13,600 EFA breaches

July 31, 2008

An investigation by the State Services Commission has found 13,600 references to the Labour-led Government which must be removed from government websites because of the Electoral Finance Act.

National deputy leader Bill English said the SSC had sent out a memo to 120 state agencies saying “Labour-led government” was not appropriate under the EFA.

A search by the SSC had found the offending phrase 13,600 times on taxpayer funded websites, Mr English said.

Cabinet Minister Pete Hodgson said the SSC had advised departments of their obligations under the EFA and he hoped they were well followed. He said as time went by the references would be removed.

As time went by? Would any of us be able to attend to matters which breached the law “as time went by”?

Mr English also claimed that a Labour MP was distributing stickers with the phrase “Labour-led Government” and featuring two ticks. These were funded by the Prime Minister’s office and in clear breach of the EFA, he said.

Mr Hodgson did not respond to the substance of Mr English’s allegation.

Why would he when the EFA was supposed to stop National spending its own money not hamper Labour in spending the taxpayers’?


Conduct unbecoming

July 31, 2008

Is this appropriate conduct for a Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Contacted for comment yesterday, the party leader, Winston Peters, said: “Phil, I told you I’m not talking to a lying wanker like you. See you.” He then hung up.

That was his response to questions from Dominion post journalist Phil Kitchen about a deposit slip showing $19,998 was deposited into NZ First’s bank account from one or more cheques in December 1999.


Publication part of punishment

July 31, 2008

Publication of some offenders’ photos could be a more powerful deterrent than a sentence according to Distirct Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll.

He was ruling on an application by the ODT to publish a photo of a man who admitted downloading images showing sexual exploitation of children.

Granting the application, Judge O’Driscoll said the basic principle of an open court meant the media, which had an obligation to be fair and balanced, was “the eyes and ears of the public” and always entitled to be in court.

… Judge O’Driscoll said the publication of the defendant’s name and photograph could be a powerful deterrent to both those already involved in such offending and those considering it.

The defendent’s counsel opposed the application for lifting name suppression noting the impact on the defendent’s wife and elderly mother. But the judge said it was a sad consequence of offending that there were always innocent family members who suffered.

And of course the innocent children who are exploited by pornographers.


Winston in Wonderland

July 30, 2008

Winston Peters attacked journalists today and said the media, like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, believed impossible things.

His reference to the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party today reminded me he is like another Lewis Carol character who delights in obfuscation:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs: they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

‘Would you tell me, please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’

‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, …

Update: The transcript of Peters’ speech in parliament yesterday is here.


Paua project waits five years for funds

July 30, 2008

An East Coast paua hatchery was forced to wait five years for a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Sustainable Farming Fund.

The SFF approved the $230,500 grant in 2002 but the money wasn’t paid over until November last year.

National’s agriculture spokesman David Carter  attributes the delay to “bureaucratic ineptness”.

The grant was for the development of a commercially viable paua production system. The project was to study yellow-foot and virgin paua so seed stock production methods could be developed; to develop a selective breeding system across these two species and common paua to provide superior stock; and to test and develop a recirculating sea water system.

The applicant, Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa, wrote to MAF, MAF’s director general, the Minsiter of Maori Affairs and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton seeking answers.

Carter has obtained an internal memo  which states:

” ‘all failings – and there has [sic]been many of them – were at MAF’s end’ and that it was ‘extremely embarrassing’ for MAF.”

The Minister should also be embarrassed but as Phillipa Stevenson points out at Dig ‘n’ Stir he avoided the issue when Carter questioned  him in parliament this week.

Five years of ineptness deserves more than obfuscation. Does nobody in government know how to say, “sorry we stuffed up”?

Hat tip: Dig ‘n’ Stir


Yule wins Local Govt Presidency

July 30, 2008

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule has been elected president of Local Government New Zealand.

Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, who contested the presidency too, is the new deputy.

Bob Harvey, Waitakere mayor had earlier criticised local bodies supporting Yule’s nomination:

“It’s a brainless stand as the largest urban authority in New Zealand to not think through what the job entails and I’m surprised and amazed at their decision. Local government will be in serious trouble if they don’t come to their sense and realise that the job is beyond the mayor of a small rural district.”

Obviously enough of those who voted realise that size doesn’t matter and a president with an understanding of provincial issues and a deputy who knows about urban issues should ensure the views of all local authorities are understood and represented.

Update: I stand to be corrected on this but I think Yule was electorate chair for Michael Laws when he (Laws) was a National MP. The skills he’d need for that job will be very useful in his new role 🙂



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