Blogs on unprincipled Green list manipulation


I am not alone in thinking that the Green manipulation of its list ranking to allow Russell Norman into parliament is unprincipled.

Under a heading Red Russell no longer to be CInderella  Adam Smith notes:

So ‘Red’ Russel is no longer to be the Cinderella party leader; he will go to the ball. Mike Ward has suddenly decided to play fairy godmother to the Greens Co-leader, so that his wish of entering Parliament before the election can be granted.

What a blatant piece of manipulation of the rules under MMP. Someone who none in the electorate voted for is now propelled into Parliament.  There should be a backlash and a mighty big one at that, against this unprincipled move by the Greens. Indeed, Adam would trust that there would be similar opprobrium heaped on any party that indulges in such shameless manipulation.

No Minister calls them scheming and unprincipled.

David Farrar objects to MPs resigning before their term is up for tactical partisan reasons and to changing the list after the election.

There is no way one can stop an MP resigning early, but one could have a simple law change to remove the ability for a list candidate to refuse to become an MP. They could still be elected and then resign, but that extra step might stop them from doing private deals to change the effective order of a list post-election.

Whaleoil calls it hypocrisy.

The Greens have no shame. Firstly they cynically manipulated the Electoral System to prevent or at the very least hinder freedom of speech and now they manipulate the list system so they can get more money campaigning.

Keeping Stock asks:  

The Greens – party of principle?

That’s a very good question today! We now know that Mike Ward has had a “Road to Damascus” experience, and will stand aside to allow Nandor to retire, and Red Russel Norman to enter Parliament for the last 28 sitting days of the current body!

Now what difference will that make? Well, RR will now enjoy the privileges of office, including an ability to criss-cross Aotearoa by air, and take advantage of the Greens’ parliamentary machine to get the pre-election message to the masses.


 Monkeys with Typewriters call them bottom feeders:

 It is bottom feeding – a self-interested, vote-catching race, and it’s simply disgusting – a disgusting retreat from principle by Labour and a disgusting return to simpering denial by National.”
says Russell Norman.

This from the Party that endorsed the Election Finance Act.

but let’s analyse the philosophical view endorsed here. It at once manages to patronise and be smug, without delivering any message of intent, while at the same time displaying an arrogance and disregard for the voter.

I can only imagine that this was after Russell Norman got the email telling him that his seat in Parliament was secure.

The Standard  is the lone dissenting voice:

Good on Mike Ward for finally seeing sense and stepping aside, allowing Greens co-leader Russel Norman to enter Parliament replacing Nandor Tanczos. Norman is rapidly establsihing himself as a very good media frontperson for the Greens; being in Parliament will enhance his role.

Only the righties were praising Ward for not stepping aside (just as they are the only ones praising the Greens for threatening to sink the ETS). Something’s not right when your supporters are asking you to change and the tories are cheering you on.

While The Hive sees a little silver lining the cloud of manipulation:

Both Kiwiblog and the Inquiring Mind have posts today on the news that the Greens have achieved their manipulation of the electoral laws to allow “Red” Russel Norman to jump up the party list so that he can enter Parliament before the election. This means more profile and more money for our neo-Marxist friend.

We are not as outraged as David Farrar or Adam Smith. We want Russel Norman’s views exposed to all as clearly as possible. When people realise where this guy is trying to take the Greens they might think twice about the wisdom of voting them back in. We hope also that the media do some thorough work on what drives our newest MP to be.

A comment from Truth Seeker under this post says it’s the list equivalent of a loyal MP in a safe seats being asked to stand aside so a new party leader can take a seat in the House”.


But there’s one important difference – if an MP who holds a seat stands aside there has to be a bi-election which lets the people decide. Three people who were ranked ahead of Norman on the list in 2005 had to stand aside to let him into parliament – that’s the party hierarchy playing politics not democracy.





$9.5m for food aid



We’re giving $9.5m in aid to help fight the world food crisis.

The funding would be delivered via NZAid with $7m going to the UN World Food Programme which focuses on feeding people in life or death situations. The remainder would go to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research for a longer term response.

I’m pleased to see that some of the money is going towards finding a long term solution on humanitarian grounds but also because food shortages threaten world security.

 The CGIAR website  lists its priorities as: 

  • Reducing hunger and malnutrition by producing more and better food through genetic improvement
  • Sustaining agriculture biodiversity both in situ and ex situ
  • Promoting opportunities for economic development and through agricultural diversification and high-value commodities and products
  • Ensuring sustainable management and conservation of water, land and forests
  • Improving policies and facilitating institutional innovation

  I wonder if genetic improvement includes GM and if those who oppose GM would relax their opposition if it meant the difference between people starving or not?

 The website also notes:

 Without public investment in international agricultural research through the CGIAR,

  • world production would be 4-5 percent lower
  • developing countries would produce 7-8 percent less food
  • world food and feed grain prices would be 18-21 percent higher
  • 13-15 million more children would be malnourished

For every $1 invested in CGIAR research, $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries, where it is needed most. The evidence is clear: agricultural growth alleviates poverty and hunger.

 The food crisis provides both challenges and opportunities for New Zealand producers and we have a lot of expertise to offer the world. It doesn’t have to be through Government aid either as the Kyrgyzstan New Zealand Rural Trust  has shown.

 The Trust was formed a year ago when the Government stopped funding an aid programme there. It aims to assist with income generation, livelihood improvement and livestock performance.

 The present programme has two main threads:

• Poverty reduction subprojects include potato production and storage, goat production, bakery, sewing shops, milk processing and pasteurizing. Most of these sub-projects have a “social obligation” element where the first group of families assisted under the project will help other families in the community.

• Livestock performance subprojects include establishment of sainfoin (a high altitude legume), improve wintering barns to improve hygiene and survival, and making silage to improve feed quality.

Future programmes may include support for a microcredit agency which will offer Grameen Bank style loans to poor families to invest in income generation activities, as well as continuation of the successful pro-poor and livestock improvement subprojects.

 Update: Oh dear, am I being niaive in my approval of the donation to CGIAR?

No Minister  reckons it’s money down the drain:


That will be the last anyone ever sees of that $2,500,000.


Why don’t we donate $7m of actual NZ produced food and help some local manufacturers. That’s probably about 700,000 blocks of cheese. Then it becomes a win win.

And Whale Oil has a better idea to combat food shortages:


Far from New Zealand putting its money where its mouth is they are putting OUR money where it will evaporate faster than an iceblock in Death Valley.

The single best thing we can all do to combat the world wide shortage of foodstuffs is cancel our obsession with Kyoto and Biofuels.

It wont cost a cent. Best of all it will remove thousands of consultants from government departments writing endless papers on how the department will need to be carbon neutral.






Broadband pitiful



Japanese telecoms entrepreneur  Sachio Semmoto told Helen Clark three years ago that New Zealand’s broadband was pitiful.

Semmoto praises Communications Minister David Cunliffe for tackling Telecom. “It had to be done”.

But he’s critical of the Government’s recent Budget announcements: The $340 million Digital Pathway Fund will still not be sufficient to fast forward the switch in emphasis needed to get New Zealand on to a better broadband platform, he says. Its focus on fibre – when many advanced societies are switching to greater use of mobile technologies – needs to be balanced.

New Zealand will simply “get killed” if it does not tackle such issues swiftly and build a speedy information highway to connect to nations with which it wants to do business.

If he’s not impressed by city broadband speeds he’d been even less impressed in the country.


We’ve got wireless broadband at home which gives us 100Mbps. The crib in Wanaka has dial up at half that and I had a laptop in Millers Flat last Friday where dial up was just 15Mbps.

Food crisis might bring free trade


The growing world shortage of food might achieve what years of diplomacy and lobbying haven’t: a reduction in, perhaps even the elimination of, tariffs on food.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate suspension or elimination of price controls and other trade restrictions in an effort to bring down soaring world food prices.


Adam Smith  links to a Financial Times article by World Bank head Robert Zoellick who makes a similar call. His 10 point plan includes a need to boost agricultural supply and research spending; increase investment in agribusiness; and remove subsidies and tariffs on food and bio fuels.


New Zealand farmers were dragged into the real world when Roger Douglas removed subsidies on farm produce in 1984. We didn’t like it at the time but that was partly because tariffs remained on imports and the labour market was highly regulated so costs stayed up while prices dropped; and we were also battling high interest rates, high inflation, a high dollar and drought.


However, while a few farmers were forced to sell most hung in and eventually adapted to the new order and are more secure because of it. Those downstream weren’t so fortunate. Thousands of jobs were lost on farms, in stock firms, shearing gangs, freezing works, and other businesses which serviced or supplied us or processed what we grew. The lesson from this was clear: the subsidies hadn’t helped producers or consumers, it had just feather-bedded those who take their cut between the farm gate and the kitchen table.


A good season for cropping and dairy farmers makes it easy for them to spurn calls for a return to subsidies but even though they’ve had a horror season I’ve yet to hear a single sheep or beef farmer wanting to go back to the bad old days of when politicians controlled our income. 

Many of our trading partners have yet to understand the harm that subsidies do and New Zealand farmers, processors and the wider economy pay the price for that. This lesson is lost on some in New Zealand including the Greens and NZ First; and as David Farrar  points out it is ironic that free trade advocates are with the UN and Oxfam on this issues while the Greens are siding with the US in supporting tariffs and biofuels.

There go the principles


Mike Ward has agreed to forgo his right to enter parliament when Nador Tanczos retires shortly so that Green Party co-leader can take his place.

The Herald quotes Norman as saying “Principle has surrendered to politics.”  while attacking Labour at the weekend. What about the principle of party list ranking before elections not between them, is it okay to be expedient about them if it means you’ll get the benefits of campiagning as an MP?

Queenstown property prices down, Wanaka slow but stable


A Queenstown apartment which was bought for $1.8m a year ago sold for $800,000 last weekend.

Over the hill in Wanaka an average of 30 properties change hand each month, in April there were only three sales. A real estate agent told us prices haven’t fallen yet, but there isn’t much on the market. Wanaka doesn’t usually have the same boom and bust property market as Queenstown but if someone has to sell prices will start coming down.

Her own words or someone else’s?


The Hive asks if anyone believes that Winston Peters wrote the article on the Proliferation Security Initiative which appeared in yesterday’s Dominion.


I can’t find it on line so can’t comment. However, politicians don’t usually write their own press releases and opinion pieces are generally their own thoughts but may or may not be in their own words, even if its got their name above them. A personal tribute is a different matter, if it says it’s a tribute by someone then it ought to be by them and that’s what I was expecting when I saw this in the first edition of Mindfood: 


The Right Honourable Helen Clark recalls the extraordinary life of “Sir Ed” and why the late mountain conqueror, explorer and humanitarian will always loom large in the New Zealand consciousness.

BY The Honourable Helen Clark | Mar 17, 2008


After the death of a highly respected public figure a Prime Minister has a fine line to tread between what’s required by the official role and political opportunism. I though Clark got it right after Sir Edmund’s death but I don’t think she has with this tribute.


Media reports gave me the impression that Clark knew Sir Ed well so when I saw the headline in the magazine I expected a personal insight with a few anecdotes. Instead, it’s an impersonal account that any journalist could have written from cuttings.


So is it her personal tribute or one written by her staff? I’d expect a Prime Minister to be busy enough without writing tributes, and it certainly doesn’t read as if it was written by someone who knew Sir Ed. That doesn’t mean she didn’t write it; but why bother doing it if she couldn’t make it personal; and why would an editor want a tribute from the PM if it didn’t tell us anything more than could have been covered by someone who hadn’t known the subject?


Does it matter? Prime Ministers and former academics aren’t necessarily renowned for deathless prose so it may well be her own words , and if so it reinforces the impression of someone who lacks warmth and the personal touch. If it isn’t her writing then she’s done the magazine and its readers a disservice and it would show she hasn’t learnt from the forged painting episode.


Ian Wishart makes a great deal of this in Absolute Power.  I’ve read the book and agree with commentators who say it is the right wing equivalent of Nicky Hager’s Hollow Men in that both authors appear to have started with a point of view and found the evidence, to back it up.


However, I think Wishart makes a fair point about “paintergate”. It wasn’t just one painting when she was a busy Prime Minister (which wouldn’t have made it right, but might have been easier to understand); she eventually admitted to about half a dozen art works over 20 years and when confronted with it didn’t seem to understand she’d done anything wrong.


It’s not like signing a bottle of wine because the label clearly shows who made it. The signature on a painting or other work of art is part of its provenance and in the absence of any indication to the contrary it’s a statement that it is the signatory’s work. You’d think a Minister of Arts would know this and understand its importance.


You’d also think that anyone who was asked to produce various works of art over a 20 year period might have come up with several acceptable alternatives to paying someone else to produce them then signing them as if they were her own. Why not say she couldn’t paint but offer to help the charities in another way? Or say she couldn’t paint but was happy to donate someone else’s work; or simply do a daub?


 That she didn’t certainly isn’t a hanging offence and I think the police were correct in concluding that the consequences of charging her for forgery would have far outweighed the alleged crime. But what she did was wrong and she didn’t appear to accept that; so when I read the impersonal tribute I wondered if it was really written by her or one of her media team because if she didn’t really understand what was wrong with forging art, she might not also understand you shouldn’t put a by-line to a tribute written by someone else.

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