EFA Will Go But Not Soon Enough

June 18, 2008

If the answer results in confusion, more red tape and the potential for litigation, you’ve asked the wrong question and that’s what Labour and its allies did with the Electoral Finance Act.

 Instead of asking how to improve our electoral law, they tried to handicap National and in doing trampled over the freedom of speech of individuals and groups. The only good thing about it is that in the process they’ve hamstrung themselves.

The Herald  editorial and John Armstrong detail some of the Act’s many shortcomings and note that regardless of who wins the election the Act will not survive. That is cold comfort for those who find their freedom of speech is badly constrained.

The shortcomings aren’t helped by the uncertainty over interpretation of the Act, much of which won’t be cleared up until after the election. I liken it to playing a game knowing the referree won’t tell you the rules until after the final whistle is blown; and a friend who is a lawyer reckons it’s more like being handed a noose to put round your neck and being told to jump without knowing how long the rope is.

 


Slow March South For Trooper

June 18, 2008

The 2.74m high statue of Trooper David Mickle Jack  which has stood on top of the Boer War memorial at the intersection of State Highway1 and Thames Street in Oamaru for 104 years was removed yesterday.

The 960 tonne monument will be resited about 40 metres south as part or a realignment of the corner which is an accident black-spot.

The long, slow crawl through Oamaru is unpopular with travellers but retailers have resisted any attempts to move the highway away from the town’s main street. The repositioning of the statue and the associated work won’t speed up the journey but it might make it a bit safer.

 


Another NZ First Donation Goes Back

June 18, 2008

The first of the nine charities to which NZ First donated money, in the mistaken belief this means it no longer owes $158,000 to parliamentary services, has repaid the $10,000 it recieved.

Not surprisingly Peters reckons someone got to Cystic Fibrosis:

“The real issue is who got to them,” he said. “It’s a very sad day when people put petty politics ahead of human interest.”

Goodness me, the master of petty politics doesn’t understand the real issue is that donating to charity does not absolve the party of its debt to parliamentary services.

Audrey Young said she was tempted to feel a smidgen of sympathy for Winston Peters because the charity had asked for a donation.

But I have resisted temptation. Peters dreamed up a stunt that he believed would inoculate himself from criticism – who wants to bag groups like Cystic Fibrosis Association?

Yet all he done is draw more attention to a stunt that has backfired.

He has dragged yet another charity into the midst of a political row. This money was always going to be contentious and tainted in the view of some because so many people believe it rightly belongs with taxpayers.

He sought to keep the charities a secret from the public, knowing that news is anything someone doesn’t want you to know, especially something a politician doesn’t want you to know.

Speaker Margaret Wilson has agreed to keep his secret. She knows which groups have received which money but says it Peters’ secret for him to disclose – or words to that effect.

It is time for someone to do the right thing.

It is indeed and Keeping Stock has a link for on-line donations to Cystic Fibrosis should anyone wish to support them for putting principle before their genuine need for money. So do Kiwiblog,  and Whaleoil. And Not PC links to the charity’s website.

Is it too much to hope that inside Winston’s cloud of hypocricy there may be a silver lining in that this is the action that finally allows voters to see through him? The media and bloggers already have: 

The Dominion editorial says:

But giving $158,000, taken from the public purse, to outside organisations does not constitute repayment of a debt. Nor does refusing to name the recipients, something he had previously undertaken to do, lend credibility to the exercise. Mr Peters says he has decided not to name the charities because he does not want them bothered by the “prying media”.

That is a one-fingered salute to those who hold to the quaint notion that politicians should be accountable for how they spend public money.

It is also unsatisfactory. Who is to say that NZ First does not regard the Re-elect Winston Campaign in Tauranga or, for that matter, NZ First itself, as charities?

By retrospectively changing the law, the Government obviated the legal requirement for politicians to repay the money they unlawfully spent. But the moral obligation to comply with the law of the day remains. NZ First has not met it.

If no other benefit arises, Mr Peters’ reluctance to do the right thing serves as a useful reminder of how a politician positioning himself to once again act as a post-election kingmaker, operates.

And Inquiring Mind  notes: Peters yet again demonstrates not only arrogance, but total contempt for the media and indirectly for the public, as according to him they should only ever know what he wants them to know.

Annie Fox  doesn’t understand why NZ First hasn’t been struck off for not paying the money back. It’s because they colluded with Labour to change the law to make their illegal use of public money retrospectively legal.

I doubt that Winston and his party will admit defeat and repay Parliamentary Services, but the other eight charities which received donations can follow the lead given by Cystic Fibrosis and Starship (which turned down the initial donation last year).

Then it will be up to voters to deliver the final blow at the ballot box.  


Opera House Needs Loan

June 18, 2008

A $3 million loan  will be requried to pay for the refurbishment of the Oamaru Opera House.

 

The grand old lady which graces Oamaru’s main street was built 100 years ago. It is undergoing an extensive upgrade which was to have been financed in part from the proceeds of the Forrester Heights subdivision. But delays in selling the properties means a loan will be needed to help pay the $9.7m bill for the project.


We’re Wearing Their Wool Here

June 18, 2008

The New Zealand Merino Company is having to source wool from Australia to fill contracts because tenure review has reduced the number of sheep able to be run in the high country.

It is ironic that tenure review forces farmers to farm more intensively, sometimes with irrigation, and then they are criticised because of the change this has on the landscape.

If the Government wasn’t forcing farmers to relinquish so much of the tussock land requried for summer grazing there would be less need for intensification.

 


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