Word of the day

October 7, 2010

Oculoplania – letting one’s eyes wander while assessing someone’s charms.

MPs getting plastered

October 7, 2010

First it was Young Farmers, now MPs are getting plastered  too.

The Parliamentary ‘Let’s Get Plastered for Breast Cancer event is part of a nationwide campaign by Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) to remind women of the importance of staying in touch with their breast health.

Thirty MPs and staff are taking part, making plaster casts of their busts, which will be revealed at an anonymous exhibition of breast sculptures to be held at Parliament next Tuesday, 12 October.

“We are delighted that MPs and parliamentary staff are supporting this event.  It’s a fun way to highlight the need for women to monitor their breast health and stay alert to any changes,” says RWNZ National President, Liz Evans. 

“Breast screening is the best tool for diagnosing breast cancer, but for women outside the 45-69 year age range covered by the national screening programme, self-awareness is vital.”

Next week’s event at the Beehive is being hosted by National list MP Dr Jackie Blue, who was also New Zealand’s first breast physician.  She maintains a keen interest in breast cancer awareness.

Rural Women is selling plaster kits for $10 with the profits donated the the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. More than 20 breast sculpture events have been organised around the country.

Another chapter for Carter’s book

October 7, 2010

Chris Carter has given up on being the candidate for Te Atatu.

“In good conscience I cannot campaign on behalf of a leader I have criticised,” Mr Carter said.

“It would not be fair to him or ethical of me. I hold this view while at the same believing the Labour Party, with its values of social democracy and concern for the welfare of ordinary people, is the best party to serve the interests of New Zealanders.”

Mr Carter said he remained a loyal Labour supporter.

This will make another interesting chapter in the book he’s threatening to write.


October 7, 2010

I’m obviously not concentrating when compiling the daily history posts – only 5/10 in NZ History Online’s weekly history quiz.

Technorati survey for State of Blogosphere

October 7, 2010

Technorati has been tracking the blogosphere through  its State of the Blogosphere study since 2004.

They are  inviting bloggers to participate in this year’s survey.

The goal of the study is to create a complete snapshot of the activities and interactions that make up the Blogosphere by asking you, the bloggers, to share some information about your habits. The survey includes questions like how, when and why you blog. Is this a side business, full time job or something you do for fun?

It took about 15 mintues to complete.

Results will be published on its website on November 3.

Will polls influence vote?

October 7, 2010

In general elections advertising or polling which might influence voters is not permitted after midnight on election eve.

With postal voting for local body elections campaigning and polling continues after the ballot papers have been distributed.

The ODT published a poll  last weekend of Clutha, Central Otago, Waitaki and Queenstown Lakes Districts which showed a couple of close results but will it influence the vote?

In Clutha Juno Hayes, the sitting mayor, had 34.8% with challengers Hamish Anderson and Bryan Cadogan tied on 31.3%.

In Central Otago sitting mayor Malcolm Macpherson had 38.7% support with Tony Lepper on 37.8% and Jeff Hill on 23.4%.

The Clutha race appears to reflect dissatisfaction with the incumbent but the split in the opposition may let him slip through. However the poll had a margin of error of 11.4% so it’s still anyone’s race.

In Central results show those who support the incumbent should vote for him and those who don’t you’d have a better chance of unseating him if they vote for Lepper than Hill.

In Queenstown Lakes Vanessa Van Uden received 62.5% support with Simon Hayes on 32.8%. In Waitaki sitting mayor Alex Familton had 54.8% support with current deputy mayor Gary Kircher gaining 37.5%.

Both should give the leaders some comfort but with margins of error of 9.6% in Queenstown Lakes and 9.3% in Waitaki there  is still the possibility of an upset.

Did the poll influence my vote? No, I posted my ballot paper on Tuesday after reading the results but they didn’t show change my mind over who I was supporting.

However, had I not already decided who I was supporting the poll may have been a factor I took into account.

UPDATE: The NBR quotes AUT University’s Institute of Public Policy director David Wilson who says those worried about the influence of polls shouldn’t underestimate voters.

Someone told someone but we don’t know who

October 7, 2010

In nine years with Labour in power did anyone leak anything of significance in order to sabotage government policy?

After less than two years with National in power there have already been two leaks designed to do that.

The first was information from the cabinet paper on a stocktake of minerals on Schedule 4 land. The second was information from a  Cabinet paper on lifting performance and service delivery in the State Sector.

The State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie,  investigated and discovered someone told someone something they shouldn’t have but was unable to determine who:

In respect of the minerals inquiry it was found that there was a deliberate unauthorised disclosure. There was not sufficient evidence to establish who disclosed the information. The evidence does not indicate that disclosures were more likely to have come from the Public Service than other parties who had access to the information disclosed.

In respect of the machinery of government paper investigation it was found that there was a deliberate unauthorised disclosure of information relating to the options contained in the Cabinet paper. No one person was identified as having deliberately disclosed the information. However, at least one aspect of what was being proposed was probably disclosed by a public servant. The report found that the evidence lead to the conclusion that one of the sources for the journalists was either someone in the National Library, or someone being told something by someone in the National Library, who then passed this information on. This is a disappointing finding as it indicates a lapse from the high standard of professionalism held by the majority of public servants.

In the introduction to his statement Mr Rennie said:

The unauthorised disclosure of government information strikes at the heart of the crucial relationship of trust that needs to exist between Ministers and their officials, for the business of government to work as it should. Ministers have a right to make decisions in a calm and deliberative manner and through processes which are not destabilised by premature and unauthorised disclosure.

This reminded me of  an interview earlier this year in which Mark Prebble told Kathryn Ryan:

“Public servants have to implement the policies of the government of the day

Many people come to government to try to support a good cause. They don’t realise the one who has to determine which good cause is to be supported is the democratically minister of the day. And quite a lot of departments, not slinging off at their professionalism but say DOC, you get a lot of people who join DOC because they know they want to save a kakapo and if not a kakapo it will be the lesser spotted whatever. And if the lesser spotted whatever is not on the minister’s list of priorities they’ll find it hard to do.

A key part of the role of senior public servants is to explain to them well it is the minister who has to take the heat in public about that and the public servant really isn’t just employed to follow their own interests and if they want to follow their interests they can go and work in the private sector like anyone else. . .

. . . No public servant should be zealous about the particular cause they’re interested in. They should be zealous about democracy and respecting the law. . .”

The  public service must be apolitical.

This doesn’t mean public servants can’t hold political views but it does mean they can’t be political in their work and they can’t  use knowledge gained in their work to further their political aims.

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