Word of the day


Susurrus – a soft rustling or whispering sound; a murmur.

Debate transcripts on-line


Political tragics will be delighted with the news that debate transcripts will be posted on-line within 2 1/2 hours.

Hansard will remain the official recording of Parliament, but after debates a draft version of speeches, called the Draft Transcript, will be published.

The final version (subject to minor correction), called the Daily Debates, will then be released on Parliament website debate by debate.

This will be a good resource for journalists, bloggers and anyone else with an interest in what our MPs are saying.

Parliament Today is already posting transcripts of Question Time.

Quotas beat bureaucrats


Europe is concerned about a dwindling supply of fish and over-fishing.

The quota system used in New Zealand could solve the problem but as Tim Worstall points out the prescription being suggested is more of what caused the problem:

Their solution? More bureaucrats and politicians.

They fail to note that those places which have solved this problem have done so by insisting upon private ownership of the right to fish a particular stock. Essentially, moving fishing from being a form of hunting to being a form of farming.

It’s a classic Commons Problem one solved by, as Hardin said they could be, allocation of private property rights. But this being the nef they’d never actually say that because, well, you know, property is theft, innit?

The problem from the bureaucrats point of view,  with the obvious solution is that it requires little if any input from them and therefore puts their jobs at risk.

Raise threshold or hurdles


The Electoral Commission is urging us all to have our say on the MMP review.

Among the points up for disccussion are:

  • The 5 percent party vote threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats;
  • The one electorate seat threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats;
  • The effects of population change on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats;
  • The effect of a party’s candidates winning more seats than the party would be entitled;
  • The capacity of a person to be both a constituency candidate and a list candidate;
  • A party’s ability to determine the order of candidates on its party list and the inability of voters to rank list candidates in order of preference;
  • The capacity of a list MP to stand as a candidate in a by-election;

What isn’t up for discussion is the size of parliament and Maori Seats.

I’ll blog about most of the points separately in the next few days but will start with the threshold.

Gravedodger reckons it should be higher than 5% and I agree – unless the hurdles which organisations must jump to register as political parties are raised.

It’s ridiculous that they need recruit only 500 members.

That’s a tiny number of people to sign up when you look at the potential power MMP gives the wee parties in parliament and even more so in government.

Any other organisation which tried to change the world, or at least this part of it, with the support of no more than 500 members wouldn’t get very far.

All roads lead to Waimumu


For the next three days all rural roads will lead to Waimumu where the biennial Southern Field Days are being held.

If you’re in the mind to buy something for the farm or just kick tyres, Waimumu is the place to be.

More than 26,000 people are expected to visit the more than 600 exhibits on the 38 hectare site?

Sales are a barometer of rural confidence.

Given returns are better than reasonable and the higher dollar makes imports less expensive, exhibitors will be expecting to do a lot of business.

Councils borrowing too much


From Question Time on Thursday:

Local Authorities—Increase in Council Debt Since 2002

6. JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister of Local Government: What reports has he received on increases in local government council debt since the Local Government Act 2002 was enacted?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Local Government): The local authority financial reports show that council debt has quadrupled from $2 billion in 2002 to over $8 billion today. The increase

in debt is significantly greater than any other sector, and is noted by local government analyst Larry Mitchell to be the No. 1 issue facing that sector.

Jacqui Dean: Has local government borrowing slowed in response to the global debt crisis, in the same way that households and businesses have become cautious of debt?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: No, household debt grew sharply between 2000 and 2008, but stabilised in 2009 and has reduced in 2010 and 2011. Farm debt has also responded prudently to the global financial crisis and not increased since 2008. In contrast, council debt has been growing at a faster rate—$500 million of borrowing in 2007, $800 million in 2008, $1,100 million in 2009, and $1,800 million in 2010. This ongoing increase in local government debt is not sustainable.

Jacqui Dean: Why is this increase in debt a concern?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: There are three concerns. The first is that council debt is actually just rates deferred. The greater the debt the less opportunity there is in future for containing the cost of rates for households and businesses. Secondly, council debt contributes to New Zealand’s overall indebtedness. Households and businesses are doing their bit by pulling back their borrowing, and local government needs also to tighten its belt. My third concern is that for some councils their level of debt-servicing costs is becoming so great that it puts the financial viability of their council at risk.

Central government and households have tightened their belts and are doing their best to reducedebt.

Councils must cut their costs and reduce debt  too.

February 15 in history


509 Khosrau II was crowned king of Persia.

1564 Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer and physicist, was born (d. 1642).

1637 – Ferdinand III became Holy Roman Emperor.

1804 – Serbian revolution started.

1805 – Harmony Society was officially formed.

1812 Charles Lewis Tiffany, American jeweller, was born (d. 1902).

1820 Susan B. Anthony, American suffragist, was born  (d. 1906).

1835 – The first constitutional law in modern Serbia was adopted.

1852 – Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children, London, admitted its first patient.

1874 Sir Ernest Shackleton, Irish Antarctic explorer, was born  (d. 1922).

1877  Louis Renault, French automobile executive, was born (d. 1944).

1879 American President Rutherford B. Hayes signed a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

1882 The first shipment of frozen meat left New Zealand.

First shipment of frozen meat leaves NZ

1891 AIK was founded at Biblioteksgatan 8 in Stockholm by Isidor Behrens.

1898 – Spanish-American War: The USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbour, killing more than 260.

1906 – The British Labour Party was formed.

1909 Miep Gies, Dutch biographer of Anne Frank, was born (d. 2010).

1909 The Flores Theatre fire in Acapulco, 250 died.

1942  The Fall of Singapore. Following an assault by Japanese forces, British General Arthur Percival surrendered. About 80,000 Indian, United Kingdom and Australian soldiers become prisoners of war, the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. The Sook Ching massacre began.

1944 The assault on Monte Cassino, started.

1944 Mick Avory, British drummer (The Kinks), was born.

1945  – John Helliwell, British musician (Supertramp), was born.

1947 David Brown, American musician (Santana), was born (d. 2000).

1950 – The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China signed a mutual defense treaty.

1951 Jane Seymour, British actress, was born.

1952 – King George VI was buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

1959 Ali Campbell, British singer and songwriter (UB40), was born.

1960 Mikey Craig, British musician (Culture Club), was born.

1961 – Sabena Flight 548 crashed in Belgium, killing 73, with the entire United States Figure Skating team, several coaches and family.

1965 – A new red-and-white mapleleaf design was adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner.

1970 – A Dominican DC-9 crashed into the sea during takeoff from Santo Domingo, killing 102.

1971 – Decimalisation of British coinage was completed on Decimal Day.

1972 – Sound recordings were granted U.. federal copyright protection for the first time.

1976 – The 1976 Constitution of Cuba was adopted by the national referendum.

1978 New Zealand beat England in a cricket test for the first time.

New Zealand beats England in a cricket test for the first time

1980 Television One and Television Two (formerly South Pacific Television) under the newly formed Television New Zealand went to air for the first time.

1982 The drilling rig Ocean Ranger sank during a storm off the coast of Newfoundland, killing 84 rig workers.

1989 Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan: The Soviet Union officially announced that all of its troops have left Afghanistan.

1991 The Visegrád Agreement, establishing cooperation to move toward free-market systems, was signed by the leaders of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.

2001 First draft of the complete Human Genome is published in Nature.

2003 Protests against the Iraq war occurred in over 600 cities worldwide. It is estimated that between 8 million to 30 million people took part, making this the largest peace demonstration in the history of the world.

2005 – YouTube, was launched in the United States.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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