Monday, November 29, 2004


My Right was in Wellington recently and had dinner with a close and respected colleague. Conversation quickly moved off work and into broader interests. Blogging is a personal habit for My Right, this conversation illustrated why. It also crystallised My Right's frustrations with political interpretation and perception.

The colleague in question has always held My Right in high regard. Perceived as a caring and empathetic individual and in genial company, My Right was talking openly. When the topic of blogging came up, My Right was asked what his "angle" was - to which he answered - "if I had to label it, typically, but certainly not exclusively, right". There was shock and dismay in equal measure.

The shock was based on said colleagues underlying belief that My Right was well intentioned, generous and compassionate. Somehow being 'right' changed that - WHY??

The dismay was simply due to the colleagues inherent belief that ‘right’ was all about “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer (copyright, My Right most excruciating cliché dept 2004). Being ‘left’ is a much more virtuous path to follow was the logical extrapolation of this view.

There it was - in one exchange – clarity.

Political leanings make up a fraction of the individual. For My Right being 'right' or 'left' is not about morality, principles, or desired outcomes, it is about process.

To My Right’s mind - morality should drive policy, pragmatism should drive delivery. More often than not, My Right believes that 'rightist' solutions deliver the most desirable outcomes for the largest numbers of people at all levels off society. Does that somehow intimate my moral disposition?

Further - I acknowledge and accept that it is time for many on 'the right' to get over some of their lordly world views. At the same time many on 'the left' need to relax some of their sanctimonious reverence. Too often people adopt a preordained position on every issue dependant purely on whether it is perceived to be ‘the left’ or ‘the right’ standpoint – facile is a word that comes to mind. (If George Bush wanted world peace, Keith Locke would oppose it.)

In an environment where Labour and National are getting closer and closer policy wise and the battle is for 'the centre' ground, it seems that a few fringe issues where differentiation is easy take a disproportionate percentage of the landscape. When it comes to core policy - the spin factor has taken over to an alarming degree simply to assure voters the Labour is ‘left’ and National ‘right’.

An old colleague of My Right's was adamant in the early days of MMP that the most natural coalition was between National and Labour. Doctor Evil once said - "we're not so different you and I". I think they both had a point. If the notion of ‘left’ and ‘right’ fell out of the common vernacular, My Right would be the first to bid it farewell.

(Message to self – blog title is dripping with hypocrisy in light of recent posting)

(Ed – noted)

Friday, November 26, 2004

I thought it had to be a joke 

When My Right watched Eating Media Lunch this week he thought that Jeremy Wells had given up pushing the envelope in favour of moving the entire Paper Plus factory.

There was an interview of the producer of a new porn flick based on Maori and Pakeha pre battle orgies called "Anal Mana". I thought it was to funny to be real, I was wrong...
Scorn for porno movie shot in Taranaki

Thursday, November 25, 2004

This could go either way..... 

There is a social policy powwow going on in Wellington this week that is focusing on the effectiveness of social policy, dubbed, “What Works?” - investing in effective social policy".

My Right is encouraged and hesitant about this one. Social Steve Maharey and Pete Hodgson are making all the right noises about "evidence based" social spending;
“In the past social policy has tended to be treated as an area of expenditure without any clear evidence of what particular policies lead to improvements for society and the economy,” the Ministers said. “This government has been taking very important steps to find out which social policies work so it can invest in what is effective and not continue with policies that don’t prove themselves.”
This is hugely encouraging. Well directed and monitored social spending is a good thing. My Right's only fear is that if Government Department's are left to 'self evaluate' their own policy then this could end up being a template budget justification (read - expansion) exercise.

Let's hope that this is not the case and that the central theme of this conference is that Government Departments are spending our money, not their own. They are not sanctioned to create policy or programs deemed 'worthy' in their own eyes beyond the scope that the Government lays down.

More to follow when the findings are released.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

One sensible idea - and then straight back to type 

After suggesting, quite rightly, that reducing the Company tax rate to 30% would give all New Zealand businesses a boost - Jim Anderton has reverted back to his officious self. Jim was at the opening of a new business in Palmerston North when he appeared to have a breakthrough of sorts when he said;
“If we work to turn around struggling businesses, we are accused of backing losers. If we work with successful businesses, to accelerate their growth, we’re accused of throwing money at businesses that don’t need it".
Bingo! Bang on Jim. What the critics are saying is rather than a back door scatter gun "I'm Father Christmas" approach - why not sort out the RMA, make it easier for small business to employ (and release) staff, drop the company tax rate..... Generally make doing business in New Zealand easier for every business by getting the hell out of it and allow market forces to play out.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Anyone else haka'd out 

My Right has just been watching the news and seen the coverage of the launch of the new campaign to prevent STD's in our youth - good cause - no issue there.

But must every single official opening, not to mention the opening of most official emails, be punctuated by a haka these days?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fan bloody tastic 

Court allows ACT to seek Awatere Huata's expulsion from Parliament
Be gone you contempible witch. A narcissistic kleptomaniac, not to my liking at all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Democracy - Cullen Style 

In true, "we won, you lost, eat that" style - Cullen has once again showed that his arrogance doesn't boarder on contempt - the two are indistinguishable. Ramming through the Foreshore and Seabed legislation is nothing more than a fire fighting exercise, but to treat the public like idiots by denying our representatives the right to debate the Bill is insulting. Cullen today;
"Dr Cullen savaged the opposition today as the committee stage debate began.

"They're going to bash their gums for the next 24 hours with absolutely no purpose. They don't understand the bill and don't understand the law," he said."
They are bashing their gums on my behalf you arrogant prick.

Immoral? I prefer rational. 

In a recent exchnage in the comments of this post on Tax - Jordan (Just Left) finished with the following charge:
"I am perfectly comfortable with returning the gain (after the pain) to those who suffered most, and to whom it would make the most difference. That is what Working for Families does, through tax credits and other mechanisms.

If your position is basically that high income earners deserve this dividend more than low income earners who have families to support, then I charge you sir with being immoral."
Not a charge My Right takes lightly.

Jordan - my position is that I want the best for everyone (and world peace - naturally). I absolutely believe that no member of a decent society should be left behind in poverty, should be unable to afford what is required for a 'decent life' (but does 'decent' now mean having Sky TV?), should enjoy less rights before the law. I firmly believe in all of these things.

But when it comes to tax - I am about balance. Hypothetically, if the current top tax rate was 25 cents (and the lower brackets lower than they are now) and the economy was ticking over and social services were as they are now - would you still argue that 39 cents was appropriate as the top rate? Where does it stop? Will it ever be appropriate to lower the top rate below 39%?

Why does the idea of taking less tax of people on a higher income revolt you so? Do you believe in complete redistribution?

Why don't you take it 100 percent and redistribute it evenly? Because you know that before long a lot of people will think - "screw this, no point working hard if the cheque is the same anyway". I don't want us to be equally poor - I want everyone's wealth to increase - everyone's.

As an aside - we recently debated the benefits of maintaining "work / life balance". My desire for nice things requires money, to earn that money I work long and hard (by choice) - but the balance could certainly be improved if half of my working life wasn't spent working for Cullen.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Police - Government relations take another hit 

5 Police Officers and 1 civvie are to be charged with traffic offences after doing what they were told to by one of the PM's staffers. My Right thought the affair was flogged for all it was worth at the time - the idea of the PM's motorcade doing a few extra clicks does not particular perturb me (as long as no civilians were endangered) - but this response seems extreme.

5 careers prejudiced in a face saving excercise that can do nothing for to ease tensions between the Government, the Police HQ and front line Police. Two of the officers are being chargeed for being a party to dangerous driving. So they are getting done for 'being there', was Helen not there as well?

Don't try to tell me that the officers driving were solely responsible for the decision to speed. Don't try to tell me that Helen did not realise that they were flying and could not have told the lads to settle down (after all, she wasn't that fussed about the rugby in any case).

Here's hoping the officers involved refuse to lie down and cop all the rap themselves. If one thing is clear from this whole sorry saga, it is this; if something happens that could make Helen look bad - be somewhere else.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Tax Debate 

There is not much to add to the tax debate currently circulating - other than to say that Cullen and co may have to take some medicine and consider returning some cash to those that actually earnt it in the first place. Rodney Hide is leading the charge and sums it up thus:
Re-crunched figures supplied by Treasury on changes to household incomes and taxes dig the Finance Minister into a deeper hole, confirming that Kiwi households have been harder hit in real terms under Labour than even I initially thought, ACT New Zealand Leader Rodney Hide said today.

"Dr Cullen's new figures were compiled hastily by Treasury in an attempt to save the Minister's face over earlier data, he signed out, that showed cuts in nominal net incomes," Mr Hide said.

"I waited for the better news but unfortunately it didn't come - in fact, quite the opposite. The new figures reveal that the average Kiwi household is $1,740 a year worse off, with Labour's extra taxes swallowing up two-thirds of the increase in household income between 2000 and 2004.

"Dr Cullen is right when he says the figures only tell half the story. The 6 percent increase in net income must be offset by inflation. However, under Labour, inflation was at 10.4 percent from 2000-04. The fact is that a dollar today just doesn't buy what it did when Labour took office.

"Inflation and higher taxes have squeezed hardworking Kiwis, meaning in real terms, the average household is nearly 4 percent worse off over the last four years.
My Right has one question - where the fuck is John Key and National?!?!? Key started quite well as Finance Spokesman when he revealed the effective marginal tax rates under Labour immediately after the last budget. But as it was with the JT golden handshake, Act are setting the agenda, and scoring hits.

Key was quoted in a Dominion article a couple of days ago - but the even that had the edge taken off it:
National's finance spokesman John Key said the figures meant taxpayers were forking out $8m more every day.

"The tax bucket is so full even (Progressive Party leader) Jim Anderton thinks it's time to cut taxes," he said.

"Many families are struggling to make ends meet under this high-tax, anti-family Government – not that it appears to care," Hide said.

The ACT leader pledged to cut top personal and company rate to 20c in the dollar.

National has yet to announce its tax policy.
Key should be on this like white on rice - instead some garrulous figures and not much more. The fact that National have not announced there tax policy left the door open for the slightly churlish reporter to make National appear impotent on the tax front.

Whatever the reasons for 'keeping the powder dry' - National should be landing punches - at the moment My Right is not even seeing a solid jab.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


From this weeks Independent 'Scuttlebutt', some classic Nu Zalan Duc-shin:
That's not what I said

Being a court reporter (of the stenographer rather than journalist variety) can be a challenging job, as Hamilton District Court reporter Jane Stearns pointed out in a recent LawTalk article.

Usual problems include counsel asking questions too quickly, tapping the microphone or having quiet chats with colleagues when their microphones are still on.

However, when Stearns started out, she had the added challenge of being from England and thus having the odd problem understanding every word that Kiwis were saying. "My best effort so far must be when I transcribed, 'I wrote out a cheque,' which I heard clearly.

In fact, the defendant had said, 'I rooted a chick'."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Speaking of campaign themes for National 

My Right missed a big one out from the post below. The Ever Lasting Man (an interesting pseudonym - but every man has a dream - why not go for immortality??) quite correctly points out:
"The trick now is for National and whoever else ties to their boat to get their act together (no pun intended nor Freudian slip) and show the country they are a real alternative. All they have to do is be honest. Labour has always been all about dishonesty this time; they tell porkies yet make the media think its fact or true."
I can't recall a more focus group driven administration in New Zealand history that will commit to something and bail out the minute is proved unpopular. In the absence of critical mainstream media - they can get away with it. The political term is 'spin', or treating the public like muppets.

My Right has often said that Labour 'do politics' better than anyone else, the average New Zealander does not hold politics and politicians in very high regard. Put that together and National simply need to show that this Labour Government are obsessed with staying in power at best, sardonic at worst.

By the way - I don't think nicely worded press releases claiming 'Government Spin' followed by a bunch of statistics is the way to go on this one. Someone get out there and say, "Cullen and Labour are liars - they swore only 5% New Zealanders would be in the top tax bracket - the figure is now 12% - that is lying".

Monday, November 08, 2004

Politics is poll driven Marketing 

Mr Farrar - please make sure the National Party Strategy team receive the following quotte that wrapped up a Nick Byrant piece in the NBR;
"So once again, as in any New Zealand election, it appears the middle is where it's at.

But with more people identifying themselves as right wing than left and so many examples of old-fashioned left-wing intervention from this government, success for the right at the next election must surely be a matter of good communication."
Absolutely! My Right remembers having an outdoor lunch with Jenny Shipley, et al, prior to the 1999 Election. The filthy and accusatory looks from many passers by implied that they thought My Right had a couple of freshly bought slaves in the boot of his car. National has a branding crisis that it must address - and urgently (Ms Boag - they'll call you, don't call them). Byrant's piece is a timely reminder to National that they are under performing, and failing to get their message through, a message that a great many New Zealander's actually want to hear.

Some ideas:
A literal rebranding, drop the blue or at least incorporate some other colour (s). (When Joe New Zealander sees a politician wearing a Blue Button at Election time - they also expect to see someone talking with a silver spoon coming out of there mouth as well).

Candidate Selection! My Right has blogged before on a talented, dynamic, young Maori candidate in the 1999 Election (who missed out that year) being given a disgracefully low list ranking in 2002. It just so happened he would have been perfect to step into the Maori Affairs spokemanship when Georgina stepped aside. (A balanced, fresh and confident line up please. Everything in moderation - even white middle class males like My Right!).

Change the emphasis of the tax policy to highlight things that are stinging all of us - i.e. petrol tax, other stealth taxes and levies. (Broad base support requires broad messages).

Don - liven up mate and throw some sound bites around (they don't have to be personal attacks - you're above that - that's fine). Confident and forceful delivery can get you through the odd gaffe with credibility in one piece - in fact Helen has shown you can get away with saying just about anything if you keep a straight face. (My Right is all for deliberate and considered debate - but getting beaten up by Helen ain't a good look for a future PM).

Accept that on some key policy planks - there is very little difference between National and Labour, focus on idealogy and liberalism. (Helen is quite an inexperienced Mother to be trying to bring up 4 million of us).
Lots more to come prior to the Election - but the NBR column tapped into a long suffered itch.

PNN exposes Keith Locke 

as being a tiresome drum beating bore who can't get his facts straight:
Supercilious argument and pious tone all rammed down your throat, and all in order to make Keith feel better about himself. Thanks to PNN for taking the time to dissect one of these trumped up press releases - My Right's doctor has warned him off even reading them.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Challenge to Jordan and Russell Brown 

Place your hand on your hearts and tell me that John Tamihere's honourable 'resignation' was not under orders.
Rodney Hide: In light of the Prime Minister’s response, what has changed since yesterday, when she promised this House due process for Mr Tamihere, and today, when she accepted his resignation? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: I am not going to warn people about interjecting or making noises while questions are being asked. Questions are entitled to be heard in silence.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I told the House yesterday there is a process in train—and it still is in train—to have a report on a range of allegations, many of them mounted by the member, concerning Mr Tamihere. That process is going on. Mr Tamihere meantime has decided he will resign.
Bullshit, pure and simple. The spin is as audacious as it is insulting - and rightly pointed out by Hide and Brash yesterday:
ACT leader Rodney Hide and National leader Don Brash accused Miss Clark of doing a deal to ensure Mr Tamihere's support for the controversial foreshore and seabed legislation.

"We know her people were talking to John Tamihere, and here's the deal. Resign, sit in the back seat quietly like a good Maori Labour MP, vote for the seabed and foreshore bill, and you might be back," Mr Hide said.

Dr Brash said Labour was doing deals on an "extraordinary scale". She's playing for time. She desperately needed, and still needs, Mr Tamihere's loyalty."
Apart from Helen and Heather's spin becoming rather insulting - the good news is that political cynicism and desperation will probably cause more issues for Labour than it does save face. Can anyone imagine JT sitting quietly while he is on probation?

Meanwhile - hands on hearts boys - tell me it was his decision to resign.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I never thought I would say it 

But thank you to Peter Dunne. Those of you sad enough to watch, or read the transcripts from, Parliamentary Question Time (whilst clearly needing to consider your levels of self loathing) will be very fimiliar with the following phrase - "Point of Order, Mr Speaker".

Question time is utterly littered with this interuption - typically followed by following response from the Speaker, "The Minister did address the question". Then another, "Point of Order, Mr Speaker", swiftly followed by - "I am not hear to judge the quality of the answer, it may not satisfy the member, but the Minister did address the question".

This banal to'ing and fro'ing goes on day after day. But you do have to have some sympathy for the Opposition (regardless of who is in power) - with the current Standing Orders, a Minister can say just about anything and get away with it.

Well, Peter Dunne has finally worded a Point of Order that will hopefully lead to that entire Standing Order being reviewed - this from Question Time yesterday:
Ron Mark: Does the Minister not remember receiving this letter of 29 September 2002 from a southern communications centre officer, addressed to him, where the officer pointed out a further problem, that being: “I have logged on seven highway patrols working from the Rangiora base, and our instruction is that they are not to attend any events, including traffic accidents.”, and if he does remember receiving that letter and reading it, can he tell us what he has done to ensure that strategic traffic units, highway patrols, excess blood/alcohol units, are all available for general duties call-outs such as the two that we have heard of, most disastrously, in the papers of late?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: All staff who are on patrol are available to attend—

Ron Mark: They are not.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: They are, and of course one letter from one disillusioned constable does not say what police policy is all about, but Mr Mark might believe anyone. He probably believes in Santa Claus!

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the member is going to stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise this point of order in respect of the ruling that you made regarding my colleague Marc Alexander’s supplementary question. You have long ruled that Ministers are required to address questions, and that you are not responsible for the quality or content of the answer. I think you may have made, as it is, a rod for your own back in that regard. But leaving that aside, in this instance your ruling was that my colleague’s specific question was one of a number of questions contained within the question that had been put to the Minister, and that essentially the Minister was not obliged to address any of them in responding. Now I think that actually takes the ruling to an extent that makes it a somewhat pointless exercise if addressing a question means that, in fact, someone merely has to get up and utter some words.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the member, who usually always raises a point of order when it is valid, has made a very interesting point. I want to give that some consideration, and I will come back with an answer.

Hopefully Hunt sends this to the Standing Orders Comittee at the very least.
Nice work Peter.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Good job 

After failing spectacularly to play victim, whilst simultaneously trying to create New Zealand's very own Jackie O, Donna A and her body guard / husband have are going to be found out for what they are - thuggish thiefs.
MP Donna Awatere Huata and her husband are to go on trial on charges of fraud and perverting the course of justice.

Awatere Huata and Wi Huata will face 19 charges of misusing $95,000 of cheques from the taxpayer-funded Pipi Foundation when they stand trial at Auckland District Court.
Not excatly encouraging when your own Lawyer accepts that there is a case to answer Donna.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Work / Life Balance - a long term perspective 

There has been a lot of blog on the ILO Study on Work - Life balance - but there was one post that struck a cord. Jordan at Just Left is generally reasonable - but My Right does wonder whether his relationship with reality is a touch casual at times. When commenting on the fact that 20% of New Zealander's are working 50 plus hours a week he states:
This goes to the heart of what kind of society we want to build. Do we want to copy the Americans, the Aussies and the Brits with a long-hours culture? Or do we want to follow a more European model where people work fewer hours and fewer days, but are more productive when they do work?

My view is the latter. Not many people are lucky enough to have jobs they love. Those who do are always going to lavish as much time as they can on them. For the rest of the workforce, the saying is very apt: we work to live, we don't live to work. Decent wages and a REAL forty-hour week can help contribute to a whole range of positive outcomes for workers and their families.

I would favour making overtime payments mandatory once 40hrs are passed for people on wages, and some education work for employers about the benefits of having people keep to their 40hr (or shorter) week.

Maybe this is something Labour can look at next term. Higher productivity, shorter hours and more holidays - sounds pretty attractive to me :)
Of course it sounds attractive, if you are looking to emulate the catastrophic attempt by France to 'implement' work/life balance (although, in fairness, Jordan does not advocate dropping the working week to 35 hours).

The point is that work creates GDP for the country - this is good (My Right disputes the argument that 40 solid hours can somehow be equal to, or greater than, 50 solid hours). It creates wealth and opportunity for those that choose to work hard - this is fair. Sometimes you have to work harder and longer to get ahead of the pack - this is life.

My Right has made the choice over the past 6 years to throw himself into his work - typically topping 50 hours, frequently nudging 60. The extra hours were often spent learning new skills, ensuring project deadlines are met, in short - showing out as a dedicated employee eager to get ahead. This has been successful with regular promotions and pay rises.

Where is the balance in that you say??

The balance comes in two years when My Right has Mrs Right and a party of Little Rights to take care of. The ground work is done, the position in the organistion has been obtained and the higher salary level established. In short, it's payback time. My Right will still get the same salary - but will kick back to 40 hours and enjoy the flexibilty his employer now affords him due to his reputation as a honest worker (the ability to work from home etc). This is a choice, please don't take away my ability to better myself when it suits me, by legislating reasons that make it unattractive for my employer to let me do so.

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