Where’s he been?

August 4, 2009

David left a query on an old post of John Grenell singing I’ve Been Everywhere  asking where he’s been:

In the recording, there is a town (sounds like it starts with a ‘B’) at the beginning of the 3rd line of the 1st town verse … just before Rimutaka.

All of the NZ lyrics versions of this I can find online omit the town … but without it there’s not enough syllables in the line … and JG clearly sings a town before Rimutaka in the recording.

Anybody know what it is?

These lyrics omit the town David refers to, too. I’ve listened to this recording  five times and agree there’s a town between Horoeka and Rimutaka which sounds a bit like Niwaka but I can’t pick it up.

Can anyone with better ears, or knowledge of the song, help?


Shame

August 4, 2009

Former MP and Minister outside cabinet Phillip Field has been found guilty  of 26 charges.

Field, former MP for Mangere, was found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP after the Crown said he had Thai nationals carry out work on his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice. The charges related to his evidence to an inquiry into the work on his homes.

Crown Prosecutor Simon Moore is correct when he says:

“This has been a really important case, and bribery and corruption strikes very much at the heart of who we are as a people.”

The case is a nasty blot on our democratic fabric not just because Field is the first person found guilty of corruption as an MP but because of the way then Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Labour colleagues sought to protect him and hobble the Ingram Inquiry into allegations against him.

Kiwiblog has done an excellent post detailing what happened and when, concluding with:

Long before the Police investigation, the Labour Party should have denounced Field. Instead Clark, Cullen and the rest of the Labour Party defended him. That is why these convictions are their shame.

This would also be a good time for all MPs to come together and declare this should never happen again, and support an Independent Commission against Corruption that can investigate abuses of office by parliamentarians, senior officials and agencies.

The call for an Independent Commission against Corruption is seconded by Whaleoil.

Keeping Stock says:

And sadly, we can no longer claim to be a country where our politics are free from corruption. That will be Taito Phillip Field’s legacy to New Zealand, and to the Pasifika people he purported to represent.

Roarprawn asks:   He is the first but will he be the last?

No  Minister says (and shows): A good day for Tui.

Oswald Bastable says: Official – there is corruption in NZ politics.

PM of NZ notes: Only guilty of trying to help.

UPDATE: Fairfacts Media posts on The Guilty Party.

                  Macdoctor posts on Dishonour.

                 Dim Post says The Only Thing Taito Phillip Field is Guilty of is Corruption.

                Something Should Go Here highlights the Gobsmackingly Dishonest Quote of the Day.

UPdate 2:

              Monkeywithtypewriter posts In Praise of Ingram.

             Stephen Franks writes Reflections on Field’s Corruption.


Hoots mon, haggis is nae Scottish

August 4, 2009

If Australian attempts to claim the first pavlova was cooked on their side of the Tasman not ours causes heated discussions, what will the news that haggis comes from south of the border do to Anglo-Scot relationships?

English historian Catherine Brown uncovered a references to haggis in a book from 1615 – at least 171 years before Robert Burns ode brought fame to what some regard as a delicacy.

But world champion haggis maker Robert Patrick said:

. . .the idea haggis originated in England was akin to claims by the Dutch and Chinese to have invented golf.

He added: “Anything that’s to do with Scotland, everybody wants to get a part of.  “

. . . James Macsween, whose Edinburgh-based company makes haggis, said it would remain a Scottish icon whatever its origin.

He said even if the haggis was eaten in England long before Burns made it famous, Scotland had done a better job of looking after it.

And he added: “I didn’t hear of Shakespeare writing a poem about it.”

In spite of my tartan genes I have to confess I haven’t acquired a taste for the dish but I support the defence of its Scottishness.


Tuesday’s answers

August 4, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “There are no conditions of life to which a man cannot get accustomed if he sees them accepted by everyone about him”?

2. What’s a gillie (sometimes written as ghillie)?

3. Which is Italy’s biggest lake?

4. Which sheep breed resulted from crossing Cheviots and Romneys?

5. Who wrote The Curly Pyjama Letters?

Gravedodger got 4 out of 5 with a bonus for knowing Como is Italy’s deepest lake; Ray got 3 right and gets 1/2 a point for being on the  right track with the answer to number 3 and Kismet scored 3.

The answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


How poor is poor?

August 4, 2009

Is poverty not having enough or not having enough in comparison with what other people have?

Is it absolute or relative?

The notion of relative poverty has driven a lot of social and economic policy.

It was one of the motivations behind Working for Families. The television advertisements clearly showed the money was directed at people who already had luxuries and turned middle and upper income families into beneficiaries.

Defining policy by comparison with what others have is a flawed concept because as Michael Blasland points out on the BBC website, poverty, by this measure,  could decline during the recession.

That doesn’t mean poor people will have more, they could well have less, but richer people will have reduced incomes too. Relative poverty is defined as less than 60% of the median income, if rich people get poorer the median income would decrease and therefore fewer people would be poor.

The column includes an interactive graph which illustrates just how flawed this definition of poverty is.

Hat Tip: Liberty Scott


MPs who spend less than 14,800 can’t be doing much

August 4, 2009

UK-style expenses scandal possible the headline in the Sunday Star Times (not on-line) thundered.

The story which follows on MPs’ expense allowance quotes outgoing Remuneration Authority chairman David Oughton saying the  allowance paid to MPs is open to abuse.

The $14,800 was supposed to be for “out of packet expenses incurred in the pursuit of parliamentary business”. This might include entertaining visitors, staff and constituents; memberships, sponsorships and fees, gifts, donations, raffle tickets and flowers, passport photos, briefcases, luggage and meals.

“The money is there to be spent on those things and if they don’t spend it on that then it’s money in their pocket,” Oughton said.

The allowance is also to cover accommodation and meals when working away from home. An MP who doesn’t spend $14,800 on those sorts of things can’t be doing much and I would be very surprised if most, especially those with large electorates outside Wellington,  don’t spend a great deal more on them.

There have been suggestions that MPs should have to produce receipts for this expenditure. That would be a time consuming nuisance for the MPs and whoever had to deal with the paper work because most of the payments will be for quite small amounts.

MPs do a difficult job and the good ones more than earn their salaries. They incur additional expenses in the course of their duties and just as they would in any other job, they ought to be reimbursed for that.

It is not unusual in the private sector for people to receive bulk funded allowances for minor out of pocket job related expenditure. However, I can see no justification for paying non-work related expenses nor continuing any payments once MPs are out of parliament.

Sir Roger Douglas might be within the rules when he claimed 90% of the costs of a  flight to Britain with his wife but the rules need to change.

Subsidising private travel may have been part of the employment package for MPs but as Sir Roger Douglas well knows, “entitlements” which are given may also be taken away.

Then there are the rules which govern payments for Wellington houses for Ministers who live elsewhere. John Key is right to order a review of them.

Mr Key said problems with the rules weren’t new.

“Ministerial Services’ rules look arcane to me. They don’t necessarily drive the best outcomes for either the taxpayer or the minister,” he said.

“I think the rules drive perverse outcomes…I want to make sure the taxpayer gets as fair a deal as possible which genuinely reflects the increased demand (placed on ministers).”

Mr Key said his ministers often worked 18-hour days for six or seven days a week.

“Most New Zealanders, I believe, would support me in my desire to see the marriages of my cabinet ministers and the happiness of their families remain intact,” he said.

“I don’t expect them to take advantage of the goodwill of the taxpayers and I don’t believe they are, but I’m quite happy to have new rules out there that reflect that.”

Poneke may be disappointed that I’m not going to criticise Bill English over this when it was publicity over payments to him which prompted the review.

Few people understand the demands placed on MPs and the strains it places on their family lives. The bigger the electorate and the further it is from Wellington the more difficult it is to service and still have time for family.

Bill serves the biggest general electorate in the country and the furtherest from the capital. The large majorities he earns each election reflect the hard work he does for his constituents and their appreciation of that. 

Like several other current and past Ministers he and his family moved from their home in his electorate to Wellington so he could have more time with them. That his wife has a job and his children go to school there doesn’t change the fact that they made the move because he is an MP and still have their home in Dipton.

The comparison with other jobs which require people to move isn’t comparing apples with apples. Unlike most other positions,  MPs work in Wellington and in their electorates.

Having said that, when the public service is being asked to do line by line reviews of costs it is essential that the government leads by example and a review of housing rules is necessary.

Questions it should consider are whether Ministers need bigger/better houses than other MPs; if they do, what is an appropriate level of assistance for that recognising the private costs and benefits of owning a second house in Wellington because of their jobs.

It also needs to recognise the difficulties and demands of running the country and serving an electorate elsewhere and the impact that has on families. All of that must be balanced with the need for fiscal prudence which ought to govern all public spending.

P.S. – goNZo Freakpower has a very good post on this issue with the sensible suggestion that everything be frontended in salaries and expenses be bulk funded and capped.


August 4 in history

August 4, 2009

On August 4:

1792 English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was born.

   

1870 Scottish singer  Harry Lauder was born.

 

1900 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the Queen Mother) was born.

 

 

1965 The Cook Islands became self-governing.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


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