None of our business

October 26, 2008

A journalist who wants to be taken seriously shouldn’t ask silly questions and a paper that wants to be taken seriously shouldn’t publish them.

Carolyne Meng-Yee asked Peter Davis if he showered with his wife and if he enjoyed sex and the HOS was silly enough to publish it.

There are few occasions when those would be legitimate questions for a journalist to ask and this interview wasn’t one of them.

It’s none of our business.

(And this is not an invitation for comments on the Davis-Clark personal life because that’s not our business either).


New word from a glasshouse

October 19, 2008

I live in a glass house papered with typso typos.

It’s what happens when you type faster than you spell and proof read for sense so grasp the words but fail to notice that individuals letters have been transposed.

That means I am in absolutely no position to throw stones at other people’s typographical errors but I couldn’t resist this from Matt McCarten’s column in the HOS:

This is the first time most of us have seen Key in a prolonged setting where he was tested, in this case by the prime pinister.

Prime pinister – isn’t that delightful? Especially in this context where Helen Clark was trying to keep Key pinned down.

P.S. In light of John Ansell’s post on McCarten’s misnaming Key as Keys, I noted that the column gets the name right – but that like the typo may be due to the paper not the writer.


Organised crime behind melamine milk poisoning

October 18, 2008

Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing papers suggest organised crime was behind the melamine poisoning of milk in China.

“The Chinese milk supply has been targeted by Chinese organised crime, which has been adding as a byproduct of the chemical industry, melamine, to raw milk supplied to processing plants,” the paper said.

“The harmful impact on consumers, particularly Chinese infants who are the most at-risk group, is the most serious concern,” the paper said.

. . . San Lu which makes infant formula and in which Fonterra has a 43% stake was one of the companies chich inadvertently used poisoned milk.

The document has been released to the Weekend Herald under the Official Information Act, although large chunks of the report had been deleted.

Among the deleted sections was one on New Zealand’s “international responsibilities”, while another missing piece covered the response by Chinese authorities to Fonterra’s concerns about the milk.

However, part of the paper indicates tension between Fonterra and Chinese authorities.

“Fonterra advises that by mid-September all of the adulterated product should have been accounted for or consumed,” the paper told the Government.

“This suggests that despite the authorities’ reticence to support a full product recall, Sanlu/Fonterra have managed to achieve a similar outcome through a variety of other methods.”

That supports Fonterra which says they did everything they could once they knew there was a problem.

The company has always said its first concern was the chidlren who were poisoned and their families but there were also concerns over its, and New Zealand’s reputation.

However, The Hive  quotes from another Herald story (which isn’t on line) that says that in China it’s Australia which is being associated with the scandal rather than New Zealand.

Perhaps we can thank Cactus Kate for that.


How much is enough?

October 8, 2008

Tracy Watkins thinks John Key is offering enough:

A year ago, Key might have risked over promising and under delivering on those amounts.

But that was a vastly different world..

The failure to deliver more may peel off some soft support among those who were leaning toward National but, because of Working for Families, will not be a whole lot better off.

But the rest will probably agree with Key that it’s a package that’s right for the times.

So is it enough? You’d have to say yes.

Colin Espiner says the tax plan is tailored for the times.

Herald commentators  aren’t impressed:

John Armstrong says families on low wages are not so well off with National but:

Overall, the tax package wins plaudits for being fiscally responsible. It won’t win big in electoral terms because of its generosity – someone on $80,000 only gets $6 a week more than they would from Labour’s package.

As for National’s plan for rescuing the (sinking) economy, there was nothing new today. We’re still waiting.

Audrey Young says:

National’s tax package does what it promised in some respects, doesn’t meet promises in other respects and offers some complete surprises.

One of the surprises was the promise of an independent earner rebate. . . .

. . . But the biggest concern will be National’s commitment to reverse what many see as protections in the KiwiSaver scheme that Labour recently passed.

They stopped a loophole allowing employers to effectively deny KiwiSaver employees pay increases on the basis that they have done deals on KiwiSaver contributions.

National sees this through different glasses, giving employers freedom to give non-KiwiSaver employees pay rises equivalent to their contribution increases to KiwiSaver employees.

Excepting one is pay rise for today, another is one you can cash in only at 65.

It is a recipe for exploitation and unfairness.

Brian Fallow says:

At first glance the big transfer of money in National’s tax package is from KiwiSaver accounts into people’s pockets.

In the short term that gives them more to spend at a time when private consumption is flatlining.

But you can’t have your cake and eat it.

. . . Other elements of the plan are also disappointing from the standpoint of lifting our long-term growth rate – less of an increase in infrastructure spending, and the scrapping of the research and development tax credit.

At least it does not make the rather grim fiscal outlook released by the Treasury any worse. But it is only marginally better.

 Inquiring Mind has done a round up of comments on the blogosphere, which covers a range of views, some of which as he puts it can charitably be described as a partisan perspective.

UPDATE: goNZofreakpower  and Dave Gee  weren’t on Inquiring Mind’s list but are also worth a look.

UPDATE 2: So is Liberty Scott.


Trainer heard Peters thank Glenn

September 9, 2008

The Herald reports that horse trainer Paul Moroney has backed up Owen Glenn’s version of his part in the New Zealand First donations debacle.

Mr Moroney said in an affidavit to Parliament’s Privileges Committee today that he was at a lunch at Karaka in 2006 at which Winston Peters thanked Mr Glenn for his help.

Mr Glenn has also produced a phone record from 14 December 2005 showing that he called Mr Peters’ mobile, a conversation that Mr Glenn says was to “inform him that I agreed to contribute”.

He also said he had consulted with Labour Party president Mike Williams before contributing so to make sure it would not be seen by Labour as “being unhelpful to its own interests”.

Mr Moroney in his affidavit said that on 31 January 2006 he was at the lunch at Karaka with Mr Glenn and Mr Peters.

He stated: “During the luncheon discussion, part of the conversation between Mr Peters and Mr Glenn involved Mr Peters thanking Mr Glenn for his help to him.

“Mr Glenn had told me before the lunch that he was meeting Mr Peters over the lunch, because he had made a donation to assist Mr Peters fund his legal expenses concerning the Tauranga election result. I recall Mr Glenn telling me that Mr Peters had contacted him to ask for his help with this.”

The committee is yet to hear Peters’ response and regardless of what they find the court of public opinion might be more interested in what Glenn said before he appeared:

Mr Glenn earlier today indicated he was offended by the way he had been treated by Mr Peters and Prime Minister Helen Clark, who he told of the donation in February. Helen Clark did not reveal she was told until recently, instead saying she took Mr Peters at his word that he had not been given a donation.

Asked if he was offended, Mr Glenn said “well, wouldn’t you be?”

He said he was keen to clear the air, but had a “clear conscience” over his role in giving the donation, and it was up to Mr Peters to deal with the legalities of it as the recipient.

“I’m not responsible for [Mr Peters.] I did what I did and I’ve got a clear conscience. I didn’t even know what the rules of engagement were for receiving donations.”

Mr Glenn has previously donated to the Labour Party, including $500,000 in 2005 and an interest-free loan of $100,000 subsequently.

He would not rule out donating to political parties again, but indicated a change in the personalities involved would be required.

“One thing about politicians – they come and go.”

He said he was saddened it had come to a question of his honesty, saying it was “like a school yard squabble.”

“I would have thought our MPs would behave in a better manner all round. They should be running the country. I think New Zealanders have a right to be better represented.”

That’s a very sad indictment on everyone involved in the whole debacle.

[Update: Tim Donoghue from the Dominion Post covers Glenn’s evidence here.


ETS high cost no benefit

September 9, 2008

Brian Fallow’s column in this morning’s Herald points out the uncertainties over the cost of carbon.

The price the Government is assuming for the purpose of reporting its liability under the Kyoto Protocol in the Crown accounts is €11 ($23) a tonne.

But the high-quality, low-risk units New Zealand companies with obligations under the scheme are expected to favour are trading for €20.

And is the money being paid for this hot air going into research or developments which will improve the environment? No, and it might even make it worse:

It would be a perverse outcome for the global climate if growth of the pastoral farming sector in New Zealand were hobbled by climate change policy here, only for the demand for dairy products and meat it might have satisfied to be met instead by production elsewhere in the world whose carbon hoof-print (emissions per litre of milk or kilogram of meat) is greater.

Agriculture isn’t the only area where exporting emissions is likely and that’s because of a basic flaw in the Kyoto protocol. It takes a country by country approach to a global problem which means carbon emissions might be reduced in one place but increased elsewhere by moving production.

We pay the economic and social cost and the whole world pays the environmental cost because the ETS will add to the costs of production, transport and consumption but won’t reduce emissions.

It’s an expensive feel-good achieve-nothing fraud.


Casualty list

August 30, 2008

Stuff has a list of Helen Clark’s ministerial casualties. The ones who have been sacked, suspended, stood down or forced to resign under her leadership since 1999 are:

June 28, 2000 – Dover Samuels

October 31, 2000 – Ruth Dyson.

February 23, 2001– Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle (Alliance)

July 23, 2003 – Harry Duynhoven.

February 20, 2004 – Lianne Dalziel.

November 4, 2004 – John Tamihere

May 16, 2005 – David Benson-Pope.

October 19, 2005 – Taito Phillip Field

March 20, 2006 – David Parker.

July 27, 2007 – David Benson-Pope (again).

August 29, 2008 – Winston Peters.

If losing one minister may be regarded as a misfortune and two looks like carelessness, what can be said about losing a dozen?

The explanations for the ministerial falls from grace on Stuff is here and The Herald has photos here.


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