Taking lots to give back less

August 11, 2014

Labour’s promise of “free” doctors’ visits for superannuitants will cost us all and most who receive them will pay more than they save.

Labour plans to raise the age of eligibility to 67.

The idea that someone doesn’t have enough to go to the doctor, which for most people isn’t very often, but at the same time doesn’t need superannuation for two years defies logic.

Retirees will also be hit by the Labour/Green Capital Gains Tax when they sell businesses and assets they’ve spent years working hard to build up.

Many older people are on fixed incomes which will be hardest hit by inflation which would increase under the out of control spending Labour and the rag-tag radicals it will need to prop it up plan to indulge in.

Like a lot of Labour’s promises the “free” doctors visits would be funded by taking a lot to give back less, and it is poorly targeted.

Dim Post points out that those 65 and older are the age group which suffers the least material hardship.

Labour’s policy is a generous subsidy to the least needy group in the country. It’s also a very large group of people with high health-care needs and giving them ‘free’ access to healthcare is going to cause a huge increase in demand for primary health services. What’s Labour’s plan to increase the supply of GPs?

So why this policy? Because of this chart recently released by the Electoral Commission showing voter enrolment by age, which speaks for itself: . .

The elderly are a big voting block. Labour has recognised this and, just like last week’s xenophobic policy on foreign investment, it’s trying to out-Winston Winston in the hope of winning some voters back from New Zealand First.

However, the group they are trying to bribe are also those most likely to be appalled at the thought of Kim Dotcom’s Internet Mana puppets in parliament, let a lone in government.

They are also likely to spare a thought for the future if a conversation last week is anything to go by.

A woman called by a National Party volunteer said she’d voted Labour in the past but would be backing National this year because the country still needed to be careful about its spending for the sake of her grandchildren.

National steered us through the recession, taking the edges of the worst effects by borrowing to help the most vulnerable.

Although the worst is behind us, we still need careful financial management to reduce debt and continue economic growth.

The left’s desperate tax and spend policies will sabotage that.


Rabble of competing parties

July 14, 2014

Tracy Watkins writes on the problem the Internet Mana Party, and Laila Harre, pose for the Greens:

. . . The threat posed to the Greens by IMP is three-fold. There is likely to be a crossover in their appeal to the same voters, though maybe not to a huge extent. A lot depends on whether voters fix on Dotcom, or Harre, as the face of the Internet Party. Unless Harre succeeds at radically remaking herself, they would seem to speak to vastly different constituencies.

IMP’s resources will create a lot of noise, however, and the Greens’ static polling suggests it is suffering from a lack of oxygen due to the focus on the minor parties – not just IMP, but the Conservatives. At this stage in the electoral cycle the Greens would normally expect to be climbing in support. Signs of a more aggressive approach toward the media this week suggest a sense of urgency about pushing back.

But the biggest threat posed to the Greens by IMP is that which it also poses to Labour. Its presence turns the Left-wing bloc into a rabble of competing parties and interest groups.

The Greens have been hugely focused in recent years on making themselves less scary to the average voter and presenting the Greens as a credible, known and stable partner in any future Labour-Green government (though Labour hasn’t always appreciated their overtures).

That message is undermined the weaker Labour gets, and the more reliant it looks to be on IMP to get there.

But Labour is sufficiently weakened that it can’t decisively rule IMP out. And given her history, Harre won’t make it easy for Labour or the Greens to do so – either before or after the election if she is in a position to force her way into a seat around the table.

Dim Post sheds some light on the  toxicity of the Green Internet Party relationship:

In the hypothetical Labour/Green/New Zealand First/Mana/Internet Party coalition that voters are being asked to put in charge of the country this election year, its hard to figure out which inter-party relationship is the most poisonous, or who would like to destroy whom the most. But now that Laila Harre’s gone and started pre-releasing Green Party policy on the same day as the Greens and justified it on the basis that she worked for the Green Party for fifteen months, and therefore owns all their intellectual property, somehow, I’m gonna nominate the Green/Internet Mana relationship as, from here on in, probably the most toxic. . .

The weaker Labour is the more power any of the wee parties it would have to rely on for a majority become.

Many of those in the centre are already put off by the prospect of the Green Party in government.

Add the Internet Mana party pulling even further left and bad blood between Harre and the Greens and the rabble of competing parties looks even less like a government in waiting and more and more like a recipe for radical left policies, infighting and instability.


Right on top of blog rankings

July 1, 2014

Open Parachute’s monthly blog rankings show the right on top:

Visit Rank Blog Visits/month Page Views/month
1 Whale oil beef hooked 1758095 2957997
2 Kiwiblog 445721 771086
3 The Daily Blog 218234 345266
4 The Standard 201495 443470
5 Auckland Transport Blog 155853 160244
6 Throng New Zealand 53729 94004
7 The Dim-Post 53509 75134
8 Sciblogs 39662 50631
9 Liturgy 36160 50478
10 Keeping Stock 33807 53244
11 No Right Turn 26757 35029
12 Homepaddock 26471 36951
13 NewZeal 21726 35094
14 No Minister 20898 27292
15 Music of sound 14879 18833
16 Imperator Fish 13552 17547
17 13th Floor 12544 17630
18 Save our schools NZ 12355 14307
19 Keith Johnson Wellington NZ 12120 12574
20 Offsetting Behaviour 11835 16377

 

The combined total of the top left-wing blogs, which are at third and fourth, is still less than Kiwiblog which is second and miles from Whale Oil in first place.

Dim Post from the left is seventh and Keeping Stock from the right is 10th. I’m at 12, No Minister, which is more right than not is at 14th and Imperator Fish which is left is 16th.

I ditched Sitemeter because I kept getting a window asking me to sign in to it and now rely on StatCounter to record visits:

stats6.14

 

 


1 + 1 – disaffected = ?

March 25, 2014

Dim Post does the maths on a possible Mana and Internet Party alliance:

. . . I guess both parties are going into this with the fantasy that 1% of the vote plus 1% of the vote will give them 2%, thus an extra MP. But if the merger costs each party more than 50% of their potential voters because the complementary party is anathema to them then they’ll go backwards.

What Dotcom, who is bankrolling the Internet Party, and Mana have in common is an extreme dislike of John Key and National. But the enemy of you enemy isn’t always your friend, nor one your other friends will stomach.

If you’re an adviser to Kim Dotcom or Harawira then a merger must look awful attractive, because it’ll make your life a whole lot easier. But voters don’t vote for parties on their track-record of making life easier for their MPs and staffers.

Most voters also dislike naked opportunism and tend not to like extremists. This Facebook Post from Jevan Goulter introduces several of those from the radical left:

Guys, MANA DOTCOM!
Ok so we would be helping a rich fella with a bunch of money, but it would obviously help MANA to! I’m not saying I think it’s a good idea either, and it’s only my opinion, I speak on behalf of myself, just wanna be clear! The parties would not merge, we would share a list, and guaranteed MANA would have the top spots to start! If we did it, the difference could be 2 or 3 MANA MPs, and we remain our own party! It’s not all doom and gloom ! Could be the difference of having say John Minto and Te Hamua Shane Nikora in the House! Didn’t mention Annette Sykes cause she will already be there. . .

The though of those radicals in parliament is enough to drive centre voters to the safe haven of National.

There is a chance that an alliance of the Internet and Mana parties could get more of their MPs into parliament than either could achieve alone.

But the risk of butchering their own support and frightening enough swinging voters to the centre right is greater.

One plus one, minus the disaffected from the individual parties could deliver less support for both and more for the party which can be depended on for stability.


Another bad week for Labour

February 20, 2014

Labour’s had another bad week.

David Cunliffe lurched into loony territory with suspicions that the Government’s paying someone to keep tabs on other Party leaders, following revelations of Winston Peters visiting the Dotcom mansion.

Then he asked a photographer to delete a potentially embarrassing picture had to make an apology.

This was followed by the news that some TVNZ employees have been using their employer’s premises for  Labour Party activities.

And then Cunliffe did the peculiar my-house-isn’t-as-big-as-his about which Danyl at Dim Post writes:

. . . (I keep seeing people on my twitter feed demanding to know the difference between Shane Taurima and, say, Mike Hosking or Paul Henry. I think the main difference is that if Mike Hosking wanted to set up a fundraising operation inside TVNZ the National Party wouldn’t let him because it would look terrible and destroy his career).

But it was a clip from another TV3 story the same night that’s really haunting me. Here’s a screen-grab of Labour leader David Cunliffe standing in front of a super-luxury yacht company explaining that his $2.5 million dollar mansion is just a ‘do-up’, after criticising Key for living in a nice house.

It’s hard to compress so much failure into a single image. Up to now I’ve felt that the outcome of the election is too close to call. The sides are pretty even, small changes at the margins could have huge impacts on the results. But my gut feeling now is that Labour’s support will collapse and National will win a third term. It feels like a replay of the 2011 election in which Labour keep doing baffling, stupid things and then demand to know why the media is biased against them and how anyone could like John Key. People don’t want idiots running their country.

Among the comments in response to this are:

My thoughts exactly. Labour’s refusal/inability to accept returning to government is not a divine right is getting really irritating. . .

So it’s not a triad of evil born from the GCSB, Cameron Slater and John Key that is destroying the righteous partnership of Kim Dot Com and David Cunliffe. Bugger me. . .

. . . Well there was a theory that Cunliffe was a smart operator. Indeed I thought all the “gaffs” he made that helped undermine Shearer were all actually very clever political ploys. Now I just think he hasn’t a clue and they were all just bumbling gaffs that worked out for him. . .

. . .

I guess the trouble is, have a well-to-do Harvard educated former consultant now technocrat masquerading as a working-man populist was always going to be somewhat of a gift to the NP startegists. It’s pretty hard to set the agenda when you can be easily painted as part of the problem.

Unfortunately the only other leadership options to date have been careerist jobsworths, who think they’re owed a living by the proles.

I think Danyl is on the money though – this feels like the moment that the LP blew it.

People looking for the problem need look no further than this thread: It’s the media’s fault, it’s Crosby Textor, it’s some sort of conspiracy…No it really isn’t. Labour just needs to stop being idiots. Until people are prepared to take a critical look at their own party and stop blaming everyone else, nothing will change. . . .

Sanctuary, stop trying to blame the media for the cock ups of Cunliffe and the Labour Party. What’s happening is the Labour Party is simply demonstrating what we all know deep down. Labour has neither the talent and policies nor the fitness to govern at the moment. . .

I popped in to see the Young Nats at Otago University’s O-Week tent city on Monday and asked a visiting MP how things were.

She said the contrast between MPs in parliament was palpable.

National MPs were united and positive, when she looked over to the other side of the House the body language was clear – Labour is divided and disheartened.

Whaleoil has another example of this:

. . . A mate of mine who travels a lot has noticed a distinct difference between National MPS and Labour MPs. He sits in the Koru lounge in Wellington and Auckland and observes.

He has noticed that Labour MPs operate in cliques. When other caucus members walk in or past they rarely acknowledge each other, in fact disdain is the most prevalent demeanour. There is real and palpable hostility between some members of the caucus.

In contrast National MPs have a more collegial atmosphere, holding court and joking and enjoying each others company. There is a stark difference.

National look and act like a winning team.

Labour look and act like petulant school children with no apparent teamwork unless forced by media arrangements to grin and bear the company of their peers

I think all of this shows that Labour and in particular David Cunliffe are in a deep malaise…so deep they cannot survive it. . . .

If this isn’t bad enough, Chris Trotter writes of the canaries in the mine  as The Daily Blog’s poll shows the Green Party overtaking Labour:

. . . For the first time that I could recall the Greens were in the lead – and there was nothing narrow about it. Labour hadn’t simply been dislodged into second place, it was running third behind the National Party. Overnight the Greens had moved from a rough parity with Labour to a 2:1 advantage.

I shook my head in disbelief. It had to be a rogue result. But this morning, when I checked, there it was again, a practically identical result. Greens 32 percent; Labour 22 percent; National 21 percent; Mana 9 percent; Internet Party 5 percent; Act 4 percent; NZ First 4 percent; Conservatives 2 percent; Maori Party 1 percent; United Future 0 percent.

Okay! I know, I know! There’s nothing in the least bit scientific about this sort of on-line poll. The 382 participants in the survey were all self-selected and the Daily Blog’s audience is a very long way from being representative of the wider New Zealand population.

But, don’t you see, that’s the whole point! If you exclude the National Party types getting to “know thy enemy”, the people who regularly read The Daily Blog, are overwhelmingly more Left than Centre. If Labour has shed 10 percentage points from the readership of this blog, its most sympathetic of audiences, how long can it be until the big, media-commissioned polls – Colmar Brunton, Reid Research, DigiPoll – all register a similar sudden collapse of Labour support among the general population?

Isn’t it highly likely that the readers of The Daily Blog are playing the role of the canary in a coal mine? Wouldn’t you expect an audience of such ideological sensitivity to register much earlier than the rest of the population Labour’s infuriating and increasingly obvious inability to win the 2014 election? . . .
Call it the wisdom of crowds. Announce that we’ve reached a tipping point. Put it down to a change in thezeitgeist. However 2014 is later explained by the political scientists, I want the readers of The Daily Blog – the canaries in a coal mine – to remember that they were the ones who succumbed to the gaseous exhalations of Labour’s political decomposition long before anybody else.

That poll wasn’t scientific but the Fairfax Media-Ipsos one was and it had more bad news for Labour and its leader:

. . . Prime Minister John Key is by far our most liked and trusted politician, with 59.3 per cent of people liking him, and 58.7 per cent also trusting him.

Key is also well ahead of his opponents as preferred prime minister on 51.2 per cent.

Labour leader David Cunliffe appears to be more polarising, with those who like and trust him, and those who don’t, falling into roughly equal camps. His rating as preferred prime minister is just 18.2 per cent.

The bad news for Cunliffe is that only Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Kim Dotcom are more disliked. Harawira and Dotcom are also the least trusted. . .

To top it off,  while the party isn’t responsible for the electoral fraud of one of its local body candidates,  the sentencing of Daljit Singh is another bad news story in a bad week for Labour.


Wild greens behind urbane front

November 15, 2011

This media release from the man who wanted to be known as Jo Henky was made at 11:23 this morning:

We were saddened to hear National Party president Peter Goodfellow attacking the messenger on Checkpoint last night, rather than responding to the message.

If National disagrees with the policies “The Rich Deserve More” and “Drill It! Mine It! Sell It!” they should simply say so.

To our knowledge no billboards were harmed in the delivery of this message. The stickers can be easily peeled off.

We do not represent a political party. We are private individuals who are disturbed by the policy directions of the current Government, and who seek to engage in the political process at election time in a light-hearted and hopefully humorous way.

Yet by then he had already been outed as Jolyon White, a Green Party member.

NewsTalkZB’s Felix Marwick tweeted more than an hour earlier that the Green Party might have been behind the sabotage and that Russel Norman was going to front the media. He followed up with a tweet saying it was the partner of Norman’s EA.

Norman continues to deny any knowledge of the attack on the billboards:

Dr Norman said he learnt of Mr White’s involvement only after other Green members recognised his voice in a radio interview this morning.

I accept his word and that the actions of White and whoever else was involved, whether or not they were Greens, were not acting on the party’s behalf.

Norman’s EA has been stood down and White has resigned from the party.

I have found no reference to any assurance from any other MP or office holder in the party. Until they give one it is legitimate to ask did any of them know anything about the plan or its execution before this morning?

Regardless of the answer to that question, Dim Post gets to the nub of the damage this has done to the more moderate brand the party has been striving to cultivate.

He says it highlights the disparity between the party’s target voters who aren’t anti-National and its activist base who are a bunch of anti-National anarchists.

The Greens are often criticised for being  watermelons  – a green shell with a red centre. This episode shows that for all the effort the party has put into taming its image, there are still some wild greens behind the urbane front.

 

 

 


Will Labour complain about this too?

October 5, 2011

The latest Australian Women’s Weekly has a cover story about John and Bronagh Key and Phil and Mary Goff.

The stories are about the couples and their relationships and each concludes with a Q&A with the MPs.

It’s a little heavy on gush which my, admittedly rare,  readings of the AWW suggest is not unusual for this magazine, but the stories do show something of the people behind the politicians and both are treated equally.

But I bought the magazine because I saw the Keys smiling at me from the cover. It was only when I went to read it that I noticed the Goffs in the corner.

Will Labour follow up their complaint about the PM’s RadioLIVE slot with a complaint about the unequal cover coverage too?

Apropos of the complaint, Labour would have been on much stronger ground complaining that the radio programme breached electoral or broadcasting rules had Goff not asked to host a show too.

P.S.

Dim Post has  something else for someone to complain about..


Tanty, tanty – updated

September 23, 2011

Tantrums can be entertaining for observers, but they’re rarely amusing for the victims, especially if they’re being defamed.

You would think someone aspiring to be in government might have learned something from the Supreme Court’s granting Erin Leigh’s appeal to sue a former public servant who provided Trevor Mallard with information with which he attacked Leigh in parliament.

But no, Mallard is now besmirching the reputations of several other innocent people in a misguided and unfounded attack on Bill English.

I’m not going to dignify it with a link you’ll find more than enough about what he’s done on the following blogs:

Over at Keeping Stock, Inventory 2 asks what’s upsetting Trevor?

Whaleoil uses it for yet another post on how Labour isn’t focussing on what matters.

Matthew Hooton, one of the people maligned by Mallard, entitles his response Mallard goes mad.

Mallard’s post not only attacks these people it hurts his party and its members, which is what I assume has motivated a brief post entitled Please at Imperator Fish.

The public tantrum is stupid for many reasons including the fact that the daily political round-up at Liberation  which prompted it, covers a range of views and clearly states who sponsors it.

Any link between one of them and the Finance Minister is drawing a bow so long the archer has directed the arrow to his own foot.

Update: Dim Post has some  advice for Mallard in Deep thought punching your weight edition.

Update 2: Kiwiblog reckons Trevor has joined the truthers and birthers.


Appearance and arguments vs realities in political coverage

August 29, 2011

Where on this graph would you put most political coverage:

It comes from a speech Why Political Coverage is Broken  by Jay Rosen who explains the grid:

Bottom left: Appearances rendered as fact. Example: the media stunt.

Top left: Phony arguments. Manufactured controversies. Sideshows.

Bottom right: Today’s new realities: get the facts. The actual news of politics.

Top right. Real arguments: Debates, legitimate controversies, important speeches.

It is much easier to cover stunts and sideshows than to report and seriously analyse real news, debates, legitimate controversies and important speeches.

Rosen blames this on what he calls three impoverished ideas: politics as an inside game;  the cult of savviness and the production of innocence.

The inside game is :

 When journalists define politics as a game played by the insiders, their job description becomes: find out what the insiders are doing to “win.” Reveal those tactics to the public because then the public can… well, this is where it gets dodgy. As my friend Todd Gitlin once wrote, news coverage that treats politics as an insiders’ game invites the public to become “cognoscenti of their own bamboozlement,” which is strange. Or it lavishes attention on media performances, because the insiders are supposed to be good at that: manipulating the media . . .

He explains the cult of savviness as:

In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere, thoughtful or humane.  Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.)

Savviness is that quality of being shrewd, practical, hyper-informed, perceptive, ironic, “with it,” and unsentimental in all things political. And what is the truest mark of savviness? Winning, of course! Or knowing who the winners are . . .

. . .  Now in order for this belief system to operate effectively, it has to continually position the journalist and his observations not as right where others are wrong, or virtuous where others are corrupt, or visionary where others are short-sighted, but as practical, hardheaded, unsentimental, and shrewd where others are didactic, ideological, and dreamy.  This is part of what’s so insidious about press savviness: it tries to hog political realism to itself.

But even more insidious than that is the positioning effect . . .

On the production of innocence he says:

. . . I mean ways of reporting the news that try to advertise or “prove” to us that the press is neutral in its descriptions, a non-partisan presenter of facts, a non-factor and non-actor in events. Innocence means reporters are mere recorders, without stake or interest in the matter at hand. They aren’t responsible for what happens, only for telling you about it. When you hear, “don’t shoot the messenger” you are hearing a journalist declare his or innocence . . .

Rosen uses examples from the USA and Australia but it wouldn’t be hard to find many here too.

But he doesn’t only identify problems, he has a better idea for political reporting, based on the grid above:

My suggestion is to report appearances as just that: mere appearances. Which would be a way of jeering at them, labelling them as not quite real. So the appearances section would be heavy on satire and simple quotation. . .

Appearances, then, means downgrading or penalizing politicians who deal in the fake, the trivial, the merely sensational. In other words: “watch out or you’ll wind up in the appearances column.”

Under realities we find everything that is actually about real problems, real solutions, real proposals, consequential plans and of course events that deserve the title: political events.  This is the political news proper, cured of what Tanner calls the sideshow .

But then there’s my other axis. Arguments and facts. Both are important, both are a valid part of politics . . .

 . . . Now imagine all of today’s political news and commentary sorted into these four quadrants. This becomes the new portal to political news. Appearances and realities, arguments and facts. To render the political world that way, journalists would have to exercise their judgment about what is real and what is not. And this is exactly what would bring them into proper alignment with our needs as citizens.

We have some very good political journalism in New Zealand which treats appearances and arguments for what they’re worth and deals seriously with realities and facts.

But we’d all be better served and  informed if there was a lot more of that.

Hat Tips: Dim Post and Larvatus Prodeo.


SMOG pollutes campaign clear-air

August 23, 2011

National Party MPs’ blogs have been labelled boring.

As an active member even I will admit there is some truth in that accusation but there is a very good reason for that. Exciting posts usually generate publicity of the wrong kind.

There is no better example of that than the SMOG (Social Media Own Goal) over at Red Alert which Keeping Stock details:

We’ve blogged a bit about SMOG’s lately; Social Media Own Goals. Well, Clare Curran has scored an absolute beauty today. Over at Red Alert, and under the heading The importance of being Labour, she blogged:

    Have had a gutsful of the white-anting of Labour from both the right and the left of politics.

White-anting is an Australian expression. It means undermining . .

Now Clare, as she proudly points out is a “public relations professional”. So what was she thinking when she followed he first post up with one entitled The importance of being Labour #2? There she blogged:

 And on another note, re white-anting; the attempts by the Greens to encroach on Labour territory . . .

Comments in response from the left aren’t impressed with this born-to-rule attitude and include:

  • Greens white-anting Labour?

    Surely you mean, contesting the same constituency rather than ‘encroaching’, right?

    You seriously think you have the unquestioning allegiance of my vote as a worker?

    I don’t think you need to look to far to see why mobilising labour in NZ is facing a few hurdles with this kind of thinking.

Discussion also raged on Twitter, prompting Dim Post to post on why the left should vote strategically.

 And Imperator Fish asks if Red Alert is damaging Labour.

The answer to that is yes.

There are only so many column inches in papers or minutes of air time available for politics and the last thing any party needs is to have them covering this sort of spat.

It would be better to be accused of being boring than producing SMOG that pollutes the clear air needed to run a positive campaign.


It’s only (other people’s) money – updated

May 1, 2011

Quote of the week from Dim Post:

Sometimes I just want to strap the entire spectrum of left-wing politicians into dentists chairs and patiently explain to them – using chisels and barbed wire – that most the state’s wealth comes from ordinary people working hard and then giving a huge chunk of their income to the government, so spending it is a sacred trust not an endless opportunity to squander it all on gimmicks and whims and political stunts.

He was prompted by Hone Harawira’s decision to force a by-election but every politician and public servant – anywhere on the political spectrum – ought to take heed of and be governed by this premise. 

Not the dentists’ chairs, chisel and barbed wire, tempting though the use of those would be on some; but the hard working and sacred trust not to be wasted bits.

Respect for other people’s money appears to be a foreign concept to Harawira. His decision to force an entirely unnecessary by-election reinforces his arrogant attitude to public funds.

Early in his parliamentary career he was dressed down by his then-party co-leader Tariana Turia for accepting koha from constituents he helped.

Then he went AWOL while leading a  parliamentary delegation to the EU so he could visit Paris.

Further evidence of his profligacy was found in the release of MPs’ travel expenses last week.

In the first three months of this year Harawira spent, $42,971,  almost as much as the entire Maori Party on travel. He excuses that because of the size of his electorate and it’s distance from Wellington.  Te Tai Tokerau is 16,370 square kilometres in area but Rahui Katene whose Te Tai Tonga electorate is about 10 times bigger at 161,443 square kilometres in area spent less than half the amount Harawira did – $20,462. Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean whose Waitaki Electorate covers 34, 888 square kilometres, more than twice the size of Harawira’s, claimed $15,671.

Now he’s going to force the waste of half a million dollars on a by-election.

He reckons it’s for democracy but Keeping Stock has indentified a more venal reason – if  Harawira wins back the seat and returns to parliament as the leader of the Mana Party he’ll get the extra funding that comes with that.

However, once he resigns he’ll lose his MP’s salary and the ability to claim for his expenses which means for the duration of the campaign it won’t be our money he’s spending.

The timing of the by-election is at the discretion of the Prime Minister. Every day further out the date of the by-election is set will be a day when the public purse is relieved of the need to contribute to Harawira’s upkeep. Let’s hope it’s a very long campaign.

UPDATE:

National hasn’t stood candidates in Maori electorates in the alst last couple of elections. The Maori Party has an agreement not to compete with Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau. If it sticks to that could the Labour candidate win and leave the Mana Party in the dust at its first outing?


Should we start a support group?

April 16, 2011

My mother told me it was rude to read at the table.

The reasons for that are obvious when other people are present. We might not all be deipnosophists but we ought to at least try to carry out a conversation with our tablemates.

But I am not convinced by the arguments against reading while eating when dining alone.

There is a risk that the food might not end up where it’s intended and cause a mess on the reading matter, the diner or table but practice makes perfect (even with spaghetti).

There is also the risk that one who has to read while eating might then feel compelled to eat while reading which could lead to unhealthy consumption. But a good book is a wonderful distraction to assist with resisting the temptation to overindulgence of the culinary kind.

There is also the argument that the diner ought to savour the dinner and not be distracted from taste and texture by texts. That is the most compelling, but if I can multi-task I can also multi-taste, feeding mind and body at a single sitting.

The reading eater doth protest too much youthinks?

Maybe, but at least I’m not alone.  Dim Post can’t eat without distraction either.

Should we start a support group or just admit that eating and reading are two of life’s great pleasure and, good manners or not, combining the two enhances both?


All the news and just the news

April 7, 2011

When I started working for a newspaper continuous feeds from the New Zealand Press Association kept us up with what was going on in New Zealand and around the world.

They gave us the news – just the news without comment or bias -and all the news. If it happened and mattered, NZPA reported it and it was up to newsrooms all over the country to use it as it was or give it a local angle, or not,  as we chose.

The decision by Fairfax Media to withdraw from NZPA is concerning.

Kiwiblog says: 

I think the decision is a disaster for parliamentary reporting, and bad for the overall news industry.

NZPA are the one news agency in Parliament that cover every bill before the House. When other media are safely home in bed, there will be a NZPA reporter noting what time the House rose, and what bill was being debated at the time. Likewise on select committees, they are often the only news agency there (apart from the excellent Select Committee News, which is subscription only).

What I also liked about NZPA is they complement the other press gallery agencies. The other agencies naturally focus on stories which sell – which will make for good television, can run on a front page etc. But NZPA are not about “sexy” stories. They just faithfully produce concise factual and relevant stories about what happened – reporters in the old fashioned sense.  And not just about Parliament, also from the courts and elsewhere. . .

Dim Post says:

It seems to have been standard practise in news rooms for time immemorial, for journalists and news editors to take a PA story and stick their own by-line on it and publish it, so PAs footprint on the media landscape is even larger than it may have seemed; even the media executives who closed it down after a hundred and thirty years probably don’t realise quite what they’ve destroyed.

 He also notes that NZPA is the only news outlet which isn’t dependent on advertising and  Peter Griffin says the closure of NZPA would hurt science:

The death of NZPA is really the end of an era in New Zealand journalism. NZPA for over one hundred years has been the agency of record for breaking news stories. Newspapers might write more fulsome and colourful accounts than NZPA produces, but the agency can be counted on for serving up short, concise, timely and generally accurate news alerts on a wide range of subjects – from general news and politics, to business sport and science.

A few weeks back I sat in NZPA editor Kevin Norquay’s office to talk about that last topic – science. NZPA is a bastion of decent coverage of science-related issues in New Zealand and that is largely down to one individual – NZPA veteran reporter Kent Atkinson. Part of the reason for my visit was to thank NZPA for its commitment to covering science issues and giving Kent the leeway to pursue a round he loves. . .

The great thing about NZPA is its reach. A decent science story, or any story for that matter, can run in numerous daily metropolitan and regional newspapers. While Stuff and the Herald Online will pile in to cover the populist stories – Darren Hughes’ night time exploits, the plastic waka etc , often with rolling coverage during the day, NZPA can be relied on to fill in the blind spots, with dispassionate reports. That safety net of coverage will soon be gone for our major mainstream news organisations. . .

But where some see a threat others see an opportunity:

In response, Fairfax’s main rival, APN, announced it would establish a new national news service to “counter the Fairfax move”, its chief executive Martin Simons said.

“We will have discussions with key NZPA staff and work with New Zealand’s independent publishers to tailor a news service to meet the nation’s content needs.”

The Otago Daily Times already shares content with APN titles such as The New Zealand Herald. This alliance was important to strengthen the company’s South Island bases in Christchurch and Oamaru, Mr Simons said.

Until 2006, New Zealand newspapers shared stories through NZPA, but commercial tension between Fairfax and APN forced NZPA to become an independent news source.

Allied Press managing director Julian Smith said, depending on the review, it was likely Allied Press, which publishes the Otago Daily Times, owns numerous southern community newspapers and has an interest in the Greymouth Star, would join the APN-led service.

The new service would be more like NZPA’s original model of newspapers sharing all content and could lead to an improvement in quality, he said.

I hope he’s right.

The internet gives us access to more news than ever before but unlike NZPA it isn’t always just the news which we can trust to be factual and unbiased.

Without an organisation like NZPA it won’t be all the news either.

UPDATE: Karl du Fresne calls it a seriously retrograde step and says:

Even more worrying is that the existing “black holes” in news coverage will become wider and blacker still. Under the old co-operative model, NZPA had the entire country covered . . .

The net result is that New Zealanders will know less about themselves. Parts of the country that have already faded from view since 2005 because of attenuated news coverage may become damned-near invisible, other than when a catastrophe occurs (as at Pike River).

Try as I might, I can’t see this as anything other than a seriously retrograde step. If the creation of NZPA in 1880 helped bind the country together, then its demise is likely to have the reverse effect. . .

Already sparse national coverage of provincial and rural news will become sparser.

The media is one of the bridges over the urban-rural divide and the death of NZPA will tear up several of its planks.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 30, 2011

My cricket World Cup squad – Imperator Fish mixes politics and sport.

Just one day – Liberty Scott reminds us what we must remember on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Macdoctor compares state of the nation addresses  –  and shows a picture really is worth 1,000 words. He also does the numbers on asset sales in Sell Down.

Crime scene cooking and bags of milk – Around the World on cultural differences of the culinary kind.

Don’t believe the lies – Kiwiblog figures what’s wrong with what Labour’s saying. He also gives a plug for WordCamp NZ.

Let us not march – Dim Post has word clouds from this week’s state of the nation speeches.

Two year Review – Pablo at Kiwipolitico looks back on two years of blogging.

Phil Goff – the beehive – Whaleoil shows how one silly idea could lead to another.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 11, 2011

Efficiency over etiquette – Offsetting Behaviour on whether manners matter. He also points out the flaws in reatailers’ campaign to charge GST on mail order purchases under $400  from overseas in transaction costs and tax.

Chart of the day deadwood edition  – Dim Post on which opposition MPs get in the Herald how often.

Rejecting drivel in favour of thoughtful writing – Eye to the Long Run on words and phrases to avoid.

Amusing crime uound up – Anna Sandiford, Forensic Scientist at Sciblogs, whos crime can make you laugh.

Golf Sierra Lima: lessons learned –  Latitude 44 reflects on a gliding accident.

And if you click no other do click this: Apres nous, le deluge – Andrew Geddis on the first cabinet after the election which begins:

 Phil Goff (Prime Minister) (Sitting astride a Harley-Davidson whilst dressed in a leather jacket, motorcycle helmet and red-top gumboots, with a lamb carelessly tossed across his shoulder): If we could come to order, please. I think we might begin proceedings with a motion of thanks to the man who has made this day possible .. .


Did you see the one about . . .

December 19, 2010

(Brain) farting in church – Credo Quia Absurdum Est on politics at the school’s end-of-year mass. While you’re there he’s also got 10 top money savings tips for the new Stadium SOuthland.

Hypotheses please – Dim Post graphs mentions of NZ in Goggle’s new toy the ngram viewer.

Before you think about booking a cheap flight – laughs (and some bad language) at Brian Edwards Media.

Han(g)over for Lawyers – Cactus Kate writes an alternative media release.

A real live book – A Cat of Impossible Colour has the first copy of her book.


When life imitates satire

November 13, 2010

Like the many people who left comments I read Dim Post’s announcement that he’s leaving the blogosphere, at least temporarily, with regret.

His decision was prompted by life imitating satire when Peter Dunne handed Jonathan Coleman a two-year-old speech to introduce a Bill to parliament.

It happened again when Winston Peters complained about the dearth of investigative journalism because of foreign-owned media (and do check the comments, some are priceless).

And another example:

But it was Donatella Versace who got the big award of Woman of the Year for her charity work; she was presented with it by a grateful Janet Jackson after Versace made the funeral outfits for the Jackson family at brother Michael’s funeral.

“We were dressed in Versace we knew we were dressed in love,” she said.

But that story wasn’t all bad, it did introduce a new (at least to me) noun of assemblage:

As a starve of models from around the world gathered ahead of the lingerie lines much awaited preview show.

A starve of models, if it wasn’t so sad it would be very funny.


Green thumbs on Critical Mass

October 26, 2010

My wandering round the blogosphere for Critical Mass had a green-thumbed theme, visiting gardeners who blog.

Out from Under My Hat has gardening advice, musings and photos from Art Mama whose philosophy is live simply, love uniquely, learn abundantly, create beauty.

Heritage Irises is a celebration of these beautiful bulbs by Iris Hunter, from East Taratahi in the Waiarapa. I was hooked from the moment I read the quote at the top:

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.
Sara Stein

The photos are stunning and accompanied by interesting background information.

Our Wee Farm is the work of Laura who shifted with her husband from a Glasgow townhouse to a 24 acre farm in Northland. Her posts cover their vegetable garden, animals, sewing, fishing, friends and recipes with lots of photos. She has also entered the 365 day photographic journey challenge – posting a photo a day which you can see at livelifelovethroughthelens.

We ran out of time to do justice to Robert Guyton, nurseryman, gardener, columnist and new Environment Southland councillor who celebrates a giant daikon (Japanese radish).

The inspiration for the green-thumbed theme came from Quote Unquote who started competitive gardening after reading about Dim Post’s Labour Weekend.


Quote of the week

October 2, 2010

“. . . Union leaders loved the idea that they were generals leading troops into battle in the great historic conflict between Capital and Labour, their members just wanted to go to work and get paid a decent wage. . .”

Dim Post


Did you see the one about . . .

August 26, 2010

Temps perdu – Dim Post on cultural trends.

Clothing and control and wearing the burqa – In A Strange Land on covering up.

We’re still waiting for a Sydney Opera House – Karl du Fresne on the moot that architecture is the mother of all arts.

Shakespeare Stoatspring finds political lessons in literature.

We got to the hospital – a sore toe nearly trumps a caesarean at Private Secret Diary.

This is what the teacher unions  fear – Kiwiblog on how teachers make a difference.

Milking Time – rivettingKate Taylor on sheeps milk and her contributions to the farming year ahead.


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