on ships to sink them. They throw acid at crew members.They have fired guns at police.

Even Greenpeace regard them as violent nutters. Before he became their biggest fan in Opposition, even Chris Carter denounced them:

New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter criticized Sea Shepherd as irresponsible for using tactics such as running into the other vessel with a “can opener” device, a seven-foot steel blade on the starboard bow designed to damage the hull of an enemy ship

While today Carter says:

He has a few sympathisers in this country. Labour MPs like Chris Carter call him a “great New Zealander”

Such consistency.

In this case Bethune is probably content to stay where he is for a while, drawing continuing attention for his cause. Back here, his family may be missing him but they are accustomed to long absences. When he got himself taken by the whaler his wife Sharyn said: “Nothing really surprises us these days.” She estimated that over the past five years he had been home for a total of one.

Puts into context the newspaper stories about how upset his family were that he would not be there for a child’s birthday.

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock

Editorials 23 March 2010

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

The Herald supports a new approach on whaling:

There comes a moment in intractable disputes when someone or something turns existing thinking upside down to reveal an altogether new approach to resolution. Upending the chess board, as it is known in some political circles, can unlock minds and banish stalemate. It was evident in the end of apartheid in South Africa and the troubles in Northern Ireland and in the change in fortunes for American troops in Iraq once some Sunni insurgents were co-opted to the general cause of peace. Domestically, the cross-party accord on the anti-smacking legislation removed that emotional political pit from the 2008 general election campaign. Now, a new way of Saving the Whales has emerged. …

For New Zealand to be party to an agreement which allows the hunting of whales by Japan, Iceland and Norway after two generations of bumper-sticker policy to the contrary is, superficially, preposterous. Yet if the end, rather than the means, is of real importance in this cause, then surely the status quo is equally preposterous. Whaling for “scientific research” would be one of the most offensive euphemisms and dangerous policy constructs in international affairs. In truth, the ability of New Zealand and allied nations to force Japan and others to stop their scientific lie, given the economic and diplomatic realities, is as depleted as the whale pods they seek to protect.

The Government should pursue the possibility of a qualified moratorium, one that could allow those of a nationalist whaling sentiment to save face while committing, over time, to stopping the barbarism. Either way, whales will die. But whole species could be saved.

Labour continues to support purity over practicality.

Both The Press and the Dom Post say Sharples is wrong. First The Press:

At regular intervals the Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, makes statements guaranteed to raise the hackles of many New Zealanders.

His latest offering was to describe the principles of “one vote for one person” and “democratic elections” as artificial political concoctions. …

But to criticise cornerstones of our democratic system of governance does a disservice to the pioneers of electoral reform in Britain and New Zealand, especially as Sharples was speaking as Maori Affairs Minister and not as his party’s co-leader. Over centuries the franchise was widened until the present position was reached in which, with very few exceptions, all those 18 years and older have one vote, or two under MMP.

And the Dom Post:

Democracy (from the Greek demokratia) is an amalgam of two Greek terms: demos meaning people and kratia meaning power. It denotes government by the people or, literally, people power. It is a simple but incredibly powerful concept that has improved the quality of life of virtually everyone who has had the good fortune to be born into a state in which one person’s vote counts the same as every other person’s.

It is also a concept which millions, including New Zealanders, have given their lives to defend, and a concept that has to be defended against muddled thinking as well as evil doing.

Into that first category must be put Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples’ recent musings on the nature of democracy. According to Dr Sharples, the essence of democracy is not one person one vote, which he describes as an “artificial political concoction” but “goals towards equity … and inclusiveness”. …

Democracy is not simply one of many alternatives on a menu from which nations can choose with impunity. It is the only form of government that gives the meanest citizen the same power at the ballot box as the rich, the only system that has ever protected individual rights, the only system that ensures the peaceful transfer of power and the only system in which weak minorities have consistently been able to press their causes.

Hear hear.

And the ODT on the US and Israel:

While all these countries find much in common with Israel, and much to admire about it, its intransigence in the field of international relations is evidently a source of frustration and anxiety.

As much as Mr Obama is soft-pedalling in public over the recent spat, in private there is little doubt the Administration is furious.

The US desperately needs alliances, and sympathy, in the Middle East beyond its traditional bonds with Israel if it is to maintain pressure against Iran’s acquisition of the bomb.

One sure way it sees of achieving this is through making progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, an objective that, from time to time, seems to slip down Mr Netanyahu’s, and Israel’s, agenda.

Palmer on Whaling

March 21st, 2010 at 4:38 pm by David Farrar

Q+A interviewed former Labour PM and NZ’s rep to the IWC, Sir Geoffrey Palmer:

GEOFFREY No I’m saying that’s the number of permits that are issued, the number of – they don’t always kill the number that they issue permits for, they’re killing on average over 1600 whales a year right now commercially.

GUYON So how many will be killed after this proposal should it go ahead?

GEOFFREY We don’t know because that hasn’t been negotiated yet, but unless it’s a substantial reduction it won’t be worth countries like New Zealand considering, it has to be a substantial reduction, that’s the whole purpose of this exercise.

And this is what Labour is campaigning against – a substantial reduction in whaling. They are saying best to have futile protests against whaling, rather than actually achieve a reduction.

GUYON You’re saying that the moratorium on commercial whaling won’t actually be lifted, under what grounds then will whales be killed under this proposal?

GEOFFREY They’ll be killed under an interim arrangement that for ten years there will be an ability for the Whaling Commission to function. This is one of the worst international organisations we have, it is completely dysfunctional, it is a place where there are enormous disputes. For the last two years there’s been a complicated international negotiation going on, to try and bring it together so it can work, because if it doesn’t work it will collapse, and if it collapses there’ll be nothing to protect the whales.

People don’t realise that Japan and allies are close to gaining a majority on the IWC, which would allow them to remove all barriers on whaling. That will be great for the protest movement but not so good for the whales.

GUYON This is though with all respect, a major change in New Zealand’s position on whaling. I mean we have had a staunch opposition to any form of commercial whaling and now we’re saying that we are potentially supporting a proposal that would allow that under certain grounds.

GEOFFREY We’re not saying that, we’re saying that we have to do something to fix the position of whales and make it better so fewer are killed. We’re not supporting commercial whaling, I don’t think New Zealand will ever support that. The question is how you achieve your objectives. The only other way of looking at this question is to offer to litigate at the International Court of Justice as Australia is offering to do, we regard that as a very uncertain proposition at all, and if that case were lost the situation would be worse than it is now.

Yet Chris Carter continues to misrepresent even his former Leader, on this issue by claiming NZ is supporting commercial whaling.

Media manipulation

March 18th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As New Zealand anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune sat confined in Japanese custody yesterday his eldest daughter turned 15, unsure of when she will next see her father.

How is this a story? It is not as if the Japanese Government sent a squad of ninjas to kidnap Bethune from his family home.

Bethune trespassed on board a Japanese ship, knowing he was breaking the law in doing so. He has in fact been looked after well on the ship, fed and given a room. And when back in Japan, he is of course facing charges for his trespass.

The sole reason he is not at home for his daughter’s birthday is because he chose not to be there – he chose to board the Japanese ship.

Danielle’s mother, Sharyn, was showing “remarkable resilience” through the tough time, which had been a struggle for the family emotionally and financially, he said. The pair have another daughter Alycia, who is 13.

It is a shame Bethune has abandoned his family. But that was his choice. Bethune wanted to be arrested, and wants to have a trial in Japan.

Personally if I was the Japanese Government I’d avoid a trial and just kick him out. But have no doubt that is the last thing Bethune wants – to be home with his family. He wants a high profile trial.

The whaling debate

March 10th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Browning at Pundit pulls no punches:

Shame on Labour spokesperson Chris Carter and partisan blog The Standard for using anti-whaling diplomacy for short-term political gain

Never has the right-wing sobriquet “The Stranded” seemed more appropriate.

I am truly loathe to diss a friendly fellow blog, and I apologise for it already. But they asked for it. It stems from this hysterical politicisation of New Zealand’s IWC negotiating stance, here and here, by The Standard blogger Eddie, which even one of their own readers characterised as “partisan hackery”. “I’m not sure what I think of this [wrote Neil] but using it as an excuse for more partisan hackery is tedious”. That didn’t stop Labour spokesperson Chris Carter wading in:

And then:

Even more offensive than Eddie’s posts was colleague Marty G’s comments, excoriating anyone who might disagree on the comments thread, evidently mistaking ad hominem for wit: “I don’t give a crap about Palmer … have you suffered a head injury? … follow the link in the post, genius” … and so on.

Claire concludes:

Using dead whales as pawns in a political game is no less sickening than their original butchery. Carter says the Labour Party stands for their conservation. What I take from the past two day’s performance is that it stands for ill advised unnuanced politicking, over substantive hard policy choices.

John Armstrong also looks at the diplomatic proposal:

Has New Zealand sold out to Japan by backing a compromise proposal before the International Whaling Commission which would reopen the door to commercial slaughter of whales, albeit in limited numbers?

The answer is an emphatic “no”. If John Key and his Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, should plead guilty to any charge, it is to one of being realistic.

The one-dimensional “you are either with us or against us” nature of the debate between the pro- and anti-whaling brigades leaves little room for the subtlety and nuance of diplomacy which – despite the hairy chest-beating of Australia’s Rudd Government – is the only viable means of reducing the ever-increasing number of whales being harpooned in the southern oceans.

Even the merest hint of concession to the Japanese had the Government this week labelled as “pro-whaling” by Labour. That is absurd. It is equally absurd to paint the Government’s caution compared with Australia’s bellicosity as evidence National does not give a toss about the environment.

Were that true then Sir Geoffrey Palmer – someone with a passion for preserving the environment and the expertise in international law to make it happen in this case – would by now have presumably resigned as New Zealand’s Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission.

And what has happened under the present stand off:

The status quo on whaling is no longer tenable. Japan’s ships continue to steam through the huge loophole which permits whales to be killed for “scientific” purposes. The number of whales slaughtered each year for science has risen steadily from 300 in 1990 to an expected 3000 this year.

Australia’s threat to take Japan to the International Court of Justice might make people feel a lot better about those figures. It will not save one whale. It could in fact endanger many more.

It would be years before the court made a judgment. If Australia were to lose its case on the legality of whaling, it could be open slather on the species.

The only thing Australia is likely to achieve is wrecking any consensus on the plan to allow commercial whaling for a 10-year period, but with big cuts in the numbers killed each year,

This plan would buy time for the commission while restoring some control over the numbers killed – something it is powerless to do with regard to scientific whaling . …

With an election later this year, narrowing opinion polls plus a manifesto commitment to go to the international court, Kevin Rudd is having severe problems with digestion. His tough talk should be seen for what it really is – utter expedience, making New Zealand’s stance look principled in comparison.


Editorials 9 March 2010

March 9th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald says student loans should be linked to success:

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce had barely opened the portfolio passed to him at the end of January before he floated a significant change. He proposes to make student loans conditional on the student’s success. Living allowances available to students on age, income and residential criteria are not available to those who failed more than half their course the previous year. But loans are subject to no such test. From next year they could be.

And should be. The loan scheme attracts loud criticism from students’ associations because unlike grants and allowances, loans must be paid back. They call the debt a burden when it is, in fact, a considerable benefit from the taxpayer. The loans carry no interest during the borrower’s years of full-time study and repayments are not required until the recipient is earning an income.

And now the loans carry no interest, ever.

Since National promised at the last election to keep the loans interest-free, he needs to find another way to rein in their cost. Making them conditional on pass rates is an obvious and reasonable step. …

Higher education is expensive for the country and it would be reasonable to restrict it to school leavers who can pass an entrance test.

Mr Joyce should look beyond loan conditions and consider entry restrictions as he searches for the savings that all ministers are expected to produce from their portfolios for this year’s telling Budget.

I would also get rid of the stupid fees maxima policy.

The Dominion Post wants the whaling slaughter stopped any way possible:

The messy dispute now taking place between opponents of whaling is about tactics, not aims. That is what the critics of New Zealand’s willingness to explore a diplomatic solution that allows for some limited commercial whaling are refusing to acknowledge.

Labour foreign affairs spokesman Chris Carter – whose own government had no success in nine years stopping the Japanese – lambasted the Government yesterday as “an active advocate for the resumption of commercial whaling” adding it “simply doesn’t care about marine mammal conservation”. That owes more to rhetoric than realism, and fails to acknowledge the need for practicality as well as principles.

I suspect some opponents of whaling would be horrified if it stopped, as they would then have one less thing to protest about.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has been suitably cautious over any arrangement. He is quite clear that the Government’s aim is to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. He told Radio New Zealand those seeking a diplomatic solution had no mandate to do any deal, but were to see if they could come up with a solution “that the New Zealand Government and then the New Zealand people can consider”.

The Government is right to be cautious, but it is also right to allow Sir Geoffrey to explore all options.

In any negotiation, there has to be concessions from both sides. Otherwise there is nothing to negotiate.

Editorials 24 February 2010

February 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald wants a diplomatic end to whaling:

The diplomacy has been described by his Government as “unprecedented”, and hopes have been high that a breakthrough would be made within a few months.

Most logically, this would involve Japan abandoning or drastically scaling back its annual whaling in the Southern Ocean in exchange for a few carrots, including, perhaps, the resumption of commercial whaling in its own waters.

The diplomatic endeavours are clearly finely balanced. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key indicated as much when he suggested this week that the outcome of the diplomacy would be either a stunning success or a stunning failure.

But if the whaling ends, then Sea Shepherd will have to find new ships to ram!

Not surprisingly the Dom Post talks ministerial credit cards:

More importantly, Mr Key must now explain how the payments were approved by officials who are supposed to act as the watchdogs in the system, but have instead assumed the role of rubber stamp.

If ministers should be aware of the rules – and they should – then so should the officials whose job it is to administer them. Either they were not, or they felt unable to reject a ministerial claim. Whichever was the case, those bureaucrats have seriously failed the public by being incompetent or meek to the point of surrender.

It is up to Mr Key, as the minister in charge of Ministerial Services, to investigate what happened, and to make the staff involved answerable for their decisions. Then he needs to make it crystal clear that nothing outside the rules should ever be agreed to, no matter who’s asking.

I agree the rules must be applied without fear or favour.

The Press weighs in on the same theme:

Cabinet ministers should by now be well aware how damaging the perception is that they have used their position to claim unjustified perks. It is therefore incumbent upon them to familiarise themselves with the rules pertaining to their various allowances and, if they have one, their ministerial credit card.

The rules regarding credit cards emphasise that they cannot be used for personal spending, regardless of whether they do so with the intention of making a reimbursement. In other words, the cards must be used for spending associated with their ministerial work. …

Ministers must always remember that when using their credit cards they are spending public money. It is not like a private-sector operation where the money spent is that of the company rather than the taxpayer.

And in the private sector the norm is for credit card receipts to be rigorously inspected, which has clearly not always occurred when officials approved illegitimate ministerial credit card use, or allowed Heatley to reimburse Ministerial Services.

To their credit, neither Heatley nor Brownlee has attempted to argue the toss. They have immediately apologised and repaid their spending which was outside the rules.

Unlike the saga in the UK.

And the ODT talks protecting police:

Whenever a police officer is bashed or abused, we all take a hit.

That is because the police are community proxies.

They are our protectors and law enforcers.

They are an integral and essential part of what makes a peaceful and effectively functioning society.

As such, we all have a fundamental interest in them, their work and their safety.

Hear hear.

Editorials 17 February 2010

February 17th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald says electoral law reform is on the right track:

The government has gone the right way about electoral finance reform, consulting all other parties as the previous Government did not.

Inevitably, therefore, the decisions announced yesterday contain some comfort for parties such as Labour that fear private money in politics, and some disappointment for those who welcome all contributions to public life.

My concern is that a future Labour Government will not be as restrained as National has been, and will force through changes that benefit them, even if other parties are opposed. What would be welcome is for Labour to make a clear declaration that they will not in future push through electoral law changes without a political consensus behind them.

There will be no relaxation of the restrictions on election broadcasts, which can be made only by political parties that have to make them with public money and must be kept within the amounts allocated.

It would be better to let, in fact insist, parties use their own money for television and radio commercials, or let them use public funding for any form of advertising they prefer. But Labour and the Green Party were strongly opposed to any change.

I agree. It is very disappointing that no change is recommended. I hope the Select Committee will be open to persuasion.

The decisions announced yesterday do not appear to go far towards resolving the misuse of parliamentary funds for election purposes. The usual rule is that parliamentary information money can be used to push party barrows as long as the material does not expressly urge a vote, a donation or membership of a party.

It is well past time a tougher test was imposed, and not just within three months of an election, which is the best we can expect from this exercise.

I think the likely tougher test during the regulated period would be a huge improvement. I do not think it is practical to have this tougher test during the entire electoral cycle as almost every publication put out by parliamentary parties has an element of seeking to influence voters towards them.

The Press attacks the Sea Shepherd publicity stunts:

Most New Zealanders recognise for the self-serving farce which it is the Japanese notion of scientific whaling and are appalled by the view that in order to conduct research into whales it is necessary to kill them.

But most people also believe that international pressure and setting, as New Zealand is doing, an example of non-lethal research are more likely to end whaling than the confrontational antics of the radical Sea Shepherd conservation group.

I hate the hypocrisy of the Japanese claiming the whaling is scientific research, but I hate the lunatics of Sea Shepherd even more.

The Dominion Post does not want the taxpayer funding an America’s Cup bid:

Prime Minister John Key says the Government might back a bid as its Labour predecessors did in 2003 and 2007. Labour put $30 million into the underfunded 2003 defence, $34m into the unsuccessful 2007 challenge in Valencia, and, immediately after that loss, pledged another $10m to Team NZ to stop crew members being poached.

Mr Key should think again. It is not the role of government to fund the sporting pursuits or obsessions of millionaire yachtsmen.

The time to put money into the cup was when there was a realistic prospect it would generate a financial dividend. That time has passed.

The cup is of sporting interest to only a small number of New Zealanders. The rules are obscure – and endlessly up for interpretation in court – the competitors are remote and the action is incomprehensible without a television set, computer graphics and the services of commentator Peter Montgomery.

The event’s primary attraction is as a magnet for the world’s wealthy. Hosting the 2003 regatta was reputedly worth $529m to Auckland businesses. The New Zealand team performed commendably in 2007, winning the challenger series and winning two races in the best of nine contest with Alinghi for the cup itself.

But with many of New Zealand’s best sailors now sailing for foreign syndicates and foreign billionaires lining up to bankroll challenges, the prospect of Team NZ again winning the cup is so slight that the Government should forget it.

I agree. Kiwis keep winning the Cup – but not for NZ syndicates.  Leave it to the billionaires to fund.

The ODT examines colonoscopies:

The report on the 33 colonoscopy patients and the Otago District Health Board is a mixed bag. It gives all sorts of detail about the board service, or lack of service, but it fails to spell out answers to basic questions about these patients.

Did the board provide timely and adequate colonoscopies? And was the treatment of these patients according to board and national criteria? What the report does say is that those audited did have “prolonged journeys” through the public system.

In “report speak” that seems to be saying that the answer to the first question is no.

Check early and check often!

Sea Shepherd

February 8th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

No surprise there has been another collision as the stated aim of the Sea Shepherd Society is to sink the opposition. I am amazed that the media breathlessly report on each clash with doubt over who is responsible.

Wikipedia states on Paul Watson:

As of 2009, Paul Watson has said that the organization has sunk ten whaling ships while also destroying millions of dollars worth of equipment.

Their aim is to destroy and sink whaling ships. So who do you think causes the crashes.

Of course every time there is a crash, the Sea Shepherd people claim they were not at fault. Anotehr quote from Wikipedia may help the media:

Watson’s public relations savvy is shown in an episode of Whale Wars when he creates an international media “storm” after two crewmembers are detained on a Japanese whaling vessel.[18] In his book, Earthforce!, Watson advises readers to make up facts and figures when they need to, and to deliver them to reporters confidently.[9] He also states that the “truth is irrelevant” due the nature of mass media.[19

So Watson has written a book telling his followers to lie to the media in a confident way, and the media still fall for it and report the claims without scepticism.

Japanese Whalers vs Sea Shepherd

January 7th, 2010 at 9:13 am by David Farrar

Herald story is here.

My take:

Japanese Whalers Bad

Sea Shepherd Mad

Whale Wars

January 7th, 2010 at 8:15 am by Jenna Raeburn

Busted Blonde links to incredible footage of the Sea Shepherd trimaran Ady Gil accelerating into the path of the Japanese whaling ship which allegedly rammed it. Watch the wake of the Ady Gil as the ship approaches.

The crew members’ statement that the whaler was “trying to kill us, ramming us like that in the most hostile environments in the world. The only way to describe it is attempted murder” is simply ridiculous. Another ship, the Bob Barker, was close enough to see everything and the crew were rescued immediately. And the worst that happened was a clip on the nose and a few water cannons.

Typically, though BBC and some Australian newspapers have picked up on this, Stuff continues to headline that the Japanese ship “rammed” the boat. You have to search for the alternative article in the World section, halfway down, for any mention of the other side of the story.

Can anyone translate the Japanese?