Word of the day


Oath – vocal affirmation of the truth of one’s statements, generally made by appealing to a deity; a solemn appeal to a deity, or to some revered person or thing, to witness one’s determination to speak the truth, to keep a promise; to testify upon oath;  a solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness; a statement or promise strengthened by such an appeal; a formally affirmed statement or promise accepted as an equivalent of an appeal to a deity or to a revered person or thing; affirmation; the form of words in which such a statement or promise is made; an irreverent or blasphemous use of the name of God or anything sacred;

Only 6,000 members?


Is Chris Trotter right?

At 6,000 members, Labour is only slightly bigger than the Greens.

Does Labour really have so few members?

Even if they’re real, individual people and that figure doesn’t include unions as well, how can it continue to call itself a major party when it has so few people willing to sign up to belong to it?

National’s 2002 election result was worse than Labour’s this year but it’s membership at its very worst was several times better than 6,000 and has grown steadily since then.

It’s not very difficult to vote for a party. Membership requires more. It means at least a financial commitment and there are many other ways in which you can support and be involved with the party once you’ve joined up.

National’s membership, now many times more than that of Labour’s, is what provides its financial foundation and also the people who contribute to policy formation, fund-raising and who provide support for MPs.

In National, they are the ones who select electorate candidates and do so much to help them during campaigns.

Strong membership, strong finances and strong voter support are almost always linked.

But it’s not just the party which benefits from a wide and active membership, the country does too.

Without strong membership of political parties we don’t have a participatory democracy, we have politicians with very weak links to wide, grassroots support.

That results in parliament of the few by the few for the few which is the antithesis of democracy.

Woodhouse & Upston Nats new whips


Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse is National’s new senior Whip and Taupo MP Louise Upston is the new Junior Whip.

This makes Michael the highest ranked National MP ever to come from Dunedin.

There have been three previous National Party MPs in the city – the late Sir James Barnes served two terms from the      snap 1951 election until 1957, the late Richard Walls served one term in 1975-78, and Katherine Rich was a list MP from  1999 until 2008 when she retired from politics.

   Both Michael and Louise entered parliament in 2008.

Lockwood Smith has been elected unopposed as Speaker.

He is a candidate for the best Speaker in recent years, having done a lot to raise the standard of behaviour in parliament.

Some of his National party colleagues might think he went too far in holding ministers to account in a far stricter fashion than Labour ministers were held in the previous governments.

12 days before Christmas . . .


I’ve posted this before but have had a request to re-post it

Twelve days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “If the wind keeps up the lucerne should be fit by mid-afternoon so we’ll start making hay and there could be a few extra men for tea. But if there’s time when we finish I’ll get the Christmas tree.”


Eleven days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “I’m going through to a sale in Central. I should be back in time for the school concert, though probably not in time to get the Christmas tree.”


Ten days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “When you go into town this morning could you see if the spare part for the tractor has turned up yet, pick up some drench, drop a fewchequesinto the bank then pay these bills, there’s only two or three. While you’re doing that I’ll get the Christmas tree”


Nine days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “We’ll be shearing today, one of the men will be in the shed so he’ll want lunch early, the other should be in at the usual time and I probably won’t be in ‘til after one. But if we get the irrigator fixed this afternoon there might be time to get the Christmas tree.”


Eight days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “One of the rousies didn’t turn up so I’ve had to get another at short notice. Would you mind giving her lunch and could you throw something together for her morning and afternoon tea? If there’s no problems getting the sheep in I should have time to get the Christmas tree”


Seven days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “The farm advisor’s coming for a look round this morning and I’ll be working with cattle all afternoon, but if the phone’s quiet after dinner I’ll go and get the Christmas tree.”


Six days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “I’m going to the sale this morning and it’ll take most of the afternoon to draft the lambs. But they shouldn’t need dagging so when we’ve loaded the truck I’ll have time to get the Christmas tree.”


Five days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “If the rain holds off we’ll make a start on the silage this afternoon but it’s almost mid-summer’s day so  if it’s still be light enough to see when we knock off  I should be able to get the Christmas tree.”


Four days before Christmas my farmers said to me, “We’ll be making silage again today. It would save time if you could bring lunch out to the paddock and we’ll probably want dinner too – but if we finish early then I’ll go and get the tree.”


Three days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “Could you pick up the irrigator hose from the carriers? I won’t have time to do any shopping now so when you’re in town why don’t you choose yourself something and charge it up to me? And while you’re away I’ll get the Christmas tree.”


Two days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “Are you all organised for the staff party? When I’ve finished drenching those lambs I’ll have to shift the irrigator but I’ll be able to give you a hand after that if I get everything done quickly, oh and of course I will get the Christmas tree.”


One day before Christmas my farmer said to me, “The motorbike ran out of petrol in the back paddock. Could come up in the ute to pick me up and if you bring the chain saw with you we could detour on the way back to get the Christmas tree.”

 For the record, my farmer delivered a tree yesterday.

Election news not news for many


The last 15 months has had some very big news stories, and a survey by UMR Research shows that they overshadowed the election.

Five of the ten highest profile news stories since tracking began in 2003 have occurred in the last 15 months, including four of the top six.

•96% closely followed the Christchurch earthquake and its aftermath, making it easily the highest profile issue since the series started.

•The next two highest issues are the September 2010 Canterbury earthquake (followed by 92%) and the Pike River disaster (followed by 88%).

•The All Blacks’ victory in the Rugby World Cup was followed by 83%. This would have been high enough to be the highest profile story in five of the nine years we have been running this series of questions. The previous record for a sporting event was the 69% who followed Team New Zealand’s victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007.

•The fifth story which is in the all-time top 10 is the June aftershocks in Christchurch. 79% closely followed this story, putting it in 3rd place for 2011 and 10th place overall.

Disasters and rugby were far more engaging than politics:

•65% say that they followed the election closely, putting it in 12th place for 2011. It comes in behind stories like the Rena grounding, the Japanese tsunami and nuclear crisis, August’s polar blast and Queensland’s Cyclone Yasi.

•While this is comparable with 2005 (64%) and 2008 (69%), those elections ranked 7th and 8th in their respective years.

•This suggests that the low turnout at the 2011 election may reflect not so much declining interest in politics, but simply the number of other higher profile stories around this year.

But if people were interested in politics wouldn’t they follow news about the election as well as the other events?

We have far more ways to access news and it is updated almost as it happens. But we can still choose to read/watch/listen to coverage of any or all events and issues, or not, and this year more people chose not to follow the election.

No need to rush


New Zealand First MPs won’t be troubled with their caucus responsibilities until next year.

There’s no need to rush.

If roles were delegated this week the MPs might have to start thinking about them and at least give the appearance they would be earning their salaries.

Besides, just because John Key and David Shearer have already sorted out caucuses of 59 and 34 MPs respectively we shouldn’t expect Winston Peters to be able to sort out eight MPs any faster.

Rumours of sunset still premature


Labour wasn’t popular in the provinces in the 1980s as the government forced farmers to face the real world without subsidies.

Then Prime Minster David Lange did nothing to help matters when he said farming was a sunset industry, manufacturing and tourism would take its place and it wasn’t something farmers would want their sons and daughters getting into.

The party’s new leader David Shearer hasn’t gone that far but he did say:

The Government had the same vision as was used in the 1960s – selling protein off-shore.

Labour believed things needed to be more innovative, he said.

That cheap and unwarranted shot at the government which is firmly focussed on the importance of export-led growth,  is also a shot at primary production, processing and trade.

Where has this man been if he doesn’t understand just how much agriculture and the products we trade have changed since the 1960s?

Adolf at No Minister puts it more bluntly:

Someone needs to take him by the ear and firmly rub his nose in a few home truths about the difference between exporting butter, lamb carcases and sides of beef to Great Britain (1960s) and the vast myriad of value added products manufactured in New Zealand and exported by Fonterra; the remarkable development of luxury specialist cuts of beef, lamb and venison, sold all over the globe (2011.)

A man who’s worked with the world’s hungry should understand the importance of protein and anyone aspiring to lead New Zealand ought to understand just how good we are at converting grass to protein and that protein to export dollars.

Had it not been for that the world is demanding more of that protein and other primary products we’d have had an even tougher time weathering the natural and financial disasters that have hit us in the last three years.

Rumours of agriculture being a sunset industry are not just premature, they’re wrong. If anything the growing demand for food from the rest of the world makes what we produce even more valuable.

Agriculture isn’t the only thing we do well and the broader our export base the better the country will be.

But we need those other industries as well as agriculture not instead of them and we don’t need another Labour leader who shares Lange’s opinion of farming.

December 20 in history


69 – Vespasian, formerly a general under Nero, entered Rome to claim the title of emperor.

217 – The papacy of Zephyrinus ended. Callixtus I was elected as the sixteenth pope, but was opposed by the theologian Hippolytus who accused him of laxity and of being a Modalist, one who denies any distinction between the three persons of the Trinity.

1192  Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the Third crusade.

1522 – Suleiman the Magnificent accepted the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who were allowed to evacuate. They eventually settled on Malta and became known as the Knights of Malta.

1803 – The Louisiana Purchase was completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.

1865 Elsie De Wolfe, American socialite and interior decorator, was born  (d. 1950).
1868 Harvey Firestone, American automobile pioneer, was born (d. 1938).
1894  Sir Robert Menzies, twelfth Prime Minister of Australia was born (d. 1978).
1901  Robert Van de Graaff, American physicist and inventor, was born  (d. 1967).
1907  Paul Francis Webster, songwriter, was born  (d. 1984).
1913 The Great Strike of 1913, which began in late October when Wellington waterside workers stopped work, ended when the United Federation of Labour (UFL) conceded defeat.
Waterfront strike ends

1927  Kim Young-sam, first civilian President of South Korea after a series of dictatorships, was born.

1944  Bobby Colomby, American musician (Blood, Sweat & Tears), was born.

1945 Peter Criss, American drummer and singer (Kiss), was born.

1948 Alan Parsons, British music producer and artist, was born.

1951 The EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho becomes the first nuclear power plant to generate electricy.  The electricity powered four light bulbs.

1955 – Cardiff was proclaimed the capital city of Wales.

1957  Billy Bragg, English singer and songwriter, was born.

1973 Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, was assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid.

1984 The Summit tunnel fire, the largest underground fire in history, as a freight train carrying over 1 million litres of petrol derails near the town of Todmorden in the Pennines.

1987 History’s worst peacetime sea disaster, when the passenger ferry Doña Paz sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines  killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).

1988 The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was signed in Vienna

1989  United States invasion of Panama: The United States sent troops into Panama to overthrow government of Manuel Noriega.

1995  NATO began peacekeeping in Bosnia.

1996 NeXT merged with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.

1999 Macau was handed over to the People’s Republic of China by Portugal.

2007  Queen Elizabeth II became the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.

2007 – The painting Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904), by Pablo Picasso, was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art, along with O Lavrador de Café, by the major Brazilian modernist painter Candido Portinari.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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