Blokes rule rugby roost

05/09/2008

Oh dear, someone should take these blokes back to the 19th century where they belong:

The Canterbury Rugby Union is sticking to its guns after being dubbed “chauvinistic dictators” for barring a top women’s rugby team from playing at a premier ground.

While top men’s sides continue to play at Rugby Park”, the Canterbury women’s team has been relegated to grass-roots venues.

Rain, hail or shine, the Canterbury women’s rugby team keeps on training to retain their spot at the top of the women’s NPC.

This weekend they battle old foes Otago, but instead of hosting them at Rugby Park with its grandstand and strong rugby history, they have been relegated to the more modest fields of QEII’s Ascot Green.

“Basically, our home venue of Rugby Park was removed from us, and we were just not very happy with the way it was dealt with,” says centre Stacey Lene.

The team was told late last week it could not play at the park, because the grounds needed to be rested, only to find out the Canterbury Colts played a friendly match there that same day.

Then they found out all their games had been moved from Rugby Park, while the Canterbury men’s A and B squads and Colts would continue to play there.

“We thought we were possibly higher up the ranking, and we weren’t,” says captain Melissa Ruscoe.

In a letter to The Press, Lene challenged the CRU “to explain its arrogant, insulting behaviour to a team of talented women who sacrifice their time and energy, only to be oppressed by an ignorant, patriarchal minority”.

But the union denies it is favouring the blokes.

“It’s not about being more important,” says Hamish Riach of the CRU, “and as I say it’s not actually a story about the women, it’s about trying to manage Rugby Park.”

Riach says other teams have also been bumped from the park.

Yes but have other top teams been bumped from the park?


There is no excuse

05/09/2008

Animal welfare should be the first  priority of all livestock farmers. Unfortunately there are always some people devoid of intelligence and feeling who don’t maintain the high standards which ought to be the norm.

The story of a farmer who is charged with cruelty after allegedly impaling a cow on the forks of a tractor appalled me.

If the facts are as reported I can think of nothing which would excuse this behaviour. You can read about it  here – but be warned it is sickening.


State funding on electoral review agenda

05/09/2008

Labour and it’s allies are determined to introduce state funding of political parties.

Among the terms of reference for the expert panel  to review electoral administration and political party funding are:

The review will examine the current system of election funding and the question of introducing a system of state funding of political parties in New Zealand, including:

  • a review of international funding models;
  • issues with the current system of funding elections and political parties;
  • how any recommended changes to funding would impact on other Parliamentary funding;
  • what level, if any, of state funding of political parties is appropriate;
  • how any such funding should be allocated between political parties;
  • what constraints, if any, there should be regarding what such funding for political parties could be spent on;
  • whether such political party funding should incorporate, or be additional to funding for election programmes set out in Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act;
  • the relationship between state funding levels and rules regarding private funding of political parties.

Annette King announced the panel members today. They are: Otago University associate law professor Andrew Geddis who will be chair; Professor Stephen Levine, head of Wellington University School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International relations; and Dr Jean Drage from Canterbury Unviersity’s poltical science department.

Ms King said that during the first stage of the review, the Panel will review the administration of the electoral system, including the structure of the electoral agencies.

“The second stage includes the establishment of a Citizens’ Forum to ensure public participation in the review process. This group will include citizens selected from each electorate in New Zealand. They will be tasked with examining the funding of elections and political parties.

“The Expert Panel will assist during the Citizens’ Forum learning phase, and will prepare background information on the issues the forum will consider. The work of the Citizens’ Forum and its report will inform the Expert Panel’s final recommendations to the Minister of Justice.”

Ms King said the Expert Panel and Citizens’ Forum will provide an independent, non-political perspective on the reform options. “The independent nature of the process should give the public confidence in the outcome. The two stages of the Review, including the Panel’s work and the public participation process, will be completed by the end of October 2009.”

I don’t know the panel members and make no comment on their abilities, but yet again Labour has failed to consult other parties about the appointments. Yet again they are taking a party partisan apporach to a constitutional matter which ought to have cross-party support.

And while it may have escaped Labour’s notice there is an election in less than two months which might bring a change of government.


MIAG resolutions soundly defeated

05/09/2008

Alliance Group shareholders have voted overwhelmingly against the Meat Industry Action Group’s resolution to force directors to work towards a merger with Silver Fern Farms.

Company secretary Michael Horn said the vote at today’s special general meeting was 27 million against the resolutions and 2 million in favour, in round numbers.

Mr Horn said there were about 350 people at the meeting and the company had also received a large number of proxies.

“It’s the biggest vote I’ve seen since I’ve been with the company and that’s about 30 years,” he said.

Alliance chair Owen Poole said he was pleased the result was comprehensive and that the shareholders’ decision put the issue of a merge to rest.

Earlier this week Mark Crawford and Jason Miller who were founding members of MIAG and are now directors of Alliance spoke out against the resolutions.

MIAG gathered votes and proxies from 5% of shareholders to force both Alliance and SFF to hold SGMs but the views of SFF shareholders on this issue are now irrelevant.

SFF shareholders are in the process of voting on the proposal for PGG Wrightson to take a 50% stake in their company. The company has around 21,000 shareholders abut only about a fifth of them have rebate shares which enable them to vote and most of these are in the South Island.

The proposal requires 75% support if it is to succeed and voting finishes on Monday.


Dead horse strategies

05/09/2008

 A high country stockman knows that when you discover you are riding a dead horse the best strategy is to dismount.

In the New Zealand parliament however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies is often employed, such as:

 

  1. Change riders.                       
  2. Buy a stronger whip.
  3. Do nothing because there is nothing wrong with dead horses and this is the way we have always ridden them.
  4. Visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses.
  5. Perform a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
  6. Hire a contractor to ride the dead horse.
  7. Harness several dead horses together in an attempt to increase speed.
  8. Provide additional funding and or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
  9. Appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is.
  10. Re-classify the dead horse as living impaired.
  11. Develop a strategic plan for the management of dead horses.
  12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all dead horses 
  13. Modify existing standards to include dead horses 
  14. Declare that as a dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower over heads and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than many other horses.
  15. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory or management position.
  16. Declare the horse isn’t dead, but if it was it would be because it was being ridden by amateurs.
  17. Hire an expensive lawyer to prove the horse isn’t dead.
  18. Take all responsibilities away from the dead horse but leave it in its stable and continue to feed it. 

 


If leaders were cars…

05/09/2008

If the leaders of our politcial parties were cars which would they be?

The Dog & Lemon Guide came up with these suggestions for Decision 08:

The ‘Helen Clark’ – Designed for the disciplined and focused driver, the Helen Clark is not for the faint-hearted. Sensibly styled, available only in khaki with red leather Trelise Cooper-designed upholstery, the Helen Clark is at its best in difficult terrain, where it demonstrates impressive torque.  It scales mountains and crevasses with ease, but on the roads around Wellington it is liable to run over smaller cars in its path.
 
The on-board Heather Simpson processor constantly samples the political road, so hazards are averted and constant adjustments made so that the most optimal route is selected. The Helen Clark doesn’t just have a security system – it comes bundled with its own police force.
 
Very high energy, with plenty of power, it’s economical to run and the tank only needs topping up from time to time with a respectable New Zealand chardonnay.
 
Inept political passengers should avoid this car; they may find themselves automatically ejected without warning.
 
 
The ‘John Key’ – a flashy, sports model that was left over from an era of cheap oil and empty roads. Has loads of horsepower, but tends to overheat internally if subjected to frustrating delays.
 
Aside from power, the John Key’s biggest selling point is a flashy front grill and comfortable seats for corporate passengers.
 
The John Key is a hard car to review because the manufacturers won’t issue hard data about this vehicle or its intended direction. Initial reports suggest that the John Key’s steering is extremely vague and may swing to the far fight without warning. Unsuitable for beneficiaries.
 
 
The ‘Winston Peters’ – Once state of the art, now something of a relic with a doubtful future. Needs polishing several times a day, costs a fortune to maintain, comes with 15 different internal mirrors, baulks at any surface tougher than showroom carpet and has impossible handling characteristics.  Fuel gauge and other indicators give highly unreliable feedback information.
 
Currently subject to a factory recall due to wheels falling off.
 
 
The ‘Rodney Hide’ – An overweight relic of the 1980s. Produced by the same company that built the Police Chief Wiggum, the Rodney Hide is very thirsty; needs constant refills from corporate coffers and drives best when the road slopes heavily to the right. Due to the high maintenance costs and low residual value, the Rodney Hide needs a sympathetic owner.

 

 
The ‘Jeanette Fitzsimons’ – Petite and fuel-efficient, the Jeanette Fitzsimons is available only in green.
 
In place of a rear seat the Jeanette Fitzsimons has a composting toilet and organic hothouse. Has a 1970s confrontation-avoidance system that tries to negotiate with other cars for the best possible outcome. The Jeanette Fitzsimons works best on country roads where there’s space for all vehicles; less successful on the streets of Wellington. Has been frequently run over by the Helen Clark. Currently lacks mass appeal.
 
The Pita Sharples – Designed to carry the entire whanau, the Pita Sharples emphasises cheerful practicality and go-with-the-flow styling.

Although comfortable– especially for the front occupants – the Pita Sharples lacks modern navigation systems and occupants often appear to have little idea – or concern – about the ultimate destination of the vehicle; they’re just enjoying the journey.

Despite being a proven design, the vehicle’s steering is vague and is inclined to veer from left to right, depending on who’s driving at the time.

The ultimate success of this vehicle will depend on who it shares the road with after the election.


Glenn’s biggest donation

05/09/2008

Owen Glenn had been a generous donor to Labour and his philanthropy to more deserving New Zealand causes was recognised with a New Year honour.

However, since then and in spite of asking him for more money Labour’s treatment of Glenn has been less than courteous.

Helen Clark gave him the cold shoulder  in February; she accepted Peters’ word rather than Glenn’s when their evidence conflicted; and Peters’ lawyer Peter Williams has raised questions about Glenn’s memory.

Glenn is flying across the world to give his evidence to the privileges next week. As Cactus Kate  puts is to eloquently:

Looks like Owen “The Destroyer” Glenn is so peeved now about being deemed a liar and an idiot by Dear Leader and Winnie that he is coming back Tuesday to appear at the Committee. He is alleged to be heading downunder anyway next month to his home in Sydney for summer after a quick jaunt over to Fiji for some more charity work.Next Tuesday will be his largest donation to New Zealand by far. Generosity above and beyond the call.


September

05/09/2008

Our British and European cultural heritage means a lot of the literature we read has the seasons back to front.

 

But this Friday’s poem is about a southern hemisphere spring  and I found an strong connection to it because of that. 

 

September is from Ruth Dallas’s Collected Poems, published by University of Otago Press.

 

September

 

Under thin

Boughs in

   September,

Paler than

Sunlight

  Soft as

  The grass,

    Cluster

The Daffodils,

Eager as love,

     As ice-

     delicate.

                  Young.

 

– Ruth Dalls –


Did any charities get the money?

05/09/2008

I asked yesterday if the various investigations into New Zealand First would uncover which, if any, charities the party donated $158,000 to in the mistaken belief this absolved itself of its debt to tax payers.

Matthew Hooton makes the point more forcefully:

Does anyone – anyone at all? – believe that the mystery $80,000, and other New Zealand First funds to make up the $158,000 it stole from the taxpayer for its 2005 election campaign, really was paid to charity as Peters claims?  (Of course, it makes no difference whether or not it was in terms of the moral debt owing to taxpayers.  New Zealand First still owes us that $158,000, but anyway …. ) 

The truth is that the Dominion-Post reported in August that it had approached nearly 50 prominent charities and not a single one had even been contacted by New Zealand First, let alone received money from them.    

It is difficult to think of anything – anthing at all – that Winston Peters has said this year on this and related matters that has been the truth.

Who is willing to put their hand up and say they believe his party really did pay the $158,000 to charity?

And this is why honesty – total honesty – is so important. If you can’t trust people about some of the things they say you can’t trust anything they say.


Armed forces are …

05/09/2008

What else can you say when our navy, airforce and army would respectively find it difficult to sail, fly and fight?


And you think we’ve got transport problems

05/09/2008

Rush hour here means I’ve got the time or route of my walk wrong and meet the cows going back to the paddock after morning milking.

When I went back to university five years ago I did experince Dunedin rush 15 minutes a couple of times and I have had the misfortune to find myself stop-starting my way around Auckland at the wrong time.

I also got a taste of the frustrations city communters experience when I lived in London but fortuantely have never come across anything like this:

Furious rail commuters in Argentina set fire to a train on Thursday in anger over delays during the morning rush hour.

Television images showed black smoke and flames engulfing the train at the station of Merlo, in the western suburbs of the capital, Buenos Aires. At nearby Castelar, passengers hurled stones at the ticket office and blocked the rails.

“We understand that people get angry when the service is delayed or cancelled, but they absolutely can’t attack a public service in this way,” Gustavo Gago, a spokesman for rail company TBA, told local television.

And Sr Gago gets the prize for stating the obvious.


Policy root of DHB problem

05/09/2008

The Otago District Health Board faces cost cutting because of a budgeted deficit of $7.3 million.

At the root of this problem is the wrong assumption that Otago was over-funded.

Population-based funding is good in theory and may even work in practice when adjustments are made for factors such as age and rurality providing it is based on realistic budgets.

But when it was introduced the Minsitry of Health started by saying Otago was over funded and required it to reduce costs. Instead of working out how to bring other areas up to Otago’s standards, the bureaucrats told Otago it had to get down to the lower cost per person ratio in other areas and the board has been trying to do more with less ever since.

Over funding was simply a bureaucratic judgement based on a wrong assumption. The deficit Otago is now facing and services like the Otago Community Hopsice and Plunket complaining they haven’t got enough money to provide their services are evidence of that.


But they still owe us

05/09/2008

Some of the money donated  to New Zealand First went to pay back the $158,000 the party mis-spent at the last election.

The mysterious big-money donation that spurred Winston Peters’ infamous “no” press conference was $80,000 and went towards helping to put right New Zealand First’s wrongful spending at the last election.

But exactly whose $80,000 it is remains hidden behind the Spencer Trust – the entity already exposed as host to donations from Sir Robert Jones and the Vela brothers.

The money was paid to NZ First last December and the Herald understands it went towards the $158,000 the party should have refunded to the taxpayer after the Auditor-General found it had wrongfully spent. NZ First gave the sum to charity instead.

The donation is now likely to be investigated by police as NZ First breached the law by not declaring it to the Electoral Commission as required with all donations over $10,000.

Oh the irony – the donation which is started all the trouble, was meant to pay back money which should not have been spent in the first place, and still hasn’t gone back to parliamentary services so the party is still in debt to the tax payer.

And of course until the party does settle its debt to us, every cent it spends on campaigning is our cent, and tells us that New Zealand First thinks getting re-elected is more imortant than repaying the tax payers’ money it should not have spent in the first place.


Females fail carbon test

05/09/2008

Why women take the carbon credit is the heading on Jim Hopkins’  column. As always it’s worth reading in full and I was particularly tickled by this bit:

Ironic then that just as our politicians are wrestling with the sinful issue of emissions, new evidence should emerge from the Czech Republic which shows, on an individualised, gender-specific, preferential activities basis, that women may be making a disproportionate contribution to climate change.

Its impossible here to report all the findings – which have, of course, been suppressed by the mainstream media – but let’s consider a few salient snippets.

The fact that European women do 72.4 per cent of the cooking and 78.63 per cent of the washing up afterwards probably demonstrates traditional roles but the carbon consequences are nevertheless noteworthy.

As is vehicle use. What the Czechs show is that a combination of extended life expectancy and tasks like taking children to school or visiting the supermarket mean women are responsible for 61.077 per cent of all emission-intensive, stop-start, round-town travel miles recorded.

But it’s discretionary areas like grooming and hygiene where the carbon gap becomes genuinely worrisome. Apparently, the average European woman showers an alarming 2.795 times more frequently than her male equivalent. She also remains in the shower 4.21 minutes longer with the water at a higher temperature.

It’s estimated that such habits results in the annual burning of 41.6 million tonnes of fossil fuels that would otherwise not be needed. Then there’s the “garment gap,” which is massive. It turns out, for every garment the average Herr has in his wardrobe, there’s a equivalent 5.19 in hers.

And if the eco-impact of this is palpable, the consequences of the multibillion-dollar cosmetics industry are even greater. It’s estimated (in Europe) that a breath-taking 79.3 per cent of all unguents, creams, lotions, sprays, defoliants, hair lip and eye enhancers are purchased by women.

It’s the enviro-adversity of manufacturing those items – including waste (an estimated 356 million tonnes of discarded packaging per annum) – which should be agitating our legislators.

Especially since the cumulative effect of these and other inputs means the AAFWFCF (Average Aggregated First World Female Carbon Footprint) is either 1.7 or 1.9 times greater than its male equivalent, depending on variations in computer modelling.

If this Czech research can be corroborated, then any feminist worth his salt should be very alarmed. And every parliamentary feminist should be focusing more on changing female behaviour than this daft and costly business of trading emissions.

It would be ironic indeed to find some future historian concluding that we missed our best chance to “Save the planet” by failing to insist that women behave less like themselves and more like unwashed and smelly, ill-clothed and grubby old blokes!!!


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