$10,000 doodle


The flag doodle John Key did on Breakfast  sold for $10,150 on TradeMe.

The money will go to Cure Kids and the winning bidder will also get morning tea with the Prime Minister.

And what does a $10,000 doodle look like?


What Dreams May Come


Happy birthday Vincent Ward – 54 today.

Save A Prayer


Happy birthday Andy Taylor – 49 today.

Electoral Finance law reform announced


Justice Minister Simon Power has announced the government’s reform package for electoral finance law.

He said:

 “The package comes after extended consultation with all parliamentary parties and the public.

“As a result, Cabinet has decided to progress reforms only where there is broad public and political support.

“If we are to have a system which is fair, workable, enduring, and in place before the 2011 election, broad consensus is essential.”

Proposal in the package include: 

  • Require disclosure of the total amount of donations that parties receive in bands.
  • Increase the amount of money that parties and candidates can spend on election campaigning at the rate of inflation for each general election.
  • Require people who spend more than $12,000 on parallel campaigning to register with the Electoral Commission. The register will be publicly available to ensure openness and transparency concerning the identities of parallel campaigners.
  • Bring more certainty to what counts as ‘election advertising’ by modernising the definition and requiring the Electoral Commission to issue guidance and advisory opinions about election advertisements.
  • Clarify the relationship between the Electoral Act 1993 and Parliamentary Service legislation.
  • Maintain the regulated campaign period to be three months before polling day.

The acknowledgement that broad consensus is necessary is a very good start. One of the many problems with the mess Labour made of electoral finance changes was bulldozing them through without wide support.

Increasing the amount which parties and candidates can spend with inflation is sensible.

So is bringing more certainty to what counts as election advertising and requiring the Electoral Commission to issue guidance and advisory opinions. Confusion about what was permitted and what wasn’t and fear of getting it wrong restrained free expression before the last election.

Returning the regulated period to three months before polling day rather than from January 1 of an election year is also a good move. Although I’d add, or from the announcement of the election if that is less than three months from polling day.

Related to that is clarifying the relationship between the Electoral Act and parliamentary Service legislation – we must not have a repeat of the pledge card and other rorts where parties and MPs campaigned with public money.

More information ont he review is available at the Justice Ministry.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog says consensus is the right way to approach the issue reform but it kills most meaningful electoral finance reform.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What was the origin of the term proof in relation to alcohol content?

2. What does stick to one’s last  mean?

3. What are the two smallest countries, by area, in the world?

4. Who said, “New Zealand is a country of thirty thousand million sheep, three million of whom think they are human.”

5. Who is New Zealand’s Minister of Internal Affairs?

Andrei and Greavedodger got a clean sweep, David got three and a bonus for introducing me to the Ministers of Everything That’s Left Over; PDM got two and a bonus for wit for his first answer and honesty, though not diplomacy, with his third.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t let the numbers get in the way of a campaign


The pro MMP  poster at No Right Turn says I’d rather live in a democracy with 120 MPs than a dictatorship with 99.

I’ll ignore the debate on whether MMP really is any more democratic than other electoral systems and stick with the numbers.

If we still had FPP we wouldn’t yet have 120 MPs but we’d have more than 99 unless the formula for setting electoral boundaries had changed.

The number of electorate seats keeps increasing under MMP and they would have under FPP too. 

The number of South Island seats was fixed under FPP and still is with MMP. Under both systems the South Island population is divided by that fixed number of seats and that figure is used to determine how many people will be in each electorate in both islands, plus or minus 5%.

The North Island population grows faster than that of the South so every six years when electorate boundaries are calculated we get another seat or two.

Had we still had FPP we’d be approaching 110 MPs.

This formula is why MMP will eventually stop working as it’s intended to. Each time an electorate seat is added a list seat is subtracted. We started with 65 electorate seats (60 general and 5 Maori) and 55 list seats in 1996. Now there are 70 electorate and 52 list seats (an overhang of two).

Unless there’s an increase in the total number of seats in parliament we’ll get to a stage where the number of list seats is so small proportionality will be lost.

The alternative is to reduce the number of South Island electorates but the big rural electorates in both islands already cover far too big an area.

Whatever the referendum result, there will have to be changes eventually and the price of maintaining proportionality might be more MPs – electorate and list.

February 16 in history


On February 16:

1032 Emperor Yingzong of China, was born.


1646  Battle of Great Torrington, Devon – the last major battle of the first English Civil War.

Burton, William Shakespeare- The Wounded Cavalier.jpg An allegory of the English Civil War by William Shakespeare Burton. It depicts a Cavalier lying on the ground wounded, while a Puritan in black stands in the background.

1770 Captain James Cook sighted what he called Banks Island but later discovered is was a peninsula.

James Cook sights Banks 'Island'

 1804  First Barbary War: Stephen Decatur led a raid to burn the pirate-held frigate USS Philadelphia (1799).

Burning of the uss philadelphia.jpg

1838 Weenen Massacre: Hundreds of Voortrekkers along the Blaukraans River, Natal were killed by Zulus.

1852 Studebaker Brothers wagon company, precursor of the automobile manufacturer, is established.

 The Studebaker brothers

1859 The French Government passed a law to set the A-note above middle C to a frequency of 435 Hz, in an attempt to standardize the pitch.

1899 President Félix Faure of France died in office.

1899 – Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur Iceland‘s first football club was founded.

KR Reykjavík.png

1918 The Council of Lithuania unanimously adopted the Act of Independence, declaring Lithuania an independent state.

1923 Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Pharoh Tutankhamun.

1926 Margot Frank, German-born Dutch Jewish holocaust victim, was born.

1934Austrian Civil War ended with the defeat of the Social Democrats and the Republican Schutzbund.

1934 – Commission of Government was sworn in as form of direct rule for the Dominion of Newfoundland.

1936 – Elections brought the Popular Front to power in Spain.

1937Wallace H. Carothers received a patent for nylon.

Nylon 6,6 unit

1940 Altmark Incident: The German tanker Altmark is boarded by sailors from the British destroyer HMS Cossack. 299 British prisoners were freed.

Altmark Incident.jpg

1941  –Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader, was born.

1947 Canadians granted Canadian citizenship after 80 years of being British subjects. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King became the first Canadian citizen.

1954 – Iain Banks, Scottish author, was born.

1956 Vincent Ward, New Zealand director and screenwriter, was born.

1957 The “Toddlers’ Truce“, a controversial television close down between 6.00pm and 7.00pm was abolished in the United Kingdom.

1959 John McEnroe, American tennis player, was born.

John McEnroe by David Shankbone.jpg

1959 Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1.

1960 Pete Willis, English guitarist (Def Leppard), was born.

1961 Andy Taylor, English musician (Duran Duran, The Power Station), was born.


1961Explorer program: Explorer 9 (S-56a) was launched.

1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.

1973  Cathy Freeman, Australian athlete, was born.

1978 – The first computer bulletin board system was created (CBBS in Chicago, Illinois).

 Ward Christensen and the computer that ran the first public Bulletin Board System, CBBS

1983 – The Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia claimed the lives of 75 people.

Ash Wednesday bushfires

1985 – The founding of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah emblem

1986 – The Soviet liner Mikhail Lermontov ran aground in the Marlborough Sounds.

Mikhail lermontov 1972.jpg

1987 – The trial of John Demjanjuk, accused of being a Nazi guard dubbed “Ivan the Terrible” in Treblinka extermination camp, starts in Jerusalem.

1991Nicaraguan Contras leader Enrique Bermúdez is assassinated in Managua.

1999 – Across Europe Kurdish rebels took over embassies and hold hostages after Turkey arrested one of their rebel leaders, Abdullah Öcalan.


2005 – The Kyoto Protocol came into force, following its ratification by Russia.

 Participation in the Kyoto Protocol, as of June 2009, where green indicates the countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, grey is not yet decided and red is no intention to ratify.

2005 – The National Hockey League cancelled the entire 2004-2005 regular season and playoffs, becoming the first major sports league in North America to do so over a labor dispute.

05 NHL Shield.svg

2006 – The last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was decommissioned by the United States Army.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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