Source more interesting than the story

10/08/2008

I could get excited about the headline: Brash gets plum job as National attacks cronyism because the Sunday Star Times seems to be assuming that a National government is a given.

But there is nothing in the story to raise my pulse rate. It says Don Brash will be appointed ambassador in either the UK or USA by a National Government and quotes earlier comments by Brash in which he says people appoitned to such roles should be qualified for the job and not put there for political convenience. 

There is a big difference between appointing a former Reserve Bank governor to a position he is more than qualified for and for example sending Jonathon Hunt, a former MP for wine and cheese to London as British Ambassador or appointing Dianne Yates to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Board because she comes from the Waikato.

However, more interesting than either the headline or the story is the source. The by line credits Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hagar. 

If there is substance to the speculation it points to yet more leaks of sensitive information from National and once more Hagar is associated with it.

No Minister  and Kiwiblog both have posts on this story.


Size doesn’t really matter, Bob

28/07/2008

Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey says support for a small-town politician’s bid to for the presidency of Local Government New Zealand is “brainless”.

The Sunday Star Times (not on line) says that Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule is running against Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast. Yule’s bid is supported by the Auckland Regional Council and Environment Canterbury which Harvey labelled misguided.

“It’s a brainless stand as the largest urban authority in New Zealand to not think through what the job entails and I’m surprised and amazed at their decision. Local government will be in serious trouble if they don’t come to their sense and realise that the job is beyond the mayor of a small rural district.”

I wouldn’t call a population of 77,500 small and given the district includes the city of Hastings I’d say it’s more provincial than rural. But of course I’m biased because I live in the Waitaki District which has only 20,000 people and no cities.

However, all that’s beside the point.

What matters is not the size of the local bodies the candidates for the position represent but whether or not they have the skills for the job. I have no idea which of the two would be a better president but I take exception to Harvey’s presumption that the job is “too big for the mayor of a small rural district”.

Harvey might not realise this, but there is intelligent life in the provinces.


Banks to Shadbolt – keep hands off Auckland

28/07/2008

Tim Shadbolt says that if Auckland becomes a super city it would need a celebrity to lead it but John Banks isn’t impressed.

When pigs could fly and muttonbirds took up roost in Auckland would be the day Tim Shadbolt became mayor of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland Mayor John Banks said.

 The Sunday Star Times reported yesterday that Mr Shadbolt was regularly pressured to be Auckland’s mayor and he was not ruling it out. But the statement was met with a defiant retort from Mr Banks.

“I think the chances of Mr Shadbolt becoming the mayor of a super city in Auckland are about as much chance as pigs flying — and I love pigs,” Mr Banks said.

“And the problem also for Mayor Shadbolt is here in Auckland it’s not cold enough for muttonbirds.” Mr Shadbolt was ideally suited to the polar region of the country and not so well suited to the fifth best city in the world, Mr Banks said.

The second-time-around Auckland mayor said he had been elected back because he was the one to promote and execute a move to the city becoming a super city.

Auckland finds out in December whether its seven city and district councils and one regional council will be rejigged — potentially into a single local authority or an amalgamation of several existing councils — when the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland Governance releases its recommendations.

Mr Shadbolt said Mr Bank’s comments were born out of insecurities.

“I used to find his comments insulting but now I’ve sort of acclimatised and know they’re born out of insecurities.”

Whether Auckland needs Tim is a moot point, but why would he want to leave Invercargill which is growing on the back of the rural upturn for Auckland which is facing recession?


He helped racing, racing helped him

27/07/2008

Tony Wall’s Sunday Star Times feature explains how Winston Peters helped the racing industry and how racing people helped him.

You can read the full story here  but this summary is not on line:

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 advertsiements. 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.”

I don’t have a problem with people donating to political parties providing they are decalred as required by electoral law. But New Zealand First has declared few donations while the party and its leader have been staunch critics of the influence of big business and anonymous donors in politics.

The more we learn the more it looks like gross hypocrisy


19th century bigotry bad look for 21st century journalist

20/07/2008

Chirs Trotter spent some of his chidlhood in North Otago which has made a virtue of its Victorian origins.

But I don’t think we can blame that for the 19th century bigotry which he spewed into his Sunday Star Times column.

Headlined Don’t ever forget who the Nats are he lumps the members of the biggest party in the country into three groups: the cockies, the rich and the reactionaries and paints them with his sterotypical bile.

As the Party’s Waitaki electorate chair I know a fair bit about its members and hand on heart can say I’ve nevery met any with the arrogance and ignorance Trotter describes, and is guilty of himself in this column. We’re just people who care about other people and our country and see politics as one of the ways we can help both.

In my role I also meet people from other parties – I’m even related to some 🙂 – and regularly buy acid drops for my aunt from another with whom I enjoy a chat. We have a lot in common – a desire for a happier, healthier, better educated, safer and more prosperous country. The major differences are not in where we want to go but in how we want to get there.

Stereotyping any party’s supporters as Trotter has done is ridiculous, as Tumeke shows by turning the tables:

Don’t ever forget who the Nats Labourites are

THE COCKIES THE SUBURBANITES: Backbone of the nation; earners borrowers of our overseas funds debts; selfish; insular smug; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose front door looks out upon a street McDonalds instead of a paddock vegan wholefoods co-op.

THE RICH THE POOR: Creators of wealth (for others!); makers doers of jobs; robbers of rights tax; bastardisers of culture; selfish; arrogant ignorant; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose income is less more than $100,000 per annum.

THE REACTIONARIES Defenders of the faith; upholders of decent family socialist values; sadistic; bigoted; deranged hankerers after a world that – thankfully – has long since passed away.

That list is just as polarisingly thoughtless as Trotter’s.

Quite. Trotter’s 19th century bigotry ill becomes a 21st century journalist.

No Minister is a little blunter with the rebuttal, NZ Conservative says  it’s hate speech, and Jafapete  reckons it’s a slightly OTT but timely warning.


Brash didn’t lie about EB pamphlets

01/06/2008

In a candid interview, sensitively reported by Ruth Laugeson, Don Brash says he wishes he’d been a bit more radical when he led National.

 

The whole interview is worth reading, not least for the admission that the sad reality of politics is that what you believe to be right doesn’t always win elections.

 

In the print edition of the Sunday Start Times, but not on line, are Don’s answers to several questions. I was particularly interested in his response to the one about whether or not he knew about the Exclusive Brethren’s anti-Green election pamphlet: “The impression was that I lied to the public. I don’t think even looking aback and trying to recall the detail that I lied in any way at all in that area.”

 

This was a case where the media, aided by several other political parties got it wrong. The TV footage where Rod Donald thrust the pamphlet at Don and asked if he knew about it has been screened several times and each time his body language echoes what he says – he doesn’t know anything about it. I am certain he was telling the truth at the time and only later did he join the dots between that pamphlet and an earlier meeting with the EB. I accept that once he’d made the connection he didn’t handle it well but it’s not easy to explain something like this in a 20 second sound-bite especially if you feel you’re not in a position to speak about a conversation held in private.

 

Owen McShane wrote in the NBR after the 2005 election (I can’t find it on line) that he’d been in a similar position because the Greens had come to him as a consultant and spoken about their plans but when the pamphlets first surfaced he didn’t make the connection. When he began to suspect they might be behind the campaign, client confidentiality meant he wasn’t in a position to say anything publicly until the Brethren admitted their involvement.

 

At the same time as Don was being accused of lying, other National MPs (Gerry Brownlee in particular) were accusing Labour of illegally spending taxpayers’ money on their pledge card. Had the latter got the media attention of the former, the election result might have been very different.


Policy will be announced when it suits the party

26/05/2008

In an ideal world we would know what we believe in, join a political party whose philosophy and principles best match those beliefs and help the party formulate policy based on them. As a consequence most of us would know who we’re voting for, and why, well in advance of an election.

 

But while democracy gives us all a vote, it doesn’t require us to understand what we’re doing with it so in the real world most people say they’re not even interested in politics, although most have views on policy if only in a what’s-in-it-for-me way. Many don’t know, or won’t comment on, who they are going to vote for until very close to the election – some surveys suggest as many as 20% make up their mind in the polling booth.

 

This is why calls such as Chris Trotter’s (not yet on-line) in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times, and this morning’s Herald editorial, for National to announce more policy will be ignored.

 

National has policy and it will announce it before the election – to do otherwise would enable opponents to say, “you can’t trust them”. But while Governments have to have let us know what’s in their Budgets and their policy programme, one of the few advantages of being in Opposition is that you can keep your policy under wraps until it suits you to announce it.

 

Revealing all now might please commentators and other parties but there is no need for National to announce much policy yet when, if surveys are to be believed, nearly half the country doesn’t even realise there will be an election this year.


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