25% yes 75% no to MMP


TV1’s phone and text poll asked: should MMP be retained?

25% voted yes and 75% voted no.

Around 16,500 people took part.

Clark & Key the winners


The winners of tonight’s leaders’ debate were John Key and Helen Clark who very sensibly declined to take part with the wee parties’ leaders.

It was difficult enough for everyone to say much with six of them, another two would have added nothing positive.

Rodney Hide was on-message, clear and realistic – he accepts that John Key doesn’t want Roger Douglas in his cabinet.

Peter Dunne fence sat as he often does, but was also quite firm on a few points – including lower taxes.

Tariana Turia knows what she believes in, I’m not sure if she knows how to get it though. I’m relieved she thinks they can get all the post-election hui over in a week so we won’t be hanging on indefinitely if the Maori Party holds the balance of power.

Every time Jeanette Fitzsimons mentions getting out of cars and on to bikes or buses I wonder how she can live in the country without realising that public transport is almost non-existant outside cities and it’s usually too far to wherever we’re going to cycle.

But she was firm about not wanting to work with Winston Peters, and the highlight was the look on his face as she said this – he looked as if he was about to throw up.

Update: Roarprawn was impressed with Tariana but says the wee parties can’t hold country to ransom.

Fairfacts Media at No Minister is underwhelmed.

The Hive gives her verdict and still thinks Peters is ill.

There was another bloke in a red tie there but he’s part of Labour so doesn’t count.

No show strategy


Audrey Young  wonders if Winston Peters’ no-shows are deliberate:

He has been a no-show for a leaders’ forum run by The Press, for Radio New Zealand’s debate on Our Place in the World and for the Sky interview Campaign 08 last week.

Perhaps he thinks that he stands a better chance of being elected if people don’t hear from him.

Poor always hit hardest


Tariana Turia has just said most Maori families are used to being poor so won’t notice much difference if the economy gets worse.

The poor may be accustomed to doing more with less but they are always hardest hit in hard times because they have less to start with and nothing to fall back on.

Are the blue and red ties a coincidence?


The TV 1 debate between the leaders of the wee parties has just started.

Peter Dunne is wearing a blue tie, Winston Peters’ tie is red with a blue stripe – is that a coincidence or are they sending a subliminal satorial message?

Update: Maybe Peters should have worn a green tie because Jeanette Fitzsimons has just said she’d find it difficult to work with him.

Se puede leer mi blog en español


Se puede leer mi blog en español –  you can read my blog in Spanish.

I made this discovery when I noticed six visitors had been referred from translate.google.com.mx/translate?hl=… and followed the link to find not just the post but the sub heading (una perspectiva rural con un tinte azul), coments and even the name of one of the commenters translated – Farmer Baby Boomer had become agricultor bebé Boomer.  

My Spanish is a bit rusty but it seems to be a thorough translation with good grammar and not just a word by word attempt which doesn’t make sense which can be a problem with electronic translations.

It’s not the first time something I’ve written has been translated into Spanish on the internet. While work avoiding one day I came across an extract from a piece I’d written for North and South in 1991 on the death of a baby on a Spanish website for bereaved parents.

People more accustomed to the possibilities of technolgy than I am may take this for granted, but I’m amazed by the way something written in one language can be so reaidily availabe to readers in another.

Can we trust this trust?


Within a very short time of Wintson Peters announcing that the Susan Couch Victims of Crime Trust had been given $80,000 by New Zealand First several blogs had the story behind the story.

Today the story entered the mainstream media and Emily Watt wrote:

A trust set up to receive half the misspent $158,000 that NZ First was ordered to repay was not registered till three months after Winston Peters announced he had donated the money to charity, documents reveal.

The Dominion Post revealed on Saturday that NZ First paid $78,000 to a charity set up in the name of Susan Couch, the sole survivor of the 2001 RSA murders.

Ms Couch has said she has no idea how much money was paid into the trust, and Mr Peters has said she had not yet received any of the money, as it remains in the trust’s bank account.

Mr Peters’ so-called “blood-brother” and lawyer Bryan Henry, his solicitor Dennis Gates, and Mr Henry’s colleague Brian Coburn have full control over how the money is spent, including the ability to pay themselves all reasonable expenses.

Mr Henry is also acting for Ms Couch, winning a landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing her to sue the Corrections Department. He has said he is working for free.

So: the trust wasn’t established until three months after Peters said the party had made the donations; Peters’ lawyer who is also Miss Couch’s lawyer is a trustee and Miss Couch hasn’t received a cent from the trust.

Can we trust this trust and can we take Peters’ word about where the rest of the money went?

Even if we can it doesn’t absolve New Zealand First from its responsibility to repay the money it owes the tax payer.

Marchers told to cover up


Marching New Zealand has told masters marchers to swap short skirts for trousers because they’re more age appropriate.

The girls from a Palmerston North masters marching team are feeling hemmed in after being told to ditch their skirts and don more “age appropriate” trousers.


“It’s sort of like, ‘Oh these old girls, we’d better cover them up!”‘ team member Frances O’Donnell, 46, said.

Glenbrae Marching Team and other masters teams were ordered by Marching NZ to wear trousers this marching season.

“Yes trousers do cover a multitude of sins, but you have to be able to see your leg action. It’s what marching is all about,” Miss O’Donnell said.

The masters grade is for those 30 years old and over, with the emphasis on fun.

I’ve never understood the attraction of this hobby but we all march to the beat of a different drum and if women choose to strut round in short skirts for fun I wouldn’t want to stand in their way.

Grow or spend


Do you want the next government to concentrate on growth or spending?

National and Labour both made anouncements on policy today which might help you decide.

National announced it will spend $8.6 billion on new infrastructure projects over the next six years.

Labour announced it will make establishing a free to air Pacific Island television  channel a priority.

One policy is costed and will promote economic growth the other is uncosted, feel good waffle.

McCain & Obama duel by dance


Democracy moves from the ballot box to the dance floor.

Dancing changed Rodney Hide’s life so maybe it could settle the election for John McCain and Barack Obama.

White gold loses lustre


Dairy prices last season were at record highs, well above the long term average so a drop isn’ t unexpected.

However, it is concerning that international prices for butter, chedder, skim and whole milk are heading back to 2006 levels.

Cicero  found these charts from agridata.co.nz which show the drops in international dairy prices:

Photobucket PhotobucketPhotobucket Photobucket

The fall in the value of the dollar will compensate for some of the fall in prices, but that’s a two edge sword because a lower dollar increases the prices of two of the biggest budget items – fuel and fertiliser.

The other concern for farmers is that while income will drop the costs of production never go down as far or as fast as product prices.

There is also a wider concern for the New Zealand economy. Dairy produce accounts for around quarter of our exports so a significant drop in returns for butter, milk and cheese has a significant impact on the national income and balance of payments.

Gore shepherd perfect woman


Perseverance paid off for Gore Shepherd Jaimee MCMeeken who claimed the Perfect Woman  title on her fourth attempt.

Ms McMeeken has entered the competition for four years in a row, last year finishing second, and was determined to keep coming back until she won the trophy.

She achieved that yesterday after two days of intense competition between 30 contestants, with Wanaka shepherd Michelle Osbourne and Wanaka office worker Alice Ferguson second and third.

. . . Now she had won, she would not be back as a competitor, Ms McMeeken said.

She had loved coming back each year and had learned being patient and not rushing was the key to success.

“Every year I’ve learned different things and how to get better and better.

“It’s not about being butch, it’s about femininity . . . Even in speaking, it’s about taking a deep breath. And I never look at what everyone else is doing,” she said.

Among the tests the contestants faced was gutting and skinning a possum.

Proceeds from the contest, held annually in Wanaka, go to the Canlive Trust which helps people with cancer.

Melamine in Chinese eggs


Excessive levels of melamine have been found in eggs from China for sale in Hong Kong.

It is thought the melamine comes from feed given to the hens.

12 more sleeps . . .


. . . until the election and the average of polls still has a National led government – just.

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