Word of the day

October 20, 2011

Tocsin – an alarm bell or the ringing of it;  a warning signal; an omen.


October 20, 2011

13/15 in Stuff’s kids’ quiz – let down by bowls and music.

Closing gap helping vote for change?

October 20, 2011

Most polls take an FPP approach to government, assuming the party with the most support will win the election and the right to govern.

Although the party with the most votes has been the one to lead governments in New Zealand since MMP was introduced that is no guarantee that one with less support won’t end up being able to cobble up a majority with several coalition partners.

National is still well ahead of Labour in all polls, but today’s update from iPredict shows potential coalition partner Act faltering in Epsom which is giving a slight boost to the horrifying possibility that we’ll get a Labour/GreenParty/Maori Party/ New Zealand First coalition.

Act’s chances in Epsom have dropped to marginal levels, making it just possible that Phil Goff could be our next Prime Minister, according to this week’s snapshot by New Zealand’s online prediction market, iPredict.  With John Banks hovering at just over 50% chance of winning Epsom, and New Zealand First nearing MMP’s 5% threshold, a Phil Goff-led government isn’t out of the question . . .

Forecast party vote shares are now: National 45.0% (down from 46.0% last week) Labour 29.7% (down from 31.0% last week), the Greens
11.1% (steady), New Zealand First 4.7% (steady), Act 3.6% (up from 3.1% last week),  UnitedFuture 1.9% (up from 1.6% last week), the Maori Party 1.2% (steady),  the Mana Party 1.0% (down from 1.1% last week), the Conservative Party 0.9% (down from 1.0% last week), and the New Citizen Party 0.4% (down from 0.5% last week).

Based on this data, and the electorate results above, Parliament would be as follows: National 58 MPs, Labour 38 MPs, the Greens 14
MPs, Act 5 MPs, the Maori Party 3 MPs, UnitedFuture 2 MPs, and the Mana party just 1 MP.  There would be 121 MPs, requiring a government to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and supply.  John Key’s National Party would be able to govern with any one of the Greens, Act or Maori Party.

Although Act often does better in elections than polls, the chances of it getting at least 5% are remote and the possibility of Banks not winning Epsom is increasing. If NZ First gets at least 5% and Banks loses Epsom the picture is gloomier:

Under this scenario, Parliament would be as follows: National 57 MPs, Labour 38 MPs, the Greens 14 MPs, New Zealand First 6 MPs,  the Maori Party 3 MPs, UnitedFuture 2 MPs, and the Mana Party just 1 MP. There would be 121 MPs, requiring a government to have the support of 62 MPs on confidence and supply meaning Phil Goff’s Labour Party could govern with the Greens, New Zealand First and the Maori Party, and would not need the Mana Party.

There are only two silver small linings to this gloomy prospect.

The Mana Party wouldn’t have to be part of that coalition and the thought of such a government might help persuade people to vote for a change from MMP in the referendum on the voting system



October 20, 2011

Just 3/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

I’m not going to waste my time trying with the George Clooney’s girls  one.

Thursday’s quiz

October 20, 2011

1. Who said: “It is a noteworthy fact that kicking and beating have played so considerable a part in the habits which necessity has imposed on mankind in past ages that the only way of preventing civilised men from beating and kicking their wives is to organize games in which they can kick and beat balls.”?

2. Name four of the seven All Blacks who have been knighted.

3. It’s jeu in French, gioco in Italian, juego in Spanish (not to be used in place of jugo, which means juice, as I did at an Argentinean cafe)  and purei  in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Which university did Graham Henry study at and what qualification did he gain?

5. What will you be doing on Sunday from about 845 8:45pm?

There’s optimism . . .

October 20, 2011

. . .  and there’s over optimism.

Irish bookie Paddy Power is so sure the All Blacks will win Sunday’s Rugby World Cup final he’s paying out already.

I’m optimistic but only cautiously so. On paper the All Blacks are a much stronger team the Les Bleus but anything could happen on the night.

Even when the Wallabies had to score two points a minute in the last seven minutes to even the score in the semi-final I couldn’t relax and even if the All Blacks are well ahead of France in the final I’ll be on the edge of my seat with all digits crossed until the final whistle blows.

Where there’s pigs . . .

October 20, 2011

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt makes a very amusing story of the day in 1999 when a small group of conservationists came to see if he could help save the Auckland Island pigs which DOC was planning to cull.

Life on the island was hard and there weren’t many of them, but the animals which had been isolated and free of disease for so many generations had potential for use in medical advances.

Tim reckoned the special mayoral fund would cover the cost of 17 pigs but he hadn’t taken into account the population growth that would occur when the pigs moved from Auckland Island’s harsh environment to the balmy climate of Southland.

The annual cost of keeping the pigs went from $3,000 to around $13,000 as their numbers increased, the council wasn’t pleased and took the mayoral fund from him. But Tim was optimistic these pigs would more than repay the investment and now they are.

Their isolation had made them the only pigs in the world that were virus free and so able to be used in cell transplants to people for diabetes treatment. By 2008 each pig was worth $350,000.

Living Cell Technology built its first quarantine unit in Southland a couple of years ago and the company has now announced a multi-million dollar commitment to commercialise a diabetes treatment using the Southland-farmed pigs.

Living Cell Technology announced Otsuka Pharmaceutical Factory, of Japan, had committed $31m to a joint venture to create Diatranz Otsuka, a company that would concentrate on accelerating the commercialisation of Living Cell’s groundbreaking cell implant therapy, Diabecell, to treat diabetes.

Diabecell has been trialled in New Zealand, Argentina and Russia, and is designed to normalise the lives of people with type-1 diabetes. It involves being injected with live cells from the unique Auckland Island pigs, farmed in a special multimillion-dollar piggery near Invercargill.

Where there’s Auckland Island pigs there’s money making opportunities and the potential for better health and quality of life for diabetics.

The rising cost of the pigs cost Tim the mayoral fund, but he thinks it’s ben worth it and the story he tells keeps getting better.

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