National A, Labour C+


Michelle Williams has begun a series to see how web-savvy  our political parties are.

She’s given National an A and Labour a C+.

More teeth less politics


The privileges committee is often described as powerful, but that’s a misnomer.

It’s tabling its report on Winston Peters and the donations debacle tonight and it is expected to be divided along party lines.

That’s not surprising but it is wrong.

If serious questions about the conduct of MPs are settled not on the facts but by party politics then they aren’t settled at all; and a committee that can’t settle serious questions isn’t powerful.

If the privileges committee as it is set up now can’t be apolitical then parliament needs to investigate and implement an alternative that can.

The committee needs to be powerful, but until is has more teeth and less politics it can’t be.

Too dark for larks


A letter to the editor of The Press from S.E. Hatcher of Shirley:

I love mornings. At this time of the year I especially enjoy morning time, as the weather warms and the mornings are light and bright.

But mean old daylight savings is about to come and disrupt the mornings for us morning lovers. We will wake up to find that we have lost a chunk of the morning. It will have been cut and pasted onto the evening, to benefit evening lvoers alone.

Very soon, when our morning-loving eyes ping open at the usual 5am, we will be dismayed to find that it is 6am, and the best part of our day has been stolen away.

Let us join forces and put a stop to this pilfering. We want mornings!

I don’t share the letter writer’s enthusiasm for 5am awakenings, but I do agree that the last Sunday in September, just days after the spring equinox, is far too early to put the clocks forward.

It makes the mornings too dark for larks and the evenings aren’t warm enough down here for the owls to enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the evening.

Keep daylight saving if you must, but delay the start until the end of October and bring the finish back to the start of March so those of us who have to get up early don’t have to do it in the dark.

Please Miss


Should a teacher lose her job for moonlighting as a prostitute?

Teachers and their advocates are constantly complaining about teachers’ workloads. The school board could use this to justify concerns that the teacher’s extra-curricular activities would compromise her ability to do her day job properly. But:

The woman reportedly told the principal that her action in her own time was not his concern, and that it was not affecting her ability as a teacher.

Teachers Council director Peter Lind said the most important factor was whether the teacher’s second job was affecting her teaching duties, “and there would have to be actual evidence”.

That’s not easy because there are a whole lot of things which might impinge on a teachers’ performance in the classroom which would not be sackable offences, the demands of looking after young children or elderly relatives, for example.

But prostitution is a wee bit different from these altruisitc activities and that might create difficulties.

It’s a primary school so the board doesn’t need to concern itself over the possibility of pupils hiring the teacher to help them with their homework. But it might worry about problems which could arise if pupils’ fathers – or mothers – were clients.

It might also have concerns about how the teacher’s side-line activities impact on the school’s reputation and that of the teaching profession:

Employment lawyer John Hannan, who knew of the case, said a school could possibly take action even if it didn’t have a policy either preventing teachers taking secondary jobs or ensuring they first seek approval from their board. “It’s a case of whether the outside employment is regarded as incompatible with the role of a teacher in terms of role-modelling and in terms of any policies that the board of trustees might have in place.”

Another employment lawyer, Patrick Walsh, said the council could intervene if the school deemed the teacher’s second job involved “conduct that brings discredit to the profession”.

There is a glimmer of hope then, that the board might be within its rights to tell her she can’t do both jobs. And if it’s not then what does that say about our society?

I don’t know why she needs the extra money and what happens to her two children while she’s earning it. But if she thinks she’s doing it for them she’s got her priorities wrong.

And whatever employment law states, I wouldn’t want my children taught by a prostitute because making something legal doesn’t make it right.

Who will give valedictory speeches?


The NBR predicts there will be tears and fireworks in parliament this week.

It also mentions the valedictory speeches.

Whether or not David Benson-Pope delivers one will confirm if he’s retiring or planning to stand for the Dunedin South seat as an independent, or for a party other than Labour.

New TV shows wanted


From a letter to the editor of the ODT from Pam McMillan of Seadown:

. . . Using a bit of lateral thinking, and in the wake of the Glenn, Labour, NZ FIrst and WInston Peters saga, how about a new TV series to raise funds?

Here are two examples of what we could have: Hell’s Kitchen: The Labour Party’s Recipes hosted by Helen Clark and Mike WIliams, or WHo wants to be a Millionaire, hosted by Winston Peters.

I am sure they would make terrific prime time viewing – a Smoke and Mirrors Production proudly supported by NZ on Air.            

If those go well they could also try:

Hidden Agenda – what Labour doesn’t want us to know.

Dig This – get down and dirty with Labour strategists, and the sequel Slime Watch. 

Cullen Cooks the Books brought to us by Tax N Splurge Productions.

Now it’s your turn: what other shows might sell? Usual competition rules apply – no prizes, just the personal satisfaction from exercising your imagination and sharing some smiles.

Dairying could save south?


The dairy boom should insulate the south from the worst of the fallout from the international credit crisis.

. . . top economists at Westpac and the BNZ said they expected Southland’s rural-based economy would be relatively sheltered from the storm, which has been widely predicted to have a knock-on effect on every saver, pensioner, investor and home owner in New Zealand.

But dairying and those downstream who benefit from it won’t be immune.

Fonterra will announce the final payout for last season on Wednesday and will give an indication of what this season’s will be.

There had been an expectation that we might get more than the $7.90 a kilo we’re getting at the moment. But the international price is dropping and the poisoned milk scandal in China will also have an impact.

One thing is sure, if as some are predicting this season’s payout drops as low as $5.50 a kilo the costs that have shot up with the increased pay out will not come down as far or as fast.

47 sleeps to go . . .


. . . until the election and at least one voter  thinks John Key has a winning smile.

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