How do we know who’s who?

August 22, 2008

When I checked the Act Party website yesterday I noticed that there were only three photos. Dave Mann made this comment on my Wednesday’s post about the list which summed up my thoughts:

How totally unprofessional of these clowns to publish a candidate list with missing photos. Can’t these people at least get it together to do a simple set of mug shots on their own web site, FFS?

It also prompted me to wonder if the other parties do a better job so I had a look at websites for the parties in parliament and this is what I found for them:

Act: Names and photos of numbers one to three on the list, names (and electorates for those standing in seats) of the other candidates. No other information on the people or how they can be contacted and no information about the candidate standing in Botany who isn’t on the list.

Green Party: The candidates from number 1 to 30 on the list have photos, a statement and link through to other information. There is then a page and a half of other candidates (all of whom are number 31 on the list which seems to be a ludicrous extention of the philosophy which gives them co-leaders) and a statement. Some have links to other information.

Labour: This site is funded by us which might explain why it lists MPS but doesn’t mention candidates at all.

Maori Party:  I couldn’t even find a list of MPs and if there is any mention of candidates I didn’t find it.

New Zealand First: The MPs are listed but there’s no mention of candidates.

National Party:  All electorate and list candidates are listed with links through to photos and information about each of them (except the list only candidates at numbers 68 to 74 who were added to the list on Saturday).

Progressive Party: This site has a (small) list of spokespeople but no mention of candidates.

United Future: There is a list of 22 candidates with electorates and links through to photos and additional information.

National and United Future have the best presentation of candidates with photos and personal information – although the latter has only 22 people seeking election.

The Greens get a pass because although they don’t have photos and information for all their candidates they do for all those likely to enter parliament.

The other parties don’t appear to know that there’s an election in the next three months, or if they do they’re not interested in letting voters know about their candidates via their websites.

Another thought, apropos of Parliamentary Services funding the Labour website. What does it say about the second biggest party in the country, and the one currently leading the government if it doesn’t have the money to fund its own website?

Perhaps they’re spending too much on wages for their bloggers.


Even In The Dark

August 22, 2008

This Friday’s poem, Even in the Dark, is by Ruth Gilbert.

 

I found it in My Heart Goes Swimming, New Zealand Love Poems, edited by Jenny Bornholdt  and Gregory O’Brien.

 

Even In the Dark

 

As a room you know,

Ad even at midnight

Walk through effortlessly,

By sense, not sight

Passing unscathed between

Table and chair

Avoiding the low foot-stool,

Faultlessly aware

Of ledge and bowl

Of flower and crystal vase;

Moving unerringly

Without fear or pause

To the desk with its open book,

Paper-knife, and book-mark;

As this room I would have you know me,

Even in the dark.

 

– Ruth Gilbert –


Still questions on SFF PGW merger

August 22, 2008

The Grant Samuels report on the proposed merger between SIlver Fern Farms and PGG Wrightson is largely positive and includes the expectation that SFF will have a $48m profit for the year.

That’s a $90m improvement after a $42m loss last year.

The report also says the $220m PGW is offering for a 50% stake in SFF is at the top of the range.

The transaction was expected to increase cash-strapped Silver Fern Farm’s equity ratio to 80 percent and enable it to develop a stronger in-market presence and invest in capital projects…

Other benefits of the transaction would include the likelihood of success of Project Rightsize and the upgrade of remaining plants with state-of-the-art technology.

Grant Samuels says in the report PGG Wrightson’s resources and national coverage meant it was uniquely positioned to deliver more stock, and help farmers participate in an integrated supply chain.

However, Silver Fern Farms would have to pay at or above market price to attract and maintain stock supply, with half the company’s profits to flow back to PGG Wrightson.

One question the report doesn’t answer is the imbalance in voting rights between PGW and SFF because of unallocated shares held for new suppliers.

SFF is a co-operative, when new suppliers join they get a portion of unallocated shares which the company holds and can then exercise voting rights they carry.

If the merger goes ahead, PGW will have 50% of the shares and the voting rights which go with them, but SFF suppliers will have 50% minus the unallocated shares and so have fewer votes.

An alternative to that would be to allocate all the shares but then no new suppiers could join the co-operative unless existing shareholders left when they could take over their shares. That wouldn’t be sensible because the capacity for new suppliers would be limited by number of shares relinquished by retiring suppliers.

The only way to ensure that SFF shareholders always have 50% of the voting rights would be to start with them holding half the shares then increase the shareholding of both SFF and PGW with each new supplier so that PGW’s share goes up by the same amount as the new SFF shares.


Greens seek advice on ETS

August 22, 2008

The cynical would say it is a publicity stunt or an attempt to get more concessions from Labour.

The charitable would say they genuinely want to know what the public think.

Whatever the reason, Jeanette Fitzsimons announced the Green Party is asking the public for their views before the party makes the decision on whether or not to support legislation to introduce an Emmissions Trading Scheme.

It is a dilemma, it is a hard decision and certainly the outcome is not decided,” Ms Fitzsimons said.

“I think it is the decision with the biggest economic implications for the nation that we’ve ever had to make.”

Something the party may want to consider is that it is not this scheme or nothing. Regardless of the outcome of the election New Zealand will have an ETS.

The choice is between rushing through badly flawed legislation which has a high economic cost for little or no environmental gain now; or waiting so it can have the measured consideration it deserves to produce legislation which ensures the high price will be matched by some improvements to the environment.

Frogblog explains the Greens’ thinking here.


Just sweat glands on cycles – Hopkins

August 22, 2008

Jim Hopkins begins in verse:

Pay heed, ye wags and dags and swells
Who wouldst provoke sensation
Your honed bons mots and epigrams
Will not convulse the nation
There is no call for polished jests
No need to hone your wits
For if thou wouldst true stir the mass
You simply flash your t***!!!

And continues:

Equally, if the deliberately provocative Boobs on Bikes had been replaced with something less inflammatory – maybe Mammaries on Machines – it would be much harder to imagine your average callow youth or haemorrhoidal voyeur exposing himself to the risk of moral corruption by trudging down to Queen St for a quick perv.

And concludes:

One final thought before we close the book on this storm in a D cup.

Mr Crow is a fairground barker. Nothing more.

And his event is a sideshow, all sawdust and sleaze.

But it’s not the threat some fear it is.

At worst, it was an offensive inconvenience for one hour on one day of one month in one year.

But none of us were forced to attend this public mockery of the precepts of feminism.

We needn’t fear people like Mr Crow. They merely encourage us to make occasional silly or grubby choices.

The people we should fear are the curriculum crafters, the food police, the tuckshop banners, the secret censors, the untouchable apparatchiks who make the rules and rig our elections.

It’s the bureaucratic worrywarts busily banning this and regulating that at the drop of a self-righteous hat that should frighten us.

The always brilliant H.L. Mencken once defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy”.

It’s a fear that clearly preoccupies our new puritans – the ones in power.

Their enthusiastically exercised ability to supplant choice with rules is the real threat to our mental health and moral conscience.

There is more worth reading in between these extracts, you’ll find the whole column here.


Public porn makes boobs of all

August 22, 2008

The  ODT editorial  on Boobs on Bikes was headlined Harmless Fun?

Topless women advertising an age-restricted pornography exposition while riding on motorbikes down Queen St in Auckland does not, according to Judge Nicola Mathers, meet the legal threshold of offensiveness.

The judge seemed to be applying some common sense to the law, for although she noted some people would be deeply offended by the parade, and would consider it tactless and distasteful, she also observed that 80,000 people “voted with their feet” last year by attending the parade.

That suggested to her they approved of it and considered it harmless fun.

She might also have observed that about 1.1 million of Greater Auckland’s population had consistently chosen each year to stay away from the parade.

The judge had to consider a claim by the Auckland District Council for an injunction to stop the parade, on the grounds that it breached a new bylaw enabling the council to ban parades it considered offensive.

The organiser had apparently not troubled himself to apply for a suitable permit, no doubt anticipating it would be refused.

But the case was flimsily based from the start, since, as the police themselves pointed out, the enforcement of council bylaws is not a matter for them these days, nor is it an offence under the Summary Offences Act in 2008 for a woman to go topless in public, and Judge Mathers said herself it was at least arguable that the bylaw breached the Bill of Rights.

Certainly, one would think the police, especially in Auckland, have better things to do on a Wednesday than holding back the slavering multitudes, but the liberal citizenry will most likely appreciate the judge’s precedent which seems to ensure the pornography industry has equal rights with the rest of us to make an exhibition of itself.

Many women, and not a few men, may have been somewhat puzzled by the nation’s contradictory approach to the display of the female breast in public.

After all, while it is lawful, indeed now apparently a constitutional duty, to display such useful appendages in the street, when it comes to breast-feeding babies in public places – despite the best efforts of the La Leche League – there is usually an outcry from the easily offended.

And was what amounted to an advertisement for a commercial exhibition of adult erotica really to be considered in the same breath as the right of all women to celebrate their bodies?

If the parade was, as it seemed to be, advertising human sexuality, then Judge Mather’s benchmark may be considered by a majority to be no less than appropriate for the times.

On the other hand, the question has been asked: what sort of message does such a parade give teenage and younger boys, not to mention grown men?

The word “puerile” springs to mind as suitable to describe the most probable male response to any such display of female body parts, rather than – say – to a parade displaying shared female opinions of women’s creativity, intelligence and beauty.

After all, the tide of misogynist voyeurism seems to rise higher every year in this country, from “harmless fun” parades such as Auckland’s to the fake validity of television “reality” programmes, to computer games, Internet filth and pornographic films.

It cannot only be a coincidence that the (mostly male) tolerance benchmarks for what the community at large considers offensive are rising with this tide.

Thus, All Black Jerry Collins can urinate without sanction in public before millions watching test match preliminaries, where once within living memory an All Black shocked a radio audience to its core with merely an honest and mild oath; language once considered deeply repellent and unlawful is the common currency not just of the masculine world but of the schoolyard; repugnant behaviour which turns the law on its head is a daily occurrence in social settings, and all too often the subject of uncritical display on the nightly television news where all may see it repeated.

A decade ago, one of our finest jurists, Sir Michael Hardie-Boys, delivered another kind of benchmark whose core message remains just as valid today.

He suggested some basic strategies to halt our headlong drift into a state where compassion is absent, virtue non-existent, truth invisible, and the authority of reason forgotten.

We need to teach again the basic rules of life, he warned, “so that the influences of upbringing, or home, school and social environment, are wholesome and positive, directing us from early childhood on, towards, and not away from, those essential attitudes of personal, family and social responsibility.”

The banality of the Auckland street parade and its shabby endorsement represents an aspect of human nature where curiosity is able to be detached from reality, where onlookers can simultaneously be involved and uninvolved, their moral reasoning suspended.

It is true that it is within each individual’s power to avoid such events, ignore “reality” television, not buy obscene computer games or view pornographic films.

That, however, is hardly the core issue, which is nothing to do with how we portray each other, or judge each other, but how we view ourselves.

It wasn’t illegal, the people on parade had the right to bare themselves, the voyeurs had the right to watch them. But by doing so they all made boobs of themselves because they forgot that the right to say yes sometimes comes with the responsibility to say no.


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