His bum did look big in that

November 19, 2009

A bloke who tried to break in to a supermarket through a small window got caught in two senses.

He was trapped part-way in and lost his trousers then he was arrested by police after firemen freed him.


Report card

November 19, 2009

John Key has issued a report card on his government’s first year in office.

It includes a list of achievements and next steps.

The Prime Minister mentioned many of the achievements and plans for the future in a speech, securing a brighter future, in which he said:

 . . . I’ve tasked my Government ministers with working on the key drivers needed to realise these ambitions.  They are about: 

  1. Ensuring our tax system encourages people to work hard, save and invest in productive Kiwi businesses. 
  2. Focusing the Government’s considerable share of economic activity on better, smarter frontline services, rather than waste and backroom bureaucracy.
  3. Providing all New Zealanders with the education and skills they need to perform productive well-paid jobs.
  4. Building the transport, broadband, and other infrastructure networks that people and businesses need to get their jobs done as efficiently as possible.
  5. Removing the red tape and cumbersome regulation that can prevent businesses from expanding, taking on new workers and making the most of new ideas.
  6. Supporting Kiwi firms to grow and develop new ideas by connecting them with our smartest researchers and scientists, and helping them reach more global consumers by signing free trade agreements with our trading partners. 


That constitutes a huge programme of work, over a wide range of areas.

As a Government, it is a matter of rolling our sleeves up, focusing on the issues that matter and, in some cases, making some difficult decisions.

By creating the right conditions, we can give people the confidence to work hard, invest in a business, and take up new opportunities.

The last sentence resonates with me.

Good government isn’t about a government doing everything. It’s about creating the right conditions to allow people to succeed by themselves.


Paying a fair share

November 19, 2009

Trans Tasman thinks the motorcyclists’ protest was a perfect illustration of the political and economic difficulties we’re going to face:

The bikes thundered into town down the motorway. Grey ponytails streaming into the wind behind them, paunches looming threateningly over their petrol tanks. You are unlikely to see a greater gathering of engaged, aging baby boomers, outside the upcoming Carole King concert. Their air of aggrieved entitlement reminds one these people will be collecting their superannuation in a few years.

And this is the problem. Speeches to the gathering from the protesters made it clear they believe it’s unfair they should have to pay the costs of the risky activity they undertake.  The rest of us should pay. Extrapolate this to superannuation, and health, and you have the starkest illustration possible of the long-term problem.

No-one wants to pay more – directly in fees and levies or indirectly through taxes – but almost everyone wants the services.

As for the motorcyclists’ case, Kiwiblog has some stats. on motorbike accidents and also spots the irony:

. . .  the same people who support banning pies from tuckshops on the basis it may extend someone’s life by a few months in 60 years years time, don’t think incentives to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents are justified.

It’s so much easier to have the state telling other people what to do when it doesn’t affect us directly than to pay a fair share towards something that does.

Trans Tasman is a weekly political and economic newsletter. You can subscribe here.


Relatively better isn’t the same as good

November 19, 2009

New Zealand tops Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index.

The others in the top 10 are: Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands and Australia, Canada and Iceland which are 8th equal.

The countries at the bottom are: Chad, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Corruption is a form of oppression and this map shows how widespread it is:

While it’s good to be relatively good, what really matters is not how good we are perceived to be relative to anyone else but how good we are fullstop.

A score of 9.4 does mean we’re perceived to be pretty good.

That makes it more likely that other countries and other people will trust us and our institutions.

But we need to be vigilant to ensure that reality matches the perception.

Hat tip: Poneke.


10/10

November 19, 2009

This week’s Dominion Post political quiz : 10/10 in 47 seconds with no guesses.


There’s races . . . Updated

November 19, 2009

There’s races and there’s the heritage race day which opened Oamaru’s annual Victorian heritage celebrations.

Alf’s Imperial Army stood guard over the official party as Celebration committee chair, Sally Hope,  welcomed the crowd:

There were horses and sulkies – full size with professional jockeys and ponies with young drivers.

The celebrity celebrity race featured Waitaki Mayor Alec Familton, the Wizard, The Queen of Victorian Oamaru and North Otago rugby player Ross Hay, paired with reinsmen.

There was also a race for penny farthings:

Many of the race goers dressed in Victorian finery, some of whom competed for the fashion in the field awards.

The Queen declared the celebrations open with cut-glass vowels and was still smiling sweetly, loyal guardsman at her side, at the end of the day:

The ODT coverage of the day is here.

The heritage celebrations started modestly with a small fete 19 years ago and are now the biggest annual event in the Waitaki District.

This year’s programme includes a Swaggers and servants dance, a ball, the national penny farthing championships and the world stone sawing championships. Celebrations conclude on Sunday with a Victorian fete.

UPDATE: TV3 was at the races too with words and video.


Fonterra shareholders vote for new capital structure

November 19, 2009

Fonterra shareholders have backed the company’s plans for capital restructuring.

Fonterra Chairman, Sir Henry van der Heyden, said the high vote expressed “great confidence in the Co-operative and our future.”

“It is also a great comment on our farmer shareholders,” he said. “They told us they wanted to retain 100% control and ownership of our Co-operative. They said give us the opportunity to back our Co-operative. Today they have stepped up to the plate in a big way to strengthen our Co-op.”

The vote means shareholders will be able to buy more shares than the amount of milk they supply entitles them to. It will also enable suppliers to sell shares to each other.


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