They’re on to us

September 15, 2008

Fairfacts Media over at No Minister has revealed the motivation behind Labour’s new-found antipathy to gangs:

AUCKLAND (NZPA): Prime Minister Helen Clark is backing Phil Goff in his bid to ban gangs.
Clark is said to be particularly worried over the threat posed by ‘BluePower’, whose ‘chapters’ are spreading across New Zealand and threaten the government.
The group, headed by John ‘the muss’ Key, is said to be strongest in rural and prosperous areas.
Its members, numbering in the tens of thousands, are said to wear regalia such as suits, shirts and sensible shoes.
The gang is said to be strongest in farming, law and accountancy, with many members reportedly ‘self-employed.’
“BluePower represents a major threat to New Zealand with their activities,” said Ms Clark today.
“Their members and supporters are growing in number and represent a great threat to our way of life and even parliament as it stands now,” she said.
Already the government has implemented measures such as the Electoral Finance Act to try and curb the growth of the gang, by preventing BluePower from getting its message across.
“We just have to take a tough stance to stop this corrupt and cancerous organisation,” Clark continued.
Indeed, ‘corrupt and cancerous’ was the description Clark gave to the former BluePower leader known simply as ‘the Don.’
But now the government fears the wider support of the youthful Key, whose more moderate message is credited in reducing people’s fears of the organisation.
Speaking from his Parnell gang headquarters, Key declined to comment on Clark, though a senior gang member Gerry ‘kicker’ Brownlee said BluePower plans to give Clark and her ‘red patch’ followers “a good beating” early in November.

The Enfield Windsor Ngapara Branch of the Picnic Table convened an emergency meeting to discuss this development.

Members agreed they would remain staunch in their boldly blue approach to clothing and are prepared to  argue wearing red band gum boots and their penchant for red wine will be a mitigating factors should any be arrested.


Nats keep more pledges than Labour

September 15, 2008

Politicians keep more promises than people think and between 1972 and 2005 National was fractionally better at keeping its word – making good on 1% more of its pledges than Labour.

This was the finding of a six year study by political science student Nathan McCluskey.

National and Labour governments between 1972 and 2005 honoured at least half of their pre-election manifesto pledges with some administrations nearly 90 percent true to their word . . .

“According to opinion polls the public consider politicians to be about as trustworthy as used care salespeople or professional wrestlers,” he said today when he released his findings.

“This causes scepticism and generates a lack of faith in the democratic nature of our politics, calling into question the efficacy of our representative electoral system.”

Mr McCluskey, a Canterbury University doctoral student, found that in most cases the major parties increased their promise keeping with each consecutive term in office.

But that didn’t help, because as they kept more of their promises their support dropped and they were voted out.

“This means, in effect, there appears to be no electoral pay-off to parties for doing what they said they would,” he said.

He put that down to people not knowing much about promises which were kept but remembering the odd occasion when an important policy wasn’t delivered, and a mood for change after a government had been in power for several years.

Bill Birch told me that in his experience in politics governments always got criticised for what they did wrong or didn’t do at all but rarely were appreciated for the things they did well. At the time I thought that sounded cynical but these findings confirm he was being realistic.


Tax cuts close to $50

September 15, 2008

National’s Finance Spokesman Bill English told Farming Show host Jamie McKay that the party’s tax cuts will be close to $50 a week.

The interview will be on line here soon.

The Herald reports on the interview here.


How many lives has this cat got?

September 15, 2008

The MSM and blogosphere have been abuzz over Winston Peter’s trip to Las Vegas last year.

There is nothing wrong with a trip to Las Vegas per se, but there were questions over whether or not he had sought the Prime Minsiter’s approval for it as the Cabinet Manual requires minister to do.

There were no answers until Ian Wishart  asked the PM’s office. He was told:

The Prime Minister didn’t know about the trip until two Fridays ago, so the short answer is no, she didn’t approve it”.

So what happens now?

Has Peters used up his nine minsiterial lives and is this the last straw which will break the back of Helen Clark’s patience?

Or do we get more dancing on the head of a pin because Peters is a minsiter outside cabinet and it’s a Cabinet Manual?

Or is not seeking permission for a detour when on official business on top of everything else not a sacking offence anyway?

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock

The issue is also covered by Roarprawn and Matthew Hooton.


Would Clark serve full fourth term?

September 15, 2008

It’s easy for those of us in the blue corner to get exctied about the polls but as Chris Trotter  points out a fourth term for Labour is still a possibility.

If that happened, would Helen Clark stay the full term as Prime Minister? Bill Ralston doesn’t think so:

On Friday on my Radio Live Drive show I asked her, if she did win an historic fourth term, would she serve the entire term of three years as Prime Minister?
There was a lot of waffling from Helen about her being physically fit and not thinking about retiring.

I pressed the PM, saying “not contemplating or thinking about retiring” was not the same as assuring voters she would stay the course in any fourth term.

She did not give a categorical answer.

It seems to me that Clark, if she wins, would not want to run the full distance through to a fifth term.

If she did win, she would probably stay as PM for eighteen months to two years and then hand over the reins to someone else so they cold get a decent run at the 2011 election campaign.

The problem here is if Helen Clark admits she will not serve a full term she runs into the same problem John Howard and Tony Blair faced.

By saying it, you become a lame duck PM and everyone starts agitating for you to move on.

If Labour loses Clark would be very unlikely to stay in parliament and this indicates that she’s likely to go if they win too.

Barbeque at Phil’s?


Country cops get own loos

September 15, 2008

The 10 new prefabricated  police stations being delivered to rural areas will enable country cops and their families to regain the privacy of their own loos.

Police magazine Ten One said traditionally police houses in some rural locations served a dual purpose – the officer’s home and the police station.

But police national property office project director Jonathan Leach said that caused many difficulties, “both for police officers and their families who have had to share their homes and bathrooms with members of the public and detainees”.

Members of the public might feel uncomfortable using the private facilities belonging to police houses, he said.

Members of the public feel uncomfortable – what about the police and their families?

It’s hard enough being a sole-charge cop policing a huge geographical area with all the responsibilities and potential dangers that involves without having the extra stress of a loo you can’t call your own.


Tributes to Duncan Laing

September 15, 2008

ODT Sports editor Brent Edwards pays tribute to Duncan Laing here.

The Sunday Star Times has tributes from Michael Donaldson and Greg Ford.

Predictably they concentrate on the man and his contribution to sport but he also made a huge contribution to the Duendin economy. Edwards recalls Laing teaching his children to swim and says:

“Come on champ, just one more try,” he would say. It could have been his catchcry. Hundreds (or is it thousands?) of Dunedin families could tell a similar story.

But it wasn’t just Dunedin families. Oamaru didn’t have a covered pool when our daughter was young so I used to take her and one of her cousins to Laing’s swimming school in the May and August holidays.

While watching at the poolside I met parents from all over Otago and futher afield doing the same thing.

It wasn’t just the money we spent on lessons, we were also paying for accommodation, food, entrance to other city attractions like the movies and museum and of course some retail therapy.

All those country children learning to swim over all those holidays over all those years must have poured a lot of money into Dunedin and we were all there because of Duncan Laing.


Trust me – they need our help

September 15, 2008

The election has been announced and Helen Clark says it will be about trust.

There are several problems with that, Keeping Stock lists some here  and another is she hasn’t trusted us with any Labour Party policy yet.

She’s obviously been too busy with other things to worry about minor details like telling us what she’ll do if we’re silly enough to let Winston Peters and her loose with the reins of government again so I think we should help her with some policy ideas.

How about electoral law which has a chilling effect on democracy?

Politics before principle?

Retrospective legislation to make stealing from the tax payer for political purposes legal?

A see no, hear no, speak no evil approach to ministerial misdeeds?

A knowledge wave that means waving goodbye to our skilled workers?

Oh, silly me, that’s what she gave us this term although none were on the pledge card we paid for.

So what will she offer to tempt the voters this time and what won’t she tell us about but intend to do?

Your ideas are welcome – and the best one will get the biggest laugh.


$owthland?

September 15, 2008

Chicane’s cartoon  is referring to the news that a reserach company has gained resource constent to build a $2.5 million piggery  at Awarua.

It will house what will be a growing herd of genetically pure, disease-free Auckland Island pigs the company, Living Cell Technologies, already has in Southland. The pigs will be used in ground-breaking diabetes treatments.

Professor Bob Elliot said there were millions of diabetics worldwide, which potentially meant the pig cell transfer industry could be a huge earner for Southland.

“You’re talking about something that will make the dairying industry look like play money,” Professor Elliot said.

Sounds like good news for health and the Southland economy.


Third parties

September 15, 2008

A comment from Ken on yesterday’s post about the CTU campaigning  correctly pointed out that if it was registered as required under the Electoral Finance Act it could spend up to $120,000.

He also provided the link to the page on the official elections website which lists all registered third parties.

There are 20 altogether. Eleven of them are unions, six are other organisations and three are individuals.


The picture of trust

September 15, 2008

One of my school friends had a theory to explain why he didn’t study for exams.

He reckoned that way if he failed he could blame it on not having studied; but if he studied and failed he might have to accept he was stupid.

Passing over the question of whether not studying proved he was stupid anyway and on to the point: I’ve adopted his approach with my appearance.

If I don’t put any effort into enhancing what nature’s given me it provides an excuse for not looking like a movie star. If I put more effort into artifical enhancement and still didn’t look like a movie star I’d have to face the sad reality that I don’t in fact look like one.

I’ve never died my hair nor had it permed because I don’t like the idea of all those chemicals, besides these procedures are expensive and I’d rather spend the money on a book.

I dress up and use a little makeup when I’m required to play ladies but have neither the time nor inclination to wear posh clothes and paint my face every day. It would look ridiculous on the farm, it’s too expensive and again I’d rather buy a book.

This doesn’t mean I’m a slob, I do my best to be clean, tidy and dress appropriately, but looking stunning isn’t one of my priorities.

I thought this was something I had in common with Helen Clark but every election campaign she proves me wrong.

How she looks shouldn’t matter and between elections it doesn’t seem to matter to her. She dresses well and appropriately for what she’s doing, has an easy care hair style and minimal approach to make up. This is a sensible approach for the busy life she leads because she’s a politician not a plastic parody of womanhood.

But then we get to the campiagn and by going with the digital enhancements she makes her appearance matter.

Couldn’t she show she’s comfortable enough in her own skin with her own style to be herself? What’s wrong with facing up to the fact that time and gravity leave their marks? Surely as a strong woman and a feminist she doesn’t have to buy in to the ad-man’s misogynistic, make-up caked, air brushed and photo shopped distortion of reality.

There’s nothing wrong with putting your best face forward but putting on a false face makes you two faced and as Adam Smith points out looking so much better than you are is not a good look when you’re campaigning on trust.


Sour milk

September 15, 2008

One baby is dead and more than 400 are ill after being fed contaminated milk powder  in China.

Fonterra has a 43% share in the Sanlu company which made the milk.

Last week, a team of doctors and investigators reportedly stormed Sanlu and the company finally ordered a full recall of the baby formula after admitting it had been contaminated with melamine, a chemical used to make plastics.

Yesterday, Fonterra said it had known about the contamination since last month and had been pushing for a recall since then.

“From the day we were advised of the product contamination issue in August, Fonterra called for a full public recall of all affected product and we have continued to push for this all along. Consumer safety has always been our number-one priority,” New Zealand-based spokesman David Glendining said in a statement.

Mr Glendining told the Herald that the push for a full recall had been made by Fonterra’s directors in China, but he would not comment on why it had not happened until last week.

How hard did they push and did they consider going public? 

Even if the Chinese media didn’t think this was newsworthy media in other countries would and the news would have got to the people who needed to know it – the parents who were unwittingly feeding their babies contaminated milk.

The first and most important issue is the health of the babies.

The second is finding out what happened, how it happened and ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.

Macdoctor  raises some pertinent questions for Fontera about this:

  • Why did they not insist the infant formula was recalled immediately, while Sanlu were trying to locate the problem?
  • Why was there such a delay once they knew what the problem was in August?
  • Why were adequate quality control measures not in place (especially given the history of phony formula production in 2004)?
  • Why did it take so long to analyze the tainted formula properly?

Fontera’s and New Zealand’s reputation for food safety depend on getting answers to these questions .

We have world class standards here and that is our strongest selling point in international markets.

If our companies are going into partnership with those from other countries they must ensure they maintain the same high standards for both health and reasons and business ones.


54 more sleeps …

September 15, 2008

. . .  until the election and Labour still hasn’t got any policy – or at least none it’s shared with us.

Remind me again, why should we trust them?


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