The People’s Report


The People’s Report – the result of the inquiry into violence funded by Owen Glenn – which was released yesterday claims a “dysfunctional” court system, “broken” social services and a binge-drinking culture form major barriers to protecting children and stopping family violence.

Its’ recommendations include:

  • Fragmented services brought to a single point of access;
  • A code of rights and an independent forum where victims and survivors can be heard and air their grievances;
  • Recognition child abuse and domestic violence happens in all parts of society and is often considered normal;
  • Address poverty and social differences and require agencies to collaborate;
  • Recognise professionals, frontline workers and legal professionals need better training.
There might be merit in the first two and the third is true – contrary to popular belief domestic violence and child abuse aren’t restricted to the poor and uneducated.
That spoils the imperative for the fourth point – addressing poverty and social differences.
There are very good reasons for addressing the causes of poverty but if domestic violence happens in all parts of society relieving poverty won’t solve the problem.
Another recommendation is to remove the presumption of innocence so the burden of proof falls on the alleged perpetrator.
That is a perversion of one of the tenets on which our justice system is built – that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.
Another contributing factor mentioned is binge drinking.
There are lots of good reasons for tackling that too – but does alcohol fuel violence or do violent people drink more?
I’ve seen lots of drunks who aren’t violent people sober and none have become violent when drunk.
Domestic violence and child abuse are dark stains on our society.
The causes are complex and solutions must be based on more than anecdotes.

The full report is here.

Bureaucracy makes wheels of progress turn slowly


Quote of the day:

He says bureaucracy makes the wheels of progress turn slowly, and he’s excited to be part of something that won’t be hindered by Government officials. Lance O’Sullivan

He was explaining that he’d joined a joined the private inquiry into how to stop child abuse and domestic violence set up by Owen Glenn “because it has nothing to do with the Government”.

I hope those who keep calling for the government to do something take note. Sometimes, perhaps even often, something is best done by independent individuals and groups who are neither part of nor beholden to government.

Not the doing but catching and fixing


Andrea Vance thinks New Zealand’s halo is slipping:

Frequently topping global transparency indexes, the world believes Kiwis operate the world’s cleanest government. Its politicians are rated incorruptible: fraud, bribes and sleaze-free.

And yet, of late, domestic politics has been dominated by a series of grubby scandals. Take Taito Philip Field’s conviction in 2009 as the watershed. Since then MPs have been exposed for rorting their expenses to pay for blue movies and gluttony, golf clubs, flowers and massages, family holidays and bucketloads of booze. . .

She goes on to list various scandals, though misses two of the ones which best-fit the label corruption – Labour’s pledge card rort and Winston Peter’s dance around the truth of the donation from Owen Glenn.

However, bad as these are, it’s not the doing of dastardly deeds which puts a country’s reputation at risk. Even the best countries can’t claim a total absence of corruption from every citizen.

It’s the catching of the corrupt and fixing that really matter.

Our reputation is based on relatively few acts of corruption and a good record for catching the wrong-doers and making changes to close the loopholes through which they wriggled.

Fields was accused, tried, found guilty and imprisoned. Speaker Lockwood Smith has made MPs’ expenses public which has acted as a very effective restraint on their spending. . .

The halo is slipping, it’s not yet tarnished.

There is no room for complacency but our reputation for lack of corruption shouldn’t be threatened while those who do the catching and fixing keep ahead of those who do the doing.

Do we need another inquiry?


Owen Glenn’s $80m donation to fight family violence and child abuse is an extremely generous one.

Otara in South Auckland, one of the country’s poorest urban centres, is to be used as the “pilot” community in the implementation of a series of programmes, and will immediately receive $8m from the Glenn Family Foundation.

The rest of the $80m pledged by Mr Glenn is to be doled to various organisations nationwide over coming years.

Mr Glenn has also offered to fund a Royal Commission.

His generosity is unquestioned and is a wonderful example to others with the means to help others.

But do we need another inquiry?

The causes of violence and abuse are well known, any spare money should be spent on addressing them rather than yet more talking about them.

The $158,000 question


The $158,000 question still hasn’t been answered: when is Winston Peters going to repay the money he owes us?

Credo Quia Absurdum Est has tried to find out:

I have asked him – in person (never seen an about turn so fast), via email (several emails, no answers) and during a phone-in interview on the radio where they activated the kill switch, the pinkos.

Someone might also want to ask how he’s funding this campaign since he can’t do it at the taxpayers’ expense.

Would there be any link between that funding and all the advertisements on Trackside?

There were certainly links between funding and racing when Peters was last in a position to dispense largesse.

I blogged on that three years ago and included this which was in the print edition of the Sunday Star Times but not online:

What Racing Has Done For Winston:

* Vela family, with interests in NZ Bloodstock at Karaka and Pencarrow Stud in the Waikato, reportedly donated at least $150,000 in amounts under $10,000 between 1999 and 2003 to NZ First.

* Wealthy breeder Sir Patrick Hogan, of Cambridge Stud, launched his own campaign to get NZ First back into parliament, spending thousands of his own money on newspaper advertisements. The racing industry also backed the party through its Fair Tax campaign.

* Billionaire expat Owen Glenn, a racehorse owner, donated $100,000 to NZ First’s electoral challenge of the 2005 result in Tauranga.

What Winston Has Done For Racing:

* Reduced totalisator duty to 4% from a headline rate of 20%, pumping around $32 million a year into the industry.

* Decreased the tax write-down period for stallions and broodmares, encouraging more people to buy racehorses for tax advantages and potentially benefitting breeders by millions.

*This year’s Budget allocated a further $19m for a co-sponsorship scheme over a three-year period to enable “substantially higher prize money offered by the creme de la creme of New Zealand races.”

It is most unlikely that Owen Glenn will be donating to Peters this time round but others in the racing industry might not yet have had their fingers burned. If they were thought they were likely to make money from more of this sort of policy helping his campaign wouldn’t be so much a donation as an investment.

Glenn donating $100m if we keep National-led govt


Owen Glenn has pledged to donate $100 million to youth and education in New Zealand if we still have a National-led government after the election.

Mr Glenn says the money would be invested from primary school through to tertiary education, and beyond to help New Zealand market its products and services overseas.

The story in the link doesn’t stipulate the condition but it is clear  in the video (from 19:44 )Duncan Garner Sean Plunket who was interviewing Glenn asked him directly if the donation was dependent on National and Act winning the next election and Gleen said that was correct.

Rural round-up


Owen Glenn: use science to be innovative:

In the second of a series leading up to the election, Owen Glenn says exporters’ form matters even more than the All Blacks’.

Every four years, rugby puts New Zealand on the world stage. Our exporters do the same every day.

Unlike the All Blacks, when exporters aren’t playing to their full potential, the whole country loses.

With two out of three jobs dependent on it and $4 of every $10 our economy produces generated by it, exporting matters. . .

Lonely bull still waiting for rescue – Kathy Marks:

When Victoria was hit by catastrophic floods in January, a bull named Bernard sought refuge on an island in the middle of a lake.

Six months later, he’s still stranded and his owner is appealing for help to reunite the increasingly bad-tempered animal with his herd. . .

8% rise in lamb numbers forecast – Sally Rae:

Reasonable conditions this lambing should see a rise in the total number of lambs by 2 million – up 8% – pushing export lamb production back towards 20.5 million head in 2011-12.

Export lamb production in 2010-11 was expected to finish at about 19 million head, down 11% on the previous season, according to the ANZ Agri-Focus report for July . . .

Researcher seeks tonic in pasture – Sally Rae:

It is a long way from managing a farm in the UK to being a research fellow in Dunedin – but Dr Marion Johnson has led an interesting life.

Dr Johnson, who grew up in Zambia, the UK and New Zealand, initially studied agriculture at Massey University.

She worked as a shepherd around the Wairarapa before shepherding on hill farms in Wales and Scotland . . .

Feeding out made easier – Sally Rae:

Dave McCabe, a North Otago contractor and farmer, has devised a method of pulling strings from bales on feed-out wagons that saves time and machinery.

Previously, he used a loader to pull out the strings. . .

Collaboration succeeding – John Aspinall:

Prior to 1987, most Crown-owned land in New Zealand was managed by the Lands and Survey Department (L&S).

In 1987, L&S was restructured into the Department of Conservation (Doc), Landcorp and Forestcorp. Most of the commercial-minded senior management people went to Landcorp and Forestcorp.

Doc gained practical hands-on field staff, but many of their management people took a very idealistic view that they would save the environment and could do it alone . . .

Farmers’ web portal winner:

AG-HUB, an agriculture web portal for farmers, has been awarded the Telecommunications Users’ Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) “best of the best” prize at its 2011 innovations awards.

Ag-Hub captured information from on-farm recording devices such as feed readers, effluent irrigators, moisture tapes and weather stations. . .

Fascinating new pastures for dairy cows thanks to innovative farmers – Pasture to Profit:

Many pasture based dairy farmers in both France & the UK are experimenting with mixed pasture swards. These “New Pastures” always include an abundance of clovers & increasingly include herbs such as Chicory & Plantain. The inclusion of the deep rooting herbs adds a completely new dimension to pastures for grazing dairy cows.

These pastures are very different from conventional pastures in many ways. Nitrogen fed pastures tend to be monocultures of ryegrasses. Well managed ryegrass clover pastures are highly productive. The clover content is related to the grazing intensity & the amount of nitrogen used. The mixed pastures offer considerable biodiversity, interesting possible changes to the cows diet, generally higher protein levels but more complex grazing properties. In mixed species pastures some plants are grazed out & its difficult to graze according to every plant’s requirements. However these new pastures might well enhance the health benefits of grass fed milk . . .

Alpaca breeders get serious about business – Jon Morgan:

Peter McKay gives a demonstration of the mating ritual of the alpaca. It’s not what you think. The Hawke’s Bay farmer tilts back his head, opens his throat and goes “orgleorgleorgleorgle”.

This rumbling gargle is the male alpaca’s foreplay. It starts the female ovulating. Mr McKay and wife Tessa have 160 alpacas on their 235-hectare sheep and beef farm at Maraekakaho.

Mrs McKay tells what happens next. “They mate sitting down. It’s called a cush,” she says. “Then we wait two weeks to see if she is pregnant. If she goes into the cush for him, it didn’t work the first time. If she spits at him, it did.” . . .

Wine moguls thrive in hard year – Michael Berry:

Most Marlborough-linked wine magnates listed in this year’s National Business Review Rich List managed to increase their wealth in a tough year for the wine industry.

Siblings Jim and Rosmari Delegat, owners of Oyster Bay Vineyards Marlborough and who own much of the NZX-listed Delegat’s Wine Estate dropped to 39th this year, while increasing their net worth by $35 million to $150m . . .

Record rebate for Ballance Farmers:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients will pay shareholders a record rebate and dividend of $50.29 per tonne after achieving an $85.9 million operating profit for the 2010/11 financial year, more than four times the $20.7 million achieved in the prior year.

The total average payment to shareholders of $50.29 per tonne includes a rebate of $46 per tonne on fertiliser purchased and an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share, resulting in a total distribution to shareholders of $49 million. Ballance’s rebate payment is calculated based on both the quantity and the value of the product purchased. This means that farmers who have purchased higher-value products such as DAP, triple superphosphate or potash will receive a rebate and dividend in excess of $62 per tonne, with urea returning a rebate of over $54 per tonne. . .

Sheep: barnyard brainiacs

It turns out that sheep are far more intelligent than their reputation for barnyard slowness would lead one to believe. In recent research published in PLoS ONE1, Professor Jenny Morton of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge and her colleague Laura Avanzo reported that domestic sheep can perform extremely well on tests of designed to measure cognitive abilities, possibly as well as any animal other than primates.

Professor Morton, who had been studying Huntington’s disease, wanted to find out whether transgenic sheep with a specific genetic defect might be useful in preclinical research regarding potential treatments for this neurodegenerative disease. Because Huntington’s is characterized by cognitive deterioration, Morton was particularly interested in seeing how well sheep would perform cognitively, since suitable research subjects for neurologic disorders like Huntington’s inevitably must undergo systematic cognitive testing relevant to the disease. . .

Hat Tip: Tim Worstall

Another question


Should Paul Holmes not ask Winston Peters the $158,000 question on Q&A this morning he could ask another:

How can we trust you?


*  the illegal use of public money for campaigning for the 2005 election (illegal at the time but not now because of retrospective legislation).

*  the lies about money from Owen Gleen and other donors;.

* he took the baubles of office and clung to them after he lost the office.

We can’t.

Joined at hip


Colin Espiner says Helen Clark is running from the story linking John Key to Equiticorp but the Winston Peters-Owen Glenn soap opera is potnetially damaging for her:

It doesn’t look great for Clark, though. It’s clear that she knew of both the donation and Peters’ attempts to push MFAT into employing Glenn, but did nothing about it. I understand why she didn’t – she needed NZ First’s votes  and could not afford to put her government’s majority at risk.

But it gives Key another opportunity to remind voters that Labour and NZ First are joined at the hip, and it’s unlikely that the reheated Equiticorp affair will prevent him from doing this.   

It is also another opportunity to ask voters if the Clark-Peters partnership will help pull the country out of the economic mire.

Neutron bomb or damp squib?


Labour must be worried that the fallout from Winston Peters’ lobbying to appoint  Owen Glenn as honorary counsul to Monaco is reflecting badly on Helen Clark and endangering Labour’s chances of re-election.

Bill Ralston  said:

Over the past couple of weeks the polls showed an increasing trickle of voters dribbling back to NZ First as their memories of Peters’ embarrassments of the last few months began to fade in the glare of the election campaign. Their doubts will now be reawakened.

It is a bitter blow for Labour and Helen Clark. They had been counting on NZ First just cresting the 5% MMP barrier and effectively slamming the door on Key’s chances of forming a government.

The depth of their concern is evidenced by the release of their “neutron bomb”.

It’s an attempt to link John Key to the H-fee white collar crime.

But the Herald story is linked to one which quotes former Serious Fraud Office head Charles Sturt saying Key had nothing to do with the matter.

That suggests it’s a damp squib.

Who do you trust?


Which of these three can we trust?

WInston Peters who says he didn’t lobby for Owen Glenn to be appointed as honorary consul for Monaco even though:

. . . email correspondence between officials in the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry shows Mr Peters pushed the case hard and gave his department a hurry-up for not moving fast enough on the appointment, asking New Zealand’s Ambassador in France to meet urgently with Mr Glenn in Monaco about the role.

The correspondence, during 2007, came a year after Mr Glenn had donated $100,000 towards Mr Peters’ legal expenses in the Tauranga electoral petition, which Peters denied knowing about until July this year.

Helen Clark who says:

“For my part, once I had heard there had been a donation I didn’t think it would be appropriate,” she said.

She said there was no issue because no appointment had been made.

Even though she spent a lot of this year saying she believed Peters when he told her no donation had been made.

or John Key  who said:

“The majority agree with the position I’ve taken. That’s because they see Winston Peters as a walking soap opera,” he said.

“I want to lead a government that’s focused on the issues that matter and those are resolving the economy, law and order, health and education.

“I don’t want to be distracted by having Winston Peters in a cabinet that is just going to be bumbling from one saga to another.”

If it’s about trust, there’s no contest.

Peters pushed for Glenn to be consul


TV 1 News has Ministry of Foreign Affairs papers which show Winston Peters pushed for Owen Glenn to be made honorary consul for Monaco.

Foreign Affairs chief executive Simon Murdoch wrote to Peters’ senior officials in April 2007 saying Peters had requested to appoint an expat of his choice as the honorary consul in Monaco.

The next day one of Peters’ senior advisors clarified that the name Peters put forward is Glenn’s.

By the end of August last year Peters was frustrated with the lack of progress.

He was pushing for New Zealand’s ambassador in France to meet Glenn over the posting, according to an email from the deputy secretary of Foreign Affairs.

The papers were only released after the intervention of the Ombudsman.

Guyon Espiner says that the documents show Peters lobbied hard for the appointment.

Glenn said in September that Peters had supported his bid for the position but Peters has always denied that.

People have to trust govt again – Glenn


Owen Glenn reckons the election is about trust  too – but he doesn’t trust Labour.

Labour’s biggest donor Owen Glenn has continued his battle with the party, saying Helen Clark once told him her cabinet lacks business experience – and the Prime Minister today did not disagree.

National’s John Key says that is proof from the horse’s own mouth that Labour is not fit to manage the economy in the years ahead.

Helen Clark has made trust and the economy central to this election.

But she is getting no help from the party’s half million dollar donor – turned arch nemesis – Owen Glenn.

In an interview with TV3’s 60 Minutes Glenn says when he met Helen Clark a few years back and talked transport she confessed her Cabinet lacked business experience.

This time Glenn’s gift was to National. He thinks Clark should go.

“Something has to change, a new wind has to blow through. People have to trust their Government again,” Glenn said.

He’s right on both points.

Labour squandered the good years so is definitely not capable of governing well now things are looking so bad, and we need a government we can trust.

No grounds for trust


Michael Cullen reckons that regardless of whether Winston Peters lied about the donation from Owen Glenn, there were no grounds for his censure or sacking.

Would you trust a man with such a scant regard for ethical behaviour to be Attorney General and Finance Minister?

Adam Smith  doesn’t either.

Update: Nor does Keeping Stock.

He stays, we pay


Yesterday Helen Clark said she didn’t believe  the findings of the privileges committee would lead her to either sacking Winston Peters or reinstating him as a Minister.

That’s a pretty strong hint that she will be unmoved by the committee’s majority report  which found Peters had provided misleading information about Owen Glenn’s $100,000 donation.

If so, he will continue as a Minister without any responsibilities but with all the perks until the election and we taxpayers will carry on paying for it all.

Truth reinforces democracy


 The ODT editorialises  about the donations debacle and Owen Glenn’s parting shot:

” . . . who do you believe and where are the real issues in governing this country of ours? Not these sort of school yard squabbles.”

It looks at who to believe then moves on to the real issues:

. . . truth in politics is reinforcing of democracy, but alone is not as significant as the accumulation of issues and policies upon which the November 8 election will be fought.

One of these will certainly be integrity, and some voters will ask themselves why not one of the issues that have emerged in this affair was first made public by Mr Peters, NZ First or Labour; rather, investigative journalism by the much-despised fourth estate performed that duty.

Mr Peters talks of conspiracies to bring him down, but was there a conspiracy to bring him up? In other words, did Labour’s leaders think it would be in their political interest to ensure his path to power-sharing, at a time of coalition negotiation, was made as smooth as possible, and did they act accordingly?

The emphasis in this paragraph is mine because this isn’t just about New Zealand First, there are also many unanswered questions about Labour.

Mr Glenn’s final phrase, in which he referred to “school yard squabbles”, is on the mark in the broader context of what really is important when the confidence of the voting public is sought.

Such “squabbles” feed scepticism about governance in voters’ minds.

The likely outcome is that everyone seeking representative office is blackened by association, and the participation of citizens in politics is greatly weakened.

The lifeblood of politics is not the favours solicited from a parade of sugar daddies, individual and collective, looking to buy influence or reward from those who would conceal or stretch the truth in pursuit of power.

It is not cash, easy to acquire.

It is that commodity beyond price, honesty.

Mr Peters has failed that test, and most regrettably for the future of this nation, he has not been alone.

And that’s the point, this isn’t just about a man who has failed to live up to the values he espoused. He’s tarnished our international reputation which has been based on a lack of corruption. He’s also tarnished all politicians by association and given evidence to the cynics who think no politician can be trusted.

Until and unless the questions over exactly who from Labour was involved, and how, are answered it will be difficult to rebuild that trust.

Enough’s enough


The Dominion Post has had enough:

Prime Minister Helen Clark’s course of action is now clear. Mr Henry has been invited to reappear before the privileges committee on Tuesday. When he does, he should bring with him two pieces of evidence. The first is telephone records showing when he first called Mr Glenn to ask him to contribute toward Mr Peters’ legal costs, records which, if they exist, will disprove Mr Glenn’s assertion that he has never spoken to Mr Peters’ lawyer.

The second is the name of the “client” who advised him to approach Mr Glenn on Mr Peters’ behalf.

If Mr Henry is unable, or unwilling, to provide either, the prime minister should sack Mr Peters from her ministry.

For too long, he has trifled with the truth and danced on the heads of legal pins. By doing so, he would like his supporters to believe he has simply been refusing to dance to the tune of petty bureaucrats and the news media.

But what he has, in fact, been doing is showing contempt for Parliament, the law and the public. Remember, it was an audience member who asked Mr Peters at a Grey Power meeting in July to explain why NZ First had not declared money received from the Spencer Trust, a shadowy legal entity administered by his brother Wayne.

Mr Peters replied that: “Everything that [NZ First] was required to do within the law has been done,” has now been shown, by the party’s own admission that it broke electoral law, to be false.

Miss Clark should call the election.

Not only will it give her the political benefit of diverting attention from Mr Peters’ evasions, half-truths and falsehoods, it will give the public the opportunity to pass judgment on his shenanigans.

“Contempt for Parliament, the law, and the public …” not to mention his colleagues, his party, its members and the poor deluded souls who’ve believed the populist message he’s spent his political career spreading.

Thanks Owen


Some have questioned whether Owen Glenn’s philanthropy was sufficient to earn a New Zealand Honour, but the Herald says  he deserved it before and he’s more than earned it now:

New Zealanders should consider today what a debt we owe Owen Glenn. He cared enough for his good name in this country to come here and clear it. In doing so he will surely rid us of a politician who misused his considerable talent and charm to mislead the public on important policies, sow fear and suspicion of change and survive on a populism that has turned out to be not only destructive but dishonest.

Mr Glenn deserved the high honour bestowed on him at New Year for financial endowments such as that of the Auckland University business school. Scarred by his brush with New Zealand politics, he might not realise that he has earned his honour doubly now.

We would have even more reason to be grateful if, as The Hive requests, he could provide some ammunition to counter the attacks on him from the unholy alliance of Labour and New Zealand First.

The morning after


Peters’ campaign opening


Winston Peters evidence to the privileges committee sounded more like a campaign speech than a serious attempt to clear his name.

Tim Donoghue and Ann Aitken Worth report:

Embattled MP Winston Peters has told the privileges committee he wants to be judged “by decent New Zealanders who understand justice” and continued to deny soliciting a $100,000 donation.

Mr Peters gave his evidence to the committee with the knowledge his political future hangs on rebutting expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn’s testimony around a $100,000 donation to Mr Peters’ party NZ First.

 . . . Mr Peters said he wished to be judged by decent New Zealanders who understand justice and the essence of democracy.

“Not bias, prejudice and pre-judgement before any of the fact are even known,” Mr Peters said.

Mr Peters said he had spent his whole political life preserving New Zealand for New Zealanders.

“This is an attempt to undo the people’s will, bring down a government, then govern alone. My enemies and an elite media have surely proven that,” Mr Peters said.

The ODT reports:

When he appeared before the committee tonight, Mr Peters did not back down on any of his previous denials – including the press conference in February when he held up a `NO’ sign.

Mr Peters told the committee, again, that there had been no donation to his New Zealand First Party or to him personally.

“The answer than was no, and the answer is still no,” he said.

“At no time was I in any position to answer in any other way.”

But it’s just his word against Glenns’ and Glenn had phone records and witnesses.

Peters just had his oft-used appeal to New Zealanders and the people to help him defeat his enemies and the media – and in his eyes the media are part of the enemy.




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