What can wee parties do?

April 24, 2009

Wee parties don’t usually win electorates.

That’s partly because they don’t stand all electorates in general elections and when they do they don’t bother to pretend they want to win, they’re after the party vote.

They’re more likely to stand in a by-election but even then it’s  because they need all the publicity they can get and they get more when the focus is on just one electorate rather than because they have a chance of winning.

They then have a choice, stand any candidate for the publicity or stand a high profile one and campaign to win.

It is still unlikely a wee party would take the seat but it can influence the outcome. If the vote is close they might take enough votes off either National or Labour to allow the other to sneak through.

That’s why Green Party co-leader Russel Norman’s decision to contest the Mount Albert by-election  is significant.

The electorate has been a safe Labour seat but the gap between Labour and National in the party vote last year was only a couple of thousand.

Norman isn’t going to win the seat, but his candidacy will make it harder for Labour to keep it.


Will she use the title?

April 24, 2009

If it hadn’t been Laws I might have bitten my tongue because while I oppose many of her policies I can’t deny Helen Clark made an impact domestically and internationally.

But I find Auckland University’s decision to award her an Honorary Doctorate of Laws baffling.

This is the woman who forged not just one, but about half a dozen, works of art over 20 years and didn’t understand that it was wrong; who turned her back on her police drivers when they sped through Canterbury on her behalf; and who flouted electoral spending rules then passed legislation to retrospectively validate it and then brought in the Electoral Finance Act in the – mistaken – belief it would let her get away with mis-spending tax payers money again.

The Herald says that  while it is permissable to use the title Dr, it is accepted practice in New Zealand to forgo the title.

Accepted practice or not, given her aversion to titular honours which she reinforced in her valedictory speech, it would seem more than a little hypoctritical to use the honorific.

For other views on the issue:

Keeping stock asks what?

Kiwiblog thinks it should be retrospective

Cactus Kate announces the end of her alumni contributions

Fairfacts Media see the irony

PM of NZ muses on ‘sign of commitment’

While Deborah at The Hand Mirror is far more gracious,  and regards it as a fitting honour


For The Fallen

April 24, 2009

Today’s contribution to poetry month was chosen with Anzac Day in mind.

The fourth verse of Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen, is usually recited at memorial services.

                    For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

– Laurence Binyon –  


Has anyone noticed . . .

April 24, 2009

. . .  that The Listener doesn’t have a poem each week?

It dropped it last year but reinstated it in response to readers’ pleas.

But there isn’t a poem in this week’s magazine and although there was one last week I don’t recall one the week before that.

If they’re not giving us a weekly poem in poetry month it doesn’t auger well for poetic offerings for the rest of the year.


Stadium injunction dismissed

April 24, 2009

The ODT reports that the High Court has dismissed Stop the Stadium’s injunction.

The paper covered yesterday’s court hearing here.

The Dunedin City Council decided on Monday, by 10 votes to 4,  to sign a guaranteed maximum price contract for the construction of the $188m Forsyth Barr Stadium.

A lot of energy has been expended on the stadium debate, it should now go to ensuring the project succeeds.


Saved by her bra

April 24, 2009

Wearing a bra may save your life .

Well, if the bullet aimed at you was deflected by the underwire  it would.


Today’s folly, tomorrow’s asset?

April 24, 2009

Did the people of North Otago protest about the money being spent on the buildings which are today valued for making Oamaru the whitestone capital of the country?

If the opposition which greeted the proposal to refurbish the town’s Opera House is anything to go by I am sure they did because one person’s vision is another’s folly and it almost always takes time before it becomes an asset.

I’m using the term asset loosely because Opera Houses don’t usually make money.  If it’s looked at on a strictly financial basis I suspect it could be regarded as a liability but money isn’t the only measure of value.

That’s not to say money isn’t important and that’s the main reason for the opposition to the stadium which is planned for Dunedin. People are concerned at not just the cost of building it but also the on-going costs it will impose on ratepayers. That debate has moved to the High Court after Stop the Stadium imposed on injunction on the project.

However, the affordability of the  project can’t be judged in isolation and I agree with the ODT editorial which said:

Alone, the stadium represents a relatively low level of risk for ratepayers and a handsome return in terms of city facilities. Its construction will provide considerable short-term benefits to the city for contractors and labour.

To deny that its existence will not enhance the city and benefit the region is simply absurd. But this project is not on its own. Both councils have several other very costly irons in the fire and their debt projections have quite pointedly illustrated the quantum of risk to the ratepayers. . .

In setting spending and debt priorities for the next 10 years or more at a time of a recession of unknown direction or depth, limited civic public works can be demonstrably beneficial but in a city the size of Dunedin – largely ignored in the Government’s plans for such a programme – these must be prioritised in terms of need, benefit, and cost to ratepayers. . .

. . . the city could defend proceeding with the stadium on this basis, because of the potential short and long-term economic benefits – particularly the association with the university – but if it chooses to do so, it must minimise the debt load on ratepayers by deferring other projects.

We can’t have everything we want and councils, like individuals, have to weigh up the costs and benefits of what they might do before choosing what they can do, knowing that saying yes to one project means no for others.

If the stadium goes ahead – and the Dunedin City Council decided on Monday that if the injunction fails it will – it will be at the cost of other projects which will have to be delayed or turned down.

But if it goes ahead it will be an asset for the city and the province, and not just for those of us here now, in much the same way that the Opera House has provided value for several generations.

If those who regarded the Opera House as a folly had prevailed it wouldn’t be here for us to enjoy today.

The foresight and work of people more than 100 years ago provided an asset for us now and the vision and work of those behind its refurbishment have ensured it will still be there providing value and being enjoyed by our children and grandchildren.


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