Conduct unbecoming

August 28, 2008

Is this appropriate  behaviour for a cabinet minister?

Rt Hon Winston Peters has told the Serious Fraud Office to either lay charges against him or to shut up and go away.   

Mr Peters today said the SFO had been creeping around back doors dropping hints and providing media speculation but not finding any evidence of wrongdoing or illegality on his part.       

“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and if they don’t turn up they can go away for ever,” said Mr Peters.
It’s certainly neither right nor honorable.

Clark knew what, when?

August 28, 2008

Helen Clark said that Owen Glenn told her in February  that he’d given a $100,000 donation to New Zealand First.

The Prime Minister then put that information to the party’s leader Winston Peters at the time and he gave her an assurance that the party had not received money from Mr Glenn.

This new information this morning means Helen Clark has known for months of the conflicting sides of the story which were publicly revealed yesterday in letters to Parliament’s privileges committee.

And yet she stood by her man.

Helen Clark said the question of donations to New Zealand First was on the front page of the paper when she and Mr Glenn were at Auckland University to open its new business school, on February 21.

“Mr Glenn on that occasion said to me pretty much what he said to the Privileges Committee,” the Prime Minister said this morning.

“As you would expect, the first thing that I did was go away and ring Mr Peters, and Mr Peters has consistently maintained that he never made that phone call to Mr Glenn,” she said, referring to the solicitation of the donation.

“So, there’s always been a conflict of evidence.”

Helen Clark said that at every time the issue had arisen, she had rung Mr Peters and asked for his word.

And every time she took his word rather than that of Glenn.

One of the first things I learnt at journalism school was the importance of asking the right questions. Another lesson was the importance of verifying information.

Asking for the word of a man who has repeatedly shown he can’t give a straight answer is not enough. Clark should have asked more questions and, given the conflict between what Glenn and Peters told her, she should have done all she could to verify the facts.

Not doing so while the allegations not only swirled but multiplied was either stupid or she was turning a blind eye for political opportunism; and she’s not usually stupid.

The Prime Minister also criticised Mr Peters’ handling of the issue since it arose, appearing to try to put some distance between herself and her Foreign Minister.

Too late for that, they’re welded together because he needs her support and she needs his votes.

While she said she wanted to see the matter “dealt with”, Helen Clark said she felt she had a duty to be fair.

What about her duty to be fair to her colleagues who are treated with a lot less leniency; or to the public or to New Zealand which has had a proud reputation for a lack of corruption?

“I have not known Mr Peters to lie to me, and I have to take people as I find them,” she said.

“He is utterly convinced that he never made that call.”

And how difficult would it be to prove if that was true? If you’ve got what it takes to run the country you need what it takes to get the truth.

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock


EFA confuses Minister

August 28, 2008

The August September issue of Primary News turned up in the mail box on Tuesday.

I take it that means there have been previous issues and while I don’t remember seeing them that could be because junk mail often goes in the round wicker file in the office before it gets to the house.

If the contents of this issue are anything to go by I haven’t missed much – it’s really just a brag sheet for Jim Anderton and the government.

But a couple of things intrigued me. 

The first was that, on the presumption that you and I paid for this newsletter it ought to have a parliamentary crest. It does have the New Zealand coat of arms but no crest.

The second thing I noted was this:

This statement is issued by Hon. Jim Anderton. His newsletters are part of the normal course of business of Cabinet Ministers and elected representatives. We do not believe they are election advertisements within the Electoral Finance Act , and nor was the Act intended to apply to them. However, because some people are confused about the Act and Jim Anderton is proud to confirm his responsibility for what he says, this statement is authorised by Phil Clearwater, 5 Sherwood Lane, Christchurch.

Call me a nit picker if you will, but this appears to authorise the statement not the newsletter. But whether or not I’m right about that it does indicate that Anderton is as confused as the rest of us about the application of the EFA.


Blind justice

August 28, 2008

 Busted Blonde  pointed me at the Chicane cartoon in this morning’s Southland Times.

It’s a cracker.


Sweet rewards from honey dressings

August 28, 2008

Waikato University’s honey reserach group is about to strike gold.

Wound dressings made from biologically active manuka honey and a seaweed gel have gone on sale in New Zealand, and are about to hit international markets, Waikato University researchers say.

The university’s honey research group, led by Professor Peter Molan, put together the blend of honey and a seaweed extract as a dressing for leg and foot ulcers, burns, and similar infections, a market estimated to be worth $12 billion by 2012.

The technology has been licensed as a Medihoney antibacterial honey gel sheet, which has won regulatory approval to be sold in Europe, and Food and Drug Administration approval for the United States.

The sheets hold the antibacterial honey in contact with a wound and at the same time absorb the pus and other liquids draining from the wound. Decades of work by Prof Molan went into showing antibacterial agents in some specific types of manuka honey are effective at healing wounds. He created prototypes of the wound dressing about six years ago. The patch contains manuka honey gelled with sodium alginate, a food ingredient extracted from seaweed which helps the dressing absorb moisture.

The patch is dry, and does not stick to the skin: Prof Molan said the dressing would be particularly useful for chronic wounds resulting from diabetes. Type two diabetes often leaves patients with foot ulcers and other wounds on limbs with poor circulation.

“It means diabetic wounds can be actually healed, rather than just offering palliative care,” Prof Molan said. “It could mean fewer amputations which are often necessary when these wounds won’t heal.”

Non-healing wounds were an expensive burden in the health system, and the honey dressings could save money because they would need less frequent changing.

This is good news for the University, health sector – and farmers with enough manuka to make a home for beehives.

Stands need to cover at least 50 hectares and be well clear of other plants bees might find attractive such as gorse because they can fly about 1.8 kilometres.

And it must be manuka not kanuka which produces honey with a similar taste but without the activity level which is were the value of manuka honey lies.

 

We visited a company making manuka products in March and were told the honey is analysed to determine the activity level on bacteria. The unique manuka factor – UMF – is calculated from that and the higher the activity level the better the UMF and the more valuable the honey – up to $24 a kilo.

 

 Farmers could get up to $50 from beekeepers with hives on their properties. Although like any other primary industry returns are subject to weather. Bees like warm, humid conditions and won’t fly at all if it’s under 12 degrees. And it’s not just a matter of putting hives out and collecting the honey, the bees have to be fed when there’s not enough nectar to sustain them.

 

 However, if the manuka dressings are successful, farmers may well find they can make money from what many regard as scrub.


Dairying drives building boom

August 28, 2008

Southland is benefitting from a building boom based on dairy conversions.

Southland District Council issued building consents for a total value of $12.3 million, a large increase on last July’s $7.4 million.

During July, the council approved the most consents for dwellings since records began in 2000.

There were 33 dwelling consents, an increase from 14 a year earlier. Farm buildings, additions to dwellings and cow sheds were also well up.

While driving round Southland last weekend we noticed fewer sheep, more cows and several recent conversions.

New houses are not confined to farms, the small towns which support them also had buildings in progress or recently completed showing that the money from the white-goldrush is spreading round the District.


Keeping half the promise

August 28, 2008

Another reminder this morning that Labour has kept only half the 1999 pledge card promise to take more tax and fix health.

Hard-drug addicts are lapsing into lives of crime and prostitution while waiting up to eight months to access “poorly resourced and overburdened” treatment programmes, experts say.

 

A report from the National Addiction Centre, obtained exclusively by The Press, estimates that crime by opiate addicts awaiting treatment costs the country $286 million a year.

A 12-month course of addiction treatment with methadone costs about $5000.

Addiction doesn’t just have an economic cost, it has a very high social cost for the addicts, their families and the vicitms of crimes they commit to get the money to feed their habits.

The full story is here.


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