Southerners want change


The Southland Times took to the streets yesterday to get the general public’s views on the election.

The mood was for change and best summed up by this:

Queenstown Lakes District Council Curbing Alcohol Related Violence co-ordinator Merv Aoake said it was nice to finally have an election date.

He would be voting for financial policies that encouraged more growth.

“Then our social issues will be taken care of,” Mr Aoake said.

Simple but true.

Kiwiblogger arrested


It must be true, it says so here.

Saturday’s smile


Yes it’s an old one, and it may not even be a good one but given the election was announced yesterday it is an appropriate one: 


A man enters a bar and orders a drink and discovers the bar tender is a robot.


The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him,


“What’s your IQ?”


The man replies “150” and the robot proceeds to make conversation about quantum physics and spirituality, bio-mimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory and nanotechnology.


The customer is very impressed and thinks, “This is really cool.”


He walks out of the bar, turns around and comes back in for another drink.


Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him,


“What’s your IQ?”


The man responds, “About 100.”


Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time about league, Holdens, racing, the new BIG Mac, tattoos, Nicky Watson and women in general.


Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test.


He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks,


“What’s your IQ?”


The man replies, “Err, 50, I think.”


And the robot says……really slowly…….

“So…………… ya gonna vote for Helen and Winston again?”

ODHB $6m overbudget for overtime


Staff shrotages has led to a $6m overspend in the Otago District Health Board’s overtime budget in the past three years.

A 400% budget blowout in overtime during the past three years, from $1.5 million to $7.4 million, is directly related to vacancies at the Otago District Health Board, chief operating officer Vivian Blake says.

Figures supplied in response to a request from the Otago Daily Times showed overtime payments for nurses and medical staff were over budget by almost $6 million for the past three financial years.

“It is expensive for the district health board and not good for staff to continue to work over their normal hours.”

It’s also a viscious circle – staff shrotages mean existing staff have to work longer hours which makes recruitment and retention difficult which leads to staff shortages…

The problem isn’t peculiar to Dunedin or New Zealand, but our knowledge wave exports – that’s waving goodbye to skilled people – doesn’t help.

A memory of Duncan Laing


Duncan Laing died in Dunedin this morning.

He is best known as the coach of of double Olympic gold medal swimmer Danyon Loader, but he also taught many thousands of chidlren to swim, among whom was my daughter.

I can see him now, walking around Moana Pool, dressed in immaculately pressed walk shorts and polo shirt, earning both respect and affection from his pupils.

Duncan was a big man but also a gentle man who always emphasised water safety.

One of the first things he taught chidlren was to roll on to their backs and float. Once they’d mastered that in the learners’ pool he marched them through to the diving well to give them the confidence they’d need to do it if ever they got into deep water.

He was very patient with reluctant swimmers. One of his tricks was to give them a rope to hold on to. He’d tow them to get them started then once they were kicking under their own steam he dropped the rope without them knowing they were on their own. By the time they realised he wasn’t on the other end of the rope they realised they could float without it.

TV3 has a tribute here.

Charity with principles


A New York charity turned down a share of a $3m jackpot because it didn’t want to send the wrong message to gambling addicts.

Some New Zealand charities don’t accept the donations from casinos and the proceeds from other gambling for the same reason.

Some New Zealand charities may have accepted money from New Zealand First which ought to have gone to Parliamentary Services, but we have only got Winston Peters’ word for that.

The judge is right


A judge has refused to give a man accused of rape a video tape of his alleged victim’s interview with police.

Police fear tapes of victims discussing what happened to them which are regularly made by police, could be posted on the internet for the sexual gratification of other offenders if they fell into the wrong hands.

Police opposed the application and told the court if they were forced to release such tapes, victims could refuse to be interviewed or report a crime.

This week Wellington District Court judge Bruce Davidson refused the accused rapist’s request.

Despite the ruling, the newspaper said the future security of such tapes remained unclear.

A proposed law change to block the release of such tapes intended to be used as court evidence has been withdrawn for more work.

But the Criminal Disclosure Act 2008, which has been passed but has yet to take effect, could force the courts to release tapes not intended as evidence in court but this remains untested.

Police told the court they intended to lobby to change both laws.

I have no idea whether the judge had the legal right to make this ruling but he’s certainly ethically right to do it.

A vote for one …


The cartoon’s from The Southland Times and Chicane hasn’t got it quite right this time.

Peter’s won’t necessarily be sacked on election day because a vote for New Zealand First is a vote for Labour and a vote for Labour is a vote for New Zealand First.

If New Zealand First is in parliament and Labour needs its votes to govern then Winston Peters will be in the next government.

Truth reinforces democracy


 The ODT editorialises  about the donations debacle and Owen Glenn’s parting shot:

” . . . who do you believe and where are the real issues in governing this country of ours? Not these sort of school yard squabbles.”

It looks at who to believe then moves on to the real issues:

. . . truth in politics is reinforcing of democracy, but alone is not as significant as the accumulation of issues and policies upon which the November 8 election will be fought.

One of these will certainly be integrity, and some voters will ask themselves why not one of the issues that have emerged in this affair was first made public by Mr Peters, NZ First or Labour; rather, investigative journalism by the much-despised fourth estate performed that duty.

Mr Peters talks of conspiracies to bring him down, but was there a conspiracy to bring him up? In other words, did Labour’s leaders think it would be in their political interest to ensure his path to power-sharing, at a time of coalition negotiation, was made as smooth as possible, and did they act accordingly?

The emphasis in this paragraph is mine because this isn’t just about New Zealand First, there are also many unanswered questions about Labour.

Mr Glenn’s final phrase, in which he referred to “school yard squabbles”, is on the mark in the broader context of what really is important when the confidence of the voting public is sought.

Such “squabbles” feed scepticism about governance in voters’ minds.

The likely outcome is that everyone seeking representative office is blackened by association, and the participation of citizens in politics is greatly weakened.

The lifeblood of politics is not the favours solicited from a parade of sugar daddies, individual and collective, looking to buy influence or reward from those who would conceal or stretch the truth in pursuit of power.

It is not cash, easy to acquire.

It is that commodity beyond price, honesty.

Mr Peters has failed that test, and most regrettably for the future of this nation, he has not been alone.

And that’s the point, this isn’t just about a man who has failed to live up to the values he espoused. He’s tarnished our international reputation which has been based on a lack of corruption. He’s also tarnished all politicians by association and given evidence to the cynics who think no politician can be trusted.

Until and unless the questions over exactly who from Labour was involved, and how, are answered it will be difficult to rebuild that trust.

Rich prepares for toughest speech


It’s easy to forget that MPs are people and there is a human side to politics.  

I enjoyed this reminder that there is a personal and more gentle side to a very tough job:

National Party list MP Katherine Rich is preparing to deliver the most difficult speech she has had give in Parliament.

Her valedictory speech will be heard on September 24 and, after nine years as a Dunedin-based list MP, she had some mixed feelings, Mrs Rich said in an interview this week.

“I am leaving at an exciting time, so I have mixed feelings. It has been a difficult speech to write, because so many of the years have merged.”

When she first became an MP, husband Andrew told her not to read her press clippings, good or bad.

But yesterday, she was busy cleaning out her office and taking a look at some of the things people had written about her in the past.

That was proving to be an “interesting experience”, when she reflected on her political career.

Some of the correspondence she had received seemed funny now, but not at the time.

Former Clutha MP Sir Robin Gray had provided Mrs Rich with some sound advice when she was first elected, she said.

He wrote that an MP only had two occasions in which they could say exactly what they wanted – their maiden and valedictory speeches.

Katherine may not have always been able to say what she wanted, but she has always been true to what she believes.

Personalities vs policies


Dene Mackenzie writes that personalities will overshadow policies in the election campaign.

University of Otago political scientist Chris Rudd fears policies will be sidelined during the election.

Miss Clark’s opponents would try to portray her as a “weak leader”, who should have sacked New Zealand First leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters a long time ago, he said.

There was likely to be a return to the scandals that had haunted Miss Clark, such as Paintergate, Speedgate and Doonegate.

The “Petersgate” saga was the pinnacle of those incidents.

National would urge electors to vote for a change, but for the negative reason of a vote against the Government.

“John Key needs to focus on the fresh start and the new faces representing the X generation – whoever they are,” Dr Rudd said.

“Already, he has been reaching out to young voters and women. He needs to push the message that voters ‘can rely on me’ and that he can lead.”

Miss Clark was likely to focus on National’s “secret agendas” and that Mr Key was inexperienced in politics, Dr Rudd said.

You don’t have to be a political scientist to work that out.

Miss Clark yesterday declared the election would be about trust.

“It is about which leader and which major party we New Zealanders trust our families’ and our country’s future with.

“This election is a choice between a government which has shown it can make the tough choices and an opposition which flip-flops on almost every major issue which emerges.”

Oh the irony – coming from someone who can’t be trusted to make the easy choice to sack a minister who can’t be trusted either.

Mr Key said the election was the chance for voters to choose a brighter future for New Zealanders.

“The election is about New Zealanders having the opportunity to choose a government that is focused on what matters to them.

“It is about being able to turn a fresh page and put all the political distractions and intrigue of the past three years behind us.”

Not just a fresh page, we need to write a whole new book about a happier, healthier, better educated, more prosperous, more secure country.

When announcing the election date, Miss Clark took a swipe at Mr Key, saying he could not be trusted with the future of New Zealand.

“New Zealanders have everything to lose from electing a party which won’t tell the truth about its policies and wants to put the clock back. National’s evasiveness, flip-flops and secret agendas show that it can’t be trusted.” 

It’s she who has turned the clock back to last century, its problems and the solutions which didn’t work then and won’t work now.

Mr Key showed yesterday that he might be prepared to focus on policies, when he said National intended running a positive, forward-looking campaign that focused on issues facing New Zealanders and their families.

“I challenge the Prime Minister to do the same.”

Please keep with that, John. Mud sticks to the hand that throws it so leave the others to play in their own dirt.

Campaign Casserole


The Enfield, Windsor, Ngapara Branch of the Picnic Table has come across an old book full of recipes collected from well known people.

We can’t read the name of the person who submitted this one, but it came from parliament and we think we can guess who sent it:

Campaign Casserole

Take a large pot and chuck in any old election bribes you have in the pantry and season them well with empty promises.

Add false hopes, vague ideals and high expectations.

Stir in equal quantities of paranoia, xenophobia and delusion.

Spice with a dash of scandal and anti-media rhetoric to taste.

Bring to the boil over the flame of naked ambition and simmer with rightous anger for as long as it takes.

56 more sleeps …


… until election day when we can celebrate that we live in a democrary and that whatever the outcome it will be accepted as the will of the people and the sun will still rise in the east.

Poneke explains it here.

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