Happy birthday Joni Mitchell.
Two blokes from Invercargill died and woke up in hell.
The next day the devil stopped in to check on them and saw them dressed in swannies, mittens and balaclavas warming themselves around the fire.
The devil said, “What are you doing? Isn’t it hot enough for you?”
The blokes replied, “Well, you know, we’re from Invercargill, the land of snow and ice and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a little bit, eh.”
The devil decided that these two weren’t miserable enough and turned up the heat.
The next morning he stopped in again and there they were, still dressed in swannies, mittens and balaclavas. The devil asks them again, “It’s awfully hot down here, can’t you guys feel it?”
Again the two blokes replied, “Well, like we told ya yesterday, we’re from Invercargill, the land of snow and ice and cold. We’re just happy for a chance to warm up a little bit, eh.”
This got the devil a little steamed so he cranked the heat up as high as it would go. The people were wailing and screaming everywhere. He stopped by the room with the two guys from Invercargill and found them in “T” shirts, footie shorts and jandals drinking Speights and cooking a barbeque.
The devil was astonished, “Everyone down here is in abject misery, and you two seem to be enjoying ourselves.”
The two Southlanders replied, “Well, ya know, we don’t get too much warm weather down there in Invercargill so we’ve just got to have a cook-up when the weather’s this nice.”
The devil was absolutely furious then he came up with the answer. The two blokes
loved the heat because they’d been cold all their lives. The devil decided to turn all the heat off in hell.
The next morning, the temperature was below zero, icicles are hanging everywhere; people were shivering so badly that they are unable to do anything but wail, moan
and gnash their teeth.
The devil smiled and headed for the room with the two Southlanders. He got there and found them back in their swannies, mittens and balaclavas. They were also jumping up and down, cheering, yelling and screaming like mad men.
The devil was dumbfounded, “I don’t understand, when I turn up the heat you’re happy. Now it’s freezing cold and you’re still happy. What is wrong with you two?”
The Southlanders looked at the devil in surprise, “Well, don’t you know? If hell freezes over, it must mean that Southland has won the Ranfurly Shield.
One of the questions asked in pre-selection interviews for would-be MPs is, “Is there anything in your background that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of tomorrow’s paper?”
Thinking about what something would look like on the front page is a good guiding principle for any of us and even more so for politicians.
The decision to make MPs’ expenses public has allowed the media to look at who spends how much on what and their use of public funds is being exposed to the disinfectant of sunlight.
That sunlight is already working. The NZ Herald reports that Rodney Hide repaid $10,000 for airfares for a holiday in Hawaii which he and his partner took in July.
“He booked the flights through parliamentary travel but after reflecting on that decision over the last week or so, he decided to repay the full cost of the Hawaiian airfares.”
When most MPs reflect, they are more likely to not use their public money for private overseas travel, whether it’s their own or that of a partner.
That’s the good thing about making MPs’ expense claims public.
As John Key said:
“What MPs do need to do is recognise pretty clearly we live in a modern, new world where there is increased media scrutiny, where there is an expectation from the public about the way their taxpayers’ dollars will be spent. I think they’d better start learning fast that they need to meet those expectations.”
But there is a need for caution.
MPs’ spice* can claim air fares to and from Wellington and school-age children area also covered for, I think, one trip a year.
Lots of jobs demand a lot of families but I don’t think there is any which demands quite as much of families as that of MPs. They are away from home a lot, they are regarded as public property and almost always on duty.
Because of that, covering the internal travel of spice and children as happens now is fair and reasonable.
Some, Hide included, think it would be better just to bulk fund MPs but I have concerns about that.
MPs serving big electorates will always have greater costs for travel and accommodation than list MPs or those with smaller electorates. The amounts spent will also be greater for those living further from Wellington.
That’s easy enough to measure.
However, harder working MPs will have more costs than those who cruise. That’s much more difficult to measure. Bulk funding could leave the most effective MPs out of pocket and the cruisers creaming it.
I’d rather just let the sun shine on the expenses. Those who don’t know what’s fair and reasonable will learn once it hits the front page.
*Spice is HP shorthand for spouses and partners.
When the Country Channel was launched I checked it out.
Some of the local content was interesting but there wasn’t much of it. The rest was from overseas and my farmer and I decided it wasn’t worth paying to for another channel when we hardly watch any of the channels that already come with Sky.
Sadly for the channel too many other people must have agreed with us because there’s an application to place the company which ran it into liquidation.
My farmer often and I sometimes watch the Saturday morning farming programme, Rural Delivery. We sometimes look at Country Calendar and that’s enough rural programming for us.
A programme devoted entirely to country matters was a big ask, especially when, as Quote Unquote points out:
. . . your target market, i.e. everyone in farming, spends all day working outside and all night inside watching TV One, like everyone else. And they don’t all have Sky.
It might have been better to try to sell a programme or two to one of the other channels when the market for a stand along country channel in New Zealand is so small.
The Nielson Market Intelligence rural website ranking for September may indicate how small the market for rural information in New Zealand is.
The Met Service got 70, 683 visitors in the month, the next best was Stuff farming with 38,805 and then RD1 with 13,125. You’d want a lot more than all those combined to sustain a TV channel.
UPDATE: Country Channel.tv in the UK has left a comment asking me to make it clear I’m discussing the Country Channel in New Zealand and that the UK Country Channel is still going strong.