The Herald reports:

Joseph Parker’s promoters are asking for taxpayers’ money to ensure the New Zealand heavyweight boxer gets a world title fight in Auckland in December.

Promoter Dean Lonergan told the Herald last week that Duco Events will require sponsorship and funding to the tune of seven figures for the December 10 fight between Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr for the WBO world title.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce confirmed yesterday that an application for Government funding had been received for the bout.

“That will go through the process and be treated like any other application,” he said.
Joyce said it would have to meet a range of criteria to quality for a contribution from the Major Events Development Fund. In particular, the organisers would have to show that it could not go ahead without Government money.

“The whole idea of the fund is to develop new major events,” Joyce said.

“It’s about providing money to support something that would otherwise not happen.

“For example, and this is an extreme example, a rugby test is already happening and if it came to the major events fund then we’d say ‘it’s going to happen anyway’.”

The fund had previously been used to help bring the Under-20 Football World Cup and the Rugby League World Cup to New Zealand.

I can see the case for events like those named above – true world cups.

But boxing is a corrupt fragmented sport with hundreds of so called world titles being fought over. I don’t see any case for taxpayers subsidising a fight.

Clinton leading in all but one swing state

538 has the following leads for Clinton in the swing states:

  1. Oregon 12.1%
  2. Virginia 9.8%
  3. Michigan 9.3%
  4. New Hampshire 9.0%
  5. Wisconsin 8.2%
  6. Colorado 7.8%
  7. Minnesota 7.4%
  8. Pennsylvania 7.3%
  9. Nevada 4.1%
  10. Florida 4.0%
  11. North Carolina 3.1%
  12. Ohio 2.0%
  13. Arizona 0.8%

So at the moment is is Clinton 351 and Trump 187. If he even did won the states where he trails by under 5% that gives him 79 more so 266 – four short. He needs to win all of those and one of the states where he trails by 7% or more.

Up until the last few days the Trump effect was not hitting the Senate races that much. It was 50/50 but now the Dems are seen as 73% likely to gain control. They lead by the following in the GOP held seats:

  1. Illinois 9.8%
  2. Wisconsin 8.2%
  3. Indiana 3.5%
  4. New Hampshire 2.4%
  5. Missouri 1.2%
  6. Pennsylvania 0.7%

So if these hold up the Democrats get 52 seats in the Senate.

Billie Jordan’s story

Many readers will recall Erin Leigh, the civil servant who was a whistleblower against Labour Ministers undermining the neutrality of the public service.

Many will also be aware of Billie Jordan, who led the Waiheke Hip Op-eration Crew to global publicity. Well it turns out they are the same person!

I don’t normally run a lengthy release but am doing so in this case as the story is so detailed. I have removed a couple of paragraphs around her family, as I have no way of contacting them to verify. I’m happy to run a response from the Herald.

This is her story:

“Everyone who knows me personally, knows I was called Erin Leigh before I
changed my name by Deed Poll eight years ago. I’m the same person as I was then,
I just have a different name. So why did I change my name? Well, two reasons: I had
an abusive childhood and didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with a name given
to me by my abusers; it was a way to get my power back and secondly, I was
defamed by the NZ Labour Government in 2007 when I blew the whistle on them
breaking the laws of neutrality in the public service. I had huge support from NZ
when I did this and was even nominated public servant of the year. However
although people love whistle blowers and most respect them, they don’t necessarily
want to employ them. Changing my name to something that was easy to say and
spell and androgynous gave me the fresh start I was looking for in life. I am
incredibly proud of the fact that when I was Erin Leigh I took the Ministry for the
Environment and the Attorney General to court – and won my case in the Supreme

I used that knowledge and my grit and determination to inspire and encourage my
senior citizen hip hop dancers to never give up or think they can’t achieve almost
impossible goals which seem so overwhelming at first. I had unwavering faith in my
dancers that they would make it to the world hip hop championships in just eight
months time – after all – if I, a mere public servant at the bottom of the pile could take
on the New Zealand Labour Government and win in the supreme court, anything
was possible.
If the fact I am Erin Leigh is news to you, it’s not because I have tried to hide it, it’s
just never been relevant to hip hop dancing. I used to be a journalist and have
friends in nearly every media outlet in the country – they have always known Billie
Jordan equals Erin Leigh. I haven’t had a face transplant and am in the public eye a
lot; if you were going to try and hide your identity you certainly wouldn’t allow yourself
to be in an international documentary film (Hip Hop-eration), have hundreds of news
media interviews and have your face plastered on nearly every publication in the
country – or travel around the country speaking to large groups of people. My life
story, including the time when I was called Erin Leigh, is all in my book (yet to be
Hollywood know about it and have purchased my life story to make a film, Minister’s
of Parliament know my previous name, the news media know, my dance group have
always known, my work colleagues and speaking engagement agency knows, the
NZ Film Commission knows, the documentary film production company who made
Hip Hop-eration know – in fact I think every person who has been in my life for longer
than one hour knows.

Surviving childhood abuse is a very complex ordeal and the pathway to healing for
all involved is not straight forward. I tried to leave it in the past and put a lot of effort
into appeasing my parents and buying them gifts even though I continued to be
treated badly in adulthood.

[detailed deleted by DPF]

I have been shocked by the actions of Kim Knight from the Herald over the past two days which makes me despair New Zealand has just stepped back 200 years in how
victims of abuse are treated. She somehow tracked down my confidential counsellor
who I started seeing in 2007 and asked her to contact the Herald about my abuse.
My counsellor rang me last night and told me about the phone message she received and the fact she was not going to even acknowledge it let alone reveal highly confidential details of my abuse and counselling to splash all over the papers.

Continue reading »

Winners and losers from the final presidential debate

Chris Cillizza writes:


* Hillary Clinton: This was the Democratic nominee’s best debate performance. She finally figured out the right calibration of ignoring and engaging Trump. Given her considerable edge in the electoral map, Clinton didn’t need a moment in this debate, she simply needed to survive. But she had a moment, anyway — with a stirring answer in response to Trump’s comments about women and the allegations against him of groping nine different women. Clinton, borrowing from Michelle Obama’s speech on the same subject, was deeply human and relatable in that moment. Throughout the rest of the debate, she did what we know she knows how to do well: She deftly dropped a series of opposition research hits and sprinkled in a series of attempts to goad Trump into mistakes. She came across as calm and composed in the face of his, at times, tough-to-watch interruptions. (“Such a nasty woman,” Trump said of Clinton as she was speaking toward the end of the debate.) Her performance wasn’t perfect; she struggled to defend the Clinton Foundation, for example, but Trump managed to throw her an opening to talk about his own foundation’s issues. All in all, Clinton won — a clean sweep of the three debates.

* Chris Wallace: Wallace was the best moderator of the four debates — three presidential, one vice presidential. Poised and confident, he sought to steer the conversation without dominating it. He allowed the candidates to debate issues back and forth but, when they veered off course and didn’t answer his questions, he made sure to let them know about it. And, as was the case in other Fox-sponsored debates in the primary season, Wallace’s questions were just top-notch. On immigration, on the women alleging that Trump groped them, on the Clinton Foundation, Wallace asked blunt questions that demanded straight answers.

* Vladimir Putin: The Russian leader had to be thrilled about the amount of airtime he and his country received in the debate. And Trump, while insisting that he and the Russian president are not, in fact, friends, repeatedly said that he knew for a fact that Putin had no respect for Clinton. Any airtime for Putin in a debate with tens of millions of Americans watching probably make him very, very happy.

* David Fahrenthold: The WaPo reporter who has broken every piece of news about the Trump Foundation didn’t get mentioned by name during the debate but he was all over it. Clinton mentioned Fahrenthold’s reporting about the six-foot portrait Trump bought of himself — with charity money. Wallace noted that Trump had used foundation money to pay off fines — another Fahrenthold scoop. This was the biggest night for Fahrenthold since he won the Ciquizza!!! (Side note: Make sure to read my conversation with Dave about how he happened onto the Trump Foundation story and how he continues to break big news on it.)

Chris Wallace was by far the best moderator.


* Donald Trump: Top to bottom, this was Trump’s most consistent and best debate. But, it wasn’t a good debate for him. Not at all. His signature moment — and the defining moment of the entire debate — came when he refused to say he would concede if the election results showed he had lost. Trump’s I’ll-just-wait-and-see answer was a total disaster and will be the only thing people are talking about coming out of the debate.Trump’s first 30 minutes were actually quite good. But, as has so often been the case in this campaign, Trump simply couldn’t stick to his plan. As the debate wore on, he became more and more short-tempered and curt; it culminated with his sarcastic praise for Clinton regarding ISIS and his “such a nasty woman” interruption. Trump’s task in this debate — to fundamentally rejigger its course — was always a bridge too far. But it’s hard to see how he even made incremental progress toward that goal on Wednesday night.

If Trump was disciplined he could be a very effective debater. But he doesn’t hold his focus.

* Calls for silence: In the 15 minutes before the debate started, there were roughly 487 warnings from people on stage that the audience needed to remain totally silent during the debate. This is, to be blunt, dumb. If you don’t want people to cheer, boo or otherwise react, don’t have an audience. Come on, man.

I agree – you have an audience to get a reaction.

I hope she has lost custody of the son?

Stuff reports:

A Waikato woman driving drunk with a toddler in her lap nearly crashed into a police patrol car.

Tahi Mary Mahu, 34, of Ngaruawahia, didn’t have a valid driver licence, either.

She pleaded guilty before Judge Simon Menzies at the Huntly District Court on Thursday morning on four charges: ill treatment or neglect of a child, driving in a dangerous manner, driving without the appropriate licence, and driving with excess breath alcohol.

They relate to a Sunday afternoon when she was caught drunk with her three-year-old son, who was unrestrained on her lap and gripping the wheel.

Driving drunk is bad.

Driving drunk with a child in the car is worse.

Driving drunk with the child sitting on your lap is child abuse.

An incompetent bill

Stuff reports:

A bill trying to force an immediate return to democracy at Environment Canterbury (ECan) will go before Parliament.

It comes less than 48 hours after the Government appointed six councillors to the regional council.

The Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ceremonial biscuit tin on Thursday.

The amendment bill was authored by Labour MP Dr Megan Woods, and would force a full ECan election if passed.

It does not say whether the recently-elected councillors would lose their positions. Such specifics would be worked out during the select committee process, if it passed its first reading.

Woods said her preference was for the elected councillors to stay, with elections only for the appointed positions in newly-drawn up constituencies.

I’m not sure the bill will even make a first reading because it is now a nonsense. Lazy Labour didn’t even bother to update their bill.

The bill is here. It says:

This Act amends the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010 (the principal Act). …

The commissioners shall immediately instruct the electoral officer under section 8 of the Local Electoral Act 2001 to hold a special general election for Environment Canterbury.

The problem for Woods and Labour is there are no more Commissioners and the Act they are trying to amend is no longer in effect. Total incompetence. They could have updated their bill during the last year, but failed to do so.

The Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010 has been superseded by the Environment Canterbury (Transitional Governance Arrangements) Act 2016.

There are no commissioners anymore. They can not instruct anyone. The bill should be tossed aside on the basis it is amending the wrong Act.

The Tostee verdict

I’m not surprised that Gable Tostee was not convicted of murder. It was always going to be hard for a jury to consider that he was responsible for her death beyond reasonable doubt.

Let me start by saying that Tostee seems a pretty reprehensible human being. His general attitude towards women is appalling and his behaviour after her death even more so. He was focused on himself, not on her.

Also that while he may not have been legally responsible for her death, his actions were substandard, to put it mildly. If he has tried to calm her down, or evicted her into the foyer instead of the balcony, then she may be alive.

And it is tragic for Warriena Wright that she is dead, and awful for her family and friends.

However the evidence, primarily the audio recording, did not clearly establish the prosecution’s case beyond reasonable doubt. Was she trying to climb down the balcony because of a genuine fear that Tostee was going to harm her, or was it a decision affected by alcohol?

The verdict was determined by the jury who heard all the facts. But I do recall an experience that reminded me of how alcohol can affect you ability to assess risks.

In the mid 1990s I was at a political conference in Hobart. One of our party got rather wasted. So we took him home to the hotel and put him in his room. He insisted he wanted to carry on partying, so we locked him inside his room to try and keep him safe. We went outside and started walking away. Then someone spotted him walking along a very narrow ledge from his room’s window, to the one next door. As this was not a ground floor room, we were aghast and terrified he would fall. Somehow he still had enough balance and made it.

Now as I said that Tostee verdict was on the facts of this particular case and my experiences don’t impact whether or not the jury made the right call. But it does illuminate that people do make bad choices under the influence of alcohol.

Of course this is why Tostee holds moral culpability for what happened. If someone is drunk and possibly being unsafe you should try to sober them up, calm them down, help them and keep them safe. If they are a threat to you, yes it is fair enough to remove them – but not to a balcony.

So while Tostee was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt of her death, his actions did contribute towards it, and he should feel very remorseful. Sadly his actions since the incident suggest he isn’t.

Australian vs NZ economy

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

English’s prowess as Finance Minister is acclaimed internationally; if not at home. There’s not many countries in the OECD that sport strong economic growth.

And in Australia, the Key Government’s philosophy of “incremental radicalism” is being talked up as a model that the Turnbull Government should adopt.

New Zealand’s annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent is more than double the OECD rate of 1.6 per cent and compares with 3.3 per cent in Australia, 2.2 per cent in the United Kingdom, 1.2 per cent in the United States and 0.8 per cent in Japan; it is in fact third highest growth rate in the OECD. And something to skite about when it comes to transtasman rivalry. Except English is unlikely to do that.

Of course the Government only has a small role in the economic performance of a country 9 (it is individual businesses that drive the economy) but they do have a role.

It is interesting to compare NZ and Australia on some key stats:

  • Economic Growth: 3.6% (NZ) vs 3.3%
  • Unemployment 5.1% vs 5.7%
  • Inflation 0.2% vs 1.0%
  • Surplus: $1.8b surplus vs $40 billion deficit

Of course Australia has a larger economy but even taking that into account they have a deficit problem, with surpluses being at least four to five years off.

A good example of why the law should change

The Herald reports:

A terminally ill Wellington man who has a year to live says he will end his life before cancer does – and he wants to do so legally.

Joseph Claessen, from Upper Hutt, has an aggressive form of prostate cancer and is expected to die within 12 months.

“There is no doubt about it. I will kill myself if the law doesn’t change by that time,” he said.

“I don’t think I will do it here at home. Mostly likely I will look for a nice spot in nature, have a nice cigar, have a whiskey, and then after that do it.”

The 68 year-old appeared before a select committee at Parliament yesterday and pleaded for a law change.

Speaking to the committee, he said he wanted the right to choose when his pain and suffering became too great. …

Under the existing law, he said he was likely to have a shorter life because he would kill himself while he was still physically capable.

“This inaction [by Government] will shorten my life. It will put a lot of stress, discomfort and trauma to my family.”

This is the sad reality. The current law incentivises people to kill themselves earlier than otherwise would be the case.

5 million by 2020

The Herald reports:

New Zealand’s population is predicted to hit 5 million in about 2020 and could reach this milestone sooner.

In the year to June 2016, the population grew by 97000, its fastest rate since the 1960s.

Statistics NZ senior demographer Kim Dunstan said both immigration numbers and population growth had exceeded their predication.

“Our population was estimated to be 4.69 million at 30 June 2016, with net migration being 69,100 over the June year.”

The latest figures made it likely that the population would rise to between 4.9 and 5.1 million by 2020.

We obviously need to start deporting people to Australia!

A regrettable decision

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s biggest longitudinal research project has been slashed in size by the Government, less than a year after the continuation of its contract was signed. 

The Growing up in New Zealand Study is a 21-year project lead by Auckland University, following 7000 families from within 12 weeks before a child’s birth to their 21st birthday. 

The study provides information about what shapes a child’s early development and how interventions might be targeted early, to give every New Zealand child the best start in life.

The continuation of its contract was agreed by government agency SuperU (formerly the Families Commission) in February this year. 

Associate Social Development Minister Jo Goodhew confirmed the contract was reopened for negotiation under heavy questions in the House, last month. But she refused to give reasons why. 

The Government has already poured tens of millions of taxpayer funds into the study since it began in 2008; it’s understood to have cost about $35-40m in development, and about $5m per year to run. 

The study was allocated $15m by the Government in the May Budget. There are now fears that its downsizing will render previously collected data and the millions invested into it, meaningless. 

Opposition MPs and a recent visiting academic brought to New Zealand by Superu itself, have decried moves to significantly alter the size of the group being studied. 

A spokesman for Goodhew confirmed the contract had been signed, and the cohort of subjects reduced. 

It’s been cut by more than two thirds – only following the lives of 2000 children. 

Labour’s children’s spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said it was a “shortsighted move”. 

“We know how valuable past research like this has been. The size of this study though, meant we would have so much more information about ethnic groups growing up in New Zealand. 

“That’s information we’ve never had before,” she said. 

“You can’t just slice a study like this by two thirds and keep all of the value in that research.” 

Superu, last week, flew a British academic to New Zealand to advise specifically on the use of evidence to improve social policy outcomes. 

Chief executive of the Campbell Collaboration Howard White said it sounded “like a seriously bad idea”. 

“The value of longitudinal studies – and having the same uniform observation, the same children, the same households – is enormous.

“The additional power it gives you and the sort of analysis you can do, in terms of charting trends, analysing social programmes they may have been exposed to – it’s just fantastic.

“And so the idea that you would somehow diminish the cohort, when you’ve got it already for 10 years now, seems to be unwise.”

He said it would “undermine the value” of the Government’s investment. 

Goodhew said the reduction was to “future-proof” the study, and allow it to become “more sustainable”. But it’s future was not guaranteed.  

“The Government has agreed to fund University of Auckland to undertake the eight year data collection wave of the Growing Up in New Zealand study with a sample of about 2000 children, larger than similar highly internationally regarded New Zealand studies. This confirms funding through to 2018/19.

This seems a regrettable decision to me. Once a longitudinal study has started, the value is in maintaining it. It is very different to a series of one off studies.

2,000 is a good sample size for top line data but if you want robust data for smaller demographics (area, ethnicity, income) the margin of error does get quite large.

If the study had started off at 2,000 then I’d have no problems with that as a size. But having already had two waves of 7,000 it will be a lot of value lost by downsizing it.

Multiple fraud

Stuff reports on Georgina Huriwaka. She has excelled in benefit fraud. Her six years includes:

  • Going onto the DPB despite having a partner
  • Staying on the DPB despite gaining FT employment
  • Having her five children leave her to stay with their father, and still claiming the DPB for them


Double standards from Ecuador

The Guardian reports:

Ecuador has confirmed that it cut off internet access to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, stating it believed he was using it to interfere in the US presidential election.

The move followed a raft of leaked emails published byWikiLeaks, including some from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released just before the party’s convention in July, and more recently a cache of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta.

On Tuesday, officials released a statement saying that the government of Ecuador “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and had cut off the internet access available to Assange because “in recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the US election campaign”.

What a load of crap.

Assange tried to intervene in the internal affairs of New Zealand by taking part in Kim Dotcom’s “Moment of Truth”. Did Ecuador do anything then? No.

Not all “immigrants” are permament

The Herald reports:

An “explosion” of immigrants is “crowding out” young Kiwis from available jobs, the Salvation Army says.

A report on youth unemployment by the army’s social policy analyst Alan Johnson, using Statistics NZ figures, says immigration of young people aged 15 to 24 has “exploded” from a net gain of 3217 in the year to June 2013 to a net gain of 22,064 in the latest June year.

Yet 74,100 young Kiwis aged 15 to 24 were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in the year to June – a number that has stalled since a drop from 87,000 in 2010 to 72,100 in 2014.

“The persistent numbers of 15 to 24-year-olds who remain outside of the workforce as total job numbers grow, and as young migrants enter New Zealand to take these jobs, suggest this immigration is crowding out more marginalised workers,” the report says.

I think the Salvation Army analysis is rather simplistic.

Yet net “migration” of 15 to 24 year olds has increased by the amount cited. But around 7,500 of that is fewer young Kiwis leaving. So inwards migration is up around 11,500.

But most of those will be students on student visas. They are counted as “migrants” as they will be in NZ for over a year but they have no entitlement to stay on once they finish study (and only 20% do qualify for residency), and they have limited rights to work (up to 20 hours a week only generally).

So I think the analysis is off the mark. A more useful analysis would be of inwards migration of 15 to 24 year olds on residency or work visas.

State care past 18

Stuff reports:

Children in state care will have the option of remaining in full state care until they turn 21, and can opt for ongoing Government support until they turn 25. 

It’s a significant announcement that the Government is set to make today, as part of its ongoing overhaul of the way vulnerable children are cared for when they are taken from their parents. 

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the Government could no longer abandon vulnerable children once they “aged out of care”. 

The changes come after the Government announced it was also raising the minimum age of care to 18, which would come into effect in April next year. 

Under the new legislation, young people could either remain in, or return to care up to the age of 21, either with an existing or former caregiver, or an alternative caregiver

This seems a good idea. Those not in state care don’t necessarily leave home on the day of their 18th birthday, and even if they do leave home, benefit from ongoing support from their parents.

It is tough enough for those in state care already, without evicting them the day they turn 18.

Cabinet has also agreed to provide financial assistance to the caregivers, which would take into account the young person’s individual circumstances, and could include a contribution from any income that the young person has.

The caregiver was expected to provide pastoral care for the young person so they could gradually become more independent, and the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children would monitor living arrangements against specific care standards.

Transition advice and support would be available up to the age of 25 for young people who had been in care, focusing on those with higher and more complex needs.

Also sounds good.

Many had suffered significant trauma in their short lives, and some were not ready to live independently.

“So that’s really why we’re saying there’s good evidence to support this, and it makes sense from a social investment point of view because you know the outcomes that these kids face. 

“It is going to cost us, but it’s a good investment to make in these young people,” she said.

“Because if we can help them get on and get some good qualifications and get into employment, they’re going to live a better life and in the long-term it saves the taxpayers’ money.”

Simon Wilson on Labour

Metro Editor Simon Wilson shares his thoughts on in Labour has a future:

Why hasn’t the Labour Party championed the Unitary Plan? Because the National Party likes it? The Nats like it because they’re pragmatists: they know they need a lot more homes built in Auckland or they will lose the city. But Labour should like it because it gives expression to an exciting, future-focused vision of what the city could be.

But that’s Labour, struggling for purpose in the modern world. Championing the compact city could have been – and still could be – one way to address that.

The Unitary Plan allows Auckland to grow up and out – not just one of them.

What is the point of Labour? Is it a twentieth century phenomenon sliding into oblivion in the twenty-first?

If you’re an urban progressive, the Greens look like a more natural home. If you’re worried about modernity in any or all its forms, New Zealand First is ready and waiting. If you’re a Māori activist, you can choose from the Māori Party and the Mana Party.

If you’re working class? Any of the above, isn’t it?

A good summary. And many working class now support National.

Actually, there is a point to Labour and it’s a really important one. They’re there to win elections. Labour is the main party of opposition and therefore is likely to be the majority party in any centre-left government. So they have to look credible. They have to be credible.

If they’re not, the whole centre-left suffers. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led government. Votes for NZ First and the Maori Party are also votes for the possibility of such a government.

Yep. The only safe votes for a National-led Government is National, ACT and United Future.

In New Zealand, it’s generally accepted that Labour’s main job right now, working with the Greens, is to win the next election.

But it’s not obvious this view is shared throughout the Labour Party, where many people clearly prefer to have a leader they agree with, or feel is “one of us”, rather than a leader with great electoral appeal.

And that, in a nutshell, is the tragedy of the Labour Party. They don’t understand the importance of personality. They don’t have a leader capable of charm and because they changed the voting rules to get rid of the last one they did have, David Shearer, they don’t have the ready means to get another one. It’s not that they can’t win, but they have made it a lot harder for themselves.

And as UK Labour found out, sacking the leader can result in the leader staying on. The unions made Andrew Little the leader, so why would they remove him?

So, what are the prospects for Labour heading into election year? Andrew Little will remain leader so they have to double down on becoming the voice of the future. That’s about policy and articulating a vision. Becoming the champion of the compact city in all its forms – from decent affordable housing to creating a cycling city – is a heaven-sent opportunity.

Will they grasp it? What’s their future if they don’t? On the positive side, there’s only one John Key. When he retires, National will lose its charm advantage. On the negative side, it’s only a matter of time before the Greens find an immensely charismatic leader of their own. When that happens, if Labour hasn’t done the same, they really could be annihilated.

Enter Jacinda?

A Waikato Medical School?

Stuff reports:

A proposal for a Waikato medical school has ruffled the feathers of existing medical schools, with one dubbing it “an ill-considered and expensive folly”.

The University of Waikato and Waikato District Health Board presented their proposal for a third, Hamilton-based, medical school to the Government on Monday.

Things may have changed but for many years the reputation of the Waikato Law School was so poor that a significant number of major law firms would not hire people from them.

Setting up a medical school from scratch in a university without a strong tradition in health sciences runs the risk of ending up with the same result.

More support for faster open road limit

Stuff reports:

Motorists’ need for speed is ramping up, with a new survey showing a jump in support for the limit to be raised from 100kmh on the open road.

The Ministry of Transport’s latest Public Attitudes to Road Safety Survey shows that, when asked if the 100kmh speed limit should be raised, lowered or kept as is, 71 per cent wanted the status quo, 4 per cent wanted it lowered and 25 per cent wanted it raised.

It is a significant change from 2015, when 78 per cent said they wanted it kept at 100kmh and 18 per cent thought it should be raised.

I support a higher open road limit where the road is well designed, such as separated from ongoing traffic.

Over recent years the Government has warmed to the idea of a 110kmh limit on the best roads, including those built as part of the Government’s roads of national significance programme, provided they are flat, straight, have two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, and good shoulder space.

Candidates would include the new Waikato Expressway, the Tauranga Eastern Link and the Northern Gateway toll road north of Auckland. In the Wellington region, the soon-to-be-opened Kapiti Expressway would qualify, as would Transmission Gully, scheduled to open in 2020.

Sounds good to me.

Democrats funding violence at Trump rallies

The Herald reports:

Agents working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid professional agitators to incite violence at Donald Trump rallies, an explosive investigation has revealed.

In a new hidden-camera sting by conservative activist group Project Veritas, undercover journalists infiltrated two political consulting companies with ties to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

Despite the claims, mainstream media outlets are yet to pick up on the story.

In the 16-minute video, Democratic operatives are caught out describing how paid agents “infiltrate” to stage fake grassroots protests to create a sense of “anarchy” at Donald Trump events.

The agents notably lay claim to the violent Chicago protests in March, which forced Trump to cancel his rally and left two police officers seriously injured.

“It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherf*****,” Scott Foval, founder of consulting firm the Foval Group told an undercover journalist.

“I’m saying we have mentally ill people, that we pay to do s***, make no mistake.

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve paid off a few homeless guys to do some crazy stuff, and I’ve also taken them for dinner, and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel, and a shower. And I put them in a program.

“Like I’ve done that. But the reality is, a lot of people, especially our union guys, a lot of our union guys … they’ll do whatever you want. They’re rock’n’roll.

“When I need to get something done in Arkansas, the first guy I call is the head of the AFL-CIO [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organisations] down there, because he will say, ‘What do you need?’ And I will say, ‘I need a guy who will do this, this and this’. And they find that guy. And that guy will be like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it’.”

Many have long suspected that this stuff is funded and organised and this confirms it.

Foval explained that he is “contracted to” Bob Creamer, founder of Democratic consulting firm Democracy Partners, but answers to “the head of special events for the DNC and the head of special events and political for the campaign”.

“The [Clinton] campaign pays DNC, DNC pays Democracy Partners, Democracy Partners pays the Foval Group, the Foval Group goes and executes the s***,” Foval said.

So they have deniable plausibility.

Another Democracy Partners employee, Zulema Rodriguez, admitted to being behind the Chicago protests and a protest in Arizona which shut down a major highway.

“I just had a call with the campaign and the DNC, every day at one o’clock,” Rodriguez said. “So B and I did the Chicago Trump event where we shut down, like all the yeah … Oh then, we also did the Arizona one where we shut the highway down.”

According to publicly available Federal Election Commission data, Zulema Rodriguez was paid a total of $US1640.24 ($2140.10) by the Hillary For America campaign on February 29, two weeks before the violent Chicago protests.

So Clinton’s campaign is funding people to protest and disrupt. Terrible stuff which should be investigated and more fully exposed.

The “Ile de Re”


Got to tour the Ile De Re at Ports of Auckland on Tuesday, courtesy of Spark. The ship is in port for a couple of days before heading back to the Tasman Sea to lay the second half of the new Tasman Global Access cable.


The cable is a joint venture between three companies who normally are fierce competitors (well two of them anyway). It will be 2,300 kms long and go from Ngarunui Beach in Raglan, to Narrabeen Beach in Australia.

The cable capacity is 20 terabits a second. To put this in comparison the Southern Cross Cable started off with capacity of 120 Gb/s and even with upgrades is now at only 3.6 Tb/s.


The tour of the ship was fascinating. They have three containers that can store 500 kms of fibre each. This is one of the tanks.

The fibre is put manually into the tanks. A series of people walk it in backwards, so they walk backwards for 500 kms! Also to make it even more challenging the fibre gets taken to a pacific island on a freighter from France, offloaded there and then wound onto the ship once it arrives, so that’s a lot of walking!


You think of submarine cables as huge wide cables, but fibre ones are much thinner. It is only 20 mm wide.


The Ile De Re maintains dozens of cables in the South Pacific – over 50,000 kms of them. In this chamber they have all the different spare segments so they can go out and repair a cable immediately if needed, rather than go into port to get it.


The cable is fed up from the chamber and along here to the back of the ship.


This wee bugger weighs around 25 tonnes and is used to bury the cable in the shallower waters. If the depth is under 1500 metres, this is thrown off the side and used to bury it around 1 metre down.

When out in the open ocean, there are a lot of engineering calculations to work out where the ship should go and at what speed, to get the cable down where they want it. The cable may only hit the bottom 30 to 50 kms behind the ship.


I nicknamed this Thunderbird 4. It is a robotic aquatic vehicle and is used to lay and repair cables in shallower waters. The advantage over the larger unit is that it has little weight in water due to the flotation devices so you don’t have 25 tonnes moving over the seabed.

In shallower waters they tend to lay one km per hour while in deeper water they can do 11 kms a day or so.


This is the bridge. This front part is where they navigate, but at he rear they have all the computers for plotting the cable location etc.

The ship has up to 60 crew on it at peak capacity. Most of the officers are French and the crew are Filipino.

It is an expensive exercise laying a submarine cable. Of the total $100 million cost of the project, the vast majority would be the actual laying.

Around 50% of our international bandwidth is now with Australia and it is projected to grow by 11,000% over the next decade. So this cable will be an important addition to our capacity, and will also provide greater redundancy in case of failure with Southern Cross (itself unlikely as it has two cables).

There is an existing cable called Tasman 2. It has such small capacity it can only handle 1% of trans-Tasman traffic. It will be decomissioned once TGA goes live in hopefully very early 2017.

Parata to retire in 2017

The Herald reports:

Education Minister Hekia Parata is retiring from politics.

In a shock move Parata announced today she will not be contesting the next election.

She said she advised Prime Minister John Key of her decision earlier this year.

“It is a privilege to be part of the John Key-led Government. However this is the right decision for me and my family, and it is the right time to make my intentions known.

“I have no plans beyond serving as Education Minister as long as the Prime Minister wishes me to. There are still a number of deliverables in the education work plan in the meantime and my focus and energy will be unwavering.

“It is an honour to work each day in this portfolio – it’s true that it involves a number of difficult decisions but I have been committed to making the right decision for our children and young people.”

Parata was elected to Parliament in 2008 and has served as Education Minister since 2011. Her departure is unexpected – she is currently overseeing the biggest education reforms since 1989.

Her biggest achievement to date and potentially her legacy has been getting through changes to enable and encourage groups of local schools to work together, with teachers and principals paid more to take a lead in those new “communities of learning”.

Pleased to see Hekia get out on top, even though I’ll miss her. She’s achieved a great deal in a very challenging environment, and will be missed.

It is good to see Ministers voluntarily retire before their time is up – as Simon Power, Wayne Mapp and Tony Ryall also did. This helps the Government rejuvenate which is important.

USS Sampson to visit

Stuff reports:

The last remnant of the anti-nuclear standoff has been swept aside, with approval granted for a visit by a United States warship to a New Zealand port.

Prime Minister John Key announced the destroyer USS Sampson will take part in the navy’s 75th anniversary.celebrations in November.

It will be the first US warship to dock here since the ANZUS bust up over New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation in the mid-1980s.

“I am 100 per cent confident it meets New Zealand’s law and that means it’s neither nuclear powered nor carries nuclear weapons,” Key said.

And this time around peace protesters from the mid-1980s are far more relaxed about the visit.

Kevin Hackwell, who with a friend was arrested in Wellington harbour after swimming out to “tag” the USS Texas in 1983,  said it was “a victory for New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy”. 

It is a victory, but it is more about the US and NZ not letting one historical dispute define the relationship. As we regularly have hosted British, Australian, Japanese and Chinese ships it has been weird not to have the US ever visiting. I hope the crew get great NZ hospitality.

For those who like their stats the USS Sampson weighs 9,200 tons, is 155 metres in length and can carry 96 Tomahawk missiles.