An accidental empire

September 14, 2009

An accidental empire – the rise of political blogging and its effect on conventional media.

That’s the topic of an address by Fran O’Sullivan will be delivering to a Rual Women NZ breakfst in Wellington on Tuesday September 29 from 7.15am to 8.15am.

The meeting is being held in the Horticulture New Zealand Boardroom, Level 2, Huddart Parker Building, Post Office Square, (opposite Queen’s Wharf).

An email from RWNZ told me to tell friends and colleagues from which I gather that anyone is welcome to attend. There is no charge but RSVPs are requested to: noeline.holt@ruralwomen.org.nz 0r tracygalland@xtra.co.nz


Economic conditions to influence salary decisions

September 14, 2009

The Remuneration Authority will be required to take economic conditions into account when setting salaries for MPs and other professions for which it is responsible.

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson said:

This year MPs from all political parties and others including the Governor-General were willing to forgo a pay increase but the Remuneration Authority could not take account of the recession in its decision.

“This Bill will allow the Authority to balance wage rises against the economic conditions of the day,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“It seems sensible to allow the Authority to act with greater flexibility when it’s required.”

The Remuneration Authority is independent and should remain so but this legislation will enable it to factor economic conditions in to its calculations.

The Bill is designed to allow the Authority to respond  with restraint to tough times. I hope there is no danger it will also be able to respond more generously than it would have to boom times.

Setting salaries for MPs is fraught with difficulty. Good MPs are underpaid, a few will be overpaid.

We’ll never know who is put off a political career because the pay is too low or who is attracted to it because of the salary;  we’re also unlikely to know which MPs get a pay rise and which take a cut when they enter parliament.

The Authority has to determine a rate which doesn’t discourage able people who would lose too much if they entered parliament when there is no private sector equivalent with which direct comparisons can be made. It must also take into account that there is a large element of public service in the position.

Adding the requirement to consider economic conditions won’t make their task any easier but it might make the result of their deliberations more palatable to the public.


Did you see the one about . . .

September 14, 2009

The 12 Wierdest Hotel Rooms  at Motella – which includes another reason to not like Barbie.

In defence of Donald Rumsfeld at Quote Unquote – the known knowns, the known unknown and the unknown unknowns.

Labour’s 16th apology at goNZo Freakpower – I agree with all but # 14.

A case for a Commission for Social Exclusion  at Opinionated Mummy.

4000 years  on at Opposable Thumb where a future archeaological dig discovers signs of a primative culture in the south.


Monday’s quiz

September 14, 2009

1. “Read him for the tittle-tattle. But for strategic analysis find yourself a grown-up.” Colin James said it, to whom was he referring?

2. Who wrote All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?

3. Titi-tea is the Maori name for which mountain?

4. Sheep breeders encourage multiple births, why aren’t cow breeders so keen on twins?

5. Which ship took New Zealand’s first frozen meat exports to Britain?


Susan Boyle releases single online

September 14, 2009

The woman whose appearance on Britain’s Got Talent became a youTube hit has released a single online.

It’s the first single from her debut album, the Rolling Stones’ song Wild Horses.

She’s been dubbed Subo and has released the single on perezhilton.com.


Time we stopped paying for vanity vehicle

September 14, 2009

You’d think that someone who’s been an MP for as long as Jim Anderton would understand the system. But his response to questions from Paul Holmes on Q&A yesterday shows he doesn’t understand the difference between an electorate office and a party leader’s office:

PAUL: . . . The only reason the Progressives still exists, or are going to continue to exist can I suggest to you is that the public pays the party $164,000 of taxpayers money for the Party expenses and you get $13,000 more for being the leader. Isn’t that the only reason for the continuation of the Progressives?

JIM: No, you’re absolutely wrong Paul. The Government or the Parliamentary Services Commission pays no money for the Party, the Progressives pay their own money, and the money that’s paid to me as an Electorate MP and as Leader of the Progressives in parliament is for Parliamentary purposes, that’s for the work that I do, I have 1500 constituents coming through my electorate office each year and we help them sometimes in matters of life and death – and it’s a privilege to do so – and that’s why my electorate office is funded and why my parliamentary office is funded.

His electorate office is funded so he can help his constituents. The party is funded so it can help him and his party which is so close to Labour it makes no difference.

PAUL: But $164,000 for the Progressive Party as long as the Progressive Party continues. That’s the only reason you’re continuing surely?

JIM: That’s rubbish. I continue because people in Sydenham have voted for me for 25 years, I probably hold the Guinness Book of Records for representing the largest number of parties in the same electorate, increasing my majorities most of the time. The people of Sydenham have the right to say that and that’s what they’ve been saying.

He’s got that wrong too. Kiwiblog shows he has increased his majority only once:

1996: 10,039
1999: 9,885
2002: 3,176
2005: 8,548
2008: 4,767

The people of Sydenham have the right to say if he’s in parliament or not but the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay extra for him to lead what is in effect a one-man vanity vehicle.

This is more evidence that the 500 members a party needs before it can register is far too few.


Moving on to more of the same

September 14, 2009

Phil Goff has said sorry and Labour will be moving on to focus on what really matters.

He hasn’t however, accepted that some of the policies of which he is still proud are responsible, at least in part, for the problems New Zealand is facing. Nor has he learned there’s an urgent need for less government spending.

Bill English said in a media release (not yet on line): (now online)

Phil Goff tries to suggest he has made a break from the past and is listening to New Zealanders,” Mr English says.

 “But there is no evidence of fresh thinking in Labour’s reckless economic policies, which would send New Zealand billions of dollars deeper into debt, drive up interest rates and ultimately bankrupt the country. . .

“Under Labour’s flimsy plan, that would spiral by more than $6 billion to reach $18 billion by 2011/12.

While Goff hasn’t learned from the economic mistakes his government made, at least two of his colleagues haven’t got the message about the risk of being side tracked by side shows.

Ruth Dyson wants to give out free condoms, a policy which Kiwiblog has costed at $100 million a year. Macdoctor says Pharmac might be able to get a discount but whatever the cost, it would still be a waste of money.

Even worse, Lianne Dalziel is excited about a Commission for Social Inclusion about which Dim Post says:

Finally! Joined up effective solutions to – I’m sorry, what was the problem? I think it was Ramsey McDonald who said he became a democratic socialist after he realised that the workers didn’t want a revolution, they just wanted a decent salary and a good life for their kids. You know what would be truly revolutionary? If Labour MPs realised that workers want hundreds of pointless taxpayer funded commissions even less than they want a permanent revolution.

Quite.

Phil Goff wants to move on but it’s no use moving on to more of the same. Economic mismanagement and social engineering were  a large part of  why voters threw Labour out of government so they’re not going to help them get back in.


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