Some members more equal than others

September 24, 2010

Labour is selecting its Dunedin North candidate this weekend.

Three people have been nominated to replace retiring MP Pete Hodgson, who has held the seat for four terms, are  New Zealand Nurses Organisation national adviser Glenda Alexander. current electorate committee chair and warden of Selwyn College, David Clark ; and former electorate chair Simon Wilson.

Taking part in the selection process will be three Labour Party council representatives appointed by head office, including a Dunedin-based representative; two Labour Electorate Committee representatives, selected on the day; one panel member elected by members attending; and the “popular vote” from members, which will count as one vote.

That gives six panel members and a vote from the floor.

In some selections, Labour’s head office officials have stacked the panel to ensure their preferred candidate is selected.

However, it is unlikely the head office appointees will go against the wishes of Dunedin North members.

The last time that happened, Labour lost the seat to National candidate Richard Walls, in 1975.

What’s the difference between Labour Party members in Dunedin North and those in Mana where unions out-voted members?

Big News has the story of that selection  which is confirmed by this comment from Alex in the North  at Kiwiblog.

If all Labour members are equal, those in Dunedin North must be more equal than their comrades in Mana.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog has more on this.


Another march for democracy

November 21, 2009

While assorted groups marched for democracy in Auckland, people were marching in Oamaru for a similar cause:

They were part of the street parade in the Victorian Heritage Celebrations.

Waitaki Mayor, Alec Fmailton, Mayoress Heather, the Queen of Victorian Oamaru and celebration committee chair, Sally Hope travelled by horse drawn carriage:

Also on parade, though not necessarily in support of votes for women were foot soldiers of Alf’s Imperial Army:

Emergency services were represented with an ambulance . . .

. . . a fire engine  . . .

. . . and a policeman:

There was steam power . . .

. . . and pedal power:

And if Donna Demente’s car was a few decades ahead of the Victorian era, what it lacked in historical authenticity was more than compensated for by its artistry:


10 reasons why women should have the vote

September 19, 2009

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah has a list of 10 reasons why the women of New Zealand should have the vote.

They came from a leaflet published by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and include:

4. Because women are less accessible than men to most of the debasing influences now brought to bear upon elections, and by doubling the number of electors to be dealt with, women would make bribery and corruption less effective, as well as more difficult.

5. Because in the quietude of home women are less liable than men to be swayed by mere party feeling, and are inclined to attach great value to uprightness and rectitude of life in a candidate.

6. Because the presence of women at the polling-booth would have a refining and purifying effect.

7. Because the votes of women would add weight and power to the more settled and responsible communities.

8. Because women are endowed with a more constant solicitude for the welfare of the rising generations, thus giving them a more far-reaching concern for something beyond the present moment.

9. Because the admitted physical weakness of women disposes them to exercise more habitual caution, and to feel a deeper interest in the constant preservation of peace, law, and order, and especially in the supremacy of right over might.

How could you argue with that?


Women’s Suffrage Day

September 19, 2009

We’ve come a long way since September 19, 1993 1893 when Governor Glasgow signed the Electoral Bill  giving women the right to vote.

                                                 


In praise of democracy

August 24, 2009

Last week was the the first time, New Zealand’s Prime Minister and the next four in Cabinet were out of the country at the same time. That left the fifth ranked minister, Tony Ryall in charge.

Life, and government, continued as normal.

Democracy worked.

Let’s not take that for granted when at the same time, at least 26 people in Afghanistan were killed in election-related violence.


Happy birthday GBS

July 26, 2009

Some quotes in honour of Geroge Bernard Shaw’s birthday:

* A fasion is nothing but an induced epidemic.

* A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.

* A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

* Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men.

* Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

*A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

*England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

* Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

* A little learning is a dangerous thing, but we must take that risk because a little is as much as our biggest heads can hold.

* Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich–something for nothing.

* If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.

* A veteran journalist has never had time to think twice before he writes.

* If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.

* Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?

* Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.

* Lack of money is the root of all evil.

* Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.

* The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed but that he cannot believe anyone else.


Some public servants toy with OIA requests

December 2, 2008

The free flow of information is one of the foundation stones of democracy, that’s why we have an Official Information Act.

But  some public servants are playing games with OIA requests.

The Office of the Ombudsmen is concerned some parts of the public service have been deliberately delaying responses to Official Information requests.

In the office’s Annual Report to Parliament, Chief Ombudsmen Beverley Wakem says the practice is unacceptable and subverts the purpose of the legislation.

Beverley Wakem says the Office has observed an increasing tendency by a few government departments and Ministerial offices to ignore the provisions of the Official Information Act over the timing of responses to requesters.

“While in some cases this was clearly a misunderstanding of their obligations, there is also a regrettable tendency to game the system and delay responses until the complainants’ interest in the matter had passed,” she says.

Ignorance is no excuse and it appears that some of the delays are a deliberate attempt to hide information.

New Zealand has a proud record of being relatively free of corruption.  This sort of game playing by the previous administration and their staff threatens that so I hope John Key makes it clear to his cabinet that their obligation is to ensure they and staff in ministries and departments make information freely available unless there is a very, very good reason for not doing so.

Kiwblog suggests that departments and offices which have been playing games be named and shamed.

Roarprawn gives an example of an answer to an OIA request being edited.

goNZofreakpower links this to the ACC blowout and lists the major offenders.


Democracy

November 8, 2008

A selection from Democracy Quotes.

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost. –  Aristotle.

It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives. – Dorothy Thompson.

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.-  E.B. White.

The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don’t agree with. – Eleanor Holmes-Norton.

The unconscious democracy of America is a very fine thing. It is a true and deep and instinctive assumption of the equality of citizens, which even voting and elections have not destroyed. – G.K. Chesterton.

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. George Bernard Shaw.

Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term ‘we’ or ‘us’ and at the same time decreases those labelled ‘you’ or ‘them’ until that category has no one left in it. – Howard Winters.

Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity. Irving Kristol.

We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or any one class. But we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having. – Jane Addams.

Voting is one of the few things where boycotting in protest clearly makes the problem worse rather than better. – Jane Auer.

The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people’s differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience. – Jerome Nathanson.

Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant. – John Simon.

Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame. – Laurence J. Peter.

Decision by democratic majority vote is a fine form of government, but it’s a stinking way to create. Lillian Hellman.

We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home. Voting is the first duty of democracy. – Lyndon B. Johnson.

To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness. –  Mohandas K Ghandi.

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. – Robert M Hutchins.

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. – Rosa Luxemburg.

Democracy means not “I am as good as you are” but “You are as good as I am.” – Theodore Parker.

I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education. – Thomas Jefferson.

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men. – Voltaire. 

 


I’m voting

November 8, 2008

I’m voting today:

Because I can.

Because people fought and died to give the right to do it.

Because there are other places where people still don’t have that right.

Because my vote will be counted.

Because I believe one vote can make a difference.


NZ 7th in world for press freedom

October 24, 2008

New Zealand has moved up from 15th to 7th place in an international ranking of media freedom  by Reporters without Borders.

It’s hard to say exactly what that means because while being better than the absolutely awful doesn’t make you good, nor does being worse than the absolutely perfect make you bad.

However, by and large the media is pretty free in New Zealand which is something to be grateful for, and also something we should guard jealously.

Parliament’s move to stop TV filming anyone who was not speaking is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as imprisonment of journalists who fall foul of the powers that be, but it’s still a restriction of media freedom.

The Electoral Finance Act largely left reporting and comment in the media alone, but Newstalk ZB may have breached the Act because of something said on a talkback. Again this is minor in comparison with restrictions in some other countries, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t justified in being concerned about it.

So while we can take some pride in our ranking, we should see it as an achieved or perhaps even a merit but there’s still work to be done if we want to get an excellent.

Update: Poneke reckons the ranking makes us a bastion of free press.


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