Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Michael King and his wife have died in a car accident 

Sad news re one of New Zealand's leading historians and biographers. Michael King and his wife Maria Jungowska have died in a car accident.

nzoom story.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Intrinsically linked? 

This from Pete Hodgson, apparently the current issues with race relations have nowt to do with our lack of any binding formal constitution. Not to mention disagreements as to the correct interpretation of, and status of, the Treaty.
"An inquiry into the future of race relations in New Zealand cannot become a wider debate on the constitution or whether or not we should become a republic," Mr Hodgson, whose portfolios include Energy and Transport, told Labour's southern regional conference at the weekend.

"We need to have an agreed pathway on the future of race relations before we can consider the future of our constitution."
Nothing like seizing the day and showing some leadership huh Pete.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Marc Alexander on tax 

Marc Alexander's weekly newsletter has a nice definition of what tax constitutes in a modern society. Having watched question time a bit recently - this guy actually looks like a useful and reasonably bright contributor. Sure he is a member of the "Let's take the high ground on every issue and let those that actually have to implement policy worry about the practicality party" - but I suppose everyone has the odd (but massive) error in judgment. If that god damned worm is banned from the next election and United Future disappear, I wouldn't mind seeing this guy in National colours.
The government uses taxes to provide goods and services but the imposition of taxes is not altogether in proportion to the benefits to the one who paid the taxes. Bluntly, the more you work to create wealth the more you are expected to pay for the privilege. Seen in this light it can reasonably be argued that 'tax' is really the cost, or price, that society charges the individual for being productive.

Worse...the more an individual works to produce that wealth, the more society insists that that individual pay even more taxes! Unlike a loaf of bread, a car or a holiday, the price of working has no fixed value but rises as a cost depending on how much you earn. It's like seeing the price tag of a good or a service - not in dollar terms - but as a proportion of what you contribute to our total pool of wealth!

Now...no one would suggest that there are no costs attributable to our social obligations. We do need to pay for the social goods that we all benefit from and these include looking after the effects of disadvantage.

But surely there must be a limit. We cannot go on expecting people to continue paying long after their reasonable social obligations are met. That simply kills incentive. After all, we don't apply the same logic on the rugby field. We don't engage with fewer players or handicap them just to make it a 'fair' contest; we don't stop artists from being 'too good'; yet when it comes to our 'work' we make a point of restricting our success by imposing the debilitating constraints of a progressive and uncapped tax.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

A patsy interview if ever there was one 

Ruth Dyson, name calling self righteous 'tart', or hard working and just misunderstood? (it's the former by the way). But not if you ask some other bint called Keri, apparently "She is working on changes to ACC which will list among her top five achievements as a minister. She is hoping that one day, two patients in a spinal unit – one who fell from a tree and one with multiple sclerosis – will receive the same access to rehabilitation services".

A link to the full interview with Keri Welham is here - I wouldn't recommend it.

How a Minister quite rightly on the skids for being an insolent mole when someone quite rightly (and using the forum designed for that exact purpose) questioned the actions of her department can get this sort of 'service' from a major newspaper is beyond me. About 6 lines relating to her gross stupidity from a circa 300 line article that read more like a farewell speech is pathetic.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Nasty precendent this 

Nick Smith has been found in contempt of court for speaking out for a constituent, whilst he may have been unwise or even over stepped the mark, but I do fear that this may open pandora's box. The worst case scenario is that public servants start to be influenced by politicians to take down opponents.

Haven't given it a huge amount of thought - but it does not feel quite right on first reflection.
Justices Wild and MacKenzie say they consider Smith tried to make the child's caregiver forgo her rights through his conversation with her and through media pressure.

They also say Smith tried to influence the decision of the Family Court and lessen the validity of its decision in the eyes of the public.

Penalties have yet to be decided.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I'll give you the first paragraph, you'll have to click on the link for the rest... 

Chris Knox starts a Listener piece on NZ Idol in blistering form! And then goes soft.... artist types - go figure.
Coming from a rabid punk rock background, I have no choice but to loathe, deride and spit upon the flagrantly MOR spectacle that is NZ Idol. It is the very epitome of everything I fought against with such high-minded ferocity in the Punk Wars of the late 70s and which I have continued to rail against ever since. Everything I do as a musician is predicated upon hastening the demise of all that is bland and by-the-numbers in this so-called business of music. Vast multinational conglomerate record labels make me puke; slick ProTools production makes me wanna wrench out the hearts of those who perpetrate it; Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake, Celine Dion and all the Britney clones must die. This is the credo by which I am genetically and irreversibly bound to live.
If you can stand the apologist ending - it is here.

$89 for a pair of boxers, just $131,753.14 for an opinion 

I hope someone remembers to go back and actually get the answer for this "very good question" from Gerrard Eckhoff during question time today;
Gerrard Eckhoff: What work did Mr Tom Moana do for the department
to justify his payment of $131,753.14 in just 1 year, and how
many Maori consultants were employed?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: That is a good question. As I have advised the
member, I am seeking more information on that and on other matters
relating to the consultation around this particular project.
Clark asked Brash to front with specific examples of funding going on race, although it may not be hard coded explicitly in statute - I would have thought it is now obvious that there is plenty of gravy on this train.

Monday, March 22, 2004

For gods sake go and bear witness 

Many thousands of people go to watch the Blues serve up mediocre performances in the media circus that is the Super 12 - yet people seem unmoved when the Kiwi cricketers are making history left, right and centre.

Simon Doull had it right on 3 News when he said the administrators have it all wrong banning chilly bins etc from the ground (for a one dayer with a packed house, different story), but I still don't understand the indifference of the public at large.

Either way, nice job lads.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

God bless him 

If you believe in reverse psychology - fair enough. But the jury must be out on reverse subtlety after a man walked into Wellington library, armed with his lappy, and began to copy away;
"The man was nabbed after library staff became suspicious as he sat at a ground-floor table piled with up to 70 CDs and began downloading them."
(Mental note - don't try to slip one past those there library staff - they're sharp.) If ever there was a chance of pleading ignorance, this has to be it.

Don't you dare prepare kids for life 

It just doesn't stop. First Robin Judkin's considers pulling the pin on one of our great sporting events, the "Coast to Coast" due to an event organiser getting hammered for not ensuring the safety of competitors. Now school principles are opting out of school camps due to new legislation;
Anxious principals are banning school camps in the fallout from new laws which make them liable for student and staff injuries or deaths on trips.

Principals and trustees face fines of up to $500,000 or two years' jail under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
Where does this bubble wrap mentality stop?

There have been deaths on school trips in the recent past, and that is tragic and horrendous for all affected. Like any avoidable death, it is a waste and if at all possible, must be avoided. But if there was any criminal negligence, could that not be covered by existing statute?

My issue is with the tunnel vision of these well intentioned law makers. Sure a kid is less likely to drown in the school pool, and that is where their job ends - good result for them. But that kid is sure as hell not likely to experience their first risk and learn the lesson of judgement or overcome fear or inhabition - the sort of thing that happens at camp. They are not likely to steal their first kiss either.

Eliminate what maketh the man and what do you get? Just wait ten years and you'll see.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Winnie is doing deals with Helen, but Dr Ross isn't part of them 

My Right asked for Ross Armstrong to be hung out to dry a while back (Hang'em high), it seems that Winston is set to do just that.

From Stuff; "New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters is set to take a private prosecution against disgraced former chairman of Television New Zealand Ross Armstrong."

Further proof that once you're of no further use to Hell Bells, you are history. Will Peter be freed when she retires from politics??

Oh, and good luck on this one Winnie.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

A Nat that may realise that politics isn't really that hard 

My Right has always acknowledged that Labour has, until very recently, generally been better than National at 'politics'. Whether it be remembering when not to be honest, carefully making up the right statistic and constantly running focus groups to identify the lowest common denominator, they have generally done it better.

So I find this line from John Armstrong's editorial particularly interesting, "Yesterday's speech is recognition National knows it is similarly vulnerable on tax." It was a simple line at the fag end of his piece, but I think he is right. National have finally realised that the average attention span of the 'middle NZ'er' does not allow you to offer (sell) considered policy that ultimately, but not obviously, makes sense.

The gamble is, will Jo Public realise what Don is hoping they will, that;

a) Labour will cut those taxes anyway
b) Reducing the company tax rate effects all individuals in some way and is a good thing
c) For the same (or similar) tax policy, you can flick the ERA Amendments, deal to the RMA, address welfare dependence.......
d) you get the idea

The risk? His support in middle and 'middle upper' NZ being weaker than he thought and secured only with a bit of extra cash for them as well, up front.

If our situation is so 'benign' - send Helen to diffuse it 

A bomb scare this morning at The Reserve Bank. Helen is confident that NZ is in a benign military environment. I would have sent her over and told her to cut the blue one - 66% odds are better than none (for us).

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

My Right Foot... 

was briefly disconnected from my right ankle last night during a game of touch (and I wasn't even touched - embarrassing!). Either way, laid up and drugged up I don't think I could feel any more pain, so I think I might have a look at question time on Sky today...

A depressing post to follow I imagine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

It's all relative Mike 

Taken from Cullen's speech to the Labour party conference is this piece of simplistic tripe (got to pitch at your audience I suppose):
We must begin by reminding people of the difference Labour has made to their lives compared with what would have been the case had National been re-elected in 1999 and 2002.

Let us begin with superannuitants. On 1 April the rate of New Zealand Superannuation for a married couple will rise to $383.22 . Had National stayed in office that figure would be only $361.40. The minimum wage has been increased to $9.00 an hour. Under National it would probably be about $7.50. The average fee for arts or commerce students at the University of Otago is $3,245. Under National fees rose on average 15.2 per cent a year, which means that the average fee would be $5,200. And the cost of repayment of any loan has been reduced on average by about 25 per cent.

For a state house tenant in Auckland the difference is nearly as dramatic. For a sole parent with two children their rent is now $74 a week. Under National’s policies that person would now be paying an average rent of $132 a week, after allowing for accommodation supplement.

Apart from being a fairly gross assumption that those rates reflect what they would have been under National, one could counter the argument by being equally simplistic. Under a National Government someone on the minimum wage would be paying around 6 cents a litre less for petrol, a superannuitant would pay around 5 dollars a bottle less for their Sherry, renewing a drivers licence would be cheaper for us all, even a certificate to prove that you are dead now costs more under Labour.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

It's Monday morning, you are sitting at your desk..... 

and this is what you have to do, ensure that "Aotearoa/New Zealand will be an equitable, inclusive and sustainable society where all women can achieve their aspirations and, in addition, Maori women, as tangata whenua, can progress the aspirations of their whanau, hapu and iwi".

What the hell are those gainfully employed by the Ministry of Women's affairs actually going to do? How are these people proposing to help 2 million women with completely different circumstances and needs? What exactly is stopping girls from doing whatever they want? If there was ever an example of giving yourselves something to do - then this is it.

I will go to the website to see if I can find some examples what stops women in NZ from achieving their aspirations and why we need to pay these muppets to sit down and talk about it. This gets even more ridiculous when you imagine the job interview, "have you ever helped a lot of people you have never met by talking to a work mate about them?"

Friday, March 12, 2004

My Right under the pump 

'The man' is proving rather demanding at present, so posting will be a little light. However, a link is as good as a thousand of someone else's words - enjoy Jim Hopkin's.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

This sums it up nicely, pear shaped. 

Tricky game this politics business, John Armstrong sums up the position re the Maori seats, and pours cold water on the chances of a Maori party at the same time;
A byelection would achieve little, bar the embarrassment of Labour having to fight a campaign against one of its former MPs.

National could not stand a candidate - unless it wanted to look hypocritical after Dr Brash's promise to abolish the Maori seats.

Likewise NZ First, which also has a policy of not standing in Maori seats, although Winston Peters might view a byelection as an opportunity that could not be refused.

Of Labour's Maori MPs, only John Tamihere and Tariana Turia would have any chance of retaining their seats as independents.

What would they do after that?

Vote against the Government and bring it down, thus fast-tracking Dr Brash into the Prime Minister's job?
The only thing that seems to be consistant and clear is that the beliefs they espoused to get themselves elected don't matter a jot compared to the beliefs they are willing to adopt to get themselves re-elected. Not to say that is exclusive to the Maori MP's or this issue.

Monday, March 08, 2004

We're pissing everyone off, we must be right! 

Cullen has lashed out at the Waitangi Tribunal with that classic old parenting line, "I'm not angry, just disappointed". He then goes onto to explain some of the most twisted and optimistic logic I have ever heard, get this;
"It is ironic that the major opposition parties are attacking the government for leaning too much towards Maori while some Maori and the Tribunal are saying the exact opposite. Perhaps that might suggest to a fair and independent observer that the government has it about right," Dr Cullen said.
There is nothing stranger than watching an academic try to make 'sense' with us lesser folk that clearly just don't get it - after all, the implications of the dumping of the Privy Council were deemed a little too hard for us to figure out.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I think Steve may have a meeting with Trevor come Monday 

An article in the SST shows that it is quite clear that targeted assistance exists, and some policies pro-actively disadvantage pakeha. Work and Income tell their employees, if you have to fill a job find a Maori, failing that find a Pacific Islander, if all else fails place the white guy.

I would love to hear the reaction from a desperate to work, on the bones of their arse, stuggling pakeha, that has gone to Work and Income and failed to find employment and wondered why they have had no luck. If this sort of thing doesn't spark resentment then what does? Not that this could phase our favourite social engineer Steve Maharey;
Work and Income staff are being paid bonuses based on the race of the jobseekers they place into work.

The scheme varies around the country, but in Counties-Manukau, staff are awarded three bonus points for placing a Maori in a job, two points for a Pacific Islander and one for a Pakeha. The points help determine the size of their annual bonus.

The revelation comes amid growing controversy over the use of race-based policies to address social disadvantage.

Employment Minister Steve Maharey defended the points-for-race scheme citing the huge drop in Maori unemployment.

"We know if we don't do more we are going to have a register filled with Maori people."

Maharey said the scheme allowed frontline staff to understand the areas government wanted to target. He did not want it applied to specific cases - for example, if a Pakeha and Maori jobseeker with the same skills and abilities were after the same job.

The argument that this approach should not be applied to specific cases just doesn't stand up. If Work and Income tell someone they will get paid more for taking option one - you can only expect them to take that option - and fair enough. And then it becomes subconscious, learned behaviour I believe it is called.

The question that needs answering is why would have stacks of unemployed Maori if we didn't take this (overtly racist) affirmative action step?

We need to openly and dispassionately try to ascertain why Maori would be unemployed in big numbers. Some would say 100 years of marginalisation (Pita Sharples springs to mind), others would blame straight out laziness (but few would put their name to it) - I would sit somewhere to the right of centre. Either way - let's have the discussion.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Brash hits back with reason not rhetoric 

Don Brash has not enjoyed as much coverage of his speech to the Northern Club compared to the secular one's rant, from the pulpit....

However, the Doctor's speech is now on Scoop, and I would encourage Brash's detractors to read it, and respond.

On a slightly different tack. I may be misreading the mood - but I think a part of Brash's popularity stems from NZ'ers growing up and becoming tired of the we know best nanny state attitude of the past 5 years. Brash has often declared that he is not interested in personal insults and childish, political and simplistic attacks. I for one like his under hyped (but carefully conceived and considered) approach of, 'this is what I think, this is what I will do, if you like it - vote for me'. It certainly beats the references to 'gross' 'cynical' (insert your own reference to irony here) and 'unpleasant' we get from the PM. I'm a grown up Helen, let me decide whether I think they are or not. Anyways - the speech in full is here, a few tastes below;
"The behaviour of the other parties in the House has been an amusing study in political repositioning: United Future seems to have been attempting to climb out of the Foreshore and Seabed waka they had only recently boarded; NZ First has been trying to paddle on both sides of the waka, but in the House it seems to have a liaison of convenience with Labour; the Green Party, at least, has stuck to its guns, and seems prepared to go down fighting on the whole bi-cultural, partnership package, and we can respect them for having the courage of their convictions; while the ACT Party has been consistent in its support of the views I expressed at Orewa.

A number of newspapers spectacularly misjudged their audience. A major Sunday newspaper, in comparing me to Australia’s Pauline Hanson, launched one of the most extraordinary exercises in second-rate muckraking journalism that I have ever witnessed. Presumably this idea was not conceived in the circulation department, because the polls showing wide public support for the Orewa speech implied that the headline was also an attack on most of the readership of the paper. The subsequent editorial attempts to defend this new low in the standards of New Zealand journalism were so lame as to be laughable. One can have only contempt for the mind that conceived that front page spread, and sympathy for those journalists that were unwittingly associated with it.
The critics who have focused obsessively on these ‘race-based funding’ details give the overwhelming impression of a group of people who cannot see the wood for the trees. Fortunately that does not apply to the general public, because the plain fact of the matter is that the public is more concerned with the parade of race-based political correctness we have endured over the past decade or more:
· cultural safety in nursing
· bilingual rebranding of the public sector
· Treaty issues getting tangled up in health and safety audits
· claims of taniwhas being used to block developments
· consultations with iwi being required in relation to resource management consents, and even to scientific research in universities
· the anomaly of Maori Parliamentary seats being expanded into local body politics and now to the representation on PHOs
· and so on in a relentless torrent.

Can we really believe that this simple 19th century treaty, which focused on sovereignty, property rights and citizenship, also has something to say about today’s SOEs and national parks, today’s schools and universities, how we go about approving or declining building permits, what science we should study, or how we should regard the new frontier of genetic science?

This is simply madness, and it must be stopped. "

Odds on an Election in 2004 anyone?

Steve Forbes, here to preach to the converted 

Steve Forbes is over from the States to address the Act Party conference. His editorial in the Herald takes the emotive nonsense (and No Right Turn's brand of trite simplicity "rob from the poor to give to the rich") out of the equation and makes a simple economic argument about tax rates.

Just this morning when she was talking to Holmes, Helen sucked on her lemon and spat out one of her favourite lines of "tax cuts for the rich". If they bothered to listen they may find that tax cuts, for anyone, are not the evil that the left would claim.
Steve Forbes in the Herald, "There is another positive impact of Kennedy-Reagan type of tax cuts - the rich pay more. When Ronald Reagan became president, the top 1 per cent of income-earners in America paid 19 per cent of the federal income tax. Now, the top 1 per cent pay more than 35 per cent of the income taxes.

Last [northern] spring, President George W. Bush cut capital gains taxes (from 20 per cent to 15 per cent) and the dividend tax (from 38 per cent to 15 per cent). Personal income tax rates also declined.

Since those reductions, the American economy has picked up steam with real annual growth rates exceeding 4 per cent."

Lower rates result in high income earners paying more, shizzer, maybe Helen will have a listen!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Philla Debacle is back 

Phillida Bunkle is back in NZ - but only to appear in an interesting case in the High Court. Some chap from Lower Hutt, presumably with spare time in abundance, has bought a case under the Bill of Rights Act. He feels that his rights of representation have been violated by Phillida enrolling herself as a Wellingtonian, and then claiming an out of town allowance to live in Wellington, then forgetting where she lives...

From the Independent;
"Edwards, as a private citizen, is suing Elmar Toime (former chief registrar of electors), Murray Wicks (national manager, electoral enrolment centre) and the Wellington Central registrar of electors, Raewynne Uren who, in early 2001 was charged with deciding whether Bunkle had breached the Electoral Act prior to the 1999 election."

I hope she doesn't forget that she know lives in Europe when the hearing concludes.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Vindictive bugger isn't he... 

In the world of NZ politics one should think very carefully before having a crack at Winston Peters. It appears that he has had his staff digging through David Carter's past a looking for dirt. I have not met David Carter, but I hope he is pure, because if he is not, I get the feeling we are going to hear about it.

The opening salvo in response to (supposedly) breaking Dinnergate, this from yesterdays Question Time;
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister prepared to investigate
the fact that the well-known philanthropist and MP David Carter
sold a property to the council for $1.025 million, and that the
council then obtained its full and true value, achieving a price
almost $600,000 less; and what would be the circumstances behind
that in respect of the historic places legislation?

He's shown us classy Winnie, here comes Winnie the nasty.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Dislike him or hate him, you gotta kinda love him 

In challenging Doctor Don to stand against him in Tauranga, Winston promises to behave;
I promise a fair fight. If they stop telling lies about me I will stop telling the truth about them".


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