Land of Hope and Glory

April 23, 2018

Adam at Inquiring Mind reminded me today is St George’s Day which prompted me to find this:


Bending branches

February 7, 2018

Government ministers are bending the branches of government to breaking point, Helensville, and lawyer, MP Christopher Penk says.

By constitutional convention, respective roles played by our three branches of government are deliberately distinct. The “executive” (which is led by cabinet but includes all the civil service) basically runs the country. The “legislature”, aka parliament, passes laws defining the limits of that executive power, among other things. And the “judiciary” (our court system, more or less) applies the law, deciding each case on its individual merits in accordance with existing legal norms – without fear or favour and free from political pressure.

The doctrine demanding a separation of powers is a sacrosanct safeguard within our partly written, partly unwritten constitution. Its importance lies in preventing any one individual or group from gaining an outsized portion of power.

Taken together, constitutional safeguards have helped to keep New Zealand blessedly free of corruption in our short but proud history. Enjoying such stability and certainty is an international advantage that we should guard jealously and zealously. . .

He gives four examples where ministers’ behavior has weakened the constitutional framework:

* Andrew Little’s comments on a perceived problem with bail

* Little’s comment on the decision not to prosecute over the CCTV collapse.

* Clare Curran’s tweet on a police prosecution.

* Grant Roberston’s threat to make an example of landlords illegally raising rents.

In this country it’s pretty hard to hold a government to account when it bends, or even breaks, constitutional convention. That’s the thing about conventions, of course: for better and worse, they’re almost impossible to enforce. The flexibility of our constitutional arrangements is actually a real strength most of the time (whatever advocates of a comprehensive written constitution may say), so this is not a criticism but an observation.

That said, with few firm legal constraints in the form of “black letter law”, political accountability becomes all the more important. As Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that is where we come in. And take note, ministers: we will.

The transition from opposition, where there is greater leeway for criticism, to government and cabinet where much more circumspection is required, isn’t always easy.

But that’s no excuse for bending the branches of government as these ministers have.

Adam Smith writes on this at Inquiring Mind.

 

 


Let’s tax this

August 13, 2017

Labour’s campaign slogan should be let’s tax this:

The illogic of the selective water tax is summed up by ComradeJacinda on Twitter:

 

Hat tip: Inquiring Mind


Facts missing from figures

February 11, 2012

The Sunday Star Times put the sale of the Crafar Farms into perspective with a story on how much land has been sold to people from which countries in the last five years.

Figures released by the Overseas Investment Office show that of the 872,313 hectares of gross land sold to foreign interests over the past five years only 223 hectares were sold to Chinese.

People from the landlocked principality of Liechtenstein had purchased 10 times more land than the Chinese – 2,144ha in the same period.

The top buyers were the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Israel. The United States had 194 purchases for a total of 193,208ha.

The figures do not show if there are any New Zealand ownership shares involved.

Nor do the figures show how many of the purchasers were sales from foreigners to foreigners and Inquiring Mind points out the difference between net sales and gross sales.

Nor do they include how much land owned by foreigners was sold back to New Zealanders.

Last week the sale of land to foreigners got a lot of attention but the purchase of foreign-owned shares in Dairy Holdings by New Zealanders has not got nearly as much attention.

Yet this sale brought a 25% share in 58 farms covering nearly 15,000 effective hectares, back into local ownerhsip.

Another omission from the discussion on sales of land to farmers is facts on what they do with it.

A farm in our neighbourhood is owned by  Frenchman. We have friends from Wales and the United States who own land here and whose farming and environemtnal practices and community involvement would put many New Zealand farmers to shame.

It isn’t where the owners come from, it’s what they do with the land that really matters.


Did you see the one about . . .

December 5, 2010

A Thanksgiving Day lesson in political philosophy – Jeff Keren guest posts at Not PC on individual effort vs collectivism.

TVNZ Whizzing through the years – Brian Edwards looks back with the help of YouTube.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Keeping Stock puts a price on the gifts and includes the Irish version of the song.

Movie Economics – Macdoctor and the difference between giving and not taking.

Political crystal ball – the Veteran and No Minister looks ahead to 2011.

And now for something completely different – Food court flashmob does the Hallelujah Chorus at Inquiring Mind.

Welcome to Commissioner Marshall – Stephen Franks on the Police COmmissioner to be.

Uesless information for you – Lindsay Mitcehll on who’s paid for what.

Dulce et decorum est – Monkey with Typewriter on miners.

And a couple I missed from Tuesday’s Poem:

Orphans by Michele Amas – Mary McCallum on losing parents.

Not A Tuesday Poem – Ballad for Molly – Cadence pays a musical tribute to her Scottish grandmother.


Employment law changes neither anti-worker nor anti-union

July 26, 2010

Dear Helen Kelly,

Re: the  letter you wrote to Prime Minister John Key:

On the issues – we oppose them. They show a disregard for the working people of this country. They paint a picture of workers as lazy, untrustworthy skivers, that are out of control and need to be disciplined. Workers are painted as acting deceitfully when applying for positions (so 90 days are important) taking sickies, misusing union membership and a range of other generalisations that demean the people we work with every day. Employers on the other hand are painted as generally fair minded people that will use all powers reasonably.

On the contrary, the proposed changes are a mild rebalancing of employment law which paints a picture of employers as slave-driving, untrustworthy bullies who are out of control and need to be disciplined. Employers are painted as acting deceitfully when employing people (the 90 days trial for smaller businesses hasn’t been the disaster you and other unions feared), who will demand sick-notes for every absence, hate unions and a range of other generalisations that demean the people who work hard to provide jobs for people every day. Employees on the other hand are painted as generally fair minded people who will use all rights reasonably.

Apart from the slur on working people this analysis disregards the fact that many employers are not “fair minded individuals” but corporate entities that employ CEOs and managers to maximise profit.

Apart from the slur on employers this analysis disregards the fact that the majority (I think it’s 90%) of New Zealand businesses are small to medium enterprises employing fewer than 10 people. Maximising profits is sensible practice which makes the business and jobs more secure and enables employers to offer improved pay and conditions for staff.

 We work with global corporate entities in this country who comply with a wide range of minimum standards and regulations which make their work practices decent here. These same corporates work in unregulated economies employing people under atrocious conditions.

Ms Kelly, you can’t use employment law in New Zealand to fight the global war on capitalism.

You might however, try to understand to see that the measures the government is proposing help employers take on new workers and make workplaces better for existing staff who suffer if another worker doesn’t fit in or work well.

You might also admit that unrestricted access to workplaces has been abused by some union representatives.  The Inquiring Mind has a good example of this.

You may not believe that employers like happy workplaces for their own sake, but surely you can see they have a vested interest in ensuring their workers are happy because that helps productivity.

You however, have a vested interest in unsettling and upsetting workers because that will help you increase membership.

You sound like you’ve come to believe your own rhetoric which has turned a small employer-friendly molehill into a worker and union hating mountain. That’s not good for employers or the people they employ.


Virus warning

July 24, 2010

Yesterday Adam at Inquiring Mind blogged he was feeling unwell .

Today  I’ve got a sore throat and other symptoms which  warn of the onset of a cold.

Could this be blog to blog infection and if so would it have been caused by a computer virus?


%d bloggers like this: