Rural addresses don’t fit in boxes

September 2, 2008

Mutter mumble.

I’ve just filled in an on-line form and for the umpteenth time have come across boxes which are designed for urban addresses not rural ones.

Our address used to just have an R.D. number and town; then we added a farm name; then came post codes and now NZ Post wants our RAPID number as well.

(R.D. stands for Rural Delivery, and isn’t a strange abbreviation for road as some people to whom I give my address think.

RAPID  stands for rural address property identification and that number may not be the same as that for the mail box because your number relates to the location of the drive to your hosue which isn’t necessarily where the mail box is.)

Anyway, none of the address details I need to give, except the post card, fits in to the street, suburb, city address boxes most forms have.

It probably doesn’t matter to the people who process the information but it’s an unpleasant, albeit petty, reminder that rural people are a minority and those in official places don’t realise their one-size fits all boxes don’t fit us.

Rotary turns Peters down

September 2, 2008

The Rotary club of Dunedin  has withdrawn a speaking invitation to Winston Peters but the Otago Chamber of Commerce will still welcome him.

Mr Peters stood aside from his role as Foreign Affairs Minister on Friday after the Serious Fraud Office began an investigation regarding donations to his party.

Rotary club committee director Chris Willis said last night Mr Peters was to have spoken in his capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister on New Zealand’s place in the world.

Because he had stepped aside, and because the September 19 date was getting closer, it was decided to withdraw the invitation, Mr Willis said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said Mr Peters was still expected to speak – in his role as the leader of a political party – at a business function on the same date.

“That hasn’t changed yet. It should be an interesting meeting,” Mr Christie said.

Interesting is such an interesting adjective.

Tui truths

September 2, 2008

Tui truth n: an  assertion to which the immediate response is, “yeah right” for example:

* The dog ate my homework

* The cheque is in the mail

* We did it to comply with the EFA

* Failing to declare a $50,000 donation was a “genuine mistake“.

McDonalds standard for health

September 2, 2008

Macdoctor starts by noting the international reaction to how we do things in our health system, including not funding 12 month courses of herceptin, is “are you crazy”.

He concludes with:

You may notice from the above list that the only thing our hospitals excel at is quality assurance. I point out that one of the finest quality assurance programs in the world is run by Macdonalds. They make sure that the quality of their burgers is the same the world over. Universally horrible.

At least our excellent QA systems help us to ensure that the quality of our health system is consistently crap. International standards indeed.

The bits in between make interesting reading too, you’ll find it all here.

[Update: Macdoctor left a comment clarifying, for anyone who doesn’t follow the link and read his whole post, that: ” the first sentence of the quote is made in the context of international standards. I am not suggesting that hospitals do not practice good medicine, given our under-resourced system!”

New passport – why not smaller?

September 2, 2008

A new design for New Zealand passports features a silver fern on a black background.

It also has a map of New Zealand and the coat of arms although the latter is smaller than the one in the current passport.

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said the current design was very similar to other countries’ passports, but the new design was instantly recognisable as being from New Zealand.

“I’m pleased to see we have a passport that’s strikingly New Zealand, is unmistakable and if ever left in a pool of all the other passports in the world, you would pick it instantly.”

The new passport will also have 50 separate security features, making it one of the most technologically advanced in the world.

I don’t have a problem with the new design, but wonder if it’s possible to make passports smaller.

When we travel I keep my passport in a money belt around my waist which is fine when I’m standing but when I sit down it gets in the way and buckles. That wouldn’t happen if it was smaller.

It would be better still if all the information needed in a passport could be contained in something the size of a credit card.

One minister wasn’t sacked

September 2, 2008

One name is notably absent from the list of errant Ministers who were stood down, sacked or resigned from Helen Clark’s cabinet.

This person was not just accused of doing something unethical, and possibly illegal, but admitted doing it several times over a couple of decades.

This person’s misdeeds were the subject of a police investigation and they found sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case; but decided prosecution wouldn’t be in the public interest.

Who was it? Helen Clark who was Minister of Arts when the discovery that she had commissioned a painting and signed it for a charity auction was made.

The ensuing publicity uncovered several more and she eventually admitted to signing about half a dozen works of art over 20 years although she hadn’t produced them.

I think the police were correct not to prosecute and I don’t think she should have stood down as Prime Minister, but I do think she should have relinquished the Arts portfolio.

If someone signs a bottle of wine or an article of clothing no one is going to think he or she produced it because the labels will clearly show who did. But the signature on a work of art is the label, it’s part of its provenance and says to the world it’s the work of the signatory. A Minister of Arts ought to understand that.

I wrote about that here  and am not going to repeat that post now. But I think that episode is relevant to recent events because it showed she expects a higher standard of behaviour of her ministers – including Winston Peters – than of herself; and because she didn’t appear to accept it was wrong because she never actually said she was sorry.

She didn’t say sorry yesterday either after her grudging admission she had no option but to accept the SFO’s word that no-one leaked information to John Key. But as Keeping Stock  points out, she’s not good at saying sorry.

It was the EFA – again?

September 2, 2008

There’s nothing suspicious in the removal of Labour Party signange from David Benson-Pope’s electorate office – at least that’s his story.

Labour Party signs have been removed from the front of the Dunedin South electorate office to comply with the Electoral Finance Act, Dunedin South MP David Benson-Pope says.

Mr Benson-Pope was contacted yesterday after confusion from the public over the removal of the signs from the King Edward St office, which he shares with Labour MP for Te Tai Tonga, Mahara Okeroa.

“It is nothing anyone should let their imagination work overtime about,” he said.

The removal of party signage from electorate offices was “standard right across the country”, he said.

But the EFA is not supposed to interfere with the work of MPs. Not being able to let your constituents know where your office is would definitely resrtict your effectiveness.

And EFA restrictions on advertising took effect from January 1 so why wait until now to get rid of all the signage?

The Electoral Commission has still to decide whether logos are election advertsiements, and unlike Helen Clark who has a low opinion of the integrity of public servants, I don’t think the commission would leak its ruling to Labour before making it public.

So what’s going on?

Benson-Pope’s explanation sounds like a Tui-truth to me and only lends more credibility to the rumours he’s going to stand for Dunedin South – whether it’s as an independent or for another party, perhaps even New Zealand First as my earlier post suggested remains to be seen.

He could of course stop the speculation by clearly stating he’s not going to be seeking a seat. But it seems he’s been learning from the Winston Peters school of communication which prevents him from giving a straight answer to a simple question.

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