What they’ll need to do

July 12, 2014

Vernon Small muses on one of MMP’s downsides – the need for coalition partners:

. . . In Cunliffe’s case, he can be relatively certain Internet-Mana will be there.

His bigger concern is the political Centre’s negative views of Harawira, his Left-wing allies and Internet founder Kim Dotcom – and more generally about the increasingly fractured Centre-Left vote.

Labour’s vote softened measurably after the Internet-Mana deal became known. It believes that was not because the new party took Labour votes but more because it was a bridge too far for floating voters to contemplate a four or five-way alternative government.

And Labour knows – because it has already started – that National will use that against it.

It is a difficult line for Cunliffe to walk. He needs to emphasise the stability of a three-way deal with the Greens and NZ First – both of which have the advantage of being parties that win in their own right and will, if in Parliament, have achieved more than 5 per cent support. He can contrast that with National’s vassal parties, there only at Key’s favour.

Voters could choose a weak Labour Party propped up by the Green and NZ First parties with the added frightener of Internet Mana or a strong National Party with two or three very small coalition partners.

That’s a choice between instability, uncertainty and backwards policies from the left or stability, certainty and forward momentum from the centre right.

But strategising at the party’s weekend Congress pointed up the problem. Labour was stacking up its potential pluses just to get over the line.

It could push up to about 30, with a good ground game and organisation, the Greens bring about 12 per cent, NZ First would add another 5-6 per cent and Internet-Mana would add the final cherry on top. Presto, 51 per cent.

Over at the National conference the previous week, the mirror-image argument was being played out by its strategists.

Achieve close to 50 per cent and we govern alone. Fall to the mid 40s, and Labour with its allies could get the numbers. Subtext? Deals with our minor allies may be crucial, so brace yourself for Key’s announcement of deals with the minnows.

Memo to Cunliffe and Key: if you are counting them into your thinking, so will the voters.

Memo to voters: look less at what they say they will do and more at what they may need to do to win power.

A weak Labour Party would have to do, and concede, a lot more than a strong National party would.

We're for stable government.


Politics Daily

June 15, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

Torben Akel @ TV3 – The new breed of career MPs

TV3 – National too hard to beat – Craig

TV3 – Patrick Gower interviews Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig

Danyl  Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – The awful choice

Vernon Small & Josh Fagan  @ – No easy ride on the Shore for Craig

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why Colin Craig is a political fool

Scott Palmer @ Interest.Co.NZ – Election 2014 – Party Policies – Party Philosophies

Craig Simpson @ Interest.Co.NZ – Budget 2014 – Spending plan

Scott Palmer @ Interest.Co.NZ – Election 2014 – Party Policies – Immigration

Tim Watkin @ Pundit – Dirty deal dancing – when Colin finally meets Key

Peter Dunne – UnitedFuture candidates announced

Beehive

Paula Bennett – Are you that someone – let’s stop sexual violence campaign

Paula Bennett – Work and Income support pays off

Gerry Brownlee – New start for Re:START mall

Nikki Kaye – 500 schools connected to Network for Learning

Jo Goodhew – Inclusive communities help prevent elder abuse

IMP

Rodney Hide @ NZ Herald –  Hilarious Dotcom drama is riveting

Trade

TVNZ – Groser – Government may not seek bipartisan support for TPP

Education

TV3 – Patrick Gower interviews Education Minister Hekia Parata

Social Media

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Another SMOG from guess who?

Matthew Beveridge – 2014 Election Campaign Social Media Awards

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Whatever happened to Tamati’s tweet?

Matthew Beveridge – It isn’t the crime, it is the cover up: Tamati Coffey

Matthew Beveridge – Twitter Stats: 13 June

Matthew Beveridge – Twitter Stats 13 June

Team NZ

NZ Taxpayers’ Union – Government Should Say No to More America’s Cup Money

Kerre McIvor @ NZ Herald – Eyeing cup again? Go fund yourselves

Alf Grumble – Grant Dalton should forget about taxpayers puffing more wind into Team NZ’s sails

Winston Peters

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Winston’s $158,000 and the Susan Couch trust

Brendan Horan

David Fisher @ NZ Herald – Horan’s half-brother instigated changes to mother’s will

David Fisher @ NZ Herald – Horan: our side of the story

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Horan’s side

Labour

The Veteran @ No Minister – Blood sports – better than the ABs (or Cs) even

Crime

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Forestry

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Another crisis averted

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Looks like Labour’s forestry crisis is over

Other

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – If you are an MP, the small laws are really just suggestions

The Veteran @ No Minister – On The EU and the Common Agriculture Policy madness

TV3 – Lisa Owen interviews Professor Jonathan Boston and Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills


Politics Daily

June 4, 2014

John Key

Vernon Small @ Dominion Post – PM plays symbolic immigration card:

It was a half-promise. Almost no promise at all. But Prime Minister John Key’s announcement yesterday his Government was looking at increasing the recognised seasonal employer scheme had all the symbolic force he wanted.  . .

Claire Trevett @ NZ Herald – PM returns to Samoan village which made him a chief:

Prime Minister John Key has returned to the Samoan village of Poutasi five years after it made him an ali’i [high chief] and was welcomed with an ‘ava ceremony. . .

National Party

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Grassroots democracy:

Was in Mount Maunganui last night for ’s selection of a candidate to replace Tony Ryall in the . Tony’s majority in 2011 was a staggering 17,760 votes. . .

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Alfred for Te Atatu:

We met National Party List MP Alfred Ngaro last year and were most impressed by him. We’ve previously posted his maiden speech to Parliament in 2011, which was widely acclaimed. . .

Employment

TV3 – Govt ponders bigger Pacific seasonal quota:

The Government is considering allowing more Pacific Island seasonal workers to come to New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key says. . .

Fracking

Environment Commissioner urges New Zealand to “get ahead of the game” on an expanding oil and gas industry:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has found regulation in New Zealand is not adequate for managing the environmental risks of oil and gas drilling, especially if the industry expands beyond Taranaki. . .

Pattrick Smellie @ Business Desk – Environmental watchdog gives fracking final tick, seeks national guidelines:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has given a guarded final clearance for hydraulic fracturing, confirming her 2012 report that there are sufficient environmental safeguards, while calling for a National Policy Statement as a guide for local authorities facing applications from oil and gas companies. . .

Ministers welcome final PCE report on oil and gas :

Ministers today welcomed a report released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on oil and gas drilling.

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges say the Commissioner’s report is a useful contribution to the discussion on how best to manage the environmental effects of onshore petroleum development, including hydraulic fracturing. . .

IMP

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Laila the waka jumper:

We came across this interesting gem hidden away on Stuff; check this out:

Laila Harre is on the spot changing trail
Meanwhile, Norman revealed that new Internet Party leader Laila Harre had wanted to be a Green Party MP before she quit her adviser role in December. . .

David Farrar @ Kwiblog – Harre was on Greens campaign committee until a fortnight ago:

. . .If this was Game of Thrones, Harre would be a sellsword or a mercenary. How can you be on the national campaign committee for one party a fortnight ago, while negotiating to be leader of a competing party? . . .

Pete George @ YourNZ – Harré and non-disclosure of political commentators:

Laila Harré’s political associations were well publicised late last month, but earlier in the month she was posing as a political commentator without disclosing her interests. . .

Tim Watkin @ Pundit – That’s the price I pay for hating Key the way that I do:

If you’ll excuse the paraphrasing of Billy Bragg, it seems appropriate as the left leave the moral high ground for a bit of electoral mud-wrestling and coat-tailing. But at what cost? . . .

Cameron Slater @ Whaleoil – The Internet Party and Postie Plus. No, really:

. . . Now we all know that the Internet Party is nothing but a scam, and the whole process of using MMP to score a hit on Key on behalf of Mr “I’ll destroy, anybody” Dotcom, but to have it so clearly illustrated mere days into her job is rather sooner than I expected. . . .

Pete George @ Grumpollie – How Internet/Mana will appear on the ballot:

I received this email from the very helpful folks at the Electoral Commission today: . . .

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Irony: the Internet Party doesn’t understand the internet:

Regan Cunliffe reports

“Yesterday afternoon, the Internet Party posted the following tweet: . . .”

Brain Rudman @ NZ Herald: Real cost of Dotcom alliance remains to be seen:

When eccentric millionaires hijack the political landscape as their own private playground, mere mortals should be very afraid. Even veteran leftie Sue Bradford, who loudly denounced the latest game and refused to have any part in it, has been shamelessly used by conservative oddball Colin Craig. . . .

Beehive

NZ to invest $5 million to rebuild Tongan schools:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced New Zealand will contribute $5 million to rebuilding schools in Tonga’s Ha’apai islands following the devastating Cyclone Ian earlier this year. . .

NZ to contribute to the upgrade of Teufaiva Stadium:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced New Zealand will contribute around $2 million towards upgrading Tonga’s national stadium in Nuku’alofa ahead of the 2019 Pacific Games. . .

NZ to invest $1 million into Samoa’s tourism sector:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced New Zealand will invest $1 million to help boost Samoa’s tourism sector. . . .

$359m boost for student achievement moves forward:

Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed advice from sector leaders on the Government’s $359 million initiative to raise student achievement, saying it maintains momentum and strengthens the path forward.

Ms Parata has released a Working Group report that provides support and advice on the Investing in Educational Success initiative announced by the Prime Minister in January. . . .

Christchurch housing rebuild momentum grows:

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith today visited the site of a new Housing New Zealand development in central Christchurch, saying the progress on the 12 new two-bedroom apartments illustrate the momentum underway to fix and replace the city’s damaged housing stock. . .

Minister opens new Police National Command Centre:

Police Minister Anne Tolley has officially opened a new National Command and Coordination Centre in Wellington, which will use the latest technology to tackle and prevent crime and to keep New Zealanders safe. . .

Four young New Zealanders chosen for Bastille Day commemorations:

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson announced today the four young French-speaking New Zealanders who have been selected to represent New Zealand at the Bastille Day military parade in Paris on 14 July. . . .

Coat Tail law:

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why wait? Cunliffe says ending coat-tailing a priority for his first 100 days:

David Cunliffe is grandstanding over coat-tailing and brilliantly painting himself into a corner.

Instead he is now saying that ending coat-tailing is a priority for his first 100 days in office…but in order to get into office he may have to rely on coat-tailing parties. . .

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – :

In Firstline this morning David Cunliffe said that will amend the within 100 days of office, to remove the one seat electorate threshold in .

This is absolutely appalling. A Government that will ram through major electoral law changes under , probably with no select committee hearings, and without consensus, is dangerous. Labour have form for this. . . .

Inventory2 @ Keeping Stock – Has Labour learned nothing from the Electoral Finance Bill debacle? :

Those who have been hanging around Keeping Stock for a long time will know our history. The blog was started due to our anger at Labour’s insidious Electoral Finance Bill, rammed through Parliament in the last sitting days of 2007. It was bad legislation, and the process was even worse. . . .

 

Labour

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour now doing the “Have you stopped beating your wife” routine:

How pathethic. Select committee scrutiny of estimates is meant to be about spending and performance of government. Instead uses it for a smear disguised as a question. . .

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – New Ziland Labours Weekly:

It’s a photo you’ll have to click the link to see it.

Phil Quin –  Jump to left puts Labour on rocky road:

Some Labour Party cheerleaders have convinced themselves they can capture the Treasury benches without winning an election. They’re wrong. . .

TV3 – David Shearer – I’m sticking with Labour

Labour’s former leader has no ambition to follow Shane Jones into an ambassador role. . .

Labour candidate for Tamaki Makaurau electorate could threaten Treaty settlement:

The selection of Peeni Henare as Labour’s candidate for the Tamaki Makaurau seat could threaten the settlement of the country’s largest Treaty settlement, between the Crown and Ngapuhi. . . .

Adolf Fiinkensein @ No Minister – Nine years of noise with no performance:

Yessir, that’s what Kelvin Davis needs to be hammering home to the electors of Te Tai Tokerau. . . .

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Truth Or Dare: Why David Cunliffe Needs To Come Clean with the Labour left:

WERE YOU TELLING THE TRUTH, DAVID? When you told your party that the age of neoliberalism was over? That you, alone among all your colleagues, had grasped the meaning of the global financial crisis, and only you could lead Labour to an election victory that would restore New Zealand to itself? . . .

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Labour’s flight from reality:

STALLED AT 30 PERCENT in the polls, Labour is still pretending it can win the General Election without help. Bluntly speaking, the party is in a state of serious, collective denial. The most frightening aspect of which, from the perspective of those New Zealanders seeking a change of government in September, is that while the condition persists National cannot possibly be defeated. Heedless, the Labour Party continues to fly from the reality of its own poor performance. Even worse, it’s begun flying from the reality of its own history. . . .

Carbon Tax

Jamie White Russell’s Carbon Tax equivalent to 4.5% rise in company tax:

Last week, the Greens announced a plan to replace the emissions trading scheme (ETS) with a greenhouse gas tax.

Industrial firms that emit greenhouse gases will have to pay $25 per tonne. Farmers will have to pay $12.50 per tonne. This is a BIG new tax, the equivalent to lifting the corporate tax rate from today’s 28% to 32.5%. . . .

Stacey Kirk @ Stuff – Labour opposes Greens’ carbon tax plan:

Labour opposes the Green Party’s new carbon tax policy, saying the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was its preferred option.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said today his party would negotiate with the Greens on the policy, but did not favour it. . . .

Other

Lindsay Mitchell – The living wage effect and EMTRs:

Two parking wardens who will receive $4 an hour extra under the Wellington City Council’s adoption of a living wage each have a partner and a 4 month-old baby. Both say that they will be able to reduce their work hours due to the increase, and spend more time with their families. One from 75 hours down to 40 and the other from 50 down to 40.

Jörg Guido Hülsmann @ Not PC – How inflation helps keep the rich up and the poor down:

The production of money in a free society is a matter of free association. Everybody from the miners to the owners of the mines, to the minters, and up to the customers who buy the minted coins — all benefit from the production of money. None of them violates the property rights of anybody else, because everybody is free to enter the mining and minting business, and nobody is obliged to buy the product. . . .

Gabriel Makhlouf – The diversity advantage:

Thank you very much for inviting me to come and speak to you today. I’m going to focus on an important issue for New Zealand, for the public and private sectors and for the Treasury itself: our diversity advantage. . .

Matthew Beveridge – Twitter conversation 2 Jessica and Michael:

As David Slone said to me on Twitter this morning about the earlier Twitter Conversation of the day post

“proves pollies and journos can be human after all :-)” So here is another example. I have to say, I can’t wait to see why Jessica is looking up the numerology of tweeting MPs…….

 Matthew Beveridge – Social media and open debate:

One of the things we all seem to love about social media is the ability to actively engage with people. This is even more the case when it comes to politicians and parties. For many, social media is the only time and method they have for engaging directly with politicians or parties. Yet some of them are potentially sending the message that they don’t want to engage with people. . .

 Matthew Beveridge – Candidate social media details:

Ashley Murchison and I have been slowly compiling a spreadsheet of social media details for all of the candidates for the various electorates. It has take a while, but we are finally making some progress. The spreadsheet is available here as an XLS spread sheet. . . .


D is for

March 27, 2014

Kim Dotcom plans to launch his iNternet Party today.

He has money, though some of it is owed to creditors.

He doesn’t have any of the 500 members he’ll need to register the party. Given he’s launching an app to encourage people to sign up for a very small sum, it might not be hard to recruit them.

But it takes a lot more than money and members who pay pennies to win voter support.

Vernon Small writes that D is for Dotcom, desperate and dateless:

. . . Despite Kim Dotcom’s schmoozing of MPs from most Opposition parties at his mega-mansion, the last chance for a significant tie-up – at least with a party that can be confident of holding a seat after September 20 – seems to have faded to black.

Without that, the Internet Party is facing the reality of its pledge to fold the tent and endorse another party if it is not polling more than the 5 per cent threshold before the election campaign.

Would it be too cruel to mark a party’s death on the day it is born? . . .

Hone Harawira won’t do anything unless Dotcom refuses to entertain any deal with National and has several other reasons to stay clear of the dotbomb party:

They don’t have a real membership base.

They don’t have clear policies.

They don’t have recognisable political leaders.

They don’t have any candidates.

Time is short to prepare for the election and to organise the campaign.

Asking members to put election prep on hold “while we wait for the Internet Party to decide what they stand for is just not an option”.

If that’s not bad enough Whaleoil has allegations about Dotcom’s admiration for Hitler.

If that’s true then let’s hope D is also for doomed and the Internet Party will follow many others that fail.

 

 

 

 


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” – Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. – Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics – that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” – Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  –  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


Thanks Labour

November 18, 2012

Well done Labour.

Your conference was an opportunity to show a united face.

It was an opportunity to showcase forward looking policy which would help New Zealand become a happier, healthier, wealthier, better educated, more secure country.

It was an opportunity to show your caucus as a government in waiting.

It was an opportunity to cement David Shearer as leader.

It was an opportunity to get some positive publicity.

And you blew it.

The publicity has been almost all negative because your party looks divided.

The policy which got most attention was about internal reorganisation which has further destablised leader David Shearer.

Vernon Small sums it up:

Bitter conference is manna from heaven for Key’s machine, writes Vernon Small .

In its headlong rush to give grassroots members a greater say in future leadership votes, the Labour Party may have just pushed its current leader over the cliff.

Even if the damage to David Shearer isn’t fatal, it has made the party’s already difficult job that much harder.

However good his speech is today – and he was already under pressure to deliver a blockbuster full of core policy and “mongrel” – for the next three months he is the man on a knife edge.

If just 14 of his 33 caucus colleagues opt for change, the first two months of 2013 will be steeped in Labour bloodletting. . .

Thanks Labour.

You’ve provided journalists looking for a headline over the summer season with easy stories on your leadership.

You’ve made yourselves look like a bunch of naval-navel-gazing, faction riven political incompetents.

In doing so you’ve made life so much easier for the government and its supporters.


Better without MPs

October 21, 2008

Bill Ralston has discovered the secret to better election TV:

I have found the answer to all those boring political debates and interview programmes (including my own) that litter the election campaign.

Don’t have any politicians on them.

They become so much more fun if you simply have the journalists nattering to each other and then head off for a beer afterwards.

He made the discovery because Winston Peters refused to take part in a Sky TV interview with the leaders and one of his staff, Frank Perry made this suggestion to Ralston who hosts the show:

Another email from Perry: “Mr Peters will not be there. We suggest that you interview yourself – you have had plenty of practice!”

So Frank gave me the idea. If Winston didn’t front then I would have to interview, if not myself, four of Peters’ favourite meerkats. Barry Soper, who Winston had a verbal brawl with in John McCain’s office in Washington, Dom Post investigative journalist Phil Kitchin who broke a series of stories regarding NZ First’s finances that led to Peters angrily calling him a “gripper”, TV3’s Duncan Garner who’s been under fairly constant attack by Peters, and Dom Post gallery journalist Vernon Small who will never be on Winston’s Christmas card list.

It was a pity I couldn’t have rounded the panel off with one of the Espiner brothers who Peters loathes with venom.

. . . I regret he didn’t show up but the show went on anyway and everyone had a great time without him.

Maybe it was an allegory of the coming election, Winston won’t show up in Parliament because New Zealand First won’t trigger the 5% barrier. Some people might regret his disappearance from the political scene but the show will go on without him and we will all have a great time anyway.

We can but hope.


Price and value

October 11, 2008

Vernon Small has worked out the price of a vote:

About $9565 for each of the roughly 2.3 million people expected to vote on November 8, going by the two big political parties’ promises to date.

The price would rise if you added all the spending they both agreed was needed.

There is a difference between price and value, however, so we need to be asking not what the promises cost, but what they’re worth.


ETS will pass?

August 26, 2008

Federated Farmers met the Green Party this morning in a last ditch bid to delay legislation for the Emissions Trading Scheme until after the election.

The farmers called the bill a “high-risk proposal” and said it would jeopardise the New Zealand economy. They also claimed it would have little effect on climate change.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson said the issue was too important to rush.

“Our simple message to those MPs considering their options is ‘don’t rush’. As a nation we have more to lose than to gain by getting this wrong.”

They are right but I suspect their plea fell on deaf ears as Paula Oliver and Vernon Small  both think Labour has the numbers with support from the Greens and New Zealand First to pass the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Both quote Helen Clark as saying the bill is ” poised for passage” as soon as there is a majority.

That exposes the Greens appeal to the public to guide them for the sham it is. It also raises the question: what concessions has Labour had to make to get the support?

The Greens may not have played hard ball – though given the downward trend of their support in recent polls they should have.

However, New Zealand First must have exerted considerable pressure when, as The Hive  so eloquently points out, the party would be signing a suicide pact because of the thousands of jobs that would be lost in its Bay of Plenty heartland.

None of the parties has learnt from the mistakes made in steam rolling the Electoral FInance Act through in the face of widespread concerns. The only hope lies in National’s intention to change the ETS if it’s leading the next government.

In the meantime we’ll be leading the world with a scheme which sabotages our economy without making any positive difference to the environment.

Update: Inquiring Mind sums it up:

The Greens demonstrate that when it matters they are simply Labour’s per chicken to be plucked and thrown aside. A vote for Green is just another vote for Labour, they contribute little and gain no real benefits for anyone. Further, they are not Green they are just another left wing socialist group rolling over after having their payoff in some minor concessions.

NZ First simply pay back Labour for keeping Winston out of trouble.


Wee parties looking shakey

August 18, 2008

Vernon Small  says the Maori Party is the only one of the wee parties likely to have many MPs after the election.

The Greens are widely expected to reach the 5 per cent threshold needed under MMP to stay on Parliament, but have dipped under that in the latest poll.

At the moment the small parties have 23 seats out of 121 – 24 if you include political refugee Taito Phillip Field.

On these numbers, no more than eight or nine seats – four or five for the Maori Party, Jim Anderton, Peter Dunne and probably Rodney Hide – would go to parties outside Labour and National in a 123-seat House.

That is a drop from 19 per cent of the seats to 6.5 per cent.

Facing an election wipeout that delivers a near first-past-the-post election result, the minor parties are struggling to offer the electorate something relevant.

They are also handicapped by the Electoral Finance Act. Unable to spend their own money and without the people power which enables National and Labour to return to the old fashioned door knocking campaigns the wee parties aren’t able to get their messages across.

In 2002, when a Labour landslide was in prospect, voters turned to United Future and NZ First to curb Labour’s power after it fell out with the Greens over genetic modification.

At the start of the campaign, Labour had been polling at or above 50 per cent, but on election night that fell to 41 per cent.

Labour’s core support is holding up, but if the polls continue to show it won’t lead the next government it is possible that it will lose more support to the wee parties by those wanting to moderate National.

With one eye on that result – and in preparation for a possible collapse in Labour’s vote if it looks doomed – United Future and NZ First have started talking up their role in “keeping National honest”.

NZ First leader Winston Peters’ has said that National cannot be trusted on superannuation, despite Mr Key’s promise not to touch it.

Even Hone Harawira – seen as the Maori Party MP most hostile to National – has talked about working with National.

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne said last week his party would be needed to moderate the extremes of National or Labour.

NZ First has said it will talk to the bigger party “first” – which seems certain to be National.

Mr Peters has in the past preferred “clean” coalitions involving the smallest number of parties, but Labour believes his recent track record would not rule out a multi-party deal to return Helen Clark to office.

However, NZ First party insiders insist it is committed to talking to the biggest party first.

The Greens are a longer shot for National though they might strike a deal to abstain, or displace another support option for National, if a Labour-led administration is out of the question.

Jim Anderton’s Progressives are indivisibly tied to Labour, while it is inconceivable ACT would ever prefer Labour to National – though it sees electoral benefit in criticising National for being too centrist.

Perhaps this is why Helen Clark is delaying the announcement of the election date. The shorter the campaign the less opportunity there is for the wee parties to gain ground at Labour’s expense.


What is a journalist?

August 8, 2008

Cyril Connolly said: Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grapsed at once.

He died in 1974 so we can’t ask him to define blogging. But Vernon Small  is confused because he no longer has a robust definition for a journalist and he asks: 

Do bloggers do journalism? Or do we need a new definition of journalism that allows some sorts of blogging but not others …. since I seem to be blogging right now.

My answer is some journalists are bloggers, some are not; some blogging is journalism, some is not. Blogging is a new medium of communication different in many ways from but complimentary to older forms such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

All of these have people writing for them, some of whom are journalists, some of whom aren’t, some get paid for it, some don’t; some write well, some don’t; and some of what they write is journalism and some isn’t.

Small says he would find it hard to recommend a blogger be given accreditation to the press gallery. I have reservations about this because it appears to be restricting freedom of expression because of the of the medium used to communicate. However, you define journalism it ought to take account of what is done, and possibly how well, but not the medium used to do it.

Hat tip:  Inquiring Mind and Kiwiblog.

Update: The Hive has entered the debate.

UPdate 2: So has No Right Turn. and Update 3 Jafapete has too.


Digesting dead rats beats sitting on high horse

August 7, 2008

Vernon Small  advises National to keep the dead rats down:

Labour will still try to attack over a “hidden agenda” on social service cuts. But if National can keep the dead rats down, and avoid indigestion in the ranks, it will offer fewer opportunities for the Government to bring up during the campaign.

The second strand of Dr Smith’s comments – that, through a discussion document process, policy the party wants to advance may be developed – would have surprised only the politically naive.

Perhaps that is because we in the media have not made it clear enough. National is not making these changes because it has had a complete change of heart or ideology. A more centrist fiscal policy and a nod in the direction of Keynesian economics has not recreated National in Labour’s image.

It has simply found a way to appeal to “Labour-plus” voters, rather than to become Labour- plus in perpetuity.

National isn’t Labour-lite but it has to win support from people who like some of Labour’s policies.

That means once the dead rodents are digested it will find National-type solutions to new challenges. Just as Labour bought Air New Zealand and the railways in response to unanticipated challenges. Just as Labour passed controversial electoral law, with the help of support parties, without a specific mandate.

(Perhaps Mr Key, though, would like to stop citing the so- called anti-smacking law, which was a Green bill that his party also supported without a “mandate”.)

National has not had a road-to- Damascus conversion. Its conversion, under pragmatic Mr English and the even more pragmatic Mr Key, is to the political necessities that former leader Don Brash never understood.

Exactly. It is better to swallow some dead rats, get into government, keep your promises and thereby win the trust of the electorate than to spend another three years in the wilderness. That done, you might in consultation, be able to implement more of the policies the country needs. 

The alternative is to sit on the high horse of a more radical agenda in opposition.


Nat’s tax cuts

August 2, 2008

National will keep the October tax cuts and bring in the second stage of it’s tax cut programme in April next year, if it becomes the government. It will introduce a third round of tax cuts in 2010.

Vernon Small reports:

Labour’s second round of tax cuts was not due to take effect till April 2010, but Mr Key said National would not ask taxpayers to wait another 18 months for the second cut.

“They have waited far too long already,” he said at the the opening of the party’s election year conference in Wellington this morning.

This announcement was, not surprisingly, met by applause from the 700 or so delegates, of which I am one.


In the dock

July 31, 2008

Vernon Small puts the case for the prosecution in the trial of Peters vs the public.

Winston Raymond Peters, 63, a parliamentarian of Auckland, has appeared in the dock of public opinion demanding proof of illegality beyond reasonable doubt.

It is a standard of proof that might be appropriate in the criminal court, or perhaps he would prefer to civilly demand a standard based on the balance of probabilities. It is a standard now set by Prime Minister Helen Clark, too. Without it (or proof she has been misled) she accepts the word of “honourable members” – actually the parliamentary benchmark, which was never the political benchmark, unless it suits.

“Allegations swirling around” was once the standard by which ministers were judged and which had Dover Samuels sacked, and saw David Parker prematurely fall on his sword.

Miss Clark’s defence of inaction now must be that any hypocrisy on Mr Peters’ part relates to his role as NZ First leader, not his role as foreign affairs, racing and associate senior citizens minister, because it is impossible to believe that, say, Mr Parker, as Energy Minister, would survive if he claimed the legal right to have his lights blazing all night while calling for others to save power.

But because of MMP and the need for his support, Peters will not be treated as the other Minsiters were.

But “nothing illegal” is not a standard of accountability the media, the public or other politicians have ever set for politicians anywhere, particularly those who, like Mr Peters, will not address serious and specific questions as openly as they can.

It is as if he will not face accountability for himself – or apology, or contrition, or just putting the record straight, even when it is damaging his reputation as the scourge of the unaccountable.

But perhaps Miss Clark is waiting and biding her time. Waiting for the various estimates votes to pass this week and next. As money supply issues they are the last implied confidence and supply votes this side of the election. Biding her time to judge whether she is better to go into the election having disciplined Mr Peters, or as the defender of her deal with him. (Yes, National has not ruled out a deal with him, either, but Mr Key’s party also voted en masse for the so-called anti-smacking bill. And guess who is getting all the public backlash?)

But what if the public has been misled by believing a politician who claimed one set of rules for others over donations and disclosure and use of secret trusts, and has another for himself?

In other words, who is now saying: “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

MPs are not allowed to utter the ‘h’ word in the house but this is hypocrisy.

Now, I should say I have never taken it personally when Mr Peters has attacked the media, and I have always been treated courteously and fairly by him – though often frustratingly evasively, too.

However, on this occasion, abusing the media for raising substantive questions – which only Mr Peters can answer or cause to be answered – just does not cut it.

Nor does a favourite tactic of Mr Peters: elevating valid questions to the level of accusations and allegations and then demanding they be “proved”…

When it comes to avoiding answers, the man is a legend.

There are signs in his behaviour in the past week that he is beginning to believe his own legend, that all he has to do is bluster, attack the messenger and flash his smile to rise above any and all allegations, even those of hypocrisy. He cannot and he has not…

Of course, the trust fund, and Mr Peters’ refusal to engage with any questions about it, is not an issue of ministerial responsibility but is one of his own credibility with his supporters – but still an area of legitimate interest to the media.

Not accusations, but legitimate questions that deserve answers from an elected representative so the jury in the court of public opinion can come to a verdict.

Until he does the verdict is guilty of both arrogance and hypocriy, neither of which is a crime but nor are they acceptable behaviour for a Minister.

[Keeping Stock gives the verdict from another court of public opinion here]


Low wages not high prices the problem

June 6, 2008

Vernon Small asks in The Independent (not on line) why politicians and many commentators can’t find much to cheer about in the success of the diary industry.

 

What do they want? Dairy products to be dirt cheap and not in demand? And if we don’t want cheese, butter and milk to be expensive – some of our most important exports – just what do we want?

 

As a partner in a dairy farm I am biased but my appreciation of higher dairy prices isn’t entirely selfish because we all benefit from increased export earnings.

 

Would it be better if all those overseas consumers paid less for dairy – and other foodstuffs we export that are no riding high – so we could pay less too?

 

Definitely not. The trouble is that most of those who voice concern see the cost of dairy produce as the problem instead of looking at why New Zealanders aren’t earning more which would make food, and everything else, more affordable.

 

It is our white and yellow gold being sent out into a market where growing middle classes are fuelling demand and where it is not facing a European Union butter mountain overshadowing prices. Certainly these are basic foodstuffs …and consumers are hurting. So you would expect politicians to reach inside their ideological toolboxes for tax cuts, income assistance or regulation.

 

But some lose sight of the overall good to the economy behind a welter of concerns about the inflationary impact of dairy prices and the way consumers are being milked. …The overall impact on New Zealand Inc from high dairy prices must be stronger growth, a boost to productivity, safer jobs and stronger consumer demand – although the environmental impact acts as a counterweight.

There is nothing wrong with high returns on exports. The problem is what’s driving record numbers of New Zealanders overseas – relatively low wages and high taxes.

 

 


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